Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The final chapter!

Hey everybody, well this is it, the final post from an unbelievable, and potentially life changing 3 months in South America! I'm not going to talk about the journey home, other than to say that Delta Airlines again showed why they are the cheapest option, poor planes, poor food, & cancelled flights! The American airports of Atlanta and especially New York were also quite shambolic too!

The final few days were spent in my favourite large South American city visited on this trip - Santiago. After some much needed day time sleep on the Saturday, my hosts took me out for some food and drink at a real local bar... one of those places that you wouldn't know existed without someone local taking you there. You had to pass through a small entrance to what looked like a normal house, after ringing the door bell. Once inside we were greeted with a small cafe atmosphere, which included beers being drunk and people dancing away on the small central dance floor. Salsa music, Chilean pop music and other Latin music beats played throughout the night along with a couple of local singers keep the crowd entertained! I was joined by my fellow OT's Gaby and Diego, and Gaby-s room mate Panchi and her boyfriend too! Here's the evidence of a good night!

My last full day in Santiago was filled with bits of emailing and some work related stuff, but I really wanted to go and have final look around, as now the backdrop to the city included some stunning snow filled mountains! Take a look at these pictures!

I had hoped to catch up with a few students that I had met previously, though this proved to be a little more difficult as it was now University vacation, and many students were elsewhere. I did mange to catch up my friend (and OT student) Tamy,
So how to possibly conclude this blog and all the experiences I have been lucky enough to enjoy over the past 3 months? I think a 'Top 3' list will do the job! So here goes;
TOP 3 'Tourist Spots'; (Cities)
1) Santiago (Chile)
2) Bogota (Colombia)
3) Cordoba (Argentina) (Buenos Aires a very close 4th!)

Top 3 'Natural Wonders'; ( I need 4 here!)
1) Journey from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) - Uyuni (Bolivia), a 3 day 4x4 trip!
2) Machu Picchu (Inca Empire, Peru)
3) San Pedro de Atacama (Chilean Desert)
4)Iguazu Falls (Brazil, Argentina & Paraguay)

Top 3 'Random memories';
1) Conception (Chile)- finding almost all the hostels destroyed by the earthquake, and the only other hostel full, only to be offered the spare room at the apartment of the hostel owner's friend, complete with granny too!
2) Cordoba (Argentina) - finding all hostels full, only to be offered the staff kitchen floor, complete with mattress and blankets (for free!)
3) San Gil (Colombia) - finding myself floating down a river in Colombia, having jumped in after a spot of river rafting!

There is no way I can possibly make a 'Top 3' list for the acts of kindness I have been fortunate to be on the receiving end of, as the list would be too long, but I must say some very special thank yous to a few...
1) Pepe, Vanesa & Pamela (Chile) - thank you for your kindness & help at the conference which led to me meeting so many of your wonderful friends.
2) Andrea & the Sato Family (Conception, Chile)- thank you so much for opening your home to me and making my experience with you so much fun!
3) Lizardo (Peru) - thanks for saving me from the dirty 'semi-naked' old lady and for entertaining me in Lima!
4) Vibi, Santi & Alejandra (Colombia) what can I say? Sharing your work, home and life, and making me feel very special on my birthday, and for introducing to me a country I would never have seen otherwise, a huge thanks!
5) Fiorella, Mili, Mila, Leonela, Diego, Valerita & Meme (Santa Fe, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Argentina) - you all helped to make my time filled with great work opportunities and more importantly lots of fun!
6) Gaby, Panchi, Diego & Tamy (Santiago, Chile) All of you showed lots of willingness to help me with anything I asked, and ensured I had a great send off!

There are so many more people I'd love to say thanks too, but it would take so long! Ok, just a few more! Conseulo, Maka, Coni & Andrea thanks for keeping my social life interesting and busy!

So whilst the main aim of the trip had been to further professional links and experience, by presenting at the World Occupational Therapy Conference in Santiago Chile, what I eventually experienced was a continent full of friendly, helpful, kind and motivated people! People in Chile, Colombia and Argentina showed me how by being more trusting and open minded, that life can be filled with less anxiety, stress and mistrust, and instead be filled with laughter, music, dancing, food and definitely more general happiness! Especially more food, music and dancing!!!

Thank you to everybody, and I just hope I get a chance to return some of the amazing hospitality when any of you come to my home! (Where ever that may be!)
so for the last time,
Regards from South America!

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