A Travellerspoint blog

I am mzungu, hear me roar!

Ok, so last I left off I was in Arusha, Tanzania. I went on safari, and was just about ready to head out of town.

I went and bought a ticket to Kampala, Uganda for the 17 hour trip, well little did I know what I was in for.

As far as the camera thing goes, it has been slow. I set up a paypal account but they have limited it so I cant get it going because they saw the IP address was from a hut in Uganda, and they don't think its me. This has really put a damper on things, but I promise to get this done!

Before I go on about that there was something that I failed to mention in the previous post. In Swahili the word for traveler is mzungu, so everywhere you go the people here yell something like "mzungu, buy this - mzungu, buy that". The other one they use in east africa is just blatantly calling you white man - ex: "white man, whats up - you want tshirt". When you go to a village little kids bumrush you and all want to shake your hand and be your friend because you are a bit of a phenomenon being white and all. Its actually like the coolest thing.

Babies run to the bus when your on the road, and the kids just love you. It almost makes you feel like a celebrity. So if you like little black babies (Rachel, pay attention) then east Africa is for you.

Also, if you want to do good in the world then east africa is for you too. I didnt know a thing about Africa before I came, but volunteering is HUGE here. There are way more volunteers than travellers, and they come from all walks of life, but most being doctor types. So if your in some dump of a place eating rolexs (more on this later) with other mzungus, don't be surprised if they went to Berkeley, Oxford, or Cambridge even though they are covered in dirt and are wearing rags.

Ok, so back to the bus - the bus was 2 hours late, so while waiting I started talking to these two aussie sisters (Emma and Georgina) who were also going to Kampala.

Then, when the bus gets to the station there these guys who bumrush the fuel tanks and start siphoning fuel (by sucking on a hose) from one tank to the one on the other side. We were convinced that there was some sort of leak, but they told us it was no problems. As this was happening we were conjuring up the bus breaking down, and having to sleep in it overnight, and all this other stuff. Then we started laughing as we realized we were watching this guy drenched in gasoline do his thing as we were smoking a couple of cancer sticks about 2 feet away - bozos!

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Yeah, this is safe...

Whatever - so we get going, and the ride was ok, with the exception that none of the road was paved, and we never stopped to use the bathroom (no toilet on board), and the bus was more cold than the one in Panama! In the night the people left the windows open, and it was like an icebox. I had shorts, and a long sleeve shirt on and tucked into it like a ball and slept sitting up (the Aussie girls def got a laugh of this site). All the other people who were expecting this were bundled up like mummies to withstand the subarctic Siberian climate within that bus. Then came the border crossings. When I was buying my ticket I was originally thinking of going west in Tanzania to Mwanza, then heading north to Kampala because I wouldn't have to go through Kenya and pay a visa, but this journey takes 45 or so hours, and sometimes the road is impassable so I opted for the 17 hour trip from Arusha to Nairobi, then to Kampala (that comes along with Kenya visa fees).

Border crossings by bus in the middle of the night are never fun, but this shit was bananas. Being the only mzungus on board, me and the Aussie girls stuck together, but we figured basically its the usual routine (get a stamp to leave one country, get a visa in the next) and you have to walk from one to another. When we went to get the Tanzanian stamp, everyone said don't do anything because you will get robbed, and basically run to the stamp house. Well, it turns out there is absolutely no lights on in this area, and once they drop you off the bus heads to some unknown area and your left alone with no clue what to do. Well, we got our stamps and then walked the .5 kilometer walk on this huge bridge and through this small town with crazy guys sitting by fires, and really hurt up shops that were all closed. It literally looked like a scene from Mad Max.

When we were paying for the Kenyan visas, we (the Aussies and I) were debating whether we should get the full visa for $50, or the transit for $20. Well I really wanted the full, but was low on dollars and wasn't sure of the price of the Uganda visa so I played it safe and went with the transit (I will just have to come back for Mombasa, and Lamu).

After a stopover in Nairobi, we continued to the border with Uganda. Uganda wasn't so bad, with the exception that as a team we were out of money. The Aussie girls bought the full Kenya visa, and didn't have enough for Uganda. I lent them all my money in dollars and we exchanged for Kenya Shillings, but this still wasn't good enough. We literally sat at the border and were begging to be let into Uganda with the money we had, and somehow it worked!!! I mean, who does that: getting into a country with not enough money for a visa - so cool!

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The promised land, at least if you dont have enough $$$ for a visa

So when we got to Kampala we hit up some ATMs (none of us had money), and went to a hostel. The place was good, and after some food we went exploring. When I say exploring (keep in mind these girls are Aussies) we really went to a bar, then one more, then bought a bottle of booze and proceeded to drink it all. Uganda is pretty cheap, thats why I came here, so drinking isn't so hard on the wallet. The next day we started off by exploring the local market. We got these wraps with chipote, two eggs, onion, and tomato for $.50 each, and then topped it off with pineapple (probably the best I've ever had) we bought off some bicycle which really hit the spot. Then Emma wanted a purse so we talked to a seamstress and they drew up plans to make one handmade to her specs for $8. I'm not even a chick and I think thats cool. After we changed our hostel by taking the matatu (local transport minibuses). Well, the traffic in Kampala is treacherous, and it took us 2.5 hours to go across Kampala, and oh yeah by the way when we transferred to the second one we had to go through New Park. That place is absolutely mental. There must be 3 to 4 thousand matatus in there, shops, restaurants, people sleeping, etc all with like one foot between these buses. So when we got to the other hostel (backpackers) we did more exploring. We walked to a market where for less than $1 you can get beef, rice, beans, and plantains. We soon learned that literally everywhere you can get the chipote, egg, and vegetable wrap at 700 shilling ($.40) each. Well, the Aussies are on the same level as me, and these soon became the staple of our diets. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner we were slamming these guys down, and man are they good. Later from our Frankie we learned that the name of them is a Rolex (very fitting name, considering you don't need anything close to even a timex to afford).

That night we just hung out at the hostel, and this guy working there Frankie was dishing out bags of booze left and right. Yeah, you heard right. Cheap booze here is served in little bags. You get 100ml (about three shots) in a little bag. The best is Africa #1 vodka, and the worst (and of course cheapest) is Africa Waraji. Waraji smells like pine sol, and is pretty nasty, but for like $.60 for a bag its a reasonable way to go and have a good night out and not kill your wallet. A good cocktail that never fails is the Running Man (fake African Red Bull), and Africa #1.

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Vodka & running man - a classic!

Well, anyways - after a couple of drinks Frankie busted out his guitar, and man is that guy good. He put me on to a lot of good music. He was black, and grew up in London, but his friends were a bunch of fuckheads and were getting into trouble and doing drugs. To escape from that lifestyle he just came to Uganda, and lives here now (and works at the hostel we were at). Its a little crazy, because the Ugandan people look at him like a mzungu even though hes black. He doesn't speak Lugandan, but regardless he gets labeled as a mzungu which is a little crazy. So we had a lot in common, and we really got a long. That guy is cool man. After jamming for hours the conversation turned to what I would assume is a highly debatable topic in philosophy circles - is the world better or worse as a result of the course of the slave trade and colonialism.

As a newbie to Africa, I was really interested in this one. I can tell you whatever you need to know about South America, but man - I really don't know a thing about Africa. Frankie's point (keep in mind hes black) was that slavery brought blacks to all ends of the globe so that now the lineage is established those people are allowed to prosper in countries where their social group wouldn't normally be. In addition to this colonialism brought with it the establishment of formal governments (which leads to the counterpoint), infrastructure, and brought these countries further toward development than if they were left alone. Frankie, as a black man living in Uganda also noted that there is in his opinion an innate sense of jealousy of all Africans toward one another that stunts their success, and for this reason it was necessary for the modern world to intervene (all interesting). His other point was that regardless of the ethnic group, whenever there is mass immigration from one point to another for whatever the reason that there is always going to be hardship and loss of life.

The counterpoint was that the white Europeans of the time came to Africa and developed boundaries based on what they wanted, and developed rules for the Africans that they were not used to. This proverbially fucked them up and was used as a method of control to keep them undeveloped and unsuccessful and therefore susceptible to exploitation through the slave trade. In addition, Ethiopia, which was a unique situation in that it was never under colonial rule was used as an example of how if Africans are left on their own they would either prosper or fail as a continent. This can also be ruled out by different environmental conditions from country to country, and the barren landscape and and arid conditions of Ethiopia. There also was minor Italian intervention near the Red Sea, untill they were defeated and sent running in 1896 by the Ethiopian Emporer of the time.

I haven't been to Ethiopia, so I didn't chime in on this situation, but if you have any thoughts email me at: bejuan99@yahoo.com. Typically I stay out of political debates, but this one really fascinated me. Plus, it was with an international crowd giving different opinions which was cool (UK, two Dutch, some guy from Rochester, Aussies, Norway, etc.)

I rambled, so I am going to keep the next portions short. The next day we hit up the central marked in Kampala. We got there by Boda Boda. Bodas are small 125cc motorcycles that they use as transport. Its a good job, and it seems that there are millions of them around. Everywhere you walk theres a guy going "hey, mzungu - where you want to go". They drive about 10% of the time on the road and spend the other time driving on sidewalks, alleyways, between cars, and anywhere you could never imagine that a motorcycle can go. The traffic is so bad in Kampala, that they really are the only way to go, and man are they fun! The drivers are absolutely nuts, and take two people on the back no problem. They can take a 25 kilo backpack on the tank, along with me and my 10 kilo small bag like they are going out for a Sunday stroll. Oh yeah, and they crash a lot too. If you ever see a scar on somebody's face its a 90% guarantee that they were in a boda crash. I was in one too! We were driving across an ultra safe intersection (oh yeah, they don't turn the traffic lights on because they don't want to pay for them) and nearly T boned another boda. My driver reacted, locked up the back brake, and the bike slid out in a lowside, skidding on the pavement. We were going pretty slow so I just jumped off and nothing happened, but was that guy pissed. Anyways, back to the market that place is fucking nuts. The stalls are one foot apart, and there is an area for everything - spices, salts, tobacco, shoes, nuts, shirts, bags, pharmaceuticals, etc. It takes about one hour and a half to go from one end to another, but is well worth it for some good old fashioned exploring.

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Frankie and Georgie on a boda

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Market is nuts!

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Special area in market for hooves - mmmm, my favorite

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Frankie in the shoe section not looking too impressed

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After the market, we met Mr. T - we thought he was cool till we found out he was ultra shady, and pos smokes ice

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Peanut market

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Street life

And on the way back home we saw this crazy guy who had a crowd gathered around. It turns out he was bench pressing a rock in his teeth.
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Then he asked for someone to fight him, and everybody wanted the mzungu to do it (me), but I refused so this huge 2 meter guy did a Bruce Lee flying punch which landed square on his chest without a flinch. Guy was nuts.

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Downtown Kampala - Theres no traffic issues here....

That night we hit up some good clubs in town. Kampala is known for its nightlife, and so Frankie, Emma, Georgina (Aussie sisters), and Iris (cool Asian from NY who studied Epidemiology, but for the time being is traveling to find herself [SE Asia & Africa]), and I hit up all these bars and had a really good time before grabbing some rolexs at 5AM and retiring back to the hostel. At the first bar (expat pub) we lost Frankie for 5 minutes, and next thing you know he was playing the guitar and singing with the live band. The owner thought he was good and played half the set in place for the regular singer! After we went to Steak Out, easily the best bar in Kampala, which was playing reggae banger after banger. I wore my jeans that have the Haile Selassie patch on them that I got from Philly. There was a ton of Kenyans, but even more Ethiopians there and when I showed them that patch dude, like every single one of them lifted me into the air with a big bear hug. Needless to say it was a hit. I traded travel bling with some guy and got such a good trade - a Kenya leather bracelet for one Tanzania. I was getting compliments for that thing all night!

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Crazy sticker in cab on way back home from club

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Emma taking picture of self

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Fish market near our hostel. Right next to the most important place in the world - the rolex market

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Fish market 2

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I like this picture

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Emma & I travel bling. RIP Tanzania...

On my last day in Kampala I went to Kasubi Tombs. This is the burial place of the Kings of Buganda. In Uganda, there is a president and seven kingdoms, each wit a respectable King. Buganda is the largest (in size and population) and therefore is the strongest. The first Bugandan King that kicked the British out established a palace, and from then on the three that have succeeded him have been buried there. There are 52 rings to represent the 52 tribes of the Bugandan kingdom, and the main palace is considered the largest hut in the world. Under Obote (President before Idi Amin) in 1966 kingdoms were banned, the royal palace of King Mutessa II was bombed Idi Amin and his army, and eventually under exile in England the King was poisoned. Kingdoms (namely Buganda) were not brought back till 1993. In the royal tombs are the bodies of the four Kings of Buganda, spears that they possessed that were used for battle, fighting, and for ceremonies, as well as a pet cheetah of King Mutessa I who on his death was so sad he attacked everyone and was killed and preserved for the tombs.

My guide was a young aspiring journalist named Joseph. After we had a bunch of sodas and I showed him my pictures of his travels. In support of his goal I told him I would write in here about him as well as show the pictures he took. I think he will be very successful with his mindset.

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Kings tomb from inside taken by Joseph

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Me outside - picture taken by Joseph

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Me and Joseph

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Sad cheetah : (

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Me at restaurant - picture taken by Joseph

That leaves off where I am right now. Yesterday I took the bus in the morning to Jinja for white water rafting in the Nile. The location is on Lake Victoria which is actually the source of the Nile. On the 31kilometer stretch you go on nothing under a class three, and hit four class 5 rapids. As an introduction to rafting, on the first rapid you jump out of the boat before hand and go through it just in the life jacket. For those who are not good swimmers this is literally insane because every step of the way you feel like you are going to get sucked under. On one of the rapids we had a set that started off with a class four, then turns to a class three. Well, we got thrashed in the four, flipped the boat, and I got thrown about ten feet and had to go through most of it with the life jacket bobbin like a cork! My favorite by far was a class 5 four meter (12 or so foot) waterfall that we went on going backwards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another good one was the class 5 at Bujugali Falls, which was so crazy we broke all the rubbers holding the boat together, and the floats in the middle of the boat started flying all over the place. I was at this hostel last night and watched the video from another group put together with music, and man when your in the moment you lose track of time, but when you see it in video that shit is absolutely nuts. There was a kayaker that went down this class 6 that was just absolutely insane. Our guide Jeoffrey has only been rafting for two months, and has already been to international competition in Australia and France. Hes so sick because all of his life he worked at Bujugali Falls taking money from people who want to see him jump and hit the class 4 rapids holding just a jerry jug with an avocado as a cork (MENTAL!!!!).

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Rafting crew from left to right: Bozo the clown, Epidemiology PHds from Johns Hopkins, Kate from the Poconos (woot woot!) but living in Rwanda, Chelsea from Oxford, and weird older Navy guy who turned white when I told him I gave up on taking my malaria pills

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Sunset over the source of the Nile with lonely fishing canoe

Rafting in Jinja is supposed to be some of the best in the world, and man - I can say for sure now I know why. This place is sick!!! I set a new life goal. Before I die, I want to hit a class 6 set on a kayak like this dude from Adrift (company).

Anyways, this is long as hell so im going to let you go. The Aussie girls are supposed to meet me sometime today in Jinja, so I have to find them!.

PS: If your wondering why some of the pictures look good in the end its because I have been using Emma's camera with my Sony chip in it. I still need a new camera. I think I will try and find a bargain in Kampala when I go back.

Posted by bejuan99 00:39 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Bijan needs a new camera!

Dont even think that its a joke. Everything I have is on its last legs. My watch is barely readable, my ipod is busted (but I have a way to make it work), and my camera is for sure broken.

You cant see what your taking a picture of becasue there is all the sand in the sahara underneath the screen. The lens cover on the front that is supposed to open automatically doesnt open, so I have to force it open, and sometimes I have to hold it open with one finger. There is some sort of black smudge on all the pictures, and sometimes when I turn it on it gets all retarted on me, and puts the lens in and out like its doing some sort of camera breakdance.

To summarize, I need a new camera. As of now I am overbudget (I will have to make up for it in southeast asia), and cannot really affort to take the hit of buying a new camera. If you havent experienced it yet, and if you ever buy electronics outside of the states, they are alot more money, and I think I will barely be able to buy a camera, so what I am asking is if everyone who reads this pitches in a little bit of money to help a brother out, I would really appreciate it! What Im going to do is send an email to you with a paypal thingamajig so you can donate if you want. I have alot of people's emails, but if you want to donate and you dont think I have your email then you can shoot me something quick and I will get you all the details. My email is: bejuan99@yahoo.com

DONATIONS APPRECIATED!

Song of Tanzania: Johnny Clegg and Jaluka - Killimanjaro

Song of the week: Third Eye Blind - I want you

Manly song to balance out previous song: DMX - Its dark and hell is hot

So alot has happened since last time I wrote. I hope y'all havent given up on me just yet. I try and post every week, but I was in transit for a while, then when I got to Tanzania I went on safari and didnt have internet.

Well anyways, im here, and so are you, and that is all that matters.

When I left off the last post I was in Egypt with Ashley, and my flight was all messed up. Well, I resolved the flight issues with my travel agent, and got a new ticket, but wouldnt fly for another day, so I made the most of my time in Cairo. I went to this place called the citadel which was considered the military headquarters in Cairo since waaaay back in the day. This was a good find because for 20 egyptian pounds I was able to see like 5 cool things in there.

The most impressive was the Mohammed Ali Mosque, which was very beautiful. From there I hit up the police museam which wasnt all that great, a delapidated presidential palace, and the military museam. The area where the citadel is very beautiful, and its perched on the top of this hill with great views of Cairo. Of all those sights I thought the military museam was the best. For those that dont know, Egypt's military is quite capable, and is considered to be more strong than Israel. They have an equivalent number of airplanes, and a significantly larger tank force. As far as the Egyptian viewpoint on Israel, there is absolutely no beef there. They like Israel, and as long as the Israeli/Palestinian issues do not interfere with their country they have no problems.

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Amazing

The museum was put in place by the current president, Mobarrak, who was a military commander during the campaigns against Israel, so this museam was almost a mausoleum to how well the military performed and highlighted all the successes during that time period, especially those that Mobarrak participated in. It overexpemplifies his performance as a commander, and portrays the image that Egypt would be lost without him. Its actually kind of funny, and the Egyptians think it is too.

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Egyptian Iwo Jima

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I mean, how would they have done it without him...

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Well, I dont have god, or victory so I guess the only other alternative is martyrdom

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Streets of rage

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Tribute to the surface to air missile crews during the october war

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Sorry

There was a display of some aircraft and armaments too, which included a SU-7 attack aircraft, and MIG-17 fighter.

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MIG-15, SA-2 surface to air missile, and SU-7

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MIG-21

From there, I got off to the airport and flew. My travel agency hooked it up since they knew that I was pissed with how the flight with Ethiopian Air was so they hooked it up with a ticket on Emerates Airlines with a connection in Dubai. Emerates is the national airline of the U.A.E, and they are handsdown the nicest airline I have ever flown on. From Cairo to Dubai I flew on a new 777 which had screens for everyone, but those screens had a choice from over 150 movies, 75 or so tv shows, and 800 channels of music. They had a menu you could choose from for the meal, and all alcohol was included. I got into Dubai, and from the minute we landed you can tell that place is dripping in cash. All the services of the airport were first class, and hands down they had the nicest airport i've seen to date. I got in at night, and was flying the next morning so I slept on the floor for a couple hours, and woke up to see the sunset over the Arab Al Jarb hotel. This is the worlds first seven star hotel, and is awesome! Its shaped like a dow, which is the traditional vessel used in the UAE. Going back in time for a history lesson, the UAE was formed as a trading port, and found early sucess with this. For such a small country that consists mostly of desert, they have grown to be one of the global economic leaders because of this trade mentality. Well anyways, I took a cab to the hotel which planted on a manmade island, has a helicopter landing pad on the roof, and a tennis court on the roof as well. It turns out when you show up in flip flops, dirty clothes, and look like you have slept on the floor of an airport they dont exactly greet you with arms wide open. Regardless, I couldnt go inside because you need a reservation so I just peeped it from the outside (good enough for me). Of course when I was snapping pics, a rolls royce phantom came creeping out with windows so dark youd need a flashlight to see inside. On the way back to the airport I cought a glimpse of the manmade ski mountain which is on this one road that has the nicest high rises and skyscrapers I have ever seen. The funny part about all this is that when flying out during the day if you look at the city they built it all out of the sands of the desert - kind of ironic that from nothing came to rise the global economic leader. Someone once told me that all of the cranes in the middle east have been sent to Dubai, and just looking around this is totally believable.

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Exactly

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On the way to the beach

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I was really happy to do this!!!

From Dubai I flew to Dar Es Salaam (or Dar for short), Tanzania. I didnt have enough cash to pay for the visa in the airport, so this british couple lent me $13, and then when I went to repay them, they left. Oh well. Anyways, I went to this place the Jambo Inn, which was ok, but nothing to write home about. Dar is an ok city, but there isnt a whole lot to do and isnt very much visited by tourists as a result. Anyways, I crashed for a day, and got a cold beer as soon as I woke up. I think when I was in Egypt I had all but one beer, which was lukewarm at best so I was really fiending for a cold one. When I was at the Jambo Inn, I picked up the basics in swahili from the night guard which was good. Its an easy language to learn, and i swear almost every phrase includes the words jambo, or mambo.

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Uhhh, soooo good!

It turns out the weather in Tanzania is not nearly as hot as some would imagine. Around Arusha, and Moshi (near Kili) these towns have their own ecosystems which can get qutie cold. Ngorongoro is typically covered in clouds, and on the rim it can get quite cold at night.

The next day I went to figure out about a safari. Every year 1.5 million wildebeest and .5 million zebra go on a migration from Tanzania to Kenya, and its supposed to be a magnificent sight to see. The reason is because during this time of year it is very dry here, and the animals go in search of a more significant source of water, and then come back south to Tanzania when the water levels rise. Well, I know that it was happening around this time so I tried to find out if it was possible to see, but I think they are too north and west to see from Tanzania and have made it to Kenya already. Regardless, I booked a safari without realy knowing what I was getting myself into, and headed to Arusha. Afterward, the secretary asked me if I wanted to go to the beach, so me and her sister headed out. We then took the ferry to Kigamboni and headed to Mikada beach. It was almost like the terrible cliche, but neither of them could swim so they hung out on the sand when I was going around in the sea like a fish. It was very beautiful, but Zanzibar is supposed to be nicer. To get around that day we took the daladala which is the local transport minibusses which have like 38 people in each, but its like .30 cents to go anywhere.

Arusha is the most touristy town in Tanzania because of its central location relative to all the national parks and Mount Kilimanjaro. So I spent the night in a hostel, and left for safari the next morning. We got picked up in a Toyota Land Cruiser (vehicle of choice for safari), and all of our gear. We had a driver, and a cook. Our driver, Godson (thats literally his name) was born on Kilimanjaro on christmas day, and our cook Banana (also his real name) were awesome. Godson was a great driver, and was super knowledgable on all the animals, and Banana was a riot. He cooked with a campstove meals better than I have had at four star restaurants. I told him I was a choncho, and he really layed the food on me. To boot, every meal came with desert.

There were two other people on the safari with me, Lisa and Tilde. Lisa was a middle aged woman from Canada, who was on vacation in Tanzania for some time before she was going to climb Kili. She was climbing Kili to raise money for Alzheimers, which her mother had. Tilde, a 25 year old Dane was working in a hospital in Dar to get experience for her doctor schooling back home, and decided to see the country before heading home. I give her a lot of credit. This place is nuts, and to go from Denmark to the worst hospital in Dar to volunteer takes a lot of kahunes.

Anyways, the first day of safari we went to Manyara National Park. This is where we were baptized into what we were about to see for the next 5 days. We saw elephants, zebraz, flamingoes, giraffes, baboons, monkeys, hippoes, warthogs, every type of antelope (dik diks, gazelles, impalas, etc.), mongoose, lions, birds, hippoes, etc. Basically the way it works is that the roof of the jeep comes off, and you stand up to get an uninterupted view of the animals. Sometimes the animals get too close, and you have to drive away if they are dangerous like an elephant or lion, but for the most part they pay no attention to you as you go along. I think they are used to this, and they just carry on with their business as if you were not there. There was one point where we were about ten feet from this huuge elephant, and it was funny because we all got scared it was going to charge the truck - thats one hell of a way to get the adrenaline going.

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Sooo many baboons in LMNP

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More Giraffe

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This guy was hooting the whole time. I think he was trying to get laid.

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This elephant nearly took us out...

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What you talkin about Willis?

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Dik Dik

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Impala

In the park they have these huge termite hills that stand up to about 5 feet tall. They are pretty ridic.
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That night we camped on the rim of the great rift valley at this wonderful camp site, and that was where we were introduced to Banana's cooking. That guy is absolutely out of his mind. His food is soooo damn good, you cant imagine. As the cook, he stays in the kitchen all day preparing, and at night cooking. He doesnt go on the safaris with you, but he has a trained eye to look for the animals. The view we had from our campsite was awesome, looking over the lake and the sunrise was very beutiful. After dinner we were just sitting around when a guy asked us to join his acrobatic show (wtf???), so we did. These two guys played some Masai music, and then this guy just went nuts doing the most ridiculous stuff I have ever seen. He starte off by doing all these flips, then putting a stick in his mouth and balancing three coke bottles stacked on eachother on that stick all while dancing. He then started balancing on a ladder standing up, but that wasnt it. When he was on the top he kept reaching into his groin, and I thought he was just itching his sack but like after 5 minutes and a lot of chuckles coming from our side of the room he pulled out a piece of newspaper. Ok, so maybe he wanted to check the sports pages. Well, it turns out I couldnt have been more wrong. He ended up ripping to pieces, eating it, and then pulling out about 40 feet of rope from his mouth. I have no idea where he came up with this routine. He then jumped through hoops, unicycled while juggling hats on and off of his head and turning between bricks layed on the ground, and playing more music. Black warriors was definately a highlight of day one...

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This picture does no justice to describe what this guy did. I was on the floor...

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WTF???

The next day we took the 6 hour drive to Serengetti National Park. The road is ultra shitty, and so they told us that because its so bad you need to have BBQ to get the energy after, and this was ok with me. So we went to the local butcher and picked up a nice leg of goat from the fine choice of premium cuts.

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Sunrise at Lake Manyara NP

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As you can see, all of our meats are premium cuts, and this cardboard box around them keep them cool, sanitary, and fresh for your enjoyment.

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Banana and Godson with BBQ - they love this stuff

On the way to the park we saw an Aardvark that was hit by a car. It was pretty gross, but at the same time special because normally you do not see Aardvarks as they are nocturnal, and excellent at camoflauging themselves. To drive from Manyara to Serengetti you have to go through Ngorongoro National Park (more on this later), but you get to see the Masai living the way they always have. The Masai are a clan of warrior people from Northern Tanzania/South Kenya that have held their traditional ways. They wear a bright red traditional garment they wrap around their torso, and carry either spears or long sticks that can be used for fighting, or grazing cattle. They also wear sandals (even in areas where its cold), but it turns out these sandals are mad of old tires which is kind of a bug. When we got to Serengetti we went on a long game drive, but right from the start were greeted by these beautiful birds

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Cool view of tree at the entrance to Serengetti

And about 5 km into the park we saw this pack of about 9 or 10 lions hanging out on this huge rock.

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Then after some time we saw a cheetah, which is extremely rare.

Then we just were immersed in a world of elephants, zebras, antelope, lions, hippoes, giraffe, and everything else you can imagine. Serengetti is a very special place, and is huge. You can drive around for three days in that place and still not see everything. The highlight of day two had to be when we stopped to look at a giraffe, but we ended up being surrounded by a family of aorund 70 elephants.

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Camping there was awesome. Me and Lisa got trashed off a 5 liter of wine, and hung with the cooks all night. Turns out when on safari nobody else tries to party. Every night Lisa, Tilde, and I were always the last ones up, always laughing, and always having a good time. I think a lot of the other people there were so stuck up they didnt know how to have a good time. Regardless, I was half in the bag when it was time to go to sleep, and I literally had to do a double take when Godson reminded me that when going to the tent I had to "use the torch, and watch for lions". I mean this place was nuts. There was all these super dangerous animals around, and no fence or nothing that prevented them from eating you in the middle of the night. Then he had to remind me not to leave my shoes outside the tent because hyenas would eat them. Apparently they pick up that the shoes are made of leather, so they treat them as a delicacy. If they cant eat them from the getgo, then they let them sit in water, and then tear them to pieces. I guess I would expect nothing less from an animal that eats everything from bones to garbage.

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Sunset in the Serengetti

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Banana gettin busy in the kitchen

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Me and Banana with Goat BBQ

It was when I was in the Serengetti that I saw the chicken antennas, and started going nuts. When I was in Mendoza, Argentina and I went to the zoo with Natalie, we saw these guys and because of the horn thingamajig on their heads we called it an antenna. Seeing them was ridic, even though nobody else thought so.

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The next day we woke up for a game drive, and headed to the hippo pool. There was an insane amount of hippoes there, all trying to stay cool. Hippoes are grazers, but its too hot for them during the day so they just hang out in shallow pools waiting for night when they feed. Where we were there had to be 200 hippoes, that were surrounded by about 10 crocodiles. I wasnt really paying attention, and then I heard a commotion and realized what happened. It turns out that a younger crocodile was tryin to make his way to the middle of the hippoes when he pissed them off, and got eaten. In one fell swoop this giant hippo snapped this croc in half and instantly killed him. It was pretty crazy to see how nature works in that kind of detail. From there, we were driving around and noticed a lion ready to kill a warthog. It was just at that moment that my camera died, but it was freakin awesome. The lion was ducking low in the weeds, stalking his prey, and just as he was ready to go for the kill the warthog got tipped off and scooted away. This was the highlight for me of day three. After the game drive we drove to the Ngorongoro Crater.

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Dont want to be in there...

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Thompsons Gazelle

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The crater is about 20km wide, and was a volcano at one time. What happened was that lava flowed to the top and cooled, sealing the volcano and after too much pressure built up it exploded destroying 90% of the volcano, leaving just a rim. The rim is approx 660 meters tall, and because of this it has a unique ecosystem to the rest of the area that allows for a very large concentration of animals that isnt matched anywhere else in north Tanzania. When we set up camp, there was a bunch of zebras around just doing their thing. The Masai live in the crater, and do not hunt any of the wild animals so they have become quite used to humans. At the campground we saw zebraz, bush pigs, and even huge ass elephants all right up close with the tents. At night (once again half in the bag) I was on the way back to my tent, and was trying not to trip on the lines from other tents and no shit almost ran right into a group of about 8 zebras just grazing. When in the tent you could hear all these animals just doing their thing eating grass, poopin, or whatever it is that they do right next to you. Oh yeah, and when we got to the campsite we realized we broke the jeep because we were on such rough roads.

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The damn shock ripped right off the control arm!!! So the next day whenever we hit a bump the car would bounce like a lowrider - mad funny.

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Another funny thing that Godson told me was that "sometimes the cloud will be in this building (referrring to the building where you sit to eat), and you are very lucky there is no clouds in the building now". Some things like that crack me up.

The next morning we got up and headed into the crater. Like I mentioned before the crater is known specifically for having large concentrations of animals. There we saw large herds of buffalo and zebras. We also saw a lot more than anywhere else Ostrichs. But by far the coolest thing we saw there was a male lion with a huge mane just sitting by guarding a fresh zebra kill. He was watching it so other animals wouldnt get to it. It was also in Ngorongoro that I saw hyenas (spotted and striped) for the first time. But more importantly than anything else we were in search of rhinos. Rhinos are very rare to see, and are only found in the crater. There is a population of around 150, but they are solitary creatures that hide out in the forested areas. Well, we tried and tried, and tracked where they would be and didnt find any. It was cool, because for most of the other animals it was just coincidence that we ran into them, but in the crater we were really tracking the rhino. Also in the crater we saw an insane amount of wildebeest, and the beautiful cranes that we didnt see anywhere else.

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We were trying so hard to find rhinos

It was there that I ate something funny, and this happened...
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No, for real it was there that we ate lunch and this damn vervet monkey stole my banana when I shifted my weight for about two seconds on the ground.
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Pumba is swahili for warthog

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Highlight of the crater

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Wildebeest

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Tilde not smiling as usual - hahah, jk. She told me Danes dont like to smile so everytime she wouldnt smile id point it out.

After we headed out of the crater to Arusha for the night. We stayed in a hotel which was quite nice because we had a shower and change of clothes. The next morning we got up and after a lot of confusion we headed out for Arusha National Park. Well, we got about 5km into the drive when Banana realized he didnt have the credit card to pay for the park entrance fees. He left it on the daladala (local transport minibusses), but somehow he called the driver, and we tracked it down. Then Banana got in it, and we followed for a while, then he got out, and we still didnt have the card. It was a mess, but really funny at the same time. Arusha NP is very close to Arusha, but is special in that you can do a walking safari. When we got there Lisa was a bit shaken up because we were late so Godson bought us a bunch of beers, and we drank when on the game drive (awesome). After we went on the walking safari, but because this is dangerous you need to go with a guide with a gun (in this case 30-06). Its cool because you are a lot less restricted than on the jeep safari (and more vulnerable). We saw a ton of wharthog and buffalo. Giraffes, zebras, and dik diks made appearances as well. After we walked to a 10 meter waterfall which was beautiful and refreshing.

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What else is new

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Really cool waterfall

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Have gun will travel

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Finally a smile!

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Jackpot crew!

Then we went on another game drive this time to see flamingoes in the seven lakes area. In this area the minerals in the lakes are all different and therefore cause the color of each to be different. Its kind of crazy. At big Momella lake we got to see a lot of flamingoes, albeit not as close as we would like, but it was still very good. On the way out we saw an insane amount of Giraffes, and ran into some blue monkeys which was quite good. We also got to stop at a really nice veiwpoint that had a good view of Mt. Meru which is very close to Kilimanjaro, but doesnt get nearly enough press because of its 4,566 meter stature.

Well here I am, that is about it. I need a camera, and want to start a business. When on safari (the swahili word for travel) I got Godson's card, and we got a talking. I am having him put together a business plan, but basically we need a jeep, an office, website, and some other odds and ends and we could be in business. There are no taxes on a business in Tanzania after a $2,000 yearly fee is paid, so I have to research the tax laws in the US if I become the president how that would work.

Godson would be director, Banana would be guide, and I would be the owner and agent. I would be responsible for getting clients from the US and Europe, Godson would be responsible for ensuring everything goes smoothly, the accounting, hiring, teaching all the guides, and payroll. Banana would be the guide, and we would have a cook and flycatchers. I am in the process of trying to better understand and gain some fidelity on the ROI that is possible for this. Of course I would be looking to every single one of you to be an investor in this venture (dont worry, I know you can afford it). All the safari companies here operate in a similar manner with an overseas investor, and Tanzanian director, and as far as I can tell and from asking around none have gone out of business, not even the shitty ones...

Posted by bejuan99 23:14 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Walk.... I mean - Smoke like an Egyptian

Good lord to these people like tobacco! Im going to be honest here when I say that people in Egypt have the most hurt up teeth I have seen in my life. All day, its bogey after bogey, then tea, then the sheesha (hookah). If you find someone with yellow teeth, this is like something amazing.

The dudes who smoke a lot of hash or opium have straight up brown grillz, and I have seen green before!

Haha, ok so back to the trip. Cairo was hot, dirty, and busy so me and Ash took a train to Aswan in the south. We went for the sleeper train which was supposed to be super nice (with a bed so you can sleep), but it turned out to be a real dump. You pay $60 for it vs. the $15 for the first class which is the same, minus the bed part (just a seat). Well whatever it was, in the train station Ash was looking at the pictures which made it look all nice, but when we got there it was nothing like the pictures. I kind of figured it wouldnt be at all like the pictures, but hell - at least there wasnt chickens in the room. So, after the 12 hour ride we got to Aswan. Aswan is the southernmost city in Egypt and was historically used as a stronhold to defend Egypt from the Sudanese (going back to 1500 BCish).

Aswan is effin hot! During the day it averages 43 in the summer (around 110F), and the nighttime isnt much better. When we got there I wanted to hit up this $1 hostel, but Ash wasnt into it at all, so we made a compromise. With all that travel we worked up quite an appetite so when we went to this weird restaurant I ordered up some grilled pigeon, and slammed that sucka down. Def add that to the list of crazy food i have had...

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Yeah Ash, im not sure the Lamb is as cool as the Pigeon. Put that thing down...

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Boomshakalaka!

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View from hotel in Aswan

In Aswan, my hair was really beat so I got a haircut by Dave Chappelle. After cutting my hair without asking he then removed all the hair from my forehead by using thread in this crazy technique using his teeth and some thread. Man, my forehead is so shiny and smooth now im sure the girls are going to line up just to get a feel.

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Before

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After

The man kept talking to Ashley, and she was convinced her hair needed some trimming so she got up in the barbers seat, and he did a little trimming. More interesting than this though was when he showed her how he cuts hair with a flame from a candle. After, he removed her moustache with the thread stuff he did to me to make her look more like a woman than a truck driver... (haha - Ash, sorry but I couldnt help myself).

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I also bought this from the Souk (bazaar)!

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Also in Souk

That night we went out on this little boat up the nile to a beach for swimming and to play some football. We used the roof of the boat as a diving board, and did some diving too which was fun. After we went to a Nubian house for dinner. Nubians are the people from Northern Sudan who now live in Egypt. The reason why they had to migrate north is because in the 60s the Egyptian government build the high dam which changed the flow of the Nile and created lake Nassir which displaced the people. They consider themselves apart from Egyptians, and typically the two dont wed. Nubians also have more relaxed views on drinking and smoking than the Egyptians. Therefore all the Nubians try and hustle weed in the streets, and convince you its ok because they are Nubian.

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At the swimming beach

The Nubians also believe that crocodiles are good luck so they put a stuffed one above their doors, and keep at least one in each house. In the house we went to they had one that had to be at least 8 foot long, and they showed how powerful he was by poking it with a stick and showing how the croc ravaged that stick. They also had a baby one in a glass cage, which seemed harmeless but they said it could kill you.

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I call this one "man with croc"

After two hours of sleep we went to Abu Simbel in the South. Its about 40km from the Sudanese border. Its only about three hours drive south of Aswan, and its damn hot there. Abu Simbel was built under the reign of Ramses II, who is considered one of the greatest pharoas and is referred to as Ramses the great. Its purpose was to show the power of the Egyptian empire and show to the people of the south the great power that they posessed. It was used more as a piece to intimidate the enemy from coming north. Its kind of crazy too, because when they build this high dam that I referred to earlier this was going to put the site of Abu Simbel under water so UNESCO with the Egyptian government cut the ancient stone from the mountain it was in, moved it 120 meters higher in elevation, and reassembled it in a manmade mountain. There are two temples (large and small) with really cool heiroglyphics in both. The centerpiece for sure is the four statues of Ramses in the front of the large temple. On our way out I mentioned to a cop that he had a cool klashnikov, and for one pound (less than 20 cents) he was going to let me hold it and take a picture, but then we had to go. If a cop in the US did that, they would be hanged, but the cops here are a bit different I suppose.

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They actually had one big ass door that locked the Large temple, and what Im holding is the key. I know, Im awesome. You dont need to tell me.

After Abu Simbel we went to the high dam which wasnt all that crazy, except when I learned about how careful I had to be about the egyptian challenge with the silent nature.

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After the dam we went to the temple of Philae (pronounced Philly), but despite how hard I looked I did not find the fresh prince, or jazzy jeff. They had really good heiroglyphics that you could take pictures of there, and it was on this island which was really cool.
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Sadly enough, we kept forgetting to walk like an egyptian, and I think this is the only picture we have doing it.
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The next day we headed out. We were supposed to take a fallukah to Luxor (three day sail) on the Nile, but Ashley got sick so we had to take this big cruise ship kind of a thing. Before heading out we stocked up on supplies (stomach bug medicine for Ashley, some sudanese stickey ickey for me). Honestly, I have to say that one of the most epic things I have done so far was to sit on the back of that cruise ship, lit up, listening to some solid rock and roll. Im talking the stones, sammy hagar, bob seagar, def lepp, etc... Just chillin, watching the Nile go by was AMAZING!!!

The next day when Ash stole my ipod I was listening to this funny 1940s/20s ballroom/elevator music that was playing on the ships speakers, and that was almost more epic than the rock! The boat was all fancy, so listening to that kind of music was hillarious, and once I was in the groove, you couldnt pay me to peel away from that shipboard speaker.

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View from stern. Mad tonnage!

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When we got to port in Luxor there were so many ships we docked like 8km from the city so a cab was really epensive, but boy did we find a way around this! There was a buttload of French people on the boat so we just followed them off the boat onto their tour bus and pretended we were french and saved ourselves 50 Egyptian pounds!!!

I guess I have developed a "it will always work out in the end attitude", because when we were 5 minutes on the bus I looked over to Ash and told her that I had no idea where the boat was. We both burst into laughter at how ridic that was. There was like 1,000 boats in the town and we had no idea what the name of ours was, or where it was, and here we were cruising in this bus with all French people, and we had no idea where it was taking us.

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Me and Ash at our final dinner on the cruise. We got all dressed up (cant you tell).

We went to the temple of Karnak which is just outside the city of Luxor, and was really good (and hot). It was at that point that we realized that between the heat and Ashley being a lil sick still we were almost Egypted out.

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Entry to Karnak

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My favorite thing at Karnak

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Because of this we just took the next couple of days easy. One of the nights in Luxor there was this sweet party with midgets, and waaaay too many people standing on pickup trucks beating sticks, and horses, and swords!!!!

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Of course I had to get in the mix, and beat a little stickage...

The next morning we took a hot air ballon ride over the valley of the kings during sunrise. This was really sweet, and we got a tshirt and flight certificate with it. It def was cooler than the one I took at the speedie fest with bob the dude with the sandals and socks and milk shirt, and was a hell of a lot cheaper (less than $50).

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Getting ready

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I have developed a special talent. Uncle fester can make a light bulb turn on by sticking it in his mouth. I can make a hot air ballon look like a light bulb by squeezing...

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Of course we had to have a pic.

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I really like this one. Notice the tombs to the left carved out of the mountain

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Self explanatory

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Backshish, Backshish!!!

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Us with captain. He didnt crash land like the time I went in Binghamton, so Id have to call it a sucess.

After we hired the bus driver to take us to the valley of the kings. Luxor is seperated into the west and east bank. The west bank has the valley of kings, the valley of the queens, hapschetsut temple, and some others that arent as famous. What happened is that originally the pyramids were used to bury the dead in ancient egypt, but these were eventually robbed of all the goods that were left for the afterlife. This forced the pharoas to be buried in small underground chambers just outside of Luxor. In the valley of the kings there are something like 62 tombs, but they are finding new ones each day. There was some small houses nearby and the government has relocated those people because they are excavating and finding more tombs.

Me and Ash only went to the valley of the kings (the most impressive), to get a flavor. With your ticket you get to enter 3 of the tombs, and we went to Ramses III (because we saw his mummy in the Egyptian museam), Tuthmosis III, and Queen Seknaht. Funny thing about Sehnaht was that it was originally built for the Queen, but when the King died they thought this was more important for him so they put him in there and relegated the queen to a smaller, more unknown tomb. If you took pictures they would take your camera and youd have to bribe them to get it back so I dont have any pics.

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I dont know why, but Ash must have thought maybe with my face or maybe I had boogers. Not sure...

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These were as good as pics I can get of inside. Sorry!

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Yeah... I could work for Blackwater

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View on the ferry from west to east bank

When we were done our driver offered to take us to his house so we could eat some free food, which got me interested. He was really into asking Ashley a lot of questions despite the fact that we told him I was her boyfriend. Our driver Allah kind of skeeved her out, but I was too busy enjoying the free sodas, dates, cigarettes, tea, and bread they were giving me to intervene (my bad). Their family was really nice, and we got out of there with some bread and cigarettes to go (score).

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Ash and Allah's donkey

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Allah with the chickens in his moma's kitchen

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Allah's fam

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I look like a dork, but this time just the men...

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Wedding in the street of Luxor just before we left

After that we booked out of Luxor to get Ashley to the airport. When in the airport I saw the Egyptian soccer team heading to the Olympics which was cool. We took the night train from Luxor to Cairo, and then had like 14 hours to wait in the airport. I was supposed to leave at 2pm with a flight to Tanzania with layovers in Sudan and Ethiopia, but it turns out they shifted the time of my ticked three months ago, nobody told me, so I have to go to the airport every night and go on standby to leave. Last night there were 18 people on standby so Im not sure how long its going to be before I can leave. Im thinking about heading to the Red Sea, Jordan, and Israel if I cant figure this out soon.

Top twelve lines from Egypt:

1) You are a lucky man

2) How many camels for your wife (referring to Ashley)?

3) Why not (referring to when you turn them down for anything - souveneirs, taxi or boat rides, etc)?

4) Hello (in a british accent because they think you are from England)

5) How can I take your money (when walking in the bazaar)?

6) I will give you a secret price my friend

7) No hassles, just come inside and I will show you anything you would like. Do you want a scarf, sheesha?

8) Them: Taxi?
Me: No!
Them: Fallukah (boat)?
Me: No!
Them: Hashish?

9) Them: 5 pounds
Me: OK
Them: 5 british my friend (as opposed to Egyptian pounds)

10) Come take a ride in my Ferrari (pointing to their horse drawn cairrage)

11) Welcome to Alaska!

12) Them: 175 Egyptian Pounds
Me: No, only 10
Them: Ok, 100
Me: No!
Them: Ok, 10 pounds

Posted by bejuan99 03:37 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Greece & Egypt

So when I was in Athens I went to the Acropolis, and some other ancient sites. I think I mentioned it before but Athens is a beautiful city, and its relatively cheap for Europe (if you dont go out drinking). Another thing that I did in Greece which was cool was go to the governmental palace. There you can watch the changing of the guard. The soldiers wear a very traditional uniform, and have a very ornamental ceremony that shouldn't be missed (plus its right next to Syntagma Square and the Plaka).

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I'm sure Seargent Instructor Staff Sergeant Areas will be raging through Charlie Company barracks leaving a path of destruction from Quantico to Egypt after he sees this one!!!

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Tommy Raynors brain

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Acropolis

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More Acropolis

I will give you an example of daily expenses:
- Hostel 18 Euro
- Stolen bread for breakfast from hostel FREE
- Acropolis and ancient sites ticket 6Euro with student card (Im obvioiusly not a student, but had the dude make me one)
- Peaches, bannanas and nectarines for lunch 1.5Euro
- Water .5Euro if you buy a big bottle and refill in restaurant bathrooms (all water in Athens is drinkable)
- Two gyros to go for dinner (takeaway is cheaper) 3.6Euro

Total: 29 Euro or $45 a day

After I went to the acropolis and around Athens the next day I went to Sounio, which is about a 70km drive east. Sounio is the southernmost point of continental Europe, and is where the Greeks built the Temple of Poseidon overlooking the sea. After visiting this, you can go down to this hotel and swim at their beach for free. The beach is really beautiful. On the way to Sounio I met a couple (Ivan & Dinah) from Bosnia, and we spent the day together. I have met a few Bosnians, but never had the time to chat with them like I did in Sounio. They were from Sarajevo, and were really happy with their country these days. Sarajevo is cool because its a city, but like 20 minutes away is the mountains with skiing, mountain biking, and things like that. Ivan said some days after work he just takes the subway directly to the mountain for skiing in the winter which is cool. I learned about Yugoslavia (Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia) and the struggle for independence of each country and about Malosevich. One interesting thing is that the currency in Bosnia is the Mark which is pegged to the Euro with a two to one exchange rate that does not change with time.

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Sounio beach

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Me with Dinahs hat eating a sandwich like a choncho

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Temple of Poseidon

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Me showing Ivan the way

The next day (really that night) I headed to the airport for the 1.5 hour flight to Cairo. In the Cairo airport I met Ashley. Ashley is my friend who lives in the same town as me upstate in NY. I met her at work two years ago, and we have been friends since. We went to this hostel "The Australian Hostel", which was funny because it was nothing but Egyptians there. The manager, Amr was really cool and was really helpful. We got in at 4 in the morning, and stayed up to see the sunrise over the Nile. Walking around early in the morning is a bit weird. Ashley was super nervous about how to act as a female and didn't feel safe, so we just saw the sunrise and headed back to the hotel. I will say that during the day it is no problem for women to go anywhere touristic. Europeans females wear short shorts, and travel alone no problem. At night I suppose it could be a little uncomfortable for women, but it can be done - it depends on your comfort level. Me, I dont give a shit for anyone or anything and am a man so I have no problems. I also have spent probably a year total of my life in Iran so I am used to the middle eastern mentality with the bargaining, hastling, the mentality, etc...

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This was the first guy we met in Cairo. He was covered in foam for some reason (wtf???)

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Cool monument to this guy who whooped the British out of Egypt

After taking a nap we went to the National Egyptian Museum which was about three blocks from our hostel. It is the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. I made friends with a guy, and he let us into the mummy room and allowed us to take pictures. They were taking away peoples cameras, so we were lucky to have this guy on our side. Egypt is all about the backsheesh (tips). Anything you do, you have to cough up some money, and depending on the area most of the time one pound isnt good enough ($.30).

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Ramses III - look it up

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That night went to the bazaar which was huge. That was where we found this...
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And this guy

The next day we went to the pyramids in Giza (30 minute drive from Cairo). Most people think they are out in the middle of nowhere, but in fact they are about a two minute walk from a KFC and Pizza Hut, and are just outside the urban sprawl of Cairo.

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Egypt!

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When I was in the desert I am such a fucking yankee chanco that when I saw this in the oasis I thought it was a hamburger, and tried to eat it!!!

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Camel Ride!!!

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I was thinking of developing a new television series. COPS - on patrol live from Giza!

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Great Pyramid. When I was coming down a cop with a klashnikov was motioning for me to come down, and I thought I was going to get arrested for climbing the pyramid, but then it turns out he was trying to take a better photo of me!

The exchange rate is $1 for 5.3 Egyptian Pounds. They have a meal called Koshary which is made of beans, macaroni, tomato sauce, and some other unknown stuff. Its amazingly good, and they give a tea kettle of hot sauce with it for 4 or 5 pounds for a whole meal. A $.90 meal that fills you up cannot be beat with a ten foot pole. Kabob is more expensive, but you def can live on a shoestring here.

I will say this - unless your tolerance level is high, Egypt can be stressful in the summer. The temperatures in south Egypt are around 42C (110F), it is dusty, and the people selling goods in the bazaar are pushy. In short Egypt is not for the faint at heart. In reality all the places I have gone to have been like that, but I suppose that with the heat it only makes it more difficult. On the other hand, if you have a positive attitude, and are willing to be uncomfortable for a lil while and make some sacrifices Egypt is amazing. Egypt has had problems in the past, but tourism is up, and they dont stand for terrorism. There are cops everywhere with klashnikovs and MP5s loaded with kevlar helmets and steel barricades in case anything goes down (which it wont). In 1997 62 tourists were murdered in an explosion in Luxor (where I am going next), in 2004 Isreali tourists were targeted in the Taba Hilton in the Sinai Peninsula (killing 31), and in 2005 a series of attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh left 88 dead. Im not going into the details of why these bombings were executed, but the people of Egypt really hate this and try to downplay it just as I will here by calling them "accidents". Aside from this, Egypt is waaaayy safe. They have no theft, and I feel really comfortable everywhere. They drink, but its not popular (against the principles of Islam) and its a little tough to find beers. When you can find, they are expensive.

Also, I think I am planning world tour number two already. Im thinking something along the lines of:
- Honduras (Bay Islands) & El Salvador
- Colombia
- Bolivia
- Argentina (in the summer - Patagonia)
- Brazil (maybe)
- Maybe tour east europe by train (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania)
- Greek islands by boat
- Overland to Turkey
- Syria, Lebanon, Israel, & Palestine
- India (maybe)

Alternative is to cut out the eastern european countries and do:
- Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan

If you are interested, let me know and we can find a way to save the money...

Posted by bejuan99 01:49 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Sorry!

Yeah, I know - its been a while... but my dog ate my homework.

So I think the last town I wrote about was Tucuman. After Tucuman me and Catherine (girl from Montreal) went to Cordoba which is the second biggest city in Argentina. We walked around, and saw some cool sites, but I just wasnt getting the vibe I wanted from the place. I tried to go out and find some nightlife so I went to the area where the bars are and hit up some cheap rock dive called "Donde es la rock" which translates to where is the rock (awesome), but the place was kind of dead. I tried looking for other bars that were hopping with no luck, so I went home.

But on the way I saw an awesome muscle car, and saw the guys who owned it. Of course we made friends, and we talked about cars and engines till 3 AM! Those guys were cool. They dont have much to work with in their country, but they hold the fort down. PS: Dont ever try and guess what kind of car it is and call it a FIAT next time...

Ohh wait, I cant forget. The oddest thing happened to me in Cordoba. I remember when I was in Panama I met this girl, and we were wasted at the time but she told me that there is a theory out there that everyone on the earth has a twin somewhere whether they know it or not. I kind of thought this was interesting, and I kind of saw her point. When I was in Cordoba I was in the hostel taking a nap talking to these two guys. I told them I was from NY state, and the one guy kept asking questions as to where exactly. Its usually at this point that I tell them something like "you wouldn't know the area, its really small, this, that, and the other." Well he kept asking. He kept asking because this guy is my twin!!! Brett Farrell, Binghamton (Harpur - psych) class of 2006, was in my hostel. This guy lived on Chapin & Oak street, knows all the chestnut guys, was at almost all of the good parties (oaktoberfest, the party where Bill threw the microwaved pickle at the cab driver, etc.), and was good friends with the seminary girls (including Lynnie and Steff), knew Jeff K (my roommate and best bud in college), etc. We were at all the same parties, and even had some of the same classes. When we became friends on facebook we had like 20 mutual friends.

Then it got really weird. He was also on an around the world trip with a ticket from the same company, he was going to almost the same countries as me (but in the opposite direction), had the same Kelty big backpack as mine (but in blue), the same style camelback (small backpack), the same boots as me, and we were reading the same book. I'm not sure that there can be any other similarities here people...

The same type of protests that were going on in Peru were going on in Argentina about food prices. When in Cordoba they shut some of the streets down, and they were marching throwing leaflets, and shooting off these firework things every minute or so. The fireworks sounded like bombs, and scared Catherine so we had to get out of there. When in Mendoza I watched the news and found out that it got really bad the day after we left. The cops were shooting the people with rock salt, and a bunch of people were beaten.

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This is what it looked like when I was there, but it only got worse

The next day Catherine, Brett, this older French guy, and Myself went to Alta Gracia. The main attraction there was the house where Ernesto "Che" Guevara grew up. The man was Argentinian, and spent most of his youth in Alta Gracia because his asthma was so bad that he had to move to a more arid area of the country. Ironically by todays standards, this tough freedom fighter would be considered weak and feeble during his childhood. His asthma restricted him from participating in organized sports, he loved chess more than anything, and he was a real bookworm - he would read anything he could get his hands on. From Alta Gracia he went to medical school in Buenos Aires, then started his political movement in Guatemala. After the effort lost hold due to the assistance of the CIA he went to Mexico where he met with Fidel Castro. It was at this point when they strategized the takeover of Cuba. Che was the commander of the revolutionary forces, and was the one who took hold of Havana and seized control of the country. It wasn't until 6 days later that Castro came to Havana to take power. After that he went on to try and spread his theory and teachings to other nations. Under false identity he went to Congo to try and overthrow the government there. After some time, and being unsuccessful he returned to South America where he strategized the unification of all Latin American nations (he was probably reincarnated as Chavez). He thought that Bolivia would be the turning point, and winning there would cause all the other nations to join the resistance and unify. It was there that in 1967 he was killed, slayed by a puppet government instilled by the CIA. He was killed in captivity by a drunk officer of the Bolivian Army that was trained by US special forces. Today you recognize his face all over the world. Many people don't understand what he represents.

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Any man who drinks coffe while engaged in armed combat is the man

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See, I totally rode his motorcycle...

When he was just a teenager he took a 4,000 km road trip on a motorcycle throughout Argentina. That later inspired another road trip from Buenos Aires to the south of Patagonia, all the way up to Venezuela (this time 18,000 km). It was during this time that he really understood the suffering that the people of South America endure on a day to day basis. As a doctor he was able to see the poverty and oppression firsthand. He wanted to stand up to the injustice, and free these people from such terrible existences. He was a revolutionary mind that was looking to fight for the people of his land, and so am I (as you can see in the picture below... lol). Norm, you were right all along!

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Water Mill Taliban

So from there I went to Mendoza. Turns out this cool guy from Cordoba was on the bus, and his seat was next to mine. So we struck up a conversation and traveled for the next four days. Clement is the coolest guy I've met thats over 30. Hes a German teacher, and was traveling solo because his girlfriend is a student and she has no money (kind of funny). Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina, where 97% of it is produced. When we got there, we linked up with this crazy guy JB who was an ex marine. He was full of crap, and was definitely mental. He told everyone he sleeps 3 minutes a day, and was poisoned by agent orange, and all this stuff. When I told him I went to OCS, and knew everything he was talking about he would only talk to the others in a low tone so I wouldn't hear his lies. He was really entertaining though. We also linked up with this girl from Rosario, Natalie. Its funny because hands down everybody in Argentina will tell you the most beautiful girls in all of Argentina come from Rosario. I cant explain this, but it must be something in the water.

After we got together we went to the wineries. You rent a bike for 20 pesos and get a bottle of wine with that which is awesome. Basically you ride down this one road with all the wineries and get trashed for free, or very little money. Some wineries charge a very small fee, but some are free. Natalie killed me when she kept iterating how she earns pesos, not dollars so she kept having to get more free shots at this liquor making place. At the liquor place, if you ever go they had a hot pepper liquor. Of course I'm going to drink it just because nobody else will, but it was by far the worst thing I have ever tasted. For lunch that day we had the best empanadas in all of Argentina, and hit a few more wineries.

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Told you

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If you ever go to Mendoza DO NOT have this drink whatever you do! Ten seconds after that cute smile was nonexistent

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This winery was lucky I got this cool photo out of them because all we wanted to do was get bent, and they wouldnt even let us do that - jerks.

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The next day me and Clement went horseback riding all day in the Andes with this gaucho Gabriel. He was a real cowboy. He has a home in the high mountains that takes three days on horse to get there. He lived there for two years to get experience before he moved to the city to take up a law degree. He loves wine, asado, and women - a modern day John Wayne. We started the morning off right with a couple of mates. A mate is a bitter herbal drink that is a tradition in Argentina. The whole country drinks it, and they really like it. To the unaccustomed its a bit distasteful, but if you give it a chance (and a little sugar), its an excellent choice to have when either relaxing, or to use as a pick me up. They drink it from a unique cup, and a more unique metal straw. We wrapped the day up with Asado (Argentinian BBQ), where the guy basically put a half a cow on the cooking rack above some logs (awesome). Clement is also a huge cowboy too, which is funny for being a German guy. I think hes more cowboy than me. Wait a minute... not possible - I take that back. He was having so much fun though it was hilarious. Just before we left Gabriel saw the bull they had at the stable. After telling him all my exploits in making my way to the top of the PBR circuit (SIKE, I really mean that one time in Harpursville with the guys from work) he asked if I wanted to ride it. HELLS YEAH! Turns out it was just a baby, and had no fight in it. I broke its spirit in 3 or so seconds, and it went on to live in shame for the rest of its life...

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Starting off right with a mate

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Marlboro country - come to where the flavor is

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Couldnt turn this down

I told the gauchos how they train the bulls in the US for rodeo, and they thought it was nuts. I told them about that crazy guy who when we went bullriding was yelling "im going to turn you to hamburgers" to the cow that wasn't bucking enough. I agree with them. That guy sucked.

The next day Clement, Natalie, and I went on this tour of different areas. We went to this old Inca bridge which was stained yellow by the sulfur released by volcanic activity in the area. Then we went to Los Penitentes which is a ski resort close to Mendoza. The snow wasn't that thick so we bailed on the snowboarding. The winters in Argentina and Patagonia have been weird recently with global warming, and the skiing hasn't been as good as it could be is what I hear. On the way to all this we had to stop at this area with a parking lot, and nobody knew why. Apparently the weather gets so bad in the area that they have to shut the roads down every now and then. Its risky to go to Chile around this time of year, because you either will get stuck in Mendoza with a bus ticket worth nothing, or you cant come back. The airlines make good business of travelers who have set plans and don't take this into consideration. Catherine got stuck in Mendoza for four days trying to go to Santiago (Chile). I was thinking about heading over with her, but with the whole border situation and the fact that Chile is more expensive than Argentina I decided against it. Oh well...

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Dont mess with the Andes

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Inca bridge

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All these people were waiting because they couldnt go on the road to Chile

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From the same spot

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And again

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For some reason there was this shovel thing there

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After that I met up with Catherine out of coincidence because she got separated by plans, but then were reunited. This whole time the Clement, Natalie, Bejuan crew were cooking up a storm in the hostel with all food that was stolen. Trying to stick to our budgets we were taking food from wherever we could find it, and managed to scrape together awesome meals. It was really a lot of fun.

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When Clement left, me and Natalie went to the Mendoza Zoo which was cheap, but depressing. We really wanted to see a pig, but it was like they had every animal but pigs. On top of that the animals were in really bad conditions. They just went back and forth in their cages, like every single one. They all must get the same dope. But on the bright side they had cool rams, toucans, tigers, and the lion was in this cage where you could get like two feet from him. I have a special place in my heart for rams. Being an aries, they are my zodiac. Stubborn and bullheaded they perfectly define my character.

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I almost got arrested taking this picture. Apparently you arent supposed to discrace national monuments (in this case of general San Martin in pursuit of the ultimate picture). Who knew.

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In deep conversation with a Guanaco

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Two feet

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My favorite

They also had this cage of monkeys where you could feed them, and if you did they'd fight over the cookies. It was really funny. They were the type of monkeys that had red butts that were made of a hard material. It was like they had a red watermelon for an ass - that kind of monkey. Those monkeys just let their D's hang all day long. It was hilarious. What was even more funny was that some of them were even aroused just chilling out waiting for cookies. Also good was while we were waiting for a hippopotamus at the hippo tank, a huge seal jumped out and almost ate our faces off. Natalie was so scared so we told some other girls to get close and that they had to lean over to really see it, and then like clockwork the seal almost ate their heads off. Unsuspecting bystanders... hilarious.

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Yeah big guy, let that D hang

I then took the 12 hour bus to Buenos Aires and hopped on the 6,500 mile flight to Madrid. When I got there I had a layover so I ditched my big bag in the corner of the airport and headed for the center of town. Puerta del sol is the center of Spain, and is also mile 0 on their radial road system (pretty cool). I checked out the outside of the opera house, the downtown, had the chocolate drink famous in Madrid, and went to the presidential palace. The chocolate drink is basically liquid chocolate. Its very thick like syrup and is served with churros. Its cheap and fills you up, but is a bit overwhelming if your not a huge chocolate lover. The presidential palace is awesome. I couldnt really take any photos of the inside, which is the best part but you can take my word for it. Its amazing simply in the fact that the King of Spain (his power is incomprehensible compared to a modern day president of any nation) resided here. The other reason why it is so amazing is because of how intricate, beautiful, and amazingly well decorated the place is. Every inch of the place is a piece of art work. There was a room made entirely of porcelain, one for smoking and smoking only, one for getting dressed, etc. None were bland (ok, well maybe the one that held the pots and pans and cutlery, but im sure Wanda and many others would get a kick out of it).

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Madrid airport is cool

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Tio Pepe was my second favorite thing in Madrid

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Told you I was in Madrid...

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Presidential palace from outside

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Presidential palace from inside

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Plaza del sol

I have to say the one thing that was weird for me is how clean Madrid was. I would literally brush my teeth with the subway handholds if that was possible. I don't like it when a city is so spick and span, it almost makes me uncomfortable but maybe it will just take getting used to. I still cant get the prices from Peru out of my head, and they make Europe look shameful. It really sucks to be on the other end of the exchange rate, and I really give more credit to the people of South America for traveling despite how expensive it is for them.

A couple of hours later I got into Athens. Traveling from Mendoza, Argentina to Athens took about 37 hours and I was whooped when I got here. Its really beautiful, and I really like it. Its got a very romantic feel to it, and is ultra clean. Its also not as expensive as other European spots like Rome for example. I dont have a lot of time here, but I really want to come back and hit all the islands (Corfu, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, etc...). Wanda (my mom) lived in Greece when she was in her 20s, and she is really getting nostalgic about it in her emails.

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The candy bar of choice after 40 hours of travel nonstop

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The Plaka in Athens

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If I could adjust this with picassa I would be golden, but I think this is one of my favorite pics of all time

The one thing that I dont like so much being here is the other travelers. They are a different breed than the travellers in South America from what I have seen so far. The most obvious reason why is that there are a lot of them. I think this city has made a real effort though because things aren't overly touristy. They have a good balance. The other reason why is that there are no budget travelers, or at least I haven't found them so far. The backpackers here eat out, go out drinking, and have really nice clothes and really nice sunglasses. About 60 to 70% of them are Americans. Now, not to offend anyone but Americans are the worst travelers in my opinion. They are gaudy, loud, and not as friendly as others. I know because I am the same way, but I take on a self imposed responsibility to set a good example. A good majority of the people of the world have a negative image of the US, and I try and set that straight.
Of these American travelers I have seen I get the sense that a majority are spoiled by wealthy families. I literally overheard 6 different people talking about how they spent too much so they needed their dad to send more money. Thats fine by me, and maybe I have a chip on my shoulder because I'm self made but Id much rather travel with people who make it on their own and have to be ridiculous and budget to survive.

When I meet people who have traveled to the US, almost all have nothing but good things to say and understand that it isn't the people of America that are bad, that its the government. Its the other 80% who haven't touched American soil that need to understand that we aren't all that bad. You know its fairly common for some backpackers from the states who feel similar to me to put a Canadian flag on their backpack and tell everyone they are Canadian. This gives you less grief with officials (partly because Canada is a part of the commonwealth), but also relieves them of dealing with explaining what the US is doing, why, and when. I don't agree with it, but I can see their point.

Im here in Greece for a few more days, and then I head out to Egypt to meet Ashley. I think she's nervous because its a middle eastern country (in her eyes), but theres nothing to be worried about. Its hot here, around 35-40 C, and Egypt is only going to be worse (awesome)!!! Hopefully when Im there I can put my scuba diving PADI certificate to use because I hear there are some good spots that are cheap.

This is the first time I have used the spellcheck so I hope you like it suckas....

Posted by bejuan99 14:55 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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