Falls of Iguazú and Streams of Consciousness

It is fitting that my last memory of South America is of the Iguazú Falls. It’s entirety encompassed every aspect of my trip: beauty, grace, power, immenseness, awesomeness, happiness and loneliness. I stood in awe by the sheer power of the Devil’s Throat. Something so close yet unattainable, you could try to own it but instead it will swallow you whole, break you into pieces.

But within this powerful space were black birds and colorful butterflies gracefully flying in and out of the turbulence, and a rainbow that came out with the sun in between patches of clouds. How beautiful!

iguazu falls

falls and rainbow

iguazu falls with bird

falls and trees

twin falls

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I am honestly saddened that my trip is almost over. The time on the road gave me a chance to reflect a bit on my life, how I lived it, and how I would like to live it. But most importantly I realized that I am content with where I am now.

a few thoughts:

  • The world truly is a beautiful place.  I have lost count of all the moments that have taken my breath away. When I come back to the normal routine of life I hope I never forget this fact.

butterflies

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  • I do not travel to “escape.” Being on the road feels as normal to me as my life back home. It is a big part of who I am.
bag and terrace

from the Inca Trail

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  • Had crushes, fell in and out of love, and honestly analyzed the one I left behind. And this is my conclusion: Love is only easy when nothing else but the present matters. But I think this idea is not impossible to apply in real life. Why shouldn’t we just live in the present?
hearts leaves

from Palenque, Mexico

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  • Places I would like to go back and live in someday: Antigua in Guatemala, San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico, Salta in Argentina, and Valparaiso in Chile. Not just because they were beautiful, but because of the feeling that they gave me: a feeling of belonging, of home.
blue graffitti

from Valparaiso, Chile

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  • I’ve crossed too many borders in a short span of time. While I would like to travel slowly, the impatient half of me craved to see as much as possible. So we did. There’s a form that one needs to fill out when crossing land borders. It asked for details such as name, country of residence, birthdate, occupation, etc. For Occupation at first I would put down my actual trade:  microbiologist. About 4 borders ago I started writing down Traveler for this space. Why? Because in the middle of a desert surrounded by mountains and the sky and all that emptiness the lab seemed so far away and the road was right in front of me. In those moments this was how I recognized myself.

border papers

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  • I have mix feelings regarding the cheesy 80’s music videos on buses. While they provided comic relief on long bus rides (because everyone made fun of each video,) they unwittingly became the soundtrack of my S.America journey. The ride from San Pedro de Atacama to Salta was a long, winding, and the most beautiful road I have ever travelled. Alas, my memory of it included Milli Vanilli crooning in the background “It’s a tragedy for me to see the dream is over And I never will forget the day we met Girl I’m gonna miss you.”

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  • Those who had the pleasure of my travel company knows of my fascination with crackers. Crackers are a godsend on long bus rides and when out and about all day time flies by and you find yourself hungry in the middle of nowhereville. I’ve tried many different crackers from each country and the one that I liked the most was Club Social, the wheat variety. I found this first somewhere in C.America and have stuck with it until I got to S.America and it became hard to find. I saw a trickle of it in Quito, then it was gone. Each new city after Quito comes with the new hope of finding my Club Social Integral. Every time I passed by a small store my neck would automatically crane toward the cracker stand and my eyes would quickly scan for the familiar golden wrapper. No luck until I got to La Paz where I surprisingly found it, then it was gone again. I left S. America without seeing it again, but in my opinion, it was the best pal a gal could have on bus rides.

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  • While in Uyuni I learned a fun spanish children’s song, Los Pollitos (little chickens), that goes like this:

Los pollitos dicen                    (the little chickens say)

pio, pio, pio

cuando tienen hambre          (when they are hungry)

cuando tienen frio                  (when they are cold)

I still catch myself humming this song once in a while.

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  • I’ve met many kindred spirits and wonder how many more are out there just waiting for my path to cross theirs. I don’t usually like to put pictures on my wall of other travelers I’ve met, but I will make a rare exception on this one. It was taken in the train cemetery in Uyuni. A few people were waiting to take a picture with this train. Then one guy said, “Why don’t we all take a picture together so at least it doesn’t look like we’re alone.” So here we were: traveling solo but, for this moment forever frozen in a photograph, not alone.

train cemetery

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  • “Just remember it in your head.” If I had a dollar for every time I thought of this, or someone had told this to me, I would have enough money to keep traveling for another month. Why do I take pictures of mundane things like that coffee cup, or the sky when I was with you, the shadows on the ground, or that bench in the corner, or that cafe…? So I’ll have something to remind me of these special moments when I no longer remember. Because memory is a fish. You have it vividly in your grasp one moment, and with your next breath it’s gone.
salt shadows

from the Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

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  • Privacy is also a fish. I book dorms in hostels to meet other travelers but sometimes wish that no one else will be in the dorm with me. I only got my wish maybe 2x.
fuck you cactus

Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

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  • After living in a backpack these past months, you realize how superfluous material things are. This is exactly what I needed to get by: 2 t-shirts (black of course), 2 long sleeve shirts (black of course), 4 pairs of underwear (I really just needed 2, I brought 2 extra for the Inca Trail where I couldn’t wash them every night), 4 pairs of socks (because they take longer to dry), a pair of jeans, a pair of trail pants, a fleece for the cold nights, a hat, a pair of wristwarmers, an undisclosed number of scarves I’ve picked up along the way to give a bit of color to my black ensemble, and sunglasses which I wear all the time because through them the world is a golden hue. I’ve been asked a few times if I sleep with them on. (I don’t.)
salt flats

Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

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  •  I love airports, stations, being in transit in buses or planes, the lull of the road. A  long bus ride is like reading a thick book that I never want to end. I think these moments on the road gave me a much needed pause in between all the craziness that goes with travel: planning, where should I stay, where should I eat, where should I go, where is the bus terminal, how do I get to this place or that place….Contrary to what people think backpacking is a lot of work!

bus ride

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  • I thought Ecuadorians were the nicest group of people I’ve encountered here. While Argentinians were the most affectionate and “touchy” (meaning they like to touch you when they’re talking to you.)
  • Missing places is like missing people: it happens in bits and pieces then time takes care of the rest.
  • I am forever a traveller.
train tracks

on the road to San Pedro de Atacama

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