Author Archives: beto

160110

this morning i searched (and found) the bakery for le fournil (the other places just sold the bread). the bakery is near the airport, in the outskirts of the city. the business park features organizations like FedEx, Rolex, FlowValve, etc. the area outside the business park is probably one of the more dangerous areas of santiago….but to me it looked like one of the safer areas of panama city, teguicigalpa, etc. instead of finding a quaint little bakery, i found a massive steel building with the logo of Breden Master. Le Fournil’s bread is still good, but it’s lost some of that charm. Breden Master sells their products under a number of different labels. i tried getting a tour or a job….but i was rejected. finally, after loitering around the reception for 30min, i got a phone number and email of some higher ups in the Breden Master bureaucracy. this afternoon i went to an indoor rock climbing gym. there were some very good climbers and i expect that this is one of the better gyms in Santiago (and thus Chile). The bouldering section was nice and big. The climbing area, though, had a few surprising differences from those in the US (and australia, according to the guy i went with). first, you don’t have to take a test to begin climbing (for liability reasons, in the us you always have to prove that you know how to belay, tie the knots, etc.) second, the climbing section had no floor padding (in the us, they always have some sort of foam/rubber). third, the gym was surprisingly cheap ($5 for an all-day pass). granted the gym was not as big or nice as the ones i’ve gone to in the states, but it was still fun.

160064

note: location is santiago, chile

today started off slow. i ended up calling the very nice secretary at Universidad Catolica and she told me to hop on over. they seem to be the nicest university in santiago (they’re semi-private). there, i met with one guy and then hung around waiting for others to finish lectures, etc. it was nice hanging out with gloria, though….she’s really friendly and helpful. then, she arranged a meeting with another prof there….who seems smart and has the first exciting projects i’ve seen in all of chile! it turns out that they also have a vacancy. with such promising results, i rushed over the us embassy to learn about getting a work visa (and how to deal with the sentra) — they’re closed in the afternoon…so more on that tomorrow.

finally, i went to another meeting with an organization that i’ve been talking to over the last couple weeks. every meeting they lose a little more respect…especially at this one. but they mean well, so i’ll keep working with them…and maybe something good will come from it.

172676

well, i ran through some of my expenses. although i did save most of my credit/debit card receipts, i didn’t keep very accurate records (…i still have to go through my shopping bag of balled up papers). it seems that during the 6 month trip, i spent about $15,000. about 1/3 of the total was spent on transportation:

1) shipping the car (panama to ecuador): $1500 + another couple hundred in bribes to expedite the process
2) two flights: last minute from Panama to Ecuador ($500) & Sao Paulo to San Francisco ($450 + 35k frequent flyer)
3) gasoline: $3,000 spent on 900 gallons of fuel

fuel prices were more or less stable throughout the trip, with the obvious exceptions being Ecuador and Brazil. In Ecuador, I used super (high altitude caused engine knock), which brought up the average price (even with super, it was still the cheapest). Brazil, on the other hand was very expensive:

172675

note: mile counter is wrong

ADMIN NOTE:
over the next few weeks, i’ll hopefully be processing data gathered from the trip and posting it on sentradiaries…..stuff like the timelapse pictures (taken every 30 sec) or detailed gas mileage.
also, i may be having a sentradiaries reception in san francisco. if you want to attend, shoot me an email at beto@sentradiaries.com & i’ll be sure to include you in the invitation (if it happens).
in the meantime, here are a few stats from the trip:

MILES DRIVEN: _________ 27,395 miles (172,673 – 145,278…..plus another 50ish miles, when I drove with a broken odometer)

FUEL EFFICIENCY:______ 30.9 mpg (27,395 miles / 886.8 gal)

AD REVENUE:___________ $10

BRIBES PAID:__________ $60 and half a bag of granola

172674

note: mile counter is wrong

this morning i took a bus from curitiba to sao paulo. ironically (or perhaps not), it is also the first time that i’ve seen the brazilian highway patrol do anything. as in most latin american countries, instead of driving around, the officers simply have checkpoints. however, i’ve never seen them stop anybody…in fact, before today, i’d never even seen them!

well, they stopped the bus for over an hour…..looked through our luggage and interviewed all of us. once, while traveling back from a case study at my medical device job, the airport security asked me what i was transporting…..i kept thinking ‘don’t say biohazard, don’t say biohazard’….and, of course, i said ‘biohazard’. today, the police officer inquired that i had entered through foz do iguacu. i was thinking ‘just say ‘yes”….but, because i’m stupid, i told him that i had driven there and then had to spend a few minutes describing the trip and how i had given the car to the receita federal the day prior, show him the papers, etc. it could have been worse, though, since four of the passengers on our bus were apprehended by the police for further questioning.

the rest of the trip was pretty routine. as sara said, the airport bus is very overpriced ($20 for a 20min ride….whereas the 6 hour ride from curitiba to sao paulo was $40). the airplanes all left on time and customs was ridiculously easy (i thought i would be stopped and interrogated by homeland security). air canada seems to have friendlier staff, better service and owns nicer planes than united (air canada: sao paulo –> toronto, united: toronto –> chicago –> san francisco). at one point the stewardess described the ravioli dinner as ‘actually, quite nice’. i don’t like when people call food ‘nice’ — it’s a meal, not a person or the weather outside. also, the pasta was not nice….if anything it was pretty rude.

pics:

pretty bold anti-smoking warnings on the packs for sale at sao paulo duty free. at what point do the warnings go from scary to ‘cool’ (as if to say that a normal person couldn’t handle smoking)

this wifi logo is trademarked (see the ‘tm’?). they also had these in argentina. are they associated with a certain provider?

air canada’s 1st class is pretty nice. coach wasn’t too bad either.

172673

what a day! (i’m still a bit emotional, so may rewrite this post at a later date)

i wrote this around 11am today:
another day, another dollar. getting rid of ushi has been much harder than it should have been. much of the fault lies with myself….for talking to the wrong people (and even worse, believing them). today, i was ready to head back down to iguazu….but gabriel came through at the last minute. we spoke to a guy at the receita federal who said there was a way to transfer the car for free (….although, if you account for the last week i’ve wasted in curitiba, it’s been a bit pricey). so, another day here. i’m so frustrated. it’s a shame that this experience with incompetent brazilians will foul my memories of the country. but, a huge thanks to gabriel! especially true in latin america, it’s all about talking to the right people.

this part was written later today

the receita official told us to provide two forms: one written by gabriel stating that he would pay any fines associated with ushi (in case there were any pending ones, in which case i would reimburse him) and another from some legal person stating that i was handing over permission of the vehicle to the brasilian government. well, gabriel got a friend to do the legal part….but he was really busy….and by 4pm, we still didnt have it. (receita closes at 5pm).

so, i just decided to go over to receita to plea my case: i’m giving them a car for free. i’ve been in curitiba for 1 stressful week already. i don’t want to spend the weekend here unless i know that this process will work. so, i begged and begged. finally, we spoke to the head of receita in curitiba. and, eventually, they said ok! who would have ever thought i would be so happy to be parting with ushi….and for free.

so, at 4:48pm (local time) and at mile 172,673 sentradiaries is over!

——————————–

it’s hard to think back on the beginning of this trip. every day has been a new experience and, after a while, everything just blends together. i vaguely remember where i’ve been and rarely know where i’m going….in fact, the only thing that i’ve always known is where ushi and i are (in the present). as i stand here today, handing over the keys of my trusty companion, it’s hard. i understand that car’s are inanimate, but ushi has been like a security blanket. anywhere i’ve been, ushi’s been there for me. and now, i’m handing over the car to a stranger.

when i first proposed the trip, most people thought i was crazy. when we began the trip, most thought ushi would die far short of ushuaia. on the contrary, the trip has been a great (and expensive) experience and ushi has held up masterfully. who thought a sentra could drive through a flooded street and survive? or up through the high-altitude andes (twice!)? ushi is a tough little car. which reminds me: i always complained that nissan sentra’s have no character. they’re simple, small and look just like the honda civic, toyota something-or-other, etc. i never really minded too much, though; and, actually kinda enjoyed not having to worry about dents/scratches. i also learned a great deal about car mechanics (how to replace brakes, fuel filters, etc.).

but, after this trip, i see ushi in a different light. most cars would have died long ago (or been too expensive to repair). most cars would be too nice/fancy to drive through the terrain we did. plus, ushi now has the tattoos to prove it.

it’ll be hard to find another car to drive. i’d feel a bit like i was cheating on ushi. i might just have to bike for a year or two until i’m physically (i’m really out of shape after driving for 6 months) and emotionally ready….plus, the environment could use a break. hopefully by the time i’m ready, yush will have already bought a new car.

p.s.–a big thanks to my parents for gifting me the car several years ago

172655

today i spent the whole day at the police station chasing after false leads for donating the car. really frustrating. especially when i came home to find 2 emails from friends with good alternatives. i’m going to try to explore those tomorrow.

i’m really disappointed in the brasilian legal system. that said, i also understand it completely. charity is a tricky thing…..in the short term it’s great, but in the long term it can be harmful to development. for instance, donating shirts to africa is great, but it also puts the local shirt makers out of business (how can they compete with free?). clearly my case is an anomaly and the legal system can’t account for crazy people who decide to drive from san francisco. i’m just frustrated because so far brazil doesn’t seem to have an ‘out’ for the sentra.

here’s something interesting…..when brazilians say the number ‘6’, they say ‘meia’ (not sure if i spelled it right)….meaning ‘half’. so for a phone number, they’ll say: five, three, three, ‘half’, two, etc…..

 

172654

first nissan. now the police. still have the car. not sure what to do with ushi or where to go next.

upset. frustrated. disappointed.

172653

i hate packing. it’s especially tough when trying to pack a carload into a bag. luckily, there’s very little that i really need. in fact, except for a small bag of stuff….the rest is just $$. should i bring back a $60 car battery booster? (it’s a huge battery that can be used to jumpstart a car) how about $150 worth of jerry cans? (they’re huge) a $30 car jack? …the list goes on….

being a jew (…and apparently a bit anti-semitic), it’s a bit hard to just give up all this money….but i’m also american (and thus lazy….and, apparently, a bit racist). so, i’ll pack as much as i can. the rest, i gave to sara and gabriel, my brother’s friends who took me out tonight in curitiba.

here’s something i’ve seen very rarely…but twice in brasil (curitiba and sao paulo): a large road (4+ lanes) with a divider. the divider splits the very large road into two smaller parallel roads…..which communicate with each other every few blocks. what’s the point of this? does it reduce accidents? make traffic flow faster?

172652

well, the federal police seem to be handling the paperwork extremely quickly….what a relief! unfortunately, now, i’m beginning to feel a bit sad to be parting with ushi. well, maybe guilty is a better way to describe the emotion.

when i was in elementary school, our guinea pig, Porter, birthed a litter of guinea piglets. we tried to give them away to friends and family….but we still had quite a few left. eventually, we found a pet store willing to take them. as we were walking out of the pet shop we realized something: there were no furry pets there….just snakes and reptiles.

as i prepare to hand over ushi to the homicide division of the federal police force in curitiba, i can’t help but feel a similar emotion. somehow i don’t see the police driving ushi around the favelas (where apparently there are 6 homicides/day….mostly crack related).