Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Difference Between 12 Days and 12 Months of Travel

Going to Peru means wandering the well worn backpacker trail.  In the US, we celebrate a one week vacation, which is a striking contrast to the travel that is going on in here in Latin America.  Conversations with fellow travelers here talk about 3, 6 or 12 months of travel.  I even met a French guy who has been traveling for 2 years and isn't sure when he is going to stop.  This type of travel has few set itineraries and is filled with 24 hour bus rides on local buses sometimes to places you just heard about at breakfast the day before, sleeping in bunk beds at hostels, eating in local markets and checking out the best of the world's sights one by one, but also believing that those sites are better if you take time to explore the wider land and community around them more.

In Latin America, the highlights seem to include Rio in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Iguazu Falls in Uruguay, The Salt Flats in Bolivia, Cusco and hiking the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, Lake Titikaka,  and the maybe going south through Argentina and Chile and ending up in Tierra Del Fuego on the tip, or maybe heading North to Colombia or even Central America to take advantage of the beautiful surfer beaches there.

There are tons of small sights along the way that most have never heard of unless one is able to travel at this pace. Also odd adventurous one offs like the "Most Dangerous Road" in Bolivia, where people bike straight down a winding road that hugs the side of a mountain where better bikers have driven to their deaths before you.  (Hey, I was stupid enough to do that! I'm not going to lie.  It made me feel cool to be able to tell people about it.)

I always find this world to be so amazing in the context of my New York life where people look at me and can't believe I'm taking two weeks off or that I'm going traveling again...  Then I compare that to the disapproving looks I get here when I say, no, I'm not going anywhere besides Peru.

For this trip I had 12 days to travel and that doesn't even give me time to get off the well worn tourist path.  I wish I had more time to see the other things. Peru has to offer including the Amazon and most of the sunny beautiful coast.  Or really I want to take a taxi to some town in the middle of nowhere and just sit in the town square, watching life pass as it has there for hundreds of years. Next time I say...  maybe then I'll be doing another long trip and have real time to really see...

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