In a decision that has been very difficult to make, I'm sad to announce that our trip is coming to an end in five days. Kristin's foot is still giving her a lot of trouble and has made it so that we can't travel in the way that we are accustomed to and enjoy. Our hope is that the frigid weather and limited sunshine of December in Calgary will allow it to heal properly. [Editor's note: Deep breaths, Kevin. Deep breaths.]
The past few days have provided ample opportunity for us to reflect back on our trip and to think about what lies ahead. Out of this process came the idea for this blog entry (sadly, Kristin's last contribution to the blog). Here's how it works - we interviewed one ridiculously attractive travel blogging couple and asked them the same four questions. They produced their answers independently of one another and we have posted them below without alteration.
1. Which is your favourite place that you visited on the trip?
She-KLong: That's a toughie because each place has been so different and I have loved them all for different reasons, but I would have to say my favourite place that we "travelled" was Bolivia. It has the greatest indigenous population in South America (over 60%) and this "living historical culture" (I read this description somewhere and really liked it) was very interesting for one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. My favourite place that we "vacationed" (see distinction between travelling and vacationing here) was Salta in Northwestern Argentina. Salta has good, inexpensive food and wine, lots of activities to do in its surroundings, and is still somewhat "undiscovered" by tourists.
He-KLong: Asking me to choose the favourite place we visited is a lot like asking a parent to identify their favourite child (in which case, might I suggest that you can never go wrong in choosing the oldest son...). In terms of an experience, I have would have to say that Ciudad Perdida probably remains my most vivid memory and the one I find that Kristin and I relive most often. Picking a country would be much tougher, as I've enjoyed each for different reasons and they have all been spectacular. In a pinch, I would probably opt for Colombia, largely due to the fact that the people there who didn't rob us were some of the friendliest I've ever met and were the most welcoming of the countries we visited.
2. What has been the most difficult part of travelling in South America?
She-KLong: I guess one of the most difficult parts of long term travel in South America for me was having to pack my backpack with equipment and clothes for all different climates. We experienced temperatures ranging from -10 to +30 degrees Celsius, so this left very little room for "luxury items" (I note that Kevin considers the jeans I brought a "luxury item" - who considers one pair of jeans a "luxury item"?!). Another difficult part for me was having to get by with my limited spanish. I have learned that I am horrible at learning new languages and it was frustrating not to be able to communicate more with locals and sometimes having to rely on Kevin to get my point across (apparently, along with blogging, picking up new languages with ease is one of my husband's hidden talents).
He-KLong: Without a doubt, the most difficult part of the trip was the Golf video game in the on-board entertainment system for Avianca Airlines flights. 350-yard par 3s? 600-yard par 4s?? Give me a break. A distant second would be the not infrequent stomach issues we experienced along the way and, worse, the constant fear of future stomach issues. By the time we left Bolivia, I had become so conditioned by signs of impending stomach danger that even overhearing a rumble from Kristin's stomach was enough to have me reaching for the Bisbacter (South American Pepto rip-off). Not being able to automatically assume that food was safe to eat definitely took some getting used to.
3. What will you miss the most about the trip?
She-KLong: Oh my goodness, I do not know where to start. I have never felt as excited, challenged and rejuvenated as I have on this trip and I know I will miss that. I am going to miss experiencing, doing and seeing as much as possible everyday because you never know if you are going to be back again. Also, you know how you do things while travelling that you would never do at home? I am going to miss this general attitude... Also, after spending 24/7 with Kevin for the past 4 and a half months, I bet I will go through a bit of Kevin withdrawal.
He-Klong: I'll miss so many things about the trip. Most of all, I'll miss that every day here is an opportunity to share something new and exciting with my wife. One of my favourite memories from the trip was the time in Peru (before I had replaced my watch) when I asked Kristin what day of the week it was. Without looking at her watch, she responded casually and in all seriousness, "Wednesday'ish," and continued about her business. Kristin is the ultimate planner and the unexpected response sent me into hysterics. In addition to the laughter, I just remember how wonderful it was to see her so content and carefree and I'm so happy that I was a part of it.
4. What excites you most about going back home?
She-Klong: Of course number one is seeing and catching up with my family and friends, even though, according to Kevin, while away I have talked to my Mom on Skype an "embarrassing amount for someone who is almost 30". Other perks will be being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet, not worrying about personal security nearly to the same degree and not worrying about the food you eat making you sick.
He-Klong: I know I should probably say "catching up with friends and family" or a"resuming my career" (wow, putting that last part into words just made me throw up in my mouth...), but I'm going to have to go with "the ability to flush toilet paper". I don't know anything about how plumbing works. I don't know why the systems here can't handle paper of any sort but in junior high school we never seemed to have any problem when we were flushing the gym shorts of people who forgot to close their locker doors down the toilet. Regardless, it will be good to go home and flush with impunity once again (paper, that is, not gym shorts).
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The blog is now officially on the endangered species list. Two posts left.