Masters of the Dance

What's New?

[ Table of Contents ]

12 January, 2001
Finished! All the stories, photos, and maps are finally up and ready for the public. Enjoy!

1 April, 1999
April Fools Day! Sorry, still nothing to show on the travelogues part of the site, but I finally have a photo gallery I'm happy with. Until the stories come, please check out some images from the road.

5 March, 1999
Having too much fun settling back into San Francisco to spend much time developing the new site, but it slowly takes shape. I attempted to scan in my photos the other day, but the quality was so poor, I will be making another attempt as soon as I find the time. But it's Friday, and now that I'm back at work (I was hired back at the exact same contract), that means something. In the meantime, I have a few of my shots up here, until I can manage to rescan them all. Check them out in the soon to exist photo gallery.

13 February, 1999
The music fades, the palm fringed beaches disappear around the curve of the road, and a cold wind blows across the runway. I'm home. Long (ish) story, but too many troubles going on in Carupano, so I decided to skip Carnaval and come home a week earlier than planned. *shrug* There are other parties and sometimes I actually have a little common sense when it comes to safety... Just got "home" a few hours ago. A hot shower and a real bed... I'll be working on this site in the coming weeks and hope to have something worth reading within a month or so. It could happen. If not, stay tuned! The backpack hasn't been unpacked yet. How much is a ticket to Thailand?

29 January, 1999
OK, just got back from climbing Pico Bolivar. Four days of heavy hiking, up to 5007m. But great time. I'll put a description here when I get a chance. For now, spending my time in Merida, Venezuela. Great town. Narrow streets, funny accent on the Spanish (I'm having the hardest time understanding the people here!), amazing salsa dancers. Next week, off to the Caribbean. Angel Falls? Not this time... Just can't be bothered to spend all that money in the dry season... More news soon.

17 January, 1999
End of the line for Ecuador. Just got back from a week down on the coast. Quiet and peaceful Sue, incredible beaches at Muisne, and good parties in Atacames. But in two days, I'll either be on the plane for Caracas, or possibly, possibly, on my way to Columbia... Enough for now. It's hard to find good food out in the smaller towns in this country. I'm on my way to enjoy the restaurants in Quito! :-) No more fried fish!

11 January, 1999
Sitting in an internet cafe now as the skies open outside and rain pours down. Just got back about an hour ago from climbing Iliniza Norte. Wow! Wow! Ow! Yesterday morning, I was picked up from my hotel. We went to meet the other two people I was going to be climbing with, Bill (Yank) and Christoff (French) and Gabriel, our guide. From there, we took off for the mountain itself. It was overcast, so we couldn't see a thing, and I was cursing the weather. (I've almost never had a successful sunrise from the top of any mountain I've climbed.) Once we got there, the scary part began. They were going to drive us in a 4x4 jeep as far up the mountain as they could go. That meant going up these crazy roads, up on two wheels maybe half the time. Yikes! I left fingerprints in the dashboard when we finally had to disembark. *shiver* Then, we started walking. Iliniza Norte is something like 5200m, and we were starting from about 3800m. The first day was mainly an uphill slog. And I mean slog. Two steps, stop, catch your breath, continue. I had the lightest backpack of any of them, but I still had trouble. Then, the weather took a further turn for the worse. Rain, then sleet, then snow! I was drenched to the bone, and so was my pack, as I forget to get a raincover. But the other three were the same. By the time we got to the hut, we were all quite miserable and exhausted from the relentless uphill trudge. We couldn't see a thing because of the fog, the clouds, and the wind whipped snow.

The lodge was absolutely primitive. No running water, an outhouse out back without even a door to close, and only a hole in the floor. No heat in the lodge. I had some severe misgivings, as I was wearing everything I had, and I was still rather frigid. Um. :-/ They fixed us a great supper, but due to the altitude, none of us had much of an appetite. With a quick review of what would happen the next day, we all turned in around 6:30. I slept maybe five hours, but spent the rest of the time listening to others going outside to be sick due to altitude sickness.

Up at 3:15. *groan* Every time I do this, I wonder what in hell I was thinking. Then I stepped outside.


The stars! No electricity for miles around, just a perfectly crystal clear sky just full of stars. Shooting stars lit up the heavens with their dying light. The milky way a streak across the sky. Iliniza Norte a dark mass against the sky, Iliniza Sur a whiter mass on the other side.

Bill had a miserable night, and hadn't slept a wink. He was one of the unlucky ones. But he still made it out the door. At about 4:30, we left the hut. Step, step, breath. Step, breath. *gasp!* Up to the ridge, we climbed. At the top, the sky suddenly lit up a blinding blue, and a streak circled down from the heavens. An exploding satellite? A plane? We never found out. We continued on upward. The snow under our feet had that squeaky new sound, as our ice axes kept us from sliding down into the crater beside us. At the top of the ridge, we could see Cotopaxi glowing in the distance, a perfect cone against the brightening sky. On the opposite mountain, we could see dim lights slowly move, as the Quebecois made their attempt on the ice. Looking up, it looked like we were almost at the top. Yes? Gabriel quickly dashed my hopes with a Nah. Up, up, up. I was dying from the climb and altitude, but still remembering to look around and enjoy the view. As the sun began to rise, an amazing sight greeted my eyes. Cotopaxi took on color, its snow capped peak against the rosy sky. Cayumbe in the distance humped above the clouds. Distant city lights were a further glow against the sky. Perfect silence other than the occasional tink of an ice axe against a rock or a gasp from one of us trying to catch our breath in the thin air. Rounding the side of the volcano, the trail vanished. Pulling out ropes, the climb suddenly changed face. I had told Gabriel before that I did some rock climbing. Time to prove it. Harnesses on, ice axes strapped away, clipped in, one by one we dropped off the face of the volcano. Nothing too serious, but still exhilarating considering the enormous drop beneath us down to the valley below. After that, one final ascent. Ice axes left behind, we scrabbled on hands and knees up the steep rock. Just when I was about to declare defeat from the sheer exhaustion and sun blindness, we were at the top! Incredible views! Choramborazu on the other side, all the other volcanoes clearly visible. Clouds racing in to cover the view, but too late! :-)

The climb down was one exhausting time. Still buzzing from our success, we almost raced down the mountain. Sliding down the steep rocky slopes, leaping up the ropes, then literally skiing down the other side, the loose sand acting just like snow, which by this time had almost melted away. We got back to the lodge, absolutely filthy from head to toe, and so exhausted that we just slumped on the stools while we were served chicken soup and hot tea. The day wasn't over yet. We had to pack up our bags, and once more hit the trail. Again, the loose sand let us reach incredible speeds. We made it down from the peak of the mountain all the way to the bottom in maybe 1/3 the time it took us to make it up.

18 December, 1998
Hola, amigos! Made it to Quito safely. What a trip. Nightmare. 8 hours in Caracas airport, 10 hours in Panama, but I'm here! Quito is a great town. Think I'm going to like it here. One last check on the email, then I'm out of touch for the next month. Time to have some fun! I'd type more, but I'm just having too much trouble with this Spanish keyboard... Argh. For now, time to go find some Spanish and salsa lessons... Adios. Happy Holidays!

15 December, 1998
On my way! Last minute preparations are actually finished before midnight for once. Backpack weighs in at 21 lbs. Hm, good enough I suppose, but could be better. ;-) This will be my last access from North America before reaching Quito on Thursday. I've had many people from Venezuela telling me that there is going to be trouble when the new President takes over there in February, so my plans may have to undergo a sudden change. How's Trinidad for Carnaval? Anyone going that way know of any decent hotels with rooms still available? Adios!

10 December, 1998
Finally purchased my tickets after much dithering over where I should go. And the result? I fly to Ecuador next Wednesday, 16 December (via Caracas and Panama, ouch). I'll stay there for a month, then fly back to Venezuela for another month, returning home after Carnaval on 20 February. I'm on my way! Now, to figure out what I'll bring... Gear for climbing in the Andes, surfing in Ecuador, dancing in Caracas and Quito, trekking in the Amazon, and diving in the Caribbean...

6 November, 1998
I just notified my manager that I'm taking off. His response? "Can I join you?" :-) So now, over the weekend, I'll have to call around, check airfares, buy a couple guide books, cruise the web, and start gathering contacts. For now, I need to find a tuxedo for tomorrow's ball... From formal ball to sleeping in the gutters, all in a couple weeks... Why can't I stop smiling?

Email me at nomad3 @ GoneWalkabout.com

[ Table of Contents ]