Tuesday, May 15, 2007
From South America to the South Pacific
It’s Sunday, May 13th and I am about half way between the continental U.S. and the Hawaiian islands. I have explained to most everyone back home in Alabama how it came about that I am here, but for everyone who missed that story, I shall explain.
Originally, I had lined up passage on a sailboat that I was to crew on, starting in Tonga on June 7th. The owner of the boat and his fiancee were in New Zealand getting the boat ready when his fiancee became very ill. It turns out that she has cancer all over her insides. I have not heard much further from the captain since the cancellation of this trip, but I do keep them in my prayers every day. Now this news was definitely a shock to me and I was not sure about what I should do. Since I found out about it the day before I was flying to Peru to get on the Inca trail, I decided not to worry about the affect it had on me at that time. After taking in the sudden change in plans, I started exploring the possibility of finding other boats in the South Pacific to crew on. I sent emails and researched postings on line for different sites with crew finders on them and decided to leave it up to fate. Worst case, I stayed in South America longer. I figure a good six months down there is what it would take to really see most of the continent. Hopefully, I can get back down there at some point in my journey and take the time to see everything. My short trip there, was no where near long enough, but everyday was another adventure through and amazing landscape, like nothing I have seen before. By the time I had confirmation from the boat I am joining, “Sugarcane”, I was on an Isle del Sol in Lake Titicaca, near Copacabana, Bolivia. There was not email on the island so when I returned, I found I had the opportunity to be on my choice of two different boats. After careful consideration and a phone call to one of the owners of the boats, I decided to join Sugarcane. It was May 3rd, and he wanted me to be in Hawaii on May 10th. I told the captain and owner of the boat that I would head to La Paz that afternoon and see what I could work out.
After a 3 and a half hour bus ride, I arrived in La Paz in time to stop by the office of the airline whom I already had a flight back to the U.S. booked with. The cost to fly me to Miami from La Paz was around $1,000 so needless to say, that was out of the questions. I could change my flight from May 24th out of Lima for $100. This was acceptable to me, and the soonest they could get me out of Lima was on May 6th. After careful consideration, I determined that I could get to Lima by then and decided to change my flight. Three days away, an entirely different country and about 1500 miles away, it would be a long journey to make. If anything went wrong, I would not make it home. I called the captain told him I would be there around the twelfth and spent the rest of the evening arranging all of my travels.
The next morning began with a walk to the bus station, followed by a 12 hour bus ride to Cuzco along the shore of Lake Titicaca. Now 12 hours may sound like a long time on bus to most of you, but this is pretty standard in South America. Between reading The Life of Pi along the way, and looking out the window, the trip practically flew by. While at one of the stops, I had met a couple of Irish girls who were on the bus and were heading into Cuzco as well. When we arrived, the thee of us checked into the same hostel, and I gave them a five minute tour of the town since I had been there before. We all went out for dinner and enjoyed a typical three dollar three course meal. The next day began with an early flight to Lima from Cuzco, followed by a day exploring Lima with an American couple whom I met at the airport in Cuzco. After a long day of seeing as much of the city as possible, including a strange Chinatown, I was starting to feel the affects of being tired from so much travel. The next day was the journey to Miami. It took three flights to cross the borders of four different countries. I went from Peru to Columbia to Costa Rica and finally made it to the U.S. at the Miami airport at almost midnight. After arriving and going through customs, I found a dark spot to sleep for a few hours and awoke at four in the morning, took a cab to the train station and rode the train to the Fort Lauderdale airport. There, I flew to Orlando, switched planes and finally arrived in Birmingham, Alabama where my sister picked me up from the airport along with my niece and nephew.
It was nice to have a few days back home, to catch up with friends and see all of my family. Since I was flying on free Southwest flights, the trip to Alabama was right on the way from Miami to L.A, where I needed to be to catch the flight to Hawaii that I am on right now. From what I could tell, Alabama had not changed much since I left. Things seemed to be going on just as before, but I have to admit that I missed it. The five days I spent there, were filled mostly with running errands and getting things together for my trip to the South Pacific. New swimsuits, a new day pack, a laptop and plenty of paperbacks donated from several friends were my newest travel supplies. I spent as much time with my different friends and family as I could. It was great to see everyone and I wish I had more time there. At the moment, I don’t know when I will return or for how long, but fortunately, I will have cell phone service while in Hawaii so if anyone wants to catch up, please give me a call!