Friday, July 17, 2009

El Fin

So, Panama City. not what one might call the most charming of cities. i have somehow managed to spend the last 5 days here. the only way to manage a feat as great as this for the average backpacker is to sleep late, watch TV and movies, read, and go to bed early. i did some shopping, which is ridiculously cheap here. i also saw the panama canal, which was pretty cool actually. we didnt get to see any ships (or even private yachts) go through, though. dont ask me how thats possible. one of the things i learned is that 14,000 vessels go through the canal every year. that means that an average of 38.3 vessels go through a day. if the canal is open 24 hours (and im not sure, but i dont think it is), that means that 1.6 vessels have to pass every hour. i was there about 2 hours and didnt see one come within eyeshot of the first set of locks on the pacific side. maybe thrusdays are slow, i dont know. so that was a little dissapointing, but the muesum was cool, and we learned about the expansion plan, which seems unnecessary considering that no ships were going though when i was there. but apparently even once its done (and they want it finished by august 15, 2015, for the centennial celebrations) it still wont be able to accomadate the worlds shipping needs.

believe it or not, that was really all i did here for the last 5 days. it has been sort of a chill expierence, just riding out the last of my trip. which means that this will be the last post (kind of anticlimactic, huh?). most of you i will see--maybe even before you get around to reading this. thats wierd to think about.

last but not least, i want to do a little experiment. this is what we are going to do. all of you who read this post (and i would assume--although you know what they say abou that--that those of you who read this post probably read most of the other ones as well), please, leave a comment. it doesnt have to say much, something like "hey, cool blog, thanks for sticking with it" or "lame ending, we want more" or "meh, it was an excuse not to study" or even "jldfjaslñdhf". it can be anonymouse or you can leave your name, either way, i dont care. im just kind of interested to see if its more than just my parents that are following.

well, thats that, thanks for sticking with me, it was a wild trip, i look forward to seeing you all soon!

dont forget to comment :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Extra! Extra! Panama Overrun by Backpackers!"*

*first off, i need you to picture the little boy on the street corner (in black and white of course) yelling "extra! extra!" holding that days paper. then the paper spins towards the camera (as it would in a movie--usually a superhero movie like old batman flicks or something--and the headline is, ovbiously, "Panama Overrun by Backpackers." you can insert whatever images you want underneith that would go with the headline. alright, if you stayed with me through that one, well done, because i barely understand what i just asked you to do, and i thought of it!

Back on topic. So Bocas Del Toro (or Mouths of the Bull) is a nice town. Except the massive amounts of backpackers--and particularly goddamn americans--the town is great. and dont get me wrong, im all for little backpacker hangouts, but when the town is this small and theres so many americans....ugghhhh. most of them are cool once you meet them, i just cant stand that accent around the hostel and on the streets. but whatever, the good comes with the bad. although the bad doesnt just stop at americans overrunning the place. it rains almost everyday here for at least an hour. its never really sunny and all i wanted was color before coming home, well, i guess not. but theres decent cheap chinese food.

so i got here right away from panama city. i hung for a day not doing much, just loving having a bed after 6 days on a boat and a night on a bus. then tim and caitlin showed up, then the germans, then the brits, and the last couple days weve had the whole crew together with the addition of another british guy who may just be a full-blown alcoholic. the man drinks beer like nobody ive seen, apart maybe from the germans, but they dont have massive beer bellies and man-boobs. anyway, the last few days have been fun, despite the unfortunate weather. yesterday we took a snorkle tour and saw some amazing coral reefs and really cool fish. really cool jelly fish too, but they stung so you had to watch out. ive really never seen any coral like this. it blows away what we saw at playa blanca. every shade of every color you can imagine in the craziest shapes and textures, absolutley amazing. we also went to bahia de los delfines--or bay of dolphines--but after the boat from colombia the dolphines here werent that impressive. then we went to red frog beach, and although we didnt see any red frogs, the beach was quite nice. massive waves, it felt like the pacific they were so big. it wasnt dangerous but they would really knock you over. it was really fun playing out there in them, and we did some good body surfing too. then it was back to town, dinner and drinking.

There is a bar in bocas that has a happy hour from 7-8pm and during that hour the beer is 50 cents. normally they are $1.25. so naturally the six of us were going to buy a round each during that hour. so we each had 6 beers in the hour, and the germans and the british guy had 9 each. and then we had a voucher for a free tequila shot, so naturally that was next. fortunatly it was after dinner so we didnt get too drunk. we then found another bar and then a club, but the clubs in this town play aweful mainstream american rap all night long. i guess its the american traveller prevelence, but i feel like im at a high school dance or something.

The germans and caitlin left this morning, and time and i wanted to go to the beach today, but when we woke up it was raining. and the weather hasnt really improved over the course of midday. so im writing a blog instead. ill be out of this town tomorrow or the next day unless there is a drastic change in weather. check out the photos too, it starts with our second trip to playa blanca, then the mud volcanoe and the historical distirct in cartagena. then the boat to panama, and then, for some reason, it jumps back to venezuela. i dont know why. but there you have it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Alright, if you havent read the post titled "To Panama", that might be worth a look before you get to this one.

first of all, the biggest things i want to note. the first day we were in the San Blas islands we had sea turtle meat for lunch. i know, its an endangered species and whatnot, but it was already dead, if we didnt eat it then someone else would have. point is, sea turtle is goooood. very tender. i dont support killing sea turtle, i support cooking it. if anyone has a chance to taste this delicacy without going to federal prison, its worth it. the sea turtle eggs are nice too, kind of potatoe-like texture. the other thing i wanted to add was that the second day on the way to the islands, when we were still at open sea, the most amazing lightning storm ive ever seen lit up the sky. as i was sitting up on the top of the boat you could watch it go across the sky. there were 3 different theaters sort of, and it would go from one to the next. bolts, flashs, the occasional booooom! it was all very exciting and kept me awake for my shift.

and just so you can get an idea of who i was on this boat with, heres a little character description for each passanger:

Caitlin--loud, likes to talk a lot, ive got good stories, i know the answer to everything and i like to argue with everything you say jeevon, american girl. she wasnt that bad, and i liked her spirit, i just think that somewhere along the way she was given a little too much praise as a kid and a little too much money drowned her purity---or something like that. she went to tulane and daddy paid without batting and eye--160,000 for four years. shes lived in barcelona, australia, and travelled europe extensivly, it was one of her favorite things to talk about: "ive probably been to paris 5 or 6 times, and everytime i love it, its just too dirty", "rome is great, and when we were living in barcelona it was like, why not go to rome for the weekend, its only gonna cost $300." not that bad, just a bit annoying over time.

Phil--pretty quite, northern british guy. i liked phil, cool guy. he works with kids that get into trouble at school. hes really into american sports and was easy to talk too, not the loud in your face brit you might picture.

Kelly--too funny. this girl complained a lot. but it was nice, it was never about anything bad, she was vomiting for 2 days and didnt say a word about the stupid ocean or damn boat or anything, what she would complain about was when phil didnt fill up a glass of water quick enough or didnt set the table right or wasnt doing the dishes properly. but that was fine, because she only complained at phil, telling him all the stuff he was doing wrong. we would sort of sit back and chuckle when she was looking the other way.

Tim--laid back, queensland aussie guy. easy to talk too, dry humour, good guy. was bunking with caitlin and something may have been going on between them. they were often alone talking, although i cant imagine he would instigate a conversation with much more than "good night, see you tomorrow," but i guess that would give her plenty to work of off.

Julian and Oliver--longer darker hair, a bit of facial hair, always wore board shorts and a hat. i only remember all this becuase oliver, his friend (and possible lover) was exactly opposite. short blonde hair, clean shaven, shorter, maybe german style swimmers, he was your classic german, and the difference between these too was sooo funny. both quite funny people, great to sit around laughing with. especially when the capitan pulled out the san blas flag, red and yellow with a reverse swastika in the middle, you should have seen the look on olivers face, he was very offended at first.

Hansel--what needs to be said for señor italiano...? he didnt really speak spanish and instead would just yell to everybody in italian, which we could sort of understand because of its similarity to spanish. it didnt help the more he drank, which was almost every night. i have a good video of him dancing to some black eyed peas song or something like that. he was hilarious to watch, dreaded-on-accident hair, he claimed to be an artesean, i suppose its possible.

Guillermo--frenchy, frenchy, frenchy, always there to help, even when its not needed. a people pleaser by nature, spoke alright english but it think he realized that he wasnt the same kind of traveller as the rest of us. i dont know what it is, but something about him was different. i liked the chats we had, but he was a little self-ritous.

Chris--quite, kept to himself, smoked more than a pack a day. poor guy was stuck sharing a room with the less than higenic hansel. not much else to say. could have been gay, along with guillermo, hansel, and oliver and julian.

that was the trip for the most part. quite fun, i did enjoy myself, i did things i would never have been able to see your do unless i took the trip. im sure when i think of other interesting things ill put up another post of additions. im in a surfer-chill-beach town called bocas del toro that right near costa rica. a few days here, a few days in a place called boquete in the mountains, and then back south to traverse the panama canal. hasta luego!

ps, photos coming soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Panama

Ok, a little preface to this story. I headed down to the docks to meet up with the french guys i had met yesterday. i had my passport just like they said. i walked out to the boat, met some of the passangers that would be taking it, and then one of the frenchmen told me it wouldnt work out, they already had the immigration papers together--without my passport info. but they introduced me to another capitan--at least his girlfriend. she said they were leaving that day at 3pm i needed to tell her if i wanted to go within the hour and told me the services and the cost. That is where our story begins.

List of Passangers:*

Caitlin--american, smoker, travelling alone, speaks a bit of spanish
Phil--brit, smoker, going out with Kelly
Kelly--brit, non-smoker, going out with Phil
Tim--aussi, smoker travelling alone
Julian--german, smoker, travelling with Oliver, speaks a bit of spanish
Oliver--german, non-smoker, travelling with Julian
Hansel (Señor Italiano)--italian, smoker, only speaks italian, a little spanish
Guillermo (Frenchy)--french, non-smoker, speaks spanish, a bit of english
Chris--austrian, smoker, travelling alone

*study this list well, grasshoppa, for i will use names only--for the most part--from now on.

Day 1, July 1st--Cartagena
The price is $350, it includes 3 meals a day, water, snorkling equiptment. i was planning on paying $150 no food included (fine, there was a kitchen). big difference. i told the woman id be back in 40 minutes with my decision, went to the internet to check bank balances, emails and the such. then got the MCI calling card number for colombia, found a payphone, ready to call home for advice. no, why would the payphone work, even when i put money in it to call regular (sans calling card) it didnt work. i was asked to walk away after slamming the earpiece part into the rest of the phone a couple of times. the next 10 minutes consisted of a lot of pasing back and forth, talking to myself under my breath, and mental math. i decided i go for it. found the woman, told her i was in. she said be back before 2 for immigration and have the money and whatever you want to bring on the journey. i came back at noon and left my bags on the boat, bought some snacks (fruit, soda, cereal and beer) and hung out on the internet until everyone met up and took taxis (included in the price) to immigration. things went slowly but smoothly and soon we were all stamped out of colombia. back to the boat. 2 hours later we are still sitting waiting for some paper. an hour later we have been filled up with gas and have been turning in circles waiting for the paper. it finally comes, and were off. capitan says leave any drugs here, were in cocaine alley in cartagena and coast guard will be on to search the boat--with dogs. señor italiano, nicknamed by the capitan, was upset but chucked his weed into the sea--he only had a little bit. i told him to wait and see if the coast guard came with dogs, as ive never heard of that happening, and throw it last minute if they did. not only did they not have dogs, but somehow they just missed us completely, we were never searched.

as we get out of the harbour and bay, seas get rough. kelly is now in the back throwing up and phil is holding her hair, offering water. the rest of us are pretty focused on the horizon line--or anything not moving, but only phil and kelly vomit that night. the sails are down and the motor is on, autopilot engaged. the capitan says we have to make a list and each have a watch of one hour to make sure no other boats come too close. over dinner (just cold cut sandwiches tonight) we make the list. i have 12-2 because kelly cant work and hansel doesnt want to. hes puking too, but it may be the aguaiante--anise flavord colombian liquer--he was drinking. asleep at 2 with the help of some pills, not too much sea sickness, just a bit of a headache and a topsy-turvy stomach that night.

Day 2, July 2nd--open sea
We are up bright and early, nobody got to much sleep and the boat is still rocking, literally being tossed around by the open sea. although scarier at night, were still breaking through 2-3 meter swells. but after yesterday, most of us--not kelly--are used to it and not too affected. its 30 hours from cartagena to the san blas islands, we are scheduled to arrive at 6am or so the next morning, so not much happens today. for much of the first 2 days i was talking to guillermo--or frenchy, nicknamed by the other passangers--in spanish about this and that. i liked him, and he was eager to help the capitan, which was good, cause he needed a hand. but a little too eager. he was sort of seen as the capitans bitch, and a slight rift was formed between him and hansel, and the rest of the passanger, with me standing somewhere on the fence, so to speak. tonight dinner is cup of noodles and i have the 1-2 watch since we gave kelly her watch early, when everyone else was watching as well.

Day 3, July 3rd--San Blas Islands
When i get up at 7 or so the sea is calm and we are drifting through chains of islands large and small. as we coast past these gorgeous islands all we can do is laugh and smile at how beautiful they are and how not-seasick we (but espeically kelly) are. its just fun. some have only a palm tree or two, others have little huts and people, although most of the 375 san blas islands are unihabitated. only 75 have official villages. we drop anchor just off of one of the islands. the water is bright blue, the sand white; its what you picture when you think carribbean island. good snorkling with a cool reef and lots of fish, but the sand flies were angry when we got to the beach and after about 15 minutes phil´s back was covered in big, angry sand fly bites. locals came up trying to sell us bracelets and cushion covers. no luck there. i dont remember what was for lunch, probably sandwiches, but hansel made dinner which was basic, just pasta with a marinera sauce, but tastey. as dinner is being cooked, guillermo, julian and kelly are all fishing. in about 20 minutes they have brought up 6 fish between them. shrieks of joy and excitement can be heard, even from the german, a usually stern people. after dinner the scaling and gutting of the fishes begins, and at that point all that can be heard is hijo de puta, la puta madre, oh fuck!, sonofabith, and the occasional laugh. but all the fish are cleaned and put in plastic in the fridge. it gets later and people drop off to bed or stay up reading, although the air stays energized with the days sucesses.

Day 4, July 4th--San Blas Islands
We cruise up to another island in the morning, dropping anchor near a few other boats. caitlin and i are keeping an eye out for an american boat--i want fireworks, she wants a blender, and thus a blended drink. dugout canoes come up to the side of the boat and finally one paddles up with some lobster in the bottom. capitan traded some rice and a few dollars for them. we had a delicous late lunch of lobster with a veggie rice. seconds all around, except for caitlin who doesnt like seafood and only eats the rice. during/after lunch there is a bit of a argument and some intense moments when the germans want to buy weed and the frenchy starts barting with the sellers, eventually sending them away because of the price, with semi-harsh words exchanged on both sides. they come back later and phil takes care of the whole ordeal, although guillermo is ready to help, but accepts that phil can handle it.

Capitan, hansel and guillermo head in the dinghy to the shore to hang out with some locals the Cap knows. the rest of us bathe in the sun, go snorkling or just read. they come back a bit after dark, and although lunch was late, we are hungry, at least the 4 or 5 of us that are still awake are. its quite amazing how after resting in the sun all day one can find oneself yawning at 8pm. what i comes down to is the capitan is asleep on the counter of the kitchen--really stoned or kinda drunk--when i decide to make something to eat. i get a pot to put water on for more cup of noodles. he wakes up, asks what im doing, i tell him, he acts suprised, saying, "oh, you dont want lobster, perfect." apparently he had got more lobster earlier. whatever, it just meant we had it for lunch again the next day.

Day 5, July 5th--San Blas Islands
Today we move early to another island. the capitan is on it today. hes cooking lobster when a couple guys rock up with a massive fish in the canoe. i mean massive. my pictures dont do it justice, but the thing was big. the first few swings at it with a machete didnt break the skin--i mean a big m***er f***er. so he gets that instead. finished lobsters go in the fridge for dinner, he goes to the island to cook the fish. we feasted that day. massive bowl of coconut rice, massive portions of fish, massive salad. it was good. and after we walked around the island a little bit and we may have found the most beautiful beach that exists. im not sure, either way, it was the nicest beach any of us had ever seen, and we were the only ones there. amazing. again, pictures dont do it justice. we head back a few hours later to calls from an angry capitan. the anchor was up and he was tooling around waiting for us. i guess we had somewhere to go. we make it to the boat and he heades off at a good clip to panamanian immigration. if your there after 4pm, he has to pay twice as much, but we made it by 5 minutes, phew!

we cruise around some more, find another island, this one doesnt have beaches but a full on town instead, and some of the guys head in to get beer. i pack up because we have to be ready at 7am the following morning. they get back, we have dinner (you guessed it, lobster! this time in a marinera sauce over spaghetti). people drift in and out of reading, chilling, smoking. finally there are 4 of us on the roof at 11 30 or so. it was caitlin, tim, julian and i. were sitting around, shooting the bull, when all of a sudden it feels like an M80 just went off under the water, and then like there something hitting and rubbing up against the boat. then it stops. this all took a few seconds to happen, and towards the end of it caitlin and i (who are sitting across from each other) but turn and look at each other and say, at exactly the same time, thats an earthquake. half a second later all the animals (dogs and cats mostly, dont get excited no monkeys this time) all start making their respective noises, bark! meowww! get the picture. then lights come one and people start yelling. not a scared yelling, but an excited yelling. at this point tim and caitlin and julian are all saying excited things--its their first earthquake. i fake and say it mine too, not wanting to ruin the excited atmosphere by admitting that when it comes to earthquakes, im more than a little expierenced. at this point im waiting for the tidal wave, but it never comes, thank goddness. nobody on the boat woke up, and were all suprised to hear about it the next morning.

Day 6, July 6th--Panama
Up at 6:30, bags already packed, we are on the boat to the mainland at 7, in the jeeps to take us to panama city by 8. guillermo stays behind, electing to help the capitan clean up the boat. a generous gesture, but not one that helped get rid of the "capitans bitch" title he picked up the past few days. anyway, water under the bridge. the first half of the ride to panama city was bumpy and it was obvious as to why we had a 4X4. it was amazing cruising through the darien jungle and then all of a sudden come across a paved road and take that the rest of the way. i got dropped at the bus station for my bus to a surf-chill beach town which leaves in a few hours. internet is almost out, so i gotta fly. the boat from colombia sure was amazing though, and the food...ohhh...worth the extra money.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


im off in a few hours for a 6 day sail to panama, so no posts. i know, its tough, but stiffen up that upper lip, shed no tears for me--or my blog--for i will be back, (picture terminator for this one:) I´ll be back--in 6 days.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Estoy Solito

So first of all, i forgot one little thing about playa blanca. one day there was a big local fisherman-beach party kind of thing, for the local people on their end of the beach, not the tourists on our end. i walked down to check it out and it was a pretty cool scene, music blasting, people dancing; overall it seemed to be an enjoyable expierence. a hour or so later im reading and people start running past where we were posted up, locals and a few gringos who quickly duck into the saftey of hugos place. apparently there was a bit of a fight down there with some guys that came from another town, and they must have run our direction because it kept up. a couple guys with big sticks were beating the crap out of some other guy. people were all gathered around sort of yelling and doing this and that--kind of a mob scene--until someone fires a shot. it turns out it was a cop and he shot up in the air. it had the desired effect and people seemed to disperse. at this point we were all huddled in and around hugos watching from about 30 meters off and a couple guys come towards us half-carrying their friend with blood all over his shirt. this is apparently how the fight started--or at least why one guy was beaten about the head with sticks. some guy from one place stabbed some guy from another place in the shoulder, the beating commenced, the crowd gathered, the shot fired, the bleeding continued, the people dispersed, the gringos went back to reading and playing cards and the tourist boats left. at least something to that extent.

hannah left for bogota yesterday morning. our last couple days were spent checking out the sights (always more sights) of cartagena. she took about a thousand pictures, and im not kidding, i think the total was something close to 935 for the trip. had a couple nights out at a cool bar that played a little too much salsa but did a couple michael jackson songs when we asked, and a kid jumped up on the bar and danced as similar to michael as almost anyone ive ever seen. hannah has video. we ate dinner in a fancy-ish resturant overlooking a plaza, and went out later and found some americans and an israeli. we went into the club with them (the one that played MJ) and danced around till almost 4, at which point we walked around town till past 5, went back to the hostel and hannah got her taxi to the bus station for her bus to bogota to catch her plane. i finally got to bed, slept the next day, moved into a room with 3 norweigan girls who are leaving tomorrow (yes! room to myself) and then 2 isrealis showed up...hoo-ray! which is fine, it just means i dont get the room to myself.

i walked down to the docks today to put up a notice that i want to go to panama when a guy appoached me and asked if i wanted to go to panama. i said yes he said come look at my boat, i want to leave in the next couple days. he ownes it with his 2 friends--the 3 of them french. sounds like they already have a passanger list of 7, i make 8, they make 11, should be a fun trip. i have to bring my passport by tomorrow and hopefully we´ll be off the next day. less than 3 weeks left, thats a trip in itself.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Broken Sunnnys

Well, as i mentioned in the final sentence of my last post, we have been on an island for a few days. its really not that exciting, but ill give you some details anyway.

we wanted to go to a place called Isla Rosario because we hadnt been there before and the only other beautiful beach was Playa Blanca, where we have already been. well the boat took us to the island in the chain of Islas Rosarios (there are 27) that has no accomodation and no beaches--just an aquarium. i dont know why you would want to pay to go into a aquarium on a gorgeous carribbean island, but apparently there is some motivator because it there was a long line of people waiting to get in. we hung out and dived off the dock till the boat left for...playa blanca!! were back!! what could be better?!

whatever, one white sand/crystal water beach is the same as another. so we get set up at "hugos place", the most established place to stay on the island. he had electicity and music at night powered from a generator. little did we know the man is wierdo. the first couple days were brilliant, a few colombian guys were there buying rum and whisky for what seemed like the whole beach. they left and we had a couple nights of relaxation and then a group of brits/aussies/kiwies showed up. another night of partying and home the next day.

i cant really explain in writing the way hugo behaved toward me, but he really didnt like, i guess. he had some stupid rules--like your bag had to be put up in the rafters all the time to keep the place organized. i wasnt allowed to leave my bag under my hammock. f that. so we didnt exactly hit it off. we also never ate dinner or lunch at hugos because his food was expensive and had smaller portions. he asked my why we didnt eat there and i told him it was cheaper and better for vegetarians (hannah, so essentially me as well) and he said something rude to me. it really escalated when he shut off the electicity without warning--whatever, his generator, his fuel, fine--but when we asked for a candle he said there werent any. the night before there were five all around. i told him this and he told me i could buy one from him and i said no, we didnt pay last night, were not paying tonight, that group (the brits) has candles why cant we. he told me i would spend money on snorkling and an exciting intertube ride but not candles and that was my problem; he walked away. i laughed and got my headlamp and we finished the game with that. i dont remember what sparked the confrontation the next day but it involved hugo telling me i was disorganized (my backpack under my hammock instead of out-of-reach in the rafters) and i was ruining everyone else´s time there. i then asked the woman working in the kitchen for napkins--we were eating and i wanted to clean up the table--he saw me walk out of kitchen with a handful, grabbed them from my hands yelled something i told him i asked and the woman gave them to me we were eating and it was messy. he told me i was the cause of all the problems and i wasnt a good person and people like me arnt welcome anymore at his house. i went back into the kitchen and apologized to the woman he yelled at for helping me, packed our stuff, paid, said thank you hugo, and bid that place adieu.

back in cartagena for the next 3 nights, the hopefully ill be on a boat to panama, keep your fingers crossed, and hannah will be heading back to bogota. we havent had any big nights out here yet so tonight and/or tomorrow should be good.

about the title, my sunglasses broke on the beach, one of the lenses popped out and got lost in the sand. i found it the last day but at that point the frame was lost. gosh darn it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Corruption and Smuggling

I took a bus to the bus station and found a guy who was driving a shared taxi to colombia. i had enough money for the taxi and nothing else, cutting it pretty close. after about half an hour of waiting he got a few more people and we all piled into the car. sweet sweet car. it was an old chevy malibu classic painted metallic blue with relfective blue tint on the windows, blue seats and street-racing style gauges (also blue) by the blue dash. it was--as they say--pimpin´. So off we go, and i have to say, i did feel safer being in this boat of a car rather than the little tiny hatchback we came in. the woman sitting next to me had a box with her with holes in it. it turned out she had 2 parrots in the box, one adult and one baby. i dont think your supposed to smuggle parrots from venezuela to colombia, but the driver didnt really seem to care. this woman--what was she thinking?--also didnt have identification with her. so everytime we stopped at the 5 or 6 checkpoints on the way to the border and the police asked to see our IDs she would slip the driver anywhere from $5 to $10 (in local currancy, converted to ease reading) to give to the cop, who would shake his hand let us go. she probably spent more on the bribes than the ride itself cost. at one point we were all made to get out of the car and pay about $15 to leave the country. i didnt have $15 so we got back in the car and kept going. when i got out to have my passport stamped the guy told me i had to pay so i went back to the car told the driver. we got into an argument that involved me saying i didnt have money, they didnt take cards, there was no ATM. he didnt seem to care. finally the woman with the birds gave me the money and i told her i would pay her back when we got to colombia. i paid got stamped out, stamped in to colombia (after a bit of an interogation about where ive been, how long i was here, if ive been sick--it had to do with swine flu). ive never been more realieved. just being out of venezuela where you never know what your gonna have to pay to do this or that or what the police will make you do. its like when you go through customs at the airport, maybe you have some trouble with nail clippers or something, you think your gonna miss your flight, you finally make through only to have more trouble at the ticketing counter, and then somehow you just end up on the plane at the last minute...that immense feeling of relief, thats what i felt.

so we got to the border town, i bought my ticket to cartagena (they say 8 hours, dont believe them, it was closer to 10) got lunch and was on my back to what i considered "home" at that point. 10 or so hours later found myself at the hostel, went to meet up with hannah at another hostel and who do i see sitting with her...? tatiana, a friend from taganga who we hadnt seen in a week or so, what luck. the 3 of us have been hanging out for the last few days. yesterday we went to a "mud volcanoe." you clime up the 30 stairs or so to the top of a big mound of dirt and inside is a 10´ by 10´ (more or less) area filled with mud that they say goes 2300 meters down into the earth. the mud is the perfect density--so you can sit in it and you dont sink, it comes up to your chest more or less. you can lie on your back or stomach and you dont sink, its wild. the pictures are great, i dont know when they´ll go up, it might be a while, but theyre cool. and afterwards you rinse off in a lagoon, which was only a little bit disgusting. it smelled terrible and the water was green with alge, im waiting for one of the 5 of us that went to end up with an infection.

tomorrow we are headed out to an island to chill our for a while, so if theres no post for a few days and nobody recieves emails, im not dead, im just lying on a beach.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hotel Vicoria

The interesting looking girl with the puppy started talking to me, asked me where i was from. i told her the US and immediatley realized i should probably stick with canada from now on. she was cool, told me her lifes story, has no place to live in maraciabo now, her friends sort of bailed on her, she doesnt pick the right guys, the dog was a gift from a friend so she wouldnt get lonley and it cost something like $150. wow. she was heading home to her parents and brother, sort of invited me along and i almost went but couldnt quite bring myself to do it. she asked me who i was visiting in maraciabo, i told her i didnt know anybody, she asked me why i would come here then. it wasnt promising. we chatted until her bus had to leave and i then walked across the road to some hotels. the first too said no rooms available. i asked the third how much he said how long i said a night. he didnt get it so i told him i needed it until the next morning, he said, "oh, 24 hours, that will be $60." (i translated the currancy for you.) i told him thats ok, tried the next one same thing. lovely. so i took an overpriced taxi to the cheapest hotel in the guide book--Hotel Victoria. it ended up being $20 a night for a dark room with no running water and one bed and a TV with a few cable station. porn was playing when i walked in, and i found out that there is a station that plays pornography 24 hours a day. how nice.

i slept in to the afternoon and then walked around a bit. during the day i was a bit worried, i dont think i would have made it to the front door if i had tried the night before. people yell at you, where you from, give me money. canada canada no no perdon. i got used to saying that. the streets were terrible, trash everywhere, dirty broken down buildings. homeless crackhead-looking people. then i came around a corner to find plaza bolivar. (simon bolivar liberated much of south america from spain the 1800s. the venezuelan currancy is the bolivar, bolivia is named for him, and almost every city in almost every country has a plaza bolivar.) chavez is obsessed with the man. the plaza in his name was gorgeous, plush green grass, big statues, fountains, it was beautiful. across the street people are collecting bottles to turn in for change, selling pencils and begging for anything. the streets are trashed, the buildings run down. makes me question government spending.

i was a bit concerned walking around only because i had my camera and card on me. after i dropped those off at the hotel and went back out i felt much more secure. the street food was fabulous. and cheap, best part of venezuela. i went back to the hotel and went up on the roof when it got dark. maraciabo has unexplained lighting storms almost every night. i tried to get pictures of it, but my timing was always off by a few seconds, a good show though. i went to bed after watching the first scene in kill bill in spanish. alarm set for 7am, excited as hell to get out of venezuela and back to colombia.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Forget Bolivia, the Death Road Runs Through Venezuela

We´re up early on saturday morning. I headed over to get us checked out and pay, and by 10 or so we were on our way out of Taganga. we got to the bus terminal in santa marta, hannah found a bus to cartagena, i found one to Maicao, the lawless colombian border town. we parted ways. i bumped into the 2 swiss girls we keep seeing everywhere, they were going to Maraciabo as well, but on a direct bus. the bus leaves a half our late, but we got to maicao before dark (very important according to the guide book). a man said to me ¨maraciabo¨ and i said yes. he put my pack in the back of a junky old car, i was a bit unnerved told him i wanted to eat and took my bag back. he walked me to the bakery (across the street) ate something with me, got into an argument with a guy behind me and walked back to the car. at that point he had someone else going to maraciabo, power in numbers, i wasnt going to be robbed and killed alone. 20 minutes later we had 2 other passengers and were under way.

the border is 13 km away from maicao. we get there, i get out, get my passport stamped (im running because im the only westerner in the car, the others dont need stamps and regular border formalities) and a nurse calls me over, asks about where ive been, have i been sick, something about the swine flu. i tell her im fine, ive been everyhwere in south ameica, no problems. back in the car we drive 10 minutes its time for venezuelan border formalities. i get out, talk to the guy, he says i need a form filled out, theres a woman sitting next to the window filling out forms (how convienent). she takes my passport, fills out the form that normally the traveller fills out, expects a tip. i give her some colombian pesos. i dont know if this is Chavez´s way of employing the people, but i can think of some better ones. form stamped, passport stamped, im in venezuela. the road immediatly changes, turns to shit. pot holes are the norm, not paved road but this doesnt stop people from driving fast and swerving not to break an axel. in the first 30 minutes we go through 3 or 4 police check points, marked by empty cans of food filled with gasoline and lit on fire. no problems, everyones in order. the road stays terrrible, its the same road that was in colombia, but on this side it looks like bombs have been dropped every 100 meters or so (Chavez, this is how you can employ your people, fix your roads). its night time now, all the other cars are worse than our old chevy hatchback. there´ll all american (only on the venezuelan side) cars. most look like they´re from the 80´s big old chevys and fords, picture the cop cars that chase the jake and elwwod blues in the end of the blues brothers. they are all falling apart, all bent up, have been in many accidents. my car (an 82 VW rabbit) would look like a lexus driving through these parts. most of the cars dont have working headlights or tailights, and the headlights that do work have the brightness of parking lights they dont do much. our car has good brakes they get testing whenever one of the pieces of american junk pulls out and cant speed up fast enough or slows down without brake lights. the woman sitting next to me cant help but to let out little screams and grab the seats everytime we are nearly in a crash. i cant really blame her. the man on her right is talking or smoking cigarettes most of the time, i dont know who hes talking to, the woman sometimes responds the driver sometimes responds, sometimes no one responds but that doesnt deter him. the woman in the front seat is going back and forth between texting, sleeping, and showing her ID at the necessary times. i dont know how she could sleep shes sitting in the death seat and will be the first and most likely to go if we go off the road. the closer we get to maraciabo the more cars that have working headlights. the road is still bad and people still swerve and veer and pass, but now we can see them coming, most of the time we can see them coming. occasionally 3 or 4 headlights will be seen coming towards us and the driver leans forward squinting trying to see out the windsheild. at the last second we usually swerve to the right to allow some motorcycle to get by us without being crushed. now we are quite close to maraciabo, the road gets better, the police checkpoints have lights and buildings and gates instead of burning gasoline. during on stretch of road we have steet lights. we start to get into the city limits no more checkpoints just more cars better roads more buildings, civilization. we pass a chevy dealership, a nissan dealership, another chevy one. theres not a shortage of chevys on the road, some are even new and look like they were bought recently at the dealership but i dont see one nissan. sometimes theres a fiat or hyundai no nissan. we pass an expensive looking shopping center with a drive through bank and a mcdonalds. we pass a TGI fridays next to it, something ive seen only in the rich neighboorhood of Buenos Aires before this. we pass a wendys. almost all the cars would be US-street legal now. we get to the bus station, ive never been happier to be out of a car. i wander the bus station its hot i get 2 empandadas and an apple juice. they dont have beer. i sit in the waiting room its past 10 pm. the book says the hotel at which im planning to say is in a part of town not safe at night. i only have $50 worth of venezuelan currancy and with the offical (atm) exchange rate i dont want to get more. i decide not to go tonight. after reading and eating in the 24 hour air conditioned bus station waiting room i take a natural ¨sleep aid¨, lie down on the seats and sleep an uncomfortable 5 hours. at 5 am a cop wakes me (and everyone else sleeping) up. i pick up my book, start to read. a girl with bright clothes, red hair and colorful tatoos sits next to me. she has a puppy with her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Playas Hermosas

For starters, theres some older news just below this post, you might want to start with that, not that im trying to tell you how to read this blog.

It should be noted that Cartagena is hot. really hot. hotter than anywhere ive been in a long time. it wouldnt be all that bad but the humitidy adds 10-15 degrees on to what the sun already provides, which usually hovers around 90-95. lovely. that being said, playa blanca was an excellent get-a-way from the city heat. a bit of a mission to get there (we took a local bus that could have come straight from austin powers´ life in 1969, a hand-paddle canoe across a river and then a 25 minute moter-bike ride during which i was convinced of iniment death on half a dosen occasions), but when we arrived we knew it was worth the effort. you can look at my pictures (i just uploaded an album, move your eyes left) but they dont do it justice. it really was white sand, bright blue water, thatched huts over resturants with no running water or electricty. the water was almost two warm, but the wind blew all day and kept us cool. we slept in tents provided for us on the beach, ate fish, coconut and fruit, and did nothing for 3 days. although we were all getting a little stir crazy the last morning before we went back, like "give me a shower right now, i dont even care, i swam in ocean but my hair is a day away from dread, give me a shower!". another couple nights in cartagena and we were off to taganga.

that was an adventure too. got on our bus, which was a piece of poop. most of the seats were broken, it was dirty, the lights didnt work (so we looked a little silly using our headlamps to read on a bus during the day, but hey, the windows were tinted) and the air conditioning would go on and off randomly, making the bus too hot and then too cold. we were asked to change to another bus halfway to our destination, which was empty, and were then asked to change again. the bus we changed to was FULL. were were the last two seats in the back of the bus, with some a-hole in front of hannah making sure his seat was as back as far as it could so he could sleep. then a cockroach is discovered by hannah to be crawing around on the floor, although i can neither confirm nor deny, as i never saw it. not a big deal if your not deathly terrified of bugs (hannah, not me). we started by putting our feet up on our seats as to avoid it crawling up our legs, but after another siting (again by hannah) she had to move to the front to get away from it. okay with me, it just meant i had a bit more room. we finally made, found out our hostel was full, and found another one, which ended up just being some guys house which had 2 rooms, one with 3 bunk beds and one with a double. it was cheap, but there was nobody else staying there. fortunatly we ran into one of our friends from medellin and partied with him and about 20 other brits at the poshest hostel in town.

the last two days have been spent at Parque Nacional Tyrona, which is the colombian-famous national park where everybody goes. you can do the 6 day lost city trek but its quite pricey, and after peru i think ive filled my ruins quota for a few years. so we took the bus out and walked to the coast, which is quite specacular (again see photos, but remember it was nicer in person than what they portray) rainforest coming all the way down to the ocean. one downside i suppose is that we didnt get much sun, which made the beach side of things a bit less exciting, but felt fitting with all the rainforest we were surrounded by. two nights there was enough, and after getting back to taganga i ate a hamburger (something i had been craving for a few days) and we went out with a group of worldly (holland, germany, NZ, US, scottish, british) travellers from our hostel.

i think one more night will be good here, and then i think ill head over to venezuela for a few days and hannah will probably go to cartagena, where i will meet here after the weekend. but planes change, so we´ll see. oh, big news, bought my plane ticket just now. im home the night of july 18, for those of you who are reading and might be effected in some way by my return (apart, of course, from not getting to read this fantastic blog). so ill see you all in 5 weeks or so, and ill try to start posting a little more regularly. buena suerte!

Older stuff

Alright, im sort of making this blog post about stuff i have been forgetting to mention, thats not really that important, but kinda funny. so read this if you want, or skip it and you wont miss much news.

To start off, back in exensive medellin we were having trouble with food. we ate so much pizza in bogota for so cheap at one place that the guys started to get to know us and would bring hannah her vegetarian slice before we said anything. (hannah is vegetarian, which limits our eating options to an extent which is difficult to imagine for people that have not been to south america). so in medellin pizza is about 3 times as much, which is out of our price range to say the least. fortunatly there is in an Exito, which is bolivias largest chain of supermakets, near by. picture something like a wal-mart/k-mart/fred myers/target. two floors, selling food, clothes, TVs, cell phones, beds, plankets, prepared food, deli food, they sold chairs and tables, tents and cutlery, the list goes one. outside exito are many little fast food places (two of which, horribly enough, are dunkin donuts and mcdonalds) but the others sell things like ice cream, baked goods, burgers, this and that. we found one that sold empanadas. for those of you who dont know, and empanada is a round piece of dough folded into a half mood with either cheese, cheese and ham, meat, chicken, potaotes, rice or corn inside, and then deep fried. the ones they had here were cheese, ham and cheese, and hawaian. they were cheap and they had fountain soda (also a rarity). we probably ate at this place 5 times, and after the first few, the woman (it was the same woman working no matter what time of day, weekend or weekday, she was always there) also began to know us. she would smile and laugh when we walked up, give hannah her 2 cheese empanadas and a diet coke from the fountain, and i would get my 2 hawaian and 1 ham and cheese, or 2 ham and cheese and 1 hawaian, and a grape soda, also from the fountain. grape soda (unusual anywhere in south america, in any form) coming from a fountain at this fast food empanada shop gave me such a shock i may have let out a bit of an excited yell, attracting strange stares from the locals around us, and causing hannah to step back and make sure i was feeling ok.

one night we felt like pasta (also in medellin, also from exito) but couldnt be bothered to make pasta and a sauce, and i spotted kraft, yes! but next to the kraft is a colombian knock-off brand that is a little cheaper and held a little more. cool. let me tell you this, dont ever eat Señora Muñeca intant mac and cheese. just dont. it was one of the worst meals i have had in south america. just bad. we finished it, but it was bad. stick with the "quality" of kraft.

ok, i sort of have other wierd food stories, but to descibe them so that it would be like it was when we were eating would be difficult, take up my time (and money), and probably be a bit boring to read, so ill cut the crap and start a new blog post (above) with real stories.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


sorry ya´ll, a post is coming about the beautiful playa blanca and some stuff i forgot about medellin. but it would be a shame to write without pictures to back me up, and i forgot my camera, so tomorrow you´ll get photos and words, consider it a 2 for 1 deal, and no, you dont have to thank me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mi Amor Cartagena

So to wrap up Medellin, lets see. we went to the water park, which was a bit more difficult to get to than expected. the hostel owner said, "take the train to the end of the line, hop on a bus marked "copacabana" and you´re there." nay. copacabana is a town from which you must walk to the highway and take the bus that says "barbosa," not "copacabana." it was more expensive. but the water park was only $4 and we had the whole day to run around with thong-bikini (i dont know who is raising these girls and letting them wear what they were) 12 year olds. the park was pretty good actually, apart from the fact that they didnt have enough staff to have every slide open, so they rotated 2 at a time, and ever hour or so would open up a new slide and close a different one. but it was good fun, and something nice to do with our day.

That night we had a pretty big night out, spent a little too much money getting into a club, but i was having enough fun that i got up on stage. let me say this, it was cops and robbers theme, so you had scantily clad hookers dressed as cops dancing dirtily to reggaeton, the macaraina, and the occasional american rap song. there were some regular guys and girls up there with them, and when i went up there with some girl i got a pair of black and white stiped "robber" pants, which i still have, and which i plan on keeping. anyway, overall, a pretty good night, considering everyone else that when out elsewhere didnt have that much fun--we found the right place.

Off the next night to Cartagena, we arrived in the morning to the most expensive hostel in the city, stayed a night, enjoyed the pool and terrace they had, and found a cheaper hostel called Casa Vienna. yes, the owner is austrian. we have been to the beach twice, despite that it is a 15- 20 block walk from here, and have stolled in the old town, which should be called the ghetto. its pretty rough. everywhere you go people are offering you all kinds of drugs at all hours of the day, and although nobody has asked us for money, there are some really poor people around. lets call it colorful, which is descriptive because of the colorful buildings and the people hanging around them. ill put some pictures up sooner or later.

Tomorrow morning we are off to a place called Playa Blanca, which is a true carribbean style beach, something the city lacks. its supposed to be quite cheap to stay out there, so we might be sleeping in hammocks on the beach for a few days. i would be suprised if there is internet--its on a beach--so dont be shocked if you dont here from me via email, facebook or blog for a couple days. im not dead, im probably passed out on a beautiful (safe) beach--not to worry.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Senor Escobar

So we didnt make it Villa de Lueyva, which is really just a tourist attraction for its fields of magic mushrooms, and instead skipped straight off to Medellin. the climate here is wonderful, not too hot during the day, and you can wear shorts and t-shirts all night long. although we havent accomplished much here apart from making friends with south africans, brits, kiwis, aussies, yanks, israelis, french and argentinian people, we did make it to pablo escobars grave. its meant to be a bit of a tourist attraction, although it is just a grave. it was quite interesting that it was located as close to the church as a grave could be, and nice that the entire escobar family was near each other. i was hoping we would see little bags of cocaine that people would have left to honor the king, but no such luck. i suppose if you have bags of coke then your not just leaving them lying around in a cementary.

we were going to head off to see his house turned muesum/zoo today, but its 4 hours out of town, quite expensive and we didnt wake up in time, so instead tomorrow we are going to go to a water park. i know, it makes perfect sense. it has been nice to be speaking a bit more spanish with the argentinians, its good practice. we also have a terrifying man sleeping under me (the bunk below) and next to hannah who tosses and turns very violently, and snors like a motherf***er. its interesting, hes in colombia, staying at a party hostel, and yet all day hes on his computer and he goes to bed early every night, making it all the more stressfull trying to get into plastic covered beds (thus quite loud) without waking anybody (especially him) up.

we´ll be heading up to the coast on saturday, where we´ll snorkle (and hopefully surf) and relax on the beach and take pictures of fish. i have tested out my camera in the pool here, and it seems to do quite well underwater, so all should be good. hope this wasnt a complete waste of your time, ill write about our cultural trip to the waterpark soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

La Catedral de Sal

Alright, hannah arrived safe and sound on monday night. tuesday we walked around the city a bit and went to the gold muesum, which is meant to be one of the best displays of gold in the world, and i can understand why. room after room was filled with pre-incan to post-colonial spanish gold. it was really quite amazing, if not a bit monotonous. gold is like sunsets, you´ve seen one piece, you´ve seen them all--more or less. we live in a nice part of town, right near two universitys, which means walking down the street you see all walks of life--hippies, headbangers, hipsters, you name it--there are some nice plaza areas, and a lot of chic resturants and bars. not much else to say about that, except that everybody here seems to know somebody who has been held up walking home, but ive been in some pretty rough places throughout south america and i havent been robbed yet, and im not starting now, so put your fears to rest blog readers.

yesterday we headed out to a town about 2 hours outside of bogota with 2 aussie guys and a brit. in this town there is the catedral de sal, or salt cathedral. its a massive underground tribute to jesus and shows the 14 steps of jesus being nailed to the cross, starting with him doing something like carrying the cross (i dont quite remember) and ending with him being nailed to the cross. since it was all underground the average shutter speed of my camera was 1/4 of a second, and thus the pictures are not what one would call "good." but you get the idea by looking at them what kind of work people did to carve out massive caves and caverns out of pure rock. we then saw a bad animated 3D short in spanish, and then headed back up. it was quite amazing, and, according to them, the largest tourist attraction in colombia, but lets leave that open for debate.

theres a cable car that goes up to a church at the top of the hill over the city that we might check out today, but its quite expensive, and we have tickets to see some world-famous Dj playing on the 30th story of an empty hotel on friday, and i think the views would be similar. so thats that for now. maybe on saturday we´ll head out, to a place called villa de lueyva or to medellin, we´ll see.

oh, the photos will go up soon, so hold your horses.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So ive been sick the 4 days ive been in bogota, but i put up some new photos. more when i can get off the couch and actually see some of this city.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Almost Perfect Journey: From La Paz to Bogota

First off you can have my intinerary (or whatever it would be, you'll read below...),

La Paz to Lima $50, 27 hours
Lima to Mancora $30, 18 hours
Mancora to Guayaquil $13, 8 hours
Guayaquil to Tulcan $20, 15 hours
Ipiales to Cali $13, 10.5 hours
Cali to Bogota $20, 13.5 hours

Brings us to a total of $146 and 92 hours of actually sitting on a bus. the distance between the two cities (as the bird flys or by road im not sure) is 1508 miles.

So i decided to get a bus direct from la paz to lima peru. i could have probably saved a little if i had gone to lake titicaca first, then switched buses for the ride to lima, but i wasnt feeling well in la paz and took the easy way out. I ended up having to change buses in the peruvian lake town anyway, which was annoying, considering thats what i was trying to avoid. no matter. a total of 27 hours later i was in lima, and the ride wasnt so bad, they fed us--pathetically small amounts of food, but what do you expect?--and the seats were good enough to sleep in (with the help of a little diazepam). upon arriving lima i found the bus to mancora, the northern peruvian laid back beach town i was going to rest in and had lunch while i waited the few hours for it to leave.

Same thing to mancora, easy ride, comfy seats, not much food. when i arrived in the morning i found the hostel i stayed at the last time i was there, right on the beach. all did for the 24 hours i was there was drink juice on the beach, eat amazing cheap seafood, and sleep on a bed. next morning was off to ecuador, which was fine, except the bus wasnt air conditioned and thus very hot. we arrived in a big dirty nasty city in ecuador called Guayaquil. i found a bus from there to the town on the colombian border meant to leave in 20 minutes. perfect...or so it would seem. nobody seemed to know from what area this bus departed, but i was pointed in a direction and after asking a few people i found a bus that could be it. i showed the driver my ticked and asked if the bus was going to Tulcan. he looked at the ticket (in low light) and said "yeah yeah yeah, tulcan." after about 20 minutes of driving the conductor came on to check tickets, he looked at mine and said (in spanish, i have translated it for your benifit) "no, this bus isnt going to tulcan. its going to salinas." i didnt know where salinas was, just praying it was near the border of colombia. but no, it was 2 hours due west and once we arrived i learned there were no buses leaving till 3 am. i was pissed. like just about to break some windows or something, but i realized i would be able to get to colombia if i was arrested in ecuador. so i found a hostel, slept the night, ate more seafood, and went back to guayaquil where i bought the same ticket again, and got on the bus. just over 15 hours later i found myself at the border of colombia.

easy crossing, no difficulties, i love being american, half the time i get through quicker than the locals, or even the europeans, dont ask me why. the border town of colombia is called ipiales and is famous for a cathedral they have there. i bought my ticket out, left my bags at the bus station and found my way out to the church. its unbelievable. forget notre dame. ill get photos up when i can, but its built clinging the side of a massive canon. its amazing. i then took my night bus to cali (and then would proceed from cali to bogota cause it was cheaper that way than to get a direct to bogota from ipiales).

i got to bogota last night, took a city bus from the out-of-town into the hostel district and was dropped a block from my hostel, from a city bus from a big ass bus station a half hour ride away. maybe that doesnt sound like an accomplishment on screen, but i was proud of myself. i switched hostels this morning cause i dont agree with paying for breakfast or internet when your already paying for a bed. so i found my new hostel (which is new itself--only been up and running for a month) and will spend a day or two chilled out to get over a little cold i have. which i got right upon coming into colombia (a place where swine flu may actually be a problem) and convinced myself that i probably got it from all the buses i have been taking. i dont think thats true, cause im not dead yet, but lets keep our fingers crossed.

well there you have it, 7 days, $146, 92 hours sitting on a bus, and god knows how many kilometers later i made it. it wasnt so bad.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ginger's Paradise

I didnt realize just how long its been, wow.

alright, i left the animal reserve with an aussie named gemma. we headed to santa cruz, which apparently a lot of people think is beautiful, but its really just another big city with no character. hot, dirty...not great. but we managed not to spend too much money, although we also didnt see 3-D movies, go to aqualand or anything else we planned. after a few days we headed off towards a town called samipata (which has not ATM) but we stopped off at a farm called gingers paradise.

It was started by an american guy married to a bolivian and their 3 children. you can pay a certain amount and just hang out, or pay a little less and work with them for a few hours in the morning. but the farm is all organic, and they are almost completely self-sustainable. they grow almost all their own food, solar panals create electricity, a wood fired oven makes food and hot water, its quite amazing. it would have been cool to stay longer (money and time gave us only 3 days there) because i think there is a lot to be learned from the family. and the day before we arrived they had a baby monkey given to them, so i kinda helped them figure out what kind of food it needed and when and all that.

then it was off to samipata, the place people say will be the biggest hotspot in bolivia soon. the only problem: almost all the awesome things to see and do--ruines, waterfalls, treks, jungle...--are taxi rides away from the town, and with no ATM (and being poor travellers in general) we werent able to do much. although we did take a shared taxi to some waterfalls the last day, only to find that these normally deserted and serene falls were teeming with the local bolivians yelling and playing soccer and volleyball, since it was may 1, they all had holiday. so not quite as nice as it could have been, but at least we got round to doing something.

from there headed back to santa cruz for a bus to la paz, and gemma waited an extra day for her bus to sucre. although when i got to the santa cruz bus station, i realized why gemma couldnt get a ticket for that night--may 1st--and had to wait an extra day. apparently nobody wants to work on that day, even though they celebrated it not on monday, like the rest of the world, but on friday (they already dont work on saturday or sunday) and kept the celebration going on monday and tuesday, so everything shut down for almost 5 days. that included the buses. not one bus was in the massive santa cruz terminal. so i stayed an extra night and left the next day.

been in la paz for a few days now, and im leaving tomorrow morning for puno. they have a sunday night thing here called cholita wrestling, and its bolivian women and men doing WWE style fake wrestling. quite funny, i have some decent pictures and videos of that. but at the wrestling they were handing out surgeons masks "so you dont get swine flu". but even people in bolivia are making precautions if they run tourists buisness and everywhere you see posters saying "beat the swine flu, we now have updated airborne disease defense systems with our tour
group." its hilarious.

anyway, tomorrow starts the many day bus journey to colombia. i dont know how much internet access ill have, but ill try and get an update out at some point, i dont really know how long its gonna take me to get there. oh, land border crossings, im excited...

Friday, April 24, 2009

La Clinica

Alright, i have quite a lot to write about. so i guess we´ll get started.

I got the bus to a small town called Villa Tunari, which is right by Parque Machia (where i was planning on volunteering). as the bus came into to "town" (really just a stip of resturants and hostels along the "highway") it was raining like i have almost never seen it rain. the bus was continuing on, so i was pretty much tossed out on the ground with my backpack, and after the 5 second or so walk to the covered area of a hostel was already completely soaked. but they gave me a room for cheap and dinner as well. the next day i headed down to the park, talked to some of the volunteers having lunch, and waited around till 5 for the tour. we walked through the sub-tropical jungle and monkeys were running about and all that. i then was assigned to work in the clinic because you have to stay for a month to work with cats, which is stupid because (tangent) people start with a cat and work her or him for a few days and then get so tired that they change, so the idea that we couldnt even see the cats cause the would freak out is ridiculous considering that several of the workers only could handle one or two days with them anyway, so why couldnt i have done a couple days, just like those who promised to do a month, and then switch to something else (or just went to see them and take some pictures), just like those who promised to do a month? alright, back on track. the clinic sounded fine to me, and they needed a guy and someone who could speak spanish with the vets (i fill both those requirements) and ended up being fine because it was almost all monkeys that we were working with. its also the first step in the process of rehabilitating an animal. (first they come to us, the vets make sure they are healthy and then monitor their behaviour for awhile, then they go straight to the mirador, where they still get taken care of, or they go to monkey park, where they become free, but still fed. if they have some sort of problem then they get sent to quarentine, where many live in cages and continue to get medicine and observed until they are ready for release.) the first few days were pretty tough, the swiss-french woman (who studied to be a veteranery assistant in australia, and would therefore have a swiss-french-australian accent when saying some words, and would use terms like "well done matey" when refering to me or the monkeys, and all of which i found hilarious) ran a pretty tight ship, and everything had to be done exactly right, and then done again, and maybe one more unneccessary time just for good measure. she could be a bit condesending and once told me as i was cutting carrots for the monkeys, "jeevon, dont cut the carrots like that, monkeys arn´t humans." well thats when decided for sure that, in fact, monkeys arn´t humans, something i had been on the fence about at first.

the days were long, starting at 7:30 and ending at 6:30 with a nice break for lunch, but the work was rewarding. several of the monkeys got on very well with me and it was suprised when i was saying goodbye to them when i realized i would miss them grooming my hair, eating earwax, going through all my pockets and sticking their hands in my mouth. it was quite interesting though that 6 of the monkeys would attack Lise (pronouced lease) just because she was a girl, and therefor i was the one who had to feed them. that may have made her feel a little inferior, but its just a fact that most animals at the park, and in the animal kindom in general, respond better to males than females. its a dominance thing. but over the course of the two weeks i was working there we lost one monkey, one baby tejon (an almost anteater-like mammal that nobody knows the word for in english), but let 4 monkeys free into the wild, which was nice.

the volunteers at the park were some of the most sababa (islaeli word for cool) people i have met in a while though. one aussie girl (who im traveling with now) i met one night in la paz, not even thinking twice, and the she showed up at the park and we became pretty good friends with mike from london, jackson the asian looking kiwi, who lives in south china, many of the 15 (50% or more of the volunteer population) israelis, oliver from germany, fabrice from london, brad from california and various others im probably forgetting right now (thats how you know they´re good friends...).

as i was working i thought of things to mention when i got round to writing this post, and i think much of that is escaping my mind right now, but you have read the important bits. we arrived in santa cruz yesterday morning at 5:30 and found a hostel that ended up costing twice what the lonley planet said (as usual). we just changed today but have been disapointed to find that this city which is known to be more brazilian than bolivian and always warm and sunny. we woke up this morning to a light mist that escalated into a downpour and shows no signs of letting up. our hopes of going to aqua land today (a bolivian water park; im thinking it will be a couple rusty slides and a guy spraying water on you from a hose, but who knows) have been crushed by the weather. gemma wanted to go despite the rain, saying the point of a water park is to get wet, so who cares. i was able to convince her otherwise so i think we´ll go disco bowling instead. if not then a 3-D movie might be the activity, just to make sure we really soak up the brazilian-bolivian culture here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parqu Machia

Alright, this is going to be lame cause i am super tired. expect a very detailed post in about a week.

I dont work with pumas, i work with monkeys in the clinic of the animal refuge called Parque Machia. the work is quite hard, we start very early and end quite late. what i can tell you is that today 2 monkeys jumped me and one stuck its paw in my mouth while cleaning my ear, and the other wrapped its arms and legs around my neck and head and wouldnt let go. that (or something similar) is not an unusual occurance. also, monkeys (and tejones--i dont know the word for them in english, but they have long noses) poop non-stop.

more in a week or so, but i am still alive and thriving, more or less.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

10 Days in La Paz

Ok, i understand its been a while, but at the same time, not much has been going on. The bus that went from northern chile to la paz was interesting. it took about 8 hours and started at sea level peaking at around 4000 meters. thats a lot of altitude to cover in just 8 hours, enough so, apparently, that the girl sitting next to me got altitude sickness and was throwing up in a plastic bag for the the last 40 minutes. lovely. it was pretty hard on everyone else as well, by the end of the trip (which, by the way, was not air conditioned, and instead they decided to blow hot air on us for most of the way) most of the bus was groening in some sort of pain. i had a wicked headache and made a b-line for a hostel bed to try to sleep it off.

over the next couple days i met 2 hilarious british indian girls traveling with their white british friend, a scottish indian guy my age, and two friends traveling together from outside of london. this was the la paz group this time, as we had a blast. i guess the only problem would be that with nighlife as good (and cheap) as it is in la paz, it encourages becoming degenerate. and after a couple days you have seen everything to see, and soon the lifestyle becomes going out till very, very late (some would say early, as in the morning), sleeping half the day, eating, watching movies, and repeating. with a day off here and there. needless to say, its good to have escaped.

although a few days before we left, i learned that bolivia would be playing argentina for the world cup qualifiers. we got tickets (just 5 of us) for $15 (decent seats, too) and headed to the stadium on game day. and what a day it was. we all made guesses as to how bad argentina would beat bolivia. (argentina is 2nd from the top in south america, bolivia 2nd from bottom.) but the first goal went to bolivia, and soon we realized that something amazing was afoot. it must have been the altitude, because the final score was bolivia 6, argentina 1. it was the worst they have been beaten in a long, long time. and the fans went wild.

now i am in a place called cochabamba. tomorrow ill be catching a mini bus out to a small town called Villa Tunia, where there is a wildlife refuge. i have agreed to spend 2 weeks out there volunteering with sick and hurt endangered animals. internet is supposedly "occasionaly reliable," so it might be some time before another blog post comes along. but its sure to be an expierence.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Settle in

Alright, it has been far, far too long. i hope you are in a comfy chair with some snacks and beverages, this may take a while.

My hostel in BA lacked character, but had probably the best location a hostel in BA could. My first room was inhabited by israelis, my second by asians, and my third by a large norweigen fellow, a aussie-looking guy who slept all day, and a cool couple from LA. 3 rooms in 4 days, dont ask me why. i ended up becoming pretty good friends with them. anyway, i have already done almost everything there is to do in Buenos Aires except go to a soccer game and see a drum show called "la bomba." well the only soccer game while i was there would have cost me $70, which is insane considering that tickets normally go for $10. so i skipped that. i was all ready to go to la bomba with the californians when the woman behind the front desk told us they cancelled the show till next season. i guess its a summer thing. brilliant. i ended up spending my time walking the streets and looking at things for sale, which i didnt buy. except sandals, i found a pair of trendy flip flops for $3, so i got those.

After four days i was ready to leave, and Santiago, Chile, was the destination. I got a fancy bus with my own TV screen, watched "Baby Mama" (hilarious if you like saturday night live), and got comfortable for the 22 hour ride. Made it to santiago, found my hostel (which didnt have free breakfast, something at which i was appalled!) and settled by the pool. for those of you who dont know, my mom and sister were do to arrive the next day for a 2 weeks of traveling with me. They showed up the next morning and we got our things together to find another hostel (the one that didnt serve free breakfast was a bit rowdy--and didnt have free breakfast!). amid the excitement and confusion i realized last night that i left my pen drive with 4GB of photos in the computer there, and when i went back an employee told me he found it and put it behind the reception desk, but it wasnt there anymore, again, brilliant. so thats something i have to sort out.

But we found our new hostel, had a delicous FREE panacake breakfast there, and then headed off for a walking tour of the city, after receiving not-so-good advice from a cynical owner. after many blocks and being lost more than once, we found the house of Pablo Neruda, a famous chilean poet. it was a very interesting muesum-house tour. the man collected everything from pictures of watermelons to colored glass to stamps to unmatching cutlery. he also built his houses (i say houses because he had 3, and we were lucky enough to visit 2 in total) like ships, a few rooms had slanted floors and low, narrow doorways. we also saw the government house and went to a museum about Allende (a democratically elected Marxist president) who killed himself after a CIA-backed coup overthrew him in 1973. Sidenote: Allende and Neruda were friends, and Neruda died just a few months after the coup.

Next day we were off to Mendoza, where we ate nice food (unlike in santiago, where we were unlucky with resturant choice) and rented a car and drove around to several wineries and an olive oil factory. that evening we drove up to Cerro de la Gloria (glorious hill, as the sign translated it) looked over the town as the sun set, and climbed on the statue at the top. A visit to the Mendoza Zoo was the next days activity. the zoo was quite large and varied, although, as with all zoos, pehaps, the animals didnt seem to be enjoying themselves fully. we took a night bus back out to the Chilean coast that night, to a town called Valparaiso, a very european, bohemien-esque city. the houses were all brightly colored and beautifully restored, and apparently UNESA declared it a world heritage site. we ate seafood (the thing to do, according to the guide book) and walked amoung the pretty houses and chic cafes. we took a bus down to another one of Pablo Neruda´s houses, one meant to be even more amazing, but it seemed a little less exciting than the first. perhaps because we had a downright boring old woman as our tour for this one, and the man who lead us around in santiago was cheerful, happy, and possibly a bit crazy, but an excellent guide.

Now it was time for kerewyn´s chosen activity...horseback riding!! we headed up the coast and were picked up by the company (really just a family with an unruley three year old, but who can blame him). the horses were quite nice, and i told him we wanted fast horses but mom made me say we (exept for kerewyn) didnt have much expierence. so he put me on what i found out to be a slow, fat, and slightly asmatic horses that was the slowest of the bunch and simply refused to go where i directed. renaming her hidalgo helped a bit, but kerewyn and her race horse left us all in the dust. after three hours of riding that was fine with me, the slower and less bouncy the better. we were all soar the next two days, but dinner in a revolving resturant helped a bit. i must say, it seems unfair that a 300 gram (or 10 oz) steak with shrimp, more tender than perhaps an steak i have ever had, should only cost $9 or so in a revolving resturant 23 stories above the waterfront. still, with sides and drinks the bill rises quickly, although remains much less than one would pay north of mexico.

Off to a place called Quillota the next day. the only responses we got when telling locals we were going to quillota was, "oh, its warm there," and "hmmm, why would you got to quillota?" the reason: my dearest cousin Sela is an exchange student in the "warm" town of quillota, and we couldnt very well not visit her. we headed out, found a hotel, and had chinese. i talked to sela that night and she said she couldnt meet with us untill 8:30 the following evening, so we would have all of the next day to kill. so it was back to the coast. we lay on the beach in the sun for a few hours, then headed back. we also had chilean enpanadas, meat or chicken or jam and cheese filled pies, usually fried, and a completo which is an extra long hot dog with tomatoe, avocado and mayonaise. they are actually quite delicous.

We waited around in the hotel room back in quillota and when my mom went down to check the lobby, guess who came back with her? sela!! hurray, we managed to meet, in chile of all places, after 2 years. in the words of borat (and say it like he would) very nice! we chatted and told stories and caught up, then headed out for dinner. we found a Pakistani resturant called K2 (i wonder of the average chilean knows what K2 is) and dinned there. the food was quite good, once we sent the chicken back to be properly cooked. back to the hotel to talk and catch up more, until sela´s host sister picked her up. it was very nice to see her again.

Off to santiago the next day, where we legged it around with our packs until finally finding a place with room. on the recomendation of a gay british couple we went to a place called "Las Vacas Gordas," or The Fat Cows to us english speaking folk. once again, delicious food for outrageously inexpensive prices, and (what appears to be a trend amoung more upscale resturants in chile) we recieved a liquor--amaretto, camomille, or mint--on the house. even kerewyn got one, although thankfully didnt drink it.

The next day mom and sister bought some things one can only find in chile or neighboring countires, we went bowling, found out our artesanal market was closed (it was sunday), got ice cream, and walked around the plaza by our hostel. i sent some things home with mom, traded her backpacks (mine is now smaller, lighter, and of a better quality) and the taxi picked them up and wisked them off to the airport. it has been a lovely two or so weeks, although it feels good to be on my own again as well. yesterday i took the 30 hour bus from santiago to the top of chile and tomorrow i am headed back to La Paz. hopefully the swedish couple and the british girl from the eltronic music festival will be there, we will see.

Hope your behinds arnt too soar, i know mine is :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Amazing Adventure and Wild Weather

I arrived in Punta del Diablo with pretty high expectations, not a good idea when arriving anywhere new. All the hostels there are very expensive, except for one, so that was where i was planning on staying. i didnt know where it was, but i knew it was an HI--hostelling international--hostel. i saw a sign for an HI hostel with an arrow pointing up a dirt street, so i headed up there. a few blocks later i found a hostel and asked if it was the right one. they said no, i had to go up a few more blocks, to the left a few blocks, and up more. i did that and didnt find anything. it was very hot, my backpack was heavy and i was tired and frustrated, so i went back to the hostel to stay there for the first night and find the other place later. well, the "hostel" that gave me directions was $70 a night and only had single rooms, so i cancelled my plan. i tossed my big pack into some bushes and headed back to town to ask around there. the tourist office was closed (i didnt see it open once during the 5 days i was there) so i went to an internet cafe. i got more concrete directions and went back to get my backpack and headed off. it ened up being about a kilometer outside town, but i found it. very basic, cold water, broken computers, but it had a kitchen and a TV and it was half the price of the next cheapest in town.

i settled in and had a couple days of relaxation and easy beach going. then i met a really annoying swedish guy, and we went on the mission of all missions. he said there was a big fort (the kind people battle over in war) about 5 kilometers away (3 miles, or so) and we should walk there. i was up for it, even though he was annoying. we left at two or so, and walked along the beach for about 2 hours, then asked someone where to go. they said follow the road up there until you get to route 9, then take that and you'll see signs. so we did that, another half hour or so of walking, and started seeing signs. we followed the signs down a dirt road, through a campground, until the signs stopped. i asked someone where to head next. they said we had to walk all the way back to the main road and around to the fort. but let me explain something about south americans. if you ask one person you'll one answer, and someone else will give you a completely different answer, so you have to ask maybe 3 or 4 people to get an idea of where to go, and its best if they work in a shop or something, because they probably know the area better. we found someone who worked in a shop and for us answer number two was, "oh you're close, head up that road, take a left, and you'll be there soon." we went with that answer. we found the fort, which was massive, but all locked up. at this point it had been about 3 hours since we left the hostel. we walked around the fort and found a place to climb the wall. so we both climbed up the wall, saw some security guards walking around, and quickly scurried back down. there were cactuses where we were walking and the swede had never seen a cactus in the wild, and tried to pick the "fruit" that was growing on it. the "fruit" ended up being a pouch of those tiny thorns that you cant see but hurt like hell when they are stuck in your finger. he spent a while working on getting all those out, while i tried to pull one of the thorns off the cactus itself, and in the process got a cactus thorn splinter, which is still in my finger and hurts like hell.

we planned on taking the bus back but learned the bus didnt come during the week of the "off season" months, which includes march. so we started walking back. we got to a point were we could take the road or the beach. at this point it wasnt dark, but the sun was getting to the setting point. we decided on the beach, but we had to walk through a kind of wooded area to get there. ok, that will be fun, we though. its going fine until we get to a really thick part. i cant explain what happened next, because ive never seen anything like it, but ill try. the trees and plants were so thick you couldnt just walk through them. fortunatly for us, most of the trees in this part were very dead and dry, so we were physically kicking apart braches of trees and breaking through dead trees to keep going toward the sound of the ocean. we had to army crawl to get through some parts. now its getting darker. not dark, but the sun is setting, and pretty quickly. after fighting to get through one part, we would just find ourselves facing the same thing again, but it seemed to get thicker and thicker every time. there were parts we actually had to find our way AROUND, because without multiple machetes it wouldnt be impossible to get through. it took a solid 45 minutes untill we got to sand. and at that point we were scraped up and bruised and in pain. we headed toward the beach, which we could finally see. its dark now. the last part we have to get through are some tall reeds, which end up being about 8 feet tall, and so thick--and sharp, i actually cut my hand on them--that we couldnt push through. i was leading at this point. so i reached up and started pulling them down, and after i pulled enough of them low enough, i jumped horizontally on them, using my body weight to pass through. we swam through the rest like that until we could walk, and promptly found we were in a swamp, and sunk in the mud and water past our ankles. but we finally got out and onto the beach. then it was just another 2 hours back to town. we ended up getting to the hostel at about 11. upon arriving we poured hydrogen peroxide over our wounds, and made pasta. after 7 hours of walking we figured it was a solid 10-15 kilometes that we walked. insane.

the next day was grey and colder and wicked windy, but we headed to the beach anyway. people were fishing off the rocks where all the waves break, and i was convinced they wouldnt catch anything--what fish swim in that part of the ocean, right?--but one kid caught like 5 fish in 20 minutes or so of us watching. we headed back to the hostel and BBQ'd with some canadians and french people and a german. the next day i awoke to steady rain, which sounded nice on the metal roof. but it didnt stop. in fact, it just got worse. it rained and rained and stormed and was windy and cold all day and all night. in fact, it was so bad at night we lost power quite a few times, but it didnt stop the argentines from showing us more drinking games. im in a different town now, and headed back to buenos aires tomorrow. i think i can find cheap sandals there, which im still missing since my camping adventure.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sleeping Under the Stars

Alright, i have done some stuff. dont get too excited, it has still been quite relaxed, but a little more active than before. so i got to montevideo (a fun word to say) and soon found out from the tourist information at the bus station that the bus station--which is also a shopping mall and grocery store, with a McDonalds thrown in (i found that interesting)--is a good 45 minute walk from where my hostel is located. with a backpack the size of mine, that was enough for me to decide to bite the bullet and take a cab. it was in my 10 minute or so cab ride that i found out just how friendly Uruguayans can be. the cabbie started asking me questions and telling me about his life, and when there was a lull in the converstation he would think of something to ask or say. i learned that the man had travelled extensively throughout europe, part of the east coast, and argentina. this tempted the question from me, "why the hell are you driving a taxi in montevideo then?" but i refreigned, possibly saving the man an embarassing and long winded tale of lost love and alcoholism--but i can only guess.

Luise was the man working behind the desk of the hostel i had reservations for. he was very energetic and friendly, making me actually ask myself if maybe he had taken something. and let me say this: the hostels website made it look like the place to be. it was not so. there were two other english speaking guys who i fould quite soon. apart from that it was all spanish or portugese speaking clientele. which is fine. also, the hostel didnt sell booze, which i guess is good because it means they let you bring in your own. so i enjoyed gin and tonics with a canadian guy the first day. i headed out to check out the town later, which only took about an hour, maybe two. and i had booked 4 was so hot the first night that without the air conditioner it would have been impossible to sleep. but it rained on and off the next three days, cooling the weather down. i didnt do much those days. my last day i met a friend of my dads who lives about an hour east of the city. we chatted and i got free lunch and promised to call him when i was in his town the next day. our last night the canadian and the irish bloke and i had a BBQ.

i got to Piriapolis (the town of my dads friend, who´s name is Merlin, which i like) and found a camp ground. threw my stuff i some bushes and set off for the beach. relaxed, got lunch with Merlin again, he showed me around, and i was off after 2 nights of sleeping under the stars, since i have no tent. which is quite nice, although without a sleeping pad even grass can be unconfortable. i got to La Paloma, my next beach town destination, and found a cheap hostel--my body needed a bed. they had the best breakfast i have had at a hostel, homemade bread and jam, cheese, ham, fresh fruit juice, fresh fruit, cereal, it was wonderful. i stayed there a couple nights, and headed into the woods with my hammock for the third night to save a little money. it all went well, except when i woke up my beloved sandals that i paid a dollar for back home were gone. i had hid everything else, so i dont know if someone stole them, or if a dog ran off or what, but i am sandaless, and its not good. i also had my towel stolen at the previous campground while it was drying. damn. i now use a shirt to dry off.

ok, got to a place called punta del diablo, a place described by some good friends i met as the most beautiful place in south america, although i have yet to understand why. im here for 4 days, so we´ll see what the future brings.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The last week has been very chill. I arrived in a town called Colonia del Sacramento, which is a World Heritage site declared by the UN, although i am convinced that that doesnt mean anything. its just a town on the mouth of a river. there is a "ciudad vieja," or old town, with the remains of a church and some other stuff, but nothing really worth seeing is there. Stayed at a very relaxed hostel, avoided expensive tourist scams, and cooked pasta. the plan now is to save money on everything i can, considering that your average hostel in Uruguay is 33% more expensive than your average argentine hostel. im heading up the coast in about an hour, there are supposed to be nice beaches and lots of camping. Thats actually all i have to say. wow. the last week has been very chill.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Ok, spanish speaking sony empolyees suck. they said that since we bought the cameras outside of argentina, they werent under warrenty and they wouldnt replace or fix them unless we paid money. also, cameras in this country happen to cost more than i imagine heroin would back home. a little sony point and shoot camera is anywhere from 300 to 700 dollars, when it should be 150-300 dollars. insane. i also wouldnt recomend to anyone looking to buy a camera to buy a sony cybershot. they take good photos, but they break very easily. Rose´s camera broke in the same way mine did, through no fault of our own. the lense just wouldnt stay open and function any more. upsetting.

BA was good other than that. Ilka, the canadian, and i went to the museum of fine arts and saw some cool stuff. this museum happens to be one of the best ive been too. They have work from Picaso, Pollock, and other various amazing artists. as well as some pieces dating from the 14th century and even earlier, like some cool pre-incan works that are more than a thousand years old. the next day i wandered the sunday markets with Rose, Jen, and Jen´s friend Lisa (all UK residents). we then checked out the posh neighboorhoods of Puerto Madero, where all the hotshot Poreños (residents of BA) live, work and relax.

I had a ticket to take the ferry across to Uruguay on monday morning, at 9:30, but i had to be there at 8:30. so i set an alarm for early and went to bed before midnight. but i couldnt get to sleep. the most likely cause for this is that at night in BA its about 80 degrees. thats too hot to sleep for those of you have tried. i put a damp towel over me and got a few hours, but woke up when it dried out at 4am and didnt fall back asleep for what i estimate to be about an hour and a half. needless to say, i was suprised when i was awoken by movement in the room, and astonished and upset when i looked at my watch and saw that it read 10:40. there goes $30. so that day i had to buy a new ticket. and it started raining, which was great because it cooled down the city. so i went to a movie, got charged more than i should have, so i snuck into another screen for a double feature. Changeling is intense. i was upset because Angelina Jolie is the main actress, and i think she is fairly worthless, but after the first 20 minutes or so of this movie, she showed some real talent. i would definetly recomend seeing it, if you want to be utterly outraged by Los Angeles in the 1920s.

ok, im in Uruguay now, a place even more expensive than chile and argentina, so my stay wont be long. but im looking forward to some beautiful beaches and some good surf. lets just hope it pans out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moonflower 2009

Ok, so i met a bunch more people at the hostel that were interested in going to this electonic music fest in the middle of the woods. which was good, cause 2 of the people who said they wanted to go changed their minds. so now it was going to me, crazy aussie dave, annoying alaska chris, rose from england (who would be coming out the next day, dont ask me how she thought she would find us) and the 7 new people from england, the states, denmark and sweden. we did our last minute shopping and got everybody on a shuttle to the campground. the campground was quite small and trees were everywhere, nothing like the Gorge, for those of you who know it. but the location of this place is amazing. its right on the end of an amazing lake, surrounded by mountains, in the woods, stunning. but we ended up setting up our tents behind someones car, but they said that would be fine. dave, chris and didnt have a tent, but we had a rainfly which we strung up between the two tents. so we all had sandwiches for dinner, started to party (maybe a bit too early, cause apparently things dont get going at moondflower until about 1 am), and sat around the fire laughing and playing music. at 11 or so we headed out and saw this great band playing a funky mix of reggae, ska and dub music. it was so fun. we headed back to the campsite at around 1 to "get some beers" but ended up not making it back out to the music. that was our early night. dave, chris and i slept on the ground, which was uncomfortable, but i wasnt cold, which was suprising, considering everybody else was.

day two was very chill for most of the afternoon. we lay by the beach for much of the day. rose also somehow found us that day, which was good. as night time rolled around we had a late dinner of more sandwiches and put off drinking for a couple hours so we could stay out later. so again we sat around the fire playing music, drinking, singing, having a good time. i left to go to the bathroom at some stage and saw loads of people heading to the far end of the beach. i thought that maybe it was a special party thing over there, so i followed. there was a load generator type thing running though. i asked when i got out there and it was actually a fire. people were lined up in two lines from the lake into the woods passing coke bottles, thermos', 5 gallon jugs, frying pans...anything they had, back and forth to put out the fire. so i joined in and spent about a half hour taking water to the fire out in the woods. it was pretty intense, but after awhile there was a big cheer and it sounded like we got it out. an hour later everybody was back dancing and partying like nothing had happened. it was wild. we headed out to the music but this time there was not an amazing live band, but the DJ at the main stage was pretty good. and despite far too much trance music, it was still fun because everybody there was getting into it. that night we got back later, which was too bad, cause the brits and euopeans were leaving at 8 the next morning.

once they left it was just dave, chris, rose and me left to enjoy the festivities. the third day and night passed much like the first too (although without the fire) with the addition of a moon celebration on the beach. there was a massive bonfire and everybody was crowded around it singing and playing moon songs and then we all turned and looked towards the mountains and watched the moon rise, and chanted unitl it was fully visible. then we followed fire throwers and a massive dragon (much like what you would see if you were celebrating the chinese newyear) to the main stage and danced the rest of the night away.

then we went back to bolson, back to the hostel, stayed one more night and i left the next day for BA with rose, jen, and ilka, a girl i met back in mendoza. now we are here and in search of a sony shop, my camera broke during the festival. although it wasnt my fault, so maybe i get some money for it.