I decided to bring you all up to proper time with our most current activity. We just wrapped up a month in the USA. The three of us (Mike, Geneva, Nica) flew from Bogota to Arizona and back to Bogota.
The journey began in Bogota where we stayed with our friends. Nica enjoyed time with their new puppy, Catira. If you have a VERY sharp eye, you will recognize her from a visit to the family pig farm back in 2018. We met her mom and litter in this blog post (click here to open a new window to the old post) She is the puppy nearest Mike’s foot in the last block of photos. She has grown quite a bit and is much healthier now.
We arranged for storage of our truck camper with a kind and generous man on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. We spent an afternoon removing perishable food, cleaning tanks and preparing her for storage. But there was much more to do.
In preparation to fly Nica to America we had to complete a great deal of paperwork. This included approval of her passport by a local veterinarian. This document contains a complete record of her vaccinations and related treatments. Here she proudly displays her ICA approval from Colombia. To obtain this we had to provide many copies of documents, pay a small fee and wait in a line for a while. This form means she is ready to go. Due to her special paperwork, Nica was able to ride in the cabin. She had to sit on the floor or on our laps for each of the two, 4-hour flights.
She was so excited to finally arrive that she climbed on to Geneva’s lap to look out the window. The view of the horizon of our home state of Arizona is twinkly and beautiful from the sky! We arrived exhausted and went directly to sleep. Our friends who hosted us have been storing the VW bug for the past few years. When we finally felt rested, Mike went out and began working on the VW. It took a bit of tinkering, but after a new battery and some carb cleaner, she was ready to run! Here is a little video of her first run as she exits the storage and garage area of our awesome friends.
The main reason for our visit was the wedding of our eldest son to a fantastic woman. The wedding was beautiful and we enjoyed meeting up with family from all across the USA as they attended the wedding. And after the wedding, we stayed in Tucson and house-sat for the newlyweds as they went on their honeymoon. This gave us a chance to adjust back into life in the USA in the comfort of their home. We also took this opportunity to help Nica learn about the desert, a biome she had never experienced.
In addition to the little 1969 VW bug, we were also reunited with our 1985 VW Vanagon. This is the original “slow car, fast house” that carried us all around the USA and through Canada to Alaska. The first two years of blog posts are about the travels in this van. Having the two VW’s offered us the flexibility to drive all around the state and save on hotels and hassles. It was great to have the family jewels together. And it was a funny reminder that this is all we own! Three vehicles make up the sum total of our possessions. We own the truck camper rig (stored in Colombia) and these two old VW’s. Keeping it real, keeping it simple!
Of course, ownership of an old VW means being prepared for things to go wrong. The first was the blow-out of a tire on the highway. We were on the way to buy new tires, when this happened. Obviously two years of storage is hard on tires! But once those tires were changed, we cruised those two VW’s all over the highways of Arizona. Nica learned the joys of riding through the hot desert with the wind in her face.
There were many wonderful parts of our trip and the best parts included the time we spent with family and friends. A day of kayaking on a lake in Arizona was extremely enjoyable.
Nica had the opportunity to hang out with many new dogs and learn the behaviors of a house dog. She learned to bark at new sounds in the front yard, race out the back door to bark at nonsense in the back yard and even to play with various stuffed toys. But she never learned to use a dog door. Here is a funny photo of her cousins playing RUFF and eating her face! (no dogs were harmed in that play session)
We were a little worried that we might lose some of our Spanish language skills while we were there. A full month of speaking English is risky. But fortunately we found helpful little tips like this restaurant bathroom sign, to keep us in practice. One of our final, fun activities was a couple of hours at the Verde River. This is a beautiful area and the dogs explored it fully. This included wet feet, stick chasing, swimming and mud wrestling. The final stage was a full race across the desert to catch a ride home.
The finale’ of our visit was a gathering of family members, friends and food. This eclectic mix included our three sons, their terrific wives, sister and brother-in-law, great aunt and uncle and some random overlanders that happened to be in the area! (HAHAHA) We gave thanks for being surrounded by such great people! And we ate some delicious food.
During this visit we had the opportunity to share meals with dear friends, park in the driveways of loved ones, volunteer work with former colleagues, meet in pubs for cheers and laughs, work on projects with the kids, catch up on local stories, tour homes, try new restaurants and buy way more stuff than we needed. We packed every moment of the trip full of fun and love. We want to send a special hug to each and every person that helped make our visit so rewarding and incredible.
But all good things do eventually come to an end, including this time in Arizona. We drove the two VW’s back to their storage locations and tucked them away to wait for our next visit. Then we packed up our excessive baggage and went to the airport for a long, long overnight flight. At check-in we were perky and ready to tackle the skies. But by the time we arrived in South America, cleared customs with 5 pieces of luggage containing 8 different car parts, 2 carry-ons holding the overflow items, 2 humans who were barely awake and a dog that had nervous diarrhea while walking through the duty free zone ……. we were exhausted. But we were back in Bogota, Colombia!
Let’s check out a little more of Colombia. Then we will head back to Ecuador for some highlights. And soon we will be in Peru.