“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


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. 


Quick Gut Check

Hi Cutie 😘

I want to begin this post with a quote by me, “there is no greater instantaneous satisfaction in life than eating a cold pickle straight from the jar.” 

May the rest of my sole relatively serious post serve as a medium for crohns awareness, not letting barriers inhibit you from chasing dreams and a not so subtle plea to our congressional leaders to stop fucking us and our nations health care system. 

My preface is that I am super fortunate to be able to write this. I have been healthy for a long time and this is a hinderance, but not an imovable wall. Some circumstances are too severe to overcome and there are not always paths to do exactly what you want. Life isn’t always fair and sometimes you just get screwed, without a greater purpose. Regardless, life goes on. To all the fighters out there, fight on. 

Diagnosed as a young lad at the ripe age of 15, I was faced with a number of questions like, what the fuck is crohns? Why the fuck do I have it? And could I have gotten a more awkward disease? Fortunately at my no longer ripe age of 26 and 5/6ths, I no longer feel so strongly about answering any of those questions, nor am phased by the stigma of an irritable bowel disease (IBD). For some background on what Crohns is – it is in the family of irritable bowel diseases and can affect any to all of the digestive track causing all the symptoms you can guess would be associated with that part of the body. After going through all the shitty (pun intended) tests, to finally determine I had the disease, I began a presicriptive drug treatment that I remain on today. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to remain stable and relatively asymptotic. Yet I will always have Crohns, a pre-existing condition with a looming threat of my circumstances changing any day. Not to mention I am viewed as an expensive liability to insurance companies regardless of my past. In a system where insurance companies rely on healthy youth to pay for our sick elders, I break the algorithms. 

Being outside the age range in which I could be covered by my folks, and without employee benefits, traveling abroad for an extended period of time under our former health care system seemed nearly impossible to do without high costs and high risks. Because I take a prescription everyday, I don’t have a choice but to remain covered if I want to gain access to the drugs I need. The ones I don’t are available sans prescription on the bridge to Bella Vista in Santiago… I mean what? The problem lies with being labeled as a pre-existing condition and insurance companies being allowed to reject me based on this. 

Now you may be saying “well so what? That just means you have to work and don’t get to travel like a hippy bum!” So I happen to strongly believe that everyone should be entitled to the same opportunities in the pursuit of happiness regardless of health or socioeconomic background. Furthermore, while my struggle is to find a means to travel outside of the states, what about those who find themselves out of work for any other reason and cannot afford quality healthcare. Those who may not be offered quality healthcare and cannot afford otherwise. I am a white dude from a relatively affluent family, and this is hard for me. I pretty much lack any socioeconomic disadvantages in life and this is still difficult to navigate. Imagine being on the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum AND being diagnosed with Crohns. Crohnies, cancer survivors, diabetes, whatever – your access to quality health care should not be denied based on something out of your control. Premium costs and eligibility should not be affected by a pre existing condition. Health care is a human right and should never stand in the way of personal progress. Wealth can isolate one from having to worry about this, but it is our duty to ensure that greed does not stand in the way of creating an equitable society. 

Anyway, thanks to ma dude Obama, we made some progress a few years ago under the affordable care act. Because of the ACÁ I am able to apply for affordable health coverage on Covered CA and am free to pursue what I chose without the confines of a full-time job that offers health benefits. The ACA is imperfect but a step towards socioeconomic equality. I plea to our leaders to not take steps away from an equitable society in the name of tax breaks for the 1%. 

I don’t know if I explained this very well, but to summarize without ACA I have to remain gainfully employed to avoid being denied by insurance companies or risk being priced out. Without ACA if I was to lose my job and become sick, I could not afford to pay for my medical bills. Without ACA I could not do this trip, albeit a luxury I agree, but the best decision I have ever made. 

With the ACA, love u Barack, I can. I have coverage and can get my meds, consult my doc and not fear from getting sick while abroad or backhome and not be able to see my doctor. 

To do this I also enlisted the help of great friend/drug mule Nicolette to being a resupply on her visit. Love you chica! Everything else required was just navigating the Covered CA webpage, not without its headaches along the way, and coordinating with docs. I have been dropped twice from Covered CA for no apparent reasons and thus have had some late nights brainstorming how to navigate the spiderweb that is our health care system. Owe huge thanks to my dad for being my messenger when I cannot call back home. Additional thanks to Kyle Valenzuela for being a partner in crime in figuring out how to be covered while abroad. It’s not always easy, but I never had a choice. 

Now I just have to worry about shitty water and montezumas revenge. I have to be a bit smarter than my peers about partying, lack of sleeping and healthy foods, but otherwise can travel in normal circumstances. 

Once again, I’m a lucky dude on a ridiculous trip. While things are a bit more conplicated and risk can loom, I am just grateful to have the opportunity. Plus, maybe a little extra risk pushes you to be a bit more, how you say, YOLO. 

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.



More pics!

This One’s For You Goose!

Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the friendships in our life. Deep breath, I promise the introspection will only be momentary. The friends who you’ve know your whole life. The silly Frenchman who you became best friends with instantly. The friend who flies down to Chile to adventure together. The friend who is the wisest person you know … 

The friend who is an awesome host and lets you crash at their spot in Santiago. Thanks dude! The friends you probably didn’t ever expect to see again until you are reunited in South America. The friends who text to much in group texts. And of course, the friends who just coincidentally have the same butt tattoo. 

Each brings something unique to the table, that otherwise wouldn’t be there. A quote from Into The Wild frequently pops in my head when traveling solo “Happiness is only real when shared.” Now I’m not getting all soft, but it is often true. 

Ive been a bit preachy on solo adventure, so now let’s reflect on the pros of travel companions. 

  1. When you think of something funny but can’t share it with the people around you, so instead you awkwardly laugh to yourself
  2. Having someone to patiently wait for you while you “try” all the ice cream flavors. You’re welcome Frenchies
  3. Not being alone at 8am in a bus terminal when your bus is cancelled and you haven’t slept 
  4. Scooter buds on a remote island
  5. Singing partners for Ja Rule while cooking
  6. Not having to ask strangers to take touristy photos
  7. Frenchies to make dinner on alternating evenings while the Americans poo poo on their cooking
  8. People who have soap you can borrow
  9. Not feeling as bad when the bunk bed creaks because you know the person below you
  10. Not feeling as bad when you throw a pillow at someone snoring, because you know them
  11. Coffee dates
  12. Drink dates
  13. Dinner dates
  14. Dance partners
  15. Cheaper entry because you’re in a group
  16. Someone to eat late night food with and support poor decisions
  17. Someone who makes poorer decions than you and makes you feel better
  18. Feeling comfortable in silence when speaking is just too much effort
  19. Chess adversaries
  20. Someone to bring you toilet paper in your most vulnerable moments 
  21. In general just having people to share everything awesome that happens everyday

Upon arrival to Santiago I was #blessed to have not just any travel companions, but the dopest/illest travel companions possible. Squad name is “So Close,” for so many reasons you’ll have to ask me about another time. The team was as followed:


A man I have already given too damn much praise to. So I will give him no more and only complain about how indecisive the French can be, how crap of a chess player he is and how is cooking is garbage. Unfortunately all of that is untrue, except for the indecision. Obviously when you’re traveling your always pressed for time, so every moment of indecision counts. 

After a week in Buenos Aires together, manouel and I were ripped apart like twins separated at birth for over a month. Fate put us back in loving arms in Santiago after he travelled with fam and I went down to Patagonia. Our day of reunitition when spent in parks of Santiago, under perfect weather conditions for chess. He won. 

The second Frenchie of this Motley Crue is no other than… Mathieu

Mathieu, taking a lengthy work sabbatical to bike South America is clearly the better half of the croissant couple. He hails from Paris and grew up with Manouel. Like most people on the road, he was fed up with his work-life balance and sought a more laissez-faire lifestyle. He is appreciatiave of street art and a great running companion in the hills of Valparaiso. Mathieu arrived in Santiago on a fair tempered Friday afternoon ready for anything. His chess abilities far exceed that of Manouel and I, and he was humble yet unrelenting in demonstrating this. A man with a quick knife in the kitchen and a quicker wit on the street, he was an essential component of So Close. 

The last and pretty much most important member of So Close is the one an only Nicolette

Nicolette, former colleague, lasagna extraordinaire and first and foremost friend, came down to South America on a vacation from the greatest company on the planet, stok. On a two week vacay, she was here for “a good time, not a long time.” She arrived with clear eyes, full hearts and definitely not ready to lose. In reality it was red eyes after a long day of flying, a full single heart and not hearts, but definitely not ready to lose! The main objective of her two weeks was to live the South America life and pack as much adventure into two weeks. My main objective was to make sure she didn’t quit and went back to SF because her bosses would not have forgiven me. My secret objective was to actually convince her to quit and live the dream. Nicolette is the funny bone and liver of So Close, with her incessant upbeat attitude and ability to process whatever challenges we may face. 

Together we became So Close

I meant to just add the group pic, but we’ll leave Ricky Martin impersonator as well. 

Together we set off on a week of ruckus beginning in Santiago. Energy was high on the Friday our two new amigos arrived. After strolls through town to get the foreigners adjusted, we embarked on a weekend of non stop fun. Myself after a month in the wildnerness of Patagonia was equally ready for some city thrills. During the day we roamed the city streets and our evening stomping ground was the notorious Bella Vista. Fortunate to have these friends, because Bella Vista is not for the faint or solo travelers.

The highlights of the evenings was probably the first at Chocolate, a place we might as well be regulars at. If you want to go someplace you are guaranteed to get your dance on, go there. You will be joined by Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias. The highlight of the days in Santiago was definitely our first sat in which we spent 4-5 hours in a 3 block radius. We were self described not feeling very smart that day, and we’re up for any self indulgence. Time was passed with ice cream, art stands, bookstores, waffle sandwiches and slacklining. Probably one of the silliest days in recent memory. 

Our home base in Santiago was Hostel Ventana Sur. A quiet but warm little spot in quaint Barrio Italia. Breakfast was breakfast and beds were beds there. But the atmosphere of the people there made it what it was. A perfect place to cook nightly dinners and hang out with fellow travellers. Damn the dog next door though who has an innate ability to bark 24 hours a day. 

Monday brought the end of the weekend and a bus ride to Valparaiso. Valaparaiso is a artsy hip bohemian little coastal town about an hour west of Santiago. There we spent our days roaming the street art covered roads, talking life and admiring the work. 

Our hostel in Valparaiso, Casa Volante, was one of the coolest I’ve stayed in thus far. Decked out in the local artsy flavor, it’s located at the base of one of the hills, and just a few blocks from the water. It is deceivingly big with more people staying there than we were able to meet. Only thing missing was a good spice assortment for cooking, but this proved to be kind of and upside as we were forever to be creative with dinner. Hand ground pepper wasssup Massimo Botura! Also the creakiest beds and floors I have ever seen! 

The company of awesome people there per usual made the place what is was. When you travel for long enough you begin to see the same people everywhere you go. There are only a few routes in South American backpackers take, and at this time of the year everyone is heading north. WINTER IS COMING. this hostel featured a healthy number of rad French folks as well. Mathieu and Manouel were in heaven. Nicolette and I were in a French immersion program. So many French in Chile! Not many Americans… but I like that. I didn’t come here to learn English, nor French for that matter, but I know you’re picking up what I’m putting down. After hours, everyone congregates in an outside veranda for socializing till the wee hours. mon-wed are not big going out nights for Valparaiso, but that just means more space on the dance floor. 

We returned to Santiago after a few days of bohemian chillin. At the point we reach the part of the plot where everything goes wrong before a final resolution. The drama before the climax, the crux of the story where the protagonists feel almost certain defeat. 

Nicolette and I had purchased bus tickets to Mendoza after Valaparaiso. This was going to be a main feature of her trip – wine country cruisin and living the good life. So on our supposed last night with the Frenchies, we went out with a bang, assuming this would be the last we would see of each other. Sleep would come on our 10 hour bus ride to Mendoza through the Andes. Well we underestimated the Andes, for when we arrived at the bus terminal 8 am the next morning we were greeted with an unfortunate truth that the pass through the mountains was closed because of storms. The words that fit this situation are “you’ve got to be kidding me,” “no fucking way,” “wtf,” “shut the front door,” “yea right dude,” “holy hell,” “god must have a plan for us,” “why does he hate us?,” “I’m so tired,” “this isn’t happening,” “I would kill for dennys breakfast right now.” So we found wifi and went into the situation room, aka in front of a McDonalds. Try as we might to find a new destination, there was no where to go. Ultimately it was time to cut our loses and head back to the hostel in which we technically still had a few hours until check out. To make matters worse it was rush hour and impossible to get on trains, let alone with giant backpacks. Alas, we persevered and made it back to Ventana Sur just as breakfast was going. As we were going inside, our true fate hit us like a brick wall of puppies and kittens. We should go to Easter Island! Why not?? High off our newfound purpose in this trip, we tried to find flights. Unfortunately our dreams were crushed by $1000 price tags. Ok, fuck it, let’s just get some sleep and figure it out later. 

After a day of mindlessly wandering Barrio Italia with the sillies, it was time for another nap. As I was waking up from the nap and snuggling with good ol Manouel, just happy to see him again, I decided to give the flights another look. To my half awake surprise the price had dropped to below $350. BUY BUY BUY! Pounding on the bathroom door I notified nicolette that our dreams have come true. There was a reason the bus was cancelled. Now I’m not a god fearing man, but this did feel like fate! With a little finagling, Nicolette also found an itinerary that worked for her. She would head over a few days before me and return a few days before. Boom baby! 

We proceeded to enjoy house money now having a few more days with our homies. More of the same. Including going to a house party hosted by the lovely San Franciscan’s Courtney and Eric, where we learned the greatest game ever! You put an alcohol bottle box in the center of a circle of people. Each person has to attempt to pick it up with just their mouth. If you succeed you rip a piece off, if not, ‘al seco’ or ‘bottoms up!’ This continues until there is either no box or no people. Ours turned into an Olympic showdown with one representative from each country. Nicolette (USA), Mathieu (France), and someone name I’m forgetting (Chile). Well call it a tie between the US and Chile. A very good showing by the viajaros considering how outnumbered we were. As long as France didn’t win everyone was happy.​


​I will leave this off here to focus on Easter Island next time. Friends are just the best aren’t they? Hey, why don’t cha go give a friend a hug or a smooch right now! Snoochies,