I’ve decided it’s time. Time for a summarisation, or review, shall we say. I thought about doing it before, but it seemed sort of false – no real significance behind why I would do such a thing. Only now, now that I’ve arrived at the bottom of the world (or more accurately left a couple of weeks ago) there seems to be a reason for it, other than bragging of course. To cover the life and times of a journey from Georgetown on Guyana’s northern coast, to Rio’s beaches on the Atlantic east, to Ushuaia, gateway to the Antarctic. So, without much ado, I shall encapsulate your attention.
It’s been a long way –
Time Away – 6 Months.
Countries Visited – 7 – Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina & Chile.
Distance Travelled from UK – Over 15,000 Miles (~24,000km).
Distance Travelled in South America – Over 10,500 Miles (~17,000km).
Time Spent on Buses (not including day trips) – 329 Hours.
Overnight Buses – 12.
>24hr Buses – 6. They’re long.
Boat Trips – 7.
Time Spent on Boats – 5 Days.
Clothes Bought – None. I still smell and they look pretty bad.
Books Read – 10. Hey, two of those were over 1000 pages!
Phones Broken – 1. Oops.
Longest Beard Growth – 3 Months and counting. Incidentally my hair is yet to get a cut. Looking smart.
Time Spent in Spanish Lessons – 18 Hours. It doesn’t compare favourably to the bus time, does it?
Time spent on Horseback – Probably getting dangerously near to 20 hours now! I might be an expert!
Longest Without Internet – 8 Days. Poor effort, I know.
Highlight of the Trip so Far – It’s a question almost everyone asks, and also one that’s impossible to answer, so I’m going to select a lovely round number. Or six. In chronological order, the first would be Guyana, as a whole rather than any particular place. It’s just so different to the rest of South America, in the cut off culture, the complete lack of tourism and just about everything. A place tailor made for adventure. I would also pick The Amazon – it’s awesome – and it’s fruit juices (incredible), climbing Huayna Potosi – for sheer challenge and the pride that comes with completion, Sucre – for the brilliant time I had and all the cool people I met there, Paraty – Because when a place is still beautiful and you want to stay after you’ve smashed your head on a rock, you know it’s a winner, and Estancia Panagea – Back to basics herding and horse riding. Doesn’t everyone want to be a gaucho?
Lowlight of the Trip So Far – No its not hitting my head on a rock. It’s being sick on entering Paraguay. After 26 hours on the bus, all I wanted to do was sleep. Instead, I spent 24 hours with the worst sickness I have ever experienced. All the while I was dinner for mosquitoes. I hope they got sick too.
Favourite Place to Stay – Hostel Manaus. Seriously still the friendliest and most helpful place I’ve stayed on my trip – that’s very important when you’re arriving in a place as sick as a dog. Probably helped by the variety of people I met there, with some of the most interesting stories I’ve heard on my trip. Special mention to The Beehive in Sucre & La Posta in Ushuaia.
Worst Place to Stay – Hotel Esdras in Guayaramerin, Bolivia. They do say you get what you pay for, and 30 bolivianos isn’t a lot. Bad service, curious stains on the walls and worry inducing sheets made for an uncomfortable night. You try telling your Chilean friend you met on a Brazilian boat with your non existent Spanish that you’d rather pay more for your border town stay.
Best Alcoholic Drink – Well it’s definitely not beer, which is distinctly familiar wherever in South America you seem to be. It’s the Caipirinha. A lifelong friend I have made, and I miss her already.
Best Food – Steak in Uruguay is right up there, along with a beautifully crafted burger in Florianopolis, 50 peso pizza in Buenos Aires and Parrilla in Asunción. Strangely though, still standing tall is the hole in the wall restaurant in La Paz, as much for its atmosphere and discovery of a real Bolivian eatery as anything else. It did smell good though.
Friendliest People – I’ve met great people from all over the world, and locals in every country. As a nation though, this award has to go to Paraguay, for a desire to showcase their country and talk about the most random of subjects.
Most Devastating Realisation – I probably have less time left in South America, than I have been here already. I am now on the return leg, back north again and suspect I have about 4 months still left to me. That’s four months of awesomeness though, surely?