Money Matters in the Mountains

DSC04720falls.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, January 27, 2004 was originally posted on January 28, 2004.

DAY 101:  After a quick breakfast of empanadas de pollo, Zolly and I split a taxi to the bus station for our day-trip to the nearby mountain town of Samaipata, a popular weekend getaway town for Santa Cruzians.  It was possible to get there and its surrounding highlights on a bus tour, but we decided to wing it with public transportation.  However, when we got to the bus terminal, we found that no public bus went to Samaipata.

Using my 100-day old Spanish, I asked around to figure out what our options were with a local woman and some guy on vacation from Rio de Janiero who warned us about all the “stealers and killers” in the popular Brazilian metropolis.  Zolly and I were eventually led to a group of collectivos (public carpool services) where we got a car that would take us to the mountain town.  The car, although a Japanese Toyota, was probably imported from the U.K. or Australia because the dashboard was on the right-hand side with the steering wheel ripped out and sloppily reinstalled on the left-hand side.

We picked up three other passengers at a designated stop of the collectivo agency to fill up the car and make it the trip worthwhile at 25 Bs. (bolivianos) per person.  With us was a Bolivian woman, a German woman and an Englishman named John, on holiday from his job as a geography professor for the royal family of the United Arab Emrates.  The driver took us the tiring two and a half hours down the modern city highway to the two-lane mountain road, up to Samaipata at 5,250 ft. ASL.  The driver dropped Zolly, John and I off in the main plaza before driving the ladies to their nearby respective destinations.


THERE WASN’T TOO MUCH TO SAMAIPATA.  As a weekend destination, it was pretty dead on a weekday.  The weather was very hot, so Zolly and I got a couple of cold ones and had them under the shade of a tree in the plaza.  We had a quick lunch and met John back at the town square for our ride.  I, posing as translator for the other two, had asked our driver to come back for us at one o’clock to bring us to the nearby ruins.


EL FUENTE, A PRE-INCAN CEREMONIAL SITE in the mountains about 10 km. from Samaipata was where our driver took us next.  No one knows exactly why the ceremonial site was made and several theories exists — including one of extraterrestrial use.  Zolly, John and I walked around the site, seeing the ruins of what could have been the place to be before the arrival of the Incas.  Under the blazing sun, we needed to cool down for a bit, so I, again using my 100-day Spanish, had the driver take us to the nearby waterfalls.


STOPPING AT THE PACHA WATERFALLS (picture above) was a nice and refreshing way to break up the journey back to Santa Cruz.  The waterfalls had been capitalized on as a pay-to-use swimming hole.  Zolly went into for a dip in the trunks he had brought with him, alongside an American family that was trying to keep cool as well.  I just waded around in the cool water and admired the nearby mountains with Professor John.

The way back to Santa Cruz seemed a lot longer, even though it wasn’t.  The driver was only suppose to take us back to the collectivo stop, but I had him take us across town to the main plaza where our hostels were.  The driver charged us 200 Bs., total for the three of us for the return trip, including all the touristy stops along the way.  That broke down to about 67 Bs. per person, about nine dollars (US).  Considering that the driver was pretty much our personal chaffeur for the day, having waited in the car for us while we hiked and swam, having driven us to wherever we wanted, I thought that was okay — Zolly didn’t feel the same way.

“It’s too much,” he complained before I paid the man.  “It should only be about forty,” he said after doing the math in his head to calculate the gas prices, ignoring the “waiting”/“time is money” thing that I factored in.

“Sixty seven is only about five pounds,” Professor John said, also willing to pay the driver the asking price.

Zolly started to get really mad.  “I hate it when Americans and British say that,” he said.  “It’s cheap to Westerners, but it’s expensive here.  If he charges us sixty-seven today, he’ll charge seventy or eighty to the next, and the price will always go up because you just pay what they ask.”  While Zolly did have a point, in my head I was thinking, “Well, if you’re so keen on bargaining down the price, learn the language so you can do so.” — but I let it lie.

In the end, Zolly just paid the 67 Bs., still with a feeling of being ripped off.


WHILE ZOLLY COOLED DOWN in the hostel, I cooled down in an air-conditioned internet cafe to catch up with “Blog.”  When I got back, Zolly was a happy Hungarian again and we went out for dinner and beers.  Professor John was supposed to meet us at “8:30,” but we were ten minutes late and he never showed.  Zolly figured that as a teacher he was the punctual type and gave up after not seeing us.

Like Zolly, the temperature cooled down a little bit that night, although we still had to sleep with the doors wide open to let any sort of air in.  The loud Argentines from the night before had gone, and the Japanese guys didn’t play their digeridoo.  If they had started playing perhaps I would have been willing to pay for them to shut up, but then again, even I know that would have been a rip off.






Next entry: Use The Force, Gringo

Previous entry: Keeping Cool in Santa Cruz




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Comments for “Money Matters in the Mountains”

  • fIrst!!!

    blog hog is back!

    btw, what’s a digeridoo? is that like a tomagachi?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:54 PM


  • HEY GANG, I did this entry killing time, waiting for my train towards Brazil…  I will most likely be NIZ for the next couple of days, as I travel through the tropical Bolivian highlands to the Brazilian border…  It won’t be long though—I just realized I have only a couple of days on my Bolivian visa left and must get to a Brazilian city soon enough… hopefully one with internet access!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:54 PM


  • go for it erik. Party it on in Brazil

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:57 PM


  • Stealer and Killers in Rio….My kinda people….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:58 PM


  • LOVEPENNY:  A digeridoo is this long wooden tube thing that makes that twangy sound you always hear in a song by aboriginees in the Australian Outback…  Why two Japanese guys made one from parts they bought at a local hardware store, I don’t know…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:59 PM


  • LP: a digeridoo - http://www.didgeridoostore.com/soundsrhythms.html

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  02:59 PM


  • Erik: Canadians ONLY get two weeks vacation as well. I’m cheating and taking a leave from work. I’ll be destitute when I get back, but it will be tottaly woth it!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:19 PM


  • TD0T:  If only more Americans followed your Canadian lead, there’d be more extras in The Trinidad Show.

    Take another leave sometime later this year, and join the cast!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:25 PM


  • sounds like a casting call !!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:35 PM


  • manana
    manana
    manana
    manana…
    still no ma?ana!

    too much work on an ENGLISH keyboard
    :(
    manana
    manana

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:45 PM


  • IT DIDN’t even work!!! GRRR…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:46 PM


  • NIKKIJ:  Ma?ana…  ?I LOVE these Spanish keyboards!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:48 PM


  • one more stupid comment from the states: Brown was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly pushed his wife to the floor during an argument in a bedroom at the couple’s home in Beech Island, 70 miles southwest of Columbia, Aiken County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Michael

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  03:53 PM


  • I suck out as much vacation as I possibly can from my american job, alienating my family during holidays and everything.  If you will be in Greece in September or Thailand over the New Year’s can I be an extra? : )

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  04:16 PM


  • SARA:  At this point, I don’t know where I’ll be at those times—I’m not even sure where I’ll end up tomorrow!  Stay tuned to the blog as those dates get closer!

    “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.”—Indiana Jones

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  05:02 PM


  • I MEAN JAMES BROWN…
    did anyone see the picture in the news! SOOO FUNNY! sometimes my mind is thinking one thing and my fingers are typing another… sorry folks!
    N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  05:14 PM


  • ?ikkiJ: ?????????????? hahahaha….

    no spanish keyboard here….and sorry haven’t been watching the news, but thanks for the visual….

    Td0T - canadians rock, ay!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  06:58 PM


  • OK, one more current event:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4096586

    Residents of Tainan learned a lesson in whale biology after the decomposing remains of a 60-ton sperm whale exploded on a busy street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours.

    Erik, i’ll catch up w/ your blog,I promise! NO MORE CURRENT EVENTS for me smile

    manana ... shoot!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  08:57 PM


  • ?ikkiJ - did you see the pic of the whale…“ewwww”

    haha

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/29  at  02:12 PM


  • those empanadas de pollo, are they dark meat or did they change it to white like mcd’s did with their nuggets.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/29  at  09:01 PM


  • wheat - LOL…when u trying to hang out at the bar at JFK?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/29  at  10:02 PM


  • WHEAT:  Unlike either McNuggets, the empanadas had bones in them…  They really need to make McGriddles Empanadas down here…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/30  at  11:15 PM


  • UPDATE TO ALL:  Get your maps kiddies (and students of Vineland, NJ)... I’m currently writing this in Corumba, Brazil, right on the border with Bolivia, after a long, long train ride. 

    At the time of this writing, I am technically in Brazil illegally.  As one of the first—if not THE first—American to enter Brazil through the “backdoor” since the new mugshot/fingerprint requirement for entering Americans, the border patrol guy didn’t know what to do with me.  He didn’t stamp my entry visa and told me I had to report to the Federal Police in the morning to sort things out.  Hopefully things will turn out okay… I’ll try to keep out of trouble by not making a silly face for the photo.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/30  at  11:40 PM


  • ALL:  P.S.  Yes, I’m back in an Internet Zone, but with no camera hook ups.  I’ve already typed up an entry that I need to upload… will do when I can!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/30  at  11:42 PM


  • u’re wanted by the feds????

    RUN! ERIK RUN!

    btw, just make sure you don’t stick the wrong finger when they take your mugshot.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  01:30 AM


  • NCHUZ and on the run…niiice…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  01:51 AM


  • Just out of curiosity - how long does it take you, start to finish, to write one blog and hook up pictures to it?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  07:45 PM


  • Finally caught up after being a month behind!

    Erik: when are u heading to the Philippines? i wanna be an extra on the Trinidad show too! I’ll be in Cebu for the summer, let me know..

    yo markyt when r we gonna do dinner? im me and leave a message..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  09:41 PM


  • SARA:  Great question…  Not to toot my own horn, but so far I’ve realized that keeping this blog DAILY is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve done in my life.  “Blog” has personified itself into an entity that forces me to write—as you have read, some entries better than others.

    My methodology that has evolved goes like this:  I keep notes in a notepad, writing down quick notes to remind myself of what happened in a day.  I don’t write an entry until the day after—sometimes something happens at the end of a day that could change the whole angle of an entry.  On average, I spend a good hour on each entry, sometimes more.  Sometimes I write it by hand in a small notebook before typing it in an internet cafe… sometimes when I have a room to myself I just do it on my laptop and upload the files later. 

    The Blog does take up a lot of time, between taking notes, writing, typing, editing and sorting through pictures—I sometimes wonder how I have time to actually DO stuff to write about—but, as I looked over old entries and reminisced about my days of yore, I know in the end it will be all worth it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  11:42 PM


  • CRISTINA:  The Philippines doesn’t come into play until late December…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/31  at  11:47 PM


  • I figured you had it down to some system.  Well, I really like your writing style.  Keep up the great work!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/01  at  03:18 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Use The Force, Gringo

Previous entry:
Keeping Cool in Santa Cruz




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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