Monthly Archives: August 2006

Home At Last

August 13 - October 10, 2006
Days 319-377

By the time I woke up on the bus this morning, we were pulling into Indianapolis. I made some phone calls and arranged for my aunt to pick me up from Chicago. A few hours later, my bus ride ended. For the entire trip, the bus stations got nicer and nicer as I went further north. The station in Chicago was nice, clean, and much better organized than the ones in Florida.

My aunt drove me into Wisconsin and we talked a lot about my trip along the way. It was nice to see a familiar face. We got to my parents' house where I saw my parents for the first time in nearly a year. That marked the end of my trip. For the next few months, I'm officially between adventures. Stay tuned for updates to this website and my next trip, which will begin in October.

Riding Through The South

August 12, 2006
Day 318

Greyhound buses suck. There's no TV, no radio, not much legroom, and they don't give you food or drinks, even for rides of more than a day. The cheapest buses in Chile and Argentina give you all of those things, and they cost way less. Getting on a Greyhound bus showed me why most Americans refuse to ride buses despite high gas prices. If only they had nicer buses here, maybe some people would stop driving so much.

For the first few hours of my ride today, I got to listen to the driver talk about how tired he was. I guess getting on the intercom and telling us all that he was falling asleep was his way of not falling asleep. At that point, I didn't care if the driver was awake or asleep, though. I just wanted to get some sleep for myself, but I couldn't with the intercom going constantly.

Once we got to Orlando, my outlook improved greatly. The people became friendlier, the scenery was nice, and I was able to stretch out across two seats because my new bus was only half full. I started to remember that there are lots of good things about this country. Everything is immaculate, there's toilet paper in the bathrooms and you can actually throw it into the toilet, you can drink water right out of the tap, and the road system is excellent. You can just get on the freeway here and drive all day. That simply isn't possible in South America, even in the richer countries. Prices even got a little more reasonable once I got outside of the Miami area.

I rode the bus all day and made several more stops: Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, and lots of other places in between. I met a lot of people on the bus, including several truck drivers who were on their way to pick up their trucks. I liked the camaraderie of my fellow bus drivers. It brought me out of my initial culture shock rather quickly.

The day flew by quickly, despite spending it on a cramped bus. By the time night fell, I was in Kentucky about to head into Tennessee. Only a few more states to go until I got home.

A Stranger In My Own Country

August 11, 2006
Day 317

I was able to sleep in the airport until about 6:30 this morning when the noise of people coming and going got to be too much. It was still too early to start making phone calls, so I got a cup of coffee and worked on my computer for a few hours.

My plans with Rohit didn't work out. Of course it was completely understandable and I must offer congratulations to him and his wife. Still, I had to figure out something else to do. I got a calling card for $10 that claimed to be only five cents per minute figuring I'd need to make several calls throughout the day. One thing I noticed right away was that none of the pay phones had callback numbers, so I knew that every call I made would be on my bank.

There were about five information desks in the airport, and I walked to every one of them, but they were all closed. It's very frustrating when you can't even get basic information like a map and bus schedules from an airport. Finally, at about 10:00, one of the information desks opened. I got a map of the city but discovered that I was nowhere near I-75, the route I wanted to take north, so hitchhiking was looking more difficult.

I took a city bus, which was nice but completely empty except for me, to the Greyhound station. I guess that's the only way to get a bus out of town. I was thinking of visiting my friend Mike, so I asked the lady at the desk how much it would be to go to St Petersburg. "41" was her response.

"Dollars?" My eyeballs just about popped out. I spent less than that going all the way through Peru in the last two weeks. St Petersburg is only a few hours from Miami.

"Yes." The lady at the desk must've thought I was crazy.

I decided to think it over and take a walk around. Except that wasn't possible because none of the streets had sidewalks. Cars furiously rushed by me, and there was absolutely no room for me to walk on the side of the road. It was too dangerous even to walk down the street, so I turned back. All of the streets I tried seemed to be built without pedestrians in mind, but I eventually found a safer road with no traffic and saw a sign for "TriRail." I figured it was a train station, so I walked toward it.

TriRail was indeed a train station, but it only went north into the suburbs. I figured there had to be something else for me to do, and my best idea was to use the Internet. Wherever I went in South America, I could always fall back on the Internet to help me out. A terrorist attack was stopped at the last minute yesterday, and I heard that a lot of people were canceling their flights, either out of fear or because they didn't want to deal with inconveniences. Maybe there would be cheap flights available. Maybe I'd find a better bus or train home. Maybe somebody would offer me a ride. I had put out an ad on a rideshare website, and had already gotten two offers. One was leaving too soon, and the other too late, but maybe I'd get another one. The Internet always seemed to solve my problems. Until now.

At the train station, I asked if there was anywhere I could use the Internet in the vicinity. Nothing. I felt completely trapped. This is one of the richest countries in the world. How could there not be Internet access available anywhere? It seemed unfathomable to me.

I was already at the train station, so I figured I'd go somewhere. I decided on West Palm Beach, the second-last stop on the line, partly because it sounded nice, but also because "Mangonia," the last stop, gave me a visual of being abducted.

Just like my bus experience earlier in the day, the train was nice, but almost empty. The entire ride took me through city after city. I saw countless residential, commercial, and industrial zones, but something seemed out of place. There were no people. We went through neighborhood after neighborhood, thousands of houses in all, but nobody was walking around. We even went past a beautiful park with baseball diamonds (something I hadn't seen since starting my trip), playgrounds, and walking trails through a wooded area, but still there were no people. Granted it was the middle of a weekday, but still. I began to wonder if anyone actually lived in Miami.

When I got to West Palm Beach, I went into the Amtrak office. I didn't get many opportunities to travel on trains in South America, but when I did, I enjoyed them more than buses. I figured taking a train back home would brighten my mood. No luck for me again. The trains were all booked for the next few days. I didn't feel like burning through $150 per day just to wait for a train, so I had to come up with a better idea.

On my way out of the train station, a stuck-up girl started to complain to me about the heat. Come to think of it, it was quite hot outside. It was way hotter even than Ecuador, and that's on the freakin' Equator! Still, what was I supposed to do about it? All she had to do was walk in the door next to her and sit in the air conditioning, but instead, she felt the need to sit outside and bitch and moan to anyone who would listen. And as if that wasn't annoying enough, a young, able-bodied man dressed in nice clean clothes asked me for a quarter so he could "buy a soda." It's obscene that a healthy man in a rich country would resort to begging for money at train stations rather than getting a job.

There just had to be Internet access somewhere in town, so I started walking through the stifling heat with my heavy backpack like a man on a mission. I also had a backup plan. The wireless card for my laptop broke awhile back, but I was finally in an area where I could buy a new one. If there was no Internet cafe, at least I could find an electronics store, buy a new wireless card, then look for a McDonald's or some other restaurant that offered free wireless access.

While walking around, I saw enough excess consumerism to make me vomit. Expensive clothing boutiques and trendy restaurants were everywhere. Everyone drove nice cars. I couldn't believe the number of BMW's, Porsche's, and even Ferrari's rolling down the road. I even saw a kid about 16 years old driving a convertible Mercedes worth around $90,000. Everyone seemed to be flashing their wealth like it was nobody's business.

A few weeks ago when I was in La Paz, I was eating some bread that I had bought for about twelve cents for breakfast. An old lady approached me with her hands stretched out. She looked about 70 and just clinging to life. She must have weighed all of 80 pounds, could barely walk, and her eyes were almost completely white. She was probably nearly blind. I had a few rolls left that I probably wouldn't eat anyway, so I gave her one. It only cost me about two cents, but I was moved by her reaction to my "generosity." She thanked me as best she could, but it was barely audible. Then she smiled softly and practically started crying. I had more bread next to me, but she didn't even ask for it. She just turned around and started nibbling, content with the gift she had just received.

And now I had to deal with people driving expensive cars for all distances longer than half a block, complaining about the hot weather while sitting right next to an air-conditioned building, and begging for money despite being physically fit and dressed with clothes straight out of the mall.

I kept walking around looking for some kind of solution that would take me out of this place. The local people were of no help. I'd occasionally see them scurrying from one store to another, but none of them stayed outside long enough for me to start a conversation with them. The few people I did see outside stared me like I was an animal at the zoo. One of them even commented loudly on his cellphone, "This is the craziest thing I've seen all day." They stared at me more than the natives in the remote sections of Bolivia I visited. I felt like a stranger in my own country.

After a few hours of walking I found a McDonald's, and I thought I spotted an electronics store in a strip mall, but it turned out that they sold everything but electronics. The heat was finally getting to me so I walked back to the bus station. I asked how much it would be to take Greyhound to Chicago, and as expected, it would be over $100. I said I'd think about it and asked once again about Internet access. The guy at the counter thought I could use it at the library. Of course!

I walked over to the library and got an hour on the Internet for free. I looked up plane ticket prices, but at the last minute, they were over twice as expensive as normal. That was OK with me, though, because I don't really like flying anyway. Everything changes so quickly when you fly. You walk off the plane and the entire world around you is different, but you missed everything between. I checked my email and found a ride offer up to Chicago, so I figured I'd either take that ride or go with Greyhound.

I tried to call the rideshare guy from a payphone, but his number was long distance, despite being in the same metropolitan area. I used my phone card and discovered that I only had five minutes left. I paid $10 for that card and talked on it for about 5 seconds because I kept getting peoples' voicemails. What a ripoff! Anyway, the guy's job interview in Chicago got changed to later in the week, and he wasn't going to invite me over to his place for four days. Nothing seemed to be working out in my favor.

I was too tired and sick of Miami, so I decided to take the "easy" way out and bought a Greyhound ticket. I got a ticket for 9:30 PM but still had a few hours to kill. I tried to leave my backpack behind the Greyhound desk but the guy working there wouldn't let me. "All luggage must stay with the passenger until the bus leaves," he said to me like he was reading from a script. He was more apathetic than anyone I dealt with in South America. In fact, I couldn't believe how poor the customer service was in Miami in general.

I walked around some more and came back to the bus station in plenty of time to catch my 9:30 bus. When the bus showed up, I walked outside to see the driver yelling at everyone. It was complete chaos. The driver kept telling everybody to stand back and that he wouldn't allow any luggage to go on the bus without a tag. I hadn't seen such a tag before, so I didn't know what he was talking about. The driver was clearly too irate to field any of my questions, so I walked back in and asked the guy behind the desk how I could acquire a luggage ticket. "You'll have to wait in line like everyone else," he said. That just about set me off. I already waited in line when I bought my bus ticket. Why didn't he just give me the god-damned luggage ticket then? It took half an hour to get to the front of the line, but the bus was long gone by then. It didn't really matter, though, because it was full anyway. I had no chance of getting on that bus, even though I had a ticket for it.

The next bus didn't leave until 11:50, so I did the only thing I could do and waited for it. I had my luggage ticket, so I figured I'd get on no problem this time. At 11:00 the bus station closed and I was forced to wait outside. A security guard was there, but he mainly chose to wait the night out inside rather than walk around. Immediately I noticed a lot of shady figures all around me. A few people appeared to be waiting for buses, but bums started coming in and sleeping on benches, and lots of people drove up, looked around suspiciously, and drove off again. This was clearly a bad situation to be in.

At 11:50, the next bus showed up, but it was full too. Two people got off, but there were about a dozen of us waiting to get on. Everyone started pushing and shoving to try to get on. There was absolutely no order to things. The driver told me I'd have to wait another hour along with the ten other people at the station and hope to force my way onto the next bus. I really hated Greyhound at that point. How could they sell me a ticket but not even give me a seat? The entire idea seemed ludicrous to me. Bolivia, where the average annual income is only about $1000, has better organization than that.

I kept waiting in the parking lot and realized why I hated Miami so much. I've seen plenty of rich people before and never had a problem with them. I also have seen a lot of poverty, but I've rarely let it get to me. But the thing about Miami is that you can have a place like the bus station, which is more poverty-stricken and dangerous than just about anywhere I visited on my entire trip, and a five-minute walk away is more opulence than I've ever seen. You have rich and poor side-by-side, the rich aren't willing to anything about the poor, and the poor see the rich right next to them and turn into criminals. I was certain I was going to get robbed sitting there with all of my worldly possessions in the parking lot. It was a horrible place, and I wanted nothing more than to leave, but I couldn't because Greyhound is run by a bunch of idiots who don't care about anything other than taking your money. Why else would they overbook their buses, knowing that some people would have to wait all night for another one?

At 1:05, another bus came, but surprise, surprise, it was full. A few people nearly got into a fight trying to force their way onto the bus, and I just didn't even want to get involved. Part of me wanted the buses to be full until morning so I could tell Greyhound what I thought of them and start walking home. Seriously, I rather would've done anything other than keep sitting there. In over ten months of traveling through South America, I never got treated so badly, and I never felt such a strong hatred for anywhere I visited.

Later, a bus heading toward Miami dropped off a lady. She was about fifty years old, was incredibly skinny, wore high heals, tight jeans, and a low-cut blouse with long sleeves. As soon she got off the bus, she started talking at a million miles per hour about how unfair it was that someone had to get kicked off the bus because it was full and she got picked. She stared babbling uncontrollably to the security guard, who sat back patiently and listened. I couldn't believe how wired she seemed to be at two in the morning. Eventually she rolled up her sleeves and I saw red marks all the way up and down her arm. Great, now there was a crack whore on the premises along with the thugs and bums.

At nearly 3:00, another bus showed up and for the first time all night, it wasn't full. When we pulled away, the only people left other than the sleeping bums were the crack whore and the security guard, who were having a conversation on the only bench with nobody sleeping on it.

The Perfect Day To Fly

August 10, 2006
Day 316

Today was my big day. Time to fly home. In many ways, it snuck up on me quickly. Maybe I was just mentally putting aside the fact that my trip was about to end. Or maybe it was the knowledge that the next week in the US would be as unpredictable as any week I spent in South America. Only it turned out to be even more unpredictable than I had expected.

Amongst my pre-departure tasks was checking my email one last time. My friend Rohit was supposed to meet me at the airport, but I learned from an email that his wife had gone into labor, so that was no longer possible. Obviously I hoped all went well and tried to think of another plan. It turned out that I had a lot of time to think today.

I walked to the airport in plenty of time for my first flight to Panama City and started the long process of waiting to check in. The line didn't go anywhere for over half an hour. Someone told me that there was only one flight on my airline this afternoon, so everyone in line would be on my plane. So there was no way I'd miss my flight because of the long check-in line and all I had to do was wait. And wait I did.

When the line finally started moving, a lady working for the airline started shouting "Anyone continuing to the United States?"

I told her that I was and she inspected my luggage.

"Is that all you have?"

"Yes, just my backpack to check in, and a book and a bottle of water to carry on."

"Very good, but you'll have to drink the water now."

I never seemed to remember not being able to carry water onto an airplane. In fact, I once read that you should drink lots of water during your flight because airplane air is drier than the driest desert.

"Am I still allowed to read on the plane?" I asked sarcastically, not understanding the seriousness of the situation.

"Yes, that's still OK, but all carry-on luggage needs to go under the plane. It's a new order from the US government."

OK, whatever.

It took over an hour to get to the front of the line. When I finally got there, the same lady checked me in. She asked if I had read the news today. I told her I hadn't. Then she explained the thwarted terror plot to me. Details were still pretty sketchy, but it seemed that the US government was on edge and didn't want to take any chances. That's why they weren't allowing any carry-on luggage. It was going to be one of those days.

While waiting to board the plane, I heard some kids playing near me. I glanced in their direction and saw six boys, all around eight years old, laughing and being encouraged by an adult. I didn't think anything of it, but then I got up to go to the bathroom (I had to down an entire bottle of water just to get through security). When I walked past them, I noticed a chessboard. I thought maybe they were just using the pieces like action figures, but then I noticed a timer. They were actually playing a game, faster than anyone I've ever seen play chess before. Each move took two seconds or less. They must have been a bunch of child prodigies. I thought about challenging them to a game, but I knew they'd destroy me within five minutes, so I just watched in awe. That's not exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to see waiting to board a plane.

My first flight left on time and went without a hitch. It was only two hours to Panama City, and the coach section, while very simple by American standards, was far nicer than most of the buses I'd ridden on my trip. We began our descent over the ocean, and solid didn't appear until we were close to landing. Even when we were over land, all I could see was jungle. At first it seemed strange that there were no houses around, but then we landed and everyone clapped. People always seem to clap here as if to thank the pilot for not crashing us.

At the airport, I had about an hour to kill before my next flight to Miami. I walked through an electronics store and marveled at the prices. The memory cards I had paid $200 for before I left were now only $70. Either technology had advanced very quickly while I was gone or that store was just really cheap. I began to wonder what other new advances I had missed out on.

I sat down in the boarding area and waited. And waited some more. There seemed to be a lot of confusion over how to board the passengers because my plane was going to the United States. Rumors began spreading about the terror plot. Like me, most people had gathered bits and pieces of information, but nobody had the complete story.

Eventually, the employees reached a consensus that it was indeed OK to have carry-on luggage, but no liquids would be allowed. They walked around the waiting area, asking people if they had any liquids with them. I heard conversations like "Is fingernail polish too liquidy?" "What about lipstick?" "Toothpaste?" The employees began filling up clear plastic bags with any questionable items to throw underneath the plane. I seemed to be the only person not carrying at least five bottles of some sort of liquid with me. The process was long and slow.

We finally started boarding the plane after we were already supposed to be in the air, but we couldn't just start walking aboard. Instead, the airline employees donned rubber gloves and began meticulously inspecting everyone's luggage for any forbidden items. I just sat back and waited while the line slowly inched forward.

After about an hour, the line finally died down and I jumped in. When I got to the front, the employee seemed surprised that I wasn't carrying anything.

"No luggage at all?"


"OK, continue."

The plane was over an hour late, but everyone was calm. They all seemed to understand that it was a necessary delay. Then again, flying at night meant that there probably weren't many antsy business travelers trying to make it to an important meeting on time.

When I got to Miami, I was greeted by a long passport control line, just as I had expected. The Homeland Security employee had a lot of questions for me, like exactly where had I been. He had never heard of the Falkland Islands, but that didn't surprise me. I gave him a brief explanation: 3000 people, 600,000 sheep, big war in 1982. When I told him I'd been gone over ten months, he asked if I was a millionaire. If only he knew. At my last stop in Peru, I was paying $3 for a hotel room 50 meters from the ocean, and I thought that was expensive after traveling in Bolivia. That conversation would've lasted way too long to have with a passport agent, so I let it go.

The final step in the airport security process was customs. I picked up my backpack and waited in line. The customs lady in charge of my line was terribly slow, explaining in painstaking detail to everyone that they had to walk to the right in order to exit the airport. There were still about a dozen people in my line when I noticed the other line was now empty. The customs guy shouted "Come on, do you wanna be here all night?" In fact, that was looking like a distinct possibility. I moved to his line and he waved me through without even looking at my customs form. I was free to go.

It was now after 1:00 AM and the info desk was closed. I got a brochure listing taxi prices, but a taxi to downtown was over $50. I didn't want to disturb Rohit in his life-changing moment, I didn't have any other friends in town, and I didn't have a map of the city or any info about buses, so I figured my best bet would be to hitchhike to St Petersburg, where I had another friend. But 1:00 AM was not the appropriate time to do such a thing.

As I walked through the airport, I saw a bunch of people sleeping and decided to join them. The airport employees didn't seem to mind people sleeping there, but the airport was not exactly the ideal place to have a snooze. The chairs were uncomfortable, the floors were hard, there were bright lights everywhere, the air conditioning made it cold, and every thirty seconds there was a loud, repetitive announcement either about airport security or telling everyone what time it was. About the only thing the airport didn't do was hire someone to fart on you every time you dozed off. I had a few weapons at my disposal, though: An air mattress as comfortable as a bed, a warm sleeping bag, earplugs, an eye mask, and the knowledge that I had been through much worse. Yeah, that time I was on a rickety bus in a remote area of Paraguay on a gravel road for two days straight was a lot worse than this. After my long day, I had no problem falling asleep to a deafening announcement that it was 2:30 in the morning.

One Last Stop

August 9, 2006
Day 315

Today I took the last bus of my trip from Mancora, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The trip lasted over eight hours, so I got over halfway through my new book, Prey by Michael Crichton, a scary look at nanotechnology gone bad. I was happy when I scored it at a book exchange, but I was hoping it would last me all the way home. Now it looks like I'll be looking for a new book in a day or two.

Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador, but luckily the bus station and airport are within a few blocks of each other. I checked into the only hotel close to them both. I didn't have a lot of time for sightseeing, but Ecuador seems a lot more modern than Peru. I'm back in the land of shopping malls, fast food, and people driving nice cars. I'm also getting used to using dollars a day early. I'm not entirely sure why the official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar, but I've gotten severely conflicting stories from the various people I've asked. I'll have to get the real story from the Internet, the only source that never lies.

A Relaxing End To My Trip

August 6-8, 2006
Day 312-314

Fransisco, Robyn, and I took a bus to Piura and had a look around. The Lonely Planet says that it's a small colonial city centered around a plaza with a large church, but most of the old architecture was destroyed in an earthquake. Gee, that could describe just about any city in Peru. We only stayed for breakfast and decided to try and find a nice place to chill out for a few days.

We ended up going to Mancora, a small beach town along the northern coastline. Right away, I loved it. Everyday the weather was hot but not too hot without a cloud in the sky. There were lots of tourists, but not too many gringos, and the locals were friendly. Right away, I noticed a thriving community of hippies who sell jewelry for a few hours a day and hang out on the beach the rest of the time. It was impossible to be in a bad mood because nobody in town had a care in the world.

I ended up sticking around Mancora for three days. There were no great adventures, but I made a lot of friends and generally had a good time. With my trip coming to a close, my motivation to do spectacular things was gone. But really, given my time constraints, my only choices were to stay in Mancora or go to Guayaquil for a few days. That decision was a no-brainer.

NAFTA Takes Trujillo

August 5, 2006
Day 311

Picture of dog.

A hairless dog coming out of the water.

This morning, Robyn, Fransisco, and I met up to go on a tour of the ruins near Trujillo. A bus first took us to a few Huacas, which were ancient temples and living quarters. Most of the architecture was original, including the painting. The fact that painted adobe could last thousands of years made the trip interesting.

Everywhere we stopped, there were a few hairless dogs. The rumor was that the dogs were bred by the Spanish because they threw off lots of heat. People with arthritis could then throw the dogs in bed with them to sooth their joints. I'm not sure if that was true, but one thing was clear: the dogs were ugly as sin.

In the middle of our tour, we came back to Trujillo for lunch. We got dropped off in front of a school, so we played on the playground for awhile and watched a bunch of middle-aged men play soccer on a basketball court. When we were walking back toward the bus, we saw a bunch of the soccer players getting drunk in a bar, so we joined them. They were too inebriated to make much intelligent conversation with, but at least they were in a cheerful mood. The entire bar was filled with scary stuffed animals like a deer head with white eyes, deer paws used for hanging stuff, and a fox whose butt was placed directly above us. It was quite a classy joint.

The highlight of the tour was Chan Chan, the largest ancient adobe site in the world. It was filled with huge courtyards and long, ornately decorated walls. Toward the back was a large pool originally used in religious fertility ceremonies. Now it's just a fun place for the hairless dogs to swim. The last thing we saw was the Chimu lord's tomb. It was surrounded by 44 secondary tombs containing women, guards, and all kinds of other cool stuff for him to take with him to the next life. The place seemed quite large, but only a small percent of it has been excavated to date.

The last stop of the day was to Huanchaco, a small town on the coast. A lot of people were surfing there, but the big attraction for people to do was rent a small reed boat and take it for a spin on the ocean, just like the ancient people did.

When we got back into Trujillo, the three of us looked for bus tickets out of town with big plans for the next few days.

The photo album for this entry is here.

Thinking About Home

August 3-4, 2006
Day 309-310

Not much happened for two days, and it was great. I got into a new book, Trapped by Greg Iles. It's a thriller that plays out like a cheesy action movie. Not the greatest of reading, but it's way better than the boring science fiction book I had last time. The book exchange I did turned out to be a steal.

I also met up with Robyn from Canada, who I had met in Huacachina, for a long lunch. We're going to go to the ancient Chimu ruins of Chan Chan tomorrow with her friend Fransisco from Mexico.

My travels have now slowed to almost a complete halt. I guess in my mind, I need to get used to not going on adventures for awhile because I'll be home so soon. In a way, I'm already partway there. Culturally, Peru is closer to America than Bolivia, and Ecuador will probably be closer still. Even geographically, every bus I get on takes me a little closer to home now. That may have been true before, too, but the buses really were just taking me to another adventure, not home. Now every bus goes toward home. And soon enough I'll be there.


August 2, 2006
Day 308

After leaving my hostel, I jumped on a four-hour bus to Lima, where I started my trip almost a year ago. It would be a short reunion though: I wanted to get to Trujillo by morning. One annoying thing about Peru is that unlike every other country I've been to in South America, most cities don't have a central bus terminal. Instead, each company has its own. A lot of them are near each other, but there's often an oddball company located on the other side of town. In bigger cities like Lima, some of the companies even have more than one bus station, just to confuse you more. I had to walk around awhile, but eventually I found a company that would take me to Trujillo tonight. This time there weren't even any issues with the bus breaking down. It was my lucky day.

An Oasis Sunset

August 1, 2006
Day 307

I had some extra time to spare in my quest to get to Guayaquil, but not enough time to go off an any major adventures, so I figured I'd stick around Huacachina for another day. It's a great place to relax with hot, sunny weather every day, beautiful scenery, and an extremely laid-back atmosphere. My hostel is run by a family who doesn't seem to have a care in the world. They're always greeting all of their guests with huge smiles on their faces and tending to the pet macaw and parrots in their backyard. Usually hostel owners want you to pay upfront, but I haven't had to pay for anything yet, including my bar tab. Everyone is in a wonderful state of bliss here.

This afternoon, I climbed to the top of one of the big dunes next to town with Sean and Caroline for sunset. It was windy, but quite beautiful. Despite it being a tropical desert, it started to get cold, so I joined several other people and ran down the dune to the ground.