I spent about 8 months in total traveling and living in Latin America; traveled to 14 different countries - Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina were the only countries in which I spent more than 2 weeks. Uruguay was the country in which I spent the least am0unt of time...only 2 days. During the Central American part of the trip I visited all the Central American countries, save El Salvador, in only about 6 weeks. 6 weeks is not as much time as one would like, as the countries, though small, really do have distinct identities. This large distinction between the Central American countries is part of what made that part of my trip so great...the countries are small and easy to travel between, but different enough from each other to keep things interesting. Certainly the South American countries have distinct identities as well, but their sheer size makes it tougher and much more time consuming to travel between them, and as such takes some of the enjoyment out of it all.
As for my favorites...in Central America I really enjoyed Nicaragua - friendly people, beautiful scenery, safe, cheap, lots of things to do outdoors, relatively un-discovered by tourists. I would say many of the same things about Colombia, although it's not nearly as cheap nor as safe. Colombia is the one country I really want to go back to since I only spent a week there and only visited two places. I really kind of cheated myself by traveling Colombia the way I did - one week and I flew between the two sites. My one other big regret is that I never did a jungle tour to the Amazon. But, I suppose this gives me a couple of things to do in the future, and I most certainly will be traveling back to South America, hopefully sooner than later.
As well as traveling and familiarizing myself with these different countries, I had one other main objective: to learn Spanish. It has turned out to much tougher than I expected...and I know it wouldn't be easy...but I'm happy to say I did pretty well on that goal. I've learned that speaking Spanish effectively is going to be a lifelong endeavour that will require consistent effort through the years. Even after all that time I'm still far from fluent and even basic communication can be tough at times. At any rate, I was happy to have the goal of learning Spanish as that gave me something to do every day while traveling. Otherwise, I would have felt pretty bad about doing nothing but traveling for so much time.