Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Quick Update Before Leaving South America

Oh my, where do I begin? A couple of months ago I gave my resignation notice at the project I was working on in Ohio so I could take the crumbgobblers to stay with my family for a few weeks. My sister has moved back home with her husband and baby and we all had a great time. Barring anything unforeseen, I will be back stateside in 2 days and hope to take my kids traveling again.

So, about my trip... I have been in South America for a month now and have been having a great time. I have focused primarily on southern Brasil with 1 week in Argentina and quick stops in Paraguay and Uruguay. This is a beautiful part of the world, but not without it´s share of problems. Traveling through everything from the world´s largest urban area (by population) Sao Paulo (29 million+), to isolated rain forest, I have seen the almost unbelievable wealth gap that exists in this society. I even had 2 young men try to rob me with a pistol in broad daylight in a heavily trafficked area in Buenos Aires (La Boca), but I had no problems walking some of the worst parts of Brasil at night, alone. Hmmmm...

Traveling lightly here is incredibly inexpensive owing largely to currency exchange rates and troubled South American economies. Argentina was very cheap with a 3 to 1 exchange for the US Dollar. My lunches were typically $3USD and very nice lodging was $12USD. I also discovered a great travel resource called I highly recommend it as a way to truly get the opportunity for cultural exchange as well as free lodging with a native guide (please pitch in with food purchases and chores).

I also spent time in youth hostels (for all ages) and had a great experience doing this. For anyone unfamiliar with the hosteling culture, I recommend checking it out. It would be very interesting to stay at hostels in unfamiliar parts of your own country to see the sights and interact with some of the most interesting travelers that can be found. The hostels cater to the backpacking crowd, so do not expect to have 5 Star accomodations and room service. It is reasonable to expect a comfortable bed in a dorm or even private room (at a fraction of the price of a hotel room) and some wonderful opportunities for conversation and various types of socializing with travelers from around the world (most of whom will speak English).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Today I arrived in Buenos Aires by bus (18 hours including 2 police searches). Staying in a youth hostel for now, but hoping to couchsurf with a local ambassador. (Photo taken in San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires with 2 couchsurfers.)

Much love,