I’m writing this from our Starbucks in Cusco, following a 24 hour journey to get here from La Paz in Bolivia. We’ll just be staying here for a night this time before we take another night bus – our 3rd in 6 days – to go and explore the Peruvian Amazon.
We’re both exhausted as the last two weeks have had a pretty relentless schedule, and whilst we’re still having an amazing time, perhaps we’re feeling a bit more reflective than usual – hence a slightly different style of post.
Last week in Sucre, Bolivia marked not only my 29th birthday but also 2 months on the road, and I can’t believe how fast time has gone. Talking to a girl in our tour group, she was amazed that just a few short months ago – the 8th June to be precise (and Rob’s birthday coincidentally) – we made the decision to go for it and booked our round the world tickets. A lot of people have said that the best decisions are often spontaneous, and based on our experience so far I’d have to agree. I wrote previously about how scary it was to make the decision to up sticks and leave our old life behind, and at this point I couldn’t be more relieved that it seems to be working out.
So we thought that for fun – and to add to what my sister loves to call our ‘painfully mainstream’ travel blog – we’d do a bit of a round up of our highs and lows so far!
- Yosemite National Park trip with The Green Tortoise – the views and landscapes were amazing and we were with a great bunch of people for our first group trip. Really proud as well that I made it to the top of Lembert Dome, a seriously tough hike given my appalling fitness levels!
- Our crazy few days drinking and gambling in Las Vegas were awesome, and completely contrary to my expectations that I’d find Vegas tacky and boring. The Cirque de Soleil show we saw was a real highlight and worth blowing the budget for.
- 3 nights spent on Ilha Grande in a tropical storm was another one that defied expectations – I never thought that spending time on a beautiful tropical island with no electricity or hot water and crazy amounts of rain would be so much fun.
- Bolivia in general – Salt Flats, an amazing time with our G Adventures Llamas and an incredible 29th birthday made this a stand out country for me, and I’d recommend Bolivia to anyone, can’t wait to write it up properly for the blog.
- Horse Riding trips in Argentina – we did this in both Salta & Mendoza and had really great days out. It was so relaxing to ride out for a few hours in stunning locations before enjoying unlimited steak and locally produced red wine on the ranches.
- Biting in to my first incredible steak in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina – in fact, all through our time in Argentina the food was fantastic, and we enjoyed some brilliant asados everywhere we visited.
- Hiking to the top of the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park and taking in the views – from rainbows and waterfalls to the mountains in the park, this was something really special. None of the pictures really do it justice.
- Sarah’s birthday complete with traditional Bolivian food, music and dancing in Sucre. We also did an amazing trek to see dinosaur footprints and had a very fun drunk night out with our G Adventures group.
- Road Tripping from LA to San Francisco in our Mustang that we hired – the drive was awesome, and listening to our favourite country music tracks all the way made it a day we’ll never forget.
- Cycling the Death Road was also a stand out day for me – Sarah hated it – but I haven’t been mountain biking properly since I was a kid and the adrenalin rush going high speed from high altitude down to the jungle was incredible.
- The first 24 hours travelling was a nightmare – I woke up with an allergic reaction to the hostel bedding which left a lovely rash all over my face, came down with a wisdom tooth infection & had awful jet lag.
- Rob getting sick in Chile was rubbish, I’ve never seen him so ill and it was horrible for him to spend a week in bed feeling crappy instead of making the most of our time.
- Believing the media reports on Rio de Janeiro and feeling horribly on edge the whole time we were there is something I regret – after all the nightmare stories I just couldn’t relax and didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I think I could have done.
- San Francisco…. controversial but I really didn’t enjoy our time here and wouldn’t go back. It felt pretty run down and within an hour of leaving our hostel to explore we saw a drug deal, more homeless people than I’ve ever seen before and accidentally discovered the red light district :/ probably bad luck, but it didn’t leave the best impression on me!
- Arriving in Cusco at 5.20am this morning – in the last 5 days we’ve had 2 heavy nights out, cycled the death road with the hangover from hell (ridiculously stupid idea for anyone wondering) and 2 pretty uncomfortable night buses and I cannot wait to sleep tonight.
- Being really sick in Chile and Bolivia for a week with the worst cold I’ve ever had, I seriously felt like I couldn’t breathe for days on end, and wound up on antibiotics for a chest infection.
- Spending over a week freezing cold in Mendoza and Buenos Aires in some seriously unseasonable weather – we had expected sunshine and temperatures in the early 20s but spent a week feeling pretty miserable, cold and damp!
- Getting drunk in the English pub in La Paz the night before cycling the death road was a truly terrible idea, we started drinking at 5pm and many many happy hour free vodka shots later stumbled back to the hotel ready for a 6.30am start mountain biking down the most dangerous road in the world. Stupid stupid people!
- Terrible wifi in pretty much every place we’ve stayed in South America – not that I’ve been doing my usual web development stuff on the road but it does help to have a decent internet connection, and since Mexico, that hasn’t really happened.
- The first night bus we took from Mendoza to Buenos Aires was a real low point for me as well – although it was more comfortable than any plane I’ve travelled on, I didn’t sleep a wink and felt exhausted for a couple of days afterwards.
Not so many pictures of these but here’s a few less flattering snaps of our early mornings and not quite so cheerful days!
What not to do the night before taking on the death road…
What We’ve Realised on our Travels
- We seriously underpacked… which might be a good thing, I’m not sure yet. Pretty much everyone we’ve met has a shorter trip planned but a much larger backpack with them. I could have brought soooo many more clothes! And yet, my pack is pretty easy to lug around which is definitely a bonus. Still undecided on this one!
- It sounds terribly cliched but I’m pretty sure that travel is actually addictive. That rush of endorphins or adrenalin or whatever it is when you just stop and think, I can’t believe I’m actually here and that I’m actually seeing / doing / experiencing this incredible thing negates any of the more stressful travel moments. When you think about how often you feel that back home, maybe every few months after a win at work or an awesome day out, or perhaps when you buy a new car or get your first mortgage accepted and walk into your new home – it’s really not that often. I can honestly say that in the last couple of months travelling, we experience that feeling many many times a week, and it’s truly amazing.
- Your standards get low much faster than expected – hot showers and decent wifi have become a serious luxury very quickly. Running out of clean clothes and leaving it far longer than socially acceptable before getting round to doing laundry – this point arrived much sooner than our best intentions when we left.
- It’s really hard to keep track of money / admin / budgeting / blogging / talking to friends and all those important things that fit into day to day life so easily back home. We tend to binge admin as you can see from the flurry of posts on here – but I’m ashamed to say we can easily go weeks without messaging our friends or checking the details of our bank account versus our planned budget. Again, this is contrary to our expectations and the spreadsheets we had planned out originally – hopefully we’ll improve in time!
- As most people who know us are aware of, Rob is by far the more sociable and people-oriented one of the two of us. However, we’ve both been surprised by how easy it’s been to meet people on the road and just how much we’ve enjoyed getting to know new people from all over the world. Whether it’s a 10 minute chat over breakfast in a hostel, or a drunken night out where everyone shares their life stories and adventures, we’ve met some amazing people on our trip and can’t wait to meet even more.
So, I hope you have all enjoyed this pretty cringe post about our adventures so far as much as we’ve enjoyed reflecting on the last couple of months – especially you Rhiannon 🙂 That’s all for now, and we promise to get better at keeping in touch…