16 Oct 2012

Protests vs Violence vs Protests

This is the picture I took, while running. As you can see the picture is terribly underexposed, because I obviously wasn't focused on taking it. But while not focusing on picture taking, I was also not concentrated on running and I ended up in an impenetrable cloud of tear gas only to be saved by a student who dragged me to a nearby stoop, sprayed my face with perfume, wiped the tears from my face, and shielded me from police buses driving by.

29 Sep 2012

Student Protest: Santiago...Chaos as Usual

Originally published in The Santiago Times

Here is a compilation of photos from two different student protests in Santiago. While often these marches begin peaceful, soon they deteriorate into tear gas and concrete block fights between encaupuchados, hooded vandals, and Carabineros, Chile's national police force.

4 Sep 2012

Day Drunk at La Piojera: Santiago, Chile

La Piojera, a grungy, midday to after hours joint, bustles with a ragtag crowd of locals and foreigners, both young and old. There is a faded tanguero vibe to the place, making the drifting accordian players seem like part of the booze-splattered furniture. The food is grimy and greasy at best, but they specialize in a bizarre cocktail called El Terremoto. Meaning the earthquake, its invention traces back to 1985 after a particularly grand quake inspired one noble Piojera barman. (The rest as they say is history.) While recalling Chile's frequent confrontations with the Richter Scale, El Terremoto undoubtedly references how the earth shakes after imbibing.

Components of El Terremoto from bottom to top:

Vino Pipeño- cheap white wine

Fernet- Potent, medicinal liqueur of Italian origins and popular across Chile and Argentina.

Pineapple Ice Cream- Self explanatory

3 Sep 2012

Gwendy and the Lost Mountain Boys

For a few short weeks of August my role as carefree traveler converted briefly to toilette scrubber, bed changer and night waitress extraordinaire. My company in this time has been for the most part, a pack of kind-hearted, honest climbers from a handful of Latin American countries and a smattering of English speaking ones. We live side by side, sharing tales, foodstuff, advice. I clean their showers, wash their clothes, make them tea or serve them mate in the afternoons. Like the lost boys, they live in limbo in Huaraz, blissfully escaping their real lives for a month or two in which time they can live out their rugged fantasies of conquering mountain peaks alongside their brothers. Their humdrum paying jobs, their roles as spouses or fathers fade into memories that are trumped by the magical countryside around them.


31 Aug 2012

Spirit Monkeys and Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, or let me qualify this statement, the handful of climbers that I have met since I've been in Huaraz, boast a great affinity for monkeys. To a rock climber the reasons are obvious, but for regular humans like myself, any similarity between monkeys and rock climbers had never crossed my mind (Hell, rock climbing itself just entered my radar within the past three weeks).

16 Aug 2012

When Even Takeout is an Adventure

$3.50 Cevichoco

Meaning ceviche (raw fish cooked in salt and lime) and chocho (tough little white beans with the same preparation). The fish and beans swim in a potent lime and chile broth that leaves you sweating and refreshed at the same time. You may notice the glass of homemade passion fruit juice at its side. So many intense flavors at one time...Dorothy you're not in Argentina anymore!

15 Aug 2012

Super Macho and Just a Little Bit Gay: The Secret Lives of Mountain Climbers

Huaraz, Peru is a mountaineers paradise. The town is engulfed from all sides by different mountain ranges. Endless trekking, bouldering, mountain climbing, and summiting are among some of the regions attractions. While you're apt to find the handful of backpackers floating from place to place like most spots in Latin America, it's more common to encounter Peruvians and foreigners alike for whom Huaraz is the final and only destination. Here they'll set up camp for months during the Mountain Summer (which is actually the opposite of the rest of the Southern Hemisphere or the same as northern hemisphere summer), using Huaraz as a base for weeks of trekking and mountain climbing.

4 Aug 2012

Why Ica, Peru is Good for Dune Buggies and Pisco but not Wine

I, the naively optimistic wine traveler, was so excited to visit Peru's wine capital, Ica. I even signed up for a wine tour, a serious splurge. Having learned from my failed wine touring experiences in Tarija, Bolivia, I didn't want to mess this one up.

1 Aug 2012

Another Reason Why the Twos are Terrible...

...eight hour bus rides. The mini sumo-wrestler beside me is just learning how to flex his vocal chords. They are tight and squeaky like new shoes. This is the age where long fits of crying come as a way experimenting with a newfound talent. The tears have lost their tragic inconsolability of younger children and are just capricious and loud.

28 Jul 2012

Gruta de San Pedro

What Lonely Planet called "hardly remarkable," had me, a decidedly novice spelunker in awe. A few kilometers from the tiny town of Sorata, this epic cave runs 400 meters into the ground and has a mysterious and remarkably large lagoon engulfed within its depths. The best part... the spooky and incongruous paddle boats floating in the dark lake. The ominous clicks of hidden bats echo around the space as I heave and transpire in the oppressive humidity.

24 Jul 2012

Adventure Brew Hostel Vortex

This La Paz hostel-cum-brewery-cum-cafe-cum-restaurant does all in its power to supplement any need to ever leave its confines with prepackaged Adventure Brew alternatives. Within its five stories one feels in a different land... it doesn't matter that Adventure Brew is located on the edge of an unsightly highway or inconveniently located outside of the city center. The only thing that matters is what's inside.

21 Jul 2012

Discovering and Delving Into La Paz ....for Travel and Talk

La Paz, the world's highest capital city, teeters along the edges of an exquisite valley at 3660 meters above sea level. La Paz's colonial structures perch along streets that approach being vertical, while the horizon behind them is jagged with stark, snow- capped peaks...click to read the rest.


17 Jul 2012

Meandering Mendoza: A Walking Tour... for Wandering Argentina

Most of Mendoza’s wineries and activities lay outside of town, but make time in your schedule to explore this little city. Its shady tree-lined avenues invite the casual stroll, and unlike Buenos Aires, you can get a feel for many of Mendoza’s different faces within one day.

To read the rest of the article click here


14 Jul 2012

Andean Super Food Beer: Cochabamba

Dining in this dim, middle eastern joint where dearly missed falafel would soon be sliding down my throat, the quinoa beer on the menu caught my eye.

Color and Carnage in Bolivia's Central Marketplaces

Mercado Centrales are quickly becoming my favorite part of Bolivia. These bustling centers of commerce pump and pulse with merchandise, foods --sweet and savory, raw meet, and rainbow colored produce. Cows' heads and pigs' feet, pyramids of multi-colored puddings, juice and fruit salad stations, yogurt dolled out of gigantic tubs, mountains of spongy cheese.

10 Jul 2012

Eatin' on the Streets: Bolivia for Nomadik Nation

Bolivia, if you know where it is (South America, dummies) you know that there’s more to the county than llamas and traditional woven cloths. They also have streets and food. Hence ‘street food’.

Travel writer Gwynne takes us on a quick trip through the streets of Bolivia to show us Bolivian street food culture 101.

To read the whole article as published on nomadik nation click.

9 Jul 2012

Rock Broccoli


Bike and Wine Dreams

There are few expectations as high-set and idyllic as the bike and wine tour. Travelers imagine bucolic scenery, warm afternoon sunlight, crumbly dirt roads amidst vineyards, quaint little wineries abound, and that warm fuzzy feeling of biking about aimlessly with a hot-cheeked wine buzz.

29 Jun 2012

A Stroll in Phallus Valley


Lost and Found: Iruya

The mythic city of Iruya hangs at the end of my imagination, thanks to a handful of travelers I've met southward bound. "Are you going to Iruya?" they'd ask hopefully. And then the inevitable ecstatic sigh ensues, "Ahhh Iruya" they repeat.

Needless to say, Iruya was number one on my list to the north. A tiny little colonial town squished onto an unlikely hilltop, walking up and down Iruya's streets is like training for a marathon, part based on their steepness and part on the town's altitude.

24 Jun 2012

La Casona del Molino: Salta's Last Greatest Peña

Northern Argentina's local folk music is called peña, and involves guitars and charangas (the mini guitar historically made out an armadillo's shell), deep drums made from hollowed out tree trunks and a combo of sheep and goat skin, and sometimes bamboo flutes. Notoriously the capital of peña, Salta in general has become rather touristy and the peñas reflect that. Nowadays many are more than borderline tacky, featuring over-the-top photo slide shows, bad flute covers of western pop music, and strangely clad dancers.

Lesson of the Day: Under-confidence in One's Language Ability

Upon learning the meaning of cardones (a certain type of cactus and not what I had assumed it to meant, cardinal) it became strikingly clear why, after driving miles through el Parque Nacional de los Cardones, I saw thousands of cactus and not a single cardinal.

20 Jun 2012

Middle of Somewhere (Part II): Los Molinos

Argentina's Route 40 that stretches north to south across the entire country, is virtually impassable without an all-terrain vehicle between the two little towns of Angastaco and Los Molinos in Salta. This dirt road sports fierce curves, sandy trenches, and river or two that directly bisect it. As such, no public bus goes between the two towns. Luckily enough for me however, a group of school children from Angastaco goes to school in Molinos during the week. I happened to be in Angastaco on a Friday meaning that all of the town's sturdy pick-up trucks were off to the little town of Molinos to fetch the 30 some-odd kids coming home for the weekend.

17 Jun 2012

Middle of Somewhere: Angostaca

A two-hour bus ride from Cafayate, along a winded dirt road through devastating landscape, leaves me at the corner of the dusty little plaza in Angostaca, Salta. Population: 1,200. Number of restaurants: 3. Hotels: 2. Gas Stations: 1. No: Internet, Cell Service etc... The kind of town where even the dogs know you're not from around.

Land Rights: Cafayate

On one of my first days in Cafayate, I wandered up a dirt road on the outskirts of town towards a mountain stream said to boast a number of waterfalls along its path. The two hour walk took me past a number of humble, mud brick homes the same color as their sepia surroundings, acres upon acres of vineyards and a handful of wineries. When all this came to an end, I was left once again with the barren desert scape, speckled with yellowed-out grasses, low shrubs and regal cactus.

13 Jun 2012

Ode to a Lady like Llama

Oh, you lady like llama

how elegant and smart you seem

with your coquettish batted lash

and your moon brown eyes

and your corn buck teeth

How you nibble my palm

with your two grey tongues

and your three soft lips

Oh llama, of my fluttersome heart



The excursion offers a simple solution to a tourist's logistical complication of how and where and when. For this reason, you're bound to encounter a inharmonious combination of people with unique motivations and goals for their travels. This was my observation on my first excursion ever.

First, there is an Italian couple in their early twenties, feverishly enamored with one-another yet indifferent to the stunning scenery. He spends most of the tour inventing new angles at which to capture his love on film, while she works on her blasé stare into the distance. In the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), a tremendous rock formation created by an ancient waterfall, she lies down and stretches across the rocks on her side, posing for her eager camera man.

10 Jun 2012

Word of the Day: Chivo

The word chivo literally translates to 'male goat'. In Argentine spanish (at least, but I cannot attest to the vernacular of other goat domesticating or non-goat domesticating Spanish speakers), chivo is used in an array of other contexts. Meter el chivo- put in the goat, refers to someone who cheats on their partner, and pasar el chivo- pass the goat, is often used by television and radio stars to self-publicize other the information about their

Cheese Me in Tafi


The delicious day took me on yet another bus outside of the little mountain town of Tafi del Valle. Tafi is now the summer escape for lowlanders driven out of the city of San Miguel de Tucuman by the intolerable heat. But originally, Tafi was founded by Jesuits with a ferocious desire to make cheese. A half and hour outside of the town by bus, you'll find Estancia las Carreras where the descendants of the original owners have been cheesing it up since 1779.

7 Jun 2012