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We’re 82-year-old Finest Buddies Who Traveled Across the World in 80 Days — This 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 means of 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, optimistic spirit. Their adventures shall be documented in a Penguin Random Home e book referred to as “Glad Place,” out subsequent 12 months.

Sandy Hazelip: I grew up in Fort Value, Texas, in a really modest household and received married once I was virtually 20 years previous to an exquisite particular person. Our son developed diabetes when he was a child, so I turned inquisitive about studying about drugs. After I was 34 years previous, I instructed my husband I needed to go to school to turn out to be a physician. From day one, he was my cheerleader. I began medical college once I was 39 and opened my apply in 1985. 

Then, my husband died in 1999. However earlier than he turned in poor health, 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 have been the administrators of the Zambia Medical Mission. I began occurring the mission and Ellie and I turned good pals.

Ellie Hamby: I grew up as a farm lady in Oklahoma and lived in a really small city till I completed highschool. I received married after which went off to school. 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 have been approached about directing a medical mission. 

Neither one in every of us have been medical [professionals], however I’ve been recognized to prepare 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 per week on the clinic. Sandy’s been one of many medical docs, 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 referred to as me a few month after. I used to be nonetheless adjusting to his sudden dying. She mentioned, ‘I am transferring my medical apply to Abilene and I don’t wish to go away my house in Eastland, so I want a mattress a few nights per week. For those who would give me a mattress, I am going to take you out to eat.’

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

Our outlook on life is comparable: We’re very joyful individuals, we imagine within the goodness of humanity, and we’re not scared to attempt new issues. 

I had already finished 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 prepare. We went on the second-class individuals’s prepare all the way in which. 

Courtesy of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

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

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

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

We received 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 mentioned these two previous girls have to 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 aspect 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 mentioned to Ellie, ‘Why don’t we go around the globe in 80 days after we’re 80?’

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

We used the Oneworld Alliance Around the World fare, which is nice. It’s important to go to 6 continents and it provides you 16 flight segments. You circumnavigate the world in a single path. That made it helpful and saved us cash. 

Hazelip: You can also make your personal itinerary — simply observe their guidelines. After we received 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 resort 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 means of an alley, however after we received to the rooftop, there have been the pyramids. After which the lights present at evening — we watched it totally free.

Hazelip: When different girls say they might 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 most likely do not wish to journey with us.

Hamby: We do not have a journey agent. We e book each resort ourselves; we e book our flights, and when we’ve an issue, we’ve to resolve it as a result of there is not any 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 after we have been 80, however COVID shut it down, so we went after we have been 81, and our theme was…

Hazelip and Hamby: Around the globe 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 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 all over the place — it is unbelievable.

Hazelip: Then, we have been within the Arctic Circle. We had a driver in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. Someday he mentioned, ‘Would you love to do a husky sleigh journey right now?’ I assumed it was going to be some tiny journey like on the Texas honest, so we mentioned positive.

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

Hazelip: We received again and mentioned, ‘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 received to feed the reindeer. 

Hamby: Sandy and I do not usually plan. Issues simply sort of occur. We actually depend on locals to prepare issues for us. In Bali, for instance, we received 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 mentioned, ‘Glad Swing,’ so he turned again. They have been probably the most enjoyable swings over rice paddies.

Hazelip: On the finish, we mentioned we didn’t go on a trip — individuals get drained after 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 have been positive by the point we received there, it might 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 an exquisite time and our new theme is…

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

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 a complete group of Bolivians applauded after we received 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, to your info, between Sandy and I, we’ve 4 synthetic knees. These issues occur to all of us as we become older, and also you’ve set to work laborious, do bodily remedy, and keep optimistic.

Hazelip: Ellie’s household is accustomed to her wild travels. My household is making an attempt to get used to it. I promise I’ll ship them textual content messages day-after-day. I allow them to know we’re secure.

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

We’ll preserve 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, will probably be “We’re 85 and nonetheless alive.”

We hope to have the ability to journey so long as our well being holds out. To this point, we’re positive, however we all know we’re getting older and there is going to be a time we won’t. We do not let age decide what we wish to do. We’re fearless vacationers, we do not like nightlife, and we’re not on the lookout 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.