These are emails, starting from the first ever sent from Venezuela through to Christmas. Just to fill in that 5 month gap, these are the group emails that at least give a PG overview of things. Meant more to contribute to this collection of my travels and help me remember where I've just been and what I've done...enjoy, if you have some time...
Hey Mama--I'm here. Finally into a bed at 4:15am, without my luggage!
Miserable. They forgot to put them on the plane somehow, but the
people here with Optimal English have been so helpful not only in
picking me up and dealing with the people in the airport, but then
calling all morning while I slept so that my luggage will be on the
next flight...whenever that is. They are also trying to have them
wrap them up for me or secure them somehow because you have to worry
about the airport workers at Caracas. Just a blessing that I have my
computer and all of my money...can't wait to tell you all about it,
but have to go now to lunch. Thanks so much for all your help, the
people here were really thankful for you calling as well.
Caracas is different. And I say that with utmost sincerity. I
expected it to be different, sure, culturally, linguistically, etc.,
but not exactly like this. According to the CIA World Factbook,
Venezuela has the poorest of all South American populations with 40%
living beneath the poverty line; this mark clearly was not set by
anyone living under those circumstances because locals estimate it to
be closer to 80%. This creates a city that lives by the trademark of
being dirty, dangerous, and having no rules—but of course that isn't
the whole story.
That was my first impression, and based on the circumstances of my
arrival it was warranted. I wasn't in the best of moods after
spending 12 hours (a chaotic and dramatic 12 hours…like the police
having to be called to the ticket counter because of angry customers
and women crying because they had been split from their families by
this flight being delayed or cancelled now for the third day) in the
Miami airport with airline workers who barely spoke English, only to
arrive without my baggage. Compounding my fears were one, that I
hadn't locked my luggage—which you always do when flying abroad (I now
realize), and two, that getting back to the airport and dealing with
the bureaucracy within, would prove to be an expensive and interesting
exercise in finding my way solely in Spanish.
So that was how Venezuela started…hectic and sleep deprived, but on
the bright side it provided a good basement from which the only way
Some interesting things…Caracas has a towering 3,000ft. peak creating
it's northern border and separating it from the Caribbean. Very
tropical, this jagged hulk of green acts as the lung for the city.
And the city needs a lung, because one of the rules Caracas lacks is
emission standards. This, combined with the fact that you can fill up
a tank of gas for $1 here (yes, ridiculous—I'm working on building
some sort of covert pipeline) means that Monte Carlos and Chevettes
run wild in the city, followed closely by clouds of gray nastiness.
Everything here is reasonable if not super cheap. 10 rides on the
Metro, $1.50, a beer in a restaurant, $.50, etc.
What else? There are monkeys in the park here, which I thought was
pretty cool. Never knowing what to expect, I was at first confused by
this very agile and hairy midget, but I figured it out.
Consistent with the theme of no rules….red lights at night means yield
to some, but to most it means keep going without pause. People don't
use lanes, go as fast as possible and are generally out of control.
The guys on motorcycles are worse. Crossing the street here is an
adventure. Police, of course, are useless if not malevolent. Better
to avoid is what I've been told, but clearly they aren't too well
Otherwise things are going well. The people in the office are all
great and I really like some of the other Coaches. As for work
itself…it's long, with 3 one and half-hour sessions a day all over the
city (which basically means for the most part two small counties
within the city that have better police and more money. The other
parts people stay out of…especially at night).
But work is also good; the people are really motivated and so that's
not too bad—just work. I've also been meeting some cool people
through work to go out with and it's doubly good because we
automatically have this symbiotic relationship of you teach me and
I'll teach you. So the Spanish is coming along that way. Also
helpful is the fact that I'm living with a family who are great and
that are willingly a guinea pig for my Spanish. They are so helpful
and kind towards me…I spend hours talking to the father (he speaks
English and I Spanish) almost daily and they assured me that they'd be
my Venezuelan Grandparents. So other than not having hot water in the
shower (you quickly learn a very useful breathing pattern that I
imagine is somewhat like Lamaze), I really lucked out on the living
situation (other Coaches tell horror stories of being kicked out of
Well this is getting long and my free form, unorganized,
parenthetically dominated rambling must be getting on some of your
nerves. So I'd be thrilled to hear from all of you, and 'til then, I
hope all's well.
A lot can happen in two weeks—like getting robbed by the police,
seeing a pregnant woman get hit by a bus, and falling into a river of
sewage only to be saved at the last moment from sure death. Luckily,
none of these things happened to me, but I do have some stories.
First, let me start as I commonly start and end these types of emails,
with an apology. I have loved reading and appreciate all of your
emails, however, I have yet to respond to any of them. I plan to do
this very soon, so please prepare yourself for some quality personal
correspondence. One reason for my lack luster email performance,
although not a very good one, is that many of you noticed the same
important flaws in my last email and offered similar questions: Why
are you there? (and) What are you doing there? (or some variation of
these questions). Good questions, important information. I'm
currently an Executive English Consultant (English Teacher) for a
start-up company called Optimal English (www.optimalenglish.com). I
usually teach (or Coach, as they like me to call it) 3 to 4 one and a
half hour sessions, five days a week, all over the city. I'm not
exactly handsomely rewarded for these deeds, but it's all in the
experience, right? Actually, relative to the rest of the people here
it is very handsome indeed, but of course it's all relative. In fact,
most of my clients work 12-hour days, at least, because the
competition for their job is so great. Another common question, how
long will you be there (here)? It depends on the weather (as they say
here, but doesn't make sense because the weather is always the same),
but Caracas isn't the best place (see last email) and I'm already
looking into the more European Buenos Aires or Santiago as possible
"As they say here," is not an isolated case. There are many
colloquial Spanish phrases that I've simultaneously been bewildered by
and laughed at. They say that it's "Donkey Time" which means that
people are tired after lunch. Strange, but fine. Another is "If you
can't roast the chicken, why kill it?" Much weirder, not exactly sure
what that means but it's still fun to say to strangers. Sort of on
that note, my friends and I have found ourselves freely cussing in
front of children—not in a malicious way, just casually and by chance
(it's alright Mom, they don't understand English and neither do the
people they would repeat this to). I think the novelty of this will
wear off, but it's still fun for now.
My reason for saying that their parents wouldn't understand these
phrases is two fold; not only coming from credible statistical sources
such as the C.I.A. world fact book, but also from empirical evidence
based on their choice of clothing. For the non-English speaking,
usually lower class, it is popular to wear shirts with English sayings
on them. Although I've seen much funnier, two from today are "WANTED:
A Bad Man" and "I SMELL LIKE CANDY." The latter was a tight pink
shirt with curvy white writing. Maybe she was trying to suggest a
Cotton Candy smell, or some sort of berry. I don't know, this is only
speculation—but this shirt on a woman nearing middle age is
unacceptable. OK, let's be honest, the message being sent by this
shirt is confusing and basically unacceptable for anyone to wear.
This could maybe be the worst and simultaneously the best aspects of
globalization: Chinese people with hardly a grasp of English,
designing shirts to sell to unassuming Venezuelans, who in turn, give
Americans a good laugh. It's brilliant. Think of the boardroom where
they discussed whether "I SMELL LIKE CANDY" was a good idea for their
latest t-shirt. I picture a crack staff of savvy individuals, saying,
"What the hell!"
I see things like this everyday that just make me stop and laugh. I
don't think that it is any different wherever you go, people always do
stupid and funny things, it's just easier to openly laugh when there
is a cultural and language barrier that keeps them from understanding
that they are the butt of the joke. I'm sure that I'm laughed at
almost as much as I do the laughing—maybe more. Maybe they're writing
emails as I speak…let's hope not.
Not as funny, but more interesting and amazing is that I saw a guy go
down an escalator in a wheelchair the other day—backwards! As if the
degree of difficulty wasn't high enough! He got a ten in my book,
easy. A cultural difference can be inferred here but I'll leave that
A friend I work with recently said that so many Caraquenos smoke
because they want to filter the air—not so funny (since I live here),
but I thought it was very well put. An interesting, and to me amazing
and sort of scary fact is that they still use leaded gas here. I
didn't understand what Sin Plomo (unleaded) meant, but unfortunately
it is not used by enough people. The good news is that they plan to
phase it out by next May; the bad news is that I'll be gone by then.
In the meantime I walk around through thick clouds of lead, a job
hazard. For those of you who don't understand why this is bad, see
"lead poisoning" or the joke about eating paint chips (with lead) when
you were a baby.
But really, a lot has happened in two weeks and I've had some pretty
amazing experiences. Managed to get an invitation to an Urbe Bikini
(like Maxim in the states, but bigger here considering the large
market share coupled with the Machismo attitude) party, which was
pretty exclusive and was mainly the media, super rich old men, models
and TV stars. I was actually offered two jobs, which was flattering,
but I'm sure it was to be a model for a dog food commercial or some
sort of diarrhea medicine or something. The rest of the night was
spent avoiding gay guys (one of which was in the movie Moulin Rouge)
who were overly friendly as well as a little too forward. Also a
great story from that night is my friend who got robbed (just a
little) and taken home by the police…but I'm pretty sure you have to
know him for it to be funny…contextual, sorry.
Also, I've been to the beach twice, both a good time. The first was
with a friend from work and her high school friends. After the day at
the beach we went to this guy's complex on a mountain overlooking the
Caribbean. The best way I know how to describe it, is as being about
20 times nicer than the Caribbean house in Thomas Crown Affair (the
new T.C.A). There were 3 or 4 houses on the property I think, the
driveway was like the greens at Augusta, the landscaping was perfectly
manicured with huge flowering plants and palm trees, and there were
invisible edge pools (connected by a waterfall) from which you could
see the Caribbean about a thousand feet below. Rough life. The whole
day was very 'fratty,' a good time, and the roads to get out to these
places were sometimes non-existent, and other times barely clinging to
the sides of the mountain. The other beach excursion was to another
friend's house with a few people for a weekend—much more laid-back and
surely less extravagant.
Of course there is always more to report (like going to see Charlie
and the Chocolate factory but not realizing that it was in
Spanish…even the songs! What a botch.), but this will have to do for
now. Oh yeah, I will say that I've just recently self-diagnosed
"Montezuma's revenge" or as WebMD calls it "The Turkey Trots" or the
Russian Rumble (I made that one up). Just a word of caution to those
of you traveling to or already in less developed countries…I too once
thought that I was invincible…not the case.
Other than that, things are fantastic (considering certain
circumstances…it's all relative, as you know, is my theme) and I leave
you now to take a nap in my room where car alarms (they all set each
other off and ring like a schizophrenic chorus both day and night) and
car horns pour steadily in (and at piercing decibel levels) through my
barred, jail-like windows. Just know that your emails make my day and
sometimes my week, so no pressure, but keep writing—and sooner, rather
than later, I'll get back to you on a more personal level. Get ready.
So I thought I would wait to write for a while, so that I would have
something significant to write about when I did…however, I've
underestimated a bit and there is quite a lot now. So maybe this
email will be a little less observant and more substantive, in the
interest of length. Can't make any promises, though.
In my last email I told about the Urbe Bikini party that I went to,
and although I haven't seen it yet, one of my friends informed me that
I am in this months issue of the magazine. I should probably go ahead
and buy it, but I thought that was funny and am proud to say that my
streak of appearing in magazines in foreign countries continues!
There's a new movie in Venezuela called Secuestra Express that I saw
recently and is really cool because it is the first Venezuelan movie
in a long time to be bought by Hollywood, Miramax in this case. I
think that it has been released in New York and LA, but anyhow, it's
about a kidnapping and is based on a true story, although it could be
based on many true stories because car-jacking/kidnappings are
relatively common here. It was really cool because it was filmed in
Caracas and shows a lot of the city, and the movie actually ended at
the same building that I was inside while watching it…which is an
experience I haven't had before. It scared a lot of the people that I
work with because they are the targets for this and one has actually
been kidnapped before, but I thought it was pretty good all the same.
I've been trying to get out of town on the weekends and have had two
great trips to two very different and beautiful beaches.
The first was Choroni, a very unique place where the mountains and the
rainforest meet the Carribean. The only road there is a one-lane road
with two-way traffic through the rainforest and mountains. Probably
one of the most dangerous roads I've been on, hanging over cliffs and
non-stop twists and turns. Once we got into Choroni, late, we found
the house that the seven of us had rented and it was really nice, the
whole house surrounding a beautiful courtyard—very cool setup. The
next day we packed lunch and drinks and took off on a lancha
(motorboat) to the furthest beach, Cepe. The day was going well and
everyone was having fun…then, four of us decided to swim over to
another beach that you couldn't walk to because of huge rock that
jutted out into the ocean. We were looking for a sandy place to come
ashore in the waves, but realized too late that no such place was to
be found. Two of our friends were able to turn back and basically be
rescued by a lancha, but my friend Molly and I were too far in and had
to make our way to shore among the sea urchin infested coral.
Combined with the waves, it wasn't a graceful entrance and my feet and
left hand as well as Molly's feet were casualties of our landing.
This all happened almost three weeks ago, and I'm still picking
centimeter long daggers of pain out of my hand. Needless to say,
walking was more difficult for a while and it put a little damper on
That night we went into town and saw the coolest drumming thing (the
words aren't really flowing today), called Tambores. Two guys each
sat on and played a six-foot, tree trunk looking drum, while two more
played on the base of those drums. Another guy played a more
traditional snare drum. A huge crowd gathered and the innermost
circle of guys were the performers who jumped around, danced, pushed
the crowd and made up lyrics which the whole crowd sang with them.
The performers created an amazing and high-energy atmosphere—it was
pretty cool. Then we went to the only club in the city, an outdoor
club that was a lot of fun and everyone was there from the Tambores.
Choroni and the sister city Puerta Colombia are wonderful, diverse,
and friendly towns.
The next weekend four of us took off for Morrocoy. A National Park on
the Carribean filled with small islands (cayos, keys); we went to Cayo
Sombrero where we could camp for the weekend. It was so fun because
we had a really good group and being able to camp on a white sand
beach under the shade of palm trees while being only 100 feet from
crystal clear water…is hard to beat. We packed all the food and
drinks for the weekend, and had a great time. No Sea Urchins (or
erizo del mar, as they're called here…I just call them 'evil'), other
than the ones I killed with a stick for revenge. The snorkeling was
great and midnight swims were no problem because the moon was so
One of my best friends here, Maru, had her birthday this past month
also…which was a ton of fun. My friend Dan and I decorated her desk
with confetti, balloons, and streamers the night before, and then
brought her a giant turtle made of bread and cake the next day. She
had a great birthday, and thanks to me was forced to wear her princess
tiara all day and at night when we went out. Good times.
Last weekend I went kayaking at a reservoir that is near the city. I
was told that there were babas, which are small crocodiles, and was
hoping to see some. We went to the place where the river came into
the lake and in about a foot of water started seeing some babas. We
sat there for a bit looking for an especially big one because we had
seen its head. After waiting around for 15 minutes and seeing small
ones we started paddling back into the lake when I spotted a seven
foot monster of a crocodile on the bank sunning himself. So, the lake
actually has very large crocodiles meanwhile we had been paddling
around in their hunting ground in our tiny kayaks. Adrenaline got us
out of there pretty quickly.
Last week Chavez announced that he was going to start reclaiming rural
land from private citizens and redistribute it amongst the poor. A
very communistic, dictatorial move on his part, and the city (my part,
the small, wealthier area) erupted in protest (people banging pots and
pans from their apartment windows, mainly). We went to the central
protest (blocking main roads and attacking cars who tried to break
through baricade...)and were taking pictures when a guy approached us
asking what news agency we were from. The long and the short of it is
that people who take pictures of anti-Chavez activity have been
tracked down and made to divulge their pictures…sometimes with force.
Wouldn't that be big international news? If Chavez henchmen beat my
friends and I up for our pictures! Further signs of a burgeoning
The big news, however (if you've read this far), is this. On October
11th I leave for Buenos Aires! I'll be traveling around with Maru and
her brother (who are Argentinean) for three weeks, then they leave and
I'm going to play it by ear from there. In Buenos Aires I plan to
meet up with two friends from Vanderbilt, also a friend I met while
here will be down in the area and other plans are to hopefully travel
down the Coast of Chile, which I hear is magnificent. Other to do
list things, but that unfortunately have a 90% chance of not happening
are Machu Pichu and Cuba. How cool would that be?
Other big news is that after a painstakingly long process, I've posted
pictures on the Internet! Please indulge, and often, because I'll
keep adding pictures in a continuous stream….So here she is:
http://jamesrichards.myphotoalbum.com/albums.php . Also big news is
that I saw a shirt the other day that said "Bling It On" with cartoons
of diamonds and worn by a middle aged someone who I hope did not know
the meaning of their shirt. I guess that news isn't quite as big. I
can't make this stuff up—it's too good.
Sorry this email, like all of them, got so long. I'm not great at
summarizing or omitting useless information. Thanks for bearing with
my long-windedness, look forward to hearing from you soon…
Hi--this is just meant to be a little announcement that I have safely
arrived to Buenos Aires, via Lima, early this morning. Since then
I´ve dropped my stuff off at my friend´s apartment and have been
walking around the city. My impressions of course are still very
premature, but I feel like this is a wonderful place. It reminds me
of New Zealand in a lot of ways--is like Europe but with a lot more
beautiful people and costs relatively nothing compared to both of the
aforementioned places. On top of that, it is early Spring, my
favorite, and they speak a language which challenges me, but which I
So things are looking up in such a positive way (considering they
weren´t looking down before) and I even had a hard time pulling myself
into an internet cafe because there is so much to see and do outside.
Alright! Another country! I arrived last night to Santiago, the
capital city of Chile. Although it was tough to say goodbye to
Argentina....Ill be with her soon enough and left with too many fond
memories to count.
So, coming to Chile was the #1 most amazing drive Ive been a part of
in my life (trans-Andes). I could be forgetting something, but Im
pretty sure. I was lucky, because not only did I choose the perfect
time to leave, but also took a mini-bus (10 people) which made it a
lot more friendly and customs a ton faster. I was with people who do
this trip all the time, no tourists, and luckily asked and was able to
sit up front so I got all the amazing views. You start out of Mendoza
and get pretty quickly right up into the Andes, amazing in scale and
beauty alike. The second tallest mountain range in the world which
boasts, also, the tallest peak outside of the Himalayas (which I saw
yesterday), Aconcagua. Huge. So, driving, driving...go through a
very very long tunnel to get to the border, go through an interesting
customs process, then, Chile. You come out of customs and it is a
drop-off...more handy would have been a hang-glider than a Ford
mini-bus. The first thing you come to is a ski resort that I have to
return to...amazing. You are at a very high elevation (were huge
snowbanks and its just about summer) and the scenery is exquisite.
The chair-lifts are enough motivation...Ive never seen steeper...if
you can imagine, the huge metal polls that hold up the chairlifts cant
stand straight up because it is so steep. They are concreted into the
mountain between a 40°-70° angle that is scary to even look at.
Amazing place...and with Laguna del Inca which is really pretty also.
Then, the descent (in Bus). I asked the driver, and just in a row,
one on top of the other, are 32 switchbacks! If I could have used my
camera (waiting for it to dry as we both went swimming Saturday
night), it would have been an amazing shot to peer down at miles and
miles of switchbacks. And by this time the sun was setting through a
gap...it was incredible. After we got down, it was high-tailing
through a beautiful valley that ended up in this valley with miles of
green pasture and an amazing backdrop of the Andes. A great trip (and
sunset)...crossing the second tallest mountain range is a complete
Then, in the terminal I started to get accosted by all these guys
offering taxis and I was of course super-leery, too friendly. But
this one guy wouldnt quit, and it ended up that he called the hostel
to make sure there was room, got me a taxi, everything, without
thought of making any money from it. I thought this was an anomoly,
but then I get to the hostel, first off meet a Chileno who Ive been
hanging out with ever since and couldnt be nicer or more accomodating.
I thought Argentines were nice, and they were, but these people so
far here are uber, scary nice. Not quite used to it.
So we walked around the city today, saw a few museums, the "White
House" equivalent, etc. The coolest thing was this park, though, that
is a hill in the middle of the city, rock, that has had a castle like
stairway and turret system built onto it...it is so cool. Beautiful
gardens, and once you get to the top you have the view of the skyline
with the snow capped Andes in the background. Pretty phenomenal.
The downside of Chile is that it is more expensive...so Im going to
take it easy on doing any tours or anything and just take it in on my
own. Ill also be eating a lot of their "completos" which is a hotdog
that has avocado and mayonaisse piled on top. I hope I get out of
here before the heart-attack.
Thats the update. I dont have a good family list prepared...so will
you both please forward this to our respective loved ones....thanks,
Hi everyone, Merry Christmas! First of all, I wish I could be visiting with each and every one of you now, but since that isn`t happening, I`ll be there in spirit with my words and pictures.
I`m spending Christmas in Buenos Aires and luckily will be surrounded by friends that I`ve met over the last few months, some from Venezuela and others from the road. It`ll be a truly international Christmas with friends coming together from 4 continents and my first spent in the Southern Hemisphere (it`s 85 degrees today!). We`ve been cooking a lot and trying to make it feel Christmassy despite the perfect weather. I`m lucky enough that one of my friends that I`m staying with is a Chef (his job), which has been amazing thus far and doesn`t seem to quit. Then for New Years it`s off to a friend`s beach house at the posh Pinamar to end the year right while getting a tan--tough life.
I haven`t written much since Thanksgiving because I`ve been on the move so much with little time to stop and organize things. In the past month I think that I have lived enough good stories to entertain hours of conversation...but I`ll try to just write a couple of bits and pieces while leaving the rest for another time.
I left Pucon, Chile (see attached map), to return to Argentina on a decrepit bus (fully loaded) and a gravel road...rain filling the skies. Amazing drive crossing the Andes on such a road. At the border crossing (my 2nd at this point), Volcan Lanìn, I met a Swiss guy named Andreas who would travel with me for the next week or so. After contemplating a climb of Lanìn, we moved on to Bariloche, Argentina where we quickly gathered together some gear and got up into the mountains. Andreas is an experienced mountaineer (trained in the Swiss Army, climbed in Nepal, etc.) and I felt lucky to be up there with him. He convinced me that we could be the first of the year to do a pass between two huts that had yet to be attempted because of all the snow...there was plenty and it was a pretty harrowing experience to be climbing in snow that was at places 9ft. deep and one missed step could have sent you down about 2000ft. Especially considering my equipment--used boots that I`d bought that day. My $10 sleeping bag didn`t help too much also when we were camping on snow the second night in -15 Celsius! But overall, the 3 days afforded us some spectacular views, some good boot skiing, and all in all an amazing time.
Next I met up with a friend of mine from Holland that I had travelled with a bit before, and we went back over to Chile to see the island of Chiloè (eerily resembles the North of New Zealand...parts of the archipelago have just within the past year been hooked up to electricity and it is a really interesting fishing and farming culture that differs from mainland Chile), then back to Argentina to fly down to El Calafate via LADE, a government subsidized airline which at times can actually be cheaper than taking a bus...very nice to save 30 hours of bus trip! Oh yeah, one of the highlights of Chiloè was seeing a blind man who wore a toupee and had a little bit of an Elton John style going on--we found this first strange that someone who can`t see was so worried about appearance...but then decided that the people he was travelling with were just pranksters. It was funny, there`s a picture in the "Chile" album. I digress. In El Calafate we had a great day that started with a stunning ridge hike, then we went to the Glacier...which is a very famous tourist attraction here. This glacier, Moreno Glacier, is amazing. I`ve seen, and walked on glaciers before, usually they are just there, moving very slowly, not too exciting. However, this one is so famous because of how close you can get to it and how enormous it is. The face of the glacier that looks over the lake is 60m tall, about 180 feet. I completely lost my sense of scale when I first got there because you feel like you are very close and that it isn`t so big. Then you hear a piece fall off, what looks like a little pebble until it hits the water and is followed a second later by a sound like an enormous clap of thunder. So this is what people do, go to the glacier for hours just to listen to it`s amazing size and to hopefully see a big piece fall off. We were lucky and after our two hours (from 8-10pm, around sunset), right before leaving we saw a huge slab of the wall come off. Really loud (although looked like slow motion from the distance we watched it happen), then after about 60 seconds the big piece came charging up to the surface from the bottom of the lake and caused another big eruption. It was amazing, and I think the "best picture to tell the story" is "BPTTTS" in the "Argentina" album where you can see a tiny little person between the camera and the glacier..and this person is still very far from the glacier. Good stuff.
After that we headed to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, in Chile, which is South America`s most famous park. Beautiful views, but we didn`t pace ourselves quite well enough. Walked 15miles the first day (which included seeing a girl I went to high school with, in the park...small world) and 12 hours the second (which was a lot more than 15miles) with packs that seemed to get heavier with every step. After 10 hours the second day my friend called it quits and my pack got a bit heavier as I started carrying his stuff as well. It was nice, though, to arrive to the campsite and see a few people I had met a couple of weeks ago...so we had a good chat until I couldn`t stand up any longer. The park was amazing, though, and if the pictures aren`t up yet then they will be soon.
Then, I decided to skip Ushuai, the world`s southernmost city on Tierra del Fuego, and started what would become a 4 day, 40 bus hours, and one night sleeping in a bus terminal odyssey back to Buenos Aires (6th border crossing). Because of the close time of my first connection I didn`t have time to shower after I got out of the park, which of course made the next four days even more fun! The one night that I wasn`t sleeping on a bus I slept in the station (all the hotels were booked due to some convention in town...), but luckily enough five separate friends of mine that I had met while travelling wondered into the station at different times and kept me company for a little bit. I was a pretty sorry sight with my sleeping bag, next to all of my homeless friends. My friend John, who`s from VA and was even more delirious than me, suggested jokingly that I should hire one of them to act as bodyguard while I slept...decided against that.
Anyhow, going to keep this one short as really I just want to wish you all the happiest of holidays-- but then of course thought it might be good to fill in a bit of info as to my whereabouts and wanderings.
Check the photos (http:// jamesrichards.myphotoalbum.com/albums.php) and keep warm!
The map below...to picture my route is to draw a circle around the outside...that`s basically it. And of course my Christmas greetings (please note the sunbather behind me...)