A Travellerspoint blog


Santiago, Chile

72 °F
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I am typing up blog entries at the hostel trying to get caught up. At around 11:30 pm I hear a loud crashing noise. My first thought was who just broke what? Then an even louder crashing noise. Did something just hit the building? Then I realized everything was shaking. OH MY GOD! IT'S AN EARTHQUAKE!

I looked over at one of my hostel mates, he just smiled and said "Hell yeah."

It was a very minor quake, but it was my first time experiencing one. It was awesome! I love seismology/geology/volcanology so I've always wanted to experience an earthquake.

Very freaking cool.

Posted by RyRyGoByBy 21:25 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Finally Starting to Come Around

Cruise Day 2

semi-overcast 45 °F
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I was feeling much better than I had been in the previous days and had breakfast in the dining room. The excursion that day was to a glacier in the afternoon. After lunch I watched the scenery drift past from one of the lounges until it was time to get ready for the excursion. We took a detour down a channel to view a glacier from the ship, the next one we’d have to be tendered to see in zodiacs.
We set off in zodiacs from the ship in the main channel into a short fjord where the glacier met water. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
It was quite spectacular for the brilliant blue of the ice which denoted its age as being very old. Also spectacular was when seemingly tiny bits broke off clattering down the face in what looked like a cascade of ice cubes. The noise and splash created however clearly demonstrated that those “ice cubes” would probably shred and crush our zodiac if we were underneath them. Unfortunately the group in another zodiac began to yell in an attempt to get more ice to break off. I find that unfortunate for three reasons. 1. Yelling is obnoxious period. 2. I do not want to be watching a large chunk of a glacier break away from a tiny zodiac floating in the body of water the ice will be collapsing into, for obvious reasons. 3. Yes watching the ice break away is dramatic, but it’s also somewhat sad considering that this glacier, like all but a few of the rest of the glaciers in the world are retreating. Those small bits represent the disappearance of one of nature’s wonders. In the geological time scale the glaciers will return, but in the human time scale they’ll be gone for good.
At the farewell dinner a low grade sea sickness was returning. I commented on how amazed I was that no one else seemed to be affected by it. One of my table mates said she was wearing a patch behind her ear, another said he was taking pills for it. Oh so everyone else came prepared. I never really got to enjoy the top notch food on the cruise.

Posted by RyRyGoByBy 18:35 Archived in Chile Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Unforgettable Cuisine & Views!

(Not for me though)

overcast 45 °F
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I woke early the next morning. We’d cruised down to Cape Horn, the last bit of land before Antarctica. We’d be disembarking to the island. Well I wouldn’t be but the rest of the passengers would. I was too weak to get out of bed, to say nothing of going down for breakfast, or up on deck to take pictures of “El Fin del Mundo” or end of the world. Climbing the 190 steep steps up the cliffs to reach the island was definitely not going to happen.

I tried calling reception to ask for the doctor. I was very concerned about not being able to keep any food down for the past two days. I really didn’t want to be found unconscious in my room. The phone rang and rang. Apparently no one manned the reception desk or any other phone lines during disembarkations. A steward came into clean the room, and I told him about no one picking up and needing to see a doctor.

I had to wait as the doctor was out on the island. She came to my room when the groups came back from the island. She wasn’t fluent in English, so we ended up having a full Spanglish conversation. She gave me pills for the sea sickness, and another set of pills to finally take care of the traveller’s diarrhea that I had been putting up with for over two weeks. I spent the rest of the day cooped up in my room, missing out on the second disembarkation of the day to Wulaia bay.
Only Shot of Cape Horn I Could Manage to Take

Only Shot of Cape Horn I Could Manage to Take

$1900 Meal

$1900 Meal



By dinner I was finally able to leave the room to eat in the dining room. I still didn’t have much of an apetite and the doctor had already notified the kitchen to prepare a very bland meal. My table mates were relieved to finally see me after not seeing me for the entire day. I ate a little bit and then retired early.

Posted by RyRyGoByBy 18:18 Archived in Chile Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Ah a Nice Relaxing Cruise...

Not So Much

overcast 45 °F
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I stayed in bed for quite some time. I didn’t care one bit about check out time. I’d pay for another day for a few more hours if I had too. I eventually willed myself to get up and get dressed. I stopped by the front desk. They understood about check and were not going to enforce the check out time in my situation. I went to the farmacia a few blocks away to fill the prescription and get some Gatorade and granola bars for some nourishment. I also had to head to the offices of Cruceros Australis, the line of the cruise I was taking from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile, to check in. I was to board the cruise in the evening.

After checking in I stopped to get lunch, not because I was hungry but because I was forcing myself to ingest calories and nutrients to avoid the whole starvation thing. I ordered pasta, ate a few bites and couldn’t stomach anymore.

I then went back to the store where I’d bought the day pack, the day before. I showed them the broken zipper and they said they could fix it no problem. Problem was it would take them two days, and I was leaving that day. I really loved the pack and they didn’t have any more in stock. I decided to keep it as it was. The zipper broke at the very bottom, and there were two zipper pulls. I’d just leave the one pull over the break, and the other pull was still capable of closing and opening the zipper.

Back at the hostel I packed and checked out. I took a taxi to the cruise ship, if I’d been healthy I could have easily walked. I boarded and was taken to my room, which was far nicer than the accommodations I’d grown accustomed to. Well this will be a nice place to recover, a comfortable private room. Oh how wrong I was to be. I looked over the packet that was waiting for me in my room. Every day was fully scheduled out. You do this activity at this time, you eat at this time. Oh right this is why I’m not really into cruising in general.
I took a shower, hoping to wash away the crap-tacular feeling I had, or at least make myself presentable to my fellow passengers. I then went out for the mandatory safety briefing, correction to the wrong manadatory safety briefing. I went to the one just outside my door that was already in progress on the 3rd deck Yamana Lounge. That was the French briefing. I was supposed to be in the 4th deck Sky Lounge, for the English briefing. I didn’t realize it until the end of the briefing. Of course I realized they were speaking French and not English, but I thought they were going to do the briefing over again in English after the French one. Oh well hopefully we don’t hit any icebergs. It’s not like there are icebergs in glacial fjords right? I wonder who’ll play me in James Cameron’s movie about the maritime disaster?

Afterwards dinner was served in the ships dining room. I met my table mates but I was very out of it and I don’t remember any of their names. I struggled to be polite and make conversation lacking energy. I picked at my food still not hungry, even though I knew I needed to eat. The food was well prepared and presented and the little bit I tasted was delicious. I excused myself halfway through dinner and went to rest.

I woke in the middle of the night to the loud sound of metal banging on metal. The ship was rising and falling quite dramatically and the door of the in room safe which I wasn’t using was swinging back and forth and slamming against the safe. I jumped out of bed to close it, struggling in the dark rocking madness. I laid back down in the bed. As soon as my back hit the sheets I felt the tension building in my stomach. Ug, no more! I grabbed the trash can and said goodbye to small amount of dinner I’d managed to swallow earlier. Fine I’ll just dip into my fat reserves… aww man insufficient funds!

We were currently plowing through Drake’s Passage, one of the roughest seas in the world. Being from Annapolis, Maryland a self proclaimed sailing capital of the world (one of many) and having been on boats since I was a baby I didn’t think I’d have an issue with sea sickness on a large cruise ship (though much smaller than the average cruise ship, I think it only had room for around 120 passengers). I didn’t anticipate the roughness of the sea though, and now I was paying for it.

Posted by RyRyGoByBy 18:06 Archived in Argentina Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Left Behind at the End of the World

Ushuaia, Argentina

all seasons in one day 45 °F
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Alicia was moving on to her next destination; we had breakfast together then said our goodbyes. I went shopping for a proper day pack, a pack cover, and a walking stick which would have come in extremely handy hiking up through the slushy snow to the Glaciar Martial, and even more so coming back down. Sorry forgot to post these in the last blog entry:
My bunk (bottom) @ Freestyle Hostel

My bunk (bottom) @ Freestyle Hostel

I have no idea how time seems to slip away undetected like it does for me. By the time I was ready to go to Tierra del Fuego National Park, the morning was gone and I had to book the last transfer to the park, which left at 1. As the van pulled away from the curb, the gorgeous weather of the morning vanished, replaced by clouds and rain. There seems to be a pattern to the weather in Ushuaia: gorgeous until I’m ready to head into the great outdoors than it turns to crap.
Weather when I first woke up...

Weather when I first woke up...

...and when I was ready to go.

...and when I was ready to go.

I was the only one in the van, and told the driver where I wanted to be dropped off. He told me there was a pickup at cinco and siete. I told him I wanted to be picked up at siete, it was already late and I wanted to explore as much of the park as possible. He pointed to the spot on the map where I was to be at 7 o’clock to be picked up. I repeated back to him several times "aqui, siete, si?" pointing to the same position on the map to confirm.

The weather had already cleared up again on the short ride to the park. I got my bearings than headed to the trail I wanted to hike. It was the most difficult in the park and the map said it took four hours one way. I reached the trail head marked by a sign that stated not to start the trail after 12 pm. I looked at my watch 2:15 pm. "Well I'll just see where I am in an hour and make an executive decision at that point." I thought to myself, taking to the trail.
As I moved over the steep trail, entangled by slippery tree roots I thought about what Vicci a friend and co-worker had told me, another coworker couldn't believe I was doing this trip because I'm not a “rugged guy”. First let me say that I have no grand illusions that I am some sort of modern day wild frontiersman. Davy Crocket I am not. Furthermore I am the antithesis of macho while still possessing the parts. When push comes to shove though I think I have what it takes. So yes I do think I possess a certain ruggedness, even if I do it with a princessy flair.
large_147.jpglarge_148.jpglarge_151.jpgWeird Tree Growth

Weird Tree Growth

I began passing other hikers on their way down. There was a lookout point about halfway up the trail. I decided to make that my goal, and then I'd come back down.

When I reached the lookout point the sun was shining and the views were spectacular. I was satisfied, and decided to head back down. I still wanted to explore the rest of the park, and the summit was still a ways up.
Same as the glacier trail the day before, the walk back down was by far harder. It was difficult to keep my footing with the downward slope and momentum pushing me to move almost at a runs pace.
I stopped at the small restaurant I'd been dropped off at. The kitchen was closed, so I had a pre-made ham and cheese sandwich (limited options) and then headed on to the next section of the park. There was a trail with an active beaver colony that I wanted to see.
The trail around the beaver colony was a bust. There was a dam but I searched vigorously and couldn't spot a lodge or a single beaver. It was getting late, and my pickup time was approaching so I headed straight for pickup spot.
The road into the park terminates at a parking area on a bay. It is the point furthest into the park. I reached it at 6:40. I looked around and took inventory of the vehicles: a gray van, a red jeep, and two park vehicles. I didn't see the van I come in.

There was a trailer off to the side of the parking lot with bathrooms. I went to use the bathroom. I came out as the two park vehicles were driving out of the parking lot, and the red jeep started rolling out of its parking spot. This was only a few minutes to 7. I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I walked over to the last vehicle remaining the gray van. I hovered around for a few moments and then as the last of its inhabitants trickled back from the trail, I pulled out the ticket for my transfer and approached the driver.

"Do you know anything about this company?" I asked showing him the ticket.
"No, this is an excursion, we'd don't have anything to do with the regular lines. I'm sure they're on their way."
"Ok... thanks." I said wearily, stepping away.

The van doors closed, and I watched as it pulled away. My face imploring those in the van to take pity and ask the driver to stop and wait, a request I couldn't bring myself to make, and apparently neither could they.

I circled surveying my surroundings. I was totally alone starring at an empty parking lot at the end of the road. The sun had disappeared, falling behind the surrounding mountains and gloomy clouds. The desolate landscape was growing darker by the minute. I looked at my watch 10 past 7. Panic began to set in. Oh my God! I've been left behind! Okay what do I do? The park closes in less than an hour, and I can't walk to the entrance in that amount of time. I can't stay put. If I walk along the road then I can't miss if the van does actually show up, it’s the only way in and out.
I shoved my water bottle and camera in my pack, breaking the zipper. I took off down the road at a brisk walk. Why didn't I at least ask the gray van to wait? When I saw the van from the same company pass at 6:30 why didn't I hail it? Well it was the same company, but a different driver and it was 6:30! I am raising so much hell when I get back, I've never once seriously considered suing anyone, but if they left me here in the middle of nowhere I will sue dammit! I’m getting my money back that is for damn sure. Wait... if I get back...

"Hello? Hola?! Is anyone out there? I need help! Por Favor!?"

A disconcerting silence was the only response. I wanted to cry, but I made myself keep it together, after all I'm rugged right?

The road disappeared around a bend up ahead, and then miracles of miracles headlights appeared. I stopped in the middle of the road, put my hands on my knees and let out a huge sigh. The van pulled up alongside me, three women were in the front seat. It was not my van! They asked which company my ticket was with and I showed them my ticket. They told me to get in and I didn't protest I just thanked them profusely. Hell I threw in a few bless you's and I'm not the blessing type as many of you well know.

We drove back to the desolate parking lot, turned around and stopped as the women admired a Patagonian fox that had jumped up on a trash can. At that point I think all of the wildlife in the area could have come out to perform the "Circle of Life" from the Lion King and I think my only thought would have still been "Can we get the hell outta here!"

We drove up the road, coming up to another pair of headlights. Finally my van! I got out, thanking the women again, and got into my van. I reclined the seat as far as it would go and lay back trying to let my mind come out of panic mode. The ride back to the city seemed to take forever, and I began to feel nauseas. Oh please don't let me throw up in this van. We pulled into the parking lot we'd left from. Everyone got out except for four people in the back, all young backpacker types.

“Are any of you staying at Freestyle Hostel?” I asked.
“No we're staying at another hostel up the hill; we're going to see if he'll take us to the hostel.” They responded.

I was feeling completely drained and nauseas and didn't feel up to walking back to my hostel even though it was only a few blocks away, and I'd happily walked to the restaurant across the street earlier. The driver took us to our hostels. I'd been picked up at the hostel and taken to the parking lot on the way out, so I think it was part of the deal to be taken back to the hostel. I was so happy to get back to the hostel that I tipped the driver even though I'd gone off on him in a fury in my mind early. I was a bit out of it, and the driver was clearly not expecting the tip, and accepted it awkwardly.

I went straight to my room and lay on the floor. I felt like shit. I laid there for awhile then got up and went to take a shower. As soon as I turned the water off and reached for my towel the nausea went from passive to active. I ran to the toilet and out came the ham and cheese I'd eaten earlier. The nausea temporarily subsided but I felt totally drained and weak.

I left the bathroom and went to the front desk. I got a bottle of water and asked if I could add it to my bill, I was sick and too weak to make it to my room and get the money and come back. The guy at the front desk said the water was on the house, and asked what was wrong. He asked if I wanted him to call a doctor. I asked how much it would cost, and to my surprise and delight he said it was free. I asked him to call a doctor and went back to my room.

I waited for awhile vomiting a few more times until just water was coming up. Finally the doctor arrived and looked me over. His assessment was that it was the water. He said he saw people all day long with the same thing, consuming bad water. I don’t know how I consumed bad water. I was only drinking bottled, and I hadn’t eaten any produce or vegetables that day. The only thing I can think of was the tea I’d had; perhaps they hadn’t brought the tea to a rolling boil? He gave me a shot to suppress the nausea and stop the vomiting. Then he wrote me a prescription for medication of some sort. The guy from the front desk came in to check on me while the doctor was there.

“Oh man, have you ever seen ‘Into the Wild’?” He asked.
“Yes...” I replied weakly.
“You look just like the guy at the end!” He said excitedly.

If you haven’t seen ‘Into the Wild’, it is a great movie which I highly recommend and I’m about to ruin it so don’t read the next part if you want to see it...


Oh great, you mean the part just before he DIES?!


I was miserable the rest of the night. Tossing and turning and slipping in and out of consciousness. I also was not done throwing up. I missed my friends and family terribly. Being alone and sick and far from home is a hard combination to handle. I really need to find a special someone to share life with, this independent loner shit is getting old fast. This was the first time I questioned my resolve and ability to travel in this manner. A momentary lapse in faith.

Posted by RyRyGoByBy 17:29 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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