Category Archives: Arrivals and Departures

Welcome to Injia!

March 27-28, 2011 (including time travel)-

Two weeks after returning from South America, I’m on the move again—this time to India for 5 weeks.

Why India, Blake? Well, good question, Blake.

Honestly, India isn’t the big attraction for me: it’s the Himalaya.

Ever since I watched Seven Years in Tibet and met my friend Dan, a Brit who treks and works in Nepal, I’ve had the urge to visit the Himalaya mountains. I have no desire to do some monstrous climb of K2 or Everest or something like that, and I never have. I just love the beauty of the mountains, and the Himalaya combines that with the chance to experience a new (and, for a westerner, affordable) foreign culture.

So when I was planning my year out, slapping an India trip into my travels just made sense. I had the time, money, and no binding commitments in the States, so I jumped on the opportunity. I’m going to die sometime, right? Do it while you’re still young!

Another big plus for India was that my girlfriend, the esteemed potter Brenna McBroom of Asheville, NC (www.brennadee.com), also wanted to visit India. She threw a bunch of pots and saved up, and now we’re traveling together. Hot dog! It doesn’t get better than this.

A final motive for the trip is: to do research for a potential future Unschool Adventures trip. India is not a place that I would send a group without checking out myself, so here I am, and maybe we’ll run a trip there in 2012 if it all feels right.

Okay, enough background story. On to the photos!

Directly after the conference, Brenna and I got a ride to Chicago O’Hare airport to await our direct flight to New Delhi on a big fat 777 aircraft. Here she poses with our chariot.


The big novelty of this flight is the length: 14 hours. This is my longest flight ever. We entertained ourselves with reading, movies, uncomfortable napping, snacking, and joking about the older Indian man behind us who would forcefully push our seats into their upright positions when we attempted to recline.

My eyes often returned to the big flight information board in the front of the passenger area. Those hours ticked away slowly.


Arriving at New Delhi, Brenna was confused by the airport’s lack of bathroom signage. Which one to choose??


We waited around for our pre-arranged hotel taxi, which was an hour late, and then we waited a bit more for the driver to get gas, since he was on empty. In India, you have to pop the hood to fill the tank.


Now it’s 5:30am Delhi time, which is really 7pm Chicago time, and my body is hating on me for the jet lag. Our next stop is Chandigarh, four hours north of Delhi.

Wrapping up South America

March 10-12, 2011-

After Machu Picchu, I was spent. The next two days (the 10th and 11th) consisted of prepping for the return home, enjoying our time in our new-and-improved “party hostel”, The Point, and doing closing meetings & feedback forms.

Before the South America trip, Julie made plans with me to extend her travels. She flies out of Cusco, but not until early May! To fulfill her big plans to visit Patagonia and Bolivia over the next seven weeks, she grabbed a bus back to Arequipa the night before our group took off. Here, Jonah showered her with goodbyes, a.k.a. party foam leftover from Carnaval.


It’s okay, she forgave him…and Wyatt, at the same time. We bid farewell to Julie and wished her merry adventures (and lots of steamy hot Argentine men). She will be missed.


I did some last-minute gift shopping. I typically dislike bringing back touristy crap that no one will actually use. Luckily I found a nice lady who agreed to knit a custom cap for Brenna, inscribing the phrase “Throw or Die” on alpaca yarn. Unfortunately she neglected to include the spaces, and the inscriptions reads more like “THROWORDIE”, which throws many people for a ringer.


On Saturday morning, we grabbed three taxis to Cusco International Airport. After seven weeks of highly responsible room sweeps and maintaining control of virtually all my stuff, I forgot my shoes in the hostel in Cusco. South America strikes again!

Ingmar accompanied us to the airport and left us whimpering like puppy dogs behind a glass wall. (He’s also staying in South America a bit longer—just one week in Cusco.)

Here the group awaited our connecting flight to Miami in Lima, Peru.


Upon arrival in Miami the students kissed the floor, remembered what non-concrete-90-degree-angle architecture looked like, and thanked their creators for clean drinking fountains and reliable porcelain toilets. And ran up and down the moving walkways.


LAN Airlines courteously put us up in a four-star hotel for the night after not-so-courteously canceling our original return flight. The students pitched in and I ordered a Papa John’s pizza feast delivered to our rooms. Between this and the hot tub, we had some happy campers.


Not as happy as Jalen, who one week prior had pre-ordered a vegan carrot cake with “cream cheese” frosting to be delivered to the hotel.


Yum.


And to top it all off, Garrett (a former Unschool Adventuree) showed up.


Thus ended the Unschool Adventures South America trip!

Vaya Con Dios, Guatemala

100% travel today. Car to the airport, planes to Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco, airporter bus to the north bay, and car to my dad’s house in Sonoma. En route I ate the best donut ever in Guatemala City (brand name: “American Doughnut”) and my first salad in two weeks. I am so happy to eat salad again.