When I look at the list of the things that I’ll miss, I sort of think it’s predictable. There are great things about traveling, and just about everyone knows what they are. Still, let’s list them:
- Not working – Obvious, right? But there have been moments during this trip where we have actually forgotten that we’re sooooo lucky to not be working right now. It’s a whole year of Saturdays. Sometimes, when I’m being especially industrious with the blog I’ll remember, oh yeah, I used to do a whole lot of sitting in front of a computer. And sometimes during our WorkAway volunteer positions, when I was asked to do something that I really didn’t want to do, I’d remember, oh yeah, I used to do a whole lot of things that I didn’t want to do. Yes, sometimes traveling in South America is hard. And yes, there is plenty to bitch and moan about, but big picture? We’re the luckiest people we know.
- Cheap living – In one year in South America, I spent about what I pay for in rent in Seattle. Think about that one for a minute (and consider that my rent was a steal – much lower than market rate).
- Seeing amazing things – Patagonia, Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, and really, so much more. We’ve seen too many amazing things in a relatively short amount of time. Seriously, I’m convinced we’re burnt out on amazing things. We get to new cities and are told about the great things that we can go do, and we sort of look and each other and sigh. Is it really worth the effort? Will it be better than x or y? So, we’re probably jaded and we’ve probably been in South America for too long, but the amazing things that we have seen? It’s been incredible.
- Meeting great people – There are a lot of backpackers out here that are in their late-20’s, early-30’s. If you stay at the wrong hostel, you might think it’s just a bunch of 18-year old Europeans who want to party 24/7, but at the right place? You meet some great people. We have plans to visit a lot of them. You know, someday when we have enough money for a trip to Australia or France or something. We’ve also met many wonderful South Americans. There were family of friends who invited us into their homes for days. There were complete strangers who gave us their contact information after 5 minutes. There have been countless hostel staff members who turned an under appreciated destination into one we’ll never forget. I am very grateful to all of these people, and I’ll miss those easy connections and all the meals and laughs that we shared.
- Eating and drinking – There are dishes down here that Sheena and I might never stop talking about. Curanto in Chiloé, or encebollado in Ecuador for example. The papas rellenas in Arequipa. The juices! Oh the fresh fruit juices! How I will miss passionfruit and mango and papaya juices! And I’ll remember those achachayrú, uchuvas and granadilla fondly. There are outdoor markets and corner vegetable and fruit stands everywhere down here – like a Pike Place Market seemingly every few blocks.
- Easy South America – South America isn’t always easy, but the things it does well can’t be beaten. Public transportation is excellent in almost every country. Not necessarily the quality, but if you want a bus to some tiny town, chances are there is one leaving in the next 15 minutes. And if you’re looking for something specific, like an older model cell-phone charger, or a new zipper for your jeans, there’s a place for that. It will cost less than you expect and be ready in a few hours (maybe even a few minutes if you have the time to wait). There’s a butcher around the corner, or a cheap, filling set-lunch or dinner nearby.