Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Natalia's Traveling Journal across South America!

Hi Blog Army,

My apology for not writing consistently. I guess right now there isn't much traveling from my side so not much story and train of thought to share.

As you can see, this is the first time I am gonna actually do this, to interblog. Here I am going to feature a traveling journal of a friend across South America. Personally when I read it the first time I really like it and honestly I can feel the "everything" about traveling/backpacking in her writing. And I ended up read and reread it for many time to come.

The journal also carry a memory when I was reading Che Guevara's motorcycle diary, at the time of traveling Mumbai-Baroda-Delhi. The book was about the young Che, experiencing and exploring the beauty and sceneric, God Sent landscape of South America continents.

Natalia is a friend I met and hung out with during my earlier time in Pune, India. I think it was in late 2004, early 2005. In fact, we travelled together, also with other crazy friends to Goa, New Year Eve 2004. This cute and sexy Colombian girl is one happening chick that never stop to amaze you. OK, enough said- let's enjoy her traveling journal through South America.


The Rada family (my dad, my bro and i), in an unusual behave and anxious craziness decided to Natibo - Visa Expedition in National Geographic Chanel, but in local version we named it "Natibo - USDcash Expedition in Radational Geographic". Initial plans were Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. But in a real dimension of the trip (time, distances and the way back) we got rid of Brazil and Bolivia. Finally we drove 16000km it self only and enjoy thousands of landscapes, places, food and wonderful moments. As soon as we got back, we found out that South America rules!, the roads in several places suck! food in Peru and Argentina are the best, guys in Argentina are much better than Calvin Klein models, Chile is as expensive as Europe and a very important issue: Definitely, indeed, a world wide knowledge is that u need more than one month to do that trip and as soon as u go back u are totally able to send your cv to a bus transportation company (bolivariano o velotax in Colombia) and no chances of not being hired or being rejected your application.! )

In a final footnote of this abstract it is proper to say that a trip of that kind carries consequences on. Skinniness, over exposure of sun (skin burns) (in the desert), extreme tiredness, sleepless nights and very early start journeys.

Introduction: last 21th of December 2005, we left nice Ibague and drove to the southern roads of Colombia, we crossed Cali, Pasto and Ipiales where finally we got to the first costume and found for very first time foreign floor.

Ecuador is a normal country, with very beautiful landscapes thanks to the Andean mountain, full of volcanoes, snow mountains and a general truth: Banana crops, Ecuador is the banana country! despite they have a very annoying accent (perfect for me and my jokes) i found it very similar to the south of Colombia (Nariño state), so my impression was "they are southern Colombians but with passports", ah but also in a low quality version. So i don't want to sound rude or
unrespectful but i just want u to know that ecuatorians and Peruvians think that Colombians are the south American genius, the big potential country, the Cosmo and first world of third world.

Well, over there i learnt a lot of history in every museum, Architecture is just amazing and the guinea pigs are the main course everywhere, so where ever u go, do what ever they do... so welcome rats to your stomach. We were in Ibarra, Quito, Guayaquil and Huaquillas where the costume is. Huaquillas is the ecuatorian side and Aguas Verdes is the peruvian side... i have never been in a worst place than those in my entirely life and in the entirely world. So it wasn't nice my first step on Peru. At this level i must do a historical aclaration.

Colombia during the earliest 90 was bombed by Peru tv channels, i was a kid at that time so a entire generation including my self, picked up a lot of feelings for Peru, i learnt vocabulary, traditions and words and a ghost that never leaves: Laura in America, a talk show that changed forever our perception of Peru because it showed the worst of that beautiful country, the people poverty and the lowest dimension of a society, so we grew up with a standard conception of what Peru was, but personally i kept thinking that that tv talks how was just a play not the real life. Fast, i found out that it wasn't faked, i faced my self with the country of señorita Laura*(see note below). Then i developed a shame and pity feeling because Peru it's too cool to be true, but its ruin by some jerks and i could understand lots of its problems just seeing the essence of its culture, history and roots, and mainly because i found it as the India of America in many issues. Then my nice feelings were also due to my links and good memories of India, somehow i felt i was in India so was weird and nice too. Of course i laughed a lot remembering my childhood and cuz i couldn't believe that Peru was real just at it is.

About the Indian point, just imagine and think of how i felt, first thing, they have rickshaws!!! bajaj Brand and they call em bajajs, mototaxis or motocarros, so same noise, same horn, same feeling when u are in India, second, Traffic is just annoying, they don't know how to drive! crazy, unbelievable, third, national sport is to horn, fourth, smells are disgusting sometimes and fifth how pp look like its just to much! (objects or characters described previously are not a product of imagination but any seem item compared to India its just coincidence)

So away from Indian memories, back in Peru, we went to Mancora, which are the best beaches of Peru but what a shame cuz they are horrible, or lets say that im used to go to the Caribbean and comparing both there is a big loser (pacific!), Then we went to Chiclayo, great city with the full report of Mochique culture, a pre Incan civilization, full of archaeologyc treasures. Chimbote is a fisher-town so that was the stinkiest city of Peru, with the prawn's head pp make fish flour and animal food so its just unbelievable the stinkyness and smell of dead fish. but it was not cuz we wanted to be there, was just a obligatory point where u pass through to Lima. Lima is an enormous city, too poor in its major area but its historical centre its just fabulous, magnifique, amazing, they had a lot of money during the "virreinato of Peru" (colonial times) so they have republic architecture, full of cathedrals, convents, museums, balconies and very beautiful and delightful historic area. Miraflores is nice cuz is the financial centre so buildings are amazing and very luxurious!!! Driving south way we went to Nazca, great area of pre-Incan civilization who made figures in the desert sand, perfectly matched with the sun and the moon in order to be used as a calendar, and only can be seen from high distances so i.e by plane, so we hired a plane and they made the flight amazing, we saw a hummingbird, a seagull, a condor, a monkey, a dog, a parrot, a crocodile, a whale, and more geometric figures.

It was one of the most exiting moments of the trip but we went forward cuz we still got a lot of distance to drive.....We arrived to Tacna the border town of Peru with Chile, we crossed the border and immediately u know that u are in a different world, first world, Chile is the wealthiest country in South America and is the 25th economy of the world pole, also taking care that Brazil is one of the tops and the rest, like our are over the 50s positions so no chances to feel a brotherhood besides the fact that they speak Spanish hehehe. Chile has a strong economy based on crops, mineral resources and fishing industry, Chile is a desert... Atacama desert takes forever and it's like the road-runner stage, when u think u will pass an one hour landscape.. damn! copy-paste, the same landscape for hours so it is very dangerous to drive cuz u cant find a gas station in hours and wind strength keeps u focused in the road. We crossed places where never have rained in the hole earth time so just imagine the place. Chile's food is so crappy that we ate mc donals only jejeje, hard to believe but was better and cheaper. Arica, Antofagasta, Vallenar, La Serena, Viña del Mar and Santiago was our Schedule. Viña was too cool but a shame that there are not beaches available for swimming... waves are to dangerous and fucking cold so no a real mood for the beach!! Santiago is very close and we went to the downtown, the zoo because my biologist bro wanted to, and we left to Mendoza Argentina through the Aconcagua border!!!. Santiago is a nice city, very cosmopolitan, i cant deny it, very good approach to first world, no poor pp, no dirtiness, good subway, good roads, good infrastructure, good services, expensive hotels, expensive and horrible food, ugly girls and flirting guys**.

Finally we left to Argentina, Andeans at that level are quite different of them that we saw in Ecuador or Peru, dryness makes them light brown but still a very beautiful chain. Mendoza is the first city u find in Argentina, it is a great city with a lot off things to do and mainly to buy!!! Wines there are just amazing!! Very well done and cheap!!! Argentina was kind of surprise for me cuz was very cheap and life it's very nice, for example u can have the best meat ever in the hole world, juicy, tender and with a perfect taste plus salad, fries, beer and wine, all in a meal for 3 pp and for just 20 usd!!! Yep believe it or not that's the price that u pay for a very good meal in Argentina. Also besides food and guys, I found out that pp are really kind.. I think they are one of the kindest pp of south America, even when pp used to think that Argentineans were different and not helpful at all, but I think they are amazing pp.

So in Buenos Aires we went to very beautiful places like the pink palace, the recoleta cemetery, el barrio de la Boca and Caminito. El barrio de la Boca is the place where during the 19 th and 20th century, Tango was created and a tango culture was found. Caminito was the exact place where u can have a beer and watch a tango spectacle and all tourist life is developed, also u can find there Boca stadium! Yep, one of the thousand monuments of soccer in Argentina, where Maradona played and more famous Argentinean soccer players.

Buenos Aires was great but we didn't spend much time there so I really want to go back one of this coming days. Finally and finishing our journey in the south, we went by ferry to Uruguay!! Through the River Plate channel, it is the widest river of the world! so it takes 3hrs to cross it, but in the slow ship! We spent a day in Colonia del Sacramento, it is a beautiful and historical city, full of museums and very small, I was wondering how could it be possible cuz it was too small and so many museums, also the spotlights are great and sometimes u can see lights from Buenos Aires. Then we were done, it was 14 th of January so we had only 10 days to go back in a marathon session!!.

So me and my bro decided to step on the gas!! And drive as fast as possible. i was pulled over in Chile because excess of speed mm yes I shouldn't say it, im not proud of it just it happened and my brother too in Ecuador (I was not the only one), but in Ecuador we got rid of the ticket giving to the officer some money but in Chile I had to apologize and tell them that was the very first time, that I was not watching my speed level and I wont do it again. Hehe. Well after a crazy and exhausting marathon we arrived to Arequipa!!!! We left our car there and we took a bus to Cuzco!!!, hehehe dear friends if we hadn't gone to Machu Picchu we had wasted so much effort. It's like go to India and don't go to the Taj Mahal!!

So we went to Cuzco by bus, mm kind of disappointing when u know and have to pay the price to go to Machu Picchu!! Its about 150 usd!! For just one day and not first class service!!, for that price sometimes u think u will have a great service but…mmm….ok I must say that finally it worth it when u realized and don't have to pay anything else.. it worth!!! I started to like llamas and vicunas, they run free there and it is an amazing place with a mystic and a respect feeling. Indeed u must go to Cuzco, around it and Machu Picchu of course, that last visit was the top, the great end of our trip!!

Finally, i don't want to write any more! So I just have left that South America it's awesome! Amazing! It was a great and crazy trip but it worth every km u drive, every place u stay, every food u taste, everything u learn!!

When I got back I was too tired that I said that I would never do that trip again but now if somebody wants me to be a personal guide, im available!! Im a human version of lonely planet south America!!

Thanks for the sponsors of this trip (dad), the car (my dad's), the money (dad's and bro's) and the keenness needed!! (that was my asset)
Please attach comments and reactions!!! Can I apply for any redaction skill Prize? (Pulitzer / Nobel / Asturias xxx?)

Bye I hope u like my tale!!
Nata, experimented driver and skinny underweight Colombian friend!

*by the way she was found guilty and was in jail because she was involved with corrupted transactions of thousands of dollars during Montesino's scandal and several links with Fujimory and its corrupted government

** gender specifications: Colombians and Argentineans both genders are beautiful, super pretty pp, pp in Peru are a shame, not possible to find a nail of a miss universe in Peru, its enough to say that im tall in Peru..., girls in Chile are ugly, guys are flirting all the time but are a defected version of Argentinean guys, ohh Ecuador are a very cheap imitation of Colombians but a better edition of Peruvians but still not good casting and finally Argentineans... heaven....Greek Goddess....Batistuta is the ugliest!!!! i didn't know where to see and who to flirt....the policeman, the postman, the seller, the driver, the supermarket attendant, the waiter, the guy who ask u for money cuz he doesn't have any to eat!!! ohhhhh Argentina.....a fantasy for girls plan or ladies night!!!!! im considering seriously go to Argentina again but without bodyguards (dad and bro)