It’s been two years since we returned to the US and posted about our adventures. We settled back in to our old life – our old house, the kids at their old school, my old work – and yet everything was different, not in a tangible way, but more like a rub in your shoe that you can only feel after many miles. It was a subtle but constant irritation. A whole year passed waiting for the feeling to either be identified or subside. Then, while on spring break in Moab last year, we sat together as a family in our trailer, completely comfortable for the first time since we returned. There was a sense of peace that had been eluding us for many months. As we discussed our situation, we realized that as odd as it may seem, the settled life had been making us feel unsettled. Each of us was yearning for something different than the supposedly comfortable routine in to which we had slipped.
As we discussed our options, it became clear that although we missed traveling immensely, we did not want to repeat the sustained break-neck pace we endured last time. Thirty nine countries in two years required far too many transitions – different languages, different cultures, different expectations. Mac commented that he would like to be able to spend more time in the communities we had only visited before, helping out if we could. Lucia wanted to spend longer in each place so we could know more about the entire area rather than only seeing the highlights. Colburn and I wanted to be able to use our professional skills yet not be tied down to a 50-week-a-year job.
While the plan was not fully solidified that week, we came home with a commitment to doing what was need to go traveling again. Within a month of making the decision, we sold the big house that required near constant attention and care and moved in to one that can be left with only the turn of a key. We have spent the entire past year down-sizing our life – selling our beloved Sylvia, the trailer in which had been our home for two cross-country trips and in which we made the decision to go loose again. We traded our gigantic Toyota Sequoia for a used Tacoma truck that can be fixed anywhere in the world. We sold our rental home so that we won’t have to deal with a home as old as me either. We found new homes for our martial arts floor pads, a fancy but very large desk-top computer, used single mattresses we no longer need and a myriad of other things that were weighing us down – both literally and figuratively. We have spent the entire past year extracting ouselves from under what Lucia called our ‘big life’ and the burden of too many things and too many demands.
Now that we are living smaller life, what is the plan? We have decided that we really didn’t get to see nearly enough of Africa so are heading back there as our first destination. We will ship our truck so that we will have a home on the road as well as the flexibility of going where we want. The general plan is to drive from Dar es Salaam Tanzania to Tofo Beach, Mozambique then on to Cape Town South Africa – about 11,000km or so in total.
Colburn has been cultivating a relationship with Level-Up Village, an educational company that connects schools in the U.S. and U.K. to international partners so that students can work collaboratively (through internet-based interactions) on STEM projects with their peers abroad. He will be mentoring the global partner faculty as they learn to navigate the systems and technology. I have found several options for being a visiting professor or volunteer teacher at nursing schools in Uganda and elsewhere. Since will be doing a combination of road-schooling and online classes for the kids, we would like for them to have active volunteer opportunities as well. To this end, we have made a connection with Underwater Africa, a marine megafauna conservation and research program in Mozambique which will allow the kids have an active role in one of their ongoing projects. Local Oceans Trust in Kenya has a turtle conservation program which has also agreed to have the kids be part of their program. We will see what else can happen as we finalize our plans, but for now we are excited to be actively planning again. There is a big map of Africa on our wall with post-it notes indicating places where we want to go. We are updating passports, gathering necessary documents, getting vaccines boosted, developing a medical kit, terminating cell phone contracts, buying international sim cards, figuring out how to renew the truck registration when we are a half a world away, and settling a myriad of other details.
So, that is our plan. We will once again be on the road for an undetermined amount of time. We anticipate for being gone for least the the next 9 to 12 months but then will come back to the U.S. for an extended period to regroup and decide on future locales. Circumnavigating Australia and New Zealand for the following year is a definite possibility as is an overland drive from the United Kingdom through Central Asia to China or a North-through-South America jaunt.