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It is hard for us to believe that it has been six months since we left our home in Prescott, Arizona and started on a journey that will take years to complete. It has taken this long to adjust to our new lifestyle of living on a bike and devoting our time to the study of the people and places that slowly drift by. It has been a wonderful experience and some hard clean living. We have had our share of dark times but nothing that we could not handle. The good times far outweigh the bad and we feel like we have just begun to get down the road.
We have stuck to our original plan more than I had expected. I occasionally look back at that first letter that I sent out saying good bye to everybody and explaining our trip plans. I am surprised at how closely we have stuck to that plan I made so many months ago. I believe this was possible because my original plan was so flexible. As we move into the future it will be interesting to see if things pan out as I predicted in the good bye letter. We still intend on seven years and visiting the more hospitable countries of the world. We will be crossing the border and riding through Guatemala in mid November (the start of the dry season).
We have spent less than we have expected. This is surprising because from all of the books and web sites that I have read most people spend more than they had planned. We expected to spend US$288 per week. We found we can travel comfortably on US $200 a week in Mexico and even less in Arizona. This is good because the US stock market has had a less then stellar year. We hope that when we get into Central America next month that we can live off of as little as US $100-$150 a week. At this rate we may be able to visit more countries or have a higher budget for when we arrive in Europe in 2004.
The web site has swelled with our memories and thoughts. At last count there were over 300 pages. The traffic growth is surprising and there is no sign of it leveling off yet. Every time I check email someone new is signing up for this newsletter. The writing of this newsletter is good practice for a potential book that several of you have inquired about. We are starting to meet and stay in contact with people from all over the world. I find that very exciting and one of the most pleasurable aspects of traveling.
It is also hard to believe that we have been in Mexico for five months now. There is so much to see here. There are several places on our map that we just do not have time for. Our tourist visa is going to expire in a few weeks and we need to move on. I think that it would take at least a year to fully explore Mexico. We will have to return someday and see the rest. Hands down the best part of Mexico are the Mexicans themselves. They have been kind, generous, and always willing to take the time to help a couple of lost bike tourists find there way or just shoot the breeze. I tip my helmet to these people and wish that all Americans could see the true nature of Mexico.
We have spent more time sleeping in our tent in Mexico than we anticipated. At first we were a bit afraid to camp in this exotic country but we quickly became comfortable with the idea. Now when we hear a noise out side our tent we do not think the worst but instead expect to find curious children waiting for us to wake. We have come to the conclusion that our tent and blow up beds are more comfortable than a lumpy cheap hotel mattress. Mexican hotel beds are always about a foot to short for me and my feet have gotten used to the idea of having to hang over the end. I know from previous trips that the Maya people in southern Mexico and Central America are even shorter and I will have to make further adjustments. I also bang my head into doorways and signs everywhere I go and that is also bound to get worse as we travel south.
Our Spanish is coming along nicely. I now believe that you are never to old too learn a language, it just might take a little longer. Our conversation base is expanding and locals are always very pleased that we use our dictionary and continue to try to learn. I knew that we had made progress with our Spanish when we started occasionally translating for other tourists at the hotels or restaurants. Wow! Many foreigners still have much better Spanish than we do but we are quickly catching up. If we learn as much in the next six months as we have learned in the last six months we should be able to converse freely without a dictionary in hand when we reach Panama for our one year anniversary. On the down side I knew that we had been in the Spanish world a long time when we started receiving junk email (SPAM) in Spanish. I also have more trouble writing in English because I type in Spanish words often. We are definitely changing in strange and wonderful ways.
All in all I think that we have adjusted to our new nomadic lifestyle in the Latin American world pretty well. We both are very happy and glad to be able to continue down the road to Central America.
I would like to thank all of you for the many encouraging emails. We read and re-read them all several times especially when the trail gets hard. Email is the thing that keeps us connected with the friends and family back home. It prevents us from being home sick and makes us feel like we are not alone.
We both greatly appreciate the dozens of people who have bought books or other items offered for sale from our web site. This growing source of revenue enables us to see things like museums and archeological sites that we would not other wise be able to visit without your assistance. This in turn gives us the ability to provide additional information and photographs about these educational and cultural areas on our web site. With Christmas just around the corner, I would like to provide a partial list of the online stores that we earn commissions from. You can click through from this email or our web site and anything you purchase will also benefit us :).
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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