Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

As One Journey Ends, Another Begins…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 05 15th, 2011

Imagine having one day of pure, unadulterated freedom. I’m not talking about just a day off work, or school, or parenthood; I’m talking about a day of nonexistent responsibility: A day in which your job, your schoolwork, your house, your bills, none of it exists. You answer to no one for a day: not your parents, not your teachers, not your employers, not your children; A day empty of all fears, and worries, and doubts, and concerns; a day void of competition; a day when you truly live for yourself, and no one else.

Now add to that day:

Discovery. Discovery of yourself and parts of the world you never experienced: new cultures, new landscapes, new environments, new people – all which help transform you into the person you have always strived to be.

Adventure. Adventure in all forms. Daring to venture into unknown territories; facing your greatest fears, and trusting beyond a level in which you never thought possible of yourself.

Celebration. Celebration in all things big and small; enjoying the achievements of yourself and others, absent of the spitefulness that exists in your everyday world.

What would you give for this one day?

How about 304 of them:

So what did I learn on this ultimate adventure? Of the many, this is the most important:

“We cannot judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and (their own limits). It is one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it is another to think yours is the only path.” Another great quote from Mr. Paulo Coelho.

And as this journey ends, another begins. A new journey filled with discovery, adventure, and celebration; for I am an explorer searching for my treasure, and who can ask for a better life than that?



Nearing the End…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 27th, 2011

We cannot deny it any longer: We are very near to our return date to the States. For those who do not know, we are returning on Thursday, March 31st.

We are experiencing a range of emotions right now, including excitement in seeing our family and friends, sadness for the trip being almost complete, and gratefulness for the adventures we had. It is all, well, a bit exhausting.

One emotion we are not plagued with: regret. Having literally to start our lives over from scratch, with our savings drained and our possessions diminished, you may think that we may have a little confliction in having put ourselves in this position.

But do we have even a small amount of the emotion? Not one ounce. I would never take back this experience for anything in the world. My perspective on life has changed, and I owe it all to the wonderful people and places I have come across on our journey.

The world is a fascinating and beautiful place. I will NEVER regret my decision to travel the world, even in the obstacles I will experience in the near future. After all, I have many to aid me along the way: a fantastic lifelong partner, a doggie that loves me unconditionally, and a few important lessons that I will never forget…



Buenos Aires es muy Divertido con Marcela y Fernando!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 22nd, 2011

We had yet another fantastic CouchSurfing experience, this time in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Meet Fernando and Marcela, a young and energetic couple new to the CouchSurfing community. We were their first guests, and my god, was their hospitality amazing!

They took us to a party to meet their friends, a Tangaria and on a tour of the city! It doesn’t get much better than that in the world of CS.

(This is the Casa Rosada, the Argentinian version of the White House)

(La Boca, the poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires)

This is Aaron and I attempting to tango, by the way. As evidenced in the video, we were not very good.

One of the best parts of CSing in Argentina was getting to practice our Spanish. Fernando and Marcela were very good with their English, however, we tried to speak Spanish with them as much as possible. By the end of the weekend, we had gotten considerably better, but still a long way off from being fluent.

We have decided that we wanted to keep pursuing the Spanish language as much as possible when we get back to the States. I don’t know if I have mentioned this in previous posts, but as we have traveled, I have realized how pathetic we are as Americans for not being fluent any another languages. Some people we have met are fluent in 3, 4, 5 languages, let alone 2, and I think as a nation we really need to step up to the plate a little bit. After all, as more and more Hispanics move into the country, we are going to have to communicate with these people, whether we want to or not.

Adios, y gracias por leer!



Jet Laaagggg

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 22nd, 2011

It is now Tuesday, the 22nd, at 1:15 AM, and I am in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Why am I still awake? Because I am still on New Zealand time, 7 hours earlier (7:15 PM on Monday). We have been here since Wednesday the 16th, 6 days now, and my sleep schedule is STILL messed up!

Yesterday, I fell asleep at 6 AM and slept until 7 PM. I KNOW, it’s HORRIBLE! I am wasting the last few days of our world trip! But I can’t help it, I am so tired during the day and so awake at night!

Any suggestions on how to get over jet lag faster? I told Aaron he HAS to get me up tomorrow, no matter what. I need to get to the beach so I will have a nice tan when I get back to the States!



Meet the Crockers

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 15th, 2011

While on our tour of Africa, we met another couple in our group who we instantly got along with. They were Nikita Crocker and Erik Edwards, traveling from London through Africa before reaching their final destination: New Zealand.

Wait, what?!

Brief background: Nikita is originally from South Africa. Her family moved to New Zealand when she was 10. When she graduated, she decided to delay going to university, instead traveling to London to live for a brief time. There she met Erik. She needed to return to New Zealand to start college, and Erik decided to take a year off of school to  go with her. They also wanted to do a little bit of traveling beforehand, hence the Africa trip.

Erik and Nikita are living with Nikita’s family in Auckland. Erik will be returning to London in August 2011.

Anyway, Nikita’s family (The Crocker’s, FYI) was kind enough to offer their home to us for the majority of our stay in New Zealand. We were, once again, lucky enough to stay with some locals who could give us insider’s perspective of Auckland. And the Crocker’s did not disappoint!

Our first weekend, we visited the black sand beaches. AMAZING. My favorite were the starfish. I have never seen starfish like this before:

We followed our beach day with a 21st birthday party New Zealand style. A 21st birthday is for some reason a big celebration, although no one could give me an explanation as to why. They can drink at 18, so drinking legally is not the reason, unlike Americans. Well, whatever.

As you can tell by the pictures, we had an amazing time. By the way, what we are doing with our hands is making the ‘W’ sign for ‘winning.’ We were ‘Sheening’ all night, for sure.

During the week, as seen in my original post, we traveled down to Wellington (still on the north island, about 8 hours south). We met up with some more Crocker’s down there, including Nikita’s sister and cousin. Her cousin, Robert, and his family (wife Claire, sons Ben (4) and George (2)) were even kind enough to let us stay a night in their home! I could shoot myself, though, because I forgot to take a picture with them (boo). But I did get a picture with sister Julie!

The next weekend Nikita and Erik took us to a concert, more precisely an Indian music concert since we were not able to go into India (did I mention I love them?). We went to yet ANOTHER 21st birthday, another beach, and a 13K run called “Round the Bays.” Nikita and Aaron ran it, Erik and I walked it (shocker, I know!).

We made dinner for the Crocker’s twice, to show our appreciation. Tacos the first night, and my Great Aunt Nat’s Casserole the second night. I hope they enjoyed it!

Making new friends has been a very important part of our trip, and Erik and Nikita our some of the best ones we made during this 10 months. They are two people that we definitely don’t want to lose touch with, and we hope that they come see us in the States sooner rather than later.

Even if we have to help them get there. 😉

Love you guys, and miss you already!



One Ring to Rule Them All…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 10th, 2011

Aww, New Zealand. Known for its gorgeous landscape, thanks mostly to the filming of the Lord of the Rings series. Naturally we wanted to see as many of these film sites as possible. Luckily, we saw quite a few on our road trip from Wellington to Auckland.

We started our LOTR adventure in Wellington, at Weta Studios. They are the wizards behind all the special effects and props of the series. They don’t let you into the studio due to confidentiality of upcoming film projects, but there is a small museum you can visit. I especially enjoyed my time with Gollum:

Just outside of Wellington lies Kaitoke Regional Park, where they filmed the Rivendell scenes. It is made up of native New Zealand bush, and it was absolutely worth the visit, even if they had not filmed LOTR scenes there.

Next we headed north towards Auckland to Tongariro National Park. This is where they filmed the Mount Doom scenes. As you can see, a lot of special effects went into transitioning this beautiful landscape to the Ork-infested hellhole that is Mount Doom:

Finally, we headed to the town of Matamata, and the site of the Shire. The scenes were filmed on a private sheep farm. They now run a tour company (called Hobbiton) where they take tourists to the exact site of the filming on their farm. They charge $66 NZ, and of course, Aaron and I are much too cheap for that. So we didn’t go to the exact site of the filming (which is fenced off), but we still went to the general area, which was pretty enough:

(They were about to start filming The Hobbit, so they had confidentiality signs up.)



Au$tralia

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 4th, 2011

Australia, if I could describe it in one word: OK. Sure, the close interaction with the koalas was one of my favorite moments of the trip, and the 12 Apostles on the southern coast are breathtaking, not to mention the beauty that is the Sydney Harbor, but still: just OK.

Before I go into the negatives, let’s view some of the positives:

The Sydney Harbor DID offer one of those “I can’t believe I am here” moments…

Australia offers beautiful beaches (including the famous Bondi Beach, known for its excellent surfing conditions)…

And, again, the 12 Apostles are breathtaking, and I might even go as far as saying that it was one of the most beautiful sites I have even seen.

But really, when I think back on Australia, I think of it as being a more expensive version of the United States.

It was not culturally stimulating, since Australian and American society is so similar. If I were to pay thousands of dollars on airfare to travel across the world, I would at least want to go somewhere where I can discover new and exciting cultures.

And, trust me, when I tell you it is expensive, I mean it is EXPENSIVE. I knew we were in trouble when I walked into a grocery store (chain, mind you) and was feeling like indulging in some soda. That was a “no go,” since the 12 oz. bottle was $4.00! Same with candy bars (minimum $2.50), a pint of beer (minimum $7.00), a meal at a fast food restaurant (minimum $9.00), and so on and so on… camping was minimum $30.00, hostel was minimum $27.00 a person (and trust me, it was lacking)… don’t get me started on tourist activities like entrance to the Penguin Parade and the Koala Tree Walk…

Since the Australian dollar has caught up to the American dollar, they just haven’t adjusted for inflation. It is all good for the locals, since their salaries match the cost-of-living, but for us visitors, well, just watch out.

If I were to just visit Australia and no other country, would I be glad that I went? Maybe. But now that I know there is just so much more out there in the world, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed with the land down under. I am glad we went, however, simply for the fact that I could check it off of the list.

Sorry, Australia. I know this blog post won’t bode well with your tourism department, but I gotta be honest here. (Hell, who reads this anyway? Besides you, Mom?)



I was Almost Arrested for Koala Napping

Posted by Christy in Posts on 03 1st, 2011

We drove the Great Ocean Road (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Ocean_Road) on the southern coast of Australia for the spectacular views and wildlife interactions. We were especially keen to see koalas, and luckily, we ended at a campground in a town called Kennett River with koalas living in the trees on the property.

We even got to see a koala climb out of a tree. Don’t you just want to koala nap him?!

But this had to be the cutest koala of all…



Apologies

Posted by Christy in Posts on 02 28th, 2011

I would like to apologize for the lack of posts. We are in Australia, traveling from Sydney to Melbourne in a rented car, camping along the way. Naturally, we have very limited access to Internet.

We will catch up in New Zealand, where we are staying with friends who have lovely high-speed Internet. Look forward to stories of bowing deer, Geisha stalking, and Koala chasing in a few days…



Take a Bow

Posted by Christy in Posts on 02 20th, 2011

Lying just outside Kyoto is the small town of Nara, an exquisite village with a unique quirk: Hundreds of deer roam the public parks surrounding the temples freely, being pampered by the locals and the tourists that travel there just for them.

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country. (Extracted from the Nara Wikipedia article.)

Somewhere along the way, the deer learned a charming little trick in order to lure food out of the hands of locals and tourists…

Oh, yes. The deer bow. Am I gonna lie to you and tell you we didn’t travel to Nara, or even Kyoto, just to see these deer? No, I’m not. That is PRECISELY why we traveled eight hours west of Tokyo.

And was it worth it? Oh, yes. Even when this happened:



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