All good things, even indefinite things, come to an end. A combination of eventual work obligations and the inability to advance any further overland (Venezuela changed their visa policies for US citizens since we began our trip, a la Bolivia, thus hindering our [re:my] ability to enter the country) effectively brought the South American chapter of our travels to a close. While we did make it to Panama and will do some hoping around Europe & to/for international weddings over the next few months as we continue to abscond from reality and other associated obligations, the departure from the southern continent means our 161-day Patagonia-Bogota adventure has come to a termination point. The Bogota-Cayenne (French Guiana) route remains for a future trip, while much of Brazil is also in play. Nonetheless for the time being, I can stop pretending to speak Spanish.
The entire trip has been amazing, but top ten highlights would include:
- Failing at biking in Middle Chile
- Hiking the W loop in Patagonia at the last possible minute before the season ended
- Walking on a glacier during a torrential rain storm in Argentina
- Marveling at the widest(?) waterfalls in the world at Iguazu, on both the Argentine & Brazilian side
- Visiting German Mennonite oases in the Chaco, aka the ‘Green Hell’ (with the bug bites to prove it!)
- Petting a tapir, discovering what a vicuña is, and eating a llama
- Partaking in the requisite photo shoot at Uyuni salt flats
- Not just Machu Picchu, but touring other sites in the Sacred Valley
- Stumbling onto Pisac’s annual Virgen del Carmen festival
- Weeklong, seasick-inducing cruise in the Galapagos to swim with turtles, step over sea lions, and nearly poke iguanas in the eye.
- Not going to an office for 161 days and counting!
In addition, even over the course of 5.5. months, we couldn’t cover it all. A few things that remain to be accomplished:
- Taking a last-minute cruise from Ushuaia to Antarctica
- Searching for chocolate eggs amongst the large heads on Easter Island
- Waddling amongst one of the largest penguin colony in the world at Peninsula Valdes in Argentina (the insolent little creatures had rudely already left for the season by the time we arrived there in late April).
- The Tiwanaku ruins outside La Paz (one day the transport we waited for three hours never showed up, the next was pouring rain)
- Taking the soon-to-be-finished 15-minute cable car to the Incan city of Choquequirao (similar in size to Machu Picchu), rather than the grueling five-day hike we bypassed.
- Hitting up Caral, the oldest town in the Americas at more than 4,000 years (unfortunately we discovered this after we had left the region).
- Visiting the Peruvian pre-Columbian city of Kuélap, potentially also soon to be a cable car ride away, easing the pressure on our legs to continue functioning beyond the age of 35.
- Finishing up the northern part of the continent whenever adequate Venezuelan paperwork can be obtained, taking at least two months to cross from Bogota to Cayenne
All of that is a long way of saying we’ll be back!