Blog Archives

One Man, Over Land, No Man’s Land

The Fitz Roy Mountain Range, near El Chalten, Argentina (See all the pics…)

Somewhere after the second kilometer and third mangled desert hare I began to wonder if my minimally researched, impromptu hike into Chile was a good idea. I was in the No Man’s Land between the Argentine and Chilean border checkpoints, however this wasn’t the first No Man’s Land that I’ve had to trek across. In truth, it’s not even close to being the most intense either. Hands down, that prize goes to the five mile wasteland between the Kashgar and Kyrgyzstan checkpoints, traveled only by truckers and thoughtfully sandwiched on each side by border urchins waiting to con you in a myriad of deceptive ways. And I was in a tuxedo at the time.

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El Calafate and The Perito Moreno Glacier

Yes, that’s a boat… This place is ridiculously spectacular. (See all the pics here…)

The bus hurtled down the Patagonian road, barely slowing for an errant flock of llamas that had escaped their confines. Surprised by the rare vehicle, they took running jumps back over the fence, appearing guilty for having been caught outside their pens. Further along a few ostriches looked up as we passed, and then went back to pecking, unimpressed by our presence. The only other wild life observed was occasional foreign bicyclists, who’s ongoing battle against the wind was etched in every grimace of their grit-blasted faces. The landscape shared an aesthetic similarity with the southwestern United States; much of Patagonia can get very cold but it’s also arid land, sporadicly pockmarked with rocky outcrops, and dotted with small dusty shrubs. Increasingly, we’d pass a lake or river, usually flowing the opposite way and thus indicating that we were approaching the Southern mountains of the Andes range. As we neared the lake-side town of El Calafate (named after the berry, that once eaten, ensures your return to Patagonia), I looked at the two small mountains behind it and tried to scope out routes to climb them. Why do humans incessantly desire to ‘conquer’ things that are way bigger than ourselves?

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Rio Gallegos: Wonderfully Dull.

Everyone was right: there is truly nothing going on in the old oil production town of Rio Gallegos. I didn’t even know where everyone was until I found the main street. I only call it ‘main street’ because it had more on it than the idle dog and tufts of overgown roadside grass that were the staple of most of the streets here. Oh yes, did I mention the wind? It was so strong at times you could lean into it at quite an acute angle without falling down.

Truly boring, and I couldn’t have been happier. After a distracted time in Buenos Aires I spent the two days catching up on some writing and sampling some wonderful baked goods. Each town, no matter how small seems to have an carb-injecting, endorphin-inducing bakery or ‘panaderia’. NOTE: I’ve given up trying to figure out how to enter accents on my laptop, so please don’t confuse my laziness for ignorance. These wonderful places spill their scents of fresh empanadas (meat, cheese or vegetable stuffed pouches), loafs and pies onto the sidewalk. It’s bordering on the use of unfair subliminal advertising. There’s also a lot of pizzerias, An obvious sign of the Italian influence in Argentina from back in the day. It’s often topped with the most unexpected yet delicious items, such as beets or palm hearts with’golf sauce’. I’m not sure where the name ‘golf sauce’ came from but it had to be sampled; a sort of mayonnaise ‘special sauce’ was the rather indulgent surprise.

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The Escape from Buenos Aires

The Tigre boat trip was truly the highlight of my Buenos Aires experience. Besides a refreshing taste of the nature I craved, it was an surprising insight into the decadent life that many of the priveledged and upwardly mobile middle class enjoyed here. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city too, but I had just left LA, my own distracting meccaof entertainment and I was beginning to feel frustrated; I had hardly read a page or written a word in the last 5 days, it was hot and my lovely harem was sadly (for me) beginning to go their separate ways. The day after the boat, as is customary on minimally pre-planned journeys, I sat down with a map and a borrowed guide book and decided to not get up until I had determined my next move.

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The Serendipitous Universe: A Boat on the Tigre River

Will et al on the Tigre River (See all the Buenos Aires pics here…)

Before I recount this story, please allow me to cut myself a thick slice of retrospect pie. I have a serious, kneel-down-and-lower-your-head kind of respect for the serendipity of life. Every time I start tracing back the probability of the present moment I start to drive myself into a frenzy of logistical wonderment. Of course any one of us can look back at life’s crazy twists and turns of circumstance, experience and relations that have created our reality. In fact if you’re resourceful and imaginative enough, you could dig so deep that you’ll probably find yourself trying to answers the same Big Bang questions that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider was built to help explore. Amid the mind numbing improbability of it all, there are certain moments and individuals that especially stand out; I refer to them as ‘vector shifts’, poignant encounters which profoundly affect everything that comes after them. One such experience in my life was volunteering at the TED conference in 2005. After completing Rhode Island School of Design in 2002, I had been on a tour of all the big US conferences (always attending for free in return for stuffing goodie bags or working the reception) and after the five days TED conference, I left the charming California town of Monterey with my mind completely blown. I was 25 and realized at that moment that I was experiencing my first conscious vector shift – in fact that’s the very moment that I coined the term.

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Hostel Stories: 5 Girls and the Lost Underwear

OK, I’m certainly a believer in the charm that a rustic condition can offer. But now It’s been two days without electricity in my hostel, yet it’s just hot enough to dread the sweaty hassle of moving to a new place – and so here I am. In fact I’m now down the street using a neighbors wifi and drinking ‘agua con gas’ to try to cure this vicious hangover. A simple glass of wine with last night’s dinner began the swift erosion of my one month sobriety and I ended up at the cheesiest disco / breakdance variety show with a Mexican traveler called Ivan surrounded by more transvestites that I have been for a while. Since 2007 in Phuket in fact. I always enjoy these bizarre creatures; their flamboyant revelry adds a certain spice to any party and they seemed especially enamored by this early 90s techno.

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One Shaven Armpit in the Twilight of Mexico City Airport

Mexico City Airport, 12:43am. There’s no better time to start writing than when I haven’t slept in 2 days, and the only thing keeping me going, besides a lukewarm cup of airport coffee, is the incentive to stay awake so I don’t miss my connecting flight. If I put my head down now, the next moment I’ll be waking up to the poke of a janitor’s broom and a missed flight. I know this because it’s happened before. After getting off the plane I immediately got lost and somehow managed to have to go through immigration twice tailed by a Colombian named Hugo who was in a similar predicament. After immigration we’d been asked to leave the gate area until 4am and wait in the cold snack area. I was feeling a little edgy. ‘A little edgy’ is how I tend to engage with life. However it’s not the lack of sleep or the lukewarm coffee that has me vexed, it’s the razor burn that’s having a party in my right armpit. My left armpit is ‘au natural’ and it”s all part of a empirical study I am conducting on the advice of my friend Todd. An avid adventurer, Todd told me you an bring less clothes when traveling if you shave your armpits. I planned to travel light but I decided to not fully adopt the technique until I tested it, after all, Todd was also the kind of guy who implanted a magnet in his finger so he could sense magnetic currents. What works for Todd might not work for everyone and right now I would wax my left eyebrow in exchange for some baby powder.

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