Ultimate South American adventure
WHENEVER I say the word Brazilian, all the men in the office cringe.
Why doesn't the word Brazilian conjure up an image of a latino person who lives in South America?
I was simply excited my Brazilian visa had finally arrived and I was greeted with groans.
I had sent my passport and all my documentation down to the Brazil Consulate in Sydney the day of the Brisbane floods.
And with just one week to fly out and a lack of faith in the Australian mail system, thanks to many a lost gift from my family, I was starting to freak out.
That tiny little book is the key, you see, to my next adventure - a three-month sojourn around South America.
Ever since I studied the Incas and Aztecs in Year 7 at Traralgon High School in Victoria during an 'Ancient Civilisations' class, I have longed to explore the land of hidden gold, puzzling etched lines and high-altitude cities shrouded in mystery.
I did have grand dreams of backpacking around the continent for a year but having a mortgage and a job you love make it hard to part ways for extended periods.
So six countries in three months it is.
And I'm hoping you'll follow me along the way - maybe give me the odd tip if you've travelled the increasingly well-worn path before.
I start with arguably the world's biggest party in Rio de Janeiro - Carnival.
It's hard to contain my excitement.
I've been dancing around my lounge room, and anyone else's for that matter, for months to limber up for the big event.
I have just days until I step onto a plane and head east.
It's actually the first time I've flown east to start a journey - it's usually north or west.
But I'm already drifting off track, aren't I?
You'll get used to it.
I often go around in circles but I always get back to the point. I think.
Anyhoo, where was I?
Oh yeah, getting drunk, I mean happy, at the endless party that is Carnival.
Did I mention I'm going to be in the parade?
Little elves are making my costume and shoes as I write so I can samba next to those hot, bronzed Brazilian beauties.
The people, of course. Don't let your mind wander again.
Please cross your fingers for me that I don't have to show too much flesh or you'll be able to pick me from the back of the grandstand thanks to my blindingly white skin.
To recover from Carnival I head off on an overland trek to Argentina.
I go via a place called Honey Island.
Need I say more?
My guidebook suggests I can choose to fish, swim, party or sunbake for three whole days.
Yeah, you can hate me if you want.
But rest easy I won't be blogging to make you jealous while I'm on the island alternating between sunbaking and swimming.
I also visit both views, the Brazilian and Argentine sides, of Iguazu Falls where, at one point, I'll be surrounded by 260 degrees of waterfalls.
Then I arrive in Buenos Aires - the Paris of South America - where I expect to instantly fall in love.
A man would be nice, but just the city will suffice.
There I have a homestay organised for a week while I do a Spanish school in the heart of the city.
I got my level one exam this week on the email which I think I'll pass with flying colours.
But I'll be a little worried if she send me level two - I think I've exhausted all my knowledge on level one.
I've been having Spanish lessons from Carlos at Maroochydore.
Originally from BA, his passion for teaching his language is infectious, even if I regularly curse the Spanish grammar.
Object pronouns are my current gripe. I kid you not 'she gives it to him' becomes 'to him it gives she' once you turn it into Spanish.
But, again, I digress, and this is getting much longer than I expected my first blog to be.
So here's the abridged version
I fly north to the Galapagos Island, then head into the Amazon jungle in Ecuador and head south along the Peruvian coastline.
I head Cuzco, the base for Inca ruins like Machu Picchu, via the Nazca Lines and Colca Canyon.
Then it's onto Bolivia with a homestay on Lake Titicaca, partying in La Paz and exploring the Uyuni salt flats.
I cross the border back to Argentina, fly south to Patagonia to see the glaciers, fly back to BA and then home
You exhausted yet?
I am just thinking about it.
But I'm sure I'll take a breath somewhere.
Probably at an internet café to write my next blog.
A Latin Affair is a travel column written by Rae Wilson.