Thanks for checking out my blog. I will work to keep it current, with photos and posts. YOU CAN FIND THE PHOTOS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. ¡gracias!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Last Couple Days

Im going home soon. Like REALLY soon. 2 days! It's bizarre. I guess all along I never thought this time would come or that when it did it would feel like a long time has passed, but now being at the end it seemed to have been so short, and fast. I guess that is how it always is. I have been thinking a lot, that reflection that only happens at the end of something. I can't ignore the overwhelming sense of how f#%$ing lucky I am. I have so much to be grateful for, and a lot of people to be grateful to. People back home, and people I have met along the way, who without thinking would offer their homes, time, food, and friends.

What is next? well I have spent 8 months trying to figure that out, and right now I guess I don't exactly know. Most of the time I feel okay with that and even excited by it. I know things I want to do, books I want to read, meals I want to cook, clothes I want to wear, but I dont know "what I want to be" but somehow that seems kind of beside the point. Hopefully that will take care of itself if I focus on being the kind of person I want to be. For a while I thought I had to have some goal or job to define me but now it seems okay to define myself and work hard doing what I want to do and let the rest just happen.

I can't wait to see everyone and eat and talk and laugh with you. Thank you for reading this. I have been suprised and a bit embarrased by your responses. You all mean a lot to me and I hope that someday I can make you see how grafteful I am to have such amazing family and friends.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I'm in Buenos Aires, so naturally in true homo form I have been singing Evita, namely "Watch Out Buenos Aires!". Again I am fitting right in.

Since my last post I have been back to Rio then to Sao Paulo and then on my last long bus ride direct to Buenos Aires.

Sao Paulo, SA's largest city, was good. I didnt stay too long and I am not sure if I would want to. After a while it becomes a bit chlostrophobic and dreary. what I liked about it was that amid all the ugliness you would stumble upon some pretty amazing spots, like a beautiful park, or an old train station, or a market with amazing brazilian fruits and dishes and  desserts.

But now I feel like I am in the Jewel of them all. Buenos Aires. Stunning. It's a close tie with Rio for the most beautiful city. I really love it here, and feel like I could stay for a long time (as it seems many travelers do) It is a bit like New York meets a european city but still has that Latin feel that is so vibrant.

I have 4 days left and plan to make the most of them.

See you all very soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eating too much in Brazil´s old capital

I have spent the last 4 days in Salvador Brazil, mostly accompanied by my terrific hosts the Peixoto´s (thank you Julie!). I have been spoiled from the start and the last four days has been a constant parade of great food, beautiful sights and warm friendly Baihanos (people from the region). I can´t say enough good things about them. Mila and Katia and Fernando and Mila´s kids and their friends and aunts and grandparents and on and on have all welcomed me like only Brazilians can.

Salvador is beautiful. Situated on the point of a huge bay it was an old port city protected by large forts and marinas. The old part of the city is really spectacular, it is what you see if you look up Salvador online. Of course not all of Salvador looks this way, like most places there are many poorer areas and the nouveau rich parts with dozens of new buildings being constructed at once.

Among the colorful skyscrapers you will see a handful that pop out and are distinguished from the rest, these are the buildings designed by the Peixoto´s (my hosts). They are playful and exciting and really fun to look at. It makes you mad that so many buildings are so bland and unimaginative when you see what some creativity and ingenuity can do.

I am coming to the end of my travels (I can hear my mom saying "hooray!"). I am so accustomed to this lifestyle at this point I think it is goin to be very strange to start a routine and be in one place. But I am also looking forward to that. What I don´t want to loose is the sense of adventure I have had while traveling. Feeling that every day is an opportunity to discover something new. Like the work of the Peixoto´s I want to bring excitement and joy in what is often dull and ordinary. That sounded like a cheesy graduation card or something. But I actually mean it, as cliche as it may be. As you might be able to tell, the end of my trip has been very reflective.

I look forward to sharing with all of you when I get back and hearing everything I have missed in the past 8 months. Love You, and hope you have an adventure today.

Friday, September 3, 2010

the boy from Ipanema

So I can´t get that song out of my head. And I look really awesome singing it walking down the boardwalk in Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro. I arrived here about 5 days ago, straight from Iguazu. And I am living like a brazilian aristocrat staying with my friend Stephanie Kane from UCLA. Life has been so difficult here, we have to go to the beach all day and walk around and get served delicious brazilian food. I really have it tough.
Rio is SO beautiful, the natural setting is stunning. These large rocks jut out all throughout the city, (picture half-dome but black with rainforest around it) and the beaches are beautiful, pearly blue with white sand and the BEST people watching!
Brazil has treated me well. And my friend Stephanie is really spoiling me. But as I come to the end of my trip I find myself getting very excited for home. I miss all of you and wish you were here to share this with me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cataratas de Iguazú (some things just sound better in spanish)

well 40 hours of bus rides later and im in Argentina, on the boarder with Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay at one of the natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls. I realize I'm kind of ruining a lot of natural wonders for myself, first glaciers, then volcanoes, and salt flats and now waterfalls, I just can't imagine anything compares.

I walked around the park for a long time and at first I was searching for that moment when the enormity of the falls would just overwhelm me and all of life's questions would become clear and I would know who I was in the world... well I found it doesn't quite work that way. Having seen some amazing impressive sights in my trip I keep finding the moments of wonder and amazement kind of sneak up on me, and they can happen just as easily in a congested city. But it is pretty funny to look around and see other people looking for that same feeling. I finally did have my "aha" moment when I was close enough to the falls to feel the spray. I was both awed by the power and inspired by it to put all of my energy into living. that sounds weird, even to me, and maybe that isn't the best way to say it, but I was just inspired to be...BOLD! that's it, bold.

I really loved Argentina. I went to Mendoza and Cordobá, similar looking cities, it is very reminiscent of Texas or the West (except with mountains!). The people are generally nice and the country just has a good feel to it. I look forward to spending some more time here at the end of my trip.

Tomorrow I am off to Rio de Janeiro! I am very excited. There I will meet Stephanie whom I went to UCLA with. She is from Rio, but moved to the USA when she was 14ish. I will spend a bit more than a week there, then go north to Salvador to stay with friends of Julie's (friend of my Mom's). Apart from being almost broke, the end of my trip is going to be the cherry on the cake of a wonderful adventure.

Happy Birthday DAD! Love You!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mike and Caren...

...f'ing rock (do kids read this? is it just you mom? prob best to censor just in case). It is really nice to hang out with buddies, feels like a somewhat normal life. I have just been lounging around my hostel eating completos (hot dogs with avocado) and hanging out with Mike and Caren and a few other friends I have in Santiago. It is cold here (not for anyone who knows real cold) but it doesn't stop our reveling.

Ima stay here a bit longer than I thought, but then off to Argentina and then Brazil!!!!!!!!!!

Love you guys! Miss everyone. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to the Land of the Empanada

After a stunning 3 day trip through southern Bolivia, I landed back in Chile, and rushed down to Santiago. Feels a bit like coming home. That might be just because I am back in a country with paved roads and toilet seats and friendliness, but either way its good to be back. BUT I quickly found out that I am not out of the woods yet, as about 30 minutes into being in Santiago, my small backpack was stolen. Its getting a bit old. And It's more tiring than anything. What was the hardest to loose was the 100 small cheap things i use everyday, the camera and alpaca sweater were also a bit tough. BUT one thing I have learned on this trip in a big way is acceptance. Traveling alone you got to keep it together, so when things go wrong you have almost no choice but to let it go. you can yell as much as you want at the lady who runs the internet cafe where your backpack was stolen, but A. she wont understand you and B. she doesn't care. SO life goes on, and i still have my passport, and I am not hurt. No more pictures though, sorry, because I know everyone was riveted by my incredible photography! Luckily I downloaded everything up to Colombia, so no Bolivia, or anything from here on out. But again, letting go.

I really am having a great time. and the salt flats really were incredible. it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Well I survived the Dengue, and made it to La Paz, Bolivia. Bolivia is a beautiful country also very much its own. unlike other countries the western influence has not quite made it to this land locked country. Which makes for excellent people watching.
Yesterday in La Paz there was a 12 hour parade. Yes. 12 hours. And I am not sure but I dont think there were even any repeats. I started watching at 10 am and watched for an hour or so. Then everytime I would walk down the main street I was amazed to find it still going, all the way up to 10pm, which i THINK was the end of it. Pretty amazing. I think I am going to be in La Paz for Bolivia's 200 years of independence, so i cant imagine what they do for that. because if i understood it correctly this parade was for the start of the university school year!

Now I'm off to the amazon. Am going to try to work on an animal refuge for a few days. we will see how it goes. that is if i suvive the 18 hour bus ride!

Oh and by the way, I put up more pictures and they should be easier to find. (at the bottom of this page)



Sunday, July 25, 2010


What? You thought I could leave the tropics without at least one tropical disease? well sir, you were mistaken. I am not here merely to see the sights! I am here to experience life at the ground level, to live among the people. Well, maybe not live among the people, but I would say getting Dengue makes me an officially "rugged" traveler. It's all gearing up for the book: earthquakes, diseases and other misadventures of a ruggedly handsome traveler. (coming this summer).

Here is an excerpt from the Dengue Chapter:
This is my 6th day with Dengue. The name is pretty fun to say. And it impresses the hell out of people. It´s way more exotic than your typical travelers diarrhea. That is, when people actually believe me. which can be very frustrating especially when your energy level is too low to argue. What is the point of having a serious tropical virus if people respond with "oh yeah, I had that in bolivia, I had to be like 10 feet from a toilet at all times"... NO! that's DIARRHEA, nothing like Dengue, they just both start with a "D". And please stop telling people your horror stories of diarrhea, unless it was cholera, nobody is impressed, and I would rather not picture you doing that. Now Dengue, people DIE of Dengue! I got it through a MOSQUITO! and we all know only critical illnesses come from mosquitos!
But seriously it kind of sucks. 4 days barely out of bed. No major symptoms other than intense fatigue and bone soreness that is hard to describe. For some reason my appetite is normal, or even bigger. So I'e been  soothing my illness depression with pastries and trix cereal. Have I mentioned that in about every country there are at least two pastry shops on each block? Have I also mentioned that their pastries are delicious? And yet we are the fat country, I don't get it.

Oh yeah, by the way I have been in Medellin. The land of Pablo Escobar! Which actually I got to meet this woman through a friend who was in Medellin during that time, and the half of the conversation that I understood was fascinating. Like he (Pablo) would drive through the streets handing out money. Well, that was about the only thing I understood, but WOW! money. She probably explained that he laundered money through pastry shops, hence the 6 on my block.

Other than that I know very little of Medellin, but I can draw an accurate floorplan of every part of my hostel, and give you a run down of what will be playing on Colombian TV for the next week.

Headed to Bogotà tonight. Going to pick up my Brazilian Visa! (woohoo!) (knock on wood) (is that when you knock on wood? I always get that confused). And then on tuesday I board a plane for Bolivia! (thanks mom and dad) Where I am sure to get a whole new set of infectious bacteria.

Love you guys and miss you a lot,


Monday, July 19, 2010


btdubbs, I´m not sure where caragena is, but carTagena was beautiful (misspelling on my last post). really culturally senstive of me. SPEAKING of cultural sensitivity, yesterday I had one of those times when I felt really in touch with the city and let it just take me... by that I mean I spent 3 hours with an old man who didn´t really understand that concept that my spanish is limited to slow patient conversations. At some point he just forgot or had so much to talk about that he couldn´t be bothered to slow down, even if it meant he was kind of talking to himself. After showing me the Botero Museum (Oh I´m in Medellin now by the way), I walked out trying to quickly segue into a "muchas gracias, hasta luego" but it turns out he doesn´t mind going into internet cafes with random gringos. But this turned out to be an internet cafe/chess-playing-place where he knew like half the old men in there. WELL, Mr. I love a gringo, just drops me at the sight of his friends, and suddenly I was the chaparonne with their kid at the mall in front of a group of school friends. Wouldn't even look at me! So it was time for revenge for the 2 hours of drivel I had to listen, and I introduced myself to all of his friends, who looked at me with that utter contempt that only a man of 80 can display. He was as horrified as a college kid on parents weekend.

So Medellin is going well. It is kind of a smaller more manageable Bogotà, but very similar looking. AND tuesday just so happens to be the Bicentenial of Colombian independence! how crazy! this makes up for that fact that I will prob never see a 2076. Apparently the biggest firework show in South America is happening tonight. But places love to claim the biggest/best/tallest, so you never know, but it should be fun. and I have some local Medellianos (?) to go celebrate with. ANDDDD I´m not sweating through my clothes within 5 minutes of putting them on. So, Medellin is shapping up to be a good time.

Feliz Dia De Independencia Colombia!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Been in Cartagena a few days. It is beautiful, maybe one of the most visually stunning cities I have ever seen. The old part of the city is surrounded by 18th century walls and is complete with a fortress and hundereds of streets lined with beautiful colonial houses draped with bouganvilla, and painted in bright cheerful colors.

That kind of sounded like my attempt to write for Lonely Planet Travel Guides but this place just pulls it out of you. I've spent the last 2 and a half days here and the old city still makes my jaw drop. yes it is a bit touristy, and venders are everywhere and it is HHOOTTT! But the city is worth all of that. Vale la Pena.

Traveling again with two wonderful brits, Charlotte and Andrew. Last night with them, so we are off to dine in the old city, and dance some salsa. and hopefully... some gaga.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The People, The City, The Nightlife, THE SALSA!

It has been a while since my last post, and I know you have all just been anxiously checking for another post, unable to wait any longer! The reason is mostly that I have been having an excellent time, In quito and now I am in Bogotà Colombia, and it has surpassed all expectations. I can say with almost with certainty this is my favorite city. It is the most developed (and wealthy) city I've been in since Santiago, but it has a rich and vibrant culture, and the most kind, friendly and fun people that I have met so far.
I also had a great time in Quito, I met some lovely brits and stayed in this beautiful hostal for the second week there. I got to see just about all of it, but now being in Bogotà I kind of wish I had gotten here sooner. The one downside is it is difficult to stick to my budget, and I hear the coast is even worse.
I am headed north soon to Cartegena, I hear amazing things about it, if it is anything like bogotà with a beach, Its gunna be fun!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

never never land

Well I ended up spending 8 days at the farm known as never never land. It was in the south of Ecuador, in the mountains. Which is the coffee growing region of ecuador, where all of those fancy "ecuadorian coffee's" that you can find in Starbucks are from. Along with fruit, potatoes, corn, herbs, chickens and cows we also grew coffee, so everyday we would grind it up and drink the best coffee of my life. I had an amazing time. It really was pretty magical like the name suggests. The setting was stunning, the woman who ran it was slightly crazy but in the best way, the other volunteers where so friendly and fun, and the work was hard but gratifying. We got a taste of what it is like to be an ecuadorian housewives because on several of the days when the workers from the town would come in, there was no one to make them lunch, and since they are useless in the kitchen it was left to us to cook and clean for 5 to 15 people! It turned out to be really fun, we all had a sense of humor about it, so it was much better than it could have been.

It was so nice to work hard for a bit. And we didnt work THAT hard, but at the end of the day when everything was cleaned and put away and we would sit around and drink coffee and eat fresh baked cookies it just felt so good. I know all you "working people" out there are laughing right now, but also something about working on a farm and with the land is just the best. There is also no money to be made, especially on an organic farm. But I´m way too young and naive to think about that.

I´m now in Quito. Which is so beautiful! The downtown "centro" area is the most impressive that I have seen so far. And it is set high up in the andes surrounded by beautiful mountains and volcanoes. I have just been exploring, and shopping a bit. I went to what they call "South America´s Largest Market" and it was kind of a let down. the stuff was mostly crap. BUT there were a lot of indigenous women in extravagant dress adorned with gold. So I followed them and bought stuff that they did. It is so fun to see how the dress of the indigenous changes as I move north. For a while it was all these big skirts with petticoats (is that what they call the things that make skirts look really big?), made out of velvet and adorned with silk and embroidery, with leggings or tights, loafers, colorful sweaters, fancy shawls, and the HATS! oh the hats. I want to come back just to document indigenous use of western hats. Every city and little town has their own hat of choice, some are bowler, some top hats, some straw hats, some that look like a towel folded and resting on top of the head. In this area the indigenous dress looks almost indian (dot not feather),  with long black skirts, (wraparounds mom and dad) with fancy fancy frilly shirts, and shawls, with LOTS of gold jewlery and again the top hat of the area. If I had less self respect I would have been taking pictures of these women in each town. But I feel so weird doing that. So I try to do it without them noticing.

Last thing. So upset about the world cup. This is the most intersted in sports I think I have ever been. We should have won. they played dirty. fake injuries and all that. ugh. well speaking of which, England v Germany is on so I got to go. GO ENGLAND!

Monday, June 14, 2010

how much is the empanada? 1 DOLLAR???

Ecuador. Land of the Galapagos, which wont pertain to me because I wont be shelling out the grand to get there. BUT, I made it. It has been about six hours, but long enough to know that I am going to love this country. Or maybe I was just sick of Peru.  Either way there are bus terminals, toilet seats, public transit, very little piles of rubble on the streets, taxis arent constantly honking there horns, there are a lot of attractive people that smile at you, and they use Dollars! Hello Ecuador. We are going to get along just great.

It's not that I didn't like Peru. And I think it is good for a spoiled gringo like myself to see how most of the world lives. but god its good to move on. My cousin asked me a while ago, if traveling made me love our country, and at the time I actually felt the opposite, but traveling through Peru (which is no uganda) I understood what he meant. The problems we face in our country, Peru has not even begun to look at because there is so much fundamentally wrong with their government. Ecuador is not exactly the shining beacon of stability but they seem to have the groundlevel stuff figured out. or maybe I'm just in a good town.

Since Trujillo, I hit up another highlands city, Cajamarca, famous for being the place where Pizarro captured the Inca Emporer, Atahualpa. It was pretty, kind of like Cuzco minus tourists. But I was kind of over it and a bit lonely. So I headed into Ecuador, and stopped in the beach party town of Mancora, Peru. Where I watched our team play, and I happened to be with 30 angry Brits as well. It felt good to tie. Even if we really shouldn't have. I say everyone ties and then we will ALL be happy! this is why gays dont do sports.

Now I am headed to my second farm. It is in lowlands forest junglish place (not really sure) called Vilcabamba. Should be nice. The farm is called Never Never Land. which after Michael Jackson, you cant be really sure whether it is creepy or kinda cool. We'll see! But I'm really looking forward to it. I need some manual labor in my life.

love you all!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Sometimes it sucks being a gringo. I will start this post off with saying im not in the best of moods so that will surely affect what I write. And I dont want to come off complaining about how unlucky I am to be traveling the world. I try to be grateful everyday. But sucks. Im starting to feel like they purposefully put diahrrea inducing bacteria into their food, because I've got the (sorry mom) shits for the second time here. And after being robbed with my parents, then again with friends in Lima, I had to muster all the "pity them dont get angry I could". THEN today two guys tried to swindle me by claiming they needed help with their english. Not sure exactly what they wanted or what they were going to do, but thanks to a lady who tipped me off, I wasn't with them long enough to find out. Sometimes I just feel like a tall, blonde money sign. And that can suck when you are trying to be open and friendly and not judge and assume, but the sad truth is, you just can't let your guard down. I want to trust the guy I meet in the street, and sometimes maybe I can, but I have to be cautious. I don't think this is a problem of the peruvian culture of course. It seems this is a result of poverty, and other social factors that force people to do desperate things. So I have to walk that line between being open and ready for new things, but also careful and guarded. And after reading about the Spanish conquest, they had it much worse than we do now, talk about people taking advantage of people...

Not sure why I wanted to post that. Maybe just needed to write that down somewhere, and I again want to clariry that it has not greatly affected my trip, just a sad fact. And it is a sad reality of the world that we all come to realize: that not everyone has your best interest in mind.

That being said I have also run into a lot of beautiful people, that were so giving and generous and very trustworthy, both people that live here and fellow travelers. I guess all we can do is like my father's mother said, try not to get angry but have pitty on those who choose to prey on others. And maybe it is our responsibility to also look for the conditions that allow these things to happen.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Middle

In the Middle of the Peru, in the middle of the Ancient Inca Empire and in the middle of the longest mountain range in the world, I am now in the middle of my trip. It has been almost exactly four months to the day. So much has happened. In a way I feel as though I have had many distinct trips, each part of my travels being so uniquely its own. There was the Santiago/earthquake part, the Patagonian adventure, the race north, the transition into Peru, and the wonderful two weeks I spent with my parents. Now I am starting another new adventure, as I make my way north into Ecuador.

After saying goodbye to my parents I spent almost 10 days in Lima, a city I planned to spend a few nights in. In fact I threatened myself to leave on more than one occasion, feeling the draw to move northward, but Lima and the wonderful people I met there kept holding me back. I laughed more in those 10 days than I have in my whole trip, well, me and my parents laughed quite a bit too, so maybe more in the past 3 weeks. By luck or the fates of traveling I happened to meet really excellent top notch people. In Lima we went to see two plays, went to countless musuems, swam a handful of times in the cold ocean, ate AMAZING food, and probably 5 or 6 mcflurries (not proud), went to a casino, walked around this park of waterfountains that was way more impressive than you would think, traveled in countless micros so packed I was unsure whether it was even possible to exit, danced at a few clubs, met a handful of really great Limeños, went to a ballet class, and had many other small adventures.

Now I am high up in the andes in a place called Huaraz (the trekking capital of Peru), just came down from the mountains and now I am headed to a small beach town near Trujillo.

Needless to say I am quite content and have a very positive outlook for the next four months, even though I know there will be more lonely times, and earthquakes, and stolen ipods, and times where I miss all of you terribly. I am not sure why I have my heart set on spending as much time as I can down here. Maybe ego, maybe postponing the innevitable decisions that I need to make, maybe just a bit of wanderlust. Whatever it is I feel like I am growing in new ways and pushing myself to get out and see things, some fascinating, some inspiring, some disheartening, but all real, and different from the reality we all experience back home.

love you all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

broke to four star, and back to broke

Said goodbye to my parents on friday. sad to see them go after an incredible week and a half. Last I wrote we were headed into the rainforest (NOT THE JUNGLE! there is a big difference apparently) and we spent four days in the paradise known as the tombopata national reserve at the Inka Terra Eco Lodge. By far the most incredible place I have ever stayed. It was simple, breathtakingly beautiful, and set in acres and acres of perfectly preserved rainforest. We spent our days walking around the canopy, bird watching (not as borring as it sounds) and hiking through untouched wilderness. We saw everything you could hope to see: 2 types of monkeys, caymans, HUGE spiders, the second most venomous snake in the amazon, and a few dozen birds who woke us up each morning with their exotic and beautiful calls.

I knew I would like the rainforest, but I didn't expect it to have such a dramatic effect on me. I was in constant awe, never fully able to believe where I was. We also completely lucked out on the weather, around 70 degrees most of the time, which is frigid for the rainforest, and perfect for us hot Bettles.

Of course I couldnt leave the rainforest without making a little bit of an ass of myself, this happened when we went to visit a local family that continues to live according to indigenous traditions (or at least they do when the gringos come). I have been trying so hard to get the greetings right in south america. and I have finally mastered the kiss on the cheek for women (who regard a handshake as cold and unfriendly) so when the young village girl came out to greet us I of course went in for the kiss, thinking I would impress everyone there with how "with it" I was on local custom. However, I quickly learned that a kiss on the cheek is NOT THE NATIVE TRADITION. The poor girl ran away from me as if I had pulled a knife on her, and the leader of the family was yelling "no no no no no no!!!!" and our guide almost as red as me was between laughter and shock. I was ready to offer myself in ritual sacrifice I was so embarrased. But in the end they all kind of laughed (the family was also between laughter and shock at the horrribly inapropriate behavior of the gringo). Well by the end we each kind of took turns looking dumb, but that is kind of unavoidable. Another favorite was my dad in the dance circle imitating the leader by doing half turns and crouching down to half his size.

It was an incredible week and a half that I will never forget. Now I am back in Lima, exploring the local sites, trying to meet some limenos and figure out where I am going next. Right now all I know is that I am headed north to Ecuador.

I've got a lot of new pictures posted on my picassa, look for the album Jbettles (bad name I know) for pictures from the north of Chile, South of Peru, Cusco and Machu Pichu. Rainforest pictures coming soon...*cough* "MOM" *cough*

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Cusco now, with Mom and Dad. and we are having an amazing time. It seems like they have been here 3 weeks. Mostly been eating, and buying beautiful peruvian crap.

Machu Pichu. what do I say. dont know where to begin. I mean on the one hand it is just a mountain with ruins and actually seeing something that has been just a fantasy for so long takes away some of the magic, when you can see and touch it. But yet it was overwhelmingly beautiful. The moment when we first walked through the gate and stretching out before us were these stark, imposing, complex, mysterious stone structures was an experience I will never forget. We had so much fun exploring the ruins on our own, and imagining the lives that once occupied it. I also picked out my house, complete with a walk in, courtyard, and balcony off the master bedroom.

One of the most beautiful things about it was the increible setting, mountains like you've never seen, and the buildings seem to just be formed out of the mountains, its not as if nature stops and machu pichu begins, it was in complete harmony with the setting it was in. I guess the magic that I had been imagining all these years was there but you had to get in and find it. And having people to share it with made the experience far more full and exciting. and by the would make the BEST! i mean best! place for a mean game of capture the flag.

We had a bit of an incident today with some missing money. way too long of a story to tell right now. but I will just say me and my parents were going a bit CSI on the hotel we were in. At the end of it we had what was missing and actually kind of enjoyed the excitement.

It has been so nice having my parents here. We have been gluttons in every sense, and laughing the entire time.

Now we are headed to the jungle, where we are bound to have some more stories to share.

love you all!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Well I havent heard much of it yet but i know its coming, why? because I'm in Peru!! Dont worry Tommy I will make sure to bring lots of cd´s back for you. So yesterday I crossed the boarder. So strange that one step can make such a huge difference, and it was really thrilling, especially compared to the good old  TJ boarder. I think all boarders have their interesting qualities, and this one happened to be full, not of tourists, but of old ladies carrying about three trashbags of clothes. I sat there for a long time trying to figure it all out, and I still am not really sure I get it, but basically a bunch of clothes that get donated from the US and Europe end up in South America, and apparently in Chile but not Peru. So these women make there buisness getting the free or cheap donated clothes from Chile and smuggling them into Peru. But it is Illegal, so watching their methods of trying to hide 3 trashbags full of clothes was hilarious. they all had about ten sweaters on (and probably 5 pairs of pants). Another technique was to ask extranjeros (me) to carry it accross for them. I'm not the most streetwise guy there is, but I knew enough not to smuggle something accross a boarder, even if it was just a pink, sleevless, hoodie covered in glitter.

San Pedro de Atacama was beautiful. Of course the first day when I arrived in THE DRIEST DESERT IN THE WORLD... ready for it... can you guess... yes! was RAINING! apparently (not confirmed) it was the first rain they have had in San Pedro in 6 years. Anyway it was actually kind of exciting.

 I met lots of good people, and happen to be in Arequipa Peru with 2 of them. I went Sand Boarding, which was way more fun than I thought (like snowboarding on giant sand dunes) but I was no good at it. I also went for a night time horse back ride, which was beautiful with all the stars! the milkyway clearly visible. The tours are very different down here. For horseback riding, I signed no papers, was given no instruction on how to ride a horse, and was basically free to ride where I wanted. Which was scary at first, but I got the hang of it thanks to a french guy who knew what he was doing. I also visited geysers, and a hot spring. which were really beautiful! The landscape is hard to describe, some people call it moon like, and that may be the best way to describe it. Vast expanses of salt flats surrounded by red mountians, snow capped volcanoes, salt formations, smooth sand dunes, and pracitically no living animals or plants, all under a cloudless blue sky.

It has been really interesting traveling alone. At times I am aware of how great it is and other times it can be a bit lonely. But recently I traveled with this German guy up here to Peru and although a really great guy, I immeadietly realized the joys of traveling alone. However, I am really looking forward to being 8-9 days not alone, with my parents!

Lima is beautiful, really impressive. Where Chile was mostly new buildings dotted with old ones, Peru seems to be the opposite, where almost every building is old and impressive. Of course the food is also very different, and very good. It's interesting to see the differences just a couple feet can make. So far I am really enjoying exploring what is new and different here.

more soon.

(the name I have had  to start using because no one can understand Joe)

Friday, April 30, 2010

El Norte!

So it has been a while again. Sometimes there is so much I want to say I avoid posting because I think it will take too long. So my new plan is short little blip-vignet-updates.

Right now I am in Chañaral. nothing special. I am here for a national park that I didnt go to because it was too expensive to get there. So instead I walked on an endless EMPTY beach for about 8 hours. and snaked on my new addiction! Chilean Bread, Palta (avocado), and salt! I am an artist with this! I follow this with an apple and peanut butter. I have lived on this since santiago. seriously 3 times a day. its getting bad! haha. but there are worse addictions. am I right...AM I RIGHT!! wink*, eyebrow raise*...

I spent 4 nights of the last week with the most beautiful Chilean family! The mother is the cousin (older cousin, heidi style) of one of my friends I met in Santiago. He hooked me UP! I couldnt beleive it one minute I was saying I was headed to La Serena and the next thing I knew he was on the phone with his cousin Sonia at midnight on a wednesday asking if I could come on friday! and she said yes!!! It is her and her two beautiful, smart, funny, talented children. I could really go on and on about them. But it really marked the start of a new phase of my trip. More running. some meditation. less being lonely and sad for no reason. and more staying with families. It is SOOO rewarding. I love them. and i just got a message that the young daugher, Laura, said to her mom she doesnt understand why I had to go!!!! Que Tierna! Oh and they only speak spanish. So I am very happy with my progress that I can grow so fond and close with people who dont speak english!

Now I head to Peru to meet Mom and Dad! I am stopping at San Pedro de Atacama (in Chile) it is the place everyone goes to in the North of Chile! supposed to be amazing! haha. But I dont really know what it is! I never do, or if I do, I am wrong.

LOVE YOU ALL! thanks for reading.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Back in Santiago. staying in what may be the nicest apartment I will live in for the next 10 years. literally steps away from all the best attractions in the city, I could cartwheel the most beutiful park here, that looks like it is out of disneyland, with a castle and everything. Needless to say things are good. very relaxed, mostly eating, going to muesuems, swiming in my SOLARIUM!!, reading, and hanging out with my santiago buddies.

Not sure how i am going to be able to rough it after this. but luckily I am meeting my parents for another 9 days of luxury in Peru! doing a bit of spoiled tourist traveling right now. and I like it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Just got back from a Malacalhello, and it took me the entire two days I was there to be able to say it. It is not spanish, so I am not a complete jackass. I went on a whim from Valdivia, which was another whim, and arrived thursday night. I looked fruitlessly in the very small town for a hostel that might have space, and found that none seemed to be open. In fact the town appeared mostly deserted. So I decided this would be a good opportunity to save some money and walked out of the town (about a 2 minuted walk) and found a cozy little spot in the dirt. It was a nice warm night and the sky was full of stars. It seemed nothing could go wrong. then my imagination got the best of me and dogs barking became the police looking for rogue backpackers, and cars headlights became UFO´s, then the temperature dropped, and me in my tshirt and 45 degree sleeping bag didnt cut it. well needless to say I didnt sleep much, but I was able to watch a beautiful sunrise, without use of my hands or feet, but it was worth it.

The next day I hiked in a beautiful national park nearby that has forests of Araucaria trees, and of course volcanoes (I never thought volcanoes and glaciers would become...ordinary). The Araucaria trees or "monkey puzzle trees" as we call them are these massive pines with very few, cactus like, branches. Hard to describe, but very beautiful.

Now I am in Temuco waiting for a bus to head back to Santiago. I indulged in a little YMCA swimming pool today after being sprayed with air freshner at the last internet cafe. At the Y  they took pity on me and gave me a discount for the pool. Probably because they could tell I really needed to bathe.

Looking forward to Santiago. I am renting a PHAT apartment for a week (haggled for half price of course). It will be shi shi sha sha and a drastic change from all the farms, camping and rogue backpacking I have been doing.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Well I just got back from my first Farm. It was pretty amazing. hard to describe. It was such an intense experience in so many ways. The farm is located on a hill about 45 min car ride to the nearest town (which is barely a town) and about 2-3 hours to the nearest city (which is barely a city). In other words... remote. The  property is long and skinny on a steep hill between the road and the water. When you reach the house the view opens up to this beautiful Fjord (lake, bay thing...large body of water) with mountains all around it. All very green. It was breathtaking. And this view was my television for the past week. we ate breakfast dinners and lunches in front of this big window that overlooked it all, and we would all sit together, eating delicious fresh food and just stare at it all.

The work varied by day. I helped put up fences, put insulation around their house (grass insulation that is). we went to buy wood and brought it to their house. And when you live that far away without a car, bringing wood to your house is a very difficult chore. Their main source of income is honey, they have 19 hives, or 3,000 bees. I couldn`t really help much with that. but I got to observe with the suit and everything and it was really fascinating.

I also discovered my passion. Before I thought it was theatre, until I came to this farm and discovered an activity I could do my whole life and be a very happy man. Picking Blackberries! Their farm is covered in wild blackberries and I spent many hours picking/eating kilo after kilo. It is so peaceful and simple and wonderful.

Their farm is not the typical rows of produce type farm, since their main product is honey it looked more like an overgrown backyard. The climate is a cold rainforest, meaning it rains average once or twice a day, and everything is covered in dense vegetation. A really beautiful climate. I didnt mind the rain that much. It would never last that long. And there was always at least a little sun every day.

They were a really beautiful family. The two parents and their son, 11, who I adored. They had never had a United Statesian in their household, and they seemed a little apprehensive to be having me. This was my first experience with people who were very emotionally affected by the dictatorship in Chile and for them it is still fresh. Most of the people I have talked to about it are too young to remember. But for them our country is still a potent enemy, that brought a dictatoriship which killed thousands and completely changed their cultural and economic landscape. At moments it was a bit difficult to be there and to hear what they had to say. But I think I grew a lot because of it. And they made me feel very welcome in their home. By the end of it I felt part of the family.

This was a beautiful life changing experience that I can´t recomend enough to anyone. There is so much I could say about it, but I will save it for in person.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

La Isla Grande de Chiloe

I love saying the name. "Isla Grande" makes it sound like a fake city in some Disney Movie. that is half the reason why i came. something about islands just make me want to see whats on them. (btw its an island like manhattan is an island, not on easter island or anything). I have spent 2 days exploring Chiloe, and it IS pretty magical. It is covered in really dense rainforest type vegetaion, and there are these houses everywhere that are over the water standing on stilts. I havent quite figured out why they go to the trouble of building 30 feet above the water, instead of the open land right behind it... but its cool!

Yesterday they had a festival for the victims of the earthquake and the local highschool kids put on Jesus Christ Superstar to raise money. so of course I had to go. It was amazing. and by amazing I mean lip synced, with lots of shiny fabric and an over enthusiastic light board operator. the kids seemed to really enjoy it. made me so grateful to have had all the opportunities to perform when I was a kid, because something tells me this probably doesnt happen too often for them.

I arrived here on a boat that sailed through the fjords of southern Chile. My mom describes the area as the place that looks like puzzle peices at the bottom of your world map. haha. Its a good description. It was amazing. I had the best time. I hung out with gringos from all over the world, slept 12-14 hours a day, ate a LOT, laughed, read, and took in the amazing sights around. It supposedly can get rough sometimes, and people get bad seasickness but it was pretty mild for our trip. The bartender was the only one not having a good time. pretty sad guy, would ask for a cup of coffee and he looked at you like you wanted his newborn child. then after 10 minutes of preparring the coffee, he would hand you this tiny cup of lukewarm intant nescafe. then if you didnt have the right change that was another life crisis that he had to endure.

OKAY! a word about South America and CHANGE!! it doesnt exist. i mean there are times when they wont SELL me something because i dont have the EXACT change. that or the person dissapears to search for change from other people. it really seems like a simple solution... make more coins!! When you get out large amounts from the ATM, Oh, you are screwed. have to search for a place to break your bills. and then the opposite is true, if you give them exact change and they werent expecting it... major points, you are IN! From a country that mines most of the metal for the both american continents you think that they could have some disposable change reserves. the most amazing thing is that it is universal, i mean you would think all of the storeowners got together and decided, screw the customers we are only going to carry this amount of change and when we run out WE RUN OUT!! DOWN WITH CHANGE!!

love you all.

que te vaya bien

Monday, March 22, 2010

Torres Del Paine

Well I just got back from my second patagonian trek. 3 days 3 nights on the famous "W". i think half the reason people come here is so that they can say they have done the "W". Its just fun to say. It was so beautiful. the first day and a half I had beautiful, amazing, perfect weather, then next day and a half were pretty windy and wet, but not too bad. It was all enjoyable, but having the nice weather really makes the place magical. At this point glaciers don´t impress me. which means I have seen A LOT of them. They are pretty mind blowing.

I had a better experience this go around. I think it took me a week to adjust to being by myself. My mind was much more at peace, which allowed me to enjoy it more. even just 3 days, is a LONG time to spend with just your thoughts. At a certain point I started running out of topics to think about, so I tried to solve world poverty in my head. haha. didnt get very far.

I don´t think any description of what i saw will do it justice, so I am hoping I can get some pictures up soon.

Today my goal is to get on this Ferry that goes north to Puerto Montt through fjords. It is the only way to go north through Chile, there are NO ROADS! because it is all just islands and fjords and the andes. So I am trying to get half price for the ticket. the guy at the office kind of smiled at me in that "silly gringo" kind of way. but im am just going to camp out in their office till they get sick of me and just let me on for hopefully... half price! We´ll see.

Next up, WWOOF Farming in Chiloe (island off of Chile). Then volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Talca, building shelters for those affected by the earthquake. Im looking forward to thinking about someone other than myself for a bit.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Well. I made it. I am currently in El Calafate, a fairly large town in Argentina. Their economy is almost completely based on one huge block of ice: the Moreno Glacier. I arrived today from El Chalten, a very small town in the middle of a beautiful valley near the Fitz Roy Summit.
I arrived last wednesday and went out on a trek the following thursday. I spent 3 nights backpacking around. It is hard to describe how beautiful it is here. I spent all of the first day in front of the Cerro Torre. Mostly just looking at it. I hiked up with two Argentinians very friendly and fun to trek with. The following day I went deeper into the park and splurged on a refugio (cabin). It had been raining that day so i was never so happy to see a wooden structure. It was really isolated. I stayed one more night there and did a day hike. There was no one for Miles. A strange, exhillirating, lonely, exciting feeling. hard to describe. similar to the feeling of looking up at the stars. (which I also did and was also unbelievable).
There have been some lonely spouts where I really miss Santiago and all the friends I made there, or the friends I came with...Mike. But it is really wonderful to be out here. Now I am off to find a Hostel and figure out where I am going next.
love you all and think of you often.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Some of you may know of my love for layovers. WELL, I am writting this during the official longest layover I have had, 20 hours, so long i considered getting a hostel, but lucky for me its in buenos aires. I took a quick tour of the city and headed back to the airport before dark. It is beutiful here, the energy is totally different. Very similar to New York. There were some streets that if the signs were in english you wouldnt be able to tell the difference. actually even in spanish it  works.

I had to kind of pull myself away from santiago. I really could have stayed. Which I think is a good thing. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of Chileans which was really what made the city exciting and fun. Too bad on the last night I met some of the coolest people since I got there. But now I KNOW that I am going back. BUT now being here in B.A. I have a feeling I may fall in love with every place I go.

My final destination is El Calafate Argenitina, in southern patagonia. My plan is to spend one or two nights in the city, search desperately for friends to hike with, and then head up north to Mt. Fitz Roy. Im going to climb to the top! its actually a pick-axe-might-die-trying type of mountain, im just going to hike around it. and then another spot and then into Torres Del Paine, the crown jewel of Patagonia. But I am willing, and ready for all of that to change. I have everything I need so I am up for whatever. I am looking forward to being in the mountains. Now  I am officially grateful for all those years in Boy Scouts. Thanks M&D.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Week Later

Took me a while to get to this, but I finally found some time to sit down for a bit and write a post. I want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and messages. They meant a lot. The last week has been a bit strange, with lots of ups and downs but I feel somewhat back to normal now.

I want to give an account of what happened. It feels a bit strange or narcissistic, but it was an unbelievable experience, and something that I will want to look back on.

Last friday me and mike had an "Asado" at our host families house, it was a sort of farewell to the family and a way for us to invite some of the friends we had met in Santiago over to our beautiful house. We had a great time, and like most chilean gatherings it ended pretty late, around 3am. I went to walk out our last guest, and as we were standing outside of the house chatting, it happened. It was subtle at first, and we thought of it as just another "temblor" (tremors are really common here like home). But as it went on and slowly got stronger, it dawned on us that this was something bigger. At that point I felt like part of me left and watched the rest of that night happen.  Hard to explain but it was all very unreal. The top part of the facade on the building across the street dropped off, in one quick swoop. The lights started going out and santiago fell into complete darkness. At this point my anxiety and imagination took over and I was picturing all of santiago collapsing around me. The street moved like how you may have seen in videos. my friend described it as a "serpiente" and he is right. It was quite fluid actually, as if the earth would open up and the building would just fall through. The earthquake lasted 3 minutes or so. which is an eternity.
In a panic I remembered my family and ran back to the house to check on them. I found them huddled under the entryway, too scared to cry, breathing too hard to speak, we just huddled and pleaded with it to pass. It did of course. And for a moment we just waited, hearing only the sounds of our hurried breath. We carefully, slowly stepped onto the street and looked around to see if there would be more. in an instant the street was full of people doing the same, unsure of what they might find, or who might be hurt. There was a murmur of neighbors checking in with each other, i didn't need to know the language to understand what they were saying. Each had the recognizeable look of disbelief and confusion. We also felt the quiet panic that in some other place there might be a fate far more grave ours. I struggled to regain my composure, and my breath. I felt void of reason or power. We all just of looked at each other, glad that the other was alive. Collectively we had that sudden realization of how fragile life is, that always happens after an event like this. The mothers quickly turned to their children, fathers talked about what to do next, children reached out for arms to hold them. and I stood there no longer a stranger, no longer a gringo, but a neighbor, a chilean, a fellow human. I looked up into the sky and suddenly it was filled with stars, like you might see in a desert. There in the sky was an almost full moon that looked down with the sympathetic indifference of the heavens consoling our shaken spirits with the reminder that what happened that night was not an attack, not revenge or punishment but a crack in the ever changing landscape of our living planet.

NOW. one week later, the city moves on. and that feeling of unity, of brotherhood, the awareness of our fragile lives slowly fades. I feel pulled in a million directions right now, and a bit unable to anything. I decided to go ahead with my plans to go to Patagonia. I am not needed in the recovery efforts in the south right now, I have nothing to keep me here, and I have a plan that I set out to accomplish. So here I go. Feels a bit strange to leave Chile. A country I now know in a more an intimate way, and one that I have come to love. Sunday I head to Mendoza, Argentina and then off to El Calafate (Moreno Glacier).

Thanks for reading my post, and again thank you for your heartfelt concern. I feel very lucky to have so many wonderful people around me wherever I go.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I will blog about the experience later. but for right now. I am safe. all is well. this city is built for this kind of thing. it was a crazy experience. i was in the street. everything was moving. in waves like they say. Not much destruction around where I am. in fact my host father said the stores are open, taxis are running, almost ALMOST a normal day. not really of course. 

love to all of you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

valaparaiso and viña del mar

I am currently on my first trip away from santiago, and i already miss the city. I have made quite a home for myself there. BUT it is good, I came here to travel and see a lot... so here I am. Trying to be as cheap as possible, while having a good time. which has been an adventure in itself. every dollar i spend is calculated, and even then i think i am spending more than i need to.

So i got into Valaparaiso this morning with a group of sweedes, germans and a dutch girl, all very nice (sweedes LOVE south america). the city is nice, a little dirty and crowded, but full of life and history (picture long beach with mountains and 300 years of history). I took a solo trip to viña, no one else was craving the beach like i was. i came to realize how lucky those of us who live in southern california are, the beach was nice, but no comparison. CROWDED, and not all that swimable. but i really enjoyed napping and reading on the beach (don´t worry mom i wore sunscreen). tonight me and my deutch speaking friends are going out, should be fun. sweedes love me. haha.

Santiago has been simply wonderful. i am at the point where i am becoming familiar and don´t feel like such a douchebag walking around or taking a metro. my family amazes me with their kindness and positive spirit on a daily basis. me and mike made konos food for them yesterday, and it was so fun. they would not stop talking about how much they loved it. the potatoes i made tasted EXACTLY like konos potatoes, im not talking similar, i mean the same. and that is not easy with weird chilean cheese. it was delicious, i have also never felt so full here. it gave them a taste of the american diet, haha, they want more.

school is good. my spanish is progressing. but i still want more. I am set on learning the language, for real. I don´t just want to be able to buy a peice of bread, I want a conversation. Chileans are such interesting people. they resemble us in a lot of ways but their is an indescribable latin spirit in them that I love. It is this beautiful combination of resiliance, positivity, warmth, and a general enthusiasm for life. It is very refreshing.

Hope you guys are enjoying my blog. feel free to comment below. or send me an email anytime. i check it obsessively: i want to know how you are doing as well. this is fun but it feels a little egotistic (is that a word, there is a word spanish similar, i am forgetting english!) i would love to make this more of a forum, if you guys are up to it. this blog is not about patriarchal forms of education (that was for you rose e)

Love to all of you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

notes on my political observations of Chile.

I have to say that traveling as a United States citizen in another country has brought about a lot of thought on what it means to be an "american". i want to preface this with three things:
1. I may generalize. But, I know that many of these issues are complex and are found more in shades of grey than I may portray them.
2. These perceptions have not colored my trip in a negative way, in fact part of the reason I wanted to travel was to gain a bigger perspective about these issues.
3. I have not been here that long, and so I have much to learn. But, I wanted to record my early thoughts to see how they develop throughout my trip.

Santiago, Chile is unlike any other city in Latin America (this is what I am told, by tourists and Chileans), it enjoys a great deal of wealth and relative peace amongst its people (although the political divisions make ours look like childs play). First I want to point out the benefits of this wealth. A large percentage of Chileans enjoy a higher standard of living; although FAR from perfect or even decent they have a health care system that is somewhat capable to treat most of its people; they share our passion for innovative new technologies and many are fortunate enough to enjoy them; they have a somewhat stable middle class (although much smaller than other developed countries); and they enjoy many of the other benefits of wealth, which are not to be discounted. However, there is much they have lost as a result. primarily the loss of culture and identity. Who do many chileans look to as models for their cultural lives? The same false idols of media that we look to. However, I think that our image abroad has a far more damaging affect than it does in our country, because the chileans (not all!) look to our culture as a model for their own, as if the one that they had was inferior.
These are the methods of an empire. To instill in the native (new native, not indigenous) people a subtle yet powerful feeling of inferiority which then allows the dominating culutre to take control and extract the resources. I know that our methods are far less pronounced than the conquistadores who came before us, but the effects are no less damaging. We do not plant flags, instead we plant our brands in stores and advertisements and tv screens. we do not force the religion of a deity (except mormonism), instead we subtly entice the people with the religion of greed and money. we do not tear down any man made temples and yet we destroy the greatest, most sacred, oldest temple of them all: the natural world. All the while acting as though their country was a blank slate with no history or culture of its own.
The flase name which we have given our country is emblematic of our empiric nature. When asked what country I am from it is hard not to say the name which I have been taught since birth: America. The power that this name alone has is far more potent than we realize.
Our methods are not always so subtle at times we have down right forced our policies on Chile. The coup of 1973 in Chile brought about a 17 year long Pinochet dictatoriship in Chile, which some could say has not ended. Yes, there is a democratic system in place and people enjoy similar freedoms to our country, however, the current president is a descendent of the Pinochet´s administration. Pinochet and his followers have brought about the opening of Chile´s market and the invasion of our culture.
What were our motives? did we sincerely want to help the people avoid the tragedy of soviety style communism or were we puting in place a president whom we knew would open the doors of commerce for our country to proffit from.

I must say that it is not just the U.S. which is profitting from the natural wealth of Chile, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark share huge profits from the mining in the north. But the children here are not watching Danish TV wishing they could someday be in Denmark.
The alternative to Chile´s open economic policies may resemble something like other Latin American countries: extreme poverty. I can´t say what is worse, but it is my hope that there is some middle ground, in which countries can have a healthy economy without giving themselves away to the US and other "developed" countires. But maybe we have gone so far down the path of globalization that it is better for countries to simply give in, than resist and face poverty.
At this point in history Empire´s are not gone, they seem to be so pervasive and extensive that we simply do not see them.

That being said I am having an amazing time in Chile. I am contiuing to open myself up, to loose pre-conceptions, to meet Chileans and people form all around the world. I am also finding one of my most important missions is to learn the language. Apart from being seen as pretentious to other cultures, being monolingual is downright embarassing. I am here to learn, I am here to honor another culture, and without apoligizing, represent my own in a humble and positive light.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I love this city. A lot of people don't seem to enjoy it, but santiago has been very good to me. The more people I meet the more I like the city. It reminds me of LA in a lot of ways, big and spread out, similar climate, surrounded by mountains, but with a bit more spice and community. Living with a host family was an excellent decision. They are so loving and have embraced me and mike like family.

My one frustration is with the language. it is hard to live in a place without being able to talk to the people (although many speak english). I want to learn it overnight, but unfortunately it doesnt work that way. I also feel incompetent because i think that i am one of only a few people who are learning their second language, most are on their 4th or 5th even 6th. The US needs to catch up in this respect.

I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to come here, and grateful that I went with my gut on this one. I feel myself opening up in a lot of ways. and also as many of you told me before I went, I do not stress as easily here, part of being here is letting the moment happen, opportunities are everywhere I just have to go with it. I know most of you have traveled and done something like this, so I am sure you know what I am talking about. If this at all entices any of you to join me, feel free! I will put up santiago pics soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

el primero aventura: Pucon!

Me and Mike got into Pucon, Chile Thursday morning (Think Mammoth meets Lake Tahoe). and went almost directly to the beach(lake). after some kayaking and tanning we got set up at our hostel. The next day friday we went to the Ojos de Caburgua, beautiful waterfalls and walked the 15 kilometers back to Pucon, long but beautiful. the next day we chilled in Pucon, eating delicious food and talking with incredibly friendly chileans. We just arrived back in Santiago and met our host family, the set up could not be better. They are a beautiful family with 3 children and 2 awesome parents, Paz y Rodrigo.

The trip has been wonderful! Me and mike are trying to set the tone for the rest of our trip, that means being super money conscious, meeting as many people as we can and exploring this beautiful country. The Andes are incredible. huge, steep and very lush. On our long walk we saw beautiful views of the range and  a crystal blue river that runs through it. It is hard not to be inspired by the beauty of this place. The people are definitely a product of this, welcoming and open to visitors, we have been treated like old friends by everyone.

I thought that being here I would feel far from home, but it seems surprisingly familiar and comfortable. Some of this is the pervasive nature of our culture, which although I had expected, to what degree I was unaware. A lot of people here watch the same television shows, and the same movies. they all know about California and dream of traveling there.

In Short I am having an amazing time. I am trying to let go and get out of my way so that I can just enjoy it. Take risks without being risky. and be an ambassador to our country, which we are in great need of. We definitely have some kissing up to do, luckily they seem ready to embrace us.

Hasta Luego

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Soy en Santiago

I made it! I`m in the Bus terminal in center of Santiago, Me and Mike are waiting for our bus to Pucon. which leaves at 11pm. What a day, or couple days...I can´t tell at this point. It feels like so much has happened so quickly. LAN airlines was awesome. My plane was half empty, and it went by fast. almost without any problems. but me and mike managed to miss each other in the arrivals terminal. anyway, we found each other and headed into the city. The first thing you notice about santiago is the mountains. you are surrounded by HUGE beautiful mountains. next, I was suprised to find a very clean city, that is very easy to navigate. We started by going to the language school to drop off mike´s bags and check in with them. they are so sweet, and started our trip off beautifully. Then after that we basically wandered. at about 12pm the 1 hour of sleep hit us both at the same time and we could barely get up to try and find a place to nap. luckily we found the perfect spot: right in front of the Chilean white house!!! haha. there was plenty of shade and guards keeping watch all around. and they didnt mind. The Chileans we´ve meet have been extremely hospitable and welcoming to me and mike. they immeadiately recognize we are gringos, but don´t treat us poorly because of it. after our nap we felt rejuvinated and had some coffee at a little outdoor cafe. their coffee is awesome, i hear it´s instant coffee, but whatever it is i want to bring some back. we wandered more exploring as much as we could before dark. and then headed here to the bus station. ready to sleep through our entire trip.
this wasnt the liveliest post, i´m bushed. being so out of it, it doesnt seem real yet, more like a dream.
we are looking forward to coming back and spending time here, but for now: onward to Pucon!!

PS mike is an expert at spanish and has saved me many times from being a complete asshole.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Week Away

On February 2nd I leave from LAX to Santiago, Chile. First destination the outdoor paradise of Pucon with Mike Thompson. We will be arriving in Santiago in the AM and heading south on an overnight bus (the first of many). It will be so strange to enter a country that is in the height of summer.
After that I will spend three weeks in Santiago in a language program that includes a home-stay with a family in the heart of Santiago (Providencia is the neighborhood or Commune as they call it). classes are 5 days a week, and should help me get a handle on the language, and culture.
My first month is very planned out and then after that is a big question mark. I have places I want to go to and things I want to see but I am not sure how it will all unfold. Hopefully there will be plenty of Blog posts to keep you updated. The plan is to do six countries (Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina) in a span of six months. I have a return flight on August 5th.
Here I go!