SOUTH AMERICA WRAP-UP

Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
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Trip End Oct 14, 2009


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Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, January 26, 2009

As you probably know, we had a wonderful time visiting South America.  We wanted to write down some of our favorite and least favorite things as our "wrap-up".

Favorite country visited?
Peru, but it was definitely the hardest. Could not drink any of the water, could not cook for ourselves, very few decent toilets and never any toilet paper. But Peru has something the others don't, to put it simply, it was just more genuine and pure.

Favorite stop in each country?
PERU
Macho Picchu because not too many places still exist in their original state like this in the world. It's like going back it time and completely unbelievable the intelligence the Incas had.

CHILE (Other then the Marriott for Christmas)
Iqueque Beach - body surfing, thong bikinis, swimming with seals, and massive jelly fish (Brian)
Staying at Walter's in Santiago. Great home and even better hosts. (Becky)

ARGENTINA
Hands down, Junin de los Andes. Everything from the naturally clean small town, the amazing river that runs through town and the surrounding Andean mountains, the owners of the Alina's Inn and the Iowa couple we met while there made this place the most loved by the Willbond's.

Least favorite place overall and why?
We both have to agree that Mendoza, Argentina was the one place we wish we had skipped. Among many other things, this is where the hostel owner was caught filming people in the shower, where Becky got pooped on twice in the same day by birds and our rough wine trail bike ride. When we look back though, we do laugh about our bad luck. We did have some fun times in this town and most importantly, we met some really great people at our hostel.

Favorite experiences?
Macho Picchu & Climbing to the top of Mount Wiaupicchu (the steep mountain peak in all Macho Picchu postcards).
The hot springs in Agua Caliente.
Visiting the Uros families and the floating islands on Lake Titikaka.
Eating local food in Puno and watching the 6 man band perform the entire time. Amazing.
Going out to see the scared Indian rocks/caves with the owners of our hotel and the Swan couple in Junin de los Andes.
Visiting the street market in El Bolson and listening to the hippie bands in the park.
Viedma beach La Loberia and the Sea Loin Colonies.
Having Susan visit us in Buenos Aires and having an awesome apartment for the week.
Tango Show in Buenos Aires at Cafe Tortoni.
The time spent in Patagonia.

Weird/interesting experiences?
Crossing the Peru/Chile boarder in a really old Collectivo (group taxi) with a woman and her 2 kids and listening to old Dito songs.
Walking into a grocery store for the first time and seeing warm milk out on shelves and meat on counter tops for sale that looked like it had been sitting out for days.
Watching a school girl swim in the ocean dressed completely from head to toe in her Catholic school uniform in Chile.
Having a group of kids point and scream "Gringos!" at us on the beach in Chile
When Becky was interviewed on camera by a news crew on the Iqueque beach.
Going to the fish market in Santiago - never have we seen things for sale like this before (exotic parts of animals).
When our bus drivers got in a fist fight and police officers had to break it up.
Confronting our hostel owner at 1:00 AM with everyone else at our hostel about him filming them in the shower.
Seeing a man pee in the middle of Santiago's city plaza with 1,000s of people sitting around.

Favorite South American food?
Empandas (Becky) Alpaca (Brian)

Least favorite food?
Bus ride sandwiches (Becky) Hostel Breakfast white bread (Brian)

A few things we would NOT change.
Visiting Peru first. It was the hardest place yet but put us right into South American culture right off the bat.
Staying in Junin de los Andes for New Years - small towns were the very best.
Getting the best seats possible for our 24 hour bus ride from Iqueque to Santiago (Becky slept most of the way).

A few things we would change.
Refreshing our Spanish more before we left.
Take less buses.
Spend more time in Chile.

Things learned along the way?
Peruivans are some of the very nicest, genuine, happy and beautiful people in the world.
There really is no such thing as a bus schedule in South America.
South Americans don't know that smoking kills.
Keep your expectations in check, expect the very basic and be happy with it.
You need to take a Spanish class before you leave home.
In South America wine is cheap and delicious!!! (they also have great beer).
Never trust hostel owners.
Having your bra show (ie. wearing a halter top or a strapless dress with a inch wide strapped bra) must be a cool thing to do.
The 80's are the style again.
South Americans really, really like ice cream.
South Americans also really like to have sex (even in public parks), every other young woman was pregnant.
Only dogs with shirts on have owners. Wild dogs are the norm.
It is much more beautiful then we ever thought - the landscape is as diverse as its people.
Patience is your friend.
Less is sometimes more.
Smile, you're in South America!
 
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