Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I left my heart in Peru.

I did.
I'm in Bolivia now, about two weeks after I'd initially itended to leave that dear country of Peru. Funny, how one can grow so attached to a place.
Cusco became my base, my home of sorts, the place where I constantly ended up returning to, for whatever reason I might choose to use to rationalise the decision.

After leaving Arequipa, I returned to gather my thoughts and regroup. I went to the jungle, only to return to Cusco for Inti Raymi (which was great fun, just quietly). Then when it finally was time to have a Proper Farewell after all of those 'fake farewells', I found myself almost overcome with sadness. It's not because Cusco is the most amazing city in the world (although it certainly does have a lot of charm, and quirks out the yin yang). Nor is Peru the most amazing country in the world, although it is spectacular in myriad ways. More so, I was astounded to find how attached I had become to the friends I'd made during my time at Amauta-the-Spanish-school, and the weeks afterwards when I kept returning.

Yesterday was my last day in Cusco. It was spent in the sun, catching a bus and taking the scenic route to some mediocre hot springs with three friends. We were the only gringos, we took a little taxi, the four of us crammed into the back seat through a windy road where a landslide seemed to have just occurred. At the warm springs (tepid at best springs) we bobbed up and down in the murky water, we were conspicuous, we drip dried in the non-sun then took a little car back to Calca. Then we went to Urubamba. We bought stale bread and awesome avocado and sat in the sun, eating sandwiches while listening to creepy carnival music. It was a hippy market. I bought a ginger cupcake and shared it with someone spectacular. The bus ride back was long and tiring and silent but content with hands held and napping on shoulders. Shit, son. Then it was dinner at The Israeli Place one last time, playing Pigs one last time, hanging out at the school one last time then GOODBYE, time for a huge hug. Saying, "Keep in touch" and actually meaning it. On the other hand though, don't farewells while fighting back tears at five in the morning at the edge of the Plaza de Armas make you feel kind of alive? I'd venture to say yes.

If you're wondering about the jungle, it was amazing. It was exactly what I needed at that stage, time to relax, to be away from the maddening crowd, to sit in the wilderness and just think for a little while. We swam in an Amazonian lake under the moonlight, trouped through the jungle, saw monkeys and parrots and otters and all manner of birds. Tarantulas and those little crocodile things as well. It was sweaty and hot as fuck and I got attacked by mosquitoes and I fell through a bridge but goddamn, was it ever incredible.

Bolivia? It seems quite a bit like Peru so far, but slightly different. I'm fairly exhausted, not having slept much at all in the past few days. I wandered around the city tonight, wrote, ate some brie, then bought a minature Millennium Falcon, becuause that's just the way I operate, guys. Tomorrow I'll probably book a tour to the salt flats. I might take my Millennium Falcon.

I'm tired, and kind of sad, but at the same time I'm excited. I'm excited because I've got three more countries to get to, over two months. No time for hesitation son, no time for tears or moping because that phase has finished and there's a new one about to begin. CAN YOU FEEL IT?

Anyway, apologies for the lack of photos. They're a bit of a bitch to upload from shitty internet cafes. Hold on tight, I'll upload some eventually. At any rate, I'm sure most of you that read this have me on Facebook anyway, and are up to date with my photographic adventures.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sleep is for chumps.

I´ve had a total of three hours of sleep in the past two days. I´m exhausted.

Last we heard, the hero if this moving picture was about to head to Puno. For those of you playing at home, that´s pretty much on the border of Peru and Bolivia. I went to the bus station and asked around. The roads between Cusco and Puno had been blocked, but a couple of companies were still going to the town, just via a different route. The scenic one it seems, turning a seven hour journey into a twelve hour one.

Anyway, I spent the day hanging out with friends, eating a giant sandwich, not catching up on sleep. Then someone informs me, "Puno´s fucked". I ask someone else. "Yeah, it´s pretty much a revolution now." Well, great. I asked some more people.
"Yeah, I was going to go on Monday. Now I´m not."
"Shit. I was going to head there tonight."
"Have fun with that."

I cursed the universe. Is it that hard for the universe to let me catch a break? I'd already checked out of my hostel, and put all my bags (packed incredibly, I'll have you know) in the room of a friend, ready to catch my bus at 10pm. With four hours until that time, I decided instead that I'd head to Puerto Maldonado, a jungle town that from all accounts seems quite pretty. The plane's at 10am. I tried to book my flight, but the internets just weren't having any of that. Let me book a flight? Fuck that. I take the scenic route, bitches.

So I decided, WHATEVER! I won't pay for a hostel! I'll just stay out all night! Easy, right?
I'll have you know I made it to 4am. Which I think is admirable. I then snuck myself (a feat unto itself given the hardass doorman) into the school I stopped being a student at about three weeks ago and crashed. For two hours. Then hauled myself out of the nice warm bed and into a taxi, to make sure I got there quick enough to buy a ticket. It may seem overly early, but given how good I am at screwing things like that up, and given my propensity to have awful luck, it seemed the only course of action.

Anyway. I've spent the last hour or so searching for malaria tablets at various pharmacies, sitting around, looking spaced out and zombie-like, and smelling terrible. I've got another half an hour or so to kill. I need to sleep. I might. But then, I might not wake up for hours. I'll watch some Digimon on my iPhone.

Oh, and in case you were at all interested, it was a wonderful night out. I haven't had that much fun dancing in a truly obscene amount of time. And as sure as a bear shits in the woods, I don't often feel inclined to dance, unless it's flailing around to Limp Bizkit, or being an obnoxious twat.


This was probably a completely incoherent post, but at least now you've got something to procrastinate with, Fish.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I just can´t seem to leave Peru...

Hello to my small yet loyal readership!

I´m still in Peru. I´ve got half an hour or so to kill before I meet some friends for funtimes here in Cusco, so I guess that´s a good an excuse as any to blag blag blag my little heart out to you all.

I tell you what though, these South American keyboards will be the death of me. Granted, it´s a little easier (certainly faster) than typing on my iPhone, so I shouldn´t really complain.

So. Update. Last time I wrote we were in the Sacred Valley. We headed back to Cusco, oh city where I will leave my heart, for some fun and frivolity and friends and farewells. As well as obnoxious amounts of alliteration. Then Linc and I set off to Machu Picchu, by way of a four day trek through the Lares Valley. Those of you who know me well, your minds should be boggling at the fact that I was wearing grubby clothes, not showering, not brushing my teeth and walking for quite obscene amounts of kilometers up mountains. It was ridiculous. If it weren´t so disgusting, I´d post up pictures of the myriad bruises that are on my ass. I already posted a picture of my disgusting big toe on Facebook (sorry, Fish) so I think that one will have to be given a miss.

So the trek had its amazing points and dudd points and I did have some small child steal the case that contained my sewing kit, battery for my camera, toothbrush, toothpaste and hand sanitiser. So that was irritating. But something certainly has to be said for the feeling one gets (especially if one is incredibly unfit, like yours truly) when one reaches the top of a huge mountain and you can look down and think, ¨I FUCKING DID THAT, BITCHES.¨ We actually did the trek with two AWESOME Austrians, who happened to hire horses for the duration of the trek. I was jealous at first, but I think the feeling of accomplishment may have been worth it.

Machu Picchu? It was great. All those things that people say about it? Tick all those boxes. Yes, it´s touristy. Yes, it´s spectacular. Yes, it´s amazing. Definitely glad we went. It would have been a crime had we not gone.

Post Machu Picchu, Linc and I headed to Arequipa, which is a gorgeous city. More European than Cusco. Prettymax. Not really much worth noting though, given that we didn´t go to the Colca Canyon, nor did we go out on the town. Mostly, I just went to various cafes and wrote. Wrote and wrote. A lot of drivel, some shit worth keeping.

After Arequipa I was meant to go to Buenos Aires, and Linc was meant to go to Columbia. Linc did go to Columbia, I didn´t go to Argentina. Thanks to the Chilean volcano, my flight was cancelled. Awesome. Then it became actually slightly awesome, because that meant that I was put in a five star hotel for my trouble, with obscene amounts of free food, as well as running hot water and a working shitter (with toilet paper provided, unlike much of Peru). YES. I had the longest shower I´ve had in a month, I ate way too much, and I had a glorious nap with the TV on in the background. Cheap thrills, y´all.

Anyway, I didn´t end up getting on my flight to Buenos Aires. I´ll be doing Argentina in about a month. For now, I´m back in Cusco, then heading to Puno tomorrow. Then I´ll be back here for the Inti Rami festival which will be all manner of radfun, then I´ll head to Bolivia properly. I know it´s a hell of a long time in Peru, but I´ve grown rather attached to this place. I´ll be glad to get to the next country, but there´s plenty here that I´m fond of.

Okay, I´ve successfully killed about twenty minutes. Ugh.

I´ll tell you a little about Cusco. Today I went to a market, and across from the beanies and jumpers and a little internet corner, there was a TYPEWRITER CORNER. A bunch of typewriters. Ready to be typed with. I thought, ¨Fuck me, I want to type something on a typwriter.¨ ... so I did. I typed it good, I´ll tell you that for free. The man asked me if I wanted him to type something for me, and I was all like, ¨BITCHNAH.¨ ... to be honest that might have been the highlight of my day. Cheap thrills, y´all.

Cusco is full of stray dogs. But believe it or not, maybe one in fifty could be described as ¨manky¨. They´re all pretty cute to be honest. Some of them hang out in posses of three or four. They´re mostly really friendly. I´ve seen maybe three get mad at people. Well, apart from this one night. I was wandering the streets with a pal of mine, and suddenly we hear barking and running footsteps. Look up at the plaza, there´s a gang of about five dogs cracking the shits at this man, who´s running backwards as fast as his legs will take him, pulling off his jacket and whipping it at the dogs, trying to keep them at bay.
Needless to say, we bailed.

Also, the dogs are tough as fuck. Same night, same pal, different plaza, we laughed at this one badass boss dog running alongside, sprinting alongside this taxi. It wasn´t happy. Then oh god the taxi rounded the corner and the dog was under the car. I screamed and was ready to burst into tears. But lo and behold, the dog was fine. It gave a little whimper, then got up and trotted off. Barely limping. I kid you not, this dog hit the bumper and went under at least one of the tyres. Granted, the cars here are pretty tiny, but it was INSANE, the toughness of this dog. We saw it later, and it was fine. Honestly, what the poo.

On that note, I´ll sign off.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just quickly, I've fallen in love with Peru.

I'm writing this from my iPhone, so it's going to be slow going, as well as badly formatted. My apologies. But I felt like I'm letting down (slightly) the handful of people I know actually read this. So! Here we are. In a hotel lobby, awkwardly stealing internets in el Valle Sagrado (thats the Sacred Valley for those of you playing at home.

I've well and truly fallen in love with Peru. It's beautiful, and fascinating, and all manner of fun. It's rolling sand dunes and deserts with dotted oases and colorful little towns, and cities teeming with life. I fell asleep on the bus from Nasca, then woke up amongst mountains and snowy peaks in the distance, with jungles and rivers around me.

Linc and I have spent the last week and a bit in Cusco. A week with the sweetest Peruvian family, who brought me tea when I got food poisoning. I was vomming my guts up, but that won't taint my thoughts of Cusco. I've met so many interesting people, it's obscene. We're the only Australians at Amauta. It's full of Germans, Dutch, Americans, Belgians, Swiss. It's amazing, how traveling is so conducive to chance, short encounters with the most fascinating people.

I'll tell you this much for free, I haven't been this happy in a long, long time. Months. Ages. Aeons. But fuck me gently with a chainsaw, I was on the bus to the Sacred Valley and I just couldn't stop smiling. It was truly idiotic, my face. But I was just SO GLAD to be here, I put on some Elton John ("Philadelphia Freedom", for whoever's interested) and just grinned the trip away.

I have not the slightest inclination to go home. This is just way too much fun. And if this is the happiest I've been in over six months, then who am I to fuck that up? What am I, some sort of chump? Haha.

Anyway, we're heading back to Cusco for a couple nights on Friday, then we're beginning a trek to Machu Picchu, for four days. Then it's off to Arequipa, then country number two. I think I'll be ready to leave by then, but I tell you what, Peru's gonna have a special place in my heart. Aw. Isn't that nice? It is. Time for lunch.