Friday July 25th to Tuesday December 30th
After leaving Ecuador we flew to Miami, Florida and then drove up to Tallahassee. This was mostly to visit friends and Peter's son, J.F. but we also hung around long enough to go to the Tallahassee and Area Hash House Harrier's (T&A H3's) 300th hash weekend bash. (For those of you who do not know what hashing is, go look it up on the internet). Also, after almost a year in South America, we revelled in all the choices at Walmart (not that we really need to buy much) and enjoyed loafing on the sofa and watching J.F.'s big screen T.V. (that wasn't all in Spanish!).
After two weeks in Tally we headed back down to south Florida and hopped on a plane over to the Bahamas. We have a boat here and, other than doing a bit of sailing we mostly tucked into alot of food, grew flabby and got the best tans we've ever had (well, Jackie got the most freckles she's ever had). We did enjoy the quiet, peaceful Bahamas and not having to stay in hotels and live out of backpacks. We had ambitious plans to sail from one end of the Bahamas to the other. However, we ended up spending most of our time at the marina between needing to stay close to base because of hurricanes, engine repairs and the realisation that we kinda liked the pool at the marina and the air conditioning on the boat (for which the boat must be plugged in). We did sail around the Abacos a fair bit and it was wonderful to have entire islands to ourselves (where "sex on the beach" isn't a drink). There aren't many tourists in the Bahamas during hurricane season. The biggest excitement was the day our friend Angela arrived from London and we all got totally pissed on coconut rum and pineapple juice. We all, and another couple, ended up naked in the pool (photos to be uploaded shortly). Unfortunately this party also spelt the demise of our great little camera that took all those wonderful photos around South America. Digital cameras don't seem to like salt water very much as Angela found out when she somehow fell into the water stepping from the dock to the boat. Oh, well, we bought a replacement that is even smaller and has a higher resolution so there'll be lots more pictures of the rest of our travels (and Angela recovered too).
After three lazy months we headed to Toronto to see Peter's parents and to plan our next year. We did short trips to Ottawa, Barrie and Burlington for see friends and family but didn't do any touristy stuff (November & December are not the best months to visit Canada). We spent hours on the computer putting together our South America Episodes into a book. We also spent hours deciding where to go next. Round-the-world (RTW) seemed to be the thing to do and the hard part was figuring out what to leave out. It turned out that we could buy RTW tickets considerably cheaper if we started our journey from London rather than Toronto so it was off to the U.K. for two weeks.
London & Glasgow
We spent a week in London doing tax returns, meeting the letting agent, dropping stuff in our loft and seeing friends. It was quite strange; we had just arrived from Toronto and taken the tube and train to Greenwich. We were waiting on a bus and we both thought that it felt like we had been away for only 14 days not 14 months. Nothing seems to have changed, not even the TV adverts. Anyway, not long and we were up to Scotland for more visiting with friends and family then, in no time, we were off again; this time around the world. Tahiti was the first stop, just for a few days.
Tahiti hadn't been planned as a major part of our trip but, since we were flying over, we figured we might as well stop and check the place out. The island of Tahiti is one of several hundred small islands in French Polynesia, it is the biggest and holds the capital, Papeete. It is also the least like what most people would imagine Tahiti to be. Instead of deserted beaches, swaying palms and beautiful young girls it has rather rocky, volcanic beaches, busy roads and lots of people. It is, still, a beautiful island but we think the smaller out islands would have a more unspoilt feeling. The other problem with the island is the cost of everything -- very expensive. As unemployed backpackers we found ourselves subsisting on baguettes and cheese. However, the snorkelling is free and absolutely fabulous; thousands of fish, just off the beach in only a couple of metres of water. We also visited a very good museum that had lots of information on the geology and history of the islands. One day we took a trip into the interior and up into the mountains. There we saw archaeological sites, beautiful waterfalls and secluded pools for a cool dip.
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