Date Written: Feb. 5, 2002 (6:00 p.m.)
Current Location: Bus to Montevideo
Subject: 6 strangers in Uraguay

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002
So today, we got up pretty early considering that we came home once again when the sun was up. The plan was to hit the beach for awhile. It was a little bit sunny in the morning but not much. Johanna, Caroline, and I headed out for the beach around 11 or so, but before I could bask in the glory of being in the vicinity of Johanna in a bikini, I had a little errand to run. Last night, Johanna and I had decided to stay in Uraguay an extra day and maybe hit Montevideo or Colonia for a day. She isn't sure if she wants to go to Iguazu with me, which kind of blows. We may split up for two days and then reunite in Rio. Anyway, that means I will not leave for Iguazu until Thursday but I have heard that two days is plenty of time there. One side each day. It might be tough though because I think the earliest I can get there is 2:20 p.m. That means I will have to find the hostel and get out and see the falls in a pretty short period of time.
So the point is that this morning I had to find an office to change my plane ticket which was originally scheduled to leave for Iguazu on Wed. morning from Montevideo. Since I bought this Mercosur airpass which is good on 5 or 6 airlines, I wasn't really quite sure where to begin. So after dropping the girls off at the beach, I began my search. I had an Aerolineas Argentinas flight so I went searching for their office. I found it, and after about 20 minutes I was able to find out that there were flights available for Thursday but in order to change it I had to have my ticket with me. Dammit. I had to go all the way back to the hostel to get my plane tickets. When I was there, I decided to grab my ATM card because as you remember I didn't take out near enough cash yesterday. Well by the time I had finished at the airline place and gotten to the bank and then back to the hostel to drop all that stuff off, well over an hour had passed. I was worried that the girls might have gotten sick of waiting for me. Also it was starting to get a bit cloudy. Well, I stopped real quick to send Tony an e-mail about stuff to bring while I was thinking about it and also to send a message to a few folks gloating that I was on my way to the beach. Just as I was about to leave the internet place, it started to rain. Doh!! That's what I get. Right about at that same moment, the girls came into the internet place. Weird. They had been wondering what the hell happened to me and were on their way back to the hostel to find me so we could get some food (we had not eaten since the previous night). After that, we all went this pizza place that was really cheap and grabbed a bite. Then we decided to walk around the town, which is actually really small. It was a fun day even though it was kinda gray. We took a bunch of pictures and basically covered the entire peninsula. The surf was really strong since it was kind of stormy weather so the waves looked great crashing on the rocks. I tried to take some pics of it so I hope they come out. I really need to get a real camera.
After that we came back to the hostel to chill and that basically brings us up to now...finally all caught up. A cool thing just happened. This random guy just invited us all to dinner at his place. I'll have to tell the tale tomorrow of how that goes. For now, I just want to say that every second of everyday, I have been appreciating the awesome things I have been living and seeing on this trip. Even though the weather is a bit crappy here in Punta del Este, I am really glad that I came here. I still can't believe I have been so lucky to travel with Johanna, who I am finding to be just as awesome inside as she is on the outside. Man, Tony is gonna die when he meets this girl. Okay sports's time for me to get ready to roll out. Peace.


Date Written: Febuary 6, 2002 (11:57 a.m.)
Current location: Punta del Este-hostel

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002 (con't)
So as I mentioned last night when I was writing, this guy asked us to dinner last night. How it all happened was pretty amazing. It all started because this guy across the hall comes out of his room and sees me and recognizes me. It turns out, he was one of the waiters at Napoleon from the night before but he remembered us because, as I said, we had been talking to those guys quite a bit. Well, that waiter guy had a friend with him, Juanjose, and we began talking for a few minutes. He is from Uraguay and has an apartment here in Punta del este. So this guy, after meeting me for about 2 minutes, invites me over to his place for dinner. Of course, I asked if I could bring Johanna and Caroline along. In the end we also ended up inviting the girl who was rooming with Caroline and also this other guy from the hostel, Frank. Holy cow, what can I say about Frank. I forgot to mention him yesterday. This guy is a true character!!!! He's this 40 year old Argentine guy who is a singer and an artist. He actually sings in english but doesn't know how to speak a word of it, which is very strange. Anyway, this guy sings Frank Sinatra songs almost perfectly...I mean you can barely detect the accent. He looks exactly like one of these older guys you'd find singing in an almost empty, smoky Las Vegas night club at 5 in the morning. It's funny because the first day in the hostel I could here someone playing Sinatra songs and singing for like 2 hours and I was thinking, "Good God, is this gonna go on forever!?" Well, after knowing him, I really think this guy COULD go on forever. He is hilarious. He kept on calling me Sammy (as in Davis Jr.)
Anyway, off we went to Juanjose's apartment. It was such an awesome time. There we were, an American, a Colombian, a Swiss, an Argentine, an Australian, and a guy from Uraguay, all breaking bread at the same table. It was like the freakin' united nations in there! It is such a great feeling to be in a room represented by so many different countries. We had an incredible time there drinking wine, eating, and talking a lot about the world and how people view each other, especially those from the US. Also, what was extremely interesting was to hear about how September 11 was seen from the eyes of 5 different people from 5 different countries. We talked about that for quite some time. It was also cool that we had Frank, who is 40, the Swiss girl, who was 30 something and then the rest of us ranging in age from 22 to 29. There was a wide range of ages represented too. It was such an enriching experience to pass the night there in the apartment of this random guy all the way here in Uraguay. It was just felt so good to pulled right into such a rich multicultural experience. The people from Uraguay are so open and good natured. I mean, this guy basically invited 5 complete strangers to his house for dinner on 2 hours notice. That, my friends, would NEVER happen the US. The feeling that you get inside from such a gesture that gives you such an experience is just indescribable. But it's that feeling that exactly defines why I do this. Living nights like I did last night and hearing and interacting with people from everywhere...that's what its all about to me. That's why its so important to get out there and live a bit. The feeling is more reward than I could ever imagine and certainly qualifies as something priceless. I just have to say that, there was another very important lesson that came out of that experience too. See, if I hadn't screwed up the exchange rate the previous day, I wouldn't have gone back to the hostel and met Caroline...which was integral because I wouldn't have ended up at Napoleon at the same time, if at all, and would have never sat next to those guys from NYC. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have developed a repore with the waiter, or stayed at the restaurant to meet the others who worked there and the guy in the hostel wouldn't t have approached me the next day...which means no Juanjose. The point is, as I always say, you just NEVER know how one person who crosses your path, that may seem insignificant at the moment, is gonna affect your life. Those two NYC guys were the key to one of the best experiences I've had on this trip so far. Amazing.
ANYWAY, we stayed at Juanjose's place drinking and talking until around 2 and then he took us to this awesome little jazz pub that we would have NEVER found on our own. Just this little place with a few tables, a couch and a little stage where there was a band playing. Later in the night, Frank even got up and sang some Sinatra songs with the band. It was awesome and we all just had a blast. Six strangers in Uraguay. Rock on.



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