Thursday, December 29, 2011

"I apologize for the delay, and we will be on our way shortly!"


Ok, so I have completely and entirely neglected the blog for the last long while. But with another trip pending, it is time to catch you up on the past 8 months.

Here are the cliffs notes:

Rio was cool. We stayed there for a week. We toured the favelas, went to a football game and had an amazing night out with some American Air Force guys.
Favela in Rio

With a rockstar hangover, we jumped on a plane bound for Belize. We stayed there and laid on the amazing tropical Caribbean beaches for a couple of weeks, until the outrageous cost of food got the best of us (a box of triscuits cost $7...SEVEN DOLLARS).

THE $7 crackers
I headed back to Canada land with the saddest tanned face you ever saw.

Sadly back earlier than expected, I spent a couple weeks at home before I needed to get out of there. The Lake was calling me. I returned to my steady summer job a little early , in beautiful Lake of the Woods.

As always, the summer flew by.  Working 16 hour shifts, drinking wine under the light of a million stars, watching the sun rise and set, fishing, tubing and boating around the lake, taking on more responsibility than I knew I could handle and the summer was gone in a flash!

The end of summer always means the beginning of a new travel adventure. This year I decided to stay and work in the woods until Christmas. For the first time in my life, I spent the hours of 8 - 5 in an office. In a chair. In front of a computer. With a phone and my fake chipper voice urging you to leave a message. I’m not going to lie, at first it was hard…to sit down all day. I eventually got used to it and here we are now.

In 11 days I jump on a plane to complete a dream, a goal, a mission; that when we first joked about, I never dreamed it would become a reality. But here we are…I’M GOING TO ASIA!!!!!

Stay tuned for more details!

Join me as I TRAVEL MY LIFE AWAY!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The LAST Bus Ride

Oh Rio....I'm going to like you!!!

After the craziness of Carnaval, Larry and I found ourselves on another endless bus ride, this time headed to Rio de Janeiro. I don’t even know how many hours this bus ride was… 28 hours…..32 hours……….37 hours…who knows. I was really starting to feel like all of my time in South America was being spent on a bus. Somewhere on this endless ride, Larry and I started to discuss what we wanted to do next. Our original plan was to bus in to Peru to hike up to Machu Picchu. The thought of logging more bus hours heading to yet another overly populated tourist destination made me want to throw myself out the window of the bus and splat myself on the Brazilian highway. We thought about our finances and decided that flying wasn’t really an option. Until the instant people teleporter machine was invented, the bus was our only option.

I started to think about everything I had wanted to do on this trip. The two most important things for me were Antarctica and Carnaval. I had already done both of those. I also really wanted to lay on the famous beaches of Brazil, bike down the World’s Most Dangerous Road, see the Amazon Jungle and see the salt flats in Bolivia. I also wanted to see Machu Picchu. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that I wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t make it to Machu Picchu this time. Part of the reason I wanted to go was that it was such a big tourist attraction…I mean how could you go to South America and not go to the famed Machu Picchu, right? Well for the amount of things I had already crossed off my bucket list, I wasn’t going to be sad to have to come back to South America another time. Machu Picchu could wait. I could not survive another bus ride.

When I explained this to Larry, she was relieved, but as always, the supportive friend who wanted to make sure I was really ok with skipping Peru. I told her I would go on a murderous rampage if I had to endure another multi day bus journey.  We left it at that, but I knew we were not bussing it to Peru.

When we finally arrived in Rio, we got to our hostel only to find that they didn’t have enough beds for us. The hostel people were great, and we got a private room for the price of a dorm. We were more than grateful for the room, as the crowded buses and the crowds of Carnival had me nearly at my limit with crowds and people. In our little room, Larry and I searched flights and destinations until we came up with a plan. Randomly, on a whim, because it was cheap to get there, because it was tropical and because I hadn’t yet seen the Caribbean Sea,  we booked flights to Belize. We were going to spend a month on its picturesque turquoise water beaches, then head back to Canada. This was a plan I could jump on!

Copacabana Boardwalk

I was ecstatic and overwhelmed with relief…it was true, NO MORE BUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A single thought had never made me so happy!!

NOT where we stayed...notice giant Christ at the top left

We had a week in Rio and were determined to fit in as much as we could before we departed South America. Early the next day we headed down to Copacabana Beach. The whole way there, I had Barry Manilow’s song lyrics in my head. “At the Copa….Copacabana…..they fell in love”. Little did I know that these words would nearly ring true in the very near future. I was missing a bunch of lyrics in the middle, but all I could think of all day everyday we were in Rio was “at the Copa…Copacabana…” It was a broken record in my head that Larry and I were constantly belting it out at random intervals.

At the Copa...Copacabana....

We lazed on the beach, ate fresh prawns from a man selling them on the beach and gazed at the Christ the Redeemer statue from afar.


 When we had enough of the beach we hit the streets and window shopped our way to Ipanema beach. It was a lovely day, and already I was loving Rio! We had big plans for the week, including a football game, a tour of the favelas and more beach. Knowing I was not going to be suffering through another bus journey had lifted my spirits and I wanted to soak up all of Rio de Janeiro.

Copacabana Beach

Up next, a Brazilian football game, a ghetto tour and helping some boys find an ATM.


Friday, April 8, 2011


The streets of Salvador

The crowd is pulsing with energy. A semi truck is blasting music from a band on its roof top. Twelve people are touching you all at once. You are dripping sweat. Your clothes are soaked through with a combination of your sweat, other peoples sweat and spilled beer. Confetti rains down from the sky. You dance your heart out to the unfamiliar beat. You sing at the top of your lungs even though you don’t understand the Spanish lyrics. The energy is intense, electrifying and contagious. Welcome to Carnaval!

After narrowly surviving the 52 hour bus ride, we finally had made it to Salvador. Boredom, anticipation and too many stops plagued us the entire way.  We arrived late at night, and were exhausted (I still don’t understand why sitting on a bus for an endless amount of hours makes you tired, but it does).  We decided just to go to bed so we could fully experience Carnaval the next day.

I had no idea what to expect in regard to Carnaval. All I knew was that it was a huge and crazy party. But that was enough to make it a “must do“ sometime in my life. The Carnaval in Salvador is actually listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest street party. More than 2 million people are drinking and dancing in the streets every night for a week straight. Carnaval began hundreds of years ago as a festival leading up to Ash Wednesday. It quickly evolved into a celebration of indulgence; one last party filled with food, music, booze and sex, before the 40 days of abstinence and fasting until Easter. Today Brazil’s Carnaval is known all over the world. I was so excited to be a part of this world renown party!!

It was more than I could have ever imagined. More people, more music, more sweat and more fun. It is impossible to describe the energy created by more than 2 million drinking and dancing people. It was also overwhelming. If you had enough of the people, the booze and the heat, there was no escape. One night Laurie and I tried to leave early and we spent 2 full hours pushing, fighting and being tossed around, just trying to get out. God forbid you got sick or hurt in the middle…you would never survive.

We had gotten into the routine of heading down to the beach in the late afternoon with our hostel mates and hitting the streets for Carnaval right after that. We went to Barra Beach, famous for its sunsets, and sat on lounge chairs soaking up the sun and sipping the famous Brazilian cocktails, caprihianas.  A caprihina is a delicious concoction made with cachaca (sugarcane alcohol), sugar, and fresh limes. You can also get them flavoured with fresh fruit such as pineapple, mango, kiwi, strawberry or passion fruit.

Me and a pineapple caprihina
As the food vendors roamed the beach (and by vendor I mean guy walking by with a tupperwear container) we feasted on an array of Brazilian street foods. Most things I don’t even know the name of, but we ate deep fried pastry filled with meat, dough shaped pears filled with cheese and chicken, fresh grilled prawns, and my favourite, roasted cheese on a stick. A guy would walk by carrying a plastic container filled with a soft cheese on a stick and a pot filled with hot coals. When you wanted a cheese stick, he would take one out, cover it in herbs and roast it over his hot coals right there, and hand you a wonderfully hot, gooey, delicious hunk of cheese on a stick. Yum!
Meat filled pastry

Sitting on Barra beach one of those days, I experienced a moment that will stay with me forever. The sun was setting over the ocean, casting a warm glow all around. I had an ice cold pineapple caprihiana in one hand and  freshly roasted cheese on a stick in the other. I was surrounded by a great group of travellers from all over the world, who had quickly become my friends. I was getting a $5 dollar foot massage. I was in Brazil. At Carnaval. I had achieved another check mark on my life’s to do list. This is what pure and utter happiness (or too many caprihianas!)  feels like. It was one of the moments when I look around and think, my life is amazing!!! Nothing could have made that moment better.

Me and Larry as the sun sets

Me and Larry, a few cocktails in

Every evening after the sun had set and we had a few cocktails in us, we headed up to a little rooftop bar which was situated where Carnaval began. We would drink a bit more as we watched the party gear up. When it was crazy in the streets we went in and joined the massive party. We drank more, danced to music we didn’t know, listened to music we had never heard before and just revelled in the atmosphere of people.

And it starts...

A big part of Salvador’s Carnaval are the blocos. A bloco is a giant truck that has been refitted with a band or dj on top, a bar inside and is sectioned off from the street crowd with a square of rope going all around it. The drive through the streets extremely slowly, giving the streets a constant parade of different music. Party goers can pay a few hundred dollars to participate in the bloco and walk with it, in the confines of the rope. It is a little safer and not as crazy as the streets in the confines of a bloco. I am never the type to pay just for safety, so we just hit the streets and got lost in the crowd.

Our hostel mates

To escape the crowds, we would sometimes hit the beach, which followed parallel to the party in the streets. You can watch the chaos, but feel the ocean breeze, go for a swim and get away from the crazy crowds. One night on the beach we met some local Brazilians. Although I could not understand a word they said, I somehow ended up dancing with them on the beach. That was another highlight of my Carnaval experience; trying (and failing miserably) to stomp and shake and feel the music with some locals.

Every night we would escape Carnaval in the wee hours of the morning and sit at a stand serving “agua coco”, translation - coconut water. A fresh green coconut would be hacked open and a straw thrown in, so we could rehydrate on the deliciousness of fresh, cold coconut water. They were supposed to help with the hangovers too!!!

On the last night of Carnaval, David Guetta was going to be on a bloco. Laurie and I were so excited! We had our typical day of beach sunset caprihianas and then headed to the rooftop bar, where we could see his bloco getting prepared. As soon as David Guetta was on the move, so were we. We followed that truck all the way through Carnaval, singing, dancing and having a great time. It was a fantastic way to end a week long celebration.

Yup, David Guetta is up there!!

With the end of Carnaval, I completed another mission on my life’s to do list. With that, I had another mission that needed to be accomplished immediately. Liver detox. Mine was hurting. Next, we were bussing to Rio de Janeiro to relax on the famous beach of Copacabana, this time without a cocktail in hand!

Up next, at the Copa…Copacabana….

Join me as I TRAVEL MY LIFE AWAY!!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quest for Brazil, with a little waterfalls on the way

                                                               The cruise ended and we were back in Buenos Aires. We had spent a few days here before the cruise, and I would have loved to spend a few more days here, but we needed to make it up to Salvador for Carnaval (the biggest street party in the world), just a few days away. We had heard horror stories from other travellers about trying to get Brazilian visas after already leaving your home country. I had heard it could take from a week to ten days, time we did not have. I also heard that you must have proof of your onward travel, accommodation booked for your whole stay, proof of funds to sustain you there, a contact in Brazil, and that the visa could cost up to $250. Of course we didn't have onward travel booked, as we change our minds often, had only booked the hostel for Carnaval, had no bank statements printed out, knew no one in Brazil, and need our visas the day after we got there if we were going to make it on time for Carnaval.

Our trusty guide book suggested that the easiest and fastest place to have Brazilian visas processed was in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. I wanted to see the world famous waterfalls anyway, so we crossed our fingers and jumped on a bus bound for Iguazu. The bus ride was surprisingly uneventful and went by quickly.

We arrived in Puerto Iguazu without a hostel booked. It was a small town and we thought we could easily find somewhere to stay. Well, turns out every gringo in Argentina had the same idea as us and was hoping for a quick visa to Brazil. We wandered for quite some time before we found a place that was cheap enough and had beds for us. We dumped our bags and made a dash for the Brazilian consulate to see exactly what we needed to get our visas.

Turns out it wasn't too difficult to complete the application process. We needed to fill out a form online, print it, pay 276 pesos (about $70) in EXACT change and give them a passport sized photo. As long as we got this all in before 11 am, we would receive our visas by lunch time the next day. It was only 9:30 now, so we got to work. We went to an internet cafe so we could easily print the applications when we were done. Other travellers were there trying to get their visas in as well. And then the problems started.

First, I could not open the website where the application form was. I tried 32 different ways but nothing worked. Laurie was able to get to the application form and spent 20 minutes filling out all the minute details. When it came time to hit send, and put the application through the internet cut out. Just to tease us, it would cut back in and allow her to fill out the form again but always stop when she needed to send it. This went on for 45 minutes. Now it was 10:15...we had less than 45 minutes to complete the application process if we wanted to leave tomorrow. We went back to the hostel and used their wireless connection to get the application forms in, but had no way of printing the forms we needed. We tried to take the computer to the consulate with our reference numbers for our applications, but they refused and said it must be printed out. We went back to the internet cafe to try and print them out there. While Laurie tried to get the applications printed, I went on a mission for the exact change we needed to pay for the visas. In Canada, change is not a problem. In Argentina, change is a precious commodity. No one willingly hands out change, and often a shop will refuse to sell you something if you only have a big bill.

With 10 minutes to the deadline, Laurie was struggling at the internet cafe because the program that her computer used to save our applications was not compatible with whatever South American shit the internet cafe was using. So close, but so far, we were nearly pulling our hair out. The internet came back on in the cafe and the lady was able to go online and retrieve our applications on her computer. She got one printed out before it cut out again. Miraculously I had managed to return with the proper change. It was 11:10, ten minutes after the deadline that we finally had both pages printed. We ran down to the consulate anyway, hoping maybe he would give us a break and let us submit our applications a few minutes late.

It was 11:17 by the time we arrived there. No deal. The only thing to ever run on time in all of South America seems to be the application deadline at the Brazilian consulate.

It was not the end of the world; one more day meant we could spend an entire day at the waterfalls. The next day we were up early to make sure our applications were in with plenty of time to spare and then headed to the falls.

Iguazu falls was beautiful! We started at the bottom and worked our way up. The bottom circuit provided a close up view of the falls and the certainty of getting wet. The upper circuit gave a spectacular view from the top of the falls, encompassing much of the surrounding landscape. Devil’s Throat was an amazing show of how powerful the waterfalls actually are, with water spraying everywhere and the deafening thunder of crashing water. We had a great day at the park and were exhausted when the day was through.

Too many tourists on the lower circut

We awoke early the next morning and checked out of the hostel. We had to wait until lunch time to pick up our Brazilian visas and we were crossing our fingers that they went through ok. In the meantime we went to the bus station to find out how we could get to Salvador. None of the bus companies seemed to go direct to Salvador, so we were looking for tickets to Rio where we figured we could get another bus to Salvador. After 4 bus companies told us that buses to Rio were sold out for the next 3 days, my heart sank in my chest. We were already going to be missing the first day of Carnaval, something that has been on my life’s to do list ever since I had a list, I did not want to arrive for only 1 night of the giant party. We searched a little more and eventually found a company that offered non stop service to Salvador. The good news was there was a bus leaving that afternoon. The bad news was that it was not a luxury bus, it was going to take 52 hours, and it was ridiculously expensive.

We picked up our visas without a problem, made some sandwiches for the bus journey and later that afternoon set out on what was sure to be another adventure.

Up next…Carnaval Salvador Style…Partying in the streets with 2 million people.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Larry did it!!! I have one more to go!!!

                                                                     Laurie (aka Larry) and I have been on a quest to travel all 7 continents. She has finally achieved the goal!!! I asked her if she would please write a post on how it feels to have accomplished a goal that once upon a time was a drunken pipe dream. She replied that she cannot write (but her mom says she is a good writer), so we decided to do this interview style.

Crissy = BOLD

Ok, here we are with Larry from Balzac (Alberta), an avid traveller who has been to all 7 continents, and who just so happens to be my travel partner.
So Larry, where have you been?

I have been all over Canada, the USA, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mozambique, Egypt, England, Scotland, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Poland, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Antarctica and Uruguay. Over the next two months, I will also add Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.

Larry, what inspired you to travel in the first place?

It wasn't so much an act of inspiration as an act of ….ummm…I just needed a change. I had finished university, was working a “real” job as an industrial research coordinator for a large commercial real estate company. I was unhappy and bored with my life. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a change. I wanted to travel but couldn't afford it, so I reviewed my options of ways to work and travel. I came up with the idea of teaching English in Japan. I never expected it to become what it has become. It was only meant to be a one year contract, not a never ending lifestyle.

Were you scared to leave home for the first time?

No. I really wasn’t. It felt surreal. It didn’t really feel like it was happening even as it was happening. But I was never scared to leave.

 Do you miss home at all?

Not really. When I first got to Japan, I missed the music and the bars of home, but I never really missed home. I missed my dog. But recently, since I have been doing this for fucking ages, wait….don’t say fucking…my mom reads this…… within the last 6 months or so, I miss home more than I ever have up to this point. But I have been away from home for nearly two years this time.  My toes feel soft.

What inspired the idea of travelling to all 7 continents?

It was while I was in Australia the second time, we were planning our lives and decided that we needed some direction to our travels. So we made a goal of all 7 continents. Seemed like a crazy goal at the time, but still fairly achievable….it may have been a drunken idea….

What do you think of your partner in crime after all of this time? (heehee that’s me!!!)

We still get still get along perfectly fine. We never fight or argue. We make a great team as one persons strengths balances out the others weaknesses. Crissy is the planner, I’m the navigator. We’re a winning combination and I couldn’t do it without her. I’m sure she is what has kept me going as long as I have.

Tell me what it feels like to have accomplished such a huge dream.

Doesn't feel like anything. No…ok….. I am proud…I am proud of what I have achieved. I am pretty young to have done and seen as much as I have. And I am proud of myself, because while it has been fun, it hasn’t always been easy and it is a big accomplishment.

What has kept you motivated to keep travelling for all of these years?

Uuummm…having a goal has really helped. And having awesome friends who are similarly situated in life acting as my travel companions. They’ve kept me focused on my travel goals and what “life planning” really means.

Describe some of the life lessons you have learned as a backpacker.

Ultimately, all people, doesn't matter their nationality, culture, ethnicity, whatever, are basically all the same. I think people are ultimately good. I've learned how to be resourceful and how to live on nearly nothing. School is overrated. Life experiences can teach you so much more. I’ve also learned that 3 day old, 48 degree meat sandwiches are still good to eat. And sometimes its ok to have wine for breakfast and ice cream for dinner.

What has been your lowest travel moment? The highest?

My lowest moment was probably when I was stuck in Japan, I was jobless, squatting in my apartment, with all the time in the world, but no money to do anything. I was alone in a foreign land and I was miserable. The company I was working for went bankrupt and I was jobless. There were a lot of negative feelings associated with that time. 

My best moment was…..I don’t know. Being able to reflect on all the places I’ve been and done and seen. There’s no one moment that supersedes everything else. 

Larry you have seen more of the world in your young 25 years than most people will see in a lifetime. Do you have any words of inspiration for those who dream about seeing the world?

You can do it……..! Don’t let anybody tell you that it is too scary, too expensive, too different, too hard, too whatever………… is not that scary, it is not that expensive, it is not that hard. You will learn so much about yourself and others, and travelling has the potential to be one of the best experiences of your life. So just go for it! Basically don’t let anyone else tell you you can’t do it. It is just there for your taking.

Any regrets? Anything you wish you would have done along the way? 

I should have stayed in Australia longer the first time. I wasn’t ready to leave when I did. Though looking at where I am now, it has all worked out in the end.

So now that you have seen and done it all… what’s next?

That is a good question Crissy, (in her best interviewing voice). The joke now is outer space (Larry, it is not a joke!!!!  Google “Virgin Galactic“). Maybe to see if I can extend my travels to span 5 years…….but I don’t know….I figure it out as I go. Maybe eventually my amazing travel partner and I will open our own hostel.

That is all with Larry for now, but stay tuned as we continue our adventures around South America!!!

Laurie and giraffe in South Africa, AFRICA

Laurie sea kayaking in Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Laurie wearing her favorite Dutch shoes in Amsterdam, EUROPE

Laurie in Hiroshima, Japan, ASIA

Laurie and friends (including me!) in Niagara Falls, Canada, NORTH AMERICA

Laurie at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, SOUTH AMERICA


Up next, Iguazu Falls and the quest for Brazilian visas!!
Join me (and Larry) as I TRAVEL MY LIFE AWAY!!!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011


                                                                    The first two full days of the cruise we spent at sea. We were still in the tropicalness of Argentina, so we spent our days laying by the pool and drinking margaritas.

 Every evening we would have a cocktail and watch the sunset over the Atlantic with absolutely nothing to impede the view. It was spectacular.

After two and a half days on the boat, Laurie and I were excited for our first port of call, the Falkland Islands. This little island in the middle of nowhere actually belongs to the United Kingdom, so they speak English and use the pound as their currency. That is pretty much the most exciting fact about the Falkland Islands. That, and the fact that sheep out number people 3 - 1. We didn’t have anything planned, so we just wandered the little town, and were done in only a few hours. It was probably the most boring place I have ever been.

Our next port of call was Antarctica. I was a bit disappointed because when we originally booked the cruise, we were actually going to be docking in Paradise Bay, Antarctica but changes to the law now prevented us from doing so. Antarctica is the most untouched place on the face of the earth, and it is important to protect its ecological surroundings. As of 2012, large cruise ships are no longer allowed to enter into Antarctic waters, to help preserve its environment. We were the last cruise ship of the 2011 season and therefore the last cruise ship ever to sail to Antarctica. Tourist boats are still allowed, but only small ones. When we were looking at prices, these trips ranged from $16,000 to $25,000 for 10 days. Way too much for me…I could travel the world for a year with that kind of cash!! Tourism to Antarctica has risen exponentially in the last 10 years and has left a lasting impact on the pristine environment. These recent changes will help preserve the ecosystem, but will drastically increase the prices for tourism to Antarctica. To date, of the over 7 billion people on this earth, only 600,000 of them have ever been to Antarctica. And I am one of those people.

We were going to be cruising by Elephant Island, Antarctica at 7 am, so we put on nearly all the clothes in our bags and were up having breakfast by 6 am. I did not want to miss a thing!! One look out the window and my heart fell in my chest. It was so cloudy and foggy you could not see anything but grey haze out the window. We ate breakfast and then got a spot inside on the observation deck.

Laurie bundled up...inside. It was that cold!!

 As we got closer to Antarctica, the fog started to fade away. My first glimpse of the last continent was a bright white iceberg that seemed to glow in the greyness of the sky.

The water was rough, tossing the huge ship from side to side. Chunks of ice floated all around in the water, bobbing like rubber duckies in the bathtub. The fog lifted even more, and I could see the barren land of ice and rock. It looked absolutely inhospitable and amazing.

I could not stand to be looking at this through the window any longer. I pulled my toque down, nearly covering my eyes and zipped my jacket up to the top. I was going to brave the Antarctic weather. I ran up the stairs to the outdoor observation deck and was nearly blown off the boat.

Being blown away...and wearing nearly everything in my backpack

 The winds were so strong that I could not breathe if I faced into it. But this was a once in a life time experience, so I stared out at the end of the world and turned my head when I needed to breathe. It was beautiful and intense. Most people in the world would never get to see this sight. That alone was awe inspiring. The land was nearly black, mountainous rock; the snow was stark white and made for such a sharp contrast. There was an ice sheet that jutted out of the land and stretched on for miles and miles. It is difficult to describe in words and impossible to capture in a picture. It truly is one of those things that you need to see to understand.

Ice sheet

Looking off one side of the ship, you could see a dark and scary storm cloud moving in at an alarmingly fast pace. It was moving faster than the ship and was quickly impeding our view of Antarctica. When we couldn’t see anymore, Laurie and I decided to have a nap while we cruised our way to Paradise Bay, Antarctica.

That damn cloud!!!

 I awoke a few hours later to an announcement. Due to a storm, we could not venture any further into Antarctic waters. The waves were 24 feet high and were going to get higher. Paradise Bay was experiencing a blizzard and visibility was zero. It was not safe for the ship to proceed. With no visibility, we risked hitting an iceberg, destroying part of the fragile environment, and possibly suffering the same fate as the Titanic. That storm cloud I saw earlier was the reason I could not make it any further into Antarctica.

At first, I was really upset. We had paid so much money for this cruise, and I had not been able to see what I wanted to. After speaking with other guests, I came to understand, that because Antarctica is so extreme and remote, this happens often. You put your fate in the hands of the weather, and cannot win every time. At least I was lucky and was able to see anything at all. So, even though it was not everything I expected, I checked Antarctica off on my list of continents. Six down, one to go!! Then I proceeded to look into Antarctica trips from New Zealand. I need to see more.

Since we had turned back early from Antarctica, we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina a day early and had two days to explore the little town. Ushuaia is considered “the end of the world” or “fin del mundo” in Spanish. It is the southern most city in the world.

There was a lot to do here, and we spent the first day wandering around, taking a tour of the city and marvelling at the beauty of this little town. On one side it is framed by the beauty of the Atlantic, on another side the breathtaking, snow capped Andes and on the other side, the National Park of Tierra del Fuego.

The City of Ushuaia

On our second day we went on a tour to Beagle Channel (where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet). We set sail on a yacht, decked out in some serious boating gear, consisting of pylon orange, XXXL water proof jackets and pants.

 The first stop was an island where sea lions and flying penguins hung out. The flying penguins are apparently penguins that got part way through the evolution process but not all the way. They look exactly like the non evolved penguins, but had reached the evolutionary point that allowed them to fly.  We went for a hike on an island and learned about the natives, who were nomadic naked canoers. Westerners killed them off with disease and guns.

As we left Ushuaia, we sailed around Cape Horn, Chile. For some reason, the cruise gave us certificates saying that we have been to Cape Horn. Not sure why…or why we didn’t get them for Antarctica too.

We had a few more days at sea, then reached Puerto Madryn, Argentina. We were back into the tropical weather and finally, for the first time on this trip, I was able to put my toes in the sand. We spent most of the day walking along the beach.

Next we headed over to Montevideo, Uruguay. It was the 21st country I have been to. We walked around the city, saw the touristy sights and walked along the beach boardwalk. It was a Sunday and most things were closed, so we were only there for a few hours.

 The next day, we were arriving back in Buenos Aires and were no longer going to be living in the lap of luxury. It was back to the backpacker life, with cramped dorms, dirty bathrooms and chocolate-less pillows.

Up next, Iguazu Falls and the quest for Brazilian visas.