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!!!!!!!!!!!!

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)


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.

The Cañon del Colca and Our Big Day

We left Arequipa in the morning and the road worked its way northward, past Volcán El Misti and the other snow-covered peaks, and out into the open country.  There were many local people on our bus, which is normal, but the women were dressed differently than how we were used to, more colorfully with tons of small detail stitched into their dresses and hats.  The road took us to higher and higher elevations until we were driving through slushy snow at almost 5000 meters.

Busing it through the snow!

We made our way over the top and saw our first glimpses into the Cañon del Colca, and the town of Chivay set out beautifully beneath us.  That bus ride will be remembered as one of the most beautiful.

Chivay at the start of the Cañon del Colca.

We stayed at a nice place in town.  Chivay is very quiet and pretty small, although it’s the biggest town in the canyon.  As soon as you enter the canyon at Chivay, you are required to buy a tourist ticket for 70 Soles per person.  We tried to avoid buying it, which we were able to get away with in Chivay, but when we went farther into the canyon they got us.

Church in central Chivay
A traditionally dressed woman sits on a public chair in the style of her own hat.

On our second day in Chivay, we decided to take a hike east of town to the hotsprings and towns beyond.  The Lonely Planet said that it would be an all-day hike, but beautiful the entire way.  The hotsprings were 3km from town but were 15 Soles per person so we decided to pass them by.  The landscape was magical and weather perfect for exercise.

Rio del Colca

Quinoa guarded by a traditionally-dressed scarecrow.

We followed the directions in the guidebook and soon found ourselves on a rutted road, then a simple trail, and soon we were having trouble finding the trail at all.  With a short supply of water and no food, Carrie was able to convince me that we should turn around.  This turned out to be a good choice because we found out later that we were headed in completely the wrong direction (thanks Lonely Planet!).  We were both grumpy for a few minutes after turning back and losing the trail several times but, after looking at the scenery around us, we soon started to cheer up.  I remembered the ring that I had been carrying in my pocket for some time, since Cuzco.  I thought, “This is the spot!” as Carrie and I stopped to drink some water.  I grabbed her hands and asked her if she would marry me as I got on one knee.  Tears came to our eyes.  “Are you serious?  Is this really it?  Yes!  YES!” she replied.

Proposal reenactment with the camera on a crooked rock.

The rest of the hike was spent in a blur of happiness.  Once back to Chivay, we decided it was a great time to splurge, so went to one of the buffets in town.  Smiles all around.

My new fiancée!

After dinner we had a blast calling our mothers and changing our personal information on Facebook.  “It’s better than my birthday!” said Carrie, stunned at all the Internet congratulations we got from friends.  That night we went out for some drinks in the land of pisco.

Pisco sour and an Arequipeña

The next day, still blissfully happy, we headed farther into the canyon, 2.5 hours by bus to the smaller village of Cabanaconde.  This is where the canyon really opens up.

On the road to Cabanaconde near Cruz del Condor
Cañon del Colca

More stunning scenery and beautiful hiking abound in the sleepy town of Cabanaconde.  Deeper than the Grand Canyon, Cañon del Colca is a very different canyon but also a once in a lifetime experience.  It was the perfect place to ask the big question and start this new chapter of our relationship!

Arequipa, lovely and livable

Arequipa was exactly what we needed after out time in the jungle and our 60-hour bus marathon.  Coming from Bolivia, Peru seems ultra-modern and paradisiacal.  There’s fast Internet!  There’s soft serve ice cream!  What a dreamland.  We stayed for two nights in Arequipa, taking leisurely strolls around town and enjoying the fantastic architecture and mountain views.  Arequipa seemed to us a very modern, well-off, and livable city.  We’d love to go back and spend more time!

Arequipa's Plaza de Armas
Volcán El Misti behind the Plaza de Armas
City street
Cool tree/totem pole in Yanahuara neighborhood
Night view from our hostel's rooftop