Thursday, 1 October 2009

, of what's left

The potentially penultimate blog of the whole 6 weeks comes to you a few hundred metres from the Obelisk in Buenos Aires. The final long bus has been taken and the final bus ticket (to the airport) has been bought.

Mendoza WAS the place for me, if i was to move/live here (out of the places i saw (in an ideal world)) because it was beautiful, easy and most importantly kept some South American authenticaness.

There isn't a lot for me to say, or at least for my mind to process even after a 'Cama suite'-d sleep from Mendoza to here, because i'm tired, not tired because of lack of sleep last night, because for the last 6 weeks EVERYDAY has been a busy day. With so little time for relaxation, contemplation or creation of clever blogs, as you can tell by the writing level decreasing an age level after every blog.

Neither of us have all to much to do in Buenos Aires apart from spend our last remaining money on alcohol before we have to spend twice as much on it so the Queens corgies can get bathed daily in their specially made shampoo.

Lets hope i end this blog on something witty and reflective, and not this.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Not even time for a coffee

Looks like this will be another short one as Ben is rushing me out of Chile quicker than Speedy Gonzalez tries to escape border control on his various attempts as life as an American citizen.

Uyuni firstly, another 3 days of ´being taken places and shown things´ in actuality, but in reality an fantastic 3 days of basically seeing where God fucked up geography, from boiling days to VERY cold nights and leaving wet socks hanging off a jeep in the summer heat (which Ben and I also did with our bodies) will freeze them and not dry them. A rainbow of lakes, sulphide shoe trapping puddles and more salt than if the whole world ate at McDonnalds,everyday, for a year.

Sandboarding, San Pedro and Santiago have NOT been successful, the 23 hour bus ride possibly being the most entertaining part of the Chile trip. I personally would like to see if we could get some ski-ing or rafting around here, just to make the country not seem as inaccessible as it has been. I do like the LOOK of it however, i just think a day is wasted here, whereas a week wouldn´t be, because you´d know what you to do. Irony or unlucky?

So it seems like we´re going to head for a good juggling spot, perhaps one of the coffee shops we´ve heard the good reviews about and "get the fuck out of here" possibly the most used expression of the holiday and possibly the only time it has been appropriate.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Salkantay, Salar de Uyuni and Sandboarding

9 days since the last post with more happening in my life than an entire season of ER, i have a lot to say. So get your teas ready (a lifestyle i may finally start adhering to) and put those messenger status´ to busy - this is going to be a long one...

...Well that was the intention, but with sand in my eye feeling like a scratch perverts track stuck on repeat with a broken needle itching over the record after sandboarding today and the fact that i have to eat quickly before going to the worlds biggest private observatory to actually be able to look at the stars without the emo cliche, i doubt it will be.

Salkantay, this was amazing. The trek itself, the view, the peacefulness, the achievement and all the joys of thermal baths, glacial swimming (maybe not a joy!) and getting under waterfalls. Plus other, non-water based experiences all leading to a 4 O´clock wake up and effectively running the 100´s of stairs to the top of the mountain to get Wynnie Picchu tickets, DEFINATELY worth it. We were like Gods on the highest stones overlooking Macchu Picchu (a wonder that actually lived up to excessive hype) with creases carved into the stone from other people who liked to also literally feel "on top of the world". Personally, it is the best place i have ever sat. Period.

OK, MUCH shorter than i imagined, but as with everything left of the 6 days we have on this side of the big puddle, it is rushed. Hopefully tomorrow with a lonngggg lonely bus ride (Ben left for Santiago today) i will create a more witty and entertaining entry, one that actually completes this title..

Thursday, 17 September 2009

At last

This wont be long. Im not going to sleep as in an hour and a half i have to be ready to start the trek, its 2.30a.m. I dont know how many years, maybe as long as i have been learning Spanish i have wanted to be at the peak on the Incan trail, perhaps the MOST "to do" thing on a travellers list. Thats not my reason, i want to be there, and in 5 days i will...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My first and last automotive experience

This is difficult to write, without sounding melodramatic so i apologise if it comes across like a bad "shark jumping" soap story with little end product.

So, as you all should know, i don´t want to drive...anything. I´ve never tried a car or motorbike or anything where the concept of "gas" comes into play. Yesterday we went quad biking, if we had paid for 10 minutes less i would have said it was excellent. Until this it was excellent, from building us up from simple on/off gas to riding to the outskirts and seeing Cusco from above and even doing jumps.

To say what happened is folklore, in the sense that i am making part of it up based on half-truths i.e. i can´t remember fully. It happened very fast, a seconds concentration escaped me, i hit something and turned my handlebars, very much the wrong way... On the side of the [dirt, down the mountain] road there was a big ditch, about 6-7 ft deep and ALMOST the exact width of the quad bike, this "almost" is probably the reason i currently have no broken bones... I flew, maybe 6-7 metres (don´t ask why i´m swapping measuring systems, this is how i know it)into a wall and down into this deep ditch.

I now have a scar to match Bens (almost exactly), a bruised bum and a limp that makes Kaiser Soze look like Usain Bolt, although i´ve vastly improved since yesterday. I´ve decided that i AM going to trek Macchu Picchu for 5 days, a grueling task for anyone, let alone someone that finds the set of stairs up to their Hostel a 15 minute job. I don´t care, it´s why i came to South America and i´m not letting some stupidity on my half and a backside that feels like i spent a night in WMCAs prison ruin that.

We weren´t insured (putas) so i had to spend $700 on the quad bike i basically wrote off and we spent close to 3 hours getting it out of this ditch (well them, i was lying on the floor struggling with Spanish with two local kids)

All in all it could have been ALOT worse, and it is a story far better than what the "Do you not know about me" man was telling from the last blog. Now its even more likely that that´ll be the last time that i´ll be burning up our atmosphere...

Monday, 14 September 2009

What Ben Gibbard said

Maybe a nonsensical title for all those who aren´t as deeply analytical of Death Cab for Cutie lyrics as me, the message however is "There´s no comfort in the waiting room" (What Sarah Said). This is true, and also the reason for me to get two entries in within 24 hours, as i sit at 6 in the morning on the Loki Internet waiting for breakfast and bed - in that order.

Am i getting to old? Or am i more...resourceful in the use of my time travelling? As Ben and I listened to some loud mouth "dave" blabber on to people about how he´s been thrown out of hostels and been fined for pissing on the street - none of which, of course, were his fault - with constantly saying "Have you not heard about me?" which we found hilarious, considering himself some South American boozed up celebrity, where the only way would see him would be on ITV 4s "Booze Britian Abroad". Maybe it´s the tiredness making me cynical, but i´m definately glad my stories aren´t solely pissed up tales that i could have achieved with a weekend in Southport. Not saying that i don´t want to - but he missed the Death road because he wanted to drink in the Loki bar, a terribly over-gringoed place - that´s a bit of a waste...

All this may seem a little hypocritical being that the route we have taken through the continent is trodden with Western Nike and Adidas shoes and lined with touristic stalls selling all the kinds of tat the users of factor 40 suncream on a cloudy day would love. But i try and push that to the back of my mind with vaguely attempted Spanish to the locals and finding times where we really are off the beaten track (Miners party Potosi). As i said before, our time is short and possibly the least out of everyone we have met, so we ARE checking the appropriate boxes of "Things to do in South America" instead of diving into the "rich culture" of Paraguay where although perhaps feeling the true lifestyle, feeling it is a life you wouldn´t want to lead...

More of a rant than a substantial entry of goings on, but what can i say about a bus ride? I was sat next to some smelly woman on the bus but fortunately found the WHOLE back row free after finding that my clothes couldn´t cover my nostrils well enough to avoid the stench...

I think i better stop before i give off an impression of not enjoying myself, because i am loving it all - even the smelly, spitting tramp lady. I just need some sleep.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Filling the second half of the glass

Over an overpriced taco lunch Ben and I came to the realisation there is only 20 days left and we still have to go further north, twice. So our money problems are now replaced by watching the watch of Bens phone, our only way of knowing the time.

We are about to leave Bolivia, a place 6 months ago i was hardly considering visiting and turns out to be the focal point of our time strapped race across the continent. Currently however we are sitting in an Internet cafe pondering how the Bolivians can adapt to life without the "@" and apostrophe symbols on their keyboards after a funny experience of kayaking this afternoon with Ben being too big for the kayak similar to "ambos" (both, the Spanish word for today) of us making our way through the Inca ruins on Isla del Sol. Following this, I (yes i admit it was me) trotted back to the port lesuirely enjoying the "Cypriot-like" landscape, without the Turkish (yes that was for you Nick) and missed our boat, causing us to pay some locals to take us to the south island (as attempting a 2 & 1/2 hour walk in 1 hour didnt seem all to appealing).

Ironically this is the clearest water i have ever seen yet is far less tempting to swim in than the sludge-brown rivers of the amazon, perhaps it is the lack of alligators...

Another realisation weve had is that together Ben and I have not been out to ONE proper club yet, refreshingly showing that this is more than a southern hemispherical booze cruise, however now were off to Cusco (where hopefully i be able to get some pictures up!), a party city. So we will be filling up the second half of the glass there.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Nature calls

Or not, there are a few reasons why this title is or is not appropriate.

Reason 1) My phone; a poor pun at best, but i´ve lost it, well i say lost, i KNOW where it is, but from here it would require 1 hour on the bus + a boat ride + 3 hours on the bus + another 18 hours on the bus down a road where 5 days ago i helped drag a dead man up a cliff. A surreal experience. Even after that i would need another 3 hours on a tail bone hating jeep and a further 3 hours on a boat down an amazonian tributary, i figured its not worth the journey... Although the initial trip leads me to reason 2..

Reason 2) The Amazon; and this time i answered in the most naturistic way (excluding the lack of clothing) and it was fantastic, anywhere in the cash machine lacking town i am currently in has a place to develop cameras then i hope i will at least be able to show you some of the best section of the holiday (for me) so far, including holding annacondas, cobras (which i have a more than entertaining video of our guide, choco, risking his life for our entertainment), monkey, crocs and unfortunately (although being the closest) being a foot away form touching a pink dolphin. A truely fantastic 3 days, if i am to puch the mosquito bites and how the Reading travel clinic ripped me off with unneccessary malaria pills to the back of my mind.

Reason 3) Peptol Bismal is a powerful thing. End of.

Reason 3 has been about the climax of illness´ for me so far, which is lucky. Despite us both currently evading the hyprocondriacs favourite "Gripe A" Ben "stomach of stone" Mottram has got the closest sounding thing which we are terming as "Mine flu". A cough which acts a constant radar system to me, even tonight, in the middle of a busy bar Ben went to sit down and without seeing him the sound similar to the old steam engine of Thomas the Tank Engine lets me know his location.

So now, no longer Internetless, but still cash machinesless, we are in Cococabana (which i´m sure is spelt wrong) and we´re off to explore the islands of Lago Ticcicata (wrong again) tomorrow before heading off to Cusco, our party city. Then the moment i´ve been endlessly waiting for Macchu Picchu...But that is a while away, and although we have now hit the middle point of our holiday we still have SO much planned, whether is all comes to plan, like planning to sleep on an overnight and instead spending the time worrying if you will meet the same fate as the lorry which you helped retrieve it´s passengers from the bottom of the hill...


N.B. This was really difficult to pick the best picture - so here´s loads:
















Friday, 4 September 2009

Dots on the hilltops

Is all i could see as i sat out over the mountains near La Paz, after completing Death Road. This, for those that didn´t know is a 63Km bike ride descending 3550 metres, over a shear cliff face. And as a person who is scared to ride a bike through Altrincham in the middle of the day, this was a challenge. YET it was Ben and his lack of a scared gene that caused the only minor accident of the day by bombing past everyone on a sheer cliff face and veering off into (fortunately) a ditch on the other side of the road. Ben will obviously tell you otherwise...

This hotel is idealic, a treat in a budget month and a half, it makes me understand how Brandon Boyd wrote this lyrics "Wish you were here" (despite him writing it about the image of someone and not someone specific)

La Paz is awesome, in unexplainable ways via a blog, but tomorrow we´re off to the jungle. To meet alligators, snakes, piranhas and all the kind of animals you´d like to keep a safe distance from instead of wading through their natural homes. I´m sure the Steve Irwin in me will get me through, if not, Who needs a left leg anyway?

Change of the blog name? Well, the whole "where the hell is Matt?"esq with juggling balls never happened, but i have something new, and much much better:


Monday, 31 August 2009

Under pressure

Or not. I don´t fully understand how this high altitude works as we are in Potosi, the worlds highest city. Already, well from the second the border of Argentina was crossed at 8 O´clock on a freezing Sunday morning, the look of Bolivia is significantly different. Yet in its odd little way - including waiters being an average age of 7 and people standing in the middle of the desert (literally miles from anywhere) to get picked up by our bus - i like it. Today we will be braving our insurance claims again going down the silver mines and throwing dynamite down them (i hope in that order).

I can´t really understand how to use the cd/dvd player to put up a photo (again) but i am hopefully that you´ll get more than the one on the first night in this entire six weeks, but no promises. There is always the endless albums on facebook preceeding an adventure like this, with my trigger happy cameraness i think i may eventually exceed 2000 photos...

The people we have met so far have been amazed by our attempt to fit in all we have planned in 6 weeks, and now i´m starting to see why. Lack of sufficient blog time alone shows how busy we have been, but i don´t think there are two other people that need to be constantly entertained as much as Ben and I, so it works well.

After the last post we coincidentally had LOTS of time to kill as we re-arranged to get a night bus up to the border, but i couldn´t do a more satisfactory blog due to a man we simply knew as "Internet" because he spent the entire time on the one computer the hostel had. This makes me feel better about lack of blogging as it doesn´t keep me addicted to the Internet. I´ve had this time as i´ve sent Ben off to get some breakfast which, like all food in Bolivia, scares me.

He´s here, and what we´ve termed as "Gringofied" our breakfast, (Americanised) so that we can be confident of eating safe so that we aren´t ill when we go kill ourselves down a mine.

Hasta Luego x


This is us playing with live dynomite:

video

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Update

Literally no time.

Salta was cool - now we´re off to Bolivia, i can´t wait :)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Lost

So Ben reminded me this morning that i haven´t updated since he has arrived and of course i haven´t let the world know of his great start... After e-mailing back and forth to confirm where we going to meet i told him a very specific bus to get on as it had its own depot. I get a call after he was meant to be there explaining he is on some different bus and then he got bored and got off. I check the abundance of maps i had (3 local ones and 3 from the guide book) to find he is on the very end of the Barrios de Buenos Aires and no other map. A further 3 trains and us both waiting at two different train stations. But somehow we got it to work.

Yesterday we went climbing just outside of Cordoba in a standard that was at least above me, nevertheless it was fun.












We are now in Cordoba as i write, yet we are leaving to Capel Del Monte (i think), a place with ´Lost´like qualities, a funny energy that makes it a draw for hippies and other like minded people, and here we come.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Drumroll please

Likely to be the last morning in the hostel and still pesimistic about how easily Internet will be accessible in the other cities i am writing again. Our day trip to Collonia yesterday (Uruguay)was definately enjoyable, if not a touch short, but time was short to make sure we could get back for the much hyped "Bombarderas". After queueing in a very long queue, twice, we got in and got a bit of a dance on while the drums were conducted (which i didn´t know was possible). A really enjoyable show and i hope this picture does it justice. I have to meet Ben now...i mean i want too...

p.s. Photo didn´t upload, but i will get it up a.s.a.p.

...days later... here is the photo that has taken me ages to upload

Sunday, 23 August 2009

TWO

This´ll be short, as depsite it being almost midnight i am still hungover. Me, TWO people i met in the hostel and a bunch of crazy Chileans on a stag party went to a club of monumental size - it was like a castle - last night and where the spirit is about a 4 to 1 ratio of mixer and only a few drinks will quickly have you dancing inside of a glass cage with a discoball. Today we went to see Boca vs Argentinos where Argentinos got TWO in the first half for Boca to come back to make it TWO all, with all the goals being infront of us and not the other end of the stadium where the Boca fans powered by passion stronger than Duracell dancing, sang and generally went crazy for the entire 90 minutes and more. TWO nights have passed and TWO nights till Ben arrives and we leave Buenos Aires (Although it looks like i´m going Uraguay for the day tomorrow by boat) which´ll be sad as i´m getting quite into this city. I don´t have my lead so i can´t upload a picture and i know if i get back into my room then my head will hit the bed like Wild-E-Cayote having on of his trademark ACME anvils dropped on his head, but i have got some good ones.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Southern Hemisphere

I was scared of writing another negative blog and i would have done had i had access to the Internet in the ever repeating corridors of the Sao Paulo airport, like when the Simpsons get taken to the Itchy and Stracthy studio. Somehow, however i made it to the other side of the world all by myself and i´m in the Circus hostel/hotel after being driven into an area the taxi driver described as "surrounded by drugs and prostitues" and realised that maybe the bus driver misinformed me of the best place to stay.

In attempt to tackle jet lag the quick way i planned nothing for last night, but i did get the enjoyment of walking into a restaraunt and instead of being offered smoking/non-smoking the choices were flamenco/non-flamenco. Perhaps picking the wrong type of beef, i got the enjoyment of seeing a very charasmatic man take the stage (when i thought it was more of a womans forte) and realise that now i really am on holiday.



p.s. I got up this morning and get into the lift there is a naked man in there who the receptionist is forcing to put his clothes back on, lovely thing to wake up to.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

I hate airports

I hate airports, i really do. I know their meant to be this place of joy and anticipation, yet for me it's just endless queueing with some waiting added like a side order at a restaurant you don't really want but will end up eating and paying for later. Why can't i get here for 9.55 for my 10.05 flight? Instead it's 3. I suppose there is now the time to actually get some of that travel insurance I've heard is so important... Unfortunately there is nowhere to connect my camera in this Wetherspoons computer, but i think we've all had the displeasure of being in an airport terminal before and don't need a picture.