Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I arrived in Seattle, along with the mini, on Friday, January, the 9th. Spent the weekend basking in the glory of the accomplishment that is driving a 27-year old car from London to Seattle... the hard way. Also got a chance to read a few of Lott's blog posts from Costa Rica and be jealous... very jealous - it was much, much colder in Seattle than it was in Central America! And I've come to rather dislike the cold.

So, by the time Monday rolled around, it was time to face a few simple facts and start planning again. First, the facts:
- I'm in Seattle
- in approximately three weeks, I need to be in Ushaia, Argentina to cruise Antarctica
- after Antarctica, I want to head off to Brazil for Carnival
- Brazil requires a visa... f%*!ing reciprocity!
- Lott and company are in Costa Rica, where it's a lot warmer than it is in Seattle
- I need to sell my car in order to be able to afford most of the things above

Visa to Brazil seemed like a necessary first step - in the US, I have to get it from the Brazilian consulate in San Francisco, which takes 10 days. So, plan: send off the application to a visa agency in San Francisco, pay them (too much) to submit the application, take the train down the coast all the way to San Diego, going snowboarding in Hood, Tahoe, and Big Bear along the way - by the time I'd arrive, the visa would be ready, and I'd have just enough time to catch a flight to Ushuaia. Unresolved issue: it's a lot warmer in Costa Rica, than it is in any place on the Pacific coast where I could go snowboarding! Sacrifices have to be made, I guess... So, I booked my train ticket to Portland for Tuesday, convinced a friend in Portland to let me stay with her, and agreed to meet up with that French girl from Vancouver, whom we met at Pike's Place market, down in Portland. Last second get-together in Capitol Hill to commemorate the mini's arrival and my new departure:

It's nice that the beer is in focus, while Liv and I, who've been drinking the beer, are not...

Tuesday, I had Nate on board to give me a ride to the train station and was walking to the Post Office to send off the visa application to San Francisco, when I tried calling the Brazilian embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica once again, and ... lo and behold, my 'Ola! Hablo Ingles?' got me to an English-speaking embassy employee, who told me that an American could, in fact, get a visa to Brazil in Costa Rica, and it would only take a maximum of three days! Well... change of plans! Sorry, Leah - I'm not coming to Portland anymore! Sorry, Colin, you can tell Steph about the creepy Russian sleeping on the couch in the living room for one more night! Hi, mom and dad, I'll be in San Diego tomorrow! And thanks, Steph (even though you're clearly insane) for insisting on giving me a ride to the airport in time for my 7AM flight...

It was (of course) dreary and overcast in Seattle when my flight left, heading for Salt Lake City. We didn't even have to reach California for the weather to improve dramatically, so I got some good views out of my window on the way:

Salt Lake City is literally surrounded by big, snow-capped mountains. I do really want to go snowboarding there...

Rocky mountains flanking the city. I'd like to know what that little puff of smoke on the far right is...

And this, I presume, is the Salt Lake

Entering Nevada - no more snow, but still mountain ranges down below. And the engine is right here too.

A river runs through it. Through Nevada

So, the new plan, hastily formed since I've arrived back in San Diego:
- I've got a bunch of plane tickets to go LA - Costa Rica - Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires - Ushuaia - Buenos Aires - Rio. With a week long stopover in Costa Rica, where I'm optimistic about getting my visa to Brazil, while hanging out on the sunny beach with Lott, Bailey, Mattson, and company. And with a bus/ferry transfer from Montevideo to Buenos Aires (flights to Buenos Aires were expensive!), and with flights to/from Ushuaia on LADE, a military-operated Argentinian airline, which is bound to make for some interesting flights. There's also a hostel in Rio reserved for seven nights of Carnival, so things are looking up. My car is even all set to be sold tomorrow (to a dealer who's giving me a crappy price, but apparently you people have let the world economy completely deteriorate while I've been gone, which has rather depressed the demand for BMW's...). Thursday, I take off for Costa Rica, set to arrive on Friday and start finding out all the exciting, incredible ways in which all those plans can go horribly wrong!

Hanging out on the beach in San Diego, plotting ways to get even further South


shoe said...

Well, I'll be in Mexico the last two weeks of February if you and Dave want to venture north ;). Yay for last minute trips!

b mathew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
b mathew said...

Alex, you're my hero. Good luck with your south american adventure.