29-01-11

080 / Argentinean cake

080 / Argentinean cake 

Surprisingly, long term travel has something of a sumptuous, multi-course Christmas dinner. At first, everything looks amazing, and you start your travel with the hunger of a family of stoned lions. After devouring the first landmarks, hostels, busses and one night standing conversations, slowly, this feverish eagerness turns into a more accomplished, satisfied feeling. This is when events take their right course and you discover confidently, unhurried new destinations. Later, when your trip comes closer to ending, a feeling of saturation takes the upper hand. Your head spins, stuffed with experiences, encounters and kilometers, similarly like your stomach aches when dessert is served during a lengthy dinner party. Socially obliged, you take a modest piece of that creamy, thick cake. However, the action is often limited to moving the cake around on the plate (while subtly breaking it down like construction workers demolish an old building) rather than actually eating it.

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I felt that Argentina was the cake of my big trip. I slowly plunged my spoon in it, ate some beautiful pieces, but I was already too absent minded to capture its full taste. I cycled through Bariloche thinking of us on the Vespa on Boulevard Saint Germain. I hiked in Junín’s Lanin National Park wishing I was running with my buddies through Het Zoniënwoud. I had amazing grilled tenderloin steak, while I was craving typical Wednesday spaghetti with my family. I watched jaw-dropping Tango in Buenos Aires, but I really wanted to freak out on I gotta feeling with my friends in Paris...

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In short, it was mazo menos time to return home! After a cool couchsurfing stay in Buenos Aires, I packed for the last time my gear (I initially left with 24kg, now, without a clear explanation 5 kg is M.I.A.).

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Seatbelts locked, table tray folded away, luggage in the overhead lockers, electronic devices switched off, but then … in the beginning of the runway, our Airbus 340-600 hesitated like a jumping horse in front of an important hurdle or a city girl when bathing in a fresh lake. No movement… It turned out that a fuel leak in one in the engines made it impossible to take of that night. We taxied back to the terminal, and after 4 hours of confusion, 350 people with tired eyes were shipped off for an Iberia-sponsored night in Hotel ***** Emperador Buenos Aires.

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“Are they kidding? My very last flight, delayed… with 19 hours!? Who is responsible for this sabotage? There are multiple suspects…” Here’s my Sherlock Iwannagohomes list of possibilities:

The self-important business man with the cheap suit who loudly declared that flying with that baby screaming some rows in front of him is unacceptable qualifies. That large, noisy Spanish family who was attacking the free five star lunch buffet with smiles from ear to ear could have found a way to extend their holidays in a cheap but classy way. Could it be Murphy? He’s often around whenever there is trouble. Maybe it was the Buenos Aires postcard that I challenged that I would arrive in Paris before it did. Post cards can be mean. And then there is Hotel Emperador. If they can “unexpectedly” host 350 stranded travelers, it must mean they have many empty, unused rooms... maybe too many?

Almost 24hrs later, after getting acquainted with my free Emperador bathroom goodies to kill time, I’m on the same plane, in the same seat, with the same neighbor and the same destination… The baby sleeps, the Spanish stomachs are full, Murphy is shooting a B-class police movie, my postcard has an unbridgeable advance on me and the hotel cashed its fat cheque. The odds are good to make it this time.

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22:34 Gepost door Wouter* | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

16-01-11

079 / If the world was … Patagonia

079 / If the world was … Patagonia

When my plane landed in Punto Arenas, in the deep south of Chili, I knew that this final part of my big trip would be very different from the bamboozling stay in Brazil. Patagonia is all about space, nature, wind, contemplative hiking… Hours of letting the months spent on the road settle down and letting strange metaphors for this amazing place bubble up in my mind. So when I was hiking the multiday “W”-track (love that letter!) in Torres del Paine, I couldn’t help thinking… “If the world”…

If the world was a human body, Patagonia would most certainly be the lungs. It’s airy, energizing, vital but also fragile in its existence.

If the world was a car dealership, Patagonia would be a Toyota Landcruiser, with its endless space, reliability, the powerful but hushed roar of its rivers, its many wild horses…

If the world was a job market, Patagonia would be an experienced psychiatrist, with its patience, its almost philosophical, understanding  look in its eyes, and its soothing effect on the mind of everybody who visits and rests on his hills.

If the world was a cocktail bar, Patagonia would be a matured whiskey on (millennium) ice. It’s multi-layered, expensive, time-consuming, holistic and asks to be drunk in exquisite company.

If the world was a city, Patagonia would be Central Park, with its countless trunks of dead wood as inviting benches, its glaciers as ice cream vendors, offering refreshment in the global heat.

If the world was a beauty case, Patagonia would be the eye shadow pallet, with a multitude of shades of lush greens, bottomless blues, to subtle nuances of silver and white.

If the world was a Kyoto protocol, Patagonia would be wind energy. It is alternative, underappreciated, and limitless in its availability and force.

If the world was a blog, Patagonia would be a post with lots of images, and few words.

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Perito Moreno Glacier

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The (almost always in-)visible Fitz Roy

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03:47 Gepost door Wouter* | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

11-01-11

078 / In Brazil, there’s always…

078 / In Brazil, there’s always…

There’s always a party”, Renato told me when we met after more than three months in Sao Paulo. My 10 hours fly-by in this huge city promised to be big since my Braseliero friend had the brilliant idea to introduce me to Brazil on the beats of the (very local) Samba, with the first-of-many caipirinha in one hand, and my connecting airplane ticket in the other. It all resulted in an unforgettable night of which (oh, irony) I don’t remember too much. By miracle, I managed to get the my 4AM flight to Salvador (I think I even still had my caipirinha in the other hand…) to meet my chérie for a three week rollercoaster trip.

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There’s always capoeira”, the waiter of the Bahia restaurant told us without hesitation, so we started happily to wiggle our tail like young puppies. With some less than perfect directions we crossed the whole city only to find the traditional spectacle to be over for the day. We honorably stated that this was a fair consequence of leaving our hotel room for the first time at 8PM. The next day however, capoeira found us on the street...nice.

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 There’s always a bus…”, the guide calmly told us when we already saw our three days hike into one of Brazil’s crown jewels (Chapada Diamantina) fall into the water due to the cancellation of busses on Christmas eve. With renewed optimism, and after an afternoon of creative logistical surgery, we were on our way to the National park. An endless parade of cliffs, waterfalls, primary forest, great dinner, even greater breakfast in cool company was our part. This place rocks!

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There’s always a plane”, the flight attendant told us after the screens indicated an ever increasing delay in our flight to Campo Grande. Some further harassing of the poor guy learned us that the plane was there, but that the pilot hadn’t shown up (Flights attendant : “But don’t worry, we have been trying to call him already for 50 minutes”). This little hick was probably due to the fact that it was Christmas day. We travelers, however, don’t respond to Catholic holidays… With the bravery of the logistically defeated, we started a 3 hour siege on the airline company, in order to change our tickets to Iguazu, to avoid spending a days of useless waiting in the airport until the pilot sobered up from his Christmas turkey. It worked! An hour later we were on our way to the world famous waterfalls.

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There’s always space for more, it’s basically only water”, my fruit-addicted girlfriend explained me confidently when we bought a 10 kg watermelon.  Unfortunately, the mammoth fruit showed us 3 hours later empirically that this was not true. His (sweet) revenge was ruthless. To be on the safe side, I only had fruits after that fitted in my caipiroska glass…

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There’s always another bottle of Champagne”, the bottomless fridge confessed during our great stay in the beach condo close to Ubatuba (in between Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro) where we were kindly invited to celebrate New Year. The unrefusable offer came from Lili (cfr. blogpost 059 / Lifesurfing) and her husband, Alexis. Surrounded by some 50 crazy Brazilians in holiday mood, we celebrated life & love for three days straight. Some of the most beautiful days of an amazing year in the company of a bunch of my international Paris-homies… Superbe. The traditional count down on the beach, the white dresses, the fireworks and the mandatory 7 waves jumping making wishes were magic. Even the poring rain was part of the spectacle.

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There’s always… Rio”, the Paris-return plane ticket cruelly explained to announce the end of these sensational weeks. A day or two of Capacabana, Sugar Loaf, Santa Teresa and Ipanema crowned an unforgettable visit…

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15:35 Gepost door Wouter* | Permalink | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |