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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1 yr later

so... it has been a yr since i left on this journey and what a ride it has been.

It is difficult for me to describe this last year. Sensory overload is one way to put it, but it was much more special than that. I think i have grown a lot. Even just traveling solo and figuring things out for myself in completely foreign places has proven to be very empowering for me.

yeah, there where times when i got lonely. but dealing with it, moving passed it, and learning to hang out with and rely on just me has been very rewarding.

There is too much to reflect on from the last year to put in a single blog entry, but just know that i am doing fantastic and this last year has just been indescribably amazing for me.

People keep asking me things like "oh, what was your favorite place?" & "are you ready to go back to reality"

I don't know how to answer these questions. Every place offered a unique experience, all of them great. Did i find a place i think i could settle down and live? Maybe a few, but i would not say that i had the most spectacular experiences in theses places. The vibes there were just cool.

As far as going back to reality... I know what they mean when they say that. Plug back into the daily grind. But that is not what i want my reality to be. So i guess the answer to that is no. I am not ready to go back to their reality. I will continue to pave my own path, not knowing exactly where it will lead. But to be sure, i am enjoying it immensely.

I must say i have been missing my friends and family. I think so much of my strength has been drawn from knowing that you guys have my back. Call it a safety net, call it a sense of belonging, but whatever it is, and even though i was not always in constant contact, know that i draw power from you and you are not being taken for granted. Thanks for being there with me.

Because i was on the move so quickly, many relationships and experiences were constantly fleeting; saying hello and goodbye constantly. With such a short amount of time to spend with people, you find yourself (and this is quite true for many backpackers who i met) trying to relate to people and places as quickly as possible, which can make it tough.

that all being said, I have met quite a few amazing people from all over the world this last year that i will make an effort to really keep in touch with and try to visit. But I have also met a ton of douche bags.

I can't tell you how sick i am of the constant interviewing process that takes place. Where are you from? what job did you do before traveling? where have you been? where are you going? how long have you been traveling? Shut up and just drink a beer and chill out. If we relate, then it will happen naturally, without it being forced down my throat. fuckin relax.

At the end, if i found myself in a big group of people who were having the "interview" conversation, i would just leave and hang out solo. I was tired of trying so hard and it was annoying to watch other people try so hard.

Even though, i realize, that yes, that was probably me at the start of it all.

It will be a pleasure to hang out with people who will not force feed me their personality in fear that they will not have anyone to go out to the bars with because this is their last night in town and they are leaving tomorrow.

but this is a small gripe and i do not deserve to complain.

Coming back to my point, i don't think i could have sustained much more bouncing around with out settling somewhere. too much hello and goodbye. relationships and experiences become rushed due to time constraints and lack a genuine feel. It takes time to get to know people and places. And when there is so much out there to see, you feel obligated to push on. i felt that i missed out on some of the finer things on this trip by walking too quickly.

1 yr was a long time yes, but i could have done the exact same route much slower and probably had a richer experience. the places i enjoyed most were the places i stayed the longest. I was able to build a kinship and that made it special.

so... enough babbling.

An adventure is coming to an end, and a new one is beginning. The future holds unknown treasures that i look forward to stumbling upon.

I start work on the mountain as a snowboard instructor on the 20th of November. I am enrolled in the community college up in tahoe and plan to take some renewable energy classes up there too. I have a few other things in store, but those are the only two that are concrete.

i will have my cell in the states. same as last time.


My blog will be going into retirement at this point until i decide to venture abroad again. if you want to know whats up, send me an email or give me a call. Hope you have enjoyed the updates as much as i have enjoyed writing them.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brazil - Raining and Amazing

Seriously, only got 3 days of sun in brazil, but what a country!

Started in Florianopolis, a gorgeous beach town, where i met some local guys who took us on a hour hike through the jungle, surf boards in hand, to a secluded beach. I really recommend this place. Very tranquil and i could easily spend a month there.

After only 2 days, i left for belo horezante. My friend Guilherme, who i traveled for a bit with in peru/bolivia, was there and i got to stay with his family. His mom picked me up from the airport and we were able to communicate with her portuenglish and my spanglish. We got to their place and watched soap operas together for 2 hrs until guilherme got home. Soaps out there are pretty entertaining. I cried, laughed, and even learned a little along the way. Thanks Mrs. Parrah

Partied thursday night and then went out to his lake house the for the weekend. This place was so chill. get there, kick off your shoes, grab a beer and just hang out in a hammock. we went to the lake and did some wakeboarding and was just a very relaxing weekend. I got a little sick one night and had to go to bed early, but nothing major. guess the last 340 days of drinking every day is catching up with me.

Next was Rio. Ahhhh rio. would love to be here during the summer. Got at least one sunny day and the beaches were just packed with beautiful people wearing next to nothing. Brazilians are very comfortable in their skin. Fat, skinny, flabby, firm, all wearing speedos, or floss. I was either disgusted or turned on every 2 seconds.

The parties are non stop. I swear people do not have jobs there. We went to one club where there are just hoards of brazilian girls throwing themselves at gringos (they call em gringo hunters out there) Let me just say, that the desperation in some of these girls eyes was a little sad. And a little awkward. Plus you are not sure who is working and who is just trying to be a baby's mamma.

After leaving the party in rio, i went to sao paulo for the last part of my trip. I met up with my friend Caue (ka-way) who i met in chile. Stayed at his house and kicked it with his friends all weekend. they are just like me and my friends. We road bikes to the park and drank beers, played video games, and toured the city. I was even invited to a brazilian wedding which had an open bar, all you can eat buffet, and a funk band. SO much fun. Weddings out there were pretty similar to the US. except this was a fucking plush setup.

I just got back to Ajijic last night and it was great to see my dad. It is the end of a long journey and the start of a new adventure. I will update some final thoughts in a few days. for now, i plan on drinking some tequila and detoxing from a years worth of bouncing around.

Also really good to see my dog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Argentina schmargentina

So I am probably the worste argentina traveler I know. Didn´t even make it to Buenos Aires, And i had originally inteded to hang out there for a month. Fuckin hell.

To sum it up, i cruized through the andes from santiago, chile to mendoza, argentina. Bueatiful ride, easy border crossing, ski lifts going right over the road we were driving on.

Mendoza was more suburban than i had thought. It consisted of really wide streets, pedestrian walkways and lots and lots of wine. In fact, there is a bike tour you can do of the wineries and you get as much vino as you want. dangerously fantastic.

Then, a 17 hr bus ride to cordoba where i hung out for litereally one day. walked the city for 7 hours, ate a bunch of ice cream (they love ice cream out here), went to the bars at night which consists of a ton of students.

Then woke up and took a 22 hour bus ride to Iguazu falls. stratling the brazilian Argentine border. Huge waterfalls that really are impresive, but are set up just like disneyland. Do you know what the best thing about walking with 165 yr olds...? There´s 100 of them. And they walk really really slowly and take pictures every two seconds.

But i managed to find an off beat trail where you hike 4k into the jungle and end up at a pretty secluded waterfall/natural pool you can swim in. You just sit back and think... I am swiming at a base of an amazing waterfall in the jungle in argentina. Life is OK.

then i got my visa sorted out for brazil ($150) and took a 14 hour bus ride to florianopolis. A surf town on the coast south of sao paolo.

I am just waiting to book my flight back to mexico which will be around the 15th of October. This long trip is coming to an end, but i don´t plan to actually start reality anytime soon. Whatever that means. I still have some things to look forward to out here. I have a brazilian friend who has a house on a lake and we plan to do some wakeboarding this weekend. Then i will end my trip with a week in RIO. I must also say I am very excited to hang out with good friends and family once again. I love you guys!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm off. Finally!

Just got back from a combination pizza hut and taco bell. For those of you who don't know, I LOVE TACO BELL but combinations are shit because they always sacrifice quality when they try to make two different types of food at the same fast food establishment. Stick to one thing and do it well i say.

Anyway, in spite of this theory it was fucking delicious and a much needed greasy hangover cure.

Leaving for Mendoza Argentina in the morning and I am thanking the lord that I actually have a morning that I will feel human enough to endure a long bus ride. These last few days have been really rough party days as Chile just celebrated its national independence. The whole country is one huge whirlwind of drunken, hot dog eating madness.

Went to a DJ Dead Mouse show the other night and danced our heads off till 5 am. Even encountered some girls who wouldn't stop making out with each other. But not cuz were insistently asking them to. They were lesbians trying to pick up one of our friends for an all girl 3some. Our friend graciously fought them off for 3 hrs.

A couple of my friends from the animal refuge came out here and they ended up in Chilean jail for getting into a fight. One my buddies took an acoustic guitar to the back of the head. They fight dirty out here with no apparent regard or appreciation for music. I, quite frankly, am appalled.

Today my ipod got all funked up while trying to update new software and i lost most of my music, and my quality headphones are broken. But all in all everything is in decent shape and I am ready for at least 1 night of detox. But who knows, it is still early and my hangover is wearing off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This place is a little intense

Just to give you some insight into my perspective and state of mind in santiago right now, here is a poem i wrote about the bar in the hostel here. I think if i stay here another week i will be clinically insane.

Trapped again. Unable to escape I keep coming back here. The dim soft light reflects off the dull adobe walls; barely illuminating the refracted face in the wine glass that stares me down as I consume. Lucifer! What time is it? There is no clock. Roll another cigarette and ponder new ways to take the conversation to inappropriate places. How long will these friendly strangers bathe in my filthy suds. I know them from yesterday’s darkness and they are back again. They must like me. And I them. We are starving creatures who feast on the self-destructive hours of the night. Chained to the poisonous vials we chase for eternity I share as much disgust with myself as I do with them. Disgusting swine mongering parasites. Get the fuck out of here. But alas we are trapped. Again. And we are hungry.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feelin Chile

My wounds have started to heal up, my bug bites are almost all gone, I am able to buy Parmesan cheese, and i have Chile to thank for all of it.

This place is definitely more expensive than any country i have been to on the trip, but has a very European vibe that is transmitted not only through the architecture and cuisine, but in the culture as well.

So I began my Chilean adventure in the northern desert. Incredibly vivid stars, supposedly one of the best place in the world for gazing, and also one of, if not THE driest place on Earth.

Up there i took some bike rides to salt lakes. BTW, 60k bike ride in the fuckin desert is a terrible terrible idea.

Did some star gazing with this french astronomer dude.

and went sand boarding down the dunes up there. This was pretty cool. I had sand boarded before but this particular day we decided to hike to the very top of the ridge and watch the sunset. We stumbled upon a rock igloo which someone built to protect from the wind which was ripping. Me and a couple of friends i had made built a fire and hung out in this igloo for a few hours while the sunset, watched some satellites orbit the sky as it was so clear, and sandboarded down by moonlight. Romantic i know. No we did not hold hands.

Oh, I also ended up at a local guys house who was having a huge party out there on some ranch house 20 min outside of town. Stayed up till 5am and ended up having to run away from some local girls who were stalking us.

I meandered down the coast solo for the next week or so and just had some me time. Hit up a few different towns, went to the wine country, It was nice to have some quiet time and not feel obligated to party. Although one night i did sing johnny cash karaoke at a random bar, and the Chileans apparently love Johnny cash because i felt like a mini celeb.

Oh, and all this time was trying to line up an interview to become a snowboarding instructor up in Tahoe and was having trouble predicting when i would have phone/skype access, or where i would be in 4 days time.

Anyway, when i got to Valparaiso i finally got the interview. And got a verbal offer from my new boss. So... if i do get the paperwork (which should come next week) I'll be living in tahow this winter being a ski bum. Good times.

After i left the interview i was feeling good. I ended up talking to some random chilean guys who were drinking in an alley on the street. I asked them for some of their wine and ended up partying with them all night. They were soccor hooligans for their local club team, The Wonders, and all had tattoos of their team and had stories of all the fights they got into. Gnarley dudes, but good fun all the same.

Next i made it to Pichilemu,a beach town just south of valpairiso. I met a guy on the bus going there and he was from colorado and went to CSU. interestingly enough on that same day, CU was playing CSU in the big game, so we had a little rivalry going.

Pichilemu. Cool town, fun waves, cold water. we even bet on some horse races when we were out there and won. Not to mention i ate the grossest hot dog of my life which for some reason, chileans love. Hot dog, mayo guac mix, more mayo, hot sauce, mustard, ketchup. It is a dog loaded to the brim with sauces that, just let me say, DO NOT mix well in your stomach, nor is it possible to have a clean mustache for the next few hours.

Now i am in Santiago and i went snowboarding up here 2 days ago, Amazing. Surfing and snowboarding within a 2 day period. Just like california. You could actually see the ocean from the top of the mountain.

Lat night i went to see a 20 piece Chilean band called Banda Conmocion. The show started at midnight and did not stop will 4am. Everyone was completely soaked in sweat cuz of all the dancing.

Gonna leave for Argentina in a few days, zip over to brazil, and most likely end my trip in Buenos Aires. Flights are just cheaper from there. Got to be up in the mountains by November 20th.

The adventure continues.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cats, Bugs, Bears, Monkeys, Piss, Shit & Shitty internet

So, yes, long time no update. shitty internet connections. For those of you I have talked to this will be repeat. For all others....

Sit back relax and enjoy.

So, I spent the last month in the bolivian jungle at an animal refuge. They offer refuge to animals who had a tough start in life i.e. abused monkeys (they actually found human semen in one I shit you not), talking parrots that were pets in bars and got peanuts thrown at them, thus learning really fowl language (like the word pun?)Pumas who´s mothers were killed and kept as pets (nothing funny about that), etc.

so I got there with intentions of working for 2 weeks with monkeys, but they shit and piss all over you all day long so i decided i wanted to work with a cat instead. but to work with a cat you have to stay a month And unfortunitly they had no cat openings for a week. so I said what the hell, you only get to walk a cat through the bolivian jungle once in your life right?. So I worked construction for a week and then got to work with the most baddass cat in the park. His name is Roy. He is a mountain Puma (very similar to a mountain lion)

What an experience!!! for starters, your average day consists of hiking 7 miles in the jungle up and down treacherous terrain every morning followed by lunch and a nap. Then we hike another 5 miles in the afternoon.

Let me just say this is not like walking a dog. Roy tries to pounce, scratch and bite you every chance he gets. And he gets quite a few, is usually successful and he´s a strong fucker. And you walk him with a rope that is tied around your waste. If he takes off running, he takes you with him. He dragged me down a cliff once which yeilded a large sratch and a bruize on half my arm.

For the first week I wanted to say fuck it and quit because it was so hard. And many people do quit. Last month he went through 5 people in a week. But after a while, your knees get used to all the hiking and your wits sharpen up real fast. Plus you get to know the cat and can learn to stop his attack. One time he jumped on me and I threw his ass down a hill, another time he took a chunk out of my leg. You win some you lose some. Seriously, this is one of the gnarliest things I have ever done and is definitely the bloodiest and muddiest I have ever been in my entire life, but you really learn a lot about earning respect. And demanding it in return.

the days were long. 7:30am till 5:30pm with only one day off every 2 weeks but everyone parties at night together. really a cool group of people at this place who all share a love for animals. Hard work, sometimes scary, but really rewarding.

let´s see..... what are some fun anecdotes....

-millions of bug bites that come to a head and puss up each day which offers plenty of great popping entertainment right before bed time.

-we lived in a shit hole hostel appropriately named Las Vegas, where the family running it thinks it´s funny to turn off the water while you are in the shower.
This is only if you are lucky enough to have water. Often times the monkey volunteers had to wear their monkey shit and piss to bed.

-Everyone gets giardia or a worm or some sort of shitting virus/parasite. The dude who I was walking Roy with got giardia twice. You know you have it because you go to the doctor, shit in a tiny cup to test the stool sample. Strange how they give you a tiny cup because if you have the bug, aiming bodily projectiles might be a problem. Everyone discusses the state of their BM´s (bowel movements for the laymen)out here. pretty hilarious.

-One girl got lost in the jungle walking a cat and when she did not come back for the party that night we had to go look for her. I had recently purchased an inflatable alligator raft which I turned into an alligator costume so I had to go look for her while I was a drunk alligator. We didn´t find her until the next morning. Buzz kill.

-I put together a fundraising party my last night at the park and we all got pretty smashed. To make a long story short, we raised money, partied till 5 am, and when I woke up at 1pm the next day I realized I had slept walked and pissed in the corner of my room. ON and IN my backpack. What the fuck!? (first time for everything) Plus I was leaving the next day so I had to travel with a piss soaked backpack for the last 24 hrs. Not cool. Turns out I was not the only one who pissed in my room that night.

-I left the park yesterday and last night I had the coldest bus ride of my life. Not only, to my surprise, did my pissy backpack freeze, but I was so cold I had to do aerobic exercises in the bus for an hour straight just to keep warm. I kid you not. It was then that one of the Bolivians realized I was freezing and was nice enough to give me one of his 3 blankets. I was the only gringo on the bus so the Bolivians must have thought I was mentally challenged.

I am currently waiting for a jeep to take me across the border into Chile where I will meander down and try to get some snowboarding in. The jeep was supposed to leave yesterday, but i got stuck in this town another night since there not enough people to fill the jeep, thus making it as proffitable as possible. Hopefully I can leave tonight.

The last month has been really great. A truly unique experience, but it is time to let my wounds and bug bites heal for a while.

Oh, and I got to work with a bear out there too who rips coconuts open with his bear hands. His name was Balu.

Enjoy the photos. I´ll try and update more often when i can.