Blog Archives

Tilcara to Mendoza and the Next Iteration

See all the photos from the final Argentina segment here…

In late 2007, after a year of traveling west around the globe mostly in a charitable tuxedo, I returned to the US and immediately launched back into my old, high-energy life. I organized a big social event in NYC and then headed directly to Maine to work at a high-minded conference called PopTech. One affliction that long stretches of traveling brings is that you quickly get used to the ease of living in the moment and your ability to create and follow intricate schedules greatly suffers. Not yet understanding this fact, I had given myself no time to acclimate and I quickly burned out. Actually, it was a very similar feeling to the edge that I’d found myself approaching a few months before this trip: way too over extended and way too much going on. A few of my friends who were also working at the conference noticed the shift in my energy but overall, I managed to keep it together. On the final day I quietly slipped off the grid, escaping to my sister’s wild life sanctuary in the woods of Ithaca, where I spent a few weeks working on web projects, helping Victoria care for broken animals and plotting my return to LA in a more mindful way.

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Chaos, Tranquility and a Cosmic Soccer Game

See all the Isla del Sol pictures here…

Back in La Paz and on second thoughts not much has changed: it’s truly an insane place. There’s no stop signs or round-a-bouts. There’s some street lights but no one seems to really pay attention. Instead there’s a system of honking: if you’re about to speed through an intersection, you honk and hope. If anyone gets too close, you don’t slow down, you just jab a series of short honks. Dogs chase the wheels. Indigenous women and children fly out of the way. It’s chaos, but it seems to work. At some of the busiest intersections you might see an odd sight; various characters trying to protect the pedestrian public. Individuals in zebra suits or the rather elaborately costumed ‘seven dwarfs’ (Snow White apparently had the day off) who run into the intersection during red lights and prevent pedestrians, and themselves, from being hit.

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Life on Death Road

See the rest of the Death Road pics here…

That corner, we call that ‘Italian Corner’.” Our tour guide, the self appointed Speedy Gonzales laughed.

Why do you call it that?” I asked, although I already knew the answer.

A few years ago, an Italian – he fell down!” Speedy grinned, “And the jungle, it ate him. So be careful amigos! Let’s go!” Speedy pulled a mini-wheelie and headed down the rocky, cliff-side trail.

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Angry as Hell in a City Called Peace

See all the pictures from La Paz and Death Road here…

La Paz, goddammit, if you weren’t so damn formless and concrete I’d want to punch you in your filthy face. And just when things were going so well in Bolivia! By chance, on my last day in Sucre I’d run into Adelaide and Susie and we’d all agreed that the Bolivian crime stories we’d heard about didn’t really seemed well founded. And then you go and kick me in the nuts. Was it really necessary?

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The Devil in the Mines of Potosi

See all the Potosi pictures here…

Diego Huallpa had searched everywhere for the lost llama but there was still no sign of him. ‘Stupid animal,’ Diego thought, ‘and he was just about ready for market! My father will kill me’. By this point he was far from home, the sun had set and so Diego decided to build a fire to keep himself warm. As the fire grew hot, Diego noticed as a shiny trickle oozing from the ground beneath the fire. ‘Holy Incan Sun God!’ He exclaimed, ‘Those strange-talking, bearded white folk are going to be SO happy with me – they love this stuff!’ It was 1544 and Diego Huallpa, a local Inca had just discovered the wealth of silver that lay beneath Cerro Rico (or Rich Hill) as it came to be known. And indeed the Spanish Conquistadors were so grateful that they called in more of their friends, enslaved the locals and began hollowing out the mountain.

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The Uyuni Expedition

See all the pictures from the Uyuni Expedition here…

God damn borders. Ever since I was about nine, they’ve triggered an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. The reason? From a young age, I had collected a large array of knives. It started as the standard going-away-to-camp-for-the-first-time Swiss Army knife but soon evolved to more unique additions including a kuhkri that my sister Victoria had bought me in Nepal and a goat-skin sheathed machete from her time in Africa. Even my parents had given me knives – it wasn’t a weird fetish, just an honest, affection for the shape and design of the instrument.

So there I was, in Heathrow Airport, surrounded by 3 security guards, one of whom was gripping a semi-automatic weapon. I had just walked through the metal detector and had apparently triggered the ‘this guy has a large piece of metal on him’ alarm. My mother approached the metal detector:

Madam, please wait right there!” The guard with the gun blurted. I instinctively put my hands up.

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