Archive for January, 2009

Ignorant Genetics Musings

January 30, 2009

I need to preface this with the massive disclaimer that I know NOTHING about genetics and these ideas are probably already known to be completely wrong and ridiculous — in no way supported by the data. Having said that, I am going to use my remaining eightminutes at a Cusco internet cafe to put some ideas ‘on paper.’

First, what if traits aren’t inherited in a linear Mendellian way, but in a probabilistic fashion? Father has blue blue eye color genes, mother has blue green, thus, children have a 50% chance of blue, 50% of green. Obviously, even with  my limited knowledge of genetics I know cross interactions occur with other genes and the former is a gross oversimplification.  Alternatively, consider a probabilistic approach where there is a spectrum of eye colors, such as white-blue-green-brown-dark. It doesn’t matter what the spectrum is, just that there is one. For my mathy friends, say you have a unit interval of eye colors. What if the genes your parents have are simply akin to a probability distributions mean parameter. You are given two of these ‘means.’ Nature does some type of convolution of the distributions and spits out these parents eye color distribution. It has a mean value that is a function of both the genes they pass on. Say both your parents have blue eyes, their corresponding distribution would likely concentrate most of its mass close to blue. This type of approach would allow for any possible couple to birth children with any possible trait, but would preserve a natural bias towards their traits. This idea is much more well thought out than this, and I will elaborate if anyone is curious. Once again, I know nothing about genetics and am a crackpot.

Second, my biased and insignificant personal observations have led me to believe that it is extremely unlikely that people are born with certain traits and then will pass on traits to their children simply as a result of what they were born with, not affected by their experiences at all. I highly doubt this is the way modern genetics understands inheritance, but I will continue anyways. For example, I think both physical and mental stress affect trait inheritance.

Consider this theoretical experiment. Say you take a few thousand pure-blood Scandinavian twins, who completely look the part. Their ancestors have lived in Scandinavia for thousands of years. Now, take one person from each pairing and move them at birth to Egypt. From each pairing, one twin will live out his life in Egypt and the other in Scandinavia. What will happen when these twins reproduce? Say the groups in both Egypt and Scandinavia have babies with other members of respective groups. Would the babies on average look the same, or would the ones birthed in Egypt be have slightly darker coloring, something more well suited to Egypt. Would changes such as this happen on a noticeable scale after one evolutionary cycle? If so, how is the ‘information’ that the Egyptian parents should bias their traits passed on? Is there a stress related chemical that sits in your body and its levels during intercourse affect inheritance?

Times up.

Four Cities in Four Days?

January 30, 2009

I spent a whirlwind six hours exploring Copacabana. The city is tiny, so it really doesn’t take more than an hour or two to walk the main streets and peruse the street vendor’s merchandise — mainly llama products. The main draws of Copacabana are its surreal setting on the edge of the ‘highest navigable lake in the world,’ Lake Titicaca, and the access it provides to some allegedly incredible islands a couple dozen kilometers off the coast, some housing Inca ruins. The best thing about Copacabana for me was the troucha — there is a massive trout species that is indigenous to Titicaca. There is an otherworldly cemetery atop a hill that abruptly rises out of Titicaca. I climbed it in the morning and was truly taken aback by the view. Copacabana is such a small city that when you travel with my stamina, you can do most of its primary attractions twice:  I ate fried troucha for both lunch and dinner, and climbed to the top of the cemetery before each meal. Freestyling it the second time up its rocky face.

If I weren’t already such a hardened bus goer, I would have had another unpleasant bus experience last night. I will save you all the trouble and simply say that my bus left at 18:00 and arrived in Cusco at the rather unpleasant time of 4:30. On top of that, we switched buses three times. Basically, sleeping was difficult. I already had a hostel reservation for tonight, so I didn’t want to pay the 3 or 4 dollars for another night, so I waited for the sun to rise and caught two hours of sleep on the  floor of three Argentine’s hostel room.

However, I did have a memorable exchange with the old Aymara lady sitting next to me. Like all good Aymara, she was wearing a beautiful skirt, with many, many layers of shawls around her upper body and a bowling hat atop her head. She was a bit like Merry Poppins and kept amazing me with the things she would pull out of her layers of cloth. I was sitting next to her, about to close my eyes and she pulled out an entire loaf of bread. A few minutes later,  a bag of fried chicken. She followed it up with a bag of juice. Being a modern Aymara, she also had a cellphone and radio. She was a very friendly lady with an amazing smile, and I couldn’t resist striking a conversation with her, using my broken Spanish of course. I went with a pretty standard conversation started and realized how stupid it was right after it popped out of my mouth. I asked her if she was from Bolivia or Peru — a ridiculous question to ask an Aymara. She giggled and told me she was from the Altiplano. There is no distinction to the Aymara, arbitrary borders are remnants of a Colonial past. She is a member of the people who have lived in the high plains of the Andes for thousands of years. Unique.

Cusco has charming colonial architecture and a stunning setting in an Andean valley, but it is a complete tourist trap. I haven’t learned anything about modern Peru in this city. Frankly, I could follow in the shadows of every other tourist in this city and make it to the top of Machu Pichu, blowing a couple hundred bucks in the process. However, I would rather take the road less traveled and let that money take me to a completely new country or two.

I walked around all day and don’t feel like there is much more for me to see in Cusco proper. I am catching a bus to Lima in the morning. I love big cities and that is what my trip is all about. I love walking around markets, malls and city centers, watching the people and trying to take the pulse of their economy. I feel like I have been pretty successful thus far at doing this.

Also, I can’t forget my obsession with food. I try as much as I possibly can. Today, I had incredible ceviche in a local market, for about $1.50 and followed it up with a very light fish head soup. I also had a tomale and bought one of each of the new nuts and berries that were available to me. Horizons are being expanded.

I am thinking I will spend two days in Lima, and then try to catch a flight to Cartagena, Colombia. From there, I want to fulfill a fantasy and hitchhike the Darien Gap via sailboat. I’ll spend about two weeks in central America before my 2.5 day, end of February, respite at home.

Itinerary Update

January 29, 2009

I busted through Santa Cruz and made it to La Paz. La Paz is one of the most compelling cities I have visited. I will probably make it back here some day. I am on the worst computer in Bolivia — which says a lot. It has taken me 10 minutes to type this.

I am heading to Copacabana, Bolivia on the edge of lake Titicaca in an hour. Onto Cuzco from there.

Bolivian Buses = Memories

January 27, 2009

I knew there was a high delta that I would run into problems when I decided to bus from Asunción, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. When purchasing my ticket, I did my best to make sure I would have a decent bus. I asked two different attendants to list the included amenities. They both told me it would be a cama bus, with aire acondiciado and two meals. My prior doubts were confirmed when my skimpy old bus pulled into the terminal lacking air conditioning and having seats that barely budged — let alone fully reclined into beds. In all honesty, this is what I expected and I shrugged it off over a good laugh with a Dutch kid who was also about to shove-off on this memorable adventure.

Our bus had a great atmosphere and was, luckily, less than half full. There were four professional soccer players, a Brazilian couple, the Dutch kid and a few other stragglers. The footballers brought a bunch of beers and were content to party away the first few hours of the tour. It was enjoyable. We made our way through a beautiful Chaco night — with innumerable stars illuminating the unique shrubbery. I tested a few sleeping positions and retired for a couple hours at a time, until my extremities were devoid of blood and I had to find a new posture.

We arrived at the Paraguayan exit location at 3:00, and hundreds of kilometers inside the Paraguayan border. It was surreal pulling to a halt at such an odd hour, and long before expected. We paraded out into the darkness and knocked on the door of the attendant’s shack. We woke him from his slumber, got our passports stamped, and resumed our journey.

We arrived at the Bolivian border at 7:30. Our drivers got out and curiously conversed with the Bolivian military guards stationed there for about 15 minutes, before taking up a comfortable position under a tree. They didn’t give us any information and told us to wait on the bus. They got back on board at 9:00 and told us we were going to make our way to the Migration office, 60 kilometers further into the country, but that there might be a problem.

We made it to the migrations office and were told we wouldn’t be permitted to enter the country until 18:00, (19:00 in Asunción). This was a result of the very important constitutional referendum being held. The military was worried that there might be riots, or possibly even a coup. We were in a tiny little shanty village of about 15 buildings and a military training facility. It was dusty and was already over 90 degrees at 9:30. We had nowhere near enough food or water. The nearest town in Paraguay was hundreds of kilometers behind us, and we had learned the night before that the air conditioning on our bus didn’t work. I had a very emotional couple of minutes.

After a few minutes of banter between passengers, people started to accept the situation and think about how to pass the time. I spent the next couple hours learning the simple Brazilian card game Truco with the Brazilian couple and Dutch kid.

The bus cheered for joy when the lady who ran the minuscule village restaurant said she was preparing a free lunch for us. She slaughtered a few lambs and made a dish of rice, lamb chops, potatoes and onions. It was delicious and certainly beat the warm chocolate milk and wafers we were stranded with on the bus.

This little town lit on fire, and the temperature exceeded 42 degrees Celsius, somewhere near 110 degrees Fahrenheit. We were dangerously lacking water, and all they had in the town was soda and extremely grimy water from a bug infested water tower. Despite my thirst, I respected my American-style lack of immunities and refrained from drinking this water — but a couple hours more and I would have given in.

Now, to provide context, I am going to backtrack a bit. I had a nightmarish time obtaining a Bolivian visa. I went to the Bolivian Embassy/Consulate eight different times in three different countries over a three week period. Every time I showed up, they told me I would be able to pick up my visa the NEXT time I arrived. Every time, either they were out of paperwork, the consulda wasn’t present, the fax machine was broken, etc… I wasn’t able to obtain an actual visa because of these fax machine issues in Asunción, but I did have an official document saying I had completed all the steps and was to be given a visa upon first appearance in Bolivia, signed and stamped by the Consulada, with phone advances.

When the migrations offices was finally opened 30 minutes late, I was given mountains of paperwork I had already completed and told to get to work. I filled them out and walked into the office. I showed my documentation to the clerk, paid my absurd $135 visa fee, and was successfully passed off to the man who was simply in charge of putting the visa in my passport. He told me my documents were invalid and that he wouldn’t be let into the country unless I gave him money: ‘no dinero, no entras!’ I stubbornly bluffed my way into saying I only had $5, and after a few minutes of arguing, he gave me the visa in exchange for my money. I guess $5 is worth more to him than stranding a gringo in the middle of the barren Chaco.

RELIEF!!!! We finally made it into Bolivia! Only 8 hours to go until we reach Santa Cruz! Not quite.

We navigated the treacherous dirt road and made it deeper into Bolivia. That is, until we approached a large dip, at which point our drivers nervously stopped the bus, deliberating about how to proceed. They decided to gun it and we shot down, hoping to have enough speed to clear the hill on the other side. We didn’t even come close. We got stuck at the lowest point, in thick sand. We spent the next hour and a half nervously digging ourselves out of the dirt and acquiring make-shift traction by gathering and laying wood from our surroundings. After many attempts, and with the whole crew pushing in unison, we finally cleared the hill after an hour and a half, and as we were completely losing visibility.

We hit the road for another couple hours as a massive thunderstorm gathered. It was easy to find my way to sleep after such an emotional day, even as lightning wailed and rain poured.

I awoke in a curious daze as the bus slowed and the engine died. We had pushed this little guy to the max, and he just couldn’t make it any further. Our drivers spent a while tweaking and cranking the engine, and we finally got her started again, to wild cheers and chants from the footballers. Our bus was supremely bonded by this point. We had taken photos, surmounted language barriers and exchanged e-mails. We were a family.

We pulled into Santa Cruz at 4:00 (5:00 in Asunción) after an extremely emotional 33 hour, epic pilgrimage. This is not the ideal time to arrive in Santa Cruz, so I piled into a taxi with the Dutch and Brazilians and we were escorted to a $3 hostel, where we showered and collapsed.

I bonded with Bolivians and was astounded by their generosity. I learned a lot about myself and pushed my limits. I also learned that I won’t be investing in Bolivia for at least 10 years. What a trip.

I’m in Paraguay!

January 23, 2009

I’m sitting at my friend’s desk in Asuncion and I have limited time. Paraguay gets a bad rap. I’m living the good life. I am accumulating quite the backlog of necessary updates. In due time amigos.

Itinerary Udate

January 21, 2009

Hola amigos!

I had an amazing and perspective broadening experience at Panagea. Unfortunately, I need another ten years on an estancia to truly call myself a gaucho. I will update you more no my experiences there tonight or tomorrow.

I had a crazy travel experience leaving Panagea. I was driven to the Tacuarembo bus station at 2:30. My bus left for Salto, Uruguay at 16:00. I had to take a taxi and hitchhike the 20km to Concordia, Argentina. I bought a ticket on a 23:50 bus to Iguassu. I showed up at the station like I was told, at 23:45 and they threw me in a taxi, telling me that I was late and that the bus was going to pick me up on the freeway. I was dropped off next to a small immigration office on the side of an Argentinian freeway at midnight. I went with it. My taxi driver and the workers in the immigration stop told me that this is normal, and that the buses always ran at least an hour late. I waited on the freeway for well over an hour until my bus arrived at 1:30. Boarded and cruised up to Iguassu. I had less than 24 hours here, but that was plenty. I literally ran through the Iguassu park and covered all the paths. Now, I am going to take a ferry to Paraguay, and then bus it to Asuncion, where I will finally have some time to take a breath and update you on my thoughts and travels.

Shaun the gaucho?

January 16, 2009

Amigos! I had a bizarre day dealing with the Paraguayan and Bolivian embassies. These guys don’t quite have everything in order. I popped into the Bolivian embassy at 10:00 and spoke with an unbelievably nice and intelligent lady. However, she is powerless in the visa process, and informed me that the consulada wouldn’t arrive to the consulate until 15:30. I went to the Paraguayan consulate, and after a few hours of dealing with bureaucracy, such as not having a departing ticket, I completed the visa process and allegedly can pick up my visa tomorrow at 10:00. The departing ticket requirement was frustrating, because everything I have read indicates that buying Paraguayan bus tickets in advance is akin to deliberately sacrificing your cash — these buses will change the days they run and not refund your money. I have been told to always buy at the station as I am departing. I made my way back to the Bolivian embassy and was told that the Consulada wouldn’t be in today. I will return to the Bolivian embassy tomorrow to hopefully speak with the consulada when she supposedly arrives by 10:00.

In the midst of this hectic embassy hopping, I managed to squeeze in an hour of beach time with two cute British girls from my hostel. I also did plenty of walking and saw some of the less appealing parts of the city — of which there are many. Also, there are these simple canvas slippers that are extremely popular with the young males here. I love ’em and think they would be a huge hit in Orange County. I took a few pictures and will show them off to ¨Stussy Dave¨ when I get home.

Tomorrow, I am catching a 12:30 bus to Tacuarembò, where I will then be picked up by a couple gauchos from the panagea estancia! I am very optimistic about this experience. I want to ride horses, eat incredibly hearty gaucho food and to learn about cattle ranching and soya farming! I won’t have internet access, so you won’t hear from me until at least the 22nd. At which point, if I actually get my Paraguayan visa, I will be heading to Asunciòn to visit an amigo I met in BA.

Panagea will be the quiet before the long-haul bus storm that I am planning: Tacuarembò-Asunciòn-Santa Cruz-La Paz-Cuzco-Lima.

The next time you hear from me, I will be a horse-riding stud-muffin gaucho.

Uruguayans are not Argentinians.

January 14, 2009

I’m in Montevideo, Uruguay! I woke up on Monday, threw my clothes in my backpack, and scrambled to catch my 9:30 Buquebus ferry to Colonia. Colonia is a charming and quaint UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was an important Portuguese colony and now the downtown mainly caters to tourists. Visiting on a weekday left the town enjoyably empty. The colors and architecture in the town are incredible.

I walked by a restaurant where a couple was enjoying a meal that appeared especially delicious, so I sat down and copied their order. They found this intriguing and we struck a conversation. Howard and Lina are retired British expatriates that settled in Toronto. Howard worked in international trade, and in particular helping multinational companies secure natural resources. I really enjoyed speaking with him.

After over an hour of conversation, a German lady was served a massive steak and wanted mustard, but couldn’t find the word mostaza. We helped her gather the proper condiments and she joined our conversation. She is a professor at NYU of all things German. Howard and Lina left and I continued to speak with this German lady, whose name I can’t recall. She informed me of interesting demographic shifts with regards to kids taking German.  She has seen an increase from close to 0% to 15% of the proportion of students in German classes being Indians. There has also been massively increased enrollment. This all makes perfect sense as a result of how much Europe’s economy is driven by German growth, and she said that Germany has revamped their visa processes, making it easier for Indian’s to secure employment.

Looking at how demagraphics shift in language classes is probably an interesting leading indicator for global economic trends, probably somewhere on the order of 10 to 20 years. If enrollment in a particular language increases dramatically at top world universities, that countries economy is bound to be affected — either because these kids correctly identified a developing trend or because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once these kids invest the time learning this language, they are going to want to get something out of it, have better understanding of the country, develop study-abroad and expatriate communities, etc. It’s similar to the experiences I have had at Stanford, talking to talented kids and seeing where they want to work after graduation.

I walked out hostel viajero’s door at 19:00 in an attempt to go for a jog, but got sucked into a developing street-drum-performance session — I think it was called campande? It was incredible and was discovered so spontaneously. The march was led by two flag holders — one bizarrely bearing a skull and cross bones. The flag bearers were followed by a few lines of dancing ladies, who were succeded by a core of male drummers. They slowly paraded through Colonia’s 400 year-old streets. It was electric.  I have lot’s of pictures and I will upload them when I get the chance.

After an hour of gawking, I went for a light jog along the coast and to the north. Leaving downtown left me in the midst of one of the most unique, yet strangely familiar cultures I have witnessed. There were hundreds of groups of young people sitting in circles above the ocean bluffs, drinking matte and chilling. The people were by far the lightest and most European looking I have seen thus far in South America. Half the people were wearing Quiksilver, and there were many elements of their behavior and outlook that screamed Kauaiian island fever. Anyways, it was an impossible blend of European, South American and surf cultures. Spending a prolonged period of time in Colonia would drive me insane, but there were elements I absolutely loved and would recommend a quick visit to anyone.

This morning, I took the 2.5 hour bus ride to Montevideo. Hostel Red is incredible. It’s highly recommended for any youth visiting Montevideo. I spent the afternoon walking around the historic, ancient and dilapidated downtown. I wasn’t nearly as impressed as I thought I would be. However, I love Uruguayans. Despite their proximaty and shared history, they are the antithesis of Argentinians. Relaxed, humorous and humble. I can’t quite place why, but I love this country and feel attracted to it. They are barbecuing, parilla style, tonight at my hostel, so I’m going to eat here and likely gorge myself on dozens of types of meat.

Tomorrow, I’m going to explore and try to get visas for Paraguay and Bolivia.

Buenos Noches Buenos Aires.

January 12, 2009

It’s unbelievable. I arrived in Santiago nine days ago and I am already leaving Buenos Aires. What’s even crazier is that I feel like I have a pretty solid understanding of this city and am ready to move on. It’s time for details.

My CATA bus arrived in BA on Saturday morning. I stepped off my bus with butterflies, but the reserved confidence that comes from reading the first couple hundred pages of Argentina’s lonely planet guide. I found the metro and cautiously guarded my backpack as I found hostel Estoril. They weren’t ready for me, so I tested their complimentary breakfast, which as usual consists of bread, spreads and coffee. I hung out in the lobby, talking to an American and some Aussies while I killed an hour waiting to check-in. I have become buds with the American I met and it turns out he has been living with distant relatives in Paraguay for the last six months. Yesterday, we cruised the city together and he offered to show me around Asunción if I make it Paraguay. I went to the Paraguayan consulate today and I think I am going to take him up on his offer after I leave the Panagea estancia in northern Uruguay.

I departed my hostel close to the intersection of Avenida de Mayo and Avenida 9 de Julio around noon on Saturday. Unbelievably, this is a pretty early start to a weekend morning for a Porteño. I walked for the next eight hours and made my way through Centro, Recoleto, Palermo and Retiro. All in all, I walked a good portion of the northern extremities and got a taste of what BA has to offer.

My good-buddy, who will go by his nickname of ‘Stang’ for future recruitment purposes, set me up with his former latin lover Marien for dinner. Marien was beautiful, intelligent and bubbly — the ideal dinner date and an incredible lady. I wanted an authentic Argentine meal so we went to an asado restaurant, in what I believe was Palermo Viejo. We sat down at our table after 23:00. They brought us some homemade ‘country bread,’ as Marien described it. We also orded some provoleta, which is a salty cooked cheese. It was fantastic. We proceeded to order a liter of Quilmes cervesa and Marien choose three cuts, from the 15 or so offered, for our Asado. I let her handle it and don’t remember what they were. Two of them were perspective-alterning and unbelievable, while the other wasn’t spectacular. The two that blew me away resembled a flank stank and a rib-eye. MMMmmmm. There was a small garnish containing onions and tomatoes next to the meat, and we requested more. This is the type of flavor I obsess over. We orded another liter of Quilmes and a desert similar to custard — but flavored with a fruit from northern Argentina and Brazil. I believe it is one of her favorites. The restaurant was candle-lit and had a spectacular atmosphere. It was still rocking when we finished our meal after one in the morning. The entire meal was less than $10 dollars a person. Buenos Aires is a well oiled tourist exploiting machine, so getting recommendations is essential. This place was a steal. We followed the meal with a trip to a local pub that attempted to be Dutch, but fell short in very amusing ways. Thanks ‘Stang’ and Marien for such an incredible evening.

Yesterday, I went to La Boca and San Telmo with two buds I met at my hostel, including the afforementioned Paraguayan-American. We walked all day and chose to get raped by the touristy restaurant options in Recoleta, instead of collapsing out of hunger — we ate lunch, our first substantial meal after a day of walking, at 17:00.

Last evening, I ran to Puerto Madero and checked out their cranking Sunday evening park festival. It reminded me of my summer wandering Chicago’s lake-side parks. There were street-vendors, live music and lots of teenagers playing football along a thin park stretching the length of the city, and squeezed between two bodies of water. Notably, I crossed a bridge designed by one of my favorite architects, Santiago Calatrava. However, the bridge left much to be desired and is one my least favorite pieces of his work. It is asthetically pleasing, but its unique design doesn’t add any functionality. Modern Architecture is at its most intriguing when it combines asthetics with novel engineering.

Buenos Aires is an interesting city. Like Santiago, it is a city of contrasts — although, very different ones. The architecture in BA is beautiful. Its a smorgasboard of Spanish Colonial, French and generally old Europe with a smattering of art deco. However, there are innumerably many epic buildings that are completely dilapidated, defaced and lacking tenants. Plaza de Mayo is a perfect example of this. Puerto Madero is modern and a sea of glass. La Boca is unique and intruiging. Retiro reeks of France.

My mind is not made up about this city. It has very charming elements, but a long way to go before fulfilling its potential.

Tonight, I am going to a drum performance called:  ‘La Bomba de Tiempo.’ I’m going to head over with some other kids from the hostel, and I have been told by numerous sources that this is a must-see event. I am scepticle. I don’t normally enjoy touristy things.

Finally, to backtrack, I bought some fruit the other day from Peruvians and they recommended I try a Peruvian restaurant in town. I went there for lunch today and was blown away. I had Cebiche (that’s how the menu spelled it) with corn and potatoes. I also orded half a bottle of vino tinto, because the half bottle was 70 cents more than a glass. It was epic.

I am taking a ferry to Colonia, Uruguay at 9:30 tomorrow morning. This will be my third country in ten days. Walking and being resourceful allows you to cover a lot of ground. In retrospect, I am very glad I eased into my travels in South America, because I have already learned a lot and feel much more comfortable and confident as I travel to progressively more daring places.

Adios Argentina.

Two Pathetically Unrealistic Business Plans

January 12, 2009

1. I went to the San Telmo street fair yesterday and was thoroughly impressed. To digress, I am also thoroughly impressed by the fact that my keyboard contains keys allowing me to effortlessly type Portuguese´s ç and Spanish´s ñ. San Telmo on a summer Sunday consists of a sea of people swarming endless swap stands and antique shops. There were uncountably many lovely pieces of art and furniture. In fact, I even found a few beautiful antique globes and maps — things I am very interested in and would love to collect someday.

Argentina is filled with expatriate Spaniards, Italians and Germans. It had a higher per capita GDP than the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Moreover, many of the most successful and well-educated jews, that correctly navigated the pre-WWII political landscape, fled eventual persecution by emigrating to Argentina. As a result of this rich history, Argentina possesses many splendid 19th century antiques. Furthermore, as a result of its pathetic current economic state, it appears that many families have been forced to sell their family heirlooms and thus Argentina’s antique market is inundated with unique treasures. Unfortunately, this is a well realized fact by many Europeans and San Telmo’s streets overflow with people, making it difficult to find truly spectacular deals. However, I would imagine one could negotiate very successfully during off-peak travel seasons and steal some prices treasures.

Are there other city’s that contain opportunities like Buenos Aires? How about the ridiculous premise of leasing a tanker and purchasing massive amounts of antique Argentinian goods, and travelling up the Atlantic coast, stopping to unload items in Miami and NYC, crossing the Atlantic to dump in London and Lisbon. Restock in Tangier, Tunis, Palermo and Alexandria. Cross the Suez to sell in the UAE. Replenish in Mumbai. Enter the straight of Malacca to offload in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, San Francisco and LA. Finish off the year back in BA and repeat.

An absolutely ridiculous idea, but a vehicle to describe San Telmo.

2. Copa viña is unbeatable. Delicious house wines that will only set you back $1.70 a glass or $5.00 a bottle. We need these in America. We grow plenty of wine in California, why have I never been to a restaurant where I can get a simple glass of wine for an accessible price. Wineries in California shoot aim for the fences when they grow wine. The deviation of quality in Chile in Argentina is very small. You will very rarely have a terrible or outstanding wine. Whereas in California, extremes are the norm. We need more vineyards to ignore striving for a full body at the risk of losing drinkability. Restaurants in California should have a wine option that is less expensive than Coke. I would love to start a restaurant selling the best simple peasant dishes from each of the countries I explore, with reasonable wine options. Pastelle de Choclo and Cazuela from Chile. Ceviche with corn and potatoes from Peru. Empañadas from Argentina. This list is going to be epic in eight months. I can buy a delicious bottle of wine for less than two dollars here. Incredible.