The year was 2014, and me and a girlfriend, otherwise known as Michelle, had thrown caution to the wind (also our boyfriends, we threw them to the wind also) and headed off on a six month tour of South America and the US of A.
From Argentina, we bussed our way to Iguazu Falls, through Brazil and the crime-ridden beach haven of Rio de Janeiro, back down through Uruguay and into Argentina again, before crossing the continent and heading over the Andes to Chile (via several bottles of wine in Mendoza).
From there, we traversed north through the Atacama Desert, and into Bolivia where we spent three weeks volunteering at a wildlife refuge in the middle of the rainforest, went to Potosi and Sucre, on to La Paz and the Amazon at Rurrenabaque, before finally crossing into Peru and finishing our trip with four days of back-breaking exercise completing the Inca Trail.
Because no good was to ever come from two clueless white girls with little grasp of Spanish and even littler grasp of how not to trust a stranger, there are plenty of tales to come from terrible decisions, and even worse judgement.
In a continent as well known for its crime and drug syndicate as its natural wonders, it’s a miracle we made it out of there alive. No, not because of the crime and drugs, merely because we frequently overestimated our fitness levels, or the copious amounts of liquefied sugar we were consuming on a daily basis. The photo taken below? Those smiles belie the creaking joints, wooden legs, and internal horror going on within.