Monday, April 30, 2007

scattered suenos

friends and fams alike, here are some scattered suenos from catamarca to roast, roost with and marinate on.

lenz is off to inkan lands for the first part of mei, and will return mid month.

love and health to y'all....

Sunday, April 29, 2007

plateau puna

Weeks ago, young leader oscar and alejandro were waiting for me with an unpacked quatro por quatro at the Fiambala Terminal de Omnibus. It had been a long 35 hour journey, bus to bus to buses. Their two smiling faces, a fresh yellow pomegranate and love was all I needed for the journey north to the Puna Plateau.

The Puna Plateau is a gorgeous high altitude plateau of rock, volcanoes and a few animals here and there. It is also where the three of us spent the duration of our time in Argentina. It is a remarkable landscape with an exquisite palette of different whites, browns and yellows. Due to its extreme high altitude there isn't much green to be seen, unless one brings a potted plant or two along for the ride.

We were cruising 4x4, and without a vehicle of 4x4 strength the journey would have been impossible, in fact...

...the first day we headed up to the Puna we were stopped in our tracks be a road that seemed to disappear into sand dunes. Shit we thought, where should we go (see oscar and alejandro contemplating our next move along the dissapearing camino).

We were saved by young, Domingo, a boy of no more then thirteen years. One of his cows was stuck in a nearby river and only his madre and himself were around, having heaps of trouble trying to get this cow out of the river. It had spent the night in the water, freezing, hungry, scared and close to death.

Oscar, Alejandro and myself headed down the hill and after some planning, dragged the cow (thing must've weighed 800 pounds) onto dry land. It was certainly in shock and we all pray that it made it home...

Domingo told us that the road was certainly navigable and when we arrived back to the 4x4 there was a caravan of four trucks coming from the direction we were going. The trucks smiled and roared, thumbs up. We continued on our journey to the Puna. What kind of adventures would be in store at 13,000 feet, we'd soon find out.

We arrived at our first puna campsite just as night was falling. Our bright truck and brighter stars surounded us and our campsite. I couldn't pinpoint my ears onto what was different here in the Puna.

Then it dawned on me with dawn. There weren't many other living creatures up there. The silence was overwhelming tranquil. Besides, of course, the ferocious winds...

love and health to all...

Friday, April 27, 2007

bienvenidos a corral quemmado

sitting here this morning in santiago with davey and his homestay fams, i struggled to figure out where to start the story of my journey to rendez vous with two crazed geologists, on a mission to explore and understand volcanic eruptions of northwest argentina. i was in the provincia of catamarca with them for the past three weeks or so, scouring the earth, through the time of rocks, millions upon millions of years.

we took samples, climbed mountains small and large, got closer to the sun than ever before and lived al fuera, beside the streams, beneath the stars and in the cold of high elevations.

so to begin, to set some framework for our adventure, here are some of the players in our story, our drama, our comedy.

la puebla of corral quemmado = homefront for stone research
la cocina of the hosteria municipal = lilian, queen of corral quemmado, caretaker of hosteria municpal and sous chefs/young derelict, helpers
oscar = geologist and amigo and el jefe
alejandro = field assistant and amigo
tres amigos = not even smidgens in geologic time

love and health to all...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

la moneda to la pintana

Yesterday dave and i made our way to La Pintana- a less affluent barrio in Santiago for a film festival al fuera. It was a gorgeous night and we spent an hour waiting for a bus outside La Moneda (the presidential palace) to take us to the hood. After a half hour journey we ended up at a basketball court with a screen set up, parents standing waiting for films to start and children running around, climbing the fence around the basketball court.

The kids were pysched to watch the first two films (cartoons) and then when the serious documentaries came on they just started roaming the park having fun.

The film "Memoria Obstinada" (about the making of the documentary "La Batalla de Chile" and then revisiting the folks who were in that film.) "La Batalla de Chile" is about the storming of La Moneda and Pinochet's takeover, which of course was funded by the good ole Uncle Sam. Both documentaries were extraodinary and i found myself roaming the neighborhood looking for some photos during our time in La Pintana.

Manana, I'm off on a 24 hour cannonball run to rendez vous with some mad geologists in northern argentina. Goodness will re-arrive to the Lenz near late this month.

Davey on the corner, hoping for a bus...
A scene from "La Batalla de Chile."
The film festival and La Pintana....

love and health to all...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

but it says cream...

On Sunday, Davey and I jumped on a bus and headed south to the small city of Rancagua for the last day of the Chilean National Rodeo Championships. Rancagua is a little bit of a run down seedy town and Davey's homestay brother Nico had a splendid time mocking our jaunt south. I guess it would be comparable to grabbing a bus from Chicago to Gary, Indiana for a pleasant afternoon rodeo.

We both were hungry before the rodeo and we stopped at a little tienda to grab something to eat. My spanish is still in its infancy and I bought what appeared to be yogurt. We sat outside and drank some lukewarm and luke light nescafe and opened up our "yogurt." The second my toungue touched the thick, white liquid, I realized something was wrong. I turned around the yogurt shaped container and saw what it said- "Crema de Leche." Ah ha, cream!

David seemed to get a good laugh at that and the older woman sitting by herself beside us really got a laugh at that...

"Why are you eating cream with two spoons?" she asked.

"My brother thought it was yogurt."

"But it says cream," she stated, perplexed.

"Yeah but he doesn't speak good Spanish and he thought it was yogurt with strawberries because there are strawberries on the container," Dave replied.

"But it doesn't say there are strawberries. It says it's Crema de Leche," she remarked. She then looked at me and I gave her a eww, that tasted nasty look. She giggled with delight!

Yup, point well taken. We then passed over our two Crema de Leche's and a container of milk to the lovely older woman. We talked for a half an hour as she downed the milk and spilled it all over her sweater at every sip. She really was a remarkable woman. Happy, giggling, enjoying life and the moment. We all shared smiles, laughter, misunderstandings, and crema de leche together.

love and health to all...

Monday, April 02, 2007


I arrived in Santiago de Chile just under a week ago. The main reason for my visit has been to see and hang with my bro, David, who is here on a study abroad program for the spring semester. Although, of course, down here it isn´t spring, it´s the beginning of autumn.

Chile is a magnificient place and Santiago is framed by the Pacific two hours west and the Andes mountains to the east, massive snow capped peaks in view, clear and cold on a crisp autumn day. My first week here, I headed west to the ocean and explored the hilly city of Valaparaiso, Chile- a port town and home (I think) of the Chilean Armada, the navy.

Valaparaiso is a hip town with heaps of artists and small little neighborhoods centered around the various hills that surround the horseshoe port of Valaparaiso. Horse, I learned this week, is eaten now and again like dried horse jerky here in Chile...

Above are a few selections from my first few days... A skilled juggler outside of the Museo des Belles Artes in Santiago. A sample of beautiful Valaparaiso graffitti. One of the many antique (and still working) acsensors that help folks ascend the steep Valparaiso hills (a view outside during the day and inside at night). And of course, a nighttime vista of Valaparaiso from my little room at the home I stayed at.

More goodness and a tale of crema manana...

love and health to all...