Conclusion of our Latin American journey
10.01.2008 9 °C
Here we go, back in London and guess what? It is raining...
After 11 months on the road, we both agree that we have spent enough time out there for now and that it is time to get back to normal life and live out of a wardrobe again, instead of a rucksack...
We know that, for some of our friends who followed this closely, this blog was like a virtual holiday and its end will inevitably leave a little bit of a gap but.. hey, we have run out of money!!Well, we hope that the blog has been informative as well as entertaining for all of those who have come across it. For us, it has been a great way to keep all our friends and family informed of our whereabouts as well as providing us with a written record of our amazing trip for years to come. A right pain to write up at times, but well worth the effort, especially in a few years when memory will start to fade... it has already started!!!!!
We do realise that we have been very priviledged to do this, and also very lucky once we were on the road – we have never had any real problems, never any losses or theft, never any real illnesses along the way - life has been really good to us! Yes, we would do this all again, yes it was the right thing to do and we are very happy we have done it. Of course, not all of our objectives were met, but many were. The two of us had many in common and others not quite, though generally we converged on the most important ones. That of travelling and see the Latin American continent was well met – we covered a lot of miles and saw most of the highlights in every country, even though at times time was tight and not enough for really getting to see it all. We both got to learn and practice Spanish, though of course it is not perfect for neither of us and we would like to do more. We got to spend more time together, in fact almost too much time, and this has meant many things. We certainly have come to know each other much better, good and bad sides. We have had a couple of major crisis along the way, but it seems that we have been able to overcome them, since we have decided to get married!! No timeframe yet, but we are hoping to have a nice wedding party at some point in the future. We got to meet A LOT of nice and interesting people, travellers and locals, however the friends we will keep contact with will be only a bunch - in effect, we did not really stay anywhere long enough to build endless life-long friendships... but a few we have! We have met extremely few horrible ones. Gregory has played a major role in meeting the people, both because of his nature but also because somehow he worked like a magnet out there, with people naturally being attracted to him and approaching him to start a conversation. There are not a lot of black people in Latin America, even less with strange hair and even in Colombia they could tell he was not a local... So, exactly like back home, he was doing all the chatting and entertaining and I was getting the stuff done, like organising the route and the details.
We did not practice any salsa at all, in fact we went dancing TWICE (!!) in the whole year!! We will have to leave this one for another holiday, or even home.
Out of interest, here are some STATS:
Length of travel: 11 months
Number of Countries visited: 20, of which 5 crossed only
Number of flights: 6
Number of boat rides: 20 or so
Number of buses taken: over 100
Costs per day per person:
Costa Rica $61
Rio de Janeiro at Carnival $85
Exodus trip $98 !!!!
Galapagos $360 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
These costs include absolutely everything on a comfortable backpackers budget – we almost always had private rooms with bathroom, almost never cooked and we have always taken the maximum number of excursions available in any area, moving around pretty quickly, which always adds costs. Surprisingly, Exodus turned out to be one of the most expensive parts of our holiday, particularly if we think that we had to get up at ridiculous times most of the time and we had to shop and cook and clean the truck while planting and sleeping in tents at night!!!! With regards to Galapagos, we ended up choosing one of the most expensive cruises there – it can be done a little cheaper, not much - but we enjoyed it.
Best Countries: really cannot say!!
Best Cities: Rio, Buenos Aires, Cartagena, Mexico City, Panama City
Best Activities and Experiences:
-Fitz Roy National Park trek
-Jeep tour from Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia
-animal-spotting in Costa Rica
Best Hostals (not in order of preference):
Hostal Sonchek – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Casa Viena – Cartagena, Colombia
Auberge Inn – Quito, Ecuador
Turistas del Mundo, Cuenca Ecuador
Emville Guesthouse – Barbados
Llanganuco Lodge – Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Sleepers Sleep Cheaper – Monteverde, Costa Rica
Hostal Bambu – Canoa, Ecuador
Oasis – Granada, Nicaragua
El Hostal – Antigua, Guatemala
Beef, king crab and wine in Argentina
Quinoa soups in Bolivia
Ceviche, fish and aji’ in Peru
Patacones in Ecuador
Zapote milkshake in Colombia
Pepperpot in Guyana
Lobster omelette in Belize
Chicken fajitas, tacos and spicy sauce in Mexico
Worst experience: having Kim Booth as trip leader on the Exodus truck
Worst food: cuy (guinea pig) in Ecuador
La Casona in Caraz, Peru
Nuestro Hotel, Caracas
Tower Bridge Hostel, Puerto Escondido Mexico
Any regrets? Not really. Possibly, if we had the chance to do it again, we would not book two months on a overland tour – far too tiring and expensive. In Belize, we would not take a Raggmuffin tour down to Placencia, but rather day snorkelling trips. We also would not pay loads of money to spend New Year’s in Puerto Escondido, in fact we would not go there at all!! Other than that, we had a bloody great time and things went really smoothly.
Finally, we would like to thank first of all Mark, Gregory’s boss, for letting him take a year out, which has meant that we felt much more comfortable with doing this before we actually booked it, and during the journey itself, knowing that we were coming back to some sort of routine and income.
We would also like to thank Sarah and Matt for renting our house and keeping Grace with them the whole time without locking her in the shed, like they probably felt like doing at times... Having the house and cat in good hands has also contributed to our general peace of mind while we were out there.
Our very last picture..
Back home with our parcels...