After seven weeks of backpacking through South America, it is hard to believe I am now switching continents, leaving behind the people, language and culture I have just become accustomed to. I have no idea what Africa will bring, and while it does seem quite promising, I must admit I am a bit sad to be leaving South America behind.
Aside from all the beautiful and incredible things I have seen, from the beaches to the countryside to Cristo Redentor to the quaint streets of Colonia Del Sacramento to Iguazu Falls, what really makes this journey amazing is all the people I have had the pleasure of coming across.
To say I have met some incredible people would be an understatement. From those who have opened their home to me, to those who have taken me out to show me the town, to the strangers who have made sure a (quite obvious) tourist to their home town is safe and knows their way. We had strangers on the bus who realized we couldn’t speak Portuguese tell us where to get off, we had a lovely woman walk us to another bus stop when she realized we were waiting for a bus that wasn’t coming, and we even had a bus driver who stopped his bus, abandoning everyone on it for about five minutes in the streets of Rio De Janeiro while he literally ran us to where we needed to be. And most amazingly is that none of these people spoke English. All communication was from hand gestures and hand written street names. While being around people who speak the same language is definitely a comfort from home, one’s ability to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language at all is incredible. While we most definitely did come across one or two shady figures along the way, the generosity of strangers has affirmed for me that the positive of the majority definitely always outweighs the negative of the few.
Coming back to Sao Paulo for our final few days in South America, coming back to Amanda’s house was like coming home to a familiar place, somewhere we knew and were immediately comfortable. In Rio, Gabrielle opened her home to us on a days notice, completely making her place our own. In Niteroi, Vinicius brought us breakfast in bed, took us mountain climbing and to take in the most gorgeous views in the evening. In Nova Iguacu, Anderson cooked some amazing meals and played us acoustic music. In Buenos Aires, Gerardo welcomed us when our flight arrived at 2:30am, giving us the most comfortable place to sleep and recuperate from being sick. Also in Buenos Aires, Fernando, a friend from Sao Paulo, arranged for us to stay in his mother’s home. And when back in Sao Paulo, Fernando made us the most delicious meal for our final night on the town. The people from South America really welcomed both Preeya and I, showing us their amazing culture. I only hope that I left all of them with even a sliver of the positivity they instilled in me.