000 | MILES:
// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've finally sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I put together this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. Below is a map showing where I've been (in red) and where I plan to go (in white). But like all great plans, mine is open to the whims of chance and opportunity. And so, armed with little more than a backpack and a dream, I now tramp the many humble paths of our tiny blue planet.
DAY 410 //
SALTA · SALTA PROVINCE · ARGENTINA
DEC 14 2014 // 3 DAYS
DAY 410 // Well, despite saying my goodbyes to Argentina, I've returned. It was easier to reach Bolivia through Salta than to backtrack through Chile to head north. I've also never been to Northern Argentina before so it was an opportunity to explore more of the country I called home for quite a few months of my trip. Salta was a Spanish outpost founded in 1582 and still retains it's historic, colonial center. Quiet and peaceful it was a good resting point before leaving the more developed parts of South America for the sierras and jungles of Bolivia and Peru.
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ARRIVAL AND STAY
I learned a valuable lesson trying to get to Salta from San Pedro de Atacama: sometimes buses only leave two or three times a week. Because of this I had to stay an extra day in San Pedro (fortunately I have not schedule to abide by). Pullman
runs a day bus to Salta for 28,000 pesos ($44) --- I was actually amazed I was finally able to take a day bus instead of an overnight one, which as you can see in the photos I didn't waste the opportunity to see the Andes by day. As far as my stay, being a bit tired of sharing rooms and showers with other backpackers, I booked a room with a local Salteno couple on Airbnb for $35 a night. Sometimes you just need a clean bed and clean bathroom.
DAY 405 //
SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA · ATACAMA · CHILE
DEC 10 2014 // 3 DAYS
DAY 405 // The Atacama Desert is perhaps one of the most magical places in the world. With an average of half an inch of rain a year (and some weather stations having never received rain) it's also the driest place on Earth. Sometimes compared to Mars, NASA uses parts of the desert to test future landers. I arrived by overnight bus and settled down into a hostel before exploring the town, which pretty much only exists to cater to desert tourist though unlike Pucon in the south, which I visited a few weeks ago, San Pedro still manages to feel a bit more authentic and charming (I have a feeling there are town ordinances here that protect the local architectural style and mandate types of signage to prevent the town from turning into a cheesy tourism Disneyland like Pucon).
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GREAT SALT LAKES
Near the town of San Pedro, in the heart of the desert on great planes at the base of the Andes mountains, are several salt lagoons. Few places are more magical or impressive, though unfortunately I rode my bike here and didn't bring any swimming trunks.
BIKING THE DESERT
To reach the salt lakes I rented a bike for the day from my hostel (for just a dollar or two). The ride was about 20 KM each way, which in the desert and high sun is further than it sounds. But even so, alone in one of the most peaceful places on earth, no soul in sight, it was a spiritual experience.
ARRIVAL AND STAY
From Caldera I was able to take Tur-Bus directly to San Pedro for 21,000 Pesos ($35). It was another overnight bus, which seems to be the theme of my trip recently. I arrived around 8:00AM with no plans on where to stay. After walking towards the center of town from the bus terminal I stumbled across a hostel which cost about $20 for a private a room with a shared bathroom. My second night I stayed in a different hostel, for about $10 for a shared room and shared bathroom. As far as hostels go there are dozens upon dozens to choose from.
DAY 402 //
BAHIA INGLESA · ATACAMA · CHILE
DEC 07 2014 // 2 DAYS
DAY 402 // Leaving behind Santiago and Valparaiso I continue northward. Another destination, another overnight bus. I'm not sure how many more of these buses I can take. Without much of a plan other than I need to travel north, I end up in Bahia Inglesa, a tiny village on a white beach. There's no wifi here and only one hostel, which I take for two nights. It turns out the owner, a Chilean woman, lived in New York years and years ago. It's still off season so I'm alone in the hostel --- a few days of solitude on white beaches and crystal blue waters may just do me well.
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Near Bahia Inglesa is Caldera which I had to pass through on my way. The town is small and quiet, with a small bay and beach. What I found most magical was the fact that both towns, despite their beaches, lie in a never-ending sea of desert and sand, a near magical juxtaposition.
ARRIVAL AND STAY
As far as I could tell, there are no direct buses to Bahia Inglesa (for this its a very quiet and peaceful spot). I took an overnight bus from Santiago to the city of Copiapo (there's hourly service on several major buslines for around 20,000 pesos [$32]). From Copiapo there are smaller local buses running fairly regularly to Calderna for only a few dollars. Once in Calderna, which itself is a quiet and dusty town, there aren't a lot of options. You can take a taxi for just a few dollars, this is the easiest way. You could also walk the 5-6 KM but its through open desert so bring water. It's also quite common to hitch hike. At various times during my stay I ended up doing all three options. // There are a few hotels and apartment rentals in town but only one hostel. The hostel is a block or two from the information office which is where the taxis drop you off. Ask anyone and they can tell you how to get there.
DAY 401 //
VALPARAISO · CHILE
DEC 06 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 401 // Second time's a charm. Because of rain I didn't get a chance to visit Valparaiso the first time I visited Chile. Only now do I realize what I missed. A city five-hundred years old, sprawling over more than a dozen hills, and wedged between the ocean and a never-ending mountain range. Add the grittiness of one of the world's great port cities and the arrival of thousands of artists in the last twenty years and you have the combination for a truly one of a kind and awe-inspiring metropolis. A+
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Valparaiso is Chile's main container port, transporting 10 million tons a year, but in recent years more and more cruise ships have been arriving as well.
STREET ART PARADISE
Valparaiso continually ranks among one of the world's best cities for street art. In reality, given the number of streets and steepness of the hills, I had very little time to explore and find the best works, something I now regret.
VIÑA DEL MAR
Vina Del Mar, a beach resort town, is sort of the cleaner, wealthier little sister of Valparaiso. The two are connected by a light rail system.
DAY 387 //
PUCON · ARAUCANIA · CHILE
NOV 27 2014 // 2 DAYS
DAY 387 // Arrived in Chile. Argentina is officially behind me. After a few hours in Osorno (Chile) waiting for my connecting bus I arrived at my hostel without problems. I chose Pucon more or less for the same reason I chose Santa Rosa in Argentina; it was halfway to my main destination, in this case Santiago. Obviously the most overwhelming aspect of this little town is the Villaricca Volcano, which as one of the most active volcanoes in the world hangs over the city like an angel of death, waiting silently.
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Pucon is a strange place, sort of a Disneyland of adventure tourism. With Volcano treks, expansive national parks, white water rafting, ziplined forests, waterfalls, and horse back riding it attracts a very particular type of tourist. Every other shop is a tour agency, catering to this demographic. To be honest I preferred more the neighboring town of Villaricca, which didn't feel as if it existed solely to cater to the backpacking hostel crowd, even though at the moment, I'm sort of the backpacking hostel crowd.
A CITY OF FLOWERS
I'll say this for Pucon, they know how to plant flowers. FYI, some of these are actually made out of wood.
AND BLACK SAND BEACHES
Amazingly the lake has turned black volcanic rock into black volcanic sand.
AND BLUE LAGOONS
A series of waterfalls and small lagoons surround the town...
DAY 387 //
BARILOCHE · PATAGONIA · ARGENTINA
NOV 21 2014 // 7 DAYS
DAY 387 // From La Pampa I've taken an overnight bus to the northern reaches of Patagonia, to the famed city of San Carlos de Bariloche in the province of Rio Negro. Bariloche was founded in 1902 and sits within the Andes Mountains, very near the Chilean border. With distinct Alpine architecture it resembles something of an Argentine Switzerland, complete with several chocolate factories (and there's a real Swiss colony not far from the city). Bariloche is beautiful, but it's the parks around it that are without equal. I'll stay a week, do some writing, explore the mountains, and then set off for Chile.
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HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH
The photos speak for themselves.
NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK
Bariloche sits within Nahuel Huapi National Park, the oldest national park in Argentina.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
There was a problem with my hostel before I arrived, so they upgraded me to their hotel at the center of town. This is my view.
DAY 385 //
SANTA ROSA · LA PAMPA · ARGENTINA
NOV 18 2014 // 2 DAYS
DAY 385 // After nearly a year I'm finally moving on to the next stage of my trip. The plan is to now return to the US, from Patagonia to California (with a stop in Indiana to see my family), entirely by land. In Latin America that pretty much means entirely by bus. And so on my way to Patagonia, with Buenos Aires now forever behind me, I stopped in Santa Rosa for two nights, on a horse farm. My intention in stopping here had been to avoid sitting on a bus for 23 hours and I hadn't really expected much in Santa Rosa, but it turned out to be one of the most magical parts of my trip so far. Everyday I walked with the horses. Every night I sat in awe of the La Pampa sunset. And Francisco and his mother were the best hosts imaginable.
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Santa Rosa is the capital of La Pampa, Argentina's most agricultural province. With 96,000 people it's also a metropolis in a land that otherwise has more cattle than people. Santa Rosa is a dusty and quiet town, not unlike the smaller cities of the American Midwest. Life is tranquil here, there's a lagoon at the edge of town, and there's a two hour siesta during midday where even the largest markets are closed. This certainly isn't the most touristic city in Argentina but it's an interesting town none-the-less.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
I stayed in a little guest house next to the main farm house.
LIFE ON A LA PAMPA HORSE FARM
Once again I find myself in heaven.
DAY 368 //
PUNTA DEL DIABLO · ROCHA · URUGUAY
NOV 03 2014 // 3 DAYS
DAY 368 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 06) // With great sadness I was forced to cancel the final leg of our trip, which was originally meant to be a journey into the heart of the country (and a search for the elusive carpincho). The rains were simply too much and to be honest, our time on the coast was heavenly, so we extended our stay in the beach town of Punta Del Diablo. Every town and village we visited had it's own character and personality. Valizas was the hippie hamlet off the beaten path, Cabo Polonio was the windswept town almost mythical in its shunning of modernity, La Paloma was a proper town with aspirations of becoming a city, Chuy was the chaotic border outpost (Uruguay's own little Tijuana), and now finally we've arrived at Punta Del Diablo: surfer dude paradise, quiet little sister to Punta Del Este, a town of 390 in the winter and nearly 25,000 in the summer.
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THE DEVIL'S CABIN
Like our cabin in Valizas, I rented this one on AIRBNB. The owner of this cabin was European as well, from Spain. It seems the coast of Uruguay is a popular retirement spot for foreigners. And after having stayed here a while, I can understand why. We were only a few blocks from the sea, secluded on our sandy dirt road, and we cooked dinner every night as the ocean winds sang past our little cabin.
LIFE IN A BEACH TOWN
Lonely Planet declared Punta Del Diablo one of the top 20 places in the world to visit. I'm very happy we were here off season. I can't imagine this beautiful little fishing town of brightly colored houses when the armies of vacationers descend upon it. Maybe I could have passed on the rain, but perhaps because of it we were able to have the town to ourselves. And for that I'll always have the fondest memories.
Walk past the edge of town and enter heaven. Thus comes the end of our journey. So it goes...
DAY 367 //
CHUI · RIO GRANDE DO SUL · BRAZIL
NOV 02 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 367 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 05) // The rain continues for another day. It has became part of the fabric of our journey. I almost don't notice it anymore. And at least there are periods of respite, when the sun pokes through the clouds, just for a moment but long enough to give hope. And speaking of hope, I was able to visit Brazil today. As some of my friends know, my original plan was actually to spend a month travelling through Brazil after leaving Uruguay, but the visa process turned out to be longer and more complicated than I had assumed and I didn't have enough time to get the paperwork before starting my road trip. I could just stay in Uruguay longer but I decided I'd rather continue my Spanish studies before heading into Portuguese territory, so I'll try to visit Brazil later. As it turns out though, I had to go to the border city of Chuy to find an ATM. Chuy was never on my radar (and to be honest it's not a very interesting town) but the city is divided in half ---it's main street is literally cut down the median--- and it's possible to walk around the Brazilian side without a visa. So of course I did that. And of course I took a photo of myself with one foot in Uruguay and one foot in Brazil (first photo above). We also drove around the countryside of Uruguay a bit looking for Carpinchos, which we never found (so it goes), but we did find a whole lot of cows, sheep, and birds...
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INTO THE WILD
Welcome to the backroads of Uruguay. It's a miracle our little car survived.
URUGUAY IS FOR THE BIRDS
Ok, so I looked up these stupid birds on Google. In clockwise order: The Southern Carancho, the Maguari Stork, the Great Egret, the Nandu (Rhea), the Crested Screamer, and finally the annoying little Southern Lapwing which is also the National Bird of Uruguay.
DAY 366 //
FORTALEZA SANTA TERESA · ROCHA · URUGUAY
NOV 01 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 366 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 04) // The road trip continues. Today we ventured into the Santa Teresa National Park which lies only a few miles south of the Brazilian border. Within the park is the Fortaleza de Santa Teresa, a fort originally started by the Portuguese in 1761 but completed by the Spanish in 1776. Uruguay is home to several forts, having been fought over for centuries in what eventually became a four-way war between Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil, until finally declaring it's own independence in 1825. The fort is now a museum and park and as it sits high on a rock outcrop near the sea and is surrounded by fields of marshes and dunes, it's a beautiful site to behold. A+
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CHURCHES AND DIORAMAS
Exploring more of the fortress. There's a room of dioramas, a chapel, and a mock-up of the Polvorín
, the storehouse for gunpowder. Unfortunately it was a bit of a rainy day so we didn't stay too long. Rain (and more importantly the threat of rain) has been a common theme on the trip. But we soldier on.
Within the park, not far from the fort, are the Botanical Gardens which we stopped at on our way out. Buenísimo!
DAY 365 //
LA PALOMA · ROCHA · URUGUAY
OCT 31 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 365 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 03) // Drove to La Paloma today. It's not the most interesting of towns, but it does have a beautiful lighthouse. I also realized that today marks one year since I left New York, since I started this trip and these adventures. I think I had a lot of anxiety in the beginning--- quitting my job, leaving behind my old life, taking the road not known, none of it was easy--- but now, a year later, I have no regrets. And if I did, it would only be that I should have left sooner. Now more than ever I realize we have but one life to live.
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Me, Daniella, and Ragnhild @ the lighthouse.
DAY 364 //
CABO POLONIO · ROCHA · URUGUAY
OCT 30 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 364 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 02) // Truly at the end of the world sits Cabo Polonio, a hamlet of 95 people, a village with no roads inside and no roads to get there. Here there is no electricity, no running water, no internet. The village sits on a moon shaped peninsula deep in the heart of the Cabo Polonio National Park. To get there one must walk 7km through rugged dunes or take a 4x4 truck. But once inside, once free of the modern world without, Eden awaits: beaches that stretch to the horizon, fields on the edge of the sea, rocks home to sea lions, horses grazing lazily about. There are few places in the world such as this.
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THE EASY WAY OR THE HARD WAY
Giant 4x4 Trucks run every hour or so into the village from a parking lot off the highway, but being the intrepid souls we are, we decided to hike the seven kilometers through the national park to the town. The walk was beautiful, the dunes peaceful, and the chance to contemplate taken. Our hike back to the car later in the afternoon was slightly less pleasant; but rain and wind are all part of the adventure.
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BEACH
We made a friend along the way. Show a village dog kindness and he's your soul mate for the rest of the day. We also sat to watch the sea lions for a while. The Cabo Polonio colony is the second largest in the country.
CABO POLONIO NATIONAL PARK
The world's end.
DAY 363 //
VALIZAS · ROCHA · URUGUAY
OCT 29 2014 // 2 DAYS
DAY 363 // ROAD TRIP URUGUAY (DAY 01) // Well goodbye, Montevideo. One of the most painful parts of traveling are always the goodbyes. After nearly two months here I made some great friends and just like Buenos Aires before, I've also come to consider this little city a home. It's not all sad news today, however. Today starts my road trip around Uruguay. Seven days through both beach towns and gaucho villages, through coastal lands and the never ending cow pastures of the interior. Two of my friends from Buenos Aires are joining me and I don't think I'd have the courage to rent a car in a foreign land without their company. Our first stop is Valizas, a tiny town part fisherman village, part hippie paradise. Onward ho!
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LAST DAYS MONTEVIDEO
So Ragnhild and Daniella arrived by overnight bus from Buenos Aires at 6:00 AM (which meant I had to wake up at 5:00 AM to get to the bus station in time to meet them). I still had one more night paid for in Montevideo; I've been renting a wing of a 1921 city mansion from a wonderful Uruguayan family (the first two photos above are of the mansion and the third is from my last day at La Herradura
, the language school I've been studying at). So the plan was the three of us would spend the day sight seeing in Montevideo, crash the night at the house, then pick up the car in the morning and set off for the coastal towns of the east. After a walk through the Old City, a nap at the beach, and dinner and wine on the Rambla; that's exactly what we did.
THE LITTLE CAR THAT COULD
I rented a tiny Suzuki from Multicar
. The whole process was quick and easy, I was able to use my US driver's licence, and for six days with insurance it was only $230 USD. The coast of Uruguay between Montevideo and the resort city of Punta Del Este is lined with interesting little coastal towns and beach resorts and my original plan was to visit a few of them on the way to our cabin in Valizas; but there was a major thunderstorm coming and our host told us we needed to reach Valizas before the heavy rains started or the roads could be washed out. So we skipped the sight-seeing unfortunately and gunned it for our cabin, stopping only for a coffee in Punta Del Este. We just barely beat the storm.
AND THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE BEACH
We rented a cabin from a Dutch woman on Airbnb
. It was our home away from home, our castle, our respite at the edge of the sea, the end of the world.
BARRA DE VALIZAS
In the Department (State) of Rocha is a tiny town of 330 people called Barra De Valizas, or just Valizas. A better name for the town might have been Paradise. Quiet and unassuming, Valizas is a magical village facing long beaches to one side and the great sand dunes of the Cabo Polonio National Park to the other. Red gravel streets, wandering horses, a small collection of hippies lost in time and the old villager families lost in time with them are about all one will find in Valizas; at least off season. The tourist season doesn't start for another 3 or 4 weeks so many times we had the beaches to ourselves. We spent our days here having lunch at the foot of the sea and drinking wine under starlit skies. So it goes.
DAY 346 //
CIUDAD VIEJA · MONTEVIDEO · URUGUAY
OCT 12 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 346 // My Spanish studies in Montevideo continue. This is a quiet city, a tranquil seaside city, where the ocean is never more than a few minutes walk away. I've found that I enjoy the slower pace, even if there are fewer cafes or bars to be found. I run several nights a week along the Rambla, that great park that follows the contours of the ocean. Warm evenings, the setting sun, the Uruguayans with their Mate enjoying the sea breeze. I'll miss those runs when I leave. This week I visited the Ciudad Vieja (the Old City) with some of the other students from my school. The Old City is, unsurprisingly, the oldest part of the city, a city which was founded in 1724. The Old City was surrounded and protected by a fortified wall until 1829. From that point on the city grew far beyond the wall. Today Montevideo is home to 1.3 million people (roughly 1/3rd of Uruguay's entire population).
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TRISTAN NARVAJA MARKET
Not far from the old city, in the neighborhood of Cordon, is the Tristan Narvaja Market, one of the largest markets in South America. It covers multiple streets, running dozens of blocks in several directions, and here you can find everything from antiques, to used goods, to hardware and electronics, to fresh vegetables, to live animals. The market is every Sunday; though come early as it gets crowded fast.
OLD CITY DOORS
DAY 326 //
PARQUE PRADO · MONTEVIDEO · URUGUAY
SEP 21 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 326 // Visited Parque Prado today. Of Montevideo's six public parks, Parque Prado is the largest. Within the park are the park proper, the botanical gardens, two museums, the Japanese gardens, and the fair grounds for showing animals. Running along the back of the park is the Presidential Residence, though the current president has chosen not to live there. Instead he lives on the outskirts of the city, where he drives an old Volkswagen Beetle, grows flowers with his wife, and donates 90% of his salary to charity. Formerly a guerrilla fighter against the military dictatorship, he's now considered the world's 'most humble leader'.
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DAY 319 //
MONTEVIDEO · URUGUAY
SEP 14 2014 // 45 DAYS
DAY 319 // After half a year in Argentina, have arrived in Uruguay. Took a ferry to Colonia and a bus to Montevideo. This is to be my home for the next several weeks as I study Spanish at a language institute before backpacking my way through the rest of South and Central America back to the US. Montevideo is charming and quite, a coastal city with its face to the ocean and some really beautiful streets and parks. A+
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ONWARD MY JOURNEY GOES...
So I've finally left Buenos Aires. I was there longer than I ever intended; this was partly by choice and partly by fate. Originally I never intended to stay more than three months. And indeed I was set to leave. I did leave. For Chile. But I was also mugged days before I left and my replacement credit cards were sent to Buenos Aires, so I returned to wait for them. Good plan except I waited 8 weeks for them to arrive. And the truth is they never did arrive; I found out only after waiting that the post office shreds debit cards coming into the country as part of the currency embargo Argentina has foisted onto its people. All foreign currency is banded here. I knew that, but I didn't know it extended to my debit cards. So it goes...
But I made good use of my time. I wrote every day. I studied Spanish. I hung out with my friends. But enough of Argentina! I've come to Montevideo and it's a surprisingly charming city, a romantic city, a coastal settlement, not too large, not too small, always tranquil, lined with historic districts of old colonial homes, and the ocean! This is a city surrounded by beaches and parks and the sea on almost all sides. It's a good place to study, which I'm going to be doing, four hours a day, every day. Who said this was a vacation?
CITY OF CHARM
City of romance.
DAY 226 //
ANDES MOUNTAINS · CHILE
JUN 17 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 226 // Would have preferred the bus ride through the mountains, but as the passes were closed due to the weather, I had to settle for a flight. Was unprepared for the majesty of the world's longest mountain range. These mountains are no less than the science fiction landscape of an alien world.
DAY 220 //
SANTIAGO · CHILE
JUN 11 2014 // 6 DAYS
DAY 220 // After spending two extra days on the Argentine side of the Andes mountains waiting for the passes to clear, I finally decided to fly to Santiago instead. Am staying in a private Airbnb apartment in the city center. Breathtaking views. My impression so far is that Santiago is a lot cleaner and more efficient than Buenos Aires. Side by side one has the charm of former grandeur and the other has the polish and sheen of the up-and-coming. A+
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VIEWS OF SANTIAGO
So the weather in Mendoza (and I assume Santiago) was sunny, warm, and beautiful. Even so, apparently there were snow storms raging in the mountains. Every day in Mendoza I was told the passes were closed but would be clear the next day. Three days later I was told the truth was they wouldn't be cleared for a week. At this point I had already overstayed my tourist visa waiting. So it goes...
After a short flight (after telling myself I'd travel through South America entirely by land) I arrived in the beautiful and surprisingly modern city of Santiago. If there is a faded grandeur to Buenos Aires, then there is a sort of polished newness to Santiago. New theaters, gleaming skyscrapers (including the tallest in South America), fancy cinemas, and a great many universities and museums. Though that's not to say that this isn't a historic city. There are some really well preserved historic districts and in truth this city of six million was founded in 1541!
Street markets. A+
The Virgin Mary, the Fine Arts Museum, and an old Church.
DAY 217 //
CERRO ARCO · MENDOZA · ARGENTINA
JUN 08 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 217 // Cerro Arco is one of the easier mountains to reach from Mendoza. A thirty minute ride to the last stop on a city bus and you're at the doorstep of the Andes. Four hours to the top and an hour back down. Worth every step.
DAY 215 //
MENDOZA · MENDOZA · ARGENTINA
JUN 05 2014 // 5 DAYS
DAY 215 // Took another 10 hour bus ride. Arrived in Mendoza which sits at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Dry climate. Stunning scenery. It's a small city but the center is compact with several nice parks and plazas, plenty of cafes and bars. The city caters both to adventure tourism and, as this is the region that produces Argentina's famed Malbec, wine connoisseurs.
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VIEWS OF MENDOZA
It was off-season so we had the hostel to ourselves every night. I have to be honest, that was kinda creepy. But the hostel
DAY 213 //
VILLA GENERAL BELGRANO · CORDOBA · ARGENTINA
JUN 04 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 213 // Another day, another odd little mountain town. This one was founded by Germans in the early 1900s, attracted quite a few German, Austrian, and Swiss immigrants in its early years but the real boost came following WW2. A German ship, the Admiral Graf Spee, fended off 3 British war ships but was forced to take port in neutral Uruguay where it was scuttled. 130 members of the crew made for Argentina instead of returning to Germany and they settled here in Villa General Belgrano, building shops in Alpine style and opening German bakeries and breweries. B+, only because it sort of feels like a German Disneyland.
DAY 212 //
CAPILLA DEL MONTE · CORDOBA · ARGENTINA
JUN 03 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 212 // Spent the day in the very odd little mountain town of Capilla Del Monte today. Apparently this is ground zero for Argentine alien abductions. Argentina's own Roswell. It's also a New Age haven dedicated to the metaphysical energies of nearby Mount Uritorco. Energy crystals taken from the mountain are sold on the sides of the street. Otherwise it's a dusty little town that accomplishes the normally impossible feat of catering to a tourist niche (aliens and hippies of all things) while still retaining its rural and sleepy town feel. It also happens to be surrounded by the scraggly but beautiful Sierra Chica Mountains. A+
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I WANT TO BELIEVE
I've never seen a place that can so casually decorate itself with aliens.
BIKING THROUGH THE SIERRAS
We rented bikes. Best decision ever.
THIS IS ARGENTINA
There's a world beyond Buenos Aires and that world is magical.
DAY 210 //
CORDOBA · CORDOBA · ARGENTINA
JUN 01 2014 // 4 DAYS
DAY 210 // A 9-hour overnight bus and I arrived in Cordoba, Argentina's second largest city located in the heart of the country among the foothills of the Sierra Chica Mountains. The city is one of the oldest in South America, founded in 1573. Parts of the city center date back to the 1600's and are now a UN Heritage Site. Staying with a wonderful Airbnb host. Known for its universities, the city of 1.3 million has all the cultural offerings one would expect, cafes, bars, galleries, pedestrian streets, and parks filled with students. Solid A.
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SOUTH AMERICA BY BUS
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
DAY 129 //
COLONIA · DEL SACRAMENTO · URUGUAY
MAR 19 2014 // 1 DAYS
DAY 129 // One of the oddities of Argentina is that Americans are given a 10 year tourist pass, but have to leave the country every 90 days. Leaving even for just an hour fulfills this requirement, then you're allowed back in. So the easiest way to fulfill this burden in Buenos Aires is the ferry to Colonia in Uruguay, only an hour away. Colonia is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, immaculately preserved (the city was founded in 1680 and doesn't look like it has changed much), and though tourism is the main industry, I've seen much worse tourist traps. Not to mention Carnival was just wrapping up while I was there. Fireworks galore. Solid A.
DAY 115 //
NAVARRO · BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE · ARGENTINA
FEB 24 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 115 // A bumpy bus ride down worn roads from Lobos and we're in Navarro. Quiet and peaceful, dusty and stuck in time some time long before now. I can't compare it to the more famous gaucho towns like San Antonio De Areco, because I've never been, but Navarro earns a solid A from me.
DAY 115 //
LOBOS · BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE · ARGENTINA
FEB 24 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 115 // Day trip today. To Lobos and Navarro. Lobos is the bigger of the two, though still a sleepy little town. Only 60 miles from Buenos Aires but on the way one passes an invisible wall where the sprawl and concrete of that great metropolis drops away and gives way to dirt roads, grassy fields, beat up trucks, lazy town dogs, the occasional horse, and the dusty gaucho towns of Buenos Aires Province, or Provincia as they call it here.
DAY 111 //
TIGRE · BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE · ARGENTINA
FEB 20 2014 // DAY TRIP
DAY 111 // Took a commuter train to the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires. Tigre is sort of the 'Venice' of Argentina, a town where boats function as buses. Though I can't imagine as many mosquitoes in Venice. I came with a group of friends and we hiked one of the more remote parts of the city, an island in the Parana Delta, itself a sprawling labyrinth of rivers, islands, and forests, the whole of which marks the border between Argentina and Uruguay. We had a picnic. Overall a good day.
DAY 42 //
BUENOS AIRES · ARGENTINA
DEC 13 2013 // 232 DAYS
DAY 42 // After an overnight flight arrived in Buenos Aires, known to many as the Paris of South America. Argentina is a country of 41 million people. 3 million live in the city proper and a total of 15 million live in the Greater Buenos Aires district. Will stay here several months to learn Spanish before continuing on in my journeys. At first glance Buenos Aires is grand but aging. It's a landscape of a million cafes. A city of chaos. Ornate beauty abuts cold utilitarianism. I'm looking forward to making my home here.
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NEIGHBORHOODS OF BUENOS AIRES
I ended up staying in Buenos Aires almost a year. My first apartment was in Palermo. It's safe. It's pretty. It's hip. It's full of expat foreigners. Think Brooklyn of Buenos Aires.
I lived several months in San Telmo as well. It's easy to write about Palermo with all it's trendiness and new money but for some reason it's harder to write about San Telmo. There is an unpolished authenticity to San Telmo which makes it both a romantic and dangerous place. This is one of the most historic and chaotically beautifully parts of the city. Poverty and wealth exist side by side. It is perhaps one of my favorite neighborhoods, with its weekend antique markets and worn cafes on the corners that still speak to the idea of the Old Buenos Aires.
Popular, busy, pretty. Recoleta is probably most famous for its cemetery (bottom row). Home to 4500 above ground crypts and designed like a city. Truly a city of the dead. Today that cemetery holds some of the most famous figures in Argentine history; former presidents, national writers and poets, actors, singers, military commanders, and perhaps most famously, Eva Perón.
No city is complete with out a Chinatown.
Though a notoriously dangerous neighborhood, La Boca is home to the Caminito, a street converted by local artists into galleries and shops back in the 1960s, as a way to transform some of the worst areas around the old train tracks. Today it's tourist trap (and given how dangerous the surrounded area is, it quite literally is a trap). Sadly I'd say whatever essence and charm once existed here has been exploited beyond recognition, as all the original buildings have been gutted and turned into tiny shopping malls. C-
DAY 40 //
MIAMI · FLORIDA · UNITED STATES
DEC 11 2013 // 1 DAYS
DAY 40 // Final day in the United States. Arrived by train from Charleston. Staying with a wonderful Cuban family. Indeed 35% of Miami is Cuban. 59% of the city was born outside the US giving it the highest ratio of immigrants in the US (and one of the highest in the world). 67% of Miami speaks Spanish as a first language. I suppose this is a good primer for my journeys through South America. Which begin exactly tomorrow.
DAY 38 //
CHARLESTON · SOUTH CAROLINA · UNITED STATES
DEC 09 2013 // 3 DAYS
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DAY 38 // Alex and I drove down to Charleston to stay with two of her friends, Darcy and Proton Factories
. He's a local Charleston artist, be sure to visit his page. Charleston is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the US. Beautiful coastline, charming architecture, large historic districts (the city was founded in 1670), and the slow pace of the South. A++
I can only describe Charleston as the Boston of the South.
DAY 36 //
CHAPEL HILL · NORTH CAROLINA · UNITED STATES
DEC 06 2013 // 2 DAYS
DAY 36 // Arrived by bus in North Carolina. My ticket on MEGABUS. Was $1 (as was my ticket between DC and Richmond). Can't say enough good things about Megabus. North Carolina is just about as far South as I've ever been. It's also where many of my Quaker ancestors originated, having left Orange County, North Carolina to found Orange County, Indiana. Was fortunate enough to be able to visit their Meeting House in Cane Creek (the original meeting house was founded in 1751 by Abigail Pike and Rachel Wight but burnt down in 1940). Am staying with one of my oldest college friends, Alex who is currently at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, pictured above, along with plenty of good fried Southern food.
DAY 34 //
RICHMOND · VIRGINIA · UNITED STATES
DEC 04 2013 // 2 DAYS
DAY 34 // Arrived in Richmond today. The once capital of the Confederate States of America. Wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. Large historic districts of stately mansions, quite a few cultural centers and museums, and some beautiful parks. Stayed with a couchsurfing host, who I can't thank enough for inviting me to her Hanukkah party (beernorah pictured) and showing me the Jewish side of Richmond.
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HISTORIC HOMES OF RICHMOND
One of America's most historic cities.
DAY 33 //
WASHINGTON DC · UNITED STATES
DEC 03 2013 // 1 DAYS
DAY 33 // My nation's capital. What can I say. It's clean. It's beautiful. It's actually kind of boring.
DAY 28 //
LOUISVILLE · KENTUCKY · UNITED STATES
NOV 28 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 28 // Thanksgiving today. Drove across the river with my sister and brother-in-law to Louisville. Not a particularly famous city but home to some beautiful neighborhoods, like the Highlands and Old Louisville, both of which have southern Victorian mansions and tree lined streets. Indeed Louisville is home to one of the largest collection of brick Victorians in the country, along with the second largest collection of Iron Facade buildings in its downtown (the largest collection being in SoHo in New York).
DAY 23 //
CORYDON · INDIANA · UNITED STATES
NOV 23 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 23 // SMALL TOWNS OF INDIANA // Corydon, the county seat of Harrison County and once the capital of Indiana from 1813 to 1825. Was also the site of the only Civil War battle to be fought in Indiana. Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan raised a small army across the river in Kentucky (one of the Southern Border States) and marched into Indiana in what is now known as Morgan's Raid. Photo of Morgan's poster above. Morgan's 2500 militia men were able to defeat Corydon's 400 Home Guard defenders. Fortunately he pushed on to Ohio.
DAY 22 //
SALEM · INDIANA · UNITED STATES
NOV 22 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 22 // SMALL TOWNS OF INDIANA // Salem, the county seat of Washington County. Founded in 1814 when Indiana was still just a territory. Classic town square around the county courthouse. Very little tourism. A+
DAY 21 //
PAOLI · INDIANA · UNITED STATES
NOV 21 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 21 // SMALL TOWNS OF INDIANA // Visiting several of the more historic towns in Indiana this week. Each county has a capital town, called the county seat. Traditionally the county seats have a courthouse surrounded on all four sides by a town square. I have a special connection to Paoli, the town seat of Orange County. The town was founded in the early 1800's by Quakers who left Orange County, North Carolina in protest after unsuccessfully trying to run for state office to end slavery in that state. Indiana was a free state so they bought the freedom of as many slaves as they could and brought them here, where the slaves founded a town called Patty's Garden. Both Patty's Garden and Paoli became important stops on the Underground Railroad. My paternal ancestors were part of the original Quaker settlement. I took photos of both their grave and their meeting house, the Lick Creek Meeting, the original Quaker meeting house of Paoli.
DAY 19 //
FLOYDS KNOBS · INDIANA · UNITED STATES
NOV 19 2013 // 14 DAYS
DAY 19 // MY HOME TOWN. Finally arrived back home on the family farm. Two weeks to visit with my family and old friends before heading off to South America and lands beyond. I have no idea how long I'll be gone. Found an old photo of me and my sister. Also took a few photos around the farm. Floyds Knobs is (or was; suburbia is sadly fast approaching) a collection of rural farmsteads founded in the 1800's by Alsatian and German immigrants. Among them were my own maternal ancestors. A lot has changed since then. A lot hasn't. So it goes.
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THE FAMILY FARM
The family farm...
ONCE UPON A TIME
Life on the farm... (me and my sister)
IN A CRAZY NATION
We are ready for the Martian invasion...
DAY 12 //
CHICAGO · ILLINOIS · UNITED STATES
NOV 12 2013 // 6 DAYS
DAY 12 // Flew into Chicago (first photo) but am actually staying with my sister in Crown Point, Indiana. She's been living here the last dozen years or so. Also located in Crown Point is the server hosting my blog, which I took a tour of while I was here (for security reasons I was forced to wear a mask and delete all geolocation information from the photo above). The most notable landmark of Crown Point is the courthouse, top-middle photo. The second most notable landmark are my sister's cats.
DAY 10 //
JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK · QUEBEC · CANADA
NOV 10 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 10 // Another day trip with my friend David. Despite the freezing weather, we did some hiking and even ran across a family of moose.
DAY 9 //
MONTMORENCY FALLS · QUEBEC · CANADA
NOV 09 2013 // DAY TRIP
DAY 9 // Took a drive with my friend David to Montmorency Falls. Along the way we drove around the Ile d'Orleans, an island in the Saint Lawerence River. Here are several of Quebec's Les Plus Beaux Villages. These 'Most Beautiful Villages' are part of a cultural program to preserve not just the beauty and history of the villages themselves, but also the rural lands surrounding them (which often in the US are swallowed wholesale by suburban sprawl). Saw some beautiful countryside and even where maple syrup comes from.
DAY 7 //
QUEBEC CITY · QUEBEC · CANADA
NOV 07 2013 // 4 DAYS
DAY 7 // Arrived in the heart of French Canada by train today. Where only 66% of Montreal speaks French as their first language, 94% of Quebec City does. My first foreign land -- and quite possibly one of the most beautiful I'll ever visit. By far the most 'European' city in North America. Staying with another couchsurfing friend.
DAY 2 //
MONTREAL · QUEBEC · CANADA
NOV 02 2013 // 5 DAYS
DAY 2 // Oh Canada. After a full day on the train I've arrived in Canada's second largest city. I'm staying with an old couchsurfing friend. It's cold. Maybe November wasn't the best month to visit my northern neighbor. But rain or shine, sleet or snow, I push on.
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My hike up Mount Royal...
DAY 1 //
NEW YORK CITY · NEW YORK · UNITED STATES
NOV 01 2013 // 1701 DAYS
DAY 1 // Set off on my trip today. Strange that today should feel so much like any other. But spontaneous whim has finally met meticulous planning. I could write a great many pages about New York, that sprawling metropolis of light and glass and concrete, itself a magical realm that both grants and plunders the dreams of those that would seek out its shores. This city is one of the great engines of the human spirit. And today I leave it behind. This morning I took the C train, as I always do on my way to work, but then I did not transfer to the E; instead I boarded an Amtrak train bound for French Canada. Such a small detail, to step onto one train instead of another. And yet now my life is forever changed. So it goes.
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I feel this is a story that needs a little introduction. My name is Daniel. I was born in Indiana. I grew up on a collection of farms. We were of modest means and so I never knew much of the world, I had never left the Midwest, I had never seen a proper city. But I did dream, I dreamed of what lay beyond the horizon, beyond the fields. My dream of exploring lands unknown to me was granted after highschool; I applied to colleges in Boston and Hawaii, both places I had never been, both places that marked the furthest distance from home I could go.
In the end I chose Boston. This was perhaps the best and worst decision I've ever made. Those years were among the best and most formative of my life. Yet I sometimes wonder if the financial cost, if the economic burden I took on, was worth the opportunity, the privilege, to study so far from home. Those financial demons haunted me for a full decade to come. I was a prisoner to my monthly obligations to the student loan sharks and credit cards offers I had used to fund my educational expedition. A sort of malaise overtook my life. In seeking freedom I had naively assured that for much of my youth I would have none.
But I was not one to stay down. I took on three jobs. I worked sixteen hours per day, often seven days per week, sometimes going a hundred or more days in a row without a day off (my record was two hundred and twelve). I would not allow my self to be defeated, to resign to the whims of the universe. I still had dreams. Boston was only the beginning. New York City would follow. There I became a project director for the city, hiring and overseeing private contractors to provide quality of life services to the Manhattan. I made a decent salary. I made the city a better place. And it was finally there that I was able to pay off my debts. From that point I was able to save. Which brings me to today, the day I embark on a new chapter of my life.
GOODBYE NEW YORK
And thanks for all the fish...