Friday, July 28, 2006

the myths of medillín

i'm reporting here from medellín, colombia. the city is very modern and new. it's this way from all the money it took in during the 80's from the pablo escobar drug cartel (see photos of his grave below). most people know it for it's cocaine wars and street violence that resulted from that. nowadays, it's trying (as well as all of colombia) to shake its reputation as a dangerous and violent place. in the past, pablo escobar ran the city. today, plastic surgeons run the city as you end up seeing in the many fake breasts and facial modifications. and yes, even the girls without augmentation are all incredibly beautiful.
no fooling.
in other news, the city has an excellent metro system, and even built a cable car that goes up past the poor shantytowns. it's weird, i'm used to being on a gondola at a ski resort, not overlooking the poor, orange-colored favelas. (for proof, check out photos below)
colombia has been quite a pleasant surprise. i'll admit that i've had some trepidations about this place due to it's violent past and the guerrilla f.a.r.c. in the outer parts of the country. but the fact is that it's one of the friendliest countries i've ever been to. the people are warm and friendly and always tell you to enjoy their country. being an american citizen hasn't been a problem so far. the nightlife in medillín is incredible. it's easy to strike up conversations, and people are not shy to start talking to you. in about 3-5 years, i bet it will be more like bolivia, or maybe even peru, where it's a hotspot on the backpacker trail. it's already heading that direction.
so if you've got the means to visit, definitely do so. travel here is quite cheap. the one downside is that the cheese here is terrible. it's this white, plastic-y tasting thing. yuk. anyway, you've been warned.
pablo escobar's grave

gondola to the shantytown

RENdom photo of the day

as seen 3 nights before in the tiny coffee town of salento. the paper football sized exploding game of tejo starring yours truly. for those keeping score, i managed to make one explode on the big court that's 60 feet long. i'm going pro yo.

tossing tejos in salento
salento, colombia

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I love New York!

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RENdom photo of the day

your everyday market statue
bus ride siam reap, cambodia

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

back in the land of high speed internet, here in medellín, colombia, after spending 5 nights in the coffee region. quite chill, relaxing and the exploding gunpowder game of tejo (promise pictures later this week).
anyway, back to the RENdom photo of the day.

seals on ice

The South is Going to do it Again

morgan, Charleston, SC, USA:

It's been a while since I have been in the South East. Flew into Tampa, FL and spent a couple of days an hour north with family in Homosassa, FL. Drove to St. Augustine, FL to spend a couple of days with close family friends (great beach city), lunch in Savannah, GA on our way for a one night stay in Charleston, SC. Then inland to Raleigh, NC for a couple-o-day family visit before heading to the outer banks of NC for a family reunion. Then I have to somehow get to New York City.

Anyway, as a New York yank- and I don't mean a member of the baseball team but a non-southerner- I have stereotypes of the South that I am truly trying to see beyond but they keep surfacing. Of course, we are traveling relatively quickly down here and as I am not writing an in depth story or shooting a documentary, my interactions are fairly surface level, but they persist. Two observations that are omnipresent, from Florida to South Carolina, where I am currently, are the overwhelming "Southern" hospitality and the ever present Confederate flag. The third, slightly less obvious, but to the watching eye prolific, is the support for our war in Iraqi. Though this is a blog, I'm not going to spout about my opinions on these observations (at least not yet), just that I experience them everywhere I turn, and despite the row after row of chain store malls that are stripping American towns and cities of any unique flavor (there's an opinion for ya), there still are differences between us, thank the gods.

Oh, and there are lots of really big (personal) trucks and many very good looking woman.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mt. Lassen hike

Escaping the 114 degree heat in Northern California, today was fulfilled by tackling the 10,457 ft. volcano named Mount Lassen. The base of the volcano (active through the year 1921) holds a few large ice sheets, of which some are still 10 feet thick. Yup, it's sulfur time. Getting past that funky smell reveals pockets of icemelt that peek through the snow. Around their edges are a bright pink algea. Most importantly, the cool air falling off of the mountain was quite welcome-- nearly 40 degrees cooler than our departure town of Chico.


last 24 hours in salento, colombia

The Colombian Gun Powder Game 9:30PM
We've all played target games. For example horseshoes, or shuffleboard, or bocce. It's a pretty simple concept. You try to get the horseshoe or ball close to the target. So let me introduce you to Tejo. Similar concept. Players aim for a target about 15 yards away. Each player gets a weighted metal disk and aims for a paper target in a hardpacked mud box about 3 feet by 3 feet wide. Do you remember paper football back in high school. That's what the paper target looks like, a triangular paper football. So basically you throw this metal disk about the size of half a large orange, and weighing about 3 lbs. underhand towards the target 15 yards away, aiming for the paper football looking thing in a pile of mud. Whoever is closest gets 6 points. But the best part is, you can get 9 points if your disk lands on the paper target. If it lands on the paper target, the target explodes because it is filled with gunpowder.
How was this game formed?? Who thought of this?
Were they playing this game similar to horseshoes and were bored with the sound of metal just hitting paper? Did they all have extra gun powder lying around and needed something to do with it?
Either way, we played, and it was really difficult and a tad bit muddy on the hands. But in the end we all hit the target once, and all got to have the feeling of setting off a triumphant explosion. Of course we were playing the shorter course which is half the size of the normal course, so it was a bit easier. It's quite intimidating walking into a tejo court. People are chucking metal disks in the air which could give you a pretty big concussion. If they miss the mud target and hit the metal box holding the mud, it makes this loud metal on metal clanking sound. And of course if they hit the target, it sounds like someone shot a shotgun. And oh yeah, on a Saturday night, all the players are drinking. I'm not sure whether this adds a level of skill, or danger, or probably a bit of both.

Salsa in Salento's main plaza 11PM
Solento has a great plaza. Good scale, nice views, and filled with lots of fun loving Colombians. One fun loving kid, age 18, known as 'burro' (donkey) forced me and the two girls I was with to join him and his friends to sit and drink with them. On weekends in the plaza the restaurants and cafes set up tables in the street and blast music. We all sat around drinking aguadate which is a clear black licorice tasting strong liquor. It's Colombia's national drink. We also all danced salsa outdoors. 'Burro' was particularly wasted and got a bit upset when we didn't want to drink anymore or go to another bar. But we appeased him by telling him we'd meet him the next day in the plaza. Not sure though whether he realizes that the girls I was with were leaving the next day. Oh well.

Canadian virgin 2AM
Tried to kiss a girl after chatting in her room for 2 hours. Found out not only was she a vigin, but at 23 years old, has never been kissed before. She's waiting to meet the right person. Fine, but for kissing?? Never knew such a person existed in this day and age. Especially a girl who has dreadlocks. Seems like an oxymoron.

The coffee region noon the next day
Hiked down a road with Sophia, Riki and Monique, and of course Valeria, the hostel owner's 11 year old daughter/guide. We went to an organic coffee finca (farm). Small operation with animals everywhere, coffee beans, crops, etc. Old guy gave us a tour and even caught him on video. Wasn't terribly exciting but interesting to know that this organic farm sells beans to the US.

Saving a life 2PM
The five us were walking down a dirt country road along a barbed wire fence. We were heading to the main road to catch a bus back to the hostel. On the other side of the fence was the Nabarco River/stream. There were a bunch of Colombianos swimming, sunbathing and eating and drinking. The Dutch girl Monique was walking behind me when she said,
"How do I get in here (through the fence)!! I know first aid!"
We all thought she wanted to go swim in the river.
"How do I get in!"
I saw a slight opening in the fence that she could crawl under to get through, and I pointed it out to her. Out of the corner of my eye, I realized what was happening. A woman was being carried out of the water by her arms and legs. Monique was trying to get through the fence to give her CPR and save her. One of the women around the drowned girl was hysterical. She was shaking the drownded girl, screaming, not letting go of her, and basically getting in Monique's way who was trying to save her. Eventually other Colombianos pulled the hysterical lady out of the way. The four of us behind the fence watching kept thinking and saying "C'mon, c'mon, snap out of it. C'mon, come back to life". It was a tense situation. You could feel it in the air. It seemed like 15 minutes had passed. Finally, the girl gurgled out some vomit and water and came back to life. Apparently she had been drinking a bunch of aguadente, slipped on one of the rocks and drowned.
It made me think of just how precious life is.
It made me think of how petty my complaints are.
It made me think how no one deserves to die at such a young age.
It made me think how life can change on a dime.
It made me think of how fragile life is.
It made me think of how anyone could actually take another person's life.
It made me think of how we all need to make the most out of every day.
It made me think. It grounded me.
We were all so relieved that the girl was OK. Monique was a lifeguard at one point and that's why she knew first aid. After the whole incident, Monique mentioned that she's used to having help around her, people calling an ambulance, and so on. Now she felt the pressure was all onn her and this girl's life was totally in her hands. She started to tear and was shaking a bit, which is totally understandable. Luckily she performed as good or as better as anyone could in that situation. Monique did tell the girl she should go see a doctor just in case of water in her lungs. Unfortunately as is typical of Colombia, they couldn't afford to go to a hospital. So we all just hope she'll be fine. That's what I had to keep telling Monique who felt responsible for her well being. The reality is that even if Monique or any of us gave her money for a doctor, odds are that the money would never get to a doctor. Monique is pretty much a hero, and in all of my travels, this was the nicest act of kindness I've ever witnessed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

RENdom independence photos of the day

do you know what the 20th of july is?
yep, it's colombian independence day. saw the independence day parade here in bogotá. here are some photos of the red yellow and blue.
did you know that in colombia, on the day before independence day, at 6 pm,you can no longer by liquor anywhere. not at bars, not at liquor stores, not at grocery stores. can you believe that??!?!?!
i mean, it's colombia of all places!!
yep, it's dry until 11 pm the next day. so that's 29 hours of dry colombia. you would think that of all places that would party during their independence, it would be colombia. but no. crazy but true.
anyway, i'll be in the hills of coffee country for awhile, in salento, just in between bogotá and meddelín. so i'll be updating my travels sometime next week. in the meantime, enjoy the photos, stay safe, and may the force be with you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

orange mushrooms in the jungle
parque nacional madidi, bolivia

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

RENdom first photos of colombia

here are the first few pictures of bogotá colombia. here's the sunday flea market just down the hill from our hostel.

view of bogotá after climbing up to a church at the top of the hill. bogotá is the 8th largest city in south am, and just seems to keep going and going and going.

the cathedral, a bike, and a bunch of pigeons.

colonial architecture photo of the architecure thingys.

went to the fernando botero museum. this guy paints everything fat. i'm not kidding, and i don't know why. all the women, men, guerillas, presidents, horses, fruit, everything, you name it, he paints them as obese characters. i don't know why. maybe he's really skinny and has got an obsession of things opposite of him.

we have wonder bread, they have bread for bimbo's.

ever have the problem of trying to figure what pasta to cook with which wine. now your problem's are solved where you get red wine, white wine, and linguine in one handy package.

and uncle sam is popular here, according to this recruiting stencil.

transmitting, sort of live
bogotá, colombia

Monday, July 17, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

there´s something about landing in a foreign place that stimulates the senses. you don't know your way around, it's new places, new faces, new smells and sounds, the fear of the unknown. but then after an hour, when you can finally put your backpack down, you just settle in. had all those feelings after landing here in bogotá colombia, after spending a month at home (and also a couple of nights in buenos aires, but that didn´t count since i stayed at a friend's house and i know the city). but now, i'm pretty settled in here. the people are warm and friendly. bogotá is a big city, and it's at about 8000 ft in elevation, so it stays pretty cool all the time. so far all the colombian stereotypes i've found to be untrue. but i've only been here for 2 days, so we'll have to wait and see. anyway, planning on going to soltero after a couple days here to visit a coffee plantation. then probably medellín and cartegna. anyway, here's my photo of the day -

iguassu falls,
foz de iguazu, brasil y argentina

Sunday, July 16, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

hola amigos -
globbing here from bogotá colombia. can´t really tell you much about the place since i arrived here late at around 7pm. was really exhausted since i only had 3 hours of sleep the night before, and the old lady in the seat behind me had to make it a point to pust on my seat every 5 minutes. it wouldn't be bad if you wanted an alarm clock every 5 minutes, otherwise it was quite contradictary to trying to get sleep. ended up going out last night till about 2am which is pretty tame according to south american standards. they have this beer with 3 different shots thrown in it for about 2 dollars. a couple of them will get you pretty loopy real quick. how´s that for discovering culture here.
anyway, here´s the photo of the day which has nothing to do with colombia.

scottish cottage
loch lomond, scotland

Saturday, July 15, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

well my pitstop is done here in buenos aires.
spent most of the time working on the guidebook, but did manage to go out last night with some old porteno friends. in case you didn't know it, portenos stay out late at night.
really really late at night.
i'm feeling it now, and not looking forward to the flight to colombia.
anyway, enough whining. not sure how long i'll be able to keep the RENdom photo of the day going, since i probably won't have access to internet everyday. but i will do everything humanly possible to maintain this free customer service that global transmission subscribers all enjoy. thanks for all your feedback!

wat phra kaew
bangkok, thailand

Friday, July 14, 2006

so who is Che Pelotas???

here are some photos of his past and present that will help answer the question

and che pelotas, today:

RENdom photo of the day from Buenos Aires AR

well, i'm back in buenos aires. below is the photo of the day, nighttime in buenos aires.
after a 3 hour delay in houston, and a crowded redeye flight, i'm here in palermo for a couple nights. (thanks renee for letting me crash in your place - she's a fantastic tango dancer in san diego and you can learn more about her (((here)))

so not much has changed here in buenos aires.
just a bit colder. it is winter down here after all.
it's actually a nice change, since i've been here previouslywhen it's been unbearably hot - 35 degrees celsius (about 104 F).
the trees are without leaves, and the gray color outside reminds me of new york.
i like it here this way. but other than that nothing much has changed.
portenos still talk with hand gestures.
there still attentive and very engaging in conversations.
traffic is still bad in the city.
dinner still doesn't start till 8, 9 or 10 pm.
there's still broken sidewalks and dogshit in the streets.
and yes, the women are still very, very, very beautiful here.
here are links to my past buenos aires blogs from earlier in the trip, the good and the bad : (((dec05))), (((jan06))) and you can see some phtotos here (((feb06)))

i caught a cab today and spoke spanish with the driver.
forgot how fast they speak out here, and how strong there accent is.
was able to communicate though, and the driver said i spoke pretty well which i took as a compliment.
afterwards i had a big headache from trying to think in spanish.

so here i am. will be here for 2 more days, then fly off to bogota on saturday.
come back on august 15th for another month in buenos aires, global transmission style.
and everything will be subject to filming.

avenida 9 de julio
buenos aires, argentina

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

transmitting from buenos aires, argentina.
it's only fitting that today's photo should be a photo of the paris of south america.

nighttime tango in san telmo
buenos aires, argentina

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

global transmission in transition

on my way to buenos aires right now, waiting for my connection in beautiful bush international airport in houston, texas. flight to buenos aires is delayed by 2 hours, so i plugged in my computer since there's wi-fi here, and now i'm typing this.
well global transmission is all about bringing the world as we travel it to the viewers at home, so let me tell you what exotic things i see.............hmmm, let's see.
lots of people eating potato chips.
environment is a comfortable air conditioned 71 degrees fahrenheit.
stores with lots of lights.
family waiting for their flight to buenos aires as well......their kids are out of control....mental note : gonna need to put ritalin in their bag of lays.
airport is a sterile looking environment. lots of texans here with texas accents. go figure.
i wonder if anyone notices my 'disobey' sticker on my computer with bushes face on it. (((click here to see what i'm talking about))) this is after all booooosh country.
so as you can see for yourself, lots and lots is happening here in the first field report in houston (phonetically pronounced you-stun). i'll continue taking notes and will report what else i see here before heading to buenos aires and colombia. obviously there are many potential stories to write about here. like the three tv sets right next to each other that's making me trip.
left tv set: baseball show with don mattingly and some old guy
middle tv set: cnn reporter who looks like chevy chase. man his career has tapered off.
right tv set: car commercial, guy hugging his kids. wife drives away. obviously, this makes me want to go buy a ford suv like the commercial shows. their marketing ploy has worked.
.......god, is my flight ready yet.........titas signing off.

yep, the departure begins. thanks for the nine lives san francisco. time to move on. a cross country visage of old ghosts while steering the razor's edge towards the south, companeros await. this will happen, providing my fucking airline doesn't go totally bankrupt. either way, we'll all be in touch even if you don't know it.
- Che Pelotas
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RENdom photo of the day + then some

well folks, after a brief pitstop back home in san francisco for a month, i'm off again to travel the world. it's hard work, but someone has to do really, i'm being times it can be tough.
anyway, today i fly into buenos aires for a couple days, then i get onto a plane hungover on saturday morning off to bogota, colombia. will spend a month there and in cartegena, relaxing and finishing writing up the guidebook for explore travel guides, the buenos aires edition. (((click mouse here))) after that i rendezvous with the rest of the global transmission (((click mouse here))) putos in buenos aires. we got a place in the wonderful barrio of san telmo for a month, and from what the pictures look like, it looks pretty damn dope. which when mixed with the globtrans crew translates into peligroso. but all seriousness aside, we'll be down there to do some serious work. we've got a bunch of ideas floating around for projects to shoot in buenos aires - check out the production section of our website. i'm hoping to keep up the RENdom photo of the day, since judging by the 0 (zero - cero - nada) comments i've received, it's obviously really popular. however, with internet spotty in some parts, and about as fast as snail mail, that might be an aggresive task.
but before i take off, todays RENdom photo of the day is dedicated to the city by the bay, my away from home, home, san francisco.

love parade,
san francisco, california

oh and as a bonus shot. this is che pelotas, our undercover agent in buenos aires. of course now that i revealed his true identity, he will chameleon-ize into another completely looking different personality. he's very slick, so what you see in this photo is not who you will see the next time you see him. if you think you see him, don't approach him. he's very, very, very dangerous.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

RENdom photo of the day

hue, vietnam

Monday, July 10, 2006

GTM Together- Then Apart

Ren graced our presence for about a month, just long enough to catch a bunch of the World Cup matches at the Mad Dog in the Fog on Haight Street before flying back down to South America. Alex and I have some loose ends to close before joining Ren across the equator, but it won't be long...

Final Days in California

Six full days left in Chico- in all of California for that matter. Trying to pack, sell stuff, wrap up my life here and finish editing Life of a Comic Book Artist: Andy Ristaino. Andrew has been doing much of the editing while I take photos of possessions to post on So much to do, so little time.

RENdom photo of the day

in all fairness to france, i think i should post a french photo like i did for italy (see photo here)for winning the world cup in honor of one of the best footballers zinedine zidane who played his last professional game ever. but zizzou, what the hell where you thinking?
sacre cour
paris, france

Sunday, July 09, 2006


The last hurrah (Bruinslair, pictured here) before the last harrah (I'm traveling from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to New York City with my two sisters, two brother-in-laws and my nephew visiting family and friends) before flying to Argentina with the GTM crew to shoot some docs. Alex and I were joined by Christin, Sabrina and Naomi at the undisclosed location known as Bruinslair. Four days (in my case five) of hiking, swimming, dancing to DJ's, camping and other debauchery that shouldn't be mentioned here.

More Bruinslair Photos