Hi anyone who’s still following us after not writing for a couple of months! We are now in Germany. I’m going to try to pick up where we left off…
So we went to Samaipata and camped for a week. It was nice enough, sort of reminded me of NZ but not as cool. We ended up leaving a bit early and heading Santa Cruz because we heard it was going to rain heaps which isn’t fun in a tiny tent. So we headed to our final South American destination (technically) where we had to stay for a week coz we were flying out from there. It was a really weird big dirty smelly hot city, I wouldn’t recommend it. Our flight from Bolivia to London took 2 days…we had a connecting flight in Argentina which was cancelled so technically we’ve been to Buenos Aires as we were put up in a hotel in the city for 4 hours (so generous). We did finally make it to London despite thinking we may be stuck in Argentina for ever.
WOW sorry that was a really depressing paragraph! But that’s how it was, our last two weeks in South America were pretty average, but I suppose that made breaking-up a bit easier, and also the rad times far out-weighed the crappy times.
We hired a car for the 2 1/2 weeks we had in the UK, and as soon as we jumped in and started driving, big grins spread across our faces. Aaah the Western world, it’s not that we didn’t enjoy our time in South America, but it felt like coming home. The countryside was so lovely and all the houses matched with their cute window-boxes and manicured gardens. It took a while for speaking English to people we didn’t know to come naturally, and it felt like such a luxury to be able to make small-talk to the lady at the supermarket checkout! …haha and it took me weeks to feel ok about flushing loo paper down the toilet again. We traveled through Wales, Scotland and England, and marveled at the age of the uk; we stayed in a house from the 1600’s…that’s crazy old for us folk from New Zealand!! I was also pretty stoked about seeing so many castles. We really liked staying in Bath with its cobbled streets and pretty buildings…and good cafes (that’s the main thing after all). Our time in the UK was mainly spent wandering small beautiful towns, drinking lots of beer and cider, and catching up with family friends. It was also great to have been able to get a feel for where some of the ancestors are from.
We arrived in Germany at the end of August and have been based in Hamburg, staying with Hannah, Thomas and Otis. It’s been really lovely having time to just hang out with these guys after wizzing around the UK, and being able to get to know Oti properly; he’s pretty cool if I may say so myself. Ma and Pa were over for a couple of weeks too and it was great to all hang out together. Hamburg is a rad city with heaps of big trees and over-grown side-walks and about a million parks, lots of cool graffiti, cafes, and pretty much everyone rides bikes. I think NZ is really behind when it comes to biking – here they actually have a special lane on the footpaths just for bikes, and you don’t have to wear a helmet. We had a tourist day and took a boat ride up some of the canals and visited st. Nikolai cathedral which was bombed during a raid in the war by the allies. Half of it was destroyed and has been left like that as a memorial for those killed, and was a pretty powerful reminder that their really aren’t “goodies” and “badies” in war.
Me and Dave went to Berlin for a few days, visiting a Jewish Memorial and museum, and taking a walking tour of the city. I guess I’m a bit stupid but I didn’t realise how recently the wall was taken down and how crap it was for so many people up until so recently. We met up with our German friends Martin and Anke who we met in Ecuador and travelled a bit with (and did the Santa Cruz trek with in Peru) there too and went to a great flea market in a cool smaller part of town. By the way, there are awesome flea markets in Germany.
A couple of weeks ago we went on a wee road trip with Martin, Anke, and their friend Jack . We drove round in a camper van and made our way down to Switzerland stopping in different wee towns along the way. It was heaps of fun. We made bonfires on the lakefront in Budensee, went swimming in the river in Bern, Switzerland, and also biked around the beautiful town which the river looped around. In Titisee we ate so much cured and smoked meat and cheese and drank lots of beer and honey liquor. It was really picturesque with those houses with roofs that go nearly to the ground, and cute wee gardens. AND Dave bought (for his birthday) a Swiss army knife FROM ACTUAL SWITZERLAND!!
In the weekend we went with Hannah, Thomas and Otis down south somewhere cute to a wine region and stayed there for the weekend with their friends. It’s “new wine” season which is where they make wine which is only fermented for maybe 2 or 3 days so it’s quite sweet and cloudy and can be a bit fizzy depending on how long its left, and is around 8%. You buy it in a quarter or half litre tumbler and it’s delicious! We also tried yum German dished, mostly meaty goodness, and ate roast Chestnuts. Then we collected some and brought them back with us and roasted them in the oven last night, we felt so old-timey.
We’re off to see Rens and Rob (who we meet in Ecuador) in Amsterdam tomorrow, yussss. It’s my birthday today and I’ve had a great time drinking coffee and eating cake and generally being spoiled. It’s very autunmy here now – the trees are changing and it’s getting chilly, I’d love to be here in winter time when it gets properly cold!
If you’ve made it all the way through this mammoth post – ka pai.
See you in 2 weeks xox
Ps. We may put some photos up once we’re back from Holland.
Hi anyone who’s still following us after not writing for a couple of months! We are now in Germany. I’m going to try to pick up where we left off…
woa so it´s been, what, about some weeks or something? We´ve been having some cool as adventures and misadventures and some beautifully lazy times too. Bolivian internet is pretty slow so I´m not going to attempt to upload photos until we´re in England…possibly. Also, on a downer note, our harddrive was wiped of all of our Peru and Ecuador photos, as well as some from La Paz, so hopefully when we´re home we can recover them somehow…so I´m a bit hesitant to do anything with the hard drive til we´re at a good computer.
Aaaaaanywho, enough of that!! So from where we left off we took a tiny plane from the heights of La Paz to the little Amazonian town of Rurrenabaque, 40mins flight north of La Paz. We booked in a 3 day tour of the Pampas and it was INCREDIBLE!!! We had a 3 hour bumpy jeep ride with our awesome guide and 4 other people who were also great – a german couple who were all about conspiraceys, suffice to say many a night was spent listening to Yosef´s take on the world, very interesting!! Sam, you would have LOVED it! And also two girls from Korea who were pretty great too. So, at the end of the jeep ride we arrived at the river and boarded a long small boat, and our adventure began! Everything was exactly as you´d imagine the Amazon to be, with trees somehow growing out of a few metres of water, the driver manouvering the little boat through sectret openings in the bush, and dangling our feet in the water. We saw squirrel monkeys, sooooo cute, and howler monkeys that sounded like aeroplanes as they started up early in the mornings in the trees over our cabins which were perched on the few bits of dry land within the river. Dave went for a wee walk in the trees just by our cabins and found a whole monkey party, it was sooo cool. We also saw a few Caiamains (fresh water crocodiles) who decided to sunbathe right beside the cabin, they weren´t small either!! We saw lots of crazy birds, some were super huge with those big neck things and some birds that were kinda like pretty chicken tree birds that made funny sounds, and some turtles. I think the highlight for me was swimming in the Amazon (kinda freaky coz you can´t actually see anything) with pink river dolphins. Dave, Yosef and I were in there for a about 40 mins, and Dave and Yosef were lucky enough for the dolphins to actually play with them, they would swim under them and bump there legs (Dave thinks one of them actually bit his foot too) and jump around and stuff, pretty awesome and also a little bit scary. Oh and the theory is that when pink river dolphins are around there aren´t any Caimans or other deadly things coz they´re scared of them…or something. Also we went Piraña fishing, we all actually caught one, and dave even got bitten, that´s right, in the Amazon, Dave was bitten by a deadly Piraña. True story. And then we ate them, so haha.
Yep so that was sooooo great, our favourite experience in South America so far.
After getting back to La Paz we headed to Tupiza where we met up with Gina and Eden (I went to school with Gina for about a year, but hadn´t seen her for 10 years) and together we went off on a 4 day tour of the salt flats and surrounding areas. It was super awesome that we ended up all wanting to do this tour at the same time coz they were totally awesome and made the trip even better. I´m sure most of you have seen the photos on facebook of the salt flats, if not get someone to show you. The trip was great but also pretty intense coz of the massive distances you travel each day, but the scenery was amazing (broooo can´t you use a different word for once? No i can´t, i just don´t have the vocab) so many colours in the hills and lakes, reds, blues, pinks, yellows, because of the mineral rich environment. Yep, so we saw heaps of cool stuff, and stuff. It was pretty freezing at the places we stayed at night coz of the altitude and lack of any kind of insulation, and snow. But the last night we got to stay in a ¨hotel¨ (haha hotel, you wish you could call yourself that) made out of salt which was pretty cool. Poor Dave had reaaaally bad food poisoning the third day and had to spend the whole day bumping round in the back of a jeep, but luckily he was all better by the last day. The salt flats themselves were totally crazy and massive and there were natural hexagon patterns all over the flats. There´s a random cactus Island in the middle from where we saw the sunrise oooohhh.
Yea, so after that we were in need of some relaxing and headed to Sucre where we´ve been now for 9 days. It´s been swell, we´ve pretty much just been sleeping in, going and getting coffee, wandering, getting lunch, then heading back to the lovely B&B and reading books in the sun, then watching cable in bed at night time. Sooooo great. Haha shame. It´s a very pretty colonial town with lots of white wash buildings, and although still around 3000 metres, pretty warm during the day.
Tonight we head to a wee town called Samaipata where we´ll stay for 9 days, hopefully camp and swim in the river and eat good fruit (there probably won´t be much internet round there so don´t worry if you don´t hear much from us). Then we head to Santa Cruz for a couple of days (Haha we´ve decided to splurge ($36 hux) and are going to be staying in a hotel with a pool, yea roy!) from where we´ll fly out to LOOOONDOOOOOON. Chea, two more weeks in South America, Craaaazaaay.
So yeap, that´s us mas o menos.
Love you all very much and thinking of ya´ll xox
Jess and Dave
This will be brief because this internet cafe smells really bad
We went to Puno right near lake Titicaca (the highest lake in the world, maybe, and really huge) on the Peruvian side and went on an awesome boat ride to the floating islands of Uros. They are made out of Totora and from what we could understand the people originaly made them to run away from those gosh darn Incans. The islands were really springy to walk on coz they´re just made from about 3 metres of reeds all piled on top of each other. It was such a lovely sunny day and we didn´t mind that it was a bit touristy, they´ve gotta make their money somehow right? The wee town of Puno itself wasn´t touristy at all, so it was really cool just wandering around seeing the streets filled with all of the people selling food, it seemed like a real community, something that seems to be really strong over here.
We stayed for a few days before crossing the border to Bolivia and staying at the lake-side town of Copacabana. We took a boat ride to Isle del Sol which is the mythical birth place of the first incan king. We hiked the length of the island, which at 4,000 metres was actually pretty puffing, but it was also pretty pretty. Haha there was a stone table where the king was aparently born or something but there was a guy selling stuff on it, classic south america. Also typically we were charged three times as we crossed different ´sectors´of the 6km island, aaaah the joys. BUT back in Copacabana we got to eat ALL the trout for cheap, sooooo delicious!!
Now we´re in La Paz, the highest capital in the world at around 3,600 m. It´s very busy and stuff, but we´ve found some nice bits to wander and eat (ofcourse), like this awesome indian place where you get soup, curry and dessert for $6. Needless to say we are smashing it. Oh and we went to watch Cholitas wrestling the other night. They are the indigenous ladies, who wear the bowlers hats, big puffy skirts and shawls, and then they do WWF style wrestling, throwing each other around and flipping and smashing each other with wooden boxes and dragging each other around by their long plats. They are my new heroes! They´re not all smutty and stuff like western girl wrestlers, they´re just genuinley tought athletic women who put on an awesome show!! Once we get better internet we´ll put up some photos.
We also did the one day mountain bike ride down the ´world´s most dangerous road´. It used to actually be, and so many people would die because it´s so narrow and there wasn´t really room for passing and the drop off the cliff is unsurviveable (maybe not a real word). Now they´ve made a new road that´s paved and safer and this road is now mostly closed to traffic so you can bike down it. It was real fun going speedy but also being a bit scared that you might die if you skidded out on the gravel. We meet a really cool couple from Oz who also went to the wrestling, and at the end of the ride we got to relax at the bottom where it was much warmer with some well deserved beers. On the drive back to La Paz we took some roadies with us and sang along to some great 80´s / 90´s classics with the australians, it was the best bus ride ever. We stopped for a toilet break and it was snowing! It´s crazy how fast the climate changes here as you go from low to high. Speaking of climate changing we´re off to the jungle tomorow for a week to spot some rad animals, definitely looking forward to that plus a bit of warmth!! and we get to fly there yusssss.
okay smell yous later and lots of love xox
Phew we´ve gotten pretty out of date and after that last mammoth post I´m gonna try and skim some of the details…
Soooo a couple of weeks ago I took a 4 day tour of the Cotohuasi Canyon near Arequipa that we´d booked a couple of months ago. Unfortunately Dave had a tummy bug thing so he coudn´t come, so I had to brave it alone! It ended up being just me, a couple from america, and the guide and driver. It was pretty cool still though, the canyon wasn´t so much of a canyon as a really deep valley but it was still pretty amazing and I saw ALL of the cacti against deep blue skies, muy bonito. We got to say in a fancy pants ranch-like hotel for the first night in the town of Cotohuasi, and the owner Liz decided to come along with us which was great coz she was just lovely! She reminded me a bit of a posh cantabrian woman with pearl earings and turned up collars. She only spoke spanish so it gave me a chance to brush off the cobwebs on my conversational spanish and she very patiently corrected me everytime I spoke haha. We ended up hanging out together as the group ended up splitting when it came to the hiking into the canyon, and she became my guide, pointing out different tracks and plants, and after learning I was gluten-free, gave me lots of tips on yummy things to make with quinoa, and even commanded Surgio (the driver who hiked with us) to climb up a Guayaba tree and pick us some yummy fruit haha. We camped in the valley on the second night and me and Liz were roomys, she got to take daves place in the tent. We ate the most amazing food, even when we were tenting they cooked us steak with cheesey quinoa rissoto (Liz requested that she make it specially). In the morning we got up early and our guide Salomil made us quinoa pancakes, by the way, I love quinoa. Liz and I hiked back out with the sun draining into the valley, so lovely. Liz grew up in a wee villiage just outside of Cotohuasi town, and we got to walk through it and a few other tiny town which you can only get to on foot. They were pretty run down but very beautiful still, and since I was in charge of the camera I took ALL OF THE PHOTOS IN THE WORLD. We passed fields of quinoa and kiwicha (like quinoa but smaller) and saw people harvesting it. After a soak in the hot pools we headed back to the hotel for the last night, and a beautiful dinner. Liz had gone out and bought pan de maiz (bread made of corn) for me, and also the ingredients for pisco sours, the national drink of Peru, and gave us a lesson in making them. On the drive back to Arequipa we stopped at some petroglyphs out in the middle of the desert that the andean people a couple hundred years BC had carved into the rocks – lots of llamas and shaman and human sacrifice. So yea, pretty sweet trip but I was also stoked to see Dave at the end : )
Back in Arequipa (which is a beautiful town also) we had a grand time just wandering (something we do well) and visited a massive old convent where nuns used to party. Now there´s only 30 left there, but it´s like a mini walled city within the city.
ok daves turn
After Arequipa we headed to Cuzco the incan capital. This palce is pretty legit and every day we were there we saw a celebration of some kind or another. No lies every day. It was awse we saw indigenous people dancing and parading in the streets in full traditional costumes complete with dead baby llamas and all. After we soaked up the festive mood it was time to do the infamous Inca Trail. Now one could spend ages describing this once in a life time event but in respect to the boredom of others I will try and be brief.
On the first day we had to get up early at 4 in the morning to meet our tour group. This time is a blur as 4 in the morning isnt a real time, merly a fictional zone in which mythical people wander and the rest of us are oblivious. Anywho we bused from Cuzco to Ollyantatambo and to the start of the inca trail. This place was padamonium as they only let in 200 people each day and it was gringo central. That day we walked 11 ks through lovely andean vallys and saw wonderful vistas of massive incan ruins. The people on the trek were lovely and we made some great new friends. We arrived at our first camp delighted at the first day and even more delighted to find our tents all set up and a delicous meal being prepared for us. No kidding the food was dope we havn´t eaten this good in the whole time we have been travelling. I was almost at the point of gaining weight whilst trekking which was rad. The next day was a challenging day indeed; we had to climb a pass of 4200 meters and had to make 1000 meters hight from our first camp. The views were breathtaking and we were all elated when we reached the pass. As pride comes before the fall so does ellation before despair at the decent (de ja vu?) but we made it down in one peice to yet another feast. The third day was spectacular and our awesome guide led us through an incan coca ceremony on top of dead woman´s pass. we were all so privaleged to be a part of this as Percy our guide was very passionate about incan culture and many other groups were not so lucky to have such great guides. We walkd for 15 ks that day and saw 2 great sets of incan ruins. This day was my favorite. We arrived after dark to our final camp site and ate like kings befor retiring to bed. On the final day we woke up at 4 for the final push to Macchu Picchu. This was some kind of crazy social experiment to say the least. The gates to the final bit of track up to the sun gate dont open till 5.30 so our tour group along with 200 other people waited in nervous anticipation. At 5.30 we were off and nothing was off limits. I was supprised at my competitiveness and came close to pushing the slowest humblest tourest off the track if it meant that I was one person ahead when we got to the sun gate0. It was all in good fun though and no one died that I knew of. Arriving at the sungate we got our first veiw of Macchu Picchu in the valley below. It was spectacular! From there we walked down to the site itself and explored it with a wonderful guided tour preformed bu Percy and Ernesto our guides. We were shattered and longed for hot pools and beer. Macchu Picchu was the icing on the cake of a wonderful trip. People seem to gloss over just how hard the inca trail is an I am determined not to do this. It was painful brilliant and made it even more special arriving at Macchu Picchu after a long hard 4 days.
In all, our tour party consisted of 16 trekkers (all of whom where awse and we made some real good friends, nothing forms bonds like being in the trenches) 2 guides – Percy and Ernesto who where amazing, 1 cook who deserved at least on michalen star, and 20 porters – these guys are machines carrying extreme loads always with a smile, they even gave us a round of applause each time we reached camp which was nice however somewhat undeserved as they did most of the work.
Dave and I have been in Huaraz for about 2 weeks and went on a sweet trek with Martin and Anke called the Santa Cruz trek. We had to take a couple of Combis to get to the start slash end of the trek (in the middle of nowhere!) coz we did it backwards – the ride there was mental, the last leg took about 3 hours on the windiest road ever and we weren´t even sitting on proper seats, facing backwards, good times. Coz it took ages to get there we didn´t start walking til around 4, so after a couple of hours we came to a tiny village and asked a woman where we could camp and she kindly offered us a place to sleep in her kitchen! We set up our sleeping stuff in her wee kitchen, said hi to some chickens, donkeys, pigs and a kitten, then followed her down to the village – she told us very excitedly that there was a fiesta on that night. We arrived at a grassy patch by another house and there was a couple of big pots of food and everyone in the village was having tea. They were so generous and served us up big bowls of soup and grain, and we sat with them while they chatted and a couple of people tuned up their harps and violins (I know, harps right! But there you go.) it was pretty surreal.
After tea we were invited into a building where we were told the fiesta would be, it turned out to be a church and after about an hour and after heaps of people were filed in and the harps and violions again tuned the service started. We had been ushered to the front, as guests are, and were sitting on the higher seats too, so we felt even more giant than usual!! It turns out it was some sort of celebration of Christ, and ministers from about 10 different villiages had all made the journey to this village – Huaripampa. They spoke in a mixture of Spanish and Quechua so we understood about 10% of what was said! But it was cool, they welcomed us and (according to Anke) said how although we were from different countries we one people, sharing the same blood, pretty awesome ay? They had some great singing, harps and violins plus a lady up the front who lead, singing a melody that was nearly the same as the melody that the violin played, really interesting. Also everyone sang with such ghusto! Pretty much the same dynamic (full bore) the whole time, but it was so great! Haha although one song actually went on for 20mins, and I´m actually not even joking, for serial. My fav part was when they used hymn books for a couple of songs so we got to sing too, and I went full gusto too – when in Rome ay? (Gardiner girls, you know what I mean, you would have been doing it too). Soooo 5 hours later (again, no exaggeration) we wondered if this service would ever end. It was funny, people all round the place were nodding off (even some of the ministers up the front), and our host mother had taken on the job of periodically going round poking people in the back and randomly clapping her hands to wake them up. I was one of them and was woken with a tap on my shoulder haha. It was 11pm come on! Not too long after the longest song in the world we were told that we were allowed to leave and that no one would be offended, so we (graciously ofcourse) did.
After a good sleep, we were woken at 6ish by some hail coming through the roof, and a cherry “buenos dias” from our host. Apparently the service didn´t end until 2am, and here she was already up and about for the day! She boiled some water on her fire for our tea and gave us some pan, then told us she was off to share breakfast with the rest of the village. She had shown us some things that she had knitted so we bought some wollys from her to keep us warm for the rest of the trip. Honestly, everyone in the village was so hospitable and kind, we were so blessed to have been able to spend a wee snippet of time with them and to get a glimpse into their extraodinary lives, and see the real commitment and enthusiasm they had for what they believed in.
Bro, and that was only the first night…I don´t know if I have the energy to write about the next 5…might be time to hand it over to Dave…
so on saterday after being woken up early with freshly baked bread and a gentle hail storm that came through the humble kitchen roof, we decieded to head off on our adventure. we walked for about 30 mins when the rain started to get heavier so we decided it was a good time to cook some oats in the porch of an adandoned shak. after our second breakfast the rain was still steadily streaming down but we set off anyway. We walked through some more lovely villages and tried our hand at rounding the horses in the feilds. It was rather pleasent despite the constant drizzel. We soon arrived at our first camp site at 3800 meters and it rained the entire night !!!
On sunday lets say i was not overly enthused to start walking into what looked like more bad weather, but to my benefit I was swayed by the encouraging words of my peers (and the the daunting prospect of having another 4 hour hell ride in a over-crowded collectivo if we retreated). The second day was a lovely walk up 500 meters to our second camp at 4300. Our hard slog was rewarded with the occasional views of the surrounding peaks, they where huge. When we set up camp we where lucky enough to do so in a fine spell. Matin and Anke found this totes dope rock in which we could shelter to cook our tea (two boy under a confined rock with fire is not a good idea but we survived). That night it rained yet again, at around nine a mule train passed our tents just decending from the pass (these locals are hard core). Jess got scared and made me check outside the tent because she thought she could hear a horse, it turned out to be Martin snoring next door (sorry Matin).
On Monday it was the day to cross the pass, we set off early (for us) at 9.30 and headed to the first lagoon befor the pass to have breaky. It rained on and off and we managed to entertain the cows whilst we ate our oats. It was then time to cross the pass, we had all built up this pass to be some insumountable object, and that after the pass it would be clear sailing with fields of sunshine and easy paths. The pass was easy, but as usual pride comes before the fall (or decent into the next valley). The pass was magnificant and we were all on a high, it even snowed which at first was magical however the snow turned to slush as we decended and then rain which didnt stop for an hour, we all hit a dark place on the decent as our dreams of an eaay decent where soon dashed. After some nuts and a pep talk (mainly incoherant altitude babble) we set off for our next camp. We rounded a bend and saw in the distance the camp, it was rather reminisant of cair paravel (you know that dope ass camp in narnia, the one they all meet up at before battling the white whitch). Any who we where lucky enough to have another break in the weather to set up camp, it was whowever too rainly later on to cook tea so we went without ( sad face ).
Sup, Jess here again, tag-teaming it ya´ll. Soooo uuuum that morning we got going and as we got a bit lower there began to be lovely flowers and a bit more lushness and birds (although, surprisingly, there was a lot of green and even some crazy big flowers that grow low to the ground at even the really high altitude). This day we crossed where there had been a big landslide about a month ago, it was pretty amazing how far it went, it actually spilled into one of the lagoons, and then further down turning the floor of the valley into what looked like a mostly dried up sandy river-bed, but it was still pretty pretty. Haha and Martin got sucked into quick-sand up to his knees coz we missed the track and didn´t want to back-track; turns out this short-cut was not infact a short cut. Surprisingly enough in the afternoon it began raining pretty hard, but we caught a glimpse of the campsight a wee way off and all began contemplating setting up camp in the downpour. BUT! Martin spotted some old mud-brick shaks not too far away and as we got closer he decided to check them out. After reporting back that there was no one in there, we clambered up the bank, over a stone fence and had a look. There were about 4 shaks, all with random bits and pieces in them (including a dead hanging chicken), and one that looked like it was used for cooking. There was a perfectly positioned pine-tree (and no other trees in sight) right next to the houses that made a spot completely sheltered from the rain, so we decided to set up camp there. We were all super stoked at this find, and even managed to dry some of our stuff out. We cooked tea in the cooking hut, using our cookers after the open fire inside smoked us out. That evening the rain stopped and for the first time we had a starry sky! It was so beautiful! After rum and hot chocolate we headed to bed ready for our early morning start for the final day. This time it was actually early when we got up, 6am (Chris, Dave gave us all a talking to, saying “If we were tramping with my dad we´d be getting up this early every morning and there´d be no complaining!!). It dawned beautifully and even though it was still a tiring last day, it was perfect weather, deep blue sky, and towering cliffs around us, not to mention more donkeys which Dave and Martin caught and rode around.
So, although the weather wasn´t perfect, we had a great adventure, climbing higher than we´ve gone before, seeing glimpses of towering mountains, eating MEAN dinners (lentils, rice, soy meat, and fried salami is AMAZING!!), seeing cacti, meeting wonderful people, hardy Peruvians running up mountains in sandals, and trekking with an o.k.ish couple (hoho bromeando, you guys are great). That night back in Huaraz we went out to a place that does the best curries and had beer and cider, and then we pretty much didn´t stop eating for the next two days straight.
In the few days after the trek we saw about 4 parades, a couple of night-time ones with children carrying awesome lanterns down the street, dinosaurs, trucks, ben-10, and then one morning it was the anniversary of Simon Boliva, and all the schools paraded down the street dressed in different costumes, even wee kids, sooo cute! They yelled out “Hola gringos!” and some of them posed for photos haha, kids are cool they´re so open to silly foreigners like us, it´s really nice.
Anywhoodle, we´re in Arequipa now, muy bonito, and in one day we´ll be off exploring the worlds deepest canyon – Cotohuasi.
I do hope you´re not asleep, that was a very long post, soz.
Jess and Dave
hello followers of our blog
Dave here. well yet again we have been very slack and have not writen in a while. so since we last left off we headed from Riobamaba to a town call Cuenca in Ecuador this town was pretty rad. it was a very upmarketytown for ecuador with heaps of well looked after colonal streets and churches. there seems to be a huge expat community here full of welthy americans retiring to this litle slice of paradise. i got a sweet hat. after we milled the streets of cuenca and took a geeze at the shurken heads we headed to a town called Vilcabamba. we lived it up in luxury in a hostle with a pool and it was very plush. we went on a bike tour of the sourounding villages and to some local coffee planations and a family owed coffe roastary ( i dont think roastary is a word but im saying it anyways, its a place where they roast coffee) it was yum. we all so rode to a panella farm and procesing place (suger cain) this was awse OSH would love it. it was muy reco (very delicious). for the rest of our time in Vilcabamba we laxed out and walked around a bit. Vilcabamba is a strage we town. it has a huge expat community mainly of americans (not to be snide but most of which are the hippy perswsaion, some of which are livng in fear of the american government, but they are nice all the same) it also seems to be a meca for tourists on their “spiritual journies” and time and time again we heard them saying how amazing the “energy” was. we didnt know what that meant so we smiled and played the simple new zealander card. it was a lovely few days in the lap of luxury befor our marathon bus rides to peru.
Jess here. We left Vilcabamba wednesday night and caught a night bus to do the boarder crossing from ecuador to peru. It was super easy, just had to get stamped out of ecuador then walk to the next shed in peru and get stamped in. 9hours after leaving Loja we got to Puira where we caught another bus to Trujillo (8hrs) then got a taxi to Huanchaco, a hot sort of fishing villiage with lots of surfers who wade through the slightly dirty water to catch the perfect wave…we´re not quite keen enough for that!!
I was wondering how different peru would really be; if it would just be a continuation of ecuador, but it seemed that within an hour of crossing the boarder the landscape changed dramatically – the lush greeness was replaced with vast desertness – a pretty amazing sight to wake up to!!
so far weve found Peruvian people are really friendly, although they speak a lot faster then we”re used to!
Yesterday we took an awesomely old noisey bus to the ruins of Chan Chan. We hopped of on the main road and walked in, the desert is so amazing! The ruins were pretty sweet too, we got a guide so we’d actually know a bit about what we were looking at. I’ll let the pictures (once they’re up) do the talking.
Tonight we leave for Huaraz where we’ll meet Martin and Anke for some tramping, yussssss.
I can’t believe how varied South America is, desert and lushness and richness and poverty and freezingness and boilingness all just a day\s busride away, crazy bro.
I can smell coffee so im gonna go have me some. Oh and on our awesome bike round Vilcabamba we saw lots of coffee drying on peoples doorsteps, or on the road, with donkeys keeping watch, it was sweeeeeet. We are having some fun times and being adventurers. the spacebar is missing its really annoying
Jess and Dave
Dave and I feel like we’re getting into the swing of the travelling thing a bit more now; even though a lot of the time we’re out of our comfort zone, our spanish is improving which means we feel less nervous asking people for help, or asking questions, or buying tickets for buses, or finding where we can get our laundry done. We’ve also found that finding a good hostel seems to make a lot of difference – there’s something comforting about being able to come home after a day of being pushed outside our comfort zones (which I guess you most know was pretty small to begin with!) and being able to turn on the tv and watch Two and a half men! So yes, things are good and exciting.
Our bus ride from Canoa was pretty nightmare-ish for Dave, spending the whole night feeling very sick, all the while listening to VERY loud spanish songs and smelling bus-toilet-cleaning-stuff. But, as he says, what would a trip around South America be without having that experience at least once (I’m pretty sure it won’t be the only time haha). I managed to peak out the window at about 2am to see a clear starry sky and the sillohuetes of the Andes we were crossing, pretty beautiful. We ended up staying in Quito a couple of nights for Dave to recover before heading to Riobamba – it was strange to feel like we were coming home when we took a taxi from the bus to our original hostal in Quito, when to begin with Quito was a strange and scary place to be!
So now we’re in Riobamba, a smaller town 4 hours south of Quito. We arrived at a hostal that we knew had a kitchen we could use, and that’s about all we knew. To our delight, it is AMAZING! It’s so cute and a bit kitsch, but not in an ironic way haha. It’s sort of castle-themed with stone walls and a few turrets around the place, stained-glass windows and doors, little ornaments around the place – dolphins (jelous Rebekah?), golden naked lady statue, gold swan flower pots, golden virgin mary (ofcourse), birds in a cage, two little dogs, 4 cats, a kitten, a rooster and a chicken! To top it all of, the lady running the place, and her son and wife, are super nice, helpful and patient with our spanglish.
Riobamba itself is also pretty cool. The area has the highest number of indigenous people in all of Ecuador, so most people we see are wearing ponchos, hats, colourful scarves and skirts, and long hair with ribbons. We really like the feel of this town, although it’s still big, it’s less busy than Quito, with cobbled street and the people seem a lot friendlier. We’ve had a great time catching up with Anke and Martin, finding a good steak-house and going crazy on all the meats, and going up to some hot-springs a bit out of town. Haha my jandals were stolen while we were there – they had holes in the bottom of them, very old, so I suppose the person who took them needed them more than I did! Unfortunately we couldn’t get a pick-up to take us back down to the town where we would catch a bus back to Riobamba to we had to walk on a partly tarsealed partly gravel road for about 30mins…luckily Anke is muy amable and gave me her socks to wreck.
Yesterday Dave and I mountain-biked down volcano Chimborazo. We went with a company, the guy we talked to when we went in to book gave us an hour-long rundown of the history of Riobamba, then explained everything we’d see on the way etc. which was awesome, and also lucky because our guide only spoke spanish! We managed to get the generaly gist of what he was saying though. I might get Dave to write about this trip…
it was prety dope we started biking at the climbing refuge on chimboraso which is 4750 meters high, it was crazy when you tried to walk up a small hill and it was such a mission. Anywho me being the perfect specimin of health had an ear infection and this altidtue was hurting a bit. We decided not to walk up further and head down the sweet gravel road on our mountatin bikes. It was rad!!! We hooned down the road and dropped over 2000 meters in 3 hours. We managed to sneak up on a herd of Vacunas which are small fluffly alpaca esc things. Me and jess forgot to put sun screen on an got a we bit burnt but thats ok. After that we where pretty shattered and made nachos for tea. Beans are legit.
Haha so there you go, Daves rendition of our biking trip. We also saw some sweet ruins where we stopped for lunch and got to try mineral water out of the ground that was still bubbly and yum. It was so nice to be out in the country, the scenery was amazing, seeing the patch-work mountains (to be cliche), and the friendly people hard at work, still in their beautiful dress. It was really cool. A nice way to see a bit more of Ecuador.
Today we had a nice lazy day, walking around the city, seeing a couple of protests (casual as), getting a good coffee, buying our bus tickets, and finding a coupley friendship braclets haha. Tommmorow we head to “colonial beauty” Cuenca, 6 hours south of here, the next adventure.
Lots of love to you all
Soooo, where to start. Uuuuuum maybe from where we are now and then work backwards… At the moment we´re in a wee coastal town called Canoa, we got here early monday morning on an over-night bus from Quito, and after staying one night in a strange place a wee way outa town we found a better hostal in town that a couple we meet on the bus were staying in (10 bucks a night with kitchen, own bathroom and hammocks looking out onto the beach aint bad!). Canoa is a little town with one main street, and pretty quiet. It´s beach is great for learning to surf so we´ve hired boards for the week and have been getting up early to have a surf while the waves are nice and small, then generally being pretty lazy as there´s not a lot else to do! The other day we took a bus to another wee town not far from here so we could find an atm…turns out the bus doesn´t actually go through the centre of the town, which we didn´t know, so we stayed on it waaaaay to long, waiting for something that resembled a city center, which didn´t happen haha. I got to use my sweet spanish to ask the bus man if the bus would eventually turn around, aparently not. He flagged down a passing bus going the other way which we hopped on and made our way back to a different town where we found an atm and got back to Canoa in one peice. Aaah the adventures we have.
We meet a cool Aussie couple who are awesome surfers following the swell around south America, living the dream. They took us to an awesome eatery that we mighten´t have been adventurous enough to go to otherwise, and we got an amazing fish and coconut curry. I now have a bit of a gasto thing but it was soooo worth it (so much so that I had the meal again the next day haha). We´ll hopefully be meeting up with them in Cusco to do a bit of trekking after the inca trail.
Before leaving Quito we went to the crazy Semana Santa Easter parade which we posted photos of. We also missioned it to Cotopaxi national park for a few days, just getting there was an adventure in itself, having to use our spanish to try and find someone to take us from a wee town that we bussed to, to the actual park itself. It was pretty freezing there and high up, around 4000 metres. Dave said the landscape reminded him a bit of Tongariro national park. It was kinda weird coz there was a few roads that ran through the park, and we hiked for a few hours to get to a lagoon to find lots of big tourist buses there and large groups of people, and there we were, puffed and with massive packs on! It felt a little fraudulent, I think New Zealand has spoilt us in terms of national parks. Anywho we ended up walking up a hill and found a sweet camping spot that had a view of a rocky volcano. My favourite part was the nights; we could see sooo many stars and there would always be this weird thing going on in the sky, all around the horizon it would light up like lightening but without the noise, it was so cool. On our way out of the park we had a great pick-up driver who was really friendly and new a little bit of English, so we managed to have a mixed language conversation with him which was great.
On Tuesday we´re off to Riobamba to see Martin and Anke who are working at the hospital there, and then making our way down to Peru.
I don´t think there´s really anything else to report, hope all is well with everyone,
Love lots, Jess and Dave
In the weekend we finally got out of the city! Very exciting. We organised a trip with a few of our friends (that´s right, we have friends) Wenke (lovely German girl from our hostel), Martin and Anke (a German couple from our school, also lovely) up to Mindo, a wee town 2 hours bus-ride north west of Quito in the cloud forest. It was AMAZING! such a lovely warm climate, with lush bush, lots of birds, friendly people AND it was even safe to walk around at night-time! We found a lovely place to stay that a random american guy told us about, about 10mins walk out of town. It was a little paradise; hammocks on the deck looking out into the trees, open air house, swimming pool and spa, and we had it all to ourselves. On saturday we walked to a mariposario, butterfly farm, with about a million butterflys and I finally got to see lots of hummingbirds too, amazing! Then we hailed a pick-up and rode on the back up to a walking track that leads down to the river and waterfalls. Half-way down the track we spotted some sweet zip-lining high up across the river, and after watching a couple of people jump off we decided we had to do it – how could you not for only 3 hux? I was a wee bit scared when the guy in charge left 3 teenage boys to get my harness organised and clipped in, but i didn´t die in the end so it was all good. Once that was done tiene hambre (we were hungry, a phrase that me and Dave know well) so we stopped at a wee bbq also down the track (they honestly set up bbqs everywhere you can imagine) and had big fried bananas with cheese…i know, cheese, everything has cheese, BUT it was actually really yum! After feasting we carried on down to the river and saw a big concrete water-slide and a place for jumping into the river, which dave and martin were very pleased about, although after walking a bit further down-stream and seeing a deadly waterfall and a couple of ropes to grab onto so you weren´t swept down said waterfall, I was a little hesitant. The others didn´t seem to mind and bravely had a go on the slide, and after a bit of encouragement i did too, and once again I didn´t die. Dave, Martin, and Wenke were muy valiente (very brave) and jumped from 10 metres above the river, each of them looking a bit beaten up when they emerged from the water. Loco chicos. That night we went out for tea, it was great eating and drinking and chatting with lovely people. I also learnt how to eat a whole fish, totes awesome bro. The atmosphere was great, people just hanging out on the one street of the town, dogs roaming, kids playing, vehicles giving way to everyone – certainly somewhere you could spend a lot longer than just 1 weekend.
As written earlier, we´ve finished up at la escuela español, feeling a bit more confident about getting by, and able to understand a bit of what people are saying which is pretty cool. Even though we´re pleased to be finished and it feels like our holiday is actually starting (we got to sleep in til 9 today!), it was definitely worth doing and I´d recomend it to anyone wanting to travel in a country where English isn´t spoken much. Semana Santa (easter friday) is coming up so we´re looking forward to seeing some crazy procesions through town, where people wear purple capes and hoods, a bit reminiscent of kkk-style pointiness… I hear they make a mean soup with everything in it around Easter time so I´m on the look-out for that (of course I am).
Love you all lots, and have a lovely easter xox