After nearly three months of travelling in Latin America (including a quick stopover in Miami) we’ve reached the end of the first section of our trip. During this time we have visited Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras (Roatan only), Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. We can’t believe that almost 90 days have passed already. Here are some of the highlights:
- Panama City, Panama – we loved this beautiful colonial old town and spent a few days gazing up at the grand yet crumbling buildings all around us and getting used to life on the road.
- Bocas del Toro, Panama – we spent almost a week at Bambuda Lodge situated above the ocean enjoying the cool breeze and stupendous views. We occasionally broke this with day trips to the town, a chocolate farm and white sand beaches.
- Lush countryside in Costa Rica – hundreds of shades of green dazzled us especially on the bike ride along the lush Caribbean coast where we heard howler monkeys above us.
- Roatan, Honduras – we love beaches and the beautiful turquoise water and white sand of this Bay Island blew us away. Driving around and stopping for a seafood lunch was bliss.
- San Pedro de Atacama, Chile – this Adobe town is one of our favourites so we decided to go back. Unique and stunning landscapes surround the town. Getting drunk on Pisco Sours around the fire was a highlight.
- Tilcara, Argentina – we loved this lively local town surrounded by red rock canyons, giant cacti, multi-hued mountains and ruins. It was here we had the most delicious steak. The intestines given to us to try weren’t so good…
- El Galope, Uruguay – a very special place to stay amongst rolling fields. Relaxing in front of the fire after local walks, accompanied by red wine and home cooking was very enjoyable.
- Mexico City, Mexico – our new favourite big city. Full of exciting neighbourhoods, good cheap food (tacos on every street corner) and things to do, a week flew by and we didn’t want to leave.
- San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – our new favourite town! It was gorgeous; colourful cobblestone streets leading to shady plazas and magical looking churches and buildings.
- Sayulita, Mexico – we had a fun-filled five nights in this colourful hippy turned tourist beach town. Excellent margaritas, beers, fresh coconuts and fish tacos sealed the deal.
- Stunning views on journeys – some of our favourites were Boquete-Bocas del Toro (lush countryside), Manuel Antonio-Monteverde (amazing green hills and coastline), San Pedro-Tilcara (high altitude desert), Puerto Vallarta-Sayulita (lush jungle).
- Not working and being free every day to do as we please – it’s an amazing feeling and makes us both very happy.
- Planning where to go and what to do, adding in places as we go.
- Despite being on a backpacker budget it is still sometimes affordable to stay in some pretty nice places. Unfortunately the opposite is also true (see Lowlights below).
- Eating out almost all the time.
- Seeing Jack’s Dad in BA.
- Feeling old in Central American hostels.
- Becki’s scary ziplining experience (conversely this was a highlight for Jack).
- Bad hostels/dorms – dirty, dark, damp, plus roomies in dorms (snoring, snorting, sniffling, speaking). Staying in dorms – definitely too old for this now.
- Brexit and the associated increased trip cost.
- Becki’s never ending flu/stomach bug and handlebar palsy.
- 18 hour delay in Miami on the way to Lima (but after complaining got US$400 vouchers so not so bad) and 24 hour San Pedro de Atacama-Tilcara bus delay after sitting on the bus for five hours.
- Jack’s Dad going home early from BA due to illness.
- Stray dogs following/sniffing/barking/jumping at you.
- Losing things (iPod, flip flops, swimming trunks, bank card [Becki says this was pick-pocketed] and lots more).
- Confused looks from locals when we try to say anything more complicated than ‘the bill, please’ in Spanish.
- Overhearing a couple having very energetic sex above us in a wooden bungalow in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
- The taxi driver in Argentina who thought it was absolutely hilarious that I liked cricket and not football .
- Excited to find a restaurant serving Indian curry (after lack of spice in Argentina and Uruguay) but mis-ordered and ended up with curry on sweet pancakes. Not recommended.
- Us Brits are unnecessarily polite. At El Galope in Uruguay the owners asked us every day if we wanted to horse ride. Despite having no intention of going, we didn’t want to hurt their feelings so every day we would respond with “not today, maybe tomorrow”. When a German who was also staying was asked, she replied with a simple “no, I don’t want to” and they never asked her again. We have countless examples of this!
- Our route is unusual. Almost everyone else we met was only travelling in Central and South America, with a few visiting North America as well. We only met one couple who had gone to Australasia, Asia or Africa.
- We love shopping malls, McDonald’s and Starbucks when we are travelling even though we don’t particularly like them at home (with the exception of McDonalds!). Probably because it feels a bit like home in some way and you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Not sure how we did this before without a laptop and phone – they’ve been invaluable – not only for planning but also for watching Netflix and listening to podcasts in bed and on long journeys.
- Uber is everywhere and really cheap (especially UberPool in Miami where it was cheaper than buses) – also in Panama City, San Jose, BA and Mexico City.
- Most people are good. You have to trust people and have faith in human nature as you rely on strangers to help you get around.
- You get used to things quickly and don’t worry about seemingly scary things even if its not what you are used to, like in Central America where men carry machetes everywhere!
Some favourite photos:
Next up: Canada and the United States