“Too Hot To Handle” – The Untold Modeling and Cooking Story

As I sat in the lukewarm swivel chair getting makeup applied for what I believe to be the first time in my life, the owners of the clothing company walked into the previously inviting fluorescent lit room. (In Spanish, unbeknownst to my ability to roughly translate) “Do you think his hair is too long? I don’t think this is going to work, this isn’t what the photos looked like.” “No it’ll be fine,” said the other, “I think the (dirty) outdoorsy look will play really well.” 

For everyone who asked me why I was in Santiago for so long, I have not been entirely forethcoming. While I love Santiago and what not, if it wasn’t for some exciting sexy employment I don’t think I would have stayed so long. Thanks to a connection from fellow handsome man and recently funemployed bud, Colin Twohig, I was picked up by VIP Modeling Agency in Santiago. Devilishly goodlooking Colin had made the acquantiance of this agency a few years ago when he was wandering Chile and connected us via email a while back after I told him I was thinking about coming down here. I have quietly done some casual gigs in the past for outdoor companies including Mountain Hardwear and Mizu so i guess it wasn’t my first rodeo. Pics or it isn’t real… 

Mizu – Always Moving

Necessary shout out to life long friend Zach Alexander for starting it all with MHWand homie for life Carolyn Wegner for being my partner in crime in front of the camera! 

No backpacking trip would be complete without selling your body in some way or another, so I said fuck it and reached out once I got to Santiago. I guess they liked what they saw because I got signed on. Perfect for my current situation, aka hygiene, an outdoor clothing company called Hi Tec picked me up. What happened next was the full D Zoolander, Hanz and even Franz experience! Indoor studios, outdoor adventures, makeup, lights cameras, action, fake snow BOOM. International model life baby! Pow, kabaam, kickin ass and autographing babies. ​I can literally say I have left my mark on Santiago. They will be reminded of me every time they decide to shop at a few specific retail outlets. I will be memorialized, at least until the new seasonal line comes out. Speaking of which I seem to have a knack for winter gear, i.e. lots of clothes. I guess they just can’t handle what’s underneath the multiple layers of goose down. 

Anyway, maybe I’ll share the final product eventually, but for now here’s some behind the scenes. SUPER EXCLUSIVE LOOKS RIGHT HERE

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My agent Fernanda is every models dream. Awake and afraid in the middle of the night? Call Fern. Need directions? Call Fern! Can decide what to make for dinner? Fern! Where’s that other sock? Ferrrnnnnn Existential crisis? Oh hey Fern! What condiment to chose? Ferns got ya. Who’s my favorite agent? Fern is! We were an unstoppable duo and I knew Santiago was where I needed to be. 

I cannot lie, it was pretty friggin fun getting this work. The people in the outdoor industry are great, so you’re not at risk of working with shitty people. I think depending on the brand, you could have a miserable time. People there couldn’t wrap their heads around why I was there. How some dude fresh off the trails ended up in the studio. It was equally strange to me, so I didn’t really have a good answer. Through all of this, I was getting paid, so that’s nice too. Made some true friends and have an open door policy if/when I return. 

Do I feel like I deviated from the purpose of my trip? Not at all. I’m not on a quest to find myself, just trying to have as many awesome and different experiences. Plus I gotta hustle and model life is lucrative. But model life only goes so far and I needed to fill the remaining time chillin in Santiago. So I cooked, and cooked a lot. But before I digress into how dope the empanadas I made were, I want to elaborate on a special someone I mentioned earlier. 

A special and heartfelt shoutout to ma dude Colin Twohig for recently embarking on the first stage of his own world walk about, moving home. Pre first stage was quitting his equally awesome job. While we are friends first and foremost, Colin was also my work wifey. Colin is physically packing, tanning and trimming his bod along with mentally planning and prepping right now for a one way flight to Bali come early July. Colin, a fiery lad not just in personality, but also hair color, is chasing waves out in Bali and Australia before hopefully rendevouzing back in Santiago next year to become … Los Gringos Guapos where we will take Chile by storm as the dynamic Californian modeling duo! The dream is alive as of now. Colin has a taste for adventure and kidney killers and is sure to have an adventure worth following. I wish our trips lined up sooner, but everyone’s got their path. Love you dude and can’t wait to see where you go. 

So as I was saying, model life isn’t everything. While it pays the bills, I needed some more thrills. So #blessed to have a free spot to stay this whole time in Santiago, one of the best ways I could give back was packing the apartment with fresh smells and a fridge full of delish eats. My days consisted of waking up, breakie, maybe a lil reading of Spanish “The Little Prince,” aka “El Principito,” checking in with Fern dawg, picking what to make for dinner, run or climbing gym, hitting up the massive open produce market called La Vega, then returning home and cooking for a few hours. Throw in ransoms coffee shops, hanging with Chilean, Spanish and Gringo friends midday and midnight, dance parties and that was my life. Empanadas were frequent and flavorful. Soups including Brazilian black bean and season squash. Breads were of the banana variety. Plus much more including the dangerous pisco sour and eggs benny combo – made possible by the sours need for egg whites and the bennys need for yolk. 

I want to elaborate on La Vega because it’s the dopest place in Santiago. A double costco size open air produce market where the people of the country come to sell produce and other goods everyday. They essentially cut out the middle man so everything is super cheap. It’s located right in the heart of town and is filled with tasty eye candy if you’re into food. It’s where you go if you want to stay in touch with the real people of Santiago. 

It was super nice to have the time and space to continue my cooking experience from Argentina. There’s nothing better than having the time to cook a full meal for friends and family. It’s a shame that full time jobs make this near impossible. Maybe I’ll have to put off full time work for a bit longer while I master the kitchen. There’s something magical about cooking, music, and a cup of wine. Also, I really don’t like cutting garlic and brussel sprouts. I can live with onions but it doesn’t mean I love it. Currently day dreaming about opening some hip restaurant in SF serving Argentinian asado, empanadas and a side of whatever the hipsters like most. 

With about 6 weeks spent in Santiago, given a few different days and weeks in other spots like Rapa Nui, I can say I feel like I got to know the city and make a foreign home. I really like it there, so much that a possible move back is seemed all too likely. If not now when I guess. I am moving North where I will hopefully be able to finagle a Visa to Bolivia. 

Peace and Love y’all. 

Lomo del Torro! (The Easter Island Experience)

I am back in Santiago in the midst of a two-week nonstop experimental cooking, market exploring, smoggy air running, climbing gym chillin, night life going, new friend making sort of vacay in an attempt to get to know Santiago more in depth and furthermore convince myself that leaving Easter Island was not the dumbest decision of my life. During this time I am the luckiest dude because I get to stay with old sport James Woeller. I promised James a shoutout because he would like to get insta-social media-blogger-world famous. So for all the famous people reading this, he’s your man. Clearly it wasn’t me as you’ve been sitting idly by as I practically beg for your attention. 

In all seriousness getting to stay in a spare bedroom for these two weeks has been heaven sent. The highlights only begin with a clean shower, laundry, kitchen and knowledge of the past tenants of your bed. Or so I think… But for real, James is pretty much totes the nicest, greatest dude for hooking me up with this accommodation! Also he’s Canadian, so even if he didn’t want me here, he wouldn’t be able to tell me so. Sorry for all my hosts in the future, because James has redefined the standards of playing host. I hope coming home to the smells of  me attempting to learn South American cuisine have been the highlight of your life. I’m pretty much a dream ‘stay at home’ spouse. All I ask is for a full-hearted response when I ask how your day was. If you’re not careful bud, you’re gonna lose me one of these days.

But let’s get to the point and stop tooting James’s horn, HELLOOO. I want to talk about my week in paradise on Easter Island (in Easter Island?). You know the island with the massive stone heads that look like this?

Easter Island, aka Rapa Nui, aka Isla de Pascua, is a roughly 20 some mile circumference sized island located in the middle of the Pacific. It is a territory of Chile, because at one point when countries were staking claim to dots on the map, Chile showed up and said “This shit is ours.” That’s imperialism for you. The history of the island is a bit more complex. I am going to attemp to paraphrase a mixture of Jared Diamond and some locals explanation of what went down on Rapa Nui. Let’s be real though, there was some serious alien involvement in those massive heads there, so who really knows what the fuck went down. Anyway, at some point in history, early days post Christ, an island ruler was under pressure to find a new island to rule, because his was running out of resources. So he did what any smart man would do, he sent 15 warriors out in boats in different directions into the Pacific Ocean. 1 of these 15 scallywags found what is now Easter Island. Fast forward a number of years and what do you do on a small isolated island like this, besides build massive heads, or Moai, out of volcanic rock. Whichever tribe builds the biggest head wins. It’s clearly a game of a literal oversized egos. 

Unfortunately for these tribes and island, it requires an enourmous amount of resources to build and transport them, not to mention an extraordinary amount of slaves. Who by the way, totally loved carving these fuckers. Especially the party when they put multi-ton hats on top of them at the end just for show. (This is the alien part, because no one really knows how they got the hats on them. My theory is lots of time, energy and slaves.) Once it became clear that building these heads brought no real benefit and the island was running out of resources – trees, food and such – war ensued amongst the tribes and slaves began rebelling. The island population was rapidly decimated from about 10,000 to just over 100. These 100 learned from their ancestors mistakes and haunted construction of the Moai. Instead they briefly continued another traditions such as the Birdman Competion. The annual Birdman Comp is a mighty display of Rapa Nui men’s strength in which a man from each tribe hikes to the top of the local volcano, climbs down the 300 m cliff, swims a mile or so, swims back, climbs back up, and then waits in these awesome looking shelters for the first seagullish bird to land on the island and lay the first egg. The man who gets the egg first, becomes the leader of the island, and his family’s emblem is emblazoned on a big rock.

Please note, all of this is a lose reconstruction of the history and I am almost certainly fumbling it a bit. Real respect is due to the Rapa Nuins. They are a beautiful people with a rich history and pride for their culture. The way I would describe Easter Island is like Hawaii, but with something very mysterious in the air. If you haven’t been to Hawaii, then picture a tiny tropical, mysterious island in the middle of the Pacific, with extra-mysterious stone heads scattered throughout amongst the rocky coasts and volcanic hills.

So as described in the last post, Nicolette and I fortuitously ended up with plane tickets to Rapa Nui after a series of unfortunate events. Nicolette arrived on Saturday and I arrived on Monday night. Late Monday night, because our flight was delayed due to fire fighter strikes in Haiti, the final destination of my plane. But that plane could’ve been delayed as long as they wanted because I was chillin VIP thanks to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and it’s access to airport lounges. I was in open bar chicken nuggets heaven for about 4 hours, with solid wifi and an opportunity to catch up with friends back home. 

Finally touched down in Rapa Nui around 2am, after a 5-hour flight consisting of Hacksaw Ridge, 20th Century Women (great film, totally misjudged the title, sorry) and a meal I was too full to eat, I was greeted by Nicolette and a cold Escudo brew. We strolled through the warm humid night to a hostel located in what appeared to be the middle of the jungle. Sleep came amidst the sounds of roosters that never got the memo that they were only supposed to roost at dawn. We woke the next morning and made a non-tropical breakfast of the usual, oatmeal and French pressed coffee. My mobile French press coffee is my most prized possession. If I ever get robbed, please take my phone, wallet and passport, but for gods sake, leave the press!!

Next we located the campsite I had heard about, packed up our gear and moved locations. All of this was done in shorts and a t-shirt, the first time since New Zealand I could truly wear shorts in comfort. Island Life Brah. The campsite was this little plot of fenced in land next to an oceanside cliff. There was a small bathroom with solar hot water showers and a little hut for cooking. It was freakin purrrfect. This island itself has one small town called Hanga Roa when you can get pretty much anything you might need, which really isn’t much. I did all my food shopping on the mainland because everything is quite expensive on the island. My budget was solely for tropical beverages.

I would be hard pressed to detail each day, aside from two specific days. Also the moment when Nicolette road off on a big jet plane, miss ya friend!! The trip was a blur of waking up to the sound of the ocean, sunny breakfasts, island hiking and exploring, ocean swimming, sunset watching, stargazing and late guitar filled nights with fellow campers.

The first highlight day was one of the raddest days of the whole trip. Nicolette and I attained a couple of hogs, aka scooters, for a full day of adventure. There is one main road that loops the island, which can be completed in about 1.5 hours. But along the way are heaps of notable Moai sites and remote chill spots. We packed our hogs with high spirits and salami sandys ready for a day of thrills and chills. Topping out at around 60 kmh, this was not for the faint of hearts. Some real Top Gun stuff.​​​​

We hit all the spots, but not without a few gnarly spills and close calls either. Someone was a little cocky after a couple Scoot seshes back home in SF I guess. No pain, no gain though, scoot lyfe! The final site was a set of Moai located on the kind of beach you’d expect to find on a tiny tropical island. Perfect location for some much needed tanning of my Victorian era complexion. We returned to Hanga Roa along 18 km of unreal rolling, tropical, warm, sun setting pavement. We rolled right into a set of hammocks to watch the grand crescendo of the sun melting into the expansive Pacific. After roaring back into the campsite, announcing the presence of a couple of badasses, we parking the hogs and located the perfect spot for a final ceviche meal and Nicolette sendoff. Sun spent and dazed from the danger zone, we crawled into our respective tents soon after to the soundtrack of crashing salty water. It ’twas the dopest of dope days.

The other notable day was my last day. Having spent most of my Island budget on scooters and pina coladas at this point, I was left to walk or hitchhike my way around the island. I linked up with a new pair of French swashbucklers that morning who were also seeking the safe haven of that forementioned white sand beach. We set off from the campsite around 11 am towards the main road. Along the way we stopped for a classic Chilean pino empanada. Immediately after we stumbled upon a small parade which seemed to be showing off the small, yet mighty military prowess of the island. It also featured an classic dance routine of the island natives, punctuated by the women in palm skirts dragging clearly uncomfortable fully dressed soldiers to awkwardly dance. 
We caught our first ride in the back of a pick up for a mere 3 min, but as we hopped out, another pickup following us offered a ride. Our second pickup truck was driven by two women, a mother and daughter, (technically only the daughter was driving) who were showing two of their cabana guests around the island. I quote in Spanish to English translation, “we were all too handsome to leave on the side of the road.”​

The deal was, we had to go along for the ride while they stopped at the two famous Moai sites. Because we had already been in the sites, the national park pass only allows you in the big sites once to manage traffic, we stayed outside and chatted it up with our new guides. They were a mother daughter duo originally from Chile who run a set of cabanas on the island. The nicest and funniest people on the island! 
Back of pickup truck is definitely the best way to travel in Rapa Nui. Our phrase of the day was “Lomo del Toro,” or back of the bull, which is used to describe Spanish hilly or windy roads. LOMO DEL TORRO!! We spent the late afternoon at the beach and cherishing the likely last remaining warm beach, water and sun of my trip. We picked up another set of local hitchhikers for the glorious last 18 km stretch. I think they were offering us a hallucinagenic trip for that evening, but I’m not quite sure. To put the proverbial cherry on top of the day, our guides, Maria and Mother, offered to make us dinner. We spent the evening with fresh food, boxed wine and awesome company. 

This kind of hospitality seems to happen too often on this trip. Too often being more than zero. I’m traveling, having the trip of my life, so I feel kinda guilty getting anything at all from people. Each time is equally undeserved and beyond appreciated. With that said, it goes a long ways in making this trip last longer and filling it with memories. I will undoubtably return the favors whenever possible. Not because I necessarily feel like I will directly owe anyone anything, but because it’s awesome to be a part of someone else’s adventure. 

I would like to end with a couple haikus to summarize one of the best weeks ever on/in Rapa Nui. 

Cous cous with tuna

Oh how delicious you are

Until the next day


Cous cous I love you

What I just said is not true 

Sorry but it fit


Please forgive me cous

You are the best camping meal

Pairs well with cheap wine


No, you are not cheap

You know that’s not what I meant

Please come back to plate 


Ugh, so sensitive

You’re not even healthy

Just tiny pasta 

.

Cous cous and I have since made up. Just going through a rough patch. Seriously I thought it was a grain though. Wtf.

Snoochies,

Joe

More pics!

Earth, Wind and Fired

For any future employers reading this, I feel the need to clarify that I was not in fact fired, but left on my own accord under the best terms possible. In fact the entire company pleaded that I not leave, even going so far as to offer naming the company in my name. For anyone at said company, just go with it.

I have no intentions for this blog, other than to chirp in along this adventure here and there when inspiration strikes, or I’m so bored that I feel the need to publish my thoughts. I can’t guarantee anything interesting, nor rule out the occasional pedantic rant when I’ve had too much time to think. I will try to be genuine, although I’m sure I will look back on this in 5 years asking ‘what the fuck was I talking about?’ There will be no rundowns on what I ate for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or how many bowel movements I had on a given day. Unless it is of particular interest to share. For the record, today was: awesome pancakes my host made for me, a ham and cheese croissant, rice and veggies, and 2. 

Why am I traveling? Because it’s about god damn time. Recent weeks of back pain from poor posture at my desk only reaffirmed this intention. A coworker of mine always had a picture of a man sitting with proper posture as his background. I think everyone should do this. It’s impossible to see that and not correct yourself. Unfortunately this was my background:

The general motivation is that I’ve worked as long as I could, and now need to take some time for adventure. I’m throwing caution in the wind – sorta. I’m quite fortunate to have a soft landing pad at home in the east bay and a college degree if I piss away all my cash and end up on my ass at some point. So here’s to taking advantage of what I’m so lucky to have. Also here’s all the gear I have, that somehow got stuffed into a single pack. 

The general intention is to spend about a month backpacking around Australia and New Zealand – mostly New Zealand, then head to South America for about 4-5 months before finding a job down there or returning home. I likely need to reassess spending if I will make it that far. Turns out Australia and New Zealand seriously ain’t cheap! Why am I going to these places? Because some cool older cats did it back in the day and I’ve had my heart set on it ever since. Also 180 Degrees South. It recently occurred to me that I’m chasing winter… you dummy!

Tonight is my first night in a hostel thanks to some seriously generous friends of friends. Like this gal Caitlin Platt with some rad art to peep at http://caitlinplatt.wixsite.com/caitlinplatt 

 

At this sweet spot here outside of Christchurch: 

I cannot thank y’all enough! I’m so fortunate to have amazing friends. Because if they weren’t so friggin awesome, these friends of theirs wouldn’t have taken me into their home. My network around the world is so much broader than I ever knew. Love y’all. I hope I can return the favor. I find myself over a week in and somehow in Wanaka, New Zealand gearing up for a 4 day tramp in the mountains. 

UPDATE: I didn’t post this before we left. We survived. Here’s a sneak peak: 


K byyyeeee