Friday, April 28, 2006

did you know?

did you know that the official currency in ecuador is the u.s. dollar? seems crazy, but true. and being american, it makes for easy money conversions without having to do complicated math.
i wonder if they know all of our dead presidents because of this.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

shout outs

3 days cutting across peru to get from la paz to loja, ecuador.
2 planes, 3 busses, and one psycho bus driver in ecuador.
i've left the gringo trail going through bolivia into peru, and getting onto a new gringo trail, although this one doesn't seem as gringo-ey. i was the only westerner on the border crossing bus. speaking of border crossing, peruvian customs gave me some trouble crossing the border into ecuador. i think they thought i was smuggling contraband or something, since i was only in peru for 3 days, and came from bolivia.
anyway, i have to give a shot out to emerson from cape cod who i travelled with for about 3 weeks (and also to his novia, genvieve who left early a couple weeks back). it was good travelling with him, his vitamin I addiction, and his south american psychedelic 60's records that he picked up. the band 'pintura fresca' from 60's argentina is my fave. check out his blog ((right here)) which has some photos of us from our recent travels.
also, a shout out to nicola who i met on the antarctica trip and hung out with for a week in sucre and la paz. unfortunately she broke her ankle in uyuni, and got a cast in bolivia which actually made things worse, then had emergency surgery in cusco, peru 2 weeks later, and now has to fly home. suck. ((here's her story on her blog)). the details, including a couple of shots in the ass from a bolivian doctor, are epic. anyway, here's some photos she took in ((sucre)) including a few of yours truly, and some of her ((antarctica)) shots.
it was fun travelling and spreading the gospel of shithead with you both.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

playing chicken with an alligator

couple of thoughts on this sequence. one, do not try this at home. two, i wish i caught this on video. the funny thing is, the girl who was taking these shots, had trouble with my camera, so there was actually a time lapse. the other funny thing is, me and this english guy james actually did this sequence twice. james tried to cross the bench but made to much noise walking, and ran towards us panicking. the alligator was actually more scared, and there natural instinct is to head to water.
either way, this was still pretty stupid. still it was a pretty fun time. by the way, james was the guy who withdrew $400 usd in fake bills.

spent a week in the jungle and the pampas - jungle shots

jungle is hot. very hot.
and very humid. and thick. and dense. and moist.
and lots and lots and lots of mosquitos.
you hear a lot of wildlife, but it's hard to see them since the forest is so thick. still had a great time doing a bunch of hikes, eating a lot (they feed you so much on tours for some reason), and made some jewelry from nuts (there's a joke in there somewhere). also learned a lot about all the different medicinal plants and trees.
the brown waters of the beni river leading to the jungles of madidi national forest

this capabyra (wild pig thing) swam across the beni river, and here he is finally reaching land.

our camp

spider web

orange mushrooms

me tarzan

spent a week in the jungle and the pampas - pampas shots

spent a week in the jungle and the pampas. the pampas are savannahs which are pretty much flooded wetlands abundant with wildlife including bloodsucking mosquitos(the jungle was much worse). saw and heard lots of monkeys including the howler monkey, swam with pink dolphins, lots of birds and also a few resident alligators.
here's the boat we took on a 3 hour ride to our camp in the pampas.

here's a vulture drying his wings.

here's a couple of white crane like birds of which i can't remember the name. they were real big and flew majestically. i can't think of a better flying adjective. they're birds, let's leave it at that.

here's some tiny chichilla monkeys in the trees. they weren't shy, and even jumped on the boat. not sure what they're doing in the last shot, and i'm not sure if i really want to know.

our camp in the pampas with our resident egret named linda, in the foreground.

a closeup of linda

sunset in the pampas

we had two resident alligators. this is casimiero, a blind 60 year old alligator.

this is juan. juan is bigger than casimiero.

here's juan warming in the sun.

and in case you haven't seen it, here's the alligator chicken shots

so we spent one morning, 3 hours to be exact, baking in the sun, walking in the swamp in gumboots looking for anacondas. the only thing that ended up happening was getting a million and one mosquito bites, and i also broke my sunglasses swatting at a mosquito. but on the landcruiser ride back to town, our guide roberto saw a young anaconda in the road. the driver stopped, roberto ran out and grabbed it. and here it is -

spent a week in the jungle and the pampas - here's the plane

here are photos of the view and the plane we caught from la paz to rurrenabaque in bolivia. tiny 20 seater twin prop plane which likes to shake if sneezed in. on the flight back to la paz, the girl behind me looked like she was going to have a nervous breakdown from the twisting and shaking when we went through the high cordillera valley. she was about to cry and kept stamping her feet. in a weird way, her trauma made me feel fine about the flight. not sure what that says about me, but there could be a character flaw in there somewhere.

mountain views from the plane of the high cordillera outside la paz.

this is the plane

this is the airport in rurrenabaque

this is the runway

this is the cockpit which you can walk right up to and ask the pilots if you could maybe take if for a spin

back in la paz

back in la paz, bolivia, the highest capital in the world. great orange city sitting in a crater below the altiplano surrounded by snow capped peaks. here's some photos below, and here are some from ((((((2.5 years ago))))))

some sort of military procession during santa semana (holy week) the night before easter

an aymara lady and a chicken

llama fetuses in the witches market used for medicinal purposes.

this guy i met in the jungle withdrew $400 usd's, and this is what he got spit out of the atm. doesn't look real, doesn't feel real, and i hope he can get his money back from the national bank of bolivia. if you look close, the bill even says 'SIN VALOR LEGAL' which obviously means not legal tender. supposedly there's a lot of fake us dollars in the monetary system here. i hope he gets his money back, but why the hell was he taking 400 usd's out to begin with??

Thursday, April 13, 2006

photo highlights from the 4 day salar de uyuni (salt flats) tour

i'm in sucre right now, heading back to la paz.
just finished the 4 day salar de uyuni tour. 8 of us piled into a land cruiser trekking through the southwestern desert portion of bolivia. saw incredible marslike landscapes, volcanoes, lakes, and the white expanse of the largest salt flats in the world. also saw tons of llamas, alpacas, vicunas, and flamingoes.
did you know that bolivia has the largest population of llamas in the world?
well now you do.
also, also, lots of bolivian kids who were not shy to pose for the camera (photos towards the end)
we peaked in this high desert at 5000 meters (16,404') in elevation, the highest i've ever been, nearly causing all of our heads to explode. luckily, didn't get altitude sickness at that height, even though we slept at an elevation of about 15,500' one night. now that i'm only at about 8000' in elevation, i can drink like a fish again.
anyway, here's some shots:

saw some incredible landscape

saw lots of llamas

saw lots of llamas in the landscape

played soccer at 15,000', gringos v. bolivianos. bols had the altitude advantage

here was the boliviano star player. he used the normal futbol tactics such as kicking and using his head, as well as telling us 'hey, look over there, it's your girlfriend', in order to score goals.

here's our landcruiser that we spent 4 lovely days stinking up. we nicknamed it after the word llama in latin which is 'lama glama'. also, did i mention we were at high altitude. israeli girl to the right not feeling so hot.

here's a photo of my profile (how do you spell silhoutte?) at 5000 meters at the sulfur (sp. is it sulphur?) geysers. i was covered in sulfur spots to make this shot happen. i look like i just painted my house.

saw lots of flamingos and perfect lake reflections at 15,000' at laguna colorada. there were 3 different types of flamingos in these shots, the andino, the chileno, and the james flamingos. don't ask me which one is which.

desolate desert landscape. looks like another planet.

this rock is like my legs. scrawny calves leading to a fat ass.

saw green lakes, volcanoes, mountain peaks, and a lot of the 'lama glama'

valley of the rocks

sunset in colchani

sunrise at the salar de uyuni, with one jesus silhoutte by yours truly.

the salt hotel on the salar. yes, it's made of salt blocks. stayed in a different salt hotel the night before.

emerson from cape cod showing why the united states is such a superpower

here i am getting squashed and shitted on

the incredible whiteness of the salt flats

more jesus themes. this time me walking on water

or driving on water

girls playing in colchani

taking a baby llama for a walk

or carrying it

kids playing in the 'cemetario del tren' just outside of uyuni

i'm always behind the camera, but i thought it would be nice for this quechuan lady to take a photo for her memories

photos from the beautiful colonial city of sucre. it's one of two capitals in bolivia, the other being la paz, where i'm at right now. don't ask why there are 2 capitals. i can't be bothered to answer such questions right now.
rooftop view from hostal in sucre

market in sucre

wasting an entire day drinking, enjoying the view, and playing lots of shithead

artsy shot