Published: May 5th 2012May 3rd 2012
I an writing this blog entry sat on a tock by a lake Chungara at 4500 meters snobs sea level. I am High in the Antiplsno. Of tje lLauca Natonal prtk.. .it is so Peaceful here, as grorgie fame on e wrote no one looking over my shoulder, nobody bresthing in my ear , ehixh at ghd moment sould be vety difficult. The air is do thin here i sm lgbt heared and msking msny typinf mostakes. Just imbing u a smLl hill leaves dveryone breathless. I os skso msking me cery tired snd i had started to fall aslerp on the bus. Cncentration is very difficult. I have been at 4500 before on Bivia but that was a gradual climb over a week. This has edn from desevel to 4500 meters in four hours.one lady has jest collapsed and is currently revieving oxygen. I am relying in the emergency biscuits and rescue grapes I have bought along for the ride. Have not had a cigarette since seaevel. Don't want to risk it, ApRt from ducks on the lake quacking feeding and doing what ducks do it is silent. . Lush and green such a contrast the the desert we left
The interesting shack
with 1000 yr old etching in the background. should have gone to specsavers
behind this morning. My travelling. Ompanion got the day is Henny. Also onthetour bis are 8 Chike nz including a plump young girl with enormous tit. She iLife barely five feet tall and do is way out if proportion. He boobs are #ing huge. Her boyfriend is a surley looking chap,black clothing ad dark glasses. Both around 21. Did I say she has gigantic knockers, cannot remember.just Cisco back..... Oh yeah and, bless her, every time she has her picture taken she strikes a pose and sticks her chest even further out, it is very funny. Maybe she is hoping one day someone who works will happen b. unfortunately she is deluding herself, unless that person is recruiting for the Christmas pantomime, snow white and the seven dearfs. Nice tits though. So off we all set. The guide speaks nothing. It Spanish DBS talks do fast it is difficult to understand what he is saying. Consequently about 15 minutes I to our journey he starts jabbering on in Soanidh and two minute later as pull over on the side of the road.
Ok enough, enough. No I have not gone mad. That is the effect of trying to type
flower on Cactus
for one night (and day) only
at 4500 mts above sea level having been at the seaside only 4 hours ago. Everything felt strange, breath was hard to come by and very difficult to concentrate, focus and type. Mind you I was lucky. One woman is currently on oxygen and another guy is chucking his boots up, such is the effect of altitude sickness. I am now composing this blog sat in the Plaza de Armas is a village called Putre at 3000 meters. Much better air and a very peaceful village indeed. The only sound interrupting the silence is kids letting off firecrackers and the wheel jack being put under our minibus to change the flat tyre and the wheel brace being dropped on the floor as they try and loosen the wheel nuts. Just had some supper and once the wheel is fixed it will take my companeros and I back down to Arica.
So, there were three basic ways of getting to the Lauca National Park, which sits high in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. A one day trip starting at the crack of sparrows for $20,000 clp, a two day one night in Putre for
a mind blowing £85,000 clp or get the public bus up to Putre for $2000 and hope that a tour is running that day. I suppose there was a fourth, not to go at all, but that was never on the cards. Henny would like to visit the Park too and do we decided the most economical way would be on the one day tour. Not ideal but betters can't be chosers. it included everything except the thermals, and as I had done these twice on this trip was not bothered. It also included breakfast and supper so seemed the best value. We had two packs of emergency biscuits and some rescue grapes for the journey.
Having been picked up by the minibus, the driver explained the day. He spoke only Spanish and so quickly that it was difficult to understand him. But in a nutshell he warned against altitude sickness and recommended lots of water. I had already taken some anti-altitude sickness medicine the night before. Found some in a shop nearby. I had the choice of vino blanco or vino tinto. Opted for the later to wash down a fine chicken meal I had prepared. Yum yum.
at 4392 meters. a lovely building
So off we set. The whole van are Chilean apart from Henny and I. A broad mix of people plus a dumpy Chilean girl standing a mighty 4'10" with huge tits. I mean they are enormous and totally out of proportion with her body. She is with her boyfriend. A moody looking guy wearing all black and a wannabe gangsta.
Did I mention her boobs ? They are #ing mammoth. Gargantuan even. They are both around 21. (thats the boy/girl combo. not the funbags) Did I say she has gigantic knockers, cannot remember? Just go back and check..... Oh yeah and, bless her, every time she has her picture taken she strikes a pose and sticks her bazookas out even further out. It is very, very funny. Sporting a pair of sunglasses as big as her hooters, they adorn her face like giant darkened windows. It's as if she thinks she is A-list, just arriving at a movie premiere or similar, or posing as she get out of a taxi to attend some trendy new club opening. Maybe she is hoping one day someone who works in the fashion industry will happen by? Unfortunately she is deluding herself,
unless that person is recruiting for the Christmas pantomime, Snow White and the seven dwarfs. In fact if she was to perform in that panto it would be called Snow White and the nine dwarfs. Nice tits. Nuff said.
I digress. We zoomed off and after about 20 minutes the bus driver, whose name I did not catch so will just refer to him as Speedy Gonzales, started jabbering on in fast Spanish and pointing out of the window. All others were peering out. I tried to understand him but was lost. Driving as we were along the valley floor before our vehicular ascent to 4500 mtrs, in the fields to the right was a ramshackle house cum shed. We pulled over and more pointing at the brown shed with one window, lying in a field at the bottom of a lane in the shadow of a steep desert hill. All the Chileans were talking pictures. I could make out a few words, as could Henny but basically we were perplexed. Why was this small brown house cum shed so important? Was is the home of a famous Chilean or the birthplace of a leader from the past like
Bernardo O'Higgens who liberated chile from the grip of Spanish rule in the 18th century. Unlikely the later as the building only looked about 30 years old.
"are you going to take a picture?" enquired Henny?" "Not sure a brown house with one window in a field is a good shot" I replied. "and it's too far away"
"Do you guys know what is going on?" said a kind voice. It was Xavi, a Chilean English speaking girl from south Chile. She is from Curico where I went to the fiesta de vindemia.(see previous blog). Turns out we were both there having fun that weekend. "Not sure really. Have heard words like past years but cannot understand why this shack is so interesting" She started laughing. " it's not the shack. Look on the hill"
Raising my gaze I could now see what the fuss was all about. Carved into the hill behind the house were images of animals, created by the Inca civilisation over 1000 years ago. "ah" I said. "Thanks" and chuckled with Henny at our mis-understanding. Might have blushed too, not sure. A -list was in her stride already though, posing for shots with
the drawings in the background. Hands on hips, tits thrust out as if the lane was a cat walk. Page 3 next week for sure, but page 3 of what I have no idea? Maybe 'Dwarf Only' or 'Nuts and Dwarf magazine?
Off we went again on the long and winding road to the national park. Having warned us about altitude sickness I reckon Speedy should have warned us about travel sickness. Maybe it was because he had to be back early but the way he was throwing the van around hairpin bends I had visions of us leaving the road. He had no idea how to take a corner with van full of paying customers with a 500 mtr drop over the edge if he got it wrong, braking around the bend rather than before it. I must confess I put on my seat belt which is unlike me. A dusty road up a very steep valley, and a certain death experience if we dropped off the edge. Every now and then see stones stacked on top of each other, nature altered. I wondered if Aki, my Japonese travelling companion from a few weeks ago has passed this
way. We hurtled around bends higher and higher until a pit stop.
" I recommend coco tea for the altitude" says Speedy. " I recommend you slow the fuck down mate" I replied.
So following my first taste of cocaine in its leaf form in hot water, rather than as the refined product, we set off again. Coco tea. Definitely an aquired taste.
You recall I have sometimes referred to Chile as a land of tricks. Well it had one more up its sleeve. The driver explained (through Xavi) the we were in a natural magnetic field. The van stopped, on quite an incline and sure enough, when the brakes were released the van started travelling backwards up a hill! We picked up quite a head of speed too. Really weird. Travelling backwards up a hill in a van full of people with nothing but the energy from the magnetic field we were in moving us.
Speedy stops quickly. He has seen something and much excitement. A cactus, called a perito. that only flowers for one day a year has produced a bloom. The future model clapped her hands with glee. like a performing seal. Posing all over the shop, lying on the floor with her face next to the blooming flower head. I commented to Henny that given the opportunity I should take a picture of Sammy the performing seal in a less glamorous location. The flower was beautiful and would only last a day unlike the new Paris Hilton, who would last the day too but was definitely not beautiful.
We are high on the antiplano now. The brown desert turning to greener land able to support life such as Llamas, Vicunas and Alpacas. Water channeled down from the mountains to irrigate the small holdings of the communities scattered throughout the high planes. Purple Lupins adding a dash of colour growing around the Cacti.
We arrive at a small hamlet, Parinacota. 4392 meters above sea level. A hamlet dominated by a snow capped volcano that bears its name. Here is a small thatch roof church built in 1680. Unfortunately it is locked but it was much more impressive church than that built from Eiffels design in Arica. Bricks made from the desert, covered in wattle and dawb and painted white. A thatch roof from the materials of the antiplano. The tower of the church standing away from the main building because at the time it was built, the communities believed that the tower represented the male penis, the building the woman's womb. The two should remain separate, thus displaying their belief in the virgin Mary. A walk down to the lake to sit in quiet and peace. As Georgie Fame sang. " it's oh, so peaceful here. No one looking over my shoulder, nobody breathing in my ear". Breathing is becoming quite hard though. From sea level to 4392 meters in three hours takes its toll. Walking back to the village it is hard to catch my breath, I am already a little light headed, and now suddenly very lethargic. I fall seep on the van and wake up at Lago Chungara at 4500 mtrs.
A fabulous setting. A mixture of green grass around a huge lake, itself ringed by the brown of the tundra. Huge snow peaked volcanoes reaching to 6000 metres reach for the sky. (mount Everest is 8848 meters). No wonder it is so hard to breath. I sit quietly by the lake and try and pen some thoughts but it is impossible. I cannot concentrate. As if I had not slept for 72hrs. One woman is struggling to breath so much she is having oxygen from a bottle bought just in case.. The wannabe gangster is throwing up into bag, his street cred in the bag with the rest of his stomach contents.
In the car park are some rubbish bins with straw lids. For some bizarre reason one of the men on the bus wants his picture taken next to them. Incredible. The most spectacular scenery and he wants a picture stood by a recycling bin. Maybe he is a garbologist? The future model wanders by, and with her boyfriend still bringing up breakfast, it's carpe dium
time . I wave at her to stand with the chap for a photo. She needs no further prodding. Hair swept back, head to one side, legs crossed to exaggerate the hips, and a huge pair of knockers thrust out. Snap! I was hoping to catch a picture of her in a rubbish location, but never knew it would actually be in ' a rubbish location.' Result.
Later we descended to the town of Putre for supper and sat in the town square waiting for the wheel to be changed commented to Henny about tours, how this was a good one and that we were lucky to wind up with an entertaining bunch, not that they knew they were being quietly observed from the wings.
In the town square was a statue of Bernado O'Higgens, the liberator of Chile from the Spanish. I took a picture. Unfortunately it will be the last one for a while as my five week old Sony Cybershot camera then broke. The lens has a mind of its own and will not focus. The computer at which I am sat will not read the memory card either. The pictures are there but it is well and truely fucked. Looks like I wiil be on camera 3 when I arrive in Arequipa tomorrow, for after almost three months in Chile and just under 5000kms later I am crossing the border and heading to Peru.
Destination Machu Piccu.