we're in this together

Intag Valley, Ecuador December 2017

Intag Valley, Ecuador
December 2017

Now that we’re back in the U.S. and beginning to reconnect with people face-to-face, I struggle to answer generous inquiries about our journey. I’ve experienced something I cannot easily put into words. I found it difficult to write blog posts for the same reason. 

I'm not clear on the journey, yet. Talking with other long term travelers (though, a year is nothing compared to some), that lack of certainty upon returning is common. The journey was big, complicated, beautiful and challenging. It transformed us in ways we haven't yet discovered. 

At this phase, I feel socially awkward about answering pointed questions about our trip. So, if you sense this when you ask, understand that we haven't organized our feelings or thoughts completely so it can be challenging to give a candid, clear answer. This is a phase of integration — the journey is nebulous and vast, with no clear edges. Stories arise organically in conversation but pointed questions tend to make me stammer. And depending on the day, I either feel grateful to be home or heartbroken not to be in South America. 

But, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for asking. 

Even after being gone for more than a year, we find that some people don't ask at all. Not even a, "how are you?" Which surprises us. It reminds me of when my mom died and some people said nothing. I understood it was because they didn't know what to say, but it was hard to connect with people who couldn't step towards me with a few words of kindness. I imagine for some people, they percieve something about our trip that makes them feel at a loss for words. I understand, but it is difficult to connect without, at least, a "how are you?"

I've started to consider our journey a relationship, rather than something static we did that has come and gone. It lives on in us. Just as the influence and memories of my mother, friends we no longer see,  beloved pets who've died, or other life-altering moments do. Our trip is now a primary character in the story of our lives. A character that is still being cultivated. 

Relationships are complicated, especially our most intimate relationships. There is love and growth as well as conflict and disappointment. A trip like ours required us to surrender plans and get comfortable with uncertainty, solitude, confusion and inconvenience. It invited us to communicate well with each other, often after struggling through crappy communication. But, we pulled it off every time. John's mantra, no matter how miserable a situation was, "we're in this together." Rough patches became opportunities for deeper connection. Undesirable, unplanned but incredibly rewarding. 

Suffice it to say, please connect with us by asking . . . anything. It isn't just how we are that has been informed by our travels, but who we are. It is true that time changes everyone. A journey far out of the familiar accelerates change. 

As far as updates go, we've been back in the U.S. since mid-December, staying with my dad in Los Angeles. Here, it is a mix of job hunting, reluctantly getting back into (some of) society's stresses and helping my dad get his apartment ready to sell in the near future. At the moment, John is in upstate New York supporting his mom as she recovers from a knee replacement. 

Moving north hinges on a job offer. It could be next month or many months from now. While we're back in our home country, we're not yet home. The journey continues. 

We're moving to a smaller town in Oregon. We love so much about Portland, mostly our friends. But, the city is changing in ways we can't relate to. We feel called to live in a quieter, less publicized town. After moving in and out of cities, nature and rural areas for the last sixteen months, we know our rhythm is much slower than the pace of a city like Portland. 

After we get settled, my dad plans to move up and make a home for himself nearby. Which is pretty great. A whole new set of memories yet to be made. 

Thanks for following along and for your patience as I posted less and less. Consider my lack of blog posts a sign of personal enrichment — as the journey rooted itself in me in such a way, I became the subject, no longer the observer. 

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Eliot

all is well

Hello all. We want to say that everything is great, we're just not much for blogging these days. Between limited internet service, the fast pace of travel the last few months and a general desire to absorb our experiences, fully, before sharing, I'm giving myself a pass from blogging about our trip. 

I am keeping up with photos via Instagram, however. You don't need an Instagram account. Just go to this link on my website or directly to Instagram (my feed is public) and you should be able to see our regular photo updates. 

In two days, we celebrate our one year anniversary of departing the U.S. for our journey. We have only 35 days left exploring more of Ecuador, then we will be back in Los Angeles for the holidays and then some. 

Hope you are all well and happy. 

Blythe and John

more of this, somewhere else

more of this, somewhere else

Our first date was nearly 13 years ago. He took me to a beloved breakfast joint in Portland, Genie’s, that tried, unsuccessfully, to break onto the dinner scene in 2004. He was kind, open, communicative and intriguing. This was a real person. Someone who had a clear sense of who he was and what he wanted from life. I hadn't met many people like him, authentic and wholehearted. Oh, and mighty good-lookin'! 

peeling layers

Planning this journey as it unfolds has had many benefits. We leapt into the unknown without the comfort of a plan as our net and we've made up a journey full of meaning and memories along the way. Being able to untether from timelines, itineraries and commitments has been liberating. We've been free in nearly every sense, at least from the stories of our lives as Americans. A kind of freedom we cannot explore back home, burdened by society and rooted with jobs, a mortgage and all the attachments of life, the joyful and the obligatory. 

Nearly a year ago, I set an intention to gain a deeper sense of the idea of untethering during this journey. Could it be done? Would I like the feeling of living with heaping servings of uncertainty? Would I grow or shrink? 

today's to-dos

We’ve found the place where our daily to-do list is only a few lines long—exactly how we like it. It only took us 6,771 miles to find it. On my list today is: laundry, meditation and biking around aimlessly.

1. Laundry

Laundry is time consuming, though, also meditative. We only have a few pieces of clothing, so washing occurs somewhat regularly and it requires a basin of some sort, soap, ringing out of each piece and hanging it on the line. There is a laundromat here but the soap they use is potent and makes us itch.

what's the plan?

Update as of 6/29/17: We're going to skip Asia this time and finish out this journey somewhere between Ecuador and Northern Mexico before heading back to the U.S. No end date set, likely around Christmas. 

To the people who paid attention to our rough outline of six months in South America and six months in Asia, since we’re nearing the middle of our seventh month in South America and we’re in no rush—it’s time to offer an update.

First, thank you for taking note of the things we’ve said. That’s really cool of you.

We can’t offer a set itinerary but we can offer what we’re thinking which may change at any moment and at any time—and what I am thinking as compared to what John is thinking we still have to reconcile. This is my version of our loose plan moving forward.

unpacking in uruguay

After two weeks in Buenos Aries and five weeks in Uruguay (so far), we’ve found a town on the coast of Uruguay to call home for the next two months. As our families and friends are welcoming in the wonder and warmth of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re heading back into winter. Our plans for an endless summer, foiled. And while it is chilly here, it is like winter in San Diego, California. We get rain and clouds, but plenty of sun. So we can’t complain. Or, more accurately, I can’t complain. John is fine wearing a tee-shirt in snow while I need a parka in 70 degrees.

We jumped down to this part of the world because the coasts of Ecuador and Peru, which we have every intention of getting to know well, were flooded with unusually harsh and destructive storms when we were in that part of the world. So, we popped down here and will work our way back up to Ecuador (which we saw very little of) between August and November. June and July will be spent in this quiet, nearly closed coastal town, surfing, reading, writing, biking and any other joys we can find to do.