I have always heard that travel changes you. And whether or not that is true, I feel I have most experienced that sensation on my Bolivia trip. Perhaps it’s because it has been my most extended travel experience (apart from Argentina of course) or because it was to another South American country. But I have a feeling I was just ready. After five months in Buenos Aires and feeling at least a little more comfortable, seeing something new really helped me to put my Argentina experiences into perspective. So here are the main revelations I had on this trip:
1. A good group to travel with makes all the difference: I have hinted to it before that in Buenos Aires I really had to learn to cope with loneliness. Therefore, coming on a trip with people I barely knew who turned out to be really amazing individuals was very refreshing. As strange as it sounds, I forgot about laughing coming easily, about joking with someone, about laughing until I cry and about effortlessly connecting to others.
But apart from my travel group, I also feel lucky to have met so many other fascinating backpackers. The other car on our Salt Flats tour-Ahmad, Sean, Vanessa and Max-really made the tour so much more enjoyable. The same holds true for people we’ve met on the way-Australians, Germans, Israelis, Bolivians-who all had their own story to tell.
2. I’d like to make backpacking a big part of my life: Whether I come back to South America, go to Europe, or take on Southeast Asia, I like the idea of putting your things in a bag and taking off. Yes, money and time will always be an issue, but so many people I have met on trips of 2, 6, 10 and 12 months, have inspired me to believe that I can make it possible.
3. Not all of South America is the same: I could’ve told you this in theory before I left Argentina. But seeing Bolivia, with its distinct landscapes, dress, food, values, and accent, has reinforced this concept. Argentina after this trip really does feel more European, with its paved streets, flush toilets, consumerist culture, and Italian influence. It makes me a little sad that I might be missing out on a “true Latin American experience” yet also thankful for the perspective that Buenos Aires has given me.
From your changed traveler,