Reflection time. Before I go on my little hols and blog sabbatical, here's just a few thoughts on this journey so far...
If you like cats or dogs, South America is for you. I have never seen so many publicly accessible strays and pets (as long as you have had your jabs) Laura, if you decide to branch out into this part of the world then Lima would be such an easy choice.
Secondly, I will never respond to car horns the same way again. I have never built up so much pent up aggression to something as inanimate as a car horn. Drivers use them when someone else gets in their way, to alert passers by they are a free cab but also as a notice that somebody is breathing or moving - as a result, you hear them ALL THE TIME!!!
Thirdly, South America is a beautiful place, in my opinion, outside of major cities. Bolivia absolutely has my heart but genuinely, all of South America including BA and Lima offer so much more than just the western way. The landscape is incredible and people are full of smiles and as a bonus, are generally mini (the Molloy clan would be cast as giants, let alone the Cunninghams!!) There is much greater theft and deception here but also much more love - people are always looking to be your friend and treat you well and as long as you're remotely smart, you can spot anyone negative a mile off.
Fourthly, food - oh dear God, some stuff I have eaten has been incredible - paying the equivalent of ten pence for street food in Bolivia will sit with me for a while. Llama, alpaca, guinea pig, Ceviche, pomelo, sublime chocolate, alligator, Cayman, Kapai Kai, Altresas, Katincha, Palm heart... I could continue but it's all been sooo good and I haven't even mentioned Argentinian steak of Chilean wine, both of which change a man!
Fifth, activities - cocktail roulette and general drinking, driving in Lima (not together), paragliding, skydiving, abseiling, swimming with dolphins, piranha fishing, sand boarding, trekking the Inca trail, Machu Picchu, salsa in São Paulo, tango in Buenos Aires, table football, partying (a lot), watching Copa America, Biking down death road, PT sessions by a beautiful pool, working in an incredible elite centre, Pisco tasting... So so so much more but saying yes to things no matter what happens has made me really happy and that's not going to change.
Lastly and most importantly are people - I have met over 40 new people on this trip that I can class as friends and that is by no means everyone that I have met. 10 I would consider to be good friends and they certainly won't lose me anytime soon. I have so many stories that don't make the diaries and some that I will save just for me, so if you really want to be scarred, ask me in person and I MIGHT share a few. I have a whole new plethora of songs that have taken a whole new meaning because of the memories with you guys and "Take me to church" or "Vamos a la playa" or "the wiggle song" will forever ring in my head and make me smile. There is a huge difference between sharing an experience with someone and sharing it with someone special and I couldn't have asked for better people to meet on this trip. You guys have made this what it is and will continue to when Oz comes around and hopefully can sort some kind of Xmas rendezvous??!!! This doesn't even include Deybi, Daryl, Hernan, Antonio, Manuel, Rico, Clara, Philli, Jorge, Davide, Julio and Tommasi who have been incredible guides/friends, or people who have helped with my Spanish, my time out here and just giving me cheaper prices, great advice and amazing contacts for the future too.
On that note, it's holiday time. I will see some of you soon and cheers for the adventures so far!
19/6/15 - last few days of Lima
It's taken a few weeks on my own but my Spanish (listening certainly) is actually getting there. I can understand nearly everything but just can't come back with anything coherent consistently. Although I have loved this time here, it wasn't what I was after (cheers you woofing rabid shit) so a small holiday is already booked. I won't keep a blog for that and then afterwards my mind is heading towards prep for Oz! - the blog will start again there unless something becomes permanent... We will see.
Anyways today - went for a walk by some old ruins and then on to another beach for some training. Met a load of college kids and outside of looking mental, running with my backpack on, as it was the first day in a while with some sun I think quite a few were shocked that a person could be that white - according to manuel and Rico (2 guys working at the hostel) I could choose anyone. I told them Peruvian goes don't interest me and they said that they didn't like them either; as Rico's wife was in earshot, I had to laugh!!!!
Such a blessing Copa America is on whilst I am in Lima. Every day is a party and even with zero drink, Peruvians know how to party although finding a sober one with the football on would be a miracle. What am I going to do when I can't get a free Pisco sour when out though??!!!
Also, last little bit. I have now had 5 different people say to me, you know nothing Jon Snow - I think I may need a shave and/or haircut if tourists, including 2 English can see a resemblance. Actually, scratch that. I want your views - do I look more like an old hobo or more like I am defending the North (I do frequently have people say I know nothing...)
18/6/15 - the dawning reality of money...
Well step one of today was to get the running tests for the PETC sorted - can't say too much but it was awesome. After that I thought I would depress myself and look at my bank balance. After a few loud cries of "NO, NO, DEAR GOD NO!!" I composed myself and am now going to have to budget efficiently for the next eternity. Last night, after saying I would watch my money, between Fio, Hannah and Esme, somehow nearly 300soles vanished... Ok, I might know where it went.
Sat down for (a free) lunch after a tough morning and had to explain to a guy who has/had the upmost respect for me why I was laughing at an old woman putting on Nivea Cherry Shine - to hide the embarrassment, we quickly both spotted a woman grooming her fella. It was seriously weird, including picking crap from his ears and nose on a bench by the cafe. At least I now look comparatively normal having the same lip balm as a female pensioner. Anyways, budget time has well and truly kicked in because a beach trip and Copa America with the cheapest soft drink were the order of the day!!! Hopefully, supportive parents will be the order of the month when I am looking for work before heading off again to Australia!
17/6/15 - jabs and tour guide
Another day in Lima so having my usual Hangout spot of Miraflores and get chatting to Fiona and Hannah who are 2 English girls on a charity work holiday. It's weird being comparatively a local expert!!! The most fun girls and I am sure they will have an awesome time in Peru.
Jab hurt like hell today - no idea why but this guy Carlos, a nurse who worked in Southampton for 5years was amazing and lied out of his behind saying my Spanish was very clear so every cloud.
Additional bonuses, as flights are cheaper than expected out to Oz and work looks a real possibility. As soon as the work side of things and where I want to be based are a bit clearer, it will be booked. If I have learnt an important lesson from all this, it's to commit. I will never find out if the decisions I make will be good or bad unless I make them.
Lastly, I want to say thanks to Mum, Dad and Secca - without you guys I would not be loving this adventure and already investigating how to move onto my next one as quickly as possible (unless a lottery win on my behalf has happened, you will be seeing my mug again so I can get some dollar and recharge). Thanks for the support and allowing me to find what's important to me, as well as meet unbelievable people (so so many of them) and have unforgettable experiences (I won't be posting them all here!)
Met up with Fiona and Hannah for evening drinks and had an awesome time. Introduced them to the cocktail game, so the legacy is being passed on and got us 6 free Pisco sours. They're lovely girls and it's a shame they weren't around before because they would have got on really well with Henrique and Sascha. Hannah is a hugely bad influence and has topped up my drink more times than I care to remember - good night though and had the best time getting to know then, hopefully with one more night too. More than a little drunk and with amazing people - good fun but still end up missing my g adventure buddies a bit - Shri, Mads, Kelly, Henry, Louise, Cat, Gina, Emily, Gretha, Victoria, Maddie, Simone, Dino, Emma, Theresa, Andy, David, Rachele, Anne, Susannah, Ayesha and anyone else I have missed (am a little tipsy) I miss you all!!
16/6/15 - relax and go caving.
Really nice to have a chilled day with a bit of beach time even if it's only 21 and cloudy (it's cloudy for most of every single day). Greatest moment in the morning where I took a picture for some locals on the beach and they asked where from Peru I was from - I am a local!!!!! Improving on the simple small talk and basic info conversing it seems. Oh little side note, I saw a seagull with the Colombian flag on its beak and also a Peruvian beach gym in the simplest form possible.
The afternoon was checking out this caving site and getting stuck in before being told I picked the most dangerous route. Stopped caring about pictures since the group left - when you're on your own or just having brief interactions it's so much better getting involved and just saving it to memory and this diary business; that's a tip for anyone who travels solo. Your photos will mean so much more if you focus on the experience and not the pictures! Anyways, saying goodbye to Sascha and Henrique today so I will leave it here as we all equally hate goodbyes!!
Starting the morning off was so weird because I was surrounded by a G adventures group - it's difficult not to try and pass on pearls of wisdom so I just told one or two bits. Held back with the top 5 (yes Shri I did say top 5) but enjoyed sharing a few bits from this adventure so far.
Quick tip, if you don't like bread or rice, you will struggle here as it is pretty much every single meal.
Anyways, an amazing walk through some beautiful areas and feeling a little better has made me appreciate more of Lima. I can't wait to be back at 100% but I will settle for this right now. One thing is for sure, if you don't earn serious dollars, you can't live in Miraflores or Magdelena del Mar!!! Bumped into some tourists who thought I was Scandinavian so I don't know how to take that other than I literally have no tan and Mads or Shri, before you ask, I didn't start the conversation with "jeg dypper mein pik..." (I appreciate spelling is probably shocking). It was nice that compared to them, my Spanish was amazing, as I ordered them a taxi and bartered on price (go me)
Centre take 2 - excited about this whole process is an understatement. This time round Davide and I got chatting a lot and he rinsed me for information - it's a real compliment and when I am the one dishing out advice, it says a lot. Over 3 hours and got to find out about his kid too. Despite being given complete access, I left the pics alone. I have been told I have a roof over my head whenever I want it and that I can come and see his Nissan skyline. Making friends in the right places!
To top it all off, the surprise me recommendations for eating and drinking out has hit new heights. The best wrap I have ever had in my life tonight - spicy chicken with coriander, garlic, spring onion, onion, tomato, sweet pepper, Chinese gem, spinach and wrapped in some naanesque wrap. I may be getting a tad excited but it caps a bloody amazing day!!! Feeling pretty damn amazing for an ill person!
14/6/15 sense of normality
After yesterday's crazy day, today is about digesting and keeping in food after having day 3 of jabs. Priorities have slightly changed but there is another visit to the elite centre on Monday afternoon and as they may be testing my VO2 Max, I would rather not shit as I pass out on the treadmill!!! (Sorry for the bluntness family).
Shopping - once again I have blindly ignored how scarily low my funds are and gone for a purchase. Something fitting though as Peru play today so I thought a native shirt while I watch the match is only fair enough. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible though and the next time they play in Copa America, I will be out again - it is one huge party on the streets!!! Amazing bumping into sash and Henrique again even if Sascha was keeling over like me! This party was a very cheap one, as once I have paid for my next flight, outside of emergency cash, I am officially down to zero!!! Rabies aside, it's worth every penny
13/6/15; life changing day -
After a morning chat with 2 kiwis, Bruno and John and then getting the jab for day 3 (I am scarily short of cash now to the point where returning may not be just an option but essential, especially as Guatemala won't take me while I am receiving treatment), I have just had the most surreal experience of my life...
Centre - filled with German equipment, the centre is unreal but they have no idea of how to get anything from the machines. I can't believe they still send off the info and get it back 3 days later - I advised them to get back to basics and learn how to analyse simple readings from their athletes. No cameras (rubbish I know) as of Davide's house for security reasons, which was huge. However, I can officially add free lance consultant for the Peruvian elite centre to my CV and have been invited back again next week. They also let me check out the track and stadium - the track was shocking and I walk past it most days but the official stadium is incredible - beautiful and I will take pics when I head back next week - they've said I can now the trust is there!
Carried on the afternoon with my new fun activity - random Pinkberry; I let the server choose and hope for the best! It's worked well the last 3 times so I reckon that's my pattern for the future - waiter/waitress recommendations!!!
Evening - Ayahuasca bar was ultra cool and having a social night Jorge and Davide was crazy good. It's nice to head out with your doctor knowing he has to look after you. Really good fun listening to Jorge's stories about being a doctor in America and the Andean mountains as part of his training. Still suffering from the meds so I was well behaved on the drink front although 6 different Pisco sours was the business! Missing my buddies and just looking forward to our next catch up, wherever it is.
It's official, I shouldn't have coffee from this place in the morning as it is shocking! 2 hrs kip after a brilliant night out (cheers Sascha, Jules, Henrique, Anna and Esme) and hopefully I will be seeing Sash and Henrique next week - possibly the weirdest couple I know! I have never seen anyone walk around with a shot in their ear before!!! Anyways, today has definitely been recovery - picking up essentials from the market, a trip to the beach and then a CHEAP meal as money is being destroyed by healthcare!
This rabies treatment is tough though; feel shocking any time something goes in. Spoke to a local doctor, Ignacio who I met through Tomas, one of the hostel owners. He thinks if it continues I can expect to lose between 8-10kg but can't do much unless I stop my anti-malaria meds. I may come back in the UK a skinny beardy man! I will need lots of food wherever I go to all concerned!
11/6/15 - truly exploring more of Lima
The walk - decided to get out and truly see what Peru has to offer. Checked out some backstreet markets and met some locals; some were great and asked about my travels and recommended a bar (so that's evening plans sorted) and some wanted my bag (I still have my bag because in S.America I am a comparative giant!)
Headed towards the water park and it just shows how traffic is because I have covered 12km in 1hr 45 and that same journey took 40mins in the cab 2weeks ago. No doubt I will come and check it in the evening some time because it is meant to be spectacular!
Returned back through Mira Flores - works out I have covered 20km for a Pinkberry (Lou, you better be proud of that) - my God it never tasted soooo good. Don't feel so bad as I had an awesome llama burger from a street food seller to keep it authentic!
I will keep this bit brief while I am sober. Going on a bar crawl with the guys from earlier in Miraflores- fun times ahead...