How do you reconcile such melancholy with such excitement? How do you not feel guilty for the gleeful anticipation when it’s all tinged with sad farewells? How can you say you’re in love when you’re the one leaving to find new loves?
I always find it such a complex emotional time when I’m making a big shift in travelling location. I’ve just spent the past four months in South America and now, as I’m about to board a plane to Europe, I feel so unhappy to be leaving it behind.
The problem is, I can’t wait to start the next exploring leg in the Northern Hemisphere.
The next six months or so are going to be amazing – I have no doubt of that. I’ve got big plans for Italy, Spain, France and parts of Eastern Europe.
I don’t need to tell you that these countries have some of the richest sources of culture, history, natural beauties and amazing cuisine in the world. There is going to be no shortage of experiences to share with you from across the continent.
But it is going to take me a while to adjust from life in South America – and to not be too upset to have left it behind. As it turned out, I did only a small fraction of the things I wanted to do there and skipped entire countries that I was looking forward to.
(Oh well, a good excuse to go back soon.)
South America was a continent that gradually grew on me. It was not love at first sight – it was a process that happened without me even realising it, until one day it as hard to imagine being anywhere else.
I think, in my case, this was because it was the variety of experiences I had there that made me love it so much.
It was the feeling that there was always a new adventure, that the unexpected was always waiting for me around a corner, and that everything was going to be wrapped up with the hospitality, warmth and honesty of the people.
There will be more South American stories for me to share with you in the future, when I return to see the areas I missed (in particular, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia). For now, though, I’d like to share a few of the highlights from my time there in the past four months.
Favourite city: Santiago, Chile
Favourite natural beauty: Iguazu Falls
Favourite experience off-the-beaten path: The indigenous tribes of Paraguay
Favourite UNESCO World Heritage site: Ischigualasto National Park
Favourite region: Patagonia
Favourite ecotourism moment: Working with the turtles in Uruguay
Favourite cultural experience: Walking the favelas of Rio de Janeiro
Favourite challenge: Climbing the Villarrica volcano
How do you feel when you leave a region you’ve travelled for a long time? Is it hard for you to move on?