They swam with whale sharks off Baja California, and watched the Milky Way glimmer over one of the darkest places on Earth.
Life is simpler, but much more adventurous, these days for Josh Biro and his wife, Jenna Rosene, since they sold their Bikram Yoga studio in Red Deer early in 2016 and hit the road.
The couple were grieving the accidental death of their middle child, daughter Zama, who was hit by a falling rock while the family was vacationing in Ecuador.
It wasn’t the reason they left Central Alberta — the family had been planning to downsize and become more mobile for several years.
But Rosene said the sense of mortality they felt through the loss of Zama suddenly made their travel plans become a priority.
The “Nomad Yoga Family” has since been driving through Western Canada and the U.S., down to Guatemala and Mexico in their 105-square-foot EarthRoamer with their other children — son Arjuna, 6, and their daughter Lux, age 18 months.
They pay for expenses by holding guest yoga workshops at a network of studios they contacted along the way — and by doing business coaching for other yoga studio owners.
Traversing from scenic and remote locales along British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast to the midst of congested Mexico City (“which we loved, as big and crazy as it is”), Biro added, “we have the opportunity to see whatever geography we want, in the moment.”
Countless experiences were lived — including ocean surfing, hiking through the desert and up mountains.
The couple swam with 25-foot plankton-eating whale sharks off Coyote Beach in Baja, Calif., and woke their kids to admire the carpet of stars overhead while camping in Death Valley.
“There’s no light pollution, so the stars are indescribable,” recalled Biro.
So far, the positives have certainly outweighed their one negative experience — of having one of their vehicle’s windows smashed in Acapulco and some near-empty bags stolen. Biro said the family always takes precautions to camp in safe spots that are well reviewed online by other adventurers.
Homeschooled Arjuna has learned some mathematics by converting dollars to pesos, while Lux is speaking a form of Spanglish, reverting to whatever words are easier.
“She says ‘hola!’ instead of hi,” said Biro, “and since she can’t say ‘water,’ she says ‘agua.”
Family members will sometimes be reminded of a holiday they took with Zama, and share memories of her. “We like to remember and talk about her,” said Rosene.
Occasionally Arjuna will say what everyone else has, at difficult moments, been thinking, admitted Biro. “He’ll say, ‘I like travelling and seeing new places, but I wish we could pull a trailer with our house on it, so I could have my toys!’ ”
Sharing a limited living space can be challenging, said Rosene, who’s learned to always make an effort to resolve problems that arise, because changes of scenery do not automatically make things better.
After witnessing the wide gap between the rich and poor in Mexico, Biro concluded privileged Canadians have no reason to complain. “Any discontent we feel is a choice for us, whereas for them it’s real.”
Despite this dire inequity, most Mexican people have been “lovely” and welcoming, added Rosene.
She added, “Sorry Mom!” the family has no plans to return to Red Deer, except to visit friends and relations. There’s so much Western Hemisphere left to see.
Rosene, Biro and their kids eventually plan to wind through Central and South America to Argentina.
Anyone can follow the Yoga Nomad Family on social media, including posted Instagram photos and a travel blog.