Wednesday, December 31, 2008

South America 2008 Photos

Here are my photos from South America:

South America 2008 #9

Final South American Email: Photos, Amazon Jungle, & Colombia (1/5/09):


Hi everybody, once again...

(the album is #7 called Last Stint)

So, I believe last time I wrote was from Huanchaco, Perú... quite a long time ago. I am back home now (as of a few days ago) and basically went overland from the peruvian coast all the way to the eastern border of the country in the amazon basin, then up through colombia for my last month.

Lets see, to start... i should probably do another plug for my volunteer organization. So, go check out Ok, so my time there was invaluable, but i kind of already explained all of that. I became friends with the people i lived with, other volunteers, and some locals there too... but the time came to move on again, so i said goodbye to them all and headed north. i went with 5 girls(!!!) who were also volunteers with me in Huanchaco, but did other jobs like teach english or a teachers aids. We explored the city of Chiclayo together, and even went to the wizards and witches market, where we could buy pretty much anything. I passed on the deer leg brewsticks, and even on the Amor Eterno pills and just went for the eyecandy. walking around the market with 5 tall white girls (sorry Lina) was pretty fun, we attracted a lot of attention and people were really happy to show us their yummy looking, salted, flattened, dry, fish... or maybe their live black, really fast, worm-like water creatures.

After a couple days, i said goodbye to them and met up with my peruvian friend Nancy for a day, and she showed me around... but somehow i was better oriented than she was in her home town, so we didnt actually do all that much other than eat empanadas and cookies. We had a fun time walking around and talking though. I left for the mountains, which was the northern range of the Andes, and found myself in the town of Chachapoyas. I was, once again, traveling alone down there. The town really nice and pretty, i recommend it and its surroundings as a destination, but theres nothing email worthy from my time there... check out the photos. I've already said too much!!!

I was getting excited to leave Chachapoyas because I knew my JUNGLE ADVENTURE!!! would start. I will capitalize all of my creative titles to add emotion to the text. I was about to embark on a month long amazonian jungle thing. as you can see, i am still suffering badly from talking english not goodly. So, i headed to a few small towns, easing my way from the mountainous climate which included cloud and high rain forests, and went all the way down to the humid and more tropical "jungle" as we call it. i stopped in one town and hung out for a few days, viewing waterfalls and checking out the new amazonian fruits. I was even offered marriage (or something) from the girl i bought a hammock from, but i graciously declined. In this town, called Terapoto, I began to notice the trend... that many many young girls in the region have kids (like between the ages of 15-20), and that there were probably very few that were my age, single, AND without children. it was a little different than some of the more developed areas where theres a higher percentage of young people who were focused on a career or education. So, that meant that if i were going to find a wife there, she'd probably have some kind of boyfriend or whatever. shoot. i didnt anyways. typical.

Ok, so i left Terapoto on a horrible bus, and eventually made it to Yurimaguas, which is the port town that leads me to the amazon river by boat... and yes... i had started my JUNGLE ADVENTURE!!! I also discovered another trend. I stood out a LOT. for some reason people liked trying to sell me things... probably cause there are a lot of travelers that go down there and buy too much crap. For example, I had 3 jungle guides come up to me and find out where i was heading and told me they had a "friend" who lived there and would meet me at the dock when my boat arrived, and they'd be my guide... I was supposed to look for a guy named Juan, another named Genaro, and i forget the last but ill make one up... Estev. Annoying. I got bad service in a restaurant probably cause i wasnt a local, and those 2 things pissed me off enough to where i didnt wanna see their shitty town anymore and i got on the next boat outta there.

BOAT TIME!!! so i paid $22 for a day and a half boat ride with food included down the amazon. There were 3 levels on the boat: 1st floor was 2 cars, 30 cows, a few goats, some chickens (the population decreased after each meal though), and about 1,000,000 onions. 2nd floor was the cramped, sweaty, bad food, worse bathrooms, no room passenger floor for 20 bucks. the 3rd floor had the luxury box rooms (luxury = having a door) and area with a better view for the passengers for a higher price. I went for the cheap option and was directed to hang my hammock with about 200 other people... 2 of which were tourists. Being that i am of a larger build, often times i would touch hips with my neighbors' because, well... i guess to put it bluntly, my hips are big. i felt bad when he was sleeping and i'd crash into him trying to shift around. i spent the next 36 hours either in my hammock and the small viewing deck enjoying the people on the boat. Many of the señoras were very impressed that i could knit and was the icebreaker. they'd lurk around me curiously, as if they were a man helping a wounded dinosaur, and then i would usually smile and say something to let them know that i could speak spanish and it was okay for them to say whatever it was that they wanted to say... i guess, making them think that i was the herbivore-style dinosaur and was of no danger to them. After talking with a woman, i'd watch her tell all the other older folks around her about me and they'd come down and do the same... and they really liked that i was making my mom a scarf. i think i broke their hearts a little bit. so, it was an amazing experience... i made friends with some of the other passengers just doing a lot of nothing with them. The trip was characterized by sleeping too much in a hammock, talking to people about california, waking up to blaring cumbia at 5 am, and eating bad food. it was absolutely wonderful.

ooh, i forgot... here is a sanitation story: so, i went to the bathroom once [ummm, it was a #2 (omg)] and flushed. dont worry, this is the ONLY time i did that on my trip, so you wont have to hear about it again. no problems. then i went around the corner and washed my hands. clean hands now. WAIIIIIIIIITTTT. looked down at the brown river and did the math... flush goes down. infinitely large body of water = zero concentration of fecal matter... right? water comes up to wash hands. was it contaminated with the fish and bananas i had in yesterdays lunch? perhaps. i then embraced my surroundings and showered with the same river water that was my septic tank and hand wash basin... while praying that my shampoo was stronger than bleach. if you guys didnt wanna talk to me after EATING shit, how do you feel about me showering in it? i realize that this paragraph is a jumble of horribly written nonsense, but whatever.

I visited a national reserve called Pacaya-Samiria... and had an awesome time. i got off the boat in this little village and found a guide. so, for $25/day i hired him as a private guide, chef, fisherman, fire builder, canoe paddler, mosquito net erector, animal finder, and companion. the two of us paddled through this reserve down the pacaya river for 6 days... and all we brought were some clothes, my camera, a canoe, a banana branch, and rice. we caught fish, paddled our canoe, looked for animals (i saw river dolphins, monkeys, crocodiles, sloths, birds galore, turtles, frogs, and whathaveyou), listened to the sounds of the jungle, ate a lot, and swam in piranha infested waters. it was the wet season, so almost the entire reserve was under a few feet of water, meaning that all the navigation was done in the canoe itself. check out the pictures, but they really dont do the experience justice... i definitely plan on going back and doing the 20 day one-way trip someday. by the end of the 6 days we were having lots of fun talking with one another, but i was ready to change shirts back in town.

from there it was another couple day boat ride down to Iquitos, and then to Leticia... in both towns i didnt do anything super exciting. i think i had my first migraine in one of them though! i also found out that the Obamas had one the world series or something like that. i didnt know til a week after it happened though cause i was in the reserve and then a tiny town. other than hanging out with a couple of other cool travelers in those two towns, nothing too remarkable happened... other than the fun night out at some club where i spent a night trying to avoid a whole bunch of 30-something year old prostitutes (or maybe just "opportunists"). i felt some strong foot rubbing on my leg anytime i stood too close to the bar, and some creepy woman was trying to get me to go upstairs with her and some other dude. not having it. 2 of the 4 guys that i went with there fell for their "tricks" and i didnt see them the next morning in the hostel. dirty. I also ate bbqued worms. thats another gross sounding food that is confirmed to taste gross. they looked like oversized maggots trying to emerge from some sort of cocoon, tasted like bbqued something, and left me with the feeling in my stomach that communicated "it feels like you just ate a worm and although its not that gross tasting, brain is telling stomach that you shouldn't be happy."

In colombia, i flew to the capital, Bogotá, and met up with Monica (my friend i met in Spain) and her boyfriend Marty. I stayed in their apartment which was really nice after over a month of moving around a lot and sleeping in very less than ideal conditions. i relished in having my own room, a bed, internet in the house, and an excuse to not do anything (cold rain). the 3 of us spent the 5 days i had there exploring, chatting, and catching up. one night we went out to a club/bar thing... if you EVER see a drink called "Be Happy" do not order it. its a mixture of beer, vodka, tequila, rum, grenadine, gin, aguardiente, and curacao. and thats it (those are all alcohol, btw). so, i may or may not be speaking from experience but one (1) of those things will get somebody of my build, current (at the time) food saturation level, tiredness level, and tolerance pretty much hammered. PLUS, it tastes bad. but, pretty sure it turns you into a really good dancing machine... just ask any of the 4 girls that danced with me and then all of a sudden were no longer dancing with me.

after that, i headed to a town called Bucaramanga, where i had a friend (who i had still not yet met) waiting for my arrival. i decided to Couchsurf (check out, a cultural exchange website) and actually stay at somebody's house, whereas before i had just met up somewhere in town. my new friend was named Tania, and once i was at her house, her whole family was just as open as she was. Originally planning 2 nights with them, i stayed 7 and had a great time everyday... i met her parents, 2 sisters, boyfriend, his daughter, about 12 aunts and uncles, 8 cousins, and some of their friends too... it was a ton of fun. they took me house shopping, out to dinner, to the mall, to a beautiful colonial town, and some other stuff. i was staying at Tania's boyfriends house down the street... and it just so happened that there was a painter and his 3 painting apprentice sons staying there too, so every night when i came home the 4 of them were up and we'd talk til late. Although i didnt need much, they all convinced me that colombia was a great place to be traveling. On my last day, the Mom invited me to eat ants (a local delicacy), so we went to the ant district of town and found some. they were huge, and WITH WINGS. ugh. they tasted like peanuts... but like, really disgusting peanuts with legs that got stuck in your throat. But, you know, it was very nice of them to try to "let" me enjoy the ants! Tania, her sister, and i all got along really well... we had lots of fun hanging out together, and im grateful to have met such a nice family.

On my 3rd day with the family, it was thanksgiving. Tania took me to the store and i took forever (if youve ever been to the supermarket with me, you know...) for me to get a thanksgiving turkey and all the good stuff that goes with it. i spent 8 hours cooking a turkey with stuffing, green bean cassarole, mashed potatoes, gravy, and an apple pie in the unventilated and hot kitchen. they thought i was crazy... like, whos this weird american guy who took over our kitchen, and why is he cooking so much weird stuff?? i was really nervous cause everything i made was from scratch and i was positive that i'd blow it one way or another, but it actually came out really well and they all liked it. who knows, maybe one day this act of kindness will end the drug war!

From there, i went up to the caribbean coast for my last 12 days or so in the continent! Fernanda, who i had met back in Santiago in March, decided to come up and hang out with me for my last week and a half and we had a blast exploring the coast. We visited Cartagena, a small fishing town called Taganga, and a national park called Tayrona... and it was all beautiful. I did some scuba diving and snorkeling... and got to see some of the tropical life once again. In the park, we backpacked through calf-deep mud to the ocean and slept in hammocks on the beach between palm trees. We spent the days swimming around in the 80 degree water and just doing some hardcore lounging around in picturesque beaches while eating tropical fruits. I was really sad to have to say bye to her and to south america... but i couldnt have thought of a better way to end the trip.

So anyways, now im writing this from Santa Cruz... and its alllllll over. I am happy to be back with my family (gonna be uncle cody!), Thumper, friends, and some of the luxuries here. to name a few... flushing toilet paper is alright. pricetags are handy. road rules apply. having more than 75 liters of stuff can be nice. i have more than a 5 shirt rotation. i dont have to fear for my life due to electrifying myself in the shower. my bed fits.

although, ill have to drive a little further to find a paint store, im gonna miss $1 delicious meals, i have to refrigerate my eggs, there aren't any cumbia buses here, chickens no longer walk across the road.

i was gone for 11 months and 1 day, i guess this is where i sum it all up in a simple, eloquent phrase... huh? im not even gonna try. if youve enjoyed reading these emails, i guarantee that obtaining these stories was way more fun than reading about them. some of you may think im crazy, lucky, retarded, non-goal oriented, whatever... but taking a year off and doing something like this was not as expensive or impossible as you may think... the what i gained there far outweigh what i missed here. i encourage you to go check it out... its a beautiful place, and feel free to ask me advice on places to go down there!

until next trip,



hooooola amigos,

(están en el album llamado ¨phase VII - Last Stint¨)

Bueno... pueeeeessss, creo que la última vez que escribí fue de Huanchaco, Perú... hace mucho tiempo. Ahora, les escribo a ustedes de mi casa en California, y basicamente fui por tierra y rio de la costa de Perú atravesé los Andes de nuevo, y fui por el rio amazonas hasta colombia, y viajé un mes en colombia antes de regresar.

Para empezar, yo debería promover la organización con quien trabajaba antes, miren la página ok, mi tiempo allí con Fairmail era inolvidable, pero ya expliqué esto mas o menos. yo llegué a ser amigos con la gente con quien yo trabajaba y vivía ahí, y también con algunos Huanchaqueros... pero vino el momento para salir y despedir a los amigos... y me fui al norte. Fui con 5 chicas(!!!), y ellas eran voluntarias también en Huanchaco, pero hacían otras cosas como enseñar inglés o ayudantes en la sala. Fuimos juntos a la ciudad se llama Chiclayo, siquiera visitamos el mercado de brujos, donde puedes comprar de todo... por ejemplo, me quedé sin compras cuándo ví la pata de ciervo para sopa de brujas, y resistí comprar las pastillas de Amor Eterno (para hacerte MAS hombre). Caminando por el mercado con 5 chicas altas era muy divertido, porque les llamamos la atención a todos, y la gente estaba muy feliz mostrarnos sus pescados salados y planos (?), o quizas sus gusanos negros y vivos que vivían en agua... asco.

Después de unos días, yo les despedí a mis amigas, y encontré con mi otra amiga Nancy (quién conocí en Arequipa) por un día... y me mostró la ciudad. no hicimos muuucho aparte de comer empanadas y las galletas tipicas de la región... King Kong?? Me fui para las montañas, que eran los andes del norte de peru... y me encontré en el pueblo se llama Chachapoyas. Yo estaba, nuevamente, viajando solo ahí y me gustaba mucho. El pueblo era muy bonito y agradable, y lo recomendo y los alrededores también como destino, pero no hice nada digno mención. ya he dicho demasiado!!!

Yo estaba emocionado por salir de Chachapoyas porque sabía que mi AVENTURA SALVAJE!!! empezaría pronto. Voy a hacer los titulos letras grandes para aumentar el nivel de emoción en este mensaje. Yo estaba a punto de embarcar en una cosa amazonica que iba a durar un mes. este parte no traduce bien, porque me quejé del hecho que todavía no puedo hablar bien en inglés. Entonces, visité algunos pueblitos al principio del clima montañoso que inclusó bosques nubosos y lluviosos, y fui hasta la región humida y mas tropical... ¨selvosa,¨ la llamamos. descansé por unos dias en una ciudad se llama terapoto y no hice mucho en estos días... miraba cascadas y probaba frutas nuevas. Siquiera se me solicité la chica que me vendió una hamaca su misma como esposa o algo, pero la tuve que rechazar graciamente. Ahí me comencé a dar cuenta que muchas (claramente, no todas) de las chicas entre 15 y 20de allí tenían hijos y que probablemente estaba pocas chicas de mi edad que estaban solteras y sin hijos. Era diferente que los lugares mas desarrollados donde hay un por cientaje más alto de jovenes quienes enfocaban más en su educación o trabajo. En corto, si yo fuera a encontrar una esposa ahí, ella probablemente tendría 16 años o un novio. No gracias.

EPOCA DE BARCO!!! pagué US$22 por un día y medio de viaje en barco con comida incluida en el rio amazonias. Estaba 3 niveles en el barco: 1er piso tenía 2 autos, 30 vacas, algunos cabros, gallinas (pero, menos despues de cena), y como 1,000,000 cebollas. el segundo piso tenía mucha gente, sudor, comida mala, baños peores, y poco espacio. El tercero piso tenía cuartos lujosos (lujoso = tiene una puerta) y un área con una vista mejor para los pasajeros por un precio más alto. Escogí el segundo nivel y colgué mi hamaca con 200 otras personas... 2 de ellos siendo turistas. Como estoy una persona más grande, con frecuencia yo tocaba uhhhh.... no sé el nombre... el lugar entre el estomago y los piernas pero no ESE lugar... es hueso grande... lo que tiene vacas. no importa. pero tocaba mis vecinos (sin intención) mucho mientras y dormía en mi hamaca. me sentía mal cuándo yo chocaba con los vecinos y se despertían. pasé las próximas 36 horas en mi hamaca o en la terraza, disfrutando la gente en el barco. Muchas de las señoras estaban impresionadas que yo pudiera tejer y eso ¨rompía el hielo.¨ ellas pasaban mi hamaca mirandome curiosamente, como un hombre ayundando un oso herido con cuidado, y normalmente yo sonreiría y diría algo para que supieran que podía conversar en español, y era bien que me preguntaran lo que querían. Después de hablar con una mujer, yo la miraba decirles a sus amigos que yo sabía tejer y hablar español, y ellos iban a hacer lo mismo... divertido! y a ellas les gustaba que yo hiciera una bufanda para mi mamá, yo rompía sus corazones un poco. fue una experiencia bonita, hice amigos con otros pasajeros, pasamos tiempo juntos haciendo nada y compartiendo algunas historias. El viaje estaba caractizado por dormir en una hamaca demasiado, hablar con gente sobre california, despertarme por cumbia muuuuy fuerte a las 5 de la mañana, y comer comida mala. fue maravilloso.

casi se me olvidó... aquí es una historia sanitaria: fui al baño una vez (ummm, numero dos... mucha informacion, lo siento, pero pertiene a la cuenta) y tiré la cadena, sin problemas. de repente, fui al otro lado y me lavé las manos. manos limpias ahora. ESPEREN. yo miré hacia el rio café y pensaba... agua del inodoro va hacia abajo, un cuerpo de agua grande = cero contaminación de cosas ¨humanos,¨ verdad? agua va hacia arriba para lavar las manos. Fue contaminado con el pescado y bananas que comí el día anterior?? quizás. después me duché con el mismo agua, que era bien sucio hacía pocos minutos... y rezé que mi champú era muuuuuy fuerte como clorox. por lo menos no es guiso de mierda.

Yo visité una reserva nacional se llama Pacaya Samiria, y tuve un tiempo bacano, bacan, copado, chevere... lo que sea. bajé del barco grande en un pueblo (lagunas) y conseguí un guía. Él era mi guía, cocinero, pescador, hombre-que-hacía-fuego, remador de canoa, erector de red de mosquitos, buscador de animales, y compañero. Nosotros remabamos en el rio pacaya por 6 días... y solo trajemos ropa, mi camara, una canoa, un palo de bananas, y arroz. pescabamos, remabamos la canoa, buscabamos animales (vi delfines del rio, monos, cocodrillos, perezos, muchos aves, tortugas, ranas, y otros), escuchabamos los sonidos de la selva que era muy fuerte, comíamos mucho, y nadabamos en agua habitado por pirañas. Era la temporada lluviosa, y casi toda la reserva estaba abajo agua, que significa que toda la exploración era de la canoa. miren las fotos, pero ellas no explican lo que es ese lugar bien. Quiero regresar ahí, porque quiero hacer el 20 día viaje de una via... algún día. Al final de los seis días nos estabamos divertiendo mucho hablando, pero y estaba listo para cambiar mi ropa por fin.

De allí, tuve 2 días más en el barco hasta Iquitos, y seguí hasta Leticia... y no hice mucho superemocionante en ambas ciudades. Descubrí que Barack Obama ganó algo... un campionato de futból?? No sabía hasta una semana después porque estaba en esa reserva, pero alguien me lo dijo en el barco. conocí algunos otros viajeros ahí y una noche fuimos a la rumbia y había muchas prostitutas... o "chicas oportunisticas" en ese disco, y me puso bien incomodo. cuando ibamos al bar para una cerveza, nos tocaban las piernas con sus pies. después, pedí mis cervezas de una distancia mas largo del bar. Otra cosa interesante de iquitos... yo comí gusanos asados. es otra comida asco que parecería asqueroso antes de comer. parecían como maggots(??), los gusanos que comen cadáveres y cuerpos para descomponer la materia orgánica, pero parecían como estos tratando de surgir de su capullo, tenían un sabor de carbón, y me dejaron con una sensación en mi estomago que me comunicó, "acabas de comer un gusano, y aunque no tiene un sabor supermalo, tu cerebro te dice que no deberías estar contento."

En Colombia, fui al capital, Bogotá, y encontré con mis amigos Monica y Martin (de California). Ellos están realizando un trabajo voluntariado por 9 meses ahí con YMCA, y me quedé en su casa por 5 días. Fue muuy agradable a quedarme en un lugar comodo en una habitación privada despues de un mes viajando mucho y durmiendo en condiciones menos ideal. Tenía una excusa para "rascarme los huevos" porque casi todos los días había una lluvia fría y no tenía muchas ganas de salir. Pero, exploramos un poco también, una noche fuimos a un discoteca-bar... y tengo un consejo: si ves un trago se llama "Be Happy" no lo pidas. es una mescla de cerveza, vodka, tequila, ron, grenadina, gin, aguardiente, y curacao. y nada más. puede ser que estoy hablando de experiencias verdaderos, pero un de estos tragos pondrá alguien de mi estatura e estado fisico borrachisimo. quien sabía?? MÁS, tiene un sabor horrible. Pero, lo bueno es que te haga una máquina de bailar, solo necesitan preguntar las 4 chicas que bailaban conmigo, y de repente pararon y fueron.

después de esto, me fui a una ciudad se llama Bucaramanga, donde tenía una amiga (quien todavía no habia conocido) esperando mi llegada. decidí que quería CouchSurf (, un sitio de intercambio cultural), y quedarme en su casa... mientras que antes solo había encontrado la gente en un bar o café. Mi amiga nueva se llama Tania, y una vez en su casa toda su familia era tan amable que ella. originalmente, solo me iba a quedar 2 o 3 noches, pero me quedé 7, y todos los dias me pasaron lindos... conocí sus padres, 2 hermanas, enamorado y su hija, y como 12 tíos y primos... genial. me llevaron a ir de compras, fuimos a cenar, al mall!!, y a una ciudad colonial. también, toda la familia y yo fuimos a buscar una casa nueva, pero era demasiado cerca a una finca de pollos. me dormía en la casa de su novio que queda a unas 2 cuadras de la casa de tania, y en su casa estaban 4 pintores también visitando de bogotá. entonces, todas las noches, cuándo regresaba a la casa, nosotros charlabamos hasta tarde. aunque no necesitaba mucho, ellos me convencieron que colombia es un lugar hermoso para viajar. en mi último día, la madre me invitaron a comer hormigas, una delicia local. fuimos al "barrio hormiga" y compramos algunos... los comí, pero no me caen superbien. no son malos... son como maní con patitas que quedan en la garganta. y con alas. ugh. Pero... era SUPERagradable que ellos me dejaron disfrutarlos. Tania, su hermana Dina, y yo nos llevamos muy bien y agradezco haber tener esta experencia.

En mi tercer día con la familia, fue el día del acción de gracias. Tania me había llevado al supermercado la noche anterior, y nos pasa MUCHO tiempo ahí porque yo no había planeado muy bien... y si una vez has ido al supermercado conmigo ya sabes como soy en ese ambiente... y tampoco sabía todos los nombres de los ingredientes que necesitaba. ahora sí... maizena, habituelas, y .... ya olvidé. Yo Pasé 8 horas cocinando un pavo relleno, pure de papas con salsa de pavo, un fuente de habituelas y hongos. yo creo que ellos pensaban que yo era loco... como, "quien es este hombre gigante que conquistó nuestra cocina, y porque está cocinando tanto??" estaba un poco nervioso porque yo hice todo con ingredientes basicos y estaba cierto que algo habría salido malo... pero fue delicioso. llamé mi familia porque todos se habian juntado en la casa de mi tía y ellos se soprendieron cuando les dije lo que hice.

De ahí, fui a la costa del caribe en el norte de colombia por mis últimos 12 días en el continente!! Fernanda, quién había conocido en Marzo en Santiago de Chile, decidió irse y encontrar conmigo por ese tiempo, y tuvimos un timpo genial viajando juntos. Visitamos la ciudad Cartagena, un pueblito de pescadores se llama Taganga, y un parque nacional se llama Tayrona. y todo me pareció bonito! fui a bucear y snorkel, y vi algunos peses tropicales de nuevo. en el parque, mochilamos(?) en barro muy profundo hacia el mar, y durmimos en hamacas en la playa entre palmeras. Pasamos los días nadando en el agua cálido y haciendo nada en las playas hermosas comiendo frutas tropicales. Trabajo muy duro. Estaba triste tener que despedir a ella y a sudamerica... pero no puedo pensar en mejor forma de salir de un viaje así.

Estoy escribiendo esto de mi casa en Santa Cruz, California... y todo es finito! estoy feliz estar aquí con mi familia, perra, amigos, y otras cosas. por ejemplo, ahora regreso a tirar mi papel gigenico en el inodoro. también siempre hay los precios en tiendias, la mayoria de la gente respeta reglas de maejar, tengo mas de 75 litros de cosas (la capacidad de mi mochila), tengo más de 5 camisas, no tengo que temer mis duchas ya... no me van a matar con electricidad a la cabeza, y quepo en mi cama. PERO, ya no tengo la comida interesante que puedo explorar, tengo que ir mas lejos para conseguir pinta, cosas son caras ahora, tengo que poner mis huevos en el refrigerador, no escucho cumbia en buses, y no hay pollos crucando la calle. estas cosas voy a extrañar.

estuve ahí por 11 meses y un día, y supongo que aquí es donde sumo todo en un frase simple y elocuente. ja. cody elocuente en español... estamos bromeando. si te ha gustado leer estes emails, te prometo que mi experiencia (conseguir las historias que escribo) fue muuuucho mejor que leerlas. algunos piensan que estoy loco, con suerte, estupido, sin metas, cualquier cosa... pero, viajando un año así no es tan caro ni imposible como piensan algunos... y lo que gané yo es muuucho mejor que lo que habría tenido aquí en un año normal. les alento tratarlo, es un mundo hermoso en todos rincones! si quieren consejos, escribanme!

hasta el proximo,


PS: espero que pudieran entenderme bien con el idioma.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

South America 2008 #8

Stories and Volunteering. Photos Too. (9/25/08):

hola friends,

1. el versión español está abajo
(so you guys have some proof that i learned something)

2. photos/fotos (phase V are the new ones)

i thought id send an email out about my ongoings as of late. I last wrote from Cusco, Peru and i am happy to say that i got outta there and things improved greatly. I went to a city called Arequipa, which is so far my favorite peruvian city. I was there for the city's birthday so there were lots of fiestas and i had a really great time. The main reason for that was I managed to meet a lot of local people there who took me around to some of their favorite places and to where the real peruvians hang out and celebrate these days. The only problem i had with this is that i stand about a foot taller than most people here and so when they take me to a tent in the middle of a park thing where theres a live band, and im the ONLY white dude, well... yes, everybody sees me. i seem to be good at attracting a lot of old drunk men that like giving me a thumbs up and saying "california.... THE DOORS! do you surf?" either way, that weekend was fun, and i continued hanging out with the friends i made for another 2 weeks before leaving. in that time, i also did some hiking in one of the worlds deepest canyons, but for some reason it wasnt hard at all. it was strange. beautiful nontheless.

from there, i headed on a 42 hour bus voyage back south to Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina to visit friends one last time (Because i spent a month and a half in santiago and 2 months in mendoza). originally, i had planned on flying home from santiago, but everythings changed and that was basically my last chance to see them. it was really nice to see some familiar faces again and take 2 weeks in familiar places... i tried to make it a surprise for all but everybody already knew i was coming when i walked in the door. i didnt do anything spectacular other than spend some QT with the homies. i was also taken aback by the metropolitan-ness of santiago. i hadn't realized, but during my time in the north of argentina, bolivia, and peru i had gotten comfortable with a much lower standard of living and then going to santiago was pretty intense for the first few hours.

after flying to Lima, i spent 5 days there and also met some people who showed me around quite a bit. the weather sucked, but the food was great. sorry argentina, but i think i have to say that peruvian food is my favorite so far on this trip. i checked out the central market there and was pretty amazed by all the animal parts that they all eat here, and that ive never even seen. made me wanna go back to the good ol days where i ate dung stew and brains. speaking of that, i guess ill keep this up since its created so much chatter:

1. bbqued chicken hearts (good)
2. gelified cold pigs feet (horrible - tasted like a pig smells)
3. im def. forgetting something gross here

so, that brings me to my current situation. im volunteering for at least 6 weeks in this small town in northern peru called Huanchaco, its sort of known as a surf destination for a few travellers, but its mainly a fishing village for the locals, and vacation spot for other peruvians. at first i thought i was gonna be super bored here (cause i had a light work schedule) but i am really enjoying things after my 2nd week just came to an end. also, there is a high concentration of douche-y surf duds that keep trying to sell me drugs, and they are pretty much the only inhabitants in the bars (other than the volunteers). to fill my time, i have been surfing almost every day but still suck, and am working as an english teacher in a neighboring city. other than the drunk dude that couldnt even speak spanish that showed up to class last night, thats going pretty well. i have a class of 20 but its more common that 6 people show up. theres also a really nice group of volunteers here as well. i work with one other girl, but there are a few other volunteer organizations here teaching english, health lessons, or surfy things so the 8 or so of us are trying to adapt to this small town lifestyle. the other night, we made tamales at my apartment here and impressed all the locals when we told them that they were actually good.

but the main organization i work for right now is called Fairmail ( check it out. My job is to teach 10 teenagers from poor communities or without families photography, and lead the photographic excursions. right now, we are working on a "navidad" theme so i can be seen here on the beach with peruvian kids in santa hats. i get some strange looks from some of the locals... like "whats that giant red haired beast doing with all these peruvian kids in santa hats?" after all the pictures are taken, i sort through them and send the best ones in to get printed as postcards (which are sold on the website). and from there, the kids recieve half of the earnings. The kids are really great, its really fun during classtime, we joke around a lot and i sometimes help them with their english homework. my coworker is leaving after this week, so next week i start as the only teacher for the class and i have to come up with some new themes cause we've quite exhausted the navidad one... lemme know if youve got some good ideas. Also, if any of you read more about it and think its a good organization and want to donate some money to it, let me know and i can see that it gets put to some good use. you can also buy the postcards in bulk and sell them where you work or something... spread the word if you'd like. ok enough promotion.

so yeah, thats basically my life... monday and wednesday nights i teach english, and wednesday, thursday, and saturday i teach photography. inbetween that, i surf, learn to cook peruvian food, and do what i can to meet some people here. i also found a dog shelter i plan on helping out with with some of my extra time. sounds like im a bum, but im really happy with what im doing and glad to be giving back a bit... i just wish i had more time to stick around and really get good at it.

As far as the future holds... HA. i wish i knew. i will call American Airlines tomorrow to change my flight home. I think i might try to go to the ecuadorian jungle to do some volunteer work in an abused/injured animal shelter and play with JAGUARS!! if not, i found an organization that needs help tracking andean bears. From there i hope to visit colombia for about a month, but it depends on when i fly home. if i dont come home for thanksgiving, ill be there for christmas. my plan is to stop in LA for 3 days or so before going back to santa cruz, but ill keep you all posted before i actually get back.



ok amigos... ya saben el parte hasta mendoza... lo que hice en Arequipa, Cusco y no les voy a aburrir con estos. después de salir de santiago (con poco tiempo allá), fui a lima por 5 días. me lo pasó bien... en realidad muy tranquilo, pero tambien 5 días en una ciudad así no es bastante. yo conocí algunos lugares de la ciudad, y tengo ganas de volver para que pueda visitar un poco más. el mercado central tenía gallinas muertas!!! y muchas partes de animales asqueroso... el olor era malo. díos mio... hay una mosca acá que me está jodiendo.

bueno, de allá viajé a trujillo y dentro de un par de minutos estaba en camino a huanchaco para mi cita con mi "jefe" aquí. Estoy trabajando como voluntario con una organización se llama Fairmail ( estoy profesor de fotografía con ello con niños... o sea, adolecentes de orígines bien pobres. los chicos son "cheveres" como dicen acá, y nos caemos muy bien. un día tipico en la clase va así:

1. charlamos un poco sobre la tema del día, y yo trato de explicar algo tecnoloico de la cámara y como funciona.

2. vamos afuera normalmente (un día hicimos un clase de modelos en el baño como nuestra "sala oscura") y ellos sacan fotos de la tema. por ejemplo, ahora estamos con la tema de navidad, entonces yo (el gringo gigante como algunos dicen) voy con 10 chicos peruanos en gorros de papa noel en la playa y sacamos fotos interesantes. los demás nos miran como si fueramos locos a veces, pero no les importa nada.

3. regresamos a la oficina y comimos algo mientras bajan sus fotos en la computadora.
basicamente, esto es el trabajo aquí... me gusta mucho. desde ahí, los chicos hacen postales con las mejores fotos y reciben un mitad de las ganancias (el otro mitad va a los dueños holandeses). si ustedes quieren comprar algunos postales (o muchos para tu impresa) pueden contactarme. se ven los postales en la página que yo les dí.

aparte del trabajo, paso el tiempo surfeando, o intentando conocer gente aquí, pero a veces es difícil porque muchos de los chicos en la costanera venden cocaina y como yo soy un gringo, ellos piensan que es lo que quiero hacer con mi tiempo acá. También yo y los otros voluntarios aquí en Huanchaco intentamos cocinar platos peruanos... porque la comida acá es buenisima! hay muchos sabores y mucha variedad también. La otra noche, hicimos tamales verdes... mmmmmmmmm.

que más??? umm, ok... también tengo un clase de inglés! soy profesor de inglés! ha. solo es un clase de conversación pero anoche me preguntaron sobre "phrasal verbs" los cual no sabía antes... pero me explicaron lo que son, y hice una lectura corta de que significa "to get down" y "to throw up." bacán.

tendré 3 semanas más (por lo menos) aquí, y despues creo que voy al norte a ecuador. en ecuador he encontrado un trabajo voluntariado con animales de la selva, con jaguars y osos!! me gustaría trabajar con ellos, pero no sé cuanto tiempo me queda acá en suramerica... no quiero dejarles sinmigo (sin mi?) en tu continente, pero tengo que volver por el dinero en aquel momento. lamento eso día, pero echo de menos mi familia mucho.

voy a regresar a california en diciembre un día, creo. vamos a ver. ok, espero que ustedes hayan disfrutado mis noticias... voy a intentar escribirles con más frecuencia... ciao,


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

South America 2008 #7

Sick, Alone, Bug Bitten, Hungry, SOMEBODY HELP ME!!! (8/5/08):


i realize this is long, for those of you who dont wanna scroll for the link, here are my pictures. if you make it to the bottom though, its worth it. i ate poo.

its been a while. last time i wrote i think i was still in chile, it was in may or something... since then ive gone back to argentina (for the third time), up to bolivia, and now over to peru. also, my mom has come and gone, she was here for a total of 9 gloroius weeks, and kelly came down for a 2 week trip in the middle of her work but has returned to the grind as well.

so, i dont really know how to format this one, since there is a lot that happened. its gonna be a random mess of stories, but i try not to bore with descriptions of beauty and whatnot. maybe i should just tell the funny stories and list all the weird things ive put in my mouth??

anyways, mimi arrived and i met her in santiago. she got to meet the friends i had met there in the previous month and a half, and she was quick to make us a french toast breakfast that really made me appreciate breakfast in the US. we headed over to mendoza in argentina after a while and ended up staying there for 8 whole weeks (she was only going to come for 4!). we stayed with 2 families there, each for 4 weeks and it was great. we really enjoyed living with the second family a lot, we both got along with lidia and alejandro (the rents), their daughter ana and her bf diego. for some reason (well, i think its obvious) they nicknamed me "Dios," probably due to the mean flan and cookies i whipped up. or maybe it was cause i fixed the heater only electricuting myself once and ripping the socket out of the wall twice.

the school there was great too, i loved my professors and everybody that worked there. the other students at the institute werent too shabby either, and aside from the people from mendoza, i made some good friends with a few fools from around the world. i had 2 professors for the whole 8 weeks, each for 2 hours a day. it ended up to be like i had 2 friends that HAD to hang out with me and correct my grammar, and there was one week where i think the only things i learned were dirty words. luckily it was low season and i was in a more advanced class so i had a lot of classes by myself (max was 3 people), so it helped me a lot. my mom's spanish went from a 0 to an impressive 36 i would say, we were proud to see such an old woman learn something new!!

story: one sunday, i went to a thermal spa thing in the mountains (ahem, the andes), and it was going super duper. i had signed up for a massage after lunch, and it was my first one really so i was a bit nervous about what to do about being naked, etc. on the way to the massage house, i asked my friends what happens when a male has a pretty woman as his massager (cant spell masseuse) and he needs to hide his liking of her. they assured me i wouldnt have a problem and that guys are generally on their stomachs anyways. well, all of my fears went away when my masseuse was a dude... whose english sucked. and he didnt believe me that i spoke spanish, insisting on english. he told me to take off all of my clothes and to lie face up on the bed. yes, i reassured that i needed "todo" my clothes off, and he said yes. i assumed that he confused the word "up" with "down" so yadda yadda yadda and i was lying face down on the bed when he came back into the room. annoyed, he said "i said face up," so i uncomfortably turned over and felt like a beached whale must feel: vulnerable and ashamed for getting into such a stupid position. so i was doing my best to NOT make eye contact with that guy and find a place to un-awkwardly rest my hands as he was screwing around with his instruments, and after a minute or so he poked my shin and asked me to turn over cause that part was over!!! it was just a free show! AND, about 2 minutes after starting the massage, he asked me if i had any underwear to wear (since he didnt give me anything to cover myself) and i told him that everything was sitting on the floor LIKE HE TOLD ME TO DO, so he threw a blanket over my "middle section" and continued. 5 minutes later he asked me if it was my first massage, i guess it was pretty obvious i was that big of a n00b. that week at school, the girls i went with leaked the story and i had to tell it to everybody who worked there while we were eating lunch. massages suck.

anyways, other things happened there... my friends took me out dancing a lot, more than ever in my life! dont worry, i still prefer throwing rocks or something. one night, i was moving around somewhat but i was like a foot and a half above everybody, so i tried to get off of the step that i was on... until i realized that EVERYBODY IN THE CLUB was a foot and a half shorter than me. i then danced the rest of the night from my knees. the mendocinos like to stay out til 6, then hit up a hot dog restaurant til about 730 or so... so i did that a few times as well.

im only throwing this in here to make a few of you jealous, but i also went skiing in june in the andes.

finally, the time came for mimi to go back to work and i decided to move north from there. it was another tough round of goodbyes... i really liked the family, friends, and professors i had in mendoza, but i went to the north of argentina with 3 others from the institute: laura from florida, nate from tiawan/north carolina, and miles from new zealand. we rented a car for a week and toured around the deserts, and had a fantastic time. there are pictures of the beauty, and unfortunately we dont have recordings of the things that came out of miles' mouth, but they were priceless. especially when he was pissed out of his tree. we saw some really amazing rock formations in the desert up there, and our "gaucho car" performed really well (ie we beat the hell out of it and it still worked). we crossed our fingers every time we blindly forded a river and we took it over a 16,500 foot pass (where i had my first over 16k mate) that was a road of a little dirt and lots of huge rocks. im surprised it still had an oil pan when we returned it cause we only saw 4x4s up there.

on the trip, we saw some vineyards, native ruins, salt flats, llamas, y un poco de todo. one night, the guy who worked at our hostel took us midget hunting at 2 am in the hills behind town. the strategy was to throw rocks at the bigger rocks and maybe the "duendes" would come out of their hiding, or maybe they would just throw rocks at us. i didnt find any though. another night we were staying by a lake and i went outside to see the stars and the frogs sang for us a beautiful little diddy ALL night, it was quite mesmerizing actually.

from there, i was almost late to meet kelly the engineer from UCLA in la paz, bolivia... so when we got back to salta i said bye to them and hopped on a quick little 30 hour bus to la paz. for 18 hours, we averaged about 16 mph! bienvenidos a bolivia. it was alright though, the countryside was really nice so i didnt mind it too much.

kelly and i hung out in la paz, where she fell off her bike 3 times and got a black eye, horribly bruised legs, and a scraped up arm. to be fair, i guess i should say it was the most dangerous road in the world... so its actually pretty sweet i think. we told everybody that we got in a fight, and most of them believed us... i didnt know i look that mean! we ate some food that we shouldnt have, and wandered around the city a bunch, it was a surprisingly cool place i thought.
from there, we went to la isla del sol on lake titicaca and hiked around for a few days, going through some really small towns and got to witness how the restaurants of one town got its food. the children get naked and trap tiny fish in a net then dance around them as they suffocate on the sand!! needless to say, i didnt have anymore perrey. our days of 2 dollar hostels and 1 dollar 3 course meals finished as we crossed over to peru and went to cusco, where the main event was eating. we ate too much. one day i think we had 5 meals, and felt gross.

we did a 5 day trek through the mountains here, called the salkantay trail, which goes through some beautiful terrain until machu picchu. on our second day, we went over the 16,000 foot pass in the SNOW which i thought was amazing, and then descended into the jungle within hours. i'd never experienced anything like that before while walking. on the trek, there was a group of about 20 of us, and we all got along really well, it was good fun. i felt bad though, cause the company we went with hired porters and horses to do everything for us (cook, set up tents, carry bags, carry people if they were tired, etc) and i often found myself feeling pretty useless, cause im not really used to luxury camping. my version of luxury is carrying a 48 oz. can of baked beans in your backpack, or sneaking a 12 pack in your roommates backpack. oh wait, that was me. on the 5th day we arrived to the incan ruins of machu picchu thats arguably the best of them all. honestly, i had a better experience in tikal (guatemala), but its like comparing... something tubular with something bodacious. theyre both really nice, and our guide coco gave us a great tour of the place. i especially liked his discussion of the incan theology and the explanation of the incan cross thing. wikipedia it if youre bored at work.

so here i am, a little sick now cause i went to the central market and ate some more stuff i shouldnt have, but its SO good. or maybe it was the juice i bought from some kid that was a mixture of grass, and 5 bottles of something, and then something else hot. speaking of food, i made a list of the gross or interesting things ive eaten on this trip:

-llama and alpaca - great (noel, i did it for you one night and have a fat stain on my sweatshirt for you)
-bbqed cow brain (but not fully cooked) - absolutely terrible. worst thing ive ever tried.
-cow shit - horrible, but better than its brain. shit for brains? story attached below.
-cow intestines - well, i woulndt WANT to eat it, but its edible.
-somethings anus - from way back, like bubble gum with pockets of fat that explode in your mouth. really revolting.
-pig colon - pretty bad as well
-somethigns intestines (lower) - bad
-somethings intestines (upper) - nasty
-blood sausage - probably the best of the gross things. thats why ive had it multiple times.
-a guinea pig - we named him chewey for obvious reasons. felt like i was eating a rat.
-intestine soup - not bad if you dont eat the intestine part
-french fries - a staple with EVERY meal ive eaten in the last 7 months!!

the cow shit soup deserves an explanation. i wrote this to mandy yesterday, so heres a copy:

"oh, ok... the cow shit soup... heres a little explanation: i ordered this stew, adn didnt see that the first ingredient was belly. so when it came it had these weird chunks that looked like lard and onions, but with hair on it. after chewing on it i thought to myself, "this reminds me of the other sick tripe ive eaten" and, then after consulting the menu, it was. anyways, i tried to get down a few more bites, but the problem was more that the food just stunk like shit. i didnt say anything cause i thought my friends would think im gross for eating such a stinky thing, but then i couldnt take it anymore and asked the others to smell and try it. they did, and said it was sick and basically unedible. when i said it reminded me of being in a public bathroom, they agreed and said they didnt say anything cause they didnt want to tell me i was eating shit. i guess what happens is when you do your own butchering and dont know what the fuck youre doing, cleaning out the intestines is not that easy of a task... so sometimes there is shit left in the intestines. and yes, thats what happened. i had poo and belly stew, and it was horrible... but not as bad as the cow brain."

okay, well i hope you enjoyed this email. i applaud you if you are reading this far. i guess this is what happens when i dont write home often and i refuse to start a blog.

oh wait, im not done. future.

so, right now ive got 2 options for coming home. well, 3.

1. use my flight home on october 1st from santiago in chile, in which case id go back south eventually, visit friends down there, and work in the institute in mendoza

2. change my flight home to november 1st or so, and teach a photography class for 6 or 8 weeks in the north of peru to teenagers as a part of a volunteer project. this would give me a month or so to mess around here, where i would either travel or maybe work in an animal rescue sactuary in ecuador beforehand.

3. do the photography thing, but forget about my flight home and take a bus all the way home hopefully in time for thanksgiving.

ha. jealous? i dont know what im gonna do, now that im on my own im taking it easy for a few weeks and gonna figure out my plans, if youve got advice lemme know. so, once i get better im gonna get outta cusco and try to get somewhere less touristy... not sure where yet. the novelty of "traveling" is not quite the same as in the beginning, thats why im more inclined to stay in the same place just to live for a bit instead of continue seeing things.

i uploaded some pictures too of the last couple months, here you go:
pretty self explanatory.

now, i hope everyones doing well back home or wherever... ill be back sometime,


Sunday, May 4, 2008

South America 2008 #6

Argentina and Santiago Again (5/4/08):

hey all,

real quick... just got back from a super fun trip over to argentina with ken. thought id share the fotos. in other news, my mom is coming down tomorrow for a month to hang out with me and learn spanish. i came back to santiago to say hi to my friends and wait for her here. kinda changed how the photos are organized, so use the new links.



PS: here are all of them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

South America 2008 #5

News from Here (4/16/08):

hi everybody.

i just uploaded some photos for you all again, have fuñ

since i last wrote, i think i was down in puerto natales a little over a month and a half ago or something. well... lots has changed since then. i have decided to stay in south america for another 6.5 months, making the whole thing last about 9 months in total, and with this amount of time traveling is a whole different experience.

anyways, after puerto natales i went to an island called chiloe (here in chile) where they specialize in phantom like creatures. i didnt see any though, just a bunch of weird cartoons. i also ate a ton of shellfish for one meal there and was feeling a little woozy cause im not used to that much slime. it was a quiet and relaxing little fishing village where i went to the really cool art gallery you may have seen in the pictures.

from there, we went to valdivia. what i remember from that place is intestinal discomfort and large ugly sea lions. i dont really wanna talk about it.

after that the 4 of us (i was with ed, noel, and shaunak still) went to a town called pucón, which was great. i guess normally its a pretty busy summer touristy lake town, but we hit it at the end of the season so it was warm and not too crowded. we spent a few days hanging out on the beautiful black sand beaches by the lake that was a few blocks from the hostel, i went on a 50k bike ride, and i hiked up a rather large volcano. it was a pretty cool experience, but i was kind of hating my life cause i hadnt slept well the 2 nights leading up to it... so each step seemed like it was taking all of my energy by the time we were halfway up. at the top i had a very minor choke attack from the sulfur that i was breating FROM THE ACTIVE VOLCANIC CRATER MAGMA! i felt like a champ, but maybe that was cause they gave us ice axes.

after pucón, i went to a city called valparaíso which was really sweet. its got a ton of very talented graffiti artists living there, and people like me can spend days admiring the crazy drawings all over the place. the city had a ton of character, and im only able to explain it mathematically... cause thats supposedly what i do. it was like if you had the 2nd root of a quadradic integral logged naturally and then exponentially sequenced to find all the eigenvectors associated with the kernel. get it? anyways, i dont wanna bore you TOO much, but check out the pictures. i met a few friends, the 3 of us found an abandoned mansion on top of a hill with an ocean view, and inquired about buying it (i think brett really would have) but we were told that it wasnt for sale. this let us down A LOT for some reason, so we spent half of a day searching for a beautiful house to buy, with no such luck.

and now the fun part... ive spent about a month here in santiago. the boys left after 2 days, and i was ALONE IN SOUTH AMERICA!!! it wasnt so bad though, ive met a ton of great people in the last month and have been adopted into a family of 5 - 2 australians, a chilean, an argentine, and another fellow santa cruzan. ive done a ton of things here over the last 2 months... notably... played some ultimate frisbee, went wine tasting, went hiking in a crappy place, got sick from accidentally eating a gross cheese and tripe sandwich for about a week and a half, almost went home cause thumper lost her balance for a bit, had a few bbqs, walked around the city a ton, eaten avocado everyday, gotten to stay at a free hoboesque apartment with no furniture and sort of floors, and some general much needed lounging around and enjoying the company ive had... be it travellers passing through or people living here.

this past week, ive been taking some spanish courses, brushing up on my subjunctive (which sucks)... but i think im gonna take off on saturday for other parts of the conuntry/continent. ken from UCLA is coming down tomorrow so were gonna travel together for about a week and a half before he goes back home... then i might head up to peru or something. i dunno though, cause my plans change bi-daily. my hope is that i end up somewhere and volunteering while doing some sort of homestay for a month or two... either that or becoming a ski instructor down here. i cant believe they have world class skiing 20 miles from santiago.

anyways, i think thats long enough. im sure there are plenty of stories i didnt tell you about, but its okay. hope all is well, and dont forget to pet your dog CAUSE YOU CAN!!


Friday, February 29, 2008

South America 2008 #4

Cody in South America Telling Stories (2/29/08):

hello everybody,

i guess its been a while since i've written you all... i think i was in rosario, argentina last. well.... ive got quite the buildup of stories since then, but sadly none of them are of me eating any more pig colon.

first of all, for those of you who dont like reading, here is a link to my recent pictures:
and for those of you who wanna know a few stories behind them, read this:

i left that town rosario for another one in the middle of argentina called cordoba (yes, like my town in spain!) and i really liked it. i dont know why, it was pretty similar to rosario... ie not a ton of things to actually go do, but just a cool place to be and hang out. unfortunately, we stayed in this hostel that was infested with extremely stupid australian guys. they slept about 3 hours a day, then woke up and got drunk while watching movies, then stayed drunk the rest of the day, while taking illicit drugs every so often (although sometimes hot dogs would suffice if they couldnt find any), and then finally would leave around 2 AM. unfortunately, theyd come back around 5 and stay awake til about noon so we didnt sleep much either. we saw a really cool tango show there, and also amazed some of the locals with our frisbee skills again. we spent much of the 4 days there trying to enjoy the kilogram of yerba mate that we bought, but could not really get there (its an extremely strong and bitter tea like drink). one night, there was a hostel party and afterwards noel, ed, and i went out to a bar/club thing. it was really impossible to talk to people in spanish there, but watching ed get denied by an argentine girl (on my behalf) was well worth the ear splitting madonna remixes.

after cordoba, we headed to buenos aires... which i enjoyed thoroughly. there is a ton of things to do and see in the city, but since its such an international place, we didnt stand out as badly as we did, meaning we no longer got stared at as we walked down the street (which i have grown accustomed to). first off, the steaks were delicious... i was sad that shaunak is vegetarian cause he didnt get the wonderful explosion of flavor that we got. we did some touristy things there, but one of the highlights of the city was an empanada eating contest between noel and i. we decided one evening in a park that 30 empanadas each would be a decent goal over the span of an hour... but we were wrong. when we actually went and bought 60 empanadas, the bags were really heavy and we realized it was gonna be pretty impossible and how stupid we were for actually trying to go through with it. we also kind of changed it from a contest to a challenge against ourselves... anyways, we took our seats on the floor of our hostel room, and started chowing down. we kept pace with each other til about 10, at which point we were absolutely sure we were not going to get to 30. i decided i didnt want to be super uncomfortable for the rest of the night, (like that time where i accidentally ate a kilogram of pasta in croatia) so i stopped at 12 which was plenty. noel on the other hand... he went big. or, he manned up, as he likes to put it. he ate 18, and was rolling around on the floor in agony by the last one. probably not our best moments in life. a few days later we went to a soccer match at the home stadium of the boca juniors from buenos aires. supposedly, theyve got the rowdiest fans down here, but it didnt seem too bad to me, but maybe cause their team won 4-0 and everybody was happy.

aside from that, we played some ultimate frisbee with the argentine team twice there too. one day was just for some random tv segment and since the 4 of us were the best players there, they had us layout a whole bunch and stuff... so if youre in south america in a few months, try to catch it on fox vida or soemthing. the 2nd time we played with them was more fun... but they were so unorganized that we found it difficult for us to actually play well. it was cool either way, we taught some of them some new throws, and as always the ultimate frisbee community was really friendly.

after buenos aires, we headed down to the southernmost city in the world, ushuaia, argentina. it was kinda touristy, but really pretty. the closest ill be to antarctica without actually going there i guess. i went scuba diving in the freezing cold water there, and saw a whole bunch of king crabs and other weird cold sealife doing things down there. i think my favorite was actually a giant snail... imagine a garden snail like a foot long creeping around in 40 something degree water. i also went hiking and ALLLLmost saw antarctica... but not really. i looked in the direction and just saw ocean and a couple islands. its like 600 miles from there so there was no way that i was gonna actually see it. curvature of the earth plays a BIIIIIIIG effect in that whole thing. we also took a boat to a pinguinera which is spanish for penguin rookery. we watched the penguins do their thing... which was waddle, swim, squawk, and lie on their bellies... it was pretty awesome actually, they are really awkward walkers. look at my pictures.

oh. this is great. i am currently in this town with not much to do, waiting to take my flight outta here and I JUST REALIZED IT ISNT TIL TOMORROW!!! i guess ill put extra pictures up with my extra 24 hours here.

anyways, from ushuaia, we crossed into chile and went to torres del paine national park, where we did a 50 mile backpacking trip through the park. its a really beautiful place, home to some amazing rock towers. we didnt have the greatest weather, but it was superbien nonethless... and i wish i had spent my newly discovered "extra day" there rather than here. check out my pictures for a visual description of the park. we met some pretty cool people in the 5 days that we were hiking, and a few of them live in santiago and might hang out with us there.

thats about it... i guess ill go book my room again tonight at the hostel owned by the oregonian guy who will let us borrow anything if we buy him a beer (i have yet to buy him one, hah!). maybe ill go get a six pack and see if hell trade me for a bed tonight. if not, then i guess i could drink away my woes and just watch one of the many vhs tapes theyve got in stock here.

anyways, i hope all is well back home... write me and ill write back if you want


PS: i am thinking about staying down here in south america for the next 3 to 6 months to learn spanish better... and i gotta decide within the next few days. if any of you have any advice about where to go or anything like that, it all would help. seeya.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

South America 2008 #3

Photos and Some Other Stuff (2/6/08):

hey all,

well, i finally posted some photos here. if you click on slideshow, its prettier. also, you can push the little i on the photo to see the description of where or what it is.

since i left brazil, i met up with my friends Ed (biclops), Shaunak (sideshow), and Noel (kobe) in Montevideo, Uruguay while sipping on banana juice on the corner of avenida 18 de julio and concepcion. it was too easy. on our first day there, there was an epic 6 hour long parade in the street for carnival with a ton of crazy bands, costumes, dancers, and drummers. we were all jetlagged a bit from our voyage to the city (them from LA and me from Brazil)... but we managed to stay out the whole time and not really understand much of it.

From there, we went out to a beach town on the coast, where there was an ocean of brown water... mmmmmm.. but we decided to embrace the weird looking water and swim. that was about a week and a half ago and im still alive, so that makes me happy. we mostly just got caught up with our sleep and lougning there for a few days.

after that, we went back to montevideo to see more of the city, and the highlight of that trip was a soccer game. we saw the biggest match in the country between division 1 teams... they were rivals from the same city, so there was lots of passion (swearing) in the stands. before the game even started fireworks, dynamite, toilet paper, and water bottles were launched from the stands.

after that, we headed out to a little colonial town from the colonial era called colonia. its colonious to the maxxx. its actually really nice there. along with montevideo, we met lots of other foreigners (but only a couple united statesians) there, and had fun hanging out with all them. we taught an irish girl what a n00b is, and we also met a girl who is roommates with the ex captian of the UCSD womens ultimate frisbee team, who ed knows apparently. small world. one day we rented a little golf cart and took it really far away... probably outside of our boundaries, but we got to explore quite a bit of the city. we got some pretty strange looks though when 4 out of place guys cruised by on a little golf cart.

we passed some time in a few smaller towns, which was a lot of "why are you here" looks, but the people were actually really nice once we would talk to them. actually... AHEM, being the most experienced with spanish out of the four of us, i am the usual nominee for figuring everything out when it involves talking to people, so ive gotten some extra practice. shaunak and ed took high school spanish, so they can say basic things... but understand less when people speak to them. i can usually understand half the people here, its a weird accent.

another big highlight of the trip thus far has been the carnival parade we saw in gualeguaychu, argentina. there were some pretty big floats, and lots of scantily clad women (and less notably, men) dancing around in the corsodormo for like 4 hours... it was really fun. shaunak and i snuck into the front row at one point, so we got to get some prime seats. after the last set of drummers, the crowd piled into the street and we all followed singing about some political thing thats going on with uruguay about a paper factory polluting their river. i met 3 guys then... one from italy, one from switzerland, and one from buenos aires, and they really liked me cause i said id email them a picture i took of them with one of the dancers, so they kind of adopted me as theirs... buying me drinks and telling me theyd give me a ride to this club where the italian had 17 gorgeous yoga instructors waiting for us. so ed and i ended up hanging out with them for a while and ended up goign to that place which was dark, crowded, and 6 am so we didnt stay long.

the next day, we were playing frisbee near the river, and everybody was amazed with the things we could do with it. one group of people started talking to us about it, and we let them play with us. lucas threw it in the river 2 times. they were really friendly, and called their friend to bring a guitar there so ed could play us some songs... he did, along with some mate (this drink that theyre obsessed with... kinda like tea). so, we sat around with them for like 4 hours and we might see them in a few weeks in buenos aires.

and now im in rosario. its quaint.

hope everyone is doing stupendously,



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

South America 2008 #2

Long E-mail about Brasil (1/23/08):

hey everybody

well.... here is installment number one of my first journey to the southern hemisphere, and so far so good. since i left the US, ive been staying in a town called florianopolis in brazil. i came here to visit carolina... for those of you who dont know, she was an exchange student at my high school my senior year and we've remained in touch over the past 6 and a half years. So, she's been taking me around the city and island a lot... and ive gotten to know her friends and family well. well, as well as one can in 2 weeks. well.

her brother was out of town for the first 9 days i was here, so i got his room. hes back now, but i still get his room!! such hospitality. since ive been here, i have felt like i was abroad in spain all over again... everybody talks to me like a baby. slow and no big words. sometimes i just stare back at them not knowing that its my turn to respond. carolinas mom and grandma has made countless wonderful meals for me, made my bed a lot, doesnt let me do the dishes, washes my clothes, drives me around if i need to do something, etc. the only thing is that her parents and i are never able to say exactly what we want to each other. her parents know portugese, some spanish, and a very little english from what they watch in movies. i know english, some spanish, and 0 portugese. at this point i know about 0.0003 portugese. so, they speak in portugese first, then spanish, and if i STILL dont get it, theyll try english... and between all 3 of these and lots of body language, we've actually been able to communicate pretty well. we've had discussions about osama bin laden's son, the state of nuclear waste disposal in the US, brazilian oil reserves, the differences between barack and hillary, how the electoral college works, the bear attack on the JMT, and such as. i also taught them a little about ultimate frisbee.

some notable things ive done here: i had a homemade brazilian bbq, went to a concert with the brazilian version of gloria estefan, got some brazilians to jowl a little bit, went sandboarding down huge sand dunes, bodysurfed, got sunburned, played poker with the neighbors (and lost 20 bucks), took a boatride to "dolphin cove" where, yes, i saw dolphins, listened to carolina, her brother, mother, and father sing a concert in their living room at 1am, went out to dinner with her uncle who is an EXACT replica of dustin hoffman (but doesnt speak a ton of english), and acted stupid when people assume im brazilian and try to talk to me.

carolina introduced me to many of her friends here (many of whom were also on vacation from work or school, cause its summer here)... and its been really great getting to know them. not only have i met many of her friends, but her family too. the family bond is a lot stronger here in brazil, and so parents know the children and their friends really well. all of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live here in florianopolis too. when her friends come over here, they can spend more time talking to her parents than to carolina. sometimes the parents are around when were hanging out at the beach or something too. they took me over to her grandparents for lunch a few times... and her grandma makes a mean meatloafy thing. carolina had to go to work for a few days (she works in a different city) so ive been hanging out at her house with her parents and brother. a few days ago, he took me to his girlfriends grandparents beach house where i taught one of them how to do flips over waves, we played uno, spoons, and a volley-soccer-tennis game.

the island that ive been on is beautiful... wonderful beaches, green almost jungly hills everywhere, cows roaming around, crazy drivers, and good food. its like santa cruz in the sense that its one of the BEST places on the coast to visit. the people ive met have been great too... many of the ones that dont know english still do their best to talk to me. ive had some down time here at the house during my stay, but to me its not really down time, i have fun talking to the rents. all in all, a fantastic 2 weeks... its too bad that im so freakin old now that i cant be an exchange student again and stay longer (i bet theyd let me), but everybody would ask why that old gringo is living in brazil, and why he doesnt have a job.

im now off to uruguay on an 18 hour bus ride to meet up with ed, shaunak, and noel to begin our 7 weeks of uruguayan, argentinean, and chilean adventures. guys, if you read this and havent left the US yet, can you bring me some airborne?

hope all is well back home or wherever you are, for those of you who live vicariously through my trips... ill send some more and hopefully some pictures in a few weeks probably.


Friday, January 4, 2008

South America 2008 #1

Going to South America (1/4/08):

Hi friends, family, etc...

This is my list of people who I'll send a few mass emails to during my 2 1/2 months in South America. If you want off, lemme know.

Also, I don't have ANYONE's address... so if you send me yours before I leave (in a week) I'll write it down, bring it with me, and maybe write a postcard or two... otherwise you're stuck with email. I'm pretty sure they'll all just have pictures of llamas or something.

Lastly, for those of you who don't know... I moved out of LA last week and came back up to Santa Cruz for the next while. I probably won't end up back in Southern California, but I guess its possible. I'll be in LA right after my trip (march 18th - 22nd ish) so any of you who will be free let me know. Sorry to those people that I LIED to and said I would be down there for my birthday, I had to make some very expensive changes to my travel plans. Anyways, its always nice to hear from you all while on the road so feel free to respond when I send something out.

Always here to make you jealous,