worldwide walkabout the tiniest bird takes a walk.


torres del paine, chile

after many hours of bus and waiting for transfers (32 hours to be exact), i finally made it onto a bus to rio turbio. for several hours it felt like an absolute sauna! on the upside i was so happy to meet karina and mr. jakobsen, a delightful danish couple who were also going the same way. we spent two nights in puerto natales in a dive hostel danicar-the first night karina thought she found a bedbug in her bed. she said in a stern voice: Kill it. and it was true after all-i acquired my very own bedbug colony in my sleeping bag! no!

it was karina and mr. jakobsen's first big hike and we spent much time the next day searching for the perfect pair of waterproof hiking boots. they are now the proud owners of matching boots! since then they've done some hardcore ice climbing (ice picks, crampons, proper jackets) and it looks like they've made good use of their boots!

we spent the first day hiking together to the mirador of the torres (towers) and somehow we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather. gorgeous scenery!!! they carried on for 2 more days of trekking and me-well, i couldn't afford the $40/night refugios so i headed back to puerto natales. i wished that i could have carried on hiking with karina and mr. jakobsen, they were a fun and funny bunch!


mendoza and bariloche, argentina

mendoza is wine country; i was a bit bummed that i got stuck for an additional day. explored some nice gardens though and made the mistake of visiting a very depressing zoo where many of the li0ns, monkeys, and even meerkats were pacing around. i think some llamas were gearing up to spit on me as well, glad to have dodged that one.

san carlos de bariloche was a beautiful stop. it's located at the beginning of the patagonia region and the area is comprised of seven lakes and many snow capped mountain peaks. i was able to do a bit of hiking in the sun and rain and was able to see numerous rainbows throughout the day.


santiago and valparaiso, chile

i was off to a rough start in chile. i didn't exactly realize that 'reciprocity fee" was going to mean having to pay $131 to enter chile! the bus driver from the airport was particularly unfriendly and after i finally found a place to stay i went out for a bite to eat. wasn't sure what i would get when i ordered a vegetarian "completo" but heck it was veg. ended up with a giant hot dog bun, chopped tomatoes, a layer of smashed avocado, and a gigantic squiggle of mayonnaise. no!

in santiago i met andrew, an aussie who then introduced me to his crew  of english cats: matt, mike, ben and john. one of their main missions while traveling is to get butt naked in beautiful places and make photos of such endeavors. somehow i got wrangled into being the photographer and we all justify it by saying "it's for the children" (?) the boys are making a calendar which they will sell in order to raise money for an argentinian orphanage where matt and mike volunteered at.

we celebrated ben's 25th birthday in valparaiso and ate lots of cake. t'was a wonderful day at the beach.

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on keeping paranoia under raps

south america (or parts of) is known to be notoriously unsafe. in general i've felt pretty good about being here, although i have felt less inclined to have my cameras out and about: i've met way too many travelers who have had their cameras nicked. i think some guys tried to rob me on the bus in peru-they spilled water all over the floor and tried to store my bag in the overhead shelves behind me. having had the prior experience of being "helped" (and subsequently robbed) i declined. the guys got off the bus 5 minutes later and i think tried again to distract me.

recently two of my friends were robbed: one opportunistically in the bus station in valparaiso and the other at knife point while waiting for a pickup for  the inca trail. in the early morning. both lost a camera (or cameras!) and passports. my heart goes out to them.

to increase paranoia even more, i watched a film on the way from santiago to mendoza about two young women who get kidnapped in paris by the evil albanian mafia. their mission is to drug-trap women into prostitution. luckily one girl's father is an ex-cia agent and manages to kill every albanian (sans personal injury despite the amount he was shot at) and rescue his daughter. unluckily, the other girl overdoses and is found dead. moral of the story: don't talk to handsome strangers because they may be involved in a plot to kidnap you. noted.

to top it all off, while we were in santiago and valparaiso, my new friend mike took it as his hobby to have me think there was a ferocious dog about to nip at my ankle again...thanks mike.

trying to keep paranoia at a minimum, vigilance at a maximum, and above all-trying to have a good time.


cuzco and return to lima

i had been warned that i would love love love cuzco. true! what a gorgeous place.

however, my perception of the place became different after finding out that my friend noorje got mugged in the early morning while waiting to be picked up for an inca trail tour. my heart goes out to her-she was robbed of her passport and Both of her cameras.


machu! picchu!!!!, peru

off to an early start! woke up at 3:40 am in order to begin the trek up to machu picchu! it rained and rained and for some strange reason my rain gear wasn't seeming to work in this climate. was cold and grumpy temporarily. however, i was lucky enough to score one of the limited tickets for the journey to the vista overlooking machu picchu. the hike up to wayna picchu was a steep and muddy one!

all this time i was certain that the peruvian postcards of machu picchu had superimposed images of llamas. not true! in fact there are 17 of peru's most handsome llamas employed as the lawnmowers of machu picchu. i like that. i also liked when the rain stopped and the clouds in the valley cleared. to reveal beautiful colors and landscapes! finally got to dry out my rotting shoes which had been wet for several days! yes.

machu picchu was even more gorgeous than i could have imagined. perhaps i figured that the postcards i saw were magical moments in lighting-but seriously, it really looks like that! amazing day.


hike and bike, peru

because machu picchu had been closed for two months due to flooding, the train station was an absolute madhouse. after trying for some time to get train tickets, i decided to opt for a hike and bike tour. i felt dubious about taking another tour, especially after all of the bolivia insanity but it ended up being ok for the most part...

caught a lift by van to the highest point-from there most of us descended 2,000 meters by bicycle. it was very cold, foggy, and rainy at the top. the area is still currently working out landslide-ness and water issues so it was an exciting journey! by the time we got to the bottom of the valley it was sunny and warm. (but we were absolutely soaked!) from there i was so sad to leave my new friends but i had signed up for a 3 day tour and had to skip ahead a day to the next group.

by the end of picking everyone up in a public taxi, we had 9 people and loads of luggage crammed into a sedan. the insane one-lane, two-direction mountain roads made me think i had made the right decision to not pay for a tour on death road in la paz! i was getting a free sample all one point we were right at the edge of the cliff to let an industrial cami0neta by. at another point the driver kicked all the men (and me) out of the taxi and told us to run through the muddy landslide portion of the road (in the dark).

when i arrived in santa teresa and my guide wasn't there to meet me as promised, i felt finished for the day. by a giant stroke of chance, i met my new group when i was scrounging dinner-it was nice to join a small group of four instead of being in the previously giant group of 19! i had apparently missed a very insane day of hike/make-your-own-bridge-out-of-a-fallen-tree-to-cross-a-river-day!

the next day of hiking in the valley and along the railroad tracks was neat. it rained on and off and we rode two or three at a time on primitive cable cars in order t cross very gushing rivers!


glam shots with sandra!

sandra and i got the funny idea to take glamour shots in the local bolivian studio. we borrowed various props and outfits and obeyed when the photographer prodded "sonreeeeeeeesa." after the shoot she asked if i was a photographer, offered me a job, and asked for a lighting lesson. i was really surprised when i picked up the photos-they had added in some special backgrounds for us. i especially like sandra's portrait:


potosi and sucre, bolivia

it was a long dusty bus ride to potosi! my friend sandra and i barely made it to the bus due to the ongoing negotiations for hotel reimbursement from our tour. in the end clement found us at the bus station right before our bus left!

both potosi and sucre are beautiful unesco world heritage cities. i still have to ask the internet what it means to be a unesco site...

in potosi it was a bit difficult to breathe at 4070 meters! it was also chilly and i climbed into my sleeping bag, pulled over 4 layers of heavy blankets and fell asleep at 6:30 pm! (perhaps was still recovering from food poisoning)

the casa real de la moneda was neat with its relics associated with coin production. it also housed many oil paintings from the 1600's and onward, as well as antiques, and even mummies.

after potosi we headed to sucre, white city which was a beautiful stop before heading on another long bus journey:


uyuni madness part 1, bolivia

t´was a bit of a rough start in bolivia; at the border i seemed to be the only one from the u.s.a. who forked over the $135 for a bolivian visa-everyone else simply got stamped in! i arrived in uyuni in the early morning and got rejected for an hour by hostels after 22 hours of bus journey. when i finally got settled into a room for a nap, there was an abrupt knock at the door. a grumpy old lady told me that i had to shift rooms. so i did. very. grumpily.

the next day i departed for a tour of the world´s biggest salt flats. sat on the curb for over an hour wondering whether or not someone had forgotten about me...alas no. the group consisted of: 1 guide (bolivian) and 5 tourists (4 french, 1 english, and me). my spanish was by far the worst of the group and for most of the time i felt like the mute, incompetent stepchild. i think it didn't help that i am from the times.

the first day we visited the salt hotels and miniature town of colchani where i was bitten on the ankle by a dog. i had just finished a gabriel garcia marquez novel about a girl who had also been bitten on the ankle by a rabid dog and subsequently was thought to be possessed by demons. several people asked me whether i had had the rabies vaccinations (of course not! the series of 3 shots costs about $1000). so far no signs of rabies, unless throwing up or mud-butting are symptoms.

we traversed the flats to see the volcano tunupa and stayed the night at a hostel at the base of the volcano.

here are some of the nicer moments: