Well it’s been 22 months since I left my office job in the UK to discover the mysteries of South America – Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. The original plan was 5 months traveling and volunteering in South America, then back to Australia, and back to uni to complete my masters… oh how that plan changed. Once you get the travel bug, that’s it, there’s no stopping there.
I remember sitting at Heathrow airport, tears pouring down my face, as I waited for my plane to Buenos Aires. Sad, scared, excited!! So many people had told me how crazy I was to embark on such an adventure by myself… and though the thought of pure freedom and independence excited me, thoughts at the back of my mind, wondered if they were right.
I loved South America! The good and the bad are all memories I can laugh about now. My best mate, Faye joined me for the first few weeks. We travelled together through Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolovia, where sadly she left me at the airport in La Paz.
The same day I met up with another mate, Robyn. A day after I met up with Robyn I got extremely sick; the shits, vomiting, dehydration, hallucinating… put it this way, I was very lucky to have Robyn there to look after me (thank you Robyn for saving my life that week). After about a week of thinking I was going to die, I started to feel slightly better, and we decided it was time to go our separate ways… so like a normal, sane person who has just recovered from sickness, I decided to head to Cusco to hike to Machu Picchu. From then onwards, it was just me and the locals and fellow travelers I met along the way.
So I don’t start rambling and reminiscing over my time in South America, I’ll just include a brief summary; Peru – hiking canyons, busing across the country, learning to surf and crossing dodgy borders (drunk); Ecuador – climbing volcanos with crampons and pick-axes, snorkeling, sailing and swimming with sharks in the Galapagos, jumping off bridges, flying across canopies and waterfalls… and more dodgy border crossings (this time with a hangover); Colombia – salsa, hammocks, beaches, nightlife, muddy hikes, amazing people, good times, Amazon adventures and another dodgy border crossing, (this time on a local boat down the Amazon river – me being the only foreigner and English speaker)… then it was a quick race back through Peru to Chile – relaxing, catching up with people, more relaxing, eating, drinking and more eating! Obviously it’s not all fun and games, and there were times where I really missed home, friends and family… getting ripped off, sick and lost, takes it’s toll… as does living on a very tight budget.
At times I do miss my old office job, the normality and stability of it, but I have no regrets. Leaving was the best decision I ever made – though admittedly the thoughts of being, old, unemployed and poor, does occasionally cross my mind, however why fear the unknown, and what may or may not happen. My ‘wise’ brother once said to me, “Who is more crazy? The people that grab the opportunity to do things now, when they can? Or those that wait, for the ‘right time’ to come, the time that may never come?” (Ok, so it was something along those lines, my brother does tend to ramble on a bit). Though, it’s true, there will always be excuses and reasons to put off what you want to do… the only way to really achieve your dreams, is to ‘go-against-the-grain’ and act now (obviously this refers to more than just travel), and though this may seem like total madness to some, I stand by my brother’s words – who is really the mad one?
After South America I returned to my hometown Perth, Australia. I was restless, and uni was no longer a priority. I had a taste of the world of travel, and like a drug, I craved more. I was home for 3 months, living with my parents, working at my old uni job and catching up with friends. It was good, but it wasn’t enough. Before long the next trip was planned, flights were booked, and I was off on the next adventure, the US of A. This time I had a travel buddy, Michael.
I have now been traveling with Michael for 12 months. We started the trip as ‘just friends’, but it wasn’t long before that changed. Though our relationship is far from normal, I consider myself very lucky to have found a partner that is just as ‘crazy’ as me and it’s really great to have someone to share the good, the bad and the ugly with (I know that my Dad is particular happy I am no longer traveling through ‘dangerous’ countries solo).
South America will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the first solo adventure I embarked on; pure freedom, independence and adventure. I met so many amazing people and experienced and seen amazing things (many of wish you cannot do as a couple). Anyone that says they cannot travel because they have no one to travel with – that is no excuse! Go! Do it! It will be the best experience of your life!
- So, 22 months on I sit in the French Alps, with my boyfriend Michael, planning our next adventure together. The craziness continues… with a cycle trip from here to China. Bring it on!