Hazy Hanoi Mornings

When we arrived in Hanoi, it was early, around 7am. We checked into the Titanic hotel. Why we ever thought checking in somewhere called the Titanic was an idea of merit, I have no clue. As we climbed the stairwell to our third floor room, we noticed the lack of people, presence of mold and the numerous mattresses in hallways, awaiting their own mysterious fates. We tried to give the hotel the benefit of the doubt; perhaps it was to prevent dampness and mold? No. No, no. Neither of us are particularly precious travellers, but we don’t fuck around when it comes to bed bugs. Too many traumatic experiences leave you scarred. We dumped our bags in a sad little heap and enquired about junks for Halong Bay, then we decided to go and grab some breakfast and contemplated our chances of getting a moment’s sleep in the Titanic.

We went to an expensive cafe-styled diner by the river; half-full of early morning commuters, stopping en route to enjoy a hot coffee and escape the blaring propaganda on the pungent, misty streets. We plonked our travel-weary selves in a booth, and ordered some beer. At 8am. We proceeded to get a touch drunk, bought cigarettes from the bar and smoked them at our little booth, overlooking the paradoxical calm water and busy street. We took any opportunity to drink a beer. It felt foreign, somehow tranquil and delightful, a little out of the ordinary and had the feeling of a morning we were too exhausted to continue, but knew we wouldn’t forget.

We sat in the breakfast diner with the happy, dopey, drunken buzz produced after little sleep and cold beer, we partook in little discussion. The polite Vietnamese service staff looked at us cautiously, perhaps wondering if we would bother paying our bill. We walked the streets trying to find new accommodation that wasn’t home to rats and bed bugs, and who could store our precious things while on the junk. We found one, for $30 a night, a large expense for us at the time, but neither of us cared after the previous evening’s cocktail of red wine, Valium and no sleep, topped up with a morning beer. So we awkwardly set about disembarking the Titanic, and boarding a cute little hotel that we bunked up in for our unsuspected number remaining days. After a night of wandering, and familiarising ourselves with the new city, we went to bed exhausted and content. The following morning we packed our overnight bags and checked out of our nice new hotel, we arrived at the meeting spot to be informed that there was a typhoon, so our jaunt to Halong Bay was cancelled. Confusedly we crossed the street back to the hotel, re-checked in, took our packs upstairs, sighed, slept and showered. It felt like a Vietnamese Groundhog Day. Had we dreamed we arrived the morning before?

Hanoi had not been going to plan, but when does extended travel ever go to plan? Isn’t that the best thing about travelling indefinitely – finding your preconceived plans and ideas are better abandoned, and letting the buses, trains and typhoons take you where they fancy.

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Vietnamese Buses – a different type of ride

Going from Southern Vietnam to Northern Vietnam is a long journey overland, what Vietnam lacks in width, it certainly makes up for in length. In our short time in Vietnam, we took a number of  overnight sleeper buses instead of flying or catching a train. Every ride was memorable. On our trip from Nha Trang to Hoi An we took a sleeper bus, on which we met an English couple with who we promptly befriended and during the first few moments of uncomfort in our bus-bunk-beds – three wide across and two high – we discussed the books they were (re)reading, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and, Of Mice and Men, as well as the ominous copy of Joyce’s Ulysses that lay open, and one-third read, in my lap. Settling in for the long haul, we exchanged Valium for red wine; the most appropriate form of currency we knew how to exchange – they had the wine.

Our feet all touched the end of our beds and we were unsure of how to get any rest at all. I devised ways to alert me if someone was entering my bags: noisy plastic bags placed with crunchy chips over my valuables, my feet laying atop my daypack. I didn’t sleep much. On any of our rides.

From Hoi An to Hanoi, somewhere along the coast, we were almost left behind. Our bus pulled out of the rest stop with everything we owned on it while we ate across the road. A friendly local told us to jump on the back of his motorcycle and he tore through traffic, stopping multiple buses until we found the one that was ours.

On our first ride from Saigon to Nha Trang I had scored the middle bed, the one with no sides, and no working seatbelt. I was a lucky. The man who had bunked to my right was grinding his jaw like I have never heard; squeaky, gritty rubber, even with earplugs it made my skin crawl. I don’t think I’ve seen, or heard, someone who has taken seven ecstasy pills with jaw action like this man. He also put his feet on top of mine. Halfway through the night, AT and I swapped beds.

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Nostalgic Nicaraguan Nights

There is a certain sadness felt when you plan something for a long time, and before you realise, it ceases to be your reality; it’s expected that you will experience somewhat of a come down, an anti-climax and a worrying feeling that, perhaps, the best time of your life just passed you by.

Another Christmas and New Year have come and gone, and it seems natural to pause and contemplate what the previous year held for you. For me, it held years of planning, working, saving and, finally, dreams coming to fruition. It felt like a slice of beauty, served on a beautiful, ornate plate that had a few chips but those chips were endearingly part of what made the plate so unique, and every fine detail and crack on it all the more striking. A year ago AT and I were in Nicaragua, we had just parted ways with some of the most inspiring people we would meet on the trip after spending an inexplicable month together. The sadness of leaving them and not knowing when, or even if, we would indeed see one another again was exceeded only by our eagerness to get to the universally loved Nicaragua.

Our time in Nicaragua was splattered with so much natural beauty, sunshine, colour, wildlife, food, architecture and rum. Oh, the rum. If I was able to endorse a product, it would be Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s most famous export. The sunsets we watched over the tranquil beach town of San Juan del Sur were some of the most remarkable I have ever witnessed. The uninterrupted wash of blue. The reflection of the fishing boats swaying ever so slightly in the calm, mirror-like waters. The children kicking a soccer ball on the beach. The happy travellers who considered themselves some of the luckiest people in the world, sitting along the concrete boardwalk sipping Toña and holding 50c tacos that dripped down their elbows with nothing but happiness emanating from their faces. AT and I sitting atop one of the best positioned bars in the world, watching the bright orange ball descend from the sky and slip quietly below the Pacific, ordering a half-sized bottle of Flor de Caña, happily handed to us by locals served with a small bottle of unrefrigerated soda water, ice and freshly cut lime splayed around a small white saucer… It is those moments that I hold close; the tranquility, the calmness I felt from within, the inner-peace that so many seek, and rarely find.

I recall our days spent in Granada walking along the river. Watching baseball games and hearing the children’s excited exclamations in Spanish. Wandering the streets with Hemingway in my back pocket – the product of stumbling across one of the best English book stores we visited, feeling so elated to have so much literary choice surrounding me. Quizzically admiring the contrast of the brilliant blue sky, the white-washed buildings and the warm light flooding the sides of churches. Peering inside abandoned buildings and old bell-towers. Looking around my ankles to find glitter swirling around my feet and having no idea why. The market bursting with colours foreign to my colour wheel, and scents so pungent they stole my desire to inhale. Laying in a hammock and reading and writing after enjoying the distinctly flavoured Nicaraguan coffee. Sitting at a table in the street, with a drink, our note pads, novels, cigarettes and buying the salted lime and chili nuts that were slung around the necks of many children. The delicious, sweet, stewed bananas served with almost every meal. Discovering gallo pinto, admiring the simplicity and inexplicable allure of the famous staple. We spent 10 days in Nicaragua, nowhere near as long as we wanted, but they were 10 of the most tranquil days I have had the pleasure of experiencing, I couldn’t have conjured similar in my imagination had I not experienced those moments.

Since arriving back in Sydney, I continue to nostalgically contemplate where we were on the exact same date last year. I’ve concluded that playing my This Time Last Year We Were… game is a form of denial. Denial that it is all over, and now feels like a snapshot of someone else’s life like a celluloid highlights reel, left abandoned in a box. But strangely, I seek this melancholia, I continually go down a dangerous path of trying to re-live the memories that are ever-so precious to me, they have such power and yet I worry they will someday fade. The further I get from them, the more anxious I feel.

Explaining the infinite beauty and melancholy of our trip is a difficult thing without sounding spoilt and ungrateful, of which I am neither, words do not seem to adequately convey the enormity and unescapable imprint that year has left upon me – and it is not often I find that words escape me. To others, our small selection of pictures displayed on our social media profiles are the remainders and reminders of the trip, but if you look closely, you will that find I am a changed person; I have acquired much, much more than a pretty set of stolen moments captured on camera.

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The Odyssey. Our Odyssey.

All good things come to an end. That’s what they say, isn’t it? To be honest, that isn’t true. But unfortunately, this gypsy will be home in less than 48 hours, and for me, that is one helluva good thing to be coming to an end.

Trying to explain what this journey has been like will most likely be boring for other people. So when I am asked, they’ll get one word answers, like: amazing, wonderful, incredible. Unless, of course they are actually interested.

But for AT and I, this adventure has been like a huge book in our lives;  it is on its 366th page, tomorrow begins the final page, a total of 367 (days). Like knowing you are a page away from ending a great book you don’t want to finish, this particular book of ours is, inevitably, almost over.

In the past year we have: walked, boated and bused  our way through 15 overland border crossings; taken 14 flights; visited 22 Countries; taken 77+ long-haul bus rides (exceeding eight hours each ride);  slept in 116 beds; made wonderful new friends, a few of which are the beginnings of lifelong relationships; spent time learning a new language; dealt with at least 3 sets of horrendous food poisoning; been mugged once; and accrued memories that not even old age will take from us, no matter how hard reality interferes.

I left Australia with a boyfriend and on Wednesday morning will return with an incredible fiance. AT has been the best travel companion and friend I could ever hope to share such a life-changing year with.We both know how lucky we are, to be privileged enough, to be able to experience what we have.  I don’t know what else to say. Except, it has been grand.

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Parisian Bliss

A week in Paris. An apartment in Montmartre that overlooks the rooftops of the city. A city that is filled with sunshine until 10pm in the summertime. Time spent sheltering under poster shop awnings to escape the rain, lighting a long, thin French cigarette and being completely content. Paris is a city like no other, out of the cities we have visited this year, it is my favourite (Buenos Aires a very close second). How cliché: I love Paris. Paris, like New York, is a city that is almost universally admired, no one visits and says “Oh, it was okay.”. It is, put simply, an extraordinary city.

Paris made me want to forget about my determination to continue learning Spanish and take up French, immediately. Ditch the rest of our trip and live in a cheese and wine induced haze for the rest of our lives. Forget money, and careers, we could live the lives of struggling artists, like so many before us.

I feel like I could write a love letter to many of the places we have spent time, but none would be quite like the one I would write to Paris.

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Cancun’s identity crisis

After spending almost six weeks in Mexico, I can safely say it has been one of my favourites, if not my favourite country we have visited so far. The diversity between the landscape, people, food and artisans of each region is like nowhere else I have been. I could easily have spent half of this trip there, if not eternity. I love it that much. You can spend four hours on a bus and feel as though you are on the other side of the world, each region had its own unique personality, and local specialty items ranged from ponchos to mole poblano to fruit-infused mezcal.

Strangely, the biggest enigma of the country was Cancun. We spent a whirlwind 30 or so hours in the city, and even that almost felt like too much. It feels like a place in the midst of an identity crisis. Mexico has stunning natural landscapes, as well as architectural and archaeological wonders, yet Cancun feels completely devoid of any character or personality. It doesn’t even feel like Mexico. At all. I would almost go as far to say that if you have only visited Cancun, you haven’t visited Mexico. Almost.

Cancun is the American-desired version of Mexico. It’s watered down, then strengthened with cocktails, fake beaches, resorts sprinkled along these beaches and in turn feels like a completely sanitised, inauthentic and illegitimate city. The little time I spent there was jam-packed with partying fun, I had a great time there, the city sure knows how to throw a party. But I couldn’t help but feel like it was the product of a beautiful peninsula completely exploited. Mexico is one of the most special place I have had the good fortune and luck to visit, and I feel as though the ‘Mexico’ that Cancun projects is an experience that is no more Mexico than Phuket, or any other part of the world that exists solely for the gratification of tourists. It serves the masses who want to experience indulgence, not a location. While it sounds harsh, it doesn’t have the same feel that the rest of Mexico possesses, I do not consider myself an ignorant traveler, or an arrogant one, and I am aware that it certainly serves a purpose in Mexico’s tourism economy, even though most of the large, all-inclusive hotels are foreign-owned and have destroyed local business-owners, the thing that I struggle with is that there is so much beneath that artificial surface that tourists who only visit Cancun are unaware exists.

But really, I think it comes down to a deeper issue: when some go on a short holiday they do not want to be faced with injustice and contemplate their social consciousness when they are laying in their five-star beachfront hotels, exploiting the local people. They don’t want to be faced with the disparity and injustice that staying in a developing country can often reveal. And there is no doubt about it, it can be confronting. I have stayed in a resort, and  won’t lie, the novelty was lovely, but it was just that; a novelty. What are people chasing? what experiences are people looking for when booking a resort holiday? A break from reality. It’s simply escapism. I know it’s not rocket science, and people want to escape their own chaotic lives every now and then, but why are there so many people who want to ignore their actual surroundings? For me, there is an internal battle that becomes apparent when you meet the people who have no choice but to face their everyday, where escape isn’t an option. It can be hard to deal with it.

The American media has a lot to answer for, we encountered hardly any American tourists, except in the Yucatan Peninsula and even then it was package holiday-goers or party-seekers. Those that we did speak to were petrified of the rest of the country. When telling the people who were scared of the country they were visiting, it left me in awe at how misinformed these people were and just how much they were missing out on. If I lived in the US, without a doubt, I would be visiting Mexico at every opportunity I possibly could. It wasn’t just the people we met in Mexico, but the other travellers in the rest of Latin America who seemed to think that Mexico was more dangerous than say, Honduras.

Cancun felt like an angst-riddled teenager, suffering an identity crisis.

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People of the Road – Part Two

Yesterday I met a girl called Ann*. I went to a tiny little massage place on the side of the road on one of Thailand’s southernmost islands. AT had gone in for one earlier in the morning and was raving. The price was standard for the island,  ฿250 baht ($7.50AUD) for an amazing hour long traditional Thai massage. So, I thought I’d treat myself and was looking forward to it. Ann had a massage and beauty treatments shop that consisted of four mattresses for clients, but she is the only one currently working there. It’s low season you see, but in high season she employs three other girls to help with the demand.

After two hours, and one of the best massages I have ever had, I had learned a lot about Ann.

She was quite timid at first, but very smiley and friendly. It was about 30 minutes into the massage when we began chatting, I think there is nothing more beautiful than hearing about someone else’s life. At first it was trivial, where do you live? are you from here? how long have you had this shop? – type of questions. She explained that she had the shop for three years, had learnt her massage skills in Bangkok, and discovering she was not from the south, she was from the north of Thailand where her family still live; she had moved down to the islands to work where there are more tourists.

We then began talking about her previous job. She had worked in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, for one of the biggest technological manufacturers in the world, producing goods for companies like Microsoft. Ann told me that it is very common for people from Thailand, the Philippines and greater China to work on contracts in these factories. It was rare that people ever worked over their three-year contracts, but Ann was great at her job, her bosses told her she learnt quickly and she was offered a 12 year contract in the factory. Financial and job security like that is rare, particularly in countries such as those mentioned above. She accepted and continued her work. Ann and her thousands of colleagues worked 12 hour days, with one day off a month. Yes, one day off… a month. She described the working conditions to which she had to adhere, and her daily life, as I heard more I just couldn’t believe that the same person had lived such a different life.

Ann told me that everyone lived on site, there were rooms that housed workers, and she had slept on the fourth bunk of the eight beds on top of one another. In each room there were six of these similar bunk beds, so she was sharing a room with 47 other people. Everyday. Her days were long, and the workers were not allowed out after 9pm, they were locked out if they were not inside the premises. There was even a 7Eleven inside the factory, to discourage people from leaving the factory. She spent the first week in tears, speaking no Mandarin or English, the two languages spoken at the factory.  She told me she realised she needed to learn fast, so that was what she did, she can now speak Mandarin, English and Tagalog in addition to the two languages she already knew, Thai and Lao. If staff were ever late to work, they were docked the Taiwanese equivalent of  ฿1 000 from their pay, (AU$32), an unreasonable 5% of their monthly pay for being ten minutes late. They were paid  ฿20 000 a month (AU$611) and worked over 80 hours a week, with no day off. After three years, they were permitted two weeks holiday. Ann did not take her holiday and return to Thailand, she explained it would have taken too much time to get from Taipei to the north of Thailand by means of travel that was in her budget.

Of her monthly wage, she sent  ฿15 000 home to her mother, so had a mere  ฿5 000 (AU$150) to live on per month. She worked for six years, without a holiday. This means, receiving one day off a month for six years, only 72 days of 2 191 were spent not working; 96.7% of her days in Taipei were spent working.

After six years, half way through her contract, the company paid for a return ticket for Ann to Thailand for a one month holiday. She said she visited her family for the month and that on the day of her departure from Bangkok, she arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport and decided then and there she was not going to return to Taipei, “back to hell”. She threw her ticket in the rubbish bin at the airport and stayed in Bangkok. She didn’t even tell her mother, she was too afraid of the response and shame it would bring on her family that she had deserted a paying job, something many people in Thailand would be grateful for.

Her boss called her on the day she was to resume working, furious that she was not at work, she told him she would not return to hell, she was staying in Thailand, and after his second phone call, she snapped her sim card and threw it away so the company could not contact her again.

It was in Bangkok, just over three years ago, that she began her massage course, she spent three months getting qualified, and also worked for two months in the infamously sleezy coastal town of Pattaya at a hotel as the massage therapist for experience. After that she decided to head south, on a holiday, her first in almost seven years. It was then that she found the perfect place to start her own business and own and run a massage and beauty therapy shop.

Ann now lives out the back of the shop, showing me where her bed was she explained she earned around the same money she was earning in Taipei and still sent the same amount home to her mother. The difference was now she had her own business she could work the hours she wanted and got the opportunity to meet people, and if she was sick or tired she was able to have the day off, as well as her regular days off. It also means that if she needed to return home for any reason, she could get to the town she grew up in, where her family currently reside, very easily. Not only were all of those things important to her, she enjoyed what she did, and liked her work. By the time my massage was up, conversation was still flowing, it had been over two hours. She apologised for talking so much and asked me to apologise to my husband (she had assumed AT and I were married) for keeping me so long.

I was not naive enough to be unaware that this is a reality for many factory workers in China, and other parts of the developing world. In fact a few years ago, AT and I had done quite a lot of research about FoxConn, who supply many of technology’s leaders with their products, Apple being the one that gained a considerable amount of controversy when it was discovered that their factory workers had an extremely high level of suicide and the conditions employees worked in were as appalling as the factory Ann worked in Taipei. You can read more about that here.

I still can’t believe the conversation I just had, I had heard and read much about the factory conditions in China, but it was completely different hearing it from someone who had actually experienced such a life. If she had returned to her job, she would still be over two years off finishing her contract. I am certainly glad she managed to escape the clutches of the corporation that held her captive for six years. Ann said that those years were like being in prison.

The last year has changed me as a person (I hope!) and speaking to people who have very different lives to the one I lead is part of what I love most about travelling. Meeting people like Ann, someone who has changed their own life for the better, is inspiring. It also makes me realise just how much people born in the western world take for granted. I feel incredibly lucky, and am so happy that Ann can now enjoy her life and has been able to choose the path that she has now forged.

I hope I see her again, I will send anyone I know who is visiting this island her way for an incredible massage and to meet an even more incredible person.

*I have changed her name to protect her anonymity, but I assure you she was a real (and beautiful) person.

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Nature (Peruniverse)

I liked nature before we left for this trip, but I liked it enough to kind of steer of clear, too. I loved visits to the National Park, but I also loved arriving there in a car. With aircon. I liked going for walks, but those walks were usually around one to three hours, be it at the beach or in the bush; I liked small doses.

One of the reasons I wanted to travel for a decent amount of time was to challenge the ideals that I previously possessed; to do things I hadn’t before and to learn new things, whether they be about the world, the countries I had perceptions about, AT or myself.

This particular learning is, selfishly, about myself. I was both looking forward to and dreading our Machu Picchu trek. Excited to challenge myself and my physical capabilities, I expected to be a bit of a metaphorical wet blanket. Not exactly a girly girl but I’m also no tomboy, either. I thought I would complete our four-day trek grudgingly, complaining if we got wet, if my feet were sore, when the hiking was too tough. To my own surprise, I did none of those. Even though we got soaked down to our undies on our first four hours, biking in the pouring rain when the weather was between -2 and 5 degrees (celsius). I had blistered, bleeding and wet feet for two straight days while walking over 40 kms, so the rest of the time they were aided with band aids. I didn’t shower for three days because the place we stopped over either had no water at all, or it was cold, which was actually freezing (literally). I also couldn’t wipe the smile from my stupid face.

I was stunned that I actually liked this whole trekking jam. I liked the hard bits, sure, they were hard, really hard at times, but they were the kind of hard where you feel better for doing them, mentally and physically and I knew this WHILE I was doing the trek. I also thought my muscles would fail me after 24 hours, instead I woke up excited each day, albeit it a little sleepy, (who can blame me at 5.30 am, 5am and 3.30am) but my muscles weren’t in such bad shape. Before we left, I had decided I was ready to put my pride aside if I was struggling, I was willing to say “I’ll catch up” if I needed to, but the only time I struggled was on the four hours uphill on our second day; I felt out of breath but was not lagging behind or holding anyone up, and I certainly didn’t want to stop.

I had discovered about myself. It was the first time where I had really surprised myself. Of course I had been surprised at myself at other points during the trip, but this was something different, a self-discovery of sorts; I liked hiking! I appreciated what I was doing and seeing as they were happening, not a year later, or in my old age. I was appreciating them right then and there, and that is one of the very best things about travelling.

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Robbed in Rio

When we told our families, friends and colleagues that we were going to be spending a considerable amount of time of our one year trip in Central and South America, it feel like a collective cry (minus a few people) screaming at us: “Those places are so dangerous! You’re going to be kidnapped or mugged!” We scoffed and laughed and assured them that actually, although some of these places have a bad reputation, they’re over exaggerated and most people escape the clutches of this wild west unharmed, the only thing they have seemingly lost is their desire to return to reality as they knew it or to leave these incredible countries.

We weren’t beheaded or shot in Mexico, it stole nothing from us except part of our hearts. We were expecting Guatemala to maybe be an issue; when it gave us nothing but hospitality. We thought that the capital cities of Honduras and Nicaragua might be troublesome; leaving our weapons in the cloakroom of the restaurant was the only thing Tegucigalpa required from us. Bolivia took a little of our money, not for nothing of course, in exchange for some fake currency. Colombia didn’t find us blindfolded in the back of a truck, being held for ransom for a hefty sum, it found us regretting we only had a month there.

We were in Rio, where we were to spend part of our last 10 days in South America. It was going to be a short but sweet stay of three days. Naturally after our first day we extended it by one day, and after that day passed, then by another. It was that fourth day that found us parting with a decent amount of cash on a main road at knife point.  To be completely honest, we had expected it would happen at some point on our travels, but it hadn’t so far, and we both felt proud that we would be able to defy our families and friends and go home saying we had no trouble at all. Unfortunately, now, that can no longer be said. Sure, some punk took our cash and did so forcibly with a knife, but he neglected to take our credit card, camera, more cash and my phone, all of which were on us at the time, and more importantly, we weren’t hurt.

The thing is that it happened in an affluent, tourist-friendly area. We had been through the least safe parts of Central America with everything we owned on our backs: laptop, passports, camera, credit cards and iPad – all of our most valued possessions, and sure, we felt intimidated but were not even stopped except when people wanted to sell us something. Yet in Rio de Janeiro, a city most people who would never visit many of the places we had over the past eight months for fear of ‘something happening’, would have no hesitation visiting–we found ourselves faced with a guy donning a knife and demanding cash. AT has actually been mugged twice in Sydney, and once in Amsterdam, so this kind of thing is common all around the world. But it did make me glad that even though we’d recently been to the ATM, I’d hidden two-thirds of the cash and our credit card, so my caution was, indeed, warranted; I no longer feel like a paranoid fool for being somewhat cautious over the past nine months.

We spent our last day in Rio exploring the favela with an American Ph.D. student who was studying marginalised communities and their use of technology. He explained that while the favelas have now been pacified and there is no longer and drug-related violence in the favelas, it has had somewhat of a domino effect and now means a lot of younger people are without their previous illegal jobs (e.g. drug runners, lookouts etc.) so are turning to petty crime in greater Rio. We still loved our stay in Rio, and actually felt safer in the favela than we did on the streets, unfortunately it did leave a somewhat sour taste in our mouths.

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Latin American Love

Our time in Latin America is all but finished. Over the period of eight months, we have made our way from the west cost of the USA to Brazil, mostly overland; I feel rather melancholy about flying out of Sao Paulo tomorrow. It has been eight months that I can compare to no others. The diversity of the landscapes, people, food, transport, dress, artisans and everything in between have shaped our experience and I feel mighty lucky to have been able to travel through this beautiful part of the world. It seems an impossible task to sum up our time in these incredible countries in only one blog post, so I’m not going to even try.

I leave Latin America with nothing but love for all it holds. We will be back, soon.

Tomorrow, we are Paris bound.

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