Clint Bush 0:11
Hey everyone, welcome to we will wander exploring life off the traditional path, a podcast about location independent families living and working all around the world. I’m Clint Bush,
Zélie Pollon 0:21
and I’m Zélie Pollon and twice a month we talk to families about what it’s like to live location independent, travel full time or educate their kids on the road. The world is big and time is short. So let’s get started.
In this podcast we speak to Jacqui and Daniel New, who only recently arrived back in Australia after being quarantined in Bolivia for almost two months. Jacqui and Daniel have been world schoolers for the past four years and on another day we’ll dive into how and why they first sold everything and left Australia but as COVID is still impacting so many travelers around the world, we wanted to hear this tale of escape and resilience. Here’s Jacqui and Daniel New.
Daniel New 1:08
So we’ve been back for a visit in Australia in September last year catching up with friends and family. And we headed to Asia in Europe and spent a couple of months there. And then we finally made it over for the first time ever down to South America. We got there at the start of December, we traveled through Brazil and Argentina or rewind, Chile, and we finally made it up to Bolivia where we plan to spend a bit of time learning Spanish and some time in one spot to catch up on school and things. And that was right when all this IP so we had a couple of good weeks of Spanish lessons and sort of getting into more of a normal life and then all of a sudden the school shut down and everything went crazy. And we ended up under I think probably one of the one of the strictest lockdowns anywhere in the world and ended up more or less trips, I would go anywhere to leave the house.
Zélie Pollon 1:58
Can you tell us a little bit more about them.
Daniel New 2:00
Sure, yeah, we were in Sucre, Bolivia, beautiful city, probably as far as places to get stuck during all this go It was a pretty good one. You know the climates nice we because we plan to be there for a while we had a nice apartment. So you know we had kitchen in the lounge room and everything. Based on your passport number, you’re allowed to go out once a week for groceries. So we both had a separate day. So we had one morning where we could go and stock up. And the rest of the time we were just stuck inside. There’s a complete curfew so the kids weren’t allowed out of the house at all. Well, as it stands now they haven’t, they’ve been stuck in basically an apartment or hotel room for nearly two months.
Clint Bush 2:40
Oh, wow. And so how was that process of getting stuck, I guess in Bolivia because at one point Didn’t you try to leave to come back home. And then what happened in that?
Daniel New 2:53
Initially we plan to be in South America until the end of the year at least. I think Peru, Ecuador and things Columbia had all closed their borders and gone on to pretty strict lock downs. And that was where we were heading after Bolivia, said, we were monitoring that. And this is sort of a guess when it wasn’t quite as crazy as obviously it is now nobody quite knew what it was going to turn into. It was during that initial stage where, you know, we’re just sort of watching news reports and going, Oh, my God, what’s going on? So eventually, we decided that even if we could eventually get up to Peru and keep traveling, it was likely that you know, national parks, were going to be closed down, museums were going to be closed. And at some point, we just decided to pull the pin and, you know, come back and do it another time. Part of that was, you know, the healthcare systems over there pretty lacking. We spoke to our Spanish teachers and some brilliant people that we we met and they just said, Look, you know, if it becomes a big issue, and people get really sick, it’s not the place you want to be. So yeah, we decided to leave which was a bit of a hard thing. Yeah, yeah. So we booked tickets from Santiago bus tickets a domestic flight to get us there from Bolivia.
Jacqui New 4:04
Sunday afternoon and by that evening, we’ve told the Spanish teachers that we weren’t coming back and we’re going home. And by 11 o’clock that night, they messaged and they said, You can’t go anywhere. We’re in lockdown. And they started regional lockdowns before they started national lockdowns. So we were stuck. And we thought about while we tried to get a taxi to the border, and there’ll be like 300 US dollars.
Daniel New 4:28
It says that wouldn’t have been made. So yeah, we were
Clint Bush 4:34
so were the apartment that you were staying and at the time when you made the decision to try to leave and then found out that you can visit the same apartment you ended up staying in during the entire lockdown.
Jacqui New 4:45
Yes, yeah. And we’re really lucky with that. I mean, the lady that ran the sort of was like hostel where it was quite a bit different also like a conference center, and so she didn’t close the doors and we were allowed to stay which was really great. Really, the only good So we had the whole run of visited a massive hotel conference center with just us and a caretaker. It was kind of weird.
I know, I saw one of your updates on Facebook. And I think that the woman who runs a hospital and also maybe giving you a little warning that sometimes diseases like this, people take it out on foreigners. Can you talk about that, and also whether you were surprised in general at such a strict lockdown? I’ll add that I’m in Mexico, and it was only last week they made people wear masks, and there is no talk of a lockdown that I know of. We were lucky. I
Daniel New 5:36
think we learn to live here. The Constitutional capital says that a medium sized city people are fairly well educated. We did definitely notice when we went to the supermarket that people would see us coming and give us a wider berth. There’s definitely a perception that foreigners are more likely to you know, just traveling from at that point of, you know, the hotspots to Italy, in Spain, I guess so.
Jacqui New 5:59
But we’re also living At the top of the hill, so by the time you got at the top you’re having definitely
Daniel New 6:05
people cross cross the road. We didn’t personally experience any, anything more than that. But we definitely we started a Facebook group for Aussies and Kiwis or maybe Aussies, I guess who were in Latin America trying to try to get back, send people to share experiences and things. And we definitely heard through that and from other avenues that some people were getting a lot worse treatment than that for basically just just scared people who don’t quite understand necessarily what’s going on and see possibly foreigners as being the cause of it. Yeah, definitely.
Jacqui New 6:37
I think there was some in Santa Cruz which is one of the other big cities in Bolivia but also in Colombia. There’s a bit of that going on in Peru and Ecuador
Daniel New 6:48
people you know before the really strict walk down started, were trying to get to different places and they had a valid bus ticket and in some cases, locals, you know, we’re just blocking the doors of the bus, not letting them get on and Things like that. So, yeah, we’re lucky we didn’t experience anything.
Jacqui New 7:05
But it did sound like it was quite a trial. And can you describe for our listeners a little bit of what some of your friends got to experience following your Facebook page, but that ultimate decision to leave and the bus and the guards? Can you paint that picture for us? Yeah.
So it took quite a while for our government to finally get us out. We were six weeks in lockdown in Bolivia before they were able to organize it all. There are only 44 people in Bolivia who are stranded compared Aussies sorry, compared to in Peru, where there are hundreds. So, in the end, they had to link up this plane that went from Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and then on to Australia from there.
Daniel New 7:52
They gave us a couple of days notice and said, okay, we’ve managed to, you know, get cooperation from the government and organize this despite Thankfully, it was with last time and that was who we bought the tickets, you know, for the flight that we missed with so we were able to use that as a credit towards it. It was still pretty expensive like that, you know, that definitely helped otherwise we would have been out another five 5000 or something. So, um, yeah, we had a few days notice when we ate through our food supplies. And then it was this surreal sort of feeling of leaving the house and for the kids to step outside for literally the first time in six weeks. They organized a bus to take it up from our house, stood outside a bus station in the streets because the curfew began at midday and went right through till seven the next morning. Actually, no, it was a weekend I think and that was total curfew. So the streets It was like a ghost town except for police and military, you know, driving around. So we were standing we were the first to be picked up from have to stand on the street at the bus station for about 400 hours waiting for the bus. It was just a charter bus. The bus Was all locked up because you know, that was a lockdown. So we had all these police driving past kind of doing a double take on what the hell are these gringos doing?
Jacqui New 9:13
We had a letter printed out from our government which was lucky that we managed to print it out but we got a few strings.
Daniel New 9:20
So eventually they got everyone else there. The bus had arrived and we set off on what was an 18 hour bus ride without a stop there were no you know, the normal sort of roadside restaurants, everything were all closed. So yeah, we went right through and we got a police escort out of town and then we just went through checkpoint after checkpoint. The I think the first one when we were leaving the town, it was nighttime by then. And we pulled up and there were these sort of ghostly figures in these Tyvek you know, protective suits, spraying the bass. Yeah, spraying it down with some sort of, you know, antiseptic or whatever and, and then military and police ever everyday guns. camouflage and everything. And we just went through checkpoint to checkpoint. So the bus drivers showing them the paperwork and everything and yeah, eventually got into La Paz. We spent one night in a hotel there and then got picked up with another police escort in the bus and they took us to the airport, which had been opened up just for our flight.
Jacqui New 10:18
That was really strange. The only people
Daniel New 10:21
yes, you know, the extent of International Airport into this big departure Hall and then yeah, so eventually we got into this flight that I think it was 530 in the afternoon. And when we got on, we saw all these people who got on in Colombia and Ecuador, and they’d been on this plane at 630 that morning, when we got to San Diego and waited another four or five hours there and then finally got on on this flight and ended up in Sydney. And that’s where we are now. So the government’s put us into a hotel. Everyone coming back has to do a two week mandatory quality
Jacqui New 10:55
paid for by the government, which is
Daniel New 10:58
hilarious. We definitely can’t afford that.
Zelie Pollon 11:01
Daniel New 11:03
So yeah, we’ve been here for Well, we get out on Monday. And it’s Saturday here now so we can taste the freedom.
Clint Bush 11:13
And how have your kids been handling this? I know for our kids, it’s a pretty interesting context for them to try to understand this shift their ages. How’s your family doing as a whole?
Jacqui New 11:26
Yeah, well, I think because our kids are a little bit older, they know what’s happening, they know what’s going on. And also, so we’re in a hotel room, we can’t, we don’t have any fresh air. But I think for us having that initial lockdown in Bolivia has helped them to get through this final stage as well. And then also having that goal at the end, we’re almost out of here, they’ve been pretty good and we’ve had a few ups and downs and you know, we’ve been a little relaxed on making them do their schoolwork while we’ve been locked, locked in here. But other than that, Really good.
Daniel New 12:01
Actually they loving being in the same time zone as a lot of their friends because they’re able to chat with them on discord and things and Skype. So that’s been good that’s helped keep them sane, I think.
Jacqui New 12:11
And so what happens on Monday when you get out of quarantine,
Daniel New 12:15
so we’re going to grab a hiker worked out way cheaper than flying and drive down to Melbourne. So we’re going to be on the open freeway
Jacqui New 12:23
about a 10 hour drive. Leave we have to go through a final check here and we get a certificate saying we’ve just completed two weeks quarantine so when we cross the border, we should be fine. Because we live in Victoria and we’re in New South Wales at the moment to be good. All those windows Yeah.
But do you have a house there because I think that for so many remote people I know my struggle is going home is a little bit hard to identify. Now we’ve got I don’t have a home to go to right now. But I’d like to go back so is your home available?
Daniel New 12:55
Nice. We were just renting and women decided to go on this journey. Added sold everything. So yeah, basically everything we owned except for a backpack. Yeah. We’re very lucky, Jackie’s parents live in Melbourne and they’ve got a pretty big house with a couple of spare bedrooms. So when we visited in the past while we’ve been traveling, we’ve always stayed there with them. And they’ve been more than happy to, you know, very, very kindly to have a stay. So they disappear. Look, you know, just get back to Australia. You can just stay with us until you work out. You know what you’re doing. And that’s plan. I need to get down there and then we’re going to work out plan B. Yeah, I’d be a caravan traveling around Australia.
Jacqui New 13:32
We’re not sure yet, but my dad would have a slip there forever.
Zélie Pollon 13:36
Well, that’s a fortunate thing. No, that is it’s a fortunate option, let’s say.
Daniel New 13:40
Definitely. Yes, definitely. We would just be coming back to we don’t know what we don’t even know.
Clint Bush 13:46
Yeah. Yeah. What is the new normal? I guess maybe the temporary new normal look like and I’ll show you right now. So on Monday, you’re going to take this 10 hour drive down to Melbourne. Is there any sort To curfew or lockdown or limitations or that you know that that’s happening there?
Daniel New 14:06
Yeah. So we actually just found out at a national cabinet meeting yesterday that at a federal level, they’re going to sort of put a framework in place to get the country back to normal a bit. And each state has its own set of rules on top of that, but Australia has done really, really well with all this. I think we’ve got less than 100 deaths in the whole country. Maybe it’s just over now. So at the moment, gatherings are banned, restaurants are closed, you know, you’re allowed to go outside and exercise which is what we would have killed for in Bolivia.
Jacqui New 14:36
Yeah. But essential workers. Yeah. Wait, like you can buy a takeaway coffee, but you can’t sit down and
Daniel New 14:42
yeah, get contactless delivering things. So that looks like it’s going to start to use it already has in some states. Yeah, we’re at 93 deaths there. Yeah, yeah. In the whole country, which is pretty keen not to relax things too quickly, instead of seeing other a secondary kind of spike, but we’re expecting things to ease up a little For early next week, so we should be able to hopefully, carefully, you know, go and start to catch up with some friends and things while we’re there, which would be great.
Clint Bush 15:09
What is your perception of travel and being a traveling family? I guess before this and after this, does your perception of that change? Are there things about how you proceed with being a traveling family and, and homeschooling, and everything that comes with it because of this experience?
Daniel New 15:30
I think in some ways, it’s taught us not. And I think we certainly took too much for granted anyway. But I think it really makes you aware that at any point, anything can change. And I guess it’s just so important to be resilient and to be adaptable. And yeah, yeah, definitely. I think you know, going forward, we’re going to travel more slowly. That’s something that we’ve been needing to do for quite a while and then saying so for years. Yeah, I think it’s also opened our eyes a little, I think to, you know, in Bolivia, they had a government stimulus. A lot of people leave live week to week and they’re bluffing. Venezuela’s probably, people now that they were the poorest country in Latin America for many years and certainly amongst the poorest. They had a big government stimulus package. And I think we worked out it was about 100 Ozzie dollars per family 100 uS 100. us perhaps that was a I mean to most western people and Western travelers, you know, it’s like God was 100 bucks. Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s probably taught us a little that we kind of knew and tried to remember and tried to really be aware of and we’ve definitely, you know, had her eyes open many times while traveling, but it was just another reminder of how lucky we are and how much we take for granted. You know, we came back to a country that put us in a Marriott and fitness for two weeks in quarantine. And should we get sick we can go and get basically Free, excellent health care. There’s a lot that we didn’t necessarily take for granted. But it’s definitely a reminder.
Jacqui New 17:08
In regards to homeschooling, nothing’s changed for us. So yes, where we can we use museums and the local culture around us, but we still have a structured sort of course for the kids that they follow, as well. So
do you think that being a world schooler ahead of time and certainly a traveler had already given you an incredible level of resilience that maybe some other families don’t have or other travelers never had?
Daniel New 17:35
Let’s say so. I mean, we we’ve been traveling for almost four years almost coming up before us and on a pretty tight budget. So our kids are used to being stuck on an overnight bus or night train in India or you know, whatever it is leaving leaving, you know, pretty either hotel room or small Airbnb and kind of making the best of situations. I think that definitely Helps they and probably us to, you know, we handled a lot better than we we might have otherwise, because we’re already used to being fairly resilient, I guess. Yeah.
Clint Bush 18:10
So one concept that you mentioned that I think a lot of people are curious about or talk about, is slowing down your travel. And to a lot of people, I think the way you traveled before all proper already seems kind of like slow travel. So how much slower Do you see you traveling in the future? And what do you see is kind of the benefits of that based on your experience?
Jacqui New 18:36
There are many benefits of traveling slower. The first one is money, the slower you travel, the cheaper travel is because you have less transport and you can negotiate longer accommodation and at a cheaper rate than what would be like a one or two neither. But also, I suppose the most important part for us is, you know, to be able to set a schedule of work and School, and you know how to be more consistent. We’ve found that really difficult traveling as fast as we have over the years. So
Daniel New 19:08
we could also also look to get much deeper into a country and really understand a lot more of the culture and the people and things like the language. You know, we’ve been to some countries for just a few days kind of passing through them have been to others for a few months. But we’ve definitely found that when we’ve been somewhere for a few months, we’ve come away with much more and a much greater sort of feel for the country as people,
Jacqui New 19:31
which makes sense because you’re there and you’re sharing their experiences with them. And I think moving forward, that’s sort of what we’ll try and aim for, you know, a few months in one country, and then maybe a little bit of traveling between just to say a little bit more, and then settle down again.
Zélie Pollon 19:46
Now, have you been working during this lockdown? Have you been doing Remote Jobs?
Daniel New 19:51
Not exactly. And that’s that’s sort of definitely like, as Jackie mentioned, a reason why we need to slow down because otherwise, we’re going to find out out of money.
Jacqui New 20:01
We don’t have a job per se, where we’re getting paid by the employer to do anything. We’re just working on our own sites and good stuff. Yeah,
Daniel New 20:10
a couple of things that we’re working on but we’ve we’ve just until now haven’t really
Jacqui New 20:16
found it really hard to focus because of how fast
Daniel New 20:20
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, this this use plan and well, I guess that’s 1.1 upside. But there was gonna be for them.
Zélie Pollon 20:30
The threat of the world coming to an end and the pandemic didn’t, didn’t do much for the focus now did it?
Clint Bush 20:38
That’s an interesting point, though. Because there’s a lot of a think especially at the beginning of the lockdowns globally, there is this mentality of Whoa, you’re quarantined in the house, like, you know, you have more time on your hands. You should come out of this with some sort of product or you should come out of this with some sort of goal accomplished that you’ve always been planning to do. And I think it’s, it’s now becoming that not Yeah, it’s definitely apparent thing, the anxiety and everything going on that’s just not possible. I mean, did you experience that when you first walked down like oh, you know we have this time now is let’s try to do something or did you kind of pace yourselves right from the start?
Jacqui New 21:19
Question. So initially we were already like we’d been in Bolivia for two weeks and we had this really great schedule going about you know, working out we’re doing this and we’re doing it like two hours of Spanish every day. And then this happened and through particularly me threw me right off and all I could think about was trying to get home and then I started this Facebook group and so my attention pretty much was only on getting us here towards the end I suppose after like five weeks of lockdown. I was like, shifting my focus a little bit but yeah, really threw me anyway. I suppose you to the good job.
Daniel New 22:00
You know, had these great ideas like right we can really focus on some knitting, you know, the Spanish language that
kind of really, you know, get a six pack back, but I haven’t had since I was 20
that actually happened.
Zélie Pollon 22:20
Let me let me throw in there too. Are there any other insights or anything else you want to add? Because you know, Clint and I are also in a similar position where we’re away from home we’re debating going back I know I have just kind of a basic level of unease I wonder if that would change if I go home but any other anything to share about the decision that you made and how you feel now?
Daniel New 22:41
I think we feel that we made the right decision for our situation, given that we were in a pretty you know Bolivia’s pretty cut off as far as South American countries go with fairly little in the way of international flights and things and they’ve got a terrible you know, from all hands from from locally me into telling us really poor
Jacqui New 23:01
country why they only had like 12 isolation beds. So if and when things really go down, there could be very dangerous place to be.
Daniel New 23:09
So that you know that that well, I guess also the fact that it became more and more apparent that we just couldn’t see a return to normal taking place in the countries that we were planning to travel to next Peru and Ecuador and Colombia by sort of body year, and that was where we were going to be. We plan to come back to Australia then anyway. So all of that coming together, it made sense for us to just pull the pin on it, come back now, and then sort of work out the next plan. I think possibly, you know, if we didn’t have this day in Australia, or had we been, you know, maybe in somewhere in Asia or Europe, where you’re upset, it’s, you know, challenges but somewhere where we thought that the healthcare system was probably a bit more robust than it might have been a different decision all together. It’s hard to say I guess, not having gone through but
Jacqui New 23:59
the other thing for us is our government has declared the whole world that do not travel zone. So if we were to move out of Bolivia and you know, go, Okay, well, let’s just go up to Peru, if we were allowed, then our travel insurance wouldn’t cover so I thought so we have that
Daniel New 24:19
triggers a clause in every travel insurance policy that I know of in Australia, basically, where if it’s a designated do not travel zone, and that was reserved for, you know, Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jacqui New 24:31
Yeah, prior to this, but now the whole New Zealand you know, even neighbors over the teacher, or read, do not travel like a, like Afghanistan was last year. And now that we’re here, we’re not actually allowed to leave. So we haven’t allowed to travel internationally. We’re not even allowed to travel in different states at the moment.
Daniel New 24:50
So yeah, it’s the right decision, I think for us, given the circumstances but yeah, we’re definitely well, you know, it’s a horrible situation all around. We met some
Jacqui New 25:00
other travelers, family travelers who actually leaked a couple of suburbs away from us, and they had just left in December. So for them to make the decision to come home from there in the same town that we were from South America was pretty heartbreaking for them.
Daniel New 25:16
They had a year away, she was on one serve, oh, rented out the house.
Zélie Pollon 25:22
Well, will this impact any travels that you have going forward the way you think about it the way you plan for it?
Daniel New 25:29
I guess, look, I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. Because it’s really hard to plan for these, you know, because just came out of nowhere. And theoretically, I suppose anything like this could happen at any time. You know, we can’t really live our lives sort of planning for the worst. So I guess we’re going to try and find a balance between keeping in mind that anything happened and sort of having having a back up plan, perhaps, but otherwise, I think, you know, once this is behind us, just move forward. optimistically, and that’s pretty creepy. And
Clint Bush 26:02
I guess specifically for me to extend on that question is would you go back to Bolivia having had this experience or other countries similar in a similar situation as far as the healthcare and that goes? Or is that kind of in the back of your mind as far as what you went through?
Daniel New 26:21
Oh, that would be backing up. But yeah, yeah, we, um,
it’s, you know, we’ve traveled through countries that have big challenges, you know, in terms of infrastructure and things. And you know, that there’s an element of risk in that if something happened to you know, if you broke, if you fell off a motorbike in India and break your leg, perhaps you’d want to be somewhere. It’s something that’s in the back of your mind. I think this thing with COVID-19. It’s just on such a massive scale. And it’s already overwhelmed medical systems in a lot of countries that have a lot more resources. So when we saw that happening and looked at where we were that progress decision. But I think generally, you know, I’ve been in Myanmar in a tiny little town and slice to the end of my toe, all my stuff went to a hospital. Yeah. And this tiny little town in rural sort of Myanmar. And so an English speaking Doctor Who bandaged me up and gave me antibiotics since then you’re my way. And you know, I don’t think it’ll put us off traveling to places. We’ll just hope that, you know, it’s a long time before we see something like
Clint Bush 27:28
this happen again. That’s a great sentiment. I mean, I think from my own personal experience, too, it doesn’t deter us either, because of just some of the other things we’ve seen in experience. And so I don’t think that’s the case with a lot of people, rightfully so everyone has their own context and their own stresses and anxieties that they’re dealing with. But it’s it’s very helpful to hear that especially after the experience you guys went through.
Daniel New 27:54
I mean, we obviously you guys do too. I think it’s a pretty common thing amongst travelers, but just Wish everyone could just step out of their comfort zone at one point in their lives and go and see how the rest of the world moves and learn a bit about the world about themselves from it. I mean, just fix so many problems.
Zélie Pollon 28:10
Oh, I say that all the time. Is there anything else that you all would like to add before we wrap up?
Daniel New 28:16
Oh, wash your hands stay. So
I just hope that people can end up with something positive from even from such a terrible thing. You know, we’ve seen all around the world, things like people coming together in ways that pride of this status didn’t, you know, raising collections that elderly people, you know, don’t have toilet paper? Yeah, there’s nothing like it. Yeah. And, you know, drug sort of gangs in favelas in Brazil coming together to enforce the curfew and make sure that people have food and medicine. You know, there’s just there are positives to have come out from it. So I hope that even despite what terrible thing it is, that there are some sort of lasting positives that come from it.
Clint Bush 28:58
Thank you, Daniel. Jackie for this, this is very insightful was very interesting experience you went through and the whole world is going through it in some ways. So thanks for taking the time to share your story.
Daniel New 29:09
It’s a pleasure. Thank you. So
Zélie Pollon 29:10
we look forward to seeing you out in the world again very soon. Absolutely.
Clint Bush 29:21
Well, that’s the show. Thank you so much for listening. If you like the show, please leave a review on Apple podcasts. It really helps others find the show and lets us know what you think.
Zélie Pollon 29:29
You can find links in episode notes that we will wander.com also if you want to leave feedback or ask a question, go to our website, we will wander.com and click on ask a question. Looking forward to hearing from that we will wander. I’m Bailey Poland.
Clint Bush 29:45
And I’m Clint Bush, reminding you to get lost
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