A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: snatterand

After one month back in the real world

You know you are in South America when...

So, I'm back home in Sweden, I'm sad to say. But there are all those sweet memories to hang on to! These are a few of the weird but lovely things that just makes travelling so sweet...!!

//Susanna

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Colourful lady in Cusco

You know you are in South America when...

* ...when you realize that about 50% of the male locals are wearing the same haircut as Maradona did in the late 80's.

* ...when you spend 8 months in countries producing the major part of the World's consumption of coffee - but hardly ever get served anything else than nasty instant coffee.

* ...when you find yourself surrounded by five men with rifles outside the supermarket, "in order to make you feel secure"...

* ...when you are constantly chased by twelve year old shoe shine boys - even though you've been wearing nothing but flipflops for the last couple of months.

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Another South American character - "Up for siesta, anyone?"

* ...when "sin carne" doesn't mean "without meat", but rather "just a little bit of meat" or maybe "it's not meat, it's just ham!".

* ...when a strict and correct business woman in a bank terminates a likewise strict business conversation with an informal "Chao, gorda!" (Buy, fatso!)

* ...when it's considered self-evident that all kind of activity is shut down for siesta for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, even in areas with a subarctic climate.

* ...when a five year old kid comes up to you in the park and asks for a cigarette - for his mum.

* ...when people seem to spend more time in an armchair outside their home, out in the street, than any other place (including their bed, their kitchen or a possible workplace)

* ...when time tables is something that just exist in theory. And where else in the world do you get told that the bank opens 8 o'clock mas o menos (more or less)...?

* ...when busses, banks and internet cafés keep a temperature of roughly 12 degrees Celius, because "now that we have air condition we want it to show!!!"...

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Soccer - it's like religion. Bocca Junior playing (and winning) in Buenos Aires

* ...when you have to ask certain questions (such as where, what time, where to, and how much does it cost?) to at least 7 people, before you can make out some sort of average answer, that might be somewhere near the truth.

* ...when the national sport always is soccer - it doesn't matter that the country in question haven't been anywhere close to the World Cup for the last 30 years or so.

PS. I added some pictures too, pics that really makes me feel "South America". Extremely important now that I'm at home and just have the memories... :(

Posted by snatterand 07:06 Tagged armchair_travel Comments (5)

¿Señor, hay un poco sal?

After spending almost 8 months travelling around Bolivia, we have finally managed to get across the boarder and are now in the country... Also, we have visited one of its major tourist attractions, i.e. Salar de Uyuni and surroundings. Such a cool place! Not only the sparkling white salt plains, but there are geisers, boiling mud pools, colourful flamingos in likewise colourful lakes, weird rocks... Just like one of the better paintings of Salvador Dalí. We spent four days in a jeep on bumby roads, marvelling over all the strange things Mother Nature can come up with - and in a relatively small area!

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Here we are! Cool reflexions, ey?

Might have been one of the coolest and most unusual things we have seen on this trip, though the French guys in our tour group did spoil the experience a little bit... They were 8 in total, the age of our parents, and they spoke French, only French and nothing but French - and they seemed deeply surprised and slightly hurt that the rest of the world didn't understand this superiour language. They obviously did understand some Spanish, but instead of using the opportunity of being in Boliva to learn some more, they actually corrected both us and the guides!!! If we said Buenos dias & Gracias, they said Bonjour & Merci. The only conversation I had with them was during the first two minutes in the jeep, when they had just frowned upon us speaking English.

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Giant cactii on Isla Pescado

-We speak Spanish too! I said (in Spanish), trying to be nice.
French guy: Oh, are you from Spain, how nice!
Me: No, no, we are from Sweden.
French guy: ...?
Me: In Scandinavia!
French guy: No, I don't know that part of Spain. But our daughter is studying in Palermo.
(Palermo?!? Isn't that in Italy?)

End of conversation... Lucky for us, we also had the supernice couple Sean and Ama, from Canada and Holland respectively, in our tour group. Thank you guys, you saved us from going crazy!

Enough of the salty stuff now, Bolivia has a lot more to offer. Both Santa Cruz and Sucre are two really nice cities, though the roads between the two aren't as nice... Pretty much the same story as last time, 3 days stuck in mud, no food, no water.

Also, we have just spent 3 days around Lago Titicaca, in Copacabana and on Isla del Sol (we thought about doing a daytrip to Puno i Peru too, but in the end we decided against it). A truly beautiful and relaxing place, though I spent most of the time in bed due to some evil stomach disease or maybe just the market food? I don't know, but what I do know is that our 8 month South America trip is coming to an end - only 2 weeks left today! And after all the bad roads and stomaches in this country, we can't help feeling a need for Brazilian beaches and fruity fruitdrinks... So tomorrow we areflying (no more Bolivian busses) back to Santa Cruz, and from there it is straight way to Brazil. We'll need that tan when we get back to Sweden in April!

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Cute little llama chewing coca leaves, like the rest of the Bolivians

Love to all
//Susanna

Posted by snatterand 16:22 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Via the Trans-Chaco Highway

- and other Paraguayan adventures

sunny 40 °C

Oh yes, we made it. But it wasn't easy... The busride from Asunción in Paraguay to Santa Cruz in Bolivia, that is supposed to take 25 hours (mas o menos), turned out to be going on for over 3 days! And it was probably the most absurd and unlikely adventure of this trip, so far.

Let's take it from the beginning: the first night wasn't any worse than an ordinary night on an ordinary night bus. Though, we woke up the next morning being stuck in mud - and a lot of mud. We manage to get out of it with help from a tractor, several times, and this was going on over and over again the whole day. But at least we were moving forwards... In the afternoon we were all by a sudden in a caravan of 7 busses, of which the first ones had been travelling three days already - it didn't seem too promising!

We stopped for the night close to the only potable water available for miles and miles. Nobody could or wanted to answer any questions about what was going on, but there was no sign of moving on before the next day, so we just put up our tent on the road (the others had to sleep in the bus).

Next morning everybody seemed hopeful again. We started moving again, through the mud with help from the tractors. Today we were even allowed to drive on the "real" road, that is generally not used, because the owner of the road don't want to expose it to wear. It didn't help for long, though, because around noon we reached a river, 25 meters of running water, across the whole road... The busses didn't have a chance to cross whatsoever. Some people chose to stay by the busses, but we were 50 people that crossed the river (it was "only" waist-high in some places) with our luggage, and continued by foot. Just us, the savannah, the baking sun and 25 kg on the back.

After 2 terrible kilometers we reach a military base, where we got som rest and manage to get a lift with a military truck - but only 6 kilometers to the Bolivian border, since it would have been an official war declaration to cross the border with a military vehicle. There was nothing else to do but continue walking, on a dusty dry (?) road in the merciless afternoon sun. Nobody knew just how far, or where we were actually going, and things started to feel a bit too hopeless.

However, after 6 kilometers more we reached two houses, where we were able to by some food and drinks (though we didn't have any Bolivian money). There was no phone, but someone had went by motorcycle to the next village to get help. We spent the night around the campfire (actually, it was just a candlelight), chatting with the other passengers and drinking beer. Pretty nice, really.

Around 10 p.m. or so we suddenly heard the sound of an engine. A truck was coming to rescue us! After a bit of chaos and dealing about money, we were all standing on the back of the truck, under the sky full of stars... And this is how we spent all night: standing up, 50 people on a small pick-up truck, without sleeping anything (except for short moments, leaning our heads on a bag or on another passenger). After 8 horrible hours we reached Villamonte, the first larger village after the Bolivian border. The morning bus to Santa Cruz was filled up quickly by 50 muddy passengers - so we finally made it!!!

After this last spectacular adventure everything else we did in Paraguay seems... uninteresting, somehow. But we did spend 2 weeks there, and they were 2 good weeks, with trips to the Brazilian (?) rainforest, the Jesuit missions, and a 5-day boat trip up Rio Paraguay on a cargo boat, full of bananas, bags of flour and little ladies. It might have been the first country in South America where we actually got to know the locals, much thanks to the fact that there aren't any tourists there, which makes the people much more open and friendly to gringos. It felt more real, unaffected and authentic than any other country we've been to so far. And the sunsets over Rio Paraguay might have been some of the most beautiful ones I've ever seen...

Didn't manage to insert pictures this time, but check my photo album if you want to!

Love to all
//Susanna

Posted by snatterand 08:55 Archived in Paraguay Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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