It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 months since I left for this trip. Time has passed quickly and slowly at the same time. Quickly when I realize that some much time has passed without me realizing it. Slowly when I look back and start remembering so many places and moments and people, and become aware of how many experiences I have collected during this time.
Things have gone very well. I have seen amazing places and met amazing people. The last month or so has been slow as I lacked the motivation to go out and do things and meet new people everyday. Once again, I have also become tired of staying in dorm rooms and the lack of privacy, so I have been staying in private rooms most of the time. As I’m writing this, I’m staying in a studio apartment in Medellin, Colombia.
I also have realized that at times I have become a bit lazy and traveled too slow, making me skip many of the places I would have liked to go to due to time constraint, especially now that I only have two months to go.
On a post I wrote on the day of departure, I wrote about the things I was and wasn’t looking forward to during this trip. I’d like to revisit them now and see how each one turned out.
Things I Was Looking Forward to Before Departure
Not waking up to the alarm clock
This hasn’t happened as often as I’d have liked. Quite I few times after going out and going to bed late, I’ve had to set the alarm to wake up in time for the hostel breakfast. I’m not whining though.
Unknown people, places and experiences everyday
One of the best parts of this trip. Each day is very different in so many ways.
All my possessions inside one backpack
Despite downsizing my life into one backpack, I still managed to lose many items. It is nice though to have been be able to de-clutter my mind and only have to worry about a few possessions.
Lots of downtime to read books and watch movies
This has not happened at all. I must have watched about 20 movies only, and 4 1/2 seasons of Breaking Bad. As far as books, I have only been able to finish one. Aside from visiting places and interacting with people, I have had the same problem I had back at home: the internet. With a laptop and a phone and internet connection everywhere (I’ve gotten cell phone SIM cards in 3 countries), I have spent most of the free time on the internet. This is an epidemic affecting a large percentage of backpackers nowadays. You can find hostel lobbies full of people hypnotized by their phones.
Long bus and train rides
This hasn’t bothered me as much. Most buses are comfortable and I tend to really enjoy the scenery, except for the bus ride from hell in Bolivia. I have also flown five times so that cut down a lot of hours on buses.
Things I Was NOT Looking Forward to Before Departure
Sleeping in different beds almost every night
I don’t think anyone enjoys this. It has especially been the case for me for the past month or so. I lived alone for a long time before, so not being able to walk around in my underwear, or have peace and silence 24/7 has been a hard thing for me to adjust to. Unfortunately, staying in private rooms, hotels, or apartments doesn’t allow you to meet other people easily, so it’s not a long term solution.
This hasn’t bothered me as much as I though it would. Most bathrooms in hostels are relatively clean. I have only stayed in highly reviews hostels though. It’s really just a minor annoyance.
Having to constantly keep an eye on my backpack like a hawk
You get used to this and it becomes second nature. As mentioned above, keeping an eye on individual items has been a totally different matter (more on this in a future post).
Seeing too much poverty
I haven’t seen “extreme” poverty, but I have gotten a bit desensitized with seeing people much less fortunate than me. It’s not a change I like in myself. I don’t think one should ever be OK and unmoved by poverty.
I have also lied to locals when they asked me about the length of my trip. I’d sometimes just tell them that I only have 2-3 more weeks to go, instead of 3-4 more years. I feel guilty of indulging myself in this journey while they have to work very hard everyday just to be able to feed their families.
Meeting amazing people and having to say goodbye shortly after
I did meet a great number of amazing people, both locals and travelers. Connecting with them through facebook makes the goodbye less abrupt, but I have become very good at saying good bye and not feeling much at all. Maybe it’s a subconscious defense mechanism, but this is another change in me that I don’t welcome.
What’s Left of South America
With two months left, I had to sit down an entire day and plan out my schedule for the rest of my journey through South America. I have mentioned before that I don’t like to travel with schedules, but this is the only way to make sure I see some of the places I really want to go to, especially given my recent lack of motivation.
I will spend the rest of November in Colombia, going to Zona Cafetera after Medellin, then San Agustin area before heading to the Ecuadorian border. In Ecuador, I’ll only visit Quito, where I’ll fly to Santiago, Chile on December 1st. I’ve decided to leave the rest of Ecuador for a separate future trip, including the Galapagos Islands.
From Santiago, I’ll start traveling south, going through the Lake District before spending the rest of December in both Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia. After Angel Falls, Patagonia is the place I wanted to visit the most in South America. At the beginning of January, I’ll make a stop in Puerto Madryn on my way to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ll spend a week or so there with friends and relatives before flying back to Los Angeles on January 14th. I’ll then take a short break back home before flying to New Zealand in early February.