Wrappin' It Up-Reunions & Trip Tallies

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April 4th 2007
Published: August 7th 2007
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Arriving at LAXArriving at LAXArriving 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 - Sheep
Oops i did it againOops i did it againOops 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)...

Additional photos below
Photos: 40, Displayed: 26



View from the Secret Garden Hostal, Quito. and their yummy food. mmmmmmm....

Alexandra, (Janet's daughter), me, and Janet, my Spanish teacher

Al Fornace, Cuenca. My favorite ice cream / pizza place. yummmm
Trip Highlights / Hangliding-RioTrip Highlights / Hangliding-Rio
Trip Highlights / Hangliding-Rio

I think after Amazoonico, this was my 2nd favorite thing i did on this trip!
Squirrel Monkey & Baby- Inta Wara Yassi, BoliviaSquirrel Monkey & Baby- Inta Wara Yassi, Bolivia
Squirrel Monkey & Baby- Inta Wara Yassi, Bolivia

I think this was my favorite shot of all my photos. Made all the trials at IWY worth it!
Pucon, ChilePucon, Chile
Pucon, Chile

First stop on our Kumuka tour

9th April 2007

I have to admit that after reading this blog and looking at all your recap photos that I'm feeling a little sad, too. This has been a tremendous adventure for all of us here at "home" so for you it has certainly been life-changing and more. Thank you SO much for sharing with us and hopefully your experiences will help make your life happier and more fulfilling in the future. Give Peanut a big hug for us. P.S. I hope you don't have too much mail to go through! :-)
9th April 2007

Welcome Home!
Welcome home, Tanya! Thanks for sharing your travels. It's been so interesting reading about all your adventures, and your pictures have been amazing--makes me want to travel. Someday, maybe? If you end up passing through IL anytime, you'll have to stop in C-U, for a visit. I'd love to see you and introduce you to the fam. :-)Take care.
9th April 2007

wrappin' it up
Tana, I am so happy for you that you were able to follow your dreams and do what most of us never could, and a lot of us never would. You have had an amazing adventure. I have enjoyed your blog very much and will miss it a lot. Welcome home! Let me know when you will be in Columbia visiting Mom and Dad so we can go to lunch.
10th April 2007

Wrappin it up
Hey, I was looking back at your last blog and just noticed your hair and wanted to let you know I love your hair grown out long. Talk to you soon!!!!

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