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Intermezzo [12 Jun 2008|05:48pm]
[ mood | loved ]

Collapse )
4 comments|post comment

Bolivia [31 Aug 2007|12:59am]

La Paz, Copacabana and a rainy day on the Isla del SolCollapse )
8 comments|post comment

The return of the kaderkes! [08 Aug 2007|01:18pm]
Whoohoo! Borders are back! This makes me childishly happy. Thank you LJ for no longer screwing up my journal. Maybe now I'll continue posting. :)
4 comments|post comment

Salar de Uyuni [25 Jun 2007|07:55pm]

Welcome to Planet BoliviaCollapse )
15 comments|post comment

Chile, wéon! [20 Jun 2007|07:43pm]

Santa Cruz, Valparaiso & SantiagoCollapse )
8 comments|post comment

Home [07 Jun 2007|07:10pm]
Yo, no soy yo, por lo menos no soy el mismo yo interior.
6 comments|post comment

Mendoza [25 May 2007|12:56am]

Bikes, wine, horses and the AndesCollapse )
9 comments|post comment

Córdoba [17 May 2007|05:37pm]

Dome sweet domeCollapse )
5 comments|post comment

BsAs [23 Apr 2007|03:55am]

Mi Buenos Aires queridoCollapse )
13 comments|post comment

A week in the Belgium of South America [26 Mar 2007|10:18pm]

UruguayCollapse )
15 comments|post comment

Then I went home and blogged about it. [07 Mar 2007|11:03pm]
My last week in Rio turned out to be quite different than what I had imagined it to be, and not in a good way. After carnival, the people I had been hanging out with and had been sharing fun moments with, started leaving one by one... First there was Chris, Marcia´s friend from Leeds, the next day our Spanish friend Rocio returned to Madrid, a few days later followed by my dear friend Seth who left last Thursday. Then finally on Monday Pieter, the really cool Dutchman I had travelled with in Peru, moved on as well. To top it off, Raissa had to join her mom on a trip to visit some relatives, so I was left pretty much by myself. Now all of this is part of travelling solo and, in itself, would be no big deal.

The day Seth left, Marcia´s friend Hil arrived. No bad word about her. The next day Hil and I decide to catch some sun at the beautiful Ipanema beach, just two blocks away from here. After an hour of tanning, I decide to go for a quick splash in the water and refresh myself. As I get up, I ask Hil, who was no more than 2 feet away from me, to keep an eye on my stuff. She gives me an absent-minded nod. Upon my return from the refreshing water about two minutes later, I find my shorts, which I used as a pillow, to be missing. As I inquire about the whereabouts of my beloved AE shorts, Hil seems as bewildered by their absence as I am. Cursing and pissed off to find myself in this situation once again after two previous robberies in the past months, the feeling gets worsened by the realization that for once, I decided to take my pocket camera to the beach today, carrying it in one of the cargo pockets. Because I don´t have any beach pictures yet. Other than the camera holding pretty much all my carnival pictures and the shorts, I also lost R$50 and my Visa card, which were hidden in a special interior pocket my mom had sewn into all my gear before I left. So much for a quiet day on the beach.

Today being my last full day in Rio, I had hoped to spend it with Raissa and my wonderful host Marcia. After a dozen or so unfruitful attempts to reach Raissa and plan a fun day together, I settle for a day of bumming on the beach and behind the computer, much like any other day in the past week. While waiting for Marcia to come home from work, she calls me and invites me to join her and her colleagues for drinks in a nearby Irish pub. Half an hour later I walk out of the apartment and start making my way to the bar, which is located some 300m farther. As I turn the first corner on my way, I run into a gang of about 8 teenage guys, who ask in a way that can be described as anything but polite what time it is. Que horas são?! Exchanging a look with some of the guys, I get a feeling they are up to no good, mumble something and try to get passed them. A few guys block the way, and I try to return in the direction I had come. At this point one of the older guys, which I doubt was over 18, comes running towards me, pulling up his shirt and fetching a knife from his pants, lifting it in the air in an attempt to stab me. As the knife comes down, I act on the reflexes 16 years of judo training taught me and use my forearm to block the knife making its way towards my body. In a simultaneous judo move, I grab the guy´s forearm and drag him to the ground. As I hit the ground together with my aggressor, the other guys come running toward me, going straight for my pockets and their contents. Before the attack, I had already taken out the R$36 I had in my right pocket and was holding it in my hand. In an attempt to get the guys off of me, I throw the money behind me and yell Para lá!, indicating that the money was no longer on me. Being preoccupied with making sure the guy with the knife doesn´t try to stab me again, I don´t notice one of the other guys yanking out the borrowed cell phone from my left pocket. In the struggle, I do manage to grab a R$20 note which had apparently fallen away from the smaller notes. At that point, I hear a guy across the street whistle and shout something. Whether it was someone coming to my rescue or one of the favela gang members warning his fellow thugs for nearing cops, I don´t know. Nor did I care at that moment. I just saw them running away, sprinting off into the night. With plenty of adrenaline pumping in my veins, I get up and start running towards the bar, where I meet Marcia and her colleagues. I have a beer or two but can´t quite get into the party mood, so I leave the bar and head home.

I think it´s time I got out of this town.
20 comments|post comment

Rio and the long road to it. [01 Mar 2007|11:20pm]
Getting back to Rio de Janeiro proved to be quite a challenge. First there was the part of getting out of Iquitos, Peru. Since Iquitos is the biggest city on earth without any roads leading to it, I was left with two options of getting out of there, on to Ecuador. My first option consisted of taking a flight back South to Lima and then a bus up North, which would have set me back some USD120 but would have gotten me to Ecuador within 24h. My second option involved spending another 3 days in a hammock on a boat in the Amazon basin, then an entire day of travelling over just 80km (road under construction, resulting in having to wait for 9h for it to open), another 17h bus ride and then two more buses good for another 11h of bus fun, before reaching the Ecuadorian border. Obviously, I went for the latter.

In Ecuador, I made a 2h stop in the beautiful historical city of Cuenca before travelling on to the town of Guamote, where my Belgian friend Liesbet has been working for an NGO for the past 6 months. My bus journeys continued the next day, however, since Liesbet and her boyfriend Koen invited me to join them to the DJ Tiesto concert in Quito, which meant another 5h bus ride up North. The original plan was to return to Guamote the next morning but I decided to hang out in Quito for the next two days, since that worked out better for everyone´s schedule. After another day in Guamote I returned to Quito early morning to catch my 6PM flight to Rio. I enjoyed a cheap 1 dollar meal and decided to leave for the airport early, so I wouldn´t have to stress out about anything last minute. To say that didn´t quite turn out to be the case, would be a major understatement.

The line at the check-in was long and moved painfully slowly. Still blissfully unaware of the red tape that was about to strangle me, I patiently awaited my turn. Finally reaching the check-in counter, I hand over my passport, United Airlines membership card and the yellow fever vaccination certificate I got after getting my yellow fever shot a few months ago in Curitiba, Southern Brazil. As the lady at the check-in counter examines my Brazilian yellow fever vaccination certificate, I get slightly worried as I hear her sigh a soft "Oh ohh". After checking with her superior, she informs me that my Brazilian certificate will not do, as Brazilian law requires all passengers travelling from Ecuador to Brazil to provide an international yellow fever certificate. Since any debate was lost on her, I had no choice but to follow her directions and get a cab to a nearby hospital, where she said a doctor would write me an international certificate within minutes. A 10 minute cab ride later, I find myself slightly stressed out in a hospital waiting room. I enter the doctor´s cabinet, where she informs me that this international certificate is going to cost me $35, which she later lowers to $15, as I could prove I had already gotten the shot. Apparently this Brazilian law also requires the shot to be administered at least 10 days before the date of travel, so the doctor reluctantly changes the date on her stamp and fills out the certificate. Trusting that, after many years of med school and extensive training, the doctor is capable of counting back 10 days, I don´t bother to check the date and hurry down, where the cab is waiting for me, its meter running. Time is running out and I am trying to calm myself down as the taxi makes its way back to the airport in the rush hour traffic. Arriving at the airport, I pay the driver the $10 fare and hurry back to the departure terminal.

Broad smile on my face, I walk over to the check-in counter and proudly hand over my newly acquired international certificate. As the lady at the check-in informs me that the date on the certificate is of February 5th, and therefore nine days before the date of travel in stead of 10, I find myself wanting to smash my head on the counter in a fit of distress like I´ve barely ever felt one in my life. Arguing that it would be the needed 10 days on the date of arrival in Brazil (I was supposed to land at 5AM the next day), proved to be useless. No time was left to go back to the hospital and change the date (the check-in would close within 20 minutes) yet the lady at the check-in suggested I asked one of the travel agents in the airport to help me alter the date on the stamp, using an eraser and charcoal paper. Trying to calm myself down and concentrating on how to explain this whole screwed-up situation in Spanish, I found a travel agent willing to help me, changing the date to February 1st. My third attempt didn´t seem to be any more successful than my first two, since the fraud was quite obvious. Right at the moment I started to lose all hope of getting on the plane, a senior check-in agent offered to help me out. Through a friend of hers, she would be able to obtain a false certificate, undetectable from the real thing. This would cost me another $40, but since it was the only way I would make it on that flight, I was happy to accept the deal. A few minutes later I was $40 poorer, yet the brand new owner of a very real looking international yellow fever vaccination certificate. The rest of the check-in process went smoothly and an hour later I was on the plane, ordering a double whiskey in an idle attempt to calm myself down after all the commotion and stress. The flight to São Paulo was sleepless and uneventful, and the same can be said about the bus ride to the terminal and the 6h ride on to Rio de Janeiro, where I finally arrived, exhausted after 26 hours of travelling.

From there on, things started looking up. At the bus terminal, I was awaited by my dear friend Raissa, who welcomed me to her beautiful city the same way she had done 4 months before: by a passionate kiss. After some initial trouble finding a place to stay, things sorted themselves out and Marcia, the wonderful girl who hosted me 4 months ago, took me in again. Since then, everything has been great: being in the marvelous city of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, surrounded by a bunch of old and new friends and dating a stunning and intelligent girl. I would have died a happy man... and I almost did.

During one of the last days of Carnival, my British friend and I joined Raissa and her friends for some beers on Ipanema beach during sunset. After a few hours of pleasant chatting and chilling on the beach, we walked Raissa and her friends to the bus stop. The saying goodbye took longer than I expected and the two beers I had drunk, wanted to make their way out, so I ran across the street to answer nature´s call in the park. As I crossed the street, I had a weird feeling that something bad was about to happen. After doing my thing, without any incidents, I felt relieved that nothing bad had happened and started to cross the street, making my way in between two buses who had stopped for the red traffic light. Since my sight was obstructed by the buses, I relied on my hearing and the reflection of headlights on the street to determine if there was a car coming in the second lane. Both stimuli seemed negative, so I took a step out on the second lane. Before I could realize what was going on, I saw the world spinning around me, while hearing a loud scream from the passenger in the car who had just hit me and catapulted me in the air, causing me to smack against the asphalt some 3m farther. Much to my (and every one else´s) amazement, I got up and walked away without even a scratch, reassuring the driver and bystanders I was fine. Estou bem, tudo bom. I truly am one lucky bastard.
13 comments|post comment

Taking the boat/road less travelled by... [07 Feb 2007|04:41pm]
I guess it was almost impossible to avoid: after travelling for close to 4 months, through 7 countries, today, for the first time, I had to check my Lonely Planet guidebook to know which city I was in. It turned out to be Piura, Peru.

In the past 5 days, I have been travelling hardcore... spent another 3 days on a boat in the Amazon, then an entire day travelling over just 80km (road was closed, which resulted in us having to wait around for 9 hours), 17h bus ride yesterday, 3 more this morning, and tonight and tomorrow I am looking at another 20+ hours of stuffy busses. Luckily I have the excellent Hemingway "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and a bottle of Peruvian rum to keep me company. Should be a blast. :)
13 comments|post comment

Good things will come to those who wait... [31 Jan 2007|05:50pm]

Some people have been asking about photos from my trip. As you might know, I am quite the perfectionist when it comes to the pictures I post on this blog, so you'll have to bear with me and wait until I find a computer with Photoshop before I upload any. My friend Marcia (my host in Rio), was nice enough to run this picture -taken in the Uyuni salt plains- though Photoshop, so I decided to upload it as a teaser for what is to come. Stay tuned! :)
7 comments|post comment

Welcome to the jungle [28 Jan 2007|02:11am]
As a birthday present to myself, I bought a plane ticket from Lima to Pucallpa since I really couldn't stand the thought of spending another 24+h in a crappy Peruvian bus... especially not after spending 3 consecutive nights in busses on my way to Lima.

As I arrived in Pucallpa, I took a motortaxi straight to the harbor and within half an hour from arriving, I was swinging in my hammock aboard a banana boat headed for Iquitos. Despite the very basic accomodations, the boat ride felt like a cruise and I was sad to see it come to an end already, after 3 days of sailing downstream. During the trip I got a fair amount of reading done: The Celestine Prophecy (AKA Tree Hugging for Dummies), and spent a lot of time with some new friends I met. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke when I talk about them: A Belgian, a Dutchman, a German and a Canadian were sitting on a banana boat in the Amazon...

In a few hours these same guys and I will be heading into the Peruvian jungle for a 3 day jungle expedition... It looks very promising and I am excited about the piranha fishing, cayman spotting, jungle treks, etc.

I'll be sure to report back on the trip if I survive... Until then, I leave you with one of the many beautiful phrases from my favorite book: On the Road.

...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'
7 comments|post comment

In random news [21 Jan 2007|07:09pm]
I was just sitting on the sidewalk at the Plaza de Armas, here in Arequipa, Peru, when a Peruvian girl started talking to me. We talked for 5 minutes or so, at the end of which she asked "Y Usted, es de España?".

I guess my Spanish has been improving quite a lot. :) Score!

Now I'm off for another 16h bus ride, to Lima. Third night in a row of "sleeping" on busses. Whooo. I guess that's one way of starting my birthday.
13 comments|post comment

Oye wéon, conche tu madre, cachai? [01 Jan 2007|10:23pm]

PichilemuCollapse )
14 comments|post comment

Santa Claus in Santa Cruz [24 Dec 2006|03:54pm]

As the above picture I shot in Buenos Aires might let you suspect, I had a hard time getting into the Xmas spirit this year, mainly because I'm not used to it being 35ºC around Xmas time. I might have to get used to it with global warming and all, but still, not quite there yet. Anyway. This morning I arrived into the town of Santa Cruz, Chile, where I'm hanging out with my Chilean friend Felipe, who I met when he was an exchange student at the same high school I attended. After spending a nice dinner with his extended family, I'm finally feeling the spirit of Xmas for the first time this year. My hope is that all of you get to experience a bit of the warmth... and I'm not talking about weather conditions here. Happy B-day J.C. and a merry Xmas to you all!

EDIT: Christmas Eve in ChileCollapse )
7 comments|post comment

POA [14 Dec 2006|01:51pm]

Porto AlegreCollapse )
7 comments|post comment

Floripa! [08 Dec 2006|01:56pm]

Beaches, BBQ, cachaça and a penthouseCollapse )
5 comments|post comment

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