Week 28 – Lima, Peru, and saying goodbye to South America

Week 28 – Lima, Peru, and saying goodbye to South America

15th May 2018 1 By rachel

Hey everybody! As well as a very short summary of our final days here, I thought it would be nice to look back on our 6 months away and some of our favourite moments too. We’ve made a lot of awesome memories!

12th May

Today was a travel day. We caught a taxi from our airbnb to the far side of the island. On the way, we spoke to the taxi driver about the things we’d seen on the island. He realised that we hadn’t visited Los Gemelos – two twin craters formed by the collapse of old volcanic magma chambers. As they were on the way he stopped there for five minutes so that we could quickly go to see them. They were quite pretty, and were filled with very lush looking vegetation. It was kind of him to think of it so we didn’t miss out.

Once we reached the other end of the island we got out and caught a water taxi across to the tiny island of Baltra and to the airport. We then had to take another bus to finally get to the airport. It was a journey of many parts! We flew from Baltra to Guayaquil, from there to Quito, and then finally on to Lima. It was funny to be back in Quito airport, where our adventure began. It felt very fitting to have come a full circle like this. It was a super long day of travel though, we didn’t get to our hostel until 11pm, having left our airbnb at 9am!

13th May

After a long lie in to recuperate from yesterday’s travel day, we went back to the restaurant we’d been to in Lima the previous week. It had a gorgeous view over the sea and served amazing food. We took the laptop and lingered there for a couple of hours, blog writing and reading. They sold amazing mint lemonade which I’d been dreaming about ever since we last had it, so it was really good to have some more! After the sun set it was really cool to look back over the view of Lima by night, with all the lights twinkling. Not a very eventful day, but we enjoyed it!

14th May

Today we buckled down to some serious souvenir shopping. Lima has a whole street of souvenir markets, full of colourful clothes, ornaments, blankets, bags and more! I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say we spent around three and a half hours there. Our bags are now pretty much all souvenirs – I’ve abandoned most of my t-shirts as they’ve all got holes in now!

15th May

Today we left South America! We feel sad to be leaving, but also ready to come home. It will be very strange to be able to speak English in all the shops with no problem! We had a final farewell lunch of lomo saltado and maracuya juice – two things we’ll be missing when we get home. We caught a taxi to the airport and then waited around until our flight. I finished off this blog while we were waiting, to meet Ben’s challenge of finishing it before we left the continent!

We had a stopover in Bogotá and then finally boarded our flight back to London. By the time you’re reading this (probably), we’ll be back on English soil!

Looking back

We have had an incredible six months of travelling, and have been so incredibly lucky to see so many amazing sights. We’ve visited 11 countries in 196 days. By my reckoning we’ve been on 23 different flights (if you include connections as separate flights, ie London-Bogota-Ecuador =2), and done around 30 different road transfers by bus or minibus (including 7 night-buses). We’ve slept in 41 different hostels/airbnbs (some of them twice), and had nights at 6 different campsites. We also worked out that I’ve swum or paddled in 25 different places (and kayaked at 2 more). According to google photos we’ve taken just over 10,000 photos!

It’s hard to pick favourite moments, but a few of them have been:

  • Taking part in the ‘Fiestas de Quito’ and trying canelazo
  • Swimming in a waterfall in Mindo, Ecuador
  • Drinking cocktails on the beach on Christmas Eve in Colombia
  • Gorgeous sunsets on the beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
  • The amazing Tabacon thermal hot springs in Costa Rica
  • The ATM caves in Belize
  • Tikal Mayan ruins in Guatemala
  • Seeing the live Mt Fuego volcano in Antigua, Guatemala
  • Going to the Sambadrome during Rio Carnival
  • Seeing the Iguazu Falls
  • Seeing the El Calafate glacier in Argentina
  • Hiking the W trek in Chile
  • Wine tasting in Chile
  • Stargazing in the Atacama desert
  • Seeing the beautiful mirror effect on the Salar de Uyuni
  • Hiking the Inca trail and seeing Machu Picchu
  • Climbing to the top of the dunes in Huacachina
  • Seeing sea lions, marine iguanas and albatrosses in the Galapagos

Everywhere we’ve visited has been amazing, but if we had to pick our absolute favourite places, they’d probably be the Patagonia region of southern Argentina and Chile, and the Sacred Valley region near Cusco in Peru. They were both incredibly beautiful but in different ways. Patagonia had huge glaciers, dramatic mountains and gorgeous sweeping views. The Sacred Valley was lush and green with amazing Incan ruins and snow-capped Andes peaks.

We’ve tried some really tasty food, including a lot of local dishes, and tropical fruits that we don’t get in the UK. Some of our favourites have been:

  • Steak in Argentina
  • Fish tacos in Costa Rica – my sister Bethan recommended a specific taco shop to us, and Ben maintains that this was the best food he ate in the whole six months!
  • Rice and beans with everything in Costa Rica and Belize
  • Empañadas – we found these in almost every country
  • Ceviche – Essentially fish ‘cooked’ in lime juice. Peru claims to be the master of ceviche but we also tried it in Ecuador and Costa Rica.
  • Maracuyas – slightly sour tasting passionfruit
  • Granadillas – a sweet type of passionfruit
  • Guanábana – a fruit that tastes like tropical yoghurt
  • Lomo Saltado – beef, tomato and onion fried in soy sauce and vinegar. It’s so yummy!
  • Cake on the Inca trail – mainly because we were so amazed that the chef could bake and ice a cake in the middle of nowhere!

Our favourite Spanish success moments have been making friends with the owner of our favourite almuerzo place in Quito and successfully holding a conversation with him, and a time when I was speaking to a Japanese lady in a hostel and we both spoke in Spanish as our common language!

Our favourite Spanish fail was when we were trying to describe the lid of a bottle. We couldn’t think of the word and I ended up describing it as “un sombrero por el botella” (a hat for the bottle)…. not one of my finest moments! (Or, as Ben describes it, one of my finest moments!)

My favourite views

Quilotoa Caldera, Ecuador

Sunset over Mannuel Antonio Beach, Costa Rica

Xunantunich Ruins, Belize

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, Argentina

Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, Argentina

Lago Correntoso, Bariloche, Argentina

Mount Fitzroy, El Chaltén, Argentina

Hiking in El Chaltén, Argentina

El Calafate Glacier, Argentina

W trek, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

W trek, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

W trek, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Eduardo Abaroa National Park, Bolivia

Laguna Colorada, Eduardo Abaroa National Park, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Pisac, Sacred Valley, Peru

Inca Trail, Peru

Dead Woman’s Pass, Inca Trail, Peru

Intipata, Inca Trail, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Madre de Dios River, Puerto Maldonado, Amazon, Peru

Huacachina desert oasis, Peru

Wildlife spotting

We’ve seen so much wildlife while we’ve been away, some adorable, some terrifying (I’m looking at you, massive tarantula!). Here are just a few of the animals that we’ve seen.

Flamingo, Capuchin Monkey, Iguana, Toucan, Llama

Hummingbird, Coati, Sea lion, Condor, Red-eyed tree frog

Albatross, Macaws, Giant tortoise, Alpaca, Vicuña

Viscacha, Marine Iguana, Galapagos Crab, Brown Pelican, Tarantula

Dolphin, Ibis, Agouti, Tapir, Hummingbird, Sloth

My favourite photos

Either because they’re funny, they hold a great memory or just because they’re awesome, these are some of my favourite photos from the holiday!

When Ben got attacked by a butterfly in Mindo, Ecuador

When we went swimming in a waterfall in Mindo, Ecuador

When we discovered Iglesia de Compañía de Jesús, Quito

When we couldn’t get enough of coconut lemonade! Cartagena, Colombia

When we had christmas eve cocktails on the beach. Cartagena, Colombia

When we took a selfie with a monkey! Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

When hummingbirds landed on our fingers in Monteverde, Costa Rica

When we climbed up the inside of a Ficus tree in Monteverde, Costa Rica

When we found a bar with swings in the sea – Caye Caulker, Belize

When we woke up to sea the sunrise and ended up stood in the rain in Tikal, Guatemala

When we went Kayaking on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

When we got with the Carnival vibe in Brazil

When people ran around the globe on this amazing Sambadrome float in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When we made it to Refugio Frey in Bariloche, Argentina

When we went for a bike ride in Bariloche, Argentina

When we drank whiskey on the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina

When we played with perspective in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

When we enjoyed the reflections on the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

When we chilled out with the llamas on the Inca Trail, Peru

When we made it to Machu Picchu!

When the clouds finally cleared at Machu PIcchu, Peru

 

I guess there’s not really any more to say! Thank you to everybody who read my blog – you all provided the motivation for me to keep writing, and now that we’re home I’m so pleased to have this diary of all of the memories we’ve made!

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