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Adventure Works

Posted by Jason del Sur in Brazil 2014
August 21st, 2014

My last post on this blog was July 9, 2012. Over two years ago. That is simply unacceptable. Part has been a lack of international travel, and part has been that I got so far behind on the South America trip that the thought of catching up became too daunting. But it’s time to get back on that horse and make a change.

I was recently inspired by two things to get this blog up to date:

A couple weekends ago, I flew out to Oklahoma for my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. There I was praised by my family and friends for the blog, and that they missed it. It was crazy to meet people for the first time who knew me so well through my words and pictures. This has inspired me to catch up on the South America trip (and the subsequent Paris trip). They’ll be shorter posts as I want to get them out quickly (and my memory of the details has somewhat faded). I have the next three lined up, and more in the works.

The second thing, which I am taking this opportunity to announce: my next adventure in Brazil. This Sunday night (after a camping sojourn to the magical land of Spotted Cow, New Glarus, WI), I will journey below the equator and  once again relish in the beauty of the Southern Cross. This will be a different kind of trip: I’ll only be in a couple places, and will be working for a large portion of it. As part of a “developer exchange program” that my company has been working on I will be in São Paulo working out of the office of Platformatec, a consulting shop similar to Table XI where I work. I’ll also be attending RubyConf a software development conference with the fine Platformatec folk.

I’ll be in São Paulo for two weeks, which will be the longest I’ve stayed in any one international city. I’m excited to really experience the city in a much more intimate way that can only be experienced through a prolonged residency. There will be a third week that will be solely vacation. I’m still finalizing details of that week, but will include a stop in Belo Horizonte to visit a friend and check out live music.

And just because I love this picture of my grandparent:

Grandparents

Some Kind of Jetlag

Posted by Jason del Sur in South America 2012
July 19th, 2012

I’ll call it latitudinal jet lag.

As my travels were due south, there was no drastic time zone shift upon my return to reality. But my circadian rhythm has been thrown out of whack nonetheless. When I left Chicago in February the sun was setting around 5pm. In Argentina summer was in its final weeks and autumn was quickly approaching (that still didn’t stop the excessive heat in Buenos Aires, though). Unlike the northern hemisphere at the time my days were waning shorter; sunset was getting earlier.

Towards the end of my trip I approached the mitad del mundo–the middle of the earth. On one of my final days I even visited the equator just outside of Quito. I had never thought about it before, but at the equator, the days never grow longer or shorter: they’re always twelve hours long. In Quito, no matter the time of year, the sun always rises at 6am and always sets at 6pm. It makes sense they would never have daylight savings there.

After many months of five and six o’clock sunsets, my body adjusted its circadian rhythm to know that when the sun falls there’s about seven or eight more hours before bedtime (assuming it wasn’t a big party night). I was in for quite a shock when I landed back in Chicago and it wouldn’t get dark until nine o’clock. My body wasn’t ready for its daily dose of dreaming until three or four in the morning. It’s now two months later and my body still is confused by the time. Before I left, it was already dark when I would leave work. Now the cue of it’s dark, it’s time to go home is gone. I find myself caught up in work and checking the time and realizing it’s way past time to leave.

I can’t say I’m complaining about the extra hours of daylight–having some sun on the way home from work is nice–but a more regular sleep cycle would be welcomed.

Social Media Posts

If I were still in Ecuador, I could be climbing Cotopaxi for the supermoon. On a separate note, I have a problem where I keep pronouncing Cinco de Mayo with an Argentinian “y”.
— Facebook. May 5, 2012

So far the only thing I’m enjoying about being back in the states is being able to throw toilet paper in the toilet.
— Twitter. May 4, 2012

Really don’t want to get on that airplane today. — at Aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre.
— Facebook. May 4, 2012

Floating Islands

Posted by Jason del Sur in South America 2012
May 9th, 2012

Ever since I was little it’s been impossible for me to say Titicaca without giggling at least a little bit. Even as I stand at its shore, maturity still has yet to grace me. At least it’s complemented by a sense of awe at the immensity and beauty of this tranquil lake. It could just be the lack of oxygen at this altitude, though.

I boarded the bus in La Paz and journeyed several hours before we had to debarque from the bus to ferry across the lake. After reboarding and continuing a little further, we reached the calm lakeside town of Copacabana. The lethargy of the town was evident by how slowly my pizza reached me. I didn’t even have time to eat more than a slice before I had to return to the bus station to travel onward. We crossed the border into Peru, exchanged Bolivianos for Nuevo Soles, and continued on.

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Puno, on the western shore of Lake Titicaca is a dirty town. There is one main touristy strip full of restaurants and bars. Outside of that, the town is gritty and not particularly pleasant. I did stumble upon a real supermarket, which threw me off balance. Imaging a large Jewel or Kroger that also sells TVs and washing machines. It had been weeks since I had seen anything besides kioscos and street carts. Knowing that I would be spending the next evening with a local family, I purchased some gifts of rice, fruit, and cookies for the children.

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The next morning, I was picked up early to head out to the islands of Titicaca. In the shallows of the lake are the Uros Islands, also known as the Floating Islands. Made of mud and reeds, the natives live in small communities of 3 to 4 families.

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Roger, the “president” of one of the island gave us an explanation of their life and heritage in Quechua while our guide translated. Formerly, their lives consisted primarily of fishing. Now it’s all tourism and handicrafts. The children go to the mainland for school, and very few return home once they’ve grown, leading to a dwindling of the Uros population. In several years, I believe it’s unlikely that anyone will still live there except for a few families supporting the tourist demand.

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We continued on to the island of Amantaní. Once again, tourism has changed their way of life, and most families now live on a little bit of farming and the money they make from tourists doing homestays. My family was incredibly welcoming, and the children were adorable. The young girl Barbara (the mother claimed the daughter and her brother Brian’s names were biblical, but I don’t buy it) would constantly pop up cooing ¡hola!

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After a meal of local vegetables: 4 different types of potatoes and several roots I’ve never seen before, our group took an afternoon trek up Pachamama (Mother Earth in Quechua). Atop the hill stands a temple where the people come to give offerings to Mother Earth. Looking down at the placid lake below, there is a serene power permeating the air. I almost stopped chuckling at its name.

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As the sun falls, the peacefulness grows. The blues of the sky mingle with the azur water. The shadow of the temple against the sky darkens. The air begins to grow chilly. It’s time to head back down the hill. It’s fiesta time with the locals.

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Ecuador Social Media Posts

Posted by Jason del Sur in Uncategorized
May 3rd, 2012

I got really far behind on my actual blog posts at this point, so here are a few Facebook and Twitter posts from my time in Ecuador:

A series of “oh, I’ll just stay here on more night” and overly expensive Peru-Ecuador plane tickets might lead me to have to miss the Galapagos on this trip. Any suggestions on how I should spend the next week getting from northern Peru to Quito?
— Mancora, Peru. Facebook. April 25, 2012

Exciting detour tomorrow to the Ecuadorian coast to see Elena!
— Montañita, Ecuador. Facebook. April 27, 2012

Well, I’m glad the bastards waited until the end of the trip to pickpocket my camera.
— Quito, Ecuador. Facebook. May 2, 2012.

On the equator. — at Mitad del Mundo
— Quito, Ecuador. Facebook. May 3, 2012

La Paz Photos

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
April 26th, 2012

Here’s a full photo album of my time in La Paz including Lucha Libre and Death Road.

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And a little insight into my time in La Paz.

“do you have any plans for tomorrow? because I don’t know about you, but I plan on getting ridiculously drunk tonight.”

5 minutes later: “this is going to sound ridiculous but I have to be up tomorrow at 7 to be on Bolivian television”

 

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