Happy Birthday Gianna! Today marks Gigi’s 1st birthday (our good friends’ baby). We so wish we could be there this weekend to celebrate with everyone and have a few GigiTini’s in Gianna’s honor. Here’s our cheers to you—Happy 1st Birthday Gigi!

Since today also marks our 1-month on the road, we decided to update on how it is really going. Here are a few lessons learned from our first month of travel:

Be prepared. In our world, being prepared means having snacks, using the facilities, and having toilet paper before buying bus tickets. We are adjusting to how things work in Ecuador, but we are slow learners.The bus scene usually goes something like this. After a 4 hour bus ride, we arrive at the bus terminal prepared to deal with hawkers for our next bus. Prior to arriving, we hold a mini pep talk in that this will go differently than the times before. We need to eat, go to the bathroom, and take a break from the bus travel. But, we do not know the departure time for our next destination or what companies serve that area, so we decide to run the gauntlet of bus hawkers. We try to be nonchalant when asking for Cuenca departures, but all is lost—we are grabbed and rushed to one of many nondescript counters and tickets are issued before we have a chance to stammer much of anything in Spanish. We are then raced to the bus, with me resisting because this means we failed yet again, while the guy leading us pleads more and more for us to hurry, We are shoved on a bus—and we are off. Chris manages to buy two bags of potato chips before the bus departs. We managed Ritz crackers on the bus ride before this (the transaction went much the same way). So, our breakfast consisted of Ritz crackers and our lunch potato chips. It will be another 4 hours (total of eight) before we can go to the bathroom. Agony, I tell you …. total agony.

Being prepared also refers to knowing good hostel choices before arriving at your destination. This usually involves doing internet searches and talking to fellow travelers, but it is well worth the extra time and energy. More often than not, we arrive in pouring rain with nowhere to stay. We grab our trusted Lonely Planet guide, and head for the place that sounds the best. This rarely works in our favor. Yes, we have a roof over our heads, and in the moment there is no way we want to head back into the rain, but simply put the Lonely Planet on a Shoestring sucks (at lease for Ecuador). We spend a night in shabby, dirty quarters and head out the next morning to find a better hostel at the same price (which we did yet again yesterday), And, by the way, there are so many great hostels at low prices, it is somewhat disturbing the Lonely Planet gets it so wrong.

Stay on budget. To stay on budget, we try to find hostels offering breakfast with the stay. Breakfasts usually consists of scrambled eggs, fresh croissants/rolls, coffee, and juice. Breakfast is usually so large`it holds us over until 2-4pm. So, we usually only eat one other large meal per day (rice and chicken, ham & cheese sandwich, or empanadas) and grab a small snack of fruit and bread to get us by if we get hungry later. Lunch/dinner specials (almuerzos) are the best bet to stay on budget. They usually range from $1.50-$3.00 for soup, salad, main (chicken & rice), and dessert. We are getting braver about checking out the almuerzos (meaning, yesterday we ordered our first one). For $3 total, we ate like kings.

We budgeted $30 for hostels, but we have never paid above $24 for a nice room with private bathroom. Thus, we are doing a fabulous job at staying on budget. Unfortunately, we did not load the correct software to keep an updated budget online, but we will do so upon our return. Our daily average for accommodation, meals, internet, and entertainment is $20, $20, $2, and $5, respectively. Thus, we spend approximately $46-$50 per day.

Stay positive. Chris keeps our glass half full. All in all, after a month of traveling we are doing pretty well. We are healthy, Chris keeps our morale high and our outlook positive, and we are enjoying ourselves. We do miss everyone though, and we think that is the hardest part about traveling.

5 Responses to “Happy Birthday Gigi! And, our one-month update”

  1. Kate says:

    So sweet of you to remember Gigi birthday. We will toast you with cupcakes tonight and Gigitini’s at her party on Sat! Miss you,
    Love, Kate and Gigi

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hey, we bought the LP’s “South America on a Shoestring.” Is this the book you’re referring to? If it sucks, maybe we should ditch it. Any other suggestions for better reads? Eliz.

  3. Jeannie says:

    We miss you! Scout has been enjoying the pictures. she especially liked the blue footed boobies (maybe she just liked saying it!) fisher rolled over the other day – can’t leave him in the living room any more on his mat he automatically ends up on his belly, which he doesn’t like at all! love ya.

  4. Jeri, Chloe and Wyatt says:

    Hey Jodi and Chris,
    We are doing well with our experiment. I will update you on my findings and insights on single parenting soon. We too are learning to live within a budget. Though suprisingly, I have adjusted better then the children. I purchased some volleyball goodie bags off of Amazon. Did you receive any notification? Halloween customes will be purchased from the sight as well so be prepared for a small kickback. Love and miss you guys.

  5. Chris & Emily Cannon says:

    wow. a month already. that’s amazing. congrats on that.
    you couldn’t have picked a better time to be out of the country for an extended period of time. good luck with month 2.