Hey - thanks for stopping by my page.
My name is Mike - a British guy who has been working in Osaka, Japan for the last 3 years but now traveling again.
OK, apologies but this is going to be kind of tedious. Here is a quick (well - that was the plan....) run through of what I have been up to over the past 9 months!
I left Japan in July 2005 and flew in to San Francisco for my first taste of the USA - a great city which I would have liked to have stayed in for longer. I also took the opportunity to visit the amazing Yosemite National Park, just a 4 hour drive away.
From there I flew to Mexico City where I travelled South into Northern Guatemala and on into Belize. We then entered Guatemala again in the South where I did some much needed study of Spanish (don't worry, I am still utterly useless at it - but getting better). After that I did a quick skip through Honduras and on into Nicaragua, a beautiful country I definitely want to return to (Isla de Ometepe is a true gem and Leon and Granada are wonderful colonial cities). Costa Rica was nice enough but very touristy and Americanized, lacking the charm of some of its other Central American neighbours - wonderful National Parks though... Then it was over the border into Panama for a few days where I got ripped off on Isla Bastimentos but loved the beautiful beaches and clear waters - Panama City is a great capital too.
Then... the big mistake of my trip so far... I flew all the way to Quito in Ecuador and missed out Colombia. What an idiot! Everyone I have met who has been there says it is amazing/the people friendly/the Spanish comprehensible. Thus Columbia goes to near the top of my "places I most want to visit" list.
Ecuador was a breath of fresh air after Central America, and seemed culturally much richer. Peru was even better. I loved the North of the country, which was much less touristy than the South (Go to Trujillo and Cajamarca!)and the people in Lima were wonderful. I really enjoyed all of Peru, with the exception of Nazca - unpleasant town and aggressive and persistant locals. Machu Picchu was of course a highlight despite the hoardes of "Pamela from Georgia" label wearing tourists.
I crossed into Bolivia via Lake Titicaca, exploring it from both the Puno, and Copacobana sides - a great place to relax for a few days. Then on into the madness of La Paz (which was awesome) and on South through the country as far as the AMAZING Salar De Uyuni (I have never seen anything like it!) where I made an unexpected U turn on account of a missing passport. (If anyone finds a British Passport in the South Of Bolivia (possibly in the middle of a 20,000km sq salt flat) please let me know!
Following a couple of long bus journeys (42 hours out of 48 spent on buses) I went to the tranquil capital of Chile, Santiago. I met up with VTer Camilo74 who confessed that Chileans are not the friendliest of South Americans and are often referred to as the English of South America (I am trying not to be offended ;-) - I don't know about the rest of the population of the country but Camilo certainly didn't demonstrate this to be true!
From Santiago I visited the pretty island of Chiloe and then took the Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales (a great experience - not just for the scenery, socially it was fantastic too - very easy to make friends in those dormitories!) across the Magellan Strait to Tierra Del Fuego and Argentina.