Archive for October, 2001

home sweet home

Sunday, October 14th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi friends!
we are back in israel.
tomorrow – work.
bummer.

hemi and paola

PS – we spent the last 3 days in London, a bit of western culture pn the way home. we expected to do some shopping but the jump from peruvian street market prices to those of portobello rd in notting hill were just too much of a strain on our wallet.
so we walked around alot and people watched…we saw 3 nice shows – starlight express, buddy, and mama mia. had a pint of guiness after 3 months of craving…
BTW – we flew back with British Airways and after flying American Airlines the othre legs of the trip, all we can say is that the Brits have won hands behind their back.

london bridge is falling down, falling down….

Thursday, October 11th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi all
a short hello from a really expensive city, especially after South Americafor a few months.
we are on a timed internet machine and there are only 2 minutes left so this will be a shorty…
we left ecuador early tuesday morning and the security checks were the most severe we have ever encountered. we were practically strip searched !!! we reached miami and had a few hours to visit the downtown are before a
connection to heathrow.
miami is hot and humid and has more non-americans than english speakers. so it was just like downtown lima.
now we are in london, Notting hill in the portabello market looking for the house made famous by hugh grant….

cheers,
P and H (phish and CHips)

All good things must come to an end

Tuesday, October 9th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Dear friends,
my how time flies. It seems as if my journey in South America began just yesterday, and now it is already the last night on this wonderful
continent. I will now write briefly of our advebtures in the last 2 weeks.

Peru –
We left off after our flight over the Nasca Lines and the bus to Ica. Ica is a small town (almost 1 million people) and is renowned for being the wine and pisco center of Peru. Have you ever heard of peruvian wine ?
Neither have we, and we did not bother to get acquainted. Pisco is a local brandy, not too tasty, but there is a famous cocktail called pisco sour
involving pisco, lemon juice, and egg whites all shaken into a drinkable (?) froth.
The main reason for us coming to ICa then, was a small oasis 5 minutes outta town by the name of Huacachina. A little lagoon is surrounded by awesome sand dunes , and people SANDBOARD down the slopes. Now all you that are imagining a swiss resort, don´t get excited. there are no chairlifts and walking up 20 minutes in the sand carrying a board is no easy task. also the equipment is terrible and unsafe so we just tried it once for the kick and
the photo-op. it was nice. when renting the board you get a bag with some orange wax in it. by the time you are up the hill it has turned into a liquid which you rub on the bottomside of the board for speed….
Paola took the ride down sitting on the board, which meant she fell 5 times less than me. I fell down 5 times. no harm.
Huacachina was so layed back and relaxed that we stayed there 2 nights resting and frolicking in the backyard of a really nice hostel we were at. the hammocks were really comfortable. The second evening we spent some time in Ica itself, but aside from 2 local music tapes that we bought at the night market there is nothing too memorable to mention. when we wanted the vendor to play a certain song, he rewound the tape using a pencil, the REWIND button on his machine was out of order. So when he got mixed up with the cassette sides we had to wait for another 10 minutes.
The next morning we took an early bus to LIma, and saw 2 second rate movies on the way.
We spent less than 24 hours in LIma, and stayed at the same hotel as we did the first time we were there. The streets of central Lima were quite fascinating for both of us, and with the proper precaution we felt kinda safe. As we were accumulating many souvenirs, we bought a “Chola Bag” – basically its a big plastic bag with a zipper. it is a convenient way for
the locals to carry stuff, so why not us.
In the evening Paola began feeling squeamish, and it got worse the next day. n the flight to Quito she was very weak and troubled by a very bad stomach.

Ecuador
we arrived in Quito the capital last wednesday afternoon and proceeded to a hostel near the tourist area. Paola was getting worse and the next morning when thing were not getting better we called a local doctor who was recommended by both lonely planet and the south american handbook. his name
is dr. john rosenberg and we wondered if he is jewish. the first name is not jewish. incidentally when i called him up at 7 am it was the morning of Yom Kippur (jewish day of atonement). We went to his clinic to give samples and when he got the results from his assistant he decided to come over immediately. It turned out she had a whole cocktail in her stomach amoebas, bacterial infections and lo and behold – dysentry. So that put a lid on our plans for a next day departure to the galapgos islands.
i forgot to mention that thte previous evening and during this day i was touring the agencies for a good deal to the isles.
after getting the prescriptions , the doctor confirmed his jewish and israeli background (his parents are from the holyland). he even has a picture of him with Ezer Weizman in his office.
The next morning Paola was feeling much better and i was hoping we could
get some sightseeing done. Unfortunately someone else was getting sicker by
the minute – me. Another sojourn to Doc Rosenberg confirmed that i too am
suffering from all of the above ailments. So this day is was paolas turn
to pamper me. In the late afternoon (friday for those lost) we finally booked
a tour for the isles on a good boat for sunday.
We even rented a wetsuit for paola because the water in the islands is
cold (18 deg celcius) and the itinerary included snorkeling.

Otavalo
On saturday, both of us feeling better though still haevily drugged (we
each took 4 types of medication – including some strong antibiotics) we took a
bus to the largest outdoor market in south america (or so they say).
Otavalo is the village hosting the market every saturday and it has become a true
tourist attraction as they have many artesian works.
we spent several hours shopping and haggling and filled up our chola bag.
we met by pure chance, a friend of mine from my days in Palmahim in the
airforce (alon) who was traveling with his wife, 2 year old daughter and a
friend who is ecuadorian but now lives in israel and is a nanny.
they had just returned from the galapagos and gave us some tips. We were
quite amazed that they took their baby girl to athird world vountry, but
then they totally shocked us by recounting their trip to india (!!!) with
her 6 monthes earlier.
At the hotel after Otavalo it took us 2 hours just to pack our stuff. we
turned in early as the flight to galapagos was scheduled for early the
next morning.

Galapagos
OK this is the highlight of the trip so if you are tired now, close the
mail and come back tomorrow….
We flew via Guyaquil (a coastal city ) and it took around 3 hours to get
to Baltra the airport in the isles. We were met at the airport by our guide ,
Hansel. Although he has a german name he is 100 percent ecuadorian. He
turned out to be a great guide, a very interesting person and later we
found out some amazing things about him.
We had booked the “Angelito” a 16 person yacht (70ft) with private
compartments and hot showers, so it was really going to be a honeymoon
cruise. the only problem was that the accomodation in each of the rooms
was a bunk bed !!!! luckily the bottom bed was a bit wider 🙂
The first 2 days we were still on a strict diet of pills, toast, rice,
chicken soup and tea. But we were getting better all the time, and our
intestinal problems did not affect the tour of the isles. we did not even
get seasick.
With us on the cruise were only 8 more people –
Barry and Bev – an american couple from the san fransisco area who
actually lived through the sixties in all the revolutionary phases. (it was a real
anthropological treat for me).
Monica and Monika – 2 swedish girls from stockholm that were very nice and the closest to us agewise.
Barbara and Al – a retured couple from british columbia in canada and very proud of it (they wore canada pins on their shirts all thru the voyage).
Janey and Carolyn – 2 Florida intensive care nurses that would not shut up for a minute. they were very interesting and nice but at times quiet was
called for (in the nature). they left the tour after 5 days.
the rest took a full 8 day tour.

So what did we see ?
Everything is like a blur until we will get the pictures developed (11
rolls !!!) but the amazing thing about the animals on the islands is that they
are not scared of humans. in this fashion we were able to sunbathe with sea
lions, inspect iguanas so close that when they spit out their salt residue
from their food you got it in your eye, and more…
We saw a pelican feed its young chicks from 2 meters and that is considered far. We stood next to blue footed boobeys ( a bird) as they were courting, and later humping. we swam with sea lions who really like to play. i saw a
white tip shark as i was snorkeling on the last day.
we saw giant tortoises more than 100 years old, we saw their cousins sea turtles swimming in mangrove (a tree) swamps just 2 meters deep.
We bumped into a penguin couple which did not really take it to hard. and we saw sea lions. we snorkeled and saw different fish (though i still think the red sea in israel and sinai is better).
oh, and did i mention sea lions ?
basically sea lions are the animal you sea most on the isles. they are so cute that statistically 50% of the picturesare of them….
aside from the animals the landscapes were pretty neat too, as these isles are all volcanoes. we walked through a black lava field called hoyhoy
lava, and the guide told us that many sci-fi movies film lunar and martian landscapes there.
There is also an abundance of different plantlife but for us it was less exciting than the animals.
In all , this was a great experience, aside from the animals, the humans we were with during the week were really great, including the guide and the
rest of the crew of the angelito. we were pampered and we felt like a big family for one week.

The equator
we got back to Quito last night and today we went to Mitad del Mundo – a
monument on the equator line which celbrates the fact that ecuador is on the
equator. we went on a nice hike to a crater called pulahula, and later
visited a solar museum which proved scientificly that we are on the equator
– the coreolis force we usually see when water goes down a drain was
non-existant, and also we could stand an egg on a nails head (well the
guide could, i tried and failed).

We still have 3 more days left but not on this continent. We had planned
on 3 days in New York. Due to the situation, we swapped our tickets for
London, so thats where we are heading tomorrow. We have a few hours waiting in Miami on the way.

So this is the last email from South America. A continent that we will
surely return to explore, hopefully as soon as possible….

Hasta la vista Baby,
Paola y Hemi

Hi from the Galapagos Islands

Thursday, October 4th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Hi folks,
If it were sunny, we could say “hi from paradise”.
We have been in the islands for 4 days now, cruising from one isle to the other, exploring the variety of wildlife nature has to offer.
we got a 2 hour break on the main civillized island, so we are writing today that all is well and amazing.
a thorough report will follow in the next week, so stay tuned.
Bye for now,
Paola , Hemi and George the lonely tortoise.
PS – George is a 100 yr old giant tortoise weighing 120KG and is the last
of his race. He is really lonesome, and quite good looking, so if you know of
a match, please let the Charles Darwin Research Center in Isla Santa Cruz,Galapagos in on the details.