A Travellerspoint blog

Bolivia

La Paz

sunny 25 °C

I forgot to mention about one of the girls in our tour group having her credit card and money stolen from her bag in her hotel room while we were in Cuzco. Guess who did it STAFF, nothing that could be proved of course, but they were the only ones with a key. Luckily nothing has happened to us yet (touch wood). The reason I mention it, is because today when we were walking around Ryan saw a guy following a girl unzipping her backpack, doddgy.
Anyway. La Paz 3800 mtrs approx above sea level. Thankfully we journeyed there slowly so didn´t feel the effects of altitude to badly. Just shortness of breath when going up stairs, Ryan woke from his sleep once short of breath.
Whist in La Paz we saw protesters (about the work situation we guess). The average wage in Bolivia is 1000 Bolivianos a year about $200 NZ. Where as the politicians get $4000 Bolivianos a month, no wonder they were protesting. How´s this for some ironic stats: In Bolivia the age of retirement is 65, the age of free health care is 65, the life expectancy is 65. Conditions here are pretty sad, beggers in the streets and people working all hours to try to get by. However they are still a pretty happy bunch.
We went on a city tour, which took about 4 hrs on a double decker bus. It was a little freeaky as sometimes the bus would hit low hanging phone lines, so we were yelling duck. The front of the double decker was covered in at the front with glass (where we were sitting). The back was convertable, and people had to watch low hanging branches as well as the bus got too close. We went to moon valley which was pretty cool, it is a collection of stellicmites(don´t know how to spell), that make the landscape look pretty unsafe yet people still build on it. We paid to go to the toilet while we were there, and could have paid extra to go into the viewing area, which was no different or more spectacular than the hill we stood on across the road. While we were there I saw a dog with extra toes, which I found quite amusing.
That night the tour group went for dinner at a place called Brossco which was like a huge Cob and Co but more colourful and everything was made of plastic (except the food of course). I thought our guide was taking us to a nice restaurant and was pretty disappointed when we arrived, but it turned out to be pretty cool. I´ve probably already mentioned this, but South America has the most awesome cakes and pastries. Everything, so decadent and pretty. I tried taking a photo of a cake stall untill I was growled by a security guy, the lady inside said it was OK to take a photo, but I didn´t want to argue, they may have arrested me, apparently they like putting gringos in jail.
The next day we explored on foot, we went to the black markets and looked at stall after stall (many the same) of clothes, food, shoes, belts you name it they had it. We accidently stumbeled across the witches market. It kind of stunk of dead animals as there were petrified Llamas, wild cats, Armadillos, all sorts. There were hundreds of different natural remedies, that consisted of god only knows what. Two of the boys from the tour Jordy and Adam had the flu so they bought a concoction(don´t laugh at my spelling) off a woman and were pretty convinced it worked.
Ryan went mountain biking down Death Road, the most dangerous road in the world. They left at 8 in the morn and got back at 10 at night. They only mountain biked for about 7hrs of that, the rest of the time consisted of travelling and having a feed. They started at 4200 mtrs and got down to 1200mtrs. The bikes were doddgy to say the least chains were breaking, wheels were locking up, and bikes had to be changed regularly. One of the girls Danni from Australia had her chain break and she flipped the bike and got graized all over. Luckily she didn´t go over the side of the cliff. Some Israelie guy got killed a couple of months ago doing the same thing. People die from time to time. No big deal. Some chick was taking photos on the side of the road and stepped off the edge to avoid a bus, she´s no more.
All in all La Paz was cool, but we were getting over the whole city buzz, and I was hanging out for a town with flat ground. Next stop Sucre.

Posted by Ryan-Holly 03.05.2007 16:05 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Puno

Lake Titicaca

sunny 24 °C

Well after abit longer in Cuzco we headed for Puno, which is the city by lake Titicaca. We had a terrible 6 + hr bus ride as we were hung over from our antics the night before. We meet the rest of the people who were going to join our tour mainly Australians a couple more kiwis and a Canadian. Another great thing about this place is happy hour is every hour, so we had half priced drinks all night. The Peruvians love to dance and are really good at it.
We went thru another town on the way called Juliaca, this had to be the worst most disgusting place in Peru, there was litter everywhere, plastic bags, food, anything. There were pigs tied to pegs on the side of the road to eat the garbage, unfortunatley plastic isn't a part of their diet.
We booked into our hotel then rested ready for our big trip the next day to Amantani Island where we would stay the night with a local family. Their home was quite basic, 2 storey with 2 seperate living areas, one was the kitchen and the other was the parents bedroom. There was no electricity and a long drop out side the homes courtyard.
Our hosts were really lovely, there was Olga our mama, and Ignacio our papa, and their 4 kids Wilbert, Yuni, Selena and Lordes. Thankfully the youngest of the kids was 8 so they were well behaved. Infact these kids were unbelievably well behaved, no questions they would drop what they were doing to help their mama or papa. Everytime we gave them something, they would shake our hands and thank us repeatedly, even hugging and kissing us at times.
They were are really happy family, althought they did not have many material possesions, they always had food and were really warm happy people. Everyone on the island worked together to grow crops and harvest, and i'm sure they were more happy than most people.
The food was awesome, they make the most beautiful soups here, we even had pancakes for breakfast in the morning. We had to share the kitchen with some Guinee Pigs these are a common food source among the pople so they breed them to eat. The spanish word for Guinee Pig is Coy, and thankfully I learn't it, so I could make sure we wern't having it for dinner.
Later Olga and Ignacio took me and Ryan to a party at the island hall, we were dressed in traditional Peruvian clothes and walked in the dark to the party. The dresses had these really thick belts, that are great for good posture. I had to were 3 layers of thick skirts that came to just above my knees, a shirt, shawl and the thick belt. Most woman were 4 or 5 layers of skirt, what I had was well enough. Ryan on the other hand had to wear a poncho over his ordinary clothes (hard life).
The woman here are so strong they carry these heavy sacks on their backs everywhere and do most of the farming, all of the cooking and caring for the kids, most men go to the city to work, leaving the woman to take care of everything else. We boogied the night away to some of the most repeditive music of my life, and all of the songs were so long. We bought a beer each, but I could only have a few sips as I was so restricted in my dress I couldn't fit it in.
All in all we had a great time with our host family, and are going to really miss them.
After Amantani Island, we headed to the floating reed Islands. These islands are completely man made by binding reeds together and anchoring them to the lake bed. They are pretty big and house around 8 families on each one. The reason the locals started living on the islands was to get away from the Spanish and the fighting on the mainland.
After the floating Island we returned to Puno to get some rest before our big trip the next day across the boarder to Bolivia.

Posted by Ryan-Holly 26.04.2007 12:43 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Machu Picchu

The Highlight

sunny 25 °C

We caught a train from Cuzco to Aguscaliente, the town that leads you to Machu Picchu. I think this is the nicest town we had seen so far. We checked into our hotel then went for lunch at this crappy restaurant that our guide suggested. OK for him he gets his food for free. They were over priced, slow had a crap view and at one point a little ginger kitten strolled in and did it´s business in a big pot plant by our table. We all wanted to leave but none of us had the balls to tell Frankie our guide, so we all sat there and bit our lips.
The first day we mucked around shopped a little and rested. The views were absolutely spectacular you are surrounded closely by these menacing towering mountains. I just prayed there were no earthquakes or land slides while we were there.
That night we had takeaways for dinner so before embarking on that mission we learn´t the Spanish way of saying takeaways "para llevar" and seemed to be understood fine. We had Mexican and it was really nice. We have not yet been dissapointed with any of the food it is beautiful. They make the most awesome soups over here, and there is such a variety of restaurants to choose from you couldn´t possibly get bored.
The next morning we were up at 4:30 in the morning to catch the 5:30 bus up the hill to Machu Picchu. They had really nice buses here and within half an hour we were at the top. We wanted to get there early to avoid the crowds and see the sun rise. It was awesome, and just like the pictures. Our tour guide reminded me of a Peruvian version of Mr Willy Wonka it was comical. He took us around and let us know about it´s history. It was built in abouth the 15th century and then was over growen and covered until an American (I think) explorer who was following the Inca trail discovered it again in 1911. No one is exactly sure why the site was abandonned as it was big enough and well designed to house 800 to 1000 people. There are speculations of course, but they are only speculations.
There is far too much to talk about on this subject and I could be here all day, unfortunately I don´t have all day, things to do places to see, so I´ll keep it short.
On our bus ride back down the hill a little boy chased the bus the entire way. The track was winding and he would run down steps out in front of the bus then stand on the side of the rode waving, yealling "goodbye, adios". He ran all the way now remember it took half an hour by bus to get up, so it´s quite a distance. At the bottom the driver stopped and picked him up, he was dressed in Native costume. When he got on he yelled again "Goodbye Adios" then said something in what we think is Cetchuin (don´t know how to spell) which we didn´t understand. He then opened up his little shoulder bag to collect tips, it was so funny. Anything for a tip in this country, he was exhausted though. Later on we found out a bunch of kids do this all day, and they are in it with the bus drivers who get a cut of their tips.
Later we caught the train again for the journey back, in true Peruvian style it broke down on us twice and we were left sitiing in the dark. We left at 5 and got home around 10:30. Thankfully a lady next to us had a cross word book and a tourch so we could amuse ourselves while we were waiting.

Posted by Ryan-Holly 26.04.2007 12:18 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cuzco

Inca Empire Capital

sunny 23 °C

With the Amazon behind us, we set off for Cuzco. It was only a short flight but a rather scary one towards the end when the pilot sharply tilted in one direction then the other while diving quite steeply. Never the less we made it.
Cuzco means Navel, as it is the capital of the Inca empire. We were all rather releived that it was much colder in Cuzco after the suffocating heat of the Amazon.
Shortly after arrival we embarked on a city tour showing us such highlights as Churches and the Inca wall f Q´Oricancha. The Inca people were amazing how the constructed these huge places out of granite or lime stone, moving the stone from at times hundreds of miles away. Then putting it all together with no morter and there it still stands about 500 years later. In the 1950´s Cuzco was hit by a rather large earthquake that pretty much destroyed the entire town, all the coloniel builings were destroyed and thousands dies, yet the inca buildings remained standing. Unfortunately in alot of places the Spanish took every opertunity to build a church over any inca sites therefore covering alot of them.
That night after much site seeing we went to dinner and me and Ryan tried Alpaca. I felt a bit grot about it, the poor wooly little Alpaca, but just the same as sheep or lamb I suppose. Anyway it was quite nice, pretty salty though. We have since eaten it once more.

The next day we went to Saqsaywaman (pronounced sexy woman). This is another ancient Inca site, the name means Satisfied Falcon. It was named this after the Inca and Spanish fought leaving there dead warriors and soldiers to fight elsewhere, as you can imagine there were some satisfied falcons after they feed from the bodies of the dead. Please excuse any bad spelling, I am typing fast to try to catch up on the last week.
We headed off to Sacred Valley and on the way stopped at Puka Pukara an Incan watch tower. This is a place that Incan messangers would stop to change runners, who would then continue to run over the Inca trail to deliver a message. It´s a long way and they were obviously really strong runners as it didn´t take them long at all. Due to the Altitude people around here carry more oxygen in there blood therefore have more staminer than ourselves. We were struggling at 3360mtrs above sea level, when we get to Bolivia it will be even higher.
Anyway we carried on to Pisaq some markets where Ryan got ripped off with his not so flash bargaining skills. Then it was on to Ollantaytambo, Incan ruins that for some unknowen reason where never completed. They were amazing so self sufficient, running water, terraces for crops, homes all purched on the side of a very step mountain. We also saw Aussangate the highest mountain at 6384 mtrs. That night me and Ryan went out to tea and wanted something really cheap. We found a local place where we had individual sized pizzas and then on the walk home got somesort of caramel pastry from a bakery, all up dinner cost $8 soles which is about $5 NZ for the both of us, sweet deal.

Posted by Ryan-Holly 26.04.2007 11:56 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Amazon

Welcome to the Jungle

semi-overcast 30 °C

Well what can I say about the Amazon other than WOW! It should really be called the Amaze-on.
Firstly I would like to apologise that there are no photos. As soon as I find someone who knows the first thing about computers I will get them to help me upload them.
Well where was I? Thats right the Amazon, what an amazing place. We flew in to Puerto Maldonado first thing in the morning. As soon as we stepped out of the plane I think we nearly all died. It was about 30·c and 70% humidity, we could bearly breath and instantly started to sweat like pigs. Our guides came to pick us up to take us on the 1hr bus ride to a port to get the boat up the river. The bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip. We were happily cruising along the rather bumpy dirt road in our less than maintained bus. Every now and then the driver would have to stop the bus to find another gear, and I don´t think he found second gear at all. We were all amazed at all the brighly coloured butterflies that were fluttering about, every colour you could possibly imagine.
We were all a little relieved I think when the heavens began to open, it was a small comfort from the overbearing heat. Now this is where the fun begins. The road was made of clay, stones and mud, so guess what happened when it started getting wet. Slowly the backside of the bus started slipping off the road and we were going sideways. Then the bus would realign only to start skidding off again, at one point all the guides jumped out and pushed the bus back on the track. Let me say as funny as it all seemed, some of us were feeling a little vulnerable. We potted along for a bit longer when we came to a high bridge with a sharp turn then steep hill. The driver put his foot to the floor and we were off, half way up however we came to a halt and started slidding backwards to the bridge and huge drop to the river below, now we were thinking "OK we´re going to die" atleast I was anyway. We all jumped out and nearly everyone tried pushing, putting things under the back wheels, but to no avail. Finally after about 5 minutes of constant straining, the poor little bus gave up and died, over heating the raidiator, water was spilling everywhere out the front. After this the bus driver tried parking the bus, which consisted of steering while she quickly speed backwards down the hill toward the dreaded river, he quickly turned it into the trees and basically just crashed it.
So we had to walk for the next 1 or 2 kms until another bus could pick us up. I took my shoes off and just enjoyed splashing in the muddy puddles while everyone else got theirs absolutely filthy.
Well we finally made it to the lodge after a long boat ride on the most unsteady boat, that was kind of like a really long Canoe with an outboard. The lodge was nothing like I was expecting it was really awesome, not fancy, but really cool. Our rooms had walls on 3 sides, but nothing on the 4th side, so we were completely exposed to the elements and nature. We even had to shower with all the little critters watching in the trees if they wanted to. Due to the lack of walls, on our first night we were robbed. Don´t panic, we were robbed by rats, who came in and unzipped my bag and stole my food(cunning), then as a final insult climbed up on Ryans bag and crapped all over it. So we didn´t do that again. There was no electricity and only cold showers, which was fine because that was all you wanted. We were all having about 3 plus showers a day to try to get rid of the constant sweat.
We were up bright and early at 4 the next morning to go hiking. Which was fun considering I had no sleep due to the scampering rats and god only knows what else coming into our room. One tried to jump on my bed but couldn´t get up because of the mosquito net. After that I quickly got out of bed and went and joined Ryan, the next morning there was mouse crap all over my bed. Ryan on the other hand slept like a baby.
I know this log is pretty long but there is so much to tell. I will try to make it as painless as possible, so now I will let you know what animals we saw on our many excursions. We saw A Tamandua (small ant eater) in a tree which was really special as they are rear to see. Unfortunately we didn´t see a Sloth, but ah well. Ryan spotted a small black snake that was highly venomous. The guides were really impressed he spotted it, as the rest of us took atleast a few minutes stareing at the same spot before we could see it. We saw Caimen (small Alligators), Caribana (Giant Rodent, the size of a big pig), Squirrels, Giant Otters, heaps of birds, butterflies and insects. Monkeys, howlers, dusky titi and spider. There were lizards, and a huge snake the guides had killed a while ago as it had come to the lodge and was a very dangerous snake. This snake was so territorial that they had to kill it because it would not leave, and would probably end up killing someone.
We went Pirana fishing, which was crazy. We would catch and release, I was the only one in our group to catch one. I felt really bad cause the hook went partly through his eye. The same thing happened to a girl from the other group, so we comforted ourselves in the thought that they were both down the bottom swimming side by side using their good eyes to guide each other.
Well we had a way wicked time any how, and our Guide William (Strong Peruvian name haha) was awesome. Anyway theres heaps more to tell but i´m getting tired. We are doing the Macchu Picchu thing next so that will be awesome. Until then Hasta Luego.

Posted by Ryan-Holly 21.04.2007 22:45 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 7) Page [1] 2 »