31 July 2006

say yes! to the lake district

this entry comes to you from mendoza, argentina. next time i work in south america for several months, i'm going to work in argentina. because it's pretty great here. but let's get right to the pictures! (soon i won't have anything interesting to show everyone, so i'm trying to really live up my last fews days in the limelight. so there's a lot of pictures.)

this is puerto montt. it's...just like this. it's on one of the lakes, so that's nice, and there's a sort of charming city center, but other than that...well, here it is. it was also cold here. when i went to the bathroom at my little crappy sleeping place i realized my pee had steam just like my breath. i thought about including a a picture like when i was throwing up, but my mom tells me she's given the blog address to quite a few of her friends, so i decided i'd only embarrass her as far as mentioning the pee. hi, mom!

after puerto montt i went to entre lagos. this is the lake at entre lagos. or one of them...since entre lagos means "between lakes" it stands to reason there's another lake nearby. which i never saw. but they probably would have changed the name by now if it was an error. and really, the area has about a thousand lakes, so maybe they didn't mean directly between two lakes, just sort of among the lakes. entre lagos can mean among lakes, too. what i'm trying to say is, the lake district is really awesome because it's up in the patagonian mountains, and there's a lot of lakes and mountains. there. i just came right out and said it. i'm way too subtle on this blog.

i went on a hike in a national park near entre lagos, from which you could see this view. this is the kind of thing i was talking about when i said it's awesome. it pretty much goes on like this forever. or seemingly forever. which is good enough to give you the effect.

here's entre lagos in the morning. if you're me, you're thinking smoke on the water. dun dun duuuuuun, dun dun dun dun! and so on.

i wanted to go from entre lagos (a tiny little town in chile) to bariloche. EVERYONE i asked said i could wait on this road and a bus would come along and pick me up. and, after about two hours of waiting a bus did come. i grabbed my bag, walked to the shoulder, waved my arms...and choked on a lot of dust as the bus went right on by me. several conflicting pieces of advice later, i finally succeeded by jumping right in front of a bus so it would stop. that didn't really happen. anyway, this was the view while i waited. not too shabby.

this is what the road to bariloche looked like. patagonia, hooray! seriously, you should go to argentina. or check out these other pictures.

my head said "try to get a better shot", but my hand said "put the glove back on or i'm going home". for the record, the patagonian mountains do NOT slant weirdly. nor does my mouth, at least to my knowledge. or does it...? this is me on top of cerro catedral, where i went skiing. if there is another place like this on the planet, i want to go there, too, because this was really, truly, totally amazing.

i guess i probably should have said the "amazing" stuff in a picture where you can actually see the scenery. standing at the top, you can see probably...oh, about 200 degrees or more around. this is about a fourth of the view. it was (say it with me, now) much better in person. i have about a million more pictures, but eunice and theodore need to get to bed sometime before 7:30, so i'm going to quit with the mountain pictures.

awhile back i showed you all the naríz del diablo (devil's nose, remember?). in colca canyon, our guide showed us a weed called el cojón del diablo (um...ask your mother) whose seeds made a hallucinogenic tea. well, this is el dedo de dios, or finger of God. but dedo de dios is fun to say. try it!

anyway. i've got a couple days in mendoza, unless the pass closes again, in which case i won't be able to get to my flight, and maybe i'll have lots more days in mendoza. we'll just have to see! if all goes as planned, i'll see you all in august!

26 July 2006

temuco, valdivia

i've totally lost even remote contention for the "most original titles" award to be given at the end of the year at the annual bloggies. but i think this blog has been all about utility since day one, and i stand by that reputation. those cities, these pictures:

when i enter this photograph in the state fair competition, i'm going to call it "sunrise in temuco". just so everyone knows what they're looking at. see? utility, people! i took this picture from where i stayed that night, in a "hospedaje", which is what you call it when someone has extra rooms in their house and they let travelers stay in them. i do this because it's cheap and not because i expect comfort, but i think anyone would be disappointed when, after first entering the house and seeing space heaters (ooooh, space heaters. if there were space heaters in the time of the incas, machu picchu would be filled with rooms to worship THOSE as their god and not the sun or whatever) and actually feeling warm for once, you arrived at your room and realized they don't heat that part of the house. as a bonus, all night long if i ever wondered if i'd died i just opened my eyes to see if i could still see my breath. as a further bonus, there was a dog chained directly beneath my window (apprently to patrol this parking area) who was good enough to let me know if a person, car, or bug passed through the lot. or if he'd had a bad dream, or was bored, or couldn't sleep, or...just felt like barking. he felt like barking a lot.

i didn't read the sign, so i'm not sure what indegenous god or tradition i'm disrespecting in this picture. but i thought it was funny, which you can tell if you look at my face very hard because i'm smiling. actually, i'm smiling because just as the timer on my camera was going off i realized i wasn't alone, and these chilean people were looking at me all funny. so i laughed at my joke, grabbed my camera, and ran away.

here's temuco from above. from a hill. i guess that's pretty much all that's going on here. let's go to valdivia now.

this one, i call "me and the sea lion". look how perplexed i am by the presence of sea lions. or maybe i'm skeptical. "psh! sea lions? here? i don't think so!" look how close i am to the sea lion! if i'd realized the photo was focused on me and not the sea lion, i would have tried again. because you all know what i look like by now. but the sea lion, you haven't seen, and he had character. you could tell he didn't like being foregrounded by me, but he didn't have a camera, so he had to just deal with it.

they do a market in valdivia where they sell fruits and vegetables and seafood. at first glance, it probably looks like this is just a picture of a guy who filets salmon (mmmm...sake sashimi), but this picture made the blog cut because of the sea lion in the background. filet guy had this huge piece of rebar he'd occasionally get out to hit the sea lion so he'd go away, but the sea lion knew who was really in charge, so he just pretended to leave, and then came right back. look at how sneaky he is!

here's another market photo. believe you me, i WANTED to buy me some fresh salmon and clams, but i really didn't have the means to prepare them. it definitely made me think of and pine for sushi, though. oh, sushi. betsy and i are going to eat sushi right away when i get back. and indian food. she was always my indian food and sushi buddy back in lincoln. we'll probably also split a chipotle burrito, which became a tradition after betsy had been unemployed for awhile and went broke. i can tell you that because betsy never comes to this blog. tee-hee!

i took these two pictures about 20 minutes apart. it turned out that what looked like a sunny day (which my hospedaje owner cheerfully and confidently told me we were going to have, for which reason i left my rain coat at home, bringing sunglasses instead) was just the rain catching its breath.

it rains pretty much non-stop around here (it's raining in this picture, if you can't tell). it's kind of a drag, because it's also very cold here. after valdivia i went to puerto montt in the lake district, which is where i'm writing this, and it's pretty much the same story here. in fact, i had the reassuring sight of my own breath last night, too. from here, though, i'm crossing from the lakes (it's the part of southern chile that looks like it's dissolving into the ocean on the map) to the east, which means crossing the patagonian mountains and going to argentina, where i hope to ski a little. in other words, i guess i won't have as much rain there. because it will be snowing. i said that last part to tease my dad. haha! how's the heat in kansas city, dad?

23 July 2006

santiago, valparaiso

the last few days i've been in those two cities. i really liked walking through santiago and could see living there. valparaiso was ok...i bet i'd like it better in the summer.

in the plaza in santiago i inadvertantly got a picture of a street performer and his crowd while taking a picture of the cathedral. as you can see, "freddy loco" stopped the show, or made me part of the show. he told me i had to pay to take pictures of his show, but i informed him it was the cathedral i was photographing, and argued it was much prettier than he was. he didn't argue, but i paid him anyway. the blonde in the middle of the circle was from germany. she didn't speak much spanish, but had been roped into the show, which was a role she enjoyed so little that at one point when old freddy was talking to some other audience member she just ran away. it was funny.

a cool thing about santiago is it's this big city with a great metro system and stuff, , but if you look off in the distance, you see the andes towering over the city. on the downside, though, there is that smog, too. but overall it's pretty cool.

these pictures were taken from a hill that has a fortress on it. it used to be used for protecting the city. you can imagine the spanish fighting many vicious battles against the rebelling indigenous people. now they sell ice cream here. true story!

sorry millhouse, but it was time. here's me getting the first haircut i've paid for in probably 5 years. i got exactly the same haircut i've been giving myself for quite some time, which is either a commentary on my need for a change or my hair's total inflexibility. they thought it was strange i wanted a picture of the process, but for my part i thought it was strange it took them so long to do a job that always takes me about 5 minutes to do--on myself! as a plus, i became pretty good friends with the three ladies working at the old peluquería, and i swear one of them had a pretty big crush on me. AND i talked them down to 3500 pesos for the job. so i saved money, too.

this is a picture from valparaíso, which as you might guess, is a port city. i included the trash on the shore to help you imagine that disgusting ocean smell that port cities have. everything rotting smells better when it's rotting in the water. they had a restaurant along the shore, which i thought was weird, but i guess it's more authentic that way. whatever.

here's a view from on top of valpo. i got up here on those famous elevator cars. at least my guide book says they're famous, but i hadn't heard of it. so it's one of those secretly famous things. like adam smith is a famous economist. (i read about econ on wikipedia once so i could impress janae with my knowledge of a field i don't know anything about. wikipedia: it will help you find a girlfriend.)

now three more people (i think four read the blog, but probably one of them already knew about these things) have seen the valparaíso lifts. they're all about 100 years old (some a bit more, some a bit less), and my guide book also says they are a marvel of engineering. i guess can't say they're especially NOT a marvel of engineering, so i'm taking their word for it.

i took this picture because that statue looked suicidal to me, like he's been immortalized in the moment just before he jumped off the roof of this building. see, the beauty shop ladies were the longest conversation i've had in probably 2 weeks, so i've probably gone crazy. er.

in other news, i have recently decided to cut my trip back down to its original size, so i'm leaving south america august 3 instead of 18. i'm sure you'll wonder why, so let's see if i can explain it very well at all. for some reason, i've recently just sort of burned out on traveling (for now). i mean, i keep seeing more things, and not really being that excited about it. for one thing, it seems like a waste of money to keep on seeing things when i'm not even enjoying seeing them, and for another, it makes me restless, and i sort of want to get started on what i'll do next--i'm ready to start real life again (but only for awhile, mind you). so i decided to come back a bit early, and save buenos aires and iguazú falls with my mom for another day. when i AM excited to see what's there. so i'll see you all when you thought you'd see me when i left in the first place. yay!

18 July 2006

the road to santiago

i went from tacna, peru to arica, chile to santiago, chile. the whole thing took me about 36 hours. i got in last night and i was tired. and my butt hurt. but now i'm here this morning, and it's a wonderful city. plus, i found a very quiet place to stay, and i slept until 8 this morning. which is basically unheard of in the world of jeremy. especially the traveling world. here are some pictures.

in addition to parisian towers, gustave eiffel was evidently a pretty big fan of making fountains. he made this one in tacna AND another in a small town in peru, and some others in south america (argentina) and europe (at least portugal). in the background is their cathedral.

the atacama desert is the driest place in the world. they probably have some sophisticated technology to determine things like that (although if it's just a plastic rain gauge i guess that wouldn't surprise me too much, either), but i can tell you that just by looking at the place.

i rode through the whole thing, and now i know: deserts are beautiful. and boring.

only one of those words, though, applies to oceans. and i don't think i could call anything that violent "boring", so there you are.

for some reason, i imagine that many people who read this blog are elderly. for this entry i can see the husband of the couple reading and then shouting to his wife "eunice! now he's even posting about his BUS rides!" surely even the elderly have their limits of interest. (i also occasionally imagine my mom cringing at my jokes). sorry if this is boring, but if you look at a map you realize how much ground i covered to get to santiago. so i thought i'd put something up.

i now have three weeks to get to buenos aires (while you've got your map out you can appreciate how much ground i have to cover in that time, too) to meet my mom. i don't really have a plan for what i'm doing in chile. but it'll probably be awesome. and better than the bus rides to get there.

15 July 2006

arequipa and colca canyon

the last several days i've been in arequipa and on a trek into colca canyon. arequipa wins best city in peru honors--it's a very cool college town in the south of peru with its own style of architecture (arequipeña) characterized by the use of white volcanic rock found near here and a fusion of indigenous and spanish colonial styles. also, there is an enormous 500 year old monastery here which was very cool. obviously i'm getting ready to show you pictures.

this is the plaza de armas. that building there is the cathedral here. as you might guess from the palm trees and all, it's much warmer here, because it's a little lower in altitude. unfortunately this picture doesn't really capture the plaza, which many people say is the best in peru. (i just say that every once in awhile in case the readers aren't as impressed by my pictures as i hope they'll be. "it's like this, but waaaay better.")

for a mildly interesting picture, find a series of arches, stand at the end of them, and take a picture. your friends will definitely be impressed. this is another shot of the plaza.

this is the arches theory applied to the interior of the monastery, where it is apparently almost impossible to take a bad picture.

see what i mean? it's just two doors, but the colors are pretty. pretty much the whole monastery was done in that purple from above, this red, and then the white of the volcanic rock.

i've never entered into the monastic life (or for that matter been catholic, a nun, or a woman), but i imagine if i were to do so, i'd probably want mountain views like this if i was going to lock myself away from all human contact forever. i bet it'd help my contemplation and stuff. incidentally, this monastery used to be a very high-class place, where only the wealthiest people ended up to save their sins and perhaps the sins of their family. it was really quite posh, which is sort of contrary to the whole idea, until much later when a new person came to power and reformed up the place. at which time several nuns lost their interest in and dedication to contemplation of God, and left for less restrictive lifestyles.

this is a classic example of arequipeña architecture: note the volcanic rock (called sillar), the façade, and the decorations featuring local flaura and fauna and phenomena, like a snake coming out of a puma's mouth. i've never actually seen this happen, but i understand it's quite common in the deep amazon. you'll have to take my word for it. (it's way cooler in person!)

let's skip ahead to the canyon. here's me standing in the middle of it. that wall in the background reminded me and this swiss guy trekking with me of organ pipes. colca canyon was first considered the deepest canyon in the world, and then a nearby canyon was found to be 200 meters deeper. and THEN they found an even deeper part of colca canyon, so it got its title back, at something over 3500 meters from top to bottom (more than twice as deep as the grand canyon). this information makes me think that each canyon has a campaign team working around the clock to either find deeper spots in their respective candidates' geography, or using shovels and things to make the canyon a liiiittle bit deeper. stay tuned for developments, there may be a new deepest canyon this decade!

one part of the canyon is called cruz del condor, and here you can come every morning to see approximately four thousand condors coasting on rising hot air. before i came here i sort of felt bad for peru. their national symbol is both ugly AND it eats dead things. i'd take a bald eagle any day, which is both irrefutably awesome AND super cool. but it turns out when they're flying they're actually quite graceful. and they're enormous. so i guess it's an ok national bird. also of note, at this point in the canyon it's 3400 meters from the river to the top of the mountain on the in this picture. we're about half way up on our side of the river.

at cruz del condor they fly very close overhead--you can even hear the air whilsting through their feathers. watching these condors was a really amazing experience (and i came skeptical)--you actually see them from above, and can see their heads looking around for food.

that's all for now, then. today i leave arequipa for tacna, which is the border crossing to chile. and then i'll get on another bus (for 30 hours--probably actually not better in person) that will take me to santiago. so unless something really amazing happens on the bus, i probably won't have any exciting pictures other than of the atacama desert. so there's always that to look forward to.

except for this picture, which is on the ground here in arequipa. it's for everyone, but maybe especially for one person who might guess who she is.

10 July 2006

best name for a lake EVER

i'm going to try to keep this blog up to date on all of the latest photo-op moments south america and i have. to that end, here's my last couple days, on lake titicaca. do you recall that the lake is the highest navigable body of water in the world? to be exact, it sits at 3.8 km above sea level. and it is massive--over 8000 square kilometers. i took a tour that let me visit two of the main islands as well as some of the floating islands and spend the night with a family. here are some pictures.

the first place we visited were the islas flotantes de uros, or the uros floating islands. the story is that a long time ago these crazy incans were coming along and crushing all non-incan socities in their way. so the uros decided on the perfect plan to save their culture: they piled reeds on top reed roots until they had themselves some floating islands.
the incans probably saw the uros solution and decided when you want to rule an entire continent you have to pick your battles, and that maybe they'd be better off without the people who came up with that brilliant solution in their empire. unfortunately, their plan totally backfired many years later in the face of the great cultural flattener and equalizer: tourism. so now they just sit around floating on the water while they wait for tourists to come and buy things made out of reeds. the tourist industry has much lower standards than the incans did.

here's the sun setting over the lake. the mountain peaks in the background are one of the things that make being there so surreal. you feel like you're just at sea level, but then in the distance you see snow-capped mountains. unfortunately they don't show up well here. tell you what...take me out to dinner when i get back and i'll show you some other pictures.

another really fantastic thing about the altitude at titicaca is the clarity of the air. you feel like you're standing in one of those weird thomas kinkade pictures where light is doing way more than physics actually ever lets it. maybe if the "painter of light" painted lots of pictures on lake titicaca they'd actually seem realistic. maybe.

at the top of the island is a temple. if you stand in the right place you can get a picture of the door, some girl you don't know, and the moon, all at once. it's not as hard as it sounds, see?

this is the family i stayed with. and their house. and some more kinkade light. the little girl, maribel, was really cool. the night before there was a big town dance and she and i tore up the dance floor with some really good nine year old dance moves.

here's one more shot of me and the lake and mountains. and my water bottle and bag. i really like how dumb i look in this picture.

ok, so that's all for now. i'm currently in arequipa (fire up google earth if you want to see where that is), my last stop before chile. in the next couple days i'll head off to colca canyon for some more hiking and sight-seeing, and then i'll move south. i have to be in buenos aires in one month, so i think i may skip through chile relativly fast to spend more time in argentina, which i'm expecting to really really like. ok, until the next update!

07 July 2006

cuzco, cusco, qosqo

janae and i went to machu picchu, and it was fun and great and excellent. we did not do the incan trail, but rather took an alternate trek that was much less crowded and full of mountain views. here are some photomographs.

this is cusco's plaza de armas. with a sunset. and me and this girl i know. and a cathedral and church in the background. yup, that's this picture.

just to the side of this picture is a sign that says "you must be this tall to climb salkantay mountain". our guide let us in anyway when we gave him a candy bar.

here's our guide domingo showing us how to sneak around the gate, post candy bar. he was very accommodating. and cold. we were all very cold. (domingo is actually a very small man inside that puffy coat.) i think we might have actually taken this picture for the mountain in the background. but this candy bribery story is pretty compelling.

look, it's everyone's favorite jeremy and janae pose! if you all would like prints of this picture, ask janae. but if you want a super awesome hat like hers you'll have to ask her brother in law--she just borrowed it.

it probably looks like the lens was blurry in these photos. but really, it's just that beautiful up here...everything has an aura.

this is the famous sunrise over the sacred city. some people think the mountains in the background look like a guy's head. i guess i see it, but it seems to me like looking out the windows of the louvre to see a cow in the clouds when the mona lisa is right there.

be honest. did you look at machu picchu or my butt first? it's ok, you can tell. let's let the comments section be a support group. seriously though, don't laugh at me until you've tried the pastries here. i tried to stop, but i couldn´t!!!

here's janae and me and the guide in the ruins. i know what you're thinking--yes, domingo did totally try to get between j and me every chance he got. and yes, janae was always very abusive to him about her being taller.

here's the aerial view of machu picchu from huayna picchu. incidentally, this is also the picture i'm going to put up on lots of dating service websites if things between janae and i fall through. come and get it, ladies!!!