So we’ve been back in the States for over a month now and are just now wrapping up our travel blog! Eesh! It all seems like such a blurry memory now, but there are definitely things that stand out about our time in South America.
First, I wish we had actually planned our trip to the region better. When we first started our trip in January, we had a vague idea of what countries we would go to in each of the countries but since we were going to Asia first, we did more research of how and where to go. By the time we got to planning South America, we were too engorged in the backpacker way of travel and figured we would just figure it out as we went along! Which of course was fun too. But if I had to do it over again, I would have gone a different route. We started in Peru and flew into Uruguay and took the ferry over to Argentina. We basically just booked our flight to Peru and figured we would navigate our way once we got there (since we were still in Asia when we booked it and were busy figuring out Asia!). But we knew that we were also going to take Spanish classes in Buenos Aires so we should have probably gone there first! And then made our way over land northwest through Bolivia and Peru and possibly Ecuador. But we wanted to take our Spanish classes so we went straight from Peru to Uruguay / Argentina. We did hear some great things about Bolivia and I wish we had gotten a chance to go!
A few things to note about South America vs. travel in Southeast Asia:
1) South America is huge! It takes a LOT longer to travel between places in SA, though the buses in Peru and Argentina were perfectly comfortable (we heard Bolivia was not quite the same). We spent over two weeks in Peru and I felt like we saw maybe half of the places we wanted to see (mostly because we spent over a week in Cuzco / Machu Picchu) – we’ll have to go back one day and go through the Amazon part of Peru! We really loved the country as well and look forward to going back one day. Same thing with Argentina – it took us a day between Buenos Aires an d Iguazu via bus and about the same from Iguazu to Salta. But we couldn’t go down South to Patagonia (too cold for us!) and will definitely have to do that some other time!
2) Visas were a lot more expensive for US citizens (specifically, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia) – you can sometimes avoid these if you travel over land rather than coming in by air; however, Bolivia still charges the visa charge (over $100) if you travel over land.
3) Costs are much higher than in SE Asia as expected; but Buenos Aires and Uruguay were especially expensive – pretty much like things would be in the US – not great when on a budget!
One of the things I loved about South America is how different the cultures between countries was, even within country in the case of Argentina. Overall, people everywhere were pretty friendly and laid-back. There didn’t seem to be as much of an emphasis on material things and instead on social traditions and spending time with family and friends… something we can definitely learn from in the States! We learned in Spanish class that one of the reason parts of South America were similar to each other (like Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) but different from others (like Argentina vs. Peru) is that the Andes Mountains acted as a geographical barrier and therefore, the cultures East and West evolved somewhat in isolation. Even the Spanish was very different in the areas! We got by a lot easier in Peru where they spoke a lot slower and with a similar accent to what we’re used to with our Mexican version of Spanish. But the accents in Uruguay and Argentina were definitely different! Especially in their pronunciations and a lot of their words. We met a couple of ladies from the States who were working for Google in Buenos Aires and spoke Puerto Rican / Mexican Spanish and even they said they only understood 70 or 80% of what their coworkers said because of all the different words they use in BsAs! I didn’t feel so bad after that for understanding only half of what was being said! Lol.
Part of me wishes we had more time (and money!) to see other parts of South America especially since there is so much to see! But, at the same time, after almost eight months we were ready to go back home and already slightly extended on our budget. It’s okay though – we’ll just get to save those adventures for another time!
It was fun but expensive!