A mere three months ago I was hopping on a flight to LA to start my journey not knowing what was going to happen along the way. Now as my journey is over I am again sitting here in my basement typing at my computer just as I had before and my travels almost feels like a surreal dream. Thankfully as I review my pictures all the fond memories from those special places flood back to me. Such as the sounds and smells of the jungles as they come alive in the evenings or the warm Caribbean breeze in the morning as you are enjoying the sunrise. The past couple days have been a definite change to my routine in comparison to the past three months, but it is obviously nice to be home once again.
It's official I am back in Canada once again. I arrived last night and have been quickly trying to re-adjust to life back North. It has been great to see my niece, Naomi, for the first time. I should be back on the Island sometime tonight to complete my final stage of transition back to life in North America even though I realize it may take some time.
It is unfortunate I know, but my journey is drawing to a close. That means this will be my last post from Latin America. I am sure in the upcoming days as I arrive home I will submit a few more photos and add a few more stories that I thought would be best left omitted while I was still on the road. I do hope you have enjoyed a few of the pictures and stories that I have been able to regale from this part of the world. In closing I would like to thank every one of you for your prayers as I have been away exploring God's marvelous creation.
I had a bit of time between buses Monday so I went onto Google Earth and located a few spots I have visited recently. To check them out copy and past all the numbers into the search in google earth (or www.maps.google.com in Satellite of Hybrid mode) and you should be able to fly there in seconds verses the hours/days it took me by land, sea and air (most are not high quality photos so you most likely will need to zoom out).
Monero Glacier -50.4752426056 -73.062313277 ,
Torres del Paine -50.9866904668 -73.0019928194 ,
Ushuia -54.8142662849 -68.3918594315 ,
Iguazu Falls -25.6910360935 -54.4421379091 ,
Bolivian Salt Flats -20.181012 -67.467041 ,
Lake Titicaca floating Islands -15.81992 -69.970722 ,
and something that everyone should recognize 46.264273,-63.163651 .
I am off for my final long haul bus ride to Santiago (18 hours). Hopefully should arrive Thursday morning so I can catch my flight back to North America that evening.
I hope everyone is having a great Easter. I am very thankful for the relaxing day I had yesterday with lots of time to sit and read. It was a nice break from the pace I have been trying to maintain lately. "He is no here, for He has risen, just as He said." Matt 28:6a
The Moreno Glacier in the Glacier National Park, Chile was an impressive chunk of ice. The Moreno Glacier is said to be one of the most active glaciers in the world moving up to 2 meters per day. This means lots of calving which is always truly fun to watch. Evey time these 60 meter high walls of ice start breaking off to these deafening cracks of thunder then the impact as it hits the water to produce a great surge and billowing clouds of mist is definitely impressive.
Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is an incredibly beautiful area. I could spend weeks in places like this just enjoying the scenery and trekking around. Unfortunately I only had a couple days in the area so talking to other travelers who were fresh of the trail I was trying to find a few of the best places to visit during my short time in the park. However with every person I talked to they told me I had to visit Valle Frances, but that I could not miss Mirrador los Torres. On looking at the map I was like yikes to view both places it would be over 55 Km and I only had from 1:00 Thursday when the boat drops you off till 2:00 Friday when the bus picks the trekkers up off the trail. Thankfully somehow I was able to make it to both amazingly incredible spots (It did take many hours hiking in the dark with my lamp last night and again this morning with a thankfully bright full moon -- as can be seen from the last picture -- taken while I was laying in awe in my sleeping bag).
I had a great day yesterday hiking around the Ushuaia area. Overnight there was a light dusting of snow which made for some wonderful pre-dawn hiking in the fresh powder. As the sun rose (not till after 8) I was high enough in the hills to look out over the town below with the snow all a sparkle and the trees all in their fall colours. The glacier I was hiking to was not huge, but the area was beautiful with a great panorama of the beagle channel. In the afternoon I made it out to the National Park in the area for some more incredible hiking.
TierradelFuego National Park has many wonderful hikes (a few of which I was able to venture). As you can see from the pictures the fall colours were out in force (well as much force as the predominant beech tree can give). Another notable thing about the park were the thousands and thousands of rabbits that were introduced by the first settlers to the area. They have taken over the park. If I was a fox I would definitely move there for some easy hunting. The park lies in close proximity to the Chilean boarder so I unofficially made into, however briefly, the final new country of my journey (country number 17). After the full day of hiking (around 35 Km) I was definitely glad to get back to my hostel for a good night of sleep.
Should I feel like I am getting soft as I am getting farther into my travels? Instead of an 18 hour bus/boat ride I took a one hour flight today from Ushuaia to Rio Gallios. I did actually intend on land traveling it, but the bus was thankfully full so I was looking for other options so I would not lose a valuable day. The agent I was booking with said for another 30 pesos ($12 CDN) I could fly. So this actually worked very well with my schedule and puts me a day ahead of my plans, which I am very happy about. (but I am going to lose that day due to my poor connection to my next city in two days time). I'm excited to be able to get out hiking in Torres del Paine national park in the morning for two days. If the weather holds it should be a magnificent trek.
After over a week of mainly big cities I am glad to get back to the mountains and small villages for my last 10 day stretch. The flight into Ushuaia was marvelous with all the snow capped mountains and dramatic coast line. Walking out of the airport and being able to inhale the cool clean air along with the beautiful views that surrounded me on every side was just what I needed. I'm excited to explore this area more extensively. It was also so nice that Colby (http://www.theholmesargentina.com/) picked me up from the airport last night so I could spend the night at their place before I continued on this morning to Ushuaia.
Visiting the Sawatskys was definitely the highlight of Sao Paulo, but while I was there I had a number of opportunities to tour around the city. One notable stop was to the University of Sao Paulo to visit the Butanta Institute which is home to over 1000 snakes. I saw but a portion of that number, which was more than enough for me (as a kid I really didn't like snakes and I am still not to fond of them -- not about to get one as a pet at least). Another enjoyable event was trying to help out at an all nighter for the middle school that Cary is principle of. I only made it to 4am before I headed back to their house for a couple hours of shut eye. Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro.
I had a great time with the Sawatskys and around Sao Paulo. My flight number is being called so I only have a few moments, but Rio has been an interesting city. Some nice beaches with lots of people. It reminded me of Florida beaches a lot (Fort Lauderdale and Miami especially) except for a few impressive cliffs. It would have been a really cool spot before it was developed. Final Call.
After an interested day of trying to figure out the going abouts of the Sao Paulo Metro system I finally made it to the station closest to the Sawatskys . When I got off I was greeted by a North American looking mall that I had to pay a quick visit to then took a short taxi ride to meet Cary, Shannon and the family just arriving home (which worked out well since I had only emailed them a couple hours before saying that I was in town - officially I was not suppose to be in town for a day or two). It is great to be able to visit with them and to see their new surroundings (they work as great Portuguese translators\teachers as well since my only word I know is - Oi - hey).
GargantadelDiablo from the Argentinian side. My head in front of GargantadelDiablo (I did have two pictures taken by another random tourist, but I am guessing he must not have pushed the button all the way down since I can not find the pictures anyplace on my memory card). Some other random falls at Iguazu I have no idea of the name of.
Iguazu Falls are something like Niagara falls (for those who have been to Niagara), just placed in the jungle and stretched over a much more vast of an area which makes for many more falls along with the falls all dropping into a slightly deeper canyon. When I have an opportunity I will try to post a few pictures which will be able to describe themselves. Apart from that how can I describe them, there is a lot of water that falls a good amount of distance to produce a thunderous noise and a huge cloud of mist (along with thousands of tour bus tourists pushing to get a good photo and view). OK, don´t go by that description wait for the pictures. I have to say the falls were amazing, but after being to the fairly secluded Angel Falls in Venezuela (along with the multitude of amazing other falls that you can play around and in, in that same area) it is hard to say that I was blown away by Iguazu. I still however had to simply stand there in amazement at their great power. I do not know how anyone would be able not to stand there in awe. On a more humours note I got stung by at least a half dozen stinging wasp type things (I will leave the details on how I managed to do this for later stories). My fingers and hands swelled all up like balloons (well, maybe not that bad, but it felt like it). One of my hands is still tender and slightly swollen. (Pictures of the Iguazu to follow shortly)
It has been great to spend some time with the Holmes over the past few days. Colby (Mr. Holmes) showed me around Buenos Aires (including the Mac Store) then took me out to eat at a great Argentinian Steak (and various other delicious meats) house yesterday. They made me feel right at home and if I had more time I would have loved to stay for a few more days, but I am off for Iguazu falls. Like I mentioned earlier in a comment it was definitely great to be able to attend their church service as well (even if I only understood a few words here and there) it was great to be in fellowship with a group of believers. I am however still trying to get use to the greetings and farewells they give here in Argentina (The kiss on the cheek). Check out the Holmes new blog we got started last night at www.theholmesargentina.com .
I had a great rest in Peru for about a week of minimal travel so I am currently making up for that with 4 hours of bus and 15 hours of Train yesterday from La Paz and across Bolivia to Argentina. This morning I got off the train to make my way through customs. At first sight it appeared like I would be waiting for hours and hours (Bolivian side had like 50 people in line with no officer and Argentina side had like 150 people in line with one officer), but being a tourist you are viewed as having money or something since some officers shuffled us to the front of the line on both sides of the boarder to get our stamps ( I kindof felt bad as it seemed like I was butting). From there I had 5 hours on the bus and am currently trying to find a nice steakhouse before I find a spot on another bus for the 20 some odd hour haul to Buenos Aires. The scenery has been very different over the past 24 hours (huge lagoons, salt flats and enormously vast arid areas of land). I can truly see why Bolivia is called the Tibet of South America (at least from what I know of Tibet). Have a great weekend.