Interesting Things You Might Not Know About the World

Throughout nearly seven months of travel in 11 different countries, we’ve been exposed to a number of unique traits specific to various cities, countries and entire continents.  Some of them have already been written about in our blog, but others over time became commonplace to us and we neglected to mention them.  As such, we wanted to share some of these fun facts/observations with you. Continue reading

Tired of Stress-Free Travel? Cross an International Border with the Kimbles!

Wow. Has it already been two more weeks since our last update? We’ve been in Rio de Janeiro (Copacabana area) for three days now and are staying at an AirBNB with great wifi, which means…more frequent blog posts!  The first morning after we woke up in Rio, our hosts asked us if we would travel with Sofi throughout South America if we were given the chance to do things over again.  We both looked at each other and answered the same way: yes!  In spite of the interesting and often difficult challenges of traveling internationally with a large animal, we’ve successfully crossed three international borders and only ended up homeless on one occasion (more on that later).

The most recent adventure started in southern Chile as we prepared to fly from Puerto Montt to Rio de Janeiro, with a layover in Santiago.  Given that Puerto Montt is a fairly small airport, there were no direct flights to Rio.  Knowing that we had some additional paperwork to handle for Sofi, we took her to the vet the evening we arrived back in Puerto Montt after working as farmhands for three weeks.  It was a Friday and we were scheduled to fly out on Monday afternoon.  The following morning we went to the airport to speak with some people in the cargo terminal to find out the additional details of what we would need to get Sofi to Brazil.

Sofi noticed Brazil is a bit more humid than the rest of South America.

Sofi noticed Rio is a bit more humid than most of South America.

On the way to the airport we were waiting at a red light and wanted to ensure we were taking the correct route (since we’ve had to navigate during the trip without GPS or cell phones…anyone grow up when those things didn’t exist?!), so Karen rolled down the window and spoke to the gentleman in the car next to us.  He happened to be going to the airport, so he told us to follow him there!  We were still a solid 20 minutes away, so it was definitely a Godincidence that we happened upon this man.  We followed him all the way to the airport and proceeded to follow him to the cargo area, which is where we needed to go to talk with the airline company that would be handling Sofi’s transportation to Brazil. As luck would have it, this man happened to work for the very company (Lan cargo) we were looking for and after mentioning that we were there to ask questions about flying our dog across the border he responded by asking “are you Adam?”  Amazingly, this guy was a world-renowned scientist of telepathy!

…just kidding.  I had sent several emails to them prior to our visit and he had been filled in on the situation.  So, THIS was the man Karen randomly flagged down when we were still a long way from the airport?  Incredible.

At that point the fun really began.  After speaking with our new buddy, we found out about additional paperwork we would need that was never mentioned before.  There were two agricultural-type offices (Aduana and SAG) which needed us to complete forms, and neither of them were open on weekends.  Given that we flew out on Monday, we decided to take our chances with filling out the paperwork once we arrived in Santiago.  So, we booked Sofi on a flight to Santiago and then planned to locate these offices at the Santiago airport once we arrived on Monday afternoon.

Fast forward to Monday.  We arrived in Santiago with four hours until our connecting flight to Rio.  For once I was really glad that I had a long layover!  The rest of the day can be summed up like this: we pick up Sofi from the cargo area, walk all over every office outside of the airport, Karen speaks to the Aduana and SAG folks in Spanish to get all of the paperwork done, I sit with Sofi all day until we are told the SAG office only accepts cash, they’ll be closing in 15 minutes and the nearest ATM is located at the airport (luckily I don’t mind running every once in awhile), and finally, we arrive at the Lan cargo office to book Sofi on a flight and are told that there are no other flights going to Rio until the following day.  We had gone into the day with the mindset that things would be crazy, unlike our initial experience in Lima, so surprisingly we were both feeling pretty good about the progress from the day.  The only upsetting thing was missing our flight to Rio and having to pay to re-book it for the following day.  As the sun set and things were winding down at the airport, we knew we had to be back in less than 12 hours to get Sofi on the same flight as us the next day.  Rather than book a hotel and pay for such a short stay, we decided to go the cost-efficient route and rent a car instead.  Little did the car rental company know, they were renting us a car and a place to sleep!  We got some late night pizza and found a well-lit gas station close to the airport where the three of us slept all night.  We’ve slept better, but we’ve also slept worse!

The following day we headed to Lan cargo to finish Sofi’s flight booking and then we were off to Rio.  You would think it would be simple enough to collect an animal on the same flight as you, but since Sofi is too large to be checked as baggage, we have to fly her cargo.  That means they send her to a completely different part of the airport and we have to collect her there.  After we made it through customs, we initially tried to rent a car big enough to hold her crate.  Fortunately for us, there were no rentals available.  We wouldn’t find out why that was fortunate until a few hours later.  This meant our only option was to hire a taxi. Once again we became best friends with our cab driver, Edson, much like our friend Raul from Lima.  He is a Portuguese man who spoke a little Spanish and was able to communicate enough with Karen to let her know what was happening.  Ultimately, we spent about four hours at the cargo area trying to locate Sofi.  There was some missing paperwork that Lan had taken to a different office and some miscommunication which delayed being reunited with her, but we were able to finally get her on Tuesday night just 24 hours after we were supposed to arrive!  Edson even helped us avoid some “taxes” (also known as bribes) from the cargo warehouse.  Having a Portuguese man on our side was exactly what we needed, and had we rented our own car, the events of Tuesday night likely would have been drastically different.  Once again, it can’t be stressed enough: everything happens for a reason!

Now we’re settling into Rio and enjoying the warm weather, nice beaches and beautiful scenery.  We’ve got some awesome hikes in our future, including one to the well-known “Christ the Redeemer” statue.  More updates to come over the next week and a half!

A nighttime view from the beach in Copacabana.

A nighttime view from the beach in Copacabana.

Life on the Farm: Lago Rupanco Edition

It’s been two weeks since we last posted on the blog, mainly because we’ve had a lot going on and very little access to internet.  Karen and I left Cusco made our way all the way down the coast of Chile from Arica to Santiago (almost 1,300 miles). We rented a car in a beach town named Iquique and enjoyed driving through the vast beauty of the Atacama Desert and the Pacific Ocean, one or both of which bordered us at all times.

After spending a couple of days in Santiago, we flew south to Puerto Montt to begin our next mission: working as farm hands!  We flew into the city and stayed one night before having the once-in-a-lifetime experience of picking up our Chicago friends at a Chilean airport.  My former Red Frog co-workers and incredible friends Clayton, Emma, and Katherine all made their way to southern Chile to work with us on a farm near Lago Rupanco for the week.  The farm was about a four-hour drive from Puerto Montt, tucked deep into the wilderness with immense beauty in every direction.

The farm's #1 fan.

The farm’s #1 fan.

Continuing the trend of crazy travel adventures for the Kimbles, the journey began with a little miscommunication at the airport car rental area.  Our crew had reserved a van so there would be room for the five of us, Sofi and her extra-large crate.  However, we didn’t arrive at the time listed on the reservation, so they gave away our rental to somebody else!  We didn’t have many options after that since the majority of the companies there were completely out of stock.  Fortunately, Karen speaks good Spanish and was able to converse with a local rental company to get us a slightly smaller utility vehicle.  With some clever positioning of Sofi’s crate and a complete removal of leg room for all of us, we were able to fit!  So, the five of us (plus Sofi) embarked in the direction of the farm.  To add to the excitement of our adventure, we didn’t actually know where the farm was located.  Due to our lack of internet and inability to regularly communicate with the owner of the property, Greg, we just headed towards the area and hoped for the best.

Following a couple of hours driving we were able to make a pit stop at a cafe in Osorno.  There we tried to call Greg for directions and were unable to succeed, but we got a few screen shots of maps to help us navigate further into the area.  An hour later after some more stops we were able to get wifi and grab the step-by-step directions to the farm.  We continued on as the sun was setting and headed off into the darkness.  Another couple of hours twisting and turning down a gravel road, getting out of the car to open fences, and getting deeper into the darkness, we happened upon the barn where we would sleep for the next two nights.

The Osorno dream team!

The Rupanco dream team!

We spent two nights camping out inside the barn and loving every second of it.  The lodge we’re currently staying in became available two days into our stay, so we moved in there after the short accommodation at the barn.  Sofi has spent nearly 100% of her time chasing sheep, swimming and running around with the other dogs.  When we arranged to work at this farm (through an online forum called “Workaway”) we had no idea how many awesome people we would meet.  There are many other volunteers from various countries all over the world, including Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  Our group definitely had a special connection when we met, as everyone seemed to click together.  We would work all morning beekeeping, building fences, caring for chickens and ducks, installing windows in the barn, picking berries and doing other tasks on the property; then, in the mid-afternoon, we would go on hikes, walk down to the beach or just play games together at the lodge.  Every moment was a tremendous blessing and we’re so thankful that we met the group of people that we did!

Katherine and I in our beekeeping suits!

Katherine and I in our beekeeping suits!

Fast forward to today.  Our friends have left (sadly) but Karen and I are still spending another week on the farm before we leave for Rio.  We’ve continued to meet amazing volunteers from places like India, Lithuania, Portugal, and Uruguay.  It’s funny that we can come to a remote farm in southern Chile and meet people from anywhere but Chile!  The people are tremendous and we are happy to do a little part to help move this farm forward.  They hope to become completely self-sustainable in the near future, living off the land in a way that teaches people how to treat the environment with total respect.  From solar energy and water reclamation to organic gardening and farm-raised animals, their mission will go a long way to exhibit how important it is to understand how our actions affect our surroundings.  It’s great to know that Chicago has placed a permanent stamp on the hard work being done here!

Here’s what we’ve been doing for the last three weeks in Chile. We’ve had some unbelievably unique experiences and met lifelong friends. We’re so thankful to God that we ended up here!