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Posted by Jessica on Aug 13, 2010
Bread and Travel

Since our trip to Nicaragua in May, Tim and I have been in the wonderful position of having absolutely no idea where we wanted to go for three weeks this fall. So for several months (I'll admit, mostly as a halfhearted attempt to distract us from Belly's passing) we've checked out numerous guidebooks from the local library just hoping that something would jump out at us, that something would click.

Think of most any country in the world and we've most likely considered visiting it over these past few months. China, Vietnam, Bolivia, and all the countries in Central America were investigated. Egypt, Morocco, Russia, and Indonesia were studied. Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Slovakia were thought about. And yet nothing, no matter how much reading we were doing, clicked.

We figured in part this was because we've been so distraught after Belly's passing. But it was also because there were just too many places to choose from. And sometimes too many options is not a good thing. In fact, looking over all the guidebooks at our disposal – all of the countries we could choose from at random – reminded us an awful lot of standing in the bread aisle of an American grocery store when we first came home from our round-the-world trip. In short, we felt utterly confounded. (Most likely you are too after that whole travel versus bread aisle comparison. Stay with me here....)

You see, during our trip when fresh bread wasn't available in a foreign land, we had grown accustomed to having one, possibly two, lackluster loafs of bread to choose between. Heavily processed, harder than a rock, and completely unappealing, but there for our taking nevertheless. When there's no choice, you just grab what's available and move on.

But in America there are entire aisles devoted to all types and flavors and shapes of bread you can imagine. (Still heavily processed, of course, but amazingly soft and very appealing.) And we stood in that bread aisle for a good long time, trying to figure out the best choice. And you know what? Eventually we said to heck with it and opted not to get any bread at all.

Now that's where my comparison between shopping for bread and figuring out where to travel this fall ends. Because certainly, if you know anything about Tim or myself, certainly you'll know we are going to travel this fall. We weren't about to walk away from all those guidebooks and say, "Forget about it. We'll just go somewhere next year."

I mean, we can live without bread. We can't, however, live without travel.

So I'll admit we were feeling a bit frustrated. And a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices. But we figured at the very least, if nothing really clicked, we'd just hop on a cheap flight down to Mexico or Central America and explore some off-the-beaten path villages for three weeks. Just knowing we had a back-up plan for our long holiday made us feel a bit less twitchy.

Ironically, though, it was in the midst of our "back-up destination" discussion when we realized something important. We realized there is a country we really want to go this fall. It wasn't one of the countries we had considered for this year. It wasn't even a country we had a guidebook for at the time. But it was a country we planned on visiting sometime in 2011 or maybe 2012. In fact, earlier this year (thanks to our tax refund) we actually set aside a specific travel budget just for this particular country because it's such a special place to us.

You see, somehow in all our travels, Tim and I have never been to any African country. We've daydreamed about doing one of the famed overland trips that we've read so much about, like from Cairo to Capetown. We included a few northern African countries on our original round-the-world itinerary, only to have to axe them later. And yet we've still never gotten around to visiting anywhere on the continent together.

This omission seems particularly glaring given Tim's family is from South Africa. Tim's parents immigrated from South Africa to the US in the late 1960's. His family history in South Africa dates back to the early 1900s and he has family members who still live there. Tim visited South Africa once as a boy with his older sister and his Dad, but that was nearly three decades ago and perhaps a bit before he was fully appreciative of the family history he was experiencing. So there's still a lot to explore and a lot of people to meet. And, perhaps the best reason of all, the farm where Tim's Dad grew up – the same farm that Tim has grown up hearing stories about and looking at pictures of – is now a delightful little bed and breakfast.

So, there we have it. South Africa is where we plan to travel for three weeks this fall. It feels right. It clicks. And we are incredibly, incredibly excited.

And did I mention that a popular South African dish in Durban called "bunny chow" is served on fresh bread? Clearly this trip is meant to be.

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August 13, 2010 at 5:54pm
Oh boy..you can not believe how much I related to this post! I am a foodie, I readily admit it, but when we were on our RTW (or any trip for that matter) I often have had to just go with the flow and what was available but when home I LOVE going to the market, love cooking, etc. However, when we came home from our RTW I went to the grocery and was absolutely lost.. I too,could not force myself, even after approx. 20minutes, to choose a cereal. I mean, how could I, there was an entire AISLE of choices, how to choose just one. And so, like you, I simply abandoned the idea of getting cereal and left the store! Thank you so much for that memory because it left such an impression on the abundance of choices we have here in the US.
As for your trip to South Africa.. Good for you! I've now been there twice.. once for 3 1/2 weeks on an organized through my company and then on our RTW we did a 2month overland from Kenya to Cape Town and spent more time there. It's a wonderful country.. fantastic food & wine, well priced, amazing history, lovely people and once you have been on safari your life will never be the same again! I enjoyed reading how touched you were by Cambodia and other places you traveled and I believe Africa will quickly win a place in your heart. After 3 trips to the African continent I am sad every time I board a plane to leave. I can't wait to hear about the trip!
August 14, 2010 at 6:33pm
Just reading your comment about South Africa has made us even more excited for our upcoming trip! We're really, really looking forward to it, and I'm so happy to hear you've had such a great time each time you've been. :)

Can you tell us a bit more about your safari? Which park/camp were you at? And do you have a favorite place in SA? Inquiring hedgehogs want to know. :)

I guess since we've figured out what country we're going to now, the only question that remains is where in South Africa should we go? It's such a huge country with so many things to see/do/experience…we'll have to be careful not to see this as another bread (or cereal) aisle conundrum! ;)

August 15, 2010 at 6:18pm
Hi guys! Saw your comment on our site that you will be headed to South Africa. Very exciting! We are leaving Cape Town tomorrow after having been here for 6 days, and will spend the next 22 days driving to Johannesburg, mostly on the coast. Sounds like there is lots to see. Today, we saw the African penguins in Simon's Town. They were so fun to watch! It will probably be a while before I get to the South Africa posts, but let me know if you have any questions while you are planning. Not that we're experts; we've been winging it somewhat and relying upon some of the blogs of previous RTW travellers in South Africa (www.livesofwander.com and www.oneyearonearth.com). Have fun planning!
August 16, 2010 at 1:53pm
Your plans for SA sound absolutely brilliant! We can't wait to read all about your adventures. (And no worries – we know all too well about posting stories months after you've been somewhere! We find that life on the road is often too much fun to pull ourselves away to write a post.)

Thanks so much for the links to the two blogs. We'll definitely check them out! And in the coming weeks we will most definitely shoot you an email asking for tips and suggestions for SA too. Thanks so much! And happy travels! :)

August 16, 2010 at 2:53pm
exciting! my friend was just telling me about how her brother travels there for work a lot, and she keeps trying to meet up with him when he is there. have fun and be safe!

on a selfish note-will you be posting some pics from your quebec trip?

August 16, 2010 at 3:00pm
We will definitely be posting some pics of our Quebec trip! Though I fear they may not be that exciting for everyone else: we mostly stayed at the family cottage. That said, it's just about the prettiest cottage I've ever seen, so maybe the photos will be enjoyable for everyone! :)
August 16, 2010 at 3:47pm
yay bread! I meant SA…pretty awesome and as usual you WILL keep us posted :)
August 16, 2010 at 4:00pm
Absolutely! Consider it done, Meliza. :)
August 16, 2010 at 5:16pm
SA is a great choice, especially given the family ties. Amazing! Yea for you! Excited to 'tag along' blog-wise for your continuous adventures.
August 16, 2010 at 5:30pm
We're excited to have you read-along with us! One of these days we'll have to see about getting you to join us somewhere too. :)
August 16, 2010 at 6:29pm
Lions and tigers and bears(?) ok water buffalo, OH MY!
Donna Raines went 3 yrs ago and had a blast. Falls, I can't remember…Victoria falls? My geography and memory suck some times. Sounds so awesome and family history too!
August 17, 2010 at 11:10am
*nodding* Yup, Victoria Falls are up in Zimbabwe on the border with Zambia. It can be popular with folks visiting South Africa to take a plane ride up to the falls for a few days. Good stuff!

That's so neat that she went! You'll have to pester her for some SA advice for us. :)

August 17, 2010 at 5:59pm
Go ahead, twist my arm! ;)
August 18, 2010 at 11:44am
Hey guys.. sorry for the late reply. I sent you a long email with tips and ideas from where we've traveled in South Africa so I hope some of it helps. Looking forward to your excellent narrative of your trip and pictures!
Cheers, R
August 18, 2010 at 12:27pm
Hey Rhonda! Thank you so much for your SA tips. They're great! We're really looking forward to looking into all the places you mentioned. :)
August 25, 2010 at 7:55pm
South Africa sounds fabulous! But Portland, Oregon should still be on your list for the future…
August 26, 2010 at 11:15am
LOL! I knew you were going to say that! :)

(And we definitely agree!)

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