Location: Cuzco, Peru
Guess who is coming home????
I will be back in the sunny ol' Oz on Friday, 20th October....and I can't wait !!!!
Hope to catch up with you then....but the drinks will be on YOU because I am penniless, homeless and jobless.....but I have lots of stories to tell....so it will be worth it!!!!
Location: La Paz (still!), Bolivia
Was meant to be checking out today but decided to stay anohter day to catch up with Stuart and travel to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca together. He is due back from an Amazon trip today.
Watched another DVD - Somethings Gotta Give - and then walked down to Gringo Alley for a late lunch at a cafe called 100% Natural. Kaspar came with Hubi and me and we tried to get him to eat something substantial as he was starting to fade away (he has been sick for 4 days now blaming it on our meal the first day in the market). I had a great fruit salad with yoghurt, fresh juice and just so I wasn't too healthy, a small plate of hot chips. The others ate soup and burgers and chicken. As we left, we all commented that we felt weird. I had a really bad headache and felt dizzy and the others said they felt "really stoned". We all ate different things so had no idea what was causing it.
I walked to Plaza Murillo which apparently is the nicest plaza in La Paz with an old cathedral and the Presidential Palace but it took all of my concentration not to pass out on the way. Despite the rain the plaza was pretty. We caught a taxi back to the hostel where I promptly threw up everything I just eaten...but I felt so much better for doing so.
My plan for tonight was to go to the Raddison Hotel for a cocktail, as apparently they have a great bar overlooking the city and it has been described as "twinkling like a Xmas Tree at night", followed by a nice dinner out.
Tried to leave Stuart a message at his hotel but they told me he wasn't staying there. Also sent an email but not reply.
Hubi, Kaspar and I got dressed up (well Hubi and I did and Kaspar just changed out of his pajama bottoms!) and took a taxi to the Raddison. We found the bar but unfortunately it was empty and so lacked atmosphere. We sat down anyways and enjoyed an nice bottle of Champagne (thanks to Hubi's grandma and her credit card). Over our drinks we talked about the different customs our countries have for Christmas and Easter and what it was like celebrating them as kids. I learnt that celebrations in Germany and Switzerland are very different from our celebrations and traditions in Australia...and not just because of the difference in weather.
After entertaining ourselves and drinking the bottle we took another taxi to an Italian restaurant that was recommended to us. We arrived to find an empty restaurant, again a little disappointing, but the food was pretty good and the service very attentive. The pasta was not as good as in Italy but it satisfied our craving and the small of bottle of red wine helped.
Full and happy and maybe a little tipsy we took a taxi back to the hostel. Tomorrow I am leaving for Copacabana...and I still don't know where Stuart is!
La Paz Observations:
*Big sprawling city nestled in valley. Dodgy houses on the slopes/mountains look like they are crawling up the incline to escape the chaos below.
* Contrast between hustle and bustle of market areas around San Francisco Plaza and serence "old world" places like Plaza Murillo.
* Gringos and Gringas (like me) like to shop in La Paz.
* City streets are conjested with overfilled collectivo minivans that spew filthy fumes out into the already polluted air. You would think this high up, you would breathe fresh clean air..but it is impossible!
* The locals don't seem to bother the tourists. The men don't even appear to notice the foreign women. This makes a change from so many other countries I have been in.
* Most Bolivians don't like having their photo taken and will turn away or wave their finger angrily at you if you point a camera at them.
* The Saya beer brewed at The Adventure Brew Hostel is awful.
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
Woke up feeling much perkier but not 100%. Stayed in the hostel on the couches watching more DVDs. I finished watching The Notebook (a real chick flick) and then I watched "8 below".
Was raining outsise so no real desire to get out and play tourist. Hubi (my movie buddy) went out for a very late lunch around 4pm and I picked up my CD of photos from the mountain biking trip. Did a little more shopping and then stopped off to buy more DVDs.....at 10 bolivianos....about A$1.50 they are a bargain! I can't remember all the titles I bought but these are some of the them:
* Devil Wears Prada
* Somethings Gotta Give
* Hotel Rawanda
* Million Dollar Baby
Tonight we decided to get "dressed up" and go out for a drink at a bar called Sol del Luna. We had a great night as there was a fantastic live band playing traditional Sth American music that had EVERYONE up dancing....but I still wish I could move my hips comfortably and with rhythm!
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
Woke up today feeling agitated and spaced out. Watched a DVD then went out to do some more shopping....and got Mum's birthday present (I think the nicest thing I have bought so far!).
Started feeling quite sick so walked back to the hostel, stopping for a bread roll and a banana as I hadn't really eaten much all day due to feeling funny.
Spent afternoon watching more DVDs: Take the Lead and Matrix 3. By about 6pm I was feeling worse so went to lay down in bed and watch more DVDs on a portable player. Soon after my tummy was well and truly not happy...and I was incredibly thirsty. I started wondering if it was something that I ate or if I had caught something when another little monkey at the resort yesterday bit me. (Note: I didn't have a rabies shot before I left).
Continued laying in bed and watched "Just my Luck" and then half of a romance movie called "The Notebook" before finally falling asleep....and tummy cramps easing.
Observation: I travel for 11 months and then 3 weeks before coming home I get tummy sick for the first time...what a bummer.
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
Did a pretty cool mountain bike trip (www.gravitybolivia.com) down "The Worlds Most Dangerous Road" (here in La Paz) today. It was about 60km and alot of fun.
Description (from the website):
We begin the ride at wind-swept La Cumbre (4,700m/15,400 feet) where you'll see fantastic views of a number of snow-covered peaks, including Huayna Potosí (6,088m/19,973 feet). From here we descend rapidly down a twisting road among mountain peaks, grazing llamas and alpacas, tiny villages and a drug check-post (?!). We stop for refreshments and a rest along the way, all the better to give us time to take in the scenery: towering cliff faces, dramatic drops and ever greener vegetation.
After a snack we descend further, and after a brief undulating section of road we enter the jungle itself and the most challenging section of the ride. This infamous narrow dirt road is cut precariously into the side of the mountain and descends 2,000m (6,500 feet). With 1,000m+ (3,300 feet) sheer drops off to our left and hulking rock overhangs and cascading waterfalls to our right, we ride through mist, low cloud and dust. With your positive attitude and our expert supervision you can safely enjoy some of South America's most dramatic and beautiful scenery as you hurtle down the road. (Besides, in our opinion, it's safer on this road riding a narrow bicycle than being trapped inside a big bus.)
As we near the end of the ride it gets progressively hotter and dustier. By the time you arrive at the bottom in Yolosa (1,100m/3,600 feet) you will be tired, hot, dirty and exhilarated.
At the end at this resort retreat place where we shower and eat a late lunch, I got to play with monkeys which was awesome. One in particular had great fascination climbing up on me, flopping on my head and playing with my earrings. It was unbelievable how clever he was! I have never held a monkey before and now I had one using me as his own private climbing pole!!
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
Arrived into La Paz this morning after a very nice overnight bus ride. Our bus was a "full carma" bus which meant the seats reclined and the bus was actually heated. I think I slept most of the night.
At the bus terminal I walked with a NZ couple and Kaspar down into town to look for a hostel. The Kiwis took a hotel room because it was cheaper for the two of them but as I am staying for several days I wanted a hostel where I could meet people. So I then dragged Kaspar with me up to the Adventure Brew Hostel. We checked in (dorm seems okay) and then walked down to the San Francisco Plaza market area and ate breakfast in the local food market. We had fried eggs on a roll with tomato, coffee and some goats cheese for 4 bolivianos (less than A$1). While the food was good and the place looked clean we were both wondering if we would get sick! On our way out of the market we stopped for a freshly squeezed fruit juice and it was delicious and HUGE. Just when I got through my schooner glass of orange and pineapple juice and tried to return the glass, she topped it up again....all for 3 bolivianos.
To help our breakfast digest we walked down to "Gringo Alley" to do some shopping. I bought a few more things but Kaspar was on fire buying loads of stuff. I even had to be his private bank at one stage because he ran out of money. Little bit of role reversal happening here. After we were finished shopping we headed back to the market place to try our luck with lunch. At breakfast we had seen some interesting food and so wanted to give it a go. We chose a place that looked okay and sat down to chicken, rice and salad...and another fresh juice. We were a little concerned as to how long the chicken had been sitting out for (there doesn't seem to be any refrigeration in this market place) but as she cooked it again in front of us we thought we would be okay.
Tonight we went up to the rooftop bar and met some other guests over the "free" beer the hostel offers to guests each night. I went back to the room to take a shower and it was here that I ran into my friend Heidi (who I did the first boat cruise with in Turkey). Funnily enough she is staying in the same dorm as me so it was great to catch up again. We had lost contact when I stayed in Turkey and she travelled to Israel. We will definitely be spending time going out in Sydney.
We gathered up the troops (well I did because I was hungry) and we headed off into town to try a Lebanese restaurant called Yusseffs. We ended up with about 8 people, which I didn't really want, but I couldn't exactly say no to people when they asked if they could join us. Our meal was great and it was fun catching up with Heidi.
Location: Sucre, Bolivia
Our bus ride from Uyuni to Sucre was probably one of the worst bus rides I have ever taken. The bus was cramp and freezing. My legs were tightly wedged up against the seat back in front of me and that was before the guy reclined his chair! Needless to say, none of us got any sleep and we arrived into Sucre feeling pretty ordinary. We took a taxi to a hostel that had been recommended to us and it turned out to be wonderful. The Cruz de Popayan Hostal (aka Backpackers Sucre Hostel) is a beautiful 17th century old colonial house just two blocks from the main square.
The other Australian girls took a triple room in the front section (more expensive) and I opted for a private room out the back. I was lucky enough to get a twin room to myself right at the back with a nice window for natural light.
I can´t say I really did that much in Sucre but after the trip over the Salt Plains, it was nice just to relax in a modern-ish city and mix with the other guests at the hostal. Breakfast was served each morning in the sunny courtyard and it was a great place to sit and swap South American travel stories and make plans for the coming evening. It was a very friendly and social hostel.
Over the 4 days I was there I did some shopping, walked around the local food markets, drank fantastic banana smoothies in these markets, found a great Dutch run pub called Joyride that served really good coffees, saw the movie Et Tu Mama Tambien at Joyride, updated this site, sent lots of emails, bought handmade chocolates and drank more coffee at Joyride, ate in a local chicken and chips cafe with a group from the hostal and went to a Cuban bar for Mojitos.
The one real touristy thing I did was visit the local Dinosaur Park at Cal Orko. It seems that 60 million years ago the site of Sucres Fancesa cement quarry served as a meeting spot for large and scaly types. In 1994 workers uncovered a near vertical mudstone face bearing hundreds of tracks - some of which measure up to 80cm in diametre from tyrannosauri tex, iguandons and other dinosaurs. Unfortunately we couldn´t get up close and touch the tracks on our tour because the wall was closed while workers did more digging but there were some pretty impressive concrete statues of dinosaurs and we were given a history on each of the dinosaurs that created the tracks.
Oh and I also visited the towns cemetery because it was meant to be quite beautiful...but I am not really into walking around mausoleums of wealthy colonial families!
Tonight I am on another overnight bus ride to La Paz. Tonight I am travelling with Kaspar, a Swiss guy I met at the hostal. We have booked ¨full carma¨seats (which is like 1st class) and we are hoping for the best.
Location: Uyuni, Bolivia
I think I have just finished 3 of the hardest days on my entire trip. It was a mixture of being cold, extremely cold, dusty and out of breath due to the elevation (about 3,800m above sea level).
When I last spoke to you I was in San Pedro in Chile and was taking a 4wd safari across the Salt Plains to Bolivia. The place is desolate and barren. Our driver, Santos, was a young Bolivian guy who didn´t speak English with an old beaten up Landcruiser. Within a few hours of travel we got a flat tyre and so we sat on the ground outstide the car in the freezing wind for an hour while he took the wheel of, found the hole, patched it and put the wheel back together again - apparently the spare was dodgy! I beg to ask the question...why were we carrying it then?
Our first overnight stop was in the middle of nowhere near Laguna Colorado and it was so freaking cold - it got down to -12 degrees. I was cold all night and hardly slept. The meal was okay, passable I guess and I was hungry.
The next day was probably the hardest on the car. The poor car, everytime we stopped Santos was under the car fixing something or replacing something. Thankfully we didn´t get another flat tyre but we had to push start the car everytime we stopped anywhere. Pretty funny really but I guess I got the whole poor Bolivian experience travelling across the desert in bomb 4wd.
To make up for the extreme weather, the scenery was just beautiful. We saw several lagunas (lagoons), the white one - Laguna Blanco, the green one, Laguna Verde and the red one, Laguna Colorado and they were all spectacular. Colorado was probably my favourite as there were hundreds of flamingos on it.
Last night we stayed in a warmer hotel and our meal was nice. The hotel was made from blocks of salt cut from the Salt Plains. They also had a small puppy that kept me entertained. Once again, supplies are pretty scarce but the managed to rustle up some chicken and chips that were actually quite nice. Given the lack of refrigeration or poultry farms around...I didn´t ask too many questions about the chicken!
Today we had the long drive across the Salt Plains...and they were spectacular. We stopped about halfway across at this island that was just covered in massive cactis (sp?) and climbed to the top. It was such a great view across the plains and you could just see 4wd tracks coming in at different angles. A very peaceful place but just so strange.
I am now in a shitty little town called Uyuni waiting for an overnight bus that will take me to a place called Sucre, the original capital of Bolivia. I plan on staying a few nights here. Thankfully, over the last couple of days, I met some other Austrailan girls who were in another jeep and they are also heading to Sucre tonight so I will travel this next section with them. I wanted some time alone so I am not travelling with Stuart right now but will catch up with him in about a week in La Paz, the current capital.