Thursday, December 15, 2016

It's Been a Journey

It's our last night of our world journey and tomorrow we fly home to Toronto. It's hard for us to realize that it's really ending! We've been gone 343 days, visited over 30 countries, clocked over 60,000 air miles, thousands of road and nautical miles and probably a hundred miles of hiking! We visited 6 continents and stopped in Ushuaia, the city closest to the 7th continent (Antartica).  It was an absolute gift to have been able to take this trip.

What was the best part? Well, every country has a different story for us and here are some highlights that really made an impact:

Antigua- Guatemala
We started our journey in Guatemala, a third world country. To see it was totally different than just reading about it in books and newspapers. I took a picture of this girl that really got us thinking:

We've spent most of our lives in Canada and the U.S. and didn't really know what it was like to live in sub-standard conditions. This little girl left a lasting impression on us and started us thinking of how we can- in our own little way going forward- help the less fortunate.

Galapados Islands- Ecuador
The different animals astounded us:

This happy-looking Iguana was coming after me for what I truly believe was his lunch!

Machu Picchu- Peru
We climbed the Huayna Picchu mountain right beside the Inca ruins:

In this pic I wasn't wearing my glasses. I deliberately took them off about 2 minutes into the climb as I was scared shitless of the height and lack of safety going up. Even at the top there was no room to sit other than on a cliff. I sincerely thanked God for letting me survive this treacherous 2 hour climb. It also reinforced me to be good and pray every day for the rest of my life.

El Tombo Penquin Rookery- Argentina
This is a real, special place:

There are over 200,000 of these birds nesting annually here and the sound was so loud you could hardly hear with the penguin noise!

Iquazu Falls- Argentina and Brazil
These falls border the two countries and are double the size of Niagara:

Stunning and breath-taking.

Monkeys Stealing our Food in Rio de Janeiro 

We're in the second largest city in Brazil and we have monkeys outside our villa. We thought we had everything 'locked down' in our kitchen. Who would have thought that monkeys eat raw pasta!

Fez, Morocco
This was almost out of a fairy tale:

Just seeing over 400,000 people living life with customs from centuries ago gave us a new meaning to the word 'history' and how important it is to people.
Sahara Desert- Morocco
We thought we didn't need a turban going into the dessert:

But we had sand in every orifice you could imagine. 

Pyramids and Temples- Egypt

Just to think that 3,500 years ago there was civilization of such grandeur- it took our breath away.

Touring Turkey, Then Getting Out
Turkey has an exceptional history and they have preserved a lot:

Cappadocia was fascinating to see by balloon and the ancient homes carved in the calcified rocks from volcanic ashes. However, with the government situation we were so glad to get out of the country the day after the bombs killed so many people at the airport. The country has gotten worse day by day since we've been there.

Safari- Tanzania 
Without doubt, the highlight of our journey:

The animals we saw were magnificent! If you ever thought there wasn't a God, please explain the magnificence of the animal kingdom.

Cape Town- South Africa
The Nelson Mandela Museum on Robin Island really impacted us:

He lived his life for his fellow blacks to attain equality with whites. We were humbled by the life of this man and how he kept his cool for the betterment of the nation.

We were told in advance that this place was unlike anything else on the planet:

The poverty that we saw made us almost cry. But it wasn't poverty as it was how over a billion people live.

Throughout Our Trip- All the Different Mosques, Buddhist and Hindu Temples
Starting in Morocco and across Africa and Asia to Singapore, we saw hundreds if not thousands of mosques, temples and shrines:

As Christians, we represent almost a third of the world's religious beliefs. But Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism customs and beliefs are lived by about half the planet. We might not agree with arranged marriages or multiple wives or a tooth for a tooth, but these practices have survived thousands of years and will stay for at least a few more centuries... hopefully in harmony and peace.

We were there during the earthquake and it was stunning to see the destruction it had on the temples and stupas:

Hopefully the government will realize how precious these structures are and spend the money to properly fix them for future generations. They have some stunning treasures.

The country and the people are fabulous:

It was interesting to talk to the Vietnamese on their pursuit of wealth in a communist country.

Cambodia and the Killing Fields
Nothing prepared us for what we saw:

This was politics gone crazy; how wrong the world was to let this happen.

Bali and Singapore
It was so special that our daughter Becky made the trip over to Bali and Singapore in October:

Let's just say there will probably be a yoga mat under the Christmas tree!

Great Barrier Reef- Australia
All of Australia was terrific but this was extra special:

Cathy doesn't usually get into a bathtub unless it's near boiling! I'll always remember her not wanting to come out of the water when we were at the reefs.

Sydney's Opera House
It is a magnificent structure:

This is one of the most stunning architectures ever.

Picturesque New Zealand
People who have visited New Zealand have raved about the beauty that this country offers and we absolutely agree:

The only downside was the lack of road signage; you almost needed to know exactly where you're going and how to get there to get around.

Very picturesque with Mount Fuji in particular being spectacular:

And the Atomic Bomb War Memorial Site was extremely impactful and moving:

Even though we were told before going to Japan that there was little English, we were still surprised at the limited use compared to everywhere else in the world. But we survived quite nicely indeed! The Japanese people are very friendly and helpful which made for a wonderful time.

All the Different Food!
We spent 343 days eating outside of Canada. Most of the food was absolutely delicious but some food we really didn't know what we were eating:



We ate all kinds of new food. Sometimes we just had to point at pictures (especially Japan) and hoped it was good (99% of the time it was).

And most important, we're still together and talking to one another!!
Through it all, our marriage survived. It's wonderful being married but it's quite another kind of togetherness being literally side by side for 24 hours a day, day in day out- for a whole year! Believe it or not, we can honestly say that the journey has strengthened our already wonderful marriage.

We're glad to be coming home and getting back with friends and family. And we wanted to end this with a special thanks to you for reading this blog on our journey. We really enjoyed staying in touch with you and allowing us to share it in this way.