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Published: August 15th 2018
The Final Blog
I am now sat at Santiago airport on my way back home to England after 4.5 adventurous and beautiful months travelling South America!
Travelling solo has been the bravest thing I have ever done and still can't quite believe I've done it.
Full of emotion and appreciation: the trip has taught me how to be brave and be independent.
Thank you to those awesome friends (from every corner of the world) who I met along the way.. including the Pampus crew (Khymo, Toon, Emma, Andrew) and all those pals who had the time and patience to help with my Spanish (Gino, Thom, Patrick). Communicating definitely got easier, then harder again when I got to Chile, haha..
And to my 5 couch surfing hosts (Carlos, Victor, Francisco, Edwin, José): gracias por todo! Your trust, generosity, and kindness to a total stranger blows my mind. I learnt the true value of altruism. You made me feel like your home was my home in a country that was so foreign to me and I'm so grateful. Muchas gracias!
There's been ups and downs (like loosing all my camera photos.. thanks Michael for restoring some of
Victor and Me
My couch surfing host was on the same flight.. crazy!
them.. twice! I will learn to back up in the future promise).
I've been sick, injured, food poisoned, cried, biten alive, sunburnt, windburnt, been terrified, had blisters on blisters. But it wouldn't be travelling without the ups and downs!
I've been stuck in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm in Bolivia, climbed an active volcano full of lava, sandboarded head first down golden sand dunes, partied like there was no tomorrow (usually to reggeaton), bought actual dynamite (and sat in a silver mine while they blew it up), seen the most surreal landscapes, explored lost citys and ruins, seen animals I've never seen before, eaten my body weight in empanadas, subwinged in the Caribbean sea (and almost lost my bikini bottoms), trekked countless stunning mountains (carrying my own stuff too!), danced on many, many bars (thanks Sabrina), and developed a terrible addiction to dulce de leche.
Sadly my beautiful Skye dog died in July, so coming home won't quite be the same. 10 years of puppy cuddles and walks. But if there's anything I've learnt it's to focus and treasure all those special moments. Like how we used to go running together but you'd hate running
so I'd have to motivate you and cheer you on the whole way! 😂
Thank you to those who kept up with my experiences.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it 😊
I averaged about £1,000 a month.
Bolivia was by far the cheapest country I visited, Chile was the most expensive.
Things I will miss:
Aji de gallina (Peruvian shredded chicken in a creamy walnut and chili sauce. Comes with rice, a hard boiled egg, and a black olive. I'm obsessed).
Anything with dulce de leche (or manjar if your Chilean).
Limonada de coco (Colombia).
Hot chocolate (Ecuador).
Massive portions (you won't go hungry, portion sizes here are huge. The largest meal of the day is lunch, and sometimes consists of 3 or 4 courses).
South America is very meat and carb heavy.. expect every meal to come with chips and rice (even breakfast). I'm not complaining.
Street Dogs. Dogs rule in South America (sorry, gatos). They run free and wild and all (but very few) look healthy and well-fed (unlike other countries I've visisted). The community helps to look after them and raises money for vet bills. Particularly in Santiago, where dogs often have waterproof coats. I remember speaking to my couch surfing host who beemed with pride that "here, dogs are free!". Surprisingly, there are loads of different breeds running around.
Things I won't miss:
Cooked guinea pigs. In the highlands of Ecuador and Peru, GPs are roasted and served whole. Even with teeth. Before you ask, no I didn't eat one.
Finding communicating frustrating.
No toilet paper in toilets.
Here are some tips if you're heading here:
Always carry toilet paper (there is never any).
Always carry change (nobody ever has any).
The buses here are great, I actually don't have a bad word to say about them. You can buy tickets super easily at the local bus stations. Tip: Download the Red Bus app in Peru, it's amazing. If you're feeling lazy or the bus station is out if town, you can buy e-tickets (for the same price) through the app. You get 10% off the first time. I was like a rep for Red Bus, I should have been paid a sole for every peson I recommended it to. Forget Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop, it's expensive and it's not the real local experience.
BCP. The only bank to use if you're gringo. Worked 100% of the time, and always zero withdrawal fees. Don't use any other bank. BCP forever.
If you are coming to these countries, start learning Spanish. It'll improve your experience. English really is not spoken anywhere! This was the first travel experience where I've had daily difficulties to communicate what I want. Colombian was the easiest to understand, Chile was impossible.
Forget Google Translate, "Span¡sh D!ct" is where it's at. Dictionary, plenty of examples, and conjunctions. Not to mention, it's pretty sassy and has me laughing out loud with it's examples.
I hope this blog has been somewhat helpful if you're planning your trip.
South America will always have a special place in my heart. If you're thinking of travelling here, go go go. Confía en mi (trust me), you won't regret it.
Now it's time for me to catch my 25 hour flight.. hasta pronto, England!
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