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Germany Bound!

1st December 2011

Security Checks Continue

So my route plan from Kathmandu to Hamburg was extensive: 8am flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi, 4hours layover, New Delhi to Milan, 4hours there, finally, Milan to Hamburg…

After leaving Nepal far behind, we disembarked in New Delhi, India. Quite a fancy airport and it even has sleeping “cocoons” that you can rent if you have a long layover.

Once again we were given bag tags to add to our ever growing collection, I think I will look like a traveling Christmas Tree by the time I am through all of these.

Bag Tag Decorations

Waiting in line I met Hannah, returning to the UK after volunteering in Nepal for a few months. Going through security check number 2 or 3 since arriving at the airport, we had to scan our bags. Her’s was pulled to the side and the good humored guards asked where the little pair of scissors were. She argued stating there were none, but when she unpacked it she found it in a little side pocket. There was much laughter. As mine went through I took out my little pair before they even had a chance to ask, dang it totally forgot about them till Hannah was arguing. We joked that they should open a used scissor shop after work. It was refreshing to find airport security with a sense of humor.

Money Exchanges… Or Not

I had ended up with 2500 Nepali Rupees, totally forgetting to change my money before I left (blaming lack of sleep and emotions). But was certain I could change it into Euros in New Delhi airport or at the very least change it into a currency that would be more workable once I got to Germany. As it turns out there were TWO major issues:

1) Past immigration and security no FOREIGNER could exchange money (only Indian Passport holders). Since transit meant I was already past security meant I had no hope of being able to do this.

It did occur to me to ask an Indian Passport holder to change it for me… until

2) They don’t take Nepali Rupees.

GO FIGURE!!! It was suggested that one of the Duty Free stores might take them, but after about 15 shops both Hannah and I realised there wasn’t much hope. Mmmmm guess it means I just have to go back to Nepal.

People Watching

People watching in airports is one of my favorite pastimes and this was no different. This brought a bemused giggle to my lips:

Reebok Monks

I can barely afford Reeboks and here are 2 monks buying a pair of stylish running shoes in the Duty Free Shop (which is usually twice as expensive).

Jet Airways continued

So far Jet Airways had been pretty decent and I hoped this would continue with the 11hour flight to Milan looming in my near future. After an hour delay it was time to board, then a further 30minute delay we were finally in the air. I was in the middle section on the aisle with an Indian mom and 2 boys. For the most part they were reasonably well behaved, but there was the occasional elbow in the ribs when they weren’t concentrating. Luckily Jet outdid themselves with individual entertainment units, great service and decent food. I think I even managed a bit of shut eye, which is rare for me unless I have a row to myself.

Arrival Milan Airport

Finally landing in Milan and feeling decidedly travel worn already, I wandered through the airport towards my gate, which was on the far end. On the way I thought it wise to draw some Euros, but at that precise moment could not remember if Italy used them or not. I asked at one of the duty free shops and after a bit of confusion with translation I got my question across and the fact that I was brain dead at that moment. We all laughed and they pointed me in the direction of an ATM. Of course it was all in Italian without the option of English (if there was one it was probably asking in Italian if you wanted English). Oh well, it was a good thought.

Went through another security check and finally found my gate, I literally think it was at the end of the airport. Another hour long delay so I decided to buy some internet time just to let all those who needed to know that I had made it this far.

The plane was almost empty and I just hung back to board up hoping to get a front row to sleep. Thank karma I did, the attendant too one look at me and didn’t argue, pointing me to the second row. I think I was out for the count before the plane even left the ground. I woke up just before we landed and before my eyes were even in focus the attendant was offering me the snack and juice I had missed at the beginning. I love good service and was very appreciative of this.

REUNION!

Germany was not just a country of random choosing like most of the others. At the very beginning of my trip, in my first country, I had met an awesome girl by the name of Cathleen in Aguas Calientes. You can read about that in my entry “Aguas Calientes Day 13”. We had always joked about me visiting her on my way home but never really thought I would get the chance to. Once I realised I was going to Nepal and would head home over Europe it just seemed like it was meant to be. Cathleen lived in Leipzig in the former Eastern side of Germany but had traveled to Hamburg to meet me. As I got off the plane and wandered through the non existent immigration check (still very strange to enter a new country without all that rigamarole and slightly annoying as I now don’t have a German stamp in my passport), I felt exhausted but was very excited to see my friend.

She was there with her friend Hendrik who lived in Hamburg. He had driven her to the airport which meant no dealing with public transport, he also gave up his bed for us. I was exhausted but still had many things going through my mind and still trying to fathom that my year of travel was only 2 weeks from an end. This would prove to be a difficult idea to wrap my head around in the weeks to come.

But for now, there was a new country to explore and a great friend to catch up with.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 7 – Emotional

Jan 12th 2011

Today was quite overwhelming, most likely due to a combination of hormones and preparing for my trip to Cusco. Turns out Fernando would most likely have to leave for the afternoon to help a friend and may not be back till the next day. Which meant we had to organize a taxi to pick me up at about 6am in the morning.

Laundry
we headed to his parents to get some laundry done, but there was a lot going on in the house and I hid in the kitchen trying to get some email work done. Just as I had decided to give up on the dryer, it was just making the wet clothes warm rather than dry, Rosa, the housekeeper announced she had made us lunch. So I went and hung everything on the line, considering the scorching nature of the day I guessed my laundry would be dry in about 10 min.

Conversations
Fernando and I started chatting over lunch and it took all sorts of philosophical twists and turns, ending in me trying to explain why I was wanting to do this trip and what I wanted to get out of it. Suddenly he said “I know you want to feel safe”, he hit the nail on the head, and I got a wee bit emotional. But sucked it up and we moved on to collecting the laundry.

Its really not about being unhappy in one place or another, its more about finding that place and or person that makes you want to stay put, or something along those lines.

We got home and Fernando headed out, I was not sure when he might return but we had booked the taxi and he had given me precise spanish instructions on how to call and confirm the taxi.

Hot Water and time Out
Thank the heavens we had hot water in at least one shower. It turned out to be more luke warm, but it took the chill away and it felt wonderful. So giving myself a time out, I had a shower, washed my hair and just generally took it easy. Made some roast chicken with left overs from the night before using some medium Nando’s Peri Peri spice I had brought with me. It was delicious. Then I watched “I am Legend” caught up on my diary and suddenly all was right with the world.

Impromptu Spanish Class
Suddenly Fernando returned with a friend in tow, who spoke very limited English, and the evening turned into an impromptu Spanish class. It was a lot of fun and good to have everyone in a light hearted mood after that morning. I was taught some basics and then also some colloquial words to use to, how should I say, get my point across.

By midnight I headed to bed and Fernando set his alarm. A good day in the end, even if the morning was a bit tough.

Stay tuned for my arrival in Cusco and discovering the real meaning of Altitude sickness.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 6 – String Glorious String

Jan 11th 2011

Did not sleep very well, too much going on in my head, probably didn’t help that Fernando fell asleep with his iPod on and the faint sound from the headphones filtered through the walls. Add to that my blisters from my sandals started itching badly so then I had to root around in my med kit to find the cortisone cream… if its not one things then its another.

Volunteer in Pisco???
I was meant to leave for Pisco today for a week of volunteering, but received an email yesterday saying they no longer had space and would only take volunteers for 2 weeks. I was a little annoyed but what can you do. We decided to change my ticket to spend more time in Cusco (which turned out to be a fabulous turn of events).

String!!!!
We had a fairly relaxing morning and then headed out to the Historical District to look for the string I use for making jewelery, Katia had given Fernando precise directions. Not only did we find it but it was only 7 soles (about $2.15 US) for about a 100m roll. I bought 5 and need to buy more. Fernando said he would be my string dealer and send me some when I need it.

Chinatown
There was a big commotion in the main square as the changing of the guards proceeded, apparently it was a special ceremony but no one could tell us much about it. Wandering towards Chinatown we picked up some street food on a stick, Fernando got heart and I got chorizo sausage, delicious. In Chinatown there was a big Peruvian guy harrassing an old Chinese guy begging for money, he was acting all tough guy (obviously making up for something). Fernando gave the beggar some money and very loudly chastised the big guy.

Ticket Change
After a quick but delicious lunch we grabbed the metro bus to Miraflores to change the ticket. The Metro buses are the new fancy big buses that will eventually replace the small buses that have no time table, careen through the streets like crazy and are generally a health hazard (all be it amusing to ride). We were able to change my ticket for only a $30 charge to leave in 2 days (13th), giving me 6 days longer there. It also means the possibility of visiting other places close by like Lake Titicaca.

Going Solo
Fernando headed off and left me to sort things out on my own. Found an internet cafe and wrote a blog entry, then headed to the main square. Then returned to the internet cafe to pick up my book I had left. I am telling you one day I will forget my brain somewhere.

Kennedy Park/Cat Park
As I returned to the main square I noticed a cat in the park, then another and another. As I was taking a picture some locals gestured for me to head around the back of the church. Low and behold there is an entire community of stray cats that are cared for by local groups and the city. They have beds, get food, and are quite calm around humans. Kids regularly walk up to them and drag them around, they seemed totally unphased. In the park they will walk and just plop down in the middle of the walkway and people have to walk around them. I also noticed a large absence of bird life in the park

Flying Dog Hostel
At 5.45pm I had set up a meeting with a hostel owner to look around his hostel and potentially get a link exchange for Bootsnall.com (an independent travel site I do occasional work for). the hostel was great and the owner was very proud of it. I mentioned I was heading to Cusco and he offered me a discount to stay at his hostel there. Little did I know that that hostel would turn into home away from home.

Heading Home and Dinner with Friends
Grabbing a bus back home, feel almost like a local, I headed back. the bus got super crowded and I gave up my seat for an older gentlemen. When I got off and walked across the street with a family we all nearly got hit by a taxi zooming past. We all laughed and they intimated how you had to suck you butt in when ever you cross the road.

Fernando showed up an hour later with the first of some friends who were coming for dinner and we went to shop for food. Or rather his friend and I walked behind Fernando and carried everything he passed to us. His friends were from when he was a young boy and they had a really close bond. Around 1am I went to go pee and ended up lying down and falling asleep, they all seemed to be having a very intense conversation downstairs anyway.

All in all another great day!

Stay tuned as things get emotional and we attempt another impromptu Spanish lesson.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 5 – solo adventure and museums

Jan 10th 2011

Today Fernando has a business meeting out of the city and so I have the whole day to keep myself occupied. I decide that it is time to step out on my own and test my skills on local transport. Heading out to the appropriate curb I grab a bus heading to Miraflores so I can meet up with Katia and see her shop. Fernando had instructed me to catch the green, red and white bus to Barranco. However, I recognised the name of Chorillyos and knew it was after Barranco, after quickly checking with the guy if they head to Miraflores I jumped on.

The small local busses that you just grab on the side of the street have a ticket taker come intense collector of passengers. These men and women ride half hanging out of the bus announcing the destination and trying to encourage folks to ride their bus. In between these techniques to attract new customers they wander around the bus jingling change and collecting the fair. It is all rather amusing.

The ticket taker on this bus kept giving me encouraging winks (at least thats what I am going with) and when a guy came and stood right in front of me he tried to make the guy move so I could see. The guy didn’t but I appreciated the attempt. After about 30min I finally recognised the big circle and bus stop and hopped off. What a relief. After a quick call to Katia she came and met me.

Her store is fantastic, with lots of cute and …. interesting stuff made by local young designers. The best was still Katia’s jewellery and I really want to buy a pair of her earrings. We hung out at her store as she worked on updating the inventory and price stickers for the new year. Around noon we walked over to a chifa (small chinese restaurant) and met Danny for lunch. But first, bless her heart, we had an icecream, she is a girl after my own heart.

We had the ever present Inka Kola and pork/veggies and crunchie noodles. Very filling and delicious. Walking back to the bus stop I hopped on the next bus and headed home.

I had hoped to get some laundry done, but when I got back to the house, Fernando’s mom was there and I could tell she was really busy so didn’t want to ask. Instead I decided to head to the museum she had recommended. As luck would have it, Fernando’s dad was heading out the door so gave me a ride.

Larco Museum:

The museum was amazing, very well laid out and not overwhelming. The exhibits were inset into a black wall and so the lighting was perfect. They even had a small room with a library and free internet (at least I assumed it was free). There was a room for what I can only assume was the overstock, glass case after glass case of pottery all sorted into sections. It just blows your mind.

Fernando’s parents had told me there was also an Erotica exhibit of Inca pottery (which was a little weird having them telling me to check it out). It turned out to be almost hidden away with the lights off. As you enter the lights come on section by section. I had thought this was because of children, but according to Fernando it is due to the prudish nature of the catholic religion. Lets just say the Incas left little to the imagination and one could get quite hot under the collar.
WARNING SENSITIVE PICTURES BELOW

Once I was all done there I headed home and decided to just walk the 15 blocks hoping to come across a bakery I had seen on the way. I didn’t find the bakery but just when I decided to have an icecream from one of the guys selling them on bikes, there were none to be found. Go figure. By the time I got home I was exhausted and crashed for 2hrs. Fernando came home around 10pm and we watched “Descent 2”, stupid scary, but amusing all the same.

Stay tuned for further adventures through “cat park”, more new friends and string glorious string.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 4 – Pachacamac, seafood and wetlands

Jan 9th 2011

Fernando had got in really late, or rather early this morning, but we still managed to crawl out of bed around 8.30am. We headed over to his parents house to check email and, as usual, she fed us.

The plan for today was to pick up Danny and head out to an archaeological site. The coast of Peru is desert, with very fine sand that gets into everything, but it also means it preserves sites very well.

“Our” sense of direction got a little muddled, we found Avenido Baden Powell but kept turning the wrong way to get to Danny’s house. Eventually we figured it out and picked him up. On the way out of the city Katia called and said she would join, so we parked in the shade and waited for her to catch up in the taxi.

Before long we were speeding out of the city and all its craziness. The cultural site we were headed to is called, Pachacama, or The Sun Temple. It just rises out of the sand and is truly breathtaking. Civilization is encroaching quickly, and there are sure to be further parts of the Sun Temple under these towns.

Here is a small blurb about the temple from http://www.labyrinthina.com/pachacamac:

“Pachacamac (pronounced: pah cha kamak) lies 25 miles SE of Lima adjacent to the Pan American highway astride the Pacific coastline. “Pachacámac” in Quechua means “Pacha” world, and “camac” to animate — “The One who Animates the World.” The site was considered one of the most important religious centers of the indigenous peoples of the central Andes, and contains a number of pyramids. Spanish historical records, along with extensive archaeological research, have served to clarify its history and significance. Built centuries before the time of the Incas, Pachacamac is noted for its great pyramidal temples, and for the remains of frescoes adorning its adobe walls. Culturally and chronologically it is related to Chancay, and other centers of the Cuismancu empire, including Huari. At the time of the Spanish conquest it was a major Inca shrine.

According to legend – “in the beginning there were no foods for the first man and the first woman, and the man died of starvation. The Sun then fertilized the woman and she produced an offspring. Pachacámac became jealous of his heir, and killed the offspring, scattering the remains. These became the essential ingredients of humanity: the “teeth of man” were maize, his “bones”, yuca. Artistic images of Pachacamac do not exist, he was considered invisible. However, a wooden staff, thought to be a representation of Pachacamac, was found in 1938 during an excavation of the site. Miguel de Estete writes on the matter, “the Idol makes them [the Incas] understand that it can sink them if they anger it!” Tremors and earthquakes were expressions of his anger.”

After wandering around and exploring we headed out to get some lunch and what a lunch it was. First on the menu was lightly cooked fish in lemon juice with a yellow chilli sauce, then calamari and finishing with a sort of Paella. Delicious. Of course inka cola and beer to join and at the very start a bowl full of something similar to corn nuts, but way tastier.

Our final stop was some wetlands that even had some basic environmental education. It turned out to be cheaper, and way more fun, to row around the wetlands vs walking. Unfortunately these boats were not very easy to row and on numerous occasions we ended up in the reeds and hysterics. There were many kinds of birds, including cormorants, ducks, a type of vulture, egrets and many more. Some of the most fun I have had to date.

Before parting ways we stopped in Lima and picked up a kind of fruit shaved ice, I had pineapple and it was delicious. We dropped off Katia and Danny and then stopped by a store to pick up some things and get the car washed. Well we were there I got a long sleeved mens button up shirt, per the biologists, this is vital in the jungle as I can use that over my clothes and spray it with deet (insect repellent) instead of myself.

When we finally made it home we made some dinner (rather Fernando did) and relaxed a bit. Fernando had to go to his folks house as he had a really early morning and needed all his paperwork and such. I spent the evening watching Iron Man 2 and went to bed early..ish.

Stay tuned for my adventures as I take the bus solo, have some bad news on my volunteer work and exploring the Larco museum.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 3 – Tickets, Phones and a Taste of Peru

Jan 8 2011
The plan, again, had been to get up early and head out to get a whole bunch of errands done and back in time for Fernando to head out for a meeting. But needles to say we got a very late start.

We were supposed to head into Miraflores to sort out my tickets to Cusco, get me a phone and then visit Katia at her store. We only managed the first two and then had to rush home by taxi to make sure Fernando could head out in time.

As he left he ordered me to be brave and attempt to walk around as much as possible. I made it to the store up the road and bought juice, cereal, chocolate and beer :), then stopped at then stopped at the internet cafe and checked on a few things. Heading home I discovered that Fernando’s parents had stopped by and had left me note.

Later on after a delicious hotdog for dinner and a shower, I relaxed and worked on a few things. His parents showed up a couple of hours later with some things for the house and offered to show me around the neighborhoods and point out the locations of a few museums.

They then decided to take me to the area of Barranco and let me try a few Peruvian delicacies. At that point I had not known that that was where we had been the night before and after Fernando’s mom called him she was a little annoyed at the fact that I had been to the exact place she wanted to take me. Instead we went to another famous restaurant and we had 3 varieties of savory tamales and one sweet. We also had 2 very sweet and super delicious desserts, but I think I was on the verge of a sugar coma. The first was almost bread pudding like, it had bread cubes, coconut chunks, raisins and soaked in a sweet coco sauce. The other was a rich caramel base with sweetened soft meringue on top. To go along with this I was given an amazing Pisco drink that had an almost Bailey’s Irish cream feel to it, but oh so much better. Pisco Algarrobina, simply delicious!

After a short walk around the square we headed home. His parents are amazing and I really appreciated the tour. I got to bed at the early hour of around 11.30pm.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues and we head into the desert to visit old temples, eat delicious sea food and row around a wetland.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 1 – Better out than in…

January 6th 2011

Well the aforementioned 7am wake up time for a full day of touring was rescheduled to 10am as neither of us were in any state to wake up before double digits graced the clock. Fernando had just spent a week up north with friends and I had, well, just flown across the world.

So finally rousing ourselves, we decided to grab some juice for breakfast and head to the historic district. The temperature was around a balmy 20C (68F) and beautifully sunny. I was given the option of taxi or local bus and voted for diving head first into local transport. It was insane and fantastic. As I mentioned before, drivers in Lima don’t exactly follow rules and a pedestrian definately does not have right of way. The hooter/horn is a drivers best friend and is used as a communication device pretty much. And yet even with the insanity and swerving and 5 cars wide on a 2 lane road there did not seem to be any collisions.

Surviving my first bus ride we got down near the entrance to the historic district and Fernando continued to give me tour guide like information on everything, it was fascinating. Remnants from the colonial era when Spain controlled Peru are everywhere. Beautiful window box balconies are everywhere, with intricate woodwork and stunning colors.

Tile work is found in every nook and cranny and just blow you away by the complexity of it all.

Today is known as “Three Kings Day”. Local Police, I believe, dress up as the Three Kings of the Orient and hand out gifts to the city’s children. Even their horses were dresses up with colorful ear covers. There was a general feel of festivity and there were art shows focusing on the birth of Christ and parades everywhere.

After buying a small bag we went in search of food. I was starting to feel really tired and realised that I had not been drinking water, but shrugged it off as I listened to more fascinating facts about the city. The river that runs through Lima is translated into “The Talking River”. Unfortunately with modernisation it doesn’t so much talk as it does groan.

Finally deciding on some lunch, I had fried chicken cutlet and chips and a glass of water. Fernando also ordered us a glass of Chicha, a drink made from a species of dark purple corn and is quite delicious and refreshing. I began to feel a little better, but still not so hot, or rather very hot.
Heading to the other side of the plaza we came across this amazing old guy painting on the side of the road, his work is amazing. He showed up to his gallery which is essentially a stair case. He had oils, watercolors, pencil drawings from all over Peru and he wanted to show me all and explaing everything (through Fernando). There was one was one painting of a moon over the ocean and I swear you could almost hear the ocean it looked so alive (note the bottom painting in the photo). But it would be near impossible to get home and I think above my budget. I settled for a small watercolor of a Peruvian child and said goodbye, my mind still lost in the ocean scene.

We stopped to get me some more water and Fernando had a beer and then headed over to Church of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. If only I felt better I could have enjoyed it more. But as it was I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. I am not a religious person, but there were areas that make you want to stop and take a moment and feel the power in the walls. Most of the church is made from natural plant materials and therefore are resistant to earthquakes. One of my favorite rooms was the library, with original books from the 1400’s. Moving onto the catacombs, not for the squeamish or claustrophobic, we discovered 1000’s of bones laid to rest here hundreds of years ago. The church and monastery was the first public cemetery at the time and around 25,000 people were buried here. The catacomb walls are made of bricks with a thick layer of pebbles mixed with the whites from sea bird eggs and soil. Another form of earthquake prevention.

Upon our exit I felt terrible and even a short sit in a lovely park did not make me feel better. So we grabbed a taxi and headed home. Enthusiastic as ever, Fernando continued to give me interesting details and facts. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of them as I was 100% focused on not throwing up in the cab. When we got home I ran upstairs and made it just in time. I am fairly certain I could have earned a role in the exorcist as I swear the last weeks worth of food managed to make its way back up again. Crawling into bed Fernando checked on me and brought me some water. He headed out to do some errands and let me recover. I passed out for about 2 hrs until round two hit me, this time from both ends! I was not a happy camper and crawled back into bed. After some more water I started feeling ok, I guess the old adage “Better out than in” is very true.

Around 8pm I surfaced again. I had a shower, a cold one. And drank some more water, still couldn’t eat anything. Around 10pm I was trying to remember if Fernando had said he was staying at his parents house that night due to an early meeting or if that was tomorrow night. Finally I decided to give my US cell phone a try as the house had no landline. Surprisingly it worked and he answered, and as is Murphy’s Law he was 2 blocks away with his parents.

Wait a minute! Did he say with his parents? Here I am in my pj’s, still white as a sheet, barely able to keep water down and this is going to be my initial meeting… Well his parents are amazing and his mom brought me an amazing plate of food. Peruvian chicken curry, rice and boiled potato. It was delicious but I could barely eat 3 or 4 bites, I felt bad for not being able to eat more. But there was no need to worry and his mom also peeled a prickly pear for me which was amazing, but again could only eat half.

After about an hour they headed home. Fernando insisted we sit and watch a movie and since I had already slept the last 5hrs I figured why not. We got to bed around 2am and I could see a new bedtime was developing. I guess I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, or rather Oregon where 9pm sounded perfectly fine.

Stay tuned for more adventures including meeting new friends, exploring new areas and tasting new food…

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Exploring the Mission, riding the TSA carnival and twiddling thumbs

Day 2 (San Fran)
There wasn´t much movement in the Shorr house until about 1pm and I was perfectly ok with that. Knowing that you a full day of travel starting at midnight definately encourages the part of the brain that wants to do as little as humanly possible.
However lunch was required so after throwing in some laundry, we dragged ourselves outside to a local chinese-japanese restuarant. After much humming and hahing we settled for some sushi for Rach and some egg fried rice, sesame fried chicken and fried eggroll for me… so bad but soooo good!
After all that calorie intake, at least on my part, it was decided that a short walk was in order down through the Mission District. After walking for a couple of hours, exploring a couple of stores we stopped and had some delicious coffee at a trendy little spot called Ritual Coffee Roaster on 21st and Valencia.
Heading back we realised our short walk had morphed into around 3miles, well I guess thats the eggroll worked off.

Back at the house I had another shower, hand washed a shirt and tossed it in the dryer. Then got all my shite together and started the waiting game. I can honestly say the worst part of traveling for me is waiting. Waiting to go to the airport, waiting for the flight, waiting to land… and by 8pm my nerves were getting the better of me, that or the food had given me indigestion. Rach eventually suggested we just head to the airport as I was starting to make her quite ancy. This sounded perfectly fine with me, if I have to wait I would rather wait at the airport where I can wonder round and distract myself.

At the airport I was one of the first in line at Taca airlines and soon had a spot for check in. Unfortunately it also happened to be the one counter that experienced technical difficulties when it tried to print my baggage tag, go figure. After about 30min of arguing with the machine and getting a few others to help they finally got the tag printed on another machine. Then it was off to security.

Back at the Eugene airport we still only have a metal detector and so I was quite excited to be in line for the new carnival ride, the imaging thingy-me-bob.
How to proceed:
– remove bag place in bin along with hand bag and laptop out of case
– remove shoes place in bin
– remove coat, jacket and vest place in bin
– remove money belt, money neck pouch and bracelet place in bin
– hope you have removed all neccesary items
– step into ride and place hands above head
– be amused by the MRI type thing swing around you and joke with the TSA guys
– walk over to little yellow spots and wait for thumbs up
(note you do not need to have your hands up still, as I realised 5minutes into a conversation with the TSA lady about the cuteness of my penguin socks – she never told me to put them down).
– get thumbs up and proceed to replace all items in the opposit order
(supress urge to ask for printout of photo like they have at splash mountain… really felt like I deserved one)

I was quite famished after that exciting adventure and after I wolfed down a delicious chicken panini I worked on calling as many mates as possible to use up the 3000 minutes I had left from rollover…. turns out most people didn´t answer and here I thought you would all be waiting with baited breath at the phone.
Wandering around the stores I found an international cell phone that promised to solve all my travel communication woes for $60.
Decided I was now old enough that buying one of the neck pillows would not be pretentious and stupid… and the soft fleecy cover had nothing to do with it.

With barely 2hrs to go till boarding I found my gate and sat down to call some more friends and play with my new toy. However soon I realised I was not smarter than the phone and so took it back to get help. As it turns out, much to the dismay of the salesman, the international phone works for Australia and New Zealand and no where else… call me crazy but that would make it not exactly international per say. Luckily I was able to return it.

Heading back to the gate I sat and called Janys, aka Smurphy. During our conversation I realised I didn´t have my cell charger anywhere… this night just gets better. I realised I must have left it at the drinking fountain but it wasn´t there and the store clerk next door had not had anyone drop it off. Then I remembered it was in a bag from the tech shop so headed that way. I had barely walked through the door when the clerk grabbed it and handed it over, thank heavens for honest people. He was rather bemused to see me again, and I am just going to take it as a compliment that he knew I was the one who had lost it.
Well at least I managed to make the last 20minute wait exciting. Shortly thereafter the clock struck midnight and we were boarding a plane for South America.

Stay tuned for day 3 with long layovers and waiting for pick up…

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Seriously Seeking Sponsors

I have never been afraid to seek sponsors or raise money for an organisation or worthy cause. However, when it comes to asking for money for something like my trip, it just seems wrong. “This is my crazy plan and I should pay for it” is what the one side of brain says. “But you are volunteering and helping so getting a sponsor or 5 would be a great idea” is what the other side of my brain says.

So while continually saving and scrimping, I decided to also attempt to look for sponsors. My first try was REI. Not only do I love their gear but I figured their approach to environmental education and the such might make my trip a shoo in. And the result is…..No! But we do have a sale coming up.

Well thanks for nothing, although I am going to go check out the sale, need new Keen sandals.

Just as one door closes another one opens, or so the saying goes. In my preparations I have begun to get my vaccines, which I was fairly certain would not be covered in any way shape or form by health insurance. ‘ Cause we all know how good it is in the USA. But surprise surprise apparently the one I have through work is one of the good ones. Not only will they cover the Hep A and B combo they will also cover my Rabies. Rabies alone is over $750 and the HepA/B comes to around $520.

And just as well, as it sounds like vampire bats near Lima are spreading rabies all over that part of the world.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Let the Vaccinations begin…

A few years back, after returning from Cambodia and Vietnam, a fellow traveler asked “so what vaccines and malaria prevention did you get?” I kind of paused and looked baffled then replied, “vaccines??” Maybe its growing up in Africa or maybe just sheer blind faith in nothing happening, but it had never even entered my mind to seek vaccines or malaria prevention.  Heck I grew up about 3degrees south of the “malaria area” according to blood donor map when I donated blood at university. Maybe I assumed I was immune. My friend on the other hand was downright flabbergasted and shocked. Oops was pretty much my reaction.

This time, however, I have decided to ere on the side of caution. This may be older and wiser, it may be my mum wanting me to be extra careful, but most likely it is the Health Savings Plan that my work provides that covers pretty much all the cost. I guess there are some benefits to the working life.

Today was the day I met with the travel doctor and had the “how to travel safely” chat and which vaccines would be appropriate. I ended up with the first of 3 Hep A/B combo in the right shoulder, intra-muscular (OW!!!), yellow fever in my left arm, subcutaneous, and my little box of Typhoid tablets in the fridge, which I can start taking in 11min (have to wait 2hrs after food).  A grand total of $355 this time round and still another 2 series of $140 for the Heps to be completed. Not to mention the Rabies vaccine I might need (I will be working in a wildlife refuge), and that series of 3 costs over $700….

With every step this trip becomes more real, and the more real it becomes the more excited I become, the more excited I become the more terrified and brave I am at the same time. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the planning! Stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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