Location: LA.. worst place in the world, USA
Killing time in LA
Can't believe it, it's all over... have had ball and didn't want to leave. Is still so much more to see. The last week was brilliant though... Theres not much going on in Huacahina, but ran into few people there i'd met in Boliva and properly chilled out for 3 days...could still be there. Finally dragged my arse into town though on Monday to get to Lima and have a night out before my flight.
Once again, got a bus that leaves all the time and that picks up every random along the way until you can't even see the isle... theres really good buses in Peru and could have booked one and paid more but that would have just been too hard.. Scenery was cool.. proper desert... just sand mountains are far as you could see out one window.. but the coastline was on the other side... crazy..
Ran into more ppl i knew at the hostel in Lima so turned out really good....had to have one last big one. Lima is massive, wandered round Miraflores, where i was staying and felt like i could have been in any capital city... people and traffic everywhere.. same as rio..
Anyways, am in LA atm... what a nightmare. Hating airports, airlines and everyone in them.. who doesn't though... All started in Lima on the way to the airport. Made sure i got a proper cab, heard too many stories about Lima to go cheap on my last night. Anyways, like everywhere, the roads are out of control.. everyone drives like lunatics, including my cabbie who rear ended another cab on the way... They looked like they'd be arguing all night so i bailed and jumped in another.. one of the ones with just a florescent taxi sticker on the side that you can buy off kids at the traffic lights to earn a few extra $$. Perfect. So much for be careful with my stuff on my last night.
Made it there in one piece only to start arguing with Aeromexico. They wanted US$200 for changing my flight. Had my email from flight centre telling me to pay my $35 penalty at the airport. Told them i didn't have 200 or a credit card.. bla bla. nearly even busted out few tears.. which were close to real.,, had just paid $1000 for flight from LA to Aus.. they would not budge.. no loss to them if i didn't get on the flight. Finally got them at 100.. still absolute bullshit but could hardly just not get on the flight. forgot about departure tax though and had to pull out that credit card i said i didn't have to pay it.. whoops.. they weren't impressed..... and obviously had it in for me... was put in a seat in the back row.. seat not only doesn't recline but feels like you're almost sitting foward... Then get to mexico, find out my american airlines flight's been cancelled. This is after legging it through the airport with all my shit cause some dude in the immigration line tells me its 10.15 - 45mins til my flight.. find out later is was only 7.15.. and here i was asking immigration if i could skip the line cause i had a flight at 11.. and still had to get my bags and check in.. no wonder she gave me a wierd look and told me id be fine. I was telling her i doubted id be fine. my bad...
Finally get on a flight after alot of stuffing around.. sit down and first thing i see.. "this is an emergency exit and due to regulations your seat does not recline." of coures it doesn't...
And to top it all off, i am that last person standing at the carosel in LA waiting for my other bag... and no more bags are coming. This after standing in immigration for an hour listening to some americans about 3 lines away rant about america and how great it is. Lucky you can't carry anything sharp in your carry-on or i would have slit my wrists..
Enough said. Had to spend the night in this hole and can't wait til tonight to get out of here.. with my bags preferably... Missing south america already.
Location: Huacachina, Peru
Made it back from the Canyon yesterday... went all the way down, crossed the river and zig zagged our way back up... what was i thinking.. going down was a bit of an issue on the knees, but going up was a whole other issue.. am way too unfit to be climbing canyons... not so stoked to let countless ppl pass me on the way up on donkeys.. when was the option mentioned??
Having said that, was well worth it... awesome scenery... and plenty of condors cruising around. As always, met some great ppl.. although i was close to pushing an old german guy who would not shut his loud mouth up for the entire 3 days, over the edge...kidding... sort of. Inspired me to walk alot quicker for some peace and quiet.
Had a bit of an issue the first night that immodium did wonders for the next day... By the time we got in after dark on the second night was so wreaked that i missed dinner and woke up in the morning with my bag still on my bed, and the clothes id been walking in the last two days still on... really nice.. been waiting on a proper shower since well before the vol program and still waiting... heard Brissy´s on level 5 restrictions so so much for a long hot shower when i get home...
Anyways, time is running out so jumped on a bus to an oasis called Huacachina last night. Counting the beans atm so booked a cheap bus.. managed to be the only gringo and the only one getting off on my stop... only just woke up in time to get off... don´t think anyone was planning on waking me.
Not sure about the oasis part but this place is pretty random... is pretty much a lagoon completely surrounded by massive sand dunes.. and is so hot.. way more to my liking than the cold...
so am going to kick back for a few days...
be back in Aus soon
Location: Arequipa, Peru
On the move again... left cusco a bit early but you get that... wasn´t really anything going on at the school this week so i did couple of classes monday, cut my losses and jumped on a bus down to arequipa that night. That plus my bank account is in serious trouble.
Had 30 grade 3´s for PE on monday - what a mess. they were out of control. Was gonna try cricket but changed to ball games after the first minute. Even that was a mission. Trying to demonstrate tunnel ball on my own in a different language. Tad harder than planned. They were running riot by the end and I wanted to bolt off to the bar for a few. Grade 5-6 is definately more to my style.
The organisation ran a working bee last week to get some sort of water supply to the school. Couldn´t believe it only took one day to dig out a 300m or so long trench at least a meter deep, lay the pipe and fill it on. Done. Most of the village pitched in. I didn´t take to the old pick and shovel too well. Blaming the altitude... as you do. Was hurting the next day. Plus, you could hardly call the beat up old metal thing i had a shovel....
Introducing the younger kids to teeth brushing... another interesting morning. Don´t think most of htem have even seen a tooth brush before let alone used one. All in good time...
Anyways, sad to have left so soon, but is great to be somewhere new. Off tomorrow on a 3 day trek of the canyon round here. They call it the deepest in the world. Not sure how solid a claim that is... can´t wait though. Not sure why i´m up for punishing myself after the inca trail but im only here once. Hopefully the ppl im with aren´t too keen.
can´t believe im near the end. Have one last stop after here for a bit of dune buggying before Lima and that´s it. Time has gone way too quick..
Location: Cusco, Peru
Still in Cusco... had my fair share of cold weather and the flu for a while.... Ended up teeing up some vol work with Peru´s Challenge... similar project to the one I did in Tanzania. one major difference - we aren´t in the middle of nowhere and we have a house to live in. Nice. Beats that big tent and bucket of water for a shower. Kids are the same though... they have nothing and run around and laugh like they´ve got everything in the world... Pretty amazing.
Project has been running for a few years now... buidling a school in a small village 20 mins or so out of the centre. The school is operational atm and the vols combine teaching with construction work. Think a few more classrooms and a tiolet block are planned.
We finished the Inca Trail last week or so.. losing track of time. These endless weekends... it`s hard work. Had a ball.. dont´know how i ever made it up Kilimanjaro though, was flat out getting over the pass on day 2 here. Didn´t help the few ppl i was with were on a mission to get up there in 2 1-2 hours... by the last stretch i was stopping every 10 steps or so... let them keep legging it.. easy does it.
Rained pretty much every day bar the last so can´t complain.. except that my sleeping bag got satched so that wasn´t cool. Machu Picchu is amazing though.. another millino photos.. hasn´t pushed Iquasu off the top spot though.. still can´t believe that place.
Porters were units... well, they were tiny but were capable of anything.. running around in sandles with no grip and all sorts of shit of their backs. Amazing ppl. Day 3 was pretty much down the whole way.. cain yours knees.. with few hours to go, picked a porter and followed him down.. he was going pretty quick but it doesn´t hurt as much as going slow and if i fell, he was coming with me.
Anyways.. it´s stopped raining so gonna run back up to the house. It´s good to be out here away from the centre.. cusco´s a party town.. every night´s a massive one if you want it to be.. quickly running out of $$..
Em left last monday.. sad to see her go.. feel really wierd on my own. Plan is to stay here until the end of hte month and head to Lima via Arequia.. Then Home... don´t even want to think about what the hell i am gonna do there. Still don´t want that real job. Miss Kuri Bay.. want to get back on the water...
Location: Cusco, Peru
Arrived in Cusco few days ago.. amazing city.. really spread out, old buildings and plazas.. and clean, suprisingly.. very different to la paz.. loved la paz though. wish i had more time there.. and wish i bought more stuff there.. definately paying more here.
We are headed off to sacred valley tomorrow then start Inca Trail on tuesday. Going to be a proper mission. Our hostel is at the top of a hill and I stuggle everytime to make it up.. cannot even get out a hello to the guard at the door - who wears a bullet proof vest and carries a gun mind you.. youd think that would be enough, but the guy inside has one tucked into his pants as well.. seems really chilled here though, alot safer than la paz. Got used to cops everywhere in La paz though cruising round with their ak's...
Lake Titicaca was a bit of a let down.. so commerical.. these people have sold their soles to tourism. we stayed overnight on a floating island... the uros ppl, i think they're called, have been round for centuries and its amazing seeing how they live = litterally floating on a reeds, but is so touristy it's almost a joke. A day trip definately would have sufficed. Em and I litterally slept in a tee pee thing.. was good for a laugh.. at first...
Anyways, had a massive one last night with some ppl from the hostel..went to club called Mama Africa, so cheesy.. but still good night. have "proper" south american happy hour...
so really need some sleep... can't wait to get to machu picchu...
Location: Puno, Peru
Nearly forgot.. the thing to do in La Paz.... ride down the most dangerous road in the world.. I kept putting it off and by the time i got around to booking it, i only had Monday left and found out the most popular (ie, safest) Company doesn´t operate on Mondays.. didn´t want to know why.. so was left roaming the tour agencies for an alternative. Came across a few with awesome t-shirts (which was pretty important) but with not so great reputations. Anyways, found a good one in the end, average t-shirt..but you get all the gear.. and i paid more for double supsension and hydralic brakes.. no point going cheap on this one.. not so keen on loosing my brakes next to a 500m drop off.
Heard of a few ppl litterally loosing tyres.. what a joke. If you go over on the wrong spot, you won´t be getting up.
Turned up at half 7 on the Monday to meet a bunch of keen as backpackers.. i kept asking if anyone else was scared.. guess i was the only one. You hear so many stories... the worst, an Israeli tourist went over the edge the week before. They use these as selling points.. it´s terrible.
Got lucky with the weather.. no rain and clear day.. first i´d seen since i´d been in la paz. Didn´t fancy making it any more dangerous than it already was, so was stoked with no rain.
Up the top we were standing in the clouds, with snow capped mountains all around - amazing scenery. except for the crosses on the hill... more along the way.. was told a statistic that an average of one person every 2 weeks is killed on the road.. think bus crashes bring the stats up... still.. scary stuff.
We got the whole talk about brakes, leaning into corners and being careful.. plus the harzards on the roads - Bolivians, dogs, chickens, pot holes, beat up trucks and oil patches. Great. I was still thinking about leaning into corners.. how fast were we gonna be going??
He also told us we´d be sticking to the outside.. next to the edge. what a joke, i was planning on hugging the inside. Apparantly for safety for the drivers - left hand drive, can see the edge better. Told us if any traffic was coming we were to get off our bike, have it closest to the edge and if we needed more room.. throw the bike over. I hoped we weren´t gonna meet any traffic - or that he was joking. Both would be good.
The start is pretty good, is fully paved two lane road.. everyone was going real quick though - 60km the guide reakons and i was in the middle pack.. guys at front were flying.. would not want to fall off.. Hit 3km of uphill, which at altitude was more than a struggle. Huffing and puffing like a 90 year old. Found out few ppl at the back jumped in the van following us down.. what a joke.. wouldve killed to get in..
After a while we hit death road... a winding, gravel road with sheer drops on the left hand side and at alot of spots, not more than a car width wide. Think it got its name when a bus with 81 people went over a 500 meter drop with no survivors.. guides told us countless more stories along the way.. even pointed out wreaks while we were going.. as if i was gonna peer for that long over the edge to spot them.. wouldve gone over myself.. the scenery is out of this world but everytime i´d look at it, my steering would be all over the place.. not ideal next to drop offs. Plus we were going alot quicker than i thought we would be. Didn´t want to fall behind to the real slow group though so tried to keep up... coudn´t help thinking about hitting the front brakes to hard round a corner and going over the handlebars.
They pointed out where the Israeli guy went over.. this massive cliff, with waterfalls running all over the road.. we went single file, on the inside slowly as.. i cannot get over why he would have been mucking around at this spot. Crazy. Heard alot of stories of how it happened though, one that he turned around to warn his mates about the road and went off.. hope that wasn´t the case.. whatever happened, it`s a terrible story.
Was pretty much on the brakes the whole way, your hands are caining... so is your arse.. is 65km or something in total.. so you take a bit of a battering.. of course i managed to fall off... wasn´t next to a cliff thank god.. was a fair bit of scrub where i came off.. still, had a heartattack wondering what was gonna happen.. we are on proper mountains. have few grazes on my elbows and legs.. proper bruises on my knees... slowed up a bit after that.. back tyre was fishtailing bit too often for my liking.. so many rocks and loose gravel... can´t imagine how quick the first group was going. couple of them came off their bikes i think. Nothing serious though. Not the place to be racing though.
Anyway, you finish up in Corico for dinner.. awesome town hugging a mountain.. had a brilliant day.. ride in the van was almost worse than the bike down... still in you´re ever in La Paz, has to be done. Only did it to say i´´d done it..
Sad to have left La Paz.. is crazy city, people everywhere, markets everywhere and real good nightlife. Alot of shoe shining boys on the street wearing balaclavas..read that they are supporting their families and wear they balaclavas to hide their identity and shame.. pretty sad.. was wearing thongs most of the time and still got asked all the time if i wanted them polished.. shouldve done it to see what they´d have done...
well, this is a tad long... should be getting on our boat soon hopefully.. will put some photos up of death road when i get to cuzco.