Previous entry Next entry

jon and marion’s Travel Diary

Monday, 17 Mar 2008

Location: cuzco, Peru

Maphi everyone

we hope that you are all well and happy.

we have had six amazing and varied weeks in patagonia. we can confirm that patagonia is 79% water and ice, the rest is mostly rock.

we have done all the major walks down that way and a few no one else would have found because jon loves to go off the beaten track. we walked up tracks that had ´closed´ signs posted and got rewarded with the most spectacular views of hanging glaciers and lagoons dotted with icebergs and bergy bits. sometimes it pays to break the rules.

we hired a car for 2 weeks and drove some of the 1200kms of the austal highway that runs from puerto montt to villa o´higgins in chile. jon thought that most of it was paved with only a small portion of it being dirt.

he was wrong.

150kms of 1200kms was paved. he had a ball. for 600kms we skated over corrogations, spun our wheels furiously trying to climb the loose rubble of some pretty steep ascents, and flicked the back of it out going around corners at a great rate of notts. my brain is still mush. the only thing worse was seeing the people on mountain bikes doing this trip and there were a few and they were all eating dust from dawn to dusk.

we occasionally got stuck between a rock and a hard place. the rock being the overhanging cliff face and the hard place being a truck. the roof of our little yaris was lower than the trays on some of these trucks, which was good, because it allowed us to get in and under them and inch our way out of their way. oh it was fun!

and we hiked and camped and hunted rascally hummingbirds...they are so curious about us but we arent allowed to be curious about them. as soon as we stopped in a place one would be hovering around but as soon as i reached for the camera it would be off. jon had a wonderful laugh at my frustration. i settled for getting shots of another elusive animal... a miniature deer. it didnt realise we were sitting quietly looking at the water when it wandered into our midsts. it is so rare that the national parks people want descriptions of the amimal and time and place if you happen to see one.

i have never in my life intentionally set out to walk 25kms. i might have done it accidently pacing the floor waiting for kids to arrive home long after their curfew time, but never with intent. we thought we might like to take a look at this one glacier that covered an active volcano. hmmm the walk up wasnt so bad because we had a destination to aim for. it was long and thankfully not too high, it was just a gradual up hill climb of about 100mts over 12kms. we were sure we would get water along the way...afterall we were following a glacial river right to the glacier. wrong. and the water we did find was so full of sediment that it was not drinkable. after 4.5hrs we were standing about 100mts from the base of this immense glacier. we found a clear water spring and plonked to have some much needed lunch. then we set off to explore. we were conscious that this glacier was moving and dangerous and we could also see the vent of the volcano, slightly smoking, leaving its black ash in a wide arch. i cant believe how long it took us to walk that last 100mts to the face of the glacier. it was steep and rough going but worth the effort. to be standing that close to something that has been on the earth for so long. i could have touched it if i wanted too but it just didnt seem right. some things should be left untouched by humans. i did look at it very closely and through the dirt that encrusted the surface i could see that brilliant iceberg blue. it was enough. then we put our packs on and headed back to camp. i was stuffed. it took ages to get home even though we were going down hill.

i was up to 4359 when jon taped me on the shoulder as i walked past him. i was so stuffed i didnt even realise i had been counting or that we were at the end.

i know now what it feels like to walk that far.

our time in patagonia was coming to an end so we headed north using their system of car ferry´s. we survived 3 of these trips eventually making it to chiloe island. i did catch myself looking for life boats and life jackets and ho hummed when there werent any to be seen. i figured we were never very far from land so if push came to shove we could swim...our travel insurance was gonna love this.

we headed north with the intention of seeing some of chiloe island. we had been told all sorts of things about chiloe but thought we should take a look for ourselves. the south of the island was unremarkable except for the style of housing. think zincalume garden shed (like the rest of patagonia) and you have got the picture. but the north was definitely worth a look. it was picture postcard perfect. costal farming and traditonal fishing were the main occupations and the dairy farmers still left their milk out in the milk cans we abandoned years and years ago. we found a great hostel outside of ancud and had the place to ourselves for a song. once again the sunset over the pacific ocean and the sunrise over the mountains made our day.

we waved to you all from the other side of the pond, sending all our love to you on the turning tide.

we got back to puerto montt and made a snap decision that we had had enough of the south and needed a change of sceenery.

and we got it.

peru is getting pretty close to the equator and was hot and humid when we landed at 10.30pm.

we trusted our luck with the taxi company the guide book recomended and our driver took us on a wild ride through the worst peak hour traffic i have ever experienced...mostly because there are 10million people in lima and they were all out and 10.30pm!!our driver was talking to us in broken english, he was talking to the hostel and leaning on his horn for the 40kms it took to get from the airport to the hostel! i suppose i was lucky to be too tired to care. we had just flown 4hours from puerto montt to santiago, spent 8hours in the airport at santiago waiting for our flight to lima in peru. the ticket indicated that this was only about a 2 hour flight, but they neglected to tell us we were travelling back in time and we were in the air for nearly 5hours. it was a very big day.

i am in love with lima. it is the first place we have been too on our travels so far that has been out of my realms of experience. it was hot humid vibrant, hazy with air pollution, so much so that we couldnt see the sky or very far out to sea. it is a city perched on a cliff face made up of loose sand and river stones. the city would disintergrate if it ever rained here. it is a sprawling city made up of so many cultures and socio-economic levels, flanked by sand dunes slowly revealling peru´s pre spanish and inca history.

to me it was beautifully different. and we will be going back there for a few days after our jaunt to macchu picchu and cuzco.

we decided to do the bus trip to cuzco because we had flow over the andes a number of times and thought we should see how these northern moutains differ from their southern counter parts. for one they are greener. on our way up the hill we saw crops of mangoes, bananas, avacado and all sorts of stone fruits. all very lush. the housing here was different too, there was alot more mudbrick houses and some of these even had terracotta tiles. it was a bit like in southern patagonia where every house had its own sawpit to mill the timber they needed for their house, here most houses had some form of kiln to make their roof tiles in...the mud bricks were lined up along the roads to dry.

well it was 22hours on the bus and jon still isnt well. we dont know if it is the altitude (3500mts) or if we ate something or if we just have a bug of some description but it is making our trip here less than perfect. the weather has been kind to us, but we cant walk far without feeling ill or breathless, and the headaches are enormous! the locals chew and bre coca leaves for altitued sickness but they dont seem to be working for us. and neither do the homeopathics...boohoohoo

but in spite of that we are off to macchu picchu on wednesday and thursday. we decided not to trek the inca trail, given how unwell we feel, but have taken the easier option of catching a train and bus to the sacred site and spending the day amongst the ruins.

in the meantime we have been going out in short bursts to see the sites around cuzco. it was a very important centre to the incas and the museums are chock full of artifacts dating back to 8000bc. there are about 500,000 people here now and most of the city has been built on old inca sites so all you have to do is wander the streets to see the original stonework and water chanelling system.

well thats about it for now, its saint patricks day and the celebrations have finally stopped so i might head off to bed to try and get some sleep now. our hostel is over a pub and its been pretty noisy all night. the joys of travelling!!

we have lots of great photos to share and will upload them when we get a chance.

we have lots of birthdays in march and we hope tiah, michelle and alice all have wonderful days. and to anyone else who i have forgotten, happy birthday too.

catch you all soon
love to you all
marion and jon