Current Date:  January 26, 2009  12:15 p.m.  (Lima, Peru)

Current Itinerary:  Leaving for the USA tomorrow

FINAL NOTE:

I know I was not as good with keeping up with things after we got to South America.  It is very difficult to write down everything you do every single day.  It is hard for a week, so you can imagine what it is like to do it for months and months.  I still have hundreds of days of things written that I have not posted, and I plan to continue to go back and fill in all the gaps.  Those things will be posted slowly, along with all the remaining pictures...it is a monstrous task but I'll get it done.  I will probably send out a few more emails in the coming months and certainly I'll post to the main page of the website as more and more gets done.

As far as the next few weeks go, here is what is happening.  I will be in NYC for a few days this week and then I will fly back to the midwest to see my family and friends there for about a week before heading on to California as I said back in the beginning.  (Side note: Anyone on this list who lives in the immediate vicinity of Chicago...I’ll be trying to organize a night out on Saturday the 7th...email me...I would love to see any old friends!)  I will be heading to San Diego and looking to get a job somewhere in a lab, returning to cancer research (perhaps my third love after traveling and ND football).  I don't have anything lined up at the moment for a job, but I will be looking and would appreciate any help or contacts anybody might have.  If you can help, shoot me an email and I will certainly pass on my resume!  I also don't have a place to stay yet in San Diego, so if anybody out there can help me out please send me an email!

Jodi went back to the USA a couple weeks ago and she is in Boston with her family.  She is planning to move to California in a few months after I have found a job, place to live, etc.  Hopefully all of that can happen quickly, but starting over from absolutely nothing in a new city can be daunting.  I’m up for the challenge, however, so bring it on California!!

Anyway...that should answer any questions about the immediate future, but if I left anything out feel free to email me.  Without further ado...perhaps one of the most fun things to write for the trip...some favorites, best, worsts, and a few numbers.  Thanks for following along on our journey everybody.

 

Top 5 Favorite Moments of the Trip:

1.  When the rain started to pour down on me on day 1 of the trek to the Lost City in Colombia.  Probably the single most emotional moment of my life.

2.  Cruising on a moped on the shores of Cozumel

3.  Doing the Spanish Bay Dive in Belize...our first real taste of the underwater world.

4.  There were many moments when I got the privilege to see Jodi grow into the traveling world and learn what I love so much about it.  Perhaps one of the first was sitting in Flores late at night, singing songs with some locals.

5.  Pulling into harbor in Cartagena after spending 6 days on a sailboat.

 

Top 5 Grievances

1.  Change...AGAIN at number 1 (I wrote about this in Brazil)!!!  You cannot get change in these damn countries!  I had a 10 minute argument with a manager at a McDonald's in Cusco who would not break my large bill...despite the fact that it had been packed all day and it was 9:00 p.m.  Attention Latin American Banks:  QUIT PUTTING LARGE BILLS IN THE ATMs!!!!  Every single backpacker on this list is nodding their heads right now.  You try to break the equivalent of a $20 bill in most of these countries and the store owners look at you like you just dropped a #2 on the floor.

2.  Inventory

It's not exactly a concept people have caught on to down here.  If you order a beer in Peru, there is a 75% chance that the person you ordered it from will run out to buy it from a store right at that moment.  There's also about a 2% chance that it will be cold unless you specify, which almost deserves it's on spot on this list.

3.  Taxi drivers trying to rip you off.

No need for explanation.

4.  Outlets

If you ever travel down here be prepared to play musical chairs with everything you have that needs to be charged.  Your chances of being to plug in more than one thing at any given time are pretty slim.  Apparently, the code in Latin America calls for one outlet per city.

5.  Volume of Music/Movies on Buses

You could probably be in a car next to the bus and hear the music clear as day. 

 

 

Top 5 reasons I'll be happy to get back to the USA:

1.  Price tags!!  The price is the price!  No more haggling.  Good times.

2.  Eating a meal outside without 4 stray dogs watching me like I'm a giant soup bone.

3.  Cutting my rice intake by 90%

4.  Getting my clothes back!  No more of the same 5 shirts!  Again, every backpacker on this list is nodding their heads right now.

5.  Finally I’ll be able to see the best show on TV again:  Sportscenter!

 

 

And now some Bests and Worsts and a Few numbers (sorry...several inside jokes here):

Best country: Colombia

Worst country: Tough one...I guess I'd go with Honduras which would have been pretty weak without the Bay Islands.

Best food (country):  Belize.  Too bad we didn't know to appreciate it.

Best food (city): Banos, Ecuador

Worst meal: Chinese food in Caye Caulker

Best women: Colombia (duh!)

Biggest surprise for women:  Ecuador.  Very underated.

Biggest Douche Bag (Tie):  Canadian Mike from Flores, Cherokee Nation dude from Semuc Champey

Favorite Stray: Chocolate the Dandruff Dog from Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Best Hostel (Tie):  Zoola Hostel in San Pedro on Lago Atitlan in Guatemala and our home away from home, Refugio del Rio in Boquete, Panama.

Worst Hostel:  This horrible place in Porto Viejo, Ecuador.  Check out this bathroom.

Friendliest Hostel: Hostel Belmont in Quito, Ecuador

Hottest City: Cartagena

Wettest City: Boquete

Worst City: Aguas Calientes, Peru

Most Overpriced City: Aguas Calientes, Peru

Biggest Rip off: Aguas Calientes, Peru

Favorite Ancient Ruins: Tikal

Best Beach: Potluck island in San Blas

Best unintentional porn: This sign for a dentist office in Panajachel

Best Diving: Belize

Best Snorkeling: Roatan

Best Beer (Tie): Bavaria Negra (Costa Rica) and Club Colombia (Colombia)

Most overplayed song: Te Quiero

Worst Mosquitos: Ciudad Perdida Trek in Colombia

Hugest Insect:  Who could forget this bad boy in Panama?

Hugest turd:  The Bogota turd from the Cranky Croc

Worst Border: Peru/Ecuador

Longest Bus Ride: 22 hours (Lima to Cusco)

Approx. Bus/Boat Miles traveled: 13000

Number of crappy, 30 year old Jackie Chan Movies shown on those buses: 65

Number of pictures taken: 7500

Number of pictures posted: 5084 (about 1200 pending)

Favorite Picture: Too hard, but here is one of the top 5...Drouyn, Jodi and I at Lago Quilatoa at almost 14,000 ft. in Ecuador.

Number of Good times:  Infinite

Number of times I said "Good times":  5,623,422

Number of Beds slept in: 100

Number of Countries: 12

Number of Regrets: 0

AC

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