Enjoying the sea at Viña del Mar, Chile.
Posing in Washington, DC

Welcome! My name is Kim, and I write this blog out of love for the people, languages, landscapes, and cultures of South America in the hopes that YOU will be inspired to travel independently, frugally, and authentically throughout the well-transited and less-visited regions of this amazing continent.

I have spent the past few years managing volunteer teaching programs in Peru and Chile and taking advantage of any opportunity to travel around South America. I specialize in connecting with strangers on long bus rides and bonding with curious children while taking a million photos.

I currently work with non-native English speakers who want to improve their communication skills and reduce their accent at English with Kim!

I continue to share stories and photos of my travels throughout South America when I can!

The Story Behind My Love of South America

As clichéd as it sounds, moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2001 to study abroad absolutely changed my life. I was raised in a small town in New England and I had never lived in a big city before. During this year, I fell in love with the vibrant city lifestyle, public transportation, Argentine culture and all its contradictions, international cinema, independent travel, hiking, hostels, and the Andes.

When I graduated college, I moved to New York City, seeking more of the same while following a pretty traditional corporate career path, discovering my love for yoga and salsa dancing along the way.

After three years, I said goodbye to that crazy city and moved to San Diego to start a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies.  I was still hooked on South America and decided that studying the region was the best way to guarantee my return!

In 2007, I traveled to Peru, ostensibly to do research for my Master’s thesis, though I managed to squeeze in a fair amount of backpacking around southern Peru and Bolivia before revisiting my first love, Buenos Aires.  These three months of open-ended travel rekindled my wanderlust. (You can see some photos here.)

Volunteering in Huaycán, Lima, Peru

After finishing my Master’s, I started teaching English to adults; for the past enine years, I have taught English as a Second Language and literacy to immigrants, refugees, and international students.  This was partly strategic; I knew that teaching English would enable me to live overseas again. 😉

And so it was: in 2012, I decided to volunteer for a year managing an English program for a small nonprofit outside Lima, Peru.  During this year, I learned a lot about myself and what international volunteering really is.  I loved working with the kids involved in our programs, I loved being immersed in Peruvian culture, and I loved how Lima’s combis (public buses) could get me anywhere!

In July 2013, I began another long-term solo backpacking adventure, this time traveling through northern Chile, northwestern Argentina, central and northern Peru, and Ecuador.  This trip was my dream come true, and I believe these five months were truly blessed with luck and love.  Cue all the spiritual talk about connecting to the flow of your life, but seriously, if you are truly present in your life, anything is possible.

Feeling a strong desire to return to South America after another year in Boston, I moved to the Valle de Elqui, Chile in January 2015 to work for an international volunteer organization, supporting volunteers in their transition to life abroad and working closely with a Chilean foundation and local teachers to improve English language education in the region.  In February 2016, I finished up my work in Chile and decided to return to teaching English online as a location-independent business owner.

This is the story I continue to tell on my blog.  I write so that I can show off my photos of some of the gorgeous places I have visited, detail less-visited regions, and share budget travel tips, particularly for visiting places independently by taking local buses and other forms of public transportation.  I feel you see more and learn more when you mix with the locals and I love to talk to strangers, particularly on long bus rides. 🙂

My Love of Photography and Culture

Posing in Cajamarca, Peru
Posing in Cajamarca, Peru

My parents often remind me of how I had a meltdown at age 11 when we visited Niagara Falls and I accidentally left my camera in the hotel room.  I have a Nikon D40 which I love for its tiny size and a beat-up 24-85 lens which I bought for my film camera years ago.  I tend to photograph landscapes, cityscapes, food, and people.

I love learning about language, culture, and people, and speak fluent Spanish and conversational Portuguese.  I combined all of these interests to write my Master’s thesis on Peruvian fusion music.

I believe in sharing what I know.  You can find an oft-cited website I created on Third Cinema here and learn more about my professional teaching persona at English with Kim.

Beyond photography and curiosity about other cultures, I love yoga, salsa dancing, biking, and all forms of textile art (currently I’m obsessed with embroidery!).

The Story Behind Blueskylimit.com

Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino, El Calafate, Argentina

blueskylimit.com has been around since 2003 and was inspired by my first South American journey.  I became obsessed with blue skies while living and traveling in Argentina in 2001-2002, as I felt that the South American skies were so much bluer than those I remembered in the U.S.

This photo from 2001 shows the impossibly blue sky over El Calafate, Argentina.

I have played around with blogging since blogs were still called online journals, but nothing really stuck until 2007, when I kept a South America travel blog on a now-defunct blogging platform.  In late 2009, I decided to leave California and move back to Boston, and I started up the blueskylimit blog to share photos, stories, and tips from my great American cross-country road trip.  I recommitted to this blog when I decided to move to Peru in 2012, and here I am today, still catching up on writing the stories and posting photos from my South American backpacking adventures. 🙂

In the Press

Tell Magazine (July 2015) – While living in Chile, I was interviewed (in Spanish!) for a local magazine about my experience as a volunteer English teacher and how I ended up living in the Valle de Elqui.