So after finishing the climb into and out of the Colca Canyon we headed back to Arequipa. On the way back though we stoped somewhere to see some Condors. They are the largest birds in the world (I think their wind spans to up to 3 metres), and it was really truely amazing watching them soar above us (well it was amazing until the one of our group, a boy I might add, thought it was time to tell a truely dirty joke).
So back in Arequipa, Kirsty and I had a message that Aaron the guy who we had lived with in La Paz and gone to the jungle with had scrapped his plans and had come to Arequipa to meet us. It was then that we decided to form the team AKA (Ally Kirsty Aaron)
The following day was actually Aarons birthday and we had the most random hilarious day ever.
We decided in the morning that we would really treat ourselves so we went for a champagne brunch. The main plaza in Arequipa is surrounded by restaraunts on the second floor of these old colonial buildings looking over on to the square. It is a really bueatiful city with loads of old buildings but it is small so it still feels really friendly, and then when you look around you you can see these huge mountains that surround the city. We had a great lunch and after a couple of bottles of champagne were giggling a fair bit. Even the farmers protest in the middle of the square didn´t distract us.
After we had finished breaky we wondered what we should do...... looking around one of us spotted a city tour bus... so off we went (bringing with us a couple more bottles of champagne). So we sat at the top of the open air bus and I think we set the tone at the begining when Aaron opened the first bottle and it covered a few of the people around us. A middle aged lady from Chile behind us thought it was hilarious and soon got involved with all the festivities. The tour wasn't amazing but I think we espeically enjoyed wearing the free yellow visors we were given and waving to people on the street. Good game to play who ever gets the most waves back is the winner... of course I don´t have to say who won.
Back on land again, I sneeked off to get a cake, and we had a bit of a surprise inpromptu party in the hostel where we were staying with the people who worked there and Nestor. So off we went for a night out. On the way to the bar we were heading to we passed some sort of private art exhitition, so Aaron and I thought we would try our luck.
For a while we were standing looking at an information board and then the boncer just walked out and straight past us.... ha ha so in we pop. Had to make ourselves look a bit posher (well I have been travelling for a few months now and havn´t had any new clothes), so I did the old cardigan over the shoulder trick... which ended up working.
So in we walked to this private function and the first thing we were handed was a glass of wine, thank you very much. There were lots of arty types so we just moved round the room trying to blend in. We then popped into another room where the art was, as we were looking at it a man comes over to us and asks us if we would like to meet the artist... well it would have just been rude to say no right?
We ended up chatting to the artist (in Spanish), having photos with him, meeting another artist who wanted us to come for dinner at his wifes resteraunt the next day...... I have no idea how on earth we got away with it.
We rounded Aarons birthday off with a bar and then a club....... it was such a funny funny day, random as but very funny and he did say it was one of the best birthdays ever :-)
I think this is probably the most far behind I've been on my entire trip, but I'm sure most of you are aware that I am still not in Peru but in Buenos Aires now. That aside I'll continue with where I left off.
Kirsty and I arrived in Arequipa and that day decided that we wanted to do a trek or some sort of walk to the Colca Canyon. I think we were panicing a little bit as in a weeks time we were due to do the Inca trail and neither of us felt very fit at all. So booking into an interesting hostel (eyebrows raised) we quickly headed into town to book something.
We sat down to discuss a tour with a lady and she took us through all the details? As the tour she was detailing sounded like there was a lot of sitting down I asked if there were any treks that you could do, she looked at us both and replied "Urmmm, well we do have a two day trek that you can do, but it is really for people who like sport." WHAT!!! fair enough I wasn't really a massive fan of netball in school but gimme a break. I think her saying this made us think that it was going to be really really difficult, so when our faces changed to a very worried look she said "don't worry you can hire a mule to take you up the Canyon on the second day". Hmmm we'll see.
So the next day we got up at 5am and headed to a small town closest to the Colca Canyon. We had a really mixed group, in fact the sort of group a comedy could be made out of. Two Israels, Two Germans, a Dutch guy and then Kirsty and I and our guide Nestor. The Colca Canyon is the largest Canyon in the world so the first day we walked down into the canyon to stay at one of the three villages within the Canyon. The views from the top looking down into the Canyon were amazing and we were able to spot tiny little villages in the distance. Wouldn't fancy falling though. The altitude was effecting a couple of the group so we went pretty slowly which meant that before we had actually got to where we were going it was dark. With my torch broken, and Kirstys battery dead we walked the last hour pretty much in the dark. In the end we made it safely to a little village, where we stayed in this tiny little farm house for the night. After we had some dinner Nestor pulled out a traditional flute and played us a couple of Peruvian songs and a quick blast of Celine Dions ... 'my heart must go on'. Ha ha ha.
Next morning before we headed off I popped into the kitchen to get something where I saw a big guinea pig running around, strange I thought. Later as we were walking I asked Nestor what it was there for....you can imagine my face when he replied "they're going to eat it". The morning of the second day was relatively easy and we popped into a small museum which had lots of traditional tools, that they use in the mountains. It was a museum basically in someones living room. At mid day we reached a lagoona where we went swimming in water from the volcanoe (obviously not sraight from there as that might be a bit hot). It was very very relaxing and really cool floating there being completely surrounded by mountains.. Well that was definitely what we needed before we started the 4 hour hike up the canyon. On the way up the group got a bit seperated, one took a mule up, one was at the back so Nestor stayed with them, 2 of the guys were in the middle, and the group at the front consited of 1 of the Germans and Kirsty and I..... woo hoo, we were first up. That'll teach her (woman in shop). It was quite a tough climb up and you could really feel the altitude the higher you went but the achievement you felt at the top was amazing.
The next day we relaxed in some natural springs and then headed back to Arequipa for some more fun.
Location: Lake Titicaca, Peru
So we headed over to Peru with our two Liverpudlian mates (keeping an eye on all wallets and alloy wheels) and headed to the floating ilands of Laketitcaca. These islands were built by the Uros people to escape the people that lived inland. It is amazing to see how they built these islands completely out of reeds and that they managed to live there independantly, but it was a very touristy place and I did ask myself would thrse people still be living there now if it wasn´t for tourism. Afterwards we headed to an Island in the middle of the lake called Almantani which is populated with 800 families, has no roads, no cars.. and bizarrely no dogs. The main business they do here is weaving so most peole were walking around weaving and knitting as they went along. We stayed in a familys house and that night they came and dressed us all up in their traditional clothing and we headed off to the local community hall where some of the local children were playing music. Our mama grabed and dragged us all up for a bit of traditional dancing which was fun but completely exhausting at that altitude... the little old dear wouldn´t let us sit down though, I´ve no idea how she was doing it as she was about 70.
(if you have face book there is a video under my videos)
We headed back to the mainland the next day where we said goodbye to adam and lesley (and our wallets and alloy wheels) and Kirsty and I jumped on a bus to a place called Arequipa for the start of one of the best weeks on my trip.
Location: AMAZON, Bolivia
So we headed off to the jungle in the north of Bolivia, to a little town called Ruenabaki. Okay so lets just say that the plane we took to get there wasn´t the largest in the world, we were also confused by the chirping noises ...... on investigation there were about 500 baby chicks at the back of the plane, and to our great amusement some had managed to escape and were running around the isle, real life chicken run!
So on the first day of our tour we made a 3 hour trip down a river where we saw some amazing animals. I was especially amused by these animals that look like giant gunie pigs, they were constantly just hanging out by the waters edge and looked like they had been smoking alot of the wacky backy, very funny. The next day we got up and headed into the marsh land (mud up to knees.... ok maybe hips for me) to find some Anacondas, but sadly they all seemed to be off on holiday, but we did see some Cobras. On our way back to the boat we were walking through reeds about 6ft tall, a couple of our group dropped behind so our guide sent the rest of us on towards to the boats... urrrr needless to say that after 20 minutes walking we still hadn´t found the boats, didn´t know where our guide was ...AHHhhhhhh panic set in .... we were lost in the Amazon. Luckily though, just as we were putting into action our plan to get to a large tree that we could see to climb and look, we saw our guide in the distance... phew we were saved.
That afternoon we went fishing for Piranahas which was a lot of fun, but even more fun to eat. Unluckily not everyone in the group managed to catch one (not mentioning any names... kirsty), so sadly no dinner for them :-)
That night we saw this crazy aligators with red eyes, spooky.
It completely rained loads the next day so we didn´t do anything in the morning except lounge around on our hammocks and make up shadow puppet shows. Kirsty and I played chirades only using our faces ... yes I was going a little stir crazy. That afternoon we headed back down the river but not before having a little swim with these pink river dolphins which was amazing.
When back in the town, we went out that night and had a very random fun night out with our guide. The next day there was absolutely nothing to do as it was raining and there were no flights going anywhere. So we decided to check out most of the establishments in the town - you know how that sort of day went when you end up on a boat crossing the river to another little town and then in a local karaoke bar very late at night.
Luckily the next day (with a little bit of a sore head) we got a flight back to La Paz. And so onwards we went to Peru......
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
So here we are in La Paz.... I write that like we´ve just got here when in fact we have been here for a month now..... sorry I got a bit slack.
Anyway back to more interesting stuff. We got here and booked into a hostel called adventure Brew, little did we know that this place was going to become a little bit of a second home. On the first saturday we went to a place called Olivers - noted in the Lonely planet guide as the worst cultural experience ever, and believe me it was... but after a month and a half, a pint and some football really really appealed. So that saturday we spent pretty much the whole day in the pub.. ahh felt just like home. But again you would think I´d have learnt that by now hangovers + me + altitude just don´t go.
After spending the week doing some spanish lessons, making a few friends at the hostel we came to our second weekened in La Paz.
The Worlds Most Dangerous Road
Ok before I write about this... Mum don´t worry, I´m alive... it wasn´t really as scarey as it is going to sound I´m just exagerating it a little.
So the Worlds most Dangerous Road runs from La Paz to a little place called Corioco. We started off at 7 in the morning a took a drive out to the meeting point which was at a height of about 4,200m. Here we were given a safety talk, told we would be riding about 64k in total and given out the whole gear. So off we went. The scenary was amazing as we drove straight down along a paved road winding our way though snow capped mountains. We stopped a few times for a rest and another prep talks with further warning, at one point we stopped and had an up hill bit to contend with ... my god it nearly killed me (altitude again). About at about 12 we got to the start of the WORLDS MOST DANGEROUS ROAD. At this point we were told various things like it has it´s name because when it was used as the main route at least 400 people died a year, it is a wide track that at points changes into a 3 meter sharp turn.... loose control and it is goodbye, don´t look at birds as the last person to die followed one right off the cliff. But I have to say it was amazing. It was beautiful, the scenary went from these amazing snow capped mountains to the tropics as we speedily dropped down 3000 and something meters. At points we had to ride underneath waterfalls that cover the roads and avoid bolders that had fallen from the cliff. I have to say it is up there with one of the most amazing things I´ve done.
Kirsty and I decided to stay in Corico for the night and it was like being in a completely different country because it was so hot. We treated ourselves to a nice hotel and spent the next day by the pool relaxing, surrounded by mountains and watching Condors fly over our heads. Although that night we were sad to leave we had to head back to La Paz as we were moving in with our new family the following day..............
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
Well I´m definitely a little bit behind but I´ll make a good attempt to update you all on my news now.
As I mentioned before after our exciting weekend on the road of death Kirsty moved in with our new family on the following monday. Our mothers name was Gloria and she had a lovely house where she lived with her 16 year old daughter. You can imgaine how excited Kirsty and I were (after 7 months of travelling) to find out that we each had our own room with a double bed. It was really great staying with a family, it really helped with my Spanish and she cooked all our meals for us. We loved it so much there that we ended up living there for 3 and a half weeks.
During this time we got involved doing some volunteering at a childrens home. Three days a week we would work in a home for younger children, I would work with about 15 children between the age of 1 and 10. It was really nice and they were so cute but it was sometimes a bit sad as well.... and to be honest all the littles ones wanted really was to be cuddled. The other days we worked in an older home doing art and sport activities with different groups of children (I still can´t draw). We helped take them swimming one day as well which was good fun (except when one of the children shouted .. ahhhhh piss en la piscina - I´ve never swam so fast).
Most Thursdays we went back to the hostal we had first stayed at and met up with the people we had made friends with for the thursday night jacuzzi party (not sure if I have mentioned before but the so called jacuzzi was actually a bath with a fire underneath it), but to be sure these nights were always a little messy. I had quite a few crazy evenings in La Paz including meeting up with a couple who were actually good friends with Taz (random hey), meeting up with my cousin Carol and her boyfriend making them miss their bus one night so they could stay to party and then the second time they came to La Paz, I brought them round to mumma Gloria´s house where she insisted they stay for dinner.
One weekend we headed to Cocacobanna which is a little town right by lake Titicaca (I giggle everytime I write that) the highest lake in the world, we had a brilliant time here. It was a really chilled out town and it was really nice to be by the water again. Had a go at some pedal boats and wow I forgot those things can actually be pretty tiering (I blame the altitude). So after a month in La paz we decided it was time to head on and to be honest it was really sad saying goodbye to the children I had been working with and to all the friends I had made there. Our mother was sad too and brought kirsty and I some earings as a good bye pressie.... but it was time to continue the adventure. So we headed on for our trip to the jungle and for our creation of TEAM DEET.