It is hard to believe that our 4 month adventure in South America is fast coming to an end. We have covered a lot of ground and yet when you look on the map, it looks like we have barely made a dent. The world is immense.
As with all endings, or rather transitions, it is a good time to reflect. Not only is South America geographically and socially diverse, it is positively beautiful. A huge swath of the continent is covered by the Amazon rain forest . The formidable Andes range extends from the north to the south of the continent, and is dotted with volcanoes all along. The coastlines are varied and stunning. The islands of Galapagos and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are pivotal in giving us an understanding of evolution and ancient human cultures. The people who call this continent home are just as diverse and intriguing. With all it's virtues, it is difficult not to be thoroughly enthralled .... we certainly have been.
Here are some musings, insights, tidbits about our time in Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile:
-empanadas are ubiquitous but all slightly different in each country
-the diet is heavy on meat and carbs
-the fruit and juice stands in Colombia are amazing
-driving can be a little crazy, not uncommon to pass on blind corners, Colombia being the worst of the 3 countries
-the car horn is used not so much as a signal of being ticked off but rather to alert others of your presence
-toilet paper does NOT get flushed
-you have to pay to use public toilets especially in Colombia and Ecuador
-amazing fruit and vegetable markets throughout
-most local restaurants serve a set lunch meal of good value usually including a soup, main, and drink
-short and long distance buses are a common way to travel, the majority of people do not own a car especially in Colombia and Ecuador
-the days start later in Chile, everything is set back by 2-3hours.... for example lunch starts at 2pm
-don't drive in Valparaiso, it makes San Francisco look flat!
-there are a lot of stray dogs
-Colombia and Ecuador are great places to learn Spanish.... Chile, not so much! They speak waaaayy too fast and with a difficult accent.
-remember sun screen when at the equator
Favourite memories - too many to list but here are a few:
-surfing, paragliding, white water rafting
-the anaconda, squirrel monkey, macaw were especially cool in the Amazon
-eating bandeja paisa (meat, meat, meat!) in Colombia
-snorkeling in the Galapagos
-finding good pho in Santiago
-playing with kelp whips on the beach in Chile
-stick boat races in Vilcabamba!
-Parque de la Madre in Cuenca (round swing set and zip line)
-playing with all the cute cats along the way
-fresh fruit stands in Colombia, especially mangoes
-all the animals of the Amazon and Galapagos
-paragliding even though I was scared to go at first
-collecting necklaces of different stones
-sitting with a local woman on a bus ride in Colombia who spoke to me the entire way and not understanding a thing she said. I shared some candy with her and she bought me some cheese at the next rest stop.
-seeing a swimming iguana in the Galapagos and an anaconda in the Amazon
-floating in a salty sinkhole where I didn't sink!
-coconut lime smoothies in Medellin...sooo good!
-ALL the amazing hiking
-paragliding in Colombia (still scared of heights!)
-being surprised by seeing wild ostriches in Atacama
-snorkeling in Galapagos (hammerhead sharks!!)
-the banana bread in Cuenca
Everyone loved the graffiti art in Bogota and Valparaiso!
-having to do math
-bad knee scrape in the Amazon - thank goodness I wasn't attacked by piranhas even though I swam in the lake where they lived
-feeling car sick on bus rides
-doing the hike at Valle de Muerte in the desert. I was hot and tired and all I wanted to do was read. I took out my frustration on a big rock .... but I couldn't do much damage at all.
-stepping in sea lion and dog poop
-swim suit rashes in the groin
-face plant in the giant dunes in Atacama
-the stifling heat and humidity of the Amazon
-the cold in the Andes
-trying to mail something home in Ecuador - nightmare!
-intestine soup in Quito
-hassle of being the entire IT department for our family as we travel (computers, cameras, phones....ugh!!)
-the washed out road to the Llulu Llama Hostel
-driving the Chevy Spark to the Amazon and back
-realizing that high altitude makes me feel sick
We are currently enjoying a quick stopover in São Paulo, Brazil to visit our friends Rodrigo and Josiane before we leave the continent. John and Rodrigo first met 27 years ago! How nice it was to reconnect over great food and drink. Thank you for your amazing hospitality! The boys will miss you.
Adiós a Sudamérica, gracias por todos los recuerdos! Hasta luego.