Pages of Euphoria
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  City of Sloth
Yes, City of Sloth. Not this Sloth, who owns a permanent throne in my heart, and in the area of my brain that controls dental hygiene, a different kinda sloth. Marinate on that one for a bit. Sin embargo, Santa Cruz, almost in the center of Bolivia, was as idle as they come. Idle in a good kinda way though, reminiscent of a hot, dusty, windswept sunny day where this fantasy finds you sitting on a porch sipping scotch (or whatever posion you happened to have picked) until the rapture. In the city of Santa Cruz, there was one beautiful, marble laiden plaza with ample seating and just enough shade, where I spent most of my time reading, writing, or just all around people watching. Somehow Santa Cruz has amassed a stunning population of female lookers, again I meant lookers with an L. Curved to perfection, graduates of strutting school, they were the most beautiful women I have seen in a Bolivian city to date.
My cultural expenditures included a zoo visit that was made remarkable by the sight of one zoo worker who had to wheel barrow around nearly 150lbs of pure cow shank. It looked like he was fresh off the screen of some quentin tarrentino film of gormasic proportion...truly, it was a very queer and grisly site. In retrospect, there seems to be a trend of raw, large, and bleeding sections of viscera in my South American experience. The zoo must have had around 8 big cats, 4 of them being my idolized jaguars. I have a special connection with jaguars. I used to honestly want to be one. My innitials spell J.A.G. I used to work on my "cat" skills by walking around really quitely, trying to sneak up on people. I dont know how I feel about telling everyone this. Yet immediate family will verify. Anywho, Mr. Zoo Keeper would just heave in an entire leg/rib section (minus hide) for the animals to dine upon, and it was really entertaining.

This wasnt the sparkling gem of the zoo however, because nothing would top my wild sloth sightings. The Sloth, El Perisozo, my new favorite animal. This animal drips with pure delight. At first impression, they are obviously popular for their behavior which comes the closest in the animal kingdom to a bonafied pot head aspiring to be a rasta but stuck at retarded hippy status. While pondering the sophisticated question of why this animal is so cool, I came to realize that there is something so much more pleasing about them, something much easier. They just chill out. They are the kings of cool, the sultans of smooth. If they were to drink juice, their selection would clearly be mellow yellow. Their name in Spanish, Perisozo, actually means lazy. A slow turtle, missing a leg, afflicted by a debilitating turtle disease, would probably beat a sloth in a (claw?) race. But they just chill and accept the world as it is, in the face of global warming, of human obesity, the mystery of sasquatch. Thats what I love about them, their non aggressive, hangin out in a tree house all day, leaf eating attitudes.

My last day in the plaza I witnessed a full on sloth rescue. Yeah, that plaza also had free living sloths in its trees. The rescue was unsuccessful, and unnecessary, as Mr. Sloth chose on the side of his instincts and stay in the tree on that windy day. I think it was the intention of the sloth rescuers to relocate the lazy one back to the zoo, a supposedly safer place for him to dwell. Apparently the plaza was a dangerous place for them to parooze. I did hear stories of them, while crawling across the gray tiles of the plaza in transit between trees, getting booted like soccer balls by pedestrians who simply failed to see them. They moved so slow and slothy, and their grey fur would cause them to blend right into the grey tile, that it would result in them getting regularly blasted by Bolivian boot. ¡GENTE ABREN SUS OJOS! I have more sloth stories, like meeting a girl who was in fact about to recieve a sloth tattoo the very next day, but I am tired of writing the word sloth as I am sure you are all tired of reading it. Check in soon for the next entry which will dive into the crazy, sometimes unbecoming hair (above the neck) styles and grooming practices of professional travelers. Until then, Peace, Paz, and Shalom. Joey Bolivia is out.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
  Bs.As. How To
Professor Montgomery of the UW urology department will be joining me, Jose´Greenbargo in a little South American madness. I wanted to share my tips of navigating the city of Buenos Aires with anyone else who may have a sparkable interest. Read on.

Dearest Parker,

I hope this letter finds you, and finds you well. Very soon you will find yourself shouldering a thoughtfully and carefully organized backpack, probably big enough for a small child to assume vacancy inside. Specifically a small child the same size of Tho Min Vo, please bring him. Bring a pair of shorts and pants, a jacket, I got the sunscreen, your most ballinous gear, your dope threads, and shit that you can throw away. All medications, i.e. malaria pills, vaccinations for yellow fever, and rabies, are much cheaper and less effective down here, so just hold your huskies on those. A flashlight, Swiss army knife, and good book will also come in handy, which reminds me to ask you to please bring me LOTR: The Return of the King. I need a LOTR fix very badly.

So you will be taking your first steps outside of Argentina's main international airport in about 48 hours. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back, shake your own hand, pull out your glock and spit some fire, you are officially hoodrich and are about to embark on an adventure. Upon exiting the airport, your gonna walk right outside, pass all those men and women trying to hustle you for a 40 dollar cab ride into the city, and say something like "tengo las drogas y soy el gringo de fuego!!" Walk past all those damn solicitors and follow the sidewalk bearing slightly to the left/strait, and walk about 100 feet to a bus stop. The only bus stop. Sit there and wait for a bus, and have small change on you, something like 3 pesos. Once your aboard your vessel of economical and public transportation, you can sit back and relax, you will have about an hour and half ride into the city center. Be ready to enjoy, because your ride will be a generous serving of entertainment and your eye balls will be served their first visual feasts of Porteños, or inhabitants of Buenos Aires, Argentina. They struck me as the most European looking South Americans, with beautiful eyes, unusual looking jaw structures, and enough facial piercings to go around.

Entonces, after 90 or so minutes, and you start seeing huge buildings (one called Congresso, white, tons of columns), you should say PARE POR FAVOR, or LA PUERTA, or AQUI, and exit the free show of entertainment on wheels. With your guide book or with a free map from the airport, hit the ground running and explore the city a little bit for a hostal of your choosing. I stayed at a place called HI: Tango City for just about a month, and it was an all around growing experience. As in it was pretty much an Argentinian Delta Chi, just way more women. Additionally there was free breakfast, dinner, internet, hot showers, decent dorm rooms. I also antiqued the hell of a poor Dutchman, met a Welsh pirate, and a Colombian named Carlos who pretty much behaved like Magic Johnson before he discovered he was HIV positive. Here is there website But feel free to shop around, that hostal was about 27 pesos, or 9 dollars a night; I would suggest sticking to that area, San Telmo, which has amazing architecture.

Things to do in BA:
-Eat your weight in empenadas, and helado, Buenos Aires has the worlds finest.
-Go to a supermarcado and purchase about a 2lb steak of the juiciest nature (Argentina has the best meat in the world, no pun of any kind is intended but would make sense) for about 3 dollars, and grill it up in the hostal kitchen.
-See Recoleta cemetery, a literal city of tombs, puerto madero that has a bridge designed to look like a tango dancer, ride the subte (subway) around all day, and for great people watching, hit up Calle Florida.
-Just walk around for at least 5 hours, you will see some amazing things.
-And get ready to feel like a schmuck, because English is not very common, and their Spanish sounds more like Italian. You will be using your hands alot to talk, its all good though, every traveler who doesnt speak Castallano goes through it. They pronounce Y´s and LL´s like a heavy SHHHH sound, so chicken is pronounced like Poysho instead of poyo.
-Just kick a little bit of ass for me.

I will be waiting for you in Salta, hopefully amongst a throng of reciprocal women and with cold beer of epidemic like proportion. I will most likely be the gringo trying to fight off someone trying to shine my sandal laiden feet for 1 peso. I cant wait to see ya man, travel safely, smartly, and with an appetite for destruction. Nos vemos y un gran abrazo, Jose´
ps. I am heavily bearded
Friday, August 17, 2007
  Read em and Weep
Lets break it down. I left the Ecuadorian jungle and so much more on July 31st. I arrived in Boston, MA on the same day. America and I shared a brief yet poignant embrace. After 10 days of cushy, high on the hog American living, (Marriot breakfast buffet, if only we could marry and start a fairy tale) I found myself back in the chaotic clutch of an airport, with the haunting memory of tequila pulsing between my temples, most likely hanging on my every spoken word. Sorry stewardess. On August 11th, at 630am (GMT -4) the thin and crisp air of La Paz, Bolivia issued me a good morning slap in the face/clap on the back. So I have been absorbing this truly incredible city for the last 5 days, and have just been really taking it easy; this is suggested to every traveler for the fact that La Paz is the highest capital city on God´s green earth, and altitude sickness is very easy (if not unavoidable) to succumb to. Were talking 3660 meters, over 10,000 feet. La Paz peeps, what the hell were you thinking? But, us human beings being the hardy and adaptable folks we are, usually get over the effects of the elevation in 4 to 6 days. My body is finally adjusting, and I can now do pull ups on playground equipment without my eye balls exploding out of their sockets, or going into cardiac arrest. Two days ago, more than 15 steps up an incline would have left my lungs feeling like an elephant was standing on them, and my brain feeling like it was intimately getting to know the scent of glue for better than an hour. With taking it easy being said, I have not gone to any eye ball busting sights, or culturally rewarding tours that I could otherwise write about on these here electronic pages. The interesting thing about being a traveler in a foreign country is that there is literally hundreds of hilarious, shocking, and deflowering experiences occurring everyday worthy of discussion.

Here are descriptions of a few of those experiences:

I was welcomed back to hostal life when I was in my bed, securing my beauty sleep/coppin Z´s at a respectable 12:30am hour, when my two other roommates burst in, bringing with them light and passionate conversation with the all around delicateness of a bull. My ipod was the answer until they started smoking a spliff, placing the ash tray on my bed. It was all too much, so I decided to just wake up and introduce myself because trying to sleep would have simply been futile. In a offering of peace, the contraband was passed my way, which I of course had to respectfully decline, because like Snoop, Im drug free. They were both actually very cool and interesting people: Phillip is a fun loving German working on the second degree of his Karate black belt. Andy is a soft yet cleverly spoken American who peace cored in Paraguay for 3 flippin years.

The American Embassy in La Paz really stepped on my puppy. Otherwise stated, they denied my request of putting additional pages in my passport because of a little mold. My passport will be running out of pages very soon, and I heard that the embassy puts extra ones in for free, so I thought what the hell. NOPE, D-nied. Apparently a little discoloration, a little bit of a funky smell is enough to render a passport invalid by their asinine standards, even though I went to the states and back with out a hitch, ¡caras de culo!. The mold of the Ecuadorian jungle is still haunting me.

Bolivian culture is bodacious. Specifically the female attire. They dress themselves in the most vibrant of colors; Joseph (of the bible), not to be disrespectful, but your techni color coat doesnt hold a candle to the colors that these women flaunt. They also bury themselves in layers...Im talking at least 5 thickly layered garments, shawls, slips, sweaters and more. It is these outfits of sheer depth that gives every single one of them a hefty, hefty appearance. Like being 4ft11in and ballooning is a requisite for pulling off the look. I have yet to see a skinnier woman dress in the blanket bubble which is the norm. And we cant forget the bowler cap, no doubt pinned in place, looking almost cemented atop their jet black haired heads. They look too cool, and I wish I had the power to pull it off, but sadly my head is just too big. The bowler cap also adds an element of fear, because I keep thinking that one of these ladies will own a cap that is lined with razor, and she will want a gringo head to add to her collection.

The bustling pedestrian street that I lived on for my week in La Paz owned a depressing monotony of food choices. No doubt it would have been an orgasmic eruption of savory pleasure for a certain kind of people...that is if you believe in stereotypes. Every other shop extending along both sides of this street featured a combination fried chicken or hamburger stall, all of course coming with a generous side of papas fritas. Although, when your in a hurry and need something in your stomach before a 13 hour night bus ride, the sight of such disgusting food can sway the tongues of even the most picky eaters. At the moment, I am in another city called Sucre, which is to the southeast of La Paz. However I cannot wait to come back in a few weeks and taste the rest of what this maneating city has to offer. I am told that the two prisons allow travelers to come inside and converse with an inmate of your choosing; and there is zero in the way of security. My dreams are already running wild, and I promise you will not see my face on a milk carton. Nos vemos gente hermosa, y suerte con todo.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
  Un Mundo Pequeno
Like Nike says, Just Do It. That is what I am having to tell myself right now, because I feel like hell. My brain does not want to function in the nearly 4 km altitude of La Paz, Bolivia. Immediately after exiting the plane in the shining 6:30am light and stepping onto Bolivian soil, the lightheadedness and exhaustion began to set in. It was so overwhelming that I sought airport food right away, which was el rey de hamburgesas, or Burgerking, and after consuming some flakey ham and cheese thing, I collapsed into sleep on the counter, just missing my steaming cup of cafe. First 30 minutes of Bolivia. More on that to come.

However, fit quite snuggly, quite expensively in between my Ecuadorian and now Bolivian adventure, was a brief visit back to the old US of A. I had 10 days in the state of Massachusetts; 5 days in Boston, 5 days in New Bedford. The Why: A reunion with the Greenberg fam claiming the East Coast set, basically my fathers side in its entirety. I can count the number of times I have seen my fathers side in its entirety on two hands. An unfortunate circumstance caused by miles and miles of land between. So when the opporuntity presented itself, I said sorry to the rest of Ecuador and Columbia, and hello to America and its relations. It was (an almost) homecoming of many meetings, some expected, some unexpected. Grandparents Bam and Bampa were not made aware of my coming, and when I knocked on their apartment door I was soon after greeted with a raucus roar of adorable senior citizen coeing. Middle brother Wes wasnt made aware of my presence until I slowly arose out of the back of our rented SUV, about 10 minutes after we picked him up from Boston´s Logan International Airport. I felt like swamp thing slowly rising out of a lagoon of luggage behind him, and when he finally caught me out of the corner of his eye, I do believe he thought it was a terrorist trying to commandeer the vehicle. They all thought I was still in Ecuador, hee hee, they all got punked. I was sincerely relieved that a cortex wasnt splattered, or a heart hadn´t exploded; needless to say it was glorious.

Making this visit more special, was a little exercise in making the great big old world a smaller place. What I mean by that is I was able to meet up with three geographically random contacts on a foreign American coast, all in the span of 10 days. First was Emily, a Bostonian who I met volunteering with in the Ecuadorian jungle. We rehabbed monkeys together, cooked in the same presence of tarantullas, and naturally founded a pretty special freindship. I said goodbye to her in Ecuador about 6 weeks ago, and said hello to her in New Beford, MA about 7 days ago. She coasted into the marriot parking lot, tippin fo vos in her red minivan as I was getting out of my whip, and we proceeded to share a beer in the presence of my family. Emily is at left in photo, about to chow down on some delicious, jungle baked bread. Freaking awesome/random.

Second was Cassie O., a former Seattlelite now living and working in Boston. Our families have known eachother for years, yet actual contact wasn´t established until just a week ago (in front of a golden dome) when handshakes, smiles, and pleasantries were exchanged. Wes and I needed a place to crash for about 5 days as our parents had left back for Seattle. Marsha Greenberg in all of her exuberant social skill, somehow coerced Cassie into taking Wes and I in, and history was made. As in new friendship was forged, an apartment wasnt destroyed, and my brother and I didnt go homeless in Beantown. Find Cassie at center, betwixt lazer and blazer.

Third was Miguel "miggie" Sanchez, a long time resident of Boston, a current attendee of Harvard Grad. School, ladies start your bidding at 10 pesos. I met Miguel in my Delta Chi days at UW, when he came over to Seattle for a year of work, study, and skirt chasing. I hadnt seen, or really heard from this old friend of mine for at least 2 years. This made my email to him saying "hey, Im in Boston, lets look at each other through empty beer glasses" all the more savory. Cassie and I met him at the Pourhouse Pub about an hour late, but our tardiness did not put a damper on the joy of meeting up with a valued amigo in a different geographical setting. Meeting up with a friend from your past is a special enough event. I am still pondering what it is about a different meeting place, foriegn or domestic, that makes that reunion all the more special; that adds a few more pounds per square inch to those bonds of friendship. I welcome anyones ideas on that last one. By the way, Bolivian shoe shine boys wear ski masks during their 9 to 5. Holler at ur boy, Greenbilitary in La Paz, Bolivia.

Sunday, August 05, 2007
  A Different Kinda Dance
Instead of mirrors and disco balls, there is a sparsity of light bulbs strung up. The wiring is exposed, hanging from ceiling rafters, powered by a generator. There is no taxi or vehicle otherwise taking us too and fro, only a manually propelled canoe and a 20 minute hike through the jungle in our finest attire, collars and skirts, with bottles of alcohol in tow. Instead of a linoleum or sealed wooden floor, there is a dusty concrete surface, proudly showing the marks of tread over years of use. No one notices or cares. Forget about a pounding, watt frothing sound system making your chest feel like a paper bee hive. There is however a boom box, maybe a few years old, also powered by the generator that is just loud enough. Draughts of cheecha...of cerveza, are not needed to forget the difference between a multi thousand dollar sound system and one that cost $200. No one notices or cares, its all too delicious. Dancing slow or fast; close, no distance between my body and hers, two worlds magnetically brought together like a car accident. Wonderfully sweaty, hands clasped, hips shake to the repetitive rhythm of the Kichwa song pulsing out of the speakers. The three minute musical connection of our hearts, minds, and wet skinned selves is enough to forget our surroundings, of the surroundings in any perceptible place.

But wait....who the hell wants to forget? We are in the jungle, amongst new Kichwa friends, an ocean of buzzing and droning insect life, gigantic geranium leaves big enough to cover the genitals of a Leviathan. A Kichwa dance party in the jungle. Sitting people of ALL ages line the boundaries of that dusty, marred, perfect concrete dance floor, waiting to be offered a drink out of friendship, or to be asked for the next dance. Babies, tykes, ninos, jovenes, young people, teens, women, old women, abuelitas, chicas calientes, men, men with sweat stained shirts and protruding bellies, grandfathers, mothers, mothers openly breastfeeding, guapalitas, handsome devils and heartbreakers. I always wanted to share at least one dance with a woman that was breastfeeding, the image would just be too funny and bizarre to pass up, but somehow that goal evaporated from my compulsatory grasp. The number of this jungle groove fest consisted of about 200 indigenous Kichwa folk, and maybe 15 westerners. It was a collection of happy and drunken souls on a dance floor without walls; the only boundaries being the deep blackness of night swallowing everything extending a more than a childs' stone throw away from the light bulbs.

And more cheecha is being concocted. The beverage that I love, that all my volunteer friends hate with a nauseous passion. It gets boiled over a pit in huge vats, the main (yet certainly not only) ingredient being mashed yucca root, and is let to ferment over a few days...the longer the more potent. It has a mottled white appearance, the consistency of clam chowder, and generally has an all around vomit like taste. I love it because it is free; it is strong; it is the strange and beautiful custom of a different culture; and when I gulp it down with a ravenous thirst, it disgusts and shocks all those around me. Shock value, a thing of marvelous least to me. It is customary and ordinary at a Kichwa party for it to be passed around the entire crowd of people, small draughts being dished out of a large vat carried around by one person. While most people are satisfied (or painfully satiated) by one little sip out of the bowl, I usually drain at least two full bowls, with the permission of my stomach of course. This is just one amongst many of the story worthy customs of a Kichwa dance party. I fear it will be a long wait until the opportunity of one presents itself again. Until then, the memory of dancing the night away in a happy, intoxicated mass of Kichwa people surrounded by jungle flora will be savored upon like a green jawbreaker, never shrinking in size, slowly becoming sweeter in taste.
Friday, August 03, 2007
  Mas Peliculas
I have too much time on my hands at the moment. I'm fresh from the jungle with no animals to feed/harass with brooms, or tourists to hate upon. Instead I make movies like these of hostel life in Buenos Aires. Look on with fiery jealousy or extreme sympathy.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
  Don't Do Drugs
Buenos dias con todos. I have ignored the blogosphere, among many other things like clean clothes and mirrors, lazily for the last month. This is a genocidal like shame because the last month has entertained some of the juicier, dangerous, magical, and spell binding experiences this young entrepreneur/inventor has ever known. Considering this, and my two week vacation (from a vacation) in Boston with unlimited internet access and sub 90% humidity levels, I will try and write a short little something everyday. Take advantage of those resources seemingly taken for granted I say; specifically talking about a free and steady internet connection, leave the fossil fuels in the ground, the trees where there rooted.
The image of this furry individual was captured on the eve of my last working day at Amazoonico, an animal reserve in the Orient region of Ecuador's rain forest. His name is Macha, he is about around 15 months old, and is one of the 12 juvenile woolly monkeys living freely at the reserve. Macha is still perfecting his leader of the pack skills, as the jefe of the group at the moment is a female named Olga, who not only has age on him, but muscle, body hair, and long pointy teeth as well. It is this little pack of rebel Woolly monkeys, or Chorongos as they're called in Kichwan, that run amok and cause all kinds of monkey chaos for the volunteers living with them. Thankfully they are very friendly and not savagely aggressive (the adults can be), and their tomfoolery is usually taken with a smile and mild shake of the fist. Some examples include spying on you while you shower in the waterfall, and upon washing all of the days dirt away, they will jump on you and soil your leg with fresh dirt while making a mad dash away with a flurry of somersaults (known as roley poleys in the UK). Kapari, you know I am talking to you.
These images provide still more evidence. I found these photos disarmingly cute and humorous, others may be harboring a few misinformed ideas. Allow me to shed some light on some of those faulty ideas: No, Macha does not own a coke habit more expensive than Robert Downey Jr.'s, nor does he own a coke addiction at all. Again, he is not a blowhead, he is not about to drop the line "Say hello to my little friend!!!!," and he is not on Pablo Escobar's pay roll. What these photos illustrate is their wont to ingest absolutely anything, from glass, soap, their own fecal matter, and yeah, flour as well. In a feverish and frantic attempt to start baking food for my despidida, I spilled a little of the white cooking ingredient, and the Chorongos were first on the scene with ravenous appetites. Yes, we can officially equate spilt flower with a barrel of monkey serving of fun. Thanks Chorongos, you are already missed.
Read up on the portion of this life which I have chosen to make accessible to you. Or if it is simpler, just give me a jingle and we can shoot the breeze. Either way, forget about the time, what productivity means or anything that might be pressing and get lost in some thought and imagination.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I come from a small town north of Seattle, WA, where I learned that rain is a magical thing because it turns things green. I have had the chance to go a few places and see a few things of which all I have are pictures, memories and stories. I am currently living and learning about Los Angeles, California, and what it means to be an Angelino.

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