Uphill Racing in Ecuador

It’s raining, there’s an impenetrable fog, and we’ve already had to dodge some rubble that’s fallen from the steep rock slides on the shoulder of a treacherous Andean road. On one side is a sheer granite wall, on the other nothing but deep space for 2,000 feet. There’s a sign that says “Reduce Speed” in Spanish, which is a good idea for people who value their lives (or for those who enjoy dry pants) because the road disappears behind a switchback turn, and, for those who can’t read, there are a dozen large yellow arrows posted on the curve ahead. Just for emphasis, roadside shrines dedicated to the recently departed decorate the numerous points along the road where the last words heard were “Hey, amigo, hold my beer!”, and the double yellow lines are probably there for a reason.

Naturally, of course, that is the exact moment when Jorge’, the driver of the van I’m in, decides it’s a great time to pass the truck lumbering along in front of us. Continue reading

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Cuenca, the Gringo Paradise

I’m seated at a cafe’ on the Parque’ Abdon Calderon in central Cuenca, and a woman is pestering me to buy her mangos. She has them in a great basket, and she’s stopped by my table because, I think, it’s raining, so I’m the only potential customer, however unlikely it is that a lone gringo drinking wine at a restaurant needs fresh fruit. I finally succumb and hand over a dollar. She proceeds to put one in a be, and I’m thinking I’ll get some change back. Then she gives me another. And another. Soon, I have a bag full, so I’m figuring they’re about 8 cents a piece. I don’t do the grocery shopping at home, but I think that’s a great deal, especially since I didn’t have to actually rise from my chair to buy them. Continue reading

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10 Things I Love About America

 

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I travel a lot. Enough, at least, I think, to appreciate what makes America such a great place to live when compared to the rest of the world. And by that I mean, how easy and convenient our country is for the average citizen. I am not talking about nebulous and unmeasurable concepts like freedom and opportunity here. I’m talking about the things that make your day-to-day life easier, like: Continue reading

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Lake Titicaca

A flock of sheep is heading my way on the trail of Tequile Island (in the middle of Lake Titicaca), and there’s nowhere to go. Walls to the left of me, walls to the right. I decide to take a picture. That’s when the trouble starts. Continue reading

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Machu Picchu

I am standing in the Sun Gate high above Machu Picchu, but all I see is fog. I got here by climbing an hour at 8,500 feet elevation, so my knees are both rubber, I am sweating profusely, and I am certainly glad I paid for the emergency Medevac insurance. Slowly, the fog lifts, and the ancient city mystically appears in the distance. Continue reading

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I’m in Hot Water Now

The view from the front seat of the Vista Dome train enroute from Cusco, Peru to Aguas Calientes (hot water) is superb. Unfortunately, the Merlot I am sharing with Danny (short for Danielle), an Aussie lass sitting next to me, is undrinkable. Of course, that doesn’t stop me or her from finishing the bottle. Continue reading

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Spies Like Us

Yuri is a big guy, and he has an intimidating stare, which is something I’d expect from a former KGB agent. Right now, he’s toasting the USA across my dining room table.

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