Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Questions and Lists

"Would you do it again?" That's an easy question to answer. It gets a resounding, "Yes!" And so does the other question that usually gets asked before or after this one, "Are you glad you did it?"

The next one is "How have you changed?" and that is going to take awhile to answer. We know that what we have seen, heard, tasted, touched and experienced during the past year has already made an impact on us. But how it becomes woven into the fabric of who we are and the choices we make at any given point in our lives is going to take years to unfold. It's an unknown, but perhaps this is one of the most rewarding parts of this trip. A new adventure to be lived out.

While in Casablanca we started preparing for THE question everyone asks, "What was your favourite part of the trip?" The truth is, we don't really think of it as a Trip. It was a Journey. And we have lots of categories of Favourites. We had fun putting these lists together, and you'll see that we didn't stick to any rules about number of favourites!

Favourite Playground

- Kinsmen Park, Saskatoon, Canada

- St. Kilda's Adventure Playground, Melbourne, Australia

Favourite Places to Swim

- Rock Springs, Florida, USA

- Laguna de Apoyo, Nicarauga

- San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

- Tongelreep, Eindhoven, Holland

- White Beach, Philippines

- Falls at Banfora, Burkina Faso

Favourite Countries

- Philippines - the kids loved having other kids to play with

- Australia - great friends, great sights and all the comforts of home

- Canada - we are still here aren't we

- Nicaragua - lots to see and do and easy to get around (relatively speaking)

- Thailand - food, beaches and elephants

Favourite Bike Rides (this is really all our bike rides)

- Santa Monica, LosAngeles, USA

- Brisbane, Australia

- Ometepe, Nicaragua

- Holland - everywhere

Favourite Forms of Public Transporation

- rickshaw, Bangladesh

- moto trike, Philippines

- tuk tuk, Thailand

- Canadian school buses, Nicaragua

- London Tube, England

Favourite Books

- Elijah of Buxton, Christopher Paul Curtis

- Tales of Greek Heroes, Roger Lacelyn Green

- Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall

- Making Globalization Work, Joseph Stiglitz

Things Stolen

- one camera case - that was it!

Favourite New Foods

- Repocheta, Nicaragua

- Tom Yam soup, Thailand

- Gallo pinto, Nicaragua

- Roti by Bipul, Bangladesh

- Potato Corner Fries, Philippines

Favourite Places to Sleep

- on the beach at Bowron Lakes, BC, Canada

- Los Banos apartment, Philippines

- Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

- YMCA Geneva Park, Ontario, Canada

- sleeping outside at Parc W, Niger

Worst Traffic and Pollution

- Manila, Philippines

- Dhaka, Bangladesh

- Cairo, Egypt

Scariest Moments

- first zip line, Mombacho, Nicaragua

- shortcut between Clinton and Lillooet, BC

- driving in Bangladesh, anywhere

- driving to Batad (rice terraces) in the rain, Philippines

- learning all our flights were cancelled with 5 months left to go

Most Beautiful Views

- 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

- El Encanto, Ometepe, Nicaragua

- Whistler Mountain, BC, Canada

- Batad rice terraces, Philippines

- sunrise on Mt Sinai, Egypt


Hi, it's Simon, son in the Dewilde clan, and I have traveled the world. The first rule that we had was to have fun all the time. Another rule that we had was to pack light. The third rule that we had was to collect as many coins and bills from other countries as we could. Our last rule that we had was to book all of our flights ahead of time. Do not worry if you travel, you do not need to follow all of these rules.

One of the reasons that I like traveling is that it makes me feel so free. Another thing that I like is that I can go wherever I want.

If I were to do this trip again I would stay longer in Australia. I would also stay for a shorter time in Bangladesh. If I were to stay somewhere for more then one year it would be The Philippines.

The capital of the Philippines is Manila, and there is lots of smog. I would rather stay at our Los Banos apartment.

I think traveling is amazing! You should try it too!

By: Agent S

We were back in our house only a couple days and unpacking all the boxes that had been in storage, when we noticed that Danielle had posted this note on her bedroom door, "Sorry it is messy but it is getting better and better - Danielle." We need one of those signs for the front door of the house! We've been back in Canada for three weeks, and there are still boxes in every room of the house - except, ironically, Danielle and Simon's rooms.

We left Niger with a real mix of emotions. It was hard to say goodbye again, especially after such a short visit. At the same time, as you can imagine, we were so excited to start the journey home. We weren't able to get out to the village where we had lived because the coming rainy season and an unreliable vehicle made it all a bit too tenuous. That was a big disappointment, but after a year of extraordinary experiences and so many plans that worked out so smoothly we can't spend too much time lamenting one thing that didn't happen.

Central market in Casablanca.

We spent two days and two nights in Casablanca, Morocco. Exploring the central market, playing on the beach, eating gelato and drinking fresh orange juice (not at the same time - that would be yucky!). We all agreed we'd like to go back.

Danielle outside our hotel room in Casablanca with braided hair and her new dress from Niger.

We moved back into our house the first week of July. John was back at work the following week. And then it was off to the cottage for a week because it's summer time in Canada. The weather has been unseasonably cold which has been a nice break for those of us who got way too much heat in West Africa - but we do feel bad for those who suffered through a cold winter and are longing for some nice warm summer days. Now we're back home and our only summer plans are catching up with family and friends.

This sunset picture was taken by Pam's dad last week at the cottage. It seems like a fitting picture to put at the end of a post about coming home. Our first stop when we left home on Day 1 of our journey was the cottage. We returned a year later with so much to celebrate and be thankful for. It reminded us of the most amazing sunset we saw as we landed at JFK airport. We had been circling in the air over New York City for almost an hour waiting out a thunderstorm. As we landed there were dark clouds encircling the city and we saw some spectacular lightning strikes. But behind the profile of Manhattan we saw one of the most golden sunsets we've ever seen. It was perfect. We had made it back across the ocean. We had traveled for 364 days and the next day would be a short hop to Toronto on Day 365 of our round the world journey. The scene of dark storm clouds kept at bay by the strength of the sun really was our "picture worth a thousand words" of thankfulness for a year of safety and good health, and experiences that we will cherish for the rest of our lives!

The flight to New York was our 26th flight in the year, and marked the first time not all our bags showed up on the luggage carousel. It would be another ten days before the two missing knapsacks were returned. They got separated from our other luggage during the stopover in Madrid, and then separated from each other. One bag went back to Madrid at least once. The other one bounced back and forth between New York and Toronto, and even Montreal, several times. It proved to be another good analogy of how we were feeling those first few days at home - just bouncing around, not really sure where to "land" and maybe a little bit reluctant to stop traveling.

Thanks to all of you who have been following our adventures, and for the words of encouragement that meant so much to us along the way. We hope that each day you experience the wonder and beauty of the world, no matter where you find yourself living and exploring it!