End of July 2014, Jenine and I left San Francisco in a rental camper van (we wouldn’t get Titus until September) heading north to Canada to start our Pan American adventure together.
It felt like an easy decision to do this at the time. We were ready to try something new. Life was moving quickly, and it felt like if we didn’t take a step back to explore what’s outside of SF and inside ourselves, life was going to keep rushing us forward in a path that we’ve never really questioned. Everything probably would have been great. We both had good jobs, amazing friends and a comfortable life in one of the best cities in the world. But we wanted a family soon and if we didn’t take some time to reflect on what else we wanted in life long term, we would have followed the logical next steps: buying a house, focusing on getting more responsibility in our careers and figuring out how to raise a family in the one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Instead, we sold everything and left in a van. One year later we’ve driven nearly 20K miles through Canada, Mexico and Central America, and today we are in Colombia, our favorite country of our trip. That’s not to say we haven’t made a big sacrifice and added a huge degree of uncertainty to our lives. We’ve set ourselves back in lost wages, savings and expenses like our fancy van. We are unsure what our career prospects be like once we return to work; will a company like Google be keen to hire me again? Or maybe it’s time we start our own business. We don’t know where we are going to live next year and housing prices in San Francisco increased 30% last year. But even with all this uncertainty, we are happy today, we trust in our abilities (a confidence that has grown on the road), and know that everything will work itself out.
Over the past year we’ve gotten to know 7 new countries. We’ve faced our fears about travel to unknown places and really learned how cool it is to thrive in uncertainty (like where are we gonna sleep tonight?).
We’ve done some cool things along the way. Jenine is now a certified Yoga instructor, I’ve gone from a fairly novice surfer, to someone who has fun in overhead waves and most importantly I hope I’ll be surfing until the day I die (logged hundreds of hours so far at over 45 different breaks from Canada to Colombia – data thanks to my surfing journal). We’ve done over 200 hours of Spanish lessons and we can speak reasonably well. We’ve done stunning hikes and seen more beaches that look like postcards than we can count. We’ve kept up this blog, and Jenine is getting better at photography.
We feel healthier than ever. We consume and spend WAY less (our budget is 15% of what we spent living in SF and we rarely buy new things – we found that we don’t need much “stuff” to be happy). We sleep well and meditate every morning. Jenine makes sure we eat better in the van than any restaurant I’ve been too. I drink a fraction of the alcohol I used to and we go to bed almost every night before 11pm. Jenine and I are closer than ever, and we discuss things that we’ve never talked about in the 8+ years we’ve been together. We still have our fights and annoy each other at times, but we have learned more about each other and we appreciate each other’s strengths more than ever. I’m the hyper, plan-changing dreamer, Jenine gets the details right to make sure we make it:)
We have a lot of time to reflect and consider what’s next for us. And for right now, what’s next is exploring South America which we already know we are going to love. In 6-8 months maybe we’ll be back in SF looking for work and a new house, but by then we’ll have accomplished things that we might never have taken time to do. Or maybe we’ll find a place where we can carve out a life for ourselves here in South America. Either way, we are very grateful we get to be on this journey together.
Back to Colombia, the country we already love so much! After getting our truck out of shipping, we headed north along the Caribbean coast to find some excellent beach camping and chill surfing. We had a week to kill before our friend Johnny came to visit us (next post), and we found the perfect place to call home; CasaGrande Surf camp outside of Santa Marta.
The camp is run by another George, who’s son is a promising young Colombian surfer, and he found us a wonderful camp site on the beach. Additionally, we got our first experience of how amazing the people of Colombia are. All day people would come over to talk to us, to welcome us to their country, and to ask us questions and to give us advice. We’ve never experienced hospitality like that anywhere, and it would continue throughout our trip.
Besides the great beach camping. We did two awesome hikes into Tayrona National park and one up a beautiful waterfall behind our camp.
Here’s to another year, exploring South America. So far Colombia has energized us, and we are more excited than ever to keep on truckin!