Thursday, March 03, 2016

Explore South America: Life Lessons from Backpacking across South America!

Personal Insights Learned from Traveling in Peru, Bolivia & Argentina

I can't believe it's already March; February just flew by, especially since I spent most of it in South America, visiting some amazing places and meeting some fabulous people! I just got back a few days ago from my South American adventure and I'm so excited to share all my experiences, insights and travel tips I have learned along the way over the next several weeks. But first I have to get back into my regular, post trip routine, which has been proving extremely difficult.

Machu Picchu, Wayna Picchu, Huayna, Mountain, South America, Travel, Explore, Bucketlist, Trip, The Purple Scarf, Melanie.Ps, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Enjoying the view of Machu Picchu from the top of Wayna Picchu Mountain, Peru
For the past three weeks, I backpacked my way across three countries, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, and I will share my adventures in each place with all of you as soon as I can put into words (and organize my pictures:) everything that I saw and experienced, but first I want to share some things I learned about myself and things I'm grateful about now that I'm back home in Canada.

Garden, Flowers, Largo Museum, Lima, Peru, Soth America, Travel, Explore, Trip, Bucketlist, The Purple Scarf, Melanie.Ps, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Smelling the flowers at Largo Museum in Lima, Peru
Take Time for Myself
Most of 2016 has been filled with working extra shifts and taking on more freelance work to save for this trip that when I finally boarded the plane for Peru, I was so exhausted I was starting to see double. While I was traveling, I learned to slow down and enjoy what I was doing or seeing. I put my phone down and noticed the beautiful architecture and talked with some of the locals (well tried to with my very limited Spanish). Now that I'm back in Toronto, I'm taking my time to ease back into my regular schedule. I'm exhausted and want I to take time to reflect on my trip and what's important to me. If I can take anything from my trip is that life is short and I need to slow down sometimes or I miss out on what is happening around me.

Cholita, La Paz, Bolivia, The Witches Market, Travel, Explore, South America, Bucketlist, Trip, The Purple Scarf, Melanie.Ps, Toronto,Ontario, Canada
Meeting a Cholita at The Witches Market in La Paz, Bolivia
I'm a Strong Woman
I'm not very physically strong and my mental strength is put to the test daily but this trip has tested me in ways I haven't ever encountered and I am stronger for it. I climbed Wayna Picchu Mountain at Machu Picchu, overcoming elevation sickness (couldn't feel my hands throughout the whole climb) and persevering through my already bad heart thumping away, climbing hills carrying my 50 pound backpack has made me realize the truth behind the saying of mind over matter. My mental strength was tested every time I crossed a border (especially Bolivia's) and when I found myself in some sticky and somewhat unsafe situations; like stranded in an empty bus station at 4am, sleep deprived and surrounded by drunk locals, all the while trying to keep a cool head.

Patience is a Virtue
In South America, time is a relative term. When a bus says it's leaving at 7pm, it might not even show up until midnight. A guide in Bolivia told me he is always prompt and will be back at 10am. He showed up at 10:45am, which is prompt in South America. Anyone who knows me will never describe me as a very patient person, but after three weeks of living on South American time and waiting eight hours to cross Bolivia's border, I have learned to be patient and just go with the flow. Well almost :)

Bus, broken, Bolivia, South America, Travel, Explore, Bucketlist, Trip, The Purple Scarf, Melanie.Ps, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Waiting for 'Bus' to be fixed in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia.

I'm Proud to be Canadian!
I will always love to travel to different places in the world and learn about different cultures and people, but for all its faults, I'm so lucky to live in a democratic country where I can take basic necessities like food and shelter for granted. I live in a safe, clean, environment, and almost everyone I met along my travels was so happy to meet Canadians. I can't count how many times I heard from fellow travelers or locals "I've never met a Canadian I didn't like." And one important thing I have taken for granted living in Canada and I never will again after this trip, is our excellent sewage and sanitation system. I have never been happier to flush bathroom tissue as I was after visiting the bathroom at Toronto Pearson Airport!

P.s!: These are just a few of the insights I have come to realize after this trip. I will share my experiences and travel advice and tips about all the places I visited over the upcoming weeks, so make sure to come back and visit The Purple Scarf!


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