As I get ready for my trip to a new continent (Asia) in January, I’m been thinking a lot about my last new continent, South America. I created the Facebook group for my study abroad trip my Sophomore year of college and called it “South America Kicked Our A**es”. The funny part is, now that it has been EIGHT years (I had to actually do the math four times because I can’t believe this) – I can’t actually remember *how* South America kicked our a**es. This is probably a good sign for my upcoming trip and a good thing to keep in mind when traveling – that obviously you’re going to be tired, get lost, fight with your travel companions, wait in lines, and have horrible flight delays, but you’ll remember the good stuff.
Here’s what I remember the best from South America:
Buenos Aires, Argentina was where we stayed (with host families and dogs) and studied (just a little). My favorite sites were La Casa Rosada, the Recoleta Cemetery (I know, it sounds so strange to like a cemetery, but it was so cool!), and a region of the city called La Boca, with the greatest colored houses I’ve ever seen. I 100% credit this trip with why I started thinking about living in NYC because I realized city-living was for me.
The first weekend of our trip, we visited Uruguay. We went to the city of Montevideo and then took a bus to Casapueblo in Punta Ballena (Whale Beach) which is a house with zero 90-degree angles in it, designed by the artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. My favorite thing in Uruguay was the beach in Punta del Este where we saw the quirky sculpture La Mano (The Hand) that is like a giant hand coming out from the ocean as if a person were drowning and reaching up for help.
The next weekend, our group traveled to the border of Argentina and into Brazil to see Iguazú Falls from both countries. These glorious waterfalls kick Niagara Falls’ butt, trust me on that. While there, we rappelled down a small waterfall and ziplined through the rainforest. I was nervous for both because in the few moments right before each adventure, I convinced myself I was scared of heights, even though I’m really not, which is good because I will be riding an elephant when I’m in Thailand, and those things are tall.
Our last weekend was spent traveling through the Andes Mountains, which was my absolute favorite part of the trip. The mountains are so huge, each one different from the next, and the sky was just so perfect that particular weekend. I know it’s cliche, but pictures really don’t do it justice. A trek up a particular mountain let us step into Chile for a few minutes, which was long enough for me to count it on my countries visited list and scratch it off my map.
Having great pictures and memories like this make me forget some of the not-so-awesome parts of the trip. The one bad part I will definitely always remember is the flight back from the Andes. The flight was supposed to take off at 9 pm, we didn’t end up taking off until midnight and didn’t get back into BA until 3 in the morning. That part alone would have been fine if there hadn’t additionally been thunder, lightning, turbulence, and a baby screaming the whole way or if the oxygen masks hadn’t come down, terrifying us all, or if my seat cushion had been attached to my seat.
With that said, if some things are not-so-awesome with my Asia trip, I know I’ll remember what’s important – the good stuff. And there will be plenty of that.