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Lookout........Aussies on the loose!!!

Welcome to Cam & Suz's great BIG adventure. So much to see all in one lifetime.
Mexico... Guatemala... Honduras... Nicaragua... Costa Rica... Venezuela... Colombia... Ecuador... Peru... Bolivia... Chile... Argentina... Brazil... Paraguay... Uruguay... Morocco... UK... Czech... Poland
Hasta Luego Amigos
camoyoung@hotmail.com

Diary Entries

Monday, 31 October 2005

Location: Poland

Leaving Morocco we began to get quite excited as we were visiting some travelling friends we'd met along the way. First stop... Prague. We'd heard so many good things about it, and quite happy to say it lived up to its reputation. The beautiful cobbled streets and historic buildings were great to wander around BUT best of all fur us were our great Czech hosts, Tom and Eva. We had such a wonderful time (thanks to you guys) and we learned so much. We had a great night out dancing and probably too many beers? We also had a day in Cesky Krumlov in the south of Czech. From Czech we caught the train to Krakow, Poland. Spent Sue's birthday looking around the city.
We visited Auswich, the Nazi concentration camp where 1.5 million people were exterminated. It was a very surreal atmosphere and a chilling reminder of how cruel war is.
On to Wroclaw next to meet our wonderful Polish friends, Jack and Margot and their 2 gorgeous kids. We were absolutelyl treated to a 4 star hotel (felt like 6 star after what we have been used to) which was the perfect way to finish our trip. We had an absolutely fantastic week spent with our friends. We really loved our time in Poland soley because of the amazing generosity of them. A holiday doesn't get any better than to be able to spend it with good friends and crazy kids!
So thats it! Our journey's over but the memories will last forever. Those of you that actually read this, we hope you've enjoyed it and maybe even inspired you to visit some of these great countries. You'll love it!
Lastly a few stats we found amusing....

Time away: 41 weeks and 5 days
Countries visited: 18
Flights: 18
Time spent on buses: 716 hours
Overnight bus trips: 26
Nights spent in tent: 30 nights
Rain: 9 days
Favourite Countries: 1. Brazil 2. Colombia 3. Peru/Mexico
Highlight: Hike and camp in the crater of volcano in Guatemala overlooking active volcano
Favourite Hike: Canyon del Colca – Peru
Best beach: Lopez Mendes, Ihla Grande – Brazil
Best food: Arepas in Colombia, Tacos in Mexico, Fruit smoothies in Colombia, Steaks in Argentina
Worst scam: Calculator trick by money changer on Ecuador / Peru border

Looking forward to staying in touch
C&S

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Location: Morocco

As we set foot on the Moroccon city of Casablanca, something that became immediately obvious (esp to Sue) was the coffee shops. We passed about a dozen or so and there was not a female to be seen... only men sitting with their seats facing the sidewalk as if they were watching a movie. This was to become a theme in Morocco as in the 2 weeks here we have had little contact with the women. Morocco is vastly different to the countries we've visited so far. The Muslim religion infiltrates every aspect of daily life and the prayer calls sung from the mosque minarets across the cities 5 times a day are impossible to ignore. The silence in the streets following these calls while they pray is a world away from the buzz just minutes before.
We visited the more traditional city of Fes and laid back town of Meknes exploring the alleys of their old town 'medinas' and declined many invitaions to visit the carpet shops. An overnight bus ride down south took us to the Sahara. That was simple enough, although making our last 10km proved to be a major challenge with many 'helpers' telling us various stories depending on their motive... to drink tea in their restaurant, to get commission from a hotel, or a cab driver who insists there is no other alternative. Once in the sand dunes of the Sahara we could relax (just a little) watching the beautiful sunset and sunrise across the red sand to the Algerian border. We teamed up with our new spanish and czech friends to attempt the onward journey - surely 4 was better than 2! Limited transport due to Ramadan left us waiting for about 4 hours but again... eventually... we were on our way and met anotyher 2 travellers to strengthen our bargaining power. With 6 people, the ideal number for a 'grand taxi' we negotiated our price - still probably 3x the amount locals pay but at least we were moving! We saw a beautiful gorge and the Kasbahs of the south which are structures built with red clay from the river banks, some dating back to the 11th Century. We saw where Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and the new blockbuster The Sheltering Sky were filmed.
Unfortunately for us our acquired espanol is of no use in Morocco as only French and Arabic are spoken, hence getting a fair price on anything is impossible! Our advice for anyone coming to Morocco is to sharpen your senses as most Moroccon men will eat you for breakfast! Its definitely a country where tourists are seen only for how much they can extract from you and the seemingly innocent 'Where are you from' we learnt is a calculation on their part on how much money you have to spend and how stupid you are. A very interesting place that for sure but not one for shrinking violets.
With our last couple of weeks nigh we are looking forward to catching up with friends and family.

Saturday, 24 September 2005

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Imagine a city that has the same population as Australia.... Sao Paulo with 20 million people is the 3rd largest city in the world. We only stopped long enough to freshen up and avoid yet another valiant attempt by someone trying to scam us (another story...) While there we stumbled across a big posse of black Africans belowing out rap tunes. We cautiously wandered in closer to the circle of swaying bodies and found ourselves caught up in the incredible atmosphere. The attitude was high and the base deep and no one paid much attention to the only two white Aussies moving to the beats. Very cool! It reminded us of a gangster movie from Harlem.
A trip inland to the Pantanal, the low lying Amazon, was our next stop in which we had to temporarily ignore our distaste of organised tours. 4 days 'deep' in the Pantanal with its abundance of wildlife and camping in the wild. We rode in the back of the farmers truck for 3 long and very dusty hours to arrive at our camp. We swam and touched aligators, caught an anaconda and fished for piranhas. Cam even bravely 'got back on the horse' after his crazy horse experience in Colombia.
We moved onto the Iguazu Falls which are on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Wow, these are amazing. The power and stupendous roar of the falls are truly awesome. We´ll let the photos tell the rest...
Sadly we said goodbye to Brazil, the fruits, the music and the incredibly hospitable people and (thankfully) entered the spanish speaking countries again in Uruguay. We stayed with a friend in a lazy beach town for a few days and enjoyed some German and Chilean hospitality.
As we approach our last few days in South America, we´ve been eating ourselves silly on the steaks and other great food in Beunos Aires. This city of 13 million is a very cosmopolitan city with leafy parks and European architecture. The crash of their peso from 1:1 with the USD to now being 3:1, it is a backpackers dream with high quality at bargain prices. We have had fantastic hosts here. our friends Geronimo and Mykaela have put up with our bad spanish. Thanks so much for your generosity, its been "berry berry" good!! We can´t wait for the futbol match tomorrow where we will be in the crowd with the man himself - Maradona.
We bid Adios to South America on Tuesday bound for the crazy snake charmers of Morocco.

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Location: The beaches, Brazil

After leaving the hip city of Salvador we were under the impression that the beaches and weather would deteriorate as we headed further south.... oh how wrong we were!! First stop was the party island of Morro do Sao Paulo. It is an island just south of Salvador where they party every night on the beach and soak up the ¨winter¨(+30 degrees) sun all day. On our first day we were lucky enough to befriend some very cool Brazilians that really made our stay there great (thanks guys!) After a few days of fitness on the beach, eating loads of fruit and getting a good dose of sun we now feel completely recharged and energised. The Brazilian lifestyle isnt too dissimilar to Australias as so much revolves around the beach. As Brazil has a high unemployment rate it sometimes feels as though everyone is at the beach all the time. There is always multiple games of soccer and futvolley (another version of volleyball but way harder) that you can join into if you want but be warned - Brazilians take their soccer seriously. Its a great lifestyle but probably not too good for productivity.
After saying goodbye to our friends and another good couple of overnight bus rides and other quaint villages on the coast we arrived in Rio de Janeiro and headed straight for Copacobana. Copacobana is a massive beach (about 4 1/2 km long) that gets jammed on weekends with thousands of people. But at the risk of sounding patriotic, neither Copacobana or Ipanema are as good as Bondi. Certainly a great vibe but the water and waves just werent up to scratch. Anyway, we ¨did¨all the touristy things in Rio that had to be done (except one, Maracana stadium which is under construction... major bummer) and enjoyed them all.
Further south we landed at Ilha Grande. Our itinery suggested 3 days, but after our first day on the beach, Lopez Mendes (described as being the most beautiful in Brazil, which we totally agree) we knew we would stay longer. The beach was picture postcard perfect. Total bliss! Water was crystal clear and warm with awesome surf. The sand felt like snow as you walked on it and to top it off the island was a rainforest teeming with wildlife including monkeys that would eat out of your hand.
Another week, another beach and we are now in the historic town of Paraty..... Lifes good.... very good!

Friday, 05 August 2005

Location: Brazil

From our salt flats tour we arrived in San Perdro de Atacama, Chile. The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world and is where NASA do their testing, and surprisingly has a very interesting landscape and is incredibly beautiful on sunset. We had mistakenly thought our spanish had improved over the 6 months of travelling.... Chile, however was a whole new ball game. We found ourselves saying the words ¨no comprendo¨(I dont understand) much more again. We skipped much of northern Chile and headed straight to Santiago. A very boring 4 days was spent there waiting for our Brazilian visas. Santiaga is much more developed, as is the whole of Chile, and for us didnt have a whole lot to offer - not a lot of character or identity. So we were pleased to leave to head south to Bariloche in Argentina for skiing steaks and chocolate. Bariloche is in the Lakes District which has over 300 lakes and is very beautiful. The ski fields of Catedral is picturesque. We absolutely loved the famous Argentinian beef and the chocolate of Bariloche. The chocolate shops are as big as supermarkets and line the streets. Cam is looking forward to returning to Argentina (not just because of the women) without bronchitis and with his apetite back. We had a relaxing time there and a small celebration for Cams 30th and then were very excited about hitting the sun, surf and fiestas of Brazil.
After about 40 hours of travelling we arrived in Salvador on the Brazilian coast. Its so nice to be wearing flip flops and singlet tops again after the cold weather of the mountains. This place is everything you imagine Brazil to be...dancing and music here are as integral as eating and sleeping and the country has as many musical styles as there are shades of people. Brazilians are open and friendly with lots of attitude, energy and passion.
Every Tuesday night there is a huge street party which rivals Sydneys NYE (in energy not people). We danced along the streets behind a drumming band along with thousands of others like the pied piper. And the Afro-americans.... with their amazing bodies and ¨kahlua man¨dance moves, were mesmerizing to watch.
We are already adjusting our itinery to give us more time here as its such a cool country.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Location: Bolivia

As nice a place as Cuzco is we were keen to move on after our 4th visit, but unfortunately Bolivia and Southern Peru were having one hell of a road block. Rather than wait we decided to take the long way around (via Chile) and we mean long! 48 hours later we finally arrived in La Paz, the world's highest capital city.
Bolivia really is a crazy country. Everybody seems to be on the street selling something. Picture a massive home depot or Mitre 10 store on every street but not in a store... on the sidewalk. Anyway, it's great fun wandering around and being part of it.
After a few days in La Paz we caught a dump truck with about 50 locals up into the Andes (absolutely freezing) and hiked for a few days along an old Inca trail that finished in tropical jungle. A great hike and probably our last for a while.
Making our way south we visited Potosi and the infamous mines. Men and boys (and 1 woman) work in these mines that wouldn't be one meter in height (over a km underground). Each miner keeps his own effort. Never have we seen more atrocious working conditions in our lives. Boys usually start in the mines at age 12-14 years. Miners have an average life expectancy of 35 years, with their last 5 years being extremely ill. The toxins and the heat (sometimes over 40 degrees) are unbelievable. Boys earn about $9 per day if they are lucky and after many years can work up to about $20 per day working 7 days a week and 14 hours a day. They all chew coca leaves as it allows them to work without breaks or food. Why the Bolivian Government allows these working conditions to continue is a disgrace. The tour really did have a lasting effect on all travellers.
We continued south and made our way to the largest salt flats in the world. Our first day went without hiccup. Although it was deathly cold (over -10 at night), we were ok with 9 in the Toyota Landcruiser. Our driver, come guide, come mechanic(???) got us up very early on the 2nd morning as we had a long days driving. But not 5 minutes into the journey he took a "short cut" and got us bogged. When asked why he hadn't engaged the 4wd he told us it was broken, then he started to bang on the winch with a hammer... again he said it was broken! Absolutely freezing, we carried rocks from afar to wedge under the wheels.... and 2 hours later with the help of some other travellers we were on our way.
The salt flats are an amazing, blindingly white with colours on the surrounding peaks very beautiful. Not a trip for princesses though... very basic accomodation and very cold.
Finally we made it to Chile with mixed feelings, sad that we have left the real chaos of the less developed, poorer northern countries of South America but its nice to now be in countries where the buses are clean and leave on time, hostels are real hostels and things are a little bit more organised. No more dinners for $1USD (unfortunately) but at least we now know what we are eating. We are in Santiago now waiting for our Brazilian visas before heading to Argentina for an extravagent week of skiing... and big juicy steaks!

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Location: Cuzco, Peru

After bidding farewell to Karen it was back on the overnight bus to Arequipa again (sorry to say Karen, this bus only took 14 hours). Arequipa is one of our favourite cities in Peru, a very nice "tranquilo" feel to it. Our agenda for our last couple of weeks in Peru was two more decent hikes. We set off for the Canyon del Colca, the 2nd deepest canyon in the world and it certainly felt like it due to the large gains and losses in altitude and the dusty and rocky terrain. After the steep decent into the valley floor (which saw a couple of tears!) we then had the very long 3700m ascent to the pass of 5100m. Along the way we went through incredibly remote villages. We enjoyed the hospitality of the locals cooking us dinner and slept in a very dusty room which was also the meat (and probably everything else) storage room. On day 6 as we hobbled into the final village some locals invited us in as they prepared for a "fiesta" which was in a couple of days time. The fiesta seemed to have already begun as they merrily stirred the traditional alcoholic "chicha" drink in big drums over a fire... which of course we were obliged to try.... not exactly what we were craving after 6 days of hiking! As our bus left the village and precariously climbed the narrow switchbacks of the mountain our eyes were glued to the window. We pondered life (and how quickly it could end!) but just how rare our experience had been and how lucky we are.
After such remoteness, we hit the internet and were happily typing away when the room shook like we were in a subway - just one issue, Arequipa has no subway. We realised that we were in our first earthquake...5.6 on the richterscale. The epicentre was about 300km away on the border of Peru and Chile which was a staggering 8.9 on richterscale!
After gorging ourselves on pancakes, giving our feet a rest and a much enjoyed chat to our folks, we were ready for the last Peruvian trek - Ausangate Circuit, a 5 day hike around Mt Ausangate. The hike was all above 4700m with 2 passes over 5000m which made it very scenic but also very very very very cold!! Sue is feeling very proud to have survived a night in the tent at about -15 degrees with ice on the INSIDE of the tent!
We leave Peru in a couple of days bound for Bolivia. We have loved this country - especially the hiking.... and of course Jacks cafe (a slice of heaven in Cuzco!)


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Recent Messages

From Jason
Sue and Cam,

Again, I'm looking at your great photos and reading your stories and again, I'm extremely jealous!!

Jas
Response: Mate,
we cant believe its over. But have some excellent memories though. Sues has anew mobile too 041 555 4030.
hope your well.
C
From Pedro
Hi Cameron and Sue,

I have enjoyed very much with your adventures written in this blog. Now, I know where to go, and where not to go when I travel into South America.

In that moment I'm not very far from Sydney you know? I'm working in New Caledoni until 15 December. I wanted to go to Sydney but don't have the time :( Maybe next time :)

Un abrazo muy fuerte,
Pedro
Response: We are very glad you enjoyed it. We had fun doing it. Its a real pity that you cant make it to Sydney. Its a great time of the year to visit. Keep in touch
From Scott Coventry
Cam,

just read your page for the first time in a while. Awwwwesome.

Scott
Response: Gday mate,
Hows it going? BP treating you well? Our last day today!! Will be in touch for a beer.
From Cam Y
Suz, Thanks so much for being an amazing travelling buddy for the last 10 months. Youve handled the rough conditions like a champion and more importantly youve managed to put up with me for 24/7!!! It really has been great.
xxx
Response: I couldn't have asked for a better travel partner! Looking forward to the next chapter. xxx
From Anja
Suz,
Have in my diary that it was your birthday last week (18th?) - did I get the date right ( looks like there's a belated brithday in there for Cam too!)? Looks like you kids have been having an INCREDIBLE time I'm soooo jealous. Hope you're both well and looking forward to catching up when you make it back here.

x
PS Budgie smugglers?

Response: Thanks AP.. yes you got it right, celebrated it Polish style. Well we're now in the final days... can't believe it!
xx
From braze
hey guys. the pics are amazing as usual, im sure it was quite a culture shock arriving in morocco from south america. look forward to seeing you both, cant believe your time is almost up.see u soon
love braze
Response: Hola Braze... yep, the time is almost up, we cant believe it either. Can't wait to catch up in a few weeks! xx
From Lauren Brown
Hi Cam and Sue,
Thought Id check out your webpage. It is amazing. I love your Morocco photos, they are beautiful. We ended up going to Merzouga on a 3day tour from Marakech and went camel riding. It was fantastic, great not to have all the hassel that you guys and others we spoke to had on arrival in that part of the world. Hope the rest of your trip is still going well. we are off to Asia tomorrow, so pretty excited.
Enjoy yourselves, From Lauren and Nadia
Response: Hola,
Zeh, Merzouga was good. Just about to go to Poland. Home in a 2 weeks. Prague was so beautiful. Enjoy Asia.
From Booza
Hi Cam & Sue,
Certainly looks like you are having the time of your lives, makes me think I should do the same thing next year! Cam, you and I could hot seat here on lvl 34. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures on continent number 2 :)
Cheers
Booza
Response: Mate,
good to hear that your still plugging away on lvl34!
Holiday has been great, but coming to an end in less than a month! will be in touch when we get back.....
From Fábio(from Copinha H
Everytime I check your "logbook", I´m certain that I will find an interesting piece of history!
Have fun in your world trip mates...Cheers!!!
Response: Hola Fabio!! Hows Copacobana. We think of you often and really hope your plans are coming together for Spain. You deserve it.
From Jeff Lock
Woody,

Found you on the School friends thing that I expected would amount to much.

Looks as if you and Cam are having the time of your lives.

We are in Brisbane and I married Sarah back in 02. We now have a gorgeous biy Isaac who is 8 months this week.

I'd love to sedn you some shots of them.

Cam's lookking well also however I'd agree with one of the comments from somebody else that the budgie smugglers seem to be getting plenty of airtime.

Safe travels

Locky
Response: WOW, Jeff what a surprise!!! Would love to see some photos and hear what else you´ve been up to. Cam´s sitting next to me now in hysterics.
From Natalie
Fantastic photo's, haven't been on for a while. Glad to hear your relaxed and rejuvinated. Working on Livvy saying your names but no luck yet!! She still has some time to go though. Emily says she wants to come and play at your place!! Lots of love
Response: Brazil certainly has rejuvinated us and now ready to hit the trails again. Cant wait to see the girls and Emily can sleep in the tent anytime! xox
From chris
great photos..seems to be a dream place
Response: not sure of which chris this is but yes, itd be hard not to love it.
From marty
maaaate...that photo of you in budgie smugglers...what were you thinking? hahahahaha
Response: i bet your jealous of the bulge in them! couldnt see the sock could you.
From Bryce & Fay
Hi, We are all fine. You are sure going places. Enjoy it you are only young once. Bye till next time. Love Bryce & Fay.
Response: Hola! Its a nice surprise to hear from you. All going well here in Brazil... really enjoying the relaxing lifestyle on a beautiful Island at the moment. Love to Jason and Tracey too xx
From Marcio
Hi guys, I'm Marcio from São Paulo, a friend of Oseias from Salvador...He called me up, telling that you guys are coming to São Paulo, Brazil, so whenever you guys come down to Sampa( São Paulo), give a call and I will take you to some nice parties......
Hope from hearing from you
Response: Thanks Marcio, we are looking forward to meeting you in a week.
From Weasel
Hi u 2, Just read your diary and seen the pics. What an experience. Awesome. Have sent to Cam's email address 3 emails but no response?? All well here. Great sport. Work okay. Weather awesome.Both fit and well. Look after each other. Cheers, Weasel
Response: WWEEEAAASSSEEEELLLLL!!
Havent recieved any emails from you. was wandering when the hell I was going to hear from you.......might want to check the address you MUPPET. Very disappointed to see that your email hasnt changed too!!!!! write again. glad your well and punting like a freak i bet. :) I think you had a typo its FAT not FIT!)
From Jas
Hi Sue and Cam,
Just been looking at your awesome photos...how jealous am I now!!
Looks like more snow there than here this year...was the skiing great??
Response: hey Jas, great to here from you. actually the slopes were hard work, pretty icey but fun, with incredible views. hope all is well xx
From lucy
Hola kids

Remember me? Its been a long time since Columbia but it sounds like you buggers are still having a ball.

I'm in Thailand now after spending a couple of months working in Buenos Aires and the dawning realisation that i really don't have any money left. On my way back to London to get back to some real work. Any enterprising ideas Cameron?xxxx
Response: Hola Lucy Loo. yeh time has really flown. we still rate colombia as one of the best. yeh that $$ thing?? have got a couple of sneaky ideas.....i know of a good export/import business you could try :)
good luck settling back into real life again. if in Aust give us a shout. xx
From Niks
Hi you two! Can't believe you've made it as far as Brazil - seems like only yesterday you were still back in Central America. Don't forget to get in touch with my friend Gav while you're there - can't quite remember what part of Brazil his resort is but it's definitely on the coast. Big kisses and lots of love xxxx
Response: Hola Niks... we comment all the time on how quickly the time goes. Brazil is fantastic, you would love it! Dont seem to have your friends details, would you mind sending again? Take care xx
From Greg
Cam & Suz,

Sound's like your having an amazing time, the pictures are fantastic. Hard to believe you had a 'quiet one' for your 30th mate….. I'm sure you'll make up for it on your return.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Greg
Response: FAGBOY how are you mate? nice to hear from you. yeh, very quiet one unfortunately. must be maturing? Youd love the shopping in Brazil mate...very good (if we had some $$ to buy some that is) cheers
From Anna King (reception
Hi Cam and Sue,
I am so envious and happy for you guys. What a great adventure and memories no one can ever take away from you.
Love the photos, they're terrific. You should make a documentary.
bye for now, Anna
Response: hi there Anna, wow, its so nice to hear from you. docomentary would be very interesting. Hope your enjoying BP. say hi to everyone pls, Cam
From Jack & Margot
Happy Birthday Cam from all four of us !!! Can't wait to have a good pint with you guys :-)

PS. Matek is looking forward to dance with you !
Response: Thanks Guys. We are really looking forward to meeting the little fellas too. not that long now either.
From mel b
still checking you guys out..still very jealous...party hard for me please x x x x
Response: Mello, they party hard here but we are doing our best . love to mals and boys xx
From t boom
Just had a great week sunning ourselves in crete.. good to get out of the office. give us some skiing pics from argentinia. hope you are both well, just keep chewin cocoa leaves
Response: Mr T, Read on AAP that an Aussie guy was caught wearing budgy smugglers on the beach. Sounds awefully like you mate?? Skiing pics on now. No more cocoa leaves in Brazil.
From Stewy
Hi guys, Happy belated bday youngie! All very inspiring stuff. The pics are amazing! Take care, Stewy
Response: thanks mate. bday was a very quiet affair.....do easy on those young chicks! :)