Steve´s Dead, but the Blog Lives On

Trip Start Feb 22, 2007
Trip End Aug 22, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 8, 2007



Well, it was a good run. I´m happy with the life I led. I don´t think I´ll end up in hell with Jerry Falwell, but you can never be too sure. And I´ve pretty much done everything I ever wanted to do.

Get out of Leaf Rapids (check)
Graduate from University (check)
Work for Canada´s premier sports network (check)
Travel to Exotic Places (check)
Satisfy a woman (          )

Well, I did almost everything.

However, the webmasters at TravelPod just won´t let me die in piece. They´re determined for me to become the Tupac of the blogging world. I have a wealth of material that I didn´t deem interesting enough to make previous entries that they will now unleash on the public.

Nevermind that most of the ¨new¨ releases are without endings, points or punchlines, the rat-bastards just have no respect for the creative process. Anyway, you were fairly warned. 

Perhaps in death, I´ll even become as overrated as Elvis, Kurt Cobain or James Blunt. Oh, that´s right, I just wish James Blunt was dead. 

"You´re beautiful, you´re beautiful."  

Anyway, without further adieu, TravelPod presents Steve´s Travel B-Sides:  

Track 1: More on Peruvian Street Merchants

The countries we´re visiting are poor, so obviously there are a lot of people selling stuff on the streets or just plain asking for money. In Bolivia, the vast majority are shoeshine boys, causing me to wear sandles every day to deter them. And in Ecuador, they even sold adorable puppies. I´m just glad they weren´t on a menu. I just don´t trust myself anymore.

You might have already guessed, but my favourite country to be bothered in is Peru, and not just because of the Random Peruvian Street Merchant. The people just have better bits.

Within minutes of arriving in Lima, a boy jumped in front of me and started juggling tennis balls, a young girl went into a full handstand and an older gentleman released a colourful paper butterfly that shot out from a book and started flying around. These people deserve my money, that´s some top-notch entertainment they´re providing.

Sara also enjoyed paying Peruvians for pictures. Almost all of our shots with cute kids, llamas, alpacas and ladies in traditional dress have been bought and paid for. There is no free lunch in Peru, these people know how to put tourists to work for them.

Finally, my favourite incident in Peru:

Sara and I are sitting on a park bench when a kid walks by us and asks,

¨Want to buy an English-Spanish text-book?¨
Sara counters, ¨Don´t you need that for school?¨
¨Yes¨, the kid replies, laughing his way to his next potential sale at the next bench.

Track 2: Misunderstandings

These happen all the time because as I´ve already explained, our spanish is shit. The funniest misunderstanding occurred t wo weeks ago in a La Paz hostel.

Sara: ¨Puedes cambiar... ahhh... the sheets. Es necessario porque...ahhh.. es hace frio.¨ (Her attempt at: ¨Can you change the sheets, it´s very cold.¨)

Before Sara could spit out the ¨hace frio¨ part, the hostel manager turned to me, smiled and punched me on the shoulder, laughing with a sort-of locker room style approval.

Obviously, he thought the sheet change was needed for entirely different reasons.

Track 3: Toilet Paper

As any well-traveled person knows, you must always remember to bring toilet paper with you no matter where you go. Only hostels provide. Restaurants, public bathrooms, museums, chance.

Actually, why am I even mentioning this. Is this a means to paint a better picture of what it´s like to travel abroad or just a shameless attempt to work in a Millett no-wipe joke?

Could be both, I suppose.

Track 4: The Not-So Magic Bus

So, you need to get somewhere in Ecuador. You go to the bus station right? Nope. The bus station is of no use in this country. Sure, they have them, they just don´t use them.

The day Sara had her iPod stolen, we were the only two people on the bus when it pulled out of the station. We had our feet up, chuckling over our good fortune for about all of 30 seconds when the bus pulled on to the road and made its first of about 500 stops during the 3-hour journey.

You see, in Ecuador, like many South American countries, you have to pay a small departure tax at the station before leaving, so everybody of course, by-passes the station and hops on somewhere on-route. Actually, anywhere on-route, absolutely anywhere.

So, while the driver drives, another man hangs out of the open bus doors and yells the destination. On this day it went something like this, "Otavalo, Otavalo, Otavalo...(bus stops, family of 4 gets on)...Otavalo, Otavalo, Otavalo...(bus stops then re-starts because guy on road actually isn´t going to Otavalo )...Otavalo, Otavalo, Otavalo (old guy with big burlap sack over his shoulder runs in)." And so on, and so on.

After what couldn´t have been over 15 minutes, our private bus ride has become completely full. The seats are all gone, but this doesn´t mean the guy stops actively recruiting people. Oh no. "Otavalo, Otavalo, Otavalo." 

Now, a mother and her two sons are actually sitting on my feet. The worst part is, while only slightly exaggerating, the grandmother is on my lap. 

While this is all going on, we have the usual array of venders hopping on the bus at every stop, walking up the aisles and screaming like their selling pretzels at a ball game.

¨Helados, helados, helados,¨ or ¨Aqua, aqua, aqua.¨

These people are only topped by the kids who get on the bus, sporadically break into song for five horribly out-of-tune minutes and then ask for change. I guess it´s the equivalent of those windshield washing bums who hop on your car.

However, for those of you who enjoy American Idol (c´mon), I can only say visit South America. All that´s missing is a drunk off her ass Paula Abdul.

Track 5: Perhaps I Should´ve Spread Out These Bus Stories

Now, to the Bolivian bus system. People avoid the bus at all costs here because the roads are terrible. Buses either fall off cliffs or to a lesser degree, get stuck in the mud for 6 hours at a time, turning what was supposed to be a 14-hour ride into a 36-hour journey to hell and back. This exact thing happened to a girl I ran into a couple days ago.  

However, this story is nothing like that. While taking our maiden voyage in Bolivia (Lake Titicaca to La Paz), we were ¨treated¨ to a dubbed version of Bruce Willis´ Tears of the Sun.

The movie was about half-way through when the bus stopped and everyone suddenly piled off. We, as per usual, had no idea what was going on.

With the help of a friendly local we learned we had to leave the bus and get on a boat to cross the lake. I felt like a drug smuggler. It was pitch black and making it even better, two army officers jumped on the boat and pulled ski masks over their heads. Some things are just too cool.

Anyway, we got back on the bus and like usual, they didn´t restart the movie. Sara´s still reeling from a similar bus trip in Peru that left her fretting about what happened to those poor dogs in Eight Below (Paul Walker´s only good movie--one in which he manages to get out-acted by huskies. Although, I guess it beats Vin Diesel out-performing you).      

Unlike previous trips, the Bolivian people were having none of it. First, a guy from the back yelled, ¨Pelicula, pelicula.¨ Then, before we knew it, the whole bus was cat-calling ¨Video,¨ ¨pelicula,¨ or ¨senor, senor.¨

The army guys with ski masks weren´t even on the bus before and they got in on the action. And this is Tears of the Sun people, not exactly a classic.

Eventually, the guy was forced to put back on the movie and as soon as he slid in the VHS, that same voice from the back boomed, ¨Volumo, mas volumo,¨ cracking up the entire bus.

Bruce Willis would like it here. 

Track 6: Got Change for a $20?

Ecuador is on US currency. They have all the regular denominations, but also have a one-dollar coin and a 50-cent piece.

They also have $20 bills. In fact, this is the only bill the bank machines spit out. However, nobody has change for them. I really shouldn´t single out Ecuador because this happens in every country down here, but Ecuador is definitely the worst offender.

You would think you were handing the person a rare $1000 note. You either get flat out refused or the merchant suddenly leaves his or her shop unattended, goes running into all the nearby stores for change and returns 5 to 10 minutes later. This happens at least once a day. 

And don´t get me started on the hookers. 

Track 7: A Package for Mom

About a week ago, my mother went to the post office to find a 5 kg package from Peru waiting for her. She probably rubbed her hands together, she might´ve even of been salivating at the mouth just thinking about all the gifts that awaited her. Scarfs, sweaters, jewelry, the possibilities were endless.

She was like a little girl at Christmas. First, she carefully pulled out the first item (Season 1 of South Park), then another (Season 2 of The Sopranos), then another (Season 4 of The Shield), then she surely started to panic.

¨There must be something in here for me, ¨ she fretted. 

Nope, only pirated DVDs. 

Better luck next time, mom.   

Track 8: A Taste of Culture

While in Peru, Sara and I took in a show at the Cusco Centre for Native Arts. I´m only telling you this because it gives me an opportunity to post a video I shot.

Perhaps worth mentioning is during the show, Sara caught me clearly trying to peak under one of the girl´s skirts. I couldn´t even claim innocence, it was just that obvious.

Sara also noticed that unlike 100% of human beings on earth, I cannot clap in rhythm at a concert. While the whole auditorium was enjoying themselves, clapping effortlessly, I had a strained look on my face, expertly trying to time the next clap. I am a robot. 

Go to a concert with me for no other reason than to witness this. Sadly, I´m not joking.

Track 9: Nothing Better Than a Man in Uniform    

Since I´m already bashing myself, let´s continue shall we.

No matter what uniform I´m in, I look pathetic. I pretty much made everyone puke with that wetsuit shot from the rafting day. So that in effect, also rules out the scuba diving outfit. When I went skydiving in New Zealand, I had a guy on my back. That´s more of a Mark Tewksbury look, so that´s out.

And while on a horse in Colombia, I felt like a man´s man, a real rancher, but looked more Jake Gyllenhaal than Clint Eastwood.  

Then after seeing those pictures of me on a bike from Death Road, I just give up.

Even while wearing a tux at my friend Chris´ wedding, people kept asking me if I was going to a funeral later. I bet I could join the army and be discharged for no other reason than not looking intimidating enough. Or as a firefighter, charge into a burning house, throw an old lady over my shoulder and have her decide to use the window instead.

Track 10: Canadian Delicacies

While traveling, you obviously meet people from all over the world and you always get talking about your respective countries. The people, the landscape, the weather and, of course, the food.

Because the English absolutely love baked beans, I tell them in Canada you can buy beans at the store that instead of being in tomato sauce, come in a delicious maple syrup.

I always expect an ¨Mmmmmm¨ because those bad boys are tasty, but this is never the case. ¨Ughhh,¨ or ¨In maple syrup? Gross¨ are the overwhelming replies.

So I move on to the Caesar.

¨What´s a Caesar?¨
¨Well, you know a Bloody Mary?¨
¨It´s like that, but instead of plain tomato juice it´s made with Clamato.¨
¨What´s Clamato?¨
¨The ´ato` is for ´tomato` and the ´Clam` is for, well, clam.¨
¨No. That´s the most disgusting thing I´ve ever heard.¨

You´re completely dead in the water when trying to convince people that anything with reconstituted dried clam broth is good. You have no chance.

Okay, one more try. I know just the dish that will leave other travelers drooling.

¨You guys know poutine?¨
¨Never heard of it.¨
¨Well it´s a French Canadian dish. You put cheese curds on french fries, what you English call chips, and pour hot gravy on top, thereby melting the cheese.¨
¨That sounds terrible.¨
¨Ah, cmon, I give up.¨ 

I understand the unpopularity of beans in maple syrup and Clamato juice, but poutine? Our menu just doesn´t translate. 

Track 11: A Death Road Omission

To make myself look much more courageous than I actually am, I cleverly left out a fact about Bolivia´s Death Road. While it´s still a deathtrap, vehicles don´t actually drive on the same street as bikers anymore Well, some still do, but not many. Earlier in the year, the Bolivian government opened up a brand new route alongside the mountain, leaving the old road for tourism.

On the way back to La Paz, a 4-hour drive in a packed van that completely erases any adrenaline you build up during the bike ride, my group took this new, ¨safer¨ road.

All I can say is the Bolivians are clever people. While it is a tad safer, I smell more tourism dollars. How does ¨Death Road 2¨ sound, or the ¨World´s 2nd Most Dangerous Road.¨ Savvy, very savvy. 

Oh, and while we´re on the topic, I have breaking news on the Austrian. We spotted him in the Bolivian jungle with the shortest pair of short-shorts we´ve ever seen on a man. I am truly sorry I didn´t take a photo.

Track 12:  Screw you Morgan Spurlock. 

When traveling for extended periods of time, the local grub starts to get old. There´s only so much rice, beans and guinea pig a man can eat. That´s why McDonald´s is like an Embassy when you´re overseas. You see that ¨golden arch¨ in the distance, shining like a beacon, and you just know what awaits you. Air-conditioning, clean bathrooms and delicious Big Mac´s. Sara and I have probably frequented 3 McDonald´s and 2 Burger Kings so far.

While I was teaching English in Taiwan three years ago, I also ate a lot of McDonald´s. But the fast-food chain also served a far greater purpose. After I was done teaching my morning classes, I always needed to use the bathroom, but my school really didn´t have what a man like me required.

Their sole toilet had no walls around it and was surrounded by 10 small children´s bowls. A student really shouldn´t see their teacher in that position, especially since what I was passing rivaled these cute, little 5-year-old´s in size.

So, every morning after class, I walked into the McDonald´s next door, slid into their one-toilet bathroom and made myself at home. After finishing, I would always buy a vanilla ice cream cone for 10 NT (40 cents CDN) and leave. I did this for 6 months straight.

By the end of my run, the employees would greet me with ¨Nee-hows¨ at the door and practically hand me my cone as I left the bathroom. Can´t beat the Taiwanese, very friendly people.    

Bonus Track: A transcription of my 3rd interview in South America.

This sort of kills the ¨I´m dead¨ bit, but it´s just too good to leave out.

We´re now in Salta, Argentina, after being in northern Chile for all of 1 day. Just minutes ago, while trying to polish this entry off, I was approached by a local radio reporter. This completed the trifecta, I have now given a print, television and radio interview in spanish.  

Apparently, today, May 17th, is the day the Internet was invented, who knows in what year. So, after being given time to think of a clever answer by the lady from 92.1 Cielo FM, I was interviewed live.

This is what went out on an actual spanish newscast in Salta, Argentina:  

Reporter (english translation): ¨I have Steve from Canada with me, Steve how much do you use the Internet?¨

Steve (what I actually said in spanish): ¨Yo uso el Internet para una hora per dia. Es estupendo para viajeros.  Yo mando mucho correos y hablo con mis padres y amigos en Canada.  Me gusta mucho Al Gore, el inventar a internet.¨
Reporter (english translation): ¨Thanks, Steve.¨

That´s right, I said ¨I like Al Gore a lot for inventing the Internet.¨  I just wish I could´ve been at the station when it went live to air. ¨Did that guy just say Al Gore invented the Internet?¨ I´ve probably never been prouder of myself.

All music and lyrics written by Steve Dominey (picture of him in band not available. Producers just didn´t think it would sell.)

All proceeds going to Sara and Juan´s love child.

Be sure to pick up Steve´s next album, B-sides of B-sides, coming this June!!!

Featuring all new tracks such as ¨What I ate for lunch today,¨ ¨What´s the deal with hostel breakfasts¨ and ¨No means no, Sara.¨

Plus newly remastered classics like, ¨I puked on a sea lion,¨ and
 ¨The package I dropped off under a train.¨  

Available only at WalMart.
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