Ready, Steady, Go!

Mumbai Travel Blog

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It’s been just over a month since my last post wherein I wrote about how I landed up at TB. A lot of exciting things have happened during the past month and it’s time to update you about my dream holiday to Latin America.


Before I start, my sincere apologies to all those who see the location Mumbai and think that this is a blog about Mumbai. This is post about the wonderful time I’ve been having preparing for my long two month holiday in Latin America. I live in Mumbai and hence the location Mumbai.


These days I wake up when everyone in my country goes to sleep and sleep when everyone goes to work. As I am from India you shall be forgiven for assuming that I work for a call centre. No I don’t. I happen to follow the American time zone coz it’s easier to plan things that way. When friends start greeting you with Ola/Hola and start forwarding you jokes about the affinity between Brazilians and Argentineans you know you are soon headed for LatAm.


I had already zeroed in on the countries I would visit (or at least I thought I had!) so the next logical step was to look out for best air fares. I am lucky to have a travel agent in the family. The fun started even as she punched the names of cities I wanted to visit. Do you wish to go to El Salvador she asked coz that’s what her system came up with when she typed Salvador. No, I want to go to Bahia/ Salvador a city in Brazil not the country! San Jose in Costa Rica was even trickier coz there half a dozen San Joses in Americas! Why would anyone go to Liberia for a holiday? Well, why not if it’s just a city in Costa Rica?

First lessons learnt. Be very careful about the cities you book your flights to especially when they are non-refundable!


Tourism from India to Latin America is still in its infancy, ergo, getting information on where the embassies/consulates are located was easier said than done. I was happy to get the address of the Costa Rican consulate in Mumbai and went there to enquire about the formalities as I had heard that you don’t need a visa to CR if you have a valid visa to the US! I reached the location and was frantically trying to search for the premises when the security guard casually informed me that the consulate was indeed based there but that was some four years ago! CR has no presence in Mumbai anymore!! Second lesson learnt. The internet is a great place to get information…outdated information included!


The Brazilian consulate was alive and kicking at the stated location and I breathed a sigh of relief when I got there and collected the application form. Wanting to know the submission timings I asked the receptionist when I could submit the form and promptly got a very intelligent answer “How would I know sir? You can submit it depending on when you want to travel!” I knew immediately that the Brazilians had outsourced the management of the reception desk to a local company with a very good sense of humour. I want to know the submission timings I clarified!


The policemen guarding the entrance had a small advice to give. You better come half an hour before closing time or else you might not find anyone here.


The Peruvians don’t have a presence in Mumbai and I had to contact their embassy in New Delhi. They seemed to have a pretty decent website with a downloadable form and all info but the amount of information and paper work they wanted made me wonder whether I was applying for a tourist visa or citizenship. No worries though as I had all the papers ready and it was just a matter of putting things together and couriering it to them.


If you have read my previous post you might recall that I had dropped Peru in favour of Chile but here I am writing about Peru and not Chile. Well, the Inca’s seem to wield supernatural powers and the more I read about Machu Pichu the more I wanted to do the Inca Trail Trek and had no option but to stick with Peru. Chile shall certainly be visited on my next holiday to LatAm!


After doing the ground work for airfares and visas it was time to browse the net for stuff like hotels to stay, places to visit, people to meet, things to do etc. My computer has literally become my window to the world and it beats me how people were managing their travels in olden times…say in 1990 B.C. (Before Computers)


TB and friends from Livemocha have been an unbeatable source of genuine information about every place I could imagine. I’ve met more amazing people in the past few weeks and am absolutely excited about my trip.




My first stop will be Brazil and my first thoughts are that every person who loves the environment must make sure that Brazilians are banned from going to Antarctica! The warm infectious smile of a Brazilian is sure to melt all the ice in Antarctica and hasten global warming. I first made this remark to Amelia and will now extend it to everyone Brazilian I have ‘met’.


Amelia is like an UFO one minute you see her and other you don’t. I think she is busier than Obama! Enough of being busy Amelia, it’s time for replies!! You need to learn more Hindi too.


Suzi perfectly fits the description of ‘the girl next door’ who is beautiful, intelligent and funny. She belongs to a very close knit family and. I’m sure that someday soon she’ll make her family proud. Carry on the research Suzi! She keeps reminding me not to forget my umbrella when I visit her coz it often rains in summer. Now who would want to carry an umbrella when its raining and you are with woman as pretty as she is. That’s the best time to share an umbrella right?? I know she is all going Ufff after reading this. Ok ok just teasing you Suzi..I promise I won’t forget my umbrella I’ll carry mine and just hope you forget yours…(I can hear another UfffJ).


The most infectious smiles belong to Luparuta and Nassy who I have just said hello to and hardly interacted with. Lupa tells me that her radiant smile is just a sample of the millions of happy faces I will see in Brazil and Nassy says she is glad Julia Roberts is pretty because they look so much alike. Nassy is the happiest lawyer I have seen in my life. I don’t know what Lupa does but I am sure she can be a millionaire by just bottling the secrets of her radiant smile!


How can I forget Katarina the teenager. Kats was a total shock! She seems to know more about India than me. I was convinced she had some Indian connection but then I was wrong. She is someone who seems to be as much in love with India as I am with Brazil!! Unfortunately I won’t be able to meet her as she lives in Belo which I won’t be visiting.


The best warning I have ever received is about Brazil. I’ve been warned that I might like it so much I wouldn’t want to come back. Now that’s like a place I certainly want to go to!!




If Argentineans speak with attitude Peruvians speak with altitude. I am looking forward to getting used to Cusco at 3,310 M and then the Inca Trek! High altitude with snow often reminds me of Yeti, the legend and without snow reminds me of my friend Yadi in Lima. Yadi seems to be one of those wonderful people who is always out there to help and go around with travelers visits Lima. She is one of those” been there done that kinda person.”  I am looking forward to all the Indian veggie restaurants she is gonna recommend when I am there. Claudia is another Lima person who I am sure has seen more Indian movies than I have. She can identify Indian singers even before I can finish the question ��" who is this? Mari is the third Peruvian I know from TB. She has an Indian connection which I won’t reveal here! She could be a star member of the ‘I love India club’!!




Costa Rica, my third and final stop reinforces my belief in reincarnation! What are the chances of someone going totally out of their way to make your visit memorable and comfortable? This morning I had a chat with Silvia who personally visited two hotels in San Jose to tell me which one I should be checking into. She has also taken a whole week off to show me around town and travel with me accompanied by her daughter lovely little Luciana. I am sure I must have done her some good in one of my previous lives!!


Coming to this part you must be wondering how this blog post has moved from preparation to people!! Well, I am not surprised coz I have always believed that people make the place and am a proud member of the club whose motto is “Rather be in Hell with friends than in Heaven alone!” My friends in the virtual world and the real world make me feel like the luckiest person on earth. I truly believe I’m blessed with best of friends one can ever wish for. Yes, lucky me!!!


Getting back to the preparations, my flights are all booked, hotels are either booked or decided. All the fine print, conditions and clauses have been read and its time to buy some gifts for all the friends I will be meeting. Ive always loved buying gifts and enjoy shopping for gifts more than I enjoy shopping for myself. One cousin calls me the Santa Claus of our family and that’s my best compliment to-date!!


The 17 hour layover at Newark airport is the only thing that is bothering me but since it’s on the way to and not back from my holiday I guess I should be ok. I am currently searching for a hotel outside Liberty Intl airport to catch up on sleep after my 14 hr flight from Mumbai and before my 10 hr flight to Sao Paulo.


This has been a long post after a long time but my next will be sooner and shorter coz in a month’s time I should be airborne!!

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