Jul 13 2009

I heart Incas

Monica

We arrived in Cuzco, Peru on Saturday night (11th) after a few beautiful and sunny days on Lake Titicaca. Cuzco holds a special place in my heart as I was here last year with great people and to now share it with Bodhi makes it that much more special. We arrived in time for dinner and really I think it was one of my favorite nights of the trip. We found a gem of a hostel in the San Blas area of Cuzco with a view overlooking the entire city. We sat in the window seal for a long time just amazed at how things just fall into place. We are going to spend a few days exploring Cuzco and the Sacred Valley before starting our four day trek/bike to Manchu Pichu on Wed.

I´m bringing leg warmers back.

I´m bringing leg warmers back.

Capturing a sunset over Lake Ticicaca

Capturing a sunset over Lake Ticicaca


Jul 6 2009

Sick Day

Bodhi

Monica and I had our first (and hopefully last) case of food poisoning.  The really surprising thing was that this was from a proper restaurant, not a street vendor!  The food tasted delicious, there were other people in there (all tourists though), and it all seemed fine.  We went to bed, and things went bad.  We suffered through the night before last (night of the 4th) spending time paying penance to the porcelain god and feeling miserable, barely able to sleep.  For a while, I really thought it was the meat Monica had in her dish, but then I got hit as well and there’s no good explanation other than that their kitchen surfaces aren’t clean and something bad was in there.  The whole of yesterday we lay in bed, sleeping for hours at a time, then waking, then sleeping.  All we could muster was leaving the room to buy some juice and water.  After a fairly solid sleep last night, we’re pretty much over it today, though we are still really weak.

We knew this was part of the package, and it was to be expected in not-so-industrialized Bolivia - the Bolivians themselves don’t even drink their tap water!  We were just a little shocked that it went down like this.

It’s just a reminder of how fragile we really are.  A few million bad bacteria and we’re down for the count.

Needless to say, no pictures were taken yesterday…


Jun 26 2009

A day to see Valparaiso

Bodhi

We’re having breakfast in our “hospedaje” (subtly different than hostels) in Valparaiso. Today we get to go out and see the very picturesque city set against the hills and the port. Our neighborhood is right in the center of the best looking part. The tiny streets are lined with houses of many different colors, and it’s quite the bohemian arts area as well. The couple of restaurants we poked our heads in last night were very artsy and cool, and we had delicious food at Alegretto.

This day is about seeing the town, taking pictures, and maybe a harbor tour. One of Pablo Neruda’s houses is here, too, so we might see that. Then it’s off to Santiago and a night bus all the way to San Pedro de Atacama way up north. The driest place on earth.

I’ve decided in the short time I’ve been in Valpo that I love it, and I would certainly come here on sabbatical to write my book, make my album, paint my masterpieces, etc


Jun 22 2009

A Snowcapped Pass

Monica

We made it to Chile! The border had been closed for many days due to the first seasonal storm. We were delayed in Mendoza two days longer than expected and we had just about given up on the border opening….but really…how could I give up on the chance to ski the Andes on my birthday! The 6 hour bus ride to Santiago was the most beautiful drive with snow capped mountains, a running river, and an amazing sky. The border crossing process was a bit of a learning experience…I almost was left behind with two other Americans. It’s a complicated story since most of it was in Spanish and Chilean Spanish is very difficult to understand BUT I made it with a stamp to prove it.

What luck that the first official day of the ski season is tomorrow…my birthday! I can’t think of a better way to spend my 32nd…skiing in the Southern hemisphere.

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Jun 20 2009

Not all buses are treated equally

Monica

The bar was set high (real high) on our bus ride from B.A. to Iguazu Falls. We were served wine, whisky and champagne all within the first 30 minutes of our 15 hour ride. We watched a few good movies, snuggled up with blankets and each other in our plush seats and slept soundly through the night.

Ok…NOT the case from the Falls to Mendoza people….not the same. We of course made the most of the experience BUT it was not pretty. They wouldn´t even give us blankets. Champagne…ha…try orange soda 3 hours into the ride served with some white bread. Good thing we brought our own bottle of wine (and some sleeping aids) with us on board.  It was an adventure to say the least and will likely end up being our longest ride of the trip (36 hours).  Ah good times.

High standards

High standards


Jun 19 2009

Wine tours and tasting in Mendoza

Bodhi

At Weinert Bodega with their biggest cask (44000 L of wine!)

At Weinert Bodega with their biggest cask (44000 L of wine!)

Today Monica and I set out to explore some of the famous wineries (bodegas) in Mendoza.  This is what the area is famous for.  We had been directed to a tour company - City Bike - by the tourism office here in the center of town.  They seemed nice and helpful.  Today we got our bikes, which were horrible old mountain bikes but seemed roadworthy enough.  We got a map, had 3 scheduled wineries on it, and set out.  We made it to the first one ok - Escorihuela Gascon - the first winery in Mendoza, founded in 1884.  This one essentially existed before the city of Mendoza had even really grown up, though there was an infamous earthquake long before this winery existed which is said to have “leveled the city”, so obviously a city must have existed to be leveled.  Anyhoo, so the legend has it, the Escorihuela winery was an integral part to the growth of wine making in this area.  I’m sure there are similar counterparts in Napa Valley of California, for example.  After a nice experince at Escorihuela, we left and rode.  And rode.  And rode.  It was hot, with the damn hot mountain winds coming down, and dirty too.  Just as we started to get too tired and unhappy about the whole experience to be able to make it to the 2nd winery, my rear tire went flat, making our decision for us.  The tour company guy came and rescued us and drove us to the winery.  This one - Weinert - was founded about 1940.  It had an absolutely gorgeous and cavernous cellar, filled with giant oak casks, not the itty-bitty oak barrels one often sees in winemaking.  The picture is the most famous of these, and holds 44000 liters of wine.  You couldn’t drink all that in your entire life even if you tried!  They explained how grapes are first selected, then mashed, then fermented to creat the alcohol, then a second fermentation, then a filtration step, and then an aging step in oak (from France or the US, apparently).  Finally it is ready to be bottled and sold to be enjoyed.  The first winery guy, Pablo, told us that Mendoza is the 7th greatest wine making capital in the world, according to the industry or whatever.

So it was cool, but we really noted that wine tasting is done a bit differently here than in the states.  You have to especially ask for “flights” of wine tasting here.  We may do this tomorrow.

This whole experience certainly goes to show that when so many things are out of your control as a traveler, you can’t always expect it all to work out perfectly.  Part of the lessons of the journey, I suppose.


Jun 19 2009

Hot Mendoza winds

Monica

There is a typical seasonal wind here in Mendoza referred to as Zonda. It´s a hot dry wind that comes from the near by Andes (means that it´s snowing on the mountain). It´s pretty amazing actually to have these hot winds come in on a winter day and turn what would normally be a cool day very warm.  The winds are strong and blows leaves around the city with such force causing a beautiful dance in the sky. I love the wind so this was especially beautiful to me….even though it also blew around a lot of dust and dirt too. I am going to sit outside tonight and drink the bottle of wine purchased from one of the wineries we visited today.

Salud!

Breathe

Breathe


Jun 18 2009

¡Nuevos amigos en Buenos Aires y en el mundo!

Bodhi

With new friends from Academia Buenos Aires at Cafe Tortoni

With new friends from Academia Buenos Aires at Cafe Tortoni

On the night of Friday June 12, we went out with new friends from spanish school at Academia Buenos Aires.  The picture is us in a famous old cafe in BA which is over 150 years old.  It is famous for tango, of course, and many greats have spent much time here.  Ironically, the two friends that motivated this as the meeting place never showed, but we had wine here anyway and enjoyed it before heading out to the next stop.

In the picture are Toby, from England, me and Moni, Alicia, from Australia, Gys, from Canada, and Anthony and Anna from US (Minnesota).  Of course there were many other cool folks we met at the school as well.  One of the greatest things me and Moni liked about the school was the feeling of community they have successfully fostered there.

After Cafe Tortoni, we cabbed over to San Telmo (our ‘hood) to look for food.  After a few attempts, we ended up in a Uruguayan chivito restaurant.  It had the feeling of a tourist college bar, and the food to match, i.e. terrible and you need beer to choke it down.  But whatever, we were there with some friends and just out to have fun.  We enjoyed getting to know each other some more, talked about how we might be able to visit each other again in various parts of the world, and wrapped up about 1 a.m.  For added excitement, the power in the restaurant went out randomly as did several others on the block, and they brought out candles.  At least it ended the annoyingly loud live music from inside which they charged us extra to “enjoy” with our meal.  I did enjoy the spanish version of Piano Man, though.

Down to 3, Moni, me, and Gys wandered to our favorite cafe (which are really more like bars here) El Federal and had porto and a bottle of wine to cap off the night.  Of course we end up in a philosophical conversation about life at 3 in the morning :)  This is what makes traveling so special!  Thanks Gys for the special times and sharing your culture with us!


Jun 15 2009

The Devil’s Throat - The Movie

Bodhi


Jun 15 2009

Images from the day.

Monica

A few pics from the day. I´m still unable to upload photos from my Canon (grrr), so here anyway are some snap shots. Links to our photo gallery will be posted one day soon.

Behold!

Behold!

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