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Brittni’s Blog :: Wedding

Wedding

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium

coming soon…

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Camping

coming soon…

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Green Day Concert

coming soon…

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Tayrona Park Scuba Safari

Tayrona Park is a national park in Colombia and where we went on a 3 day dive safari with the Calipso Dive School. We all did 7 dives and Vlad and Brent got their Naui Advanced Certification. We stayed on a beautiful beach in an little bay, slept in hammocks, had a relaxing time without the complication and hassle of running water and electricity (haha) which left us plenty of time to read and relax. Since no one else was around for miles it felt like our own little paradise. On the trip was the 3 of us, a German guy (Kurt), the dive instructor, and 2 crew guys.

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The first day was 2 fun dives where we had great conditions and visibility and saw large, green moray eel, several smaller, spotted eels, a lobster, and many beautifully colorful fish, coral, and assorted plants.

The second day we did a deep dive for Brent and Vlad’s certification, then Kurt and I did a fun dive while Brent and Vlad did a navigation practice dive for their certification. The last dive was by far the most amazing of the whole trip, and possibly my whole scuba experience. First of all, it was during a thunderstorm, which seemed a little dangerous being on the water with all the lightning, but when it light up the whole ocean, it was spectacular. Its a little spooky being underwater at night because you never know what’s going to jump out, especially because there are so many eels in this area and they hunt at night, but Vlad stayed close and held my hand when I got scared :-). But the most amazingly beautiful thing I’ve ever seen how all the plankton in the water light up when you turn your light off and stir them up. I’ve seen it before in night dives, but never this intense and beautiful. Its really hard to describe how stunning it is, but I like how Kurt described it: “Every dive is like another world going under the water, but that was like going into a different reality.” It really seems like something out of a fantasy book, and even makes me believe that magic does exist. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good enough camera to capture this miracle, so its something you’ll just simply have to come see for yourself :-D

The last day we did a cave dive, which was fun, but not as impressive as most caves I’ve seen in the Channel Islands, Hawaii, Mexico, and Palau. Then a current dive, which wasn’t strong, but has always been my favorite kind of dive because of the flying feeling you get when you stop kicking and spread out your arms.

Luckily, Kurt had an underwater camera and gave us his pictures. (Thanks, Kurt!) Here are a few of our photographer’s handy-work:

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Taganga, Colombia

On the last day in Cartagena I said to Brent and Vlad, “Okay, guys, next stop is Taganga where you are going to learn how to scuba dive.” Taganga used to be only a fishing village, but is now known for being one of the cheapest and best places in Colombia to learn how to and go scuba diving, so the first day we looked around at a few different dive schools and on our 5th place we found Calipso, which is the cheapest school and only NAUI school, opposed to all the other PADI schools. Of course its a matter of opinion, but a lot of people consider NAUI to be the better of the two and since my dad and I have NAUI, and of course because it was a little cheaper ($240 for the Open Water Certification), Brent and Vlad signed up and started the next day. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen either of these guys so excited before and I’ve never seen so many high 5’s. The course lasted 3 days and entailed 2 pool dives, 4 ocean dives, 2 classroom sessions, and the written test. Everyday the guys seemed even more excited than the last, especially after the first days in the ocean. I’ve been proud of them everyday, but especially happy because they decided to do the Advanced Certification on a 3 day scuba safari, which I went along on for fun (since I already have my Rescue Certification).

First Class: \"This is a regulator\"

First Class: \"This is a regulator\"

First time setting up the equipment

First time setting up the equipment

Dive School-Equipment Area

Dive School-Equipment Area

Setting up the Equipment

Setting up the Equipment

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\"Dang it, how do I get this on here?\"

\"Dang it, how do I get this on here?\"

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First dive - In the pool.

First dive - In the pool.

\"Wow, that was so awesome.\"

\"Wow, that was so awesome.\"

\"Imagine how its going to be in the ocean.\"

\"Imagine how its going to be in the ocean.\"

Ready for the BBQ at the dive school.

Ready for the BBQ at the dive school.

With British Tom.

With British Tom.

BBQing with the Isrealy dive instructor - argentina style.

BBQing with the Isrealy dive instructor - argentina style.

Beach at Taganga.

Beach at Taganga.

Fish for lunch with Tom.

Fish for lunch with Tom.

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Beach.

Beach.

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Restaurant on the beach.

Restaurant on the beach.

Main road in Taganga.

Main road in Taganga.

Ice cream place.

Ice cream place.

Fruit stand.

Fruit stand.

How we found Calipso.

How we found Calipso.

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Brent and Vlad.

Brent and Vlad.

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Brent, Vlad, and Brittni.

Brent, Vlad, and Brittni.

Where we went to the Safari.

Where we went to the Safari.

The hammocks on the safari.

The hammocks on the safari.

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Dorm in the dive school.

Dorm in the dive school.

The dive boats and fishing boats in Taganga.

The dive boats and fishing boats in Taganga.

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Passing the test!

Passing the test!

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Cartagena, Colombia

We’ve traveled through Ecuador and Colombia in a bit of a rush because we heard so much about the sandy, white beaches (or with Vlad’s accent: “sandy, white bitches”) on the Caribbean. When we arrived we immediately fell in love, Brent with the warm climate, Vlad with the architecture, me with the beaches (or bitches…making fun of Vlad’s accent is a continuous form of amusement for Brent and I), and all of us with the absence of buses. From here we were planning on taking a sail boat to Panama, but we found out that it would take 3-4 weeks for Vlad to get a visa (Russia and Peru being of the few countries that have a hard time). So, we decided to stay in Colombia for a few more weeks, maybe go to Venezuela, and then fly back to California on the 12th. We celebrated Brent’s 19th birthday in Cartagena and then got out of the city by taking a boat to the island of Playa Blanca (White Beach) where we ate fresh fish, slept in hammocks for $3 a night, and spent most of the time in the warm, bluish-green water.

Next stop is Taganga where Brent and Vlad are thinking of taking a 4 day course to get their Padi Open Water Certification.

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Here’s Playa Blanca:

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Rionegro, Colombia

After Quito and Cali we thought of heading to Bogotá or Medallin, but decided that we were again anxious to get out of the city and find another small town. They’re are always a little harder to find and its always a decision on which one to go to since there are more of them, but the pros by far outweigh the cons. First of all, to me the cities in South America almost all look about the same so if you just go from city to city it doesn’t seem like your traveling and you don’t experience much culture. Plus, in the smaller towns the pace is more relaxed, the people are friendlier, you can avoid the heavy traffic in the big cities, you can find cheaper and much better hotels, more traditional food and there are more often other festivals where you can experience other aspects of culture such as dance, music, etc. So, we read about a few towns outside of Mediliin in our Lonely Planet guide book and settled on Rionegro where we spent a few days .

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compare Brittni’s dinner to Brent’s dinner (of course Vlad got a hamburger as usual)

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Cali, Colombia

We thought about taking some more stops along the way, but since we’ve been hearing the beautiful beaches on the Caribbean calling out to us, we decided to do a straight shot from Quito to Cali, giving us another 21 hours of bus, bus, bus! (Writing this now I’m on the beach and can say it was worth it.) Cali is well known for being the salsa capital of the world, but unfortunately I’m traveling with the biggest non-dancing, any-excuse-to-avoid-it, two-left-feet bros in the world, so I wasn’t able to appreciate the salsa much. To redeem them I will say that at least I it never takes much effort on my part to get them out for a few beers at a bar and its almost always…mostly…usually…pretty good conversation ;-)

We got one funny story from Cali, though. The first night we stayed in a normal, main stream hostel with 10-bunk-bed-style dormitory, bar, etc., and while those are always great for meeting other travelers and having a good time, they aren’t usually the cheapest bed in town. So the first night we were walking around on the street and we met a guy (as usual asking for directions) and he happened to own a “hotel” that was about $5 cheaper than our current hostel. So the next night we move in and at first all looks good. …But after a little while we realize that there are some pretty funny characteristics of this place. For a few examples, the bed has a glowing red light under it (picture below), the bathroom has a window highlighted with blue lights (picture below), the showers have windows looking in on them from the bed, there’s an enormous mirror covering one wall, and instead of soap we got condoms. It wasn’t until later when we took a taxi back to the hotel that the driver told us that in fact its really not a hotel where people sleep, but usually just rent by the hour for….other purposes. If you need more explanation, e-mail me and I’ll spell it out for you. ;-)

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Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world)

We stopped in Quito for one night, but felt like it was really dangerous, even though we were in the old town which is suppose to be the safest area, so we decided to only stay two nights. But we got to do the main touristy thing to do in the area which is go just outside of the city to the equator, known as the Mitad del Mundo.

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Baños, Ecuador

We took an overnight bus from Piura to Guayaquil, stopping twice for Peru’s and Ecuador’s immigrations, and were originally intending to stay in Guayaquil, but when we arrived we just realized it was another big city and decided, since we’ve been anxious to get out of the cities and see more small towns, to just not give it a chance and instead head straight to a town outside of one of the Volcano’s just south of Quito. This decision lead to another day on the bus and in total from Piura to Baños we spent about 21 hours. But when we arrived in Baños we immediately knew it was worth it. Its located just at the base of Volcano Tungurahua, which makes for a spectacular view and is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, lush green vegetation, and natural, mineral water pools. Plus the town itself is lovely and just what we were looking for; a place to take a leisurely stroll through cobble stone streets lined with quaint, historic buildings and churches.

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Paita and Piura, Peru

After Trujillo we decided to go to Paita, a small fishing town 6 hours north, to see Ernesto’s (Vlad’s dad) fish/squid factory. We went with Vlad’s uncle, Rafael, who set up a ride to the factory, gave us a tour, and showed us where to get the best ceviche (a typical Peruvian dish of raw fish with onion in lime sauce). Unfortunately, the factory wasn’t in production when we were there, but nonetheless it was very interesting to me and Brent, since we’ve never seen anything like it before. In my opinion, the best part of traveling is when you can get away from typical tourist attractions and you have local hook-ups to show you the real life of the country. We weren’t expecting to see Vlad’s dad because we thought he was in Lima, but luckily we ran into him last minute and had lunch before we headed to Piura.

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After a night in Paita we got a ride in the back of the truck of Vlad’s dad’s friends and headed about 30 minutes south to the larger city of Pura. There we visited Vlad’s god-father, Alejandro, who is from Costa Rica and met Ernesto when they were living in Russia. He owns a very nice hotel and restaurant where we got to sleep and eat for free. After being taken care of so well by all of Vlad’s family in Lima, Trujillo, Paita, and Piura, Brent and I feel well spoiled and are hoping to show Vlad and his family as good of hospitality in California.

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Trujillo, Peru

After selling Vlad’s car and saying goodbye to his family in Lima, the three musketeers finally set out on there long journey north to America. Brent has about 6-7 weeks left before he heads back for his second year of university in the fall and for now the vague plan is to either stay in Colombia or take a short 4-5 day boat trip to Panama (since there is no road in the thick jungle between Colombia and Panama). Our first stop in 6 hours north of Lima in the town of Trujillo where Vlad has his grandma, 2 ants, 2 uncles, 4 cousins, 1 niece, and 1 old friend from Russia. Of course visiting and getting to know the family was the highlight, but we also went to the ruins of Chan Chan, the temples of el sol y la luna, the beach in a small town nearby called Huanchaco, took a car ride to another town called Simbal, hung out a lot in the center, and recovered from a couple big nights out to the clubs.

The ruins at Chan Chan.

The ruins at Chan Chan.

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Museum next to Chan Chan

Museum next to Chan Chan

The beach at Huanchaco

The beach at Huanchaco

Huanchaco

Huanchaco

Huanchaco

Huanchaco

Huanchaco

Huanchaco

The Plaza de Armas in Trujillo

The Plaza de Armas in Trujillo

Vlad and Roma (friend from Russia)

Vlad and Roma (friend from Russia)

Carving on a wall at the temple of the oon

Carving on a wall at the temple of the oon

Temple of the moon

Temple of the moon

Temple of the moon

Temple of the moon

Dinner on the 4th at the house of Vlad\'s uncle Rafael, aunt Rosario, and cousin Carol.

Dinner on the 4th at the house of Vlad\'s uncle Rafael, aunt Rosario, and cousin Carol.

After dinner drinks with Roma

After dinner drinks with Roma

The Russians

The Russians

Starting the night out

Starting the night out

Tio Rafael and Tia Rosario

Tio Rafael and Tia Rosario

Roma

Roma

Roma and Vlad.

Roma and Vlad.

Roma and his girlfriend Becky.

Roma and his girlfriend Becky.

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Spending a day in Simbal with Vlad\'s grandma Graciela, aunt Teresa, and cousin Carla

Spending a day in Simbal with Vlad\'s grandma Graciela, aunt Teresa, and cousin Carla

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Buying fruit on the way to Simbal.

Buying fruit on the way to Simbal.

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Buying avacado, guava, and milk.

Buying avacado, guava, and milk.

El Gato.

El Gato.

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Cusco, Peru

While Vlad finished up his exams Brent and I decided to take a trip to Cusco and without planning out anything on purpose, Brent and I just happened to be in Cusco during the biggest festival of the year. To celebrate its anniversary during the month of June there are free outdoor concerts, fireworks, carnival games, and daily parades with floats, marching bands, and dancers in elaborate costumes. We were originally planning on only spending about a week in Cusco, but ended up there for 12 days, both because of the festival and because many of the roads leading to different cities in the south were closed due to bus strikes. But we had a good time hanging out in town and watching the parades everyday, and Brent even got to learn how to ride a motorcycle when we did a half-day ride outside of Cusco to see the countryside and nearby cities.

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Machu Picchu

Of course its the most touristy thing to do in Peru, maybe even all of South America, but Machu Piccu is something that just couldn’t be missed. Brent and I also wanted to go to Waynu Picchu which is another sent of ruins on a higher mountain next to Mahcu Picchu. Since they only allow 200 people up twice a day and tickets sell out early we spent the night before in Aguas Calientes which is a city about an hour and a half hiking from Machu Piccu and started hiking by 4am. The hike up Waynu Picchu was a bit of a challenge, but the view from the top made it well worth the while. From the very top you have a 360 degree view of the valley and a spectacular view of Machu Picchu.

Oh, and you might also notice Brent’s new hair in these photos.

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The Orphanage

I was thinking that I wanted to do some volunteer work and when I read about the opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage, something inside me instantly shouted out and I new it was something I wanted to do. The main things I was looking for going into it were to improve my Spanish and learn about the culture, but I learned so much more than I ever could have imagined. I’ve don’t a lot of volunteer work in my life, with the hungry and homeless, with the elder, and with families in 3rd world countries, but I’ve never worked directly with so many children.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but let me tell you, it is soooooo much work! The kids are amazingly energetic and its exhausting trying to keep up with all 17 of them. But the kids, oh, the kids. They are the most extraordinarily affectionate, precious, lovable little angels I’ve ever met. By the end of my two and a half months with them I felt closer than I meant to get and had a hard time leaving them. They taught me so much about myself and changed my life forever.

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On day we got to go on a field trip and we took the kids to a big park/zoo were we played, snacked, ran around, looked at the animals, played some more, ate lunch, walked around with the kids all attached in a long line by holding hands, the other teachers and I gossiped, and played some more.

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more Lima

Here are just some random pictures from the last 2 1/2 months I’ve spent hanging out in Lima with Vlad and his family.

Vlads 26th Birthday

Vlads 26th Birthday

with the best drinks Ive ever had!

with the best drinks Ive ever had!

called .\"Loving Flames!\"

called .\"Loving Flames!\"

Out for Vlads B-day.

Out for Vlads B-day.

Mothers day lunch with Alla (Vlads mom), aunt Lucia(Allas friend from Russia), cousin Veronica, Nadia (Vlads sister), and Vlad (taking picture)

Mothers day lunch with Alla (Vlads mom), aunt Lucia(Allas friend from Russia), cousin Veronica, Nadia (Vlads sister), and Vlad (taking picture)

Vlads cousin Veronica and sister Nadia.

Vlads cousin Veronica and sister Nadia.

Buy me! Buy me!

Buy me! Buy me!

.\"I just really want to sell my car so I can finally go traveling with Brittni!!!\"

.\"I just really want to sell my car so I can finally go traveling with Brittni!!!\"

My friend from the orphanage, Yolanda, at a tourism exhibition.

My friend from the orphanage, Yolanda, at a tourism exhibition.

In the background: Mochica culture from Trujillo.

In the background: Mochica culture from Trujillo.

Brent finally arrives!

Brent finally arrives!

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Last drive in the car.

Last drive in the car.

Finally making the deal.

Finally making the deal.

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Quicksilver

Warning: This entry may be extremely dull to some people and may cause death through boredom. It will probably only be interesting to dorks like me.

I´ve been at Corporation Triveño, a distributor of mercury, also known as quicksilver, for about two weeks now and have learned some interesting things about mercury that I thought I would share. (I´ve also found that, and you might have noticed, its hard to keep the blog interesting when I´m not traveling.)

First of all, mercury is the only liquid metal at room temperature and pressure. Its a beautiful silver color which looks like melted chrome and is surprisingly heavy, weighing ________ per ounce and _______ per _____. Its mainly used in mining for other materials, mainly gold. When its spread out over the rocks coming out of the mine, it melts away all other substances except the gold. Then when heated up, the mercury turns into a substance like clay and all you have left is the gold. We also sometimes sell a very pure form of it to dentists who use it for fillings, and occasionally to artist. There is a very small amount used in electronics, florescent lamps, and thermometers, but we generally distribute it in larger quantities. Its hard to get a hold of, not because it´s scarce, but because there are strict controls on it.
So, why is it dangerous? Its not very common that it harms the environment (as my dad pointed out that would be very un-Santa Cruzian to be working for such a company), but there are several ways that it ends up hurting humans (which i guess I don´t care as much about). The way it was explained to me is that occasionally when uneducated miners finish using the mercury and it is in its clay form they don´t dispose of it properly and it occasionally ends up in a lake, river, stream, or other water source. It then causes little silver bubbles in the water, which the fish eat, then we eat the fish, and are poisoned. Its also a bit of a problem when a truck runs off the road and dumps a bunch of mercury into the local water.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(element)

http://www.kissfunny.com/view_funny.asp?id=1219&subcategoryid=

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Important Women’s Health Issue

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?

Do you suffer from shyness?

Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or Pharmacist about Margaritas.

Margaritas are the safe, natural way to feel betterand more confident about yourself and your actions.

Margaritas can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you’re ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Margaritas almost immediately.

With a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past.

You will discover many talents you never knew you had.

Stop hiding and start living, with Margaritas.

Margaritas may not be right for everyone.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Margaritas.

However, women who wouldn’t mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include:
Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration
Erotic lustfulness
Loss of motor control
Loss of clothing
Loss of money
Loss of virginity
Table dancing
Headache
Dehydration
Dry mouth
And a desire to sing Karaoke

WARNING:
The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to think you can sing.
The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

(I didn´t write this, I got it in a chain e-mail and am just posting it cause I thought it was funny)

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Lima, Peru

I just realized I’ve been in Lima almost 4 weeks. On one hand, that’s really amazing because I was originally going to be here only a few days before heading north and I thought I’d be in Ecuador, Colombia, maybe even Panama by now. On the other hand, I was getting tiered of my routine of living out of my backpack, changing hostels every couple days, making new friends everywhere I went, and never being able to have a real conversation with anyone, so I´ve known for a while that I needed to settle down somewhere for a while, I just wasn’t sure where yet.

Looking back on it, it was a strange sequence of events that kept me here. If I were more religious I would say it seemed like God’s clever, divine plan. I bought my bus ticket for 2 days after I arrived, and kept pushing it back over and over for different reasons. The final reason I decided to stay, yes, you can probably guess it…love. And I know what your thinking, “Brittni, how can you possible give up traveling for a boy!?” And I know it seems like something I might regret in the future, but one of the new things I´m trying and learning this year is to stop planning so much and do more what I feel is right in the moment.

Anyway, I´m only postponing my travels until June when Vlad finishes his architecture degree and at which time we will travel north to Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and eventually to California, where we´ll be looking for a place to live in San Francisco. I´ll still be working for Frank, Rimerman, hopefully in San Francisco, but my start date has been postponed until January.

As for my professional life, for now I´m working part time in finance for Corporation Triveño, which distributes mercury. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that native English speakers with degrees form the US can make it very well here in Lima. In addition, and more in the spirit of my year off for exploring new things, I´ve been volunteering at an orphanage, taking care of about twenty 3-year-old orphans.

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CARPE DIEM!

For my good friend, Rebecca’s birthday we went all out. First we went paragliding, then we got tattoos, and then had a big party with her family.

The paragliding was so much fun. It was completely calm and relaxing, and felt just exactly like it feels when I fly in my dreams. Its tandem, but I never noticed the guy behind me. The wind just comes and swoops you up and you feel like a weightless leaf blowing in the wind, but at the same time totally in control. As we left the grounds we both yelled, “Carpe Diem!” and afterward concluded that there is no better way that seizing Rebecca’s b-day than going flying.


Paragliding from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

Okay, getting a tattoo for my friend’s birthday might sound a little extreme, but I’ve actually been wanting it for ages, and this just felt like the perfect time. First of all, I hate it when people get tattoos that don’t mean anything, but the term “carpe diem” has always meant a lot to me. I think most of my readers (hahaha…my readers..that’s you!) would agree that I always seize the day and that the motto fits me well. Not sure I should be admitting this, but it helps me to get out of bed in the morning when I think to myself “carpe diem” and then think of something crazy I can do that day that wasn’t planned and would make it a great day.

Oh, and it cost 50 Soles which is like $16. I love how cheap everything is here.

The party that night at Becca’s family’s house was one of the best birthday party’s I’ve ever been to. The closeness of even distant family and the amazing warmth when welcoming strangers is what I truly love and respect about Latin families and culture. Rebecca is from Australia and doesn’t speak much Spanish, while some of her relatives are from Peru and don’t speak much English (I was the translator). Still, she was more than welcome to come here and move in with them, and they treated her just like one of their own daughters. She’s had a great time her the last 5 months with them and now will always have family and a home here in Peru. (Hey, Dad, why can’t I have roots in Peru????) When I grow up, wherever I end up, whatever I’m doing, and whoever I’m with, I want a big, loud, crazy, affectionate, loving family to have big, loud, crazy, affectionate, loving parties.

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Paracas, Peru

Paracas is a little beach town near Pisco, in the South of Peru. I wandered around the market and spent a bit of time at the beach, playing with the pelicans.


Pelicans in Paracas from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Sandboarding

Just outside of Nasca, in the south of Peru, I went sandboarding down Cerrro Blanco (”White Hill”), which is the largest sand doom in South America. It was just me and one guide which was nice because I got a private lesson. First we had to do a 3.5 hour hike to the top of the sand doom, which was quite tough because every step you take doesn’t get you very far because you end up sliding back down the doom a bit, and the sun felt like it was beating down on us so hard it wanted to kill us. Then we practiced a bit on a few short runs at the top of the doom. It feels like snowboarding in really thick powder, and you have to lean forward to build up speed and not sink in the sand. At the end we had one, long ride down to the bottom, but, unfortunately, my ankle was hurting for most of the long ride, so I ended up sitting on the board and using it as a sled, which was really fun.

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Here are a few pics from around the city of Nasca:

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Nasca, Peru

In Nasca, Peru I took a small 6 person plane up to see the famous, ancient Nasca Lines. We don’t know for sure who made them and for what reason, but it is theorized that they were made between 900 BC and 600 AD by the ancient Paracas and Nasca cultures. Some of the theories of their purpose are (1) astronomical calendars mapped out by sophisticated mathematics, (2) ritual walkways connected to a water/fertility cult, (3) giant running tracks, or (4) extraterrestrial landing sites. The lines design many different shapes such as a whale, a person, a dog, a monkey, a hummingbird, a spider, a parrot, a tree, and hands, and they are so big that they can’t be appreciated on the ground. Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t come out as pronounced as I had hoped. The next day a local told me about a plant that grows around the area called the San Pedro plant, which is a hallucinogen and the locals have taken for thousands of years for spiritual purposes. He told me that by taking this drug the spirits of the ancient cultures would float up above the city and lines and that is how they could see them from above. Of course I started to question how exactly that worked, but shortly realized is wasn’t going to be a logical conversation. But the lines where very intriguing and looking down at the lines from above I could see how people get the idea for shows like The X-files and The Twilight Zone.

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Tacna, Peru

I entered Peru in the patriotic and historically rich town of Tacna where a few friends and I got an especially passionate, local tour guide who took us around to the monuments, museums, cemetery, and the battlefield of the War of the Pacific in 1880. Along the way he enthusiastically explained to us the history of the war. This war is especially meaningful to the area because it was fought by Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. Chile won the war and the area was occupied until 1929 when the people of Tacna voted to return to Peru. There is still a lot of hostility to the Chileans by the local people of Tacna, which I could feel by the way the locals picked out and talked about the Chileans. Looking at drawings of the war, the uniforms and weapons in the museum, and seeing the battlefield, I was reminded of the Civil War, probably because they were around the same time.

A few seconds after he started talking, our guide came up to me and said in Spanish “What, your camera doesn’t have video?,” obviously implying that I should be filming his lecture. Although you might not be able to understand what he says (if you don’t speak Spanish), I think you will still be fascinated by the heartfelt passion you can see in this video.


History Lesson in Tacna from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

After the history lessons we got lunch in a market in town and had delicious, fresh smoothies. We were a wee bit worried when we saw them putting the local water in the smoothies, but luckily my stomach of steel can handle anything Latin America can through at it. One of the smoothies, called the Vitamina, consisted of everything accept the kitchen sink, including every fruit, milk, honey, beer and a bunch of other things I didn’t recognize. Beer in a smoothie. Now why didn’t I think of that?

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San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

There’s a lot to do in San Pedro, but most of the things to do there I had recently done in a nearby city so I didn’t stay long. For example, there’s an observatory, but its not meant to be as good as the one I went to in La Serena, you can do salt flat tours and geyser tours, but I had recently seen similar ones in the south of Bolivia, and you can go sandboarding, but I was planning on going in Nasca because it has the largest sand dome in South America.

I did have one interesting, cultural experience that I don’t think I’ll forget. I’ve gotten used to just showing up in towns without making reservations at any hostel because they are almost always very easy to find and cheaper if you show up an negotiate. Its usually not hard to talk the price down a little bit because they know you can just walk down the road a bit and find a different hostel. After arriving I went out into the town to find a hostel, some dinner, and see if there was anything fun going on. A nice local boy took me down the road to this very nice and cheap hostel where I paid about US $7 for my own room. This was even cheaper than I expected because it was a little bit outside of town. After checking in and putting my bags down I headed back into town for dinner. I had a good meal, a few drinks, and good conversation with the local guy that hooked me up with the room. We made plans to go bike riding, sandboarding, and have lunch the next day. However, when he walked me home and I said goodnight it took quite a bit of effort (verbally and physically) to convince him I wasn’t interested in a kiss goodnight. The crazy part was the next day when he showed up at my door, I told him I didn’t want to go, and he started to cry, saying he loved me and begging me not to leave.

I don’t mean to make him sound like a crazy, pushy asshole, which is how most of you are probably reading this, but I have learned in my time down here that it really is a cultural difference. I’ve often heard girls idealize Latin men for being romantic and passionate, but there’s a thin line before you cross over into pushy and needy. I thing dating people from other cultures is always fun and exotic at first, but once the novelty wears off, the cultural differences are too deep of problems to overcome. My opinion on this not only comes from this event, but a few very similar experiences I’ve had before this and from hearing many girls I’ve met in Latin America talk about experiences they’ve had. I’ve think in the end I’d take a standoffish, disconnected guy that is also respectful and independent, over a romantic, passionate guy that is also pushy and needy. I guess for now I’ll just keep hoping there’s a guy out there with a good balance, like me.

complain about guys from the US and most European countries being too , while girls . After this experience, and, actually, I have had 2-3 similar ones before this, I

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Santiago, Chile

I just passed through Santiago for a few days on my way north to visit the Chilean family I lived with for the 3 weeks I studied in Santiago last October, and my old church camp friend, Amelia. It was great to see my Chilean family again and they were very excited when I showed up at their door. I felt right at home and it was almost as if I never left. It was great to catch up and talk about all the fun things we did while I was living there. It was also great to see my childhood friend and meet some of her friends.

During the day I had a little adventure taking local buses to this small winery in a rural village outside of Santiago. The winery was a lot smaller than I expected, but everyone around was very friendly and helpful.

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Perito Moreno

I wasn’t planning on going to the Perito Moreno Glacier after seeing so many in Antarctica, but since I hurt my ankle and had to leave the hiking trip early, I had some extra time to kill before my flight up to Santiago. But, it was quite an amazing sight to see. One of the cool things about this glacier is that throughout the year it grows and falls back and during my visit we got to see quite a few huge pieces of ice break off and fall into the channel. It still baffles me how the ice doesn’t melt because it was quite a warm day, but the way the tour guide explained it is that the ice is very dense. “Perito” means “expert” (not “perrito” meaning small dog) and the glacier was named after Perito Moreno who explored a lot of the land around the area, set the boundaries between Chile and Argentina in that area, and donated funds to set up the national park.

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Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine is a famous national park in the south of Chile where people spend anywhere from 3 to 9 days backpacking, hiking, and camping in the forest. The park is famous for its rock formations which are in the shape of tours. I was planning on spending about 4 days in the park, but unfortunately slipped and hurt my ankle on the second day so I had to cut it a bit short. But I did get to do what I really wanted to do, which was hike up to the torres and watch them at sunrise. This is a common activity because the torres glow a beautiful reddish yellow at sunrise.

After I hurt my ankle I spent a good while waiting to see if I was going to be able to keep hiking. In the meantime I walked (or hobbled) around this little area and got really into taking photos of the vegetation and a few insects, playing with the macro settings on my camera.

In the end I hiked out and gave my ankle a bit of rest for a few days, but I think it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I went to the Perito Moreno glacier instead (next post).

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Famous Quotes

Some quotes I like, just for fun:

“Carpe diem” -Horace

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” –The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -J .R.R. Tolkien

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Suess

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” –Albert Einstein

“Lost time is never found again.” –Benjamin Franklin

“So many people tiptoe through life so carefully, to arrive, safely, at death.” –Jermaine Evans

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” –The Dalai Lama

“Pain is temporary. Quitting last forever.” –Lance Armstrong

“We must become the change we wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” –Bob Dylan

“Life is about creating new opportunities, not waiting for them to come to you.” –Salma Hayek

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” –Samuel Johnson

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My Family

Coming soon…

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My Motorcycle

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Tucker

. .
. .
. .
. .

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About Me

Birth date: December 13, 1985
Hometown: San Jose, CA
High school: Del Mar High ‘04
College: University of California, Santa Cruz ‘08
Majors: Business Management Economics and Legal Studies

I enjoy traveling, scuba diving, motorcycle riding, ju jitsu, snowboarding, skiing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, swimming, running, surfing, cooking, wine tasting, yoga, sporting events, clubbing, dancing, playing Wii, taking photos, blogging, learning, reading, etc

Some of my interests are philosophy, politics, history, languages, cultures, food, etc

I like to listen to Daft Punk, The Beatles, Benny Benassi, Immortal-Technique, Zero 7, Manu Chao, Green Day, Cake, Air, ATB, Sublime, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Bloc Party, Black Eyed Peas, Rage Against the Machine, Switchfoot, Alice Deejay, Alien Ant Farm, Blink 182, Cascada, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Kaiser Chiefs, Linkin Park, Beethoven, NoFX, The Postal Service, Regina Spektor, Sarah McLachlan, The Shins, The Streets, System of a Down, Weird Al Yancovik, etc

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Antarctica

Antarctica is by far the most spectacular place I’ve ever been. I feel so privileged to live on this planet after seeing it. To summarize for those who don’t want to read the full story (you’re lose ;-)), here are some highlights of the trip:

1) The Wildlife - We got really lucky with some amazingly up close encounters with several spices of penguins, seals, and whales.

2) The Views - We saw the most stunning views from the ship, on excursions we did in the zodiacs, and especially from a few particular peeks we climbed up to. The ice glaciers where more breathtaking than I can describe. Hopefully my pictures can give you some idea.

3) The Staff and Crew - Quark Expeditions (the company I went with) did an outstanding job. The expedition staff was extremely knowledgeable and I learned a lot about a wide range of topics, such as the history of Antarctica, geology, marine life, penguins, photography, etc. The catering staff was also exceptional. I’ll remember the wonderful food as one of the highlights of my trip.

4) The Passengers - What kind of people go to Antarctica? The most interesting, diverse, intellectual, cultural, witty, successful, lucky, and just plain best people in the world. It would have been a very different experience without all the amazing people that I was on the ship with.

Day 1 (March 3) - Ushuaia

The first official night of the expedition was in Ushuaia, Argentina. Quark Expeditions picked out a nice hotel close to the dock and, I have to say, it was quite nice to be in a proper hotel after being in big dorm-type hostels for so long. I met my roommate, Loyce, a costume and theater design teacher at Ohio University. I was surprised at how many younger people there are on this cruise because I was expecting an older crowd, but I expect its because this is one of the cheaper cruises that Quark does.

Day 2 and 3 (March 4 and 5) - At Sea

We boarded the ship Tuesday, March 3rd and set off at about 5pm. Then we spent the first 2 days in the drake passage which is known to be the roughest waters in the world. Fortunately, I was able to go above deck quite a lot and I didn’t get sick. There were a lot of lectures during the two days at sea by different specialist in the expedition staff on various subjects such as the history of Antarctica, geology, marine life, penguins, photography, etc. Other than the lectures, though, I took advantage of this time for some more R & R; mostly just read, ate, and took naps. I think the rocking of the boat made me fall asleep easily. During the second night the seas were so rough that I nearly got tossed out of bed, and a lot of people complained about not being able to sleep, but fortunately I can sleep through just about anything. Although it was quite foggy, we all went up on deck and first saw land at about 6pm on Thursday. The land we saw was mostly just volcanic rock islands, but very nice looking after only seeing open ocean for two days.

(Click on the pictures to see them bigger.)
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Day 4 (March 6) - Half Moon Bay and Deception Island

Finally, the first landing! We had to alternate from our original plan to visit Hunnington beach because the swell was too big. Instead we went to Half Moon Bay which is a bit more protected. There we saw a colony of chinstrap penguins, quite a few fur seals, and even one lone macaroni penguin, which are the ones with wield yellow feathers on the back of there necks (or maybe you know them from the movie Happy Feet as the penguins with the Mexican accents. haha. And, no, they don’t have Mexican accents in real life).

In the afternoon we went to Deception Bay where we climbed a volcano. Although it wasn’t steep or far, it was one of the most difficult treks I’ve ever done because of the intense wind. The staff said they believed that the winds were up to 25 knots (27.6 mph). A few times the wind just knocked me over and I thought I was going to be blown off the mountain. A few people attempted the trek and didn’t make it, but most people just didn’t even attempt it. (Allow me to clarify, the ones that didn’t make it turned back, not died). I’m very happy I went, though, because the view from the top was magnificent.

Then a few of us crazies did a polar plunge in the bay which was 0 degrees celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). It was a bit cold, but so much fun! The funniest part of the adventure was definitely when I was changing behind a big piece of metal, had my panties around my knees and was holding my towel around my waist (not big enough to tie up), the wind picked up and carried my pants down the beach with me running after them, screaming and cursing at my pants. And of course lets not forget to mention the huge crowd pointing and laughing. I suppose the bright news is that I did eventually get to my pants right before they blew into the ocean. In retrospect I suppose it is quite funny and makes a pretty good story. Although the water was numbingly cold at the time, as they always say, you’ll only regret not doing it. I’m certainly glad I did it because now I can say I swam in the Antarctic!

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Day 5 (March 7) - Danco Island and Neko Harbour

The first stop today was to Danco Island. When we first arrived we saw beautiful ice shapes sitting on the beach. I’ve never seen anything natural like it. Then we walked around a colony of gentoo penguins, and then hiked up to a peak that had a gorgeous 360 degree view of Danco Bay. We took heaps of photos, (definition of heaps: an untidy collection of things piled up haphazardly …yep, thats it), sat and talked for a bit, did head stands, and finished up a snowball fight that I started the previous day. On the way down a few of us laid down and a bunch of penguins came right up to us! Its amazing to me how curious and fearless they are. They are so cute I almost stole one in my coat ;-).

Then we had our first continental landing at Neko Harbour! We saw another gentoo colony and hiked up to another peak with a beautiful view of glaciers. We sat for a few hours and occasionally saw part of the glaciers fall off into the sea. A few of us slide down the mountain for part of the way down which was a lot of fun. On the way back we took a little detour in the zodiac and road around some amazing ice glaciers. It blows my mind how beautiful ice can be.

In honor of Woman’s Day, a Russian holiday, the Russian crew put on a fabulously entertaining song and dance performance, we had a delicious Russian meal, and stayed up playing cards and drinking white Russians (just to keep with the theme of the night ;-) ).

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Day 6 (March 8 ) - Lemaire Channel, Pleneau Island, Vernadsky Station

We went through the Lemaire Channel then did a zodiac cruise around ice burgs and saw a few leopard seals up close (video below). This particular leopard seal encounter is definitely one I will never forget. Although the staff warned us that the leopard seals are some of the most aggressive and dangerous predators in Antarctica, it just looked so cute and playful swimming in the water around the boat. I got so much amazing footage that the first video I made was 13 minutes long and it took me forever to edit it down to 4. I think the exceptionally friendly wild life is one thing that makes Antarctica so remarkable. Also, while cruising around we got a surprise visit from some pirates who gave us hot chocolate with rum.

In the afternoon we went to a Ukrainian science station (Verdasky Station) where we took a tour, learned about the interesting history of the station, sent postcards, and took shots of a delicious vodka they make there at the station with the bartender. If you’re interested, here’s a bit on the station: It was where scientist first observed the depletion in the ozone layer known as the ozone hole and it was purchased from the British for 1 British pound in 1996 because it was cheaper to give it away then clean it up (as the Antarctica Treaty requires either selling it or cleaning it up).

On the way back to the ship we stopped at Winter Island where we visited Wordie House which was occupied between 1947 and 1953 and is now preserved as a museum.

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Day 7 (March 9) - Cape Tuxen Waddington Bay & Petermann Island

We visited two islands, the first of which was very slippery and after getting of the zodiac I slipped and fell on my face which hurt a bit, but was pretty funny. Now the people on the ship are starting to know me as the clumsy one. Then I walked around the island, and sat and watched the cutest little Adélie penguins playing in a pool for a long time. I can watch them for hours and never stop laughing. Good stomach exercise and more fun than doing sit-ups ;-)

In the afternoon we went to an island that had a bunch more Adélie penguins and an old Argentine refuge hut. On the way back to the ship we saw a leopard seal eating a penguin, which most people thought was quite sad, but didn’t bother me much, as you can tell in the video below.

We had a huge delicious BBQ dinner, then I met some of the catering staff and more passengers. We stayed up passing around the guitar and singing songs all together (mostly The Beatles, but a bunch of other classics), then had a dance party, walked around the ship for a bit, tried to do yoga (standing on one leg in the tree pose) with the ship was rocking like crazy, and stayed up discussing philosophy. (I went to bed about 5:30ish, but, to be honest, it was only a few hours after the other nights.)


Feeding Time from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Day 8 (March 10) - Cuverville Island & Melchiors Islands

Last day in Antarctica! I woke up about 7ish to the announcement, “If you want to go on the excursion be at the gateway in 1 minute for the last zodiac!” Threw on my clothes so fast my gloves ended up on my feet, my socks on my hands, and I was upside down, obviously very hungover, if not still drunk. But I made it and had a great time on shore where I saw a humpback whale skeleton and had some up close encounters with gentoo penguins. I was completely nostalgic about leaving Antarctica. Even though I was cold, I stayed on the island as long as possible, taking it all in, and was one of the last ones to leave. I finally went back with the crew and on the way we got extremely lucky with two humpback whales which came right up to the boat.

Our last excursion was a zodiac ride around some more beautiful ice bergs. We saw some more chinstrap penguins, fur seals, and wheeler seals.

Then we started heading back to Ushuaia. Goodbye Antarctica. Even though no one really got sea sick on the way down, it seemed like almost everyone got sick on the way back. Its hard to describe how rocky the ship was. It was hard to even sit up straight without falling over. I want to say that I would recommend this trip to anyone because it has been spectacular, but because of the swells, I would not recommend this trip to people that didn’t think they could handle it.

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Day 9 and 10 (March 11 and 12) - At Sea

Another two days back through the Drake Passage, but fortunately both days were much calmer than the day before. I went to a few lectures by the expedition staff and learned more about the history of the exploration of Antarctica, orca whales, and industrial whaling.

We arrived back in Ushuaia March 13 around 8am, sadly said our goodbyes to those going back home, and those of us who are continuing to travel went to a hostel and continued the celebrations.

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“Its the one spot on the planet that no human rules, that no ownership possesses–a strange location where people from more than forty countries, representing 75 percent of the world’s population, work together harmoniously. Antarctica is the last frontier on the planet–a mix of unspoiled beauty, heart-tugging wildlife, and history, which has been explored only within the last two or three generations.” (Waiting to Fly, Ron Naveen)

Watch out Arctic, Here I come!
After watching one of the staff’s slide show on the arctic I am quite keen to go. I am in no rush, however, so I probably wont be taking advantage of the 25% discount that Quark is offering everyone who wants to go this summer (hint, hint), but I will start saving my pennies and looking forward to this next big adventure. The difficult part, though, is choosing which journey to do. It all depends on what you want to see, whether its the north pole, indigenous villages and cultures, polar bears, or green and blue ice glaciers. While in the Antarctic most people sail from Argentina and do a fairly the standard route, in the Arctic you can sail from Finland, USA (Alaska), Canada, Norway (Svalbard, Spitsbergen), Russia, Greenland (Denmark territory), or Iceland. So, if anyone reading this is thinking of going to the arctic, I would highly encourage it. And write to me about it so I can live vicariously through you!

www.quarkexpeditions.com

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Tierra del Fuego

Literally translated it means “Land of the Fire” and although I didn’t see any fire, the land is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I was planning on just doing a day in the Tierra del Fuego National Park, but ended up not wanting to leave, so I rented a sleeping bag for 6 pesos and stayed the night in the Refuge which is a basic dorm room with a bunch of bunk beds and a furness for heat. The first day I did 23 kilometers (13 miles) around the park and was so tiered I went to bed at 8:30 and slept 14 hours. I guess I needed it after getting hardly any sleep for the last 9 days. Its a little bit of a shock going from Rio (crowded, loud, hot, partying, city) to Tierra del Fuego (uninhabited, quiet, cold, solitary natural reserve), but it was a nice change in pace to finally be able to spend some Brittni time, think about things, and write in my journal.

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In Transite

Coming soon…

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Carnival in Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Wow. I don’t think I can describe the amount of crazy fun I had in Rio during Carnival, but I can definitely say it was one of the highlights of my gap year. The whole town is is such a huge party the whole time and there’s so much to do its almost overwhelming. I was so busy the whole time, got on average of 2-4 hours of sleep a night, and, to be honest, was slightly intoxicated for a good part of it that all of the 6 days

Fri 20 - After a 22 hour bus ride from Foz do Iguaçu I finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Settled into the hostel, met a few people, and headed straight to the beach where I spent the rest of the afternoon reading. At the beach I met a really nice Canadian couple who I helped order some water. I don’t speak any Portuguese, and while Spanish does sometimes help me with basic things like ordering water, I felt frustrated at not being able to communicate easily with everyone for the first time in a long time. Get me back to a Spanish speaking country, please.

That night I went out to Lapa which is a huge block party with a big group from the hostel.

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Sat 21- I went to a local football (soccer) game and saw Los Flamigos which is a famous Brazilian team. That night I went back the Lapa block party for more partying in the streets. I was with a friend and we got separated from the rest of the group and ended up going into a samba club which is …hard to describe….a beautiful African-looking Brazilian dance that’s sort of choreographed and sort of spontaneous. There’s a band in the front which everyone in the club is facing. Everyone is following one or two leaders who are setting the movements which they repeat in sets and change every minute or so. I felt a tiny bit awkward having been the first time I ever did Samba, being the only non-black person in the club, and being with my friend who’s a professional that teaches it, but everyone there said they were impressed with this white girl’s moved and didn’t even believe me when I told them it was my very first time. I hate to sound like an alcoholic, but the key is to drink just enough so that you’re confident and loose, but not so much that you’re slow and can’t hold a rhythm. Lucky for me I had the right balance.

Sun 22 - Finally, the big day of the parade! I wasn’t originally planning on wearing a costume, but all I’ve heard since I’ve been here is “What’s your costume like?” so I decided to set the day aside and get something together. Boy, am I glad I did because getting ready that night before the parade and dressing up really was half the fun. I can post some of my tamer pics below, but the others will half to remain off-line ;-) Unfortunately Josh and I were in a different section from the others from our hostel, but we had a wild time and met a lot of people. In the chaos in the streets on the way there we lost each other and there was a little while I was nervous walking around alone, but we reunited at the entrance and all was well.

But the parade! Oh my gosh! What a celebration! I’ve heard of the amazing floats, dancing, and costumes, but I didn’t expect it to the extent it was. The floats where all masterpieces - creative, colorful, original, detailed, and absolutely fabulous. The hundreds of people dancing samba in between the floats where extremely talented, well rehearsed, and wearing costumes that where just as impressive as the floats.

Allow me to apologize for this video. I was quite hammered and didn’t manage to get one scrap of non-shaky or non-drunk footage that night. But I had an amazingly fun night.

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Mon 23 - Spent the day exploring Rio and the night with friends around the entrance to the parade where we got to see the costumes up much closer and even try some on.

Oh, and notice the name of the beer we’re drinking! Antarctica!

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Tues 24 - I did a bit of sight seeing, went out to a great dinner and a few bars with a big group from my hostel.

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Wed 25 - Went to the beach with everyone from the hostel, then walked around and explored rio a bit, and then out with friends again.

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Thurs 26 - Okay, this was the first relaxing day for me, but only because I really didn’t want to miss my flight. I hung out in the hostel, uploaded photos, and left for my flight to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires in plenty of time.

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Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

Although I went to the Argentine side of the falls back in December, I hadn’t visited the Brazilian side because of the expensive visa for Americans ($135?). But its a small price to pay to be in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, and luckily I was passing through Foz do Iguazu on the way to Rio. I spent a few days waiting for the visa, explored the Brazilian side of the falls, read by the pool, got acclimated to the hot weather, and did some R & R.

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Salta, Argentina

Finally back in Argentina. And what is the first thing you think I’m going to do? If you said “eat steak” then you would be correct! My goodness, it had been almost 9 weeks (yes, I counted) since I had Argentine steak. And I was very pleased to introduce Michael to this marvelous dish. I was also sure to teach him the very important word anyone coming to Argentina should remember “jugozo” meaning “rare” which is how you simply must order your steak to get the most out of the flavor. Since I hadn’t yet been to Salta I didn’t know a place to go and, unfortunately, the first place we tried over cooked the meat, but the next day for lunch we had one of the best steaks I’ve had in Argentina.

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Bolivia

Michael and I did a 3 day tour in the south of Bolivia known as “The Uyuni Tour” since that’s the city most people start in, or “The Salt Flats Tour” since that’s the main highlight of the tour. In an SUV with 2 other couples and a driver we did a loop through the south of Bolivia, stopping at many natural, fascinating attractions along the way.

Day 1

We got into Uyuni by train the night before, got a good night’s sleep, booked the tour in the morning, and set out at about 11am. First stop was a train cemetery where there are many retired trains to climb on. Next stop was a hotel/restaurant made of salt and full of statues all made of salt. Then we went to an island in the middle of the salt flats, which we climbed to the top of. Then we did all the optical illusion photos on the salt flats, had lunch, and walked around on the flats for a while.

I brought out a deck of cards before dinner and that night we all stayed up late playing a fun and apparently pretty well-known card game called President. Then again, maybe it was just fun for me ’cause I was winning so much ;-)

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Day 2

We were warned well in advanced about the horrible roads on the second day, but boy they were bad. We even had to get out and walk for part of it.

And it was another late night playing President.

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Day 3

I know the salt flats are the main part of this tour, but to me and Michael the glaciers where even more fascinating. I think they’re really one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen. I got good photos and video, but I can’t even describe the strong, almost sickening, smell of sulfur coming deep out of the earth through the bubbling blue and orange pools all around us. It seemed straight out of a sci-fi movie. Then we relaxed/bathed in some natural hot springs and road around the dessert close to the boarder of Chile.

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Train Ride

It all started when we somehow missed our bus from Potosi to Uyuni. But it turned our to be a blessing in disguise. Many people have told me not to take overnight buses in Bolivia because the road is so bad, but since we were short on time and there was no train from Potosi, we booked a bus ticket anyway. In the end, missing our bus did add an extra day to our trip, but the train ride was a lot of fun and well worth the extra time. So, we caught a bus back up to Oruro, and amazingly got one of the last seats on the train the next morning. Plenty of bear on the train, a nice dinner in the dinning car, a lovely smooth and scenic ride and a breathtaking sunset. I took a million pictures of the sunset, but after many attempts, I believe its impossible to capture the beauty of a sunset in a photo, even with my magnificent camera.

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Mine Tour

After parting with Cydney and Sarah in La Paz I took a very detoured ride (the bus broke down) to Potosi, the highest city in the world at 4090 meters, where I met up with Michael, a friend I did the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with. The first thing we did was walk around the city center where there was a parade with local music, traditional costumes and dance, and the biggest water fight I’ve ever seen. It looked like everyone in town was there and everyone was soaked, throwing water balloons, and shooting water guns and foam. We learned quickly that the tourists were an especially hot target and we were getting pounded constantly by stinging, point-blank blasts. I like to think we got some good shots in ourselves, though.

The next day we went on a tour of the Cerro Rico Mines. Its an active mine and even though it was a holiday we still came across miners working away. 45000 tons of pure silver were mined from Cerro Rico from 1556 to 1783. There are 8 levels, we visited 3 of them, which was plenty because it got extremely hot and cramped crawling through the narrow passages. Its amazing that the miners work 12-13 hour shifts, 6 days a week, and some even start at 8 years of age. At the beginning of the tour we bout dynamite, some we gave to the miners and some we blew up at the end, which was awesome.

Getting the gear

Getting the gear

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Dynamite!

Dynamite!

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The Museum.

The Museum.

The Mountain.

The Mountain.

Help! I\'m stuck!

Help! I\'m stuck!

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Making the hole for the dynamite

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The group.

The group.

Making the dynamite.

Making the dynamite.

Oh, and a random side note: Yes, I died my hair dark brown. I think these are the first photos of it. Cydney and Sarah were the masterminds and convinced me to do it. I was a little shocked at first, but am getting used to it and liking it more and more. Of course, Michael didn’t even notice. hehe. ;-)

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Death Ride

Its the most dangerous ride in the world. 70 km (43.5 miles) from La Paz to Coroico, starting at about 4600 meters and descending to 1700. The most narrow part of the road is 3 meters wide, although a lot of it is wider. But the dangerous part is the 500 meter drop that you can look straight down most of the ride. 25 people have died on it in the last 30 years. Many people come to South America just for this ride and it had been at the top of my list for months. It wasn’t easy, but I was so glad I convinced my friend, Sarah, to do it with me. We went to 3 different shops around La Paz searching for a place that had bikes small enough for her and which she felt comfortable on.

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Getting ready...

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From the start

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Getting the safety speech

Getting the safety speech

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First dangerous part

The trail

The trail

The trail

The trail

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break

break

skinniest part

skinniest part

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San Pedro Prison in La Paz

Sarah, Cydney, and a group of friends from the hostel went on the famous San Pedro Prison tour. It was definitely an unforgettable experience. One of the most unique prison’s on the world. There are only adult male inmates, but their wives and children are allowed to move into the prison and live with them.

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Lake Titicaca

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Cydney’s B-day in Arequipa

After the Jungle tour ended in Cusco I took a bus to Arequipa to meet Cydney (my roommate from Buenos Aires) for her birthday. We walked around town a bit, I bought and baked a cake, and we celebrated with a bunch of people at the Point hostel.

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Motorcycle Diaries: Calca to Cusco

Just a little video on my motorcycle trip from Calca to Cusco.

Not to imply that Cusco is hell, I just like the song. Enjoy! :-D

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The Manu Rainforest in Peru

I did a 4 day Jungle tour in the Manu Rain forest, 100 miles west of Cusco, in the south-west of Peru. Unfortunately, the first and fourth days were basically driving there and back from Cusco, which where adventures in their own, but I really only had about 2 days in the Jungle. But to be honest, that was enough for me. Although I had a fun time, I got plenty of bug bites, didn’t appreciate the humidity, and after the Inca trail, the food wasn’t up to par.

I did get to meet a lot of fun people, though, do a lot of fun things such as river rafting and zip lining, and see a lot of exotic plants and wildlife. Some of the wildlife we saw were monkeys, caiman, toucans, and many other exotic birds. Although the tour guide and I butted heads a bit, he was very knowledgeable and passionate about…well…pretty much everything. He especially got excited getting us all up at 5am to go bird watching and fungi hunting, which, I hate to admit, I actually thought was pretty fun. Fungi is actually pretty interesting stuff. Did you know that shelf fungi plays an important role in the jungle because it rots the dead trees, helping them to decay and once the fungi infects a tree it can’t be killed?

If the trip was anything, it was definitely an adventure. From the get-go we had quite a few unfortunate mishaps and equipment failures, but the crew always managed to pull something together to get us through. On the way to the jungle the axle on our van broke and we were stranded for a bit, but the crew managed to tie a stick to it to “fix” it. During the river rafting none of our life jackets fit properly and we noticed our raft had a leak, but they assured us that we would probably make it to our destination before it sank. Then we got lost on our first hike in the jungle as it was getting dark, but we eventually managed to find our way back to the campsite. In face, throughout the whole trip I was always hearing things like, “Yeah, sure, you can swim in the river, I don’t think there are any piranha or snakes in the water. And if there are some snakes, they certainly wont be anything as big or deadly as an anaconda” and “I’m pretty sure this is the way back to the camp” and “You might run into some spiders in your rooms, but as long as they don’t have bright colors on them they probably aren’t poisonous, just let me know right away if you get bit by anything.” They were probably pulling our legs, but they sure sounded dead serious. But I can’t complain, because I was looking for an adventure, and that’s what I got.


Manu Rainforest from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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Week in Cusco

I stayed with a really nice family and took classes Mon-Fri at the same ECELA school that I attended in Buenos Aires and Santiago. During the afternoons I explored the city, hung out with friends from school, and with Cydney at her hostel (and studied, of course).

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The Ruins: Tipon, Piquillacta, Saqsaywaman, Q’enqo, Tambomachay, Pukapukara

Other than the famous Machu Picchu ruins there are many ruins in and around Cusco. I especially liked the Tipon and the Piquillacta ruins because since they’re a little further and it was a bit misty the day Cydney and I went, we were the only people there and it felt like we were explorers discovering the ruins for the first time.

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Brittni Comió Cuy

Want the translation? You’ll probably regret it once I tell you. Okay, brace yourself…
“Brittni ate guinea pig”

So, there it is and yes, it’s true. Here’s the proof:

It wasn’t actually as good as I made it look, but I had to fake it to get Cydney to try it ;-). I think seeing the little feet got to my head. I feel like if I grew up with eating them instead of having them as pets, it wouldn’t bother me. Well, no one can ever say that I’m not willing to try new things. I hear there’s a town in the South of Peru where I can eat cats. I don’t know if I would go that far, though. ;-)

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Hotel Los Niños. Inspiring.

Here’s a little video and story about a hotel I stayed at in Cusco:

From the website http://www.ninoshotel.com/:

“The Niños Story in short:

In July 1996 Jolanda van den Berg left for Cusco in Peru. Half a year before she’d been in Peru on holiday and had seen many children begging on the streets. She decided to do something about it. Even if she could only help one child, she thought, it would be worth it.

Almost directly after her arrival in Cusco, Jolanda adopted two children. Within a year her family had grown to 12 children.

In 1998 Jolanda began the Niños Hotel from which profits are spent on child aid projects also initiated and lead by Jolanda. Since May 2002 there is a second Niños Hotel in Cusco, with the same aim.

The Niños Hotels together with a large number of Niños donors allow 500 extremely neglected children to get a hot meal every day, a warm shower, medical aid, dental aid, homework lessons.”

http://www.ninoshotel.com/

Someday I will make this kind of difference. Segura.


Hotel Los Niño from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Finally in Cusco

After a 22 hour bus ride which was also delayed because the tire blew, we finally made it to Cusco!

I hate to share some bad news, but unfortunately, I’ve been a bit sick the last few days. I think I’m actually fighting off 2 things: a pretty standard cold and a stomach bug which I believe to be from the polluted water I surfed in (I know, not the best idea I’ve ever had - then again, not the worst). But at least I’m not hungover …like I was yesterday :-l

But the show must go on! I’m getting up early tomorrow to do a light jog and start getting my body acclimated to the high altitude. I’m between 11-12,000 ft and need to be ready for my 4 day Inca trail hike to Machu Picchu starting this Saturday! So excited! :-)

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Thank You Santa!

For Christmas this year I got a Canon Powershot G10. I love it so much and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about upgrading their camera. It is, by far, the best camera I have ever owned. I’ve been more motivated to take artsy photos instead of just point-smile-shoot, like I usually do, and am really interested in learning more about photography. I’ve got a bunch of great shots with it so far, but unfortunately they loose quality when I upload them, so you wont be able to appreciate them at there fullest.

Here are some photo’s of a water park I went to with some friends:

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Here’s a video of the fountain that had the kid’s playing in it. I didn’t get a video of me playing in the adult fountain, but it looked similar, just bigger:


Lima Water Park from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Bus Accident in Lima

I was sitting in the front seat of a local bus just like the one that you see speed by us and get into an accident with a car in this video. And I started recording this video because the driver of my bus was driving sooo crazily! Can you believe that?
Be sure to watch until the end so you can see the front of the bus after we drive by it. Since I was in the front seat, I would definitely be in the hospital or dead if that was my bus!
…um…not to make anyone at home more worried than they already are.

Oh, and I did a little editing in iMovie for emphasis. So, no, the bus didn’t really crash 3 times.

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First Stop - Lima, Peru

After about 11 hours on the plane, I landed safely in Lima, took a shuttle to my hostel and dropped off my bags. And what was the next thing I did? Met a few other girls and went on a run with them! It was a great way to explore the city a bit while expanding built-up energy from the plane ride. We ran to the beach and along the coast and saw a bunch of surfers which got me really excited to go surfing, so that was the next thing I did! Even though I didn’t think I needed a lesson, the lesson was about the same price as just renting the board and wetsuit, so I did it anyway. But I did get up on my own, even with a much thinner board than I’m used to. The water was nice and warm and it was a beautiful day. The only down sides were that the water seemed pretty polluted and I got sick later that day and at some point I managed to kick something very prickly, probably a sea anemone, which I had to pull a piece out of my toe later with tweezers.

I meet up with my old roommate from Buenos Aires, Cydney, who I’ll be traveling with for a few weeks and we walked around town a bit, did some errands, took some pictures, and then went back and hung out at the hostel.

I also got a local sim card, in case anyone needs to get a hold me: (051-01-9) 8569-0416

A Chinese restaurant in Lima

A Chinese restaurant in Lima

On the coast in Miraflores, Lima

On the coast in Miraflores, Lima

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My friend, Cydney

My friend, Cydney

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Reading a Spanish book I bought right before the picture was taken

Reading a Spanish book I bought right before the picture was taken

For some reason, everyone just wanted to kiss me that day.

For some reason, everyone just wanted to kiss me that day.

Me and my surfing teacher

Me and my surfing teacher

Ok, the board I used was actually a little bigger than that one ;-)

Ok, the board I used was actually a little bigger than that one ;-)

Cydney

Cydney

Not me, but I looked just like that

Not me, but I looked just like that

The beach in Lima

The beach in Lima

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Hanging out at the hostel, trying new, exotic fruit

Hanging out at the hostel, trying new, exotic fruit

My friend and the hostel cat

My friend and the hostel cat

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Gap Year Part 2 - The Adventure Begins

After a wonderful month back home visiting friends and family in California, I’m psyched to start the next part of my year off! For those of you I haven’t told, I have some pretty cool stuff planned out for the next 6 months. Here’s an overview of my plans:

I’m starting in Peru - Lima, Cusco, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, then Lake Titicaca.
Then I’ll be heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Carnival. To get there I’ll go through Bolivia and spend some time in the rain forest, see the salt flats in Bolivia and Argentina, and pass through the Iguazu falls again.
After Carnival in Rio I’m heading down to Ushuaia, Argentina, the furthest most city in the world, where my boat to Antarctica will leave from on March 2nd for a 12 day voyage. I have plenty of warm clothes packed and I’m reading a bunch of books on Antarctica now to get psyched up.
After Antarctica I’m going to be heading North again. I’ll be passing through a few places I visited in Argentina and Chile in November, but then making my way back up through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, then taking a ferry to Panama, and then through the rest of Central America. I would love to take a detour to the Galapagos Islands while I’m in Ecuador, if time and money permits. I’m going to try to avoid time constraints and take it easy. What I’ve realized more and more after traveling is that the more flexible I can be the better. So, my only real time constraint is to be home by mid-July in order to get ready for a big motorcycle ride to Sturgis, South Dakota. At one point, however, I do plan on stopping for at least 2-4 weeks in a smaller town (probably in Guatemala since I’ve heard such good things) and doing some volunteer work (probably teaching English to kids). And I also have it in the back of my mind to look at possibly taking a Dive Master Course along the way as well.

Well, that’s it. I’ll really try to keep on this blog as much as possible, posting photos, videos, and writing about my experiences. :-)

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SKYDIVING!

I finally went Skydiving! I’ve been wanting to so long and finally I made it happen - and also talked my brother and 3 friends into doing it with me! Yes! It was so much fun and on of the most intense experiences of my life. Can’t wait to do it again!

Here’s my jump:
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And here’s Brent’s jump:
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Penguin Colony in Puerto Madryn, Argentina


Penguin Colony from Brittni Daley on Vimeo.

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Southern California Road Trip

My friends and I have been planning this trip for months and it was all worth it! My super tight group from the DC program had 12 of us and all of us made it (even if just for a dinner) which is really amazing! Those of us living in the bay area drove down together and made a week long road trip out of the event. Here are most of the activities from the week:

Day 1 - Me and four of my friends drove down to LA. When we got there we drove around a bit, did some touristy stuff in Hollywood, climbed up to the Hollywood sign, went out to Persian food, and then to a bar in Newport called Sharkyz.
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Day 2 - We woke up early and headed up to bear mountain to go snowboarding. Unfortunately, the resort was sold out of tickets when we got there so we just drove back towards Newport and down the coast. We got some great tacos and clam chowder at Crabby’s in Huntington Beach and stopped at a little park just south of Laguna for an amazing sunset. Then went down to LA and out to a great Japonese Restaurant called Yakitori.
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Day 3 - We went out to a great breakfast, then went to Balboa park, took a nap next to the fountain, saw a magic show, explored the science museum a bit, watched “Wild Ocean” a the Imax theater, and went to my friend Christine’s place to have a party and bring in the new year!
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Day 4 - Christine, Ainslie, and I went down to old town San Diego, got some Mexican food, explored the shops and museums, and got some taffy. Later we met up with a bunch more old friends from the DC program and went out to dinner at Buca di Beppo, then back to an apartment where Jenny surprised the three December babies with a birthday cake, then we all went out dancing at a club called PB, then back to Christine’s apartment and partied til the break of dawn!
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Day 5 - After the big party we had a loungy day, hanging out, went out to Pho, taking naps, watching movies, and that night we made a big dinner like we used to do all the time in DC.
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Day 6 - We headed up to Irvine, went out to sushi, and hung out in a park for a while. Then went to the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel where my aunt works and got us a great discount. We had an amazingly pampered afternoon at the Ritz. First we watched the sunset over the ocean from the balcony of our ocean front room, then took a long walk on the beach, then went out to dinner at a local restaurant where we watched a great Charger game (and they won in overtime!). When we got back to the hotel waiting for us was delicious champagne and decadent chocolate covered strawberries that my aunt had sent to us. Then Ainslie and I put on bathrobes and went to the jacuzzis and explored around the hotel.
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Day 7 - We woke up at the Ritz and drove back home to the bay area.

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Mac and PC

Just for fun!

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New Year’s

I had a very safe and fun New Year’s with my friends in San Diego, California, but I wanted to share this story about my old roommate in Buenos Aires. Cydney Schwartz is a 20 year old girl from New York City, but she is wise beyond her years.

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Robbed on New Years Eve.
Posted on 12/31/08 at 11:20pm
I was robbed, ½ a block away from my house in daylight. I was moving out of my apartment, and planned to catch a cab to my friend Jenny’s house. I walked to the corner of Libertad and stood looking for a cab, but nothing. It was New Year’s eve, people here don’t like to work on the holidays. A man told me to walk a block toward Nueve de Julio, which is the main highway here in Buenos Aires, and is pretty much what I would have done anyway.

So I walked, in the safe neighborhood of Tribunales, ½ a block from my house, with all of my stuff, in broad daylight. I am almost at the end of a block when a couple approaches me. They come to me, swiftly and quietly, with out saying a word and grab my bags on both sides. The man is short and dark–the woman is skinny. I pull away, and yell “no no,” then the woman presses something cold on my throat and says, “callate!” I keep saying “no, no” and then I realize, there is a knife on my throat. So I relent. The man takes my giant backpack, and the woman takes my purse with my passport, credit cards, $100 in cash, tickets to Uruguay and Salta, and camera. I walk to the street corner, sit on the ground and begin to cry. I cry and cry and cry. I cry because I am not one of those stupid travelers that walks down dark alleys and waves money around. I cry because this is the first time I ever carried my passport, credit card, and camera together. I cry because I just bought a new black sequined top that that stupid toothless bitch won’ t even fit into. I cry because I am scared and angry and sad and I had a million plans for the next few months and it had all just turned to shit. Mostly I cried because we live in such a shit world where people are so hungry and desperate they have to turn to this kind of violence. People passed by, tried to comfort me. The police were called and promised to look for them—sure they would! I just cried and cried sitting on that street corner, feeling the places where she had pressed the knife.

It has been four hours since the robbery, and I’m still not ok. I shooken up, I’m scared, but mostly, I’m sad that the world is the way it is. I am sad about terrorist bombings in Israel. I am sad about the genocide in Darfur. I am sad that there is war, and homelessness, and corruption. I will be fine, but those people will be living on the street their whole life.

I have been living in a bubble. Sure I did tons of volunteer work in high school, taught English in Africa this summer, witnessed extreme poverty, but all of that was on my own time. I had a home to go back to, a life to look forward too, and while terrible things were happening, well, I had my bubble. This whole experience, it had made me realize that I am not immune to the decaying world around me. I am a spec of dirt beneath the inferno. I can never ever go back to my bubble.

I have always been a big dreamer, but dreams, dreams won’t feed that child sleeping in a cardboard box tonight. I need to start doing things, because if all we ever do is dream, everything will stay the way it is. Changing the world is not something I want to do when I grow up, its something I want to do today. Well, today just happens to be January 1st. So Happy New Year everyone! But more than that Happy New World!
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I don’t want to make my friends (and mainly my dad) more nervous about me going back to South America than they already are, but this could happen anywhere and isn’t that common in the places I will be going in South America.

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Ski & Snowboard Trip

After flying back to the states, I had two days back home before I headed up to the slopes at Squaw Valley with my dad and brother. Although the season got off to a late start, the conditions this weekend have been superb. Beautiful fresh powder, but warm and not too blizzardy. A ski trip was the perfect way to get my dad, brother, and myself away from our busy lives and catching up with each other. I also learned that beautiful, fluffy powder + high end tequila = BIG AIR and Lightning speed ;-)

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Steak, Steak and More Steak!

What to do during my last days in Argentina? Eat steak! Truthfully, though, the steaks here were definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Richard and I came back from Iguazu on Saturday morning (my birthday) and then went back to Tigre, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires with canals for streets. That night we went to a tango show which was really great and then back to our favorite restaurant, Desnivel. Sunday we did some Christmas shopping at the Recoleta Market, a local crafts market, and then I met up with my old roommate, Cydney. Monday we did a bit more Christmas shopping on Florida Ave and that night went to La Bomba, which is a big outdoor drum concert and met up with people from our old Spanish schools. For anyone in or going to BA, I recommend going to La Bomba if you get a chance, its every Monday night and a lot of fun. That night was my last night in Argentina (on this trip, anyway) so we had dinner at La Cabrera, where we first met. I guess all in all we had a pretty lazy last few days, but whenever I started feeling guilty for not getting out to more museums and doing more sight seeing, I just convinced myself that I was on vacation and needed to relax before coming back. Plus, I think I did pretty much everything I wanted to do during my first month in BA from Sept-Oct.

At the Japanese Garden in Palermo

At the Japanese Garden in Palermo

On the boat in Tigre

On the boat in Tigre

At the Tango Show

At the Tango Show

The Tango Show

The Tango Show

One of many, many steaks. So delicious.

One of many, many steaks. So delicious.

Sorry to all the Veges out there.

Sorry to all the Veges out there.

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Action shot.

Action shot.

Birthday dinner at Desnivel.

Birthday dinner at Desnivel.

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Real beers.

Real beers.

At La Bomba

At La Bomba

Last dinner in Argentina. Unfortunately, I don\'t remember much.

Last dinner in Argentina. Unfortunately, I don\'t remember much.

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Frozen margarita. A little bigger than I expected.

Frozen margarita. A little bigger than I expected.

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Iguazu Falls

For my last trip in Argentina before I come home for the holidays Richard and I went up to the Iguazu Falls for 3 nights and 4 days. Although the bus ride was 16 hours from Buenos Aires, we did the super cama (super bed) option which is like the most pimped out bus ride you can imagine. Free whiskey, wine, champain, good food, good movies, and a great big chair that fully reclines (pics below). I know it sounds like I’m spending a lot, but the truth is that its only about a US $10-15 dollar difference from the lower option, so I believe its well worth the upgrade.

I had heard a lot about the Iguazu Falls before I went, but was still very impressed and glad I had an opportunity to visit them during this trip. The first day we arrived we went to the National Park and did a boat tour that took us right underneath the falls. What an experience! I couldn’t take a video or pictures myself, but decided to purchase the video they took and although I look ridiculous in it, I posted it below so you can see how much fun it was!

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Colonia and Montevideo, Uruguay

Alright, so Richard and I talked each other out of taking classes in Buenos Aires in December and going traveling instead. After we met up in Buenos Aires (he was in Antarctica) and a few days around BA, we took the ferry over to Uruguay. First we spent a day in Colonia, which was a cute little town with many little museums, parks, and a lot of Portuguese history. Then we spent a few days in Montevideo, the capital. We did a tour of Torre Antel, walked around Plaza Independencia, saw the city founder (Artigas’) remains which are always guarded, went to the Carnival museum, went to the flee market, did a tour of the Teatro Solis ( a bit of Spanish practice). And you know me, the highlight is always food ;-) We ate at Mercado del Puerto which was a huge indoor warehouse-type-building with a bunch of parrillas (barbeques) inside. It’s very similar to Mercado Central in Santiago, but with parrilla instead of fish. It was really busy because there were a ton of people off of a cruise liner that was docked for the day. We tried to go to a few other museums, but unfortunately we had a bit of bad luck because they were closed.

We also came across an interesting group of French musicians who were playing on the street. I’ve been wanting to learn the saxophone for a while and watching how much fun they were having makes me every more enthusiastic to learn. I also looked up there website, which I found quite interesting:
http://www.globenote.org/site/accueil.php
I’m uploading a video of them now. Will post soon.

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Puerto Madryn, Argentina

I took an overnight bus from Bariloche to Puerto Madryn. Arrived in Puerto Madryn around 7am, found my hostel, dropped off my stuff, and went on a whale watching tour. We had really great luck with a mom and baby Southern Right Whales (Ballena Franca Austral in Spanish). They came so close to the boat I could almost reach out and touch them and they were both doing so many tricks, such as jumping straight out of the water, sticking their tales up, and rolling over on their backs so we could see the whites of their stomachs. After the whale watching we went to a small Penguin Colony on Peninsula Valdez and then to the museum on for the national park on the peninsula.

The next day I did another tour. The first part of the tour was dolphin watching and the second, main part was at the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony. The dolohin watching was fun, but they are so fast that I didn’t get any pictures of them, but I did get some video. (The picture below is a picture I took of another picture). The Penguin Colony was really great. I loved watching the little guys walk around, and couldn’t believe how many of them there are there. The guide said there are around 500,000 magellan penguins that come each year.

That night my hostel prepared a great feast and we all ate, drank, and hung out for many hours. Though this hostel is run by locals, there happened to be a big group of Irish there at that time, so I got to learn a lot about Irland. They also taught me a bit of Gaelic and told me that I shouldn’t spell my last name with an “e” haha. Thought that was quite interesting.

The next morning was really beautiful so after I checked out of the hostel I walked along the beach with a couple of girls from my hostel to the ecological museum. Unfortunately, it was closed so we just hung out for a bit at the beach and walked around the town. That afternoon I took a bus back to Buenos Aires.

Peninsula Valdez

Peninsula Valdez

Geared and ready to go!

Geared and ready to go!

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The mama waving \"hello!\"

The mama waving \"hello!\"

The mama and baby side by side

The mama and baby side by side

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Big, fat, lazy sea lions

Big, fat, lazy sea lions

Me and the tour guide

Me and the tour guide

Yes, I took this picture   ....of another picture ;-)

Yes, I took this picture ....of another picture ;-)

It walked up closer to me after the pic was taken

It walked up closer to me after the pic was taken

Soooo cute!

Soooo cute!

...yet such mean little buggers

...yet such mean little buggers

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Armadillo! I named him Willy :-)

Armadillo! I named him Willy :-)

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The feast and the hostel

The feast and the hostel

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Bariloche, Argentina

On Sunday 11/23 I took the bus to Puerto Montt and then to Bariloche. Then went to my hostel, Penthouse 1004, where I met a bunch of people, drank wine, made dinner, and hung out. On Monday I when on a hike with a group near the Frey Wilderness. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn in the beginning and didn’t make it to the Frey, but we still had a great adventure, a fun hike, and took a lot of scenic photos. The group I was with has traveled extensively in Australia and South-east Asia, and a bit in India and after hearing their stories I’ve been getting really excited to explore that side of the world.

On Tuesday I rented a tent, packed the sleeping bag, food and warn clothes and we made our second attempt to the Frey. After a 12km hike with a bit of steep uphill we arrived at one of the most scenic places I have visited on my trip. We hung out, made dinner, drank wine, played cards (learned some new drinking games), and spent the night in the tents. A few of us woke up early Wednesday morning to watch the sunrise. Then we hiked back and rechecked into the hostel.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and a pretty lazy day for me. I was planning on making myself a nice Thanksgiving dinner, but was missing family and didn’t feel much like celebrating so I walked around town a lot, did a bit of shopping, a lot of reading, went to an ice skating rink, and went to my first Catholic church service (and doing so got in a bit of Spanish practice). That night the hostel had a big wine tasting party and went to a bar afterward which was a a lot of fun.

First diner at Hostel 1004

First diner at Hostel 1004

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First attempt to the Frey

First attempt to the Frey

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Wait...which way is that arrow pointing?

Wait...which way is that arrow pointing?

Uggg...men!  hahaha.

Uggg...men! hahaha.

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Heavy tent, but was worth the work.

Heavy tent, but was worth the work.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey

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Almost a bird eye view of the lake (in previous pic).

Almost a bird eye view of the lake (in previous pic).

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A little after sunset.

A little after sunset.

I need a better camera because this does not do that sunrise justice.

I need a better camera because this does not do that sunrise justice.

(from my friend\'s nicer camera).

(from my friend\'s nicer camera).

On my way down from the peak.

On my way down from the peak.

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Dang, I always jump too early.

Dang, I always jump too early.

Wine party at the hostel on Thanksgiving.

Wine party at the hostel on Thanksgiving.

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