By the time this post goes live, I will be well on my way back to the US. Is it a bit too soon? Well, yes and no. My original plan was to return at the beginning of March, but, while already on the road, extended my trip until beginning of June. So why am I coming home now? A few things happened at the end of March and others did not happen as I hoped they would, so I made the decision to head back.
Bad Week For Electronics
While enjoying my two weeks in Florianopolis, Brazil learning surfing, my external hard drive went Tango Uniform on me (well, I did drop it, so it might have had something to do with that). That meant I could no longer access the pictures from my trip and a bunch of other files.
I upped that a day later by cracking the screen of my MacBook Air to the point that I could no longer use it. At the same time I discovered that the microphone on my iPhone was no longer operational (although, that probably happened a few months ago). I could not make calls, I could not update my blog (hence, no new posts in the last month), and I had a very hard time looking for accomodation in Buenos Aires using the iPhone.
Adding insult to injury, I quickly discovered that either replacing the screen or getting a new laptop will be both cost and time prohibitive while I am either in Brazil or Argentina due to crazy import taxes and unpredictable, but almost certain, delays with customs.
Heck, I will even throw the two pairs of headphones that I managed to break in two weeks under this as well (for anyone keeping track, the final count for the trip is sunglasses: 9, headphones: 6).
Stolen Flip Flops
My trusty pair of AE flip flops were taken at the Barra da Lagoa beach while I was surfing my last day there. For any other person, that would probably be a non-issue in the land o cheap Havnnans sold at every corner. However, even after spending considerable amount of time looking, I could not find a pair that fit me in Barra, Floripa, and even Rio. What really upsets me is that whoever took them obviously did not actually need them (unless they were going to use them as surf boards I suppose).
When I extended my trip, I decided to spend a month in Buenos Aires to take a break from hopping between different places every few days. After hearing stories of $150-$300 apartments, I was hoping to rent one so I could have my own place, take some Spanish classes, get a gym membership, establish a routine...
Instead, the apartments turned out to be insanely expensive - those $150-$300 numbers I kept hearing turned out to be weekly prices. Even then, an $800 studio turned out to be a very poor value, and would actually cost even more for such a short term rental ($1025 plus $800 deposit). Adding insult to injury, everyone insisted in getting paid in US dollars, which are hard to come by in Argentina, meaning I would lose another 20% just on the spread between 'official' and actual exchange rates. This thread on BA expats forum highlights the issues with Argentinian currency (in summary - none of the US banks would exchange Argentinian pesos because everyone considers them to be way over inflated).
I was not having much luck with Spanish lessons either. The teacher that was highly recommended was already booked up for April so I met up with couple others and neither impressed me much.
Am I Really Quitting?
I shared some of these (and few other reasons) with a few traveling friends and they have rightfully dismissed them as bad excuses to call it a day. And normally, I would agree that the lack of flip flops, or even a broken screen would be a poor excuse indeed, however, all of these combined were just killing the enjoyment for me.
Even then, I do not necessary consider this quitting. I still spent over one month longer on the road than originally planned. The only thing that I will not see on this trip that I wanted to visit is Machu Picchu (and I saw and did so many other things that I did not even know about before my trip began).
Lastly, even though it is the end of my journey (for now), I finished it in style by going back to Rio, renting a studio for a few days just a block away from Copacabana beach (my first experience with AirBandB), and going hangliding (the ramp was closed when I was in Rio a couple weeks ago).
So Now What?
Even though I am back, I am in no hurry to end my vacation. I plan on taking some time to look at my options, put up the rest of blog posts from the last month, bring in things from my two previous blogs and start morphing this blog from just an account of my traveling experiences to a collection of other (hopefully) useful information about fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle changes that got me to where I am at now. Heck, I might even take some Spanish classes around here!