The intensity of preparations has been ramping up over the past few weeks. Being the ever-prepared “Plannie McPlanerson” (a name, by the way, that we have hijacked from a family from Colorado who did a similar trip a few years ago – she liked to plan too!) that I am, I set out a schedule of things we needed to accomplish before we left – rent houses, get visas, get school books, etc. – as weekly assignments so that we won’t get overloaded in the last few weeks. As two former outdoor educators, we strongly believe in the old adage, “prior planning prevents piss-poor performance”. The unintended drawback to this idea was that I allowed too much time to get things done. For example, India offers a multiple entry visa good for 180 days over the next 10 years so I put that as one of the first things on my list. To complete the application, we need 2 passport-sized pictures for each of us. While this is not hard to do – it only involves having an off-white background on which to shoot the picture – I’ve been busy with work so now it’s 6 weeks later and I still haven’t taken the pictures because I have “so much time” left before we go. Perhaps the reality is that everything really will happen in the last month or two because that is just the reality of preparation – you don’t actually do anything until it absolutely must be done.
This is not to say that we are total procrastinators as Colburn tested two different packing systems (regular backpack or convertible soft-sided) with the kids during trips to visit his parents. We have decided to go with the convertible ones because there are fewer straps, handles, and various other “dingle-berries” to get caught up. They are also front-loading instead of top-loading is a key factor – you can actually see all of your stuff when you open the soft-sided ones. So – check – at least one thing has been checked off the list!
The other major accomplishment to date has been coming to the realization of just how much there is to see and do in this world! In talking about what our priorities were for this trip, Colburn and I have realized that we really are gluttons for adventure. We sort of knew it before, but our life has become so settled and “ordinary” over the past few years that we almost forgot about it. We are also very lucky that even the kids are excited for new adventures….what do you think of a camel safari in Morocco? Cool! How about hiking 2 days up hill just to see some Inca ruins? Sure! Every time I bring up a new place or activity, our family tends to respond the same, “Wow, that would be cool! Let’s do it!” You’ve really gotta love a 7-year old who says that to a 6-day train trip across Russia and Mongolia or a 9-year old who is willing to brave the tarantulas in the Amazon just to see pink river dolphins! The other aspect of this realization is that our trip may take longer than the one-year we had originally planned. We will leave it open to see what feels right once we actually get on the road.
We are also setting up our first volunteer experience. If all goes well, we will be doing a service-travel program with Awamaki – a group in the Sacred Valley of Peru (near Cuzco) which works on community development and women’s empowerment. Although we don’t know what our actual role will be quite yet, we are looking at teaching English for Colburn and the kids and possibly doing some healthcare for Deb. If you want to check out what they do, they are at Awamaki