Has it really been three months?

...so I'm being pressured to write something by my lovely soon to be hitched bff. It's been three months or something crazy like that. Gee time flies. Maybe I'll just do a bullet list of updates, though most of you know a lot of what's been going on with me. :)
  • Dog bite healed and I finished up all five rabies shots. It's called a vacuna antirabia. Rabia also means anger/rage. So I like to think I'm safe and healthy on a range of levels.
  • I've been traveling since the end of April, went to visit a Chilote in Castro on the main island of ChiloĆ©. Fun, but realized that my tourist visa was about to expire, so I had to cut my trip there short and travel to Bariloche (in Argentina) to renew my 90-day entrance stamp.
  • Vipassana Meditation, 10 days in silence, no communication of any kind, no music, no reading, no nada, in the middle of May. This was probably the most intense thing I've ever done in my life. It beats a marathon stamina-wise. You wouldn't expect it, but sitting 10 hrs a day or so hurts! And just sitting with yourself with zero distractions is serious business. I'd recommend it to anybody (http://www.dhamma.org/). There are all kinds of these retreats in the States. It's free, a donation at the end of the journey. Plus the food, wow, delicious, simple vegetarian and super healthy. (I've been veg ever since, apart from seafood, something I'd been thinking about doing for ages.) It was a cleanse in many ways, just about every character I've met in this life visited me. Been pretty good about keeping up the morning meditations, though it can be hard with overnight buses, dorms, etc.
  • Hung out in Santiago, taking a travel writing workshop for the magazine. Here decided that my travels would take me to Ecuador, so I could be trained and help organize a bit the remodel of our web site. I've been doing this whole trip overland and visited quite a few little places on the way north in Chile.
  • I turned 30.
  • Traveling traveling north to San Pedro de Atacama (though I meant to go to Salta, Argentina, but either the pass to get there was closed or the buses weren't running on the days I was ready to go.) From Atacama met some folks and we traveled 4x4 style to Salar de Uyuni. World's largest salt flat (4,085 square miles according to Wikipedia) in the altiplano of Bolivia. The group of people on this trip were so fun and we did all the crazy Salar photos, one of the girls brought toy dinosaurs as props. Awesome. Here's one photo one of the guys sent to me... It's not the funny Salar posing type of foto, just me holding the sun at its dawn... basically the vast expanse of white makes it so that you can take zany pictures because you have no sense of depth out there.

  • This was also part of the trip where I bribed the Bolivian officials at the border to let me in for only four days. I traveled pretty extensively in Bolivia last year before the new Visa regs they have for USA. Now, if you're from the States, you have to pay $100 buckaroos to enter the country. What? I guess it's fair if you consider how hard it is for them to get a tourist visa to the states. Anyway, supposedly Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and you can (and often must) bribe your way around. That means in my passport I have an exit stamp for Chile and then I'm nowhere for four days, before getting my re-entrance into Chile.
  • Other trip highlights include Arequipa, Peru, which seriously has the most beautiful main plaza that I've seen in South America. It's a beautiful city, if a little foul smelling on account of all the diesel autos. There, I hiked around in Colca Canyon... the gulp... second deepest canyon in the world. Ha! I hiked it with a few other people and they had the fish-story way. You know, how the fish that you caught gets bigger with every telling. They swear when they tell of their trip, that they will have climbed down and out of the DEEPEST canyon in the world (which is Cotohausi and in the same neck of the woods). And I kept saying that they can't do that, it wasn't the deepest canyon, and we all laughed at me. But they're right, it sounds way better to day deepest canyon in the world, than SECOND deepest. I also climbed up Misti Volcano (totally unclimatized, not a good idea!). Highest I've ever been at 5,825 meters, more than 19,000 feet. I made it, cold and dizzy. About 7 hours to get up (from a high camp), starting at 3 a.m., and only 45 minutes to get back down to the high camp. Coming down was SO much fun, like skiing, all loose sand, down down down.
  • For the last couple weeks I've been beach hopping on the Ecuadorian coast. It's so nice to be warm. I hear it's frozen solid in Puerto Natales (where I go back in August). Been going for lots of barefoot beach runs and refreshing myself in the equator-warm Pacific afterward. I love this part. Oh, and all the yummy fresh fruit juices. I don't know how I live without fresh squeezed juice every morning. I'm going to have to figure something out for that.
  • Tomorrow, I'm headed to Quito, where I'll stay for a bit, do some hiking, hopefully climb Cotopaxi Volcano, and work on some web site stuff.
That's all for now...

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