Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23, 2005

Perhaps it's a bit of last night's whiskey still burning in my veins, and maybe it's something about being home in San Diego for the first time in a year, but I'm feeling rather nostalgic at the moment. I was looking back at some old posts on the blog and thinking that it was right around this time that I arrived in Barcelona two years ago. And then I realized... it was actually on this very date, August 23, that Nicole and I landed in BCN and I met Marco and George for the first time. Well, we met George first, because Marco was sleeping off a night similar to the one I had last night.

Anyway I remember wondering as I settled into my room that day and started unpacking what life might bring in the next two years. I was certainly a bit nervous, definitely knew I would miss some people back home, and absolutely oblivious to just how difficult the first year of school would be... and that's probably for the best, or I wouldn't have done it at all! But now, with two years of memories (some better than others) and a couple hundred friends from all over the world, I'm of course very happy that I did it. I wouldn't trade these two years for all the tea in China. And anyway, what would I do with all that tea?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Noelle Show, now in Atlanta. One day only!

Modern travel is an exercise in emotional control. Witness the emotional rollercoaster on which I rode en route from Lima to Atlanta:

1. Arrive at Lima Airport, where the line to check in at Delta is like 6 hours long. Lower lip quivers.

2. I'm PLATINUM, biatch! Skip to business queue, wait 5 minutes, get free pass to fancy lounge. Big smile. (Especially after free wifi is secured!)

3. Time to board! Cool I'm Zone 2! This means I will definitely have space for my wheelie bag. I win!

4. I get called to board quite quickly, give the guy my boarding pass and I'm about to board. NOT. A last-minute security desk has been hastily installed right in between the ticket desk and the jetway. And the woman decides I look like trouble. So much for getting space in the overhead bin. I open all my stuff AGAIN as this woman paws through my trashy magazines. She asks me stupid questions about if I have coins in my bag three times. Ugh! My rollercoaster has hit rock bottom and I'm seriously peeved. I huff my way onto the plane behind like 60 other people, a little black cloud forming over my head.

5. Score! My seat is in front! Doh! This means I REALLY need the overhead bin, not just for my wheelie bag but for everything. I find space a few seats back and sit down, spending the next 15 minutes dodging swinging bags and being stepped on. But it's ok... in 15 minutes it will be over and I have more legroom than anyone. Things are looking up.

6. A woman appears at the door and I hear her say my name. Instant panic. They're going to pull me off the plane for being rude to the last-minute security lady! I will never get to San Diego! I avert my eyes and try to camouflage myself into the seat. But she looks right at me and says... "Miss Sadler, your seat is in business class, please follow me." HAHAHAHA security lady! You thought you could get me! Current state: somewhere between hysteria and delirium.

7. I don't remember any of the flight, really. In the first few minutes I helped an ancient Peruvian man with shaking hands and hearing aids fill out his immigration forms. Then I konk out for the rest of the flight. I wake up for long enough for the old man to tell me I'm an angel, which leads me to help him try to get a wheelchair after getting off the plane. And this is where I get really pissed. People working in Atlanta airport are so rude. As I walked with the man toward immigration I asked two people WHO WERE PUSHING WHEELCHAIRS TOWARD OUR GATE if they might be for him or if they might radio for someone to send one for him. One flat out ignored me. The next yelled over her shoulder something unintelligible. I finally found a bunch of wheelchairs with an airport guy standing nearby, and when I asked if he could help the man through security with a wheelchair, he suggested that I take care of the man all the way to his next flight. Hmmm. Interesting. First of all, he is Peruvian, I am not. We can't even wait in the same immigration line. Second, I don't know this man. I'm happy to help him, but I'm afraid I can't be responsible for both of us making our flights to separate cities, including collecting and rechecking everyone's luggage. Fortunately the guy understood and now I can only hope that the old Peruvian guy is on his way to New York. The immigration people were even more rude, if that's possible. My blood was boiling by the time I got to baggage claim....

8. Where I saw a beagle sniffing everyone's stuff. No! He will find my contraband ham sandwich! I am so illegal! Minor panic.

9. But my bags are the first ones off! Instant relief as I skirt the beagle (and laugh at him, just a little) and sling my bags onto a trolley and head for bag recheck and security. Woo hoo, ever closer to San Diego now!

10. Security, by the way, smells absolutely disgusting. I am grumpy as I am told to take off practically all my clothes and open every bag I have with me. But I get less grumpy once I think about the fact that I only have to endure this agony for a few minutes. The security people who work there have to smell stinky feet (we're talking cheese feet here) with absolutely no ventilation for EIGHT HOURS. I pity them, even though they annoy me.

11. And that brings me to here, gate A30, stocked with trashy magazines the likes of which I haven't seen in 6 weeks, and full of my contraband Peruvian ham sandwich (illegal stuff just TASTES better!) and a big coffee. Only four and a half hours separate me from 2 weeks in paradise. I'm happy to be back in summer, happy to be back in San Diego, happy to have two more weeks still before.... work starts! Current mood: sheer fright! Hahaha.

A final note: On my way to my gate I saw an enormously obese man wearing a humongous t-shirt that read, in big block letters, "SIZE DOES MATTER." Shocking.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


It's 8am in Santiago de Chile airport. I just arrived here from Buenos Aires (EZE airport - who knew Easy E would one day have an airport named for him??! Awesome.) and I'm about 10 minutes away from boarding my next flight to Lima.

I'm surrounded by rescue workers and EMTs, all of whom are waiting to board the same flight as me and who are clearly headed to Pisco and Chincha, where this week's earthquake hit the hardest. But these people aren't from Chile. They are from Madrid. How cool is that? Traveling all this way to help people in need. Much respect.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Farewell BA, Hello Lima!

Hard to believe, but my two-week family vacation in Argentina and Uruguay is coming to an end, and in 24 hours I'll be on a flight back to Lima, where I'll spend the weekend before heading home to San Diego. What can I say ... Argentina and Uruguay are awesome (even if I've still only managed to see little parts of each) and I'm certainly planning to come back.

What have I learned on my trip?
1. I LOVE SOUTH AMERICA. I want to live here! If my company decided to post me in Buenos Aires for a while, I would definitely not complain.
2. Uruguay is THE most underrated country on earth. What a little gem! I'm sure they do this on purpose. They don't want everyone coming to their cool little place. We should have done the same with San Diego... instead everyone bragged about how great it was and there is too much traffic.
3. Meat is good. In general. And down here in particular. If you're a vegetarian and you come here, I'd suggest just closing your eyes and chewing for the extent of your visit. It's too good to miss.
4. Winter is cold here. Very cold. I should have gone skiing.
5. But it's warm in the jungle! Our trip to the Iguazu Falls was like a vacation from our vacation. And it was brilliant. Definitely a bit overcrowded in places, but the second morning we got up really early and had almost the whole of Isla San Martin all to ourselves. I was tempted to strip down and jump around like a native but I resisted.
6. Family trips are the best. As long as your family is cool... I guess I'm lucky.

Photos and more to come.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blog on Vacation: Argentina & Uruguay

So the blog is resting right now... sorry. I know, I still haven't updated anything about Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the crazy antics that ensued at Aguas Calientes (what a misnomer, by the way) or my violent illness that prevented me from joining Benj & Anders on the trek.

But that's because I'm now in Uruguay with my parents and my sister, having arrived yesterday from Argentina. We've been kinda busy sightseeing and gorging ourselves on steak and wine. But I've been taking plenty of pictures, and there are lots of stories to tell, so I promise to update at some point.

I've also been occupying myself with the Joost Blog and so if you're really having withdrawal, you can go there for some fresh entertainment. Actually, I'd appreciate it if you would!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Peru Part 1: Titicaca

Wherein we learn the following:
1. Lan Peru has nice new planes and fantastic service, but they can change your flights at the last second. Literally.
2. You don't have to be an American to be a gringo. I had to fight Benj on this one big time. I won. French people aren't gringos? As if!!!
3. You can get high, like 4200M high, without drugs. And it's gloooooorious! (After the headache goes away.)
4. Taking photos can cost you. 1 Nuevo Sol, to be exact. So have change handy!
5. Every song on earth has been covered by a Peruvian flute group. Makes excellent muzak, and a fantastic game to play when you're at breakfast... name that tune... I challenge anyone to a duel, I am the master.

So Benjamin and I started our trip rather uneventfully. Just kidding. Chaos ensued before we even got on the plane. Because as we were waiting to board, I had a strange feeling... don't ask me why. I asked Benj to go to the desk to see if everything was all set and next thing I knew the gate agent was crossing out the flight numbers and seats on our boarding passes and writing in new ones by hand. He then told us to RUN not walk to a different gate upstairs because we had been put on an earlier flight that was leaving in about 90 seconds.

There we met 2 disgruntled gate agents who were really pissed off when we asked to have our seats together, as we'd had before the scribbling-on-the-boarding-passes incident. We were told huffily that the flight was overbooked and that we should be happy we were on it at all. When we explained that we were on the flight leaving 10 minutes later and had never asked to switch, a smile appeared, the demeanor changed, and 2 seats miraculously became available together.... in the exit row, no less. Airlines work in mysterious ways.

All this was fine until we landed in Juliaca, where the person who was supposed to meet us at arrivals was nowhere to be found. Nor was he reachable by mobile. A very kind lady offered to try him for us, had no luck, and then said we could go in her bus with her group and that she'd drop us at the hotel. Alone I never would have agreed. But with Big Brave Benji along for me to protect, well, we went for it. We didn't realize until we finally met our host Filipa at the hotel a few hours later that the problem had been caused by our last-second flight change. Oops.

Arrival at Juliaca. Altitude pills were consumed beforehand!

En route from Juliaca to Puno

Perurail! (Which will play a part in our story later, of course.)

Ladies in the town of Puno

This mode of transportation is only bested by the mototaxi... how I wish we'd taken one.

Saturday morning Benj and I wandered, like two white giants, into this market. Miles and miles of produce, meat, and furniture. This is a market for the locals, not like the touristy ones you find in Cusco.

At the market

Saturday afternoon we went to Sillustani to see some ancient burial sites. Beautiful scenery, breathtaking views of Lake Titicaca, and our first encounter with French tourists... we didn't realize we'd be surrounded by them for the rest of the trip!

This cost me one sol. (At least he smiled.)

So did this. (Maybe a smile costs 2.)

This one was free!

On Sunday we took a full-day boat trip to visit the Islas Flotantes (floating islands) inhabited by the Uros people and then to Isla Taquile. It would have been just a half-day trip but honestly these are The Slowest Boats In The World, so it takes 3 hours each way to and from Isla Taquile.

The floating islands are absolutely incredible, though we did have a strange sensation there. Not seasickness... something to do with the over-exploitative nature of the growing tourism business here. Benj and I both felt uncomfortable with it on several occasions.

I bought this! She made it! Blue flamingos! How cool!

They start learning the hard sell at an early age.

Fortunately Benj is a master negotiator. Two for one!

We left our floating island on a cool reed boat.

Like this.

From Isla Taquile we had this amazing view of the Bolivian Cordilleras.

And of this Telefonica satellite dish. Which tells me 2 things. 1) Telefonica is everywhere. 2) This island is pretty well-connected, and not just by slow-moving vessels.

Ah yes, here I am.

And here is Benji, my fantastic travel companion.

On the way back to Puno, around 5pm.

One last view of the floating islands as we return to our hotel.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Watch Joost!!!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my recent trip through southern Peru with Benj, Anders & Quentin, it's time for a little cross-promotion.

I have been asked to lend my multimedia mania and my blogging skills to the all new JOOST BLOG, and I'd appreciate it if you'd check it out. So far I'm just at post #1, but I'll be updating it regularly, and I promise it'll be good!

But not only will the blog be good, so will Joost itself. If you've never heard of this cool new internet-based TV application, it's time to jump on the bandwagon because it's pretty amazing. It's straight-forward and user-friendly and will be even more so when the blog kicks off, since the idea of the whole thing is to help people navigate their way through all Joost has to offer. And just like with my regular blog, you'll be able to make comments and provide feedback, so if there is a particular program that you'd like to bring to my attention and make sure everyone sees, you can easily let us all know! Pretty cool, huh?

So check it out. And thanks in advance for reading and watching!