We're home. *sigh* Vacation drop is brutal! Even Carter was sad that we were heading home on the flight last night. When Doug told him we were flying home, he said, "Fly to South America again!". But I have a few more pictures to share, along with some other thoughts about the trip.
It's hard to believe that just yesterday morning, this was the view from our hotel room's balcony:
The last day we were at Iguassu Falls, we took a walk after Carter's nap to see another section that we hadn't yet visited. The scenery was just stunning, and though we took a lot of pictures, it's really hard to capture it with just a camera. Any of these waterfalls would be spectacular on its own, but all of them together are truly one of the most amazing natural sights in the world. Carter was fairly patient, though what he wanted to do more than anything else was push the stroller down the pathways!
Sadly, it was time to leave on Wednesday morning. We started our 26-hour trip home by flying to Buenos Aires, driving across town to the international airport, and then hanging out there for about 8 hours until our night flight to Dallas. There happened to be a little toy Ferrari on display in the duty free shop in the airport (part of some sort of promotion), and of course, Carter loved it!
The flight went pretty well. Carter went to sleep soon after take-off, and slept for the entire ten-hour flight.
We had a few hours in Dallas, then flew home to Austin, finally getting home around 10:30 am. Considering what we'd asked of him, Carter did amazingly well. He's really a great traveler.
One of the things that we've learned about traveling with a toddler is that you need either a large room with space for them to play inside, or a hotel with lots of grounds for them to play outside. You don't actually have to do much to entertain little kids; what they love most is time to explore and play, especially outside. Any time we did something organized, it was a little hard for Carter. He just wanted to run around in the places we visited; he didn't really care for the organized tours. He needed time to play for about an hour before we did something in the mornings, and then he'd have about two hours worth of patience for a family outing. After that it was usually time for lunch and then a nap, and then more time to play. It's a relaxed pace, and not the one we would have kept when traveling BC (Before Carter), but it works.
I also have to say that traveling with a small child in Latin America was really fantastic. In most LA countries (including Spain and Italy, in my experience), the people love children. In the US, children are expected to be seen and not heard. In fact, a silent, quiet, docile child in a public place is often labeled "good" by other adults, while ones who are laughing, running around, and generally acting like normal children are seen as a nuisance, their parents considered to not be doing their job of "controlling" their kids.
Not so in countries like Chile! There, children are expected to act like children. We were in nice restaurants where children played and ran around their parents' table, while the adults relaxed and talked over glasses of wine. No one thought this was inappropriate. Children crying in a public place were treated with sympathy, rather than pressured to be quiet as soon as possible, lest they annoy anyone. Every child was treated by hotel staff, waiters, taxi drivers, and even other guests as if they were they most precious child on earth. Everyone smiled at Carter, even if he ran straight into them because he wasn't looking while running down a path ahead of us. In the US, I would've gotten dirty looks at the very least, but not there. I actually felt the change when we got back to the US. Carter had a little meltdown right before we got on the last plane (I accidentally threw part of his breakfast away, bad Mommy) and I could see the people around us getting annoyed by the sound of his crying. I'd forgotten the pressure to keep children quiet (no matter what!) in these few weeks, and I really find it disturbing.
Anyway, we're home now, and already thinking about our next trip! We're not yet sure where it will be, but we have some time to plan.
If you want to see the best of our pictures from the last three weeks, you can check them out in the slideshow below. Thanks for following us on our adventure!