A Travellerspoint blog


Chile to chilly Boston

Our final thoughts. . .

View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

Enjoying espresso on our last day in Santiago, Chile.

Enjoying espresso on our last day in Santiago, Chile.

Our around the world adventure came full circle. We ended in Santiago at our friend Valeria's house, where we started the trip. Once again, her family welcomed us and treated us with warmth.

Our around the world adventure came full circle. We ended in Santiago at our friend Valeria's house, where we started the trip. Once again, her family welcomed us and treated us with warmth.

Rosalia, Valeria's cousin and neighbor, is making her award winning empanadas (pastry triangles filled with beef, egg, onions and mushrooms!)

Rosalia, Valeria's cousin and neighbor, is making her award winning empanadas (pastry triangles filled with beef, egg, onions and mushrooms!)

Rosalia also makes the most delicious chocolate and dulce de leche alfajores.

Rosalia also makes the most delicious chocolate and dulce de leche alfajores.

Our last tourist stop at the famous Virgin Mary on Cerro San Cristobal.

Our last tourist stop at the famous Virgin Mary on Cerro San Cristobal.

Leaving from the Santiago, Chile, airport. We had a crappy flight to Miami, but the customs agents were surprisingly kind. Four hours later we were in chilly Boston. The following day it snowed a foot, not the warm welcome we wanted after more than a year in the sun!

Leaving from the Santiago, Chile, airport. We had a crappy flight to Miami, but the customs agents were surprisingly kind. Four hours later we were in chilly Boston. The following day it snowed a foot, not the warm welcome we wanted after more than a year in the sun!

I can’t believe the end has come. Fourteen months sped by with only memories, thousands of photos and stories, and a few souvenirs left behind to remind us what we accomplished.

Our trip around the world became our job, as well as our pleasure. Every day we had a new mission, new responsibilities, new tasks, bus and train schedules to follow, hostels to find and reservations to make. We enjoyed the journey, but admittedly (even though it causes anxiety) are ready for a break, ready to find a home and job, and ready to spend time with our friends and family.

This trip was something I dreamed about for a long time. I don’t think it drastically changed me, rather made me more insightful and passionate about the world’s joys and flaws. I hope I will be able to carry that over into a future job, helping to make the world a happier place for people to live.

- Elizabeth

I just read an eerie article in Marie Claire (it was the only magazine in the bathroom!) titled "My Marriage Fell Apart...on Our Honeymoon!" It's by a woman named Liz who traveled with her husband Dave in South America. In summary, their marriage is still in tack but they had so much trouble adjusting to life 24x7 together that they traveled separately during their honeymoon and now she now only travels with her sister.

We experienced so much during this journey but the one thing we'll definitely take away from it is how it strengthened our relationship. No matter how difficult a situation, we always managed to eventually find our sense of humor and make light of ourselves. The article made me appreciate how fortunate we are to have found a travel companion in each other, let alone a life partner.

So, we're on to life's next set of adventures whatever they may be. I'm looking forward to it as much as I was our year abroad.

- Dave

It is hard to complete a list of superlatives for this trip, but overall it was the people we met along the way and the interactions we had with them that have created the lasting memories. Thank you to all who housed us. We loved every home stay!

If you’re curious:

When we hear Jack Johnson or Eric Hutchinson we will think about this adventure. Their music was on in almost every hostel when we entered, or we bounced around to it in the cars we rented!

Eliz: Painting classes in Australia, being immersed into a Khosa village at Bulungula in South Africa, hiking and kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, living in a minivan for two months in New Zealand and Australia.
Dave: Viewing Torres Del Paine, waking up in campervan to sounds of the ocean, drinking wine with a view at Cable Bay Winery on Waiheke Island, NZ, dolphins giving us an acrobatic show in Bay of Islands, New Zealand, biking through Bangkok, relaxing on beaches of Ko Phangan, Thailand, kayaking in Parati, Brazil, reaching summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the many good times we had with friends.

England, Netherlands, Australia and Japan.

Everywhere in South America, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

China and Cambodia.

Thailand, Brazil, and Australia.

Laos, Brazil and Japan.

South Africa, Malawi, and Cambodia.

Melbourne, Kyoto, London, Amsterdam, Noosa, Salvador and Tokyo.

Biking through Bangkok, Thailand (Grasshopper Adventures), Bay of Islands sailing, New Zealand (Captain Mike from Canada), and Litchfield and Kakadu Parks, Australia (Territory Expeditions - check out http://www.territoryexpeditions.com.au we are the models in many of the photos.)

Oboke Gorge boat ride in Japan, Atuel Canyan in Argentina, and the Ecological Expeditions Pantanal tour in Brazil

Monkeys serving us drinks in a Japan bar, a baboon in our car in South Africa, Cambodia border crossing by foot from Thailand and white water rafting in the Zambezi River in Zambia

Thailand dancing with our friend Lucy, and listening to music in the streets of Salvador, Brazil.

Eliz: Sydney Opera House.
Dave: Torres Del Paine.

Eliz: Constant stomach problems in New Zealand (but I know where every free toilet is), any hike more than three days, China (poor sanitation habits got the best of me), South Africa tick bite fever, sleeping within earshot of snorers (thin wall hostels and campsites) … I’ve been known to shake stranger’s tents to wake them out of a deep snore!
Dave: 8 hour bus trip in Africa with diarrhea, Zanzibar boat trip with sea sickness and diarrhea, dealing with Elizabeth’s meltdowns on the mountains.

Eliz: Having someone in South Africa tell me tick bite fever was fatal and I would die soon.
Dave: Elizabeth telling me that we were spending too much money while eating white rice and canned peas for the fifth night in a row in New Zealand.

Queue etiquette in most parts of the world! Why do people rush to the door, push and shove, and cause massive stress to all passengers to get onto a plane or bus with assigned seating? The worst culprits are people in China where the concept of a line is nonexistent and the use of elbows is common. Second are the French, who form lines, but quickly enter a game of rugby at the first sign of the line moving. Most other countries form lines, but once there is a hint of boarding the line falls apart into mass chaos. People in the US tend to crowd around the entrance to airplanes blocking everyone called before them from boarding. Come on people! Japan and England win for best line etiquette.

Empanadas, alfajores, kobe beef, churrascaria in Brazil, pre-packaged peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and rice balls in Japan.

Chocolate mint slice cookies from New Zealand and Australia, alfajores from Rosalia's in Chile, and the iced mocha drink from the Atomic Café in Melbourne.

$3 Singapore made sunglasses bought in Laos that lasted less than a week. The paint melted off leaving the image of glasses on our faces.

Squat toilets, although we do appreciate the cleanliness factor of not sitting on a filthy toilet seat, and on the plus side, the incredible thigh muscles that we built up from squatting. We also won't miss collecting our dirty toilet paper and having to toss it in the basket next to the toilet because the septic system couldn't handle the paper.

Swiss Army knife, spork (Light my Fire) and tiny ASUS netbook.

Thank you for going along for the ride with us. We appreciated all of your comments, suggestions and well wishes. We are sure there will be more travel adventures ahead, but for now, we must try to be productive citizens here in the US.

Our first five minutes in Boston! A blizzard came the next morning, a sign our 14 mo. summer was officially over.

Our first five minutes in Boston! A blizzard came the next morning, a sign our 14 mo. summer was officially over.

All the best and safe travels!
- Elizabeth and Dave

Posted by daveliz 16:25 Archived in Chile Comments (7)

Hasta Luego South America

Our last days in Chile

View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

Our last days in South America were spent in Santiago, Chile, with our wonderful hosts Fernando, Valeria and her family. We couldn't thank Fernando and Velaria enough for providing great company, a place to stay, delicious food, and especially our own shower!

Mmm... empanadas! We'll have to learn to make these back home.

This is the best dessert a chocolate lover can possibly imagine... an Alfajor... made in a bakery run by relatives of Valeria is like a cookie with caramel, peanuts and loads of chocolate!

Valeria's family dog had puppies while we were traveling in Chile and Argentina. Elizabeth, of all people (she's not much of an animal person,) fell in love with them... who would have thought!

We also had a great time exploring more of Santiago and some of the Chilean sea shore. Fernando heard of a triathlon taking place in Vina del Mar, one of the ocean villages we planned to visit, and couldn't resist entering the competition. After an 11 year hiatus from triathlons, Fernando still managed to come in 1st in his age group! He's a bit of a local celebrity on the triathlon circuit. He was one of the top triathletes in the country during his time, so it was a bit of a reunion for him seeing old friends. (A small side note...we couldn't help but notice that the triathalon was a lot more rough than one in the US. Safety and logistical concerns weren't as much of a priority.) After a wonderful long weekend we bid farewell to Chile and South America, excited for our next adventure in New Zealand.

The finish.

First place Fernando "Superman" Reeve.

A vernacular in Valparaiso... the cultural capital of Chile or perhaps all of South America! This city built into the hills has a ton of interesting areas to explore.

View from a vernacular in Valparaiso.

- Dave

Posted by daveliz 17:08 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Patagonia Penguins

The penguins of Isla Magdalena, Patagonia

45 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.


Dave´s tux was at the dry cleaners, so we had to compromise. We put on our best black and white for a visit with the Magellanic Penguins on Magdalena Island, just north of Puntas Arenas, Chile, in the Strait of Magellan, which is named after explorer Ferdinand Magellan who discovered the area as an easy shipping connection between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was about a two hour boat ride in the Strait, a body of water Dave has dreamed of visiting since reading Joshua Slocum's "Sailing Alone around the World."

These penguins are commonly referred to as ¨Jackass Penguins¨. The non-flying birds arrive to the Island around September, nest in October by burrowing themselves in dirt holes, and begin to have baby penguins in November and December.

These penguins have loud voices and apparently find their mating partner by a similar cry. They´ll stay on the island until April and then head north up either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts.

It is an amazing site with nearly 120,000 black and white furry friends with duck feet welcoming you. They look like big pigeons, yet are much smaller than I was anticipating.

We´re heading back to Santiago for a few days to visit with friends and then are off to New Zealand and Australia. Feel free to email us suggestions or people you might know there if you haven´t done so already! Please pass along the inquiry to your friends and family as well.

Adios for now,
- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 04:03 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Torres del Paine, Chile

Two views mountains apart

semi-overcast 48 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.


Ever since seeing a Patagonia poster nine years ago featuring the granite and magma towers of Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine (I was on a ski trip with Raj in Portillo, Chile) I've wanted to visit the region. Los Cuernos are beautiful formations of nature and definitely lived up to my expectations. This area of the Torres del Paine park was the highlight for me even though the park had a lot to offer including great hut-to-hut backpacking with relatively few people on the trails, clean drinkable glacier water throughout the hike, and very few cars that come into the park. We were hiking just on the edge of the high season, so it may get busier as the season progresses. One of the things I appreciated most about this area was the little infrastructure for tourism. This is likely to change soon as we observed them paving new roads leading up to the park and throughout Patagonia. Right now the trip to the park is primarily on curvy mountain dirt roads.

This was Elizabeth's first backcountry backpacking experience. I tried to ease her into it by planning a refugio-to-refugio (aka hut-to-hut) trek so we could carry less weight (no tents, stoves, or pots and pans needed) and plan shorter hikes. At the refugios we rented tents rather than sleep in their bunks and used their cooking facilities.

Admittedly, I've become more of a hut-to-hut person anyway. It was confirmed when I saw the grimmaces on people carrying 40 to 50 pound packs with the extra equipment. I carried a 25-30 pound pack and E carried a day pack with sleeping bag tied on the top. Even without carrying all of that stuff, it was apparent that Elizabeth's backpacking career would be short lived!

She totally checked out when we ran into a guy we met in Bariloche who had leaped from one slippery rock to another, fell and broke his nose. I think we were both thankful we took the safe route and didn't attempt any dangerous pirouettes across the river. Elizabeth made it to our final camp safe and sound, so I'm very proud of her. From here on out we'll likely stick to day hikes, which is perfectly fine for me! Although... the "Great Walks" of New Zealand are calling my name... we'll see :-)

Safe and sound after the trek.

- Dave


Yes, I have perspective. I have my health (not even a blister), the weather was pretty good, I haven´t overcome any major trauma, nor am I living through something life-altering like war, but after six days in the middle of a national park I need a little room to complain and not feel guilty about it. I quickly realized the sport of backpacking is not for me!

My top ten thoughts....
1. Torres del Paine really means Towers of Pain. Ok, not the literal translation, but the flat first day of the W Circuit (as I was sold before the trip) was really a two hour incline. The hike on day two to the park´s famous towers was literal rock climbing, and it continued from there with hikes ranging from four to six hours. At this point, all mountains and rivers blended (the towers look just like Mt. Fitz Roy in El Chalten), so turning a corner for a new view didn´t get the reaction a real mountaineer appreciates, nor did I have any interest in comparing stories of the marvelous magma mountain tops with fellow enthusiastic hikers at the end of each day.
We had to climb this maze of rocks for the last hour of the hike to see Los Torres.

This is the view of Los Torres from over the rocks. Yes, amazing, but doesn´t it look like Mt. Fitz Roy?

2. By day three I declared war on the flies that were so big they wore aviator glasses. My 100% deet from REI didn´t even attempt to scare these buggers.

3. I don´t understand the joy in hoisting roughly 40 pounds on your back to walk miles up and down hills, over trees and through rivers. In all fairness, Dave was pretty much ´Sherpa Dave´ as he lugged all of our food and carried most of the weight. Still, my ´biker back´, as I like to call it, could not withstand the weight of my ´small´ pack. And to this point, most backpackers give the polite ´hola´greeting as they walk by, but they all seem to be in pain. What fun is that?
Here we are at the beginning of the hike. It is one of my few smiles with the pack on my back.

4. How can you appreciate the beauty of the park when you are walking with your head down to make sure you don´t trip on anything? Clearly my form, even with the trendy ski (walking) poles, wasn´t working. I was only able to really see the beauty of the park´s mountains and lakes on the fifth day of our trek when I sent Dave off into the wild and I didn´t move from our campground. I was at that point finally able to breath and look up at what I had been missing.
View of the famous horns, Los Cuernos.

5. On days three and four there were several river crossings, rather areas with massive amounts of snow and glacier runoff. As my stride to play leap frog from rock to rock didn´t always reach, I opted to take my shoes off (usually after about five minutes of tears)! The water was in many cases extremely forcefall and it was as cold as sticking your feet in a bath of ice cubes. Who calls this fun?

6. Dave and I set out to do the W Circuit. I did accomplish getting from one end of the park to the next, but I skipped out on some legs in between, so my W looked more like a seven. I felt defeated! A 72-year-old man jumped over the rivers like he was Superman, a father-daughter team did the entire trek, plus ice hiking on a glacier and kayaking on a river in the same amount of time, and groups of middle-aged Europeans and American college students wizzed by us. My competative nature got the best of me. It was hard for me to realize where my two feet took me, rather my focus was on what I failed to reach.
72-year-old leaps with ease across the glacier runoff.

7. This leads me to the mental game of hiking. If the physical part isn´t draining enough, you are left with nothing but deep thoughts while you are walking for hours on end. My day dreams got the best of me.

8. Tents, with the added bonus of rocky terraine, are not romantic, especially when you have been wearing the same clothes for multiple days with few showers in between. Must I say more....

9. A few park comments:
- Every sign with estimated hours to the next major sight or lookout was wrong. Two hours on the sign shouldn´t take four to six hours in reality, just like six hours shouldn´t take two hours. This creates mind games for the struggling hiker - me!
- Personnel at the campgrounds (refugios) should try to smile at guests. After all, we just walked up a mountain to see them and we are paying astronomical fees to stay and eat with them.
- Weather - they don´t seem to believe in weather reports in southern Argentina and Chile, so don´t ask anyone. They´ll just shrug. In other words, bring enough clothes to layer for every climate.
Extreme wind is normal, which you can see as I try NOT to get blown over the waterfall at Salto Grande.

10. My recommendation:
If you are an experienced hiker, love the challenges of the sport and don´t mind fighting the elements, then go for it! If you enjoy day hiking, like myself, don´t set out to do the W. Instead, go to one or two campgrounds (refugios), leave your bags and do day hikes from there and plan for a rest day in between. Most importantly, hike with someone who is either your same ability or someone who has massive amounts of patience. Dave is my personal rock for dealing with my often sour attitude and attempts to jump off the mountain!

- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 16:25 Archived in Chile Comments (4)

Feels like home

Rest and recovery in Pucon, Chile

sunny 65 °F
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Volcan Villarrica. The main attraction in Pucon, Chile

Our stay in Pucon, Chile, was pretty low key. Elizabeth had already been there and since she unsuccessfully attempted to summit the main attraction, the Villarrica Volcano, three times, and I was recovering from a bad cold, we decided to take it easy and enjoy the quaint, Swiss-like ski town. We did manage a mountain bike ride through some beautiful ranches with views of the area's three volcanoes and a few waterfalls. (Although getting there came with a few hurdles. Elizabeth, a novice mountain bike rider, fell off her bike towards the beginning of the ride and wasn't a happy camper until paved roads returned. I'm still working on toughening her up for the mountains.)

The beach in Pucon

Before we started our around the world adventure I imagined that being ill overseas might make us home sick, highlighting the fact that we're gone for a whole year. To my surprise it didn't. We are only in our second location together, but I asked Elizabeth if she felt like we were traveling yet and far from home. She said no. I then offered a theory about this to her, "I think it's because to me, you are my home... it doesn't matter where we are in the world, as long as I'm with you, I feel at home."

View from the bus on our trip entering the Chilean Andes and then into Argentina on the way to Bariloche

We're now in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, an easy nine hour bus ride through the Andes with plenty of amazing mountains, as well as volcanoes popping out of nowhere to keep us occupied. Bariloche is a beautiful town with a lot of outdoor activities. Now that I'm over my cold we can't wait to get out there!

Crossing the border into Argentina

- Dave

Posted by daveliz 13:13 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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