Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Valles de Frances

Hiked up to the Torres again this morning for sunrise and it was good that I had hiked last night. The clouds and snow were so thick, you could not see anything. I met quite a few number of people up there as we waited in hope that the torres would majestically appear, but unfortunately we just could not will it to happen. We also had a short discussion how everyone had froze the night before, I was glad not to be alone on that one. I had the same route and timetable as these two guys from the UK, Steve and Andy and so ended up hiking to the next place together, Campiemento Italiano. The hike was crazy weather wise. We started with snow, descended into light rain, then into beautiful hot sunny weather, then incrediable winds, driving rain, then back to high winds. They say the weather changes quickly in Patagonia ... though I don't really believe that. Had some amazing views as we hiked along the glacier lakes. Most of the mountains hid from us in the clouds.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Torres del Paine

So the morning was mostly a travel day. Started hiking around 11:30 if I can remember properly. Even though the weather was a bit cloudy I decided to start with the Torres side of the "W" anyway. I hiked up to Campiemento Torres, setting up camp around 2:30. I took a nap, which was great and hiked up to the Torres around 6. Still at bit socked in, but a good view anyways. Decided to keep to myself tonight and try to get as much rest as possible.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Puerto Natales

Nothing too exciting to say, ready to leave Punta Arenas ... 2 days is enough. If I had more time, there seems to be some good hiking around. This is an idea of what it looks like in between towns when you are not on the coast. The exciting news is that I was able to arrange a "trek" (apparently you can't call it a hike in Patagonia) through Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in a couple of hours, so I will get 4 days! Leave tomorrow at 7 am. Over my head ... possibly.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And Finally ... Penguins

I went to a park Seno Otoway to see the local penguin population. It was a bit weird because there was no snow or ice burgs. Just rocky beack and grass. Quite not what you think of when you think penguin habitat. It was really neat to see them in their natural environment though. There were penguin trails in the grass where they had stamped down the grass, they had burrows in the soft peat. You could also see how incrediably social they are.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

To Chile

Today I took a day bus to Punta Arenas, Chile. Met a cool girl from the UK on the bus named Nic that had been camping in Ushuaia for the past week. She was headed to another town Puerto Natales though. Punta Arenas is another pretty small town, with less going on that Ushuaia. Not that less going on is bad. An interesting town as it used to be quite wealthy but is no longer. Has some impressive old buildings. I met an Isreali on the bus, Jacob, who I ended up hanging out with for a bit. Oh yea, and I crossed the Straits of Magellan today ... crazy stuff.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego

One of the reasons that people go to Ushuaia, besides to say that they have been to the Southern most city in the world (though Chile has a claim as well) is to visit the park Tierra del Fuego. I couldn't figure out why they called it the Land of Fire but it was an impressive park. To cut costs I decided to try to hike as much as I could in one day and avoid the park transfers fees and entrance fees for 2 days. The most memorable hike was a hike up Cerro Guanaco. You hike to the peak and have a full 360 degree view of the surrounding park, glacier lakes, and Beagle Channel. Quite amazing. I met a couple from NYC up there and we talked about why Americans don't seem to travel like the Brits or Aussies. I figured careers and homes, but seemed to meet enough Americans of all ages who were traveling for extended periods of time. However, one thing that I found in common is that we all had quit our jobs. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beagle Channel

Did the tourist thing, as you are obliged to do from time to time and took a boat tour of the islands of the Beagle Channel, mating grounds for Commorants, Sea Lions, penguins, and other animals. I skipped the pricey los pinguinos tour and went for the standard island tour. Landed in a small boat with only 9 people on it which was really nice. This is one of the islands with the Commorants. They use feces, feathers, and sticks to build their nests which you can see in the foreground. That gives a great scent to the islands when you are downwind. We also stopped at an island where the Llamans (native people of Tierra del Fuego) lived. It was amazingly windy and unimaginable that people could live in such an environment.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Laguna Margot

Hiked up to another spot just outside of town. Got some great views over the Beagle Channel. The weather has been a bit rainy but not too bad, similar to the Seattle drizzle. The lake was pretty unimpressive, but the surrounding landscape quite amazing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fin Del Mundo

Ushuaia is a pretty interesting town. Quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be. A good number of cruise ships that go to Antartica call this home port. Paul Allen came into Ushuaia yesterday as well after a couple weeks in Antartica. You can see his little boat dwarfing the cruise ship next to it for the plan folk willing to shell out $10,000 for an 8 day trip. Incredible! Went for a hike to the Morenito Glacier, if you can call it that. Its not worth a photo, really sad actually. However, the hike was great and they had an interpretive trail that was actually quite good.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Just been laying low the passed couple of days. My friends didn't have to work on Friday so we just have been laying low and hanging out. Been exploring Palermo, the barrio they are living in, a bit. Its the hip trendy neighborhood right now, but is enormous. Went to the market in Recoletta on Saturday for a little bit, and then to the market in San Telmo on Sunday. It was crazy blocked in San Telmo, I hadn't seen that many people on the street in a long time. Though the weather might have been a factor as it was the first sunny day in a couple days. I stopped by the local farmers market, but didn't end up getting anything. Tomorrow ... Ushuaia!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back in Bs As

Landed back in Argentina around noon today. I had made arrangements to stay with my Italian friends who had an apartment. I was looking forward to something homey. Lousia and Stefy were at work so luckily Carlo (Stefy's boyfriend visiting from Sicily) was around to let me in. They had just gotten back from a 10 day trip in Bolivia and were wiped out so we laid low for a bit. Italian home cooking was on the menu for dinner. Here is a picture of making some pizza! It was great to watch ... and try to learn as much as possible.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

9 Hours in Miami

I had never been to Miami before so I decided that even though I love the airport so much, I would venture out into the world and see what was there. I had some errands to run downtown so I started there. I have to say I wasn't too impressed. Seemed like a pretty dead core, but I just randomly chose a place and went there. So I am pretty sure I missed some things. I definitely ended in an odd area of town. After spending way too much time trying to complete the things I wanted to in my short touch down in the US, I decided to splurge on the cab fare and go out to South Beach. Out of all the people I polled before going to Miami, South Beach was the one thing I was told I could go see in under a day. The sights were pretty cool, though I didn't really have the time or the money to enjoy it properly. It is pretty amazing what people have done to all these retro buildings though.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bermuda, Bahama, Come on Pretty Mama

Quite a contrast, but I guess it was a welcome one. Obviously the Bahamas are pretty sedate. It poured when I arrived, but I did get a couple of hours of sunshine to spend at the beach. It was a little sick, as I was a bit news starved, I picked up the paper and saw that the lead story was Anna Nicole Smith. I admit that I was a bit shocked to read that she died, but the subsequent media frenzy seemed to be a bit too much. I was treated with some American TV and as I flipped passed the news channels it seemed that she was in control of the headlines, well except on the BBC. I have to admit I did enjoy watching some of the TV shows I used to watch.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Day 4

The city is really beautiful. Most of the buildings are either of a classical or art deco style. Most buildings are delapidated, but the government has been restoring buildings in the tourist center. This is a view at night, they have quite beautiful lighting on these buildings that capture their architecture. The tower in the background is part of a new museum that has not been finished yet. An interesting mix of modern and classic architecture.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Day 3

These basically explain themselves. The markets here are pretty impressive. This picture was taken at one of the larger markets held inside a large building. This was a little outside of the city center and more representative of daily life.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Day 2

People do seem generally happy here, amongst themselves. Which is amazing given the lack of things provided for them. I can understand an animosity towards the tourists as the government has provided Mercedes and Puegot taxis for them, while the rations the common citizens recieve are much too little.
The old car culture, which is basically forced, is definitely alive. Its great to see such pride.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Day 1

The graffiti was incredible here. I guess I should start with a general overview. It was amazing, difficult, inspiring, saddening, friendly, cold, and frusterating all at the same time. I really enjoyed my time but was actually ready to move on. I did wish I could have gotten out of the city, but time did not permit.
Dominos is big, as most of the caribbean. We found these gentlemen in an odd 3rd floor courtyard with a bar that was above what seemed to be a music academy.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

End of Guatemala

Have had a great time here. I highly suggest it. It still is a bit dangerous I guess I will say. I have heard stories, but you always hear stories. Really enjoyed the environment, the people, and the travelers here. Have to sign off now and will hopefully update this soon ... but this takes a lot of time! :)

This is the couple from Portland, my last nights drinks ... Happy Hour 2 for 1!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Tikal is amazing and HUGE. Not really sure what to say about the ruins except that they are massive and when you climb them you get amazing views of the surrounding jungle. I met a group from the Sierra Nevada Club who showed me some Tucans and Parrots through their binoculars. They were specific kinds, but beyond my knowledge. Also saw some Howler Monkey wandering around, which sound like lions. I took some video so hopefully the sound comes out. I spent the night up here in a hammack ... was pretty cool with all the jungle noise around you. It was a bit colder than I thought it would be.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Flores, not much happening here but a jump off point to see the ruins in Tikal. A really sweet hostel called Los Amigos is where I stayed. Very homey. I ran into some people from Portland that I met in San Marcus here. A cool couple. The town is situated on an island, the another town Santa Elena just across a short bridge.


Though I would share this with you, found these in a tienda in Coban ... crazy how far these puppies make it!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Semuc Champey

A crazy Natural wonder in Semuc Champey. The river disappears into a 300 m long tunnel. But other tributaries flow on top of this tunnel into these limestone pools. Amazing waterfalls, water, all of it. The water is super clear and pretty warm. I was more expecting seattle style rivers but this is much warmer. A beautiful, beautiful place

Friday, February 02, 2007

Coban, Coffee

Took a coffee plantation tour while I was here so you all know what goes into that cup of joe sitting in front of you. On the left there is a flower, to the right the berry. The berry is hand picked and then the seed (the coffee bean) is shelled out by machined. It is then soaked for a while to get the sweetness of the berry out. Then a selection based on density is done (with water as the medium) and the good beans are dried, needing to be raked every hour. A final hand selection is done for the best beans to be exported.