South America - Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Uruguay - September 21st 2011 - January 23rd 2012
So this is it…4 months and 2 days, 629 litres of beer, 1 potential bastard child (t-minus 6 months until d-day), and still no criminal convictions…but now it is time to leave South America!!! Over this time via bus, plane, boat, car, jandals…and so on…I have travelled an approximate total of 30,361km (excluding flights to and from South America) across 7 countries!!…For those of you who were also in Mr Humphrey’s geography class that’s like driving the width of Australia just over 7 times…or driving the length of New Zealand 19 times!!
The final blog entry…can’t wait for a break as it’s been, at times, testing (eg in Bolivia with dial up speed Internet)…and although my entries got less in effort as time went by I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed writing this, and I’m glad I did as its main purpose is to be like a journal. This was one of the best periods of my life and I want to remember it all!!!
So how do I surmise such a trip…I’m thinking through headers, bullet points, and rankings…
My favorite people:
We were so lucky to meet the people we did on our travels, it really is the people not just the places that make these journey’s!!!
The people that we picked up along the way and traveled with us included…
Zoe the “Welshy” - Such a fun positive chick AND such great banter (the amount of times she called me and Mike ‘Gaylord bastards’ is a true phenomenon - like John Travolta’s movie but with more purpose really)…I’ve also never met a girl so into rugby as her and with that much passion!! She traveled with us for around a month (or maybe just under) starting in Puerto Madryn in Argentina.
Dave the Englishman - All around good guy, if I’m as chilled and nice as this guy when I’m 40 (sorry Dave) I’d be lucky!! He put up with us and all the shenanigans which comes with that for one entire month from Bolivia to Peru!
Dan and Dave the Irish…silly silly fuckers but in a good way (mostly :) ). If something happens to someone then it’s going to be Dave…I mean anything between almost dying on the trip twice, once by a mule nudging him off a cliff, the other a bike accident and yet another cliff…to his fin sinking to the bottom of the ocean when we were diving…it’s always him…and it’s always entertaining but more so when he re-tells the story…amazing talent and even though the facts often slightly change every time I hear them I never grow tired of the story. We met these guys in Rurrenabaque in the Bolivian Amazon, and I travelled with them on and off from then on - mainly through Ecuador and Columbia though.
Stu and Cassie - Manchester’s finest - One of the coolest and most fun couples I have met, a true comedic husband and wife duo and genuinely great people (already seen them twice in London and only been here a week)!! We met them as I was signing up participants for the Pucon rafting trip in Chile.
Then there are people like Aussie Nic, ‘Dangling’, Tom the pom, Mike the American, Tom, Kat, Alejandro, Dan and Matt, Jacob and Tom…all great peeps who helped make the trip!!
Good people and good times!!
My ‘weirdest’ people:
The weirdest is easily the drugged out guy in the Loki Hostel in La Paz, Bolivia. We saw this dude dipping a barbie head in his glass of red wine then straining wine into his mouth from the barbies hair…all whilst conspicuously clutching a large file of seemingly important/confidential papers!! Mike got up for a piss at 4am where this crazy fucker was next spotted shaving his hair with a razor blade….the next morning he appeared at 9am looking like Antony Ronnie Dixon - both in terms of haircut and demeanor - by 10am all his hair was gone…too much cocaine and other stuff for this guy - a true victim of La Paz combined with an unstable and/or weak personality - Walker MD.
A special mention for ‘Johnno’ the Aussie from Galapagos who has been traveling for 5 years - 5 years too long. He has huge dreads which he has tied a blue ball point pen inside…WOW!!
My biggest lessons:
I learned a few things on this trip (as you do) whether its cultural, life lessons, or useless skills you pick things up…I learned:
- I learned to dive
- I learned Irish slang - “your man”,” your one”, “grand”, “ra head,” “coppers”, “animal”, “savage”, “jacks”, “that’s a good crack”…etc
- Very basic Spanish, enough to get by (just), and I only wish I learned more
- To always carry toilet paper with you
- Taxi drivers driving skills in South America are as good as a 12 yr old’s in NZ, they have no concept of direction, and they can barely even close a boot properly!!
- South America has its own time - things get done when they get done
- Don’t trust the lonely planet South America edition
My best experience:
I did some epic stuff, people fly to South America specifically for the Galapagos islands, the lost city trek, the Amazon, the glacier in El Calafate, the Nazca lines, Iguazu falls, the Colca canyon…but for me…
The Royal Inca Trail was the highlight among highlights…I keep saying I don’t even like hiking BUT I connected with this trek like a finger touching a sea anemone…the set up, the people, the weather, the sights, and of course Macchu Picchu…I mean I must of loved it I got a bloody colourful tattoo on my calf which I’m sure I’ll regret in a couple years (or months)!!
My best party:
Close again, in fact in reality I was always in too good a form to separate and rank this one…so here are the best of the best:
- My night in Bariloche was fun and a child got displaced from his bed to make way for natural Shakira love in the purest sense…PLUS I didn’t get home until lunchtime the next day, which means it must of been good.
- Mancora - the biggest blowout, my face paint, my lack of memory, my terrible hangover…
- The pub crawl in Buenos Aires where even Hilary was on such a level she spewed on her shoes, then I got sick for 10 days afterwards.
- My birthday in Tayrona, making friends with non English speaking locals and having my Bolivian football shirt stolen…
- Huacachina…once again making friends with everyone and making promises that couldn’t be kept.
Too much partying - BUT all good stuff and unsurpassable in terms of quality!
My biggest hangover:
Close…very close…but Huacachina was huge and I was paralyzed till 5pm the next day and still scatterbrained!! Three heavy days drinking in Mendoza comes close…same with my last night in Mancora - that’s for sure…photos surfaced with me caked in face paint rolling around on the ground- WHAT THE FUCK - I was told It was supposed to be Maori in style but I looked like a gay pride clown!!
My best story (that I heard):
In South East Asia it was Terry’s story about the down syndrome child in the duffel bag…this trip was obviously one of your man Dave’s, the “eagle in distress ” is a close second BUT his best…
Your man Dave was on his way out of Thailand and he picked up a couple of novelty lighters for friends - one a realistic mock gun, the other a dildo…a dildo with hairy balls which vibrated AND once pressed shoots out a flame…upon exit from Thailand the gun lighter was confiscated - too real it would seem…but a realistic vibrating cock lighter was fine.
Upon arrival in Dubai (a heavy Muslim state) for his layover on his way home the scanners took a special interest in this novelty dildo. In fact on the x-ray machine it was seen being zoomed in on and examined very closely - but this wasn’t enough to cure curiosity and they proceeded to take your man aside and search his bag. Before you knew it the customs officers found this realistic looking cock lighter and in shock dropped it to the ground. Before you knew it, it sprung to life vibrating and shooting flames circling itself like a headless chicken…within a flash the customs officers had guns out and pointing at Dave the ‘dildo terrorist’ who threathened to currupt their Muslim morals. If it wasn’t for a more ‘westernized’ lady working in customs your man would have been in prison.
After a lot of laughter and the lady (‘your one’) calming the situation, he was told he could not repack the item BUT that it would be sent to Heathrow directly and he could collect it there. Fast forward to your man’s arrival at Heathrow - up to the luggage counter he went. “Hi there, I’m here to collect a package for Dave Roach” he said quite confidently - after some fiddling and foraging she pulled out a small box which in large black font read “Dave Roach - Dildo”…with a smile on his face your man accepted it gracefully but not before his friend caught the service desks attention fluttering his lashes and posing in a homosexual manner only fueling the awkwardness which shrouded the air.
Well done Dave - you tell a fucking great story mate!!!
My best meal:
Finally an easy one…600 grams of prime Argentinean steak (Bife Chorizo) in Mendoza…followed by a vomit which tasted almost as good on the way up. It was not only spectacular but so well cooked and so delicious I’m still having meat sweets to this day!!!
My favourite country:
It’s so very close as I have such fondness of Peru and Bolivia, as well as Argentina in many ways. However, I must say Columbia was my favorite. Similar to Vietnam on my trip of South East Asia, this place has so much going on and most importantly even the ‘average’ places in Columbia were good. Consistency is the key to life…slanger 2005 (c).
My top three places:
- Taganga, Columbia - on the surface it was such a shit hole, but it has such a rugged sense of charm and more importantly SO MUCH going on, plus being on the Caribbean coast is pretty advantageous as well.
- Pucon and Bariloche (lakes district) Chile/Argentina - So scenic that there was a postcard shot everywhere you looked - a true mega pixel fantasy. It was just such a beautiful place surrounded by the Andes and spectacular lakes…awesome!!
- Galapagos Islands, Ecuador- How could I go past this cluster fuck…literally a zoo with crazy animals and no cages and no boundaries. The scenery, the daily mind blowing experiences, and the ‘holiday within a holiday’ that was the 8 day boat cruise through the archipelago will never be forgotten!
- Not making it to Brazil - Too expensive, not enough time, and no Visa….its going to be a whole trip in itself I think.
- Not paragliding - too drunk in Mendoza, too apathetic pretty everywhere else, and too expensive in Cordoba…one of the last mainstream ‘extreme experiences’ left to try!
- Not learning more Spanish
- Not finding, seducing, then stimulating Shakira…the missing numbers which completes the binary code!
My best mates:
It was so good to travel with Mike and Hilary, pretty much my oldest mates - friends that I have had since kindergarten. Travelling with people and being in each others space 24/7 has its challenges but honestly looking back, with these two it was not only pretty smooth BUT it was such a fun and amazing experience.
I think back to the day we struggled but made it out to the glacier at El Calafate, our hairstyles fucked from a night of carnage with a trimmer…our bags flying out the back of a taxi in Mendoza…then I fast forward to the first day of the Inca trail, us three at the front leading the way, chewing coca leaves, and really just living the dream - then Hilary and I covered in fecal matter in Ecuador and laughing until urine trickled from our urethra’s…(tears in my eyes) memories ill take to my ashes…ashes that will be scattered in the billabong up in the Dandenong ranges…
I guess I just feel lucky, lucky that at 26 I’ve seen so many amazing things, world wonders in some cases. I have experienced so many different cultures, eaten their food, drunk their drinks, tried to touch their woman…and there is just so much more in the scheme of things and that excites me like my next quest to find baby spice - the childhood dream!!
That will about do i think…if you have read this far then I feel sorry for you, and you deserve this feeling that your experiencing right now…its a harsh reality when one realizes they have too much time on their hands isn’t it!
Overall a great trip, and I am stoked to have been able to have done this, to meet such great people, to strengthen such great friendships, to see such great places (great great great)!! London is next, then launch into Europe via baby spice’s bald taco, then followed by who knows what - that’s life, and as Mike the American (FUCK YEAH) says “in this economy - lets do the dam thing”!
Its been a pleasure….walker.com