Day 21: Lima, Peru

Thursday, 3 May 2018 – Day 21: Lima, Peru (12.0464° S, 77.0428° W)

Buenos Dias from Lima…our last day in an international destination.

Lima is a hyper-kinetic city: cars, people, business. Lima is an example of the coming globalized model IMHO: vast differences in life-styles between the rich and poor; their lives, their life-styles, where they live, and how the endure each day—from vast overwhelming slums far from the city center to pockets of opulence in the more beautiful livable parts of the city. We are in one of the later, the Miraflores district. A bubble, like being in Beverly Hills in LA—actually more like Santa Monica physically.

Last night, as I headed into the ether of Lima at around 8:45pm, the doorman inquired where I was headed…I casually informed him that I was headed for a ceviche dinner (my second of the day) at a nearby Punto Azul Noche. He stopped me…no sir, you cannot walk, very dangerous. I informed him that I had visited the city on more than a few occasions and have taken all proper safety consideration: No visible valuables, no passport, only one credit card, little cash. He said no sir, not safe, things can be bad in Lima. After a frustrating, depressing conversation, he wanted me to take a car. By now a crowd of several bellmen and the concierge had joined in. A hotel car would be safest; prices set at US$12.00 ($39 peruvian sol)…I said what about a local taxi; $12 sole…he finally relented but said they would call one for me and it would 5-7 minutes. I smiled, said thank you and walked. It was a straight shot around the park and maybe eight blocks straight up Calle Alanfores to Calle San Martin. Took me, ah less than 10 minutes. During my walk I encountered school girls walking home, dog owners guiltily walking their schizod pets after a long day away, joggers (both sexes), and night strollers. I saw zero menacing gangs of Peru lurking in shadowy alley ways. I joined a quick wait list—a single always gets a quick table!—ate an amazing dish of mixto ceviche (shrimp, octopus and two types of white fish served in a large soup bowl with corn and sweet potato) and walked home unmolested about an hour later.

I walked in and they all smiled at me wearily. I approached the main man. He informed me that was hotel policy to inform guests about the dangers of Peru. (And to offer an upsale hotel car.) He said I was the only person that night, and in a few days that had not heeded their fear-based warning. I assume the hotel’s guests are a little lighter in the wallet and the hotel a little heavier. The hype of fear resounds especially well with we Yanks. We hear it all day…the boogie man is under the bed, the barbarians are at the gate, they are coming for us. It sells.

Anyway, I regress…Lima last day.

Teams always ask me: Bill what are you doing today? I am usually coy in answering: busy, business to do. Well, in fact, a perfect day for me?

Visit Mercado Central early…see the colorful produce, flowers and smell the fresh fish. Then a stroll around Plaza Mayor before the crowds assemble…maybe light a candle for my mom in a dark peaceful nook of Cathedral of Lima. (And spit on Pizarro’s gravestone while I am there.) My conflicted yin/yang nature reveleaing itself. Then I would nosh a little on some morning Peruvian sweets with a couple of coffees. I walk with purpose everywhere, I carry no pack, zipped pockets with what I need and with my 35mm Nikon with 18-200m lens covered in my hand looking like a rolled shirt…I take lots of photos of faces, street art, things in juxtaposition, daily life emerging. Next I would head to the Larco Musuem and indulge erotic fantasies among their great collection of erotic figurines. By then, the city is fully alive and in full swing. I would hit a cafe and watch the wheels go round and round for a while—how I love to watch them turn. After that…I might hail a taxi head out of the city to visit the ancient ruins of Pachacamac, and then drop by the infamous bunker-like Gold Museum. By then it would be ceviche and cerveza time followed by a taxi back to the hotel and a nap before beginning my noctornal pursuits.

A Morning kiss for wife…as it should be.

The eclectic buildings of Peru

One of Peru’s mainstays

Huaca Pucllana…ruins in city.

And you thought it only came in yellow?

Cocoa leaves to help you through the day…munch, munch.

Mixto ceviche soaked in spicy Tigre’s Milk…

Have your own version of a perfect day, every day…

Our Peruvian check-in is at 10:00PM this evening in the hotel’s lobby bar…one last pisco sour! Then we are homeward bound.

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Day 20: Lima, Peru

Wednesday, 2 May 2018 – Day 20: Lima, Peru (12.0464° S, 77.0428° W)

We have traveled this morning from Uruguay traveling northwest across South America to Peru, our last 2018 event international destination. We also picked up another two hours…almost all the way around!

So, technically…Bienvenido a Perú.

The 2018 tribe in Lima…now out & about.

We are here for two nights…holed up at the beautiful Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel.

Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel

Old Business: We have gone over all the peer reviewed the long strategic and fun Rio Plata Leg (Par 5) scores…
7th Buckeye Terriers
6th Team Tuna
5th Leo & the Crab
4th NOLA Secondline
3rd SLO Folks
1st Tie – Lawyers w/o Borders & Traveling Bohemians – Handed in exact same score sheets with 48 scavenges completed including 3 Bonuses

Overall leaders after 6 legs about a third (par 20 or 24 completed) …the overall top 3 teams are
3. NOLA Secondline – 76
2. Leo & the Crab – 75
1. SLO Folks – 30

Three things I Learned from the last leg? May Day holidays muck the best laid plans; No one lost weight on the last leg; and South America is a destination more should visit.

One-Minute Interview with?

short and sweet easy urban Par 3 with 4 Bonuses, 25 other scavenges
-go on a ocean whale watching boat ride
-ceviche taste testing
-visit the amazing museo Oro del Peru
-find the kama sutra figurines

Just Weird: guinea pigs are unlawful to own in Switzerland, but meal staple in Peru…go figure.

Check-in time tomorrow night, Thursday 10:00PM.

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Day 19: Montevideo, Uruguay

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 – Day 19: Montevideo, Uruguay (34.9011° S, 56.1645° W)

Ahh, Montevideo…fresh sea air. Beaches for days.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo view

That’s in the summer…today it is May 1st…think November 1st in the Southern Hemisphere.

And speaking of May 1st, that means it is the almost universal celebration of workers solidarity, aka May Day. Parades will take place, most will not work today enjoying family and friends, BBQing and having fun. For the traveler it is a day when not much will happen that does not include your feet and patience, as services will be limited and few things will be open as normal. The challenge of the day…

Montevideo is the biggest city in the country, roughly 1.3 million thermos-carrying, maté tea drinking, stylishly-dressed, pot smoking, smiling, dark-haired inhabitants reside here—almost 80 percent of Uruguay’s entire population.  The city is ranked as the Latin American city with the highest quality of life/livability ranking (79 overall); and you can see why. They are big on meats, chivatos (crazy-ass big sandwiches), lot’s of pizza and pasta (the influence of a 19th century wave of Italian immigrants. The streets are broad and hardly a horn is heard. The people are very civil. The buildings are great, 1930’s and 40’s built colonial and neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Art Decó-styled in architecture, with wrought-iron balconies of the Ciudad Vieja full of narrow alleys, museums, cafes and outside restaurants that bring Paris to mind. Damn Paris…always on our minds describing cities. (Although along the waterfront near our hotel I feel like I am in a typical corniche area, could be: Alexandria, Miami, Tel Aviv… Yet Montevideo could be North American…Canada for instance with its boulevards lined with enormous trees, shopping malls everywhere…but the imported Starbucks get a run for their money with seemingly everyone sucking on a silver straw, of obviously addictive, maté tea. Which Makes Montevideo distinctly Uruguayan. And the music of candombe makes it so.

It is peaceful and calm. And the sun is out…

All the teams have been accounted for and are in Montevideo. The plan is to spend one more day until we head for our last international stop on the 2018 edition The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure. One more new destination…which we we will learn about tonight when we meet at 7:00PM.

Leafy streets

Havana-like buildings

Fishing at the breakwater

Again, Havana-like…

Surrounded by ocean…

I’d say eclectic…

But oh so cosmopolitan.

Until next time…just 5 days to go!

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Day 18: Colonial de Sacramento, Uruguay

Monday, 30 April 2018 – Day 18: Colonial de Sacramento, Uruguay (34.4607° S, 57.8339° W)

Uruguay! …Huh? Uruguay! …Paraguay? No, Uruguay!…Is that near Guyana?

Indeed, Uruguay is a mostly unknown country, a mysterious place off the tourist radar…and wrongfully so…a nation of only 3.4m people; underdogs all, but with a lot of pride and character. And rightfully so, as they are passionate caring romantics, noble, charming, egalitarian and inviting. My best guess is that their working paradigm seems to be: “Here nobody is better than anybody else.” No tall poppies here…

WE have seen most of the teams the last the few days…some at the hotel, some surreptitiously walking about the city…only one team has not been seen or heard form since Saturday morning….stay tuned.

Officially named República Oriental del Uruguay (Oriental Republic of Uruguay)…and caught between the joyful chaos that is their neighboring giant Brazil, their northern neighbor…and the staid stuffy and flawed nation-state that is Argentina, it’s southern neighbor. It is oft-called The Switzerland of America…Uruguay means ‘River of Painted Birds’ referring to its many rivers including the Rio de la Plata, the widest river in the world and to its 475 species of birds.

So…what can I tell you about Uruguay? Well, long since suffocating under the grip of military dictatorship…Uruguay is today one the world’s most ethical nations. It is ranked first in the Latin American region for: democracy, peace, lack of corruption, quality of living, e-government services, freedom of press, size of their middle class, prosperity and security…in fact, some might say they are over-compensating for their past repressions making all things legal in a very secular libertarian way–usually through national referendums. In fact, in December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana; it has progressive divorce laws (in a repressively Catholic continent); same sex marriage is celebrated; Women’s reproductive rights are well protected; and although 50% Catholic, Uruguay is one of the least religious countries in Latin America, now calling Christmas “Family Day” and Easter Week is now referred to by almost everyone here as “Tourism Week.” It is indeed one of the least religious countries in Latin America. (Coincidence? It also has a literacy rate of 98.1 percent…hmmm?)

And how’s this one: 95 percent of the electricity in Uruguay is generated from renewable resources, mainly from wind farms. It is a country where cows outnumber people four to one…they are the world’s largest consumer of beef per capita…and soccer wise, Uruguay is the country with more glory per capita in the world…Their national team (aka La Celeste) has 91 international titles, they even hosted the first ever World Cup, and won the 1930 & 1950 World Cups (against Brazil in Brazil!), they have won the Copa America 15 times. And Messi’s sidekick at Barco, Luis Suárez calls Uruguay home, along with: Diego Forlan, Paolo Montero, Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba…

Uruguay is also home to: Gauchos, maté, chivitos (a filet mignon sandwich), and great wines and beaches.

And so we are here for two days, staying at the waterfront Hyatt Centric Montevideo.

Picturesque Colonial del Sacramento…stalled in time.

Old world charm in a modern laid back city-scape…

yerba mate Tea…

See you in Montevideo tomorrow night, Tuesday at 7:00PM!

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Day 17: Tigre, Argentina

Sunday, 29 April 2018 – Day 17: Tigre, Argentina (34.4251° S, 58.5797° W)

Good morning, buenos dias.

Some cities just look better in the dark…like LA, Bangkok and Buenos Aires too is one of those mysterious dark places with alluring nighttime lights and sounds…Avenida Corrientes is BA’s “street that never sleeps”…walking last night past packed pizza places hopping, sax music spilled out of jazz bars, the siren smell of meats grilling grabbed you as you walked by busy parrillas, dates meeting up on corners anxiously starring into their phones for coming reassurances, porteños both young and old were out in force last night in BA enjoying their Saturday night. My family and I have had the privilege of living here like locals years ago; we had our own apartment and rescheduled our lives and schedules into the cities rhythms. We dinned late, sometimes noshing after midnight on weekends. And so when I finally sat down to eat last night, tired from exploring all day, thirsty for a cerveza and hungry for lomo and frites it was well after 11PM…

The basics: lomo grilled to perfection (grass fed) & potatoes cooked in olive oil, chimmichurri sauces, and a bottle of Malbec.

Most North Americans don’t travel south to this part of the world, preferring the Grand Tour of European bucket list spots and maybe a once-in-a-lifetime Down Under visit. So, Buenos Aires (aka Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aires, or just BA) is a mysterious place to most. Only two of our 14 travelers had been here before—and these are well-traveled people. So here are the cliches: BA is the world’s most European city…a mix of Paris boulevards, Milan style, London upper crust that make it’s few tourist sights: broad Avenida 9 de Julio, it’s vast 48 different barrios (neighborhoods), the old-moneyed shopping district of Recoleta, tangoing the night away in bawdy San Telmo, making friends in the trendy bars in the Palermo and Las Canitas neighborhoods, perusing Caminito’s colorfully painted houses, wandering the antiques market or watching the protesters at Plaza Del Mayo. The phrase here: “mi barrio, mi vida” (my neighborhood is my life) makes you who you are here in BA.

Teams Biking around the city…

Here at BA’s facts: Great Buenos Aires (Gran Buenos Aires), is the 22nd most populated urban center in the world with over 18 million people. But who really knows…maybe 20-22 million? On the global list—think Vienna, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Geneva, Melbourne on top—it is the second ranked South American city on the list with the highest quality of life/livability ranking coming in 93 overall…(Montevideo #1  at 79). Despite it’s size though, BA it is not an Alpha city, more a Beta city…on par IMHO with the likes of: Atlanta, Guangzhou, Manila, Budapest…BA is not Paris, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo, London or Istanbul. Argentina has a per capita GDP of about $21,000. Rich, but not too rich;  distinctly lower middle class in the hierarchy of economics.

Interesting tidbits: Buenos Aires has more psychologists per capita than any other city… even the Buenos Aries city airport (AEP) actually has an open psych clinic for flyers afraid to fly, vent, get anti-anxiety Rx pills. BA also has more bookstores (750+) per person than any city in the world…one location for every 4000 citizens…28 newspapers also  serve the city of Buenos Aires. They like gossip, politics (each political party has their own paper and they have a lot of parties here!).

What I really love about Argentina is: Argentina’s grass-fed beef, cafes that serve dulce de leche topped espressos, great gelato, well-dressed locals, their famed Malbec wine, sentimental, sexy and moody tango, and their passion for soccer of course—the world’s best player Messi hails from Argentina….and frankly, you gotta love that dinner earlier than 10PM is déclassé in Argentina…and of course, it would be social suicide to turn up to a club here before 2AM.

9 de Julio Avenue

An espresso dulce de leche…my personal favorite.

Bone hunting for Evita…

Near MALBA…& van Gough’s & Kahlo’s & Berni’s

Ever present tango motif’s…milonga anyone?

La Boca…watch your wallets folks! (Right Tom!)

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Day 16: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, 28 April 2018 – Day 16: Buenos Aires, Argentina (34.6037° S, 58.3816° W)

Bienvenido from Argentina…

Not quite Latin America, not quite Europe, not ultra-modern, not old fashion, not truly Spanish, nor Italian, odd mix of cosmopolitan French-style apartments abut Brazilian-style favelas; kind of shabby-chic. Indeed, Buenos Aires, is a tad schizoid and certainly in need of a psychiatrist’s couch. Who am I?

We got in last night just before 11PM after a long repositioning that took us from breakfast in Johannesburg, dinner in Brazil and a nightcap here in Argentina. But we are here…and we are in the home stretch and will be spending five days in Rio Platte region of Argentina & Uruguay. We are here in BA in particular for three nights and staying in an ultra lux hotel.

Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

These are brand new destinations…and while my family and I lived here for a while in 2009 (Thank you Sherry!)…and we almost bought a bodega here—in the Valley of Calchaquies, Mendoza; Argentina remained elusive for us logistically speaking.

We also welcome some familiar faces and two teams: old event friends, Zoe & Rainey and Marnie & Greg…they will be with us the rest of the way…they got in yesterday after conducting a brief introductory layover challenge in Bogota, Colombia.

Old Business:
You all came in tied for first in Johannesburg…considering our situation…good job all.

Overall leaders after five legs about a third (par 15 of 24 completed) …the overall top 3 teams are
3. Team Tuna – 54
2. LEO & the Crab – 50
1. SLO FOLKS – 15 out of 15 so far, and are on a truly historic run (thinking Sydney Sisters)—can they continue it?
-congrats all…let’s roll on to our next leg.

Three Things I learned getting from Africa to South America: Listen to your personal travel experience over the noise of the Internet and misinformation of those not in the know; J’burg is not as criminally-prone as many suggest; and travel with friends, new and old ones, makes difficult times easier—you get over yourself quicker!

Our swank briefing in an art gallery this morning…some new faces!

Okay…before lies a tricky long 4-day Par 5…all day Sat, Sun, Mon & Tues…we will not see the teams again until we meet Tuesday night in our Hotel lobby in Uruguay at 7:00PM. By now, the teams are all savvy veterans and can figure the logistics out.

There are 7 Bonuses, 3 Team Challenges, and over 40 other scavenges to consider:
-locate Evita’s resting place…sing to her
-take in a passionate soccer game
-play a round of Taxi Cab Roulette
-Visit “the
world’s most dangerous zoo”
-take a dip in the South Atlantic
-kayak the Lujan River

Another observation….It is a funny paradox: Millennials spend less time in their hotel rooms and more in the lobby, but why? Yes it is true, because A) they are probably traveling as a single and have no real social life—or sex either for that matter according to recent surveys… and B) the WiFi reception is better (and usually free) in the lobby—plus you can photograph your food to social media account.

Question: Why does every city’s tourist bureau and PR machine want to emulate Paris? If Beirut is the Paris of the middle east, Buenos Aires the Paris of Latin America, and Karachi the Paris of Asia…what is the Paris of North America?

Where I am headed right now…Freddo’s of course.

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Day 15: Repositioning from Here to There

Friday, 27 April 2018 – Day 15: Continental Transition Day

It may appear easy…getting from here to there; but getting from Africa to South America is really not easy. In the age of connectivity, one would think there would be a multitude of flight options connecting the two Southern hemisphere continents. You would be wrong. There are in fact, very few flights connecting the two continents. BTW: Even more scarce are flights between South America and Asia–good luck with that one!

A couple travel-related observations…

Odd how since we left SFO and the USA two weeks ago, have traveled on seven flights and moved through eight airports—sometimes twice!—we as a group have yet to see any emotional support animals anywhere?! Wonder if having one is a strictly First World concern—or, just an American thang?

And this is indeed a paradox, but maybe it is just my odd perspective? But isn’t it odd that Men traveling first class tend to weigh more than those in economy, while for women the reverse is true.

Anyway…we will be in Buenos Aires when we next post…stay tuned.

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Day 14: Johannesburg, South Africa

Thursday, 26 April 2018 – Day 14: Johannesburg, South Africa (26.2041° S, 28.0473° E)

Sawubona from South Africa…we repositioned this morning from Zimbabwe about an hour south to Johannesburg. We are heading further and further deep into Africa! (How will we get out?)

Old Business: First we have to close the books on our last Leg, a difficult Par 5. The scores…
5th Buckeyed Terriers
4th Leo & The Crab
3rd Team Tuna
2nd NOLA Secondline
1st SLO Folks for their 4th straight leg win…they ate the most, did the most and laughed the most!

Overall now, the leaders after four legs about a third (Par 14 or 24 completed)…the overall top 3 teams are:
3. NOLA Secondline = 55
2. Team Tuna = 53
1. SLO Folks = a perfect low 14

Three Things I learned from the Zimbabwe-Zambia Leg: Africa is full of smiles and people wanting to sincerly know you and help you if need be—when you leave it is people encounters you remember most; critters and nature remain the key attraction despite mandmade diversions running amok; and I want to come again.

Teams had a ball…and finally, I have a few photos to share:

Teams figuring out border detials: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana & Namibia

Half of SLO Folks about to do something to do with big elastics…

Small World story: SLO Folks run into friends from home, while away! What are the chances?

Leaving the Batonka Guest Lodhe in Vic Falls…thank you all!

Welcome to Soweto

We turn the page here in South Africa with a short 1:00PM till 9:00PM leg; we call them layover challenges.

8-Hour Layover Challenge:
J’burg Edition
lay•over  \ ‘lā-, ō-vәr \ noun (1873) – STOPOVER n (1885): a period spent by a passenger at an intermediate point in waiting for a transportation connection; a brief halt in a journey caused by scheduling in the course of a journey; a short stop in a long journey, especially one between airplane flights; free time between flights spent in an airport hub—and to be avoided like the plague.

Alas…despite best laid plans…we had to call an audible in J’burg. Seems the day before departing Victoria Falls I was unceremoniously notified that our airline took it upon itself to unilaterally change our flight departure time from a morning one to an afternoon flight. We finally arrived at JNB after 3:00PM! We simply did not have time to do all the things we wanted to accomplish in South Africa due to our upending flight schedule change. So, we went out to eat and drank and swap travel war stories two weeks into the event.

On a side note: we certainly have dug ourselves a geographic hole here coming all the way to South Africa, very far from everything and everywhere else. Where is next for us? Time will tell as we have a morning to catch to… reposition to someplace else!?

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Day 13: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 – Day 13: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (17.9318° S, 25.8256° E)

That feature photo is what Victoria Falls looked like in November when I was last here during the dry season…that’s the before photo.

Victoria Falls after photo…during wet season.

The problem with the after photo is there is too much of a good thing. It is like a white out (wet out) with so much water crashing down creating micro-climates…squalls really, that prevent you from really seeing the majesty of the falls. You get absolutely soaked…saturated even. But alas, we are here, enjoying ourselves tremendously. Heard a team was going bungee jumping and maybe zip lining too? Hopefully, video later…

Leo & the Crab tanned & rested enjoying breakfast at Batonka.

Something lurking between me and my pub! Yield the right-of-way…

Baobab Tree sunset

Tiger Fish (aka African piranha)…something to think about white water rafting!

What inflation looks like…a real note. Bitcoin anyone?

All the teams returned on time at our 9:00PM check-in with stories to tell. Drinks kept them flowing until the wee hours of the balmy night…

So conflicted? Which way to go to begin the last 10-days? Thoughts?

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Day 12: Livingstone, Zambia

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 – Day 12: Livingstone, Zambia (17.8520° S, 25.8285° E)

Our 2018 around the world event has reached its midpoint here in Zambia…our glass is half empty, yet remains half full!

Teams are in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park in Botswana and here in Zambia too.

To all my new friends at Camp Hwange who made me feel like I was the only one in the world: John, Kim, Beth, Jean, Morris, Amton, Matrabuli, Donacious…thank you!

The mighty Zambezi River

Dr. Livingstone I presume….

The Capetown to Cairo Railroad crossing Vic Falls

That is beer being downloaded in Zambia Market

They like their President

My favorite Namibia bar…

This Teams check-in is tomorrow night 9:00PM Wednesday, April 25

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