Armchair travel: P.E.I.'s Nicole MacKay and her dad do South America
'Being able to share this experience with my dad and having these memories made everything I saw special'
Some people can't fathom taking a road trip with their parents even from P.E.I. to Moncton, let alone halfway around the world — but seasoned traveller and P.E.I. resident Nicole MacKay just returned from a four-week trip to South America with her 54-year-old father, Al MacKay.
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"I work as a radiation therapist at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre, and it makes you more aware of how fast your life can change," 28-year-old MacKay said. She's also a professional photographer, shooting mostly weddings on P.E.I.
"This is one of the main reasons I wanted my dad to join me on this trip — you really do not know how much time you have."
MacKay agreed to share their trip as part of CBC P.E.I.'s ongoing armchair travel series.
'More aware of the world'
She's travelled extensively the last five years, MacKay said, but it wasn't easy to cajole her father into joining her.
"It's changed me as a person," she said. "I am more aware of the world and what types of living situations and lifestyles others are in. I thought that it would be a great time for my dad to experience what I enjoy doing so much — seeing the world."
It took her a few months to convince him, including a power point presentation of what he would see when he was there, but he finally gave in to her, she said.
'Having these memories'
First, they went to Peru for about a week, staying in the towns of Ollantaytambo, Cusco and Aguas Calientes — also called Machu Picchu. Then they went to Ecuador, visiting Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, and finally to Brazil, touring Rio de Janeiro as well as Manaus.
"There was no one favourite thing for me. Being able to share this experience with my dad and having these memories made everything I saw special," she shared.
The two did enjoy meeting people from all over the world while experiencing another culture.
"We enjoyed getting to know the local people and learning more about how they live," she said.
In Peru, climbing Rainbow Mountain together in a storm, finishing at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, was a highlight, she said.
In Galapagos, swimming with hammerhead and white-tipped sharks while snorkeling at famous Kicker Rock, the remains of a volcanic cone, was their favourite.
The two slept in hammocks in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Brazil, she said.
"We were given our own hammocks to set up with mosquito nets which would cover us. Luckily, we set these up under a hut made from dried leaves which saved us during the intense amount of rain that started to fall at 4 a.m.," she recaled.
"I can honestly say that our guide was the only one who had a good night sleep.
Her father contracted altitude sickness during the trip, which "was the worst part for both of us," MacKay said.
'Could have been done cheaper'
She would "most definitely" recommend this adventure to other travellers, she said.
"This trip could have been done cheaper if you were on more of a budget, but it cost roughly $1,500 a week," she added.
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