Farewell Latin America

Machu Picchu, view from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain

Me at Machu Picchu

So there it went. The end of my time in Latin America.

I started at the beginning of December 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I quickly moved to Argentina (for my safety and paranoia reasons) after having spent almost two months in Africa.

Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Argentina was a great country to start off with. It has some amazing cities, wildlife and scenery. I loved Patagonia and had a nice Christmas in Bariloche. Argentina also held some difficult moments, of hearing sad news from back home, spending Christmas without my family and getting tired of travel.

Southern Right Whale (head), Puerto Piramides

Southern Right Whale (head), Puerto Piramides

Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier

Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier

Standing at Cerro Campanario

Standing at Cerro Campanario, Bariloche

Bolivia fixed some of that. It was a varied country with so many different things to see, from the Salt Flats to Pampas Jungle to Lake Titicaca. La Paz gave me an insight into how dangerous a city could feel even if you didn’t see any violence. Bolivia woke me up.

Sunrise at Salar de Uyuni

Sunrise at Salar de Uyuni

Peru came again with it’s ups and downs. Literally with the altitude! It was filled with amazing ruins and plenty of hiking opportunities. I was dealing with the occasional sickness that had started in Bolivia so along with the altitude I wasn’t always feeling 100%. Seeing Machu Picchu and hiking Machu Picchu Mountain was one of my highlights that was utterly incredible. The coast was busy and beaches not quite up my alley.

Condors competing for a perch

Condors competing for a perch, Colca Canyon

Some of the views going up the mountain

Going up Machu Picchu Mountain

 

Then came a month of difficulty. I’d decided after reaching my halfway mark (4 months) to shorten my trip, which surprisingly wasn’t a too difficult decision to make. I wasn’t appreciating the places I was visiting as much as I should have been.

The difficulty came with the sicknesses. In March I discovered the illness I’d been dealing with since Bolivia wasn’t just altitude sickness, it was parasites. After getting over that bout, I started volunteering near the Amazon in Ecuador, and got parasites again, bigger and better than last time.

Toucan Feeding time

Toucan feeding time, volunteering in Ecuador

A Chichico having fun in my hood

A Chichico having fun in my hood

A week later I was in the Galapagos, which was an amazing place to visit with amazing wildlife. Sadly, I got injured by a sea urchin in my foot which made the rest of the trip a bit more difficult. I had an amazing group of people on the cruise that I did and learnt sometimes it’s not about the places you go, but the people you meet.

Sea lion on the pier at San Cristobal

Sea lion on the pier at San Cristobal, Galapagos

Land Iguana, Isabela Island

Land Iguana, Isabela Island

Me in the Galapagos

I’d spend the next month dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t deem a sea urchin spike in your foot as urgent for removal.

On the upside, that month was in Colombia. A country of incredible high mountains and green pastures, gigantic palm trees and fantastic coffee. I saw the two biggest cities of Bogota and Medellin, as well as smaller pretty ones like Guatape. Visited a few hospitals about my foot, but also got plenty of time on the coast in the heat of Cartagena and Santa Marta.

Valle de Cocora, Salento

Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

Colourful houses in Guatape

Colourful houses in Guatape

View over Guatape region from La Piedra del Penol

View over Guatape region from La Piedra del Penol, Colombia

From there I took a sailing boat to Panama and realised that good beaches and water does exist, in the San Blas Islands. Panama was a bit of a flying visit since my visa was only for 72 hours, but it was long enough to see the historical city and the canal.

An island in the San Blas

An island in the San Blas

Onwards to the last country in Latin America: Costa Rica. Sadly over the course of the trip I’d met so many people who didn’t like Costa Rica and complained about how touristy and expensive it was. Both were true, but it was still a beautiful green country filled with palms and wildlife. I met some amazing lovely people while I was there, some of which I hope I’ll manage to keep in touch with, others that sadly I may never see again.

Another iguana/lizard in Manuel Antonio National Park

Racoon in Manuel Antonio National Park

Racoon in Manuel Antonio National Park

Sloth in Manuel Antonio National Park

Sloth in Manuel Antonio National Park

Leaving Latin America was a strange thing. I’d wanted to leave for so long. If I’m honest, I should have just changed my flights to leave from Colombia and skip Central America, but I always would have wondered what Panama and Costa Rica and the San Blas were like. I’d changed my flights before my health went downhill and they were expensive to change, so I wasn’t about to change them again. Meeting so many fantastic people did make the trip easier, it made me forget the things that got me down.

Me on the boat in the Pampas, Bolivia

Me on the boat in the Pampas, Bolivia

I wondered when I left London how I would feel about the end of my trip, if I’d want to keep travelling and be dreading going to New Zealand. The reality couldn’t be further from that.

In the last few weeks in Latin America I was just so excited to get to my last destination of San Francisco/Yosemite and get back a bit of normality. Then it wouldn’t be long until I see my family. I am so excited to see them after over three years of not seeing anyone except my lovely Aunt for Christmas one year. My two nephews will be huge in comparison to the last time I saw them and my sisters and parents will be so lovely to hug again.

So here I leave Latin America, happy I’ve travelled it despite the ups and downs, but happy that I’m heading to the USA and New Zealand very soon to start my fresh new life there.

I Love NZ

My old office artwork by Mandii Pope

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