My first stop in Colombia was the so-called "White City" of Popayan in the south of the country for a bit of R&R before heading out towards the geographic anomaly known as the Tatacoa Desert. Due to a nearby mountain range casting a rain shadow over the area it stays dry year-round, but there is enough rain to cause some pretty crazy erosion patterns that were pretty eerie to hike around. If I had to imagine what Mars looked like, Tatacoa would basically be it. I pitched my tent near an observatory in the area for a few nights, put there because the desert made for some pretty good astronomical observations apparently. Unfortunately the local astronomer wasn´t there at the time, so it was closed. It was more or less deserted (no pun intended) the whole time I was there except for an army patrol...
- $7,035.57 = How much it costs to travel around the world through nine countries over five and a half months
- Revisited: How to pack for an independent traveler with no set return date
- A glimpse in the thoughts of Bolod Namkhai Mukhadi
- Beijing to Ulaanbataar Mongolia: The nitty gritty of independent travel
- How to get Chinese and Russian visas as a United States citizen: My experience
- Writing assignment: "Inside The Candelaria Festival of Puno, Peru"
- Marathon hitchhiking: Southern Mexico to Michigan in 7 days over 3,400 mi
- Mango Surprise: Being the victim of a random, delicious act of kindness
- Legendary Vagabonder Rolf Potts with priceless advice on travel
- Fire juggler in San Pedro de la Laguna, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
- Romania: WWOOFing in Transylvania and back to the US
- Bulgaria: Nice cities, tipped off about an isolated beach, and getting perspective from a prostitute's cigarette burns
- Kazakhstan Pt. 3: Almaty, where kids watch pole dancers, and joining the family
- Kazakhstan Pt. 2: Astana, WTF? Diagnosis: major inferiority complex
- Kazakhstan Pt. 1: Whoa Aunt Jemima's!, the Darth Vader Mosque, and a failed haircut
Probably not, but they paid me anyways. In February I had the chance to experience the Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno, Perú and thought it might be worth a shot to do a little write up to get published to my favorite online travel publication, Matador Travel...and violá you can find the article and pictures here: Photo Essay: Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno, Peru.
My stay in Ecuador consisted of a few nights in Guayaquil doing little but killing time with a French guy and a total of 12 hrs in Quito (didn´t even take pictures). It was my second time in Ecuador, so I didn´t feel so bad about skipping over it (okay, I guess a little bit) since I´m trying to maximize my time in Colombia. In any case, the random pictures of Guayaquil are below. Prepare to be underwhelmed.
After departing from the south of Peru, there were a few places I wanted to visit on the way up toward Ecuador. The first stop was in the jaw-dropping Cordillera Blanca in the town of Huaraz, which I only got a quick peek at before I got a pretty nasty stomach infection as well as an infection on my flash drive and lost all of my pictures. A few days in bed and a few antibiotics later I got over to Trujillo, and old colonial town on the coast where I Couchsurfed with a colorful girl from there (lost pictures from there too, minus a few). I next hopped up to Máncora, an overrun and overpriced beachtown that I got out of after a failed attempt at surfing and staring at too many ridiculously tanned tourists. The next and final stop in Peru was another, more tranquil beach town called Zorritos where I pitched my tent and got some R&R on a deserted beach before skipping to Ecuador.
A bit slow on putting this up, this is the video of I shot with a few friends from Puno/Cusco as we marched along in the Fiesta de la Candelaria (may have to Google translate the link):
Slightly morbid but definitely amusing, after I slaughtered a sheep with my host Julio while visiting Huañuscuro we took a little break and had some anatomical fun. The video is slightly graphic, just a warning. (Animals were definitely injured in the making of this video, but basically every part of it was eaten, so no moral qualms here. [I think]. Direct hate mail to ad dot pirz at gmail dot com.)
With the cash economy spread to every corner of the globe, it´s no hidden fact that travelers abroad are many times looked at more as breathing cash machines and less as curiosities from foreign lands. It´s not that people are necessarily looking to grab money from tourists, but rather that poverty incentivizes creative pricing where price tags are lacking. Those of us traveling on a budget for extended periods need to economize since we´re already putting a hefty bit of cash into the local economies of the places we visit, so let opportunists prey on the less saavy traveler. There are countless stories of visitors getting ripped of for many multiples of what the local resident would pay; these are the ways to avoid it.
Note: this has undergone revisions beyond the comments in italics below. See this link for my most updated packing list: Revisited: How to pack for an independent traveler with no set return date
[Post trip comments are in italics]
On the eve of a trip that I'm hoping will get me from Peru to the US by land by summer, I thought I might go over what's going into my bag. A lot of people have asked what I pack for a trip that long...well in short, I try to pack lightly and I don't pack everything I need for that long. I will always be in places where people live and have stores, and I can resupply with what I need. My style is not exactly the superlight style, but I try to pare everything down to the essentials. (Excuse me if I seem a bit out of it in the video, it was the night before leaving around midnight and I was a bit scatterbrained.)
Budget travelers are more than familiar with bus travel, since added travel time is usually the first thing in exchange for the cheaper ticket.
That said, this extended time in a fixed location presents a good opportunity to slow down and connect with those all around. Very often the temptation is to pop in the ear buds, swallow down some sleeping pills, or clam up into a guide book, but we should all know better than to sacrifice the journey en route to the destination. First, let's prep for the bus ride.
A clumsy, narrative manifesto
[The bulk of this was written the day after I returned, and I would be enthralled to receive comments and criticism. I hope you find it entertaining]
Final night in The City of Big Shoulders, and falling asleep under the stars had a romance about it. Considering the city lights usually wash out the dim pokes from above, the timing seemed fortunate. Indeed, that grassy area hinted that the Traveling Gods purposefully carved it out, with proud grins on their faces high above. A divine reward, since I decided to indulge my pull to hitchhike a bit and pay them proper respects.