Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The end

Well, the trip has come to an end. I am at the airport in Santiago waiting to board my plane to Buenos Aires and then home. I´m quite excited about getting home now. I am going to bore everyone with photos for HOURS! I hope you are prepared :)

The last couple of days have just been spent recovering yet again from some stomach troubles so nothing exceedingly exciting has been happening. I have been staying with Berni and Graeme which has been good though. It´s nice being able to relax and chat in the sun by the pool.

I have smuggled some bottles of wine into my big pack and I hope they aren´t going to take them off me when I arrive in NZ. I couldn´t stand it. They are really nice. I don´t see why they wouldn´t allow them in the country though.

Marty and Greg seem to be all good up in Mancora. Marty is over the moon being able to surf so much I think. I have had a few emails but haven´t been able to call them. I thnk the number I got was wrong.

Anyway, this trip has been amazing. I´m a bit pissed off that I was sick so much but there wasn´t much I could do about it. The trip to Peru went so fast I can´t believe it. It seems a bit like a dream now. It´s hard to believe we spent almost a month there. There were a lot of long bus trips though which consumed a lot of our time. But the 15 hour bus rides have made the 11 hour flight from Buenos Aires to Auckland seem super easy. 11 hours is nothing now. I think I will sleep most of the way anyway because I arrive at 4.30am (I have been awake at that time a lot recently) and then a flight from Ak to Welly a few hours afterwards. I hope there are no delays along the way because I haven´t actually left myself that much time.

Anyway, I better get going. Everything at the airport is stupidly expensive, including internet use. But I will see you all tomorrow! Wednesday does not exist for me at all.

The last goodbye,

Kerry :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

See, you never know!

La Posada, the hostel we are staying at in Mancora. I must get myself a hammock!

The fish we caught (not big but I don{t think they have size regulations over here)

A la calle, la Panamericana...

y en la playa....

The track to the thermal pools. Very rough!

Right, I have more photos. These will definitely be the last because I leave Mancora tonight. Actually there could be some randoms when I get to Stgo. I have a few days there.

Yesterday was didn{t go to plan but turned out to be cool anyway. We thought we{d go the thermal pools about 10km north of Mancora (why we would decide to do such a thing in 30 degree weather is beyond me but anyway) so we got in a mototaxi and headed in that direction.

We turned off the Panamerican onto a dirt road not far out of town and things got interesting. There has been so much rain here recently that the road was just thick mud and puddles. The little motos are pretty hardy but definitely not 4 wheel drive things. So we splashed and bobbed and rocked our way through some really bad parts, every so often getting out and pushing the thing when it couldn{t get any further. I thought we were going to tip over a number of times but we managed to stay upright.

About 10 mins into our exciting adventure (we really had no idea how far the road would go) we came across a man who signalled to us that we couldn{t go any further in the moto because the road was too bad so we all got out and deliberated about what to do.

An old man, Augustine, came passed and confirmed that the road was too bad to go by moto but it was walkable. 40 mins there and 40 back. In searing heat and mud. We talked to Augustine and the moto driver and his young son (I assume) for a while and then the moto driver said there was a "kind of zoo" in the house we were standing in front of. So we wandered in and met this slightly eccentric German woman, Heidi, who had a collection of parrots and makaws. Huge birds! And a squirrel as well. She had been at sea for 5 years with her husband (not sure what happened to him) and "could never go back to Germany". I didn{t ask why. It sounded a bit ominous. I like to think it is becuase she has fallen in love with her way of life in this tiny corner of Peru.

She also had some horses. The Old One and The Black One. The Black One was a 3 yr old stallion and he literally was jet black. So beautiful.. The Old One was crazy apparently but she rode them both (English style which is very uncommon in these parts!).

We headed back home and went for a swim and ate chocolate brownie sundaes in the sun. Later that night Marty and I went on a date. Just the two of us. It was really nice. Really good food and a really nice bottle of wine and he told me all the mischevious things he got up to as a child. I never realised! Maybe I shouldn{t have said that!

The boys are off at the beach but it is insanely hot today. 100% humidity and almost unbearable. I think I will have to jump in the sea but there{s been so much rain that the sea is brown and not particularly appealing! But I have to cool down somehow.

Anyway, I will see you all soon,

K x

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We went fishing this morning. Caught 6 fish, only one of which I can claim to be my own - I blame positioning. 4 cod, a leatherjacket (didn´t know you could eat them) and something that looks very similar to a terakihi. The fishermen kindly donated 1.5 conger eels (half was used as bait - very unsuccessfully) to the stash which I think we may discard. They don´t look too appetising! But it was good fun. We ate the 4 cod for lunch. Beautiful to have such fresh fish!

Last night we went out and played poker and had a few drinks. The rain started at dusk and didn´t abate until this morning. When we left the bar we were rushed home through mud only to find the gates of the hostel locked. We thought we´d climb the wall by our room but luckily there were still some people up (it wasn´t even midnight) so they let us in through a side door. That is a really pointless story.

A man at the hostel apparently got stung by a scorpion the other day and had to go to hospital. I haven´t seen any scorpions at all. I´d like to see4 one from afar. Found a gecko last night though which I got overly excited about, of course.

I am absolutely covered in mozzie bites and they´re driving me insane. In retrospect the cancellation of the jungle trip was probably a good idea. We saw a lot of people in Cusco who had just come from there and they were covered, head to toe, in enormous insect bites. Ugh. I dread to think of the itching.

Anyway, I think I´m going to head back to the hostel for a siesta. There probably won´t be anymore photos before I get back but you never know.


K x

Monday, February 18, 2008

A few more photos

The markets in Huarmey swarming with mototaxis. Funny little things.

A stall selling chicken complete with feet. They look like rubber chickens.

Ooohhh.... my little Lapiz! She is so adorable even if she is covered in fleas.

The raising of the tree in Puerto Huarmey.

The enormous waves at Tuquillo. I was a bit nervous about Greg being so close!

Ok, we have now reached another internet cafe where our hard drive works. We have been to approximately 8 different places and this was the only one that worked. And of course it is the furthest away.

We have changed hostels because the other one was pretty gross and our bathroom flooded instantly. We are now at a nicer one with a dirty pool and a kitchen. But it is still close to the beach.

The dolphins were beautiful. It was such a lovely way to wake up. It always astounds me how happy they are to be around humans. They truly do rule the world... "So long and thanks for all the fish!"

I have booked my bus back to Lima on the 21st and I can{t believe how little time I have left. It is going to be strange going home. I finally feel like I can relax here and it{s only for a few days.

I am going to have to go for another swim soon. It is rather hot. But I think the sea is a better option than the pool. And the water is so warm. This is the life!

Bye again,

Kerry x

Final destination

We made it. Mancora is like a tropical island. Palm trees, heat, sun, sand, surf and an odd man in a fluro green pair of tiny speedos - waxed and greased.

We got here yesterday and found ourselves a backpackers onthe beach. Marty inhaled a beer and then disappeared into the surf within half an hour of our arrival. Greg and I lounged and nursed our sunburn at the cafe on the beach front and gazed out at the blue sea. Greg is now also nursing his stomach as all the street food and dodgy water has caught up with him - I understand his pain and am thankful to be rid of it.

A beaming Marty returned and joined me (Greg had gone to sleep) for lunch and some refreshing beverages and then disappeared again to find out about long term rental of surfboards. It was siesta time for me.

Later we checked out the markets and bought a few odds and ends and indulged in some 2-handed 500 and a glass of wine. Marty got attacked by a large black beetle and nearly upended the table.

Ok, not much longer to write but this morning we got up early and went to the beach to find a huge podof dolphins frolicking with the surfers and catching some waves themselves. It was a pretty amazing sight.

Everyone is leaving so I better go.


K xx

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A whole new meaning for Arbor Day

¡Buenos tardes!

We are in Puerto Huarmey now. We arrived last night and have booked ourselves a bus to Mancora (damn near Ecuador) for tonight. Just another 15 hours. That is as far north as I shall make it. But it will be nice to relax on the beach for a few days (although I got burnt today... ugh).

Anyway, in Puerto Huarmey they have a tree festival every year. Marty was here when it happened in 2005 and we are lucky (?) enough to be here for the celebration this time as well. This morning some of the locals went and found a tree and dragged it down the road (there is really only one road here and it is made of dirt) behind a truck. They then proceeded to dig a hole in the middle of the road (literally) and plant the tree. It took quite a few men to get it in as it is a rather large tree. Marty, Greg and I all headed to the beach this morning (hence the sunburn) but now that we are back the whole tree is beautifully decorated with... wait for it... tupperware. Feom what I gather, the tree will remain there for the rest of the month and at the end, at about midnight, all the locals will take turns with the axe to cut it down. The person who delivers the final blow is given the honour of providing the tree for next year. What a reward!

I´m not sure of the significance of this tree. I shall ask Marty. Ok, it is really a tradition from Cajamarca up in the mountains. Apparently "it is just what they do" according to Marty. Maybe I will try and find out more.

The beach, Tuquillo, was really cool. Huge waves crashing over the rocks and from the beach there is just miles and miles of sand. For as far as the eye can see. Huge mountains ("big grains") of sand. It looks like we´re in the middle of a desert... oh, that´s right, we are. We have been in desert (minus our brief escapade to Cusco etc) since we left Santiago. But it´s bizarre to see the desert reach the sea. Quite an amazing sight. I will upload photos later as Marty is busy playing with the camera at present.

So, tonight we get on a super plush (Ormeños Royal Class... I´m hoping for a poker table) bus to Mancora. That will be my final destination, the furthest north I shall go, before I start the trip back to Santiago via bus, plane and train and home. These 2 months have gone so fast I can´t believe it.

Last night we had an audience of little kids who had never seen a gringo before hanging out outside the window of the restaurant we´re staying at. We were chatting with some locals and Marty was playing guitar. The kids were quite intrigued. This is not somewhere tourists normally go. We are off the beaten track, that´s for sure (although Puerto Huarmey is on the Flight Centre maps!).

I got to name a puppy last night. She is a stray but she hangs out in the restaurant. Her name is now Lápiz. It is Castellano for ´pencil´. She is so cute I want to take her home. She is only 6 months old.

Oh god my legs are burnt. I am going to be in agony. It was nice having a swim today though. It´s very hot up here. It´s going to be even hotter with 3rd degree burns. I need some milk of magnesia apparently or even just some cold tea. Ah, Greg has pawpaw cream. Maybe I can scab some off him. I don´t have anything in my (now extensive) first aid kit for sunburn. Silly.

Ok, time to go. Es la hora de cerveza, creo. Y hielo por la piernas. Very bad Spanish. I hope no native Castellano speakers read this. They would be appalled at me butchering their language!


Kerry x

Thursday, February 14, 2008

From top:
1. Before the mist cleared.
2. On the way to Aguas. You can see the shadows of the stairs on the walls.
3. climbing down from Waynapicchu.
4. Marty and I in front of MP.
5. Greg, Chris, Katharina, Marty and I in front of MP.
6. Looking down from the top of Waynapicchu
7. Marty having his shoes shined and sipping on a coffee when we first arrived in Cusco at 6amish.
8. Looking down from MP.
9. Street in Cusco.
10. Marty and I at the top of Waynapicchu as the mist cleared from MP in the background. Wow!

A long way from Arequipa

Man covered in shoelaces trying to sell them in Arequipa.

Faz, Katharina, Chris, me, Mairead, Greg and Marty in Bothy Hostel.

Restaurant in Arequipa

Spanish speaking bird in Aguas Caliente.

4am on the way to Machupicchu.

Well, there is a lot to say in this post seeing as we have been in at least 4 different places since the last time I wrote.

We took a really cheap bus to Cusco which was not such a good idea. It´s 10(ish) hours from Arequipa to Cusco and being an overnight bus I really wanted to sleep. Unfortunately there was no leg room and the windows didn´t close properly and at midnight, 3000 metres up, it is not warm. So I think all of us (Katharina, Chris, Marty, Greg and I) each got about an hours sleep and arrived in Cusco at 6 or 7am.

We got ourselves a hotel really cheaply from a woman at the bus station and lugged all our stuff back there and then headed out to book tickets to Aguas Calientes and Machupicchu (I keep finding new ways to spell these places. Machupicchu is right and Cusco is without a z). I was wrong before when I said that Ollaytantambo was the last stop before Machupicchu (which shall lovingly be known as MP from now on in this post), it is actually Aguas Caliente. So we booked a train for 6.50 the next morning.

We got some breakfast (which we think made Chris, Katharina and I sick) and wandered around for a bit. Having had no sleep though I was a tad grumpy so went home for a very early siesta.

That night we went out for a few drinks to Mama Africa but the dodgy food kicked in for me and I went home. I have been such a piker this trip. Stupid sickness.

So, the next morning I was feeling fine and we all wandered down to the train station and began our journey through the valleys of the Andes towards MP.

The train takes 4 hours (and is pretty expensive) to get to Aguas Calientes but the view is beautiful. A lot of farmland and enormous mountains and the Urubamba river following the train for a lot of the way. When we first left Cusco the train goes backwards and forwards up the first hill and then the same on the way down. It is quite bizarre. Rather than turning corners they just reverse onto the next bit of track. Chris and Katharina were really unwell on the trip. No fun being sick and travelling.

Anyway, we arrived in Aguas Calientes which was described in the Lonely Planet as the ugliest and most expensive town in South America so our expectations weren´t high. But once we got there and got ourselves a hostel we went for a wander (Chris and Katharina still weren´t well so stayed at the hostel) and it´s really not that bad. It´s tiny and it is very expensive because everyone who goes to MP has to go through there so they can get away with the extortionate prices but it´s quite amazing because on all sides of the town (it´s really just 3 streets going up a hill and a train station and lots of restaurants) there are looming, vertical cliffs. It looks as though it is completely enclosed. It´s quite a daunting feeling being that encapsulated in the Andes.

The restaurant staff are relentless. They will see you sitting down and eating at the restaurant next door and as soon as you leave they yell, "Pizza? Pizza? Come and eat here! Just a drink!?" and it goes on as you pss every restaurant. It´s crazy. Or they hear you say, "No, thanks, I´ve eaten" at one place and the next people will still ask. Crazy. It would drive me insane after more than a few days. Someone said you need a t-shirt with¨"No, gracias" on it for Cusco. The same goes for Aguas Calientes but I think it would need to be a big flashing neon light.

We booked our ticket for MP and decided that the best (well, the most rewarding/exciting) option would be to get up at 4am and walk from the town to the ruins. Marty had done this last time and said that it wasn´t that difficut and it was only about an hour. An hour up rugged stairs. Chris and Katha decided to get the bus at 5.30 and meet us up there if they were feeling better that morning.

Up we got at 4am and got all our stuff ready. Off we tottered in the pitch blackness on the road beside the Urubamba. We got to the entrance, showed our tickets and were let loose upon the hill. The staris are just rocks most of the way. Not stairs like I had imagined and it was really tough going. Marty and Greg being insanely fit and healthy seemed to be OK but I struggled. It just seemed like an endless uphill battle. But halfway up we stopped and admired the emerging light over the cloud filled valleys and that was amazing.

We finally got to the top just before 6am. and there were a few people around. The actual ruins didn´t open til 6 so we sat for a few minutes to catch our breath. The whole hill was covered in mist giving the impression that the ground wasn´t very far below. We started walking around a bit and we decided to walk up Waynapicchu, the big hill at the far end of all the famous photos of MP. The sign at the entrance said the walk was only for the fit and healthy... my heart dropped. But I hadn´t gone all that way to wimp out. So we started up the next mountain. That walk was even rougher than the walk from Aguas so by the time we reached the top (another hour later) I was ready to cry. By it was well worth the pain (that pain is still lingering in my calves 4 days later!).

It was still cloudy when we got to the top but while we were sitting up there MP emerged from the mist and it was one of the most amazing things I´ve ever seen. There are no rails or barriers anywhere at the site and Waynapicchu is 2,634m up. The contructions (god knows how they built them) literally just fall away to nothing. 634m straight down to the river. Nothing to break your fall.

The climb back down is almost as difficult as the one up and slightly more scary as you can see the nothingness below. We walked around for about 6 hours altogether and by the end of it we were knackered. The last part of the trip we went to the Inca Bridge which we weren´t planning to do but I´m so glad we did. It´s spectacular. A tiny narrow track that loks like it´s glued the the side of an emormous vertical cliff face. I can´t believe they used it as a regular track. They must have lost a lot of people to the Urubamba below!

To be brief, it was beyond words. The perfect construction of all the buildings at the site is just unbelievable. I keep imagining the first Inca to have arrived there and upon reaching the top (of MP let alone Waynapicchu) saying, "Right guys, this looks like a good spot. Go and grab those enormous stones and start building temples". Mind blowing.

Marty, Greg and I couldn´t face walking back down from MP so we got a bus and all instantly fell asleep (it´s only 10 mins to Aguas). Katha and Chris walked down because they hadn´t walked up and we all regouped in Aguas and boarded the train back to Cusco.

I slept for some of the trip but towards the end, on the way down the hill to Cusco doing the backwards/forwards thing again, I joined a converstaion that Marty and Greg and an Australian with a very large camera had started with a very interesting American living in Costa Rica. He was talking about his work as a psychiatrist and the problems with drugs and the laws surrounding them.

We got back to Cusco and had some food before heading back to the same hotel. We all passed out I think we were so exhausted from the day´s hike. And all very smelly as well. A shower was a pleasant relief!

The next day we booked a bus to Lima (a comfy one this time!) for that night. We wandered around the city a bit more and took some photos. It started raining so we holed up in a funny little cafe full of kids´toys and had a bit of food before the 18 hour bus ride. Kath and Chris had left for Puno that morning so we had bid our farewells and swapped contacts etc. It had been really good travelling with them.

Although the bus was comfy, the road most definitely was not. I didn´t sleep much on that bus either. Most of the road was unpaved and it went from 3300m at Cuso up to 4300m and then down to sea level. My ears were quite sore and it sounded ike I was talking underwater by the time we arrived in Nasca. We didn´t stop there as we decided it was better to spend an extra day in Puerto Huarmey where Marty spent 5 months on his last trip over here. We drove straight over one of the Nasca Lines and the English couple, Faz and Mairead had emailed and said it was spectacular but also one of the most terrifying trips they´ve ever been on. So we gave it a miss.

Now we´re in Lima and are staying with Jordana and her mum. We caught up with Faz and Mairead briefly last night and had a few beers and some food with them but they were heading to Cusco today so it was fairly short lived.

I have now been in this internet cafe for 3 hours and I think I should leave. My back is sore and I´m a bit peckish. But that is a ´brief´ rundown of what we´ve been up to for the past week. It has been an exciting one!

Hope everyone is well. I can´t believe I only have about 12 days before I head back to NZ. The time has gone so fast!

See you all soon,

Kerry x

Friday, February 8, 2008

Adios Arequipa

Today we are leaving for Cuzco - Urubamba - Machu Picchu. I´m not sure how long it´s going to take to get to those three places because it all depends on whether we can get tickets or not. I have heard that the best time to go to Machu Picchu is early in the morning so we may be getting a 5.30am train from Aguas Calientes to the site. It would be amazing to see the sun rise up there. I just hope that it is clear weather but at this time of year it is doubtful.

Cuzco is meant to be chaos. People swarming you (we are quite obvious gringos!) trying to sell postcards and other useless wares. Everyone I´ve spoken to who has been there has said it is just relentless harassment. So we are going to try and avoid it on the way there and go straight to Urubamba which is meant to be beautiful and much quieter. It is also closer to Machu Picchu. From there it is a short bus trip to Ullataytamba (no idea how to spell that), the last bus stop before the train ride to the ruins.

We have met a Greman couple (actually we met them in Arica and have travelled with them since) who I think will be doing the same journey but may stay in Cuzco for a night. It is one of the nice things about travelling - meeting people who are on the same mission and also just as lost. Katharina and Chris flew straight into Arica and are starting their trip in Peru. There was an English couple we met in Arica as well who we caught up with again in Arequipa but they have since headed to Nazca and Lima. I don´t think our paths will cross with them again but you never know on this continent.

We have met some very odd people as well. Some eccentric, Jos in Arica was a bit of a character. He had been living in and around Arica (although originally from Holland) for quite some time running a hostel and a restaurant. Arica wasn´t the most fascinating place so I can now understand why he is like he is. He had disturbingly long fingernails though and he was so weathered to the Chilean desert that the skin on his legs was like snake skin. Very strange. But he was nice and happy and a good laugh to have around.

Some of the people that Greg and I met in Mendoza got a bit much after even a couple of days. Harry from Australia who was living in Majorca running a strip club who seemed a tad full of himself and incredibly opinionated. Bras (Dutch again) was lovely but got angry with an American guy, Jeff(?), because he wouldn´t stop talking. One of those people who are overly enthusiastic about EVERYTHING and never stops talking. And a lovely English girl, Fi, who was really good value.

We´re heading out to get coffee from a place that the English couple recommended and then for a bit more of a tour around town. I want to buy a ring (have bought a lot of stuff since I´ve been in Arequipa) and have a look at a few other places. Mainly Volcan Misti and possibly the river. Our bus doesn´t leave until 8.30 so we have a little while to wait. The boys have gone to buy tickets.

I really like the hostel here. Bothy Hostel. It´s really relaxed and friendly and I found out that from everything we pay for they donate some of it to help Peruvian kids in need. I thnk that´s relaly cool.

They put on a BBQ for us all last night with sangria included and took us out to a bar, Deja Vu afterwards. I was exhausted so most of us went home at about midnight but Greg stayed out and when he got back to the hostel no one was there to open the door for him and it was padlocked from the inside so Chris couldn´t let him in. He ended up having to climb up over the wall and through a window in order to get in. Ha!

Ok, I better go. The boys will be back soon.

K x

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back on the road

Right, I have returned to the trip now. I flew up to Arica this morning. The shuttle picked me up at 5am - a highly uncivilised time - to be at the airport by 6.20. It only takes half an hour to get there. Silly. And I couldn´t sleep on the flight because there was a Mormon (actually lots of them on the flight) constantly banging the back of my seat. I wanted to punch him.

But it is good to be up and running again. I´m disappointed that I missed San Pedro de Atacama but I think it was wise to get my health back on track before continuing. It just means we will have to come back again at a later date.

Arica... I don´t really know what to say about it. I have never seen so much sand in my entire life. And the whole journey from La Serena is the same. Just undulating mounds of sand. Just to put that into perspective, the bus rom La Serena to Arica is about 20 hours non stop. It just seems endless. However, I am pleased with my decision to fly here rather than bus. I don´t care how comfy the seats are, 20 hours is a lot. I think we have a few more bus rides like that to come. Cuzco to Lima is 25 hours. Hopefully we can break it up a bit.

Marty and I went for a walk down to the beach today. The pelicans were having a feast on some unknown fish. There were other creatures involved in the frenzy but we couldn´t make out what they were. They kept sticking their heads out of the water but the were too far away to identify. I figure they were either seals (lobos del mar), otters or turtles. I will have to make enquiries as to what they could be.

The pelicans are spectacular birds. Enormous! It was really relaxing watching them playing in the waves and having a munch. I can´t get over their beaks!

We´re heading to Arequipa tomorrow morning. Will stay there for a few days to accustom ourselves to the altitude (2300m) and then to Cuzco (3300m) and Machu Picchu (2500m). I´m a little bit nervous about altitude sickness but I keep thinking of Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Mt Everest. If he can make it to 8848m, I can bloody well do 3300m! It will not beat me! The human body is surprisingly hardy.

Anyway, the blog will be attended to more regularly again now. It had been a bit neglected.

Hasta luego!

K :)
Head pelican banquet at the banquet

Cor, crikey! What a cheeky bugger!

Difficult to see but massive sand dunes behind Arica. They surround the city.

Me admiring the pelicans and trying to figure out what the mystery creatures are.

¿Blog con agregado señor?

Hola todo el mundo!

This is a little interlude into Kerry´s blog from myself, Don Martin de la Sierra.

As the last week has been a brotherly one and the majority of images revealed are from our vast travels through the plain, yet amazing landscapes of northern Chile, the author shall I be (under close guard from Doña Kerry de la Selva).

Although at only two and a half thousand metres above sea level, upon arrival at the highly sought after village of San Pedro de Atacama (for it´s geographical position), Gregorio (aka Joaquin, although he seems to come up with a new name in each village, for reasons that he may divulge later) and myself suffered light altitude sickness although only in the form of headaches. Chewing coca leaves with bicarbonate soda and some rest had us ready for hikes up dunes and sand boarding the next day.
What to say about sandboarding? Ridiculously fun in that, being kiwis, we set about trying to go as fast and do as big a jumps as possible. Much to the delight of the local sandboarders. Flying Gringos with no landing gear, say no more.

Valle de la Luna. Yet another magical spot in this continent. One of those places where being there and the feeling that comes with it are far failed by my words. Massive, impressive landscapes full of colours and textures that never cease to amaze and seem to surround the small village of San Pedro in some sort of motherly fashion. Snow capped volcanoes reach up from arid plains that themselves stretch out into salt flats as far as the eye can see. True to it´s name, ´The valley of the moon´, this place follows in suit with the surrounding landscapes and blows Joaquin and I away.
Adelante a Arica y Peru!
Nos vemos dentro de poco,
Don Martin de la Sierra
Dusty streets of San Pedro.
La plaza principal de San Pedro de Atacama
The dunes. Large and very steep.

View from Valle de la Muerte to the mountains with the village of San Pedro de Atacama in between.
Landscapes of Valle de la luna.

Friday, February 1, 2008

On the mend

Ugh, it has been a rough couple of days.

I'm back in Santiago again. Marty and Greg are in San Pedro de Atacama. We got to La Serena and stayed one night. the next morning we got a bus through Valle de Elqui but I got really sick again so decided it was best for me to come back here and get over this stupid sickness before I carry on. I couldn't face a 16 hour bus ride into the middle of the desert feeling like I was.

Valle de Elqui was beautiful though. There are huge dusty hills on either side of the narrow road and at the bottom (and part way up these hills) there are lush vineyards. It is a bizarre sight to see arid land and then across the fence vibrant green plants. The vineyards in the valley are not for producing wine but instead it is made into pisco in Vicuna. The Capel 'brewery' is there and Capel pisco seems to be the most readily available form of the drink. And it's dirt cheap. Around $6NZ for close to a litre.

In Montegrande (almost at the end of the valley) we stopped and Marty and Greg sampled some of the local fare. Pisco Sours and a natural beer, Die M, from Valdivia in the south of Chile. I, unfortunately, was limited to water and buscopina drops to ease chronic stomach cramps and some unnamed herbal tea. I am looking forward to the day I can eat a proper meal and indulge in a glass of local wine. If I have to eat much more dry bread or plain rice I may cry.

Today i am feeling better though. My appetite is back and my mood is brighter. Things are starting to look up again. I'm trying to book a flight to Arica to meet up with Marty and Greg on Tuesday but I'm having internet issues. I just hope they don't sell out.

Anyway, I better get going. I will try and upload photos at a later date. This computer is having issues.


K xx

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Solomente fotografia

Just some more graffiti from around Valpo. There are a few more bits and pieces I want to photograph befpre we leave tomorrow but time is running out. There is a vege cafe, the one with the blended sangria, that has a mosaic´d mannequin which is very cool.

I can´t believe this is our last day. I got over my sickness for a few days and then it came back so I have been taking it easy for a while now. Am being very careful about what I eat just to get over it.

From here we head back to Santiago for a few days. Marty and Graeme want to have a jam and hopefully record some stuff before we take off. Then it´s up to La Serena for a few days and then to San Pedro de Atacama in the desert. Hopefully we´ll get to some of the salt lakes and see some flamingoes. If we can we´ll go over to Bolivia but it might be too difficult. If not it will be straight to Cuzco and Machu Picchu to battle the altitudes of the Andes.

Ok, going to book some buses now.


K xx

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Been a while

Man, dog and goose (and Greg) that were wandering through the central streets of Mendoza.

Last night on our street in the full moon (with my new jacket!)

There´s no such thing as a tying post in Pichilemu. They just tie the horses legs together!

Poker with stones. We forgot to bring the matches with us to Pichilemu so Marty and I rumaged on the ground searching for enough little pebbles for all 5 of us. We looked a bit odd :)

Looking down our street at the full moon.

On the way to Mendoza. About 2000m up in the Andes. That is the road weaving in and out in figue 8s. It was bloody terrifying! On the way back the bus was over taking trucks on these corners!

Argentina but still in the Andes.

Sunset in Casablanca on the way back to Valpo

More Andean rocks...

A piece of graffiti close to our house. I now have hundreds of photos of all the cool bits and pieces. A lot of stencils as well.


Back in Valpo now. It`s our last week here. Will be quite sad to leave really. I love this place.

I have been walking around Cerro Alegre (where we live) and Cerro Concepcion taking photos of all the graffiti. Some of it is amazing. It`s just a pity that you get all the little punks going and tagging crap over a lot of them. Hopefully we`ll get big copies of some of the photos to put up at home.

I feel like I have been travelling non stop for the past month. And in between each trip I come back here which is probably a bit silly. I was thinking about going to Colchagua Valley tonight but I`m exhausted and think I will just have a relaxing time and absorb all the wonderful things about Valpo.

We`re having a party this weekend for all hte people in Marty, Tim and Courts` classes. Should be fun. I don`t think much has been organised so far. I`m going to try and make empanadas (the empanadas in Pichilemu were to die for!) and the other night we went to a vege restaurant, Ritual, that had a drink similar to sangria but blended. So we might make some of that as well. Cerro Alegre has a lot of vege restaurants. It`s strange because they seeem to be the only ones in the whole of South America. Ritual even had soy meat! That`s unheard of!

Pichilemu was so cool. It is how I imagined most of South America to be. Well, the smaller towns at least. It is mostly dirt roads and taxis are a horse and cart during summer. As far as Chile goes it`s pretty cheap as well.

When we first arrived I was still feeling a bit dodgy and had to watch everyone else eating these amazing looking empanadas that we crammed full of yummy stuff. It was torture! But the next day I was there in a flash. Oh so good! I am bringing the recipe to NZ. Really it is just a South American pie but mmmmm.... so full of cheese!

we went on a horse ride in Pichilemu which was fun. I did feel a bit sorry for the horses but they seemed happy enough. We all went galloping along the beach (unguided - they are quite lax over here) and Greg managed to take his horse right out into the waves. I thought the horse was going to fall over but it managed to keep it`s balance. It´s pretty rough riding. There´s no luxuries in the saddle. It´s basically just a bit of metal in the vague shape of a saddle with an entire sheepskin covering it. The horses had chains as bits and the stirrups were held on by rope. The horses are really lovely. A lot of solid, stocky horses. Typical western style.

We got a horse and cart down to the beach that day. It was a lot of fun. There was a little girl playing with a ball in the middle of the road and she must have lost control of it. It rolled towards the horses and the driver steered them up onto the footpath but the ball got caught under the wheel of the cart and popped. The look on the girl`s face was priceless. She was pretty unhappy but I have to admit it was quite funny!

Anyway, I think we´re going to get going soon. Maybe go to a different vege restaurant tonight. We´ve been playing a lot of poker (I am useless!) so maybe we´llhave another game of that tonight as well.

Thanks for commenting!

Talk soon,

Kerry x