Central & South American Wrap Up

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Central and South America were awesome! We had a great time, met a ton of interesting people, and ate delicious food everywhere we went. We definitely plan to go back in the future and hope all of you are able to as well.

By the numbers

  • Number of days: 158
  • Number of countries: 10
  • Number of cities: 35
  • Number of times we flew*: 11
  • Number of times we bused*: 26

*These are total trips and not individual legs. Sometimes it was a direct trip, but other times it may have been up to four legs (e.g., busing from Coyhaique to El Bolson).

Food

Money

  • Most expensive country: Argentina
  • Cheapest country: Mexico
  • Number of currencies used: 9

Despite a few expensive flights and fun splurges, we’re under budget! This is especially good as we head to Europe where things won’t be cheap. Our biggest expenses were lodging and transportation. Workaways have been a great way to keep costs down.

Highlights

Miscellaneous

  • Items sent home: hammock, water purifier, a couple books, brewery stickers & coasters (the only real souvenirs we’ve been collecting)
  • Number of times we needed cipro: 4
    • Number of times that stopped us from eating street food: 0
  • Collective weight lost: around 15-20 pounds!

Constants throughout our 5.5 months

  • Always have your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer since those items may not be provided in bathrooms.
  • You usually can’t flush toilet paper.
  • Liquids (yogurt, milk, etc.) often come in bags rather than plastic or cardboard containers at the grocery store.
  • Eggs are never refrigerated.
  • There is an excessive amount of car alarms and honking.
  • Always check to see if it’s ok to drink the tap water. Chile, Argentina, and Rio were the only places we could drink it. Bottled water is cheap in places where the locals need to drink it too.
  • Only cross the street when the locals do. For the most part traffic laws seem to be optional throughout the region, although drivers in Chile and Argentina tended to be more courteous to pedestrians.
  • No matter what time or day of the week, soccer fútbol is somehow ALWAYS on tv!
  • Locals were generally encouraging when we tried to speak Spanish. Even if they could speak English, they would help teach us new phrases or words, correct our pronunciations, or just patiently wait while we searched through our limited vocabulary.
  • Since we weren’t there in high season, we really didn’t need to book anything ahead. We often got cheaper rates than advertized online by going to the hostel, bus station, tour company, etc. and talking directly with them.
  • Hostels are not always the cheapest option for couples. For the price of two dorm beds, we can often get a private room at the same price or only $1-3 more. Otherwise, we usually find the best deals on Airbnb.
    • We purposely chose not to bring a tent and sleeping bags, but if we had only traveled in South America it would have been worth it for all the free/cheap camping sites there (especially in Patagonia).
  • We still suck at bartering. Turns out if you give Laura a beer beforehand, she gets a little better at it. Vesper just can’t.
  • Always have cash since many places won’t accept credit cards. Some small towns don’t even have ATMs so plan ahead for that too.
  • Craft beer is surprisingly expensive, but as we learned over and over again, this is usually due to the difficulty and cost of getting all the necessary brewing supplies down here.
  • From the few times we flew, we were almost always given free meals (even if the flight was only an hour) and free checked bags - unlike US airlines where you’re lucky to get anything for free.

As a bonus, here is a quick video compilation of our time in South America where I try really hard not to look at the camera:

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