Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Island Exploration

Not much to post today.  I spent the morning doing laundry,  and the afternoon I rented a car and drove around as much of the island as I could.  Turns out it's a bigger island than I thought,  although,  it still is a pretty small island.  I walked around on the rocky,  rough north shore of the island,  then found a small beach which nearly no one on it.  The beach didn't look that great, but I decided to give it a shot.  I hopped in the water and swam around for a while.  Very nice.  After I got out,  I didn't have enough time to scope out other beaches for a good sunset,  so I decided to stay there. 



As sunset approached,  I just patiently waited to see what would reveal itself,  and after a while noticed the boats on the shore,  a few trees,  and a small hut.  After doing a few test shoots,  I decided to focus on the boats.  Here for your consideration,  three variations on this evening's sunset in the tropics.

After the sunset concluded,  I walked across the street to a small outdoor grill and restaurant.  I'm figuring out that the beef sate on this island is usually excellent,  and tonight was no exception.  It continues to be odd to me that I can be on a small Carribean island and find a restaurant that has the flag of Friesland displayed,  and blue and white delft tiles in the bathroom that depict typical Dutch scenes,  windmills,  narrow tall houses,  and windswept Dutch children traditionally dressed on the shore with wooden shoes.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Suriname Tourist Card!

Hello readers.
I am extremely pleased to report that I have obtained a Suriname Tourist Card!  This little tiny piece of paper has caused me a ton of heartache,  there is a length story about my quest to find out what it took to get one while back in Seattle.  It is,  in fact,  the main reason I'm in Curacao and not in Suriname already,  turns out that you can buy one at the airport if you're flying in from Amsterdam,  but not otherwise.  Couldn't get one via my Visa services,  as it took too long (which in retrospect is probably not true),  and couldn't get one in the US without screwing up my already booked flights.  I already threw away one flight from Aruba to Suriname,  I'm looking forward to not having to do that again.

Of course,  getting the tourist card here is not without its own story.  You'd think you'd be able to show up at the Suriname consolate,  pay them money,  get the card,  and be good to go.  Was this possible?  No,  of course not.  It's like they looked at all of the possible ways to get them money,  and chose the most convoluted one.  The official gave me a tiny piece of paper with Dutch on it,  which was apparently instructions to go to a local bank,  deposit 30 USD in a bank account (listed on the paper),  get the receipt for the transaction (which required multiple stamps at the bank),  return to the Suriname consolate with the paper,  hand in two copies of my passport and a copy of my plane reservations,  and only then could I get the Tourist Card. 

So lets review.  The tourist card costs $25.  I spent $240 on a flight from Aruba to Suriname that I had to through away for not being able to get the tourist card at the airport,  I spent $60 on the 4 taxi cab rides necessary today between my hotel,  the consolate,  the bank,  the consolate and the hotel again.  $5 for a processing fee for the card.  $90 for the flight from Aruba to Curacao that I wouldn't have otherwise taken,  plus a bunch of money spent in Curacao which I'm not counting since it's been a lot of fun and I'm glad I'm here.  :)  That makes $420 spent for the opportunity to spend more money in Suriname.  I kind of feel the same way about this tourist card as I do about the divi divi tree.  As in,  screw you tourist card,  I got you,  booyah.  So there.  Tourist Card ha ha!

The rest of the day was cloudy in Curacao,  I got a few images,  they're below.  Nice sunset,  although really tough to shoot this time of year,  the sun sets behind the "Mega Pier,"  which so far has always had either a large container ship or a passenger cruise boat docked at it.  No nice little beach to shoot the sunset with near downtown Willemstad. 

One last story.  I've been making friends with the owner of a small waterfront outdoor restaurant,  mainly because they have excellent food,  and it's extraodinarily pleasant to sit there as dusk fades and watch the small human dramas being played out on the plaza.  Today someone's car stalled on the small street that runs between the plaza and the water front.  Of course,  traffic started piling up,  then someone helped push the car out of the way,  which was subsequently abandoned.  When the tow truck showed up,  it also blocked the street,  more honking,  eventually everything cleared.  The beer which went well with this scene was Polar,  from Venezuela.  Light, refreshing,  perfect for a warm evening with gentle ocean breezes.  The owner of this restaurant claims that his long term girlfriend is a top basketball player in Canada,  who regularly plays in foreign country.  He said that she was named #1 most valuable player by some magazine recently,  and he said that he told her that she was his number one every week.  :)  I told him that was a very good answer.  :)

Ok,  I lied, this is the last story.  Because I'm in a Dutch speaking country,  blogspot has transformed all my links into Dutch.  Good thing it also color codes them,  so I still have been able to figure out how to do basic blog posting.  After every post,  I get a success message,  which I'll finish this post up with:  ""Uw blogbericht is gepubliceerd!"


Ah!  That's where I left it.  I knew I had put the internet around here somewhere,



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just because, more photos

I took these yesterday,  and quite like them.  So hooray!  More photos than you require!




Down Day

Well,  my plan for today did not happen,  the person who I met recently was not able to show me around the island today, so instead I spent a lot of time planning part of my Brazil route.  Sadly,  I am running low on time to be able to spent time in the Amazon rainforest as well as take a slow boat trip up the river itself.  I'm dropping the river,  which is sad,  but it's otherwise trying to cram too much into too short of time. 

So

Instead,  lets have more photos from Curacao.  :)




More Curacao Images - Minimalist

Willemstad has been a very rich source for photography for me.  Here are a few more images.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Curacao

Hello all,
I looked at the date today,  and realized it's still January.  With apologies to my cold friends and relatives,  this seems absurd to me.  Weather here seems to be in the 80's,  and it's always partly cloudy,  except when a big wet cloud moves through,  then it rains,  really hard,  but only for about 15 minutes.  The cloud moves on,  the sun comes out,  and the roads dry up pretty quickly.  During those 15 minutes everyone jumps under shop awnings,  or into cafes.  The outdoor cafe owners all run around,  tip chairs up,  hide couch cushions,  and make sure the umbrellas aren't blowing away.  (which,  they aren't.  They've got the umbrella thing figured out here.  Good umbrella engineering around this place)  So yeah.  January?  Feels like July to me,  and I suspect it more or less permanently feels like July here.  Curacao isn't even in the normal path of hurricanes,  so it's summer,  always. 

Today I spent more time exploring Willemstad.  As I mentioned yesterday,  the city is split in two,  half on the north side,  half on the south side.  My hotel is on the south side,  so I ventured over to the north side,  and promptly got lost in a series of slightly sketchy alleys,  all of which I thought would lead me back to the main road,  but mostly which kept leading me into increasingly smaller and more sketchy alleys.  Nothing bad happened,  I found my way back,  no problem,  but I was reminded of the advice that many people gave me before I left,  which was,  "trust your instincts."  My instincts said, "no"  as I turned down the first alley,  but I ignored them,  and kept going.  Again,  nothing bad happened,  but it's a valuable lesson,  as I will be soon traveling to places not quite as touristy or safe as this Carribean island.

Today was also a shopping day.  I had an adventure that took me through several tiny electronics stores trying to find first an unlocked quad band cell phone,  then a SIM chip for it,  and finally,  minutes for the SIM chip.  I now am a proud new owner of a little Samsung flip phone,  I have no idea what I'll use it for after I get back to Seattle,  but it will come in very handy once I get to Brazil,  I expect.

Ok,  ok,  a shopping story,  kind of boring,  and really not the big adventure of the day.

Today actually didn't have any big adventures,  just some nice small ones.  Pretty much exactly what I needed,  I've still been trying to get the hang of this travel thing,  and today helped a lot with that.  The most important thing to remember is to eat food when I start to get hungry.  The hungrier you get in a foreign country,  the harder it is to think clearly about where to find food.  Also!  I have discovered,  I think,  a cultural difference where the US does things differently than the rest of the world.  The last time I discovered one of these,  it was the realization that other countries don't have smaller cars,  the US has abnormally large cars.  That was a good one,  I thought.  Today I figured out that other countries don't eat slowly,  the US dines quickly.  Ever meal I've had so far while traveling has taken a sweet long time to arrive.  Mostly I don't care,  I have nothing else to do,  but when I'm hungry,  I'm hungry,  and this morning I nearly fell asleep waiting for my breakfast to arrive.  When it did,  I wolfed it down very quickly...except for the classically served Dutch coffee,  which demanded sugar and condensed milk and two small windmill cookies.  That coffee required that I sip it and enjoy it,  so I did.  Eating when I'm supposed to,  and taking into account longer serving times has made things much more enjoyable.

Speaking of the Dutch,  pretty much everyone here is.  People born in Curacao get Dutch passports,  and the country,  according to wikipedia,  is "a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands."  It's also Carribean,  for sure,  and I got some photos today of some of the run down buildings outside of the city center.  It has become a fun game for me to try to pick out who might be the Americans when I'm walking down the street.  I've been very sure a couple of times,  only to walk past them,  and hear them speaking Dutch.  In fact,  I've been wrong every time.  But that's okay, at least one person was wrong about me as well.  When I was walking back to my hotel last night,  I was propositioned by a guy in a car who offered to give me a ride around.  After I declined and walked away,  it occurred to me that during the course of our conversation,  he had said,  "Are you Dutch?"  and I replied,  "No."  That may be the only time I've ever answered that question that way. 

One last story,  then some photos.  Curacao is no where near as sketchy as I've described it here today.  I had two minor experiences,  but otherwise,  it has continued to be very good,  and better now that I'm eating properly. :)  Tonight the restaurant that I've been going to closed early,  the chef's father fell off a cliff and hasn't been found.  I'll try to find out on Monday what happened.

Okay!  Photos.






One last thought.  I'm taking a lot of photos and thoroughly enjoying it, but boy oh boy,  is this going to require many hours of editing after I get back to Seattle. 

Curaco Report

Good morning everyone.  As I noted yesterday,  I made it safely to Curacao after a minor delay from having missed my 8am flight.  Having learned my lesson of driving around without a proper map of the area,  instead of renting a car yesterday I took a taxi to my hotel.  This made for a much more pleasant trip,  although somewhat expensive.

Most of the day I spent walking around Willemstad.  I was feeling a little under the weather,  so I didn't push myself to hard,  just kind of strolled and sat,  and took pictures where I found interesting things.  Of course,  it wouldn't be an adventure without a story,  and today I have two.

The first is this.  The city of Willemstad is divided in half by a very large natural harbor.  The opening of this harbor is fairly narrow,  and Willemstad sits on both sides of this outlet to the sea.  There is plenty of marine traffic that goes through this harbor,  and especially as there is an oil refinery further back in the harbor,  large ships and tugboats tend to move through here frequently.

In 1888 someone got the idea to build a floating bridge across the harbor entrance.  In 1939 the bridge was renovated,  and still exists today. 

Now,  a floating bridge I have no problem with.  Seattle has 2 floating bridges,  and there's a third out on Hood Canal.  But this particular bridge,  named the Queen Emma Bridge,  swings open and closed.  One side of the bridge is permamently attached to the north side,  on the south side of the bridge there is a small pilot house,  and the bridgekeeper stays in there and moves the bridge when boat traffic comes through.  This is all done of course with the proper loud bells,  gates closing,  etc.  A boat approaches,  and the alarm sounds,  people hop on or off the bridge,  depending on which direction they're going,  the gates close,  and the bridgekeeper fires up the engines for the bridge.  The bridge then put-puts out of the way,  boat goes through,  bridge swings back in,  the gates open,  and people begin crossing again.

A fun note, actually,  is that they don't usually kick you off the bridge,  so you can ride the bridge as it's opening and closing.  Yesterday there was a small musical performing group that just stayed in the middle of the bridge and rode the bridge all day long.

Ok, so,  this bridge,  it is definitely unique.  But it's also kind of insane.  I had dinner near the bridge last night,  and every 20 or 30 minutes or so,  the bells would go off,  people would scurry,  the bridge would motor itself open,  and then close again,  only to repeat a short time later.  And this bridge is some 550 feet long,  this is not a small bridge.  At one point the bridge swung completely open,  and the pilot house was now only 10 feet from the north bank.  I wanted to hop on there and let it take me back to the South side,  but that was sadly not possible.  Oh,  also I should note,  that when the bridge is open for a longer period of time,  there is a small foot ferry that plies the passage back and forth.  I took that instead,  since the bridge was open for an oil tanker that took a good long time to move through. 

So, maybe the bridge is the best design for the area.  A larger draw bridge might have done bad things to the unique and interesting architecture of Willemstad.  (which,  I should note,  looks like a pastel version of Amsterdam)  Or maybe 550 feet is too long for a quickly movable draw bridge.  It's hard to know,  and certainly the swinging bridge is a tourist attraction at this point.  But I have to wonder whose job it is to pilot the bridge.  It's not like piloting a boat,  where you can go where you want,  with the bridge,  you just kind of go back and forth,  and that's about it. 

Ok,  second story.  Last night I was eating dinner in a nice open air restaurant when...sudden downpour.  Like,  really hard, driving rain,  but only for about 15 minutes.  This was towards the end of the dinner hours,  and the few of us remaining in the restaurant moved our tables under the shade canopy.  And then,  like people do,  struck up conversations with each other.  I ended up meeting a man,  Wesley,  who was born in Curacao,  but who now lives in Holland.  He and his wife are here for 5 weeks,  he's got some business to attend to,  but is kind of on vacation as well.  After a long conversation,  he ended up offering to possibly drive me around the island on Sunday.  I'll call him on Sunday morning,  and if things work out,  I will probably have a nice long opportunity to see and hear about things I might not otherwise have had.  This might or might not work out,  we will find out,  but it's very nice to have had the offer made to me. 


Friday, January 27, 2012

Quick Curaco Pics

Too late to write a proper blog entry tonight.  Perhaps tomorrow.  :)  Enjoy these photos.



Aruba Report


Friday,  Jan 27, 2012

I finally have a little bit of downtime to create a decent blog post.  This morning I was supposed to fly fro Aruba to Curacao on an 8am flight.  I arrived at the airport at about 7:15am,  which apparently was not soon enough.  I've been booked on a 12:10pm flight,  so now I'm in the airport lounge,  which is actually a nice open air area,  it's warm,  but there's a nice breeze.  I'm wearing shorts and thinking that this is a nice break from Seattle weather.

The last two days have been kind of a fast blur,  but they've already produced some good stories.  The first of these is getting a car rental in Aruba.  I didn't have one initially reserved,  and didn't think it was a problem.  As I was walking out of the airport,  I was approached by a guy who asked me if I was looking for a car.  I said I was,  and he said,  "Toyota Camry,  $55"  I got his card,  told him I was going to shop around,  and kept walking.  I went into Thrifty I think it was,  and asked.  They only had large cars for $70.  I figured that was too much,  and planned to go back to the guy on the street,  but had the inspiration to ask the woman at Thrifty if she thought the guy on the street was reliable.  She took the card from me,  called the phone number listed on the card,  and said,  "sure,  yes."  A few minutes later someone from what appeared to be an entirely different car rental place showed up,  and the woman at Thrifty told me that they were there for me,  and that I should go with them.  So I did.  I ended up at a small little car rental place across the street from the airport,  ended up in some old beat up vehicle,  and paid $60.  Since I knew I had an early flight, I asked them how I was going to return the car,  they gave me instructions to park it at the airport,  leave it unlocked,  with the keys under the matt.  Which I did.  Hopefully they figure out where it is,  and don't charge my card for a missing car.  

Here's another story:  As I was getting my car,  the rental guys asked what hotel I was in.  I told them "Paradera Park Hotel,"  and none of them had ever heard of it.  I figured that was probably ok,  as I had a map I had printed from Google showing me the location of it.  What I did not realize is that google maps had in fact not recognized the address I had given it,  but did know the neighborhood,  so it gave me a map of the neighborhood instead.  The marker for the center of the neighborhood,  unsurprisingly,  was not the location of my hotel.  So I drove around for a while,  and discovered that the main street through the Paradera neighborhood had house numbers,  and my address was 203 Paradera.  "Easy."  I thought to myself,  I'll drive along this street until I find the address.  Unfortunately,  the last address on that street was 189 Paradera,  then it became a different neighborhood,  the street name changed,  and no hotel.  Driving around more I discovered that the back roads also all had similar addresses,  and that I could find 397 Paradera several blocks off the main drive.  About this time I also discovered that on the north side of the main road were odd numbers,  on the south side were even numbers.  That cut my search in half,  but still to no avail.  I finally gave up,  rolled down my window,  and asked a guy who was just arriving at his own home.  In broken English, he said, "sure, follow me."  and I drove around following him....directly to a small bar,  where he stopped and went inside.  I waited for him a little while in my car, then parked it,  and went in after him, along with my map and address.  The bar was tiny,  no chairs,  only a counter under a tin roof.  Animated discussion was happening in a language I didn't understand,  but didn't sound entirely like Dutch.  between the bar tender,  and the 3 older guys drinking beer,  what seemed like reasonable directions were communicated to the guy I was following.  

I should point out at this time that I never did get the name of the guy I was following,  but he was about 65,  had windblown blonde-but-moving-towards-grey hair, and looked like he might have been named something like Aalbers,  so I'm going to call him that.  

Aalbers then offered to buy me a beer, but I was wanting to find my hotel at that point,  so I declined as graciously as I could,  and we continued our search,  me following him in his car.  We drove straight to a place that was not correct,  but was oh,  so very close,  which we did not know at the time.  We got out,  walked around,  scratched our heads,  and he said, "okay,  follow me."  We then drove next to a Mexican restaurant,  which was south of the main street,  so now I know we're not in the right place.  Again he stops,  goes in the restaurant,  and asks,  and by now he's also been calling his wife and other friends.  After waiting a while,  I follow him in,  and shortly after that,  he realizes that he's supposed to be looking for 203 Paradera,  not 230 Paradera.  "Ooooh!" he says in a particularly Dutch way,  "on one side of the street,  2, 4, 6,  on the other side,  1, 3, 5."  I agree with this,  and we hop in our cars and take off.  I think he had bought another beer at this point and was drinking it as we headed back north across the main street,  and drove pretty much straight to the hotel.  

Adventure.

I thanked him profusely,  and he took off.  Total time looking for hotel, 2 hours,  half of which was spent with Aalbers,  who in retrospect,  I probably should have had a beer with.  

My final story for this post:  Searching for the damn Divi Divi Tree. 

I really only had one thing I wanted to accomplish for my day in Aruba,  and that was to get a nice shot of a divi divi tree.  If you don't immediately know what this is,  google it,  and you'll immediately recognize it,  as photos of this tree are pretty much the classic shot of Aruba.  You've seen this tree,  and you'll recognize it as soon as you see the pictures of it.  (or,  actually,  see my previous blog post,  since I did eventually get my shot of this tree)

I knew that this tree was on Eagle Beach, and I knew mostly where Eagle Beach was.  When I was checking into my hotel though,  and getting a much better map of the island,  the woman in the office gave me wrong directions to Eagle Beach.  I had probably an hour of sunlight left,  so I headed there,  found the beach she had told me to go to,  and not a single damn divi divi tree in sight.  "Fine,"  I thought to myself,  "a good photographer looks around and sees what interesting things there are to shoot,  and focuses on then,  despite disappointments."  Which I did, and got a handful of nice sunset photos.  Then sun disappeared below the horizon,  and I got in my car....and decided to keep looking.  This took me to 3 more beaches,  some unmarked,  none of which had a single divi divi tree.  By now I was getting hungry,  and nearly ready to give up.  I finally stopped at one last place,  and I found the damn divi divi tree.  And I got my photograph of it.  So take that, you stupid tree.  I found you and got my photograph of you.  Booyah.  

A few last thoughts.  Before I left home,  I was pretty nervous about this trip.  I find myself still very nervous,  but have been focusing on the following things to help: (1) Take things one thing at a time.  Only worry about the one thing I need to be doing now,  and worry about future things in the future.  (2)  Realize that I've been adjusting to a ton of new stuff in a very short period of time,  and that many travelers doing this sort of thing feel this kind of anxiety at the beginning of their trip.  (3) Think about the fact that I'm loved by many people.  In particular,  this last one was what finally helped me fall asleep last night,  and I want to thank everyone who has been supportive of me for this trip,  and who have helped me along the way.  


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Made it to Aruba!

Well,  I made it to Aruba.  Lots of time consuming things happened today,  including getting a rental car from an odd local car rental place,  my day pack zipper might be malfunctioning,  and I couldn't find my hotel, drove around for hours with the help of a guy who couldn't find it either.  Also,  trying to find the one thing I wanted to photograph,  the divi divi tree,  drove me nuts.  I finally found it,  and got the shot below.  Aruba is nice,  very similar to Hawaii in many respects.  Blog posts will probably be short for a while as I get the hang of this.  Enjoy the photos.

oh,  and apparently blogspot knows I'm in Aruba,  so all my links are in Dutch.  Lovely.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

and we're off!

just finished packing,  have to do some car swapping,  etc.  Plane leaves in a few hours.  :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

So….Where Am I Going, Anyway?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how a good definition of adventure is,  “something that doesn’t work out like you planned.”  With my wrangling to get a Suriname Tourist Card,  this journey has already been an adventure,  and I haven’t even left yet.

With that in mind,  here is my planned route. 

Leg 1:  “Adventure”  Seattle->Aruba->Curacao->Suriname->French Guiana->Brazil


Leg 1 is the high adventure portion of this trip.  Overland routes through strange and new countries,  taking lots of local busses,  and dugout canoes across wide rivers in order to reach my destinations.  Once in Brazil,  the adventure continues,  as I’ll be taking a mud road that gets bad during rainy season.  I’ll be there in a temporary lull between a small rainy season and a large rainy season….probably.  As with most things weather related,  the rain doesn’t pay especially close attention to statistics published in the tourist guide.

Leg 2:  “Tourist view of Brazil”  Macapa->Manaus->Rio de Janiero->Brasilia->Iguassu Falls-> Montevideo (Uruguay)->Buenos Aires (Argentina)


Leg 2 is a much more well-trodden path of tourism.  It’s the Amazon rainforest and Rio for Carnival.  It’s Brasilia to view the architecture of a city planned and built in just 41 months.  It’s the giant set of waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil,  and the relaxation of the large modern cities of Montevideo and Buenos Aires.   This is the part of the journey where I play the tourist,  watch the amazing sights,  and stay with new friends.

Leg 3:  “Whatever comes up”  Buenos Aires to ???

 
The final leg of my journey will take me from Buenos Aires to somewhere else, which could be any of Santiago, Chile,  Easter Island,  Torres del  Paine National Forest,  Galapagos Islands (Equador), Machu Picchu (Peru),  or the great salt flats of Bolivia.  Or perhaps I’ll just hang out in Buenos Aires for a month and drink and eat well.  This leg of my journey I am deliberately leaving a blank slate.  I’ll have about a month left between the time that I wash up in Argentina and having to be back home in Seattle.  I don’t know what I’ll want to do at that point,  but I’ll talk with lots of other travelers,  see what I feel like,  and just play it by ear. 

Unless,  of course,  adventure happens,  and it doesn’t go according to plan.  Then who knows.  I could end up nearly anywhere. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day

Today Seattle is covered with snow. This normally brings much hand-wringing and the usual things you hear when Seattleites talk about snow like “I grew up in the Midwest and know how to drive on this,” and “There’s no way I’ll drive on this, I know how, but everyone else out there doesn’t, and is a danger to themselves and others.”

Today would be a perfect day to sit inside and work on travel planning….but….perhaps it’s time for a break for me.

So I sit back and assess where I’m at. I’ve got a bunch of plane tickets, but not all of them. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what my itinerary will be, but there are parts left open. I’ve been in touch with my contacts in Rio and Brasilia, and it looks like I’ll be attending Carnival, which is super exciting.

Here is my list of things I still need to do:
- Buy a backpack, and pack
- Tweak my flights in the Carribean so I can have enough to time to grab my Suriname Tourist Card in Curacao.
- Get a bunch of memory chips for my camera
- Pick up a “Learn Portuguese” book on tape from the library
- Research exit taxes for the countries I’m traveling through
- Get a haircut

Seems like a pretty reasonable list. Of course, I could keep on planning for weeks and weeks, nail down exactly what hostels I’m staying in, nail down flights in Brazil, nail down car rentals in a few places, that sort of thing, but, I think I’m good for now.

And after all, it is a snow day.

I leave you with a photo from my trip to Vermont in late October of this year, mainly because I haven't taken a good photo of today's snowfall yet.

iPhone app test

Just checking to see if my new iPod blog app works. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Curacao Comes Through!

I'm extremely pleased to report that I received the following email yesterday:

"Accept my apoligy Dear sir, It is possible to get the tourist in Curacao. We are open from 09 00 till 12. 00."

All I have to do is arrange a few flights, and I'm good to go! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Pronounce Curaçao

"If I'm going to be there,"  I thought to myself,  "I might as well learn how to say the name of the country correctly."  Fortunately Youtube is here to help.

Suriname Hates Me

Today I found out that Tourist Cards for Suriname are available at the airport only if you're arriving from Amsterdam.  Why this might be,  I have no idea,  but it's pretty unlikely that I'll be making a quick side trip to The Netherlands in the middle of winter with nothing but shorts and t-shirt in my backpack to pick up a Tourist Card.

If the Suriname consulate in Curacao makes this right for me,  I can still make it to Suriname.  Otherwise I guess I just hang out and do some Caribbean island hopping before flying directly into Brazil. 


I think I see a resemblance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The First of Three Leavings


At the end of the week of Burning Man,  there are two events which signal the close of the event.  The first of these is the burning of The Man.  This burn all party, the art cars are there with their lights on and music blaring,  there are many thousands of people running around, and it's a giant celebration.


The second burn is the burning of the Temple,  on which people have written things that are meaningful to them.  They've done this all week long and when the temple burns,  it is a largely silent event. 


At the end of the temple burn,  I begin the long walk back to my camp,  where everything is packed.  I sleep in the cab of my rented truck,  and I leave very early the next morning.  Leaving Burning Man doesn't start when I drive off the desert floor though,  it starts with that first footstep after the temple has burned to the ground.  Leaving Burning Man takes a long time.  Turning my back on the smoldering pile of lumber,  and beginning that long walk back, for me that is the beginning of leaving Burning Man each year.

Today I had a similar experience.  Over the course of the last several months I've been seeing a therapist to help me through some tough times.  Tonight was my last session with her,  and walking out of her office at the end of it,  getting in my car and driving home felt a little like leaving Burning Man.

There are two more leavings that will happen.  One of them is my last day at work.  Even though I know I’ll be back,  I won’t be coming back to the same team when I do.  Walking out of my office for the last time on Friday will be the second leaving.

The third one will be the most painful of all.  I have been seeing a wonderful woman for the last several months,  and I will see her in Portland this weekend.  When we part ways there though,  I’ll be traveling for three months,  and then she’ll be moving to Thailand to teach English for a year,  possibly longer.  Although there’s a possibility I’ll see her towards the end of my trip, and I may very well fly out to Thailand to visit her sometime in 2012,  it most likely will be,  for us,  the last time we see each other for a long time.

And I met her at Burning Man.