Sometime mid 2019 as my contract was coming to an end I was prepping to go on a month long getaway to Japan, Taiwan & South Korea. However a few weeks before I could take off, my contract extended by another six months through to end the of the year meaning I had to put my Asian travel on hold and instead plan for a bigger one possibly for the end of the year.
So between July and December that year I lined up myself with plenty of solo trips within New Zealand. So many that I was hardly in Wellington for a weekend over the next 5 months. Each time I got away and spent time amidst the beautiful NZ landscape, I knew I wouldn’t be too far away from lining up the next one very soon. On one such ME time, I had decided that the end of the year trip was going to be a super epic trip of my life.
Initially in my mind it started off as 100 days trip to South America but then I thought of making it into a 250 days challenge. But eventually, because I had no end date at all in mind, I decided to make it a journey across all six inhabited continents on the planet instead. So with that in mind, I started making a draft itinerary for the first 6 months. And then play by ear after that. Except for a couple of flights that I booked in advance, just so that I don’t get carried away in a certain geography for too long, I had no other set itinerary for anything anywhere.
Thus sometime late December, after I finished my contract, pretty much on the last working day I had my bag packed & ready to go straight to the airport. A good friend, the very first mate of mine in the country I stepped into 16yrs ago, was the one to offer me a ride to the airport. With no plan of returning to the country for a few years (or so I had thought at that stage) we both grabbed a drink together before I departed from the city I called home for the last decade and a half.
It all began with a couple of days in Honolulu, Hawaii which set the perfect tone to a long haul travel. And from there started my few weeks of North American journey where I spent a weekend in Vancouver before taking the train to Seattle, Washington. I did catch up and hangout with a buddy from school whom I last met nearly 20yrs ago. We had a whale of a time for a few days and then we took off to hit the Canyons in Utah & Arizona. Having previously explored the Grand Canyon a couple of years back, this time I wanted to check out and experience the Antelope & Bryce Canyons. And oh wow what an incredible part of US landscape that is. The canyon trip ended with an amazing night in Las Vegas after which I made my way to Dallas, Houston. Here’s a short video of that trip.
Over the next 2 weeks or so I spent time with good friends in Dallas, Miami & Tampa after which my real solo trip took over as soon as I stepped on that plane from Miami to Havana. The very first of the Latin American Spanish speaking countries that I was going to be a part of over the next 2-3 months. Spending a few days in Cuba taught me how it was going to be in the days to come and as good as it sounded it was equally scary & intimidating.
My Latin American journey spanned across 14 countries including all nations of Central America and a handful of them in South America. Thankfully none of them made me face too many challenges or give me any bad experiences at all, unlike what I had read about before I embarked on my journey. Either it was my colour, my personality or just my luck, I managed to sail through this geography as smoothly as I could. Along the way I made plenty of friends from various parts of the world, experienced some incredible cultures and got to try some amazing food.
The whole of central and South America had plenty of highlights no doubt. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua to Cliff Diving in El Salvador, from hiking up Machu Picchu to sipping cocktails in Copacabana Beach Rio, from the forests of Tikal Guatemala to the salt flats in Bolivia, from hostel party in Chile to exploring Uruguay etc etc the entire geography caught my attention every minute that I couldn’t get enough of it at all. The real highlight was experienceing the world’s largest waterfalls in Iguazu. Never had I ever witnessed or experienced such a natural wonder in my life. But before I knew it the time had come to leave the most beautiful continent and board that plane to London where I was to spend time meeting friends n family for a week and then take off to Marrakech.
It was during that week in London that the pandemic was taking a nasty nasty turn. Europe was becoming the new epicentre and I wanted to get away from there before it could turn worse or I get stranded further. I had promised a friend to catch up in Morocco and she was already on her way from down under. So I thought may be from Morocco I could head towards the Middle East and the to India from there while the situation got a bit under control. Without having too much of a choice I decided to go anyway and that was the first taster of how the world had changed and how it was going to be. I was boarding a flight from London Gatwick and boy the airport was so deserted like I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was literally a ghost town.
It was a day after landing in Marrakech that the airspace and the borders were closing off. Soon the world was to follow suit and one by one all the countries started to do the same. The embassies started to contact people and were now making requests for us to leave Morocco as soon as possible. It was only until the accomodations and hostel stopped accepting travellers that a little bit of panic was starting to kick in and before anything could get worse, I & my friend got ourselves out of Marrakech on a repatriation flight to London Stansted.
It wasn’t all over yet. Within 24hrs of arriving into London, my friend made her way back to where she had started from .i.e, Melbourne Australia. I was kind of stranded unable to go anywhere but eventually made my way to a friend’s house in London, after being denied entry on the Eurostar to Brussels or Paris. From then on for the next 3 months I shuffled between Wembley, Reading, Brighton & Bromley spending time alone in a lockdown, sharing a huge mansion with stranded travellers n students, exploring a new city and finally hanging out with my kiwi best mates in London before leaving the UK.
Eventually with some assistance from the Indian high commission, a few organisations and with a lot of patience, I managed to get myself on a repatriation flight from Heathrow to Bangalore, so I could spend time with my family. A journey that was set out as a never ending one, was put to halt by an invisible organism. A virus had brought the world to a stand still and definitely cut short my plans. Yet I managed to circumvent the globe and am totally grateful for whatever experience I could get, in what will be now known as the Pre-Covid World !!
This was my travel path !!!
Here’s a Gallery of a few handpicked images from this epic trip – I tried to choose one from each country on this trip but there may be a few double ups.
All my friends in USA that I caught up with before my solo journey of the Latin American geography began !!