One Month done! Ten to go…

Some general thoughts on the trip so far…

First and foremost, we are not having problems finding space in our rolling duffels to stuff extra stuff we have… BUT, we are having a very tough time keeping the weight down to the average airline restriction of 50 pounds! Claudette’s and my bags could easily be about 59-62 pounds, but a couple airlines have made us reshuffel the stuff around a bit.

It was refreshing in a small way to be driving late (VERY late) last night to our Los Angeles hotel in North American traffic. Cars were staying between the lines of their lanes. On roads and especially on the freeway, all vehicles were giving each other an abundance of safe distance, instead of riding practically bumper to bumper at every speed, 20 KPH to 90 KPH. People are not nudging their way into the 0.7m space between two other vehicles to force their way into a different lane, (lane of traffic I mean of course, not an actual painted road lane which are almost universally ignored in the four Latin American Countries we have visited). I am absolutely astonished that we did not witness even a single vehicle accident while driving on, or watching traffic on Latin American roads anytime in these past 30 some odd days. This is not to say that we didn’t see some incredibly close calls; we did. But with barely a few centimeter crack between them, we never saw one vehicle come in contact with another. I can only surmise (with my very limited experience, and dubious credentials in these sorts of matters) that all drivers know that each other is driving in a crazy, or rude, or erratic manner (from a Canadian or US perspective) and compensate with a very heightened sense of awareness of all traffic around them. Claudette will be deeply offended by these comments, but I will stand by them.

On the other hand, I have noticed a profound proudness in all Latin Americans we have met. When we have made even the feeblest of efforts to speak Spanish to people they are very receptive to that. Be it the hotel desk clerk, several taxi drivers or store sales people, they are all dying to know how we like their country. They seem to beam with abject glory and huge smiles over any positive comments we make. And they universally seemed to nod their head in lip pursed agreement at any mildly negative comments we have made (such as certain aspects of a slightly lacking transportation infrastructure). Ecuadorians seemed especially pleased when Claudette,the kids or I shared our thoughts on their countries perceived advanced state of building & transportation infrastructure, as well as our perceived observation about the far superior condition of vehicles on their roads. They got downright elated when we mentioned the incredibly low levels of pollution and smog in the cities, especially compared with Peru.

Even our late night hotel check-in manager in Los Angeles (of Argentinian & Peruvian desent) was anxious to hear how we enjoyed all areas of South America. And so, we had an amazing (though thoroughly jam-packed) first month of our odyssey thus far. We were told though that driving in many parts of Asia is very similar to Latin America, (bumper to bumper at all speeds, and constant budding in front of one another). Pollution we also expect to be a major problem in many other countries. We have been warned by a few people especially about the pollution in China, and specifically at its worst in Beijing. This was of course strongly substantiated by an article I just read in a recent WIRED magazine discussing pollution and the upcoming Olympics. We are wondering how poor Jim & Letty have survived the past three years without wearing carbon filtered face masks on a daily basis??? We shall soon enough find out for ourselves of course!

Today is a bit of a down day, catch up on rest, blog & journal entries, and hopefully picture backups & uploading (if I can find a place in LA???). We have two days in Sydney to see stuff before the camper van rental starts, so we will literally hit the ground running! (But only for the first few days Claudette! then you can relax…)

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