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.
“I know it’s somewhere!” she cried out in frustration as she flipped through a stack of twenty full size trail maps, each showing a mess of trails that slipped between valleys and up endless snow-capped peaks. They were some of the best trails in the world. “He’s like a little kid here,” she said as she held up the stack. “This is like his playground. I swear, if he knew where we were going today,” her eyes widened, “he’d go nuts!” She ran up the stairs and came back with a new stack of maps. “Here it is! Etienne was trying to keep this one all to himself!” (more…)
With limited time to spend in Europe I was going to have to think of something sneaky and clever to get Sheena to let me have my way. While Sheena wanted to walk around fancy European trinket markets looking at shiny objects and sampling candied fruits and nuts, I had it in mind that we should be spending our time fishing instead. And when it comes down to a choice between fish wrangling and lady time, lady time always wins. Fortunately I had classic literature on my side, and everyone knows how much ladies like classic literature. (more…)
The grass along the banks of the Rio Darro hung tall and still under the roasting midday sun. Below the dipping reeds the water flowed crystal clear without hint of turbulence, like air with the viscosity of motor oil. A group of orange and white cats passively surveyed the river from under the drooping stalks along the bank. They lived as if in a vacuum free of responsibility, no place to be, nobody to please. The lethargy that underscored their daily affairs was a natural defense against Granada’s heat. The locals knew this as well as the cats, and they responded to the searing heat with a daily siesta within their whitewashed homes or in the shade of the jacarandas that grow along the rio. (more…)
Off in the distance, just a few hundred feet from Nacho two camels wandered through the desert. They appeared to be wild and definitely uninterested in developing a friendship with Brad despite his desperate attempts to hand feed them a tree branch. He soon enough realized that they were best viewed from afar and so we pointed our chairs in their direction and had lunch, only half believing our good fortune.
“What do you think the chances are that we’ll have a view like this again in our lives?” I asked Brad.
“Dunno. Probably never.” He smiled. “Unless we keep going and drive to South Africa.” (more…)
It’s amazing how quickly you can get from Europe to Africa. All it takes is 45 minutes by ferry—a quick jaunt across the Strait of Gibraltar and you’re almost in Morocco. I say almost because the arrival port on the African side is Ceuta, a Spanish city, to my surprise. This made our arrival to the 5th continent of our road trip rather anticlimactic at first, but by nightfall we had crossed into Morocco and it presented itself as a world apart from where we had just been. (more…)
Having arrived in Europe is both a triumph and a shock to the system. For the past two years we’ve explored the Earth’s faraway wild places with wonder and amazement. Every time we moved we were moving into the unknown, and with it came a sense of adventure and uncertainty. Europe is sort of the end of the line on our trip, and marks the emergence from the unknown into a world that we know. We used to live in Europe, after all, and have spent considerable time exploring it. While arriving in Europe after two and a half years of exploration was intended to seem like a relief, what we experience instead is something unexpected. (more…)
We had arrived in Turkey in the Spring, and as a result the days were generally chilly and the nights cold. Beyond Anatolia we knew it would only get worse; we’d been to Europe in Spring before and knew that our experience would be, to our Arizona-bred bodies, the equivalent of living in a van in the Arctic circle. And let’s be honest, Europe is almost entirely above the same latitude as the Canadian border, and everyone knows that Canada is a frozen, uninhabitable tundra eleven and a half months out of the year. That’s why it has come to be known as “The Dangerous North.” It was with this information that we decided to drive as quickly as possible from Turkey to Morocco in Northern Africa, where we could wile away the Spring until better weather transpired in the North. But we faced an immediate challenge: we had only three days to legally exit Turkey, and we were a full three day drive from the border. (more…)