Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our time in Puerto Lopez has been pretty eventful... we celebrated Orin's 22nd birthday yesterday, but as he really doesn't like to make a fuss about it it turned out to be one of the most low key days here! Much lying in hammocks and drinking gnarley cheap tequila that somehow Rylie convinced me to buy even when I had a bottle of Jose Cuervo in my hands. Rylie... and the sombrero and scarf the tequila bottle was wearing around it's neck. How could I resist?

We have gone snorkeling a couple of days here. The first day we just rented some shoddy gear for a couple bucks and walked to some nearby cliffs and swam around below them. Wasn't great water clarity, but we didn't see some really cool fish, as well as a turtle shell that took some examining and excavating to bring up to the surface. Turn out half the rotten turtle was still inside and it wreaked to high heaven. Good times.

The following day we took a tour out to an island that is about an hour and a half boat ride away. It is nicknamed the cheap man's gallapagos, and it didn't dissapoint. On the way there we ran into a pod of three baby humpback whales! They put on a great show, and swam quite close to us, slapping their big ass tails and blowing water everywhere. Everyone was really excited that we ran into them! When we pulled up to the island there were massive ancient turtles swimming around our boat. We saw all of those things that you see in the gallapagos island pics, and paid 1400 dollars less. Sweet. We saw many boobies, of all shapes and sizes. We did not get to fondle them, which was a little dissapointing all around, but Orin did throw out enough jokes for me to get tired of them... though he never did. We also saw this crazy bird that has a bright red flap of skin under its chin, and when it is trying to pick up a certain lady he prances in front of her, blowing this thing up to epic proportions! The lady, boring and brown as anything, of course, sat alone on a tree ignoring four or five males flouncing around her. That was really cool to see, and there were quite a few of them. After the island walk, where we viewed all the birds, they took us to a bay where we snorkeled for a while looking at all the awesome fish. Unfortunately, I got stung on the nipple by a baby jelly fish. Ouch.

Today we took a bus out to a really beautiful beach in the park, and spend the day lying in the sand and playing in the waves. We had a great time getting smashed into the sand by the ocassional massive wave, and one of the greatest moments of the week was watching Rylie swim for a wave, dissapear, and then unearth a couple seconds later naked and gasping for air, arms flailing on the beach. I laughed so hard for so long, even choking on salt water couldn't stop me. It was great.

Rylie just got an email from the embassy that he should try to go back to the border and get a stamp, otherwise they will be creating ¨issues´between the Canadian and Ecuadorian government. ¨War Breaks out in Ecuador due to Unruly Canadian Immagrant¨. Great. When we were talking to the Embassy in Quito they assured us that it wouldnt' be a problem. Well... better knowing now than later.

Thanks for the comment mummy, and don't worry, I feel no shame that the only person who loves is my's better than not even my mom loving me. Haha.

Rachelle!! I can't wait to see you! How is your pad working out? And are you selling more art? Zoe was telling me about a certain vulgar painting of yours that she is hoping to buy from you at what seems like a steal of a price. How are you ever going to make money that way? Haha. I hope that you are prepared to decorate the walls of my house as well! Send me an email or a facebook message and tell me what' going on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quito to Coast

We spent a good five days in Quito doing very little, which was quite nice. Rylie did quite a bit more than Orin and I, as he spent many a hour at the Embassy trying to work out his passport problem. On friday afternoon he returned to the hostal with a fresh shiny white passport, still missing the Ecuadorian enterance stamp. Even though he was standing right in front of the immigrations officials, they still won't aknowledge his presence in the country. They seemed very confused.... how are you here? How did you get in our country? hmm....
Anyways, in Quito we cooked up tons of delicious food in the tidy kitchen, and reveled in all the food we have been missing for quite a while... cream cheese, salsa and sourcream and refried beans with chips, feta etc.... we also mixed up a bunch of really tasty smoothies in their blender... man I wish I carried around a magic bullet on my travels. We checked out old town and climbed up some extremely tall towers of an oddly new gothic church, which resulted in me having a minor panic attack when finding myself alone at such great heights. We also took a two hour bus ride out to some really nice hot springs, and spent the evening lounging in the twenty differently temperatured pools. There was also a sauna but it was depressingly lukewarm. In the end we sat by a dirt road playing cards in the rain, until we decided that we should do something with our lives and asked some people in the nearby hotel about the bus... and good thing we did because the bus doesn't return that same way. They turned out to be really nice people, one speaking decent english, and offered us a ride home in the back of their pick up....we were immediately in. It was a much shorter ride back as he drove at breakneck speed, and we spent the time playing Í'm going across Canada and i'm going to bring....' until they dropped us off less than two blocks away from our hostal. Perfect.
We also hit up the Quito Casino, which was really fun. Spent about 10 bucks in over an hour playing black jack, at some points having almost doubled my money, and got a free beer out of it too. Never having played the game in a casino before, much more confusing with the bets and stuff, wasn't too much of a problem as the rest of the people at the table proved to be really nice and helpful.
So now we are on the coast, hoping to go scuba diving and such... but it is really quite expensive.... Nothing will ever live up to the cheapness of Honduras... so we will see what happens. We only have a couple weeks left now.. which is very strange, planning out the final stages of our trip. I guess that is all I have to say.. If this blog is a little disjointed my excuse is that Rylie is on the phone right now with Jana talking about all the juicy summerland gossip and it is hard to pay attention. Did you know Clinton is living in a tree house? Well now you do.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Alright! Friends and family! I have returned, five years older, but ten years wiser. Perhaps.

Our week in Huanchaco was a great time. We managed to get in a decent ammount of surfing, one day getting two boards and two wetsuits and sharing so that everyone could surf, and everyone could lie on the beach. It was a really good time watching Rylie fit into my little womens sized Billabong wetsuit. Style and grace, my friend. We had a good run of sunny days, and somehope that jerk Jordan managed to out tan me extrodinarily. I am not suprised, just angered.

We packed up for Chiclayo a couple of days before Jordan's flight. We arrove to find that very few white people come to this town, and we were quite a spectacle apparently. Upon arrival we were surrounded by gawking locals, and kids followed us through the mall to the taxis, until they finally got the courage to yell out 'goodbye!' when we pulled away. We found a nice little hostal run by some really nice people, and settled in unknowlingly for an long stay. We ate Chinese in a place that we weren't sure we were welcome: their first question was where are you from, but they seemed satisfied with our Canadian response... we are not sure what they would have said if we were American. They disappeared for a bit but did return with menus, so we ate awkwardly while the whole family next to us stared at us blatantly, one kid actually vacating his chair so that he could stand nearer and stare. Weird.

Early that morning I fell sick and was sick all the next day. It was very unpleasant, but luckily we were in a decent place with our own bathroom, so I could mourn my nausea in peace. During the day the boys went to the market, returning with crazy live animal stories, making me very glad I didn't try to go. That evening Jordan was all packed and there were hugs all around and then he jumped in a taxi and was gone. It was really weird for the first little while, feeling like something was missing. It was good to hear that Jordan made it home and didn't get the sickness!

That night I woke up dioriented hearing terrible things happening in the bathroom, and looked over to find Orins bed empty. He got terribly sick for a couple of days, lying on his bed moaning, having trouble sleeping and visiting the bathroom frequently. Having the history of Clare, Zoe and I all get stomach infections in El Salvador, I was pretty sure that this was what he had, so we started him on antibiotics. It's pretty damn normal to get a stomach infection when you go for lengthy travels, eating street meat and taking all sorts of chances. Definately worth it, though you don't think so when you are at your lowest. The pills have been working really well and I was so happy to see him sitting up the next day, even having a bit of an appetite. Only a couple days left on the antibiotics and he is doing really well now, which I am very grateful for!

In the end we were holed up in that hostal room for 4 days before everyone felt safe enough to head north, so we took a relatively short bus ride to Mancora, a touristy beach resort type place. The kind of town that always has change. Unfortunatley, Rylie managed to lose his moneybelt on the bus ride there, leaving him out some bucks and passportless!!! We were only an hour and a half away from the border... so close! And Lima is 14 hours away from Mancora!! Rylie picked up a police report, which they claimed would get us past the border, but we were all filled with doubt. We spent two nights in Mancora, but only one full day. It was a hot sunny day, and we spent it on the beach and in the water. Beautiful! The next day we decided to take our chances at the border... which we really, really did.

We headed out around 1 to Tumbes, the supposed border town. Immediately off the bus we had a group of men hounding us to take us to the border. One man was especially pushy, but a sweet talker too. He told us all the information we need to know: it was 2 soles each to the border town, Agua Verdes, which was still 15 or so min away. He also weaseled the passport problem out of us and told us he had a friend at immigration. None of us felt quite right about him, as he kept on grabbing my bag and saying 'let's go' everytime we nodded at something he said. Eventually we agreed that we would take an innocent ride with this guy to the border than wave goodbye. We jumped into his mototaxi and he drove us a block down the street, stopped, and told us we had to get into this unmarked hatchback. He loaded all our bags in as we wondered what the hell was going on. Six or seven big guys had come over and surrounded the vehicle, opening the doors etc, and one guy got in the front, while another guy got in the trunk with our bags..... No, we said. No way this is happening. This is a set up for jumping us, and we have enough problems on our hands as it is. So we grabbed our bags and headed to leave, but the guy said hey, hey, just get back in the moto and I'll take you to the border. No big deal. So unenthusiastically we put our bags back on the moto, and were unhappy to see the same guy jump in the back with them. Just wanting to get there and anxious to see what would happen with the passport, we relented and headed off.

It turned out to be quite a drive to Aguas Verdes on that moto, and half way the driver and the guy in the back switched positions. Now it made sense. We came to immigrations 10 minutes before the town, something that you would not notice unless you were pointedly looking for it. Orin and I made it through first, no problem, and waited outside for him. One guy was in the office with Rylie 'helping', and the other dude kept on trying to herd us back into the moto. This was really pissing us off, as we kept on stubbornly telling him that we wanted to wait there for our friend. I felt uneasy, so I went to check up on Rylie, and found him mid action handing money over the authority. Knowing he was bribing him and wouldn't want a witness I ducked around the corner til he left, and popped my head in. I asked Rylie if he was okay and he barely responded me, mumbling some shit I couldn't hear. Then the driver told me I had to go, I couldn't be there. I asked Rylie again more firmly and he assured me he was okay, but I knew something wasn't right. After a bit more waiting outside Rylie finally appeared. He barely replied to our questions of what happened, and just wanted to get out of there. We found out that the officer had taken 100 american dollars from him, giving Rylie no choice, almost taking it by force. He was pretty damn angry and I kicked myself for letting the driver push me out of the room, as I have some experience dealing with authorities and people trying to extort me. Rylie was in a 'lets not talk about it let's just get this over with' sort of mood, so we got back in the moto and went to the border town on the other side. The driver turned down a sidestreet, and I started getting nervous. I got more nervous when he parked beside a bunch of run down semi trailers in a corner that very few people could see unless they were right there... and the only people who were right there were about 10 dudes staring at us from all around. It was really, really sketchy. It was that terrible situation that you don't want to be in. Somehow we were. The driver told us that we had to walk around the corner and it was the border. We told him to take us there. He told us it was right around the corner and we had to walk. Some dudes were moving in. Then he told us that we owed him 36 soles. A far cry from the 6 soles he had told us earlier. I had begun arguing with him, telling him I didn't mind to pay a bit more because it was a long drive, but you can't just lie to people like that when Orin and Rylie interrupted me, telling me that we had to ditch. And they were exactly right. The situation was getting exponentially more threatening so we shoved the money in his hands, when we really just wanted to punch him in the face, and sped out of there. A block away we saw some cops and women and children and relaxed, so relieved that we had got out of that situation unscathed.... kind of wondering how. We rounded the corner to see the elating sight Welcome to Ecuador!!!

We walked across the bridge to Ecuador... and there was no immigration. Right. Great, we found out it was another 10 minute drive down the Pan American highway to immigrations. We walked a block away from the yelling hoardes of taxi drivers and vendors to have a little peace, and caught a taxi there. At immigration, again, Orin and I got through no prob, no questions, no bag checks, nothing, but he refused Rylie. I ran my mouth off for ten minutes trying to convince him to let us in, we had a copy of the passport, we had Id, we had a police report, we had entry stamps, we had pretty much all you can get without having an actual passport. This was not enough. We got a taxi back, and Rylie made a really ballsy decision. We bought bus tickets to Quito. We were smuggling an illegal immagrant across the border from Peru to Ecuador. Great..... All in all we had a damn good cover story. Any one asks, Rylie got his passport stolen in Ecuador, and we are heading to Quito to get a new one. I was absolutely terrified that we would get pulled over at that exact same immigration office, and that dude would come on the bus and throw us in an Ecuadorian prison to rot for the rest of our lives. Unlikely, but valid. Or just something would go wrong and we would lose Rylie to some quick speaking authority. We got on the bus and headed out of town. We were rolling down the Pan american when we pulled over to the side of the road, and I looked out the window to see my greatest fear had been realized. We were parked outside of that god forsaken office, and I started to pray. We sat there for what seemed like eternity, every second fearing that that dude was going to bust through the door and pistol whip Rylie in the face, and arrest me for being an accomplice. Yes... I was panicking people. Finally I felt the bus jump, and we gently rolled out of the parking lot. I was still nervous that an official was in the front talking to the driver, which has definatley happened before, but it was not so. We were elated. Our greatest hurdle had been jumped. We celebrated... too soon. Fifteen minutes later we pulled over again, and everyone was herded off the bus. Bring you passport, he said. We got out, formed a line, and he almost waved Rylie past when and involuntary umm escaped from his mouth before he realized what was happening. I cringed. 'Pasaporte, por favor´. Rylie started to mumble something about leaving it in a bathroom, but the guy didn't quite understand. He turned to me and asked me where Rylie's passport was. I needed no skill acting completely upset as I explained that we had a big problem, he lost his passport so we were on a bus to Quito to the embassy. He studied me for a moment, then broke into a 'hey, what the hell' smile, and let it go. I squeezed him gratefully on the shoulder and thanked him profusely. I love that man. We got back on the bus and were sooooooooo relived that this lie worked, and we were finally scott free, on our way to Quito.

The bus ride wasn't too bad, though I literally screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO when a pirated version of LITTLE MAN (NOO!!!!) appeared on tv. Volume cranked. Why! I immediately put on my headphones and cranked my music to an ear damaging volume (not nearly as damaging as watching little man yet again..) and tried to avoid being drawn to the blinking light seduction of that evil machine. Poor Rylie doesn't have music, so just ended up watching it. He too agreed it is the worst movie in the world.

Well, we got into Quito this morning, and found ourselves a really nice hostal to relax in. Rylie has spent most of the day at the embassy. 15 days to get the passport! Damn! We are hoping he can get a temporary passport so that we can dip into Colombia. We will see. Anyways, that is enough from me now. I will be seeing you all very, very soon. Only three more weeks!!! Oh my.... Love and miss you all tons, and don't worry... I have regained my sanity as fully as it ever has been.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sky to sea

The day after the big Machu Picchu climb we were all worse for wear, and sometimes were a bit of a funny spectacle limping around and helping eachother out. We got kicked out of our room at 10, so just hung around eating breakfast until our guide returned with our Id's and train tickets. We were a little nervous about this fact as we were being seriously hounded by the hostal owners, who thought that our second night was not included in our tour, which it was. After some random spanish discussing and a call to the agent who sold us the tickets, who had no other vocal tone other than screaming, we were scott free, and our tickets showed up contrary to our doubts, just before noon. We were so glad to be pulling out of the nice but tourist extorting town of Aguas Callientes, on time, ID's in hand.

The drive down was not nearly as horrendous as the drive up, as I scored a shared front seat and just popped a gravol as soon as we took off. The only thing that slowed us down was a rock slide on the road, which found Orin, Jordan and Rylie pushing a rock flinging van across the rubble in sandals, as a bunch of fully shoed onlookers stood by. It was awesome. We arrove to Cuzco in the dark, and had a bit of a hard time trying to find a place to stay, but eventually found a cool attic dorm room, and a decent shower. I was somehow coerced into visiting Mcdonalds Cuzco, where you find some of the most educated in town manning the till with their bilingual skills. Salty as all hell, and leave you feeling like crap after. Quite tasty, really.

The next day we hopped on the afternoon bus, which was harder than it should be. There were probably 40 seperate bus companies in the station, and most of them have a dude that will run out yelling all their destinations, and trying to convince you to take their companies. Lots of old pictures of buses, taken when they were new, and exaggerations are thrown around, and you have to be able to discern which may be true. We found the cheapest and still decent company, and got on. It was a decent bus, but this was another twisting pass through the Andes, which is always extremely windy, and either straight up or down. Not sleep promoting, at all. Orin had a particularily terrible night, and when I fell asleep in the early morning, I was woken a couple hours later, being told that we missed the town, Pisco, so we decided just to keep on trucking, instead of backtracking an hour, and go to Lima, then a northern beach. We stopped in Lima for a couple hours, a little repulsed by all the pollution you saw hanging heavy in the air. Soon we were on a 5 hour bus to a beach.

We arrove at Casma around 8 at night, after a hefty run of buses. The Pan American is pretty dope, so the buses up the coast are quite pleasant. The scenery is not very enticing, as it is mostly dunes, but still pretty neat. Hungry as we were, we decided to head out to Tortugas, the beach near Casma, and get some food there. We called ahead to make reservations for a place that looked sweet, and caught a collectivo out. We arrove to find absolutly no life in this small town around the bay, and were really beginning to doubt our being able to find an open restaraunt. We were dropped off at our hostal, then discovered it was not the number we called, but the name. We had not reservation and it cost twice as much. Being the only place open in town we stayed... our car was gone.... but I still wonder what place we called and was expecting the four of us all night. hmm..We did manage to find a restaraunt that would feed us, and then off to bed, as their was nothing else to do.

The next day we packed our bags, and walked down the the main 'area', where the collectivos left from. There was about 3 or 4 vendors, all with some fruit and bread and snacks, and we bought 4 huge avocados, an onion, a tomatoe and some lime, and 12 buns, and went crazy. It was some of the best guac we've made the whole time, sitting on the edge of the beautiful bay, watching the pelicans tuck and fall into the water. We went back to Casma right after, and went and visted some ruins.. which were kind of lame, supposed to have pretty crazy brutal drawings of `evisceration´on the wall.... but none of us knew what that was and even after seeing the drawings it wasn't very clear... but there were lots of hornets and little bugs that left big bites. What we did see that was cool was the legendary hairless Peruvian hotdog, which is pretty bad ass looking and creates excessive body head, so it hot to the touch. Sweet. Also all four of us rode in a two man motorcart, me sitting on a metal bar beside the driver, ripping down the PanAmerican at 70, passing the highway cops with a wave.

That day we caught an awesome old muscle car to a nearby town, where we could get a cramped bus to our current haven, Huanchaco. Huanchacho is an amazing beach town, with some really great waves and some fantastic surfers. We've rented some boards and have put in a couple of really awesome days surfing. Orin seems to be quite adept to it, and is impressing us all. It has an amazing street meat scene, and I get shiskabobs and stuffed potatoes almost every day. There is also an out of this world bakery that is fatenning us up with apple pies, apple turnovers, and peach deliciousness. Our hostal is a really nice place with a rooftop that is very nice to hang out on. We have been here for a week now and it is a great place. We checked out the nearby ruins called Chan Chan, and they were really amazing. Getting a tour guide was really worth it, as he explained all the symbolism behind the art, which we never would have been able to figure out ourselves. Well... that sums it up. We are just taking it easy here, there have been many cheers, and beers and sun, and surf. We are so glad to be back at the beach, and I am hoping to get a tan worthy of travelling in South america for over 4 months!! haha.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Machu Picchu

Alright... all the way back at Macchu Picchu.. what can i remember...

We got up around 430, and luckily had been smart enough to prepare everything the night before. Our bags were stuffed with bread, avocado, onion, bananas, passionfruit, oranges and chocolate. We had been told by both our guide and the woman at the tourist office that we would be allowed to bring in food, but when we got our ticket the evening before, post food buying, it clearly stated you could not enter with any water or food. That was absolutely ridiculous. I hate tourist traps like that, it is such a scam. Nonetheless, we decided that we would bring it all up anyways and just hope for the best. The hike up was ruthless, as we picked our way up the old Incan stairs in the dark. The moonlight lit our way, and the only time it was hard to see was when people came by with their flashlights blazing and ruined your night vision. After about an hour and a half we came huffing up to the gate of Machu Picchu, which already had quite a line formed behind it. They had just begun letting people in when we arrove, and saw numerous people turned back for having water (seriously....) and food in their bag. Nervous but not giving up we made our way to the gate, and miraculously picked the right line and wizzed by while listening to the girl on the other side protesting about how she didn't want her bag checked. Guilty for sure.

Once into Machu Picchu we immediately crossed to the other side of the ruins and got in another line... this time to make a reservation so that we could climb up Huanupichu, the towering mountain that you see lurking in the back of pretty much every Machu Picchu picture. They only let 400 people climb it per day, and because we showed up early we managed to get a reservation for the second wave, going up at 10. Relieved, all of our worries of food and reservations gone, we climbed up to a little house on a hill and sat down, relaxing and taking in the beautiful view while we waited for the sun to rise, all the while sneakily eating bananas. It was a lovely sunrise, quite late in the morning, as it rose over a huge mountain, part of the daunting landscape that Machu Picchu is set in. We hung out for a while, looking at the ruins and taking pictures, when we realized that we missed the start of our tour, and thinking we could see our guide and group, we walked over to where they were. Unfortunately this was not him, but we sat in for a while, learned some things, and then started our own little adventure. We explored for a couple hours, ocassionally dropping in on other tours, and spent a good amount of time hanging out with the Llamas that roam all around Machu Picchu, much to tourist delight.

Around nine nature called and we had exit Machu Picchu to use the bathroom, where we decided we might as well eat our first avocado sandwich, as we had already been up for over 4 hours and it was pretty much our lunch time. Walking back to the gate we here a very daunting statement ´Where is my ticket? Has anyone seen my ticket?!?´. This statement dropped from the mouth of a Rylie Johnson, and was no joke. He searched around ferverously for a while, checking every where his ticket could possibly be, even the garbage can, and was unable to find it. We were all very worried. The tickets cost 50 american, and even if we had the money to buy a new one, they don't even sell tickets at Machu Picchu anyways! Many vulgarities spewed from many mouths, and we walked up to the gate, ready to try our last option. We told the woman our problem, she said 'uh oh' and stared at us. Uh oh was right. Well was there anything that we or she, or anybody could do!! Well.... she paused...... do you have any pictures of him in there. YES!!! YES WE DO!!! I yelled in excitement, and busted out my camera, turning it on to a picture of a llama. ´That's not him´she said. ´almost´i replied. She laughed a little, I found a picture of Rylie hanging out by a ruin, and she stamped his wrist and let him in. We all laughed hysterically in relief, slapping eachothers backs in glee. It was awesome! We walked over to Huanupichu, our second hurdle, and even managed to explain our way into getting Rylie in without his reservation (which was clipped onto his ticket). We were so happy as we began that climb, barely able to believe that it had all worked out so well!

The climb up Huanupichu was really intense, with many abruptly steep stairs beside plummeting cliffs. Luckily, unlike the Inca's, we had a big metal rope, secured into the rock on the extra sketchy areas, to cling to. After a lot of effort we arrove at the top, completely out of breath, but any breath we did have was taken away by the amazing view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. We sat and rested, creeping on people through Jordans massive zoom lens, and eating more illegal bananas. The view of Machu Picchu was not the only amazing thing concerning Huanupichu, as it had some amazing Incan work on it as well. Amazingly steep areas of the mountain had all been terraced, some with strawberries growing on it. I ate one and then Orin scared me by telling me that I was probably going to die, and then my paranoia kicked in and I realized it was a very foolish thing to do, eating jungle fruit as far away from a hospital as I could possibly be, but luckily my rationality stopped me from incuding vomit, and only left me glaring at Orin for egging me on.

At the very top of the mountain we found a path leading down to the ¨Great Caves¨, which we had seen met back up with the main trail, and we had planned to go see it on our way down anyways, so we just decided to take this alternate route. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We went down, and down, and down, into a burning ring of fire. We went down down down, and our water got lower. And it burned burned burned, that ring of fire, that ring of fire (being the scorching mid day sun, that happened to be glowering on that side of the mountain.) The stairs seemed to go down forever, much farther than I thought we had to go to meet back up with the path. We were also very, very low on water, and realized that we were not prepared to be lost in the jungle. Finally, we reached the great cavern, which was not so much great, as a waste of our time, water and energy. It also turned out that we had hiked down so far, that we then had to go way the hell back up. It was a long way back, and many many stairs, and we had very little water. I was soooooo thirsty and tired from all the stairs already, and was regretting this adventurous decision. We were well out of water and hope when we finally reached the trail head, and collapsed with happiness! There we met a Machu Picchu official, who was combing the trails, telling us we were the last people in there and it was closing, so we had to leave. No problem with us, and we bombed our way out of there, to collapse onto the grass of Machu Picchu.

By this time it was about 3 in the afternoon, and the park closed at 5. We knew that there was one more thing that we really wanted to see, which was the Incan draw bridge, which Rylie had read was really awesome, and had crazy cliffs on both sides of it. Cool. We sent Jordan the mighty to go get us some water, and he returned with two tiny bottles, at 8 soles each!!! Holy crap! You can usually get two litres for 3 soles. What a rip. (rant time....) I absolutely hate when they set up these tourist traps so sneakily and with such clear intent. To part us with as much money as possible! Okay, so you are charged 50 american for enterance, where you are not allowed to bring in food or water (which if we hadn't snuck it in would have resulted in our dead corpses being removed from the mountainside of Huanupichu), and then they charge you 3 or 4 times the price of what anything is worth. Not to mention they charge you for the bathroom as well. Could that not be included in the exorbatent ammount of money you have to pay to enter? It is just not fair.

So jordan came back with enough water to wet our lips, as these bottles were TINY, but spent enough to keep us hydrated for a week. We then commenced the fairly easy hike to the Inca bridge, which turned out to be pretty lame. It was kind of just a piece of wood leaning over some stones. It was all well enough though, because we sat down in peace and ate an avocado sandwich. We then hiked back and exited the park on of the last to leave. First to arrive, last to leave, it was a very full day of Machu Picchuness. Once again, insulted by the overpriced busses we walked our weary legs down the mountain home. Orin and I took the road as my knee was really bugging me, and when dark fell we had our own personal show by lightening bugs. It was really beautiful.

That evening we went to the hot springs, which were just some scummy looking pools up in the town, but really felt good on our sore muscles. We hung out there for half an hour until the power went out and left us sitting in the dark. The mountain was covered in lightening bugs though, so we got another cool little show, and were happy that jordan and rylie got to see them too. We carefully rinsed off in the dark, changed, and wandered our way back into town for dinner and a delightful sleep. It felt soo good getting into bed that night, and I knew that I would be sore as hell tomorrow.

Well.... the dude at the computer shop is hungry and kicking us out for lunch! Bye

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sooo.... It has definatley been a while since I wrote, and have gotten a few notes of concern so I will fit in as much as I can before we run off to a grand 24 hour bus ride.

The whole crew it here now. Jordan arrove bagless, which turned out to be a bit of a pain in the ass but after some work we managed to get it back. They forwarded it to Cuzco, which helped us out a lot, as we really didn't want to hang out in Puno for any longer than we had to. It is the dirtier, uglier brother of Copacabana, and is missing the esential soul of goodness, which is trout. And it's twice as expensive. So we did a bit of resting up, the boys got over their jet lag and we jumped on a bus to Cuzco.

We hung around Cuzco for a while, being hounded by the unlimited sunglass vendors and blanket sellers, who refuse to take no for an answer, and wondered why everything is in English, which is also the predominant language on the street. As much as I need them, I loathe tourist towns. We booked a tour up to Machu Picchu for the amazing price of 130 American, for a three day two night tour. We got really lucky with this, as Machu Picchu is amazingly expensive. The bus ride up there was absolutely insane, and a serious challenge to the overly publisized Death Road in Bolivia. We survived and didn't get a lame ass tshirt from it, though I did get a harsh case of car sickness and had to get the bus driver to pull over so I could lay on the sparingly cold grass an try not to vomit. I suceeded, though just barely.

This road was aboslutely insane, as was the driver, who though he knew the road well, was definately a road warrior and was one of those that had a lead foot until about 5 meters from a corner, and then slammed on the brakes. A sure cure for nausea..... It climbed high up into the mountains, raging along the road that had steep cliffs dropping down into green valley's. There were probably a hundred switchbacks, compelte 180 turns that allowed up to climb us such steep mountainsides, leaving me a quivering pile of nerves and illness. Before most blind corners the driver would let out a honk and flash his lights, notifying whatever other maniac was veering towards us on the other side. There were definatley a number of close calls.The one slightly redeeming factor was that it offered amazing views of the plummeting valley's below.

I made it without dying or hurling my body out the window, and we packed our stuff out and onto the train, which was quite fun. We all stuck our heads out the window taking in the view, and after a fairly short train ride arrove at Aguas Callientes, where we were shown to our Hostal by our tour guide. It was a pretty nice place, and we had some good, if exhausted, sleeps there. All in all it took us about 10 hours to get there. We ate our free dinner, set the alarm for 4 20am, and went to bed.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Goodbye Bolivia

On Friday night we were alone in Copacabana. We drowned our sorrows (even though it, as usual, was really nice to be back to the basic) in trout. Beautiful, lovely Trout. Copacabana was filled with rich Bolivians and Peruvians, all coming to party for the Labor Day weekend. At the beach they were renting out dirt bikes to rip up and down a dirt road and a bit into the mountians. I won't lie, we were very much tempted by these machines, but resisted, as there were a hundred drunken dudes already sharing the road with speeding buses and trucks. Also the bike we were offered was a little sketchy and missing a passenger foot peg. After weighing the risk of smearing our brains all over the road we decided to withhold until Canada, where Orin has his lovely dirt bike waiting for him.

That evening there was a big parade, which consisted of a group of women, followed by a group of men, followed by a marching band, all dancing slowly down the street. Two steps forwards, one step back. It was a long parade... haha. There were a lot of old folks dancing in this parade, many looking as though they weren't going to make it. One elderly guy, covered in sweat, busted out beside us and left. I have a feeling that this happens all through out the parade. The marching band was hilarious, as it consisted of a grand brass section who were having a hard time sharing their breath between their lungs and their instruments. Dancing in a parade at such high altitude is hard enough, and everyone had damp brows, but dancing in a parade at high altitude while trying to play a brass instrument is just crazy. I bet someone passes out every year. There were three tuba players at the end, one just barely farting out some off kilter notes, and after the crowd filed in behind and followed. I would not be too happy having to stand behind that tuba player the whole time.

The next day we ate our last trout of Copacabana, and jumped on a bus to La Paz. We got in just before 5 to find the rest of the crew just waking up. They went a little overboard the night before. Wow. For dinner we went to an excellent middle eastern restaraunt, and smoked an apple hooka for desert. It was very, very tasty.

On Sunday we went to the infamous 'Cholita Wrestling', which turned out to be nothing like I expected. It advertized two Cholita, which are the typical bolivian women, dressed up in their big skirts and fancy clothes, wrestling. It is supposed to be something that you shouldn't miss, so we decided to go. It turned out to be quite expensive, and just after we paid for our tickets we noticed that the doormen were wearing medical masks. What is that for, we asked? First they told us that there are sick people in there, and they don't want it to spread, and then they told us that it was a saftety precaution for Swine Flu. Wow. Everyone looked worried about this, but Orin and I assured them that this was just hysteria, and to just relax.

We entered to find that the locals and the gringos were segregated, the locals all against the walls, with the gringos enjoying the prime seating. Things just kept getting weirder. None of the locals had masks on, while most of the tourists were wearing theirs. It was hilarious, so fucking absured and ridiculous. The best part was that a snack was included in this ticket, so most of the gringos had their mask around their neck and were stuffing their face with popcorn. Popcorn that touched so many hands before it made it to their hands, which had touched hostel doors, taxi's, the entry doors and many other things. Hmmm.... As soon as the show started I got an excellent view of all the gringos with their cameras out and masks on. It was glorious.

The first 3 or 4 rounds were extremely lame. It was just dudes dressed up as characters, such as ninja turtle vs escaped inmate, who were really bad at wrestling. Reaction time, people, you need to have a good reaction time to wrestle for money. Well.... maybe not, as they would get hit, and then fly backwards a full second after and fling themselves out of the ring. They got better each time, but still.... why even show the terrible ones, it completely killed all hope and just invited you to be critical. It all followed the same equation: a bit of even fighting, one person begins to brutally win, and after you think the other can never recover, suprise suprise, they did. It's a miracle!!! Finally a Cholita showed herself, and put on a pretty good show. She came out to great cheers, then took a couple minutes to take off her scarf, rings, earrings, necklace, bracelets etc. Why they wear them out there I don't know.... It was pretty awesome to see this little lady throwing down these crazy wrestling moves. She fought a skinny guy, and they were flipping eachother over and getting onto the ropes and jumping on eachother and everything. She was quite good, and I enjoyed that one. After her came some random American dude, who was pretty amusing, and then the final battle. This consisted of two Cholitas vs two dudes. Dissapointing, because honestly I wanted to see come Cholita on Cholita action. Way better, way more fair, and way more intense. This round was really, really weird, to top off the night of strangeness. They began the fight with ripping most of the Cholitas clothes off. Okay.... Then they changed, and came back, and just got the fuck beat out of them. Really. It was really weird, and you didn't really know what to do. You knew it was fake, but it still made you uncomfortable, as they were acting like they were really in pain. They just got owned, the guys even busted out wooden boxes and broke them over their heads etc. One woman started to bleed, and I got worried, until the other woman started to bleed from her head, and I realized it was fake blood (I am pretty sure). But still... it was really strange sitting there and just seeing the poor cholitas just get demolished. They fought tag team for a while, but all that encompassed was the two guys beating the crap out of one cholita while the other looked on from outside the ring, as the ref wouldn't let her in. What the fuck? Finally, they had their little come back and beat the guys up for a bit, but it was nothing like what the guys did to them. Somehow in the end the women won, as expected, but really, they got nailed to the wall. It was just downright weird.
We wandered out of there all a little confused. In the end it was all fake, and a pretty wild experience, but I would never pay 50 bol, 10 can, to see that again. I am positive that Orin's experience was very different than mine..

That evening we got the biggest pizza I have ever seen, and went to see the movie Wolverine. First movie theater the whole time down here, so even though the movie was pretty cheesy, it was lots of fun to watch all this action and mutant shit go down.

The next day was pretty chill until night came. Brenden, Simon and I went to the Prado to pick up another giant pizza, and also so Simon could get his laundry and say goodbye to the family he had been staying with. We ended up wandering into one of the largest protests I've ever seen. It was against Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, who I quite like. He decided to not allow other countries to give Bolivia free clothes in order to help the Bolivian economy, by forcing people to buy only bolivian made clothes. This is an interesting idea, and I can see how this would be beneficial to Bolivia, but there are many Bolivian who cannot afford this much more expensive clothing. The clothes that are sent down are meant to be free, but they are sold quite cheaply at a profit to god knows who...but still, sold quite cheap. It was not a violent riot, but it was still pretty crazy,with big groups of police ripping it through the crowd on their motorbikes.
A couple hours later we returned with the pizza to find our that our darling friends had started without us, and gone hard, already a bottle and a half deep in to the rum. We had to work hard to catch up, but we did. Later that night we went out with a group consisting of Matt, Kate, Simon, Brenden, a nice Argentinian guy we befriended, Orin and I. Unfortuately the other Matt had to go home to Uruguay to shut down his fathers house and take his flight back to the states.
We ended up going out to a tourist bar, for the first time this trip. I did not expect it at all, and when I walked into the room I was shocked, and stood there stuttering for a stupid ammount of time. It was bar packed with a bunch of white people drinking and speaking English. It was absolutely mental, and my intoxicated mind had a hard time wrapping itself around the situation. It was so absured, just hanging out with all these white people in La Paz.... there was absolutly no locals here. The funniest part was that I spent the whole time in the bar talking Spanish with the Argentinian, who didn't speak a word of English. It was my personal rebellion to this twisted situation. The bar closed down and we went to the next, which was the same. Somehow I ended up back in my room at 6 am, taking my malaria pill with wine as that was the only liquid we had. Gross. Really, really gross.

The next morning we were leaving to Tihuanaku, the big Bolivian ruins, and then to Puno in Peru. I really, really regreted the freeness that the liquour flowed the night before, and wondered about my non existant logic at maybe, you know, 3 in the morning, a much more sane hour to go to bed before a big border crossing day. Tihuanku was cool, but extremely overpriced. It was amazing to see how smooth and square they get the rocks, but have heard from a couple travellers that have seen both, that Machu Pichu will blow that away. We caught a bus from there to the border, where we got by pretty easy after answering many question with obvious answers... such as did you do cocaine or marijuana in Bolivia? Oh yes officer, and I have about 3 balloons of it in my stomach right now....

The bus ride to Peru was strange because some woman had all the tourists sitting on blankets, and made me hold this package. Sketchy. I was a little worried that it was filled with cocaine, and was much more worried when a bunch of officers came onto the bus and vigorously checked people. Funny thing was that they only checked the locals, while the tourists sat on the smuggled blankets, holding bags of smuggled goods. I found out afterwards that they were smuggling the cheap Bolivian blankets and clothes to sell in Peru. That evening we ate chicken and slept in a terrible hostal, where the doorguy blared the TV so loud that he must have been part deaf.

Today we found ourselves a really nice hostal, and have a room reserved for Rylie and Jordan TOMORROW NIGHT!!!! I can't believe that we are going to meet them at the airport tomorrow morning. I want to go to bed now just so that they will be here... a travellers christmas. Haha. It is very strange that this portion of our trip is coming to an end, and from now on we will be travelling with others. Exciting and sad at the same time, as I have had such an amazing time just kicking it with Orin. We get along absurdly well, and have an awesome time even doing the lamest things together. From now on things are going to go even faster than before, which is terrifying. In the end I am very excited to come back to Vancouver, but the end of a good travel is bitter sweet, but not to worry, as there have been many conversations of 'next time' already. This time with Clare, for sure!! Not to mention that we have a whole beautiful province to explore this summer, and a whole beautiful country to explore for the rest of our lives. Enough of my lamenting, I hope that BC is heating up nicely for our return, and that everyone is enjoying a lovely spring.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Her name was Lola, she was a show girl

Copa, copacabana! Lake Titicaca is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. It is definately the largest lake I have ever seen, stretching out so far it could be mistaken as the ocean from shore. It has a number of massive islands in the middle, most notably on the Bolivian side are the Isla del sol and Isla del Luna, which are two oldschool Inca sites with plenty of ruins struin about them.
We spent three nights in Copabana with the gang we had become a part of overnight. We found a really awesome pad, being the top floor of a hostal we liked. It had beautiful wood floors, pristine paint, tonnes of windows with beautiful views, and not a single bed. We saw the space, loved it, and managed to convince the manager that he should rent it to us for two dollars a night each! Wow. Between some camping equiptment and some matresses and blankets we found rolled up in the corner we made ourselves a pretty sweet pad. It also had two big patios off of it that we spent a lot of time hanging out on. The first night we went a little wild with the rum and ended up partying until the sun rose. The last couple hours were not by choice, but just due to the fact that my earplugs were far across the room and I was in my sleeping bag pantless. Laziness overcame.
Our greatest discovery in Copacabana definatly has to be Tienda numero 9. Best m fucking trout you will ever find. Beautiful, fresh pink trout caught out to Lake titicaca, which is about 10 feet away while you eat it. Each trout meal is a full trout on a bed of french fries and rice. All for under four dollars. Amazing. Trucha el diablo includes a tasty concoction of fried peppers, tomato and onion on top. Absolutly amazing, though the garlic and the tomato both hold their ground quite well. The trout became quite an obsession in our group, and today after returning from the Island, our first stop was trout, and we met the whole herd heading down to the feeding hole. It was hilarious. We were yelling trout across the parking lot, both sure of eachothers intentions. We have had trout twice today. I really hope that they have trout in Puno, which lays on the Peruvian side of Titicaca, so that we can enjoy this experience with Jordan and Rylie, who show up in less than a week. AAhhh, wild!!!
The trip to Isla del Sol was out of this world, amazing but also very strange. We walked about 17 kilometers to the closest jut of land to Isla del sol, took a boat, then another two to our hostal. We were exhausted and packed into our room after dark fell. We were very glad that we had left our huge bags in Copa for that trek! The hike was absolutly beautiful. We got out of town at like 11 30, a little later than we wanted but we had a good brekkie and bought some food for lunch in the market. A dirt road wound through the mountains, sometimes by the lake, sometimes through the woods, and often through tiny villages. It was potatoe harvest so we were lucky enough to witness these people hard at work. It was amazing! The donkey is their most used machine, as those hefty animals can move huge ammounts of weight at a steady pace up or down the steepest hill. They are really cute too! Throught the villages there were hogs, llamas, sheep and donkeys hanging out in the shade or chewing on some grass. Very rural, and very beautiful. The people were very friendly and replied to my `buenos tardes´with big smiles and a word or two. Had a couple of pretty good conversations, one with a couple who had a wheelbarrow full of potatoes a couple hours out of town, who told me that he wheeled it into Copacabana everyday and sold his veggies at the market there. Wouldn't doubt that for a second. The people here are so amazingly hardy they remind me of donkeys themselves. Not at all intellgence wise, but just the incredible ammount of work they do, uncomplainingly. You will see the oldest woman in the village carrying a massive sack of potatoes up the mountain, no shoes. It is unreal, and really makes you think about what you consider 'work' at home.
That evening we ate some dinner and hung out at home, exhausted from the almost 20 km we hiked that day. My legs hurt. We slept in the next day, had a leisurely lunch at one of the few restraunts with the most beautiful view of the lake, while sitting in the sun. The island is a beautiful and also insane place. It is a really, really steep island, and from what I have heard all the water in the village is brought up by hand. I doubt this a little bit, wondering if there is maybe one pipe bringing water to a central place, but we did see hoardes of donkey's heaving up huge bottles of water, so perhaps this is true. Crazy. Though the Island is very steep, most of what we could see was being farmed by hand. It was similar to the rural areas we had wandered through on the way to the island, just in a much steeper setting. That day we went for a nice hike across the valley on the side of the island and watched more potatoe harvest and all of the animals hanging around. It was a beautiful day with a beautiful view. Across the lake there are huge snowy mountains overhanging the lake, and it is one of the most beautiful things we've seen yet. When walking back we got caught on the path with a herd of sheep coming in fast from behind, and then rounded a corner to find ourselves face to face with a pack of donkeys. We retreated to the side and watched the donkeys just plough through a group of sheep. Earlier that day some random Canadians from Toronto invited us to dinner after we talked a bit, so we met them at 7 30 and drank wine and had a great dinner and conversation. It was really good times, and I was pretty impressed with how chill they were, just inviting us to dinner on a whim. It's nice seeing that, it encourages you to be very forwards with strangers.
Today we caught the 10 30 boat back, and ran into the gang when we were both heading for our afternoon trout. Haha. They have all left for La Paz and we are going to follow tomorrow for a couple of days, and then off to Puno!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crazy times have been had in this last week of Bolivia. I really enjoyed La Paz. A freaking mental city with fake cops, old ladies in bowler hats pissing on the street, a chicken place named Ja Ja Ja's (we took a picture for you Clare! We even ate there!) which is how you spell hahaha in Spanish as they have the soft J, and plenty of drugs floating around. Bolivia is a huge manufacturer of cocaine, so there have been plenty of street offers from sketchy looking shadow lurkers. All refused mom!

We spent the weekend in La Paz, and ended up going to a local bar called Gota de Agua, or drop of water in English. Friday night was a riot, as we ended up being the only foreigners in the bar, and were warmly welcomed. A little too warmly by some smashed up old men. They get good and pissed here, man. There was an Indigenous Andean band that were awesome, and had everyone on the floor dancing like crazy. Even saw some of the Andean dancing with white kerchiefs, pretty cool! Everyone was so friendly, the DJ even came up all excited to us and asked us questions (remember all in Spanish) over the microphone, cheered, and then threw us a huge handful of Coca leaves. This was when we discovered that the ones we had on the tour were absolute shit, as these were fresh and moist and tasted good! Not like dried fish smell. In Bolivia most people are extremly friendly and offer, borderline force you with their good will, glasses of the liqour they are drinking, and if they have no extra glasses you share theirs. This is very normal and polite to accept, and really quite wonderful. They seemed a little shocked when I explained in Canada this is a no no as there are terrible drugs like date rape floating around. We ended up dancing quite a lot to, as it is impossible to pass the dance floor to go to the bathroom without being pulled in by some local and having a dance, looking like a complete fool with our Canadian moves. It was awesome though, and even Orin was up and bouncing around, which seems to be no longer a rare occurance. Amazing. Reading and dancing.....word.

The next night we went to the same place with four Americans and a New Zealander that we have ended up travelling with for a bit. There was quite a few more Gringos that night, but it was still good fun. We drank, talked, danced and just had a great time. It is awesome how many locals will just grab you aside to share a drink and a quick conversation, always asking with concern if you like Bolivia and if you have had any problems. Very sweet.

The next day we met up with the Americans, the New Zealander, and our friend Simon from Germany, and caught a bus to Copacabana, where we are hanging out now. This is a different story which I will tell later, as we have randomly met our Quebecois friends from El Chelten, Alex and Catherine, and are heading over to the old Inca island Isla del Sol for a couple of days. Peace!

Friday, April 24, 2009


I have been glued to this dreadful computer for four hours now, but I have emerged victorious and have uploaded two hundred photos to my new Photobucket account! Horrah! My web adress is, so click and enjoy. They may not be the best of our trip as they are quite thinned down and viewed from thumbnails, but that means that there are still good ones to come.
Also Orin has loaded a bunch up onto his as well. You can find his web adress on his blog. They both have different pictures, though all the pictures are taken by both of us and just separated to save us some time!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Little Man:Big Hit.

So, I forgot the most important occurance in my last entry. The fact that we were the unlucky victims of another freak Little Man. I couldn't believe it when it came on. I was shocked, speechless, wallowing in terror. We were heading to the Bolivian border, our last Argentinian bus, so of course they had to have this playing as a parting gift. It was right in front of our faces, full volume booming throught the bus, and the best part was, it was a hit. People were losing it. I'm talking snorting. I'm talking hysterics. I'm talking a change of underwear. It was absured. Apparently someone being a midget is out of this world funny. And a dog peeing on a midgets face, even funnier. God help us all. The latinos on the bus were having a riproaring good time, which resulted in Orin and I having a pretty good time laughing at them laughing at the stupidest movie in the world. Wow.

AAAAAAAAAAnyways, as there are no functioning tv's on Bolivians buses we are saved. Salvation in degradation. Who knew. So I think I left off the night before we left on our crazy ass jeep tour, which was actually in a Toyota but soo much easier to say jeep. So be it. We were told that we would be leaving at 9 o clock in the morning, so sure enough at 10 we took over, roared two blocks and then sat for another half hour while the guide did who knows what in who knows where. During this time we got to know our companions.

We had a jeep of six people:

Our guide, Pedro, was a young man of 21 who was a little off in the head though had good intentions. He enjoyed passing people on blind corners at ungodly speeds unknown to us as the speedometer was broken. His favourite phrases where No Problem and Ten Minutes. No Problem, as he was opening the hood of the stalled jeep, as he was lost afterdark in a remote village looking for our hostel, as he had the wheel off and was staring at the smoking brakes. No Problem. Problem, buddy. Ten Minutes was always thrown at us as we got out of the jeep to look at some crazy natural wonder that we would have loved to hang out at for half an hour at least. We want to do more thing than just take pictures! His favourite driving technique was riding the smoking brakes down sketchy steep hills in neutral.

The Frenchman, Niko, was a thirty four year light technician who spent half of his year travelling on the copious EI funds France gives to people in the entertainment business. Nice. He lives in Paris. He hates Paris. Not so nice. Niko enjoyed vulgar jokes an sitting in the front seat while the rest of us bounced around in the back seats. His notable phrases were ¨this pasta sauce smells like condoms¨and making fun of Simon for having a ¨dick and ass¨shower, as the water was absolutely freezing. When first meeting him we thought he was a bit of a loser, as he sported sleek brown Euro shoes, A massive glittering rhinestone ROCK belt and a Japanese shirt with a pill on it. He turned out to be pretty cool.

The two Englishgirls, both 21, Martha and Sophie. Sophie enjoyed vomiting and complaining about altitude sickness, as well as complaining and fixing her hair in mirrors. Martha did not enjoy vomiting quite as much, but very much enjoyed fixing her hair in mirrors. They once met Malfoy in London. He was a twat. They spoke no spanish so were constantly asking for translations from Niko and I. Sophie told Pedro she was pregnant just for fun. Pedro did not laugh. I am not sure what language they spoke, but it was hard to understand and was littered with 'loo' and 'rubbish' and 'loo roll'. Smashing. As preppy as they were we enjoyed their company at times. They wore dresses that were actually just shirts paired with spandex pants.

Then two Canadians, both 21, Orin and Sage. Coolest cats on the block.

Our jeep was paired with another from the same company which took the cook, Marta. She enjoyed yelling 'Hey Chico's' really loudly really early in the morning, and telling me that I am sad. Riiight. The other jeep had a really nice guide that we were all quite jealous of, as well as four crazy ass Malasians who were very funny and friendly and loved to throw around the peace sign infront of cameras. One bright white German, Simon, accompanied them. He looked very out of place, yet they took him in like one of the family and had a great time. Simon 20 year old, very kind, spoke better Spanish than English, and had a beautiful smile. We enjoyed his company very much and are currently trying to convince him to come up north with us.

So this was the lay out peeps. We made it out of town the first day just past 11 am. Only a couple hours late. Good start. The first day consisted mostly of driving through a desert, but it was very beautiful and absurd scenery. The mountains, instead of being made out of solid rock like Canada, consisted of small rocks and dirt packed together. Over the years the rain washed away the weaker parts leaving the strong fingers looming up into the sky, pointy towers of red dirt. We saw hundred of llamas, all with tufts of pink of blue or green or mixed woven into the tops of their ears. Apparently this was used to identify who owned the herd. So cool looking.

We stopped for lunch at a small village where a dirty but curious child greeted us. His only English words were 'no picutres' as a response to Sophie whipping out her camera and trying to photograph the poor guy without asking. The tour after us did the exact same thing and got the exact same response. Pretty messed up. Can you imagine growing up in a remote village yet still being exposed to people from all over the world, all treating you like some strange exibit. Enough to mess your head up pretty good I suspect. After lunch our guide gave us coem coca leaves, which are commonly chewed by locals and tourists alike for elevation sickness. It tastes like the smell of dried fish, but once you moisten it up, add the sweet tasting potassium and stick it under your lip it tastes pretty good and lasts for a couple of hours. At first the potassium makes your tongue go numb, but it feels kind of cool. Coca aids in digestion, altitude sickness, energy and either red or white blood cell production. Cool. Though it is the same plant that can be manufactured into Cocaine, it is not a dangerous drug. I would liken it to tea.

That evening Pedro had a bit of a time finding our hostel in the darkness of a small village, at over 4000 meters above sea level, but eventually we pulled in, ate some dinner and went to bed to get up at 4 30 am the following morning. So, of course, at 6 am Pedro woke us up. The poor Malasians had set their alarm, believing what the guides said, ate brekkie and sat there twiddling their thumbs for two hours. Lame. We drove for a while and then came upon these isolated old Spanish ruins, dating back to the 1500's. It was a gold mining town known for much illness and presence of the devil. Spooky story, but amazingly peaceful place. I hiked up the mountain, gasping for breath at such high altitude, and found myself a little rock to perch on. There I sat, enjoying the silence in the early morning chill, savoring the fact that I could hear no other living being on earth. As I admired the ruins I noticed some animals, relatives of the chinchillas, with big long tails, picking their way through the ruins and ocassionally batteling. It was an amazing moment. Soon enough Pedro was laying on the horn and I made my way back as fast as my shallow lungs could pull me, not before he made Orin shout out to me.

We drove on, looking at gorgeous views, lakes with flamingos standing on their spindly legs, and huge flats of Borax, the mineral soap is made of. For lunch we stopped at the hot springs. I had been led to believe that we would be swimming peacefully in a lake, but pulled up to find 20 people packed into a pool. Bummer. A little put out we decided to eat first. When Orin and I came out from lunch the dozen jeeps were gone and the pool was empty. We changed up and jumped in with gusto. It was a neat rock pool with a sand floor, fresh hot water leaking out from under a rock and the excess pouring over a little waterfall into the lake. It was hot and relaxing, and soon our group joined us and we all relaxed until again the horn sounded and we were herded back into the jeep.

After lunch we went to a beautiful green lake that mirrored a volcano. It was gorgeous. Next stop was the geisers, which were not at all like I was expecting, but amazing in their own way. They lay at the almighty 5000 meters above sea level. Wow. A bunch of steaming sulpheric pits lay together in the earth, filled with bubbling boiling mud. We were allowed to wander through them, though found out after the other tour was not as it is quite dangerous. Thanks Pedro. There were plenty of hissing steaming holes, and craters ranging from a foot wide and long, to 10 feet wide and long. Very amazing and wild! I took a video, which turned out pretty good.

The next morning I woke up tired and breathless to a pancake breakfast. Pretty good. I miss fruit in my pancakes with yogurt and some tasty ass Maple Syrup on top though. That day we saw a red lake full of flamingos, lots of vicunas, which are smaller and lovely relatives of llamas, a smoking volcano which gave me flashbacks of terror, and a series of five lakes quite close together, all before lunch. After lunch we visited the Dali rock, which is a wild looking rock which could easily be imagined in a Salvador Dali painting. Very cool. That evening we stayed at the Salt Hotel, which was not a hotel at all, but still quite interesting. It has salt floors consisting of loose thick salt granules, and the walls, beds, tables and benches were all made of bricks of salt.

The last day was chock full of stuff to do. We woke up super early to watch the sunrise over the salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world, covering 12,000 km2 and at the center reaching 150 meters deep. Craziness. The sunset was quite beautiful, though cold cold cold! After the sunset we had breakfast on an island overrun by massive cactus, one being aprox. 1300 year old, recently dying in 2007! Holy crap! This Island was the resting area for Incas crossing the salt flats. What an amazingly long and painful journey that must have been. We hiked around the island for a while, ate brekkie then spent about an hour fooling around taking pictures on the salt flats. From a photography aspect the salt flats are quite amazing as they have no depth of field, so we have some pretty funny pictures. On the edge of the salt flats we saw men in ski masks using picks and shovels to harvest the salt into small salt pyramids. Shitty job, man. Next we visited the salt museum, which consisted of some strange salt sculptures of armadillos, people, llamas, etc.

Our last stop was at the Locomotive graveyard just out Uyuni. It was very very cool, the old rusty wrecks sat quietly, one still on the tracks. I really liked this stop, as did Orin which you could all easily guess.

That evening we gritted our teeth and got on the bus to La Paz at 8 pm with Simon and the Malasians. We entered the bus to find we were the only people without blankets, and were sitting at the very back on the bench seat of five, shared with a dude listening to Cradle of Filth and a very old Abuela and her two grandchildren of 6 and one. Oh. Fuck. Me... She sat croslegged so the six year old could lay on the floor and proceeded to pack him with blankets, making me very nervous as it gets very cold at night. This would prove to be true and Orin and I froze half to death, not being able to feel our feet until we arrove. The first five hours of the bus ride were the kind of unmanagable bumpy that makes your face itch from vibrating so much. You could nod off for a minute of two but would wake up mid air virtago before crashing down onto your seat. The last 6 or 7 hours were paved and we somehow managed to make it to La Paz without offing ourselves.

La Paz is pretty neat. The first day we spent sleeping and eating, and today we wandered around a number of markets, buying a ridiculous ammount of things that we are going to regret carrying for the next two months. We visited the Black Market and the Witches Market, which sold dried llama fetus', apparently they are buried under the porches of new houses for good luck. Okay then.... Enough out of me, hope this account wasn't too long. Thank you so much for the record making three posts! Awesome, made me smile! And Karlos, there is not such thing as being too old to travel! We have seen some serious geezers here having the time of their life. And knowing a bit of Spanish will make your life a whole lot easier down here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Igua-zoo and the Phoney Planet

I'm sure you all apreciated my amazing Igua-zoo pun, and now you are wondering how much more witty can I get. Oh I get wittier.... and stuff... you just wait.

So we ended up going to Parque Iguazu 3 days in a row!!! I think that is very strange for a tourist to do, as most people just rush in for day try to see as much as they can and then move on. It worked out very well for us. Saturday, the second day, was amazing. We spent all day on the move gawking at the amazing waterfalls. There was probably a hundred in the park, scattered throughout and acessable by catwalks. First we took this mini train out to Diablos Gargante, which I think translates to Devils Throat. It was absolutely breathtaking... once you managed to sift your way through the crowds. Once I got through the front and broke through the barracade of bodies the immense power of this huge waterfall stunned me. I have never seen anything like this, and am sure I will never see anything like it again. It was tonnes and tonnes of water running from a far as the eye could see wide spread river, then falling with a deafening crash over the edge of a half circle of cliffs. The spray that rose up from the basin soaked your face and body, but dried the minute you walked away in the baking sun. We probably stood there staring at this exceptional waterfall for an hour, amazed at how quickly the crowds moved on! After about twenty minutes the hundreds departed and there was maybe thirty of us hanging out, plenty of space to move around and mutiple places on the rail to view from. That was awesome. Soon the hoardes moved in, the next train must have arove, so we moved on. The other waterfalls were all different. Some still very large, while others barely a meter wide, yet all had their own type of beauty surrounding them. There would be places were about 10 of the small ones would be lined up in a row, pouring over a cliff, watering the plush and vividly grass that was thriving. Amazingly gorgeous. The surroundings for this whole affair was pure jungle, every bit of earth had something growing, the dead simply fertilizer to grow. Death birthing life. Awesome.

Near the end of the day we took the boat to a fair sized island in the middle, but when we arrove we were told there was only a half an hour til the last boat left for the mainland. There was a small swimming area that we really hoped to dip into, as the water was fresh and warm, but instead went to the miradors that showed you a different view of the waterfalls. We saw a couple trees with almost a hundred vultures lurking on them, and below a natural rock arch that you could see a waterfall through. Crazy beautiful.

Unable to restrain ourselves we returned the next day to lie on the beach and swim in the water hole. I call it that because it was about four meters out and 15 wide with 20 people in it at least. A little squishy but when the whistle happy lifeguard was away kicking other rebels out of the water you could swim under the rope and swim where you can't touch. Very nice. I felt a little bit bad for the lifeguard because everyone knew it was a ridiculous situation, even him. So without a moments rest he was walking up and down the beach kicking people out of the water or telling them to get back in the designated water sitting area.
After Iguazu we did a terribly uncomfortable and rattly TWENTY FOUR hour bus ride to Salta. We were soooooo happy to be back on the ground and on our own terms. We tried to bus out to the municipal camp ground, about 2 km out of town, which promised a massive swimming pool and supermarket, but ended up getting a cab. We arrove to a bit of a scummy campground with a truely gigantic empty concrete pool, and a supermarket down the street. Oh Phoney Planet, you fucker. Oh well... they never said it would be full now did they.
Salta was really nice, we spent the first day relaxing and recovering, then the next day exploring the town and eating empanadas. We toured the Contemporary Art museum which was awesome. There was a really cool metal art exibit based on chickens, i know, sounds wierd but was really cool. Inspired Orin and I to get collecting old metal stuff and get welding. There were two more exibits, one a fairly lame pencil 'artist' who had an obsession with badly drawn laundry, the other a couple of photographers. The photographs were really awesome, I love when photos are exibited really large. I couldn't stop obsessively photographing all day after that.
Next we walked over to this gondola that took you up a mountain over looking the city. It was pretty neat, some nice views and a series of man made waterfalls.

The next day we got up at 530 to get the bus to La Quica, the town touching the Bolivian border. We had the front seats on the top of the double decker bus, which they run a lot of in Argentina, so we got to see amazing views. After 7 hours they dropped us off 1 km out of town, as there was road construction so everyone had to walk. Lame. We walked down the dusty stretch by the fresh laid tarmac, the hot stink blowing in our face, but made it there. Crossing the border went by without hassle, not even a bag check. From there we waited an hour, drank some fresh squeezed orange juice and looked at all the beautiful woven blankets....Welcome to Bolivia!!! It was a three hour bus ride to Tupiza, where we are now, but it was quite hellish. First of all, we didn't get a proper ticket, instead a stamp on the back of a picture of a crazy Muslim guy holding a plane with Osama bin Laden's name on it, looking very happy. What? When we got on everyone else had proper tickets and we were told multiple worrying things like we were on teh wrong bus, one by this girl with a breast hanging out. What? She seemed very nice but how can you take anyone seriously when you are trying no to look at her right breast? She noticed and tucked it awayl.. no biggie. Weird. In the end it all worked out, but the bus ride was very bumpy and I got pretty motion sick... I think that this was aggravite by the adverse effects from the Malaria pills we have been having. Shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and terrible nightmares have been nagging me, but much better than Malaria I suppose. We ended up talking to breast girl, introduced as Veronica, andher boyfriend, who she said spoke but when he came to join us he said HI!! and it about ended there. As we talked more he warmed up and we were able to communicate through our Spanglish, heavy on the Spanish, pretty well. It was lots of fun, very entertaining to try to explain what maple syrup is when they have no idea what a maple tree is.

We arrove into Tupiza just after night fall and found a nice hostal and have a four day jeep tour through Southwest Bolivia for tomorrow. Should be awesome, we are going to see all sorts of crazy things, like flamingos, geysers, hot springs, red lakes, white deserts and the infamous Salar de Uyuni, the massive salt flats. The tour ends in Uyuni, which is just where we want to be. I am so glad not to be booking a tour from Uyuni to the salt flats, as it is an aboslute tourist gong show with a mine field of drunken guides, shitty vehicles, and enviornmentally detrimental tour companies. Tupiza is smaller and nicer, and we (hopefully) as far as we can tell, have found a good reliable company. I am very excited for tomorrow, and very hungry now so off for the hunt. Yesterday's dinner was two burgers for under one canadian dollar. And we didn't die. Nice.

And note to readers.... if you exist. Orin and I are considering going on strike if we don't get some damn comments!!! For all the time we spend struggling with shitty south american computers you sitting in your comfy chairs with your laptops can drop us a comment or two. Come on people!!! For Shame. haha. but seriously...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Feast on me.

Specialty for evil mosquitos: flesh a la sage. Seriously. I saw this on the menu at the local water hole. They have it out for me and there is nothing that I can do to protect my self from the vermin of the sky. I am currently sporting over fifty mosquito bites on my body, for some reason they are aligned into rows, the constellations of pain on my red raw flesh. My wandering fingers bring me no peace. But all is not lost, Orin is very good at kicking my ass when I need it and making me not scratch. Don't scratch. Don't scratch. Maintain.

These constellatiosn of death were obtained in Che Gueveras house, oddly enough, but that story will come after. First comes Mendoza.

Mendoza was pretty cool. It is a big city with an absolutely massive park. We visited it one day, and walked around for a while, where we found a nice patch of grass by a small lake. It was very peaceful and we were model citizens, playing cards, writing in our journal and just generally relaxing in the sun. There was a bunch of trees that were just covered with carvings inscribed by passerby's, mostly the typical Jose y Maria. Te amo siempre (I love you forever). And we all know that Jose left Maria after he found out she was knocked up.... by a different man (slut!). Oh the tragedy of the tree carvings. So of course we carved our names into the screaming bark, the good old Sage and Orin enclosed in a heart with an arrow peircing through it. Oh yeah baby! We will not share the same fate as Jose and Maria, as I am a smart girl and use birth control so I can sleep around discreetly. Joking. After chilling for a while we walked over to this crazy carosel that didn't just have horses, it had a crazy town lion and a car and a plane and other things. There was also a little race track that had 5 year olds whizzing around on scooters. Very terrifying.

Our time in Mendoza was awesome but crime was always looming over the city. A very nice couple from america that we befriended had their passports and money stolen. Very sad, but they were a positive couple so they didn't let it upset them too much (though she was close to tears telling her story) and they had plans to get new passports in Buenos Aires so that they could make their flight to Colombia in 5 days. Yikes! I would have been freaking out if I were them but they kept it calm. We bought them a beer to change the tides for them, and they just fell over themselves in appreciation. It was really sweet. They went on about how there are so many good people in the world that it was just a reminder not to let you things you can do with a 3 dollar beer! Haha, awesome. I hope that it has all worked out for them. Just before we left a couple of girls from our hostel got mugged just around the corner. One of them screamed and kicked and got away, while the other just got cleaned out. They seemed pretty shaken up, and I felt so bad for them. Hopefully they can get past the fear that must be embeded in them after such a freaky experience and enjoy the rest of their travels. The most profound thing that happened while we were there was the shooting of a taxi driver. We were trying to go out on Saturday night, but no taxi's would stop for us. When one did he only muttered that they were not working tonight and then sped off. We tried another and another, but got the same pissed off response. It took us a while to find someone who would explain to us what happened. A taxi driver was robbed and murdered that evening, while making a routine drive. Apparently this had been happening more and more often in Mendoza, and the taxi drivers were pissed the fuck off. You could see the darkness in their faces, the anger throught their bodies as they moved around town.
We made it out that night as South american rules were followed, where money can be made, make it. So there was a number of citizens now taxi drivers whizzing around in their cars picking people up, but they were still relatively scarce. We got ride with one of these, a very nice and talkative guy who explained a few things to us. He dropped us off a couple blocks before the downtown core, as the taxi's had blocked off the streets. They were everywhere, blocking off main streets with their yellow cabs and stone stares, daring you to confront them. No one would. No one even honked. Behind them in the street there were tires burning. As we walked down the main street we saw they blocked off every single road leading to it, forcing cars to turn around one by one and leave. It was pretty crazy. For us, we had a good night. We were with a couple of weird europeans, but they kept themselves amused flirting with eachother, and we played some pool and drank beer. The beer was pretty cool, they served something called a torpedo. It was a big tube of glass with a tap off the side that you poured your own beer out of. Probably had 8 or 10 beer. Awesome.
Another excellent aspect of Mendoza was the fact that our hostel had a little movie selection, so we got to be complete nerds and lump out on the couch, watching the second and third lord of the rings. It was awesome.
Ah, and last but not least, we did a sweet little wine tour. We took a city bus out to the small town of Maipu (the name was mocked numerous times, especially when I acidentally called it Maipoop) which is littered with winerys. There we rented a bike from an excellent place called Mr.Hugos, and spend the afternoon pedalling around the country side. First we went to the wine museum slash winery, where we learnt a lot about the history of wine. They showed us all this crazy gear that the Jesuits used back in the 16th century, all made out of animal hides and such. Pretty neat. Then our guide told us about all the improvements and gave us a little tour of their winery. Then we were given a glass of wine to taste, which was pretty good. And all for free! Wow. Next we rode about 7km, which is about 6km more than I wanted to, and found myself an olive orchard, or whatever you would call it. Awesome. I felt at home. Though it was not harvesting time it was neat to see the olives on the tree. They also gave us a taste test of little peices of bread with their olive oil drizzled over, some with very tasty sun dried tomatoes on it. Plus a little bowl of olives on the side. This whet our appetites and we spend a while lazing under an olive tree eating sandwiches and laughing like maniacs for no reason at all, until we got kicked out. Inevitable.
We rode most of the way back to find that all the wineries were closed, though we kind of heard you see one you've seen them all, plus the others were quite expensive. We stopped off at the chocolate factory for a little tasting, which was really just quite weird. They started you off with your choice of liqueur. We both got a chocolate based one, and they were quite delcious. Next they gave you a little bowl of suprisingly shitty chocolate, which we had to hide half of (it's actually still in my back pack come to think of it...). Then we got to choose a couple of types of marmelade to try. Now here, any rational person would be thinking, oh, that's nice. A little marmalade on a cracker or bread. Tasty. Not so. They just gave you the jar and a little spoon and you ate it straight. Odd.... I tried an olive one, which was tasty, and a dulce de leche con chocolate. Which wasn't bad... it was just like... eating marmalade... straight. If we'd have known we would have brought our own bread. haha. Rental time was running out so we returned our bikes to find them handing out free wine, so we took a seat. We drank a glass but had to flee as we got corned by a Vancouver yuppie that kept on going off about how awesome the west side is and how she is so sad she has to move to toronto....yeah.... too....bad. not.
We bussed back to town, and by then it was time to catch our bus. We got the 1030 pm out, which meant we arrove at Cordoba at like 8. There we caught up on some sleep and then caught the afternoon tour to the nearby town of Alto Gracia, the location of Che Guevara's house now tribute museum. First we randomly stopped at a Jesuit estancia for fourty minutes, which was neat, but kind of lame as we didn't have enough time to fully explore the museum. It was fairly well set up, lots of pictures and a map showing you where he travelled to. We have followed a very similar route actually. Boo ya. Good taste Ernesto. They also has his old Norton, which was pretty damn awesome, though missing a lot of parts. (This is a motorbike folks), as well as his pedal bike which he also did a small but awesome tour of Argentina. All in all it was pretty interesting, but extremely lame that they wasted all your time on a random Jesuit estate, resulting in us getting kicked out before we were done. I was just starting to read his letters to his kids! nooooo! I guess it might have been for the best as I may have ended up with a hundred bites instead of fifty.... lucky me...
The next day we left at noon for our lovely 22 hour bus ride. It went quite smoothly, they played a couple movies, one possibly being the worst movie ever. If you are ever feeling suicidal please, go rent this movie, as you will feel the need to live so that you can find and kill the people who made this movie. It is called Little Man, and may be the stupidest movie I have ever seen. Who the hell would ever mistake a midget for a baby. Pubic hair people. Come on! This was the third time we have had to endure this trial of a movie on this trip, and if it is played on another bus, and enclosed space that I cannot escape, I am going to scream. Other than this piece of garbage movie, the bus ride was pretty good. They served us dinner at like midnight, randomly waking us up and kicking us out of the bus. We didn't know what was happening, but wandered into the restaraunt where they sat us down, gave us empanadas, mashed potatoes and a milanesa, all for free. That's a bonus about buses down here. They include all your meals (most of the time). Usually it is like a white bread butter sandwich, no crust, like they served for lunch (no joke), but sometimes you get lucky.
I awoke this morning as we pulled into Puerto Iguazu. Awesome. We found a hostel fairly easy, which we were worried about as it is easter weekend. Here in Iguazu there is a massive and gorgeous waterfall. Today we went to the park, but avoided the extremely busy waterfall, as it is supposed to die down tommorow. Instead we went for a walk through the jungle to a tiny waterfall, which Orin described as being the equivalent to him pissing off a building. It also had a colony of gigantic flying red ants, the massive kind that only jungles can produce. I am not a bug person so we flew the coop pretty soon after scarfing down a sandwich, eye on the giant red ant that was lurking beside us. Not cool. Though this was anticlimatic, the walk was beautiful. We saw massive ants, massive spiders (it gets better and less terrifying), a big ass praying mantis, some pretty birds, hundreds and hundreds of butterflys, which were a little too touchy for my liking, and my favourite, a pack of anteaters practically ran into us! It was awesome. They were so cute and fearless, coming so close to us. There was some babies with them, and they climbed around trees, jumping off randomly, and raided the jungle floor for those massive tasty ants. I cheered for them, eating all the creepy bugs that were out to get me.
We returned home to cook up some gnocci and lentils (i thought it was pasta sauce...) which was pretty good. Now for bed! Happy easter everyone. I hope that you have a good one, and seriously, cherish your family and friends and the ones you love, the ones that love you. Don't forget what you have right infront of your eyes, though it may become invisible under the guise of time. I love and miss you all so so much!

Friday, April 3, 2009


We made it out of Pichilemu with some minor difficulty... we went to return the bikes to the renter, and for some reason the idiot left town at the time that we had agreed to meet, and wasn't going to be back for another couple hours, which didn't work for us because we had a bus that we wanted to catch that left in about... hmm... 45 minutes. But he had our 10, 000 that we had to give as assurance that we would return them. He should have given us 10 000 to assure us that he would be there. Bugger. Luckily Philipe, the owner of the campground, was really helpful, called the guy up, found out all his information, and then gave us out money and let us leave the bikes with him. It was awesome, as we weren't sure what we were going to do. We worked out this little deal, grabbed our bags, and we were on the side of the street for maybe one minute, hailed down the passing bus and we were off. We sat there stunned that we had actually made it out, everything had happened so quickly. Perfect. We even managed to make it to Valparaiso that night.
Our first night in Valparaiso had us convinced that we were in a shit hole. We got snapped up by a lady at the bus station, Lalo number two we call her, who invited us to come stay at her house. It was just around the corner so we decided to check it out. She opened a thin door to an equally thin and intensely steep but small stepped staircase, which was quite lengthy. We trudged up it with our bags, gripping the hand rail firmly so as not to fall to our deaths. She opened up this big door at the end of the hall way an we entered a hallway of quite a large apartment. There was probably 5 rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. She showed us to our room which had a double and single bed with clean sheets, and a giant creepy doll with those eyes that open and close depending on whether she is laying down or sitting up. She sat there, staring at our bed with her glassy blue eyes. Very creepy.
The room was actually quite nice, very high ceilings with crown molding and wooden floors. I spent a good amount of time fanatasizing about how beautiful you could make this apartment with only a bit of work. Toss all the junk, give er a clean, a coat of paint and voila, an excellently located, beautiful new hostel. Instead this woman squandered it with useless furniature and allowed grime to overtake her kitchen. Half a mouldy apple sat on her oven. But the bathroom was clean, and so was the room, and it was cheap and we were tired and already in it, so we decided to stay. Plus we had a lock on our door. So we took it. The first thing we did was toss the giant creepy doll above a cabinet face down. We proceede to get settled in, her knocking at the door every 5 minutes with random little queries or suggestions, which in my fatigue were difficult to understand. Chilean spanish can be extremely hard to decipher. She asked if we were hungry and offered to make us salad, but we declined, the state of her kitchen told all. We told her we would go out, so she recommended a Chinese restraunt about 6 blocks away. We grabbed some cash, locked our room and then asked for the key to the door. Oh.. she mumbled. Her friend had stayed there and then taken the key, so she didn't have one for us. Okay... that made us quite uncomfortable, but we'd already paid, we were comitted. I asked her if she would be staying in the apartment, and she assured me that she would, but then in about 10 minutes she was out the door, telling us to call her when we wanted back in. She gave us her card. A very professional scribble on a peice of paper. Great, just what we needed. Another person to fuck us over the phone. So we left, seeking out the great chinese restraunt she had recommended. The streets were dark, littered with dark figures that had dark thoughts leeking through their eyes. It was not a very pleasant area, frankly it stank, so we kept our pace up searching for the restaraunt. Unfortunately we found it, and entered to find a grand room with about 60 well set tables, completely empty. Absolutely no other human was eating here, but we found out that other things do. And that other thing happened to crawl over our table cloth as I sat there reading about the swollow spit soup. I looked over my menu to see a cockroach making it's way across our table cloth. I slowly but firmly pushed my chair as far away from the table as I could, trying to keep my voice calm, and told orin that ¨there is one hundred percent a cockroach on our table¨. The waitress saw it and then tried to move us to another table, but no fucking way I am going to eat there, my imagination feeding on what their kitchen must look like. So we akwardly got up, thanked them, and released ourselves back on the the street, walking briskly and trying to shake off the heebie jeebies.
We entered a corner store to get some water, and a massive cockroach scuttled out from under the counter, looked at us, and then scuttled away into the darkness. So far Valparaiso was just unpleasant, but we decided that we shouldn't judge it until we saw it during the day. We found a well lit and populated pizza joint and shared a pizza. It was delicious, far better than roach chow mein. Or swollow spit soup for that matter. So we headed home, hoping that lady Lalo would be faithfully waiting for us, maybe cleaning her kitchen or something like that. The front door was open, which was weird.. it had a folded up piece of paper wedged in the lock, but when we went to the top of the stairs no one answered the door. Very odd. Something didn't feel right, and we started to get nervous again. So we walked back to the bus station, hoping that we would find her trying to convince other travellers to stay with her, but couldn't see her. There was a phone there, so we dialed her number, only to have the operator yammer undecipherable spanish at us. We tried again, and she wasn't answering. Uh oh. Then we turned around and she was standing right there, talking to an office lady. Orin walked over to her, and she turned around, looked at him, and walked away, completely ignoring him. We followed hesitantly until she turned around, with a look asking us why we weren't catching up to her. So we sidled up, and on the short walk home she was speedily lashing out spanish, so fast the only words I could catch were 'police' and 'key'. This made me very, very nervous. My brain was stewing again.. we had been scammed, her partner had broken in and stolen all our shit, and now she was calling the cops to claim innocence. I got her to slow down, and found out that she had called the police because she had locked her key in the house. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. It was like midnight, and we were sitting on the steps with this sketchy lady, wondering if we were going to find all of our stuff gone when we finally got back in. She said the cops told her 5 minutes, so after 15 of sitting around waiting, she was off to go call them again. We watched as she wandered the block aimlessly, crossed the street to talk to a group of young men, and they all looked over at us, then she handed him something and they all broke up, and she continued down the street and disappeared around the corner. By this point we were feeling sick with worry, almost ready to kick down the seedy door and see what the fuck was going on here, to make sure our stuff was there and we weren't just sitting there while someone was making off with our only wordly possessions. I walked into some packaging business that was closing down beside us, and explained the situation. He laughed and said that the cops are useless, that we needed the fire department. I convinced him to call them up for me as I spoke very little Spanish and wouldn't be able to explain my problem, and didnt know the address. I also asked him if he knew this woman, which he said she did, and he gave me a thumbs up when I asked if she was a good woman. I felt a bit better about that.
About 10 minutes later a police car arrove, and somehow they managed to get the door open. It seemed as though the guy who I had got to call the fire dept had a set of keys, handed them to the cops, they walked up the stairs and a minute later it was open. That confuses me greatly, how that could possibly work boggles my mind, so we joked about how they have 4 kinds of keys in the whole city. ¨Hey rick, i forgot my keys, do you happen to have a B on you?¨. So weird. So we busted in, opened our door, and everything lay just how we left it. We breathed a great sigh of relief, and opened our bottle of wine. The lady kind of apologized, but didn't seem too concerned about it. She obviously had no idea that these sort of things happen all the time in South America, except at the end the tourist finds himself just screwed, and all of his things stolen.
Parental units may want to skip this part, but we are all adults here, so hey... It was about 1 in the morning when she started banging on the door again. Orin and I were in the middle of what two people do when they love eachother, ahem, when she starts knocking away. No! I yelled out, really not wanting her to barge in on us like crazy people tend to do. She was muttering shit at the door, and then commanded ¨Come Here!¨ I was at the end of my line. I completely expected her to be some crazy Catholic zealot and start going off about how she would not have this kind of behavior in her house by an unwed couple blah blah blah, though in hindsight there would be no way she could have known unless she was doing the old cup against the wall trick. But at the moment it seemed like the only thing in the world that would bring her knocking on our door. I made Orin answer it, mwahaha, and he opened it to her smiling face and a big bowl of grapes. So random. Grapes at 1 in the morning. Crazy crazy person. We thanked her and she left. The grapes were actually pretty good.
The next morning we packed up an headed across town to a bonafide hostel, Casa Adventura. It was really awesome there. We stayed in a spacious dorm room, the same high ceilings and crown as lady Lalos house. There were only three beds in this room too, where other hostels would throw 4 bunk beds and cramp 8 people together. Not to mention these tender little beds all had big douvets on it. Oh Clare, it was awesome! I miss my douvet so much... and my bed.... but mostly YOU!!!! And the good times we've had in my bed.... not creepy that way, just chillin in the morning. and night. you know what's up. ANYWAYS.... this hostel was awesome. It had a kitchen, very clean and without token mouldy apple, and a big dining room. It also included a breakfast, which was delicious. Bread with cherry and apricot jam, eggs, fruit, and the best coffee we've had so far. Filter coffee. I love it, the espresso being the only thing served in restraunts, always under the guise of ´coffee´.
That day we discovered the real Valparaiso. A beautiful colourful city sitting on a hill overlooking a port. It is so steep that they have a series of machines throughout the town called ascendors. They are a lot like elevators but they run on the ground the whole time, ascending diagonally up the hill. Very, very sketchy. They made me quite nervous! We walked around that day and admired the city. Stone streets and vibrantly painted houses, with a intricate network of little walkways weaving throught the city. Every available wall was tagged, and generally tagged very well. There was lots of great graffitti art, and Orin and I spent many an hour walking around and appreciating it. The next day we walked high up into the town to Casa Sebastian, the former house of the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. We got a little lost on the way there and as has happened a couple of times in Chile so far, when we asked directions we got more than that, we got a guide. The guy just got up and took us there, about 6 blocks away. It was awesome. It also happened in Pichilemu where a woman working in the grocery store, when asked about a internet cafe, just got up and walked us the 4 or so blocks there, we thanked her profusely and she just turned around and went back. So awesomely strange.
Nerudas house was absolutely awesome. It had a gorgeous view as it was so high up, and the architechture was rad. The things he did with it were really neat, lots of windows and big spaces. They told us he used to throw lots of partys here, an especially good one on new years when Valparaiso has a huge display of fire works, drawing people from around the country. That would have been an amazing party. He had a big ceramic bull on his table that he used to serve punch out of it. I thought clare would appreciate it alot. There was also this great wooden bar that he used to spend all night behind, making up mixed drinks. So awesome. It was a really interesting tour, and we got one of those extremely nerdy talking phone thingies that give you a verbal tour. Virtual guide I guess. Very funny.
We also went out on thursday night, which was really fun. We drank a bottle of pisco sour first, and got all loosy goosy. Pisco is their Chilean made alchol, so we had to try it. It was pretty good, but almost put Orin asleep and I had to beg and whine to get him to come out, but luckily he did. We walked down to this place called Puerto Feliz, literally Port party, which was an old port warehouse turned into bar. It had three different bars within this one bar, each with a different scene going on. The first room had tango lessons going on, but they were not beginners. They were really good, and it looked like an amazingly fun dance. We sat there for quite a while watching them dance, enjoying the art. Then we moved upstairs, to find the extremely stereotypical jazz scene. Everyone sat around smoking and staring at an electric guitar, stand up base and drums smoothly emit jazz music. They were very good musicians, but I find jazz kind of boring, so we didn't stay for long. Downstairs we found another room where an electric bass trio was performing, and this was our scene. It was awesome, they were funky and bluesy all at once, and I loved them. They were quite experimental, but always with a good beat going. They rocked out and we watched them for about 45 minutes, and then the show was over. It was awesome. We left that bar soon after and walked down the street past the typical club scenes. At one of the neon glowing caverns I stopped and just had to go in. Orin came hesitantly behind me. It was pretty awesome. A bunch of young university students jumping around on the floor, with this guy up front with an overly loud microphone, singing along to all the songs that played. And note that they never play full songs, just the best minute or two, until the music would stop, he would shout stuff, make people cheer, and then wham, the next hit would be pumping out and he would be singing along like crazy. He had a great voice too. Very weird, but people were loving it, having a great time, and dancing like mad.
This morning we got up and consumed our last delicious breakfast, packed up, and are now in Santiago, waiting for our bus to Mendoza, in northern Argentina. It is almost 7 now, and our bus leaves at 10. We got in at four so it seems we've managed to kill 3 hours already. We really should have just stayed in Valparaiso, but we had hoped that there would be more frequent buses leaving from the capital, but alas, not so. Oh well. Time to catch up on the blog and the journal. Well, that is the news for now! Hope that everything is going well for you all back home. And Mom and Dad, leaving for Saskatchewan today! How exciting. I hope that your trip goes well and that you have a lot of fun. Stop in Climax for me.