May 6, 2013 by lucyhames
So that’s it, my South America trip (with a dalliance in Central) is over. 8 months ago I took my one way ticket from London to Rio to embark on what would be my biggest trip to date. It’s hard to round up 8 months worth of travel, experience and friendships but for the sake of completing my blog I will give it a go. I have now received over 4300 hits on my blog in 40 different countries, thanks for sticking with me. Writing this and keeping an eye on the hits has been massively enjoyable. I sometimes read posts back and when I do two things always strike me, firstly my spelling, sentence structure and general grammar is appalling and secondly, christ I have done some cool stuff and I am so glad I recorded it.
So 8 months ago I was apprehensive when I sat waiting at Heathrow to board my plane. I had said goodbye to so many of the people that I love, including my nephew who I was yet to meet and I battled the usual question of ‘I am doing the right thing’? Deep down though I knew that I was. I had had a pretty terrible beginning to 2012, in fact since the beginning of 2010 I had been struggling with picking up my life again and more honestly with avoiding the self destruct button. I needed to take a step outside of my day to day life and shake things up. That is largely what this trip was about for me.
I have seen 8 countries and 3 wonders of the world this trip and travelled countless miles. I have experienced things I couldn’t even dream up. The beauty and vibrance of Brazil, standing alongside Christ the Redeemer, running along Ipanema beach, snorkelling in crystal clear rivers. The utterly mind-boggling Bolivia, swimming in the crocodile and piranha infested Amazon, cycling the words most dangerous road, being left speechless at the Salt Planes and lagoons, bathing in thermal pools at 16,000 ft. The mysterious Peru, Salsa dancing with the locals, trekking the Inca Trail, seeing Machu Picchu, hiking the worlds deepest canyon, sand buggying in the desert, spending Xmas on the beach. The unexpectedly delightful Ecuador, New Year on the beach, paddle boarding the coast, going to war with cockroaches. The crazily stunning Columbia, trekking to the Lost City, roaming the old towns, basking in the Caribbean. The surprisingly awesome Guatemala, trekking volcanoes, witnessing Semana Santa, scaling Tikal. The super chilled caribbean delight of Belize, with its Rasta’s and coconuts and jaw dropping waters. Magical Mexico, which always pulls me back. And finally the US, which is basically only ever Los Gatos but always massively enjoyable. For 8 months I have had a world so full of colour that I am almost fearful of a life without. I have seen so many sunrises and sunsets that have blown my mind including my most recent sunset in Mexico which left tears rolling down my cheeks and a feeling of such completeness I did not think it possible to feel.
I have basked in luxuries and gritted my teeth through the crappest conditions. I have been attacked by roaches, joined in the shower by a tarantula, jumped over a snake on a run, been stung by jellyfish, been eaten alive by mosquitos and sand flies, chased and bitten by wild dogs. I have caught piranha with a hook and eaten it. I have lived on food I wouldn’t give a dog at home, and I don’t like dogs. I have suffered a bacterial infection which lasted 5 weeks. I have slept in hammocks on beaches and in jungles, in tents on mountains, in airports and shared rooms with up to 12 people. I have vomited out of moving and stationary vehicles. I have had the shits almost everywhere I have been, including the Salt Flats and Machu Picchu. I have taken on and largely conquered the public transport of every country, including 23 hrs straight on a bus and 27 hours in cars. I have gone without washing for over 5 days. I have danced with locals in every South American country and taught some of them the running man. I have taken 116 travel sickness tablets including one just for kayaking. I have suffered the hangovers at crazy altitudes and have run the streets at the same heights. I have had my bank accounts frozen. I have been frozen…..and burnt. I have lived without tap water or tea or marmite for goodness sakes!
The things that I have experienced and the places I have seen have taken my breath away but it’s without doubt the people I have met along the way that have shaped and defined this trip. I have met people that challenged me, made me cry laughing or just made me cry, filled me with joy and hope, broadened my horizons, made me let go, pushed me, hugged me and a handful of people who literally rocked my world…..the ‘rockers’ are pictured below….
In my first post I spoke about the acceleration of relationships. When you travel you forge relationships at breakneck speed. Perhaps it is because of the huge amount of time you spend together, the days sight-seeing, the nights sharing a room or traveling through hell on a nightbus. Or maybe it’s that the things you share are so incredible or indeed awful. Or perhaps it is that when you leave your ‘normal’ life behind you also leave behind many of the hang ups of your previous existence. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how old you are, whether you are married or divorced, if you own a house or a car, how much money you have in the bank, if you did something you regret, if you are 18lbs heavier or lighter, because when you travel all you are is you. More importantly for me it’s a me that I judge less, that I am kinder to.
When my Dad talks about me as a kid he always talks of my energy, that he thought I could just leap into the sky at any moment. Whenever he says this it resonates in me. I know exactly what he means because it’s true. As I have worked my way through this trip I have rediscovered my energy, my lust for life and new experiences and right now I feel like I can fly. That’s what travelling does for me.
I feel so unbelievably lucky and grateful to have experienced everything that I have experienced this trip, but more than anything I feel so incredibly privileged to have shared so many of them with the most awesome, fun and inspiring people. Many of whom I expect to be friends with for life. I am returning to the UK with a lot more weight but a lot less baggage than when I left. I am also returning with a list of places to see next. Travelling is not something that I consider you get out of your system, for me it is the exact opposite. Once you see what’s out there it’s almost impossible to ignore it. So far I have travelled to 28 countries, the way I see it that’s 168 to go.
This trip has been so much more than I could have ever hoped. I have without doubt had the best 8 months of my life. I could never find a way to put that into words, it’s too big, even for chopsy Hames.
So many times this trip we have used the phrase ‘you only live once’ YOLO baby! Of course it’s basically just an excuse for doing something you either can’t afford or know you should probably avoid, but for me one thing is always so clear, life is short, too short, what you do with it is up to you and in the words of the great philosopher Ferris Bueller ‘life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’.
Next stop London………