📍 We’re not in South America anymore.
Welcome to the Spring 2019 Travel Update on Roaming Around the World, where we’ll elaborate on where in the world we are now and pictured below. Does anyone recognize this skyline?
Since our Winter Travel Update, way back in December, there’s been lots of roaming going on and we’re just now beginning to catch our breaths again. With a change of seasons and a change of continents, it seems like the perfect time to fill everyone in on what we’ve been up to and where we’re roaming next.
When we wrote that last travel update in December, we actually had no intentions whatsoever of traveling to Ecuador. Yet those of you following along this journey on our Facebook Page and Instagram feed are already well aware that’s exactly where we spent the bulk of 2019 so far. And what a great time!
This travel update gives a look behind the scenes into our nomadic lives, how we wound up in Ecuador, the many twists & turns along the way, and where we’re roaming next!
Recapping Our Recent Roaming
It sure doesn’t seem like it, but we’ve actually been to ten different countries in the past four months. We’ve managed to stay within the same few degrees of longitude, yet have covered a distance of over 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) in between Fort Lauderdale and Bogota. During this journey, we even crossed the equator a total of ten times along the way!
To move around, we used:
🚗 4 one-way rental cars,
✈️ 2 flights,
🚢 1 cruise ship,
🚌 35 buses,
🚶5 days of trekking between destinations,
🚂 2 scenic trains,
🚕 2 long-distance taxis, and
🚲 1 day of cycling.
In the process, we’ve changed locations an average of every four days, despite spending two-thirds of this time within one single country, Ecuador. It’s once again been quite the whirlwind!
Cruising Into Our 6th Year of Roaming Around the World
During 2018, we marked a major travel milestone completing our affordable world cruise by circumnavigating the globe using only public transport overland in combination with cheap repositioning cruises to get across the world’s oceans. You’d think by the end of the year, we’d had enough time at sea. But nah, we’re totally addicted to that sweet cruise life.
Cruises offer us a true vacation in between our travels. We love it. So when we saw a last-minute deal on an awesome two-week Caribbean itinerary with seven ports we’d never been to before, we simply had to pounce on it. What essentially amounted to about $30 per person, per day inclusive of gratuities and everything, it would’ve likely cost us more stay in Florida and forgoing the cruise.
So that was among the easiest travel decisions to make during the past four months.
We literally booked the cruise three days before it was setting sail and quickly packed our bags. It was a Christmas present to each other, and it was fantastic. In the midst of spending several weeks back in the US bouncing around between our families during the holidays, this eastern Caribbean itinerary on Holland America’s Koningsdam was just the getaway we needed.
And it was during this cruise, we reached another milestone. December 15th marked our 5th travelversary since we began this crazy nomadic existence we continue to live out.
So this cruise took us right into our sixth year of nonstop travels! For us, part of the beauty of cruising is being able to sample different places to see what we like. And we had some clear favorites coming out of this cruise. So what was our favorite port?
Each island we visited had its own charm and appeal, from the French port of Martinique to the Dutch port of St Maarten and many islands in between.
Barbados got us into the island rhythm. With beautiful beaches, a Unesco-listed city center, and shipwrecks we could snorkel to from shore, Barbados was certainly among our favorite stops.
Dominica was a beautiful diversion away from the typical Caribbean beaches, that instead transported us into the raw nature that abounds on throughout the island nation. After all, that’s why they call Dominica the “Nature Island.” And it totally lived up to its nickname.
But if we had to pick one absolute favorite, there’s no question it would be Saint Lucia. This is an island we’ll be coming back to spend more time. All the St Lucians were so friendly and welcoming. Children played cricket on the beach, women lit coals on the BBQ grill, men hauled in their catch to the grills, while others had already begun drinking at the ramshackle rum bars dotting the coastline. This is our type of place!
But those local charms were only pleasant distractions to St Lucia’s natural beauty. This place is gorgeous! Even upon departing the island, scenic cruising led us right past the island’s famous Pitons, two volcanic spires dramatically rising up side by side from the sea. And beyond those palm laden shores is a whole ‘nother beautiful underwater world to discover, teaming with tropical fish. Make no mistake, we will be back to this paradise known as St Lucia.
But Saint Lucia is not where we are right now.
I’m getting to that.
A Change of Plans: Returning to Ecuador
When we embarked on that cruise in mid-December, we had absolutely no intentions to travel to Ecuador just a few weeks thereafter. We had instead been considering a few different travel ideas to kick off the new year. South America was nowhere on our radar.
Actually, we were heavily considering a return to Cuba, after having last visited in 2015. We were also contemplating the idea of exploring some new places in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula that we’ve yet to make it to. As such, we began to formulate a Cuba-Yucatan trip to begin our roaming in 2019. On the day our cruise was departing, we almost booked a January flight to Havana, to lock in the inexpensive ticket while it was still available.
But before pulling the trigger on this proposed Cuba itinerary, I simply had to see what other flight deals may be out there. It was on this same day of embarkation when I spotted a cheap flight that would get us back to South America. We simply couldn’t ignore the $99 ticket that would get us all the way from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
(By the way, that flight deal is still around. Actually, prices now start at $92 + baggage fees. So if you’re looking for a cheap ticket to South America, this is it! JetBlue has competitive rates on this route too. Take a look on Google Flights.)
So, as we packed for the cruise port, we never bought that flight to Havana. Instead, we spent the next few sea days cruising across the Caribbean and heavily deliberating these two appealing travel options.
But Ecuador was calling.
We’d spent three months in the country back in early 2017 and really enjoyed it. With some online projects to catch up on during the start of the year, we figured that a slow roll through Ecuador would be more conducive to our online activities, rather than the Internet challenges we’d face during a Cuba trip.
We also prefer cool weather to hot climates, and we tend to prefer mountains over beaches. The thought of being back in the Andes was an intriguing idea that was tugging on us to sway our decision.
When we noticed an attractive and affordable Airbnb in the Andean city of Cuenca, that pretty much sealed the deal. That Cuba-Yucatan trip would be left for another time.
So a few days into our cruise, we’d made the decision. After sightseeing and rum drinking in Martinique, the Koningsdam pulled out of the port of Fort-de-France. With the fleeting sight of land on the horizon, our phone data was also about to disappear. But before we lost signal, I managed to complete the booking for our flight Ecuador, confirming our fate.
And what a great decision Ecuador ended up being!
After celebrating the holidays with family and friends back in Florida, we took one last quick getaway to Key West, before finally jetting off to Guayaquil, Ecuador!
Our Evolving Ecuador Plans
We had intended to make our stay in Ecuador more of a working / digital nomad type of stay, rather than a trip focused on travel. It’s funny how plans change, isn’t it?
Heather has resumed a 20-hr/week part-time job working online. Meanwhile, I had a consulting project opportunity that suddenly popped up, in addition to an endless list of blogging that I’m forever meaning to get to. So we spent several days having fun in the tropical metropolis of Guayaquil, before ultimately plunking down in the colonial Andean city of Cuenca. This would give us an entire month to concentrate on our growing online to-do list.
Yet we seemed to have forgotten just how much there is to do in Cuenca, and all throughout Ecuador. Our wanderlust tendencies took hold of us strongly. And in between these work efforts, we explored Cuenca and the surrounding area to the fullest!
We then started realizing all the awesome places across the Ecuadorian Andes we wanted to further explore. There were challenging treks to crater lakes, like the Quilotoa Loop, to pursue in addition to a handful of scenic train rides across the country to relax on. Ecuador’s highest mountain was calling us, as was all the plentiful adventure drawing us back to the lower and more temperate Mindo Cloud Forest.
There was so much we wanted to squeeze into this Ecuador trip.
So the next thing we knew, our slow roll through Ecuador had suddenly transitioned back into full-blown travel mode. And it was all such a blast!
We really felt a strong connection with Ecuador during this journey and loved just about every minute of the 79 fun-filled days we spent within the beautiful country.
I’ll forgo swooning over Ecuador even more in this post since we do plan to write much more about our EC adventures in the months to come.
In our next post on the blog, I’m planning to write about what we’ve found to be some of the best experiences and places throughout the country. So if recent posts have sparked any interest in traveling to Ecuador, we hope that this upcoming blog may help to sum up what we think are some of the best places to visit. Stay tuned!
Although hitting the ground hard in Ecuador was most enjoyable, it also exhausted us a bit. During the last four months of our lives, we’ve changed locations an average of every four days. After five years of constant travel, we should know better by now that such a speed is an unsustainable pace to keep while also trying to maintain some semblance of a working schedule.
Yet where we’re roaming now should help out with a slower pace. It always does.
I’m getting to that, I promise!
An Abbreviated Roam Around Colombia
Another consequence of all the fun we had in Ecuador was that it cut into the time we had planned to roam around Colombia. We had initially envisioned a trip through the Colombian Andes to eventually linger throughout Colombia’s coffee triangle region.
But just like our abandoned Cuba-Yucatan plans, roaming around that area of Colombia will likewise have to wait until another time. As they say around here, otra vez.
So rather than racing around the country at an exhausting pace, we decided to instead concentrate our travels on the capital city where we needed to travel to anyways, as that’s where we had booked our departing flight out of South America.
We did manage to spend a few days exploring the unexpected charms of Colombia’s southern region, like this incredible church.
But ultimately, we moved onto Bogotá!
Colombia’s big sprawling capital city has been a lot of fun. Really, that’s what sticks out most to us about Bogota: fun.
Sure, there are some good museums, nice restaurants, and an interesting historic center. But it’s Bogota’s fun-factor that really shines the brightest for us.
It’s a place where drinking beer is strongly encouraged while throwing metal discs at explosive packets, in the game of tejo. Bogota is a city that is home to the craziest restaurant we’ve ever been to, which is the experience delivered at Andres Carne de Res, where dancing seems to take precedence over the meal and random performances constantly breakout in the trippy atmosphere.
To up the fun factor even further, Colombia’s capital has dozens of beloved microbreweries that we enjoy so much in addition to more dance halls than we could possibly salsa at.
Bogota knows how to have a good time and that’s one major consistency we’re leaving here with, in what we otherwise found to be a city of many contrasts. And there’s a lot for fun we had in Botogtá that we never got a chance to post on social media, so expect a more complete blog post to come about Colombia’s capital.
It was a great ending to this year’s South America journey. And in the case of tejo, we truly departed with a bang!
So where did we fly off to? ✈️
Where in the world are we roaming around next? Okay, okay.
Here’s where we’re roaming now!
We have returned somewhere that we can truly unwind, yet also focus on some of our projects.
We’ve come back to a country where we feel like we have some unfinished business.
We’re now roaming around a place where we can eat our weight in tacos and the tequila flows like water.
We’re back in our happy place.
Yes, we are indeed back roaming around Mexico! 🇲🇽 Ahh, and it’s great to be back!
✈️ First stop: Mexico City.
So What’s The Plan? Roaming Around Mexico 2019
For those who have been following our journey for a while now, you know that, like Ecuador, Mexico is a country we adore and are passionate about. You also may recall that we spent the greater balance of last summer roaming around Mexico. It proved to be a great plan, so we’re returning for another dose.
Housesitting Our Way Across Mexico
We spent most of our time in Mexico last year housesitting for expats who were leaving their Mexico homes to pursue their own travels. When they do, they need trusted people to look after their home and pets. So we volunteer to do so and it worked out quite well for us last summer. Very well, actually.
Housesitting here in Mexico gets us out of our bad habit of constantly moving around, to instead stay stationary where we can more deeply explore the places we reside and have a better glimpse into local life. We absolutely love the added benefit of being able to watch over and bond with other people’s pets. Plus, housesitting in Mexico also helps us to greatly reduce accommodation costs, helping us to save up for further travel adventures.
It all worked out so well last summer, that we decided to give it another go this year. Many Americans and Canadians leave their Mexico homes during the summer months to return to their northern homes. This leaves an abundance of housesits available. That’s where we come into the picture to fill in during their absence.
So when we briefly paused in Quito last month, we lined up two long-term housesits where we’ll enjoy slowing down from now until the middle of July. These are some awesome housesits too, that we’re really looking forward to. We’ll tell you about them in just a sec.
Where Do We Find House Sits in Mexico?
We’ve been using the website, HouseSitMexico, to line up all of our housesits in the country. There are plenty of other housesitting networks out there but we’ve found that MexicoHouseSit tends to have the best opportunities in Mexico. It’s a good and easy-to-use platform too.
We get emailed about new housesits that pop up almost every day. Many of them are at unbelievably luxurious properties and include perks like regular housekeeping and gardeners. It’s our job to simply maintain the house and take good care of the fur babies.
These are not paid gigs. But it’s really a win-win for the homeowner and for us. We gain nice accommodation and pet companionship. In exchange, the homeowner has the peace of mind to know their house and pets are in good hands.
If giving HouseSitMexico a try, we’ve found there’s a bit of a trick to actually securing good housesits. The best opportunities tend to get scooped up very quickly. Often the really good ones are posted and fulfilled within the same day. So it’s best to subscribe to the email alerts and then apply immediately to any housesits that pop-up. That’s what we’ve done to secure each of our housesits, apply same day it’s posted.
The way MexicoHouseSit works is on an annual subscription basis. So you do have to pay a modest annual subscription to become a member to get these email alerts and, most importantly, to ultimately connect with the hosts. The housesits themselves, don’t cost anything for the host or the housesitter.
You can take a look here to see what housesits are currently available, even for non-members. But all of the details and the newest housesit opportunities are only available to members.
Our Mexico 2019 Itinerary
So from Bogota, we just flew from one capital to the next, arriving to the largest city in North America: Mexico City!
It’s been a warm welcome, with sunny skies and the jacaranda trees in full bloom.
But our time in Mexico City is just a short stopover.
We’ll instead be basing ourselves for the summer within one of Mexico’s states that may have become our favorite. It’s arguably the most Mexican state in Mexico, as it is the home to both tequila and mariachi music. And it will also be our home for the next three months.
We’re excited to be back roaming around the state of Jalisco!
We last departed Jalisco exactly 6 months, to the day, that we’ve now arrived back in the state. And our Mexico trip will now continue here in Jalisco’s beautiful state capital of Guadalajara.
This is where we’re spending a few weeks over the Semana Santa (Easter week) holiday.
We’ve heard that it’s can be a fairly quiet time in Guadalajara, as people head out of the city for the coast and other holiday destinations. Yet when we once experienced the Semana Santa festivities in the city of Oaxaca, it was anything but quiet. Parades and cojetes (loud Mexican firecrackers) abounded. So it’ll now be interesting to see how Mexico’s second largest city commemorates this soon-approaching religious holiday.
From Guadalajara, our first housesit begins later this month in the town of Chapala.
This is a town that’s located just up the road from Ajijic, where we did a long housesit last summer. So we already know the area and even had taken two day trips over to Chapala when we were last in the area. Yet we’re now excited to better know this other town along Mexico’s largest freshwater lake!
In June, we then have a very interesting housesit to pursue.
Throughout all of our roaming around Mexico, we tend to favor the cool central highlands instead of the beautiful coast that Mexico is arguably most well-known for. We wanted to change that up.
So we jumped at the opportunity to head to a tiny village along Jalisco’s Pacific coast.
We’ll be spending six weeks in a little town that boasts a population of about 2,000 people and about 300 crocodiles.
It seems like a tranquil place to unwind, yet we’re eager to explore the area a bit too. We’ll be looking after a handful of dogs, cats, and even a rescue horse. Caring for the horse, his name is Prince, will also be a new experience for us that we’re looking forward to!
And this beach housesit then brings us right through the middle of July, where we’ll be resuming our roaming around somewhere. But for now, we’re just happy to be back in Mexico to enjoy the beautiful culture and food (oh, the food) that we love so much here.
I’m not even going to admit to the number of tacos we’ve eaten so far.
So Where To After Mexico?
No clue! Have you not yet caught on to our indecisive travel tendencies?
We’ll likely just be staying in Mexico for 3 months or so, rather than prolonging a visit all the way through Dia de Muertos, like we did last year celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico City.
So we hope to sort out our post-Mexico plans as we slow down over these next few months. We certainly have a few ideas in the hopper, but we’re not taking any action on them yet.
With our time in Europe last year feeling cut a bit short, we’d love to head back across the pond before the end of summer, to then possibly take a repositioning cruise back to the US for the holidays. There are many northern European countries we’ve yet to explore and have been longing to roam around. So this is a pipe dream in contention. But we’ll see.
I could probably rattle off another dozen great travel ideas. Maybe we’ll take that Cuba-Yucatan trip after all. Heck, I mentioned how much we enjoyed St Lucia in the onset of this travel update. Roaming around the Caribbean doesn’t sound like such a bad idea either. Perhaps more than anywhere else, we’ve been yearning to get back to both Japan and Africa, although actually pursuing those would be logistical long shots. Yet you never know!
If we’re not already connected, please stick with us on our Facebook Page or Instagram where we’ll be sure to update on where the heck we’re roaming next, alongside our usually travel discoveries, tips, and inspiration.
For now, the roaming continues in Mexico! And we remain excited for what the future may bring us.
We also wish you the happiest of travels in Spring and into the summer, wherever in the world you may be roaming! Thank you for reading and joining in our adventures.
-John & Heather ✈️🇲🇽