Posted by: Elgranviaje | January 20, 2013

A 14 year old psychic

The summer before my freshman year I visited the Bay Area with my family and fell in love.  I loved the people, the history, the weather and the land.  I returned home to the East Coast with dreams of Berkeley and UCSF, hippies and freedom.  That winter my family visited our small, local mountain to ski.  We were allowed to bring a friend. My twin sister and her friend started playing a lying game.  They would get on the 3-person chairlift and make up stories.  They would tell the stranger they were cousins visiting from Canada, they were friends from summer camp in Mexico.  Who knows what webs they wove.  But I thought it was cool.  Very, very cool.  And I wanted to try it.  

I thought of my cover story.  I got in line with my friend.  We sidled up to the stranger and started the short ride up the mountain.  Pleasantries exchanged, poles aligned, and I was ready.  The older, bearded man asked “Where are you from?”.  I jumped in.  “Oh this is my cousin and I am just visiting from California.” I am happy, so far so good.  “Really”, said the man, “what part of California?”  The best was yet to come.  “Oh I am a student in Berkeley.” “Reaaalllly?” said the man, “what school are you studying at? I live in Berkeley too.”  Wait. What? Wait, oh man, I was screwed.  I tried to figure something out, and quick too.  “Well, I, umm, I am studying at the arts and crafts school there.”  How this came out of my mouth I still don’t understand.  I was caught in a lie, and stuck on the chairlift.  I did what any good New Englander would do; I looked straight ahead and didn’t talk.  

I have always held on to this story as some larger comment on my soul.  This was the universe’s way of keeping me honest.  I am a bad liar.  I shouldn’t have tried to create a false image.  The biblical judgment flowed with this story.  But today I think I understand what that was all about.  

Today was a soaring, beautiful day in Oakland.  I am starting to find a groove here on my days off and one of our favorite things to do is take our dog for a hike in the redwoods.  We were headed out of the neighborhood, about three blocks from my house, when I saw it.  Close to our home is an art school.  It is called the California College of the Arts.  Sometimes they have gallery shows and I run by it on a regular basis.  But today I looked at the original seal that held the full name of the school.  And it is the California College of Arts and Crafts.  Arts and Crafts school.  And I live three blocks from it.  

Now, I believe in signs.  And I believe in the universe telling me things.  Somehow that little, crazy, scared 14-year-old saw something.  Something in me always knew I would end up here.  Something was set in motion and some path was set up that I knew a long time ago.  Why I even decided to lie and pretend I was a macrame major in an Arts and Crafts school 3,000 miles from my home on a snowy day in 1993 is beyond me.  But something in me knew I would end up here.  And if that isn’t the ultimate confirmation that I am on the right path, I don’t know what is.  

Posted by: Elgranviaje | April 9, 2008

Last night out in Sur America

So this is the end of the line for me in this trip.  Edwin will be continuing back to Colombia on his own, and I am flying into NYC on Thursday night.  I am a little relieved, to tell you the truth, but of course, also sad and conflicted.  So what is a girl to do in this state? Cut her hair, drink and go to an underground tango club.  Which is exactly what I did!

First, I met up with this sweet great lady, Andy that we met in the mountains. She took me to her fancy haircutting place.  I have been in some serious need of hair help and was thinking about how cool all the Argentinas look.  I figured I would go a little crazy…but not as crazy as this lady went.  First of all, the whole process took 3 HOURS! I mean, wow.  But it was fun because Andy stayed and talked to me the whole time.  We talked about great healthy mental issues and it was my cup of tea! The haircut is…modern. Spanishy.  Strange. And I have three hair colors now.  Black, blond, and maroon.  It isnt as crazy as it sounds, but its crazy!

Then we went with Andy and her man Pablo to their apartment, drank beer, talked, looked at pictures, met Andy´s daughter, and ate homemade pizza! Sweet! Then we ran out of there, hopped in a cab, went to Aidana´s house and got ready.  She knew about this club called La Catedral which is a milonga, or tango place.  It was undergroundish, but she didn´t know for sure.  We were expecting the typical tango espectaculo! But instead, we rolled into this place that was like punk rock tango.  It was tango, great dancers, but the decoration was out of control. Like a strange artist loft in the LES in the 90s or something.  The best was that no one was being a flashy tango dancer.  Everyone was in tshirts and funny clothes.  The best couple was the guy with a Mohawk and Ramones tshirt dancing with an Amy Winehouse look alike.  WIld! Then there was an experimental tango music dance show! It was great.  A really great and special night.

SO thats it for me.  NOt sure if this is it for the blog! I will see all of you in NYC soon.  Lots of love, Beca

Posted by: Elgranviaje | April 1, 2008

Argentina Update

So the countadown has officially begun.  Only 10 more days before I head back to NYC.  We arrived today into Buenos Aires on the train from Mar De Plata.  It was a funny ride and the train was really old.  The windows opened! You could wave a scarf if you wanted! We had a good time in Puerto Madryn and walked among pneguins and had a great time.  It was weird! We saw orcas! Only 3%of the population get to seee orcas and we saw them in the little 30 minutes that we were there.  We went on to Mar De Plata nd enjoyed that little fancy city and now we are in Buenos Aires.  And although it would be easier to say BA, I won´t .  It´s too gringo. 

More to come! See you sooN!

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 27, 2008


Well, my little South American trip is officially closing down.  I bought my tickets home to NYC for April 10.  I am coming home early because I need to work a bit and also get things together for school and also because I am a bit beat and not enjoying things as much as I should.  So here I come! Edwin will be back in the end of May with his Grandma. 

I am looking forward to these last few weeks of traveling.  Right now we are on the Atlantic Coast in Puerto Madryn and tomorrow will go see some nature with the penguins and sea lions around here.  Then we are heading up to Buenos Aires and will be there for the rest of the time I have in Argentina.  The plan is to: sail up the Rio Plata, see a Boca game, go out and dance, walk around the city, and generally recoup our life force.  We are lucky and will be staying for free in one of Edwin´s friends house, so that is awesome. 

 I look forward to seeing all of you guys! If you want to get together, email me! I will be in the city until June 11 or so.  Also, if you know anyone who has a job for a month and a half, please let me know! I am looking for some work 🙂

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 27, 2008

Where have we been?

Well, the truth is that we have been in Argentina.  We got here about a week ago and were both really excited about finally getting to this country that we have wanted to see and be in for so long.  We arrived to Bariloche and have been hanging around the lake district for the past week.  This included a four day hike into the Andes with this guide that we met at a hostel in Bariloche.  IT was good to get out of this area and into the woods for a while because of the Easter travelers and the insanity of the weekend. 

 The hike was….terrifying! It was really hard.  WE walked the first day about 7 hours uphill and covered about 10 miles.  We arrived to the Refugio at about 8 pm and took showers in this rustic shack that had hot water and was kind of a sauna.  Even though it was rustic, it was totally the best shower of all time. We spent about 4 days in the mountains and it was truly really beautiful and amazing.  Except for all the misogynists.  Why is it that mountain men are such misogynists? Since I was the only woman there for most of the time, it became painfully evident that all these tough guys were struggling with some serious mommy-issues. 

I liked especially the numerous conversations I had about women only wanting to date rich men.  I find this especially offensive since I don´t know a single women who is looking specifically for a rich man.  I wanted to say to these losers: Look, women don´t want to date you because you stink and because you don´t know how to shut up long enough to listen to anything anyone else has to say.  Needless to say, even though the mountains were beautiful, I was happy to get the hell out of them. 

This misogynist explosion made me really appreciate my Colombian brothers.  Colombians are dogs, no doubt.  But they don´t hate women, they are obsessed with them.  These argentinian moutain dudes actually high-fived each other when they talked about women and one actually said: I am going into town to see if I can get lucky! I mean, WTF?? Have I been living in a cave? Is this how men really act?

Anyway, I have to say, besides the assholes, it was truly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I have been waiting to get to Patagonia the whole trip and it is wild and out of control and amazingly beautiful.  I am glad that we did the trip, even though it brought out my latent, but very strong, anti-male sentiments.

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 16, 2008

Chile is sweet, the end!

Instead of trying to tell you everything about Chile, I will just give a few little highlights.  The truth is that this is the best country I have ever visited in my whole, long life! I am totally and completely, head over heels in love with this place.  Why don´t we know about Chile? Why doesn´t anyone ever go there? I don´t know, but I didn´t know what to expect.  What I`ve gotten here has been great.  Here are some good moments:

-Hitchhiking is very accepted here and we have done it a few times.  Once in the Pisco Valley when we were trying to get to a winery! We got picked up by a funny old man who told us how he was an old tree and wouldn´t survive in any other environment.  Then just yesterday, we were walking on this country road and got a ride from this funny, drunk American couple, Debbie and Joel! They were so nice and funny and were having the time of their lives drinking and driving.

-Carolina, our friend we met in Ecuador, was a wildly generous host to us in Santiago.  She gave us a free Pilates course, gave us her bed, made us homemade chacareros.  The funniest thing was that her sweet mom has a cousin in San Fran and when the mom said that Carolina is going to meet up with us in NYC in may, the cousin said: oh be careful! I watched a story on 60 minutes about a woman who met a man and went to his country and he sold her to someone as his wife! We won´t sell Carolina!!!! I laughed about that for a long time because I think  it´s pretty american to be that paranoid!

-Without a doubt, the best thing about Chile, besides it´s amazing food and people, is the landscapes.  I have never seen anything like it.  This is a huge country.  From Arica on the top to Santiago in the middle, it´s 2000 kilometers! That´s a lot! It starts as this rolling desert and then it just gets better.  Yesterday, we went to Lago Todos los Santos which is this emerald green lake surrounded by volcanoes.   What!

-We went to Arica, SPA, Pisco Elqui, Valparaiso, Santiago, Pucon, Puerto Varas and honestly every single town has topped the last one.  We are on our last legs in Chile.  Tonight we are going to this strange and haunted island, Chiloe, which is supposedly very very beautiful.  It was isolated for like 300 years and was serviced by one boat a year!!! So I guess it´s a serious place.  There is a lot left south of us in Chile, but it is complicated and hard to get around because it´s, like, the end of the world, so you have to take a lot of ferries.  We are crossing over to Argentina in a day or two and will spend a whole luxurious month there!

Come to Chile! It´s great! I would marry it if I could!

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 16, 2008

Chile is sweet! Part 1

So you know that I wanted to write: Chile is sweet, not spicy! Which is sooo cheesy, but there it is! Sorry about the wait for an update, but I am having too much fun (finally!) to write on the blog!

We arrived to Chile from Peru into the city of Arica and spent the day hanging out on the beach, eating chacareros, and generally finally relaxing.  IT was great.  Then we headed into a long busride to San Pedro de Atacama which is a desert oasis.  It is a cute town made of adobe houses in the middle of a salt desert.  We stayed in a great, quiet hostel full of older germans who, strangley, all had Mets NY hats! We did a lot of great things in one short day! We went to watch the sunset in el Valle de La Luna which is a national park with sand-dunes.  It was a little tour and we got to see a few key places around, hike up a sand dune, watch the sun reflect on the snowy cordillera de Los Andes, and then…run and jump and roll down the sand dune! That was awesome!

We got back to town and then ran around for food and jumped into another totally amazing tour.  Atacama desert is known for its amazing night sky and we took an astronomical tour in the night.  It was given by this funny French astonomer and his Chilean wife.  First he explained the night sky, how to read it, how to understand what we were seeing, the beautiful Southern Cross and then he set us up with telescopes.  This was the most amazing part! We saw nebulas on Orion´s belt, galaxies, star clusters and SATURN.  We took a picture of saturn with our camara, rings and all!

It was an amazing night! We slept and then hopped on a bus to el Valle de Elqui! That will be part 2!

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 10, 2008

The end of Peru

After we went to Machu Pichu, we got back to Cuzco for the night and then took off for our last stop in Peru: Lake Titicaca.  We took one of the worst busrides of all time.  Kind of a typical busride for South America.  A 5 hour trip becomes 7 hours, there are 400 people in the aisles, the driver stops every five minutes, etc, etc.  We arrived to Puno at night and settled into the coldest weather yet.  The altitude is about 3500 meters or maybe 11,000 feet above sea level? Something like that.  It was summertime, luckily, but it was still freezing.  Totally freezing!  In the morning, we went to visit the floating islands of Uros.  These are these crazy islands that are built on water using reeds and mossy land that reeds grow in.  They are out of control and very strange. These islands are in a little bay of Lake Titicaca and it was beautiful, but nothing compared to the next day.  The next day we got on a boat that was packed with potatoes, eggs, people, and coca leaves to go to the island of Taquille.  This was far away, about 3 hours by boat.  And the ride was amazing.  This is a weird lake.  I think if you´ve been there, it kind of defies explanation.  The New Yorker we met on the bus said that the lake was “captivating” and maybe that´s the right, although kind of snobby, way to describe it.  It was amazing.  The locals from the islands laughed at Edwin´s hair and then shared their coca leaves with us.  These leaves are good for altitude and hunger and are a huge part of the local culture in the sierras of this country.  They taught us that you choose the best three leaves, take off your hat, blow on them a prayer, point in the four cardinal directions and then throw them in the lake as an offering.  Then you chew them.  They are kind of gross and weird, but I guess people are into them.

The island was really beautiful and we walked around in the middle of the lake and just enjoyed the views.  It was totally amazing.  We took the long ride home and then took off that night for Chile.  After a long Peruvian ride on the bus, we got to Tacna, met up with a sweet girl who was crossing the border, got a taxi across and ended up in Arica, Chile in the early morning.  Goodbye Peru.  Thanks for the sights and the experiences.  But I can´t say that I will miss you…..and I will leave my opinions at that!

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 5, 2008

The best day so far, Part 3

So we got on the train after we met up with the 3 swedish girls.  They were very nice.  They are all taking a break after high school to travel and work.  One of them is a grave digger! A swedish fucking grave digger!!! They all like ¨Old¨music like the Pixies and Bob Dylan.  That is what is cool in Sweden.  So there!

We talked on the train and decided to share a taxi back to Cuzco.  We negotiated a price and jumped in and took off.  The driver asked us if we wanted to try the local drink, chicha.  We said sure, why not.  He pulled over into a little shack on the side of the road where a rip-roaring campesino party was underway.  There were all the ladies with their braids, big skirts, and hats dancing and laughing.  And a few drunk men who could barely stand up.  We walked in and the men just about died.  They swooped up the Swedish girls and started dancing.  One girl was in their grip for a while so I said to her ¨Girl, do you need help?¨ and she said YES! I got her out of the situation.  We danced and drank weird chicha for a while.  Until the marriage proposal came.  One man fell madly in love with one of the Swedes and asked her to please marry him and then tried to kiss her.  It was all in good fun! We said goodbye and thank you and then hit the road.

As we climbed up the Andes, the talk was Sweden, life, the US, languages, etc.  Then the taxi driver said: Would you like to see a haunted house? And we said: uhhh, no! He said it was on the way and started telling the story.  It was dark that night, clouds and fog swept up the road and the story started:

Outside of the town, Chinchero, there was a brother and sister who chose to live as man and wife.  The town killed them for this.  Their house was on the edge of town on the side of the road….The taxi driver pulls up beside the house, it is ugly and dark…. The sister haunts the road at night enticing taxis to pull over and help her.  In the morning they are found with foam on their mouthes and dead.  The town has tried to burn down the house, but anyone who touches it dies.  The taxi driver had seen her many times and smokes and chews coca whenever he crosses this spot after midnight.  Taxis all gather on one side or the other if they have to cross so they can cross in a caravan.  There is no official count to how many she has killed, but it´s a lot.

WOW! We screamed and shouted the whole time he told the story.  And then shook past the scary spot.  What a night! It was a truly unforgettable day!

Posted by: Elgranviaje | March 5, 2008

The best day so far, Part 2

So we roll into Machu Pichu basically destroyed.  We had drank all of our water on the way up and they were not selling water that day, so….we had to deal.  But the truth is that the view, that place, is so breathtaking it didn´t matter.  I didn´t want to like Machu Pichu.  I will tell the truth that I thought only losers would like it! HAHA I am SERIOUS.  Like it was for conformists or something.  Now I know.  It is truly out of control.  Not just the ruins and how amazingly well preserved they are, but the setting is out of control.  There aren´t words for this place, just pictures.  Which someday you will see if we can ever figure it out. 

We met up with Darren and we walked around and made jokes and got to know the place.  We saw these bunny animals all over, and tons of rocks and doors and ruins.  But the view and just being up there was the most amazing part.

There weren´t too many tourists either which was good.  Then we went down, ate, hung out, were generally out of it.  Then said goodbye to our buddy, Darren and got on the train.  What came next was unexpected and probably one of the funniest nights of my life.  3 swedish girls, 1 taxi, and a horror story! Coming up next!

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