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  • 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.


    This town’s like a small European town, but with mind-blowing ancient stone walls everywhere. So very sad that we know so little about a once magnificent and powerful people. Just to think about how they built such massive walls with no steel- just other rock hammers inginuity and a lot of time… and they had no slaves. All was done according to the tax system of labor exchange and the power of religious fanaticism. If I could travel back in time, I’d go to Cusco before the bloddy Spanish came and ruined everything. At least the language survived…

    We’re stranded, though, due to yet another huelga (stike). Roads are closed, people are pissed, tourists are scared, and the town is filled with riot police… another day in South America, I guess. But the tourist leeches are out in force innundating our already slightly uncomfortable ambiance with, “hola amigo, massage? postcard? art? finger puppet? strange box thing? earings? good food? internet? shoe shine? hat? water? water holder? cigarretes? gum? some other useless craft?” Uhh… “no, gracias.” Please for the love of Christ almighty, leave me alone damnit!! I was thinking about getting a big sign or sticker that says, “No. Gracias.” and sticking it to my forehead. I’ve never wished to have dark skin so badly before.

    But they got to eat too I suppose. I think the strike today is about the exceedingly low minimum wage in this country. It seems the only work that doesn’t suck around here is sucking the tourists dry. So you can’t help feeling sorry for these people… the only reason to by another useless piece of art here is to spread some of the wealth around some. However after dropping a ridiculous sum of money on a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu I’m feeling a bit poor myself.

    On Saturday we start walking with 8 other extranjeros, a guide, a cook, and a couple porters through the mountains of the Andes. The Inca trail is booked months in advance, so we’re going an alterate route. It sounds pretty sweet, hard and painful, undoubtedly, but sweet. And the trip is rounded out with some 6 hours on Machu Picchu. Hopefully I’ll be over this cold by then. I got the dreaded cold… what a pain in the ass. I haven’t been able to party since we got here because of it. Lame.

    Anyhow, Cusco is an awesome town. Aside from the tremendous surplus of tourists and tourist related business, I would recommend everyone to check this place out. And if you’ve got $$, even better. They’ve got plenty of 1st rate accomodations and services for those who like to travel in style. Just be prepared to feel like a giant tourist, with a big fat tourist arrow over your head saying, “bother me, I have money!!”


    We just left a mountain paradise in the Andes of Peru. Nestled between the Cordillera Nerga and the Cordillera Blanca lies a small but busy town of Huaraz, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake then resulting flood in 1970. This quaint little town is the stop over point for the many mountain adventures that flock to explore the vast peaks and valleys that surround it. We weren’t planning on doing much trekking ourselves, but a few hours in a town surrounded by massive mountains made us yearn to go exploring.

    Shortly after hearing about the The Way Inn mountain lodge that hugs the base of the Cordillera Blanca at 3700 meters, we decided to check it out. Lada, two Australian brothers, two British chicks, and I hopped in a hatch-back cab and made our way up the mountains. As the noise and clutter of Huaraz gradually died away and the vast serenity of the Cordillera Blanca embraced us, we knew we made a good decision. Arriving at the quaint little lodge was like taking a breath of fresh air after growing accustomed to life in Bombay- we remembered how beautiful planet earth could be.

    An ex-Brit and his now estranged wife built this place from mere dreams, and with a lot of sweat, over the past 6 years. Now they enjoy the success that comes with owning one of the few mountain lodges in one of the most touristed areas of the Peruvian Andes. Luckily for us we arrived sooner than later, since they plan on expanding the operation to cater to the high-end market- offering large suites, jacuzzies, and other rich-man services- so someday this place might be much to pricey. But for now, the friendly young staff and their lack of much experience with guests gave the place a relaxed and even homey feel. We enjoyed sitting around by the wood heater, reading, eating, and chatting it up with other budget travelers.

    Of course, you can´t go into the mountains and not go hiking… lest you feel like a lazy pile of poo. And the closest peak of Churupita did look like a nice challenge. So the day after our arrival we set out to climb 1000 meters for a view into the park on the other side. But my dumbass didn’t bring a rain jacket. Three and a half hours of straight up hiking and scraping landed us on the second highest peak at 4632 meters. For 10 minutes or so we basked in the landscape and took photos. Then the rain and hail began to turn the once brown mountain into a white capped one. Undesiring of hyperthermia, we decided to turn around and head back. Less than an hour later, with sore knees and completely wet, we made it back to the lodge. Soup and sleep never felt so good.

    The next day was Halloween. And what better to do on Halloween than a San Pedro ceremony? Toby, from Lubick, Texas, was a traveling shaman of sorts. For a small fee he told us he would guide us through the spirit world of San Pedro, a psychadelic cactus. We were told the medicine (don’t call it a drug…) was mescaline based, and can induce profoundly spiritual and often unpleasant but necessary confrontations with your sub-conscience. Sweet, we thought. So by 10 o’clock that morning we were safely guarded from the evil spirits and waiting for the trip to grab us by the balls. Nine of us took it, 2 spewed shortly after, and most of us had quite a pleasant time. We were each instructed to ask San Pedro a question we wanted answered. Mine was, “will I reach enlightenment in this lifetime?” Unfortunately, and not to undersell the experience, the only answer I think I got was, “on San Pedro you sure won’t.” But I did have some enlightening thoughts and conversations with evolved souls that gave me that priceless feeling of complete gratitude for being alive. All in all, it was a worthwhile experience. Drugs can be a short cut to spiritual thought and experience. But they are ultimately very limited, and leave the user with not much more than one more assurance that there’s more to this experience than the mundane. That’s my disclaimer…

    Oh, by the way, San Pedro is apparently available legally in the US. And it’s super easy to cook. So, for all you experimenters and seekers at home, pick yourselves up some cactus! In a few months time you could be having your own San Pedro ceremony! After all, San Pedro is the one who holds the keys to Heaven’s Gate…

    Anyway, we’re in Lima now, trying to decide what to do tomorrow. If anyone wants to call me and doesn’t mind footing the long distance bill, my number is: 44 911 4704. But first you must dial the country code of Peru… which I don’t have infront of me.

    Tata for now!


    Lazy days of summer… well, almost summer. I can’t really tell by the weather down here. Except for the wind, of course… there’s this awful wind that starts at around 10 and gives up around 6, or pretty much the entire time the sun is blasting. The kite surfers love it, the surfers hate it, and I’m definately leaning towards the latter. I’ve been surfing the past two days on nice rolling breaks between a meter and 2 meters tall. Great for beginners like me. I’ve gotten over the steep learning curve of being able to catch the waves and stand up pretty consistently- now I’m working on riding the smooth face up and down as it breaks to the left. It’s terribly fun, and at around 10 dollars a day for a nice board and wet suit, it doesn’t require spending too much time justifying the expense.

    We had our first ceviche on the beach yesterday. Ohhh… it was tasty. Raw rish, squid, calamari, and shrimp mixed together in the staple lemon sauce, garnished with a strange type of potato and chile peppers, made a delicious treat. Aside from the fact that my intestines are not in the best shape today, it was well worth the four dollars we paid for it. For five they might leave out the parasites.

    But I did find the cure to travelers’ raw-anus condition that can result from a couple days of diarreha. It’s usually made worse by sitting down for long periods (busses), and maybe swimming in the ocean. You’ll know you’ve got in when wiping your butt feels like you’re using sandpaper, even with the softest of tissue. So here’s the trick: alcohol wipes and Gold Bond baby powder. Walla! Keep it clean and dry and you’re well on your way to anal relief. If you plan on traveling, don’t forget to bring these essentials! Note: it does help to have someone willing to apply the baby powder- it takes a steady aim at a hard to see spot.

    We’ve really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere around here- just the kind you’d expect from a beach community. We are itching to move on, though. There’s too much else to see in this massive continent. Besides, we’re getting very tired of having money in bills too large for anyone to accept. I think it’s a conspiracy, or a scam to get more out of the waves of tourists that made this place what it is. You take money out of the ATM, and you get 50s and 100s (3 Soles = 1 dollar), but store owners, hostals, restaurants, and everyone else complains when you pay with anything bigger than 10! Ridiculous. We end up spending less because we don’t want to go through the hassle of finding someone with cambio. So much for their evil plan.

    I’ve got get go, though. It’s feed the Poo time, and I’d like to maybe ride some waves this afternoon for a bit. Tomorrow we’re headed to Puerto Chacama, which supposedly has the longest left break in the world- under perfect conditions one could ride a single 2m wave for 2km!! Sweeeet.

    Banos de Agua Santa

    We’re in a small mountain town on the eastern cordillero next to the Orient, which is what they call the jungle portion of Ecuador. Today it’s raining, so there’s not much to do other than sit on the computer and write. Now we understand why this is the low-season…

    Downhill mountain biking to la Garganta del Diablo

    Downhill mountain biking to la Garganta del Diablo

    Yesterday was stupenderisiouly-magnifinormous. We rented some bicycles for $5 and rode downhill through mountain ravines for 2 hours. The sky was clear, the weather nice and cool, and the tourist traffic to a minimum. The hills here are covered with jungle- everywhere there’s green, except near the rivers rumbling below that are carving deep rifts through strange looking volcanic rock. I wanted to take pictures of it all… to somehow save it, maybe hang onto the it’s vast beauty for years to come- always remembering what it was like to be here. But then reality told me that the photos can’t do that for me. Nothing can. All that we see and do here is gone just as soon as we turn around and move forward. Sadness accompanied the joy of it.

    And then the people you meet wipe that sadness away, because they too are here for those fleeting moments of awe. They know just as well as we did that this is a special place, and knowing that for the first time uplifts you, but ultimately we are destined to experience far more than one view of creation. We must turn away, and move forward. People share the same human experiences, understand the same limitations, and are blown away by the same vastly beautiful unknowns. So stopping to forget with them all that we think is ours is a welcomed relief. Two men we met along the way yesterday we’re exceptionally pleasant distractions. One was an ex-pat from Canada, who came here to tend a garden next to the rumbling Rio Verde. The other was a restaurant owner who’s kindness and obvious honesty allowed us to relax a bit in a foreign and sometimes unforgiving land.

    Antonio the gardner wanted to tell us about the “3rd Dimension”, the interconnection of all things, the end of the world, truth in all texts which inspiried faith, a mythical dwarf who is between good and evil, devils and angels, and other mysteries of the universe. And, of course, he wanted to tell us about his “Garden of Eden.” What a gem that guy was. We promised to meet in another life, again in this one, or in the hereafter.

    The restaurant owner fed us, took care to stash our bikes safely in the back, told us what we should go and see, and was generally just a sweet little old man. The food was good too.

    Afterwards, we ate and went to the hot springs. They were hot, alright. And brown. It felt almost like we were all children of the womb, splashing around in warm and organic fluids, relaxed and placid… awaiting our moment of uncomfortable birth, when the dip into 16 degrees Celcius water shocks you awake. We slept like babies.

    Time to read on the hammock a bit.

    Laguna Quilatoa

    Me Pointing at God's Toilet

    Me Pointing at God's Toilet

    There’s a lake in the middle of an old volcano… around the year 1780 this mountain exploded, spewing fire and ash miles and miles, and when the smoke settled a giant hole was left where the mountain once was. Over time the crater filled with water, forming what is now known as Laguna Quilotoa. This is one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in my 24 years.

    We arrived at the summit of the crater before noon on Thursday. After negotiating our sleeping arrangements, we packed our day hiking gear and went to see for ourselves what we had heard so much about. And we weren’t disappointed. The 30-minute straight downhill slide to the bottom was a lot of fun. We hung out near the clear green water for a few hours, ate some frutas and cliff bars, wrote, meditated, and told the local burros (donkey) guides that we were planning on walking back up… Strangely enough, we met an older couple from Decatur there too- Bob and Janice we a nice bunch of gringos on a planned tour. They said that they weren’t so stupid to try and walk back up.

    Then for the next hour and 20 minutes we scrapped and dug our ways back up and out of the crater. That was our first major excertion… we took a nap shortly thereafter. Later that night we ate dinner with a local Quichua family huddeled around the wood stove heater- that was the best meal we had had yet on the trip. Afterwards we had a beer or two and chatted with one of the younger girls about their traditions, culture, the world, music, etc. in a mix of german, belgian, spain, and quichua spanish. That was a whole lot of fun. Sleeping that night, though, was a bit difficult due to the cold, the hard beds and pillows, and the weight of the 8 thick wool blankets that covered us. It gets chilly at night at over 12500 ft in the Andes.

    The following day, we started the long (er than expected) hike to the next town on the gringo trail- Chugchilan. Because our packs were much lighter, we hadn’t too much trouble staying on our feet… but we struggled a bit trying to find the trail. Local guides ripped out all the signs, as they seemed to want solo travelers to get lost. But with some luck, a lot of work, a gps, and the help a 8 year old boy we paid $1 to show us the way, we managed to find our way to a hostel some 5 and a half hours later. Now that hike kicked our asses. But it was worth it! Man, what a beautiful journey that was! Ah… I can’t even tell you. Maybe the pictures will help. I’ll upload them when I get a chance.

    Anyway, I’m supposed to get of this machine and let the next traveller tell their stories to friends and family. We’re in Baños now, about to rent some mountain bikes and ride to some waterfalls that are supposed to be spectacular. Then we hit the hot springs and relax…

    We’re also looking into Amazon tours. So we may spend 3-4 nights in the jungle very soon.

    Adios Quito, Bienvenidos a Latacunga

    We had to say goodbye to Quito today… too much to see further south to be hanging around the big city.

    I’ve said before that detailing all the events of my time here is more like work to me than fun. And we left our work back in Atlanta… Besides, I imagine that that sort of writing is not nearly as enjoyable to read. Pictures we have to show some of our high points, but in many cases you’ll have to imagine the stories that go with them.

    It suffices to say that we’ve had a lot of fun. All the people we meet are nice, welcoming, and generous- both travelers and locals. Ecuador is truly a wonderful little country on a spectacular strech of land. We went to the equator, both the massive monument 200 ft away, and the actual 00º 00.000 line. They say you’re actually lighter on the equator (less gravity)… which might help explain why we had such a light-hearted time playing with the gimmicks that demonstrate the ‘power’ of the equator. You’ve heard about the water in a draining sink spinning opposite directions depending on the hemisphere you’re in, right? Well, we got a demo of that. After the guides left, another american couple, Lada, and I had a fun time trying to figure out how they did it. We’ve got two theories now: the angle of the ground upon which the sink was set, and the way the water was poured in before the plug was pulled. Then again is could be the power of the Line. Any ideas? We took video of it if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.

    Anyway, a lot has happened since then. We checked out the South American Explorers group, joined and got our bearings, moved to another hostal in the new part of town, partied, slept, researched out next step, hoped in a taxi then in a hurried panic transferred to a bus, sat for 2 hours, landed in the small and nearly tourist free town of Latacunga, made our way to this cool little hostal, got a room, ate, and here I am. Lada just brought me back some little bananas or oritos (little gold) from the market, and I think she’s now taking a nap. I’m beginning to feel tired myself…

    Tomorrow we embark on our first strenuous trek through the mountains. We’re headed to a massive lake in the middle of the crater of an old but not extinct volcano. And it’s some 4500 meters above sea level. On the way there and back, we’ll be busing, hitching on trucks, hiking through indigenous villages, and sleeping in cheap hostals next to warm fires. We’re excited. Wish us luck- hiking for 5-6 hours at that altitude could be a challenge. We’re leaving all the unnecessary stuff at this hostal to reduce weight, and we’ll come and pick it up on the way back.

    See you in 3 or 4 days.

    Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.