1 month on the road came and went faster than we could believe. We had been so busy with traveling into Bolivia then 2 days in Chile and on to Argentina, that we suddenly realized the big day was upon us! (We've also included a few silly pictures of us.)
We celebrated by having dinner on a Saturday night at La Casona del Molina in Salta and thought about many of the things we've noticed along the way.
1. Traveling brings out the best and the worst in you. Tired, hungry, generally stressed all add up to two cranky people. We've both had to take a step back a few times to remind ourselves that the slower portion of travel was upon us.
2. Toilet paper has become our version of gold. To have a nice clean roll in our backpacks is a piece of mind I never knew I needed. With missing toilet seats, uncertainty over where to actually go, constantly asking how much it costs to use the bathroom, it's really the simplicity of just having a roll that makes the whole process so much better.
3. Sometimes you just need to eat something familiar. While I'm proud to say we've not eaten a true fast food meal, I did finally cave when we were at a Salta mall looking for a better zoom lens and there was a Mickey Dees. I definitely grabbed a fry and it tasted so good. Eating traditional food in each country is great but after 4 weeks on the road, it's nice to find one thing you aren't worried will cause food poisoning.
4. 3 days in a city is enough to understand how most things work. By day 3, these basic things are mostly understood: layout of the city, process of getting a cab/public transportation, where to find a supermarket, bus terminal, ATM, etc. We start to feel like locals after 3 days in one place.
5. Traveling is so different from vacation. Vacation you plan ahead and everything is set for your arrival. Traveling is more like work, with constant planning for the next step, trying to maintain a budget, finding safe places to stay, and still keep in touch with each other and those at home. We've really had to focus on spending days not planning for the next step and just enjoying the moment.
Best Meal: Pacena la Saltena-one of our cheapest meals was also our best. La Paz didn't offer us much to be excited about but the saltenas seriously have us considering a yearly fly in-fly out just for these delicious stuffed dough balls.
Toughest Border Crossing: Chile to Argentina. I would never have guessed Chile to Argentina would be more challenging than Peru to Bolivia but it was. Disorganized and challenging to understand, the step-by-step of Bolivia was quicker and easy as long as your were prepared with the proper paper work. Chile to Argentina was a time-consuming cluster that left even the most kind-hearted Germans in line behind us saying Cambodia was an easier entry.
Best cocktail: Passion de Muna from Belmond Monestario.
Biggest disagreement: 4 weeks of nonstop travel doesn't a trip make according to Brian. However, I have been fine with our pace. When Brian hit the wall, I was still ready to keep rocking. Stopping in Salta for 5 days helped to even us both and prepared us for our next month.
Things we miss: We've talked about this a lot over the last week.
-We miss our family and friends and Nashville. Lindsay misses snuggling on Nashboy a lot.
-We mostly miss food. We miss a good Greek salad, white queso and chips and Brian's homemade margs.
-Lindsay misses using a good Reidel wine glass and enjoying it from her own couch.
-Missing out on babies-Lindsay's best friend Sarah just had a baby girl, Sadie and we have many other friends who've just given birth or are about too.
-Brian misses good BBQ and real craft beer-none of this so-called craft beer.
-Having private space-public parks and community space are great, but it would be nice to have your own sofa or back porch to relax on.
-Consistently solid data and wifi-We have data and texting everywhere we go, but sometimes it's so slow we want to throw our phones out the bus window.
-We miss the opportunity to go to church on Sundays. We keep searching for a Protestant church but South America is mainly Catholic or LDS. Also, every service being in Spanish doesn't help either.
Things we've loved:
-Being able to really talk and listen to one another for the first time in a long time, discussing new dreams and ideas and goals.
-Asking why not when an opportunity presents itself and seeking out new things to try and do.
-Not missing our jobs at all-we miss the people, but not the day-to-day grind.
-Not missing our community commitments-we miss involvement but not feeling the burden to always say yes.
-Slow travel! There is something so freeing in knowing you don't really need to move quickly but can add and subtract days as you feel best.
Things we hate:
-Overnight bus travel-I don't care how nice the bus is, traveling overnight is miserable. Thank goodness most hostels let you check in early.
-Worrying about eating something uncooked, like salad or fruit. We really want to eat these things, but 9/10 times it's just a question mark. If we are staying for several nights in a place, we usually risk it, but if we are moving on quickly, we avoid anything uncooked.
Traveling this way has really opened our eyes to a lot of new things and new attitudes and we've loved our journey so far.