An Interview with The Spice of Life Travels
Hillary and I love connecting with people that enjoy traveling just as much as we do! We recently made some new friends in the travel community and we wanted to share their story by way of interview. Check it out!
Two years ago Alex and Jess were living a normal life in the suburbs of London. Both professionals with a mortgage, a car and two cats, they decided to make the obvious next step – give it all up! Having always loved traveling, they decided to take their passion to a whole new level and embarked upon a life-changing journey through Latin America.
They have recorded their experiences (the good, the bad, and the sometimes downright ugly!) in their blog. You can find out more about them on their travel blog The Spice of Life Travels as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
1. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while traveling?
We were in the altiplano dust bowl town of Uyuni in Bolivia, waiting for our 3 day trip across the Bolivian salt flats to commence. As we always do, and to kill some time, we went to the local market to buy fruit for our trip. Alex loves taking pictures of local people, and markets are always a good opportunity to see the real side of any country. It’s a well known fact that Bolivian cholitas are a little reluctant to have their pictures taken (we had been told off before!), so Alex decided to take some stealth photos of one old lady as Jess was happily buying apples and bananas. Unfortunately she was on to us and challenged Alex who promptly denied everything! She then went on to give him a proper chastising for lying and told him that God would punish him- which he certainly did do during the subsequent 3 day trip!
2. I see that you quit your jobs before embarking on travels through Central and South America, how do you fund your adventures!?
Quite simply, we did a lot of saving whilst we were still working! We also made some smart decisions like buying a house before we left whilst we could still get credit, and renting it out whilst we were traveling. Also, knowing how to budget is an important skill, you can read some of our tips here.
3. Why did you choose to travel through Latin America? Isn’t that super dangerous!?
Whilst Jess has always had a fascination with pre-Colombian history, our obsession with Latin America really kicked off after Peruvian food started to get popular in London. After a delicious Peruvian meal, and a few too many pisco sours, we decided to take a two week holiday to Peru. It was fantastic and we were hooked, but we felt that two weeks weren’t anywhere near enough. That spawned the idea of longer term travel and a desire to explore of the whole of South America and Central America.
We think Latin America has a bad reputation and of course there are dangerous areas. But there are also dangerous areas in London or in any other country or city! A bit of common sense will see you a long way. We didn’t encounter any problems and found Latin Americans to be super hospitable and friendly. Not everyone is a ‘bad hombre’!
4. What are a few of your favorite books and why?
Jess – Another of my South American obsessions is the father of magic realism Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We even visited his birthplace in the hot, sleepy interior of Colombia. His most famous novel is a novel ‘100 Years of Solitude’ I’d I have to say that it is my all time favourite book, EVER! It weaves together the lives of multiple generations of one family in a fictional semi-forgotten town. It is truly a magical masterpiece of love, life, death and family.
Alex – This is a difficult one because I read a lot about several different topics, and I don’t have favourite books as such. I do however have favourite authors. I went through a sci-fi phase where I basically read everything from Arthur C Clarke, Asimov, Banks and Alastair Reynolds. I also read quite a lot about the history of Latin America in the last couple of years and have developed a fascination in Buddhist philosophy and red several books by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have a background in psychology so I enjoy a good science book, especially those dealing with the study of consciousness, I particularly like the philosopher of science Dan Dennett and neuroscientist Sam Harris. I must also mention the great Italian journalist/writer Tiziano Terzani for his wonderful books about Asia and eastern spirituality. Unfortunately, he is not very well known outside of Italy and Germany, but I find it impossible to read his stories of his 30 year of travels throughout Asia without wanting to pack my bags and just go…
5. What is the most adventurous or memorable thing you guys have done?
Apart from quitting our normal life for the uncertainty of long term travel?! Probably when we decided it would be a good idea to take a rough and ready tour into the infamous working mine called Cerro Rico (aka the mountain that eats men!) in Potosi, Bolivia. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience but we wanted to understand the important influence that this metal and mineral rich mountain had, and still has, on Bolivia and its population.
In terms of memorable destinations then it has to be seeing the wonderful wildlife of The Galapagos Islands and the enigmatic and iconic stone heads of Easter Island. These two destinations took a huge chunk out of our budget but they were well worth it.
6. As a couple, how has travel impacted your relationship?
Part of the reason we wanted to travel was so that we could spend more time together! This has mixed results as being together constantly means a lack of personal space, but the outcome was that our relationship grew stronger. In fact, we even got married in Belize! (and yes, we are still married!).
7. If you could give one or two pieces of advice for people that want to quit their jobs and travel the world, what would they be?
A very good friend of ours gave us this advice, and so we are stealing it for ourselves! She had already done this sort of thing twice before and she said that if you have even the slightest inclination to do it then you should, otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what if? We haven’t regretted our choice, so we think that this is sound advice.
8. You wake up to learn that a long lost uncle has passed away and you have inherited 10 million dollars. What would you spend the money on and why?
Jess – I would definitely pay off a few mortgages for my family and friends, then I think I would buy some property in places that we love around the world. We could stay in them sometimes and have them rented out for the rest of the time.
Alex – I would too help family and friends first. Then I would probably become a perpetual nomad whilst trying to run a foundation dedicated to providing an education to children in third world and developing countries.
9. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned since moving abroad?
Definitely to slow down, try to be in the moment, and not to rush towards an end goal – you’ll miss everything all along the way!
Follow and trust your instincts more, if you want to do something really badly, you should do it, and not worry about what society or others think of you.
Don’t assume that the western way of doing things is the best or the only way of living your life. We in the west, define some countries as being in the second or third world. We should however be mindful that this definition is purely based on economics, and it doesn’t reflect the cultural riches and ancestral wisdom that these countries and peoples still possess, and that perhaps we have forgotten.
10. Imagine we are 10 years in the future. Tell us about where you are and what you’re doing.
We’d like to own our own business that we can be proud to have created and enjoy a less frantic pace of life. Who knows, maybe there will be some mini spice-of-lifers to carry on the proud family tradition of traveling!
11. Is there anything else you would like to add, or share with the readers?
Thank you Hillary and Greg for the questions, we enjoyed the mini-interview. Thanks to anyone who is reading the answers, please subscribe to our blog obviously! We’d love to hear your stories and there will always be more to come from us!
Thank you so much to Alex and Jess for giving us an insight into their life! There is so much we can learn from one another and I know my Amazon cart just got a little heavier with all of those book recommendations! Don’t forget to check out their travel blog The Spice of Life Travels as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.