#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 twos worth of plane tickets. Sounds like a smart
plan huh? Well, I didnt 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.
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 couldnt 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 Seans 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 wont 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, (Im not
much of a tea fan usually), but I cant get enough of this stuff!
Its 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 dont 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 dont remember
it. Are there still Americans there? Why isnt it ever in the
news? Is anyone still looking for Osama Bin Laden? Or is an investigation
by the pentagon into John Kerrys 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
On a completely different note . . . as I sit at in various internet
cafes, Ive 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 Id 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
#4 Food in Australia
I almost forgot to update everyone on my culinary adventures here
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
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 youre
looking for a business opportunity come over to Australia and start
That is it from here. next stop Hong Kong...Dog? Cat? Horse? Oh the
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