A Travellerspoint blog

They're on their way!

Tracking while I should be sleeping.....

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View Gerard's off to see old friends! on Karenlee's travel map.

I went to bed almost two hours ago, and although I started dozing on and off a bit, I could NOT get to sleep. Kept thinking about last year when Susan and Dave came over here for the first time, and they had that ghastly situation with the cancelled flight, where they had to go all the way back home with their suitcases and then back to the airport the next day. Thank goodness for FlightStats! They ARE on their way. Goodnight!

Posted by Karenlee 16:20 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Gerard is off....

...and Karen is going into Hyper-Anal-Retentive-Control-Freak-Mode (i.e., more than she usually is already) - and is trying to get OVER it!

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Gerard's off to see old friends! on Karenlee's travel map.



Even those who love me best will admit I am a busybody of the first order. Although, I would prefer to use the word (and I hope those who are kind and forgiving will do so too) "organizer", instead of "busybody". I don't know what it is in my make-up, but if I see something that I think needs to be done, it's a knee-jerk reaction to dive headlong in and try to get everything sorted out to the 'T'. Even *blush* if people have not asked me to do so. It's my one weakness ;). Okay, maybe I have a couple of others, but I'll tell you about those later. Maybe.

Anyway, over the past months Gerard and I (especially Gerard) have been working hard on getting everything here in pico bello order so that Susan and Dave will be confronted with no unexpected problems. I have composed a 21 (!!!) page manual for them, detailing the workings of everything from the the gas supply of the house to how to set our alarm clock (*rolls eyes*), and who they can contact in case of emergencies. Everything is perfectly arranged, and I should be feeling completely free, easy and excited about taking off on our trip, right?

No, I find myself OBSESSING about the IND (Immigration & Naturalization Office) registration. Susan and Dave both have to register there - especially Susan as an American - to stay in the Netherlands for as long as they are going to. Gerard and I went to the IND months ago to discuss the situation, find out what documents they needed to show, etc. Susan and Dave have assured me they've ticked them all off, and will have them ready when we go to register. But STILL I'm worried - because it's not up to what I do anymore, but the IND! I have this nightmare scenario that, during the registration process, something will be missing or come up where they won't accept their application. And I have to STOP this useless kind of worrying!

Both of our previous trips taught me many important things, but they were mostly about how the world is: the variety, richness and beauty - as well as the ugliness, need and poverty - that are out there. I've absorbed all that by now. And, as I've gotten older, that awareness - I think - has fostered my tendency to try to arrange things. Not only in my own life, but for the people I care for as well, in order to ensure everyone gets the best out of things - whatever they are! But I'm now realizing that it has also made me something of an officious worrywort (and perhaps to my own detriment).

Anyway, I am now declaring 1 July 2012 as Karen Control-Freak-Liberation Day. I am going to STOP worrying about other people's matters. It's high time that I realized that the people I know and love are MORE than intelligent and capable enough of sorting things out for themselves. They really do not need me to do that for them. And if Susan has to go underground for three months, well - we always have a Hobbithole ;).

It just goes to show you that travelling is ALWAYS a learning experience!

P.S. I almost must say, that I had the most WONDERFUL goodbye with most of my favourite "Jane Austen" friends at a party that one of them had at her house last night. I danced some. I watched some. And an amazing time was had by all.

Posted by Karenlee 10:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (4)

The final countdown

Ticking, testing and weighing...

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We've been in a countdown situation for a good 10 months now, ever since we knew we'd have our house-sitters. First it was "next year" that we'd be taking off, then "this year's the year!", then "just three months to go!", and on and on until Gerard, at least, is at the point where he can say "this week"! And although I'll still be here until mid-July, I'm getting as close to ready as I can be too. Everything on the 'equipment' checklist is in the backpack, and now I'm down to seriously weighing exactly what I am - and am not - going to take on clothes. And that's a lot harder than you might think, because it really does need to be as little as possible. On my very first backpacking trip ever when I was 22, I took FIVE pairs of shoes! At a certain point I got so frustrated with how much stuff I had with me that I threw two of them into the Strait of Gibralter when we were on the ferry to Tangiers. Ah well, I'm a bit more experienced now, and think that - underwear, swimwear and nightwear aside - I'll be able to keep it down to around 15 items.

I'm also in the middle of testing certain things out to make sure they'll work. We're not going to have a laptop with us, and we need to have a system to back up our photos, and also be able to email them - or post them in this blog - if we want. I think I have it sorted, but let's check it out to be sure...

Packing pile

Packing pile

By George, I think I've got it! One more thing that can be ticked off the list!

And the countdown continues - just 5.5 days of work to go, 10 days until Susan and Dave get here, and 20 days until I step on the plane!

Posted by Karenlee 15:46 Archived in Netherlands Tagged packing Comments (0)

Hello blog!

Less than six weeks to go

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The last time Gerard and I put our backpacks away, we knew without a doubt that we would be pulling them on again - someday. 'Travelling', as opposed to 'vacationing' is such an amazing and life-altering experience. I can't imagine that anyone who has ever done it would find once (or even twice, in our case) enough. Although I must say we never expected it would take us this long to get around to it again! But buying a house, slowly fixing it up over time, and enjoying it's comforts and beauty once you've got it absolutely perfect: that can take up an amazing amount of your time and life - before you know it, years have flown by.

And then, when you finally find yourself with the time, money and desire to head out travelling into the world again, you're stuck with a really big, new problem - finding people you know and trust enough to take care of your very favorite place on earth (to say nothing of two beloved cats and a jungle's worth of plants) and who are willing - and able - to leave their own home to do so.

But serendipity DOES strike! My aunt Susan and her partner Dave are just as excited about the adventure of living for half a year in Europe as Gerard and I are about roaming South America. Although, who knows where we might end up? On our last trip we thought it would be Australia, but found ourselves in China instead. That's one of the things I meant when I wrote how very special 'traveling' (as opposed to 'vacationing') is. You really ARE footloose and fancy free, and can go anywhere the wind blows you. It's really an amazing feeling and - thanks to Susan and Dave - in just under six weeks I'll be stepping on the plane to meet up with Gerard in Florida and, after a week with the family, we'll be on our way to Peru and entering that amazing zone of existence again!

Preparations are starting to get down to the wire now. Flights and vaccinations have long been taken care off. The 'to do' list is getting shorter, and the 'travel piles' we've started in a corner of the bedroom are getting stacked higher with mosquito nets, sleep sheets, fleece jackets, hiking boots, windbreakers, first-aid kits, sarongs, swiss army knives, water bottles, flashlights and more. I get such an unreal feeling every time I look at it. We really, finally, ARE going to be doing this again!

I can't tell you how much I wonder how the experience is going to compare to those we've had before. In any case, it's sure to be MUCH more different than the first two trips were to each other. For one thing, we're not going to be nearly as 'isolated'. On both the previous ones, when you were gone, you were really GONE! Staying in touch with people meant picking up letters at post restante or standing in line for the international phone booth at post offices that were big enough to have one. Even though I think it's wonderful that, this time around, I'll be able to share our experiences almost in real time with family and friends, I'm wondering if it might somehow dim the exciting feeling of exotic exploration which made the other trips so special.

For another thing, we're going to be so much older than the fellow travellers we'll be meeting up with! The majority of them by far tend to be in their 20s. Even on our last trip, I got into conversations with various people who said, in so many words, "I can't tell you how cool I think it is that you guys are doing something like this at YOUR AGE!" - and we were just in our mid-30s then! Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to resign myself to hearing something like that a lot more often this time around ;)!

Posted by Karenlee 13:14 Archived in Netherlands Tagged utrecht south america preparations Comments (1)

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