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Up and Over

Posted August 11, 2013

PART 15 (DAYS 33-35): “How’s everything here?” I asked Chris, the manager at Southern Laughter Lodge, when I arrived back in Queenstown for a day in order to catch a homeward bound flight early the following morning.

“Oh, it’s quiet. It’s finally slowing down,” he answered.

“Oh, is the ski season over?”

“No, the season can go all the way until October,” he told me. “But all the Aussie kids have gone back to university.”

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A Trainful of Tourists

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 12, 2003

DAY 24: Once upon a time in Ecuador, the railway system was the fast way to go north or southbound through the Andean countryside.  Over the years, this railway system was replaced by the faster and cheaper bus network.  But there is one train that still runs, so that tourists can ride on the roof and take pictures of the countryside faster than the locomotive.

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Crossroads of Ecuador

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 11, 2003

DAY 23: Whenever I’d walk around with Navid on the streets of Baños, newly arrived backpackers would always stand out with their big packs strapped to their backs and their smaller daypacks strapped in front.  This is like trying to simulate being both pregnant and a camel at the same time.

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Liquid Hot Magma

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 10, 2003

DAY 22:  Navid had moved to my hostel since his other was too noisy, so it was easy to find him for breakfast.  We played a quick game of generic Jenga before looking for the other thermal baths of Baños on the outskirts of town.

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The Gorge

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 09, 2003

DAY 21:  When I ran into Dutchman Hugo on my first night in Baños, he told me about his adventures since he left Quito, one about the time he and his friend Alberto were threatened to be beat up by a group of villagers unless they respectfully ate cuy (fried guinea pig) with them.  (They snuck out the back door and ran away.)

“Quito is weird because you go there and even though you are traveling, you aren’t traveling because it is just like any big city,” he said.  “Only when you leave Quito and start seeing the smaller Indian villages does the real traveling begin.”

By the time you finish reading this blog entry, you’ll see what he means.

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Hot Bath

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 08, 2003

DAY 20: Baños is a town in a valley surrounded by lush green mountains, one of which gets really excited and ejaculates liquid hot magma every so often.  In 1999, the Volcán Tungurahua erupted, causing a major evacuation of the town, and since then the town has been on guard.  In Baños, after you look up the weather forecast, you look up the volcano forecast.

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Movin’ Right Along

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 07, 2003

DAY 19:  I had my last breakfast with Blanca in the morning, which was a good and bad thing.  A good thing in that I was getting fresh food and a lot of it served to me on a ceramic platter with no effort on my behalf.  A bad thing because — just as every morning I’d been living there — it was way too much food for me so early in the morning and I almost had to force myself to eat the whole thing.  My stomach simply can’t handle a huge plate of fruit three inches tall plus an egg and bread and juice and a cafe con leche.  I think for once I would have actually preferred just having some McGriddles.

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Ecuadorean Jedi

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 06, 2003

DAY 18: Back in the days when I had a 9-5 American corporate job, I was only allotted the miniscule vacation time of two weeks.  Two weeks, compared to other countries, is an embarrassingly short period of time and I would always use these two weeks to rush through a destination, doing one thing after the other after the other to pack it all in.  I slept very little in attempts to make two weeks seem like three.

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Everything That Has A Beginning Has An End

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 05, 2003

DAY 17:  For the past week and a half, I had fallen into a routine in which I’d wake up, shower and have breakfast with Arne and Blanca.  Things were different this morning.  It was Arne’s last day in the house, since he was planning to move to his friend’s place a couple of days before he starting work in a hospital the following week.

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La Gripe

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 04, 2003

DAY 16: I woke up at about 3 a.m. feeling a little feverish.  I popped a couple of ibuprofen and went back to sleep.  I woke up around 7 with the sun feeling better, but still a little feverish, but managed to finish my homework.  I had to write a story in Spanish using as many of the new verbs that I had learned.  I wrote one about the final battle between a secret agent and an evil scientist — in the end, the secret agent defeats the him, but not after saying “Hasta la vista, PUTA!”

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Mallrats

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 03, 2003

DAY 15:  My morning started as always: getting out of bed to take a piss.  However, this day it was different.  In the center of the bathroom, atop a small drain gate, were three turds.

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Pee On The Trees

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 02, 2003

DAY 14:  After breakfast, I updated The Blog at the German computer nerd’s internet cafe around the corner.  Outside, all the stores were closed for Sunday and even in GringoLand it looked like a ghost town.  Arne said it reminded him of the movie 28 Days Later.

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Erik Vs. The Volcano

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 01, 2003

DAY 13:  “Did you go out partying for Halloween last night?” a Danish blonde asked me in the back of a truck at 8:03 in the morning.  She saw that I looked pretty exhausted.

“Yup,” I answered all groggy-eyed, waiting for my coffee to kick in.  “And you?”

“No.”

“Ah, you’re smart.”

And so began my trip to Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, just 90 minutes south of Quito by car.

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Virgin by Day, Witches by Night

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 01, 2003

DAY 12: Spanish class with my tutor Rosa was going pretty normal — we reviewed some more helpful verbs — until she mentioned a card game called Cuarenta, which is Ecuador’s national card game — so much that every year there are championships for money.  For the whole second half of my morning class, I asked her to teach me, and we just sat at the table playing cards.  We got weird looks from the other students and professors who were still trying to figure out the difference between the two verbs for “to be.”  It was a perfect way for me to “learn my numbers.”

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The Secret of My Success

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 30, 2003

DAY 11:  I think that I’m learning Spanish a lot quicker than the other students in school.  I don’t know if it’s because I took French in high school and the language is very similar, or because I come from Filipino heritage and Tagalog borrows many words from Spanish.  All I do know is that most students I’ve spoken to are doing way more written exercises in class (and for homework), while I’ve moved on to more conversational work.

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My Big Fake Gay Wedding

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 29, 2003

DAY 10:  In South America, I’ve noticed that most of the hot showers are electric.  A pipe runs to a shower head which is connected to two electric wires, which run a power switch.  As water enters the shower head, it heats it before it comes down.

The problem I’ve found with this is, when a fuse blows in the house, like it did in the morning, the water immediately gets freezing cold right when you have shampoo all in your hair.  I blamed my iBook in the bedroom, which had been plugged in and rendering a video file for a New York client for the past two days.

If it’s not one thing with clients, it’s another.

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When You’re Sliding Into First and You Feel Something Burst, Diarrhea…Diarrhea…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 28, 2003

DAY 9: “El domingo pasado, miro una pelicula divertido sobre una abuela que tener una casa, pero ella le va a perder a menos que gana $250,000.  Entonces, su nieto juga golf — pero dice muchas malas palabras en el television!  Hubo un beep y beep y beeep…”

Translation:  “Last Sunday, I saw a funny movie about a grandmother who has a house, but she is going to lose it unless she earns $250,000.  So, her grandson plays golf — but says many bad words on the television!  There was a beep and beep and beeep….”

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Shit Happens

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 27, 2003

DAY 8:  I checked out of the Crossroads Hostel while everyone was still asleep and brought all my gear to class.  Class was more of the same — more verbs and vocabulary, and conversations with Rosa that went off in tangents.  During the break, I met a new student, an English girl on her first day of class, who — unlike everyone else I met so far — actually thought I was Asian and not Latino.  (She had just flown in to South America after six or so months wandering Southeast Asia.)

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Money Matters

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 26, 2003

DAY 7:  I learned a new expression in Spanish today:  “Su banco es esta fuera de linea.”  Translation:  “Your bank is off-line.”  I have decided this is my least favorite Spanish expression so far.

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Shopping Spree

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 25, 2003

DAY 6:  A rooster crowed around 5am and wouldn’t stop until we had no choice but to get up.  Navid sat in his bed all groggy-eyed.  “I hope that rooster ends up in a cock fight today.”

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Class Trip, Road Trip

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 24, 2003

DAY 5: I checked out of the hostel room around 8, managing not to wake up Lars, who was pretty much out cold anyway since he drank half a bottle of rum the night before in front of the TV.  I left my bag with Carlos in the office and went off to class.

Every Friday at the school, the second half of the morning classes go on a field trip somewhere in town.  A las once, four of us students, plus all of our teachers headed off to a museum of Ecuador’s history, in the Old City.  One of the students was a tall, lanky Dutch guy named Hugo, who towered about 6’5”.  He was one of those goofball gringos that didn’t care how embarrassed he’d get talking to locals, knowing that they’d just brush him off as a gringo.  Using his broken Spanish, he managed to buy candy off a blind man on the bus.

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Old School

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 23, 2003

DAY 4:  I woke up an hour before class and was off to take a shower, when I ran into Anna, this girl from Nebraska that I met in the TV lounge the night before.  “Wanna get some breakfast?” she asked.  I saved the shower for later and went out with her.

We went wandering for a really cheap breakfast place.  “Most of the places in the gringo district are pretty expensive,” she said.  “I’ve been going to places about four blocks away where it’s a lot cheaper.”  We found a small sit down restaurant where a full breakfast — including bread, eggs, coffee and juice — was only a buck sixty.  “It’s funny when you think a whole two dollars is too much for a breakfast,” she said.

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Back to School

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 22, 2003

DAY 3: Yigal managed to leave for his 3am flight in the middle of the night without waking me or Judy.  The only thing that woke us up was the sun blaring through our window around 8am.

Judy and I had breakfast at the Magic Bean Cafe downstairs.  It didn’t occur to me until then that “Magic Bean” was a reference to the fact that it’s a coffeehouse as well, and I mean that in the coffee way, not the Amsterdam way, so there was no waking and baking.  I introduced Judy to Josh and Gordana, who were at the next table.  We all ate our free jugos, cafe con leches y “toasted bagels.”

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The Ecuadorean-Looking Gringo

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 21, 2003

DAY 2: I actually slept for a good nine hours, three times more than my usual back home.  Outside I could hear the pitter-patter of rain and cars and trucks whizzing by.  I just laid there for a while until I leaned over and noticed I had a roommate in the lower bunk across the way.  “Hello,” he said.

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The Ups and Downs of Air Travel

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 20, 2003

DAY 1: After a crazed morning of last-minute packing, a run to the Home Depot for luggage locks and some Dunkin’ Donuts bagel sticks, I had a final lunch at Chili’s with my parents and brother, who all took the day off to send me off.  (You can all say “Aww…” in unison now, like the live studio audience used to do on Happy Days.)  I short drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, and we arrived at Continental Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport.

“Where is your returning ticket out of Ecuador?” the Continental Airlines attendant asked.

“Oh, I’m just gonna take a bus into Peru,” I answered.

“Where is the bus ticket then?”

“I was gonna get it there.”

“Immigration won’t let you into Ecuador without proof that you are leaving.”

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