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Webisodio #16

Now Online!

Flat waves in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and my new Argentinean and Costa Rican friends' floodlights inspire a humid summer night…

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Season 2

Webisode 17 Coming Soon!

Webisodio #16 is live! Check it out in the Season #2 thumbnail. Webisodio #17 is right around the corner!

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Surf Lessons

Surf Lessons

Learn how to surf in Venice, California with an experienced Hawaiian instructor.

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Language Exploration

Tutoring for travel

Learn to speak another language fluently, it never ceases to enhance my travel experiences

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Travel Log #1: Hitting the Road

Initially we started off in Los Angeles where I spent about a month staying with friends after graduating from U.C. Santa Cruz . I wish I could look back and say "yep, as soon as I finished my last class at U.C Santa Cruz I hopped in my truck and drove to South America." Truth be told though, I didn't. It isn't easy to get everything you need together to undertake such a protracted road trip. It takes A LOT of planning, and just when you feel you have everything ready, fixed and accounted for some unforeseen problem presents itself causing you to have to wait even longer. Throw in a couple of travel partners (I did) and things only get more complicated....

My primary travel partner Sam was relatively easy, my other would have been travel partner Erica turned out to be a pesadilla (nightmare)! She was so difficult in fact, she didn't even make it to the border. This decision however wasn't made soon enough for me to avoid having to cart her all over L.A. for a day (which for those of you unfamiliar with this city and its traffic issues is no easy task).


Erica was an extremely high maintenance drug addict as it turned out. I had only met her once before she took the train down to L.A. from Santa Cruz, a roughly 400 mile trek. She seemed nice enough and was courageous enough to hop on board after a 5 minute conversation. Initially I had admired her intrepid nature, which I now realize had more to do with ignorance or dare I say it, quasi-lunacy than courage. She had no idea what she was undertaking.

It sounds like I am exaggerating, but honestly I don't have to cause this chick was veritably off a touch. The day started out with her and her uber-hippie boyfriend normal enough. She had arrived via Amtrak several days before I had instructed her to and immediately began incessantly haranguing me to pick her up in San Pedro (a cross town traffic fiesta). She wanted to come (mind you smelly boyfriend in tote) and stay at my friends parents mansion where I was graciously sleeping on the couch. I kept having to re-explain to her several times a day for several days that it wasn't my place to invite her, and her boyfriend. In hindsight, this seemingly understandable reality seemed to put her out more than one would expect. It was as if she expected me to say, "yeah, of course you and your exceedingly unkempt boyfriend are totally welcome at my friend's parents' hilltop manor. They have a lovely backyard pool, hell we should throw a party!!! Yeah, good character judgment on my part to say the least. Last time I attempt to drive to South America with someone I have only met once...

Anyway, I went and grabbed her and her boyfriend on the day we were to head to San Diego. They wanted to go to the beach. I told them I'd take them, but I needed to run a ton of errands for the trip. Erica seemed annoyed with me, not really understanding that I needed to take care of some important things before taking off. So I left them at Topanga Beach while I scurried about town. I remember thinking hmmm, perhaps the 5 viccodin she took will calm her down a bit. After I finally picked up Sam from the Grey Hound station and returned to the beach I was greatly relieved to find out that they had subdued her substantially. She confessed that they had slept virtually the entire day at the beach. I felt kinda guilty leaving them there like that, but it couldn't have been avoided.

We had some drinks across the street from the beach and caught up. Or perhaps more aptly in Erica's case, met up. We hardly knew one another at all. About an hour later everything seemed cool and I started thinking to myself maybe I was just being too critical of this poor girl. I began to loosen up a touch.

After a quick, but extremely tearful goodbye to Erica's hippie boyfriend of 3 weeks at the Topanga bus stop the 3 of us crammed into my 2 seater Toyota Pickup. Erica started whining that we should go back and take her boyfriend to the train station downtown (about 30 miles away). Sam and I both looked at one another incredulously and then simultaneously launched into a variety of explanations why we couldn't/wouldn't take him. The fact that the 2 seater was not a 4 seater was the explanation that seemed to make the most sense to her. She finally accepted this reality and we continued along from Malibu to Venice to eat some Chinese food at Mao's Kitchen. That is the leg of Erica's short journey where it was first revealed to us how much drugs Erica was planning on taking with her. She had a lot. Sam and I reflexively proceeded to explain to her why we both thought bringing drugs was a bad idea. This time however, we were unable to convince her. You could almost see the enthusiasm drip from her face onto the floor. She really looked like she was going to cry. Forlornly she said "no Molly!" (I later found out
"Molly" is a nickname for Ecstasy). Genuinely upset she said that all she wanted to do was take "Molly" and hang out with Shamans in the desert. To this, Sam and I exchanged a couple of disbelieving glances. Was this chick for real?

When she turned to me and said "I had no idea you were so straight edge Nick" I couldn't help but laugh hysterically in her saddened face. I have been accused of a lot of things over the years and straight edge has never been one of them. This chick was hardcore!! I had no idea, my friend who had introduced me to her never informed me of her Columbian drug running alter ego. Hell, maybe that wasn't even her alter ego. Maybe that was just her? I'll never know and I'll only mildly care.

In any case, when her boyfriend called to tell her that there were no longer any buses running and that he was taking a taxi to the train station where he planned to sleep on a bench over night so he could catch a train first thing in the morning poor little Erica had had enough. She broke down crying, saying she couldn't go. The math was painfully simple really. No drugs, plus no boyfriend equaled no Erica.

Just as well I thought as I took her to the train station. This girl, didn't speak a lick of Spanish, only had a couple of grand to her name and way more drugs than Sam or I would ever know what to do with, intended to smuggle and sell drugs throughout Latin America. To whom is an even more entertaining thought.

We dropped her off at the station and I gave her an "anchor" necklace that had mysteriously showed up in my truck several days prior. I told her it would help her stay grounded, to which she replied "I love stuff like that" and raced off to hug her smelly boyfriend. I have never seen or heard from her since. I wonder if those 2 are still together? I think they may have been soulmates...

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