Eleven months down and just one and a half to go until the end of this incredible journey. This month has probably been the most chilled out month of the whole year because frankly our bodies and minds were lagging behind. We were tired, exhausted actually and we took the break that we needed to recharge and get back to our best.
In Peru the food was pretty awful so we hadn’t been eating all that well. We had been at altitude for so long and finally coming back down was so nice for our lungs and finally we got some much needed sunshine. It’s incredible just how miserable grey skies and lack of sun can make you. Also, the beach and being by the water makes me so much happier and that’s where we have spent most of the month.
The month started in Paracas in Peru, it is a small fishing village with not a lot going on apart from boat trips out to nearby islands which are home to a variety of birds, penguins and seals. Unfortunately for us we were stuck there for 3 days because boat trips had been cancelled due to a storm and by the time we did get on a boat and reached the Ballesta’s Islands I was so unimpressed. We saw one penguin and about 10 sea lions so nothing spectacular. But it was a good rest spot and we did do a quick trip out to Paracas National Reserve to get some amazing views of the ocean.
The final stop in Peru was Lima and having heard awful things from pretty much everyone we had met along the way our expectations were low but how wrong every one was! I loved Lima, such a vibrant city with loads going on. I think I’ve definitely learnt I’m a city person because Lima and I totally clicked.
We went to cafe’s, visited the Mario Testino gallery, walked through neighbourhoods, watched paraglider soar above us and just generally enjoying being somewhere clean.
After much consideration we decided to skip Ecuador and flew straight to Colombia, as I said before we needed some sunshine, relaxation and Colombia was the place. We flew straight up to Santa Marta and spent a few days there before going to Tayrona National Park where we spent the night sleeping in hammocks above the ocean. It was just blissful.
The walk to Tayrona was so hot but it was beautiful scenery the whole way there and the prize at the end was a gorgeous beach.
Barranquilla was the next destination and we stayed with a lovely lady there who was the Grandmother of a child that I taught back in London a few years ago. His family very kindly put me in touch with her so we spent two days listening to her stories, practicing our Spanish on the rest of the family and eating hearty home cooked meals.
We had a quick stop in Cartagena for just one night and caught up with Chelsea and Sean who we travelled with in Bolivia and Peru. Cartagena is one of the prettiest places we have visited in South America albiet seriously touristy. It was catering for the more high end traveller so we found it outrageously expensive but we enjoyed it. We sat on the city wall, drank beers and watched the sunset before drinking cocktails on the street in the scorching heat.
The bit that we have been looking forward to for months was finally here – Providencia or Old Providence as the locals call it. This is a tiny island situated off the coast of Nicaragua which is part of Colombia but the locals like to think of themselves as Providence first then English and then Colombia. The locals are Caribbean for sure, the way the look, talk and behave is so far removed from Colombia.
The island hasn’t been ‘discovered’ as such yet and the locals will do everything in their power to keep it that way. We were two of I would say about 50-100 tourists that are on the island at any given time. There are no tourist shops, information centres, people trying to sell you stuff it is just so chilled out and exactly what we hoped it would be.
We rented a little house and for two weeks we have slept a lot, visited every beach, kayaked, snorkelled, drank coco loco’s and just enjoyed the simple life.
Travelling long term is not a holiday! Although we have loved travelling for so long and we really are so happy to have done this, after 11 months we definitely needed a break. For two weeks we didn’t have to wonder where was next, we didn’t have to book a bed in a hostel after searching the internet for an hour, buy a bus ticket somewhere, wear flip flops in the shower, pack and unpack our bags every few days and decide where and what to eat each day. It was just what we needed to unpack and feel like we actually lived somewhere even if it’s just for two weeks.
Plans for next month:
Colombia’s coffee region
San Andres Island
We have some people coming to meet us next month which we are both looking forward to, although we have met some incredible people along the way who we shared our travels with it’s going to be great to see some friendly faces.
Check out my other monthly round up posts from my year of travels