Friday, May 13, 2011

Charlotte Jewelers win the ring & the wedding; Help my friend win her wedding!!

I am interrupting my travel blog to gather help for something that is currently happening and very important. Now don’t think I am getting all mushy and sentimental on you because I am about to talk about weddings. An institution that I am not too fond of but popular opinion is against me as well as the majority of the people living in the quiet white picket fence, two kids and a dog type of town I am from. However I’d like to say I am a pretty frigin good friend. No matter how long you have known me I will have your back and do anything for you.

That said one if my very good friends from high school who I recently reconnected with last year has entered a contest to win a wedding. Big deal right?! Everyone gets married and well wouldn’t we all love our wedding paid for with a fancy ring? Well this isn’t just any ordinary girl; it also isn’t just an ordinary story. My friend Athanee is a wonderful girl with a big heart. She is an elementary school teacher and loves to travel. She has an amazing sense of humour, loves to have fun and also would do anything for a friend. I became good friends with her in high school but she also had a different life living in another town but traveling into the city to attend the French program at our school. Jon was a part of that other life. Below is the story Athanee submitted for the contest. Take a read and do me and my friend a huge favour, go onto facebook by following this link and vote for Athanee and Jon.

Click here to vote for Jon and Athanee

Not only am I a good friend I am also very competitive so I am determined that she wins!

The Heart Will Go On...and on. By Athanee Wrightly

This love story begins with two kids, age 14, hanging out with friends on long summer days in the small town of Havelock, ON. She has lived here her whole life, surrounded by a large extended family (think Kennedys, only with less money and fewer assassinations). He has recently moved to town with his single mom. She is really glad to see a new face in town that isn't another one of her cousins. She spends her days delivering big city newspapers in the form of the Peterborough Examiner and running a children's summer camp. He works part time in the local doughnut shop / café. They follow each other around like a couple of lost puppies, or so it has been told. They spend almost every day together. But, of course, they are not “dating”. They do everything together, such as swimming, biking, playing hockey, going to dirt bike races watching movies, going to high school dances (He still remembers what she wore to their first dance!). But, they are still not dating. They exchange grade 8 graduation pictures (which, by the way, they each still have tucked safely away). But they are still not dating. They are much too young and carefree for that. That's not to say they don’t both have secret feelings for each other, even back then. As the first few years of their friendship go by, they become closer and closer. Then, he suddenly has to move away to get out of a violent home situation. You might think this would be the end of a simple “puppy-love” relationship...but it is only the beginning. He leaves town without telling her. Years later he admits that it was because it was too painful to say goodbye. After finding out where he has disappeared to, she calls him. He invites her for a friendly visit to his new apartment in Burlington, where he is living with his older brother. Turns out, it is only after he moves 3 hours away that the now 16 year olds finally start admitting (to others and to themselves) that they are an item, long distance as it may be. They both finish high school, and decide to go their separate ways. She heads off to university in North Bay. He moves again, further south this time to Listowel. They each want the other to be happy and free to experience the world. And they do, each in their own way. She works on her teaching degree and travels the world. He works and continues to expand his knowledge of various trades. They remain friends and continue to support each other through difficult times in their lives, even if it is just by phone. After about a year apart, they both end up back where they started, springtime in their small town. He begins helping her parents build their unique, off the grid, dome house. He winds up staying over in a tent more often than he goes home. They spend a lot of time together, as “just friends”. But, all of the old feelings between them soon start to come back, only this time in a more mature, grown up way. Before you know it, they are back together. In the fall, she has to return to school. He stays and lives with her family. Her parents, her brother, her grandparents, and all of her extended family think of him as their own. He just fits in so well. They say they won't give him up for anything, no matter what. Over the next few years, the two visit each other as much as they can. But, he respects and nurtures her freedom to learn and to travel (she calls him once from the top of Mount Cameroon in Africa). They trust each other completely. They continue to be there for one another through the ups and downs of life. They go through car accidents, job loss, depression, and her mother being diagnosed with cancer. When her grandfather passes, they both suffer the loss, as he has quickly made his way up the favourite grandchild list. Although these events can be trying on a relationship, it all brings them closer and makes their love even stronger. They have seen most of their friends get married. Many have even started having children. They have unfortunately seen some of these marriages fall apart. But, they learn from all those around them, good and bad, and stay strong. Everywhere they go, they hear “When are you two going to get married?” and “Why haven't you done it yet?” They have endured this constant questioning for years. It has now been 15 years since they first met, 13 years since they first got together. They have accomplished many individual and common goals, and have overcome many obstacles. They own a home together, have careers and have started their getting a dog who they love like a child. They know, from experience, that love can sometimes be hard, but they are committed to living happily ever after. It seems that after all these years, this story about two best friends is missing just one teensy, tiny, little, thing...A RING!

Now that you know the story give this girl with a goddess inspired name the wedding myths are made of, go onto facebook and vote! Thank you!

Click here to vote for Jon and Athanee

Aw... embarassing high school photo

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bohemian Ideals; Artesanias of Argentina

Traveling through Central and South America I always came across and was drawn to the hippy artesian types. They travel in packs and can usually be found on beaches selling their macramé jewellery. They stay a while until they have made enough to move on. Most I find are Argentineans; I have come across a few Colombians, some Spaniards and the odd Frenchies. Some try to sell other items than the ever popular macramé backpacker collectables. Some are found roaming the strangest places I even found one in the Northern town of Matagalpa Nicaragua selling paper flowers to fund his journeys. Some may say that they aren’t really artisans and they are just homeless wanderers with dreads and baggy pants but being the nomadic gypsy type myself I have always been intrigued by them. Plus they always seem to know where the cheapest hostel is and the best beaches. It’s an interesting way of life and a sub culture in the backpacking scene. I myself have been tempted to ditch the gringo scene and join the next Argie group to make money by reading tarot on the beaches and writing about the lives of Argentinean Artisanias.

For this reason I was excited to go to Argentina the origin of these bohemian travelers but to my surprise it seemed that these cool traveling Argentineans had all left Argentina. That was until I got to know my friend Max’s girlfriend Paula. I discovered a large majority of Argentineans are in the arts and very talented. I guess like me they come back and camouflage themselves amongst the crowd before heading off on adventures again. I got introduced to Paula’s friends who were painters, pottery makers, jewellery designers, tango dancers and musicians. They are all similar to my Tucuman friend who is passionate about his music and dedicated to preserving the Bohemian ideals. This may sound like a cheesy line from Moulin Rouge but Wikipedia describes the Bohemian as;

“...the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through free love, frugality, and/or voluntary poverty.”

Society frowns upon people who have a hunger for the unknown and wish to lead an unconventional life. Is society just envious of people able to free themselves of the burdens of a stable life where one’s money goes towards paying the bills, ensuring dinners in restaurants, money to go out on the weekend and the same home to sleep in every night. While people are working the hours away earning money to keep them in an endless cycle are they really going after their passion and seeing the world around them.

I have met amazing people through my travels that I admire for going after their dreams of seeing that there is more to the world by having less and changing lives along the way, people who passionately live freely through their art.

I enjoyed Buenos Aires so much more once I discovered it through different eyes. Paula took me to Plaza Francia on a Saturday to see the Artisan market. I also checked out San Telmo on a Sunday which is a massive open air market of artisans, antiques, souvenirs, musicians and dancers that spans to Parque Lezama on the way to La Boca. I was in awe and in my element. I could have stayed for days browsing the unique finds.

After New Years while I was waiting for my next Brazilian visa appointment, I got the opportunity to do what I had dreamed of since hanging out with the Argentineans in Nicaragua. I was off to the coast to join an artesania feria. The location...I had no idea, a slight language barrier.

“Truth, Beauty, freedom and love.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Everything you need to know about getting a Brazilian Visa (Mostly from Argentina)

Australians, Canadians and Americans and all need a Brazilian tourist visa to enter Brazil. It is complicated and a pain in the arse for a backpacker to do from their home country for many reasons. However you can get a Brazilian visa from other Latin American countries. If you are entering from Argentina there are two options; the first option which I went through is thoroughly detailed below for you which is going through the consulate in Buenos Aires. The second option is if you are entering through Iguazu falls. I met many people who did this route and it worked out fine I didn’t want to chance it myself but I found the info on the lonely planet website so it is all here for you.

If you are entering through another country then you need to check with the Brazilian consulate there but it should be just as easy. I have heard people acquiring one in Panama with no problem. If you are flying directly to Brazil then you will need to go through the process in your own country.

OPTION # 1 Consulate in Buenos Aires

I got mine done in Buenos Aires and this is the website you need to go to

on there click on where it says vistos/visas in the left hand column then scroll down and click on tourist visa. Then it will say you need to make an appointment so click on the icon to bring up the calendar to make your appointment. when you pick the day and time you want make sure a number comes up and keep that number you have to have it when you go for your appointment.
Once you have made the appointment on the same page you will see this info at the bottom:



To apply for the visa, it is necessary to make an appointment calling to the following telephone number: (5411) 4515-6525 (from Monday to Friday, from 09am to 2pm and from 3pm to 5pm). - They don't want you to call so don't bother just make the appointment online

Documents required in order to apply for a tourist visa in the General Consulate of Brazil in Buenos Aires:

VISA APPICATION FORM - on the site this is a link for the form just fill it out and send it off then print it off to bring

PASSPORT, valid for six months at least


A ROUNDTRIP TICKET TO BRAZIL - Not really necessary they didn't ask if I had a flight out but I bought a flight just in case but they didn't ask to see the info. You can show up with a bus reservation and show them they accept reservations

PROOF OF HOTEL RESERVATION - again they didn't ask me but they may

A BANK STATEMENT identifying the account holder (CHECKING AND/OR SAVINGS ACCOUNT) - CURRENT and PREVIOUS MONTH, as well as the presentation of CREDIT CARDS and a printed copy of them. You may also have to present a WORK PROOF (employment contract or letter from employer) and EARNING STATEMENT (PAY CHECK);

  • They didn't ask for this one either but I just print off my internet banking statement and photo copied by visa card

If STUDENT, original and copy of STUDENT CARD;

Payment of a PROCESSING FEE. Click on "Tabela de Emolumentos" ( to check updated prices.
You pay for it after your appointment they will give you a piece of paper with the cost. As a Canadian I paid 273 pesos (around $70). You take the paper and go to Itau around the corner to pay, you keep the reciept and give it in when you collect your passport

Visa for minors under 18 years old: Please contact the Consulate at the following e-mail:

Please note that the requirements above are not all-inclusive. The Consulate may request additional information and/or documentation deemed necessary.

For additional information please send an e-mail to:

It depends on how busy the office is how long it will take my friend went the end of Dec and it took 3 days I went Jan 06 and they told me to return the next day and it would be ready. In Buenos Aires I haven't heard it taking any longer than 3 days.

Directions to the consulate in Buenos Aires;
Carlos Pellegrini 1363
5th Floor

Take the Subte to Plaza General San Martin you will be on Santa Fe walk west until you get to Carlos Pellegrini then turn right walk until you get to 1363 its not too far.

OPTION # 2 Puerto Iguazu – This is copied from the Lonely Planet from another traveller’s experience

“If you are already in South America (Argentina) and have the option of getting your visa at Puerto Iguazu INSTEAD of Buenos Aires DO IT... it is a one day turn around and you get to see the most amazing waterfalls in the process!
Fill out the visa application form online and drop it off at the consulate with one passport photo between the hours of 8-11 am, it is two blocks away from the bus station on Cordoba on the right hand side, so my suggestion is to take a bus which arrives in Iguazu early (mine left BA at 1 arrived at 7am) so you can drop your paper work off and head to the falls straight away.. You only really need one day to see the falls, and one night accommodation, so you can pick up your visa the following day at 11 am. The cost was 588 Argentine pesos, (140us$ depends on your nationality) which you pay when you drop it off. The visa I was issued is valid for 90 days at a time for ten years, it was virtually hassle free, I did not have to show any sort of return flight information, or bank information only the online form!”

Good luck and enjoy Brazil it’s amazing!!!! Vale la pena!

My Brazilian Visa Troubles

I left Canada without getting a Brazilian visa for many reason. For one it seemed very complicated and I was sure there was an easier way. I didn’t plan this trip what so ever so I had no time to get one and I thought there was a chance I was going to be called back to Canada for my dream job traveling the world and getting paid. Also you need to show a ticket leaving from Brazil and I haven’t bought a roundtrip ticket in years that requires commitment which I don’t have. I ended up in Argentina before going to Brazil and knew you could arrange a visa through the consulate. I did what any person would do, I marched down to the consulate with my passport and photos to have them process my visa.

Not a chance Argentina likes to be a bit more advanced and westernized than the rest of Latin America which means red tape. I had to make an appointment and fill out a form online. My appointment was for Dec 29th but I wasn’t given a confirmation number, this is actually a key thing to have, if you don’t get a confirmation number than you don’t have an appointment.

I took off traveling Argentina before my appointment and returned to have my Australian friend tell me she made an appointment for the same day at the same time. This couldn’t be possible you can’t have two people at the same time. I discovered I didn’t even have an appointment and my Australian twin had stolen my time slot. I was screwed.

I made a second appointment which was in a week. I had all my information filled and I even bought a ticket out of Brazil and made hostels reservations the whole thing was legit as opposed to the last time when I had fake bookings because I didn’t want to commit to a departure date out of Brazil or any plans for that matter. My third time to the consulate, my third time marching across the big Avenida 9 de Julio, perhaps three’s a charm.

Things were going good when they were happy with all my information and said I could pick it up the next day. Instead the next day I get an urgent e-mail message from the consulate and they needed my presence immediately. What had I done?!

On my fourth trip to the consulate they told me they cannot proceed further with my visa because apparently I was going to work in Brazil illegally. Who had they spoken to?! I’ve never worked illegally anywhere.....never mind!!

After much fighting with them I discovered they saw that I worked on a cruise ship in Canada and since there are a lot of cruise ships in Brazil that I was going there to work on one( I worked on a small river boat for old people there is a huge difference! ).They couldn’t fathom that I could just travel for 3 months without working. I had already been traveling for 2 months and I had worked on a boat therefore I had money saved. They were nuts! Lots of people travel for months or even years without working, they travel on their savings.

At this point I was livid and my dreams of traveling Brazil were going down the drain. I was feeling a bit sickly and I don’t usually like to pull this card but I was frustrated, angry, my nose was running, I looked like hell and I just wanted to get the hell out of Argentina so the waterworks came. I tried to hold them back but a few little tears ran down my cheek.

They then told me to come back in two hours and it will be done. My fifth time to the consulate I had my passport in hand with my Brazilian stamp. Do da looo mother f-ers!!

To avoid all the annoyance I went through check out my next blog posting where I give detailed information about how to get a Brazilian Visa in Argentina.

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