Home
Price of beer in a bar: It’s a resort town, so US$2 for 20 ounces
Song currently stuck in my head: Welcome to the Jungle (Guns and Roses)

I spent yesterday desecrating the memory of 10s of thousands of
deceased Bolivians by using the scene of their demise for cheap
thrills and a little adrenaline.  But then, with tourism you’ll have
that.

I’m speaking, of course, of the infamous “Death Road” in Bolivia, a
title approved by the Inter-American Development Bank and well earned.
Attached is a photo, though in it you don’t have any fog or rain so
it doesn’t really look that bad.  This road has been a popular trail
for mountain bikers for years and just a few months ago an alternate
highway was completed and opened (thanks to US funds, I’m told), but
some motor traffic continues to use this dirt highway surrounded on
each side be shear cliff.

Pictures:

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/monirz/archives/images/yeah3_edited.jpg
http://www.jordibusque.com/Index/Stories/YungasRoad/DSK00030-DSC_0011.jpg

Sarah and I biked it.  It was fun.  60some kilometers, 90% of which is
downhill.  There were points where the cliff wasn’t satisfied to hug
the roadside and instead carved right into the road in front of you.
There were chickens, children with slingshots, waterfalls, loose rock,
loose dirt, buses, heat and freezing cold (we descended 3000 feet, so
the temperature change was significant).  It was, at times, scary.
But I can say with authority, and I”m serious about this: The “World’s
Most Deadly Road” hasn’t got shit on the Chicago Lake Path.  Because
while I made it through yesterday relatively unscathed, I defy you to
travel 60km on the lake path and not get hurt.  At the very least
you’ll come perilously close to hitting two Lincoln Park princesses
pushing their baby strollers two abreast blocking one entire direction
of the bike lane and half of the other, blissfully unaware that they
aren’t wandering through the park.

Sarah and I have contracted about 2 weeks of activity with local
tour agency (the same one I booked Choro through about a month ago).
Yesterday’s downhill dirt storm was day one, and today we board a 15
bus to the jungle.  We’re in the lowlands already and I love it.  It
reminds me why I love Central America and gives me the chance to
compare South America on a more balanced scale.  We’re doing 4 days
stalking wildlife in the jungle, then back to La Paz and on to the
freezing cold of The Salar (massive slat flats) in the South.  After
that we’ll head on to Argentina and spend our remaining month in and
around the sit-tay.

Not mentioned in today’s email for purposes of brevity:  nationwide,
highway closing strikes in Bolivia and Peru, a return to Copacabana,
the Island of the Sun, more third world pharmacy zaniness, and a
conspicuous and consistent lack of cheap liquor.

Take care everyone.

Advertisements
Cost of beer in a bar: still about US$1.20 still for 20 ounces, still
the same as lunch.
Song currently stuck in my head: conspicuously absent

I’m in Copacaban, Bolivia, and it is cold.  It’s been cold the whole
time I’ve been in Bolivia.  Long sleeves in the midday sun kind of
cold.  I’m in the tropics, but the elevation here is such that I
shiver in the night unless I have an especially heavy blanket.  Last
night I had an especially heavy blanket, which makes getting out of
bed in the 58 degree morning difficult.  I know what you’re thinking.
58 degrees isn’t that bad.  And your right, except for tow things:
that wasn’t the low and you probably have and use indoor heat at these
temps.  Not one place I’ve been in Bolivia offers this luxury.  Even
down south where the nights clock in at 10 degrees (and this is all in
Fahrenheit) you’re on your own, thermally speaking.

I strongly preferred the beach.  I’m going back to the sand in
Ecuador, but that will probably be my last brush with true tropical
comfort for this trip.  I’m sure I’ll get used to this weather.  I
hope.

So I’m killing time in Copa, and not the fun Brazilian one with it’s
famously beautiful women.  Where I am is a tourist town with little
else happening.  It’s on Lake Titicacca and is the launch point for
checking out a couple of island that the Incans were way, way into.
This is the kind of town with a million mostly empty hotels boasting
amenities such as “24 hour showers”.  On the up side my room is
relatively secure, clean, private, and costs about US$2.50.  I need to
replace my bag, but it looks like that will have to wait until Lima.
I don’t see anything suitable here.  I should have bought the US$6
knockoff Lotto duffel back the other day in La Paz

Tomorrow I hope to catch a bus to Lima, Peru.  It’s a 24 hour ride so
I intend to be half out of my mind when it ends.

I’m sending some items back with Rob, visiting friend of Dan’s and
newly minted Chicagoan, and among them is my mp3 player.  I just
wasn’t getting enough out of it to justify it’s existence in my bag.
It’s a long, complicated explanation of why, but it takes about 2
days to charge on the road and only give me a few hours of enjoyment.
I separated all of the stuff I’m sending back and have been going
without for days, giving myself the opportunity to think better of my
decisions.  My time without has led to an eery lack of song in my
head.

I punched all the numbers thus far and I am basically on budget.
Nicely done, me.

Cost of beer in a bar: about US$1.20, but that gets you what looks
like 20 ounces or so of beer.  Coincidentally, that’s the same price
as lunch, including a lot of rotisserie chicken, rice, french fries,
and plantains.
Song currently stuck in my head: Red Eyes and Tears, by Black Rebel
Motorcycle Club

I hurt.

I went for a bit of a hike with my friend Dan.  It took three days and
encompassed 30+ miles and crossed 3000 meters of altitude.  Previously
that wouldn’t have been an accessible concept to me, so let me put it
this way:  I walked from shiver inducing cloud forest to sweat box
tropics.  Dan considered day 2 to be one of the most difficult days of
hiking he’d ever encountered, and who am I to argue.  It was an overly
aggressive coming out party for me and I’m paying for it.  I have what
can best be described as shooting, debilitating pains in my
calves/ankles/thighs/shoulders/neck.  The seven blisters on my feet
contribute to this overall feeling that I like to describe as “leave
me alone.”

Let me back up.

I’ve been hanging around La Paz with Sean, Dan, Rob, and Jaq.  Then
Dan and I set out for a 3 day hike to Coroico while Rob and Sean went
off swimming with river dolphins and, assumedly, collecting stickers
for their notebooks.  Jaq has a day job.  At the end of my
excruciating pre-spanish path was a nice resort with pool and sauna
for US$7 a night.  Is there a sauna waiting for you at the end of the
Inca Trail?  No?  Well… IN YOUR FACE, MACCHU PICCHU!11!!.  I’ll
likely return to Coroico after I travel north to an Ecuadorean surf
town called Montanita and then begin the migration south to Buenos
Aries.

I’ve accidental lost a lot of my best pictures and I’m a bit
disappointed about it.  I’m storing all of my photos in multiple
places, but I think these were over-written and the mistake was
replicated.  I’m basically missing all of Nicaragua and Panama, which
is a real shame.  I’d love pictures of San Blas and San Jaun Del Sur
specifically, if anyone on the list has any from when we were there.

My trusted inconspicuous black duffel bag is reaching the end of it’s
usefulness and will need to be replaced soon.  I should have bought
something in Panama City, where the selection was much better, but I
failed to notice just how bad things had gotten.

Take care folks.

Cost of a beer in a bar:  US$1
Song currently stuck in my head: North American Scum, LCD
Soundsystem… a song buy an American band with a strong European
following.

First of all, let me just say it:  La Paz > Antigua, Guatemala.  Some
of you will disagree, but consider for a moment that it might be
because you’re stupid.  If that’s not the case, then you saw some
things that I didn’t, and I saw some great things, so please fill me
in.

I arrived this morning at about 2 after 22 hours of travel touching
the ground in 4 countries.  I was outraged by the price of a sandwich,
some chips, and a drink at the San Jose airport (US$11) and went
hungry instead.  I hate Costa Rica, and there’s a perfect example of
why.  They are so thankless about the influx of tourist money that
they are always far too busy scheming how to bleed you for the most
possible money the greatest number of times to actually provide you
any actual service.  At least it’s starting to cost them.  Expats
moved out en mass, taking their real estate money with them to
neighboring Panama and Nicaragua when the Costa Rican government
finally started squeezing them to hard.  Lots of travelers severely
limit their time there are well solely due to the extortionist prices
that you encounter.  Costa Rica very quickly moved up-market, and then
decided to keep going until they reached diminished-market.  Serves
them right.  Use some of the money for roads and water and we’ll talk,
but I still won’t have much good to say.

Sorry, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, about being that gringo
walking the streets of La Paz, scouring the shops alternately for
dried llama fetus and emerging market Motorola devices, smiling at the
girls through a discreet plug of coca leaves and modeling my new
Panamanian shirt and jeans while sipping coffee at the local cafes.
It’s nice to dress like an urbanite again, if only for a few days
before I send my loot back to the states.  The altitude sickness isn’t
keeping me down.  I’m sucking wind here and there, but that’s about
it.  I’ve yet to have a drink, though I’m told that the needle burying
barometric here has a strong effect.  After 5 months spent
predominately at the beach this climate refreshes me in a big way.  I
picked up a light pair of gloves and I may grab some level of hoody or
jacket, but for the most part my gear is versatile enough to get me
through without significant supplication.  I think.  We’ll see.  I set
out today way overdressed and was sweating within minutes.  Even now
with my system fully acclimated to the mid-90s, I could walk around in
the sunshine here short sleeves and not suffer, though I was told to
expect 60s.  If this is them than I approve.

From here I acquire some co-horts, my friend Dan and friends of his.
I’m currently staying with a guy named Sean, his fiance, and their
roommate.  Sean may or may not know Dan, we’ll figure that out when he
arrives.  They do know Josh, who is traveling with Dan, and are happy
to show me around and lend me their guest bed.  From here, who knows.
A few days here in town, and some days elsewhere.

I brought my memory card to upload a picture or two, but there’s a lot
of data that’s not there.  I’m a little worried.  I have to check my
other devices.  So no picture today.