Archive for June, 2010

Chile- Pucon and Santiago

I took a bus all day from Mendoza to Santiago, which lasted 10 hours. Most of the time was wasted at immigration, where there was a massive clusterfuck. I stayed the night in Santiago and hung out the next day with Kadin and Tamara, hoping to catch the night bus to Pucon, Chile (10 hours away). I spent the day walking around and eating.

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Pucon is known for its volcano. It’s a small town (probably under 30k people) and very attractive/active during the summer. It’s not very busy during the winter, however, and the primary outdoor attractions (biking, rafting, hiking) are closed.

I wanted to go in and out, spending like…three days max in Pucon. That plan went to shit when the weather sucked ass all week long. I got into Pucon on Monday morning and I wasn’t able to go to the volcano until Friday. I was also cutting things a tad close as my flight out of here was drawing closer and closer.

I spent the week dicking around, mainly just sitting on my ass and eating. There is also a casino in Pucon and it is one of the larger attractions. Unfortunately there was no live poker to speak of, probably due to the small population during winter. I wasted my money on a King-Kong themed slot machine, trying to see what old people see in slots (the appeal). Losing both my money and interest, I failed to see how this could be ‘fun’.

I walked around and saw a few games offered. Blackjack, Roulette, and my bane: Texas Holdem Bonus. Seeing as I had no idea how to really play correct BJ strategy and not enough to put all my $ everywhere on roulette, I decided to play Holdem Bonus.

It turned out this was a perverse version and not really the same one played in the U.S. I lost my money and busted my peso roll, running out of the casino while swearing up a storm.

I went to the Volcano early the next morning with a group. It was a long trek up, and my entire group was French (as it was a French company). Some elected to bring skis up the mountain, which would later prove disastrous.

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Anyways, the trek itself was mildly difficult. The snow was tough to walk through and I could see how much easier the summer would be. Our group moved at a snail’s pace and we reached a point about 3 hours in where a decision was to be made.

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I was tired by hour three but I was still able to walk with the guide. Sadly, the same could not be said for my pathetic French group, nearly all of whom were straggling behind. Those wearing the skis on their backs were especially desperate, wasting away in the back. The guides pretty much told us that we were moving too slow and that the conditions were too harsh at the top.

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Alas, we were not able to reach the top. I was super fucking bitter at my idiotic pathetic French teammates, having wasted an entire day, money, and time. Walking that far and putting myself through a difficult trek was fruitless given that we didn’t reach the top. So we got to the plateau and were forced to go down, mainly on either our asses or on these mini sleds.

Talk about lame…fucking Frenchies.

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the summit view…something I’ll probably never see in my life, thanks to French weaklings.

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Went back to Santiago, walked around all day long. Don’t really feel like uploading any pictures of Santiago as I don’t really feel it was super interesting. I woke this morning at 3:30 am and am now in Lima, where I’ll spend the last two days of my trip.

Ready to go to Vegas…

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Mendoza, Argentina

I arrived in Mendoza in the morning by bus, it was about a 10 hour ride. Mendoza is a small town in the western part of Argentina and a main hub to getting into Santiago. It’s known for rafting, skiing, and wine.

My original plan was to only stay there for maybe 2 nights tops. I also decided that I wanted to go sky diving, which was about $175ish, or ~800 pesos. With a wad of pesos in my pocket I went to the travel desk only to find that the plane was broken (and that they were the only sky divers in town). This was far too much money, annoying.

So I decided to go horseback riding instead to waste some pesos. I hung out the first day, walked around town. It’s definitely bigger than the listed 100k people or whatever it is.

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Horseback riding was canceled the next day…I woke up early (9 a.m., haha) and drove up with the guides, only to find the weather in the mountains was impossible for riding. It was raining and very overcast, which sucked. I went on the wine tour instead.

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I’m not a fan of wine…I’m not even sure why I went. The tour we went on involved renting some bikes and going along the road (maybe 6kms down) and back, seeing the various wineries and olive oil places around. We ate lunch at one of the wineries and the food was quite good-

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(That was my tirimasu cake (sp?))

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Anyways, yeah. I went horseback riding the day after, as the weather was a bit better. And by ‘riding’ I really mean just sitting on the back of a horse and not going fast at all. That said, it was a fun experience and enjoyable.

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insane dog –

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so in the area we were at there were alot of wild dogs…My guides also had two dogs of his own that followed us with the horses. There were packs of dogs roaming around, looking to fight. I felt like I was in a western or something when it was our side (3 horses and 2 dogs) vs. 4-5 random wild dogs (the two white ones were ours and were pretty weak compared to the others)-

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So yeah, that was that.

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I tried going to Chile that night but the roads were blocked off. They also don’t really do night buses in the winter, so I was totally ignorant on all fronts. The day after the roads were blocked off due to snow, so I was stuck in Mendoza. (For all of those ever planning on traveling from U.S. to Argentina or Chile, know that if you fly by air into the country, you’ll have to pay $130 visa tax…if you go by bus into said countries, you can avoid it).

I went the next day and arrived here in Santiago last night. The road to Santiago by Mendoza is very pretty and well worth the trip. It did last about 10 hours but 2.5 of those were spent at customs at the border.

These were all taken inside the bus, so poor quality…but yeah, well worth the trip.

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I’m in Santiago right now, though, I plan on traveling to Pucon tonight. It’s a small town south of here (10 hours, more or less). I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hike up to this massive volcano there…so yeah. My trip is really winding down here…I fly out on the 29th of this month (9 days to go). Ideally, I’d like to book my trip to Lima on the 27th to avoid any complications that might arise. After that it’s Vegas for a few weeks to hopefully hike Zion and then back home in Omaha.

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Cordoba/Rock Climbing/Los Gigantes

My first entry into Cordoba was a big bucket of fail. I had a difficult time figuring out how the bus station worked in Buenos Aires as the platforms and ticket pickups were all over the place. I had a bitch of a time falling asleep as well. When I finally did, I awoke to an empty bus, realizing that I slept past Cordoba and past my stop. Cursing madly, I got off at this ghetto stop and wasted two hours getting back.

Anyways, Cordoba is a nice city. It’s the second largest in Argentina and located in the central region. Here is a link to a wiki description of the city and here is a map for reference (should have done this earlier, oh well)-

I wanted to go rock climbing here as I read that is one of the many activities in this city. I woke up at 9 and went with a guide here (pesos$200, $50). The wall wasn’t very tall (20m). That said, there were still alot of various climbs offered.

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I idiotically wore shorts instead of jeans…I chose to get my legs cut up instead of sweat profusely (moron logic)-

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It was good fun all around. The last one was a 6A crack. On the way back I tried ‘maite’ (sp?), this weird tea-like drink that you scramble up/mix with hot water…wasn’t really a huge fan overall but meh, whatever.

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My original plan was to move on to Mendoza. I changed it and decided to go to ‘Los Gigantes’, this area outside of Cordoba which featured many hills/small mountains/caves.

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Sheep-

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Many cows roamed the fields-

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Here is a picture of a dead cow that has been dead for a year (more or less)-

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Saw a bunch of condors flying around, huge things-

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We saw our first cave here…it was extremely narrow and not very deep. We had to climb over large boulders to go up, eventually climbing up the other side.

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Bird rock, can’t recall the name of it-

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We got to the top of this large rock, I can’t recall its name…something ‘la cruz’ (cross). We had a great view and ate lunch up there.

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We climbed down and walked along the valley. We saw a dying cow who was mooing away, unable to move. It looked like it fell from the rock 20 feet above. It was obvious that the cow could not move and probably had a broken back. It was still alive and breathing though…nothing we could do-

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We entered another cave…this one was very narrow as well. The entire cave slanted downward at a weird angle-

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We entered our last cave, one that was much more open/wider than the others.

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Leaving tonight for Mendoza…will not put in my ear plugs and I better not sleep through my stop.

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Leaving Buenos Aires

After tonight’s soccer (football) match, I’ve decided to head west to Cordoba. I want to go rock climbing there and hopefully the weather agrees with me. The last few days I’ve been doing some vague site seeing, walking around different areas and parks. The food here is the best I’ve had in South America, and it’s been great eating the different meats and seafood here.

I went to Boca (sp?), an area with weird colored houses-

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The area had alot of food and tango-

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Me and this crazy perv waiter who tried stalking two friends I was with (he insisted we take a picture together, god knows why)-

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Then I decided to be normal and get a regular hotel (called ‘Own’), nice place-

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Today I woke up a bit late, didn’t catch all of the Argentina match. The city was a ghost town and there were zero cars on the road/zero people on the streets. The U.S.A./England match was awesome and I watched it at an American Bar called ‘The Alamo’. The atmosphere was great and the game was very entertaining.

Overall, I enjoyed B.A. very much. I think I still like Rio a bit more, only because I enjoy outdoorsy things…but B.A. is awesome in its own right. The food here is fantastic and the parks/architecture are also cool.

Have a 10 hour bus ride tonight to Cordoba, hopefully I can rock climb either that day or the day after. My trip is winding down here (only ~2 weeks left)…both excited and sad that it’s coming to an end.

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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a really nice city. You can tell there is a ton of European influence here, most notably Spanish, French, and Italian. I’m staying in Palermo right now, paying $12/night at my hostel. Buenos Aires is probably the second most expensive city I’ve been to behind Rio. The peso is currently at ~P$4 = $1 USD, so that’s nice.

The architecture here really reminds me alot of Spain and France. There are dozens of parks littered all over the place and it’s enjoyable to just go for a walk or read in the park.

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The food is really good here too…I’ve been eating at this great French Cafe called ‘Oui Oui’ every morning. Pizza, pasta, sushi (not terrible here, actually semi decent), and most importantly, the beef, is all fantastic. Argentina is reputed to have some of the best beef in the world, and a steak 2 nights ago semi confirmed this. Here is a picture of my eggs Benedict this morning-

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Overall, I like Buenos Aires very much. I walked around a fair amount the first two days I was there, walking in different neighborhoods and read in a few of the different parks. I plan on staying here in B.A. until the first game of the world cup, which is the 12th. After that I think I’ll head out and go west towards Cordoba (sp?) and then eventually even farther, to Mendoza.

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