Existing Member?

yu-en-me ´a man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher, .. he who goes from country to country guided by blind impulses of curiosity is .. a vagabond.´ - oliver goldsmith

the adventures of Mapuchino: the travelling fetus

ECUADOR | Friday, 20 March 2009 | Views [3448] | Comments [20]

mapuchino sucking his thumb

mapuchino sucking his thumb

so ok, it´s been quite a while since i last wrote, but i´m going to unashamedly use my ´state´ as the excuse: i´m pregnant! and now that i´ve ruined all chances of building up the suspense, i guess i´ll just jump straight to the FAQs:

wtf! you´re not serious??? how far ´gone´ are you? and wait a minute, who´s the father?

Yes, i´m perfectly serious, i´m more than 6 months; the baby´s due mid-june. The father (and also, just in case you gossips are wondering, my true love, soulmate, life partner, or whatever other cliché you wish you apply) is chilean. His name´s marcelo and loves rockclimbing, being outside and cooking. Which is kinda perfect since i love travelling, being outside and eating.

but hang on, i thought you wanted to continue travelling the world for at least a few more (5, 10, 15...) years? isn´t a baby or a family going to put an end to that? and anyway, didn´t you always want to adopt?

Well no, not really. I´ve never believed that raising a family in the one spot is the only way to go. The importance of ´stability´ for a young family doesn´t refer to locational stability, but rather to the emotional and psychological. After all, let´s not forget that humans did start off as nomadic beings, and that such societies still exist today. If i´ve been travelling sola for so long, it´s not because i´m *against* the idea of forming a family with someone, but rather because i hadn´t met anyone who shared the same belief and strength for a travelling lifestyle to work even with kids. Not to mention someone who shared the same ideals and longterm plans, who both attracts and is attracted to me. (Lord, I´m sure some will agree that it´s hard enough to find that special someone in ´normal´ life!) To end all doubts, the baby *was* planned (with modern contraception, i´d feel a bit indignant if anyone thought me so irresponsible as to have an ´accident´!), and yes, we talked very extensively about how we want to raise it (and possibly others), what type of values we want to instil, alternative schooling methods, etc. Of course, a lot depends on the pup - dubbed ´the mapuchino´ following chile´s main indigenous tribe (mapuches) and my ´chino´ heritage. ´Home´-schooling is quite feasible for the primary years, and possibly even in the secondary, depending on how things go in terms of what he wants to do with his life, and so on. But one thing that we´re both agreed on: we feel that it´s much more important that he learn how to relate to the less fortunate as well as the wealthy, how to comfort someone who´s suffering, to know the difference between what´s ´right´ and ´wrong´ despite cultural or societal laws, and be sure of both his importance and insignificance in this big, big world of ours, than for him to get a triple master´s from Harvard. 

Oh, and yes, i still want to adopt. But marcelo argued that it´s important to feel my own flesh and blood to realise the significance of adoption, and i think he´s got a point. The second will be an adoption, and I´ll love him/her as much as the first.

huh. and you don´t think it´s going to be a bit difficult, for example, economically? and what if there are health problems? isn´t it just a bit too dangerous?

ok, firstly the money issue: neither of us plan to buy a house any time soon, we have no interest in collecting the usual goods like cars, tvs, dvds, or paying monthly membership fees to gyms, clubs, etc. our main expense is the actual travelling (which is considerably reduced if you´re hitch-hiking or cycle-touring), accomodation (we don´t require 5-star hotels), and food (which we´re quite happy cooking ourselves, either in a public kitchen, say in a hostel, or on our very efficient camping stove). As we´ve both done individually before, we´re well aware of the need to work occasionally, and whenever we like a place, we´ll be thinking of stopping for a few months or a year, to save up some mula before heading on. it´s very possible, and very easy if you´re willing to give up certain luxuries.

now for health: babies are born all over the world, and most survive. The most concentrated parts of the world with high infant mortality rates are due to limited medical services, and/or because of the parents´ ignorance. I don´t consider marcelo and myself to be particularly ignorant, and that includes sussing out where we can and can´t safely go, where there are medical facilities, etc. For that very reason, we´ve been avoiding the malarial areas here in south america, and have been keeping a very close watch on the altitudes that i reach on our treks. To those who may confuse ´alternative´ with ´irresponsible´, and are wont to worry, I´d very firmly like to state that we are the LAST TWO PEOPLE who would put our child´s health at risk!

ok, ok, so you´ve thought it all out as much as ´planning´ is possible in life. but what was the rush?

There was no rush. It just seems like a rush because most of us are used to the idea of a few years of courtship, of saving up money to get a mortgage, of advancing far enough in our respective careers to feel secure, before being ´ready´ to have children. As i´ve already mentioned, we don´t plan on buying a mortgage, and although we both have tertiary education, there´s absolutely no interest in establishing ourselves in any ´career´. We both feel sure of ourselves as individuals, and that´s what lends strength to the relationship and makes us ´ready´ for a family. So in terms of a longer courtship: well, i know couples who break up after 20 years of blissful partnership, and couples where ´love at first sight´ actually is more than merely ´lust at first sight´. As a good friend once said to me ´in a couple, you´re NEVER sure how you´re going to feel about the other person in a year´s time´, and the thing is, that´s how i feel about life in general. So instead of asking ´what´s the rush?´, i guess we both just asked ourselves ´what are we waiting for?´ We´re both old enough to understand the meaning of dedication, commitment, and know that relationships need to be worked at. We realise that the affection that one feels for the other person after 1 year is different than after 5, or after 10. If a relationship doesn´t work, it´s got nothing to do with the length of courtship. But that´s irrelevant, since in our case, it´s going to work! ;)

ok, enough about the ´boring´ details - tell me more about what you´ve been doing since you last wrote about San Pedro! where´ve you been, and what´s the pregnancy been like so far?

wow, where can i start? it seems that the mapuchino inside of me has travelled more in his 26 weeks than i have in my whole life! A few people whom we´ve met along the way have expressed their surprise that we´re on the move, asking me if it isn´t a burden to travel pregnant. And while i´m not going to downplay the discomfort of morning sickness (which is SUCH a lie! it´s 24hour sickness!), or the nausea that i feel when we go along some of the bumpier roads of bolivia or peru, i can definitely say that with the support of marcelo, travelling pregnant is not as uncomfortable or limiting as one might imagine. I´ve been doing just as many several-day-hikes (if not more) than before, and despite the growing belly, am getting pretty ok at rockclimbing, if i do say so myself. I´ve reached my personal highest point so far at 5100 metres above sea level on a 5-day trek in peru, and we´ve lived through stormy nights with washed out campsites (one time, literally forced to take cover underneath a rock as the downpour washed a layer of loose silt and dirt over our entire tent!). We´ve trekked through the Colca Canyon, arguably the deepest canyon on Earth *(more than twice as deep as the States´ Grand Canyon, at over 3000m deep), have pitched our tent on a rockledge at 3000m.a.s.l. where it could be seen in a town 10km away, and will soon visit Chimborazo, whose summit is the furthest point from the Earth´s centre (ie, Earth´s closest point to the sun, 2300m further than the centre than Everest´s peak due Earth´s irregular shape). Sure i´m a bit slower than before, my compressed organs force me to go to the toilet every 15 minutes, and i´m nowhere near as fit as when i was cycle-touring, but taking it easy, and having my vegging out days when necessary mean that i´m enjoying this stage of my travels as much as ever.

*sorry, i stand corrected: there are far deeper canyons in the Tibet, Nepal, China areas. the Colca was considered the deepest in the Americas but i think on technicalities, the Cotohuasi beats it.

sounds like fun! so i guess we´ll see you in australia soon for the birth?

yep, it sure is fun, and nope, he´s almost definitely going to be south american. The initial idea was to keep travelling and have a natural birth by the roadside somewhere, with marcelo biting through the umbilical cord and all. Then we entertained the idea of giving birth while rockclimbing, so he can enter the world bungee-jumping with the cord. But our parents tut-tutted and have used their grandparental rights to persuade us to have him in a place with medical attention. The current toss-up is between ecuador and chile... but who knows, we still have 3 months to go, and we´re open to any suggestions for birthplaces and/or birthmethods!

(for more photos, see the pregnant travels gallery, or www.yuen82.myphotoalbum.com)



Well jeez could you give more comprehensive info or what?! I would love to see u pregnant but I don't think I will... It's great to hear from you and hear all your thoughts on everything. I really admire you and your bravery in following your heart and your dreams.
Jarrad and I are off on our honeymoon tomorrow to Israel, Jordan, Hong Kong and Brunei. We go for a month and are very excited! Lots of love from me x

  Wendy Soffer Hill (ex Wendy Soffer!) Mar 20, 2009 10:42 AM


You rock Yuen :-) good to hear from you after so long, will send you an e-mail soon. would love to meet Mapuchino one day - he's going to be an amazing character! keep enjoying life!

  Vanessa Mar 20, 2009 10:49 AM


Mazel Tov! WHat a lovely story, you've brought a great big smile to my face. Bear and I wish you and Marcelo and baby cino all the best. Keep us posted! much love, Nina

  Nina Mar 20, 2009 6:49 PM


Qué te puedo decir? Me hiciste sonreir en cuanto leí tu e-mail... estoy muy emocionada que voy a ser tia!! Ojalá me puedas mandar más fotos de ti embarazada. Muchas felicidades a Marcelo y a ti, y en verdad espero que pueda conocer a mi sobrino pronto :-)
Te quiero mucho amiga y como siempre estoy muy orgullosa de ti!

  Mariana Mar 20, 2009 9:26 PM


Yuen, there is only one person in this world who still has the skill of the story-teller... and that my dear is you!

Marcello and you have my fondest wishes and prayers for a safe and healthy birth. I am sure that your child will grow up to truly understand what pleasures living life can bring.

If you ever do set up a quasi-nomad settlement at some point next year... Naila and I may be on our way there for a honeymoon - I promise to come and visit!

I still have Bupu the paper plane and think of you often!
Love always,

  Keith Govias Mar 21, 2009 4:39 AM


Hola Yuen!!como estas?, FELICITACIONES por "Mapu Chino", ,realmente aun sigo sorprendida por esto,jamas te imagine embarazada,pero asi es la vida y hay q vivirla, realmente te deseo todo lo mejor para el momento del nacimiento q es en junio, va ser de geminis igual que yo, los mejores!!. Pronto te escribo un emial. besito, Nora Acuña

  Nora Acuña Mar 21, 2009 2:16 PM


Yuen dear, I love it how you share your stories in such an open and honest way. Am really excited for you and I look forward to see your family photos with your lil mapuchino. Take care love!

  Wennie Mar 23, 2009 8:36 PM


oh how exciting, a little Yuen baby would be very cute! good luck with it all.

  juz Mar 24, 2009 11:44 AM


You are still one of my favourites, even though I have not seen you in many moons.
I'm glad you're making another one of you.
I guess you'll have to convince this man of yours to wear Liederhosen in my stead.
Take good care.
Mark x

  Mark V Mar 24, 2009 11:51 PM


WOW.. That is amazing!!! congratulations. I just think it is important for the bub to have some stability. Great to hear from you!

  Benjamin Lechte Mar 25, 2009 1:03 AM


Wow Yuen, congratulations!
I cannot imagine anything cuter than a Mapuchino, particularly yours.
Love the way you tell your tales...it's like you read my mind with some of the Q&As above particularly the first one :)
Love and best wishes (sounds formal, but expresses my sentiments exactly)

  Maansi Mar 26, 2009 5:49 PM


Por favor Yuen...algun día escribí un libro con todos tus escritos...podes tambien transcribir tus diarios.
Eso si...cruzate para la Arg. en Junio. Ese bebe tiene que ser Argentinooo!!! jajaja

  Kev Mar 27, 2009 9:32 PM


felicitacines y un beso te mando

  arturo Apr 1, 2009 10:07 AM


im just trying read all the book... im marcelo´s friend. i dont know you but is like i know you.... i goig to keep reading your book, and big hug for you and marcelo... and i like the bungee-jumping idea :)

  Guillermo Duarte Apr 5, 2009 6:12 AM


Oh. My. GOD!

I've been sitting on this info for a couple of days trying to work out an appropriate response to such a ton of momentous news. Obviously OMG was the best I could manage so I had to go with it...

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS! (in chronological order) for meeting your soulmate and for the baby who is nearly here. I have a million questions despite your incredibly thorough FAQ section, but perhaps this isn't the place for them. So I will simply exclaim that only you would TAKE UP rock climbing while pregnant (!!) and say that as the only true adventurer I know why am I surprised that you would take on such a great and grand adventure as this?

Be well and happy, bella.

  Spescha Apr 5, 2009 6:46 PM


:) nice to see your story. it makes me really happy to hear coming baby's news as a mother, waiting hers in the begining of july. i will, you, both have good time.:)
enjoy these days

  ayşem Apr 24, 2009 10:14 PM


Hey, congratulations! And good luck! Travelling and families are perfectly compatible. In fact, I'd go further and say they are one of the best kept secrets since so few people find out. Don't get me wrong: travelling with a family is hard work, but all of a sudden local people treat you *VERY* differently - as a normal human being with many of the same joys and wonders that come with families the world over, rather than as a traveller.

Take care and happy travelling.
Simon (founder of World Nomads)

ps - the advice you were given RE: giving birth in a hospital is spot on. Take it!

  simon_monk Jul 1, 2009 12:07 PM


Hi Yuen!
Great news! And great story, as usual!!! :)
I like your style, both of living your life and of your story-telling!
I am curious if the baby is born already!?
Ok, best of luck and keep writing! :)
Love from Holland!

  Dave Jul 28, 2009 5:19 AM


i loved your story- it inspired me as i am about to go off on a(nother) big voyage of my own (www.thelongandwinding.co.uk) and hope one day to adopt, or possibly to have my own, and i see no point in coming home when that does happen. so happy for you, you seem a wonderful woman. may everything be good for the three of you, and more, when the time is right.. love rosie xx

  rosie Nov 12, 2009 3:04 AM


Hi Yuen,
I loved your story. I was curious as to how far along you were when you visited Colca Canyon. We have planned a trip to Peru but I will be 24 weeks pregnant .... we're a little worried about the altitude in Colca Canyon.
Thanks in advance,

  Jasmin Jul 29, 2015 2:31 AM



Travel Answers about Ecuador

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.