To the Unsuspecting; Beware water balloons

My first time visiting South America led me into Bolivia.  I actually had no idea what to expect as my original intention was to simply visit Chile.  Bolivia was quite an eye opener as I travelled from Chile, a country with a standard of living that was very comparable to Canada, into an economic-struggling country.
That said, it was definitely one of the most beautiful places I have had the opportunity to visit.  Also where one of the most outrageous experiences I’ve had took place as well.  I happened to be visiting sometime between late February and early March, which happened to be Carnaval season.  Despite seeing kids running through the streets of Potosi spraying one another with water guns and in some instances, almost getting drenched by a boy who tried to dump an entire bucket of water on us — we had no idea what we were getting into when we walked into Sucre.

After getting off the bus, we walked towards the street that our hotel was on.  There was a lot of racket and music — which we figured was simply festivities — but no sooner when we turned the corner, we were greeted by sidewalks filled with parade spectators.

A group of us were trying to find a restaurant and we ended up running across the street as water balloons began to fly at us.

Let’s just put it this way.  I could literally see everyone’s eyes immediately light up.

What better thing to do than pummel a bunch of gringos with water balloons?  Perfect. Opportunity.

I saw a wave of water balloons launch into the air towards us, and I just ran down the street for sanctuary.

These festivals (and excuses for city-wide water fights) would take place practically all day.  It was the most hilarious and yet also stressful event to experience.  Try going down the street to buy some food — you end up getting chased down by kids and teenagers — eager to showcase their marksmanship skills … and trust me, they got skillz.

Eventually a group of fellow travellers banded together to form Team Gringos to see if we could fight back a little.  There were a few successes … but everyone ended up walking back drenched and cold.  It was still an awesome time.

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An attempt at sketching whilst in Peru

During my travels in Peru, I took a lot of photographs but as I mentioned earlier in 2013 during my trip to Wyoming, I wanted to take fewer photographs and spend more time taking in the sights, smells, and sounds.  Some might say, travel slower. This also played a role in my goal to travel lighter and in a minimalist manner.  I had sold off a substantial chunk of my photography equipment and ended up buying a smaller and lighter but quality camera (Fuji X-Pro1).  Then I took a moleskin and a pen with me to Peru as a journal.

On the way to Cusco
On the way to Cusco

My friend Serena (from SerenaDraws) had gifted me with a pigma micron pen but being as I was reacquainting myself with sketching, I wasn’t accustomed to using such an archival ink pen — so I kept using a ball point pen until I lost it during my travel.

It was a bit of a challenge to find the time to sketch.  I found the best time for me to sketch was either when I was simply sitting on a bench observing street life or when I was spending too much time on the bus on route somewhere.

Looking out from the bus
Looking out from the bus

The challenging aspect of trying to draw while sitting on a bus is the fact that the road is a bit … bumpy.  That said, I would look out the window and whenever I saw something of interest, I’d try to retain the image in my mind and sketch out whatever I would remember.

Passing by a town
Passing by a town

Though I didn’t get much of a chance to sketch during my hike on the Lares Trek, I did attempt to capture a bit of a quick sketch of the hike in the remote mountainous region.

Hiking on the Lares Trek
Hiking on the Lares Trek

When I had the opportunity to visit the jungle, it was so hot there during the day that one would just sit in the shade.  This was the ideal time for me to do some sketching (or napping).  Way too hot!

Jungle Hut in Peru
Jungle Hut in Peru

I’m still trying to figure out how to replicate the character of trees as well as the look of leaves.  This will require a bit of practice.  That said, I was a pretty happy camper when I finally left the hot hot jungle.

Leaving the jungle
Leaving the jungle

I’ll post some photographs from Peru later but I thought I’d share some sketches first.  Not the nicest to look at on lined paper I know … but it’s all in the name of practice!

The Gigantic Icicle Discovery

Quite a few years ago, some friends of mine and I went up to Algonquin Park to do some snowshoeing while staying at a nearby local hostel.  It was really cold that winter; to the point that snow in Algonquin had frozen.
What we didn’t expect was to find ice everywhere.  I laugh when I think back to the time when one by one, each of us slipped, fell, and slid into one another down the hiking trail.

The best part I think of is when we stumbled upon the largest icicle I’ve ever seen while hiking the Bat Lake trail (I think).  We did take pictures next to it but I think this picture really shows how large it is compared to the trees.

Discovering a huge icicle while winter hiking in Algonquin Park

We Stopped for the Blue Skies

A beautiful view of a small town in a valley in Vermont

It was 2002 when I first laid eyes on the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  My family and I were on a road trip to this beautiful state that we had never set foot into.

This was the beginning of my fascination and enthusiasm for hiking mountains.  I was never much of an outdoors person to begin with.  You see, when you tend to be allergic to everything and experience everything from hay fever to hives and rashes — you don’t really think of the outdoors as your best friend.

Nonetheless, after stepping foot on to the top of Mt. Washington by car — I said to myself that one day, I would return to hike the white mountains.  That day would not arrive until 2007 when I finally had saved up enough money (dirt poor after so much school) and recruited a couple of friends to go on this one week road trip.

On the way to New Hampshire, we passed through Vermont.  During our long drive we just had to stop to take photographs along the way.  The blue blue skies, lush green lands, and the small pastures and farms were a beautiful and tranquil sight for this relatively clueless city kid at the time.