Why hello everyone! As the title may hint, I am a bit excited – maybe even a little bit too excited – for the journey that lies ahead. I am also elated that you are taking an active interest in my adventure. It’s sure to be wild, and I plan to keep you thoroughly entertained until I reach the USA. A few disclaimers:

Photo/video uploads may be difficult on the road, considering how troublesome these simple tasks are in Buenos Aires and that Argentina is likely to be one of the more developed countries I will be visiting.

I cannot guarantee, nor even guess, the frequency with which I will be writing on this blog. All I can promise is that I when I do write, it will be with such earth shattering force that Shakespeare’s Hamlet will look like Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.

I cannot promise that my commentary will always be the most P.C. (“politically correct” for all those with abbreviation difficulties), but I can promise that it will always with the best intention.

Individual emails will be dealt with on a first come, first serve basis – with my family being the highest priority. My email is h.william.lee@gmail.com. Anyone who reads this should feel free to contact me whenever they want, even if they have nothing of particular interest to say.

There is the off-chance that I stumble in to some heavenly paradise on my trip and decide to never come back. If this happens, don’t take it personally, just see it as stronger impetus for taking a vacation.

Now for the good stuff:

The past few weeks have been spent preparing for my trip. This means, amongst a variety of different tasks, dealing with the Argentine Health Care system. It’s about as entertaining as it sounds. One thing is that these hospitals are pretty beat up. The first thought that comes to mind is the home of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except there is more blood on the walls. Plus, whenever you as the patient are required to bring a syringe for the necessary injection, it may be time to change things up. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to send some of those US Health Care dollars to Argentina, they may be in greater need for some infrastructure remodeling than we are. The larger issue, which has been a recurring theme in my time here, is that the system happens to be a little slow. Not slow like the proverbial tortoise from The Tortoise and the Hare fable we were all told as kids (especially because in this case there is no moral to the story), I’m talking glacial ice burg slow. Imagine that the Hare has three legs instead of four and you’re on my level. You wait in two different lines just to find out where you have to go. Actually visiting the doctor is nearly a fourteen step procedure. First, you must travel his wing, where someone gives you a ticket for an appointment. With that ticket, you go and wait in line for the cashier. After paying for the now scheduled appointment, you return to the doctor and receive a prescription for the necessary injection (in this case, Yellow Fever or Typhoid). What next? You guessed it: You head back to the cashier, where you pay for this newly issued prescription – I refer to it as the “golden ticket“. Four hours and three visits later, you finally get what you wanted in the first place, immunization, swearing to yourself that you will never waste that amount of time performing any task for the rest of your life. If you are trying to teach someone the virtue of patience, send them to Argentina. They will either learn their lesson or go insane during the process.

I don’t think my summary does it justice completely. The Argentine Health Care system is something that you have to see and experience to understand what I am talking about. I doubt many people will have the opportunity, so consider yourself fortunate. With my immune system pumped full of every vaccine known to man (malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, Hepatitis A) like a baseball player on steroids, I am ready to take on South and Central America’s worst. In the massive amount of rain forrest that covers this continent, it’s the mosquitos that are the most dangerous. Sure, I am a little intimated by a jaguar and maybe the occasional crocodile. But with these animals and other predators you at least benefit by knowing your death would be relatively swift and what is causing your demise. There are diseases, on the other hand, that aren’t as nice. Read this if you want to brush up on your knowledge of Yellow Fever, pay attention to the “Signs and Symptoms of Yellow Fever Section” for the good part. There is even stuff out there that people have never seen before, things that haven’t been discovered by man, things for which there are no cure. The threats are real and I am trying to avoid them at all costs.

Buenos Aires has been great. I learned a new language. I saw some new stuff. I met some new people. I got hit by a car. All in all, a very positive experience. I have no complaints. Although I enjoy my time here, I am also looking forward to what lies ahead. What lies ahead is, well, a very long trip back to the USA. Any map will show that Argentina and California aren’t so close to one another. In fact, they are extremely far apart – it is approximately 6096 miles from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. My plan, as it stands now, is to cover this terrain in around 4 months. Through many different lands, on many different roadways, and the many different cultures in between, I will emerge by this trip’s end as an individual that trekked over mountains and through valleys, visiting a total of 11 countries along the way (It would be 12, but Mexico was left off the list upon many family member’s sincere requests and a serious warning from the US Dept. of State). I will venture into the wild and explore places that tickle the imagination, seeing some of the most beautiful sights the world has to offer and the kinds of places you dream about as a kid. Ruins, pyramids, volcanoes, birds of paradise, the list goes on. Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala will hopefully give me everything they’ve got. I just hope I am capable of handling it.

My IPod is full of new music, my bag is almost packed, the wind is at my back and the sun is on my face. I am ready to go. Date of departure April 11th, 2010.

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