Sunday, February 24, 2008

Visiting random people in Central/South America

Neither Cornelius nor I really know anyone south of the border, but I was thinking it could be great to get to know people in the countries we're planning on visiting. We've been reading about all sorts of cool things you can do, like volunteer in schools, work on a farm for a day, live with families for a week to learn spanish etc, but I think it could also be cool to visit with people I have met through Kiva. I pasted this from their website: "Kiva helps people loan money to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. By choosing a loan on Kiva, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you receive email journal updates from the entrepreneur you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back." We lent money to people in Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico - they were all women working on their own small businesses. So far about 50% of my loans overall have been paid back, without any defaults. I wonder if we could visit these women?

Potential plan for this summer

Before leaving for points south, we're going to visit family across the US. I mapped a potential route that would get us there in the least time possible time to maximize time with the family. Our thoughts are to visit various aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents who are scattered across the midwest, spend a couple of days at each of their locations, and then continue on to the east coast to spend a couple of weeks with our parents. The end goal is to head out of the US by the beginning of September.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Voting in the US Presidential Election from Abroad

I was very concerned that we would not be able to vote in the November 2008 Presidential elections as we would be out of the country and wouldn't have any official forwarding address for receiving absentee ballots. Cornelius didn't seem as concerned as me (bad citizen!) so I spent some time poking around online to make sure we would be able to vote. I found my way to the Federal Voting Assistance Program and they referred me to the local registrar of voters. The local registrar was very helpful, and it turns out that you can actually list your email address as your forwarding address (as long as you can explain why that is your only address). They will email your ballot to you, whereupon you print it out, fill out the ballot, and then fax it back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Finding used travel books

After I griped about how expensive travel books are, Cornelius suggested that we still try to find a used book for each country we may visit during our travels (so that would be 13 in South America, 7 in Central America, and Mexico). So far we've mainly stuck with Lonely Planet, but we should consider branching out I think. Any suggestions for other good travel books to check out? Amazon and Powells didn't have many used Lonely Planets at much of a discounted price, but I found 9 (covering 10 countries) on Alibris - each for $6 including shipping and handling. Still looking for the books covering Nicaragua/El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Guyana/Suriname/French Guyana. Actually, Lonely Planet doesn't cover these last three in a separate book, and I haven't found other guides that do - suggestions appreciated here as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pepe is gone...

Pepe is Cornelius's old car btw. We'll post pictures of the sad farewell after we've quit our jobs and are no longer planning in secret. We wanted to trade in Pepe when we bought the Element (we've been calling it caballo for now till its true name reveals itself) but there was something we had to fix with the title, so we just brought it in today as we fixed the title last week. Well, in that week, Pepe had been sitting unused since Cornelius is driving caballo now, and we had a LOT of rain that week. When we got in Pepe to drive him over to the dealer, there was literally about 3 inches of rain on the floor of the car, which was strange since the windows were still shut. So, after baling out Pepe, we turned him on, and he balked and jolted around and then when we were on the bridge the check engine light not only turned on but started flashing. Not a good sign. But Pepe was loyal to the end and made it to the dealer, and they still agreed to give us $500. Unbelievable - I really thought we were going to have to pay a junkyard to take him. Safe travels Pepe, wherever the road next leads you.