Tag Archives: Travel

And I’m Proud To Be An American

Where at least I’m kind of free.  At least my refills are free.

Yes, I have reluctantly landed back on American Soil.  I have been here, in Los Angeles, for about 48 hours now, and I’m not too happy about it.  My final month in South America was wild and fun filled.  Most of it was spent in Buenos Aires, what many call the Paris of the south but what I found to be much more akin to New York City.  This isn’t going to be a full article on my time there, since I still have yet to organize and upload pictures.  When I do write my piece on it, I will have a large number of complaints to file, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.  I adored the nightlife, which begins at 2am, and though I don’t think I could do it for more than the month that I did, I experienced some of the most fun clubs, interesting cocktails, and inexhaustible crowds I’ve ever seen.  I also am proud to say that my pen pal of 6 years, Lucho, who I had never met, was able to come from his small city north of BA to visit me, and I adored him.  I don’t think I have ever before met someone with whom I have felt such a strong connection in such a small amount of time.  Unfortunately I had to leave him behind, but I hope our friendship grows.  But more on that mess later.

For now, I’m focusing all of my efforts on getting out of Los Angeles and back to the haven of the east coast.  Fortunately I have been able to book a cheap ticket to Boston for this coming Monday.  I plan on spending some time with the wonderful friends I have there, and then heading back to my home in Maine where I will crawl into my bed and weep quietly for a while and eat lots of American food and watch Battlestar Gallactica on my computer, before rising again to reasses and move on.  Odds are that I will be spending a month or so in Maine recooping before picking up and moving to Ohio to live with my sister and her boyfriend Luke in Columbus.  I just can’t stop moving, which may be beginning to manifest itself as a problem.

When I left Buenos Aires, the hot weather was quietly slipping into a subtle fall.  Now I’m here in LA and winter is blooming into spring.  How fitting it has been, to spend this transitional time of my life in such shifting times of year.  I can’t believe it was only 6 months ago since I went into the sleep study.  Now that money is gone and I feel like a different person.  I’m terribly sad to have to end my adventure in those mind boggling places with those complexly wonderful people I met.  At times like these, I think most travelers feel worn and confused, and it’s difficult to see into the nebulous space in front of me.  I have to enter it, just like I entered Peru, with fear and worry, but try to grapple for some faith that whatever comes next will be ok, and probably wonderful.

For now, I’m thankful more than anything for friends.  For Laura, Diana and Kyle who became so close to me in such a short time as we adventured together, and now for Brandon, Kady and Krystyna who are sheltering me in this City of Angelish things to protect me from completely losing my mind.

And as for the blog?  It’s going to be doing some transitioning as well.  In the nearish future I’m hoping to take some classes on web design and blogging, to get this baby up to full speed.  Soon I’ll be buying a domain name and moving all this to a bigger and more organized space.  Keep an eye out.  For now, I hope you keep reading as I catch up on the stuff I’ve left out:  the rest of the sleep study, more creative writing, more on volunteering in Peru, Buenos Aires, Patagonia, Lima, travel tips, and my upcoming attempt to insert myself into the gay rights movement that I have neglected for so long.  Stay tuned, tell your friends, give me a thumbs up on stumble, and for christ’s sake leave a comment if the mood strikes you!

Blurble Updates

Turns out it´s a lot harder to keep up with this blog on weeks when I´m volunteering.  Not to mention an onslaught of goodbye and birthday parties.  So here is some easy to consume updatage:

  • Life continues to be tranquilo y divertido.
  • During one of aforementioned goodbye parties, I dropped my memory card to my camera, containing 200 picutres of my trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca, in the street.
  • Walking home one morning, I found the memory card wedged between two cobblestones in the street.  Before I could bend to pick it up, a taxi drove over it.
  • I retrieved the memory card, which appeared unharmed, but apprently suffered some internal injury that can only be cured in the US.
  • Hence, I´ve decided to keep both the pictures and the post about my trip to Puno on hold, which will also facilitate in making this bloggy more up to date.
  • I have made a Peruvian friend at a bar called The Muse, mostly a gringo joint, and he has asked me to help him work behind the bar on nights when he´s the only one working.  I did it once already, and I´m doing it tonight.  It´s fun, because when someone orders a vodka-mango, I get to slice up an entire mango and blend it in a blender.  The mangos here are like none others I have ever tried.
  • I am moving, once again, out of the hostel and into an apartment with Kyle and Diana, the couple I traveled with the Puno who are getting married, and a girl named Laura, who will be going to Buenos Aires with me in April.  The apartment is private, has hot showers all the time, is closer to the center of downtown, and half the price of what I´m paying now.
  • On the first day of April, when my apartment lease runs out, I will be traveling (on what medium is yet to be decided) to Buenos Aires with a few other people, some of whom are also yet to be decided. 
  • I will staying Buenos Aires for one and a half weeks, and then will be taking an 18 hour bus ride down to Patagonia to see Penguins, Glaciers and the end of the earth. 
  • After that, I will return to Lima where I will board a plane on April 22nd, and return back to the land of the freeish, The United States. 
  • Los Angeles to be specific.  Perhaps another trip to Disney Land.  Then eventually, somehow, back to Portland, Maine where I will rejoin the working force and attempt to figure out yet another way to avoid paying off my loans in full and staying in the same place.

PICTURE POST: A morning walk around downtown Cusco

What you see walking down the streets where I live.

What you see walking down the streets where I live.

Shoe Shining is Big in Cusco

Shoe Shining is Big in Cusco

San Pedro, the big open air market, where most things cost only a few cents.

San Pedro, the big open air market, where most things cost only a few cents.

 

The man drag inside San Pedro

The man drag inside San Pedro

A sack of fresh squeezed orange-carrot juice.  To-go in Peru means in a bag, no matter what.

A sack of fresh squeezed orange-carrot juice. To-go in Peru means in a bag, no matter what.

Some sort of rat-dog living a happy life in the San Pedro market.

Some sort of rat-dog living a happy life in the San Pedro market.

Avenida Del Sol, the busiest street in downtown Cusco.

Avenida Del Sol, the busiest street in downtown Cusco.

Plaza De Armas, the center of downtown Cusco

Plaza De Armas, the center of downtown Cusco

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

One of the ornate cathedrals in Plaza de Armas

One of the ornate cathedrals in Plaza de Armas

A college of science.

A college of science.

One of the many old walls of the city.

One of the many old walls of the city.

Yo tambien.

Yo tambien.

Back home for a warm cup of Mate de Coca.

Back home for a warm cup of Mate de Coca.

Liam as a Ted Kazcynski Look-Alike in Lima

DISCLAIMER:  If you are a member of the FBI, CIA, any other like minded organization, or Dick Chaney, I am not in any way a terrorist, and the title of this entry is a joke.  You all could use a laugh.

Krystyna, my love, dropped me off at LAX around 10pm.  The line for check in at Taca, the Peruvian airline I flew with all the way, was out the door.  I felt like shit waiting there in line, probably because I hadn´t slept in a real bed for a few days, and simply had not been taking care of my body. 

I had about an hour to kill after I made it through security.  They pulled my bag aside when they saw my flask, but the ornery little TSA man gave up trying to pull it out from underneath all of my tightly packed things and let me go through.  Good thing I´m not a terrorist.  I fell asleep quickly at my gate, and even quicker once I was on the plane.  I woke up only for food, a nasty mess of alfredo pasta and a roll so hard you could bounce marbels off it.  When I woke up the next time we were landing in El Salvador.

I had 5 hours in the tiny airport, and wasn´t confident enough to leave.  The El Salvador airport is situated in the middle of a wide field ringed with short-stumped, long-branched trees that resembles, oddly, pictures I have seen of the Sahara.  There wasn´t much to do besides sleep and read, so thats what I did.  Here´s a picture of the place.

The El Salvador Airport

The El Salvador Airport

I reboarded my flight, and was surprised to find that Taca airlines serves unlimited free alcohol, even to the pleebs sitting in coach. 

TRAVEL NOTE:  When flying to Peru, book your tickets through Taca.  It is an excellent airline, the staff is friendly, and the prices are cheaper through their website than on expedia, travelocity, etc.

It was a managable 7 hour flight, nothing particularly special to comment on.  The real fun began when I arrived at Lima at 7:10pm. 

The Lima airport is a bustling, hyper-modern airport.  It is a hub in South America, and therefore very crowded and chaotic.  Unfortunately, flights to Cusco during the rainy season only take place in the early morning hours because that is when it is clear enough to fly a plane through the valleys of the Andes.  I was booked for Taca´s first flight, but that was still a good 10 hours away from when I landed.

Fortunately, you can sleep in the Lima airport.  However, it is a terrible experience.  First, a picture of my lodging that night.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Note the brightness of the place.  That never ceases.  Most airports and train stations have a personalized jingle that plays before an announcement is made over the loud speaker.  The jingles in France are particularly frightening.  The jingle in Lima is only three notes, the first three notes of the song “Happy” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.  Not too bad, except that those three notes, and subsequent ear-shattering announcements made first in Spanish and then in English, occur at a frequency of about 1 every three hundred miliseconds ALL NIGHT. 

Lastly, Lima is a very warm, very humid city.  It makes sleeping akin to lying in a shallow puddle.  And yet, somehow, the airport in the middle of the night was very cold.  So I had to keep my sweatshirt on.

And this is how I came to resemble the sketched image of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, while sleeping on a row of chairs at the Lima Airport.  Sunglasses on to protect myself from the lights, headphones in and playing Sovay by Andrew Bird on repeat to drown out (unsuccessfully) the announcements, and hood up to protect my sweaty head from the cold. 

Three times during the night a man riding a miniature zamboni around the airport would wake me up and tell me to stand up.  Then he would drag the row of chairs, surprisingly unbolted from the floor, to a random location in the airport, so that he could Zamboni where they once were.  I felt like a stray dog.

Finally 3:15am arrived and I was able to join the long line to get my boarding pass.  Sleeping by the gate to my flight was a similar experience, so I resolved to stay awake since I was anxious about flying anyway.  When I did get on the plane, the pilot announced that there was a delay because the clouds had settled.  It only lasted a few minutes, and I got into a pleasant conversation with the older Canadian woman seated next to me. 

The flight from Lima to Cusco only lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but it is one of the most breathtaking flights I´ve ever been on.  Outside the windows, the peaks of

Snowcapped mountains reach up through the clouds.  As you approach Cusco, little villages with red roofed houses come into view, growing in size until the low, bowl-like city of Cusco comes into view.

Examples below.

The Mountains Through The Clouds

The Mountains Through The Clouds

 

My New Home

My New Home

 

Coming up next, my first exhausting and strange few days in Cusco.  Should be up the next few days.

MUST HAVE THE LA EXPERIENCE

Hola todos!  I´m going to apologize in advance for any blog I post from South America.  The keyboards here are screwy and spellcheck doesn´t work.  So forgive.

 

This beffuddled entry was written at a hostel in Cuzco.  I came here unprepared, so there will be updates soon.  I´ve been in Peru for 3 days now, but I realize there is more to my trip across America that I need to write about, so here goes.

It was sad to leave my Rita, but we had some good times, of course.  Rita took me to see her old hometown of Taos (only one letter away from TACOS), which is a beautiful, quiet mountain town.  Pics will be coming.  It was only the beginning of the massive amounts of massive mountains that I have encountered.

I took the train from Albuquerque to Los Angeles.  It was a 16 hour trip, and out of all of the treks I have made by train I have to say it was the worst.  The people on the train weren´t very friendly (probably because most of them lived in either Albuquerque or Los Angeles.  I wouldn´t be happy either).  I slept for most of it, but the desert of Arizona and the mountains of New Mexico that I did see was magical. 

I was surprised to find that Union Station in LA was the most beautiful out of all of the many train stations I visited on my trip.  It had incredibly high ceilings, and winding courtyards throughout.  But maybe I´m being biased because when I arrived it was already 75 degrees and it was only 8:15am. 

Brandi Baho was my knight in a white rental car. He picked me up so early in the morning and drove me around LA with some techno music bumping and the windows down.  A pic is coming of him too.

Brandon and I rested a bit, cooked a very manly carb-loaded breakfast, and then took a tender hike up the hill behind the complex (property of Emerson College, kind of) where he lives.  Last year a fire raged across that hill and almost consumed Emerson, and it was neat to see all of the burned trees and bushes as we climbed.  When we got to the top you could see all of LA, and it was un poquito disgusting.  The smog was visible from up there, even though it was winter.  But nonetheless the view was enjoyable, as was conversation and beers with Brandon. 

Brandon also took my to a very strange store that I wish I had taken pictures of to buy a sketchy new ¨ipod¨ for 25 bucks.  It´s a piece of crap, and probably wasn´t worth the money, but at least it plays music.  It came in handy in the Lima Airport, which I will explain later.  PS Check out my entry on the homeless in Chicago for an update on my old ipod. 

Eventually I met up with my true love Krystyna, who whisked me away to her Paris Hilton Is My New BFF-esque mansion.  We had a simple, lovely night of partying with her roommates and friends, and it actually turned out to be one of the wilder parties of my life.  If you want details,  you´ll have to find a way to talk to me about it directly.  Or call Krystyna. 

I woke up slightly dazed on an air mattress in Krystyna´s hallway.  It wasn´t long before we got up, went to a delicious and expensive (LA) breakfast place just down the street from her, and then quickly made our way to DISNEYLAND.  I kid you not.  I actually went to one of the centers of American Capitalism on the day before the night I flew to South America. 

Krystyna plays Sleeping Beauty used to work for a disney affiliate, so she had a silver pass that allows her to enter the parks with up to three friends.  Score.  What followed was a bizarre day of animatronics, homosexual safari boat drivers who looked like an ugly version of Matt Starring, and the biggest moment of all, Turkey Legs.  Pictures below.

Main Street!

Main Street!

Waited for 45 minutes behind this gem.  The front has a pic of Malificent.

Waited for 45 minutes behind this gem. The front has a pic of Malificent.

MATT STARRING´S UGLY LITTLE BROTHER

MATT STARRING´S UGLY LITTLE BROTHER

This makes me consider heterosexuality.

This makes me consider heterosexuality.

turkey-2

 

And there you have it.  After Disney we blasted home through a moving parking lot of traffic, regrouped for a moment, and then I packed my things and Krystyna took me to the airport. 

Overall, I don´t think I´ll ever be living in LA.  I like the weather and the people there, but that´s about it.  Upcoming posts tomorrow or the day after on my flights and arrival in Cuzco!  Hasta luego!