The Travel Routine
Trip Start Oct 04, 2009
70Trip End Nov 20, 2010
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When you're in a new place, everything requires planning. Hostel, food, transport, activities. The last thing I want to do is spend more money because we don't feel like putting in the energy to plan. I was hoping this trip would allow me to relax more on this, especially when the prices are usually sooo low, but I continue to have this crazy infatuation with prices. It does usually save us money, it just never, ever saves us time. Combine my craziness with the confusing madness of reserving buses and expansive markets and I can spend practically the entire day unrelentlessly bargaining and comparing. I let simple tasks take way too much time to make sure I can be happy with the decision. When I overpaid for a tour in Uyuni, I spent half the time rationalizing that it was worth not having to plan it. So maybe its for the best when I don't feel like asking multiple agencies to check on prices...or am sick of waiting for a taxi that won't rip us off. Time is not money for us, money is more time to travel, so we are trying to stretch our savings out as far as they'll go and navigate things on our own when it's possible. Sometimes I take this to the extreme trying to get the best deal so moving around a little less gives me less of that to do. Even though we don't take them often, it's especially lovely if we book a tour that includes meals and we get to give away the planning reins for a few days. Everything taken care of for us for three whole days. Now that's relaxing.
We've been finding that its just as cheap to eat out or close enough not to bother. I love Latin America for this, as it is well known that I do not love to cook, especially when you have to share the space with 20 other people.
We wouldn't stay at a hostel without a kitchen (or wireless internet) until we got to Bolivia, where none of the hostels had any sort of luxuries like this. It was nice to take a break from cooking anyway as our cooking prowess is limited and you can only have pasta & ham and cheese wraps for so many meals per week. Our key strategy is to find a quality, low budget cafeteria with local rock-bottom prices and eat out for 1-2 meals a day, sometimes sharing a single portion. Now I know cafeterias get a bad rap, especially hospital one’s, but I have always proudly defended them, and they are just regular eateries down here and as usual, wonderful.
This saves money and time from shopping & cooking – you don’t even have to eat the same thing for days! And you don’t have to spend time or money planning meals. Basically, once you find your "it" spot, you eat there everyday for your entire stay. It’s rewarding on a variety of levels: you get to know the employees as people notice when you eat somewhere twice a day, you get to feel really comfortable as you gain expert menu status and "favorites", and you get delicious local fare that you know isn’t overpriced. Food that I paid a good price for tastes extra delicious in my mouth. Downsides are definitely getting sick, which is why quality is critical. But you don't need presciptions for medicine so you can feel empowered to heal yourself. Just choose places with lots of locals inside and set menus so they only have to know how to make a few things well, like rice and chicken. Do not be alarmed when you find a chicken foot in your soup.
It’s funny for me, that I left Boston, craving change, only to crave some structure and repetition, because routine is just super relaxing sometimes. Anything can become routine, even travel if you let it. Traveling through unfamiliar landscape and unfamiliar faces, the repetition becomes a logical want. Staying at Noah's apartment in La Paz assured us even further that we were moving around too much. This is why we've expediting our way overland through Chile to Buenos Aires to rent an apartment for a month or so, which is surprisingly easy to do, and get back to our Spanish studies. Argentina has a very popular Craigslist to take care of such things economically.
We've decided that we spend so much time planning the tourism part of our days when we change cities every few days, and our next bus trip and making sure we get a good price, we want something to be easy familiarity. You want to get there without needing a map or getting lost and without interrupting 8 people to ask for directions. It’s safe to say that trying new restaurants has dipped on the priority list. It made us really value recommendations from like-minded travelers too. The major reason La Paz, Bolivia was so comfortable and relaxing was because our friend Noah constantly had recommendations (closely followed by directions and how much it should cost) and for that we will post an appreciative photo of our friend personally introducing us to Salteņas, a type of Bolivian baked empanada filled with deliciousness. If only we had a pal living in every city...