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Enjoying the Journey

I have until the end of 2008 to fill up my passport! I cant argue with it's current status but I will definitely aim to get as many stamps in it as I can...

Diary Entries

Friday, 21 March 2008

Location: USA

I havent been on this site for so long I didnt even remember my log in or password. Whoops.

Haven't been anywhere outside of the country but I can update you with my recent travels. (Note: I dont count California and Nevada destinations.)

Walt Disney World (basically its own country) with Lora in early December 07. It was oodles of noodles of fun- my wife flew me over and put me up... AND... my 2-day park-hopper pass got comped! Can't go wrong with that!

Arizona: Grand Canyon, Sedona, Scottsdale, Phoenix and some other place that started with a P. Went with the fam and the Venturinas in late December 07. Would have been more enjoyable if I didnt get sick. But that place is just way toooooo dry for me.

Washington, DC with the fam, beans, and Lesley for Martin Luther King weekend 08. This was more fun than I thought because we hung out at the Smithsonians and other museum type places that I already forgot the names of. It was fun though. Freezing! Potbelly deli was yum as my appreciation for Yelp began to blossom.

Oahu, Hawaii with beans end of Feb/early March. It would have been more fun if I didnt get sick on my way back, eventually infecting my birthday. It's ok though, our last minute flight was $180 each and our oceanfront hotel was $70/night. Can't beat that or our kayak trip to sunken island off the windward side. Didnt expect to see Chinaman's hat on that expedition. Funny thing is, I've been to this island a billion times and I hadn't visited Hanauma Bay or Diamond Head until this trip. Truly amazing. And I got to swim with a sea turtle.

Trips in the making-
Dominican Republic with my wifey.
India with Dionne and Lena, and a side trip to the Great Wall of China during the July holiday shutdown.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Location: Thousand Oaks, USA

Wow I just logged on to this site and was saddened when I realized that I only wrote entry during European vacation 2007. Sorry team. I went to London, Italy (Ancona, Trieste, Venice), Greece (Mykonos, Santorini, Athens and Corfu), and Dubrovnik, Croatia. I did write on a post card in every city (which was every day) so this horrible memory doesnt forget the great things we saw and did at each place. Maybe one day I can tell you about it... But my passport has a stamp on every page now! That means it is nearly full!

This has been the longest I've gone without a vacation... but I have to say that I have still been very busy- the last time I can recall waking up in Agoura Hills on a Sunday morning was back in March. What the heck have I been up to? Does visiting San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Bakersfield count as travelling?

Oh and here are some pics from the Euro Trip:
http://picasaweb.google.com/joanne.francisco/Eu...

Monday, 02 July 2007

Location: Ancona, Italy

Cant write much cause the boat is about to leave soon. Internet and phone access has been very minimal. There is internet on our ship but it is one euro per minute. We are having oodles of fun but Dionne is sick right now. I hope I dont get sick. Tomorrow we will be at sea all day then will be in Greece on Wednesday. So far we have been to London, Venice, Trieste and now Ancona. Ancona is all right compared to the other cities that were so beautiful. Take care.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Location: Kings River, USA

Camping was fun! My first camping experience was definitely a success... The camping adventure started as we ate KFC fried chicken and rice in the back of Kristina's car. Yum! Our first camp site was definitely rougher than the second- I'm referring to townhouse motel in sanger. But if Dionne can brave it, I can too. (Now I have to take her to the philippines.)
The whitewater experience was fun. It wasnt as scary as my other rafting experiences (especially since helmets werent required at this one) but it was definitely a favorite cause the water was breathtaking. The first rapid I almost fell out! And a couple of rapids later we doubled up our raft's occupancy by saving a few drifters. Maybe next time we can save money by stuffing all 12 of us in 1 raft! I will never forget the toilet bowl- vince's kawawa face, kristina's petrified look, and hitting that rock as dionne and i say bye to anne. It was fun.
When we got back it was my first real night in a tent. It was awesome! Did you know you could zip 2 sleeping bags together? Oh and kristina and ben didnt even make it to smores. That was yum but very sticky!... But I made it, aren't you proud of me?

Here are some pics: http://picasaweb.google.com/joanne.francisco/Ki...

Friday, 15 June 2007

Yay, I bought a sleeping bag! That means I am totally ready for camping... Hehehe...

And dionne and I are ready for our trip. We found some good deals on flights between London and Venice on British Airways and have formalized our itinerary:
Arrive in London at 830AM on 6/29.
Take open top bus tour throughout london: www.theoriginaltour.com
Fly out to Venice at 630PM on the same day!
Take train from Venice to Trieste on 7/1 where we hop on the crusie til 7/8 on the Costa Marina: http://www.costacruise.com/B2C/USA/Shopping/Mon...
Take train back to Venice on 7/8. I will fly back to London and Dionne will fly to Paris to meet friends.
Fly back to LAX on 7/9.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Oooops, I forgot about you, travel journal. Our trip to Hawaii (Maui and Kauai) came and went. It was equal (if not more) to the fun that I had expected... Some highlights include the Sin wedding at the Hyatt, kayaking the Wailua river in Kauai, taking a swim at Queen's bath and spamsilog breakfasts at McDonalds. Yum =)

Now its time to focus our efforts on the European trip 2007... but before we get there I am really excited about rafting the Kern River and my first experience camping! What!?! Me camping? Well, believe it. Then again, I still have some time to back out.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

YAY, Dionne and I just booked our flight to Europe! Well, to London at least. We have yet to book our travel arrangements to Trieste, Italy. But atleast we are one step closer! And she got a real deal on her flight. I couldnt cause I cant stay as long. BooHoo.
AND, I am getting really excited for Hawaii! We're going to go kayaking! That means vince will have to kayak when I get tired. I'm already tired!

Wednesday, 02 May 2007

Location: Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

I booked my flight to Maui and Kauai! Dont follow in my lead. Make sure you buy your tickets waaaaaaaay in advance or else you will end up paying an arm and a leg. We still havent bought our tickets to Europe! We need to get a move on...

Friday, 27 April 2007

Location: Lima, Peru

Well we are back in Lima. And I have to eat my words about this city because it is a lot more historic and beautiful than I thought. We went to a couple of churches and historic places. One church has the skulls of St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin of Porras for viewing! It is scary! We also went to these catcombs. The bones were separated by parts of the body like femurs and skulls and stuff. Major scary.
Ria is leaving tonight. The rest of the family is leaving tomorrow at 9am. My flight isnt until midnight tomorrow so I get to roam around the city by my lonesome. I tried to change the flight but it was full. I do like Lima but I would have preferred to roam around Salvador. I feel like we didnt get to do everything in Brazil like I wanted.
Ok see you all soon!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Location: Machu Picchu, Peru

HOLA!
Sorry its been so long since I have written! Aside from being extremely busy, I have not had many internet opportunities. Right now I am using dial-up! Can you believe it? Anyways, I will try to catch you up on some of the highlights.
So, after Lima we flew to Cusco, 12000 ft above sea level (Lake tahoe is only at about 7000 ft-i am guessing, check wikipedia). So, I quickly got altitude sickness which sucked. Right when we got to the hotel I had some coca candies, coca tea and chewed on some coca leaves. Didnt help me much though. I was down and out most of the first day. Which sucked because Cusco is soooooo breathtaking!
From there we saw many many beautiful inkan ruins with our spectacular guide, Melbin. She is the best because she knows everything so we dont have to read up on anything. We climbed up 300+ steps to the ruins of ollyantambo. Dude that is so hard because of the high elevation and my athsma, but I made it! We stayed at this beautiful resort style hotel except there was only 1 tv at the whole place! We played cards and jenga to fill our time.
This morning we took the train to agua calientes, the stop for Machu Picchu. Then we had to take this 30 min bus ride up this scary windy hill to finally see the ruins. I think jappy called the site magestic. There are no words for me to describe this sight. I wish all of you will have the opportunity to check it out.
I have been eating waaaaaaay too much food as Jappy even said I was gaining some weight. Oh well, the food is hella good. Everyone has gotten either diarrhea, a fever or altitude sickness. Please pray for our health and safe journey home. Ria is trying to convince me to stay an extra couple of days to go with her to Buenos Aires. Who wants to hook me up with some vacation time so I can go?

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Location: lima, Peru

Ok so RIa and I are waiting for our families here at the hotel. We are HUNGRY. We could eat without them but that wouldnt be fun. We never made it to the inquisition museum. It turned out to be a lot farther than we thought. Oh well. We ended up at this astronomy fair thingy. It was alright. Lima is alright. I am really looking forward to going to Cusco. We will be flying out tomorrow morning. It is supposed to be awesome.
Anyways, I never got to recap the last couple nights of our volunteer program. We made it to the churascaria. We took the bus and it only cost $1 for a 30 min ride. The food was hella good! I took pictures and video of the `salad bar.` Afterwards we finally made it to OBA, this bar that has its own set of hours. We enjoyed the awesome view a little too much because we missed our 12am curfew. Luckily the security guard was nice enough to let us in.
The next day was our last day at Frutos de Maes. Boy was it a hard one. We finished the mural under the beating hot sun. I hung out with the kids. One of them had a watch battery in his mouth and I had the hardest time getting him to spit it out. I will miss them very much. They will always have a big place in my heart. It was very hard to leave.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Location: Lima, Peru

Hola! Now Ria and I are in Lima... about to go to the Inquisition museum. Our families will be in this evening so we are tooling around til they get here. It is hard to make the transition to spanish after all that portuguese! Now I am all confused. Kinda sleepy and just had a big explosion (if you know what I mean) so I will keep this short. Hasta Luego.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Location: salvador, Brazil

My belly is getting FAT! For some reason my appetite is so much bigger here and all I do is eat and eat and eat. The only thing that stops me is knowing how fast my metabolism is. But tonight we are skipping the home cooked meals at the home base and are eating at a churrascaria! YUM!
I cant believe that we are leaving tomorrow already! This week has gone by fast. Today is the day of the indigenous indians. To celebrate, we dressed up our 3-year olds with indian hair-dresses and skirts. Cant believe I helped make them! Those kids are so tiring. Anyways, we painted our faces and took lots of pictures!
I will do my normal uploading when I get back.
Today we had a samba class and portuguese class. I think I did pretty well with the samba. But some of the hip shaking was kind of hard. Dont worry, I have that on video too. Ok I am going to run! I have been writing in this way more than expected! Flying to Peru tomorrow night to meet the family! YAY!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Location: salvador, Brazil

Ria and I just got cussed out by our taxi driver. Dont know what he said though. Dont worry, he didnt yell at us. They totally try to rip you off when you go to the main tourist spot. They charge you R$20 when it only normally costs R$8. No worries.
Today we made signifigant progress on the mural. I really suck at painting so I snuck away to play with the kids. And they jumped on me! I really love them. It is so easy to get attached. They are tooooo cute and innocent! I finally brought my camera today but they get really weird around it so I only took a few shots. We´ll try again tomorrow. Cant believe the program is already half over for us!
I havent spoke to you about the food. It is so delish! Today for lunch we had yummy-licious pork (but some say brisket) and some hella good-ass sausages. There is always some sort of rice with our meals so you know I have been chowing down. The accommodations arent the greatest but what can you expect. So my high metabolism isnt the greatest thing to have here. Dont worry, I´m ok though. (Too much info, I know...)

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Location: salvador, Brazil

Ria is here! No need to worry.
Spent the morning painting the playground at frutos de maes. I quickly was reminded why I dont perform activities like that anymore, paint got into my eye and almost ruined my contacts!! Of course that is to be expected. Dont worry, I´m ok. I switched to what I am good at and watched while telling people "you´re doing a good job." You know me... Dont worry I will be painting again tomorrow... And the kids remembered us from yesterday and it is easy to get attached to them.
Afterwards we took a tour of the old city. It is really nice. They have 365 churches in salvador, one for each day ]of the year!
Tonight we will be going into the old city again to do some samba dancing! They have live music at 7pm. Gotta run!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Location: Salvador, Brazil

Bom dia!
No Ria yet. She is supposed to be here tonight so I pray she will make it safely.
Believe it or not, the 6 lessons I completed with Pimsleur audio really did help a lot! Last night I had a second dinner with some of the other volunteers and I was the only one that new a lick of portuguese! That doesnt say a lot for them... but I had THE BEST ceviche. Fresh fish AND no shrimp but it was delish.
My fellow volunteers are so awesome. They range in age from 17 to 87! The 87 year old is a WW2 veteran and is recognized by the UN as some sort of famous international volunteer! Crazy huh. People are staying here from 1 week to 12 weeks! They are doing things like helping out at the HIV clinic, womens shelters, teaching english, etc. I really wish I had enough time to be here for atleast 1 month but I am surely trying to make the most out of it!
I really wish you were all here experiencing this with me. I could have never expected my feelings to be how they were when we got to Fruto de Maes (fruits of moms?). RIght when we got there a lil toddler boy ran up to me and asked me to carry him. Of course I did but it didnt happen to anyone else. I stayed in a classroom of 4 year olds, helping them draw, play and eat. It is actually hard with the language barrier. Hopefully my class will help for tomorrow. Along with hanging with the kids, we will be painting a mural for their playground. Yeah me, painting. I know it sounds funny but hopefully good things will come out because I will be painting with all my heart.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Location: Salvador, Brazil

I think this was my longest travel time EVER. I flew from LAX to Lima (8.5 hrs), Lima to Sao Paolo (>5 hrs), and Sao Paolo to Salvador (>2hrs). But I made it, sneezing the whole freaking way.

I wonder where Ria is though. I hope she is ok. She called me at the gate at Lima, right before I was about to board. Turned out she got stuck there because she went through customs to re-check her baggage through to brazil. BUT, if you are going to brazil from Peru you need a yellow fever vaccination certificate. ]And she doesnt have one. I hope she is ok and that I see her soon.

The house is cool. The internet cafe is down the street from the house. I havent ventured too much cause I dont want to go by myself. The fellow volunteers are just getting back from the beach and the futbol game. So far they have been really cool and I have been classified as an OLD ONE even though I dont look like it.

Gonna run back and make the most out of my trip. Check back in to see if I made any entries. I am trying not to, though, cause I want to stay away from computers and cell phones. We´ll see how I do. Please pray that Ria is ok and that I see her soon.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Yay, we got our visas for our trip to Brazil! Kudos to Ria for dropping it off and picking it up at the embassy... With my purple padlock and mosquito repellant, we are one step closer to our journey.

And, Dionne and I made it our goal to book our European trip before I leave for Brazil! We really want to hit Italy, Greece (her choice), and Croatia (my choice)! Yaaaaaay!

I wish I had started one of these before but I guess blogging wasnt as in back when I started on these travel journeys... But you can check out the wifey trip to Australia on www.planetranger.com/lorajo


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Recent Messages

From Lora
Ciao i miei amici! Speranza che state avendo divertimento in Europa!

Be safe out there.

Love,
Lora
Response: Huh? Ok thanks.
From Vince
How was the London tour? Did you guys do the whole ticker-tape "Bon Voyage" boat launch? Can't wait to see pics..or you...or pics of you.
Response: Ticker-tape?
From Dionne
London seems to be much cheaper than Trieste. I think we should fly there then hop on a flight. I am going to stay until the 12th and meet up with BK in Paris. Are you down?? I know you don't like Paris that much
Response: Ok london! But i definitely pass on Paris.
From JP
I think you should just stay. you'll make up hours in no time.
Response: i wish it were that easy but believe it or not, i am getting homesick!
From Dionne
Hey do you want to go fly into London. It may be cheaper + we can meet up with BK
Response: IF you can find a great deal, then why not! but London isnt all that though...
From goofy...
hi mupps...Love reading all your blogs..i'm really happy that you're enjoying every moment..can't wait to see you and hear all about your trip..=)
Response: Yay, thanks! I hope all is well with you toooooooooo...
From JP
Hey, how you doing. Hows Peru so far. Hope your still having fun.
Response: Why wouldnt I be having fun JP?
From lora
oh man....if YOUR stomach is giving you problems down there, I can only imagine what would have happened to MINE! Hope you are having oodles....
Response: Hey wifey... As I was taking a break at machu picchu today my family noticed that I was sitting next to this foreign girl who looked exactly like you! I found a wifey in Peru, are you jealous?
From Vince
Can't wait until the Peru portion of this Journal...Brasil sounds awesome. LOL @ "ass sausages".
Response: Hey dont you guys know how I talk? Be niiiiice I am in a foreign country...
From andria (aka south am
are you excited?? i´m having a great time with you and i´m thankful that you invited me...thanks for writing in the journal there´s no way i'll remember all of this...where are you pictures?
Response: you are one funny girl. you know where my pictures are... and they are all of you!
From john (again)
to comment on your april 18 log:
you had ass sausages??? maybe i shouldn't be drinking while reading this...elaborate.
other than that, glad to hear your enjoying yourself!
Response: oh man you know me and my writing skills.
From john
DON'T DRINK THE AGUA!!! unless you want to...
From santino
AND THEN?

Fruto de Maes...it could be Fruits of Moms. or more simply...boobs.

Can't wait to see your photo-skills in action.
Response: OOOh some of my pictures are good... Some I just give up because it is so hard to take out your camera here. I dont want to risk it getting taken.
From Burrito
High metabolism = fizzy francisco. Glad to know you are having a great time over there. Eat some yummy food for me.
Response: You totally know about fizzy francisco! I have been eating oodles of yummy food. Every meal comes with rice so I cant go wrong!
From annette
when will your program end? i wish everything were documented so when u go here we can watch it. everyone's so proud of you. role model for me. want to do the same but i'd have to have enough savings. is it a super good feeling? are you excited to see your family so they can join you in your experience? :)
Response: it is a super good feeling. I am only doing this for one week then meeting the family in Peru. The other volunteers are here for a max of 12 weeks. Wish I could do that but for sure that would be hard. You can do whatever you put your mind to ok.
From Lora
Wish I was there too! Sounds like you are having a great experience....cant wait to see pictures! You make a wifey proud.
Response: YOU make a wifey proud!
From JP
Hey Jo I'm glad to your having a great experiance. Maybe some day I'll give a shot.
Response: I totally think you can do it John.
From daddynmommy
Muffs: We are glad that you are having a cool experience. Ria got stranded for a day in Lima but she is on her way. You be careful and make the most out of this wonderful experience. We both love you
and miss you and will see you in Lima on Saturday. Take care. love and kisses daddynmommy
Response: Thanks for calling me a hippy and taking care of my flight! See you soon...
From Vince
God bless Pimsleur. Sounds like a ton of life-altering fun. Hope you are playing as hard as you are working! Hi 5!
Response: High 5s are all for you! Thanks!
From annette
sounds like fun. you're doing a really good job. proud of you. remember be safe at all times.
miss you.
Response: miss you tooooo!
From dionne
Hey how's it going? I just booked the cruise. It was $60 more expensive than we thought. The cheaper ones sold out already. The total including taxes was $1204.08. I hope that's ok. Now we just have to look for flights. P.S. BK is going to Europe too. Let me know what you think. The conformation # is 4199235
Response: Yay!
From ..goofy..
Miss you already goofy...have fun and be safe...
Response: muito obrigada
From rix
i love it... take as many pics as you can k...
Response: I cant take as many pictures as | would like! They advise against bringing it around cause it might get stolen.. I will try though cause you know how I am paparazzi status...
From jappy
see ya in lima!
Response: Yay, bro! I already know all the lima hot-spots. Are you back from P.I. yet?
From Ate Boots
Yay coosin, you made it! I'm sure Ria will arrive soon, she hit a minor travel snafu but should otherwise be fine. And about your longest travel time ever?! Please. It's just a minor detail of your soon to be exciting and unforgetful experience in Brazil. May you both have a great time and, most importantly, be safe.
At your soonest opportunity, enjoy the beaches and don't forget about "the" Brazil concoction, guaranteed to give you the sun-kissed tan of the natives.
Response: We´ll see how much of a beach tan i will get.. For sure I will get some sun painting but I might have some ugly tan lines!