Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Media Blitz!

Ok, so yeah no real update, but I've found a cool place here in Pucon Chile that I can upload a ton of crap to.

So, finally no more facebook - all the photos are going up in their uncompressed glory on flickr so no one should have any problems seeing them all (I just have to rename them all now....)

And the kicker........

Youtube videos!

That's right kiddies, got a few up already and I'll be adding many more, though you'll have to forgive the stupid add from the compression software I had to use to get the vids down from hundreds of megabytes to tens of megabytes. Either way I hope you enjoy them.

I'll try and find a way to sticky the links so you can always get them easily, or better yet I think blogger has some kind of feed system so maybe as I add new ones you can find out here.

Flickr account:

Youtube account:

More to come!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Ok, so I know it's been a while.... Things have been moving along really quickly (or I've just been partying too much).

There's a lot to update you all on, so this might take a while.

The last entry only covered Otavalo, which was 2 countries ago! Wow, I need to do a better job of keeping you all informed. Lets see if I can even remember it all. I think I'll break it up over a couple entries so as not to bore you all at once.

After Otavalo, Jesse and I returned to Quito for a night, because Jesse had decided a few days before to walk off with all the keys to the hostel we had been staying in. Oops. The next day we left for a town south called Latacunga, where we would begin our trip around the Quilotoa loop.

Latacunga was a larger town, about 50,000 people I think, but still retained a pretty small town feel. The hostel we stayed in was right on this plaza that has a big daily market. We were there for only a night, and spent it basically cruising around the town sightseeing. We also ate at this set lunch place called Jimmy's, where we were served chicken with a soup that had chicken feet floating in it.... Interesting.

The bus ride from Latacunga to Quilotoa was really interesting, mainly because you're flying around turns in the Andes passing trucks at ridiculous speads with insane drop offs. It's hard not to be scared for your life.

We decided on that bus ride that instead of going all the way to this town Chugchilan that night, we would stay in Quilotoa itself, a town of about 200 people right on the edge of a huge volcanic crater lake. Turned out to be a fantastic decision, as the place we stayed turned out to be a highlight of the trip so far.

The hostel was called Pacha Mama, and it was basically this families house with a converted second floor to house about 10-12 people. While it was freezing outside, we would relax in their kitchen and play with their kids. It felt really good to be a part of that.

The next morning we woke up early to go climb down the crater rim and get down to the lake. It was a cool walk, and at the bottom you could find little fissures where gases would be bubbling up. Afterwards, we decided that instead of waiting for a bus to take us to the next town, we'd hike there with all our stuff instead. It turned out to be a 5 hour trek, not bad with 60 lbs of crap strapped to your back. The views though were fantastic, and it was really cool to be doing some serious hiking after all the buses. In Chugchilan, we relaxed and played guitar in the hostel area for some of the locals.

We woke up at 3 am to catch a bus back to Latacunga, and then from there we returned to Quito for one last night before heading off to Peru. We took some salsa lessons and tried them out that night at one of the local bars, I guess with relative success. I met a group of Quitoans (sp?) who took me to this other bar where all they were playing was Rage Against the Machine and Offspring, and then started moshing! It was pretty weird to see, hard to believe I was in Ecuador.

Ok, that's it for now, I'll put more up about our crazy times in Cusco and of course, Machu Picchu, soon.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Otavalo and El Lechero

So after our first few days in Quito, we bused it up north to a market town called Otavalo, which has about 30,000 people in the city and surrounding areas apparently (the city itself seems much smaller).

We got in in the later afternoon, and went bargain hunting for a hostel, finally settling on this one place for $3 a night each after circleing the town. Even had hot water! The market from that day was just closing down, and we thought we got a bit of an understanding about the kind of town this was.

Being Friday night, we quickly changed, cleaned up a bit, and headed into the center to get a bite to eat and check out some of the local Penas (bars). We found one with this good local folklorica band Canto Vivo, and chilled there for a while. We kind of became mini groupies and followed them around to their next gig that night, as Jesse made friends with the churanga player.

Eventually we found our way to this other Pena La Jampa, where there were a lot of younger people dancing to another local band, and then reggeaton and latin pop music. We met a couple local girls and their friends and spent the rest of the night getting them to teach us how to dance better and butchering the Spanish language trying to make sensible conversation. The girl I was dancing with was actually a 23 year old recent grad out of work after getting back from being abroad in Chile trying to figure out what to do... we had nothing in common.

Saturday we woke up a little later than intended, and missed the cool animal market just out of town. But there was plenty to explore around the city as Saturday is the big market day, and the entire town is blanketed with tiendas selling everything Ecuadorian. Every store seems to be manned by several people who rotate between other shops, so it´s hard to figure out who exactly is selling what. And there gets to be so much redundancy it´s absurd. After walking by another tienda selling the same linen shirts as the one before, you get kind of tired hearing the ladies telling you how everything was made by her and her kids. We bought a couple small items, but were happy just walking around.

That afternoon we went up into the hills on a little hike to find El Lechero, this healing tree up on a hill overlooking Otavalo and the nearby lake San Pablo. There was also a bird sanctuary up there with a condor show we wanted to check out. Once out of town things get really rural in a hurry, and eventually we´re walking through farmlands with old women dressed in traditional garb hoeing and sewing crops. It´s a pretty cool sight. The tree itself is in this amazing, romantic location. It´s the only tree around, and looks nothing like any of the other indigenous trees nearby. The vistas from it are awesome, with the volcanos and lakes and towns. The bird sanctuary was cool to see, and they did a little demonstration for us. The cab ride back was really cool though, our driver was this calculus teacher from the local secondary school and basically took us on a tour around the town to see the soccer stadium, more of the market, and told us a lot about the local life.

That night we ate out again, and decided we were going to throw out the Lonely Planet guide books we were using to find food, because every place we went to would be devoid of locals, and clearly everyone else there was going off the same info we were. No more gringos! That night we went out again, this time we started off at a Galljero though: cock fight! We were there for about an hour and a half and saw 3 fights, 2 ending in a killing blow. It was pretty crazy to watch, it´s a definite mix of sadness for the birds, and excitement at the atmosphere created by the locals betting going nuts for their birds (sucking blood from wounds). After we went to another Pena, but it sucked and we went back to the trusty Jampa. We met a couple more locals that night and found out that this was apparently the only bar people go to. This time I was dancing with a health student from the larger town north, Ibarra, who was down to visit her family for the weekend. Was a lot of fun, but you feel guilty for staying out late, because after 10 the grandmother who runs the hostel locks the door and goes to sleep, so to get in you have to bang on the door to wake her up, a tad inconvenient at 2 in the morning....

We´re now back in Quito before heading South for Latacunga and the largest active volcano in South America, Quilotoa.

Here are some photos of the trip so far:
Album 1
Album 2

Friday, November 03, 2006

Here and Alive!

So I´m here, and things have been off to great start for my friend Jesse and I here in Ecuador.

We got in late on the 1st, and I entered the country on my British passport (I keep flopping on which one I present when I have to). That night, it turns out our hostel was having ¨rum and coke night¨, which means a free 12 liters of the stuff for everyone. Needless to say despite being tired from the long travel we partied with our new travel friends. It´s really funny how easy it is to bond and get along, I think everyone is in hurry up mode in that sense because you´re only going to see them for a couple days or so. Swapping stories, you find out there are people there who have been traveling for upwards of half a year, maybe more. Pretty intense, gonna be interesting to be that savvy veteran soon.

Yesterday we walked around Quito a lot (which is a beautiful city, nestled in a valley at about 7500 feet). We got some great shots of the city, saw some cool old colonial buildings, churches, and museums, and had our first Ecuadorian meals. We also made it to Mitad del Mundo, a big monument to the equator. We ended up falling asleep on the bus out there though, and got woken up by these 2 girls who were running the bus laughing at us and calling us their little children for missing the boat like that. Ah well, we were tired! Last night we pretty much stayed in, I wrote in my journal for the first time ever, felt kinda cool. We hung out with the people there for a little while, then went to bed. Today we´re catching a bus up to a town called Otavalo where tomorrow there´s supposed to be this amazing market. Send your requests for cheap Ecuadorian native bracelets soon!

We´ve been a tad cavalier with money so far, but I think that´ll stop soon, and it´s really easy to get by on $15 a day here. Our hostel for 2 nights and 1 meal was $14 total, and food from smaller places runs in the $1-$2 range. Last night we went to this extravagant restaurant to sort of kick things off in style, and I had this awesome steak which cost me $8, which is definitely expensive here. We were also the only freakin people in this giant restaurant, which was really weird especially as it was only 7.

Hope all is well with everyone back in the US, send me a line if you like, I´ll be doing my best to answer them all in time.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thoughts and Musings....

With 19 days left in DC, things seem to be coming to a close in a hurry. It's funny, how even when you think about something long enough to completely over-analyze it, change your mind several times, and then conclude the decision was right to begin with AND leave yourself enough time take care of details at a leisurely pace, it inevitably feels rushed in the end anyway. Definitely one of those, there isn't enough time but there is still plenty of time, things. I think it speaks to the degree that you want something to happen. That you are ready for a change.

And still, with only a month left in the US, I feel as though I have a lifetime left here. Everything feels... I don't want to say routine, but familiar. And I can't get myself to operate with any sense of urgancy. I used to attribute this to some extremely lazy phase I thought I was going through (which still may be true). Now though, I believe it to be more a reflection of how comfortable I've grown here in DC, especially with the people around me. While I'm still 100% committed to leaving (mentally... I know I'm monetarily committed), and to the experiences I think I'll find, I know once I get off the plane in Quito the regret will be all too real for the places, people, relationships, and life that I gave up.

I definitely used to, and to a large degree still am, a very analytical person. I like to know all the angles, and all the choices, before making even simple decisions. And while I can't say this is a very spontaneous decision, it feels good to make it more on gut and instinct than because it was logically a good choice.

Or maybe I'm just a little loopy from the vaccinations.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Machu Picchu Good to Go

At this point, I'm all set for travel between Ecuador and Chile. The most popualar leg of my initial travels, the Inca Trails from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, has been booked. I have a train leaving Cuzco on the 13th on November to Aguas Calientes, which returns the next day.

I booked about 7 weeks ahead of schedule, but even in off season I could have done better, and recommend anyone traveling to Peru and especially Cuzco etc., to schedule your transportation very far in advance (2 months during peak season may not cut it). Go to to book your trip to Machu Picchu ASAP if you're going.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Flights booked for Peru and Chile

At this point, all of the major flights are booked. I'm officially flying into Quito, Ecuador on November 1st. Sadly, there won't be the time/money to visit the Galapagos Islands on this leg of the trip, but I can deal without the uber-touristy experience especially when I've only just started my travels.

I'm in Ecuador until the 10th, when I fly through Lima to Cuzco in Peru to do Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, until November 15th. Really looking forward to sucking wind for a few days to acclimate to the altitude, while seeing the heart of the Incan empire. Definitely a highlight of the early travels:

After playing around there for a few days and recovering from the altitude sickness I'm off to Santiago, Chile. I'll be in Chile for 2-3 weeks, traveling around the south of Chile and seeing some beaches before I head to Argentina for the first extended stay of the trip, living in Buenos Aires.

I'll be there for at least a couple months, and am expecting to move after my classes at the University of Buenos Aires wrap up in late February, early March to Barcelona, Spain.