Top 10 Things We Miss About Home

IMG_0003

This past Saturday, we entered our third country – Honduras. After two and a half months on the road, we are having a fantastic journey so far – all of our senses, thoughts, and emotions have been expanded and heightened. We are experiencing what can only be described as an amazing, life-changing adventure.

However, life on the road does have us missing few things. My Dad loves Letterman and so do I, so Dad, this one’s for you ~ here’s our first Top Ten List:

10. Subways & trains.
Since our initial flight into Cancun, we have only taken buses, shuttles & boats. In Mexico & Central America so far, there are very few train lines (the only metro systems we’ve encountered were in Mexico City and Guadalajara).

We assume this is because buses & minivans are cheaper. But, we dream of a nice ride on a good ole Amtrak train at this point. After weeks of taking minivan shuttles, we are very much looking forward to stepping on a “first-class” Greyhound-type bus to Northern Honduras tomorrow morning.

9. Reliable Internet connections.
Throughout Mexico, we were pretty lucky with fairly, reliable Wi-Fi connections. But, in Guatemala & Honduras, we haven’t been nearly as fortunate. Connections are often turned off during certain times of the day. And when they are available, it’s often as slow as old dial-up connections from the 1990’s.  A Wi-Fi connection is a bit of a luxury and we really have no right to complain. We are so fortunate to be traveling in the age of high-speed internet & Facebook. It is invaluable in enabling us to keep in touch. But this lapse in internet connection oftentimes makes it difficult for Erik to get his work done or for us to post our latest blog and photos.

8. NYC drivers.
Yes. Believe it or not, NYC drivers are not the worst drivers in the world. I would feel safer in the back of a cab in Manhattan than I did in our most recent shuttle ride crossing into Honduras. Some of these drivers (and I am referring to tourist shuttle drivers, bus drivers, etc.) will ride the bumper of the car in front, pass on a double yellow with inches to spare, in the rain and through small rivers that often overflow the roads. And again – without guardrails. This last driver really should not be allowed to have a license. Erik & I looked at each other and squeezed hands throughout the ride out of sheer fear and the hope for survival.

09-Jun-2010 13:09
 

7. Safety.
This is an important one. I’m not saying that we haven’t felt safe in our travels. For the most part we’ve felt very safe, despite what you may hear in the news about this part of the world. Knowing that it can be dangerous in some places, we do take several precautions. I’m so thankful that we’ve lived in New York & Erik has lived in London. This experience gave us inherent street-smarts that are priceless on a trip like this. We wear money-belts on travel days, and as soon as we check-in to our hotel room, we lock our passports, credit cards and any large amounts of money (including our backup U.S. dollars) in our trusty portable, foldable steel-wired safe. If we’re going out for the day, we lock up our electronics and only take the amount of money with us that we think we’ll need for the day. When getting cash from the ATM, we spot each other and stand guard until the money is safely put away.  We try to keep our cameras out of sight, for the most part, as we like to think of ourselves as “travelers” and not “tourists,” although the locals don’t really see us as such. We look up where we want to go on a map so as to not look confused and vulnerable, especially at night. We hold our valuables close and if I am carrying a bag, I will turn it around so the zippers face into me, especially in crowded streets & markets. At night, we only walk on crowded streets and in lit areas. The bottom line: be smart & sensible. It’s tough and wears on you a bit to always have your guard up and look over your shoulder. But, it’s become our way of life. And it’s necessary to keep us safe.

6. Paved roads (& guardrails).
About 75% of the roads in Guatemala are unpaved, bumpy and extremely treacherous. These mountainous dirt roads are often frequented by souped-up old U.S. school buses turned “local” buses, pick-up trucks with 10 or many more people holding on while standing up in the back (yes, we have done this). And as an added bonus, it rains a lot and there are usually no guardrails. This has lead to many a white-knuckled, hold-your-breath and hold-on kind of ride.

14-Jun-2010 17:58
 

5. Real legitimate hot showers.
If you’ve never experienced a “suicide shower” in your lifetime, count yourself lucky. I’d say about 80% of the time, we’re taking our life in our hands as we step in the shower. These showers are basically electric water-heater showerheads, often jury-rigged with ratty, electrical-tape covered wires, just inches above the water overhead. I’m short, so it’s less dangerous for me. But, Erik, who stands at 6’2″, has to be quite careful in the shower.

06-Jul-2010 19:46
 

4. Clean drinking water.
We really do take this for granted in the U.S. Most often, we need to buy bottled water, use our Steripen, or fill our bottles with purified water provided by our hostel, if we’re so fortunate. We need to brush our teeth with purified water and be careful not to get water in our mouths in the shower due to contaminants in the water. We are so lucky to have the option to drink straight from the tap in the U.S. Even the locals most often have no choice but to purchase huge jugs and install them in their homes, despite the fact that they cannot really afford it.

21-Jun-2010 12:59
 

3. Washer / dryer.
Not that we had one in our apartment in Manhattan. But on the road, we are hand-washing something almost daily. While friendly on our budget, hand-washing in a tiny sink, often with no choice of water temperature, gets very old. Lately, we’ve been in rainy places (a good majority of our time spent in Guatemala) where things never dry, and even when they do, they still stink.

2. Our mattress.
In the two and a half months we’ve been traveling, we have slept in 26 different beds. While some mattresses were quite comfortable, others had us waking up with terrible backaches and dreaming of our memory-foam Orthopedic mattress, which is safely tucked away and waiting for us at home.

And the #1 Thing We Miss About Home is…

1. Family & Friends.
This really goes without saying, but we definitely miss gatherings and time with our loved ones and we most certainly miss all of the home-cooked meals.

I truly hope that this post doesn’t appear to be full of complaints. We feel extremely lucky and blessed to be on this transformative, eye-opening trip of a lifetime. We are luckier than I can sufficiently put into words. But, at the end of the day, we have found that we do miss these things about home.

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

19 thoughts on “Top 10 Things We Miss About Home

  1. Devilish_Patsy

    I agree with Igor. Focus on the ten best things and remind yourselves that this is a trip of a lifetime. Never again will you be young enough and healthy enough to endure….later in life there will be babies and mortgages and private schools etc. etc etc. Enjoy while you can. Re-focus and concentrate on the positive.

    Be well,
    Patsy

    Reply
  2. tankdula

    Regarding numbers 1 & 7, you’re incredibly lucky to have each other. Many of us go it alone …take your anxiety about safety or missing family/friends, and double it.
    Solid post on what you give up when traveling. Look forward to reading what’s gained.

    Haven’t checked for health posts yet. It’s not on your top 10 so maybe you’ve largely avoided parasites, stomach virus, diarrhea, bed bugs, etc. Congratulations! That is no small feat.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks for your post. This was simply meant to act as a window into our daily traveling life. Like I said in the post, we are experiencing things that are amazing beyond words. And that will be covered in future blogs, but we also mention it in each post! We are very lucky to be sharing this journey together. And with all of you. Thanks again!

      Reply
  3. FransSusan

    I love reading about your trip; and no, it absolutely does not sound full of complaits. It is an accurate account of what you’re experiencing, and that’s what I want to know. I had no idea [before reading your descriptions] just how primitive life still is in that area. Wow. It makes me feel very fortunate to be a U.S. citizen, and the more I read about your travels the less I will take for granted all the benefits I enjoy. Thank you very much for sharing these experiences. I want to hear it all, good and bad.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks so much, FransSusan! I’m so glad you are enjoying our blog and that you understood where I was coming from with this latest post. We are humbled and realizing every day just how lucky we are in the U.S. while many others on this planet go through life with very different circumstances. Thanks again for following our journey!

      Reply
  4. Elizabeth

    The ‘suicide’ showers reminded me of my childhood in Mexico. My dad rigged up one of those showerheads and we often got a shock if we touchd the wall while standing barefoot on the wet concrete floor while showering.

    Reply
  5. Julie

    For all you miss these things, you two do sound like you’re having the time of your life! I’m very jealous – it sounds amazing. Suicide showers and all!

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks, Julie! This is definitely the time of our lives! There are really no words. Thanks so much for following our journey!

      Reply
  6. Arden Brink

    Hey — I live in Costa Rica (moved here from Maine several years ago) so if you want to get in touch before you come here, that would be great. I’d be glad to give you any insights I can, can even provide real washer and dryer and non-suicide shower (although I have one of those, too!).
    –arden–

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Greetings, Arden!

      We have just arrived in Nicaragua and will probably be in Costa Rica in about two weeks. We would love any advice you can give & it would be great to meet up! We love meeting locals – it’s really the best way to experience a place!

      Many thanks & please do be in touch soon!
      Heather
      heather@aroundthisworld.com

      Reply
  7. Danny

    My wife and I enjoy reading about your travels as time allows.

    I deeply envy your ability to do this, and hope we will have the same opportunity one day.

    I hope you enjoy, learn, inspire, and become inspired every day, and never let a day go by without seeing a blessing in some form or another.

    Life IS all about people.

    May God be with you every day.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks so much, Danny.

      This is without a doubt the trip of a lifetime. There is nothing else in the world like it.
      Good & bad – we are having the time of our lives.

      Glad you are enjoying our journey.
      Cheers!

      Reply
  8. Mervi Fantasia

    Hello All You Beautiful People! I enjoyed reading all your comments. I agree with Fransusan that we need to hear all sides, good and bad! Arden, how nice of you to extend an invitation! And Danny, thank you so much for mentioning God; I am doing a lot of praying these days for Heather’s and Erik’s safety. Because … you see … I am the
    Mother of Erik!

    Reply
  9. AB

    Thanks for sharing the good and the bad! Everything in life has them..even the adventure of a life time! For those of us who are can only dream of such a trip…it gives a balance to the experience. I’m sure these dark sides only make the brighter things even more glorious! Enjoy it ALL!

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks so much, AB!

      It is definitely an incredible journey, with elements of both good and bad.
      Thanks so much for seeing my intent with this post!

      Hope you guys are having a wonderful vacation!
      We look forward to meeting more of Uncle Chuck’s relatives in Bogota and Medellin!

      Hasta luego!

      Reply
  10. Aline

    I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I’ve visited a lot of my neighbours. Your safety instructions are really good ones. Since I mostly travel alone, going to the atm was really scary (you may think I should be used to it since I live in Rio, but its really different).

    I’m not sure which countries you plan on visiting, but I must say you’ll most likely still suffer with these things in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru. In Brazil, Argentina and Chile, in big towns, you’ll have decent showers, paved streets, decent internet, good subway and you’ll be able to have good washed/smelling clothes, so I hope you spend a few days in better places for you to have some relief – I know how good it can be. I think it’s safer if you still buy bottled water.

    I hope you keep enjoying your trip.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Hi Aline,

      Thanks for your comment. We are cautious everywhere we go – it’s part of our routine by now. We are thinking of going to Rio actually. Peru, Bolivia, Chile & Argentina are also on our itinerary. We are enjoying every moment, both the tough ones and the fun ones. It’s all part of the journey, right?

      Thanks again for writing!

      Reply

Leave a Reply