Hasta Luego Latinoamérica

Wading pool and fountain at Iquique beachfront park

Wading pool and fountain at Iquique beachfront park

Florence and I have spent two years traveling and living in Latin America, and in some ways it has been a dream come true. My childhood dream of standing on the pampas of Argentina and looking up at the Andes Mountains was made a reality when we first started our journey. We did even better than that. I saw Aconcagua with my own eyes!

Aconcagua, highest point in the hemisphere

Aconcagua, highest point in the hemisphere

I stood beneath the granite towers in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. I will carry those glorious moments with me the rest of my life, like my youthful memories of climbs in the Pacific Northwest.

A frequently asked question from people who have learned of our travels and our Six Monther lifestyle is, “Do you have a favorite place?” Obviously, the places we have chosen to live have been special. We got to know Boquete, Panama, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, as our home. Beyond that, the answer is yes. In fact, we have more than one favorite place.

Pucón, on the shore of Lake Villarica

Pucón, on the shore of Lake Villarica

At the top of my list is Pucón, Chile. This beautiful little resort town on the shore of Lake Villarica sits at the base of an active volcano of the same name. I think we are all in some ways a product of our youth, and in my youth I was a regular hiker and climber in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Pucón reminded me of home surrounded by snow-capped peaks with skiing facilities, crisp clean air and streams that flowed so clean and pure you want to dip a drinking cup in them to experience the best tasting water in the world.

Florence in the Iquique main plaza

Florence in the Iquique main plaza

Florence’s favorite spot was also in Chile, the far north City of Iquique. From the moment we crested the mountain ridge with the dramatic view overlooking the city she was captivated. Our hostel was across the street from the beach, and we walked over every day. The shoreline of the city was a mile long stretch of park with grass and palm trees and picnic areas. As we sat on one of the park benches overlooking the water, we felt like this is what Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, must have looked like sixty years ago. Families were out with their children and pets. Ice cream vendors were peddling by. The weather so close to the Equator was perfect. It was tranquil – almost magical.

Mike at Torres del Paine NP, Chile

Mike at Torres del Paine NP, Chile

Now we are on our way to Europe. We do not plan to return to Chile for eight years. We still have much to see and do and share. While it is gratifying to know there is a place so special we hope to someday return, for now we say, “Hasta luego, Latinoamérica.” We love you, and we look forward to seeing you again someday.

Traveling and Living Abroad Cheaply

Even the automobiles are preserved in historic Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay.

Even the automobiles are preserved in historic Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay.

My experiences traveling and living outside the United States over the past two years have provided me with some insights which I will share here. Please add ideas from your own experiences so that those who follow in our footsteps might benefit. I am not addressing traditional vacationers who travel on a larger budget and stay in more upscale resorts or who prefer cruises.

This article addresses two distinct groups:

  1. those who wish to travel abroad cheaply, and
  2. those who wish to live abroad cheaply.
We learn how easy it is to make new friends at the Backpacker Hostel in Iquique, Chile.

We learn how easy it is to make new friends at the Backpacker Hostel in Iquique, Chile.

The former group consists of those whose objective is to see some of the world on a tight budget. These folks typically backpack, camp, couch surf, utilize hostels, and travel mostly by bus. They will discover places they love and perhaps one day they will return to live for awhile.

I enjoy traveling with this group. Hostels are great places to meet travelers and there is a constant turnover of people. The hostel is a communal environment, and everyone has a story to tell. Also, hostels provide the use of a community kitchen where we can prepare food ourselves rather than eating every meal at a restaurant. Think twice about hostelling if you like to go to bed early because hostel folks are generally better at partying than us older people.

An incredible variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, etc. is sold at the Central Market in Valencia, Spain.

An incredible variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, etc. is sold at the Central Market in Valencia, Spain.

Most people decide to live abroad because it is less expensive. They have a source of income, and most often they are retired. I am a member of this group. I have spent time in a dozen countries. In each locale I ask myself the question, “Would I want to live here?” Here are some sample criteria, all of which pertain to quality of life:

  1. Is living here affordable?
  2. Would I feel comfortable going for a walk or bike ride here?
  3. Is the air clean?
  4. Are there interesting things to see and do?
  5. Is the climate agreeable?

Once you find a place where you would like to live, here are some basic tips:

It takes two Walk lights to cross the Av. 9 de Julio in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It takes two cycles of the WALK light to cross the Avenida 9 de Julio in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, the world’s widest boulevard.

  1. Rent, do not buy. Anything can happen to change your mind about where you wish to live. Do not get tied down until you have lived someplace for an entire year. If you decide to buy a home, make sure you fully understand the laws governing property ownership. And yes, you will probably need to consult with a local attorney, so ask around for a good one.
  2. Determine if you will need a car. Is the local transportation system reliable? You can save a lot of money doing without a car, and you can always rent a car for special outings.
  3. Learn the language. Even if you only know a few words in a foreign language, use them. And keep studying to improve. The more you learn the more you will enjoy the local culture.
  4. People typically over-pack. Go light where you can, especially with books. (Invest in an eReader.)
  5. Make sure you have a good internet connection. This is how you will stay in touch with the folks back home.
  6. Be flexible in your plans. You may discover something better than what you planned once you hit the road.
  7. Start researching now for the lifestyle you wish to pursue later. Get excited!

My blog is all about the places we have seen and the places where we have lived. We do not plan to stay in one location for more than a year, so we will not be buying a house. We are already thinking about the next place we wish to live. Until then I will be sharing my stories from Cuernavaca, Mexico.