Parrots LOVE pringles!

I can remember first arriving to Bolivia and taking a shower at Nick’s apartment. I wanted to adjust the shower head (which seems like a simple enough desire), but there were two things, unbeknownst to me, that were going to prevent me from doing so. The shower head was metal AND had an electric heater embedded within it. Alone, either one is harmless, but you put the two together – and the fact that you and everything in the shower is covered with water – and if you weren’t already awake, you very soon will be. And I was.

So now let’s fast forward a month and I return back from my visit to the US with an electric shock pen. Muuuhahahahha. I arrive at work and am talking to Nick at his desk. I remove his only pen and put mine in place. Two minutes later, as he is talking to me, he picks it up to write something down and ZAP! The pen gets thrown to the floor. And thus, we devise a method whereby which we may shock the rest of the office. It is Friday, Salteña day, (a salteña is like a fried roll with a bunch of goodies inside) and we pass around a paper and collect money so that the secretary can go pick them up for everyone.

“Julio Cesar, quieres un Salteña? Si? Ordena lo que quieras.”

Of course, the Bolivians aren’t known for their subtlety (have you ever heard of a Bolivian spy?), so with each subsequent person we got, we had to play off the fact that we had one more giggling Bolivian watching anxiously as the next victim wrote down his order. We also had to contend with the fact that each subsequent victim had also heard many screams of profanity and uproarious laughter, and as I’m sure you can imagine, they already knew something was up.

All in good fun, eh?

That night, we went to a Halloween party where you get to kiss a bunch of people on the cheek and get heckled until you drink your entire glass (which means a glass of beer for each person you meet, that is, if you’re not as they would say, un maricón – Spanish for gay). The night was cool though, and towards the end, I had about four single Bolivian girls surrounding me, telling me I had to dance. After repeated emphasis that I really don’t like dancing (or in my case, moving awkwardly while everyone at the party looks at the big white guy), they settled for practicing their English and hitting on me. Now, I emphasize SINGLE Bolivian girls for a reason.

The attractive girls at parties are always with someone that could very easily kick my ass – or could afford to pay someone to do it, at the very least. The motto here seems to be, get ’em while they’re young before they are taken. But my conscience just doesn’t seem to let me take advantage of 15 year old girls (or maybe I’m just an uptight American).

So we also went to Concepción this weekend. We woke up at 6:30 and headed off. You can see the pictures as proof – this scenery on the car ride over there was nothing short of beautiful. In addition to absolutely perfect weather (reminiscent of California – which is unheard of in Santa Cruz), you are treated to miles and miles of rolling hills filled with a brilliant, lush green trees and shrubbery while making your way over the weathered dirt roads. The trek had a meditative quality and you derive a unique sense isolation and solidarity while observing a land that one could honestly say time forgot (except for the fact that you would be lying, seeing as everyone knows how good a memory time has). Every 20 miles or so you would see a bamboo shack with a straw roof and a nearby barn, with little kids playing soccer out front and perhaps a few cows or stray dogs wandering around looking for food. Everything looked almost prehistoric – and with every new hill, I half expected to see a giant brontosaurus in the distance, munching lazily on a tree, or maybe a pterodactyl circling overhead searching for whatever the hell it was pterodactyls ate.

But no pterodactyls of which to speak, and we arrived to the little town of Concepción right on time only to find that they didn’t make our reservation and we would instead have to be in one big room together with 6 beds. No worries. We went and visited a family friend there, who owns a hotel, and had some pretty killer orange juice as we talked.

He also has quite a collection of plants in the backyard of the hotel, including an orchid farm consisting of several thousand orchids. I decided to figure out what exactly I could do with my camera and took some really nice photos (at least, in my opinion). After that, we got dinner at the hotel and had some of the most incredible roasted duck I have ever tasted. If your ever in Bolivia and stop by Concepción, it is definitely worth it. The entire meal was incredible and three bottles of wine later, we headed back to our own hotel to hit the hay.

The next day, we headed back home and I slept most of the way so I missed a lot of the scenery. We did stop at an Italian place on the way though – and a phenomenal lunch (imagine steak, with cheese, pizza sauce, ham and tomatoes – kinda like a steak pizza) and some incredible pineapple juice ensured that I slept well the rest of the way to the Santa Cruz.

As for today, I just got back from the massage parlor – and am now “working” hard at Energy To Market. Also, I got a video of the most annoying bug in the world. Although you can’t really see the bug itself on the branch, you can most definitely hear it. Then imagine listening to that all day times about 10 (they have finally started to subside in Santa Cruz though – thank god).

Also, I have revised my plan for when I go to Peru. From everything I have gathered, Chile isn’t all that exciting from the top to about Santiago, so what I will do instead is the following. I will take a plane to Lima, Peru – then take a bus to Cuzco, Peru. I will see the Incan ruins there, then head back to La Paz in Bolivia. From there, I will head down to Oruro where I will take a train to the Uyuni Salt Flats, which is a huge expanse of salt and crazy colored lakes. There’s actually a hotel made entirely of salt (even your bed!) so I’ll probably stay there. From there, I will take a train to the Bolivian/Argentine border and then head down through the Andes to Cordoba, then Mendoza, then cross over the Chile to Santiago. From there I will head down the arctic portion of Chile, where I will cross over to Argentina again and head up to Buenos Aires. After a trip to the Iguazu Falls (which supposedly put Niagara falls to shame), I will head to New Zealand. I think this plan will enable me to see a lot of Argentina and all of the cool parts of Chile as well.

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