Tag: friends

Goodbye to old friends, hello to new friends

Though we were sad to be leaving our friends in Puerto Natales and the beautiful scenery of Chile behind, we were happily not leaving Patagonia yet. Just a 5 hour bus ride and a border crossing later and we arrived at El Calafate – the heart of Argentina’s Patagonia.

As we got on our bus early that morning, we connected with Bern, a friend from Boulder that is also doing a bit of world traveling. Ted and Bern had been emailing and trying to meet up for several days, and finally we ended up on the same bus headed in the same direction. Bern is originally from Austria, but Ted and I met him through our Ultimate frisbee league in Colorado. I didn’t know Bern all that well beforehand, but we got to do a bit of traveling with him and I can now vouch that he is one of the most likable people on the planet.

Upon arriving in Calafate, we headed to a coffee shop to discuss our next move. Halfway through our coffee we met another American couple who had just arrived to town. Dave and Jesse are from New York City and are also doing an around the world trip over the course of the year. Little did we know this coffee meeting would turn into a week of travel together in Argentina, and a rendezvous months later in South Africa.

The THING to do out of Calafate is to take a day trip to the Perito Moreno glacier. It is one of the biggest glaciers in the world that you can access by road and therefore it is one giant tourist attraction.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Sarah, Bern, Jesse, and Dave

Perito Moreno

The drive to the glacier is just over an hour. Ted and I had a slightly different schedule from our newly-formed group, thanks to another travel-industry hook-up (thanks Simon!). We stayed at a ridiculously fancy lodge with direct views to the glacier – the only accommodation within Parque Nacional de los Glaciers! We quickly dropped off our backpacks and met up with the others in time for a boat ride that goes right up to the face of the glacier. Stunning and awe-inspiring views. We lucked out with a beautiful day and were able to see many different shades of blue and green within the ice. We spent the rest of the day walking the boardwalks, taking pictures and hoping to see big chunks of ice calve into the water.

The boat gives some perspective

Quintessential glacier photo

Goes on forever

As Bern, Dave and Jesse headed back to Calafate, Ted and I wandered back to our luxurious hotel where we continued to enjoy the view and the delicious dinner that was included with our stay. Woohoo!

View from our room

Chile Wrap-Up

Oh Chile, where do we begin? You were an expensive place to hang out but you were totally worth it. We’ll be back again someday, that we do know. Here is a quick wrap-up of the loving, loathing and eating that went on in Chile (in no particular order).


  1. Ferry Ride at Torres del Paine

    Friends far away – Getting to hang with Drew and Francisco in Puerto Natales was definitely the highlight of this great land. We knew we were headed all the way down to see them before we even left the US, and there are not many places we can say that about in regards to our trip planning.

  2. Torres del Paine ferry ride – The day we had was unfair to the many before us who have endured rain, snow and wind in this park without seeing a damn thing. The views from the boat and the water color we traveled through were just unreal.
  3. Navimag Party Night – The night started with the adventurous backpackers posing for pictures in just their bathing suits in front of the glacier, and ended with Sarah salsa dancing with a local Chilean named Mauricio. In between, we bonded with our British roommates, met some Dartmouth lacrosse players and were entertained by a Dutch airline pilot that is surely too young to fly passenger planes.
  4. First view of Cochamo Valley – Arriving by horseback to a wide open clearing and being surrounded by gigantic granite walls that climbers dream about was indeed memorable.
  5. Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

    Ted’s birthday celebration – A great seafood dinner, and some drinks with new friends.

  6. Staying at Francisco’s house – This man has good taste. His house is great, his view is from a postcard, his puppy is adorable and he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We made ourselves at home.
  7. Walking along the shore of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park with our shoes off and feet in the water – Not your typical beach but a gorgeous shoreline along a fjord nonetheless.
  8. Rafting – Thanks to Gerardo and Adventures Within Reach, Ted and I got to kick off Ted’s birthday was a ½ day white-water rafting trip. We had a raft to ourselves (with a guide, of course) and had a hilariously wet time.
  9. Meeting inspiring people – Kurt and Armin have a pretty awesome thing going at Campo Aventura. A tourist operation in a foreign country may not be for everyone, but the point is that they had BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) and they went for it.
  10. Endless daylight – Okay, it doesn’t stay light all night like it does in Alaska and Northern Scandinavia but it stays light until after 10pm and brightens up again by 5am. We kept getting messed up with the time because the lighting outside did not reflect the time it said on our watches.


  1. Food on the Navimag – We have been spoiled with some amazing food on our trip but the food on the Navimag left something to be desired. Think cafeteria food.
  2. Rough Seas on the Navimag

    Big Wave night on the Navimag – I hate to be picking on the Navimag as we did thoroughly enjoy ourselves, however, the rolling waves on our second night at sea were intense and many people were miserable. We weren’t miserable, per se, but it wasn’t fun.

  3. First dorm bed experience – I thought being 30 and being married would somehow prevent us from sharing a dorm room on our travels however, I was wrong. The cost of stuff in Chile is not cheap and we opted for a dorm room at one of our hostels to save a little money (it would not be the last).
  4. Constant wind and cold – Particularly in the way southern part of Chile. We were there on the front end of their summer but you wouldn’t know it. I was walking around with my down jacket and my rain coat on top of it (as a wind-breaker) at all times.
  5. An unplanned long walk – We arrived in Chile by bus and having no Chilean pesos handy, we had to schlep our bags and our stuff for several miles from the highway to our hostel. At least Ted has an amazing sense of direction.


  1. Thanksgiving, Chilean-style

    Thanksgiving – We didn’t have turkey, but we did roast a bird (chicken). Drew whipped up an amazing gravy and some yams. We topped it off with mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls. Mmmm.

  2. Pisco Sours – Pisco Sours are a delicious cocktail served down here that we quite love. Peru thinks they invented Pisco Sours and Chile thinks they did. After drinking many in both countries, we’ve got to say that Chile has got our vote hands down.
  3. Amazing seafood dinner with Gerardo – Gerardo is the local Chilean that we met with several times and who owns the rafting company in town. We let him pick the restaurant and do the ordering and he hit the ball out of the park.
  4. Chino workin the dough

    Francisco’s Meal – Francisco was a busy man when we were down visiting him in Puerto Natales, but on one of the nights we were all around, he spoiled us with some delicious chile, fresh homemade bread and some of the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted.

  5. Homemade bread in Cochamo Valley – After our 5+ hour horseback ride into the Cochamo Valley, we were welcomed with fresh homemade bread for a snack. It was amazing. Our hostess proceeded to make more batches of fresh bread which we continued to eat for dinner and again for breakfast the next morning.

To see more of the great time we had here, check out our Best of Chile photos.

Extremo Sur

It was such a great feeling to get off the Navimag Ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile, and have friends to call. Puerto Natales is at the tip of Chile – Extremo Sur (south) as it is called – and Ted and I have not one, but two great friends living down south.

Drew is a Boulder connection who moved down here over a year ago and just fell in love with the place. He is now managing the one and only microbrewery in town and dabbling with many other smaller projects. He’d spent the previous cold, dark winter studying Spanish, and it showed – impressively. Chilean Spanish is particularly difficult to speak and understand not only because of the speed and pronunciation but due to the ridiculous amount of slang used between Chileans. Drew was speaking like a local by the time we caught up with him.

Drew, whipping up Thanksgiving dinner

Our other friend Francisco is Chilean, born and raised in Puerto Natales. He lived in Boulder for several years and now splits his time between the US for our summer months and Chile for their summer months. He does a lot of guiding in Patagonia both in Chile and Argentina which keeps him super busy during the tourist season.

Francisco, whipping up some fresh bread

Both Drew and Francisco were amazing and generous hosts, and we are so grateful for the time we got to spend down there. Ted and I stayed at Francisco’s house for nearly a week, but he was only there for a couple days of it (due to his guiding schedule). He has an amazing place just outside of town with a wicked view and the most adorable puppy, Poco, that we got to watch. We loved cooking food at his place, taking life easy and staying in one place for more than a couple days.

View from Francisco's back yard

Sarah and Poco

Drew also works entirely too much, but Ted and I visited his bar every night to say hello and enjoy some American-inspired food and delicious micro-brewed beer. We covertly planned our visit to coincide with Thanksgiving as Drew is an amazing cook and we knew our meal would only benefit from his culinary skills and company.

Thanksgiving Dinner - Chilean-Style

Drew and Francisco have a very good thing going on in Extremo Sur, and it was a treat to see such great friends on our trip, and to see them so happy was icing on the cake.

The Boulder Crew in Natales

The Highest Capital in the World

La Paz is intense – in a good way. You can’t help but be blown away before even getting off the bus because you enter the city from above and wind your way down into the massive valley where the heart of the city is located, underneath the shadow of the 21,122 ft. Illimani Volcano.

Before you arrive, the guidebooks and a few travelers scare you with stories of complex scams (fake tourist police demanding to see/steal your passport), nasty distractions (someone spilling ketchup or spitting on you and then relieving you of your wallet as you clean yourself up), and corrupt taxi drivers (picking up additional passengers and then “kidnapping” you to an ATM and demanding you remove money). Needless to say, we were a little cautious when we arrived into the craziness that is La Paz.

I’m convinced that no one from La Paz would be overwhelmed by downtown Manhattan because the semi-organized chaos of La Paz’s streets and sidewalks would have them more than prepared. You constantly have to watch where you are going so as not to run down an old woman or get hit by a car or step in a hole in the sidewalk. But at the same time you want to look anywhere and everywhere all at once. There are people on the side of the streets selling anything from spices, to children’s bath toys, to toilet seats (which are pathetically underused in this country). There are markets that take up blocks and blocks that include practical items such a clothes as well as a witch’s market where you can buy an alpaca fetus, among other items to bring you luck or others harm.

Not only is the city a buzzing and fascinating place, it is surprisingly walkable. We spent several days exploring on foot and could have easily wandered more. We were also looking forward to doing some day trips and trekking in the nearby mountains, but our plans were foiled! One of the most popular day trips to do out of La Paz is to mountain bike the “world’s most dangerous road”. However, when we inquired about the trip in a travel office on our first day in the city, we learn that the access road to both the bike trip and other popular trekking was currently blocked by protesting coca farmers. The government had made an unpopular decision and the result was a road block for an interminable amount of time. Well then!

As it turns out, we had several contacts and friends of friends to look up in La Paz. Estefania is our friend who lives in Denver and as she is Bolivian, she has lots of friends and family that live here. She put us in touch with her cousin Ale who was an amazing and generous host. Ted and I got to explore parts of the city that folks don’t always venture off to see and we were even invited to brunch with Ale (and Estefania’s) extended family and friends to celebrate her younger sister’s first communion.

Ale and Estafania’s mom (via helpful emails!) also recommended we go see a pena in the city. Penas feature traditional dances and music from local Andean culture. The performance was vibrant and interactive, with the dancers pulling us up on stage, and musicians playing songs from the home country of each visitor (we got an Elvis tune sung for us). Though there were definitely other tourists there, I was surprised that nearly half was room was people from La Paz who had come to see the show.

A huge thanks to Estefania for the introduction, to Ale for taking the time to show us around La Paz and to her family for making us feel welcome!

Fortunate Timing

We had a lot of opportunities to conduct trip research in Peru (best job ever!) for our good friends at Adventures Within Reach. The reason there were so many trips to check-out was because our time there coincided with the largest travel industry gathering in Latin America called TravelMart. Buyers and sellers of trips from all over the world, gathered in Lima and to incentivize the buyers (i.e. tour operators in North America, such as Adventures Within Reach), sellers (i.e. Mountain Lodges of Peru) offered low to no cost opportunities for people to go on their trips (known as “familiarization” or FAM trips in industry lingo). We were happy to be those people!

And another wonderful benefit of the TravelMart being in Lima when we were there meant that we were delivered another cute laptop computer just like the one we had stolen from us in Ecuador! A huge thank you to Mark Lewis in Boulder for doing the on-the-ground shopping to replace our belongings, and an equally big thank you to Barbara and Robin at Adventures Within Reach for schlepping our items all the way from Colorado to Peru. We can’t thank you guys enough!

Nothing Cheers Me Up Like the Beach

I think it was lucky that we were headed to the beach when our stuff got stolen, because though I was bummed to have been the victim of theft, we were thankfully in a relaxing, beautiful environment to get our minds off the frustration.

Courtney, a friend of mine from my triathlon training group in Boulder, is currently living with her husband Jed in Montañita, Ecuador for several months. Courtney and Jed are also on a bit of one-year sabbatical themselves posting up for three months at a time in four different locations around the globe. They were conveniently in Ecuador where we were and they were nice enough to invite us to visit.

They´ve got a great pad within blocks of the down-town area and the beach. Montañita is a tiny little town that caters to tourists – both local and not-so local. There are lots of different languages being spoken, lots of fruity cocktails to drink and lots of dreadlocks. Though very different than the rest of our Ecuador experience, I have to say that it was quite a treat – almost like a vacation from a vacation.

We ate delicious and inexpensive seafood every night. Courtney and Jed got us out on surf boards and shared some tips. We enjoyed several of the fancy drinks they make there with our favorite being the hard to pronounce capiroska (vodka, sugar, lime juice and limes). They make a similar drink with sugarcane alcohol but Courtney recommended the vodka version!

Ted and I were also lucky enough to take a whale watching tour. We were told that we were nearing the end of the season so it might be hard to find the whales. Also, if we did find them they might not be breeching or as exciting as they are in July and August when they are trying to attract mates. However, we not only saw LOTS of whale, we saw them close up, we saw them far away, we saw them jumping, the whole works!

A huge thank you to Courtney and Jed for their hospitality! I should also thank Courtney for her help with the police report because her Spanish is fantastic and came in SUPER handy.  It was such a treat to visit your little paradise and I hope we can rendez-vous again with you on your next stop in Argentina!

Kicking it Off in Our Own Backyard

Ok, this post is a bit out of order. In the whirlwind of packing, prepping, and diving into this trip, I’ve gotten a little behind… Here is why our departure was so nuts and so fun:

July 14-28: Two weeks in Michigan. Amazing times – our first nephew is born (welcome Gavin Benjamin Martens!), quality time with the families in Ann Arbor and northern Michigan, Cottage Weekend, etc.

July 29-31: Move out. Everything into storage or friends’ basements/garages. Note to self – moving takes longer than you think it will, even with the help of friends and family. Trying to work during moving is also difficult.

Aug 3: Last work day for nearly a year! Amazingly good feeling, except that I wasn’t done with work obligations yet (and won’t finish until after week 1 in Ecuador).

Aug 4: Work and pack. Work and pack. Tie up loose ends.

Aug 5-8 : The world trip begins in Colorado. First, we drive to Durango where we head into the Weminuche Wilderness area for some backpacking in the Chicago Basin. Having not had the opportunity to get into the backcountry at all this summer, we had to squeeze in at least one trip before taking off! This was a special one – the Chicago Basin is one of the most amazing landscapes in all of Colorado, and it’s only accessible by the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (or by adding an extra day of hiking in).  The DSNGR ride is an experience in itself. Operating continuously since 1887, this steam engine used to provide access to the mines in the Weimenuche region. Today, it’s a tourist attraction and super-cool backcountry access vehicle.

After a 2.5 hour train ride, we arrived at the trailhead, which led us up to the Chicago Basin over 6 fairly steep miles. The Basin, surrounded by three 14,000ft peaks, was as majestic and picturesque as we had hoped. On day two, we slugged our way to the top of our 4th 14er, Mt. Windom.

The unexpected excitement of the trip was our regular and very close interaction with a few families of mountain goats. The Chicago Basin is very highly visited, and the mountain goat population has grown fond of the delicious salty clothing and urine of these frequent visitors. We knew of this issue before arriving, but somehow, we managed to choose the campsite that intersected their daily migration patterns, and they took a liking to us. These guys had no qualms in coming as close as 5 feet from our sitting position, and would occasionally let us know that we were unwelcome guests by marking their territory while looking in our direction.  Fortunately, we made it out without incident, and now it makes for a good story.

Aug 9-10: Telluride. For the 3rd time in 2010, I had the opportunity to visit Colorado’s most picturesque town. This time, it was to see two nights of my favorite band, Phish, and they rocked that box canyon. Joined by great friends in the best live music venue around, it was a killer way to kick off our big adventure.

Aug 11-13: Pack and work. Goodbye happy hours and parties. Way too much to do before leaving…

Aug 13: Our final night in Colorado, and one hell of a goodbye party and show. Despite a lengthy break from the previous performance, Zen Mustache members all brought their A-game, and we played a rockin show. Aside from friends and family, I will miss playing music with these guys more than anything else.

Aug 14: Without sleeping a wink after the show (and running a 4:30am last-ditch attempt to find our vaccination cards (unsuccessfully), we head to the airport at 6am. The adventure begins…

With a little help from our friends (and family!)

As many of you know, Ted and I have been dreaming about this trip for a long time. As our savings and planning came together and we realized that we were actually going to be doing this, we were both incredibly excited and amazingly overwhelmed.

Though please don’t interpret this as complaining, the last couple weeks in Colorado were some of the most stressful and emotional that I’ve had to deal with in my recent memory. The logistics and planning involved in moving, taking a leave of absence from work, organizing bank accounts, purchasing insurance, and oh, how the list goes on, is certainly complicated. And as family, friends and fun are so important to us, Ted and I juggled our insane To-Do lists with trips to Michigan and SW Colorado as well as happy hours, ‘family dinners’ and concerts with our favorite people.

For anyone that saw or hung out with us in the last month or so – thank you! We not only love and appreciate you, but you probably have done or are doing us some sort of favor!

For letting us stay at your house after our lease was up; for letting us store anything from musical instruments, a foosball table to a CAR at your home; for helping us move; for letting us borrow a truck; for making us lasagna; for taking us to the airport; for coming out to say goodbye at the Boulder happy hour and Zen Mustache show; for volunteering to drop off our car in SE Parker and encouraging us to stay and have a beer instead; for keeping our mail and bills and life in order while we are away; for picking up extra projects at work in our absence; for your phone calls and hugs and supportive words; for everything I’m failing to mention here but that made our trip a reality – THANK YOU!

Those two words do not do justice to the enormous amount of appreciation we have for the people in our lives that we love – but we mean them from the bottom of our hearts and are 100% positive that this trip would not be possible without you.

Now, come visit.

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