Saturday, September 30, 2006

toe the scratch?

che, these photos are for you. condors when i was trekking outside bariloche on mount tronador. great hikes down there, and you can spend nights on the mountain at refugios (similar to mountain huts in colorado). if you guys get down to bariloche, you've got to stay at this hostel ((la morada)) the views are breathtaking. take a look at their gallery photos. easily the nicest hostel i've ever stayed at.

seen yesterday here in yangshou china:

toe the scratch? i think the translation is more confusing than the chinese lettering. by the way, the second phrase translates to Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Friday, September 29, 2006

300 club

Today signifies a big milestone in my travels. It's day 300 of my voyage.
Actually it's not that big of a deal, it's just a slow news day here in China.
But for no reason other than to pass time, (and maybe pass some suggestions and advice on some of the places i've been to) here's my last 300 days, starting with day 1 on December 5th.

day 1 :: San Francisco to New York to San Paolo to Rio de Janiero, Brasil. Long day.
day 2-8 :: Rio de Janiero, Brasil. Great city, beautiful. Dangerous because the nightlife is incredible, but have heard of crime stories from others.
day 9-10 :: Ouro Preto, Brasil. Ouro Preto means Black Gold, not to be confused with the Oscar winning film 'White Gold'. By the way, this is where the idea for travelling while shooting films originally came up thanks to a Dutch guy I met. Wish I could remember his name, but my sketchbook got stolen which had his info in it (see day 26).
day 11-12 :: Ilha Grande, Brasil. Favorite island/beach in Brasil.
day 13-15 :: Paraty, Brasil. Hi David and Jimena.
day 16-20 :: Florionopolis, Brasil. Second favorite beach. Good surf.
day 21-23 :: Iguassu Falls, Brasil/Argentina. Christmas in Iguassu. Massive falls. Breathtaking.
day 24-40 :: Buenos Aires, Argentina. The start of my love/hate affair with this city. Getting robbed on Day 26 was the worst part of the trip. Was bummed and numb for 10 days straight.
day 41 :: Colonia, Uruguay. Pretty little town, but very touristy. Got a new passport stamp though.
day 42-50 :: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Took a break on Day 46 and went to Tigre.
day 51-53 :: Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Incredible wildlife. Killer whales, seals, sea elephants and penguins, oh my.
day 54-57 :: Bariloche, Argentina. Greatest hostel in the world, La Morada. Incredible view of Lake Manuel Nahuapi.
day 58-61 :: Cerro Catedral and Mount Tronador, Argentina. Incredible hikes in Patagonia. Que linda!
day 62-65 :: Bariloche, Argentina. Introduced to the backpacker's card game of choice, 'shithead'. Travel has never been the same.
day 66-69 :: El Bolson, Argentina. Hippies and trance fest.
day 70-71 :: Trevelin, Argentina. The most incredible sunset I've ever seen, and I never took a photo of it. Doh.
day 72-74 :: Los Antiguos, Argentina. Unless you're crossing over to Chile, never ever go here past one day. Trust me. We played paper football, cards, coin hockey and basketball to pass the time. We were about to slit each other's wrists.
day 75-79 :: El Chalten, Argentina. The greatest single peak I've ever seen, Mt. Fitzroy. Well worth the hike.
day 80-81 :: El Calafate, Argentina. Touristy, but the Perito Moreno glacier is incredible. You can fit the city of San Francisco in it twice.
day 82-85 :: Puerto Natales, Chile. Got stuck waiting for a friend to do the 'W' hike in Torres del Paine.
day 86-89 :: Torres del Paine, Chile. Easily South America's greatest National Park. Can you believe another backpacker/camper stole our fruit and vegetables? Bad karma.
day 90-91 :: Punta Arenas, Chile. Nothing to see here. Keep moving.
day 92-96 :: Ushuaia, Argentina. The most southern city in the world. Got a last minute trip to Antarctica. 24 hours of initial sticker shock.
day 97-104 :: Antarctica. One of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Hard to put into words.
day 105-106 :: Ushuaia, Argentina. Start heading north.
day 107-113 :: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Oh, you again.
day 114-117 :: Mendoza, Argentina. Lots of wine.
day 118-120 :: Salta, Argentina. Pretty, but needed to get out of Argentina.
day 121-122 :: Tupiza, Bolivia. Back to the real South America.
day 123-126 :: Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. One of the most incredible landscapes I've ever seen.
day 127-130 :: Sucre, Bolivia. City has a nice feel and scale to it.
day 131-134 :: La Paz, Bolivia. Back to the crater city.
day 135-141 :: Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. Jungle and pampas. Played chicken with a crocodile.
day 142 :: La Paz, Bolivia. Heading back north again.
day 143-144 :: Puno and Chiclayo and Piura, Peru. Skipped through Peru and Customs thought I was smuggling contraband.
day 145 :: Loja, Ecuador. Ehh, it's ok.
day 146-148 :: Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Really liked this relaxing little town.
day 149-151 : Cuenca, Ecuador. Rained a lot here. Actually, in all of Ecuador.
day 152-153 :: Riobamba, Ecuador. In transit after hopping a ride on the top of a train. Try doing that in the States.
day 154-156 :: Banos, Ecuador. 2 months after I visited this town, supposedly it got smothered by a volcano. Or at least the surrounding area did.
day 157-162 :: Quito, Ecuador. Second greatest hostel in the world is here, 'The Secret Garden'.
day 163-178 :: Las Palmas, Ecuador. Spending too much money. Needed to plant myself and work for free room and board.
day 179-184 :: Quito, Ecuador. Also went to Cotopaxi volcano for a 2-day mountain bike trip.
day 185-220 :: San Francisco and Long Beach, California. OK, so I cheated. I went home for a month.
day 221-223 :: Buenos Aires, Argentina. I can't believe I'm back here again.
day 224-229 :: Bogota, Colombia. One of my favorite countries in the world.
day 230-234 :: Salento, Colombia. Charming coffee town. First introduced to the gun powder-horseshoe-like game of tejo.
day 235-239 :: Medellin, Colombia. Man, do I love this city. Can't recommend the nightlife enough.
day 240-241 :: Cartagena, Colombia. Beautiful in the touristy area. Crack ghetto where the hostels are. Typical tourist town scenario.
day 242-244 :: Playa Blanca, Colombia. Great beach, secluded and devoid of civilization.
day 245-248 :: Taganga, Colombia. Cool little fishing village. If Colombians didn't throw trash in the streets and the beaches, it would be so beautiful.
day 249-252 :: Ciudad Perdida trek, Colombia. Saw hidden ruins, slept with M-16 carrying military, and learned how to make cocaine.
day 253-254 :: Bogota, Colombia. I really wish I could have stayed in Colombia longer.
day 255-283 :: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Again?!?! Worked on the Global Transmission multinational conglomerate projects.
day 284-285 :: San Francisco, California. 24 hours at home.
day 286-289 :: Beijing, China. Mao, Mao, and more Mao.
day 290-291 :: Xi'an, China. Does anyone speak English?
day 292-295 :: Chengdu, China. I said, 'Does anyone speak English?'
day 296 :: Guilin, China. I gotta get out of the city and into the countryside.
day 297-300 :: Yangshou, China. Touristy, but if you get away from the herd, beautiful Karst mountain scenery.

Phew, that's it. I hope this doesn't come off as snobbish or anything like that. I keep a travel journal/sketchbook to help maintain my memories of places I've visited. Sometimes places start blending into one another, and this helps keep everything unique and special.
Anyway, the thing that has been on my mind since I've started travelling, from the very start of my trip, from day 1, has been, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

ice cream in china. it's just not helado.

i had my first ice cream since leaving argentina, and to be honest, it felt like i was cheating on my girlfriend.
helado, if you're out there listening, i want you to know that it meant nothing to me. it was just 5 minutes of sensory pleasure, nothing more than that. in fact, afterwards i wanted nothing to do with it. i felt cheap, used and dirty. i was immediately turned off to the lack of class and taste.
you see, you're so far away from me right now.
some 15,000 miles away. and i'm merely a man.
a man with needs and weaknesses.
i tried so hard to stay true, but with the thermometer peaking at high temperatures out here, it's hard to ignore the carnal call of frozen dairy products.
listen, it's not you, it's me.
it's not that i don't love you, it's just i need some space to explore other frozen dairy possibilities. but i still hold you dear in my heart. if it makes you feel better, honeydew and watermelon flavors could not come close to being the full bodied magnificence that is dulce de leche granizado or tramontana.
as much as it pains me to say it, i think you should explore other possibilities as well. i think if you let other people in on your good licks and taste, you might find out if what we have is real. i mean be honest, even when we were together, i saw you flirting with other guys.....and girls........and children.
but hither, i don't want this to be a blame game. it's water under the bridge.
i just want you to be happy, and to know, even though you're on the other side of the world, i think of you always. i miss your creamy goodness and sugary sweet mannerisms.
but for now, i need to explore other hot weather treats around the world.
for how long you might ask?
i don't know love.
i just don't know.

but when i do come back, i hope that you will be there waiting for me with open arms....and a spoon. right now i'm going through helado regret. i'm sitting here in a yangshou bar drowning my dairy sorrows in spirits and alcohol.
by the way, look at what i saw in this bar.

no, look a bit closer.

the saga continues Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Thursday, September 28, 2006

osama has a posse

in china, osama has a posse.
and it includes harry potter and a couple of colorfully clothed stickmen.

but does he know Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

trains in china

i love travelling by train.
in china, it's probably the best way to travel. busses hit a lot of traffic, planes are quicker but more expensive, and nowadays, all of a sudden it's not politically correct to have a little chinese dude pull you around on a rickshaw.
i love looking out at the countryside, i love the rocking back and forth to put you to sleep, i love riding on rails. i guess i'm an old fashioned sucker for train love.
train travel is a great way to meet interesting locals as well. out here in china, finding someone on a train who speaks english is a rare find. in fact, i've only met a few who speak about 20 words of chinglish. on one ride, while struggling through language barriers with 2 young mechanical engineers from xi'an, i broke the barrier by introducing them to the easiest game of cards i could think of, that being the game 'spit' (spit by the way is a whole subject in itself in china. i'll save that for a future blog. it's a real doozy). as many of you know, it's a fast paced, riveting game. i'd explain it to you if you don't know it, but i'm afraid i might rupture my spleen from explaining all the fast paced excitement. anyway, i played for a while, then let them play against each other. they had the greatest time shouting, yelling in chinese, and taunting each other. this was one of the highlights of my chinese journey. i felt like i left something behind that they picked up on, and i was left with great memories of 2 nice guys (who i couldn't understand) who tried their best at making me feel had to be there....
anyway, on my last 32 hour journey, i was taken under the wing by an older chinese couple. they spoke 15 words of english, and understood about 5 of my words. i didn't try to introduce ebonics, that might have confused them further. however, they spoke a different dialect along with this other guy, and i swear to god, they kept saying the 'n' word. i think they use it the way we say 'ummm, ummm, ummm' when we're thinking of what to say....they kept saying 'nigganigganigga...blah blah blah, nigganigganigga...blah blah blah'. the first two times, i looked over with my jaw dropped. the last few times, we busted out some wu-tang shaolin sword style at each other (shout out to 'dependable skeleton' and the whole o.s.c. click, still nasty and sick in 2-thousand-sick). but they kept offering me fruit, they made sure i got off the train at the right stop (they literally got out of their seats and waited with me at the exit), and they kept asking me if i was ok. i know i say this all the time, but they were some of the most generally nice people i've met in my travels.
in general, it's a very communal feeling on the train. i've been taking hard-sleepers which consists of 6 beds in a berth (3 bunks on top of one another). everyone shares food with one another, buys food to share, and takes a general interest in who you are. especially being a foreigner, i was treated like a rock star (or maybe they recognize me as maxi rodriguez, the dashing, debonair, helluva badass detective). they kept asking me 'you art, you art'. i think they meant artist after they looked at my sketch book. or maybe, i was some dude named art in a past buddhist life. they loved hearing about places i've travelled (at least i think they did. but then again, they probably had no idea what i was saying).
but there are a few bad things to the communal layout. my last two rides, i've had the bottom bunk. this is the preferred bunk because you can put your bags underneath your bed, it has the most headroom for sitting, and because of this, all the chinese insist on sitting on your bed next to you. so sometimes if you want to lie down, someone's in your footsie space. on my last train ride, i had an annoying guy who kept invading my personal space (you know, that unspoken forcefield 6 inches around your body where no person is ever, ever allowed to penetrate except for pro-creation). he would keep hitting me and yelling 'engrish, engrish!' whenever he read something in english in a magazine or when an english song came on, on his mp3 player. he didn't understand english, so i would just laugh and smile and go 'ha ha ha, i don't give a shit, ha ha ha' with a big smile on my face. he would then laugh with me and hit me and keep saying 'engrish, engrish!'. anytime i was lying down, homeboy would try to sit at the foot of the bed. for future notice, unless your gonna give me a foot massage, don't do this. the best is when i was playing solitaire and he would tell me what to do each time. in fact he'd lean over me violating the forcefield with his nasty smokers breath, and would pick the cards to be played. i guess homeboy didn't get the memo as to what the game 'solitaire' means. he must of thought that the game was called 'duets' or 'groupcard game' or 'annoy-the-person-next-to-you-trying-to-get-through-this-32-hour-deathride'. but aside from homeboy, the ride wasn't that bad.....well no, actually, the worst part was all the second hand smoke you inhale, especially when trying to sleep in a train car without any windows open. there are even signs that indicate no smoking. but the chinese smoke anyway, and worst of all, they don't smoke pelotas. at least those smokes are smooth and silky.....ohhh, and then there's the spitting. i'll save that for another day. i know you're thinking this is me trying to be gross or trying to shock you or i'm running out of things to say or i'm trying whatever, but it's a real cultural mainstay out here. as an outside observer (and occasional participator), it's quite a shock. but i'll save the national pastime for another day.
today is about trains, and it's still my favorite way to see the countryside and to view all the chinese billboards that say Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Brain Fart

32 hour train ride from Chengdu to Liuzhou.
Followed by a 2.5 hour train ride to Guilin.
Then had to cross the street to the nearest hostel from the train station. Believe it or not that was the toughest part.
Ate 3 bananas, 1 apple, a bag of raisins, 4 greasy muffins and a bowl of soup on the first train.
read an entire novel, ray bradbury's 'fahrenheit 451'
used up the entire battery on my mp3 player.
Now I am a piece of jello,
or tofu,
or butter,
or mush,
or slurry.
One more 2 hour bus ride to Yangshou tomorrow to chill for a week.
Can't write. Mind is like silly putty right now.
All it keeps thinking right now is, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?',
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Sunday, September 24, 2006

1/6 of the world lives here in china

There are 6 billion human beings on the planet.
1.3 billion of them live here.

And all of them seem to be moving at the same time.
And everything is go here.
Cars, busses, trucks, bikes, scooters and motorized bicycles (thank god most of them are electric), and pedestrians all are constantly in flux.
And there is absolutely no order to it.
All of these objects come from every direction. They come at different speeds, some hidden behind others to throw you off, and the only direction that they don't come at you is from above. However, thanks to China's insane construction spree, objects can fall from the sky to throw you off your game plan. As a bonus, construction projects are rarely sealed off. Pedestrians and vehicles alike go through the dust, the dirt, the welding that's going on. I guess public health and safety take a back seat to progress. A couple of years ago while in Vietnam, I posted a blog equating crossing the streets of Hanoi to being caught in a game of 'Frogger'. ((read here))
At least in Frogger, cars and other vehicles come for you from only one direction. Walking in China is more akin to a game of 'Asteroids', but with the third dimension element to it. Things are coming at you from every direction, and for some reason, even if there aren't any other people around, people seem to choose to interfere or get in the way of the path that you're taking. I know I've got a magnetic personality, but in China, it's almost literal. I even think I got dabbed in a crowd by an old Chinese guy. Rather than take the path of least resistance, the path with the most absolutely difficult route that can hopefully cause gridlock, a massive traffic jam, or a straight up crowd frenzy is usually taken. The Chinese seem to multiply all around you as you walk. I'm convinced they've learned how to breed while walking. Similar to South America, traffic rules, lane dividers, yellow lines, are mere guidelines. It's all part of playing the game, only there's 1.3 billion players involved.
Feel free to go on red.
Feel free to bike or scooter across the crosswalk or even on sidewalks.
As a pedestrian, don't get frustrated with it, but think of it more as a giant game of keepaway against 1.3 billion of your newest friends. However, don't expect them to play in English. I've travelled to many countries on our planet, and I have to say without a doubt, that China has been the most difficult. Now don't get me wrong, it's a great and real interesting country to visit. It's quite safe, and I've never once felt like I was in danger. But communication is so difficult here, especially when travelling solo and without a guidebook. Plus some areas speak Mandarin, others Cantonese, and they don't neccesarily always understand each other. The language barrier is the biggest obstacle. It's a tonal language and words pronounced incorrectly can have totally different meanings. Fortunately, I'm avoiding this problem by learning only 2 phrases, hello and thank you. Even that, I can't pronounce right. At least while travelling in Latin America or Europe, even if you don't speak the language, you can read or recognize signs, and try to pronounce the words. Even other Asian countries, the language barrier wasn't such a problem. Here it's a totally different set of letters (supposedly over 5000 characters), numbers are sometimes written differently (older generations don't know what the symbols we're used to for 1,2,3...etc. mean) so if you're lost, even if you've got a map, even if you ask and get directions, you're not gonna understand a damn thing. After all it's all in Chinese. One time, it took me an hour to find a youth hostel which was a mere 30 meters away.
And being a vegetarian has proven to be difficult. They put meat in everything out here, and some of it isn't recognizable. I'm so happy if I can find something on the menu (even happier if I can read the menu), or something in a street stall that I can eat without converting back to the dark side. I don't even bother asking for soy sauce or hot sauce no matter how badly I want it. It's challenging enough just getting a straight up meal. Other than hostels and hotels, no one seems to speak English out here (but then again why should they. Chinese is difficult enough to master for one language).
To add to the challenge, gestures and hand movements tend to be different here. Even indicating numbers with your fingers is different. 1-5 is pretty much the same universal signs. 6-10 is a whole new language. 6 looks like the Hawaiian 'Hang Loose' sign. 7 looks like a snake if you were playing shadow puppets. 8 is your pointer finger and thumb pointed up. Don't get this confused with indicating the number 2 which is pointer and middle finger up. I've made the mistake of ordering 8 muffins when I only wanted 2. The number 9, I can't remember. Henceforth, I refuse to do anything involving this number. 10 is forming an 'x' with your two pointer fingers crossed. Don't worry, I'm just as confused as you are.
But what are you gonna do. I can't complain, it's all part of the fun and the adventure. These little challenges are part of the magic of learning other cultures (sappy silver lining, glass half full, moral to every story, optimismal type bs) while travelling. To remedy this, I've tried to reach Dharma by visiting the largest Buddha in the world shown here.

At 233 feet high, and one of the largest sculptures in the world, the Leshan Grand Buddha is one big, bad mother youknowwhat'r. What you don't see here are the 1.3 million Chinese trying to do and see the same thing. But through the frenzy, I managed to achieve my own personal Zen by sketching the Giant Buddha.

Since I was there, I even asked the Buddha, 'How do I achieve Enlightenment?'
And as is typical in Buddhist culture for Buddhist monks to answer a question with a question, the Buddha replied, 'My son, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?'

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blogs are insipid, juvenile, and derivative.

Here's my contribution to the youth movement of today.
I'm an uncle again!
Dawson Christopher Zahn
Born on September 20, 2006 at 10:35pm
7lbs, 1oz. 20" long

My sister Mary Ann keeps spitting them out like hotcakes. Keep up the good work sis, didn't realize you'd grow up to be a big breeder. You too Dave, all that triathalon training has given you a bunch of swimmers. See you and the boys in the spring.
Also, let's not forget Hamilton in the second shot. He's their first child and he just said his first words which were, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dateline :: 21 September 2006 :: 15:53 China Time

right now, for some reason i am happy. i don't know why, i just am. i'm sitting in the train station, an hour before my overnight train to chengdu. there are hundred if not a thousand chinese people going by.
i have no idea what anyone is saying.
i have no idea what any of the signs say or what the train schedule board says.
hell, i'm not sure if i'm even getting on the right train.
but i'm sitting here watching. just watching. the screaming, the yelling, the announcements on the speaker in mandarin. none of it makes sense, yet it all makes sense. i am here, but i feel removed from it all. i'm an observer outside looking in, but i'm in the middle of it.
it's wonderful.
it's as if at this very place, at this very time, i should be right here, right now. everything is in it's right place at the right time.
throughout the hectic, fast paced scrambling happening around me, i am calm, i am contemplative, and i am happy. there is something special about being alone in a place where nothing makes sense. your senses are more keen to what's going on around you. you absorb so much of your surroundings, and you are caught up only in this exact moment in time. this must be the road to buddhist enlightenment that i've only heard of.
because for right now i am happy.
and i will continue to ride this wave as long as it lasts.

although, only one thing could make it better,
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

chinese haze

did you know that 16 of the 20 dirtiest cities are in china?
china is consuming at an alarming rate, and in the future will be the next super power. fortunately for me, it's still pretty cheap to travel here, cheaper than i expected.
this photo was shot directly into the sun. thanks to a coal induced haze, you can look directly into the sun, and probably not worry too much about sun poisoning. the lung cancer will probably get you though.

traffic in chinese cities is crazy. cars and busses and bikes are sometimes at a dead standstill for god knows how long. i was fortunate enough in these shots that i didn't have to ask anyone to pose. they were all just stuck there.

on a side note, does anyone know about the whole military coup thing in thailand. i'm supposed to fly into bangkok on the 3rd of october and then head for the laos border. is this something i should be concerned about? there's no bbcnews allowed here on the internet in china, so i'm a little lost. my guess is that everything is ok, because no one in thailand would want to lose the tourist dollar. or the threat of missing, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Sneaking into a UNESCO World Heritage Site

This is the terracotta warriors in Xi'an. They are 2000 years old and located 1.5 km from the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The warriors were discovered by some local farmers in 1974 digging for a well. The site consists of three pits covering 16,000 square meters, 25 meters deep and totaling about 7,000 soldiers, a bunch of terracotta horses, and also chariots which disintegrated because they were made of wood. Most of the site has yet to be completely excavated, and piecing all the soldiers takes and incredible amount of painstaking work. Each of the pits are enclosed in a columnless pavilion, with the first and second pits being the largest, about the size of a small college basketball arena. The complex itself is very sterile looking, it looks like a community college built in the 80's. The site was first opened to the public in 1979, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admission is 65 yuan during the low season, and 90 yuan (about $11.25 USD) during the high season such as now.
When I arrived this morning, I only had 76 yuan on me. Mind you, it's a dirty, dusty one hour bus trip from the city of Xi'an. Crap, what am I to do. To the right is the ticket booth where I found out the bad news (if it were low season, I could buy admission, and still afford the bus ride home).
I started thinking, do I beg the next English speaker I see. No, that would require looking pitiful.
Do I try to sneak in with one of the tour busses. No they probably wouldn't let me on.
Do I try to sneak in with one of the military? I did just get my haircut short, but was not in military fatigues.
Do I call it quits, and just had back???
No way, never. That's not the Global Transmission way.

So Plan B. To the far left, I noticed people with press passes walk in through a side gate. It looked like no one even checked their ID or ticket. Right next to this gate is a bag check. I decided to drop off my bag and get a ticket. They must have assumed that I already had a ticket because I walked right past this guy sitting on a chair right on in. Nobody said anything. I was shocked it was that easy. I took in all of the terracotta warriors, and left with money in my pocket.

Now in no way, do I condone crime, or stealing or line hopping or cutting backsies or frontsies, or even jaywalking for that matter. These were dire situations, and there was no way I was going to go back home, and then back out there again the next day. I would like to think of it as maybe being resourceful, adjusting my environment to changing conditions, maybe thinking one step ahead of the competition, not panicking but letting the game come to me, or maybe everyone else that went in and paid were a bunch of suckers (the site is pretty impressive, but maybe 45 yuan impressive).

Either way, if you're heading out here, this course of action might work for you as well. Now hopefully, Chinese authorities don't get wind of this until I've crossed the Laos border. They're already on the trail of the trailer preview of, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

friendly reminder that my blog is now at GLOBAL TRANSMISSION

ok, i'm leaving you once again, off on travels.
also, my blog will be moving temporarily to the global transmission site for an undisclosed amount of time. you are not privy to that information. i would tell you for how long, but then we'd have to kill you.
nobody wants that.

so in the meantime, go see our GLOBAL TRANSMISSION website for our critically aclaimed, non-award winning productions. you can access our blog/journal directly from there or just go (((here))) if you can't take the one extra step to view our website.
chau, suerte!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Great Wall

'It sure is a great wall'
Former President Richard Nixon, 1972.

Thanks tricky Dick, I couldn't say it any better myself.

also, check out the line tian'amen square for.....

the trailer preview of, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Communist China

Dear Mao,
I admire the fact that your photo graces Tian'amen Gate overlooking the Square of the same name. After all, in 1949, you changed the country to be the People's Republic of China (PBC), a socialist, communist state. You deserve to have your photo up.

I like what you did to the square, making it very Stalin-esque and totalitarian looking. It looks communist to a tee. Also, I like how you take 'jaywalking' seriously by having armed policemen on elevated stages to catch would be criminals.

But when I look around Beijing, is it really communist?? I mean, taking a cab from the airport, I saw lots of Mercedes-Benzes and Audis zipping down the freeway. Isn't that material excess? Construction is happening like crazy (are you excited the Olympics is here in 2008?), and skyskrapers are everywhere. These buildings don't look very socialist like the ones surrounding Tian'amen Square. Also, everywhere I look, I saw a McDonald's or a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Is Colonel Sam the appropriate representative for the Socialist party? I always thought that he and Ronald McDonald were viewed as Capitalist pigs? And all the shopping malls and stores selling non-proletariat stuff. What gives? I'm confused Mr. Mao. The thing that confused me most though was this, in the Forbidden Palace grounds, a UNESCO world heritage site, and a massively impressive collection of buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

This photo of Starbucks in one of the gates at the Forbidden Palace. When you get a chance, could you please explain.
I do like some of the signs that I've seen here, Mr. Tse-tung. Like this one for the 'Punch Place'.

Is this a passive/aggressive type thing, and that guy to the left, is that who I get to hit? Also, I like this sign explaining the process of doing laundry.

I think I would have been lost without the explanation.
Anyway, please get back to me about the Starbucks thing.

I know you're a star out here, but it would be great if you could write me back.

Long time listener, first time writer

PS. If I'm correct, doesn't this sign translate to,Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

transmitting from the far east

redeye from buenos aires wednesday night.
3 hours of sleep in sf on thursday night.
redeye to beijing to this point right now.
i am jello, tofu, melting in front of the computer.

but no complaints here! it's nice to be on a new continent.

the language thing here is quite a barrier. at least in other countries, i recognized the letters. here it's all in chinese. you know that saying, 'it's like they're speaking in chinese'? well, here they are.
it's sort of odd though, out of habit from the past 9 months, when i'm confused or someone asks me a question, i automatically respond in spanish. i did that a couple of times with the cab driver. from now on, i'm speaking 'pointenese'.

no pics today, i forgot my camera, but i do got a couple of shots of mao and tianammen square. look for it tomorrow.

the funny thing about my cab ride was that the driver asked me, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

24 hours in San Francisco

I'm in transit, spending 24 hours here in SF (hope my health insurance company isn't reading this...)

Heading out to China tomorrow morning at 6 AM for a long redeye to the Far East (and no shooter, I won't be back in BsAs in a couple of weeks......well, maybe in a month). Going to try to do China without a guidebook. I'm guessing it shouldn't be too tough, it's not like I won't understand them. It's not as if they're speaking Chinese or something.
Anyway, see you in the eastside, and thanks to all the readers of our journal. It seems as if we're getting quite a following, and I'm glad you're all interested in our whereabouts, our well-being, and our work.
Thank you all, and godspeed.

Oh before I forget, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

‘ta luego, BsAs

After 8 months in South America, it’s time to hop continents. I’m on the redeye tonight back home to San Francisco. I’ll be there for one night, one night only, and then I catch a redeye to Beijing, leaving SFO at 8 AM. I’ll be in Asia for 3 months filming with ‘la plata’ before meeting my globtrans mates in India. It’ll be a long couple of days coming up, but it’s all worth it to send you the very best the world has to offer through a quarter of the eyes of Global Transmission.

It’s my last hour here in Buenos Aires and I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Somehow I always end up back here quicker than I originally thought, so rather than get sentimental, I’ll just say “ta luego”, and see you all soon.

BsAs sunset

My final shot of Buenos Aires, an Ernesto “Che” Guevara mural in San Telmo.

ps. Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Shout Outs at T-minus 24 hours

This is my last full day here in BsAs. But before I go, I wanted to give some shout outs to some of the people that I was blessed to meet down here. Of my four stays here in BsAs, this has definitely been the best. I wish I had photos of everyone, but here are some of the great portenos that I met and I hope to see again in the near, near future.

Don Nico and Mariana. The Don, what else is there to say…….well maybe I could say “Gwow!” or “Eez okay”.

The director of EBA Trust Spanish school, Eduardo “El Tiburon” Renebaldi who basically was the greatest host we could have hoped for. He opened his school to us for filming, acted in “Donde Esta Che Pelotas”, set us up with a major interview for “Mito del Che”, and was always there to lend a hand. Gracias, suerte…..By the way, is that shooter high right?

One of my Spanish teachers Cecilia who acted in a scene from “Donde Esta Che Pelotas”. She also drove a car at the same time playing the role of a chauffeur. Nothing but top notch talent down here.

At one of our parties, one of our other Spanish teachers, Laura on the left, also appeared in a scene from “Donde Esta Che Pelotas”. She also attended our last two parties and was there till the end……in fact we had to kick her out, she wouldn’t leave. Just kidding Laura. Mi casa es su casa. Also in the shot is Flor, Mariana sin cara, and Don Nico, Che’s jefe in “Donde Esta Che Pelotas”.

Our Pelotas girls who acted in Scene III of “Donde Esta Che Pelotas”. Generally speaking, all the Argentines knew their lines and acted like pros. They were on time, lines were placed at correct marks, and so on. At Global Transmission, we tend to improvise our lines depending on feel, chemistry, and our natural talented improvisation.
That, or maybe we’re a bunch of hungover idiots incapable of memorization or getting our lines straight.
::::Maintain your distance, watch your backgrounds::::

Some of our party pics. Shout out to Martina at about 11 o’clock who we just met this last party. She had the perfect American accent that kept screwing me up. Thanks for the art gallery opening invite. I’m a sucker for fine art and free booze. Also people of note in the shot, Don Nico, Manu, Flor, Mariana, Tini, and Faye. I hope I got all your names right.

Shooter up.

This is Loli who was at our first two parties. I swear to God I thought she was an Irish-American. But nope, she’s an Irish-Argentine. Che blarney.

This is Manuela, my favorite person that I met down here. She had the greatest energy and personality, attended two of our parties, the opera, and just was super fun to hang around. Muy expresiva. As soon as I find the time to finish editing a couple of pieces, finish travelling the world, and do my laundry, I’m gonna buy her a ring and ask her to marry me. I hope FedEx is cheap from Asia to Argentina.

and of course, a shout out to my homeboys of Global Transmission. Keep spreading the seed, and I’ll see you cats out in India this winter. Fo’shizzle my Glo’bizzle.

But the one thing I’m going to miss most is, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Monday, September 11, 2006

once again, i will be limping out of buenos aires

my time here in buenos aires is winding down. and everytime i say i’m leaving here, somehow i come back. i think this time though, i will probably be gone for awhile. but to all the great portenos i’ve met, please visit me soon wherever in the world i may be.
i'm serious.
please visit.
you know who you are. i'm calling you out.
i'm sure we'll have weekly global transmission parties there as well.
well then, good. it's decided. global transmission fiestas en todo el mundo.

i was just thinking earlier this evening, of my eight months in south america, i’ve been in buenos aires for about 9 of those weeks.


i must say, i do have this love/hate relationship with this city. but it’s similar feeling i have to other great cosmopolitan cities. to me, the most exciting places are never plain, or sterile, or in the middle of the road. i feel that they need to be a bit on edge, a bit dirty, a bit worn, to have some sort of authenticity to it. buenos aires definitely has that. i also think the city needs a personality, needs a bit of an attitude, and buenos aires has that. there’s an electricity here that’s hard to describe without witnessing it first hand. perhaps it’s the vampire lifestyle of eating lots of meat, staying out till sunrise (our last party ended at 5 am, and some people at the party were just about to go out), and gorging on sweets for breakfast…..i think vampires like sugar, but i need to fact check this. anyway, i wrote this in my past blog when i was first here back in january that sums up my love/hate list of things for buenos aires. it's a two part epoch series of a blog post, with the first version, i'd like to call the 'iliad' here, and the second one i'd like to call the 'odyssey' located here. 'war' and 'peace' were already used by somebody else's blog.

in my past blog, i also wrote about my mad passionate love affair that i had during my first trip to argentina. and yes, this steamy relationship continued during this past visit. anyway, if you’re into reading about my personal life or general smut, go here

well, still lots of work to do right till the end on global transmission missions, so i must hitherto henceforth go. but before i do, here’s a shot of the next big bandeon player shot right here in buenos aires….

….who one day will be playing for this couple in a milonga.

i also heard that che pelotas has a posse.
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

la ultima fiesta en san telmo - buenos aires

last night was our final fiesta at our defense 1035 apartment here in buenos aires. here’s a limited edition party invite:

it was also our largest one with many portenos and extranjeros enjoying food, drink and watching a slide show of some of our projects. thanks to don nico once again for bringing more than half the party to our house. here’s a shot from above in the loft looking down into the crowd.

but i can’t help but wonder in this shot, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

shots from this morning's shooting

shots from today's 'donde esta che pelotas' shooting of scene 6. koharski and rodriguez arrive in buenos aires.
photo of some damn fine detectives in action

photo of cecilia ferreiroa who played the taxista in this scene. she also was kind enough to lend us her time, her car, and her boyfriend who shot the 'behind the scenes' footage with la plata. she's also one of our spanish teachers during the week, un actriz natural en la fin de semana.

shot of defensa street in buenos aires. 9 september 2006, 9:46 am, local argentine time. Dónde está Ché Pelotas?