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Posts Tagged ‘3 month trip report’

The 3 Month Trip Report

THREE MONTHS!! Wow. It’s pretty crazy to think that we’ve been gone for three entire months. At times it seems just like it was yesterday that we were hugging our families at Lambert and saying “Adios!” and wondering and dreaming and imagining how this trip was going to shape up. And at other times, it seems like we have been gone forever. It’s an odd feeling, and I imagine it will be the same for the next nine months, until all of a sudden, poof, it’s October of 2009, and we are home.

We’ve been talking and reflecting quite a bit lately about our time so far, especially with the 3 month milestone approaching and realizing that the trip is a quarter of the way finished. Also, with our time winding down in Buenos Aires and the planning in full swing for the next few stages, I thought it would be fun to just write about random experiences and things that have happened. I have also decided on a word limit on this post since I tend to be a bit wordy at times (even though it still clocks in at over 2700 words, sorry).

So here are 30 words or less on 40 different topics covering the 92 days we have been gone.

1. Favorite city: In two words, Buenos Aires. OK, so I have 25 remaining words (this is going to be harder than I thought, damn, new rule, anything written inside parentheses doesn’t count towards the 30 words). The vibe here is great, and it’s one of the most laid back places I’ve been to, especially considering there’s 13mil people here.

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2. Best place to chill: Cafayate, Argentina. Small town. Beautiful surroundings. Wineries. Cheap food and places to stay. Great chocolate stores. I wish we could have stayed longer.

3. Place I wished we had air conditioning the most: Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. We took 9 cold showers between the two of us the first day we were there. It sucked. It was like the hottest days in August in St. Louis with no AC. We are spoiled (which brings me to #4).

4. Most spoiled I’ve felt: Buenos Aires. It’s going to be rough moving on. Going back to hostels and shared kitchens and bathrooms, ugh, gotta start preparing now.

5. Best thing we brought: Computer. We debated back and forth about bringing it. So glad we did. Much easier to keep up with this, get our pictures uploaded, and skype with our families (Also, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve found a site to watch playoff football).

6. Thing I wish I would have brought but didn’t: Another pair of shoes. I have some hiking/walking shoes, and a pair of flip flops. My flip flops aren’t going to last much longer. I’m going to need to add a third pair.

7. Something we should have left at home: Megan’s shoes (I was brilliant with my packing, if I do say so myself). But my wife brought these shoes that give her blisters every time she wears them. Worthless (on a side note, now she wants the original shoes she bought right before we left but left at home because she found and bought a different pair, you know, the ones that are worthless).

8. Hardest thing about being away(family-wise): Though the holidays were tough, not seeing our niece and nephew is the toughest. No offense to the rest of our family and friends, but none of you are really going to change much over the next year. Not so for Johnny and Julia. They change daily, and they are going to be completely different the next time we see them.

5-30-2008-10

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9. Something I lost that I’m still angry about: So I have these eyedrops from Walgreen’s that I use all the time that are awesome. Sure, they burn the eyes and blind you for a minute, but then I swear you see better. I lost them about a month ago. I still bitch about it.

10. Favorite Restaurant: This is really, really hard. El Desnivel (Buenos Aires). It’s a steakhouse with one of the best steaks I ever had (disclaimer, I started writing this post a few days ago, before we made our own steaks we bought from a local butcher). And a steak is about $9 (and a bottle of wine for less than that). We’ve been there twice (and we are definitely going at least once more). Argentina is awesome.

11. Favorite Restaurant (#2): (Sorry, I couldn’t pick just one) Star of India (La Paz). Great Indian restaurant. Really authentic, good, spicy Indian food. Great Naan. Can’t wait to actually go to India.

12. Favorite street food: (We’ve eaten a lot of street food to keep the budget down, some of which is great, some of which messes with your digestive system for a month) Falafel (Rurrenabaque, Bolivia). We ate this falafel from an American family who lives in Rurre. They have 8 kids and have raised them all in Bolivia. The dad was a bit wacko though. I made the mistake of asking him what made him bring his family to Bolivia, and 30 minutes later, he was inviting us to come over and watch conspiracy theory videos with them. We declined. But they made a mean falafel. YUM! (and yeah, I know it was over 30 words, and I don’t care!)

13. Favorite Bolivia moment: Hands down the Salt Flats tour. Magical. Spiritual. Beautiful. Amazing. It exceeded all expectations I had for it, and my expectations were HUGE going in.
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14. Favorite food: Steak. In Argentina. So good. So juicy. So well cooked.So good with red wine. So cheap. So big. (So while all the steak we had out at restaurants has been great, we went to a local butcher suggested to us by our Spanish teacher.  The pics below are from our dinner with those steaks, which is up there for the best steaks we’ve ever eaten)

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steak-night-5

steak-night-4

15 and 16. Best new foods I’ve tried that I had never had before:

1. Lomito-I’ve had all the ingredients before, but never together. Start with a piece of french bread, a slice of beef loin, a piece of ham, cheese, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, mustard, and hot sauce (I’m glad I don’t have a scale in BA, cause I’ve had lots of these since I’ve been to Argentina.

2. Mollejas (Sweetbreads)-had these for the first time the other night at El Desnivel. Sweetbreads are the thymus gland (of either lamb, beef, or pork-no idea what we had). Sounds gross. Really good.

(on a side note, I have also tried kidneys, blood sausage, and intestines. Kidneys weren’t bad, the blood sausage had a good taste, but the texture was a little weird, and intestines were not very good)

17, 18, and 19. Most fun nights we’ve had

1. New Year’s Eve. I wrote about it last week. Just a fun, great night in which we got a chance to spend an evening with a family from Buenos Aires, and they were some of the nicest and most accommodating people we’ve ever met.

2. First night in Argentina (Salta). Long bus ride from Bolivia. Tough time finding a hostel. But we ended up drinking some red wine, then heading out for more drinks at local time (about 2am). Drank Budweiser’s and watched some good, local music.

celebrating-our-arrival-in-argentina

4am in Argentina, gotta love it!

3. Halloween (at the South American Explorer’s Club Clubhouse in Cusco). Only 2 weeks into the trip. Hadn’t really met too many people, yet. Hadn’t really done much socializing, yet. Great start. Met some great people.  Had a blast (as you can see from our late night photo shoot).

One of Megan's infamous late night self portraits

One of Megan's infamous late night self portraits

America's Next Top Model-Male Edition

America's Next Top Model-Male Edition

20. Place we’re going that I’m most excited about: Colombia (and it’s not even close). New Zealand, Patagonia, Thailand, India, all up there, but this tells you how many great things we’ve heard about Colombia. Every person who’s been there said it was their favorite. Can’t wait (and so, so, so happy we added it back in to the itinerary).

21. Thing I’m most proud of (concerning the trip): The fact that we’re under budget so far. Most people have said that their budget has been blown up. Not ours. We’re averaging a little over $70/day, total (this includes everything except our flights- which is a separate budget-but it does include accommodation, food, transportation, and anything we’ve done).

22. Thing I’ve missed the most (not people): Food. We’ve had great food since we’ve been gone, but I still miss food from home. St. Louis pizza especially. And home cooking (even though we have gotten a taste of that in BA with our own kitchen, it’s still not the same) The bright side is that we haven’t had fast food in over 3 months.

23. Thing I’ve missed the most (#2): Good beer. I love beer. And quite frankly, the beer here sucks. What I would do right now for a well poured Guinness. Or a Schlafly Oatmeal Stout, or a Coffee Stout. And don’t even get me started on the fact that I missed out on their Christmas Ale (and no, I don’t have a problem).

It's not Guinness or Schlafly, but the King will do just fine

It's not Guinness or Schlafly, but the King will do just fine

24. Thing I’m surprised I haven’t missed (as much as I thought I would): Sports. I love sports, and it helps that I’m able to easily keep up with everything in the internet age (and the fact that I’ve found sports websites and have been able to watch some NFL playoffs and the College Football National Championship game and all the soccer I want). But I haven’t been pining for it like I thought I would (we’ll see if this is still the case at the 9 month mark when baseball season is in full swing).

In my Sunday element, even in Buenos Aires

In my Sunday element, even in Buenos Aires

24. Local custom I’ve most easily adapted to: Eating dinner late-Argentina. And I mean really late. If you go out at 9-10pm, you’re early (10-11 on the weekends). We were at an Indian restaurant last Friday night, got there at 10:30, left after midnight, and people were still streaming in when we left. Weird.

25. Event I’m going to miss most about not being home the next 9 months: PHISH AT THE FABULOUS FOX THEATRE!!!!! I know I’m a brat, and it’s one thing that I’m missing Phish’s comeback shows, but it’s a whole different one to know that they are playing a 5000 seat venue in my city this summer and I won’t be there. I freaked out when I saw summer tour. (side note-the baseball All Star game would have been first a week ago, but this trumps everything–good thing I have money put away for their New Year’s Eve show next year, wherever it may be)

26. 5 times in Buenos Aires: The amount of times my wife has been catcalled (that I’ve heard) since we’ve been here. They aren’t shy about whistling and yelling. Even if there’s an intimidating guy with her (yeah, that’s right, I’m intimidating–actually, you know what, I have noticed this has happened more often since I’ve shaved my beard, maybe it needs a comeback?)

27. Weirdest assumptions about me by locals: Being mistaken for another nationality. I have been mistaken for Dutch, French, and Spanish so far since we’ve been in Argentina. Don’t know why, can’t explain it, I’ve never fooled anyone before.

28. Biggest surprise about the local people: Their knowledge of American politics. From the high school girl in Cusco who recited every American President to the local shopkeepers who give us a fist pump about Obama, so many people have wanted to talk American politics with us when they realized we weren’t from Holland.

29. Weirdest (and best) fad (make sure to read the caption underneath the picture and take part in our contest): One word. Mullet. In Argentina. They love it down here. Between that and the tights on the women under miniskirts and the tight jeans on the men and the times I’ve heard “Billy Jean” on the radio, one would think it’s 1986 around here. It’s awesome (and I’ve been telling Megan that all I would have to do is cut the front and top of my hair, and I’d fit it just perfectly).

Create your own funny caption in the comments section-winner gets 2 free beers from us when we get home

Create your own funny caption in the comments section-winner gets a postcard from one of our next super cool destinations.

30. Best save: I hung my towel out of the balcony to dry, it fell off onto the downstairs neighbors’ balcony. Went down there, twice, no answer, left a poorly written note in Spanish, never heard back. Ingenuity won out with a broomstick and squigy. Here’s the picture (you can imagine the rest):

Who said St. Mary's boys aren't intelligent?

Who said St. Mary's boys aren't intelligent?

31: Themed party I’m most excited about throwing when we get home: Empanadas!! They are a staple of Argentine cuisine. We’ve made them several times now. And we’ve talked about all the different types we can make. So hold me to it. We’re hosting an empanada party at our house when we get back (on a side note, when we were in Cafayate, one of the most fun nights we had was when we went to a small restaurant for dinner that only served empanadas–all different types, it was awesome–actually, maybe we can open an all empanada restaurant in St. Louis when we return, hmmmmm???).

32. Best book I’ve read: Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. The first of his two epics. I’ve read them both on this trip. What a great book. Perfect for traveling, too. It’s 1000 pages, it moves quickly, and you don’t want to put it down (perfect for our multiple, epic 15+ hour bus rides we’ve taken–which brings me too…).

33. Worst experience of the trip: It hasn’t all been rainbows and puppy dogs for us. Our bus trip from Coroico to Rurrenabaque. 18 hours. Not a single paved road. Overnight. Sheer cliffs to one side of the road. Last row of the bus. No sleep. Ugh. Just horrible.

34. Wilson: I just wanted to mention our dog cause he’s awesome and he’s the best dog ever. And I miss him terribly. And I can’t wait to see him and pet him again. That’s all, just had to give him a shout out.

35. Dumbest thing we’ve done: World’s Most Dangerous Road. It was great. I loved it and thought it was really exciting, but really, we paid a lot of money to ride our bikes down a road where there’s a death count for the year at the top. Not the smartest thing we’ve done.

wmdr-2

36. Best dessert: Dulce de Leche. Think really creamy caramel. That’s dulce de leche. And it’s everywhere. The best is the dulce de leche flavored ice cream, combined in the same container with dark chocolate ice cream (and yes, I have gotten fatter in the most recent pictures, with this being a key ingredient in my obesity).

37. Reminder-teenage boys are idiots everywhere: We rode bikes last week at a Nature Reserve in BA. Some idiot teenager was screwing around with his friend on his bike and ended up crashing into Megan. No big injuries (a nasty bruise on her leg was about it), but still an annoyance. So just in case anyone was wondering, no matter the culture, teenage boys are idiots (even though this is the case, I do still miss all those idiots I teach).

38. Remembering Grandpa: (this merits more than 30 words) As anyone who knows me knows, I lost my Grandpa last June, rather suddenly. I still think about him often, and there have been several reminders of him throughout the trip. In Lima, the second day we were there, we heard some music coming from a park. We walked up and saw a huge group of people in a dance party, mostly senior citizens, all having a great time. I couldn’t help but think of him. And most recently in La Boca, seeing the statues of the accordion players, all the bands having accordion players, and the tango and waltzes we saw, again, Grandpa, you were on my mind. I miss you tons!

39. Examples of how our standards have changed: The following statements have been uttered by us at some point on the trip. (regarding a stray dog in the park) “It isn’t that mangy.” (After Megan stepped in one of the piles of dog poop that are on every sidewalk of every block in Buenos Aires) “At least it’s only on the bottom of my shoe.” (Regarding bathrooms, at various points-and yes, the exclamation points accurately depict our excitement at the time and are in chronological order) “Not bad at all, it had a toilet seat!!” “They had soap in that one!!!!” “Soap and paper towels!!!!!!”

40. Most memorable moment so far: Machu Picchu. I can still vividly remember the moment I walked through the Sun Gate and saw it for the first time. It was one of the coolest and most memorable moments of my life. Just an incredible, beautiful, mystical, and magical place. As I said in my post about it over 2 months ago, I really think everyone should make an effort to go there at one point in their lives.

My favorite Machu Picchu Pic

My favorite Machu Picchu Pic

And that’s it. Three months down. Nine (at least, haha) to go. It’s difficult to imagine what this list will look like at the six, nine, and twelve month mark. If there’s anyone out there reading this and has ever thought about doing something like this, JUST DO IT!! I can’t say that enough. Besides asking Megan to marry me, going on this trip was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. This will not only make me a better all around person, but it will also strengthen my relationship with my wife, and the memories will last for a lifetime.

~Adam

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