Sean's Random Thoughts

 

#1 Erin Saves the Day!
So as part of my extensive planning (aka paranoia,) I thought I would send my self a "care package" to Buenos Aires and Hong Kong so that if at some point I was robbed I would only have to replace a month or two’s worth of plane tickets. Sounds like a smart plan huh? Well, I didn’t take into account that the items might be held in customs, subject to taxes, or violate international law.

Luckily, my friend Erin, the recipient of the package, understands the ways of the Argentinian customs officers and was able to procure my tickets with some cunning and fast-talking. Below is her story. A big thank you to Erin for saving me hours of trouble, and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

From Erin:
The customs office has 3 different areas in the airport, and you have to go to each area twice (never in the same order, always to the same person who you just talked to). They are not close to one another. Each place requires a photocopy of everything in your wallet, fees, waiting in line, waiting while they have a cigarette, trying to have a good attitude when they ask you for the 10th time if you speak Spanish (this will make you laugh when you hear me speak Spanish, but the US passport really throws them for a loop) etc. In the course of 2 hours I make it through to the last stage, picking up the pkg, at which point they tell me that I can only pick it up if I have a medical prescription in your name (from an Argentine Doctor) for the VITAMINS! I tried my hardest to GIVE them the vitamins right then there, but they “couldn’t do this”. They said when you got here you could go visit a doctor and come back with the prescription, at which point I said I thought I had this very prescription in my car (not that I did, nor do I have a car).

From there, I went into the airport, asked security to find me a doctor (which they did, thinking I was very sick – I was in a fleece and rain coat so I held my belly like I was pregnant), and I convinced the nice doctor to write you a prescription for vitamins, even though vitamins are not a prescription item. He apologized profusely for his country, and wrote me a prescription (in your name and in mine, just I case).
A few minutes later I got your package, and was then directed to go back to the other two offices with it to "sign out"...nah, not going to happen!

Erin bolts from the airport with my tickets in hand! Yipee!

 

#2 Sean’s Peruvian Culinary Adventures
Part of the fun in traveling is tasting the local foods. In Peru Guinea Pig, Alpaca (its like a llama), and mate de coca are local specialties. Here are my reviews:

Guinea Pig: tastes like chicken, but with more bones and not much meat plus the skin is thicker. Oh and they leave the head on it too so it gives you something to play with when your done with dinner. I won’t be going back for seconds.

Alpaca: tastes like beef...like really overcooked tough beef. I took a picture of it. And overall it was OK. Not something to seek out, but if you are in Peru, it's not a bad option it your tired of empanadas.

Mate de coca (coca tea): the coca leaf, which is what cocaine is made from, is often used in tea and (supposedly) helps with altitude sickness and energy. I tried it, (I’m not much of a tea fan usually), but I can’t get enough of this stuff! It’s amazing, and you feel euphoric after drinking it. It increased my energy, decreased my appetite, resulted in decreased birth weight of my children...Oh wait that is the effects of cocaine...I just put a lot of sugar in mine which surprisingly has the same effects of cocaine, but without the need to sell my body on the streets. Seriously, the tea is just tea and I think it helped with my cough, as would Earl grey tea.      9.13.04


#3 Foriegn Affairs
Last night I was awake thinking . . . Is the war in Afghanistan over? I don’t remember GW flying onto an aircraft carrier and declaring major combat operations over in dramatic fashion? Did it happen on a weekend when I was away? I really don’t remember it. Are there still Americans there? Why isn’t it ever in the news? Is anyone still looking for Osama Bin Laden? Or is an investigation by the pentagon into John Kerry’s military service 30 years ago more important to national security? If Sept. 11th was such a bad thing for America why are we so quick to forget the guy who caused it all?

On a completely different note . . . as I sit at in various internet cafes, I’ve noticed that the people besides me are always on an internet chat room...and they are there for hours on end...just a quirky cultural note I thought I’d pass on.      9.20.04

#4 South Americans for Kerry
Another cultural note I would like to pass on is that most of South America is hoping John Kerry wins the election. Front page news here is always about Iraq and George W. Bush. It has become politically popular for the leaders of Brazil and Argentina to stand up to the US. It is an easy way to get popular support from the public if your a political leader here in SA does something against America. Just something to think about when you watch the debates on Thursday, everyone here will also be watching them too...unless there is a soccer game on.       9.29.04

#4 Food in Australia
I almost forgot to update everyone on my culinary adventures here in Australia.
In New Zealand the food wasn't much different than the US. So I was excited to come to Australia where many culinary adventures awaited.

Vegemite: a yeast spread that you use like butter. It doesn't taste like butter or chicken. It has a pastey consistency and is vague in flavor, but slightly nutty, but in a bad way. Not recommended.

Emu: a big bird like an Ostrich. The meat is tender and is similar to beef...but better! Highly recommended.

Kangaroo: You know what it is. It tastes like ham, but bad ham. Skip it.
Crocodile: the animal that made Steve Erwin famous. It tastes like (you guessed it!) chicken, but tougher and dryer. Fun for something different, but not the next hot pizza topping.

Beers: For some reason the microbrew phenomenon hasn't hit Australia. New Zealand had lots of beer to choose from, in Australia you have a choice between a pilsner and a larger and that is it. Matt, if you’re looking for a business opportunity come over to Australia and start a microbrewery.

That is it from here. next stop Hong Kong...Dog? Cat? Horse? Oh the choices!
11.02.2004

 

#5 Celebrity
I will be glad to leave India. I feel like a white Michael Jackson! Mobs of people have been attacking me--not in a bad way, but because they want to talk to the white American guy. At one point this morning I actually had to have a police escort and be placed in a holding cell for my own protection to keep a mob away from me. But then the mob began to knock down the window! All with big smiles! 11.22.04