So Where Did You Go?

RTW map latestFinally I was able to create a map version of where we disappeared into during that 9 months or so.

Comparing to our rough initial plan (to use the world ‘rough’ would be an overstatement), this map had a lot more dots on it. Although the basic itinerary (which continents for example) remained the same roughly, the exact countries – and places in each country – had changed and evolved so much throughout the trip.

A few notable changes: we added Patagonia in Argentina/ Bolivia (loved it)/Colombia (thank goodness)/Nicaragua; we didn’t go to Chile/Brazil, and we shortened the time in Costa Rica significantly. At times these changes seemed daunting, and other times they were obvious decision. Initially we thought we would stay in each place for a few weeks, and very quickly we realized it was not realistic nor necessary. I will come to some of these changes with more detail in relevant posts.

It’s once again a powerful proof to that good old saying: change is the only constant.

The tool that I used to create this map was an online tool called ‘travellerspoint’. Although it wasted me a few precious late night hours when I tried to create the map for the first time (it just didn’t want to save. Totally No stress!), I did find some interesting merits. For example, it told me that:

  • We travelled 77,279 kilometres
  • Days travelling: 282 days
  • The total distance travelled is roughly equivalent to circling the earth 1.9 times! (so we’ve got a lot of carbon footprint to be accountable for …).
  • Distance travelled by mode of transport:
    • Boat: 593km
    • Train: 1,117km
    • Bus: 3,064km
    • Car: 4,520km
    • Airplane: 67,731km
  • we have visited in total 17 countries (although 2 should be deducted as they were just transits)
  • It even allowed me to export my trip to an excel format, which was quite handy.

Now I will stop sounding like their sales rep, and return at once to the most burning question.

So where exactly did we go??

Here is a map for visual person like myself.

countries travelled

Here is a list for the more brave-hearted (of the places we either spent at least one night or as major transit stops):

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Tokyo, Japan
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
La Capelle-les-Boulogne, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Hauteluce, Rhone-Alpes, France
Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes, France
Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
London, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain
Buenos Aires, Argentina (here, bookstore)
Montevideo, Montevideo Department, Uruguay
La Barra, Maldonado, Uruguay
Cabo Polonio, Rocha, Uruguay
La Tuna, Canelones, Uruguay
Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Calafate, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Salta, Salta Province, Argentina
Tilcara, Jujuy Province, Argentina
Tupiza, Potosi Department, Bolivia
Uyuni, Potosi Department, Bolivia
Nuestra Señora de La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia
Copacabana, Copacabana, La Paz Department, Bolivia
Puno, Puno, Peru
Cusco, Peru
Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru
Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru
Lima, Peru
Bogota, Colombia
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Taganga, Magdalena, Colombia
Barichara, Santander department, Colombia
Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia
Bogota, Colombia
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Lima, Peru
Miami, Florida, United States
Oviedo, Florida, United States
Miami, Florida, United States
San Jose, Costa Rica
La Fortuna, San Jose, Costa Rica
San Carlos, Rio San Juan, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua
Apoyo Lagoon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua
Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur, Rivas, Nicaragua
San Jose, Costa Rica
Miami, Florida, United States
New York, United States
Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
New York, United States
Vienna, Virginia, United States
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
San Diego, California, United States
Pismo Beach, California, United States
Palo Alto, California, United States
San Francisco, California, United States
Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Village, California, United States
Mammoth, California, United States
Lone Pine, California, United States
Los Angeles, California, United States
Pape’ete, Windward Islands, French Polynesia
Moorea, French Polynesia
Atoll Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Auckland, New Zealand
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

[D77] Casa Pueblo – The Gaudi House in Uruguay

[D77, March 4, La Barra/Uruguay]

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Casa Pueblo is a castle/house/workshop/studio (now a public house and a hotel part) by the Uruguay’s national artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

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At 91, he just passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was almost one of a national hero, which created heated debate in the media. The house was a complex of imaginary and fairy-like rooms, forms, and curving lines. Huge, but we only got to visit a small section, the rest was hotel and private housing. It reminds me of Gaudi and some of Picasso’s painting. An interesting man with footprint in four corners of the world, in painting, film, ceramics, and, interestingly, revolutionary. There was a very well done documentary (autobiography style) to watch in the in-house theatre (another room of genius).

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Nina bit her lower lip while playing on a bench. Another small accident that fortunately didn’t last long.

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Jose, our Airbnb host in La Barra, dropped us off near the house in the morning around the cliff (great view with ferocious wind). To get out, we had to take a taxi or to get a lift as there was no public transportation back to the city center. We took the only taxi that was dropping off a client, and got another couple to share the fare back to Punta. It started to rain once taxi set off.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D119] How Has Nina Been Coping

Almost 120 days after we officially started our round-the-world trip, 5 countries stamped in the passport and 21 different beds later, I came to the conclusion that kids are just unpredictable creatures – at least Nina is!

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What I thought would be the most difficult to cope – changing beds so often in new room/country/temperature – Nina had absolutely no issue with except the very first few days in France (largely due to the time zone changes between Australia and France I suspect). She has so far slept on 21 different beds – sometimes with her own bed, sometimes in a cot, sometimes on a mattress on the floor, occasionally sharing a bed with us. Regardless the bedding arrangement, as soon as the light was out in the room and door was closed, she promptly falls onto her bed and is ready for her night. I cannot be thankful enough for this priceless gift that Nina is granting us!

But then, sometimes, in the most unexpected moment, Nina would become the most horrible creature on the entire planet. Some days, nothing but taking off her pyjama, changing her nappy and putting her day clothes on would take more than an hour, with screaming and physical wrestling. At days like this, by the time we were ready for breakfast, I was exhausted, and seriously asked Nicolas why we were doing this to ourselves.

Nina, as all other children I guess, had a natural talent in keeping herself entertained with the most unexpected objects. While we walked on the most mundane street in BsAs, she could spend incredible amount of time joyously walking on and off the steps in front of apartment buildings. Lately she is in love with wooden sticks mostly branches fallen off the tress. She would laugh with excitement when we found one for her, and even more so if we found two at once! Many times we couldn’t keep the sticks with us (well, for a 6-hour bus journey for example), she would constantly ask where her sticks, and we had to promise her once and again that we would get her new sticks when we arrive.

Talking about long distance bus trips … I was very concerned with having to going through this with Nina, as well as the well-being of other passengers. Nina was all over the place on a 2-hour bus journey in Uruguay already, and I thought that was the sky limit. Then Nina surprised us again and again – she was ok with a 3-hour one, then a 4-hour one. The record so far was a 6-hour extremely bumpy bus ride in a Bolivian version of tourist bus (reading: no air condition, no reclinable chairs, etv) – she not only endured it but seemed actually having enjoyed it.

One of the most challenging aspect of travelling with such a young child – as far as I am concerned – is the fact that you are stuck with each other 24*7. She needs other kids to play with. I need ‘me time’ for my own sanity from time to time. But the fact is that we are constantly on the move, and it’s not realistic to get reliable babysitters in a country where you don’t even speak their language properly, so there is just no escape. After a full-on day, there is still research to be done for the next destination, hotel to be booked, bus ticket to be bought, luggage to be packed, diary to be written, emails to be replied. Sometimes, it just feels overwhelming. And why the update of this blog has been slow (I’m trying my best still!).

But then it’s all made up by the fact that we get to discover the world together. And I as a parent get to witness how she’s learning, changing, building up her language, while getting to know the world with her parents. It’s a privilege that I cherish.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group

[D75] Carnival in Uruguay

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I went out to watch carnaval in La Barra – a small town next to overly developed Punta del Este. Oh!! What a surprise! Less than 10 min walk from home, there was a small stage set up on the village green. Carnaval here apparently was different performance groups competed with each other in the form of show, costumes, drumming skills etc, and it lasted the whole month of Feb. Today and tomorrow are public holidays called Carnaval, it’s the end of the carnival season. The group I saw put on such a colorful, vibrant and energetic show with their amazing costume and singing and dancing and drumming. There were perhaps 30 of them, including three kids, one at the age of 6 or 7 I would guess. In the audience there were lots of families, many with young kids, some even younger than Nina. Latino way of childhood!

I was mesmerized by the joy from the show and the atmosphere created by the audience. There was the real wood BBQ made hamburge. Mostly locals were in the audience, so the show was far from the touristy show.   I couldn’t be more appreciative than the opportunity I have to witness and be part of such festivities around the four corners of the globe.

Topping the ice was the many glowing worms on the way walking back home along side the street. I haven’t seen them since my childhood. Together with the stars above the head, they made me a very lucky being.

[D80 – 82] Magical Cabo Polonio / Uruguay

[After almost three weeks of lack of reliable internet connection, if at all, I’m back to work on the backlog – now that we’re settled in an apartment in Salta (north Argentina) for at least a week. ]

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D80, March 7, La Barra-> Cabo Polonio

As our airbnb host L. & J. were going away to their family’s summer house in Cabo Polonio for weekend, they asked if we wanted to spend the last two days over there instead of in La Barra. Cabo Polonio is beautiful, they said! And I also heard some other fellow travelers how they felt in love with the place. Yet we still hesitated a little as we won’t sure if it’s too much of driving for Nina (and us) to handle for a weekend, but decided to follow the instinct and off we went. We became the ‘portable’ guest of L. & J.

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Such a magical place that was! After almost 2 hours of drive we came to the entrance of the national park of cabo polonio, where everyone should park their car and took the special giant truck catered to transport passengers and belongings through the park and got to Cabo. It was the kind of transport that my instinct told me would be a great ride, some people even climbed on the roof level (a bench there for 4 people). The truck ride itself was fun and totally adventure-loaded, negotiating through a rough terrain of sand dune of narrow dirt road in the protected park. It was 7:30pm, the wind picked up, sun going down, becoming chilly but the view was awesome. Almost 30 min later, suddenly the truck was riding on a long beach with sun starting to set to the ocean!

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We stopped in the heart of Cabo, a upper hippie village surrounded by 2 large bays, Atlantic ocean and the national park. Some random houses, some tin roof some architecturally designed, dotted the rolling hills which gently joined the ocean. Oh, what a magical place! By the time it was about 8pm, just in time for the most magnificent sun set. With horses standing on top on the hill, it was picture perfect.

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L’s family house was one of those architecturally designed. Perched on top of the hill, it has large window bay overlooking the ocean as well as the whole village. With solar power and generator, it has the essentials (even a fridge powered by gas!), but used candle light most of time and the rain water.

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Her brother and sister N. and S. were there, who were still in uni and uni started only next Monday. They have been there since Xmas! I totally understand why it’s such a difficult place to leave.

The village would go wild in the summer with all houses occupied, with residents and tourists coming for the summer holiday, and then after the summer the place would go deadly silent. I asked if someone lived here all year round, they said, oh no except the local fishermen, you would be insane to live here, all year round, it’s so isolated and lonely place to be. But it’s THE place to be in the summer.

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We went to the grocery shop just down the hill and bought what’s needed for 4 pizza tonight. The shop worked on credit system with the residents like L’s family. They would pay the lum sum every two weeks or so. Despite its popularity, it certainly still had its village feel.


D81, March 8, Cabo Polonio.

Magic place to wake up to. Even simplest breakfast tasted great here, with such a view and such a lovely weather.

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Went for a walk around. To the east. There were amazing rock formation in pink and red, with sea lions lazily sleeping their days away. There was a lighthouse, which unfortunately didn’t allow anyone under 8 to climb, but the walk around it was sensational enough. Nina loved climb over the rocks and through the rampas, looking at the horses – oh horses that Nina couldn’t get enough of. Then we came to the north beach. This was where most hostels, restaurants and shops were. A backpackers dream place, with hammocks hanging on the a framed cottage overlooking the ocean, with gentle waves and warm water, ah!

Had choripan (sausage in bread) and hambuger and pepper with cheese melted on asado grill, it was a great and simple lunch on the beach side. The asado chef danced and hummed while cooking up our lunch, while Nina and I waited on the bar stool. Definitely the stereotype kind of holiday.

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Another most amazing sun set. Tonight there was not a single cloud and we went down to south beach to see the sunset, watched the sky turned golden, red, purple, the pink, blueish.

Then the moon. The starts. The milk way!! It reminded me the night at kanbura in QingHai. They had a roof top balcony, from where you had an uninterrupted view to the most incredible sky – whole village relied on only candle light mostly so there was only the sky and stars that glimmered. Sensational to say the least!

D82, March 9, Cabo Polonio -> La Tuna

I wish we could stay longer but it’s time to leave today and go to our next home booked.

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We maximized the time in Cabi, morning on the south beach. I went for a long walk along the beach, kilometers long, seemed endless. A sailing boat capsized on the beach since Jan and still wasn’t been able to be got out of water. Cows sleeping or having a stroll on the beavh, nobody was bothered. Cows seemed to enjoy.

Cleaned the house. They brought everything including linen, quilt, towel back to Montevideo as they brought everything in, and now they were closing down the house for this summer. Today most people would leave as it’s the last day before school started again and holiday week was over.

We took the truck at 1pm. Loved the ride yet again. Nina Fell asleep on such a bumping truck. Kids are funny creatures. Drove back to J. & L’ s house to pick up our luggage. She called the bus company cot to reserve seats for us and found out we could just wait in la Barra. They also called the new host to arrange pick up!! Really amazing host, excellent airbnb experience. And a certainly unforgettable weekend.

It’s fair to say that Cabo Polonial was easily one of the highlights in this trip so far.


P.S: to follow our RTW experience: Trilingual Family blog, or join Trilingual Family facebook group