Dreaming of South America (by Judyta)

It’s funny how things that hadn’t happened so long ago after some time seem like a faint memory. It has only been a month now since I came back from South America. And it already seems like a beautiful dream that never happened.

Three weeks at home went by so fast and suddenly it was time to go back to Berlin and start a new semester. And so, a little more than a month after I was surfing in the Pacific Ocean, I was back in cold Berlin and going to classes. The university routine, catching up with people and organizing my life again after 8 months abroad meant I didn’t really have time to reflect on my time abroad and how I felt being back. Now, writing this post I can finally slow down for a moment and look back at this amazing experience.

After we have finished our university in Buenos Aires I stayed in South America for three more months to travel. Part of it was with my family and part alone. Firstly, I had a proper vacation time with my parents and brother. We visited the incredible Iguazu Falls and then headed to the northern provinces of Argentina: Salta and Jujuy. It was this idyllic time of spending quality time with my closest ones, going out to amazing restaurants, hiking in the mountains and swimming in the pool in the evenings.

When my parents had left my brother stayed for two more weeks and we began the real travel experience. We crossed the border to Chile to visit the Atacama Desert and then hitchhiked all the way down to the country’s capital: Santiago. In the desert, we were camping in the cute little town of San Pedro where we quickly met all the other travelers and created our own little family. We spent our days enjoying the incredible landscapes, drinking pisco (a liquor typical for Chile and Peru) with our friends and stargazing as the Atacama is known as one of the best places in the world to watch the sky. The views at night are out of this world. We actually saw other galaxies. Galaxies!

 

While the landscape and atmosphere in the desert are pretty incredible, the heat, dust and dry air got its toll on us so after a week we decided to head toward the ocean. We found an amazing little campsite in a National Park Pan de Azucar right where the Atacama meets the Pacific Ocean. We spent three idyllic days enjoying the sun, sound of the ocean and long dinners with people from the campsite. The last stop of our journey was the wine region in Mendoza. After the incredible but tiring experience of hitchhiking in Chile, I and my brother wanted to simply relax and enjoy our last days together. And so one more time we crossed the border between two countries and ate, partied and drank delicious Argentinean wine for the last couple days before my brother headed back to Buenos Aires and from there back to Europe. I, however, stayed and had almost two more months of traveling ahead of me.

If I tried to describe everything that happened during my solo trip I would turn this post into a book. Let’s just say that I have met incredible people that I still keep in touch with. That I completely fell in love with South American nature. With the volcanoes, glaciers, mountains,crystal clear rivers and lakes. I’veseen penguins and sea lions. I’ve tried rafting, surfing in the Pacific Ocean and spent Christmas making asado with friends. And above all, I’ve learned more about Chile’s and Argentina’s culture, history and people than I could from any book or movie.

I am describing all these experiences because it’s such a stark contrast to the reality that hit me when I came back. And to make everyone jealous a little bit, of course. Suddenly from experiencing millions of new things a day I came back to a city where nothing changed, back to old routine and people asking for the hundredth time the same questions. Don’t get me wrong, I was missing my family and friends like crazy and I was very happy to see them. But coming back from any travel is hard, especially if it lasted over half a year.

 

 

Overall, I slowly adjusted to being back. I missed South America a lot and I still do, but I also missed a lot of things from Poland and Berlin. Like the food. The food from all around the world that you can get at any time of the day. In Buenos Aires, there were three Asian restaurants. Three. And they weren’t even that good. But I definitely missed Argentina more. The slower pace of life. People smiling and telling each other compliments. How vibrant and full of life were the streets.

But I’ve learned from experience that this is just the thing with traveling. It becomes this whole separate universe you live in but eventually, you have to come back to reality. And although it is hard to adjust back and sometimes it’s simply too much so all you want to do is to buy the first cheap flight ticket it all eventually calms down. You learn to look at the experience like an incredible lesson and incorporate some small elements into your life. Instead of making a sharp life between your routine and the travel experience they blend in and add to different phases of your life. And you take all the small elements of the other culture that you like into your life so it becomes richer. That is why although it can be really hard to come back, I could never stop traveling. It’s too beautiful. Too addicting.

So I guess the last thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you, Argentina. And see you again.