Thursday, December 06, 2007

Las Vegas

Too bad I'm not a gambler.... because there is a lot of places to lose money!

60s and sunny. Nice compared with 6" of snow in Chicago!!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Ok, so I've been here many times.

Today, the GM picked me up at the airport - I was meeting the hotel staff at a new hotel they are constructing on the edge of town, near the airport. A big convention hotel, 800 rooms with massive meeting space the size of Soldier Field.

The only people I know in town are those at the Hyatt. Once I ran into the GM of the Hyatt Lodge at the Hyatt Acapulco, but of course that was Hyatt-at-a-Hyatt. But as I entered the new hotel, the Director of Convention Services says "well, look who they allowed in here..." and it was Aaron Rush, my brother's college roommate's cousin. We went on vacation together in Palm Springs like 12 years ago, and I haven't seen him since. What a small world. So it was fun, we caught up on everything. He's married, has two kids - and his closest friend in Acapulco is the General Manager at the Hyatt, of course!

The wierdest thing is when Aaron said, "and Daniel met Steve Tobiczyck last month..." another buddy of my brother's from college. How wierd!

It is a small world...

Friday, November 23, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving! This is the first time in years that I can remember when it was clear and sunny... forecast to stay that way throughout the holiday...

Here I am on the ferry to Bainbridge Island!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fajardo, Puerto Rico

It has been 12 years since I was last in Puerto Rico; I lived here once for two months installing a computer system at what were two Hyatt hotels. They are now deceased; this time, Andy has taken me to El Conquistador Resort. Definitely we're spoiled; the hotel is OK but definitely a step below a Hyatt in terms of quality. That being said, they "upgraded" us to Las Casitas which are little homes in a quiet area of the resort, with kitchens et al. While not exactly luxurious, it is nice to be in a private area.

The resort does have one awesome feature - you can take a boat to a private island which is straight out of "Gilligans Island." Just some beach chairs under palm trees, a bar and a basic restaurant, with reggae music and not much else.

We also rented a car and went up to El Yunque Rain Forest and hiked a mile down to a waterfall. Awesome, and a quick drive (even though the signs are poor and we got a little lost as the hotel's directions were not right)... As we were walking down the path, a downpour happened and we got drenched. Funny thing was that I was walking and you could here a huge explosion from above. Andy froze and I started to run, and no joke, but 2 seconds behind me a massive dead palm frond fell on the trail behind me. Two seconds later and I totally would have been hit; wouldn't have injured me but definitely would have hurt. It probably was dead for years and needed just the right amount of rain water to collapse onto the trail.

Not much to do the next few days.... just pool and sun...


Thursday, September 20, 2007


A beautiful morning with a beautiful view from my room at the Hyatt Regency Cancun! Too bad I'll be inside all day...

Monday, September 03, 2007

East Lansing

So here I am in Spartan Stadium, a gorgeous 80 degree and sunny day. Perfect day for a home opener... a little uncertain given we have a new coach, but 21-0 into the first quarter, I'm feeling a little better (this IS Michigan State - I turn to Larry begging for more points, since we CAN lose even 30 points ahead - but there is comfort seeing our new coach/team kick some butt).

But my attention keeps getting diverted to the scoreboard... Appalachian who? Leading Michigan? Well... it won't last...

State is up by 50 points at the start of the 4th. Meanwhile, that scoreboard beckons - Appalaichain State (where is that?) is leading Michigan! We have to go see... off to the Riv, and we get in just for the last 4 minutes. Priceless. When that final kick is blocked, the Riv ERUPTED IN JOY.

I really don't think Michigan fans have any idea how much they are loathed. On You Tube, people all over the country are showing their fans cheering Michigan's loss. Not just their rivals - no, it's everyone everywhere.

God is shining on college football this weekend. Our prayers are answered... this was enough to make anyone religious. What utter joy.

And to put it all in perspective - Notre Dame also got massacred -their worst opening day in their school's history.

As such, I am putting a permanent link to the Appalachian State-UM video onto my blog. This is history that shouldn't be forgotten. As bad as things have been at Michigan State, at least we've never lost to a Division 1-AA program.

Thank you God. Up yours, Michigan. You got what you've long deserved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Port of Spain, Trinidad
(photo below of me overlooking
the island at the office)

Three days of incredible work... this island is so focused on business, it really has a South American feel instead of Caribbean feel. There is still the je m'en fîche attitude of the Islands but there is so much business here that they can't help but be caught up in it. The city has some of that charming Caribbean architecture of peaked roofs, decorative wrought iron railings and shutters, but it's next to modern cement buildings. And you'll see poor stores and shops right next to a BP office. Quite the juxtaposition.

A few "Trini" facts -

- they make coffee but they don't drink it. It's nearly impossible to find coffee. The Hilton had the best and it was Maxwell House. We drank instant in the office.

- they make cocoa but they only export it.

- good food is hard to find; bad food isn't. Worst restaurant I've eaten in for the last 10 years was at the Crowne Plaza. Overcooked and bland.

- everything's expensive. Lunch at TGI Fridays (yes, I did go, and no, it wasn't exciting - again, hard to find good food) was $30 a person including tax/tip.

- coldest place I've ever been. Air Conditioning CRANKS everywhere.

- the Savannah is a 280 acre park (!) in the middle of town. But it only goes one way. So if you want to go to the Indian restaurant only 5 blocks from the office, you can only drive one direction - it takes 10 minutes to get there because of the traffic around the Savannah!

- people are always smiling and very laid back. no sense of stress.

Best part of the trip: dinner at the Indian Restaurant, Aspara. Phenominally good food, great atmosphere, clean and the service was amiable and attentive.

Some photos:
Traditional architecture / The new Hyatt Regency Trinidad

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Port of Spain, Trinidad

After a long flight - 9 hours including layovers from Chicago - we arrived and waited on the tarmac maybe 15 minutes before the pilot said, "our apologies, but we've called customs to tell them we are here... but nobody is answering..." Welcome to the Islands!

I spent two months in Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s and dread the Caribbean work ethic. What an experience it will be these next few days!

Arriving at the Hilton (the Hyatt isn't built yet), I felt like I had arrived through a time warp. Upon checkin, I was offered a very yellow drink in a martini-ish style glass with red and yellow straws. Strolling through the lobby with a very 70's infrastructure (and a semi-successful attempt at updating it), I suddenly took a time warp back to 1967. I don't think the hallway carpet has been replaced since then. A glance at the painting of two pineapples against the peach wall in the hallway, I entered my room and flipped on the t.v. Appropriately, Ocean's Eleven - the original with Frank, Dean, Joey and gang - is on the tv.

What year is it?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mendoza - Snow in August

What an amazing experience. It is 95 degrees F in Chicago but in Mendoza it's barely above freezing. In class on Wednesday someone said "Look!" and when we peered out the windows, we could see snow coming down hard (not sticking, grant you) over the plaza.

I don't ever remember snow in August. I bought a fleece at the airport in Santiago to prepare for this, just in case.... thank goodness that I did!

We finished class a bit early.... thank goodness, we're all truly tired... and the view of the snow covered mountains behind the Park Hyatt is truly memorable. Stunning. A few photos below:

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mendoza, Argentina
(my room at the Park Hyatt pictured to the right)

Getting here was such a challenge. Our plane landed in Santiago in fog so thick you couldn't see one foot outside the window. I can't believe we even landed. We did, and then I got stuck in the Santiago Airport Admirals Club for 4 1/2 hours waiting for my delayed flight. They kept changing the gates on us, first 19 then 18 then 17a then 20 then 17. To be fair, the fog was causing problems I am sure, but they were very disorganized.

My air travel this year has been a bit chaotic. Non stop delays. You have to be patient in South America, the infrastructure needs major upgrades. Sadly, it's best in Chile, which tells a lot. Generally I don't have that kind of experience in Santiago - only everywhere else. Like I wrote in an earlier blog, we take such things for granted - that if a flight is delayed or canceled, at least we are kept informed. They didn't even have the gate posted until 5 minutes before boarding. Typical.

Mendoza is charming as always, but I'm seeing none of it other than looking out the window of my meeting room. Work work work. I love the Winter here - sunny and 60 degrees. It's like a beautiful Fall day in Chicago, but instead it is the dead of Winter. Very comfortable and a nice change from 90 degrees and humid in Chicago. This time, the air is so dry my nose is bleeding. Strange.

Well, off to work. I have 15 columns of data in a spreadsheet to update. What a joy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chaos at Ezeiza Aeropuerto, Buenos Aires

Well, funny thing about traveling to the developing world. You always have to expect challenges in everyday life. Things that we take for granted in the USA are really not like that in most of the world.

For instance, try explaining that you want a regular coffee with milk. I'm talking Maxwell House here. More often than not, it is the size of those tiny airplane liquor bottles. One sip and you are done. Or, try going for walk without having anyone look at you... Americans can never blend in. I try but my blond hair and bad Spanish get me every time.

So I get to the airport thinking wow, I am tired after working all day and my flight gets in at 10.40PM. There have been talks on my flight from Dallas about how my 3 hour delay is due to the circa 1950 radar system here... And what do I get tonight? Another 3 hour delay due to radar. Now my flight is due to arrive at 1.30 am with an hour drive to hotel. Check out the photo.

Thank God there is a bar!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Buenos Aires

A beautiful Autumn day here in Buenos Aires; it is so strange to go from hot Chicago (!) to cool Buenos Aires. Today it was gorgeous - sunny and cool, high of around 60 degrees I would guess. It was great wearing a jacket and just walking around, perfect walking weather!
The hippie fair is so fun in Recoleta. I even grabbed food from a vendor stall, something I usually shy away from to keep the tummy healthy. I couldn't resist sitting in the sun under a palm tree and watching everyone enjoying themselves. That's the photo you see above.
The hotel is gorgeous as ever, and I love the scent - from Celedonio, that is what the in-room amenties are as well. Very rich and relaxing. Some interesting art has changed in the Paseo des Artes between the two buildings... always interesting, some I like, some I don't... just like art should be...
Dinner then

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Finally the Hyatt Regency Cancun is open, only 19 months later... the hotel looks great and nothing like it was before, the transformation is startling. Very urban and hip - clean lines, modern furniture and a great lounge off the lobby with awesome lighting and a view of the entire peninsula - with that incredible multicoloured water every shade of blue possible. You can hear the jazz-house music pumping in right when you get to the lobby, it creates a great sense of arrival.

Too bad the weather is cloudy and supposed to rain all day. And it is my day off! I have to get work done, so I'll probably just work most of today and explore the hotel more.

Excited to see that Chicago will be competing for the 2016 Summer Olympics! Very cool... there is a great video to check out at

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sao Paulo
(posting by Andy) - Photo at the Vogue Carnaval Party 2007

We got back from the Vogue Carnival event about 4 a.m and that was considered early....we are old farts but we tried, we really really tried!

Here goes with a synopsis of what took place....

First I would like to admit, that Mr. Hirko and myself looked rather dashing in our black and white tuxedo suits. I am still refusing to wear my underwear until Britney puts hers on, but for the most part we fit in fine. The tuxedo service the hotel hooked us up with was fantastic, they came to our room, took our measurements and then returned back to our room with full pressed suits and shoes ready to go to the ball. The cost for both rentals was $500.00 ! Holly Crap. Thank goodness that the hotel picked up the tab because when we saw the bill our mouths dropped.

We left the hotel about 11:30 in the hotel car that swooped us away. Once we got to the ballroom, it was like a scene from E or Hollywood ! Stars, Media, Entertainers, Politicians, we were all in the same line. We were right in the middle of it all, there were no VIP lines, since we were all VIP's- and there was Rhett and I with our golden ticket in hand.

It was a sea of men dressed like penguins and some local wealthy women but mostly Brazilian Vogue models (including Gisele Bundchen), wearing the latest Brazilian fashionable outfit parading around waiting to be noticed. These women were gorgeous, so pretty that Rhett and I were in awe even though we didn't know who they were.

It was actually good that we didn't know who the stars were and who was celeb. We were all equally important because we all had the exact same invitation in hand and people just assume that you are important or you wouldn't be there. I think if it was Hollywood, we could have been star struck. Imagine the red carpet kind of feel...with little old Rhett and I in our little old tuxes smack in the middle of it !

The building itself had large gates that entered the ballroom, six giant white pillars that held up the canopy where all of us waited in line for about another hour (even the stars). The guest list held more that 1500 people and all over were models prancing around waiting for the next person to take a photo of them. The main singer (the main attraction) was just in front of us as she was escorted in wearing a feathered mask (carnival) as the media interviewed her and took photos.

Once we passed security and the front door, now 1 a.m., the ballroom consisted of two large rooms, in total about 10-15,000 square feet, decked out in feathers and other Carnival decorations. In one of the rooms, a large stage that continuously had some type of entertainer playing music which had the whole room in a trance of samba and other forms of Brazilian, carnival music. Keep in mind, no VIP rooms so all these models, and other very important people in the fashion industry and so on...they were all around us and the cool thing was that no one had an attitude. They thought we were just as VIP as them so everyone was really cool. Red Bull, Johnny Walker, Stella Artois " Brazilian Beer", and Champagne filled the room as they were sponsors. The buffet tables were overflowing with caviar ( yucky), sweets, finger sandwiches and much, much more. All the bells and whistles were thought of for this event and considering the guest list, I am sure it was just enough.

Rhett had to drag me out about 4 a.m. I was having such a blast meeting people and I must admit, I had one to many Vodka/Redbulls. I am glad that we went home when we did, otherwise I would have been praying to the toilet if I had one more..Everyone was wasted, the bar was continuously filling our glasses hour after hour non-stop. I came to find out that this was the biggest carnival event in Sao Paulo and Vogues 5Th year holding it in their city. Fun. Fun. Fun.

The music had the whole place in a trance and it looks like everyone was having a great time, some people too much fun. Waisted.

So today we just hung out by the pool then for lunch, had a traditional Brazilian lunch (happens every Saturday) consisting of Pork, Rice, and Beans. This is what most locals eat on Saturday but not the ideal food for hangovers. Can you say FART?

After lunch we went to another art and antique fair which after 2 hours, we just were so beat that we are now back in our room and ready to crash on the sofa and chill in for the night.

That is it for now..... Sorry so long winded email but I can to emphasize the party since it was so impressive. The photos week too were not as impressive since the room was so smokey that the photos we took inside suck...we do have some to share. Everyone smokes here and boy oh boy do they like to drinky drink too.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sao Paulo
(posting by Andy) - Photo of typical traffic in Sao Paulo.

Hello all.

Well, the rain has finally caught up to us. Gotham city ( Sao Paulo, Brazil ) has been getting a bunch of rain but we did not see it until last night. Although this feels like a good life, it can get lonely in a big hotel. This place is so wonderful (400 rooms). Modern, very swanky, and the services is fantastic.

We really do get taken care of like Paris Hilton around here. Check this out....during my stay at the pool, the cleaning service cleaned our room, cleaned and pressed all of our clothes and folded them...including our undies. We have fresh flowers in every room (3 rooms) in the dozens, and they took all of our dirty clothes and had them washed and pressed without being asked. At first, I felt weird about it because I do not like being taken care of like that, but that is just how they roll around here for us. Having Rhett here is the reason why they are so good to us....but the service outside of that is fantastic. This is one of the most expensive hotels in Sao Paulo so that is what you get for your bucks. $$$$$

The downside, just as in Paris Hilton is that they do everything for you that you really have no responsibilities and you can learn to rely on everyone to take care of all your needs. Sounds great to some of you I am sure, but its not the life for me...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Rio de Janeiro
(posting by Andy)

The beach is packed and can you say speedo and thong anyone? If you know about Rio you can probably imagine what the beaches look like around here. The people are so amazingly tan and the only thing to really do around here, since its so hot (90 degrees and humid) is go to the beach or lay by the pool. When I say hot I mean it folks, men walk around everywhere without shirts, some not so flatering, and women in their bikinis, also some not so flatering but who's hot! The sand castles made by the local artist on the beach look grand and amazing. Theses sandsculptures are enormous and they are spectacular to look was a castle, one was a giant mermaid and so on.... I think they spend all day with teams of people to make them....will find out more tomorrow.

Since we have taken over 600 photos the battery on our camera ran out so we blew half the day today searching for a new one but finally found it at a mall. During this quest we had a chance to see some of the town and also the beach. We have three beaches near our hotel....Leblon, Ipanema (as in the song) and finally Copacabana (also famous). Our hotel is right on the water and our pool is really nice and that is where we will spend some time each day for the next few days prior to touring and sight seeing.

We just heard about the weather in Chicago and I hope you are all bundled up....sorry. We will try to bring some of the hot sun with us when we return in less than two weeks. Our journey is long but the time is going by rather hoo.

Tonight we went to the downtown "Centro" (not safe at all- only with a cab...and right into the club) to check out a samba/bossa-nova club with live music (highly recommended by friends and Wallpaper magazine). Check out the had three floors, the first where you can have dinner and listen to a live band play local samba/bossa-nova music and the other two a bar where you can hear the music from the floors below. The ambiance was a throwup of antiques, garage finds, and wall to wall of yard sale finds. If it sounds wierd, well it was. The tables where little but nice and the place was packed that you needed to wait to get in by the time we left. Right in the middle of the ghetto where from time to time, we spotted the police that guard the streets with machine guns. We are definately not in Kansas any more. I kinda freaked out because I seldom feel unsafe and for some reason, I did not. But, we are safe and sound and back at the hotel ready for another adventure tomorrow.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Puerto Iguazu, AR
(posting by Andy)
Photo of Toucan at the Parque de Aves, Foz do Iguazu, Brazil

Well today we went on another journey and to another country- Brazil. Yesterday we viewed the Iguazu Falls from Argentina, today the views were just as spectacular as yesterday but a bit different.... From Argentina, we were basically in the falls and in the water, from Brazil, we could see the falls from afar and they looked so awesome. Although just across the country, the views were just as wonderful. We could see them from afar so we got the panoramic views rather that being in them and on them. The photos we will share will explain more....wait to you see them!

As for the jungle part, the woods were denser and the animals were plentiful. These racoon-like creatures ("coatis") were all over the place, begging for food and looking as cute as can be.....but feeding them was not a good idea, they can and will bite ya if you feed them because of course, they want more. So, we just looked and shot photos of cute. As we journeyed into the forest other creatures like Vultures and butterflies were plentiful. Sounds cheesy but its really cool when they land on you and when you see the vibrant colors they display as they flap their wings.

80% of the falls are on the Argentina side so they adventure was not as long as yesterday's but the weather was damn hot. We think it got to 90 or higher but what saved us was the Brazilian side was under a canopy of forest so the shade saved us from passing out. Some of the tourists took helicopter rides over the falls but we opted not to. Kinda scary and most of all too expensive for us at this point. We still have about two weeks so we need to keep an eye on our spending...wait, did I just say that? Oh, Rhett would be so proud.

After the falls we went to a bird sanctuary and there we visited all types of cool birds and we even had a chance to hold some. Toucans, Macaws, African Grey's, and much much more. These are large parrots that come from these parts and are very expensive to buy at home. The Toucans just fly right up to you and they are just as inquisitive of humans as we are of them... and the colors of their beaks are magnificent...blues and reds and orange and more. Once again, we shot some photos of them and other creatures we have seen along the way.

It's our last night here in the jungle and tomorrow we will go to Brazil- Rio for the next five days. If you didn't know Rio- it's the second largest city in Brazil and its cultural capital. The flip flops are going back in the suitcase and big city here we come. Seriously though, we need to be safe and careful and we will be. We have met many people along the way that got jumped and we need to not where any jewelry and watch our backs....we are pretty good about that and thus far, know one has messed with us. We never keep all of our money on us and we always have some in the front pocket and some in the back so if something should arise, we will show them all we have ( in one pocket only). Tip of the trade.

We have been going so long that we will spend most of the day at the pool prior to our flight to Rio. Believe it or not, we have not layed out for about 7 days, toooo busy doing the sights, but have plenty of sun on our faces and arms. I believe we have an awesome farmers tan....need to touch up the whitey parts tomarrow.

We hope to write soon. If any of these emails are bothering you folks, just let us know so we can take you off the list. For the most part, everyone has enjoyed following along with us on our journey.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Puerto Iguazu, AR
(posting by Andy)

The mighty Iguassu Falls

Hello Amigos from the jungles of Argentina.

Well we went on our journey today to Iguazu Falls and all we can say is WOW-EE. The mighty Iguazu Falls are the most overwhelmingly in all of South America. There are two ways of visiting the falls, one side from Argentina, and the other from Brazil. Today we did the Argentina side. On both sides of the falls there are National Parks. The journey took all day, about 8 hours which consisted of close views of the individual falls in their forest setting with its wildlife and butterflies (there are over 500 diffferent species). It's so cool...if you're lucky, and most are, you stretch out your arm and one will land on you. The colors are vibrant and so many that just float past us as we journey through the jungles and falls. The water is majestically beautiful and the closer you get to them, the closer to God ( of your choice) you get. We took this journey with a family we met from Florida and from time to time they started to cry it was so overwhelming. Rhett shed a tear too but he would never admit it.....he had something in his eye.....what a big girl. Seriously folks, one of the greatest wonders....we took many photos but even they will not serve it justice. Also among this scenery were Toucans, flocks of parrots and ther birds such as Vultures and many other over our heads. The Vultures were pretty scary and we made sure we drank plenty of water to avoid passing out and getting eaten by the bastards. We also had the pleasure of taking a boat in the water which took us nearly under the falls....totaly got us drenched and so much fun. Rhett really loved the ride and we have a video of us going under them. There are so many animals in the forest but unfortunately we didn't see the ones we really wanted to. It is so hard to describe, but truly overwhelming - huge, WOW experience.

Tomorrow we are off to the Brazilian side offers a superb panoramic view of the whole falls... and a visit to a bird zoo in the national park.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Puerto Iguazu, AR
(posting by Andy)

Hello to all from Iguazu falls Argentina.

Last night we went to a real Tango show and it was really, really cool. It made dancing with the stars look like crap...these people live for the dance and it's very sexy and romantic. The setting was a red velvet room with red velvet drapes and they make it smoky to give you the feel of the old, tango days. Not that we would know but the hotel told us that it was the real thing and the room had people from all over the world to see the show. There was a five piece band that played while the dancers did their thing and a male and female performer sang. It reminded me of my godfather who played the accordion because the band had two of them. We highly suggest it if you are ever in Argentina. The tickets were about $100 a person, but worth it.

We have now taken 5 airplanes to get the the remote center of the jungles of Argentina/Brazil. In short, it's hot, humid, and the mosquito's are loving our blood. Igauzu falls is one of the greatest wonders of the world, the falls, on the Argentina/Brazil border, are 10 miles upstream from the confluence of the Rio igauzu and the Rio alto parana. The Rio igauzu which rises in the Brazilian hills receives the waters of some 30 rivers as it crosses the plateau. Above the main falls, the river sown with wooded islets, opens out to a width of 2.5 miles.....if you have ever been to Niagara Falls, it's small compared to where we are. In the morning we are getting picked up by a tour bus and it will take us to where we can see Toucans (birds), Parrots and other wildlife that we only see in zoo's in America. We have traveled from the big city of Argentina and the jungle is much different. This town is small and pretty much dead and very poor. If it was not for these falls, I do not think many people would come here. We are far....very far in the depths of nothing but forest. The real thing folks, the jungle! One day we will go to the falls from the Argentina side and the next day we go from the Brazil side. I imagine the photos will be amazing and I will keep you posted as we go along. For now we are safe, and we are no longer in a fancy hotel but in a small hotel with no luxuries that we have been accustomed to. Our high heel pumps have been put away and the flip flops are on and chugin along.

Rhett is doing better and taking his medication. The doctor put him on a special diet until his tummy gets better.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

B.A. update
(posting by Andy)

I just wanted to quickly update everyone regarding Rhett's health status. The doctor said that he has a common bacteria in his tummy called gastro enteritis. It is common around these parts and it can get passed around when around a bunch of people which we always are. One of the employees at the hotel said she had is a few days he is o.k.

He picked up some over the counter drugs and should be fine in a couple of days. It's actually good news because when traveling so far and with so many diseases around the world, this one is not big deal. A bit painful but easy to overcome.
Buenos Aires
(posting by Andy)

Today was a bit somber but a trip well done. We visited the grave site of Eva Peron otherwise known as Evita. The name of the cemetery is called Recoleta and she placed with her husband Juan Peron in a black marble mausoleum that had simple details but very tasteful. For those of you who do not know who she was, and have never seen the movie staring "Madonna", she was the wife of Juan Peron ( President) who worked hard for the people, especially the poor. There were many people waiting to see her from all over the world and flowers upon flowers are placed on her site daily....very beautiful. She made a big impact to the people here...and she probably still does today.

At first the cemetery although beautiful, seemed a bit eerie because of all the big stone mausoleums. Hardly anyone is buried in the ground here...mostly in mausoleums or in stone walls. The people buried in them don't skip on the details of there last resting place...we have photos. Some of the mausoleums had photos of the dead on them, strangely most were made with glass where you can actually see the coffins that have been in them for 10, 50, and 100 years or more. Some had been buried there longer than America is old. We peeked in some of these Moslem's and the look of the wood coffin showed their age....some of the coffins had been exposed to the sun and air so long that vegetation is growing out from them. I suppose like in the case of my experience with Italy and their cemeteries, for those who did not have the money to be buried in one of these enormously detailed mausoleums, they are placed in stone walls with little photos of themselves or saints on them as well as there name. Not as scary as you would think...just the way things are done here. It's actually interesting.

We are now waiting for a doctor to visit Rhett in our hotel, unfortunately he is still not up to par and we need to get more details on his stomach situation...I/we will keep you posted on the doctors evaluation. Do not worry, he is fine, but from time to time, his tummy really hurts and we just need the details prior to our departure to Brazil. His work friend who lives here will make sure the doctor understands the problems Rhett is having and make sure we understand the medication we need to's always nice to have a trust able translator when so far away from home.

More to come, we have you all in our hearts and that is why we share our travels with you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Buenos Aires
(posting by Andy) - photo of our hotel to the right

Hello everyone from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Well we have two more days until we are out of here and wanted to update you on our experiences up to date...... Yesterday we toured the town and had a nice breakfast in street's easy just hunging out and watching people. The weather here is killer and the people are sexy as hell so people watching is fine by us. I can not figure it out why most people all look like stars and models?

Only about 5% of the people here have a good job, for the most part they sell stuff on the street or just have a job to get by. People are not recognized or labled by their jobs so just having a job is good enough. "live for life, not for work"

In the afternoon, we hung out at a place called Fieria Hippie, it's a place where a great deal of artist sell their stuff on the tell you the thruth, it's all really nice and the prices are really doable too. You ladies would love it because everyone sell jewelery...silver and stones......for men it's leather stuff for the most part. The people who sell it are true artists so maybe that is why they look like hippie's....I guess that is where the name came from. People here are very poor but very cool and don't complain for the most part. They all are nice when you visit their shop and never pressure us to buy from them. It's not like Mexico where you barter for the better price and they all presurre you to BUY, BUY, BUY. (for those of you who have experienced that). Here you just pay what they ask because we know how little they are paid. Besides, the prices are good and we just feel guilty asking. When I say poor, I mean they really make no money but unlike us cranky Americans so worried about making money and having big stuff, they are laid back, and just want to live and love....sound corney but these people are lovers of life. Remember, they are the creators of the Tango. After all, I guess when you never have all the material stuff we have, you never really want or know what your missing.

Interior design is big here....we had lunch and later hung out where most designers sell stuff like art, furniture, and other things for the home. I saw a lamp that I could not that we have this big box in our hotel room, I need to figure out how to get it home in ONE piece...wish us luck. Italian food and people are big and all over in Argentina so we have had Italian food a couple of times and its really good.

Later that evening, we hung out with some of Rhett's work buddies who live here. They took us to an area of town called Soho Parlermo (not in Italy), shopped and went to a cafe/bar to hang out they way the local townies hang out....really laid back. People meet in bars to just talk and hang, not to get fucked or catch a buzz, even though it can be easy for us gringos to do. It's just how it is .....and how they like it. After that she took us to a place called Palermo Hollywood where the local stars and celebreties hang out....we lucked out and actually had dinner about 20 feet from the mayor of Buenos Aires! Sounds fancy but she said it is common to see him around and that he is actually a wierd guy....we also had a chance to meet this famous singer when we were in Mendoza but we have no clue who he was...but we knew they something was up with all the cameras and how the locals reacted around him.

That was it for that night....guys, we do alot during the day and night, and knowing people here makes it fun and even longer because the conversations are great and the night goes on until late.

Today was more of a hiking and chill day and the views were once again, awesome. We took a train to a town called Tigre were a bunch of islands are surrounded by water. The closes example I can say is like Venice, Italy. No gandela's, just waterbusses. We took one of these waterbuses to a couple of places...we had lunch on the water and then went hiking along a canal surrounded by little home that people rent and live in during the summer. The people there are more like beach people with guitars in hand, totally laid back, with long hair, great bodies, and killer tans...

(photo of El Gato Blanco on the water in Tigre)...

It's now about 7 p.m. and we are totally tired and decided to hang out in our hotel tonight to chill and watch a movie. Oh, did I forget to mention that we are living in a real palace (not a royal palace but more of a mansion with a bang and olson sterio system which for those of you who do not know it, it's one of the best you can staying home will be a treat.

Sorry so long. Gatta service is here and my live lobster is ready to be boiled in front of us...... that kind of service we get, but kidding on the lobster folks. Don't know what we are going to eat just yet.

We are still here for a couple more will get back with you later. Our next stop is Rio (Brazil) and we herd that things are really dangerous right now but the hotel at Hyatt will make sure we are fine and safe.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Buenos Aires, Argentina
(posting by Andy)

Hola again from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

We are now safely in Buenos Aires. Have not wandered around yet because our flight got in late last night. Once again, our room is fitted for a King, or in our case, a QUEEN. Literally we are staying on a palace that was converted to a Park Hyatt last July. The room goes for about ONE THOUSAND a night but as all of you know, we get the five figure is good.

Argentina is known for the Tango, Empanada's (little pockets of pastries filled with meat and other various things) and the late night dinner. Here is what confuses the heck out of me.....people here eat dinner late (after 10:00 p.m) every night, they smoke cigs like they are going out of style, and eat well but for the most part, are all skinny and healthy. Cancer is not a common way of death's old age. Isn't that strange? So for those of you who are on a diet, not smoking any longer, and not eating after 7 p.m. Go's o.k.

Today's adventure consist of hitting the town and going to a hippie fair which consists of vendors selling hand crafted goods and walking along a wonderful park. We will share of adventure with you through photos.

The sad news is...that Rhett unfortunately is still feeling ill. Not as bad as a few days ago but the tummy thing is still a problem. We are trying to figure out what the heck he has. He has no diarrhea but his tummy hurts....he thinks now that he may have some type of ulcer....but not sure of anything. Say a little prayer for him to get better.

Friday, January 26, 2007

(posting by Andy)
Picture to the right is the drive up to the Andes

Holy Cow is all I can say.

Imagine this......rafting through the Andes mountains (so high that it's hot as hell where you are standing but you can clearly see the snow top mountains) and cruzing at levels 3 and 4. For those of you who have not rafted....very fast and high energy throughout the ride....very cool. It took about 1 hour to get there by bus, we road tripped with about 10 people from all around the world and most could speak some form of English.

Unfortunately, Rhett did not go on the ride because he became ill. We still do not know what he caught but the bug went to his stomach. He was suited up, ready to go, and then rushed to the local hospital for some stomach medicine. do not worry please, he is doing better and I am so glad that he stop ed himself from going would have been the terrible if he actually got on the ride because it was very rapid and he would have craped his paints. Literally. I think it was the local water that he must have drank? We still do not know but things like this are common when traveling far.....

Last night we met a friend that some of you named Dave already know. A very nice guy who owns his own wine vineyard and invited us to his property today for horse riding and a BBQ but we had to decline. We need rest at the pool (especially Rhett with his tummy), since we have been going non stop for two days and we have only completed one week out of four. Today we are going to check out the city and hang out locally near our wonderful hotel. That is it for now, tons of kick butt photos to share.

Some of you were curious on how much we won at the casino ( one million pesos!) Well we are not rich, and will not tell you until we see you. Mr. Scott Hirko (Rhett's brother) won the booby prize and guessed correctly!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mendoza, Argentina
(posting by Andy)

We are now in Mendoza,Argentina in the wine country. Our room would make Oprah proud. We are living good as most of you would have figured. Sometimes when I look around the room which is bigger than most apartments here I can not help but feel guilty, yes I have photos too. Today we are going on a bike ride through the vinyards and going to enjoy some of the famous wine that Mendoza is known for and later, a thai massage.

Rhett cutting down Malbec grapes in the vineyard of Familio Zuccardi, Mendoza

We have only been gone about a week and knowing that we have another 3 weeks blows my mind because of all that we have done thus far. They say that after Mendoza the rest of the trip gets a bit dangerous.....we are always careful when we walk around. Once we get to Brazil we are limited on what we can do and must always be accompanied by a taxi or can only stay in the Hotel. We totaly look like Americans...there is not way around it. Everytime someone talks to us, they assume we are without even talking to us.

About anyone? The bar here holds over 2500 types of wines...they are serious about the stuff and the prices vary. Also, they are big on art and much that you become numb to it. Tomorrow we are going rafting and then going to fly through the air by haning on to a rope as it carries you from one side of a hill to another....they say it's awsome and the view will blow us away.

That is it for now...we will keep you posted as we go along.

Caio (this is their bye too)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Vina Del Mar, Chile.
(posting by Andy)
The last couple of days have been spectacular. When we first arived in Vina del Mar we didn't think much of it since it was late afternoon, but the next days the scenery was something we can only say- wait until you see our photos....amazing! We spent most of our time walking up and down the streets of Valparaiso and the weather was fantastic. It reminds Andy of Parlermo, Italy with all of the people living up high in the mountains. We also celebrated our 3rd aniversary by having a wonderful dinner at the casino and then....yes, we won $962,000 pesos...if you can not figure it out, we will share with you when we see you...and yes, we got a wonderful aniversary gift from Chile!

The hills of Valpariaso, Chile. Notice the funicular on the right - there are too many to count in the city going up and down the hills!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Beautiful weather... sunny and mid80s. Had one too many glasses of wine last night, so Andy and I took it easy today and spent time by the pool. We also went to an area of artisans, really nice old area of tiny winding pathways with artisans selling paintings, wall hangings and jewelry. Plus an awesome empanada stand in the center of it all. Also a lot of pet stores, strangely - tons of cats, guinea pigs, macaws and birds of all types, chickens, peacocks, dogs, fish. Tons of pets!

Rhett in front of graffitti in the colorful BellaVista district of Santiago

Tomorrow off to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Lesson: do not travel on business the week after New Years. You will suffer the fate I did; huge lines at customs, baggage claim and for taxis along with everyone coming home from the Christmas/New Years holiday.

What should have taken only 45 minutes from airport door to hotel door took at least an hour and a half. Ugh.

All for a short trip; I'm gone tomorrow night to Philadelphia!

Take note: Park Hyatt Toronto still fantastic. Room service was great, employees greeted me as I walked down the halls and at the front desk with a smile and enthusiasm. Such a great hotel!