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Phew, what a year!  We have had an amazing 2017 and I’m not sure we’re ready for it to be over, but 2018 is shaping up to be just as great.

With so much happening over the past year, we decided to write a round up post of sorts to remember it all.  It’s amazing how many things we had forgotten about!

We spent the first 7 months of the year living on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad.  Terry was teaching at the Canadian school there.  I was supposed to be supply teaching but the reality was that I spent most of my time as a tour guide or planning our next travel adventure! After a month visit back in Canada (mostly to renew our passports) we were back on the road again, this time to travel full-time for a year.

12 months + 10 countries = 2 big smiles!

Laughing couple with emerald coloured Quilotoa Lake and mountains behind in Ecuador.

 

The Good

Kiteboarding in Tobago

One of the many amazing experiences in Tobago is kiteboarding.  We took advantage of our close proximity and booked ourselves a long weekend of lessons.  They say it takes close to 10 hours of instruction before learners are even ready to try with the board.  Being the ‘athletes’ we are, we were hoping for a slightly quicker learning curve as we only had time for 6 hours.  We had an awesome time!

Unfortunately the winds didn’t cooperate with us and we were only able to get 3-4 hours in (most of those waiting for wind).  Eventually our instructor called it, but not before I got to fly!  Quite literally – as I was learning to body drag, a gust of wind picked me up and sent me through the air before being unceremoniously dumped back in the water.

Student and instructor in Caribbean Sea learning to kitesurf in Tobago.

 

Galápagos Islands

Our most recent adventure was to spend 11 days in the Galápagos Islands.  This is an experience that would top anyone’s list!  We did a land-based, independent trip and just booked two day tours.  Despite mostly doing free and local activities we saw so much wildlife we definitely didn’t feel like we missed anything – except penguins.  I do wish we had made it Isabela Island but I guess it just gives us a reason to return!  Read about our time in the Galapagos here!

Couple standing at top of hike to Pinnacle Rock viewpoint in Galapagos Islands.

Carnival in Trinidad

What an amazing experience!  From the fetes, to J’Ouvert, to playing mas on carnival Tuesday it was so much fun.  As soon as it was over we were talking about returning for next year’s festivities…

Couple in carnival costume standing in front of elaborate float, Trinidad.

Surfing in Costa Rica

Our year of travel began in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.  This is a small surf and party town and while a week or so is enough here, the surfing was perfect for a beginner.  From here we went to Nosara, another great surf town and then, after a two week house sit, Jacó.  Jacó had the last ‘friendly’ beginner waves of the three I think, and the coldest water so I stayed on the beach there.  However, over our time in the country we had plenty of fun catching, and missing, waves.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRIK3NMSu7s” width=”800″]

 

 

Hiking in Dominica

One of our stops over Easter was to the little known Caribbean island of Dominica.  This place is amazing!  From the moment you leave the airport, you are surrounded by jungle and ocean.  We rented a car to help us explore and stayed on both the east and west coasts of the island.  Each day we completed at least one hike.  We discovered hidden beach coves, stunning waterfalls and even a boiling lake atop a volcano!  While there we also took a whale watching trip.  It was an amazing trip and a place we would love to return.  You can read about the Dominica hikes we experienced here!

Couple selfie on top of Scotts Head Peninsula in Dominica with bright blue Caribbean Sea behind.

Nephew Time

One of the worst things about being away long term is not seeing family and friends, especially the little ones who grow up so quickly!  Being back in Canada for August gave us a chance to see a lot of people.  Not only did we see get to hang out with our three nephews (who thankfully didn’t forget us) but we also got to meet our brand new fourth nephew, born during our time in Trinidad.

Terry playing with 3 nephews in an outdoor pool.

New Friends

We have met a lot of awesome people this year!  From friends made in Trinidad, to new friends in Panama and Ecuador.  We even made some short term friends on day trips!  These people have contributed to a lot of great memories this year and we hope the friendships continue into 2018.

Compilation of four pictures of groups of friends in various places.

 

The Bad

Mother Nature

We’ve had our share of run-ins with the elements this year.  Hurricane Bret passed over Trinidad in June.  It’s the first to set it’s sights on the twin island nation in years as they generally pass to the north.  While in Costa Rica we got hit with a couple of storms again, one forcing the country to declare a state of emergency.  Our final encounter was in Manta, Ecuador when we were awakened by the entire apartment building swaying and shaking in a 6.0 earthquake!

 

Dengue fever for Barbados

One of our most anticipated trips of the spring was to Barbados with a group of Trinis for a squash tournament.  We were excited both for Barbados and the tournament and Terry had worked some magic to get 3 days off work unpaid.  The morning we were to leave Terry woke up feeling unwell.  By the trip to the airport he was worse and by the next day he mostly moved from bed to sun lounger and back to bed.  I have never seen him so sick!  The only times he ventured out were when we had squash matches scheduled.  Somehow he managed to play – and win – his first match.  His second match didn’t go so well – he looked ready to puke by the second point!  Given that the day before he had barely managed to get out of bed, I’d still call that a win…  Of course, he started feeling a little more human just in time to return to Trinidad, and back to work the following Monday.  Needless to say Barbados remains largely uncharted territory for us!

Terry curled up under a towel on a sun lounger, sick with Dengue fever in Barbados.

 

 

Traveling

We love to travel, obviously.  However, the actual traveling part sucks!  This year we have spent countless hours in departure lounges, bus terminals, in planes, buses, cars and ferries.  Flight delays in the Caribbean are far too common – LIAT airlines is ‘affectionately’ know as “Leave Island Any Time” by locals!  Not once but twice we got caught at Piarco Airport Arrivals by work action.  The immigration officers call in sick but for one person and the line literally wound its way all the way back to the arrivals gates – and didn’t move.  When family flew in we spent two hours waiting for them to emerge from the depths of the airport.  Flying back from our doomed Barbados trip, we got to experience it on the other side.

 

 

The Ugly

Fusion

In what universe did I think signing up for this endurance race (with 3 athletes) was a good idea??  Needless to say, I was the slowest on the team!  Our day started at 2:30am, the race began at 4:30am and about 11 hours later I had run/walked 50km while Terry had traded some of his running for a bike.  It turns out my hiking shoes were not made for road running and by the end of it I had more blisters than toes.  Fast forward a few months and I was down to 8 toenails.  We flew to Grenada the very next morning and the first few days were a struggle just walking up and down the stairs to our apartment!

Four people in matching red shirts and team numbers running through a field to finish an adventure race in Trinidad.

 

A week without water or a fridge/freezer

In April, we returned from our Caribbean Island hopping vacation to our Trinidad apartment.  Before we reached the door we could already smell… something.  We opened the door and suddenly recoiled.  It seemed that our fridge/freezer had decided the quit on us.  During the hottest, driest two weeks of the year, by the smell we would guess it had quit early in our two week vacation!  As luck would have it, our landlady’s water pump also broke the next day.  We spent the next week ‘showering’ in the pool or at the club, flushing the toilet with buckets of pool water and eating fast food.  It took us two weeks to get the smell out of the fridge and put food back in it.  Luckily the water came back on about 6 days later.

 

 

What your best memories of 2017?  What would you like to forget?  Comment below!

 

Want to make some memories of your own?  Use our Travel Tools page to help you plan, book, save and remember your travels!

 

 


Categories: Travel Journal

Claire

I'm Claire, a teacher who loves to travel! Together with my husband, we have a combined 40 years of teaching experience and 5 years living and travelling overseas! We're here to help with teaching tips and resources focused on Language Arts, Math and Assessment AND share our best travel ideas with useful itineraries and destination information. Do you teach, travel or both?

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