Friday, March 20, 2009

Buenos Aires...a place to be.

Buenos Aires is a great place. It is in the east of Argentina and on the Atlantic Ocean.

The place we stayed was located on the widest street in the world, and the longest street in South America. The wide street was 7 lanes each way...14!!! It took 3 traffic lights to cross the whole thing. We ran into a couple of friends that Beth new from La Paz, and also a two cousins she had met in La Paz that live in BA (Buenos Aires).

BA lives in a different time world...where things open at 10 am, everybody eats dinner at 10pm, the clubs start at 1 am, and close at 4 am, but are followed by the after party places that run from 4 am to 9 am....and wake up at noon and start all over again.

The city itself is a very big city but alive with things to do. One of the days we walked down the pedestrian, shop-filled, artist-filled street....and were greeted by our first surprise... a STARBUCKS!!!!! The first I have seen in 9 months, quite a shock to the system. We followed the street down to one of the main parks where we fund this incredibly big tree

Also in this park there was an exhibit that UNICEF and another program put on that was a month long exhibit in the park. It was filled with teddy bears, 6 feet tall teddy bears, hand painted to represent each country recognized by the UN. Each country has painted one and this exhibit has been in quite a few places around the world in effort to promote peace and understanding between us all.


IRELAND!!!!....who else?!?

The exhibit was quite a site to see!! It would be great to have something of the sorts put up in the states. They were each very unique and beautifully done.

Here we continued our hot dog diet. A super pancho for a dollar was the size of two real hot dogs. Super panchos are one of those things you need to see to believe, but we ate many of them.

One of the days we walked the streets and found a large artist market that sold all kinds of cool things. including hand-made shoes, unique jewelry and clothing, and was playing music and selling food. A good couple of hours were spent walking the stahls. I was also able to indulge in my money collection liking. I bought a braclet made of original coins from the 30´s and 40´s of Argentina. It is always so amazing to me to see the creativity people have and how they create some of those things. Also in this area, there is the famous BA cementery. This city like cementery is were the elite of the elite are buried, including Eva Perón( ). The cementery was also oddly occupied by many amny cats.

We also made our way to the famous ¨La Boca¨ area. The tango filled streets are painted in the most brillant colors. The most artistic set of streets I´ve ever seen, is an old port that has many good restaurants, tango dancers, and art.

We spent a lot of time with Leah and Kelly, the two cousins that live there. They gave us an inside look into Buenos Aires...mostly the FOOD! We tasted our fair share of restaurants, but there was one i found most impressive, Siga La Vaca (¨follow the cow¨). We paid 55 Argentinian pesos (approx. $15 USD) This was a buffet place, but before I go any further, let me stress how much Argentina prides its steak and wine. For this 55 pesos, we got all you can eat salad bar, and amazing salad bar with all kinda of good cheeses, meats, salads etc.... also included is all-you-can-eat meat (now don´t start drooling yet Courtney, or any other football players reading this). Some of the best meat I´ve tasted, you could get anything from bloody steak to pig, sausages, any part of the cow, intestines....any meat, you name it, it was there bloody and ready to be served. After filling up on that, they included a dessert...won´t even start there. But to top it all of, each person got a liter of argentinian wine (one bottle) or a liter of beer. I´ve dubbed it the best deal I´ve ever gotten!
We didn´t eat there every night, for fear of a heart attack, but sampled many other steak places and had steak and wine every night for about 6-10 USD. I can´t describe it. For any meat lover, this is the place to come.

Well to put it lightly, this is all I really remember after 2 1/2 weeks of being out of there. The only bummer was we never could get tickets to see Manu Chao live in concert,. they sold out too soon But all in all Buenos Aires is a place to go.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting to Buenos Aires, on a time line


Countries traveled: Chile Argentina
My country number 5 & 6

Hitchiked rides: 7
Miles hitchiked: 1,800

Beth and I hitching a ride at sunrise...

Hopping into the nicest semi ever!

Beth and our dog buddy at our campground (Bed #6)

Drinks offered: 4 bottles of Rum & Coke, 2 wine bottles, and home made fermented alcohol

Hot dogs consumed: 10 hot dogs/7 days


7 nights, 7 beds

Overall impression- super nice people! I have a new appreciation and love for truck drivers! And Chilean and Argentinians.

The Chilean truck driver who offered us his house to stay.

Beth and I decided we wanted to get to Buenos Aires by the 8th for the Manu Chao concert, it gave us about a week. It was quite an adventure and we saw many things, meet some really cool people, tried long-distance hitchiking, and found how RIDICULOUSLY easy it was to hitchike in those countires. But we made it to Buenos Aires...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So the southwestern part of Bolivia is covered in the largest salt flats in the world. Formed by a gigantic dried up lake that left over salt flats that range from 3 m to 12 meters deep (3feet= 1meter). These salt flats are one of the most bizarre things I´ve ever seen, like a surreal world were depth, water adn life don´t exist.....Mars.
We stopped the first day at a cactus island that is an island ontop the flats (just like an island in a lake) and it is filled with old old cactus. One cactus was 900 years old and was 9 meters (27 feet) tall. There was also one that was 1,203 years old, and died in 2007, it grew to 12 meters (36 feet). Incredible really considering where you are.....
(And yes the salt tastes like salt) We spent that day driving and exploring the immense salt flats.
The second day, we spent mostly in the car, covering land. We left the salt flats and were driving around at 4500 m altitude. We went to a series of lakes all different colors. The ranged from gray, to green, to blue, to pink, and everything i can´t remember. There are also flamingoes that live in these lakes....Quite incredible when you consider you are 13000 ft in the freezing cold and you can capture a picture with llamas, flamingoes, and a floating ice block. I have one.
The third day, I went to my first natural geyser. A whole field of natural sulfur geysers taht smelled of rotten eggs, but were definitely interesting. We watched the sunrise over the geysers. Then made out way to natural hot springs set with a backdrop fo mountains, lakes and flamingoes. We also went to a petrified forest, petrified into rock. A petrified tree as well.
Then it was into CHILE!!!!!!!! Country number 5

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Check out the song by Mana

Lyrics to Arde El Cielo :
Nos fue trabando la rutina
fue llenando de vacíos
fuimos hablando la palabra
y explotando en puros líos

me deseo suerte amor
ya me voy al olvido
solo le pido a dios
darte alivio

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sale el halcón, sale el demonio
un infierno un manicomio
gritos violencia, platos rotos
como ciega la demencia

solo yo te pido amor
que nunca me abandones
solo le pido a dios
darte alivio

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sangra, sangra el cielo y la luz
sangra mi espiritu
arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sangra, sangra el cielo al dolor
sangra mi espiritu
arde y se quema la luz
arde el cielo amor

trozos del cielo en ardor
trozos del cielo en ardor
se esta quemando el cielo

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Taste of Bolivia

Another border crossing to add to the books!!!

I´m in my fourth country in South America....the famed Bolivia. The landlocked, governmentally unstable mountain country where the llama population is one-third of the human population. I remember when i told a friend of mine I was going to south america for 1 year, he told me, please just don´t go to Bolivia or Colombia....well sorry to disappoint, but of all countries this was the one I was most excited for!!!

I entered Bolivia with no problems, except for the $135 mandatory visa for American citzens only. I headed to La Paz (the peace) where I stayed with two couchsurfers in there Bolivian bachelor pad that gets up to 10 couchsurfers every nite! There were three girls from Canada there at the same time and they were quirky, having fun, and heading to Buenos Aires

I spent the day strolling around hilly La Paz, looking at the markets, eating street sold saltenas made with potatoes meat spices all wrapped in a pie (my favortie street food so far), going to the witches´market where they sell stuffed llama fetus´ that people bury under their new house or business for good luck, and meeting up with friends who were in La Paz at the same time.

I met up with Elizabeth, Beth, who some of you may remember from previous blogs of northern Peru. She is from Minnnnnesotaaa (meant to be said with an accent, just for effect) and was currently traveling with her sister Michelle and Michelle´s boyfriend Brandon ( They were headed to Oruro for the Carnaval i hopped along.

We got a 5 am bus to Oruro the next day, and watched the sunrise over beautiful mountains in La Paz. We arrived to ORURO at 8 am and were immediately greeted by the sweet smell of cooking meat, the sight of streets filled with bleachers, and the excitement of flying water balloons, oversized water guns with trigger happy Bolivian youth, and foam spray cans with what felt like disfunctional tops stuck on the ¨ON¨ position. It was quite an adventure just getting to see the parade, where we sat ourselves down in 80 Boliviano seats we didn´t pay for and bought luke warm beer, pig sandwiches, ponchos, and took the advice of Brandon and got ourselves ARMED. It was a day of balloon fights, delicious food, and watching the amazing 23 hour parade with eccentric detailed costumes and dances. Throughout the day we made our way to different sections of the parade, but at one point went the central plaza near the end of the parade into what turned out to be a landlocked plaza of which there was NO ESCAPE. We took naps on the fountain and searched for a bathroom (we refused to use under the bleachers like everybody else) and then made our way through the bottleneck exit. I have been here in South America for 9 months now, and it was one of the only times I was scared for getting hurt. it was like a moshpit...but mosh pits have some form of organized craziness. This pit, due to poor police management, was the scariest thing...i was fearing that my rib was going to break crushed against the bleacher board, that the child next to me was going to get trampled, and that we would never get out......

AIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We made it out....and rewarded ourselves and splurged on a pizza. We made our way through the Palestine-like streets to find a decent spot on the sidewalk. Then the sikuris bands came out and two cups of sugary coffee later... we were dancing in the streets and had bought a bambu saxophone. We enjoyed the parade, and then hopped on an 11 pm bus to Potosi...all in all a time warped experience.

5 am we arrive to Potosi, awoken by an Argentinian who pointed out there was nobody else on the bus and we had arrived. ¨¿Potosi?¨he asks, Elizabeth in her dreamy state responds ¨Puno? ....¨(which is in Peru)....the worried look that came over his face was priceless. So we walked around Potosi for about 1 1/2 hours searching for a hostal in the worlds highest city. That afternoon we went to a lagoon, hot spring, set in the mountain desert backdrop. The next day we spent dodging water balloons and truck beds filled with overzealous youths. We also did a tour of the currently operating mines in Potosi, where the first mint of South America was forged. We explored the tunnels in our miners uniforms and hats, chewed coca leaves for the head aches, bought dynamite, visited the mining god ¨Tio¨(uncle) and the miners made jokes about how gringos may be tall but have small penises (unlike bolivians apparently), and then the 5 of us partied with the 40 miners outside and ate llama and a bomb-meal and we offered 96% alcohol mixed with soda as our refreshment.
We were stuck in Potosi for three days because the buses all stopped running due to Carnaval, so we tried to make the best of closed shops and water balloons, in the end it wasn´t too bad.

We then made out way to Salar de Uyuni. The trip there was made during the day where we crossed literal rivers in our bus....and there was lightning. The desert town that boarders the largest salt flats in the world (if you haven´t caught on, Bolivia has the largest everything...) We booked a three day tour to go to the salt flats. BUT WAIT...... that day Beth had chosen out of our nifty hat and picked ¨do something illegal day¨ for out Lent game. The hotel cost 30 Bolivianos per night, (3.50 USD) a somewhat expensive place. We spent a good chunk of our morning figuring the way to sneak by the one eyed old lady who ran the place and skip out on our whooping 3.50 was tough! BUT WE MADE IT OUT!!!! We made it out, bought fruit, did errands etc.....once we arrived to the tour company to leave that morning, the one-eyed lady was there to track us down and GRILLED we ended up having to pay. The best part of our do something illegal day....we got caught.

Then we left for the Salt Flats.....(ashamed)