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Traveling (and Giving) on the Pan-American Highway.
Traveling and Giving on the Pan Am, by Mark E.
The reason I am going once again on the RV trip of a lifetime, it may seem repetitive, but it is not, one lady traveled three times with the group, and then flew down again.
The RV expedition groups have traveled the Pan American Highway for 15 years, and this next expedition is the 16th Anniversary. The trips focus on really seeing the countries realistically, as they truly are. The people, the communities, the cultures, the schools, and the nature are seen from the RV window in REAL LIFE! just as it is!, not a “show” put on for cruise ship tourists! We also saw everything the “fly-in” tourist would also.
Living the trip is everyday! One day we may start out and the destination might be the famous Machu Picchu the pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site l, and another day it may be Pozo Almonte, a little known town of 1500 persons! But, in those little known, off-the-beaten-path places and towns, you may find the most rewarding observations and experiences – by “living” the trip.
These are the times you must, take a breath, sometimes close your eyes, and maybe even pinch yourself, to realize where you actually are! You are living next to “new neighbors” who have accepted you, not as a “tourist”, but as a person (with also your home with you) who has the interest to visit their small town, and interact with them.
They really want to “show” you everything, again not as a tourist, but a friend from a far away place. We were often asked from other foreign tourist we met enroute – “have you had any problems?” The response usually was, the main problem we had encountered was: saying NO! No we can’t stay any longer, NO, we can’t eat anymore of the homemade bread, NO, we could not take that shirt off your back! And on and on. The people were so friendly, and most of all SINCERE!
THE GIVING BACK – We were advised to bring some children’s clothes, some school supplies, and photographs from home, of our home, town, and family to show enroute. These items all “broke the ice” with our new neighbors.
Some of our people showed the children (and the adults also) what their areas have to offer, especially the birds and nature, they were so surprised to see we had the birds in our materials, and they appreciated this learning of birds and also flowers. They taught us about many plants used for medicines, and new fruits that we never knew existed!
Besides the tourist attractions, we visit small country schools, community halls, coffee plantations, sugar factories, handicraft areas, farms and grain elevators, and many other offbeat places. At the schools, we visit with the permission of the staff, and see the everyday school life. Afterwards, we leave some school supplies, and share photos with the children and teachers. Also maybe send an old computer from home afterwards to them.
The trek staff has a EMT or paramedic present, and many times there is an opportunity to do a community blood pressure check, and this is also done in the rural areas, while the groups sees the points of interest. The people are so grateful that we show an interest. Most of the time there are some retired nurses, who also participate in this. - This is part of the GIVING BACK! This is enjoying the tourism, the countries, and the people, and leaving with a great feeling of the experience! Nothing against the Cruise Ship Tourist, but only the RV tourist can do this!
THIS TRAVEL EXPERIENCE REALLY GIVES YOU A GOOD FEELING – NOT ALL TAKING, BUT ALSO GIVING!
The petroglyphs this far north are not often visited, and are not part of a developed tourism circuit, but are still worth a visit. There are two different sites accessible from the northernmost city in Chile, Arica. Ofragia is 114 km south of Arica and was an important oasis town on the way to the Inca capital of Cuzco in Peru. The petroglyphs date to 1000 to 1500 AD. The Lluta Valley was a river valley, and part of the trade route to Lake Titicaca in Peru. It is 38 km northwest of Arica, and contains large geoglyphs (though not as large as the Giant of the Atacama), and include a giant eagle and other bird figures, and anthropomorphic forms as well.