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Who’s Out There Now: Dalene and Peter

Written By: jeff

Posted On: August 16th, 2011

Mud volcano near Cartagena, Colombia

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Dalene and Peter, a couple of Canadian corporate runaways traveling the world and blogging about it at Hecktic Travels.  Turns out by looking over their travels, our paths almost crossed in Patagonia in 2009, as they were exploring Torres Del Paine and I was preparing to arrive to film. Sooooo close. Well, here’s my chance to get to know them better.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

We are answering them from inside a manor in rural Ireland that dates back to the 10th century, of which we are currently housesitting.

2. So, how does the name of your site reflect your traveling style and philosophy…or is it just a clever play on your surname?

It is just a (not so) clever play on our surname!  We actually travel fairly unhecktically, preferring instead to take our time in every place we visit.  But “Laid Back and Relaxed Travels” doesn’t quite work as well as a website name.  :)
Arrival at the Lost City, Columbia

3. You’ve done one of my dream trips in Colombia, hiking to the Lost City, ¨La Ciudad Perdida.¨ How rugged is it really? Did you have any interesting encounters with the local wildlife (bugs included)?

(Pete – Dalene didn’t go)  It was wet and muddy, the days were long, the terrain was slippery and included a lot of elevation through the rainforest and mountains, and nights were spent in hammocks only.  I encountered snakes, scorpions, spiders and all kinds of weird bugs I’d never seen before.  It was a challenging experience, but it was very worth it.

4. You have made housesitting part of your traveling lifestyle. I love your Housesitting 101 tips. How did you land a gig at an Irish castle? And, is it as romantic living in a castle as people think?

I can’t even remember which website we found this gig on, but it was one of the four that we mention in that article.  We still are awestruck by our good fortune in getting to experience living here.  It is very romantic to roam through the halls and see all the old intricate styling details.  But an old place such as this also comes with features like old plumbing, which can quickly cause problems and erase some of that romanticism!

5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trip?

We call it “life”.  A year ago I would have called it a backpacking adventure, but now that we’ve made the decision to continue traveling in perpetuity, this is just the way it is for us. We couldn’t possibly be happier and have no desire to do anything different in the foreseeable future.

6. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?

Everyone assumes that we’ve robbed a bank, or inherited millions or something extraordinary that allows us to live this life of our dreams.  Few people realize how cheaply this can be done.  For example, we just finished a 6 month house sitting job in Roatán Honduras and we spent less than $6,000 for the entire 6 months (including our return flights to Canada!)  We would easily spend more then that in a month when we had a mortgage, cars, etc.  It can actually be much cheaper to travel then to live a settled life.

7. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?

That would be at our first stop in Sucre, Bolivia, when we walked out from our hostel entrance and saw an indigenous woman squatting to pee between two cars, right in front of us.  I can see how those flow-y skirts they wear come in handy!

8. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

During our six month housesitting job in Honduras, we became friends with some of our very poor, local neighbors.  One night we got a phone call very late to take one young woman to the hospital to have a baby.  We were there into the wee hours of the morning with her and saw some very disturbing things in that hospital.  It was a miracle that baby Julie and her mother even survived it all.  And, a few weeks later, we were made Godparents to sweet Julie!  That is our most treasured memory in all of our travels.

9. What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, there have been a few!  And they usually involve me leaving something important behind – like my purse and our passports on a bus in Chile, and my iPod in a hostel in the Galapagos.  Luckily, both were recovered.  Oh, and Pete miscalculated the dates for when we would need a visa extension in Honduras and we ended up being a week overdue (and he’s an accountaint!)  It all worked out okay too, I just wanted to point out that it’s not ALL me. :)

Maragua166 - both
10. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

Go slow!  We don’t care how many stamps are in our passport or how many pictures we have of famous sites – for us, it’s all about sitting still and really digging into the local culture.  We don’t feel like we can say we’ve really “been” somewhere if we haven’t gotten a good idea of what it would actually be like to live there.

11. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far  – Uruguayan steak (we cut it with a spoon!)
  • Most exotic food eaten – Pete: cuy (fried guinea pig) in Peru.  Dalene is not adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
  • Most breathtaking moment  – Getting caught in a mudslide when hiking in Colca Canyon, Peru.  One wrong step and we would have lost our breath permanently.
  • Biggest disappointment – Peru.  So dirty, and everyone seems too eager to swindle money from you.
  • Most memorable place – Sucre, Bolivia.  As it was our first stop, it will always be a very special place for us.
  • Most memorable person – Jolien, the young mother we helped in Roatán, and her baby Julie.
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride – iPods loaded with new music
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride – Kid throwing up next to you (seems to happen a lot to us, for some reason)
  • Best thing you packed –  iPods loaded with new music
  • Dumbest thing you packed -  USB light for the computer (never used!)
  • Funniest travel habit your partner has – Pete unpacks and repacks everything at every stop.  Dalene dehydrates herself before long bus trips so that she doesn’t have to squat on the side of the road.
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer – Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We were there two weeks and could have easily spent two more.

La Paloma_038
You can follow Dalene and Peter online at HeckticTravels.  on Facebook and on Twitter @HeckticTravels

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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