545 Days and Counting

“From an early age on, I was one of the Pippi Longstockings of this planet, no barrier too high and no way too far.”

180 days after I set out on this adventure I wrote about how my tent had turned into my home, my bike into my best friend, and the world into my playground. I discussed how my identity had changed from who I use to be, into the “girl cycling around the world,” and what I had learned about myself along the way. I talked about what surprised me most about this lifestyle, what didn’t surprise me at all, and concluded by reaffirming the fact that I’m still just a simple curious girl with a dream and a sense of wonder. After 365 days I spoke about how the inequality I experienced so acutely in India had made me a feminist, a young women intent on showing the world that us gals can do anything. I wrote about the hardships of traveling as a couple, something that now six month later I’m still trying to get better at, and I talked about the fact that the last year had enabled me to find and develop my growing interest in writing. And so now, 545 days (that’s a year and a half) after I pedaled away from home, I’m here to show you how I’m going to put the lessons I have learned throughout this past year and a half into practice during the final leg of this particular adventure as we cycle through the Andes.

Though on the exterior this next year of fishing, climbing, trekking and camping in the Andes will be about the mountains and the adventures they bring, it will also be an important year for Kevin and I as we continue to strengthen our relationship. Kevin couldn’t have said it better when he told me that, “It’s not going to be easy, but I promise that if we are both willing to constantly work on it, it is going to be worth it.” Though we have now settled into a routine – I usually cook dinner as he sets up the tent, I carry the money and he is in charge of our bike maintenance – that doesn’t mean that being together 24/7 has become any easier. I’m incredibly stubborn and opinionated which leads to pointless arguments for obvious reasons, especially after a cold or difficult day of cycling, and I’m quick to complain when it’s too hot or windy. I’m also very use to being alone – I spent my whole life prior to this trip very happy in solitude – so I’m still adjusting to the difficulties which arise from constantly, and I mean constantly, being right beside someone else. As I’m aware of these challenges just as Kevin is aware of his, and as we are both willing to work together no matter how hard it gets, we will continue to grow as a couple throughout this next year as we create memories which will last a lifetime.

Another lesson we have learned is that though it’s wonderful to live simply (and therefore without much money) it’s also easy to fall into a trap of spending-avoidance that then defeats the purpose of not letting money get in the way of living. I really enjoyed proving to the world during my first year on the bike that it is possible to travel on five dollars a day, even in developed countries such as the USA, because money is the thing that most often holds people back, but I didn’t actually start out with any sort of “monthly budget,” nor do I want one. Though we will continue to live simply, now that we know we only need to stretch our savings for one more year, we won’t worry so much about our spendings especially since the last thing Kevin or I want to do is constantly be worried about money or whether or not we can do certain things. I’ve found that there is a fine balance between living frugally and being too money conscious, and so for this next year, we will work on staying on the right side of that line.

As we have now decided where we are going to live after this trip, we constantly talk about the million and one things we want to do when we get back, from buying and fixing up a house, to cycling across the USA, to hunting and fishing for our own meat. Through it’s great to plan, especially since it will make our transition back to a more 9-5 reality easier, it’s also important that we continue to live in the moment as cycling through the Andes is a dream come true for both of us. During this next year I plan to work on enjoying every single minute of our lifestyle, even when we are cooking outdoors in the rain or climbing seemingly impossible passes, as I know that in retrospect, every single moment is worth it.

Besides the obvious (trekking, climbing, fishing, cycling, and camping) we plan to focus on learning Spanish throughout this next year as we really want to be able to communicate and learn from the locals, and because I want to leave this adventure completely fluent (I’m now at a decent conversational level). I also hope to focus more on photography as I’ve been increasingly lazy in that domain, as well as on the blog since it’s a project that I really enjoy and have learned, and will continue to learn, a lot from. As this new calendar years begins, so does a whole new chapter in our trip, a chapter that we plan to fill with as much laughter, fun, and adventure as humanly possible. So here is to the last 545 days on the road, and to the next 365 days to come.

You should definitely check out my 180 Days and Counting post, as well as my 365 Days and Counting in order to see how this journey has progressed and how I have changed with it.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

6 thoughts on “545 Days and Counting

  1. Bonjour Shirine,
    Effectivement, c’est important de faire une rétrospective ponctuelle pour déterminer si nous avançons dans la bonne direction. Cependant, je trouve ça un peu bizarre que tu te projettes déjà dans le futur… Acheter une maison, chasser pour obtenir sa nourriture, etc…Cette réalité est bien loin de celle que tu vis en ce moment! Il te reste encore au moins une année avant d’y faire face!

    Je me suis intéressé au blog d’un cycliste français de 25ans qui est rentré d’un tour du monde à vélo en aout 2013. Il traite de plusieurs sujets de façon intéressante et son approche est parfois philosophique. Il en a même écrit un livre. Dans son blog du mois d’aout 2014, il faisait une réflexion sur le retour au train-train quotidien, 12 mois après être rentré au bercail : http://www.lebraquetdelaliberte.com/comment-survivre-a-un-retour-de-tour-du-monde

    La vie nous réserve bien des surprises et il faut s’adapter constamment. C’est difficile d’échapper au piège du métro-boulot-dodo. Fonder un foyer, élever les enfants, maintenir un emploi pour assurer la sécurité des siens et rencontrer ses obligations financières… Prendre soins de sa santé, éviter les abus, faire face aux pépins parfois désagréables que nous réserve la vie. Il est parfois difficile de maintenir une attitude positive.

    Malheureusement, la société Nord-Américaine ne nous encourage pas à vivre dans le moment présent, à redonner au suivant, mais plutôt à satisfaire des besoins de consommation et de sécurité. Comment faire pour y échapper?

    Je n’ai aucun doute que tu sauras affronter les aléas de la vie. Conserves ta spontanéité, préserves ton ouverture sur le monde et partages tes acquis! Tu vas peut-être trouver ça drôle, mais j’ai un peu de difficulté à t’imaginer vivre de façon rangée et finir tes beaux jours dans une petite ville américaine. J’ai plutôt l’impression que la bougeotte et le besoin de faire des choses qui comptent vont te guider tout au cours de ta vie!
    Ciao!
    Pierre

  2. Je suis un fan! J’espère que nous nous croiserons en Amérique Latine. Ton audace te mènera très loin. Je crois tout de même que le retour à la vie 9-5, lors de votre retour à la maison, nécessitera une période d’adaptation… Tes textes sont très inspirants!

  3. Dear Shirine, with your background you will be proficient in Spanish in 8 weeks or sooner; the important part to achieve this goal is to stop thinking in English, don’t even translate in your mind from English to Spanish and then say something, just think in Spanish and say it in Spanish. Then ask for feedback, some cultures are more shy than others and would prefer to make you feel you did great than to tell, you should have said this instead or that, for instance.
    Another thing will be to speak a more proper-modern-International-Spanish than the Spanish spoken at a remote village or the spoken at some neighborhood, slang kind of thing, that others will infer but, is not the same as a precise communication. Now, in some villages Spanish won’t be the first language, maybe Aymara, Quechua or Kichwa depending how closer to the Equator you get, and then in Central America a similar situation closer to the coast if I am right?
    And if I can extend a little more my idea, don’t focus on reducing your own accent, I would focus instead on not acquiring a particular accent, almost like no accent at all so, all the concept of your spoken Spanish becomes more International. Hope it makes sense.
    Well Guys, just to say by for now, my best wishes of a great 2015!!

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