Writing Robust

Early in the last year, I made a a silent yet stolid agreement with myself. I would write as much as possible.

I have always known that I wanted to write. The papers presented to the mr and ms. in partial fullfillment of the course to the stupid little sketches in 8th grade to brit lit. and all the shebers howard. To the jj johnson even though he was a dick. To the shhissel and Mr. Syr.

It was the Timne’s class that was the best. We read Frankenstein and the Romantic poets. She wrote that book when she was 18 with bysshe her bo and the byron lord.

I had so much respect for that monumental accomplishment.

Anyways, I could never commit to writing more than 10k on any given story.

Last year in february I took Christi Kruugs Wildfire Writing class at Clark college. It worked.

Since February last year, I have written 100k+ in freewrites and 65k on my first novel.

That is what i call robust 🙂


Photographic Memory Mondays #4

As I go through my abundance of Photos throughout the years, there is a pattern that develops. There are a tuuuuuuun (elongated pronunciation of ton) of photos, which is a favorite word of mine lately. So instead of focusing on a photopourri (photographic potpourri) like usual, instead there will be focus on a single location.

Today I would like to focus on Isla del Sol. It is an island on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. It is the largest island on Lake Titicaca home to around 800 families. The island is rocky and has no paved roads, it is home to an abundance of Eucalyptus trees, the leaves are very fragrant. I believe the top of the island is above tree line in altitude, because there were no trees on the highest part of the island. The elevation of the lake is 3,800 meters, while the top of the island is 4,100 meters. Tree line is not an exact figure and varies greatly depending on the terrain, but 4,100 meters seems plenty of elevation for this. Life on the island is quiet and peaceful. Especially when you go to the far side of the island. Tour boats go out to the island all the time, so there is a constant trickle of tourists, but you can still find a great deal of tranquility there. The views of the Mountains are incredible, it is like being on the Mediterranean and in the middle of the Andes. Though it is much colder than the Mediterranean.

The island was first recommended to me by an Argentine travel pal named Javier from B.A. I met him on a Cusco city tour and he could not stop gushing about his visit to the Island. I had already been to the Peruvian side of the Lake and was not sure I could justify going there again, but I kept that in the back of my mind until the opportunity arose later in the trip.

It was after my trip to Machu Picchu when I heard from another friend about the adventure she had on the Death Road in Bolivia. The Death Road is a Mountain Biking expedition down a notoriously murderous road through the mountains and into La Paz. It had been closed off long before and turned into a tourist attraction for daring gringos like us. Anyways, her enthusiasm convinced a few of the other friends in Cusco and we decided to go.

It was a hard decision for me as an American, because they charge US citizens 150 dollars to get in. This is totally justifiable to me, because the US is notorious for dicking people around when they try to visit or move to the country. Still, I was not sure if I could afford 150 dollars, that is about a months worth of money in Cusco, the way that I was living. However, the tales of the Island of the sun and the rumored festival on the island that I could attend clinched the deal. I also ended up saving a weeks worth of lodging by bar tending at the hostel and the rooms on Isla del Sol saved me some money as well. The point is it all worked out and looking back, it was one of the most incredible and unique travel experiences I have ever experienced.


Isla Del Sol Special

When we arrived on the island, we eventually found out that the festival wasn’t really going to happen, so I just ended up staying on the island for 7 days. Hanging out with the other “volunteers” walking the trails on the top of the island to the market for food. Walking to the Ruins and the wifi on the other side of the island, which was a day long errand. It was pretty mind-blowing to live such a calm life.

We also spent many of the days with participating in Incan rituals with some of three Elders. The Island is the setting of an origin myth for the civilization. It is said that Manco Capac the first Inca emerged from the Titikala (sacred rock) on the north side of the island. He is the son of Inti, aka the sun, and so this specific rock is sacred in a very sacred island. In another telling, the people on the island were without sun for many days and became frightened, then the sun emerged from the sacred rock and gave them light again. In still another version, it is said that the sun hid under the rock when during a great flood and when the waters receded, the sun emerged form this location. A temple was built at this location and ruins of the expansion by the tenth Inca Tupac Inca Yupanqui, can still be seen today. (source: wikipedia “isla del sol”)

Subsistence framing and agriculture are practiced on the island, but as with many historical incan sites, most of the income is from tourism.

And now for the photos.


This is the view from the High Trail on the island. It connects the various villages and intersects with the other trails leading people to the ruin sites and the locations for lodging and camping.



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The welcome sign and someones coat covered arm. You do need your coat quite a bit since the lake is 3800 meters, Mediterranean views with High Alpine weather.


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The Sheep were everywhere and their calls sounded very much like humans at times.


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Views of the Mountains surrounding the lake. The grander mountains are on the Bolivian side. Bolivia is such an amazing place to visit. All the countries in South America that I have visited have varied terrain, but Bolivia was the most spectacular juxtaposition.


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The lambs were heart melting every time I saw or heard one of them.


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And the piglets were about as cute as piglet on winnie the pooh. Except the were real.

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The view of the village from the trail to the other side of the island and the internet.


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View of pretty yellow flowers and the internet. Both of which were very scarce on the island. The rockier climate is not as easy for most flowers to grow into. And I found I didn’t need the internet all that much after all.

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A view from the trail partway to the other side. About 45 minutes walking to this point.


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A view of the blue, with a little bit of the island mixed in. The colors get very vivid when you get above 3500 meters and at the point we are way above that point. I am more of a mountain type of a person, but this island started to convince me that island life might be a way to go.

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Sharing food among friends is one of the best experiences while traveling. It is something that is often lost in my day to day life at home. Where I eat many meals alone in between jobs and school breaks or whatever it is I am doing. Traveling gives you a chance to enjoy those times in a comprehensive way. This was especially true on the island since most activities consisted of walking to get food, returning with food and then preparing and eating food. With some swimming and Incan rituals mixed in.


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People, the greatest boon of a traveler. It is the people you meet that are the most important. Life is expressed more fully while on these adventures and so are human relationships. You get to know people better in a few days or weeks than some people you know for years at home. It allows you to open your heart, find common ground and exalt in the similarities and differences between you.


“Through the years a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly after his death he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.” Jorge Luis Borges.


keep it curly,
















Photographic Memory Mondays #3

I initially intended this to be every monday. As you may have read in my original post about this e-event I initiated.

The idea was inspired by a friend, the american adventuress, blog can be viewed here http://thisamericanadventuress.wordpress.com/

She instituted Moto Man Mondays as part of her content while she is on her Peace Corps Contract in Cameroon. Posting consistently is a challenge for me. Once I get started the content is easy to generate, but it helps to have a unifying idea so that I am not just posting random stuff. I also looked at some of my statistics on my dashboard, I only use free wordpress stuff cuz I is broke, and most of the posts that get views are stuff from Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Very little people care that I did a bunch of yoga or whatever life challenge I am putting myself through. Though there were quite a few views from the Vegan stuff.

Thus, Photographic memory mondays gives me a little bit of structure, which despite my mild ODD/stubbornness, does allow me to operate at a higher level and aids my writing. I despise structure that is forced upon me, but also thrive under it if I can stomach it without rebelling. A wildfire creates tons of energy, but also causes tons of damage and devours its own life force. While a torch can light your way, a candle can evoke peace and reflection and a furnace can produce heat and energy needed for creation. And that is why I have added this little bit of structure a bit of direction for this curly soul.

Energetically I am classified as fire, though I despise classification, which is why I present this in this way.

Even with this structure imposed, I still completely forgot to post last week. The mad rush during finals is exhausting some of my already limited organizational faculties.

And now without further ado, Photographic Memory Mondays #3 8-25-14.

This weeks theme is….Mountains.

Wherever I go, It seems that I seek these particular features out.

Mountain Goats midway up the trail to Quandary Peak. Definitely try to climb 14ers on a weekday if you can. The popularity of some of these trails leads to a very overcrowded and often not very peaceful experience. Qunadary Peak was a little like the Inca Trail, you had to time your climb if you wanted to get any sense of nature or isolation. Plus it makes the necessary pee stops pretty impossible.
View from the top of Quandary Peak.
Quandary Peak
The view from Quandary’s real summit of the false summit. It looks much easier from this perspective.
Silhouetting the ridge line. I like to pretend that I am a photographer and put some effort into taking interesting photos. However, my lack of dedication for learning the art means I get a lot of goofy photos and never really what I intend to capture. Oh well.
They are not as close as they look, but the people were getting a little to close to the goats at times. I would imagine that a pissed off mountain goat wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun to deal with. Also I bet the goats like the weekdays better too.
There weren’t many flowers up Quandary, but there were a few. It is hard for much of anything to grow up there. Also very hard on the head, causing tons of aches. Like I said before, Quandary is an easy 14er, but it is till 14,000 feet up there. Very little oxygen up there for us bipeds.
The beginning of the hike. Picturesque the entire way. At the beginning I remember saying, wow with scenery like this it is a wonder why people don’t climb 14ers all the time. The energy drain and slight headache for the rest of the day reminded me why people do walk other trails.
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Islands are Underwater mountains. This is one of the small Islands in Lake Titicaca.
My best impersonation of the Redeemer statue. Though I don’t think JC ever puts his head up when posing for those statues. It looks something more of an ascension piece. Note, the poncho was not big enough to fit over my backpack, this is a necessary attribute when outfitting for a backcountry experience. Luckily, I had a backpack cover and really good showers pass jacket to wear. It was especially fun doing little side jaunts without the back pack. Thanks for the Pic enrico!
The mountain paradise of Machu Picchu. Seeing this for the first time after 3 days on the trail was magical. The sun crept over the sun gate behind us an revealed the city like it was a movie. The Euphoria of the 3 am rise and exhaustion and mounting fatigue made the view glow even more poignantly. Even with the overcrowded trails this trail is still in a phenomenal adventure and the guides feed you well too. Just make sure you tip your porters and guides well. They earn a fraction of the enormous price you probably paid and they do the trail many times a month. Also make sure you have some fresh coca leaves and trekking poles, the stairs are killer especially the downhill. Protect yo knees!!
The sunrise over the mountains behind us on the last day on the Inca trail.
The epic greenery from the camp on day 2.
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The Bolivian Mountains surrounding Lake Titicaca as seen from Isla del Sol. Much thanks to Javier the argentine who sang the praises of Isla del Sol inspired me to make this particular island part of the experience. I ended up going to the Lake twice. Once from the Peruvian side at the beginning of the trip and then again at the end of the trip. Stayed on the island for 7 days and met some amazing people doing incredible things.
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This is most of the people I hung out with down there for a week. I couldn’t find a picture with everyone. I am sure that someone has that. Oh well. It was a simple life down there. To be honest I was pretty bored by the end, my headspace is not always as peaceful as it could be and I need stimulation. Still, It was a good time.
My bow pulling is better than this now!
Yoga on the mountain. *I know yoga isn’t all about Asana, but posing helps soothe my needy ego. That brings up the question, am I soothing it or feeding it? Jury is still out on that one.
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The village halfway to the other side of Isla del Sol. Each day we walked around or across the island. Most of the people in the group loved the cheap avocados and bananas. I have the unfortunate luck of being allergic to both of the most abundant and nutritious foods in South America. I still survived and thrived though.
The Ultimate goal. http://bikramyogasaltlakecity.blogspot.com/2012/11/tip-of-week-toe-stand.html
This is just an old post that I found on google. I used it when I was doing the yoga challenge oh so long ago. Still can’t do toe stand though, gotta open those hips!
The top of the Death Road bike ride in Bolivia. We went from 4k+ meters to 1200 meters in about three hours and our guide said we were faster than most groups. He was probably just trying to make us feel better. That ride was really fun. Paved road on the top part and then the trail on the bottom. It is really easy cycling so if you are a real mountain biker you may be bored, still fun to bomb it though. And the companies doe more challenging rides for people with requisite skills. Bolivia is a wonderland for mountain adventure.
Photo break on the top half. Yes I am the one doing bow pulling pose. It was always the only thing I could think of for picture time. *Note- Picture time is common during adventure time abroad. P.S. Adventure Time the tv show is awesome. It may have supplanted Futurama in my life at this point. And the good news it doesn’t get shitty after season 8.
View of the Death Road. ’nuff said
Top half pave bomb. I wish I knew how fast we were going, that would be a cool stat to find out.
The Scenery turned from desolate mountain to jungle so fast. I cannot emphasize enough how freaking beautiful Bolivia is. I also hope it doesn’t turn into Costa Rica and that it benefits from the increased tourism and does not get destroyed by it. The gap between rich and poor is especially stark in many countries in South America. And it only gets worse when you add in some of the exploitation and pollution mismanaged tourism can bring
The joys of photo ops. That trail was definitely one of the best things I did in South America.


View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostal
View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostel. I spent one week bar tending here in exchange for my stay in the hostel. I needed the exchange to, cuz I was running out of money and still had to figure out how to get to isla del sol then back to Cusco and Lima after that to catch my flight home. I made it back to Denver with about 15 bucks in my account. Next time I plan to budget better and figure out how to earn money while abroad. The price of travel is way to much when you have nothing coming in. However, if I can figure out a way to offset the cost, I can look forward to views like this for as long as I want. Free life!

Photographic Memory Mondays #2 8-11-14 (Used to be called Remembory Mondays, but I think this is better)

I know it is tuesday again. What can I say? My spirit animals are an owl and a spider. Both dark-liking things. And I know, I was disappointed a bit when I found out. I thought I saw a Mountain Gorilla in a yoga nidra recently and I have always considered myself monkey like. More an animals later, if I get to it. (disclaimer- the owl and spider are very powerful spirits etc. I read about them in depth and can definitely see why).

And now back to the photographic memories.





Nice and Refreshing jump into the very cold waters of Lake Titicaca after the long walk from one side of Tequile Island to the other. A few hours later I got a bit of an irritation on my lower right leg. Not the cleanest of waters on the inside of the rock dock.
The moon over the Island of Amantani. After the hike to see the inevitably elusive sunset. The Sun went behind the clouds about ten minutes before it set and stayed there, still beautiful though. If you have ever been upwards of ten-thousand feet, you may have experienced the rapid shift in temperature that greets the passage of day to night. Beginning to freeze we ran down the mountain stopped at a local shop where we were surprised with Hot Cocoa and then emerged under the bright moonlight. It was so bright that we could see better without the flashlights. And the moon shining on the water was sublime. Senses get sharper as elevation increases and this was no exception.
Road Tripping with my brother turned out to be a grand adventure. When I decided to move, I knew I did not want to make the 1,700 mile drive alone. So my brother flew standby and shared the ride with me. We got to see sunrise and a great morning at Crater Lake. Then we spent time navigating half flooded roads during the flooding in Boulder last September. It was an experience.
Monkeying around on the rocks.
Vegan meals. The Four month Vegan Adventure last year, allowed me to explore a multitude of new flavors and revisit old favorites. The Portabello was a constant companion and brussel sprouts, squash, and kale were constant companions.
Lentil Vegetable soup in a bowl of Acorn Sqaush. Spaghetti squash works better for this. The Acorn Squash is rather tough. Still delicious though.
White and Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups.
The Original Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cup. These are Vegan, and phenonmenal. If you haven’t tried it I suggest you do. Comment below for the recipe, they are as easy as layered brownies or other treats, just a few extra steps. Comment Below if you would like the recipe.
Black Bean and Lime Soup with a Portabello piled high with Veggies on lightly toasted Dave’s Killer Bread. And Nice scene of the patio and yard of my old place. The Vibrant Green still stands in stark contrast to the dryness of my new locale. Even with the rain we have been having this summer, it takes a lot to turn a dessert into a rainforest.
Beet Juice. One of my most surprising discoveries of the Vegan Adventure was how much I loved Beets. Roasted, Steamed, Blacnhed and drenched in Balsamic. Beets chopped and raw with Apple Cider vinegar and Kale. And of course Beet Juice. so sweet and tasty with a little apple kale and celery. A phenomenal drink and a ridiculous cleanse. This reminds me that I need to secure a juicer.
Mustached up and ready for Bolivia and the death road
Mustached up and ready for Bolivia and the death road. A Travel mate and I ready for Movember in Bolivia. It only lasted a week though. Honestly they look friggin ridiculous. We did get straight razor shaves in Cusco, which was really cool. It is an art down there.
Draining the last of the beer foam destroyer pitcher at the end of shift. The tap at the bar of the Adventure Brew hostal dispensed the best beer I had in South America. There was one other, “Xingu” a black bean beer I had in the NW of Argentina and brewed in Brazil. It is based off of tribal beers brewed in the Amazon and is phenomenal. Back to the bar tending. The Adventure Brew Hostal in La Paz Bolivia brews its own beer. This was a rarity for me in SA, I was used to drinking Cuzquena most of the time and it was nice to have a nice microbrew quality beer to enjoy. The tap was kind of wonky though. It overfoamed a lot. So We often had to pour out the beer into pitchers and spoon the foam off. This would be absolutely unacceptable at any bar I have ever worked or drunk at, but it was okay there. La Paz man, all the expats and Hostal residers were just happy to have a decent beer. They give you a free one for every night you stay. They say pint but its a 12 oz. glass with handle. And you can trade your stay for work in the bar. This was a godsend for me. My bank account was running super low. More on that in another session. The bar work was fun, the day shift was easy, allowing me to watch proper futbol, and hang out with new travel buds while working and it had a great view which is still my screensaver. It was one of those unplanned adventures that happen so often while traveling.
Hibiscus/Ginger Tea. Both beer and the Tea was better in Bolivia. The food though was better in Cusco. This was a great way to recharge after a hard night partying after a bar shift. This was during my earlier stages of tea enjoyment. I remember thinking for a few months after word that Hibiscus Ginger was a type of Ginger. It isn’t, but it may as well be, a phenomenal combo of plant healing power.
goofy birds
These Birds are heavier than you think and the noises they make are ridiculous. The Jungle Refuge in Bolivia was our last stop on our day of riding the Death Road. The Birds were hilarious. I had a video of their ridiculous sounds. I will have to post that on a later date. The mustache is difficult to see and short lived. My Sweet Movember only lasted about a week.
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Water Bottle falling from the sky. That is what it often feels like when traveling. since the water isn’t potable you end up using a lifetimes worth of plastic bottles. A huge waste and incredibly detrimental to the environment. Filter if you can, plastic sucks!! The scene is the bottom of the Death road, from Tundra to Jungle in less than 3 hours on two wheels. Highly Recommended, but do shop around outside the hostal to save a few hundred bolivianos and inspect the bikes!
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That thumbs up from inca trail pal Enrico quickly turned into throbbing knees and two thumbs waaaayyy down as we descneded the stairs. Fourth day on the trail? Take the bus to Aguas Calientes. You will get to relax and hang out with your group much more. If you rode the train from Ollantaytambo, the stairs might be okay, going up to get you in the mood or going down to get out of the crowds. Also go to Machu Picchu on a weekday and not on a Peruvian Holiday. And if it rains stick around for it to pass, the people clear out and the magic infuses your spirit with the solidarity of the ancient Incas. Depending on how metaphorical you like to get. Either way fewer people is always better when in nature.
Walking down to Aguas Calientes, it is better to take the bus.
Walking down to Aguas Calientes, it is better to take the bus. I don’t know what we were thinking. Maybe we just wanted it to last longer, either way, take the bus if you did the trek, the walk down to Aguas is surprisingly long. Note on packing. Bring decent layers but pack light, it is a long trail. Waterproof footwear and make sure your poncho covers your pack, before it rains, I know I said it before, but it is worthy info. If you have trekking poles bring them, the descents can be agony. The pink topped stick saved me, thanks again nadia!
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Third day, tenth Llama or Alapaca. I am not sure from the photo. I think its a llama because it is bigger. You can get pretty close, but they spit, and watch out for there droppings which are plentiful.

A Note on the Format. I am working on it. I am more of a writer than a design man and more of a talker than a writer, thus ramblestiltskin.

There are so many memories that I have not shared from my travels. Each of them feels like a lifetime and seems it would take a lifetime to catalog. This is my way of focusing the ADD brain into something constructive. A picture is worth a thousand words, but each of those thousand is different based on whose perspective is shared. Hence, The Photo and snippet style. It also breaks up the 1600+ words into bitable chunks. My copy is often overwhelming in volume. Mainly, this is because I do not edit. If I edited these, I would never post them. I will save that for any future guest posts or books, crosses fingers.

And if you have made it this far, I applaud your tenacity. As a voice/audience finding exercise comment below telling me your favorite memory. The memory with the most votes will get a full 1600+ post delving deeper. Maybe I will be on a limb, out to sea, up a creek etc. but I will post on any of them with the most votes no matter how silly or mundane. I will consider it a writing test of agility.

Remembory Mondays 8-4-14

Remembory Monday Manifesto

This is my first post of what will be known as “Remembory Mondays.” I was going through my old photos during a bout of nostalgia and a bit of a delayed Reverse Culture Shock Relapse, when I had a simple thought. A good way to process the experience resurgent travel urge would be to share some of the memories of my experiences.

As I started to compose a photoblog post on my adventure on the Inca Trail, I was distracted with memories from my two separate trips to Lake Titicaca and the islands I visited on both the Peruvian and Bolivian side. Then I was further distracted by some of the photos of daily life in Cusco and then after that Argentina and then a road trip I went on last year etc…

The point being that there are a ton of memories that emerge out of the ether of past experience. They are particularly plentiful with each bout of Adventuritis, an inflammation of the adventure gland located just inferior to the pineal gland, j/k.

With each emerging vista on the memorial plane, it is easier and easier to become lost in it all and do nothing. Instead of doing nothing, either by continuously going through my old photos or being unable to decide what to post, a simple writer decides as so often he does, by not deciding at all.

Remembory Monday, a weekly platform, perhaps evolving, always dynamic, like any good trip, never static. Like any good traveller always a fanatic, rarely pragmatic. Please also ignore the fact that it might be Tuesday wherever you are in the world. Monday, like the pirate code, is more of a guideline meaning sometime after noon on monday and before 6 am on Tuesday, give or take a few hours. Since peak creativity of this writer of yours is usually past sunset and well into moonshine and star-time, you can count on it being a late night post.

Five to Ten to Twenty or Thirty photos with a small Remembory’ed note just below (inferior to) the Photo.

And so it begins…

The View from the high trail on Isla Del Sol. We kept trying to get a picture that showed off the mountains in the background. It was really hard to do that view justice with a person in the frame. Real experience note, the water wasn’t clean, the ceramic filter and bucket didn’t work as well for me as it did for others. Had the travelers sickness all week aka diarrhea. The key is, that is now what I remember!

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The actual view of the mountains without people is way better, I spent 7 days in December of 2012 on Isla Del Sol on the Bolivian side of the Lake. It was incredible and all of the views from mountain to meadow to water to wood and temple to tableau were epic. I had the chance to experience Incan Rituals and exist in serenity in one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Thank you Javier for telling me I had to go there.

My friend Enrico’s boot could not withstand the rigors of the Inca Trail. The worst part is it came apart after lunch on the third day at Phuyupatamarca “City Above the Clouds.” The Good news, we only had half a day and the morning left. The bad news, 2,000 plus stair descent to the last camp near Winaywana. The boots made it through though and we all got to the sun gate the next morning where we were both winded and in awe at the picturesque tableau unfolding under the first rays of the sun. That Picture will be for another monday.

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Day one of the Inca Trail, something like hour 4. It rained almost the entire first day. It got to the point where we could not even stop to see the first set of ruins, because it was so bad. The Poncho I had did not fit well at all. Hint- Make sure your poncho fits over your backpack. I was okay though, with waterproof shoes, a waterproof back cover and my showers pass jacket I used for pedi-cabbing in the rain it was all right. It cleared up for the most part for the next few days. I admit it would have put a damper on my enjoyment of the trail.


Yoga on the Inca Trail. Showing one of the Germans in our group Eagle Pose. Thanks to Enrico for catching this little gem. Yoga on the trail helped easy the rigors of the hills and valleys. Also pack light, I packed way too much on this trip. I had gotten heavily into Yoga earlier that summer, after I had a muscle spasm that saw me unable to do any physical activity for three weeks, I received a Chiropractic adjustment and then was shown some stretches. All of the stretches were yoga poses, so I found a groupon and jumped in headfirst. After practicing three-four times a week for 3 months. I went back to the Chiropractor for a follow up and they said I was stronger than I was before the injury. It was a game changer. I continue to practice 2-5 days/week. I have now tried many styles, Bikram was how I started but I have moved onto more meditative types since then.



The Flamingo lake ruins about an hour outside of Puno, after my first trip to the Lake. That isn’t the real name, but that is how the trip organizer sold it to us. Yeah lake full of flamingos and ruins on the hill. When we got there, it turned out that the Flamingos are only there in the morning, but it was still interesting to see the ruins. We did see a little cuy though. Guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru.  After we got back the car wasn’t there, so this was my first experience of Panic in Peru. But we figured out by calling the organizer, it just ended up being another one of those experiences in the difference in time. Most arrangements in Peru run a few hours later than they schedule.

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While in Bolivia I had the experience of realizing I was almost out of money. This unfortunate scenario led to the discovery of bartending in exchange for my stay at the Adventure Brew Hostal, just a few blocks from the bus station in La Paz. The work was pretty simple, the beer was the best I had in South America , though the tap was overly foamy, it was a welcome change from the Cusquena and Pilsen I usually had in Cusco. Hands down best part, other than the people of course, was the Drunk food Sandwiches. While Pouring the two kinds of overly foamy beers, I got to know the other bartenders and a few of the patrons. Three of them could not stop talking about these amazing sandwiches, I think they were called Inguitos or Honguitos. Check out the picture of the sandwich next to me. My face looks like I am regretting biting into it, but that is just my habitual wide mouth teeth bite that avoids getting the mess all over my face, chin, beard, mustache or whatever. Sooooooo goood!

Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz
Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz

The moon over Amantani on Lake Titicaca. This is where my group stayed on the boat trip on the lake. You cannot imagine how peaceful it was. It was even quieter than isla del sol. This kind of peace is so rejuvenating, I found myself refreshed on only about 6 hours of sleep. And that was after the all night bus ride from Cusco to Puno and then all day on the boat. And the moon was so bright it lit the path when we walked back from the high point on the island. Cold, Quiet, and beautiful.


I meant to use this method to keep the post short, but alas as soon as I start typing the levee breaks.

Comment below to hear more about your favorite memory, I will choose one photo to expand upon for a post of it’s own in the coming weeks. And If you liked any of these memories, check my Peru, Bolivia and Argentina categories for more posts of this nature.

As always Curl on,


The Cutting Edge – The long path to an authentic straight razor shave

It is the common practice for many avid travel bloggers to focus on and highlight the amazing, unique and adventurous experiences they seek out while abroad. This is understandable, they make for great stories. The unique and fantastic adventures like diving with whale sharks, watching the sunrise from one of the peaks in the Cordillera Blanca, or hiking to Mach Picchu on the Camino Inca.

These are certainly moving and awe-inspiring tales. They deserve to be told. These are the moments that inspire others to get a pack, stuff it way too full, buy a ticket and take the plunge. However, these hallowed and magical moments are rare. Wait, check that, not really rare, for any traveller will experience many of them. However, when you look at the daily life of a traveller, they are few and far between. There are so many other notable moments. While Machu Picchu may be the reason you go to Peru, the laid back lifestyle and the ridiculously fresh fruit may be the reason you stay.

It is the little things that both cause the most discomfort (carrying around your own toilet paper) and bring the most joy (sipping freshly bended juice while walking the streets of Cusco.)

On to my ordinary adventure

I have been looking for the chance to get a straight razor shave since before I could sustain a beard. Perhaps the inception of this desire was caused by my viewing of “Gangs of New York” when I was in high school. The scene when “Priest” Vallon, played by Liam Neeson shaves before the opening battle scene. He then hands the blade to his son who begins to wipe the blade clean, but stops his hand saying, “the blood stays on the blade.” For some reason the gravity of this scene inspired a desire to experience a straight razor shave. And luckily for me, none of my blood ever touched the blade.

The desire to find this experience came about a year after I saw that article in Blue Magazine which inspired the dream of visiting Machu Picchu, you can read more about that here…


…it is a 4 part post with lots of photos for your viewing pleasure.

Since both of these dreams were inspired around the same time, and so long ago, it is fitting that I would fulfill them both on the same trip.

My first international haircut was in Salta Argentina by a guy who was so fast I could have sworn he had scissors in both hands. he didn’t even use clippers, just scissors for a cut that was pretty short. An artist indeed, he even had trophies on his walls, Barber trophies. I asked for a shave, but didn’t know enough spanish at the time, so i couldn’t get the straight razor shave here. So my face would have to wait for that immaculate feeling, I had only dreamt about.

A little more than a year later, on the later stages of my trip to Peru and what would turn out to be Bolivia, another opportunity arose. A friend of mine had the idea to get mustaches for the upcoming trip to Bolivia and the last few days of Movember. We found a place a few streets from Avenida del Sol and had it done.

My beard was getting long and itchy anyways, and though I have never been a mustache man, I figured I might as well get one where I knew very few people. It would be less embarrassing that way.

Hand in the face, they call this the "barbers brace." not really.
Hand in the face, they call this the “barbers brace.” not really.
Getting rid of the beard.
Getting rid of the beard.
so happy
so happy

The feeling was amazing. I have never had a shave that was so close and smooth. The blade feels like a massage and the shaving cream is incredibly soothing. I had expected it be mildly painful, but it was more of a soft caress. At the end the Peruvian barber rubbed my face with a moisturizing bar of…something and there was also a hot towel involved.

Mustached up and ready for Bolivia and the death road
Mustached up and ready for Bolivia and the death road

A week later I got the chance again in La Paz, Bolivia. There is a much smaller tourist to local ratio in La Paz and I was able to find a nice off the path Peluqueria for a 10 boliviano mustache ridding shave. After a week, I couldn’t stand looking at myself without cringing and I also wanted an excuse to get another straight razor shave before my trip was over. There are some differences between the one I found in La Paz and the one in Bolivia. Mainly it was how the skin was handled after the shave. In La Paz, the peluquero rubbed my face with alcohol afterwards to sanitize it. There was no hot towel, but he did rub my face with lotion which was an interesting experience.

trying to snap a discreet midshave photo
trying to snap a discreet midshave photo
Smooth face and a handshake.
Smooth face and a handshake.

It was a fine shave, and while the loss of mustache may have saddened a few patrons at the Adventure Brew Hostal, where I was bar tending, its absence made it a lot easier to look in the mirror.

It is this kind of daily difference that makes life exciting while abroad. Each locale will offer its own unique eccentricities and variations on the common experience. Like the San Pedro Market in Cusco, with everything including the butchers under one giant tent, to the markets in La Paz in the middle of the street, there is always a new way to experience daily life.

Note on Straight Razor Shaves

Unfortunately, for the majority of the last ten years, most places in the United States that I searched had lost the art of the straight razor shave at the barber. It is risky and can be dangerous. Recently, I discovered that there is a surge, a renaissance of sorts, for this time honored tradition. I discovered quite a few places in Portland that are bringing it back.


The Modern Man Barbershop – themodernmanpdx.com

Y-Chrome y-chromebarbering.com

Hair M hairmgrooming.com    -includes a face massage

And check out this post from “The Art of Manliness,” blog that waxes philosophical and photographic on the experience.


A few Questions for the readers.

What random everyday things were you excited and amazed by while you were or are abroad?

What things are you freaked out by?

Have there been any daily activities that surprised you with there eccentricity lately?

Any Specific info on straight razor shaves in the U.S.A., Europe, South America or anywhere?

Any exciting adventures on the horizon?

Viva Aventura,


La Paz and Death Road Photoblog

Some experiences can be illustrated with the aide of Photos. So here is a Photoblog about my time bartending in La Paz and the Death Road Experience.

Espero que tu ojos disfrutanlo. Rough intermediate translastion. I hope your eyes enjoy it.

On The Border
On The Border
Cool Statue
Cool Statue
Another look as the 12 hour bus drove by
Another look as the 12 hour bus drove by
First view of La Paz from the bus.
First view of La Paz from the bus.
Another view
Another view
Big Church with my dutch friends conveniently placed in front of it.
Big Church with my dutch friends conveniently placed in front of it.
The Market is in the middle of the street!
The Market is in the middle of the street!
Freezing at 4,700 meters, start of the death road
Freezing at 4,700 meters, start of the death road
The Excitement to begin is evident


12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 202OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 22212-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 223

Part of the death road expanding into the distance
Part of the death road expanding into the distance

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 240

Lunch time!!
Lunch time!!
Death Road Wreckage
Death Road Wreckage
Wreckage from an old crash
Wreckage from an old crash

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 254

A much greener 1,100 meters
A much greener 1,100 meters

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 27312-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 276

3 hours on a bike and a beer is very refreshing.
3 hours on a bike and a beer is very refreshing.

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 279

goofy birds
goofy birds

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 294

Turtle12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 304

12-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 30912-4-12 potluck last night in cusco, bolivia, death road 305

Monkeys have an affinity for Job
Monkeys have an affinity for Job
Tired of the mustache
Tired of the mustache
That is much better
That is much better
Great Barber/Peluquero. He rubbed alcohol on to disinfect after the straight razor shave and then rubbed lotion into my face. Now that is fancy.
Great Barber/Peluquero.
He rubbed alcohol on to disinfect after the straight razor shave and then rubbed lotion into my face. Now that is fancy.
Best meal I had in La Paz, to be honest, the food isn't that good there.
Best meal I had in La Paz, besides the honguitos. To be honest, the food isn’t that good there.
All this found at Pepe’s Cafe in La Paz. Real Hibiscus Ginger tea. Best tea I had in South America, other than Muna.


Sam, One of the regulars during my seek tending bar.
Sam, One of the regulars during my seek tending bar.
No Drinks left behind at the end of shift.
No Drinks left behind at the end of shift.
Fellow bartenders and one of the brewers.
Fellow bartenders and one of the brewers.
Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz
Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz


This bow points staright to Christmas
This bow points staright to Christmas
Christmas in La Paz
Christmas in La Paz

And after all of this, it was back to the hostal, wake up early and scarf pancakes and down some coca tea and get on the bus for Copacabana and Isla del Sol.

Viva Aventura!