Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Route...

So it took me two months to travel the northwestern part of South America. My original plan was to stick to Peru, but I headed for my journey with an open mind to travel elsewhere. My thought was " when will be the next time I am this close to these amazing countries?"
I traveled by air, bus, train, taxi, horseback, motorcycle, foot and boat. Here is the route that I took. Click on the map to get a closer look!!!

I have some great tips on how to get around Peru, but I am organizing them so they can be very clear for any traveler.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Inspirational Travel Books

I have been reading several travel blogs and all seem to have a list of inspirational books. So here is my list of books that triggered my imagination, opened my heart to possibility and entertained my adventurous side.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This book is by far my most favorite. It was given to me by a friend and was encouraged by another to read it. I actually read The Alchemist in a time of my life when I needed inspiration.
Its about a boy who set out to find his own personal treasure. His search took him places that he thought he would never be and introduced him to people that filled his heart with desire, fear and love, only to find what he was looking for was in the most unsuspected of places.
Though some may feel that this book is overrated, I contend that this book should be read when hope seems to be slipping or your just having a bad day, because its undeniably a read for the soul.

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

This book I read in college and my good friend Nancy and I usually have a good laugh about how ridiculous the "coincidences" are, however, it resonates with inspirational moments.
Its about a man that trust his instincts and follows "clues" to where he needs to go to find the ultimate answer for human kind and our role with earth (yeah, I know its cheesy, but work with me here). His journey takes him to Peru, where he meets people that guide him toward his own spiritual evolution. Its about trusting a journey when it presents itself and to keep an eye out for signs to get you there.
The book encourages us to seek purpose and meaning through our personal experiences.
There is also an environment theme that I actually enjoyed. It makes you think that we are all connected to this earth and if we just trust this information and respect it, the earth will provide for us for eternity.

Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was recommended to me by my friend, Theresa, prior to my departure to South America. It resembles my own life and vision, but certainly not about me!!

This book is about a woman who makes a huge decision to walk away from a marriage. A marriage that had no real reason to walk away from. She falls madly in love with a younger man soon after the split, where the relationship ended as quickly as it started. This sent her to travel to Italy, India and Indonesia, alone, where she too was in search of her own personal peace. The the journey was not as easy as she thought, however, she walked away with a deeper understanding of herself.
It was a little too much on the "women power" side but I enjoyed her imagery and humor of which I found myself relating to at times.

In Search of Captain Zero by Allan Weisbecker
This book was recommended to me by my friend Matt, who is a crazy east coast surfer that loves Costa Rica.

The book is a biography about Allan Weisbecker (author) who sets out from Long Island, NY to find his best buddy, Christoper, in Costa Rica. The book delivers amazing imagery through the eyes of a surfer and outlandish tales of drug dealer. Weisbecker travels alone in his camper truck, stops along the Baja Coast to surf and continues down the Central American coast where he finds some interesting people along the way. Weisbecker gives his readers an intimate peek into the mind of a 70's drug transporter who uses his money to support his surfer lifestyle.
The back stories of him and Christopher are quite entertaining, but the intensity of Weisbecker's search of Christopher keeps the pages turning.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Casio F-91W... The Essential Equipment for Backpackers.

In Cuzco, Peru, I met some pretty interesting folks, Dan Morris and Dominic Watson, that introduced me to the Casio f-91W.
I just needed a watch and had no idea that the watch that I would soon own would have so much more meaning than the amazing built-in stop watch.
I would have to say that a majority of the people that I came across, wore the F-91W. We would huddle around tables and someone would randomly start the "5 second game".
This game uses the stop watch feature. You have to stop the timer at precisely 00:05:00. A skill that requires agility and precision. Glory was the prize, unless you were able to get 3-in-a-row. That required you and everyone else around you to get "pissed" immediately following your success, regardless of where you had to be the next morning.I know of one person that attempted and succeeded the 3-in-a-row, John McGrath from Ireland. I was not there to witness this, however, the story was verified by several fellow backpackers.
But the Casio F-91W does not end with backpackers. I soon found out that Facebook has a group called "I am a Casio F-91W Owner".
Also, if you look real closely in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite", you can see that he is sporting the F-91W.

I did a little more research(aka wikipedia) and found that the watch is used in terrorism.According to Wikipedia, the watch was used is many Taliban attacks.The stop watch feature seems to be handy when timing swimmers, playing games when your bored and blowing up things. Who would have thought!?
Well, there are plenty of F-91w fans out there, but would you get F-91W tattooed on your foot? Well, I met an Australian, Shannon Morris, who did. His foot will always possess the guinessness of the Japanese digital watch Inventors

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Passport OCD....

This is a serious condition and is worth mentioning...
Have you ever thought after customs, "Man... I should have told them where to stamp"?
Well my friend, you may have a slight case of POCD also known as Passport Obsession Compulsive Disorder.

Here are some symptoms...
1. You hate coming in and out of a country more than twice because it fills up your passport to fast.
2. You travel just to fill up your passport before the 10 year expiration date.
3. You don't show your passport to anyone because the guy at the 1 hour photo shop took the photo right as blinked and/or for some reason stretched the photo.
4. You say to yourself as you flip through your passport, "why don't they use regular stamps, why does is have to be electronic?"
5. You wish that your passport had "more character"... IE. different color than what you have.

Fortunately there is no cure, if you did not possess any of these symptoms, you would not be living your dream and that is a disorder worth living with!

A Map for Saturday....

I am glad that I heard about this movie after my trip because I can completely relate!
I heard about it though Nomadic Matt, a fellow blogger who makes travel his life and loves to write about it.
In the mean time, check out the trailer of "A Map for Saturday"

A map for Saturday

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I am at the airport in Lima getting ready to fly home and I am feeling my heart break. I had the most amazing time of my life. My spanish has highly improved and I hope that I can conitinue speeking spanish. I have been talking with several folks and they say my spanish is very good.
Four countries and 17 new friends later I am feeling not like a whole new person but my whole self again. I am sad to leave but ready to do what I need to do to make sure that I can get back to South America and plan a different route!! Before I left someone told me that "you will love it or you will get hooked". Well you can see where I fall!!!
I will be posting more things on this blog such as travel tips around certain areas and my Amazon will love my Amazon story!! I just need to get my pictures on a disk so I post the photos.
As I layed in my hammock on the boat through the Amazon, I was studying my spanish. Mainly because I was the only person who spoke english and I really wanted to talk to people. I came up with a spanish phrase that I felt has defined the end of my adventure...
"Tengo venir en conocimiento a mi" -Domina Stamas
"I have come to know myself"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Valley of Cocora

Well I made it across the border of Ecuador and Colombia just fine. I spent a few days in Cali, Colombia and we decided to head into the country. We stayed in a town called Solento. Here is where you can take about a horse ride or walk into the cloud forest. The horse ride cost $15 per person and $15 for the guide. The more in your group the better it is because you can cost-share on the guide.
This was by far the most beautiful and enchanting experience I have ever had. The vegitation was so green and trees stood with charisma. I could not keep my eyes off of this beautiful land. The ground was very muddy. If you decide to walk, make sure you rent the wellies at your hostel. The cost is about $3. 
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That is I on the horse.
You cross over rivers and try to avoid low lying branches. We passed up many farms where horses and cattle stared at us as though they were unimpressed with our presence.
When you get to the top there is a hacienda where there are folks that live there. I am not exactly sure what they do there, however, they seem to take care of the hummingbirds in the area. The hummingbirds were amazing. They were brighter and bigger than the ones back home.
On our way back it statred to rain. When we were in the actual forest, the canopy filtered out most of the rain. but as we stepped out into the field, we definately got wet. My horse and I left my friend and the guide behind to avoid getting so wet.
I had a blast and would definatly recommend doing this while you are in Colombia.