Friday, March 13, 2009

Bussin' It

So, I just arrived in Bogota, Columbia after a rather interesting 30 hour bus ride from Quito. After some long goodbyes to my friends in Ecuador who I will surely miss, I headed to the depot to await my bus. But, after arriving there, I found out that the bus was going to be almost two hours late because of a small accident. Wonderful, this was the bus that I would be trapped on for more than a day. Finally, the bus arrived. But, because I was stuck arguing with the clerk about the weight of my backpack, I was the last one on board, and the only seat left was the one five feet from the bathroom with the broken door that kept flying open the entire trip, revealing the overpowering mix of that nasty blue stuff and urine. This, by the way, wouldn't have been an issue if the clerk would have just gotten off the scale while my backpack was being weighed. I kept telling him I was quite certain my backpack didn't weigh 210 pounds, and I wasn't going to pay a $34 surcharge! Eventually, the bus left the depot and we were on our way to Bogota. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that every person on the bus made it a point to pee at least once an hour just to be spiteful to the poor Gringo. At least you weren't allowed to crap in the toilet. They pulled over the bus for that. Well, moving on, our first stop along the way was a small little village where we had a chance to eat lunch, and relieve our bowels. The funny thing was my friend Julian mistook a small family hut for the bathroom. He just walked into their house and into the family bathroom and took a nasty dump! then proceeded to ask the father where the wash area was. The entire family just looked at him as if an alien had just invaded thier home. After that, it was back on the bus, where I had the wonderful privelage of listening to Columbian folk music for the next 28 hours, and discovering that our bus driver was smoking pot the whole trip, where the smell competed with the bathroom for the rest of the way. I think it was the closest I've ever been to becoming legally insane. Then, halfway to our destination, we were boarded by the Columbian control police who wanted to check everyone's bags for drugs and weapons. (They never checked the driver's..hmmmm, possible bribe maybe)This is when my very bright friend Julian(remember him?) kept on asking the officer closest to us if he could check out his very large machine gun. After the third request, the officer findly just looked at us and asked if we were together. I hated to be rude, but I happily said that I had never met him before. After all the excitement, we finally arrived in Bogota in one piece. What a country!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lake Titicaca

Well, as I am writing this, I am actially back in Quito, Ecuador but I wanted to blog some of the interesting things we saw at Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru. After arriving in Puno, we stayed the night at a nice hostel called La Manzana. From there, we booked a two day trek to the Lake and visited 3 islands, plus 2 handmade floating islands. These are made by the local people by using floating reeds and adding more and more until the island is several feet thick and able to support dozens of people. We had a good time talking with the local folks and exploring the islands. That night we stayed with a local family who fed us food that was basically unidentifiable. I think my bowl had a pair of eyes in it, but I tried not to focus to much on that. The next day we took a boat ride to two more islands, and hiked to the top of the island of Uros, and got to see a nice sunset over the lake. There were even more Inca ruins here as well. After our two days in Puno, I headed back to Cusco for a little rest, then it was off to Lima again for two days, then finally a 40 hour bus back to Guayaquil and eventually Quito. Time for a siesta!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Machu Piccu

Well, finally I made it back from four days of mountain biking and hiking through the Inca trail and up to the famous ruins of Machu Piccu. Although the actual trip was amazing, it did not come without a few bumps and bruises along the way. The first day started with our guide picking us up at the hostel at 7:30 in the morning to take us on a 3 hour bus ride to the beginning of the trail where we would continue on with mountain bikes for the next 5 hours. The bike ride was amazing and a little on the dangerous side as well. There were a total of 15 people in our trek, and 3 of us took some pretty bad spills along the way, including me. With only about 20 minutes left of the bike ride, I hit a bad spot in the road and flew over the top of my handle bars at about 20 mph. Fortunately, I had a helmet or I might of had a craked coconut. However, my arm and leg took some pretty bad scrapes and bruises, which would make the subsequent 3 days a little daunting walking to the ruins. We slept that night in a small little village, and had a nice home cooked meal. The following day we woke up at 6:00am to start our foot hike. This would be a total of 8 hours walking through the rain forrest jungle, up and down hills that pushed us all to the limit. Along the way, we saw some amazing views and animals that made it all worth least most of it. My little problem with heights was also tested along the way when we had to walk about a half mile along the edge of one of the mountains on a very thin wrong step and... Finally, we arrived at our destination for that night, which was a small town where we had a nice dinner, and spent the night dancing at a local club that was filled mostly with locals of all ages. The funniest thing that night was the fact that our tour guide got more than a little drunk, and had to lead us through more jungle hiking the next day on 4 hours of sleep and a whopping hangover. Somehow, he managed to do it, and got us to our next destination on the third day, which was the town of Aguas Caliente. Here we had another good meal, and explored the town a bit before heading to bed early to prepare for the fourth day where we had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to begin our short hike to Machu Piccu. When we arrived at Machu Piccu, it was about 6:00 am, and I had more blisters on my feet than I was able to count, but I tried to just grin and bear it for one more day. Soon we began our tour of an amazing culture that mysteriously vanished before it´s time. First, we walked with our guide for about 3 hours, and got some great information on the history of the Incan Empire and the stories behind the ruins. After that, we were free to roam the ruins for a few hours and get some great photos. I was amazed at how much we were able to see and learn from the various temples and altars that were still in great condition, and they really gave you a glimpse of what it must have been like to walk among the Quetchuan people and Inca kings from so many years ago. Next, it´s off to Puno on Lake Titicaca for a few days of fun and sun. I´ll keep you posted once I get back. Don´t forget, you can check out my photos on Facebook, and I will also be posting to Flickr once I get back to Quito. Caio´

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Traveling Peru

I know, Ive been neglecting my blog, but finding internet in Peru is not as easy as it may seem. Not to mention finding one with speeds that arent as slow as a snail. I arrived in Lima, Peru on Feb. 2 after 36 hours on the bus through winding and bumpy roads and checked into a very cool hostel called Kusillo. I stayed in Lima for 4 days and had a great time just exploring the city and making some friends at the hostel. From there, I went on to Ica/Huacachina which is basically in the middle of one of the dryest deserts on earth. But fortunately, I found a little hideaway with a huge swimming pool and tropical drinks all day. That evening me and some friends went on a two hour sandboarding tour where they take you out in the middle of the dunes by way of a dunebuggy. Our driver was clinically insane and made sure to drive in such a way, that we all thought we would surely die before ever getting to sandboard. Luckily, we made it, and sandboarding was a blast. After a couple days in Ica Me and 3 travelers I met there headed on to Cusco, the second largest city in Peru. Ive been here 2 days at a hostel called Loki, and we are having a great time checking out the sights of the city. Tomorrow, we head out on our 5 day tour through Maccu Pichu, which includes one day of biking, and 4 days of hiking. The tour takes us through Volcanic thermal baths, ancient Inca ruins, rope bridges, ancient Inca temples, and the heart of the Perubian jungle. Ill try to post after the tour with some more photos. Caio for now

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tattoo Me

So, I am really trying to keep up with this blog thing, but geez, it´s so hard with hardly any time to spare...ok, that´s just my excuse. Anyway, as you can probably tell from the title, I just got a new tattoo here in Quito. I´m telling you, there is something in the air here. I came here such a good boy(yeah, right), and now I have fallin´into the world of tattoos and piercings. I am leaving for Lima, Peru in 5 days and in just enough time for my tats to heal, so I can properly show them There is a tremendous artist here, the one who did my new one, who has agreed to do some add-on work to enhance one of my other tattoos from earlier on. So, maybe when I return from Bolivia, I will take him up on it. I sure will miss Quito, when I have to come back to the U.S., but if everything goes well with my visa, I will be returning to Ecuador for work in September 2009. So, that´s about it. See ya again soon :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music Nights

There isn´t a whole to update since the last blog entry, just finishing up three more weeks here in Quito, then it´s off to Peru and Bolivia for a month before returning back to Ecuador to tour the country for a month. As of now, the current plan is to head back to the U.S. around the first of April, where I have to wait until my permanent work visa is approved around September, then it´s back to Ecuador where I will be working here for a year to two years on the coast in a city called Canoa. In some ways I hate to even have to leave here to head back to the U.S. because the restaurant is doing well, and it´s a lot of fun here. We just started having music nights up on the terrace here at the hotel, and every night is a different theme. Sundays are 80´s night, and everyone hadf a great time eating , drinking, and listening to music from the past. But, after I leave in April, they have to close the restaurant, until I return in September, because they don´t have anyone to take it over. Anyway, it will still be nice to visit family and friends back home for a bit, but Ecuador and the people and culture here sure grow on you. Caio´for now!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Years!

I realize this post is a little late, but celebrating New Years in Quito will do that to you. This was my first New Years away from home, but everyone had a great time. The traditions here are so much different, and it was great to experience all the new things that New Years here had to offer. The party usually starts off around 6pm New Years Eve, and it's filled with everyone telling stories from the past year. Of the interesting customs here is to make paper stuffed, life sized dummies that are displayed around the city, and then set on fire at midnight creating small fires around the city. The idea is that it represents all the bad from the previous year, and setting them on fire destroys that, and prepares the new year ahead. We played music through the night, and danced, danced, danced! Just after midnight, everyone sits down for a huge home cooked meal. This year I cooked, and I made chicken parm, mashed potatoes, grilled green beans with tomatoes, rice and corn, and brandy apples. Everyone enjoyed the gringo style food, and some never even had chicken parm Finally, most of us went to bed around 3:00 am, and when we woke up the next day, there were still people singing and dancing around all the small fires burning in the streets of Quito...what a NEW YEAR!!

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