With the help of MPW’s travel scholarship, I was able to travel to South America, specifically the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.
My first destination was Buenos Aires, Argentina where I was able to meet up with family. Buenos Aires has around 12 million residents living in and around the city. This creates a very active and dynamic city that is always on the move but despite the densely packed population there are many parks and activities to visit and explore. Oddly enough Buenos Aires doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure built for tourism… The majority of restaurants do not have menus in English which fostered a feeling that I was experiencing quite a traditional and undiscovered country, where visitors are able to experience a way of life that many Argentinian people experience. One of the things I found most interesting when exploring the city was that when people were waiting for the bus they would stand in one organized line. Despite not being as developed as Europe or the USA the water is perfectly safe to drink. On my trip this was the only country where I didn’t need to drink only bottled water.
After visiting Argentina my next destination was Bolivia. Unlike Argentina, Bolivia is far less developed. Once I landed and began the journey from the airport to the hotel I couldn’t help but notice people living in slums not far from the airport perimeter. Vendors, primarily woman, would sell different foods in the streets and many were accompanied by their children; in order to get enough money to survive many start working around the age of 7 or 8. The opportunity to go school and get a degree or pursue any other dreams isn’t even on the table. Witnessing a lifestyle like this opened my eyes to the world and I left feeling very appreciative of my life.
It was interesting to see the traditional Bolivian attire that the older women would wear but the younger generation seemed to prefer western clothing. In a way it was kind of sad to see a special and unique tradition slowly fading away. However the more traditional handmade clothing cannot compete with the mass-produced western clothing on cost or durability.
My final stop was Peru where I got to visit Machu Picchu, which is at an altitude of around 12,000 feet! The rapid change in altitude is very noticeable at first as it feels noticeably different and it’s hard to breathe. Machu Picchu is an ancient city in the hills of Peru. In order to reach the sight I had to take a four-hour train followed by a 20-minute bus ride. After the long commute the views were definitely worth it. It is incredible how the ancient Inca people were able to build such intricate structures at such high altitudes. Even after thousands of years the basic structures still remain intact.
My trip to South America was a fantastic way to spend my summer. I learnt and saw so much and I am very grateful to the MPW Travel Fund for supporting me with my endeavour.