Ben & Nicola’s South American Adventure

Preface

We choose South America as our summer destination as although it’s wintertime in the southern hemisphere, Nic had been hankering to revisit the continent that she had come to love so much and that I had wanted to see more of. This was to be my third visit to South America after my sabbatical in 2010 and Nic’s fourth. Nicola spent a gap year in Argentina in 2002, aged 18 teaching english, a short three-week trip in 2003 and again in 2005 as part of her third year of university. The plan was for Nic to show me some of the places she had lived in and visited and for me to show her some new places that I had enjoyed. Below is a map showing our proposed route starting in Rio and visiting such places as Puerto Iguazu, Buenos Aires, Tucuman, Salta, Jujuy, Tupiza, La Paz, Antofagasta and flying home from Santiago. 

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Pre-departure

Due to a busy end of term and ridiculously expensive South American flights, we left booking our actual flights until just three weeks before departure day (D-Day). Finally, the right flights and times had come up and were the best of an expensive bunch. As the time drew nearer we thought we were organised as I had got my vaccinations up to date, we had our travel insurance and currency for 4 different countries sorted but I massively underestimated how long it would take me to pack! The day before D-Day, Ben being Ben got organised and packed efficiently while I fretted, panicked and decided it was more important to clean my house (!) than pack my backpack for 5 weeks the evening before we left! Ben has the patience of a saint and with his help, I finally got there – although it was very last-minute for me. I guess I will never change, I will always be a last-minute Moulton! We left Norwich at midnight and drove to Ben’s dad’s house in Kent where we would spend the evening and morning before our 4pm flight on Thurs 25th. 

The morning came and I was still packing…yep, that’s right, I packed and re-packed. ‘ It’s so hard to choose which clothes to take’ I would frustratingly say to Ben while he stayed silent and just looked at his watch. We left at 12.30, with me just having stepped out of the shower at 12.25. I do cut it fine! Ben’s dad kindly drove us to Heathrow terminal 5 and the journey was a slow one with lots of traffic and hold ups. Anyway, we arrived fine and all was well until the British Airways agent at check in scared the living day lights out of us by telling us it was a busy flight and there were no seats left! After a tense few minutes while she was on the phone, she confirmed we had some of the last seats on the plane and we were on our way…thankfully! (I still don’t understand how this can happen when you book and pay beforehand!) 

The flight to New York was good with excellent food although a bit turbulent for Ben. At JFK we had a quick transfer and hardly any time at all to wait before we boarded our American Airlines flight to Rio. Getting on this plane was like going back 15 years…it was so old and boring! No tv screens in the seats infront and the food was mediocre. The hardened american flight attendants were rude and brash and had no time for the majority of Brazilian passengers who didn’t speak English. I kept thinking, why don’t they just learn a few key words/phrases? until Ben reminded me that was very teacher-like and we were on holiday now!

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