A Travellerspoint blog

No money, time to go home

Time flies when you're having fun. True that. I'm getting ready to head back to the United States in a few days (only as far as my brother's couch in Texas). I feel very content with my trip as a whole. I've met my only concrete goal of travelling through central and south america for one year! What a year it's been.

My goal of updating my blog every week did not happen (not even close). I hope to do some post blogging when i get back to the states...we'll see how that goes. I´m hoping to continue my professional bum attitude, but i also need money so i'll have to look for a job eventually.

It wasn´t easy for me to load pictures on this blog site. If anyone is interested in checking out some of my photos, i have a flickr site. www.flickr.com/photos/brendababy/

hasta pronto.

Posted by stargaze 15:56 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

llamas & ruins in Peru

-17 °C

Taking the slow boat into Peru from Colombia was great. Bought a hammock, some water and a book to read. Fantastic. Things are nice and easy on the slow boat down the Amazon River. The boat left much to be desired. Luckily we were able to hang our hammocks upstairs where it wasn´t as crowded (or smelly).

Did some chilling in Huaraz, Peru. Beautiful mountains, lots of serious trekkers. Emma and i opted for a nice horseback trip into the mounatins. Extremely cold the night we camped. Yes. I AM from alaska. No. I do not like the cold.

Peru took some time to grow on me. I did fall in love with the local women´s dress. Full skirts brightly colored skirts, with equally as bright shawls and hats perched on their heads. Absolutely gorgeous. Of course once again had a hard time blending in...don´t think they get many blacks in the northern part of Peru.

Finally made our way to Cusco. Complete change. Tourists everywhere. Tons of bars. Stayed at a great hostel up a steep hill called hostal inka i think. kick ass backyard with an amazing view or cusco. i believe this is where my love for mate de coca started -- tea made from coca leaves, helps with altitude sickness and warms you up too.

We took the 'alternative' route to Macchu Picchu. A night bus on a very bumpy road (unable to sleep). Followed by a mini van ride that was too crowed. Emma and i were not allowed to sit on the top (even though the locals just hopped up there no problem). Instead we were crammed in like fricken sardines. Having to listen to the bitchiest group of israeli princess-want-to-bes, who had the most room in the whole van (being in the front seat). Then we walked for a couple hours in the early morning to Hydroelectrica (not a town at all). Walked for a few more hours along the railroad tracks until we got to the strangest town called Aguas Caliente. Found a cheap hotel, got some much needed sleep. Woke up the next morning at 4:30 to climb an hour and a half to see Macchu Picchu at sunrise.

Macchu Picchu was surreal. Hardly any of the lazy asses that take the train and bus up were there yet. There was an early morning mist and the most amazing inca ruins. Breathtaking. We spent the day exploring. As the day wore on huge groups of before mentioned lazy asses also arrived. Apparently over 1500 people visit Macchu Picchu everyday. Not only were the ruins amazing, but also the llamas everywhere were cool too.

Peru was the first counrty that i truely felt like i was in south america. Tons of ruins in Peru, locals wore their heritage with pride and all the damn llamas, llamas everywhere!

Posted by stargaze 13:35 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Colombia

I guess i´ll have to reach wayyyyyyy back in the memory and see if i can do justice to the last couple months. Made my way from Panama to Colombia via airplane. my plan to find a boat to work on, did not happen. good thing probably with pirates, crazy captains and my sub par swimming skills it could have gotten ugly. instead the flight was short easy and cheaper than by boat. i was a little nervous about going to colombia...but all the travellers i had talked to that had been there assured me it was amazing and safe.

flew in to cartegena with my travel buddy sabine (we travelled together for over a month i think). Cartegena is on the caribbean coat and had a island vibe. beautiful plazas, the old city is enclosed in a wall and very quaint. the ceviche off the street was delicios and i discoverd arapeas, maize like round biscuts filled with CHEESE and grilled. love at first bite for me. i think cartegena had the best areapas in colombia, and i had at least one a day (usually two).

it was semana santa week and the town was hoping. meet lots of locals that were living it up. there was a great little cuban salsa bar that overloooked the main plaza. lots of great public art and just a vibrant fun city.

from cartegena headed to taganga and park tyronna. park tyronna is a national park that has absoluetey beautiful beaches. a group of about 6 travellers, bought food and water and took the bus north and hiked out to the park, couple hours to the nicest becah. was chilled, mellow and fabulous. we (actaully Phillipe from venice) did most of the cooking on the open fire pit. we spent many nights looking at the amazing stars and just hanging out. Loved listening to Javier´s crazy stories. javier is from spain and taught me an important spanish word joder (hope that´s spelled right).we stayed there for 5 days i think.

We headed to medellin next. Sabine and i went paragliding there. beautiful, peaceful and not too expensive. Medellin has a great metro and we were able to explore the city, check out local art for a few days.

From Medellin we went to Salento. It´s a magical city set in the mountains in the heart of the coffee region. The night we got in to town it was dark and POURING rain. we got completely soaked trying to find the platation house (hostal). they were full, but managed to find beds for us after a bit of scrambling. the next morning i woke up to the beauty of salento. lush green hills. mountains in every direction, parrots, hummingbirds in a word paradise. i was instantly taken under its spell. we went for a couple walks and had the great pleasure of meeting perdo and his family. Perdo has a cute cafe in town that we stopped in one day for a cup of excellent coffee. we talked with pedro for 5 hours. he explained the coffee making process and let us sample many tasty coffee products. he offered to take us out to his cafe finca the next day. it was amazing. we walked around while perdo described the plants, trees and an¡mals on his farm. we picked coffee right from the tree. (yes coffee does indeed grow on trees. it does not start with coffee beans a grinder and french press first thing in the morning) . he showed us the entire coffe making process without chemicals and completly natural.

i was so enamored with salento that when pedro offered to let me stay with his family in exchange for teaching them some english, i jumped at the chance and spent an amazing week and a half practicing my spanish, teaching simple phrases to pedro´s family and maria and jaimie. maria and jaime ran the restaurant attached to the cafe. i slept there in a room and was fed great food and had my fill of coffee. everyone was so friendly and kind i still can´t believe my luck. it was an amazing stay. i was sad to leave, but had planned to meet up with friends in bogota.

Bogota. Planned on staying 3 or 4 days, stayed 10. Actually my whole trip to colombia was a pleasant surprise and i ended up staying most places much longer than i had anticipated. I thought that i´d visit colombia, head south to ecuador passing through colombia for a week or two. i ended up staying for a little over six weeks and skipping ecuador all together. it´s good to be flexible.

OK. i´ll try to sum up bogota. Great cosmopolitan city with lots of college students, busniess folks, art, music. bars, museums, dance clubs. Loved it. The gold museum was beautiful and interesting. i loved the third floor. there´s this cool circular room with a door that closes and you find yourself in a dark room. slowly objects are illuminated and set to music, it´s so fricken cool. I visited that room 4 times. yep. loved it.

I meet up with my friend emma in bogota and decided to get a slow boat though the rainforest bordering colombia, brazil and peru. we had to fly to a small town called leticia. no roads led to leticia. everyone gets around by motorcycles and scooters. pretty cool. did you know that whole families can fit on scooters? mom, dad couple of kids no problem. from there we ended up trying to figure out when the boat left, how to get there, what we´d need...took some time but we finally got the right stamps and got on a taxi boat set for peru! but the boat didn´t leave until the next day so we stayed in brazil for one night. BRAZIL! really cool. no stamp in passport but still. i was in fricken brazil! From there the trip took a whole different pace. ciao colombia. hola peru.

Posted by stargaze 08:37 Comments (2)

No mas Central America

rain

I´ve made the official leap from central america and am now in south america. i left nicaragua with very mixed feelings. granada, nicaragua was an amazing place to spend a couple months. even though i was ready to move on after working 6 weeks at bearded monkey and volunteering with La Esperanza, i do miss everything about that place...

my last night of work was St. Patty´s Day. didn´t do much work really, but it sure was fun! from work went to a party at some friends at la esperanza. always good times... it was a fantastic way to say goodbyes and get ready to move on.

Garreth and i left granada and headed back to Ometepe. Stayed at Santa Domingo on the beach and just relaxed. getting around the island can be challenging. we attempted to walk to merida. due to our usual late start, we basically walked for a few hours in the heat before being forced to jump on the last bus back to Santo Domingo without actually reaching merida. it was a hot dusty walk, but we did get to see a local farmer, 'transporting a bull'. yeah that was cool. he had a rope tied to the bulls head and basically it would start running off the road or just stop in the middle of the road. so the farmer would 'help encourage the bull to get going' and it would run full speed down the hill that we were walking up. we decided to give the bull plenty of room and just watched the show.

there are plenty of fincas (farms) on ometpe. we had the great pleasure of finding some lively english guys (whom we met in granada) on finca benito, just a stroll downhill, through the woods, over, under and around the barbed wire fence from finca magdelana. we managed to pick a great day to show up. they had just killed a pelibuey (looks like a goat, but is anatomically a sheep) that morning and were preparing a feast with plenty for all that night. they quickly put us to work with the important task of walking to the nearest town (about 30 minutes each way) with empty packs to bring beer for the festivities. it was a great night sharing tales and eating a tasty meal around the campfire.

i´ve now tried pelibuey meat as well as heart, liver and kidneys -heart is best, ants --they DO taste like carrots and iguana...well i´m not sure what else because many menus have carne de rez --not sure what kind meat it is exactly...

Ometepe was one of the few places i visited twice. both times were great, but once you get on the island it´s difficult to leave. literally. the first time there was no early bus to the boat, so i waited by the side of a dirt road for 3 hours. first the locals told me the bus was running late adn then the story changed to it will come in maybe an hour. finally a packed little minivanish bus came. it was packed full and i think the locals didn´t expect me to get on. yeah right! i hopped on that thing and endured the bumpy uncomfortable ride for all it was worth. until they told me to get off in the middle of nowhere for another bus that i had no idea was coming or not. luckily a real bus(colorfully painted school bus) came and i was able to get to myogalpa and back to mainland.

the second attempt to leave was similar. no bus, so we started walking to the next town. after walking forever (ok maybe 45 minutes to an hour) in the heat of the day, a truck stopped and let us hop in back. SWEET! unfortunately it wasn´t that easy. it seems the locals have an ongoing disareement with the municipality about boats leaving the island or something to that effect. so they had blocked the roads. after a couple hours in the back of this truck, driving on the beach, up a 'path' of huge bolders, taking back roads, meeting yet another road block we finally made it, but of course had missed the boat and had to wait a couple hours for the next one. i must admit i was really impressed with both the locals demanding to be heard and the family that would not give up on finding an alternate route. i think if americans were more involved in the world around them, things could change dramatically. anyway it was great to see the entire island.

made my way back through costa rica. spent a couple glorious days in san jose before heading for panama, alone again. wasn´t too eager about panama...other than seeing the panama canal (which is truely amazing), and finding a boat to colombia i didn´t have many expectations. i was pleasantly surprised. bocas del torro was great for some partying (great happy hour) and beaches. panama city was amazing. people compare it to miami with all the high rises next to the ocean. stayed at this hostal that was on the 8th floor in the middle of the city with an amazing view & met lots of great people. i ended up travelling to colombia with a couple people i met in panama. phillip is from austria and was determined to get a job on a boat to colombia. i glued myself to his side and we went to numerous yatch clubs trying to find captains to take us aboard. no luck. probabaly a blessing in disguise. heard lots of stories about boats that were packed with too many people, not enough food for the voyage, being seasick for 5 days straight and even a couple guys who decided to get off the boat after the first day because it was too dangerous to sail. not to mention the very real threat of pirates, my not so great swimming skills, and non interest in hiking the darien gap, flying was a better option.

i ended up flying and travelling with a girl from switzerland named sabine, whom i´ve been travelling with for the last few weeks. looking down from the airplane window, seeing miles of endless ocean peppered with tiny white dots (i assume those were boats) i must admit i was happy to be flying and not tossed around like a ragdoll.

walking in the main plaza in cartegena, colombia a guy walks by saying -- coca? cocaine? cocaine! COCAINE! yep must be in colombia. after talking to many other travellers i decided to add colombia to my list of places to visit. everyone insisted that it´s not as dangerous as all the news reports in the states would have you believe...and i agree. so far colombia has been beautiful and most people are very friendly. of course there are plenty of people (especially travellers) that hate americans and that can be uncomfortable, but i don´t have to be everyone´s friend so that´s fine.

arriving into cartegena, colombia was so easy. people were friendly and things were farily simple. the old town is beautiful with colonial buildings. it´s enclosed in a wall with cannons on the outer edges to protect the city back in the day. tons of public art and great music and dancing clubs. the street food is amazing. i LOVE arapas. a corn like dough fried and stuffed with cheese, only 1 mil - about 85 cents (i think i had 2 everyday i was there). i was there during semana santa (holy week, easter) and met so many colombians ready to party. they know how to party. use your imagination. colombia. crazy good times.

made my way to taganga, mellow fishing village with an amazing number of israeli travellers, (menus are in spanish and hebrew). from there headed north to park tyronna. after an hour bus ride a 2 hour hike, you find some of the most beautiful beaches in colombia. slept in a hammock under the stars, truely peaceful...well except for the falling coconuts. seriously no joke. apparently people (mainly tourists) are killed by falling coconuts. makes you think twice about where to hang your hammock.

just got to medallin, colombia yesterday morning after a 16 hour night bus ride...shit man south america is HUGE. i´ll have to get used to long ass bus rides and stock up on the valium. cool town with a few colleges and the only metro in colombia. started raining last night and still coming down today, so it´s a good day to do the email thing. plan on exploring the city tomorrow and looking in to paragliding here too. fairly inexpensive. will be here for a couple/few days before heading to bogota and south towards ecuador. finally replaced my camera, now i just need a memeory card and hope to post new pic soon. ciao

Posted by stargaze 15:34 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

muy occupado en granada, nicaragua

sunny 23 °C

living in granada is pretty sweet. i've been here for about a month. first couple weeks i hung out, drank, did lots of reading, visited laguna de apolya and just enjoyed the town. thank god i had some down time because now i'm crazy busy. i am bartending at this cool hostel called bearded monkey. i get a room of my own that is NOT in the hostal, it's 4 blocks away in a waldorf school. i also get a couple meals on days i work. not a bad gig. of course there's a lot of bull i put up with and dealing with drunks (when i'm pretty sober, gets old). i've decided that when things get crappy i will just make myself a nice strong drink. f*ing brilliant!

i also found a great organization called La Esperanza that i'm volunteering with in the mornings. they work with 4 schools outside of granada. the communities are really poor and many students need extra help with basic skills. i'm helping out the preschool class. i've been hit, spit on (twice), had things thrown at me, one kid swept the floor and decided to dump the full dustpan on my head !NO ME GUSTA! (they hear that a lot from me) i've tried to help kids that are screaming and yelling on the floor, doesn't usually go well. crazy. i should never complain about teaching in the states again. there are 40 kids in class but usually only 30 to 35 show up most days. there was an aide the first day of school, but she never returned. the teacher locks the classroom gate/door so kids can't wander out of the room and swing or just goof off. (which also means kids are often locked out of the classroom) kids hit each other, throw toys, scream, yell, spit and generally behave badly. they get away with a lot of crap!

even though it's crazy. i'm getting used to the madness and the kids are getting used to me and it's more and more fun each day. i'm very excited to be working with an organization that directly impacts the local communities. i work my ass off. after 4 months without working (think i'd be ready for some work, but no, not so) working these spilt shifts are kicking my ass... i go home mid afternoons and sleep for an hour or two (if i'm lucky) before going to work. guess i like to do things the hard way. i'll be staying here for another 6 weeks or so before continuing to panama and figuring out how the hell i'm going to get to south america.

thanks to everyone that's left a comment or said hello. i'm not really homesick, but i miss my friends dearly. mucho amor siempre. B

Posted by stargaze 09:14 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

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