Ayudame!

How do you handle emergency situations?  Me…not so well.

On a trip to the Italian Dolmites, then 7-year-old Sean fainted at the top of a high mountain pass and I screamed “Ayudame!  Ayudame!” into the faces of calm, disinterested Italians. As the guidebooks warn that the altitude can be difficult for the young or old, I imagine a fainting tourist was a common occurrence.  It probably did not help matters that I was screaming in Spanish, not Italian.  Whoops.

Thus part of our trip preparation is a first aid and CPR class for the four of us.

The hope is that between all of us, one will think clearly to act if we’re in an emergency situation.  History has proven that likely it won’t be me.

Passo Sella, Italy

Passo Sella, Italy

Meet Fancy

Turtle.  Pickle.  Froggie.  Esmeralda.  Cricket.  And fancy…as in footloose and fancy free.

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These were the name suggestions for my new appendage…my Osprey Aura 65 backpack.  Hard to imagine that I’ll carry everything I need in here for eight months.   Not so fancy.

From this to a 65 liter pack...bring it on!

From this to a 65 liter pack…bring it on!

Is It a Mid-Life Crisis?

Reactions to our trip among friends, family and colleagues have been mixed.  We are fortunate that we have a wonderfully supportive extended family.  Thus hints of disapproval are subtly displayed…perhaps in a nervous smile or quizzical look.  I read through the lines concern for the kids – one of whom particularly does not adapt well to change.

In the end, there are many reasons NOT to take this trip…just a few:

  • Work
  • School
  • Aging Family Members
  • Beloved Dog
  • Newly Remodeled House
  • Money
  • Fear

What’s helped propel me forward?  Knowing that I have yet to read of a family who has done this who hasn’t said it was the most amazing family experience.  My kids live a blessed life – they are loved and they want for not.  I’d like to show them a world without shopping trips to the mall (I will be secretly thrilled to never have to enter another Justice store again!), the quest for the next video game system, and pleas to go to Menchie’s.

And it’s not as if Kyle and I aren’t immune from the accumulation of stuff – we are just as guilty.  Case in point, Michael Kors shoes that I’ve worn only once because they nearly crippled me.

ouch

ouch

One of my siblings spent last year teaching in South Korea and he took this picture while traveling in Vietnam.  Ahhh, perspective.

Abe in Vietnam

Abe in Vietnam

This is not a mid-life crisis.  It’s personal evolution.

Eight Months, Eight Countries

And so it begins!  A family of four headed to Japan-Thailand-Vietnam-Laos-Peru-Bolivia-Chile-Argentina.  A trip of a lifetime.  Why are we doing it?  Our twins will be eleven years old in February.  They are hurdling into tweenhood.  The desire to slow the clock, quiet the tick tock of the daily grind and expand all of our horizons beckons.

Originally each family member picked their most desired location — for Kyle it was Japan, for me Slovenia, Julia chose Greece and Sean chose the Silverwood theme park in Idaho.  Yes, really.  In the end, only Japan made the list because it gave Kyle the opportunity to explore Japanese woodworking to expand his recent fine furniture making education.

Beyond Japan, it was important to visit countries that would test our comfort zones, expose us to completely different cultures and not break the bank.  There are roughly 195 countries in the world and we’re only visiting eight!  We may squeeze a few more in however its important (to us) to have time in each country to better immerse in the culture.  Plus the kids will need time each week to address their school work.

We’re in fierce planning mode — eight month countdown!