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Each journey begins with a single step... Two kiwis escaping from the island to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where thousands have gone before... . .

End of our 'The Americas' travels

USA | Friday, 7 May 2010 | Views [568]

So we now say goodbye to the Americas. It has been an amazing journey, we have been so impressed by the different landscapes, the beauty, the generosity of its people and its vastness.

We have been so lucky in our travels, the beginning of our journey crossing the USA by train. We have now been to 44 states, it's true that some have just been viewed from the train, and have met lots of wonderful locals. The most obvious huge difference between New Zealand and USA is size, in NZ we don't do vast and things in USA are VAST! E.g. the Grand Canyon, the prairies, the night sky... We can understand how locals often don't bother to travel outside their nation (although we think they should) as it is a nation of huge contrasts and huge distances. You could spend your life travelling there and not see it all. Although we do not agree with some of the ways things are set up in America there are probably a balance of things we really like as well.

Mexico was one of our favourite countries, along with El Salvador and Peru. Mexico is kind and happy with lovely beaches and great archaeological sites. We especially enjoyed Mexico City with its wonderful parks and fabulous museums. South of Mexico City was great for cheese and cheap food.

In hindsight we would have spent less time in Central America as we now realise that South America has so much more to offer. Having said that we got to explore a lot and met a lot of interesting people and did a lot of different things.

South Americas is certainly a place anyone should visit. Colombia is so green and although a violent past is not so distant it felt safe and easy to travel in for us. Top memories from here would have to be couchsurfing with a cool family in Bogota, paragliding in San Gil, and the area of San Augustin.

Ecuador was a surprise as we didn't expect a country on the equator to offer us snow! Top memories were desserts in Ibarra, the Teleferico in Quito, volunteer work with the animals in Fatima.

Peru, ah Peru! Land of many contrasts, beach, sierras, Amazon. Our very first city of Chiclayo was a treat and it just got better from there. So many different sights we were unable to turn off the camera, the people were open and friendly, often coming to us to talk. Of course Machu Picchu was amazing but our best memories are of the more northern less touristy parts of the country.

Bolivia is much loved by many of the travellers we met but we found it quite dry (yes it was winter) and not really as interesting as we had thought it would be. It is the cheapest place to travel in SA definitely and we had a wonderful time volunteering at Rurrenabaque and of course the Uyuni Salt Flats were amazing.

Argentina was our next port of call, a huge country with many differing landscapes we went in and out of Argentina and Chile managing to travel over most of both of them. We made it all the way to Ushuaia and had our only internal flight here and got to meet new family. The north had multicoloured earth, the middle is famous for its wines and Patagonia in the south is huge, brown and barren, to enter Ushuaia after travelling 24 hours by bus through that is to enter a magical place (similar to Queenstown).

In Chile we travelled the Carraterra Austral, visited a town devastated and abandoned after a volcanic eruption, sailed up the fiords and found old and new friends. The landscapes of Chile are very similar to NZ which is understandable, it is long and narrow like NZ and stretches over the same latitudinal area although Chile of course is twice as long. But from La Serena down to O'Higgans which is equivalent to about the length and latitude of NZ the countryside is very similar.

Uruguay was like stepping back into old New Zealand (except for the language of course). It is a relaxed country and very flat, met some lovely people too, only problem was the inability to withdraw any sizeable amount from any ATM.

Paraquay we only spent one day in visiting one of the largest energy producing dams in the world. Brazil was our next stop with our port of entry being Iguazu Falls, the most amazing waterfalls we have seen thus far. Unfortunately we found Brazil too expensive for us to travel in and only stayed down the southern end because of that. If we hadn't been able to couchsurf we would not have been able to travel there as much as we did. Our most wonderful time was staying with Beth, Sergio, Alice (and boyfriend Romulo), and Pedro for Christmas and New Year in Rio de Janiero where we attended a Couchsurfing Summit that was a credit to the couchsurfing group there.

From Brazil we flew to Venezuela, a troubled nation, the only country that we didn't ever really feel safe in although we had no problems and travelled all over. One of the ways we kept safe was again to couchsurf, this gave us local friends who could tell us where and where not to go and we got to learn through them about their developing culture and thoughts.

We island hopped fairly quickly up through the Caribbean, using ferries where we could and LIAT Air when we couldn't (although there is a lot of negative stuff on the net about LIAT we had no problems and our flights were great). Our last island was Puerto Rico which is really USA territory so we had come full circle in 20 months. It sounds like a long time but we travelled constantly and apart from our 2 week stay in Rio we never stopped anywhere longer than 2 or 3 days. We travelled 90% of the time by bus and usually during the day so we could see the scenery and better get to experience the country in which we were travelling. As a general rule we spent about 1 month in each country except for USA and Mexico = 2 months.

Next travel = United Kingdom, possibly Ireland and part of Europe.

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