While I was back home in Durban, South Africa, to spend some time with my parents after our 5 month trip around South America I spent a lot of time chatting to my mom about the trip and was curious to know how she felt about it and dealt with the anxiety of not always knowing where we were. A few questions turned into this beautifully written story of snippets of our trip as seen from her point of view. Enjoy!
Looking back at Ian and Peryal’s South American trip… By Wendy Brouckaert – Ian’s mom 🙂
PART 1 – April to May 2013
Ian called me: “Mom , We are booked to fly to Rio in May, returning to UK from Bogota on 28 September.”
Immediate thoughts… Bogota… Pick-pocket capital of the world according to some friends who had lived there for a few months. Rio apparently comes in as close second to claiming that title. After understanding that the airport transfers and first four nights’ accommodation were booked, I took a deep breath and said that I thought that was great. There was surely a hint of envy mixed in all my thoughts and emotions that day.
During a flying visit to be best man at a wedding in SA April, Ian, besides organizing the bulls (bachelor’s/stag) weekend, etc, managed to fit in dentist appointments, vaccinations and craziness but no relaxation. All that I found to contribute to an overflowing back pack was a small medical kit, on the premise that if the items were on hand, they would probably not be required.
Various info filtered through on the difficulties of packing up a few years’ worth of their lives in London and discussions on buying reliable equipment and computers. Oh the thrill and terror of planning a trip like this. There was little I could do, but say a prayer and let go. Departure day arrived soon enough with the last few SMS’s from Heathrow. This was so scary yet exciting.
One beautiful view of Rio was the next communication. Phew they were there, camera and all. It was also for me the beginning of an amazing armchair adventure and Geography lesson all in one
PART 2 – June to July 2013
First email update 3 June. My first action after reading all the news was to Open Google earth, create my own map and start tracking their route.
Hello Google Search – “Escadaria Selarón is a set of world-famous steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. …and so my lessons began.
Ilha Grande was the next destination that I was not familiar with. It became a dot on my map. I was on an adventure.
Phew Ian where are you now? No news for 4 days. I just had to relax and wait. Two more places to read about from the next email. Paraty and Iguazu. Oh dear, do they have to go into Sao Paulo? Of course, they will be fine.
At least I knew where Bueno Aires was and during those 3 weeks, with reliable Wi-Fi, Skype chats were in order. It made me feel a bit more in touch and comfortable. So many interesting sites, markets and burial places including Evita Peron’s mausoleum.
At last a name is decided on for their Travel blog and http://www.Talesofpi.wordpress.com came into being.
A random miserable near mugging experience during those three weeks in Buenos Aires served as a reminder for us all to be on our toes. Then following the path of Che Geuvarra’s life created mixed feelings in me, which were soon overtaken by my fascination of history. I soon relaxed again as they left the big city. I Googled Iglesia Catedral in Cordoba city which Ian reported as the most beautiful Cathedral he had seen so far.
On my Windows 7 desktop at work I have weather and time for wherever my sons are in the world, and it was fun to change Ian’s destination and to keep up in my imagination of these exciting places. It amazed me that there was weather recorded for so many of the smaller towns they visited.
It was hard to imagine the difficulties of communication and directions in Spanish, also the hardships of being constantly on the move. These they seemed to be taking in their stride
PART 3 – August 2013
I had been spoiled by fairly frequent comms, both via email responses and messages, so for a while I needed to be content to learn the news via their Twitter or Facebook accounts, with no inside info. So many places and so many questions I had, but would learn the answers in time. Patience Wendy…
We were also traveling in the US for two weeks, during the latter half of July, so my attention was deflected for that time. Being in the same time zone made me feel a bit closer although what a crazy notion as we were still on different continents. Ian and Peryal were still in Argentina, Salta Province, happily traveling through wine growing regions visiting Bodegas and climbing higher. All must be well. Being at a wedding in America watching a video of Ian making a speech made me miss him so much. “Hola Ma!”
Added the following dots on my map; Tafi del Valle, Capilla Del Monte, Cafayate, Salta.
Back home, August passed very quietly. Then I received a great update on 2 September, together with the best photo ever – Bonbon, the Collie pup in Tarabuco, Boliva. Time to rest and rejuvenate, at an Eco lodge in Coroico. This sounded wonderful.
Things had moved fast in South America and I felt as if I had not kept track, so spent some time with my friend Google to catch up on the current locations and future destinations; Sucre, Tarabuco, La Paz, Coroico, Rurrenabaque. I have never existed at an altitude of 3660m and found it so interesting learning how difficult it sounded. Coroico seemed quite a haven after the altitude and complications experienced in La Paz.
Ian told me they were planning on taking a boat trip into the Amazon jungle so I went straight to the Amazon boat trip website. Not much comfort to be found there as no life jackets were mentioned on this very narrow boat. This was a panic check for me. I mean they had survived the “World’s most dangerous road” so the piranhas and anacondas would be tame by comparison. Note to self – try not to think about life jackets. The website also included the exciting stuff like the night tour, zip line canopy tour and swimming in the river, well it can’t be too bad. Thank you Ian.
Went back to Tales of PI to catch up on the posts there while Ian and Peryal were cruising down the Amazon River, totally out of touch…….
PART 4 September to October 2013
Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu during the Equinox – that was perfect timing. I spent a lot of time reading the fascinating information on Peru and in particular Machu Picchu. That Earth Day celebration is universal and we seemed to be a small part of it right where we were.
How did we get to the end of September so fast? I felt that there was so much more to see and hear. News that their flight had been postponed by a month brought some mixed feelings and now travelling through Columbia loomed at the end like a pending storm. I could not dwell on that.
I began some research on Chile and Ecuador to add to my armchair travels then added Rumi Wilco Eco-lodge, near Vilcabamba, to the map. The pace was picking up again. There was lots to chat about on Skype from Vilcabamba and to see how long Ian’s beard had grown! Meeting some travelling companions of theirs and catching up in real time was good. After that it was back to Twitter for me, with intermittent images of erupting volcanoes, horse rides, wildlife sanctuaries and bus rides with chickens as companions.
We kept in touch via Whatsapp intermittently, gleaning info on travel in Ecuador and Columbia, which I found for a while distressed me, but I knew that Ian and Peryal had gotten this far and they knew exactly what it would take to get through the last leg, and so I relaxed and waited to hear that they were at the airport and leaving for London.
One last surprise awaited me during the last few days in South America and that was to find out that Ian was come home to Durban to spend some time in Durban before heading off to South East Asia. It is really wonderful and I now have a special opportunity to hear even more first-hand experiences. Fascinating, intrepid adventurers.
Thank you Ian and Peryal. You made it happen! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience, some of which must have been gained through really difficult times and very scary moments. You have enabled others, should they ever be fortunate enough to visit these countries, to be armed with so much valuable information.