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Celebrating the highlights of this past year through photos!

In my last post I talked about the emotions that came along with celebrating two years of travel. Now, I just want to share some of our favorite moments through photos. Also, we have a big announcement! We feel so privileged to have spent another year living out our dreams and also realizing that this is where we want to take the future too. We are super excited to announce the birth of two brand new blogs!  Eating my way around South America will be my own personal blog about the foods of the continent-essentially what to eat it and where to eat it.  Laurent’s blog will focus solely on his photos at Laurent Lhomond Photography. We are still going to keep up infusedexposures and of course, writing for comosur.com but plan on new posts coming from both of our own respective blogs too.

The reason we started the new blogs is because we each have our separate passions, photography and food. infusedexposures is great because it combines those passions but I’ve been dying to just focus on the food for a long time now. So I figured, stop thinking about it and just do it already! And Laurent needs his own page to showcase his fantastic work. I think his photos are absolutely amazing and we hope you think so too!

But for now, I just want to take a moment to share with you and celebrate some of our favorite moments from the past year! We won’t travel forever so this will be really nice to look back on one day.

Lake Titicaca 

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This was one of those traveler’s moments. The kind that every ‘travel-lifer’ lives for.  It involved meeting a local fisherman which enabled us to visit one of the most over-touristed destinations but avoided the hordes of tourists. Not an easy task! Discovering your own little off the beaten track adventure while living with a local family in a stunning location and learning much about both the place and yourself in the process.  It’s like the holy grail of travel but you don’t get a chance to stumble upon this as much as you might think, so when you do it’s nice to sit back and savor it.

The Capachica Peninsula in Lake Titicaca was just that place for us.  It was like we discovered a little secret when we had an amazing opportunity to stay with a family (I met the guy on a bus) and learn about what life was like living on the lake. I wrote about it almost a year ago and thinking about it now, the feelings I had then still ring true.

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This family, who had no material things-just a shack of a house and barely enough food to go around, worked together every day on the lake fishing or farming. Their survival was literally dependent upon it.  I remember one moment that really stood out to me. They would spend most afternoons making adobe bricks out of the earth in order to make their house bigger.  This was the dry season and so the days were normally filled with lots of sun.  Except one day while we were there.  Clouds rolled in suddenly and it began to pour-and I mean pour!!  Days and months of their hard work was being washed away, literally, by the strong rain. They struggled to cover the adobe bricks so that they wouldn’t get wet but it was futile.  They didn’t have enough material to protect them all.  Instead of getting upset or being devastated, as you think they might have been, instead they were all outside working together and laughing.  Laughing as the rain soaked them and all their work.  This was an important lesson for me and a moment that will stay with me forever.

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New Years Eve in Marrakech

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After traveling up the southern coast in Peru, we both headed back to our respective homes.  I spent Christmas with my family in New York and Laurent was in France with his.  Since New Years Eve is our anniversary of when we met, we always try to do something big.  I don’t think anything can top the previous year in Antarctica but we decided to do something fun. We were able to round up quite a few of our favorite traveling friends, the ‘family’ and rent a riad for a week in Marrakech, Morocco.  The riad was gorgeous and we had a great week celebrating New Years Eve and taking trips to the Atlas Mountains and on the coast in Essouria too. A promising way to start 2014.

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A Break From Travels; 3 months in France

The place where we chose to take most of our break

The place where we chose to take most of our break

I know it might seem kind of strange to have our break from traveling on a highlight list of our travels but we didn’t exactly sit still in France. The break itself was a highlight too.  As I’ve mentioned it, as much as I love traveling, it’s not so easy and so we enjoyed having things we missed again.  I loved being able to cook in the kitchen and Laurent was happy to drive again and be able to speak in his own language (most of the time he gets stuck speaking in English or Spanish).

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In addition to having friends and family come visit us (which was great) and having some delicious dinner parties with Laurent’s friends, we did some traveling in the country too.  We took a ten day road trip to Alsace and after driving the ‘Route de Vins’ we went on to another big wine region, Bourgogne.  This trip reinforced what I have come to learn already.  The French countryside is absolutely amazing!  Food, wine and scenery, France has it all. No wonder why the French are the French! What a perfect place to take a break from our travels.

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Working for Comosur

I still can’t believe that this is still a reality.  About 6 months into my travels in South America, I stumbled upon the website comosur.  I was floored.  Where had this been all my life?  Here I was, researching things for food and I come across this page dedicated to food news in South America.  What a boon it was to me (and still is). I closely followed the site and when I saw an ad asking for writers, I figured ‘why not?’.  I responded and the owner of the website contacted me and the next thing I know, I’m writing for the site.  Now almost a year later, Laurent and I are contributers and we even started making videos because of it! As if that wasn’t enough, one of our videos got featured on Eater.com-a huge website that is dedicated to food.  This opportunity would have never been possible if it hadn’t been for comosur.

It gets even better. Recently our travels brought us back to Chile so we ventured down to a great little town called Curico and got to actually meet with Patrick Heiger of comosur and his lovely wife.  We drank wine and talked about a promising future. That’s wild stuff right there. Writing for the site has not only improved my own crappy writing but has given me a chance to reach a broader audience in terms of food and travel advice for people visiting this extraordinary continent.  We are staying on board with comosur and heading into the future to see what can come from this incredible opportunity.

The Caribbean Coast of Colombia

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Oh Colombia.  You are so full of surprises and delights.  After our break in France, the Caribbean coast is where we started our trip back on the continent.  Now I finally get why people are so nuts about the Caribbean.  It’s gorgeous.  That water!  Those beaches! The coco locos!  Whether we were cutting out our own slice of a private paradise in places like San Bernando Islands and Isla Grande or in more tourist-friendly hotspots like windswept Parque Nacional Tayrona, the Caribbean always stunned us.

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Trees dripping with mangoes, avocados and bananas along with crystal-clear waters, it really felt like a pure paradise. It was also the first place where we introduced to the warm Colombian hospitality, a feeling that has stayed with us since we left that country.  The only negative aspect for us was the heat.  At times it was insufferable!

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Zona Cafetera in Colombia

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We were relieved to climb the higher altitudes in the country in order to cool down.  What we didn’t expect was the extraordinary scenery.  The Zona Cafetera is the primary coffee growing region in the country.  It is filled with lush, greenery made up of coffee plants, sugar cane, yucca and bananas (among others).  We really fell in love with Colombia here.  Places like Salento, Salamina and Manizales will stay forever in our hearts.  I loved it so much this is where I celebrated my 40th (!!) birthday and I even dragged my friend who came to visit us in Colombia here.

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It’s here we discovered stories like Jesus Martin, where they are trying to change the culture of Colombian coffee.  It’s also here we made our first video!  While highly amateur and we made a huge rookie mistake (the mic was never turned on!) we learned a lot and most of all, that we like making videos and will continue to do so.  It was also in Manizales where we found out about visiting a place called Salamina so we could not only witness the process of sugar cane but also make a video of that too!  It would have never been possible if it were not for meeting and talking with the owners of the amazing places we stayed.

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A Taste of The Amazon

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We had our first taste of the Amazon during our first year.  That memorable homemade raft where we met some incredible people and had a great Amazon experience eating cacao off trees (and mixing it with the local firewater!).  This time around we took a plane from the capital of Colombia, Bogota to the bottom of the country in Leticia.  We stayed a few days in Puerto Narino, which is a very small town that is only reached by boat.

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Here there are no cars and we had the opportunity to stay right outside the jungle.  In the morning, we played with monkeys and macaws, during the day we fished for piranha and went looking for pink river dolphins.  Evenings were filled with the most stunning sunsets. Eventually we had to leave and took a boat to Iquitos, Peru.  Now that is a great way to cross the border!  We’ll return to the Amazon rainforest one more time when we take a slow boat from Belem, Brazil back to Colombia. Stay tuned!

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Revisiting Lima Like Rockstars

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Thanks to comosur and to our fantastic couchsurfer in Lima, we were able to revisit this favorite food destination like real rockstars!  We decided to couchsurf in Lima to meet some more locals and we just so happened to meet a fantastic host. He’s a journalist who also writes about food and travel and was just an amazing person to spend time with (and of course eat and drink together).

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In addition to this, thanks to comosur, we had interviews set up at two of the hottest restaurants in Lima right now.  We got to eat for free and interview one of the chefs at one of the best restaurants in the world!  As if that wasn’t enough, one of our interview videos was even shared on Eater.com, a huge online publication of food news all over the US.  Even though we are far from a ‘real’ journalist and videographer, these days we felt like we fit in that role with ease.

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Staying On A Real Argentine Farm

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Last year, one of our highlights was going to Cordoba and couchsurfing there.  An astronomer, he took us to the observatory in the city and we concluded our stay with a camping trip complete with a lesson on how to be a gaucho and make an asado in the backcountry.  He invited us back to Argentina anytime we wanted to spend some time at his family’s campo about 2 hours outside of Santa Fe, Argentina.  So we finally went!  It was amazing.  Laurent got incredibly sick with a high fever thankfully the first night we all enjoyed a real Argentine asado made by our friend’s father, who is literally a real gaucho!  I learned so much about working on a real Argentine farm and we got to see the cattles branded too (a somewhat harrowing but interesting experience).  His family was so welcoming, we felt right at home.  I’ll never forget our stay there.

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Finally Seeing Iguazu Falls

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Iguazu falls is on almost every list of travelers to South America and for good reason!  We missed it our first year but we weren’t going to let that happen this year.  It shares the border of Argentina and Brazil and much like Niagara falls with the US and Canada, you can visit and view the falls from both sides.  Each side offers a unique perspective.  Brazil offers a panoramic shot while Argentina lets you get up close to the individual falls.  We hiked through some of the green forest there and saw giant toucans, monkeys and coaxti roaming about.  It was a breathtaking experience and although a very heavily touristed sight, I was still awed, nonetheless.

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That’s another thing I’ve come to appreciate.  I used to think it was all about ‘getting off the beaten track’ and exploring the places that no one else has ever been.  And that’s true to some extent.  I love when Laurent and I have a place virtually to ourselves to contemplate and appreciate.  But I also think of our great trek to Machu Picchu with a huge group of fun-loving Brazilians.  A touristy thing to do in one of the most touristy places on the planet and it was still enjoyable and fun. Even though we like to travel slow, speak the language and talk to locals, we are still tourists.  It’s taken me a while to realize, it’s okay to just be a tourist sometimes and do something cheesy or silly.  Sometimes it’s more about the company you are with than the place you visit too.

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Making Brazil A Reality

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When we first started to think and plan for this trip, four years ago (!!), we thought we would originally start in Brazil.  I needed a visa and thought it would be easier to obtain in New York and then go from there.  Now I realize how easy the visa was to get in Chile and finally, two years later, we made it to Brazil!  That is where we are right at this moment as I am typing this!  We celebrated our two year anniversary by watching the right whales in the ocean over in Praia do Rosa (south of Florianoplois).

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They come here every winter to have their babies and the waters act as a make-shift nursery where the mother whale teaches her baby how to fish and essentially, how to be a whale.  Then in November, they return to Antarctica. We actually got to see the right whales in Antarctica, so seeing them here-mother and baby was a very special experience.  It didn’t hurt to have a capirihina in my hand while watching these magnificent creatures!

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And just the same as it was last year, it was the people we met during our travels and sharing in this adventure together that made our trip so memorable.  I cannot stress that point enough.  You can have the most spectacular view or do the craziest thing but when you do it with another and share the experience, it somehow makes it more worthwhile.  It reminds me of that quote from the end of the movie ‘Into the Wild’.  Happiness is only real when shared (or something like that).  The sentiment is the same and it’s so true!

Thanks for reading this and sharing in some of our favorite memories! Cheers to hopefully two more years of this crazy traveling life!

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