A: Age you went on your first international trip
I was 16. My parents took us out of school for a few weeks and we headed to Mexico for Christmas break. It was magical and was the springboard for my life of travel.
B: Best beer you’ve had
I’m not a beer drinker so if you see a beer in my hand, you can be pretty sure it’s a very atypical situation. For that reason, I can’t really tell you the best beer I’ve had, but I know the worst. While cycling in India, John and I ended up staying with an Indian doctor one night (long story – trust me. Let’s just say it involved sex orgies and other stuff…) and they served us a mixture of beer and whiskey for dinner. Need I say more?
Ethiopian injera and wat. It took a year or more for it to grow on me after violently barfing it all up the first time I tried it. As we cycled in the countryside, villagers invited us in and served us injera – I tried so hard to eat it, but the very smell nauseated me! Over time, I gradually got to where I could tolerate it, then grew to enjoy it. By the time we left Ethiopia seven years later, I loved injera and wat!
D: Destinations: favorite & least favorite
I’m actually going to skip this question because every place I’ve visited is a favorite and least favorite in some way. There are so many factors involved in making your experience what it is, and I realize that some places I wasn’t impressed with would be totally different if circumstances had been different.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
Stumbling into Carnival in Ecuador ranked high on the wow scale. As cyclists, we wanted to be off the road during carnival because of the high concentration of drunk drivers. We looked at a map and chose what we thought would be a nice, sleepy village to wait out the week. As it happened, our nice, sleepy village was THE center of festivities for the country of Ecuador. We had a blast.
F: Favorite mode of transportation
Ummm… do I really need to say? I’ve got a whole detailed blog post about why I prefer traveling on bikes.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling
I love the feeling of anticipation; of not knowing what lay around the next corner. Our most memorable days on the road are those where we head out into the unpredictable unknown and have no idea what might happen or where we’ll sleep that night.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to
I was devastated when the Peace Corps handed me my assignment: Choluteca, Honduras smack dab in the middle of the hottest part of Central America. According to US military who were down there playing war games, it routinely reached 130 degrees in the shade. In the end, I loved my time in Choluteca and am so glad the Peace Corps placed me there! Yes, it was hot. But wonderful too.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
One time when John and I were cycling through Bangladesh we came upon a massive, modern hotel in the middle of nowhere. On a whim, we decided to ask and see how much it cost to stay there. For $17/night we landed in the lap of luxury. It was a conference hotel that was empty at the time – except for us. It was just us two with a whole host of servants to do our bidding. After living in squalid conditions for so long, that night took my breath away.
J: Journey that took the longest
Three years. Alaska to Argentina. 17,300 miles through fifteen countries. Pure magic.
K: Keepsake from your travels
It’s no secret that I’m a bead artist. I collect beads everywhere I travel and have an incredible collection of beads. My favorite bead, however, is a dZi bead from Tibet. It’s said that there is one dZi bead for each person on earth, and our job is to find that bead. I found my bead in Malaysia and have some sort of mystical connection with that particular bead that I can’t explain. I know this sounds all New Age-y, but it’s really just the way it is. It’s a special bead.
L: Let-down sight
Macchu Pichu. We were so excited about visiting the historic site and climbing Huayna Picchu overlooking the ruins. What we didn’t realize was that we were visiting the site on the winter solstice. It was packed. We were herded in like cows and couldn’t even stop to take a picture as the hordes of humanity behind us pushed us forward.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
The same moment I realized there’s a great big world out there – watching a flame thrower in Mexico when I was sixteen. I’ll never forget that experience.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
We’ve stayed in some swanky five-star hotels during our years on the road, but they pale in comparison to the hundreds of Ma & Pa places we’ve enjoyed. We greatly prefer small local places where we get personalized attention from the owners to great big chains where we’re just one of thousands.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Doors. Unfortunately, I don’t have hardly any of them as John always thinks they are absurd and throws them away. When we visited Kashgar in the extreme western part of China, I spent hours in the door section of the outdoor market. I wonder what it is about those doors that fascinate me so much?
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I have no idea. I totalled up the countries I’ve cycled in a while ago and it was something like 30. Then there are dozens more that I’ve traveled, but not cycled. I’ve never been into the whole thing of adding passport stamps anyway.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited
Probably Dr. Cabrera’s Stone Museum in Ica, Peru. The whole area is filled with mysteries in the desert that can’t be explained. The most intriguing, in my humble opinion, was the mysterious carved stones that have been found in the desert. To date, 50,000 of them have been found, each intricately carved with drawings of advanced scientific and medical technology. Were there aliens in the desert once upon a time?
R: Recommended sight, event or experience
Pursuing your passion and living your dream – wherever it takes you. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s something you’re interested in for whatever reason, then that’s good enough.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
We typically travel pretty cheaply and keep our costs low. Things like taking a cruise around the Galapagos Islands or flying over the Nazca Lines are special treats for us. We pass by a LOT, so the ones we do choose are pretty special places.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
Señor Frogs in Mazatlan. Touristy as all get-out but boatloads of fun too.
U: Unforgettable travel memory
Climbing Mt. Sinai with two one-year-old babies. Just before D & D’s first birthday, we visited Egypt and climbed Mt. Sinai. They had both learned to walk the week before and were totally independent souls. John and I each carried a baby backpack and carried the boys at times, but they crawled up a lot of those stairs on their own!
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Only one VISA credit card; mostly I use an American Express. Oh wait… you weren’t asking that kind of visa, were you? I’ve had lots and lots of visas stamped in various passports during the past 28 years of full-time travel.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling?
Argentina. Need I say awesome wine for $3/bottle?
X: eXcellent view?
From my tent in the Bolivian Andes just outside Cochabamba. The night before dropping down into the city, we pitched our tents right on the mountainside overlooking an enormous expanse of ridges and more ridges. The sunset turned everything into a shimmering golden sea sparkling before our eyes. If I hadn’t been so exhausted I doubt I would have been able to sleep.
Y: Years spent traveling?
I graduated from college in 1984. Since then I’ve spent a total of 8 years in the USA (Navajo Nation, Albuquerque, Boise), 2 years in Honduras, 2 years in Egypt, 7 years in Ethiopia, 2 years in Taiwan, 1 in Malaysia, and 6 years traveling full time. If I can figure out how to add, I think that totals 28 years.
Z: Zealous sports fans?
I am so not into sports, so am pretty clueless. I will say I was impressed by the excitement in Vancouver last June, but I’m not quite sure what it was all about.
This post is part of a travel bloggers project. I thank Steve from You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? for nominating me.
I, in turn, nominate the following: