English - Logo Sight Travel Journal English - Logo Sight
1 About Me 8
2 Education
3 Philosophy
4 Politics
5 News
6 Travel
7 Sports
8 Funding
Countries Been to
1 1997 17
2 1998 6
3 1999 2
4 2000 4
5 2001 10
6 2002 6
7 2010 29
 
1 Pages 616 Time 9:20
1 1997 17 0
1 England 7.54 6:51
2 Scotland 1.35 1:14
3 Netherlands 0
4 Belgium 0
5 Luxembourg 0
6 France 0
7 Spain 0
8 Portugal 0
9 Gibralter 0
10 Morocco 0
11 Monaco 0
12 Italy 0
13 Slovenia 0
14 Hungary 0
15 Romania 0
16 Turkey 0
17 Nepal 0
2 1998 6 0
1 Tibet 0
2 Korea 0
3 Japan 0
4 Thailand 0
5 Malasia 0
6 Singapore 0
3 1999 2 0
1 Indonesia 0
2 Australia 0
5 2001 10 0
8 Bolivia 0
4 2000 4 0
1 USA 0
6 2002 6 0
1 Uruguay 0
2 Brazil 0
3 Guyana 0
4 Suriname 0
5 Paraguay 0
6 Chile 0
7 2010 29 0
10 Croatia 0
11 Serbia 0
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0
14 Macedonia 0
23 Estonia 0
24 Finland 0
28 Germany 0
29 Netherland 0

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England

I arrived in England at the end of August; three or four days after Lady Diana died. After I got out of Heathrow airport at night I rode just a few hundred meters from the terminal and found a ditch in a patch of scrubs to sleep in. It was my first time outside of the country since Mexico, and I was extremely excited to be in England. Before I went to sleep I bought some food at a gas station on the other side of the street and heard some kids who were getting gas talking; and they didn't sound like English accents to me. They seemed like the cockney that I heard when I saw old English movies in my English classes in college. It was very exciting because I could feel how I was in another country.

I got up at six the next morning and started to ride north to the center of London. It seemed like Heathrow was in the middle of the city because I was immediately in a neighborhood. It was strange to be riding on the left side of the road, but it was cool because the cars were giving me plenty of room. I rode a long way through residential areas until I got to the center of the city and bought something I needed for my bike. A little while after that I stumbled upon a pedestrian part of the city and walked my bike through until it ended. There I saw a guy dressed in some kind of traditional English suit that made me feel like I was going back in time. I rode a little bit more until I got to the river and crossed one of the central bridges, and then entered what was obviously the center of the city because the roads got much narrower and were going in every direction more than anything I have ever seen in the states.

English people are nice. I hope they are as nice in other parts of Europe.

I saw on TV how they are voting on letting the Scots have their own Parlaiment, called evolution or something. Whales is thinking about it also. It seems like there are many different political sects here; I think it is like that on the mainland also. Their debate platform is similar here, except the audience has more input and the debate seems more laid back, which is not what I expected of England. The English know what is going on concerning basic ideas about freedom; maybe I am impressed because I am so ethnocentric I expected the English to be less civilized than us.

London - I am delighted my clothes and I are clean and my sleeping bag is dry again. I road across the center for a little bit until I had to pee. I stopped at the side of the road and asked a guy standing there selling phone cards where I could go tinkle, but he didn't seem to understand me and seemed a little molested that I was trying to talk to him, so I just guessed that he was some sort of English in-bred retard and I asked someone else. After I went wee wee I continued north on the confusing narrow winding twisting roads, and got so lost that at one point I went in a circle and found myself at the same crowded roundabout that I was at a half hour beforehand. It took me all day to get across London, and by the time I was finally at the outskirts it was getting to be dusk. I didn't spend any time in London because I didn't feel like being in a city.

One of the first strange things I noticed about England was that just as soon as I thought I was out of the last reaches of the cities' suburbs, another little hamlet appeared. This happened for an hour or so until I realized that all of England was like this; almost like the country was one huge spread out city. I must have been peeing a lot that day because I remember stopping in a few road side stores, which were more like taverns where all the people drinking seemed to know each other. I had never seen anything like that in the States. The area to the north of the city was in a beautiful setting with green pastures and rolling hills. I rolled into the first actual town to the north of London at about dusk and found a pasture at the bottom of a hill that the road went up and went to sleep. I was listening to the radio and all of the news was about the Death of Lady Diana. It seemed from the radio that people were really sad; and I started to feel a little lonely . I think all of the sadness in the air was rubbing off on me.

The next day I rode into the center of the town and went into the central mall to buy a strap for my bag and something to eat. I went to a food court, and after I paid I grabbed a couple of tiny packets of ketchup. To my great surprise was alerted by the cashiers that I had to pay for it; it wasn't cheap either, about 50 cents. I guess the English don't like ketchup like us Americans.

The next few days I rode farther north and watched the land growing less and less populated and hillier. I slept in the ditches on the side of the road every night, noticing how many more thorns there are in Europe than America. I developed a habit of having dinner and reading and writing in the local pubs of the hamlets until about eleven.

All of the pubs I went to seemed very cozy, like I was in someone's house. None of the people ever tried to talk to me, and it seemed obvious that they all knew I was a stranger. One night I was in a road side pub in a town outside of Liverpool and some old regulars there took an interest in me and asked me what I was doing. One of them told me he had lived in Cypress for a few months about 20 years before hand, and asked me what I thought of England. I told him whatever was on my mind, and he asked me if I saw England as being a burnt-out has-been little country, and he continued to explain about how England used to own half the world, but now had nothing and was like a second world country. When I told them I was sleeping in the bushes they told the bar tender who turned out to be the owner of the bar, and she invited me to stay there. When they closed, she and her teenage son took me to the back of the building where their house was and gave me a room. I had breakfast with them in the morning, which was interesting because I was witnessing a regular English family morning. The father was there eating with us dressed up in his business suit, and the boy was getting ready for school or something. They didn't talk to me, but they let me eat as much cereal as I wanted.

The next day I rode into Liverpool, which is a pretty big city that descends for a while into the sea. Before I got there I had a meal at a bar and had a chat with the young Polish bartender. She asked me why I was traveling through England. She said she thought England was the most boring country in Europe and she was only there to make money. I rode down to the sea to see about boats to Ireland, but the season had just ended and the plane flight was a hundred and fifty bucks so I decided to hold off on Ireland for the moment.

I rode into the north from there and noticed that the land was getting more and more barren and hilly which made it interesting and beautiful. I stayed in a town called Carlisle in the bushes behind a field in the center near the pubs. The next day before I left I walked around the local castle, which was fascinating because I had never been in a castle before. It was surrounded by walls and had a dungeon. The next day I rode into the hillsides which was beyond the official border with Scotland. Then I rode south and saw Hadrian's wall, which was built by the Romans two thousand years ago to keep the Scots out of England. This wall was built very sturdily and went on for as far as I could see and is supposed to reach accross the whole island. I rode south through some beautiful hills and had dinner at a bed and breakfast in a woman's house. When I told her that I was sleeping in the bushes she started telling me that she felt bad about me sleeping outside, and offered to let me sleep in her garage for a cheaper price. About five minutes after I left the next morning she caught up with me in her car and gave me a flashlight that I left behind at her house.

9-10-97

My legs were beat at the end of yesterday and this morning. so I rode easily all day long, and in a different way using different muscles. I think I recovered my thighs because I didn't burn them up by going too fast even though I went 109 miles. 9 more than the most I have done so far in this trip. I took a lot of pictures today. I was fascinated by the stone shingled houses and huge, rolling green pastures, rock walls lining the roads, and the steepness of the roads. I had a dream last night but I can't remember it. The English here sort of have Scottish accents. I crossed the boarder yesterday and got a taste of Scotland with the devolution debate on TV and the radio. The accents and the way they all shake their heads at me instead of nod is the most peculiar thing about the Scots. A nice woman who owns a bed and breakfast let me sleep on a mattress in her garage, take a shower, and cleaned my cloths. I rode into a town and was kind of tired so I hung out in a library for a couple hours in the afternoon. Then I rode some more until I found a nice field to sleep.

9-12-97

All the coffees I had sunk in and I was up reading under my waterproof blanket until nine thirty. I got up at 8:00 which is late for me. I rode about 80 miles to Hull England and got here a half hour before boarding the ferry to Holland. It seems like none of the passengers here speak English. It will be interesting to be communicating with people who don't speak English. I am glad to be leaving such an expensive country and going to cheaper places. The food here is more expensive than in America.

 

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Scotland

Even though I was only in Scotland for a few hours I will include it in my journal because I feel like I experienced the nuances of the country and its people enough. I can't remember exactly what town it was when I knew I was in Scotland, but after I head north I was there. I was a pretty marked difference between England. Scotland is all about rolling green hills sparse with trees. It was beautiful because the roads were narrow, the place was so green, and the houses were so scattered. The only people I saw while I was there were old men who would look at me and shake their heads. Maybe shaking heads has a different meaning in Scotland than where I'm from. Where I'm from if you do that it means you don't understand and don't like something, but maybe there it means you think its cool. Or maybe those old Scottish men thought it was silly to be out bike touring.

Although probably most of the people who saw me ride by them when I was in Europe didn't even know I was bike touring because I was carrying so little with me.

After about four hours of riding through the pleasant undulating treelessly lush Scottish countryside I came up on Hadrian's wall and did the little sign-led tour. It was made my the Roman Emperor Hadrian in about 60 AD to keep the Scots away from Britannia. It stretched all the way across the island. The wall looked very well built and didn't look two thousand years old. I walked through the area where there was supposed to have been a little settlement.

I stood atop the wall and looked north, trying to imagine what it must have looked like back in the time of the Romans. One thing is for sure, no Scotsman could have been able to ride up there without being seen, because it was all treeless and the wall was up on a kind of ridge.

 


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Holland
Summary

The boat ride was nice. It was the biggest boat I had ever been in and had a disco and a movie theater. I saw Mr. Been. I slept on the couch and arrived in Rotterdam, Holland the next morning. I was excited to be in a country where they didn't speak English.

I rode for a long time until I finally got to the center of the city where I promptly started asking people where the hash bars where. I asked an old woman and she gave me directions to a hash bar as if I was asking where any other place was, which I had a chuckle to myself about. I bought a stick of hash about a third the size of a gum stick for about 15 bucks, and bought a soda can and smoked up on a park bench near the road. It was cool to smoke weed in the middle of the day outside with cars driving by. I later found out that smoking outside is illegal. I got really stoned and was quiet happy to see that the bikers had their own roads, and started riding down south.

It didn't take me long to realize that having a separate road for the bikes and being stoned meant that it was really difficult to keep track of were I was going because they kept winding around and going their own way. I lost track of the bike trail at one point and started riding on the highway, but just about every single car was honking at me so I got off and made an effort to find the bike path.

I had dinner at a place and noticed that they don't use ketchup with their French fries, but mayonnaise. After that dinner I went to sleep in the trees between the bike path and the road and listened to the radio. I noticed that they liked Tina Turner there, and half of the words in their advertisements were in English. I really liked the music there, it sounded like ABBA music, with lots of happy up-beat beats. I really liked riding through Holland because there were lots of animals everywhere, and because the bikes had their own road.

The riding was really peaceful. It wasn't too rare to sea houses with deer, chickens, dogs, sheep, cats, and birds all in the same small backyard. They really use their space well. In the area between the highway and the houses, instead of having just a grass patch they had a heard of sheep. This place is a lot more densely populated than England. It really did seem like it was one great big city. I only remember one point where there was no neighborhood connected to another neighborhood. It was in a forest that the bike path went through where there were people everywhere riding bikes and out on hikes. It was in this forest where I noticed a church tower in the distance and realized that was the center of a town. Every town had one of those church towers marking the center.

It took me about five days to get across Holland. I crossed into Belgium at night; and immediately knew when I was in Belgium because the bike path suddenly disappeared and the constant neighborhoods were replaced by uninhabited land.

Journal
9-13-97

 

 

I forgot about the time change and was the last person out of the ferry as I slept through the docking. I indulged myself on the ferry by drinking a bottle of wine and watching a movie. Even though I haven't ridden very hard the last couple days my legs are beat and I feel kind of sick. If I am queasy at the end of tomorrow I will take the next day off completely.

I bought a stick of hash in Rotterdam today. They smoke it with tobacco here in joints. The guy who sold it to me said it is too hard on your lungs without it. I think it is the other way around.

It is very awkward when half the people here don't know English. They speak a dialect of German that has a lot less "sh" and "ch". It is definitely it's own language though.

I had a hard time figuring out how the road systems are like here. The bikers and scooters literally have their own roads that get you to your destination along entirely different paths than the cars which use freeways to get from town to town. It seemed that this country is like one giant city with all the cars and buildings connected without any apparent greenbelts between the metropolitan centers.

It is really cool that cyclists have their own roads. A lot of young people have scooters on the bike paths. This country is definitely different than England. I thought England used their space frugally with a lot of their space being used for farms and such; but these people spare almost no space at all. Almost all of the grass that separates the condos and houses from the highways and roads is used as pasture for goats, and there are horse pastures and farms smack dab in the middle of the city. I love it!

I had a hard time finding my way around at first because the signs for places are different for the bikes than the cars and I was looking at the road signs instead of the bike path signs and not realizing that there are lots of paths going different places. I have learned now and am sure I will like this system more as time passes. It sure is taking me a long time though. I was getting lost right after being reoriented by someone. I must have asked 15 people for directions today over a distance of only about 20 miles.

It seems like most of the young people here know English and most of the old ones don't. I am looking forward to getting a French phrase book and communicating with people in France in their language. My plan is to ride to Luxembourg through Belgium, and then go to Paris. I feel like I should go there because I have heard so much about it. If I am still in the Netherlands where the bike paths are good when the full or near full moon is here, I want to ride all through the night. I have never ridden all through the night by myself before. Passers by don't seem to smile as much here as in England, but I can tell they are just as content and kind. Some people I ask directions from tell me in their language which I don't understand a lick of, but I understand their gestures and the names of places and roads and ideas of distances they tell me.

I definitely over did the candy and weed today and the drinking last night. People are really loud at this bar I am at. The group that is my age isn't, but the 40-50 year old group are yelling really loud; which is strange. Two people brought dogs in here, which is two more than I have ever seen in a bar before.

The neighborhoods near the canals are about 5-10 feet lower than the water level of the canals. The bike paths are on top of the banks which is cool because you can see over all the houses to the cathedrals that mark the center of the towns.

The people are so much louder in this place than I have ever seen. It is definitely like I am in another country. A man just came to me and asked me a few questions and talked to me in his broken English for a couple minutes, and then returned to his bar seat and bought me a coffee. I asked him if they speak German and he said they speak Holland. My plan is to ride to the southernmost point in Holland because I like these bike paths, and then go into Belgium and buy a map and get there currency and stay long enough to get a taste of it before I go to Luxembourg.

Stuff is about the same price here as in America. I lost my map of Europe today. I don't know what happened to it. That is the first thing I have lost on this trip. I don't want to have to buy another one. I will just rely on the maps of individual countries. I need to stretch more. My muscles are sore and as tight as can be. I think I could use more sleep but for the first time in my life I am having trouble staying asleep in the morning, which is exactly what I prayed so long for, so I am not complaining. I have always had a problem sleeping in even when I'm not tired. It is the only time of day that I can really relax. So far I have been easily finding places to sleep and not worrying about people seeing me in the morning. I am near trees now that I plan on sleeping in. Luckily there haven't been any torrential rain storms yet. My bag gets wet every night from perspiration from the blanket and bevy sack, and down bags don't like to be wet. But I have had chances to dry it out on the boat and that ladies house. When it gets too wet I will take time out at a laundry mat and dry it off.

9-14-97

I got up late today and patched my thermarest, got stoned and stretched. After I rode and had lunch a guy helped me phone home. I rode down some more on these paths which are so hard to negotiate, but it is so cool that we bikers have roads all to ourselves. I woke up sore and weak but feel fine now at the end of the day. It is cool that this country has a bike system but the paths take so many twists and turns and I don't have a compass so I don't always know where I am going. It is hard to cover a lot of ground in one day with these paths going every which way... oh yeah and I'm stoned off my ass all the time.

Off to Belgium tomorrow. It seems like most of the people (from riding these paths) are old men. All the people ride around on three speed cruisers or scooters, who also get to ride on the bike paths. People love to give directions to me here, today I asked an old man on a bike where the way to Maastricht is, and he had me follow him a quarter mile up to a bridge and then showed me the way to the path that runs right next to the canal all the way to Maastricht. I got bored and got off it but got lost again. I still made it to Maastricht at five though. Today I bought five rolls of film, three blank tapes for recording, and maps of Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. I will need one of Germany also if I am going there, which I plan on.

I learned a lesson on Map buying today. I went into a book store and asked the woman to get me a map of Belgium and France, and she gave me maps of parts of the countries. The part of France was so small that it is useless to me, and I paid seven bucks for it. The woman should have known better also, but she was in a rush closing up. I will just buy another map in a gas station in France. I need to buy a French-English dictionary also. I have been told that French people don't like to speak English.

Tomorrow will be the last day that I will be stoned because it is illegal in all places but Holland. I am glad I had this time to ride stoned in another country, but I much rather doing it long term sober because I have my goals more in order. When I ride sober I don't take as much time out to eat munchies, and don't bust my body with sweets and smoke, and I can think clearer. The hash here is very good and 12 bucks got me a lot, probably the equivalent to an eight ounce of kind nuggits, but which costs 40 dollars in the states. Holland is cool!

About half the people here speak English. There are a lot of motor scooters around and interestingly they are primarily ridden by young people and the old people have bicycles which they ride very slowly taking their time. This is a loud country. They speak fast and seem to interrupt each other a lot on the radio, in cars, and at the restaurant, and bars tend to play their music loudly. There are many different nationalities of people here.

Over the last two days I have experienced for the first time what it is like to take too many pictures. I bought film today and before I knew it had taken 10 pictures.

I want to know how they made the canals. The water is like 20 ft. higher than the land, all the way down to Maastricht and the boarder with Belgium.

I want to go to a country where the exchange rate is better. I have a feeling it is basically the same all over Europe. I have 200 more pages left on Esoteric Heeling; then I will read the new testament, which is like another 600 pages. While I was reading the book I just came to another decision, and that is to spend my evenings in rural places because that will reduce the chances of my stuff being stolen off my bike while I'm inside, and I will be close to a place where I can sleep.

I am in the dead center of the town of Maastricht in Southern Holland. The first time I have spent time at night in the middle of the city. I will have to ride a long way before I hit terrain suited for camping. I have had perfect luck so far finding places to stay. It is harder at night because you can't see what might be near.

I feel good now; and even though I will be up at least until midnight, I want to get up at like 6:30 tomorrow. I think pushing by body to the brink of exhaustion after I have completely recovered is a good idea, because I will know where my limits are (how much sleep I need as apposed to how much I can ride and read and write.

I feel fortunate there is nothing that could distract me but that is just for now. I want to start another dream journal, but I haven't been remembering my dreams well lately because of all the weed I have been smoking.

Being in the world alone where they don't speak my language, I can find myself in the context of the world and not my bubble because I am kept at enough of a distance from others that they won't affect me by the way they see it.

Marijuana is an interesting drug. I want to write about it some more in the future when I am not smoking it. It is interesting that a drug that opens you up to an expanded consciousness also makes you content in your own little world, and then makes you self conscious. Why does it make you self conscious? Only when you unconsciously expect people to be critical of you; but when you don't thought it doesn't. I am at a point now that I don't compare counties to America, just countries to each other.


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Belgium

It didn't take me long to get to the first town where I decided to look for a place to camp. I went to a neighborhood filled with unfinished houses and chose one to sleep in. The next day I started south towards Luxemburg and had to get used to sharing the roads with the cars again. I was a little apprehensive about it so I was looking in the mirror at every car that came up to me, and I noticed that there is a difference in the way cars pass me between here and America. In America the cars don't slow down when they pass you, and they don't swerve either; they just come up and pass really quickly. But in Belgium they come up fast and behind you like they are going to hit you, and then suddenly slow way down and give you plenty of room.

9-16-97

I had a very interesting day today. I got up at six thirty because I slept in a house being built and didn't want the workers to find me there the next day. It looked on the map and from my eyes that there would be no patch of trees for me any where. I rode until nine when the banks opened and exchanged money. I had about four dollars in change that I couldn't exchange, so I need to remember from now on to spend all of my change before I leave each country. Belgium uses Franks and there are 5776 franks to 320 guilders and about $160 to the 320 Guilders as far as I know. I spent a shit load of money today also. I bought tire liners to prevent flats.

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Luxembourg

Luxemburg was pretty much the same as Belgium to ride through in the beginning, and then it got really hilly. I noticed that most of the country was clear cut hills and it was pretty sparsely populated. That makes it kind of a dismal country. The people spoke French just as in Belgium. I got my first experience of the stereotypical snappy french woman there though. I went into a bagel shop and bought a couple bagels and asked the woman if there was a bathroom around where I could fill up my water bottle and she pointed to a shiny door, so I walked back there and started to fill my water bottle up in the sink. Then she stormed in and started screaming at me in French which I didn't understand, so I quickly left with her still yelling at me. That was weird.

I rode across the country in one day and as I entered the city I was drafting behind a spandex biker and going quite fast. Not long after the guy broke off I started to climb up a hill to the left of a huge bridge spanning a big gorge. The center of the city was on the top of the hill. I locked up my bike and walked around the central pedestrian area looking for a place to pee. I found a public restroom where I had to pay a grumpy lady and it wasn't cheap. Then I bought a world map for twenty bucks which I found to be a lot.

I wasn't there long and rode just out of the city to a beautiful man made rowed forest with soft and smooth ground to camp. The next day I entered France.

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France
9-19-97

I slept next to the road last night at the bottom of a hill. The road was next to a tunnel that I would have stayed dry in if it had been raining. I drifted in and out of sleep all night long because my body was fully rested. I only rode about 25 miles that day. I am not keeping track of how many miles I am doing because my computer keeps resetting itself. I want to document as much as I can, so I will check the odometer at the beginning and end of each day.

I had a big dinner at a portable roadside cafe last night, and when I left the woman gave me three small loafs of bread.

I did pretty well financially with food today, but I spent 25 bucks sending back my Thermarest sleeping pad, a book, change, tape, sandals, and film. I could totally feel the weight difference when I left. I will only get food at supermarkets from now on.

People in France kiss each other a lot. Yesterday I saw women greet each other by kissing on the cheeks; then I saw a man and his son kiss on the lips. Just now I saw a woman come in and kiss every man in the place on both cheeks twice. That's cool.

I bought some pastries hoping the woman would let me use her toilet but she said it was private. Then in this bar-restaurant place I bought a beer and the man said he didn't’t have a toilet. I haven’t washed my face in two days. Tonight I will use the water in my bottles and my washcloth to wash my face at my camp sight.

There are a lot of homely looking people in this country, maybe there is in-breading, which wouldn't surprise me. They seem like they are in their own little world. They aren’t interested in me at all, and sometimes even seem annoyed. Some women make these ugly faces at me when I have trouble speaking French. They open their eyes wide and lift up their upper lip and sort of stick their tongues out. A man came in here a few minutes ago and shook everybodies hand including mine; and a man did that when he was leaving a bar in Holland. I feel a stuffy energy here and when I make eye contact with people they give me a blank stare instead of smile like they do in America, England and Holland. When I look at them they seem like they are run-down tired, bored and frustrated. They have a weird hair and clothing style here that I can’t pin on any decade; maybe the seventies most closely. I heard Paris is unique, will find out tomorrow. I have a feeling I won’t see a complete version of France unless I go to Paris. I wonder if this guy will kick me out if I don’t buy another beer like they did at the first cafe I went to in France.

The longer I am here the more I like Holland. Dutch or whatever their language is called rhymes and some of the phrases are the same as English except they roll out in a more rhythm in a funny laughable way. Disco, upbeat, poetic music is all they play. They are loud and interrupt each other a lot. They have cool canals throughout the country, and have bike paths everywhere. The Dutch are very friendly. There seem to be a lot of ethnic groups there.

There are a lot of ethnic groups in France also, which is surprising. I don’t like the language as much now that I am here. I can’t understand any of it and they speak fast and it is totally different than English. The cars give me room and yield here though. Overall the people are nice here just like anywhere else except for the fact that I can feel them critically judging me much more than the other countries I've been to, even before they know I am American. Maybe they can tell I'm American just by looking at me though.

The price of things is roughly the same here. When I rolled in here I was alertly awake, but this beer is putting me to sleep and I don’t want to get a coffee because they will probably charge me like three dollars for it.

Another peculiar thing about France is when you get a beer and coffee, they don’t come and pick the bottle up for hours. I can feel people looking at me more here than anywhere else. I have a feeling French people don’t travel much, but that could be me. I am barely staying awake right now. I wonder if I could get a coffee or call it a day. I love sleeping and usually don’t sleep while I am lying in bed reading because my mind can't slow down enough to allow me to fall asleep; it seems to want me to go to sleep while I am up writing or reading.

9-21-97

Last night I slept in a field inside a big highway intersection where the field meets a sparse grove of trees. You could totally see me from the road, but the cars are driving so fast no one would look over in my direction. The next day, yesterday, I rode into Paris. When I got 25 km away I had a feeling it was illegal for bikes to be on the highway, so I got off only to discover that no roads but the highway went into Paris. I asked some girls and then later a group of kids and they all said I should use the metro, but said it was legal at to ride my bike on the highway so I got back on. About 15 minutes later a cop pulled me over and said something, So I said I was American and he said “oh, American”, and told me to get off the highway at the next road. I started riding and then noticed he was following me. I worried he might give me a ticket, but when I got off he waved at me and took off on the highway. I tried to find a road in the direction of Paris and asked a guy where Paris was and realized it was futile to try to ride, so I paid 3 bucks for a ticket on the metro for the “Champs Ulysses”.

When I got to the center I went to the top of the Champs Ulysses and took some pictures. I had to pay ten bucks to weight in line for a couple of hours to go to the top of the Eiffel tower and take some pictures. Then I had dinner at a McDonalds that seats like 500 people and paid six bucks to take the metro about a half hour to the southernmost station, which was way out of the city. I only had to ride for about 10 minutes before I found a forested area to camp. It was on the side of a hill that looked like it just went up, so I camped about 20 feet from the road, too close because people could see me if they looked. That night I took my socks off because they were feeling itchy and I thought to myself, “am I going to be cold tonight?" because of this my feet could feel the wetness of the bottom of the bag and sure enough I was drifting in and out of consciousness all night because I was so cold. The next day I went to buy some shoe laces so I could tighten up the top of my sleeping bag. I kind of wish I kept my Therma rest because I could feel the roughness and coldness of the earth. I heard a dog barking harrowingly last night in the distance and thought it might be because of me, so I opened up my knife and thought to myself "maybe I don’t want to go to Africa after all".

Now I am thinking it isn’t a good idea, but I want to go to the rock of Gibraltar and ride down the coast of Portugal. I could go to Rome via Morocco and Tunisia and take a ferry to Sicily, or ride through Andorra and France.

I had market food this morning and then stopped in a restaurant which was the first thing I saw open for like 5 villages. I asked the garcon if I could have some water and he said I would have to buy something just like it was all over France. I can piss people off here just by asking for water. I was really thirsty so I asked for a sandwich and he said, "What kind?'' and I said turkey and he said "you are in France'' So I said ''well balony'', and he said "do you want a drink?" and I said no, and he said ''you usually get a drink”, so I said orange juice. When I got the bill it said 15, so I thought three bucks not bad an paid and went to my bike and unlocked it and he said you misread the receipt, it is 48, so I said sorry and paid it and rode off, and then I thought to myself "I paid nine bucks for a sandwich and a drink". I got ripped off. That was when I finally decided I didn't like France. Next time I will just buy a drink and then ask for water. They would have to be ridiculous to refuse that deal. Actually from now on if I am just thirsty and I can find a public toilet which there are very few of in this county, I will fill my water in their sinks. The waiter said mostly the water is good, but not always. I will take my chances. But from now on in order to avoid these French people from closing off their bathrooms and water and giving me weird looks and snapping at me I will try to only eat at Mcdonalds and pretend I'm in good ol America for a few minutes each day.

I am now in a McDonalds in Tours. I rode 145 miles so far today, the farthest by 35 miles on this trip. I definitely feel a little feverish from it. I am on the north side of this big town and will have to probably ride all the way through it and out the south side. A considerable distance if I am to find a super bomber camp sight, which I want to because I will probably want to sleep in tomorrow.

I will be at the Spanish boarder by the end of day after tomorrow. I will have to ride through the Pyrenees, which are going to be big. I don’t like this country because they are always trying to get money out of me, and stuff is more expensive here than in America. I think its kind of pathetic that they can't speak English here when most of the songs on the radio are in English. I can tell how they are in a little self righteous cocoon, feeling left out is probably why they don't like Americans and have all these archaic cultural selfish mores. The cars yield to me more here and give me more room than in American though.

I rode on the rural D roads today for the first time and loved it. I can really get into a rhythm when there are no cars to constantly distract me. I am looking forward to my time on them tomorrow. If I liked the people in this country more I would take my time and ride on the rural roads the whole way. The old rural people here are seriously homely looking and don’t smile at me at all. I think one of them yelled at me to slow down today.

This morning I saw about a hundred bikers, all older, and only one female, riding sporadically within a 20 mile area. I also saw about 5 carriages of what I thought might be Amish people and took a picture of one. I also took pictures of Napoleons get away castle in Douron (I think that is what it is called) where all the Amish people are. The castle, the Moab, was huge and it looked like it suffered a battle.

The younger people in the McDonalds are real nice about getting me water and don’t make me feel like a spectacle, so I like to go here, my American Oasis, as much as possible.

I had a dream last night that I was I think in France hanging out near a restaurant in a rural area with green grass and Vanessa Meyers was on a bridge and we were crossing and she said “I think I will jump off this", and jumped off and fell about 30 or 40 feet to the grassy bottom.
While she was falling, which was a long time, I thought "oh no", she is going to be hurt", but after her hard impact landing she got up unhurt and came back to us. We were all, "Wow, you are amazing, that was at least 35 feet", and she said "oh no big deal" and went into the restaurant with the other girls we were with who I don’t know. That is all I remember.

I woke up in the morning to two men talking across the street on the other side of the fern-strewn fence that I couldn't’t see through, but cars were driving by and could totally see me if they looked over, so I go up and left even though I wanted to sleep in. I looked up and saw that there were terraces just up the way that I could have slept on no problem, so I will scout more from now on. Another lesson I learned today from that water episode from the snooty waiter was to ask how much something costs before I buy it so they don't rip me off. I could have had another Big Mac meal and a half for sure. I am not cold and will get a good nights sleep tonight.

I have such an opposite feeling about McDonalds as I did a couple years ago when I thought it was just another multinational corporation. But it is so convenient and ensures that you don’t get ripped off and is priced well and the food is actually not bad at all, and they are always easy to be in. Now I think efficient multinational corporations like this are good, they just have to use their power for good instead or raping the earth. I dished for that sandwich and orange juice, oh well, a lesson I needed to learn. I will sleep inside the survival blanket tonight in the rain suit.

9-22-97

I got up pretty early this morning. I don’t have that all too familiar feeling like I need to sleep in. I bought breakfast at a local supermarket at 8:30 and had a big breakfast and stretched and started riding at about 11:00. I tried to get on the intracity road but got lost and had to find my way back to it; finally getting going at about noon.

I was extremely tired today; on the verge of a fever, so I stopped riding at about 3:45, after 75 miles. I am in the northern end of another big city now so I will have to ride for a while to find a place to sleep.

I am in a McDonalds now. I looked in my calendar to find I was supposed to call my mom yesterday, so I went to a phone and couldn't’t figure it out, so I will either wait until I am in Spain or buy a phone card. I will probably make it to Spain in a couple days. I will try to call later tonight, maybe the phone lines are tied up.

I just figured my finances. If I spend 20 bucks a day from here to the end of the month I will have spent about a thousand bucks, with 224 for extra expenses that I didn't’t foresee. I was just reading the bible and it is good.

Europe is definitely more expensive than America. England and France are about equal, with Holland slightly less and Luxembourg more and Belgium little less than Holland as far as I can tell. For example, a McDonalds meal in France (France is more expensive than England) with a sunday, burger, fries and a drink is about $7.50, which is a lot. I have been eating at restaurants too much; my habit of having big breakfasts in supermarkets will help a lot. Spain and other countries will be less expensive.

9-23-97

I rode 109 miles today. I slept in until about 8:30 this morning because I was beat yesterday. I felt fine today and have a feeling I will be fresh for tomorrow. I breezed into this town at 5:17 and saw a sign that said McDonalds and figured I might as well make it 3 days in a row.

There was a deviation today so I got some good time on D roads. I am in Saints tonight. I saw signs that said ''camping'' and I checked it out, but it closed eight days ago for the winter. It was nice and warm last night in my nice campsite inside a ditch near the highway shielded from sight. I had some nice dreams last night but I cannot remember them.

I had some nice thoughts while riding today. The Bible is good to ponder. I am circling the good parts and reading it so slowly (only 30 pages yesterday) that I might be working on it for a long time, like months, which is weird to think about considering the copy I have is so small.

When I stop and ask directions people are nice, but they don’t know a lick of English which is weird because most of their music is American. They seem very nationalistic in a positive sense, but stuck in the old European train of thought in another sense which I can't even begin to explain. I can feel the workers looking at me here in McDonalds. I wonder if they will kick me out, probably not. I detect a very strong feeling in the air that these people know they are in their own world that is closed off to the cultural leader of the world, America. This county seams less important to me while I am here than it did when I was studying French back home when it seemed very romantic, stylistic and beautiful. Now it is just another weird country.

I can feel that when I eat processed food I don’t feel good, like when I eat potato chips with preservatives or these sugar biscuit crackers. Candy, soda and McDonalds food doesn't make me feel bad though. I rode 109 miles today but by looking at the map I didn't go very far, but I don’t care.

I need to balance the reading and writing with the riding, and make sure I don't keep physically burning myself out which I have been doing a lot of so far in this trip. If I run out of stuff to read and write I will ride all day long every day. Plus, I will probably be strong enough to do that in a month or so. I am not immersing myself in the culture much, just riding, reading, writing and keeping to myself. I don’t want to stay in this country any longer than I have to.

The bible is such a good book it is hard to believe that people can twist its truth. These principles are so simple and straight forwardly put; like to be more polite to people than they are to you no matter what. Being here reading and writing I get a feeling from people that instead of being like "look at that smart guy" it is like "look at that weird guy". It probably has something to do with this bright green spandex ski suit I have on. These people don’t make as much eye contact with me. I find that kind of strange.

On second thought I do feel a little tiredness in me. I am just now getting into the French music and will record the songs I like. I want to record a direction asking or conversation with someone, I haven’t done that yet.

I have been so blessed with weather so far, its been great. There hasn't’t been a single rainstorm yet, and there have been sunny skies ever since I got to the mainland. It was overcast a lot in England but it never rained. I spent less than 100 Francs today.

I don’t want to buy any more processed food. It gives me a headache and I feel dehydrated. I want to write down everything I think of. I have noticed that stuff gets cheaper as I go farther south in this country. I think I am being too harsh on the French. They are nice people.

9-24-97

I didn't ride very far today, only like 70 miles. I got up at 8:12, had a Mcbreakfast and took off early. I had like 36 miles under me by the time I am usually off. I think I like this way of starting early better. I don’t need such big breakfasts, they just waste my time. I could have ridden like twice as far today if I wanted to, but I did my laundry instead, learned how to call mom and got two big mac meals and a bag of candy.

I am still reading the Bible which I like a lot. I don’t want to go back home until I can ride all day long with out a single negative thought. Mike and mom think I am going too fast but I am just right. This is the fourth night in a row in a McDonalds; I am on a roll.

People honk a lot when they come up behind me to pass which is nice. They don’t honk here like they do in America with a long honk, but with a series of short honks. They yield more to bikes here also, but bikers are expected to stop at stop lights. They do it even when there are no cars coming, which I have heard before somewhere not too long ago and here I see it is true. I am learning to comprehend French more.

Eric says women are more subordinate here, but I don’t detect that. I do detect that sexual relationships are more settled in here than in America.

9-25-97

I got up at about 8:30 this morning. I was awake before and even though it was warm enough to immediately put on my shorts, but it wasn't light enough for me to get up. Today I had breakfast at McDonalds for the second morning in a row. After breakfast I got bread and fruit at the supermarket next door because I wasn't full and I am going to go to another Mcdonalds for the fifth night in a row. I wonder if there are McDonalds's in Spain and if I will keep the tradition alive. I love knowing I can go to a place and get a meal that I know won’t be a rip off and I can have a well light place to read and write until eleven at night. These burgers are good also because they are nice and filling and taste great. Two years ago I was slamming McDonalds because they were a multinational corporation and used beef, but these burgers are half soy and the beef is filling. Beef isn't a good thing to eat too much of because cows use up so much land that can be used more efficiently growing other things.

My bike computer didn't work today but I rode well over a hundred miles. I didn't get the earliest start and lost my way a little, but I rode flat terrain on smooth roads and a highway. The highways really help you cover serious miles, so overall they are as good as the back roads that go the same way as far as I am concerned. I will try to set a balance between the two, maybe half and half.

I got another flat today; from glass this time instead of a thorn. It also ripped a big tear in my tire, but not so much as to risk the tube coming out. I feel kind of beat today. I rode very fast, usually averaging 22-25 mph . I wonder if I will be tired tomorrow. My days of exhaustion seem to be behind me. I tried to take a picture of the road signs in Bordeaux that say where stuff is, but the battery was dead. I should have bought another one yesterday. This battery only lasted two roles. I haven't kept track but I think I have had about a half dozen flats so far this trip.

This culture of paying for something before hanging out there does annoy me, and is overall bad because it instills paranoia and a selfish attitude. Maybe their just treating me like this because I'm American though. I am getting good at writing fast, it is great. I can write faster than I can think right now. Maybe that's not quite such a good sign. I sat at a place today that served coffee and such near the supermarket in an indoor shopping mall and the woman asked me what I wanted so I had to go. Maybe I should just tell them I'm American and in America people can sit down at places without buying anything. That's not true though; I'm just being overly frugal. I could at least get a coffee but they are so expensive and all I want to do is sit down.

I did 40 pushups in a row this morning and stretched. I want to do 200 a day, but I am too rushed. Maybe I will remember to do more tonight. I want to be able to do a hundred in a row.

I was thinking how auspicious my fathers death was today. He died at 4:20 in the morning two days before Wyndham was set to leave, less than a week after my birthday which he was conscious for. It was neatso how my mom knew exactly when he was about to go and got us. But I couldn't stand to stay and he was very warm, so I left and he died. I wish I stayed. It makes me feel sick I couldn't be there but my mom was. While I was thinking this I thought about how very much he loved me, and would do anything for me. He gave me most of his money and was more happy and distressed than me when good and bad things happened to me.

Food is very expensive at stands and gas stations. I paid 80 cents for an apple at a total gas station today which is an American chain I think. The only fast food chain I can detect here is Q-quick which I went to in Belgium. In England the only one is the little chef, which has a big breakfast of cereal, two slices of toast, bacon, egg, tomato and E.G. for 5 pounds which is like 8 bucks. The bacon in England isn't as fried, small and hard as it is in America. I like it more in England, even though it is pure blubber. Speaking of blubber, on me, I think this will be my last segment of life where I won’t have to watch the fat in order to not get a spare tire.

I did another 50 curls with my handle bar bag today. I want to be able to do a hundred at one time. I am not craving things as much now which is good. I don’t crave to be stoned and eat ice cream and drink alcohol, which is great. I am not being distracted much at all.

What looked like wilderness on the map turns out to be a big tree farm; fields of full grown trees as far as the eye can see and patches of clear cut. The trees look healthy. I have a feeling of trust for the forest service now. I feel like I have turned 180 degrees since my dready days of environmentalism

I would probably be going like 1, 2 or 3 miles per hour faster if I had my road bike, but flats would be more of a problem, especially in third world countries. I think I will be glad I took the mountain bike.

I heard "many rivers to cross" twice so far in Europe. They also like that song "I'm a bitch I'm a mother, you don't wan't it any other way" by Natalie Imbruglia or somebody.

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Portugal
10-2-97

I rode my first day in Portugal today. I like Portugal; the people are really friendly. They come up to me and ask if I need directions and honk, wave and flash their lights while holding their thumbs up to me. It is cheap here also; a beer at a bar is 66 cents. I will have spent less than ten bucks before the day is out.

There is trash all over the place here. I saw their trash compacting factory. They must have trouble digging deep holes in this rocky landscape that doesn’t seem to produce anything beyond these bitter crab apple treas and these other treas that are planted all over the place.

I saw like a half dozen castles today. I bet it has something to do with the fact that I am near the boarder. There seems to be a castle on the top of every hill here; and not little castles, big war castles.

I had a peaceful day today, mostly rolling hills. I don't know how far I went today, probably around a hundred miles. It looks like I will be at the boarder again at the end of tomorrow. There are a lot of nice cars here and no apartment buildings like in Spain. People live in houses here.

I took a lot of pictures today. The Portuguese language isn’t really like Spanish, there are too many Z's and 'gz's and sh's 'guzes'. It doesn’t really sound like the limited Brazilian Portuguese I have heard. It is interesting to think that such a small country made a language used by such a large country.

I camped in the trees next to the big road in the middle of town like ten feet from the wall of someone’s house. This dog was barking a large part of the night from his yard about 30 feet from me until his throat was sore because I think he smelled me.

Portugal is dirty. There is trash everywhere and I saw two dead dogs on the road today and. I like it that all these towns are situated on the tops of hills and they keep up on the paint on their houses much better than the Spaniards even though their street lighting system and roads aren’t as good. There are not many radio stations here; mainly just talk stations just like in Spain. People here are starer's also. Little kids looked at me like I am from another planet, but they are cool, mellow, content and nice here as far as I can tell.

I drank one 40 ounce beer last night and was buzzed for like the whole night. It was so warm last night I that didn’t need to have my sleeping bag over me. I was strong today and my stomach seems to have shrunk.

It will be nice but weird to go to Gibraltar and hang out in a place that speaks English. Oasises are always strange and cool. I should be there in three more days. There are a lot of flies on my legs now, probably from the trash problem. I would like to ask them what is up will all this trash, but I don’t want to offend anyone and they don’t speak my language anyway.

The people here seem to be of the same race as Spaniards, which is no surprise. I have no desire for booze, drugs or ice cream, although I physically need coffee to keep my eyes open every night. Time flew last night, before I knew it it was eleven. I found out why there was shit and condoms all over the place I camped last night; that was where all the big assed hookers strut their stuff. They didn’t even try with me though even though I was sitting right there, maybe because they noticed I was reading the Bible. These bar tenders are standing at the doorway looking at the women.

That would be so awesome if I rode down and up Africa. In theory it would take 5-6 months. It just occurred to me that the stamps I bought in England might work in Gibraltar. I am excited about kicking back in Gibraltar. This place is cheap, coffees are 46 cents.

10-3-97

Well I rode my little tush off today. Pretty much almost 12 hours from sunrise to sunset. I don’t now how many miles it was though because my computer goobered on me again. I got low blood sugar this afternoon, so I bought soda, candy, donuts and sugary muffins; then got queasy from all the sugar. I need good food tonight, which I will. This little doodad meal I have before me is just over a buck .

At the rate I am going I will be in Gibraltar tomorrow, it will be a long day though.

I saw a crazy castle made on a really steep terrace today. I had a nice camp sight in a tree field on soft dirt about 100 yards from the road. The quiet camp sites are the best. I will find one of those tonight. I am in a city called Huelco right now. I feel kind of queasy and sleepy from all the riding I did. I got to sleep late last night, like 1:00, because I wasted a lot of time trying to call home and was hungry so I bought a pizza. Then I rode out of town which I want to make more of a point of doing; however it looks like now I will be hoteling it in Morocco, which sounds really nice. It will be cool to have a bed in a warm, quiet, and peaceful place where I can read and write, and take my time getting up without worrying about anyone seeing me. After being in Portugal Spanish peoples Spanish sounds more Portuguese and less like the Spanish I am used to. Did something happen to me?

As soon as I crossed the river that divides the two countries the landscape immediately turned green with vegetation from the rocky desertness of Portugal, which made me think that maybe Spain’s irrigation system is better. It just occurred to me that I haven't gotten to sleep before 12 yet this trip. I might shack it up early tonight, seeing how there is no coffee here. I am tired, got less than 7 hours of sleep last night; haven’t done that yet in Europe.

The Bible is getting kind of annoying. John is all about the grandeur of Jesus, and the Apostles is all about Magic, very little real meat. People dress really dull in Portugal and there are a lot of nuns who dress all in black. There are a lot of old men on old scooters with funky helmets. I saw two old men on old three speed bikes, and one cyclist. There were a lot of hills today, one very beautiful. I should have taken a picture. I think this is the longest day I have had this entire trip and I can feel it. This one beer I got for less than a buck knocked me on my ass. I did 80 pushups and 60 curls today; my best yet.

 

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Gibraltar
10-6-97

Here I am in Gibraltar. Thank god I can hang out for a bit, by body is wasted. This place isn't very big, but it has a lot: a zoo, cable car, beaches, car dealerships, museums and everything else a city would have, not bad for a place with the population of about Durango.

It is nice to be in a place that speaks English. I will just stay on this Rock until I pay my 18 quid for the ferry ride to Morocco. I can stay at a youth hostel here for 10 quid a night, about 16$, which I will definitely do the night before I go to morocco. But after I dry my bag I want t ride around the rock and see if I can find a place to camp, which I think is bad.

It rained like crazy last night for the first time on this trip. I have been out doors for a month, not bad. My bag got really wet but it was already wet and I didn't tuck the lip of the survival blanket under me so it caught the rain and funneled it inside. But other than that I think it does a good job keeping me dry. I had horrible insomnia because of the two coffees I had, but I feel rested pretty much now. I read some of the bible last night while I was lying in bed in the rain, which is easy because it is so small. I wanted to listen to the radio but it got wet and no sound came to the earphones. Two dogs ran up and saw me this morning and got scared and ran away. One of them started barking while running home as if saying, "look what I found". This morning, as with every morning, I was surprised by how visible I am to people driving on the road. I want to take a shower with soap. I haven’t had one since England. I would like to go to a gym an do it there. I bought soap and anti itch crème, mosquitorepellent, and multi vitamins today.

I toured the "upper rock" of Gibraltar today. This is a very interesting place. There are monkeys all over the place up higher. It is amazing how agile they are, and they jump on our backs. They’re fun to watch. They just hang out and have fun; either grooming each other, playing with tourists or eating. They are so loose in their movement when they jump from place to place it looks like their bodies are wet rags, and a lot of the time when they jump on the ground they roll a couple times as if they are accentuating a fall. They do the same thing when they jump on trees, they don’t just jump on the tree, they stick to it. They take a while to slow down by falling off of it.

I saw a big 9.5 inch gun perched on top of the rock on the south side facing Africa. The gun is about 1,000 feet above sea level, and I can picture that thing having all power over the straight. Africa looks like it is only a couple of miles away.

Then I saw the caves the British made, it is about a quarter mile long and has like 20 miles of tunnel and has like 20 cannons pointing out of caves toward the main land.

I saw the natural caverns with stalagmites and stalagtites that the ancient Europeans thought lead to Hades, and had underground caverns leading to Africa which is how the monkeys got here. Then I saw the Moorish castle, built in 711 AD.

The roads here are extremely steep, the steepest I have ever seen.

 

Stuff is really expensive here, but it is cool to be in a place that speaks English. I am psyched that I found a good camp sight here. It is in an old abandoned cave that used to be a part of a Cliff side apartment. It is probably hundreds of years old.

My body was hot today, I can really feel the lack of sleep, and my liver is sore today. I tried to call mom again but she wasn't there. I will try later tonight. This place is like its own country; they have their own pounds and straps, that is weird. I heard Scotland has their own currency also. The cool thing is when it rains I stay dry and can sleep in as long as I want, but I have been getting up early lately. I don’t know if I will leave my stuff there during he day though. It doesn't’t look like anybody has been there in a long time, but you never know.

10-7-97

Tuesday. It rained last night and I got up and rode through town in the pouring rain . But it stayed nice and dry in my camp sight. I stashed my stuff there. I feel so blessed that I have that camp sight for the duration of my stay here. My back tire I noticed is worn down to the string in six places, so I hope they have slicks here. I read for a bit in the library today and bought 3 coffees because I was so sleepy. That would be nice if it is sunny tomorrow so I can nap in the sun on the beach and pump it. I read until late last night because of the insomnia from the coffees, so from now on I will try to have coffee earlier in the day.

I am eating my meals in the Safeway here because the food is nice and cheap. I can have the "all day breakfast" with one bacon, two sausages, and one egg and one toast and a coffee for two Pounds. Last night I went to a small place and got just fish and chips for 4.50. I got a beer too which just slowed me down, I have no desire for alcohol. My liver is sore today, I wonder why. The English people here on Gibraltar say "yes" when they are ready to serve you. People in Europe don’t take your used dishes away until you leave, and they all use umbrellas.

10-8-97

I had a dream last night that I was in Madrid staying at a very Rich woman’s building in the middle of the city. I was working for her with other people and she said, "Get one of these over there," she meant "get one of my workers over to the end of that tunnel'', to do some digging or something. Before that I had a dream that I was in Durango and went on a (only it wasn’t Durango) river trip on the Animas just up the mountains from Durango. I was with Claire and Vinnie and some other people. There was really good energy. I like Durango a lot.

I started outlining rules in the Bible last night and had a good night sleep even though it took a while for me to get to sleep. It is nice and sunny now so I will go to the beach after I do laundry. Peace out.

11-16-97

I had a cool dream last night. I was in an imaginary town that Judah lived in and they were having a party that started at 6:00 in the morning. And I went and was hanging out with my friends who were drinking and they had like two beers and I felt like I should drink so I had a beer. Then I got hungry so I went across town a couple blocks to a fast food place and got a donut or something at Duncan Donuts or something with some other guys who were foreign. Then we went back to the party by way of indoors and by now all the freaks were there having migrated from their parties. I remember saying "Here are the freaks" they were tattooed Mohawk dyed haired drugies.

After Morocco re-telling

When I came back from Morocco I stayed in the youth hostel until I sent my bike back. I remember seeing a movie with an old traveler who was staying there also, but I can't remember right now which one it was. As soon as my bike was off I was on a bus for Granada.

 


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Morocco

When I rolled into Morocco I was immediately greeted with a rude awakening of how they are there. I gave the guy at the exchange booth a certain amount of money and told him how much it was, but made the mistake of not counting it in front of him and he totally ripped me off. Then I rode into the town and noticed that all of the people were staring at me and I didn't feel entirely comfortable or safe. I got a room there and left the next morning.

I rode into another town and needed to buy something for my bike, so I got out my Arabic phrase book and tried to ask some guys on the street where a bike store was. They didn't understand me so I showed them my phrase book and they looked at it. Then another guy walked up with a boy and he told the boy to take me to a bike shop. I didn't realize at the time that the original guys walked off with my phrase book. The boy took me to a bike shop, but I forgot to tip him which I felt kind of bad about later. This was the first time I had been to a third world country since Mexico for ten days when I was like eight, and Mexico is more like the second world anyway. The bike shop was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The place I bought the stuff was just a hole in the wall about two feet by two feet. This town looked totally run down and neglected. It looked like hell actually. There were no shops or cafes or outdoor hang out areas. It was just just a bunch of big unpainted cement buildings and half cement-half dirt roads; and bored looking people walking around.

I road down south to begin my journey and stopped at a roadside gas station to get something to eat. There I saw a guy who talked to me in English. He told me Moroccans can all speak Arabic, French, and English. He was really friendly and outgoing, which I later realized was a super big trait about Moroccans, they are OUTGOING. I rode down some more and saw a young girl carrying a big pile of sticks on her back. I got off my bike to take a picture of her but she turned around and walked away from we so I just got a picture of her backside. I found a room on the top of a four story building in the first town I got to and had a look around at these third world buildings. They have a different system there where you can see the water tanks on top of all the buildings, and they all have flat roofs with terraces. I thought that was a good idea and wondered why it wasn't like that in the houses and buildings in the states. I went for a walk in the market place and saw how all the merchants have small booths and even some of them sit on the ground to sell their stuff. I remember I liked Morocco that day.

The next day I rode down to I think it may have been Rabat. I remember seeing big walls of the castle in the middle of the city, and realizing that all the towns I had been to in Morrocco had an old wall in the vicinity. Morocco used to belong to the French who built forts and castles around the country which eventually became the museums to these modern cities. Rabat was a big city, I think the second biggest in Morocco. I got a big room, nicer and more expensive than I wanted, but it was the cheapest I could find. It was in the city center on the corner of a block on the second floor.

I heard people yelling outside so I looked out of my window and saw a guy sitting on the ground yelling at a taxi driver who had apparently hit him. The driver was standing over him, and there were about fifteen people watching. I found it very odd that the guy just kept sitting down as he was yelling and didn't get up. He was obviously not hurt at all. That continued for about five minutes and I got bored and stopped watching and went for a stroll down town.

This was more of a city that the towns I was at before. There were people walking around and shops and restaurants. I didn't walk around much though as it was still pretty boring. I had a TV in my room and was watching the music video channel all night. The music videos totally cracked me up because they were so amateur. They were all filmed in video, and the stars didn't even seem excited to be in the video. I remember seeing one with a young girl who was doing some kind of American style imitation where she dances in the middle of a bunch of girls, but they weren't dancing in formation like in America. She had a baton she was swinging around and threw up in the air, but instead of catching it like they do at football games, she just kept dancing let it fall down right next to her. There was another video I saw that was a little more artistic of a guy sitting in a restaurant with his friends looking bored and singing something. The video opened up with him looking into the camera, and then it panned out and you realize he was looking in a mirror next to his booth. Then he went home and played with his dog. But that part of the video was really poorly done because the dog was obviously not his. The dog didn't look excited to see him at all and instead of petting it, he just smacked it upside the head a couple times and walked on. I don't remember much about the music, but I don't remember thinking it was that bad.

The next day I rode down through Casablanca. This was the most crowded city I had ever been to. It took a really long time to traverse because the traffic was so bad. At the red lights all of the scooters, who were about half of the automobiles, got on the sidewalk and tried to run the red lights just like I do on my bike; so I had to compete with them. I didn't feel safe there at all because a few times I heard people yelling out to me in an angry tone of voice, so I just rode as fast as I could pas them. When I got out of the city I continued down south on the highway, but a couple of cops pulled me off the road and told me it is illegal to ride on the highway. They asked me if it was illegal in the states and I said it was. I started riding on the smaller roads which was more pleasant anyway because I could see the beach and more neighborhoods and there were less cars to contend with. I remember seeing a lot of neighborhoods of large lined up stone houses near the beach. They were really strange looking though because none of the houses here painted and most of them looked uninhabited. There were quite a few of these neighborhoods. I thought at the time maybe it was some sort of government housing plan for the rich that fell through. I decided later though that that was just probably what the houses there were like.

The farther down the road I went the less I liked Morocco. I felt less and less safe, because literally every guy I came in contact with wanted me to get him to the states. I remember one guy I saw who ran a call center in the middle of nowhere. I could have sworn he said something like give me your money, like he was trying to mug me. So I said, ''What you want to go to the states? I can get you there''. And he got all excited and gave me his name and phone number. On another occasion when I was riding down the road, a man came running out of his house after me down the road screaming. ''Hey! stop! stop! stop!'' until I disappeared down the road.

I arrived in a town near the ocean on a hill next to a river. This was apparently an old French town because it was surrounded by an old colonial wall. I got a room in the center and went for a walk. I encountered an old French man who took me to his little restaurant. He had a life set up there. He said the woman working there was his wife, who served me one of their traditional teas. He must have been gay because he told me I should visit him in his house in Paris and bring young men with me. Then he insisted on going for a walk with me holding hands. He said Moroccan men walk down the road holding hands all the time. I decided to ablige him just because I'd never done that before. I sure did feel awkward though because I was still dressed in my full spandex bike suit.

After I parted ways with the strange old Frenchman a young girl approached me and invited me to her house. She led me down a dirt neighborhood path lined with brown two story apartment buildings that were fused together into one large building, with the occasional family shop in between. The area reminded me of the town in the planet Tatooine in Star Wars. She lived with her brother and older sister. The house was small; it just had a kitchen, living room, and bedroom. The energy about them was very strange. Her brother and sister welcomed me as if they were expecting me, and they fixed me a big Moroccan dinner. The way they eat dinners is quite strange. They make a huge piling plate of coos coos mixed with other vegetables, and everybody makes balls of it with in their hands to eat it. They offered me to stay at their house that night so I went to my hotel with the girl to get my stuff, but to my great surprise the people at the hotel didn't let her it. I didn't realize it at the time, but they must have thought she was a prostitute.

The next day I went for a walk down to the beach about a quarter mile away with the girl and her brother. The beach was beautiful. It was wide with white sand. I was surprised to see that we were practically the only people on the entire beach. I saw how the waves were big and told them they should open a surf board making business, but they didn't seem interested. The whole time hanging out with them was strange because they never had anything to say. I did all the talking, and if I hadn't, I don't know if there would have been any words exchanged at all. They were so uninterested in dialogue that I was wondering why they invited me to stay with them in the first place. That night they invited me to sleep in the bed in the one bedroom, which was the only bed in the whole house. They said they were going to sleep in the living room. I could hear them arguing in the other room in French, and from what I understood, the girls sister and her brother were trying to get her to come and seduce me so I would take her to the states. Then after about ten or twenty minutes of arguing, the girl came in and got on the bed and just kissed me on the lips. I told her that I wasn't going to marry her, but if she wanted to sleep with me that was OK. She said no, and I felt bad so I gave her a stupid speech in English about how America isn't all its cracked up to be. I told her some bullshit about how we all live in houses that look the same and we just work all the time, and about how her life is cool because she has all this free time on her hands to start a business of her own. In a way that part was true. Those people did have a great opportunity to start something great like make money making surfboards and getting those people into surfing. And that was just one example of the many business opportunities that exist. It seems like they just have a lack of imagination and motivation. It doesn't seem too unrealistic that someone in that country could loan a few bucks to somebody with a cool idea.

The whole experience of being with them and seeing how pathetic their lives were took my motivation away to ride around Africa and got me thinking about Italy and all the cool ruins there. I told them that I was going to come back though. I can't remember exactly why. It might have been because they were acting so weird I didn't trust them and thought they might do something bad like rob something from me or get me in trouble with the authorities. Or maybe it was just because I felt so bad about breaking their hearts by destroying their hopes of getting to the states. The girl and her brother insisted on seeing me off at the bus station in the next town over. Because they wanted to come with me, we had to take a taxi.

We went to the towns taxi yard where there were like 50 old Mercedes waiting to take people.The ordeal of getting our taxi was mind bogglingly confusing. I couldn't believe what was going on because there were so many taxis there to take people. What happened was we told one of the taxi drivers who was waiting there where we wanted to go and he told us how much, so we put my bike in the trunk. But by the time we were ready to get into the taxi a whole family had entered the taxi and the driver was getting ready to drive them away. So we reminded the guy of the agreement we had and that my bike was already in the trunk. He kind of stood there with a confused look on his face, then eventually told the family to get out, but they didn't want to because they thought they got there first. So we had to tell them that we were in fact there first and that we were putting my bike in the trunk when they arrived. After some deliberation they finally left. When they dropped me off at the bus station at the next town, I gave them money to take a taxi back to their home and they waved me off.

I had to make a transfer in Casablanca which was a total hell hole. The bus station was crazy too. I went out to get something to eat and a guy walked up to me trying to sell me hash. Then he said he just wanted to get me stoned for free. I was stupid and followed him into an old abandoned store or something about a block away where there was another guy there trying to sell me some. They closed the metal sliding door and a person walked by outside and tried to get in to save me because apparently he thought I had been abducted, but the gate was closed and he couldn't get in. I smoked a little with them and then told them I didn't want to buy any because he had originally told me he just wanted to get me stoned, but I should have because when I left the guy followed me and kept badgering me telling me I owed him money. I sat back down at the outdoor restaurant and the guy kept bothering me and the waiter was looking at me like I was a criminal. I finally gave the guy five bucks to make him go away. I went back to the bus station and then another guy came up to me and said he was a cop and told me I owed him thirty bucks so he wouldn't take me to jail for 24 hour interrogation. I told him I didn't have any and he said I obviously did because I was acting stupid and was stoned and shaking from fear. I was inside the station and felt safe enough so I told him to fuck off and luckily he buggered off. There was a really drunk guy who was trying to bother me so I ignored him and he eventually went away. While I was in the bus I was glad I didn't continue south and felt like I was in hell. Mind you, this was the first third world country I had been to so my negative feelings were related to the general problems that those countries have. They showed a movie about muslim dessert war lords on the ride back which was funny because it was so blatant steeped in battle and death. Just about every scene somebody got murdered. I guess in the end it wasn't that much different than the average hollywood action movie, it just looks a lot more ridiculous when it is in a low budget movie. When I got off the bus I went straight to the ferry station and waited for the ferry to come and get me out of there.

Later on I found that most of the people that had gone to Morocco hated the place too because they were harassed so much. I did meet a couple of American girls who loved it though because they had gone up in the mountains where the people are mellower.

 

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Monaco

I stopped off for a day in Monaco because it is a country and I wanted to rack up my country list. The hostel I stayed in was a medium size house and had a nice backyard with a view of the city. On my day there I walked around and didn't find a pedestrian center. I went to a Mcdonalds and paid 8 bucks for the Big Mac meal. I decided that Monaco was the most expensive place in Europe and that I should get all my food at the super market. I went to a supermarket and got some stuff including a grapefruit. When cashier saw my grapefruit I remembered that I had to weigh the fruit myself in France, so I grabbed it to take it back again, and she said ''un pies'', and I said, ''what?'', and she repeated herself and I said ''what?'', and then she got fuming mad and screamed at me in english: "You pay for it by the piece!!!" I remember thinking to: "ok, this country is independent, but these people are French".

After that I went to do a tour of the aquarium because it had a reputation for being really good, and it was. It had a lot of really colorful fish, but the most impressive thing I saw there was a real live reef. It didn't look like a rock at all like they do when they are dead, but was flowing like a colorful wig. The aquarium was in the kings old castle so I did a tour of it also. I stepped outside on the balcony and listened to part of a tour a woman was giving in English. At one point I remember her bringing to attention some hot construction workers across the way. I remember thinking that was a cool thing about French women.

That night I went to the casino with some Australian kids, but they were too young to go in, so I stayed with them and had some drinks on the pier.

I left the next day for Italy.

I wouldn't recommend visiting Monaco unless you like gambling. There's nothing there except big buildings and boats.

 

 
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Italy

The first place I went in Italy was Geneva where Cristopher Columbus was from. When I got off the train almost the first thing I saw was the house he grew up in right there in the middle of the city preserved with a large statue of him out front. I walked around and got some soccer shorts for like 30 bucks which I thought was ridiculously expensive.

Near the Columbus statue I went into a Pizza place for some pizza, which I had thought a lot about because pizzas where invented in Italy and were supposed to be good there. After I paid for it I went to sit down but the guy who sold me the pizza came up to me and said I had to pay more money. An Italian guy sitting there told me in English: ''In Italy if you want to sit down you have to pay extra, I know it's weird''. I think I paid the guy and sat down there. The pizza was good but different than in America. The pizzas in Italy are on a very thin soggy crust so you can't eat them like the thick American ones; you have to fold them over themselves. They are also very plain with very sparse toppings, but the cheese was good.

I took a bus many switchbacks up a hill to a hostel that was a dorm room for college students when school was in. I bunked in a big room with three American guys. The view of the sea from up there was beautiful.

The next day I took a train to Pisa because I wanted to see the famous leaning tower. Pisa is a very beautiful place. It has a river running through it with many ancient colorful buildings. The tower was a little smaller than I expected. It was undergoing renovation to keep it from falling over in the form of tons of cement blocks and cables attached to one side pulling it up. They surely could uprighted it, but they obviously got a lot of tourism from it because there were tourists all over the place, and there were about a hundred venders selling post cards, miniature leaning towers and tea shirts and such. Across from the tower was a beautiful and historic church from the same time period.

The next city I went to was Florence. I met a girl on the train who took me to a cool travelers hostel where I met a lot of other people who all ate together. It even had a little movie theater in the basement. It was here where I noticed that about half of the travelers I met in Europe were Australian.

Florence is one of the most historically significant European cities because of a family called the Benedicci who ran Florence during the Renaissance. Florence is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance, or the ''enlightenment'', which was a new interest in the artistic culture of the Roman empire that happened in the 14th century.

On my first day I saw the central cathedral which was mind blowingly elaborate in it's mosaics and statues hanging off the outside wall. The inside was beautiful also, with many side rooms dedicated to Catholic themes. Across from the church was a smaller octogon church that is the oldest building in the city, over a thousand years old. I also saw the museum in the old Benedicci mansion. It had many hallways and huge rooms filled with statues made by the likes of Leonardo de Vince and Michelangelo. I wanted to go in the museum that had the famouse sculpture of David, but it costed ten bucks so I didn't. I saw some replicas, but some travelers I talked to said it was incredibly beautiful and worth the money.

The next day I toured the walled in garden of the Bendichi family with an Australian guy who knew the history of the area well. The garden was absolutely huge and filled with lakes, gardens, and lined trees. Next to the entrance of the garden was another museum that was filled with more amazing artwork. What I remember most was sculptures that are objects carved within objects carved within objects. The museum had many of these object that were so amazing I couldn't even imagine how they were made. They obviously took an incredible amount of time to make. I think they were made by the catholic monks.

Florence is a very beautiful city. All the buildings are stone with red tiles, and the city is filled by Cypres trees. It also has a river running through it that is lined with coffee houses.

After a couple days in Florence I went to Rome. In the subway I met a couple of travelers who where going to a youth hostel so I followed them. This was another large hostel that had its own huge cafeteria. There I met the first Americans in my whole trip. I was very excited to come to Rome because I took three years of Latin in high school and knew the history of Rome.

My first day there I did a tour of the two thousand year old senate buildings which looked the same style and size as the government buildings in DC, and they were still in use! I also saw an old Castle from I think before Roman times. Then I did a tour of the Vatican. The most interesting thing for me was how the Vatican guards dress. They have these puffy stripped red and orange suites and funny hats. They must have been wearing those uniforms for like a thousand years. St Peters cathedral was amazing. The 500 year old dome was huge and the entire place was mosaiced and full of huge one piece marble statues. One statue I remember is of the world with God sitting over it and his foot over England. The Pope who had the cathedral made was angry at England for separating from the Church. There was a stairway on the other side of the dome that I took to the terrace on the top and looked over the city. The skyline of Rome was just old buildings; I didn't see one skyscraper. That was kind of surprising.

After the Vatican I walked towards the Coliseum. But on my way there I think some kids tried to pickpocket me because about five of them approached me and held a map up to my face asking me where they were, and a couple of them were directly behind me. I was about to try to help them out when they suddenly lost interest and walked off. I thought I felt the flap of my backpack fall down. There wasn't anything missing, so I think they must have noticed someone noticing them trying to get me. The Coliseum was just about what I thought it would be, except I was surprised about how disjointed the stones on the top were. That must me what happens after two thousand years of earthquakes. The inside the Coliseum was super interesting because it was just like a modern coliseum. When I was walking up the indoor stairs and the hallways behind the stairs I was tripping out about how going to a competition 2,000 years ago would have been the same as now; with vendors and everything. There were some things different though; the stairs were a lot steeper and there were rain gutters on the side which was odd because they were inside. The inside of the coliseum was all exposed basement which I didn't know about. The Coliseum has a pretty interesting history. Back in the day, besides the gladiator fights to the death, they used to pit Bears and Lyons against each other and even fill the thing up with water so they could have ship battles.

Right next to the Coliseum was the Forum where all the politics of ancient Rome took place. This place was really interesting because of the way it is organized. It had all the statues lined up along the central walkway that was lined with different buildings for various functions. This was also the only place I saw in all of Rome that still had multiple stories of ancient buildings intact; which gave me another vision of how back then Rome must have been quiet a sight to any foreigner coming there for the first time. At the end of the Forum were the stairs where Julius Caesar was murdered. On the top of the steps was a two thousand year old statue surrounded by two other political buildings, and the stairs went down the other side. Between the Coliseum and the Forum was the famous triumphant arch. I read the ancient Latin text written on it. It said something about what it was and when it was made.

I crossed an old aqueduct a couple hundred meters to the west of the Coliseum. The bricks were thinner and longer than the ones in America. A couple hundred meters from the aqueduct was the Circus Maximus, where they had the Chariot Races. It was just a field, but there was a section of brick bleacher on the south east end that still exists. On the east side were multi-level ruins of the Forum. I was impressed they still existed standing so high.

After the Circus Maximus I walked a couple blocks south towards the baths. There were giant pillars strewn on their sides all over the median of the street, which made me think about how Rome was so big and developed that two thousand years later the remains of the columns are still lying there on main street. The baths were also amazing because they were so huge. Everything about them was huge, the garden area before the entrance, the 50 foot high arched roofs, and the complex of various baths. There was a big welcoming room, and then a long corridor with ten meter square baths on either side. At the end was the large bath that was about 50 by 20 meters. The beautiful mosaics on the floor of the baths were still intact.

After the baths I walked towards the Tiber river island that I knew so well from the models and maps of Ancient Rome. I wanted to see if the island looked the same now as it did them. I remembered that in ancient times it was built up with large buildings and wanted to see if it had the ruins of the buildings or was in use like in the old days. I was surprised how close it was to Circus Maximus, and that part of the ancient bridge was still intact. It was vey well made. It was a lot narrower than the modern bridge right next to it, but was made in the same style. The island had a couple of large buildings and it looked very similar to how it did in ancient times. With the bridge I had seen all the things that I was dying to see, so I took the metro back to the hostel. In the hostel I had a few beers with some of the Americans I met there, including an older guy who was bike touring across Italy who said it was very windy.

The next day I took a bus with a French Canadian kid to the catacombs. I hadn't heard about them before then, but they were very interesting. There were different places around the city where Catholics built elaborate tunnels to bury their leaders. We did a tour of one that went down pretty deeply and had quite a few simple narrow tunnels with various other tunnels branching out to house their relics. I heard there was another catacomb that had a room that was constructed entirely of bones of priests.

It was cool how ancient Rome was evident throughout the whole of the city. If the ruins of an old pillar weren't evident, then a modern building built into a two thousand year old aqueduct was. I remember seeing a huge erect Egyptian pillar that the Romans brought from Alexandria two thousand years ago.

The next day I took the train down to Naples with my French Canadian buddy and stayed in a beautiful hostel up on a hill. On the train ride out of the city I noticed some more ancient aqueducts again; they seem to lead into the city from every direction. I remember seeing them from like 50 miles north of Rome and they were huge. They must have done a great job building them if they can last so long.

While I was in the hostel in Naples I met an old American guy who claimed to be the last remaining little Rascal, and was explaining about all the bad things that happened to the other little Rascals, but nobody seemed to be listening to him. That night I walked around for a bit with a guy from San Francisco. Naples is a nice little city nestled between the sea and the hills, but to my dismay I didn't find a central pedestrian area.

The next day I took a train to the ruins of Pompey with the guy from San Francisco and two French Canadian guys. Pompey is a small city to the south of Naples that has some amazing ruins of a sexual vacation city for the rich Romans that was destroyed in a Volcanic eruption two thousand years ago. Because the whole city was completely covered in ash and wasn't unearthed until 75 years ago, it was perfectly preserved. Even the paintings on the wall were preserved. So I felt like I was walking through the place just like it was then. There is a perfectly preserved stadium there right next to the rest of the city. The roads were paved with stone and had six inch deep grooves in them. We guessed they were to help guide the carraiges. There were stone bocks in the intersections which we couldn't figure out the use for. Now I think they were to help the people cross the roads without having to step into the muck where the wheels rolled. The bars were interesting because the ceramic vases for holding wine and water where still there built into the tables. We couldn't help but noticing that there where phalic symbols all over the place. The brothel was the only building that was completely intact with the roof and tiles, paint and everything! Inside we saw the stone beds in the various rooms. On the walls everywhere were paintings and stone carvings of people having sex. We also saw intact pipes built into the walls and ground. They didn't have copper or plastic pipes then, so they made ceramic cups that they connected together to make pipes. Another place that caught my attention was a strip of apparent shops that were holes in the wall decorated with pillars on either side.

The most interesting thing about Pompey was all the petrified people. The destruction of the place was so fast that the people didn't have time to escape before they were enveloped by ash. So there are mummies of people frozen in place. There was a mummy of a woman with her arms around her baby, and one of a man covering his head. Most of them are lying on their side in the fetal position, and I could still see their teeth which where in surprisingly good condition. I think I could even make out a facial impression of agony on one of them. We went into the local museum and saw a bunch more just sitting around in glass boxes waiting to be displayed correctly. The area of the ruins was huge, and we could have spent a couple days there roaming around the city and not walked down the same road or entered in the same room twice.

After Naples I decided to take a train up north to Venice. I got there at night and spent a couple hours walking the streets and taking the water taxis looking for a place to stay, but everywhere was booked for the night so I took a train to the farthest city to the east and slept on the pavement outside of some apartment buildings. Venice was very interesting because it is a city like any other ancient Italian city, but instead of having roads, it has water. I walked all over the city, and it was smaller than I though it would be, but there were no cars at all. The layout is like any other city. There is a central avenue of water with smaller streets of water faning out. It was kind of a pain in that if I wanted to cross the street I had to walk until the end of the block to cross on the bridge. No jaywalking in Venice. I had dinner at one of the larger hostels after I found out it was full. It had a huge dinning room totally full of young tourist eating their buffet meals. Another thing I was surprised about Venice was how close the water was to the sidewalk. If it was any closer it would have been overflowing.

 

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Slovenia

The train ride to the capital, Lubjana, was cool because I could see houses and beautiful green hills right next to me pass by as if I was on a bus or even riding my bike. It was exciting to get out of the train and walk around because for the first time I felt like I was in a backwater part of Europe where I wouldn't see any tourists. I remember being somewhat surprised to see McDonalds stickers all over the train steps, and thinking to myself how Micky Dee's is everywhere. I walked into the city and roamed around looking for a hotel. I think I had a travel guide that said I could find something on the college campus and so I walked around the deserted campus looking for something but found nothing.

After I gave up I walked into the city center and asked a couple of college aged girls where I could find a hotel, and they showed me one that costed like thirty bucks a night, which was expensive, but it was the cheapest I could find so I got a room. While I was setting up my room they knocked on my door and offered to take me on a tour of the city. Their English was pretty good. They said I was the first tourist they had seen for a while and asked me why I came to Slovenia. Maybe not many people go there because they were involved in the Serbian wars. The girls said they remember when Yugoslavia was at war for a couple days, but it didn't really effect the people in Lubjiana. They took me on a walk to the top of a hill in the middle of the city where we had a good view of the city and the valley it is in which is surrounded by mountains. It is a nice looking city. Next to the hill ia a river that had a market next to it. There was also a central walking area where we went and had a coffee. The next day I took a train to Budapest, Hungary.

 

 
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Hungary

When I got to Budapest I was greeted by a very friendly and outgoing Romanian boy who took me to a hostel accross the street from the train station. The hostel was on a high floor of an apartment building and was outfitted with a bunch of bunk beds in coed rooms.  There were already a few other travelers hanging out there.  I liked Budapest and ended up living there for eleven days but it seemed like more than that.  I was hanging out with some dudes from San Fransisco for the first couple of days. I went to the baths with them. The budapest baths are a well known feature of the city where they use natural hot springs in large public pools. Some of the baths rooms are sexually segregated because they are nude.  One popular thing to do there was getting massages. I got one massage buy one guy, it was OK. 

The city is beautiful. There are a lot of hills on the western side, and a very wide river runs through it.  The buildings are old but classical and nice, and it is clean.  All and all I felt like I was in a first world country apart from the fact that everything was very cheap.  I heard that the kids who work at our hostel get paid about a dollar an hour, and I remember the pizzas that I bought on the street being very cheap. 

The most interesting thing about my experience in Budapest was the manaical interest in chess.  It seemed like in every public place there were chess boards built into large stone tables and chairs.  In a lot of these Chess places there were two men playing surrounded by like twenty people watching!  I think this practice must have come come from the days of Communism where the people didn't have the freedom to take part in things that were more interesting than group Chess.  However, it is definitely a testament to the intellectual prowess of the Eastern European stock.  I definitely don't think like that. 

I had a lot of fun with the other young travellers who stayed in the hostel there.  There was a hot and jolly Canadian girl who liked talking about her first job working in a bank, a young American guy who I actually did a play with that I wrote for the other travellers there! I can't remember what it was about. I already wrote my journal of Hungary, but for some reason it got lost so I am writing from memories on this day of 4-26-06, almost nine years later.  Wow how time flies.

There was another American dread locked guy from San Fransisco who liked to talk about how he makes pizzas in San Fransisco.  He was a character. The first time we saw him was when he first arrived in our room.  He walked in and without saying anything just bust into telling a joke about superman fucking the invisible man in the ass because he thought we was fucking Wonderwoman. 

One night I went to an underground bar with the guys from San Fransisco and had some beers with som Canadian soldiers who were on break from Bosnia.  One guy told me about his experiences as a soldier there.  He said the problems there were because of the Serbs and in his opinion every Serb should die. He said the Muslims weren't at fault and were just trying to protect themselves.  He told me about one of his friend who killed like 30 Serbs over the course of like twelve hours because he was left alone in a good sniper area taking pot shots at guys running into the open.  He said the Canadians are the best soldiers in the world and every time the various armies get together and have military games the Canadians always win. He wasn't a total gung ho crazy soldier though, just a normal guy who had joined the army.  He didn't like the attitute most people have towards soldiers.  He said, "People ask me what I do, and when I tell them I uphold the constitution they roll their eyes". He said people don't understand the necessity for the army, and that they don't understand that a whole lot of people hate America.  I specifically remember him telling me that the '93 WTC bombing almost collapsed the building, and that terrorists were going to try again and were going to be successfull.  One of the guys from San Fransisco overheard my conversation with the soldier and told me he thought the guy was full of shit but was afraid to tell him for fear of getting beaten up. 

I met some crazy soldier boys when I was there.  A couple of other Canadian soldiers who were on break from bosnia came over to our hostel, not to stay as they already had a military hostel but to party with other tourists.  One of them was a young nerdy looking guy who said he joined the army "to blow shit up". The other guy was totally nuts.  He was really buff and claimed to be the world champion under 200 pound arm wrestling champion, and we all believed him.  I challeged him to arm wrestling and he said, "are you serious". Then we arm wrestled and he just held it there like he was trying and I thought I was strong, then he effortlessly slammed my arm down.  We played a drinking game that involved memorizing what the people before you said and I lost badly and got totally hammered. Then we went out on the town and I remember seeing the crazy solder running on top of all the cars in the center trying to set of the alarms.  Then he climbed up a fire escape ladder to the top of a four story building and climbed down.  He was trying to pick up on the hot Canadian girl, but I heard her saying the next day that she didn't want to be the girl some stupid soldier picked up on, but that his stomach was like rock.  She said he told her the bad boys in the army are the buff ones because every time they get into trouble they have to do pushups. 

There was another crazy American kid staying there too.  He was young and very skinny but the couple times we went to the disco as a group he got in these show down with the Hungarian boys in there. I would be dancing and look over and see him staring someone down. He was doing it once with a couple guys and I had to phisically pull him away from them because he was ready to fight.  Other than that he was cool though, maybe it was the alcohol.  It was fun going to the disco because it was so easy to dance with the local girls and grab their waists.  At one point I remember dancing with these jolly drunk Russian guys.  It was the first time I met Russians. 

I went to the Opera one night with a couple girls from the hostel, it was OK. The building was very nice. 

I was there for 11 days because I got the Indian visa when I was there, although I never went to India.  The neighborhood the Embassy was in was nice. It was hilly and had a lot of treas and the buildings looked just like in western Europe.

That's about all I remember from Budapest.

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Romania

I decided to take a train to Brasov Romania because I wanted to go to Transylvania where Count Dracula was from, and the guy who the stories were written from lived in a house near Brasov. When I got off the train I was greeted my a very enthusiastic older lady who took me to an apartment building that she rented and just let us travelers hang out there. She showed up every morning to collect the money. It was a very strange living situation, because we were just a half dozen travelers living in an apartment building with no supervision. I met an Australian girl there who I took a bus to Dracula's house with.

The house was about a 45 minute bus ride to the south. It was interesting being in the bus because they were old and full of people dressed in old clothes like peasants. Dracula's house was up on a small hill, and had a little courtyard in it. It wasn't very big. It belonged to a guy who lived a few hundred years ago who was a ruthless warlord. He presided over a battle where he won and stuck poles up the butts of hundreds of the losers to scare the rest of the enemy away. So that ruthlessness must have inspired the dude to made a story of a blood sucking rich dude.

Later that day we went on a walk around the city and we saw a girl with red hair and the girl I was with said she thought she was a foreigner. But the girl looked just like the other people except for the hair, but sure enough we saw that girl at the hostel later in the day.

The most interesting thing about Romania was all of the unfinished apartment buildings all over the place. The story behind them was that in the 80's the socialist dictator named Chouchesku decided the best way to modernize the country was to force all the rural people into the cities to make some kind of industrially strong first world new country. But he was also a criminal and stole millions to build his personal palace, so after he got the shells of his new buildings were made there were mass demonstrations where 600 College students were killed and there was a coup. As he fled from the Presidential palace in his helicopter his pilot betrayed him and landed it and the multitudes killed him and his wife. So now there are all these buildings that are twenty years old but are just unpainted, un-floored, un wired, signs of a bygone never to be dream of an impossible empire.

I went for a walk alone the next day. The city was poor and full of those unfinished apartment buildings, but it was pretty because it was nestled in between green hills, and didn't have a traffic problem and had a nice big pedestrian area surrounded by old stone buildings. One thing I liked about Europe was the stone buildings, the wooden pre-fab architectural style of America can get a little sterile in comparison to the ancient cozyness of the old stone structures of Europe.

After a couple days in Brasov I took a train to Bucharest and saw the same unfinished buildings. Bucharest was bigger and more crowded, and I didn't like it very much because there were a lot of beggars. I took the train there with a Japanese guy and when we got off the train a guy was following us and kept asking the Japanese guy for money and he totally ignored him but he kept following us for a couple minutes. Then when I got on the subway, I saw an older gypsy woman and a couple of her ten year old kids running all over the inside of the train asking for money. And when they got off the train they gave each other a high five as if they scored a goal or something. I heard a lot about the Gypsies when I was in Eastern Europe. They are an ethnic group that look like white people that came from India a few hundred years ago and have a reputation of wandering around doing menial jobs. They didn't have a very good reputation in Europe. A lot of people said they were thief's, and they were discriminated against. I took a walk around Bucharest, but quickly became bored and hoped a plane to Istanbul.

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Turkey

When I arrived in Turkey I had to pay an airport tax but I didn't have any money so the guard let me walk across the line and withdraw money from the machine. I met some Americans who I shared a taxi with to the historical center where they knew were some hostels. The hostel I stayed at wasn't that big but was multi storied. It had a cool bar area on the top level where you could buy beer and food and hang out with other travelers. I met some pretty interesting travelers there. There was one free wheeling guy who was from New York and used to work in a hotel and had met all the WWF wrestlers. He had tattoos all over his arms that me made himself with pen ink. There was another Dutch guy and a South African girl who I hung out with a little bit. We went to a bar under the hostel where everybody was smoking apples from bongs. I smoked my brains out but didn't get buzzed.

My first full day there I did a tour of the historical center which was full of interesting sights. The first place I went was the second biggest mosque in the world after the one in Mecca. It was a few hundred years old and very pretty from the outside, but on the inside it was very plain and empty. Then I went to the other mosque almost as big across a grass field from the first one. On the outside of the second mosque I was greeted by a snazily dressed Turkish man who was very insistent that he give me a tour of the mosque, so I let him. We had to take our shoes off for this mosque on the south side which was more interesting because it was more decorated and colorful than the first one. After touring the mosque the man insisted that I go to his store and look at his rugs that he wanted to sell to me, but I wasn't interested, but he kept insisting until I decided I didn't trust him enough to go to his place. He was acting so strangely I though he might mug me or something. I felt bad to just leave him there begging me to go to his store. He didn't seem to understand that there was no way he was going to convince me to buy a rug. Rugs seemed to be one of the main industries in these parts besides tourism.

There were men all over the place trying to sell rugs. I'm sure I could have made a living buying rugs there and selling them in the states if I had of wanted to. I quickly learned that these Turkish were like the Moroccans in terms of being annoyingly persistent. I didn't want to be rude and ignore all the calls from the men trying to get me into their shops. But after stopping and talking to more than a few of them, I had to start to just say hi to them and keep walking regardless of their please to stop and give them my time.

After the mosque I went to a museum that had a large number of statues from the days of Constantinople. This part of Istanbul used to be the center of Constantinople. Constantinople was founded by the Emperor of Rome called Constantine who lived around the second century AD around the time of the fall of Rome. He decided to change the location of the Roman Empire and call it the Holy Roman Empire. Constantinople was build with the same idea as Rome. They had baths, and a Coliseum and a Circus Maximus. But after a thousand years it fell to the Muslims who built their own mosques and palaces directly over the sight of old Constantinople. Just across the street from the large mosque was the ruins of the baths of Constantinople, which were now under ground. I did the tour of the baths which still had the original pillars and water as they once did. About a hundred meters from the baths were the ruins of the Circus Maximus, which was now a park, but it was interestingly in the exact shape of the original Circus Maximus. It even had the original central spire and arch.

I also did a tour of the Muslim kings palace which was behind the large mosque. The palace consisted of a series of rooms encased within a huge court yard that was protected by a large wall. Near the entrance was the room where the kings harem lived. The palace also served as a museum that had what was supposedly the arm of John the baptist and the footprint of Mohamed. I was interested to see that Mohamed's footprint was very wide and about a foot and a half long, meaning that he would have had to have been at least about eight feet tall. It didn't look like a realistic foot print though because it was too wide and square looking. The museum was also full of beautiful jewels and crowns and elegant pottery and kitchen ware. The most beautiful place in the palace was a patio on the outside on the edge of the cliff overlooking the straight. In the middle of the patio was a small building that had a central room that was full of pillows set in a large square for the nobility to hang out and eat grapes and watch their entertainment perform for them.

One night there was a very sick person in my dorm room. I could smell the foul stench of sickness in the air, and the next day I was very ill. But I didn't really notice how sick I was until I was already on a bus headed for Golipoli. I barely stood the ride down there, and by the time I found a hostel and got a room that I shared with some other travelers; I just crashed and slept for four days. I was more deliriously sick than I had ever been in my life. I had terrible cold sweats and kept imagining that I had the world in my hand but I kept crushing it, but as soon as I opened my hand the world immediately formed perfectly again, and I crushed it again. When I finally got better I did the tour of Golipoli. I knew about Golipoli from the early 80's movie with Mel Gibson. Golipoli was a famous battlefront of World War One where the English sent thousands of Australians to their deaths trying to get control of the straight that led to the Black Sea. The trenches were still there complete with the wooden supports, however a bit shallower. Even the tunnels they dug were still there. The road that our tour bus drove on was between the trenches of the Turkish and English, which were within a stones throw of each other. In fact, they did throw grenades at each other. It was so gruesome that anybody who was in the front trench was surely to die within a few minutes from a grenade being thrown into their trench. The guide told us that the soldiers on the opposing sides grew an affinity for each other and were attaching well wishing letters to their grenade's.

The next day I went to the bus station to buy a ticket for the ruins of Troy which I was excited to see, but a slimy looking man approached me and insisted that he buy me a coffee. I had already heard of tourists and met tourists who have fallen for this famous trick of strange men buying tourists coffee that is laced with a drug that makes you pass out so they can rob you. I told him to piss off and I just got sick of being in Turkey, and suddenly decided I just wanted to go straight to Katmandu and get my brothers bike and start touring around India. So I took a bus back to Istanbul.

I stayed in another hostel in Istanbul, for what reasons I'm not sure of. This new hostel wasn't as quaint and was larger. It had a large buffet room for the tourists to eat. I remember overhearing an interesting conversation between two older travelers in their forties or fifties. One guy was a Canadian high school teacher and the other was an Australian guy. The Canadian teacher was talking about how a lot of the teachers at his school have slept with their students. I found it funny how they buddied up like that and were acting like they were teenagers.

While I was sleeping in my bunk I noticed that I had asthma, which was the first time I had felt that sensation since I had asthma for a year when I was six years old. I thought it was just residual from the sickness, but it stayed to this day. In my room I had these two intrepid American traveler girls who had been traveling all through Morocco and loved it, and I was glad that there were tourists who had the ability to see the bright side of that country which does have a lot of cool cultural traits.

The next day I took a plane to Katmandu, but I had a three hour stopover in Karachi Pakistan, and for that three hours I felt like I was in Pakistan. The women in the checkout line were dressed in long muslim dresses and acted rude to me and obviously didn't speak any English. On the plane ride out I looked out the window and saw a sprawling city of dirt roads and unpainted rock and mud buildings just like the towns in Morocco.

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Nepal

Needless to say I was quite excited to be arriving in Nepal. The city looked beautiful as were approaching. There was not a cloud in the sky and I could see the snow capped Himalayas in the distance not too far from the city. The city was sprawling but there were no skyscrapers to it looked kind of quaint. My taxi driver into the city from the airport was friendly. I remember him telling me that %70 of Nepalese are Hindu and %30 are Buddhist and that they are very similar religions. The man dropped me off at a hotel in the center where the man dropped me off.

The next day I went for a walk down the pedestrian (even though cars are legal there) central area and decided that I if I wanted to find the Katmandu center of Healing where my brother left his bike for me, I should ask someone and maybe they would know. So I asked a guy, and sure enough he was living there and ended up being my Thai Massage instructor. He told me where to go so I jumped on a Tuk Tuk.

The Tuk Tuks in Nepal are the most primitive in the world. Even India has outlawed them because they pollute too much, because the engines come from building air conditioners. The Nepalese version of a Tuk Tuk is a three wheel metal can with wheels of a diameter not much larger than a basketball. There is a front area where the driver sits, and a rear part lined with two short benches for seating. If these things would have been in operation in the states for golf games or something, they would have a maximum occupancy of about four people, but here at times I had to share space with like ten other people literally sitting on top of each other and standing up in an area about three and half feet high. Not too far north from the center was a peaceful road that veered off and brought me to the Healing center. And sure enough there was my brothers Marin aluminum mountain bike.

Originally I planned on getting the bike and immediately going touring around Nepal and India, but I ended up staying in Nepal for six months and never even going to India. I just found it too comfortable staying at the healing center. It had a good energy about it, and there were a lot of other good travelers staying there. I took a five day Reiki class, and then a month long Thai Massage class with five other people.

My classmates for the Thai Massage class were: 1) A Russian woman who was living there because her husband worked in the Embassy. 2) An older Danish man who bought furniture in Bali and imported it to Denmark. 3) A New Zealander tree planter kid named Mark Armrien. 4) A psychic Italian girl named Madalena. 5) A French-Swiss girl whose boyfriend taught the class. 6) A wacky Swiss-Italian electrician named Enzo. 7) A friendly and eccentric English girl from a noble family whose name I can't remember. Our instructor was an ex cop French-Swissman who imported Nepalese goods to Switzerland. Our official instructor was an Indian guy who grew up in Thailand named Raul Barti, who started the place with his Nepalese friend Nabine, but Raul was rarely there to instruct us.

For the couple of weeks I was there before the Thai massage course started I was mainly just reading books and keeping to myself. It was during the end period of the Thai massage course that was before mine. There was another Danish guy there and a Danish girl, and a young half Tibetan girl from Vancouver. For the time I was taking the class there lived a young English couple called Patti and I can't remember the girls name, and the English girl who was in my class boyfriend called Christian. There was another American girl who lived there who married a Nepalese guy she worked with in a restaurant so she wouldn't have to leave after five months. There was also a girl from South Africa named Wendy who lived there for a while. There were some others who came and went, but I can't remember them all, for a couple of days there was a farmer from Longmont who was cool.

Overall I lived in the the center for about two months but It seemed longer because it was the first place that I ever actually lived that was out America. It was a cool time because my situation was very peaceful. There was no sound of traffic, and we had our own courtyard to hang out in. We all walked a couple hundred meters away to eat at the same restaurant that served good Nepali food such as mo mos and their style of Chow Mien, and of course the traditional dish of assorted vegetables and rice called baat that you eat with your hands. Nabine, a cool Nepalese guy who was one of the Thai massage instructors there gave me a huge bag of weed that I rolled 270 joints out of. The others got up at seven every morning and did yoga for an hour, but I could never get up that early. I would get up a little before the class started and smoke a doobie while listening to Joni Mitchell's hits album on the roof. A cool thing about a lot of third world architecture, and especially Nepalese architecture, is that all the buildings have terraces on the tops of them; which was very nice because you can go up there and enjoy the view of the city and catch a nice fresh breeze. We would a couple hours of class where we would practice the steps we had learned, and learn another step.

During the breaks the rest of the group would hang out in the patio, but I stayed in the room and stretched. During the time I was there I became the most limber than I have ever been and could touch the ground with flat hands without bending my legs for the first time. I also spent every spare moment of the day practicing my massage on others. I practiced on everybody, from the little boys who worked there to tourists who came for free massages from the students who were practicing.

The culture of Nepal is very different from where I am from. They have a very weak economy, which is basically to say that there are a lot of people who don't ever have anything to do so they waste time in ways that are unimaginable to people from first world countries. For example, it isn't uncommon for people there to bring their friends along with them on their daily chores and errands. Many times I met Nepali friends of Nabine's who would come over to hang out with us for hours even though they didn't speak any English. For the first couple of weeks I was staying at the center I was going to a local gym, and a few times I saw the other people who worked out there had friends who came along just to watch their friends work out. This wasting of time basically means that for them time and therefore boredom doesn't even exist, so they didn't deal with stress the way we do in the states. A perfect visual example of how relaxed they are is the Nepali head bob. It looks just like as if when you shake a doll whose head is attached with a spring, and the head bobs back and forth. It basically means "Whatever". So that basically means that most peoples attitude about life is ''whatever'', and that will be their reaction to most things. For example, if you invite them to join in on the conversation they just smile, shrug and do the Napali bob. Most westerners unwittingly pick this gesture up after a couple weeks here, which means comes to be so vague it can mean everything from "bullshit" to "OK".

One by product of having a population with too much time on their hands and not enough money is that people will do menial jobs for almost nothing, so they create as many useless jobs as possible that actually clutters the process and makes for a comical if not infuriating experience for the foreigner. A perfect example for this is the supermarket shopping experience. Keep in mind that not all supermarkets are like this, but one in particular was so ridiculous I had to write about it. If I wanted to buy just a couple things, even if I was the only customer of the whole place, which I usually was, I couldn't get out of their in less than ten minutes. Here is the process I had to go through to buy a pencil and all of the people who help me make the transaction occur, for example:
1) Enter the building and have to explain to the security guard where I wanted to go.
2) Give my backpack to one of the many backpack checkers and wait around for him to give me a number which he usually didn't have on hand because one of the others usually had it.
3) After I find my pencil now I have to give it to the teller at the check out counter to write the serial number of the pencil down on a piece of paper.
4) The I had to allow a bagger to put my pencil in a bag which they always insist on doing, maybe in the hopes of a tip or maybe just because they are just hypnotized.
5) After my pencil is in the bag, the bagger passes it off to another kid who takes it downstairs to where my backpack is located and passes it off to another person who checks the receipt that I have with the pencil.
6) Locate another bag checker to trade my number with my bag. And finally say goodbye to everybody as yet another person apart from the security guard, the ''door opener,'' opens the door for me. Thank god I don't have to give a tip to all the people involved.

It is nice to be in the presence of people who are so stress free about life, but the inefficiency can get on foreigners nerves and make them just lose it and freak out every once in a while. Getting money at the bank is a perfect breeding ground for this kind of behavior. When I was there, there didn't exist money machines, so to get money the tourists had to go to a room behind a bank and wait in line for about half an hour even though there may only be a few people in front of you. Then you have to go through a series or three or four ladies who somehow divide up the jobs to finally get your money. I remember one time when I was waiting in line one American guy just totally lost it and started yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs at the teller and being really sarcastic like asking her very simple questions and answering them for her. If that had of happened in the states, the other people waiting in line would have told the guy to shut up, but here we all knew where he was coming from so nobody said anything, and the teller didn't react at all either. You would think that the stressed out tourists might breed contempt among the locals, and especially because there are so many tourists here. But the Nepalese had nothing but respect for foreigners. To them we were the light of the highest society, however a little stupid in terms of knowing how much money things were actually worth.

The Nepalese, or rather third world timelessness can be a bit creepy at times though. For a couple months I stayed at a hotel and for most of the time I was the only guest at the place. I noticed that the guy who owned and lived at the hotel, Jose, had a worker girl who took cared for him as his life literally only consisted of sitting in a small room and watching Indian musicals all day. When the girl didn't have any chores to do, she would just sit down in the room next to where Jose was and look at the wall with a blank stare as if she was a droid in Hibernation mode.

A lot of confusion and unexplainable trickery goes on here that you wouldn’t guess from initial friendly contact. For example: A nice nine year old kid named Raju who worked at the Healing center I was staying at got a job at a restaurant, but left and came back to the center. So the people from the restaurant called the cops and had the poor kid thrown in jail for desertion and didn’t feed him, so he went a day without any food when the people at the center found out about it and had to pay about $50 to get him out. Then the cops took one of the owners of the center, Nabin, into the police station for questioning for kidnapping. When I asked Raul, the other owner of the center how all of this could happen, he just shrugged and said all his country men are nuts.

They also aren't very confrontational. The center had a secretary who worked there for a few months who was fired because she was stealing money. But they didn't tell her why she was fired because you, ''don't do that in Nepal''.

Some American friends of mine said that they read that the kids here have %50 less brain power there because of all the chemicals in the air; which wouldn’t surprise me because the air is so filthy from the Tuk Tuks spewing out black smoke that I literally couldn't ride across town without a face mask and not get a bad asthma attack. Every time I rode across town my clothes became filthy also.

A very special aspect of this culture were the children because they were so out going and always trying to strike up conversations, even the three year olds. I remember one time I was sitting in a restaurant and this beautiful little seven year old girl came in with her father and looked at me with a totally blank face. I was thinking "Here's another poor little shy third world kid looking at this American alien boggling over him". And after blankly staring into each others eyes for about ten seconds she suddenly broke in to a confidant smile and said "Hi", and started laughing. She then sat down at the next table and kept on assaulting me with an omniscient smile on the verge of laughter. All I could do was sit there and control my embarrassed smile, and every time I looked up she was looking right at me. Nepalese love to make eye contact, and the longer you hold it with them the more friendly and open they become, which is about as an opposite cultural trait with the rest of the world that I had found. I thought that was cool.

Children are put to work at a young age there. There were a couple of orphans at the center who were kept working all day long who were nine years old. One time I went into a small restaurant and my waiter was three years old! I tried to order with him, but he just stood there with is notepad, so he had to get his mommy.

Another interesting example of how relaxed Nepalese people are is when I have close calls and collisions with Nepalese on the road, instead of shaking their fists at me and yelling, they either look at me in a state of introverted horror, or laugh at me. I remember the first week I was there I noticed I almost missed my turn and made a last second swerve in front of a motor cycle who had to swerve to miss me. When I looked over the passenger was pointing at me and laughing. And I thought "That’s cool". I hate getting yelled at or the "evil eye". Nepalese don’t know the evil eye.

Nepalese like foreigners and are very interested in them. One time Nabins parents invited me, Fran, and Christian over to their house for a dinner. They didn't speak English, so we just communicated with them with gestures and talked to Nabine. They were very accommodating with the way they set out our multiple course meal on the living room table like a buffet. Then we got to drinking on the roof and Nabins parents joined us up there. One thing led to another and we ended up getting totally hammered and I threw up on their roof and blacked out. I have one picture in my head of that night though that will stay with me forever. I remember us talking and being really rowdy, and them throwing up and falling off of my chair, and when I got up I noticed that his parents were sitting in chairs right there just watching us. That must have been rather amusing for them as the Nepalese don't seem to ever get drunk like westerners do. I hope they were amused anyway, but judging from the mild Nepalese temperament, I seriously doubt they were upset with me, apart from having to clean the puke off their roof.

After I finished the Thai Massage class I took a psychic healing class from Raul for $160 bucks which was a rip off because it was nothing more than him coming in the room with us for five minutes a day for four days and telling us to get each other to relax and look for an old woman next to a tree in our imaginations. We weren't supposed to talk to anybody for the five day long course because we were supposed to be trying to get in touch with our subconscious. I took the course with two other people, Magdalena the psychic Italian girl, and the Singaporean guy. There were some interesting things about the course though. The philosophy was a Shamanic one that consisted of the idea that there is our world, and above our world is the above world where we can travel to other areas of imagination. And below our world is the underworld where we can go to the deepest recesses of our own selves. We took turns putting our hands over each others heads to hypnotize each other in order to help bring about the ''trip''. I remember one occasion when I went on the trip to the upper world I was flying through space and then got to a ticket check out place and the lady there said I couldn't go any farther, but the guide who was with me said I could and bypassed her and helped me continue. But I don't remember where I continued to. When I did the trip to the underworld I just found myself digging into a hold like a hamster or something and didn't find anything. This upper world underworld journey could have been from another workshop there though as that class was insignificant and just a waste of money.

Magdalena was an interesting girl. She had very real and powerful psychic powers; and she didn't discover them until she was at the center. She found them out while she was doing a reading of an American guy who was staying there for a couple days with his friend. The American guy, coincidently, was an expert kayaker from Idaho and knew a guy I river guided with in Moab named Grant. She put her hands over his head and literally read his mind. She saw his childhood home and described it to him, and even got into his innermost thoughts and emotions. He told me that she described it perfectly. Everything from the backyard street to the layout of the house. Then she did a reading on me and described me pretty well also. She said not much radiated from my heart, but my mind was exploding with thoughts, which is how I would describe my mind. She said when I was a kid I was a loner, which I was. She said that was because I lived in my own crazy eccentric thoughts that made people uncomfortable, especially my family who were always trying to try to contain me into a box out of fear that I would go nuts. Which is pretty accurate.

About the time I finished my month long Thai massage class my mother visited me for about a week. She spent the first night in a room in the center, and the next day went to stay at the house of her friend Sister Max. Sister Max was a very eccentric southern black woman who had been living in India for the past thirty some odd years making a living buying antique furniture and selling it in the states. I think I remember her telling me she hadn't even been to the states even to visit in the last 30 years. She had been living in Katmandu for about a year or so and was apparently doing pretty well because she had a nice big closed in house with a big yard that was full of old furniture, and a servant she brought from India.

While my mom was there she gave an Aromatherapy workshop to various Nepali women. I don't know who got her the students. She was on her way to Bangkok Thailand were she to give another workshop and speak at an Aromatherapy conference. I did the workshop along with a Singaporean kid who stayed at the center.

My moms friend Sister Max had an American friend who had been living in Katmandu for the last 20 years. This woman was eccentric also. She rode around in a motorcycle, and even brought my mom on it to do some errands. With her I did a tour with my mom to the town of Bhaktapur which is a suburb to the east. This is a historical ancient town where a kingdom was centered, and is now a tourist spot because of all the ancient buildings. On the way back to Katmandu we did a tour of the local essential oil factory on the eastern edge of town, and I think my mom bought some oils. The woman there was very friendly and accommodating. Then we went to the historical center of Katmandu around Durbar square on the southern part of the city, and even though I had been there for some time I had never been to the historical part, so it was just as exciting for me as it was for my mom. All of the historical buildings were intact and I felt like I was back in time.

One interesting feature of that area was a girl of about ten who was supposed to have been a reincarnated goddess. She was a bit of a tourist attraction. She lived on the second level of a house where she lived her life being pampered by servants. She isn't allowed to ever go outside because she isn't supposed to have any marks whatsoever on her body before she reaches a certain age. We waited outside of the house for about ten minutes along with about ten other tourists so we could get a glimpse of the goddess. When she poked her her head out to say hi so us, it was only long enough to count how many people were there and then she retreated without even nodding her head to us.

After the Aromatherapy workshop my mom, Sister Max and I took a taxi a couple hours to the east of Katmandu to a retreat place way up in the mountains. It was nice to be in a cooler dryer environment for a day. They got up in the morning to catch the sunrise over the snow capped Himalayas, but I didn't want to get out of bed and bear the cold. The drive was beautiful, but Sister Max was starting to get on my nerves because she wouldn't stop talking, and her diatribes were centered around how much she didn't like India. She said Indians were basically dirt bags, and told us of a story of a school bus that fell off a bridge killing all of the children aboard because the driver of the school bus played chicken with a truck driver coming from the other side, and because it was a one lane bridge they collided and everybody died. I didn't realize it as the time but I think the reason Sister Max was so annoying was because she never had the change to talk to other Americans, and one of the favorite things for ex-pats in third world countries to do when they get together with countrymen or other ex-pats is to talk trash about the locals in order to vent the frustration of their backward ways.


Not long after my mom left I rode my bike to Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal a couple hundred miles west of Katmandu. It took me two days to get there. As soon as I left the city I descended down a rather large hill and into a river valley and rode that into a town called Gorkha where I got a hotel room right on main street. It was absolute hell all night because there was no window to close out the noise of the trucks which were honking their horns continuously, and for some reason the horns on Nepalese trucks are like five times louder and shriller than trucks back home.

I started riding early the next morning, and right after the city a long climb started which continued for most of the day. After a couple hours of climbing the road turned to dirt and I grabbed the back of a truck that pulled me to the top of the pass. I got a flat around the top before the road descended a bit and became paved again. I smoked a bowl near some rocks next to the road a little before I arrived to the outskirts of Pokhara which lasted a while, and got a room in Pokhara not far from the lake.

Pokhara is a beautiful city because of the backdrop of the Himalayas and the huge pointy mountain which is sacred to the Nepalese and thus became illegal to climb right after the last group of Western Mountaineers failed to climb it in the sixties; so it has never been climbed. Pokhara didn't really have a city center because it wasn't really a city, just a very large sprawling town. In fact the main street was dirt. The lake had some nice restaurants near its shores, and a large field where there was a rock concert the day I was there. The concert was an interesting experience because of the behavior of the crowds. I remember I was standing there watching the show behind some American guys who I overheard talking about their kayak trips on the river. And at a few people started throwing plastic water bottles and trash in the air, so pretty soon everybody started throwing bottles in the air. So all of the cops, which there was a ridiculously large amount of, rushed in to quell the bottle throwing and everybody ran from them in mass hysteria. I ran back to because everybody else was, and I remember seeing the American kayakers just stood there laughing as the cops ran past them at the crowds who had stopped throwing the bottles. Needless to say nobody threw bottles after that.

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3-10-98

I had an interesting dream last night. I was in Hawaii except at first it wasn't Hawaii, it was a place like Hawaii that was owned by America but

wasn't a state yet, but then it was Hawaii. Someone had provided my friends and I land and a semi rickety house on the top of a hill in the woods with no other houses around. We were going to use it as a spiritual healing center and one day me and about three guys were up there fixing the house up on the back porch listening to music and smoking dope and we got lazy and started sleeping outside. And those female friends of ours hiked up and wanted to do the spiritual healing stuff with us whatever it was but we weren't too lazy and so the four or so of them left after like ten minutes. I talked to one of the women, and there might have been a man with them, she was really short and had long curly red hair and was about my age and she was really nice and said the reason they left was because they thought this was a healing center and we were smoking dope and lazy I agreed with her and said how it was at an ideal location and Hawaii was the biggest mountain in the world and the last remaining tip of the Lemurian civilization and she said "Yea that's great", and we had a vision again and that's all.

3-13-98

I had some dreams here but I cannot remember them. I tried for three nights I get over Thorung La but to no avail. The first night I got up and it

was cloudy so I denied not to go which was stupid. I called it off because I was tried and thought i should acclimatize and rest and a woman said "If is clear you should definitely go". and I thought haziness was a good reason, but in reality I chickened out, I was so close too, the boy had gotten up for me at 2:30 and I was dressed. Then after I told him I called it off it cleared up. The next night I was exited and I was clear but I was puking. Then this morning I tried and there was a blizzard. That reached down to Muktinath, I feel like I am in the

North Pole, I just want to go where it is warm and ride so I am heading back to Pokhara by way of Beni and then for the Everest Trek, but just running this time. I hiked about 4:30 hours from 3:00 -7:30 up and got back here at 10:30. Oh well, I hope It stops snowing but on second thought I don't because precipitation is good to prevent drought. I will cruise down to Jomsom supper early tomorrow like 2:00 or something to savor the full moon and get a long day because I have been getting too much sleep lately. The day I got here 14 people came over the pass from the other side and they saw a human foot in a shoe being eaten by a dog on the trail. The second say I was here I just hang out and smoked grass all day long. I got back from the pass and came back here and didn't feel like hiking any more because it was snowing and figured I would leave tomorrow when it is not snowing but it has been snowing all day.

3-20-98

you must write when you have something to write. I had some interesting dreams last night but I didn't write them down when I got up and I forgot them. I was trekking and I had Cinderella and the X1. It had good energy. There were Nepalis there. Today was the first day of my Everest Trek. I didn't feel very good today. I woke up kind of undernourished and over alcoholed. I had amazing dreams last night that I was trekking and then I had Wyndham's and my Mountain bikes. I had a hard time waking up rather get up. Every body else got up at 6 and that's when my alarm clock went off. I had a big breakfast and hiked just out of town where I shat, got high, and changed. Then kicked but I had a hard time with my walkman because it wouldn't play a tape and stopped playing at small bumps. The I took a couple wrong turns and then ran for a bit and started up the big hill and I was tired and not enjoying my music. I felt like something was wrong, like I hurt my moms feelings in my e-mails asking her about her errands for me. I first thought i was dehydrated by drinking didn't help and I thought it was low blood sugar from smoking but the rest of my candy didn't do anything. Then it was obvious it was mostly mental; I don't want to do this I think. I got to Duerali and got food and put on super suit and started freeing my fingers were numb and it wasn't even cold out. So I decided to not do this trek and go back tomorrow. I got stoned and had a nice sleep from 2-6. I feel like I need to read for these two more months I have here, so when I go to Tibet and China I will be excited about riding and not burned out on being on the move the whole day. Plus, reading in Katmandu is a good idea because it is cheap to live there. I could lift weights, watch a movie, buy a tape, and read 100 plus pages every day and write as well. The main discordance i feel now is that my mind is feeling neglected. I saw the X1 last night and it was so beautiful.


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The Annapurna Circuit

I had to buy an extra tire in Pokhara because the crappy Indian ones don't last very long. The ride towards the Annapurna circuit was beautiful was beautiful. As soon as I left Pokhara to the north the city died away rather quickly, and a climb into a sparsely populated area began. After I got to the end of a valley the road turned to the left and went straight up the side of a mountain at a steep grade, went over the mountain and down the other side. The descent was fast and fun with a lot of switchbacks. At the bottom of the descent I rode past a small town a couple of miles to where the circuit started. The circuit started on the other side of the river at a small village. The village really intrigued me because it was so primitive yet peaceful. That actually is one of the endearing things about Nepal; it is primitive yet peaceful. Not like places like Morocco, or even Central and South America where the primitiveness is a synonym for poverty and squaler. Nepal is different; there is a real feeling of peace in the streets of the little villages. There it was a beautiful thing to be in a village with just a couple small stores, and no cars or even roads; where all of the huts are connected with dirt walking paths.

I had to buy a permit to do the trek, and then continued riding on a very rocky path. I remember at one point coming across an old western man trekking from the opposite direction, and when he saw me he stopped and burst out laughing at loud and long as could. So I stopped and faced him and he just pointed at me and kept laughing and laughing. In all reality the trail was indeed not suited for mountain biking up, maybe someone could mountain bike down most of it, but I was basically pushing the bike. The first place I stopped at was a little rest area made specifically for the trekkers on the side of the mountain. The ambience was very nice there because it was in the middle of nature way up in the mountains on the side of a steep mountain on the rock paved trail. The place consisted of very simple boarded rooms for individuals and a common shower on the mountain side of the trail, and a restaurant perched out on the downward side of the trail. The view of the valley from the restaurant was very nice.

The next day was pure stair climbing and I passed a couple of hamlets until I got to an actual town called Ghorapani. Don't let my description of it being a town fool you, it was more like a couple of houses lining the trail. I wanted to do the trip to the base camp near the Annapurna mountains and Machupuchare, which is the beautiful mountain you can see from Pokhara. So I left my bike with the official who checks permits and went hiking over the side of the mountain and down the other side until I arrived at a house that was beautifully situated in a little stream valley on the other side. I stayed there one night and was the only guest that night. I hung out with the friendly family of man, wife and young daughter in their kitchen as they were cooking my dinner. They did all their cooking over the open fire and had a dirt floor.

The next day I got up early and walked down the trail into a very thick and mystical fog. Pretty soon I started to climb again up the side of a mountain and found myself on the side of a sheer cliff about a hundred meters above the river. At about noon after hiking through a beautiful forest I got to the edge of the top of a mountain where another town was called Chomro; which was larger than Machupuchare, and was actually a town with schools and mountainside farms and the like. I had a mystical feeling in this town also because it was foggy and peaceful. After Chhomro I descended down and down and down to the bottom of a valley and across a big bridge and up again and past a school with no town. It must have been the school for the local farmers in the area. The terraced farms there were very interesting because they were on the side of a steep and very large mountain. I remember looking down to the bottom of the valley and it seemed at least four thousand feet. I descended some more and came across the largest town yet on my trip called Hinko. It is places like Hinko that make doing the Annapurna circuit make you feel like you are going back in time because it is a town with houses, schools farms and everything, but no roads. After the town I climbed up a narrow steep valley until dusk where I got to a place to stay. I was the only guest that night and hung out with the owner who said he made enough money with that place to support his wife and kids in Pokhara. He said they live during the school months in Pokhara and the off school months with him in the mountains.

I got up early the next day and passed a couple more hut places, the last of which before the tundra started I had lunch at. It was very cold outside so they had a propane heater inside, but not in the normal position, this propane heater was under a very large table so as to heat everybodies legs who were sitting there. The table had blankets draped over the sides to keep the heat in. After lunch timberline started and then the valley opened up into a large snow covered basin amongst the bases of the large Annapurna mountains and the beautiful and sacred never climbed Machupuchare. I hiked a couple hours up in the snow until I got to the Annapurna base camp which was in a narrow valley in between three huge mountains barely out of the reach of a huge avalanche. I talked to some American travelers there for a little bit and then turned around and hiked back to the place I stayed at the night before.

The next day I hiked back to the same place I stayed at two nights before, and hiked back to get my bike the next day. While I was hiking up the side of the mountain that I had to get over to get back in the valley where my bike was I found myself in a blizzard and was very cold even though I had long pants and a jacket and hat and gloves on. I saw some sherpa's walk down past me, and I was astonished to see one Sherpa walking down the trail in shorts, t-shirt, and sockless sandals like it was summer. After I got my bike the trail went down a bunch of switchbacks and passed another town that was built up on the hillside. I descended into the big valley of the Kali Kandaki river and went up the western left side of the river. This was the section of the trek that I could ride my bike because it was flat and the trail was nice and wide and good. I stayed at a large tourist pit stop that had a nice outdoor restaurant.

There were a lot of tourists eating there together and drinking the local alcoholic drink which I don't remember the name of. There was this weird american restaurant manager there who wanted to get up super early but didn't hear his alarm clock go off for like twenty minutes and all the other people could hear it through the paper thin wooden walls. It was funny hearing people wake up and say say ask to each other who the hell had the loud alarm clock.

The next day I rode up the river a little more until I crossed the river and was confronted by another steep wall of steps that I had to carry the bike up, so I ended up staying at a hotel with the weird guy and an American actor. It was a nice little town up on the side up the mountain with the river down below. The main street of this town, as with all of the larger sized towns on the trek, was paved with stone and gave a feeling of ancientness. I was a bit of a star with the locals in this town because of my bike, and let some kids ride it up and down the road a few times. Some of the kids couldn't ride it, and I think it was the first time many of them have even seen a bike. That night the manager of the hotel sold we some weed and we got stoned and had some drinks.

The next day I got stoned before I rode down the road until it connected to the river again. I remember riding behind a guy with a bunch of sheep or something and couldn't get around them and the guy was really adamant that I don't pass so I had to hang out there a little bit. When I passed him the road got really smooth and beautiful winding through trees. I had read somewhere that including the mountain tops on either side this was the deepest river valley in the world. The river bed was rocky and very wide, so I started riding down the rocks until my tire exploded from the holes that had appeared. I was too stupid to have an extra tire so I had to walk my bike on a very smooth part of the trail that would have been perfect to ride until I got to the next town which was up to now the largest on the trek. This town called Marpha was amazing to ride through because as I was walking down the trail stoned which was also main street, I noticed how it was paved with stone and had a developed water system allowing a virtual river to flow under and around the trail under rocks. I knew that this town was too small to have any political system so I really got a feeling of going back in time; being ''far from the empire'' as on trekker put it. I had to walk all the way to Jomsom which was a metropolis in terms of the trek. There were no cars there but it had an airport for the people who wanted to just to half the trek. The main street was a dirt road, but this was an actual town because the buildings were a few deep. Luckily for me there was a bike shop there were I bought a new tire, but my wheels were starting to fall apart and they didn't have any wheels or spokes for sale. I brought a bunch of extra spokes with me, but I was running out. I stayed at a small hotel that had a couple other people in it. The owner of the hotel had a bike too and invited me to ride to the next town down, Marpha, to visit some of his friends. We hung out with some people in a very primitive house with a dirt floor but had a nice patio in the inside. I had run out of the weed the guy sold me so I asked him if he could hook me up and he told me that I shouldn't smoke and it was bad stuff.

I left Jomsom the next day and rode up the valley a little bit before the trail turned to the right and went up the side of the mountain towards the pass. The trail up the mountain was nice and smooth and not too steep so I could ride my bike. I passed through a farming town with an ancient temple called Jarkhot. and arrived in a little town and stayed in a hotel called Bob Marley that had paintings of Bob Marley all over the place. I had one of the boys who worked there get me up at four in the morning to go up the Thorung La pass but as I was having breakfast I started to feel ill so I didn't go. That day I got really sick and was just hung out. That day a group of about fifteen trekkers arrived at our hotel, and they were all talking about a human leg with a shoes that they saw in the middle of the trail as they were walking down from the pass. I had heard that four Sherpa's were killed in an avalanche a couple weeks before, so it could have been one of them. The hotel I was in was full of people and the hotel next door which was the same size was empty. There was an old guy in the group who felt sorry for the other hotel so he tried to get some people to stay over there, but they didn't want to break up the group; but he transferred over there anyway. The group hung out there the next day to rest, and also because the view of the mountains and the river valley were beautiful from the roof of the hotel. I remember hanging out with a few guys from the group and looking over to the roof of the hotel which was right next door and seeing the old guy sitting there on the roof alone, and hearing the guys wonder why he was so insistent on going over there. I was out of weed but some other guys had some and we smoked some. There were some mountains around that looked dry enough to climb without walking on snow that were a little higher than 6,000 meters, but I didn't have the motivation. Besides I heard you need a special permit that costs like 300 bucks to climb higher than 6,000 meters.

The next day I couldn't get up in time, but the day after that I managed to get up and hike up. At the base of the snowy gulch there was an ancient buddhist retreat hamlet called Muktinath, but it was too early to sea any of the monks. I pushed the bike up a snowy slope for a couple hours and figured I was pretty close to the top of the pass but I was in a blizzard and I had thin wool gloves. I also started thinking about how my wheels were about to fall apart. I wasn't cold but I kept thinking about if the blizzard got any worse, anyway, I decided to turn around. I searched the web of pictures of the pass to but here, but none of them mean anything to me because all I remember was being in the middle of a blizzard hiking straight up a steep snow field. It was still pretty early when I arrived back at the hotel. In retrospect that was the stupidest thing that I ever did while traveling. As a rule I don't like going back the way I come when I do trips. I like doing loops, but oh well. I rode back down to Jomsom, but the bike wheels were so wobbly I couldn't use the breaks and I didn't have any spokes left, so I decided to take the plane back. When I got back to Jomsom I came across a group of trekkers who told me they heard about me and how my trip had been, and when I continued down the road they all clapped. I had a pipe on me and was going to jump on the plane but I noticed the person in front of me have to take everything out of their pockets so I went outside and hid it in my sleeping bag. The plane ride back to Pokhara was about 50 bucks and it was nice to view all of the hills and valleys that I hiked over from a small plane. The flight was only about a half hour, which made the trip seem a lot smaller than what I did on my bike. After I got my bike fixed I rode my bike back towards Katmandu. I made it a point not to get a hotel in the same loud place that I did on the way over, but I couldn't camp out because the road was lined on one side by a cliff full of jungle, and the other side with cliff that leaded down to the river. Luckily I arrived at a roadside restaurant where I paid the people a little money to camp in their yard. I didn't want to ride through the night because I had seen about a half dozen dump trucks laying on their side from crashes. I even saw a photo in the Katmandu newspaper of one on its side with these legs sticking out of it; some poor guy got totally crushed!

The next day I arrived in Katmandu and stayed at the center for a couple days until I took the bus to do the Everest trek. I spent a night in the town at the beginning of the Everest trek. I hung out with a boy who worked at the hotel I stayed at. He sold me a big lump of hash that was nice and strong, and we went to a local bar where we had a weird alcoholic drink that was made with hops and had a bunch of hops in it. I didn't get a buzz of it. I got up super early and did a big loop, hiking up the trail to the top of a pass, but suddenly got the desire to not hike anymore and just read, so I went back to Katmandu. I would say that I regretted that because I never got to see Everest up close, but when I don't want to do something I just don't want to do it.

I got a room in a hotel that Joe and Rana were staying at because I just wanted to be by myself and read. The hotel was a big house with a lot of rooms, and was owned by a strange fat and lazy Nepalese guy named Jose. All Jose did was watch Indian musical movies day and night in his small office. He didn't have to do anything because he had a young helper woman who took care of him. I think she may have even lived there, but they never talked, when she wasn't working she just sat in the other room looking at the wall.

I got a room on the first floor on the back with a room overlooking a field. And a couple days after I got there I noticed a four foot tall Marijuana plant growing right outside of my window. Someone who stayed in my room before must have thrown some seeds out of the window before. I brought it in my room and smoked off of it for the two months that I was there. While I was there I got into a predictable routine, which I like to do from time to time. I would read all night long until sunrise and get a beer and them come back to my room and drink it. Then I would go down to a local restaurant that made good American style breakfasts that I went to a couple times with my Thai Massage friends. It was interesting eating there because literally all of the people who ate there were the same exact westerners who ate at the same exact place and the same exact thing, but never talked to each other. The other foreigners must have been Embassy workers and the like. My routine at the restaurant was to get hash browns and fried eggs and tomatoes and read the English language newspaper. Then I would go home and sleep until three in the afternoon, and then ride my bike down to the gym and lift weights for a couple hours. I made some Tibetan friends at the gym who were regulars there at the same time as me. The Tibetan actually wasn't Tibetan, his parents were. He had a strange idea about Tibetans that weren't consistent with the Tibetans I saw when I went there. He said they were tall and violent. At the time I was really interested in books about Spirituality. The books I read during the two months that I was there were: A book about dreams, a book about Krishna Murti, and a few other insignificant books. After about a month or reading books that I can't even remember, I found the Urantia book in a bookstore. It was supposed to have been written by spirits, and is about the history of the world, so I read that in a month. After I read that I got started on A course in Miracles.

Tourists can only live in Nepal five months out of the year because in the 60's a lot of drugies went there so they could live cheaply, and a lot of them went crazy on acid and jumped off of the roofs into the crowds in streets below. It got so bad that the government officially renamed the street were all the hotels were "Freak alley". So my time was up in Nepal and I had to decide on what to do. I don't recall ever really thinking about going traveling in India; I was ready to work in Korea as Joe and Rana who had been there a year told me they were making 4,000 dollars a month teaching English there. I got a tour bus to Lhasa and planned on riding my bike across China to Korea from there.

After Tibet

When I arrived in Katmandu I stayed in the Katmandu center of healing for about a week until I got some money and took off to Korea. While I was there I met an American girl who had just taken the weeklong massage course, and I went with her and a couple of people so see a Tibetan medicine woman.

The experience there was a memorable one. We had to wait for like 45 minutes to see her because there were like thirty people in the place waiting. I remember an American woman who was being treated was looking at her like she was God. When it was my turn to go the lady asked me through an interpreter what my problem was and I told her I had asthma and so she smacked me in the face and spit in a cup and made we drink her saliva, which I did; and then she told me to get out of there. After my friends went there I expressed to them how I though that old bag was full of shit, but they said they still thought she was cool. So whatever, I guess the placebo affect doesn't just have to work with pills.

When I left Katmandu I went to Bangkok for a couple days before I took off to Korea.

Trek journal

I left Katmandu on the first of March. The first day I went to Tikendunga. That is where I noticed my rear tire was about to explode from the rum because it is an Indian tire and although it says 26x it is too small for my rim and I have to stretch the metal wire that is the lip which sometimes breaks so there is a place that has ripped free of the wire and was coming through. So I switched the tire with the bald Tiga tire. The next day was the hardest day so far because I had to carry the bike up 2500 meters to Ghoropani where I let it for the rest of the day to Banthanti, which is at 2500 meters. The next day at the tourist info place I strapped a pannier to my back and trotted down up and way down a couple of canyons and made a traverse off the steep hill and down and up another canyon to Dutan which is at 2500 meters. Then on day I hiked to Annapurna Base camp and back to the same lodge. The next day I kicked back to the same lodge I stayed at in Banthanti. On day six I made it back to my bike and rode 3,000 meters down to "Tatopani", which means "Hot water" in Nepali.

There are lovely hot springs there next to the river that are nice and hot, like 105 degrees F. That night I hung out with a few people at the lodge and drank 10 rupee Rakie: Three was a weird 32 year old English man named Jamie who liked to talk about sex. there was a 30 year old English actor with a lot of whit who has lived in New York for the last three years and is moving to Australia. Then there is an active couple from Arizona, a good Irish couple and a young German man. I am finding that I am not knowing people who are my age 24 to be that young. I am guessing 30 year olds to be 24 and 24 year olds to be 30; and people are thinking I am in the late twenties sometimes.

I got stoned for the first time on the trip with Jamie. I had my own dorm room with 4 beds for 20 rupees, set my alarm for 5:30 A.M. From like six. I rode and hiked to Kalopani, gaining meters, Kalopani is a beautiful place 1,200 meters surrounded by mountains. One day I rode down the nice rock pathway to the Kali Gandaki and rode up the river bed but the rear tire finally gave out and I had to run it all the way to Jomsom, but that wasn't too bad because it was only a couple of hours. I bought a couple tires and a tube and kept pinching the tube while I was trying to put the tire on; then I gave up and took it to the shop today (day 9). The man traded tires with me and got a better tire that he didn't want to sell to me before because it was someone else's. But when he was putting it on with one inch wide tire irons he bent my rim way out accidentally and bent it back, causing a big crack in it, but managed to get it on without getting damaged. I think it will make it back.

I had a rest day today, I got the new tire on and tube and went to Marpha and bought a nice pipe for 120 rupees and got my shoes stitched. I ate a lot here. I bought an apple cider last night but it had no kick to it. I bought a Big piper whisky today. There is a Swiss couple staying here with me for two nights in a row. I have to remember to give their blanket back. They gave me one of their two because I said I didn't have any. But I had one I just didn't see it. I want to have an early night tonight and get up early tomorrow, be off by six thirty after I eat. I should be at Muktinath early and can see out the situation with the pass, probably hike over it day after tomorrow. That will be a trip carrying my bike over an 18,000 foot pass. I think it will be on a full moon. I want to be off by 4:00 A.M. in the full moon. I sure hope their is no Avalanche danger. Since I will get to Muktinath early tomorrow maybe I will sleep the rest of the day so I could hike the pass the next morning. Maybe I could hike it with another tourist, our paces would probably be similar.

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Tibet

The tour bus had me, a English printer, a German woman, a young shy French map maker girl, and an older English guy who went to Tibet every year to buy rugs to sell in England. This guy lived in Kathmandu and was married and had kids. He said he made 45 thousand dollars the year before doing that. We started at about six in the morning and drove a little bit to the east and then drove up a dirt road a little bit to a town were we did the boarder formalities.


After crossing the boarder we went up all day long past the jungle and into the Tibetan tundra. Pretty soon we were in a desert landscape where there was no vegetation at all inside a big wide canyon that slithered along until we got to a roadside inn. This part of the world was very desolate, and if it wasn't for the traffic coming through I don't think there would be anybody living there. But I was very interested to see that there seemed to be ruins of an ancient city in one of the empty valleys we drove through. In this valley I saw like fifty very ancient ruins of two story buildings spread out over an area of about a square kilometer. I pointed it out to my tour mates, but they didn't seem very interested though. The entire tour to Lhasa took eleven days, so I don't remember every place we slept at, but I remember after the driving around the desolate river valley, and seeing a couple of exhausted looking bike tourists, we entered a perfectly flat and barren alpine tundra, and looking to the

south and seeing Mount Everest in the distance just shooting straight out of the flatness. Our pit stops were very primitive, the toilets were just holes in the ground, and all the stores sold were crackers and water. After a couple days we climbed up a long shallow graded mountainside up and over a pass that was over 5,000 meters, and down down and down and passing some more ruins and finally low enough for the first trees to reappear at an impressively high 13,000 feet.

For the whole trip the Tibetan people were obviously of a distinct racial group. They had Chinese looking faces, except a little bit chubbier and with darker skin and big thick curly afros. The first town we arrived in was obviously influenced by China because half of the buildings were lined with tiny square blue tiles that I found to be tacky looking.

The next day we drove down a wide river valley towards the east, passing occasional farms. The landscape was desolate except for the trees lining the river. After a day or two we arrived at the second largest city in Tibet called Shingatse. Here we did a tour of a monastery that according to my Lonely Planet book used to be a rival of the Dalai Lamas group in Lhasa.

Tibet has had a pretty rough last 50 years because of the Chinese invasion in the fifties. Since then the Chinese government moved nine million Chinese into Tibet, and now out number the seven million Tibetans left. From these statistics one might think that this would lead to racial tension, but I didn't hear of any, nor did I notice or feel any stress or segregation as I walked the streets.

The next day we drove a couple hours down the road to a famous ancient monastery whose name I can't remember. It had the same layout as the one in Shingatse, with the main temple a large square building with a big room in the middle and a lot of their gods painted on the walls.

Lhasa is in a beautiful setting in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is a little dry for my tastes though. It is about the same size as my hometown of Boulder, which is smaller than I expected it to me.

When we got to Lhasa we stopped and checked out an old statue carved into the roadside cliff. Then we went straight to our hotel, which was a huge monstrosity surely built just for the tourists who go there.

Just as soon as we got there we were greeted by a really up tight and angry Chinese guy who told us he was our hotel guide, which is the weirdest thing. Who needs a hotel guide? We spent the first day doing tours of a couple monasteries around the city. There was one monastery in the foothills that was built up on the hillside and had a lot of buildings connected to each other with walkways. It was in a beautiful setting because there were huge rocks all over the place. The place used to be a lot bigger but had shrunken a lot since the Chinese invasion in 1955. Our guide took us around showing us the artwork and relics and telling us about Tibetan mythology and gods but I hardly understood what he was saying.

The first day I was there I tried to get money out with my Visa card but was surprised to find out that no bank in the whole city accepted Visa. I should have known though seeing that this was Tibet, where the idiot Chinese try to make things difficult for tourist who only come there to see the Buddhist stuff; but that makes the Chinese really upset, whether its because they are paranoid that we will help free Tibet, or they are just embarrassed they invaded and destroyed another country I don't know. When I told my group that I couldn't get any money out I said I was thinking about just riding my bike out to the next big city where I surely could get money out. One guy in my group, an older English guy who went to Tibet every year to buy rugs told me he could get me a Tibetan visa with a lady he knew, but for some stupid reason I didn't take him up on that. I eventually told them I would just sell my stuff off to get a place ticket.

While I was collecting my stuff to sell in my room our guide told me my group wanted to talk to me so I went down to the bus and they all took turns telling me that the paranoid Chinese guide guy told them that if I wasn't on the plane back to Katmandu with them, they couldn't go either because they were on a visa tied to mine. They were really freaked out. I told them not to worry and set out riding my bike around the town. The first place I went to was another, smaller more posh hotel where there were a lot of Singaporean's who bought some of my stuff. I sold my altitude watch and camera and some other stuff to them. I saw a lot of Tibetan street vendors selling stuff in front of the hotel and so I set my stuff up next to them. After a couple minutes they all came up to me and gave me money, and after a couple minutes they had given me about 30 bucks! I felt a little awkward after that so I got my stuff and rode around to some other places and sold stuff to some tourists. Lhasa has a lot of tourists there as you might imagine, being the home of Buddhism. The Chinese tried to destroy it after they invaded by kicking out the monks and destroying the statues, but in the last ten years or so, various groups have been donating money to replace the statues and monasteries and stuff. Probably one of the strangest traveling scenes I have ever experienced was the monks and nuns doing their prostrations around the Pokhara palace like they had been doing for hundreds of years, except now they had to do in in the middle of traffic with cars and buses swerving around them!

The tour up the palace was fascinating because it was absolutely huge. It is built up on a hill that is smack dab in the middle of the city. It housed hundred of monks and nuns back in the day and was full of big meditation rooms. The center of the palace was nice, it had a plaza with a dining room kind of on stilts above it. The second most interesting place we went to in Lhasa, which exists in Katmandu also, is the monastery where the debating monks are. This is were the monks all get together in a big yard in their monastery and debate about the laws of the mind or whatever. The way they did it was unlike anything I have ever seen. They were all in there together making a ton of noise. They were in groups of two usually with one guy practically yelling, though with a smile on his face, and clapping his hands as he made his point, and on when he made his final point he would make a giant clap and let one of his hands sail through the air as if it was over. It was funny seeing all of the monks making the same clapping gesture. We went to another monastery where they were doing a special kind of prayer using incense.

Lhasa was an interesting mix between the Chinese and Tibetan cultures because everything that was Chinese was so different that what was Tibetan. The Tibetan buildings were all white washed and roofed with wood, whereas the Chinese buildings were all covered in tiny blue tiles that made them look really cheap and cheesy to me. The people looked noticeably different also because the Tibetans are browner and have darker, thicker, curlier hair. The Tibetan dress is also different than the Chinese. The Tibetans wore old used robes and the Chinese were just in plain trousers.

While I was in the hotel all by myself once, one of the hotel employees wanted to go to a restaurant and have a bite with me, so we went to a noodle place about a block away. I talked a lot to the guy who could speak a little English. He wasn't very outgoing though and hardly said anything, which was strange and made me thing later that maybe the angry hotel guide guy put him up to it to see if I was a spy or something. Our hotel guide was really strange, he was almost angry with us, and especially me when he found out I couldn't get any money out of the bank. It was as if he was himself telling us that Tibet belonged to his people and there was nothing we could do about it, even though we never implied that it wasn't.

The flight back to Katmandu relieved how much of a dessert of rolling hills Tibet was. I got a glimpse of Mount Everest out of the right side of the plane which was higher than we were, which was cool because we flew right buy it.

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Korea

I called ex-students of Joe and Rana right from the Airport, and afterwards I tried to find out which way was north so I could orientate myself with the map I had, but literally no one there knew, so I had to just ask which way Seoul was. It took me a couple hours to get to the Coffee shop that Joe and Rana told me about, and sure enough I saw some whities there who told me where I could find a place to stay. I stayed for a couple days in a place that was full of foreigners. The living situation there was different from what I had seen before. There was a central area that was basically outside other than the fact that there were sheets of steel placed above to keep it dry when it rained. It was a cozy environment though.



Joe and Rana told me that Korea was a very safe place and I got that feeling also from the obvious homogenous and routine ways of the people. So I didn't bother to even unlock my bike from a post across the street even though it was smack dab in the middle of the city. But sure enough when I went to unlock it it was still there. After a couple of days in the residential I heard of another one that that was smaller that I liked more so I moved. My room was tiny and the only furnishing it had was a mattress, but it was good enough for me, and worth the rent of $130 because it was in the center of the city. I had four western roommates in that small place, and I don't even remember any Koreans living there besides the owners of the place who were a man, woman and their son who we never talked to. There was a rock climber from LA who was just traveling, and three other English teachers: An American guy Brian, an American girl Amy, and an English girl whose name I don't remember, and an English guy whose name I don't remember. They had all been in Korea a couple years and made their money giving private classes, which paid like twenty bucks an hour.

When I first got there I got a part time job teaching in an Institute not far from where I lived, but that didn't last long because I just took over for the last few hours of the course. The English teaching there was fun and easy. I just went into the classroom with half a dozen students and we would just talk and sing songs together. I tried to bring lessons but the students were really laid back and just wanted to have fun. There were a lot of cute girls there who wanted to know if I had a girlfriend, and I went on a date with one of my students who called herself Moonbeam. Most Koreans who study and relate with Westerners have Western names because they don't think we can pronounce their Korean names. I didn't call her anymore though because I got involved with this Christian group that took most of my spare time.

When I arrived there I didn't have any money and even went to a homeless shelter for free food where they gave me some cookies but told me to not come back because it was for Koreans. After a couple of days there some fundamentalist Christian girls who taught English and were soldiers in the base approached me to talk about God, and one of them told me the school she worked for, called a ''Hogwon,'' was hiring. So I called the principal of the school and was hired at $1.8 million Won a month. I liked the idea of teaching little six year olds so I took the job, but after my first day of work the woman Mrs. Cho called me in her office and told me my salary was actually 1.4 million and I just accepted that. But the next day when I went in she told me it was actually $1.1 million. That night I told my roommates and they said that that kind of behavior was typical in Korea and that if you give them an inch they will take a mile and to be very careful because most English teachers there get ripped off. So the next day I went into work and told her I wanted 1.5 million won and she said it wasn't up to her to decide and that I had to call the central office and ask an American guy who was supposedly in charge of that. I didn't bother and told her that I was going to get work elsewhere and she suddenly told me that 1.5 million was fine. There was another institute that was begging me over the phone when I was in her office talking to her, but I decided to work for the Hogwon because I was more interested in teaching little kids than adults.

At that school, which was called PSA (pre school academy) there was a system where each class is shared by a Korean woman and the foreign teacher. I took over the foreign teachers job from an American guy named Vaughn. My partner teacher was a Korean girl who grew up in Africa for a while and then Vancouver and had lived in Vancouver for the last eight years. This girl could speak English fine but she had zero personality, so we just ignored each other and did our own part. I was in charge of taking the kids in the other room and doing the workbooks with them. After school I also did a reading class with a smaller group of kids. During lunchtime they had playtime in the basement which was fun.

I also had three hours a day in the afternoon at another school for kids from 13-15 at a private English academy. That job was alright with the younger kids, but the fifteen year olds were down right depressed and didn't have any interest in learning English, and I didn't really blame them either because the book I had to use with them was really boring. It was just a story I we had to read together about some cowboy or something. At that school I had I think three classes a day separated by ten minute breaks when I would hang out with the other English teachers. The other teachers there were Vaughn, and a Canadian girl, a young American guy, another older American guy who was openly gay , and an ex-army American dude. They all got their jobs from the states so they were on year long contracts and were living in normal Apartment buildings as roommates near the school. They had a totally different living situation than the people I lived with and hung out with in the Internet cafe I went to.

I went to an internet cafe that was frequented basically only by westerners. There were a lot, all of whose names I can't remember any more. Most of them were Canadians. There was Cam who had lived there a couple of years and was renting his own house. He had a party once that was fun. I got really drunk and hungry and bought a can of soaked cock roaches at the local convenience store-hole in the wall. I don't even know why they sold soaked cockroaches, but at the time I assumed they were for human consumption so I took them back to the party and began eating them. I remember they were quite filling, but they were very bitter and after about half the can my mouth was burning with excruciating pain so I had to stop. I tried to share them with the others but nobody was interested. There was a world cup game on that morning that I watched before crashing out there. The next morning I went to work.

Another guy who was always there was from Boulder, he made his money selling Dungeons and Dragons type playing cards to the soldiers. He only worked on Sundays and had the rest of the week off. Amy my house mate was a regular there, and there was a Canadian couple who had been there a year. I think the guys name was Jerry, and he coincidently knew Cam from Canada. For some reason most of the English teachers in Korea were Canadian. There was another American couple from Seattle, and an American high school girl who was an exchange student. I think there were some more but I can't remember them.

That internet cafe acted as a home away from home for everybody. I didn't hang out there as much as the rest of the people though, it seemed like most of them were there all the time. An ex-pat living in Korea definitely needs to have a support base of other foreigners because Koreans are very strange and don't mix well with foreigners. We had to get together and talk trash about the Koreans in order to keep a healthy state of mind.

Korea is a very strange country, mainly because it has historically been very isolated from the rest or the world. This has fermented strong ethnocentrism and fear of other countries changing them. For example, Koreans are always trying to push their customs on people who come there, not because they make sense, but because ''that is how its done here''. For example you can't ever take your shirt off even if you are in the middle of the woods. Another example is one day we had a parent teacher conference in the preschool I worked at, and in an attempt at conversation I asked one of the fathers what he did and he said, "Businessman''. The girl I worked with overheard that and told me that in Korea it is rude to ask someone what they do.

I found out throughout the years that in poor countries it is kind of awkward asking what people do; they don't seem to want to go there. I think it is because it exposes how boring or screwed up their lives are and just becomes embarrassing for both of us. So if you want to strike up a kind of relationship with them you have to get good at small talk. Another reason is that in a lot of undeveloped countries the people are used to compartmentalizing responsibilities and knowledge so that the people in power can keep their power and continue to lie. Its difficult to explain, but this issue comes up a lot in places where I got to know a little bit. It obviously isn't like that with everyone, but its worth mentioning.

I had some private students while I was there. A doctor and his wife in their apartment building. They were fun to teach because I just talked to them for an hour with the help of a conversation topics book. I had another woman who I talked to and proofread her masters paper on sea biology. I also taught her teenage sons a couple times. I also taught a little girl a couple times, but my time was limited with her so that didn't last long. Another guy I had for the whole time I was there was a college English professor who taught English by recording news in English and then writing the transcripts. He would pay me for an hour a week to listen to the news with him and complete the words that he didn't understand.

From teaching them and waling around the neighborhood I got to see how the city layout is. Seoul is a very new city. It sprung up out of the ashes of the Korean war fifty years ago, and is now the the tenth largest city in the world. One website even said it is the third largest city in the world. It has about 20 million people it it. It is pretty big in size, but the people are packed in there good because I didn't see any houses. In the historical and business center where I lived there were residences packed in between the large buildings. But in most of the rest of the city everybody lived in big twenty story apartment buildings that were packed together for as far as the eye can see.

The food was very good in Korea. For three bucks you can buy a delicious plate of grilled beef with fried vegetables. But it was healthy, its not fried with tons of oil. They cook it right in front of you on your table which has a cooker in the middle. Their national food is Kim Chi, which is fermented cabbage with red pepper mixed in. I liked it but most foreigners didn't because the taste and smell is very strong. Every Korean house smells like Kim Chi and I could even smell it on the Koreans themselves. Sea food is also good and cheap there. One interesting thing they eat there are squid tentacles that are still alive, so you have to be careful and chew it good so it doesn't wrap itself around in your throat and choke you. Because Koreans have such healthy eating habits the people are very fit even though they don't exercise very much. In fact I don't think I saw any fat Koreans.

There is one unhealthy thing about their lifestyle though, and that is their national alcoholic drink called Soju. Soju is the absolute cheapest way one can derive alcohol from rice. A liter of the stuff costed less than a dollar and if you try to drink the whole liter than its bye bye; you will literally black out. I remember one time I went drinking with some of my house mates and I accidentally drank too much Soju which needless to say is easy to do because it is so strong you could probably run your car off of it. The last thing I remember was we were outside in a little park area and I went to a bush to take a whiz, and the next thing I remember is suddenly waking up at three in the afternoon the next day in my bed with puke all over me. I got up and walked downstairs my house mates were there sitting on the steps of their rooms in the central circle. They all laughed when they saw me with the puke all over my shirt, and I had to ask them what happened. They said I went to the bush to pee and suddenly fell over it and passed out. They said when they woke me up I took my pants off and tried to start a fight with some sober koreans walking down the road. From then on I treated Soju with a fear based respect, but kept buying it on occasion, but letting a litter last a few days. I wasn't the only fool to fall victim to soju though. I little bit before I arrived there, there was a story in the newspaper of three executives of a big company who were found dead with a couple of empty bottles of Soju next to them. I was selling cigars on the street while I was there, and it was very interesting so see all the drunk people. Koreans got drunker than anybody I have ever seen, including the drunken Indians I ran across in the states. In fact, can't imagine any group of people drunker than the Koreans. Up until then my idea of a drunk was someone who was stumbling down the road blabbering incoherently, but the Koreans take it to a whole new level. Every night I went out I saw a bunch of Koreans, male and female, slung over their friends shoulders because they were completely passed out. I even saw a bunch of professionals with their business suits on passed out on the sidewalk; and that is all because of the Soju.

The Korean people have a love-hate relationship with Westerners. On one hand I was always coming across Koreans who wanted to talk to me and invited me to hang out with them, and even thanked me for freeing them from the Communists and kick starting their country as if I was an an ambassador for the west. But on the other hand I came across a lot of Koreans who were down right rude to me. I was given the finger on the street once, and it wasn't uncommon for them to give me a dirty look. Also the women I worked with didn't want to have anything to do with me, but that could have just been the school I worked at. There was just as much of a chance that if I had of been at another place they would have wanted to hang out with me.

Koreans were basically going through a bit of an identity crises. For hundreds of years they were known as the ''Hermit Kingdom'' because of their unwillingness to trade with other countries. For more than a thousand years they have had their own language and they tell me they even look a little different than the Japanese and Chinese. So after the Korean war when America came in and kick started their economy with American businesses and our political system, they had to suddenly open up to the rest of the world. They were still a third world country until the Olympics in 88 when they started to get a strong electronics industry going. Until just a couple months before I went there Korea and the rest of Asia was in such a big boom exporting goods to the States and Europe that their currency deflated by like %100 or something and pretty soon a lot of people were out of work. When I was there Koreans were always trying to tell me that their country was going through a tough time but I didn't see any crises. I think the Koreans over reacted a bit to that crises because the IMF bailed them out anyway. But because of the crises a lot of people stopped taking English classes, but even more English teachers left because the currency devalued, so there were still Koreans falling over each other trying to hire English teachers.

The Koreans were kind of having an identity crises between the sexes also. Traditionally the women stayed at home and the men work, but I could see that would have to start changing pretty soon because of the increasing influence of the Western world. Because women were kind of oppressed there and were super hot because of the healthy diet, a lot of the male Westerners had Korean girlfriend. I say male westerners because in was obvious that all the guys had Korean girlfriends but non of the female English teachers had boyfriends. The main reason is that the Korean girls are so hot and slave over their men, but the men are generally kind of nerdy and not very respectful of women. One example is I was having lunch in a restaurant with a Korean girl who hung out with us in the cafe. She was spoke perfect English an was married to an American guy. While we were talking she accidentally let out a little belch, and these two suited middle aged men sitting next to us yelled at her in Korean and told her she wasn't being lady like. So she yelled something at in Korean to shut up and that she can belch if she wants to. I could tell how some of the Korean women I worked with didn't seem to like men. One reason they didn't really want to talk to me could have been because I am a man. I remember one time at the institute I worked at we were going out to have something to eat and drink with the guys who worked there, and one of the guys invited the lady who managed the place and she said, ''No I don't want to hang out with a bunch of guys''.

After three months in Korea I had to leave the country to renew my visa, so I went to Tokyo for three days. Overall I was in Korea for only five and a half months but I had a lot of different things going on. I had four distinct groups of Westerners that I hung out with. 1) My housemates, 2) The people in the internet cafe, who strangely enough, other than Amy weren't the same as my housemates even though I lived like two blocks from the cafe. My housemates went to two different cafes. 3) The contracted teachers in the institute for teenagers that I worked at. 4) The Fundamentalist Christians. I also read the majority of the two thousand page book called A Course in Miracles when I was there, and went to the gym regularly. I think I got the biggest muscularly than I have ever gotten when I was there. I remember at one point I weighed in at 74 kilos.

For the first couple months I was there I was heavily involved in a Canadian and American group of fundamentalist Christians. I met them from a few girls who stopped me in the subway station and wanted to talk about God. I had never been involved with Jesus freaks so I decided I would go to their church and see what made them tick. I went to their church group and the men were very eager to meet me and give me a series of lessons. After I hung out with them a couple of times one American guy whose name I don't remember became the leader in their quest to convert me. For a couple months, other than their Sunday sermons, I hung out with them like three or four times a week where they would give me different lessons in a very specific order.

As far as I can remember the order of the lessons where something like this: 1) Every part of the Bible is the word of God, so you can't question any of it. 2) No other book in the world is the word of God, and any other book that claims to be of any moral or philosophical authority is of the Devil and therefore ''dangerous''. 3) The final and most important lesson was the ''light and dark'' study. Its basic thesis is that you are either with God or with the Devil. If you are with God you will go to heaven for eternity when you die, and if you are with the Devil you will go to hell for eternity. Although none of them accepted my challenge to look me in the eye and tell me I was going to Hell for eternity when I die; which shows that they weren't one hundred percent sure of that part of their lesson.

The way their conversations with me would go is one of them would explain the principles of their beliefs to me as long windedly as possible and then the next guy would basically repeat word for word what his friend before him said. And as soon as they were finished with their speeches they had to take off before giving me the change to say anything.

Most of the meetings where just me and the kid who took it upon himself to be my main ''guide'' into their faith. But the final lesson, the ''light and dark'' study, was attended by two other guys. They were very serious about this meeting because it was their final class with me before they wanted to convert me. While they were giving me the lesson they told me that they planned to Baptize me the following Sunday, and talked so seriously that I was sweating the whole time like I had just come out of a shower and it wasn't even hot in the room we where in, which was very strange. This lesson was mainly about the dangers of the Devil, so the meeting was full of fear and dread. All of them liked to point out how joining the Church saved their lives. One guy told me that he was sure he would be gay if he hadn't joined the Church, and another guy freaked out and told at me yelling with tears in his eyes that he was seduced by the Devil and screwed a prostitute once because he wasn't part of the Church at the time. I tried to get a word in but as usual they became tired because we had been talking until four in the morning

So in the end after the thirty or so times I had met with them I had never actually said anything to them. The whole time was them preaching to me and then suddenly having to go. The reason they didn't kept the hope alive that they could actually convert me was that I did listen to them for so long, and they must have never met anyone who had listed to them so much and not joined them. I just wanted to see if they were capable in listening and philosophizing. I didn't go to their church for about three weeks after that meeting because I was busy and problems with the metro, but when I did manage to go back and see the guy who was in charge of my conversion, he kind of exasperatedly said, ''What do you want Kyle?'' as if he had given up on me. I just said I wanted to philosophize to him and mainly wrap up what we had been talking about for like two months, so we went to the local coffee shop in the building. I tried to answer the different points they made but they didn't want to talk about that, so I said I just wanted to philosophize and he said he didn't philosophize, which is mainly all I wanted him to say, admit that he didn't philosophize. And they also admitted proudly that they were ''blind followers'' which they said in their own words. One of the main things they prided in themselves were their ''conviction'' which meant their ability to be blind followers of the very specific rules that they went by. The two guys I meet with only wanted to talk for a couple minutes and had to go because they seemed to see me as a lost cause. But before I let them go I asked them to look me in the eye and tell me that I was going to hell when I die because I'm not part of their church as they had told me with conviction that they believed that at least 90% of the people in the world were destined for an eternity in hell, even other people who called themselves Christians but weren't real Christians for this reason or that. They couldn't look me in the eye and tell me that though, and then I told them that I wasn't destined for Hell and that in fact we would see each other one day in another life time even if it was millions of years in the future in another planet, but all they could say was that they hoped to see me again in this lifetime.

So that was wrapped up and I learned a lot about how to deal with fundamentalists. The main lesson was to make it clear to anyone that I would speak to in the future that I am already familiar with their beliefs and don't need to hear them over and over again, and make it clear that I want them to listen to what I have to say and if they don't, not to waste their time and expect me to follow them. When talking to fundamentalists it is important to very quickly get to the main points which are: 1) Explain why they shouldn't be so preoccupied with the Devil and evil, 2) Why they should have a more open mind to similarities to their religion in other philosophies, 3) Why they should believe in reincarnation. If I ever talk to a fundamentalist who is able to listen to those three points then I am sure they won't be a fundamentalist for long, as the very definition of a fundamentalist is - someone who is unable to even listen to any idea that is outside of the rules of their narrow minded framework.

Cigar selling

A lot of foreigners in Korea make their living selling goods on the street that they buy in warehouses there. Joe and Rana made three thousand dollars in three days selling jewelry on a vacation island in Korea, so they flew home for a week but when they went back there were cops there who didn't let them. One of the activities that I had while I was in Korea was Cigar selling. I got into it because some of my friends were selling jewelry on the street, and my roommate was selling cigars that he bought from an Irish guy and a South African guy who bought them in the Philippines. Those two guys had me, Neil, a couple from the states, and another American guy selling for them. They told me they were seeded in Cuba and put stickers on them that said they were Cuban cigars, and that is what I sold them as, but they weren't very good. On the weekend nights I went to the pedestrian mall near where I lived and sold them for a few hours. I just stood there and watched people walk by, and every once in a while someone would buy one from me. At the beginning I would yell that I had cigars for sale, but I don't think that helped much and I stopped doing that pretty quick.

It was from was selling cigars on the street that I noticed how drunk Koreans get and how they all dress in conservatively in black. Mostly they were friendly enough to me, but one young guy gave me the finger, and another time some guy tried to take my cigar and walk off without paying for it, but his friend stopped him; and one time a guy spit it out. I made about a hundred dollars a day for three or four days for their national holiday where they are supposed to buy presents for each other, but the cops kicked me out of the mall I went to on the last day. I sold in three different places. I went to one place to sell with my roommate Neil once. We would play video games, and sell, and play some more video games. I got really good at one car racing game that I played every day because video games are cheap there and the arcades are all over the place. One time while I was selling during the holiday a really drunk guy walked up to me and kept trying to talk to me for about a half hour. He was trying desperately to communicate with me, but he wasn't even speaking Korean, it sounded like he was trying to pronounce something in English but was nowhere near pronouncing anything. He spoke exactly like a severely retarded person. It was weird because he was in good shape and dressed normally. After I realized that he wasn't going to go away I went back home, but he followed me all the way to the subway. When I paid to go past the gate he just jumped over it and followed me in the subway. In the subway he became more desperate and started to yell and cry at me, but all I could do is stand there and look at him because he wasn't making any sense. When I got out of the subway and was a block from my house, I ran away from him the long way around to block to shake him, and he chased me for a little bit, but luckily I was able to out run him by the time I got to my house. One time while I was selling in another mall an American fundamentalist came up to me and told me he felt sad for me when he saw me selling there on the street and wanted to convert me to God, so I told him of my experience with the fundamentalists there and then told him about aliens and the Urantia book for about an hour; and I actually had a really good night selling that night while I was talking to him.

On the street I noticed that there were a lot of really drunk American soldiers out there on the weekends, but they mainly hung out where the prostitutes are. Once I went there with my friends from the institute. It was an an inclining strip on a small street where there were no cars at night a couple blocks from the Mosque. The place was lined with a bunch of whore houses with nasty looking prostitutes and had tons of drunk hill billy soldiers who were eager to talk to me. There were a lot of corn cobbed hip hop looking black soldiers who looked like they were right out of a Snoop Doggy Dog video, and there were a couple of huge Military Police standing guard. The American soldiers had a bad reputation for raping Korean women there. I saw a couple demonstrations on the street against the violence of the soldiers.

I talked to one girl for a while who had nothing but bad things to say about being in the military, and that she can't wait to get out. When I told one guy that I was from Colorado he said, ''Oh that's where all the tree huggers are from!''. I was standing next to the gay guy I work with and one soldier just out of the blue started yelling at him and telling him he was going to kick his ass, so my friend just stood there, but the guy kept going on. Pretty soon after that we went to a Korean restaurant.

There were about 40,000 soldiers on the base in Seoul and on the surrounded bases and the five or so kilometer wide demilitarized zone on the border with North Korea. I walked past their town within Seoul once and it looked just like a middle class American neighborhood with the houses, schools, and streets exactly like it is in America; which was weird because Seoul has nothing but big apartment buildings. A lot of the people in my Christian group were soldiers.

I had a TV in my room and every night I would watch the tonight show on the army bases channel. It was a government sponsored channel so there weren't any commercials, so they played really weird progaganda-type commercials. The strangest one was a of a toddler riding his tricycle along the median of a highway with semis driving by, and the narrator says, "This child has less of a chance of getting hit by a car than you do of getting skin cancer, put sun screen on!''. There were a lot of anti suicide commercials also. They would usually show a depressed looking kid in his room and the narrator would say, ''If you are sad, seek help!'' and then it would show his friends coming in and taking him out to do something fun and he would cheer up.

My time in Korea was fast and fun, and when I left I had $6,700 in the bank.

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Japan

The Tokyo airport was very large and not near the city. I had to take a van for what seemed to be a couple hours to the train station. Tokyo was similar to Korea because the people look similar the infrastructure is built up with many large buildings jammed together. But Tokyo was clearly more built up and cleaner. The main difference between Tokyo and Seoul is the difference in personality between the citizens. Koreans are very loud and are always laughing and smiling, but the Japanese were very somber and walked very fast as if they were late for something. There was a marked difference in dress also. Koreans dress very formally with suits and black clothing, whereas the Japanese dress down more. I saw a lot more of them dressed in blue jeans. The first thing I did when I got off the bus was walk down a narrow road to have a bowl of noodles. I immediately noticed how expensive Tokyo was after looking at the menu, but the place was very clean and smartly decorated. After that I took the subway to the center where I got a veggie Subway sandwich and a drink for six bucks. I can get a Subway sandwich at home for three and a half bucks. Then I went to the biggest arcade I have ever seen. It had two levels and was filled with lots of games I have never seen before. It seemed like the social scene of the teenagers was centered around the arcades dance games, because there was a group of about ten kids surrounding each beat step game religiously watching the participant.

I had been thinking about dancing in Tokyo at one point because I had been working out and I had met a guy in Denver who said he went there as part of a Chip 'n Dales troupe and make 75 thousand bucks in one month, so I asked some people if there were any Chip n Dales type dance places. I asked a few people if

they spoke English and a few of them decisively said no. But I found a waiter walking down the road who took it personally upon himself to take me and ask everyone on the street where a place was. He asked an old lady and she non chalontly gave directions to a place down the road, so the waiter took me about four blocks out of his way to find the place but we were successful. After dealing with that guy I had noticed that the Japanese people will either totally ignore you and not even give you the time of day, or they will go totally out of their way and personally drop you off at where you want to go. They didn't seem to understand the idea of just pointing me in the right direction. Sometimes it made it kind of a pain to find my way because I would have to ask like fifteen people before someone was willing to help me. I had this experience a lot around the metro with people taking me by the hand and taking me all the way to the metro stop. I wish I knew how to say ''OK that's enough you can go on your way now'' in Japanese. I felt invisible in Japan compared to Korea. In Korea people stare at me a lot more and approach me wanting to talk to me, but in Japan that didn't happen even once.

The subway in Tokyo is ridiculously expensive. It costs three bucks just to ride one line, and if you have to transfer you have to pay another three bucks! So what if you have to get to a place that takes three separate subway lines?! Because of how expensive the subways were there I was surprised that I hardly saw any people commuting by bicycle.

The foreigners I saw walking the streets of Tokyo were different than in Seoul and there were a lot more of them. In Seoul the people were a lot more dressed down and generally younger, whereas in Tokyo the Westerners were very somber looking and dresses like million dollar executives. While I was walking the streets looking for the dance bar I ran across a couple discos that only allowed Japanese. I walked in a couple of bars that were just Americans; the Hard Rock Cafe being one of them, which was totally packed with partying people. I saw a lot of Black people working there in restaurants, I saw lots of black people working the streets in the pedestrian section trying to get people into bars. One very persistent and annoying black man approached me and was trying to get me to just walk into his bar, but I didn't want to. He asked me to guess where he was from and so I guessed some African countries and he got mad and told me he was from Jamaica. I noticed that the Japanese like making sex symbols out of the women. Everywhere I turned I saw drop dead Japanese girls dressed up in the streets. They must have been dancers or prostitutes. There were rooms all over the place were you pay to see a girl do a strip dance on the other side of the glass, but there were no places for guys. The guy who talked to me must have been on a special tour or something. I don't think I would have ever actually danced in a Chip 'n Dales that anyway.

The other weird thing about Japanese people is how they are always saying ''hi'', which means ''ok''. They would pronounce it in a very quick and powerful way as if they were sneezing the word out. They said ''hi'' so much I was almost cracking up to myself everywhere I went because they were always saying it. For example I would present a drink I wanted to buy to the cashier and she would say ''hi'' and take my money and then say ''hi'' again.

Tokyo was very expensive to get a place to stay in. I heard that the cheapest place to stay were small beds that slide out of the wall. That would have been interesting but it wasn't worth the 30 bucks that I heard they costed, so I found a place to camp under a bush on the other side of a tall metal fence in a park. It was a little drizzly that night but I slept well. My brother later told me that it actually is legal to camp out in the parks in Tokyo as long as you are up before the sun rises. My brother did that but was awakened by a foot of an angry territorial man in his ribs. Personally I would never have done that. As a rule I usually only camp where no one can see me which generally isn't that hard to do.

My first full day there I walked around the parks looking at the parks and the beautifully trimmed trees. Then I went to the imperial palace which is where the

Emperors of Japan lived for like a thousand years or something. The palace was was up on a hill surrounded by a wide mote. The palace itself wasn't that big but it was surrounded by a very large and pretty garden.

After the palace I walked down the bike path full of fit looking athletes a couple of blocks to the children's science museum which was very good. While I was touring the museum I got the impression that the Japanese are very intelligent people who have a very developed sense of how they want their world to look like in the future. They had models of underground buildings and parking garages, and a lot of interesting interactive science exhibits that taught me a lot.

My final day there was a Monday so I went to the Korean consulate. The consulate was kind of tucked away in an obscure corner of the city and took me a lot of time walking around looking for it. I quickly learned that the Japanese call the Koreans ''Honguk''. At the embassy the girl told me that I couldn't get a visa on such short notice but I told her that my plane was leaving the next day so she gave me one.

I camped in the same place as I did the night before, and got up early the next morning because I had to catch the plane back to Korea. I had a little trouble finding a place to eat so early, and walked into a fancy hotel, but after seeing that a small breakfast with a tea, two eggs, and a piece of bread for eleven bucks, I had to back out. The waiter was understanding though and told me where I could find something to eat that was more reasonably priced. After I had breakfast I went back to the airport and flew back to Seoul after three days in Tokyo.

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Thailand
First time after Katmandu

The first time I went to Bangkok after Nepal I knew about Khowsan road, but had forgotten about it or wasn't interested, I can't remember which. But nevertheless I got a hotel in the center of the city across the street from a big indoor supermarket which I took a walk through. But most of the couple day I was there, besides the trip to the Korean embassy to get my Korean visa, I was just Chillen in my hotel room because it was so nice and I had a TV with cable and I just wanted to hang out. I remember I really liked the Janet Jackson video, ''Party all night'' or something like that.

Second time after Korea
Journal

After Korea I had kind of a culture shock seeing bunches of grungy spaced out tourists on Kowsan road in Bangkok, I bought myself a tie dye outfit and quickly got used to the relaxed world of being a tourist. After three days of getting caught up on all the new movies (I loved starship troopers) and seeing the sights, I got a desperate urge to "get the fuck out of Dodge" and hit the Tai autobahn.

Riding through Thailand was great on the grounds that I had a huge shoulder allowing me to groove to my newly acquired tunes. When I got to Surat Thani I went to Phan Ghang island and tried to do the scuba diving class. But I told the anal Germans who ran the place that I have asthma, so I had to do the course on Samui island.


Breathing under water was a little freaky for the first twenty seconds or so, but after I got used to it, it turned out to be a fascinating activity that I can't see myself ever getting bored of. I think I want to buy my own scuba gear one day, an Irish guy told me you could get a used setup of as little as $500 U.S. I didn't see a whole lot of fish though because I was there at the same time as the boat sinking, plane crashing storm.

I tattooed my scar there and loved the party atmosphere, but was eager to leave when the diving was done.

I have been thinking about a movie I want to make called ''ultimate warrior'', it is about a man who lives on a planet about 100X the size of earth who was recently catapulted from the stone age to present technology because of an upliftment mission from earth. They brought all this technology, but the people don't understand were it came from and don't really care about it. They don't travel because of an ignorant cultural habit of being afraid until one day the hero, Martico, who is very gullible and open minded but not too bright meets an old drunk man walking down the road at night who babbles, "The golden amulet make money and power,

midnight runners know; help me, help yourself". Martico takes this to mean he must travel the globe to find the golden amulet and give it to the midnight runners to save Gargantuan's, or something like that. Because of the vastness of the planet and all the different tribes there are so different, the hero has a magnificent adventure and meets strange people.

Re-telling

When I flew into Bangkok I had heard about Kowsan road and wanted to stay there so I took the bus there with the other tourists who wanted to stay there.

Khowsan road is the place where all the cheap travelers hotels are and it is lined with cyber cafes, Thai related stores, and restaurants that play movies every night. The travelers there were pretty closed up in their own worlds though and I didn't really meet anybody.

The first day I was there I did a tour of the old royal city which was similar to the royal city in Katmandu in architecture but the buildings were much more elaborate and shiny. A couple of the buildings were covered in gold, and the ones that weren't were painted like new. The whole complex was walled in and was kind of like a mini city within a city. There was also a museum there that was housed in the old government building where the French ruled over Thailand for some time.

Then I went to the famous Thai massage school where they give Thai massages but I was stupid and didn't get a Thai massage there, instead I got a Thai massage later from an old man on Khowsan road who gave me a pretty bad one. Because Thailand is famous for Thai massages, a lot of untrained Thais advertise that they give Thai massages but they are really bad. Then I went to see the reclining Buddha which is a giant gold plated Buddha that is laying on his side. I saw a couple more things at that complex which was near the royal city but I don't remember what was there.

I also did a tour of the market place near the river and did a river tour. Bangkok is connected by a network of rivers similar to Amsterdam. Where a lot of people get around the city on transport boats.

I knew about the sex bars where there are holes in the bar where girls zip down your pants and suck your member, and where they shoot ping pong balls out of their orifices, but I didn't know where they were and didn't have the motivation to find them so I skipped out on that tourist attraction.

After a couple days there I rode my bike down the the flat barren countryside where there are grain farms. I drafted behind a tractor for a little bit, and made pretty good time until I got to a small town and got a room. I went for a walk there and was the only white person I saw there but nobody seemed to be staring at me. As I continued south it got junglier, populated, and poorer. Pretty soon there were primitive road side stalls all over the place where I could stop and have a good cheap seafood meal. I remember one town I stayed at was pretty famous for a buddhist monastery in the hills nearby, and I went for a walk in a sort of festival market going on and pigged out on all the kinds of food they have. One cool thing about Thailand was the plethora of healthy cheap food. It really works well for when you are bike touring to have a lot of healthy food in your stomach all the time.

A couple days into the riding I caught up to an older guy who was going in the opposite direction as me but we were riding into town which was a little out of the way from the highway. He was really mellow and was riding slowly. He said he had done this same route like seven years beforehand and was doing it again in the opposite direction. We rode into a seaside town and got some seafood. He said he had stopped at that town on his trip before and even remembered eating at the little restaurant we were eating at. Then we got a room together to save money because it was like eight bucks a night for the cheapest room, but the shower was nice and modern and warm. He got up at like six the next morning and I got up at like eight.

I rode down another day and got a room in a run-down tourist beach resort for Thais. The beach wasn't that bad but there was trash everywhere, and it made me notice that apart from the tourist places the Thai do make a mess of their country with plastic bags and trash. I got a room in a hut that was amongst a few others that were empty and clearly hadn't been used in a while. I rode down to Ranong where I was going to take a boat to Ko Phan Gang but it had been storming really bad that year which caused four boats to sink and a plane to crash, so the boats to Ko Phan Gang weren't operational because of the large waves, so I took the bus to Surat Thani.

I put my bike in the back of the bus with me and laid down. I had my bike bags with the bike in the seat in front of me and I was looking up at the ceiling of the bus which was a mirror so I could see the bags and make sure nobody robbed anything from me. I saw that one of the guys who works for the bus was rummaging through my bags, and I waited until he took some of my tapes out and I sat up and took them out of his hand. He was startled and tried to tell me they were to play the bus. For some reason I didn't tell the guys he worked for, but I should have. He looked kind of embarrassed for the rest of the ride and then gave me an angry glare as I got of the bus. I guess I didn't tell his co-workers because I felt sorry for him, I don't know.

When I got to Surat Thani I booked the next boat to Ko Phan Gang and saw saving private ryan in the theater in Thai. The boat ride was pretty cool because the boat was pretty small and instead of having seats the open area under the deck was just flat, so the people but their sleeping bags there and that was it. It was cool because it was so warm and we were so close to the water. The boat ride went through the night and we arrived at the island in the morning.

I rode across the island to the northern shore and back down the western coast to a small tourist place where I got a bungalow on Sri Thanu beach. My first night there the host of the place was trying to sell magic mushrooms to as many of the tourists as she could so make a trippers party. I bought some and sat on the small quaint beach on the full moon with about a dozen other tripping travelers. We started out by listening to techno music. At the time I wasn't used to techno music as it wasn't really popular where I was from in America. I remember we were sitting there on the porch of some guys bungalow listening to the techno with some guys radio, and I was thinking to myself, "This techno sucks, I can't believe nobody is telling this guy to put on some Reggae or something, I feel embarrassed for him,'' and just at that moment someone said, ''Wow this techno is awesome,'' and everybody else sounded in agreement and the guy was like, ''Yeah, I know''. I was like, ''wow'', I guess I need to be more open minded. Then we went down to the beach and hung out for the rest of the night. I was trying to do handstands in front of everybody for like two hours straight which was totally cracking this one couple up. They were like, ''He just doesn't give up, he keeps trying and trying, and one day he'll do it!" Then I got the idea to try to do it with another guy so we could support each other, and we did for a little bit but weren't that successful. Every once in a while somebody would walk by and the couple would be like, ''Hey look! there goes another one of those walking post cards!'' The funniest thing about the whole night was the host lady who was frantically running all over the place making sure we didn't do anything stupid. I remember one time I wanted to get in the water and she ran up to me and said ''No don't get in the water! You'll die it's dangerous, stay right here!'' And I was like, ''OK if its that important to you I'll stay right here. But on the south end of the island where the big mushroom parties are, tourists have had a history of getting loopy and swimming off in to the ocean never to be heard from again.

The next morning I rode to the south end of the island to do some scuba diving.

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Malasia
Re - telling

The boarder between Thailand and Malaysia consisted of a kind of demilitarized zone because the place where I got stamped out of Thailand was like a kilometer from the place I got stamped into Malaysia. The roads were wider and smoother in Malaysia and it seemed like the whole country was tree farms as far as the eye could see. After a couple days of riding I got to the Island of Pedang, which is also known as Georgetown because it used to be a Dutch fort-town for many years. I did the tour of the base which still exists and saw a lot of old Dutch buildings. There were quite a few of tourists on the main street which was interesting. A lot of them were hanging out in a bar called Reggae bar. It was interesting to see that in Asia I saw a lot of Reggae and Bob Marley related themes. After riding around the island which seemed to be entirely inhabited by the large city I took the boat to Sumatra.

Journal

After a couple of days I was thrilled to find the roads in Malaysia are just as plush as in Thailand, and they speak English unlike Thailand, or any other country other than Katmandu for that matter. But I was only there for two days because I went straight to Indonesia, which is worlds different from a cyclists perspective.

Re-telling
After Indonesia

After I came back from Sumatra I stayed in the same place as I did the first time I came through here. I was kind of sick in the lungs to I went to the Georgetown hospital to buy an inhaler but they gave one to me for free because Malaysia has a public medical system. Malaysia was much more developed than I thought it was. After Georgetown I rode south towards Epoh, but after riding over a large pass I got sick and barely rolled into the town. I stayed in a hotel there and went to the hospital the next day for a Malaria test which they gave to me for free. I came up negative and they gave me another inhaler for free. I got some new stuff for my bike also. I saw a movie there and noticed that most of the movies in Malaysia are Chinese which was odd because Malaysia is the only country in Asia other than Nepal where the people speak English, but it is also the only country where most of the movies are Chinese. The next day I rode towards Kuala Lumpur on the highway and stayed in an obscure village. Now read the journal below:

Journal
2-24-99

I am in a town now 110 KM south of Epoh. I was going to go to Kuala Lumpur today, but the cop kicked me off the highway and I don't want to ride at night on the frontage road. He told me the fine was 85 bucks but he didn't fine me because the sign was written in Malay. I started riding at 11:00 today because I ate bread and hot dogs and oranges which takes forever. In these cheap countries I should eat out. It saves time.

Re-telling

I rode a small road to Kuala Lumpur the next day and got there in the afternoon and went straight to the Petronas towers, the highest buildings in the world which needless to say I could see in the distance. I couldn't go up the towers though because they were just for offices, but there was a tower next to them that was just as high because it is up on a hill. The center of Kuala Lumpur looked just like any first world country with the big buildings, and well maintained roads and gardens.

I had a meal at an American chain restaurant and got some money at the bank and then went down to the Chinese part of town where the markets and cheap hotels are. I got a bed in a dorm room but I was the only person there, and went for a walk around the markets and looked for a movie theater; and was surprised to see that all the movies in the theater were Chinese!

The next day I went to the top of the tower and snapped some photos of the city. I was surprised to see that the city wasn't very big. I was expecting a large skyline because the center of the city was so well developed, but that was just the center of the city, and beyond that it was just arms of lower buildings stretching out through the trees which came in arms that almost touched the center.

The next day I rode out of Kuala Lumpur towards Singapore but couldn't find a frontage road so I went back to the city and got a bus ticket. On the way back I got stuck in a median in a highway for like a half hour because of rush hour traffic. After I broke through and rode through the city I noticed that there was a large Mosque there too and a lot of traditional Muslims there.

I was surprised to see how developed Malaysia was. They had a good public health care system, the roads were in good shape, a lot of the people spoke English, and there were lot of foreign businesses there like fast food joints. Malaysia was surprisingly cosmopolitan also, with an even mix of Indians, Natives, Muslims and Chinese.

While I was waiting for my bus to take off I had a meal at a Kenny Loggins fast food joint which was the best one I had ever been too because it was pure health food. It was a buffet with grilled chicken and vegetables.

That night I took a bus about four hours down to Singapore. The guy sitting next to me was a friendly Muslim guy in a turban who showed me his mosque when we drove by it.

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Singapore

I got off the bus al like midnight right at the northern end of the island on the Malaysian side. Instead of getting a bus to the center like I could have I opted to ride my bike. The bike ride was cool because Singapore had the infrastructure of a first world country and I didn't have to share the road with any cars. I rode on a highway that was in really good shape and remember passing under a lot of freshly painted pedestrian bridges with perfectly manicured vines growing on them. I was riding for like two hours though all over the place criss crossing myself because I kept following arrows that said I was going to Singapore, but I just couldn't find the skyscrapers. I finally gave up and stopped at an oceanside outdoor bar where there were a lot of foreigners around and got a four dollar Margarita and a plate of some good food. I had someone point me in the right direction and found the skyscrapers and went into the trees in a park to camp and found a mattress to sleep on.

I got up pretty early the next day and rode into the Indian section which is were the cheap hotels are. I got a room for eight bucks a night with my own TV. It was cool to watch TV there because all the channels were in English because English is their national language.

That day I walked around the place and noticed how cosmopolitan the place is. There were tons of Indians dressed in traditional Indian garb, and a lot of Chinese looking people. I had a nice Indian meal in one of their restaurants, and then took a bus around the island to check it out. I noticed that the whole island was inhabited with city. But I don't remember many actual houses, most of the residences were apartments. Then I went and did a tour of the island to the south of the main island where the Dutch had their base and saw all the canons and forts. I also did a train tour to see the various wildlife there. I shared the gondola on the way to the island with a kid from Denver Colorado. The Gondola went right over the Singapore harbor which is the biggest in the world.

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3 1999
 
Indonesia
Recount

The boat ride from Panang (Georgetown) Malaysia was over the night and I arrived in Medan in the morning. I rode my bike a few miles into Medan and got a hotel where there were a lot of travelers staying. Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia but there were no skyscrapers. There was a Mcdonald a block from my hotel which I was excited to eat at. I hung out in Medan for a couple days and went to the indoor shopping mall. It wasn't like a first world shopping mall because the stores were a lot smaller and the building was old, but there was a multiplex cinema on the top floor where I saw some movies. I always go see movies in the theater whenever I can because it is cheap and a good way to escape back home for a bit when I am traveling.

I spent my birthday there riding tricycle taxis around to different places drinking with some other travelers. Then I rode down to lake Toba is one day because some nice truck drivers offered to drive me about 50 miles down the road.

I spent my new years on on an island on lake Toba, the biggest lake in southeast Asia. It has an island in it the size of Singapore. The little tourist town I stayed in was on a little peninsula that had nice bays for swimming. I got a nice room right on the shore in a little bay where the water was calm and there was a booey where we swam out to. Rented a motorcycle and paid a kid who takes people on tours to see the local indian villages. We saw the tribe do a little dance for us and I saw their traditional A-frame houses lined up on the main street of their little village. Later we soaked at the hot springs in the town near the causeway where the island connects to the mainland. The kid was really annoying though. Later he wanted to take me on another tour or something but I said no, so he came to my table where I was hanging out with some other travelers and got mad that we were ignoring him so he sat down and yelled ''blah blah blah'' as loud as he could until we got the girls who worked there to kick him out. Indonesians are really friendly, but they tend to be very persistently annoying.

For the new years party about a hundred tourists and the locals all ate mushrooms together and danced all night long which was a blast. At one point I was the dancing entertainment which gave me new career prospect ideas. This Indonesian kid told me he was going to canoe around the island with me at midnight, but he got too drunk and I ended up drinking until three the next afternoon with a British kid, who I later canoed around half the island with. The Indonesian guy took me to his house where he lives with his grandmother, mother, and sisters. He told me his grandmother was 130 years old. That was a typical thing for an Indonesian to say because later I found that Indonesians are chronic liers. They were all sitting in the living room. They had these crackers that he told me to eat at loud as I could so I did, and they were all looking at me. Then we had the minute of silence for when the clock struck twelve and I realized how tripping I was. The mushrooms there are different than the American ones; in Indonesia they are very thin and not as strong.

The canoes there are carved out of a single piece of wood and have a flat rounded bottom with no rudder, so they are difficult to balance and very difficult to control because if you turn it, it continues to turn all the way around. I remember one time I went out on one behind my hotel and an Indonesian woman wanted to go for a ride because she said she had never been in one (which surely was a lie). When she got in she started to deliberately rock it back and forth and started to laugh and tell me she was afraid for her life because she couldn't swim and asked me if she fell in if I would save her. I remember barely keeping the boat afloat from swamping because it was so easily tipable. When I did my canoe trip around the island we filled it completely up with water so see if we could sink it and it just floated there like a log full of water. I remember one time I was our a couple of fishermen approached me with a huge bag of weed, enough to last me months of smoking, and wanted to sell it to me for like three bucks. I didn't buy it because at the time I wasn't planning on smoking, but a couple days later I changed my mind and bought some more for not nearly as good of a deal.

A couple days after the new years I canoed around half the lake on some more shrooms with a British kid who was on a break from teaching English in Bangkok. The second half of the day was very difficult because there was a lot of headwind. When we got to the kilometer wide causeway to the mainland, we didn't know what to do to get the canoe to the other side, because we couldn't carry it because it weighed like three hundred pounds.

After I saw my buddy off I found some people to haul the canoe to the other side and paid a guy to guard it for the night. Then I took the bus to the local hot springs and soaked for a bit and got a room. I got up at six the next morning and took off for the second day. After a little bit I got into a good rhythm and was going faster than when I was with the English dude. I remember I would paddle on one side until the boat turned, but it turned with so much momentum than I would have to paddle like 15 times on the other side to keep the canoe from doing a 180 degree turn. For the entire 17 hours that day I was struggling to keep the boat pointed forward my paddling on each side for a few seconds. I got into a really good rhythm though and was going really fast. The island was about 100 miles in diameter, and we did like 40 miles the first day, and so I did about 60 miles the second day. My English friend took his sunscreen with him though, and I forgot to buy more for myself and got burnt to a crisp so that my nose was one giant scab and my legs and arms boiled up with sin blisters that filled with water all over me. I think the water has an energizing effect because I didn't eat anything the whole day but I wasn't hungry and didn't get tired at all. I did suffer though because my stomach shriveled up and squeezed all of my stomach acid out into my throat and so I was in excruciating pain with all the burning. When I got back to my hotel at eleven that night my Indonesian buddy was there with some girls who worked at the hotel and they were looking at me like I was superman, and I think he said something like he didn't believe that I really did it.

Nias

A couple days later I rode my bike to the town where I could get a boat to Nias island to learn how to surf. The ride was nice because it was really green and hilly on nice narrow roads without too much traffic, however there were a lot of tree farms with rows of trees as far as the eye could see. I remember stopping for my weed breaks in the trees and it would suddenly start to rain like it did everyday for a bit. I would get really cold, but instead of putting on a windbreaker I would just start riding and the wind would warm me up. I remember one time I was smoking on the top of a pass and it started to rain and I got cold, so I just got on my bike and coasted downhill and warmed right up. The few hamlets I passed through seemed quaint with their animals and banana trees all over the place. The descent to the town was beautiful. From the beginning of the descent I could see the whole town and all the boats out in the water. I got a ferry to Nias that was pretty basic but got me there.

I spent a night in the town where I arrived and went to a movie with a couple of the kids who worked at the hotel I stayed at. They invited me to go with them, but then invited me to pay for them, which was alright because it was only like 20 cents per person or something. It was a pretty big movie theater and the movie was Indonesian, which is interesting because usually in foreign countries most of the movies in the theaters are American. In the middle of the movie for about thirty seconds an American porno was cut in but nobody in the theater seemed to mind.

Indonesians are a real piece of work. They are definitely one of the most annoying people in the world, but there is a lovable innocent humanity inherent in their outgoing noise and excitement. They try to be cool, but real. I'm thinking about the hawkers. Dean came by tonight and we talked about religion. He was in a good mood and he told be about the 10 commandments, he said in the Indonesian Bible the sixth commandment of Moses is to respect the elders. He studied the Bible in high school and most Indonesians go to church. That's cool. A lot more religious than I thought. He's smart, I want to talk to him more.

The next day I rode down to the beach on the southwest end of the island and got a hut and surfed for a month and a half. After three fascinating weeks of learning how to ride the wave, I learned how to surf which is a really cool feeling. However I quickly got bored with it after I figured it out. That coupled with the fact that I was all the local Indo kid surfers new best friend which became very annoying because they were always yelling my name and waving to me and trying to sell me stuff. I love Indonesians for their fervent outgoingness and genuity, but they greet you from all distances like they either want to kill you or you are their long lost relative who they thought was dead. They also make animal sounds and repeat the same stuff to you day after day after day, which gets more annoying every day. I knew it was time to go when I lost my cool with a tout just because he wanted me to give him a piece of candy. Maybe the fact that they are all descendents of head hunters causes their intensity.

That island has a pretty intense history of tribal warfare. Until about a hundred years ago they were basically in constant warfare for heads. They used heads from enemy tribes for everything from the christening of the chiefs new house, so someone's marriage or funeral. They would train for war by jumping over tall piles of stones that they had in the main street of their villages.

When I left Nias I took a bus across the island back to Medan because I don't like to ride the same route twice.

After Singapore

I took a boat to Sekupang on island of Batam which is about as big as Singapore but scarily populated. I had to weight a few days for the next boat to Jakarta and Sekupang wasn't really a town, so I rode by bike to another part of the island where the town 'Batam center' was. The whole time I was there I didn't see another foreigner and really felt like I was 'far from the empire'. The ride over across the island was interesting because the road was a large two lane highway with a large medium with grass planted on it, but there was no traffic at all. It was as if someone put it there expecting the population of the island to mushroom in a couple years. I got a very basic room in the town and walked around and a few girls approached me and invited me to go to their house up on the hill. One of them could speak a little English and she invited me to go to her house the next day and give me the address. So the next day I walked up into the hills where her neighborhood was and looked north and could see the skyscrapers of Singapore, which was strange because I knew that none of the Indonesians could ever go there and see what a first world like city with skyscrapers is, but they saw it off in the distance every day.

I asked a grungy woman for directions of the house I was looking for and she told me to come to her house and they could help me, so I walked down the side of a steep hill to some one room dirt floor shacks that were nothing more than sticks tied together with tin nailed on the top. The women lived alone and one of them had a baby. One of the women was trying to get me to sleep with her there and was acting really weird like a drug addict or something. They couldn't help me so I hiked up the road a little more and found the house.

I met the girl there and was hanging out in her living room. She lived there with her whole family in the small house of a couple rooms, and pretty soon the whole family and friends of the family found out that I was there and came over and hung out with me for a few hours. I was treated like a celebrity and they asked me all sorts of questions about what it was like in the states, and I had to correct them on a lot of misconceptions they had, unfortunately I don't remember anything specific. It got late and they asked me where I was staying and I said there. But apparently the girl didn't tell them what she told me and they said I couldn't because of the cops but then they changed their minds and told me I could stay in the office. The next day after I said chow to them I walked back to town and did a walking tour of the town. I saw a Playboy movie at a movie theater but it was a totally crappy TV movie. That was one of the most interesting things for me about Indonesia. They loved the crappy American movies. Their movies were better than the American movies they played. I remember one Indonesian movie I saw on the boat ride from Batam to Jakarta that was hilarious. It was about some Indonesian city guys who got lost on a small island and came across some Natives who were all dressed up with face paint and g-strings, and they were terrified that they would eat them so they ran all over the place trying to hide from them.

When I went back to my hotel there were some old Indonesian women there who were trying to hit on me and telling me they wanted to sleep with me which shows how fearless and outgoing the Indonesians are.

I got up really early the next day to catch the boat but it was like three hours late. I got a bed in the common passenger room next to a happy group of cops. The boat ride took about a day, and we entertained ourselves by sitting about the beds eating and talking and watching movies.

When we docked in Jakarta, the boat ride from the port to the city was fun because I got stoned and was riding my bike weaving through the tightest traffic than I have ever seen. I got a dorm room in a hostel on a street where all the cheap hotels were. I saw some other travelers there. I must have not slept very well on the boat because I slept really well in the hotel. I suddenly woke up at like ten in the morning totally naked laying on my back because my sheet fell off and one of my roommates was standing over me organizing his stuff on the bunk above me, but didn't seem freaked out by the naked guy there. I stayed in Jakarta a few days to renew my visa because mine got wet and ruined.

The first day in Jakarta I went to the huge central plaza that had an observation tower that I went up to have a gander at the skyline. The tall buildings went as far as the eye could see, as Jakarta is the 12 largest city in the world. I had a reminder of the insane rules of space Indonesians have. When we were waiting in line to get the elevator down there were a couple of boys waiting behind me. There were only like five people waiting, but the kid behind me was totally pressed up against me including all of his legs stomach and shoulders. I looked around to see if anybody noticed and everybody acted like it was natural. Then I looked at him in the eyes and he looked totally natural; he had no idea.

When I went to the Embassy there were about a hundred Indonesians waiting in line, but I didn't have to wait after them because I was just getting a new passport.

One day I rode to south Jakarta to the zoo and rode an elephant, then I went to see a giant model of the archipelago but the place was closed. In the end it was a really bad idea to ride my bike through Jakarta because it was about as polluted as the bad parts of Katmandu, and I was riding all day long. It was polluted so much because there were a lot of three wheeled simple taxis all over the place that spewed out black smoke, which made Jakarta about ten times worse than Bangkok and twenty times worse than Santiago or Mexico City. Because of that day I got gravely ill with an respiratory infection for a couple weeks and had to go to the hospital in Sulawesi.

Another day in Jakarta I went down to the historical center of the town that the Dutch had which was right on the shore. That was interesting because there were old Dutch buildings all over the place on a grid system like I was in an old European town. There I visited the war museum and saw what my Lonely Planet book said was the largest fleet of sailboats in the world, but it didn't seem like it to me.

One day I went to the Mosque next to the plaza and was about to take a photo of it and an annoying guy was saying ''no no no'', and said I couldn't take photos of it and wanted to give me a tour of the mosque, so I let him, but it wasn't worth it because most of what he said was pure lies. He said he gave president Clinton and tour of the Mosque and that every morning at five it totally filled up with thousands of worshipers who prayed in the direction of Mecca. I tried to get up at four thirty the next two days to see if it was true because I found that hard to believe, but I am sure he was full of shit. When I paid the guard the money to get in he didn't give me the change so I told him to give it to my tour guide and but he didn't and the tour guide said I had to pay him too, so I did. But after I rode away I got pissed off and came back and made the guard give me my change back.

The boat ride to Sulawesi was about a day and was an unforgettable experience that made me really wonder about Indonesians intelligence. When I got to the ticket office I asked for a bed in the common area like the one I got before, but the lady said it was all sold out and I would have to just buy a ticket and fend for myself by sleeping on the deck or the hallway or something. But when I got on the boat and saw the room with the beds they were totally empty. I slept that night on the deck in my sleeping bag because every square inch of the boat was used up. There were so many people in the hallways that it was difficult to walk around them and they were even packed in the flats between the flights of stairs. The second day I looked in the room of hundreds of beds and it was still empty.

I got out of the boat and rode into Surabaya which is the second largest town in Indonesia. I rode fast and felt fine, but the next day I was sick as a dog and ended up staying there for like a week because I was intent on riding my bike to Bali. I stayed in a small hosted in a dorm room and met a few other travelers. While I was there I saw a few movies and checked out the indoor malls. I hung out with one kid in the mall one day who invited himself to a pizza with me, but he was pretty boring. I went to a bar with a cool American guy while I was there and was hanging out with this really cute bartender girl. I also did a lot of reading.

When I finally got better I rode down to the base of volcano Bromo and got a bus up to the little town at the base of it. The town I stayed at had really powerful and peaceful energy. There was a lot of mist and their was lush jungle everywhere, probably from the volcanic ash. It was expensive though so no one was hanging out there. I stayed there one night and rode into the moonscape of the crater the next day and walked up to the smoking caldera. In the distance I could see the big volcano. Then I rode my bike down the hill which was beautiful and a very long descent. At the base I took a bus to Bali and was talking to some Indonesian girls in the back of the bus for the ride.

Bali

When I got to Denpasar, the capital and only city in Bali, I rode my bike down to Kuta beach where all the discos and tourists are. I got a hotel room there and went dancing at the disco. The disco was cool because it played good American music with the videos on large screens. The people kept to themselves though. I went to a couple more discos. When I came out of one a couple of young hot Indonesian prostitutes came up to me and offered to do me for eleven bucks, and I was kind of drunk so I went to a hotel room right there and screwed her. Afterwards she wanted me to wait for her and leave with me but I was embarrassed for doing a prostitute and left. I shouldn't have though, maybe I could have hung out with her afterwards. It seemed like the prostitutes there didn't have any pimps or anything and seemed relatively level headed. I went to the beach the next day and wanted to go surfing but it was the most crowded beach I have ever been to, and there were literally hundreds of people surfing in the waves. So many people that they must have been running over each other left right and center, so I opted not to surf there. The town of Kuta was cool because it had a tourist, festive atmosphere and a lot of tourists on weekend trips from Australia. I got a massage from an Indonesian woman in a massage booth, it was OK. There were a lot of cool restaurants there.

After Kuta I went to the other side of the southern peninsula because there was a surf beach there but the waves didn't look that good and the people were asking too much to rent the boards, so I rode over to Ubud.

I got a really big room with a big bed on the second level of a restaurant-hotel owned by a nice Hindi woman who did smoke smudging every night to ward off the evil spirits. I stayed in Ubud for a couple of weeks because there were a lot of things I wanted to do but I needed to get up early and couldn't. But I enjoyed myself. I rode up to lake Batus, the largest lake on Bali. The ride up to the lake was beautiful and different because there are green plants everywhere and the road went strait up without any turns. The lake is in a deep caldera and is between two mountains, one smoking through a big caldera, and one is 10,300 feet high. There was a little town on the top of the caldera. I rode up there a couple of times on different routes. One time I rode down the candera to the lake and past a lakeside town to another town where I took a boat to their grave yard where they don't bury their dead. I saw burnt looking corpses behind bamboo cages so the birds didn't eat them. The Indonesians claimed they were only there a couple of weeks but they looked too decomposed for that. Who knows. Indonesians aren't very good at telling the truth or being accurate. The lake was beautiful. It would have been nice to take a canoe across it.

I wanted to go to a beach on the northern end of the island to see dolphins that where supposed to be there all the time, but I could never get up on time.

While I was in Ubud I saw a sign for massages outside of a hotel-restaurant a couple meters down from my hotel and I saw some cute young girls working there so I asked for a massage. I waited in a dark little room that doubled as a dorm room, and a senile old man about 80 years old came in and poured freezing water over my head that smelled rotten and then motioned for me to take my shirt off and then put his hands in the water and put his hands on my head and my back and sort of smacked me and squeezed his hands a little. I sat there for like fifteen minutes trying to figure out if it was a joke or if he was serious, then I couldn't stand it anymore because of the coldness and foul stench of the water and gave him half of the money for the massage and he took it and just sat there with a blank look on his face. In retrospect I should have said something because there is no way they could have been serious. They must have been doing some kind of practical joke or something.

One day I rented a motorcycle and rode up to the Hindu monetary called Borodhupur way up on the side of the highest mountain in Bali to climb the mountain but it was on a special day that only happens once every ten years and I couldn't climb the mountain. The monastery was beautiful though. It was huge with a whole complex of temples and statues, and large groups of dressed up Hindi nuns walking around. After there I rode on a tiny paved road really fast and crashed into this guy who turned in front of me without signaling. I broke his rear light with my tire and he all these people came up to me and were trying to tell me and everybody was telling me it was my fault, but I said he turned in front of me without signaling so it was his fault. But they didn't understand me so I drove off. I went up to another monastery that was way up switchbacks up the mountain to try to climb the mountain by bypassing the trail, but I couldn't get around anywhere because the whole mountain was in thick jungle and on the side of cliffs.

Then I rode down to the old Hindi capital of Bali which was in a town east of Denpasar and did a tour of the palace. The palace wasn't that big, but it had interesting open rooms with all kinds of religious paintings that he explained to me. I remember some paintings he described to me. One was of what happens to you when you die; it you are bad you are reincarnated into an ugly deformed person and if you are good you are reincarnated into a beautiful person. His speech was kind of funny because it was all scripted and he said it really fast as if he was trying to belt it out as fast as he could so he could get on to the next tourist. He did a good job though so I gave him a good tip.

The motorbike ride back to Ubud was interesting because most of the vehicles on the road were those little motorcycles and in the stop lights they would all bunch up together haphazardly like they were in a race. And when the light turned green they would all take off and ride really close and pass each other. I treated it like a race and managed to get through to the front of the pack by the time I got to Ubud.

One time I was riding my bike around Denpasar and I saw hundreds of people doing laps on their motorcycles in a showing for the female who was running for president. I rode up behind them for a little but they were going to fast and got away from me.

While I was in Bali I saw a sign for classes in the book A Course in Miracles which I had just read so I went to the place and the guy was a long haired Vietnam vet who had been turned on to the book by this Australian woman who was with him. He was telling us about the different exercises in the book but and I tried to philosophize with him but he didn't want to talk about anything other than the book and the woman kind of annoyed me with a speech about how you have to take the book seriously or something. So to me they were just like the fundamentalists and the Bible, with a one track mind following their own Bible. This guy had a nice little house though with a nice backyard.

I would like my mom to retire there for a year or so because it is so peaceful and cheap and beautiful with all the greenery around because it rains like every day.

I was hanging out with some Canadian girls while I was there too, and I went to the monkey garden and saw movies at the restaurants and read a lot of books.

Ubud is a really cool town because it is full of all kinds of artists. It has a lot of interesting museums with good paintings, and tons of wood carvers with their goods displayed at their workshop-houses all over the place. There is a bit of an artsy ex-pat community there also, but they didn't seem consolidated as I didn't see any ex-pat hang out places.

Ubud is also a center of the traditional Hindu dancers who put on shows. I went to two of them and they were pretty cool. In one they pretended that they were a bunch of monkeys fighting each other. One monkey man would scream ''pow!'' and everybody else would fall down as if they would dead, and then they would get up again and jump around like a bunch of monkeys again. I saw another one where they all danced their stereotypical Hindi dance like what you see the Indians do in the movies. I don't know how all the Hindus got to be living in that beautiful island in an archipelago full of Muslims and Christians, but they seemed to me to be a bunch of Indians living in the heart of Bali. My two Canadian friends went to another show that I missed and told me it was a total joke though. They said that there were just a bunch of Indonesians sitting in a circle talking and they changed good money to have a bunch of tourists sitting around watching them like a bunch of idiots.

While I was there I met an Indonesian guy who hooked me up with about a quarter ounce of pretty good weed that I started smoking which didn't do me much good in my quest to get up early.

When I was done with Ubud I went to Denpasar to buy some essential oils for my mom. The woman there who was an Australian woman who I didn't actually meet because she had Indonesians maning the shop told me that the oils were %100 natural, and I didn't know the difference at the time, but when my mom got them they were synthetic. But the price that we paid was OK. I stayed one night in Denpasar and went to the movie theater. Denpasar was kind of boring because there was no city center, and there were no tourists there at all. I did meet an indonesian guy at the internet place who had been to Boulder though.

After Bali

The next day I got a boat to Timur which was a memorable experience because the whole trip was ridiculously chaotic from beginning to end. For the boarding of the boat the doors didn't open all the way for who knows what reason so people had to duck and climb over the half opened doors with their chickens and babies strapped to them. And when I got on the boat it was so crowded that there were people sleeping on every square inch of the inside of the boat, from the hallways to the stair landings to the outside deck. If that boat would have sunken it would have made the Titanic look like a swamped raft. The first night I slept on the deck, but the second night I slept inside because I met a group of Indonesian soccer players who were going to New Guinea for a game and had a wide section of the hallway and offered me to stay with them there. I passed the time by hanging out in the bar on the upper deck with these crazy Indonesians. I talked a little with them with the little English they knew, but they certainly paid a lot of attention to me. They were an extended family, and there was a teenager there who was totally off the wall the entire time making everybody crack up with all of his antics making fun of everybody. They were talking about the disco party the night before that I wished I had known about. I manages to stay stoned on the boat from going in my sleeping bag on the deck and smoking inside of it.

The lower decks of the boat were people slept was a pretty crazy scene because there were entire families totally packed together and mixed in with all the bags of goods and near the engine room so your could barely hear the next person talking to you.

It was absolute chaos when we docked because everybody packed up against each other on one side of the boat waiting for the door to open but the other door opened so everybody turned around and pushed and in their fight to get out first. I had my bike with me and a lot of people were pushing my bike and making some people in front of me pissed at me, so I had to start keeping the brakes on trying to maintain order. When I finally got to the outside of the boat I met the crazy family and they asked me to stay with them at their house and told me to wait for them, but I wanted peace and quiet so I just rode into town.

I spent a couple days there waiting for the plane to Darwin. The town was kind of boring because there were no bars or restaurants or libraries or movie theaters or anything. I met one cute local girl in a sandwich shop who had been living in Hong Kong and told me she didn't like Indonesian guys because they were boring. She gave me her number in Hong Kong in case I ever went there.

I rode to the airport a few miles out of town and was surprised to see that there were some other white people waiting for the plane because I didn't see anyone like them in town. Needless to say I was super excited to get on that plane and take off to the first world again.

Indonesians are a real piece of work. They are definitely one of the most annoying people in the world, but there is a lovable innocent humanity inherent in their outgoing noise and excitement. They try to be cool, but real. I'm thinking about the hawkers. Dean came by tonight and we talked about religion. He was in a good mood and he told be about the 10 commandments, he said in the Indonesian Bible the sixth commandment of Moses is to respect the elders. He studied the Bible in high school and most Indonesians go to church. That's cool. A lot more religious than I thought. He's smart, I want to talk to him more.

Journal
Nias
1-7-99

I changed money today. I realized that travelers checks are too expensive of a way to go. This is the last batch of travelers check I will ever use.

It is 120 Km's to Telukdalam, I will start before down tomorrow. I tightened my spokes on one side today, probably too much. I won't be surprised if I break one tomorrow. I got more sunburned the other day than I have ever been in my life. The skin just boiled off my body. I lost a whole layer on my forehead, I took a picture. Every body is looking at me, my nose was a giant scab and I even had a sun blister on my leg for the first time. I just looked and my whole lower left leg is a giant sun blister. The sun must be stronger here at sea level at the equator than at 11,000 feet at 40 degrees. Either that, or I got really sensitive skin from being indoors for so long. I did 200 pushups and 600 sit-ups today. It was harder at first but turned out to be a lot easier than the last time I did it 9 days ago. Then I went to a Hong Kong kung food movie with two kids who work here. They invited themselves and then suggested I pay. I didn't have any objections but it disgorged me from wanting to do it again. Even though it was only 1000 for the movie. These kids have never left Nias.

 
1-9-99

I am at Sorake beach on Lagundri bay, on Nias Indonesia. I came here about a day ago. The ride was very bumpy but I managed to make it here in six hours. I chose the sun beach Losmen because it was one of two that was in the lonely planet. The boy here Dean is very nice. He is 18 years old. his cousin Johnny I bought a board from for 150 dollars, but I have to give it back to him when I leave. My losmen is very nice. I have a shower, a tub, and porch overlooking the sea about 50 away. This morning I bought booties for $30 and a carved pen for $1.70.

I am waiting until my tub is full before I go out, but the water stopped coming. There is nobody on the waves now. I am in heaven, one of the best surfing beaches in the world, and there is nobody here. It looks like I will be able to live on like 10 bucks a day.

There are two Brit's next to me who also just got here and two Germans who also just got here. I may want to stay here hour like 5 months. I just saw the German go out. I think I will catch up with him soon, he is a beginner also.

I am still recovering from that canoe trip. I have this strange kink in my shoulder that gets tight when I extend my arm, but when I massage my shoulder I cannot feel any thing. I also have a spot so sore on my inner right wrist that I'd think I'd a been whacked.

I had a dream that I was with Wyndham in Boulder, we were coming home from somewhere to the Balsam house. Dad was driving us in the Tornado and we passed Casey Junior High but it was a bigger building and I think there was a body building competition happening right before that on the hill up to it. Wyndham pointed to a building and said that was where he, Ian, and Evan were taking Tae Kwan Do lessons. Then I said, "Remember his sister, she hated me, and he said "Yea, she is in school in Cicely, I think she is dating Graham this Saturday. Then we got to colony market and Wyndham said he wishes he had a hand phone and I said in Korea everybody has hand phones. Then I noticed a magazine that said "Tall women in here," so I got excited and opened it up. I don't remember seeing any women but at first Wyndham was watching me, then he went away and I got a boner so I sat down and it got so big it stuck right out of my shorts and I had to tuck it in again. Then I went upstairs again and was talking to Wyndham. I must have just come back from my trip because he said Biscuits fine, he is getting old, though, and I said "Biscuits still alive?" He said "No, he's dead" and I said "he's dead?" and he said "No he's still alive", and I got excited about seeing him.

The dream I had before that I was at a fair ground and was partying with a lot of 50 year olds and then I was in a small trailer as it was up with Steven Tyler and another kid. I asked Steven Tyler how old he was and he said 50, and I said "You look good for 50". I saw a picture of you in a magazine with your shirt off", and he said "Thanks".

1-12-99

I went on a 3 day or 5 day boat trip to some of the little surrounding islands with six other guys. Eric the surfer from Tahoe, Mark the tree planter from Victoria, and Julian and Andrew the board makers from Dover, England, and Philip the jeweler and Michael the electrician from Germany. Yesterday we went to Pulau and surfed waves a little bigger than Nias. It was fun. I stood up three times but couldn't stick it, I think because I didn't have any wax. I feel good now about getting on and caught in the waves. Now all I need is to stand up. Mike, Phil, Mark, and me are beginners. Those guys have ridden waves. I like these guys. The Germans have very pleasant energy, and are totally happy and worry free. Eric is totally controlled, a Jedi master, Mark reminds me of Arian wheeler by his facial expressions and the way he talks. He is the entertainer, the one who makes comments on everything. Julian is the oldest at 30, he has kind of rough edges and judgmental but I like him. He pays attention to you and is at peace with himself. Mark and I are the only ones who are stoned all day long; the Germans smoke at night, and Andrew did last night. Andrew is the youngest at 19, he is very quiet, but totally at peace.

I just got back from surfing, I don't know how long for because I lost my watch in the waves. I wish I waited instead of just buying this board and rented because after spending days trying to stand up without success, I did it on my second wave on Mikes Malibu. I can sort of stand up on my board. I am happy with my board. It is 7 feet and is very sleek. Eric says it is a "bullet". Perfect for tubes. Who knows, maybe I will be able to ride a tube. I could still see my self here for 5 months. When I first went out today, I was stoned and rode my first wave into some rocks and got a scratch on my right shoulder. Then I couldn't get back into the water because the waves kept crashing against me. and knocking me off my board. Then I remembered to just be on it and paddle and duck under the waves until I get out.

I made major breakthroughs today. But all in baby steps. First I rode one of my knees for the first time, then I stood on my right foot in front and left foot top down on the back, then I stood up at the end of a few waves, and when Mike went in I took his board and actually rode a wave. Then my nose started hurting and my arms lost their strength so I came in. I am not going out again because of my nose. When I get back I will buy water proof sun screen and stay out of the water. My legs are red also from the burn.

Yesterday after surfing here we went to another island and parked next to it. Eric, Philip, Mike, and I swam ashore and walked to the other side and collected shells at the shore and watched the sun set. They walked through the island back and I walked around it. I ran and beat them.

There was only one light on the boat and we took it and then Philip broke it. When we noticed our food wasn't coming I went back there and the leader of the pack of 5, Senali, said that they didn't cook because there was no light. So I asked him to show me the stuff so I could cook because I was hungry, and he said he didn't feel well and offered to cook it with two other guys while Eric and I talked and watched. It sure was nice when we got our roman noodles. Next time I do this trip I will just have a Captain and do the cooking ourselves, it will save money and is less of a hassle.

Last night I slept on the roof of the boat. Everybody else was inside the boat in mosquito nets. I wasn't hassled though. The Indonesians took their time cooking our oatmeal, we didn't leave for here until about ten; another reason not to hire cooks. We had hopes of catching glassy waves in the morning but I don't think we hit them until about noon.

Surfing is quiet simple, but I have so many little things to learn. First, you have to get used to paddling on the board, then you have to learn to read the waves so you know which ones to take and at what time, then you have to learn how to paddle onto it and get on the board and stay up. Paddling back through the waves is also a chore that takes practice. But it is all so fun and keeps you swimming. Its a great workout. When I am too pooped to catch the wave I go in.

I don't think there is anything wrong with combining sit ups and pushups to this, especially with my burns keeping me out of the sun. The bruise on my arm was acting up again also.

The five Indo's and the seven of us aren't talking to each other. Senali hasn't hung out with us at all. I don't like the Indo's here as much s in Tuk Tuk. They are more up tight and don't care about us, only our money. They tell so many lies you cannot take them seriously. Here on Nias Dean said Johnny is his cousin but the other surf shop owner said that is a lie. That guy also said you can't trust any one here and Dean said that also. Johnny said he was the only one with boards when almost everyone has boards. These Indo's have done rotten things to these other guy. Mark bought dope the other day and smoked it and hid it in the sand, then another guy went to him and showed him the film canisters and said that someone saw him stash it in the sand and was going to call the cops but he talked him out of it because Mark was a nice guy and was going to do Mark a favor and have him give him a hundred bucks to not call the cops, so Mark went and told his hotel owner and they all got together and talked about it and told Mark not to give the con artist money, but the next day the kid came back and told Mark that he got in trouble with the cops for digging it out of the sand so Mark should give him three bucks because it is his fault. Mark told him he wasn't going to give him money, so he started causing a fuss and pushed Mark so Philip gave him the money and told him to get lost.

Eric said he gave a guy money for a board rental to give to his friend and he never did so and Mark had to hunt him down and get the money from him. Because of all this, I am not going to associate with these Indonesians. Just living here is enough association for me. This is the perfect life though. I wouldn't rather be doing anything else.

1-17-99

I didn't surf much yesterday either. I got up late and didn't really have the motivation to go out right away so I stayed in and read and then went out but the waves were huge and it started raining hard. I tried to surf a big one but it was way too big like 10 feet tall, and I got pumped in it, held down for like 7 seconds and I had to swim like 5 feet to the top and breathed through the foam and got a breath right before the next big wave hit which I didn't even think about bringing my board under. So I went in and didn't go out again.

I rode to Zita restaurant for some cake and there was no one as usual, but I saw Mike the English guy who I drank with with the Chauffeur. He was with a buddy and we agreed to meet later at Toho bar. I read a little more and then went there and hung out with the locals and drank wine and ate. This kid told me he would sell me a matchbox for 30,000 rupees, and I asked him

"how much do you buy it for?"

"What?"

"Marijuana"

"Sh, cops, might here"

I looked around and it was only people we had been hanging out with, "Whose the cop?" Then he went away.

There are big waves today and all the good surfers are going out to the deeps and I go to the mellow part where nobody else is. Its great, I came back because I go on a wave and couldn't see anything because my hair was in my eyes and I wanted to get the hair tie. I am eating lunch while I am here. I hope this tie works because it is a pain in the ass to have hair in my eyes all the time. Every wave I duck under the first thing I do when I come up is swipe the hair away so I can see, also when I catch foamy waves the water knocks my hair in my face. That would suck if I had to cut my hair.

 
1-20-99

I was kind of sick yesterday and worried that I might be today, but I was psyched that I wasn't, I just slept in after getting to sleep at 1 AM. I bought some of the green bicycle (weed) and just hung out with myself. Johnny came over and fixed dings on my board and then I went swimming with their mask. Tomorrow I want to rent a mask and snorkel and maybe fins and maybe a spear, and go exploring around the waves and see the waves pass over my head. Maybe I could get a crab. Then I went surfing at about 12:30 and came back at 4:30, the longest surf yet. Plus I got the most waves, about a dozen. Still have not officially stood up but I am coming close. I want to borrow the big Malibu when Johnny fixes it. Tomorrow I will also go into town and change $20 and explore around the villages in the morning. I need to remember to fix my bike first though, it was running perfectly but I left it all night on the rear derailleur with the rear wheel off in Gunung Sitoli and it got all fucked up.

1-21-99

I had a dream night before last that I was the son of a super rich Woman and lived in a castle on the top of a hill and she had a Porsche 911 and a Mercedes but wouldn't let me drive them. One day it snowed and I took out the dark red Mercedes and although it drove like a dream, I could barely move because there was so much snow. She was really grumpy, and had servants and a fence and every thing.

Last night I had a dream that I was in a bus with a bunch of kids and then we were running from the law and were caught. Then I had a dream with my brother in a nice hotel room and then there was a beautiful girl there who wanted me so Wyndham left and she took al her clothes off and was very excited and coming to me with ashamedness and then I suddenly remembered that I had the cock rash and showed her and she got upset and left, then I woke up.

This morning is raining and my nose is fried again, I think the Chloroquin is causing it because I never got burnt this easily in Colorado; I was only out for four hours. I will read until it stops raining then ride into town, but first I will shoot the rest of the roll.

1-23-99

I didn't sleep very well last night because I was cold because I didn't have my blanket on. That is why I haven't been getting up until 9. I just realized that today. I paid Papa 290,000 for last week and he bought me a monkey named Cody who lives on my porch. I read some of Ezekiel until 12 and then rented a mask, snorkel and fins for 15,000. When I go to Padang I will change 2 million and then climb the mountain and then go back and change 2 million from Singapore.

I had a dream a couple nights ago that I was in a van that drove off a cliff and flew about 100 feet through the air and crashed next to some campers. I jumped out of the car just before it became airborne. The guy who was driving wasn't hurt either.

Then that night I had a dream that I was in a giant swimming pool and doing the internet in it and there were old ladies there.

That Monkey is fascinating to watch bouncing around. He whines a lot and is only one year old.

1-25-99

I went to the doctor today and got antibiotics and cremes for my awful boils and cock fungus. I am going to stay out of the water until my cock

rot and boils go away. They were really driving me crazy last night.

I had a break through yesterday with the Bible when I found the summary section at the end. I also don't feel that good probably because of the sores. It made me want to read the new testament again.

Yesterday I rode into Teluk Dalam and bought things I needed that I couldn't buy here: clothes , sandals, candles, sunscreen, ointments, bug repellant, shoe lace, hair ties, a razor. But I forgot to mail stuff. I borrowed a Bible from the guy at the bank which was cool. I came home and read the rest of psalms. I want to finish the Bible and A Course in Miracles before I leave on the 13th for Singapore. I decided I would take the boat to Padang and climb the volcano and go to Singapore via Buttatingi and back. I have 27 more days here including today. I didn't have the motivation this morning to go surfing because I haven't been for so long and it is cloudy, so I ordered breakfast, after I eat I will go out. I will be excited by then. I wish I bought more dope in Tuk Tuk; I will when I go back there for my second visa run, but that is a very long way off.

1-25-99

I had a dream last night that I went to Prince Charles house who was the kind of England. He lived in the country side in a normal sized house surrounded by other joined houses forming a ring wall around it. I was hanging out with him, and was surprised how small it was for the kings house and I looked at him as if I was his mother praising him and he looked at me with pride and he looked kind of goofy to me and then said his child was too small. Then we ventured off somewhere else and I had a dream that I was hanging out with Chris Wherry and Bernie and they were ignoring me and kind of acting like asshole's. We were in a fast food place and I was friends with the owners who were oriental and we may have been I Asia, and Chris Wrote a message to meet his friend somewhere on the table top and the owner saw him but didn't say anything and I that I was hanging with them. Bernie told Chris he had found a poem which I guess was the cool thing to do. That's all. ...Small though, even my daughter is bigger than me now. We hung out a little more and then parted ways. he was very nice. I had a dream before that along the same lines, but cannot remember them. All in all, very wild dreams, especially the last one.

 
1-25-99

Today I am not surfing either because my nose hasn't recovered from the sun. I am having a sort of transformation into patience and innocence of thought. I was reading the Tibetan book of living and dying. And reading a course in miracles more.

Well I came back from the four day boat trip, it was fun, but we are all fucked off at the Indonesians, they are ruthless about money. This guy Sanali who took us out on the boat trip wanted us to pay for 5 days but we were only gone 4 because he said he borrowed the boat for 5 days from the owner. Therefore he is obligated to pay for it for 5 days. Plus they charged 10 thousand for a minute long boat ride to shore and 10 more for the ride out there. Last night was just that for Julian and Andrew so we went to surfer party with monkey and I drank five beers and puked when I came home and am doing nothing today because I am so hung over.

I had interesting dreams last night that I was in Indonesia but it was much nicer than now. Then I got in a van with some cute girls and dudes and drove to a dock and got in a boat with other people.

I had a dream last night that I went out to the parking lot and I saw Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and another famous actor getting ready for a shoot out. They looked kind of goofy; then saw another gang of younger punks coming and there was a shoot out. But as I was watching a voice said "They aren't even hitting each other, just by standers''.

Then I woke up and made a bong with Dean and got stoned with him and the monkey and then read some more and went surfing but the waves were too small and I don't feel like surfing anyway today. It is Sunday, the energy is slow and gloomy, raining now. That's fine, I am in a zoned mood now and enjoying just reading.

I am getting good writing ideas: One how my indigenous views changed and another the evolution of the world with I started, and a third, the confused state of the world now, and an interpretation of the old testament. Maybe I could finish the bible today, it is so weird. Hard to pay attention. When I am done and with a course in miracles I will write some more.

I am still getting used to these weird Indonesians. When I am done reading or whatever, I'm going to make it a point to have at least one intelligent or rather try to have intelligent conversations with these thick Indonesians. Get a load of this: This morning Dean said he has a friend who met an American who was always reading the Bible who told him that if he gave the dictionary worth 200,000 to him for free, he would have God bless him, so he did it. Dean was saying it was stupid to think that and I was amazed that this could be true. Then I went down to Zita to buy cake and I saw Juju there the kid who sold me dope and I asked him if he had the 10 thousand he owed me and he said he forgot again but he wanted me to buy him a piece of cake. I said if he paid me back I would think about it. The he said

"Oh book a bible, I meet an American a month ago who read the Bible all the time".

"Yea, somebody gave him a dictionary for free".

"Yea I did"

"Oh it was you, why?"

"What?"

"You gave it to him for free because he said he would have god bless you?"

"No, he said you shouldn't sell Bibles, they should be given away"

"I can understand that, but you gave him a dictionary"

"But it is good to give away stuff to the needy"

"But he is American, he has money, did somebody give it to you?"

"No"

He didn't want to talk about that anymore and asked me for cake but I repeated what I said before and started writing about my dreams so he kept repeating "cake, cake, give me cake". Then Antwon and his buddy came telling me to loan them my bike for a half hour and I said no, so the two boys sat next to me and started to try to beg a little.

I want to take a picture on these Indo's sitting around smoking cigarettes. For me it is sad seeing them looking at me as I pass by.

This morning when I went surfing I went to Johnnie's to borrow a big board for but his partner was there with an annoying guy who was trying to sell me surf cloths who looked like Johnny, I think he is his brother.

"I want to borrow a Malibu".

"In here take this one, the only one that works".

"Oh no leash," After I tied my leash on and was ready to go.

"Give me fifteen thousand".

"But Johnny said I could switch this out for any board here''.

"No".

"Only for today".

"No".

"OK, show me which boards are Johnnie's".

"None".

"This board (My board) is the only board here that is Johnnie's".

"Yes".

2-10-99

I'm not going to surf again today, when I was out before I was limping from the pain in my right foot who's toe rot for 9 months turned into raw flesh. Hopefully it will be bearable tomorrow when I hopefully go out early. Today is good for just reading and writing. Dean said an interesting thing yesterday. "Tourists are always reading, but Indonesians like to relax" He said it as if hanging out with your thumb up your ass is better, so I said. "When you read, you are smart, and when you are smart you make money. "Yea". But I don't think he really got it. I want to explain it to him later, but they don't seem to be capable of talking about anything real. When I go to Singapore I will buy a tape recorder to record the conversations, the only real way to document their mentality.

This morning one of the Indonesians said he wants me to take his CD player to the shop to have it fixed and I said sure and he said he will bring it by later.

These skin rashes are so bad I don't know if I will last 5 months here. I might have to get on antibiotics again. I am hoping I will develop an immunity to it, I seem to be the only one suffering from it. I don't have any desire to spend any time outside my hut and the waves because I will be hounded by annoying Indonesians wanting to buy them things and sell me things and making annoying sounds as I pass by. I won't buy any more dope from book boy Joju. Julian said "Book boy is full of shit". when I told him he said he won $300 dollars American in the surf competition and surfed the big waves 6 feet when they were here last week. "We didn't see him out there".

2-19-99

I bought books today and e-mailed and fixed my bike, did laundry, shaved, bought three tapes, ate junk food. But forgot to do the malaria test as I have been feeling slightly under the weather for a week or so. So I will do that and buy a new inhaler tomorrow which I also really need to do, I might leave tomorrow. I don't have the lonely planet for Malaysia so I don't know where the reasonable hotels are. Thank God they know English here. I don't like staying at a place for more than two nights; but I have done a lot here so its ok. I have such an urge to get a move on and keep it on until Australia. I could see myself settling down there or New Zealand though, maybe I will make enough money there to buy a sea kayak.

I suddenly got bored of this surfing small waves and sick of the Indo's, so I think I'm going to leave pretty soon and bike to Singapore, Brunei, and Australia which I also suddenly got excited about. I got u at 7:00 this morning because I spent last night in a mans office and he was going to go to work. I met a girl the night before and she said I could stay at her house so I went there and hung out with her family and they asked me what hotel I was staying at and I said here, but they were surprised because apparently she said I couldn't stay there, just hang out and they said their father who didn't even live there said I couldn't stay there because of the cops. But then he changed his mind and said I could. This morning I went back to the hotel.

 
2-27-99

I am now in Belawan Indonesia waiting for the; boat to Penang Malaysia. When I get there I will buy hydrogen peroxide, have a malaria test, buy a derailleur screw and two clip screw, do laundry, and buy a book if I can find a good one.

I am looking forward to the movies on the boat and reading and sleeping or whatever. As I have been sleeping here. I hope the boat arrives there with enough time for me to do those things today which I don't think so.

After Singapore
3-2-99

I was up until 2:30 this morning reading, my plan was to stay awake all night because I had to get up at 5 anyway but at 2:30 I got sleepy and decided to tape the alarm clock to my ear and just deal with the discomfort of getting up so early when the alarm rang I was surprised at how easy it was to get up and how fresh I was. At first I was a little nervous riding at night, but once I got going I was fine. It took me about 40 minutes to ride the 14km to Sekupang and it got light on my way there. I was amazed at all the people I saw up running, maybe 20. I saw a man and his 4-5 year old running. And groups of people hanging out under trees even before it got light out.

Of course the boat didn't leave at 7, but at 10. It was one of the huge cruise liners and I got a nice bed with a place to store my stuff and a TV playing horrible movies I don't understand why Malaysians and Indo's play the absolute worst Hollywood movies on these boats. The ticket was about 140,000, including good meals. Good price. I plan on staying in Jakarta long enough to get a new passport if I have to there; but hopefully I will be able to in Bali and enjoy myself surfing.

3-12-99

I hung out with another indo kid today, and reconfirmed my beliefs that they are very uneducated. I said

"How many people live here in

Indonesia?"

"700,000,000"

"No, 200,000,000".

"No"

"Where did you hear this?"

"On the TV"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes" So I got out my lonely planted book and said

"Look this book says 200,000,000".

"I don't belief it".

"And you do believe the TV even though you don't remember who said it?"

"Well this book was published two years ago".

"So the population of Indonesia grew from 200 to 700 million in two years?"

"Yes"

"Are you sure, this book says by 2035 the population is projected to be 400 million".

"I don't know what I think". So I dropped it.

He had kind of a pained frantic look in his eyes and later ordered food with me and when the bill came said he didn't have any money so I had to pay 17 thousand for him which rubbed me the wrong way. I asked him what the most populated country is and he didn't know so I wrote the first four most populated countries down with their populations and then we had the population of Indonesia conversation and then I asked him what the most populated country in the world is and he didn't know so I told him to get the piece of paper, but he lost it so I made him guess but he didn't know so I told him again. His English wasn't very good so I couldn't talk about a whole lot to him.

I have been very ill for the last 5 days. Had lung problems again and was up for two days because of it and had o go to the hospital. I was up all last night with a fever. I am hoping I will be well enough to ride tomorrow. Although it just occurred to me maybe I should buy a tent here tomorrow. and a camera because I thing mine is broken or at least see if I can get mine fixed. This fever spread to my brain, I cannot think and I have been having nightmarish dreams. I had a dream night before last that I was %100 evil, I don't remember anything else, but I was being totally wacky.

Surabaya
3-17-99

I am still sick as a dog. I went to the hospital yesterday and got more pills. I have good blood and the doctor said I had a fever because of an upper respiratory infection, I have been hawking up a lot of yellow phlegm.

I finished the Arab book today. Here is at the summary: The Arab world is an OK book. the author wasn't opinionated enough with her hosts and didn't explain the causes of things enough, but it gave me a good picture of the place and made me really want to go there. Arabs seem very opinionated, so easier to have deeper conversations with than Asians. They are struggling with modernity because they have switched from small scale simple lifestyles to industrialization in one generation. Ending patriarchy and putting women to work, as well as changing other beliefs before upheld by the Koran, like seeing western sex movies and styles an coping with the fact that the west actually is more i touch with the way it should be regarding the relationship of the sexes. Their age old belief that they are the chosen ones because of Islam, mixed with the new world really confuses them. So they are actually much less settled in their ways than Americans. I think it goes to show how the Christian way of thinking is better than Islam, allowing for more freedom of thought and action; however their zealousness does give the conviction and comfort in being who they are. But it isn't worth it when you see it causes wars caused by superiority complexes.

3-24-99

There is a new book I want to write about a family who are all devoutly religious in different faiths. The mother is indifferent but the dead father was a follower of Alistair Crowley. And the oldest boy is Muslim, his younger brother Christian, their younger sister Buddhist, their younger sister Jewish, and the youngest brother a Hari Christina and the youngest sister a new-ager and the adopted son a brilliant insightful wizard who brings them all together. There is also a son who is an atheistic scientist.

Bali
3-27-99

I got three more books: The Australia lonely planet, the greatness and limitations of Freud's thought by Erich From, the Penguin Classics , and sacred origins of profound things by Charles Panati.

I came here to Ubud yesterday. I called mom and saw monkey forest, bought three books and a camera and saw two movies. I like it here, I half a nice big room for 20,000. I will be here about a week waiting for my new card. Then go to Timor.

When I came here I danced for 2 nights, it was pretty fun, but not like it used to be. I went to the beach but it was over crowded. I will take a picture when I go there next, and the waves weren't good, only rideable for a couple seconds, so I went to another surf beach but it wasn't good there either (sunur).

3-28-99

The dream I had this morning was fucked up. I was in a barn in the fields with Wyndham and other friends and these two guys I was living with said they were going to kill me and they had guns. I was scared and scared for Wyndham and the others. When they turned their backs I ran, but I could only run like 5 miles an hour through houses and fields. Then I hid behind a tree just before they came out of a house that I came from. They saw me just after I realized I left my dart gun on the log near by and I lunged for it but it was too late and I fought the guy and shot him in the ear, and then the other guy tried to shoot me but accidentally had it pointed towards himself and shot himself in the face. Then I grabbed a rock and bashed their heads in. I cracked one guys skull even though neither bled. I felt sick and couldn't do it any more and only did it because I wanted to make sure they were out cold. Then I woke up.

3-4-99

I am still hanging out in Ubud, Bali, reading sacred origins of profound things. After this and the Freud book I plan on taking a long

sabbatical from reading and just riding, writing, and pushups, sit-ups, stretching, eating, and smoking whatever I feel like doing. I still have ring shaped sores that itch on my leg (3) and one on my neck. I will get worm medicine tomorrow. Rob suggested maybe it is ringworm. Maybe I will visit the doctor about it. I have had it for 2 or 3 weeks now and it suddenly came and my stomach is kind of sore.

I went to the course in Miracles talk yesterday ad the day before with Nick and Carrie and learned some new things.

I spent the last 5 nights hanging out with Nicki and Regan, from Bamf, the first 2 nights with Rub too from Seattle. I like it here. I like my room, it is big.

I saw the cemetery lake and volcano and tried to climb Gunung Agung but it was closed for the every ten year God ceremony which I got good pictures of.

3-9-99

I am now done with my reading for a long time now as far as I can tell. I came to this point after talking to Nick and Carrie the course in

Miracles teachers. "Even though I felt kind of patronized and wiser than them, I learned from them that it is now time for me to start pursuing my mystical path of not reading and spending my time with a quite mind, soaking up my environment as I travel around the world and getting into the shape of my life and connecting with the mystical side of things.

I think the unpopulated landscape of Australia is the perfect place to be creative, open up my mind unaffected by the zeitgeist by the earth itself. Which will give me peace.

3-21-99

I had a dream last night that I was on a trek or something and then I went to a building and saw all these guys in Kayaks going down a river that was about 80 degrees or something with a 50 foot waterfall. At the end of this section that was a couple hundred yards long, I saw about 20 boats go down, about half of them empty. Then I talked to the kids who did it. "Is that class six?" I exclaimed and one guy said "yea". I asked them about it and they told me stuff and said a 12 year old kid tried it in a raft but fell in and got knocked out and died of a heart attack. He said it really nonchalantly.

I had an interesting dream last night that I was in Denpasar and went to a party and asked this guy if he wanted to climb the Volcano with me and then I woke up. But I went back to sleep to see if he would say yes and he was discussing it with his friend but I cannot remember what happened because I woke up again.

I also dreamed that I and some other guy jumped on a bar over a 10,000 foot canyon just for thrills and before that I was in a supermarket and saw a naked girl stocker and wanted to talk to her although her coworkers thought she was crazy, I thought she was interesting.

 

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Australia
Recount

The landing in Darwin was the sketchiest I have ever experienced. The plane was rocking from side to side all the way until right before we touched down. From the window Darwin looked beautiful with the beach and light blue water and bay. This was one of my most exciting times ever because after well over a year I have been in third world countries and countries that don't speak English, and now I was going to be back in civilization. Most of the people in the plane were Indonesians though, so I still had to deal with a little bit of problems with them butting in line. But when I got on the road and was riding down the dry and sunny landscape with different kinds of trees I have ever seen before, I felt perfectly at peace. I went to a huge youth hostel where there were a lot of young Germans and Dutch kids who all seemed to be in their own groups and not intermingling, but I did start talking to a Dutch soccer player kid who was fun and showed me where a couple places were where all the tourists go for barbecues and beer.

I went to the local bike shop the next day and bought the stuff for my trip like a bike computer and six clamp on cages that can hold two liter water bottles, that would come in handy later on. I rode out towards Alice Springs the next day, and to my pleasant surprise a nice bike path accompanied me for the first fifteen miles or so. After about fifty miles the vegetation gave way to bushy desert that was perfectly flat as far as the eye can see; and quite often the road went perfectly strait for as far as I could see also. I sure was glad I had some weed to go along with the Australian rock music tapes I bought in Darwin. I brought some Marijuana over from Bali stored in my but, but it wasn't that strong and was running out. There were a couple of towns between Darwin and Alice Springs, but most of the places I stopped at to eat and get water were basically one family owned gas stations on the side of the road. Some had barbecues, but most only had Australian style hamburgers to sell me for food, which were very filling. The outback Australian hamburger was the same in all the places I went; a big meat patty, beets, which they call by the full name which I can't even remember, and lettuce and tomato and the like. They were filling, but as I worked up an appetite I needed more and more to fill me up, which added up on my wallet as each one was like seven Australian dollars.

Right after I ran out of weed I immediately craved more. The magic of having weed on that ride was that I was all by myself in the wilderness, with a car passing me by only once ever couple minutes. So I was basically all by myself in a pristine wilderness environment that was perpetually sunny and dry with a healthy amount of fresh wind. And that combined with the constant sound of crispy unpolluted sound of music in my ears made for a very peaceful and hypnotic experience. But every once in a while I needed to take a break from the monotony of the riding and sit down in the dirt and just enjoy being alive under the sun. So sitting down in the dirt with all the endorphins produced by the exercise pumping through my body mixed wondrously with the weed that I smoked. I would just sit there and get blazed until I was in dreamland. I felt like an aboriginal on his walkabout. I could imagine how they had no worries for 40 thousand years. They just walked around under the sun without a single worry on their mind. I don't know how they did it, but I saw a dead kangaroo ever few feet on the side of the road. I saw so many Kangaroos that the sweet smell of death was almost a constant smell. But I got used to it and eventually started to enjoy the smell. But if the Aborigines had as many kangaroos as I saw, they had so problem staying alive, of course as long as they knew where the water holes were. So right after I ran out of weed I thought I could do fine for the whole time without smoking, but then I started to wish I had some dope to accompany me on my occasional breaks. But lucky for me I saw a metal detachable pipe on the side of the road that was highly resonated. So I scraped in and got nice and high until I arrived into Alice Springs 11 days after leaving Darwin.

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I was very excited to arrive in Alice Springs because it has always been the oasis the the desert for me. It is a real city absolute middle of nowhere smack dabin the middle of Australia. It is in a river bed, probably one the only and the biggest in all of the Australian outback. The river bed I saw was just a big wide sand pit interspersed with trees. But the locals there told me that once a year in the rainy season it is a raging river and they have canoe races on it; sounds like fun. I remember descending into the river valley which was the first descent of any kind since I entered Australia. When I entered the city I went strait to the youth hostel, which was another huge one. I stayed in a big dorm room full of young kids who I felt like I couldn't talk to because they were all in their own clicks. But to hang out with other traveler kids wasn't one of my priorities, for I had resolved to buy a whole bunch of kind bud for my bike ride across Australia. I wanted to be baked off my ass for the whole time listening to music. So the first place I went to was the local pub on the main street. The town really was beautiful, it had a peaceful feeling to it. It had all the shops, restaurants, trees, and well maintained infrastructure that any first world city would want. I saw an group of Aboriginals walking down the road and figured that they would be the best people to hook me up with the weed culture here since they look so laid back. I asked them and the oldest tallest guy said he knew someone and that I should meet him at the pub on main street in an hour, so I went there and saw him and he introduced me to some old locals.

I had to hang out with those old fogies for three days before one of them finally got the motivation together to take me to his house and sell me a bag of nugget. So for three days I hung out with a group of four guys in their late fifties just hang out at the pub and buy each other beer. They would take turns buying ''rounds''. The preferred beer was called VB ''Victorian Bitter''. They hung out with the Aboriginal who introduced me to them, and another young ''Abo'' as they call them. The young guy was a hard core Abo, I mean this guy had his front teeth knocked out for starters. He said it was the traditional right of passage for Aboriginal men to get their two front teeth knocked out with a huge stick by their elders. Then he proceeded to tell me about how the Aboriginals are very territorial about their own area of land, and that they get violent with each other and especially outsiders if someone other than them comes into their land. I took what he was saying with a large grain of salt though, because the Aboriginals seem like the most peaceful people on Earth. But in reality only god knows what he was really telling me, because I only understood about half of what he was telling me because of his almost impossible to duplicate low guttural grunt of a voice that didn't have much volume to it. But I found it endearing how he was so eager to talk to me, and how mellow and calm and natural feeling he was.

The old fogies that I hung out with for the three days obviously led a very satisfying life. I didn't even really understand how these guys made their money. I think most of them were handymen, the guy who eventually sold me the weed set up and took down event tents. I think most of the economy of Alice Springs was in tourism, but they must have done some mining of some sort also. These guys were so laid back though. For the entire three days I was with them at that bar they were there the whole day as if that was what their entire lives consisted of. And they drank beers all day long. It actually kind of took a bit of a bite out of my wallet, but I didn't sweat it because I knew they were eventually going to hook me up and they were fun to hang out with. But it was funny how this guy procrastinated for three days. He always was like: ''Ok after this beer we'll go over to my house and get the stuff''. But something always came up and he had to drive someone somewhere or do something and didn't come back for the rest of the day. I think in a way he deliberately procrastinated so they could hang out with me and to make sure I was cool. But they did do a good job of making me one of the guys. Once they went to a hotel room of one of them to have some drinks, and took me along. When he was finally ready to sell me the goods, he took me to his house in his old 70's big 'ol beater and gave me a huge bag of kind bud for $160 Australian dollars which was a great deal. Then he drove me to the bike shop and wished me well.

While I was hanging out with those guys, an old Aboriginal man joined the group and started talking to me. When I told him of my plans to ride through the outback to Perth, he told me he was the chief of the tribe that gives permission to the people to go through the Aboriginal territory, and that all I had to do to get permission was to tell the people at the Bureau of Land Management office that he gave me personal permission and I would be alright. But when I was talking to the guy who sold me the weed, he told me that that old Aboriginal man was full of shit and spent ten years in jail for killing a 13 year old white girl and eating her tits. When I went to the land management office to get the permission papers, I told the woman that I met that old guy and what he said, and she said she knew who he was but he didn't have any authority to give me permission, and all I had to do was notify them of my intentions and they would just give me the papers.

While I was hanging out with those old guys I also met another guy who was one of the gang. He looked like Bruce Willis, and took an interest in me, and told me it was his birthday. He latched on to me for the rest of the day, and bought me beers. Then as it got later we took a cab to another place and had some more beers, then we went to a disco. He was really passionate and told me about how he loved queen and about the life of Freddy Mercury, and about a good friend his who died of AIDS, and how he was like a brother to him and he was with him when he died. He also told me about his son who was a nurse and his job in Tasmania, but his profession was as a police officer in Alice Springs and was going back to work in a couple weeks. Then he insisted on taking me back to his house because he knew a girl who I met earlier who sold weed and she would give me a good deal, and we would go get it first thing in the morning so I should stay at his place that night. So we took a cab to his house driven by a friend of his (all the locals seemed to know each other there). He had a couple roommates. I met one old guy, he was like sixty or seventy. He was incredibly fragile, small, obviously a raging alcoholic, and so drunk he could barely talk to us. My friend said he was jockey and had a bad accident when he was like twenty, and ever since then he had been an alcoholic. And he sure looked like he had been an alcoholic for the last 50 years. After a few classes of wine my friend insisted that the only bed for me to sleep in was in bed with him, but not to worry because he wasn't gay or anything. So I got in his bed, which was just a mattress on the floor of a messy room. And he jumped in and grabbed my dick, so I jumped up and told him to settle down, and he freaked out and profusely apologized and said he was drunk and that I had nothing to worry about so I lied down again, and he tried to grab my dick again, so I jumped up and left the room and he begged me to give him another chance, so I told him no way I'll just sleep in the other room. I walked back to my hostel early the next morning and never saw him again. The guy who sold me the weed told me he thought he was weird, but didn't say anything about him being a homosexual.

After I bought my weed I left Alice Springs the next morning. I remember climbing out of the valley, which was the only time I would do any climbing until the Kimberleys a few thousand miles later. I packed the weed the guy sold me into four film canisters and smoked it out of the bronze pipe I found on the road. It was a cool pipe to conserve weed with because it had a swiveling top that I could cover the bowl with and suffocate the burning ember and not waste any smoke. It was great to get high behind that tree with all those miles in front of me and all that weed to smoke.

After a couple days I got to the turn off to get to Ayers rock, or Uluru as the Abos call it. I rode one day in on the turn off and got this huge and very painful boil on my left but right where I sit on the seat. So I had to take a couple days off at one of the roadhouse restaurants. I camped behind the restaurant and read and wrote all day in my tent. There were some English girls working there who knew my name, but I was so into my own world I didn't feel like talking to anybody. When the boil matured I popped it produced so much white puss that it just oozed down my ass and soaked my sleeping bag under me and made a mess. It was about the same size as the boil I got on my left leg in Nias, Indonesia. I left the next day, but I wasn't ready because my ass still hurt. The next rest stop was the last one before Uluru. It was a little bit bigger, run by a family. There was the place where the cook was the friend of the guy who sold me the weed and he had heard of me. He was another eccentric and slightly more rough around the edges old guy. I spent a whole day there also because my ass was still hurting me. On my day off I was taken on a tour of the families livestock by the young son who lived there. We drove out a long way, like five miles or something so the water pail where they feed their cows. He showed me where the cows were all scattered all over the place. He told me the Australian livestock was the healthiest in the world because they have strict meat importation laws there. That whole family loved that place and their lives there. The cook told me that was the perfect life, away from all the bullshit of the city.

But the people of the outback are definitely a strange breed. I remember I meet one bike tourist who stopped when I crossed paths with him, which is what all the bike tourists I crossed with did. And he told me of a roadhouse where I should stop by at who got him stoned and welcomed him. But when I went there the guy was really rude to me. He said something like about how if I didn't decide what I wanted to eat soon he wouldn't ever serve me anything, so I ate and left pretty quickly.

When I got to Ayers rock I was a little surprised to see that there was a whole complex of tourist buildings, museums, and camp grounds set up there. I had a couple of beers with some people I saw at the roadhouse before, and rode to the rock the next day. I was very excited to go to Ayers rock because I had always known about it. I didn't know, however, that I could hike up to the top of it. I should have run all over the top of it, but I just walked around the south part of it. From the top I did see some small hills way off in the distance, and of course the Olgas to the west, which are a series of like three rocks similar to Ayers rock but a little smaller. Then I rode my bike around the rock on the tourist path and read all the plaques of the Abo stories of the myths of the creations of each of the rock formations around the rock.

The next day I took off on the sandy dirt road towards Perth. This was where the hard core bike touring

started. I arrived at the Olgas early enough but I

didn't want to waste any time checking them out. That is where the trek into the unknown territory began. At first the road was pleasant; maybe a little washboardy, but I was thoroughly enjoying myself because I only saw a car go by every three hours or so, so I was literally out there all by myself. And I was going slower because I was now on a bumpy dirt road so I felt more at one with the environment. But I soon found out that every once in a while I ran across a stretch of road that consisted of nothing but sand. And with the weight of my bike with the six two liter water bottles and food for two full days, I sank right into the sand until I could barely see my rims. But I tried to ride as far as I could when I got to those sections, but I always got exhausted after a few feet and had to walk the bike the rest of the way. Luckily enough for me though those sections never lasted for more than a hundred meters or so. But there were days towards the end of the outback trek when there were quite a few of those sand pits.

One thing I remember about that part of the journey is the music that I enjoyed listening to. I was really into that Rita Marley song ''One draw'', and my brothers rap tape he sent me. Especially the "Sitten with the crew just laughin, reefer packin, and a booty mackin" song.

Typically it was about two hundred miles between the towns where I could get a water and food refill, which was two days. So I would refill, and ride for a hundred miles and camp out all by myself in the middle of nowhere. And get up early and ride another hundred miles to the next place. I didn't want to deal with the embarrassment of having to bum water and food off of the cars that come by every three hours, so I made double sure to get my ass up early in the mornings so I could log in that hundred miles no matter what; but it worked out perfectly. Right at dusk I would arrive at the half way mark, and the next day I rolled into the town just before dusk.

The most interesting thing about the trip though, was the towns I refueled at. They were Aboriginal reservation towns. I had heard that the government made houses for them to live in in these town way out in the middle of nowhere, and instead of living in them like good citizens of a civilized world, they took them apart and made fires with the material in their living rooms. When I was there I didn't see any burnt down houses, but unfortunately I didn't give myself the chance to snoop around and I really wish I had spent some extra time there, as I am sure almost no one does because when I rode my bike through there the Abos there would wave at me excitedly like they have never seen anything like me before. They always had a pack of at least ten dogs following them around. The towns they lived in weren't very big, maybe about twenty houses or so.

When I came to these outback towns, the first thing I did was find the central store. In these outback towns there was always one central store ran by a white family. So if the store was closed, which it usually was, I would have to ask one of the wandering Abos where the white mans house is, and they would grunt (They didn't seem to speak English) and point towards the direction in an excited way towards the house. In this first town I went there and the guy drove me with his beat up car to the store where there was an Abo nearby who followed us in. The store was about the size of a convenience store, but had a very limited selection of goods; but had what I needed. After I got my stuff I had to wait as the Abo was trying to by his food. This Abo didn't seem to know English or even how to count because he put a pile of food on the counter and dropped a few crumpled bills next to it. The man said "OK Charley you don't have enough money for all of this stuff, you have to put some things back''. But the Abo didn't seem to understand what he said, so he picked up a couple things and put them aside and said. ''This is what you can by Charlie''. And the Abo took the stuff and walked off. That Aboriginal looked drunk, but I didn't recall seeing any alcohol in the store.

One weird thing about the Aboriginal people besides their strange physical appearance of spindly legs and arms, bulbous heads, afros, and protruding bellies, is how they seem like they are on super slow motion. In every outback town I saw Abos just walking in groups of half a dozen so slowly that I couldn't imagine that they were actually going anywhere. I would see other groups sitting down off in the middle of a dirt patch or next to a bush or tree not doing anything. And the way they walked was almost like they were staggering, and the structure of their faces makes them look kind of angry and stoned and drunk. Overall they give off a vibration of otherworldly ness like no other group of people I have ever seen before. They also dressed strangely. The women all dressed in really thin one piece floral dresses that don't look like they have ever been washed, and the men in short jean shorts and dirty tee shirts.

I remember Even though it was 200 miles between places where I could refill my water, I knew exactly where the places where because they were always at the base of the only hills in the whole area. Without fail I would take off into perfect flatness, and on the second day I would see a hill off in the distance and bet to myself that was where the place was, and it always was.

I think overall it took me like ten days or something to get across that part of Australia to where the paved road started again. I stopped at one camp sight in a place called Laverton and hung out with a couple of retired Australians in one of their mobile homes. They were panning for gold in one of the rivers. They seemed to make enough money doing that to keep going, but it wasn't clear because they also got their retirement money.

The first real city I arrived at was Calgoorie-Boulder, which was actually two cities, one Calgoorie with its suburb Boulder. This is an old mining town. I had heard about this place because of the restaurant where the waitresses are dressed in gee strings. I stayed in the youth hostel there, which was nice to be back in a bed for a night. One of my roommates in the dorm was an explosives specialist in the mines there. I went to the restaurant where the women dress in gee strings, and sure enough, the ladies were doing their thing in gee strings.

It is so funny how Australia tries to preserve its rough and tumble prostituting ways from the days of the countries conception when the English kicked all their prostitutes and petty thiefs out and took them to Australia to try to start a new country. And now a days they try to keep their reputation of being fun loving and free of any kind of stuffy establishment. But unfortunately along with that anti establishment attitude comes an attitude of reveling in ignorance in a kind of ''ignorance is bliss'' kind of attitude. One strange thing is that in the outback it is always the old men who are the wildest and most outgoing, and the younger folk are more reserved. But I would find out later when I got to Sydney that the Australian outback is different than the Australian cities.

Not too long after Kalgoorie-Boulder I entered a much more vegetated area of Australia, and I noticed that as I moved farther south it became colder. It was also getting more precipitous, and even rained every once in a while until the point that I had to start sleeping in my tent. It was also more hilly, so I felt like I was back in a normal country, and not in the middle of nowhere in the desert.

I was super excited to roll into Perth. The approach was exciting because there was a big descent into the coastal plane where the city was. I was also excited to be in the first big first world city that speaks English since America close to two years beforehand. I went to a youth hostel which was right in the center and was pretty big and consisted of a relatively large number of kids who seemed to be working in the city for a time. I went to the premier of Star Wars the Phantom Menace. There were lots of people dressed up as star wars characters. The theater was huge, it had two decks, and I was on the second one for the first time ever. The next day I rode towards the south of Perth were I could get a boat ride to an island one of the bike tourists I met told me about. The ride towards the south along the bay was nice along a nice bike path. But I got up late and it was a long way, so I turned around and went to the gym instead. I was surprised to see that at least half of the city was yellow Asians. And they were kind of annoying also, because they owned all the magazine shops and wouldn't let anybody look at the magazines before buying them. And looking through magazines was one of my favorite past times while traveling.

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Journal

Testing testing 123. I like it. This journal is going to last forever and will be a gem when it is finished. Where I left off I was in Perth. After that on the way back I decided to ride to a gym and do dead lifts which is the best way to pump, never boring. I went to the gym and realized I wasn't stoned enough so I went to the shower and got baked and went and sweat in the sauna and soaked in the hot tub then pumped every machine dead after lift which is the bests way to pump, never boring, you do ten of your hardest and work you way down and that way you get to pump all the way. From the jerky, chi-powered heavy fresh style, down to perfect form yet with muscle burn with the lighter weights.

Then I left the next day but didn't get too far, rode down a beautiful bike path and then got lost and found. I went slow to Geralton, and rolled in with aching feet vowing to buy SPD. It was about time I stopped riding around in normal shoes in toe clips. Then while the guy at the shop was trying to take my pedal off I decided to get cranks suited for me as I have been riding on 165 millimeters, suited for someone under five feet tall. Getting the pedal off was wacky. We stripped the side, then filled a new notch with an electric sander and heated it with a torch and finally got it off after like 20 minutes. I ordered Deore XT 175 cm cranks at a special 300 bucks but had to weight two days for it.

The Dude James let me stay at his friends house who he was house sitting for with his buddy from London. I went there and when work was over they came and we went to the gym where they did their boxing. I thought I would see some sparing but they just punched their hands but Craig taught me. You keep your hands at your face and punch with your feet spaced one before the other and lead with the hand with the leading foot. He taught me how to use the double connected little guy for dodging. I just pumped for most of it for free cause the cop couldn't find no change.

Then we drank beers and saw a band for a little that was too loud and went home and watched TV and smoked it up with Craig but not James. I spent the next day reading magazines, smoking with Craig, watching movies and taping CDs and then went to the bike shop the next day but it hadn't come yet so he said he would take one off one of his bikes because it was the same one and charged me the same price, but I noticed the next day it wasn't XT but LX and he only gave me a 10$ discount for my cranks so he ripped me off. But I just figured it was an accident. Then I realized I need 48 teeth instead of 44, or even 50, but oh well.

I rode like 60 miles that day but double that the next day because I was trying to do my first all nighter but it got too cold so I quit and did it the next day. 300 miles in 30 hours. It was easy not like I expected. I felt like kicking myself for not doing it earlier. I woke up the next morning with 140 kilometers to go to the next town and one extra bottle and worried a little but saw a camper and got more water right after I saw 2 hitchhikers. And after I ate the last of the record 5 lot burgers I got the day before. My appetite was asunder. I rode 90 miles that day to the roadhouse that I camped at and took off the next day for 103 miles. 160 kilometers and then 70 miles into Carantha where I rested for two days in preparation for the big 50 hourer, but of course I didn't do it. I never do it when I specially prepare for it. I couldn't have done it anyway because I discovered my rear wheel was suddenly wildly out of true the rim cracked. I had to get it replaced at Port Hedland. But Port or rather South Hedland had shit for service so I took the bus 600 km's to Broom where I decided to cut the shit and get the super wheel I have been dreaming about for so many years. In a way I feel like I am finally liberated as a cyclist. Those God damn rear wheels have fucked with me so god dam much since touring. It prevented me from doing the Annapurna circuit as the rim cracked, and cracked again in Korea and cracked again now not to mention getting it rebuilt in Alice because the dude in Kathmandu put lock tight on the spokes and the 10 or so times I had to go through that pain in the ass spoke replacement sessions.

But now my money situation is fucked, me thinks I gotsta borrow money but momma don't got none because Mike borrowed 450 for car repairs for school tuition already and so my only hope is Wyndham, but he should have enough. I will need less than a thousand. I am zoned but comfortable, I don't want to hang with homies, just explore my own self. That suits my personality best but I feel truly comfortable with it.

I overheard another typical Australian conversation between two blokes last night while eating at the local hostel. Two dudes here on a watermelon picking vacation:

"I could kick your ass at footy"

"Bullshit, you fuckin wanker, I can even bounce it".

"Bullshit''.

"Yea, I play basketball a lot".

"But those are round"

"Man I could plow through you, you'd get hurt"

"You could never hurt me". Then the older guy asked my name and said. "I'm a bad person, you don't want to know me, last week I got in trouble,"

"What happened?"

"I don't know, I spend like 400 bucks a night just on beer, they would like to kick me out but I make them too much money"

"By bringing people here?"

"Yea"

"Do you smoke marijuana?"

"Yea, that's my business, it should be legal, I make more money in that than watermelon picking, 250 thousand, I'm sore, I picked up 40 tons of water melons last weak. Throwing them ye ya high, why, do you smoke?''

"Hell yea" then he left and I blazed and passed out.

Today I was just zoned. went to the museum, and bought an Edgar Cayce book. In Sydney I will get a Marx book, when I walked in the shop there was an old sleeping Aboriginal who woke up as I was standing next to him looking through bargain books outside. He suddenly started talking to me, I couldn't understand, I think he was saying, but I guessed, it was something like "Yea, look through those books and the lady inside will help". You, where are you going? Where have you been?"

I want to do the double dunch before Sydney. That's 50 hours. If I can do that I'm a double duncher. Do you remember the HH song? It is such a romantic idea just doing the dunch up mountains, Kayaking, running, dancing, whatever. I think our bodies are rigged to handle that good, its all mental, you don't get sore until you get grumpy, as long as you have a positive attitude you keep on trucking tough daddy.

It is Sunday night and I have been here for a bit now. The first sight I was in the first night was apparently too close for my neighbors comfort as they had the campground host move me to this dreamy spot under perpetual shade and privacy, and it ain't that far from the poopy house.

However I must note one of my old man neighbors who was traveling in a group of seven had on individual tent and was snoring super loud for a couple of nights. He was sleepy time very early, as if he could just close his eyes and zonkify, my other neighbor the drunken Scotsman was snoring one of the nights so I could hear two snorers at once. I think it interesting to note I haven't seen any of my neighbors, just heard them as I am always in my tent. Turned away to the other side is this older man in a super big canvas tent and goes to I think work in the morning on his motor bike and comes back at 5, he didn't leave today Sunday. He drinks with drunken Scotsman and they talk shit and make fun of each other which is an Australian sign that they are friends (a reason to be nice to someone is that you will never see them again). One night I heard drunken Scotsman come back with his friend:

"I don't drink for looks, She drinks for looks". Then he was talking shit about someone and his buddy left. Australians are always talking shit to each other, for example today:

"Hey Burt give me a cigarette"

"Don't got one"

"Bullshit"

"No really, this is my last one, your in a mood".

"Bull shit, I'm not in a mood, your in a mood".

"Oh, keep dreaming".

Behind me are a couple English birds and I think they drink with drunken Scotsman, I've seen them from a distance, one short blond hair and the other stocky short black hair, maybe they are dykes. who cares. After old timers moved out a couple moved in and next to them momma with the loudest baby I have ever heard in my entire life. It is always either laughing or crying. It honestly switches over, who knows how. And mama always talks to baby:

"No, you get to sleep baby, otherwise you will be grumpy tomorrow and bother mommy like you did today". I actually like to hear its noises.

Behind me beyond the girls is a big group of middle agers who laugh a lot and make much noise and play the radio all day long, they are laughing now as I eat my 2 liters of tri flavored ice cream. In front of me beyond baby is the school of high group that came today in a double Decker bus. The group of 30 or so is presently sitting around a Willie Nelson type dude playing classic camp fire songs of which I admire but not mommy and baby. The laughers are too far away to hear as guitar man is also beyond a road of which a car just passed.

I went to the beach and stuck my toes in the ocean for the first time since Darwin and boy was it cold! I bought an astronomy book and a big idea series book on Neils Bohr and quantum physics. After this one I shall do them all. I am presently plotting a map of the cosmos in my head so I can fit the Aliens in and then explain the entire phenomenon to all beings. I'm putting the ice cream away in the handy camp ground icebox to use as ''breaky'' No ice box just threw it down toilet.

Not only can I hear momma and baby perfectly but I can see mommas silhouette perfectly against her tent as I watch her eat nuts or something out of a bag as I can hear the rumple of its plastic ness. She just drank something. I saw her mix there, now she is looking down doing something as she sits cross-legged facing her baby in the carraige She was rolling a joint, now she's smoking it. Now she's leaning down as if reading and sipping tea as I heard her slurp. She just checked the time and had a sip. Now she's just sitting there and drinking out of a can. She is definitely reading. and definitely smoking a joint because of the frequent shallow tokes all the way to the end of the but. She is about 10 feet away from me on the other side of a fence and it is 9:20 on Sunday. Now she's holding the magazine up and reading it. I can hear every move she makes. She coughed a bit ago, I can hear the burning of the magazines pages, so she can hear all of my moves and so I try to be quiet and become glad I am writing and not recording. She is in the outer level with the crib where the test has only one layer, I can't see her when she retreats back in the tent which she just did turning the light off at 9:24. But I can still hear her and am tuned in to her every move as she got in the sleeping bag and ate more out of the bag and drank some. But now she is silent in the grips of the night and I am left with something else to report.

The laughers are still at it. Men joking and women laughing. They're cockneys. They are actually the girls behind me and drunken Scotsman I think. No it is the older ones. I heard an old man laugh. Oh, someone just walked buy the road and I heard a car door shut somewhere. I feel sick, a nutritional deficiency it feels like, but I think just too much junk food and pot. It's not that bad. I actually have a nice pleasant relaxed feeling from the stoniness. I actually experienced a warm wind enter my body after having a booster hit today. Praise Jah I said, the woman just left the tent out of a door on the other side of the crib that I didn't even know existed. This is the coolest campsite ever. Just reading and writing all day and night in the comfortable day seaside weather.

Hallelujah, I think its happy happy buy buy time for me. I have been having sweet travel dreams, but of course I cant remember them so I shall keep a dream journal when the dope runs out in one more canister. For I am at the end of the 3rd out of 4 film canisters. They are going faster than I thought when I first got it. I didn't take into account that you get desensitized and need more to stay in never never land. Anyway sweet dreams. Thinking cosmically as you let the warm winters enter The therapeutic use of drugs -The new media.

7-3-99

I went to the bike shop and the wheel came in on Friday, but that's ok. Maybe I wouldn't have become interested in Astronomy if I hadn't have had that weekend. I started riding at 1 pm. I rode until sunset at five. The next day I fought the wind, the hardest ever, and rode 100 miles until like 9:00 pm. And the next day was another brutal day. I got to Fitzroy Crossing at 8:40, and a raid train driver who doesn't just drive the 120 toner, but 170 ton rock hauler with 3 1/2 trailers who wants to do a 4 year around the world bike tour gave me a ride for 30 Ks. But I forgot to fill up my water. Luckily he had about 2 liters for me and I rode until ding dong 4:20 AM. It was a beautiful clear night. I stopped after reaching the top of a beautiful hill with cliffs on either side of me. It was the biggest hill climbed in all the ones before Perth. It was head windy but not half as bad as during the day, it seemed to be getting stronger and stronger and I got genuinely tired because of all of the hammering into the fierce headwind I had been doing. I figured it would be wise for me to rest now, after all I had been riding 10 hours straight and would have needed to stop and rest before getting to Hals Creek anyway. I stopped with 190Ks left of the biggest gap yet of 290Ks. Although I think I remember passing a place at night that is in the Lonely Planet book, but I was too macho at the time. I very efficiently went to sleep in less than 10 minutes and woke up and got out making that only a 4:30 hour break.

I rode strong the next day until sunset at 5. A solid 7 hours of pedaling of the 8 on the road, but I only managed to cover 70 Ks because of the wind. My mood and water was getting low, but I knew there was a camp ground just up the road where I could bum more water. I got off at 7:30 and was riding surprisingly strong; stronger than the day before. I went from 120 to go to 65ish to go before noon. At about 1:00 AM the road turned to the left a little bit so I wasn't riding directly into the wild anymore, so I was riding 8 mph instead of 6 which made a noticeable difference and boosted my moral. Than it got better to 10. I got a flat with 10 km's to go and pumped it up, then an aboriginal woman coming at me stopped her car at me staring at me so I thought she wanted to talk to me, but she was just having car trouble, that is the second time that has happened. I magically rode into town right as the sun was setting and went to the grocery store and caravan park. That night I was feeling sore and feverish all over. I know that feeling, physical burnout. I haven't had it that bad since Morocco. I kind of knew my chances of riding today were bleak, but I still planned on it, but when I got up, I said ''no way" and just futzed around kind of dazed out all day. It is sunset now and although I feel a lot fresher than yesterday, I still am sore all over and feverish. I will ride tomorrow though no matter what. I have 160Ks to go tomorrow, if the wind is like it was for the end of yesterday I can do it. I have a feeling I have a fever now because I ate so much junk food in Broom. I bought a two liter triple flavor and ate half of it and munched pizzas and candy for 4 days; but mostly it is because of the riding. I feel a bit of pressure to get there quick before I spend the money I have. Plus me wants to get to Sydney quick so me don't run out. I have a feeling I will feel good tomorrow. I am almost out of nugs, I don't have the money to buy more, and I want to bounce back to sobriety; I hope it goes smooth. It was so nice being so stoned so long. All I feel is intensity, so I just need to remember to keep up the intensity and I will be fine. It will be interesting to see if I can keep up the brilliant thoughts. Its amazing, on nugs I am all knowing, I should write about that.

7-7-99

Well I finally did it, bonked. I left Kununera without enough food and reaped the consequence. I could have made it here or close last night but I was kind of spooked by the darkness seeing that I was sober for the first time in two months. The reason I didn't bring enough food was because I lost 5 bananas out of my bags. I meant to put them in a good place but I forgot. For some reason I also didn't realize it was 230 Ks to the next place but only got two more sandwiches because I was stingy because I just spent 22 bucks on 2 new tapes $10 on a tire and $85 on new shorts. I was stoned and just figured I would motivate through the night but I stopped at a wee 9:00 and figured I would star gaze, but there were too many stars to star gaze without a map so I fucked off and went to bed. I knew I would be fucked the next day. I slept ok, but the dam piece of shit sleeping bag is always soaked. I turned it inside out so I wouldn't suffer but the dew made it worse. I got up late and was off at 9 after eating just crackers. I got to experience bonkness for the first time in years and it sucks. I was super week and couldn't eat to replenish my energy because my stomach shriveled so I bought a six pack of beer. This'll be the most beer for me since Alice springs. It brings back memories of Alice. Which seems like a ways off now. I wonder if my writing style is any different now that I am sober. Anyway, my day was fucked so I stopped early at 2:00. Tomorrow I shall try to get up bitch-silly early and try to get my ass 280Ks to Katharine tomorrow.

I was having many thinkings today about the "universal theory", which I call it. The conglomeration of truths about the evolution of humans and heaven. It is fully fortified in my head as spinning truths forever mine as the netherly spirits try to pump them to me. All I need to do now is sit down and write it and converse it. For example here are some:

1) The spirits say I must travel before speaking.

2) The young rockers in my tapes of top 40 rockers are very spiritual but negative and pessimistic which will lead to optimism which I will capitalize on.

3) The youth are too smart to be able to communicate with their parents, the old cant grasp it.

4) For me to write the book I need to address all angles of view:

a) The close minded freedom lovers.

b) The Christian right.

c) the pessimistic loaf.

d) The uneducated believer.

e) The scientific thinker.

f) The native.

5) Marijuana is truly a bringer of genius, without it you need to really quiet down the mind before insights come.

10) People want a leader.

16) Don't judge lest be judged can be a great scale to decide how to react to specific people.

17) alcohol and pot have the same effect on me when I am by myself, only alcohol makes you share your soul with your brother even if it means pain, the pot will avoid pain at all costs, the alcohol is more noble, and better for your mind although bad for your body. Why does the reason for non drugs and sex changed now than in Paul's time? Because it detracted form them working to get here, but with all the sexes and drugs elevate. you must always take the situation into account. people hate drugs because they don't believe in their brothers who are the sun of God as well, and that is the first step, by brother.

18) people love you more when you are honest, even if you are out of line isn't that strange. people love emotion, but only when there is no negativity. This old couple gave me a soda today and it really helped me as I was suffering form malnutrition but now I am fine form the beer calories, the Christians need to realize this drunkenness why? If every thing that's good comes form positive things, was slavery positive? Because it was a different world in the past, this is transition time

Fuck alcohol. I was buzzed a bit but that turned to a hang over and empty still fucked stomach so I woke up malnourished, feverish, and tired. It was slow going and got off at 11:30, the latest yet, second to Kununura at 11:00. I didn't have much fun riding today because I couldn't hammer because my chain was skipping. It started after Kununura with a weird sound in the smallest cog and then quickly got so stretched that I could barely ride hard enough to keep the bike moving at a reasonable pace. So after 92 Ks I stopped at Victoria river and will get the bus to Darwin tomorrow.

I saw a dead four foot long lizard on the road today and a wallaby I took a picture of. The book about Neils Bohr and Quantum physics is great, but exhausts my brain.

I saw a UFO the other night, I was riding and saw a shooting star in front of me, and then a couple seconds later I saw another shooting star to my left. I looked right at it. It was going slower than a normal shooting star and was very bright. Then it split into three pieces connected by a haze and disappeared, it looked like this. It was definitely not a meteor, unless it exploded, I don't know.

I just talked to this river guide about crocodiles. The largest one caught was 30 feet long and they can be more than a meter wide easy and can out run horses for short distances and live up to 80 years. The fresh water ones can live 50 years. Saltwater crocs can swim 50 kilometers up river. They have brains the size of a quarter but watch the patterns of land animals like fishermen and know when someone is coming when they are predictable so they can eat them. The only place to kill a croc by hand is by sticking it in the back of the head or through the eye. The guy gives tours on the river the restaurant is on. He said if you go down to the bridge fifty meters down the road you can see the eyes in the water; but for some reason I didn't do that.

7-17-99

I started riding yesterday. The last time I wrote I was in Victoria river. When the bus came two hours late the driver said he was too late and didn't have time to put my bike in and that I should have reserved a ticket, so I reserved a ticket for the next day. But that night I met a 66 year old man who bought me coffee and hung out with another man who sung a long Aussie poem. He offered to drive me to Darwin the next morning to get there the next day so that night we stayed in Pine Creek and he invited two young Belgian girls for a beer and then I met a cute girl traveling with her father, from Tucson, he went to school in Boulder. This guy Patrick kept talking on and on. He was a ten year old in the concentration camps in Japanese occupied Java during World War II. At the end of the war he had the choice to go to Holland, Canada, or here. His two sisters went to Canada and Holland but he came here.

I had to stay in Darwin for 5 nights because for some reason my card couldn't get any money out. Wyndham loaned me $3500 to get to Sydney. I only got $850 for the last quarter which is the worst quarter ever next to $1200. Two quarters ago it was $2000. I am curious to know what the next one will be. I guess she just finalized more logistical stuff. I was eager to make a move so I didn't feel like doing anything but moping and watching TV and movies. I bought a book about science, a new chain and cog and two tapes.

When I got my money I took off but after 10 miles down the road turned around to get weed because my heart was aching. I asked a couple of people and these dreadsters said I should go to Mindel beach or something and it was jam packed with people. I asked a couple of stoners and then this guy who was selling coconuts and he had a $50 quarter bag. As I was walking down the beach right after sunset I saw this feminine looking guy in a dress with bloodshot eyes, he was holding a lighter and what I thought was a pipe so I said:

"You got anymore?"

"What"

"weed"

"oh, no"

"I just got some but want more''.

"no, just this little bit, let me see what you got". So we walked down the beach a little bit and I showed him.

"Is this a good deal?"

"Does it matter?"

"Have you been to America?''

''Yes, in Tucson once for a spiritual workshop"

"Oh so your spiritual"

"Aren't we all?"

"Well yea, but not all interested and open minded about religion" So I gave him my spiel.

"Is you name Jonathan?"

"No".

"I like to guess, maybe I will get it right some day''.

"Guess again".

"Eric".

"Yes, well it used to be in Sydney, it was Erica. Because I was feminine".

"Are you gay?"

"Of course what kind of silly question is that?" Then I went off some more and started talking about my past lives.

"Do you have any idea what any of your past lives were?"

"Of course I think we all know, what kind of silly question is that?" Then I talked to him about Aliens.

"Do you know anything about aliens?"

"Yes"

"Tell me, but he was quiet for like 20 seconds''.

"Well do you?"

"What do you reckon just happened just then?"

"Well I asked you what you knew about Aliens and you just were silent while I was enjoying the sound of the tide coming in. What were you thinking?"

"I was looking at the moon".

He said: "Is the tide coming in or out?" But I didn't know.

"Are you from here?"

"Yea I grew up here, but I just moved back after being gone". This guy was out of it and incapable of having an intelligent conversation, or even answering questions.

"What is your job?"

"I'm a performer"

"Oh, at these night markets?"

"Everywhere". For some reason I didn't believe him. But now, I could see it. He asked me my star sign and then I guessed his at Cancer, but he said "guess again". So I dwelled on it a couple seconds. ''Sagittarius?" "Yes". Whoa! I was feeling psychic. He asked me if I had ever expressed my feminine side, so I told him about the homo cop who tried to touch my dick in Alice Springs. That's when he said he was thirsty so we went back and I saw these performers.

They rapped, juggled on a tall unicycle, break danced and did the ''super duper'' trick, where the guy on top juggles three flaming sticks. Then I saw tapes for only $10 bucks.

Then saw a motorized glider that could hold two people. It had a range of 300-400 KM, and could go 4 hours at 100 miles an hour, and costed around 20K Aussi bucks. Man I want one. It could climb a thousand meters a minute. The guy was charging $5 for 25 minutes. I should have gone for a ride. That would be so cool to fly over the Rockys.

Then I saw a Christian video and these fundamentalists asked me if I believed in God.

"Yes but I don't believe in hell, which is what you people are so infatuated with, and they said all the classic fundamentalist stuff about how you need Jesus and everything else belongs to the Devil.

"If God is all powerful and Created us, why could the Devil get almost everybody?"

"Well you have the chance"

"And you are saying I am blowing mine by believing in reincarnation and thinking scientifically?"

"There are scientists with PhD's who don't believe in Evolution".

"Can you name one we have all heard of?"

"No".

"I bet they are like one percent".

I told them all the reasons and facts, but what I missed and should have stressed the most was that if you see anything but God in your brother the Devil has you. I made this point too harshly with this girl and made her cry and shake all over. I was telling these guys about meditation, Vipassana, and she said.

"Are you talking about TM? Because in TM they focus on an object and meditate on it saying a chant and it hypnotizes them into the Devil and that is scary stuff, all that Eastern religion, this is serious!" and I said,

"You just brought fear and worry buy saying that the world is so dangerous"

"You need to ignore all the negativity of the world, all of the environmental problems are just side affects, but everything is going as planned". And she tried to interrupt me and I said "let me finish" and went on, my voice was raised and I was waving my arms around, but she was too petrified to understand. She thought the devil was in me because I was being so honest with her, even though right before I went off she said

"Sometimes you need to offend the tell the truth" Well she got what she asked for. I would have been a lot more affective if I had of come up with a long lasting song that praised gods creation with a main theme stressing that there is nothing to worry about and you are what you make yourself so you should be an environmental activist. That way they will be forced to hear me out. I also need to stress that scientific thinking is good by showing what it has done and exactly how it is opposite from superstitions.

After I talked to them I went back to the disco but I didn't feel like dancing, so I went back and this old Aboriginal dude asked me for money so I sat down and talked to him and have him two bucks. He said he got on the last bus to go home 10 KM away and had the money but the bus driver said he was too drunk.

"Do I look drunk to you?"

"No".

He said he was going to file a complaint.

"Why don't you have money for a cab?"

"I gave it all to my 13 kids and six grandkids, I don't even have enough money for another shirt''.

''So you spent all of your dole money, how much is that?"

"$390 a fortnight (two weeks)''

So $780 a month. Like $500 us a month. That's so much, no wonder these Abos don't work, they don't have to. But from the sound of it they couldn't get a job if they wanted to.

"I have been here two hours, and nobody gave me anything, they're just rude, walk on buy. I feel like just sleeping here on the sidewalk but someone will come buy and tell me to get up. These people are ass holes, they couldn't sleep here on the sidewalk if they had to. I'll tell you, they call this civilization, but it isn't, we're more civilized. It isn't easier to live like this. Before when you are hungry you spear a kangaroo, when you are cold you make a fire. I'll tell you a secret, my grandfather had a vision and told us that this year a comet is gonna come and almost hit earth, and will make earth spin off its axis and the poles will melt and there will be a giant flood, and that people came from the bright star and interbread with us."

I was too stunned to try to have a reasoned conversation with him. Then I got a burger at McDonalds and went home.

I left the next day and got a blow out at 43 miles out and put a bunch of patches over the tire and sowed up the $10 dollar tire and put it in the front, and the tire I got in Thailand in the back. Then I got picked up by this guy and driven 300 or so kilometers to 25 kilos before Katharine and his car ran out of gas so I rode the rest of the way and bought food and water and rode for a couple more hours. I was gong to ride all night but I got sleepy and the sky was good for gazing so I stopped but fell asleep and was cold which surprised me and I slept in and took forever getting out. I rode a couple miles and decided I was too tight and needed to stretch so I stopped and then decided to make this my spend all day in the desert day that I have been planning for a month or so. I shouldn't fall asleep instead of star gazing tonight. I am camped in this sand dune runoff following the shade. I want to write this song today. But I need to finish the notes from quantum physics books so I can throw it away.

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Recount

After Katherine there was a turnoff to the left where I would have my biggest stretch without water. But during the night my strap came loose and locked up my rear tire, and the skid was enough to burn away enough of the rubber to allow a hole large enough to let the tube come through, and a the next day the hole was so big that I couldn't continue and had to thumb a ride. The first few cars didn't stop, but eventually a guy from Belgium stopped and gave me a ride to Mount Isa, which is officially the largest city in the world according to land mass. In reality it is just a small town of a couple thousand people. I got a new tire and camped in a camp site there for a night. I rode for another couple days but got really sick because I went to a roadside gas station and asked the old man who worked there where the bathroom was so I could fill up my water bottles and he said the hose had good water for drinking. But when I smelled the water it smelled like gas, so I asked him if he was sure it was good for drinking and he assured me. So I did something really stupid and filled my water bottles up with the water and as soon as I left and was riding down the road I noticed that the water really did have gas in it, but I had to drink it because it was the only water I had to get to the next place. But by the time I got to the next town I was so sick I had to stop at the local camp ground and take a day off. I rode for another couple days and realized in a town that I was low on money. So I decided to take a bus to Brisbane and try to get a job there.

I spent a couple days in Brisbane. It is a really nice looking city. It has a big river running up through it, and a nice bike bath running along the river that I rode up. It also had a nice pedestrian mall and cool big buildings. The hostel I stayed at there was a cozy house and consisted purely of traveler kids who were working in Brisbane. They would all get together at night and watch TV together and talk shit about the American shows they were watching. We were watching Dawson's creek and one guy said. ''It's so stupid that 15 year old kids are talking like they are 40''. I didn't get a job right away there so I took the bus strait to Sydney.

When I got to Sydney I went strait to kings cross and started looking for a hostel to stay at, but the first few I checked were full, but there were hostels all over the place and I eventually found one. Overall I was in Sydney for a month, but I didn't make much money and decided to go home for a little while after more than two years away. I had trouble finding work because I made the mistake of telling the truth that I didn't have a work permit when I should have lied and given them a false number starting with the digits that Americans have, then I would have been fine. I did get a job for a couple days canvassing houses selling a service that puts numbers on houses. The neighborhoods we went to were beautiful. They were hilly and had little lakes in the canyons. But I wasn't in the mood to sell door to door. I was offered a job selling office stuff door to door but I didn't want that. I was also offered a job in a coffee house, which I really regret not taking. I worked for a few days in construction via a job placement agency, but the ass hole refused to pay me for my last days work because he knew I didn't have a work permit. I wish I had reported him to the authorities. I did report him to the construction guys I worked for though. Then for a couple weeks I worked in construction building some millionaires house right on the south side of the harbor. But because I didn't have a work permit, I had to have them send the money to a Kuwait kid I met In the hostel, but he left to pick fruit in the north and said he never got the money. So I had the new job placement agency I worked for put the money in my roommates bank account. But I left Sydney before he got the first check, and for some weird reason I never called him to have him send me the money.

My hostel situation in Sydney was kind of strange. Two of my roommates were kind of living there. One guy was an Irish kid who was stuck there for some reason and working moving furniture with one of the guys who worked their who didn't seem to like me and didn't want to hook me up with a construction job. My other roommate who was the guy who I had the agency put the money in the first time was this Kuwaiti kid who had Australian citizenship and owned an apartment there but preferred to rent it out and live in hostels and travel around. He left not long after I got there though. there was another Japanese roommate I had who left with the Kuwaiti kid, who was cool. He told me that he studied the writing of Ken Wilber in Japan, and I told him that Ken Wilber lives in Boulder where I am from. The Japanese kid wanted to buy weed one day so we went to a coffee shop a couple blocks away that I heard you could get weed and and I asked them people who work there if I could get weed, and sure enough they brought out weed for me. That was cool, so it basically meant that weed is basically legal there in Australia. My roommate was cool, but he freaked out yelling at the Irish kid one morning because he was screwing his girlfriend right there in the hostel room with the rest of the people who were there. There were some cool French girls I had as roommates for a little bit who were fun to hang out with also. But one day I just decide that I wanted to go home. So I bought a ticket and rode down to the airport and came on home.

 
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Recount

I went across such a pathetic part of the Rio Grande river that I could have walked across it without getting my shirt wet, but as soon as I got to the other side I was in another world. Mexico had narrower streets and the buildings were older, smaller and unpainted. It was exciting to be in another country for the first time in almost a year. The first thing I did was go to a bank to get Pesos, but the ATM was busted so I asked a lady who worked at the bank where another one was and she was struggling to tell me because she didn't speak any English, in fact the only thing she said in English was ''across the street'', but that was enough to locate the place. I went to the central pedestrian street and found a hotel there. Because I was in an undeveloped country I though I could bargain the price of the hotel like I did in Asia, but the guy didn't have any of it, which was alright because it was nice and cheap. It was nice to be staying in a bed again in my own room after sleeping on the side of the road. Pretty soon I forgot about some bike stuff I forgot to get when I was in Brownsville so I crossed back in America and delt with some pretty big culture shock even though I was only out of the country for a couple hours. America was just so much more organized and cleaner and the roads were so much bigger. After I went back to Mexico I had a walk around the pedestrian mall where there was a market and looked for a good restaurant to have some Mexican burritos as my favorite food in the world are burritos. While I was about to go into the restaurant a Mexican guy said ''Hi how are you'', or something like that and so I automatically thought he could speak English so I started speaking English to him as if he could understand me but he just had a blank look on his face. I can't remember what the burritos were like in the restaurant but I don't think I was impressed.

I bought a pump and a tube and stuff and then went across the Rio Grande into Mexico. The river was a little non moving creek. I rode over the bridge, and when I got to the half way point on the bridge the trash started. Now I was in Mexico, how exciting. I went to the city center and went to the various hotels and bargained but found out that they don't do that here, but it was still cheep, about 11 bucks for a room. The next day I got a tourist card and went back to America to get a translator computer and camel back water bladders because the boarder official said there was no water between Matamoros and the next town, San Fernande, 137 kilometers away, presumably against the wind in the heat. I was like ´this is going to be like Australia´. But it wasn't a challenge at all, there are taco stands and ´mini supers´ all along the route.

The next day I rode down south. Matamoros is a huge place and it took me a while to get out of the city, but when I did the terrain was nice and flat and the roads weren't too bad.

The first day I had my own lane and was thinking Mexico is made for bikers. My hotel room that night was 18 bucks but I had air conditioning for the first time, and it was nice and had a TV that played American movies in English all night which was very luxurious. The next morning this guy was all, 'you want dope´? and I was like, 'yes, all right'. He got me this quarter bag of good stuff from the south for six bucks. He said there were only three dope sellers in the town and the rest were crack sellers. I thought that was weird, he asked me if I wanted some crack as if I did. I have to say is that the drivers here are crazy and the roads are narrow.

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Form letter number two

After I got to Mexico I started having to ride during the day. But I am in good enough shape to ride in the day now and not wish I was dead or watching TV in an air-conditioned room or something. The first day in Mexico was with big 'ol shoulders on the road. And it was great, because I noticed almost immediately they don't give bikers the kind of space they do in America. Probably because there aren't as many bikers here. The first town I stayed in south of Matamoros was after a 137 km day. It was still against the wind, but not as bad as in America. I got an air conditioned room and watched movies on my TV in English. I was like, 'this ain't bad one single bit'. But the other TVs I got since then are all in Spanish, and my Spanish ain't that good yet to hear what they are saying. But I learn a little and still enjoy the Simpson's and stuff. Luckily this dude hooked me up with weed in that town, and I was set from then on out.

The next day was like 132 kilometers. Then I did 115. Then I wanted to rest and learn some Spanish from my phrase book, so I took a rest day. I didn´t totally learn Spanish that day, but it gave me an idea. Then I rode into Tampico, and two days after that to here, Poza Rica. This is an oil city of almost two hundred thousand people. Downtown is crazy, it is very crowded and has lots of weird stuff for sale, like 40 cent fruit juices. The food here is good and healthy.

I just came back from El Tajin, one of the 7 main Mayan ruins here in Mexico. It had eleven ball courts between pyramids. The biggest pyramid is 18 meters high. Back in the good old days 1500 to 2000 years ago, the loser got his heart cut off. I have taken pictures of hills that look like pyramids and wondering if they are pyramids buried under there that they don't know about. That is how El Tajin was until a couple hundred years ago when they found it and cleared it. El Tajin was definitely made by humans, but there are rocks there that look like they were cut by power tools that I took a picture of. (Written later: Actually I don't think El Tajin was made by humans.) At the entrance of the ruins they were doing a show that the Mayans used to do where they would climb to the top of a tall pole and tie themselves to rope and then let themselves fall as the rope unraveled.

I am psyched about the next ruin, Teotihuacan, which is one or two days riding from here. It has the third biggest pyramid in the world at 70 meters high, and the base is %97 the size of the great pyramid! It is in-between in size of the two biggest Egyptian pyramids. And there is a pyramid even bigger than the biggest Egyptian pyramid in a town called Pueblo near Mexico city but it is overgrown with vegetation.

I am entering the coolest week of my traveling career, and probably coolest I will ever have, because 50 miles from Teotihuacan is Mexico city, and then a 53 hundred meter mountain I want to climb just outside of the city right next to the smoking Volcan El Popo. Then I will go to the biggest pyramid in the world. Then a few km's down the road the third biggest mountain in north America at 56 hundred meters. Then all the other Mayan ruins after that.

Tomorrow I will hit the mountains for the first time in the trip. I am excited about that because so far I have been riding on the flats. I love to get stoned and ride, and then get really stoned half way through my ride again in the bushes and ride some more. I am into the rhythm now where I just ride like my legs are pistons that just gracefully go without me having to be constantly hammering or standing up and sitting down all the time because of crotch soreness. But I can stand up and sprint fast too, and go up the mountains at a good pace. The wind hasn't been against me but I think it may be with me on my way into the mountains. It's gonna be dope when I see the big 'ol winding road up the mountain and can say, ´yea, kick ass!´ and then proceed to kick ass as I cruise up the mountain with my tan legs glistening in the sun and slowly collecting dust until my buzz wears off. Then I go into the woods for part two, when my legs are warmed up and I really move along the road like a cowboy. I like this Trek bike I have, although these spokes I have are gonna start popping like corn as soon as I get to the mountains. But I am going really light so I feel like I am just on a pleasure cruise outside of my house.

Mexicans are cool, I feel like one of them. They don't blatantly stare and don't over react about me being a foreigner like waving and talking to me all the time like in Asia, and they are nice and try to communicate with me instead of getting grumpy angry like they do in France and Spain. I would consider Mexico a second world country. The peasants still live in thatch huts with limited electricity and running water, but they have cars and live lives very similar to us technology wise. Out of all the countries I have been to, it seems that mentally Mexico is the most similar to us; although I have only been here a little over a week. Hotels on average cost around 12 to 15 bucks a night, but the one I am staying in now is only 6.3 US dollars. They clean my room when I am gone when I stay more than one day. They took my can pipe. I gotsta watch it from now on.

The only worry I have now is if my bag a' weed lasts long enough to get me to Cancun or some cool town where I can get me more dope, cause at this stage in my life dope and biking might as well be the same word. I love this traveling stuff, in some ways I wish I didn't blow all my dads life insurance money when I had it. After I enroll in my Spanish class and live with a family in the town just north of Guatemala city for a month, I plan on riding to Panama city or San Jose Costa Rica, and flying to Ecuador. Then riding to the coast of Peru and teaching English there and making some more money. The longest left hand surf wave in the world is there 75 kilometers north of Trujillo. Over and out.

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Number 3

So´s I done gone to Mexico city. The ride up the digidy dog mountain was big just as I expected. It was flat from Poza Rica for a little bit, and then kaboom! straight the #%$!#$% up for an hour and a half. I rode near deep jungle gorges by big 'ol waterfalls and sawn vines on trees and all these trees growing off of sheer cliffs and whatnot. At the end of the climb I was at the same height of this mountain that I saw from the plains and remembered thinking to myself that mountain is as big to me as pikes peak is to Colorado Springs. But I thought, 'I betcha I'll go higher than that today', and I did cause I went down a little to a town and back up climbing, and down a couple of little descents until I done got hungry and stopped for food. But the dang place took a half hour to cook my fish a little. Then I did afternoon tokage, and went up again. This dude said 30 more km's of straight up, but is turned out to be more like 50 km's. Lucky for me pretty soon after I started riding up, this digidy rigidy came up on me all slow so I grabbed it and they hauled me up for like 45 minutes, and before I knew it I was amongst Pine trees and Aspens and grass and cool air. I was like, ´digidy dog´ I am in the Valle de Mexico.

It leveled off a bit and the dudes turned off and I waved goodbye and hammered up the last 30 km's to the town. At the beginning of the day I was at zero meters and at the end I was at 21 hundred meters and level with Mexico city, but my body was thrashed. I couldn't ride out of the saddle without my arms burning, because when I put my rack back on I put it high on the seat post and so when I rode out of the saddle it was like lifting weights. What happened a couple days beforehand was I was riding and I had just entered a town and was going slow up this climb and my rear wheel locked up and I looked back and discovered my rack cracked. So I took it and looked over and guess what I sawn, that's right, metal workers. So the dude said for fifteen bucks he would make me a new clamp portion of my rack in an hour. So in an hour I was on the road again; trippy huh? So anyway, I was getting excited cause now I was in a home-like climate and near the pyramids, city, and mountains. So I got up late the next day and rode to Teotihuacan and in two hours was there even though it was 50 km's away. I forgot how fast you can go when it ain't straight up. I pulled behind a truck for a while though.

I went over this hill, and saw this town with these two huge brown lumps in it and said 'yea, Teotihuacan', and went there and walked up the big one. It was cool and impressive but standing on it was far from geometrically even; no divine influence here like in Egypt. It was the 6th biggest city of its day is the 5th century. It is said to be situated on the northern slopes of the lake that existed 500 years ago. (Now it do think it was divinely influenced).

Then I rode the last 50 km's to the city, but by then we were in the suburbs of the city. I rode 25 km's, and then some guy led me what I thought to me the wrong way (I found out later he was telling the truth) for a bunch of kilometers because I went one direction a long way before turning around and going the other direction, because there is a big mountain to the north of the city that I couldn't figure out which way to go around. Then it rained so hard the six lane freeway turned into a river. Kids were holding on to poles to avoid being swept away, and cars were stopping. The buses were still gunning through it and me fighting, walking my bike against it. When I got to the top of the hill and rode down and through another river in the freeway. I held on to buses in the slow parts, and made it to the historic district just before sunset.

I had insomnia that night, but didn't mind cause I was reading the lonely planet book and the language book. Then at like 4, holy fuck! at 4 I had excruciating pain in my abdominal area, and then got the shits. In the morning I was so feverish I was having nightmares about leading Spanish armies to the annihilation of the Aztecs, and was freezing under my two blankies and sweating like a pig.

I went to the top of the tower anyway the next day and took pictures of the city. To the north I sawn hills close by, but the city is surrounded on most sides by big mountains. On the southwest side after maybe three km's, there was just a brown fog I took a picture of. The city is I think 2000 square kilometers. After the tower I bee-lined it home and went to bed for the rest of the day and didn't eat anything. That was two days ago.

Yesterday I went to the Aztec ruins of the pyramids and temples and saw the museum. This down town area is on the site of the island that was the Aztec capital of the big lake that they drained. Now all these buildings are tilting over from the bog, because back yonder the town beyond the pyramid-fortified capital island of maybe 7 km's in diameter was build up bogs of grass nailed to the lake floor that grew their food. These neighborhoods were built up around the various islands in the lake connected by floating bridges. The people lived on their little islands and got around on gridded causeways of water on boats. But they got waxed by the Spanish in 1521. In all the murals around town the Spanish look like devils with crooked noses, evil squinty eyes, and pointy chins as they stick guns in serene looking Aztec bellies.

Today I feel well enough to move around, but it is Sunday and I am in a Catholic country so everything's closed. I can't even go to the big ass park with the zoo because I have shorts on. So I will stay here tomorrow and hopefully will have the energy on Tuesday to make it up to the 14 thousand foot town at the base of the smoking volcano just 80 kms from here. Tomorrow I will get maps and advice about what clothes to buy for it. Last night I just watched Sex in the City, this jail movie, the Chris Rock show, and some other movies. I forgot how raunchy and vulgar HBO is. It is chill to toke it and drink big 'ol cheap beers and watch American cable in a nice hotel and then go out and explore this awesome city. The city has this huge boulevard from the historic part that goes straight for like 5 kms to this hill in the park. I couldn't go where the old palace was, but there are lots of huge palaces here. The guard actually yelled at me and was mad just cause I wanted to enter the park. Like I should have known on Sundays you don't do that, and that you can't lock your bike to any fences. Then I started to notice they are very somber here in this country; I attributed that to their poorness. But there are lots of rich people too. Their Denney's-like restaurants are just as expensive as they are at home, but the food stalls are cheap. I keep being a fool and going to the restaurants. You can save SO much money if you just stick to the mom and pop food places. I hope I remember to go there before I run out of money. So anyway, these volcanoes look like cones in the post card, so I think I can climb it. I hope I am well day after tomorrow, cause I am already jonesing for some altitude gain. There are a lot of French people here, which is interesting because they are nowhere to be found anywhere else in the world except France. I bet ya they'll be in America del Sur too.

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Recount

Mexico City is a very interesting city because of all the Aztec ruins scattered throughout the place. The central plaza is situated on the central plaza of the old Aztec capital, and the old Aztec pyramids are literally just across the street from the Cathedral about 30 feet away. I saw some other pyramids in another part of the city also. The layout of the avenue that goes straight from the plaza to the hill where the old governors palace is was quite artistic. From the porch of the palace you can look right down the avenue straight to the plaza. The city still has remains of the old canals from the Aztec days in the southern part of the city.

It took a while to get out of the city because it is so big and the traffic is so bad. I remember it took me forever to get onto the highway because there was a constant street of cars driving down the exit that I needed to cross. I arrived at the town at the base of the mountain in the afternoon. I rode up the road almost to timberline the next day but turned around I think because it was colder than I expected, so I bought some clothes in the market and climbed the mountain the next day.

The ride up to the mountain was beautiful. After I turned off onto the road that goes straight up the mountain the road got very steep and passed a little village. Then it entered a pine forest and winded up through the cold mist until I got above timberline and was surprised to see a little village. I looked over and saw El Popo there and it was tempting to climb but illegal and I didn't want to risk getting busted so I rode north up the road until I got to the base of the trail that goes up the mountain. I locked my bike to a post and hiked up the trail through thick fog. After a couple of hours I arrived to where the snow starts and hiked up to the top. When I got to the top I was impressed to see an old Japanese guy up there. The view from the top on this clear day beautiful. I could see the smog blanket of mexico city to the west and El Popo to the south that looked about as high as I was, and Puebla in the arid plains to the east with the third largest mountain in north America a little beyond. When I got back to where I locked my bike I discovered the lock had been cut and it was stolen. I deserved it though because I was stupid enough to have a cheap lock as I had lost my good lock a couple days beforehand. I had to hitch hike back to the town I was staying at. The Mexicans who drove me back told me that someone must have followed me up there and ripped me off because I was American.

The next day I took a bus back to the city and got a bus straight to Belize as I had lost my motivation to tour the Yukitan without my bike. I had some extra time so I took the metro to the University and walked around campus a bit. The campus was nicely situated at the base of some mountains and out of the reach of the fog. The metro in Mexico was interesting because there was a large underground labyrinth of narrow tunnels solidly lined with shops.

The bus ride to Puebla would have been a cool bike ride because the descent into the town at the base of the mountain was huge. The bus ride through the Yukitan was kind of boring because it was just straight roads lined by jungle. Every so often the bus was stopped and searched by soldiers. At the time there were problems with Yukitan separatists.

I got off the bus at a boarder town with Belize where I got a bus ride to Belize City.


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Belize

The bus dropped me off on a small boarder town on the boarder with Belize. I waited in the station for an hour or so and got a small school bus to Belize city. The bus ride was crazy because it was really chaotic. There were young school girls and boys getting on and off the bus at haphazard intervals, and everybody seemed to know each other. The bus was insanely crowded too, with people crawling all over each other to get on and off.

The Belizean countryside was pretty simple. There were trees around but we weren't in a jungle, although it probably was a jungle before it became inhabited with all of the villages that lined the cross country highway which was just a dirt road.

When we got to Belize city I hooked up with an Irish girl, and English girl, and another girl whose name I can't remember and I can't remember where she was from. Right next to the bus station there was a group of Belizean Mennonites. Those are some strange people because they seemed so out of place because they are lilly white blond haired people in the middle of black people. They were all there working loading up all of their furniture in trucks. The furniture looked nice and I heard they were renowned for their furniture making skills and that all they do is make furniture. The men had long beards and the women were dressed in old dutch dresses and they had their children with them.

We all got a dorm room in a nearby hotel, and went out for something to eat. Belize city at night made me feel like I was in Armageddon because old raggedy drunken old men with missing teeth showed up all over the place. One of them even yelled something at us like ''What are you looking at!? Get out of here I'll kill you", but we walked a little faster and he just stood there and yelled at us. There were no lights in the streets either and there were no shops of any kind open.

We were lucky enough to see some action though as a huge carnival-like parade popped up out of nowhere that we latched onto and danced through the city with all of the excited dancing Belizeans.

The next day got a small motor boat to Kaye Caulker 45 minutes away. Kaye Caulker is the smaller of the two major tourist islands off of the coast of Belize. The boat ride was cool because the water was light blue and we zipped in and around marshes and islands of all sizes. When we got to the island we stayed in a hotel on main street. I got a room with a guy from LA. Kay Caulker was cool because there were no cars, it was just a couple square blocks of dirt road, but had houses on it just like a normal neighborhood. It only had one main street that was lined with hotels and restaurants. There were some retired Americans there who had little sandwich shops and stuff who were just hanging out all day enjoying the most relaxed life you could imagine. The local people said it was illegal to run there and some guys even yelled at me for running at one point.

Our first day there we went on a boat tour to swim with the sharks that suck the mollusks out of their shells. These sharks were really tame because they were fed every day by the tour operators that take tourists there everyday, so we could grab their tails and pick them up out of the water. There were also stingrays swimming past and even bumping into us. We were about a half mile from the island where the barrier reef broke the waves from the sea, and we were snorkeling out there against the waves as the water went out again before the waves crashed again.

That night we went to Karaoke for my first time ever and I sang the Irene Cara song ''Fame'', but I don't think that was the right choice for me. I signed up to sing ''Pass the douchi from the left hand side'' but I went outside to get stoned with Sarah and when I came back someone else had already sung it.

The next day the guy who I was staying with suddenly got really horny and wanted to go chick prowling with me on the island, and he was flirting with all of the women on the island who the black women who worked there seemed to feel natural with.

The Belizeans there were super cool. They were really outgoing and talked really natural like you were their buddy. They were basically just like Rasta people from Jamaica. A lot of them had dreadlocks and they talked the same. I invited one guy who worked there to kayak to San Pedro with me which was about ten miles to the north. He would have been a good kayak partner because he got fourth place in the last years around the race with the tricycles they have there instead of cars. But he his boss signed him up for a last minute shift and he couldn't go.

But I got a kid from Seattle to go with me. It was a full moon so we left at sun down. The light of the moon was bright enough to clearly see all the formations on the sea bottom which was only about ten feet down the whole perfectly smooth way to Kaye San Pedro which took us about four hours to get to. When we got to the tip of San Pedro we just put our boat upside down on the beach between two closed down restaurants and hid our paddles and life jackets under it. We walked down the main street into the downtown area and got a meal in one of the central restaurants. San Pedro was clearly much more developed than Kaye Kaulker. Kaye Kaulker was just bamboo and cardboard houses, but San Pedro was full on apartment buildings, stone multi level hotels and Cars. It was a totally different scene and strengthened how cool and much more relaxing Kaye Kaulker was. After our meal we went back to the boat and paddled back. It was darker now and we could see a few different islands in the distance and decided correctly that Kaye Kaulker was the one with the light house shinning. I was cool to kayak through the perfectly still water in the middle of the night, but it was kind of erie not knowing what was below us. At one point he had to change because he was getting cold or something but he was afraid to get in the water. So he had to do some acrobatics in order to change without getting wet. When we arrived at the northern tip of the island we got out of the boat and did some midnight snorkeling with the snorkeling gear that I rented. There was a lot of phosphorescent grass on the sea bottom that when you touch it it lights up.

The next night I went to one of the local discos that was a little more out of the way from the main tourist strip. I was astonished to see that the whole disco was filled with black couples who were all doing the doggy-style dance where they dance as if they are having sex doggy style standing up. And that was basically the only dance they did, just the doggy style in various different ways. I felt kind of self conscious there because I was the only single person in the place. But later more tourists came and I felt more comfortable. But at one point I tried to do a break dance style move where you get down on your back and spin around and I accidentally kicked one tourist girls legs and made her fall right on her ass. I tried to apologize but she and her group here all freaked out like I did it on purpose or something. But one girl who wasn't in their group was totally cracking up. I'm glad I didn't knock any of the black people on their asses though because I heard two weeks beforehand one of them was shot to death right outside of the disco, and my buddy Glen got his tooth chipped in half from a local kid who elbowed him in the face in a soccer game there.

One day there we did some snorkeling on the beach on the north end of the island. The girl I was hanging out with were hanging out with some of the black locals on the island and because I had just recently left the states and had been listening to Art Bell radio a lot I was talking a lot about Aliens. They seemed interested but one guy got kind of emotional telling me it was all hogwash.

After about six days there I took the boat back to Belize city and got a bus to Guatemala. While I was sitting in the bus station I saw a bunch of Mennonites there waiting for a bus. I was tempted to talk to them but they seemed so weird because they weren't talking to anybody, seemed to be speaking another language, and looked in bread to me. I heard they are originally from Holland and went to Canada, but left about a hundred years ago because they didn't want to be attached to any kind of social system and could be more unattached and anonymous in Belize.

On the bus ride to Guatemala I noticed that most of Belize was jungle. The country was really undeveloped. The road that went to Guatemala was just a two lane dirt road that crossed a couple of small villages. I wasn't even on a proper bus, it doubled as the school bus for the local children and the bus for the locals to take small trips in. So it was always stopping to let people on and off it. For a little bit I was sitting next to a Belizean girl who lived in one of the small villages there and was a dentist. She said the best way to learn Spanish was to kiss a Spanish speaking girl to know how the tongue works.

I got of in the first town in Guatemala so I could do the Tikal tour the next day.

 

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Guatemala
Journal

This one here is part five and I am now in Guatemala living in a town called San Pedro on a lake called Atitlan. I got here a week and a half or two weeks ago. I have to take the boat across the lake to the other town to get money and do the email. The town I live in don't got no cars where I live my life, which is right there on the lake side.

After Belize I gone to Tikal the Mayan ruins and sawn the tallest pyramid in Latin America that was the rebel base in star wars. It just

poketh out of the canopy the top of it and the rest just overgrown with four foot wide oak trees man. Back in the day there weren't no trees there, but now there's trees every which way going right out of the pyramids. Nature in very resilient. I went to the meditation chamber in the temple next to the two central temples and sat down and got me these thunderous bolts of energy that made me very emotional and I could sit there for hours and not seem like hours, powerful place. This German dude in my tour group said pyramids expand energy from top to bottom. They did the sacrificing there, only there they sacrificed the winner of the ball game, not the loser.

Recount

I stayed for a night in the Guatemalan border town of Flores so I could go to Tikal the next day. The part of the town where I was in wasn't anything special because it was right on the dirty highway, but the historic part of the city was very interesting because it completely inhabited a small island with buildings. I walked down the causeway to the island with an Israeli kid who was staying at the same hotel I was and we walked around the island checking out the markets and the plazas and streets. It was very beautiful and touristy but too expensive for my tastes.

We got a bus from our hotel at about six the next morning for the 45 minute or drive to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. The drive was beautiful because we were in a jungle and the fog was still really even after we entered the park. We were with a group of about ten tourists and had a good guide give us a tour of the place for the day.

That night I went to Guatemala city and then straight to San Pedro. This one town called Solola I was walking around in before I got there was in the middle of this yearly independence celebration or something and there were thousands of dressed up schools kids marching around. I was struck with all the Guatemalan clothes being worn by all the locals. I'm sure you all know what I am speaking

of, very colorful garb from head to toe on every man, woman and child; or most anyway. They were the best dressers of anywhere. It kind of reminded me of Tibet, and there faces also do, and china. I tell you it's just plain silliness to say the china people didn't colonize this here place back yonder sometime after you looked at some of these Mayans.

When I got at san Pedro I saw this American dude who said for fifty bucks he would instruct me about the craft of speaking the Spanish language for 4 hours a day for five days. He was a good teacher. When I originally got here I was like, 'I will got to school for a long time', but after after, I was more like, 'fuck school, I know enough, all I need to know now are the darn words', so I study the words from now on, and maybe school in a couple months. There are a lot of interesting characters here as usual. My teacher is very cynical about this country, in between drillings he would go off on these weird theories and stories, which lots of ex-pats do (an ex-pat is someone who has lived in another country for a long time), the type of people who come to third world countries for long periods of time come here because they don't really fit in back home. like they don't like to work, or at least that competitive stressy work we are used to back home. But they are still ingrained with the mores of the first world, so they get pissed off at the laziness and silliness of the locals, and sometimes get cynical and talk trash to all there ex-pat buddies about the country they live in. My Spanish teacher told me that during the civil war here the government killed off all the smart people which added to the inbreeding that naturally happens to village people. These locals are pretty primitive, but they seem smart enough to me. The women smile at you

and say hi, which is more than can be said of some other third world countries I have seen in Morroco and Asia where they are really shy. Here its the women who bother you to buy banana bread, not the men. Actually they aren't women, they are little bitty girlies. They're cute, they ask me my name and I say 'perrrrrrrro loco'. My teacher is moving back to the states in a couple days and a took his house from him. So now I have a house with two bedrooms, a big 'ol flat ceiling, a nice front yard with a half dozen different kinds of trees and green grass, and cable and a stove and toasters and blenders and furniture, and all that for only 66 bucks a month for the whole house. I heard this cool Colorado kid is coming back pretty soon and is bringing his TV, so I will let him and his TV move in so i can watch my MTV 2, which is better that American MTV because its all videos and no stupid game shows (I never got a TV). Ever since I got here I have been sick. I smoked dope the other week and almost died

of an asthma attack. I was walking in circles at two in the morning asking Jesus of Nazareth our savior from the evil dark forces for the sparing of my life, and luckily for me the great one was kind enough to grant me a third chance. But that's all right cause there's boomers (mushrooms) here. I heard every week Mayan women from the south come by the house bringing big 'ol bags of it. Plus the Beer and Margaritas and stuff are cheap. Two bucks for a liter at the bar were all us ex-pats and travelers hang out, we see a movie every night at seven and a half. Everyone here are cocaine heads, its all right, only thirteen bucks for a gram, which would cost a hundred bucks back home. So most of us stay here because of that drug (not me). Its a cool feeling having a numb face and being all awake, and if you do a lot you get all motor mouthy. But you can get grumpy coming down. Plus it kills your appetite, I couldn't even force the food down. This one guy went down four belt notches here. All these ex-pats are broke though, this one French dealer was all freaked out because he didn't have the doe to pay the gangsters from the city back so I gave him 90 bucks to save his teeth from getting knocked out, then this other kid borrowed a hundred and twenty bucks from me and also sold me his digital camera for a hundred bucks. Then this other skinny ass junky borrowed three bucks from me last night. Then today this Belizean dude wanted a bite of my fruit salad, but started eating all of it. I quickly got a reputation for loaning money out to losers, and one day one of the bartenders at Geno's came buy my house to stop it because I would never be paid back and all the travelers here are dirt bags. I had never loaned money out before and not been paid back, so I felt like I just needed to cross that bridge and learn from experience. It's weird just hanging out with the same people in the same bar all the time. I teach them Pente the board game, but now I play it too much. I am the only one studying Spanish, they either already know it or don't bother learning it. So I will hang at my house and memorize it all real good there and be fluent when I leave which may be as long as six months. I don't know, there is this place across the lake where they all dress in white robes and talk to the Pleiadians and live in pyramid shaped huts, this one guy charges like ten thousand bucks to take men into the jungle and strip down to their underwear and bang on drums and cry together. I haven't been there yet, I just heard, I will though, I like the Plaiedians. I'm all hung over now from the cheap beer, I think I must have Vodka orange juice from now on. Anyway, section six will be in a month or so because like I said before there ain´t no email, or cars or international banks were I live, so party on and wish me luck getting my dinero back from the white stuff lovers. peace out.

Part 7

well, I ain't going to any new places this part of my life so the stuff to report on must therefore be the weird ass scene that I have become part of. Firstly though I am proud to say that I am done with my house. It took many a long time to fix it up, two weeks, cause my Spanish teacher and his buddy stayed there two weeks longer than they said they would because he never got his money from his mom in the mail. They are the biggest slobs ever and left the house in a shambles. And then when he got the money and wanted to get his passport (which was lost a couple years ago) they didn't think he was American cause he is half Korean, and he didn't have any records back home so he was thinking of sneaking back across the boarder, but then his mom found some ID. After I finally cleaned the place up I made a bitching gym on my roof, complete with the sit up inclined padded bench, the back up bench, the bench press bench, the curl bench, and the inclined military press padded seat, a 150 pound barbell, a 100 pound barbell, and three sets of dumbbells; all out of cement. Its pretty dope, and in my spare bedroom I done gone went and made a massage room and put up a sign and flyers. I only charge like ten bucks for an hour and a half massage but I don't know if I will get any business because people come here for the cheap drugs. They probably think I am a coke head trying to get laid or something. But I give free massages to the workers of the bar restaurant I hang out at in place of a tip. Today I will by me a new bike with V brakes, 21 speeds and double racks for 115 bucks. It weighs like 50 pounds, but you get used to that. Then I want to buy a boat, they paddle them standing up here. When I get into my routine, I tell you, I will be living like a king. I will send pictures on the net soon and all of yall will see what a dank ass place this is. But the funny thing is, nobody seems to appreciate the beauty of this place, because they are too busy appreciating the drugs. I don't understand cocaine, the couple of times I have done it, I sit around trying to figure out if I am high or not. But some of these people NEED the shit. There is this one kid from Canada who has been here for years who looks like a holocaust victim, he says he don't got no money so he eats a little bowl of rice a day and spends the rest of the day walking ten feet in the bar and then standing there for 5 minutes, and then walking to the chair and sitting down for a half hour and then walking off to the next place where there are people to do the same thing over again. You see, people come here because they don't like to work, and here you don't have to work and you still fit in. One time that Canadian kid wanted to freebase (make coke into nuggets and smoke it up) with me, and borrow the money for it. So I did it cause I had never done it. We got high, it was cool, but after 5 minutes we came down and then he's like, 'lets get more, please'. So he talked me into getting more two more times and the second time he was begging me and has this pathetic puppy dog desperate look in his eye. I had compassion (or pity or stupidity) and gave him five bucks and was like, 'I'm leaving but enjoy, you owe me'. Then a couple days later he was following me all the way home begging me for more money like he was about to die and I was the only person in the world who could help him. Now every time I see him I'm all, "Where's my money man, you said you would pay be back the next day", and he's all, "I'm broke man, I just eat rice, but I'll pay you back". There's an American girl here who leaned on a wall then gave way and fell 60 feet off a building through four roofs and landed in a basement next to a bed where all these people were doing crack, and one of them worked in the embassy and took the initiative to call her rich uncle and tell him she fell cause she was on crack. Their house is even bigger than mine, three bedrooms, and a huge ass living room, and they pay the same as me, 66 bucks a month. The bar I hang out at is cool, its right on the shoreline of the lake. English people work there, but there is one Mayan girl who works there and they just found out she is a snitch, which explains a lot, because the cops barge in and searched the local coke dealer, but lucky for him he had it stashed in his dreads at the time or he would have been fucked. Another time I was smoking a joint with some Americans on the porch and 20 minutes later the cops came and went right to the porch and searched everyone there. But that Mayan girl doesn't work there at night anymore.

One word of warning: If you have asthma, whatever you do, don't smoke coke. Cause last week when my two best buddies here were leaving, they wanted to go out with a bang of sorts and sniff coke all night before there bus leaves at five in the morning; they wanted to leave in the morning cause people get stuck here and they figured they wouldn't be able to leave unless they just blazed at night without telling anyone, my other buddy did that too, but he left owing me 120 bucks, but i could probably get his email, but anyway, they left me with some extra coke and so I sprinkled it on my bowl all day and smoked it. But you see, coke is a serious ass producer of mucus, so the next day my nose was constantly dripping snot and I had a rock in my face for two days, and it went to my lungs and I was fighting for my life for two or three days. I had to do two different kinds of asthma inhalers and two different kinds of asthma pills. But I pulled through, and now I have decided to quit weed too, cause I have been sick since i have been here and am ready to be healthy.

So I am rolling the rest of the weed I have left into a joint that is like ten inches long and two inches in diameter. I am using two packets of extra sized rolling papers just to make this one joint. I will smoke it up on the Halloween party on Tuesday, and never ever smoker never ever ever again, ever ever. And be healthy god dammit.

The rich girl also said that the Mayans told her that giants live in the volcano behind us and aliens live in the volcano next door, and she saw a ship fly out of the top of it once. So I want to camp out up there and find the hole or something. Anyway, I am leaving on February 20 and going off yonder, and the next email I do will be about all the cool kayaking I am doing and mountain biking accompanied with pictures man, I am excited.

One sad thing that happened here the other week was a bus from my town crashed head on into another bus from the next town and 23 people died from this town and 19 people from the other town. I was tripping on the day they had the memorial service, with all the people and women wailing up on the hill near me, and right then in the middle of the wailing there was an earthquake. The first earthquake I had ever felt. Then these rocks get broken off the bottom of the lake and float to the top, can you believe that? Floating rocks! A heard they cost ten bucks a piece back home but there are every were here after earthquakes, people use them to wash with.

I also want to teach tie massage at the new age place across the lake in return for some Spanish classes, but learning my Spanish in the most important, but you can quote me on this, I will talk Spanish real good when I leave here in February. Party on.

Part eight, The sober chapter.

I am no longer a stoner, but now a sober. It has been like three weeks or a month since I smoked weed. And I am sure it will be evident in my writing style, because I am no longer cracking up (laughing) inside anymore, but being serious and old man like. The lungs are under control, but I still have to overdose on the inhalers which make me shake all the time. It is because these houses like the one I live in are from concrete and the toxic cement is always falling off and getting into the air, or maybe weird plants, which there are, because I am always sneezing (I found out later it was from the Coffee field next door). But nevertheless, I am still managing to learn my Spanish, which is the number one priority, the number two priority is to learn to dive from the 30 foot cliffs here, but I haven't had the time for that yet. The weirdest thing about being here is that time is going by very very very very slowly. One week feels like one month and a month is a lifetime ago, people come and go, and my mind goes here and there and that sort of thing. It's really weird, but cool, because that means I can stay young longer, and there is more bang for the buck.

Since the last time I wrote I bought a local two man kayak for 110 bucks that I talked about before that you can paddle standing up. I paddled it seven miles to the other side of the lake and back one day. They are really slow because they are flat on the bottom, but they're cool. This lake is so deep and windy the waves are like 2 and three feet high in the middle, but as soon as the sun goes down the wind stops and it is like paddling on glass. I have canoed to the other side of the lake (the near other side, only 3 kilometers away) to the hippy place twice to do the cliff jumping. One time after the bar closed, this kid wanted to kayak to these ruins like 4 or 5 km's along the shore near the next town for arrowhead hunting. I took advantage of his enthusiasm and slept for an hour in the boat as he paddled, because the bottom is flat. Then we went to the top of this little mini volcano the hard way, climbing up this 30 foot high sheer cliff and machetying through five foot high grass. At one point while I was doing this, he's all, "watch out, the cliffs right there". I was right next to the cliff and didn´t even know it because of all this grass. We bushwhacked through this man high grass until we made it to the top. He was barefoot which I thought was impressive. From the top there was a beautiful view. All of these little hills here are toped with rocks to stand on. There were no pyramids or anything, just foundations. We were bummed and walking back, and then we looked down right on the trail and noticed that all of the rocks were actually pottery shards. Then he found an arrow head, and then I found one, and in forty minutes we had like 20 each on our way walking back on the trail. When we were canoeing back we noticed these amazing cliffs coming out of the lake.

For the last few weeks I have just been studying Spanish all day. I know all the conjugations, and have like a 2500 word vocabulary, and am about to memorize all the irregular verbs. I just can't speak very well cause I don't have to, but I am building a good base so I am sure I will be Mr. fluent by the time I get to Santiago Chile. There are different levels of fluency though, I am on level one, where I can get my point across whatever it may be, and I can understand whatever someone is telling be, but it is slow going. Then there is level two fluency where you can speak fast and correctly and understand most people, and you can even dream in Spanish. i think i will be there when i am in Chile, and then there is level three fluency, which is when you can understand anyone who speaks Spanish, which is a place that i know i will never be. hell, sometimes I can't even understand my English friends when we are all drunk and they are talking fast to each other, it is like they are speaking another language. I actually get off on learning Spanish, it is like playing checkers with yourself. I like it so much that i plan on going to Taiwan and learning Chinese after this Latin America thing. this place is cool to learn Spanish because for one, its cheap cheap cheap, and for two, I its pretty, for three, there's cool people, just ignore the wasteoids and they don't bother you that much. that one kid finally paid me back, not in money because when he gets it he buys coke, but in weed, which i sold. the dealer is only like 20 bucks away from paying me back, and he will. what you have to do if you want to be paid back from an unreliable person and be their buddy, but bug them every time you see them, and they will eventually pay you back. we had this cool Halloween party last month, were all these French DJs who brought all their huge speakers and mix tables and scratch boards and lasers from home entertained everyone all night on top of this hill in this town, i had to go home though because this foot long joint i made took like two hours to die and knocked me on my ass and all these people wanting to pee kept falling over me. there is another one on the beach next week, and then this space buffet (eat the weed buffet) on Christmas and then new years and some more in between. it is cool i am getting all my partying out of the way now so all i want to do in Santiago is work and make money. speaking of partying, I sure don't smoke weed any more and will never again, but you got's to do the coke on these all-nighters, it gives you energy to dance and it is only like a buck a line. I don't like to communicate with anyone when i am on it though, you get kind of paranoid on it, not the same kind of paranoid as with weed, on weed you are timid paranoid, you don't want to say the wrong thing and piss someone off, on coke you are pissed off paranoid, where its the other guy who is always saying the wrong thing and pissing you off, a am only not paranoid on it when i am drunk off my ass. and then the two drugs are made for each other. but to tell the truth, the strongest drug that made me bounce off the walls and get in peoples faces and chat up every one the most of them all is this drug my mom gives me called Dexedrine, this Canadian kid said they do it as his high school, and we took eight times the recommended dosage and it made coke feel like a cup of coffee. anyway, enough with the drug talk, that stuff is bad, it makes people violent, there is this young English dude who lives in the hotel next door and comes by my house and cooks all my meals for me in exchange for me allowing to cook for himself also, so save money, if you cook your own food here, oh my god, it is sooo cheap! a meal is like 25 cents, no joke, no wonder you get these people who come with a 1000 bucks and expect to party for six months, and they do it too. i don´t because i eat out a lot and a eat a lot. but anyway this kid was head butted my this crack head and got a black eye, so he picked up a brick and smashed his face open, and hid a my house for a day. but that guy was run out of town or something later on. as far as the socializing with the locals is going, i was hanging out with these 10 year old banana bread selling girls, they came buy every day and lifted weights with me and did my laundry and cooked for we and talked and stuff, but then they sold me an orange with a slice in it and so i want a free one, but she says she didn't do it, so I said get lost. i think it kind of hurt their feelings but the way you treat these third world kids is double faceted i think, because they are untamed and will go overboard if you let them. they are much more mature on one side, because they fend for themselves by working from a young age and taking care of their baby siblings when the parents are in the fields or what not, but on the other side the ones who hand out with the tourists tend to go overboard sometimes, and the only way to show them when they are out of order is to put your foot down. like there are these little kids who play outside my front yard flying kites and screaming and beating each other up and setting off grenades every two seconds that their parents buy them and they were always afraid to come in my yard, and one day they did, a gang of like ten of them from 3 to 9 or so. and i thought that was cute and let them because i have a nice yard, nicer than the gross alley they play in, but then my neighbor who is my landlord came by and said they aren't allowed in my yard because they are too loud for him and they will steal from me and i was like ok too bad. and the next day they woke me up by playing in my front yard, they ripped my bamboo fence apart and were playing sword fighting with them and i told them to give me my fence back and they all ran home and i chased after them to their houses and took it back and told their parents, who just blamed the other kids. but they don´t come in any more. the point of the story is that it is good to be friends with the kids and give them gifts and be Mr. nice guy, but when they turn into little devils you should make it clear to them what the correct way to act is. too many tourists just write them off and get grumpy and ignore them, with isn't good. this local dude is lifting at my gym now, but he doesn't know that good of Spanish, and I lift with my English friend, but not that much, I am in Spanish mode now. weight till you see the pictures, they will blow you away. no wonder the people here are so happy, they say Buenos noches in this sing song voice and are always laughing. people back home think these people are in survival mode, but i think they are in camping out vacation, saved from all the bullshit stress of the civilized world mode. I'm sure the city is different. but people from the city seem pretty laid back also. the last week I am here I think I will go to the new-ager place across the lake, there is this big rivalry between here and there, San Pedroans (which is where i live) think the San Marcoans (across the lake where the cliffs are) are crazy loopy holier than thow's, and they think san Pedroans are all crack heads and drunken violent degenerates, i think both these places have a pretty wide spread reputation. I go to San Marcos to the massage exchange, this couple who does massage wants to exchange with me after i gave the guy a massage. i haven´t given a massage here more money yet and i ask way less that they do in San Marcos, and the masseurs in San Marcos are always booked and I heard this one lady wasn't even that good. it just goes to show how tourists go to certain places for certain things, and then go to other places for other things, and don´t like to mix their activities in one place so to speak. oh well, sorry for not having pictures, but i assure you, the next one will have nothing but pictures and no words and it will be the best explaining one yet, this place is groovy. until next month or whenever, wish me luck finding someone to show me how to use this here digital camera, no just kidding i know a guy, he is just in the city now. later. number 9 yea so I broke free from San Pedro. But a lot happened since the last time I rode one of these. like i went to Honduras with my friend Stasia and saw Copan the ancient Mayan ruins in northern Honduras. they were cool, big 'ol pyramids connected to one another next to a river. since their hay day the river meandered into the ruins and made some temples fall off, making the biggest archeological cliff in the world. the other interesting thing about Copan is the huge size of the open areas of grass that were perfectly flat, with these eight foot tall statutes of men with really long straight beards. i think those were the aliens who came down and started a school here, because the whole place was a series of flat plazas surrounded by steps for people to observe presentations and performances and things, all of different sizes, and they had one ball court. and the tunnels that went for the observation the games were the perfect size for those big statues. but don't worry, I won't think ye aint weird if ye don't believe me. the place we stayed was expensive but we had a TV, so subtitles in English though. the Hondurans were nice enough but the guy driving us back in the mini van to Antigua was a jerk, the border people forgot to stamp my passport and I needed to get it re-stamped to not have to go to the city and weight a week there, and it was only going to take like two minutes, but he didn't want to let me so i ran out and did it and so he was going to leave me there, and started driving with one lady half way out of the car and this other guy trying to explain to him it was only a couple of minutes and they all wanted to weight, so the guy got all mad and in his face and said i wasn't his brother so what did he care. then the people said they wanted to go the city but he said it was too dangerous, but they said they had friends there, and he said so what, he did too, but he eventually agreed to do his job and take them there. so i guess you got to watch out for the bus drivers in any country you are in except for Austin Texas, they are really nice there, anyway. after that i climbed this big 'ol volcano 3500 meters high the 7th highest in the country, volcano Atitlan, with these two dudes, taking my canoe out at 230 in the morning 5 kilometers to the next town Santiago, and set off climbing, I was frying in the alpenglow was most beautiful as the sun was rising, and as we got higher we could see all the areas of non forest, just six foot tall prickle grass that we machetied through, and figured that was their old farming ground, and after they exhausted the soil they moved somewhere else. we bush whacked all the way to the top, almost anyway, the last kilometer or mile or so was scree, but at the top the whole mountain was steaming all over and the earth was warm, you could spend the night here naked and stay warm. then we saw the volcano fuego blow steam a thousand feet into the air next door which is right next to Antigua, it was right next door, but a three hour bus ride, because these roads are so narrow and they stop so much to let people on and off. we slept there for an hour and then hiked down at two, but we didn't remember where the trial we blazed up was so we had to blaze another trail down, which took many hours, then it got dark and we got funneled into a canyon where all the huge ten foot tall grass was, and soon it was lined by cliffs, so we had to go down the bottom of it. but the grass was so high we had to either swim on top of it until we got to the flood stop ups of wood and dead grass and dirt that we had to spelunk down under the logs through holes barley big enough for us. then i realized i left my backpack at the last rest place, and had to spelunk 20 minutes back up to get it and down again, then we got to a cliff, but we couldn't see the bottom of it, I though about jumping and hoping it wasn't that far, but then my light and my buddy glen's light died at the exact same time so we were in pitch black, so we made a fire, and laid next to it all night, and it was supper cold because we only had our shorts and jackets on, but the fire made it alright, in the morning we hiked for an hour and found a trail and three hours after got back to town and boated back, me, glen from BC, and Gregor from Slovenia. so next time you climb a jungle mountain remember to stay on the ridges at all costs, and remember exactly where your trail up was, so you don't have to bush blaze twice, and be careful were you step because cliffs can appear out of nowhere in all that grass, and go in long pants because my legs were raw after that. after that it was party season, i missed this full moon party they had on the beach cause i was in Antigua, which sounded like fun cause every body was whacked out of their minds on all sorts of stuff. that is San Pedro for you, drug lovers. like 18 year old Curtis from Canada who i did the other trail blazing trip with who had counted the 130 hits of LSD he did, and said he made 20000 bucks selling ecstasy at a party, but gave it all away to charity the next day, and 18 year old john who's dad imported coke from brazil and bought a castle in Scotland and in London from it, or bud who i loaned 70 bucks to so he wouldn't get his ass kicked by the drug gangsters, which he paid me back, but then i gave him 50 more bucks to get me heroin, but he was got for two weeks and when he came back didn't remember me giving it to him or even where my house was. or my Vietnam vet friend who was flying over Costa Rica in a helicopter and had a flash back and jumped out and ran through the jungle for nine hours running away from the gooks. he was cool, got his 2700 bucks a month from the government and spent it on beers entertaining his friends. i hung out with the Deno's crowd, who liked drugs but also had there shit together. i have to say the best thing about that place was the movies every night. i didn't speak any Spanish, but i studied a lot, and am confident i will be fluent a month or so after i travel by my self. party season was cool enough, on the 23 the drug dealer and some friend of mine came over and we smoked crack and sniffed coke until six in the morning, and right when the sun was rising we went up on my roof to my gym and were working out, and nick, the rich local Mayan dude, who is my neighbor, came out and was laughing at us. then there was the French DJ party on the 24, and the Christmas space buffet, i was greedy and hogged all the gravy thinking it wasn't strong enough, but got all comatose and had to go to bed, which is too bad cause they played Austin powers two that night. then the new years thing until sunrise was cool, they had all these new drinks, and i had all of them and probably would have puked if i didn't have a big 'ol line. then after that i finally went to Spanish school for five days. my teacher was only 20 years old and didn't speak a word of English, and i don't even think her Spanish was too good because i had to show her all these conjugations and rules and stuff. but it was the first time I actually sat down and talked Spanish with someone, and found out that i am fluent, I just need practice accessing all the conjugational stuff and putting it right, and she was good at that, correcting me and stuff. she is a full blood mayan girl complete with the colorful outfit and all that like all the women here have, but when I started getting philosophical with here she had the same attitude as your stereotypical fundamentalist Christian. saying spirit channelers are all of the devil and witches and all that, and that Santiago the next town over is were all of them are. and she was preaching about Jesus and how they all go to church at five in the morning every Sunday. this country pretty much shuts down completely on Sundays because of church, there are 13 churches in San Pedro alone and my book says it only has six thousand people in it, it has Jehovah's witnesses, and the catholic church is the biggest. i thought that was strange cause the Indians back home are so anti establishment and pro "our way, the every thing is alive spirit way" time thing. that is one reason i am excited to learn Spanish. I will talk up the wazoo with them Incans, cause I will be by myself and double fluent in Spanish then I tell ya. there was this big 'ol annual rainbow gathering there that week but I was too busy to check it out, I saw all the dared-locked hippies all over though. after class, I climbed the highest mountain in central America with Glen and my friend Eric from Sweden. 13,800 feet high. that was a cake walk cause the bus took us way up there and the hike was through open fields and pine forests like back home, none of this jungle stuff. it was beautiful, we could see the second highest mountain in central America right across from us sticking out of this eternal and quiet thick cloud blanket. then we went home and the next day i sold my boat for 40 bucks and all the contents in my house for 30 bucks and blazed with my buddy mat from northern England and Glen from BC. and partied in Panajachel, the big tourist town across the lake for three days. where they got themselves some local girlfriends and made me take care of their fat sister who had no personality and kept giving me these faces like my Spanish was bad, but she taught me how do dance salsa, which seemed to me at the time like the simplest easiest kind of dancing around, you just step around and follow the steps of your partner, and that's it, but plus these girls kept correcting our Spanish which was great, like we were in school, if i can find people like that to hang out with i will be talking like a local in just a few months. after that they invited me to travel with them down to Monte Rico, the beach resort on the pacific coast. very beautiful this place is, wide dark sandy beaches stretching as far as you can see, and cabanas also, but only four tourist hotels on the whole stretch, quiet undeveloped and ready to blow, if they pick up the trash they keep throwing down. it is fun traveling with other people, i have never traveled with other people before, I have pretty much totally lost my ability to speak Spanish though, since speaking English with them so much. one thing i forgot to mention is that when we were in Panajachel we felt that big earthquake that happened off the coast of El Salvador that killed 350 people and made 3000 go missing, it was a 7.9, at like 10 in the morning i was sleeping and was woken up by my bed shaking violently, i thought my buddy was shaking it and looked up and we were all in our beds looking at each other like "wow", that lasted like a minute. we were about a hundred miles off the epicenter. yesterday we arrived in el Salvador. this place is different than Guatemala in that the people are more Spanish looking and less Mayan looking, and they all try to speak English to me. plus when i go to the bank they give me dollars, because a couple of weeks ago they decided to switch from Colonas to dollars, so every business I go to I have the option of paying in dollars and getting my change in Colonas, so they are always doing these mathematical calculations with these conversation charts figuring out the exchanges rate. i tell you what, it sure feels like i am not spending much money when i pay in dollars. like now i am in the second largest city in El Salvador, Santa Ana, and I give the hotel three dollars, and a get all these colonas change from it. so i am still with these two guys, it costs double to take by bike on the bus, but the last bus didn't charge me, so maybe not all of them will. it definitely is different worlds traveling with other people, always hanging out together and whatnot. after this we will go to a lake and then surfing in La Libertad, I guess the best surf spot in Central America. then Honduras. mat (who used to work at Deno's, the place i hung out in San Pedro) is going the same route and pace as me, so we may stick together a while, if it isn't too much for the bike. one cool thing about traveling with these guys is they really take their time in each country and place, and i usually zip through places, so it is teaching me to be patient, but then again, I wanted to take my time in south America and climb those mountains. i plan on flying to this island in panama from the city for 27 bucks and then sailing to Cartagena Columbia for 185 bucks and taking the bus to Bogotá, and then the bus to Ecuador. i haven't seen one other tourist here in this city which is weird, cause you seen many of them all over usually. I guess tourist don't really like El Salvador, maybe that is why the locals are so outgoing and eager to practice their English. anyway, that's about it. the next chapter will probably be when i am at last on the road by myself intermingling with the locals.

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El Salvador

At the boarder Glen and I had to pay a fifteen dollar tax but Matt didn't. We had to have a bus transfer to get to Santa Ana. The final bus ride was beautiful as it went up and over a big jungle pass. Santa Ana is a nice colonial city with the ruin of an earthquake destroyed church on one of the two central plazas. After spending a day here I broke off with Glen and Matt because I felt like bike touring so I rode to San Salvador and they climbed a couple of volcano's. I spent a day exploring San Salvador. It is a pretty big city with no modern skyline that is built on a slope in a large valley. It was kind of boring because there was nothing special to see. There were American flags all over the place and a lot of the people I met told me they had relatives in America. El Salvador had some political problems in the 80 like most of the countries in central America and the states let a bunch of El Salvadorians take refuge. I rode down to the beach to see if I could do some surfing but the waves weren't good. I had a really interesting hotel room in that town of La Libertad. I don't know what my room was originally, maybe a big water tank, but my room was up on a tower up above the building, and one of the highest buildings, and it had windows on every side, so I had a 360 degree view of the whole town.

The next day I spent walking around the market and checking out the beaches. Then I took the bus back to San Salvador.

The next day I rode my bike up a steep dirt road to the boarder with Honduras, but they didn't let me in because my passport photo was completely smudged away from the moisture under my stairs where it was kept in Guatemala, so I had to take the bus back. I noticed on that ride that most of El Salvador is deforested so it is kind of ugly. They do have their share of volcanoes and lakes though. That night I went to the hotel next door to get a beer and asked the people there if they had seen Glen and Matt, and they happened to be there, so I hung out with them which was cool.

The next day I went to the Embassy to get another passport, and the American woman who attended me kept telling me I should have taken care of the passport. I kept explaining to her that they shouldn't have given me an unlamented photo, but she seem to be listening. She asked me when I wanted my new one and I said immediately and so I got another one in about an hour, but I had to pay 60 bucks, luckily with a lamented photo. The next day I took the bus into Honduras.

 

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Honduras

The second time I attempted to enter Honduras was the successful one. I took the bus down some beautiful jungle mountain roads. Bus left me off at the first town so I could ride across the rest of the country. I stayed in a town called Nueva Octopeque. The town reminded me of the towns I saw in Spain and Portugal where they are all small and peaceful with almost no cars and narrow ancient cobble stone roads, and white connected buildings. I stayed one night there. I happened to have a TV in my room and that night the super bowl was happening so I got to watch it. One team trounced the other one, I don't remember. It was the 2001 Super bowl. The next day I opted to take the bus to the next town. I think the second biggest town in Honduras called San Pedro Sula where I stayed for a night. On the bus ride I was talking to a guy but I don't remember what it was about. The city is in a valley on the east side of the mountains, I know this because I remember descending the hills in the bus while I was talking to the guy. I got a hotel about ten blocks from the short pedestrian mall marking the center of the town. There were some friendly looking young Honduran girls working the desk but I got hypnotized by my TV watching an American TV show. I remember in those days I used to be transfixed by American TV and addicted to Movies when I was traveling. I spent a day there when I rode my bike down to the center. While I was locking up my bike one black girl approached me and asked me

 
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Nicaragua

I had to stand in a long line to cross the border into Nicaragua. I could tell immediately that this was a poor country because of the dismal state of the buses. We drove through a temperate area and past a fascinating looking huge bare brown cone volcano and into Managua.

Managua is an interesting place because it has a historic city center right on the shore of a huge lake that is totally dilapidated. In 72 there was an earthquake that killed 10,000 people and destroyed the center. But when international donations came the dictator, Samoza stole all of it so they never rebuilt it. So today there are plazas, parks, churches, and government buildings that are broken apart and abandoned. There weren't any other businesses there either, just drunks sitting around. I stayed in a house-hotel in a peaceful little neighborhood not too far away and saw a movie at the local indoor mall. I went to an internet place next to the stadium where they play their national sport, football, and was talking to an African guy who was there on vacation.

I had to do something, I don't remember what it was, but I had to ride to another part of the city and noticed that apart from the traditional center which was abandoned, there was no city center. Just roads leading through fields to the various businesses that a city has. On the ride back I checked out the lake that was near the historic center. It was a perfectly round natural lake surrounded by cliffs. It looked like a comet had comes and punched a hole in to the earth that then filled up with water.

The ride to Granada was nice because there wasn't too much traffic. I stopped off for a tour of a pretty colonial town on the way called Malasia. It had cobble stoned streets and some nice outdoor cafes. Granada was beautiful because of the colonial buildings and friendly feel. It seemed to me as an aspiring tourist town. I stayed in a hotel with a lot of other tourists in it. I rode along the nice sandy beach lining Lake Nicaragua which I couldn't see the other side of. I could see the giant volcano in the middle of it off in the distance.

Granada has a cool history. It was one of the major colonial towns back in the day because the Spanish could take their ships all the way up the river into the lake and park them on the shores of Granada, so it was like a coastal city.

The boat ride to the island was exciting because the waves were really high and it was at night. There was a mentally ill Nicaraguan woman in there who was screaming nonsense in a very suffering voice at the top of her lungs for the entire multi hour journey, but nobody paid attention to her. On that boat I was talking to a German girl named Silka and her Argentineans friends.

The island in the middle of the lake was very primitive. The main city a couple kilometers inland was connected by an unkempt dirt road, and had just dirt roads. The plaza was surrounded by just tiny stores and was very slow. I stayed in a nice little hotel where I met a German kid and a guide who worked at the hotel who took us up the volcano the next day. The guide was a native of the island and was into Tai Kwan do and had traveled around a little bit going to competitions. We got up at like five and walked up the trail through a beautiful jungle trail through some trees with huge leafs. The guide was funny because he was practicing his punches as we were hiking. We dropped the guide and got to the top of the volcano in a cloud were we couldn't see more than a few feet which bummed me because the view would have been awesome. It was also incredibly windy. The guide said it was always like that. For a little bit I could see south to the next volcano which was a little shorter. I wish I had climbed that one too because it has a lake on the top of it, which sounds really mystical. I could see how the two islands were together and remembered how the book said that they were two separate islands when the Spanish arrived but an eruption from the southern volcano caused them to grow together a couple hundred years ago.

The next day I took a boat to the south western part of the lake where the river that the Spanish took lets out into the Gulf of Mexico and got stamped out of Nicaragua for the boat ride down another little river to Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica

I got stamped out of Nicaragua and then tried to get on the boat but it was too full to accommodate my bike so I had to weight for the next boat that was a couple hours later. As I was leaving the shed where they stamp people in and out the boarder agent asked me why I hadn't left on the boat and I told him I would have to weight for the next boat and I wanted to roam around the town until then. He told me it was illegal to let me out of the building and back into Nicaragua once I had been stamped out so he told me not to go anywhere and let me out. When the next boat came it was just like the one before. A small long and narrow tour boat powered by a small outboard motor, but they let me put my bike on the roof.

My introduction to Costa Rica was very interesting because it was a nature tour and a Boarder crossing rolled into the same experience. Because I was the first person there I got the front seat of the boat and got to see all sorts of cool animals. I saw crocodiles swimming in the calm narrow river, I saw turtles all over the place, there were trees with vines growing off of them, I saw storks and parrots and other birds of all colors and sizes. I was really cool.

The first town I saw in Costa Rica was a far cry from the third world dirt road town I left from in Nicaragua. This town even seemed like it was in a first world country from the looks of the well paved roads and freshly painted buildings and cleanly cut healthy grass.

The bike ride to San Jose would have been very nice but I didn't have the patience so I got a bus. The woman I sat next to on the bus was a school teacher and I talked her ear off because I was in the mood to practice my Spanish, but she wasn't very talkative. Costa Rica was a very beautiful country judging from the hilly jungle countryside, the tidy towns we passed through and the winding roads.

I arrived at San Jose at night and got a hotel in the center. The next day I rode my bike around the city and checked out their zoo which was OK. I tried to go to the casino on the top level of the big hotel so I could look out over the city but the doorman wouldn't let me because I had shoes on. The city was smaller than I expected it to be. It didn't even really look like a city because it wasn't very big and there were no skyscrapers. It did have a nice pedestrian mall though. I went to an internet place there and asked for a computer and I heard the guy tell me to wait so I took that to mean that there were no computers available so I went for a walk and came back a half hour later and he tried to charge me because he thought I had been on the computer. I told him that I thought he said the computers were full up so I went for a walk, but he told me I owed him money for the time anyway. I tried to explain the logic to him but he wouldn't have it, so I had to leave and find another internet place which for some strange reason wasn't easy. That night I went to the indoor mall they had there and saw Castaway with Tom Hanks which I liked.

The next morning I rode out of town towards the south. After an hour or so of riding I got to the pass and rode up the jungle mountain which was beautiful because I was in the foggiest jungle I had ever been in. The fog was just coming and going, and when it was at its strongest I could barely see a hundred meters in front of me. I rode to a bird sanctuary near the top of the pass to do a bird tour of the jungle but it was too expensive so I just stayed at the hotel they had there. It was beautiful and peaceful there because it was in the middle of the jungle up on a hill offering a good view, and it was cold, which was cool because this was the first time I had felt cold since I had been out of the U.S.

That night I was talking to some Columbian American guys who lived in Miami and I told them that I planned on going to Columbia, at which they preceded to take it upon themselves to earnestly try to persuade me to not go for about an hour. They told me that their friend had just had just gone there to visit for a couple days and disappeared and was surely murdered, and that if I went I would surely be dead within two days. They told me other stories of people they knew who had been kidnapped and murdered there and frightened me in such a way as though they thought I was crazy enough to go their even though they told me not to, so I figured that I had better not go to Columbia this time.

The next morning I rode a little bit up to the top of the pass and then rode down one of the longest downhill's I had ever ridden to a small town where I had some hamburgers, and then rode up again to the top of another pass where I descended down to a popular surfing beach I think called Dominical. I got a room there and went for a walk down the dirt main road next to the giant beach. I saw a sign for a place that gave massages so I went in and offered a trade for a Thai massage. They were a man and a woman, and I gave the massage to the woman and the man gave me some kind of Reiki treatment. Then we went to watch a soccer game at the bungalow I was staying at.

The next day I rented a surfboard and surfed for the day. The water was nice and warm and it was fun swimming around in the waves, but I didn't catch anything because I didn't have a giant board and the waves broke straight against the beach and weren't all that big. There were a lot of surfers there though.

The next day I road down south towards Panama and got a hotel in a small town of which the name I can't remember. I went to a karaoke bar and sang I'm looking for a white Christmas in the best Frank Sinatra that I could do and the people seemed to think it was amusing. The next day I rode into Panama and got about half way to the city but I got bored and got a bus the rest of the way.

 

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Panama

I was excited about Panama city because of the canal. I got a cool hotel room in a historical ancient hotel with high ceilings with my room facing the historical plaza. I found it strange that one of the cheapest hotels to stay in in the entire city was also the most historical and right on the historical central plaza next to all of the historical landmarks. I spent a day there riding my bike around the city center that had a lot of modern sky scrapers. Panama has a nice pedestrian mall that is an experience in itself because you can see just how cosmopolitan the place is. Is was like a picture from a science fiction movie where all the races of the world live together harmoniously in their traditional garb. I saw East Indians with their garb all over the place, West Indians such as Guatemalans in their traditional cloths, blacks, whites, middle easterners, everybody. Clearly the canal had the obvious effect of mixing the place up, but in a very powerful and interesting way. I also rode my bike out to the edge of the peninsula along a nice bike path that was shared by a lot of vacationers and exercisers which offered a nice view of the impressive Panamanian skyline.

I rode out to the gates of the canal a few kilometers inland to do the tour. I had to pay a few bucks (which is the money they use there) to get in and sit on a platform where they explain what is going on over loudspeakers. They have those gates to control the flow of water through the canal because one side in like fifty feet above the other. The boats go in one side and then are raised or lowered in a tub and then let out on the other side. After seeing the gates I rode through a huge park and up to the top of the local hill and enjoyed a great view of the city.

While I was walking downtown I bumped into Monica, the German girl who I met on the boat in lake Nicaragua. She was hanging out with some Columbian guys who where living there and invited me to party with them in their apartment. They were really cool and played Shakira for us, who I wasn't aware of at the time.

The next morning I set off to ride my bike to the airport and I saw an indian guy all decked out in cycling gear riding a road bike and asked him where the airport was and he told me. When I got there they didn't let me put my bike right on the plane, I had to pay like twenty bucks to have it wrapped in plastic like twenty times. Then I was off to Ecuador.

 

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Equador

flag_gif Arriving in Ecuador was one of the most exciting times in my life because I was actually going to the magical continent of South America. I was supposed to land in Quito but because of cloud cover we had to land in Guyaquil, which is actually the biggest city in Ecuador. We all got on a bus to a really nice hotel. I got my own room with two beds, cable TV and a nice bathroom. I was totally stoked to be staying in a nice place like that for free, but the other people in the plane were mad because they just wanted to go on with their short vacations. There were a couple of American women who were doing a tour of the Galapagos islands, and an English engineer who was there on business helping design bridges. I went to the hotel gym on the roof and saw another American guy from the flight who shared the same excited sentiments as myself. We lifted weights for a little bit and then I went to my roof and watched TV until late. The next morning we had a nice buffet breakfast in the posh dining hall. I saw my pilot who happened to be the indian cyclist who gave me directions to the airport in Panama. That was pretty wild. Then we boarded and flew to Quito.

I ended up staying in Quito for three weeks. Quito is one of the coolest places to visit because it has a lot of unique characteristics. It is really high at 2850 meters and only 22 kilometers from the equator, so it has perfect year round weather. There are 4300m mountains just to the west of the city that are green all the way to the top. Quito is the city with the most market difference between the historical center and the commercial center. I usually get a hotel in the historic part of town, but I heard that the hotel ''center of the world'' in the commercial center was a fun place to go. The guy who ran the place, a gay French Canadian dude, did the brilliant thing to turn the place into a big ''do it yourself'' travelers resource center, and party place all packed into one. I think every city should have a place like this. He had photos and descriptions of all of the cool places to visit pinned up all over the walls, and a lot of big rooms filled with bunk beds. And had a kitchen that we could all use and a patio in the back. On Fridays he would fill up a glass tub with Cuba libres (Rum and Coke) and have competitions on who could identify travelers photos. He divided the whole place into two groups of about ten people and we had to take turns deliberating on where a photo was then make our guess. I was excited to play and thought we were going to win, but I was the guy who was delegated by my group to say where it was, and I was really drunk and accidentally said the wrong place even though I meant to say the right place and we lost.

My first day there I did a tour of the historic center which was interesting. It was built up against a hill which marked the south end of the city before it descended into the valley which leads to the south. There are a lot of old traditional buildings there. There was a traditional plaza and a big parade happening when I was there which happens a lot in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. I did a tour of a colonial art place and the girl who did the tour for me told me that the difference between North America and South America is that the Catholic church brought people to South America, but people went to North America on their own volition. I did another tour of an old house of an aristocrat. The my first Saturday there I tried to ride by bike down to where they have the bungee jumping, which is 90 meters high off of a big bridge but I went the wrong way so I did it the next Saturday, wich is the only day they do it, by bus. I went there alone, and got their just in time to see a girl standing on the edge for a couple seconds and then jump. She fell for a good few seconds before stretching out the rope and she continued to fall for a really long way down. There were about 50 Ecuadorians watching from the parking lots on both sides of the bridge who had apparently come there just to watch the tourists jump. Then I walked up and didn't have to stand in line behind anybody. They took my 50 bucks and told me that if I chickened out they weren't going to give my money back. So I got hooked up and they explained to me how they were being really careful and the I was not only hooked up to the rope by my feet, but by another normal harness around my waist and legs. The guys who worked there did a count down from five and I jumped about a second after they all said 'go!'. The fall was the most intense experiences of my life, even more intense than what I expected, because in no time I was falling headfirst so fast that I could hear the loud wind rush through my ears as if I stuck my head out of a car going 60 miles an hour, so the screams were ripped from me. I screamed uncontrollably as loud as I could for the entire fall until I slowly slowed down from the stretch of the rope, and then started screaming again as it pulled me way up again to were I could see the faces of the people on the bridge and fell again. I screamed a little more on the third rebound, and rebounded about a half dozen times before I lay hanging for about a minute not very high above the river below me. They all pulled me up by getting volunteer spectators to grab the rope and walk along the bridge. When I got back to the top I was still in shock and they were kind of laughing along with me. I left right after that and didn't see anybody else in line to jump after me.

I met a lot of people who were there for about the same amount of time that I was. Towards the beginning of my time there I climbed Mt Cotopaxi 5800m with a South African guy. We rented the gear from a place about two blocks from the hotel, and then stocked up on food at the supermarket, and left really early the next morning on the bus to the next town over where we got a taxi to take us up the dirt road to the parking lot a couple couple hundred meters below the shelter. We hung out that night for a little bit with a Columbian couple and an American guy and his friend and a girl from Boulder who had traveled there alone but had a harness and hooked American guys rope. Cotopaxi is a volcano that is covered in glaciers and has crevices on it. The American guy was trying to talk us out of going the next morning because we didn't have a rope, but they all let us hike up with them the next day. We hiked up the scree slope in the dark, and the sun started to rise about the same time we started walking in the snow. We got to a point in the middle of a mellow area where we had to cross a crevasse that was about six feet wide over a bridge that was about six feet wide. I looked down it and just saw blackness. After the five roped together people walked across it no problem, we scampered across it as light footed as we could. Then it started to get steeper and we got to the sheer rock cliff which you can see all the way from Quito and walked around it. After that it was a straight shot to the top up a 50 degree slope. We got to the summit just as the sun was rising over the mountains, and we could see the giant cone shaped shadow the mountain made over the terrain. I could see Mt Chimborozo about 50 miles to the south, Quito to the north, and some other high mountains to the north east. We could look down the caldera which was smoking a little bit. We hung out up there for almost an hour and then hiked back down. That night the others got away because their drivers came, but hour taxi who we pre-paid for half of the ride never showed up, so we had to pitch a tent and catch a ride back the next day with some American English teachers who had tried to climb the mountain the day after we went but couldn't because the weather wasn't good enough.

Quito has a nice park with a big skate converted from an old fancy pool, and a BMX race course and a big half pipes were full of people as well as the whole park which was huge. We went to the park in a group of like 15 people once. We did everything in huge groups. On the weekends we went to the Discos which were just a couple blocks from the hotel. While I was there I went to the a dentist on the main commercial street to have my teeth looked at, and she put in like eight fillings. I asked her to fill in a chip on my front tooth that my uncle had put there three years beforehand but I had broken off five months earlier when I was eating a cake stoned and put the whole fork in my mouth and bit down on it. At first the lady told me she couldn't do it so I told her that my uncle did it, so without asking she started drilling into my tooth. I was kind of stupid and let her do that for a second until I realized what she was doing and told her to stop and she said she had to to make it work and I said she didn't. Then she splooged on the stuff on my tooth in a haphazard glob and charged me and set me off. It was a really bag job because it wasn't even on my tooth at all and fell off about five months later.

After my trip to Cotopaxi I wanted to make another one to the top of Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo, which, standing at 6310m, is the closest point on earth to the sun because it is so close to the equator. I got some people interested in climbing it and then a lot of people signed on so we got a couple of guides to take us up in a van. It was my first trip though the rolling Andes hills and I saw the Llamas for the first time which make South America unique. After we climbed out of the green pastures and into the barren rocks and moss we started driving on snow that had been falling for the prior couple days. At one point we got stuck in a switchback and everybody got out to puke except me and then the guy just kept driving which wasn't necessary. I told him to weight but he said the hotel was just a little bit further but it wasn't. The others had to hike about ten minutes to get there. The guides cooked for us and we hung out at a nice fireplace. The next day we hiked a couple hundred meters more to the next refuge. We spent a day walking around the snow and sliding down the snow and practicing self arrests. We got up at like three the next morning and hiked about an hour up to a steep place and then turned around because they said it was storming on the top. There were some Indians in a group behind us who continued but turned around a couple hours late. Our guides told us they thought that was weird because Indians are usually superstitious of the mountains.

The ride out of Quito was interesting because I descended a lot to get into the valley that led to the south. It started raining really hard on me before long and I didn't have a rain coat so I was kind of uncomfortable. I saw some train tracks coming up and I knew that because it was raining if I didn't want to wipe out I would have to pick up my front wheel while I went over the tracks that I was hitting at 45 degrees. I lifted up my front wheel, but my back wheel slid all the way down the tracks until my bike was at 45 degrees and banged the road pretty hard as if I was landing a high jump; I didn't wipe it though. I saw a sign for a bed and breakfast on the side of the road so I rode up to the place but it was a guy alone in a nice house. He claimed to not have any food in the house at all which I found puzzling because he had to survive there. He told me about a place nearby where I could buy food but I couldn't find it so I sent him to get me something. I hung out with him that night which was cool because I hadn't had many opportunities to practice my Spanish before then. The next morning I rode into the town south of Quito and stayed the night there, but the next day I took the bus to the next town, and then rode my bike down into Baños. Baños is a cool place because it is a nice little tourist town in a deep valley, in fact a very deep valley because it is at the base of a 5000m mountain. It is really lush there and caters to tourists so there is a nice pedestrian mall and a lot of good restaurants with pizzas and stuff. I stayed there one night and went to the local natural hot springs which offered a nice view of the valley. I didn't have the motivation the next day to ride out of the valley so I got a bus. While I was sitting in the bus lot waiting for my bus I saw the weirdest traveler ever. This gringo kid rode his bike past me with a box strapped to his back rack with a happy boarder collie sitting back there. The guy took his dog bike touring with him!

I took the bus to the big southern town of ?. It was an all day ride and probably the most beautiful of all in South America because it was up and down misti green mountainsides on narrow roads. The hostel I went to in that town was unique in that my bed was right next to the bar restaurant party place. I was kind of tired and didn't feel like drinking or hanging out so I went right to bed, but from the noise I might as well have been in the bar. It didn't bother me though, I actually thought it was kind of cool. I spent a day there riding around and checking out the markets. The city was beautiful because it was in a valley next to a pretty big river, and the buildings were colonial. That afternoon I got a bus ride out and over the mountains for another day of constant climbing and descending. It would have made great bike touring. I can't remember why I didn't have the motivation to ride, I think it was because I was so excited about going to Peru. I stayed one night in a small town that was pretty off the beaten path. I got a room next to the plaza and spent a day walking around. I was the only tourist I saw there. The next day I took the bus to the boarder to Peru.

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Peru

My entrance to Peru was pretty interesting. It was at night and I didn't feel like riding my bike so I was asking the bus drivers to let my take my bike on with them but nobody wanted to. I eventually got a ride on a taxi who took me to a small town north of Piura, from which I took another bus to Piura. The drive was interesting because there were cows all over the road for the first half hour or so of the ride, and they didn't want to get out of the way. I noticed right away from the dirt roads in the town and the dilapidated roads that Peru was less developed than Ecuador.

Piura

I went to Piura for no other reason than that it had a map in the Lonely Planet book. It had a nice big plaza with a big tower in the middle of it, but unfortunately it was closed to the public. I remember noticing a few furniture movers loading a truck and seeing how they just threw everything together instead of packing the stuff first like they do in the states.

Trujillo

After Piura I took the bus to Trujillo. The bus ride surprised me by how much of a desert the Peruvian countryside was. It was basically one big sand dune, with some very primitive wood stick huts lining the road every once in a while. I was excited to arrive in Trujillo because I had heard that it had the longest wave in the world 75 kilometers to the north of it, and that it was a good place to teach English. But it was much smaller than I expected it to be. It was just a small town in the middle of the dessert, but it was quaint and I liked it. It seemed like a happy oasis.

My first day there I rode my bike seven kilometers out of the city to the old ruins of Chan Chan. This place was fascinating because it was enormous. The original city covered 26 square kilometers and the ruins seemed to cover about that area also. The center of the ruins was a walled in city built in AD 1300 that contained 10,000 dwellings. Even though it was seven hundred years old, parts of the walls looked brand new. The inside of the city was like a giant labyrinth, and in the middle was a large area where the central garden was, which reminded me of what the garden of eden must have looked like. There were actually still plants growing in the old pit they dug for the garden, which was really interesting because there were no plants anywhere for kilometers around. There was a lookout built in the grounds were I could look out over the wall which was really tall and made that place look like a real fortress.

After I left Chan Chan I went rode around exploring and noticed that there were old dilapidated and ignored pyramids all over the place. I rode my bike to one of them, which by now didn't look much more than a mound of rocks, but was still clearly an old man made pyramid.

After Chan Chan I rode my bike through Trujillo and to the other side to some ruins of another temple at the base of a hill called Huaca de la Luna. This is a well preserved multi layered building that had some well preserved wall art.

400 meters from Huaca de la Luna was a very interesting old temple called Huaca del Sol. Even though it is ancient and the largest pre-columbian structure in Peru, it was just sitting next to a neighborhood unprotected by any fences. I rode my bike around it marveling at the giant structure that consisted of 140 million adobe bricks. It is fascinating to look at these old structures and see how they deteriorate with time. I think the Huacas del Sol and La Luna were from the civilization before Chan Chan, which lasted from 0-700 AD, so these structures were almost two thousand years old. I recommend anyone who comes to Peru to come to Trujillo and see these ruins because there are so many of them and you can see how there was once a huge city here.

The neighborhoods of Trujillo were interesting to me because the houses were so simple, being just adobe huts, and the neighborhood roads were just sand. I stayed in Trujillo one more day just walking around and surfing the web. I also saw Erin Brockovitch in the Cinema.

I though about riding my bike to my next place, Huaraz, which would have been a beautiful ride, but I wasn't very excited about riding through the dessert, so I took the bus.

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Huaraz

I remember arriving in Huaraz was very exciting for me because I could see huge mountains around me in a beautiful mountain town. I could see Huarazcaran from the town, which is the highest mountain in Peru at 6700 M. I wanted to climb it but I heard later that it was too early in the year. I stayed in a hotel for one night until I found a better place where I met some cool people. But I was riding my bike on main street the next day and a Swiss guy on a bike rode up to me and started talking to me and showed me a better place to stay which was tucked away in an alley. I can't remember the Swiss guys name was, but he was really cool and I wish I had gotten his email. He was living in Huaraz making his money doing handy work for the Peruvians. He had a little cabin there that I never visited. He was there in Huaraz running every day training for a marathon that was coming up in a few months.
One day I rode out of town with him to one of his friends houses who was selling weed. The guy was interesting. He was an indian but was interested in Indian from India mythology and was vegetarian. I started talking to him about aliens and he believed that they were here on earth and also believed that they made the Nazca lines and the stones in and around Cuzco.

A lot of people in Peru seem to be alternative in one way or another. I met a few other vegetarians there, and there are a lot of fruit stands and vegetarian restaurants in Peru. I was a regular at one vegetarian restaurant that was in a meat market where there were dead animals hanging everywhere. The owners of the restaurant were Christians and liked to talk to me about the Bible.

One day my Swiss friend hooked me up with a huge bag of pretty strong weed for only six bucks, which broke my four month or so long break from smoking anything, and eventually led me into the biggest burnout of my life because the bag I bought would have killed me if I had tried to smoke all of it, so I made sixteen hundred super strong marijuana cookies in the hostel kitchen.

The hostel in Huaraz was the coolest hostel I have ever been to, and the coolest hostel you could ever have, because believe it or not, the owner of the hostel not only didn't live there, but was never there. So we had the whole place to ourselves, complete with the kitchen with all the appliances and a TV room upstairs which we never used because we had a big common area in a patio outside and a bar-like hang out room above the kitchen. The owner was really cool too, and never acted like she didn't trust us. She did have some caretakers there, but I never saw them and when they were there they just hung out with us like they were one of us.

One time I ate a bunch of my super cookies at the crack of dawn and my Swiss buddy came over and we took a bus to the outskirts of town and met with one of his Indian buddies who showed us to the trail that led to Mt Huaraz, which was the local 5,000 meter peak that we were going to climb. I remember in the wee hours of the morning I was so stoned off of those cookies that I couldn't even talk and didn't understand anything they were talking about and I thought his friend was coming with us. I was so stoned that I don't even remember much about the approach to the mountain, but I remember as we started to climb the steep part of it, for some reason I thought I was stronger than him and offered to take his back pack for him, but he turned out to be way stronger than me; which made sense because he had been training for a marathon for the last few months and I had been getting absolutely no exercise for the last few months apart from cruising my bike around the streets of the towns I had visited. So after a little bit he offered to take my bag for me and I took him up on that. We had to walk through some hard snow fields above sheer cliffs on the way up and down which sketched me out a little bit because the shoes I was using were loaners from him and were really old and had no tread on them. When we got to the summit we cooked up some soup and tea and enjoyed the incredible view of the Huaraz valley and the huge 6,000 meter mountains and their snowy ridges next to us.

We ran the whole way down through the pastures where the indians lived in their adobe huts with grassy roofs. The indians there seemed really content as they worked in the lush green countryside; and I felt like I had traveled back to the pre-columbian days.

I had some cool friends while I was in Huaraz. When I got there there was a cool Dutch couple but they left after a couple days. There were also two Germans from Munich there, Marcus and Philip. A little later two more cool Germans came, Marcos and oops I can't remember his buddies name. They were there the whole time I was there. There were also two English guys there for a while and two cool Swiss girls there, Melanie and I can't remember her friend name right now. There was also an English girl staying there for a while. And also my German friend who I met in Nicaragua and saw again in Panama and then again in Ecuador showed up and stayed there for a week or so. She was traveling with a cool Israeli girl who talked me into combing out my dreads with avocados. There was also a big Peruvian guy who was friends with Marcus who would come over and hang out with us. One time I have gave him three of my super cookies and he got totally stoned and could barely speak. There was also a big Israeli guy there who claimed to have never been drunk or stoned in his life. I gave him three of my super cookies once and he said he didn't feel anything.

My days there were filled with just hanging out in the patio with my buddies and roaming around the town, and at night we would have these Pisco sour parties. Huaraz was were I was first introduced to Pisco and Pisco sour. Ah, I had some good time there.

One day I paid a Swiss French kid twenty bucks to take me paragliding from 900 meters up the valley of Huaraz down into the town to the north of Huaraz. Paragliding is one of the coolest sports in the world because you can feel and hear and air cutting through the para glider and you can steer it really easily. We got up early in the morning and took a van down to the next town. In these vans they make all the passengers sign their names on a piece of paper. The French guy told me it was because every few weeks one of the vans drives into the river and they need to identify the bodies. After we got off at the town we hitch hiked up the valley to the place where he likes to take off. We went to a place at the top of a cliff and after he set up the para glider he told me to stand in front of him and when he said 'run' to run as fast as I could, so I did. But as I was running he tripped over me and instead of taking off we just fell down the three meter cliff and he fell on top of me and I cut my thumb wide open on a rock. After we bandaged up my thumb and covered my hand with a pair of his gloves we hiked up to a perfect spot and barely even had to walk to take off. He let me steer for a little bit which was surprisingly easy. Then he showed me his skill by pointing to a tree in the distance and telling me we were going to brush the top of it, and sure enough we did just that. As we were approaching the town I asked him where we were going to land and he pointed to a soccer field where a game was going on, at which point I reminded him about the game and he said it didn't matter. We approached in a circle the same way a plane does before it lands. At we were were about to land the people stopped playing and everybody watched us. We were approaching at about twenty miles an hour, and right before we were about to land he pulled back on the string and we lunged forward and slowed down enough to have a successful running landing. After we grabbed the para glider we walked off the field and packed it up with dozens of people standing around watching us.

For the six weeks I was in Huaraz I did some mountain biking, although not nearly as much as I wanted to because of the fact that I could never get up on time. One day I rode down to the town that is at the base of Mt Huarazcaran which is the highest mountain in Peru. And from there I rode up the mountain to go over the pass which was around 5,000 meters, but I turned around because the top part of it was covered in snow and I didn't want to get my feet cold trudging through it. The last part of that pass was awesome because there were like thirty consecutive switchbacks on the last part. I did that ride twice. I also did rides up both sides of the valley that Huaraz was in, but I never got to the end because I left too late one day and got an asthma attack the other.

While I was there all of my friends were going on treks but I never went on any because I just didn't feel like it. I wanted to go climb a 5400 meter mountain with the Germans once but I got really sick the day before they left from eating Crevice, which is raw fish that they sell from stands in the blazing sun. I had been eating it the whole time I was there because its delicious but that time it must have been rotten.

If there were ever a place that I would like to go back to it would be Huaraz peru. The mountain biking, mountain climbing and paragliding there are great, and the town is a nice quaint size. But after my the Germans came back from their successful summit trek I was still sick as a dog and felt like I needed to get out of Huaraz. (now I'm writing stoned) For some really weird reason which I can't explain because it has never happened anywhere else, but for the whole time I was there I thought that Lima was on the other side of the mountains, when in fact the mountains were on the east side of the town. I remember driving in the bus us the valley taking a right instead of a left and being surprised. The drive back was beautiful because we went over a tundra pass with a beautiful view of a lot the high mountain valleys. The drive down the road continued steadily until we got to the desert again.

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Lima

I was excited about getting to Lima because I was thinking about maybe living here and teaching English for a little bit and learning how to para glide because there is a paragliding school there for three hundred and fifty bucks were they take you out to the san dunes outside of Lima and you can learn all day long paragliding and being driven back up. Plus I imagined the surfing being really nice there because it was warm and on the Pacific ocean. I arrived at night and rode down to the center of town two blocks from the Plaza near the river to the hostel I wanted to go to. Although the ride through the center was congested, I felt like I was riding in a town instead of a huge city because the roads are narrow. The hostel I went to was really cool. It's on the roof of a tall building in the center, and has plants all over the place and two large land turtles walking around, so it's really quiet and peaceful. The people weren't really sociable there through and I was really sick when I got there and was chowing down on my cookies every day and was in kind of a stoned out haze, so I didn't talk to anyone besides a couple of English girls who were there when I first got there who gave me a Bolivia Lonely Planet book and talked about La Paz and made it sound really trippy.

My first day in Lima I rode my bike down the bike path in the middle of the main avenue to the beach eight miles away. The coast was unlike anything I had ever seen before because it was cliffs for the whole thing, which made the view of the ocean awesome and allowed people to para glide. where the bike bath hit the cliff there was a nice park that led up to a cliff that people were paragliding off of. I watched one guy jog off the cliff and soar to the north along the cliffs for like five or ten minutes until he landed a few kilometers down the road on a big parking lot. I could see all of the beautiful, perfect surfing waves all along the coast. Unfortunately people don't surf there because the water is polluted with human waste.

I found a place where I could walk down and checked out the beach. To my disappointment although the beaches were large and sandy, there was nobody there. There were, however, a half dozen kids out surfing in the waves even though the white sea foam that comes in wasn't white but brown and stinking. Then I rode back to the plaza and walked the peaceful pedestrian mall down to the other plaza on the other side, which is unique.

I did a tour of the Catholic church there which was interesting because it had long catacombs in the basement where they organized the bones of 70,000 people into mosaics in the pits where they dump them. It had a large central plaza also. I like that style of architecture with the plaza in the middle surrounded by the various balconies. My high school like that. Then I got a taxi up to the top of the hill that overlooks the city that is just across the river in the center. I took a taxi up there because someone told me that people attack tourists on the way up, but in retrospect I would have been fine to ride up there. The view was fascinating because I could barely see the plaza even though it was only like a kilometer away. I could see that there were slums of houses built of of adobe brick and tin roofs just to the south of the center which drove home just how poor Peruvians actually are.

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Ica

After Lima I took the bus to Ica where the sand boarding dunes are. Ica was in the middle of the desert and had a peaceful feel to it like all of the towns and cities in Peru. While I was there I was walking across a restaurant in front of the plaza and a Peruvian girl from Lima who I was dancing in the disco with three weeks beforehand in Huaraz recognized me and we dun hunged out. She was there on business selling stuff to the pharmacies.

Ica is the place where the Alien skulls were found, and I remember talking about that with a guy who was standing on the plaza with all kinds of alien literature spread out in front of him. I don't even think he was selling anything, he was just evangelizing the coming of the aliens.

My first day there I rode out to a lake called Huacachina that is surrounded by sand dunes which makes it look like the ultimate oasis. Huacachina is famous for sand boarding but there were only a couple people up there doing it. I rented a board and hiked up where I could see Ica and the surrounding villages in the middle of sand. That was one of my coolest days traveling. I was stoned off my ass on the cookies and listening my my walkman all day long sand boarding. There were two sides of the dune for boarding. The steep side facing the lake and the flatter side facing Ica. I started our on the side that faces Ica so I could get the hang of it. Sand boarding is different than snow boarding because there is much less control in sand boarding because the feet just loosely fit into two straps. I had a couple cool runs where I went down a little bowl and went up the side of it and did a 180 and went down it. After I got warmed up I went to the steep side. The steep side was at first a little intimidating because you can't turn and you can go really fast. There is only one way to surf the steep side because you have to put the grease on the board to go and it won't go even on the steep side if you don't put the grease on. I got pretty good where I got up to about 30 miles an hour and about half way down the slope until I would crash because the board would shimmer too much from bumping from the speed. There was a dilapidated old lift for the sand boarders of yesteryear. I was a really small sled with a cable that led to the top where there must have been an old motor of some sort. That would have been cool to be able to surf that dune all day long by way of a lift. I think if someone does that they could get a really good business going if they manage to get the word out to the tourists who come there, or convince the Peruvians that its a fun thing to do. On the side of the dune on the way that people go up I boarded down the entire part of the slope and rode it all out until it leveled off halfway down the dune. Right at the end of the day my walkman broke because it got too much sand in it and never worked again.

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Nazca

The next day I rode my bike to Nazca. This was the first stretch or road that I bike toured in Peru and it was all desert. I little before I got to the plateau where the Nazca lines are there was a river that I had to climb out of. I rode past the platform where they look at the lines but it was closed off so I couldn't climb it, not like I would have seen anything anyway because it was night. It took me later than I thought because I was having flat problems.

Nazca is a nice small town with the foothills to the mountains that lead to Cuzco on the western side and the plains that have the Nazca lines that point to the sea on the eastern side. There is a little river that runs through the town where the indians made an intricate system of aqueducts that went through tunnels and had pools that fed the terraces crops that led to them. The day that I spent there I saw a parade for children. There are a lot of parades in South America I have noticed. I got the plane ride over the Nazca lines which was an awesome experience because I got to ride in a small plane taking steep turns to check out the lines. I saw hundreds of designs on the flat plains and on the hill sides, but the most amazing thing I saw was the perfectly straight lines that criss crossed all over the place and above all one line that was about as wide as a road and pointed perfectly straight to the east literally as far as I could see even from the plane! At the museum across the street from the airport was an interesting museum where they had a mummy in a glass box and they showed a video about the lines. The video was mainly about an old American woman who had lived in Nazca for like thirty years studying the lines and came up with some kind of theory about what they were made of. When I saw my friend ? who was one of the Chimborozo climbers in La Paz she told me she had spent a couple weeks there hanging out with a guy who had been studying the lines and had decided that the lines were made by dousing lines following underwater water ways. That makes sense to me, but I would like to know why they criss cross all over the place.

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Cuzco

That afternoon I got a bus to Cuzco. Almost immediately the road. The drive went up and up and up an up and over a pass and then down down down a river valley in a bumpy dirt road on a bus that was decked out to drive over anything. It's so high there's probably people who could do the limbo under it. After going down the river we went way up and over the mountains and down again into cuzco at 3326 meters. It's actually quiet a pity that I didn't do that ride, it would have been awesome, but I was so anxious to just get there. Cuzco is half the size of Trujillo with 326,000 people but to me it seemed bigger. It is in a nice sloping valley surrounded by rolling hills. From the bus station I rode up the valley to the central plaza and through the narrow pedestrian alley where all the tourist restaurants are and took and left and went in the hotel on the end on the left. This hotel was cool because they played movies every night on a large movie screen upstairs. My room was in a little courtyard in the back. When I was about to go in a movie there I saw Dan, the Israeli kid I saw in the hostel in Quito and then again in Huaraz. He was going on the same Inca trail tour the next day with a German girl I happened to be going on.

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Inca Trail

We left from a small bus the next morning with our tour group and one other who was kind of like our sister tour group. The bus ride to the trail head of the Inca trail was over lush green rolling hills for a couple hours until we got to a town where we had a meal. Then we drove a little more to the trail head. We started the trail next to a big river and hiked up it along a big trail. From the beginning I was hanging out with Dan who was a really interesting Israeli. Actually Dan is the ultimate Israeli. He literally never stops talking, he's like a talk radio station, just talking and talking and talking about stories and stuff. But none of it's negative so he's never a pain to listen to. He's like the radio show I like to listen to when I work on my computer, the Laura Lee show. I don't actually listen to 95% of what I hear because I am busy concentrating on my work, but the background music of people happily talking away is relaxing. At the end of the Inca trail the mother in an English mother daughter couple likened me to Kenny in South park. I had never watched South Park, but later in Cuzco I rented it and saw that Kenny is the kid with the hood over his head. She must have said that because I was the silent friend of the ever talking Israeli kid. Once in the train he was telling a story and the daughter in the mother daughter pair actually tried to physically cover his mouth to stop him from talking in a sort of joking fashion, to show how he just talked and talked and talked. I remember one story he told. He said when he was in the Israeli army he sprained his ankle or something and so the other soldiers had to carry him on a stretcher for some kind of thirty mile death march. And he was saying how he was just sitting on top of the stretcher just cracking jokes all day long.

The first night we spent was near the rive on the right side of the photo to the right which looks down the river towards the beginning of the trail. The photo is taken from the beginning of the pass that we had to climb to go the round about way to Machu Pichu. Only the nobility could take the direct route along the river. The next day we hiked up the river again and had to take a left up into another canyon to the side. The pass was at 4200 meters, but we camped at the base of it. The third day was the pass day, where a few groups who started at the same camp sight busted up and over the pass to camp that night at the bottom of the next valley. Our groups was always one of the late risers, but that was cool because after the group broke up at the beginning of the pass I actually enjoyed passing people all day long. I think I counted that I passed like 132 people on my way to the pass. The hike was cool because for the first part of it we were in the jungle hiking along a trail that was very well paved with large rocks. The second part we were hiking up the treeless tundra part until we got the the summit of a pass that had a saddle of about 20 meters. The view was nice with some snow-capped mountains in the distance and the river way down there. One of the most fascinating parts of the whole trip was the view of the descent off of the pass into the next valley, because It was a perfectly paved stone road about ten feet wide down from the pass into where the trail follows along the side of the valley leading to the main valley. While I was waiting for my group at the top of the pass I was chewing on my couple bags trying to see how much of a buzz I could get off of those illegal coco leaves. My mouth did turn numb, which was a cool experience in itself, but I do remember getting kind of high off of it. I wasn't drowsy when I ate the two bags of leaves so I don't know if it would have kept me awake which is what the Indians supposedly eat it for. I wish I could buy those leaves, chewing leave is a cool savagely natural way to get a pick me up.

The camp at the end of the canyon was cool because we had a little river running through the terraced camp site. Because this canyon was smaller than the last one, all of the groups had to cuddle up on the same terraced hill, which made apparent how many people were in fact hiking this Inca trail. The next day we hiked up the side of yet another canyon even though the trail could have taken a right and gone the river to the main river to Macho Pichu, but no, we had to go up another ridge. Half way up this ridge we encountered a ruin which was built on a steep enough part of the mountain side that the lookout of the building had a front wall that was about three meters high. About 45 minutes after that ruin we got to the summit of the ridge. But instead of descending back into another valley we went steadily along a small steep valley until we got to the coolest ruin on the whole trail. It was a kind of a mini Machu Pichu because it was a developed little town, or rather sophisticated mansion on a steep ridge. On the end of the ridge there was a nicely sized little patio area overlooking the alpine jungle view. At the upper end we saw the carved aqueduct lead from the mountain above and over the doorway to the ruin. About a half hours hike we camped in a little field.

The next day was the most magnificent. It began almost immediately with an emergence onto a new ridge where the trail suddenly became very well paved. We walked along this ridge offering views and began to descend a little until we had lunch at a tree less area where we could see the main river again and aguas calientes, the town that supports Machu Pichu and the hydroelectric plant that was right below us. About a half hours walk down the trail from there we got to the second coolest ruin on the Inca trail, another mansion that had the best view platform whose face was like five meters high because the ruin is built on a 30 degree hillside. There were some interesting aqueducts in a line down the mountainside that filled with the cascading water. The coolest thing about this ruin was how the thick fog would roll in and out very quickly. I took a photo of when the fog was in, and another one five minutes later when It was perfectly clear again.

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Machu Pichu

From this ruin the trail was descending down the steep hillside, so we started walking down 500 year old stairs. Because we were descending, the trail started going through a thick jungle which totally blocked out the sun. A couple hours later we to a huge terraced farm built up on the steep mountainside that supported Machu Pichu. A little down the hill all of the groups camped together in a big terraced camp site. We all had dinner together in a building and the energy was really high. One guy got up on a table and made a toast to everybody in the building although I didn't understand anything he said. The next morning the days wave of Machu Pichu tourists began their final trek to Machu Pichu a couple hours later. Our group was one of the last ones yet again and I took off kind and was passing people in the super crowded trail, but I stopped passing people because I didn't want to be rude, but then came Dan who was just plowing through people, so I got behind him and we passed people until we got to climb up a stair section where I dropped him and hiked up to a ridge that offered the first view of Machu Pichu below us. This had a little ruin built there and I was listening to the explanation of the area to another tour group. This was known to the Incans as the 'keyhole' or something, where they would have a ceremony to 'behold' the city or something like that. Then someone else from my group showed up, and we ran down the trail to the ruins and were the first ones there for the day. I sat up at the farm terraces above Machu Pichu for a few minutes next to a hut where they kept three Llamas. I walked to the left part of the terraces and saw how they were built until the huge sheer cliff started. The fog is amazing in Machu Pichu. It is just like in the mountains in Costa Rica. One second it is totally clear, and they the fog just rolls in at like ten miles an hour as if the place is flying through the clouds. But after the people came and the sun got higher the fog dissipated and our tour started. We had a special Machu Pichu tour guide who was kind of a character. At first he was angrily collecting and gathering all of our attention before he would get started. At first I though we was kind of an angry person, but after he got started on the tour I realized he just took his job very seriously.

He took us around showing us the impressive cascading aqueduct system and stonework. There is a patio on top of the ridge that the city sits on that had a sheer cliff on one side that looked like it went all the way down to the river. He said they were still finishing it when they had to abandon it so the Spanish couldn't find it, and he showed us a large stone sitting in the middle that they were working on dragging across to be placed upright as a pillar. He showed us a large rock field next to us and said that was where they got all their rocks to built the city. On the other side of the plaza there was a cliff that led to the impressively large central plaza which had a big farm patch next to it. Behind the farm patch was the beginning of the trail that led to the top of the steep hill that you see in the photos. I had no idea there was a trail up there because it was so steep, but they made stairs up it! I don't think I would have been able to climb that hill without the stairs put there for me. When I got near the top I saw a staircase that went up to the left very steeply, almost too steeply for me, to a building that had a view of the river almost straight down below. From there I climbed a little way to the top where there were some large rocks that we sat on. The view of Machu Pichu from the top made the city itself looked very small and I noticed most of the terrain was terraced farms.

Another interesting part of the tour was the condor, which was a condor head made in a little plaza next to the neighborhood part of the ruin that had two naturally looking wings raising from it. He said the Incans were good about using natural formations to build their structures, and showed us how the buildings were build up on existing rocks. Next to the condor was a little cave that we walked through and came out the other side.

The energy in Machu Pichu was very powerful in a similar was as Tikal, where I could feel myself get really energized to the point that I felt fidgidy, so I walked down to the entrance area where the buses are with Dan and his girl friend and we sat down and waited for our group which didn't all show up for like a half hour. And then we decided to walk to Aguas Calientes instead of take the bus, I can't remember why. The hike was cool though, and the town or Aguas calientes was interesting. It was small, about the size of Machu Pichu. After having lunch with my group in a restaurant we got on the three hour train and rode the valley down the big river that only the Incan nobility used to get to Machu Pichu back to Cuzco.

My next day in Cuzco I rode up the valley that was right next to the plaza about ten minutes to the ruins of Sachsayhuaman, which is the most impressive ruin I have ever seen because of the huge rocks there. This place is a three level high terraces wall built in zig zags to emulate the jaw of a Jaguar. It is made with granite stones that weigh 300 tons and stand twelve feet high, and are fit together perfectly. When the spanish came there they tried to take it apart because it was a religious temple and could only dismantle four fifths of it. Next to the wall there is a large plaza were they have festivals. On the other side of the plaza there is another peculiarly unexplained thing. Carved perfectly straight into the granite rock there is a type of award platform or something. This was amazing because of the precision that it was cut. After Sexy Woman, as people call it because nobody can pronounce it like it is supposed to be, I went to a couple more ruins nearby, one of which had an impressive 500 year old man made waterfall that was still working.

Smartly I didn't bring my super cookies with me on the Incan trail because I wanted to be able to communicate with the people in my group, but I began eating them again when I got back to Cuzco, and was starting to get burt out. I remember the day I did the tour of the city I left my bike sitting in the flower garden in the central plaza for about nine hours in the middle of the day completely unlocked, and nobody stole it! However my camera was pick pocketed that had all the best photos form Machu Pichu in it.

The city of Cuzco has some very cool sights as well. The original incan walls were all over the city, built into the modern buildings just like they are in Rome. It was amusing to see the stark difference between the vastly superior stonework of the Incans to the impressive attempt at duplication by the Spanish. There is one famous giant rock near the center that has nine sides to it and is fit perfectly with the other stones surrounding it. The catholic church next to the plaza is impressively large and intricate, but I was most impressed with the other church down the road a little bit. It was originally an Incan temple, but the Spanish dismantled it and put their own church on top of it, but they didn't completely take apart the walls, so I could see them inside the church. The difference in stone work was so amazing, because the Spanish needed to use mortar to fit their stones together, but I could see that the outer wall of the Incan temple didn't have any! It stayed together because the stones were cut together perfectly. There were some parts where the stones had separated from each other a bit from earthquakes, but the wall was still safely intact. I walked up the tower and got a nice few of the skyline, which is something I try to do at every city I go to. Cuzco had no modern looking sky scrapers which added to its charm. All the buildings were the same brown color.

I hung out in Cuzco for like five days after the Incan trail. For a couple days I tried to leave but I was so stoned on the cookies I couldn't get up on time and I don't like leaving late. There was an interesting thing there that I hadn't seen since Korea, the video rental houses. I went there once and rented South Park.

I rode south towards Lake Titicaca from Cuzco. The road followed up a river at a nice mellow grade. I stayed at a roadhouse hotel one night, and the next day I took a right turn and up into the barren hills towards Arequipa. While I was riding up the steep grade I passed a kid who was walking, and he ran beside me for about ten minutes. Then I saw an old Indian woman running with her blanket pack on, which was very impressive. I rode up to a quaint town and got a room. I was well off the beaten path now so most the indians I was riding past will have only seen a white person a few times in their lives, if ever, so the stares started to come. I spent the next day there because I was getting my walkman fixed at a shop in front of the plaza, which was the only business I remember seeing surrounding it. A lot of guys who apparently didn't anything else to do went with me to watch me do business with the guy. Seemed to me excited to be talking to me and was acting macho by interrupting me and telling me how he was going to fix it and that I would have to wait. It would be cool to live in a tiny super primitive town in a beautiful setting for a little bit. I would bring a few computers and open computer using school and then sell the computers to them on consignment.

The next day I rode up and over a pass in the treeless hills and down into another town. I got a flat in this town and had to fix it. This town must have never seen a gringo because while I was fixing the flat in a market area on the main street a crowd of about thirty people came up and completely surrounded me and stared at me. The first row were of small children who kept trying to offer me their ice creams. When I left I waved and all of them waved back together. That was one of the weirdest traveling experiences I have had. I was a little behind schedule because the the flat problems so I had to descent from the next pass in complete darkness because I didn't have a light. But it was cool because my walkman worked again and I was stoned out of my head enjoying my music. This town was in a fair sized valley and I think it was the capital of the between Cuzco and Arequipa wasteland. I spent three days there because I couldn't get up in the morning because I was too stoned because I continued to eat my cookies. I went to the internet one day, and walked around the market and got some meals at various restaurants. I was the only non Peruvian there the whole time I was there. From looking at the market I saw how much these people live off the land because they were selling every bit of the all of the animals that they had around and even some weird much room like growth from the land. I didn't talk to anyone there and felt like I was in another world. The roads were dirt and their were no cars. After the third day I gave up in trying to get up on time and just took the bus to Arequipa. The approach to the mountains was impressive. I got to Arequipa at night and rode to a hotel in front of the plaza which is what I try to do every time I go to a latin town.

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Arequipa

Arequipa is in one of the coolest settings of all the cities I have been to because it is a big city literally right at the base of a huge perfect cone volcano. Arequipa has a million people and sits at 2324m. The whole city is on a slope because it is next to Volcan Misti which is 5800m. My hotel was cool because it had a nice patio on the roof with a nice view of the mountains and the plaza which was one of the most beautiful because it had a lot of big trees in it, and the church was pretty with the two tall spires.

The first day I was there I did the tour of the convent that was built in 1580 and used to house 450 nuns who lived completely secluded. Now just a few live in the northern part. It was fascinating because it was like a walled in city. It had a lot of plazas inside and a main steet-hallway, and a lot of tiny residences, a few large dining halls, a huge kitchen, a garden, and a few small apartments sized residences. The hallways zig zagged in a kind of laberinthy way to make it difficult to remember the layout. I remember one fountain near some huge rooms that are now colonial art display rooms.

I liked Arequipa a lot because the view of 5822m Misti and 6075 mt snowcapped Chanchani. It has peaceful cobbled roads and not too much traffic. There was a good pizza restaurant I went to.

The next morning I left really early to climb Mt Misti, but I rode up the wrong road and found myself at the entrance to a military installation on the wrong side of the river that runs through Arequipa. The next day I left at midnight to go up the more direct route. I rode through a up and up and over a slum neighborhood until it ended. After I stashed my bike in a little dry river valley behind a dump yard where they burn their trash I started hiking and realized I forgot my flashlight, and it was completely black. I didn't manage to find the road that leads right up to the base of the mountain and was still a long ways from the base so I hiked all night through the blackness until I got to a part where I was at the edge of a little canyon. I shimmied down and couldn't feel the bottom so I slid off thinking it wasn't very deep, but I was about fifteen feet deep and I landed on my side luckily in a sand pit. I remember seeing stars all over the place. After I landed I just laid there for like five seconds and then tried to breath and noticed that my wind was knocked out of me. Luckily I wasn't hurt any because I was so stoned when I stashed my bike that I forgot to take my helmet off. I tried to get out of the little canyon I was in but it just kept slithering along sheer cliffs and I couldn't climb out because of the pitch blackness. So I went back to the sand patch I landed in because that was the only place I could sleep in the rock strewn canyon and went to sleep. When I got up the next morning after the sun rose I found a place where I could climb out and started hiking up the face of the mountain which started right after the canyon. This mountain was huge because it started at about 2400 meters and went up to 5800 meters, but being that it is a perfect cone shaped mountain the hike up it was really straight forward which was cool. I had the unfortunate experience of not having any water to drink the whole day because I made the mistake of filling my camel back water bladder with carbonated water which burst the seems and let all the water run out and over me while I slept. I had a bunch of super cookies for breakfast and I got dry mouth but had no water to moisten my mouth up. I hiked as high I could but I had a raging headache and had no energy and it was getting lake so I had to turn around, but I was almost at the top. I figured I was about 100 meters from the top, but I just didn't have the energy. The view of the city from up there made it look like I was looking down on the city from a place because I could see all of the roads and suburbs with the lights. The hike down wasn't very painful because Mt Misti is just a pile of rocks and sand and it wasn't difficult to find some sand shoots to run down. As I was descending I saw the canyon I fell into and noticed that there was a road that led right up to the base of the mountain, so I got on the road and ran down it until it got pitch black again. I had to start walking through the blackness feeling my way with my feet again, only this time totally paranoid about falling in another hole. I blamed the debacle of the weed cookies, so I threw the bag as far as I could into the blackness, vowing to never smoke again on my trip. I managed to find my bike because of the glow of the burning trash dump it was next to.

The next day I decided I would try to climb the other mountain next to Misti, which was 6075 meters high. This mountain was on the other side of the river and farther away from Misti, so I talked to a taxi driver and paid him half of the fair in advance to meet me in front of my hotel at midnight. He took me up to the base of the mountain where I stashed my bike and started to hike. The view was beautiful because there was a little bit more of a moon and I could see the reflection of the snow on the mountain top, but my brain was so saturated by the weed, or maybe I was just unmotivated for other reasons, but I didn't have the motivation to hike anymore. It was just too quiet and I felt lonely, so I turned around after about a half hour of hiking and rode my bike back. This was the second time I had done this ride in the darkness. It was interesting because it was a huge neighborhood build up on the side of the mountain, and was very steep, so the descent was very fast and very long. On my descent I had one of my strangest traveling experiences. As I was approaching the outskirts of the hilled neighborhood, I approached a giant roadside building that I guessed was a slaughter house that was making more noise than I have ever heard from animals. I stopped and stood there listening to hundreds of animals screaming and wailing as loud as they could as if they were in hell. I was trying to understand why they were screaming like that because is was in the darkness before the sun rose. They kind of sounded like people screaming. I got back to my hotel way before dawn and slept in.

At this point I was kind of having a motivation crises but wasn't too stressed out about it. That night I bumped into a French guy who I had seen in Quito and again in Huaraz, and he told me about a big concert at the university that was happening that I went to, but didn't stay very long because I wasn't into the music.

The next day I was in the internet and suddenly the murmer of an earthquake started to happen and everyone just sat there looking at each other. After a few seconds when it didn't stop everyone ran outside and the streets filled with people standing in the middle of the road in case the buildings collapsed on us. All of the women and children were sobbing and I was even a little scared for a little bit because the ground was moving a lot and I could hear a loud rumble, and if it had been a little stronger I could imagine the buildings crumbling around us. I saw a a few thirty pound stones break and fall off the roofs of the buildings around me and land on the cars parked there. The whole thing lasted for maybe a minute, during which time I could see a plume of dust rise up from the ground and engulf the city until I could barely see Mt Misti. When it all ended I went straight back to the plaza because I remembered that the church there had two exceptionally tall towers and I wanted to see if they were still standing, and sure enough one had collapsed into the plaza, spilling bricks all over the road. I went to the roof of my hotel and retook photos of the mountain through the dusk and the collapsed tower so I could have the before and after photos. (I showed those photos to he and she in Santiago and after they moved out those photos were stolen, so one of them stole them, I think it was Jo because my Harry Potter book was missing also and she had read that). That was the biggest earthquake in Peru for like a hundred and fifty years and killed a bunch of people on a coastal town near the epicenter in the ocean. That night I decided to treat myself to a Peruvian delicacy, the groundhog. Why it is a delicacy I have no idea because it has barely any meat on it and it is expensive, about 20 bucks. But the meat that I did manage to eat was good.

The next morning I left on my bike towards the desert where I would loop around and climb up to lake Titicaca. The ride that day to the town of Moquegua was cool because I had the road all to myself again because they were closed from the rubble of the earthquake. Most of the day was on a flat desert highway, and at the end I turned west again and climbed up a little to the town. I think I spent two nights there because I couldn't get up the first day, the second day I got up at like eleven but left anyway. The ride was awesome because it just went up and up and up switchbacks. It got black pretty quick into my ride because I left so late and I rode up until it got so cold I decided to stay the night in a dirt floored restaurant. I was hanging out with some Bolivian truck drivers there and one of them offered to drive me to the lake. The next morning before the crack of dawn I managed to get up before he left and got a ride with him. The view was amazing as we were driving along the high antiplano surrounded by huge snowcapped volcanoes. The guy dropped me off at a boarder town on the south west corner of the lake.

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Bolivia
Lake Titicaca

The truck driver dropped me off at a primitive town that was pretty close to the south west shore of lake Titicaca. A few miles before we got to the boarder I could see the snowcapped 6000m Andes mountains and the expanse of the Lake Titicaca, which was one of the most exciting times of my life because I have been fascinated with this area since I was in seventh grade. I didn't have the patience to ride my bike to the lake so I took a van to the boarder, and to Copacabana, which is a tourist town just on the Bolivian side of the boarder. I happened to be there during a very strange time because the Campesinos, the poor Indian Antiplano farmers, were protesting about something the government was doing that they didn't like. They were blocking all the roads that led to the capital city of La Paz and to the lake to bring attention to themselves. So as a result of this the tourist town of Copacabana was practically a ghost town. It seemed like there were only like a dozen tourists there, even though the shops and restaurants remained open. I remember a lot of the places there served pizza which I found pleasing. Copacabana is in a beautiful setting nestled between the rolling hills and a small bay. It had an enormous church there that looked like a fortress that had a very nice tree filled plaza in front of it. If I remember the story right, after the Spanish came and defeated the Incans, the last Incan emperor converted to catholicism and moved to Copacabana and had that church constructed and made a famous black Jesus.

After I was in Copacabana for a couple days I rode my bike to the northern edge of the peninsula and paid some kid a couple dollars to row me over to the Island of the Sun. The place where in Indian mythology the tall white bearded god who constructed the ruins at Tihuanacu appeared from. Where the kid dropped me off happened to be the site of an interesting cliff-lake side ruin. I rode the trail over to probably the most interesting setting of a town that I have ever seen. This town, Yumani, kind of reminded me of San Pedro in Guatemala. This kind of town takes you back to the days before cars, where all of the buildings are connected by walking paths. But here I was the only person who seemed to have even a bike. Another cool thing about this town was the majestic view over the great expanse of the lake due to the fact that the island jutted out of the lake like a mountain. The town was on the side of the hill, so you can only go up or down, and all of the buildings there were one story mud huts except for one. When I arrived in Yumani I sat down at a quaint outdoor restaurant and saw the only other two tourists on the whole deserted

tourist island and started chatting with them. They said they heard that the island was usually flooded with tourists so I felt very fortunate to feel kind of like an honored guest in a hidden paradise as I was one of the only tourists there in a place full of people who are used to catering to people like me. They told me about the place they were staying at which was on the top ridge of the island, right at the top of the town where you have views of both sides of the lake, so I went and stayed there. The view was amazing. The next day I rode my bike around the western shore of the island along a wide path through some other small towns. I was the only tourist I saw on the trail the whole day. On the north western end of the island there is a rather large and clearly ancient ruin complex built right up on the lake side. I spent a few minutes exploring around the labyrinths of the rooms and and climbing on the tops of the walls. I remember seeing a large round table that was carved out of rock surrounded by a bunch of seats carved out of rock sitting in a flat

plaza type area and just being flabergasted by the mytical view. After that ruin the trail led back to the southern end of the island right along the top ridge which made for some amazing pictures that I unfortunately somehow lost. I stayed one more night at that hotel, and the next day I took put my bike on the sail boat that the guys I met had rented from Copacabana and we sailed back. The trip back was awsome because the wind was just pushing us at a steady four miles an hour almost all the way, so all we had to do was just sit there and enjoy the view.

I went on a hike with Todd the next day to the top of the hill behind Copacabana and see the northern edge of the lake. Another day I rode around the outskirts of the the town to an old Indian ruin where they had some little aqueducts and a pool inside of an old walled in area. I bumped into an old Indian campesino on my way there and talked to him for a little bit. I asked him about the myth about the god coming from the island and he seemed to know the story but wasn't very interested in it. Then he started telling me about how he was mad at the United States for destroying all of the Coca fields in Bolivia, and I told him I agreed with him. There is also another cool place in Copacabana which you can see in a lot of the photos of it. There is a tall hill on the east side of the bay that has a trail that leads up to the top where there is a little plaza offering an amazing view of the lake.

While I was there I was spending my nights at one of the hotels where they had some videos that you can rent and watch in their little video room. Watching American movies is one of my favorite things to do when I am traveling because I temporarily transport back to my country. I met another bike tourist there who had ridden his bike from Patagonia. He told me that he saw a lot of other bike tourists there but it was so incredibly windy in one area that you can barely even ride the bike and he saw a lot of bikers just huddled under tree afraid to ride at all. He said it was so windy that he was actually sliding sideways on the dirt road he was riding on. He could have been exaggerating though because he also told me that he was from northern Scotland but he spoke with an American accent and that he had hiked 50 kilometers around Copacabana that day.

When I left Copacabana the Campesino protests were still going on so I had the road all to myself. The road out of Copacabana was was beautiful because it led up to the top of the hill allowing incredible views of the lake. I rode through maybe a half dozen large rock fields that the Campesinos put there in order to deter cars and as I descended down to the town where I had to pay someone to row be across the ismus to the other side of the lake. I saw about 30 campesinos standing on top of the cliff above me watching me. One of them threw a large rock at me but deliberately missed me by about twenty feet. Another one raised a large rock like he was going to through it at me but I waved 'no' at him and they all waved back. On the other side of the lake there were still no cars but the people still had to get to work so everybody was ridding their bikes which was so cool. I just put on Led Zeppelin and peddled away on the giant bike path with all the other bikers. As I was riding down one long strait away I could see all the Bolivian cyclists in front and behind me, and I pulled up next to on old guy and he told me he was riding to work in El Alto, which is the antiplano suburb of La Paz, he said he rode sixty kilometers to work every day and sixty kilometers back. Which surely was an exaggeration but it was still impressive seeing that he was about 60 years old. The Bolivian Campesinos are very athletic.

I was riding alone at one point when I saw a kid on the side of the road having a seizure. He had apparently had the seizure while he was ridding his bike because it was laying beside him and his face was bloody from the crash. He was choking on his tongue because he was laying on his back and he had a backpack on and his head was tilted back; so I ran up to him and turned him on his side and held his head for about thirty seconds until his seizure stopped. I tried to ask him if he was OK about a dozen times but he just looked at me like I was a ghost. I saw some bikers approaching after a couple minutes and I didn't want to have to explain to them what happened because I didn't think the kid was going to be able to talk, so I took off before they arrived, but I looked back and saw they had stopped to check him out.

 

 

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LA PAZ

As I got closer to El Alto the occasional van started to appear, which was loaded to the brim with people and their bicycles to take them into town to work. El Alto was enormous and took my a while to reach the canyon where La Paz was. I was expecting an incredible view because I had heard about it from other tourists. They had told me that it sneaks up on you because you are approaching the mountains and you don't even know that there is a canyon there, and then all of a sudden you are standing on the edge of a deep steep valley and at the bottom of it is a metropolis complete with skyscrapers and neighborhoods built up on the sides of the hills. The view that I had was no less amazing than I expected, it seemed unnatural to me. The ride down was fast, and when I got to the central plaza I noticed how this place was the only pretty much all Indian metropolis in the world.

I stayed in a hotel one day and then I met up with Todd and he showed me his hotel which was much cooler. Spent a few days hanging out with him and a couple Argentinean guys. We got a tour to climb the local 6000 meter peak Potosi. We had two guides for the three of us. They were young Indian guys who were cool. We spent the first night in a mud hut on the roadside at the base of the mountain, and the first day we walked along an aqueduct about thirty feet up a sheer cliff. On the way up they took us ice climbing which was cool, then we hiked up to the base camp at the bottom of a snow field. We got up super early the next day and hiked up, but Todd and one of the Argentineans got altitude sickness and had to turn around, so me and the other Argentinean climbed the mountain. The final climb to the summit was awesome because it was up a 60 degree slope for a couple hundred meters. I would like to climb a mountain like that again because you really feel like your high. The summit was no less intense because it was only about the size of a room and the other side of the mountain was a sheer cliff. The view was amazing because I could see such a varied landscape. To the north were a bunch of six thousand meter peaks, to the north west was the entire expanse of the lake, to the west I could see volcano Sajama in the distance, to the south west I could see the valley of La Paz, to the south was the pass to the jungle, and to the east was the Amazon jungle way way way below us. I was going to develop the photos immediately but I think the helper guy who rode on top of the truck stole my camera so I could never do it. It was ironic because the guys I was with fumed at the owner of the travel agency for making the guy ride on top with the bags, but he was perfectly happy to do so so he could rip us, or me, off.

After that last form letter, it was over a year before I wrote another one. I kind of lost motivation. I think I was smoking too much weed. But I did get a newfound motivation to write rhymes, and in the course of a few days I read my rhyming dictionary and finished a rhyme I was working on for about six months and a ballad, limerick, and the like. My time in La Paz was kind of a vacation within a vacation. I did a lot of hanging out and partying. I hung out with an Israeli guy and his Israeli friends who where all hanging out in the same hotel. They virtually took over a bar with a beautiful view of the city, and all had their meals in an Israeli restaurant. There were a couple of American college girls staying in the place for a while who were studying in Santiago and were talking about how nice of a place it was to live.

The day after my New York friend left I bumped into an English girl who was in the group I went with up Mount Chimborozo in Ecuador. She had been having a nice trip, she was dating a journalist and hung out with the newly elected president of Peru during the independence festivities in Cuzco. She was hanging out with some French engineering students. We got really drunk one night in their room and I blacked out. Later I ran into them on the street and they said I puked out of their hotel room window.

I also came up with the (weed induced) idea of making a shell-sled to drag with the help of a dog to the South Pole and back. It's a pretty cool idea. It's a collapsible sled, that during the day is a sled and at night is a tent. It is to save the hassle of putting up a tent in a blizzard.

One day I rode my bike up to the highest ski resort in the world at like 5100 meters, and hiked up to the hill in the background at 5400 meters.

Another day I did the bike ride down to Coroico at 2100 meters. From the city of La Paz, I rode up to a pass at about 5000 meters before the descent into the jungle. It was an amazing ride. In the first part of the descent the road was surrounded by huge snow-capped jagged peaks. I was riding almost too fast because the air resistance was so low. Then the pavement became dirt and the descent down the jungle canyons started. For most of the way the road was on the edge of almost sheer cliffs, which was pretty freaky because it was such a narrow road, that the trucks and buses had to take turns stopping to let each other by at parts; and there was never a side rail. I had heard through the grape vine through a lot of different sources, both Israeli and non Israeli, that a couple months beforehand a young Israeli girl rode her bike off the road and died. I wanted to ride my bike back up to La Paz, but when I got up at four the next morning my bike had a flat and I lost my motivation. The next day I didn't have the motivation and took the bus.

Coroico is a beautiful town perched quaintly on the edge of one of the ridges that leads down to the river; with

beautiful views of the huge mountains that surround La Paz to the west, a big river way down below to the north, jungle plains to the east, and jungle hills to the south. Being that it is perched on a jungle mountain ridge, the streets were very steep, even the central plaza.

One day I rode my bike towards Illimani, the 6400 meter mountain to the south of La Paz, to climb it; but my bike rack broke under the weight of my pack.

A couple days later I bumped into one of my Argentinean friends who was in La Paz buying stuff for his place in Copacabana, and we met up in a bar that night. At the bar after he left, I met some Columbian artisan's and went to a disco with them. After the disco I went to a whore house with one of them and his friend who happened to live in the same hotel as me. We were hanging out with their friend who said he was the manager of the place. We weren't there to bang any whores, but to do cocaine. I felt like it might have been better to be there for the prostitutes though, because they were just sitting there looking bored. Hopefully it was just a slow night.

After that I was kind of losing motivation to hang out in La Paz, so I just left one night at midnight because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it during the day. The next day I had ridden for about 10 miles and had decided I was bored of bike touring. I think mainly because I didn't have enough good music and had sold all my weed to my Argentinean friend. So I started looking at the surrounding artisan houses and wondering if any of those farmer people would be interested in buying my bike. I rode up to one house and asked for water and asked a boy if he knew anyone who wanted to buy my bike. He took me to his neighbor-relative who was interested. I said I wanted 30 bucks for everything. I let him bargain me down to 15 bucks (which he paid me in change), but on the condition that he give me room and board for six days. I didn't go for that though, because the conditions they were living in was way too boring for me to stand. They had three buildings: The main building where they all lived was I think three rooms, then there was another building of two rooms, one of which I stayed in for one night, which was dirt floored. The other building was an outhouse-sized pile of unevenly-piled adobe bricks with huge gaps in it where the bricks didn't line up evenly. The land they lived in was a barren landscape of dry half-dead grass, with a small stream running through the town center about two hundred yards away. When I say "town," I mean about five families by the roadside and the stream. I saw a large pile of sticks in front of their house and asked what that was for and they said it was the fire wood for their stove. By the sticks was a pile of small rocks; that was the material for their up-coming second house. That night they made me sheep-gut soup and a dry-doeish concoction, and while I was waiting for it I discovered I was not only the guest of honor, but the nights entertainment. The man of the house, and his three or four sons came in, not all at the same time, to ask me all kinds of questions; like how much I make and if I am married and have any kids and why not. They seemed to think everything I said was hilarious, which amused me enough, especially when I noticed his daughters peeking at me through the windows. I sang them a few of the songs I wrote when I was in La Paz, which they loved, and the next day when I announced I was leaving, they all tried to make me stay. I got on the bus with my huge backpack and headed south.

The bus and most of the passengers seemed to be ancient, and they looked at me like I was an alien, which wasn't anything new to me, but I did feel strange to be bus bound. At the next small town there was a junction and I had to make a bus change. There I was mount Sajama, the biggest mountain in Bolivia, 6500 meters. It is a beautiful perfect cone mountain. I wanted to climb this mountain with those French kids, but the snotty ones didn't want me to come because they thought I was too much of a wasteoid. While we were waiting on the side of the road I thought it would be amusing to whip out all my money and count it before paying a shoe shiner boy. I had about five hundred dollars in small bills, because in my delusion in La Paz, I thought I would need it for my many months journey biking and climbing through the Bolivian outback. Little did I know how low on motivation I would turn out to be. I thought it would be funny going through a two-inch thick stack of money in front of all those people, but none of the Bolivians seemed to notice, but I did see a couple of Frenchies roll their eyes out of the corner of my eye. If you think this is dangerous, you don't know the peaceful nature of the Andean Indians.

The next town I got to was (?) a large town in the altiplanian wasteland, but it had some nice volcano-looking hills around. I only stayed there a few hours while I waited for my connection bus to take me to Potosi. While I was there I went to a restaurant and saw a telenovela, I don't know from what country. There was a hot girl who was overacting with her boyfriend problems and was being comforted by her fat friend. I remember thinking it was kind of lame the fat chick was put so bluntly on the sidelines. I tell you nobody makes TV like the good 'ol USA; music and movies too for that matter.

The bus ride to Potosi was nice, I could see the huge Salar de Yunui to the right for a large part of it. Then we got on an almost four wheel drive dirt road going over the almost 5,000 meter tundra to Potosi. Potosi is an interesting place. It is commonly known as the highest city in the world at 3800 meters, but according to my altitude watch, it is exactly as high as El Alto, the altiplano part of La Paz, which is bigger than Potosi. Potosi was founded in 1585 after the Spanish struck silver in the nearby 'Cerro Rico,' or 'Rich Hill'. It became the biggest city in South America, and was the richest for about 200 years. It is built up on the side of a hill, so all the roads were either up or down, including the central plaza. It was pretty apparent that Bolivians were poor by looking at this place. The infrastructure was underdeveloped, and it just seemed quiet overall and there weren't many tourists. I did the famous mine tour with four German kids from Munich (where most traveling Germans seem to come from). Our guide was a cheery young former miner whose English was quite good. The information he gave us was in conflict with what I read in my Lonely Planet book. In the book it says that the miners die an average of ten years after first setting foot in the mines of silicone poisoning, but the guide said they live an average of 60 years. He let us into large caverns for a couple hundred meters, and then we climbed down angled wooden beams another five or six layers; then got on our hands and knees and shimmied even farther down until we got into a steaming-hot room that was lined with this glowing, dripping, fluorescent-looking rock sap stuff. This was the silicone, the stuff that causes the room to be so hot, and give the miners the lung diseases that eventually kill them. He offered to lead us down even farther down a hole barely big enough to fit in that looked vertical, but we were with a 55 year old dude who didn't want to go. Not long after a gruff-looking group of miners hurried out with big cloths filled with rocks slung over their backs. One of them was about fifty years old, and he was next to a kid about thirteen. Our guide cheerily said the kid was the old dudes son. We shimmied back out of through the tunnel and another group came up behind us. This tunnel was barely big enough to go single file, but these miners were passing us like we were standing still, and they weren't being very courteous about it either. They passed us by whacking us on our heals and physically pushing us out of the way. They looked like they were in a race. Our guide said these miners make something like a hundred bucks a month which is more than doctors in Potosi make. But they make their money according to how much silver they mine.

When we got back into the main tunnel we were passed-up by another few groups of miners pushing little rail buckets filled with about a thousand pounds of silver ore. These guys didn't even bother to yell to get our attention, they just smashed their cart into our legs to force us out of the way. When we got outside, our guide took his T-shirt off and carried it off about a hundred yards and put it on a stick of dynamite to show us the kind of explosives the miners use. After about thirty seconds the T-shirt just disappeared into thin air, followed about second later by a deafening thunder which carried out like a computer generated echo as it bounced off all the other hills around and faded away. I remember thinking the entire city must have heard that dynamite go off.

The next day I did the tour in the mint that used to make the money for the entire Spanish new world empire. That museum was a real wake up call to the horrors of slavery. Eight million slaves have died in Potosi since it's founding, and none of the black slaves they imported or their descendants lived to tell the tell; according to the guide it was because black people can't take the cold. She showed us the place where the slaves stood for hours on end pressing the coins; we knew exactly where they stood because of the indention's their feet carved into the wood floor.

After Potosi I went to Yunui, the only real town that lined the great Salar de Yunui, the largest salt flat in the world. On the bus there I was talking to a friendly Bolivian guy who said some interesting stuff, but I don't remember what it was. When I got off the bus and grabbed by stuff, I saw a thin 16 year old Bolivian girl with huge tits walk buy with her friends, and then I walked across the street and looked to my left and saw an intense-looking bearded white man talking to a Chinese dude. I continued down along the central paseo and walked by a group of shit-faced dudes from Ireland, America, and Australia. They were amped and asked me why the hell I had a bike helmet strapped to my backpack, and then asked me to drink with them; so I sat down. Not long after a pretty blond German girl walked up to me and said she noticed my helmet and said her boyfriend was looking for someone to replace her on a tandem bike ride across the Altiplano to Chile. So I walked over and talked to the bearded man who was Sebastian. A 20 year old German dude who organized full sponsorship from a bunch of different bike-parts and mountain-gear companies for his "come with me" tour. His plan was to bike from La Paz to the southern tip of South America with about 12 different partners taking turns helping him ride his new tandem bike. He even had a website www.gobybike.com, and had already done a bike tour through Central Europe and Scandinavia, and two years beforehand had ridden his mountain bike with another German dude from his hometown to Beijing, China, the last day for 40 hours straight because he wanted to see his dad before he went back to Germany. He had just met a Swiss-German kid named Dan who had also just ridden his bike across the salar, and had ridden around Europe and Iceland.

Those guys wanted to leave the next day for the trip, but I hadn't seen the salar yet and wanted to do the one day tour, so they waited for me. The next day I did the tour in an old Toyota Land Cruiser, which is about the only car you see in the Bolivian antiplano. Because of the corrosivity of the salt, the tires have to be replaced every four months, but that didn't deter a constant flow of eighteen wheelers from going across it; not on a road, but a series of tracks that continually take turns being the choicest one depending on which one is the smoothest at any given moment. The first place we stopped on the tour was the edge of the salar, where the workers unload the trucks that collect the salt onto huge piles to later be shoveled onto larger trucks and taken off to be sold. I walked up to the shovelers and was about to take a photo but they looked at me scornfully and told me they wanted like five bucks to get their photo taken, so I walked back and took a photo from the distance. I would have said 'fuck you' and taken the photo anyway, but Indians all over the Americas are religiously apprehensive about getting their pictures taken; something about compromising their soul.

Then we drove in about an hour to a hotel that is made entirely out of salt. The walls, the floor, even the furniture is made out of salt. The people there were nice and didn't make us pay to take photos of it. Then we continued in about another hour and got to the Isla de Pascua, an island in the middle of the salar, littered with giant cactuses. The island had a really cool feel too it. The salt on the edge of it was broken up by all the tourist traffic, and resembled a nice beach that went on forever. I climbed to the top of the hill and looked around to the edges. It was definitely one of the most spectacular views I have ever experienced. The edges of the salar were way off in the distance, barely definable. And I could see snow-capped peaks in every direction, which made me want to climb them. I could see more Toyota Land Cruisers coming in, which looked like tiny specks. I spent the rest of the time there throwing rocks at cactuses with some of the drunk guys I met the day before. I heard one of them wasn't allowed on the train they took part of the way there because he was too drunk.

That night back in Yunui I went to the local movie theater, and saw a cheesily entertaining American 80's made for TV movie about a woman doing some kind of revenge thing against an evil army renegade with the help of a couple Indians who told her he had, "seen her in his visions about a white woman who would return and avenge the angry nature spirits of the land".

That night I hung out with Sebastian and got my bike shoes stolen out of my hotel room, which pissed me off because I wanted to attach my pedals to his bike for more power; little did I know we would not need it on the rough terrain that was to follow.

We rode on the gravel road out of town and past the massive train graveyard the next day, we were kind of huffing it to catch Dan who left the day beforehand, which felt good to be getting exercise again. We had way more gear on that bike that I ever thought you could pack. We had my 30 pound backpack that had everything you could possibly need to hike and live in snowcapped mountains, plus all of his bike gear and the camping gear that he brought which was for two people. So we had gear for three people. The bike must have weighed at least a hundred kilos. Not too many kilometers out of town the gravel road became sandy in spots and we had to push the bike a lot. We rode a few hours into the night and camped next to a river that we were going to have to wade through the next day.

The next day we rode about twelve kilometers until we noticed my crampons fell off the bike, so I rode back to the campsite, but someone had already grabbed them. That afternoon we arrived at a town and the locals said they met our friend who was waiting for us on a hill outside of town. Sebastian got Dan and brought him back and we hung out for a bit purifying water and entertaining the huge crowd of kids that had gathered around to watch us. We later on got used to having huge crowds of curious kids surround us at every town we arrived at, and started to enjoy different ways to entertain them. They are so easy to entertain. All you have to do is make monkey sounds or dance around like your having an epileptic seizure, and everyone would burst out laughing. Maybe everyone would burst out laughing too back home, but way out here with these strange Bolivian village folk, there was absolutely no embarrassment factor.

The first night with the three of us together, we camped out about a half mile away from a small town in the middle of nowhere and made a huge fire with all the dead branches. The town had a nice thatch roofed church. In that town we met a group of about 30 Italians who shipped their own four-wheel-drive vehicles over from Italy and where driving them as a club all around South America. They had old people lounging in chairs, young people, wives, and people on motorcycles.

The next day we rode over some hills and into a large valley where we camped. As we were packing up our stuff we saw the caravan of Italians cruise by. About an hour after we started riding we saw an adobe house with some kids playing outside, and about an hour later we arrived in another town. This town was interesting. It was pretty big, but in the middle of nowhere. It had dirt roads all over, and all the houses where adobe and thatched roofed. There was only one place open in the whole town where we could get water and buy food; and the only food they had was rice. A crowd gathered to watch us here to, but they weren't as outgoing, and Sebastian thought they were unfriendly.

From here we could see a snow-capped condor looking six thousand meter mountain to the west. In Bolivia and Peru a lot of mountains are called Condorini, because the Condor is a national animal, and a lot of mountains look like a flying condor, with a head mountain in the middle, flanked by two slightly lower mountains on either side. Not long after we rode out of town we started to climb, which was cool because I was finally getting some exercise. Until then most of the riding was really easy because we had to take it easy not to pinch the tire under all the weight we had. The road became pretty much four wheel drive, and the landscape became very pretty with the valley behind us and nice rock formations all around.

We camped out in a nook in the rock formations away from all the wind, and stayed up until about two next to a full-on bonfire. The next morning we were having some trouble with flats and decided we wanted to make a little more headway so we flagged down a truck to take us to where they were going. The first truck we flagged down picked us up, it had two guys and a girl. I got in the front with them and Sebastian and Dan got in the back with the bikes. They said the girl was the wife of one of the guys and was just there to keep them company for the ride. There were a lot of huge trucks outfitted to rough roads passing by that where filled with a certain type of cactus. It was empty when they picked us up because they were heading up to collect their load of cactuses. They had gotten up at about five o'clock and said it was a three hour drive to the place where they collected their load. They said it would take three hours to fill the truck, and then go back that night. They showed me where they were headed, the top of a mountain that looked about 5 thousand meters high. The kind of cactus they were looking for was all over the place, I can't remember what they used it for. I heard it took like a hundred years for them to grow, but these trucks were coming in like a steady train to collect them. I didn't have the heart to ask them how much money they made. It was kind of a pity we took the ride, because the part they took us was the best part in the whole trip to ride; the road was a smooth two track with a steady curving climbing. I tried talking to them but I could tell they weren't very outgoing. When they dropped us off at the base of the condor-looking mountain they stood there waiting for a donation, so we gave them a couple dollars and they seemed happy. They said there was a shelter way up at the base of the mountain, so we started to ride up there on another road that lead there, but Dan and Sebastian were tired and pitched a tent while I ran up a couple kilometers looking for the shelter which turned out to be way up there, so I went back.

The next morning at four or so Dan and I got up and hiked up while Sebastian stayed behind to watch the stuff. When the sun rose we were at about 5000 meters. It was a beautiful sunrise, slowly lighting up all of the salt plains and mountains. It was about then when we hit the steep part of the mountain and we climbed up the rocks next to the snow field because we didn't have crampons. We summited the 6000 meter peak at about eleven. It was a beautiful view. We could see the mountains just over to the west that formed the border with Chile, and the mountains in the South that were the border with Argentina, we saw a salt flat just to the south, and we even saw the great Salar de Yunui (?) kilometers to the north-east. We descended on a different ridge than the one we climbed up, with was a bad idea because we didn't have crampons and Dan didn't have an ice ax. We got to a place where we couldn't descend on the ridge so we had to go on the ice field which was about 60 degrees and more than a thousand meters down. If it had been me without the ice axe, I would have climbed to the top again and gone down the ridge, but Dan wasn't too scared so we opted for me to hack out foot holds for him while I was under him to catch him in case he slipped. When we got past the sketchy part, I took the backpack and slid on my ass to the base of the glacier and fell asleep until Dan caught up to me.

The next day we encountered another house where we could buy crackers and bread. From here it was (?) kilometers to Laguna Colorado, which was next place we could get water, so we stocked up. The guy who managed this place was very friendly. We rode for another couple hours and camped out at another lake, the first of a series of lakes before we were to start a steady climb that would lead us to a flat 5,000 meter desert. This lake had a high concentration of salt like all the lakes around there, but it had flamingos living in it. In the morning when we got close to take a picture, they all flew to the other side in a huge pink mass. On the other side of the lake were a couple of 6,000 meter peaks that were the boarder of Chile.

That morning we saw a lot of tourist trucks stop to see the famous flamingo lake. We saw some Chileans drive up in their own truck and get approached by a Bolivian ranger who turned them around. At this point Dan commented that that was because the Bolivians and Chileans don't like each other because of their historical boarder disputes. He said those mountains we were looking at on the other side of the lake were littered with land mines. He said me met a bike tourist who was riding on a road near the boarder and saw a Lama get blown away by one. I don't know how true that comment was, but it made me feel lucky about meeting those guys, because I was planning on hiking all over those mountains. As we were climbing up a hill away from the lake we dropped Dan, which is what we always did because we had extra power with two riders, and we passed a Land Cruiser. We waited for Dan at the top of the hill and he said one of the people in the truck was my German friend Marcus who recognized me. Realistically speaking, about 80% of the people we met in the Bolivian antiplano were Germans or Swiss-Germans. It was really strange.

After the lakes ended we started climbing up a valley that must have been about ten kilometers wide. We camped at about the top of the 5,000 meter "pass", if you could call it that because it was just a big sand dune, it was too sandy to ride, so we pushed for about an hour until the sun started to set and we saw a rock, the only rock for miles, to camp under. We felt lucky because it was getting really windy. The next morning we climbed about another hundred meters to the top of the pass and had our first descent for days. We were running low on bread so Sebastian and Dan flagged down some more tourist Land Cruisers for more food. At this point asking for food and water from the tourists was comical because we had asked so many times, it was beginning to be like a regular routine. If we got hungry instead of going in our bags, we just flagged down a truck and were given as much of whatever we wanted. It was so funny we had to try to keep from laughing when we asked for the food. Sebastian tried to get me to ask for it, but I always feel guilty asking for give-outs unless I am really desperate, so I let him take care of it.

Sebastian is really guilt free, when he wants something he asks, and the interesting thing is he gets. He had the perfect personality to organize a fully sponsored trip like this. More power to him is my attitude, I hoped one day I could one day ask like he does. So the trip was going really well, we didn't have to worry about food or water, and we were milking the wild quiet energy of that 5,000 meter desert. After descending we got to another large plain and started another steady climb for the whole day until we got back up over 5,000 meters, even higher than we were before. Because we were so high and we were in a flat desert with no mountains near by, it was getting to be ridiculously windy, but eerily quiet. Probably the strangest place I have ever been. The sun started to set, but we wanted to camp at the famous tree rock, and Dan's GPS told us it was only a couple kilometers away, so we continued in the direction the GPS told us. We had to trust the GPS because their was no one road. It was like the Salar de Yunui, just dozens of parallel tracks leading in the same general direction, and we knew the wouldn't all lead to the rock tree because some of the tours skip it. We didn't see anything in the direction the GPS told us, but we trusted it, and sure enough, the obscure bumps in the distance turned out to be the formation where the rock tree was. It was a beautiful camp sight, with large rocks everywhere, plenty to break the gale force winds and give us a peaceful campsite.

This night we all slept in my two man tent, which was very cramped. It snowed again that night, and we woke up to a couple on inches of snow. We climbed to the top of the rock tree and took some pictures, and then took off into so much wind at our backs that we barely had to pedal even though we were on a bike that had about 400 pounds and we were climbing. When we turned the wind was at our sides and we had to keep it at like a 30 degree angle to keep it balanced. The wind must have been going more than 70 miles an hour. We arrived at Laguna Colorado that evening, where we could buy some food and replenish our water. We camped at the side of the lake and decided to have a rest day. In the morning I took off to climb the 6,000 meter volcano that was next to the lake, but I made the mistake of running in my boots and got a bloody blister and had to go back. At this point Dan and Sebastian were starting to get on my nerves because they were talking to each other in German all the time; and I hate feeling like the odd man out, so I got really grumpy. Also, we found a new rip in the last rear tire we had and I told Sebastian I didn't think the bike would make it to Chile with me. So those guys went on a hike, and when they came back they asked me to leave. The next day they left late and I reserved the last seat in the last Land Cruiser to the boarder with Chile.

That night I sat around watching all the tourists eating their meals, and the hosts of the place felt sorry for me so they let me eat the left-over in the pots, which was more than enough to stuff me. While I was eating I overheard some tourists that were coming from the other direction talking about how they met a couple guys on bikes who asked them for bread, which gave me a chuckle.

One of the Bolivians that lived there told me that some terrorists killed some people in New York. I remember wondering why he would tell me that. It seemed odd. How could a Bolivian living hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town know, or even care about a couple terrorists killing a few people in New York? The driver of the truck I found said his group that was filled with Irish people (which was odd being that all the tourists there were German), was going to leave at five thirty in the morning, so I set my alarm clock for five, and double checked it and triple checked so it was activated. But it never went off, and I naturally woke up at six and freaked out thinking I missed my only chance of getting out of there that day, so I grabbed my clock and it was on and set for five, which baffled me. I franticly got dressed and ran out to the place they slept and luckily they hadn't left yet. So I went back and packed my stuff, but my clock had magically disappeared.

After Lake Colorado there was another big climb, but steep, that curved around to the other side of the mountain where I saw Dan and Sebastian's camp sight. They hadn't gotten up yet. In the truck I asked one of the Irish girls if she knew anything about the terrorist attack in New York, and she said some Arabian guys flew a couple planes into the world trade building and they completely collapsed. She said it like it was no big deal, and none of them were talking about it, so I didn't know whether to believe her or not, but I remember being anxious to get to town and find out if it was true.

Just about at the top of the 5,000 meter pass we stopped at a geyser that blew up like old faithful every minute or so. A couple hundred meters farther was a large area of small pools of bubbling mud. This was the highest we went on the trip, from there we descended to some hot springs that were on the edge of a green lake and soaked for about a half hour. Then we climbed into the land cruiser and were one of the first in the entourage of about twenty land cruisers to leave. Our driver got into a race with one of the other land cruisers. They were taking different tracks and hoping it was the quickest at the time. We won. Then we went to another lake that was so salty it has huge salt foam waving up against the shore. This lake was at about 5,000 meters too, and at the base of a 5,900 meter mountain called Lincanbur which didn't look very big from where we were. It was so cold and windy up there most of the people didn't even want to get out of the cars. Then we climbed some more until the boarder with Chile where we got into another van. We descended down a dirt road for a little bit, and then it turned to a nice paved road that descended down to the town of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

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After Argentina

When I looked out of the window of the bus when we arrived in Santiago, I immediately noticed how much different it was from Buenos Aires. I had forgotten how dry it was, kind of like a desert. I noticed again how much more similar the landscape of Chili was to Peru.

I had a huge backpack and a bike with one wheel so I decided I would take the taxi to the hotel instead of the subway. I knew where I would go, Nuevo Valparaiso, the hands down best choice for the budget traveler in Santiago because it is only two blocks from the central paseo (mall, or walking street), is only three thousand pesos a night, has big rooms with high ceilings and big windows, a kitchen, and a cool common area with a cable TV.

I remember not really being in the mood to hang out with anyone and meet people, because I really wanted a job and had been traveling for so long I just wanted to settle down. But unlike the year before, this time the hotel was full of tourists. I met an Australian couple the first two nights I was there, and then almost at the same time, three more people, Dave, Jonathan, and Rick showed up. Dave was a computer engineer from San Francisco who grew up in New York, and had been traveling through South America for the last few months, Jonathan from Dublin, had been traveling a few months and was looking for English teaching work also, Rick was an older English guy who was very interesting, but talked forever in a monotone voice. He was talking about teaching English also. I Immediately was hanging out with those three guys a lot, watching TV, and sharing the weed I brought from Argentina with them. After a couple days I noticed there were three other gringos staying there. Julius, a 24 year old computer marketer from San Francisco who lost his job when the technology market bottomed out and had been traveling off unemployment in South America for a while, and for the last two months, been working on a non profit computer educational project for the last two months with Eddie, a 43 year old (although he looked 33) computer programmer who was also from San Francisco. There was an English girl there also named Corrine, who I didn't see very much because she had a job as an office manager and a Chilean boyfriend.

It took me about two weeks to start looking for a job, because I wanted to move into my room first, organizing stuff and settling in. I was also totally unmotivated because of being too used to just traveling and smoking too much pot. But when I finally looked in the Yellow Pages and looked on Dave's Cafe to see which institutes were recommended, I decided to go to a place called Polyglot that was close to my hotel, as I was planning on staying at that hotel for my entire time in Santiago. The place was owned by an old German guy, but the guy that did the hiring there, Jose, said that he had some classes for me because a Canadian guy who had the class for a month suddenly got his dream job at home and had to suddenly go. Jose was very nice, and said I should just do my best to just make them happy, and if I didn't mix with them that was OK because teachers don't always get along with the students. He asked me to call the teacher to ask him what he was doing in the class. He didn't say much, just that the students had their good days and bad days, that they were shy, and the last thing he had taught them were contractions. It was a pretty good schedule, eight to twelve thirty Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, with another class Mondays and Fridays way out on the outskirts in the same general direction. Jose was dressed immaculately, which I couldn't help but notice, so I asked him if I should wear a tie to the classes; but he said it was unnecessary. I rode my bike out to the class and found it was divided into three consecutive classes, from 8-9:30, with the boss who could speak English well, so we just talked, then from 9:30-11:00 with a group of three, two very basic women and an intermediate man, then two women who were intermediate until 12:30.

I immediately found that teaching Chileans was a lot different and more difficult than Argentineans or Koreans. Not only were they more basic, but they seemed to not have any personalities. They didn't seem to have opinions about anything, I had to totally lead them like they were young obedient children. The final group of two women I had was a nightmare; they had their grammar down well, but they absolutely refused to speak any English. The book we were using, New Interchange, was designed to urge the students to speak, by asking personal questions, and questions asking them to explain specific things, but they would just look at me and answer them like they were yes or no questions.

The next class I had on the outskirts were for a young banker who could already speak English, so we just did conversation, which was pretty much the only way I knew how to teach advanced students at the time.

Around the same time Jonathan got a job with an institute called Executive Business Solutions with an American owner, and for the first week or so seemed to be enjoying it. He said he was teaching powerful executives who were very good at English and showed me a big collection of materials they gave him to work with. Jonathan had taught English for three years in Barcelona, so he was experienced in teaching and living in a Latin society; and he didn't like Santiago at all. He said his students were always late and had no personalities. Jonathan was a very boisterous, loud Irish ex boxer with a lot of personality; the kind of guy who yells your name when you come in the room. So when we out on the town he would yell greetings and crack jokes, but the Chileans didn't really respond and never laughed at his jokes. So he started complaining about how Chileans are the dullest and dumbest people around, and started to get grumpy about working too much and decided he only wanted to stay there a month. Later when he was leaving he got in a big fight with his boss over being paid late and other unfulfilled promises, and the guy threatened to call the cops on him if he didn't get out right away.

I had a good time hanging out with my hotel buddies for a couple of weeks, then Dave went traveling to Israel and Europe, and Rick went to Argentina to travel with his friend and never came back.

Then a few days before Jonathan left an American kid, showed up at the hostel, and was talking about teaching skiing there for the winter. At that time I had hardly even thought of the fact that there were ski resorts right there, but I got more excited about it the more he was talking about how good of a year it was going to be because of all the rain.

A huge rain storm came, the biggest in years. It was raining heavily for like a week. It was so bad only the buses could get through bits of it because the road had turned to a river. At one point trying to get to work, I had to wade through a hundred meters of water that was above the seat of my bike. When I arrived at the company where I give the classes, I was soaking and my students looked at me like I was nuts and said they didn't want classes and they thought they didn't have to call because there was no way I would come. This is an example of how lazy Chileans are. But we wouldn't have been able to have the classes anyway because the inside of the building was raining too with constant drops of rain falling on the desks and entire rooms having to be evacuated. The building was obviously not built with rain in mind. Then I went to my other class and got the same reaction from my other student. It was raining so much the river was only a couple feet under the bridges, which says a lot considering just a couple days before they were building a new road in the place of the river because the notch they made for it was way too big for it to ever be able to occupy it, or so they thought. I could tell this was very unusual for Santiago because Chileans everywhere were laughing in amazement as they were running through the streets trying to get away from the wetness. I remember my friends commenting on how it seemed to have brought personality out of the Chileans.

We had made it a habit to go out to the discos every Friday and Saturday night. It seemed like my friends lived for Friday and Saturday night and I was almost as excited too. I had gotten accustomed to drinking Pisco, the national alcoholic drink of Peru and Chile which is a hard alcohol with a strong taste that has a similar effect on me as Tequila, except makes me more aggressive than any other drink I have ever had, but gives you a pretty bad hangover the next day. One day I got totally sloshed on that stuff before going out and was yelling at Jonathan just because he didn't believe aliens built the pyramids and I though they did, then we got a taxi and I yelled at the driver because I thought he was driving us in the wrong direction so he kicked us out so we had to take the bus to Suiza, the smaller Disney land-like disco section. Just as soon as I stepped in, all I remember is a Chilean girl grabbing me and dancing all dirty like with me and kissing me, so I kept grabbing her hand making her grab my dick and her immediately pulling me in the back where there weren't many people. But buy then I wasn't horny anymore so I was just dancing. So after a few minutes she would pull me back out into the open and I would get worked up again and make her grab my dick, so she would pull me in the back again. I remember this happening over and over again the whole night until the place closed at 5. Jonathan and he went home, but I noticed the tall English dude Jim was still there and had found a hot young girl, but he didn't leave with her because he couldn't speak any Spanish. I left with him and this girl and we walked a few blocks up and saw the England verses Sweden world cup, which was a tie. Then we got in the bus to go home and she kept telling me she wasn't going to go home with me, not like I was asking her, but when the bus stopped at our place, she got out with me and came into my room. She made a comment about the messiness of my room and I said we should take a shower, but she said I should take one first and then her, and I said no together, and she said no you first, so I said ok you first and she said no you first and I said no. Finally she said, "What's the problem, you don't trust me?", and I said no. So she left and I walked her to the bus stop.

A few days later I went out with him and he met a girl Sandra. She came up to him and said she saw him in the subway that day and they started dancing. When the place closed at five they left together and she was with a friend Paula, who I started talking to when I noticed he and Sandra were kissing. Next thing know this punk knocks my feet out from under me, so I got up and grabbed him and was about to throw him down but three of his friends ran up and told me to back off. We figured they were jealous. Then we got in the taxi and I immediately noticed that Paula was nuts and drunk as hell, babbling at the top of her lungs. We got back to the hotel and I was still really drunk so I grabbed Paula to take her to my room, but she didn't want to, so we went to his room and Paula continued to scream nonsense uncontrollably for a couple minutes until Matt, a computer programmer from Sydney busted in furious yelling at us to "Shut that girl up". So I walked her home, which was only about four blocks away, and she bought me a hotdog.

So now he had a girlfriend and we went out a few more times and hung out at that girl Paula's' (who now we called 'crazy Paula) a couple times. One time with Julius and a Japanese girl who could only speak Spanish who I had given a Thai massage to earlier. When we left the Japanese girl was sloshed and babbling nonstop, which was a total 180 degree change from when she was sober. The next morning he asked me, "Did you fuck her, did you fuck her, she was so drunk, did you fuck her?" So I started to have the feeling he was cheesy. But it was at this time he had gotten a job at a ski shop fixing skis and giving ski lessons four days a week, and because he also had a girlfriend he felt like he was on a roll and wanted to get an apartment with me really close to his work so he could use it to get more girls and not have to travel too far to get to the ski shop. I told him outright I wasn't interested because the area he wanted to live was too far from the center that I liked and was too expensive, in the rich part of town. But he was a manipulative kid and kept pressuring me and repeatedly asking me to, telling me how cool it would be and not really that much more expensive and he could hook me up with ski rental deals and rides up to the mountain. So after a week or so I thought, what the hell, I have never rented an apartment in a foreign country before, and maybe he could get me a hookup for the skiing. So I agreed to just look around with him, and on the first day we found an apartment on the top sixth floor on the corner of the building with a porch that faced the virgin, and a huge window facing the mountains with no obstruction because the Japanese embassy garden was just in front. Plus it had a big garden outside of our window and was just four blocks from the Suiza discos. I instantly fell in love with the place, so I agreed to get it.

I never felt like I clicked with this kid because he just seemed like another uneducated, dumb, American hippy-bigot hypocrite. But he had an energetic personality and was always sharing his feelings and telling stories and was fun loving. About the same time we moved in Jose called me and said the boring students I had called and asked for a Chilean teacher, which I agreed with, so I decided it was time to look for more work at some more institutes. I went to a place called Sam Marselli, which was only two blocks from my place and offered a predictable full time schedule so figured I would take that. But Sam said I had to start working immediately, so I gave Polyglot one week notice on the two hours a week I had left with them, which was all I could do. But when I went in the next Monday I asked to see one of their classes and they said they didn't let new teachers watch classes before hiring them. That sounded wacky to me so I left and went to another institute, Class Center, which immediately gave me six hours a week at seven thousand pesos an hour which was really good, and all the classes were in the IRS building right in the center of town. But it wasn't a full schedule so I had to keep looking. I called up Polyglot, but they were moving that day so I left a message on their machine telling them I could take that class back. But they never called me back. I felt guilty giving them only a one week notice so I didn't call them back and decided to look for hours at one of the other 70 institutes in town. But it was at this time I noticed that the English teaching market is really competitive, both for the institutes and the teachers who work for them. A lot of institutes will hire anybody, but the ones that can fill up your schedule and pay well only take really experienced teachers, and I quickly realized that I wasn't that experienced as far as teaching basic adults was concerned; so a lot of institutes didn't want me. After a month or so I got a job with an American guy Doug Day, who lived in Boulder Colorado for twenty years. He gave me a class to substitute for another teacher, but for the first class I forgot to bring my backpack, and the woman freaked out and called him and everybody made a big deal out of it, then a couple weeks later I forgot the class altogether, which, according to him caused him to lose his account with the whole company so he fired me. I got hooked up with another institute, Mitfurd, that is right in the center of town only two blocks from the IRS building. Right now I have a great schedule, all of my classes are with Class Center at the IRS building. I have a guy from 9-10 five days a week, and then, 12:30-2:00 and 5:30-7:00 Monday-Thursday, and they're all groups, which never cancel, and a private, which means I have about 15 hours a week 9 of which are groups, which is awesome. And they are all close and pay better than anywhere else. so I'm happy.

Just about as soon as we moved in to the apartment his personality changed and he stopped acting like a happy go lucky good hearted guy and started basically being a pain in the ass. Mainly the classic shit like not doing his dishes and blaming me for not doing mine. When we first moved in he was telling me about how the Chileans he worked with were all coke heads and he could tell in their personalities how they were always talking shit about each other and freaking out. And that his brother wasted his money and driven to insanity from cocaine and he was never going to get into it. But he got into the habit of coming back every night at 10:30 or 11:00 and getting up at six every morning, so he must have been doing cocaine.

But we where getting along fine for about a month, when one night my friend Roberto called me and said he met an English girl who was looking for English teaching work and wanted to know if I could help her out. Roberto is the Chilean friend of mine who I was hanging out with in Pucon for a few days a year earlier. He was selling his instruments one day in the fish market when he saw me sitting down eating and we recognized each other and started hanging out again. I happened to be near when he called me so I met him and he took me to a blond 27 year old English girl named Joanna Bell selling jewelry outside at a McDonalds table. She had been traveling around the world for five years and had been in Latin America for like three years so far, and had supposedly been paying for it by selling jewelry. She said sometimes she made more than ten dollars an hour doing that in Latin America. I suspected that wasn't her only gig though. I think she was also prostituting herself because she was staying with Roberto in his tiny room in exchange for free rent. Roberto told me he had slept with like 20 American and European girls and even had an Australian girlfriend who he was going to visit. As soon as she moved in with us she didn't want to talk to him anymore which I thought was weird. Later I realized it's because she sleeps with guys for free stuff and then leaves them all angry with them for defiling her or something like that. She told me that when he slept with her he was spooning her and poking her all night which was annoying. When I was telling her about the English teaching scene I offered to take her to my apartment to give her a bunch of my English teaching material to look at and she looked at me in a creepy distrustful way and said, "But that's ALL we're going to do, righ"? I remember thinking to myself, "What's wrong with this girl? I'm an American. I'm not some creepy horny Latin guy". Then she asked me if I knew a kid from Montana, I said "him?" and she said "yes!". They had been hanging out a couple years earlier in Guatemala city working at an orphanage. He had told me about her before and I had already said it was ok for her to stay with us and I invited her to come over. So she excitedly got her stuff and came over and we waited until about 11:00 when he came back with a young American college girl. He and she talked among themselves, so Roberto and I talked to the girl for a half hour or so.

The next morning I took her to an institute I had interviewed with the day before that was only a couple blocks away from the house. I didn't take the job there because the pay wasn't that good, only 4300 an hour, but it was a good place to start out. Then I gave her directions to another place that teaches kids that was only a couple of blocks away which is what she was looking for. And also at this time there was an opening for a class at the place I worked for because the girl went on vacation without telling the people at the institute so they needed a replacement fast. And through this class she got two more privates. So she was doing well which made me happy for hooking her up and helping her get on her feet to be able to get her own place before too long. She arrived in Santiago with nothing and was living in the local homeless shelter for a few days until my friend Roberto invited her to stay with him for a night. She has been traveling for the last four years in Latin America buy hitch hiking and selling jewelry, which at the time I thought was a pretty cool way to travel; until I realized that she is just an ungrateful user. I welcomed this girl with open arms hoping there would be no problems because I was cool for letting her stay there for free. I even let her stay in the living room where I lived and continued to let him sleep in his bedroom by himself. But as his personality began to deteriorate I think due to the cocaine, he began to act selfish, greedy, and paranoid. Now, according to him, it seemed like it was he and she who lived there and I was the third wheel. And being a third wheel happens to be a real pet peeve of mine. He apparently was angry with me because I hadn't been buying enough weed. But I didn't have any money to buy weed, I didn't really want to buy weed because I was trying to get the English teaching going, and I only bought weed in dollar fifty packets, and buy the time he came back I never had any. But even though he only got me high about once a week, in his paranoid mind, I was holding back on him. And it didn't take long for her to notice this, so she began to have an attitude with me also; trying to tell me that I was in fact the ungrateful user and not her.

It didn't take me long to realize that she was just a user. When she first moved in she told me she was a massuese so i told her that I was a Thai Massuere and we should do a trade. So i gave her a Thai Massage but then she didn't want to give me a massage. At first she said she would only do it if I got this certain kid of creme, so I went out and go that and brought it back. But she flat out refused to give me a massage. I asked her every day for a few days, but then we had the falling out and I never asked her again. I guess she just told me she would give me a massage so she could get a free Thai Massage and then chince out on me. Or maybe she wasn't really a massuese and just gave guys massages to guys she used to get free stuff as part of her prostitution gig and just didn't feel like she could get anything more out of me than she already did. At the end he had finally realized what she was all about. I was surprised one day when he actually told said something like, "I noticed something about she that I didn't notice before that I didn't like. She just puts her hand out". I didn't say anything. This girl was a classic Vixen. She came from a rich family with two much older brothers. One was a race car clutch engineer in Australia and the other bought and sold houses in England, and her parents had a bar/hotel. They must have been giving her a travel allowance at least intermitently because she flew from Asia to Latin America. But who knows, maybe if you work hard enough you can make that kind of money selling jewelry on the street. When I talked to her briefly the next winter she told me she had just returned from a two week vacation in England and there's no way she could have afforded that on an English teaching salary in Chile. Untell of course she was living rent free with her new boyfriend Rodrido which was entirely possible. I was on speaking terms with this girl for about the first week and a half that she was squatting at my place and I remember her telling me about a couple of Peruvian guys she worked with in a bar in Cuzco who hated her and how she made her dad cry a day beforehand because she refused to talk to him on a call to her mom because she was pissed that he wasn't happy about her traveling or something like that; and she said it in a really weird way. Like it was a victory for her. I saw her kind acting kind of abusively towards him one day but I don't remember what she said. She was snapping at him about something. I just remember him standing there. At this point there was no way he was going to become angry with her because he was using all of his energy hating me. The next winter I saw Rodrigo angrily yelling at her as she was checking tickets for people, so I guess he was getting sick of her by then. At the end though it was clear to me that she really needed a break from whatever kind of squalid existence she was living in and probably needed to go skiing more than I did.

The whole thing was weird. I though I was being really cool for allowing her to live there for free. She was there for two months and only paid us like $50 and gave us a small bottle of dish washing detergent. She didn't even buy weed once, which only costed a little over a dollar. At first she was talking trash to me about him, saying that she caught him smoking dope by himself in the closet and that was "sad" he didn't share. They were going out to eat and stuff and not inviting me which didn't bother me, but one nigt before they went out I was sitting there working and she goes, "What's your problem Kyle. Why did you ignore me when I asked you if you wanted to come out with us"? I told her I didn't hear her but she didn't believe me. One day I heard him tell her about a laundry room in the building where she could wash her clothes. I remember telling him that I had been using a laundry service the whole time and complaining to him that the ladies there mucked up my North Face jacket and he never said anything about the laundry room in the building. He just didn't want me to know about it. Then one night they were out on the porch hanging out and I walked out there and for some reason completely mysterious to me they seemed to be scowling at me, and I asked them if they wanted to smoke weed and they didn't answer me. They just ignored me. So I told them I was going to the disco area and look for weed for us to smoke and they didn't say anything. I didn't find anything and when I came back a few minutes later I walked out on the porch and there was all this Marijuana smoke in the air and I saw him put his smoking pipe under something and they just sat there not talking and waiting for me to leave; so I said, "Ooohhh Kaaay," and closed the door and went back into my room and layed on my bed. Then he opened the sliding door. It was in the middle of winter at night and was cold out and I was in my shorts so I told him I wanted the door closed because I was in my shorts and closed it, but as soon as I layed down he opened it again. I got up and told him that it was cold and I really wanted the door closed but he kept opening it and we had this back and forth a few times until he finally stopped opening the door. After they were done smoking their weed they went into their room and I heard them talking trash about me. I should have listened exactly what they were saying so I could remember all of it, but I snapped and opened the door and told them I could hear them and pretty much told them off and said "you too girl". They started laughing at me and I told them to stop laughing. That they were ganging up on me and it pissed me off. They didn't argue with me. All I remember him say was that they weren't ganging up on me. Then I went to bed. But the next day things were totally different because now both of them were totally furious with me and completely ignoring me. One day she printed a page about Rastafarianism and was showing it to him, because they were into that and he liked Reggae. I picked up the page and was leaving the room and she said, "Hey where are you going with that?" and I told her I was just going to the copy place to copy it si I could read it and she goes, "Hurry up!".

It was about this time that I was getting together with my girlfriend Paula (not crazy Paula, another friend of Sandra's). The first time I met her was when I went out to a bar in Suiza with him and Sandra, and met her with her boyfriend at the time, a 40 year old Norwegian mathematician who comes down to Santiago regularly. A couple weeks later when her boyfriend had gone back to Norway, Sandra brought her friend over, and Paula and I hit it off and she slept with me. One night, which was the first and only time the four of us (he and Sandra, and Paula and I) were together, Paula and Sandra came over and we were drinking and hanging out, and Sandra gave him a small glass pipe used to hold joints, but what I thought was a one hitter. I asked him if I could hold it, but in his anger (which I can only assume is because I hadn't bought my share of weed) said no. This made me really angry so I yelled at him to "Just let me hold it", until he finally did to shut me up. I proceeded to pack weed into it to pass it around, but he grabbed it from me, I guess he wanted to de-virgenize it, which in retrospect is understandable, but this infuriated him. He went in the other room with she to talk shit about me and came out and screamed "No respect!" at the top of his lungs. I felt it was time for us all to get stoned so I offered to pack a bowl for everybody with his glass pipe but he was still furious with me and refused; so I asked she to take out her pipe but she too refused, so I got my pipe, which traditionally had always been a pop can, and until then he had refused to smoke out of, and thankfully he and she accepted and smoked it. Sandra seemed to think all of this was rather funny and said she wanted to take a picture of us "angry". After we smoked my girlfriend took me aside and was telling me I looked really sexy, this was the first time she had really come on to me in a provocative way as we hadn't had sex yet. And curiously enough, she had no clue there was bad energy between he and she and I. I wasn't too bothered anymore as I was drunk and stoned, and when he and Sandra went to bed in his room and tried to have a friendly conversation with him but he was so furious he couldn't even talk. And I had a ominous feeling that our friendly relationship was over.

About a week later, he announced that his English snow boarding friend Dan was going to stay with us for a while. A couple weeks before my friend Dave from hotel Valparaiso had come back from his European tour and was staying at the hotel. He was lonely as there were no tourists there and his Spanish wasn't that good yet. I originally didn't invite him to stay with us because I figured that four people staying in the small apartment would be too much, but now that he had two friends staying there for who knows how long, I decided to invite Dave over. This really pissed him off and he immediately said we should start making our guests pay. But I said, "Barter man, that's how its done here". His friend ended up staying there for two weeks, but they didn't hang out much at the place to avoid me. That's one reason I think he got even more pissed off when Dave moved in, because Dave and I were spending more time there than he and his gang where, and he may have felt jipped Even though I had bought 100 percent of the furniture, 100 percent of the cleaning, and paid 100 percent of the bills, which I had to go to three different places all over town for each month.

I remember it got real bad the first day she went snowboarding. They came back one night with his snowboard friends and they were laughing and talking about their day at the mountain and completely ignoring me, and I was thinking "Oh man this is bad. I haven't even been up once because I haven't had the money. And now she who is staying here for free has gone up before me." In the end I only went skiing that year once and it wasn't with them. She got to go like 30 times because this other English guy Dan was invited to stay there for two weeks gave his season pass to she when he left. He announced he would do it right in front of me after I said something in frustration to him, and he said "You do that!"

When Dan left two weeks later he didn't pay anything, but bought him a radio. And when she finally left after staying with us for more than two months, she offered to pay us about fifty bucks. Which worked out to 454 pesos a day, there are 720 pesos to the dollar. So I worked this figure out and said that Dave would therefore pay 454 pesos a day to live with us, which he and she tried in vain to argue. She wasn't living there anymore but she was still hanging out there. For some crazy reason they were trying to get Dave to pay more than she paid. She and he were acting hostily towards Dave also. Neither of them ever talked to us. One night Dave tried to strike up a conversation with her by asking her how the day of skiiing was and she snapped, "It's not skiing, it's snowboarding!" and that was that with the conversation. That was the only time I actually remember them exchanging words.

It was really weird because there were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment but two groups who literally never spoke with each other. It was a tiny living room and a bedroom with one bathroom and a tiny kitchen attatched to the living room that was so small it didn't even had a regrigerator or a stove. she was using my camping stove and cursing it every morning. I remember one really strange episode when he came over with Ariel, who was actually a really cool Chilean snowboarder friend of his. He was there getting his stuff ready to go somewhere with him for like 20 minutes and we literally didn't say one thing to each other the whole time. No hello or goodbye or anything, and Ariel was standing there looking kind of freaked out. I saw Ariel the next year when I went skiing and he said in a disgusted tone that he wasn't keeping in touch with him "at all". When I went skiing that year I saw her there. She had gotten together with his friend Rodrigo and I think she was staying at his apartment and working at the ticket checker on the bus he drove to the ski resort every day. I was curious if they would let he ride up for free because I let her stay at my apartment for two months, and Rodrigo for nine days, but they charged me. he and she had done a good job of turning all of their snowboard friends against me. When I went skiing that day I asked Rodrigo if you could ski down this certain face on the mountain and he just scowled at me that I should ask someone who knows and walked off. He sayed with us for nine days the year before and deliberately broke out a huge bag of weed for him and he and she to smoke so I could see they weren't going to share it with me right as I was leaving the apartment. One time we were all there and Rodrigo asked me if we were "Friends or enemies," and I asked him why he asked me that and what he and she told him but he didnt' want to answer me. Sandra told me he was telling all of them that Dave and I were gay, which in Chile is considered a big insult. One night he, she, Rodrigo, Ariel, and a Chilean woman who worked with them came over to do Cocaine in the bathroom with Dave and I in the living room just boggling over how they could totally ignore us like that. At one point the woman closed my bedroom door and locked it so we started knocking on it and Dave took out his credit card and sliced it open and she was standing there on the other side grinning at us. They were making all this noise. Every time someone took a sniff they would all yell as loud as they could and we had the impression they were trying to make us jealous. That was when Cecilia was staying with us, who was Sandra's friend. Cecilia told us they were acting like total assholes and walked into their midst and was trying to get them to share a joint they were smoking with us but they didn't want to invite us over, but they shared it with her and when she had it she walked it over to us in the living room and let us have a hit and they all stopped talking and were watching us. The next day he was telling me he hated Cecilia and wanted her out of the apartment. She stayed with us for three days. His girlfriend Sandra brought her back one night at four in the morning after dancing at the disco to sleep with Dave but she got in bed with me instead and screwed me for three days. She claimed that she screwed him too but he never said anything. That doesn't mean he didn't though because we weren't speaking to each other at all. She was doing a whole lot of trash talking about me also because my girlfriend Paola told me that she told her that I was a total asshole and was trying to get her to break up with me. She was also bragging to us one day about how the English guy Dan gave her the season pass. Bragging about how much skiing they were doing was pretty much the only thing they said to me. I never took the bait though. After it became blatantly obviouse that they were after me I just threw up my arms and decided to just let them run as wild as they wanted without confronting them at all and just play it cool. I wasn't really that upset at the time because I was hanging out with Dave and Paola and Dave and I were spending a lot more time at the apartment than they were. As time went on and I looked back on it I was angrier with myself for not confronting them more though. They were just so out of their minds that even though they were going snowboarding every day I kind of felt sorry for them. she had told me her travels had been "screwed up" until then and he was a total emotional wreck. They were doing some really weird stuff. One night they were smoking a joint on the porch, and I think it was hers because they actually let me take one hit off of it right before it burned out. He never said a single thing to me the whole time but as I was about to put it in my picket and she says, "What are you doing?" I told her I was going to save it for later but she goes, "Throw it over the porch. You have to give back". So I did that to make her happy and just pick it up later but when I went down there it wasn't there which kind of pissed me off at myself for listening to her. Any normal person would have said something like "Look who's talking, the biggest user in the world". But I was acting nice and looking right at him to see if he noticed, but he was just staring at the distance looking angry. He didn't even look at me the whole time. He would also have these crazy flair ups at me. Tne weirdest episode was one day I was taking a shit and he started trying to get in the bathroom and was shaking the handle and banging on the door and screaming at me, "Get the hell out of the batroom you fucking asshole right now! Get out get out get out!" So I calmly said, "Dude I'm taking a shit. Shit is coming out of my ass right now as we speak, which was the truth". But he just kept hysterically screaming at me. One other time he completely flipped out on me. He was hysterical. I don't remember exactly what he said. At I remember is he screamed "Asshole!" at me and told me I was a complete mental case, which I thought was kind of funny at the time because he was so out of his mind. Another time I was on my bed reading or something and he was on his cell phone and with his shoes on and walked onto my bed right next to me and was looking out the window that was behind me and I asked him to please not walk on my bed with his shoes on and he started jumping up and down on my bed going "Fuck you! Look I'm jumping on you bed, I'm jumping on your bed!"

Another weird situation I had with him was one night I went out for pizza to meet a mutual friend of ours from Hotel Valparaiso where we were all staying before because he wanted to stay with us while he was visiting Chile on business. While we were eating he was bragging to me about how all of the Chileans were so amazed with how good of a skiier and snowboarder he was and they were all going "Who is this guy?" and then almost in the same breath goes, "Hey Julious can't stay at the apartment with us". So I said, "Dude I just talked to him, he's going ot meet us in five minutes and he has all of his stuff and he's only going to be here for four days. He's your friend too. Are you really going to turn him around now?" And he just said, "Yeah we've had too many people staying over at our apartment and I want peace and quiet. I didn't argue him on it. When Julious came the first thing he did was thank us for allowing him to hang out with us and told us that he was going to try to hook us up with a free night at the ski resort hotel through someone he knew and offered to give him an extra cell phone he had, but he just said he didn't want him to stay there because he wanted his peace and quiet. The next week he invited his freind Rodrigo to stay at our apartment for nine days. When he moved out and wanted his deposit money from me, as I was going to stay there one more month, I charged him for the nine days that Rodrigo stayed there for the amount that Dave and she paid when they were there and he became furious with me and told me that "friends stay for free". At that point I reminded him that his friend she stayed there for two months, his friend Dan stayed there for two weeks, his friend Rodrigo stayed there for nine days, my friend Dave was only there for one month, and he didn't even let Julious stay there even though he's his friend too, he offered him a cell phone, and he was only there for four days. He got really upset with me and interupted me denying that he banned Julious from staying there. he said Rodrigo had to stay with us because his wife kicked him out of the house. Rodrigo had a couple of kids, but for the last couple of months was with her. I only know that from seeing them cuddle at my apartment and from what Sandra told me. I wasn't on speaking terms with them enough to gather any of this information from them. I think Rodrigo being with her was one reason he was so hostile towards me.

Part of all that crazyness was from the Cocaine but he was a total dick right from the beginning. When we first moved in he accused me of making a mess of the kitchen counter and that I needed to have respect for it, but all that was there was some water. He was also asking to borrow my cell phone all the time and I kept asking him to hit the hang up button once so i could see how many minutes he used so i would know how much to charge him because calls were expensive there, but he always hit it twice. I would repeatedly ask him while he was still talking to hit it once but he would always hit it twice. When I asked him why he hit it twice he would just ignore me. I even knew he was an asshole in the very beginning at the hotel when he went out for a pitcher of beer with us one day and deliberately swigged his beer before filling it up all the way again with the last of it, leaving him with two beers and everybody else with one. I was the only one who noticed and of course I didn't say anything but I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "This guy is a dick. Stay the fuck away from him". But alas, I got seduced by this promise to hook me up with his snowboard buddies free skiis and rides up to the mountain, and that apartment that I thought was so cool.

When she left he started acting really vindictive. One day Dave lost his key and asked him if he could borrow his for five minutes to make a copy, but he said no because it was my responsibility to do it. At this point he was getting more and more aggressive and it seemed like he was getting clinically schizophrenic. Sandra came over telling us that he had called her a bunch of times asking her to come over. My girlfriend was there too so she decided to hand out with us and wait for him. A couple hours after she arrived he called me on my cell phone so I immediately gave it to Sandra, thinking he wanted to talk to her. But after a couple of seconds she gave it back to me, and he yelled at me that I shouldn't have given it to her and what was I trying to play at, he wanted to talk to me. He just wanted to know if I was there and if I was leaving, I said no. Sandra waited a couple more hours and I could see she felt dejected. So we drank a little more and Dave pulled me in the other room and told me that Sandra was all over him and asked me what he should do. I said "go for it". So a couple seconds later they were passionately making out, so I started making out with Paula. At about three or four we went to bed. Paula and I in my bed and Sandra and Dave in Dave's sofa bed next to mine, although they were clothed. At about 4:30 he and a Chilean girl Jasmine came back and they went to the bathroom. I was hoping he wouldn't get too pissed off to see Dave and Sandra in bed together, but then I though, 'why should I, he just brought a girl back'. Then we heard them having loud sex in the room next door and I though, 'hell of a way to break up with a girl, if he even knows what he is doing'. After a few moments Sandra decided she had had enough and stormed into the living room and started screaming at him, telling him he was a coke head and had no respect and just wanted to fuck as many girls as he could. In the morning he was gone, and instead of it being he and Sandra and Kyle and Paula, it was Dave and Sandra and Kyle and Paula.

That day happened to be one of the days in the independence weekend surrounding September 18th. And there was going to be a reggae concert in a suburb of Santiago performed by the biggest Reggae band in Chile, Gondwana, who's manager was Sandra's' brother. And all of Sandra's' family was going to be there. The concert was great, but kind of awkward when we had to sneak away from the crowd with Sandra's sister and nephew to smoke weed and drink Pisco. Throughout the whole concert girls were climbing up on the stage and hugging and kissing the lead singer, Kiko, Paula being one of them. At the end of the concert we stood in a big line to meet the band. When we had our turn to go to the back, Kiko asked us where we were from and signed a little paper for Paula and I. Most of the groupies were kids. The band members were just sitting in the back minding their own business. I was kind of surprised they weren't getting any of the attention.

I think another reason he was so bent out of shape the whole time Dave was there was because his girlfriend, Sandra, wasn't really going along with him is his war against me. She and I had stricken up a friendship, and she (being a Chilean woman) was always a little jealous about she even though she was just a friend of his. As soon as she showed up, Sandra stopped always coming by. One night after a party night with Dave, we were still in bed (Dave and I slept in the same queen size bed because in the kindness of my heart allowed she to sleep on my sofa bed in the living room, which need less to say was an act completely ignored by she and he, and he proceeded to tell all on his friends we were gay), and were still drunk, Sandra came buy and brought one of her friends, Cecilia, who we had never met before, to sleep with Dave. But instead of cuddling with Dave, she got next to me. And in my drunkenness couldn't control myself and push her away and ended up having sex with her. In the morning I asked her not to tell Paula, who was one of her friends also, but I knew she couldn't help herself.

The next day I went skiing with the guy who I taught English for for a while, Doug Day, and his friend, the son of the German owner of the other institute I worked for. This was the only day I went skiing because of a lack of money, not being a group of his, too much partying, and a general lack of motivation. When I came back I was surprised to see Cecilia still there, and so was he. he was in a bad mood and asked me how long this nut ball was going to stay for, and if she had mental problems. Cecilia doesn't have mental problems, she is just emotional, and kind of spaces out playing with the dials on the radio non stop. But she has a really good heart and is down to earth. In the end Cecilia ended up staying there three nights in a row.

Chilean girls come on to guys more here than any other place I have ever been, including Brazil. I got a beer once with a 20 year old girl who works as a people-getter at the internet where I go, and out of the blue she asked me if I had had sex with a Chilean before, and I said no, and she said, 'you will', and then wanted to smooch me and have me feel her huge tits. But she was a little weird, she was a punk girl with fresh suicide slice marks all up her forearm. She said she wasn't trying to commit suicide, she was on cocaine, and she gets crazy on cocaine. The next thing she said was if I liked cocaine and wanted to do it with her.

I couple weeks after he and I moved into the Los Leones apartment I invited another girl I met at the internet place over for dinner. I didn't expect anything sexual to come of it because she told me she was a Catholic and went to church every Sunday and was dead set against marijuana. I met her at the Los Leones metro station twenty minutes late as usual, and we went to my place and I cooked her up a meal. Then I tried to give her an English lesson but she wasn't really paying attention. She stayed a while, the whole time telling me she wasn't going to stay over because she's not easy, but I wasn't asking her to stay over. When it got late she decided to sleep with me. Later on in the night he and two of his Chilean friends came over, and I didn't really feel like hanging out with him because the lasts time we were together I lost my temper and yelled at him for taking his shampoo away and using mine for a week, and then putting his shampoo back after mine got low. So we went out dancing at the Suiza discos for a bit. The next morning as it got late she didn't get out of my bed until I realized she wanted to have sex with me. So I went to get a condom, but she stopped me and said she wouldn't have sex with me if I put on a condom. So we continued to make out and then she tried to put my dick in her pussy again and I went for a condom and she told me the same thing again. This went on a little while until she realized I wouldn't give in so we did it with a condom. Later I realized that she was mentioning before how she liked babies and wanted to have one, and was probably trying to get pregnant with me. Jo told us an interesting story about that to. She said at the place she was staying one night she saw a bunch of old women beating up a young girl apparently because they were jealous she was pregnant. In these poor countries, when a woman has no money, all she can dream of having is a baby, and a part white baby in their minds is better than a brown baby because the opportunities are supposed to be better later in life. Any guy who allows himself to get seduced by a young girl in a poor country should be fore warned.

I met her at her house once, but soon after that I got together with Paula, so I stopped coming by the internet for a little bit and she got the picture. Around the same time I met a girl at a bar the only night I went out with him and his friends. I noticed she was looking at me the whole night but was sitting down the whole time. Towards the end of the night I noticed she stood up so I went over and she was excited to see that I noticed her. We sat down and talked for a bit. She was with her sister who didn't look like her and said she was a dancer and gave me her number and told me to call her. So I called her the next day and she said she was doing a dance show and said she would call me back when she was done; but she never did, so I didn't call her back. A couple weeks later she called me and said she was sorry that she didn't call me and wanted to go out with me later in the week and said she would call me the next day, which she didn't, so I called her. When we talked she told me to go to a disco in the subway. When I met her out there she was with her sister and a young guy. Inside I realized we were in a TV show, and seeing a live performance of a famous Columbian rock star I later saw on MTV. Then we followed the show to another disco in Suiza where we saw a live band playing a Brazilian song to a T that I had heard on the radio. I saw this guy leading a camera around kissing all the girls in the place and joking around. She said she was one of the dancers on this TV show called Mekano. At the time I didn't know what it was but looked around and finally saw it. It is a show where kids watch people dance in formation which is very popular here. At the new place she skipped off and I didn't follow her, then we left. I didn't call her back because she kind of blew me off at the place, and I started going out with Paula just after that.

Dave had some interesting experiences with girls too before he got together with Sandra. He was at a Peruvian restaurant and a Peruvian girl approached him and he went on a couple dates with her. He brought her over to the place a couple of times. The first time she brought her Chilean friend, the ugliest girl I have ever seen in my life. She had a blue tint coloring her eyelids which made her look like a monster. They were really weird, the Peruvian girl was barking orders at us about how we should live our lives, and when I mentioned Marijuana, she started lecturing me how bad it was and ruins lives. I asked her if she had ever done it and she said no, but she watched her loser neighbors smoke it and knew that way. At one point I was trying to do something and got frustrated and said 'fuck', and so she asked me what that meant. I didn't want to go into a lengthy description of what that meant so I just made humping motions on my bed to show them. At that moment her friend started screaming at me like I was evil, telling me that I didn't respect women and all that, which pissed me off so I yelled at her to shut up; which she did but she had decided she hated me. I noticed the energy was getting tense, so I went out on the porch to try to sneak a little smoke, but the Peruvian peaked out and started yelling at me telling me I was a drug addict and needed help, but I didn't care because I was already a little buzzed. That didn't really help the situation though, because her friends energy got so evil that we couldn't look at each other. We all left to go see a movie, but when we got on the bus we noticed that her friend was not with us, so we looked out and saw her walking away. That pissed the Peruvian girl off and she was talking trash about her friend the rest of the day. We saw I am Sam with Sean Penn, which was really good. She came over one more time but I wasn't interested in talking with her and all she could think of saying to me was, "naughty naughty drug user," so I just let her and Dave hang out in my room and I waited outside. When she left he told me she was nuts and never wanted to see her again. Shortly after that Dave started going out with Sandra anyway. The Peruvian girl continued to call Dave all the time though for like a month. He said she was calling him like a hundred times a day and constantly sending him emails. I saw one of them, it said that he thinks he's mature but even thought he's 33, he has the maturity of a 17 year old because he didn't want to see her again. Apparently she thought he was obligated to tell her to her face that he didn't want to see her again, but they only went out like 3 or 4 times.

Around the same time Dave and I and a couple of his friends from the Spanish school went to a friend of his party in Bellavista. His friend is in his thirties and is a wealthy mining engineer. The Chileans there seemed to be of the young rich type. They were much happier and more outgoing than the young rich Argentineans I met. I hung out with one of Christians roommates and a couple of his friends, and a hot girl of Chinese descent for a bit. Her friend was really hot, as she was walking past me she showed me her knuckles which where all bloody from hitting the punching bag outside. I was talking to her for a little but, she told me she was a TV commentator. At one point I went into the bathroom to take a leak, but when I turned around after I turned on the light and shut the door I noticed there was a naked couple making love on the washing machine, so I scampered out unnoticed. A few days later Dave went on a date with the supper hot girl, and when he came back he said that "Denisita," was Denise Campos, one of the famous Campos twins who got first and third place in the Mrs. Chili competition and were Hawaian tropic girls and were in the tabloids all the time. A couple weeks later she was at that house again celebrating her birthday party and this guy Gonzalo, one of the friends of Dave's friends roommate who I was hanging out with, and the guy whose house Dave was going to spend the independence day celebration at, was being silly and jumped off the roof onto a landing below to scared his friends; but he had socks on and slipped and fell off and died. A funny thing about that was that two years beforehand at her birthday party in Vina del Mar this girls boyfriend fell off the roof and died.

After she left I thought maybe he and I would start talking again, but he was never there. It was like the house belonged to Dave and I, which must have been one of the reasons he was so bent out of shape. Dave was only there a couple of weeks more, and moved out after living there for about a month. I had another month with him, but he was never there. He must have been out partying every night and skiing every morning, keeping it up with the cocaine. Cocaine's really cool that way, you don't need much sleep. He went out with us one night when Dave and Tony came over, but he wasn't talking to me. At the disco I started dancing with a Brazilian girl and so he came over and started dancing with her but pissed her off because he called her a Huevona. In Spanish Huevon literally means something like "egger" because huevo means egg. In Chile "Huevon" means "buddy" if used affectionately, but "ass hole" if used in anger. But in the other Latin countries "Huevon" is mainly a bad word. After he danced with her a bit she came back to me very upset and asked me who this ass hole was and that he called her a huevon. I told her it means amigo here in Chile. I left with her and her Brazilian friend, who was complaining saying she was friends with her friends boyfriend and she didn't feel right about this, so I said I had a girl friend and went home.

When I got home I had the only conversation with him that we ever had while we weren't talking. He said he knew I probably thought he was fucked in the head on drugs and had been acting like an ass hole, and that all of this screwy ness was unintentional. All I could say was that I thought he lost his mind and it was because of the cocaine; which he didn't like. Then we talked about going skiing, but it was all in vain; our relationship was dead. A couple weeks before he moved out, his snow board friend Rodrigo moved in with us for about nine days because he got kicked out of his wife's house and was looking for a place to stay. I didn't see much of them though because I was spending a lot of time at Paula's house. One night he, she, Rodrigo, and Ariel where there, which was the last time I saw them, Rodrigo and Ariel invited Paola and I skiing with them, which I was excited about, but Paola didn't want to go because she thought it would be too awkward, so I didn't want to go either. That was the last weekend the resorts were open.

When he moved out and asked for his deposit money back, I discounted the 462 pesos (about 60 cents) a day from it for the time Rodrigo was there, which caused him to blow up and yell at me that friends should stay for free, so I reminded him about the time he told me Julius couldn't stay there for three days even though he wanted to give him his cell phone, and he denied ever saying that. But at the end he agreed and smoked his last joint there (without offering me any) and left.

A couple days later the landlord came over for rent. Beforehand I told him I wanted to live there for another year and we had agreed that for a year the rent would be 180 thousand a month, but he denied ever saying that, so I said I wanted my deposit back and move out. But he said that because I already told him that I wanted to stay there longer he wasn't going to give it to me; but would give it to me in a month when I moved out, but I had to pay for another month then. I told him I would pay him the next day in the center. That night Paola came over and I told her the story, which pissed her off, so the next day she went down there with me and told him I wasn't going to pay for another months rent but live there for another month because that was the only was I would ever get my deposit back. He said that wasn't legal and he knew so because his daughter's a lawyer. Paola said she knew the law because her friend was a lawyer. Then he told her it was none of her business because I was the person who lived there, so she said she was living there with me, and at that moment he agreed, but wanted to sign a contract saying I would pay the utilities. Dave moved in with me that month, which went pretty fast. We had a puppy dog that was sick and kept shiting all over the carpet.

A couple weeks before we had to move out Dave told me that there was going to be a room available in the residential that he was going to move into the same day that we had to move out. I was really excited when we moved in because it was in the best part of town, in Bellavista just at the base of the San Christobal hill, which is right in the center of town. It's only two blocks from Pio Nono, the road that has all the discos, and it's only about ten minutes from the center of town where I give my English classes; it's perfect. My room is about 19 square meters and the ceiling is about 15 feet high; it's like a perfect square. living in my new room I have begun to explore the world of being a pet-owner. After a few days I opened my birdcage and let my canaries fly freely, which made my room seem more like a jungle.

I let my hamster run freely too, which was very entertaining because he would climb on top of everything, the tables, my bed, my couch, and dig in the plant pots. After a month or two of that though he must have realized that if he ran around too much he would get caught, so I don't see him too much anymore. He's usually gone for about four or five days at a time before I see him again, a little skinnier. Hamsters are pretty intelligen