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If we were in Fairbanks right now, we would be cooking two gigantic turkeys, making 25 pounds of mashed potatoes, setting up the house for a sit-down dinner for 50, there would be at least 10 pies in the pantry and a coconut cake and cranberry sauce and all the rest (sweet potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, gravy…).  We miss you all so much!

Last Thanksgiving!










But instead we are in a camper park in Port Isabel, Texas.  We are right on the Gulf of Mexico and the beaches are lovely (if you squint past the highly questionable medical

waste garbage) and don’t swim (portugese man’o war -tentacles are dangerous for up to two months following death.  Wave action spreads small pieces of  tentacles on the sand when the animal was washed up. Stepping on them or touching  causes excruciating pain.  Wounds can take weeks to heal.  From the beach warning signs).

Our plans for today:  Thanksgiving dinner at the Golden Corral!  The kids are super stoked – this is so not like what we would usually do on Thanksgiving!

Our journey is like a seed we planted but we do not know what kind of plant it will end up being.

We were packed and ready to cross the border.  We did a full day of shopping to stock up on USA products we know we will miss (peanut butter, angel hair pasta).  We did laundry.  We showered.  We went on one last date night.

But then!  The most amazing thing happened.  We had spent the last 9 months requesting quotes to freight the behemoth vehicles around the Darien gap.  The ideal trip would be one way — freight into Buenos Aries and then drive home.  Buenos Aries is very expensive to fly into, airfare more than $2000 each from the lower 48.  It seemed like the most economical way to travel would be to drive down to Panama and freight over to Cartagena. Here is the cost estimate:

  • Airfare Panama – Cartagena: $380 each
  • Shipping van & camper: $6000 + fees
  • Dogs: $500
  • Insurance for Mexico:  $300
  • Insurance for Central America:  $300
  • Mexico Tourist cards: $25 each
  • Entry fees for 8 more countries: $2800
  • Gas $2000
  • Stressful driving twice through arguably the worst region in the world: priceless

But then!  Hillary Clinton went to Colombia last year and brokered a new trade agreement and over the past months things have been happening so that we woke up one morning to a new quote.  The SC Line shipping company is expanding their routes to Colombia.  They sent us a quote out of Houston and said it was even easier and cheaper to ship out of Miami.  A flurry of emails and phone calls resulted in the following change of plans:

  • Freight vehicles from Miami to Cartegena: $5700
  • One way tickets Tampa to Cartagena: $221 each
  • Mark & the dogs ticket to Cartagena:  $600
  • Logistics to drop off the camper and get Mark & the dogs to Miami: $200
  • Visit with Grandma Kay & Grandpa Ted!:  priceless!

So we confirmed shipment of the vehicles out of Port Everglades on December 8.  The camper and van arrive in Cartagena on December 12.  We may not be able to pick it up until Monday, December 17 (worst case scenario) if unloading takes awhile or if the RORO shipping is delayed a day.  We all depart Tampa on 12/12 except for Mark who will fly out of Miami with the dogs so he will depart Tampa the day before.

The most stressful part will be waiting for the camper in Cartagena.  We need to board the dogs at a vet’s office and get the dogs from the airport to the vet on the evening of 12/12.  Also Cartagena is expensive.

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