Jeanne and Ray highly recommend South America as a destination. We enjoyed a wide variety of experiences and found out what a variable land the continent of South America is. South America is a big continent. We found it easy to get around on the local buses, but we took planes occasionally to conquer the longer distances.
We arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina in mid-November 2002 and visited six countries before returning to Ottawa, Canada in mid-March 2003. As has been the case in the past few years, it was impossible to "do it all" in one trip of four months. There are still more places to visit in the countries we did visit and even more countries to visit in South America. We hiked in every country including Torres Del Paine in Chile and the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu in Peru. We had a great jeep trip through the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Wildlife refuges were a highlight. We saw whales, seals and penguins in Argentina, lots of iguanas, turtles and birds in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and all kinds of llamas in every country. And of course, the wildflowers were in bloom everywhere.
We found the people friendly and always patient with our novice Spanish attempts. Jeanne took some Spanish lessons before she left. Her very limited Spanish was put to good use but it would be nice to be able to carry on a conversation with a local without getting lost after the first few phrases. If we do make another trip to a Spanish speaking country, we would like to stay in some picturesque town for a few weeks and take more Spanish lessons.
Because South America is so big and the climates so varied, we could not time every visit to coincide with the best local weather. We got to Patagonia, our most southerly destination, when the sun was bright and warm, but we reached the mountains of Bolivia and Peru in time for the rainy season. We were lucky we had as many sunny days as we did.
Our backpacks and limited clothing served us well. That is also good when you have to carry everything yourself. We wore every article of clothing we brought and did not need to purchase any extras. Our small wardrobe of quick dry clothes was put to the test many times and survived to be included in another trip. We got used to seeing each other in the same outfits, day after day. It makes clothing selection infinitely easier. One landlady, when returning our newly laundered clothes, declared that we had a very practical wardrobe, a "no frills" collection!
The emails Jeanne sent home from the various Internet cafes describing their experiences in South America have been included on this website. There are nine Episodes for the trip and a selection of photos for each.
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