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: