Wednesday, February 28, 2007


You can watch the pilot episode of Outside the Box online, the current events program I edited for Link TV. Click here to watch.

Also, the episodes of What's Your Time Worth? that I edited are currently airing on Fine Living Channel. I edited Mobile Barber Shop, Snack Shack on Wheels, Helicopter Service, Mobile Car Service and Traveling Car Detailer.

Check 'em out!

Also my pal Lilia has her work up at City Art Gallery. The opening party is on Friday. Check her out!

Monday, February 26, 2007

what do I do now?

I've been home for about a day and a half. Went on a bike ride yesterday between rainfalls. I saw a dead squirrel in the road and I felt sorry for it. He was so cute. By the time I rode back, the squirrel had been run over a few more times and barely resembled a squirrel anymore.

The word for squirrel in French is "ecureuil." Gabriela finds it hard to pronounce. I think it's one of the more beautiful words in French. I also like "grenouille" (meaning frog). Another all time favorite is "pamplemousse" (so much nicer than grapefruit, which has nothing at all to do with grapes).

So now that I'm home, I feel like I have never left. I'm hanging out in my pyjamas until noon. I am surfing the net and listening to KCRW. My room is a mess. I haven't brushed my teeth yet. I guess it's logical that I'd need a couple days to unwind, but I feel that after my excellent adventure, I should have somehow changed, and should not fall back in the same old routine. Somehow I should have new insight and clarity and change everything. Or maybe I'll continue to do the same things and simply see things differently.

When I was out on my bike ride yesterday, the afternoon sun filtered through the redwoods and hit them in a way that made me wish I had my camera on me. When I'm in West Marin, I feel like I'm on vacation every day. I was imagining if I was in the hills in Panama on horseback, and if this landscape was what my guide was showing me. I would have been very impressed, and felt the same pangs of wanting my own 3 acres.

I have traveled a lot in my years. And consistently, ever since I was young, I have maintained the opinion that San Francisco and Marin are great places to return to, great places to call home.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

still moving

(final email to my pals from panama)

it´s my last day of my trip, so please don´t think i´ve gotten lost in some cave or a lonely beach or at the bottom of a river or stuck in a gutter somewhere in panama completely drunk if you don´t receive any more of these emails for a while... i´m going to be back at my mom´s in marin county as of tomorrow, and probably won´t send out a travelogue for a while (at least not until my next excellent adventure).

Carnaval was fun, even though i ended up with a fever. Estelle and Katia from San Francisco joined the dynamic duo for the festivities and we went to Penonome, where instead of floats throwing beads to shirtless girls, you get hosed down by a water truck. Reminded me more of burning man than any carnaval experience i´ve ever had. everyone was of course drunk in the streets. I laid off the booze for the most part because i was still getting over my sickness. after carnaval, we went back to gabriela´s beach house, which i´ve been hearing about for 17 years. it turned out that her pals from high school had coincidentally rented the house next door, so we continued the party the next day by the beach, and decided to blow off going to a crowded drunken wet street party and stay put. it was nice and relaxing, sipping bloody marys while swinging in a hammock overlooking the pacific... haven´t had any days like that in so far on this trip.

Yesterday i took a solo day-trip to a town called Santa Fe up in the mountains. it was beautiful and cool, a nice break from the hot sun at sea level. i went horseback riding again, and my guide was trying to sell me 3 acres of land. he kept asking me to imagine my cabin overlooking the mountain range at almost every turn. I must say, it was always quite an inticing image.

Most nights when I´ve been on some crazy adventure here, when I go to bed at night, I can still feel the motion of my activities earlier that day--be it river rafting, horseback riding, snorkeling, or simply riding in the back of a 4 wheel drive over some rocky roads. I wonder why our bodies hang on to the feeling of movement when you´re lying still in a dark room...

Feb 17, 2007

I'm in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro at the moment. I've been here for 2 days and now I'm off to Panama City to go celebrate Carnaval with my pals.

This morning I went on probably the most unique experience on this trip, and definitely one of the most memorable vacation experiences. I went on a tour of a cave on one of the islands. This guy Oscar was our guide, and he is one of the only locals that knows the cave. We walked about 400 meters deep into the cave, sometimes through water that came up to our necks and a couple times had to duck underneath stalagmites and were totally submerged in water. We were equipped with helmets and headlights and got to see the bats, scorpions and crickets that all live in the cave. There was even one albino bat. At one point we all turned our headlamps off and got to feel how dark it really is in the cave. I admit that I was a little petrified and kept begging Oscar to turn our lights back on again. The limestone formations were unbelievable and like I said, this was probably the most excellent adventure thus far, although the 3 am stroll along the beach was more frightening.

On the way out of the cave we saw the elusive red frog, just one, and it is so small, about the size of your thumbnail. Oscar said they are all that small. We also saw 3 sloths, one of them had a baby sloth holding onto its tummy.

Yesterday I went snorkeling, and it was nice, although I totally spaced on putting sunscreen on my back and now am fried on one side. Ugh!

Chiriqui was lots of fun, despite being harassed by my tour guide. I guess since I'm a solo female traveler I'm just a target for harassment. Anyway, went on the white water rafting trip. We were doing class 3 to class 5 rapids. I fell out of the raft 4 times, and have the black and blue marks to show for it. The river was drier than usual, and so every time we hit a rock I went bouncing off into the water. Our guide Osvaldo was excellent at his rescue skills because once again, I live to tell. I kept thinking of that Tubthumping song.

We went hiking in the mountains, but didn't see any quetzal birds. The guide and some of the other travelers I met had seen them two days in a row on the same hike, but we were not so lucky I guess you can't be lucky every day.

So meanwhile here in Bocas del Toro, I've been staying on an island called Bastimentos, and I practically know everyone there in only 2 days. Imagine, a week here and I would become a local!

Only about 1 week left on this crazy adventure and then it's back to Cali, and searching for a way to replenish my bank account, but we won't think about that until Carnaval is over.

Feb 12, 2007

Today i´m in a town called Boquete in the Chiriqui province of Panama close to the Costa Rican border. It is gorgeous here. I just arrived about 2 hours ago. I´m just getting settled and trying to book some activities. Will go white water rafting tomorrow, and the next day hopefully go hiking. We shall see!

This morning I had a surreal experience as I had to get up at 3 am and walk 40 minutes along the beach across sand and rock with a dead flashlight (I resorted to using my ipod) to catch a truck that would take me to where i could catch a bus to another bus. I was in punta burica, about 1.5 kilometers from Costa Rica, and the trucks only went out at low tide because they drove along the shoreline (the only "road" out there). I was talking to god while I walked along in the dark, listening to jungle sounds and she reassured me that everything would be ok. I really shouldn´t have gone out to this remote spot, but when I read the description of this place called Mono Feliz (Happy Monkey) in my lonely planet guidebook, I couldn´t resist. Basically I camped with the monkeys! 3 species in fact: howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys. It was quite an experience and I really enjoyed it, even though I was kicking myself in the pants this morning and praying to god that I would live to see the light of day.

The guy who ran the place is this retired hippie dude from LA, former surfer and world traveler named Juancho. He was just as interesting as the monkeys! I think he thinks he´s a monkey. Think Grizzly Man. However, luck is on his side because no one has ever to my knowledge been mauled by a monkey. Anyway, the monkeys come right up and will eat banana out of your hand. Juancho also adopted a baby howler monkey who is only about 4 weeks old. She is literally attached to him and spends the entire day crawling on his arm, chest or head. She crawled on my head once and shit on it, and that was then end of my desire to hold her (even though she was a cutie!). Is monkey shit good luck too? We also met another dude who lives out there who runs a sea turtle refuge and owns a pet ocelot that he rescued from near death. She was a beautiful cat. She liked to lick your hand and suck on your thumb. I got to watch her eat raw chicken necks.

Before Mono Feliz, I went to a spa up in the mountains. The views were amazing. I hiked out to a waterfall that was about 100 ft tall and swam in the pool underneath. Quite spectacular. The next morning had an amazing shiatzu massage. Again, I felt as if I should have been on my honeymoon!

Feb 7, 2007

Im writing from a town called El Valle in the center of Panama. It is BEAUTIFUL here, but very low key, romantic even... and i feel like i should be here on my honeymoon! i should have pulled a carrie bradshaw and married myself before i left, so that way, my honeymoon would be official.

i arrived around noon yesterday, checked into my hotel, and then set off looking for the horse rental. i hopped on a truck full of bratty middle school boys and they were all laughing at me, as adolescents do. the horseback ride was fun, but not as fun and not nearly as spectacular as the one i took in Trinidad with Alexei. My horse, once again, had some mental problems and walked the majority of the time, even though i had asked for a caballo fuerte. it was a beautiful ride though. we saw terraced fields of watercress, and rode through a thicket of banana trees, alongside a river. we came to a prairie at the top of the mountain, took some photos and headed back down. i couldnt see them, but i could hear a symphony of tropical birds. i thought it best to keep my eye on the steep and narrow trail so i could still steer my horse (his name was Tornado... ha!). i was still trying to keep an eye out for wildlife because i was told all sorts of monkeys and sloths live on the mountain, when suddenly i saw a squirrel crawling up a banana tree, and at that very moment, he decided to jump from one tree to the next and nearly scared the wits out of me because he almost jumped right onto my face!

then it was time for my excellent adventure.

after the horseback ride, i thought i would relax my muscles by going to the hot springs here in town. i had just enough time to enjoy them before they closed. so i soothed my muscles for about a half an hour and then realized everyone was packing up and leaving. i went into the dressing room to change out of my bathing suit, and when i came out, everyone was gone, and the entrance gate was padlocked. i was stuck inside the thermal hotsprings!!! I waved my arms and yelled at passersby, but they were too far away to see or hear me. I thought about climbing the fence, but it had barbed wire across it. There had to be another way out! There were two villas on each side of the gate. One of them seemed to have a secret passageway to the outside world. After scouring through brush, I made it out onto a nicely groomed lawn, and hoped no one would see me and arrest me for trespassing (after all, the house was on the street called Avenida de Millionarios). I breezed through the gates and it seemed that I had escaped unscathed. I was so pleased with myself that I now knew how to sneak into the hot springs, that i wanted to make a mental note of the name of the villa that I just broke and entered. When I walked over to check the name, my feet slipped on some loose stones which made a big gash on my right shin and left hand. Ouch. But for future reference, if you would like to visit the hot springs in El Valle after hours, just look for the villa called Estancia and the secret entrance is in the left corner of their garden.

Thats about it for now. Im heading off to do a zip tour of the rainforest canopy.

Feb 5, 2007

today is my last night in panama city before i go on my excellent adventure. i could have left today, but after all the wedding festivities, i needed one day to unwind and figure out what my itinerary would look like.

the wedding was fantastic, as you can imagine a presidential wedding would be. the night before was the rehearsal dinner, which took place at the miraflores locks in the panama canal. I was in the middle of having my first cocktail when all of a sudden, i saw a huge cargo ship passing by. I rushed outside to see this engineering wonder of the world with my own eyes. When the locks open, the boats squeeze through with the help of these little tug-machines. I could have watched the ships pass all night long, but there were other things to do... like meet the president! Gab and I got our picture taken with him and shook his hand, which he's probably quite used to doing on a regular basis because the conversation didn't go much further than the polite, "mucho gusto." Then we had dinner and watched a performance of traditional panamanian dancers.

The day of the wedding, we missed the bus from the resort to the church and so we ended up getting a ride in the presidential caravan, and actually rode in the president's own SUV (although I don't know where he was.) the ceremony was in an old church in a part of town called Casco Viejo. Apparently the air conditioning had broken down in the church, so it was HOT HOT HOT in there. There were about ten bridesmaids occupying two pews and when i turned around to look at them, I saw them all using the wedding programs to fan themselves, so i picked one up and followed suit. Gabriela and I were sitting next to the center aisle of the second pew. So i'll be in all of the wedding pictures from the ceremony and i imagine the family members will be asking themselves, "who's that random girl in the second row?"

when the wedding was over, we hitched a ride back in the caravan. the reception was outdoors at a five-star resort called Playa Bonita. when the bride and groom arrived, fireworks burst in the air and sparklers exploded when they danced their first dance. There were about 500 people at the wedding. On each side of the stage, there were gigantic video screens like you would see at a rolling stones concert, hooked up to a roving cameraman filming people on the dance floor, so sometimes you would look up and see yourself on the big screen. half way through the evening, a traditional afro group performed a wedding ritual dance with live drummers and singers. The bride and groom donned large golden crowns and danced in the center of the crowd. There was music and dancing all night long, from the moment you arrived until apparently 4 am. the music and dancing didn't stop even when people ate dinner. There were flip flops in the ladies restroom so you could take off your uncomfortable stilettos and get back out there. Even with flip flops, i was exhausted because I'm not used to dancing in the heat and humidity, and in a ball gown nonetheless. So i had to retire around 1 am. Gab went back to the room around 2 am, and was trying to talk to me but I don't remember a word she said i was so out of it.

the next morning after breakfast, we enjoyed mojitos by the infinity pool at the resort. and since it was superbowl sunday, later on that day i attended two superbowl parties, which really made me feel like i was in the twilight zone. I mean, I don't even watch football in the US, and here I am surrounded by panamanian Bears Fans, and at the second party Colts Fans, drinking miller genuine draft, eating buffalo wings and nachos. it was truly surreal.

So tomorrow I'm off to a town called El Valle where I hope to do some horseback riding and other types of adventurous exploring. gotta get back out in nature. I miss the monkeys!

Feb 1, 2007

I´ve been having a good time solo in Panama. My friend Gabriela arrives in just about an hour, so solo no more! In fact, it will be quite the opposite as the wedding is on Saturday and I´m sure the festivities have already begun. Last night I went to a wine tasting at a place called The Wine Bar, where Gabriela´s uncle Billy is the manager. We got to taste 5 wines from Argentina. Then we ate dinner with the chef. Had smoked salmon salad, a smoked trout salad, salmon sauteed with leeks, and a green salad with gravlax. The theme of the evening was salmon. I had to laugh when Gab´s uncle asked me how well I knew her. When I told him I met her in 1990 on our way to France, he replied, "oh, you´re THAT girl!!!!" Unfortunately, yes, I am THAT girl. or at least I was then... But then so is Gab.

I went on a boat adventure yesterday with a bunch of retired americans from all over. it was funny. they were all avid birders! except for one guy who brought along two cans of guinness and never once picked up a camera or a pair of binoculars. totally just going along for the ride. we saw 3 species of monkeys, tons of tropical birds, a 2 toed sloth, a 3 toed sloth, a couple iguanas... it was fun!

The day before I went hiking in the Parque Natural Metropolitano, a semi deciduous rainforest inside panama city. Saw tití monkeys, something called an agouti that looks like a little brown pig, a huge iguana that scared the shit out of me, and a very long vine snake (not dangerous). I also saw lots of butterflies and moths, so many different colors. I can´t wait to check out the wildlife in the other rain forests throughout the country.

Well, I better get going. Going to check out of my hotel and meet up with my partner in crime.