Saturday, 11 February 2012

Moving on...

So the South American part of my adventure has come to an end. On one hand it feels like a lifetime ago that I was saying goodbye to everyone at home and setting off on this crazy journey, but on the other hand I can't believe my first three months have flown by already.

Often when you're constantly travelling from place to place you don't have time to sit back and reflect on everything you've seen. But looking back on it now I am amazed at how much I got to do in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile; from the awe-inspiring Inca Trail and Salar de Uyuni to my special Christmas and New Year in Argentina and the brilliant end to my trip in Torres del Paine. As well as ticking eight things off my 30b430 list I have also had so many other incredible experiences. I saw penguins, drank tea in Welsh teashops and was lucky enough to volunteer alongside some fantastic people. And it's not just the 'big' things I've loved. Some of my most memorable moments have been very ordinary - watching gorgeous sunsets on some of my many long bus rides, buying food in the markets and entertaining the locals with my attempts at Spanish, to name but a few. There have  been so many great times that it almost feels a bit greedy to be continuing with my travels to collect more.

But it would be wrong to make out that everything has been plain-sailing. In the future I'm sure I'll look back on this time with rose-tinted glasses and remember that everything was perfect. But that's not the way travelling works and, of course, there have been times when I've felt frustrated or scared or lonely. Actually the hardest part of my trip was right at the beginning. At home I was so used to always being surrounded by people - working in a busy office; spending lots of time with my friends and talking to my family regularly on the phone - that I found it difficult to get used to being by myself. Often your experience of a place is influenced by the people you end up meeting along the way and sometimes you just don't meet anyone and that can be hard. I think I'm still learning to enjoy my own company but it's definitely getting easier.

And, of course, for every difficult day there are so many more amazing ones and usually just when you're feeling tired or grumpy someone will come along and invite you for lunch or tell you a funny story and suddenly you love travelling again and you can't even remember what you were annoyed about in the first place.

So, to all of the brilliant people I've met along the way and to everyone at home who has encouraged and supported me every step of the way: thank you. Here's to the next six months!

Things I'll never forget
* Walking through the Sun Gate on the final morning of the Inca Trail.
* Meeting all of the brilliant volunteers and children at Traveller Not Tourist.
* Seeing the stunning Salar de Uyuni for the first time.
*Spending Christmas and New Year in Buenos Aires with a fantastic bunch of people.
*Enjoying a private picnic at Iguazu Falls.
* Seeing penguins in the wild for the first time.
* Attempting to climb a volcano.
* 42 hour bus rides.
* Watching the sunrise over Torres del Paine.
* The many, many, amazing people I've met along the way, who helped to make my time in South America so special.

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