Tuesday, January 29, 2008

i don't appreciate this one bit

You can guess which bike is mine.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


For once I've actually gotten my photos uploaded in a reasonable amount of time. Here they are:


I still need to go through them and adjust exposure, stitch together panoramas, etc., but who knows how long it'll take me to do that. At least you get something in the meantime!

Friday, January 25, 2008

damn you, mastercard

After the trip, here's the breakdown of the best way to get local cash.

The winner:
Visa ATM: Fee of 1%. Average cost relative to the real exchange rate: 1.1%. Cheap!

The rest:
Mastercard: Fee of 3%. Average cost relative to the real exchange rate: 3.4%. GFY, Mastercard. Thankfully, the US dollar dropped 5% from when I made the purchase, so effectively still ended up ahead... but not really.

Random exchange counter in the middle of nowhere in Patagonia with high demand and zero competition: Fee of 5%. Average cost relative to the real exchange rate: 5.2%


I was looking through some of my international coins this morning. A few observations:
  • Countries with British roots (like the UK, Australia, NZ, HK) have coin systems that are idiotic. There is no rhyme or reason for the sizing for the different denominations. What were you all thinking!?
  • Queen Elizabeth has aged quite a bit since her initial youthful profile first appeared on coins in the 1950's. Those new Canadian coins - wow. Not even a crown.
  • Costa Rica has by far the stupidest coins in my collection (if you can call it that). They are all the same color. They are all roughly the same size. Similar weight. Thanks, guys.
Just renewed my auto insurance for Progressive. As an ex-employee I probably pay more attention to that packet than most other people. How much did I read? Hardly any of it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Being a pioneer or market leader does not pardon you from the
consequences of incompetence.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

at archie moore's

The *other* Archie Moore's. Different location, slightly different menu.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

heading oot

Right now I'm aboard LAN flight 290 from Punta Arenas to Santiago. Left at 7:50 this morning, allowing fantastic views of the Andes throughout the entire flight so far. Through my window, I caught aerial views of a few of the sites that we have visited the past week, including our hikes at Torres del Paine, Laguna Torres, and the Perito Moreno glacier. Those sights seemed massive on the ground, but the aerial view adds a whole new perspective on the scale of what we've seen and where we've been. That said, I also saw what we couldn't see at Fitz Roy. The towers are spectacular from the air. Perhaps I'll have to drop by again at some point. (-; Overall we've had fantastic weather though, so I can't really complain. Having perfect weather for most of the rest of the trip (especially at Torres del Paine) is plenty good.

Speaking of plenty good, I continue to be impressed by transportation here. This flight is on the newest plane that I've been on in years and they even have several good music stations to listen to, not to mention in-flight magazines that are not only clean, but readable. Busses have also been great, though cramped at times. Busses in Patagonia are still newer and offer better services than those in the US. It was also nice to see that even towns in the middle of nowhere there was still more street activity than in most US cities.

So what's lacking? A diversity of food options. (-: More paved roads in remote areas would also be nice. Then again, the fact that there is very regular and very affordable bus services to virtually anywhere definitely makes up for some of this.

That's it for now. Hopefully we'll be landing shortly and I can find myself another book to read. Just finished Chrichton's Airframe. Maybe I'll get the Audacity of Hope from Lifshitz, but somehow I doubt I'd be able to. We shall see...

Friday, January 18, 2008

final south american excursion

Penguins! Crappy shot, but I forgot to take the pic with the phone
till late.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

people watching in puerto natales

We are sitting here watching people on the street. Particularly, this fellow selling random stuff across the street. He's selling what appears to be some Christmas welcome mats, some knit hats, random stuffed toys, some blue vests, what appear to be tablecloths, random articles of clothing, and garlic. So far the garlic has been the top seller. He's sold about 5 cloves of garlic so far for probably a few hundred pesos (only coins exchanged so far). Oh wait! Just sold two more! Exciting!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

torres del paine

Monday, January 14, 2008

good hike today

Just finished a great hike here in Parque Nacional de los Glaciers. Ugh... guy next to me just took his boots off. Stinks. Anyway, there are a few trails at El Chalten, and we took the one to Laguna Torres. There were some clouds up on the mountain today so we couldn't see the torres (or towers), but it was still a solid view of the glacier. It's actually very similar to the Hooker Trail at Mt. Cook National Park, but with a bigger glacier and less paved roads. I also ate some of the ice floating on the lake. Why? Because I felt like it. Tasty! We'll see how I'm doing in a few hours. It's been three hours and I still feel fine.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

up early again

Yesterday - up at 6:15 to catch to 8:30 bus

Today - up at 5:15 to catch a 7:30 bus (that I'm on right now...
trying to stay awake)

Tomorrow - 5:45 bus to Torres del Paine

Day after - TBD

on yet another bus

Yep. That's right. I'm on yet another bus - this time on the way back to El Calafate from Argentina's Glacier National Park. Today's attraction was the Perito Moreno Glacier - one of the few glaciers in the world that is still going strong. Today it came within a few hundred meters if the viewpoint, blocking Lago Argentino. With today's sun, we also saw quite a bit of activity with huge chunks of the glacier crashing into the water below several times. Good stuff!

Tomorrow we'll be taking another bus to Chalten where we'll do some hiking around Mt. Fitz Roy. After that, Torres del Paine!

And for the record, it gets dark around midnight here. I'm guessing it'll get dark around 12:45 in Punta Arenas.

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

Saturday, January 12, 2008

unofficial international experience in buenos aires

Thursday, January 10, 2008

another moderately priced dinner in buenos aires

Palazio Espanol on Avenida 9 de Julio by Avenida de Mayo

waiting in the central post office in buenos aires to send postcards

We started off 50th on line. Now we are 38th.

sitting in a mall writing postcards

Monday, January 07, 2008

to buenos aires, continued

I'm on a bus watching a French movie with Spanish subtitles. Awesome.

the busride back to mendoza

heading to buenos aires

Right now I'm on another Isilin bus heading back to Mendoza where we'll be catching another bus to take us to Buenos Aires overnight.

It was a good stay in San Rafael. Got to chill put a bit after the first week in Santiago and Mendoza. We chilled at the pool a bit, explored the property a bit, and hung out with the dog. And did I mention the food was fantastic?

In addition to just chillin, we also went to check out a winery that made champagne, went rafting and also horseback riding.

So here I am on the road back to Mendoza. On the left in the distance are the snow capped peaks of the Andes. To the right is a whole lot of nothing. Much like most of Nevada, actually. There really isn't much here outside of the mountains and the areas that are irrigated. Without irrigation not much grows here.

Word on the street is that the area around Buenos Aires is grassland. I also hear that it will be hot as hell. It's supposed to be 100F there for the next few days - and probably humid. Wish us luck!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

the bus to san rafael

heading to san rafael

It's 6:05 in the morning and I am aboard a brand spanking new bus
heading to San Rafael. Bus is run by iselin and it's a double decker
with huge seats and flat screen TVs. And it looks like we're getting
coffee. Yay.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

the drive across the andes

It's ten in the morning and I'm on a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. We're still not in the mountains yet, so not much to see. It's been an interesting morning so far. Got up early, went to the bus station, had an interesting time anxiously waiting for the bus that eventually showed up after a good wait. We were asked to arrive at eight for our bus, which was to leave at 8:30. That was around when the bus actually showed up, although I have to say we did leave within fifteen minutes or so, so not too bad. Some better signage would had been nice, but I suppose the busses are nicer than those back home (especially after the driver fixed the a/c), so I can't really complain.

Yesterday we did a nice long walk to a fancy mall. Allegedly the "best mall in South America." It was like a regular mall in the US, complete with a Starbucks, TGIF, etc. Perhaps anticlimactic, but it was a nice day for a walk.

Overall I've found Santiago pretty nice. Great parks, fantastic public transportation, and pretty lively overall - so long as it's not a Sunday or holiday. Everything closes then, which was a bit annoying since we were here around New Year's. Still, I enjoyed it. A bit more food diversity would have been nice, but Santiago isn't the most diverse place in the world, so that's understandable. They do like their food salty though! Even for my tastes.

Well, we're getting into the mountains so I'll stop writing and pay more attention.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

patrick likes taking photos of his food

last dinner in santiago )-:

hanging out at the "best mall in south america"

Tuesday, January 01, 2008