Archive for October, 2006

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

Tuesday, 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