It's the end of our first trip together, and the first real backpacking trip for both of us. The new sights, smells, feelings of excitement and nervousness, movement from place to place and meeting all those amazing people combined for an experience we will never forget. We learned a lot of lessons along the way - how to plan as you go, when to make the jump from the bus and when to stay on it, how to communicate in another language and keeping your energy and wits about you during so many overwhelming moments.
Argentina and Chile are places we felt very welcomed and safe. We are already planning our next trip down to South America, some new places and perhaps, some new friends to visit as well. But that's not for another few years. In the meantime, we're taking the best of our travels to heart and incorporating our newfound outlook in the 'global village' that we find ourselves living in.
With that in mind, here's a little list of what we'll try to forget and what will stay with us forever.
Things we won't miss
• Unimaginative "standard" menus - not that the food was bad, but try a little variety sometimes!
• Convenience shops stocking only crackers, biscuits and tiny cookies - when it's the only source of food on a 5-hour bus ride
• Paying for toilet paper - in the washrooms, that is
• Absence of toilet seats
• "Cheese" - unless you get the artisan-crafted heavy cheeses, queso is not very tasty at all
• Jamon on everything - whether you like it or not!
• Dated music - late 80s adult contemporary rules the roost
• Tripping on dislodged sidewalk tiles
• Road apples of the canine variety under your feet on the big city sidewalks
• Buying bottled water daily and throwing out the empties
• Seeing litterbugs toss rubbish anywhere - a few "Keep Argentina Beautiful" signs could go a long way
• Big dog balls swinging everywhere! (Bob Barker should be flown down for some education)
Things we'll miss
• The friendly "Hola" or "Buena" everywhere you go
• The best palta and tomato we've ever had (in Chile)
• Helados - Dulce de Leche Montanes (con nuez y rhum) is the best ice cream ever!
• Litros de cerveza - at $2.50 ARG a pop, it's cheaper than water and oh, so tasty
• Speaking Spanish while still just learning it and receiving encouragement from strangers
• The "bang for your buck" - Canadian dollars go a long way down here, especially in Argentina where prices are familiar but the exchange makes it a third of the price
• Comfy buses for those long hauls - again, Greyhound could learn a thing or twelve
• Beautifully tiled sidewalks and floors and the old architecture above it all
• Petting perros in need of love - so many to choose from too!
• Mamushka chocolate shop and their amazing tiramisu bar
• Sidewalk cafes and having a drink anywhere you like
• The big, crazy precordillera and the Andes towering behind at sunset
• The super-friendly, always smiling, never condescending, beautiful people of the Southern Cone!