Some of you might know that our last 2 years of full-time traveling & teaching started with the simple idea to backpack around South America for one month. While that idea never panned out, one location that I had begun researching really stuck in my head: Patagonia. The beautiful, wild landscapes that dominate the southernmost region of South America just kept calling my name. So when Tommy and I decided to settle in Chile for a couple months, I knew we needed to take a trip to Torres del Paine National Park – one of the most famous and awe-inspiring destinations in Patagonia! The remote location and “natural” paths of the park made it one of our more challenging mini-vacations, but it was 100% worth it.
It’s hard to pick highlights in South America because we visited so many unique places. But if we had to choose, Easter Island would definitely be towards the top of our list! Although our stay was short, the wild coastal landscapes and mysterious historical sites absolutely took our breath away.
One of the weirdest travel habits that Tommy and I have picked up this past year is looking for long layovers. It started on our journey from America to Europe, when WOW Airlines (now-bankrupt) had a steal of a deal from Chicago to Germany… with a 17-hour layover in Iceland. We decided to make the best of it and spent our afternoon soaking stress away in the beautiful Blue Lagoon. Ever since then, we’ve kept our eyes peeled for layovers just long enough to squeeze in a top attraction or two! On our way from Romania to Egypt in December 2018, we found another opportunity for a “free” mini-trip – this time to the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
If you missed it, our first stop in Peru was Cusco (Adventure in the Andes 😉). Our second major adventure was visiting the Amazon rainforest (one of the new 7 wonders of the natural world!). After completing his Peace Corps service, my late great-uncle Peter Jenson built Explorama Lodge in the mid-1960s. Located 50 miles down the Amazon River from Iquitos, his company has since expanded to also include 4 other accommodations and one of the world’s longest canopy walkways. 😲 Tommy and I spent an amazing 3 days there (+1 in Iquitos) exploring the river and rainforest.
As our last post detailed, we’ve spent the past 8 months teaching with VIPKID while traveling the world. Our destinations have been guided by cheap flights and bucket list activities – which led us to Peru and its world wonder (Machu Picchu) in late February!**
Arriving in Peru was a breath of fresh air. We loved our time in Europe and feel so blessed to have traveled so much during our time there, but many of the places we lived in or visited felt a little too “easy.” A lot of people spoke English, quite a bit of the food was familiar-ish, we were usually in large cities, and we just didn’t have as many, “Wait, WHAT?” moments. The exceptions to this were our trips to Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt – noticeably, places mostly outside of Europe (part of Istanbul is in Europe, while part of it is in Asia). We did love the architecture, museums, and accessibility of Germany, France, Romania, and Italy, and overall had a very positive time in each place – but… when we arrived in South America we were just excited to be in a continent that felt “different” again! Peru was definitely a highlight of our travels.