Vancouver – Part II

So after an incredible five and a half months touring the unbelievably breathtaking countries of Canada, USA and Mexico, we’d finally crossed the boarder back into Canada, headed to not only our last stop on our four-wheeled journey, but also the very last of our stops on our #hamrodtravels journey around the globe.

We booked a single room Airbnb in a shared house in Killarney for the remainder of our time in Vancouver. Although quite a far way out of town, we had allowed ourselves two weeks to sell Fuego, so the cheapest accommodation we could find was also our most preferable.

To both our great relief and sadness, we’d only been in Vancouver for one night when someone contacted us to inspect Fuego. He was an older Englishman who lived in Vancouver, and planned on escaping the Canadian winter by throwing his things in the back of a van and heading south to the beautiful beaches of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico.

After a little negotiation we finally agreed on a price, and completed the necessary paperwork before the cash was presented and the exchange was complete. Then came the moment we’d dreaded, as we watched Fuego drive away and slowly disappear into the still, cold fog. Although he had served us well during those incredible 35,000km, ensuring we stayed safe and comfortable every step of the way, and getting us to the farthest points across the continent, it’s the shared memories with Fuego that we will cherish forever. It was a sad moment for Anita and I, as it really felt like we were losing a good friend. Fare well, Fuego. Wherever this crazy life takes you.

So now with no form of our own transport, a tight remaining budget, and the cold of winter really starting to set in, we spent a lot of our time indoors preparing ourselves for what would be a surprise return back home to unexpecting friends and family. We’d often walk up to the local library to start applying for jobs and accommodation, but would break up our life admin with trips to Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine for dumplings, La Grotta Del Formaggio for our favourite deli sandwiches, and the odd trip to town for artisan markets or a general wander. But, despite that the odd spell of leisure, most of our last days were spent getting ourselves organised for what awaited us back home.

That is of course until our last two days in Vancouver, when I decided to surprise Anita with a night in the very luxurious Shangri-La Hotel in the centre of town – a bit of an early birthday present and reward for roughing it out for the majority of the last twenty months overseas. We enjoyed hot saunas, relaxing rooftop spa baths, and champagne in our bathrobes, all before heading out to Kinyo Izakaya for some of the best Japanese we’d ever had. It was just the perfect way to finish an incredible journey together.

So, after our night of living it up, we packed our bags for the very last time, headed to the airport, and caught the very long flight back to Australia to surprise Anita’s unsuspecting family on Christmas morning, a day I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

And so for now, our journey has come to an end. But what a journey it’s been. Since leaving Australia nineteen seemingly short months ago we’ve taught, learnt and fumbled new languages. Shovelled dirt on farms and empty beer bottles at hostels. Renovated luxury apartments in Amsterdam and built mud brick houses in the Sahara Desert.

We’ve scaled the highest mountains in Montenegro and almost died in North America’s lowest basin. We’ve swam in Mexico’s crocodile infested swamps and floated peacefully in Croatia’s clearest seas. We’ve experienced the face-melting harshness of summer in Arizona and a winter in Berlin that could have frozen over hell.

We’ve eaten everything from fertilised duck embrios in Cambodia to the best jamón ibérico in Spain. Congealed pig’s blood in Vietnam to the most jaw-dropping cheeseboards in Switzerland. We’ve spent hours foraging for our own vegetables in Catalonia and been served over thirty of Texas’ most highly-rated smoked meats.

We’ve showered with a spray bottle in Bryce Canyon and bathed in Yosemite’s running streams. We’ve slept on bamboo mats in Vietnam and camped in Walmart parking lots across America. We’ve brushed our teeth in probably hundreds of McDonalds restrooms and stayed connected via just as many Starbucks cafes.

We’ve celebrated everything from a white Christmas in Zürich to Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. An overindulgent Thanksgiving in Chicago to a different yet very familiar Australia Day in Morocco. A firey Esala Perahera in Kandy to a chilly New Year’s Eve in Switzerland.

And truthfully, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

But all this wouldn’t have been possible without our incredible global support network of family and friends. There are just too many of you to name but you all know who you are. It’s for your hospitality, kindness and overwhelming generosity that we were able to sleep so comfortably, eat so well, and experience things just too amazing for words. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to repaying the favour when you come to visit us in Australia.

Until next time, all. #hamrodtravels out!

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