Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Theme

For the past few weeks I searched on the internet trying to find families who went, or are or will be on a trip around the world. Mihai is following some already, but I wanted to find one by myself. I gave a search in Romanian and found one family that lives in France and finished their trip in May 2009 peicipecolo . It is like a parallel world, in which all have knowledge of geography, approximately same interests, with people who live from little, good workers. You look and see the pictures that they took, where they where, what transportation did they use. Verify their lists of objects, what was useful and what was not. And despite reading everything, it is not enough. I want more. I don’t want just to read about their adventures, I want to live mine!

Ok. Where do we go? Anywhere, it doesn’t matter because we want to see as much as we can. But we can’t go everywhere! Ok, how do we choose? We would need a theme. Some people go to places where there are marathons. Others go to UNESCO places. Others after endangered animals. Some crisscross a region and study it profoundly, and yet others choose places representative for a culture. What do we want? Difficult to answer because we have to prioritize. We know that we want to show the world to our kids and to be together in new places.

I’m doing my work around the house and I’m thinking how are we going to manage, how will it be to sleep on a lumpy futon (hard doesn’t bother us), maybe with bugs, how are we going to eat all the strange food, hot or of unknown provenance. And what is going to happen with the things that are staying home? The garden, the objects (will we have to pack everything in order to rent the house or will we let them gather dust?). What to keep, what to give? What interest will we have in some subject when we’ll return? And do we have to return? For us it is so simple: we moved from our country and adapted here. To leave this place and move somewhere else it would be no problem.

What’s our theme?

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Bait

Mihai says to write, because we will forget and I’m sure he is right. For a long time I was somehow numb, yeah we took the decision to go around the world, but nothing more, no enthusiasm. Mihai was trying to find the best route, where to go, what would interest us, he would change it every week, always finding a cheaper one, what if we left from a different place and not States, because the tickets are too expensive. I liked to hear him talk, just because he reminded me that we would leave, but also because he was making plans (unlike me, who couldn’t think of anything). I had to prepare school for two years in one and a half. To divide the curriculum. To chose a new curriculum for Maria. When can she take the test for the senior year if she finishes in November?

We would talk in the evenings and he would tell me that he feels alone, because we are not interested. He is the only one who starts the subject at dinner and nobody else comes with something new. And so it came that I made two presentations in Keynotes about India: Red Fort and Qutub Minar. It felt good to find pictures on the internet and informations. It was frustrating to put them on the page and work with a program that I did not know.

And then again, quiet, I returned to that place where I did not have time to think. I was getting ready to finish their homeschool year and had a lot of things to do. At one point Mihai sent me an email about the types of towels that people take on their trips and following the links I found, a trove of all the informations that interested me, details about making your luggage, how to go on a trip with only a backpack of necessary things, no matter for how long or what climate. I fell in love with this site! I read it from top to bottom, and felt sad when it was done. I bought some of the things that it recommended (e.g. mooncup). I started to become interested!

Mihai started bringing home documentaries about the different places in the world, to upload them on iPods so we can see them on the road. One of them was about Galapagos. In the meantime he received an email from LAN who will start a new route in September and to attract travelers it offers free tickets from Guayaquil to Galapagos. In the evening I go to sleep, after he told me about the email, saying it is interesting but not for us and in the morning he asks me seriously if I could consider going to Galapagos instead of the congress in Florida. YEEES! The answer came immediately, no time for thinking or waiting.

He asked me again after coming home from work: did I change my mind?

Long story short: we’re going! We bought tickets.

The consequence is that I’m “feverishly” preparing for the trip. I’m looking for the best clothes for us: they have to be washed frequently, wrinkle free, preferably not plastic (I can’t stand the smell of sweat on plastic), to keep us worm (the thicker ones). I read the opinions fo those who traveled with their family, I’m trying to be inspired by their experience.

All these things could seem normal and common, they happen to all the people who are interested in such a project. But I DREAM! I dream that I need something for my trip, or that I am on the trip and I would like to take as a souvenir a big shell, bigger than a suitcase and I realize that I can’t carry it with me, and so, I don’t need it, and I’m telling myself to enjoy it  right now, because I can’t take it with me.

I’m thinking that we leave in two years, and that I think again and realize it is going to be next year, and then I get scared, time is too short, then I remember we still have 509 days and feel better, there is still time to get ready.

But until then we have to prepare for Galapagos with one backpack. It is the perfect bait!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


LAN airlines sent me an email that they offer free tickets to Galapagos with a purchased ticket from United States to Guayaquil. I noticed this and moved on, mentioned it to Ileana on Saturday as just some piece of news, but why do we care, we are going to Galapagos in February 2012 anyhow. Sunday night I thought to myself that I should probably check this out. It turned out to be true and the terms of the offer couldn't be better. Buy a ticket before June 21st for travel after September 16th. LAN is starting this new service and it is likely to be just a one time thing. A couple of months ago I played with the idea of taking one week off to Galapagos while we are in Florida in November. It was too expensive and the time on the islands would have been too short. Now I could buy tickets from New York for $3137 and from Miami for $500 less.
Monday morning when we woke up I asked Ileana if she would like to go to Galapagos. I have an annual conference in Orlando the week before Thanksgiving and this could be a great two week vacation, including some time on our favorite beach at Caladesi Island. She didn't need more than two minutes to decide. We did some calculations and realized that it might cost us just $1200 more to fly from home, instead of going during our RTW trip. We both admitted that we are afraid that Galapagos might be cut off as we get closer to our trip because it is such a huge expense. Better go now when I am still employed and we can count the money differently. The Florida vacation would surely cost more than $1200 and we gain 2-3 weeks on our trip next year. We could spend more time in New Zealand and Argentina and we could make it to Brazil.
It is Wednesday now and yesterday I spent two hours buying the tickets to Galapagos Islands on November 11! There were two agitated days on my part but the family reaction was very enthusiastic. Maria is happy about the "bragging rights", it sounds so much better than Florida, her sister is happy that "this means we can go to Brazil" and Ioan was unhappy with any option because he won't be home for his birthday and won't have a birthday party. Again.
It took less than 48 hours to make this major decision and it might seem an impulsive one, but I don't think it is. Surprisingly I had much more anxiety about this issue than I would have expected and the last two days I almost fell sick. We spent an entire year thinking everyday about our trip next year and by now there is a level of impatience, it seems too long to wait another 509 days. And suddenly we find ourselves having to make plans for November, we can buy some equipment and test drive it right away, we can get a glimpse at how we'll travel next year. We have time to learn and prepare and we also have a "distraction" to make the wait for the big trip much shorter. And we can tell everybody right away. I can only imagine the surprise as this is might seem to come from nowhere, how can someone suddenly decide to go to Galapagos? We just watched the BBC movie (the islands that changed the world) [Blu-ray]  [DVD]   [book] last week and we've been talking about it quite a few times in the last year, but we cannot say it yet.

It is also interesting to note that the purchase of the tickets was much more painful than it should be. After spending almost an hour to start a household account for frequent flyer miles on British Airways, I went to to buy the tickets and on the last screen I got an error after entering the credit card data. I tried again, got another error and called their customer service. Their representative, Fabian, apologized and explained that they need the passport numbers to issue the tickets, I gave him that and then he tried to charge my credit card and got a denial. We tried another credit card and got another denial. I called the first card to unblock it, called Fabian again to buy the tickets and called the second card to unblock that as well. This morning I got another call from the security department at Chase to verify what happened last night. Bottom line, they block these transactions thinking that they protect me from unauthorized charges. I can only imagine the pain of buying $30000 plane tickets next year. Well, we'll get through that...

Galapagos is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador. There are several inhabited islands, several villages and two small airports. It is mostly a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some people call them "the islands that changed the world". Everybody knows about Charles Darwin and the giant tortoises but I'm sure not much more. They are much bigger than they seem and much more difficult to explore than one would think. There is a $100 charge to enter the National Park and you are required to have an approved guide in the park at all times. Most people would visit the islands on a cruise, but the cruises are expensive, they only have 2-bed rooms and they also waste a lot of time getting there and in between islands. A regular 9-day prearranged trip can have only 5-6 days on the islands and can cost as much as $2400. We will try to read as much as we can, book the first night on our arrival and then decide on the spot how we spend the next 14 days. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Sir Ernest Shackleton … he tried to cross Antarctica going through South Pole in 1914. The ship was claimed by ice and for a year and a half, he and the crew lived on ice trying to save themselves. Mihai read several books on the subject and one of them was “Endurance: Shackleton’s incredible Antarctic Expedition” by Alexandra Caroline. The book was written following the crew’s diaries, but Frank Hurley’s photographs (on glass plates and celluloid! which were recently rediscovered) were the ones that  were making the book special. Some of them you can see at Endurance-vessel on wikipedia. After this we read another book „Around the world in 80 dates” and another book, then websites… and that is how we came up with the idea of traveling around the world… of course with the children, initially  for 6 months and later, as we continued to think about where we would like to go, for a year and it already looked like a too short time.

Pro: we are young and healthy, we want to see so many places that we’ve heard or read about, we want to be together, the two of us, and both with the children, we want to be exposed to new situations, that can’t be met in our normal lives, we want for them to be a little bit hungry and a little bit cold, hoping that this experience will enrich our souls and open new horizons.

Cons: we still have time, we interrupt established rhythms, we’re missing “trains”, it’s a folly, we can get sick, it is dangerous and the list could continue, but somehow this part seems too general and without substance.

But before books and movies there was something else…It was summer and I was getting ready to take the exams for medical university. With the Popa family and their friends we went to the Argeș river for a wonderful afternoon with grills and water games. A storm came from nowhere and we retreated to Aunty Nușa’s home for some coffee. I was 17 and preoccupied by my future, and so I took the courage to ask her to read my cup. She said she could not tell me specifics, only general things and nothing in the immediate future. I remember something about a setback (I did not pass my exam), after a while I will move with my house over the water (we moved to USA), but after some time I will walk with luggage, probably to return from where I have left. For a long time I was afraid that after establishing our lives in US, we will have to return in Romania and start all over again. BUUUUUUUT now I know: I will go around the world, this is what Aunty Nușa saw!

How interesting, we come to fulfill the future that was “predicted” to us!