argentina

day 190 & 191. my return to buenos aries.

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the new view

"necessity is the mother of taking chances." - mark twain

(my shorter poetic version of this post was destroyed by a horrible binary accident were a few ones collied with a few zeros. normally this wouldn't be an issue, except when you're using beta software. this is now published in two parts. this is part one. video and photos will be forthcoming.)

sometimes there is a necessity to climb a mountain. sometimes that same necessity bears the most unusual fruit.

on day 190, i woke up at 6 am and edited videos. as 18h30 (6.30 pm) chimed in my mental koo-koo clock. i knew i was late. all day long, i had monitored reports of areolinas argentina's from fellow travelers. being at the end of the world, and only coming across one other traveler who would departing 30 mins before myself, there was nothing to note. as the phantom pendulum swayed, rumor wafted of crippling strike.

despite the fact i spent the previous day on the side of mountain, sprinting down two flights of stairs with 60kg of luggage was the most dangerous act of my entire ushuaian adventure. second to this sprint, was the fact i should have been at the airport one hour before my departure. racing through the crowed streets of ushuaia, emilo, my driver (the owner of the freestyle hostel) nearly picked off two undulate penguins. these penguins shared a resemblance to stunned european toursts.

as rastamax and i belted american hip hop songs, the 2006 renault, spent most of it's time on the left hand side of the road. flashing it's high beams and dodging trucks, jalopies and donkeys, the landmarks of the last month flashed before my eyes. i crossed my fingers.

arriving at the second smallest airport in the world, the three of us discovered lines winding their way from one side of the terminal to the other. i did not know that this convention of bewilderment, would be the first of 70 hours of waiting.

after an hour and a half of three lines and an extra hour sorting out why the plane's manifest featured one less person than sat on board, we departed for buenos aires' domestic airport. at 1 am, two fellow couchsurfers and i disembarked from the tail of the airplane and said our goodbyes.

with more uncertainty than republicans in texas, i found another renault and race car driver. for 30 minuets, we caressed the freeways of buenos aires.

arriving at the international airport, my driver sprinted back and forth looking for a luggage trolly. at 2 am, the shinny new facade of terminal A seemed calm. walking through the double sliding glass doors that bless 90% of the world's modern airports, i entered into a womb of sleeping passengers.

with several hundred people scattered about, i found no fracas. so, i found a small metal bench, i pulled out my trench coat, linked my luggage together, swung my legs ontop of my luggage and passed out. almost two hours later, i awoke to see my flight on the departure board and my checkin desk assignment. little did i know that the gates of hell were just around the corner.

starting at one end of the terminal, i walked past every check in kiosk. at the end of the hall, i found a sign that pointed me around a corner to the left. glancing to my right, stood wolves frothing at the mouth. (they really were unlicensed taxi cab drivers.) as i turned my cart to the left, i stood outside the gates of hell.

DAY 191.

at this point there were two lines. the left was longer. it also entered a small arch and then made a sharp 90° turn. the line on the right poured endlessly into an abyss of mindless luggage carts. feeling a bit adventurous, i started my starboard navigation. like a 1980's atari game, zombiefyed passengers angling to get around the person next to them attacked me. unlike mario, dodging them was useless. i must have hit three or four carts until my nyc motorcycle skills awakened. then, i was dodging on coming / sideswiping zombie driven carts...

well that was until i hit my first foot. absconded by trash, the impact did not even phase this fallen soul. stopping in my tracks, i found myself in a sea of desperation, dashed dreams and an army of federal police. to my left, a thousand or so zombies standing in shapeless lines. to my right, families and friends camping in their own filth. this was a scene unlike any movie.

in front of the sea of people stood 20 federal police with 20 more milling in and out. behind them, 30 airport kiosks. at every other kiosk stood the remains of an Aerolineas Argentinas staff member. while my fellow glass-eyed wanna be passengers expended their last bits of sanity, i enquired "why is this happening?" no one knew.

as i approached staff members they just ushered me aside. according to the global distortion filter (USA Today, BBC News, The Canadian Press) - "it's a labor dispute." according to a comment on global voices, this was a dispute long in the making.

i bumped into some local tour guides and they said that since the 1990 privatization, aerolineas argentina has been one screwed up organization. not only is every other flight delayed by an hour or so, but every other year you'll find some portion of the airline on strike (airwise).

as i waited, a bull-horned police officer shrouded in a bullet proof vest would stand on a kiosk and announce a city and a kiosk number. within a smattering of seconds, the sound of smashing trollies were all around me. babies who were quietly annoyed, would wail as their parents and fellow passengers violently thrashed through a sea of limp limbs.

when the first plane was called out, i attempted to defend any sense of personal space. after three mins, i tucked my trolly into an artery of movement and found a quite place next to a poll. for a few hours, i stood, sat, stretched, skipped, sang, skanked, and spoke to my self. after rome, came new york. then they called out mexico city, then santiago de chile, then madrid, and then ushuaia.

one staff member reassured me that all flights for sao paulo would depart. around 6h00 (6am) a call came for sao paulo. they called for all passengers from the flights that would have departed on 10, 11, 12 to line up. three days of flights all attempting to be extricated on two planes. at that very moment, i saw the line stretch out past the gates of hell. i questioned my sanity.

if my flight was on the 13th and they were just starting to process three days of flights... i knew my chances were slim to none. with less than $150 USD in my checking account and less than $30 USD in my wallet, flying out on another airline would be impossible. with little sleep and less food in my stomach, my mind entered into survival mode. i need to find three things, food, transport and sleep.

as i calculated my options, my heart found only one. with no money to stick around for another week in BA, i rounded the corner and found the continental airlines office.

snaking my way from hell, i found a nameless door with a handwritten sign. with a swift knock, the electronic intercom buzzed "quen es?"

tired, i responded in english. within a few mins a grandmotherly looking woman opened the door. i explained my situation and she gave me a number to call. she also told me that the evening flight is full, but i could call houston and see what they could do...

with in 30 min, good news; i had a flight out of BA. the bad news, i would have to wait 40 hours for the next flight to houston.

i thought to myself, "40 hours! i can get a lot of sleep in 40 hours!" as i checked my watch it was only 10h30 on the 13 jan.

winding my way back through the gates of hell, i found my fellow zombies and told them of my departure. we wished each other "luck" and i wheeled my way out of hell.

beyond the point of exhaustion, i found an over priced sandwich, a cup of coffee for warmth (the whole departure hall was well over 25°C - 77°F) , and a beer (to knock my ass out). for the next 30 hours, i wrote down 98 lessons learned on this trip; i also finished "fearce invalids home from hot climates" by tom robins; slept; then i found another overpriced meal.

sometime around midnight, i found an air conditioning duct spewing fresh air and a cool slab of marble.

necessity is my mother

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Agua from gallo1 on Vimeo. "A group of tourists requires water to the airport police, after remaining nearly one day, trapped in a Union dispute."

global voices article + video + reality distortion filter (BBC News, USA Today) + me = in houston recovering.
for now i'm licking a few wounds and trying to remember the past 3 days. more to come later... many apologies to brazil... by tomorrow afternoon, you'll have a lovely video, story and videos to boot.

day 188. my last day at the end of the world.

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the understanding

"The whole world around us lay spread out like a giant relief map," he told one interviewer. "I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men." the last line in sir hillary's obituary by robert d. mcfadden in the IHT.

without a doubt, i too feel the same accomplishment. today, i venture back up to the glacier.

episode 42. day 184, a 4x4 adventure.

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Recoded: 6 January 2008
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: 4x4, nunataka adventure, end of the earth, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: louie, louie - the kingsmen
About: i posted some photos a few days ago, but here's the rip roaring, no holds bars beaver / shark adventure. toward the end of the video, you'll see me sitting on a log. while the rest of the peeps were canoeing. apparently, i had over stretched my arm skipping stones... nonetheless, it have me more time to soak in the amazing beauty that is "the end of the earth."

day 185/186. the last two days or how i'm starting to look for a job.

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the sunset

the past two days contain three ingredients - 1 tablespoon of all day encoding and editing - 1 750 cml of Argentinean wine - 2/3 victory in backgammon. as i sit, edit, and play, i am working hard to catch up on video editing. even after my scratch drive reformat, it seems that i'm filling 200 gig drives faster than i can "zadi snap" my fingers. through it all, i'm catching up on emails and poking around online for brazilian contacts.

painfully, the next few videos are more emotional than i've expected. i never would have thought that at the end of the world i would tear my soul and pour on to tape the uncertainty of life.

as my last month spins, i am at a very important crossroad. this is more important than when i started. (which you will see in two videos from now...) not only am i looking to complete the goals that i set out 12 months ago, but i am now in need of employment and shelter from the storm of poverty. my credit card bills have piled up. my roommate emailed me that my sub-let is moving out and nether she nor i can afford the apartment on our own.

while the head hits the tape, i see a few options. as an election year, i can turn to the old guard and seek my thirst on the campaign trail, OR i can do something REALLY crazy. this craziness involves turning the sum of the past 12 months, the tools and hard lessons learned into something that empowers others to do the same.

i have one simple crux. i see an intertwined world of overwhelming complexity. i see issues, arguments, problems, and overlapping thoughts. at the same time, i do not see myself cutting out one issue to fill my fix of empowering others. i do not see a single singularity, nor do i have the funds to continue. i must not give up on helping others to make our world a better place, but i must also find employment.

i've been looking at executive level positions with witness and league of young voters, but i need more options than just these two. if you know of any jobs that could use a suave boy like me, please send out a contact... my ears are open.

ps - flickr photos from day 185 & 186.

episode 41. day 182, a prison.

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Recoded: 4 January 2008
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: art, prison, music video, sadness, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: You Should Be Changing Everything - Japancakes
About: in ushuaia there is one thing you can not miss, the southern most prison in the world. it's also the disputed home of the famous tango singer, carlos gardel (second link). while there, i thought about the things we touch and the legacy we leave. in this video, i venture into my first "artistic" foray and show you the cold artifacts of a prisoner's world.

episode 40. day 180, a new year.

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Recoded: 2 January 2008
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: julie jira, glacier, thoughts, new year resolutions, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: waiting for superman - iron and wine
About: back from her love affair with antarctica, julie jira (flickr) and i take to the slopes for a bit of new year climbing and more importantly glacier sledding! while on top of the mountain, i make some painful decisions about antarctica and make a new years resolution.

day 184 photos. 4x4ing with nunatak adventure

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the gang's all here

feeling a bit down on my antarctic prospects, sebastian and rasta max hooked me up with a small barter. for 8 hours i would be forced to sit in the front seat of a land rover to video one of ushuaia's best 4 x 4 tours. running around in the back woods, nunatak adventure took us to the hinterlands of lake escondido for fun, sun, an amazing kickin BBQ and a whole lot of splish splashing.

episode 39. day 178, the end of 2007.

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Recoded: 31 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, new years eve, bbq, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: highway to hell - AC/DC
About: after a hard day (see episode 38), i head back to the freestyle hostel, for a bit of R & R and one massive blowout. sorry if the last few frames are blurry, but so is my memory past 3 AM... :P

episode 38. day 178, one way south

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Recoded: 31 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, michael mccoll, new years eve, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: no rain - blind mellon
About: so it's the last day of the year and after spending a whole day running around town banging out my sneekernet i find an email from michael mccoll stating he's found a way south. so i snag my bags and run to the docks only to find out that it's taken him 6 months to hammer out a deal.

episode 37. day 176, got work?

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Recoded: 29 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: free hugs, juan mann, hitchhiking, free hugs guide, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: over the rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
About: it's lonely out here... super lonely. the likely hood of me holding up a sign and heading south is dwindling fast... in between the infrequent hugs, i think about my buddy juan mann. he's the silly fool who became internet famous for hugging the world. juan's just released an illustrated guide on hugging and is making plans to travel the world for his own internet vlog.

episode 36. day 175, technical difficulties.

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Recoded: 27 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: pants, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: walk on the wild side - lou reed
About: after 6 months, the crotch of my pants departed to another journey. for balls and honor!

day 179. a happy new year.

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the run around

if you click on the roundabout, you'll find a boatload of photos from new years...

A day once dawned
And it was beautiful
A day once dawned from the ground
Then the night she fell
And the air was beautiful
The night she fell all around

So look see the days
The endless coloured ways
And go play the game that you learnt
From the morning

And now we rise
And we are everywhere
And now we rise from the ground
And see she flies
And she is everywhere
See she flies all around

So look see the sights
The endless summer nights
And go play the game that you learnt

From the morning by nick drake

day 175. a rough passage to antarctica

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the end of the road

it is day 13 at the end of the earth.

for the past 13 days, i've documented my story via video. so far, i've kicked out 8 videos and wake up every morning staring south at my last challenge. check out my holiday request and repost it to the rest of the world.

every door that has opened has not opened to antarctica. instead, i find myself in a small town with a few new friends and a long list of admirers. i really haven't had a day to myself, and the constant challenges have tested every level of my being. i am now up against a brick wall fighting through negative thoughts and working hard to keep my spirt up.

i have made it to the end of the earth and very few make it past this point. as of today, it is unlikely that i will find a commercial voyage that i can barter. despite that everyone says the same thing - i will not give up holding up my sign - "will work for antarctica." i know there are still untested door knobs (or if you are on a boat, latches). nonetheless, it's time to explore the last foreseeable option.

voyaging on a cruse is not cheap. if you make it to ushuaia, a last min ticket costs in the vicinity of $7,000 USD. fuel will cost another $200 USD, and then one is forced to purchase emergency medical and evacuation insurance at $200 USD. with taxes and jazz, i'm looking at almost $8,000 USD.

i have traveled around the world on the trust and hospitality of the world! i have traveled to the end of the earth exploring our social networks. i have placed my life into the hands of the internet, and you have carried me to the end of the earth. no longer is this one man's dream; i know the world is watching.

by the end of next year, i promise you an inspiring movie that will rock your socks and bring you to tears. if you contribute, i promise you a children's book. i promise your faith, your trust, your love will be rewarded! just as the world has given me it's love, all content will be given freely for the world to view. i have trusted the world and together we stand strong.

i know to some it might sound absurd to make it to the end of the earth and not try what i've tried all along... so i'm going to do what i've done best: asking you, mr and ms internet to help. so here's kick... link to chipin widget for $8000. if you have the chance to give, please do... if you are a corporation and want to sponsor the rest of the journey, feel free... contact me.

if you have cruse contacts or an ace up your sleeve, help a brother out. :)

ps - if you feel that this is a frivilous cause and one shouldn't spend a single cent on this exploration - consider contributing to Alive in Baghdad (community journalism) or The Frozen Pea Fund (breast cancer awareness).

episode 35. day 173, christmas day.

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Recoded: 25 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, paul lacoste, free hugs, christmas, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: chocolate jesus - tom waits
About: on a bright and sunny day, paul and i headed down to the waterfront to see if christmas cheer and free hugs will get us anywhere. after a few hours handing out hugs and waving to ushuaia, paul and i get picked up by my buddy matias, carolina and malo for a christmas adventure we will never forget!
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on the luck of seven was an open-source, around the world project by noel hidalgo, a new york city based activist, organizer, barcamper and coworker.

for seven months, he traversed the globe. using a new media voodo (blog, vlog, wiki, flickr, couchsurfing, twitter, myspace, dopplr, and facebook), noneck harnessed the collective knowledge of the internet, and report on seven topics of freedom. this trip was funded by 253 people and supported, house, fed, and loved by countless others.

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