Sunday, April 20, 2014

Adrienne Didn't Die ... Yay

I rushed past wooden crosses, the only thing stopping me from falling off the edge of the cliff, my mands numb from the vibration, my eyes on the path ahead of me. My heart was beating out of my chest, the peddles under my feet barely moving. Once and a whIle water would trickle down off the side of the cliff beside me, falling onto my helmet. I watched as the greenery rushed by me, the clouds obscuring the path ahead of me.

Five hours earlier I was in a van with five other travelers heading with bikes strapped to our roof to the start of Death Road, Bolivia. Casino de las Yungas is known as the worlds deadliest roads. After traveling through the deadliest roads in India, I though this was not going to be such a big deal. I am not the best bike rider, but I survived the windy mountain roads in the way to Machu Picchu. 

We arrived at the top of the mountain. We each posed with our bike near this lake, thinking this can be the last photo of me alive. We dressed in protective gear incuding knee and elbow pads, a full body suit gloves and a mountain biking helmet. After strapping my gopro to my chest we each mounted our bikes. 

The first 1/3 of the road is paved and has a pretty good amount of traffic. We dodged trucks and vans, flying past tall snow covered mountain. We stoped a couple hours in for a light snack. We then mounted our bikes to complete the most rigerous part of the road. The rest was dirt, rocks, gravel and wet mud. Our small team zipped through the jungle, stopping to see famous accidents along the way. 

"Look down, do you see that charred bus down there at the bottom of the cliff? 30 people died there." We continued... "Here is where people are thrown down if there being bad...you can here them screaming sometimes at night." We continued.. "Here is the spot wear most bikers die ... Look down you can see the remains of the bike frames." 


I am sure these stories are told to us to enhance the adrenaline rush. After three more hours of breath holding, heart pounding madness we finally arrived to the end. I finished ... I didn't die. I even got a shirt that says so, although most people know I am crazy enough to do something like mountain bike Death Road, but if you do t believe me just watch the video I filmed. 



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Taking on a Challenge

Yay the 100's post!!!

If you don't know me, I have always been very shy. I have stage fright even people fright sometimes. I am terribly afraid of spiders and I could barely order food in a resturant until I was around 10. I have come a long way since then.

I started out as a quiet elementary school girl in speech therapy and tonight I took on the most difficult performance that I will probably ever do. When I was standing on stage with my red corset and my leather pants I faced my fears.

The bright spotlight blinded me and my heart beat hard against my chest. As I recited my lines my body shivered perched upon red stelletos. I neared the end of my monologue and now the part came that would make or break the performance.

I remember at Berkeley when I attended Vagina Monologue's I was blown away by the woman who did "the woman who loved to make vaginas happy", not just by her courage to be on stage, but by her bravery for being able to do what she did on stage.

As I started into the the first moan I channeled my character, I seperated myself from the shy girl and became a strong woman. I put all my effort into each moan letting the laughter of the audience fuel my confidence. I thrashed about on stage, changing positions and using props. As I reached the finally I was out of breath and exhausted, but I was also different, I accomplished something I never thought I would be able to do.

A couple years ago when I first saw this performance, I said that if I was able to do this monologue on stage then I would be able to do anything. I did it...


"I would gladly live out of a backpack if I can see the world"

Not a day goes by that I do not remenise about my travels and dream about my future journies. I have been inspired by my adventures and I continue to long for new experiences. 

I read a quote recently by Don George in his article "How to Fall in Love with Traveling": 

"Travel brings us closer to that state where the thin tissue between inner and outer, self and world, disappears. It makes the world new again and makes us new, too." 

I constantly feel the urge to shed my obligations and just escape back into a life of freedom and adventure. Some say I have been bit by the travel bug. I think that traveling has always been something I enjoyed, but after having the opportunity to escape I have become addicted. Traveling has opened my eyes to what true happiness is.

Don George writes about the experiences that made him fall in love with travelin. When I think about my own moments of falling in love, the emotions are so strong that sometimes life feels incomplete without my backpack on my back and a ticket in my hand. 

When I think about the happiest moments in life I am taken back to enjoying a chai on the trains in India, paragliding over the mountains in Nepal, enjoying Peruvian food at my friends home in Cuzco, dancing the night away with Sole in Salta, Argentina, and watching the sun set against the Torres del Paine in Patagonia. 

If I could spend every moment of my life discovering new places I would give up all the riches in the world to live out of a backpack forever. 



I once heard a quote "Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." It's true, I have learned so many things about the world and myself while traveling. If only traveling was free I would give up my own bed to sleep in unfamiliar places, because unfamiliar is something that excites me. 

As Don George says:

"I know from my own wandering that embracing the unfamiliar in this way can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating, but I have learned to make the leap, to meet whatever the universe sends my way with a vulnerable and open heart.

Why? Because when we approach the places and peoples of the planet this way, some amazing adventure always unfolds, diminishing and completing us in ways we can’t begin to understand." 

Although I don't see many opportunities for travel in my near future my addiction will remain and I hope that I will never lose sight of what truly makes me happy. 

See Don George's article here: 

http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2014/03/28/how-to-fall-in-love-with-the-world/?sf2500833=1



 



Monday, April 7, 2014

Photograph of Salt

Uyuni Salt Flat - Bolivia

I remember  looking to over the salt flats in Bolivia as they stretched on for miles. I was standing in a place where the locals harvested the salt. Mounds of salt were built up around me and small heated geysers  we're bubbling for the ground. I saw this loan bike sitting against a salt pike and I felt like it depicted the loneliness and desolation of the flats.  It looked so striking against the white salt and it seemed almost abandoned, calling for someone to hop on and pedal across the barren land. 

The Uyuni salt flats reminded me of the beauty this world has to offer those who wander. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Traveling by Bus- South America


first row and food on the double decker
The long bus rides in South America is a unique experience. Many of the buses are double decker, with the more pricy full reclining seats on the bottom and the semi-reclining seats on the top floor. They have lots of entertainment. They play American Movies in Spanish and Bingo for a free bus ticket, all in Spanish so learn your numbers. They serve three meals, many of which come in little lunch boxes. They are not very vegetarian friendly, its usually ham and cheese for lunch and arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) for dinner. If you are not picky, you can eat just the rice or just the bread and cheese. Many of the sides are vegetarian, usually a cookie, some weird fruit cup or apple and a juice box.

My recommendations for long journeys is go to the supermarket and buy some snacks before you load onto the bus. Either if you are vegetarian or always hungry its a good idea to have something to curb your hunger before you arrive to your destination. Trust me a 30hr bus ride makes you very hungry. Also vary your snacks. On many occasions I would buy more sweet snacks, because that was the mood I was in at the supermarket, and half way through the bus ride I was so done with dried fruit and chocolate and just wanted some salty chips or pretzels. Make sure to get salty and sweet snacks that have a good amount of calories to prevent you from being starving.

If you are going for cheaper (semi-reclining) also called semicama (cama as in bed) I would try to get the seat in the first row. It has lots of leg space and a huge window and great views of the surrounding. Although from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile its all desert, so not much to look at.

Note to those with fear of hights, the first row on the top gives a great view, Butkus also very high above the road, so it seems like your flying. There are curtains you can shut if you feel uncomfortable.

Cama and delux cama are very nice, the seats are much bigger, one on each side of the aisle on the bottom floor of the bus. They recline almost all the way back, to give you a semi normal night sleep.

No matter if you pick semi cama or delux, the bus attendants try to make you as comfortable as possible. You get a blanket and small pillow, it can get quite cold with the AC blowing full blast so bring a sweater.
 

Buying Tickets:

 The lowest prices are at the bus stations, from the companies offices. You can also buy tickets from your hostel and travel agents, but they usually charge more. By going to the bus station you can compare prices and amenities, you can even negotiate prices. 

Typically I would buy a ticket for my next bus when I arrived at a new location. This would ensure that I had a seat on a bus on the next date that I wanted to travel. Usually you can get tickets the same day for a later bus, but on a couple of occasions I have met people who could not get tickets and had to stay an extra day. 

Tips:

Keep your valuables secure and out of sight, if you are flashing an ipad or iphone, it will encourage people who might be looking for items to take them. Also try not to take sleeping aids on buses, its easy to steal from a sleeping person, especially if they wont wake up. When you sleep keep your valuable items hidden and in inside pockets. 

Sit as far from he bathroom as you can, especially on long rides during the summer. 

Make friends.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our Beautiful World in Photos


Laguna Colorada- Bolivia


Dargeeling -India


Backwaters -Alleppie - India


Annapurna Circuit - Nepal


Pucon - Chile

Death Road - La Paz - Bolivia

Valparaiso - Chile

Humayu's Toumb - Delhi - India


Colca Canyon - Peru

Torres del Paine - Chile




Friday, March 28, 2014

Time Travel


I have traveled across oceans, boarders, deserts, high mountain passes and jungles. I finally had the opportunity to time travel.

No I did not find a Back to the Future car or a magical telephone booth. I finally joined twitter. Did she just say she joined twitter??? Yes I finally crossed into the 21st century and joined twitter. Make sure to follow me adrienne_hugs

Other than time travelling I have also done some recent domestic travel. I just got back from visiting my family and friends in California. I managed to go rock climbing, eat dinner with some lovely ladies, have a wonderful BBQ with my parents, take my grandma shopping, eat some tasty Berkeley Indian food, and dance to some Bollywood music in just four days. That sounds like time travel to me. 

Currently I am studying for boards, (insert crying face here) which I take in June. I am also planning my post boards trip and I would like some advice and recommendations on where I should travel and write about. Let me know where you want me to explore. 

London
Sweden
Colombia
Costa Rica
Brazil 
Alaska
Ireland
Denmark

Let me know where I should go next.

Add me on twitter adrienne_hugs

Shout out to my mom on her Birthday!!!



until next time ,
Adrienne 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Travel Medicine by a Traveling Medical Student

Working the pharmacy during my volunteer stay in Peru
Traveling can be very exciting and sometimes a bit scary, especially when you get sick. Sometimes
its just the common cold but it can make you scared enough to call home to mommy. I know this from experience. After a taste of Salmonella flavored Chinese food in Peru, a Giardia spiced water in Nepal, a Hep A seasoned Lassi in India and a nice leg of lamb that cured with E coli for over a week on the counter of my families home, I learned the hard way that mommy is not always there to feed you chicken soup and take your temperature.

I was scared, alone (but not really because there was always a handful of other travelers hearing my hourly bathroom visits) and very dehydrated.

Vaccines: 
Check so see what the countries you are traveling to require, you might need to get certain vaccines to enter some countries. 
  • Yellow Fever - Amazon and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Typhoid Fever - India or Peru
  • Japanese Encephalitis - South East Asia
  • Hep A - 2 weeks before you go (you will have to get a booster after 6 months)
  • Hep B - if you are working in a medical setting (three shots)
  • Rabies - stay away from stray dogs (which is a huge problem everywhere)
  • MMR
  • Tetanus
  • Polio - this is a new requirement for India
  • Meningococcal - Sub-Saharan Africa

Malaria Treatment:
  • Prevention:
    In the Amazon
    • Once a week: Mefloquine
      • watch out for the side-effects, can cause bad dreams
      •  Start one week before you enter area with malaria and continue through your trip and 4 weeks after you leave the malaria area.
    • Everyday: Doxycycline and Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil)
      • Doxy: start the day before and continue 4 weeks after you leave malaria area
        • can cause you to get sunburned easier
        • don't take before bed
      • Malarone: much more expensive but less side effects
        • start one day before and continue until 7 days after trip into malarial area
    • Mosquito repellant -  at least 45% DEET
  • Treatment - its recommended to take prophylaxis and avoid the disease, but just in case:
    • CoArtem - Artemether/lumefantrine 

Altitude:
Acute Mountain Sickness and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
At 18,340ft - highest motorable road in the world
  • Treatment is to descent and use oxygen if available.
  • Prevention:
    • Climb high, sleep low (this does not mean sleep on the ground, this means that instead of sleeping on the pass, sleep at a lower village)
    • Avoid alcohol and sedatives
    • Eat a high carbohydrate diet - lots of pasta and potatoes 
    • If you are really worried, take Acetazolamide (Diamox) - start 1 day before you start your trek and each day until you descend. WARNING: this makes you have to pee all the time (for me, no joke, every 15mins) so stay hydrated.


Sun Exposure:
  • Cotton has an SPF of 7 so therefore you still need sunscreen.
  • Don't put sunscreen on top of bug repellent, Apply sunscreen first, then repellent just before exposure to insect.

For all you snorkelers:
  • What do you do about a jellyfish sting? Everyone always says pee on it or use some vinegar, I prefer the vinegar and it works. 
  • Don't pee in the water in the Amazon - Candiru likes pee and will follow the stream of pee... well you got the idea. 
Diarrhea/Nausea:

Most common traveler's illness.
  • Prevention: 
    • Only eat safe food (well this one is hard to do, but I guess if you really don't want diarrhea try to follow it...otherwise move ahead to treatment)
      • You can have: sealed food, piping hot food, fruit with a peal
      • Don't eat: ice, lettuce, tomatoes 
    • Brush your teeth with bottled water
  • Treatment:
    Don't let this be your best friend on the Indian trains
    • Let it run its course - if your body is trying to get rid of something let it do it. 
    • While you are on the toilet make sure to stay hydrated. The easiest way are with re-hydration salts. These can be purchased at almost any pharmacy around the world. They often taste bad so mix them with some juice powder or get the flavored ones.
    • If that fails take Pepto-Bismol for nausea and diarrhea (don't take it every day)
    • If you have severe nausea and you can get your hands on some Zofran (Ondansetron), this will relive nausea in 15mins
    • If you have a fever, blood in stool, severe stomach cramps you might have a bacterial infection, this you will need to treat with antibiotics:
      • Levofloxacin 500mg for 1-3 days
      • Cipro 500 twice a day for 1-3 days
      • Azithromycin (Z-pack) 1g once or 500mg for 3 days
    • If you have diarrhea for over 2 weeks and is not resolved by antibiotics you probably have Giardia - to treat this you need Metronidazole (do not drink with this)
Sleeping on long bus rides or plane journeys can always be hard, here are some over the counter treatments you can use:
  • Benadryl, Tylenol PM, or melatonin
  • Try not to take hard-core sleeping pills, you don't want to be robbed  
Fever:
This can often accompany diarrhea or nausea, its a good idea to keep a small plastic thermometer in your first-aid kit. This will help you monitor your fever to determine if you should see a doctor or take medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil), and Naproxen (Aleve) can help lower your fever. Always see a doctor if your fever is over 104 or if its accompanied by stiff neck, rash, or shortness of breath. As always stay hydrated.

Staying Healthy
Sleeping, eating well, and taking it easy when you are sick are the best recommendations. Vitamins, in recent studies, have been found not to help much, unless you have an unbalanced diet or are in need of extra vitamins (pregnant, elderly, children). Probiotics especially during and after an antibiotic treatment is a good recommendation to replenish your normal flora (normal bacteria that help you combat infections, breakdown food, and metabolize vitamins). Anti-itch (hydrocortisone) cream for bed bug bites or poison ivy itching is a good addition to your first-aid kit.
Thanks for reading. Just note, I am not a doctor yet and this does not serve as a replacement to see your doctor, this is just a guide that could help you through some sticky situations. If symptoms last too long please go see a doctor. In most countries its actually fairly cheap and they often know better about local illnesses than doctors do in the western world.

I went to see a doctor in Nepal and in India, both visits were under $30. In Peru I was hospitalized for Salmonella for an entire day, I even had my own room. In the USA that would have cost thousands of dollars but in Peru it was about $200. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Puerto Rico on the Cheap

Who says you have to spend $$$$ to lay out on white sands and dive into clear waters. The most expensive part of visiting Puerto Rico is the flight. My friend Stephanie and I escaped for Spring Break 2013 to the wonderful and beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

Although public transportation exits in the greater San Juan area, its almost impossible to travel the rest of the island without a rental car. If you are under 25 (as I was last year) it cost $210 for a five day economy car rental. Split between two that's not too bad. If you are under 25 then your in luck, it will save you almost 1/2 that amount. We rented from Popular Auto in San Juan, they were very nice and they never tried to cheat us. I have heard many stories of companies charging extra for things that were not even in the agreement. They spoke no English at Popular Auto so knowing Spanish is a must if you want to use them. That said there are many other places to rent from, Popular Auto just seemed to be the lease expensive.



In San Juan we stayed at The Palace Hostel, its a bit out of the main part of the city, but it is still walkable. We drove from San Juan to El Yunque National Park, we explored this area for a couple hours before heading over to Fajardo to check into the Moonlight Bay Hostel. I recommend this place highly, they were very nice, they even went out of the way to make a veggie burger for me. The hostel is very close to the ferry terminal to head over to Isla Culebra. That evening we went on the Biobay kayak tour, if you are student you can get a discount, it only cost 35. It was an adventurous 3 hours of bumper kayaks. We maneuvered our way through small channels without any lights bumping into each other and trees until we finally reached the biobay. Although the biobays are a bit overused, and the plankton that create the color are dieing due to too much human traffic to the area we were still able to see the water light up. The best way to see the biobay is on kayak, it has less impact on the species than motor boat.

Zoni Beach
When you are waiting for the kayaks to depart to the biobay, don't forget to try the typical Puerto Rican arepa at one of the seafood shacks. An arepa is a flat corn bread stuffed with many different things, here its the bet to try the fresh seafood ones. 

After a good sleep (4hours) we woke up to get in line to buy tickets for the ferry. No matter how much you try to negotiate with the people at the ticket office, you still have to wait until the day of your trip to buy the tickets. We were able to get on the first ferry to Culebra. The ferry takes about 1 hour each way. Its a relaxing ride, it was so relaxing that I feel asleep.

In Culebra we reserved a camping site on Flaminco Beach. You can do this over the phone, you might have to call a bunch before you can actually get a hold of someone, again another reason to know Spanish. It was $25 for a camping site and you can split it by up to 6 people. It was just Stephanie and I, but it was still cheap. Make sure to bring your own tent, you can rent one, but its much more expensive. Also during spring break, most of the college students also go to camp at Flaminco, ask for the last camp ground, I think its letter E, this one is the quietest.

Camp ground
We rented a Golf Cart for the day, which was $45/day. It was a nice way to get around, originally Stephanie and I were going rent bikes, but Culebra is very hilly and quite hot. I think it would be doable, but you would be tired before you got to the beach.

We headed to Zoni Beach which is the most beautiful beach that I have ever been to. There were not too many people, unlike Flaminco, it was a very open long beach with white sand and clear blue water. Across from Zoni Beach is the Island of Culebrita. Whether you are snorkling, paddle boarding, kite surfing, or just laying out in the sun, Zoni Beach is the best place to do so.


After a wonderful small party on Flaminco Beach at night and a restful (wink) sleep in our tent we woke up the next day and walked to Tamarido Beach, it a long hot walk, and there is a part with a hill, but it is doable. We rented snorkeling equipment at Flaminco Beach camp ground, it was $10 per person for the day. It was here that we swam with the turtles. There is lots of awesome coral and neon color fish here that you can chase after. The sand is not as white as Zoni but there is much more shade. Remember to bring your sun screen.

After a long day of snorkeling and bathing in the sun we packed up our tent and headed back to the main island of PR. We were shocked at how safe it was to keep out items at the campground. We left most of our other belongings in our rental car in Fajardo. The ferry ticket is $4.50 both ways.

In all its not very expensive to travel around PR and have a good time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bucket List (9-10) On the Go

9. Iceland's Ring Road
It is said by many that Iceland is one the most beautiful places on earth. Pictures from there make me think that it might be close to true. Ring Road in Iceland circles the entire country, its also known as Route 1. Its 1,339 kilometres (832 mi) long and takes 10 days to drive all the way around and see all the sights including its thermal baths, huge waterfalls and hike-able glaciers. Iceland is pretty expensive, renting a car can cost $100 a day. Tour packages are also available, but they are pretty expensive too. Bus passes are offered for around $350.


10. Haute Route - Cross Country Ski the Alps
This 7 day trek on skis from France to Switzerland. With a combo of downhill skiing, cross country and climbing with skins this beautiful route take you across the Western Alps. Skiers stay in hotels along the way. The views of the snow covered peaks are breathtaking. You can either get a guide to take you or you can do the trip on your own with just a map. This is not a trip for the lazy or the poor. Skis must be bought or rented and lodges must be booked. Euro to the Dollar ratio does not help much. This will probably be one of those trips I do when I am older, I hope I have the energy to do this in 20 years.