After spending a few days at home and getting back to work, I have had some time to reflect on our trip and the vast array of experiences we encountered over our 5 plus weeks in South America - every day a different memory or picture will pop into my mind. In fact, the first night back in my own bed, I dreamt that I was crossing a border and didn't have the correct paperwork - I was telling Bob that it was OK, that the documents were in my bag somewhere, when Anne woke me up and told me I was talking in my sleep!
I plan on using some of my spare time in the coming months to sift through all my photographs and video footage in order to put together a 10-15 minute video on our trip, but the completion of that project is probably some time away.
However, I decided to jot down a few of our favorite experiences, and illustrate them with pictures taken along the way - I took all of the pictures using my IPhone 6S. I'm not really a picture-taking kind of guy, but there were some places that I wished I had a nice DSLR to capture the moment.
Without further ado, here is part 1 of my version of David Letterman's Top 10:
favorite town - jardin, colombia
This town has it all - an amazing setting in a valley surrounded by coffee plantations, a beautiful church and square, as well as brightly adorned colonial buildings and a festive, friendly atmosphere, to boot. One of our favorite stops on the entire trip.
Worst stretch of road - jardin to Riosucio, colombia
This picture doesn't do the road justice - 42 kms of sharp stones with no gravel base. We had a lot of bad roads, but this was by far the worst we encountered on the whole trip. 15 years ago, we would have driven this road, and 5 minutes after we started would have been robbed and killed - Colombian security has come a long way!
Favorite city - quito, ecuador
Although we didn't spend much time in big cities, Quito made an impression on us with its unexpected historical significance and beautiful downtown. We didn't know much about Ecuador when we arrived (just that it had big mountains and was home to the Galapagos Islands), but we were pleasantly surprised with the region and its history.
FAVORITE HISTORIC HOTEL - PORTAL DE CATUNA, QUITO
We stayed in a lot of different types of lodging - from places with no hot water (and no fresh water), to 5 star resorts, but this was one of the most unique. A 250 year old convent that was converted into a 3 star hotel in downtown Quito - the owners managed to retain some of the religious relics from the convent, including a 300 year old virgin Mary!
Best Hotel design - Hotel Paracas, Paracas, peru
This hotel was very welcome after almost 2 weeks with no air conditioning and limited services - however, the common spaces stacked up well against any hotel we have ever stayed. The rooms were quite nice, but the pools (yes, there were 3 of them) and the setting made for a great splurge!
Best location for a hotel - Hotel Puerto Inca, chala, peru
Imagine a hotel set on a private bay, with a beautiful beach. Then imagine you are 50 steps from a large archaelogical site that used to be a fish cannery for a large portion of the Incan empire, and you have Puerto Inca. A 10 minute bumpy ride off of the Panamerican Highway, this hotel won't be recognized as a 5 star resort anytime soon (there was no fresh water - the showers are salt-water). However, the setting, the food and service made this one of the most unique places we stayed on our trip!
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO, WHEN WE RELIVE A FEW MORE OF OUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCES FROM THE SECOND HALF OF OUR TRIP!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain