At the end of 2011 we quit our jobs and set off in our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, "Nacho". Our plan? To circumnavigate the globe, slowly, while discovering culture, food, recreation, and emergency roadside Volkswagen maintenance. We are Brad and Sheena. Just wingin' it.
Almost two years ago when Europe still felt like a world away we were contacted by a fellow Volkswagen owner and mechanical engineer from Turkey, interested in obtaining a copy of the CAD file that Brad made of Nacho’s body, which he had used to design our cabinets. Eren, after receiving the file, invited us to his home for tea if we ever happened to pass through his city of Ankara on our world tour. (more…)
From the moment we set foot in Istanbul it felt like we had fallen into a love affair of sorts. It didn’t matter that we had unknowingly stationed ourselves for the next month in Balat, or Little Tehran as it’s known, Istanbul’s most traditional Muslim neighborhood. It took us a while to come to this realization but Balat was quite literally like no other neighborhood in the city. Our apartment was directly on its fringes; one block downhill put us in a rather typical Istanbul setting while one block uphill was a scene plucked right out of the Middle East. Women flowed down the cobblestoned streets in shapeless black burkas, their eyes and noses peeking out of small triangular openings in the fabric while their fathers, brothers and partners wore sported thick beards and dressed in long gray trench coats and finely embroidered flat-topped hats. (more…)
About a year and a half ago we got an email from someone in Pakistan inviting us to Islamabad when we passed through the Middle East. He was with the VW club of Pakistan, and had been following our trip through the Americas. When we got to Islamabad, he said, there would be a big community of friends waiting. We would have families to stay with in any major city in Pakistan, they would organize a club outing to the mountains when we arrived, they’d show us the best food and adventure drives in the area, and they even offered to give Nacho a new paint job. Sign me up! Ever since then we’ve anxiously looked forward to Pakistan. (more…)
At last we arrived in Mumbai, the planned termination of our Indian adventure. Lo and behold, as we wound our way into town, we were pulled over by a cop. Indian cops are nothing more than common criminals, and this one fit the stereotype to a T. After pulling us over in thick Mumbai traffic he got off of his motorcycle and waddled over to my window, his mustache like a smudge of barbecue sauce on his bulbous face. He quickly got to the point that we had committed a heinous crime. (more…)
After the Indian wedding we skipped town and headed for the deserts of Rajasthan. We made a pit stop at the Taj Mahal near Agra, a building said to be the most impressive ever built. It was impressive, I will say, and the attention to detail and scale were remarkable, but to say it is the most impressive building in the world is a bit of a stretch. The inside of the building is plain and small, and the overall size pales in comparison to many. For those who have been to Saint Peter’s in the Vatican City, or the Duomo in Milan, the Taj Mahal will seem somewhat humble. Still, once past the relentless touts and camel drivers that surround the complex, the Taj Mahal was a real treat. Perhaps equally interesting was the Red Fort, only a few kilometers away in Agra. (more…)
As seems to happen to us from time to time, we have fallen grossly behind on our blog. As the days and weeks pass, the interesting things keep piling up and eventually we become as we are now, struggling to catch up to the present. So much happened in Nepal that we couldn’t get ourselves to stop dwelling on and writing about them, meaningful things that changed the way that we will think and live. Much of this came from weeks spent living with our surrogate family in the Kathmandu suburb of Dobighat. (more…)