Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fotos Nuevas!

Posted some new photos...Chile vaca and random Bolivia at right.

Trouble Spots?!

I have discovered a love for reading fashion and celeb magazines since I have come to Bolivia. Nevertheless, I was disturbed by two articles in particular that I came across in the August issue of Vogue that my mom recently had delievered to me. They both appeared in the section which is titled “trouble spots”…all about plastic surgery and new fancy cosmetic procedures. These two articles each warranted two pages…one was on the “trouble spot” of the fat bulge that is in your armpit that overflows when you wear a strapless top and the other was on knees and the cosmetic procedures (such as lipo) that can be done to make your KNEES more attractive. I see several problems with this scenario. First, that someone actually is obsessed enough about their armpit and knee appearance to write a two-page article about each of them. Secondly, that people are actually spending money on procedures to reduce their armpit fat roll that you can only see when you wear a strapless garment or strangely unnatural surgeries on their knees to improve asthetics (we are not talking about repairing ligaments and critical components here). And thirdly, that I am wasting my time reading an article on making your armpit and knees more attractive. This last problem is definitely within my control…but I almost get the feeling that these articles are satirical and making fun of people that actually care about these things (do people REALLY care about these things?!). Whatever, the frightening nature of those articles was offset by the pretty pictures of Kate Moss and an article about one of the Vogue editors where she was pictured with all of her cats. Really cute, smashed-in-face, fluffy cats. As I said to Sarah during our vacation to Lake Titicaca after a particularly satisfying meal where we waddled out of the restaurant, “let’s go back to the hotel and stare at the cats in Vogue and then go to bed.” Sounds like a perfect evening to me indeed.

Other notes…I saw a picture of a proscuitto and fresh mozzarella sandwich on this really crusty bread with tomato and lettuce in a magazine and it made me very very hungry. Proscuitto-wrapped asparagus anyone? Also, Evo came to Tarata today! I saw him speak (well, heard him speak, I was too busy lounging on the grass by the ice cream cart ladies) and was impressed by the use of helicopter transport that created a big dust swirl when he landed and took off…just like the movies!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Muchas Gracias!

Just wanted to give a shout out for a couple of packages I received recently. First to Lisa for her Jelly Belly filled birthday package (it’s very difficult to get good jelly beans in Bolivia). And also to Yoko and Dan for the “religious articles”…which included holy water (REAL Starbucks coffee!) and Communion wafers (Chips Ahoy!) along with some really tasty looking Asian treats! Very much appreciated and will be fully enjoyed and in-joy-ed (I shall be consuming it get the point). Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

To the Navel of the World…and Back!

I am going to have to admit that I realized while I was in Chile and Easter Island that for having been to around 25 countries and counting, I’m not a true traveler of the backpacking variety. Translation – I’m a sissy. My opinion on traveling is that there is a certain thrill when it comes to learning about a new place and culture and seeing some pretty cool things (and tasting some new foods!) that I crave. But in essence, traveling = vacation. Therefore, based on logic, if vacations should be relaxing and luxurious as possible on the available budget, traveling should be relaxing and luxurious as well. Consequently, I am now viewing my post PC service plans of “backpacking” through Central America with some trepidation, but then again, I should be in good company so the whole DMB “turns out not where but who you’re with that really matters” should apply and make scary hostels and torturous bus rides manageable right?

Anyways, so I guess some of you out there want to hear about my trip. Let’s start with the guilty confessions. My first meal was at McDonalds, followed by a second meal at Dunkin Donuts…and I certainly spent most of my budget on food (or a variety of ridiculously overpriced things that I either didn’t need or purchased in spite of the ludicrous price). I had two fantastic sushi meals, ceviche (which might be my new favorite food), a lovely mahi mahi dinner, and a super-splurge Indian meal…not to mention that tuna and scallop tartare…yum yum YUM. I bought Starbucks twice (vanilla latte and caramel macchiato) and my scariest moment was when I bought the current Time magazine in the Santiago airport for $9. Yes, that’s 9 USD. I could have bought an actual book for that same price…but I have acquired a certain addiction to American magazines since I’ve been down here. Also, I have a warning to people that have not been in a shopping mall for a long time that it can be a scary and disorienting experience. The first purchase I made in the mall I went to in Santiago was 4 pairs of neon colored capri tights (what I call the neon citrus colors – neon blue, orange, yellow and green). I am not sure why, but I thought Lindsay, Sarah, Kasia and I could use them during a “superstar” costume party during the all volunteer gathering. Don’t worry, that was followed by sensible purchases of hiking shoes and trail running shoes and spending money that I am not recouping via my nonexistent salary.

Overall my first real solo traveling experience went well. It had a slow start in Santiago when I got there because I have a general fear of new places the first day I am there and wandering too far off the beaten path, but the second day in daylight is always better. I found Santiago to be a very interesting city with lots to do (definitely worth a visit on a South American backpacking trip) and even more to do in the surrounding area if you’re into things like wineries, skiing, and beaches (none of which are my style). I went to a museum on pre-Columbian art and textiles, hiked up a few hills, did a little shopping, took in the sights, admired the super-cuteness of Barrio Bellavista and even managed to go see a movie (the new Batman one – dubbed in Spanish of course). I think that the solo traveling style suits me…as long as I can meet people to eat dinner with (best way is probably to join those organized tours where you actually learn stuff about what you are seeing). Lunch alone, fine, but dinnertime alone can get lonely. After a few days in Santiago I was off to Easter Island! I must say that LAN Chile is the best airline I have been on so far. So lujoso compared to crappy American-owned airlines. They have those screens in the back of the seats like JetBlue and they have huge selections of TV shows, movies, and music. I used the entertainment system non-stop on the way back and wish I had discovered it earlier on my flight there (got to watch Smart People – gotta love how they stick Donner Hall in there). Their food isn’t half bad either. And I like their little star with the wavy line under it logo! So Easter Island…has the feeling of a tropical island of Hawaii, the mystery of the moai, and really really good seafood. Definitely worth a trip out there if you have the time… During a tour I met some other American tourists who were my dining companions for the rest of my trip which was very nice (see note about eating dinner alone above). I did all the typical things of going to the sites to see all the moai and the volcanoes, avoiding stepping in horse poop from all the horses that roam around, and attempting to save money since everything is always ridiculously expensive on an isolated island (reminded me of the $7 box of Rice Krispies that gawked at in Hawaii). The only negative parts of the trip were probably my overspending, the loss of my Jcrew floppy white hat (whoever stole it, that green ink stain is permanent so too bad for you!), and the return trip from Iquique to La Paz when we apparently took more than an hour flight (almost the time it takes to get there) but ended up back in Iquique for a 4 hour delay while the bad weather (snow?!) in La Paz cleared up. I spent most of those 4 hours sleeping on a bench outside of the teeny tiny Iquique airport while people probably stared at me (I only got an hour of sleep the night before leaving). The funny part of that was that I was sitting next to a couple from New Zealand on the airplane and I was sleeping most of the time and when I woke up we were landing and the guy was like, um, we are back where we were before. I was like, no, can’t be…and Iquique seems kind of desert-y…almost altiplano like so I was convinced we were in La Paz. But then there were the palm trees…yeah, La Paz does NOT have those. Apparently even though they were making announcements continually on the plane about the bad weather and returning to Iquique, my Spanish was not good enough to understand the messages and the English translations were too fuzzy for my understanding as well. Such is life.