En Route to Buenos Aires, November 5
back in travel mode, winging our way to Argentina. Coming home for a
month was both odd and ordinary. One goal was to regroup and get ready
for the next leg of our travels, but that didn't occupy the entire
month. In fact, we settled quickly and solidly back into our old
routine: the office for Alex and Jennifer; school for Emily and Tim
(more on that topic below); the kids even temporarily rejoined their
sports teams and resumed music lessons. Going back so completely to our
busy, highly-scheduled suburban lifestyle sometimes made it feel as if
Part 1 of our world odyssey didn't even happen.
To gauge how the family felt about the month home, here's everyone's answer to the question: Was it too long, too short, or just right?
Plopping the kids into school for a 4-week stint, six weeks after the school year had begun, was an unknown. It turned out to be smooth sailing for Emily -- her elementary school had saved a spot for her in a 5th grade classroom with a flexible teacher who'd even been reading some of our travelogs with the class. Middle school was a little more difficult, and Tim was quite discouraged after his first day: He was assigned the locker nobody else wanted, reprimanded for not having his swimsuit in P.E. (how was he to know? shouldn't they have been happy he managed to bring his gym clothes?), he was the sole French Horn player sight-reading music the rest of the band had practiced for weeks, and he'd arrived smack in the middle of the biggest project in 7th grade -- the dreaded cell model & report -- and was expected to catch up. Tim was ready to drop school at that point, but he stuck with it. (Actually, we didn't give him a choice.) After a week of hard work he'd created a lovely amoeba (photo 5), and he was well on his way to mastering the Horn music. He enjoyed the remainder of his time in school quite a bit.
While home, we learned that we're not as unique as one might think:
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When we arrive in Buenos Aires we'll pick up our rented motorhome, buy mountain bikes for Alex and Jennifer (the kids' bikes are on the plane with us; photo 4), and hit the road. Since we'll be unpacking and packing exactly once, and never carrying all of our stuff on our backs, we were considerably less restrictive about what we brought on this leg of the trip (photos 1-3). Tim convinced us he needed his French Horn, to go along with Emily's computer-attachable piano keyboard (indispensable for your musically-inclined flashpacker). We have one duffel bag devoted solely to books -- guidebooks, hiking books, wildlife books, school books, reading books, you name it -- that barely comes in under the 50-pound limit for individual baggage items. Also along are some favorite foods to get started with camper-cooking, and a somewhat expanded suite of clothes and other travel gear. Provided we manage to stow everything comfortably in the camper, we'll be living in style.
The one thing we'll probably cut way back on, at least compared with Europe, is internet. We don't know how often we'll pass through towns with convenient internet access, and we won't be seeking it out for onward travel planning as we did on the first part of the trip. It's likely that our "Motorhome Diaries" will be somewhat less regular than our European postings were.