I've always had wanderlust. Don't know where it comes from. When I was 26 I bought a 'round the world' ticket and flew off to New York. I thought after a year travelling I would have 'been there, seen it, done it' and it would be out of my system. Of course it didn't work like that. I travelled for two years and only went home when the money ran out. Then life took over for a few years, and travelling was confined to month long trips around Christmas, and shorter city breaks.
In 2009 Jim retired. Not to be outdone I also gave up work - at least for the forseeable future. We gave our flat in Amsterdam back to the housing corporation, gave away almost everything else and set off for India. We travel for seven to eight month stretches, and go back to England and Holland in the summer; because we want to stay in touch with family and friends, reflect on where we've been, and take time to plan the next trip. We'll do this for as long it's fun..... then - who knows.....
At the moment, just enjoying this incredible life.

South America » Peru » Amazonas August 27th 2014

'It's just you and the creatures now', said Juan Carlos as he waved goodbye. The air was loaded with sound. We could see nothing, but knew that life was all around us. We were at the last outpost on the Yanayacu de Yacapana River, at the start of our Amazon Refuge adventure. Beyond lay only jungle and watery veins of the Amazon. We plunged right in. A three-hour forest walk. Dense vegetation, vines and huge trees intertwined, orchids growing on branches, fungus eating away at bark. There were no visible pathways and only decomposing vegetation underfoot; a soft mulch of leaves, mud and rotting wood; creepers tugging at feet and ankles. The ground felt spongy, flexible - odd - like it wouldn't hold our weight. Continuously looking down at my feet wasn't conducive to animal spotting, ... read more
Spectacular Caterpillar

South America » Peru » Ucayali » Pucallpa August 24th 2014

There's a whole range of Henry's. We were on Henry VI. The only majestic thing about her was her name. The Henry is a turquoise and orange, wood and tin cargo barge that has seen better days. Mainly cargo – but she does take people – up to 200 of them. And she takes both on a four-day sojourn down the meandering Rio Ucayali for 500 km or more to the steamy jungle city of Iquitos. The Henry's have a port all of their own. Finding it can be a challenge as the port shifts up and down the river according to water level. But our moto driver knew where we wanted to go. Before we'd paid him his 6 soles, a hammock salesman took us under his wing. He walked alongside us over the muddy, ... read more
The Cabin
The Dock

South America » Peru August 20th 2014

Not to be outdone by Bolivia, Peru has some pretty fancy titfers too!... read more

South America » Peru » Junin » Huancayo August 16th 2014

We stepped into the courtyard and straight into the heart of a little family business. And it was more heart than business. On a low bench along a wall a young man sat pencilling designs on small rounded tan-coloured gourds. Two young women next to him, carving out his drawings, using nothing more than a nail sharpened to a point. I noticed the plasters wound around finger tips; saw the concentration on their faces and felt their cameraderie as they worked together, chatting, smiling, laughing. Standing, a few meters away, a world unto himself, worked Pedro Veli, the master. A little padded bib hung over his chest, he peered over his glasses and worked steadily. On his gourd there was no pencil drawing. His image came from memory, from imagination, from life, from himself. He carves ... read more

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco August 11th 2014

They were waiting on the steps of the cathedral. All fifteen of them. Temporary wall-flowers, waiting for their turn to waltz. Adorned in fine fabrics, shot through with gold thread, capped with crowns and canopies, surrounded by fresh flowers, and outlined against a sky-blue heaven. Each surrounded by his own musicians, dancers, dignitaries and followers. Spectators milled about. Some rested on the cathedral steps, others lined the edge of the plaza, sitting on the kerb and makeshift stools. They shaded their eyes from the sun holding broad-rimmed hats at the side of their faces; delved into large plastic shopping bags for snacks and drinks, and chatted to friends and family. Vendors sold paper hats, plastic rosaries, 'spot the saint' booklets, cakes, bubble-kits, balloons, soft-drinks and plastic stools. Young girls in heavily embroidered skirts and fringed hats ... read more
Saint Sebastian

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Arequipa August 3rd 2014

Once you went in, you never came out. Santa Catalina, a pretty prison, but a prison nonetheless. Painted letters over the entrance to the first courtyard, urge SILENCE, yet noise from the city surrounds you, the cries of street vendors, the clop of horses hooves, the hum of voices, the sound of life. There are forty-foot-high walls, but your prison is open to the air; you are separated from, but remain a part of the world. A similar fate awaited every second child born under Spanish colonial rule in the New World. They were raised to 'embrace' the religious life; to pray for their family and their well-being. Sons became priests and daughters became nuns. Sister Ana (Ana de los Angeles Montegudo) entered at the age of 3. More commonly, girls entered at the onset of ... read more

South America » Bolivia July 27th 2014

Party hats. Paper hats. Everyday hats. Men wear them. Women wear them. Kids wear them. There's no escaping them. Here's just a selection of some of the wonderful sombreros of Bolivia.... read more

I kept thinking it was the sea; it's so vast. Set at an altitude of 3,810m, and measuring some 190km by 80km, Lake Titicaca is by far the biggest high-altitude body of water in the world. Chugging out on the motorised ferry from Copacabana, it felt as though we were starting an epic voyage, and in some ways we were, for we were travelling to the sacred centre of the ancient Andean world. For the Inca, this was the birthplace of their dynasty and the place of the creation of the sun and the moon. The Isla de la Luna is small. We climbed stone steps to Inak Uyu, a temple formerly dedicated to the moon and staffed entirely by women; and at the edge of ancient Inca agricultural terraces, we found a little bit of ... read more
Wash Day
Going Home

La Virgen Morena del Lago (the Dark Virgin of the Lake) lives in Copacabana, and she's responsible for the bizarre ritual of the Ch'alla. Immediately after the conquest Spanish treasure-seekers looted Inca temples around the lake, and priests destroyed any remaining shrines and idols, including a large female idol with a fish's tail at Copacabana. When subsequently a series of devastating frosts ruined crops, locals became convinced of the need for a new goddess and the town was rededicated in honour of the Virgen de la Candelaria; one of the most popular representations of the Virgin Mary during the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a local man of Inca heritage, noted that there was no image for the altar and set about producing one. His early efforts were rejected by Spanish priests, so ... read more
So much to choose from...
Candles, coins and virgins...
Rosettes, ribbons and champagne....

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » Coroico June 22nd 2014

It all started when a lorry driver brought them a monkey he'd run over. The owners of Sende Verde agreed to keep it, and now they have over four hundred animals, some rescued from illegal trafficking, some abandoned pets - all rescued from lives of misery. Visitors can see black spider, orange howler and capuchin monkeys at close quarters. Dangling from thin branches, bodies elongated, swinging hand over hand, snapping twigs, catapulting, somersaulting, scratching; the original bungy jumpers. Guests are discouraged from touching. 'We try to minimise contact with humans. 'Monkey parents' (human surrogates) get to touch, we don't', explained Jenny, a volunteer from Greece. Some monkeys are free to roam, others are caged, some tethered – depending on their psychological state. Watching two baby black spider monkeys play we can see why people find them ... read more
Red and Green Parrot
Blue and Yellow Macaw
Spider Monkey

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