Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas on the Islands

Well. It's been a fairly nice holiday season! For me yet again, I've been fortunate to have been invited by my gal's family to spend Christmas weekend with them on the ever-festive and smiley Saltspring Island. If you ever come to the coast of BC, seeing the gulf islands can be one of the highlights even for someone who's lived here forever like me. This is a region where breaching orcas, perching bald eagles, secluded bays and handmade crystal necklaces can all be found within a few hundred meters of each-other. You might even spot an eagle with a handmade crystal necklace on! Truthfully, the islands are a special place and there are many islands grouped closely together each with it's own wizards and vibe. Sadly though, all are filling up fast with people and cars and changing fast so pack up your guitar and head over for it may not be long before the strip malls and tech outlets descend to take over from the small hippytown charm.
Sent from my "contract free" BlackBerry® smartphone on the WIND network.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Been Just here

Logans' run
I haven't been up to the things that I'd like to lately.  Days come and days go and time seems to move by pretty quickly relative to everything else.  I've been obsessing about the future lately.  Not my petty future, but the big picture future of the planet and everything else for that matter.  The big questions still abound like, "Are there ever going to be hovercars and jetpacks?" and "Is it all leading somewhere and is that somewhere new and gleamy or is it like evolution in reverse and will we just climb back into the sea and become algae again?"  A friendly blogger friend of mine recommended a website to me awhile back and, like a lot of web stuff, I just copied it somewhere and filed it away for a time when I'd have more time to check it out.  Usually it takes me a fair amount of time to get around to finding that info again but I finally did and it's kind of a cool thing, but more topically - a true futuristic invention.  It's called StereoMood and when you go there you basically stream all this music that has been organized accordioning to mood.  What this means is that you can just dial-in your emotional state instead of the other way around.  It's kinda handy if you like your current emotional state and don't want to listen to music that may change it.  Now all they need is some computer device to tap into our brainwaves and find out how you really feel not how you think you feel.  That and then adjust some colored lights and stuff that goes with the music and then you'll be into some actual Logan's Run type of futuristic stuff.  Oh wait, Logan's world totally sucked and he was trying to escape.  Maybe it's more like Star Trek.  I'm thinking of a living room that when you walk into it immediately starts to play music and pulse lights that reflect your mood!  Anyway the website has been handy a total of 2 times over the last six months which for a website is pretty good in my books.  I'll probably come back to this one regularly.  Just don't tell me to go to carousel.  I know how that one ends and I'm way past 30.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Pet

on good days Lloyd will hug you

We now have a cat on premises.  He's been here for about 7 months now actually, but I haven't shown any pictures of him.  His name's Lloyd and he's a friend of the family who suddenly had no place to go due to an untimely change of residency by his owner.  No matter - we took him in and although at 14 years of age he's pretty long in the tooth to be moving from place to place he's still got a lot of youthful energy for an old coot.  He chases stuff and likes to attack legs and hands at a moments notice and even draw blood if need be.  Mainly though he sleeps the days and nights away when he's not doing the eating or attacking thing. It's mainly good to have a nice omen of good luck around.  I hear that in many countries and in many cultures cats are considered a sign of good luck and prosperity, which is surprising since he seems to cost upwards of 50 bucks a month in food and cat sand.  The latter of which there is nothing "good luck" about.  I'm guessing ancient Egyptians and Japanese people had no sense of smell. 
Lloyd at rest
Nevertheless I'm planning on getting most of my investment back once I hit the casinos with this guy.  Lloyd in all seriousness is very sweet and friendly most of the time.  He likes pats and scratches even more and will sometimes keep your feet warm at the foot of the bed.  It's always nice to stare at the gently heaving belly of a curled-up cat on cold mornings or when you are totally stressed out.  Other than that though, he's been a big inspiration to me - mainly to get off my feet and on my ass and do some heavy napping with chow breaks in between.  Now i know why shut-in's always collect cats - it's a birds of a feather kind of thing. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just sitting around...

Basically - yeah.  I'm just sitting around.  The last few weeks have been pretty blah and the weeks before that weren't anything to get too excited about either.  Looking ahead looks pretty unexciting as well, but I am planning a trip early next year to tropical climes so I don't really have the right to complain too much.  I seem to be spending quite a bit of my free time on the "web" lately which is not abnormal, but it has gotten me to thinking - "What's with all the time spent on the web?"  What for?  What's it all leading up to?  I guess on one level it's basically a new kind of TV especially because we don't have one.  I guess when surroundings like this pic are all you have, the internet starts to look pretty interesting.  But it's also keeping me from doing fun and productive things, non-internetish things, so I think I should try and limit myself.  Things are also getting kind of Christmasy around here.  Some people in one of the apartments across (it might even be one of the ones in the picture) have already got a tree up!  Didn't these peoples mothers teach them that things are all the more enjoyed when the tension of waiting builds a little bit?  Christmas is fun, but I start to feel pretty grinchy when people get all crazy and overanxious.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Up to the BC interior to visit family

My family live in the BC interior as many of you know and it's beautiful up there most of the time and super beautiful in the summer and even the late summer so I was pretty happy to be able to drive up there and visit a few days with my father.  As usual, not much happened which was pretty much what I wanted to happen.  We sat around and talked, caught up, and went for a really nice day hike up a mountain biking trail.  Mostly I hibernated in my fathers small house and ate dried fruit and drank wine at night.  It was a nice time to be in his little town of 300 or so people as most of the tourist rush had passed and people seemed to be slowly returning to a kind of mellower way of life.  I bought a sandwich and a small pizza at a new pizza place that opened up down the road.  Those were key events.  These shots are from the day hike we went on. 

There is an abandoned mine concentrator on this trail above town as well as the remnants of an old mining camp.  The hills around here are full of discarded mining equipment both old and newer stuff left behind by hopefuls and a few lucky strikes.  Apparently the man who owned this giant affair and lived above it in a mansion was ruined by the time the mill closed; his fortunes squandered.  This camp was surprisingly developed.  It had piped water and many amenities like butchers and barbers and the like...

this trail is really nice.  It hugs the shady side of the river valley it runs along and has some nice biking spots including a tram to cross a river.

Here's where the river pours and blasts through some narrow rocks.  Well I didn't see much wildlife until I embarked on the long drive home.  Right on the side of the road I saw mountain goats, and then later a moose and finally nearing Vancouver, a bear.  It was almost ridiculous to see so many animals wandering around all at once, beer commercial ridiculous, but it's good to see the big creatures up and about even if you have to blast by them going at a hundred kilometers an hour and they always kind of have this slackjawed dumbfounded expression on - except the beaver that me and my gal saw once.  That guy was pissed off.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Post Shmoo Post

Well, actually, it's now pretty much the end of summer climes here!  There is a distinct cold "tang" in the air now that we are into Sept.  I am thinking of heading up and over the mountains into the interior of BC for a pre-fall visit to my hometown and some "facetime" (real facetime that is, not iphone facetime) with my one and only father.  It's been more than a year since I was back there so I'm excited to get back into the swing of things and in many ways going in the late summer is good as most people will be gone back to wherever they came from and only the permanent residents will remain feasting on their harvests and figuring out how they are going to get wood in for the winter. ---- a....and I've returned!  Well kind of. I'm back in busyness here in Vancouver after hanging out with my father in the country.  He seems well and content and he is as spry as ever.  I keep wondering if someday he'll get old but he was quick to jump off on a day hike in the woods with me even though he was bagged from a hike the day before.  I was feeling kind of tired when we'd climbed a little, about half - way through, when he spotted a nice place to try and scramble up further onto some slope and up he went.  So I was pretty impressed to say the least.  I'll post some pictures later.  In the meantime another food pic here.  My gal and I made some bean tacos the other night and she stuffed and fried up these flor de calabaza or zuchini flowers!  Woah.  They were quite tasty especially when stuffed into a taco!  Some icy coconut water on the side makes a nice late summer snack!  Well, that is all for now as I'm back home I really cant say much more, but the job is plodding along and I can feel October looming. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Swimming Summmer

Well it's the middle or maybe even the middling-end of summer and we are in it.  So far it's been good.  We've been spending most of our time in town and about the town and working in town.  Sometimes on the weekends, we go on a "jaunt" to a local hiking spot or swimming spot.  I've been swimming in a couple of small lakes and in the ocean.  The ocean is my favorite.  Some don't like swimming in the ocean because of the salt and the sharp, barnically things that slice-up your feet etc. but I like it.  Around here even though you don't get the pounding surf and roaring intensity that you do in other parts of the worlds oceans but at it's best the ocean around Vancouver can get warm enough to endure for long periods of swimming in the summer.  Fear of swimming seems to be common.  It is one of those things that some people seem to have an innate fear of water and what could be underneath it.  Somehow, lakes seem creepier to me.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's the deadness of them and the stillness of them.  It just seems more like something's lurking down there, something forgotten and nasty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5x4 garden plot

We're pretty excited as it seems that we're actually able to grow a few things here in the middle of downtown Vancouver. I mentioned a few posts ago that we were trying our hand at urban gardening - well we've already begun to reap the harvests! Small harvests mind you, but, there ain't nothing wrong with free veggies no matter how few in my eyes. So far we've got some pretty healthy looking kales and a coupla fairly healthy zuchini plants. The growth and success of the latter being especially surprising. We are already munching on the kale and have some nice zuchinis in our fridge. Some of our kales got attacked by root eating maggots which was kind of gross and a bit disappointing but it did free up some space for some tomato plants so we shall see. So far we've just put seedlings and seed in the ground, watered it and boom! Up came these veggies.  We did buy some pretty decent compost for the garden and we used some fairly wormy compost from the compost bins to add growiness to the soil.
As you can see the chard is doing pretty good and our zucchinis are already quite mature.  I'm actually afraid they are going to outgrow the box and start encroaching on our neighbours plots.  Aphids are abounding on most of our stuff but we've been killing them manually so far.  These photos don't really do the garden justice, but if you could've seen this area as the empty gravel lot it was before the community garden moved in, you'd realize the transformation.  So far it's a lot of fun. Maybe I finally had to come to the city to be a country farmer type, but let's not get too carried away.

Monday, June 07, 2010


I seem to be getting sick about half the time these days and the other times in-between bouts of recovery so that everything seems to be merging into one long sickness.  I'm not sure who to blame it on.  Most likely, is it my general lackluster attention to personal health and water-drinking etc. But could it also be the weather or something in the environment around me?  I'm exposed to a lot of disease at my workplace.  Contrary to intuition, health food stores are a great place to get sick.  Mainly this is because there are lots of people in an enclosed space, but I think there are some other, more unsavory aspects of the atmosphere in health food stores that also contribute.  Most stores are dusty and mine is no exception.  Dust can trap bacteria and mold irritates the throat and sinuses making them vulnerable as well.  Refrigerators are cold and shock the immune system.  A busy store can be a stressful place and stress as we all know is a big factor in sickness.  Here's where I may get into trouble but I'm going to say it.  Vegetarians and counter-culture artisto-types  are also hotbeds of bacteria and viruses.  It takes one to know one, but I can personally attest that Vegetarians often need to supplement their diets with foods that "beef-up" the bodies resistance that aren't beef itself.  Not all vegetrons pay attention to this and this is where you get the pale waif effect so often seen.  That's when the diseases pounce.  I've lived in basement hovels with several roomies before and while it's usually a groovy good time, not every one pays the same attention to personal hygiene and with lots of people coming and going and slopping the cutting-board with onion and garlic finger juices so do their diseases.  To add to this Vancouver has had a fairly cold and drippy May and early June so far.  Cold and drippy outside - cold and drippy inside.  Anyway, despite all this, not everyone is as sick as I am so it's also got to be about something I'm doing or not doing.  I'm sick of being sick and making others around me sick as well.  It's time I took my fingers out of my mouth, sanitize the keyboard, hit the treadmill and exorcise this demon of disease from my lifestyle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just twidding the look

Just twiddling the look right now and trying to finalize my move from my hosted site and the new Blogger hosted site. Hopefully I'll be able to get the hang of it. Bare with me readers! ... actually.  I think I just figured it out.  Now my blog is entirely hosted with or Blogspot or whatever, but it will link through from for now.  If anyone has ever been to chinatown and if you've ever had the need for cheap crockery in your kitchen you've probably bought a few of these omnipresent "fish bowls" at one of the finer chinatown shops.  Chinatown has changed over the years and I daresay, it's gotten better.  They have better stuff anyway.  Better shops and more selection.  This has probably co-incided with the rise of China as the next great "trading nation".  It's still all curios and trinkets, but better curios and trinkets!  Heres to new looks and new stuff.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Well. Summer is almost here and since we've gotten back ito the city we discovered that the waiting list for a community garden moved up and now we have a plot. It's pretty small, but there should be enough space to get some veggies going. The plot is right on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in Vancouver, so it's kind of weird to be gardening in the roar of traffic, but when the plants get high in the summer it really transforms the corner- birds chirp, bees buzz by, some people just stroll through to check out whats going on. We probably won't care too much about the traffic when we're munching on fresh greens! So far we've been experimenting with a few kales we bought. Plugged em in there and returned a few days later to find a bunch of the plants dug up and animal fur tufts around. Not a perfect start, but that's the way with gardening I guess. We're pretty much learning as we go so we'll see how successful we are this time around. We grew some really enthusiastic cherry tomato plants in our living room last year but they never produced a great bounty of tomatoes and they were kinda smallish. Finally the plants began to bristle with aphids and we ended up throwing them out in disgust! Thanks nature! Well anyway, this time we are back and this time we have bigger plans. We are planning to harvest the very power of the sun and the earth itself and use it to make us some vegetables.
We've been eating quite a bit of veggies recently. After 3 months of high meat and starch content meals it's nice to eat on the greener side.

On another note we've got a great new cat Lloyd who just moved into our place. He had no where else to go so we took him in. We had another cat here before, Steve, but he went back to his owner so it's nice to have another hanging around. Which is pretty much all he does. So far he seems to be settling in fairly nicely, but since he previously an outdoor cat, the indoor life is proving to be challenging. Especially when he's only got a few hundred feet to wander around in. I think we'll be needing to buy a cat-tree soon! He's become a bit neurotic and has taken to attacking legs and feet at all hours and tearing around the place even though we've invested in a catnip-infused scratcher, various fake mice, and make string-fluff chaser things but maybe that's just the way it is with cats.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Well we are back in the swing

Well we are finally back in town and doing our thing, and by thing I mean chiefly, working and getting re-settled in our place. The work part is pretty simple but the settling is proving to be a little more challenging. Vancouver is quite different from pretty much all the places we visited, there was an initial adjustment period. What is mostly noticeable coming back to a place like Canada from pretty much anywhere else in the world is how efficient and well-run the country is. There are a lot of resources here per-person and you can feel it in everything you do. You can see why many people in other parts of the world are envious of Canadians and would love to come and check out some of the "goods and services" we enjoy here. Anyway, in the interests of interestingness, I'll continue to blog more photos of our trip just so that readers can get a little bit better idea of some of the places we went to and the things we did. Here's a pic of me hanging out with a little monkey named "Nyo-Nyo" which I thought meant "Nerd" in spanish, but he was anything but nerdy. I guess he was pretty domesticated as he had no problem climbing up onto my neck and making himself at home. I had no ideas that monkeys were capable of being so affectionate. Usually they appear kind of intense and hostile to me, but this guy was a real buddies forever kind of guy.

So basically what's going on here is that at the end of our trip we went to the bustling city of Santa Cruz Bolivia but only for a night. Santa Cruz is Bolivia's largest city and it's big and a bit hot and crazy, and we found it pretty comfortable for our last few nights. This toucan is the mascot for the hostel that we stayed at. He was quite friendly and would nibble on your hand and jump around curiously looking at you.

We visited this area in Bolivia towards the end of our trip that was fairly interesting and quite beautiful called Samaipata. It was a small town up in the mountains surrounded by spectacular natural scenery and countryside not to mention some cryptic ruins of international note. The main square down the mountains and in the jungly plateau of big city Santa Cruz is quite nice as you can see. There are dudes in white suits who walk around with roll-carts full of ice cream and other strolling treats. The square is immensely popular every night. People seem to always milling about taking in the air or socializing on hot nights. This old red rock is some kind of geographic highlight near to the area of Samaipata where tourist sometimes go to and do outdoor stuff. It's beautiful around here and while our guide book was touting and tempting us hither. We had a plane to catch. Next time - as they say.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
Hello readers! Well. We are safely and soundly back in Vancouver and not enjoying the cold cold weather and wet and drizzly air and being somewhat partially placated by the better quality espresso and rapid-transit system. Needless to say, I already have a cold and a very sore throat and the first two days back at my jobber were a bit sluggish, but that's to be expected. Whoo-Hoo! well. I'm back in town and now I've got to do those things that you do when you come back from trips etc. Like try and figure out how I can go on another trip sooner than I last did. But anyway, I'm pretty sure people don't want to hear rambling drivel about my inner plans. I just thought I'd update you on the fact that I'm back in Canada and back in Business and you can keep tuning to this web-address from time to time to see more pics and opinions about pics and things that I think about when looking at my pics and other stuff too. So check here from time to time!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Amazonas and SAnta Cruz

I´ve got little time to post and this connection is too slow for photos, but I´ll just say that we descended down down down into the very hot and steamy jungles and arrived in Santa Cruz Bolivia tired but thrilled at having ridden the bus yet again down from Andean heights into the Amazon basin and then a little bit above it. Santa Cruz is very hot nonetheless and a fairly handsome and laid-back kind of place. This is definitely the most prosperous Bolivian city we´ve been to. There are people of many cultural backgrounds here and the wealth of the bolivian oil and agro industries is readily noticible. Hipsters and middle class families ply the streets in fashonable clothing and SUVs along with the rest of the riff-raff. Despite it´s wealth and sprawling nature, the city of Santa Cruz´s nice spots are fairly navagable on foot. We are now up in the highlands if you can believe it as we have returned up here to the jungly rainforests for one last gasp at the Andes! ...and then it's home to work and other stuff. Neither of us are really ready to leave this part of the world, but we have so much we have to do back home and more importantly, we are pretty much out of money and while I relish the thought of being here longer, it's pretty hard to keep up the fun times and travel on Bolivian wages assuming we could even get gigs down here. It's always best to end on a good note, so back into the arms (or rather, the arms of our friends)of Vancouver we go! To those in Vancouver - see you soon!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cochabambina Shmochacambina

We are holed up in the very Balmy and comfy city of Cochabamba almost smack-dab in the centre of Bolivia. The bus ride here was a bit crazy, but we made it in two pieces and with our luggage. We took an unconventional route here and as most of the more comfortable busses go at night it meant we had to change busses in Orouro at around 3 in the morning. I guess the spaced-out driver of the bus and his swamper/helper didn´t realize we were jumping off in the middle of the night as the bus was due to go through to La Paz. As we noticed that we were leaving town, I decided to knock on the driver´s cab door. The situation in the cab area of this bus was not conventional and the 4 dudes engaged in heated talk (drink?) were not happy about having to talk to me much less alter their trajectories. We ended up (after some harsh words and 3AM sleepy eyed searching in the luggage compartment for our bags) getting dropped off in a rather deserted industrial zone near the outskirts of the city, which in any town, and especially in South America, is not the nicest place to be walking with all your stuff. Luckily cabs are fairly common in most Bolivian cities and one came by quicky enough that we didn´t have to get that weird, scared, menacing spidey-sense feeling you often get when you´re walking though a totally obviously impoverished and dangerous place and totally obviously not belonging there and totally obviously wishing you weren´t there.

Anyway, Cochabamba is a bustling little city that sprawls along the floor of a warm and productive little valley surrounded by dryish and rocky mountains. On the next bus in the morning as the sun came up we were treated to some spectacular views! In terms of climate, it feels a little like parts of Mexico here. So far I´ve found Bolivian cities to be very busy with people. To compare, every night in these citys looks like a festival weekend in Vancouver to me. On warm nights the plazas and streets fill with young and old alike.

Children kick balls, teens make-out and sometimes there´s a performance or a politician is gladhanding for mayorship, but most people just seem to be out for some socializing and people-watching. We´re treating ourselves to a rather nice room with non-electric hot water nozzles and Cable TV as it´s in a very good location and we were desperado for someplace quick to sleep after the big Red-Eye the night before.

Have I mentioned yet that it´s nice to be someplace tropical and warm? Well, the world flocks to such places for many reasons not the least of which is the scent of Jasmine blossoms and possibly new and exotic foods. Bolivia is all bout the meat when it comes to stuffing your maw. I wolfed down this dish just before jumping on the bus and faught it all the way from Sucre to Cochabamba. It´s called Pica Lo Macho and it´s basically a version of Poutine but instead of cheese curd on top it´s 3 meats, yes, 3 meats (chicken, beef, sausage), veggies, egg and hot peppers! Yee Haw! Not for the weak - stomached.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sucre to Tarabuco

We finally got a chance to sample some of these giant bean pod things that we have been seeing people snacking on from the heights of Quito to the Coasts of Peru to the streets of Sucre. Once inside there are giant beans that you don´t eat, but if you suck off the sort of fluffy pulpy stuff surrounding them you get a mouthful of pulpy and rather sweet stuff. Then you ditch the bean. Not bad if you´re looking for something nice and sweet to stave off the hunger for something more exotic. The seats on the busses in Equador were littered with the pod casings and seeds. This other package has some kind of unkown to us corn kernals that are cooked until they puff-up like Popcorn, but they don´t explode completely. It´s delish and as good if not better than popcorn, but more compact and it doesn´t go stale right away. Puffed things seem to be all the rage in Bolivia. Actually throughout the Andes you can get popcorn almost everywhere and other puffed snacks. Markets in Bolivia frequently have a place that sells giant giant bags of puffed stuff. Some of it is a mystery. Mostly it´s puffed wheat, barley, quinoa, and other assorted grains that you can puff. Some of it is sweetened. It´s puffin awesome and ridiculous. Watermelon is, of course, everywhere and ready for the eating.

Have I mentioned that Burros are awesome? We all know that, but sometimes we forget and I have to put up another burro picture here to remind myself and others of their undaunting usefulness and their crazy big heads and their timeless sad-sack expressions. They are cheaper and mellower than horses, they eat spiney stuff and you can ride them! We ran into these burros along with their mentally troubled owner on the streets of Tarabuco which is just outside of Sucre. Tarabuco is a great place to shop for Bolivian souvenirs and other hand and factory-made stuff not from Bolivia but from other places.

At one point we found a hand-made bag with ¨ecuador¨ printed on it, but the town is also small and pretty and temperate surrounded by dry hills with little farms. It felt almost Californian without the Californians. This old colonial building caught my eye. There were many old one´s decaying in the heat.

All in all it was a rather unremarkable town with a rather large Sunday market aimed at both locals and Tourists alike. Unlike Sucre things seemed a little bit more ¨desperado¨ here. Many people would come up and shove stuff in your face for sales and were a little pushy, but there was some really beautiful authentic stuff as well and for the ammounts of work put into these quality hand-made textiles, we had to walk away with a few things. BUT...

...It´s worth mentioning this giant and very graphic statue in the central plaza of an Incan warrior standing victorious above what looks like a conquistador soldier. He is holding aloft a blood-filled horn with one hand and in the other he holds the man´s heart freshly ripped from his chest! there are rivulets of blood rolling down from his mouth and he has this intense expression on his face. It was a pretty grizly scene, but I guess some moments can´t be captured with a stoic figure with a big mustache on a horse or what-have-you. heheh...

Friday, March 12, 2010

There are some other photos around here somewhere... hmmm. Just let me look in this shoebox. Aha! There they are. I´ll just shoot you the link and then we can forget about meeting at a coffee bar or at your house for a slideshow or ever for that matter. Ther´ll be more too - HERE

More of where I´ve been

Well I am still here in Sucre in Bolivia and we are enjoying the warm colonialness of this comfy city. The weather seems to encircle and roll over the city but rain rarely touches it even though it appears to fall in the surrounding mountains every day. I guess that explains the abundance of fresh produce and fruits from the area.

I just thought I´d use this post to show some more pictures of the places we´ve been over the last few weeks. We were staying near the black market zone of La Paz where there is simply too much stuff for sale all at once to really describe the place in detail, but it´s simply a neverending maze of all kinds of stuff. It was worth seeing but it´s a little hard to find specific things unless you´re familiar with the layout of the place. Which could take a lifetime.

La Paz is a pretty busy place. Actually I´ve noticed that Bolivian towns are particularly busy with foot traffic. La Paz seems to have the least personal autos of any city I´ve ever been to, however, he streets are clogged with trucks, busses, small combi busses and throngs of bustling locals and tourists alike. There is no real centralized public transportation, so it´s a good thing the city limits are fairly small. Most transit seems to go from the heights of El Alto and back which is located up above La Paz´s canyon wall (and spilling over it) and is no longer a suburb of La Paz but more of a twin city to it.

This is just a little parrot-thing that we took some pictures of in the Musical Instrument Museum because we like parrots.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sucre, La cuidad de estudiantes

We are now firmly inside Bolivia and enjoying the balmy climate and somewhat laid-back vibe of Bolivia´s judicial capitol, Sucre. It´s quite hot here actually and much dryer than Lake Titicaca or even La Paz. This is a smallish and well-preserved colonial built city with narrow streets that bustle seemingly constantly with throngs of Students of all ages. There is a more prosperous feel here and the city has many private schools of all types. We are actually looking for some more schooling ourselves here as we hear that this is a good place to study spanish.

This is a picture of something I´ve been meaning to snap for awhile. It´s a clay oven at a garden restaurant that we ate at yesterday that is typical of the andes and almost every restaurant we go to seems to have one. What this means is great baked potatoes, broiled meats, baked fish, and pizzas, lasagnas etc... Usually they are wood-fired and, from what I can gather, are a traditional Andean cooking method. When the results are this good, why buck tradition?

Our hotel room has a kitchen so we went to the market yesterday and bought everything we needed for a good Quinoa soup which seems to be a staple down here. The markets here are an adventure unto themselves. I´ve never been to a market that is taken up 2/3 with it´s meat section. Check out this Chola whacking into a hunk of meat with a giant axe. As always, market trips are pretty challenging for people more accustomed to isles of pre-wrapped meatstuffs and sanitized deli-counters but the shock wears off eventually. We finally found a ¨supermarket¨ where we could get a few things we couldn´t find in the market, like soysauce, and that was as weird as the open market but in a different way. It was like shopping in a supermarket with about a third of the selection on it´s shelves. The dairy section consisted of various plastic bags of milk and yogurt with only a few brands represented. All the produce was wrapped in plastic.
  • All in all this city is really comfortable and pretty. There are many old, colonial buildings and since it´s a university town there is a youthful vibrance and the primary tree-lined streets are well looked after. The main square is full of people of all types socializing and sucking on delish coconut popsicles in the shade of giant trees. Yeah, I think we are doing OK.

Friday, March 05, 2010

La Paz

Well, we are in La Paz still. We´ve actually found a great place to stay so we´ve decided to hang out for a bit here in this city. We will head to Sucre or maybe Cochabamba on Sunday, but we will have to see how things go. I was remarking in my last post about how strange it is to see people from distinct cultures or places ¨acting¨ or sort of performing for the tourist cameras. Anyone who comes from a heavily touristed place will understand what I´m talking about. Things can get even weirder when the average daily income in a place is 100 times less what it is in your country. When I saw the villagers of the Uros Islands greeting us with a familiar greeting in forced unison it reminded me of the TV show FAntasy Island where all visitors recieved a Lei and drink with an umbrella in it as soon as they stepped off the plane. I found myself being constantly on-gaurd for this kind of behavior. For awhile anyone in customary indiginous dress that seemed a little too clean or made-up I regarded as a ¨performer¨ and it made all sorts of things seem staged to me. Much like the Native carver I once saw Japanese tourists videoing at the mouth of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, these people seemed to be putting on a show. I suppose we´ve all done similar things - especially for money, but when the behavior is extended into the confines of your home, it seems even weirder. Hayley was good enough to point out, however, that while a lot of men on the Island of Taquile, for example, wore customary dress when soliciting rooms for the night and then changed into more mass-fabricated modern clothes for the morning chores, most indiginous women of these communities continued to wear their traditional clothes at all times. Maybe it´s not all a performance then. I´m still not sure. If you go to NYC and get a cab, do you think that guy is being particularly familiar and projecting a NYC attitude to help the tourist have an authentic experience? Hard to say I guess... Well, enough of that. WE are currently in La Paz which is a big city and full of all kinds of inauthentic and authentic people alike.

The sprawl of La Paz up above the valley is called El Alto and it´s the Ayamara capitol of the world I´m told. I´m pretty sure most people are too busy hustling here to worry too much about weather or not things look good for the tourists. What I do know is that this snack food known as a Saltena and is basically a baked empanada full of juicy meat or veg stew is constantly orbiting around in my mind as I walk the streets and wonder what we should do for lunch.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lake Titicaca

Well things seem to be taking a long long time on this computer in La Paz Bolivia that I am attempting to upload about 10 pictures onto. In that case I may have to use the addage that a thousand words are worth a picture and write sans pictures for today. If you are still with me I guess it means that you are a truley dedicated reader and don´t mind the lack of dazzling colors to titilate your senses. Anyway, we are obviously in La Paz, Bolivia and it´s pretty amazing. I´ve never seen a city quite like it. Aha! there the photos go - uh, disregard the intro to this piece, as some of the photos just went though. I´ll be adding a few here and there.

We are up in the high altiplano and we recently went to Lake Titicaca where we vistited the renouned islas Flotantes. These are made by the legendary and much touted in the tourist guides, Uros people who proved to outlast the Lakes original empire, and the incans, ...and even the Conquistadores to some degree. They are still living out there on the lake tucked away on self-built islands of Totora Reeds, fishing and catering to the whims of Tourists. Will they outlast this latest cultural invasion? Time will tell, but from the little mini tour we got on our way out to the Isla Taquile, it seems like things are going OK for these folks dispite the dozens of tour boats that land every minute. It´s easy to be cynical about ¨touristy¨ attractions and hard to see the value through the playacting etc... but
money in any form can´t be that bad when you´re sleeping in a hut that´s floating in the middle of a cold lake can it? These people seem to be taking the onslaught in stride. As if they have a choice I guess.

These photos are taken from the Isla Taquile which is where we spent a night in a sort of family-run house/hotel. They were really nice and this Island is an amazing thing to see! There are no cars and little paths run throughout the island past sheep pens and potatoe patches. It reminded me of the place Frodo Baggins lived before he had to leave. Totally fairytalesque. I will try to post more photos of this place as it was amazing. Note the angle of the clouds. In Lake titicaca it always feels like you are looking out the window of an airplane or hiking in the high sierra, but there are so many things going on up here you feel as if you have discovered another planet.
The woman who is running this shammy internet cafe just started downloading another Telenovela and my computer has slowed to nothing so I guess I´ll just try to post pictures later through a faster connection. We are really enjoying La Paz so far. The food especially and surprisingly but not surprisingly the people too! There is a lot going on here - protests, parties, tourism, and markets, markets, markets! It is like a canyon with a metropolis crammed into it. The part of the city we are staying in seems to be 50% made up of stalls and stands offering everything from Llama fetuses for Pachamama ofrendas to Solar Powered calculators. You must navigate through the mazes of tarps and comedors (lunch counters) but you don´t really mind because it´s quite fun and interesting and useful if you´re actually looking for something. Wish us luck!