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Ange Hands Latin America Adventure

The beginning of my 4 month adventure through South and Central America. Keep in touch and find out where I am.

Diary Entries

Monday, 07 September 2009

Location: Santiago, Chile

Back in Santiago and hit 2 days of rain. I dont think this place ever stops raining!
Cleared up for a few minutes and allowed us to finally get up the hill and to the scenic view point of Santiago.

Not much more accomplished on our last few days and took an overnight flight back to Auckland, New Zealand.

Mixed emotions for the journey home. Excited, happy, sad and nervous.

In a period of 18 weeks I managed to see some amazing countries, meet wonderful people and make new friends, experience different cultures and travel a significant amount of land. A truly brilliant life experience.

This now wraps up my Latin America journey. For those of you who continued to visit my blog, I hope you enjoyed following my adventure.
Keep in touch and look forward to seeing you all soon.
xxx

Saturday, 05 September 2009

Location: Antigua, Guatemala

Made our last long bus journey (8 hours) south towards Antigua. A beautiful colonial town with cobbled streets, greats shops and surrounding by volcanoes.

Spent our days exploring the region and even managed to climb Volcan Pacaya - a active volcano. We climbed 1000m and reached the lava flow at the top. From here we decided to roast marshmallows from the lava and absorb the intense heat. Seriously dont think I could have got closer to a lava flow if I tried. It was a pretty amazing and crazy experience.

Made back to Guatemala City for our last night in Central america. Stayed at the hotel near the airport which honestly was in the middle of nowhere.

Departed early for our flights back down to Chile. A slightly scary experience on our second flight from Panama to Chile. We were taking off when the pilots decided to put on the breaks and slow down completely. Just so happened the door lights were on so had to go back to the gate and get the engineers to look at it.
Not a great experience but we managed to get going and arrived safely to Chile. No surprised when we landed - RAIN!

Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Location: Tikal, Guatemala

A 0500 departure to get to Tikal, one of the best Mayan ruins in central america.
I was still pretty shattered from our late nights and traveling the days before, but managed to get there.

Got a guided tour around Tikal as this place is massive! Was good to ensure we covered the most important pyramids and we managed to climb all the pyramids we visited with the highest one being 63 metres.
Doesnt sound to difficult but with all this relaxing on Caribbean beaches our muscles strained with the sudden exercise.
Although we left Tikal at midday, the early start is necessary as this place is hot with 75% humidity.

A great site to see and good to get a comparison to the Incas life.

Got back for a much needed Siesta. We were staying in Flores which is an island situated on a lake.

Unfortunately some bugger decided to go into our hotel room and help themselves to my mobile phone! Not having great luck with my belongings this final week.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Location: Caye Caulker & San Pedro, Belize

So our 5 night stay on Caye Caulker ended up being a 10 night stay and 2 nights on San Pedro Island.
This place is beautiful! I dont think you could find better in the Caribbean.

Daily routine pretty much was wake up mid morning, have breakfast, put bikinis on, go to the split beach on the island, soak in some rays and have a few drinks from around 3pm...
Blissful!

Met some awesome people and we ended up having a great birthday celebration for Jen.

Went out on the boat one day and checked out the reef and swam with stingrays, reef sharks, octupus and plenty of fishes!

Now looking super bronzed we have dragged oursleves back to the mainland and back over to Guatemala.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Location: 26 Hrs later but we made it!, Belize

In preparation for Jens big 30th birthday we decided to head straight for Caye Caulker Island in Belize.
This created a fair amount of determination and some speedy transport connections to get there in time.
Over a period of 26 hours we took a flight from Quito to Panama and then another flight in business class to Guatemala. Business class you say? Everyone else thought the same when they saw three girls carrying sleeping bags walking into the Executive lounge and then sitting in row 1 of the aircraft. Had to be done!

Once landed in Guatemala we moved out behinds to the bus terminal to only be told that the evening bus to Flores was sold out. Another taxi ride to another bus terminal and we booked the last 3 seats for a 9 hour journey to Flores. Arrived this morning at 0600 and then picked up a 0800 departure for Belize city.
Arrived into Belize city at 1.20pm ready to catch the 1.30pm ferry to Caye Caulker!

PERFECT!!

Now we have arrived to Carribbean tropics, cocktails, beautiful water, brilliant seafood and sunshine!!!
Big Happy Birthday shout out to Jen!! Let the Carribbean party begin.... x

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Location: Equator line!, Ecuador

We ventured out to Ciudad Mitad del Mundo - city of the Equator line. Well actually there is 2 equator lines, both 250metres apart from each other.

The first one (which is the tourist looking one) was identified by the spanish and french settlers and the second one was discovered several years ago using proper GPS systems. Whos to know which one to go for.
We checked out both lines just to make sure we covered it all and included photos as proof!

The second equator line was also in the Museo de Sitio Intinan (also known as the Solar museum). Actually very interesting and ended up being a very scientific afternoon after learning about the global forces, variations in seasons, pressure flows etc....
We had a blast!
Not sure if I felt the earths energy while being on the line but was worth the visit.

Last night in Quito and then we head to central america!!!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Location: Otavalo, Ecuador

Took a day trip from Quito to Otavalo. Home of the one of the famous Saturday markets in Equador.

3.5 hours later and we arrived to streets and streets of markets.
Very similar to the Bolivian markets but equally enjoyable. Where else can you buy fresh fruit from the street sellers, meat carved straight from the animal, textiles, blankets, pashminas, jewellery and other weird and wonderful things. Great fun!

Managed to misplace my camera yesterday which is a royal pain in the butt! Only lost 1 weeks of photos but the inconvenience is enough frustration!
Justine and Jen - can I get some of your photos please.......

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Location: Quito and Banos, Ecuador

Hola Ecuador!!

Not sure how this is happening, but every major city, village and town we have travelled through seems to be having huge anniversary celebrations!

Quito was another one. We arrived into chaos and quite frankly it was too much for us girls to deal with. After a few hours we creeped back into our room and chilled for the afternoon.

Old town is awesome but decided to head out and explore more later in the week.

Took a bus South to the town of Banos. Bordered next to a active volcano and mountains it is a charming town with many thermal baths to soak in!
While in the treking mood, we climbed up to the Mirador de la Virgen which gave us a good view of the town.

After the rain cleared we then rented a quad bike and buggy and ventured out to see a few of many cascades {waterfalls} in this area. We dont seem to be having the best luck with rented land transport and on the way back our buggy decided to stop in the middle of the main road.
Gasolina - check, all good!
press some buttons - check!
push some wires - check!

But no go, we were screwed. Ended up asking a local if we could use his phone and called for help. Not a problem when you have $$$.
Several hours later, sunburnt and a sketchy journey back to Banos we were in a need of a recovery drink and jacuzzi!

Thursday, 06 August 2009

Location: Ballestas Island, Peru

The poor man version of Galapagas Islands!
Headed out on a boat ride to Ballestas islands and spotted many birds including Peruvian Boobies {yes that is their real name}, sealions and penguins. Enjoyable but a bit cold out on the waters.

Headed for Lima, our final stop with our tour group.
Had our final dinner and drinks to wish everyone well on their onward journey and to reminise about our tour.
A good tour group with some life long friends found along the way!

That was Peru ticked off! A country with amazing history, beautiful architecture, landscapes to die for, friendly people, good fruit juices and good night life!

Wednesday, 05 August 2009

Location: Huacachina - Sand duning!, Peru

Stopped in Huacacina on the way to Pisco to do some sand duning!

One word - Awesome!!!
Went out on the dune buggies and seriously thought I was on a rollarcoaster. These drivers were crazy!

Got out and boarded down some sand dunes. Went down on my stomach as wasnt convinced the knee could cope with standing. Had a blast.

Got to Pisco and again was surprised by what I expected and what I saw. The town was pretty run down and still recovering from the earthquake that struck the town 2 years earlier!
Took less then 10 mins to explore the town but did manage to try some more of their famous pisco sours which they claim to have originated. I shall leave that argument to the Chilleans and Peruvians!
Did enjoy the drink!!!

Tuesday, 04 August 2009

Location: Nazca, Peru

Besides the Nazca lines, not a heck of alot to do here!
Spent the day poolside soaking in some much needed sunshine, sipping Pisco sours and sleeping.
Hard life!!

Sunday, 02 August 2009

Location: Colca Canyon, Peru

After arriving into Arequipa we took a 2 day trip to the Colca Canyon.

Driving high up into the andes over a pass 4,800masl we then descended down into the Colca Valle. Another amazing and beautiful site.
Climbed another mountain to view the robbed inca tombs. Didnt realise we would actually be seeing open tombs full of skeleton bones but was well worth the energy.

After we hit the thermal springs for a relaxing soak before bed .

ANOTHER early wake up call and we were up and out of the hotel by 0600. We trailed the valle towards Colca Canyon and to the Condor Cross lookout. Exactly at 0830 a dozon condors soared only a few metres away from us. So graceful to watch.

Headed back to Arequipa and before leaving that evening we visited the Santa Catalina Convent, A city within a city, this huge convent housed hundreds of nuns and is now open to the public after 350yrs of isolation to the outside world. Have to say we were impressed with the quality and space of living here. Can see the popularity of becoming a nun back in the past.

Another overnight bus to Nazca. Managed to get a hostess on this bus who served us meals, drinks and told us where emergency exits were.

Saturday, 01 August 2009

Location: Tikal, Guatemala

A 4am wake up call and 5am departure to get to the Mayan ruin of Tikal. Why so early I hear you say. This is to get there and see it before it gets to hot and humid. (has 75% humidity)
A huge place with loads of pyramids to explore and climb. We ended up having a guided tour to ensure we saw the main pyramids and it was great. Good to get a comparison against the Incas.

Funny enough the legs are now a bit sore from all the climbing. I think all this island relaxing has made me unfit....ooops

Managed to spot some Tucans FINALLY and spider monkeys which was cool.

Came home early afternoon and had a well deserved siesta. Running out of time so heading straight for Antigua tomorrow.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Location: Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco is my favourite city in Peru. So beautiful with alot to see and do.
Its main square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, churches and fountains and it helped that the weather was also gorgeous.
Spent our 'recovery day' chilling until that evening when we hit the salsa club for some dancing! Great way to losen the muscles after the Inca trail trek!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Location: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!, Peru

Ok people, I am still here!! The past few weeks has been crazy and action packed so sorry for delay in blog update.

What can I say about the Inca Trail - it was unreal, magical, challenging, exhausting and exhilerating!

I am so pleased my knee managed to survive the 4 days, 3 nights journey as it was tough. I probably should have read up more about the trail as I was not aware how high we climbed, how tough it can get and how far we went.

Over the 4 days we treked almost 50kms and scaled through the mountains finding archaelogical inca sites on the way. The weather was amazing and perfect for our treks. We climbed as high as 4200m above sea level, appropriately named DEAD WOMENS PASS which was really tough! With the extreme heights, the lungs and the legs struggled with this altitude and as soon as we got to the top, we went straight over the mountain and desended 1000m back down to our campsite.

We had a team of 11 porters (including chef), 1 tour guide and 1 assistant guide for 9 of us.
The porters were unbelievable and everyday packed up our campsite, picked up all our gear including food and cooking equipment (this weighed up to 30kgs on their back) and they would follow, pass us and prepare at the next campsite for when we arrived. Supermen is all I can say!!
They also would wake us up every morning by shaking our tents and offering us a hot tea or coffee, couldnt ask for better service.

I was hoping the inca trail would be a good way to lose some weight but the food was amazing! We were constantly stunned with the amount of food and quality of meals we were receiving. Where else do you get pancakes for breakfast, chicken curry for lunch and jelly for dessert. Hopefully I burned most of it off!!!

One of our highlights was the evening of the first day. We were camping in the last village on the inca trail and appropriately the village was celebrating their anniversary. The locals had all dressed up and started festivities on top of the nearby mountain. That night Wilfred, Justine and I snuck out of camp to see where the local band was playing. With Wilfred and I both being over 6foot we walked into this circle of bemused locals who all stopped to take notice of us. Promptly the band started and with us 3 being the only gringos there we were quickly pulled up by the locals for a dance. Now these dances last for minimum of 10 mins and exhausting! We noticed that a line started forming from more locals wanting a dance so we very promptly made our exit and retired to our tents.

On our final day, we got up at 4am and started our last trek at 5.30am to get to the sungates of Machu Pichu. Seriously hard to explain our beautiful this place is and hopefully some of my photos have done it justice.

Did an amazing tour of Machu Picchu city and then caught the train and bus back to Cuzco for a well needed shower and rest.
Magical experience!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Location: Amazon Jungle, Peru

A quick flight from Cuzco and we dropped down to 800m above sea level and arrived into scorching temperatures. It was seriously HOT HOT HOT!

We took a 90min motorised canoe to our Amazonian Eco Lodge where we would stay for 2 nights.
First afternoon we did an excursion over to Monkey Island and as the names mentions, it has monkeys! Lots of them!

The next day we did a 4 hour trek through the jungle which was great. The weather took a dramatic turn and overnight it had turned cold! We could not believe it!
With the cold temperatures meant very little chance of seeing scorpians and snakes....gutted!!

We did however see alot of vegetation and am now experienced in jungle flora and fauna.

That afternoon we did another walk out to the Cayman lagoon to do some cayman watching.

Jungle life was fun and I even managed to escape with no mosquito bites....unbelievable!



Thursday, 23 July 2009

Location: Cuzco, Peru

What is it with South America and transport strikes!
We hit a strike in Puno so had to leave earlier then planned to ensure we got to Cuzco in time. A 2am departure and 6 hour ride later we arrived.

Cuzco is probably one of the prettiest cities I have seen so far in South America. A mixture of European and Peruvian architecture it is absolutely stunning.

Spent a good chunk of the day exploring the city, visiting the inca museum and shopping in the local markets.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Location: Puno, Peru

Jumped across the border into Peru and headed straight for Puno town.

Our tour group has a good bunch of people from Australia, England, Ireland and Holland and we all seem to be getting on well.

From Puno we headed out on a boat trip to explore the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. What an amazing site and I couldnt believe hundreds of islands, man-made out of reed and scattered close to the shoreline.
We visited two islands and were showed how the islands were made and how they live. Not a bad place especially with it being tax free.

From there we took a further 3 hour boat ride to Amantani Island where we were going to have our homestay.
Justine and I were grouped together and we met our island mother for the night; a 16 year old girl still in college who owns a house and lives with her parents, sister and 2 brothers.
We had a excellent time, helping them cook in their traditional kitchens, playing football at 3000 feet above sea level (not easy) and then dressing up in traditional costume to go to a disco with all the other gringos and families!
We had loads of fun dancing the traditional dances and meeting new people.

After saying goodbye to our islands families and mothers, we then took the boat over to Tequille island for lunch. A traditional island where the women spin the wool and men knit in the streets! EXCELLENT!
Need I say more......

Friday, 17 July 2009

Location: La Paz Rocks!, Bolivia

La Paz is awesome and I am loving this crazy, manic city. We have had a good time exploring throughout the entire town, meeting with the locals, searching through the witches markets for potions and lotions and eating some really good food and fantastic fruit juices!

As we do in all cities we visit, we went out and tried the nightlife which was equally crazy. We hit a cool bar that played live music and had a good mixture of backpackers and Bolivian people. Good times had by all!

Sunday we joined our tour group and had dinner with them all. Very strange to have someone tell us when to wake up and eat. I think it will take a few days for us girls to get use to this.

In saying that we have a good bunch of people on tour so should have a blast.
Next stop.... PERU!!


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Recent Messages

From Clarey
Ah you, sounds amazing! I wish I had time to check the photos, but this internet cafe is eating all my money!!! Loads of love Clarey & Adam xxx
From Clare
Yo! you seem to be enjoying yourself so much that you have no time to update. How are you getting on? Have you had enough yet? We are just loving our trip and I think that I will find it hard to come home... although 2 weeks in Argentina afterwards should help :-)
Loads of love from the top of the world (Tibet!)
Clarey
xxx
Response: Yea sorry chica! Been crazy busy the past few weeks .Have had a blast and will update the blog now and add photos.
Glad to hear your having a great time in Tibet! xx
From Emma
Hi Ange!

Amazing stories and great photos, I'm so jealous of you guys!
All well here. Me and T. are just counting the days for our holiday, we're off to Turkey for 2 weeks in the beginning of Sep. I remember you telling that you loved Istanbul, I can't wait!
Oh, and me and T. are moving after our holiday back to Olympia. We weren't even looking but got a great offer and couldn't refuse it. A bit sad to leave Clapham, but the new flat has a roof garden and even a dishwasher, who-hoo! :)

Enjoy your trip, keep in touch and big kiss from here to you and the girls!!

Love,

emma xx
Response: YOU WILL LOVE TURKEY. Awesome place. Drinks loads of water and make sure you get a turkish bath. Great to hear from you. xxx
From Patricia
Congratulations on yoir niece!!! Lovely news...

Everything going well you will be an auntie in UK too...yes I'm expecting a girl!!!

A big hug and lots of love, Patricia xxx
From Mattie
Hi
Just spent the last 30 mins catching up on all your adventures which have worn me out. You three certainly know how to travel. Love reading your journey, and enjoying the pics. This is a great site. Keep having fun!
Love Mattie x x x
From Estelle
Hiya,
Your trip sounds totally fantastic! Very Jealous... You were missed on the wedding day... It was amazing and so magical! Loved every moment of it. The Make up looked amazing. I've emailed you the link the photographers website. Can't wait to catch up soon. Lots of love to you and the girls. Estelle xxx
Response: Thanks stelle. Photos looks fantastic. I missed a wonderful day but so glad it was perfect for you two!
From
Hi Angela and my other daughters - love the photos of the whales and seals. You all seem to be having an amazing time. Great website to follow your journeys - Love Mummy
From Tania
I am soooo jealous looking at your photos! xx
From Flavilla
That's it! You are having too much fun! Come back now....

Just kidding, I'm just jealous
Miss you

: - )
From Phillthy
photos look great and stories even better..

keep enjoying it

From Paloma
Great to hear you're having so much fun! I am now dreaming of Argentinean wine and steaks while I drink soup from the sandwich man...not quite the same!
Keep the stories coming and look forward to speaking Spanish with you soon xxx
Response: No probably not the same Paloma. Talking Spanish soon - lets hope we can! I get lazy ever now and then but trying! Big hug x
From Patricia
Belly popped end of last week. feel really good, can't button trousers though! Loads of work!

Going to Portugal on June 11th for 5 days and cannot wait.

Antonio is well and activelly researching baby products, each of us vents our own stresses our own way, I just do nothing...

Enjoy & take care, Patricia xx
Response: Ha ha - I hope Antonio isnt getting himself to confused about all those baby products - I hear there is too many! Great to hear the belly has popped - look forward to seeing some belly shots soon. Have a good trip to Portugal. x
From Karla Santos
OMG enjoy my country my dear. I am so happy for you
xxx
Response: Yea Brazil rocks Karla! Have now left and going through Uruguay
From Keryn
Hey Ange, Just checked out site and read about your adventures. You've done so much already. Bus rides sound bit of a nightmare but glad to hear not too bad.

The flavella's sound so amazing, would be cool to see. Somehow when I read the word flavella my eyes turn it into Flava Flave.
Response: you crack us up Keryn! Totally get where your coming from with Flava Flave..
Bus journeys are fine. Just the odd drama but generally pretty good. Hope your pre trip plans are going well. xx
From Mons
Ok its official I am really jealous with all these photos you keep posting! It all looks amazing and that you girls are making the most of every opportunity to hug or dance with a South American boy!! love you work.....drinking, eating, swimming.....god so jealous right now. Have you never been to auckland in the winter time its just lovely this time of the year!! Safe travels xxxxx
Response: Great, our evil plan is working! We want to make you so jealous you have no option but to book a ticket and come join us! Very cool here and many stories to tell already. let us know when you book that ticket. x
From Patricia
So happy you are having a good time! I miss you here but it's such a warm feeling to "hear your voice" in these lines!

A big hug,

Patricia
Response: Great to hear from you Patricia! Miss you loads and want to hear everything. How are you feeling? Hows work, antonio etc... email me when you get a break.. xx
From Estelle
You popped your knee! Oh no... hope you are feeling better. So was there no drunken person to take you to A&E this time? xxx
Response: Yea I know - where was my Stelle when I needed her! I was gutted but it is healing again. only a little pop thank goodness. Justine was on to it and went and found me a giant stick to walk back with. Who needs crutches. ;)
From Mummy
Hi Angela

A great site reading all about your trip - yes I am with Bek any chance of kiss and tell stories ha ha ha. Envious of your beautiful weather - ours, well need I say more. Love you
Response: Sorry mummy, not for your ears.
What goes on tour, stays on tour.
From Sandy Walker
HA HA I've found you guys now! So if I dont hear from you Dew Drop I know where to go! I have my wee map and look forward to seeing where you are and where you've been.I wish I was there,you will have to map out a trail for us when we decide to go!!
Hasta luego xx Mutti
Response: Hey!
Glad you found us. We are all well and looking after each other so need to worry.
Look forward to seeing you soon. Hope Frank will have the pool ready for our arrival into kiwi summer.
Love from your other daughter.
Ange xxx
From Bek
YIPEEEE!
We love this site.
So fab to hear about everything you are doing....can the sisters-in-law receive a girls only kiss and tell version?? Surely there are men we need to be hearing about!!!!
Response: All PG rated on this site Bek! ;)
From Mattie
I think you will have to get a job as a travel writer/presenter. Whenever I read your adventures it feels like I am there. Thanks for your great communication. Must try one of the Capracocktails - obviously very succulent
Tchau
Mattie
Response: Have to thank Justine for the great communication. She has brought her laptop and that helps us keep in contact with everyone. Yes try the cocktails although very dangerous on the hips with all the sugar in it1
From Juzzy
Wow what a trip, wish i was on it...oh thats right I am. xx
Response: too many capringhas Juey?