Monday, July 27, 2009

To Travel is Better Than to Arrive

Well, I stole the quote from Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," but I did read the book while traveling, mostly somewhere in Western Brazil, and it definitely fits. Now, I've arrived, for the time being anyway. I've, in fact, been arrived for over a week already, and, obviously, it's less interesting than traveling.

Some people feel depression coming on when they are done traveling... somehow I don't think I'm really allowed to go that way, seeing how I had consciously chosen to cut my trip short by a good couple of months, but I'm definitely starting to miss some things - among them:
- having a new place to go to every couple of days
- having the latitude to decide what that new place is going to be at the very last second. Then changing your mind a few times
- being able to afford all of the above - I've been looking at travel within the US, it's absurdly expensive!
- meeting new people from all over the world along the way
- speaking Spanish. Yes, after 6 months in Latin America, I had actually come to enjoy the Spanish learning. Well, less so when the Colombians and Panamanians would slur things at light speed perhaps...

As I've been going through a lot of my pictures recently, some fun facts to wrap up the voyage:
- I left on December 24, 2007
- I landed back in the US on July 17, 2009. But I had been back to the States on three separate occasions earlier in the trip, so it's not quite 18 months purely on the road.
- I'll officially write the trip off as being concluded when I make it back to Seattle, as I am planning on more sightseeing making my way up North slowly, by train, via California and Oregon. Unless I change my mind... I could always go to Darfur...
- speaking of Darfur, I've been to six continents over the 18 months - that's all but one. The one being Africa. Yes, I made it to Antarctica before Africa. I have been to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which is right off the coast of Africa, but it doesn't count. I won't actually go to Darfur when I do go to Africa, mom!
- I've been to 54 countries (and territories) over the journey. It's fun, for me anyway, to list these things:
- Thailand (4), Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Cambodia
- Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia (2), Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, China (3), Macau
- Mongolia (2), Russia (4), Germany (2), France (4), Belgium (2), Holland, England, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia (2), Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan (2), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Japan, Canada
- Costa Rica, Uruguay, Argentina (3), Brazil (2), Chile, Peru, Bolivia (2), Colombia, Panama, USA

I've technically been to Taiwan (airport only), Bosnia, and Moldova too, but not long enough for any of them to count. And I had some severe issues with Moldova... USA will only start to count when I actually see some new places here - Seattle and San Diego hardly qualify. I don't know how to qualify Antarctica since it isn't actually a country, and I officially didn't even leave Argentina when I went... but I did get a couple of Antarctica stamps in my passport! Anyway, it's not on the list. After some internal debate, my five favoritest has come down to:
1. Thailand
2. Argentina
3. Nepal
4. Laos
5. New Zealand

honorable mention: Bolivia and Slovenia

There weren't a lot of places I didn't enjoy, but if pressed for a 'dislike' list, it would probably include Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Kosovo, and Moldova in some order. And having to deal with La Prefecture in France - I still remember you, lady in yellow! Moral of the story - I'll totally smite via my blogging powers for messing with me!

Finally, because a post deserves some pictures, my mother got me thinking about the five (or so) places/experiences I enjoyed the most over this last leg of the trip - I think she likes lists, so here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Antarctica. Except for the costs, but it's absolutely spectacular... and amazing!

2. Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina - probably the most awesome display of natural power I've seen yet

3. the Salt Flats in Bolivia - they are just so... weird!

4. Carnaval in Rio - pure, utter insanity packed into one, mostly sleepless, week

5. San Blas Archipelago, Panama - this is what 'island paradise' refers to

6. Machu Picchu - no, I don't think it's the #1 attraction in South America as it's so often claimed, but definitely a must see if you are down there.

7. San Pedro and the Atacama desert in Chile - not a cloud in the sky (ever!), but lots of crazy salt formations, flamingos, hot geysers at sunrise, sandboarding

8. The Amazon. Nothing like it...

9. Things to love about Argentina:
- the buses. They serve steak and red wine, and the seat actually reclines into a comfortable bed...
- the wine. And the culture of constantly drinking really, really good red wine
- the steak! Even when not in Argentina - Andre Carne de Res, outside of Bogota, Colombia may have been the best meal I had on the trip. Ceviche definitely comes a close second on the food scale. Cuy (guinea pig - a Cuzco specialty) does not.

Nothing specifically from Buenos Aires even made the list, and yet it was certainly my favorite city in South America.

Yes, it's true all the pictures above were just recycled from previous posts. You are in luck if you want to see more though - I've just uploaded an album of my favorite shots from the six months in Latin America: clicky here

And where do we go from here? Well, I'm thinking San Francisco and Northern California in a few days, followed by an eventual arrival back in Seattle in another couple of weeks, where I think I'll have to, gasp, go to work for a living again!

1 comment:

b mathew said...

Hey welcome back!