After 8.5 months and 13 countries, today is the day I fly out of Lima and spend 47 hours on 3 different planes and in numerous airport terminals making my way to family and friends for a month in Bali.
It’s definitely not been one of those “finding myself” trips – in fact, I managed to lose money, clothes, brain cells, dignity and I’m sure a whole lot more along the way – though it has been the time of my life. Food, sights, parties, activities, adventures and most of all amazing new friends.
I’d like to thank the following (in order of appearance) – it wouldn’t have been the same without you…
- Mumsy – because for every one of my achievements, she deserves a little thanks.
- LBi – for paying me far too much money, which meant that I could be job free, budget free and worry free for 9 months.
- The Advertising Industry – for making it so easy to leave.
- Kel / Payno – for being the worlds best cousin and travel buddy I could ask for. This trip wouldn’t have started nor have been as amazing without you. Also, for patching me up after the knife accidents, kicked toes, splinters and all of the other various injuries.
- Liam – for everything. Especially for putting up with me for almost every second of everyday for close to six months. Not so much for the beard.
- Lee / Pinhead – for being the best friend a girl could hope for and someone that would fly all the way to Guatemala just to surprise a friend in the middle of nowhere. For staying just as close even though you’re a world away.
- The Germans – for being so awesome, friendly and fun they went from travel acquaintances to life long friends in a few short weeks.
- Josh / Puppy – for being one of the most best guys I have ever met. Remember that I still own you and you only left because I let you go.
- Mark and Grace – for being you. For being the instigators. For being such good winners and losers at cards. Especially (SORRY) FOR PARTY ROCKIN.
- Wes – for being a major babe and brilliant person to boot.
- Petey – for being the best dive buddy I could hope for. Also, you have a sandy clam.
- Tehmani – for the girl talks.
- The Colombian Coffee Growers – for nothing.
- Lyne and Mark – for being such avid readers of the blog. You probably won’t have a clue what Liam’s doing for the next month… unless he needs money.
- Diazepam – for making travel and transit that little bit easier
- To each and every country – for being amazing in your own unique way.
- My stubbornness – for making me keep this blog so I can remember my trip when I’m old, gray and losing my marbles. Come to think of it, where did I put those?
That’s it. That’s all.
Liam and I have spent the last few days exploring Arequipa, which is basically a smaller version of Cusco but with some beautiful snow capped mountains in the background. We also headed out to the Colca Canyon, apparently the worlds second deepest (deeper than the Gran Canyon) and about 6 hours drive outside of Arequipa. A lot of people do the hike down into the canyon and back up again, but we didn’t have time as I needed to be back in Lima (ermm…and we’re lazy). We spent the afternoon wandering around town and checked out a lookout down into the canyon. It’s a very beautiful place, though I think we’re getting a little jaded towards the end of our time in South America… the dead giveaway would be seeing the second deepest canyon in the world and saying “Yeah. It’s nice. So… what now?”. It was definitely worth the trip though.
Yesterday was a fairly epic mission from the canyon back to Arequipa and then last night we jumped on yet another bus (my last!) back to Lima. Two days until I’m on a plane to Bali and Nem hits the coast to find some waves for a month until we both head back up to Mexico.
Arica, to be completely honest, is a bit of a hole. We wandered around today, checked out a body boarding comp and a 21 de Mayo parade… not a lot going on in this city. Tomorrow we’re out of here and spending the day traveling up to Arequipa in Peru where we’ll hopefully do a trek in the Colca Canyon and make the most of the 6 days (!) that I have left.
Adios Chile, you expensive minx. It’s been fun. See you when I come back down for Patagonia.
We’ve spent the last few days doing a whole lot of not much. Turns out Chile has decent supermarkets so we’ve made a few good meals, even a cheese platter and red wine (though I’m sorry to report that we couldn’t find haloumi). Nem’s been for a few surfs and we’ve been chilling out mucho.
The highlight so far has been a local football match that we went to this afternoon – Iquique vs. Arica – complete with anthems, yellow cards, red cards, fights, last minute goals and riot police. Good fun and, to top it all off, Iquique won.
Tomorrow we’re off to Arica – a smaller surf town about 5 hours up the coast from here. A few nights there, over the border and into Peru for a few nights in Arequipa and then off to Lima to fly out to Bali.
P.s – haven’t taken any photos so stole one from Google. Just pretend it’s mine and don’t tell the photographer because I doubt its Creative Commons. Gracias!
We’ve spent the last two days hanging out in San Pedro de Atacama, a cute little Chilean town close to the Bolivian border. Yesterday we went to Laguna Cejar, some swimming holes about 20km outside of the town with a salt concentration of 28%, which means that you float without even trying. You come out and instantly dry with a layer of salt all over your body. Delicious.
We also headed to anther sink hole filled with freezing cold water and then another huge lake that’s only about 5cm deep with a thick layer of salt on the bottom, which means that the reflection kind of makes it look like you’re walking on water. The sunset there was pretty spectacular with the last light shining on the volcanoes and mountains behind the lake.
This afternoon we’re off to a city called Iquique, which look like the Gold Coast (boooooo) but is supposed to have some good surf. Apparently the swell is going to be 6 or so meters so not sure if Liam will be in there or watching happily from the sidelines with me.
We’ve just made our way into Chile after 2.5 days on the Salt Flats of Uyuni. I actually didn’t think we’d make it through the first day – for some reason we thought it would be a terrible idea to sleep before our 6.50am flight from La Paz, so we partied the night away and said goodbye to our travel buddy Pete for the last time this trip. Big mistake. Bleary eyed and sleepless, we somehow made it to freeeeeeeezing cold Uyuni with very sore heads and a very cold toes.
We pushed through the first morning (though I may have been in a terrible mood – “Oh yeah. Old trains. Great. Lets go.”) but things got better as the day went on. We checked out the Salt Flats where Bolivians exports however many tens of thousands of tonnes of salt every year and then drove a bit further out onto the plains where we had lunch – I literally asked if there was any salt I could put on my meal, duh. After that we made out way to this little hill type thing covered in cacti, some over 900 years old, surrounded by the bright white salt desert and then onto our hotel for the night which was made entirely of salt.
The next day, feeling a lot fresher after going to bed at 7.30pm, we checked out more parts of the desert. Lakes, rock formations, more lakes and more rock formations (Liam even managed to find some barrels in them), flamingos, half rabbit/squirrels that came to munch on some pasta as we had lunch. Finished up playing Gin Rummy with the 60-somethings from our group and in bed by 8.30.
This morning it was up at 5am to see the Geysers spewing out sulfur steam and bubbling mud. I bailed to the car because it was about -1 degrees and I couldn’t feel my ears but Nem managed to get some good photos and not fall in to the pits. After that it was off to some thermal baths (amazing and, more importantly, warm) and then onto Chile.
We’re only going to spend a week or so here as I have to be up in Lima and the cost of this place is a bit of a shock to the system after months of cheap living, especially in Bolivia and Peru.
Over and out.
P.s- happy belated Mothers Day to our Mumsies. We love you mucho.
We’ve just made it back from three days in Potosi, an area heading into (but not quite the thick of) the Bolivian Jungle. I can’t really be bothered to be too descriptive right now… the altitude back here in La Paz is killing me, so here are the highlights:
- Flying in a small death canister right next to the snow capped peaks that surround La Paz
- Having an awesome German chick called Brita as the other third of our group. Legend.
- Spotting mucho animals on the boat ride to our lodge – some kind of wombat / rat, crocodiles, birds, monkeys and pink dolphins
- Waking up to the sound of Howler Monkeys. Jurassic Park eat your heart out.
- Anaconda hunting in gumboots through swamps, though no actual anacondas (wrong time of year)
- Piranha fishing… Nem and I managed to catch a stick each. The guide got all of the piranhas.
- Crocodile hunting at night. So many hidden and only spotted by the torchlight in their eyes.
- Swimming with pink dolphins in the very same river that we were spotting crocodiles in the night before. One came up to play with me. I definitely squealed and may have kicked it in the head… it didn’t come back to play again.
- Great guides and cooks.
- The mosquito bites are definitely not a highlight but so extreme they deserve a mention.
For some reason all of Bolivia seems to be striking and blocking the roads for various reason and we don’t want to risk being stuck again, so tomorrow we fly to a town called Uyuni to and head out for three days on a tour of the Salt Flats, finishing up down in Chile, the last of the new SA countries before heading back up to Lima and out to Bali.