5 hours in the Miami airport

Not exactly how I dreamed of spending my Saturday evening (my flight is delayed 3 hours), but I’m finally on my way to the southern hemisphere and the Miami airport has free wifi and plenty of outlets, so I can’t complain.

I decided to pull an all nighter last night to guarantee I would sleep during my long day of travel today. A good idea in theory, considering I fell asleep so quickly once I found my emergency exit row seat that I have no recollection of the safety video or even taking off. At bad idea in practice, however, because I was lucky enough to have an antsy and very loud 5 year old child sitting directly behind me. Despite my three specific – and polite – requests for him to stop, which I’ll admit were then followed by several dirty looks directed at his passive mother, he absolutely would not stop kicking my seat. After 3 1/2 hours in and out of restless sleep, I finally gave up and started The Lost Girls.”

I only made it 50 pages into the book, but I already had tears welling in my eyes. I shocked myself.

I know I’m at the very start of my trip, leaving the comforts of home with only a vague idea of what to truly expect over the next 3 months, so its clear my emotions are running high, but I’m surprosed at how teary I am, even as I type this. What is perplexing is that I’m struggling to pinpoint the emotions I’m feeling that are causing the tears. It’s certainly not the upset type of crying. Maybe it’s sadness that my amazing, care-free summer in LA is over, or anxiety about what traveling completely on my own will really entail. Maybe it’s just pure joy, knowing that after all this talking, planning, explaining and rationalizing, I’m finally doing this. Or maybe its simply complete and utter exhaustion, considering I’ve slept less than 5 hours in the last 36 hours.

I wish I could take a picture of it (poor packing/planning, most of my electronic cords are in my checked bag), but my beautiful best friend Laura Mizes got me a bangle with an inspired travel quote embedded in soft, silver metal.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart”

Such amazing inspiration to wear on my wrist as I embark on this journey. I can’t wait to live up to those words <3

“I think you’re at the wrong airport..”

Hearing someone say those words to you, in slightly broken English, at 5:45 in the morning is not a good way to start your day. Just, you know, in case you were wondering.

To clarify, Buenos Aires has two airports. As I understood (until this morning), the Jose Newbury Aeroparque is the local airport, and the other, a 30 minute drive out of the city, is the international airport. Alison and I flew into the Buenos Aires International Airport from Santiago at the end of May when we first came to Argentina, and since I had booked a round trip ticket back to Santiago from BA, I simply assumed my flight would leave from that international airport. Of course, I knew there was a local airport, since I had flown in and out of Iguazu through the Aeroparque, and I even joked with Alison when I was coordinating a taxi pickup through the BA hostel I stayed at last night that it was a good thing I knew to differentiate between the two airports, otherwise they would have sent a driver to pick me up at the wrong one.

So when I forked over $180 pesos (just about $40 US) and hopped out of my taxi this morning after a 30 minute drive outside the city, you can imagine my disbelief when the LAN agent I spoke with told me my flight wasn’t, in fact, leaving from that airport. Luckily, I’m my parent’s daughter and left a ridiculous amount of time between getting to the airport and my actual flight departure time (7:50 AM) since I didn’t know how long customs would take, so the extra 45 minutes back to downtown BA wasn’t too detrimental and I was able to make my flight. Thank goodness it was a Sunday morning and the roads were empty! Of course I had to pay another $220 pesos ($50 US) to get all the way back where I had just come from… nothing like wasting close to $100 on a stupid mistake! Oh well, lesson learned and it all worked out fine — I made my flight without a problem, and I’m back safely at Alison & Ignacio’s apartment.

I’m in disbelief that 3 weeks of my trip have already gone by — I can’t believe I’m back in Santiago, getting ready to travel on my own, and hike to Machu Picchu at that! I have such a mix of emotions: part of me is terrified to be out in Peru and Bolivia by myself, another part of me can’t wait to be on my own, truly enjoying my independence and some very serious “me” time.

Last night was a bit of a strange experience in and of itself — I got back from Iguazu and got in the cab my hostel had arranged for me, checked in at the hostel to find that even though I’d paid $8.60 US for one bed in a 4 bed suite, I was actually going to be staying in a room on my own. I didn’t have any complaints, of course, but was confused when they showed me to a rather large room with only one bed and a small wooden wardrobe with a place to lock my bags. Of course the tiny heater they had started in the far corner of the room (opposite the bed) was doing nothing to heat the huge space, so I knew it was going to be a cold night.

I think I confused the man working the desk — when I asked him to bring me an extra blanket and he came upstairs, he seemed completely taken aback that I had taken it upon myself to move the bed directly next to the heater. Hey, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. I told him I’d move it back this morning, but he didn’t seem too concerned, just mostly confused. Luckily leggings underneath my sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a tank top, long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt were enough to keep me warm under the two relatively thin blankets they’d given me. I’m becoming a pro at learning to sleep in the cold!

I also had a grocery store fail yesterday: the original plan was to meet up with Erica and cook, but she wanted to go out to dinner and watch the Celtics, and the last thing I wanted to do was to be faced with Boston sports in another hemisphere. Instead, I went across the street to the grocery store, where I spent a significant amount of time wandering the aisles, probably looking like a sad, lost and confused puppy to everyone else in the store. In all fariness, it’s rather difficult to grocery shop in another language and country where you don’t have the vocabulary to ask where things are.

At one point, I was able to mutter the question “Donde esta queso parmesano?” to a man stocking the shelves, who answered something very quickly and pointed in a vague, general direction, so off I went to wander down the same 3 aisles I’d already been down. Of course, grocery shopping for one is impossible in the states, but to shop for one person, for one night, not being able to keep any leftovers was a total fail. I spent $40 pesos ($9ish bucks) on pasta, pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, a yellow bell pepper (the only decent looking vegetable I could find in the produce section), chocolate cookies and a bottle of water.

One thing I wish Alison, Carolyn and I had done more of when we were traveling was cook — buying groceries to split and share amongst 3 people is relatively easy. Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a kitchen we could use at the BA B&B we were at, so it didn’t make much sense, but it could have saved us a lot of money, especially since Buenos Aires is a very expensive city to eat out in.

I met two super sweet girls from Liverpool while I was cooking dinner last night, and left them with my extra pasta and sauce, and they were very grateful. I talked to them a little about how they had taken the TEFL and were certified to teach English, spending their summer after graduating from university in Buenos Aires together. I wish it weren’t so expensive to take the class and get certified in the states — aside from that obvious hurdle and the fact that I’m paying to store my stuff in Connecticut right now, I think I’d very seriously consider moving abroad to teach if I had someone to go with. I do feel so thankful that I am truly “free” right now — though the goal is to be in New York City eventually, I can really do whatever I want, and that freedom is so exhilarating!

Speaking of, Briann just booked a two week trip out to the west coast! We’re going to meet in Seattle on July 11 and spend a few days in Seattle, then hop down to Portland, then see San Francisco before we head down to LA for a few days in my home city to show her around. She has never seen the pacific ocean and I’ve never been further north than Sacramento, so I’m very excited to export the Pacific northwest! I think it will be hard heading back to LA from such an amazing vacation/travel adventure, so I’m glad to have another leg of travel booked — and this time speaking the language and having a cell phone will make coordinating and traveling much easier!

The rest of today is dedicated to errands: doing laundry, unpacking and repacking, getting passport pictures taken for my Bolivian visa, printing out copies of my credit card and passport, also for my visa, and then buying a handful of things like an alarm clock, flashlight, and more shampoo/conditioner. I’m glad I have the day to get that type of stuff done — it’s much needed after 18 days of non-stop travel!

And I’m off!

I’m sitting in the Toronto airport in disbelief. In the last 72 hours, I put everything I own into cardboard moving boxes, shipped a handful of clothing to Los Angeles, sold all of my furniture, and loaded a 14 foot uHaul filled with all of those boxes (plus a few suitcases) and drove it from Boston to a storage facility in Middletown, Connecticut. I can now confirm that my life fits neatly into a 5 x 10 foot storage room — a very surreal feeling. I painted my gorgeous turquoise and hot pink walls back to a sad, dull, white, donated a slew of stuff to Goodwill and Pine Street Inn, and said goodbye to some of my best friends and the city I’ve learned to call home over the past 6 years. It’s so surreal that just a few months ago I was dreaming of quitting my job and traveling the world, and now the day I’ve been anticipating is finally here.

I spent my quick hour and a half flight up north to Canada (and yes, it is backwards that I had to fly north to then just fly straight back down south, but these flights were $500 cheaper than the other option, so I’m just as happy this way!) reading my Peru guidebook. I can’t wait to spend 11 days on my own, exploring the country. I’m especially excited to spend some time in Cusco — I’ve heard nothing but fabulous things, and I can’t wait to get there.

Thanks to my online media classes at Northeastern, I remembered how to create a personalized Google map project, so last week, I made a fun one for my trip with all the destinations I’ll be visiting. Not too shabby for 5 weeks! My itinerary isn’t completely solidified yet, but my basic plans are as follows:

May 20/21 – Fly down to Santiago from Boston

May 21 – 24 – Greeted at the airport by Alison & Ignacio! Then spending time in Santiago exploring/relaxing.

May 24 – In the evening, fly out to Buenos Aires with Alison

May 24 – June 9 – Spend 8-9 days in Buenos Aires, with two sidetrips – one to Uruguay to see Montevideo and Colonia, and one to Iguazu Falls to hike and explore.

June 10 – First thing in the morning, fly back to Santiago, spend the day relaxing/doing laundry and possibly meeting a family friend.

June 11 – At 8 AM, fly up to Cuzco, Peru via Lima. Spend the rest of the day adjusting to the altitude and exploring.

June 12 – Spend the day in Cusco. Possibly take a half day tour of the four Inca ruins sites surrounding the city. Get to the tour offices for my trek pre-departure briefing.

June 13 – June 16 – For four days, I’ll be hiking, rafting, biking and ziplining my way from Cusco to Machu Picchu. This trip is going to be a huge personal challenge in terms of all the physical activity, but I absolutely cannot wait. I won’t be too out of my comfort zone since we’ll be staying in hostels every night, which I’m definitely thankful for! I booked the trek with a well known tour group, Green Toad Bus Tours, you should click that link and check out my trip — it looks phenomenal!

June 16 – 17 – I’ll spend the rest of the day I arrive back from my trek plus the 17th

June 18 – Through the same tour company, I’ll be taking an 8 hour bus ride (don’t worry, we stop four times for lunch and visits to ruins and tour sites on the way down!) to Puno, on Lake Titicaca. The ride is part of a bus hop plan, which takes you from Cusco down to La Paz in Bolivia, with stops in Puno and Copacabana.

June 19 – Spend the day in Puno, with a half day trip out to the Uros Islands, a floating island in the middle of the lake. Then I’ll hop on a 3 hour bus ride to Copacabana and cross the border into Bolivia!

June 20 – 21 – I’ll have a day and a half to spend in Copacabana, probably checking out more floating islands on Lake Titicaca and doing more exploring. Then on the evening of the 21, I take another short bus ride down to La Paz.

June 22 – June 24 — Three days of exploring La Paz that I absolutely cannot wait for. On my to do list is more research on this leg of the trip since my guide books don’t include Bolivia, but I got some great advice from a friend who was there and I’m very excited that I’ll have the chance to be in a fifth country!

June 25 – I will spend the morning in Santiago, then head to the airport to get on my Air Canada flight to Los Angeles!