• Popular Tags

  • Dave kills NovelJourney; I get ready for Thailand

    My heart was throbbing intensely, standing over Dave at his terminal, as error message after error message flashed across the screen…

    Dave had deleted the entire NovelJourney database, in an attempt to move it to another, but certainly not the last, new server. He does this server-swap thing every so often, for often mysterious reasons… Boredom? Job security?

    I suspect it has something to do with reliability, redundancy, security, network segregation, capacity, performance, or any of the other IT blanket words used to confuse and distract the unwary few who venture a question or two about it.

    After all, the IT blackhole must be preserved, and at the same time, fed more and more money…

    Oh, I kid. ;) Dave did manage to recover the erased DB. So he still holds the high distinction of not having permanently deleted anything of value. Good job, Dave. I’ll dust off my IT chalice, and raise it in toast to you.

    On another note, I just purchased a ticket to Thailand. I’ll be there for three weeks, galavanting around with the pootie. Ahh… it’ll be spectacular.

    I might even blog a bit about it. We’ll see.

    A long silence

    For those who may visit this site and see that I’m no longer keeping it up to date, here’s an brief synopsis of my current situation.

    These days I work. The Metametrix has me… again. This time we’re frantically scrambling to put the finishing vital touches on a project that’s now almost a year in the running. Less than a month now separates us from the stresses of go-live. On the one hand, I’m not too keen on working long days and weekends, but on the other hand I’m grateful for the challenge… something to distract me from my now lonely personal life.

    Then there’re the questions I’ve been rolling around of late. What am I going to do with this life? Where do I belong? How do I go about grasping success on various levels? All questions without answer.

    I have been excited about a couple things lately, though. New technologies continue to spring up that amaze and inspire. Maybe we’re finally going to mass produce fuel from alge. Or discover never-before-seen particles that prove or disprove M-theory, and give us a better understanding of gravity and our many universes. I prefer to think that we won’t create a black hole that consumes the entire planet… besides if it does happen, who’s going to be around to care?

    Other than that, I try to keep my head down and my ears up. I’m just waiting for the next blinding shock of inspiration to hit…

    I’ll be sure and let you know when it does.

    Through Iguassu into Brazil


    Glory unleashed

    Glory unleashed

    The falls of Iguassu are deafening. It’s nice, though, meditative- the vibrations pounding out all other thought… except for the random fantasies about what it might feel like to take that plunge, knowing that fish and other animals must find themselves in that unfortunate predicament quite regularly. How would you feel if you one day found yourself plunging down some great chasm of water and rock, unable to move in any direction but those imposed by the violent forces around you? Sound like it would suck about as hard as the Garganta del Diablo. Let’s just hope we keep our eyes and ears open enough to avoid such situations.

    After blowing our minds at the falls, we hoped on a bus to Florianopolis, or Floripa, as it’s affectionately called. Seven days later and we’re still there. We found a hostel smack on the beach, where there are parties every night, chill people, excellent food, icecream buffets, beer, etc. And we swam, surfed, and played beach futbol. No stress, no obligations, no travel, no hassle… just pure relaxation. Just what the doctor ordered. Lada and I have decided to take it very easy these last few weeks. We’ve seen enough to keep us satisfied for a while… the need to ‘see it all’ has faded just about as fast as my worn tees.

    Now we’re waiting on a bus to the ‘Magic’ city of Rio de Janiero… or Hio, as the Brazilians call it. We’ll spend 4 nights there, then get a tour of the city from some of Jim’s friends. And on the 21st, Jim and Deb arrive and we ride with them to his house in Tere!

    Two days there and it’s back to Rio for the long-dreaded goodbye to Pootie. Don’t expect to hear from me much between now and then…

    Lada and I want to say thank you to everyone who followed our travels. And also a big, ‘love you’ to all those who know we do, and also to those who don’t but should, and maybe to some of those who shouldn’t. Ah, screw it, he’s a big ‘LOVE YOU’ to all.

    Hope your new year is blowing your mind. This year is going to be big. VERY BIG. This is the year everything changes.


    outside bariloche

    outside bariloche

    This country seems undiscovered. We spent two weeks driving down to El Calefate and back, through a massive chuck of Patagonia, all the while wondering where the people are… why isn’t this country saturated by tourists, adventurers, opportunists, and entrepreneurs? It’s not hard to spot these people in the streets of any major city, but the country is still so vastly unpopulated- and gorgeous… really, even the broad expanses of shrubbed desert are serene and attractive, spotted with estancias which managed to find a water source and irrigate their fields lined with massive, luscious tree towers. And driving just the two of us in our Volkswagen Gol made it all the more enjoyable. We pulled over just as often as we liked for pictures, pisses, craps, stretches, etc. Sometimes our curiosity took us down strange little roads, where nothing would disappoint because anything was expected. We slept in the car and in the hammock-tent at various spots: parks, campgrounds in little towns, and out in the middle of nowhere. And in between we splurged in the major towns getting double rooms in hotels and dorm beds in hostals. We had no set itinerary, mostly letting the decisions come when they needed to- occasionally using the coin flip’s insightful decisions making abilities to aid us. What an adventure that was…

    The day before Christmas we arrived back in El Bariloche. All told we drove 5603 kilometres or 3,481.54 miles with me behind the wheel and Lada at my side preparing snacks, switching cds, navigating, and generally taking care of me as only she knows how. It was the most pleasant time we’ve had on this whole trip- just the two of us with no one to rely on or worry about but ourselves. If you ever take trip to Patagonia, I highly recommend you rent a car… it’s cheap too.

    Now, we’re in the massive and wild city of Buenos Aires. It’s ok as far as cities go… busy, lots to do, fast-paced, pretty in places, and there’s plenty of stores to piss away your money like crack-addicts. Personally, I get tired pretty fast of cities. You could fall in love with BA, if you spent enough time here. But I’m a tourist in transit- and I’m not getting much out of this city other than interesting new experiences. Tango is ubiquitous. There’s also just every other kind of cultural show/dance/theater event you would expect in a major metropolitan city. We went to an Armenian restaurant and watched that strange traditional dance, clapping as encouraged and shouting “Opa!” at regular intervals. We tried to learn Tango at a school, and witnessed various professionals wow us in the streets. We’ve managed to adjust our sleeping/waking schedules so that we can eat dinner around 11:00 pm and go to the clubs around 2:00 am… sleeping until 11:30 the next day. Today we’re relaxing so our bodies will be ready for the all night punishment we’re hoping to give them for the New Year.

    The day after tomorrow we head to Argentina’s favorite city: Rosario. Then it’s up to Iguazu and then on into Brazil. I haven’t been too compelled to write these days, as I’ve spent most of my time enjoying every passing minute with Lada. She’s purchased her ticket- on the 23rd of January she’s flying our of Rio de Janiero… back to Thailand: work, family, and country. We’re hoping to spend a few days at Jim’s house before she leaves. Jim: I’ll send you the details of our plans as soon as I’m done with this entry.

    As for photos, I managed to get most of them on: http://picasaweb.google.com/augman

    All from Argentina and Patagonia still need to be uploaded. I’ll do that before I leave BA, probably… there’s some good one’s in that batch.

    Well, I hope you all have a Happy New Year!!

    Three nights in the wilderness

    Augie son finds balance with crane stance

    Augie son finds balance with crane stance

    It’s strange how you forget that living takes a lot of doing in the absence of society’s conveniences. After over two months of traveling around South America we were beginning to tire of all our transportation, sleeping, and eating needs supplied to us by others. Is a South American adventure really that if you’ve nothing to worry about but where to go and how to not let your stuff get stolen? Hardly. I’d been feeling the urge to do some trekking on our own ever since we left Laguna Quilatoa in Ecuador. Venturing out into the wild in a strange country is more rewarding than blowing your money in a modern tourist town, that’s for sure.

    So we did it. We bought a couple sleeping bags and mats, rented a tent, stocked up on 4 days worth of food, and headed out by bus to a little lake nestled between rolling mountains. The first night was only a short walk from the road, in an organized camp site, that cost us 10 pesos each. Since you can’t make fire in the national park, we were happy to stay here and have some cooked food. Hamburgers, cheese, burnt potatoes onions and garlic, boiled eggs, and fresh carrots and green peppers filled our stomach throughout the night. We placed our hotdogs and sandwich meat under a rock and encased in a large branch in the lake so as to keep the meat cold… hoping to eat it the next few days. It was secure when we left it- no small waves from the lake would dislodge it, surely. But to our great dismay and repeated disappointment throughout the rest of the trip, we woke up the following morning to find the rock and branch 10 feet apart, and the bag of meat mysteriously gone. Thieves, we decide, were responsible be they quad or bi-ped… oh well, live and learn. That’s the last time I so readily put my meat in a lake overnight. Protect thy meat!

    Down a substantial portion of food supplies, and a tad worried about going hungry the next few days, we took inventory and decided we had enough to hike around the lake- a two day journey in an unpopulated national park. We head out around noon the following day- with tuna, cheese, bread, oatmeal, eggs, snacks, apples, some veggies, and two spuds. We were graced with clear blue skies and nice breezes as we hiked the 7 kilometers to our next campsite- Playa Muñoz. Without another soul in sight, we spend the night wishing we could make fire while relishing each second of our alone time. We noticed that even though we’ve spent every minute of every day together since we began this journey, we haven’t had this sort of time together- the happy, playful time of two unburdened lovers having fun together, like the early days of our relationship. It was refreshing.

    The next day we packed our stuff, had a quick breakfast of hardboiled eggs and apples, and headed along the beach to the other end of the lake. Halfway there we hear music bouncing across the water from the opposite side. Assuming the organized camping across the lake has a bar, and looking forward to a beer, we eagerly continue. But as the realization that the silence and peace of our seemingly private natural haven is coming to and end, we stop for lunch in a shaded spot to stretch these moments of joy to their limits. Sick of tuna, we resort to mustard and bread sandwiches, finish off the eggs, and munch some green peppers and carrots. Satisfied, we pick up our packs and continue towards the noise.

    Upon arrival, we find that, oddly, this was the day of the annual Encuentro do Motos… or biker party. So, the camp grounds were filled with hundreds of bikers of all sorts, rallying, revving, competing, drinking, and listening to rock and roll music. Thinking that we’re the only hikers there that night and not quite fitting in with the style of these rough and tough biker dudes, we feel a wee bit intimidated. As soon as they start playing Sympathy for the Devil, scenes of that Hells Angels organized Rolling Stones concert where people are stabbed to death grudgingly come to mind. Will we be safe, or will the biker dudes play drunken gringo-baiting as they encircle us with their motos?! Assuming our wild imaginations are probably far from reality, we register and set up our tents for what will surely be a long night…

    Encuentro de Motos

    Encuentro de Motos

    Sad days ahead

    For almost my entire life it has never been very difficult to decide what to do at the next stage. As a kid, adolescent, young-adult, and early 20-something all steps were sort of laid out ahead of me… expectations were set, opportinities were given, and I was willing to follow the flow. Easy. I may have done many exceptional things in this short life, but I haven’t struggled through tremendous adversity with the strength of my determination and overcome vast odds like the heroes you read about. The only thing that is exceptional about me and my life is the profound luck and fortune that constitutes the foundation of it all. So far in life, it seems that I have very good karma.

    So far… life has been a joy-ride. But now I’m sitting in a beautiful town in a spectacular country surrounded by happy people going about their happy lives, and I’m more confused and sad and heart-broken and scared than I’ve ever been. Now I’m thinking about what to do with my life, and there’s no illuminated road infront of me. There’s no path of least resistance. They all look dark and difficult. I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that no matter what I choose to do, there will be hardship and pain ahead.

    For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m having to make decisions that will affect the next 10 or 20 years! I’ve never thought more than a year in advance, and I’ve been quite happy as a result. I never cared about commitment, because change has always been so frequent and even welcomed. I’ve never worried about who I’m going to be in the future, because I’ll figure it out when the time comes. And I’ve never had to decide whether or not I’m going to leave the love of my life, my companion, my other half, in the opposite side of the world. I’ve never had to worry about hurting someone I care most about.

    I’ve never been this torn. Three years I’ve had to think about this, dreading the day when we’re forced to choose and accept dramatic changes to our lives. The only thought that has reassured me through this has been: I’ll know what to do when the time comes. Now the time to know is right around the corner, and I’m afraid of what I decide. I’m afraid that I’m going to suffer, and my sweet sweet pootie is going to suffer even more, and we’re going to do it alone… on opposite sides of the globe.

    But part of me also welcomes this. Like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down, terrified, asking yourself why you’re even in this position… but knowing in the back of your mind, in that little voice that’s being drowned out by the fear, that you have to jump and you’ll be happy you did. When it’s over… you’ll be happy. After the dread has left you, the extreme emotion of the event washes through you, and the recovery is complete, you know you’ll feel like a new man- stronger, wiser, happier, with renewed purpose, and the talent and sheer will to make things happen. I need to struggle for my future, I need to confront the challenge of life head on and take it in the balls… face the suffering like a man and come crawling out the other end, scathed, but alive… like the heroes you read about.

    My test is coming… and I pray that I have the courage to succeed. I pray that I make wise decisions. I pray that my life’s fortune wasn’t just a fluke, and that I continue to have mainly good karma. And more than anything, I pray that Lada does not suffer too dearly. That’s really what hurts the most- thinking about hurting her.

    Fingers crossed… and on into the void we go. Wish us luck.

    Chile in a blur

    We spent mabye 4 days in the entire country of Chile. It’s crazy expensive, and the entire top half is one massive desert… which is cool, and all, for a bit. But damn, the desert is beautiful like depression. You´ve got to experience it, just so you know, but you really want to get the hell out fast. And we did.

    There’s so much we missed to tell you, though… taking almost two whole journal entries to tell you about San Pedro now seems like a fat overemphasis. Sorry about that, it was cool at the time, but now it’s hard to remember why.

    Anyway, after La Paz we did the Salt flat tour. And we somehow managed to do it with the shittiest company out there. Heh- you win some, you lose some. There’s really no way to be sure you’re not going to get screwed when signing up for these things. Don’t get me wrong- it was fun, and gorgeous, and well worth the money… but when you see the other companies that have speaking guides, food that doesn’t seem like a 12 year old prepared it, and trucks that aren’t as old as me, you begin to feel a bit shafted. Thankfully, we had a truck full of positive, and hilarious, foreigners to share the experience with.

    The tour ended on the border of Chile, where we hitched a ride with a van and heading to San Pedro (the town). Then we went sand boarding, which was… interesting. Too bad I suck a whole lot more at that than at snow boarding. Maybe it was the burden of having to walk back up the sand hill you just tumbled down that made it seem like more of a pain in the ass than a genuine thrill… but an worthwhile experience, nonetheless. At least we had sand-peppered tuna and crackers to fill our bellies and the added pleasure of watching other, just as uncoordinated, goobers throw themselves down a steep sand dune.

    After a 24 hours bus ride along the coast of Chile, we made it to Santiago. Ignore what you hear about that city- I thought it was the coolest city we’ve seen thus far in South America. We we’re blown away by what appeared to be a modern, developed city in South America. Lima’s a bunghole, Quito was cute but small, and La Paz, well… it’s Bolivia. Santiago has a metro! Yeah, like a modern city. We took it to our hostel, and felt, for the first time in a while, like we were again back in the 21st century. It felt surprisingly, maybe sadly, good. And they have bohemian bars with poetry readings, and live jazz…. not to mention the parks, and cars, and malls, and tall business buildings, and all that other city crap you easily forget is only in developed nations. But we aren’t here for a little taste of American metropolitan life in South America, are we?? We left after a night.

    Now we’re in the wide open fertile fields of South America’s favorite country: Argentina. Cheap wine and steak, baby, galore!! Ohhh….

    Time’s up on the prepago internet! Adios for now!

    Ohh… San Pedro. uunghhh…

    It’s wasn’t by intention to leave you all hanging on the San Pedro story. My phsycadelic companion had to catch his bus, so I left to say goodbye as brothers bonded by soul searing of the sacred cactus…

    We thought we knew enough about the plant to attempt to prepare it on our own. What we didn’t know, however, and we soon to discover, was how to determine the strength of the concoction before consuming it. Anyhow, the lack of a proper kitchen, stove, blender, and privacy presented some challenges which we enjoyed striving to overcome. It brought back memories of the days in highschool where we mischeviously applied all our mental capacities to the task of getting high on new and deliciously illegal drugs. But this time we were older, perhaps wiser, and had the security of knowing that San Pedro is far from illegal around here. Still, though, we didn’t feel that the hostal establishment would condone our processing the plant and consuming large quantities of it openly infront of their other guests. So we opted to keep it quiet as best we could.

    Fortunately, not many guests were hanging around on the top floor terrace around 2:00 in the afternoon. Jake grabed is camping stove, asked to borrow a kitchen pot, and proceeded to try and fit the stove to a new kerosene tank we bought just an hour earlier while Lada and I diligently cut the skin off the cactus as we were trained. The stove and tank had incompatible fittings… which Jake managed to work into a seemingly snug marriage. But like most marriages, there were leaks… and about 30 minutes into the cooking process, we had flames coming out of the tank, melting the stove top rather severly before we managed to quelsh them. Scratching our heads, not wanting to endanger the mission by asking the establishment if we could cook San Pedro on their kitchen stove, we sought alternative options. Then we saw the kettle… and electric kettle is a common household item for Brits- asking our British friend how it worked inspired chortles and that holier-than-though look of disbelief as he went on to explain that life is quite impossible without one. But why not heat your water in the microwave, we ask? Ahhh!!! Blasphemy!!

    Anyway, an electric kettle is just that- a kettle that boils water when plugged in. But it isn’t meant to boil water for very long… it stops when the temp gets to boiling, and you have to hit the button continuously if you want to boil something for longer than a few seconds. Well, we wanted to boil our San Pedro for over and hour. Thinking that this might break the kettle, and piss of the establishment, we asked our lovely Brit friends if they might let us use their private room for the final processing of our baby. They ablige, and we proceed to sit in their room, next to the window, for over and hour hitting the on button of the kettle approx. every 30 seconds. Eventually, we skinned the meat off the hard skin, tossed the skin, then boiled it some more. The brits and I had both done the San Pedro through “professional” shaman oufits, and we knew more or less what the green goo should look and taste like. Well, it looked ok, but tasted far more bitter than what we had before. Assuming this was just because we shortened the cooking time, and the drink would probably therefore be less potent, we shrugged our shoulders and decided to go for it.

    Jake and I cheersed it up, and struggled to get the awful green liquid in our bellies. Ten minutes later, and we’re already feeling strange. Later we come to conclude than the bitter taste probably comes from the drug itself… so the more intensely bitter, the more intensely high you will get. Stupid us for thinking the opposite…

    Anyway, there’s no way to describe that experience. It was intensely strange, pleasant mostly, but sooo very strange. We forgot what the world looked like when we weren’t hallucinating, and we found the hallucinations are far crazier when we closed our eyes. And it went onnnn and onn and on. Some 4 hours into being in another world, and we were still as high as ever. By the end, we wanted it to stop, to release us and let our worn out minds have some rest. But no, it doesn’t just stop… we were forced to come down and far as we went up, and it was another six hours of not so pleasant, tired, but alert, conscious struggle. Oh… no sleep that night, no sleep at all.

    All in all, we enjoyed it. I’ve never done anything even remotely that crazy. And I don’t think I ever will again… it was just too much, man… too much. San Pedro may hold the key to heavens gate, but do you really want to go there??

    Bolivia in a heart-beat

    We are alive an well. Thank God. I don’t mean to stress anyone out with that (don’t worry mom) but some events of the last few weeks had me wondering if I’d pull through to another day. Well… one event, really. Do you remember my tale of the phsycadellic cactus, San Pedro?? We ran aross him again in La Paz, Bolivia for 15 Bolivianos (approx. $2) in a witches market. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…

    After leaving the tourist town of Cusco, Peru, we hopped on a morning bus to Puno, a strange little town on the coast of Lake Titicaca. We did some of the gringo trail must-sees like the floating islands of Uros, and Isla Taquile… all well and interesting. We bought necklaces and ate the Tortora plant. But I also spent a considerable portion of the boat journey talking with one of the natives of Isla Taquile, who told me about the strange hat and dress customs of the people, the economy and social structure of the island, and about his adventures with an american journalist who wrote a story about him. That was by far the highlight of the trip. I gave him the rest of my coca leaves and told him that if he checks out my site and drops me a message I’ll send him a Spanish-English textbook, which are hard to find around there. I hope he does.

    Then we said adios to Peru and hola to Bolivia. Copacabana was the first destination… which was one of the strangest experiences we’ve had so far. Bolivia is by far poorer than it’s neighbors, which would have been great for us, since things are cheaper, if only we could access our money. Oddly enough, the town turns off it’s electricity until 6pm on Mondays. And no electricity means no $$. So after arriving on Sunday night, we drop 90% of our money on a room… then stumble around the town as the realization slowly crystalizes that we don’t have enough money to eat dinner. Frustrated, we buy a couple bananas and some crackers and go home to sleep off the hunger.

    The next day, Lada rustles up $3 USD, which we go exchange at a considerable loss for 16 Bolivianos. This being just enough to get an early local bus out of town, we decide to go for it and head for the metropolis of La Paz. At this point we no longer have any guide books to give us advice and things to look out for, so travelling is now a bit more like I think it should be: completely unknown. I’m excited, Lada’s a bit worried, and the 4 screaming brats on the bus with us are having an annoyingly good time. That’s another thing I find strange- people here don’t discipline their kids. The little turds are screaming, singing, making those curiously loud incomprehensible noises, and the parents are just ignoring them… or even encouraging that behavior!! I don’t get it. When I was a little bastard like that my parents told me to shut it, to the relief of all others. Have people here become immune to the ear-piercing nightmare of un-muzzled children?? What a scary thought. With the overabundance of children in these parts, it might have been necessary for continued happiness. Perhaps they should teach classes on how to not hate children and their passive parents to those unaccustomed. I’d take them in a heart beat.

    Anyway we arrive in La Paz a few hours later at the Cemetary, which is where all the gringos get had. Promptly, the ‘Tourist Police’ accost us with precautionary tales of fake tourist police trying to get their hands on our passports. Of course now we don’t know whether to be happy there are tourist police, or nervous that there’s an apparent need for them. Shrugging that off, we make our way to a nearby cash machine with two armed guards standing infront of it. Surely their shotguns and grimmaces will deter theives… they do, and we get money and find a hostel. La Paz, man… that’s a busy, loco town.

    Jake, a funny kid from San Fransisco, meets us there later than night. He did the Machu Picchu trek with us. So we catch up and exchange travel stories over a couple locally micro-brewed beers. The next day, as we walking around trying to shrug off the hangover, we come across San Pedro in a side street called the witches market…

    Machu Picchu

    I wonder if llamas think it's as spectacular as i do.

    I wonder if llamas think it's as spectacular as i do.

    Check out rest of the photos:



    Whew… I just woke up from a nap. After a solid 9 hours of sound sleep last night it seems by body is recovering from an overabundance of physical exertion- or maybe just comfy bed withdrawal. Last night we returned to Cusco from our 5 day trek through the Salkantay pass to Machu Picchu. It was well worth the $$ we dropped on it.
    Wayki means ‘brother’ in Quechua. It’s used with much love and respect. We didn’t know this, of course, when we signed up with Wayki Trek for our trip to the Macchuist Picchu of all Machu Picchus. Our kickass guide, José Cussi- a likely descendant of Inca Pachacuti, taught us that cuchi ullo (or ‘pig face’ in Quechua- specifically referring to the dirty quality of a pig’s face, so really ‘dirty faced boy’) is more commonly used amongst friends… and if that doesn’t suit you, cachero (or ‘man who has sex with woman’) works too. He taught me much about the politics and economics of Peru, helping me practice my Spanish and pass the time on the long hours hiking through the stunning Andes. He also explained to me the intricacies of ‘senoritas con costumbres de senoras,’ which only makes sense once you understand that senoritas are supposed to be pure virgins. We all enjoyed his cute little jokes, like saying we were only x minutes and 7 seconds away from anywhere, and that it’s his job to lie to us… and he seemed to follow along well enough when we had rambunctious arguments in English, even throwing in fitting comments here and there.

    But what really made me like him was his passion for the Quechua culture, and his sadly reverent attitude about the long-destroyed Incas. His parents sent him to live with his grandparents in the country until he was six where he learned the Quechua language and customs. Then he moved into the city to learn the language of ‘modern civilization’: castellano. Now he’s Catholic. But Catholics here are like nowhere else- they believe in all that Christian mumbo-jumbo, but they also believe in the gods of the mountains (Apus), the sun, the moon, and the earth (Pachamama). They even practice some of the ceremonial customs from pre-Incan times. It’s a wonderful mix of cultures that gives me hope when thinking about the continual disaster of ethnocide.

    With José the Inca at our side we journeyed some 80 km through Andean highlands, cloud forests, and jungles. Arrieros, or horsemen, took care of our rough-sacks and tents, and the cook and his assistant made sure we had tasty food to fill our bellies three times a day. So really, we felt quite pampered. No matter how sore we were, we didn’t say much (very loud) because we knew the others worked twice as hard. Watching them set up and take down our tents took some getting used to… but they didn’t want us to help. “Relájate,” they say. “No más…” At least we tipped them well.

    Luckily for all of you, I won’t go into tremendous detail about the events of that trek, except for the following highlights:

    * We climbed higher than I’ve ever been on land: 4645 meters above sea level.
    * We saw how Andean people live at all levels of the Andean wilderness.
    * We bathed in hot springs in the middle of nowhere.
    * One of our companions contracted Typhoid.
    * On the second to last day we finally saw Machu Picchu from above at ruins a couple kms away. It almost made me cry.
    * I climbed Wayna Picchu, the mountain you see in all the Machu Picchu photos.
    * Lada pulled through stupendously- with little to no complaints.
    * The food was quite tasty.

    The rest I’ll let you sort out from the photos, which should be up tonight or tomorrow.
    I think it’s important to add that Machu Picchu is by far the more beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. No words can describe that place. Just go see it for yourself… you’ll be blown away too.

    Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.