After Cusco, Nolie and I made our way back to Lima. I took the 21 hour bus. The plan was to collect our surf boards in Lima and then immediately leave for Puerto Malabrigo (near Trujillo), 8 hours to the North. Of course like every plan we have made thus far on our trip, it backfired and I ended up staying in Lima for 3 days.
At 4pm on that Friday afternoon the surf shop holding my board was closed. I then realized it was a holiday weekend and nothing would be open until Monday morning. This was a bummer, but I was able to change my bus ticket (after 3 separate trips to the bus station). Nolie went ahead to Puerto Malabrigo, I stayed and drank beer all weekend with Aussi Steve and some local peruvians celebrating their holiday.
I missed out on a few days of marginal surf, no big deal. Especially, because the morning I arrived in Puerto Malabrigo a nice Southwest swell was also just arriving to meet me.
Chicama is the name of the surf spot in Puerto Malabrigo. It is known to be the longest left point break in the world when it turns on. It was on and as close to perfect as it can get. Nolie and I surfed for 2 days straight, basically alone and scoring some of the best waves of our lives. This sort of situation is known as EPIC in the surfing world (email Grant Jones at email@example.com to further your knowlege about its etymology and uses in modern day english). We would often finish a wave giddy with laughter and legs burning in pain from the 2-minute magic carpet rides. Unfortunately, we didn´t get many pictures here. Neither one of us wanted to get out of the water.
The swell came and went, the ocean went close to flat and the town doesn´t really offer much besides Chicama and fish dinners so we headed back to Lima. Nolie left for Hawaii yesterday morning and I now have an opening in my travel buddy department… anyone interested? Meet me in Cali, Colombia tomorrow.
Nolie, good job on a trip well done. Get back to Hawaii safely and start planning our next worldly excursion.
Cusco, Peru is Inca City. Or it was at least until the Spanish decided that God wanted them all to die. Now only their citadel ruins remain. Some reformed into Catholic Churches and others (not found by the conquistadors) like Machupicchu are almost completely intact 500 years later.
Nolie’s girlfriend Ashley flew in from Hawaii to get in on the Cusco action. All three of us took on the city and its surroundings with Inca-like allure, which was quite tiring considering the altitude.
However, even with our altitude/digestion sickness we managed to see a ton of Inca ruins, play with Llamas and eat a Guinea Pig… yep we first named it Jonathan Rodriguez and then devoured the Cusqueñan delicacy. It tasted like corned beef.
We stayed 2 nights in Iquique, Chile. The morning after arriving, we were able to find boards to rent. We surfed a right point break, pretty good conditions but crowded with body boarders. I became close friends with the rock-reef and sea urchins that day (see pictures). Unable to actually buy boards in Iquique we traveled north to Arica hoping for better luck.
Arica is the driest city in the world. Literally. Located in the Atacama Desert nestled against the Peruvian border, Arica used to be in Peru until the Chileans took it by force in 1929.
Our first dinner in Arica was obscene. Giant sandwiches with hamburger, sausage, ham, eggs, lettuce and fries. Eating half of this monstrosity was a feat. Chileans seem to really dig unhealthy food. The other local favorite is a hot dog completo. A foot-long smothered with guacamole, tomatoes, and sour cream… I will admit, they are actually pretty tasty.
Our surfboard luck did not get any better in Arica, however we were able to borrow one from the hostel owner. We took turns surfing a small beach break as the rocky El Gringo break was disappointedly off limits.
We crossed into Peru by taxi, first to the airport in the border town of Tacna. We found plane tickets to be quite expensive and decided it would be best to take a bus to Lima. That was our first mistake
It was about noon and the first available bus to Lima wasn’t leaving until 7pm. We bought the tickets and waited around the bus station. Six hours later the bus drivers of Peru decided it was a good time to go on strike… Nolie and I did not agree, however I don’t think they really cared about how we felt. This left us with two options:
1) Wait out the strike. This might take 2 or 3 days and we would be stranded in Tacna, Peru. Not exactly paradise.
2) Fly to Lima and dish out the money for a plane ticket.
In the interest of time, we returned to the airport and flew to Lima. We stayed in Miraflores, which is actually quite a nice area of town. We were able to buy boards from a local shaper and a travel bag. Nolie’s haggling skills were impeccable, getting us both really good deals.
The food in Peru is like a double-edged sword; delicious upon the palate and dangerous within the belly. This is the first country where both Nolie and I have had trouble digesting, although I doubt nothing will stop us from eating.
Since we finally found some boards of our own, we made our way south about 40 km to Punta Hermosa. We stayed at a surf camp and, well, we surfed.
Okay. Apologies all around, it has been awhile. I know how anxious you get and how little assuagement I supply. The last couple of weeks have been great and I will admit I have been a hedonist, keeping it all to myself.
The following picutes cover Bariloche ARG, Mendoza ARG, and Quintero, CHL.
Bariloche: Basically a continuation of Spring Break 2010. credit: Pierre.
Mendoza: English barely exists here, my Spanish skills were tested to the max. Especially when it took our hostel´s owner 3 times to tell us that we could only stay 1 night, not 3 as we had reserved. The multiple wine tastings attenuated our hostility and found us another hostel. We spent Easter here, it was spiritual.
Quintero, Chile: We expected to find surfboards to buy. We found it near imposible. The water was cold but the waves were good. Two days later we high-tailed it north to continue the search, unfortunately to no avail.
The 12 hour bus ride from Los Antiguos to El Bolson turned into a 24 hour adventure. At around 3 am the bus came to a screeching halt in a small town we couldn’t even pronounce the name of. Let´s call it ‘Absolutely Nowhere, Argentina’
Apparently, the bumpy, potholed, dirt roads had finally taken their toll on the old bus. What to do now? Maybe the bus driver has an idea -`The bus has broken down. We´re in a small town, however, there is a bar down the street. I´m going and you can follow me if you would like.´ Answer: yes, we will follow you Mr. Bus Driver, to the bar in Absolutely Nowhere, Argentina.
And follow him we did to trade in our half-asleep bumpy bus-ride daze for an early morning alcohol induced buzz. The tiny bar´s population doubled as all the bus patrons emptied in. This place was hilarious, I loved it. Cheap beer, local folk, and of course a 20 year old television cranked to 11, blasting distorted South American pop hits for our listening pleasure.
After a few beers I guess the driver figured out how to hack up a quick fix for the bus´ suspension system allowing us to eke (and eek) into the slightly bigger town of Esquel. Here we waited about 10 hours for a replacement bus to take us the rest of the way to El Bolson, where Spring Break 2010 decided to celebrate us.
El Bolson is not necessarily a party town. It is actually quite peaceful, back-dropped by beautiful mountains and a streams the town is filled with hippies selling their homemade organic goods. But for whatever reason, we were about to begin an epic 3-day fiesta with our soon to be best friends. I guess it may have been meeting the right people, at the right place, at the right time. Or the stars aligned, hit jackpot, and dispensed unlimited beer and wine at our feet.
Homemade beer and wine, in fact. Our Hostel, El Pueblito, makes a home brew from the locally grown hops… it was delicious, inexpensive, and dangerous. We spent all three nights in the Barn-converted-Bar with instruments ranging from guitars and harmonicas to pots and pans serenading the night away.
El Bolson also happens to be where I learned the Spanish word ´Resaca´ which means hangover. All of the pictures are thanks to Nolie, I left my camera in its bag for my Spring Break.
After El Calafate we headed to El Chalten, a tiny village in the Argentine Glacier National Park. El Chalten is basically a brand new town, only 25 years old, existing only to house the thousands of hikers coming every year. We stayed 3 nights and ate approximately 67 empanadas. Nolie has embarked on a mission to find the best empanadas in South America. So far, El Chalten is winning.
After three nights we headed north to Los Antiguos with our french friend, Pierre. We found an organic farm and went strawberry picking. Wow, that sounds gay. The farm also let us taste test the various fruit liquors they make, they were delicious.
Enjoy the Pics!
I made into El Calafate yesterday around 1pm… It has a tiny airport with only one baggage claim and what seemed like 14 million people. The town itself is very touristy, but at the same time small especially compared to the surrounding landscape.
Did you know that there are Flamingos in Patagonia? Neither did I, until I saw them with my own eyes. Besides birds, I think there are more dogs in El Calafate than people. They all seem really nice though. Nolie and I were walking through the main street in town and two dogs decided to tagalong. We immediately named them Jonathan and Rodriguez. They tried to come into a bar with us, however to our disappointment they were turned down at the door.
Today we headed over to the Perito Moreno Glacier, about 80 km from El Calafate. It might have been the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The 100 square mile glacier moves about 2 meters a day, pinching a river in half, which makes for spectacular ice collapses falling 250 feet into the water below.
Argentina is the first spanish speaking country I have been to so far on this South American trek. I have been here for a little over 2 weeks now beefing up my spanish and learning the city inside and out. So far, this has been my favorite South American city and I think it will be really hard to beat (as far a cities go) in the next 2 months of traveling.
Nolie and I were both amazed at how cheap everything is, especially compared to Brazil. It is hard to spend $20usd at a classy restaurant in Palermo, even after wine and desert. Getting fat is the most dangerous thing about this place. And if I was a carnivour before, then now almost shamefully, I am a mega-carnivour. But it´s hard not to be, beef is sometimes the only thing on the menu.
I was taking spanish classes here, which was really helpful, and also really expensive. Then Dave came to visit and we celebrated my birthday. Which actually was Dave and I watching Nolie celebrate my birthday. The next morning I woke up with a decision:
1.) Go to Spanish class hungover and hate myself AND pay $170 for the week.
2.) Fall back asleep, save $170, and learn spanish somewhere where they don´t sound like Spaniards on Speed chewing on 4 pieces of gum. (No offense Porteños, it´s just way different then mexican, colombian, peruvian, or any central american spanish that I am used to). Also, did I mention that I was hungover? Naturally, I needed to be pissed off about something while convincing myself that sleeping was the best idea.
So I guess now, you could call me a Spanish School Dropout. But I plan to be the kind or dropout that goes on to become a Rock Star, Writer, or Multi-Billion Dollar Entrepreneur that have biographies written about them. And if not, it´s Dave and Nolie`s fault.
On Saturday I fly into El Calafate, Argentina in the Patagonia region to meet up with Nolie. I am really excited to get out into the wilderness and away from the city for a while. After Patagonia we´ll make our way North through the Lakes District of Argentina/Chile and then to Mendoza before heading into Bolivia and/or Peru.
It has been quite awhile since I have posted anything. My apologies. I have not had the capabilites to upload photos lately.
We spent a few days in Iguacu Falls, a giant grouping of waterfalls on the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. We arrived on the Brazilian side after a lovely 24 hour bus ride from Rio de Janeiro. If you have never been on a bus for an extended period of time, give it a try. It is a purely existential experience. Also known as completely awful. However much better than flying for 24 hours I suppose.
We were able to check out the falls from the Brazilian side for a few hours, which gave us an overall view of all 275 falls. It was a phenomenal view, I couldn´t capture it all with my camera.
The next day we met a super cool Australian couple and two radical English girls. We all split a van and hopped over the border to the Argentinian side for a more up close and personal look at the falls. This was definitely the highlight of the Iguacu trip. We hiked around, in, and on top of the falls. Then we took a boat up the river and practically underneath the falls, it was intense, Nolie peed his pants… twice.
Apparently, there is a type of bird that lives behind the waterfalls. We looked everywhere for gd thing and did not find it anywhere. In english it is called a Dusky Swift, look for it if you ever go and let me know two things:
1.) What it looks like
2.) What it sounds like.
Along with the elusive Dusky Swift, we also desperately looked for Toucan’s to no avail. I was slightly disappointed, but it’s nothing a bowl of fruitloops can’t take care of.