Exactly one year ago I was landing in Quito. My one-way ticket in one hand and my suitcase in the other. A
I took 43 flights.
I visited 3 New Wonders of the World.
I met so many people from all over the world.
And I learned how to travel. This was my first time outside Europe, my first travel on my own, and I was a bit scared. I started the easy way, joining the best nomad community in the world: WiFi Tribe. Accommodation and wifi were already arranged, I was provided with new amazing friends and a safe environment.
Easy, right? I traveled with them for 10 months and we lived incredible experiences and adventures together, but, when I started to spend more time with locals than with the community, I understood I had to change something. Speaking Spanish gave me an advantage for meeting locals easily, diving into their culture and living real local experiences. So I realized I was ready.
And there was when my new solo adventure started. I decided to stop traveling with the Tribe and go back to the countries I loved more, starting from my favorite: Brazil.
I have been living in Rio de Janeiro for 2 months now and I love it. I learned Portuguese, I met again friends from the first time I went here, and I’m constantly meeting new people thanks to Couchsurfing. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you are alone!
Sadly, I will leave Rio in a week and I will go back to Italy for a month. You know, after one year it’s good to go back to parents and friends, right? But I will not stop! I already booked flights to Iceland, New York and Mexico! And from there I will keep going: probably Guatemala, Belize and back to Colombia and Brazil again. New adventures are waiting for me!
I started to travel with one main goal: escaping from my comfort zone. I decided I wanted to be a “Yes Man” and I said yes to everything.
Eating ants in the jungle? Yes. Swimming in a river with pirañas? Yes. Bathing in a 10° lagoon? Yes. Jumping from a waterfall? Yes.
I did things I never thought I could do! I went beyond my limits and I understood that everything is possible. It’s just a mindset. If you stop thinking you can’t do it, you will do it! And it applies to everything.
Something I love about traveling is also learning new skills: I improved in surfing, I got the PADI certificate in Scuba Diving, I learned to dance salsa and tango and I’m attending a rock climbing course here in Rio.
Here are some highlights from the past year in Latin America.
1. Hiking up a 5000 meters volcano
2. Getting the “Montezuma revenge” the first week of travel
3. Walking into the Amazon jungle by night under the rain
4. Taking a swing at the end of the world
5. Playing football barefoot with Kichwa indigenous in the middle of the jungle
6. Being kicked in the face by a monkey who doesn’t like selfies
7. Eating alive “lemon” ants
8. Drinking “Chicha”, the typical Kichwa drink
9. Joining the Miss Kichwa local party
10. Walking on the edge of a waterfall
11. Tubing in the rapids
12. Traveling on the back of a pickup
13. Swimming with sea turtles, black tip sharks, and sea lions in Galapagos
14. Paragliding over Lima
15. Sandboarding and dune bugging in a Peruvian oasis in the desert
16. Flying on a shaky 6-sit plane
17. Hiking the Salkantay trek for 4 days under rain, snow and heil
19. Biking down one of the most dangerous roads in South America, at full speed
20. Playing with perspective on the Salt Flats
21. Sailing on the Titicaca lake
22. Petting an alligator on the snout
23. Fishing pirañas with a piece of meat attached to a string
24. Swimming in the same river with pirañas, alligators, caimans, and a pink dolphin
25. Being bitten by a monkey (and getting a rabies shot)
26. Looking for the giant anaconda in the Pampas
27. Roadtripping in a campervan in the Atacama Desert
28. Floating in a 10-degrees salty lagoon
29. Trying to start the engine of the campervan at 5 am, when waking up and discovering that everything is frozen
30. Practicing capoeira in Rio de Janeiro
31. Walking up to the Christ in Rio, one of the New Seven World Wonders
32. Partying day and night for one week during the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
33. Rock-climbing the Sugarloaf mountain in Rio
34. Crossing a favela in a moto-taxi
35. Drinking mate with Argentinians
36. Attending tango classes in Buenos Aires
37. Getting drunk of wine in Mendoza
38. Skiing in Bariloche
39. Walking with penguins in Patagonia
40. Visiting the most southern city in the world
41. Hiking a glacier
42. Being bitten by hundreds of mosquitos while trying to see the bioluminescence
43. Visiting Chichen Itza, a Seven World Wonder
44. Eating guacamole with grasshoppers
45. Partying with Mexicans in a cemetery for the Dia de
46. Scuba diving with bull sharks
47. Drink a mojito in La Bodeguita del Medio and a daiquiri in El Floridita
48. Going to a Buena Vista Social Club concert in Havana
49. Writing a book about my travel in Havana
50. Witnessing thousands of turtles laying eggs
51. Jumping from a super high waterfall (and barely survive)
52. Galloping as fast as the wind on the beach at sunset
53. Seeing a sloth slowly coming down the tree for pooping
54. Bathing in a volcano full of mud in Cartagena
55. Swimming by night in a pitch-black lagoon with bioluminescence
56. Attending salsa classes in Medellin
57. Hiking among the tallest palm trees in the world
58. Climbing 707 stairs to reach the top of a rock
59. Petting a manta ray
60. Hiking for 4 days in the jungle, for reaching the Lost City
A pretty intense year, isn’t it?
Those experiences were amazing, but what really matters more are the people I met along the way, their cultures, their stories, their teachings. Doing and seeing wonderful things is cool, but they are just a list in a post if you don’t experience places deeply, instead of being just a tourist.
I prefer just to settle down in a city for one or two of months, meeting locals and understand how life is there, rather than moving every week, looking for the next big thing. Slow traveling is the best way for me.
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