Three months, 91 days. Longer than any time we've ever spent outside the US, on any vacation, or even just not working since it was legal for us to do so. If you read my Doldrums post you know that it wasn't certain we'd ever make it this long. I'm happy to report that we're really settling in nicely and really starting to get into the travel groove. We've expended 13.5% of out budget, meaning at the same rate we could travel for another 583 days or about 1 year and 7 months, right on target. We've only made it through 3 countries and we're on our 4th as I write this post, which is much slower than I'd expected, but not problematic.
Ahead we have Chile, the Falkland Islands, Argentina, and Brazil on our "list" for South America. Then we have Africa, which we have absolutely no idea about at this point. For planning purposes, we really like how Peru went. Jordan took some time to essentially plan the whole thing out before we really got started. This meant we knew where we wanted to go after each stop, but we left our time at each destination open-ended. We plan to repeat the process as much as possible going forward as it reduces friction and arguments by providing a clear next step.
Learning Spanish has also helped dramatically. Being able to ask questions, understand responses, and just generally converse with locals has made the day to day much easier. We get very excited when we ask for directions and understand every word of the response.
We've modified our gear significantly more than I'd expected, picking up different things as we've continued along (and losing a few things too). You can expect a detailed breakdown of our new packing lists in the coming weeks.
So far, Jordan and I agree on our favorite city: Cuenca, Ecuador. It really was a beautiful city with a number of activities, a handful of modern amenities, and endless charm. Jordan's favorite single activity was the descent into Colca Canyon and our time at Roy's, the lovely place we stayed at the bottom of the canyon. Personally, I'm thinking Cajas National Park was my favorite (in spite of the freezing cold rain), the landscapes were just so stunning and unlike anything I've ever seen before in my life.
We've come to love a number of different foods and gastronomically related traditions during our time thus far. The Peruvian classic Pollo a la Brasa (charcoal roasted chicken) is absolutely phenomenal, often served as a full 1/4 chicken with breast and leg including french fries and salad for only $3-4. Jordan has fallen in love with Borrachitos, little balls that are like undercooked brownies topped with frosting and colorful sprinkles. In Ecuador I enjoyed "Tres Leches", a sort of cake that is doused in milk just before being served. We've come to like the tradition of eggs with bread for breakfast, as it sticks with us better than cereal. Finally, soup is a mainstay in South America and you get it before just about every meal. It's quite enjoyable, even on hot days.
Not everything is rainbows and kittens, though. The ascent in Colca Canyon was INSANE and almost killed me (FAR worse than my hospital stay). Constant touts hounding us in the main plazas of Peru were really tiresome. Bus rides still give us nausea (we should buy stock in Dramamine). I'm in real trouble because I find white rice revolting after having eaten it with almost every meal. And really, chicken feet… not something I think we're ever going to enjoy.
I touched briefly on the budget above, but wanted to share some interesting factoids. Our cheapest room was $7.55 in Sangalle in Colca Canyon. We stayed at Hostal San Martin in Lima for $34, making it our most expensive lodging. Our thriftiest meal at a restaurant was $1.50 for soup, meat, rice, and beans for lunch in Montañita (we've made breakfast for sub $1 on our own at hostels). Our most expensive activity by far at this point was Macu Picchu, coming in at $450.33 (including tickets, transportation, lodging, and overpriced ice cream (of course (nested parenthetical statements for the win)) and water at the site. I got a haircut in Arequipa for $7.50. Finally, we spend about $2-3/day on water, way more than I would have expected. Jordan continues to diligently track our spending, so make sure you check out the Trip Spending page.
This post wandered all over, a melange of updates, sentiments, and factoids. Keeping with that theme, I'm going to close with some sad news. We are retiring the Ice Cream Consumed counter. It was a fun idea, but the sad fact is, we eat a preponderance of ice cream and haven't kept up with it. We're going to change the page to be a gallery of interesting ice creams that we see (and of course consume) as we roam the planet.
Cheers, thanks for following along for 3 months, and heres to many more.