Jun 9 2009

¡Bienvenidos Amigos!

Bodhi

Bienvenidos amigos! We have created this site to share our adventures in South America with you. The backstory to how we got here is rather simple. We were ready for new experiences - a new city, new jobs, and exposure to other cultures. We uprooted our lives from Los Angeles, put all our wordly possessions in a storage unit in San Francisco, threw on a backpack, and flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. These are our stories from a two three month journey around the continent.

Feel free to leave us comments and come back often :)

Chau!
Bodhi and Monica


Aug 27 2009

Last days in Brazil

Bodhi

Here we are about to begin our last day in Brazil by waiting for the sunrise to start so we can go out to Ipanema beach to appreciate it. The last days/weeks have been, as usual, lovely and amazing. We arrived back in Rio de Janeiro on Mon, Aug 24, after 8 or so days in the state of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil. We enjoyed Salvador, the capital of Bahia, very much. It’s very interesting to see the contrast between the culture of Salvador/Bahia and Rio. We have likened it to the difference between a US city in the south, Atlanta, say, and Los Angeles perhaps. We spent 4 nights on an island called Morro de São Paulo, which is a sickness-inducing 2 hr catamaran ride from Salvador. The island was great, with no cars and plenty of sand. The “taxis” on this island are people with wheelbarrows and yellow shirts who will transport your suitcases and such to your hotel from the pier where you get off. Backpackers like us just walk of course. After being on Ilha Grande, though, we found Morro to be quite touristy. It’s got tons of restaurants, nice pousadas and hotels right on the beach, and people who will sell you anything you want if you’ll let them. But whatever, it was still gorgeous and relaxing and fun. Who can complain about walking out of your hostel and across the beach to the water?

2° Praia, Morro de São Paulo, a little piece of paradise

2° Praia, Morro de São Paulo, a little piece of paradise

The picture uploading capability is currently poor, so we can’t post more representative pics of the island.  Basically we lounged around a lot, hung out in the sun, relaxed, wandered in tide pools at low tide, tried surfing again (fail), and went to a “nightclub” (fail).  We also talked a lot, and this was good.  After a few months together, you might be surprised but there are still plenty of things to talk about!

So now we post more pics and things just because we can (and also because we are waiting for sunrise).

Farol de Barra, Salvador

Farol de Barra, Salvador, the only place in mainland Brazil that you can see the sun set over the water (because there's a big bay to the west of this point), which we did one day

Praia do Forte, a little village and sea turtle conservation project area an hour northeast of Salvador

Praia do Forte, a little village and sea turtle conservation project area an hour northeast of Salvador

Monica against a wall in the Pelourinho area of Salvador on our last night there

Monica against a wall in the Pelourinho area of Salvador on our last night there

Fort just offshore from the Cidade Baixo of Salvador, after returning from Morro de São Paulo

Fort just offshore from the Cidade Baixo of Salvador, after returning from Morro de São Paulo

During our percussion class in the Pelourinho area of Salvador..this was so much fun!  Taught by a legit Carnaval percussionist who smiled the entire time

During our percussion class in the Pelourinho area of Salvador..this was so much fun! Taught by a legit Carnaval percussionist who smiled the entire time

Monica flying above the wall around the Cristo statue in Salvador

Monica flying above the wall around the Cristo statue in Salvador

So after returning to Salvador for a night from Morro de São Paulo, we flew down to Rio for our last couple of days.  When we were in Rio before, we usually got one day of sun for every one or two that were somewhat cloudy.  Not this time.  It’s been cloudy, with some rain, every day we’ve been here.  But I guess it’s still alright and we can’t complain.  Today we hiked up through Atlantic rainforest jungle to the Cristo Redentor monument, the one main thing we hadn’t done in Rio yet.  We had been waiting for a perfect day in order to be there at sunset and drool over the beauty of the city as we had from Pao de Azucar.  But this was our last chance, as we fly tomorrow.  So we checked it out anyway.  The monument was mostly covered in clouds, and we only caught fleeting glimpses of the city.  But at least we did it.

We may get some sun tomorrow.  If so, we are headed straight to the beach.  And we are planning to meet a friend’s parents (she’s from Rio) for some pao de queijo in the afternoon.  In between, we shall continue our reflection of what the last few months mean to us and where they leave us now as we prepare to re-enter American society.  I suppose we’ll continue to use this space to share and reflect on things related to the journey, even though technically we won’t be traveling in South America anymore.  Perhaps we will be…mentally?


Aug 15 2009

Salvador da Bahia

Monica

Perhaps a bit beyond the shoestring….

We were to bus to Salvador yesterday the 14th (a 25 hour ride) BUT when we arrived at the ticket counter 10 minutes prior to the bus actually leaving..they were full. So we found the internet cafe and booked an afternoon flight for that day. WORTH it!! Arrived before 8pm to a samba band playing in our hostel. The beat of the drums were enough to catch a second wind and head out to enjoy a warm Bahian night. I enjoyed a traditional Bahian meal of Moqueca which is a fish stew cooked in a clay pot with dende oil, coconut milk and spicy peppers….YUM!

We will be 8 days or so in Salvador with a trip planned to the true paradise of Morro De Sao Paulo. More stories and pics to follow.

Largo Do Pelourinho. Slaves were auctioned here

Largo Do Pelourinho. Slaves were auctioned here

Igreja da Ordem Terceira de Sao Francisco

Igreja da Ordem Terceira de Sao Francisco

A view over the ports of Salvador

A view over the ports of Salvador


Aug 15 2009

Paraty and Búzios - two lovely cobblestoned towns with fun in the sun

Monica
Brazil continues to enchant us with it’s natural beauty, rhythm and culture. After we left Ilha Grande, we made our way south to yet another beach town called Paraty.  It’s an amazingly well-preserved colonial city with cobblestone streets and plenty of charm.  Among other activities, we took a sun-drenched schooner tour of the islands & the more secluded beaches in the area.  Day two took us to the small village of Trindade to the south where we hiked to a natural swimming hole and picnicked….and slept.
Then on to Búzios…
Our first full day in Búzios, we rented a small, 100 cc Honda motorcycle from a rental place just a few doors down from our hostel in the center of town on Rua das Pedras.  We were delighted to find the price as low as it was (equal to renting two bicycles for the day, it turns out) and the process as easy as it was. They took down Bodhi’s info and money (about $27US), and handed us the key and helmets.  We wanted the motorcycle because the Búzios peninsula area has something like 12 beaches and several little town centers, far too much to see on foot.   Other than nightlife and shopping, the beaches are essentially all there is to see in Búzios.  And it’s just so darn cute with all the cobblestones and little buildings and hardly any traffic!   So it makes a perfect motorcycle setting.
We absolutely loved the warm air blowing over us as we cruised around town and the beaches and trusty Maria (the motorcycle) worked her hardest to lug us up some of the steep hills.  It was so freeing to be able to hop off the bike, walk out on the beach a little and take it in, then hop back on again and keep cruising.  No wonder people like motorcycles!  There is no other way we could have appreciated this much of the area this easily and quickly.  We were inspired to try to rent a motorcycle again if we are in another town that’s well-suited to it.  Maaaaybe I will try driving it ;)

Best seat on the boat

Best seat on the boat

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

A walk along the cobblestone streets

A walk along the cobblestone streets

Natural swimming hole

Natural swimming hole

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Pics from Buzios

Bodhi and the test drive. We called her "Maria".

Bodhi at the start of the test drive. We called her "Maria".

In route to 1 of the 11 beaches in Buzious Brazil

In route to 1 of the 9 beaches in Búzios, Brazil

The turtle beach....one of many on the day.

The turtle beach (Praia da Tartaruga)....one of many on the day.

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

A view from the top

A view from the top toward Praia Brava

"Next Beach"

"Next Beach" (what we kept saying to each other when it was time to move on to another)

Where does they sea end and the sky begin?

Where does the sea end and the sky begin?

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It was Bodhi's mom's birthday this day, so he sent her a personalized "card" from Praia Ferradura

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

Maria with a cousin of her's

Maria with a cousin of her's

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula


Aug 6 2009

Brazil ….. continued.

Monica

It has been very hard to find time to blog the past two weeks and even this post will be brief.
We were in Rio for about 10 days seeing the sites, lounging on the beach, trekking, and really enjoying the night life and the music….oh the music. I think it runs through my veins now.
We are on an island about 2 hours out of Rio called Ilha Grande which many consider to have some of the best beaches in the world. There is a full moon tonight too and the light over the island is perfection….this is as good as it gets.
Brazil truly is the most beautiful place in the world and I’m so excited we have over a month to spend here. We will head to Bahia next and other beaches along the way.
I’ve posted just a few of the many pics taken over the past few days.

From the top of Sugar Loaf at sunset

From the top of Sugar Loaf at sunset

Carnaval rehearsal

Mangueira Samba School rehearsal party (til super late in the morning!)

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that's Copacabana beach there over the hill

Rio at sunset

Rio at sunset

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On a hike to Lopes Mendes. Ilha Grande

On a hike to Lopes Mendes. Ilha Grande

Yeah...we surf now

Yeah...we surf now. Lopes Mendes beach, rated by some as one of the top beaches in Brazil (and the world)

I love a full moon

I love a full moon

Boating to our surf spot. Dagny and Bodhi

Boating to our surf spot. Dagny and Bodhi

loco Moni

loco Moni


Jul 29 2009

Extension

Monica

Well Im posting from the iPhone as we just finally decided on our next step. We were scheduled to fly back to LA tomorrow but neither of us are truly ready for that reality. So we must journey to the airport tomrrow as changes have to be made in person (grr Delta) and change our departure date to allow another 3-4 weeks to explore Brazil. We need more time in Rio for sure but we also plan to head North. To be continued….


Jul 28 2009

Brazil (so far..)

Bodhi

We´ve been in Brazil now since Wed, Jul 22.  Our computing situation has not been so good and we have not made time to blog/computer until now.  That´s because Brazil is FUN!

Here is a quick bullet list of things we´ve done and seen since being in Brazil:

  • Flew into São Paolo to spend time with new friends. They offered us their family flat to stay in (saving us a boatload of cash), and they took us around the city to see all the sights.  We were not really tourists in this city because of this.  We enjoyed our first tastes of great Brazilian food specialties, local art, and some serious traffic!  Man, São Paolo is a huge city.  Without our friends Gabi and Gui there, we probably would not have enjoyed it at all.
  • Explored on our own in a part of São Paolo, checking out little hip stores and gallery spaces, and even getting Bodhi a much-needed haircut!  Moni had some pão de queijo and hasn´t been able to stop thinking about it since.
  • Had our first caipirinhas and fried mandioc out with Gabi and Gui
In Estaçao da Luz in São Paolo, a rather famous train station
In Estaçao da Luz in São Paolo, a rather famous train station

Beautiful array of fruits available in the Mercado Central in São Paolo

Beautiful array of fruits available in the Mercado Central in São Paolo

São Paolo is just city for as far as the eye can see (view from top of famous old bank building in downtown of São Paolo)

São Paolo is just city for as far as the eye can see (view from top of famous old bank building in downtown of São Paolo)

Lovely late afternoon sun at the top of the old bank building in São Paolo

Lovely late afternoon sun at the top of the old bank building in São Paolo

Bodhi and Monica rule São Paolo!
Bodhi and Monica rule São Paolo!
  • Rio:
  • Showed up very late on a Friday night with it pissing rain and all the hostels in Copacabana full…finally found a place to sleep in a stinky, tiny room in a Botafogo hostel.  Contrary to the name, it was not “Ace”
  • Met a nice Irishman fellow traveler, Tadrg, and shared a cab and room at Ace,  who we seem to see everywhere we go now
  • Moved to Ipanema area, Moni got a haircut, went out partying and drinking in Lapa, met the doorman friend of Shamar, who was just here a couple weeks ago, and enjoyed well-done covers of famous American and British songs by the Brazilian band in the Irish pub.
  • Saw a futbol game at the world famous Maracana stadium (Fluminense v. Cruzeiro, final 1-1) and enjoyed the crazy, loud, cursing fans and the incessant drumming and singing from the “rowdy” section
  • Visited the lovely, and huge, Jardim Botanico, a 200 yr old botanical gardens with a ridiculous variety of palm trees and beautifully landscaped grounds.  And monkeys!!!  And the street across from it is lined with fabulous graffiti (subject of another post to come)
  • Toured Rocinha favela, the largest in Rio, and got a feel for the diversity of social problems faced by Brazil0
  • Sat on Ipanema beach in the sunshine and felt the magic that makes Rio famous
  • Visited the picturesque neighborhood of Santa Teresa by cable car and foot, and also a bit of Centro (downtown) with its 400+ yr history and european feel
  • Met friends of friends and got lots of inside perspective on Rio and beyond
  • Decided to stay in South America for another month+?? :)

At a futbol match at Maracana stadium

At a futbol match at Maracana stadium

Looking out at Rocinha favela

Looking out at Rocinha favela

This picture typifies Rio..rock mountains next to high rises next to slums (favelas) in a sub-tropical climate

This picture typifies Rio..rock mountains next to high rises next to slums (favelas) in a sub-tropical beach climate

Ipanema beach in "winter"

Ipanema beach in "winter"

Strumming a little "samba-rock" this guy in the hostel taught me

Strumming a little "samba-rock" this guy in the hostel taught me..check out that farmer´s tan!

Hopefully it won´t be another week before our next post!  (Note: pics do exist for all bullets, just not included here for now)


Jul 20 2009

Lima for a day

Monica

We arrived in Lima this afternoon and will be here for about 36 hours before flying to Brazil tomorrow night.  Good food and new friends will be our focus for these few hours in Lima. We are going to hit the town tonight and tomorrow the BEST Peruvian ceviche awaits me at my favorite restaurant, La Mar.  Probably Beyond the Shoestring!

Below is a pic from last night (Mon, July 20).  Dinner was amazing too!  It was at a place called Tanta, and it’s actually another restaurant by Gastón Acurio, this famous chef who is a co-founder of La Mar as well!  (La Mar is the cebicheria we ate at today and that Monica was so looking forward to in Lima!)

A night out with our Perviuan friends. The bar was called La Noche in the barrio of Barranco.

A night out with our new Peruvian friends. Wendy is on the left, and Florivela is on the right. The bar was called La Noche in the barrio of Barranco and they had some good live latin jazz going.


Jul 19 2009

Alternative Inka Trail to Machu Picchu

Bodhi

The pictures tell the story. That and we have to leave to catch a bus to Lima..

In brief: It was a 4 day journey. 1 day of downhill mountain biking, and 3 of walking, trekking, learning. We stayed in little “pueblos” in hostels along the way. Our group had 4 Brasileros, 4 Colombianos, and 2 Americanos ;) Our guide was pretty cool, and shared a good bit about Inkans with us and also the modern day situations of the people that live in these places and what life is like for them. We hiked on some original Inka Trails (cool!) and also roads and railroad tracks. The day we saw Machu Picchu, we were lucky enough (i.e. smart enough) to get one of the highly sought after 400 daily allotted tickets to allow entrance to hike up Wayna Picchu. This is the crazy spire of a mountain you see in the background of all the famous pics of Machu Picchu. That is one helluva hike! It’s basically straight up. Those crazy Incas really liked building things way high in the sky.

Lining up to get going on the bikes

Lining up to get going on the bikes

So fun..it should look familiar because the experience was a little like the Death Road ride in Bolivia!

So fun..it should look familiar because the experience was a little like the Death Road ride in Bolivia!

The scenery from the ride

The scenery from the ride

Down the valley..I loved seeing this sort of thing every day

Down the valley..I loved seeing this sort of thing every day

The 2 stripes of the seed goo (used as a dye for fabrics by the Incas, among other things) signifies "taken"

The 2 stripes of the seed goo (used as a dye for fabrics by the Incas, among other things) signifies "taken"

¡Camino del Inka!

¡Camino del Inka!

A nice food and rest stop along the way with the family who lives on the steep mountainside

A nice food and rest stop along the way with the family who lives on the steep mountainside

More valley we were trekking through..this is the sacred Wilcamayu river (now "Urubamba")

More valley we were trekking through..this is the sacred Wilcamayu river (now "Urubamba")

The kind of stuff we were hiking on sometimes.  Don't look down!

The kind of stuff we were hiking on sometimes. Don't look down!

Beautiful

Beautiful

End of the day..so tired! We worked hard for this picture, hiking all the way back up to the Guard House to get the view.  Worth it!

End of the day..so tired! We worked hard for this picture, hiking all the way back up to the Guard House to get the view. Worth it!

So many more pics to follow! We have to leave now to catch the bus, and the computer “no funciona” so that’s that. Chau!


Jul 14 2009

Some more pictures from in and around Cusco

Bodhi

Tomorrow we leave bright and early for our 4 day, 3 night “Alternative Inca Trail” journey to Machu Piccu.  The first day is mountain biking (our 6th time biking so far on the trip!), almost all downhill, and the following days are “trekking”, i.e. hiking.  We will be in little towns and on pieces of the old Inca trail that have been rediscovered.  We’ll get to sit in some hot springs as well (my 4th time so far on this trip!) and I’m sure we’ll meet some other interesting travelers.  This should be a lot of fun!

Today we made it out to the Sacred Valley, or the “Valle Sagrado”.  We only really saw one set of ruins though, near Ollantaytambo.  It’s hard to do things efficiently and quickly here in Latin America.  Especially when there’s not a whole lot of daylight.

Here are a few more pictures from recent days in the Cusco area and surroundings.  Our hostel’s computer doesn’t let us do USB stuff though, so it’s hard to get current pics up easily.

Monica says these kinds of pictures around here look like a "painting", mainly because of the sky

Monica says these kinds of pictures around here look like a "painting", mainly because of the sky

It's fun to get a little creative when you're out walking on the road for a while

It's fun to get a little creative when you're out walking on the road for a while

A bath of the Incas, basically where the king went for his spa day

A bath of the Incas, basically where the king went for his spa day

Cusco, from our hostel's front doorstep

Cusco, from our hostel's front doorstep

Finally!  Gay rights and catholicism together as one! (actually, this is the Cusco city flag, based on old Inca traditions)

Finally! Gay rights and catholicism together as one! (actually, this is the Cusco city flag, based on old Inca traditions)

Plaza de Armas, the main square for Cusco

Plaza de Armas, the main square for Cusco

Next to one of the largest stones (70 tons or more, supposedly) in the Sacsaywaman ("sexy woman") ruins next to Cusco, a military establishment where the Inca king laid seige to Spanish-occupied Cusco

Next to one of the largest stones (70 tons or more, supposedly) in the Sacsaywaman ("sexy woman") ruins next to Cusco, a military establishment where the Inca king laid seige to Spanish-occupied Cusco

Me as an Inca king

Me as an Inca king

We should have a ton more pics to share, including Machu Piccu after the next few days!


Jul 13 2009

Copacabana (Bolivia..not Brazil..that’s in a couple weeks!)

Bodhi

We were in the Copacabana, Bolivia area from about July 7-10.  We had bussed there from La Paz.  Copa, as it’s called, is situated right on the lakefront of Lake Titicaca.  The majority of their business is tourism, both for Bolivians (I presume) and foreigners like ourselves.  It’s very sunny there during the day.  We saw very bright sun every day, with very few clouds.  You NEED a hat there!  And it was warm too, at least during the day.  Some of the warmer temperatures we’ve had yet, being over 20 C during the hottest time.  This is because we’re getting further and further north in our travels, and thus closer to the equator.  So even though Lake Titicaca is at about 3800 m elevation (that’s high) and it’s “winter”, it was still very pleasant.  Nights were cold still, but nothing compared to Uyuni or the high altiplano.

We enjoyed several sunsets and relaxed a bit.  I got to play my little guitarra I bought in La Paz, which was a lot of fun :)  There are a number of artist/hippy types in Copa, presumably because it’s a relaxed environment and warmer and touristy.  Lots of handmade jewelry and such being sold in the street, and a ton of stalls hocking alpaca wool hats and jumpers (chompas) and the like.

Here’s a few pictures that I was able to get up despite the generally grim state of computers we come across (web works fair, but USB connectivity, processor speed, and browser functionality and updatedness is grossly lacking):

Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa
Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa

 I sat and played guitar while Moni took pictures as the sun set behind boats in the bay.  Lovely.

One day, we set out early to do the trek described in the Lonely Planet.  The idea is you walk along the road for 17 km to a tiny town on the peninsula nearest the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and catch a boat from there, then stay on the island.  The scenery was beautiful, as the book described.  It was generally very pastoral, with what looked like dirt farms mostly.  Just kidding..they were growing some sort of grain and had sheep and llamas and things.  It was a long walk.  And hot, dry, and dusty.  Nevertheless, it was something rather off the beaten track that tourists see, which we appreciated.

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

Eventually, we were quite tired from walking for hours, and happened across Hilario Paye.  He is mentioned by name in the Lonely Planet guide as someone who will give you a boat ride to Isla.  We took him up on the offer, and rode in his little motorboat at a slow pace out to the island.

A trip to the peninsula after an 8 mile hike. There´s a great story behind this pic.

Riding in Hilario's boat to Isla del Sol. This is the start, in the shallow reed-filled waters.

Again, we loved this experience because it was so unique!  One could certainly have gotten to the island for cheaper and faster by just taking the big ferries, but this was really fun and quaint, even peaceful.  The waves were rocking the boat a bit, but we didn’t really get splashed and eventually reached a bunch of rocks at the edge of the island.  Hilario drops us off without ceremony and pulls away.  Thanks Hilario!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

So then it’s a couple more miles (ouch!) along the steep island hills walking along donkey and sheep trails.  We even got to walk with some actual donkeys and sheep!

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

Everywhere on Isla del Sol is very high up and you can really see the sun and the lake from there.  It’s beautiful.  We have pictures somewhere but I can’t get them up right now.  We stayed in a tiny little hospedaje, maybe 4 rooms, for the cheapest we’ve seen yet!  $3 each ($6 total).  It wasn’t even that bad, though forget about hot water or breakfast.  It was great to wake up to blasting morning sun, no alarm required.
Though we tried valiantly, we couldn’t fit in a trip to the north part of the island, where the rock that is the birth of the world in the Incan tradition.  This is where the first Incan was born, and essentially where the world started.  That’s heavy.  But the weird little boat mafia didn’t allow for this to happen for our convenience and we didn’t have the extra day, so back to the mainland we went, on the ferry this time.  We made it in time to hike up the giant hill next to town and watch a gorgeous sunset together!
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
The next morning we got on a bus that would eventually bring us to Cusco, where we are now.