Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Live from Florida!

Here we are! Back home in Florida since the week end!
The trip was long but went well in a plane with NO private TV...You should have seen the kids face.....(Our airliners are aging seriously compare to the newer plane we have seen worldwide)
Only 3 days and life seems to become awfully normal again....Tonight Carol and I were talking about leaving again...soon!
Went riding Sunday, zoomed to Talahassee for a meeting yesterday, will get to NYC this week end for a meeting and then Vegas for remainder of next week!
In 10 days we will be on the road again!
We have disconnected from each other in our house and everybody seems to be too busy to communicate! Yet our life is good and we are so lucky to have been able to be together so much the last 10 months!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Last day in Argentina (and treated like royalty!)

Today was our last full day in Argentina!
Tomorrow night we will be flying back home for arrival Friday!
A friend of a friend (that became a friend as well) picked us up for a day in the country!
Federico took us to his country weekend home where he treated us with an Authentic Argentinian BBQ!
The place was spectacular, the food unreal and Federico a fantastic host!
We will definitely miss the warmth and frienship of Argentina!
Thank you Federico and ...don't cry for us Argentina....we will come back!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Enjoying our Argentinian life and going to the beach!

Greetings from BA where our life has been slowing down a bit.... fortunately!
We are having a great time enjoying the NYC of South America!
We have a small apparment hotel in one of the busiest street in BA and sleep in everyday , have casual dinners at 10pm like real locals and enjoy people watching from our neighborhood "cafe" on the side walk!
Yesterday we rented a car and went to the beach on the Atlantic coast!
It was a long drive (500 miles RT) but well worth it!
The little town of Pinamar was a great surprise and a lovely beach town! Kind of a mix of Florida and french "Landes"!
The real estate was unreal! Neiborhood filled with high teck villas and the best lifestyle we have seen so far in South A! Could live there in a second....real cool and safe!
Tomorrow we will have a BBQ with a friend and then we will be back in Florida this week end for a 2 weeks regrouping!
Time is flying again!

We want this House in Pinamar

Great houses everywhere

Atlantic coast

Pinamar beach!

the boys and the CHE

Waiting for steack sandwich

Invisible man

Luca enjoying breakfast from our balcony!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Last day in Bolivia and travelling back to Buenos Aires

We had fun our last day in Bolivia!
We went to the valley of the moon outside La paz (some very spectacular local "badlands" where we hiked for a while!
Then we found a giant concrete slide that the kids used for an hour!
Finally, we were back in La Paz and check the presidential Palace and other part of downtown!
Next day we were up at 4am to catch couple flights and spent the day travelling back to Argentina!
Good long day on the road but it felt strange to be back in "so civilized" Buenos Aires!
We are back in our apparment downtown for few days of relaxation after many exciting and tiring weeks!
The weather is cooler (70) and the town bustling as always!

Unbelievable view of the Andes from the plane...barely above the mountains

View from our Hotel in Buenos aires

Presidential Palace in La Paz

Kids slidding in Bolivia

Valley of the moon in Bol;ivia

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

EP version 5.0 (crazier and as stable!) or the most dangerous road in the world for my birthday!

Alright, yesterday was my 50th and I had planned a very special event to remember!
“the death road” ( or most dangerous road in the world) in Bolivia:

If 50 was over the hill, let's the hill be at 16000 feet!

A little bit of history here: the caretera del muerte or “death road was named so in 1995 by the Bolivian authorities after averaging a death a day on this unbelievable stretch of road linking La Paz to the Coca field 12,000 feet below in Tropical Bolivia! One day even saw 100 fatalities and the government decided to build another modern road that was finished in 1999! The day the new road was open, the old road became a mountain bikers downhill paradise for thrill seekers!
Here is my Birthday story:
Usual wake up at sunrise, then breakfast and went to the meeting point in La Paz where I was greeted by 13 other crazy people singing happy birthday to me…..(I gave my birth date when signin in)!
An hour and a half of bus later we were on top of the world at 4800 meters (16000 feet) getting ready for the big ride! We wore 5 layers since it was near freezing and set up our downhill Kona Bicycle!
Darren the guide did his speech, made us swear we would not be F…ing idiots and reminded us of a biker fatalitiy last week on death road! (he was not kidding)
The bikes, riders and dirt was blessed by Pachamama (mother earth) and then we went for the first part of the road…15 miles of paved downhill!
The ride was exhilarating and cold, the scenery unreal, we were all on a cloud!
We went thru the usual army checkpoint then regrouped at a small village around 12,000 feet where our guide had a sad news for us: we had to climb an 8 mile pass before getting to the DR!
With a big smile he offered us to load our bikes in the bus but immediately I ran a rebellion saying climbing 8 miles at 12000 feet could not be that difficult!....
50% of the group followed me while the other half boarded the bus!
Within 500 feet, I was dead, complete lack of oxygen or else…..yet I managed to climb the pass and honestly it was my proudest moment of the day!
Then we got on the dirt road and the official beginning of DR! I was following the guide and quickly the pace got quicker ignoring the constant 2,000 foot cliff on left of an 8 foot wide dirt road!
This was so much fun and insane at the same time! We did that for a while and then I decided I wanted to live longer than my 50th birthday and went back mid pack for the remainder of trip!
We went under tropical waterfall, mud, silt, mud water crossing to end up 4,000 meters lower (12,000 feet) in tropical Bolivia where we encountered Spider Monkeys and other birds!
The temperature went from freezing to tropical requesting constant changes of equipment!
We were all on a high, nobody crashed even when we tried some tricky single track roads!
The 40 miles road was a 6 hours long ride and after a great lunch we decided to head back to La Paz.
Surprisingly the guide announced us that we would not take the new road but instead we went to back track the DR!....nobody reacted !
Now we were scared and especially me on an old school bus having a window on the cliff side of the road!
The bicycle ride was a breeze but being inches away from a 2000 feet cliff in an old bus was a bit too much!
Honestly, I got scared for the next 2 hours and tried to change seats but nobody accepted despite my old age!
On a side note, we made a quick stop by the house of Klaus Barbie (the Nazi “butcher of Lyon”) who hid in Bolivia for 40 years after WW2!
To make things spicier we even had a heavy fog mid way up the trip!
4 hours later we were back in La Paz where I was greeted by Carol and the kids to finish a wonderful day!
I got showered with gifts and love and Carol had even made crepes for me!
We had a great steak dinner and then got back to our apartment where I got to write this and reflect on my 50th!
I am a very lucky man with a great family and a lot of great friends around the world!
I would not change or trade my half century for anything or any other life,
Love and peace to all

Monday, April 12, 2010

La Paz (April 12, 2010)

Finally we have found the South America cliche we were missing in our trip!
Bolivia is it, bustling streets, multi colored school buses loaded to the max and crazy traffic everywhere!
Also by far the least expensive country we have seen in a while where we can have a real meal for couple dollars a person!
We went to the market and found the witchcraft market, pretty spooky but fascinating!

Getting ready for big day tomorrow.............

La Paz

Old buses


look at wiring....scary

Bolivia and Carol's words on Peru

We honestly didn’t think we could top the experience we had had in the last 9 months, and with a bit of travelers fatique, we were completely unprepared for our South American experience. What could we expect ? Well, truthfully we really had no expectation at all and all the better because we have been completely amazed by this leg of our trip and especially with Peru. It has not stopped surprising us with its beautiful scenery, its incredible Andean peaks, its ocean which we saw in Lima, its sacred lake Titicaca, its exotic Amazon and of course the hauntingly beautiful Incan ruins in Machu Picchu. The history is something I really didn’t remember from school, but being here and hearing it directly from the Incan Indians themselves has been an unforgettable experience! Although most Peruvians are Catholic by force of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500’s, you have the feeling that there is a deep pride in their Incan culture and that it is still practiced among many people. We toured the great Cathedral in Cuzco (the original home of the Incans) and the tour was eye-opening! The Spanish Conquistidors had hired local artists to build and do the artwork for all Cathedrals. What the invaders didn’t know was that the native Incans had their own interpretation of the great Catholic works of art and they snuck into the art their own belief system which included the belief in many gods including the most important being Mother Earth, the Sun and the Moon, although there were gods for just about everything from nature. For example, in the painting of the last supper, they include a platter serving guinea pig and a platter of corn. Judas is colored with dark skin signifying the skin color of the Spaniards. At the time, the Spanish had no idea they had been duped.
Women line the streets dressed in their ancient costumes and not only for tourists but they are dressed like this everywhere, in their homes, while farming and while selling in the market. The women wear braids on each side of their head and wear a hat that sits balancing right on top of their head and looks several sizes too small. Most are dressed with very bright primary colors and wear a black hat. Men are not usually dressed up unless for festivals and unless you are visiting one of the sacred islands on lake Titicaca where the men dress up everyday in black trousers, a white blouse and a hand weaved wide belt and a hat with a color to signify if they are married or not. Dancing and holding festivals where they are dressed much like what you see at Mardi Gras is very common, maybe 700 occasions per year!! All are colorful and where some scary masks and what we have learned is that one very important dance is the Diablo/Angel dance where good meets evil. We were very lucky to have seen one of these dances at the island of Taquile on Lake Titicaca.
Today, as we crossed over to Bolivia on a catamaran cruising Lake Titicaca, we had the honor to join in a local Indian ceremony on the sacred Island of the Sun, with offerings to Mother Earth, the Sun and the Moon and many blessings for us for good health and good travels. It took place on top of a cliff overlooking Lake Titicaca. The sun was strong and there was a beautiful breeze. It was truly magic.
Now we are on a bus traveling the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia and the roads are crazy and it seems that anything goes here as far as the unspoken rules of the road! More later!! and yes we made it to our hotel in La Paz alive!

Mountains surrounding La Paz

Sun ISland with a local Inca Priest

Those reeds boat are very interestingly built!

Locals washing their hairs in lake Ttikaka

Cruising the lake

Lama embryo for witchcraft!

Vehicles getting ready to be blessed by priest!

Luca Inca (the sequel)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Titikaka and Taquile island!

Last day in Peru and another great one!
Peru has been the best surprise of our South American trip! Such a rich country with so much to see...
We had our usual wake up at sunrise and on the lake Titikaka we went!
First we visited the floating islands where the locals have not changed much in 1000 years!
So nice and friendly with a unique lifestyle!
Then we went on our boat (7 hours of boating today) to Taquile island in the middle of lake!
Titikaka was in our mind the size of lake Tahoe but we were very wrong!It is 100 miles long and 30 wide....a very big lake!
Taquile Island is 20 miles from the shore and could be called a paradise in many way!
2000 people leave there in perfect harmony in one of the best eco system.
Fresh water spring everywhere a cristal clean lake almost completely self sustained in a Mediteranean climate(no freeze ever).
No locks,no crime no dogs on island!(dogs are only considered as an alarm system around here)
We even lucked out since it was the last day of Easter celebration with local dances all day!

Best of all the weather was perfect all day long and Altitude sickness is gone finally!

Tomorrow, En route for Bolivia where we will try to rest for few days before going back to Buenos Aires!

Sunrise on Titikaka lake

Luca with little localon Taquile Island (little diablo!)

local girl climbing pole!

big party on the island to celebrate the end of Easter

Taquile island looks so mediteranean

Us basking in the sun (plenty of it!)


Kitchen in floating island

Alec with couple locals

floating island