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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

South Africa the beginning of an African Adventure!

After a long flight from Argentina to Johannesburg and then a quick hop to Cape Town I had made it to continent #2 of my trip and a new leg and chapter of the epic adventure that my life at the moment has turned into. It started as soon as I got off the plane in Cape Town.... Within the last 5 days of Argentina and including the flight to Cape Town I had been on buses and planes for a total of 56 hours!! I did not want to think for a few days when I got to Cape Town so I arranged for a pick up from the airport and when I saw the driver with my name on a placard and greeted him and told him that I was Jason he gave me a puzzled look and asked me if I spoke english? I was a little confused due to some jetlag and told him yes and asked him what I just said and quickly figured out that I had spoken to him in Spanish. Being in a country that spoke English was a new experience, after 4 months of learning and speaking Spanish, this was going to take some getting used to.

I was driven to the hostel on Long Street and met up with Sherry who I had met in Peru on a day trip through the sacred valley. She was also an American who was travelling around the world and I was looking forward to travelling with her in South Africa. I told her of my plans to do a road trip through South Africa and had planned on staying for 2 weeks and then head up to Zambia to white water raft the Mighty Zambizi and then onto Morocco. Well those plans altered greatly when we went into Detour Travel and spoke to Rob about our pending road trip. He gave us a great plan and helped us get set up with a rental car and also asked us how long we would be travelling in Africa..... We let him know how we were both travelling around the world and that we had a time frame on how we wanted to get to our next locations. He then let us know about some options for an overland trip from Cape Town, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya. We were hesitant on doing an organized tour for so long but the price was close to being in the budget and the places would have been really hard to get to without some help. So we slept on the idea and went back the next day and booked the trip!! It gave us time for a 2 week road trip through South Africa we just had to be back in Cape Town in time to take off on the trip of a life time while on the adventure of a life time!

Prior to leaving Cape Town we wanted to see the sites and number 1 on the list was Table Mountain! We took a gondola ride up to the top and hiked around up top for 4 hours it was beautiful and had an amazing view of Cape Town from above. And the sunset was pretty magical. Another spot in Cape Town to walk about and check out is the V&A Waterfront. It is tourist central for sure but worth it to check out. So things were getting put into place and the road trip was about to start.

Cape Town Pictures

Road Trip:

We picked up the car and it was my day to drive. We were equipped with our Car "Unbekkant" which was not named that as of yet but would get its name in a few short days. Now let me tell you not driving for a few months already had me worried but the thing that put me on edge was driving on the left side of the road on the right side of the car or as I like to say the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car. We took off from Cape Town and drove down the coast and were lucky enough to get some amazing weather to drive along Chapman Peak's road for an amazing view on our way down to the Cape of Good Hope.

Upon arriving at the Cape which is the Southwestern most point of Africa and was cool to see from the land side. We parked the car to explore and take some pictures. Then we realized we were being stalked by an entourage of Ostriches who as soon as Sherry started walking away from the car they started moving towards the car. For those of you who have never seen an Ostrich up close it can be a pretty intimidating beast! I immediately called to Sherry and told her to get back in the car. Just as we were closing the doors the Chief Ostrich was at the hood staring at us through the window. It was my first experience with an Ostrich Death Stare and hopefully the last. We started the car and took off out of there to check out the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. It was a great view and something I had wanted to see for a long time. Once we took some pictures we were back on the open road.

We stuck to the southern coastal road which is known for seeing Whales at that time of year, unfortunately we did not have such luck to see whales in Africa yet... You know you are on a road trip in Africa when there are signs warning you about Baboons, Warthog's (Pumba's), Elephants and Rhino Crossings. The Baboons park themselves on the road and just set up shop and start getting cleaned right then and there, like a boss!! We kept to the Southern Coast and stopped a few more times that day before stopping for the night in Grabouw and seeing a gorgeous sunset to Kick off our road trip.

The next morning we took off and it was Sherry's turn to drive and I was scared.... She is a crazy driver but don't tell her I told you that.

Over the next 2 weeks we stopped in many amazing places. We did Shark Cage diving with great white's in Mossell Bay which was intense. I almost couldn't return my wetsuit due to the fact that a great white got stuck on the cage in front of me while I was in it!!! Another Bucket list item checked off on this trip and it was only the beginning.

Our next stop on the trip was Storms River Villiage in TsitsiKamma where you can stay at Dijembe with Brad and Helana and then do the tallest bridge Bungee Jump in the world. Face Adrenaline's 216 Meter Bloukrans Bridge. Now Bungee Jumping had never been on my list of things I wanted to do, skydiving for sure but never bungee I couldn't figure out why people did it. When Sherry told me that she was doing it and I said that I wasn't sure she gave me a look. That was pretty much all it took. If you're going to do only one bungee jump in your life it might as well be the biggest. Go Big or Go Home!

We decided we would go the next morning and got signed up. The next morning I was pretty scared but as Face Adrenaline's Motto was to Face Fear, I knew someone had to do this today and it might as well be us. Getting strapped into our harnesses they told us the bungee was no big deal but the walk to the middle of the bridge was the hardest part. That was easy these guys didn't know who they were messing with. Now the one thing you want for sure before you bungee jump is to keep your adrenaline up. The guys at Bloukrans were Fantastic and were playing some awesome music and dancing around and playing drums to keep you pumped up.

Unfortunately for me, Sherry was going first and I had to watch her jump. If you can avoid doing this if you are going with friends I highly recommend it. When I saw her fall over the edge and then swing under the bridge I felt my heart stop. It was my turn and I was ready or at least that is what I kept attempting to tell myself. I got strapped in and they brought me to the edge. I was doing good until I looked over the edge. I watched the video after and I put my hands over my face and just started shaking my head. Before they let me get too far in my head they started yelling out the countdown. As they yelled bungee I jumped and I was not scared until I reached the point where I knew that I could not lean back and stand back up on the platform. That is when the beast like roar came out and shook the valley. What a rush racing down to the valley floor with it rushing up to meet you until at the last minute you get yanked back up for another drop. It was epic!!!! I have never felt adrenaline like that it was amazing. Sherry and I were so pumped up from that experience. We drove out of there, pumping the jams that were playing while we jumped, back to Storms River and we were ready for anything!

 We got back to Dijembe where we put our Certificates up on the ceiling. We traded some music with Helena since they had some awesome music playing at the bar and we had just got the music from the Bungee it was an awesome trade. What an awesome day!! We had big plans for the next day and took off early. We put on the music that Helena had given us but couldn't figure out why every song was labeled Unbekkant??? It took us a short time but figured out that Unbekkant was the German word for Unknown and shortly after became the name for our car...

We made it as far as Jeffrey's Bay and we were beat. We stayed the night at Island Vibe and had a good time throwing back a few beers with some fellow backpackers. We caught the sunrise in JBay before taking off and we knew it was going to be another good day.

We were headed to Cintsa West to the famous Buccaneer's. Upon arrival they informed us of a free booze cruise. It was Friday and we were ready but first needed some food. I had the best Toastie of my life there and will never forget the Momma's that worked there. Now the booze cruise can only be described as a red neck booze cruise and that I almost feel bad about calling it because it would insult red necks. We embarked with free boxed white wine, which could also probably be used as substitute fuel if you ran out while on the lake. It was still a great time.

The next day took off to Coffee Bay where we had heard nothing but amazing things about the Coffee Shack and were looking forward to a couple of awesome days. As amazing as the Coffee Shack was we were continuously warned about the road to get there. It was Sherry's turn to drive so I was the navigator and look out. Now we took the main highway to the turn off and knew we had 80 km to go and we were crusiing down the road and were questioning each other about why people had warned us about the road and about a minute later we found out. We hit 4 knee high speed bumps that were completely unmarked and we hopped back and forth from our front set of tires to the back set until we got over the last one and stopped to check for damage. Now we knew why we had been warned.

After we realized we were okay to keep going we slowed down and were much more watchful of our surroundings. Watching for people and livestock crossing as well as cars passing and the potholes the size of semi trucks. We finally made it to the Coffee Shack and we were very happy to be out of the car.

They had a policy of a free drink upon arrival and it was much appreciated. That night was a true South African Braai which was followed by a crazy party which was an amazing time. The world famous Babalaza (Hangover) Bar with its Buffalo Rules were ruthless. What great people and a great time. Beware the Black Label Beer it packs a strong punch. The next morning took my second ever surfing lesson and it was awesome we even had some local dolphins surfing the waves with us.

As this was coming up on the end of our road trip we had to be getting back to Cape Town in order to go on our Overland trip. The next day we had a long drive to Port Elizabeth where we sacked out for the night.

The next morning took off to Stellenbosch where Sherry and I decided we should do some wine tasting to celebrate a successful road trip. We had a great night at Brampton and don't know if I have the right to call it a tasting when the samples were practically a pint a piece. After doing a full tasting we felt pretty invincible and finished our road trip off with a nice dinner and a good night's sleep before heading back to Cape Town in the morning.

I was happy that Sherry had turned into such an amazing travel partner and friend and was looking forward to continuing onto our next adventure of a 6 week camping trip. I will talk more about that in the next entry!!

South Africa Road Trip Pictures
I apologize that I am way behind on my entries and am trying to catch up to where I am currently at within the next couple of weeks. My travels are going amazing and can't wait to hear how everyone is doing back home and abroad. Please comment and let me know what you think and also keep in touch. Safe Travels Everyone!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mendoza, Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, Argentina (and also Brazil but shhhh I was an illegal)


After the 13 hour bus through the Andes we finally arrive around 3am into Mendoza and got a taxi to the hostel. Now to all the hostel owners that I am friends with I truly appreciate it when I get to a hostel and the middle of the night and the bed is made so thanks for that. The only place on this trip so far where that hasn’t been the case is Argentina and that was only in some places. Still no big deal, but trying to make a bed at 3:30AM in the dark with 5 other people trying to sleep is not fun! That still was not the problem of the evening. The problem was quite simple actually when you have bunk beds like most hostels do in South America if there is not a step at the edge of the bed please provide a ladder to get up to the top bunk. Case in point would be in Mendoza when I almost killed Eddie. Since there was no ladder I grabbed onto the side of the mattress and tried to pull myself up which actually worked out the exact opposite because I pulled the mattress off the bunk and almost fell over. I was laughing hysterically at this point and had to leave my room to recover and then finally made it up there to pass out for a few hours. Nice way to introduce myself to the guy I was going to end up traveling with for the next 2 weeks. That morning got up not wanting to waste the day and took off so we could experience what Mendoza is famous for which is it’s wine. If you go to Mendoza you have to hit up Mr. Hugo’s and rent a bicycle for your wine tasting session. Yes, you read that right wine tasting and bike riding. I don’t know who came up with this combination but it always ends hilariously. We started out with 3 of us Eddie the Kiwi Firefighter/ topless waiter/ Spartacus extra and Sander the flying Dutchman but could it be our wolf pack was at 3 and grew into a bike gang of 9 adding 6 Englishmen and women. It was quite the gang as we ended up drinking a few bottles of wine at the Trapiche Winery, which is the largest winery in Argentina and has some delicious Malbec wines. After that adventure decided the next day to go white water rafting in the Andes mountains. While it wasn’t the roughest rapids I’ve ever been down, class 3, the scenery more than made up for it! It was absolutely incredible and had an amazing time and met some great people. The next day took off on the night bus to Argentina, the buses in Argentina are quite something if you get the Full Cama or Executive Cama. You get fed dinner as well as a small bottle of wine to help you sleep through the cold night and a seat that retracts all the way down as if you were in bed. Since Eddie and I were headed to BA (Buenos Aires) for the weekend we knew we were in for a big party so we decided to get ready by watching the movie Project X, it was a good idea and got us ready for a few epic nights. If you are going to BA and want to stay at a party Hostel I would recommend Milhouse as it was clean and if you want to party they know how to do it. While in BA I was also able to attend Argentina vs. Ecuador World Cup Qualifier soccer match as well as visit Recoleta to see the amazing cemetery and go visit Bocas to see the Boca Juniors stadium and see the amazing colors and neighborhoods and the Tango Dancers in the street. Let’s get down to what is really important about Argentina and what it is known for which is it’s beef. I had without a doubt the best steak of my life at a restaurant in Palermo called La Cabrera and if you go between 7 and 8 it is their happy hour and you get 40% off your meal. This was my last meal both times I was in Buenos Aires the first time leaving to head up to Iguazu Falls and the night before I left for South Africa. The bus up to Iguazu was cold and since we got semi-cama we did not get blankets so that sucked. As soon as we got into town we booked into our hostel and headed out to check out the Argentina side of the falls. It was amazing to see how powerful the Pachamama (Mother Nature) is. The falls were incredible and we were told that we could skip the Brazilian side as the Argentina side was better. I am so glad we didn’t skip it because it was absolutely amazing! I liked the Brazilian side much better the endless rainbows and how you could go out into the middle of the falls to experience the sheer power of them was amazing. After Iguazu headed back down to Buenos Aires for a final night of partying in South America so headed back to Milhouse and ran into about 5 people that I had met in Peru a few months before. It was an epic night and a great send off to South America. The next evening headed to the airport for the next leg and next continent of my journey as I was headed to Cape Town, South Africa....


Mendoza, Argentina Pictures
Buenos Aires, Pictures
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Iguazu Falls, Brasil

San Pedro de Atacama, La Serena, Valparaiso and Santiago, Chile

After completing the Salt Flats with amazing people for the previous 3 days it was time to move on, so our group split in half and Alex, Julia and I crossed the border into San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and had a speedy ride down from 5000 meters to 2000 ears popping the whole way. Once we got past customs we were introduced to Fabian who brought us to a hostel with wifi internet and hot showers, for those of you who know me or have met me travelling it's the little things that make me happy and after not showering for 3 days tthrough the freezing cold salt flats I was ecstatic. A hot shower and the ability to change into shorts and walk around in the desert was a huge change of pace and quite amazing at that. The next day we ended up renting bicycles and riding out to Valle de Luna for a nice casual 5k bike ride which turned into about 15k (jajajajaja Alex). Valle de Luna for those of you who don't know means Valley of the Moon and it was like being on the moon in the massive craters and vast landscape of mountains far off in the distance. Once we got out to the checkpoint we went spelunking in the salt caves. Now I don't know if I can consider myself a true spelunker as ìt was not a deep underground cavern but it was good enough for me to consider myself a novice. After the ride back to town we went and got ready for our night bus to La Serena about 12 hours south of San Pedro. If you are taking buses in Chile I recommend Turbus or Pullman as some of the buses have powerpoints (electrical outlets) and most have wine available. We made it into La Serena and went on a tour to the observatory and it was pretty amazing to see the southern sky and learned how to identify the southern cross and a few of the other constellations I had not been able to identify before but the cool thing was being able to see the Rings of Saturn which were very clear that night. After that made it back to the hostel to get ready for a tour through Valle de Elqui the next day which is famous for its pisco distillery's and vineyards and they have every right to be famous for them because it was delicious. Ended up buying a couple of bottles which I ended up enjoying in Valparaiso a few days later. The valley was very beautiful and the sunset over the mountain on the way back was incredible. It also signaled my time in La Serena was at an end and I was going on a bus the next morning to Valparaiso which is a port town on the chilean coast about an hour outside of Santiago. It is known for its street art and unfortunately when I got lost and found the art I did not have my camera with me to capture it so I guess you will have to discover it yourselves. Valparaiso was a nice chill place with a great party scene and the hostel I stayed at was always a party we cooked dinner together, drank together and went to a random make shift concert down the street well the last 30 seconds of it. The highlight of my time in Valparaiso was the day I was leaving it was a national holiday and the president of Chile made an announcement where people expected him to lower education costs, I think this was the reason at least for what happened next, well needless to say that is not what happened and the people took to the streets. Now I've seen riots up close and personal in the states before but damn the Chileans know how to riot. The police had them pushed back and then everything flipped there was tear gas everywhere and it was a war in the streets and the police were easily outnumbered 3 to 1. Well I had to walk to my bus from the opposite side of the riot through the middle directly to the heart where the bus station was which was across from congress. Before I left the hostel  the owner looked at me, put a hand on my shoulder and said "Buena Suerte (Good luck)" thanks Gonzalo, so off I went and was stopped by police in riot gear several times along the way asking me where I was going and what was in my massive backpack. All I had to do was quote my good friend Volle Grimminger I simply told the police in Spanish "Estás Bien, Estoy una tourista! (It's ok, I'm a tourist!)". So I safely got onto my bus and took a ride to Santiago and got on there metro system which was equipped with free wifi and very efficient. I made it to Aji hostel where met a ton of great people and had a great time in Santiago. Now at this point in my trip I had not cut my hair and the beard had not been groomed recently so I was looking like a wild man of sorts. Well with that being said I decided to wear a scarf that night (apparently my new hobby is collecting scarves, don't worry I don't get it either). The guy that works at the hostel came up to me in front of the whole group I was drinking with and told me I reminded him of an actor. I was not on my A-game as I had been drinking some delicious Chilean wine so my curiosity got the best of me and I asked him who, he quickly replied Alan from the hangover and I was not too thrilled with this until my good friend from London Town, Nikin, told me to embrace it! Which I did 150% like I do most things and the quotes kept coming the whole night and had the Alan walk down to a T. It was an epic night that will not be forgotten. Santiago had so much to offer between the food and restaurants to their very tumultuous history with military coup and revolutions and bankruptcies to nobel prize winners and coffee with legs. Well after a week in Santiago it was time to move onto Argentina so I took off with Sander (a dutchman who enjoyed wearing speedos and crocs) and we hopped on bus to Mendoza in Argentina the first day after the border reopened due to snow in the Andes. Our supposed 6 hour bus ride was delayed with our 7 hour border crossing in the Andes. Tip for all of South America most buses are great and for the most part mine were on time but you need to go into a bus ride with the expectation that your trip will be twice as long as they tell you so if you do arrive on time or only a few hours late you will be happy! More to follow in the next update about Argentina. Cheers and Safe Travels everyone!


San Pedro de Atacama, Chile Pictures
Valparaiso, Chile Pictures
Santiago, Chile Pictures

La Paz & Sal de Uyuni, Bolivia

Made it into La Paz on my Birthday after the 7 hour bus ride with a short ferry ride to get the bus across Lake Titicaca which was a fun site to watch. Made it to the hostel where I met up with the Welsh boys Andrew and Chris for what was going to be an evening to remember! Now for my birthday I wanted to get some good American food in La Paz so I did what any person in my situation would in this day and age, I googled it. Well as soon as the results came up it listed there was a Hard Rock Cafe in La Paz and I was keen for it. So I convinced the Welsh boys to come with me and we flagged down about 4 cabs before we got into one that knew where this mysterious Hard Rock Cafe was. Well once we got to the corner of where it was we got out of the cab and realized that this was not an ordinary Hard Rock Cafe it was a fake! Unfortunately I was unable to experience this fake Hard Rock as it was cold so we headed down to Plaza San Francisco and headed out looking for a place to eat. We stumbled onto a restaurant called La Casona and it was once of the best meals I have had on this trip. From there hit up the two party hostels of La Paz which are the Wild Rover and Loki. Met up with some folks at the Wild Rover and wrangled a few of them to join us as we switched and headed over to Loki. Once at Loki the bartender found out it was my birthday (as well as 2 other people there and one of which the same year) so he decided to drop a tequila shot into my rum and coke and told me I had to chug it. I told him that if I did that I would puke well we all know what happened then... I did what any responsible 28 year old seasoned pro would do..... I gave into peer pressure and took as much of that drink to the face as I could. Until I threw up at the bar. My bad... Now at this point I am very embarrassed and against my better judgement I opted to stay out since I was convinced that it is my birthday and that no one back home would ever find out about this event as well as no one there would ever see me again so who cares right. I stayed out and had a great time after Loki we all headed out to a Bolivian dance club for a few hours and in the wee hours of the morning my translation skills were needed at the Infamous Route 36 cocaine bar. Now let me clarify that I do not like Cocaine or do I use the stuff but I was up for the experience of visiting a Coke den, you know just to chalk it up as a learning experience. So off we went to this club that was more like a vault than anything else and played loud techno music. The people at the club were making fun of the group I was with and I have to admit it was pretty funny what they were saying in Spanish. After being there for too long and watching the festivities I knew it was time to get out of there. So I threw in the towel and called it a night and headed home to sleep off a hell of a 28th birthday. The next day decided I needed to experience some of the tourist attractions of La Paz which in my case was walking with the doctors who were protesting for better wages as well as hit up the witches market which had spices and potions and herbs for all sorts of things you can’t even imagine. The big surprise that I was not expecting was the llama fetuses which were apparently used in ceremonies when building a new house for good luck they were buried underneath the foundation a very interesting tradition to say the least. After La Paz headed down to Uyuni to take a tour through Sal de Uyuni which are the largest salt flats in the world. I went on a 3 day tour with Alex, Julia, Mena, Geri and Mandy and it was great with our driver Herman it was pretty cool. I’m still pissed the driver didn’t have toys. The bus down to Uyuni was freezing and Uyuni was freezing as well. The trip started and we went straight to the train graveyard and onwards to the Salt Flats. Now it would have been incredible if the salt flats were wet but it was still amazing. So much fun taking the pictures we did, a lot of fun trick photography. From the salt flats we headed out to a salt hotel for the night and then onwards to different color lagoons which ended up being Flamingo central. We saw mountains of different colors and rocks that looked like trees. It felt like we were on another planet at times. I had no idea that Bolivia had this to offer let alone that there were places on this Earth that looked like this. Our group split in half and Alex, Julia and I went onwards to Chile and Mena, Geri and Mandy went back to Uyuni. It was onto the next Country and the next part of the adventure.

Arequipa and Puno, Peru

Got into Arequipa with Prav, Kat and Tricky Ricky and made it to our hostel Home Sweet Home. We went exploring around Arequipa and made it to the Plaza de Armas  of course... for those of you who haven't been to Peru the Plaza de Armas is the main square and there is one in every city you will go to. We tried to figure out what our next move was everyone had decided that they were going to hike the colca canyon but I decided to move on to Puno which is the Peru side of Lake Titicaca which is the highest lake in the world. It is also very massive. I took a tour to the Islas Flotantes which are literally floating islands that people live on that you can pull up anchor and float to another spot if you don't like your neighbor. A whole new meaning to pulling up stakes. From there headed over to Taquile which is an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca with a long walk uphill at 3700 meters it makes it quite a difficult walk. Made it up and over and then back to Puno to get ready to take a bus the next morning on my birthday to La Paz, Bolivia and the next leg of my trip.

Arequipa, Peru Pictures
Puno and Lake Titicaca, Peru

Huacachina, Peru

After the 30 hour bus ride from Guayaquil to Lima the next day hopped onto a 6 hour bus down to Ica and then took a taxi to Huacachina which is an Oasis in the middle of the desert in Central Peru. Never in my life have I been surrounded by massive sand dunes in the middle of the desert. This town is known for its sandboarding, dune buggy riding and crazy parties. After meeting some interesting characters on the bus ride I was happy to be able to change groups of people I was hanging out with. A special shoutout to Prav, Kat and Tricky Ricky!!! Went Sandboarding and Dune Buggy riding the next day which was epic!! Don't mind the pictures of the naked guy Ollie is just crazy... Sandboarding is the same as snowboarding in case anyone was wondering just a lot slower and more hiking. A tip for dune buggy riding don't ride in the back if you are taller than 5'5" because you will hit your head all the time. The party that night turned into a crazy dance circle around random objects people kept throwing into the middle of the circle, the bar being set on fire several times and people disappearing for several hours at a time and showing back up randomly as you were trying to leave and begging you to stay. Finally left before sunrise so we could attempt to hike up the dune to watch the sunrise.... made it up a little less than halfway and called it good. Left that night to head onto Arequipa with the crew. Huacachina was good times!!

Huacachina, Peru Pictures

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guayaquil and Montanita Ecuador

Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador and has some interesting activities. The river walk is pretty nice and the mall del sol has a hooters that I did eat at. Montanita is a crazy beach party town about 4 hours up the coast from Guayaquil and parties go from 7 at night till 8 in the morning.  The beaches are amazing and the surf is great. I can't say more than that but if you want to feel 21 again go and take a trip down there it's a great time. Not much more I can say on that subject other than my pictures won't do it justice and you need to experience it for yourself. I brought Aleen's Birthday here and it was  a hell of a party! After Montanita I took off back to Guayaquil to catch a 30 hour bus to Lima.... Very intersting to say the least.

Guayaquil and Montanita Pictures

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Galapagos Island (Tropical Paradise)

Flying out to an island in the middle of the ocean has kind of eerie feel to it. It was great knowing I was headed to a dream land full of boobies. It was even better when land was spotted and descending into this tropical paradise. When you fly into the Galapagos you have 2 options. You can fly into Baltra or San Cristobal. I flew into Baltra and took the connecting bus to the ferry to the island of Santa Cruz. From there you take another bus for about 45 minutes to Puerto Ayora. Immediately after getting off the bus I took off looking for a travel agent to set up a cruise. Found one and haggled on the price like is customary to do in all of South America. Got it down to an acceptable price and booked it. Later that same night I booked into Darwin Hostel and got myself situated because I was leaving the next day for the Island of Isabella for 2 nights there. Met up with my buddy Nick Gauen who I had met in Cali, Colombia a few days before. I tried to convince him to come on this tour with me and was unsuccessful in my attempts. His loss, yeah buddy just called you out! I was having doubts about the tour because I had booked a 4 day cruise starting in Santa Cruz going to Floreana, Espanola and San Cristobal. I came to find out the first day of the cruise does not start until 2pm and on the last day ends around 10am. I was disappointed to find this out but convinced myself to have a great time anyways because it was going to be epic, which it certainly was. The next day took off to Isabella on a speed boat with a group of 16 and got to the island and it was pissing down on us. I was soaked and it was amazing! Regardless it was still paradise. It cleared up around an hour later and we were taken to a lagoon  to check out some flamingos and then to the beach to watch the sunset. What an amazing day! That night met for dinner with my new friends who came on the rest of the tour with me: Rona, Noa, Shir & Yarden. The next day we got into our limo which was a truck with a row of benches instead of a bed and headed up to the base of the volcano which we were going to hike up. We hiked up the volcano to the rim of the massive crater which was 10 kilometers wide at it's widest point. Unfortunately it was not clear when we got up to the top but you could see how massive it was. Headed down the volcano and then got ready to go snorkeling. We headed out towards some small islands where I was able to see tropical penguins, blue footed boobies, sea lions, and so many more animals. The snorkeling was amazing but the walk around Isla Tinturos legen......wait for it......... dary!!!!!!!!! The Marine iguanas look like Godzilla. The next morning took one of the roughest boat rides back to Santa Cruz. At first it was pretty funny watching Yarden and Noa get bounced all over the boat  and then it was just the most ridiculous 2 hour boat ride of my life. Made it back to Santa Cruz and got set up for the next 2 days of relaxing and hanging out with lonesome George and hangin out on the beach. Met up with the group of people that we were going on the cruise with and headed up into the highlands to see some giant land tortoises and then onto the Aida Maria which was the name of the boat that I would spend the next 3 nights on. We took off that night to head onto the Island of Floreana where we would arrive the next morning. This was the first time I had slept on a boat overnight since the Navy and had some crazy Submarine flashback dreams. We got into Floreana and hiked up to the lookout point which was an amazing view of the whole island. We then dove down into a lava tube for a quick swim in the ice cold water which was amazing. Then headed to Post Office Bay which is a barrel that has been replaced many times since it was first put up by whalers in the late 18th century. It was used as a post office for mariners you would put in your post and deliver what was in the barrel if you were going to where it was addressed. I put in a few post cards for back home and hopefully the ones that I sent back to the states through my sister made it to their correct places. After that went snorkeling off the beach which was incredible then back to the boat and onto the island of Isabella the next day for even more animals and snorkeling. After seeing albatrosses, blue footed boobies, nasca boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions, frigate birds, sharks, and a  ton of different fish it didn't prepare me for how close you could get to these animals. Absolutely amazing!! After the cruise ended on the island of San Cristobal (where the sea lions had completely taken over the island) spent a few more days there before flying back to mainland Ecuador. What an amazing experience and met some amazing people. Check out these pictures and hopefully you can make it there some day....

Galapagos - Santa Cruz
Isabella - Galapagos
Cruise on the Aida Maria
San Cristobal, Galapagos

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quito, Ecuador

So the bus ride to Quito was interesting as well as the border crossing. Walking across the bridge from Ipiales, Colombia to Tulcan, Ecuador was fairly easy but if it's early in the morning I highly recommend wearing something other than shorts and flip flops because it was below freezing. People were definitely pointing and laughing and I don't blame them one bit. Once I got my entrance stamp I paid 50 cents, Ecuadors currency is the American Dollar with the exception of their change, once I got to the bus station got a bus ticket for the supposed 5 hour bus ride to Quito for $4.50! The bus wasn't bad, by that I mean its not the worst I've taken on this trip but getting stopped 7 times for the police to check all of our ids and everytime they saw my passport they said oooo Americano? I was the only gringo on the entire bus. Another first for me on this trip. Finally got to Quito and thats when things got dicey. After the 17 hour bus ride turned into 26 I was pretty beat and headed for the taxi stand where there were no yellow cabs which against my better judgement I got into a grey beat up kia with a roof magent saying taxi. Got in and the cab tried to take off with my bags and not me but I was halfway in and asked him in spanish what the hell was that and he said his foot slipped. I gave him the address of the Secret Garden hostel which he told me he knew where it was. He then proceeded to drive me to the middle of nowhere as I was checking on the map I had where we were going and asked him where we were and he said we were really close. Shortly there after he stopped the car in an industrial area and proceeded to pull a knife on me and told me to get out and leave my bags after demanding for my wallet. What he didn't know was that I just got off of a 26 hour trip and    wasn't in the mood to take shit from anybody. So I grabbed my nalgene water bottle and him i the face and he was kind of shocked at least I think he was because I grabbed my bags  and tucked and rolled out of the cab and ran around the corner. I ran into an Ecuadorian couple who asked me if I was ok and explained to them what happened and they then helped me get to the bus station and they happened to be going to the same bus stop so they rode with me and helped me with directions. I then went to the Secret Garden which was a nice hostel with an amazing view of Quito. I stayed in Quito for 2 nights, I did not feel very safe in Quito but met some cool people. There was a great restaurant across the street from the hostel but I dont remember the name but everyone at the hostel will know it. I then took off to the Galapagos which was amazing and too long to put in this post. I hope everyone is getting inspired to travel from these and there are more updates coming and once I get faster internet there will be pictures as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Salento & Cali Colombia

Medellin was awesome but I  had to leave otherwise I might not have ever left. I took off to a town called Salento in the Coffee Region of Colombia up in the mountains. It was about a 4 hour bus ride from Medellin from Terminal Sur. Got dropped off on the side of the highway  and then ran accross to where we were told the bus would pick us up. After waiting a few minutes we started to hike up the road.... In retrospect not a smart idea. As it was a 2 lane road with a ton of traffic as everyone was coming up here for the end of semana santa. I could feel the cars driving past as we hiked down the mountain in the direction we hoped was the right way. After about 30 minutes and 5 buses passing us which were full we were able to flag down a bus that had room for us. Very happy we did that because once we got to the bottom of the hill we started heading up and got stuck in traffic and if we were walking it would have taken a  lot longer than the hour and half we were told and more like 4-5 hours. Got into town which was nice and bunked up at the plantation house which is owned by Tim an Englishman and his Colombian wife. It was a nice place and amazing scenery. Was able to go up to the mirador which overlooked the valley and hung out in the plaza for a quite weekend in the mountains. Did a tour of the coffee farm that Tim and his wife own and learned how the process from the planting to the harvesting and selling until it gets into the cups at starbucks. Also Colombia exports all of their coffee so there isn't very good coffee left in the country. I now know why coffee is so expensive and the farmers are not the ons who are making the money. I took off from a stormy weekend in Salento and headed down to Cali planning to take a refresher spanish class and take some salsa lessons. I got to the Pelican Larry Hostel which was nice where I quickly made friends with some awesome people. I was told by the staff that I didn't need Spanish lessons that my Spanish was fine. I wasn't there on days when they offered salsa lessons eithere so I opted to do the next best thing which was to go eat and drink with some locals. I went out with my new friends for dinner and drinks, which then led us to buy a bottle of Aguardiente  and play drinking games before a night out of salsa and merengue dancing. We eneded up going out in Menga on a Monday night which ended up being a great time and stayed out till about 4 AM then came back and passed out for the morning. Then slept showered and repeated the next night. I then realized if I stayed in Cali this would keep going. So I packed my stuff and headed out that next day for a 17 hour bus ride to Quito. This bus ride turned into quite the adventure after getting stuck in Pasto because I was the only person left on the bus  going to Ipiales so they first told me the border was closed. I called bullshit and then they said it wasn't safe for me to go which I told them too bad. It was already 1 in the morning and I knew Pasto wasn't safe at night either. They then told me it wasn't cost effective for them to drive only one person to the border so I would have to catch the first bus in the morning and they gave me back 5000 Pesos enough for the bus in the morning and dropped me off at a hotel near the bus terminal. I crashed for an hour and a half and then got up and took off for the bus station and made it to the border. Then it gets interesting and that you will read about in my next update about Quito...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin what a great place to experience so much. First and foremost everyone I've talked to since I've been in Colombia they have all been asking if it is safe in Colombia? Answer: Yes... but if you want to find trouble, like anywhere in the world, you will find it! So that is why I don't go searching for trouble. I look for good people and good times and I find them. Here are some things to do in Medellin if you decide to travel there, which you should. First off I stayed in Zona Rosa in Poblado which is where there are a ton of hostels, hotels and restaurants. A special shout out to Alejandro at Saman Hostel on Calle 10 y Carrero 36. One of the best hostels I stayed in during my whole trip. I took a trip up the Metro Cable to the favella and to the library there and then further up to the National Park up top which was very beautiful and had a great market with amazing food for next to nothing. I also went to Botero Square in El Centro at Parque Berrio which was really cool and had some cool sculptures. I alllso recommend hitting up Salsa Dancing on Tuesday or Wednesday nights in El Centro circa de Parque Periodista. The place was packed but it was a great time inside the bar and there was a party out on the street as well. If you do stay in Zona Rosa hit up the Medellin Beer Factory for some great Colombian Beer and some great Chicken Wings. From Medellin I took off for Salento that will be in the next update.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cuzco, Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu, Peru

Cuzco is high up there at 3,700 Meters which for you American's is above 12,000 feet. I definitely didn't acclamate well. I got altitude sickness the first 2 days and couldn't get out of bed. If you haven't had altitude sickness before count yourself very lucky because I  would not wish that upon anyone. After 2 days was able to get around town and left on a tour of the Sacred Valley which was incredible  and went to see some of the Incan Ruins which are massive and amazing to think they built these terraces and fortresses into the sides of these mountains  completely by hand. Some of the rocks we saw were incredibly huge which you will see from my pictures.  It is simply amazing. It is one of the most beautiful places I've been to in the world and will definitely go back one day. The next day did a city tour of Cuzco which included the Cathedral in the Plaza De Armas which had their own rendition of the Last Supper which had Cuy (Guinea Pig) as the main dish. Then took off to some ruins outside of the city which was very cool to see how they all depicted some animal that meant something in the Inka culture. Also got to see a sacrificial altar where they used to sacrifice llamas to the gods. Now onto Machu Pichu left on a 2 hour bus to a 2 hour train which was a beautiful ride through the sacred valley from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes which is the town at the base of Machu Pichu. From Aguas Calientes it is a 20 minute bus ride up the mountain. You then walk up a lot of steps and it will be one of the most amazing views you have ever seen. It is a very powerful place full of a ton of history and is a very Sacred Place as well. The pictures I took won't do it justice and I think everyone should go there to see how truly amazing it is. I will go back one day and actually hike the Inka Trail since I opted not to do that this time. Who will join me on that adventure?

Machu Pichu Pictures

Cuzco & Sacred Valley Pictures

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru was a really interesting place. I stayed in the Miraflores district (the tourist district) at a few different spots. Puriwasi Hostel and Condor House prior to heading to Cuzco. If you are ever in Lima there are a few things I would definitely recommend that you do. Head to downtown before sunset and see the fountain show. It is called Circuito Magico and it is the most amazing fountain show I have ever seen. I know you're thinking it's just water coming out of the ground .... and all my submarine brothers are probably thinking that we've all seen or been surrounded by enough water what makes this so special? It was really amazing though. I've been trying to upload a video unsuccessfully due to bad wifi connections but will get it uploaded soon. There are a total of 18 different fountains. Some  you can walk through like a tunnel and some trap you like a prison. Others you can control with remotes and the show they put on at night is simply amazing. The other thing you should check out is the beaches. In the Miraflores district there is a rock beach. I don't mean a pebble beach like you can see in other parts of the world, but big smooth rocks the size of baseballs in bigger like ones you would see line a path in a garden or the woods possibly. It makes the most amazing sound when the water gets sucked back into the next oncoming wave. Also there is some pretty good surf throughout all of Peru. After Lima headed to Cuzco and Machu Pichu. I will post something separate for that. Check out these pictures from Lima: Lima, Peru Pictures

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Panama City

What is there to say about Panama City? It has been extremely modernized and has a huge international population especially those American's who were doing less than legal activities in the states where they felt more comfortable operating down there. I have to admit it was nice hanging out with some American's watching March Madness in a sports book. I was able to go do Casco Viejo, The Panama Canal and Al Cerro Ancon which were all very amazing things.  I got some great pictures which I'm trying to upload and will post a link later today. All in all had a great time in Panama City would have liked to make it outside the city more but am happy with what I saw. Thanks to Miguel my tour guide. If you end up in Panama City make sure to go to Casco Viejo maybe by the time you get there it won't be under as much reconstruction. Headed to Lima Peru on the 19th and will post something separate for that. If you like reading this please leave a comment public or private just curious who all is reading this.... Thanks to those who are writing I love hearing from you all. Buen Viaje Todo el mundo! (Safe Travels Everyone!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tamarindo!

Tamarindo was an amazing few days. I'm looking forward to my friends from their posting some pics to facebook because I don't think I remembered to take a single picture there, I was way too relaxed and having too much fun. Staying at Pura Vida Hostel was such a great time and I hope to meet up with my friends from there in the future. Maybe a reunion there in 2 years or so..... we shall see. I'm packed and about to head to the airport headed to Panama City for the weekend and then onto Lima, Peru. I'll update again in a few days.  Buen Viaje todo el mundo!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bocas Del Toro & now Tamarindo AKA Tamagringo

So went to Bocas Del Toro in Panama it was pretty cool and hit up Starfish beach with was called La Playa De las Estrellas and then headed towards La Isla de los pajaros, the island of the birds. Headed out the day before yesterday to San Jose and in San Jose went out with the bartender from my hostel with many people from Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Texas,   and we were out till about 430 in the morning it was amazing and the DJ's killed it at Club Vertigo with their trance music warming up the Imperial Festival. Moved on to Tamarindo AKA Tamagringo. I got here last night and then went out with my hostel mates last night and had a blast and of course they couldn't get me off the dance floor. I got home and then headed out for a 5 hour cruise where they let me drive the boat for an hour back. I was out with the Jersey shore girls having a blast. I am back at the hostel getting some dinner and getting ready for tonight. If you come to Tamarindo I highly recommend staying at the Pura Vida Hostel. My new goal in life is to become a Costa Rican Radio Announcer.... for now....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Punta Uva, Porto Viejo & Manzanillo

What an amazing plush jungle here on the caribbean coast of Costa Rica. I'm so glad I took the recommendations of fellow travelers to hit up this tropical paradise. I've been staying at the Walaba Hostel which is absolutely incredible. It is a hidden gem in Punta Uva. It's a big house/ bungalow. I hope you don't mind sleeping outside because you may have a bed but there are no walls in this hostel. It's been pouring rain over the past few nights which makes amazing sounds on the steel roof. The staff is great and yesterday rented a bike and rode down to a few beaches one in Manzanillo and one in Punta Uva. I'm taking off today for Bocas Del Toro in Panama and will be there for a little while I think?

Monday, March 5, 2012

I made the Paper! I'm Famous!

Check out this link to a story in the Sacramento Bee. You all can afford to do a trip like this if you want. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/26/4286644/dump-the-job-and-travel-for-mature.html

Arenal, La Fortuna

La Fortuna what a cool town. We were there last Thursday and Friday and had a great time. On Thursday just walked around and chilled around the town and had some beers. Met some folks at the Hostel where we were staying which was Backpackers Arenal which was a very nice hostel with A/C very nice thing to have in Costa Rica. On Friday we went ziplining and horse back riding. It was so much fun. One of the zipline cables was 980 Meters almost a kilometer long. Got going about 50 KM/Hour. After that went up to the Baldi Hot Springs and almost killed myself on these crazy water slides. I think I literally flipped upside down in the tube. Got John off to the Airport on Sunday and stayed the night in San Jose. Now I'm traveling solo for a few weeks before I meet up with my friend in Peru. I had convinced myself to attempt to only speak in Spanish for the next few days to practice more but rode out to Porto Viejo with a van full of Americans who were very interested in my trip which is awesome. I hope they all take a career break it's been amazing so far and keeps getting better.  I just made it into Punta Uva which is about 5 Km outside of Porto Viejo, I'm staying at the Walaba Hostel and Beach Houses. I'm on the top floor of this bungalow in a bunk room that looks very comforatable and the bunk looks ready for me to take a siesta. I'll be here for a few days and then will figure it out. Ultimately working my way down into Panama where I will fly out of to get to Peru. I hope you all are enjoying reading this as I enjoy writing these and reliving these amazing memories. Keep in touch and drop me a line to say hi or leave a comment. Pura Vida!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Montezuma

Headed to Montezuma last Sunday and I think today is Thursday. It's very nice not worrying about what day of the week it is. Montezuma was amazing spent 4 nights there hanging out at the beach eating some great food and drinking some tasty beverages. Met 2 Austrians Willy and Martin who I look forward to partying with more in Vienna when I'm there this summer. The majority of people I have met traveling on my trip are Canadians. It's a trip I'm trying to figure out if they are all out of the country traveling who is actually there staying holding down the fort. Hiked to the Montezuma Waterfall which was amazing and then hiked up the difficult way to get up to the top pools. Found the easier way up when we exited from the top pool. If you are to visit Montezuma I recommend going to Cocolores which is a great restaurant and having segundo desayuno's. It's the Cat's Ass!! I am now in La Fortuna at a hostel and am going ziplining tomorrow through the canopy. Then onward from there. La Pura Vida!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quepos & Manuel Antoni

Made it to Quepos on Wednesday and it is now Friday I think... It is absolutely amazing!! Hiked through Manuel Antonio National park and saw some bats, monkeys, toucans, and very large sloths. Last night headed out to republik club and went dancing great times as well. Today headed to Manuel Antonio to the beach which is absolutely incredible and spent the entire day there. We then headed up to the El Avion for happy hour which I think down here is everday all day and watched the sunset into the Pacific. I think today I discovered the meaning of La Pura Vida. What a way to live life... Makes you wonder how you could live any other way. With that have a great night and weekend and Stay Thirsty my Friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

San Jose Costa Rica

 

 
Made it to San Jose Costa Rica and have spent the last day and a half wandering around the city. The amount of buses and traffic seem ridiculous for a city of this size but the traffic patterns are even more fun trying to figure out. About to hop on a bus to Quepos outside of Manuel Antonio about 4 hours away on the Pacific Coast.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seattle - Brazilian Pick up lines

I came up to Seattle last night to see my big Sister Aleen for the night prior to my departure. We went out to a bar called the Brave Horse Tavern it was a pretty awesome spot. While talking to my sisters friends about my trip a girl overheard and asked where I was going .... once I got to Brazil on my list she asked me if I spoke Portuguese. I do not so then she offered to help me with pick up lines I should use in Brazil. I have them written on a napkin which I will be practicing from over the next few months until I reach Brazil. Here's to you random stranger for contributing to my trip. Saifora Gatinna!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Packing for the Adventure

Here is what I have found through a lot of research online and speaking with fellow travelers about their journeys. The key I have found is quick dry clothing which is a little more expensive but worth it's weight in gold. Here is a list of what I'm bringing with me on my trip to help those fellow travelers who are planning their trips.



  • Osprey Waypoint 65 with zipoff daypack and raincover for pack
  • Reef Flip Flops
  • Adidas Climacool running shoes
  • Merrell World Rambler casual shoes
  • 1 Marmot Balcon long sleeve button down shirt
  • 2 short sleeve button down shirts 1 merrell and one Scottevest
  • 1 Scottevest Travel Vest
  • 1 Scottevest Micro fleece Pullover
  • 3 Exofficio exo dri t-shirts
  • 3 merrell Geo t-shirts
  • 1 Pair Exofficio Nomad Pants
  • 1 Pair Exofficio Nomad Shorts
  • 1 Pair Scottevest Travel Pants
  • 1 Pair Scottevest Travel Shorts
  • 1 Marmot Precip Rain coat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Toiletries
  • Quick Dry Towel
  • Buff Bandana
  • Headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Headphones
  • Origaudio Rockit www.origaudio.com
  • Samsung Tab 10.1 w/ bluetooth keyboard
  • Casio Tryx 12 MP Camera