Honey moon unlikely
Katarzyna i Łukasz Afek decided to spent a couple of months of their honey moon backpacking around Latin America. A few days before departure they found out that they become parents. They used to live in Dublin last year, saving money for their new life in Poland.
Having seen almost every nook in Asia, my biggest dream and plan for next year is to explore South America. Could you share your first impressions and how it differs from Asia.
You want to compare South America to Asia…? It is difficult to find common features. America is more similar to Europe and more civilised. There are all human races living in America, nobody is taking pictures with you only because you are white unlike in Asia. People very often think that we are Brazilian, but when we say we are from Poland they immediately recall John Paul II. Some people give us a big hug and treat us almost like Pope himself. And when I say that my husband was born very close to the Pope’s birth place, then they want to take pictures with us and ask us to send them postcards from Poland. At least in theory this part of the world is Catholic and we don’t meet other religions here. In general we don’t perceive a culture shock in Latin America comparing to what we have experienced in India, on the contrary.
This is your honey moon, isn’t it? Why did you choose backpack travelling instead of a five-star-hotel stay and comfortable sunbathing?
Yes, this is our honey moon and sometimes we also think why we don’t spent this time in an exclusive hotel. I can’t believe you are asking me such a question, a person who was travelling with his backpack almost all around the world. If we wanted to lay on the beach we would spend time at the polish seaside instead of South America. But it is not a secret that we are planning a night in one of the best hotels in Rio.
Does the fact that you are pregnant bother you during such a difficult journey? Do you worry about the baby?
I got the news about the baby four days before our departure. Although we were planning our journey a year in advance, we were close to resign from it. My doctor allowed me to go if I really wanted to do. Probably he was thinking about a comfortable travel with stays in a five star hotel. But I didn’t say anything that we want to travel with our backpacks across the whole continent. We are concerned about our baby all the time. We change our plans accordingly to my well-being. Then it is not that difficult to travel. We decided not to talk too much about my pregnancy, because no one would believe it. People could have thought that we were crazy and that would be much worse to bear. When we are offered alcohol Łukasz has to drink my shot. I need to be aware of not drinking tap water and eating raw meat. And again, when we are served juices with ice or raw meat Łukasz has double portions for both of us. At the tango classes I rest every 20 minutes. All of those aspects are minor issues. The most important thing is to come back to Poland in threesome. The baby will be three months old then. We go to the doctor to see it and listen to its heart and after a few years we will show him or her pictures from our first family journey together.
Do you have any problems with accommodation. You have decided for the hospitality club service during this journey, haven’t you? Is it a convenient way to travel?
Hospitality club www.hospitalityclub.org is a real welfare for us. It is hard to describe how well we are treated by strange people. For example, Milena from Sao Paulo hosted us in a small private house situated at the back of her villa. Pablo from Santa Fe let us stay in his flat and himself stayed at his mother’s to make sure we are comfortable. Apart form excellent accommodation it is truly exceptional to sightsee with the locals is completely different from having a Lonely Planet tour guide. Sometimes we sleep in hostels and that is not bad at all. We meet many people from all over the world. Everyone travels the same like we do, so we are on the same wave length. The even snoring doesn’t bother too much.
Do you like the food in Latin America?
The food is fantastic. Especially meat is exceptionally well prepared. Argentinean steaks are famous in the whole world. It is hard for vegetarians though. Thankfully we do eat everything. Łukasz is only worried that he has put on too much. We have eaten ‚everything everywhere’ and so far we have had no stomach problem. If someone doesn’t fancy local empanadas, there is always pizza or pasta as an alternative choice and they taste similarly to Polish ones. You can find almost everything here, but there is only one thing that I miss – pickles. I feel like having them so much now.
Have you seen Machu Picchu, a globetrotters’ dream?
This is the only thing we gave up for our child. In Chile we were looking for buses to Peru but finally we decided that the there would be too much risk. We didn’t do too many vaccinations and a three-day walking through the jungle are not advisable at all for me. We will go there another time when our child is able to carry his own backpack. Life is long and flights are cheaper and cheaper every year.
And how is Tango in Buenos Aires?
Tango is present everywhere. Tango is like an export product. Tango is an integral part of people’s life and very often their lifestyle. Very often hotels, restaurant, bars are called Tango. It is like yoga in India. It is impossible not to try. We are after third lesson and we lost hope that we will learn how to dance in two weeks, but we keep trying at least. Everyone dances Tango. The most beautiful scenes during long Saturday „milongas” are when ladies put their legs around their husbands’ waits.
What did you like most so far? Did you have any incredible adventure?
Each day is different and each one of them we like most. On the contrary I will tell you a story about the most difficult situation that we have been through. It was in Chile. The whole day wasn’t that bad. We stayed on the Pacific seaside, although we were a bit disappointed that it was too cold. We were back to the city at around 5 to exchange the money before every place closed. We had no hard cash and we were a bit surprised that everything had already closed so we went back to our hotel. The receptionist confirmed that everything was closed that day. My limited Spanish was far better than his English so I kept asking him what was the reason. Obviously I didn’t understand the answer. The situation was quite serious because we were supposed to depart for Argentine next day at 8 and we hadn’t paid for that night. Not to mention the hunger. Finally, I understoos that it was a kind of a ‚holy day’. In fact it was Thursday, so I kept investigating. Muslims have holy Friday, Jews – Saturday, Catholics – Sunday, but what was so special about Thursday? It was around 7pm when I realised it was 1 November, All Saints Day, also so solemnly celebrated in Poland, which we forgot about lying on a sunny beach. The hotel owner agreed that we paid in American dollars. I had no idea to what exchange rates he referred charging us, they were outrageous. He had no change. There was no lunch nor dinner. But now the whole story brings smiles on our faces.
Did you see the toilets where Gombrowicz used to meet his lovers?
We have visited a couple of his cafés and his house where he used to live before he started his job in the bank. We often meet elegant men sitting in a café and reading a book. I imagine then that he is Gombrowicz translating „Ferdydurke”. This city has still the same atmosphere as it was in the first part of the pervious century. But this is the thing that makes the place so attractive.
Thanks for your time and have a save journey home.