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!

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)