You & Your Family CAN Take a Gap Year!
In Episode #17 Lainie & Miro talk about just landing in South America & exploring the Colonial City of Cartagena, Colombia. Also in this episode, Lainie interviews traveler, Lisa Shusterman, author of the book Around the World in Easy Ways.
Miro and Laine both experienced deep emotions surrounding saying goodbye to Central America and are wide eyed and excited about their new adventure in South America. Their flight to Colombia did not go off without a hitch, however, as our twin propeller plane failed to fire one of the engines on two separate attempts on the runway. But 48 hours and 3 stops later the pair finally made it to thier first South American destination in Cartagena Colombia.
Miro and Lainie spent 9 days in Cartagena with their wonderful couch surfing host, Rafa in the El Centro district. Besides the pair getting the flu, likely from the recycled air in the airport and the lack of real sleep during their attempt to get to Colombia, they actually managed to enjoy the city quite a bit.
Lainie and Miro strolled through the walled city discovering it’s curved pathways all eventually lead to the surrounding wall. The energy of the old city was vibrant in any moment, pastel facades covered by bright bougainvilleas created color, streets bustling with people dressed in white created movement, and the primal drum beat Afro-Caribbean musicians created sound. Miro and Lainie were sucked into the energy and spent several days exploring the streets of El Centro. They had an impromptu visit into the Inquisition Museum, took a day trip to a neighboring fishing village called La Boquilla where we canoed through the mangroves. They even visited a mud volcano and sloshed about like piglets.
Exploring Cartagena, the pair couldn’t help notice the similarities to Antigua, Guatemala from the respect of the Colonial Architecture. Through exploring the city’s history, they discovered Cartagena had shared history with Portobelo, actually, the pirate town they talk about in Podcast Episode #14.
A Brief History of Cartagena
Founded by the Spanish in 1533, Cartagena de Indias is a Caribbean seaport town. For centuries, it was a distribution center for treasures and goods shipped between Spain and the Americas. Fortification of the city began in 1586 and the original walls are still standing today.
During that time, the dramatically increasing fame and wealth of the prosperous city turned it into an attractive plunder site for pirates. Just 30 years after its founding, the city was pillaged by the French nobleman Jean-François Roberval. The city then set about strengthening its defenses and surrounding itself with walled compounds and castles.
Many pirates had plans to perpetrate similar schemes involving Cartagena, which became more and more interesting to them.In 1586, pirate Sir Francis Drake, arrived in Cartagena with a strong fleet and quickly took the city. The governor, Pedro Fernández de Busto, fled with the Archbishop to the neighboring town of Turbaco, and from there negotiated the costly ransom for the city: 107,000 Spanish Eight Reales of the time, or around 200 million in today’s US dollars. Drake had destroyed one-quarter of the city, the developing Palace of the Township, and the recently finished cathedral.
After this disaster, Spain poured millions every year into the city for its protection, beginning with the planning and building of the walls surrounding the city and the adjacent forts. This practice was called “Situado”. Between 1751 and 1810, the city received the sum of 20,912,677 Spanish reales, the equivalent of some 2 trillion dollars today.
The city recovered quickly from the takeover by Drake and kept growing, and continued to attract attention from its opponents. In 1811, Cartagena declared independence from Spain. However, the end of the slave trade in 1851 and an outbreak of cholera contributed to the decline of Cartagena’s wealth and importance.
Love in the Time of Cholera, a novel by Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez was writen presumably about Cartegena, but the book never mentions the name of the city. However, the 2007 film was set in Cartgena, Colombia.
Cartegena has been resurrected and restored in recent decades. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Around the World in Easy Ways
So you think you can’t travel? The interview portion of Raising Miro Podcast Episode #17 includes a wonderful conversation between two mothers, two world travelers, both with a respect for humanity and the maternal desire to provide the best possible experience for their children. The do so both by exploring the world, only they take different approaches.
“Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.”
Lainie’s initially became interested in the book because it was the first time she discovered a “how to book” for families considering long term travel. Lainie initiated a conversation with the books’ author, Lisa Shusterman and discovered that their approaches to traveling were different, but their experiences among their families were very similar.
Lainie also realized that interviewing this amazing mom of 2 girls around Miro’s age, a wife and an experienced world traveler, would be a huge gift to the Raising Miro Podcast audience since Lisa’s experiences and approaches would likely resonate closer with many of the people in our audience. Lainie realizes not many in their audience are going to trade in their steady lives for a nomadic lifestyle like they did, so sharing the story of how one family prepared for a one year gap and the the profound experiences that took place their lives is a gift.
Kids are portable. They aren’t nailed to the floor.
In June, 2008, Lisa Shusterman, her husband Marty and their daughters Avocet and Siena set off for a one year trip around the world. They left behind the security of the lives they built for themselves in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a life of the unknown. Now her mission is to inspire others to live out their dream.
“Long-term travel is not only a way to see new and exciting venues, it’s a way to stop the merry-go-round of life. It gives you an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your family (or other travel partners) in ways that just aren’t possible in our overly scheduled lives. And it gives you the chance to move slower, think deeper and act more consciously than we typically do in our day to day lives. It’s a life changing event.”
Writing a book was a natural extension of her commitment to “spreading the word.” Why should anyone have to reinvent the wheel that took Lisa and her husband 2 1/2 years to invent? Around the World in Easy Ways helps guide anyone who wants to take a long-term trip through the process of how to prepare. It’s not so much about her family’s journey as much as it is a way for you to create your own.
Miro and Lainie are still in Panama and will remain there throughout the holidays. Sometime after the new year, they will venture into South America and continue their journey southward. They have been reaching out to all of our contacts and asking for references for conscious communities, eco- villages, sustainable farms and volunteer opportunities. Lainie loves working with children, Miro loves working with animals and neither of them have ever worked on a farm, but they’re open to whatever opportunities come their way. Their desire for the first few months of the new year is to participate , volunteer their time and energies. Lainie would really like to be part of an intentional community, one that practices mediation, lives consciously and gives back to the surrounding community, helping to make locals lives a little easier. They are putting it out into the universe and making it known. If you have any suggestions or contacts for us in South America, please don’t hesitate to send off an introduction. They plan on be posting all the organizations they are considering after the beginning of the year so you can participate with their decision making process.
We want to take a moment to thank a few peoplewho have contributed to our travels. Your donations have helped cover our travel expenses and for that, we are so grateful! The people who have contributed to Raising Miro are: Scott Van Pelt, Sashya Amee, Ivan Amador, Heather on Her Travels, Bradford Akerman, Tuan Vutran, Terrance O’Dowd, Eric Hammond, Chip Jacobs, Billy Horn and Sonia Kim. Thank you so much! Your support is heart-felt and much appreciated!
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To those of you who have supported us so far on this journey, the donations we’ve received and the wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you all for your comments and feedback, and please keep them coming. Thank you Hanna for giving us a wonderful professional boost with the intro & outro, engineered by Hanna Jakobson, music “Multilayered Timbres” by Dr. Pimp courtesy of CC (creative commons) license.