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We’re 82-year-old Finest Buddies Who Traveled Across the World in 80 Days — Here is What It Was Like

For Journey + Leisure’s column Touring As, we’re speaking to vacationers about what it’s prefer to discover the world by their distinctive views. We chatted with Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby, two 82-year-old single nice grandmothers, who journey across the globe along with an infectious, constructive spirit. Their adventures shall be documented in a Penguin Random Home e book known as “Pleased Place,” out subsequent 12 months.

Sandy Hazelip: I grew up in Fort Value, Texas, in a really modest household and acquired married once I was virtually 20 years previous to a beautiful particular person. Our son developed diabetes when he was a child, so I grew to become involved in studying about medication. Once I was 34 years previous, I instructed my husband I needed to go to varsity to turn out to be a health care provider. From day one, he was my cheerleader. I began medical faculty once I was 39 and opened my observe in 1985. 

Then, my husband died in 1999. However earlier than he grew to become sick, he talked about we should always take our grandchildren on mission journeys. Six months after he handed, a younger doctor instructed me he was going to be at a medical missions workshop the next weekend in Dallas. I went and met Ellie Hamby and her husband, who had been the administrators of the Zambia Medical Mission. I began happening the mission and Ellie and I grew to become good mates.

Ellie Hamby: I grew up as a farm lady in Oklahoma and lived in a really small city till I completed highschool. I acquired married after which went off to varsity. My husband was a professor at Abilene Christian College. We wound up going to Zambia and lived there for six years within the Nineteen Eighties. After we got here again to the college, we had been approached about directing a medical mission. 

Neither one among us had been medical [professionals], however I’ve been identified to arrange all the pieces all of my life. We began organizing a medical mission to Zambia within the Nineties. It is one of many world’s largest medical missions, and I am nonetheless directing it. We see 2,000 to three,000 sufferers a day over six days every week on the clinic. Sandy’s been one of many medical medical doctors, going each different 12 months for the final 20-something years.

About 5 years after Sandy’s husband handed away, my husband handed away in a tennis accident. Sandy known as me a few month after. I used to be nonetheless adjusting to his sudden dying. She stated, ‘I am transferring my medical observe to Abilene and I don’t need to depart my residence in Eastland, so I would like a mattress a few nights every week. If you happen to would give me a mattress, I am going to take you out to eat.’

That was 19 years in the past. Besides once we’re on journeys, she’s typically at my home one or two nights every week. We stayed up late, drank espresso, and began realizing we love to do issues alike. Our friendship developed out of two horrible tragedies, but it surely was a fantastic factor as a result of tragedy hits all of us. That does not imply your life is over. We each had phenomenal husbands. We beloved them dearly. However we did develop this nice friendship. 

Our outlook on life is analogous: We’re very blissful individuals, we consider within the goodness of humanity, and we’re not scared to strive new issues. 

I had already performed fairly a little bit of touring, having been to about 115 international locations.

About three years after Sandy began staying at my home, we took our first journey collectively in 2008. We went on the Trans-Siberian Railway — not the vacationer practice. We went on the second-class individuals’s practice all the way in which. 

Courtesy of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

Hazelip: Our third journey collectively was in 2011 — we had been in Syria when the battle broke out.

Hamby: We had been sleeping in a Bedouin tent in Palmyra within the Syrian desert. We had already been all by Syria on public buses — two 72-year-old girls with backpacks.

The issue was that there have been no vacationers in Palmyra and we had been headed to Jordan, however we hadn’t paid the lodge and there have been no ATMs within the metropolis, nor did they take bank cards. Mohammad on the lodge organized all the pieces for us — his mom cooked us a beautiful meal that evening and he organized for us to go along with a driver to Damascus about 5 hours away.

We acquired there and the entire plaza was lined with the army holding AK-47s. Our driver went as much as them and will need to have stated these two previous girls must get money out of an ATM. They put down their weapons. We prayed there could be cash — and there was. Then, Mohammad instructed us to get in a white unmarked automobile on the facet of the street to take us to Jordan — and it did. So, we already had some wild experiences.

Courtesy of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

Hazelip: We’re sufficiently old to recollect the film and e book, “Across the World in 80 Days,” so two or three years previous to turning 80, I stated to Ellie, ‘Why don’t we go around the globe in 80 days once we’re 80?’

Hamby: My first response was, ‘What?!’ About 30 seconds later, ‘Why not?’ We instructed our household and mates. I feel most of them felt like it will by no means occur. It’s a fairly daunting factor, and we did not notice simply how daunting it was till we accomplished it and acquired all this recognition.

We used the Oneworld Alliance Around the World fare, which is nice. You must go to 6 continents and it provides you 16 flight segments. You circumnavigate the world in a single route. That made it useful and saved us cash. 

Hazelip: You can also make your personal itinerary — simply observe their guidelines. After we acquired to a rustic and needed to see extra issues, we might use our airline miles and fly to these different locations. Often, we had to purchase a ticket. Our common lodge room for the entire 80 days was $29 an individual per evening — and that normally included breakfast.

Hamby: Our greatest discount was $13.50 on the Royal Pyramids Inn in Cairo. We needed to enter by an alley, however once we acquired to the rooftop, there have been the pyramids. After which the lights present at evening — we watched it free of charge.

Hazelip: When different girls say they’d like to make a journey with us, the very first thing I do is have a look at their arms. If they’ve well-manicured fingernails, they in all probability do not need to journey with us.

Hamby: We do not have a journey agent. We e book each lodge ourselves; we e book our flights, and when now we have an issue, now we have to resolve it as a result of there is no one we will name. And we have no males carrying our baggage.

Hazelip: We had initially deliberate to go on our Across the World journey once we had been 80, however COVID shut it down, so we went once we had been 81, and our theme was…

Hazelip and Hamby: All over the world in 80 days at 81 and nonetheless on the run.

Courtesy of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

Hamby: We began in Antarctica. It is one of the vital awe-inspiring locations to set foot on on this planet. To face there and do a 360 round you — what you see is simply past perception. The immenseness of the Antarctic, the ice mountains, the icebergs, the water, penguins in all places — it is unbelievable.

Hazelip: Then, we had been within the Arctic Circle. We had a driver in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. At some point he stated, ‘Would you love to do a husky sleigh experience at the moment?’ I believed it was going to be some tiny experience like on the Texas honest, so we stated positive.

Hamby: He had an entire pack of huskies. We went for 4 miles by the forest, turning sharp corners and holding on for expensive life. And it was minus 4 levels.

Hazelip: We acquired again and stated, ‘Wow, that was enjoyable!’ One other day, he requested if we needed to see the reindeer farm. Seems, it was his household’s farm the place he grew up, and we acquired to feed the reindeer. 

Hamby: Sandy and I do not usually plan. Issues simply form of occur. We actually depend on locals to arrange issues for us. In Bali, for instance, we acquired a driver for $50 for eight hours. After we noticed one thing we needed to do, we might do it. We noticed this signal that stated, ‘Pleased Swing,’ so he turned again. They had been essentially the most enjoyable swings over rice paddies.

Hazelip: On the finish, we stated we didn’t go on a trip — individuals get drained once they go on trip. We went on an journey and each journey simply ramped us up for the following one. 

Ellie discovered a saying that I completely love: ‘The world is a e book and he who doesn’t journey solely reads one web page.’

One of many world wonders we had deliberate to see on the journey was Machu Picchu, however the political unrest shut it down. Ellie and I are everlasting optimists. We had been positive by the point we acquired there, it will be over. Three days earlier than our flight was scheduled to Peru, we needed to make the choice to cancel that. 

So, this 12 months, we at the moment are in South America with Machu Picchu being the final place we cease. We’re having a beautiful time and our new theme is…

Hazelip and Hamby: We’re 82 and we’re not by.

Courtesy of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

Hamby: We’re up in La Paz, Bolivia, at greater than 12,000 toes. We climbed within the Valley of the Moon the opposite day and an entire group of Bolivians applauded once we acquired all the way in which to the highest.

On this journey, we fished for piranhas within the Amazon. I caught three, however Sandy caught the largest one. We ate it that evening in piranha stew, which was fairly good. We additionally went alligator looking — and caught two. I went swimming with pink dolphins within the Amazon. We’re not afraid to enterprise out.

Hazelip: We’re not afraid to have enjoyable.

Hamby: Additionally, on your data, between Sandy and I, now we have 4 synthetic knees. These issues occur to all of us as we grow old, and also you’ve started working exhausting, do bodily remedy, and keep constructive.

Hazelip: Ellie’s household is accustomed to her wild travels. My household is attempting to get used to it. I promise I’ll ship them textual content messages every single day. I allow them to know we’re protected.

Hamby: In our planning, there are some issues our children need not know. They did not must know we had been going piranha fishing, for instance. Why would we inform them and have them freak out? They’ll discover out later once they see photos of the piranha we caught.

We’ll maintain touring so long as we will — and we will provide you with sayings. We don’t have one for 83 and 84, however for 85, it will likely be “We’re 85 and nonetheless alive.”

We hope to have the ability to journey so long as our well being holds out. Up to now, we’re positive, however we all know we’re getting older and there is going to be a time we will not. We do not let age decide what we need to do. We’re fearless vacationers, we do not like nightlife, and we’re not searching for males. We’re simply two single girls having an journey.

Hazelip: We’ve one fantastic journey after one other each single day.

Hamby: The language of South America has been a bit trickier than most, however Sandy and I say there’s one common language, and that is a smile. We use that over and over and over.

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