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The Global Trip http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blog The Travels of Erik R. Trinidad en eeyartee@gmail.com Copyright 2013 2013-08-11T10:31:03+00:00 Up and Over http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/up_and_over 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.” Australia, New Zealand, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-08-11T10:31:03+00:00 Hello, Heli. http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/hello_heli PART 14 (DAYS 31-33): “Two things. Don’t shake the pilot’s seat,” instructed one of the heli-ski guides. “Don’t touch the stick.” I particularly had to pay attention — and heed caution — because I sat right between my guide Chris and the pilot with his control stick, due to me being the shortest in the group. “I’d be honored to be the shortest man here,” I told Chris. My 5’6” height advantage got me the front and center seat for the spectacular view of the North Harris Mountains, as the helicopter pilot took me, Chris, and four other skiers and snowboarders up above the snow line. New Zealand, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-08-08T03:15:01+00:00 Middle Man in Middle Earth http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/middle_man_in_middle_earth PART 13 (DAY 26-32): There are different types of tourists that travel around New Zealand. Those with a limited timeframe of two weeks or less — mostly Americans — often do a package tour to pack as much as they can with an organized schedule, even with the 13-16 hour timezone difference. Others may stay put at a luxury resort, and play golf or something. And for the past decade, director Peter Jackson’s country of birth has seen an influx of Lord of the Rings nerds, who come to experience their beloved Middle Earth. There are several companies that offer tours to film locations — some even with costumes and re-enactments by other nerds. New Zealand, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-08-06T20:44:00+00:00 Beautiful, Yet Remarkably Mediocre http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/beautiful_yet_remarkably_mediocre PART 12 (DAY 26-30): “Where should I go?” I asked the guy at the Snowbiz One Stop snow gear rental shop in Queenstown, world-renowned adventure sports hub on the South Island of New Zealand. I had rented it all: snow pants, goggles, gloves, boots, and snowboard — even a jacket. They don’t call it “One Stop” for nothing. “You should go to Remarks,” he suggested. He asked a co-worker nearby — a fellow ski bum with a job at a gear store — who confirmed that I should indeed go to the Remarkables, nearby mountain range and home to one of two local ski areas. “What about Coronet Peak?” I asked them. I’d heard that one to be the more popular skiiable mountain of the immediate area. “Coronet’s shit,” they told me. Not that it wasn’t a formidable place for snow sports, but the recent rain on that mountain had washed away all the recent powder and left over a crust of ice — shitty conditions for snowboarding. And so, I paid for my rental and lift ticket to the Remarkables for the following morning. “Cheers.” New Zealand, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-08-03T12:20:01+00:00 Race on the Brisbane River http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/race_on_the_brisbane_river PART 11 (DAY 25): “I started the African-American Community of Australia. The A.A.C.A.,” said the familiar voice of Maurice, a.k.a. Moe, an African-American ex-pat living in Brisbane. “Guess how many members are in it?” “I dunno,” I answered before making a hypothesis. “Five?” “Two,” he replied, chuckling. “And the other guy is a white guy.” Australia, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-30T23:28:58+00:00 Rabaul Adventures http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/rabaul_adventures PART 10 (DAYS 20-24): “It’s five o’clock all the time here,” I said, noticing the wall clock stuck on 5 a.m. (or was it p.m.?) in the baggage claim area of Rabaul’s airport, when we touched down from our flight from Wewak around 11:30 a.m. “It’s happy hour somewhere, and that somewhere is here!” Emily proclaimed. Papua New Guinea, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-29T07:51:01+00:00 Mask Tourism http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/mask_tourism PART 9 (DAYS 20-24): “Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to seek out tradition, not traditional tourist traps.” This was a comment that had appeared onto Tina’s Facebook page, when were back in the glory of wifi after not having had it for so long. “It’s from this guy that used to be a missionary I know,” Tina told me. “Oh, a missionary? Well, he has a lot of questions to answer too,” Ally retorted. Regardless of its source, for the travel journalist, such a statement is a little off-putting. We’re out in the world to discover new places off the beaten tourist path — or rather, discover new stories or angles of destinations already written about because, “Every place is ruined,” I told Tina. The former missionary’s disconcerting message had come in as we were having a one-to-one over SP Export beers in the bar of the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort in Rabaul, our base of operations for our third and final leg of our press trip in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-25T07:10:00+00:00 Team Go-Getter http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/team_go_getter PART 8 (DAYS 18-20): “We’re literally in the middle of nowhere,” I said when our motorized canoe paused for moment as it entered a small tributary of the Sepik River, in the middle of the jungle of northwestern Papua New Guinea. Nearby, a flying fish jumped out of the water, followed by another. “If my phone rang right now and they asked me where I was, I would say I have no idea.” “Well, we took a four-hour bus ride, then two hours on a boat, then another hour…” Ally explained. We had “gone deep,” as she put it. Papua New Guinea, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-23T05:57:01+00:00 #AnythingCanHappen http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/anythingcanhappen PART 7 (DAYS 14-17): “Things could be worse, right?” I told Ally, California-native who worked for the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (in LA), who had organized the press junket I was traveling to PNG for. “That should be the motto of PNG,” she told me. “‘Things could be worse, right?’ with a question mark at the end.” She shrugged her shoulders with a funny smirk for that last word, after a comic beat. In fact, Ally’s whole personality was full of great comic delivery; she mentioned this one time during an open mic in Venice Beach, she’d gone up and did Dave Chappelle’s stand-up routine in The Nutty Professor verbatim (“Women be shoppin’! Women be shoppin’!...) to see if anyone would notice, before abruptly segueing into a deadpan, “But seriously folks, poverty is crazy, right?” Little did we know at the time, that the first three-day part of the junket’s proposed itinerary would be canceled (due to a missed chartered flight connection to Tufi), and have to be replanned on a whim, based on whatever activities or accommodations were available in and around PNG’s gritty capital city, Port Moresby. Papua New Guinea, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-21T15:51:01+00:00 The Brisbane of My Existence http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_brisbane_of_my_existence PART 6 (DAYS 12-14): “Put your bag on the scale,” the nice Virgin Australia employee requested of me in Los Angeles International Airport. While my luggage’s width and height were within carry-on boundaries, its long depth made it look (and weigh) suspiciously heavy. “You’ll have to check it in.” U.S.A., Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-12T09:16:01+00:00 The Rodeo Within A Rodeo http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_rodeo_within_a_rodeo PART 5 (DAYS 10-11): “I can tell you’re not from around here either, because you don’t have cowboy boots,” I told the friendly stranger in line next to me, wearing sneakers. “I’m from Montreal,” he admitted. The Québécois city slicker and I, along with Leigh-Anne and hundreds of others, were lining up for burgers at the free barbecue of the Dogie Do Rodeo, at the ranch of the local Shriner’s Club on the outskirts of downtown Calgary. It was by far Leigh-Anne’s favorite part of Calgary Stampede, a sort of rodeo within a rodeo, and not just because it has an open bar for twelve hours. Canada, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-09T22:17:01+00:00 Hell or High Water http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/hell_or_high_water PART 4 (DAYS 8-11): “How’s this look?” I asked Leigh-Anne, trying on a white cowboy hat in the Lammle’s concession store in Stampede Park, grounds of the Calgary Stampede festival. When you’re at one of the world’s biggest celebrations of western heritage, the least you can do is put on full-brimmed cowboy headwear. “Uh, you look like someone who’s going to Stampede,” Leigh-Anne admitted. “Good,” I said. “That’s the look I was going for.” Canada, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-09T06:23:03+00:00 Language of the Valley http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/language_of_the_valley PART 3 (DAYS 5-8): “Wait, I haven’t nut myself yet,” I informed Leigh-Anne in the morning, in a very Arrested Development Tobias Fünke way. We were not in the sleeping quarters as you might think, but in the kitchen, where I had not yet put a spoonful of peanut butter in my bowl. Breakfast was pretty genius. It was Leigh-Anne’s idea to make a camp version of satay noodles by simply making an instant ramen noodle pack with hot water, adding in its flavor and spicy oil pack, and then adding in a spoonful of peanut butter. Not only did it taste good, but it gave us an extra boost of protein and calories in the morning, before a day of hiking. Canada, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-09T05:43:00+00:00 The Wows of Canada Day http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_wows_of_canada_day PART 2 (DAYS 4-5): “BAM!” Leigh-Anne proclaimed as we drove around a bend on the highway to reveal the Canadian Rockies, less than an hour from downtown Calgary. “This is the best part of living in Calgary. Being close to this.” “Now I know why they call it *BAN*ff!” I said. Canada, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-07-07T23:36:03+00:00 Northern Hospitality After The Floodapocalypse http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/northern_hospitality_after_the_floodapocalypse PART 1 (DAYS 1-4): “Get ready to be killed with kindness,” Leigh-Anne said as she picked up from the airport, referring to the Canadian reputation of being amongst the nicest people on earth. “And I don’t mean that southern bitchy kindness.” Canada, The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis, 2013-06-30T01:11:12+00:00 So, Where Was I? http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/so_where_was_i PROLOGUE FOR THE NEXT GLOBAL TRIP: The Global Trip travel blog has been around for ten years now(!), but it’s been quite some time since I posted a dispatch while on the road, from Berlin in the late summer of 2012. Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t been traveling. If you recall my statement about “journalistic integrity,” I’ve decided to keep this here Global Trip blog independent (for reasons explained in said statement), meaning I would not blog about a press trip. And I’ve been on a few of them since last summer, on behalf of some of the travel publications I write for, which were Instagrammed and Facebooked instead — you know, for posterity. (Obviously, I also wrote the articles after the fact.) 2013-06-24T19:27:11+00:00 Ich Bin Eine Brooklyner http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/ich_bin_eine_brooklyner PART 6 (DAYS 8-11): “Can you believe Erik is making us have another party?” Phil noted to Dani, as the three of us tidied up before company was to arrive in their Berlin flat. He was referring to the fact that, for the second time this year, I had suggested they have a social gathering — by already inviting some of their friends. (The first shindig was their going away party when they left Brooklyn a few months prior.) Dani was excited about the idea of a party — she set up the Facebook invite for it after all — for it would be their first as residents of Berlin, a sort of housewarming. Soon, the buzzer rang and rang and guests arrived. And my last night in Berlin was about to go out on a high note. Germany, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-09-03T11:24:00+00:00 Plains, Trains, and Kung-Fu Masters http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/plains_trains_and_kung_fu_masters PART 5 (DAYS 7-8): “How many coaches does the train have?” my Filipino cousin Joey asked, with the slight English accent one acquires when you’ve lived in the suburbs south of London for five years. “Eight!” answered the young English voice of his four-year-old son Adam, who I was meeting for the first time. If you’ve followed this blog for years, you might remember that the last time I was in the Philippines, Joey was not with his comic book-inspired, Anchorman-quoting siblings, for he had moved to the U.K. for a job — and a new life. Now married to a fellow Filipino engineer Niña, they lived with their son Adam — a boy that I soon learned was sort of obsessed with trains. United Kingdom, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-08-31T17:01:00+00:00 Men in Kilts http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/men_in_kilts PART 4 (DAYS 5-6): London may have hosted the international Summer Olympics just a few weeks before my visit to the U.K., but up north, in Scotland, another traditional sporting event was getting underway. I’m talking about the Highland Games, an action-packed event not to be confused with The Hunger Games or even Highlander. When it comes to Scottish sporting events, there can be only one. United Kingdom, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-08-29T19:35:00+00:00 When You’re with R. Kelly, It’s Always Friday http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/when_youre_with_r_kelly_its_always_friday PART 3 (DAY 4): “It’s a trick. They won’t honor it,” my witty friend Rachel said as I looked at the restaurant menu’s specials valid Monday through Thursday. “Because in here, it’s always Friday.” “You gotta get down on Fridays,” I said. (Coincidentally, we were both sort of obsessed with the famous accidental pop song “Friday” by Rebecca Black.) United Kingdom, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-08-28T19:25:00+00:00 The Jester in Geneva http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_jester_in_geneva PART 2 (DAYS 2-4): “See the name of the building? Les Florentines? It’s got my name on it. That’s why I got it,” Florin joked to me as we pulled into a parking spot of his condo complex in Ferney-Voltaire, the French/Swiss border town outside Geneva on the French side. It was just passed 12:30 a.m. — two hours later than we’d expected since my flight from Berlin was delayed — but we were still in good spirits. In fact, Florin, who I befriended on the W trek of Torres del Paine in Patagonia, was still the fast talking, wisecracking guy I remembered. Back then, John McClain had declared him the court jester of our trekking group, and twenty months later, nothing had changed thus far. “I’m still a clown, but I’m a lot worse now,” Florin joked. France, Switzerland, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-08-26T11:03:01+00:00 No Sleep ‘Til Berklyn http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/no_sleep_til_berklyn PART 1 (DAYS 1-2): Everything was going exactly as I’d been informed. I was following the detailed email directions from my friend Dani, who had explained in the simplest terms, how to get from Berlin’s Tegel airport, in the northwest part of the city, to her and her husband’s home in the Neukölln neighborhood in the southeast. It was an easy affair — even after being on a sleep-deprived redeye from New York via Brussels — except for the last part: the key she said she’d leave under the doormat in front of the apartment door wasn’t there. So I rang the bell, hoping someone was home. Germany, The Global Trip: Gone Europin', 2012-08-22T12:19:00+00:00 The Return of Indie http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_return_of_indie So you may have noticed that I haven’t been so active on The Global Trip blog since that trip to Uganda and Rwanda in January, other than 2012-08-19T13:24:00+00:00 Full Disclosure of an African Boomerang http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/full_disclosure_of_an_african_boomerang It’s only been two months since I’ve last been on the road—monkeying around in Uganda and Rwanda—but I’ve found myself in a situation where I’ll be going right back to Africa. More specifically, I’ll be returning back to the region I just came from, the East African Community (the official intergovernmental organization comprising of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Kenya) like a sort of human African boomerang. This time, I’ll be landing in Kenya—and hopefully without breaking anything on the way, as boomerangs sometimes do. Kenya, Kenya Press Trip (title TBD), 2012-03-16T18:36:00+00:00 Forget “Africa” http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/forget_africa DAYS 17-18: “Are you talking about Akabanga?” asked the man waiting in the queue for Business Class check-in at Kigali International Airport, next to where I was waiting for Economy. He noticed I was talking about a certain Rwandan hot sauce to Gearoid, a fellow former guest of the Hotel des Mille Collines that I had shared the complimentary airport taxi with. I was describing the size of the hot sauce’s small eye dropper bottle with my fingers. “Yeah,” I answered the man in Business Class, smiling at our apparent shared appreciation of Akabanga. “You know it?” “I have twelve [bottles],” he announced proudly. I told him I had over two dozen myself, packed in my checked luggage bound for New York via Amsterdam. Rwanda, Uganda, Netherlands, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-22T22:18:00+00:00 Securing Peace with Hot Sauce http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/securing_peace_with_hot_sauce DAY 16: “We have a problem,” said the KK Security guard with U.S. Embassy clearance displayed on the badge hanging from his neck. He called in for backup on his radio and awaited further instructions on how to handle me, a suspect with ambiguous motives, in front of the U.S. Peace Corps gates in Kigali. Just my luck, I thought. I decided I’d just be honest and play dumb American tourist because I was in fact, a tourist, an American, and totally dumb for getting into the situation in the first place. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-22T17:55:01+00:00 Remembering 1994 http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/remembering_1994 DAY 15: Ah, 1994. Ace of Base, Snoop Dogg, The Lion King, The Cranberries, Pulp Fiction, and Forrest Gump. Most, if not all of you reading this travel blog were alive in 1994, and some of you may even remember what you were doing in the April of that year. I remember being in a painting class chatting up this girl, and she mentioned, “Have you heard about what’s going on in Rwanda?” At the time, I hadn’t; I was more concerned with whether or not I might score with her (turns out she had a boyfriend), and besides, back then, Africa was sooo far away. In 1994, the only thing I knew about Africa was that “Hakuna Matata” means “no worries.” The reality was that in the tiny African nation of Rwanda, all hell had broken loose. Tensions between two formerly peace-keeping tribes — Hutus and Tutsis — boiled over into chaos on an unimaginable scale. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, the then Hutu-favored Rwandan president, had been mysteriously shot down, triggering a premeditated massacre so relentless that the numbers of the subsequent death toll constituted it as a genocide. During a period of about a hundred days, extremist Hutus slaughtered about one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people, and about another million were displaced as escaped refugees in neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the world — including the U.N. — underestimated Rwanda’s civil unrest, watched, and let it happen. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-21T03:47:00+00:00 Run DRC? http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/run_drc DAY(S 13-)14: It’s ironic that the relaxed, peaceful lake town of Gisenyi lies right on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo — not to be confused with the other country, the Republic of Congo (confusing, I know) — a nation constantly making headlines for civil unrest. In late 2011 (just a month before I’d left for this trip), national elections in DR Congo — and the unagreeable results thereof — stirred up tensions throughout the country. Concurrently, it was around that time that a UN official deemed it “the Rape Capital of the World.” Regardless of that bad press, I had an inclination to go there, not for the rape but for the passport stamp, mostly because the border was so close; it was literally walking distance away (about 20 minutes on foot from my hotel). Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-20T01:19:01+00:00 It’s Not All Black and White Along Lake Kivu http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/its_not_all_black_and_white_along_lake_kivu DAYS 11-13 (PART 2): “They’re not quite sure what to make of you,” my guide Tom had told me when were were visited by curious villagers upon arrival in Kinunu village. He had noticed during our bicycle tour on the Congo Nile Trail that in the children’s usual calls to mzungus (foreigners, specifically White ones), some would start shouting “Abazungu!” (the plural form) but switch to “Umuzungu!” (singular) when seeing me, a nationality-ambiguous-but-obviously-not-White Filipino-American — Tom was the only White guy in our trio. “I’ve been mistaken for about thirty-four nationalities so far,” I told Tom. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-18T09:07:00+00:00 Trailblazers http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/trailblazers DAYS 11-13 (PART 1): “When you see the hills, you’ll see why you have a porter and nothing on your back,” said Tom of Rwandan Adventures, my guide for a two-day bike tour down the Congo Nile Trail (CNT), from Gisenyi to the trail’s mid-way point in Kabuye. Rwanda’s nickname is the “Land of A Thousand Hills,” and when cycling up my first big one (of 1,000), I knew exactly why Tom talked me into hiring a guy to carry my stuff — especially since my body’s sitting region was still sore from just having been kicked in the balls. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-17T18:27:00+00:00 Everything’s Better in Rwanda Until Someone Kicks You in the Balls http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/everythings_better_in_rwanda_until_someone_kicks_you_in_the_balls DAY(S 10-)11: It’s seems rather odd that within the tiny landlocked African nation of Rwanda (which is only about the size of New Jersey), you could have a beach day, but it is in fact, possible to have one there on the shores of Lake Kivu. Situated on the west side of the country — forming a natural border with the DR Congo — Lake Kivu is big enough that from shore it looks as expansive as an ocean. And in the relaxed town of Gisenyi — where I based myself after gorilla trekking — the beaches and warm, year-round tropical climate is like a scene out of the Caribbean. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-16T22:19:00+00:00 Damn Dirty Apes http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/damn_dirty_apes DAY 10: “It’s a lot less scary viewing it like that,” Sarah told me as we played back the video I shot on my DSLR camera of the moment when Kirahuri, a big 300-pound silverback gorilla, advanced towards me when I was in his way. “That was a pretty tense moment.” No matter how tense, pictures or video never seem to do a moment justice — but at least it was well worth the thrill during a long morning of gorilla trekking. Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-16T07:00:01+00:00 The Football of Gahese http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_football_of_gahese DAY 9 (PART 2): Mountain gorillas (or “golillas” since Rwandans often pronounce R’s with L’s) live in the rainforest of the Virungas, which technically isn’t a mountain chain; it’s a series of single coned volcanoes near each other — and contained within the appropriately named Volcanoes National Park. The Kinigi Guesthouse, a B&B “village” of cabins and a dorm just 300 meters from the main entrance of the park, is where a handful of tourists show up each afternoon, spend the night in order to wake up early to see gorillas at 7am the next morning, and are out by around noon. I had arrived around one in the afternoon, feeling quite alone, since the previous cycle of guests had just finished — I was the first to arrive in the daily “reset.” Rwanda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-14T04:27:00+00:00 Jungle to Jungle http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/jungle_to_jungle DAY 9 (PART 1): “We are lucky he is a small man,” said the Ugandan man sitting next to me on the Jaguar bus coach to Kigali, Rwanda. While the Jaguar bus company was branded as an “executive coach” with a ripped off logo of the luxury car manufacturer, it wasn’t more than a crowded Greyhound bus in the States. In fact, to pack more people in, they had squeezed another line of chairs in the aisle, making it rows of two seats on the left, and three on the right, with not much aisle space to walk down — although that was filled with baggage at times too. I was sitting in the aisle seat of the three-seater, with the guy next to me concerned about the size of person who’d get the window, but it seemed we’d be okay for the long run. Rwanda, Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-12T22:58:00+00:00 Monkey in the Middle http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/monkey_in_the_middle DAY 8: In 1960, British researcher Jane Goodall came to Africa to study wild chimpanzees, and over the past fifty years she’s became a household name associated with the species of ape (ape = tailless monkey) — but I think most of that popularity is contributed by the overall appeal of chimps. I mean, what’s a Tarzan movie or 70’s trucker TV series without them? (R.I.P. “Cheetah”) Jane Goodall did her most of her work in northwestern Tanzania, near Lake Tanganyika and the border with Burundi, but her influence is seen everywhere chimpanzees are found, as is the case at the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda. The Jane Goodall Institute, in cooperation with Uganda’s National Forestry Authority and the Budongo Ecotourism Development Programme*, have established a chimpanzee tracking center, where official trained chimp trackers bring chimp-loving tourists on treks to see the famed monkeys out in the wild. (*Disney’s Animal Kingdom sponsored all the information panels at the center, plus a woman was wearing a Disney Conservation Fund t-shirt, so perhaps Mickey Mouse has a hand in it as well.) Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-12T18:10:01+00:00 Alice in Gandaland http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/alice_in_gandaland DAY 7: “I’m jealous of your first safari,” Maggie admitted to Alice. Alice, the lawyer from London, had been to Africa before (Khartoum, Sudan of all places) but not once on a safari and didn’t really know what to expect. “Yeah, it usually takes like two hours to see anything,” I told her. (Most of the safaris that you see on television shows edit out the hours of inactivity.) In less than fifteen minutes after breakfast that morning, we were on a game drive through the African savannah, spotting our first animal — a warthog. “Pumba!” cried Maggie. She loved how warthogs mostly walked with their tails standing straight up.   Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-12T14:31:00+00:00 Rhinobama http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/rhinobama DAY 6: “What trip are you booking?” I asked the eastern Asian face at the tours office of the hostel in Kampala. She had been calculating Ugandan schilling exchange rates in the cost of an upcoming trip. “Murchinson,” she replied succinctly. “I’ll see you there then,” I said. I had previously booked the same 3-day safari tour before my rafting excursion near Jinja (rhymes with ninja). She extended her hand. “Maggie.” “Erik.” By the end of the first day of the tour I’d discover she was not exactly a succinct person at all — in fact, quite the opposite. Oh, that and the fact that she’d go missing in the African jungle. Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-08T22:47:01+00:00 A Gentleman’s Game http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/a_gentlemans_game DAY 5: “Do you want to play golf?” Alex asked me in his northern Italian accent, looking a little bit like actor Bradley Cooper from certain angles. After rafting the previous night, we had asked the guides where best place to see the lake is — Lake Victoria that is, the source of the Nile River — back near the town center of Jinja (rhymes with “ninja”). One suggested either the bar at the fancy hotel, the official Source Of The Nile site where explorer John Hanning Speke “discovered” it in 1862, or — because those choices might be boring with not much to do there — at the Jinja Club, the local golf course right on the lake shore. Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-08T11:39:00+00:00 Wild On The Nile http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/wild_on_the_nile DAY(S 3-)4: “Are you ready to go rafting?” asked Alex, the Italian guy sitting next to me in the hostel lobby at 6:45 am. We had both signed up for a rafting trip with adventure outfitter Adrift, based out of the town of Jinja on the Nile River, about 54 miles from Kampala. Near him were Paul and JD, two Americans I met the day before (Day 3, when I didn’t do much but stay at the hostel to knock out a freelance project and write about my encounter with an African king; I did see two vervet monkeys though). They were from Minnesota, but on vacation from their volunteer work in southern Tanzania. “Well I’m still jet lagged from the flight from New York,” I told them. “I went to bed at three last night.” “So it’ll be pure adrenaline then,” Paul said. (He reminded me a little of Sebastian [Morocco].) Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-03T08:44:00+00:00 The King and I http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_king_and_i NOTE: It should be known that I (like some of my friends) know most, if not all, of the lines from 1988’s Coming to America (starring Eddie Murphy) by heart. DAY 2 (NEW YEAR’S): “Move! Move!” yelled the Ugandan man to me. He was motioning me to shift to the side of the road — and he wasn’t the only one. Huh? What’s going on? I wondered. I was in the middle of the road that led up to Lubiri Palace, royal headquarters of the Kingom of Buganda (Uganda’s “largest and most recognized” tribe with a population of 9 million and counting), trying to get a symmetrical shot from the center. “Move!” I moved to the side and saw what the commotion was: police cars and military vehicles were escorting a white SUV — one with a hand waving out the window. Oh crap, he’s here already, I realized as I had arrived to the palace grounds fashionably late. The royal motorcade. (Cue Coming to America motorcade theme now.) His Majesty King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, 36th King of Buganda, had arrived at the palace for the New Year’s party, fashionably late as well — at 3:45 pm in the afternoon. (The 12-hour celebration had started at 3 pm.) He was coming from his private home outside the city, where he opted to reside. Uganda, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2012-01-01T01:48:01+00:00 Scumbags in Transit http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/scumbags_in_transit DAY 1: “Trinidad?” asked the KLM agent reading my passport at JFK’s Terminal 4. She had a coffee complexion and her name tag read “Donna Marie M.” “Yeah,” I replied. I’d heard this interest before; she was either Trinidadian or… “Are you related to the boxer?” “No,” I said, smirking. “I wish I was.” “So you could get some of that money, huh?” She continued with the mildly flirtatious small talk as she checked me in for my three flights: JFK to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kigali (Rwanda), which would refuel and continue to my final destination of Entebbe, the main airport about an hour out of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. U.S.A., Rwanda, Uganda, Netherlands, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2011-12-31T14:29:01+00:00 Getting Ready for the African Rainforest http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/getting_ready_for_the_african_rainforest PROLOGUE: “This is going to sound like I’ve fallen for an Internet scam,” I told Nieve, the friendly branch banker at a Capital One Bank in Brooklyn, NY.  “But I actually need to wire money to Africa.” She began the money wire process, but not without some casual questions — none of which were about a Nigerian businessman looking for someone to receive his frozen monetary assets. “Are you buying goods there?” she asked me. “No, I’m going on a gorilla safari,” I told her. “But you need to pay the government first to get a permit.” Africa, The Global Trip: Monkeying Around, 2011-12-13T06:03:02+00:00 Observing America http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/observing_america PART 16 (DAYS 18-19):  America, the beautiful.  It’s more than just a patriotic song; after all that Cheryl and I had seen during our cross country road trip in just a little over two weeks — which is still just a fraction of what the USA has to offer — I totally got it.  Confirmed: bureaucratic and commercial matters aside, this country is indeed beautiful — the spacious skies, the amber waves of grain, the purple mountain majesties above fruited plains — from sea to shining sea.  Also, the red rock deserts that the song pays no attention to are pretty beautiful too. It was perfectly fitting that we ended our self-discovery of American patriotism on the Fourth of July — the day Americans observe the anniversary of their independence — although it wasn’t exactly coincidental because we had planned it that way.  The patriotism wasn’t planned though; we did in fact feel a little bit more connected to the country we call home, despite the occasional complaints that every American intrinsically has about living here.  Perhaps it was contrived that we filled our day with American customs, but it’s not like I haven’t aimed to do as the locals do in the foreign countries I’ve traveled to. U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-20T16:45:00+00:00 Manifest Destiny http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/manifest_destiny PART 15 (DAY 17):  “It’s the Pacific.  We made it,” I declared that morning, as the sun rose in the east to reveal the ocean before me in the west.  “It’s Manifest Destiny.” With that said, I put my feet in the water to bring closure in going “from sea to shining sea,” ever since I set foot in the Atlantic over two weeks prior.  (It was cold.) U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-19T00:03:00+00:00 Old Faces, New Places, Old Places, New Faces http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/old_faces_new_places_old_places_new_faces PART 14 (DAY 16):  “What’s your name?” asked the young new face of the mysterious little girl in front of me in the Flagstaff KOA.  At 5:45 am, the kampground was already illuminated by the dawn’s early light, but it seemed we were the only two awake.  She had come up to me so randomly — wearing no shoes — that it was a little surreal, and I wasn’t sure if I was awake and trying to work on my laptop, or still in the tent, having a weird dream. “Erik,” I answered. “What’s your name?” “Sissy,” replied.  “But my mom and dad call my ‘Frybutt.’” “Where is your mom and dad?” “They’re still sleeping.  And Todd.  He’s my brother,” she answered.  “Can I sit down?” U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-17T00:10:00+00:00 Gettin’ Down A Big Hole On Friday http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/gettin_down_a_big_hole_on_friday PART 13 (DAY 15):  “Wow!  Look at that big hole!” said this little blonde American kid who was probably only about four years old, all wide-eyed and bursting with curiosity.  “That hole is the reason we’re here,” his parent/guardian said nicely.  “That’s the Grand Canyon.” U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-14T00:17:00+00:00 Navigating Navajo Nation http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/navigating_navajo_nation PART 12 (DAY 14):  “We’re gonna die!!!” cried a little boy in blue, running out of the Devil’s Garden Trail in the northern area of Arches National Park.  Little Boy Blue was literally crying — and figuratively shitting a brick — as the Devil summoned large raindrops, lightning bolts so crazy they formed electrical tributaries in the sky, and a powerful wind that created a sandstorm in our faces as we ran out to escape the narrow canyon.  “I don’t want to die!” he yelled as he clenched onto his father for dear life. (Perhaps it was fitting that mere minutes before this sudden storm, he had approached Cheryl to warn her, “Don’t go too far.  There’s a big storm coming.”) U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-08T02:07:02+00:00 Raiders Of The Lost Arch http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/raiders_of_the_lost_arch PART 11 (DAY 13):  Perhaps the most popular thing Utah is known for (other than Mormons) is its different desert landscapes within its borders.  In the southwest are the moonscapes of Capital Reef and Zion National Parks, along with the awe-inspiring Bryce Canyon.  In the center lies the sand dunes of “Little Sahara.”  In the northwest, there’s the bright white salt flats of Bonneville.  Cheryl and I had already individually seen similar salt falts in Bolivia, and so we set our sights towards the southeastern part of the state, to the famed arched rock formations of Arches National Park.  It’s where the most photographed arch of Utah lies, known as Delicate Arch, which is a rock formation so iconic that it’s on Utah’s license plates. U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-06T23:17:00+00:00 The iPhone App of Mormon http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/the_iphone_app_of_mormon PART 10 (DAY 12):  The bells of a holy church rang within earshot of the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, just as Cheryl and I had settled our things into a room there.  “It’s Mormon time!” I announced.  And so, the two of us went out to explore Temple Square, the epicenter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. “The Mormons,” although some sects of Mormons are not a part of this main sect), just across the street. U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-05T03:16:00+00:00 A Dinosaur In The Tetons http://www.theglobaltrip.com/tgt_v3/blogs/entries/a_dinosaur_in_the_tetons PART 9 (DAY 11):  “So you just want to climb?” asked Jim, the veteran rock climbing guide that Cheryl and I had hired to take us up a natural wall in the Teton mountain range.  “Yeah, I just want to get out there,” Cheryl answered.  My fellow road tripper was actually one of the friends that originally got me into rock climbing — even before my Big Trip — and this was to actually be our first time together climbing outside, minus an ice climbing trip we did a while back.  “I haven’t really climbed in two years, so I’m a bit rusty,” she admitted.  Back in the day, she could have led the climb herself and spared us the combined $350 Exum Guides fee (most of that going to insurance I assumed), but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re climbing in the region of “America’s Matterhorn.”  U.S.A., The Global Trip: From Sea to Shining Sea, 2011-07-03T04:54:01+00:00