And all those questions everyone keeps asking...
Just thought I'd post this... it's a nice into to my trip.
Why South America?
I really don't understand why everyone asks me this question. If I said I was going to Europe, or Austraila, or Asia, no one would ask this.
I first got the idea to go because I read a lot of books about South America- starting with William Beebe's Galapagos: World's End and Wade Davis' One River, followed by Wade Davis' The Lost Amazon, Sylvia Fraser's The Green Labrynth, Johan Reinhard's The Incan Ice Mummies, and Don Starkell's Paddle to the Amazon. Plus, I've always been interested in Archaeology and there's so much to see down there.
Secondly, its super cheap. I wanted to do Europe last summer, but you can't compete with $4 hotel rooms in Ecuador. I can go for several months without going broke.
Third, South America has everything. There are:
-Sunny, sandy beaches where you can go surfing and kiteboarding
-the Galapagoes Park with all the animals and lava rocks...
-the Amazon rainforest!
-the Andes... so many mountains and volcanoes
-sites like Macchu Picchu, Cuzco and Nazca
-Native tribes like the Shuar and Waorani
-Large mondern cities to check out
-cloud forests with new species being discovered all the time
-the opportunity to learn Spanish!
-crazy whitewater rivers to go kayaking...
When are you coming back?
August 8th. As far as I know... wink wink.
How are you affording this?
Like I said, it's pretty cheap. But I did save up some money too of course.
What goals do you have for this trip?
-Visit the Shuar and Waorani tribes
-Spend a night sleeping up a tree
-Visit the Galapagos, hopefully go scuba diving
-Go white water kayaking
-Visit Macchu Picchu
-Visit the Incan Ice Mummies in Arequipa
-Visit Lake Titicaca (the highest navigatible lake in the world)
-Swim in the Amazon River
-Straddle the Ecuator
How's your Spanish?
Mas a menos. I'm taking a spanish course right now but it's not going to give me much more than the basics.
What are you most excited for?
All of it, really. I just can't wait to be on the road and stop thinking and preparing for it.
Dreading... nothing really. But some things scare me. All those crazy buses that take hairpin turns and fall down cliffs in Ecuador and Peru... also not being able to communicate well because I'm such a talker and getting lost and having the sun set, with me stuck somewhere in the jungle. There's no dusk per se near the Equator, it's light then it's pretty much suddenly dark. Freaky...
Oh yes, and now I'm dreading all these innoculations. I got Hep A, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, and Rabies today. My arms are incredibly sore and feel like pincushions. :S
What will you miss most?
My family and friends, first and foremost. Second, I think will be other English speakers and maybe Canadian food. I'll likely miss the "settled" life after a few months on the road. And just generally Toronto and everything familiar. And technology.
What will you miss least?
Work and school. Not that I don't enjoy them but after awhile you get tired of the structured environment.
Where exactly are you going?
First I fly from Toronto to Vancouver, where I'll be staying at Whistler for a week with a friend, skiing and snowboarding.
Next, I fly into Quito, and a week later, I travel to the Arutam Rainforest Reserve to live for a month, more or less, with the Shuar amazonian tribe.
Two weeks later I'll be hiking the Incan trail to Macchu Picchu. It takes four days, and it's going to be amazing.
Other than that, nothings planned out in stone at all. I want to have the freedom to go wherever I choose! There is a town I plan to stop at in N Peru, on my way to or from Macchu Picchu; called Mancora. It's a mix of trendy rich Peruvians vacationing on the coast and chilled out surfers. The hotel I'm staying at is right on the beach, and the owner is a surf and kiteboard instructor. I can't wait to advance my skills in both-- since I took some introductory classes in kiteboarding last summer and surfing this Feb in Florida.
Anyways, if you have any more questions or pointers on what I should see or avoid in Ecuador and Peru, let me know!