Final thoughts

Trip Start Feb 22, 2007
Trip End Aug 22, 2007

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now that we're not at some shady internet cafe and instead in the comfort of our new apartment, Steve has given up on any kind of ending to this blog. I'm hoping that we don't have to tell the same stories over and over, so here's a summary of our best and worst in South America.

Place: The amazing Galapagos Islands and finally seeing Machu Picchu after hours of pouring rain
Cultural Experience: Being the only tourists at the Copa America semi-final in Venezuela
Most adventurous: Paragliding (Sara), Canyoning (Steve)
Best beach: Playa Medina in Venezuela... paradise
Best interview: Steve saying live on Argentinian radio that Al Gore invented the Internet
Best sunset: The "fire in the sky" on the Bolivian Salt Flats
Best present: Flying over Rio in a helicopter
Best restaurant meal: El Mirasol in Buenos Aires, Argentina
(huge steaks with great sauces like peppercorn or mushrooms)
Best homecooked meal: Shrimp moqueca by Victor's mom in Maceio, Brazil
Best wine: Ruca Malen Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina
Best beer: Skol from Brazil

Place: Stuck in Guiria, Venezuela after not getting on ferry to Trinidad and Tobago
Food: Steve's beans and fruit juice meal in Ecuador that chipped his tooth and made him sick for a week
Health: See above. Also Steve's big toenails that both died and fell off (gross)
Most embarrassing: Riding up Colca Canyon on a mule (Sara), getting ready to be frisked by Colombian military, only to find out they only pat down men (Sara)
Scariest: Arriving in Puerto La Cruz in Venezuela at 3am, many hours earlier than expected, and waiting until dawn outside the police office at the bus station
Stolen: Realization that someone stole my iPod, realization that someone managed to steal Scott's bag from under his chair at an empty restaurant
Biggest disappointment: Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru... the floating islands were way too touristy
Most uncomfortable: A woman trying to sell us a hike to Machu Picchu starts to openly breastfeed her baby, while still talking to us and trying to look us in the eye. We didn't know where to look.

Food that I'll miss most at home: Bife de chorizo
Runner-ups: Fresh exotic fruit juice, roasted chicken
Food that I love here that I won't miss at home: McDonald's
Popular food at home that you should be able to find here: Peanut butter
Popular food here that you should be able to find at home: Dulce de leche (caramel-like spread, great on desserts, we bought 3 tubs to take home but they were confiscated at the airport by guards who claimed they were "liquids" and therefore banned from our carry-ons)
Food that I want to eat right now: Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese. If in Windsor, Penalty Box's Chicken Delight.
Food that I don't want to eat in the near future: Rice & beans with mystery meat

Common occurences here that I won't miss at home:
- Hostel owner says: "Yes, we have hot water, 24-7"... Sure you do!
- Throwing your toilet paper in the garbage
- Having to carry around your own toilet paper
- Remembering to take the toilet paper from every hostel, since you never know you might or might not have it
- Frequent black-outs in small towns
- Stray dogs all over the place
- People can't understand you if you don't pronounce a word exactly as they do.
Example: At this restaurant, I give the waitress a Canadian pin to give to her daughter.
Me: From Canada.
Her: (blank stare)
Me: Canada.
Her: ??
Me: The country? Canada?
Her: Canad-A! Si!

Things Steve envies about Sara: Ability to fall asleep on command on buses, sense of direction
Things Sara envies about Steve: Ability to repel mosquitoes, instant conversational ability by talking about the country's famous athletes
Most annoying thing about Steve: Moody
Most annoying thing about Sara: Indecisive
Most useful thing in our backpacks: Packing cubes keep Sara organized, small flashlights allowed us to hike up Machu Picchu in the dark
Most useless thing in our backpacks: Travel insurance (thankfully, only needed once for the stolen iPod) But provided peace of mind for our parents
Amount Sara spent on souvenirs/gifts: Hundreds of dollars...
I don't want to add it up right now since I am broke
Amount Steve spent: Considerably less
Numbers of phone calls home: Sara - 4, Steve - 4 (we did email frequently)

Who spent the most time writing: Steve
Who spent the most time editing/layout: Sara
Which of our "readers" posted the most: Jarrett Decker
Honourable mention: Sean Smith

Favourites: Penguins in the Galapagos, Alpacas in Peru, Caymans in Ibera in Argentina
Least favourite: Seen one carpincha, seen them all (I like my carpincha wallet, though)
The most illegal: A man in Cartagena carrying around a sloth, and allows you to take pictures with him
(for money, of course)

We met the most people from.... England
We really liked people from... Belgium and Denmark
Didn't really like the people from... Can't do it. Don't want the hate mail.
People we bumped into the most by fluke: A couple from Belgium that we met at 5 different points in Peru and Bolivia, including the Bolivian jungle

Hottest place: Manaus, Brazil... jump-off point to the Amazon. It was a sweat-dripper.
Coldest place: Night 2 of the Bolivian Salt Flats tour... the coldest that I've been in my entire life. Steve was also freezing, amazing considering that he's from North of 56.
Worst weather: Pouring rain the morning we hiked up Machu Picchu

Every town has: A Plaza Bolivar and a Hostel Familiar
Cheapest hostel: Posada Don Chilo, Rio Caribe, Venezuela - $5 a night, and it wasn't the worst room we've been in
Most expensive hostel: Cartagena, Colombia (Thanks Washington!)
Funniest bar: Barney Gomez Bar in Salta, Argentina
Most interesting town: El Congo, where all the homes are on stilts in the water, in the middle of nowhere
Least interesting town: Ciuidad Bolivar, Venezuela - the town that completely shut down at 5pm, including restaurants
Most security: Crossing from Chile into Argentina. Our bus was searching, our bags removed from the bus, searched with us standing beside them and then searched again by a sniffer dog. Steve took a picture and was reprimanded in Spanish and told to delete the photo

Most frequently heard Spanish band: Mana
Most frequently heard English band: James Blunt (god he sucks)
Sara can't believe: I heard my all-time favourite song - Bryan Adams' Everything I Do - almost every single day, in English OR Spanish

Places that we visited that have since had disasters:
1) Riobamba, Ecuador - 2 tourists died on top of the train
2) Ica, Peru - recent earthquake killed over 400 people
3) Huacachina, Peru - 2 tourists killed in sand dunebuggy accident in August
4) TAM airlines, Brazil - flight from Sao Paolo crashes while landing, worst plane crash in Brazilian history (We flew this airline several times, though didn't go through Sao Paolo)

Country we visited that we'd return to: Colombia (anytime), Brazil (World Cup 2010 for Steve), Argentina (as an adult)
Country we missed that we'd come back for: Chile
Least touristy country, in a good way: Colombia
Least touristy country, in a bad way: Venezuela
If I were a travel agent, I'd send you to: Argentina
If I were to let you in on a secret, I would send you to: San Augustin, Colombia


Thanks to our gracious and friendly hosts in Colombia - Manuel and Laura for putting us up, Rafa for showing us a good party, their mom for her great cooking, Laura for putting up with our spanish, and all of their friends.

Also thanks to Hector in Bogota, it was great to see him in Colombia instead of at Carleton!

Our hosts in Brazil - Victor and Gabriela for showing us the best of Brazil's beaches and seafood, Victor's family for putting us up in their beautiful penthouse and his mom for cooking us some great Brazilian dishes!

We had our best experiences and best food when we were shown the place by locals. You are all always welcome in Canada!

Lastly, thanks to Joyce and Scott for visiting us in Argentina. Especially to Joyce, who allowed my lifestyle to improve with nicer hotels and loads of good food and wine!

I already miss the constant sense of excitement and feeling that if you don't like something, move on. If you like it, stay. It was weird to have all of my possessions out of storage and not have everything I need in one backpack. I guess the plus side is now we are much better dressed! Well, I am, anyway.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, and I promise not to steal your toilet paper.
Thanks for reading,
sara & steve

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Mr. and Mrs. Dominey (Steve and Sara)


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