Annnnnd that’s a wrap!

This month was the very last of our round-the-world trip. We spent all of May traveling through Peru and Colombia, and now I’m sitting at my late grandmother’s house in southern Georgia, reflecting on all we’ve experienced through the last 346 days.

There are a lot of posts I want to write about it all (and quite a few on the backlog about the countries we visited that were never published), but for now, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned round-up.

Places visited: Cusco, Lima, Bogotá, Salento, Medellin, San Gil, Santa Marta, Cartagena, San Andrés, Atlanta.


1. Finishing the Salkantay Trek: I remember thinking back in the late summer of last year that I had reached my physical peak when I climbed to the top (and then the bottom) of Mt. Hallasan on Jeju Island. Boy, was I wrong.

Joel and I had originally planned on taking the classic Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu, but after hearing a lot of great things about the alternative Salkantay route (and discovering that it was half the price), we chose the latter. It covered nearly 50 miles over the course of four days, reaching over 15,000 ft in altitude and taking us through snowy mountain passes, bright aqua waters, and the Amazon jungle. And of course, there was the mighty World Wonder of an ancient, Incan civilization waiting for us at the end.

It was tough, especially when climbing 90-degree angles on thinned oxygen or speed-walking down rocky hills for three hours straight, but absolutely worth it. The views were incredible, the food was delicious, our group was supportive, and most of all, I proved to myself that I could do it. If you told me a year ago that I’d survive a multi-day trek in the Andes and live to rave about it, I’d laugh in your face. Now it feels like anything is possible.

2. Celebrating in Aguas Calientes: Salkantay is tough on the body. You get to your hotel on the last night and can barely move enough to get yourself in the shower. What’s the best way to celebrate the end of a taxing trek and checking another bucket list item off your list? By sampling the local liquor, of course.

Joel and I, along with our two friends, Preeti and Bhanu, sat down in a restaurant-bar in the middle of Auguas Clients and ordered a round of beers for a proper cheers to the end of our week in the Sacred Valley together. By the time we left for the train back to Cusco, we were pounding shots of aguardiente with two of the employees and stumbling in the middle of the street. It was a great way to end our time together.

3. Horseback riding in Salento: The heart of Colombia’s coffee industry, Salento, is an inexpensive and beautiful place for horseback riding. We paid just $22 a person for a three hour tour through the jungle and over rivers (horses are surprisingly adept at trekking over slippery stones), with a full coffee farm tour in the middle.

If you happen to be in the area, you can find reviews for the family we rode with here.

4. Paragliding in San Gil: Because how can flying over one of the world’s most beautiful canyons not be on this list? I’ve been skydiving and parasailing in the past, but never paragliding, so this was a completely new experience for me. It’s actually quite peaceful (aside from the initial run-off-a-cliff scenario) and a really great alternative to flying a drone for footage. 😉

5.Our all-inclusive in San Andrés: This was both our first times staying at an all-inclusive resort, in addition to visiting the Caribbean in general. I’m usually more of a scootering-through-remote-Vietnamese-villages kind of girl, but it was nice to take a break from some of the more hardcore travels we’d had this year. Three full days of piña coladas and snorkeling through crystal-clear waters was the perfect way to end our time abroad.

5. Finishing our RTW trip: WE DID IT! Two years of planning and saving paid off, big time. I still remember sitting at my desk at work and wishing that time could just speed up, that our departure date would come faster. I remember other people doubting that we could make it for a whole year without getting awfully homesick or killing each other in the process. I remember a few friends not having faith in our budgeting abilities and worrying that we’d run out of money, and I remember questioning myself because of it.

Yet, here I am, standing on U.S. soil nearly one year later, having checked off almost every bucket list item we had planned to, and not being entirely broke at the end of it all. I’d say that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.


1. My SD card glitching after Salkantay: I wish I was joking. There’s not a lot of in-depth information on the Salkantay trek online, and I wanted to create an epic vlog detailing the whole journey—I ended up filming over 600 clips in the process.

They’re gone. Every. Single. One.

My at-home recovery program was useless, which means that I’ll need to bring it into a professional service if I want a fighting chance of getting all that footage back. It will likely cost around $500-1000, depending on the level of damage, AKA the price of a plane ticket to a foreign country. Which brings up a difficult question: is it better to spend your money on digging up old memories, or on creating new ones?

I still have a handful of photos left that survived the magenta-banding-of-death (thank goodness), but the number is minuscule compared to how many I took in total.

The lesson: only use camera bodies with dual memory card slots (kidding…kind of).

2. My grandmother passing: It was bizarre timing. I had bought tickets to visit my dad in Georgia over a month ago. Just a few days before we arrived, she was put on hospice care. The doctor predicted that she would go in the next few days. I was initially happy that I’d get to visit her (as opposed to arriving a week later), until my dad got a call when we were just two hours outside of Blakely (it takes four hours to get there from the airport), informing him that she had passed on.

I won’t pretend that we were close. But I do wish I had a chance to say goodbye. She had been sick for a while, so it didn’t come as a shock—but given that I hadn’t been back to Georgia for almost four years, it would have been nice to see her one last time.

Best Eats

1. Mordena in Cusco: I wasn’t a big fan of Peruvian food (minus the ceviche of course), but Mordena stole my heart. We came here as a celebratory dinner at the end of our Salkantay trek. The grilled seafood platter was amazing.

2. Andrés Carne de Res: This place is difficult to put into words. First of all, it’s massive—more of a complex than a restaurant. Second of all, the atmosphere is absolutely wild. Loads of crazy decorations and signs everywhere, with live bands passing through the aisles and cheery clowns welcoming you with colorful sashes. Third, the food is delicious (that is, if you can manage to narrow down one or two choices out of their 70-page menu). We ordered a shared appetizer plate with fried everything and split a garlic butter steak for our main course. Washed it all down with plenty of local beer, of course.

3. Waffle House: This fast-food diner chain is all over the Southern U.S. It’s not a gourmet restaurant by any means (they sell giant waffles for $3 for a start), but to me, this place is dripping in nostalgia. I remember going here with my dad growing up, usually as a stopover on the drive down from the Atlanta airport to Blakely, and eating all sorts of greasy and delicious breakfast foods. As an adult without a yearly summer vacation, I’m finding it harder and harder to make time to visit my family here, so I really appreciate these little tokens of my past.

4. Blood sausage and offal: This probably sounds gross to anyone from America, but YUMMMM. Joel and I split a basket of blood sausage and pig organs, served on top of plantains and arepa, and it was magnificent. The best part was that the massive portion we shared only cost around $5 (I’m going to miss South American prices once I’m home…)

5. Chicken tamales: Somewhere in the streets of Bogotá is a little tamale-and-soup shop that serves up the BEST tamales I’ve ever had. Like, you don’t know what a tamale is until you’ve eaten here. They’re roughly about the size of a three-week-old puppy and have this incredible flavor and texture that’s just so comforting and satisfying. Anthony Bourdain even ate here, if that tells you anything.

What’s Next?

We’re flying to LA today and staying there until mid-June, at which point I’ll finally return home to the Bay Area. We’re both very much (f)unemployed at the moment, which means job hunting is definitely high up on the list of next steps.

Lots of other boring adult stuff—like renewing my phone contract and dealing with medical insurance—are coming up. That doesn’t mean that I’m done with all the adventures. I plan on moving into the city once I get my feet on the ground, and taking a lot more trips in the future (although how many and for how long will depend on my work situation once that’s settled).

As for the fate of this blog? I’m planning on keeping it very much alive. I wanted my own little corner of the web for as long as I can remember, and the purpose of this site lies far beyond the scope of this trip. I love having a place to practice my writing chops and share my photography with the world. You can expect to see a lot of reflection on our RTW experience (like my favorite places and how to plan your own trip) and more local coverage on things to do in San Francisco and around California. I also have a few future trips already in the works, so expect the content to continue flowing. I’ll be filling in my backlog of posts, too. Even through 50+ posts, I’ve left out a lot of information and guides that I wanted to put together on the places we visited this past year. I hope to get those out soon.Cheers to a crazy, wonderful, life-changing year!


Cities Visited: 10

Distance Traveled: 6,403 miles/10,305 km

Photos Taken: 1484 (much less than previous months because ya girl ain’t tryna get her camera stolen)

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