Fortaleza, Brasil S3°43.151′ W38°31.799′ Sea Level

November 6th, 2006

I think one of the main highlights for my entire South American experience was that bike ride down the most dangerous road. It was SUCH a rush. We started at the summit of an Andean pass near 13,000′. Our guide said to walk around slow or else you could lose your breath and have a hard time catching it again. No matter though, we would be on our way
soon enough. We passed around a bottle of cane liquor, took a sip and sprinkled some on the ground as an offering to Altualtapec asking for protection. A short safety speech and
we were off. The first 8 miles were asphalt which was a nice way to start and get used to the bikes. I was short on cash so opted for the budget package which gave me a front suspension only bike. It actually turned out to be faster than the “fullies” and I was at the
front of the pack the whole way. We stopped frequently as to not get too spread out. There were wrecked cars here and there along the canyon floor. You couldn’t help but shake your head and imagine going out that in that way. The guides were good at filling us in on the particulars of certain wrecks. “Those two trucks were going too fast and collided on a blind corner.” “The truck that went over here wasn’t found for four days.” “That’s where the tourist bus went over last month. We arrived about on hour after it happened and helped in the rescue.” Just crazy, crazy stories. A man who lost his whole family in an accident now mans a blind corner with red and green flags. If you’re clear to go he holds the green. If somethings coming he shows the red. People give him tips on the way by and that’s how he makes his living. We almost had a tragic day. A girl in our group wiped out on some mud and slid on her belly to with in 3.5 of the edge. We were all
shaken up for a while but she insisted on finishing the ride under her own steam. Wow,
what a trooper. We all made it down safe and had a huge feast by the river. I highly recommend that trip. Check it out at


I spent the next few days working my way through the Bolivian Amazon on 4×4 buses. My back is sure glad it was a one way trip. I’ve never been bounced around, cramped in tiny seats and blasted by dust from passing trucks so much in my life. It’s a big laugh now that it’s over. I really like Bolivia. It’s super cheap, chill and the locals aren’t trying to rip off the gringo’s like they were in Peru. I’ll go back.
I crossed one of the tributaries of the Amazon and was then in Brasil. I worked my way to Porto Velho which is the northern terminus of the Railway of Death. The railroad was built in the early 1900’s to transport rubber from higher up river past rapids and waterfalls. As many as 25,000 people died during its construction from tropical diseases, animal and Indian attacks, gunfights, accidents and disappearances, hence the name. It stopped running in 1972 but there are about 10 old steam locomotives in various states of disarray around the train yard. It was such a cool place to trip around. It was there that I found out that no boats were leaving for Manaus for five days!!! My guide book was
wrong and that put me in a bad spot for catching my plane. I looked on a map and found that there was a town further down river that could be reached by bus. I asked around and found out that the only bus for the day would leave in twenty minutes!!! I made a mad dash and I just made it. I was betting on my luck that there would be a boat there that at least would get me closer to Manaus. I got there and went straight to the port. No boats to Manaus but found one to the next town downriver and leaving VERY soon and not another for two days. I needed a hammock for the over night trip and went and bought one. As I was walking back I could hear a boat engine revving up. “SHIT!!! It’s leaving!!!” I ran down to the dock but it was too late. It was off. A fisherman in his boat just pulled up and I jumped into his boat. “Amigo, to that boat please!” He was a bit surprised but totally cool and took me along side so that I could jump on. How’s that for an entrance?
The next day we passed a section of river with about 150 rafts with gold mining sloughs working the bottom. It looked like each raft had a family on it. As we pulled up there was a big rush for our boat as we were their supply boat. Food, boxes of live chicks, hoses, fuel, you name it we had it on board. It was cool to see the real thing. The town where the boat stopped would be the end of the line for me. No more boats down stream for days. The trans-amazonian highway was well overgrown so cars no longer make the trip. My only way to get to Manaus on time would be to fly on a small plane three days later. I spent the time there making friends and also rented a motorcycle to explore the jungle. Before long the wheel wells were all mudded up and I was totally stuck. I’m sure it was my imagination going wild but I got the creeps thinking of jaguars waiting for foolish foreigners out there in the middle of nowhere and stuck. As i feverishly worked away trying to clear the mud with a stick I kept an eye on my surroundings just in case. It’s so funny how your mind can get carried away. The flight to Manaus was fantastic. It was a 10 seater turbo prop but with no cockpit door. I sat right behind the pilots and took it all in. What a treat that we rarely get these days. We flew nice and low which was another treat. Miles and miles of lush green never seeing the ground itself. As I mentioned in the first update I toured the Theatro Amazonas but didn’t get to see a show. So this time the
only two objectives I had being that short stay in Manaus were catching my plane the following morning and getting myself into a show. When I got to the city I went straight to the Theatro to find out if there was one that night. There was but it was an “Invitation Only” opening day event. “Damn” I thought, missed it again. I looked up my tour guide, Sandra, from six months ago. We got pretty friendly last time but had lost email touch. She was there was there and stoked on our reunion. There aren’t too many tourist that make two trips to Manaus in less than a year! We caught up and then I
told how grateful I would be if she could sneak me in that night….. She made it happen! I couldn’t believe it and was totally beside myself the rest of the day. She snuck me in and even though she was working the event she gave my the royal treatment. Before the play started I sat in my seat taking in the architecture and artwork and had a hard time believing that I was actually in the T of the A about to see a show. There were very well dressed VIP guests and lots of smiles and happy people. I was chatty with a few of them and Sandra actually thought I knew them from somewhere else. Funny. It was nice to fit in that well. The play was a comedy and we all laughed our butts off. Bravo. After the show a phat spread awaited us outside. For me it was like a fairy tale night at the ball. Thank you very much Sandra. You’ve made my Amazon experience complete.

Okay, now. Short story longer. I made it back to the ship safe and sound and was blown away by the progress. The two aft cabins were converted into three using a sketch I left with the carpenters. I have my own cabin now!!! Amazing hardwood floor has been laid down. Granite floor tiles in the main saloon. The list goes on and on. It just really looks terrific everywhere. It was really great to see the crew too. They faired well tied up in the marina for five months. I think the girlfriends they’ve picked up here has helped with that! We way anchor for Trinidad on Fridayish. It’ll be about a 8-10 day sail. We will be going with the wind and current so it’ll be a terrific trip. All of us except for Cesar haven’t sailed across the equator before so it’ll be a particularly special trip. Since he has he is officially entitled to haze us. Fat chance, Cesar!!!! I think it’ll be more like a round of Champagne for everyone.

We’ll spend a month in Trinidad. We aim to haul out, repaint the bottom, check the propeller shafts and install a copper grounding plane for the Single Side Band radio. After all that work I think some steel drum lessons will be in order.
I’m wishing you all the best.
Love and Luck,

La Paz, Bolivia 16:31:01S 68:10:59W 11,913′

October 10th, 2006

 Hello everyone!  After a five year hiatus I´ve decided it´s high time to have a website again.  I want to give a special thanks to my friend Tony Peppler for helping me streamline the process.  I can now update w/o having my laptap as it was back in the day.  I intend on writing a post every couple of weeks or so at least until I get back to California in January.  As to the funny website name/ history of the site, “Day Off” is the name of my sailboat.  I was able to get that domain name (when it was still possible to get one less than 15 characters long!) and kept an online log of my sailing trip to Mexico.

  This first post will be quite long as there is a bit to catch up on.  The last group email I sent was when I was just about to leave the Santa Clara in Fortaleza, Brasil.   The plan was to leave her there to wait out the Caribbean’s hurricane season.  A skeleton crew was left on board and I split for the Amazon.  I ended up taking a variety of river boats from the mouth of the river at the city Belem to Yurimaguas, Perú.  That´s the farthest you can get on that particular tributary before rapids, waterfalls and THE ANDES get in the way.  It took me about five weeks to go the distance, mostly in a hammock and others RIGHT next to me, as simply that´s how it´s done.  I of coursed stopped here and there.  I toured the Thearto das Amazonas in Manuas, which for whatever reason was a really big deal for me after hearing about it in 3rd grade Geography class.  Further up the river I took a four day jungle tour seeing five species of monkeys in a half an hour time span!  Yup, snakes, spiders, piranhas, sloths and Pink River Dolphins!?  Another unique experience was visiting Leticia in the Colombian Amazon.  As I entered the town, the sounds, food smells and Spanish dialect I encountered were so familiar I actually had the giggles(I have Colombian roots).  But when I took the first bite of a traditional meal I litterly had to stop and get my bearings.  I felt as if I had been transported to my grandmother’s dining room table in California.  It must have been funny for others around me to see my dumbstruck expression.  What a rush.  Ok, ok, short story getting too long.  I hitched my way over the Andes ending up in the cargo carrier of a cattle truck hauling five cows, a horse and two fighting cocks!  When we summited at 12,000′ I was wearing everything I owned to beat the cold.  It was fantastic.  Being an Age of Discovery geek I visited where Pizarro held the Inca Emperor Atahuallpa for ranson.  Remember that a room was filled once with gold and twice with silver for his release?  Also remember that even after receiving the goods, Pizarro, in traditional conquistador style, killed him anyway?  Of course it´s a depressing story but it can not be argued that at that place South American history was changed forever.  I then visited Charmaine Stanec, a friend from Humboldt who is volunteering in the Peace Corp.  No electricity in her mountain town!  Just the way I like it.  It was a great week.

   A funny story that is a must for this edition is this.  I worked my way up through Equador with the big intention of standing on the equator.  Along the way I heard stories from travelers who had been there that weird things happen there.  For instance if you´re standing on the equator you´re at a loss for physical strength!  They said if you put your hands together as if you´re praying (hands by your chest for the demonstration) and somebody tries to push them down.  YOU CAN’T RESIST!  Another example is if you make the “OK” sign with your hand and someone tries to pull your thumb and index finger apart, YOU CAN´T RESIST!  I thought, “Yeah, right.  That´s a bunch of bullshit.  We´ll see.”  So, just north of Quito, Equador is the “Middle of the World Park.”  It´s actually a very elaborate place with a huge monument tower with an observation deck, a church, planetarium and loads and loads of shops.   Right down the middle of the monument, across the plaza, into the church, through the alter and on and on is a red line.  The equator!  I wasn´t ready to step across considering all the implications, fall to spring, southern to northern, etc.  But, after I got over all those silly notions, and doing the two hemispheres/seasons at once trick, I pulled it off.  Now I was ready for the test.  I had a fellow traveler do the hands together version on either side of the line as a control test and then on the line……………………  It didn´t work!!!!  She was able to hold her hands up.  I knew it!  It was all B.S.  But then I got to thinking and I said out loud to her, “Maybe this isn´t really the equator!?”  Right then a German couple that was near by giggled at us and the guy said,  “You´re right!  The real equater is 200 yards to the north.  The French Geographer that marked the line 200 years ago was wrong!”   Ahhhahahaa, the whole park is in the wrong spot.  Evidently tenish years ago when GPS came around.  A guy went to the park with a receiver and found the error.  He immediately bought the land next to the park where the real line was and set up his own “Middle of the World Park.”  (Of course he´s making bank on addmission now.)  My friend and I blasted over there and that´s where the weird stuff DID happen.  I had her close her eyes and spun her around a bunch and did the tests off the equator a bunch before i did them on it so I was sure it wasn´t a mind thing.  She did the same to me.  It really does happen yet I have no explanation for you.  A Coriolis Effect demonstration was done and that too happens.  That was contrary to what I expected after my Geography Professors said it only happens over long distances and long periods of time.  Hmmm?

I then took a bus through Colombia (which two years ago would have been foolish but things have changed evidently) and ended up in the Caribbean costal city of Cartagena.  That too was another dream come true.  After seeing the movie “Romancing the Stone” about 137 times as a kid,  I always wanted to trip around the many, many Spanish fortresses.  They´re all still there and way more impressive than I thought.  The city is fun in general.  I got my dance groove on and did a bunch of sailing on a rental.  The city was definitely a highlight.  I then flew to Bogotá to meet my mom who was in South America doing some translation work.  What a trip for us for her to show me where she was born and grew up.  It was her first time back in 29 years and it was quite impressive for her as well.  As we drove around she spent a lot of time being really quite.  I´m sure just waves of recollections and emotions were sweeping over her.

Ok, Ok, I´m going to make the next three months fly by in one sentence, watch.  I flew home, went to a wedding, a funeral, to court, to the E.R., and to Burning Man.  See?

Now I´m on my way back to the ship…. via Lima.  Charmaine happened to be there preparing to take the LSAT when I got there.  I helped to distract her with, of course, dancing and some light gambling.  US$0.50 minimums on the Roulette wheel!

I´ve since done the Gringo Trail.  That´s not the Inca Trail which right now has a two month waiting list and a US$250 price tag.  Nope, not for me.  The Gringo Trail is the mostly traveled circuit on the continent.  It´s Lima, Ica, Nazca(as in the Nazca line drawings in the desert((only can be seen from the air))), Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, Cuzco, Machu Pichu, Lake Titicaca and then for most people back to Lima. Nazca Plains The Classic Machu shotI´ve continued on to Copacabana and Isla Del Sol which is on the Bolivian side of the lake.  Spending the night on the sacred Inca island under a full moon in the World´s Highest Navigable Lake is close to being the highlight so far.  However, Machu Pichu of course is just simply stunning.  Hey you adventurers.  Bolivia is the place for you.  It´s CHEAP (US$2 room with a view, US$1 dinner!) and there´s sooooo much to do.  How´s this for adventure… tomorrow I mountain bike down to the jungle via the World´s Most Dangerous Road.  It´s a drop of 11,500′ in only 40 miles!  Evidently around a 100 people go over the side a year, mostly in buses that just don´t quite make it while passing opposite direction traffic.  uhhhh.  Other than that there´s loads of trekking, mountaineering, jungle trips, you name it.

Anyway, to wrap this up, I´m going to travel overland through the Bolivian jungle then jump on a Braslian river boat to Manaus (more hammocks) and HOPEFULLY catch my flight to where the ship is.  We´ll haul out for necessary maintenance and then set sail for Trinidad & Tobago.  After that the plans for the ship are uncertain as the maritime infrastructure in the Cayman Islands are still destroyed from Hurricane Ivan two years ago.  Anybody want to buy a tallship?  I have some more travel plans brewing but only if I can get my work done in Trinidad(working out bugs, installing electrical upgrades, etc.) as I fly home on January 15th.

I bet your eyes are bleeding by now by the length of this update.  But hopefully you´ve enjoyed some of it.  The next ones will be brief, promise.

Love & Luck,   Anthony