Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Ecuadorian Difference

It's so damn good to be back in Ecuador, where:

Two lanes means four cars can fit.
The motorcycle can carry a family of four.
You never turn on the windsheild wipers - you turn on the windshield wiper.
If a shop owner tells you a dufflebag costs $12.50, he means it costs $9.
A 60km/hr speed limit means you can drive 90km/hr.
Five minutes actually means twenty five minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's all good

So far so good. Met two Germans whose boat sunk in the Galapagos last week, and the sixteen passengers and nine crew only lived because they all happend to be on deck. A wave smashed the boat and it sunk instantly.

Poured through some trip reports left by travelers, and one of my favorites was: "This guy gave me three cookies on the bus and I woke up three days later and all my stuff was gone!" My second favorite was, "ok, it might sound funny to get mugged by transvestites, but it's not."

Yes, the Mariscal neighborhood is as safe as ever. Supposedly there are gangs of Nigerians who mug people regularly and all live in the same house and the cops turn a blind eye. Now, cummon, is that really true? Or is it the Colombians? Or is it...

Oh here's another good one: "I took out money at the ATM at three in the morning and I got robbed!" Noooo, ya don't say! Oh yeah, then the guy who – fuck me! – got robbed and taken for three thousand dollars in cash. Goddam, I hate it when I'm carrying three luca in a dangerous neighborhood and get rolled!

I love people.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Whooooo are you?

Nationality is an outdated concept that benefits the man.

Nationality allows the US government to train Iraqi soldiers to fight and die while keeping the number of "US casualties" down. But if the US trains them and they fight for us, why aren't they considered US casualties?

Nationality keeps us from holding multinational corporations responsible for what they do elsewhere.

Nationality keeps people away.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Don't gimme no so-so-soda

I swore I'd never fly Taca again, and what do I get for forgetting? A four hour delay in Lima and The Bad News Bears for the planeride flick. Shit. Thank god for INKA KOLA.

Lonely Planet recently conducted an author survey to see which of its authors had been to the most countries. "Being" in a country meant leaving the airport. In other words, spending four hours in the Lima airport doesn't count as "going to Peru." Fair enough. No passport stamp, no nothing. Just the airport.

But goddamnit, I feel like I went to Peru after today. I mean, where else in the world can I drink neon-yellow, bubblegum flavored soda pop named after great American indians and suck on coca candy? Coca candy! Right there on the airport counter! "Fights altitude sickness. Energizes." I'll take three of those packets of candy please.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The kids are alright

Turismo Receptivo

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hot Fun in the Southern Time

According to Transparency International's Corrupt Country Index, Paraguay scores 1.9 out of ten, ten representing the least corrupt. Only Chad, Myanmar, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Haiti scored lower than Paraguay.

Hey, let's go visit the sixth most corrupt country in the world! We'll ride motorcycle taxis and spend the day there illegally, just for the hell of it. Or was it legal? I'm not sure, to be honest. If the border officials let us through with US$50 cash instead of the required visa, does that mean we were there illegally? We didn't have an entrance stamp or a visa. But they did officially let us in. Or at least an official let us in. And we got the exit stamp, as promised, as a ''souvenir''. It gets confusing.

Motorcycle taxi, by the way, is considered the second most dangerous form of public transportation in South America, just behind riding in a dugout motor canoe along the pacific coast of Colombia. But motorcycle taxis might be more fun. Especially international motorcycle taxis.

The US gets a 7.5 on the corrupt country index - three points better than France. Seven point five, shee-it. More like 1.3.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ecuador Pics

bull-pullin' in Guaranda




Plaza San Francisco

chowin' in machachi

Sigsig hat maker

Guaranda shoe shine


Train 112

El Boliche

Train to El Boliche





Pig Head Cilo





El Tricolor

Friday, September 09, 2005

Danny, Greg and Aimee meet the Polyester Towel Midnight Watchman

Polyester towels don't work. They just spread the water around your body. But we're staying at the cheapest hotel in town so that's what we get.

I had to wipe with my hand yesterday because there wasn't any toilet paper. Danny, pay attention to these things before you get down to business! Worst part was, there was no soap in the bathroom either.

I dragged the mattress out of Aimee's and my room and snuck it over to Greg because his bed was so hilarously lumpy and beaten to a pulp that I can't believe he agreed to the hotel. But the second mattress worked wonders. As did the drinks.

The old night manager walked us to our room with a flashlight at 2am and shined it on the keyhole so we could open our door.

I got zapped this morning trying to make the electric shower work.

I tortured myself trying to stifle my fits of laughter in the back of a cop car yesterday. Aimee was between us, and Greg could barely fit. But they gave us a ride anyway. I just couldn't stop laughing when they stopped the car to listen to the guy who called them about the robbery. The three of us crammed into the back of the car, knowing that the cops had just wandered around the zoo taking pictures with their cell phones instead of responding to the call, was making me hysterical.

It's great to be out of Buenos Aires.

Monday, September 05, 2005

BA by night

I finally realized why this is a city by night. Its more than just the nightlife. By day the city is gray and dirty and noisy and, hell, it can be straight up ugly and harsh. There's nothing but work to be awake for during the daytime. There's not a residential building in the city that doesn't have thick, roll-down shutters over the windows to block out the insanity of daytime. All the buildings look sealed off and abandoned.

But by night, the color of the neon comes out, and the traffic dissappears and people slow down, and the shadows are wierd, and cafes and pizzerias, bookstores on Corrientes, bars and clubs and kiosks stay open until dawn. The cartoneros come in on the late-night train. Tango, nightlife, music, dinner at midnight. All of it. Something happens here when the sun goes down.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

ai, que linda!

Los Molinos


media pierna



hijos del hijo

Calle Araoz