Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our time in Puerto Lopez has been pretty eventful... we celebrated Orin's 22nd birthday yesterday, but as he really doesn't like to make a fuss about it it turned out to be one of the most low key days here! Much lying in hammocks and drinking gnarley cheap tequila that somehow Rylie convinced me to buy even when I had a bottle of Jose Cuervo in my hands. Rylie... and the sombrero and scarf the tequila bottle was wearing around it's neck. How could I resist?

We have gone snorkeling a couple of days here. The first day we just rented some shoddy gear for a couple bucks and walked to some nearby cliffs and swam around below them. Wasn't great water clarity, but we didn't see some really cool fish, as well as a turtle shell that took some examining and excavating to bring up to the surface. Turn out half the rotten turtle was still inside and it wreaked to high heaven. Good times.

The following day we took a tour out to an island that is about an hour and a half boat ride away. It is nicknamed the cheap man's gallapagos, and it didn't dissapoint. On the way there we ran into a pod of three baby humpback whales! They put on a great show, and swam quite close to us, slapping their big ass tails and blowing water everywhere. Everyone was really excited that we ran into them! When we pulled up to the island there were massive ancient turtles swimming around our boat. We saw all of those things that you see in the gallapagos island pics, and paid 1400 dollars less. Sweet. We saw many boobies, of all shapes and sizes. We did not get to fondle them, which was a little dissapointing all around, but Orin did throw out enough jokes for me to get tired of them... though he never did. We also saw this crazy bird that has a bright red flap of skin under its chin, and when it is trying to pick up a certain lady he prances in front of her, blowing this thing up to epic proportions! The lady, boring and brown as anything, of course, sat alone on a tree ignoring four or five males flouncing around her. That was really cool to see, and there were quite a few of them. After the island walk, where we viewed all the birds, they took us to a bay where we snorkeled for a while looking at all the awesome fish. Unfortunately, I got stung on the nipple by a baby jelly fish. Ouch.

Today we took a bus out to a really beautiful beach in the park, and spend the day lying in the sand and playing in the waves. We had a great time getting smashed into the sand by the ocassional massive wave, and one of the greatest moments of the week was watching Rylie swim for a wave, dissapear, and then unearth a couple seconds later naked and gasping for air, arms flailing on the beach. I laughed so hard for so long, even choking on salt water couldn't stop me. It was great.

Rylie just got an email from the embassy that he should try to go back to the border and get a stamp, otherwise they will be creating ¨issues´between the Canadian and Ecuadorian government. ¨War Breaks out in Ecuador due to Unruly Canadian Immagrant¨. Great. When we were talking to the Embassy in Quito they assured us that it wouldnt' be a problem. Well... better knowing now than later.

Thanks for the comment mummy, and don't worry, I feel no shame that the only person who loves is my's better than not even my mom loving me. Haha.

Rachelle!! I can't wait to see you! How is your pad working out? And are you selling more art? Zoe was telling me about a certain vulgar painting of yours that she is hoping to buy from you at what seems like a steal of a price. How are you ever going to make money that way? Haha. I hope that you are prepared to decorate the walls of my house as well! Send me an email or a facebook message and tell me what' going on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quito to Coast

We spent a good five days in Quito doing very little, which was quite nice. Rylie did quite a bit more than Orin and I, as he spent many a hour at the Embassy trying to work out his passport problem. On friday afternoon he returned to the hostal with a fresh shiny white passport, still missing the Ecuadorian enterance stamp. Even though he was standing right in front of the immigrations officials, they still won't aknowledge his presence in the country. They seemed very confused.... how are you here? How did you get in our country? hmm....
Anyways, in Quito we cooked up tons of delicious food in the tidy kitchen, and reveled in all the food we have been missing for quite a while... cream cheese, salsa and sourcream and refried beans with chips, feta etc.... we also mixed up a bunch of really tasty smoothies in their blender... man I wish I carried around a magic bullet on my travels. We checked out old town and climbed up some extremely tall towers of an oddly new gothic church, which resulted in me having a minor panic attack when finding myself alone at such great heights. We also took a two hour bus ride out to some really nice hot springs, and spent the evening lounging in the twenty differently temperatured pools. There was also a sauna but it was depressingly lukewarm. In the end we sat by a dirt road playing cards in the rain, until we decided that we should do something with our lives and asked some people in the nearby hotel about the bus... and good thing we did because the bus doesn't return that same way. They turned out to be really nice people, one speaking decent english, and offered us a ride home in the back of their pick up....we were immediately in. It was a much shorter ride back as he drove at breakneck speed, and we spent the time playing Í'm going across Canada and i'm going to bring....' until they dropped us off less than two blocks away from our hostal. Perfect.
We also hit up the Quito Casino, which was really fun. Spent about 10 bucks in over an hour playing black jack, at some points having almost doubled my money, and got a free beer out of it too. Never having played the game in a casino before, much more confusing with the bets and stuff, wasn't too much of a problem as the rest of the people at the table proved to be really nice and helpful.
So now we are on the coast, hoping to go scuba diving and such... but it is really quite expensive.... Nothing will ever live up to the cheapness of Honduras... so we will see what happens. We only have a couple weeks left now.. which is very strange, planning out the final stages of our trip. I guess that is all I have to say.. If this blog is a little disjointed my excuse is that Rylie is on the phone right now with Jana talking about all the juicy summerland gossip and it is hard to pay attention. Did you know Clinton is living in a tree house? Well now you do.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Alright! Friends and family! I have returned, five years older, but ten years wiser. Perhaps.

Our week in Huanchaco was a great time. We managed to get in a decent ammount of surfing, one day getting two boards and two wetsuits and sharing so that everyone could surf, and everyone could lie on the beach. It was a really good time watching Rylie fit into my little womens sized Billabong wetsuit. Style and grace, my friend. We had a good run of sunny days, and somehope that jerk Jordan managed to out tan me extrodinarily. I am not suprised, just angered.

We packed up for Chiclayo a couple of days before Jordan's flight. We arrove to find that very few white people come to this town, and we were quite a spectacle apparently. Upon arrival we were surrounded by gawking locals, and kids followed us through the mall to the taxis, until they finally got the courage to yell out 'goodbye!' when we pulled away. We found a nice little hostal run by some really nice people, and settled in unknowlingly for an long stay. We ate Chinese in a place that we weren't sure we were welcome: their first question was where are you from, but they seemed satisfied with our Canadian response... we are not sure what they would have said if we were American. They disappeared for a bit but did return with menus, so we ate awkwardly while the whole family next to us stared at us blatantly, one kid actually vacating his chair so that he could stand nearer and stare. Weird.

Early that morning I fell sick and was sick all the next day. It was very unpleasant, but luckily we were in a decent place with our own bathroom, so I could mourn my nausea in peace. During the day the boys went to the market, returning with crazy live animal stories, making me very glad I didn't try to go. That evening Jordan was all packed and there were hugs all around and then he jumped in a taxi and was gone. It was really weird for the first little while, feeling like something was missing. It was good to hear that Jordan made it home and didn't get the sickness!

That night I woke up dioriented hearing terrible things happening in the bathroom, and looked over to find Orins bed empty. He got terribly sick for a couple of days, lying on his bed moaning, having trouble sleeping and visiting the bathroom frequently. Having the history of Clare, Zoe and I all get stomach infections in El Salvador, I was pretty sure that this was what he had, so we started him on antibiotics. It's pretty damn normal to get a stomach infection when you go for lengthy travels, eating street meat and taking all sorts of chances. Definately worth it, though you don't think so when you are at your lowest. The pills have been working really well and I was so happy to see him sitting up the next day, even having a bit of an appetite. Only a couple days left on the antibiotics and he is doing really well now, which I am very grateful for!

In the end we were holed up in that hostal room for 4 days before everyone felt safe enough to head north, so we took a relatively short bus ride to Mancora, a touristy beach resort type place. The kind of town that always has change. Unfortunatley, Rylie managed to lose his moneybelt on the bus ride there, leaving him out some bucks and passportless!!! We were only an hour and a half away from the border... so close! And Lima is 14 hours away from Mancora!! Rylie picked up a police report, which they claimed would get us past the border, but we were all filled with doubt. We spent two nights in Mancora, but only one full day. It was a hot sunny day, and we spent it on the beach and in the water. Beautiful! The next day we decided to take our chances at the border... which we really, really did.

We headed out around 1 to Tumbes, the supposed border town. Immediately off the bus we had a group of men hounding us to take us to the border. One man was especially pushy, but a sweet talker too. He told us all the information we need to know: it was 2 soles each to the border town, Agua Verdes, which was still 15 or so min away. He also weaseled the passport problem out of us and told us he had a friend at immigration. None of us felt quite right about him, as he kept on grabbing my bag and saying 'let's go' everytime we nodded at something he said. Eventually we agreed that we would take an innocent ride with this guy to the border than wave goodbye. We jumped into his mototaxi and he drove us a block down the street, stopped, and told us we had to get into this unmarked hatchback. He loaded all our bags in as we wondered what the hell was going on. Six or seven big guys had come over and surrounded the vehicle, opening the doors etc, and one guy got in the front, while another guy got in the trunk with our bags..... No, we said. No way this is happening. This is a set up for jumping us, and we have enough problems on our hands as it is. So we grabbed our bags and headed to leave, but the guy said hey, hey, just get back in the moto and I'll take you to the border. No big deal. So unenthusiastically we put our bags back on the moto, and were unhappy to see the same guy jump in the back with them. Just wanting to get there and anxious to see what would happen with the passport, we relented and headed off.

It turned out to be quite a drive to Aguas Verdes on that moto, and half way the driver and the guy in the back switched positions. Now it made sense. We came to immigrations 10 minutes before the town, something that you would not notice unless you were pointedly looking for it. Orin and I made it through first, no problem, and waited outside for him. One guy was in the office with Rylie 'helping', and the other dude kept on trying to herd us back into the moto. This was really pissing us off, as we kept on stubbornly telling him that we wanted to wait there for our friend. I felt uneasy, so I went to check up on Rylie, and found him mid action handing money over the authority. Knowing he was bribing him and wouldn't want a witness I ducked around the corner til he left, and popped my head in. I asked Rylie if he was okay and he barely responded me, mumbling some shit I couldn't hear. Then the driver told me I had to go, I couldn't be there. I asked Rylie again more firmly and he assured me he was okay, but I knew something wasn't right. After a bit more waiting outside Rylie finally appeared. He barely replied to our questions of what happened, and just wanted to get out of there. We found out that the officer had taken 100 american dollars from him, giving Rylie no choice, almost taking it by force. He was pretty damn angry and I kicked myself for letting the driver push me out of the room, as I have some experience dealing with authorities and people trying to extort me. Rylie was in a 'lets not talk about it let's just get this over with' sort of mood, so we got back in the moto and went to the border town on the other side. The driver turned down a sidestreet, and I started getting nervous. I got more nervous when he parked beside a bunch of run down semi trailers in a corner that very few people could see unless they were right there... and the only people who were right there were about 10 dudes staring at us from all around. It was really, really sketchy. It was that terrible situation that you don't want to be in. Somehow we were. The driver told us that we had to walk around the corner and it was the border. We told him to take us there. He told us it was right around the corner and we had to walk. Some dudes were moving in. Then he told us that we owed him 36 soles. A far cry from the 6 soles he had told us earlier. I had begun arguing with him, telling him I didn't mind to pay a bit more because it was a long drive, but you can't just lie to people like that when Orin and Rylie interrupted me, telling me that we had to ditch. And they were exactly right. The situation was getting exponentially more threatening so we shoved the money in his hands, when we really just wanted to punch him in the face, and sped out of there. A block away we saw some cops and women and children and relaxed, so relieved that we had got out of that situation unscathed.... kind of wondering how. We rounded the corner to see the elating sight Welcome to Ecuador!!!

We walked across the bridge to Ecuador... and there was no immigration. Right. Great, we found out it was another 10 minute drive down the Pan American highway to immigrations. We walked a block away from the yelling hoardes of taxi drivers and vendors to have a little peace, and caught a taxi there. At immigration, again, Orin and I got through no prob, no questions, no bag checks, nothing, but he refused Rylie. I ran my mouth off for ten minutes trying to convince him to let us in, we had a copy of the passport, we had Id, we had a police report, we had entry stamps, we had pretty much all you can get without having an actual passport. This was not enough. We got a taxi back, and Rylie made a really ballsy decision. We bought bus tickets to Quito. We were smuggling an illegal immagrant across the border from Peru to Ecuador. Great..... All in all we had a damn good cover story. Any one asks, Rylie got his passport stolen in Ecuador, and we are heading to Quito to get a new one. I was absolutely terrified that we would get pulled over at that exact same immigration office, and that dude would come on the bus and throw us in an Ecuadorian prison to rot for the rest of our lives. Unlikely, but valid. Or just something would go wrong and we would lose Rylie to some quick speaking authority. We got on the bus and headed out of town. We were rolling down the Pan american when we pulled over to the side of the road, and I looked out the window to see my greatest fear had been realized. We were parked outside of that god forsaken office, and I started to pray. We sat there for what seemed like eternity, every second fearing that that dude was going to bust through the door and pistol whip Rylie in the face, and arrest me for being an accomplice. Yes... I was panicking people. Finally I felt the bus jump, and we gently rolled out of the parking lot. I was still nervous that an official was in the front talking to the driver, which has definatley happened before, but it was not so. We were elated. Our greatest hurdle had been jumped. We celebrated... too soon. Fifteen minutes later we pulled over again, and everyone was herded off the bus. Bring you passport, he said. We got out, formed a line, and he almost waved Rylie past when and involuntary umm escaped from his mouth before he realized what was happening. I cringed. 'Pasaporte, por favor´. Rylie started to mumble something about leaving it in a bathroom, but the guy didn't quite understand. He turned to me and asked me where Rylie's passport was. I needed no skill acting completely upset as I explained that we had a big problem, he lost his passport so we were on a bus to Quito to the embassy. He studied me for a moment, then broke into a 'hey, what the hell' smile, and let it go. I squeezed him gratefully on the shoulder and thanked him profusely. I love that man. We got back on the bus and were sooooooooo relived that this lie worked, and we were finally scott free, on our way to Quito.

The bus ride wasn't too bad, though I literally screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO when a pirated version of LITTLE MAN (NOO!!!!) appeared on tv. Volume cranked. Why! I immediately put on my headphones and cranked my music to an ear damaging volume (not nearly as damaging as watching little man yet again..) and tried to avoid being drawn to the blinking light seduction of that evil machine. Poor Rylie doesn't have music, so just ended up watching it. He too agreed it is the worst movie in the world.

Well, we got into Quito this morning, and found ourselves a really nice hostal to relax in. Rylie has spent most of the day at the embassy. 15 days to get the passport! Damn! We are hoping he can get a temporary passport so that we can dip into Colombia. We will see. Anyways, that is enough from me now. I will be seeing you all very, very soon. Only three more weeks!!! Oh my.... Love and miss you all tons, and don't worry... I have regained my sanity as fully as it ever has been.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sky to sea

The day after the big Machu Picchu climb we were all worse for wear, and sometimes were a bit of a funny spectacle limping around and helping eachother out. We got kicked out of our room at 10, so just hung around eating breakfast until our guide returned with our Id's and train tickets. We were a little nervous about this fact as we were being seriously hounded by the hostal owners, who thought that our second night was not included in our tour, which it was. After some random spanish discussing and a call to the agent who sold us the tickets, who had no other vocal tone other than screaming, we were scott free, and our tickets showed up contrary to our doubts, just before noon. We were so glad to be pulling out of the nice but tourist extorting town of Aguas Callientes, on time, ID's in hand.

The drive down was not nearly as horrendous as the drive up, as I scored a shared front seat and just popped a gravol as soon as we took off. The only thing that slowed us down was a rock slide on the road, which found Orin, Jordan and Rylie pushing a rock flinging van across the rubble in sandals, as a bunch of fully shoed onlookers stood by. It was awesome. We arrove to Cuzco in the dark, and had a bit of a hard time trying to find a place to stay, but eventually found a cool attic dorm room, and a decent shower. I was somehow coerced into visiting Mcdonalds Cuzco, where you find some of the most educated in town manning the till with their bilingual skills. Salty as all hell, and leave you feeling like crap after. Quite tasty, really.

The next day we hopped on the afternoon bus, which was harder than it should be. There were probably 40 seperate bus companies in the station, and most of them have a dude that will run out yelling all their destinations, and trying to convince you to take their companies. Lots of old pictures of buses, taken when they were new, and exaggerations are thrown around, and you have to be able to discern which may be true. We found the cheapest and still decent company, and got on. It was a decent bus, but this was another twisting pass through the Andes, which is always extremely windy, and either straight up or down. Not sleep promoting, at all. Orin had a particularily terrible night, and when I fell asleep in the early morning, I was woken a couple hours later, being told that we missed the town, Pisco, so we decided just to keep on trucking, instead of backtracking an hour, and go to Lima, then a northern beach. We stopped in Lima for a couple hours, a little repulsed by all the pollution you saw hanging heavy in the air. Soon we were on a 5 hour bus to a beach.

We arrove at Casma around 8 at night, after a hefty run of buses. The Pan American is pretty dope, so the buses up the coast are quite pleasant. The scenery is not very enticing, as it is mostly dunes, but still pretty neat. Hungry as we were, we decided to head out to Tortugas, the beach near Casma, and get some food there. We called ahead to make reservations for a place that looked sweet, and caught a collectivo out. We arrove to find absolutly no life in this small town around the bay, and were really beginning to doubt our being able to find an open restaraunt. We were dropped off at our hostal, then discovered it was not the number we called, but the name. We had not reservation and it cost twice as much. Being the only place open in town we stayed... our car was gone.... but I still wonder what place we called and was expecting the four of us all night. hmm..We did manage to find a restaraunt that would feed us, and then off to bed, as their was nothing else to do.

The next day we packed our bags, and walked down the the main 'area', where the collectivos left from. There was about 3 or 4 vendors, all with some fruit and bread and snacks, and we bought 4 huge avocados, an onion, a tomatoe and some lime, and 12 buns, and went crazy. It was some of the best guac we've made the whole time, sitting on the edge of the beautiful bay, watching the pelicans tuck and fall into the water. We went back to Casma right after, and went and visted some ruins.. which were kind of lame, supposed to have pretty crazy brutal drawings of `evisceration´on the wall.... but none of us knew what that was and even after seeing the drawings it wasn't very clear... but there were lots of hornets and little bugs that left big bites. What we did see that was cool was the legendary hairless Peruvian hotdog, which is pretty bad ass looking and creates excessive body head, so it hot to the touch. Sweet. Also all four of us rode in a two man motorcart, me sitting on a metal bar beside the driver, ripping down the PanAmerican at 70, passing the highway cops with a wave.

That day we caught an awesome old muscle car to a nearby town, where we could get a cramped bus to our current haven, Huanchaco. Huanchacho is an amazing beach town, with some really great waves and some fantastic surfers. We've rented some boards and have put in a couple of really awesome days surfing. Orin seems to be quite adept to it, and is impressing us all. It has an amazing street meat scene, and I get shiskabobs and stuffed potatoes almost every day. There is also an out of this world bakery that is fatenning us up with apple pies, apple turnovers, and peach deliciousness. Our hostal is a really nice place with a rooftop that is very nice to hang out on. We have been here for a week now and it is a great place. We checked out the nearby ruins called Chan Chan, and they were really amazing. Getting a tour guide was really worth it, as he explained all the symbolism behind the art, which we never would have been able to figure out ourselves. Well... that sums it up. We are just taking it easy here, there have been many cheers, and beers and sun, and surf. We are so glad to be back at the beach, and I am hoping to get a tan worthy of travelling in South america for over 4 months!! haha.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Machu Picchu

Alright... all the way back at Macchu Picchu.. what can i remember...

We got up around 430, and luckily had been smart enough to prepare everything the night before. Our bags were stuffed with bread, avocado, onion, bananas, passionfruit, oranges and chocolate. We had been told by both our guide and the woman at the tourist office that we would be allowed to bring in food, but when we got our ticket the evening before, post food buying, it clearly stated you could not enter with any water or food. That was absolutely ridiculous. I hate tourist traps like that, it is such a scam. Nonetheless, we decided that we would bring it all up anyways and just hope for the best. The hike up was ruthless, as we picked our way up the old Incan stairs in the dark. The moonlight lit our way, and the only time it was hard to see was when people came by with their flashlights blazing and ruined your night vision. After about an hour and a half we came huffing up to the gate of Machu Picchu, which already had quite a line formed behind it. They had just begun letting people in when we arrove, and saw numerous people turned back for having water (seriously....) and food in their bag. Nervous but not giving up we made our way to the gate, and miraculously picked the right line and wizzed by while listening to the girl on the other side protesting about how she didn't want her bag checked. Guilty for sure.

Once into Machu Picchu we immediately crossed to the other side of the ruins and got in another line... this time to make a reservation so that we could climb up Huanupichu, the towering mountain that you see lurking in the back of pretty much every Machu Picchu picture. They only let 400 people climb it per day, and because we showed up early we managed to get a reservation for the second wave, going up at 10. Relieved, all of our worries of food and reservations gone, we climbed up to a little house on a hill and sat down, relaxing and taking in the beautiful view while we waited for the sun to rise, all the while sneakily eating bananas. It was a lovely sunrise, quite late in the morning, as it rose over a huge mountain, part of the daunting landscape that Machu Picchu is set in. We hung out for a while, looking at the ruins and taking pictures, when we realized that we missed the start of our tour, and thinking we could see our guide and group, we walked over to where they were. Unfortunately this was not him, but we sat in for a while, learned some things, and then started our own little adventure. We explored for a couple hours, ocassionally dropping in on other tours, and spent a good amount of time hanging out with the Llamas that roam all around Machu Picchu, much to tourist delight.

Around nine nature called and we had exit Machu Picchu to use the bathroom, where we decided we might as well eat our first avocado sandwich, as we had already been up for over 4 hours and it was pretty much our lunch time. Walking back to the gate we here a very daunting statement ´Where is my ticket? Has anyone seen my ticket?!?´. This statement dropped from the mouth of a Rylie Johnson, and was no joke. He searched around ferverously for a while, checking every where his ticket could possibly be, even the garbage can, and was unable to find it. We were all very worried. The tickets cost 50 american, and even if we had the money to buy a new one, they don't even sell tickets at Machu Picchu anyways! Many vulgarities spewed from many mouths, and we walked up to the gate, ready to try our last option. We told the woman our problem, she said 'uh oh' and stared at us. Uh oh was right. Well was there anything that we or she, or anybody could do!! Well.... she paused...... do you have any pictures of him in there. YES!!! YES WE DO!!! I yelled in excitement, and busted out my camera, turning it on to a picture of a llama. ´That's not him´she said. ´almost´i replied. She laughed a little, I found a picture of Rylie hanging out by a ruin, and she stamped his wrist and let him in. We all laughed hysterically in relief, slapping eachothers backs in glee. It was awesome! We walked over to Huanupichu, our second hurdle, and even managed to explain our way into getting Rylie in without his reservation (which was clipped onto his ticket). We were so happy as we began that climb, barely able to believe that it had all worked out so well!

The climb up Huanupichu was really intense, with many abruptly steep stairs beside plummeting cliffs. Luckily, unlike the Inca's, we had a big metal rope, secured into the rock on the extra sketchy areas, to cling to. After a lot of effort we arrove at the top, completely out of breath, but any breath we did have was taken away by the amazing view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. We sat and rested, creeping on people through Jordans massive zoom lens, and eating more illegal bananas. The view of Machu Picchu was not the only amazing thing concerning Huanupichu, as it had some amazing Incan work on it as well. Amazingly steep areas of the mountain had all been terraced, some with strawberries growing on it. I ate one and then Orin scared me by telling me that I was probably going to die, and then my paranoia kicked in and I realized it was a very foolish thing to do, eating jungle fruit as far away from a hospital as I could possibly be, but luckily my rationality stopped me from incuding vomit, and only left me glaring at Orin for egging me on.

At the very top of the mountain we found a path leading down to the ¨Great Caves¨, which we had seen met back up with the main trail, and we had planned to go see it on our way down anyways, so we just decided to take this alternate route. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We went down, and down, and down, into a burning ring of fire. We went down down down, and our water got lower. And it burned burned burned, that ring of fire, that ring of fire (being the scorching mid day sun, that happened to be glowering on that side of the mountain.) The stairs seemed to go down forever, much farther than I thought we had to go to meet back up with the path. We were also very, very low on water, and realized that we were not prepared to be lost in the jungle. Finally, we reached the great cavern, which was not so much great, as a waste of our time, water and energy. It also turned out that we had hiked down so far, that we then had to go way the hell back up. It was a long way back, and many many stairs, and we had very little water. I was soooooo thirsty and tired from all the stairs already, and was regretting this adventurous decision. We were well out of water and hope when we finally reached the trail head, and collapsed with happiness! There we met a Machu Picchu official, who was combing the trails, telling us we were the last people in there and it was closing, so we had to leave. No problem with us, and we bombed our way out of there, to collapse onto the grass of Machu Picchu.

By this time it was about 3 in the afternoon, and the park closed at 5. We knew that there was one more thing that we really wanted to see, which was the Incan draw bridge, which Rylie had read was really awesome, and had crazy cliffs on both sides of it. Cool. We sent Jordan the mighty to go get us some water, and he returned with two tiny bottles, at 8 soles each!!! Holy crap! You can usually get two litres for 3 soles. What a rip. (rant time....) I absolutely hate when they set up these tourist traps so sneakily and with such clear intent. To part us with as much money as possible! Okay, so you are charged 50 american for enterance, where you are not allowed to bring in food or water (which if we hadn't snuck it in would have resulted in our dead corpses being removed from the mountainside of Huanupichu), and then they charge you 3 or 4 times the price of what anything is worth. Not to mention they charge you for the bathroom as well. Could that not be included in the exorbatent ammount of money you have to pay to enter? It is just not fair.

So jordan came back with enough water to wet our lips, as these bottles were TINY, but spent enough to keep us hydrated for a week. We then commenced the fairly easy hike to the Inca bridge, which turned out to be pretty lame. It was kind of just a piece of wood leaning over some stones. It was all well enough though, because we sat down in peace and ate an avocado sandwich. We then hiked back and exited the park on of the last to leave. First to arrive, last to leave, it was a very full day of Machu Picchuness. Once again, insulted by the overpriced busses we walked our weary legs down the mountain home. Orin and I took the road as my knee was really bugging me, and when dark fell we had our own personal show by lightening bugs. It was really beautiful.

That evening we went to the hot springs, which were just some scummy looking pools up in the town, but really felt good on our sore muscles. We hung out there for half an hour until the power went out and left us sitting in the dark. The mountain was covered in lightening bugs though, so we got another cool little show, and were happy that jordan and rylie got to see them too. We carefully rinsed off in the dark, changed, and wandered our way back into town for dinner and a delightful sleep. It felt soo good getting into bed that night, and I knew that I would be sore as hell tomorrow.

Well.... the dude at the computer shop is hungry and kicking us out for lunch! Bye

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sooo.... It has definatley been a while since I wrote, and have gotten a few notes of concern so I will fit in as much as I can before we run off to a grand 24 hour bus ride.

The whole crew it here now. Jordan arrove bagless, which turned out to be a bit of a pain in the ass but after some work we managed to get it back. They forwarded it to Cuzco, which helped us out a lot, as we really didn't want to hang out in Puno for any longer than we had to. It is the dirtier, uglier brother of Copacabana, and is missing the esential soul of goodness, which is trout. And it's twice as expensive. So we did a bit of resting up, the boys got over their jet lag and we jumped on a bus to Cuzco.

We hung around Cuzco for a while, being hounded by the unlimited sunglass vendors and blanket sellers, who refuse to take no for an answer, and wondered why everything is in English, which is also the predominant language on the street. As much as I need them, I loathe tourist towns. We booked a tour up to Machu Picchu for the amazing price of 130 American, for a three day two night tour. We got really lucky with this, as Machu Picchu is amazingly expensive. The bus ride up there was absolutely insane, and a serious challenge to the overly publisized Death Road in Bolivia. We survived and didn't get a lame ass tshirt from it, though I did get a harsh case of car sickness and had to get the bus driver to pull over so I could lay on the sparingly cold grass an try not to vomit. I suceeded, though just barely.

This road was aboslutely insane, as was the driver, who though he knew the road well, was definately a road warrior and was one of those that had a lead foot until about 5 meters from a corner, and then slammed on the brakes. A sure cure for nausea..... It climbed high up into the mountains, raging along the road that had steep cliffs dropping down into green valley's. There were probably a hundred switchbacks, compelte 180 turns that allowed up to climb us such steep mountainsides, leaving me a quivering pile of nerves and illness. Before most blind corners the driver would let out a honk and flash his lights, notifying whatever other maniac was veering towards us on the other side. There were definatley a number of close calls.The one slightly redeeming factor was that it offered amazing views of the plummeting valley's below.

I made it without dying or hurling my body out the window, and we packed our stuff out and onto the train, which was quite fun. We all stuck our heads out the window taking in the view, and after a fairly short train ride arrove at Aguas Callientes, where we were shown to our Hostal by our tour guide. It was a pretty nice place, and we had some good, if exhausted, sleeps there. All in all it took us about 10 hours to get there. We ate our free dinner, set the alarm for 4 20am, and went to bed.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Goodbye Bolivia

On Friday night we were alone in Copacabana. We drowned our sorrows (even though it, as usual, was really nice to be back to the basic) in trout. Beautiful, lovely Trout. Copacabana was filled with rich Bolivians and Peruvians, all coming to party for the Labor Day weekend. At the beach they were renting out dirt bikes to rip up and down a dirt road and a bit into the mountians. I won't lie, we were very much tempted by these machines, but resisted, as there were a hundred drunken dudes already sharing the road with speeding buses and trucks. Also the bike we were offered was a little sketchy and missing a passenger foot peg. After weighing the risk of smearing our brains all over the road we decided to withhold until Canada, where Orin has his lovely dirt bike waiting for him.

That evening there was a big parade, which consisted of a group of women, followed by a group of men, followed by a marching band, all dancing slowly down the street. Two steps forwards, one step back. It was a long parade... haha. There were a lot of old folks dancing in this parade, many looking as though they weren't going to make it. One elderly guy, covered in sweat, busted out beside us and left. I have a feeling that this happens all through out the parade. The marching band was hilarious, as it consisted of a grand brass section who were having a hard time sharing their breath between their lungs and their instruments. Dancing in a parade at such high altitude is hard enough, and everyone had damp brows, but dancing in a parade at high altitude while trying to play a brass instrument is just crazy. I bet someone passes out every year. There were three tuba players at the end, one just barely farting out some off kilter notes, and after the crowd filed in behind and followed. I would not be too happy having to stand behind that tuba player the whole time.

The next day we ate our last trout of Copacabana, and jumped on a bus to La Paz. We got in just before 5 to find the rest of the crew just waking up. They went a little overboard the night before. Wow. For dinner we went to an excellent middle eastern restaraunt, and smoked an apple hooka for desert. It was very, very tasty.

On Sunday we went to the infamous 'Cholita Wrestling', which turned out to be nothing like I expected. It advertized two Cholita, which are the typical bolivian women, dressed up in their big skirts and fancy clothes, wrestling. It is supposed to be something that you shouldn't miss, so we decided to go. It turned out to be quite expensive, and just after we paid for our tickets we noticed that the doormen were wearing medical masks. What is that for, we asked? First they told us that there are sick people in there, and they don't want it to spread, and then they told us that it was a saftety precaution for Swine Flu. Wow. Everyone looked worried about this, but Orin and I assured them that this was just hysteria, and to just relax.

We entered to find that the locals and the gringos were segregated, the locals all against the walls, with the gringos enjoying the prime seating. Things just kept getting weirder. None of the locals had masks on, while most of the tourists were wearing theirs. It was hilarious, so fucking absured and ridiculous. The best part was that a snack was included in this ticket, so most of the gringos had their mask around their neck and were stuffing their face with popcorn. Popcorn that touched so many hands before it made it to their hands, which had touched hostel doors, taxi's, the entry doors and many other things. Hmmm.... As soon as the show started I got an excellent view of all the gringos with their cameras out and masks on. It was glorious.

The first 3 or 4 rounds were extremely lame. It was just dudes dressed up as characters, such as ninja turtle vs escaped inmate, who were really bad at wrestling. Reaction time, people, you need to have a good reaction time to wrestle for money. Well.... maybe not, as they would get hit, and then fly backwards a full second after and fling themselves out of the ring. They got better each time, but still.... why even show the terrible ones, it completely killed all hope and just invited you to be critical. It all followed the same equation: a bit of even fighting, one person begins to brutally win, and after you think the other can never recover, suprise suprise, they did. It's a miracle!!! Finally a Cholita showed herself, and put on a pretty good show. She came out to great cheers, then took a couple minutes to take off her scarf, rings, earrings, necklace, bracelets etc. Why they wear them out there I don't know.... It was pretty awesome to see this little lady throwing down these crazy wrestling moves. She fought a skinny guy, and they were flipping eachother over and getting onto the ropes and jumping on eachother and everything. She was quite good, and I enjoyed that one. After her came some random American dude, who was pretty amusing, and then the final battle. This consisted of two Cholitas vs two dudes. Dissapointing, because honestly I wanted to see come Cholita on Cholita action. Way better, way more fair, and way more intense. This round was really, really weird, to top off the night of strangeness. They began the fight with ripping most of the Cholitas clothes off. Okay.... Then they changed, and came back, and just got the fuck beat out of them. Really. It was really weird, and you didn't really know what to do. You knew it was fake, but it still made you uncomfortable, as they were acting like they were really in pain. They just got owned, the guys even busted out wooden boxes and broke them over their heads etc. One woman started to bleed, and I got worried, until the other woman started to bleed from her head, and I realized it was fake blood (I am pretty sure). But still... it was really strange sitting there and just seeing the poor cholitas just get demolished. They fought tag team for a while, but all that encompassed was the two guys beating the crap out of one cholita while the other looked on from outside the ring, as the ref wouldn't let her in. What the fuck? Finally, they had their little come back and beat the guys up for a bit, but it was nothing like what the guys did to them. Somehow in the end the women won, as expected, but really, they got nailed to the wall. It was just downright weird.
We wandered out of there all a little confused. In the end it was all fake, and a pretty wild experience, but I would never pay 50 bol, 10 can, to see that again. I am positive that Orin's experience was very different than mine..

That evening we got the biggest pizza I have ever seen, and went to see the movie Wolverine. First movie theater the whole time down here, so even though the movie was pretty cheesy, it was lots of fun to watch all this action and mutant shit go down.

The next day was pretty chill until night came. Brenden, Simon and I went to the Prado to pick up another giant pizza, and also so Simon could get his laundry and say goodbye to the family he had been staying with. We ended up wandering into one of the largest protests I've ever seen. It was against Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, who I quite like. He decided to not allow other countries to give Bolivia free clothes in order to help the Bolivian economy, by forcing people to buy only bolivian made clothes. This is an interesting idea, and I can see how this would be beneficial to Bolivia, but there are many Bolivian who cannot afford this much more expensive clothing. The clothes that are sent down are meant to be free, but they are sold quite cheaply at a profit to god knows who...but still, sold quite cheap. It was not a violent riot, but it was still pretty crazy,with big groups of police ripping it through the crowd on their motorbikes.
A couple hours later we returned with the pizza to find our that our darling friends had started without us, and gone hard, already a bottle and a half deep in to the rum. We had to work hard to catch up, but we did. Later that night we went out with a group consisting of Matt, Kate, Simon, Brenden, a nice Argentinian guy we befriended, Orin and I. Unfortuately the other Matt had to go home to Uruguay to shut down his fathers house and take his flight back to the states.
We ended up going out to a tourist bar, for the first time this trip. I did not expect it at all, and when I walked into the room I was shocked, and stood there stuttering for a stupid ammount of time. It was bar packed with a bunch of white people drinking and speaking English. It was absolutely mental, and my intoxicated mind had a hard time wrapping itself around the situation. It was so absured, just hanging out with all these white people in La Paz.... there was absolutly no locals here. The funniest part was that I spent the whole time in the bar talking Spanish with the Argentinian, who didn't speak a word of English. It was my personal rebellion to this twisted situation. The bar closed down and we went to the next, which was the same. Somehow I ended up back in my room at 6 am, taking my malaria pill with wine as that was the only liquid we had. Gross. Really, really gross.

The next morning we were leaving to Tihuanaku, the big Bolivian ruins, and then to Puno in Peru. I really, really regreted the freeness that the liquour flowed the night before, and wondered about my non existant logic at maybe, you know, 3 in the morning, a much more sane hour to go to bed before a big border crossing day. Tihuanku was cool, but extremely overpriced. It was amazing to see how smooth and square they get the rocks, but have heard from a couple travellers that have seen both, that Machu Pichu will blow that away. We caught a bus from there to the border, where we got by pretty easy after answering many question with obvious answers... such as did you do cocaine or marijuana in Bolivia? Oh yes officer, and I have about 3 balloons of it in my stomach right now....

The bus ride to Peru was strange because some woman had all the tourists sitting on blankets, and made me hold this package. Sketchy. I was a little worried that it was filled with cocaine, and was much more worried when a bunch of officers came onto the bus and vigorously checked people. Funny thing was that they only checked the locals, while the tourists sat on the smuggled blankets, holding bags of smuggled goods. I found out afterwards that they were smuggling the cheap Bolivian blankets and clothes to sell in Peru. That evening we ate chicken and slept in a terrible hostal, where the doorguy blared the TV so loud that he must have been part deaf.

Today we found ourselves a really nice hostal, and have a room reserved for Rylie and Jordan TOMORROW NIGHT!!!! I can't believe that we are going to meet them at the airport tomorrow morning. I want to go to bed now just so that they will be here... a travellers christmas. Haha. It is very strange that this portion of our trip is coming to an end, and from now on we will be travelling with others. Exciting and sad at the same time, as I have had such an amazing time just kicking it with Orin. We get along absurdly well, and have an awesome time even doing the lamest things together. From now on things are going to go even faster than before, which is terrifying. In the end I am very excited to come back to Vancouver, but the end of a good travel is bitter sweet, but not to worry, as there have been many conversations of 'next time' already. This time with Clare, for sure!! Not to mention that we have a whole beautiful province to explore this summer, and a whole beautiful country to explore for the rest of our lives. Enough of my lamenting, I hope that BC is heating up nicely for our return, and that everyone is enjoying a lovely spring.