Monday, July 18, 2016

American Publicly Spits-up French Gourmet Cheese in Paris

I have never liked cheese. 
My Mom told me when I was a baby,  I would spit it up when they tried to feed it to me. Later, my father, incredulous that his son could possibly have an aversion to such a staple, who, despite being an MIT physicist, isn’t intellectually capable of understanding that a different reality of the world besides his own could exist, used to try to sneak cheese and butter into sandwiches he made for me, which were instantly spit onto the ground and thrown into the garbage. 
It only stopped after I called the authorities to complain about a poisoning attempt. 

I go out of my way to avoid cheese. I was once starting a relationship with a really beautiful girl and was invited over to her house for lunch for the first time, and was caught picking out the cheese of turkey sandwich she gave me. I should have warned her, my actions were ... not welcomed.

So, now I am Paris, with my wonderful AirBnb host, Naomi, who is excited about acquainting me with French culture, which, for all its beauty, for a country which has given the world everything from crepes to The Louvre, has a major flaw- it's love affair with 'fromage' (cheese.) 
True fact: On "blue cheese" France actively cultivates mold for "taste;" it is considered a delicacy. No wonder this is where the nihilist movement began. 

And Naomi, thinking herself kind, tells me, nay, brags to me with wide dilated eyes that she will have a "platter of French cheese prepared for me which I can sample to my hearts content." She gives me a huge and generous smile.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

When I tell her that cheese isn't exactly my cup of tea, she's in absolute disbelief, she's never heard such a thing, she takes it upon herself to attempt to assimilate me to French culture and society.
When her pleas for sanity fail, she blackmails me to try her cheese by threatening to turn me into authorities as a terrorist.
Below you'll see the results. 

the cheese incident in Paris, France

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What Makes a Woman Super Sexy- in Paris, France


After a long mostly sleepless flight to Paris, I board the airport bus to the city as suggested by Google- my feeble, tired mind already under the direction of the world's future robotic overlords. 
In literally the blink of the eye, neural pathways start to fire absent computer instruction; it's the usual male trip-wire, a beautiful woman; sitting alone in the front. The bus has plenty of open seats, but my choice is obvious. 

As I sit, I look down and see a small ring around her wedding finger, it's not a rock but it's still a deterrent, plus I'm worn out, I take a deep breath and try to close my eyes- not working. We continue on in silence. 

"Is that a Wi-Fi sign?" she asks me nicely, pointing to the bus's window. 
"Indeed it is," I reply. 
Ice broken, I start to joke around with her. I'm struck by her warm and easy laugh. Approaching my destination, I know I have to make haste. Depending what time her friend is arriving, we might explore the city together. 
As I try to get my bearings a British woman who exited the bus behind me gets my attention, "Nice chat-up lines," she compliments out of nowhere. Though slightly bewildered, I smile, maybe there's a greater likelihood of hearing from Nata than I've estimated. 

An hour later I receive a text inviting me to meet near the Eiffel Tower (created by famed French architect Frank Tower.)
Our adventure begins. 

She's so easy, she smiles, she laughs, she giggles, she's so free, she's the definition of feminine. 
There is such a joy in her. It bubbles out unforced, so easily. The more time I spend with her, the sexier she becomes. 
Her freedom and joy invigorates the masculine energy. In fact, it's inspirational. There is nothing more I wish to do then to serve and protect her, to allow her the freedom and space to express her feminine.  
Apelsin!
And when the storms come, and they do arrive I learn quickly, you just stand strongly in the wind and not let the gusts blow you away, not move you from your center. The feminine continually tests the masculine. But once the storm is weathered, as quickly as the dark clouds arrived, her almost blinding sunshine appears once again.  

And I'm attracted like a bee to a bright flower, like a metal shield to this magnet of femininity. I have difficulty extracting myself from her presence, from letting her go. 

Maybe it's just her natural state, maybe it's the romantic city of Paris that helps bring it to the surface, maybe it's a combination, but this effervescent joy, this natural free-spirit, flirty, the easy going nature, all of which comprise what I consider to be the feminine, makes her utterly irresistible.

And even now, writing this from a thousand miles away, I wish she was here in my arms, so I could feel her essence, squeeze her, look into her bright sparkling eyes, and hear her warm bubbly laugh.
It makes me smile just to think about it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Saved by a Toucan- Running Through the South American Jungle to Catch My Plane

My AirbBnb in Puerto Iguazu lies 14km away from Iguazu Falls, and the airport even further in the same direction. Adhering to my beloved motto of efficiency- using my time and resources to the best of my ability, I pack my bags and bring them with me to the park, renting a locker in effort to avoid retracing my steps while I gaze at Devil's Throat.
Positively awed by what I've seen, I return in the afternoon and grab my bags without a care in the world, dare I say inspired. Inquiring about transport, I discover the buses only return back to town, none head to the airport. No worries, I'll take a taxi, I walk to the stand and inquire.
"$30??? I thought the airport was close."
"That's the price."
"How far is the airport from here?
"10km."
"So, there are like 6 of you sitting around here with no work, anyone ready to negotiate, cause that is a steep price."
"The price is fixed."
"But how can you charge like double what I would pay for the same ride in New York City??"
"Thank Macri," one of them answers me a little disgusted, referring to Argentina's current President.

So now I assess the situation. I can get taken to the cleaners, or maybe ... maybe I can save the money and have a little adventure. I'll try to hitch-hike there, and if worse comes to worse, I have enough time to jog to the airport and make it. Heck, it's only 6.2 miles.
I explain my decision to the taxi drivers, giving them one more chance to lower their prices. They merely chuckle, and wish me luck.
I start walking down the road away from the park, a civilian car headed towards me. I animatedly wave the couple down. They stop and I explain my plan, they offer to drive the mile-plus to where the road leading to the national-park intersects with the main road. I gleefully accept.
Driving uphill, I suddenly realize I hadn't included included that into my calculations, and while I'm grateful I'm getting a ride this far, wonder what I else I might not have factored in.
Stopping at the main intersection, actually, the only intersection for miles, the girl asks me if I'm sure this is where I want to be dropped off. Gauging her husband's grunt to the question, I realize the reason they pulled over was her kind heart, and I don't want to push my luck.
"Thank you, I'll be fine, I assure them."

I grab my two bags, and exit out onto the jungle road, waving them a grateful good-bye.
I stand there, alone, listening to the sound of insects humming and birds chirping. Minutes pass, and there hasn't been any movement on the road, in the bush. Nothing.
Now, it's been about 6 minutes, and there hasn't been a single car. I realize I'm on an unavoidable countdown towards missing my plane, towards being stuck in the jungle for the night as darkness will fall soon, towards getting eaten alive at dusk by dangerous jungle mosquitoes (zika, malaria, dengue) towards, and this is the worst part, being totally inefficient.

I briefly consider walking back and taking a taxi, but the idea of being robbed like that combined with backtracking, not to mention the smirks on all those smug faces add up to a non-starter.
I'd better start moving towards the airport. I sling my two bags over my shoulder and start jogging down the jungle road. A half-mile later the humidity of the rain forest, combined with 27 pounds of luggage is seriously slowing me down. My stride falls off into a walk, but survival instinct kicks me back into gear.
I hear the rumble of a car in the distance. I'm in luck, it's headed my way, and it will be the first one I've seen. I wave strongly and passionately, but they speed right on by.
Oh man, am I going to make my plane? It's going to be close at this weighed down pace.
bright orange standing in front of Iguazu's Deil's Throat
Could you miss this traffic cone jumping up and down in the middle of the Iguazu Jungle?
I plod on, making sure to keep a decent pace. What would be easy without the extra weight flying back into body with each stride becomes an exercise in grit.
Five minutes later, sweat pouring down my body, I hear an SUV coming my way. I'm doing everything I can to stop it. As it arrives within visual striking distance, me, the orange traffic cone featured above starts leaping up and down like a basketball player catching an alley-oop. I'm yelling, "Hey! Hey! Aqui! Aqui!"
I see him nod his head, as his newer model SUV slows and he comes to a stop. I feel elated, as he opens the passenger door. He's surprised by my brief story, but he seems kind, and tells me to get in, which I do instantly. He tells he can take me a couple miles, but then he's set to take another road back to Brazil.
No problem I tell him, knowing the odds of making my plane have increased dramatically. He chuckles as we drive along.
toucan- my favorite bird
I see movement in a tree, and point to the probably the world's most beautiful bird, the South American toucan. He slows down as elated as I am to spot this gorgeous animal.
"The toucan inspires me," he states, with me nodding my head in affirmation. We share the moment.
"Never mind," he says, "I'll take you all the way to airport."



We drive past his turn, and a few miles later he drops me off at Iguazu Airport. I thank him greatly, he smiles and nods back, and I literally skip into the terminal with an hour to spare, and go order a treat from the cafe as a reward. Mr. Taxi-Drivers, I win!

Want to travel with me? Efficiency and adventure. Who could resist?

Devil's Throat- the Raw Power + Wildlife of Iguazu Falls


Walk a kilometer atop a metal plank with railings, over a stretch of water, which, at two miles wide, seems more like a large lake than river. Gazing over the 2 mile wide flow of water. I see white smoke in the distance which magically transforms into water vapor, cooling me as I draw closer. 
Raw Power surging over a cliff.; water pouring in Universal quantitates. Thoughts vacate the mind, or perhaps are deafened by the thunderous volume of water pouring over the cliff into the 300 foot deep abyss below. Rather than making me feel small I utterly cease to exist. My jaw drops, bouncing lightly off the floor in appreciation for the majesty and power I am witnessing. 
I stand there spellbound for over an hour, watching the this natural water, listening to nature’s concert, feeling absolute awe. 
It stays with me still today. The world is beautiful and magical place. 

Devil's Throat- Raw power
a girl gazes at Devil's Throat, Iguazu
a girl gazes at Devil's Throat, Iguazu
Devil's Throat
continual flow of water pouring over the edge

videowatch the power and volume of water


video: explaining the power of Devil's Throat

Devil's Throat
careful! Careful!
Devil's Throat
Devil's Throat
photo doesn't do Devil's throat justice!
Devil's throat- different angle
Devil's Throat lean over
Devil's Throat lean over
Devil's Throat, Iguazu

imagine it in person, watch the videos
massive amounts of water pouring over Devil, Throat
massive amounts of water pouring over Devil, Throat
Devil's Throat around the corner
Devil's Throat around the corner 
I don't grow tired of it! ever
the Devil's Falls roundabout
the Devil's Falls roundabout


Some of the wildlife of Iguazu Falls National park I saw shown below. The coati you're guaranteed to see, the toucan, well you have to get lucky :)

coatimundi searches for food.
coatimundi searches for food.
toucan of Iguazu
toucan of Iguazu
double toucans- atop and below it
double toucans- atop and below it
toucan in tree, beautiful bird
toucan in tree, beautiful bird

Monday, July 4, 2016

One of Planet Earth's WOW's- Iguazu Falls

first sighting of Iguazu Falls from afar
first sighting of Iguazu Falls from afar
Look, there are just places in the world that are so stupendously beautiful, breath and thought gets taken away. One such place is Iguazu Falls which are located on the Brazilian/ Argentinian border, though 80% of the water flows over cliffs on the Argentinian side.
islands amidst the river
The 2.7km wide river is broken by small islands into many separate waterfalls (varying between 200 to 270 feet tall!) though the flow is heaviest and most spectacular over a narrow chasm called Devil's Throat, the roar of the falling water audible from far far away. To stand there, witnessing the raw power would inspire awe in the most cynical of people, and is a reminder of how small our perceived problems are in the face of such a vast energy flowing over the cliffs.
From the Gran Aventura, where a power boat approaches as closely as it can to the falls, the massive spray and water vapor drenching everyone inside, to the rascally coatimundis (South American raccoons) searching for easy food, to the rare and elusive jaguar roaming the national park, this area is one of the world's MUST SEES.
I stood there for hours staring at the falls, utterly amazed, positively spellbound by nature's sheer power. All my thoughts of lack were washed away as my focus was on the immense raw beauty surrounding me.
I will merely just share my photos and videos and hope they might provide 10% of the experience of actually being there, standing, mouth agape, looking at this gem of the natural world.
the breadth of Iguazu falls from a side angle
the breadth of the falls from a side angle
plenty of butterflies in Iguazu #88
If this butterfly were a Pro athelete-
what sport and position would he play?
a view of the water as it pours over the cliff
a view of the water as it pours over the cliff
coatimundis
the South American raccoon- the coatimundi
a girl gazes at Devil's Throat, Iguazu
a girl gazes at Devil's Throat, Iguazu
Iguazu Falls
just a tiny part of the falls
plummeting water- Iguazu Falls
water falling down into the mist. I am literally standing right atop the edge

video: from the top of Iguazu
this area is over like 2 miles wide- a giant river flowing to create the falls


the "Gran Aventura" boat ride
nosey coatimundi
nosey coatimundi
toucan of Iguaza Jungle
best shot of toucan I got- what BEAUTIFUl birds
Iguazu falls- a view from the top
a view from the top, 300 feet to the bottom
a jungle view of the width and breadth of Iguazu
a jungle view of the width and breadth of Iguazu


the Iguazu jungle- a few km from the falls
the Iguazu jungle- a few km from the falls
sheer power, size, width- Iguazu is a woman's dream
sheer power, size, width- Iguazu is a woman's dream
the Devil's Falls roundabout
the Devil's Falls roundabout
some view huh? @ Iguazucascading falls of Iguazu- opposite sides



absolutely spellbinding, is it not?




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shaken Down by the Corrupt Mayor in Iguazu

A small airport in the middle of a jungle on the Brazilian/Argentinian border. I jump on a mini-bus with other tourists to bring me to the town of Puerto Iguazu. Just outside of the city a roadblock is set-up. We come to a halt, and a young, semi-attractive woman hops into the van and demands a 20 peso ($1.50) "tax" be collected to "improve the roads."
There is a grumbling on the bus, I think all of us intuitively knew we were merely being shaken down. I briefly consider refusing, but the idea of standing up for what was right versus the small amount of money saved, was outweighed by the strategically placed police officers lounging around outside. Drawing the ire of "law enforcement" in rural areas of the world just isn't a recipe for a fun travel experience. 
But there is no way this is legal, right? Certainly they made the amount per person small for strategic reasons, it's easier merely to go along with it. For sure if it had been $20 there would be far many more objections, me amongst them. 
I arrive at my AirBnb in this humid, tropical town and relate the events to my host, who merely laughs, insuring me that it was a recent invention by the mayor, completely illegal in the eyes of Argentinian law, and that almost all the money collected ends in the mayor's pockets, although some does trickle down- to his mistresses. 
The surest way to get wealthy in Argentina (and all of South America) get a political post with influence. The roads won't be any better next time I visit. 
Devil's Throat
Devil's Throat @ Iguazu- what everyone comes to see