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No more 20+ hour bus rides!

13 Nov

WOW. It was one interesting and very LONG journey, but we are finally back in Lima, Peru. The 2500 Km journey up the Pacific coast was painful, but we managed. We took a 4 hour flight that had 2 stops all the way up to Arica, in Northern Chile. I’ve never been on a plane that landed and took off three times before – let alone in just 4 hours, so that was an experience.

Once we got into Arica, we took a shuttle to our hostel and slept for 8 hours, ate breakfast and caught another taxi to the international bus station. When we got out of the taxi, there were a bunch of men asking us if we wanted to go to Tacna. It’s really common to take a shared taxi with strangers across the border, so we got the best price and Stef and I squeezed into a car with 3 other people plus the driver. Not particularly comfortable, but it only took 1.5 hours to drive to Tacna and the border crossing went smoother than if we were in a bus. 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

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

13 days before South America

19 Aug

I am one day past the two week mark. I am becoming more excited, but nervousness keeps creeping in. It’s not like I am completely new to this whole travel thing (as I’m sure you can tell), but every destination is different – every situation is novel. So, I guess I’ll have to embrace this feeling with an open heart and get a move on things.

I am trying to upload my Europe photos to Flickr, but for some reason, it doesn’t want to play nice and keeps shutting down my iPhoto. If there is anyone who can help out, it would be MUCH appreciated!

Stefanie has been in Toronto all week and we’ve been going over possible itineraries for our backpacking stint in South America. It took some blood, sweat and tears – well, maybe not tears but DEFINITELY sweat (from no A/C) and blood (due to a bike accident) to get a super duper awesome destination list going. I’m sure you’re all excited to read it! This isn’t in order, but is listed by country to make things a little bit easier. I linked some fun photos as well.

PERU
Lima / Miraflores,
Cuzco & Sacred Valley
Arequipa
Puno & Lake Titicaca
La Huacachina
BOLIVIA
La Paz
Rurrenabaque (Amazon Basin)
Sucre
Potosi (Highest city in the world)
Uyuni (salt flats)
CHILE
San Pedro de Atacama (driest desert in the world)
Santiago
Arica
ARGENTINA
Salta
Puerto Iguazu
Buenos Aires
Bariloche

I’m also thinking about traveling through Patagonia in Argentina to see some marine life, but I’m not entirely sure where to go between Buenos Aires and Santiago. I have about two weeks to get from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Lima, Peru, so there is room to take some interesting side trips and wander. I’ll be updating a few more times before leaving – so stay tuned!!!

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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