Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 66

Ok so I just spent some of the best days of my trip in SA. My brother and I took a very small prop. airplane to Rurrenabaque or as it is poorly pronounced ¨rubberducky¨ Bolivia. We landed safely on a small patch of dirt known as the Rurrenabaque airport. Shortly after we booked a 3day trip to the pampas region of the Bolivian Amazon. After a 3 hour jeep ride (which we ran out of gas twice) we arrived at the entrance of the park and boarded a long narrow boat with a sweet 15hpr. engine and began our ride upstream. The river was only about 20ft. to 50ft. across and at its deepest point maybe 15ft. Not quite a river but a good stream. The best part about this stream was that there was literally an alligator or five every 10ft. along the bank and I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. Amongst the gators and caimen there were all sorts of birds and huge capybaras. Herons, giant storks, cranes, cormorants, everything. We arrived to our little shanty, complete with individual mosquito nets. In the morning we awoke quite early and took the boat downstream a ways to watch a most beautiful sunrise. Once we returned we ate one of the best breakfasts of the trip. Afterwards we hiked for 5 hours through the thickest tallest grass, nastiest bogs, thickest mud, and the most humid air. Don´t worry though there was good reason. We were snake hunting. After about and hour and a half we reached a small dry area of trees. We walked around for a few minutes and then our guide noticed something. He told us not to move and be very quiet. We did and what he found was a cobra. Yes a cobra. Though Brock and I didn´t actually see it we did try to get it out of its hole in a tree for about half an hour. No luck. So we marched on. As we trodged on we saw many black eagles, pampas condors, and giant storks. After about another hour our guide beckoned us to where he was. In the middle of a shallow muddy pond he found an anaconda. The three of us started circling the area in which it was spotted. Finally he stuck his stick in the water and revealed the snake. As soon as I saw snake I dove down and grabbed the beasts head. After wrestling for nearly a minute I had tamed the beast. A good sized snake it was too. It was about 7 or 8 ft and weighed nearly 50lbs. The guide helped throw the snake over my shoulders for a picture and then he took over. After a few more minutes we released the hog back to his home and marched on. Much like a garter snake anacondas release their waste as a defense mechanism and needless to say like a garter snake it is absolutely foul. One of the worst stenches I have ever encountered. When we retuned we had another amazing meal and watched the sunset from a small jungle bar on stilts. After the sunset we returned to camp and I began frog hunting. This was as easy as shooting fish in a cup. Frogs are about as abundant as gators. Almost as abundant. I caught and photographed many different species of frogs and I think I may have discovered a new one or two. The following day went to watch pink river dolphins and catch pirahnas. The pirahnas were small and very hard to catch but their giant jaws and teeth made it worthwhile. Soon after we returned to pack up and head home. On the way back from fishing within about 5 or 6 minutes we counted over 67 gators/caimen and that was only the ones we could see. We made it back to Rurrenabaque without incedent and are now awaiting trasport back to La Paz. Hope everyone back home is enjoying summer as much as me. Later.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 61

Ok so it has been a pretty wild ride so far. The journey is coming to an end and I still have much to write. The last 11 days have been quite fun for our group. After Mendoza, Argentina we traveled back to Santiago and took a bus to San Pedro de Atacama shortly after. We arrived in SP with no problems except one. It was nearly impossible to find accomidations. Apparently when the rest of SA is in low season due to winter it´s high season in the desert. SP is a very nice little desert oasis stuck right in the middle of nowhere. Hot, cold, dry, and dusty, four words most commonly used in this part of the world. Whilst in SP we took the moon valley tour to see a magnificent sunset and in the morning a tour of geysers and hot springs. It was no yellowstone but still quite amazing. A couple days later we started our 3 day tour of the Bolivian salt flats. Also known as Salar de Uyuni. The first two days were pretty cool apart from going as high as 5000 meters (16404ft) in which I became quite sick and could hardly breathe. That fortunatly only lasted one night and afterwards was mostly down from there. There is nothing that really compares to 3 days of off roading in a jeep in the deserted mountainscapes of absolutely nowhere. The third day we arrived at the salt flat known as Salar de Uyuni and were amazed at its sheer size and flatness. Imagine a giant lake or small sea that is entirely white and flat. In the middle there is an island of prehistoric coral and thousand year old cacti. This is where we made lunch and soon after departed for uyuni. On the way to Uyuni we stopped to take some very bizzare, mind bending pictures. Because of the flat all white surface of the salt your mind plays tricks on you and it really is different. Arrival to Uyuni. Not much to say other than Boliva is cheap and busses are horrid. We took a bus from Uyuni to La Paz and it was 10hrs of hell. The bus was cramped and smelled as bad as the people on board. My brothers seat had no headrest and istead there were two large metal spikes. There were no empty seats and locals forced their way on board just to stand in the aisle for the entire journey. People were rude and would force their way past you not caring whether or not they stepped on you or pushed you over. Once we arrived here in La Paz we booked our selves into a pretty nice hostel which happens to have its own microbrewery. SWEET. Brock is biking down the most dangerous road in the world today and I am booking flights to our next destination...Rurrenbaque for a couple of days in the jungle before we say goodbye to Bolivia and head back to Peru. Until then, go see Batman its worth it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 50

So we are now in Mendoza, Argentina...Some will argue this as the Wine capitol of the world. I could agree. Its pretty cool here. Especially if you like wine. We are doing a wine and chocolate tour tomorrow, then its off to San Pedro De Atacama. We arrived safely in El Calafate and took a tour to the Perito Moreno glacier. One of the only glaciers that is still growing to this day. Hard to explain but it is magnificent. I never thought I could see shades of blue such as those in the ice. Only in the sky have I seen something this unnatural. After the glacier we took a bus to Puerto Natales, Chile. Puerto Natales is in the area known as Tierra Del Fuego or Land of Fire. We took a day trip through the Torres Del Paine national park. It was beautiful. Truly unspoilt beauty. Mountains, glaciers, multi-colored lakes, huanacos(llamas), rheas(ostrich), rabbits, foxes, condors,...amazing. The next day we decided to go horseback riding up a small mountain to get an overall view of the city and the fjords. This was the single worst experience of the trip. We got to the top of the fisrt of three peaks and the wind hit us like a truck. Icy cold wind blowing off the bay up the mountain. It only got worse as we moved along. We eventually made it to the top and made a small fire and ate lunch. On the way back down it started raining. So now we have 100mph winds with freezing rain. Great I forgot a hat. My entire body was soaking wet and my hair was starting to freeze to my head. I had to say fuck it. Hopped off my horse and ran the rest of the way back down the mountain. All that over and done with we got a flight to Santiago, spent the night and got a bus to Mendoza. Lets start this wine drinking.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Ok yeah its been a while. So I left off in Rio....Rio to Foz do Iguacu 18hrs, by bus. Ok first I just have to say that there are two kinds of busses for long distance travel. Cama, and Semi-Cama. Cama is very nice, large leather seats that recline almost all the way, and sometimes meals are in cluded. Semi cama is slightly better than an airplane. Meals are not included. So anyway Rio to Foz 18hrs. Semi-Cama. HELL.....Iguacu Falls....Amazing. Probably the single coolest natural attraction I have seen. To truly grasp its imensity you have to do both the Brazil side and Argentina. The Brazil side is the panoramic view of all the falls (over 275 total.) And the Argentina side is walking the trails that go over the falls. While we were admiring the falls we noticed some guides/park officials looking down in the water with binoculars. I asked what they were looking at and they pointed out the body of woman who jumped to her death three days prior. We were morbidly intrigued. We eventually found out that this was common and that the falls were a suicide hotspot. It was a german woman about 47yrs old. The photographers on the Argentina side, at the devil´s throat witnessed the woman jump. Apparently she just climed up on the railing and leap off. As different as it was to see a dead woman floating around in the water there is still nothing quite as beautiful as Iguazu falls. I would return any day to see them again. Foz to Buenos Aires 20hrs, Cama Bus...Very nice. Free meal at a resturant, free wine, free beer, free champagne, need I say more. Buenos Aires has to be the coolest city after Rio. Its like someone took Europe and South America threw them in a blender and poured it into one big city. Its sweet. There are statues of weird looking people with strange mustaches about every half a block. The architecture is very nice. The people are almost as beautiful as in Rio and the food isn´t half bad. There are lots of nice resturants and lots of cool bars. They have probably the most amazing cemetary filled with giant mausolems and giant statues, no graves, just tombs. Emaculate, Elaborate, Extravagant. If ever I should die I think I would need one of these. Oh and for every ten mausolems there is a cat. Cats everywhere. Out of all Buenos Aires there are only two spots which you will see hundreds of cats, the masuolems and a small botanical park near the zoo. That reminds me of another cool thing in BA, the zoo. Its nothing spectacular but its pretty sweet. They have some fairly exotic animals. Elephants, rhinos, hippos, a giraffe, big cats, a reptile exibit, and more. The only problem with the zoo was that the snakes were way over fed and the big cats were malnurished. We also attended a Boca jr. Soccer game. That was pretty cool. High score... Boca 6 Tigre 2. A bit sketchy though. We sat in the wrong spot and almost got our asses kicked/stabbed just for that reason. After that all was good and we had alot of fun. While in BA I spoke to a couple different people about finding Megalodon shark teeth. ( Prehistoric shark that was bigger than a school bus and could swallow a rhino whole. About 20 million years old.) I was told by these people that they could be found in Argentina and that Las Grutas was a good place to look. So.... 16hours later BA to Las Grutas via Cama bus. We arrived at Las Grutas to find nothing. Not even people. This is a town suited for probably about 50 thouand and we saw maybe 50. There are streets empty with maybe the exception of a lone biker. Huge hotels, empty. Apparently this town only happens in the summer. We spent about half a day combing the beach for fossils and decided it was best to move along. So 5hrs, Semi-Cama Puerto Madryn. Puerto Madryn is a very nice little city in a bay filled with whales. As soon as we started rolling into town we spotted whales everywhere. We took a taxi to a rocky beach about 10km outside of town and were amazed to see huge Southern Right Whales less than 40ft. from shore. We were so close we could have swam to them in about 10 secs. They are beautiful creatures. They come here every year this time becasue it is a safe harbour for their young calfs. We also saw sea lions in a small cove to the south. They are here year round and in the fall they attract huge Orcas or Killer Whales. We saw a poster in the bus station that had the names of the orcas that come to the bay. They are recognized by their unique dorsal fin. e.g. Shamu. The city also has really huge "rave-like" bars and parties that usually start around 2 or 3 am. and last til about 7 or 8 am. It was fun. Now this brings me up to date. Today sucked. Well the last 40 hours. anyway. We hoped on a bus from Puerto Madryn to Rio Gallegos. At the station we were told it would be an 18hr bus ride. So we departed and headed towards Rio Gallegos. We make it about 2hrs and have to stop for 3hrs because of snow. We didn´t quite understand this since there was no snow anywhere. After 3hrs we traveled some more, stopped some more, traveled again and then hit snow. Not a big deal. Maybe 2 or 3 inches. Even people not used to snow usually don´t have this much trouble. We did. We got stuck on level ground in about an inch of snow. Maybe snow is like water where you can drown in less than an inch. I don´t know. Long story short, short ride long. 18hrs turned into 31hrs. and now we are about to get another 4hr bus (13hrs) to El Califate to see one of the last moving glaciers in the world. Wish us luck. We will have fun. I hope.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 25

Beaches, Beaches, Beaches, Mountains, Hot chicks, Christo Rendentor, Sugarloaf, Sushi...Cheap Sushi, BEACHES, lets just say Rio de Janiero is amazing. Sorry for the explosion but so far this is the coolest place yet. People are friendly, everything you need is just around the corner, and the food is amazing. The only real problem is that everything is expensive, for the most part. Instead of paying an average of about $10 to $15 a night we are spending $30. Instead of paying an average of <$1 to maybe $5 a cab ride we are paying about $20 to $40. Lets just say its not the cheapest place in Brazil.
Ok that begin with we left Manaus about 3a.m. flew to Sao Paulo which was easy to tell as being the 2nd largest city in the world and got a bus to Rio asap. Six hours later we arrived and got a very expensive taxi ride to our hostel. The next day was very cloudy, muggy, and just all around not a nice day. Since we needed a good day for the Christ statue and Sugarloaf we decided to walk 2 blocks to the beach. Even though the sky was cloudy the beach was still wonderful. After strolling a mile or so of white sand beach we went to a "Brazillian Barbeque" called a rodizio. For about 30 reais or $20 these waiters come by with all different cuts of meat from different animals on huge skewers and shave off cuts for you. They had beef, turkey, lamb, sausages, etc. Not to mention a buffet that would rival any in the US. Plus all the freshest sushi you could muster, fresh fruit, fresh veggies. Ichibans and Bennihana eat your heart out. A person could become a millionaire with a resturant like this in the states.
So...this morning we got up, had breakfast, and went to see the man. We took another $$$$cab ride up to one of the seven wonders of the world Christo Rendentor or Christ the Redeemer. Now I am not a religous person but this sure is one hell of statue. The large, exploited Icon measuring 30m. or roughly 150ft is nothing short of a wonder. Literally. From Christ we travelled back down through a small part of Rio to the base of Sugarloaf mt. (For anyone who does´t know what sugarloaf mt. is try Wikipedia it´s free!) From there we took a cable car up to the first small giant rock, took some pictures, wandered around a bit and then hopped on the next cable car up to Sugarloaf itself. We got to the top and hiked around quite a bit. It like most everything else we have seen was Totally Excellent. There is a huge crop of bamboo covering the top with a trail carving through it looking out here and there at the amazing city and beaches below. We encountered some very strange tamarins at sugarloaf and some very evil looking capuchins at the christ statue. At least I think they were capuchins. They were bigger and had huge fangs and tufts of hair that resemble devil horns. I thought it was funny how demonic monkeys lived with a giant Jesus. Anyway that was today, here I am now, nothing left to say except good day. CIAO

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 21

So we just arrived in Manaus, Brazil after a cramped, sweaty, expensive 4 day boat ride from Tabatinga, Brazil/Leticia, Colombia. Rum and vodka were the main course, tempers flared but we survived.

Before the Trip....
We arrived in Leticia no problems we stayed the night and left for Porto Marino, Col. About 2 hours back upstream. It was a very clean very fun little village on the Amazon. The next day we woke and traveled up a tributary to a small lake filled with river dolphins. They are hard to see but pretty cool, pretty strange creatures. On the way back our boat engine(about 5hp.) broke down and we sat in the blazing sun for a while. We eventually made it back and caught another boat downstream. About an hour later we were dropped off on the shore near a sign that read Lake Marasha (Peru) with an arrow. We met our guide and headed off into the black night time jungle. There was about 6 to 8 inches of mud and an equal amount of sweat. We hiked about 2 hours to a very solitary resort where we were the only guests. On the way there I spotted extreme amounts of wildlife more so than even our guide. I found giant frogs the size of plates that would jump about 10ft in one bounce. They are really cool looking and really heavy. They were everywhere. Also everywhere to be found were large armored millipedes. Other creatures included: Tarantulas, spiders, beetles, birds that glow under light, pretty much everything but snakes which surprized me alot. When we arrived we were given juice and immediately got in a bot to find caimen. We saw alot but couldn´t get close. In the morning we woke to someone knocking at our cabin door. When I opened the door my feet were attacked by a large tucan! It scared the hell out of me. This bird would literally chase us around trying to attack our feet. There were also macaws, parrots, large black birds the size of turkeys, some kind of heron, another fishing bird, the diabolical tucan, and the most friendly capybara ever. His name was papito and he is cooler than any dog I have met. He is my best friend. Anyway we went on a 20min hike to see a massive 400 year old tree and when I returned I took off my boot to find a dead tarrantula inside. I took it out and asked the guide about it. He said it was very poisonous and even deadly. Mark this as Death Evasion #2. I am getting good at this now. Anyway I have a good picture of it so I can identify it when I get home. There were all kinds of crazy things out there. Truly a realy jungle experience. So as we packed up and left that night we made the hike back out to the Amazon. As soon as we started I fell right in the mud. It was a good laugh. Once we made it out of the jungle we were met by a man in a boat who had a pet ocelot which we were all allowed to hold and pet and get bit by. It was amazonian. I mean amazing. It was amazing. Never did I think I would get to hold one of the rarest cats in the world. Soon after we took a small boat back to Letica which is apparently illegal since it was night time but still fun. We spent the night and left the next day from Tabatinga which borders Leticia and so began our luxurious jail cell boat ride. Here I am now in Manaus trying to find a cheap flight. Until the next post, Adios.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 13

First thing I need to mention is while I was caught up in almost dying on top of a mountain I failed to mention that I went white water rafting on the rio Apurimac in Cuzco. It was amazing. Class 3 so not to bitchin but still the most fun I have had so far. No where near as cool as the Pacuare in Costa Rica but then again that was class 4+ to 5. Now to what has happened recently.... We sucessfully made it back to Lima then to Iquitos where we are now located. We leave tomorrow for Leticia, Colombia. So far we have seen the result of many many poaching endevors. There are Jaguar skulls, skins, and teeth virtually everywhere. Not to mention turtle shells and snake skins. It´s pretty sick and for some reason there doesn´t seem to be any enforcement upon national laws.
Yesterday we went up a river a few miles to a butterfly farm. It was alot of fun. Although we only saw about 10 butterflies they had a plethora of monkeys which were very playful and friendly. They also had a manatee, a caiman, a giant jungle rat, a friendly tapir, a couple of sloths, a giant ant eater, and a jaguar that is up for adoption. I got some good pics and videos which I will put up sometime. After that on our way back we stopped at this spot where there was a hut. When we entered the hut there was a group of ¨Natives¨ however true this is we are not sure. They were all topless and tried to get us to stay and watch them dance in which we would all have to pay and buy their trinkets. This wasn´t part of the plan so we left very shortly. After this we went to the ¨Reptile¨farm. This was a joke. They had about 4 anacondas which were obviously drugged. Aside from one other boa and 2 tortises this was it for reptiles. They had some sick looking sloths, a capybara, a couple baby gators, and some tied up monkeys. It was kinda sad but the monkeys were still quite playful.
Tomorrow we will be out of here on a fast boat for 12 hours to Colombia. Until then, Ciao!