It’s 365 days since we stepped out of our empty London home onto the early morning streets of Peckham and made our way to Rio. Twelve months and twelve countries later, we’re in Mexico with no intention of stopping our travels. It’s been an epic year and, short of reading the blog in its entirety, I think the best way to tell it is in photos…
It began in Peckham, a corner of London feared by many and adored by others. Steve and I are in the fan club, but after one too many grey days, crowded tubes, and daydreams of the wider world, it was time to pack up our house and say goodbye.
Our first stop was Rio where we instantly fell in love with a city that remains our favourite. With an unmatched joie d’vivre, Rio captivated us with its heady mix of beach, jungle, favelas and riotous samba nights. It’s the antithesis of a British prude.
For the months previous to our departure, I’d spent much of it staring at a screensaver by Yann Arthus Bertrand on my workplace desktop. It showed a single pink tree amid a sea of green. The daydream came true when we went to Ilha Grande, and little coloured trees dotted the verdant jungle.
Trindade, just down the coast from Paraty, was an accidental , and welcome find that I stumbled across when searching for a yoga retreat. If it hadn’t been for the paltry internet, we may have stayed months.
After time in nature, Sao Paulo, the concrete forest, came as quite a shock and was made all the more testing by an encounter with bedbugs – perhaps the itchiest critters known to man. Despite the trials, we loved it, especially our wonderful couchsurfing hosts whose house is where this blog was born.
One of the things that comes to mind when reflecting on Brazil is the plethora of awesome street art, especially in São Paulo, where walking the city is as good as a trip to the contemporary art museum.
Eventually it was time to leave Brazil – a country we adored but found prohibitively expensive – so we left for Buenos Aires, stopping en-route at the mighty Iquazu Falls where the catchphrase ‘Excellent Splendour of the Universe‘ instantly came to mind.
A splattering of mayonaise, swiftly followed by a friendly face, greeted us in Argentina’s capital where we spent the first few days with a couchsurfing friend I had first met three years before in Barcelona. I set up home in the city for six weeks while Steve went off to California to film some interviews for Continuum.
Much of my time was spent drinking submarines and…
Upon Steve’s return, we couldn’t leave without first taking a tango lesson.
But then it was on to Patagonia, and the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno Glacier.
Whiskey, alfajores and a natural wonder of the world made for one of the most memorable days yet.
We almost didn’t risk El Chalten, fearing the winter weather might make it impossible. In fact, it made it better – with the arrival of snow clearing the clouds and startling us with the town’s beauty. Steve took the opportunity to film some timelapse footage for Continuum.
We also made sure to stop and take the time to appreciate the stillness.
Our final stop in patagonia was Puerto Madryn where we took a gamble and travelled for 48 hours on a bus for a slim chance of seeing whales. The universe conspired in our favour and made for an incredible day in the company of magnificence.
Mendoza welcomed us with wine, absinthe and the hospitality of couchsurfer Patrick who had stayed with us in Peckham the year before. We followed up with Cordoba, another of Argentina’s cities, and some more couchsurfing – this time with a pagan and a psychologist with whom we spent time pondering about why so many Argentines are in therapy.
After a burst of travel, it was time to settle for some time and knuckle down to a period of work. We chose Salta, home to Leigh and Noah of Cloudhead Art who we had met at a Puerta Cerrada in Buenos Aires. The town’s excellent folklorico scene helped seal the deal and we stayed for two months.
We also volunteered with a Cloudhead project, helping build gardens with people from the Wichi tribe in Northern Argentina.
Eventually it was time to say goodbye to our new friends and leave for Chile’s San Pedro de Atacama, home to some of the world’s clearest sky.
It didn’t disappoint.
…and sandboarding was thrilling entertainment for the daytime.
The adventure town was the perfect departure point for a tour of Bolivia’s salt flats, which took us through three mystical days of coloured lagoons, geysers and the dreamlike salar itself.
La Paz was perhaps the most striking city we’ve ever encountered, nestled into a sea of mountains at dizzying heights. Some turn to witches for altitude remedies, we chose Coroico, a town just outside the city tucked into the stunning Cordilleras and at a much more palatable elevation than La Paz.
In Coroico, we stayed in one of the most beautiful rooms we’ve ever come across, charmingly decorated, and with breathtaking views.
We also met some friendly creatures at the local animal refuge. This spider monkey named Nina took a particular liking to Steve.
Our final stop in Bolivia was Copacabana and Lake Titicaca where we took a boat to Isla del Sol, birthplace of the Incas. It’s a magical place with a serenity that’s catching.
From Bolivia, we headed to Cusco in Peru for ten days, a town we had fallen for three years before. We mostly walked around enjoying the vibe, eating good food, and failing to take many photos.
Our next stop marked a fork in the road. Steve went on as planned to Ecuador while I made an unexpected detour to Porto for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. It was a detour filled with friends, old and new. I spent 24 hours in London waiting for a connecting flight and made a whistle-stop tour of family and friends, then went on to find plenty of kindred spirits at TBU and the subsequent port-filled blog trip to the Douro Valley. To top it, two of my favourite friends from home came out after the conference to join me for a few days of sun, markets and even more port.
Still on my detour, I travelled to Spain where I met even more of my favourite bloggers and put my liver to the test at the Blog House in Besalu, followed by TBEX in Girona. Conundrums ensued about the nature of marketing blogs. The final stop was my beloved Barcelona and a joyful reunion with more friends.
After three weeks it was back to South America to join Steve in Ecuador where we based ourselves in Vilcabamba for a month, a town full of health food and conspiracy theorists. It was also where the saga of the mole took place.
In seemingly no time at all, it was time for another fork and Steve took off to India to film an interview for Continuum. He planned to be gone for a week but ended up staying a month while chasing the film’s most elusive interviewee yet – His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. With a name like that, I think you can imagine how worth it the chase was.
During that time, I went to Mexico to complete my yoga teacher training course – a choice I’d made to deepen my practice, but which transformed me into a teacher. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, not least because it led us to San Pancho…
…which is where I’m writing this from now, high on my love for this tiny town that we’ve come to call home. Luckily, when Steve returned from India, he fell for it much as I have, and we’ve now been here three months and will stay for another two, working on Continuum and teaching yoga.
Since being here, we’ve barely left the town apart from a birthday trip to Yelapa, and Steve took a short trip to New York to film a little more and to launch his company’s short film Overview at Harvard. It’s been met with an incredible response including more than a million hits on Vimeo. Needless to say, I’m wildly proud, and can tell you that the follow-up feature film, which he’s currently editing, is set to blow people’s minds. Check out the trailer and you’ll see.
So that takes us up to the here and now – San Pancho 2013 as a yoga teacher and a successful filmmaker in a community we adore. It’s a blissful end to an epic year, and we have nothing but excitement for what comes next.
Thank you for following our journey. All your comments and support delight us daily. Namaste amigos, and here’s to the next 12 months…