Exploring Patagonia: Chile and Argentina

13 – 22 January 2017
travellingross rating: 7/10
Wow they speak fast Spanish in Chile! I cannot even pick up the occasional word to follow the sentence.  When I booked a connecting flight to Puerto Montt via my already booked flight to Santiago, I had not realised that because Montt is not an international airport, I would need to clear immigration and customs in Santiago, bag drop, then clear security as a domestic passenger. Which all up takes 2 hours and resulted in missing my connecting flight. So, I got to know the Santiago airport for 6 hours. Arriving in Montt near midnight, sped to the hotel by what I think was an unregistered taxi, then straight to bed. However, I was able to sleep in since check-in for my ferry to Puerto Natales was not until 12:30pm and I could then be free of my bags for 5 hours until we departed on a shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. Very very conveniently, check-in was at the Holiday Inn which is attached to an unexpectedly enormous mall. Walking to the mall, I was struck by how this simple small town is far more scenic than Mendoza. My free time enabled me to buy some hiking boots, weather proof pants, get my Big Mac fix and continue the seemingly endless travel planning.
The cargo ship masquerading as a passenger ferry was everything I expected and served the purpose I was searching for. 3 nights of no internet, no alcohol, no pressure to go tour. Just sleep 12 hours a day, listen to audio books, sort photographs on my laptop and of course look at the fjord scenery that you can only witness on these waters.
Torres del Paine is not that remarkable to me. Sorry, don’t hate me all you Patagonia lovers. I have seen more profound and jaw dropping landscapes. I think instead the attraction is the isolation. But now it’s become such a tourist hot spot that there are people everywhere. The glaciers however are inspirational. Grey glacier in particular is a 3 hour boat trip, which sounds ridiculous, but the scenery and view points are out of this world. The mountains and fjords are otherwise nothing I haven’t seen in other parts of the world and in my opinion not worth the hassle to come all this way unless you are coming to camp and hike the W or O trails. Which 80% of the people no doubt come for that. It’s just the crazy ones like me who come to see the views, tick the Patagonia box and sip a beer while literally looking down on the camp sites from my stupidly expensive with terrible WiFi, but comfortable, hotel.
Departing Torres was a mission made complicated by my plan to cross into Argentina and go straight to my next sight seeing destination. After researching many options (including the very handy website www.bussur.com and my friend Madison), I concluded that taking a risk of getting a shuttle to the national park entrance and attempting to hop on an unbooked bus to El Calafate was worth it. Cause I really didn’t want to spend another night in Natales having already been forced to spend 1 there when the ferry arrived 8 hours late. Through a bit of haggling, begging, and money, the driver let me on the bus! And helped me print my Argentine reciprocal fee receipt at the Chilean border. We swapped buses 3 times, and finally I was dropped off at a hotel that lucky for me had vacancies, an open restaurant at 10pm and a big fat scotch whiskey. Couldn’t wipe the smile from my face – I did it!!
El Calafate is a nice large tourist town. The Argentines do tourism better than the Chileans and the infrastructure is a higher standard. The main reason people, including me, come to this particular town is to see the Perito Moreno glacier. I had a full day trekking tour of this monster booked for 22 January and was the motivation for coming down to this part of the world. Now, this is jaw dropping and well worth the effort. Makes me want to go to Antarctica!
Torres hotel was booked directly at their website http://www.lastorres.com and was $368 USD a night! Getting there was a challenge and I ended up getting a lift with a man I met on the ferry. At the time I thought he was being generous, but when he dropped me at the hotel asked for $60….hmmmm. I guess I failed my first hitch-hiking experience.
Perito Moreno glacier Big Ice trek booked through http://www.hieloyaventura.com for $4000 Argentine Pesos ($260 USD). Take food, good shoes and a back pack to carry your crampons. There are lots of papers to fill and they don’t accept e-signature.

Malbec in Mendoza

7-12 January 2017
travellingross rating = 5/10
Mendoza is hot, rough and loves the fact that they are a developing wine district of the world. I did not realise that their claim to wine fame has only been the last couple of decades or so. But it was famous enough for me to be here. On a whim. One of my randomest yet. Thinking that I would do a January ski trip, following my Perth break, I had to scramble for an alternate plan when that did not come to fruition. It’s the time of year to visit Patagonia, so I thought why not and I’ve wanted to see this epic glacier down there. How hard can it be? But first I need somewhere to chill. Easter Island. But it was impossible to find a flight to the island. Lots coming back but none going in. Ok. Mendoza. Who doesn’t love a wine region?? So after a quiet, productive, ‘New Year, New Me’ work rotation, I left site relaxed and completely unready for what I was about to do.
It took ages to get to Mendoza, via Guyana and Panama and Santiago in Chile. The latter I was shocked that I had to pay a visa fee of $117 USD just to transit through the country. Not a good 1st impression Chile. Especially given that I already had to pay $100 USD for the privilege to enter Argentina thanks to Australia charging these 2 countries a fee for their nationals to enter ours. All leaving a bad taste in my mouth and this was the first moment of many during this trip when I questioned “why I am here?”
I jumped into what I’m sure was an unregistered taxi and we sped across town to my Airbnb apartment that I had booked 2 days ago. We got lost. Yep there are two Lamadrid streets in Mendoza. And Mr Taxi took me to the wrong one (no Uber here yet unfortunately). Once I did get to my apartment I was happy that it was a passcode entry and I did not have to talk to a single human being to check-in. A bottle of wine greeted me on the table and I was impressed with this loft apartment.
Over the next few days, I went on two different style of wine tours. One to Luján de Cuyo where we visited Dominio del Plata, Matervini, Caserena (lunch) and Mendel (for $170 USD through Trout and Wine). And another bicycle tour to the farther out Valle de Uco (for $150 USD through Mendoza Wine Bike Tour). The first could’ve been done by anyone and nothing amazing. The bike tour was memorable and I highly recommend for something different and to immerse yourself in the region. But it is for the fit who don’t mind the sun.
All the wineries give very long tours of their fermentation and process. 45 mins. Before you do the tasting. Boring when the process is all the same and they act like their winery is unique. Or maybe I just found it boring cause it lacked the awesome people who I normally do wine tours with. The lunches though are incredible and they do not hold back on the wine or the food. Pairing the wine with food is what they do best. I also learned something new – rinse the glass between tastings with a cheap table wine, not water.
Overall, Mendoza is not a very attractive city, quite dirty and chaotic. I think when the mountains are visible it might be more scenic. Out at the wineries it can be pretty, but not jaw dropping. And Spanish speaking would change your whole outlook. I tried to call a taxi and they only speak Spanish; that’s when I realised my Spanish is so pathetic I can’t even order a cab. Luckily I was able to message the Airbnb host to ask her to order a taxi to my dinner reservation at 1884 Francis Mallmann, which was rated as one of the best restaurants in Latin America and it was deluxe. So personally, I would not recommend it compared to the great wine regions of the world. And I got a terrible head cold a day after arriving (thanks 24 hour airline travel!), which I could not shake even with copious amounts of wine. I realise this prolonged it. I just like to point out that I am a trooper who does not let a head cold get in the way of a travel experience.
I would not recommend the Airbnb apartment. Lovely place with everything you could need and perfect host all for $77 per night. But the location is a bit boring. Sure… it’s an 8 minute walk to a street full of restaurants, but no shops or hotels to grab a cab. And the loft bedroom was hotttttttttttttttttt. Not in a good way, just sweaty and stifling.

I Go to Rio…de Janeiro

7– 11 September 2016

Travellingross Rating: 8 out of 10

Rio de Janeiro is a mega city of the world that I have wanted to see for a while. Having visited iconic cities across the world I was keen to compare. About an hour from the airport to my small Copacabana Airbnb apartment and it was time for dinner. Having read multiple stories of theft, muggings and violence, I was prepared to get robbed so I had a decoy wallet and minimal belongings on my person. But I found the neighborhood around my place fine although full of graffiti. Well, like any city with a few questionable characters and back lanes you wouldn’t walk down in broad daylight let alone after dark. And it’s dark by 6pm.
The beach is as expected – mammoth, crowded and scenic. The weather for most days was cloudy, and I spent the best part of a day venturing to Barra to collect my Paralympic tickets. I like how there are bars/food places right on the beach edge and they make use of all the sand for beach volleyball and other activities. And the sand is so soft.
The main activity for me in Rio was the Paralympics – I bought tickets to athletics, track cycling and swimming all for $60! Here are some random highlights and observations that I noted at the time:
Athletics was at the Olympic stadium and had events going on everywhere you look and takes a while to work out. Great seats just left of the track finish line. One woman from Mali led all the way in the 1500m but then dropped back in the last lap and almost gave up but the crowd cheered for her and she picked up her head and finished the race. Inspiring.
Track cycling was at the Olympic Park (which seriously lacked shade) and was cool to see but repetitive watching heat after heat of 4000m. I thought there would be a variety of categories competing but I guess from a scheduling perspective it is sensible to not do this. Watching cyclists with 1 leg is incredible and makes me never want to complain about exercise again! Swimming was also at the Olympic Park and I had great seats right above the media where the medalists came by for a photo call.
Random observations: Brazilians say coca, not coke or cola. Lots and lots of people with bracers.
The journey to visit Christ the Redeemer statue took all afternoon and had line after line after line. I’m not sure if this is everyday or because it was a Sunday and the first clear weather in 4 days. As I waited literally hours I kept thinking to myself that this better be worth it. Thankfully it was. Fantastic views, iconic statue, and watching people be fools trying to get the best selfie. It was packed. Having accomplished this, I rewarded myself with a night out in Ipanema before a morning flight to Salvador.

 

 

Iguassu Falls: Indescribably Epic

2– 6 September 2016

Travellingross Rating: 10 out of 10

Brazil has long been on my travel to-do list, but getting a visa has always been a hassle and turned me off trying. So when I heard that this year over the few months of the Olympics, Brazil was waiving visa requirements I was hooked. Usually I don’t plan or think of what to do on a break until say 2 weeks out. But this one I had a fair idea about since the beginning of the year. I am still winging it, but I knew that Iguassu Falls was a must-visit after seeing the photos a friend took during a visit some years ago. I have a thing for waterfalls and the more epic the better – Victoria, Niagara…now Iguassu.

But like anything epic, it starts with a journey. 17.5 hours. Including an 8 hour layover. Following a good work rotation where I was actually able to find time to go for a run after work, I was not my usual wiped out self on day 23. I went out for dinner with a friend in Parbo then got picked up at 10:45 pm for the airport. Odd flight time of 1:45 am meant I didn’t even sleep in the city compared to the last few breaks where I have been staying a night or 2 before flying out.
Belem airport was more advanced than I expected. English seems to not be widely spoken though and I quickly remembered that Portuguese is not that similar to Spanish. I got through immigration without a word spoken, and I didn’t even have to fill a form! I am amazed that my bag and I made all the connections including a twenty-minute connection in Rio. With a driver waiting for me at the Foz do Iguacu airport, I was ready to relax.
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is flawless. I cannot fault a single thing. From the welcome at reception (and free room upgrade!), to the fireplace filled lounge, to the barman carefully explaining the varied types of Caipirinha, to the breakfast, to the views, to the perfect rooms with the little sticker on the toilet paper….I could go on haha. Great recommendation. Although only 2 nights is required to see the sights, I booked 4 because of timing and because I knew I would enjoy the down-time.
The Falls are incredible. Over 270 individual waterfalls occur across this divide between Argentina and Brazil. The photos hopefully tell the story. They say the Brazil side has the view, the Argentine side has the experience. Basically you get drenched on the other side with an immersive experience across a lot of boardwalks, whereas Brazil has the panoramic views and one boardwalk that looks up the main chasm “the devils throat”.  I thought a lot about crossing the border to also visit the Argentinian side but decided not to.
 
The weather was not the best. 2 days were wet and cold (17C). Nice to relax in the hotel with a hot stone Amazonian massage and drink, while catching up on life. The pool is heated but I didn’t swim. I really wanted to do the helicopter trip over the falls and luckily on my last day the clouds cleared and the choppers were able to fly. Fortunately I did not have a flight to Rio until 4pm so I had time. It was only a 10 minute flight, but so good. I did a similar flight over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe many moons ago and really like the vantage you get from the air and seeing the mist swirl up.
So, I am really happy to be in Brazil. To have seen the Iguassu Falls. And this is just the beginning.

Turtle Time in Galibi, Suriname

11-12 June 2016

7 out of 10

After my first standard rotation of 23 days for quite some time, I decided to spend the first few days of break in Suriname to explore more of the country and see the turtles that come ashore for a few months a year to lay eggs. I missed it last year, so booked a 2 day tour and set off. After a night out in Parbo first…
The tour set off at 8:30 am in a vehicle that did not have seat belts for the passengers in the back seats. And along the same highway I travel to work, but this time instead of turning at Moengo, we went all the way to Albina. It was interesting to cross the Marowijne River into French Guyana and see prices in Euro and the French flag flying. The canoe trip to Galibi (not accessible by road) was fun and occasionally bumpy rocking against the waves. Accommodation was much better than expected with simple bed in my own room as only six on the tour. The town is dull and unremarkable.
Saw two turtles, one of each type and watched them dig a hole and lay eggs. Was great and fascinating to watch these creatures. But thought we’d see more and wait around to watch the turtles cover their eggs and head back to the ocean. Instead we left soon after the egg laying started. Likely because a bunch of other tourists arrived on the same stretch of beach. Up until then we had been alone which was peaceful. After a rough and horrible canoe trip back to town, we arrived at 11pm for a game of cards. In my mind I thought we would be out til 3am or so.
The guide did not communicate a single word of English, so fortunately a Spanish girl who also is fluent in Dutch translated the key points for me. It was a lot of driving/travelling in 2 days, but overall I enjoyed it. And it was great to see more of the country I’ve been working in for eighteen months. Something I never wanted to do in Ghana.
How to Make this Trip
Tour booked through Jenny Tours

It’s Been Ages: Suri, Denver, Suri, Home, Suri, Sint Maarten

Tuesday 8 September to 22 November 2015

Well it has been a long while since my last post. I had a free day in Paramaribo on 8 September after I returned from Windsor, and on this day I found out my Grandfather was diagnosed with a brain tumour with a very short prognosis. With that devastating news I started my rotation. It was the most hectic yet as the project hit peak, I moved into a new camp and there were many meetings (including one week in Denver), issues and events that occupied my time. None of it fully planned. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only thing that stresses me out is when everyone wants a piece of me. I felt it more than I think ever before.

With flights booked back to Perth hopeful to see my Grandfather one last time, I was scheduled to land on my nephews 3rd birthday and grand final day with my team, the West Coast Eagles, in the Aussie rules football ultimate game. Flight delayed. Not an hour, not a day, but 2 days. Luckily my good friend Madison was on the same flight to Amsterdam so we spent a couple days in Parbo. Worse places to be, and being in a fine hotel such as the Marriott is better than most places. I finally departed Parbo early evening on 3 October and slept on 4 continents in 4 days to get home. I won’t detail my 8 days at home in Perth. Other than to say it was important to be with family, the first time for 9 months, and the funeral went all according to plan. My time on the ground was brief and I experienced another flight cancellation along the way. But who complains in these circumstances.

I flew back 16 October (my cousins 18th Birthday!) 3 days early (which I will take for a Perth Christmas) for an audit. Went well and set me up for a 27 day rotation as I also stayed a bit longer. Busy but productive, with some memorable moments of hiring people, giving promotions, playing complex boardgames, work mates birthdays, booking my home Christmas flights and Madison resigning. Never a dull moment in Suriname and I still struggle to find the time to just be by myself and catch up on outside life. It’s quite social here! Which is weird considering the work hours are longer than Ghana.

With all that it was time for a break on 14 November. On an island, in a vacation rental, with no expectations, bookings, or must dos. Time to be alone. Let go of the work persona. Enter the Dutch colony of Sint Maarten. I only booked the trip a week before and the only planning was to fly into one island and out from another. There were a lot of Airbnb places to choose from and I’m really glad I picked a good one.

I went out with some work friends the night before flying out and with a 230am pick up for the airport we didn’t sleep. I was flying with another guy on the same first flight so we shared the weariness together. At least until Trinidad where he went home to Canada and I connected to the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. A short taxi trip to my Beacon Hill apartment and I thought I would crash out, but it was only 9:30am and a whole beautiful Saturday ahead so I powered up and explored. Simpson beach is windy and turbulent but beautiful to look at. The airstrip runs parallel to this beach so the roar of the jet engines is a bit distracting. I found a couple of nice bars and much to my stomachs surprise I was enjoying tequila sunrises. Nice. Then to the grocery store to stock up. This involved a trek passed the Sunset Bar and Grill overlooking Maho beach, which is famous for the low flying aeroplanes that land just metres from the beach. Crazy dangerous but awesome. People stand where the signs say don’t go so they can be literally blown away by the jet blast as planes take off. The force is a lot stronger than I thought, with people holding on to the fence so not to get blown back.

I ended up extending my stay by two nights to make it 9. I just wasn’t ready to move on. And that’s the beauty of travelling without a plan. Some days I stayed in and caught up on my life. Other days I ventured to the main town Phillipsburg. Most adventurous I got was a day trip to the English colony of Anguilla with an organised tour. The day was sunny and clear, but unfortunately the surf was up and the beach not as incredible as everyone makes it out to be. The sun sets early at 5:35pm so the evenings feel longer, which is good when I don’t want to spend full days touring.

The apartment was blissfully quiet and modern for $139 USD per night very reasonable for the location. The owner lives in NYC and this is his vacation home that he rents out when vacant. The terrace had a nice view, but the waves reverberated off the enclosed space making it loud and having to shut the door to hear TV or music. Annoyingly the owner has a property manager who seemed to come and go as he pleased. One morning before 8am I’m still asleep and he came to hose down the salt from the terrace. Very invasive and not what you expect from a vacation rental. But other than these two things it was great. Oh and the owner only charged me a tiny fraction of the rate for the two nights I extended which was a welcome saving.

With the batteries recharged, the mind freed, the sleep reserves built up…time for some island hopping…

Suriname: Parbo and Berg en Dal

Wednesday 29 July to Wednesday 5 August 2015

travellingross rating = 8/10

My short rotations and short breaks continued. This time a 15 day rotation, then 7 days off then 15 days on before finally getting back to my normal 19 off, 23 on. All to provide coverage for one week when the top 4 environmental staff would be off-site. I don’t mind it all that much but it is hard to get into a rhythm and have people around you wondering what the hell kind of roster you are doing. But for sure I was not going to fly out of the country for just 7 days off. So I stayed in Suriname. Spent 5 nights in Paramaribo at a different and nicer hotel than the Marriott which is what work puts us up at (although I have reached Gold Status with Marriott so the upgraded rooms are growing on me). Had 2 nights at a jungle resort as well. Would like to have travelled along the coast to see the turtles coming ashore to lay eggs but it is wrong time of year.

I tried to make plans with the locals I knew were on break in Parbo but quickly realised the Surinamese are not the greatest for sticking to plans. They don’t know what they’re doing until 5 minutes before they do it. It’s a level of disorganization that grates against my every instinct and motive. But maybe that’s all part of the test. I did spend a day out with some local guys from work and went to the cinema (saw Pixels which I enjoyed), which was good to see parts of town I’m yet to experience.

Berg en Dal (the jungle resort) is considerably larger than I expected. Full bus load of people came along with me for the 2 hour journey from the city. Beautiful setting by the river. Had to wait 2 hours before I could check into room. Food is average. Lots of families. Down side was that everyone speaks Dutch so all the tour info and greetings are in Dutch (this convinced me to download the Dutch language in Duolingo and finally succumb to learning Dutch over Spanish). Very tranquil place with cabins immersed in the rainforest like you’re in a tree house. No ceiling fans anywhere so lack of air movement makes it stuffy in this humid climate, but rooms have air cons. The beds are super comfortable soft, but I do prefer a firm mattress. There was a father and son who wore the same outfit every day – day and night. There are many adventure activities available; I chose kayak on the Suriname River which was a good mix of energy and exploration (the threat of Piranhas is an added incentive not to capsize).

The 7 days spent in Suriname were perfect time off to catch up on life and have some alone time. Work is so time consuming and hectic that there’s not much time to do anything else. Or when I do have a spare hour, I just want to vegetate.

Suriname: A Dry Easter with Sloths

Tuesday 24 March to Wednesday 15 April 2015

travellingross rating = 9/10

Still in Costa Rica, the newly tyre changed rental car made it to the petrol station on the sniff of an oily rag where I fuelled up and returned the car. Sitting in the free shuttle to the airport I yelled stop as I glanced out the window to notice my wallet sitting on the rental car company counter. Phew, close call. Costa Rica is one of those silly countries that charges a departure tax. And u have to pay before going to check in. I didn’t leave much time for this but lucky I checked in online and no bags to check. 3 flights and I was back in Paramaribo fairly exhausted which is not how this break thing is meant to work. It actually took me 5 or so days to get back to a normal sleep pattern which is odd for me.

This rotation was zero alcohol! It’s something I wanted to do when I started. I actually hoped this would be a dry camp not selling alcohol. Working continuously like this is tiring enough without throwing in the temptation of a beer or several down at the bar. Most people couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t drink but I still socialised and went to the bar. Sometimes with a mug of tea! I think I’ll make this a trend.

Highlights this rotation:

  • Installation of new air quality and weather monitoring stations. Was a long planned project so it was good to see it through to install.
  • Easter. Quiet and not really commemorated here. But I still had my own Easter moments.
  • Putting on weight. When I drink, I lose weight.  So the best part of a month without booze is I have noticed a few extra kilos which is a good thing for me.
  • Sloth. I saw my first one!!! It’s kind of a must-do in Suriname to see a sloth and better yet to relocate one that could otherwise be harmed by clearing activities. So this Good Friday was my sloth relocation day. Strange looking, slow-moving and shy. Remind me of koala’s.
  • Running. I finally started running again. The geology superintendent is a runner and dragged me along. He was impressed I could go the 7 km distance and keep pace. So I guess I’ve still got it and we went several times when weather was kind.  We actually had a whole week without rain. Driest I’ve seen Suriname yet.
  • Work. Continues to be enjoyable and I’m happy overall. Some testing times that raise my heart rate. But nothing I can’t handle. I’m focusing on the big picture a lot more this time around and not sweating the small stuff. So long as I’m learning, I’m happy. I am exposed to different perspectives and methods to build my work and life knowledge.
  • TV. They didn’t pay the bill so the t.v. in dining room didn’t even work 90% of this rotation. No CNN, not even crappy soccer. And the internet has been terribly unreliable, but that doesn’t really affect me since I have a private SIM card with internet. We joke that this workplace is worse than North Korea for external communication. When international dialing was cut, along with TV and internet, the IT Manager was re-named Kim Jong Un and I started to wonder if I woke up in 1995.
  • Evictions. The army came to site to evict the illegal miners from our property. Never seen so many guns and ammunition in my life. Overall no violence, but a bit concerning to have breakfast with a bunch of uniformed guys carrying weapons.

Farewells, Welcomes and More this Rotation

Wednesday 11 February to Friday 13 March 2015

travellingross rating = 8.5/10

Following 6 relaxing nights in Tobago, I got back to Suriname for the longest rotation yet…

  1. Night 1 on site was farewell party for Matt. Great night as always and people came down from construction camp to celebrate with him at the purple heart exploration camp bar.
  2. Valentine’s day. I told myself I would not go to the bar. But my arm is rubbery and easily twisted. It was Saturday night after all. And I dropped my phone as I got it out of my pocket to show a photo.  Dropped on the top right corner smashing the screen. Devo central. I use my phone for everything in life. Luckily one of the mining engineers had an adapter where I could plug a mouse into the phone and use a curser to navigate around the broken screen. I did this for weeks until my new phone arrived from the USA care of my life saver Ryan.
  3. Melissa started. A colleague and friend since we worked together at Boddington and fresh out of New Zealand. I recruited her to join me in the jungle. After 2 days of exhausting travel to the other side of Earth, I’ve rarely seen someone so pleased to see me as she rolled late into camp at 820pm 16 Feb. Great showing her around and having a fellow Aussie to chat to and someone who instantly knows my work style, method and temperament.
  4. Another expat employee in my group started. His first time out of the USA. Dedicated to erosion and sediment control. Getting new starters mobilised and settled requires a lot of organisation and a fresh thought process for me to share my expat learnings with first timers. Both are coming back for second rotation so I must be doing something right!
  5. Madison’s birthday. Great times. But the construction camp bar is terrible compared to the exploration camp bar. Explo camp might have water/electricity/internet outages all the time, but damn we have the best bar.
  6. Biggest concrete pour to date (400m3)
  7. 1st ore movement in pit
  8. Executives visit. There are not many people I would stay in for. But the top boss for environment and social is one such person. So I extended a week to be at site for the 2 day 10 person delegation from Denver. A couple of tough questions and I gave a couple presentations. But went well and I got positive feedback, mostly related to how relieved Denver is that I am here. They trust me and have confidence in my abilities.

Needless to say I was brain drained at the end of this 32 day rotation. Productive, enjoyable and much better than the last one. The sun is setting later so I have time for walks after work which is nice to break up the days. Longer rotation means shorter break. But I will take days in lieu next break. For now I have 12 days in central America.