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.