Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ask Yourself This...

When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?
I was in Bariloche, Argentina when I saw these words on a poster while eating at Hostel 41 Below.  It is such a simple question with a very thought provoking idea behind it.  To me the idea is about continuous improvement.  It's about learning new things, taking a chance, and seeing what happens.  Whether they go right or wrong is sometimes important, but it is a learning opportunity.  Questions like this motivated me to create another list in my journal detailing some of the things that have occurred on my trip that were newbies for me. 
In this life I think that people get way too bogged down with the everyday monotonous details, become apathetic, and forget about what is important when they take the eye off the prize.  What is important to me is The Fam, learning, and always trying something new.  So, while eating my yogurt and cereal I began to think and started right there to keep a little list of the firsts
Here are a few...
During this trip some of the things that I have done for the first time include...
  • Just buying a ticket and going. 
  • Getting there, with very little and being content with one space for a while. 
  • Left the house for an extended period of time
  • Learned how to create some delicious Mexican food without a cookbook
  • Became pretty flexible with my time.  It was my money and I was like "im doin what i want"
  • Seen extreme poverty
  • Seen a South American soccer match.  They were all special!
  • I have not had turkey on thanksgiving
  • been proud to speak Spanish and not be self-conscious about it
More to come because im becoming tired. 
But just ask yourself the above question  sometime.
When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?

Friday, April 21, 2006

guess who is back!

you betcha!

im back...but ive been busy with all types of stuff do describe my latest adventures...
still to come...
  • The elusive second Antarctica update
  • how i surprised my sisters and nieces in NYC and texas
  • how i surprised ma and pa on april fool's day
  • what ive been doin since ive been back home
now, it is time for a dynamic duo party! Im Luigi and rafal is's gonna be that good!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Surviving a Subway Pickpocket

Throughout my travels I have been pretty lucky to never have been a victim of any type of crime. 
I have only heard stories about people getting robbed/mugged/taken advantage of when they were not alert.  In Bolivia I ran into a guy I had met from The World's Most Dangerous Road bike ride who had been a victim of a pickpocket.  The thief spit on him, when the guy turned around to see what the deal was the thief had already taken his wallet and was escaping.  Losing your wallet sucks...but losing your passport is even worse. 
Hearing stories from other travelers about their bag with all their important documents being picked off when they put it down at a bar or left it in the hostel that didnt have any lockers was never too reassuring.  It always made you a little nervous to carry a lot of dough or anything nice at all because there is always someone out there that will steal it. 
Besides your passport, the worse thing you could lose would be your journal or your fotos of places you went to. That happened to two folks I met along the way.  Remo from Germany had his journal stolen after holding on to it and writing in it for eight months.  The Raj said he had a gun pointed to his head in Buenos Aires and lost some fotos and his journal back when I met up with him and some buddies for Christmas. 
It shakes you up when stuff happens like that.  Yea, insurance will reimburse the cost of your camera...that is no big deal.  Losing a journal and other personal effects that are impossible to replace is what really gets ya.  It's what makes you really angry. 
This almost happened to me on the last day of my trip in Buenos Aires. 
Here is how it went down.  My last day in BA was a busy one.  Busy getting last minute gifts, getting receipts for the Global Refund, picking up the suits I purchased, writing just a few more postcards, getting one last steak, picking up laundry, and saying goodbye to some of the folks that I had met there.  So my mind was a little preoccupied with all the stuff that I had on my list. 
I was in the subway heading back to the hostel around 130 in the afternoon.  It was pretty packed in the subway as I filed in and stood there.  I waited and people watched as the stops passed by.  I used my left arm to hold onto the above railing and had the other hand in my right pants pocket to prevent any foolio from reaching in and snaking the cash that I had in my pocket.  The top of my Arcteryx Bora 80 backpack can detach and become a fanny pack.  It is a very convenient way to stow your journal, a camera, your iPod, and a coupla other things in there because it is small, light-weight and portable.  I positioned the fanny pack strap over my left shoulder and the bag rested on my chest and slightly underneath my armpit.
The subway was boring, noisy, non-air conditioned, and packed.  I was zoning out and doing to some people watching when it happened.  About 10 or 15 seconds before the subway car stopped, the doors would open and people would rush in and out I glanced at my bag from the corner of my eye.  What was weird was that it was about halfway open and there were two fingers.  "Holy Shit!" I thought.  I turned quickly and shoved the decently dressed guy in his 20s into the car's wall.  That got the attention of  everybody on the subway car.  A huge gringo pushing a guy and yelling in a loud and booming voice "Porque su mano estaba en mi bola!!!!...Te vi con su mano en mi bolsa!!!!"..."Why is your hand in my bag...I saw you with your hand in my bag.  The only thing the guy said was "No hice nada"  ( i didnt do anything) in a mumbled voice.
The subway car stopped, the doors opened and I followed the guy down the subway platform.  I look back and chuckle because I didnt bump into anybody exiting the car this time (which is unheard of during peak times), everybody got out of the way of the 250lb gringo as I began to yell and draw lots of attention to this asshole.  He made his way down the platform towards the crowded escalator.  When I confronted him again at the escalator he did an aboutface and walked back up the platform he just came from towards the train coming in the opposite direction.  I was full of shock and anger.  WTF!!  I looked into my bag...iPod? check.  Camera? check. Journal? check?  Passport inside my journal? check. 
There was an Argentinian that stopped and helped me out.  He asked if any of my stuff was missing (none was) and if we should goto the police.  Since none of my stuff was missing and I needed to get to the tailor to pick up my suit I decided to let it go and catch the next train. 
Assholes like that piss me off.  When jerks take advantage of tourists or other folks, it builds an anger in me. And You Dont Want To See Me Angry!  I was trying not to think about what happened the rest of the ride back to my hostel and to the airport later in the day.  But it was hard not to think about it..."What should I have done differently?"  "Should I have hit the guy?"  "I could have really hurt him, why didnt i get a shot or two in?" "Why was I not paying attention" "Did I push someone who didnt do a thing?"  All these things were running through my head for a while. 
This was probably the only unpleasant experience that I have had during my whole trip.  And it sucks to have a memory like that.  Yea, there were taxi drivers that took advantage of me and maybe charged a little too much.  But nobody has tried to rip me off with out my acknowledgement.  I hope nobody gets to run a guy like this pickpocket.  It just ruins your day.  So watch your stuff when you are traveling because it will happen when you least expect it or when you put your guard down. 

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Im Back Home!

ok, folks
just finished up my whirlwind South American Tour and i am now sleeping in my own bed tonight...
cant believe that the trip is already over and Im back in otown...
so much to many people to see...finally get to hang out with the fam and sleep in my own bed. 
wait a minute...what day is today?
April First you say? 
That's Right...APRIL FOOLS!!!!!!!
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!!!!  T-Minus Nine Days!!!!