May. The end of the road for me on my almost 9-month Latin American adventure. It was the trip of a lifetime that I won’t soon forget. Though I felt like my trip really ended in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, I flew to Buenos Aires for the last two weeks before flying home. Here’s what the end of my trip looked like through my eyes.
I revisited Buenos Aires for the first time since 2011.
The cab ride from the airport to Hostel Estoril brought back lots of memories from 2011 visit on my first trip to South America. This time around, I revisited some familiar tourist sites with friends visiting for the first time and discovered some new hidden gems I’d never seen before.
I used this guide to figure out which parrilla (steakhouse) I was closest to while I explored the city at any given time. I treated myself to a few delicious steaks with wine during my last few days with access to this incredible meat! You just can’t find steak like that anywhere else.
Buenos Aires is an amazing city, but I really missed the parts of South America that make it inherently different from the rest of the world. I missed the cute indigenous women selling their wares in La Paz and the Incan architecture of Cusco. I missed being completely out of my element yet in a place I knew I belonged.
I got another travel tattoo!
For awhile I had thought about getting another tattoo after the first paper airplane I got in Lima. I wanted something to symbolize the distance I’d traveled on this trip because this trip has transformed me in so many wonderful ways. Ushuaia’s GPS coordinates. The idea popped into my head quickly and just a few days later was inked on my arm. I love it; it reminds me of beautiful Latin America every day.
I was not impressed by Montevideo in the low season.
I wanted Montevideo to be cool, I really did. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of winter in Uruguay and the weather was cold in the coastal city. It didn’t help that I was one of only three guests in the first hostel I stayed at. I poached one of the two other guests and convinced her to switch to Buenas Vibras Hostel with me, where we reunited with some friends I’d met in Patagonia and Buenos Aires. We took in the seaside view as we bicycled along La Rambla and took a bunch of photos as the large Montevideo sign and enjoyed a delicious asado (barbecue) dinner at the hostel but my days in Montevideo were unfortunately a bit slow.
I caught up with some old friends back in Buenos Aires.
I was ready to head back to Buenos Aires after a few days in Montevideo. I wanted to enjoy my last few nights and check out the nightlife in Buenos Aires, so I checked into Milhouse Hostel Hipo. It wasn’t long before Rhea, a friend I met in Medellín, Colombia tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a hug. We hadn’t seen each other since January and didn’t expect to bump into each other 4 months later across the continent. It felt great to see a familiar face during my last few days on the continent. I also revisited the colorful La Boca neighborhood with Samantha, an awesome girl I’d met in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.
One of the most special reunions was with an old friend I met on the plane from Santiago to New York City in 2011. Javier and I were seated next to each other and struck up a conversation about New York. It was New Year’s Eve and he was visiting the city for the first time, so I gave him a list of “must-sees”. After the New Year, Javier and I met up in my neighborhood for drinks. Four years later in Buenos Aires, Javier invited me to his friend’s house for a lunch party. This group of Argentinians and expats were so interesting to talk to. Throughout the afternoon in a mix of Spanish and English, I didn’t feel like a tourist anymore.
Almost 9 months later, I returned to the US.
Putting on my backpack for the last time in Buenos Aires and leaving Latin America was bittersweet. I left having seen and done everything I’d hoped for and as excited as I was to see my family, I still didn’t want to leave. I expected to cry with my hand up against the window, but in reality I turned on How To Be Single (hilarious and very relatable for a single gal like me) and eased into my aisle seat. I wasn’t and still am not ready to say goodbye to South America forever, so I’ll save the tears for the final goodbye, whenever that is. I will be back to both Central and South America one day.
I flew to Washington, DC for my brother’s MBA graduation. Returning for to celebrate my brother’s achievements made me feel better about coming home. Wearing heels for the first time in two years and exchanging my cutoff t-shirt for a nice dress felt strange and foreign. It’s still been a weird transition, but I’m learning where I fall in between a stinky backpacker and a girly girl.
Now that I’m back at my parents’ house in Connecticut, I’m starting to figure out where the next stage of my life is headed.
My travels aren’t over now that I’m in the US! I’ll be traveling every weekend in June to New Hampshire, New York City, Boston, and Montreal. I am so excited to catch up with my friends, explore new places and revisit old haunts. After that, I’m focusing on where I want to find some stability. I’m thinking west coast…