A lot can happen over the course of 5 months. Even more so when you are spending the time bussing across 4000km of South America
What a 5 months it has been.
Personal and professionally, the sights seen, experiences had, and immersive cultural experiences on so many levels.
The bucket list got shorter, and than longer. The joy of travel – it makes you realize how much you haven’t seen. But, it also makes me deeply grateful for the opportunities and the life I’ve been presented.
Getting a grasp on a 5 month adventure, categorizing it, ranking it, is unfair to both my failing memory, and ever changing temperament. Though a few memories do stick out.
We spent about 2.5 months in Santiago, and it was the hardest city I’ve had to say goodbye to. There’s nothing iconic about the city, but it has all the right ingredients. It has an immense amount of art and architecture, the very old and steel and glass.
There are surprises at every corner. Colorful street art to get lost in. The perfect ice cream. Expansive fresh produce and fish markets. Fire twirlers and jugglers on every corner. Buildings covered in green. The chaos that is invigorating. Great Korean food. Avocado covered “completos” (hot dogs)…everywhere. Stray dogs… everywhere. The poorest of the poor and richest of the rich.
Santiago deserves it’s own chapter.
Valparaiso (An Unexpected Night)
It started in a hole in the wall Brazilian bar that consisted of a wayward trolley car parked 20 feet away from the dance floor. Without a seat in the house, we were lucky to have Sergio and his (anarchist) friend invite us to join them. It ended with us walking back to a party up the steep sloping streets in Valparaiso, through the “very dangerous” parts of the city, to party in some kind of co-op until the wee hours of the morning. The most dangerous part – copious amounts of alcohol and steep decrepit stairs. It was a perfect way to experience a UNESCO city.
Proposal on the Gardner Pass
The whole of the 9 day hike in Torres del Paine was spectacular. Sunrise with the Torres. Sipping hot chocolate with the Dickson Glacier. Or a box of wine with Grey Glacier. But without a doubt, proposing to Natasha at the top the Gardner Pass, the most difficult day, highest point on the hike, and with sweeping mind-blowing panoramas, will stand as one of the most memorable days of my life.
Oh, and she said yes.
Bathing in the Glacial Lago Capri
After the exhausting 9 day hike in Torres del Paine, we camped out on Lago Capri, a glacier fed lake beneath the surreal peaks of El Chalten. It felt like a really cold version of paradise. After 2-3 days without bathing, with the sun out, I summed up the courage to get into the water long enough to get my head wet. It took a while to warm up…
Making Honey, Bread and Jam
Sometimes I wish I was a farmer. The 10 days we spent farming, learning how to make honey and bread (on a campfire!) within the span of a few days, was incredibly satisfying. At the farms in El Hoyo and Lago Puelo, I also learnt about lavender farming, jam and syrup making, and how to go so far off the grid, you forget there is one.
Too bad I lost my memory card with all those 10 days.
Seeing My Baby
I got to see the little guy 3 times while in South America, each time was the ticking of clock, “wake up Joey, this guy is going to need you”. And each time all the other stress in the world became mundane.
Flight of the Condors
No, just seeing the condors wouldn’t have been that incredible. On this trip I had the pleasure of seeing a large variety of animals, especially birds. It was the trip getting there, winding through the incredible Inca country in Peru, canyons of 3000+ meters, hitting altitudes of 4900 meters, and around every bend a view that surreal landscapes. The condors were the climax. And that they were flying over the Colca Canyons, the 2nd deepest in the world, made it that much more epic.
The sensory experience of the Pisac market was incredible. People dressed in traditional garb. Fruits and vegetables I’d never seen or tasted. Everything bright and colourful. Very rarely have sites left me speechless. This place did it to me.
I never had this on my must see list. I don’t know why. Perhaps the tourist trail? Either way, going to Peru and not to Machu Picchu seemed to be a travesty. The process of getting there, from driving through what must be similar to the Death Road, to waking up at 4:30 to get there for sunrise- it was magical. Mostly though it was the setting, high up in the jungle, the mist, the theatre.
Camping in Tanaka
After the tourist trail (they call it the “Gringo Trail”) we took a little detour, setting up our tent on a beautiful stretch of beach – outside a village (a generous naming), where we did absolutely nothing for a couple nights. We ate at the same restaurant, the same fried fish with a pile of rice and fries. Played soccer and learnt english with the cook’s boy. It was a refreshing break to not be treated as a tourist.
What else to say?