Published: August 7th 2007April 4th 2007
Arriving at LAX
Weary after 24 hours of travel, 4 flights & an 8 hour overnight layover in the Miami airport. Trusty Lonely Planet book looking worse for wear too! But I made it. My mom was CERTAIN I would die in SA!
Well, here we are, wrapping up almost 10 months of the most amazing trip of my life. Thanks so much for sharing it with me & for coming along on all my adventures. I am so sad to be at the end of this wonderful journey, but thankful for the experiences. Here's a tally of it all, and a final parting note at the end.
Tallyin' It Up Months On the Road
- 10 Countries visited
- 10 Number of Food Poisonings
- 2 Number of long haul (2 hours or more) buses
- 52 Overnight buses taken
- 14 Longest bus ride
- 31 hours in Brazil Worst bus experience
- 18 hours on a broken down, smelly bus in the middle of a polluted beach in Peru Favorite Country
- ECUADOR, for its unimaginable beauty and lovely people. Runner Up- URUGUAY Hostel Cat i most wanted to run away with
- Suzie the Siameze in Manuas, Brazil Least Favorite Country
-PERU. Thumbs WAY down for its polluted beaches, fake money, constant harrassing by street vendors & lying tour companies. Runner up-BRAZIL Hands Down Best Experience
- Amazoonico- volunteering in the remote Amazon without electricity, accessible only by
boat, living in community and working face to face with exotic rainforest animals. Trip Highlights
-Hangliding in Rio
-Ziplining through the jungle in Bariloche
-Swimming with dolphins and sea lions- Florida Keys and Galapagos
-Sandboarding/buggying in Huancayo, Peru
-Riding on the roof of a train through Ecuador- Nariz del Diablo
-Rafting down the Rio Napo
-Dancing with the locals -Lake Titicaca, Peru
-Holding baby monkeys in Bolivia
-Visiting the Moreno Glacier
-Celebrating New Year's Eve in Ushuia, End of the World
-Taking a Capoiera class in Salvador Animals Encountered
- Monkeys (Wooley, Howler, Spider, Tamarin, Cappuchin, Squirrel), Capybaras, Aguotis, Pacas, Peccarines, Toucans, Parrots, Boa constricter, Grey Winged Trumpeters, Goats, Dogs, Cats, Pumas, Ocelots, Jaguarundi, Penguins, Iguanas, Sea Lions, Crabs, Blue Footed Boobies, Pink Flamingos, Dolphins Favorite Places
- Ecuadorian Amazon, Ecuadorian cloud forest around Baeza Places I Could Live
1. Ecadorian Amazon, 2. Santiago, Chile , 3. Montevideo, Uruguay Coolest Money
- Brazilian Reais Friendliest Fellow Travelers
1. Australians, 2. English Most Obnoxious
- Groups of Israelis City I felt most likely to be mugged in
- Salvador, Brazil Country a vegetarian could most easily starve to death in
1. BRAZIL 2. AREGENTINA Saddest sights
Oops i did it again
Hammock with a view of the pool. Sweet. I spent many a hour here!
with their legs tied together, sheep riding on bus roofs, litter strewn EVERYWHERE in this continent Favorite Hostels
- Sammy's Place- Santiago, Chile, The Magic Roundabout- Baeza, Ecuador Worst Hostel Experience
- Bamboo Rio Hostel, Rio Things I Missed the Most
- Starbucks, Baths, Hot showers without shoes, My favorite restaurants, Sleeping in quiet rooms, My son Things I Missed Least
- Driving, STUFF, cell phones, bills, traffic, JOB, junk mail, coworkers, cleaning house Best Thing About Traveling
- FREEDOM! Being able to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it and not having anyone else dictate your time Most Invaluable things I carried with me
- Security pouch worn around around the calf, pocket sized calculator, dictionary and date book, a watch with current and local time at home, iPod and earplugs to drown out noisy hostel roommates or snoring bus passengers, battery re-charger Things I Am Most Looking Forward To
- My favorite restaurants, including Mexican food!
and a Mocha Frapp Things I Am Dreading Most about Going Home
Going through all my accumulated mail
Wrapping It Up
Well, my trip has come full circle, back to Ecuador, my favorite country,
Old Town Quito
so it's a nice place to wrap things up. While I didn't initially like Quito, this time it felt so familiar to me, like my 2nd home in SA. So relaxing and refreshing to be in a familiar place with the most wonderful people!!! I rediscovered the colonial beauty of old town and the delicious food at the Secret Garden. yummm....
After some medical checkups, I promptly found the most amazing hostal outside of Quito. This place was more like a retreat, with lush gardens surrounded with chirping birds, a pool, warm temps, delicious food made to order, and yes, my favorite- hammocks. I think the hammocks must have been made with velcro, because I could NOT pry myself out for days!! It was such a great relaxation before I hit the ground running back in the States.
For my last excursion, I headed back to Cuenca for another reunion with my Spanish teacher and the family I had stayed with when I studied there. Cuenca felt like home to me. They all welcomed me like I was family, all excited to hear my travels and catch up. I went out one night with Janet, my Spanish teacher,
Old Town Quito
2 friends and her daughter, and I felt more of a sense of belonging than in 6 years of living in LA! The next day one of the ladies greeted me on the street with a hug and a kiss. Janet tried to talk me into staying in Cuenca, telling me that the local University was looking for English teachers. It was definitely tempting because I knew, "Wow, I would have girlfriends here". (Girlfriends...... she says wistfully.... wouldn't that be nice!).
Janet's daugter, Alexandra needs surgery on her nose to correct a collapsed passageway, and I decided I wanted to try to help. Janet is a amazing lady, putting her daughter through college for orthodontics on her own because her husband cheated on her and is not paying any of their joint bills since she divorced him. Salaries in Eucador are only a couple hundred a month, and so it's a real stetch for her to pay the tuition. $2000 surgeries are out of the question for her. I would love to help her and plan to do some fundraising here to collect some money for her. She's one of those people who are always bubbling and smiling, never
My family that i stayed with while studying spanish- Mariana and her daughter Rosio. Best people on the planet!!! Mom told me, when you are in Cuenca, This is your home!
complaining, and always making the best of any situation she's given. If anyone would like to contribute to her cause, please email me! I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!!
I spent my final day in Cuenca with my family, visiting my mom's kids and grandkids and sitting down to a home cooked meal. Fantastic! So a very positive note to end the trip on. It's so strange to think that all my conversations will now be in English, and so very sad to leave South America, espcially Ecuador. Can't even believe this trip is coming to a close. It has been wonderful, and I have been so very well taken care of! Thanks to all those who kept up with me through the blog and left me comments. Special thanks to Kirk, who handled my life back home in my absence and took care of my son, Peanut, and also to Debi, who kept my car safe. See you all soon! This is Firefly, signing off. (sniff)...
There are more photos below