And here we go
By the grace of Don, all of our belongings fit into our rental car. We picked it up from National in Boston on what was likely to be the most complicated day we’ve had to deal with yet short of actually traveling. We told Don over there that it was our honeymoon, though, and he set us up with a big boat of an SUV. Don, if you ever read this, know that you made my life amazing.
We drove to Sutton to have Fern’s APHIS health certificate endorsed by the Massachusetts USDA office. The office isn’t the an imposing government building we were expecting, but rather a funny little annex in a strip mall on the highway. They were friendly and fast and no sooner than we had taken our coats off they had checked over the certificate and we were on our way.
Don’t be fooled by the sign for Feather Extensions, this is an official US Government facility
All the USDA endorses is the validity of the health certificate, not the doctor’s assessment of Fern, so we didn’t even need to have Fern there. The next and last stop was to the Consul Ad-Honorem of Ecuador in Needham. The consulate is unassumingly located at the home of an Ecuadorian expatiate in a pretty residential neighborhood. Beatriz was excited for us and endorsed away, starting the clock on our 10 days to get to Ecuador.
I had spent the past few days before leaving slowly building our bicycle box from two normal sized bike boxes, a few yards of foam insulation, roughly a gallon of liquid nails, Tyvek and some fiber tape. I loosely followed this gent’s amazing plans (thank you, sir), and they worked like a charm. My inclination, though, was to build the box a little long and then have extra space to cram things in, but per Vanessa’s suggestion, I tightened it up to the point that the tandem just barely fit. Packing it was harder, but when we pulled that rental car up and the box slid easily into the back, there were few words that could have expressed my gratitude to Vanessa.
So, with all our belongings-for-the-forseeable-future crammed as tightly as Tetris blocks into the trunk, we took off early Thursday morning for the drive to Miami. Since then, we:
- Visited with Aunt Alice, Anna and Grey in Virginia
- Have seen license plates from 41 states and three Canadian provinces
- Spent a day stretching our legs with Matthew and Stephanie in rural North Carolina
- Learned A LOT about what Jesus can do from billboards
- Watched the trees slowly grow green and leafy as we leave the New England winter behind
- Listen to the same 50 songs every day on our tiny iPod… and never get sick of them
We spent a relaxing and wonderful few days with Grandma in Palm Beach Gardens, soaking up the sun and enjoying her fine company. Fern discovered the joy of chasing anoles and geckos and we got to splash around in the pool. On Monday we finally ditched the bike, passing it off to LAN Cargo. They were a breeze to deal with and we got to feel like truckers as we pulled into the international shipping side of the Miami airport. The offered Grandma coffee and processed the shipment in no time flat. Because it’s tied to our plane tickets (also on LAN), the price wasn’t too bad either. The best news of the day was that the bike was able to be shipped directly to Quito and arrive at just about the same time as us. LAN, I think I love you.
So long bike, we’ll see you in Quito
Then, after months of planning and anticipation, we woke up at 1:30 am this morning, drove to MIA and winged our way to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Checking fern in was easy, everyone at the airport was super nice and the flight was smooth as. Fern looked a little worse for the wear on the other end but she did a little victory dance when we let her out. Bringing her through customs as a ten minute affair and, all in all, we were through before you could say “¿donde esta mi perro?” We picked up our rental car, found the closest hotel humanly possible, snuck fern in using the least convincing “this is just a bundle of laundry” gimmick anyone has ever seen (with the concierge that told us we couldn’t bring her in ten minutes before in the elevator with us) and have been resting up since.
Tomorrow we start our drive up to Quito and finally connect all the dots. It’s only about 250 miles, but it’s meant to take about seven hours due to the twisty twisty roads we’ll be climbing. Starting in Guayaquil on the coast, we’ll have to ascend almost 9000 feet. Yikes. The lady at the car rental place talked us into a bigger car. When she heard where we were driving she made some tisk tisk sounds and pointed at the next size up on her chart. Anyway, more soon, and hopefully by then, we’ll actually speak a little Spanish.