Well let me start, the reason why I have time to write these anecdotes down is because I have the wrong date for Antarctica! BAHAHAHA. To be fair, the initial email I have says it starts February 19. But the final trip confirmation I got while I was in Peru says February 20. So I mean, at least I was a day early and not a day late?!?!
With that said, I wanted to try to go through my pictures and thoughts in my downtime on the boat, but there is not really internet, so it’s best I start now. Anyway, it’s good to start my stories of odd events with me being a dumb ass 😊
The Tale, or Tail of Jody the Dog
At the beginning of the trip, there was a man named Jody in our group. Jody is a character, to put it mildly. He has a gold tooth, tats all over including an eye on his neck, and a man bun. But he’s funny! The first night, he told the group he can’t travel to the US or Australia (because he has a record). The 2nd night he told us that he thinks he has a kid in Thailand. He’s from England.
Needless to say, when he left us in Bolivia, we were relieved but in need of new entertainment! When we got to Sucre, we were doing a walking tour of the city, and this dog with a big spot on her back, a scab on her butt, and a smile on her doggy face walked with us for no joke, 2 hours. When we went back to the hotel, we lost her. But that night, after the Superbowl, at bar close, she was waiting for us! She barked excitedly and walked around with us. But she chased and barked aggressively at locals and motorbikes. Like our original Jody, she was a little crazy but loyal. The next day, after dinner at a different restaurant, Jody was waiting outside for us!! Again, she walked with us and stayed with us. When we went to an Irish bar for a couple of hours, she waited outside the door. RIGHT outside the door, and didn’t let anyone in! She walked us home that night and said goodbye in dramatic fashion at the door. If anyone goes to Sucre, look for our friend Jody the dog, say hi and give her some food 😊
Can you tell which one is Jody the person, and which one is Jody the dog?My South American Family
If you know me outside of me being a coach/pretending to be a role model, or my family when I try to keep it moderately classy, you know I like to flirt and mess with people. You probably know that anyway. Well being with everyone for more than a month, is no different. I need entertainment! It started with my hitting on our Peru group leader, Giscard. He was shy and a professional, so naturally he blushed and got uncomfortable when I made an inappropriate joke, which just egged me on. But once we left Peru, I found my match in my groupmate, Pedro. Pedro was Jody (in the previous story)’s roommate in Peru, so clearly he could handle my jokes and would throw it right back. We were excited to start our family, so we also found our daughter in the group, Kim. From Bolivia to Chile to Argentina, we took Christmas card pics, planned our wedding, went on our honeymoon, tried to mentor our daughter and her friends. You know, just do family things. I don’t want to steal the magic from the Christmas cards, so consider these the outtakes. I’m not doing this justice, because my creeping antics don’t necessarily need to be documented online, but hopefully you can fill in the blanks. Oh, but the best part is, on the last day, a couple people asked us if it was real. I love when I can leave something to the imagination! It’s not very often. 😉
The Irish Prophecy
Before I left, my Irish friend Niall wished me a good and fun and safe and all those things trip, but he said hoped I would get robbed. Not violently, not dramatically. Not really get hurt, just you know, live a little. What a guy 😉 On the plane from Minneapolis to Mexico, I sat next to an Irish guy who was kind enough to help me use up all my drink vouchers that were expiring in 4 days. On about our 4th gin and tonic, he said that he thought I would get robbed. Not violently, just like all my cash would get stolen. WHAT’S WITH THE IRISH? Well anyway, on the last full night in Buenos Aires, we went out to a club. It was the 3rd late night in a row, and at 6 AM I was drunk and tired and was like ugggggh I need to go. So I took a cab back to the hotel by myself. Everyone was like, no, we’re leaving soon. Just wait. But I was tired. Back in Minneapolis and Boston, I don’t’ like taking cabs by myself, especially when I’m drunk. I’ll take an Uber because there’s a sense of security, but a cab not as much. Well, I handed the cab driver a $1000 (which is roughly $50. The cab was $350, which is most it had been compared to other nights, but not that much more. But I didn’t want to rifle through my lower bills and just handed him the big one. Anyway, he gave it back to me and was like, you only gave me $5. I was drunk and tired and flustered and apologized and looked through my wallet and then was like hey, no, that was $1000?! Then he was like, are you trying to steal from me? This is all in Spanish BTW. So anyway, I just gave him the fare and avoided him calling the cops (HA!) but basically, all my cash on me was taken. So I think we can say my Irish prophecy came true?! But in defense of Buenos Aire, the next day I had to take a cab at 2 AM to the airport for my 4 AM flight, and the cab driver was SO sweet. We chatted the whole time (in Spanish). By the end, we were friends and he hugged me and told me he was proud of me for taking my trip and that he believes I’ll find love and happiness! He has a daughter my age and is divorced and has lived in Buenos Aires his whole life but reallllllly wants to go to London. So we had some legit ground to bond over. Then the next night in Ushuaia, I was staying at the top of a beautiful mountain near the glacier, so anyway, I was fine walking into town but less excited about walking home. So I took cab. On the way, the cab driver and I were chatting and his accent was a lot thicker than some others and didn’t speak English, but I understood when he asked about Trump. When I said that I don’t want to build a wall and I don’t think Latinos are hurting my country, we became friends. He took me on a tour that night and the next day, on his day off, took me to the national park! So overall, my Argentine cab experiences have been nice 😊 but also Ireland I’ve learned my lesson and won’t leave the group if I’m drunk or late at night!
It’s shocking, right, that I would get robbed an hour after this was taken? I look like I have my wits about me?! *Shakes head*Bolivian transportation
Just about a year ago, I started to look at going to Peru and Bolivia. I wanted to take a trip by myself to see if I would have fun. It sounds silly, but I knew in my heart I wanted to take this big trip but I thought, before I quit my job I should maybe see if this is something I can do? So I looked at going to Machu Picchu and Salar de Uyuni. In the end, it seemed like the logistics were complicated and especially in Bolivia, it said the Salar was remote and transport unreliable. So I went to Greece instead. I had a GREAT time. Which is now why I’m here and not in Stamford, CT 😊 But anyway, back to Bolivia. Damn, they were right about the transport. When we were taking our overnight bus from La Paz to Sucre, the bus was supposed to leave at 8 PM. That afternoon our guide said the bus called and they’re leaving at 7 PM. Ha, good times. We get there, the bus leaves at 8. Literally, within 3 blocks of the bus station, we have to go up a steep cobblestone hill which is super slippery with the flat rocks and the water. It takes us over an hour to get up this hill. Everyone is freaking out, and the driver is just like, yeah, we’ll be fine. It was just that hill… and we were fine. But, um, it was scary. Then, I mentioned this in my previous post, but going from Sucre to Uyuni, there was a strike, and our bus became standing room only and we had to walk 5 miles into town. With our suitcases. But we just beat out the rain! On the first day of the jeep convoy after Salar de Uyuni going to Chile, we had to go through some really big puddles. Like almost covering the wheels of the jeep puddles. As we were getting close to the hotel, but still about 25 km away, someone in our car goes, I think the car behind us is flashing their lights at us? Me and one other person in the car spoke Spanish so we tried to convey this. Our driver shook it off. Well a bit later, he flashed his lights at the car ahead of us and was like, do you know where the guy behind us is? We had no cell service (and wouldn’t for another 2 days), so he tried to use the CB radio, but even that didn’t have coverage. So he radioed up to the hotel and they sent a car back to try to find them. Well in the end, that car got to the hotel about 30 minutes after us. They didn’t need the rescue vehicle, but I mean, when you’re out in the pitch black with no cell coverage and it’s pouring rain, what an adventure!?! So moral of this story is thank God I didn’t try to make this trip by winging it on my own. Go with some sort of group. Have a local who knows what they’re doing and has at least a semi-vested interest in your safety 😊
The presence of angels
I was going to write about this in my “life is like a dream” post, but it took a different mindset to think of the stories and I already had a lot that I was rambling on about. To frame it up but hopefully not get too off track, I believe in guardian angels and I believe in the power and the spirit of Mother Earth and the Universe. And I am a Christian and believe in God and Jesus. This is the last vignette in this post, so if this is offensive or annoying, just stop reading 😊 But growing up Catholic, I explicitly learned you can’t believe in all 3 of these. The first commandment stops us in our tracks. I’ve been a cafeteria Catholic, so I just went with it. Sorry. But in the last year, I’ve embraced religion more, my faith and what others around me believe. In Peru and Bolivia, they love Pachamama, Mother Earth. But they’re also Catholics! This is because when the Spanish came to colonize/conquest/think of another word that doesn’t mean exploit but actually means exploit South America, they introduced Catholicism as we all know. Was it to help the indigenous or subvert them? You decided. However, there is a lot of art and tributes in Bolivia, made by Europeans, that have Pachamama and Jesus. Skipping over some key points that would be needed in a thesis, the Catholics were cool with linking them. So as a Cafeteria Catholic who now is Lutheran, I’m taking this as a sign that I’m cool to believe in Mother Earth, Jesus and guardian angels. I’ve avoided bad experiences a lot, sometimes narrowly. I’ll give those more than luck and thank one of the big 3. But the point of this, is that I’ve actually felt the presence of my mom and other loved ones. In Salta when the people were playing instruments and singing at dinner, I felt my Great Aunt Ruth and could hear her singing along with us during La Vie En Rose, when none of us knew the words and were just saying “la la la de da” to the melody. My mom and I spent every Saturday with my Aunt Ruth when I was little. Ruth’s husband Hub passed away when I was like 5. They didn’t have any kids, and Ruth was my mom’s dad’s sister. She loved to sing off key and play the piano as well as her arthritic hands could allow. As an adult, I can see that Ruth and I are kindred musical spirits in that we love it, and what we lack in talent we make up in an enthusiasm. She also liked to throw back a brandy Manhattan or 10, and would start at lunch if she felt it. I don’t think of Ruth that often, so feeling her in that moment was special. I felt my uncle Harry, who recently passed away. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, but we called him Happy Harry because he was always up for fun and celebrations. When I was by myself in Sucre for the day, while the others were on a hike, I passed one of the impromptu parades, I heard a loud boisterous laugh that reminded me of Harry. I don’t know why? I couldn’t name his laugh without prompting, but that laugh sounded like him! When I turned around, there was a dog wearing a Hawaiian shirt, dressed up for the parade. Harry loved a Hawaiian shirt. I don’t know they meaning of these encounters. I think it’s just to say hi, and you’re not alone. Either way, I liked them. I am of course reminded of my mom a lot. I think of her everyday in some way, shape or form. I usually feel my mom when there are things that are blue and white and beautiful, but I felt her at the pink lake in Bolivia, when I was surrounded by the pink flamingos. She supported my weird pink fetish, and I felt her happiness there. I feel her when I’m doing something that she would think is dangerous, like the crazy bus. Or something she wouldn’t like, like when I stumble into some left-wing protest. But I feel her in happiness and when I open up to a new friend and they support me and encourage me. I miss that I can’t talk to my mom and so when my new friend Kerrie says yeah, you should go to India! Or when I tell my new friend Barbara about some of my past struggles that my mom couldn’t support me on, I feel her. I feel my mom in meals that I think she’d like and when I snort when I laugh. One of the most recent, and delightfully unexpected was when I arrived at this bed and breakfast that I’m staying at in Ushuaia, it’s run by a French-Argentinean couple. The house is super cute. But in the kitchen, they have a little dish. It’s maybe a cheese tray? Maybe for desserts? I don’t know. It’s a little glass stand with a lid that has etched flowers in it. My mom gave the exact same one to me years ago, but the stand had broken and she had a new one, but it didn’t quite fit. I don’t think I kept it when I moved. I can’t remember. But seeing it on the counter at the B&B in Ushuaia, when I was tired and on my way to the end of the world in Antarctica was amazing.