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They Call Me John Denver (R.I.P.)

Well, it has now been over 6 months on the road and in 5 short days I will be Leaving on a Jet Plane and making my way back home, flying with equal parts excitement and sorrow. With over 25,000 hits on this website during my trip, though, I am hoping perhaps another blind stumble through a foreign continent is in my near future.

Probably the most impressive part of my trip has had to be the South Americans' consistent ability to wow me with their seemingly incomprehensible system of travel. After a half year here I would have thought that not much of the standard insanity of South American travel would remain particularly impressive but, alas, I had to applaud the great wealth of nonsense again this morning.

I hopped on the local bus to take the 25 km ride into downtown this morning, hoping to get on the internet and buy some things in town. The first 22 km went smoothly, as usual, but then I noticed that not only were we no longer moving but that we hadn't, in fact, moved in about 15 minutes. It turns out that to come into town from any other part of the island the buses need to make a u-turn on a freeway. Of course. Overpasses are for losers, anyway. Vehicles were lined up in a queue over 2 km long hoping to find a miniscule gap in traffic into which they might make an insanely quick u-turn. But this was on a freeway, in rush hour traffic, in a city of over 1 million people. That is to say, there were never any gaps. People were literally driving over low medians if they thought they had a shot at it, and fleets of buses, 6 or 7 strong, would barge into traffic making huge loops in a futile effort to deliver commuters before their work day ended. About every 5 minutes 3 vehicles would manage to make it into the opposite lane but then nothing again. More frustrating was the fact that you knew you were only a 20 minute walk from your destination but the bus driver wouldn't let anyone off due to the fact that it would be depositing them in the middle of 3 lanes of traffic.

We were in line over an hour before we had crawled ahead the 2 km and done our circle. A small cheer rose from the passengers (either that or a murmured vow to kill all local politicians) and we arrived at the terminal, 25 km and 1 hour 45 minutes later. It is truly magical; they have managed to make even rush-hour traffic more inefficient! As I say, I am impressed.

Besides that, life here in Florianopolis remains serene and amazing. Staying in a resort area of the island called Ingleses, the weather has been generally fantastic and the beaches are all incredible - I think Stephanie and I have hit only 5 or 6 of the 42. We spent one night down at the beach, around 11 pm, watching local fisherman pull in huge nets from the sea, grunting and barefoot, in what seemed a very Hemingway-esque moment. Another highlight was walking to a distant beach and seeing a penguin sitting on the shore. It was quite peculiar seeing a lone arctic penguin on a luscious, beautiful, semi-tropical island; I just couldn't believe the luck of bumping into the world's smartest penguin!

Otherwise, the last week has slowed to a very intentional crawl (I try to keep my life at the same speed as the passing traffic) and I have been just relaxing and settling my mind in for the idea of going back home. A lot of them time has been spent reflecting on my trip, particularly the best parts of it. These include:

FAVOURITE COUNTRY: The nation of Brazilian sun, Brazilian beaches and Brazilian women. (Also occasionally referred to as "Brazil")

FAVOURITE PLACES: Tie. #1a: Ilha Grande, Brazil - Tropical Jungle, 102 beaches and a derelict, limping white horse that ate your garbage. What more could you want?

#1b: Huacachina, Peru - A crystal blue swimming pool, sandboarding on 200-foot dunes and a drunken feast on spit-roasted guinea pig, all around a natural oasis. What more could you want?

FAVOURITE CITY: Sucre, Bolivia - It was charming and tranquil and had the extra-special bonus of being at the tail-end of 60 horrible hours riding the bus. Victory by location.

BEST EVENT: The bike ride to Coroico, Bolivia - For the approximate price of 3 months in a Bolivian hotel, we were allowed to scare ourselves shitless by riding a bike down a dirt highway alongside a sheer face of 300-feet on what is considered the Most Dangerous Road in the World, as noted by number of annual fatalities on it. Worth every penny.

MOST INTERESTING THING LEARNED: The way you say "turkey", in Turkey, is "Peru".

LEAST INTERESTING THING LEARNED: That Canada in December is a whole whacka colder than Brazil in December.

On the way back to Rio tomorrow! Maybe this time Copacabana WILL be north of Havana...