South America! Backpackers, locals, friends, this one is for you.
“Where do I start?” This was the rhetorical question I posted on my Facebook status after a 9 month first-trip out in SE Asia and India. For me, that still is up there, but South America all together has been a different remarkable and exhilarating phenomenon.
Unlike South East Asia for its socially euphoric vibe, South America is much more of a difficult continent to take on and accomplish. It has generally, a more mature crowd, a more active and adventurous bunch, whom have more specific reasons to visit the continent.
From hikers to divers, beach bums to party maniacs, it seems to be more transparent of each kind of individual and their purpose, and this in itself is a learning curve to relish.
As a solo traveller especially, you will meet hundreds of backpackers in the same basket as you, venturing into the unknown and putting themselves out there.
Despite SE Asia being the place where ‘everyone seems to get on’, South America the maturity flows to which people are more reserved and self independent. You will find more have done their research or learnt Spanish or Portuguese specifically for their trip. You will find more have backpacked before. And you will find some who have now the experience to not indulge in every conversation or opportunity possible, but for only themselves and their reasons.
But for the people I have met, there has been many of course. We get on with some more than others, naturally. That is one of the beauties of South America, isn’t all plain sailing.
From the moment I had landed from the west corner of the earth to the east corner of the earth from Australia to Brazil back in June, the people were there. From meeting Marco on my first night and having a beer in the middle of a Favela environs, to meeting up with a good pal from home, Cookie, for the World Cup, to reuniting with ex-travel buddies from Asia, to more adventurous bunches of people in Ecuador, to the laughs in Peru, to an Colombia Birthday, to an Argentinian Christmas, the people have been there, with me, to share these times.
From Brazil to Guyana to Venezuela to Colombia to Ecuador to Peru to Bolivia to Argentina to Uruguay to Paraguay, the journey has been real. I’ve scuba dived in the Galapagos, visited Angel Falls, been to the World Cup in Brazil, Off the beaten track in Guyana, smashed jungle treks in Colombia, road Death Road in Bolivia, visited ancient UNESCO sites in Paraguay, bummed out at the beach in Uruguay, watched Boca v River in Argentina, been amazed at Machu Pichu in Peru.
Walked, hiked, ran, jumped, climbed, hitchhiked, swam, dived, slid, struggled, fell across this continent. I’ve been up in the airs Paragliding to swimming with Sharks at 20metres under the ocean. I’ve flew on 35+ flights included 11 chartered ones above insane world class jungle and mountains. I’ve explored Favelas and slums in Brazil. Rappelled in Eco Reserves in Paraguay. Ate steak in Argentina. Fished for Piranhas in the Amazon. Witness the Nasca Lines in Peru. Strolled through historic Cartagena, Colombia. Sizzled on Los Roques in Venezuela. Sat next to mammoth waterfalls in Guyana. It’s the experiences that count.
For the people who have been on them many long bus journeys with me, them chilled out beach times, them hikes in the jungle, them ocean adventures, them city walkers, them party’s that never stopped, them world phenomenon’s – You’ve been my shoulder and I have been yours. You have been the light as have I. We have been the life together.
From having some Asia reunions with Steve, hitting the beaches in Colombia to partying in Loki in Mancora. To flying up to meet Leighton to do the Lost City Trek in Colombia was awesome. An epic Ecuadorian reunion with Nico in Ecuador was insane! To celebrate Brazil scoring a goal on Copacabana Beach with Swirv was epic! To reuniting with Elton a fellow Wolf Pack Member in Buenos Aires! Bruno De Luca in Rio!! To Kyle in Peru for Machu Pichu. To Andy Edey in Lapa streets!!
To meeting Sam Matthews through mutual friends in Brazil and seeing him throughout my journey. To meeting the awesome Mariana and her amazing spirit in Brazil twice. To hanging with Colin, Steve and Bailey for my birthday in Cartagena, a good old English-Irish contingent. To meeting Jimmy, Ben and Dave and travelling with them on and off, and in the Galapagos! To Max and Leo, legends of guys from Oz. To the most genuine Alex in Quito. To smiley Caleb in Portal Del Sur, BA! To Lawrence and Lena, the funniest times travelling for 2 weeks and an awesome team! To meeting Paola in Peru and seeing her again. To Lena Ruch in Bolivia, to the whole Loki crew especially Steve, Josh, Heather, Connie, Eddie, Nathan, Emma, Jenny and Madison, to Montanita with Jade, Dave, Anders, and Mick! To Otta the Italian! To Bails and Jake! To Josh from Florida and his epic bike trip! To Ronnie the biter in BA! To Julia and Nacho in Punta Del Este F & F Hostel! To Albert, Laurens and Alicia on our PADI certs! To Marianna on Los Roques! To Wayne, Ruel and Jerries crew in Georgetown! To Maria and Chris for Angel Falls! To Dougie at Banana’s! To Moses and Felipe at Books!!To Josh, Stu and the rest of the Yanks for the World Cup! To great mate from home Cookie for the World Cup! To Pablo in Diamantina National Park! To Chris Lewis in Brazil! I could go on and on…
Too many to name them all. But to good times have been many!
Again, the place and people have opened eyes furthermore, taking it to the next level of travelling. The people you want in your life for future reunions, and people well are just passing by. We are all on our own journey, and we pick and choose, obviously or discreetly who we want to be part of that. I do at least. I’m sure we all know we can’t or won’t meet up with everyone again, but for the people we do, well as the travel saying says ‘ See you soon’ Or in more appropriate terms of language, Hasta Luego Mi Amigos’
An amazing trip in so many different ways. However I’m glad to be moving on this time, and ready for the realities that this world provides and that are ever closer luring me into. For the people, well we will love and reunite once more, because not to forget in that time, in that moment, on that beach, in that rainforest, in that bar, on that bus – as one or together, we will never be there again.
Cheers to you, and thanks for being part of my trip. I’ll see you again somewhere, for now backpacking is having a break, but nowhere near done. Infact, just getting started. All roads now lead to Africa..