Who´s Who, Quotable Quotes, and Trip Highlights

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
Trip End Mar 10, 2006

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Saturday, January 1, 2005

An entry I´ve been meaning to put together for a while, I`m going to update this space occasionally with new friends we´ve made and want to remember, some of the more memorable quotes from the road, any advice to fellow travellers we have stumbled across, and, well, any other info that needs a permanent home. You´ll find quotes at the top, personality section in the middle, and miscellaneous tips and such if I ever get around to it at the end. This may be more interesting to people on the road with us...see what ya think!

Quotable Quotes

Due to the sensative nature of some of the following content, some of these will be formed as fill in the blanks. Prizes for the first responders with correct entries!

1. Mathias - "Don´t worry, it´s just _________!"

2. Tarquin - "Keep your sweaty ________ off my wife!"

3. Lucien - "We´re full! ________ off!"

4. Rob (UK) - "Ok, would you rather have NO ________, or live life with two, one growing out of your forehead?"

5. Rob (US) (When confronted with concerns over screwing up with a Colombian girl) - "Don´t worry man, they MAKE ´em here!"

6. Giles alternative song titles - "Busco la Cerveza Negra", by Juanes and "Dame mas Empanadas", by Daddy Yankee.

7. Our rallying cry for much of the early part of the trip - "Dos cervesas por favor, y donde estan las chicas!"

8. Mark with a standard Bolivian problem - "I want to eat my banana, but its hard with all these coca leaves in my mouth."

9. Tali from the Torres trek to Alan (not explaining it) - "I didn't recognize you with your clothes on."

10. Alan (aka "Alaska") reflecting on his early travels with us - "I must say, that's the first time I've ever woken up under a bush."

11. Simon in his trademarked Español - "Todo es posible, nada es seguro!" "Es dificil, pero no es imposible!", "por que no?!" and finally "Por Favor!!"

12. Si again in fine form, in reponse to the dilemma of deaf or blind, if you had to choose? - "You know, if you´re blind, you can´t see shit."

Traveller´s rulebook, Jack and Ben the Switchblade Boys - 1) No dibs, 2) No dirty tricks, and 3) Sharing is caring.

Bonus Question - What 3 letter SPANISH word describes our time in Medellin?


An altogether wacky group of characters, if you find yourself on this list look out, we probably plan on coming to visit you sometime in the near future! If I miss anyone its due to the complete disdain I hold for you...or maybe I forgot, you´ll know which you are hopefully...Starting, in ENTIRELY random order, with The Secret Garden Crew!


Usually wouldn´t be able to pull off putting a two year old in a column entitled personality, but this kid had it by the bucket load. The son of the owners (Tarquin and Katherine, Aussie and Ecuoadorian respectively), and EVERYONE´s favourite. The volunteers are often part time babysitters and stand in uncles and aunts, and we loved him to death.


Oh man Mathias, where do I start? One of two swiss managers at the hostel, completing a stint as part of a school program, the one constant in our time at the Secret Garden and absolutely integral to the experience. Always ready with a laugh, even if we had JUST finished trashing his terrace with an inevitable ground coffee fight. While word is we caught him during a somewhat tamer period, its hard to imagine a friday night without one of our "kings of mint".


The other manager, certainly not associated with anything resembling a "tame" period. Absolutely hilarious to work/for, entirely off the wall but just a really good guy. Took great care of us and will be sorely missed, that is until we track both of these nutters down in Switzerland. A4 Lucien, A4.

Simon and Chloe

Well travelled, fun couple from the UK that we thought might never escape the Secret Garden. Co-volunteers for our entire time and co-conspirators for most of our antics. One of the biggest party weeks on record had to be Simon´s birthday week, although if I recall correctly the "holder of the chalice" and self-proclaimed "king of mint" only managed to make it for one of "his" three parties. Just kiddin´ Si, nuthin but love for both of you. Catch you in Buenos Aires?


Alright, got to catch up with Simon again for the end of the trip and basically party our ASSES off. This guys can go as hard as any other and we had a wicked time between the Simon inspired beer walks, an insane amount of laughs, and all in all just having a crazy time in BA. He`s a smart mo fo and when he makes a point its well thought out and he`s usually right. He`s also a very, very bad influence - detox? what detox?


Our first roomy, intro to salsa, and guide the night scene of quito. The quintessential Quito player, although we only knew him for a week or so he´ll be hard to forget. Crazy enough last night out? While you never made it back to say goodbye (or sleep), we did tell the three girls that came looking for you at the apartment at 6 AM that you would not be back, and no, they could not come in anyway!


Crazy swiss kid, the only one capable of parading up and down the patio with a giant f$CK you all sign aimed at a particularly obnoxious group. Apparently a fello volunteer, I get the feeling he only showed up when bored or hungry. Knew Quito well through volunteering with street youth during his time - complemented the Secret Garden vibe nicely, left a noticeable void once he moved on.


The crazy Scotsman, there from day one. This boy would get the all you can drink dinner special, do it justice, hit the bar all night with us, and be halfway through climbing a mountain by lunchtime the next day! Not content, he´d be back on the all you can drink by dinner! Not just a partier, but a seize life by the throat kinda kid - one of my all time favourites.


The crazy Canuk who helped kick off, and bring down the curtain, on our time at the hostel (although conspicuously absent for a time in between). Classic Canadian, perhaps a little more sensible but easily enough led astray in the end. We managed to kidnap him for enough fun in the end that he felt the need to sneak off in the wee hours without a goodbye out of fear of losing his entire itinerary to the wiles of the Secret Garden and its crazy crew!


A true blue Aussie, while passing herself as part of the sensible crowd, capable of keeping up with us on our craziest nights. Also the girl who has hit me harder, in the face, than any other. Admittedly I had just finished biting her hard enough to bruise in the middle of a bar, but she smacked me halfway across the room! There for most of our time, a core part of the experience and definitely missed once gone.

Elles and Elliette

Lovely dutch girls who spent some time studying spanish at the hostel. Kind enough to kidnap me for a trip to Baños most definitely pleasant company. Sad day when they moved on and I had to trudge back to the hostel and resume working, although Elles was generous to come fill in for a night since I had to work alone as someone was MIA. Hopefully can catch up to this primary school teaching duo before they leave the continent (who knew primary school teachers coupld party until 7am?!). Miss you lots Elles...

Brett and Sinead

Great couple we met at the Secret Garden and I got to spend a little time with in Baños. Being from Vancouver I'm sure they can't help it, but lots of fun to spend time with and couldn't have picked a better partner to randomly jump off of a bridge with Brett. Glad to have met and I've got the first round when we're all back in Van! (Dying for a Sleeman's Honey Brown...) For now will continue chasing you around the continent trying to learn from your adventures.


A voice of sanity in the "Garden", comfortable in her own skin. Not the craziest of the bunch by any means, but in some indefinable way irreplaceable in our experience. There doing work towards a thesis regarding the Ecuadorian flower industry and so around as long as any of our crew, showed her party side in the end as well (we new it would come out). What drives Mark and I to fight eachother over the chance to look after a sick girl, a girl we both know is very content in a 10 year relationship. Hard to pin down, but a sad day when she finally left us.

Luke and Dom

The dynamic brotherly duo from the UK. Always up for a big night, although not entirely appreciate of my attempts to pimp them out to the local girls, these relatively late comers to the party quickly established themselves as valued and core additions. Check Dom´s site for some very cool animation, cartoons, and other miscellaneous odds and ends - worth a look! www.liquiduk.co.uk


Not there for the longest time but certainly fondly remembered by the crew. An intriguing girl with the right outlook on life - the last we heard she left the Secret Garden to try to cross South America by foot ;-). Now off to other parts in search of further adventure, with any luck she´ll catch up with us at Carnival.


A talented artist, one of the first people we met upon arrival in Quito, it was her going away party that convinced us working at the hostel might be a not so bad idea. An adventurous soul - well aware that there is far more to it than life at home would seem to present to most people - following her own path, and I suspect occasionally an entirely different drummer than the rest of us ;-). Came back for a very welcome visit at the end of her trip at the end of our SG time. With any luck our paths might just cross again before this trip is over.


A fun loving high spirited soul, much deeper than some might give her credit for at first glance. All eyes upon her on arrival, but eyes only for one in the end. Although I have to blame her for leaving me stranded to work solo for a few days, still most fortuitous to have had our paths cross. Until Chicago "roomie".

Stuart and Gillian

¿Capariña? If I hear that one more time it will be too soon! A fantastic couple from the UK, possibly the only man to make the Secret Garden regret all you can drink for $4.50, and to consistently order his next Capariña while, or before, being served his first. swung through on two seperate occasions and always a welcome face to see - will certainly be tracking them down on their home turf. don´t worry Stuart, we´ll give you plenty of warning so you can hide the good stuff!


Took over one of the volunteer positions as we left, a regular in the Quito party scene, lung infections be damned. Great guy, well and truly representing Canada and hopefully still around for our Quito reunion coming up.


Salsa teacher extraordinaire and a very very cool girl. Came out and partied with us on our last weekend to say goodbye, and consider her more of a friend than a teacher. Spent almost twenty hours working with me to become a somewhat passable salsa dancer! Might have been easier if wasnt clearly one of the more sensual beings on the planet - did just fine until the dancing inevitable got closer (as salsa does) and my brain ground to a halt.

Moving on...

Lots of good friends outside the "Garden" as well...

Mr. Dennis Test

The only man to have beaten me at Go (while I was trying to teach it to him!). Peace Corp worker in the mountains of Chugchilan, our dinner, Go, and conversational companion in this unforgettable and isolated place. Worked right into this tiny community with nightly card games in town and by using his agricultural knowledge to the benefit of surrounding farms, the world could use more of his outlook and slightly off the wall personality. I demand a rematch Dennis - until the next time.

Rob (aka Brad Nuevo)

First member of our soon to grow Colombia crew, very well travelled guy from Seattle. Gamely filled in when we were a man down for a triple date in Medellin, and soon fell into that travelers rhythm - when you find decent company your itineraries start to fall into synch. Stuck with us through all our time in Medellin, Cartegena, and moved on to Venezuela from Santa Marta. Catch you in Buenos Aires for Navidad?


Giles, Giles, Giles, you are a nutter. This english born and raised Welshman started his trip with aspirations of seeing half a continent, and got sucked into the vortex of our crew before even halfway. Something tells me no regrets Giles? Became good friends with our Medellin girls, to the extent that he has promised to FLY ADRIANA TO EUROPE for a summer with his school funds! Nacional fan second only to us, after ending his trip and going home, he called from England on game day to wish us luck and get in on the celebration! Despite coming with no spanish, the linguist picked it up at a ridiculous rate. Seriously man, Medellin isn´t the same without you, and we WILL catch up again.


"Ok, so if you HAD to choose, would you choose to have NO penis, or go through life with a second one, growing off your forehead?" King of the dilemma and creator of some of the more bizarre questions I´ve ever heard, Rob came on the bonding experience that was the Ciudad Perdida trek. 6 days in the jungle can make anyone a LITTLE crazy, but he came to the experience already there me thinks. Funny, funny, good guy - quick with a barb for everyone but equally quick to laugh at himself. Caught up for oene more crazy night for Mark's B-day in BA, and hopefully can do it again before he flies home for Xmas. Will most definitely catch up in the UK next year amigo.


The Swedish porn star. Who would´ve known, although with that beard we should have guessed.... very well travelled, excellent Spanish, and an integral part of the original Medellin crew. Always up for a night out and the catalyst for actually getting the boys out of the hostal and out and about to see the sights. A hopefully strong supporter of the Navidad in Buenos Aires master plan, will hopefully cross paths in a few months.


The other integral part of our trekking group, Dave, rob, Mark and I got along really well. This guitar playing songsmith joined the tail end of our Medellin time and stuck with us for a couple weeks. Nominated as interpreter for a lot of the trip for our two non-spanish speaking members dave was just great company - a solid guy with lots of worldly experience and a good perspective on life.


Joined us on the way to Parque Tayrona, a local from Bogota with half decent English he was our unofficial guide. Took us on a short trek to Pueblito, the ruins at the beach, shared his food, water and candles with us when we were sorely underprepared due to not planning on staying as long as we did, and even helped us a bit with our Spanish. great guy, and really sorry we missed catching up in Bogota!

Matt (Aus)

The latest additions to the list. Just when we thought Medellin would be a little quieter for the return visit, we find these crazies in the hostel! This guy has some of the funniest travel stories you will ever hear, and entirely believable coming from him. With an introduction to the drinking game Beirut he set the tone for a seriously fun week of flinging pingpong balls at cups of beer, and rocking the hostel like its rarely seen. Set the scene, I´m standing at a restaurant towards the end of a crazy night trying to flirt with the waitress in spanish. Matt manages to break the railing nearby, leaving him with a hunk of wood about finger thick in his hand. What do you do? Proceed to whip me in the back of the knee full strength, and upon not getting the reaction he wanted (I was concentrating!) follows up with two more brutal blows almost bringing me down. The whole restaurant was torn between laughing hysterically and coming to my rescue from the madman. Really too bad he´s headed in the opposite direction, but will surely catch up somewhere.

Matt (aka "Germany")

Rounds out our current Medellin crew nicely and will possibly tag along for the Quito party next week. Rico Suave with the ladies, fluent spanish and experience living in various places around the world. My Beirut partner in the drinking game thrashings we were handing out to all comers, competitive in everything but definitely a good guy.

Part 2: Matt has become one of our closest friends from the trip, absolute madman and doesn't quite get that other people occasionally need to sleep but a really good kid. He can talk like nobodies business, the force behind our repeated free entry into clubs around Argentina and other freebies and short cuts. Caught up for Machu Picchu and part of Bolivia, and again for all of Patagonia, will have to give him a massive send off in BA this week as he flies home in a few days.


Down to earth, cool San Fran kid, accompanied us on our trip to Vilcabamba and our visit with San P. May yet end up working at the Secret Garden, as thats where we found him again after crossing paths briefly in Colombia and extolling its virtues. Sounds like we´ll be crossing paths again, looking forward to it amigo.

Huaraz Trek Crew

Let`s see, we had Ali (aka "The Bone Collector") a slightly off the wall but hilarious guy. There was Chris (aka "The Soup Killer") recognized for his ability to polish off soup like nobody`s business and set a pace that NO-ONE could keep up with on the trek. Jen, good natured and despite barely sleeping for the whole trek always ready with a smile and laugh. Marisa, who despite an apparent inability to find somewhere private to go to the washroom, wash or change, managed to finish the trek with something resembling bronchitus. Lastly, Rony, our chilled out guide that never let anything faze him, always had patience if someone was struggling and all in all took great care of us.

Salar de Uyuni Crew

So then, we had Mark and I, then a fun Aussie couple named Garth and Natasha, a french couple named Melonie and Fabrice, and Sebastion, the token German. Fun crew, Garth was just a funny guy always in a good mood and Natasha a corny girl both with a ready laugh as well. Nobody likes the French...ok, maybe I'm softening - these two were both nice company and ready conversationalists (even in English, bit of a rarity among these folk), then there was Sebastion, good guy, newlywed who's wife let him off on his own for 8 weeks, always up for an adventure and good company. Lastly, Javier, our guide/chef/cook. Great guy, little overly fond of the 80's tunes and somehow able to listen to the same tape for three days and not go insane. Easy going sort and took good care of us, even if he drank all the coke.

Alan (aka "Alaska")

Alan, Alan, Alan, what to say. Accompanied our little group for all of Patagonia after we kidnapped him in Calafate to round out the rental car. Have to admit it was REALLY hard to get a read on this guy at first and we weren't quite sure what we had on our hands. Friendly and generous, always the peace maker in the group and helped keep us together during some of the groups tired, crankier times. A down to earth and smart guy, has a job that lets him travel 4 months a year and he's taken advantage of it - SNEAKY party animal, wouldn't strike as a wild guy but next thing you know he's literally dancing on the tables and waking up under bushes. Has taken a firm spot on the personalities list despite a late entry and will be sure to catch up over the next little bit.

Tali and Rachel

Lovely Israeli girls that voluntold us they'd be joining us for the Torres del Paine trek. These two just approached Matt and I in the a store and next thing we knew they were coming along! Great girls, super easy to get along with and tough enough to handle the trek with all their gear. Tali and I hit it off pretty well in particular and I really hope we manage to catch up a bit down the road.

Juan - "Coolest Trucker Ever"

Well, through several days of hitchhiking and some pretty rough points the ride with this dude made it all worthwhile. Juan was our MC Hammer rapping, ex-breakdancing, 3 stooges impersonating ride for 1700 kilometres and almost 2 days. He bought us food and shared his, let us mess up his truck, chatted with us the whole way and even offered to let us sleep in the cab (although there was no room and he had NO reason to want us there). Divorced with 3 kids at 33, he's a funloving guy who seems to have a girl in every town - took great care of us and turned a potentially rough experience into a all around amazing one (if still pretty rough). No contact details although he has ours - REALLY hope to hear from him as he lives in BA.


Amazing perspective on life and quite simple one of the coolest people out there in my books. Met her basically chilling away from the dance floor, both pretty done for the night and just chatted a bit. Turns out we had something in common in not having gone through the traditional high school system and just kinda hit it off. Met later in the week and really just spent an afternoon talking about...well, everything! An inspiring girl and wish I could have had some more time with her - I`m sure we`ll catch up in New York sonner or later though.


NYC all the way, we met Jeff at Sandazas in BA. Very cool, very chill guy, definitely on the same page as us as far as rocking BsAs to it foundations. Speaks English French and Spanish (at least), lived in Montreal, NYC, Sydney, and now BA he seems to have a pretty decent handle on the world. Stellar musical tastes he and Mark had a date ripping eachothers music for a whole freaking day, and he and his roommates come out a couple of times for some entirely random and fun nights. Will absolutely make my way to visit him in NYC sometime soon if I can swing it. Hasta luego amigo mio.


Super sweet London girl we´ve met in Rio and an integral part of the crew. Half Iranian and half English heritage - cute as anything, seems to have worked out for her ;-). She kind of hijacked us as new friends to escape from a crazy stalker guy and has been part of the crew for our time here. Very smart, doesn´t really drink unless we "force" a caparinha on her, but just good fun to have around. Generous to a fault - watching her interact with the world around her she treats EVERYONE with respect and kindness; she simply makes the planet a happier, kinder place. In a world where many of us proclaim to live by the "do unto others" rule, this is a girl to emulate. An irreplaceable part of our Rio experience I´m certain I speak for all of us when I say she holds a place in ALL of our hearts. Will catch up in Salvador, and can always use a friend in London!


The perfect addition to round out our Rio crew. This chilled out Vancouver kid has not only rocked out in Rio with us (filling in admirably for the missing Alan in our four man team) but has switched his entire itinerary to stay with us all the way through Carnaval in Salvador! Hauling his surf board all over Brazil as he´s more or less just started learning, always up for a big night out or a chill one in the hostel - whatever the flow dictates. A laid back ladies man, excellent addition to the conversational mix, and just an all around good guy. Going to be cool to have someone from the trip I can hang with at home!


Didn´t have a lot of time to get to know Scott, but just a down to earth really cool kid. All of 18 but you´d never guess it to talk to him. A friend of Roya´s from back in Peru, he had to go home because of a serious tropical illness contracted in Colombia, but came back in fine form to help us tear up Carnaval. An excellent addition to the crew, not always easy as a latecomer, really glad we got a chance to meet...oh, and thanks for the advice ;-)

Highlights, Lowlights, and Tips

Top Hostels

1, Secret Garden - Quito, Ecuador
2. Palm Tree - Medellin, Colombia
3. Platypus - Bogota, Colombia
4. Princesa Maria - Baños, Ecuador
5. Las Ruinas - Vilcabamba, Ecuador
6. Koala Hostal - Potosi, Bolivia
7. Refugio - Puerto Madryn
8. Antarctica - Ushuaia
9. Sandanzas - Buenos Aires
10. Stoneofabeach - Copacabana, Rio, Brazil
11. Pousada Terra Nossa - Pelorinho, Salvador, Brazil
12. Pousada dos Franceses - Sao Paolo, Brazil


1. Laguna Quilatoa region/Chugchilan - Ecuador
2. Ciudad Perdida trek - Colombia
3. Parque Tayrona beaches - Colombia
4. San Cipriano - Colombia
5. Nacional Game in Medellin! (South Section) - Colombia
6. Zona Rosa - Medellin, Colombia ;-)
7. Baños town and bike ride towards Puyo - Ecuador
8. Salt Cathedral - Near Bogota, Colombia
9. Salsa lessons - anywhere, especially Ritmo tropical in Quito
10. A night out with us at the Secret Garden, Quito
11. Santa Cruz trek and area in general - Huaraz, Peru
12. Sand boarding/dune buggying - Huacachina/Ica, Peru
13. Machu Picchu - Cuzco, Peru
14. Death Road bike ride - La Paz, Bolivia
15. Chasing Che's trail - La Higuera, Bolivia
16. Potosi Mines - Potosi, Bolivia
17. Salar de Uyuni 4X4 tour- Uyuni, Bolivia
18. Tango Show, getting an apartment...Buenos Aires, period! - BA, Argentina
19. Calafate/Chalten, Torres del Paine - Patagonia, Arg and Chile
20. Iguazu Falls - Brazil/Argentina border
21. Lapa District, Favela Funk, and Fútbol in Rio - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
22. Carnaval, oh my god, Carnaval - Salvador, Brazil

Not quite living up to the hype

1. Nariz del Diablo train ride - Ecuador
2. Cartegena - Colombia
3. Bogota´s nightlife on a backpacker´s budget
4. Border crossings so far - Way less exciting than described!
5. Cuzco, Peru
6. Ushuaia (VERY nice place, but sooo hard to get there...was it worth it?)
7. Copacabana beach, Rio, Brazil
8. Many of the northern beachs, Brazil
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alansmith on

Top Ten Hostels, Number 10
Shaun, we never stayed at at Antarctica Hostel, Ushuaia! Maybe you should lay off the morning beers! Hope you can detox soon...


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