Tuesday, March 31, 2009

more pix...

I realize some of you don't have facebook and have not seen the 1st pic from the trip...thus, here's a random sampling of Ecuador, Perú, and Chile...enjoy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cuzco, 45 hours on a bus, Santiago, Radiohead!!!

Cuzco finished up quite nicely. Never ended up doing Machu Picchu because I want to do the full 4 day trip when I do it. Even so, I got to climb ruins in a nearby city called Pisac...unbelievable. I also made some good friends while I was there who really made my experience in Cuzco a lot of fun. Even though I didn't end up in the 'Party Hostel' (Loki) I still got to do a lot of fun stuff, and still broke in to Loki several times to play pool and such. Went dancing, ate very well, wandered the streets, climbed up the city and got into a monument for free because I walked in the back way, all sorts of good stuff. I look forward to going back, hopefully very soon.

Next...the bus ride. Sunday I hopped on a bus from Cuzco to Tacna (the border with Chile) and that was about 15 hours, not too bad, but the people on the bus were obnoxious. It's just the luck of the draw. Some busrides go great, others seem to be weeks long. That and I almost got shipped to the wrong city - at one of our stops, I got out to look for food...I turn around, and the bus is leaving...so I run back, bang on the door, get back in, and something feels weird...I GOT ON THE WRONG BUS! So I yell at the driver to open the door, and he ignores me...he's getting ready to pull out of the lot...it takes 3 yells for him to pay me attention. Finally...he let me off. It wasn't that embarrassing cuz I was in such a panic. I was careful to note my bus number from then on, and I can never rest at our rest stops...I'm rather in knots.

The border crossing was a lot smoother than from Ecuador to Peru. Got on a colectivo, that took us through all the customs offices for both countries and then to the first big bus station in Chile (Arica). When I got to the bus station, there was a bus leaving for Santiago in 10 minutes. Worked out perfect. Got my ticket, paid my tax (not the $131, just like $2 - thankfully), and then jumped on a bus for 30 hours. It flew by, honestly. It was a very smooth ride, lots of good movies and plenty of space to myself. My iPod even died and I was still fine without music (by the way - Chile has a different electrical current - thanks for the converter Lizzy!).

I got to Santiago and got checked into the hostel just fine. They have a subway system here that is super easy to use, so I've done a little exploring on that, and just walking and wandering. The hostel's cool enough but it's been a little slower getting to know people. That's fine. I've got time now to decide if I'm going to stay in Santiago for a bit or keep moving.

And last night at last was Radiohead. It was so good. People were going mental as it was the first show Radiohead's ever done in Chile. The weather was perfect, the opener Kraftwerk was crazy good, and Radiohead put on yet another amazing show. At one point Thom got pissed like 4 songs in and walked off the stage - something about the monitors not working on stage. It was a little scary, you could tell the band was a little taken aback, kind of wondering what to do. They waited, and people started chanting "Olé, olé olé olé, Thom Yorke, Thom Yorke!" It was classic! He came back out, and eventually the stage levels got ironed out. The only song they did that I hadn't heard before live was "True Love Waits". Thom did it like an intro for "Everything In Its Right Place".

So now, got time to figure out what to do next. I've heard the beaches are quite nice here, but I still want to head south to Tierra del Fuego, and preferably not on a tour. I've also solicited some info on TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) to see about doing an online certification to be able to teach and support myself on the road...would be stellar. If any of you have any info on that, any inside info, I'd love to know.

That's it for now. Oh one more thing...I'm trying to post videos right now to my YouTube account, and they're ridiculously slow, but I've got a couple. Feel free to check them out. A couple stupid ones, a couple with footage from meetings, and if it'll ever hurry up, some footage from the show last night. The link is:


Off I go...they're doing BBQ tonight at the hostel and I was supposed to sign up an hour ago. Oops. Laters.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Avoiding the Gringo Tax

So you ask, what is the gringo tax? Well, the gringo tax comes in so many different forms. I just found out yesterday that Chile has a gringo tax of $131 if I fly into Santiago. But, jajaja, they apparently don't pull that mess if I ride in by bus. Done, and done. The ridiculous part is that it's actually a reciprocal tax. The US charges Chileans $131 for entering the country, so it's Chile's way of saying, you screw us, we'll be happy to screw you too. Can't really say I blame them at all, to be perfectly honest. But hopefully, if my info is right, I'll be able to skip that mess, get my 90 day tourist visa, and then on to Santiago.

I just booked my hostel in Santiago. I've learned from being here in Cuzco that it is pretty important to work out the hostel in advance if it's a good one. Joe had tried to book me a room in his hostel a few days before. I got here, and had no room. Now, I ended up finding another hostel for the same price, and instead of the dorm thing, I have a private room and bathroom. It's just not the place to meet people.

Joe and I were supposed to hook up the night I got here as he got back from the Inca Trail. But he got back late, and I didn't have a place at his hostel, so we missed eachother. I figured he was going to fly out the next day, but he got a stomach bug on the trail and ended up waiting in Cuzco for a later flight. Thus, he and I finally hooked up yesterday and had a grand time catching up and scheming for the future. He should be in Lima right now, on his way back to Antigua for a month and a half...lucky! Talking to him yesterday got me jonesing again to go back to Antigua. Who knows?

Cuzco has been stellar. The city is clean, beautiful, weather is perfect, people are cool, and the food has been quite good too. Still haven't had cuy (guinea pig) which is what everyone says you have to eat for novelty's sake...think I'm good, thanks. It's a lot of money for a little meat from what I hear. Call me crazy, but I'm among those who believe cuy belongs in cages running on wheels.

It looks like, if my calculations are right, I can stay here til Sunday and still get to Santiago in time to make my reservation in the hostel (Tuesday), and plenty of time before the Radiohead show (Thursday). So I think I'll chill here a bit longer, since it doesn't appear to be the marathon trip I feared it would be. 15 hours from Cuzco to the border, check out of Peru, walk across, get my stamps, and then 30ish hours from the border to Santiago. Sounds rough, I know, but me and the bus are getting along pretty good up til now. Especially the buses with semi-camas - the seat is nearly horizontal. Muy chevere.

Toss a prayer up for my stomach again, if it comes to mind. Something's still not totally right, though I don't feel dehabilitated and weak like I did in Quito. Trying to avoid cipro again if at all possible.

Ok, done for now. Off to figure out what I'm going to do with myself with all these extra days here...I may get to hit Machu Picchu after all...vamos a ver. Laters.


Friday, March 13, 2009


Hey kiddos! Here safe in Lima, after a couple very long, speedy bus rides down the coast. Just got here around 7am, got some sleep, as much as my neck would allow.

The border experience was, well, bad. Partially due to my own stupidity, partially due to people at the border wanting to be my 'amigo'. Note: when someone has to tell you that you're their friend, YOU'RE NOT THEIR FRIEND!!! With that said, and with little time to give detail, I'll say that the taxista that 'helped' me across the border charged me $30 because I didn't ask him ahead of time what he charged...don't do that. I knew not to do that, but was in a hurry, and had no idea what to do or where to go. The guy manipulated me, and I was ticked. Also, I pulled out dollars out of the ATM, and it was fake! Out of an ATM!!! So I was thoroughly beside myself by the time I made it to Tumbes, to the first big city in Peru where I needed to catch the bus to Lima.

But God showed some kindness to me and answered a prayer I'd prayed the day before for a travel companion...a girl named Silvia saw me at the customs office, I shared my pen with her there, and then she saw me at the ticket counter in utter disgust after they rejected my $20. She came up to me with compassion to make sure all was well, and I told her all that had happened. Turns out she's Ecuadorian, and is traveling to Argentina to play music for a bit with friends and sell cds for them. She was on the same bus from the border to Lima, and so we moved seats a bit and rode together. It made a 20 hour bus ride a bit more palletable. Oh and she made me a hat! Right while I was sitting with her, she sewed me a hat! And it is pimp...I can't wait to show a pic.

So all is well...the tummy's much better, thanks for your prayers. Just about to finish my prescription of Cipro. Good timing...I'm craving some Peruvian ceviche. The bus for Cuzco leaves at 3:30 this afternoon!

Grace and peace...He is real, and still moving, and not silent.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

¡Bendito burrito!

So I have been a bit sick to my stomach for the last week...haven't kept much of anything in there for more than a couple hours and have lost 10+ lbs. Not good for a dude who's approx 20 lbs underweight to begin with. But, God in His great mercy illuminated a Taco Bell in my path today, and it is still in my stomach. I could not resist the Bell. It called. Or rang. Whatever. I was dreaming of salsa in general...like El Jinete salsa...you know what I mean...and well, it's not the Nete, but it'll do.

The stomach bug has delayed my departure to Peru. I'm now skipping Cuenca for now and hoping to make it to Cuzco in time to meet up with my friend Joe this Saturday. He was my roommate in Guat, a super cool guy who's in the same stage of life as me with quitting work and such. He hasn't been in the States since October, if I'm not mistaken.

Oh yeah...I forgot to report the legitimate reason I feel better this afternoon...I started back on Cipro. It's basically legalized poison, from what I know, killing everything in it's path, good and bad. Just the thing you want floating around in your system. But since I've got to be going, and nothing else has worked, and the lab report said I have amoebas in abundance, Cipro it is. Hasta nunca duendes.

Toss a prayer up if you think of it...Quito to Cuzco is a long busride even without stomach issues.

Thanks folks.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

La Sierra

Well, Rafa and I arrived in Yaruquí yesterday, and it feels like I´m back in Antigua, just without oxygen. We´re approx 2 miles high, and parked on the ecuator. Rafa´s family is wonderful. His Mom is one of the kindest ladies and I see where Rafa gets his servant spirit from. I now have one week here in Quito (Yaruquí is just 30 minutes from Quito), and then I hit the road. David and Mónica just got back in the country from the US, and we haven´t seen them or talked to them yet.

I heard that you guys in the ATL got snow...not fair. Now I´m going to have to find some down here too.

Peace out.