South America is an absolutely beautiful continent. Between the Andes mountains, the Atacama desert, the salt flats in Bolivia, the dense jungle along the Amazon river and the beautiful white sand beaches decorating the coasts you are sure to find your perfect getaway. I spent the last 6 months traveling from Buenos Aires to Antarctica and all the way to the northern coast of Colombia, and this is what I came to love (and, well, not love).
What I'll miss
1. Diversity: As mentioned above in terms of landscape you can see it all in South America. You can go from freezing to so hot you can barely stand to be outside.
2. Food: the holy grail of traveling, food. From the greatest steaks in Argentina to gnarliest Guinea pig on a spit in Ecuador there's something for everyone. I tried Llama and Alpaca while in Peru and who really knows what I was fed while I stayed in an Amazonian jungle lodge (but it was good!). Mango smoothies, fresh caught Yellow tail in the Galápagos and 2am Salchipapas in Patio Bella Vista all hold a special place in my stomach. Surely chasing the next great meal or scoop of ice cream is enough reason to pack a bag and go somewhere new.
3. $1 rides: Yes, in some places you jump on a bus for an hour or in a taxi across an island and it only costs $1. Rio de Janiero has a good metro system that is cheap and in most places you can rent bikes for next to nothing. The only thing you can get for a dollar in the us is an ice cream cone from McDonald's, and I think even those went up to $1.19.
4. Hitchhiking: you know what's better than a $1 ride? A free ride. In Chile, Argentina and Ecuador it is very common to hitch hike. In fact I met some travelers that have made their way across the continent only by hitchhiking. This is a great way to learn more about local culture and cities and also practice your Spanish. Be aware, if they pick you up, it's likely because they are driving a long distance and want some conversation to pass time. Be prepared!
5. Abundant Organic Fruit and Vegetables: a little harder to come by in Argentina and Chile but the more north you go, the better the goods! There are avocados the size of small footballs, bananas in so many different sizes and flavors and fruits that I had no idea existed, seriously some of them look like they came straight out of avatar.
Things I'm gladly leaving behind
1. Not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet. Every bathroom has a bin next to the toilet full of poo paper. On the other hand it's worse when you're on the Inca trail because there are no toilets, just porcelain holes in the ground with a bucket of water.
2. Long bus rides. In Argentina you can take a 40 hour bus ride and still only cover half of the country. Don't get me wrong the buses are super comfortable (usually), serve food, coffee and even have bathrooms. Even with all that, 18-30 hour bus rides just aren't all that and a bag of potato chips.
3. Solicitation. This happens to me more than anyone I have met traveling. I'm head and shoulders taller than 98% of people and have strawberry blonde hair and a red beard (usually). There is no street, whether it be densely populated or barren, that I am not offered drugs. They might try and sell you a hat or a bracelet, but they see me and it's, "coke, weed?". If I it at an open restaurant by myself I'll get a promoter trying to get me to go to a strip club. I don't know if it's just sheer fascination or I look like a degenerate junkie. I won't miss this special attention, but hell, I'm going to Central America and Mexico next so god only knows it won't stop there.
Looking to visit South America and want some of my favorite destinations? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to share. Already been?What was your favorite or least favorite things? Make sure to check the you tube channel and Facebook page for more photos and videos of the travels!