LONG WAY TO PATAGONIA...Battling Homeland Security with a necrotic leg

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December 12th 2013
Published: December 12th 2013
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Sydney...Tokyo...Los Angeles...Lima...Buenos Aires... left 3 days before Denise...arrived a few hours before...nearly wheel chaired...detained & locked up...fraternised with celebrities...hospitalised...what an adventure!

Then to drive down the Andes in a 4WD...just the two of us...playing Blues and Rock & Roll...that's epic.


We were invited to join an Aussie and his Argentinian partner to stay with her family in B.A. then have them show us around Argentina.

Planned to drive down the Andes together...plans dashed by an accident in B.A...ended up we drove down the Andes alone...no Spanish...in & out of Argentina and Chile...lucky I had my maps and my itinerary planned in Oz...we'd have been ratshit without them!

Lucky I had my motto..."David Hoo Tours...Your Travel Experts with Minimum Experience but Maximum Optimism"...no better example than our Long Way to Patagonia.

Sit back and enjoy the ride...'tis quite a story.


I worked on an itinerary because it is what I do.

This was our first trip to South America so I did some research and bought some maps...nutted out some places I wanted to go...not necessary I was often told...not necessary...you just sit back and enjoy...nothing you need do.

Time to book flights...friends booked months ago...they always use Frequent Flyers...how do you do that?

Ended up I could use my Frequent Flyers...but you have to go the long way...pretty well booked out...had to fly half the legs Business Class as no Economy seats left for Frequent Flyers on half my friends' flights...given about 40,000 points from my friend to cover...cost only $400 return...sounds OK...nil points left for Denise...she to fly Sydney, Auckland, BA...her's cost close to 10 times my fare!

Christmas Day in Japan...can hardly wait.


Sitting on our deck at home having a beer a couple of days before I flew out.

Remember sqeezed something on my left leg through my jeans...never saw what it was...didn't worry me at the time.

Something had bitten me...assumed it was a leech...whatever it was it got infected...tried various treatments...the skin around it swelling angry red...eventually looking like a red, sore eye...blood vessels snaking out from it. Then started spreading to the other leg.

I got out of bed in Tokyo on Christmas Day...nearly passed out in pain when I put my foot on

Christmas Day Tokyo
the floor...lucky I'm a tough old rooster...I'm not letting anything get in the way of my holiday...pain is a state of mind...pretend it is not there and it'll go away I thought.

Toured Asakusa...had a magic couple of days...my first taste of Japan.

Leaving Tokyo Airport I attracted a bit of a crowd.

One of my friends had mentioned my leg...someone suggesting a wheelchair to carry me on board...lot of pressure to do so.

Suggestions maybe I should stay behind for treatment.

F***off...leave me alone...I'll be OK...don't you dare not let me on board!!!


American Airlines Business Class this leg from Tokyo to Los Angeles...my friends in Economy...food to die for...best I've had on any airline...eat your heart out Camel.

Able to have my leg elevated...the redness getting larger...no turning back now.


Arrived at LAX...Los Angeles airport...Homeland Security...portraits of George Bush & Dick Cheney smiling at me...bit unsettling for some reason.

A sign implying you could carry a gun onboard...as long as it wasn't loaded!!!

My friends were flying next leg LAX to Santiago to B.A...my flight LAX to Lima then change to B.A...see you there.

Got in a line for security. Noticed someone ran up and got the autograph of a guy in a trendy hat ahead...bit of bowing...didn't take much notice.

Got to the conveyor belt that x-rays your hand luggage...the biggest black guy I've seen in my life told me to put my shoes and neck pouch carrying my passport through the scanner...OK.

Then all hell broke loose.


"I didn't tell you to put your boarding pass in there."

"What? Are you talking to me?"

Grabbed me out of the line...like a massive eagle lifting a rabbit...to say it caught me by surprise is an understatement.

"I didn't tell you to put your boarding pass in there" he screamed in my face...standing over me.

"Sorry...I didn't hear you."

"You are causing too much trouble...you come with me."

I protesting "This wouldn't happen in Australia"...as he dragged me away.


He locked me in a glass walled room next to the scanner...yep...locked me in.

Me calling out to the Canadian who had been behind me in the line "Please get my Boarding Pass from that pouch and pass it over the top...please".

Possibly jumping up and down...pleading for assistance.


You cannot take one of these on board without declaring it first!
passengers staring in at me as if I was a terrorist...2 of them in trendy hats looking quizzical.


A big black mumma then entered the room...grabbed me like a rag doll.

"You are causing too much trouble...I'm processing you over there."

Pointing to a closed area in the distance.

If I wasn't concerned before...I now was.

I started yelling.

"How dare you. I'm an Australian."

"This wouldn't happen in Australia...This wouldn't happen in Australia"...over and over.

The area outside the glass room thick with Homeland Security...the biggest black guys I've seen in my life...startled expressions of other passengers peering from under their armpits.

The guys in the trendy hats still gawking on.


They started leading me away.

I wasn't afraid.

I was spewing with rage...my mind focused and clear...no-one is going to stuff up my holiday.


Then they let me go.

No explanation...just let me go.

Like a cat with a lizard in it's mouth...dropping it and wandering away as if losing interest.


Sitting at the Boarding Gate for the flight to Lima...3 guys wander up...2 in trendy hats, one carrying a guitar.

"What was that about?"

Chatting away...interested to know who I was...this guy who had caused this ruckus.

Introduced themselves...the taller one Brandon Boyd leading..."We are on our way to go surfing in Brazil."

Me asking "What do you do?"

"I'm in a band."

"Oh yeh. What band?"

"Incubus. I'm the lead singer."

"Far out. Incubus. I've got some of your CDs at home."


Next leg was LAN Airlines...me in Business Class next to a Nun from San Paulo...me no Portuguese so couldn't converse...so I got up and joined the 3 trendy guys in First Class.

Just chatted away...mainly about surfing...where they were going...how the surf is in Sydney...just like old friends having a beer...couldn't help but notice the one called Jared had the most amazing eyes...the one called Brent attending to the other's needs.

Hung around with Brandon at Lima Airport...about 3 a.m...just chatting...wandering around.

Gotta mention that this worked because I didn't treat them as celebrities...just guys you meet on the road.

Got my opening photo. Brandon gave me his private email to send it on...still got it but I've never contacted him...didn't want to come across as a groupie...pity as I reckon he'd have liked the photo.

Enjoy the surf guys...I'm off to Patagonia.


When I got to B.A. I showed the pic to my hosts.

"That's Jared Leto"...Fernando pretty excited about the one with the amazing eyes.

"Who is he? Never heard of him."

"Hollywood actor...the band 30 Seconds to Mars."

And when I got back to Sydney...my daughter "I know who the third one is. That's Brent Bolthouse, a Hollywood publicist."

Just guys to me.

Gotta say I've followed Incubus ever since...got most of their CDs...also got some from 30 Seconds to Mars...enjoyed Jared Leto in his films as the killer of John Lennon and as Nicholas Cage's brother in God of War.

Really glad I got that photo...reminds me of the time I was detained by Homeland Security.

Wouldn't have happened in Australia.


And my leg became necrotic.

A number of visits to hospital in B.A.

Treated as a spider bite.

Wouldn't believe me that I thought it was a leech bite.

"No...It is an arachnid bite...toxic

The night that changed our plans dramatically...but that's another story
reaction...I've seen that before."

And nothing I said could persuade otherwise.

I didn't let it slow me down...refused to take one week off my feet to recover that the doctor insisted.

Nah...you can't keep this old rooster down.

Different for one of my companions when she had an accident on New Years Eve.

But that's another story.

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave

Additional photos below
Photos: 58, Displayed: 28


12th December 2013

From heaven to hell in a day...
Great stories and photos! Japan looks heavenly, and that's quite a portrait with Mt Fuji and cherry blossoms at Christmas. Then a fast descent into hell at LAX with thugs in the airport. Must say though, the sign says firearms are allowed in checked, not carry on, baggage. No guns in our planes, just celebrities. Glad you had an infected insect bite and not a flesh-eating staph infection, and trooper that you are, you kept going. Looking forward to Patagonia!
12th December 2013

From heaven to hell in a day...
For you Tara...a couple of teasers from Patagonia with the panoramas. On the way back in LAX I was out the back as one of my friends was reporting lost luggage. I watched 3 baggage handlers placing bags from planes on the carousels for about an hour...lifting each bag or suitcase onto their shoulders...then bodyslamming them into the concrete floor...laughing...then placing them on the carousels. Did I complain...did I say anything other than to my friends also watching? NO WAY...once bitten...more than twice shy!!! Wouldn't happen in Australia...I hope.
13th December 2013

I enjoyed that. Looks like the site of your bite moved from the first picture to the next. You obviously still reckoning it was a leech rather than arachnid. Strange the ailments we carry with us to the wilder parts of the world. I got bitten by a tick camping in Bornholm, noticed it on my leg when I flew into Delhi. Diagnosed with Lyme disease in Kashmir. Not familiar with those guys in your photos, except the ones who made you feel uneasy...and yes you should be. Particularly after your run-in with their foot soldiers at security. Perhaps one day you'll let me know the real reason the eagle swooped on the rabbit. Wouldn't happen in Australia!
13th December 2013

Sorry to hear you were diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Jason. Was it? The official word is it does not exist in Sydney...doesn't explain why I know of some confirmed cases! I have been advised it was my line "It wouldn't happen in Australia" that caused this gentle rabbit such grief in LAX. I became aware in Chile of a German who had a not dissimilar experience in LAX who suggested that if they visited Germany they would have similar treatment. That resulted in 6 months detention in USA...guess he didn't have my calming demeanor!!!
15th December 2013

I hate to hear of fellow travelers having such problems with security at LAX, but it seems par for the course nowadays. The worst of it is that LAX security is many foreign travelers' first experience with the US, and if the goal is to piss everyone enough to ensure they never return (or connect through, as many are finding out), the various TSA and Immigrations officers are doing a damn good job... That said, going about making statements like "Wouldn't happen in Australia!" seems kinda pointless... After all, you wouldn't go to Singapore and proclaim "I can chew gum in Australia!", or go to Indonesia and say "Wouldn't be executed for smoking weed in Australia!", would you? I'm not saying things aren't ridiculous with US border control - because they absolutely are. But as a traveler, you kinda deal with the idiosyncrasies of a particular destination or you don't go. And I do wish more people would choose to not visit the US (as well as avoid flights that pass through the US) - once the airports feel the economical effects of being such jackholes, the TSA and immigration may start to treat people with a little more respect.
15th December 2013

LAX security is many foreign travelers' first experience with the US
Thanks for commenting Kevin. My boarding pass was protruding from my neck pouch with my passport. Not an unusual item for travellers. Told to take it off my neck and put it through the scanner no problem to do so. The guy wanted to pick on someone...happened to be me. My sister in law, her husband and 3 small children were strip searched at LAX one visit as her husband's British passport said he was born in Libya (was born on a ship passing through). Certainly made me apprehensive when I was selected for ridicule. I thought being an Australian would make a difference...friends of USA you know. Yet on my return trip, security couldn't have been nicer to me!
15th December 2013

The people you meet....
That's a cool story. Worth all the hassle I'd say. How's the leg?
15th December 2013

The people you meet....
Thanks Kris & Kate...certainly made a cool story...got me really pumped up for Patagonia. The excitement in LAX took my mind totally off my leg but the medical treatment in B.A had some surprising effects which I will save for a future blog.
15th December 2013

You're a trooper!
A rough patch there my friend! Hope your leg gets better soon!
15th December 2013

A rough patch there
Thanks Per-Olof. I always reckon if its too easy it is less memorable...if it results in an unforgettable story...all the better!
17th December 2013

Epic adventure with David Hoo Tours
No, no one can keep an old rooster down with optimism like that (and maybe a bit of recklessness) not getting the leg treated sooner but it is still there so all is well. If you still have the email you should send them the photo. It would be a pleasant surprise I'm sure. As there is one universal truth about using frequent flyer miles....it won't be easy, no point A to point B, you will earn it to use it.
17th December 2013

no one can keep an old rooster down
The wisdom of MJ. Nervous about sending the photo...maybe I should. There is a little something for you on Songs about Travel thread...something to help you on your imminent next adventure...enjoy.
9th January 2014

What an experience!
For some reason, i confess i have anxieties going through airports and immigration. Not guilty. But nervous. You don't know what those guys are thinking. Anyhoo, good you have good souvenirs of that episode.
9th January 2014

What an experience
When I think of LAX I think of this experience Lili...memorable yes...want a repeat...no thanks!
28th January 2014

Not coincidence
The incident at LAX was meant to be, irritation or not, so that you could meet those guys. Everything happens for a reason an sometimes people are totally unaware of how they act.
28th January 2014

Not coincidence
Thanks for the comment Roger...meant to be you say...I can take that. Meant to be I bought more Incubus CDs...everyone's a winner! Time for the adventures in Patagonia to begin.
16th February 2014

Would have loved to see you spaz out and get locked behind the glass zoo! Super funny. I'm an Australian damn it! Oh and if you get a chance, see Jared Leto in that movie Dallas Buyers Club. He is amazing in it. Glad you got your leg fixed up.
16th February 2014

locked behind the glass zoo
Great comment Andrea. I think Canadians might have a similar reaction. I couldn't help but think "If you treat your friends like this..."

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