Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baby Dave comes to Visit, Part I

Baby Dave and me with Lincoln and our chin beards

We met baby Dave on the 8th of January after the epic 6-day bus journey from the Equator to Santiago Chile. In perfect Dave fashion, Elise and I found him on the sidewalk. A sidewalk cafe to be more precise. Alone? Never! Dave had made friends with two beautiful Canadians and was enjoying a light lunch under an umbrella in the mid afternoon heat of Santiago. It was terrific to have baby Dave come down to meet us. He brought us Christmas gifts too, M&Ms, extra batteries, soap, deodorant, assorted little goodies that one runs out of quickly on the road. We didn't exactly do much in Santiago, yet we had a brilliant time. Wandering around in search of places to eat, listening to plaza preachers, watching a Performance Art group do an organized dance with push-brooms, siestas in parks, cold sweating beers on a sidewalk at happy hour, a very fuzzy pool game with a cartoon character of a Frenchman (complete with mustache and a ridiculous hyperbole of an accent), and an awkward late night lost walk down prostitute alley. It was great catching up with baby Dave, having no set agenda, and slipping comfortably right back into step with him. I am blessed to have such a brother.

We left Santiago in order to spend an afternoon wandering aimlessly around the hills of Valpariaso. Colorful houses and classic cemeteries perch above the Pacific Ocean and a busy port. We lounged and watched the circus of tourist boats at the port, bumping and ramming into each other, boats crawling with people, people hopping from one boat to the next, lashing their boat to the neighboring one, fitting through impossible narrow gaps. It was very entertaining and the skippers quite ridiculous.

A Valparaiso cemetery

That night at the bus station while boarding our (very tardy) overnight bus to Pucon I saw a familiar face. Danielle, an Italian and fellow sufferer from Bruno's funny farm was getting onto the same bus! I was happy to see Danielle again, he was one of the very few non-complainers at Bruno's, never let things get to him, always had a smile and was quick fingered with a guitar. Danielle and I had shared a special moment at the farm, two months earlier and thousands of miles away from this crowded bus station. One day at Bruno's, during our daily coca break from picking oranges off the branches that Bruno was chain sawing over our heads, one of Bruno's former lovers showed up! As Bruno sprang up from the coca break to go join his newly arrived love, he called out over his shoulder that we should enjoy ourselves a bath in the river. He pointed through some bushes. Neither Danielle or I had been to this part of the river, yet we both new that it was easier to just do what Bruno said than not and have to explain it later. This is hugely due to the fact that Bruno's comprehension skills are less than adequate and when something doesn't make sense to him (denying a mid morning swim in a muddy river) he gets very confused and grunts and scratches his head.

So, we pushed our way through the bushes and ended up at a section of the river with a small, slow rapids section. As I was pulling off my shoes and socks, wondering just how naked to get in front of this Italian guy whom I had met a few days before, Danielle gingerly stepped past me, slid himself down the boulder we were sitting on, and plopped lazily into the cool water, stark naked. That move left me with little doubt, little choice. I too stripped, slid down the boulder, and plop, there were two. Two naked guys, barely more than strangers, sitting in some slow moving rapids in the Amazon basin of Bolivia at the request of some Belgian dude who has lost half his mind on cactus juice and stomped off into the woods to have a romp or two in his teepee with a former French flame. Needless to say, Danielle and I shared a special bond from that point forth.

This bus ride out of Valparaiso was also the first time we encountered Joe and Diesel. A couple of Australian love birds taking the long way home after having lived and worked in Seattle. We noticed them because they were speaking English and so when our bus still wasn't showing up we asked them if they new when (or if) it was. More on Joe and Diesel later...

Valparaiso's colorful homes

As the fates usually arrange for me I had a rather heavy lady with some sort of serious sinus issues sitting next to me and so I slipped in and out of sleep to the sounds of snorts, snores, and slurps. We woke on the bus in the morning to find that we had left the dry landscape of middle Chile and entered a lush forested region known as the Lake District. This brought us to Pucon. Rainy rainy Pucon. We had only intended to have a short stay in Pucon, climb the famous smoking volcano, look down into the mouth of it, cry our eyes out from the sulfurous gases and continue South. A recent avalanche on the volcano and the current rain were enough to hole us up for a while though. Luckily we found a great hostel with fantastic people. Rob the stoner Brit with an amazingly creative vernacular. John the old man who choked on his tongue while sleeping and chain smoked throughout the day. The three young Argentineans who slept on the floor of the hostel to save money. An Aussie girl who was rarely seen out of her bed. Some very cool owners with a nice dog and of course, Joe and Diesel, good solid salt of the earth people. And then the volcano opened, opened its doors to tourists once again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Middle Month

It already seems like a long time ago, but here are the middle two months of our journey. This is of course a very quick overview, so many stories didn´t make it in. And please forgive typos, I wrote this in one long go.

When I left off we had just finished a four week stint in the cloud forest of Peru with a great host family. This left us in Cusco. We took our time slowly and stayed in a haunted community arts center with creaky floorboards and hot water that only worked for Elise. I´m pretty sure we were the only people staying there. We could hear rehearsals for some super dramatic play going on in the room next to us. We enjoyed our time back in civilization, although in comparison to the beautifully slow pace of the jungle it felt very big and busy, rusty brown tile roofs everywhere, churches on every corner, we had good timing, getting in to almost every one of them. We ate set menu vegetarian lunches and enjoyed some heavenly spicy sandwiches, espresso coffee, an enormous old saggy dog with huge milking tits, the windy steep neighborhoods of San Blas, some old Inca stones, way too big to move without cranes, an incredible Brazilian wannabe Jesus statue, rain, rainbows, a bustling marketplace complete with a wrinkley old lady who made us huge delicious fruit juices each morning and where I ran into a guy who I lived in the dorms with and hadn´t seen, let alone thought about, in 5 or more years.

Rainbow over Cusco, leading the Spanish to the Inca gold. Too soon?

Elise´s view over Cusco

I couldn´t get enough of this. I refuse to grow up.

We high tailed it on a night bus that I almost missed because of a last minute banos trip and had the privilege of listening to a large lady snore into an voluptuous chest through what seemed like a juice box straw of a mouth. I met eyes with the poor skinny teenager next to her and he and I shared a moment of pain together.

We arrived in Arequipa, South Peru, and immediatley got a taxi, a hostel, and then caught up on the sleep that the lady kept us from. When I woke, refreshed, we took the town by storm, wandered through the immense European-like Cathedral, ran into a town meeting, complete with some epic characters in a sqaure, and then spent the afternoon wandering around the very bizarre monastery. After snacking on some soft-serve we got interviewed by some medical students in the main plaza and passed the time by people watching next our new best, if silent, friend. Right at sundown we chanced upon a huge American Wal-Mart wannabe and just sat there and gaped at all that we had left behind. Clothes, toys, processed foods, the works. I find it ironic that as we are stuffing our passports in any and every orifice to keep them safe from theives, we are shamlessly followed through this megaplex by a pistol clad security guard...

Cool Christmas decorations in the hot hot South of Peru

The next day we are on to Colca Canyon the (second, it is neigbored by one that is slighty deeper but much harder to get to) deepest canyon in the world. The bus ride takes us across nowhere and back again just for a second look before we descend into a beautiful valley which then turns into the canyon, complete with Inca terraces, still in use by the native people today. At a stop to pick up random peoples on the side of the road, a few ladies, dressed in wonderfully elaborate costumes, or maybe their everyday dress, stuff a few adolescent llamas underneath in the luggage compartment next to our backpacks. The baby ones were still too fragile for that, so they took them onboard and the baby llamas sat in the ladies´laps, meowing peacefully.

They were unharmed. Don´t worry.

We found a hostel right away and enjoyed some Australian soaps on TV with our dinner. Love Actually was on that night and it was getting toward the holidays, so I stayed up and watched it. Shame on me.

The next day we hiked down to the river at the bottom of the canyon, down down down a terrible trail, having quite a hard time finding a spot to actually access the river. The water turned out to be way too cold anyways. We spend a few hours laying in the shade, letting the little flies have a feast of our legs. I passed the hours reading The Prophet, my new favorite. On the trail back up we were graced with the graceful prescence of the elusive condor. It was truly amazing to see. Gliding silently, looking for nothing, not moving a muscle, just using the thermal air to manuver.

Cholas in the canyon, they are everywhere!

An uneventful bus ride back through the barren landscape of purgatory took us to Arequipa once again. We quickly caught a night bus out of there. They played the children´s movie Apocalypto, from Mel Gibson, at full blast. The fun, sweet romp through a playground of happiness. I feel so sorry for the people who were actually trying to get some sleep, I had learned better than to fight it at this point.

We arrrived North along the coast in Nazca, another beauty of a town where every man is a taxi driver and every woman does, oh I don´t know, everything else that there is to do to run a town besides drive taxis. After a heck of a time finding a hostel, we finally settled down in our first room with a TV. You know what they have in Peru? They have Fox News, streaming in from the good ol USA, commercial FREE. That´s right. When they go on commerical break in America, they have special segments to show the Peruvian people about how cool it is to be American and such. So, needless to say, we were hooked. Oh, and they had House, and Monk, and American movies, in ENGLISH!!! It´s a miracle that we unglued ourselves.

We did leave the next morning though to take a flight over the famous Nazca Lines. It was so worth it. I don´t care what anybody has to say about taking a super touristy flight over a barren desert. Those drawings and shapes in the earth are beautiful. Really beautiful. And huge. So BIG. Elise and I were able to hold our stomachs in the 6 seater plane, the poor girl behind me didn´t have such luck.

Getting out of town was a hassle. A bus to Ica, where the nicest young man took us what felt like was clear across town to make our connecting bus, and then we bombed up the coast to find ourselves in Lima just long enough to find the closest supermarket, get some snacks, watch a lady dig her purse out of clear down in her crotch, and catch the next bus outta town.

Some sort of strike or another. Bus couldn´t get through. Donkey carts full of weeks could.

We arrived in Trujillo, caught a bus to the beach at Huanchaco, were greeted by the wonderful smell of the ocean, set up our tent in a cute little backyard area, and took a nap. We wiled away the hours in Huanchaco, splitting our time between the beach, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, meanderings about town, and the shady hammocks with books in hand. It was getting close to Christmas and we could feel the festivities build, lots of music blasting from squares, a few cute elves running around in red tights...

Exploring the cemetery in Huanchaco

On our way out of town, a day later than we had hoped because of the holiday backup of transport, I got a sweet new Peruvian mohawk. My early Christmas present from Elise. Thanks dawg.

An uncomfortable overnight bus left us bleary eyed at a ticket counter, trying to buy passage into Ecuador with US dollars, when Elise realized that her purse was missing. She had had it when getting on the bus the evening before. It dissapeared somewhere in between. We told the lady to hold her horses and went back to the other bus station. They ¨tried¨to help and searched the bus and turned up nothing. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the police station to get a report so when we made the traveler´s insurance claim we could have some sort of official looking document. A very nervous ride in the cab of a truck with two police officers, one with an AK47, my mind racing with all the converstaions about how corrupt the police are in Peru, left us in a room full of monkeys (police) draggin their knuckles on the ground, banging the keyboards of their ancient stone computers with bricks, and giving us very little help. An hour, and several tears later, we had a police report in hand, and went straight to the nearest phone booth to cancel a debit card, call the parents, and the insurance company. Cancelation went well, parents were there and sympathetic and did everything in their power to help, insurance company didn´t cover this sort of thing, sorry. Great.

A sticky sweaty bus ride finally took us across the border to Ecuador where we saw how we, Americans, get all of our bananas. I know a million is a large number. We passed a million bananas. Easily. Hundreds of thousands of banana trees, hour after hour they wizzed by. Green, stocky, banana trees, as far as I could see. Sooooo many. Bananas.

Guayaquil bus station. Wow. I almost felt like I was back in America. McDonald´s, KFC, bathrooms with toilet paper, the North Pole with a white bearded Santa and attractive elves and carols playing over the loudspeaker. We stayed just long enough to eat in the food court, grab some coffee and get on the road again. To Bahia.

We spent a lot longer than we had thought we would in Bahia, I got a nasty fever which left me in bed for 24 hours. Bahia is that sort of place though. We were staying in a hostel owned by an Australian lady and it was a bit of an Ex-Pat hotspot. Old salty white guys sailing their boats around the world had gotten trapped by the thick lazy air of Bahia. The friendly people. The feel of an eternal weekend. Nothing seemed to move here. Nothing seemed to get done. We spent five nights, instead of the one or two intended. We spent Christmas here. Santa brought Elise a Chola sack. This is a plastic blanket that can be used for everything. Fixing a car? Don´t get dirty, lay on your Chola Sack! Did you just pick a fresh bunch of bananas? Tie the corners together and you have a banana bag! Bleeding? Use it as a turniquet! Falling from an airplane? Parachute! You name it, the Chola sack does it! Then we got a crappy milkshake in the morning, went to the market, watched a small person wrap presents on a table the height of her head, and ate a BBQ dinner at our hostel with a bunch of other Gringos stuck in Bahia. Home Alone was on TV, a must.

The Chola Sack, in beach blanket mode. Five minutes later it made a wicked fishing net.

A ferry and a bus took us up to Canoa, just right smack underneath the Equator. Like, if you jumped high enough and swatted with one outstreatched hand from Canoa, you could hit the Equator. One of my favorite stops of this whole trip. A long long sandy beach with bathtub warm water, great sunsets, a cheap secure spot for our tent, old friends from Bruno´s farm in Bolivia, new friends that they brought along, dollar beers, good fish, The Scottish Prince whiskey, ice cream sandwiches, an ill-fated hunt for a monument which sits on the Equator (the Ecuadorian people are oblivious to the fact that the Equator passes right through their country) a New Years celebration with bonfires, and effigies, and fire dancers, and drums, and a late night skinny-dip in the ocean, it was all so wonderful and perfect.

The first and finest of our Canoan sunsets.

And then we took the incredible bus journey of 2010. A bus from Canoa to San Vincente, a ferry from San Vincente to Bahia, a bus from Bahia to Guayaquil, a bus to Tumbes, a bus to Lima, a night in a hostel, and then a bus to Tacna, and then a heck of a five hour border crossing with striking Chilean agricultural workers, and then Arica to Santiago on a 30 hour bus ride.

The five hour line at Chile´s border. Elise sits on a chola sack.

We found our brother David at a sidewalk cafe with two beautiful women he had met on the airplane. And thus, the two weeks with Dave began...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The first two months

So, we´ve been in South America now for two months, three more to go, and have spent most of our time here on farms in both Bolivia and Peru. We have yet to make much mileage but this will soon be remedied. Things have been going quite well so far, no major hang ups to speak of, just normal travel fare. Bolivia made us pretty sick. Peru has greatly impressed, we found jars of peanut butter in a store that actually uses their refrigerator for something other than keeping beer and coke cold! Here is a quick overview of the past two months.

We left San Francisco on Oct 1st, laid-over in Miami and then had a direct flight into La Paz, the capital of Bolivia and the world´s highest airport at around 12,000 ft. La Paz is a huge, crazy, crumbly, busy, smoggy, noisy place sitting in a steep bowl with houses clinging to the sides, great big snowy mountians in the distance and lots and lots of honking. We found a hostel alright and then went about the business of trying to find the bus that would take us down into the Amazon Jungle where our first farm was located. This process took us the better part of 24 hours and almost got me pickpocketed, the guy´s hand was in my pocket when I realized what was going on and when I grabbed on to my pockets with both hands his accomplice threw dried corn meal at my face to distract so they could make a getaway. Nothing stolen. The search for the bus left us huffing and puffing and out of breath from the altitude, alas, we did come from sea level. After just one full day and two sleepless alititude sickness nights in La Paz we boared a glorified schoolbus and rode for twelve hours, across the alitplano, a desolate no vegetation wasteland which streches across a good portion of Bolivia. Ramshackle adobe houses and barefoot children, skinny cows and huge trash heaps blurred by. We passed by an incredible snowcapped montain range, all of the peaks close to or above 20,000 feet before decending down down down a windy steep road into the hot humid stickiness of the Amazon Basin. Before arriving half a day later at our dusty destination of Apollo we narrowly avoided a head on collison with another bus. Luckily our bus didn´t plunge the several hundred feet it could have into the river below, the other bus swerved into the cliffside and got stuck in the dirt gutter. Not to worry, no one was hurt and Bolivians are rather handy people, they all climbed out of the windows and looped ropes through the bus and heaved and hoed and had that bus upright in no time. It looked like this may not have been the first time...

Our taxi ride from Apollo to Bruno´s farm was just as interesting. I thought, oh a taxi, great, the two of us will have a nice pleasant ride and should be there in about an hour no more of this bus tipping nonsense. Not only were we not the only passengers but we were accompanied by a canine and bags upon bags of food and clothing. The grand total was 7 adults, 2 kids, 1 baby, a puppy and tons of cargo piled on top of a toyota wagon meant for a mere 5 people. I was sitting between the driver and the passenger. Where you ask? Oh just on top of the stick shift. Yes every time the driver downshifted he punched my left buttcheek and no, no it wasn´t very comfortable. The lady with the baby was nursing and the puppy took an interest in Elise´s arm and wouldnt stop licking it and the two kids that were sitting in the back had the misfortune of the gasoline tanks leaking on them. Not only was the ride very uncomfortable but the driver needed all of the men to exit at one point so that the car could make it up a certain moderately steep section of road. All in all we arrived safely.

Our ridiculous ¨taxi¨

Bruno´s farm was 18 days of eyebrow raising, head shaking, adventure including a teepee, the Bolivian drug police, machetes, guns, orange wine, lots of rice, a few hikes, a waterfall and a cemetery. There were a lot of other volunteers from all over the world and we made some very good friends there. For a more in depth account of Bruno´s, check out Elise´s blog at wanderingkali.blogspot.com

Elise on a mountaintop in Bolivia

We left Bruno´s with some good friends, our bus had only two flat tires on the way and drove through an immense thunder storm, so nothing too bad. We spent a few days in La Paz recuperating before heading down to the beautiful yet bug ridden ¨resort¨town of Coroico. Elise and I spent our time trying to gain back a little bit of weight, lounging poolside, reading, doing crosswords, napping in hammocks, and watching the very very drunk bolivian revelers celebrate Dia de los Muertos. In Corioco we chanced upon two Argentinian brothers who we had met at Bruno´s and journeyed back up to La Paz together, but only after my pair of kakhi pants went ¨missing¨at a Bolivian laundromat. Oh well, down to only one pair of pants now. Our bus this time couldn´t downshift into first. The driver had to get out a few times and crawl underneath to work his magic.

The view from our awesome hostel in Coroico

After only one night of solid solid sleep in La Paz we bussed it (no problems!!!) to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca and quickly caught a boat out to the Isla del Sol. After a brutal uphill section on ancient Inca stairs we thought that perhaps we were hiking on the right path but it took us to a cliffside and then a rocky traverse along the water and finally to a pebble beach (not the lovely one we had been searching for) where we found a clearing in a field and set up our tent and tried to sleep through another huge huge thunderstorm that lit up the world behind my eyelids and shook the ground with bass. In the morning, groggy, we awoke to the sound of farmers...right outside our tent...farming. After laying in complete motionless silence for a few minutes we jumped out of the tent, greeted the man, wife, and son, who where breaking up the hard earth with a primative looking metal blade and took down our tent, packed up and dashed off. At a crossroads Elise wasn´t feeling well and so we split ways. She headed back to the port to wait while I stashed my bag and hiked to the North end of the island to see the Inca ruins and the rock where God created the sun and the moon. The ruins weren´t impressive but it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed streching my legs on the long hike. We took a boat back to the mainland, found a room, found some food, visited the cathedral, saw the Virgin of Copacabana (the main reason Bolivians make a pilgrimage to Copacabana) and enjoyed a nice sunset.

Cholas on Isla de la Sol
Sunset over Lake Titicaca
The next day we hiked up the Calvary hill, soaked in the views, napped in a hammock and caught a little bus to the Peruvian border, walked across at sunset, went through customs, and then spent a few hours getting to Puno where we had a nightmare of a bus change because our tickets were taken from us and never returned and we didn´t know about the exit charge and didn´t have any Peruvian money and had to go to the ATM just to pay the Nazi ticket lady the equivalent of 30 cents to leave the station and board the most horrible night ride of a bus packed full of enourmous cholas and all of their bags stuffed full of only God knows what. On the upside I did meet a nice Columbian and his brother who chatted with me and then gave me a smelly old Bolivian Christmas sweater as a parting gift. We arrived in Cusco, Peru just at sunrise, hung over from the bus and with nowhere to stay.

Not to worry though, we kicked it in the main plaza, got some breakfast, searched and found a bus that would take us Santa Maria, close to our next farm, ate some sandwhiches and set off. The ride seemed very very long to me because the old mummbly man sitting behind me had soaked himself in urine before we even left and seemed to have a fascination with digging his knee into the back of my seat. Yet, we enjoyed wonderful amazing scenery as we snaked our way through the Sacred Valley, up over a snow patched pass, and down into the cloud forest, distracted slightly by the spanish dubbed Jet Li movie that was blasting through our skulls. The hostel in Santa Maria had a gorgeous faded mass print of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower and I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me. A year ago, so long ago, I was in Paris, living with one of my best friends. Another life.

In the morning we made peanut butter banana sandwhiches and got into another crowded taxi which dropped us off in a Jurassic Park looking valley on a dusty road with a sign pointing down the hillside to ¨Quellomayo.¨

Our valley, Quellomayo

We spent four full weeks and a morning at Quellomayo with a British man, his Peruvian wife, and their extended family. We had a great time working on various projects around the house/soon to be restaurant, building a solar shower, rocks paths, painting a giant map on a rock, gathering fruit, clearing land, etc. The food was wonderful, there was an incredible amount of fresh fruit, mangos, pineapples, papayas, avacados, passionfruit and many many more. We took a few memorable trips during our time there. An overnight camping trip for the anniversary of Vilcabamba where we saw some Inca ruins and watched a few cock-fights and a Peruvian rodeo and a bullfight. We spent Thanksgiving at Machu Picchu and had an incredible day in the rain and fog and clouds and sun. We didn´t eat turkey but we did have peanut butter and oreos, an adequate substitute in my opinion. The last weekend we spent at Quellomayo we celebrated three family member´s birthdays in the only way that is appropriate, random family members showing up in their VW van, others walking in from the next town with their possy, with a rifle for shooting something or other, little kids running around, a pinata, candy, cake, a whole roast pig, tamales, lots and lots of beer followed by coke and rum and a blaring stereo and dancing and blurry memories of finishing the night by taking a bath in the pooled up stream down the dirt path.

Elise on top of Wayna Picchu with Peanut Butter and Oreo

We are back in Cusco now, wandering around, peeking in churches and eating more peanut butter and bananas. Our next destination is Arequipa and then on up the coast hopefully to the Equator.
Elise with the next day´s breakfast. I wish I was kidding. The rest of the pig was lunch and dinner.

Monday, September 28, 2009

South America Bound

Friends and Family,

I leave on Thursday the 1st of October for a five-month adventure in South America with my little sister Elise.

The plan as we know it:

We will fly into La Paz Bolivia and spend the month of October in the Madidi National Forest living with a village of 300 indigenous men, women, and children. We will volunteer on their farm and help around the village, engaging in the daily life and rituals of the native people, bathing in a stream and sleeping under a mango tree.

In November we will continue on to Peru where we will help a British man and his Peruvian wife in the cloud forest outside of Cuzco. We are going to aid in getting their organic restaurant up and running, eat tons and tons of mangos, hike around Machu Picchu, and live the dream.

December and January are set aside for travel, hiking, camping, and adventuring through Chile and Argentina. We are very excited about trekking through Patagonia and if possible we want to hitch-hike on a yacht to Antarctica so we can hang out with some penguins.

After making our way back North through Buenos Aires we plan on staying at a bed and breakfast in Uruguay, helping on their dairy farm, vegetable garden, art community workshop, and hanging out on the beach.

Finally we will find ourselves back in Bolivia on March 10th to fly back to the United States. This is the current plan, subject to imminent change!

I don’t anticipate having regular Internet access so I am putting this blog on hold. I would love to update once a month, yet the likelihood of this is shaky. Thanks for reading over the past year!

I hope continue catching up with my blogs until I leave so keep checking below!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Burning Man

I went to the Burning Man festival this September in Black Rock City, Nevada. Burning Man is a huge camping trip for 50,000 people who give, share, meditate, bond, create, perform, ponder, pray, play, party, dance, rejoice, blossom, bloom, etc for a week in the Nevada desert.

I stayed with Camp Yummy Ruminations, a group of new and old friends from all over the US. We had a wonderful time exploring and looking deep inside of ourselves to find the good.
At Burning Man it is custom for each camp to bring a gift to share. Camp Yummy brings the Yum-Cart, a booth on wheels where passers-by can request any taste in the whole wide world, from blueberry muffins to unicorn hooves to stardust rainbow earwax. Inside the Yum-Cart the taste-ologist on duty picks from at-hand ingredients to create the customers wishes. It is an absolute treat to watch patrons’ faces light up when they taste something familiar, odd, unimaginable. Kid’s camp was a huge hit!

The Yum-Cart at Kidsville

The area surrounding the camps, the Playa, is littered with art installations, my favorite of which was a man leaning into the wind. From afar it appears as though he is struggling, his whole body fighting against an invisible force. Closer up and you see that he is dragging something very heavy. Closer again and it is a giant key that he is pulling. Closer still until you see that his face is a keyhole. Even closer and the chain is made of keys. Face to face and you see that his entire body is made of hundreds of tiny locks.

I love this kind of art. It has universal appeal in its human form, conflict, and potential resolution. It spoke to me on many different levels, reassuring long-held beliefs and raising brand-new questions. What does it say to you?

Burning Man was such a great experience; I made so many new friends and strengthened old bonds. I look forward to crossing paths with the Yummy Ruminators again…

The all night crew of cappers

An awesome art installation

Striking out into a dust storm

Suburban Heaven

After a summer of sticky sweaty sizzling New York heat, Mitch and I settled into Suburbia America, Roseville California. Complete with backyard swimming pools, three car garages, and manicured lawns, Mitch and I had never seen cheap plastic America look so appealing. Once the novelty of fresh blended margaritas and AC wore off, we were ready to go get dirty in the desert. It was great fun while it lasted though!

Hot American Summer in NYC

I spent roughly forty days in New York City this summer, working in Times Square with my best friend Mitch selling condoms to tourists. Looking back I can say that it was a great summer full of good times and lots of laughs.

It was fraught with ridiculous hot days, sweltering no-AC nights, rude tourists, ignorant police officers, and lots and lots of mosquito bites.

We enjoyed seeing Broadway Shows,
Walking around Central Park,
Watching movies in Grant Park,
Playing ping pong,
Making friends with cabbies
Making enemies with cabbies
Sipping iced coffees at the Coffee Pot
Playing darts
Eating Amish Market Sandwiches
Dancing in the rain
Watching a thunderstorm over the Manhattan skyline from the top of a fire-escape in Brooklyn,
Walking around in the Village writing raps,
Making tons and tons of “best friends” on the subways,
and getting to know our drug-dealing Dominican neighbors.

It was a great experience and now I know full well how hot a New York summer is.

Our office

My neck hurt all summer long, I couldn't get over how huge the buildings are

Hiding from the Cops on 48th

We don't like Midtown South

Slinging them things!

At a Mets vs. Giants Game, pre beer

Mid beer

and post beer

Our apartment in Brooklyn, pretty much a pink brick sauna pressure cooker

Our street

California baby!

I took an impromptu trip to California in July to visit my Grandfather before he passed away. It was a complete blessing to be at his home with almost all of his living relatives, including my sister's children from the East Coast, when he died on July 20th. He was a truly extraordinary man who was a very gifted scientist and a warm loving Grandfather. He taught me how to play chess and draw and always made time for us grandchildren on weekends. The last words that he said to me were "Have fun," referring to a trip up to Lake Tahoe with my brother. He will live on fondly in my memory.

With nephew Alex

And niece Katherine!

I was lucky enough to catch a ride down to Santa Cruz with my sister Lauren and visit with some old friends. Good Times!

At Natural Bridges beach in Santa Cruz

Katherine's first time in the Pacific Ocean

Think she liked it?

With the nephew


Mmmmm...eating sand

That diaper must have been a treat

Bury me!

A few days later I celebrated my 23rd birthday with my brother David up in Lake Tahoe. We took our boat, the Night-Train, out for a memorable sunset sail. Thanks for another great birthday in Lake Tahoe Dave!

Brother Dave stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Tahoe

The Night-Train

Sunset over the lake from my brother's flat

The start of my birthday sunset cruise on the Night-Train, looking off the bow

Sunset cruise off the stern

Skipper Dave

Skipper and First-Mate

Sun is getting lower

The clown himself, check out the clouds

More and more color

An absolute explosion of color!

Dark water, great sky

Back inside the breakwater. What a great birthday present. Thanks Dave!