South America Superlatives
Most Relaxed Border Crossing: La Balsa
- Example: On the Peruvian side of the border the officer lent us the keys to his home so we could change into our bathing suits and kill some time by swimming in the river that divides the border crossing. On the Ecuadorian side we had to interrupt a volleyball game to ask the officer to stamp our passports. We were the only foreigners to cross the border that day.
Most Hectic Border Crossing: Huayquillas- Aguas Verdes
- If Sodom and Gomorrah existed today, this would be it. Its full of con-artists and thieves and it’s just plain overwhelming! Not to mention horribly unorganized. Why are the migration offices not within walking distance?
Friendliest People: Santiago, Chile
- Example: When I was walking with all of my luggage to a bus station a woman stopped me to let me know that my shoe laces were untied. Then she told me not to try to bend over with my big backpack and she bent down and tied my shoe laces for me.
Best Accent: Chilean, sípo!
Best Chicha: the region of Cusco, Peru for chicha de jora and Tupiza, Bolivia for chicha de quinoa.
Best National Gastronomy: Peru
Worst National Gastronomy: Bolivia
guinea pig and llama
(and yes, those are flowers coming out of the guinea pig’s ears and a carrot is portraying the tongue…yum yum)
Most Expensive: Uruguay
Least Expensive: Bolivia
Prettiest Traditional Indigenous Clothing: the Cusco Region, Peru or Huaraz, Peru
Best Indigenous Jewelry: Saraguro, Ecuador
Most Modern and Developed City: Santiago, Chile
- The subway system is cleaner and more organized than NYC and probably on par with the DC metro system.
Most Touristic Place Visited: Aguas Calientes
- Well when a town is developed at the base of a World Wonder like Machu Picchu it’s inevitable.
Least Touristic Place Visited: Urcos, Peru
- On Sundays I went to the market in Urcos, just to walk around. I was the only gringita there I can tell you that! In fact, one Sunday a little hunched-over, old lady came over to me, pointed her index finger up at me and grinned ear to ear. Her teeth were hidden by all the greenish-brown chewed up coca leaves in her mouth. “You’re a gringita! (a little white girl!)” I could tell by the tone in her voice that she used the word “gringita” in an affectionate way. Although many foreigners interpret the word “gringo” with a negative connotation, it often is just used as a way to refer to a foreigner and not necessarily an American or a white person.
Ugliest City: Piura, Peru
Prettiest City: Cusco, Peru
Prettiest Village: Chavín de Huantar
- The bus ride there was a little scary, but it was without a doubt the most scenic road trip I’ve ever taken.
Coldest Place Visited: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
- I slept in my hat and coat, wore spandex under my pants and wore 3 pairs of woolen socks…but I was still freezing.