To those who inspire

Sometimes in life you don’t know what you are capable of until you actually do it or you see someone else do it.  That is how we ended up in South America.  We had numerous friends who had been to South America (and been for a long time) that convinced us we could complete and enjoy a long holiday on the continent.

Our inspiration has grown since we’ve been in South America.  So many people that we meet have an interesting story.  So many people have done things we have not and have experiences to share.  Our journey through South America has been enhanced by these people who have inspired us:

Jose Miguel: Our guide from our Amazon trip, Jose Miguel was full of energy and knowledge.  He also had a wonderful story of how he had turned his life around to focus on what he was passionate about: preservation of the Amazon.

James and Briony: We met a couple of Aussies while traveling.  They turned out to be doing a similar sabbatical to us.  James and Briony are doctors who were backpacking and trekking their way across South America.  We shared stories and goals, usually over a couple beers.

Nestor: Nestor was our guide throughout our trek into Colca Canyon.  Nestor had been formally educated in the larger city, but he had returned to lead tourists into his native part of Peru with a point towards assisting the people who live there.  He was in amazing physical shape, and he could run in and out of Colca Canyon in an hour and 45 minutes.  Us tourists took over three hours just to get in it.

Petero: We rented a small cottage while on Easter Island.  Petero was a ball of energy and positivity.  He was the owner of our cottage.  He was one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and his view on life made us feel miles from home.

Andrea Connelly: We met Andrea immediately after she had been robbed.  The poor girl had had a shocking day.  We were impressed with how she pulled it together and recovered from the traumatic ordeal.  More importantly, Andrea had been living outside the USA and traveling for 19 months straight.  She would work remotely to earn money and that allowed her to live abroad.  She had lived in amazing places all over Europe, and she was currently touring South America.  Andrea demonstrated what was possible by ‘living abroad’ and how to overcome adversity.

Nils and Ilona: Another couple who turned out to be very close friends, Nils and Ilona were traveling and eating their way through South America, much the way we were.  They were very practical; saving money and planning their travels well.  They had completed the Trans-Siberian Railway and had nothing but encouraging things to say about it.  We shared many of the same views on life with Nils and Ilona.  We found ourselves intrigued by their travels and wanting more.

Bob Fetterman: We rented an apartment in Rio de Janeiro from Bob.  Bob was a nice guy who had moved to Rio and was loving the place.  He had a positive attitude toward life and Rio.  He seemed to be living his dream and enjoying the wonders of a new and different city.  Bob dismissed many of the fears we had about safety in Rio.  He was proof that life can be what you want it to be.

We could go on and on about the people who have touched our lives throughout our travels.  We’ve had to focus on the highlights to keep this blog post reasonable sized.  Many people have our thanks for their support and assistance during our travels.  We were touched by many.



Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand…

Long ago, on a cold day in a slightly drab city council office in England, my lovely friend Nicola and I were discussing my upcoming tour of South America.  At the time Andy and I didn’t know what our exact travel schedule would be… but I did know that I’d be celebrating my 30th birthday down in South America.  On that long ago day I remember telling Nicola that I wanted to turn 30 “dancing on a beach in Rio de Janeiro with a cocktail in my hand!”

Caipirinha... a delicious and dangerous drink!

Well, that didn’t exactly happen (I turned 30 in Peru instead!)  But, after a three month delay, I finally got a chance to have a big night out in Rio de Janeiro.  And I wasn’t alone…

We met up with our friend Rob in Rio!!  How lucky are we??  Rob is a frequent flyer who travels all over the world for his job… and he happened to be in Brazil at the same time we were.  The stars were aligned!  We were so pleased to see our old friend and to share a few nights out in Rio with him!

I should apologise now for the minimal number of photos in this post.  After having our iPhone stolen in Buenos Aires and watching a man get his camera stolen on Copacabana Beach in Rio, we were wary of bring our camera out for the evening.  Just picture most of  this in your head, please.

The first night we met up with Rob we had caipirinhas on the beach, more caipirinhas in a local bar (are you sensing a pattern here?) and dinner at a churrascaria.  It was a great fun night, but we had to be in bed early as we all had plans for the next day.

Meaty goodness at the churrascaria with Rob!

The next night, which happened to be a Saturday night, we had no such issues.  We began our evening at a fully packed local bar / restaurant in a neighbourhood just north of Ipanema Beach.  The happy, loud, Portugese-speaking crowd spilled out of the bar and on to the sidewalk where they laughed and drank beer and ordered little plates of appetizers called salgadinhos… little bites of fried cheese, meat, salt cod and more.  Delicious with a cold beer or a caipirinha.  We managed to snag a table between a group of men doing a bar-crawl and a group of women with their tiny dogs and we ordered bites and drinks and joined right in!

Then, we walked a few blocks to another excellent and crowded bar and ordered more drinks and more bites.  Then we went to a final bar and stopped ordering bites and kept ordering drinks.  We talked and laughed and drank and spent all night catching up, calling Rob’s lovely wife (Hi, Kelly!) on the phone and congratulating ourselves on being out in Rio for an amazing Saturday night.

Grainy iPhone pic of the Three Rio Amigos!

So, no.  I did not achieve my goal of turning 30 by drinking and dancing on the sand.  But, I can’t imagine that would have been any more fun than the nights we had out with Rob!

POTD: Jesus

This set of pictures is dedicated to Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.  It was an amazing journey to see the large statue, and I’m not sure these do it justice.  However, I’ve tried to encompass several different angles of Cristo Redentor.

The tourist versions:

Cheesy Tourist Stuff

The statue and all its glory:

The big man himself!

Finally, a view from above where the statue stands.  This picture gives you a feel for how high you are at the base of the statue:

Cristo Redentor!