Female. Backpacker. South America.

IMG_6552 1

I’m usually an impulsive person, a habit that has gotten me into more unforgettable memories than regrets. For the most part, I get these foreign surges to live in the moment, live my best life, live like there is no tomorrow. There were moments during my planning, where I wanted to throw the towel in and leave right then and there. But alas, I planned for a year and here I am, nine months later in a hostel in Buenos Aires, nearing the end of my trip.

Before I left, I scoured the internet for valuable information on solo female backpackers in South America. As expected, 1) There weren’t many posts and 2) It seemed the dangers and tales of Latin America has infiltrated to novice backpackers. SO! Here, I will contribute my grain of sand on traveling tips and essentials that I have greatly needed and highly recommend:

Here’s a quick profile on who I am, perhaps relatable. I graduated uni, worked for a year, lived with my parents, saved my money. Why did I travel? Because for most of my young life, I have lived in the United States, endured comments of being “exotic, spicy food, salsa.” I wanted to truly understand if these stereotypes really applied for most of South America. And if you are part of any minority in the United States, you will understand that regardless of where you are truly from you are categorized into being Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino/Hispanic, Black, or White, that’s it. Being a Latin American in the US means you are to know about all of the cuisine, Bolivian, Peruvian, Colombian, you must dance merengue and bachata, otherwise you are “too white.” Tough right? My second reason is much simpler, I wanted to improve my Spanish.

Lil more: I’m not much of hiking or any sort of physical activity kind of person. I was a bit concerned about my physical state pre-trip, but there’s sooo much else to see it wasn’t a problem, most of the time. 

I have been to: Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Clothes:

Latin America is often painted as a tropical fruity terrain with an abundance of colors and sounds. Half of that stereotype is correct, the heat… not so much. Keep in mind the South American continent has a large backbone running from Colombia all the way down to Chile. The Andes. A breathtaking mountain range that is accompanied with stifling cold temperatures and absolutely no heating systems anywhere in the countries that border it (or so it seemed). Also, contrary to very basic popular belief, there are seasons down south. There are scorching summers, breezy autumns, and cold winters. Be prepared for any temperature. I packed:

Brasília, Brazil

Picture a description of Brave New World:

A brief reference to the Hatchery itself — a “squat” building of “only thirty-four stories” — also gives a sense of the surrounding landscape, a city, by implication, of lofty heights. 

That was the eerie impression I received from Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Founded in 1960, the capital was built on an immensely ambitious dream led by then-president Juscelino Kubitschek.

Suffocated by the violence and humidity of Rio de Janeiro and drowning in the vastness of São Paulo, Kubitschek, riding on a high train of economic prosperity developed a daring idea, to move the capital of Brazil to a climatically balanced and regionally convenient area. The expeditious construction of Brasília lasted 3.4 years, under the supervision of Lúcio Costa, and the architectural plans of Oscar Niemeyer. Niemeyer envisioned Brasília to be representative of its future, following the almost laughable flag motto of order and progress. Architecturally, each governmental and residential building has a sterile and clean finish that is properly referred to as Modernism. I later found out my judgment wasn’t far off, for Oscar Neimeyer was a die-hard communist.

IMG_7048
 Palácio do Planalto the President’s workplace 
IMG_7053
Oscar Niemeyer’s plan called for Brasília to be shaped like an airplane. The body contains governmental/administrative buildings and the wings are where the upper-class resides. 
IMG_6579.jpg
My favorite models! Kids!

Faces: Peru

Two weeks and some change. That’s it. I had only two weeks and a few days to travel Peru, north, and south, nonstop. Now that I look back at my pictures, I’ve realized how rewarding the trip was, even though by the end of it I was so exhausted I began considering my return home. I had only a list of the touristic destinations I planned on visiting but otherwise little knowledge of the culture (I find it much less disappointing and surprising to have zero stereotypes and expectations about a country and its people). 

Like all the other countries I have visited, Peru differed greatly. From its arid landscape in the West coast to its tremendously breathtaking mountains and lush jungle in the East, inevitably became an astonishing destination. Its population is mainly indigenous or mestizos, a mixture of Spaniard and indigenous, with some Afro culture in the West.