Thursday, March 30, 2006

First of all, to those of you who noticed the headline on Yahoo! like I
did, I was not on that bus that 86'ed (that's ochenta-seised to you,
yankee) those 12 American tourists yesterday. Apparently they were
taking an excursion from some cruise boat and the driver got twitchy
and then it was game over. I actually saw the boat in Valparaiso when
I was there a few days ago and thinking "I am having so much more fun
than those people...or at least I am better looking."

Even so, for a moment even I was like "Oh god! Did Adam die in some
tragic bus excursion from a Cruise Ship in Chile? Where will I get my
blog updates?" Then I thought "That is impossible, Adam would never do
anything as garish as actually take a cruise" and then I thought "oh
yeah, I am not dead, or, even in the afterlife I can still get Yahoo!
mail. They weren't kidding when they say 'check your email from

OK, that last part was a bit much. So, since I am not dead or
dismembered, you get more travel updates.

Check this out:

With Hervey's help, I am uploading my photos, slowly, and here are a
few for you to enjoy.

Two weeks ago, I went from Santiago to Pucon, an 11+ hour overnight bus
A good friend once told me, the best things in life are the simplest.
I have also heard the three best things are a good sneeze, a good dump,
and a good O (thanks J-man). I'll let you decide. Right now, I have
to say that happiness, truly, is an overnight Chilean bus ride, a
charged ipod, and half an Ambien.

Pucon:small ski/vacation town in the Chilean Lake District in the
shadow of an active volcano-expect more photos online soon of this

As I mentioned before climbing Volcan Villaricca was my goal, which I
managed to do as an 'assistant guide' which meant I got to save 50
bucks on the climbing fee. The walk up was a snooze ("client pace,"
"we guides" call it in the "industry"), and the views were excellent
but sadly, no lava but a lot of sulphurous, acrid smoke at the top

It was a good thing they did since not only did this chubby dude from
the group (the Brit) fall in a crevasse (self arrest is not that hard
people) but he managed to take the guide Claudio with him who was, I am
not making this up, exactly half his size (240 vs 120), and then,
landed ON him.

Everyone walked out, but there was still drama. For those of you
thinking of Touching the Void or Vertical Limit (or even that Black
Eyed Peas song...don't touch the humps), it was not even close. In
fact, the whole thing happened in slow motion- much like the
steamroller scene from the first Austin Power's slow-motion. This guy
slid for almost 40 yards really, really slowly, and despite all his
chance to stop, and the half a minute of very simple instructions (i.e.
STOP!) getting yelled at him, never managed to. I was below this whole
scene at the time, getting to not only watch it all unfold, but
actually see the guide and the chubby dude plunge out of sight,
screaming, into a swallowing crevasse.

What about that last phrase sounded vaguel sexual? Wait, what didn't?

All I could think was "that did not really happen" much like all these
other things people warn you about constantly that MIGHT happen but,
come on, are never really going to happen to you. Other equally
horrifying examples include IRS Audits, termite problems,
ex-girlfriends dating your friends, and having to cut out dairy because
of a high cholesterol test.

In the next instant the following images crossed my mind: broken
bodies, blood, screaming people, rope rescues, helivacs, getting
interviewed on Chilean TV by some hot reporter, taking her out to
dinner and charming her with my media penetration in other South
American countries "Yeah Baby, I am huge in Uruguay" and "the hardest
part of that whole experience for me was -pausing casually leaning
forward, looking into her eyes, brushing the back of her hand- knowing
the babies and puppies that those brave men would leave behind. I love
babies and puppies, don't you?" and then "I never realized the
creativity that goes into network reporting-you are a real artist. No
really, I really think so. No I am not just saying that. You know,
you are really cute on camera. You think I am too? Have I mentioned
that I am a movie producer in town for a few nights...oh you have
always wanted to be in the movies? You think your apartment would be a
better place for this discussion? what a great idea!"

As I was running uphill at top speed for 200 yards in the thin air of
the high volcano, the lack of oxygen shook me out of the horror-fantasy
I quickly found, thankfully, to be completely unwarranted. As I peered
over the edge of the crevasse that moments before had swallowed the
guys, the same crevasse I imagined to be 100 feet deep like all the
other scary crevasses I had seen that day, in fact turned out to only
be about 10 feet deep. Furthermore, it did not have an evil crack that
snaps legs at it's bottom but a flat, snowy, very non-lethal floor.

They were bruised, and Claudio was limping real hard and looked like
someone broke a bottle over his face, but that is what you get when you
forget your helmet and then try to stop someone twice your size from
falling in a crevasse and they land on your leg. Or, of course, when
you tell an Irish ex wrestler that his girlfriend looks like your
grandfather after he has just finished his 14th Guinness. Either way,
not recommended.

I got to do some first aid on Claudio, and then we checked him and
British guy out. I am happy to report that everyone walked off the
mountain, albeit more some gingerly than they walked up. To add to the
excitement, I got picked to drive Claudio's sweet 4 x 4 down the
sketchy mountain road back to town where we went for beers (and cake to
celebrate another episode of not dying). The main criteria was that I
MUST know how to drive since I am American, AND of course since I amthe
"Assistant Guide." (There is a photo of me an Claudio on the photo
site of us in town).

That night I had dinner with a British investment banker (the chubby
one from the crevasse, who in all honesty is a great guy), a 56 year
old Swede who is a nurse/scuba instructor, and a stunningly cute 28
year old swiss internist who is finishing her final years of residency.
Who I did not know the day before and of course were all leaving the
next day.

So all in all, typical dinner company for a traveler like me. Not bad,

While in Pucon, I also went rafting (class IV just started to get
interesting), did some hiking with some new friends I made, jumped in
several freezing lakes, which in case you didn't know is ALWAYS worth
it to get in the water. Lake Villaricca was just one of them, see
photo online. I also spent an evening in these killer natural hot
springs, but that will have to wait until next time since it warrants
its own episode.



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