Thursday, June 02, 2011

South American Reflections

Now that I have left South America it is time for a little recap. I started with Ben in Santiago Chile and we arrived and got to our awesome host, Jordan's house. He was an English teacher from New York and he was really cool he helped us with Spanish (because at the time we knew zero Spanish) and he took us on a food tour of Santiago which was great. We really had a good time there the only hiccup I had was thinking that everyone would speak English in South America because boy was I wrong! I had some issues the very first day with the language barrier but, once I started learning Spanish I got it all sorted thank God.

From there we went to the coast of Chile to a city called Valparaiso and had some great seafood and a great time. Not much to tell there we just had a great host Peter and met some great people and really enjoyed it. We left for the Chilean/Bolivian border from Valpo. Once we got there we left from San Pedro Chile (a city I really liked but took us 26 hours on the bus to get there!) into Bolivia for our salt flat tour.

After I paid my 140 USD for my friggin entry visa fee i got to go into Bolivia and take our salt desert tour with Ben (he was 140 USD richer than me at that point) :(  I had a really good time with our guide and our group on the tour even though I actually enjoyed the lead up to the actual salt desert more than the salt desert itself. Although we did get some pretty amazing pictures there. We also stayed in La Paz the highest capital city on the planet and I had a lot of trouble breathing there! it was like being on the top of a mountain all the time!!

Next we went from Bolivia into Peru and spent some time in Lima and Cusco with some great couch surfers. In Lima we saw a laser light/water park show that would blow anything Vegas has out of the water (no pun intended) they had big water fountains on timers set to shoot up to music and not only that but they had laser lights timed to go with this as well it was totally amazing! It only cost us 1.50 USD to get in and we loved it. There was even a water "maze" we got to play in and all the locals were laughing at us white guys getting wet haha.

Cusco was my favourite city in all of Peru, the history and architecture all the Spanish influence and it was just a really awesome place! We stayed there before we decided to go to  Machu Picchu. That in and of itself really is a world wonder! It is so hard to get up there and expensive and our tour was not amazing due to some of the shitty things that happened but after all the walking and hiking and effort it was totally worth the money to go up there and see that amazing city on top of a mountain and I have the passport stamp to prove it :) The only other place we went in Peru was Lake Titicaca. It was beautiful and amazing and huge there. Sure the town we stayed in was a total tourist trap but just being there was great. I saw one of my top ten best sunsets ever there I wish all of you could have seen it overlooking everything wow!

Ben and I flew from Lima to Buenos Aires Argentina where I again had to pay 140 USD just like in Bolivia and Chile only because I am American. As a German Ben doesn't get charged a penny but, our country does it to them so they charge us right back. I hate our travel policies! Anyway B.A. was a lot of fun and we had great times with couch surfers (they have one of the most active couch surfing groups in the world) and we met some amazing people there. We took a tango lesson and had a great time that is until I got my wallet stolen :( it was also kind of expensive in Buenos Aires by South American standards but other than that bump in the road everything else was great there and we did manage to see an amazing drumming performance there!Also, in Argentina they had very very strange door keys. Big golden keys like they were from the 1800's or something and they were square!

Ben and I split up after Argentina and I decided to go to Bogotá Colombia since I didn't get the visa to go to Brazil (only to the airport there where I met Jessica in the terminal) so it was a lucky stopover for me hehe. Once I landed in Bogotá I went straight to my CS hosts house and he ended up being a really nice guy but at first I bought into all the media reports and I was really scared of Colombia which is ironic because it ended up being my favourite country in all of South America and not a single bad thing happened to me at all! If anything, people were extra nice to me and I would totally recommend that Americans (or anyone) travel there!

I traveled in and around Bogotá I saw a church in an underground mine made out of salt. I saw an amazing view of the whole city of 8 million people and I saw a bunch of cool cities around Bogotá.  I met some amazing couch surfers who helped me with tons and tons of stuff and were some of the nicest people I have ever met including my second host Marcela who was amazing to me! I had great food for super cheap and got to see this beautiful country and for sure I will be coming back to see more of that amazing country since I only saw just a bit of what it has to offer and not to mention that is where I want to learn proper Spanish in Colombia. I loved it there!!

My only regret is that I ran out of money so I had to come home earlier than I planned (even though I made it a surprise and my family didn't know) I wish I had more time for South/Central America (like Ben does) and while I did learn A LOT of Spanish (considering I started with basically zero Spanish) I still want to go back to Colombia and learn proper Spanish and take some classes and maybe even teach English there.

Until next time yall,Tyler

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