The time has come to close the book on my South American adventures. A fantastic continent where I first discovered proper travelling, and it was undoubtedly the best thing I have done in my life. I would urge anyone who has the time and funds to choose S.A. for a big trip. If you have an open mind and are prepared that things will go wrong, expect the unexpected, and understand sometimes you’ll have to throw your best laid plans out the window, then you will have an awesome time.
The beauty of Playa Blanca cannot be overstated. It stares you right in face with a piercing gaze. This is a tropical paradise as seen on the old Bounty adverts. And in order to fully appreciate its beauty, you need to spend the night on the beach. You need to do this because at midday every day boatloads of people arrive; families with screaming kids, doting couples, pushy sunglass-sellers, the elderly… it’s like a human zoo.
But by four o’clock all of the day trippers have jumped back on the boats and suddenly you can stroll the white sands in peace. The place is transformed! (Well, ahem, some of the doting couples still remain… and have been joined by a few bands of dreadlocked travellers, but it’s still much more tranquil).
Cartegena de Indias is a city of two sides. Most visitors will stick behind the colossal old city walls and just see the photogenic facade: brightly painted colonial buildings, picturesque crumbling churches, shady palm-tree plazas, friendly street-side sellers, bougainvillea balconies, horse & carts, bustling outdoor restaurants… it’s undeniably attractive and you can see why the place is a regular stop for cruise ships.
Bolivia does seem to pride itself on extremes, and to some people I met, these can get a little tiring. ‘World´s highest city’, ‘World’s highest capital city’, ‘World’s highest pub pretending to be Irish’, etc, etc….
I personally don’t mind the superlatives, even if some are just hackneyed marketing gimmicks. So I was more than happy to be reeled in by el Camino de la Muerte, aka the ‘World’s most dangerous road’. The road is now barely used by traffic, as they opened a new safer section in 2006, but its still pretty damn hairy cycling down it, especially in rainy season when it turns into a deadly slip and slide!