From Jungle to Jungle

Posted on Wednesday October 7, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

More from Venezuela

The Botanical Gardens Cuidad Boliviar. The Botanical Gardens Cuidad Boliviar.

Now that I have more time, I will go a little more in-depth regarding the last week or so. We sadly left Isla de Margarita. It was a really great place. Ami said a number of times that she could imagine just taking a short trip there and spending a couple of weeks sometime later. We took a ferry to Port of Cruz. The ferry ride took about two hours. The ferry was very nice and smooth ride (a nice change from the small sailing yacht we were on before). I guess there was some sort of wildlife out the window, but both Ami and I missed it. All I know is I was listening to some Daddy Yankee on my iPod and then there was a commotion and everybody was standing next to the window. When I tried asking in broken Spanish what they saw, I believe they told me it was dolphins.

When we got to Puerto La Cruz we took a taxi to the bus terminal. Our broken Spanish made us think we had to wait around the bus station until the early morning. We came to find out that we were catching the bus that was leaving in a half hour.

It was a 10 hour bus ride to get to Ciudad Bolívar. We stayed at a place called Hotel Ritz. It’s really a kind of funny name, because it is probably the dingiest accommodations that we have stayed at so far (and that’s saying a little bit). We got there and finally found a bus heading the right direction and it was starting to get dark. We were greeted by a couple of Missionaries (I mentioned them before). They were a bit older and they told us that it is unsafe to go out after 6pm. Through hand motions and similar words in both English/Spanish we figured out that he was worried we might get robbed or shot. We were tired anyways from the bus ride earlier and decided to stay in. Later that night we ate a meal at the Hotel, talked with the missionaries for a while and just went to sleep. While I was standing outside our room, I could have sworn that I saw a lemur or something similar. But after getting my flashlight the only animal that I could find in the nearby tree was a cat (I’m not saying there wasn’t a lemur though).

The next day, after a breakfast of fruit and empanadas we wondered down to the Jardín Botánico Del Orinoco. It was a really pretty park. A lot of it was under construction. At the far end, it looked like they were getting ready to plant a bunch of parts of a type of display garden. There was also a giant fish tank that didn’t have anything in it. We did see an iguana in the trees and try to sneak into the payed part of the garden during everybody’s lunch break (we didn’t realize that you had to pay for a guide). After spending time at the park, finding lunch, and relaxing at the Hotel Ritz… we went to wait at airport (where we were too catch our bus). About then it started storming. It was the first real rain storm that we’ve gotten while we’ve been here. Which I find to be really odd, due to the fact that it’s supposed to be the rainy season. The power went out at the airport several times, the wind tried to blow the glass doors off the hinges, rain came down sideways and tried to flood the doorway. It was a pretty amazing storm.

Hanging out in Santa Elena de Uairén Waiting for Brazilian Visas

It was another 10 hour overnight bus ride to get to Santa Elena de Uairén. I find it nice to arrive in a city in the early morning. It’s much better than trying to figure things out late at night. The problem is that you never really sleep on the night bus (especially when it’s deathly cold as the buses are in Venezuela). Shivering we left to find Hotel Michelle. Both Ami and I passed out for a couple of hours before we set off to try to find food/visas… and trouble.

One thing that you must understand about Venezuela is that it is a very cash oriented society. Almost nowhere accepts visa (really the commercials lie… it’s not good everywhere). The places that do accept visa it’s a bad idea to use it. Currently the exchange rate for the bolívar fuerte is about 2 to 1 USD. If you get this as the exchange rate Venezuela quickly becomes a very expensive country. The best thing to do is to go to the “black market” and exchange your money. There we got 5 to 7 for each USD. This expands your money well over a hundred percent. The “black market” is not as dodgy (to use a great term from the UK) as one might think. Usually in a town there are areas that many men stand around with calculators and fanny packs full of money. They just ask everyone if they want to cambio dollars. And you settle on a rate. I’ve seen the Guardia National watching them obviously. I guess there is some risk (somebody knowing how much cash you have, or taking your stack and running… etc). But it really isn’t bad. The problem comes when you don’t account for this before you get into Venezuela. This was our problem almost the whole time we were in Venezuela. When we were on Isla de Margarita our hotel owner had a friend who preformed a bank transfer getting us about a four to one rate. We figured the amounts that we would need to make it to Brazil… but fell short of the four nights that we ended up staying in Santa Elena de Uairén. We ended up paying for night at our hostel and using the last of our bolivars.

We woke up and went to find food (I’m happier and think better when I have something in my belly), hoping to just get the bad exchange rate though our debit cards. But it was nearly impossible (there is one in the city) to find a restaurant that excepted Visa. The two banks in town would not let us withdraw money from an international card either so that was not an option. After obtaining food, we found our way to the Brazilian Consulate who told us that we had to pay in bolivars to obtain our visa and that they did not want to start the process on a Friday (due to the fact that they would have to keep our passports over the weekend).

We ended up convincing a taxi driver to take us to La Linea (the town on the border of Brazil and Venezuela) to use the international ATM. At first the ATM wouldn’t accept our cards and we ended up enlisting the help of an an off duty police officer (the National Brazilian Police ended up calling him). Finally we got cash and went back to the Hotel. That night we decided we had some money, and we would go to the local Discotech. It turns out that not many people go out in Santa Elena de Uairén. But we danced at the local bar and the Discotech and had a really fun night. The next day we just kind of hummed around town with thoughts of trying to rent a car to get to some waterfalls (we were going to take a bus… but we couldn’t figure it out).

  Waterfall near Salto Agua Fria  Waterfall near Salto Agua Fria

You can check out the photos on Venezuelan Jungle Treks to See Waterfalls Facebook Album. The next day we ended up tagging along with some people from Poland to go on a short jungle trek. We went to go and see Salto Agua Fria (Cold Water Waterfall). It really wasn’t that cold, but was really amazing. On our trek we didn’t see a ton of wildlife (birds, insects, reptiles) but we did see some amazing views. We had to walk about an hour down this steep hill, wonder into the jungle crossing this river on stones several times. The first waterfall was pretty small, but when I first saw it I was really excited. We trekked up and down pulling ourselves up by the plentiful vines some more and finally made it to Salto Agua Fria. Most of the group of us who went, stripped down and jumped in the little pool that formed just below the waterfall. Sitting under the waterfall it was a little hard to breath with the pressure of the water falling from so high. Our guide lent us his socks to climb and jump off some rocks (a good second free fall). After getting out of the beautiful fresh water we started trekking again. We swung on some Tarzan vines and ended up the the second larger waterfall. This one was significantly lower than Salto Agua Fria, but had it’s own challenge. In Spanish our guide tells us to put everything in a garbage bag and strip down. We comply and he explains that we are going to climb straight up the waterfall. It was a really amazing experience.

After getting to the top of the water fall we left our stuff on some rocks and forded the river barefoot. We could hear water and assumed that we were coming upon another waterfall. Our guide told us to close our eyes and he hand led us through the river for a while. When he told us to open our eyes, we were staring at Salto Puerta del Cielo (The Door to the Heavens Waterfall). It was magnificent. We climbed up more and were able to get right under it. The entire waterfall ran over this jade rock.

It took us a long time to hike back up to the top. When we got to the top our guide asked if we wanted to hard or easy second part of the trek. We decided even though we were still out of breath, that we would take the hard way. We ended up driving a little ways and climbing down into the jungle at the top of Salto Puerta del Cielo. As we climbed down we came upon about 30 people just hanging out (swimming, BBQing, talking… etc). I feel like that is where I would be if I lived in Santa Elena. We wondered down the river, and found the edge of Salto Puerta del Cielo. It was really glorious to come to the top of the waterfall and be able to look out at at the expansive jungle.

After trekking back to the car and making it back to Santa Elena we were both pretty exhausted. We figured it would be a good day to sit and watch a movie. The first movie I bought the store owner said that it was in English… but we quickly found out that none of the six movies were in English (burned disk with 6 different movies). I was sad, because the movie I had wanted to watch was Man on Fire, a movie about abduction in Latin America. We went out for a second try and found a really nice and excited store owner. He showed us which movies were in English and which weren’t. He even let us preview them. We ended up watching The Soloist, a really great movie I’d recommend.

  Yep... all my hair is gone! Me in Manaus at the Teatro Amazon with all my hair gone.  Yep… all my hair is gone! Me in Manaus at the Teatro Amazon with all my hair gone.

The next day was Monday, and the Brazilian Consulate was finally going to be open. We went and paid for our visas. We spent the day going to La Línea to pull out more Brazilian Reais with the idea that we would exchange them on the black market (maybe once or twice) and hopefully make some sort of profit. When we got to the ATM, both of our cards were denied. Almost two hours of phone calls later, and some lunch later we got our debit cards unblocked (they got blocked because we didn’t notify our banks prior to traveling). We decided to just pull out some and exchange it. The problem is since we’ve been in Brazil nobody seems to want to exchange our Bolivars (and give us about a 150% profit).

When we finally got back I went and got my hair cut. It’s really complicated to explain to somebody how to cut your hair. I tried to tell the lady how much I wanted cut off. I think that she just wanted to cut my hair how she thought it should be done. I came out of the salon feeling much lighter and with very little hair.

The Next day we went back to La Línea and caught a taxi for about 2.5 hours and $15 USD. Then we took a 12 hour bus ride to Manaus. We arrived early in the morning having met new fellow travelers. We caught a taxi to Hostel Manaus. While we’ve been in Manaus we have done some pretty cool things. We went to a wildlife preserve, A giant discotek, got an English tour of Teatro Amazonas (the Amazonian Opera House), and just wondering around. It’s been really fun so far. Pictures coming soon.

Sad to Leave the Caribbean Lifestyle

Posted on Saturday October 3, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Yacht Trips, All Inclusive Hotels, Two Day Birthday Celebrations, and Leaving

 Sunset Off the Yacht Sunset Off the Yacht

As I briefly described in the last post, we got the opportunity to go on a small yacht. This was a pretty phenomenal opportunity. It also meant that Ami got to celebrate her birthday on two separate days (something that I don’t think I will get in return). A guy named Gorden (originally from Great Britain, and having retired on his yacht for the last 15 years) took us out. Michael (the hotel owner) and two travelers from England (Son & Ella) all went out. I decided that I’m not a sailor by nature (so maybe I’ll have to practice and I’ll get there). While I didn’t puke, I did get very noxious both going and coming from Islas Los Frailes (about a 4 hour sailing trip there, and 2.5 hours coming back). When we got there, I burnt my back getting lost snorkeling. There were bits of coral, amazing tropical fish, and beautiful countryside/water. After I and especially Ami were thoroughly burned we got the opportunity to play with some scuba gear for a short period of time. It reminded me of my days wanting to be an underwater photographer and wanting to become certified to dive. We ate some chips and corned beef to sail with the wind at our backs and the sun setting beautifully over the oceans expanse. When I tried to sail, I got the boat to spin to donuts (on purpose, I swear). Gordon gave us some jungle homemade wine, told us sailing stories (both about women and the sea), and felt the cool ocean breeze. When we got back, I went and bought Ami a Tarta (A kind of cake). They turned the lights down low, everybody at Hotel Patrick sang happy birthday to Ami and her extinguishing candle.

 Ami trying to flip over a turtle. Ami trying to flip over a turtle.

The next morning, we made our way to La Asunción, the capital of the provincia that we are in. It’s a quaint Spanish colonial town. We got to see the museum, the oldest church in Isla de Margarita, and some neat art work. We also got lost looking for our next bus and ended up getting picked up by some nice locals (kind of hitch hiking…). We went to Playa Agua, a very long beach that is on par with the same in California. Although we didn’t make it to the beach. We went to Palm Beach Hotel and met up with some fellow travelers we met on the ferry, Daniel and Bine. They are an awesome Austrian couple where were ending their trip. They had an all inclusive stay and ended up continuously brining us drinks for Ami’s birthday (number 2). After that, we made our way back to Hotel Patrick for a fresh fish dinner. It was so amazing with potatoes and onions. We hung out with everybody, talking, dancing, playing some games… a pretty great night.

Today we relaxed, finalized some of our plans (we are heading to Ciudad Bolívar Venezuela and then to Manaus Brazil). We went to Polamar to get our ferry tickets, hung out and looked at the local shopping, drank tea, and came back to Hotel Patrick. We had to say good bye to everybody because we are leaving early in the morning (speaking of which I ought to head to sleep here in a couple of minutes. We will both miss being here at Isla de Margarita and the Caribbean.

Long Bus Rides and Jungle Cities

I’ll apologize straight off, I wrote the majority of this post several days ago, but we have mostly been without internet. Currently I’m in Santa Elena Venezuela. It’s interesting that we are in an area called el fronteira (the frontier). It’s not a tiny town, but it is small and in the jungle. It’s also very beautiful.

After leaving Margarita Island, we took a ferry which landed us in Porta La Cruz. We were immediately able to catch a bus heading down to Ciudad Bolivar. We spent the night at a place called The Ritz (a very sarcastic name). It was a fun place to stay. We met a missionary there named Raul and had some pretty awesome broken conversations. The next day we went to the botanical gardens (but mainly walked around the park. As it started to get dark, we decided that it was time to try to get our bus down to Santa Elena de Uairen. It was a 10 to 12 hour bus ride… but I at least got some sleep.

We are staying right now in the Hotel Michelle. It’s a pretty nice. We went out last night to try to go dancing… but there weren’t as many people as we would expect on a Friday night. Today we spent time thinking about going to some waterfalls, but had trouble finding the bus that headed that direction. All and all it’s been pretty amazing. We are hoping that we can get our visas on Monday and head into Brazil. Hopefully when we get to Manaus there will be wifi and I can upload pictures and spend more time updating everybody.

Out of Trinidad & Tobago and into the New World of Venezuela

Posted on Monday September 28, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 This is a photo is from my missions trip to Africa. We went for a speak at a church in  Goma . It was kind of intense, there apparently was fighting going on within 100 miles of where we were. You can check out  Africa Mission Trip 2002 -- pt 1 Facebook Album  and  Africa Mission Trip 2002 -- pt 2 Facebook Album . This is a photo is from my missions trip to Africa. We went for a speak at a church in Goma . It was kind of intense, there apparently was fighting going on within 100 miles of where we were. You can check out Africa Mission Trip 2002 – pt 1 Facebook Album and Africa Mission Trip 2002 – pt 2 Facebook Album .

What is Our Relationship to the Poor and Needy

Traveling through South America there are a lot of opportunities to see different governments, social service institutions, churches, and poverty. But what is the churches/government’s responsibility to these people. Psalm 82 seems to address just this and share some of God’s heart to the poor and needy.

God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly And show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. “Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes.” Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations. – Psalm 82:1-8

I find this Psalm particularly interesting. I was reading it while I was in Trinidad at the Hotel. I think it was really interesting to read before we made it to Venezuela, a mostly socialist nation. While it seems to have corruption, and a lot of it’s own issues… it is interesting to see how they care for their people.

Particularly with this Psalm, I find it interesting that it describes God both judging the church and the rulers (v. 1). It talks about about God judging them based on three tasks (vs. 3-4).

  1. How they vindicate the weak and fatherless
  2. Do justice to the afflicted and destitute
  3. Rescue the weak and needy and deliver them out of the hand of the wicked

In the Christian circles I travel in, it seems well known that it is the churches/individuals responsibility to take care of those in need. Within those circles, I don’t hear very much about that same responsibility being on the government/officials. If I was to describe my political viewpoint, it can sometimes be difficult to describe.

I would describe myself as pragmatically very liberal, but idealistically conservative. This means that in an ideal world all of the poor, needy, destitute, fatherless would be cared for in the private sector. I believe the private sector is much efficient and people friendly. Having worked within some of the bureaucracy in Washington State (DSHS, and JRA) I have found the pubic agencies to be difficult to find services for people, sometimes have more burnt-out people working there, and they are not efficient. It seems very different in the private sector. This is especially true in regards to if it’s a church/individual. The problem I see, and the reason that I would say pragmatically I’m very liberal is that I don’t see the private sector as having the funds, and the churches/individuals are not stepping up enough. In my introduction to Social Work Class, my professor described that the yearly budget for United Way (a giant international agency) is the same as the daily budget for DSHS. It seems that while the private sector is a more idealistic way to go, that the finances are not there.

When Ps 82 describes that the government officials are responsible for how they have done justice to the people, I think that we ought to listen. While there are many needs and problems in a country like Venezuela, at least they have a health care system that looks after all of their people. Something that I hope happens soon in the United States. I just pray that our politicians will get a measure of the fear of God and understand that they will be judged according to how they work for the people they govern.

The last little bit of Trinidad & Tobago

 A Tomb in Lapeyrouse Cemetery that was obviously lived in by the homeless A Tomb in Lapeyrouse Cemetery that was obviously lived in by the homeless

Again, you can see all the photo’s from Trinidad & Tobago on their album on Facebook (Miami Heat in the Evening and Trinidad CoExisting Island Style Facebook Album). We ended up spending a total of five days in both Trinidad & Tobago. It was really interesting to go and walk around Lapeyrouse Cemetery in Port of Spain. We saw a couple of homeless people. One of which was a bit scary because he was walking around with a lead pipe. We met a father and son (at least that was our guess) who were staying in a tomb in in the cemetery. The father talked to us for a while, and it was really interesting to hear his perspective. We ended up giving him some TT (the money used in Trinidad & Tobago). I was struck thinking that I couldn’t imagine living inside of a tomb. By the third day in Port of Spain, we were ready to head out and find a beach somewhere. The only problem is that they are not easy to get to in Trinidad (at least there were non in Port of Spain, you have to go to another part of the country). We had heard really great things about Tobago, so we decided to adventure out to there.

There are ferries that run multiple times per day to Trinidad. We landed in The Port of Scarborough. We ended up staying at a guest house with a lady named Phyllis. It was beautiful to sit on the porch and talk with her about life/politics. The next day we went to the Beach at Store Bay. There is a beautiful beach there, and we got to meet some travelers from England there. We did not stay in Tobago for very long, and we had to catch a ferry to Venezuela early the next morning.

Venezuela: Guardia Nacional, Fellow Travelers, and Beaches/Yachts

 The Beach at Store Bay The Beach at Store Bay

We originally flew into Trinidad, because it had the cheapest flights. We figured that it would be really simple to get to the mainland and head to Venezuela. This was not the case. We found one ferry that travels to Guiria once a week. Trinidad is significantly more expensive and less friendly then Venezuela so we were really glad to finally make it to the mainland. On the Ferry we ended up meeting about 10 other European travelers (from England, Germany, and Austria). This was a very beautiful thing. It is really strange to get into a new country, be unsure of the money, not know where you are, have issues with the language… etc. Traveling in a group is a great thing. We had gotten to Guiria too late to catch a bus to Cumana. We had to exchange some US dollars on the “black market” and catch a taxi to Carupano. Venezuela’s exchange rate is about 2 Venezuelan bolivar fortes to 1 USD. But if you exchange on the “black market” it’s about 5-7. The best we’ve found has been 6.

Before leaving Guiria, our taxis were stopped by the Guardia Nacional (the national police… or these guy’s with large guns speaking to you in Spanish). We all had to empty our bags/pockets. They wanted to know how much money we had, and even made us count it out for them (I think due to black market). About an hour taxi ride later we were stopped again, and had to do the same. Every other Guardia Nacional stop after that, we clapped for the taxi driver because we didn’t have to stop. I was worried about some sort of “imposed tax” but there was nothing like that. An almost 3.5 hour taxi drive later we ended up in Carupano (it only cost the equivalent of $6 each person… amazingly cheap). We grabbed some empanadas, and caught a bus to Cumana. We arrived pretty late in Cumana and stayed at a place called the Hotel Astoria. The next morning we did some exploring, and six of us took a ferry to Margarita Island.

Ami and I having a Margarita on Isla de Margarita Ami and I having a Margarita on Isla de Margarita

The first night we stayed in a city in Polamar (Hotel Centro… basic accommodations but under $10 per night). The next morning we found out that the governor of Isla de Margarita had called an holiday the day before. We watched Hugo Chavez talk about Bush trying to assassinate him on Larry King Live only to find out that he (and other Latin/African national leaders) were having a summit on Isla de Margarita. With everything closed we made our way to Juan Griego to stay at Hotel Patrick. While we didn’t realize this, Chavez was to have the summit right outside of the city. We arrived disoriented with two other English travelers in Juan Griego to a crowd gathering to hopefully get to see the loved presidente (apparently not everybody is happy with him, but this city is a part of his political base). We’ve found Hotel Patrick to be the best we’ve stayed in (and for me better than anywhere in Europe). While we’ve been here, we have spent our days at the beach. Playa Caribe is a wonderful beach. We also chartered a 30 ft yacht ($50 per person) who took us to this beautiful little island and we snorkeled/scuba dived (amazing fish and a little bit of reef), got to learn to sail a little bit. It has been truly the vacation part of our trip. Tomorrow we are meeting up with our friends from Austria and celebrating Ami’s second birthday (she will get two parties… lucky).

Quick Update From Isla de Margarita

Posted on Sunday September 27, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

While traveling sometimes, it seems like I might spend too much time on my computer. Especially because I am a bit of a perfectionist, I take quite a bit of time to get any one thing finished. I was hoping to write about some of my experiences over the last week… but it’s just taken way too long to get everything done (so hopefully tomorrow). It’s already almost 11pm here in Venezuela, and I have a 6am boating excursion in the morning. I did figure that I would leave you with a couple of things. I’m making a list of all my posts, and other facts (including my Google Maps trip viewer) at a page on my blog (Jaunt Down South). I have uploaded my pictures so far from Venezuela, Entering a Whole New World Facebook Album. I have also updated places that we have been on my Google Maps:

View Jaunt Down to South America in a larger map

So happy viewing and I will write more soon.

From Surreal to Real

Posted on Monday September 21, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Some background

 From surreal to real From surreal to real

The last days before heading out on this adventure of a lifetime (see post: Let The World Change You, and… You Can Change The World for more information on my trip) I had a lot of different feelings and thoughts. You can also see my photo’s I uploaded of my End of Summer Adventures Facebook Albums. It felt very surreal to know that i was leaving for a long period of time. Spending some last day’s hanging out with friends, it felt like I would be able to see them again anytime that I wanted… just like I always have been able to. When I gave back my apartment, I had a realization that I was then homeless. Hanging out with my mom before I left, I went on my way feeling like I haven’t spent enough time with her during the last couple of years.

The closer I got to the trip, getting inside the airplane… landing in Dallas then in Miami… then in Trinidad it all became very real.

The Miami Heat

You can view the album Miami Heat in the Evening and Trinidad CoExisting Island Style Facebok Album if you are interested in seeing the pictures.

So I guess that I ought to explain a little bit of what’s happened so far in the last couple of days, so that you can keep up. We had a 12 hour layover in Miami, which was planned to be that way. While it was supper hot outside, it didn’t start out so hot. We took forever to figure out the bus system, missed the last night bus (at 12:30… doesn’t make sense). We ended up paying for a taxi ($32.00) to go to Miami Beach. It was a lot of fun, and worth all of the hardship. We salsa danced at Mango’s Tropical Cafe for a couple of hours. We spent some time at The Clevelander, a pretty cool club. We ended up wondering down to the beach and just playing in the water and talking about life, love, and God for a couple of hours. It was really great, and made me so glad that I was going with Ami. I could tell it would be a great trip. Around about 6am, it was getting late enough that we could catch a bus back to the airport. We first caught the one going the wrong way, then we ended up missing the next one. While we were waiting for the one after that, we got the great idea into our heads that we should sneak onto a yacht and do some exploring. Well, we missed the next bus due to that. So when we finally got back to the airport around 8am, combining jet lag and lack of sleep we were both exhausted. After three and a half more hours we were in Trinidad.

Co-Existing Island Style – Trinidad & Tobago

 Live Crabs on Fredrick St. Live Crabs on Fredrick St.

We arrived in Trinidad and encountered a couple of problems right away. First they didn’t want to let us into the country because we didn’t have a specific place we were staying and we didn’t have a specific plan for leaving. In hindsight, I believe that this is important. We took a taxi to Port of Spain, the city we are staying at in Trinidad. It poured rain on and off the first night. Ami and I were so tired that we both went to sleep around 6 or 7pm. The next morning, we woke up early. We met a couple of different people. First was Chester, who wondered around with us trying to help us find a restaurant. We ended up buying him a soda. Later we met Marcus, who we ended up paying about $15.00 for his service as a “certified tour guide.” Although we probably got swindled a bit, it was worth it to get to see the sights. One place that was really interesting was the Reggae club he took us to. It was pretty eclectic, locked people inside of this bar, and everybody was smoking marijuana. That night we ended up going out to see what the night life was. We ended up meeting a guy named Steven. He was totally enamored with Ami, and had no problem telling her that, after he found out that we weren’t together. Today, I slept in much later than Ami did. We wondered out looking for a meal, and then spent hours agonizing over how to get off of this expensive island. When we decided to just follow the plan we had made the day before (wait till Wednesday and take a ferry to Venezuela) , we walked down to Independence Square. It’s was pretty amazing to see how many people were out. It was full of the eclectic groups of people that make up Trinidad. From business men, families, Rastafarians, homeless, and everything in between. It was awesome to see so many people outside, enjoying community, parks, and the early evening. All and all, even though it’s become very real. I’m very excited to see what happens during this trip.

Let The World Change You, and… You Can Change The World

Posted on Friday July 24, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

The Motorcycle Diaries Poster Art

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) is about two men from Buenos Aires who make plans to travel by motorcycle travel around the coast of South America. The story comes from journey and written memoir of the 23-year-old Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara. Che Guevara years later become internationally known as the iconic Marxist revolutionary. The film recounts the 1952 journey, initially by motorcycle, across South America by Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado. As the adventure centered around youthful hedonism unfolds, Guevara discovers himself transformed by his observations of the life of the impoverished indigenous peasantry. The road presents Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado a genuine picture of the Latin American identity. Through the characters they encounter on the road, Guevara and Granado learn the injustices the impoverished face and are exposed to people they would have never encountered in their hometown. The trip serves to expose a Latin American identity as well as explore the identity of one of its most memorable revolutionaries. This description changed from Wikipedia entry

I watched this movie last night with my friend who I am going to be traveling around South America with. It was a powerful movie, and one that I highly recommend for anybody to watch. Watching it, made me think about my upcoming trip, and what some of my expectations/reasons for going are. The following is some of what these are

  • Learn Spanish: When I was in Barcelona Spain during my European Excursion, it was the place linguistically I felt the most comfortable. I want to be able to come back fluent, especially able to counsel and work with people I might other wise have had a language barrier.
  • Meet/See/Do: I’ve been very fortunate in my life to travel and see lots of the world. Already in my life I’ve been to four of the six continents I want to see (I have no desire to go to Antarctica). I love the feeling of being on the road. During my travels I’ve gotten to meet so many different people, that have improved and influenced my life. As I’ve gone places, the people have opened up my heart and encouraged me. I’ve also seen some of the most beautiful sights all around the world. I love seeing new places, and learning about the history and culture.
  • Sort of a Sabbatical: Sense graduating from High School, I have been working on preparing myself for my career for the last seven years. I spent two years involved in a leadership training/discipleship program called the Master’s Commission. After that I went to community college and earned my AA, transferred to Eastern Washington University and first earned my BA in Social Work and now most recently my master’s degree in social work. I think it is fitting to spend a year traveling and refocusing for my return and beginning of my career.
  • Finding Direction: I don’t feel like I’m running away scared from my future, but I don’t know really what the next step is for me. I think the traditional concept for after graduation is to start “real life.” I don’t like the idea of this. I feel like we should live/love the moments we are at in life. We don’t have any time other than the now. I don’t feel ready for things like getting a career job, buying a house, getting married, having a dog… etc. OK, dog thing sounds good, but I’m just not ready for the rest.
  • Letting The World Change Me: Just like in the movie the Motorcycle Diaries, I am hoping that the experience will change me and prepare me to go out and change the world.

I think that is quite a list of different hopes for my trip. If you want to see a preview of the move Motorcycle Diaries watch it from youtube below.

Both Good and Bad Can be Crazy

Posted on Friday June 19, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 Crazy Crazy

 South American Trip Confirmation South American Trip Confirmation

In my years working with at-risk youth, I’ve come to have some pretty crazy stories that I was either there for or heard about second hand. Yesterday, was no exception. What I can say is that a man with a machete attacked a teenager outside of my work yesterday. Apparently after the attack he walked calmly up to the Crisis Residential Center, and was attempting to get in. The Spokesman Review article describes the attacker as a possible mental patient.

While I wasn’t at work during this incident, It’s pretty crazy and tops any other stories I’ve head before. It has also made me think about violence that is taking part with our youth. While the attacker was 49 years old, it was still an attack on a teenager. Maybe it’s that I’ve been watching too much GangLand on the history channel (you used to be able to watch videos on, but I think that all of the violence is crazy. In thinking about violence, I think that it is about building up our communities. Although Spokane is not a huge place, it is growing. There is a gang problem, I realized that while working at Spokane Juvenile Detention. There are some pretty bad neighborhoods, check out the Crimemap. I believe it is about staying in some of these more needy neighborhoods. It’s going to be the community to help change the violence. A good book about inner city violence is Fist Stick Knife Gun by Geoffrey Canada.

The other crazy thing that is happening right now, is that I just bought tickets to go to South America. We fly into Trinidad and Tobago into Port of Spain. Me and Ami are still attempting to lock down some ideas about exactly what we will be doing, but it is now a for sure thing (tickets purchased).

Five Years Each

Posted on Saturday June 13, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 Five Years. Five Years.

Transitions and ceremony are important aspects of all of our lives. I was talking with a good friend the other day, who was telling me that she is not that interested in a wedding. To me the marriage is not about either the certificate or the ceremony. I do believe that both are important. The certificate is like a legal deceleration stating to everybody that two people are married. The ceremony is also important in that it is a public display of of what is going on in two people’s hearts and a public showing of the certificate. While the most important component of the marriage is the two people and their lives lived together, the other parts are significant.

In the western culture, we don’t truly have a ceremony to depict a young person’s transition into adulthood. Many cultures used to have different ceremonies. Last year, I was hoping to attend one of Fr. Richard Rohr’s Men’s Rites of Passage I will be participating in my own right of passage today. Graduation from college is probably the closest ceremony that we have depicting somebodies transition into adulthood.

Today, I will graduate with my master’s degree in social work. It is a pretty amazing story that while it took five years to earn my high school diploma, I will have earned my master’s degree in the same amount of time. I have had a ton of different challenges, changes, and other stuff happen over the last many years and find myself lucky to be where I’m at.

While I am still not exactly sure what I will be doing next year this time… I do have have some ideas.