Saturday, 29 October 2011

Last of the Peruuuuuuuuuuuvians (and one, only one Chile)

My return to Lima was straight forward, athough the bus was an hour late. Its a great feeling to return to a hostel a month later to find the same people are still there and recognise you. I basically hung out in Lima, saw a few new things such as the water fountain park, que night photography/light fun. I also went to a cinema with a bar and tried the Peruvian version of McDonalds - Bembos. I did little else, this post will largely cover Peruvian food!
Posing next to a fountain

Oh I joined the Riot Police

Colourful Fountains

In the water Tunnel
Right Lima covered and photos.... lets talk about Peruvian food, big fans of starch, it is pretty common to get both Rice and Chips as accompaniments. In a list form here is what they eat.

Rocoto Relleno = This is a stuffed pepper, usually stuffed with mince and spicy, it is delicious.
Papa Relleno = This is a stuffed potato, similar to Rocoto again it is very good.
Cuy (In various forms) = Guinea Pig, served whole with body and all. It tastes like chicken, see previous post for a photo. It is traditionally a festive food.
Creme De Zapallo = This is a pumpkin soup, again it is delicious.
Helado Queso = This translates as frozen cheese. It is sort of like a sorbet made from Cheese, but its not cheese. It tastes pleasant enough, couldn't figure out exactly what it was though.
Antecuchos de Corazon = Cow's heart, cooked like a Kebab. Very tasty and meaty.
Camarones with Eggs and Potato = Prawns with a sauce and sort of potato cake thing. Again tasty.
Ceviche = Pretty much the most common seafood dish. Half raw fish in a chilli and Lime sauce served with onions. Simple and brilliant.
Sublime = A brand of chocolate, similar to snickers. A national pride.
Alpaca = Served like a steak, lighter than lamb it can be tough but is usually tasty.
Pollo y la milanesia = A chicken fillet battered and served with rice and chips.
Lomo Saltado = Pretty much a beef stir fry with onions and peppers. Excellent, cheap and tasty.
Peruvian Pizza= Found everywhere, varies from excellent to poor.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables = Avocadoes out here are ridicuously fresh and tasty. All fruit is fresh and cheap, markets you can get fruit smoothies for next to nothing. Watermelons are huge. In a supermarket we bought about 12 tomatoes for 50 pence. I did a double take when I saw the price.

This pretty much sums up Peruvian foods. I ate pretty healthily in Peru, bar all the starch and occasional burger. I ate way more salad & fruit than usual. One quick note about Chilean food, they have hot dogs here which they coat in Guacamole.

My long haul trip south passed pretty uneventfully, three buses, 50 hours of travel. Oh I forgot to mention I was fined by the Peruvian border patrol because I overstayed my allotted time in Peru by ten days. I was fined a hefty 10 dollars... which I just so happened to have in my wallet.

In Chile, first glances it is much more prosperous than any other South American place I have been. Taxi's have meters and the fashion is a lot more 'diverse'. People also sport ridiculous hair styles; Rat tails and Mullets. My hostel is in Bellavista, which is an area mostly populated by cool cafes/bars with tables on the street for daytime drinking in the sun, in other words totally awesome. (Just like back at home days at the Prom/Blue Lagoon). I have climbed San Cristobal(a big hill with views of the city) met a friend of a friend for drinks. Walked around and generally observed the city before I leave for New Zealand, the end of the South American adventure.

In summary it has been exciting, refreshing, interesting and of course an adventure. I've met many friendly locals and travellers alike. Peoples generosity and warmth never ceases to surprise. But that might just be cause im Cynical... But I have only had a few bad experiences. Time to cross that majestic ocean once more and set down in more unchartered territory. But for now some Chilean pictures and like the end of North America a summary picture that symbolises South America and yet not at all.


and for the summary....
I came, I saw, I conquered. Goodbye SA

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Volcanic Vitality and the Desert Oasis.

In Arequipa I refound my zest and now in Paracas as I have two hours to kill in the bus terminal its time to recap.

In the last proper 'travel' blog post we left off as I arrived in Arequipa. Arequipa is a lovely city with white buildings, the usual colonial out posts and surrounded by snow capped volcanoes. On my first proper day I took in the main city sites, the Cathedral, Santa Catalina Monastery and Juanita. Juanita is a frozen five hundred year old 13 year old girl who was sacrificed to the angry volcanic mountain god in a bid to appease him. This museum itself was rather interesting, the Cathedral a bit dull and Santa Catalina too expensive... none the less I enjoyed my city tour. In the evening I watched Peru get beaten by Chile in the football in my old haunt (a point hostel) and decided to move hostels... you can't really argue with £4 a night over £8, a bar and like minded individuals.
Taxi's in the road

Protest outside the Cathedral
After the football I had a relatively early night as it was time to get my Adrenaline fix on again. Hurtling down a Volcano on a mountain bike. Not quite the same as Whistler, a less fancy bike, equipment and certainly no ski-lifts. It took about two hours to get to the top not including stops to look at wildlife. Eventually the start point reached we headed down. Now another major difference was the terrain... very very dusty and sandy meant handling was quite a task. I crashed on a corner after I got cocky... fun none the less. Our guide hurtled down the mountain at impossible speeds. One more tumble due to sand and we finally hit the road. This became a road race of hurtling as fast as possible down the road. Not the death road mountain biking experience that one can do, but hard and enjoyable with stunning views of Arequipa and surrounding Volcanoes.
Bikes and Volcano

Pegunias (sort of a cross between a Deer and a Llama)

On top of the world

Fully Equipped & Volcano
After Biking I moved hostels, making it full. Booked my two day (lazy) trip to Colca Canyon and proceeded to mingle with the other Hostel member. Missing spicy food like crazy I headed off for Mexican and here stumbled upon a home made sauce that set my mouth on fire. I quickly acquired it (don't worry it was also for sale) and headed back to the Hostel for more hi-jinx such as 'flip cup'. However I had another relatively early night as the next day I was off to Colca, the worlds Second deepest Canyon, the deepest is also in Peru but a mission to visit. Incidently the Grand Canyon is only the worlds 3rd deepest. We set off for Chiway the town nearest the Canyon stopping every ten minutes to look at yet more Llamas, Alapacas and Pegunias.After a lecture on 'eating little due to altitude' the tour took us to a massive buffet lunch...
Lunch finished we rest in town and the hotel before being whisked off to some lovely hot hot springs. Dinner was a traditional affair complete with dancing. I made friends with the two Peruvians opposite, next to me and the Irish couple and vehemently opposed being dragged off to dance with the dancers. We went out that night but somehow in between the bus ride and the bar Lourdes lost her Camera. This had two effects - I became official Photographer for her and her friend and much rum was drank. The hotel had a curfew of 11:30 which we of course missed.

Traditional Dress and Llama
Waking up at 530 wasn't the easiest task but it happened and we promptly left for the viewpoint of the Canyon - Cruz Del Condor. On route we came across some laid back tourist traps... pose with a Llama or Have a Falcon on your head. We got to the viewpoint for the stunning views of the Canyon and the second big attraction. The Condors. These to me look like grand flying Turkeys, another opportunity to get out the flashy lens and show off/practice. We returned to Chiway for lunch before heading back to Arequipa.
A bird on my head

Lourdes with the Falcon

Condor in Flight

Some of the Colca Cre
Back in Arequipa... I met my friends, went to a bar and then a club to for 'Salsa'... this usually invovles me standing around looking bemused. It was enjoyable none the less... I went back to the hostel to watch Wales lose to France... this ended at 5am! The next day I formalised my leaving plans and had been invited to a Peruvian birthday party. I put my pictures on a memory stick so to pass on to deal with the missing camera and went to a suburb of Arequipa for the party. Despite being given beef heart, Rocoto Relleno and Pisco Jelly it was quite similar to other birthday parties. I'll talk more about food in a separate post... but the birthday party was fun and we basically just played drinking games for the whole time. Once again I returned to the Hostel to watch Rugby.

Sunday being a quiet day I ate some more weird peruvian food 'Helado Queso' which roughly translates as 'Frozen Cheese' and went to the Cinema before catching my night bus to Ica. Turns out the two English girls I went Moutain Biking with were also on this bus. In Ica we decided to head straight to Huacachina and find a hostel. Huachachina is a small town near to Ica surrounded by massive sand dunes and an Oasis. The Guide describes it as a'exotic resort'. It comprises a few restaurants and hostels. Our hostel was a nice affair complete with pool, nightclub and bbq. The main draw to Huachachina is the sand dunes, which are used for high octane activities such as dune buggying and sand boarding. However before this we tried the other regional activity.... Wine tasting. We tried everything from White to Rose and Pisco. Pisco is similar to Baijou, the guide says the closest thing is Tequila... this is crap. Baijou! Anyway it tastes ok in a cocktail but straight.... no thank you. Returning to the hostel for all you can eat and drink bbq was fun, I met probably the largest amount of consolidated English people so far... we tried the club but it was so massive and yet empty (it was monday) I gave up.
Hostel, Club and Sand Dune
The next day was spent milling around the pool in the heat, eating lunch and waiting for sand boarding. This came around, the dune buggy ride was pretty intense going over what felt like vertical drops. Sand boarding again was fun, going pretty fast at times down very steep/high dunes. I retired to Huachachina for some food, said goodbye to the English girls and went to bed for 6am start due to visiting Ballestos Islands.

Ballestos Island was nice, lots and lots of birds. I even saw some penguins and plenty of Sea Lions. I am now in Paracas, the sun is out and my bus is only an hour away before I return to Lima. Are limited photos of the end, as I have not uploaded yet and I have none of Sand Boarding... yet. But I have put the missing ones from the last blog up so in the meantime enjoy that.
Pelicans in flight


Yet More Pelicans

Sea Lions

(Photos now up everywhere)

A short collection of rants

I almost titled this blog “observations” but that wouldn’t have worked because its more me making ‘observations’ and then making wild, crude, offensive remarks. So rants fits better. I’ve been reading a lot of Cracked recently in downtime, this a website specialising in lists. It is worth visiting for stories of Epic things in Space, Stories of friendship in time of war and other bizarre lists. So in list form… a short collection of rants.
1.      People who dress like spengs.
When travelling you come across a fair few people. My least favourite are the travellers who decide to ditch all previous(or not) fashion sense. I had a very heated argument with Jacob and David on a previous travel trip about this same topic. Just because you are travelling doesn’t mean you should change how you dress. This mainly relates to people who don ‘hemp’/parachute pant esque trousers and shirts. Wearing dreads and basically looking like a tramp. I mean, half these people look like they’ve never worked a job, so how do they manage to travel? These styles are in the minority… and can be spotted a mile off. In this category is also people who wear Peruvian hats (or any ‘traditional’ gear from said country). In some places its cold I get it, but 24/7 in the jungle? I don’t see you adopting all the other traditional garb… with your Nike trainers on still.
For the record I still dress like I did back home, I don’t even have walking boots anymore. I wear shorts more but still have skate shoes and t-shirts with silly slogans such as ‘no gracias’.  Im not supposed to judge by clothes but well, some people just make it too easy.

2.       A certain type of traveller.*
Now this is based off observation, I am not stereotyping or generalising but is based of 99% of encounters with this particular ‘group’ of travellers. In one of Welsh’s blogs he documented certain types of traveller… although a good list, it has some omissions. Now I ain’t calling names but I’m not the only person who has bad experiences with this ‘group’. I have found them to be arrogant, impatient, rude, have a pack mentality, inconsiderate etc. For instance, they have been incredibly rude to bus drivers, other patrons on the bus (in this case they happened to be my friends and an incredibly nice pair of Swiss) and generally miserable to everyone else. In another occasion I came back to my Hostel room to find my bed covered in garb belonging to one of them. If I had been asked; ok, or my friend it would have been ok. But neither of these happened. This is just bad etiquette. Now it may sound like I am whinging about minor escapades, which I am. But when this builds up and is the normal behaviour it begins to grate.
It’s not the English traveller, although we of course have our own faults.
*If you really want to know who makes up this group then message me or guess on the comments.

3.       People who make no effort to learn the language.
This probably comes under English/American travel faults. As nations we are probably the least bilingual. But I have sat in restaurants and watched people go “I want a BEER please” or “THE BILL PLEASE” Or just talk in loud slower English to get what they want. In South America at least it is not hard to learn 3 phrases that can be used in restaurants… ‘Quierro una Cerveza (or replace Cervaza with whatever is listed on the menu) ‘I want….’, “La cuenta” – ‘The Bill’ and of course “por favor” – ‘Please’. Anyone who doesn’t do this is clearly a spack. If you were in a restaurant in England and somebody asked for “La Cuenta” people would whine about it, why be any different outside of the UK? I could understand in China or Japan where the languages are harder but as far as I can remember this happened less out there. (Incidently I have forgotten what the bill is in Chinese) actually I have now remembered it is ‘Mei-Dan’, Pronouced ‘My Dan’.

These rants have all been aimed at fellow travellers. A few more irritants more located to locales.
4.       Taxi Drivers/Drivers in General
In most developing countries driving is appalling. The horn is the standard, it replaces the breaks and any form of social logic. In a traffic jam, the horn will resolve it. In Peru taxi drivers see you walking and obviously think walking is for idiots, and so honk at you. In most places you pick up a taxi but here taxi’s seem to think they will pick you up, by loudly irritating you with their horn…

5.       Locals trying to pick up Western girls.
This is less a rant more a series of amusing anecdotes with a bit of fun chucked in. Western girls are quite appealing to guys in some developing countries. But their behaviour often doesn’t do them any favours. For instance; in China a guy asked me how he could make himself more appealing to western women, A) I have no idea, B) In general they don’t like Chinese men, C) When it gets hot… STOP ROLLING YOUR SHIRT UP TO CHEST… either take it off completely or don’t do anything. It is the most unappealing look to anyone ever, and I say that as a straight man. Even I know that is a terrible look.
In Peru the behaviour can be downright odd. In the hot springs on the Salktantay trek the Peruvian guys slowly edged towards the girls in our group, almost like a game of “whats the time mr wolf” until they were very dangerously close to invading personal space. In a nightclub the Peruvian guys literally stood at the side of the dance floor and very obviously leered at the girls. If they didn’t act like some weird kind of pack animal stalking something they might have got somewhere. Not all Chinese/Peruvians behave like this, in fact I have met plenty which are not like this at all, But it is these instances which stand out. For Peru this may have just been a weird Cusco thing, elsewhere in clubs they pay little attention to anyone else and focus on dancing to Salsa/Reggaeton… which leads to my next point.

6.       Salsa and Reggaeton
Now I hate RnB/pop music and generally dance club music. Salsa and Reggaeton are much better. This is everywhere in South America (obviously) but after a while it is so repetitive and the same songs everywhere, also the dancing (as I can’t go beyond basic Salsa) gets very samey and so to me boring. However it is a marvel to watch the locales get the Salsa on and when they move, they move, I first learnt this in Colombia.

7.       Early Mornings
I write this as I have to be up at 6am for a tour to see some animals on an island. Early starts are horrendous but a necessary evil. For the past week or so due to tours or buses I have had to be up at a silly time (except for yesterday when I slept in till ten).

People may have noticed in my last blog that I was a bit weary, well no longer, I got over that and am back with a vengeance. I have vented and hopefully you see the humour in this post, as some of my ‘observations’ are more amusing than truly frustrating, but some are.  After the ‘weariness’ I am back with a vengeance, two posts will quickly follow this – Peruvian food and Loop da Loop; reinvigoration of me via Arequipa, Colca, Huachachina and the return to Lima before 50 hours plus of pure travel. Thus basically winding up the Peruvian leg of adventure.

- English Abroad: A three hour conversation about football from England? Seriously... 

-Hippies. Everywhere and anywhere. Poi in the dorm room... cool. Hare Krishna centre... enlightening.
-Cold Showers. Only acceptable in the humidity of the Jungle.
-Toilets: where you gotta pay to use and yet they are still dirty. I mean why am I paying you to sit on your ass? Main offenders: Tibet, China. Or just holes in the ground...
-Sunday Happy Hours.... Making sobriety next to impossible.
-Menus where half the food is unavailable. 
-Foreign TV. This ranges from the batshit insane to the downright bizarre. South American soaps are even more hilarious than American ones. If you've seen bold and the beautiful, imagine that but like with 1/10th of the budget and the acting is 5000 times worse.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Just Perusing... Bubbles burst, Jungle Japes and Lake Titicaca.

First... No more bad puns I promise.

Before Leaving Cuzco I witnessed a parade, stuck around for Pirate Party and had a rather tasty smoothy from Muse. I wanted to leave Cuzco by the Monday. Not so much because I had become bored/disillusioned but because it offered routine. The same places, the same people, it was easy to stay and this is perhaps the same reason I needed to get out. So I burst the bubble and left on a flight to Puerto Maldonado... Jungle Frontier town.
Cuzco at Night

A rare picture from a night out (from me anyway)
Puerto Maldonado was hot and humid as soon as we left the plane. I found the hostel easy enough and went off for lunch and to find a tourist office. I settled for some Chinese, which is odd as their are loads of Chinese restaurants in Peru but barely any actual Chinese as far as I can tell. I chose a tourist office opposite the chinese and found a four day tour for the cheap price of $190. I had seen online two day tours for $350 so my usual plan of not planning in advance once again panned out. I had a pizza the night before leaving, accidentally ordering takeway which was fine. If I didn't know better I'd reckon Pizza was the national dish of Peru....(but then thats in tourist towns, which Puno, Cuzco and Nazca undoubtedly are, and hey tourist love pizza right?)

Anyway I left for the Jungle at the spritely time of 10am. The lodge was located an hour down river and so off we went.
Day One: Arrival, Upon arrival I was told lunch would be at one and to hang out till then. Which I did, on a Hammock. A German couple returned from activities meaning I wasn't alone in the lodge. After lunch I was taken off for the first activity; Monkey Island. The name was misleading as we saw zilch. Absolutely nothing except a bird that was allegely rare. Back to the Lodge for more hammock time before dinner. Time to meet the other lodge residents. A red howler monkey named 'Lalo' and a cheeky Macaw named 'PePe'.
After dinner we went for the 'night walk'. This proved more fruitful, within five metres of leaving the lodge we came across a Tarantula on a tree. We saw at least five more giant spiders, a humming bird, some weird bugs and different spiders.
Stick Insect
Day Two: After a breakfast we set off for Lake Sandoval, after about an hours walk we reached the lake and boarded a canoe. The sun was out and this meant the temperature rocketed to unbearable. Lake Sandoval is an 'oxbow' lake. Short geography lesson; this mean it was formed by the River breaking its horseshoe shape and straightening leaving an "bow" shaped lake in its place. Anyway it was majestic and grand, surrounded by various wildlife and birds. We climbed an observation tower (we being me and my guide Alicia) and headed for a lunch spot surrounded by butterflies and large red ants. We continued a loop around the lake before heading back to walk. Throughout the trip Alicia explained the things in the jungle to me. Lake and jungle done for the day we headed back to the lodge. This time after dinner we headed down river to look for Caiman. Caiman are basically Alligators. We saw at least 8, Evolutionary flaw... eyes that glow bright red when light is shone at them.
Lake Sandoval

Bird on the Lake

Day Three. Canopy walk and Zip Line. This was the order of the morning after breakfast. Up a large tower and across the 'canopy walk' which was in essence a large rope bridge. This gave view of the jungle from the treeline. However it didn't feel safe, im sure we should have been strapped up. After this we went on to the zip line which again wasn't quite as safe as I felt it should have been... maybe I'm just used to western over safety... BUT it definitely needed a break, proven by the fact I careened into Alicia at one end. Otherwise this was fun. Lunch, oddly was set for four people despite me being the only lodge resident. After lunch I went kayaking while my guide followed in the normal boat. We then visited Monkey Island for a second time. This time, however monkeys appeared pretty soon and they were coaxed to the 'feeding area'. Three different kinds showed up; Brown and White Capuchins and one lone spider monkey.
I returned to camp to find three new arrivals, explaining the extra settings at lunch. Either way I was invited on the Caiman tour for a second time. This time we didn't see as many but we saw a family of the Giant Guinea Pig esque things which was pretty cool.
Canopy Walkway

Zip Line


Feeding the Monkeys
Day Four. I left. I had seena wide plethora of widlife but no snakes much to my disappointment. I had acclimatised to the heat and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Jungle. My guides had been excellent with the usual Peruvian sense of humour. I have now failed to think up an example of this humour.
Lalo(Monkey) Alicia (Guide) and Pepe (bird)

Dozing with my new friend Lalo

Sun goes down on the Jungle
Arriving back in Puerto Maldonado I braved the heat and quickly arranged a night bus to Juliaca. The junction point for Puno. I did nothing else except check the internet and eat more chinese food. Which was a mistake as it left me pining for the real thing. I bought supplies for my "14" Hour bus and readied myself. This was not the luxury affair of Cruz Del Sur. Still it was pleasant enough, no horror stories as such. I read my book until the lights went out and then I tried to sleep.

I did get some sleep, but through no fault of my own I broke a cardinal travel rule; (according to guides anyway) 'Do not arrive in an new/unfamiliar city at night'. My bus arrived two hours earlier than I was told, 5am would have been acceptable and in light. However 3am is a different story. Too early to find a bus to Puno I succumbed and grabbed a mototaxi to the nearest hotel that would take me. I paid an extortionate ten soles for this ride, at least the hotel room was cheap. Whether or not it was cause I slept enough on the bus or I was worried about the hotel I didn't sleep at all at this joint. 8am came round and I jumped up and as luck had it found a bus to Puno at the end of my road for a measly 2 soles (fifty pence). In between leaving Juliaca and getting to my hostel in Puno, I lost my phone. I blame sleep deprivation.

Puno, in short words is pretty run down and not so nice. A couple of streets are pleasant as is the square but its so obviously just a crossover point for visits to the lake. I did virtually nothing day one blaming this on my disjointed night. The next day I booked a tour to Los Uros; the floating islands. This tour in itself was really interesting to see how people live on floating reeds. I bought some artwork for my wall as some sort of retail therapy and possibly cause I felt a little guilty about not staying overnight on one of these islands as is possible, my excuse this time is time.
Street Volleyball

Fancy Dress

Learning about the Floatation

Traditional Sales technique

Lake Titicaca

Puno photos when I bother to upload them. I was going to make some observations on Peru, but this post has been long enough. Am now in Arequipa, it is lovely to say the least. Tomorrow a city sight see and then mountain biking and Colca Canyon!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Four Completely Avoidable Mistakes... Machu Picchu walking tour

Time for another iconic mountain escapade. When one thinks of Peru you nearly always think Machu Picchu, Llamas and Guinea Pigs. Well I do anyway. This is a story of fun, hardship, pain, reward and as usual rum.

I broke the cardinal rule of walking shoes... I bought new shoes the day before the trek. This was my biggest mistake, perhaps of the whole trip. In the shop they seemed fine. By day one I realised they were too small, by the end of day two my feet were in a world of pain. This will be detailed further and I full well know I should of known better, I miss my old walking boots. First mistake...

Second mistake, I forgot to ask if I needed to rent/bring a sleeping bag... ergo I had no sleeping bag. This only really affected the first night sleep, cause after this I borrowed a blanket. I know, once again poor planning screwed me.

Day one started at 430am with a pick up from the hostel. I jumped into the van to sleep. Two hours later and a quick breakfast we headed off up the hill for a relatively easy days hike. Three hours to lunch and three hours after. Lunch was soup and rice(a theme). The group consisted of 17 plus the two guides, cooks and horsemen. The majority of our group was Swiss but also comprised Americans, Australians, Spanish, Israeli, German and Dutch to get a feel of things. I was the only token Brit for once. At lunch, I was apparently lunch for about a hundred flies and this necessitated reattaching the bottom of my shorts.

At the end of day one we played a 'Rest of the World' vs Peru plus Girls football match (we won) and settled down  a surprisingly tasty dinner. I was fully prepared for a five day detox, but after dinner the rum soon came  out and we played pigs. A game similar to dice based on points.
Before lunch ready to walk

Dog overlooking the mountains
Day two was 'the hard day' an early start and straight up hill to our higest point for three hours. The climb was  tough but tolerable and was rewarded with amazing valley views and fog/snow at the top of the pass. Going uphill my feet felt best but it was apparent that my feet were hurting. After five hours of walking a much needed lunch was shared in a farm shed before a final (exhausting) three hours to camp. Spotting what we thought was camp in the distance, we took a five minute break to prepare for the last half an hour only to then walk around the corner straight into our actual camp! The scenery had begun to change in the afternoon from mountainous to green forest.
Shoes off and feet patched up(squeamish people don't read this: my pre-existing blister had ballooned in size and my nails had cut into the sides of my toes. My big toes were looking considerably off colour...) I removed the soles for some extra space and joined the others for a celebratory snickers and beer.
Pre-dinner was an amazing selection of popcorn and crackers. Dinner itself was the staple soup and rice.
After dinner went much the same as the previous night... games and rum till later than we should have.
Valley Views

The group

Juan Carlos explaining offerings to PachaMama (Mother World) and looking decidedly cold
Day three was billed as the easiest. For me it was the opposite. In theory it was an easy three hours downhill, however every step I took sent agony either through my feet or my knees (a by-product of ill fitting shoes). Eventually I made it to lunch where all walking for the day was over. The usual lunch was followed my another football match, which due to my feet I had ruled myself out of so instead I practised my sport photography.
After this we were driven off to camp and after putting up the tents to some outdoor hot springs. This completely rejuvenated us and was epic bliss, a much needed treatment for the feet. The same dinner routine was enjoyed. In a slight shape up for rum consumption instead of pigs we played monoply (with cards) and then ring of fire.

Local kid, proceeded to swipe snotty nose on my lens!

Cool Kid

Footballers in action
Day four. Dosed up on maximum strength aspirin (the stuff is amazing) I had one of the best days walk, 6 hours total to Aquas Calientes (literally hot water). The walk was a steady uphill in the warm sun to lunch at the hydro-electric damn. This stretch also included a 'cable car' river crossing. Basically a trolley attached to some rope. The afternoon was completely flat and included the first views of Machu Picchu mountain, ruins and Waynapicchu. It gave you an idea of how remote Machu Picchu is; we literally walked around the whole mountain and saw no viable paths, except old remnants of Inca Trail which had to be pointed out.
At lunch I had left my bag to be taken the last stretch by train, due to sunny weather I put everything (waterproofs, jumper etc) in the bag... Mistake number three. Obviously my rum offering at lunch (in re-packing my bag I had shared a swig of rum with the guides and Pachamama, ie pooring it on the floor as is the custom) was not appreciated as for the last half an hour of the walk it rained. Not just dull rain but epic rainstorm rain. Soaking me fully to the bone, on top of that the train was almost two hours late meaning I had no clean/dry clothes. Silver lining we were staying in a hostel so had towels and hot showers. The swiss girls had bribed us with the promise of another bottle of rum if we collected their bag from the station (a wise move considering the weather) so once again before our earliest start we socialised drinking rum with ring of fire.
Towards Hydro-electric Dam

Cable Car Crossing

Machu Picchu and Waynapichu
Day Five. Machu Picchu ascension day. Easily the hardest wake up due to being in an actual bed, it being 4am and the prospect of wet socks and boots. We left on time (ish) at 430am and headed off in the dark to climb for 'sunrise' at Machu Picchu. This was an epic hour long trek up stone steps in humidity. By the end I was soaked through... it had not rained. If I was given one piece of advice the day before by Sandra(who left our tour early to join her friend) it was to bring a spare shirt.... mistake number four! Anyway a little damp never hurt anybody so mission accomplished we didn't see a sunrise as there was no sun. We wandered around taking obligatory Faceache profile pictures and taking in the sites. I climbed Waynapicchu at the nice time of 7am. This was lucky because any later and I wouldn't have bothered due to being knackered and my feet. It offered more stunning views of Machu Picchu and the route we walked the day before. I spent a good half hour relaxing on the top, taking photos of the sites and Japanese tourists... as one does.
I got the bus down around four and took of my boots for the final time... I doubt there are many better feelings than that. Spent the rest of the day relaxing in Aquas Calientes eating pizza and shopping before catching a late train back to Cuzco.
Faceache profile picture


From the top of Waynapichu
In the sun
I've already explained some of Cuzco, so to add. It was dubbed 'The Bubble' at some point, it being in Peru but not 'real Peru'. It is its own small encapsulated area of backpackers and locals. It is easy to enter but hard to leave. I have ended up being here almost a full week. Its a lot of fun and provided much needed rest from walking. However I have my exit booked so on monday I am outta here.

Right then, big moves and shakers in the world of travel plans. On Monday I fly to Puerto Maldonado in the Jungle. The news is my decision to basically write Chile off, and focus solely on Peru, taking it in at a nice pace and seeing some of things I want to and have missed. This means Titicaca, Arequipa and Ica for sand boarding/Ballestos Islands. This also means I will loop back on myself. It also means 3 days of travelling to reach Santiago from wherever I am in Peru (most likely Ica).
Well now you are all updated... time to watch Dr Who.