It’s our last day in South America. Just eight months ago in February we started our RTW/long term traveling adventure.
I remember sitting in the Miami airport lounge at around nine at night. We were still in the US but people all around us were speaking Spanish. Everyone spoke Spanish on the plane too.
It was a strange feeling. We had talked about and prepared for that moment for two years. We sold our home where I had my own room, to a way smaller apartment where I had to share a room with my brother.
We sold a lot of our belongings. I chose not to buy clothes except for the ones that I knew I would take to travel with (that was kind of hard for me!). I worked extra hard, finishing school a year early and building my business at the same time.
There were times when it seemed like it was some crazy idea at 17 years old to be preparing to travel to South America for so many months with my mom, dad and brother, but now I’m sitting at the lounge of the JW Marriott in Quito after 8 months, reflecting and have no regrets. I believe I am a different person and have a different outlook on life (another post to come about that).
After having traveled to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, here are five things I’ll miss in South America (in no particular order):
1. Fresh Food And Food In General
In almost every country we went to, there were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in markets and the supermarkets. Also, every country has bakeries with freshly baked bread.
Fruits were the best in Ecuador. Since Ecuador is a main exporter of bananas and plantains, we had them almost everyday. Also I had the best tasting pineapple, my favorite fruit, in Cuenca Ecuador where the inside is white instead of yellow in color.
Ecuador also has the best fruit juices which I’ll miss. When you visit, you must try jugo de mora, or blackberry juice.
As for the food in general, we had empanadas in almost every country. Each country has their own variation. For example, in Bolivia it’s called a saltena.
I’ll also miss Argentinian and Uruguayan beef. The best I had was in the Four Seasons Buenos Aires.
Mostly on Sundays, in Ecuador, there are markets where vendors sell vegetables, fruits, meat and other random household items. It was fun to go to them instead of going to the supermarket.
Not only are there markets selling food, but my favorite market was the San Telmo market in Buenos Aires where they sell antique items and handmade things. Another notable market is the Otavalo market in Ecuador. Though I should add that it wasn’t very special because we traveled through Bolivia and Peru before Ecuador and both the countries have similar goods that can be found in the Otavalo market.
The first country we visited was Chile. I was so excited to finally be able to use my Spanish in the ‘real world’. Unfortunately for me, Chileans speak soooo fast and shorten their words a little. I asked some people around South America during our RTW and they all said they couldn’t understand Chilean Spanish either.
Other than that experience, I had fun putting my Uruguayan/Argentinian Spanish in practice and now being able to differentiate the different accents for each Spanish speaking country.
We learned lots of expressions and new vocabulary through traveling. We even picked up a little Portuguese. Você fala português?
Sometimes it was frustrating to ask for directions, buy something at a store or just talking with a local. But at other times it was a valuable experience to be able to practice in an environment where everyone speaks Spanish.
4. The Weather, Landscape And Must Visit Places
This is kind of generalized and could just be the time we were here. Growing up in Florida most of my life, we’d be wearing shorts even on Christmas. So coming to South America during their winter was a nice temperature change.
Another thing we don’t get in Florida are mountains. I enjoyed seeing the mountains from the apartments and hotels that we stayed at.
And of course we visited lots of the “touristy, you must visit” places. Patagonia, wine country in Mendoza, Christ the Redeemer, Salar de Uyuni, Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, the equator and many more.
5. The Way of Life
It really depends on which city you are in, but for the most part, I had this overall impression that people in South America are relaxed.
Not only this but life seems very simple. Most people don’t have a ton of things. The majority of people, from what I’ve seen, don’t use a clothes dryer and it is very rare to find a dishwasher.
In every city I’ve been to, you can see people’s clothes drying outside of their houses or apartments. Mostly in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador I’ve seen people wash their clothes with their hands in rivers.
Generally, the people are also very helpful.
Of course, there are more things that I’ll miss in South America. These are just a few.
Traveling doesn’t end here. We are going back to Florida for a few days. Then heading out again. More exciting travels to come next year 🙂
Thank you for following along on this incredible journey!