For me, travelling isn’t about how many countries I can cross off, cool Instagram shots or how many likes I can get..
to me it’s a personal calling, one that I wait to hear…
This time, I was summoned to the amazing continent of South America! I decided to leave my job, give up my flat, cut ties to material, took my savings and left!
I go because I want my mind to be completely expanded. To understand the anthropology of people, land and explore natural beauty, whilst absorbing the spirit and most importantly feeding my colourful SOUL! .
It’s all about staying true to your individual core and self, where I want to do impactful work, travel ethically and live consciously. This journey took me across Ecuador- Peru-Bolivia-Argentina-Brazil and (one day accidentally in Paraguay) full of hiking, camping, altitude sickness, insect bites, partying with locals, homestays, extreme sports, overnight buses and connections that will last a lifetime!
(And breathe!) 🥵
I feel the world is my home where I’m free and belong. The older I get, the more I feel I have no home. But that its out there- a feeling under the stars.
home is a feeling, rather than a stationary location.
Often, I’m advised its unsafe and asked if I’m ‘scared’ as a lone female traveller. A belief I hold strongly is, not allowing fear or society’s perception to limit or influence my world views, and to put the people behind the headlines. I am amazed at the parallel worlds that coexist side by side. To me, the world is to be revealed as a blank canvas, without judgements and for me to uncover.
So, why did I go there?… why not 🙂
South America fascinated me with it’s beauty rich in history, diverse ethnic make up , a land of colour , inspiration, and passion that’s full of hope, struggles and revolutions. It’s a fierce personality with an unpredictable temper and untouched nature from the mountains to the beaches. Its home to the Amazon, the lungs of the earth with immense biodiversity. This captivated me as a child learning about a rainforest, covering a continent. That’s why I decided, it was the spirt of extremities that spoke to my personality!
Julio, my Amazon tour guide in Ecuador blew me away as he shared his insights on his magical forest. He was born in the Andes and moved to the Peruvian side, where his family still remain. He was extremely jovial, enthusiastic and passionate in sharing his home with me. I stayed in wooden lodges and booked with a company that support eco tourism, who work with local communities to preserve cultures. I try to travel ethically not to exploit people or countries.
In particular, what I loved most during my Amazon stay was the spiritual journey I was taken on. Julio, took me on a night tour in the depth of the night, where silhouettes of the trees outlined the glittery night sky above. He explained how as a boy he wandered into the forest and was lost where his family presumed he was dead. It was from the oneness of nature and being in tune with his surroundings, that carried him home. Jungle philosophy spoke to me as I loved the synergy between humans and land. The native tongue of Checha is a connection to their ancestors and respect is given to all living things. As this relates to one, their PachuCutti (mother earth ) They never forget that our time is limited and every moment we are present, is a blessing not a right to have on this earth.
This spiritual enlightenment carried me through as I suffered altitude sickness whilst camping and hiking for 4 days. It was the mountains way of greeting me, which was also shared with fellow travellers from New Zealand. We laughed at the side effects of medicine we shared that weren’t prescribed to us, and inevitably at 4,200m felt the side effects, by having facial spasms.
The journey of learning the native beliefs, and hiking with local porters. I was able to endure the hardships, reflecting on mountain time alone, and passed through Amazon cloud forest, Inca ruins and breathtaking sights. I was just happy being in the moment where a sense of content filed me. The path was guiding me where I felt welcomed by the Incas.
Not chasing the race but going at my own pace felt enough, this allowed me to appreciate and pause on my current phase in life.
My time at a homestay in Lake Titikaka, Peru also humbled me. As, I was welcomed into a locals home under the dim light of their simple makeshift kitchen made up of basic stone and not being able to speak their language but communicated through humour and body language. My senses were on fire in absorbing it all in, whilst my eyes were appreciating as genuine happiness sent chills through me, not wanting anything but to sit and learn.
I was fascinated by a tradition where married men would wear their wives hair around their waists, as belts. As a sign of unity and commitment that they’re always with them.
This different form of a wedding ring, has inspired my future plans 😉
Traveling allows anything to happen and unexpected events to unfold. As I walked aimlessly in Argentina Buenos Aires, armed police didn’t allow me to visit the Casa Rosada (government house). I struck up a conversation with a passerby, who was told the same and turned away. I introduced myself to her and to my luck, she also spoke english! As two strangers we walked and talked along the streets. I called her Blue as in Spanish that’s what it means.
She was extremely helpful and friendly taking me to the square and told me about the women’s movement, as I was curious by the slogans and flags. I offered her a drink where the waiter was Venezuelan and told us how he was studying to be a doctor, but it became useless due to the political crisis. A prevalent situation that I saw across the continent first hand, with floods of Venezuelans camping on the Peruvian border, whilst others pleaded at police stations in Araquipa with documents in hand, in search for a safe haven and new land to call home.
Having only packed flip flops and walking boots, I wasn’t equipped for city life. A real genuine friendship formed between me and Blue where she invited me to a party that were a collective bunch of young people of performing arts, actors, musicians who welcomed me in with ease. I was fascinated to learn more about Argentinas feminism, especially as the girls who were studying at university were passionately involved. Blue, invited me to stay with her providing a local insight, cooking me dinner and bought me a green bandana, to share my solidarity with the women of Argentina!
What did you learn?
I wish I could speak languages and often felt uneducated in not knowing Spanish beyond Banyos (toilet) and agua (water) although I had a very limited vocabulary, it allowed dialogue to unfold naturally, made up of humour and human connection. I found South Americans intrigued by the fact I was British, but by appearance looked ‘exotic’ to them. This challenged their perceptions on what they thought of England and brought an appreciation towards my heritage.
Often, I joked how South America was my continent! As it gave me something, that I don’t feel in the land I’m born. An admiration for everything I am and possess, not labelled based on assumption.
My experiences are hard to condense as they are forever wavering feelings, that take flight and manifest into memories. As all journeys they are eventful and fragmented from cliff jumping even though I can’t swim, ending up in favelas unprepared, to taking motorbike taxis down mountains , salsa with locals, camping across Argentina to Brazil and spending new years on Copacabana Beach, and of course always making international friends to connecting with the lone wolves on the fringes of society.
The genuine connections I will forever cherish. All making me realise, I find what I already know, the beauty in the world full of diverse people. It has all engrained in my thoughts and memories ..imprinting profoundly on my soul.
From the streets, the people, the markets, the fact of life …the variation of living
Who’s to say which is right or wrong
The randomness of life coexisting
To sum up what I really felt and learnt is that South America is my continent! One I felt most welcomed, the most me, free to express my self and identity
I wonder where my journey will lead…