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Settled in the homeland – for now!

3 Dec

I thought I would write a little something after settling into my temporary home here in Toronto. It’s weird to think I’ve already been in Canada for  3 weeks now. Time flies… When I look back, I can’t even believe I was in South America. It feels like a strange dream – as if it never even happened and I’m transplanted back to my regular life. Funny how that works.

The last few weeks, I have been living at Kyle’s apartment in Toronto, working at Gap (barf!) and applying for graduate school. Throw in a bunch of doggie walks, coffee dates and family visits and I’ve been one busy gal. Continue reading

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Ciao Argentina, Hello again Chile!

10 Nov

Mendoza, Argentina Vineyard

I haven’t realized how long it’s been since posting. In the last week, Stefanie and I have taken one 18 hour bus ride, drank too much red wine, took another 7 hour bus ride, crossed the border into Chile, explored Santiago, met up with some friends from Peru and booked a flight to Northern Chile. I’ll start from the beginning… Continue reading

Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Hiking – oh my!

3 Nov

Kayaking in Bariloche

I love Bariloche, Argentina! It is so beautiful! So, I mentioned in the last post that we booked a kayak and horseback riding tour – the verdict? AMAZING! The guide picked us up at the hostel and brought us to a cute log cabin on the lake where we enjoyed a second breakfast.

Kayaking was first on the roster. We had double kayaks and they gave us a brief lesson – I was really excited because the water was crystal clear and sparkling. We had to wear the neoprene skirt over the kayak because the water was freezing. It felt like the kayak and I were bonded together. Stefanie got stuck in the back and I was up in front. She had to maneuver the little rudder which I was thankful for because I wouldn’t have been able to paddle AND steer. We managed pretty well. Our paddling was in rhythm and we were going pretty fast at some points but then we had to take a break. It was exhausting! Kayaking  works out your arms, shoulders and back. I am still sore and this was two days ago! Despite being a little reluctant, I was so happy I decided to try it. Continue reading

Patagonia – the furthest south I’ve been!

1 Nov

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Happy Halloween to my fellow Canadians! I was a whale-watcher for Halloween *wink!

We just spent several days in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. It’s the furthest south we’ve managed to travel and is considered the beginning of Patagonia, the southernmost region in South America. The town is situated in between Peninsula Valdes (a protected national reserve) and Punta Tombo (the second largest penguin colony in the world!). How cute! It makes for a great base to explore both areas. Continue reading

Buenos Aires – the Paris/Big Apple of South America!

30 Oct

Biking riding in Buenos Aires

B.A. – B.A. – B.A.! What a fun city!

We arrived in Buenos Aires on a Saturday, which was perfect considering we wanted to enjoy some of the nightlife. We met our English friend Adam at the hostel and decided to spend the afternoon in the parks of Palermo – an upscale neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.

There were so many people jogging, strolling and rollerblading throughout the park. Surprisingly, there were so many people ‘trick’ rollerblading. The stunts were so entertaining to watch. Jumping, one legged, backwards, twists, etc. So cool! We were watching for a bit while we ate delicious street sausages called Chorizos. For dessert, I bought the biggest cotton candy stick EVER! It was practically the size of my upper body. I have picture proof. Continue reading

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

22 Oct

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Hola from Iguazu Falls. Yesterday, Stef and I spent the entire day in Iguazu National Park and it was incredible! We arrived at the park before 9am and paid the 85 pesos entrance fee. Locals in the area are allowed to enter the park free of charge. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like that in Canada? Continue reading

Salar de Uyuni, Atacama Desert and Euro-Style.

20 Oct

I am finally HEALTHY!

It was awful being sick for 3 days, especially since I was scheduled for a 3 day Salt Flat tour, but everything turned out great. We met Sebastian, a 26 year old German physicist in Potosi, Bolivia and have been traveling for over a week before separating two days ago. The three of us went on the Salar de Uyuni tour, which boasted some amazing landscapes. There was a large group, so we had to go in two different jeeps. Stef, Sebastian and I ended up in a jeep with 4 sick Koreans and the other jeep had three Belgians and two drunk Aussies.

Our first day involved driving across the Salar, which is approximately 12000 square KM. Bolivian workers make 1bs. (less than 20 cents) per each salt pile they scrape… and these salt piles are quite large. They aim for 50 piles a day. It’s outrageous. Very few people in Canada would ever do that kind of manual labour. Continue reading

The Countdown Begins

5 Aug

I’ve let this blog sit for a while now, but it’s time to rev her back up again. In just 3 1/2 weeks, Stefanie and I are jet setting (once again!) to a faraway destination. As you may have read from my previous blogs, we will be taking 20 hour bus rides, spying on alpacas, canoeing the Amazon River, sipping wine in Chile, eating steaks in Argentina and hiking pristine landscapes in South America all in 10 1/2 weeks. At least, that’s the plan and there is definitely more to it than that – which is the very challenge I’m dealing with as of late.

You think after a few gos, one would coast through planning their next backpacking trip. Well, not for me. I find it so much more difficult! Maybe it’s the type of trip I’m dealing with or maybe it’s the length of time I have – either way, planning my South America adventure has been more stressful than fun. The continent is massive. Look on a map. Now, take the distance from Windsor to Toronto (3 1/2 hours?) and compare that very distance between two cities in Peru. The only difference is that in Peru, it will take you 3X as long to drive. The roads are awful and there are lakes, mountains, desert and everything in between. The distances are so vast. From what I have figured out so far, I’ll be taking a few flights. I don’t know how many 23hr bus rides I can handle, especially if they are anything like the ones in Costa Rica!

When planning, I like to hash out ideas with people – get a second opinion, you know? With Stefanie on a road trip to the east coast of Canada, it’s hard to ask for her input. Thankfully, Stefanie is visiting Toronto for a week after her road trip. I hope we can get some things organized – at least a general route and a rough itinerary. The rest I can figure out on the road/in the plane.

I’ll update on how the planning goes. This week, my main concern is paying our volunteering fees (room and board, administration, etc.). I’ve decided to stay with a family one week and the volunteer house another. I’m super excited to try this out, but insanely nervous. I have ZERO experience teaching English, unless you count helping my little brother read. I need to think of some fun activities. Stefanie and I both agreed that we want to teach little kids! Mostly because we feel they won’t judge us. HA! Any suggestions of fun children’s games will be much appreciated!

The South American countdown begins folks. 27 days!!!

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