Thursday, January 7, 2010

Almost a year

Hola whoever still reads this. It's been a while since I've been on the blog thing, partly because I've been staying in an area with no internet access (and no electricity or running water) and partly because I have been having "issues" lately with a few things that are making my life complicated. We have crossed into a new year since I last wrote anything and I can't seem to believe that it's the year 2010 and that I am still on the road. I am just shy of 1 year, I left on Jan 14th 2009. As the new year crossed I did reflect on the past year just a bit. I actually haven't sat back and thought about what I've done on this trip because I'm usually staying very present and just doing whatever it is I'm doing at any given moment. But thinking about it all, it seemed a bit surreal. I went through 11 countries in 2009 and did it in my truck. Such an amazing cultural experience and language experience. I surfed some amazing waves in amazing places all through central into South America. I also tried a bunch of new activities in some cool spots - sandboarding in Peru, Rock Climbing in the Andes, river kayaking in Colombia, Scuba diving the Caribbean & more. It seems like I'm always learning whether it be language, culture, sport, being creative or just something within myself. The reflection of the year is somewhat overwhelming to grasp. I know that most of this trip I have been living very in the present moment without worrying to much about what's going to happen down the road. Who knows how it will all play out but the journey has been unpredictable and amazing. Since the last blog a bunch of things have happened. While on the Caribbean side, travel mate Andrea & I decided to go to Tayrona national park for a night. We went through the travels of collectivo's & bus to get there & then hiked in. In the late afternoon we arrived to a spot where we can rent some hammocks and set up for the night. It was hot, really hot so we jumped in for a swim and then I got a chill. The sun was setting and I kept getting colder even though it was hot. As night fell in, I was shivering with a fever and I didn't bring much with me because I envisioned sleeping on a hammock in shorts as it was super hot. But I froze all night. Next day we hike out and it's a miserable hike as I still had a fever, around 103. Bus & collectivo back to civilization and get in a hotel room in Taganga. The next few days I went from freezing to sweating with a headache & nausea. Andrea patiently played nurse and worried for me until it was too much time & I had to get out and go to a clinic. Small private clinic in Santa Marta, get tests done and the verdict is I have a failing kidney/infection. The clinic gives me prescriptions which includes a pack of 5 needles & antibiotics to inject in myself. My thoughts when I got back home were "aren't you supposed to have some training to inject yourself.." Turned out, I didn't have it in me to do it so I returned to the clinic everyday for a week and paid them the equivalent of 50 cents to do it each time. Along with being sick, I had a shortage of money so along with playing my nurse, Andrea was flowing me cash to help me limp along. So fortunate for me to have her, not so fortunate for her to get stuck with me. I get back on the road to recovery, we head towards Cartegena and I'm still slow moving. We are now trying to cram in some travel as we spent so much time still while I was sick and now it's close to Christmas when Andrea heads home to Austria & I head who knows where. So after 1 day in Cartegena it's off to the zona cafeteria & get back onto my first activity in a while, treking an area with palm tree's and pine tree's. Still tired but survive. Another crazy mountain bus ride & we're in a cute little town with cobblestone streets called Villa de leyva. Nicely festive with Christmas decorations and we head to another national park to hike up to this lagoon. Quite the climb, still tired but survive the day without any real problems. After this we're off to Bogota where Andrea catches her flight back to Austria & I pick up a flight to Ecuador. Arrive in Ecaudor and hop an muggy miserable overnight bus ride to Mancora in Northern peru. Then another bus to Talara & then a collectivo to Lobitos where I am anxiously awaiting the first site of 'mi casita' aka my truck in almost 2 months. I left it when my mom came and have been doing the normal backpacker thing. Definitely after that trip 'home' I was happy not to be a backpacker anymore. So I thought. Of course my battery is dead so I'm not going anywhere but I don't need to either. This is now Christmas eve, I made it back to my home in time to spend Christmas with basically my only friend down here. A friend who works in Lobitos and who I met almost a year ago in Nicaragua. Her, a few volunteers at WAVES, some others & I are all invited to a Peruvian Christmas which they celebrate on Christmas eve. I think we were 9 gringos, all piled into the hardly available transportation - tuk tuk's and some ladies car - & we show up in a local neighborhood in Negritos and are welcome into a home. It was a good cultural experience I spent the night talking with the man of the house and he schooled me on history of the area, Peruvian Christmas customs, gentleman ways of standing with the ladies in the street and just overall good spanish practice. They served us dinner at 1am that night, we were all exhausted and the kids in the neighborhood were all running around the streets. Christmas day our same group of gringos all pitched in to make a huge Christmas feast after I surfed in the morning. Christmas turned out really nice in the end, different but nice. Then there was New Years, I got to put my truck back in use for what it's good for. I went exploring the barren lands outside of Lobitos in hopes of finding an empty beach I can drive on, we could camp on and have our own wave to surf. With some help, I found a decent spot and the volunteers, Naomi & I went to ring in the near year by campfire. Nice piling everyone in the truck, driving on the dirt roads & getting some slight adventure. To me driving my truck around on crazy roads is something I'm slightly numb to now so it was nice to have all these people who had never been in a big american truck or driven on the beach and such get all excited about the bumps & jumps and all. Mellow New years eve and fun day of surf alone on New Years day worked out well. Back to Lobitos & I'm realizing that though I'm disconnected to the internet I really need to sort some things out. The good thing about having friends help you, like Andrea, is that it enabled me to really sort out some of the logistical issues I have to not having a drivers license or bank card. Money is becoming and issue & my car's temporary permission to be in Peru is expiring on the 14th of January. I can't particularly drive without a drivers license. I get hassled enough when all of my documents are in order so one can only assumed how it might be if I'm missing one. These issue's are then combined with more lower back pains that are starting to be fairly unbearable or unbearable to hang around other people. Another day of really bad pain then blood in my urine & I realize I have to really do something about this problem. I'm basically far from a real city and don't want to do another mom & pop clinic. I pick up a bus ticket & overnight it to Lima 18 hours away. I arrived a half hour before the appt with the Urologist I called before getting on the bus. I was sent to start a series of tests which lead me to not being able to eat the last 24 hours along with doing a cleansing to prepare for today's tests. And so now the tests are done but my results aren't going to be ready until Monday where I will reconvene with the Urologist. Doesn't sound too bad except for the fact that I have other issue's. My car has to be out of the country on Wednesday & I'm only having a follow up to see what's wrong with me on Monday. And I'm 18 hours away from my truck. I also don't have a drivers license. So I spent the day, after my tests, going to the US embassy & to the peruvian transporte to see if I could somehow get a drivers license. I only managed to get additional pages in passport which I also needed. So I am kind of in a bind and supposedly can only get a new drivers license in person in California. Not enough time to fly home & I need to get my health back on track before I do anything. So time will tell, my next stop is to see & police to see if they can help me with a permission to drive with just a copy of my license. That will help me in Peru, who knows what will happen at the border of Ecuador. I'm sure these things should be sorted one way or another by the time I blog again. As always I have crammed too much into one blog but there you have it. Happy new year everyone!