09 August 2013

Killing Parasites in China

After visiting India, I had a hard time not thinking about a story I had hear from a friend of mine. She happens to be a great doctor and had warned me about the dangers of parasites in India. She had told me this horrible story about a coworker of hers, who picked up some sort of intestinal bug while on a medical mission in India. I don't remember exactly all the medical intricacies of the story but the gist of it was basically  "DON'T GET THEM"  ….  

I was already feeling frustrated about my failing skydiving attempt in Dubai. I didn't know this at the time, but skydiving is the number one attraction  in Dubai. When we called to make our reservation, the first booking was a month away. One of the reasons skydiving is so popular in Dubai, is the unique drop zone which happens to be right over the man made "palm". The Palm Islands are basically these set of man made islands constructed from sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf. It's an incredible sight but best appreciated from above. 

My failing skydiving attempt and my fear of parasites, resulted in this brilliant idea. Why not try bungy jumping? why not in China? They just happen to have the highest bungy jump the world. How bad can it be right? I'm sure is no biggie. My friend in Hong kong told me it was 764ft height. After living 15 years in the United States, I still have no idea what that meant. The metric system makes so much more sense… just sayin'

But I can tell you after having jumped…. 764ft = what in the world was I thinking? 764ft = where is the elevator down? 764ft = Why can't I keep my knees from buckling and more importantly 764ft = every single parasite or living organism in my stomach dead as it was transported into my throat in the spam of 7 seconds :-) 

So the moral of the story is, (you can't trust the system.. OK bad SNL joke) the moral of the story is if you are afraid of the infamous Delhi belly, Forget Mebendazole and Piperazine… Jumping is the way to go!

04 August 2013

Puerto Rican Power

Paris is The City of Light, New York City is the Capital of the World, Chicago is the Windy City, and San Juan is the City of Noise.
I thought Spaniards were loud, but Puerto Ricans can make even the loudest Spaniards sound like Benedictine monks. I don't mean that in a negative way. OK maybe sometimes it can get a little annoying, but for the most part Puerto Ricans don't need an excuse to raise hell and party, a commendable practice indeed. 

This became quite apparent one day when I started hearing loud noises and music coming from a couple of blocks from where I was staying. I was curious, thinking it must be some sort of block party. I decided to walk a couple of steps to check out the "block party" only to discover that the noise was actually some sort of protest…. very very confusing. The party goers were demanding payments of some sort, but they didn't really seem to care about the payment. One guy was holding a huge boom box while everybody around him was dancing and singing. If you've never seen the Manuel Ortiz show on SNL, you should stop reading this and do a quick You Tube search…. You can thank me later. It is fantastic!

Being from Colombia and living almost half of my life in the US, I think Puerto Rico is the perfect blend of Latino and American culture. It is so bizarre to see signs for the US Postal Service with the sound of Ruben Blades blaring in the background. I think Puerto Ricans have it made. I know some people will disagree with me on this point, but in my humble opinion they get the benefits of traveling with an American passport while keeping their Latino heritage. Hardcore Puerto Ricans want their independence from the United States, but I don't think they know what they are wishing for. 

My trip To Puerto Rico was supposed to be all about the elements. Chasing the wind and waves.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, Mother Nature decided to be pretty quiet. I literally saw kitesurfers from the window of the plane as I was taking off. I have a kitesurfing friend who says that's one thing he loves about the sport; the unpredictability of the wind. I, on the other hand hate it. It was windy the day before I arrived, quiet the entire time I was there, and windy literally as I was taking off. Do I sound a little bitter?.. Umm luckily, I got to spend a lot of time with my wonderful Godmother, roam around the lovely streets of San Juan, learn a little bit about Puerto Rican rum, and visit the charming town of Ponce. 

Arriving in Puerto Rico

Condado Beach

Old San Juan

This might as well be Colombia


Bacardi Plant

El Morro

01 August 2013

Jaipur, Amer fort, and the one legged Schumacher.

When I started this blog, I never planned on making it a “travel guide.” I just wanted to capture my travel experiences as I saw them.  That being said, if you ever find yourself in Jaipur, India, do yourself a favor and call this number: 9636998783.  Your life will be immediately better after meeting Firoj. He is the kindest and most helpful rickshaw driver you’ll ever meet south of Delhi. He also happens to be an incredible rickshaw driver.  He was even kind enough to let me borrow his “beast” for a spin.

I grew up driving mechanical cars, a few motorcycles, and even a jeep who my family referred to as “el commando.” This was no easy jeep to drive. No hydraulic steering, rough gear shifting and “long long brakes” made it a bit of a challenge to drive.
But nothing compared to Firoj’s rickshaw.  I was already impressed by their ability to drive these peculiar vehicles just from riding around and seeing him zip through narrow streets, avoiding potholes, animals, people – lots of people. My respect went to another level after driving this thing.  It is almost as if the rickshaw engineers of the world got together (I’m sure the meeting took place somewhere in India) and said, “Let’s invent the world’s most challenging vehicle to drive.” 

Unlike regular mechanical motorcycles, not only you have to press the clutch with your left hand, but also shift up and down with the same hand. So you close your fist with your left hand then snap the wrist up, accelerate with the right hand, Honk (you will need to honk every 3 seconds) then pump the clutch again, snap the wrist down and so forth. In order to brake, the brake has to be pumped 2 times before it engages the tires. So basically you have to slam on the breaks 3 times in order to brake. This means you have to time your breaking way in advance, a very challenging task when you could have a monkey or a cow or a pothole come out of nowhere at anytime. Believe me, it is much more difficult than it sounds.

Ohh, and did I mention Firoj lost part of his left leg in a car accident?
I hadn’t noticed his disability due to his Schumacher-like ability to drive this thing, but also because of his incredible positive attitude about life. I’m not saying you can entirely know a person in a day, but I think you can learn a lot. Firoj told us about his wife with a big grin in his face. We could tell he lived in very precarious conditions, but judging by his face you would think he was married to a super model and lived in a mansion. Happiness is such a relative concept.  

Once again, the Amer fort was amazing, some of the landmarks and palaces in Jaipur were incredible, but what I’ll remember the most about that day was just the simple interactions with this incredible man. 
I leave you with some raw footage of my rickshaw experience…oh yeah and some pictures from Amer fort and Jaipur. I almost forgot

With Firoj infront of the Amer Fort

Firoj and Jimmy

Two weeks without the infamous Delhi belly