Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Colonia pics

Here are pics of me in a park in Colonia, and the ´parade´I mentioned in the post below...

Buenos Aires Pics

Pics are up. Here´s one of Mark downtown, Mark catching up on today´s news and myself in front of the president´s palace.

Other random things include about 95% of people in Buenos Aires smoke (my best guess of course); this will be Philip Morris HQ when things get too hot for them in VA.

Also, thanks to uncle bob for giving the 411 on Lopez below.

Random and Extremely Interesting Facts

The thing that I love best about my readers is that they are such good listeners. I decided to do a quick and short entry on random items that you may be interested hearing about. Here we go...

27 lbs - Weight of Dave´s backpack (I told you we were packing light)
20.5 lbs - weight of my backpack (light, light, light)
85 cents - cost of a liter of the local beer
85 cents - cost of a very cheap bottle of wine
$1.25 - cost of ravioli and tomato sauce when we make it ourselves (enough for 2)
$6 - average cost for a night in a hostel so far (cheapest is $5, most was $7)
Machu Pichu - single item I projected to be my favorite thing before i left on the trip
Iguazu Falls - single item Dave projected to be his favorite thing before he left on the trip
Chile - country i projected to like best (we´ll see)
Argentina - country that I now project will be my favorite
Shantaram - name of the book i´m currently reading (this book is excellent, i can´t put it down!)
2 - number of times i´ve done laundry in our first 17 days of travel (although i´m due)
Rummy 500 & Poker - card games we´ve played to pass the time. (Dave owes me about $6 currently)
16 - number of days it took before my Dutch skin got sunburned. (happened yesterday while we were mountainbiking. I thought for sure this would happen sooner)

The biggest single thing I´d like to improve at is getting better about talking to other travelers as well as the locals. My Spanish is enough to get me by but I have a difficult time understanding others. The only way I´ll improve though is if i try to talk to more people. (it´s a real pickle)

Anyway, like I said, this would be a short entry, but hopefully you found it entertaining.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Colonia de Sacremento, Uruguay

After Buenos Aires, we took a boat across the channel to Colonia, Uruguay. I chose Uruguay solely because I didn´t tell anyone I would be going there and I wanted to throw the paparatzi off of my tail. Colonia is a former fort that is a now a tourist town on the ocean. After spending the first night wondering why it seemed like there were plenty of people there, but no one went out at night, I finally learned that the nightlife on this continent doesn´t start until around 1, which is a big change from VA\NC as most of you know. Watched the town ´parade´of two dancers and 4 drum players one afternoon from the park. Met my first other American travelers here, so far Germany travels best on this continent.

Regarding technical difficulties with the camera, the biggest problem is using slow conections and computers that still have floppy disk drives. Look for some picture only entries to tie back to the text only entries once I find some more modern equipment. Why can´t there be a hostel with both tandem bikes and high speed internet? It´s a brutal life on the road I tell you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Concerning Accomodation Selection

Due our large following of readers, I thought I´d try to describe a few of the things that are now part of our everyday life. I asked myself "What do our millions of readers want to know about us?" and after figuratively putting myself in the shoes of several million people, I came up with the answer... I will describe the boring and mundane aspects of how to go about choosing our nightly accomodation!!
For starters we begin by consulting the all-important guidebook. (an essential item to say the least) The guidebook that we selected to get us through the South American leg of our journey is Lonely Planet: South America. (from here on to be known more efficiently as "LP") LP is very useful in helping us to decide which part of town we want to stay in. When deciding on an area LP tells us how close we´ll be to sights, bars, restaurants, etc. The only problem with LP is that it is so comprehensive and well-respected (no I don´t own LP stock) that every backpacker is also using it. As a result, it is not uncommon for an LP recommended place to raise their prices upon the recommendation being published.
The type of accomodation we are usually staying in is called a hostel. I know what you´re thinking ¨What´s a hostel?¨. A hostel is an alternative to a hotel that usually caters to the budget traveler. Most hostels have dorm style rooms (more than 3 beds to a room), kitchen facilities, and shared bathrooms. (this lifestyle is not for everyone) Think summer camp except without the bug juice.
What do we look for when selecting a hostel? There are 3 main factors: cheapness, affordability, and price, in that order. (hey, we´re on a tight budget ok?) We usually view several hostels, which means we do quite a bit of walking around. We will ask to see the room (the pic at the top is an example of a typical dorm room). Most hostel dorms contain 6-8 beds. We generally go for the rooms with fewer beds, as the rooms tend to be quieter. (we recently made the stupifying realization that we´re not 21 any more) We also will examine the kitchen facilities. We look for them to be clean and well stocked with important items like a large pot, strainer, and can opener. (for our regular meals of pasta and tomato sauce) Bathroom cleanliness also is important. Besides location these are the 3 most important factors. I intend to devote another entry on other hostel ammenities.(eg. internet, bicycles built for 2, a pool, etc.)
Once each of us has an idea of which hostel we want to go with, we hold hostel discussions that go something like this:
Mark: So, Dave, which place did you like best?
Dave: I liked Hostel A because it offers bicylces built for two.
Mark: Hmmm, well I liked Hostel #2 because it had free high speed internet which enables me to keep our millions of readers informed on our daily happenings. How strongly do you feel about Hostel A?
Dave: I´m 60-40 towards Hostel A.
Mark: Ok, well I´m only 55-45 for Hostel #2, so we´ll go with Hostel A.
(please note: Dave´s affinity for bicycles built for 2 is the reason we haven´t been able to make more blog entries)
In the event we can´t break a tie using the aforementioned civil method, then we´ve agreed it shall come down to fist-a-cuffs. When/If this happens, I´m sure we´ll devote an entire entry to this. (hopefully complete with pics and videos)
Well hopefully this entry has gone a long way toward quenching your curiosity on how we decide where to stay. Stay tuned for the next exciting entry where Dave will address the myth that south of the equator a flushed toilet spins counter clockwise...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Buenos Aires

Spent almost a week in Buenos Aires after landing in Argentina. There has been a lot of activity in our neighborhood in just first few days we´ve been here. First, people were in the streets when they moved the body of Peron, who was a former president most of you would know as Evita´s husband. I also saw Evita´s grave where she was mummified. When we went by the presidental palace, they were having a rally regarding freeing one Julio Jorge Lopez, who is a political prisoner from what I could tell from the banners but haven´t had time to google yet. Police were present in force, but there was no violence during the rally. It seems like there is a reason people are rallying in the streets here every other day.

I´m having technical difficulties with the camera at the moment. I do intend to post pictures once I get it working again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The trip begins!

Greetings from Argentina!! We arrived safely on Sunday morning. Now that I´m here I can finally disclose the real reason we chose Argentina -- Mark can now get cheap surgery to replace the missing hair from his bald spot to reclaim his youth (see picture). I was questioning whether I was welcome here when I got nailed by bird poo during the 6 block walk from the bus stop to the hostel, but things only got better from there. 4 out of eight people in the room were still sleeping at noon when we checked in, apparently they have quite the Saturday nights in this neighborhood. The locals are unusually friendly here, and I spent Sunday walking through an art festivl in the neighborhood (San Telmo in Buienos Aires). My Spanish is as malo as ever, if that changes I will let you know.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Myspace and your space

So my dad found out I have a myspace page the other day. I set up the myspace page when I was looking to set up a blog for the trip, because someone had told me you could host blogs there. I didn't use it as a blog because my pictures are too big for myspace, and I like this site much better as a blog. However, myspace seemed like a good way to keep in touch with people while on the road, so I didn't close the account. However, I've only told two people I have the account (both of which use myspace), and had another two people find me on it.

So dad mentions he found it when I'm eating dinner with my parents. I tell him that it seems like a cool way to keep in touch with people, but when you look at a myspace page it tells you how many friends you have on myspace. I mentioned that instead of just saying I only have 5 friends, it might as well print LOSER in bold across the top of the page. At this point mom chimes in "You don't need the internet to tell you're a loser." Ummm, thanks mom.

So now I think I'm going to try to use the myspace account. I know some of you reading this have myspace accounts as well, so please take a minute or two to add me as a myspace friend and I'll use it on the trip.

Next post will be next week from Argentina.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Evening Festivities

The festivities also continued into the evening. Since I don't have a clever story at the moment, I'll just post a few pictures. I will say if McDonald's is going to have a limited late night menu, they should indicate such on the drive thru menu. Waiting until I order something to tell me it isn't a choice after hours is not efficient, and leads to impatient people who had a bad night shift at work yelling at you from the car behind, like she hadn't fed in 2 days or something.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Last Supper

Well I'm back in North Carolina now, and our families had a big dinner on Saturday since we'll be gone by next weekend. Mark said his dutch relatives would be in attendance, but they didn't make an appearance at this meal either. I will certainly miss the food while I'm eating beans and rice over the next few months.

We went over the trip and how to pack for it (light, light, and with less weight). Also talked about some of the odds and ends will be bringing on the trip (guess who's bringing business cards). Of course, the spotlight was stolen by Sara (pictured), but she always steals the show.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Farewell VA

I said goodbye to VA last weekend, and I'm now getting settled back into Raleigh until I leave next week. Thanks to everyone who came out and put up with my sign language for the night; I lost my voice that day and trying to scream only came out as a whisper for the night. There's still a lot to do before flying out to Argentina, but nothing that can't be handled in a week.