I remember when we left home, the days were starting to get cooler which meant Winter was on its way, it was October 29th 2019. We had been waiting for this day for a very long time, actually for as long as I can remember Mum & Dad talked about us driving to South America in our big camper truck called Bruce. Leaving Whistler was hard because I knew I wasn’t going to see my friends for a very long time, but at the same time I was excited to get to Disneyland!
We did have to make a quick stop to drop off Radar (budgie) and say good bye to Mamere (grandma) in Vancouver. A lady was going to be picking Radar up and look after him for us while we are away. I was really sad to leave him behind. I was also sad to say good bye to Mamere.
Disneyland is a really fun place to go, I liked the rides, but some of them really scared me. Our first ride was on Space Mountain, basically it was a rollercoaster in the dark with very loud sounds, I yelled “get me off this thing”. I didn’t like that ride at all. I really enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode in boat down a canal into a pirate town where all sorts was going on. My second favourite was Goofy’s Sky School, that was a smaller rollercoaster and not so scary. I got to drive the car on a track, but I kept bumping into everything. Oh and Thunder Mountain, the train ride, that was the best and also Splash Mountain too, we rode those at least 6 times because it wasn’t very busy. We were in Disneyland for Halloween and everyone was dressed up. I got my Moana outfit from Disneyland too, and I wore it for Halloween, before we went back into the park, we went ‘Trick or Treating’ around the hotels and got lots of candy and chocolate.
Auntie Rita lives in Dana Point, went to her house for a few days. She has really comfy couches with super soft blankets that we slept on. She took us to the Capistrano Mission, where we learned all about how the people lived in those days, and how difficult life was. She also took us shopping and I got two new bikinis and Jaxon got shorts, pants and flip flops. We also got to see the hospital where Auntie Rita used to work.
British Virgin Islands
Next we flew to the British Virgin Islands, The B.V.I, and met up with Grandma & Grandpa and went sailing on a sailing boat for 2 whole weeks. It was so much fun, we sailed and swam every day, in very warm, blue water that was very clear. We swam off the back of the boat where there was a swim platform. We went swimming before breakfast, after breakfast, and pretty much all day when we weren’t sailing between the islands.
The boat was a monohull, 46ft long with 3 cabins, it didn’t belong to us, it was a charter, which is pretty much the same as renting a car. I ended up sleeping in the main area so that I didn’t have to share a bed with my brother. I learned how to steer the boat when the sails were up. Grandpa taught me how to steer, which is a little tricky as this boat had 2 steering wheels, how confusing is that?! He taught me how to sail towards a point on an island on the horizon and with a compass, the tricky part was keeping the sails full of wind and going the right way. Each night we would anchor in a pretty bay, I liked sitting up on the deck at night looking at the stars with Grandma. From my bed I could hear the little waves on the other side of the walls as I was rocked to sleep. Driving the dinghy was fun too, when we went to shore for groceries, sometimes I got to drive. One time I even docked the dinghy on Anegada Is, which is an island that is as flat as a pancake.
On the island of Jost Van Dyke, we saw a man with a basket full of colourful reef fish, one was a Parrot fish. We went to a local school and watched their celebrations. Jaxon and I got to ride a donkey around the school field. We learned about how life was for the people when they first arrived on these islands. The school principal showed us around and showed us some of the healing plants the people still use today.
Diving and swimming off the boat was probably the best part of being in the B.V.I
Baja – Mexico
We then started our long drive down the Baja with our new friends Jonas & Susanna from Vancouver Island. They were going to La Ventana for kiteboarding too. One day we were going to go out to the beach to camp, but we got stuck in mud, very wet, thick, sandy mud. My dad was not happy because it came up to his knees and he had to dig for a very long time before we got out. My brother and I weren’t allowed out of the truck, we were really bored because it took so long. We did hang out of the passenger door and put our feet in, then accidentaly got it all over the cab. It was cold and thick, I really wanted to jump into it, but didn’t because then mum and dad would have got really mad. We got out just a few minutes before it got dark. Our sand tracks were all curled up like noodles. The next morning there were lots of Mexican people trying to get across the river which was normally a road.
Loreto town is where my friend Jayla lives. She is from Whistler, but moved down to the Baja with her Mum & Dad. They have a really nice house with a swimming pool! We went to school with Jayla’s for 2 days, it’s a Montessori School. I wore a uniform, Jayla & I looked like twins. The first day was fun, they speak English and Spanish, the Math was a little difficult. I didn’t really like it there, but I was happy to be with Jayla.
I like being home schooled, its really fun, it’s like one big field trip. We get to go lots of different places and learn lots of different things about different cultures, countries, people and languages. Sometimes I miss my real school, I like the classroom learning, I like art and science. I miss not hanging out with my friends.
Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala sounds totally different from Carla’s Spanish. I don’t understand A SINGLE WORD!! Carla was our nanny, she is from Bolivia, Spanish sounds different everywhere we go. I do understand a few words, but I don’t like to speak it, even though Mum is trying to make us every day.
La Ventana where mum & dad go kiteboarding every windy day. We camped on the beach, it’s really fun. Jaxon & I made friends with some kids from Vancouver and we played together. The mornings are the nicest time because there isn’t any wind and we go paddle boarding, swimming and snorkeling.
We met up with Grandad in La Paz on January 2nd. Just Grandad, Jen would fly and meet us later. Grandad was driving ‘Poki’ the Land Rover, and together we crossed over to the mainland of Mexico.
It’s very different from the Baja where everything is dry and dusty. We drove down the coast, exploring different places. One time we walked up a dry river bed in the jungle to where we found some Petroglyphs. They were symbols carved into the rocks by people who lived there thousands of years ago! We all took a dip in some freezing cold water, in a natural rock pool, Jaxon and I went in first. We visited Mexico and Puebla Cities, we walked through some old tunnels that were used by soldiers in a war and climbed a hill that had a church on top of what was an old pyramid, though it just looked like a big mound of dirt to me. The inside of the church was very pretty with pink paint and real gold everywhere. We visited the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, which used to be an ancient city, and climbed the Sun and Moon pyramid. The Pyramid of the Sun is higher than the Moon Pyramid. They were huge! Very steep stairs to climb, but from the top I could see a very long way. We spent a night or two in El Tule, Oaxaca. Where the worlds fattest tree grows. It’s thousands of years old and is very very large around the trunk, it’s not that tall, but it’s not short either.
Driving through the Chiapas region, we crossed over a lot of Topes, which are these super annoying speed bumps, it seemed like 1 every 3 minutes. The people here look different compared to the rest of the country, the ladies are my height and the men weren’t much taller. I felt very tall here. The women all dressed in different styles of clothes, bright and colourful with hairy black wool skirts, and their babies wrapped in a blanket around their back. The Chiapas region has lots of ancient Maya ruins. We visited Palenque, which was a city that is still mostly uncovered, many temples are still buried and wrapped in vines. Tonina Ruins were the smallest and prettiest. There were 2 very steep pyramids that we climbed to the top of one. The view was amazing out over the green farmlands. I remember being a little cranky because it was so hot.
Then we went over to the Yucatan where the ground is full of Cenotes. These are underground, fresh water pools that I like swimming in. We visited quite a few, some are caves and others just very deep underground holes. We spent a day in a city that’s completely yellow, every single building is painted yellow. There were even horse and carriages for tourists to ride in, they were painted bright colours, and the horses wore hats! We camped for a week on a beach where my brother slept for the whole week, he was really sick, mum and dad wondered if he had the Covid-19 virus. Grandad & Jen flew to America for a couple of days, then we all drove together down to Belize.
Belize, was hot, people were are little too friendly for my liking. One lady kept asking to braid my hair, and wouldn’t leave me alone. The best part about Belize was visiting Caye Caulker. It’s a sandy island where we spent a day and saw a small Lemon Shark under a dock, and we also saw Seahorses, they were really well camouflaged and super small. We also climbed up a steep hill to swim in a natural fresh water pool which was really nice, we were the only ones there. But on the way down it started to rain, and boy did it rain hard, we got so wet that Dad had to make banana leaf umbrellas.
Crossing into Guatemala we had our temperatures read at the border , this is because of Corona Virus. If we were too hot, it meant we could have a fever and maybe the virus, which we didn’t. Guatemala is full of thousands of mini mountains and volcanoes that we drove up and down steeply all day long. It was also very green.
One day, we drove very very slowly for the entire day, I honestly think I could walk faster. We were on our way to a very remote place called Semuc Champey where these really pretty pools of water sit on top of a limestone shelf that has a big raging river below. We swam in the calm part that had thousands of little fish that nibbled on my feet. They were actually eating the dead skin, it tickled so much I couldn’t stop laughing out loud. Oh, but first we hike up and looked down on the river, it was a lovely view of the green river below.
Chichicastenango is a town that has Central Americas largest market, which is also historical, as the market has been there for more than a hundred years. It was full and went on forever all through the streets. You could buy anything you wanted, even rabbits, turkeys, budgies and chickens, but we just bought a colourful blanket. Lake Atitlan is at the bottom of a very very steep hill with switch back corners. We stayed there for nearly three months along with Grandad & Jen. We moved into an apartment, because of Covid, and made friends with lots of other travellers. After school work was done we got to go swimming, the lake water was lovely!! We would also jump off the very high dock, Jaxon could dive! We used the paddle boards, mum and dad used them to go and get groceries.
Covid was getting really bad and the rainy season had started so we drove back to Mexico. We visited friends in Oaxaca, then up to San Miguel de Allende and moved into an apartment for about 2 months. That was fun, we had our own swimming pool, but I did a silly thing and broke my 2 adult front teeth penguin diving, that was awful, but I got them fixed and now they are just like the other ones. We would go for bike rides down the steep hills with cobble stones that would make my teeth chatter, we’d ride to our favourite ice cream store, I liked the one with blue bubble gum and another that had 3 colours and real fruit pieces inside. Best of all, our friends Tracy, Jeff and Jayla came for a visit, and we had Jaxon’s birthday party in the bull arena that was in their back yard. I rode a horse all by myself, and even got him into a trot! And we had bouncy castle and Pinata. I had three sleep overs with Jayla, it was so good to see her again. The house had a glass front pool that we played in too.
We had lots of long driving days. Sometimes I would be bored out of my mind, other times I would just be quiet, looking out the window watching the world go by. Sometimes Jaxon and I fight, he can be so annoying, sometimes I just want my own space. I like it when mum reads to us, she reads the Roald Dahl books. We’ve read George’s Marvellous Medicine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then The Great Glass Elevator, Iso Trot, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Girraffe and the Pelly and Me. Now we are reading BFG ( Big Friendly Giant). When mum and dad go shopping for food, they lock us in the camper box and we watch shows on the ipad. Kids aren’t allowed to go into the shops because of the virus.
Our school is called ‘Self Design’, it’s a proper Canadian online school, but we call it Road School. Mum, Dad are our teachers. Quite often we have to sit down and do our work, it’s pretty fun. We also have Natasha, our teacher who works with Mum from back in BC. For school we have a few different kinds of learning. My Grade 3 & 4 work books have Math, English, Science and Social Studies. Then we have our Travel Journal, which we write in and draw pictures and paste tickets of the places we have been to. We also have to do our reading, Mum brought along a big box of books that we have to read, and then I have to do book reports on them. I also do a blog post, like this one, where I tell stories about what I’ve been doing and post photos.
Learning has not just been in the school books, it’s everywhere and all around us. I learn and see new things every day. I’ve had an amazing year, we have done lots of really cool stuff we wouldn’t be able to do back home. Ridden horses & a donkey, visited three underground mines, camped on the beach, swam in cenotes and jungle pools. I’ve climbed mountains and volcanoes, seen baby turtles hatch, snorkel, paddle boarded, boogie boarding, surfing and ocean swimming. Rescued an injured Caracara, a juvenile raptor, we found him on the side of the road and took him, very carefully, wrapped in a towel to the vet. I’ve used maps to find our way, caught lizards, fired my slingshot and ridden my bike lots.
I’ve eaten some strange food like bbq chicken liver, I’ve visited ancient cities lost in the jungle of Guatemala and seen how people with not very much money live. I’ve seen some pretty beautiful sunrises, sunsets, starry night skies and full moons. I even think that Dad & I saw a UFO! I have made friends along the way, both kids and adults. I’ve hung out with Grandad & Jen, they were lots of fun. We’ve been stuck in mud. Plucked Avocados from trees and seen a church half buried by lava from a slow moving eruption. I’ve held live Iguanas, a Boa Constrictor, caught wild lizards and I’ve made some new friends who I will never forget.
Even though 2020 is the year of Covid-19, messing with the world, and stopping us from going further South, I HAVE HAD THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE and definitely want to do it again!