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Our official date of departure is June 4, 2018!
We currently have the first five months of our travels planned out, with a rough idea of where we want to head after that. The overall plan for the first year is to travel slowly around South America and volunteer along the way. We want to spend at least a few weeks in each place so we can fully take in the surrounding culture and give back to the communities and our hosts.
This also allows us to take advantage of websites like Workaway which provide room and board in exchange for some volunteer work hours. Since we are not rich, we need to minimize our living expenses as much as possible. Our goal for the year in South America is to spend less than $10,000.
We have the first three stops planned out:
First stop (June 2018): The Coast of Ecuador.
Our primary goal over the first two months in South America is to learn as much Spanish as we can. We’ve been practicing with Duolingo (a phone language app) and Rosetta Stone, but we’re excited to be immersed in the culture. We’ll be spending the month of June on the beach in Ecuador volunteering with a Workaway host in the Manabi province who needs help managing a few vacation rentals, keeping up the property, and taking care of their dogs.
Second stop (July 2018): Northern Peru.
We plan to spend the month of July in the mountains of Peru volunteering with another Workaway host. The type of volunteer work here is a bit unknown at this point, but our hosts are doing a lot of great projects, including running an Amazonas region conservation program.
Third stop (August - October 2018):
Santa Cruz region, Bolivia.
Our desire to volunteer with Etta Projects, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Bolivia, started in 2008 when we joined Engineers Without Borders, discussed here. Since that time we have always known that someday we wanted to spend more than a week working with them in Bolivia. Their values and mission align perfectly with ours and we've developed a close friendship with the founder.
Because Bolivia only allows you to be in the country 90 days per year on a tourist visa, we plan to spend the full time at Etta Projects. They recently began working on a new community development center and we will be helping them with various projects related to getting it fully up and running.
Currently, that is all we have planned out. We have long dreamed of exploring Patagonia and will probably head south into Chile and Argentina to find more volunteer opportunities after leaving Etta Projects. We will likely be in South America until sometime during the Spring 2019, however, that is also not set in stone. Once we arrive in June the whole plan could go out the window so we want to remain as flexible as we can.