...not an easy thing to do....but here goes
Well, I havent gone next, nigh, or near my TP blog during the last 6 months in South America, but today I find myself with some time on my hands as I wait for my impressively slow computer to download some music.
It´s coming to the end of my time here, I am sad to say. In about 6 weeks time, I am flying from Rio de Janeiro to Auckland, NZ to start a new chapter in the great journey. By then, I will have been here for 7 months, and those months have absolutely flown by! During that time, there have been mostly ups with a few episodes of bad luck, some fleeting periods of homesickness, and a BAD OLE DOSE of Typhoid to contend with, but I wouldn´t trade any of it "for the world". Boom boom.
January saw me arriving me in Peru, nervous and excited, having no clue what lay ahead of me. It is impossible to encapsulate in a few sentences what this country meant to me. Peru has gotten under my skin, and I feel that I will never be satisfied until I go back there. The Peruvians I met led me to look inwardly and examine many aspects of my own life, and since then I have been on a continual learning curve. My time in the Peruvian Andes will always be with me. This part of Peru is an ancient, mystical place, and you dont quite feel that you are on the same planet. (No, I didnt take any drugs!)
After two months in Peru (almost 3 of those weeks being spent in bed, smote down by Salmonella typhi, otherwise known as TYPHOID ) I ventured tentatively into Bolivia. If pushed to pick a favourite country from the continent, I think Bolivia may have to be it. Bolivia was an eye-opener about the kind of poverty and injustice that exists in the world, and fear coupled with excitement and wonder led to feelings of being really alive in this place.
Chile ended up being my home for almost 3 months, and I really fell in love with this country that has it all (from the desert of the Atacaman north to the serene lake district and the dramatic peaks of Patagonia). Patagonia and Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) were the absolute highlights of my time in Chile, and in visiting these I managed to realise some lifelong dreams. At the same time, my lowest times on this trip have happened to be in Chile. I have been robbed in an internet cafe (losing all my photos of Patagonia ) mugged twice in the same night by the same guy! (long story ) and had my MP3 player (with over 2000 songs) lifted from my lap while I slept on a bus (oh wait..that was in Argentina...hee hee). So, how did I end up spending so long in Chile? Not sure really...I think I hit it at a time when there was a great bunch of people around and stayed longer than planned. That resulted in my making some Chilean friends whom I grew quite fond of, which led to me getting a job teaching English. Also, I was surprised to find that I actually liked Santiago, having not expected to at first.
During the months spent in Chile, I crossed into Argentina a few times and, on one such trip, travelled all the way to Ushuaia in the south of the country. Now, I find myself back in this crazy country on my way to Brazil. However, it wasnt an easy crossing this time around! My friend, Ringo, on the bus to Mendoza realised that he didnt have his tourist visa slip. Of course, without this, one cannot leave Chile! And so, we had to bribe the Chilean border officials! I ended up being an accomplice as Ringo hadnt a word of Spanish! The Argentinians are great, very friendly and completely laid back. Nothing seems to get them in a twist, except...of coure....FOOTBALL!!! Right now, the country is in th grip of world cup fever and everyone is behaving slightly nuts, but ít´s good to be part of it, even if Ireland aren´t in it.
South America has been my biggest challenge yet, and it has been fantastic in so many ways. Im sure that when I leave I will pine for it for quite a while. But, its onwards to NZ, and in many ways it will be a relief to get to an English-speaking country once again and relax again. 7 months of constantly wathcing your own back does get tiring, and I´m looking forward to a new continent and some new experiences!