Some big changes are ahead. Back in the summer of 2011 when I created this blog I was partway through my degree at the University of Guelph, working with snakes in Windsor, Ontario for a summer job and toying with the idea of completing a birding "big year" in Ontario. Needless to say my focus was pretty much entirely focused on my home province of Ontario. But I had also recently completed my first trip to the tropics when I visited Panama for two weeks in 2010 on a snake-finding adventure. That trip was not only a great success with many sightings, but it planted a seed. I loved the tropics and had to spend more time down there.
In the years since, I have remained in Ontario, living and working here while taking as many out-of-province trips as I could to explore the biodiversity in our world. Laura finished her veterinary degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2016 and moved back to Ontario. In the three years since, we have gotten married and worked full time jobs in Ontario, while also taking the time to do short trips to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ecuador. We have held off on home ownership and have tried to put away as much money as possible. The reasoning was simple: We wanted to fulfill a dream that we have had for many years, a dream that goes back to our University of Guelph days. We wanted to have the opportunity to do some really serious traveling before too many responsibilities got in the way.
Well, that opportunity has finally arrived. Laura and I have both quit our full time jobs and are in the process of moving out of our rental house and putting everything in storage. For the next two plus years we will be traveling!
What exactly is our plan, then? That is a good question. We purposefully do not want to tie ourselves down with too many pre-arranged commitments, and so we have tried to leave our schedule as open as possible. But so far, it looks like our first stint will be in Ecuador. Laura and I have signed up for four weeks of Spanish school to kick off the trip. While Laura's Spanish is at an intermediate level and mine is (barely) passable for traveling, we want to both get to a level where we are more or less fluent. Obviously four weeks will only do so much, but it will be a great way to start the adventure.
Following that, we have some work lined up in Colombia for a few weeks with Worldwide Quest. We will be returning to Quito in early November and will be traveling in Ecuador until Christmas time. During this time we will have a few people visiting us, including several friends of ours who are coming down for a hardcore birding trip.
We will come back home for Christmas and fly back to South America in early January. I currently have tours lined up in Colombia and Spain in the early part of 2020 and Laura and I will fit in some personal travel between the tours. To save on money, we are hoping to have a few stints working/staying at various lodges. Hopefully we can provide guiding services in exchange for room and board. If anyone reading this has any leads that we can pursue, please let us know. :)
We are not sure yet what our plans for the second half of 2020 will be, but I am sure it will be epic! I would love to spend a couple of months in Peru at some point, and Bolivia is another country I have been eyeing up. I have another tour lined up in Borneo for October of 2020 but other than that we will likely be in the Neotropics for the rest of 2020. Obviously 2021 is way too far away to predict, but we will likely aim to spend most of that year in Central / South America as well.
If all goes to plan we will still visit Ontario a few times each year. I aiming to spend 2-3 months next May-July in Ontario to complete a work contract (and also to get my fix of birding at Point Pelee!), while Laura will also visit for part of this time during the summer. She is hoping to do some veterinary placements in South America, both with wildlife and domestic species, while I am away in Canada.
I will be posting regularly on my blog during our travels and will do my best to keep it relatively up to date. We will also be posting about our travels on our Instagram accounts: @ecologist_josh and @bond_with_nature007.
We are both looking forward to what the next few years have in store!! Bring on our departure date of September 13th!