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Category Archives: Peru

We end where we began?

The beginning

Summing up La Aventura Project in one post has left us here staring at a blank page for weeks now.  The same questions run through our heads: “What did we do?” and, “What did we accomplish?”  The jump back into life in the USA was quick, and we were immediately left with little time outside of work, back to normal US life.  The world we came from was stuck in the backs of our minds, left to dwell in occasional yearnings and stories misunderstood by their listeners.  When I have a street food craving at 11pm there is no friendly woman selling tortillas across the street.  Saddening, but it’s also nice to have a kitchen.

Here is a quick list of answers to some of the more popular questions we have been getting from friends and family:
Yes, they did in fact have electricity in Latin America.
Yes, we got sick a few times from the food.  But it was all delicious and we don’t regret trying everything!
No, we did not notice any drug cartel activity.
No, we don’t plan on settling down now or buying a house or anything like that.

Trying to make a list of our accomplishments sounded corny but I did it anyways to brag a little bit:
Learned Spanish to an intermediate level in which we could have decent conversations.
Traveled to 10 countries without flying.
Got engaged!
Learned much more about Latin American history than we did at school, more than most North Americans know.
Hiked the Inca Trail.
Built our blog into a resource for other travelers.

Regrets:  I wish we could have done more volunteering, but maybe you could say that we were more like scouts, examining the playing field.  We did have two stays at WWOOF farms, one in Colombia and another in Ecuador.  It would be fun to check out some more WWOOF farms in Central America someday.

The travel at first was much easier than I expected.  The roads were paved and the buses as nice as the Megabus that we took in the United States.  But as we entered Bolivia our luck was about the change.  It was there that we experienced transportation strikes and washed out highways.  Bolivia was by far the most “out there” country we visited.

La Aventura Project started as a film project and a longing to escape from it all.  Along the way we wrote more and more and eventually were able to use the website to make the adventure last longer.  We passed through phases of preferring writing over filming and vis-a-versa.  Near the end we really dreaded the thought of returning to the grind of working class society.  Here everyone makes little problems seem like the end of the world.  There there were real problems.

The future: We will continue adding to the website and will be posting hostel reviews by guest writes.  (More info if you are interested.)  Our goal is for the website to grow and continue as we start posting our travel tales from the States.  We’ll be beginning the US section of the website in September when we take a road trip across the northwest in the process of moving to California!  We’re also working hard to edit the documentary and we’ll post updates on that front as it gets done.

Ending where we began: So now we find ourselves in much the same place we were in when the seed of the idea for La Aventura Project began.  Making the most of the US and working hard to save money for future adventures.  Dreaming and trying to decide which continent to conquer next.  Asia?  Africa?  Europe?  South again to finally make it all the way to Patagonia?  We have no idea where we should go, but luckily we have awhile to decide as we work to replenish our bank accounts.  The only sure thing is that we can’t stay here for too long, so una nueva aventura is unquestionably on the horizon.

“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Christopher McCandless

Chau chicos.

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The Final Superlatives

We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure.  It’s hard though!  It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!

Days in South and Central America: 217

Dollars Spent: $10,586.14

Average Dollars per day: $70.45

Countries Visited: 10

Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)

Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)

Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua

Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia

Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans

Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala

Most American Retirees: Panamá

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua

Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica

Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú

Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua

Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador

Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!

Write for La Aventura Project/Stay in hostels for free

A big announcement today, everyone!  Since we are back in the US now, working real jobs again (boo) and editing the documentary, we don’t have as much to post here!  Thus, we are looking for current travelers in South or Central America to write hostel reviews for us and keep our directory growing!  If you are a good writer (in English), good photographer, and would like to stay in hostels and hotels for FREE, please contact us about an opportunity to write for our website.  We will also gladly feature a link to your own personal blog or website on all of your hostel reviews.  Again, we are only looking for travelers currently in South or Central America to review hostels in those regions.  Leave a comment or email us at laaventuraproject AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in more information about this awesome project!

Tasty Tasty Tap Water

I thought I would take a quick second to talk about where we have been told that the tap water is drinkable and our experiences with drinking it.  As we travel further, we will add to the list.

Bolivia:  We did not drink any tap water in Bolivia and would not recommend doing so.

Colombia:  We drank the tap water in the following cities:  Medellin – The water there was perfect and tasted pretty good.  Have not heard of anyone getting sick from it.  Bogotá – The water didn’t give us any problems but didn’t taste perfect and we were told that it bothers some peoples’ stomachs.  Cartagena – we drank tons of tap water there but one time I did have a pain that felt water related.  Taganga: We drank the tap water there but my stomach did feel a little weird a few times.  San Agustín – The water was pretty good and we had no problems.  Cali – We filled up our water bottle in the bathroom there and had no problems.  Popayan – We filled up a bottle in the bathroom at the bus terminal and had no problems.  Basically all the cities and population centers seemed fine.  However, out in the country and the places where the bus lets you off to eat lunch are questionable and you should always ask a local before doing anything stupid.

Ecuador:  The water there is not good.  Don’t drink it.  Baños – As of now the water is not safe but in the next few years they hope to have a new purification system running.  I did drink some water one night in Chugchilan when I was really desperate but it wasn’t a good idea.

Panamá:  We drank the tap water in Panamá City and had no problems.  Don’t drink the water in Bocas del Toro.

Perú:  We did not drink any tap water in Perú and would not recommend doing so.

Since we are always trying to save money, we try to buy as little bottled water as possible.  We always boil some in our hostel kitchens (at least three minutes of hard boiling to purify it) when we get a chance and if someone tells us we can drink from the sink we always do.  Yes, sometimes this comes back to haunt us but with the money we save I think its worth it.  Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

2/3 Highlights!

So, due to our crazy schedule changes, we’re actually past the 2/3 mark on our trip :-(.  But, since we just left South America and are heading to Central, we figured now would be the most logical time to do our “Close-enough-to-2/3rds” superlatives!

Days in South America:  168

Dollars Spent (not including flight):

Countries Visited: 4

Books Read: 19 (Carrie), 12 (Zach)

Number of shirts left: 6 (Carrie), 3 (Zach)

Superlatives

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Snack: corn/cheese pancake thingies from Ecuador

Favorite Beverage: Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia

Most Craved Food Currently: orange cheese (Carrie), sour cream (Zach)

Things We’re Most Excited For in USA:  friends, Netflix, cooking, baking (Carrie), telling stories to family and friends (Zach)

Most Annoying Phenomenon: staring people

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Favorite Activity: still The Inca Trail with The Southwest Circuit as a close second.

Nicest People: still Colombians

Favorite Big City: Lima, Perú

Favorite Small City: Cuzco, Perú

Dumpiest Town: Uyuni, Bolivia

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Enjoyable Hike: Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Most Miserable Hike: Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador

Most Controversial Post: Happy Birthday Blog

Worst Addiction: Fried chicken

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Hottest Place: Colombian coast

Most Mosquitoes: Bolivian Amazon

Biggest Disappointment: Taganga, Colombia

Biggest Ripoff: Bus from Medellin to Santa Marta, Colombia during Easter week=130,000 COP ($70) per ticket

Still Our Favorite Country: Ecuador!!!!!!!  We love you!!!!

Goals for Central America

1. Not sweat to death!

2. Show Zach’s friend Steve a good time in Nicaragua!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

5. Make it home safely, and with a little bit of money left.

10 Tips For Cheaper Travel in South America

While on the road for extended periods of time, it’s more important than ever to make consistently good economic decisions in order to keep your trip going as long as possible.  Here are a few tips and things we have learned in our months living out of our backpacks.

1:  Try to find hostels with kitchens and cook at least one meal per day.  Sometimes cooking doesn’t save you a whole lot over what you can find for cheap on the streets, but there is a small difference, and it’s usually healthier than the cheapest street food!

2:  If you do eat out, try to make it at lunch time.  You can usually find “almuerzos” or set lunches that are the cheapest and largest portions.  Prices generally go up for dinner time.  Also, places with gringo food are ALWAYS more expensive and usually unsatisfying (just never as good as the “real thing” back home)!

3:  Stay at hostels that aren’t in the guidebook.  Most of the time these places are just as nice as the ones that everyone else is staying in.  However, lots of times these spots will do a bit of bargaining as soon as you say something about the price being too high.  Tell them that you are “going to look at other places and might come back later” and see how low they will go.

4:  Never get in a taxi until the driver tells you the price.  We have made this mistake too many times.  A simple “Cuanto cuesta?”  in advance will save you tons when it’s all added up.  Also, always ask a local how much it should cost before even flagging down a cab and then don’t settle until you get the right price.

5:  If you have a tent, use it.  Camping is super cheap if you can find the places to do it.  Look around, sometimes you can find campgrounds with kitchens and everything.

6:  Steer clear of international buses.  It’s almost always cheaper to take the domestic bus to the border town, taxi across, then pick up another bus on the other side.

7:  Wash your clothes in the sink.  Laundry services are cheap but they add up over time.  Lots of hostels have signs telling you that it’s not allowed but just be sneaky.  Wear your jeans in the shower and scrub them there.

8:  Drink water and boil it yourself when you get the chance.  Soda and beer are expensive.  Bring a water bottle on your trip and boil the water in your hostel’s kitchen.

9:  Volunteer, especially if you are staying one place for an extended period (over 1 week).  There are thousands of volunteering opportunities throughout the continent.  Some are completely free, some cost a little.  Find something that you enjoy and help people out while getting some help yourself.

10:  Couchsurfing is amazing and if you haven’t tried it yet, you are missing out.  It’s all over the world and we have never had a bad experience.  Even if you don’t need a place to crash, check it out for locals that can show you around new cities.

¡La musica de Sud America!

We haven’t yet talked about the new songs and artists we’ve been exposed to during our journey.  Truth be told, we’re not huge fans of most popular Latin American music since most of it is so dance-oriented and we like more mellow stuff.  But, there are still a few songs that we can’t help but love!  Here’s a sampling of what we hear every day…

First, the #1 song in most of South America right now.  We heard this multiple times EVERY DAY in every country, despite the fact that it’s actually a Brazilian Portuguese song!  But it is super catchy and fun to sing along to in bars, so it kind of grew on us…

Next, my favorite song.  It’s not played too much and when we looked up the video we realized that’s probably because it’s from the ’80s, by some Mexican singer.  But it’s still awesome.

A Colombian band we were introduced to by our Couchsurfing host in Medellin.  They have a really unique cumbia/rap style, and they apparently played at South by Southwest last year.  Takin’ over the world!

And another really popular Brazilian pop song.  It’s also super catchy.  Funny we learned so many Portuguese songs without even going to Brazil!

This is by no means an exhaustive summary.  We haven’t included any traditional indigenous music here; maybe we’ll write about that later.  But there you have it, a brief sampler of the songs that are going to stay stuck in our heads for a long time!