This project was a mix of research and epic adventure! And why not! It tested our capacities, physically, emotionally, mentally, culturally, and intellectually. One fellow rider remarked that as we return home after 26 months on the road, “you’ll want to tell people about your journey, but they won’t understand, and so be compassionate with them”. This is like the adage about not touching the stove because it’s hot; it’s something you have to experience to know. So you’ll have to take my word for it when I say it was awesome.
The project was an exercise in planning, budgeting, and courage. The theme of this specific project was to research operations management practices such as Lean, TQM, Six-sigma, etc., to better understand the different business environments through North, Central and South America including Cuba. We were looking to connect with local people and businesses and find out how they improved their business performance. Even though the research conditions and design were not ideal, the process of conducting and writing about the research was tremendously beneficial and helped lead us to where we are today. The research theme was a fantastic way to travel, meet people, and develop a deeper understanding of cultures and diversity.
We travelled for 26 months (June 2010-August 2012) on our motorcycles through the Americas from Vancouver B.C. to Alaska, across Canada to Newfoundland Island (where Hurricane Earl destroyed our tent), to Arizona, all over Mexico (discovering the wonders of Copper Canyon in Chihuahua), passing through Guatemala, being chased by bandits from El Salvador to Honduras, high temperatures in Nicaragua of up to 47oC, loving Costa Rica and Panama, through the San Blas Islands to get to Colombia. In South America we explored Colombia, Ecuador with its beautiful Quilotoa Loop, by Peruvian coast and mountains, the Andes from Chile to Argentina where we fell in love with the culture and people of Argentina, over the high roads of one of the poorest countries in the Americas: Bolivia, back to Peru where Brian was attacked by dogs and broke his two arms and knee, to Colombia by water and air, and from there to Cuba. We spent five months (marooned) in Cuba, returning to Mexico on a Mexican boat that was getting repairs, and planned our route back to Canada.
73,000 kilometers later, here we are happy to have experienced this journey, the challenges, the culture, the roles in our team, and to have done it with minimum resources; we averaged 50 dollars a day for the entire trip! That was about 5 dollars a day for food to put it in perspective. Most (almost all) people we met thought we must be millionaires to be able to manage a trip like this. This speaks to our personal capacities for being resilient, adaptable, innovative, carefully organized, and persistent. We became more sustainable along the way and aware of the environment, the trappings or material life and how unimportant they are, and the value and importance of human capacity and value, standards, and education.
Outcomes: Various publications, international business and personal relationships, advanced education, understanding personal strategy, teamwork and adaptability, and cultural understandings.