Four months, six countries, 12 flights, and countless trains, boats and buses later, our trip is over. Sad face. But hey, now I get to share my best bits! If you’ve been following my adventure to this wonderful part of the world (if not grab a brew and start from the beginning) you will have seen the journey I’ve been on. I’m not going to lie to you it was epic. Here are my top 10 highlights (man it was HARD whittling them down):
The one where I stepped out of my comfort zone: I was zipped into some heavy duty hiking gear, crampons and handed a sodding ice pick. It was at this moment that I knew I had made a huge mistake. But there was no backing out, we had six hours to climb this (still active) glacier covered volcano in Chile before a possible avalanche could happen. Yep. Who said this was a good idea?! I seriously had to put mind over matter convincing myself that every step was a step closer to it being over.
I did it. Eventually. Looking back now at that girl teetering on the edge of a mountain dressed like an auditionee for a Bear Grylls programme with a stupidly happy/relieved grin on her face I still can’t believe that girl was me.
The one where my mind was blown: Machu Picchu there are no words. Wow. Just wow. If you get the chance you MUST experience this.
The one where I was humbled: Having an education is a luxury that many take for granted. I didn’t realise how lucky I was to have gone to my primary school, until I volunteered in Cusco. Chickens and dogs roamed around the rubble strewn ‘playground’, colourful paintings were stuck on crumbling walls and the toilet was a hole in the ground. But from the hundreds of cuddles and smiles the children gave us, none of this mattered. They just wanted attention, fun and love.
The one where I learnt patience: When you backpack you know things are going to go wrong but you don’t expect them to happen all in one day! My stress levels were exploding at the border crossing from Peru to Bolivia and then realising we couldn’t get to La Paz for another day, due to angry farmers causing road blocks actually whipping drivers trying to get past. Whipping! We didn’t need much persuading to stay a night to avoid the route which turned out to be a fab unplanned night.
The one where I felt like I was on another planet: Eerie nothingness all around. Bolivia is full of enormous colourful lakes, rocky dusty mountains and the most remote hostel I have ever slept in. Despite being freezing I forced myself outside to just take a moment and stare in awe at the stars above. Incredible. I just wish my camera had been good enough to share that with you!
The one where it didn’t feel real: Picture the scene: we had just landed, dropped our bags at the hostel, changed into shorts and a vest top slightly cringing at our pale bodies and wandered down the famous black and white waved pavement heading to Copacabana beach in Rio. Sitting there with a caipirinha, hearing the waves, watching enthusiastic surfers under the rocky mountains and knowing this is just the first day of our trip, our journey, our adventure, was just the most exciting feeling.
The one where I was disappointed: I gave a whole post to how meh Ushuaia made me feel so I won’t moan again. No-one likes a Negative Nelly, but I have learnt that underestimating things rather than building places up in your head is the best way to be to avoid disappointment.
The one where we got festive (our way): I will never forget playing like big kids in the rooftop swimming pool, wearing matching Santa hats and big cheesy grins before tucking into steak the size of a human head for our Christmas dinner. The festive season doesn’t have to mean Brussel sprouts and stress.
The one where I was the luckiest girl in the world: Sweating, huffing and puffing we hiked our way up Sugar Loaf mountain in flip flops as a spur of the moment decision after a lazy beach day. But boy it was worth it. Especially when the sun set behind Christ the Redeemer I had this shiver of happiness that I would probably never get to see this again. I knew I had to savour every second, taking mental photos not wanting this moment to end. So magical.
The one where it was over too quickly: A cheeky unexpected delight was Uruguay. It is so simple and fun to get the ferry over from Buenos Aires to Colonio Del Sacramento. We only managed to spend a day there but I wish we had spent longer. I NEED to return, purely just to cruise around in one of those golf buggies!!