Published: June 2nd 2005April 15th 2005
The coaches have a viewing area - known as the pornstar bar!
The plane from Heathrow was delayed to Miami and we had to have a heated argument with US immigration officials to make our connection (put claire onto this obviously! they are such lovely people NOT) and even then only made it by running from one side of the airport to the other - most of the others trying to make the connection never made it.
So we got to Lima, Peru, only to find our luggage was still in Maimi as american airlines (bless them) had assumed we wouldnt make it so not bothered to put our bags on the plane to Lima. So a day and a half in the same pants - nice! Bags eventually appeared late in Tues, seemingly unharmed but clearly gone though to look for god knows what.
The luggage has been a constant pain - the extra third bag (in addition to rucksacks each) has been a real burden - 30kgs of stuff we are only going to need in Cochabamba. But nearly there with it now so I hope it´ll be worth it. Got to talk seriously about how we can cull our bags a lot more before we go on the main
Er... an alpaca
travelling event - weighty bags are a real pain.
Lima was ok, spent two days at the South America Explorers Club (we´re members you know - real explorers!), doing research for the rest of the trip out. Tried to get paragliding but the wind didnt work, so spent some time resting and getting around town without being mugged.
Bus onwards to Nazca, a one horse town down the coast which offers but one attraction - loads of mysterious lines on the plains which were created about 800 yrs ago, but can only be seen from the air when they had so planes - so why? Of course I favour the theory of landing pads for the aliens, but thats just me. Went up in a small plane to appreciate though - no breakfast as a precaution! Great fun. Waiting for the bus out met up with a bunch of aussie girls on a trip (cant get away from them!) but the talking and drinking helped pass the time away.
Overnight bus to Arequipa, 2000m up in the foothills of the Andes. Their coaches are amazing - only three seats across and each one folds down into a
Peruvian cycle champ
Our guide Arequipa - the national mountain biking champion
bed - luxury. Its definitely best to travel overnight, too hot in the day, and asleep you don´t get the heart-stopping moments when the coach either goes way too close to the edge of the road and that precipitous drop into oblivion, or tries to overtake three big lorries on a blind bend with something coming the other way!
We came to Arequipa when first in S.Am 8 years ago, and boy has it changed. Much bigger and developed, with more than one restaurant and karaoke bars! Didnt go in these, but could hear someone wailing into the night whist trying to sleep last night - reckon they need some real expertise in there, maybe next time! Had some great food and wine already so Claire v.happy
Went biking around the city yesterday - long cycle to see the sights. That was the plan anyway. The sun blasting, the altitude and our general lack of fitness all conspired to make it very tough. Added to which our guide for the day was the Peruvian mountain biking champion no less! Made it though - suffering today, think I need another cerverza.
Arequipa very pretty colonial town with a
The main plaza in Arequipa
large plaza surrounded by 17c spanish buildings which have had to withstand a few earthquakes in their time. Last time we had a tremor but no such luck this time. All these made of a local lava-based white stone which shines in the sun - most photogenic. It is overlooked by ´Él Misti´ the most active volcano int he world they say. It seems they most of the locals are just waiting for it to blow, although if it does then the town would be buried in lava or ash or both - makes for a very chilled attitude to life.
The peruvians are generally very friendly and want to talk. Luckily the Spanish is going ok, funny how being taught the same basic phrases for so long seem to have finally sunk in! Looking forward to getting this honed a lot more over the coming months.
Resting up now before an overnight bus tonight over the border to La Paz in Bolivia. Need to spend a couple of days there getting supplies and registering with UK embassy etc before moving onto Cochabamba and our home for the next three months. Very excited about this but no idea
what this teaching lark will entail! Planning some trips out from there to jungle/mountains etc, in between rounds of golf obviously!
Got the overnight bus from arequipa to la paz. pretty nasty experience. arrived 2 hrs late (at 1.30 am), so we settled in to the bed/seats, not busy so stretched out and thought would eb all ok for the 12 hr journey. oh no. soon as get going bus heaters come on full and it starts to fill with diesel fumes, added to the real swaying motion and C is v sick before we´d got about half hr out. manged to get the heaters off but fumes got worse and both feeling bad. slept a bit but woke up to find we´d broken down in the middle of nowhere just before dawn. they got it going in a couple of hours, and this seemed to fix smell, but the montion was as bad so we both had a rotten time. this was also the big climb to altitude - from 2000m to 3600m, so got to the border crossing with a real bout of it, which just added to everything else. border was a real frontier town - very marked difference in development as you went from peru to bolivia, we had forgetten so bad! got to la paz eventually. luckily we had already booked a hotel so just fell into a taxi and went to bed for the rest of the day/night with bad altitude sickness. now mid afternoon next day and claire still suffering. I´ve been chewing coca leaves etc and feel a lot better, glad thats its apprarently not permanent - you either recover or you dont and have to retreat down to proper altitudes, would scupper some plans if couldnt handle it.
la paz sits in a 5km wide bowl and as you come off the altiplano you get a spectacular view down into it, the city covers the whole bowl and up the sides. very frenetic - maybe just seems so as we cannot do anything quickly, out of breath instantly. looking forward to being able to drink/eat and enjoy it a bit more. so spirits back up to normal levels soon - if you know what I mean!
the extra bag is now the bain of my existence, one of the wheels broke yesterday. B***** thing!
We got the bus to Cochabamba on Friday. Still feeling a bit rough but made it in one piece and were met by the TAPA people without any problems. Taken straight away to our apartment for some R+R. Told that I have got a 6.45am start on Monday - and I thought this was a holiday! Getting a bit nervous about starting this teaching marlakey, havent got a clue!