We are home!

Happy new year friends! I am a bit behind on the blogging scene, but I am making my return.

A lot has happened since our stay in the beautiful fishing village of Taganga until now. So now just a quick recap πŸ™‚

We had a crazy few days of travelling. Think 5 countries in 2 days. Hence exhaustion hit big time! We made our way from Columbia to Punta Del Este in Uruguay (via Peru, Panama and Argentina). A highlight of our short stay in Punta was catching up with our friends Loren and Ryan. We cooked dinner together

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Beached and posed with the (apparently) famous fingers, cool hey? But as you can see the sunshine never lasted long, the sky had other plans.

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That was the last of our beach days. We spent the next couple of days catching up on our sleep debt, getting caught and stranded in the streets in the bucketing rain and exploring the town by bus over this insane bridge infamously known as ‘Drunken Bridge’

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Another highlight of our stay here was celebrating New Year’s Eve. We dressed up, hopped on the bus and made our way to our friend Alex’s family, who live in Punta and invited us to spend New Years with them.

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We had a traditional Uruguayan barbecue (asado), where the meat is grilled over hot coals, with lots of patience and lots and lots of love

20130111-061138.jpgAlong with the meats we enjoyed delicious cheeses, insanely delicious sweet potato and potatoes stuffed with Roquefort cheese cooked on the asado, salad and traditional desserts. It was such a treat to experience this with such a warm and welcoming family. Thankyou!

After dinner, we brought the new year in with champagne and fireworks.

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People in the neighbourhood buy their own fireworks and light them at their a leisure. Sitting in the back garden watching these fireworks was incredible and we actually thought we were the center of it as they were happening 360 degrees around us

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The rest of the night involved hitting up a white themed apartment party (in our black and bright orange outfits) and then a longgggg walk home. Was a great night, good company and fun way to begin 2013!
Next we caught our last bus and boat back to Buenos Aires for a few days of unwinding, reflecting, debriefing, drinking, eating and enjoying the very last leg of our adventures. We ended with quite the bang! Josh had accumulated some points from work travel and managed to book us into the magical Park Hyatt hotel for our last 3 nights. Wow. Think showering without thongs, walking barefoot, FREE drinking water, a proper absorbent towel… It is totally the small things you take for granted when backpacking for three months.

The best hotel perk had to be the randomly spontaneous deliveries of fresh fruit πŸ˜‰
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We also enjoyed exquisite breakfast overlooking the gardens

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And complimentary champagne on our last night πŸ™‚

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But it was all over to quickly and after 4:45 wake up and 16 hour flight we arrived home VERY excited to see our families!!!

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And that brings us to the end of our amazing travel adventure. What a journey!

I feel truly blessed to have shared these incredible experiences with the love of my life. We laughed a lot, and cried a lot from laughing alot.

Before I finish up, I want to thank YOU, my friends (new and old), family, fellow travellers and fellow bloggers for following our journey through my little blog. During our trip My Love Affair with Running transformed into a travel sharing space and I will now continue blogging about my passion for fitness, food and healthy living, so I hope you continue to ride along with me.

On a side note, I am always looking for new products and experiences that can enrich my healthy living philosophy to try and share with my readers. If you have got any health, fitness or natural products you are interested in me Trying and Sharing, please Contact Me by following the link πŸ˜‰

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Volunteering in the Amazon Jungle

Next stop, Taricaya Conservation Lodge in the Amazon jungle! In 2009 I spent a month volunteering here here so I couldn’t wait to return this time with Josh.

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We caught an hour long long-boat to the lodge hidden deep in the jungle along the Rio Madre De Dios

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Arriving at the lodge, it was time to meet and greet the volunteers mosquitos, wasps, ants, bees and all the other lovely creatures. And of course it was time to get working! Our first morning job was feeding the animals.

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Taricaya takes in animals who are in need of care and rehabilitation with the ultimate aim of releasing them back into the wild. But for now, nothing beats a cuddle with these cheeky little things!

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These baby spider monkeys all have their own story of why they are here e.g. Kept as pet and seriously malnourished, lost their mother etc. it was great to see that many of the spider monkeys that were there in 2009 had since been released and are now living free and wild.

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Feel the love?

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Now this little fellow, 1 month old Theo, is the newest member to the Tarikaya Tapir family. He is the cutest, oddest looking creature on earth!

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We had fun cleaning out the tapir poo pool (on Josh’s birthday)

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One of the afternoon jobs at the new farm near the lodge is feeding the turtles which have been bred in protected area at the lodge to prevent hunters poaching the eggs to all in town. This project has been so successful and it was great seeing all the beautiful turtles! Here we are preparing their food which consists of extremely finely cut spinach, cabbage, carrots and chicken liver. We were sweating buckets here!

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But the turtles of all sizes enjoyed their meal

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And in return, we enjoyed playing πŸ™‚

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Another activity was animal enrichment where we made paper mΓ’chΓ© snakes and filled them with meat for the cats to practice their hunting. Loved seeing josh being creative πŸ˜‰

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Now in Tarikaya you feel as though you are taking risks all the time. Climbing the new animal enclosure (no adequate ladder of course) to continue on with the building is just one example. I never quite made it up…

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A few hours of machetting in crazy humidity takes it out of you!

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But other projects like butterfly catching and releasing are a bit more chilled

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As is picking mangoes that have fallen off the trees near the hammocks and devouring them… Knife not even necessary!

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Where ever you go here, there are animals! This man paid us a visit in the dining room.

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And Trumpy enjoys his regular tickle under his chin by the hammocks

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Other birds require binoculars and a 45m rickety canopy platform to be sighted.

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My favourite thing to do in the jungle is just to walk, listen to the sounds of the forest an enjoy the serenity.

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Night time in the jungle involved many games of cards

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And an awesome cayman catching session on the long boat with Stuart. He first gave us a talk about the creatures which are part of the crocodilian family and then we set out in silence and darkness on the long boat where he spotted, pounced and caught a cayman, showed us and released it.

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Finally, Josh got to play his long awaited soccer! Peruvians verse volunteers for a large coke. Peruvians won 10-9.

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And last but not least we celebrated a very special milestone in the jungle, Josh turned 25! Yummy dinner (home cooked food was well received by us)

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And then cake time…

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Followed by machetting the piΓ±ata πŸ™‚

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A birthday spent in the Amazon jungle, not bad ay?

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I just love this boy!

Plane is now taking off to Lima where we are super excited to scrub up, wear clean clothes, no insect repellant, use a dry, fresh towel and enjoy the city for 2 days before heading up to Colombia! Let the adventures continue…

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Salud Salta!

Hello friends! We have continued to weave our way up Argentina and Chile, and our next stop saw us in Salta in the northwest of Argentina. A fairly large, dense, busy city with a fun street vibe with food vendors selling sweet and delicious popcorn and endless stores pumping out hotdogs and sandwiches (without the crust) piled up to extreme heights on top of each other.

We took a gondola trip up to the top of a mountain and got an amazing view of the city!

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We walked the streets by day

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And of course, by night πŸ™‚ . My favourite part of all the cities which we have visited is always the main plaza. I love how they tell so much about the city and the culture of the place. The perfect spot for people watching!

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The following day we booked a tour through our hostel to Cafayate. We were a bit late on the booking side of things so could only manage to get onto a Spanish speaking tour. It was great nonetheless and a real test for the Spanish. We managed to get by, luckily with the help of some German travellers πŸ˜‰ . We travelled in a mini bus and stopped along the way for some photos with magical surroundings. I am feeling as though the blog photos may become a bit repetitive with all these views, but they really capture something special for us so I am still going to share them.

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Red mountains, blue sky and splashes of greenery.. So pretty!

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Highlight alert- stopping at an old lady’s place in the middle of nowhere to feed llamas and goats! So cute.

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Josh hated getting his hands dirty but luckily he is traveling with his girlfriend…disinfectant and wet wipes to the rescue (check out what he has learnt while traveling with yours truly)

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Like Mendoza, Cafayate is known for it’s wineries, so our tour also included a quick taste!

All round great day.. How better to end it than with a selfie πŸ™‚

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So with that we say goodbye to Argentina for a while, and head back into Chile one last time – to the small desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Josh’s Thoughts – What I’ve learnt travelling with my girlfriend

So i admit I have been quite slack in keeping my side of the blog updated, following my introduction in our Ushuaia Post. With a little spare time on my hands, I thought it’s time I share some more of my thoughts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken several great holidays, with most of them being with my best (male) mates. Guys are guys, and lets be honest, we function very differently to our opposing gender. While this isn’t my first trip away with Kel, the nature of this trip has really opened my eyes to some interesting things about travelling with your girlfiriend – some of them are just interesting differences between us. There are, however, many simple things that guys could learn from our female friends and I thought I’d share them so that those that haven’t travelled with a girl don’t miss out!

Before I get into it, there are some obvious differences that I am not going to bother discussing here ( e.g. The role of wingman is probably not necessary, personal hygiene is not an unaffordable luxury and paper-scissors-rock is not a viable way of settling an argument/making a decision ).
Rather I am looking at some subtle things that I have found to be amusing/helpful.

So here we go:

1) The many uses of wet wipes – these little gems are something that most guys (without kids) would have no idea about. Great for cleaning hands after a packed picnic lunch, but even better – when you get to the point where one more wipe with hostel toilet paper will likely draw blood, call on the wet wipe! Also can be used in lieu of a shower during long multi day treks! (Great for the hard to reach places…)

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2) The time-money-HEALTH relationship – The extent of one’s travel is generally subject to two main constraints – TIME and MONEY. For example, when planning a holiday, you are normally limited to the amount of leave you get from work, and how much cash you have in the bank. You may be able to get more time off, but do you then have to lower your daily budget to be able to make use of the extra time? The same can be said when actually on the road- e.g. You really want to do a 3 day trek – you may have the money, but do you have the time? Thus the theory of constraints – Obvious, right?

But travelling with Kel (and maybe this is not applicable to all girls), a third constraint exists – HEALTH. Take the example of eating lunch- if i was travelling with guys, i imagine my lunch would consist of 2 empanadas (typical south american street food) and maybe a beer from the supermarket. Its quick and very cheap, leaving plenty of room in the budget for the rest of the day.

One of the few empanadas I have indulged in (almost as delicious as my Granny Ida’s perogen!)

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However what about the HEALTH budget? 2 empanadas for lunch may mean there’s nothing left in the health budget for dinner, and therefore I have to get something smaller AND have a salad.

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Hence I am more likely to agree to a tuna and avocado sandwich for lunch, to leave space for a 500g sirloin for dinner!

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Luckily Kel and I both love the physical activities (trekking, bike riding etc) so that boosts the size of our health budget!

3) Dessert is a possibility – when travelling with guys, dessert after dinner is not even considered, as dinner usually consists of cooking in a hostel, leading into a massive drinking session and then into a big night at a bar/club and spending all your money on drinks before stumbling home, and waking up with a hangover. However cut that all out, and you actually leave a lot of money and time (and health budget) to enjoy ice cream or a chocolate fondante!

The BEST ice cream I have ever tasted… And I mean it – Juaja in Bariloche (apparently they have a shop in Melbourne too so check it out!)

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4) Sometimes asking for directions can help – but only sometimes and it’s probably because you have a bad map…

5) Check border customs restrictions before crossing – Chile, like Australia, has very strict rules about what you can bring into the country, with fresh fruit and vegetables being a big no-go. If I was with guys, this would never be an issue. But when travelling with Kel, bus rations do not consist of chips and chocolate, but rather a fresh green salad (with dressing) in a Tupperware container, plus 2 bananas, an apple and 2 carrots!!
You should have seen the looks on the faces of the border staff when emptying our bags. Luckily I insisted on ticking YES on our immigration form for “does your luggage contain fruit or vegetables”.
Believe it or not, Kel even tried to take an apple across the border the next time, and only agreed to chuck it once we saw this sign:

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6) Your travel companion is 50% of your trip – so make sure you have a good one! Even after spending all day every day together for just over 3 weeks, Kel and I are still powering on and loving (almost) every moment of each others company. We live every day like its our last day of the trip, and we always end it with a laugh. This trip wouldn’t be half as special if it wasn’t shared with Kel! Hopefully I’ll feel the same after 3 months!

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That’s all for now- Thanks for reading and we look forward to updating you all again soon.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!