Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Congratulation senior Paz, you have a motorcycle

I have decided to buy a motorcycle. So i bought a motorcycle. Payed 1100 US$ and it was mine, not really that fast, had to go through some Latin bureaucracy, but after 3 weeks i could finally ride it.

It has been my dream for a long time and finally i had the courage to fulfill it. It is a nice little Chinese bike, 150 c”c, looks like a chopper, but it is not even close to the ultimate bike you can get for this task. Actually, this bike is far from being suitable for this kind of trip, but it was the only one which fitted my budget, so i guess i will have to win this trip with what i have.
I came to the this decision after my last trip in west Africa. Me and Ori rented a small 90 c”c scooter bike for 3 days and we cruised around the dusty unpaved roads, arriving to small villages with no tourist attractions or importance. These were the genuine moments of our trip. We were able to meet people and visit places which were far off the tourist trail.
Now, in this trip, i have had the same urge to escape from the Gringo Trail, and be able, for just a little while, to enjoy these genuine moments. It will also provide me the ultimate freedom to go when ever i like to where ever i like. As i write these words, i get excited !! :)))
fellow travelers i have met on the road were excited too about this traveling option. actually, they were really surprised how cheap these bikes could be and how affordable could be a trip like this.

The local people i met on the road, all looked at me like a crazy person (or stupid) when i told them about my plan, telling me it will be impossible to cross South America with this poor bike. I listened to them carefully but kept on, and here i am with this lovely noisy machine. Now i have another challenge, to prove them wrong!

In this blog i will try to document my day to day life with the bike. Starting here. The buying day. i will also try to give as much information about the buying process and a list of the people and shops which helped me around. i hope this could guide and help travelers to make this trip as well.

First i looked around the internet for a used cheap bike from a private owner. my budget was around 1500 US$, and I found a few and managed to see one of them. It looked like a brand new one but the owners did not want bargaing and asked a little bit more than 2100 US$. I was also advised by my family here not to deal with private owners, to prevent any possibility of fraud.

I made a day tour around the different motorcycle agencies and on the third one i found him.
He was surrounded by bigger and more serious Japanese bike, which are a lot more expensive in here. I took it for a test drive and all the vital signs were O.K. , at least at my point of view.
I decided that this is my bike and bargained with the dealer with a broken Spanish that proved again to serve me right. I could understand the important stuff, but wear a dumb face were needed. We closed the deal for 1100 US$ and i payed in cash. I could not take it home yet and here starts the FUN part... getting the right papers for the purchase, and then transferring the bike's ownership. I won't feed you with the shitty bureaucracy details, but i can tell you that the Israeli system is concidered much faster and eficient than the one in here. It took me 10 long and frustrating days to get the first paper which allowed me to buy the bike and make the transfer, every day i went out from the house hoping to come back riding the it, but the Argentinians have their own pace and needs. Each day i returned home, my uncle Leibe looked at me with eager eyes, “La Moto ????” he asked. Each time i gave him a slight different answer. Blah blah blah.... papers papers and more papers... after 2 ½ weeks i almost finished all the arangements.
One day i returned home and Leibe welcomed me on the entrance with great excitment shouting “BrrrrrBrrrrrBrrrr..”, i looked at him and told him again that i am still missing one paper, he smiled and asked my attention to the living room. AAHHHH, a shiny bike was parking in the middle of it. It fitted so nice with the brown couches and Margarita's finest china. What a nice surprise. Once again i felt like a small child given a present by his grandparents. The bike stood in the living room for another few days until i found a good insurance company which will make the insurance for most of south America countries. I managed to find one, after a huge market survey, that will cover me in Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay Peru & Brazil.

In the last few days i am preparing the bike for the long ride. Need to make a few little adjustments, buy some cases, a helmet, necessary working tools, spare parts, make a leather cover for the bags to protect them from the rain and thats it, riding day is getting close. My first destination will be Uruguay. I will make a test drive for the bike in this friendly country were the roads are all paved and in good condition. In case i don't have any serious problems, i will continue to north of Argentina and then to Bolivia.

See you there

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back to Buenos Aires

Arriving in Buenos Aires

So, after 2 months of nature, mountains and fresh air, i arrived to Buenos Aires, The big city. City of delights, city of great women (but some say the best women are in Cordoba...), city of old cafes, city of Tango and football, of smoke and cars. I had a little culture shock at the beginning but no worries, it passed after the first restaurant.
I was welcomed by my lovely Uncles Leibe & Margarita. Leibe is one of five brothers of my Grandfather, it means my father's uncle. For me it felt like having cool grandparents again. i arrived to participate in the wedding of Laura & Julian. Laura is the grandchild of Leibe & Margie and of course the child of Sylvio & Christina. Christina, as you can guess by her name is not really the rabbi's daughter, and the wedding took place in a church with all the “do you? do you ? ; i do , i do” ritual. I have offered them to document the day of the wedding until the party at night and they embraces my offer. I was quite excited to participate in a family wedding which would be different from what i know back home, but deep inside i was mostly excited of wearing a full suit for the first time in my life.

3 days before the wedding, Leibe took me to a suite hiring place. It showed right away; the man has style. We picked a nice suit in my size which had to be slightly modified. It felt great !!! i can now understand all that suit chic. Maybe one day, when i feel like getting serious in my life, i'll buy a suit for special occasions. Actually, i think everybody should wear a suit once or twice a year, just like in Purim, it just feels great and powerful to change your identity,or more precisely, feel celebrated and special.

The wedding day had passed just like it does in Israel, Make up, strange hair dos, stress and a happy celebration atmosphere. I acompanied my family with my camera and they were quite curious about the pictures i was taking. They were not acustomed to be photographed like that, in a documentary way, without posing to the camera. It made a nice change for them, and i knew this could be the perfect present for all of them.

The church ceremony was just like in the movies, but this time the bride did not run away to her secret love, because Laura's love was just in front of her. I have witnessed lots of wedding in my life and i could feel that the love they had to each to other was pure. I was also impressed by the Papa, who had a scary resemblance to Marlon Brando in his late years.
The wedding party passed nicely. It resembled the weddings in Israel in many ways, the music, a show, the food and drinks. All good. Nothing more to say about it.

A few days later, the young couple returned from their HoneyMoon in the Iguasu falls. I delivered them the pictures and they loved them. As i expected, the spontanious and natural situations had made the differnce. I was happy to give them something special which is priceless, (well, at least here and now, hahhaha).

..:::Staying with my uncles:::..
My Uncles had set up a room for me in their house and treated me just like their own grandchild. Taking care of me, feeding me with breakfast and dinner every day. I felt like home and I'm great full for that.
One evening we went for a late dinner (in Argentina the usual dinner time is around 22:00) in a restaurant outside the city centre. Leibe put on his driving suit, Margarita made herself as blind and i prayed to the god above. He shifted into first gear and we started rolling the streets of buenos aires in their brown ford taurus. Leibe insisted on showing me different places and telling me interesting facts while he was driving, which distracted him too much and made his driving a “little bit” dangerous. It wasn't too bad inside the city, where his speed did not exceed 50 k”m. A few cars had to make emergency stops and one red light was disregarded. No big deal. I looked at margarita and she didn't even blink. I sayed to myself it is probably normal and kept praying. Then we moved to the highway and when Margarita told him to drive carefully and watch the road, i realized that this could be the ride of my life. You know, sometimes you got to just close your eyes and know that everything will be alright. That's what i did. Leibe zig-zaged through the lanes just like Airton Sena, with a great blind confidence. When we arrived to the restaurant alive and well, margarita had sighed and looked at me with a smiling face. It seemed that she is accustomed to his driving after all these years together, but she was also aware of it and aware of my state of horror.
After this i only let him take me to places at daytime :)

next --->>> A motorcycle has been born.


Monday, May 21, 2007

El Bolson - summer and winter

this entry is still a few weeks late, but i'm getting really close to update you in real time.
it will also be short in words to make it more readable.
i arrived to El Bolson a nice and Tranquil town on the top end of Patagonia, Argentina.
again, i was still excited to trek the mountans and so i did. i joined 2 friends i met in the hostel, Marie, a french girl and Dan, israeli guy.
i planed to walk for 3 days, they wnted to do only 2. so we started the first day in great weather and a realy easy walk through mountain woods. reached the first shelter on the mountain.
all nice and comfortable. i even put my short pants on to celebrate the hot and sunny weather. shit, i look like a German Potz with those pants.
we spent a nice evening in the cabin, cooked dinner and had a good conversation with owners of the cabin who moved to live in the mountains 25 years ago and is living in some kind of solitude since then.
before night fell a young Austrian girl arrived to the cabin with a black dog. he walked with her all the way from the previous cabin. he slept outside and the owners of the cabin asked me to walk him back to his owners, whereever they are. i agreed.
woke up in the moning and the sky were were covered with clouds. it was drizzling. not raining... DRIZZLING. i love this word....
i had decided to keep on walking to the next cabin, a good 6 hours walk, 4 of them in an extremely steep climb. Marie and Dan stayed and headed back to El Bolson. i packed up and took the dog with me. his name for that day was "Chico". i tied him with his collar for just for the first 500 meters and then unleashed him. he was happy to walk with me and i was happy too to have such an hyperactive and quiet companion. we shared the leading.
i climbed the mountain and the weather had become more and more wet and cold. it was still only drizzling, but as i was walking in thick forest, i was comletly soaked after an hour walk. the nice day had chnged into a small nightmare. the small drizzle had tranformed to snow as i was climbing higher. Chico did not mind the weather at all and was as alive as before. i had started to feel too cold and a bit woried as the snowing became more intense. i was the only one on the trail and i couldn't know the trail condition ahead of me. i was still missing 3 hours to the end. i finished the climb and arrived completly wet and exhausted to a close cabin. it was inactive in this time of the year. i opened the cabin and found some dry wood to light the heater. i made some soup and ate bread with cheese. Chico was also eating a bit. he fell asleep snoring on the floor. i was so lucky to have him with me. he actually kept my spirits high on this hard walk. i took off all my clothes and dried them over the heater. by the time they were all dry i have noticed that time had flown and it was already 16:30. i had no more than 2 hours of light to walk to the open cabin. i packed again and open the cabin door. i was not happy with the looks of it. the snow was getting stronger and the trail had disappeared completely. all i could use to navigate to the cabin was the red markers hanging on the tress. we started walking on 50 c"m deep snow. wasn't so bad. i could see the markers well every 200 or 300 meters. after 30 minutes walk i saw foot trails on the snow. first reaction was happiness and excitment, there are other people here, but then i realized i was walking in circle. a small panic rushed through my brain. thank god i had Chico with me to consult him. i relaxed my self and with the notion that in worst case i will sleep in the closed cabin. i kept walking and looking for the right trail, which appeared after a short while. i was relieved and started rushing to the cabin as i was already late and close to dark hour.
finally i arrived and it was the sweetest arrival i have had. Chico was also happy to arrive, but it seemes that he does not have any owners. the cabin owner did not alow him to enter and he spent the night outside waiting for me.

The morning after brought excellent weather with it. Chico and me started walking and finnaly i could enjoy the magnificent white views. we went down from the mountain with sunny weather, but i still could not find anyone to claim back Chico. we almost arrived to El Bolson. i reached a horse ranch and decided it is a good place to leave him before entering the town. i didn't want him to reach the town because there were already lots of stray dogs on its streets. i left him with one of the workers and asked him to let him go after i disapear. sad moment i must say. i'm sure Chico is folowing some travelers right this moment.

i arrived to El Bolson and took the first bus to Bariloche. i had only one thing in my head. a 500 gram steak fillet in "El Boliche de Alberto", undoubtedly one of Argentina's best meat places.

next place --->>> back in Buenos Aires

here is the picture gallery of this entry:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hitchhiking the Caretera Austral - Chile

The Caretera Austral – Chile

Melanie and Stephane, a mixed couple. She is from Nirenberg, Germany and he is from Denmark. She is a massage therapist and he is a traveling carpenter. We Hitchhiked a long way on the Ruta 40 in Argentina and crossed the border to Chile in a small town called... Chile chico. We passed the Argentinian border around 5 o'clock and started walking towards chile. We tought it is no more than a pleasant one hour walk, but the hour became two and then three and a half and eventualy we walked 14 km with fully loaded backpacks and arrived at the chilean border on the last minte before closing time.
We stayed in Chile chico for 2 nights sleeping in a camping area inside an apple orchid. One special thing about this tiny town. The council had put speakers all around the streets and they play elevator music around the day time. I don't know who was the D.J. when we were there, but we enjoyed a beautiful lazy after noon walking in the streets listening to frank Sinatra, The Blues Brothers, Burt Bacharacht and the best of the best, the Pink Panther theme. It was funny and awkward, especially after a bottle of red wine we finished by the lake side. We steped into a shithole bar and ordered another bottle of wine to preserve the athmosphere. In the bar they played an even more obscure music collection. It seems that the 80's are a big thing in Chile and everywere we went, the 80's were behind us, but now they have been mutated. Instead of playing terrible songs one after the other, they have these nasty mixed cd's which play a collection of 200 songs, carefuly selected, all mixed on the same beat, and playing each song for no more than 20 seconds. So, eventualy you get a very very very long 80's medley song. Ahhhhhh !!!
we tried to avoid the music and drank the first bottle as fast as we could. We had a nice little talk about our ambitions in life and somehow we got to talk about the german history and the new german generation who have to cary the wheight of their dark history. We came to the conclusion that every nation is racist in a way and we are lucky to be educated enough to learn from our past, travel the world and meet diferent cultures. By the time we finished this conversation another empty bottle was dropped on the floor. By now we forgot everything we talked about and unwillingly we were concentrated on the music. Melanie came with a bright idea. A game. Who's the first to recognise the songs. She didn't know who she is dealing with. I beat the shit out of them mastering the 80's music scene with names like Paul Young, Curiosity killed the cat, Samantha Fox, Sandra, snap, Charlie goes to Holywood, lionel ritchie, Ace of base and more and more awful instant pop idols. I was very happy to discover that i did not know shit about early euro dance music.
We finished this afternoon with 4 empty bottles and a great appetite. We were already well drank.we zig-zaged our way to the orchard and cooked some meat on the fire. We fell asleep like babies without feeling in was getting below zero outside the tent.

We moved on. Got very lucky with the hitchhiking, jumping on every vehicle who stoped. No matter what kind. We spent 4 days like that enjoying the company of each other.
On the 5th night we cooked a dinner in another camping ground on a town called Puyuhuaypy. I don't know why or where, i asked Melanie for her parents names. She told me her father's name is Adolf and her mother's name i can't remember. Then i asked her if this name is common in Germany. She sayed NO!!. Actually, this name hardly ever exists and also the surename Hitler. The people who had this name, had changed it after the war,not to hold the discrace. So, in a very naive way i asked her how come her father is named Adolf. She hesitated. Stephane, who was already drinking some wine and had no shame in anyway, interupted and said “ because your grandfather was a little Natzi!”. The room was silent. She agreed without saying a word, and i couldn't ask her anything about her history. At that moment something had changed and all the warm feelings i had for her were frozen by this awful disclosure. I tried to remember the conversation we had a few days before and to overcome my instincts and feelings, but unfortunatly i couldn't. I could see her in the same light as before, altough she was a clean and beautiful soul.
We separeted after that day. Nothing dramatic, i just needed to go by myself. I also wanted to make this bad feeling towards her to go away, as i was also feeling guilty for judging her with my heart.

I want to see them again and have some good time. I hope it will happen. And mostly i hope that i would be able to discard and forget these negative feelings.

I kept hitchiking north on the Carretera Austral. Got stuck in a town called La Junta after 2 days of non stop heavy rains. I discovered that night that my tent was not as waterproof as promised by the salesman who sold it to me. I had a terrible wet night and then another long day of standing and waiting for a car to arrive. Non had arrived. At the end of the day, aaround 5 c'clock, after 8 hour of standing in the gas station, a car stopped, but only to tell me that the road is blocked due to the heavy rains and i shouldn't try to hitch anymore for that day. DOHHHHH!!

I found a room in a nice litte family house. I met a fishing instructor who took me for a fishing ride and tought me some techniques in Trout fishing wit a fly. I guess it is a good compensation for the long wait and rainy nights.

After La Junta i decided to leave this rainy area and move back to Argentina. I was welcomed with bright skies and the sun, which i didn't see the whole time in the caretera.

Next place --->> El Bolson


Sunday, May 13, 2007

A sentimental break

Here is a small gesture to my friend Aner who gave me this poetry book of Avraham Halfi

עם קומץ שמים ביד
הייתי עובר את חיי
הייתי חוצה את הים
עם קומץ שמים ביד


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trekking to the Fitz Roy mountain.

Hello again,
time for another short entry.
after Torres del Paine, i went back to Argentina and went strait away to trek in the Fitz Roy Mountain.
Bus to the windy town El Chalten. by now i had already bought my own tent and cooking stove, as I found my self camping more than i thought i would. my backpack is getting heavier everyday.

The Fitz Roy Massif, a group of steep mountains, is a heaven for rock climbers. Tr eking in the park was just like a "walk in the park", after the hard terrain of the Torres.
I loaded my backpack with food for 4 days, took a small map and started walking, in a beautiful weather. in the first night i slept in a campground just beneath the Fitz Roy. Met a cool welsh couple and w spent the night together around a bottle of wine. it was getting really cold and windy, but as long as it is dry, i don't care. An Argentinian guy from Buenos Aires joined me for dinner. He was also trekking alone. He took out a small Joint to twist out the atmosphere and we smoked it together. i started to freeze as the night was getting colder and the effect of the "J" amplified the cold. i couldn't sit anymore s i needed to warm myself, so i got up and had a walk around the camp ground. at one point i went to fill my water bottle in the river which was just out of the forest, and suddenly this magnificent image appeared in front of me. well, it wasn't really like that, but i had seen it like that in my head. thank god for the green stuff.
i spent a few good hours making long exposures. after an hour a full moon came to visit, and the whole thing became magical. fellow travelers gathered around me to see and got fascinated by the dramatic images. it made me feel really good.

The next day was warm and clear, with little clouds appearing and disappearing forming different shapes in the sky. My friend Aner gave me this poetry book of Avraham Halfi, and asked me to read it when I'm in the top of a mountain. well, i wasn't on top of a mountain, instead i was on the banks of a lagoon. i sat down and read a few poets. so the next entry is for you, Aner.

I kept walking for 3 more days until the clouds arrived, signaling me it is time to move on.
I arrived back to El Chalten in the afternoon after a long walk thru a dead forest full of woodpeckers. i took a shower, ate a pizza and drank a 1 liter bottle of beer. with a pleasant feet ache and a swinging head i headed to the exit of this desert town to start my hitchhiking period towards Chile.

It took no more than 30 minutes for a car to stop and take me to the next road crossing.
they left me on Ruta 40, the Argentinian desert "highway" which crosses the Patagonia country north to south. highway is a great word. actually it was a gravel road all along. i walked to the intersection and found out I'm not alone. A German girl and Danish guy was lying on the road waiting for a car to pass. they where there for a good 2 hours. nothing. i sat down near them and we instantly became friends. i saw a shesh-besh board poping ot of his small pack. i kne we would get along just fine. after 30 minutes a pick-up track stopped and took us to the next town. it was getting late, around 17:00 and we started to look for a place to camp near a river, but still not giving up on hitching for that day. after only 10 minutes another pick up stopped. this time with 2 Argentinian friends who came back from Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) from an army reunion of the Falkland war. they were kind and happy and took us for a long road. but that another story.

thanks for every one who wrote back or placed a comment.
press here to see the rest of the pictures:
stay tuned

Monday, May 7, 2007

By demand...Some hot Argentinian Culo (ass)

For all of you who keep asking for photos of argentinian chicas.
well, here you go!!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Patagonia - Argentina & Chile.

Hello Again everyone,
it's time for some more pictures and stories.
I'm in Buenos Aires now for quite a while, working on a project which I'll share with you in a while. i''ll go back 2 months in time to the beginning of my travels in South Argentina, Patagonia.

.................::::::::Calafate & The Glaciers :::::::..................
Starting in Calafate, a touristy town with everything that implies from that. Lots of Gringos (including me), nice restaurants and tourist shops. Nothing to write home about. i went to see the falling glacier, Perito Moreno, which was quite a spectacular. Took a boat ride with some
other tourists friends i met in the hostel. A very stressed Swiss girl named Franchesca, an American kid named Ryan, and a Liverpool bloke called Tom. A day later we hired a car and toured around the area. nice views and all. The Swiss girl got on our nerves real quick, mostly for her urge to be in time all the time and plan everything in advance. Me and Ryan, a Jewish boy from Florida decided to keep going to our next destination together, trekking in Torres Del Paine, Chile ; one of the most busiest Treks in South America. Tom went to Cuba, and we headed on to Chile.
here is a photo gallery with more photos:

......:::: Torres Del Paine Park, Chile ::::......

we planed to do the traditional 5 days trek called the "W" , named for its figure on the map.
We rented all the equipment in town, a tent, good sleeping bags, cooking stove and a rain jacket. bought food for 5 to 6 days. the bags were heavy as hell, but couldn't give away the eating standards we were accustomed to. i think 80 percent of the weight was food.

i was really happy to start having some sport in my life, after gaining 6 kilos with my time with papa.

first day was hard and long. the body was not ready for the heavy bags and the terrain was quite hard. lots of ups & downs. by the end of the day, we were welcomed by a typical Patagonian wind & rain which blew away our spirits. we reached the first camp soaked to bone and exhausted. For 3 days we didn't have any sun and the view was blocked by the heavy clouds and fog. walking around the Torres (towers), we could only see a blurry image of them. The next days were much easier and the weather was getting better. we met another Israeli couple on the road and kept going with them for another 3 days. in the 3rd day the sun came out eventually, and we took our time easily, enjoying the warmth and the views. the bags as well were getting lighter and our body had adjusted to the hard walking every day. On the 4th day we arrived to "Campamento Torres " which is the base to climb to the Torres. arriving there was like coming back home, and for Ryan, it was like a Jewish teenager camp in Israel. 30 Tents in the small camping ground inside the Forest. 27 of them were Israeli, and of course you could imagine the scene. Ehud Banai was playing in surround sound over and over again, and the Forest looked like a trance party in "Ya'ar Benshemen".
we woke up very early in the morning to see the toresses. a hard one hour climb of 1100 meters. the look of it was amazing. the red colors of the mountains are real just like in the postcards :))) even better.

The following day Ryan decided to quit since he had only few days left in South America.
i kept going beyond the 5 days of the "W" route, and make a route around the mountains which will last 8 days totally. i am so grateful for that decision, since not a lot of people do that route,
i was able to feel just a little bit outside from the heavy tourist trail. The view changed dramatically every day, and also the human company. i started waking alone, with no partner to talk to or share my thoughts. i have to say that this also was a great change allowing me to observe and enjoy my surroundings in a deeper way. I walked for 2 days by myself, meeting people only at the camp sites. great experience which i will do again in the future. after 2 days i met an Irish guy named Evan and we walked together for the rest of the trek. he is a travel writer who's tring to make a living from traveling. we shared some thoughts and ideas and perhaps we'll make some articles together in the future.

In the 7th day i started a hard walking and climbing day to the "pass" of the Grey glacier. me and Evan walked this hard day in a pretty good weather to arrive to the highlight of this trek, the privilege to see a glacier from above, which was one of the most spectacular scenes i have ever seen. A frozen and quiet see with deep blueish colors. we sat there, in the freezing wind for an hour, admiring this beautiful scene.
the 1000 meters decent was viciously steep with steps high as 1/2 a meter. my knees didn't recover this and it is a reminder for me that I'm not 21 years old in my trip after the army.
I started this trek with a heavy touristy feel and finished it with a great satisfying feeling.

that's it for now. you can see the whole gallery of this trek by clicking the link below or by clicking the frame on the right.

bye for now
and don't be fucking lazy !!!! leave a comment in the blog.