Month: September 2007

Back to La Paz, AGAIN, then Lima

22 Sep – hungover.  Again.  Of course.  And still rather drunk, and very very sleep deprived.  So, we go to breakfast.  Much grumpiness by the two worst affected people – Ben & myself – which ’spills’ over into nastiness.  I pull the old trick of unscrewing the salt cap to the point where it looks like it’s on, but is not.  I think I’m doing it in plain sight of Ben.  Turns out, not.  Ben pours an entire shaker of salt onto his chips.  I can’t help but laugh – while trying to explain/apologise.  But he’s grumpy.  Then I get grumpy.  Then it gets worse, and Ben goes to sulk outside.  And I stay inside, still unable to hold my tongue.  Piss off Pen next, then finally manage to stick to my promise of holding my tongue to myself.

Next, Pen & I head to bus company office.  Ben is being an internet nerd.  Again.  Pen & I have to stop for a rest halfway.  A rest turns into Kruse throwing up into a rubbish bin.  Not feeling too well this morning, apparently.  Eventually we manage to get to the bus company office.  It’s closed.  We sit outside for an hour or two.  It’s siesta time, you see.  Eventually I go look for something to drink.  Find a hostel with beer.  Hope that beer will make me feel better.  Big gamble – but it pays off.  Manage to buy tickets, then head back towards Ben.  Find a small market on the way.  Fireworks.  96% alcohol.  Same shop.  Sold.  Kill time for a while with internet.  Let off one firework outside on the way to bus station.  Don’t touch the transparent killer booze.  Stop off at the pub from last night, to get a photo of our entry in their guest book.  Add a little to it.  Apologise to the owner, who doesn’t seem sure why.  And agree to one drink, to sooth my guilt a little.  He suggest the “I Don’t Remember”.  A special teapot type contraption.  7 shots of spirits in seperate containers, which gradually empty into the centre compartment which is filled with beer.  I gulp it down as quick as possible, as it’s nearly time for the bus to leave.  Possibly not the smartest idea.  But, it’s done, and then I hurry to the bus station.  Get on bus.  Rather comfortable bus, but possibly the most uncomfortable sleep I’ve had yet.  Get up to throw up into the toilet one time during the night.

So, get to La Paz on the morning of the 23 Sep, still feeling like crap.   Go back to the tried and true hostel.  Use their free internet to try and find a place I’d heard rumours of with a swimming pool.  But – no luck.  So check back in.  Then, I discover that the All Blacks game against Scotland is this morning.  And we’re wanting some food.  So, off to La Paz’s self-described “100% Fake English Pub”.  Don’t like the sound of it, but it’s the best bet for rugby.  And sure enough – it delivers.  A little late.  And with a very talkative american co-owner.  But good enough.  Until a little chap with a very high-pitched annoying voice sits directly behind us.  Very annoying.  Even before he starts talking about the haka to his friends.  I don’t think he made a single correct comment.  And then onto the weaknesses of the All Blacks.  After not long, I’m fuming.  His voice is not only annoying, and speaking nonsense – but is extremely loud.  I mutter under my breath for some time, but Ben is the first to crack.  The irish guy (turns out he’s irish) had said something about the All Blacks not having a chance to win the world cup, because of their weak defence.  Ben turns around to point out that their is a zero next to scotland on the board.  Then it’s all on.  I finally get dragged in to ask the guy if he’s talking to Ben, or the people at the opposite end of the bar.  My voice trembling with suppressed rage.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been talking nonsense to his friends at an appropriate level.  But he obviously intended everybody in the bar to hear his private conversation.  And there was an irish couple seated near us, who obviously were now cringing – ashamed of this chap.  And without talking to them, they’d seemed nice.  We talked to them afterwards, and they were indeed nice, and indeed were cringing about the little leprechaun.  Ahhh.. the leprechaun.  Several phrases which he used repeatedly (and by repeatedly, I mean over 10 times each):  ”I saw the game against Italy, and they really showed up the NZ centre defence” , “If they’re struggling to put Scotland away, there’s no way they can go much further” , “Scotland, I mean no offence (to his socttish friend), but they’re the whipping boys of the 6 Nations now” , “As soon as you face Australia or South Africa, they’re going to mop the floor with you”.  And yes, we did use certain facts to try to stop him from repeating himself.  The scores of the games against Italy & Scotland, for example.  And the result of the Tri-Nations.  But still, he’d just keep going.  Eventually I went and sat elsewhere.  I returned later, and Ben had managed to calm him down somehow, and they were discussing rugby in a normal tone, and it seemed to be rather more rational.  Pen & I chatted with his friends, who were much more restrained.

After a while, and getting the american guy to make bloody marys for the bar – by individually peeling, squashing, and filtering tomatoes – Pen remembered it was Sunday.  And therefore, the wrestling was on.  So off we went.  Figured out how to get there, and went there.  Taxi to the satellite city of La Paz – and queued up for tickets.  Ladies wrestling, is what it’s advertised as.  We’re forced to buy a “Tourist Ticket” – which is about 10 times the price of locals.  But they show us a pre-printed blurb to explain why – and please don’t argue.  It kind of makes sense, but obviously lies.  ”Protect the local atmosphere”.  Then, when we get inside, all the tourists are on plastic chairs right by ringside.  But, we get two free toilet passes – a free snack – and a souvenir.  Toilet passes – turns out there are 5 toilet stalls.  One with a sign on the door saying “Tourist Toilet”.  The girl at the toilet entrance unlocks the padlock on it when we want to use it.  Hmmm.  Free snack – not bad, a drink and a choice of chips or popcorn.  Souvenir – a tiny tiny little figurine of a woman.  Not a woman wrestler.  Just a local woman holding something.  Maybe a watermelon?  Too small to really tell.

But then, the wrestling.  Turns out to be normal pro-wrestling – mostly guys.  A couple of girls involved at the end.  But all in all, pretty cool.  There was a group of koreans(?) sitting near us.  One of the bad guys (dressed in military fatigues) came out, and teased the korean tourists with the old ”slant-eye” gesture.  Helping the tourists figure out the good guys from bad, I guess.  Not that hard anyway – the ref always hugged the bad guy when he got in.  The same ref for every match.  Bad guy.  At one point I stood up to threaten him, and security rushed in to make me sit down.  Thought the gringo couldn’t tell fact from fiction.  After not long, the crowd was throwing stuff at the contestants.  Fruit, empty plastic bottles, etc.  Anything.  Children running through the protective barriers to recover ammo.  I got my hand slapped by one wrestler.  Pretty happy.  Then, near the end, the fireworks started.  Not literally – unfortunately.  Wish I’d taken some though.  But, they started throwing each other over the protective barriers – into the crowd.  And of course, the crowd next to the barrier is all tourists.  The koreans took a couple of serious poundings.  Guys fully thrown over, and landing in their laps.  People and chairs flying everywhere.  Awesome.  The second time – about 8 people went flying, including the guy right next to me.  I was just on the right side of the border between amused spectators, and dazed unwilling participants.  I think that may have been one of the ladies that was thrown, actually.  Anyway – all in all a good night.  Rather tired by the end of it.

24 Sep – get up and figure we need to do some useful stuff.  First on the list – making sure Ben can actually stay a bit longer than originally intended.  He’s got agreement from work – so now we just need to see if he can actually change his flights.  So – off to see the airline.  Airline is closed for siesta.  We wander around a bit.  Back to airline.  Ben gets told there are no seats available for any appropriate days.  Dumb.  Do some shopping on the way back.  None of the jerseys fit me very well.  Which is a shame, because there were some spectacular ones.  Pen breaks a mirror.  Then, buy bus tickets to Lima for tomorrow morning (a 26 hour journey) and back to the hostel.  Ben confirms there are actually seats available – and we head all the way back to the airline.  It’s closed.  Dinner, then back to hostel.  Much walking today.  So, I brew up some coca tea.  I’ve discovered that if one chops up coca leaves, and drinks them through the yerba mate equipment – one gets a very odd feeling.  Rather hyperactive.  Then – somebody puts a DVD on.  The Transformers.  Sweet.  Ben rushes down, followed by Pen, and we watch Transformers, with coca tea and cerveza.  After this, Ben & I are wide awake – so we then put on The Simpsons.  Pen goes to bed.  2am or so – we’re asked to finish up.  Sure.  Have to be up at 7 anyway.

7am, 25 Sep.   We struggle up.  Not feeling the best.  Catch a taxi to the bus terminal, with the french guy whose DVD player and discs we watched last night.  Onto the bus.  Which is a van.  Drive to the Peruvian border – then we do Bolivia migration, walk across a small wooden bridge, to Peru migration – and then find our bus company.  Luggage has been dropped off – and we now apparently wait for an actual bus.  Got an hour to kill – so wander around the town.  Lots of street stalls selling DVDs.  Including Terminator 4, and Apocolypto 2 & 3.  For those of you who don’t know – these technically don’t exist.  To my knowledge, although perhaps they have come out since I’ve been away?  I doubt it.  I’ve been looking for Die Hard 5.  Back to bus company – and all our stuff and fellow passengers have gone.  Go to look for them, and succeed.  Yay.  Then, wait around while they clean the outside of the bus.  Onto the bus.  Pen & I have 2 of the Death Seats.  2nd floor, right up the front.  Most likely to die in case of an accident.  Sweet.  Comfortable though, as we can put our feet up on the window; and a good view of oncoming traffic – which sometimes isn’t such a good thing, as bus drivers here love to overtake.  Movies start to be played.  Some DVDs work, some don’t.  But – there’s a constant stream of them.  Constant.  Eventually, sometime after dinner is served, they stop.

26 Sep – more DVDs.   Breakfast.  Then, finally, Lima.  Pushy taxi drivers first thing in the morning after a 26 hour bus ride is not a good thing.  It only took the first guy two attempts at asking if I wanted a taxi before I lost the pleasant tone to my voice.  Didn’t quite snap, but was pretty close to.  But, eventually, we got ourselves together, and got a taxi.  Took us to a taxi he obviously gets a commission from – but then talked down the price for us.  So – we’ve got a place to stay.  And tired.  But – need to get Ben’s goddamn flight home sorted.  So, we have lunch, then find the airline office.  Busy.  With half the staff at lunch.  Ben takes a ticket.  Pen & I find the bar of a 5-star hotel, and have some drinks.  I drink reasonably priced beer, Pen drinks champagne cocktails.  The toilet has a huge bottle of listerine, with a pump lid.  I take full advantage.  Eventually Ben comes out.  Reckons it’s gonna cost a ludicruous amount of money to change his flights.  Dumb.  We head back to the hostel.  Pen & I find a supermarket.  Buy blue cheese, wine, and beer.  A man approaches me in the supermarket, trying to sell me marijuana and/or cocaine.  I find the concept of buying cocaine in a supermarket amusing, but decline the nice man.  I wonder what would he do if I insisted on taking it to the check-out girl for a price check?  Back to the hostel, and we sit outside with some pleasant beverages, and cheese.  Then, we head back towards supermarket.  Stop at travel agency – and buy luxury bus tickets to the northern border for tomorrow afternoon.  Ben & Pen return to the supermarket.  I return to the hostel, and wait for them.  They eventually return, laden with ridiculous foodstuffs.  Blue cheese.  Soft cheese.  Hard cheese.  Bread.  Vienetta icecream.  Artichokes.  Palm hearts.  Foie gras.  Sparkling wine.  Red wine.  I don’t know what else.  But we eat it.

27 Sep – sleep in a fair bit, and then spend a while at the breakfast table finishing leftovers from last night.  Eventually we leave.  Taxi to the bus station – and drop off our stuff.  Then, taxi to the centre of Lima.  Spot the famous Lima traffic jams on the way.  Not much time to do the main sights – but we’ll give it a go.  Marvel at the central square (is pretty cool) while rushing past it.  First – the Museum of the Inquisition.  Based in the base of the Spanish Inquisition for all of South America.  Not as big or impressive as I’d expected, but not bad.  A couple of lifesize models being tortured.  A large jury/parliament type room.  Where each desk has a Philips brand speaker with electronic voting device included.  The spanish inquisition was far ahead of it’s time.  And that’s about it.  Then – on to the San Francisco Monastery.  This had tickled my attention buds when I’d happened to read a line regarding the discovery of the catacombs.  In which there is the bones of 70,000 people.  Only discovered in 1951, they reckon.  So, we went there.  Very little time left.  Only option to see it is a guided tour.  We join a spanish language tour.  Cursing everytime somebody asks a question.  Nice library though.  And a couple of nice altars and churchy stuff and what-not.  Very nice in fact.  Catacombs are the last top.  Very very short on time now.  Into the catacombs.  Bones.  Lots and lots of bones, everywhere.  Ben and I sneak off down side passages, and find more bones.  Pits of bones.  Shelves of bones.  Rooms where each type of bone has been put into it’s own compartment.  So many bones.  But, eventually we run out of time.  The tour group has done a full circle of the catacombs – and the guide is about to show everybody a side passage which Ben & I had already sneaked down.  We take our leave, and scarper.  Find a taxi – and we’re off.  Taxi seems to take a different way back.  Seems to be heading further and further off track, into some less than busy looking streets.  I get a little nervous, but think we’re still going in vaguely the right direction.  Make sure that Ben is sitting behind the driver – so that in trouble we can both grab him.  Then Ben & Pen ask me if we’re going in the right direction also.  We wait a little longer – but I’m ready to try to drive the car from the passenger side after telling Ben to grab the driver from behind.  Then – tow truck, backing sports car into garage, blocks road.  Completely stops, while they offload the car.  We’re certainly past the time we’re supposed to be at the terminal – but with some time to spare until the bus actually leaves.  Tow truck takes it’s time.  Then, the truck won’t restart.  Nervous laughter.  Eventually, it moves.  And we get to the bus station without being kidnapped, and with the bus still there.  Yay.  We get on the bus.  But my can of beer is confiscated.  Dumb.  Take our seats.  We’ve put Ben right up the front, in a Death Seat – and Pen&I right down the back.  More movies.  Dinner.

Next update, we play bingo on the bus.  Also, cross the border into Ecuador, and hopefully get rid of Ben.

Salar de Uyuni

I’ve got a plastic bag next to my legs containing a one litre bottle of 96% ‘drinkable’ alcohol, and a dozen pieces of fireworks.  So I’m going to rush things a bit.

18 Sep – we went shopping.  Ben & I bought a suit each, while Pen sat playing with the young boy who liked to throw his food on the floor and sneak peeks at the big gringos trying on trousers.  We bought suits.  And ties.  Paisley ties, Moscow 1980 Olympics ties, and others.  Then Ben does his nerd thing for ages.  I buy more ties.  Big strong bear tie.  Big wide stripey tie.  Then we sit around.  Meet arsetralian Pete again.   From Rio.  Ran into him in Copocabana, and then he enters our hostel.  He has a girlfriend now, and doesn’t seem to want to play chess against Kruse so much anymore.  Fair enough – I wasted him last time.  And girlfriends are better than chess.

Anyway, we went to the bus station to get on our bus.  After a while, a lady leads us and other gringos to the bus.  Out of the bus station.  Along the road.  Across the road.  Along another road.  Reasonably long walk – enough to make the gringos start laughing nervously.  Eventually, we find a bus parked on the side of the motorway.  Then, we wait while locals load huge sacks of something onto the bus.  Ben feels not so good.  Ben is a hom.  One hour later – we get onto the bus.  Then we leave.  Finally.  Pen & Ben find it uncomfortable.  Fair enough, I guess.  Lingering smell of faeces (from when we were waiting – concrete canal of something which smelled suspicious).

19 Sep – we arrive in Uyuni a little late.  But early enough to get our stuff, go to tour agency and confirm we actually have a tour, and then breakfast.  I don’t get my eggs.  I like eggs, but he didn’t give them to me.  Dumb.  Then, into the landcruiser.  We have one arsetralian couple, and one israeli.  His name is weird, so I decide to call him Jude.  Short for judaism.  Our driver/guide is called Oscar.  We drive places.  Train cemetery.  Group of kiwis thinking they’re funny wearing cowboy hats and bandannas.  Ben & Kruse actually being funny wearing suit with tie.  Then, small town where they process the salt.  Buy trinkets – cup & dice made of salt.  Then, we get to the salt flat proper.  Salt flat is cool.  Big.  White.  Flat.  Salt.  Take a few inappropriate photos, then go on.  Stop again, more photos.  Don’t take advantage of the lack of perspective for cheesy photos.  Do take advantage of the large amount of white powder for cheesy photos.  More driving.  Salt hotel.  Hotel made of salt.  Have a beer.  Paddle in their pool, wearing suit.  Lick the wall.  Drive on – nearly leaving Penelope behind.  Not quite.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Island in the middle of the white.  Cactus which is 1200 years old.  German girl in bikini pretending to hug cactus.  Ben & Kruse in suits.  Lunchtime – we buy lots of cerveza.  Give Oscar one.  We kind of set the precedent regarding booze.  Drive on.  Another salt hotel.  Have a nice cuppa tea, and nearly watch sunset.  Drink whisky.  Drink beer.  Drink wine.  Teach israel & arsetralia the chinese dice game.  Drink more.  Eventually – bedtime.

20 Sep – up at 5:30.  Quick breakfast.  I eat nada, as hangover and dry bread do not mix well.  Into landcruiser.  Oscar drives us onto the salt, and we watch the sunrise.  Cool.  Then – onwards.  Us and arsetralians played the “What’s your favourite song about …?” game.  Good game.  It quickly turned into “Name every song you can think of about …?”  Better game.  Then we went to a pre-incan cemetery.  Mummies in rock holes.  One had a hat on.  One had his skull sitting next to his pelvis & spine.  Then we drove some more.  Saw some pink flamingos.  I scared them all away so that people had to walk to other places to take photos.  Then we drove some more.  Oscar drives good.  Another lake.  More pink flamingos.  And some white ones.  Lunch – and a very expensive (relatively) bottle of wine.  More driving.  Saw a big stone that looks like a tree.  It’s called the stone tree.  Inappropriate photos.  Or appropriate photos.  Depends on your perspective, I guess.  More lakes.  More flamingos.  Then a red lake.  Lake – very red.  Very pretty.  Then to a tiny settlement in the middle of the desert – and negotiate a room.  Arsetralians and kiwis are worried for a while.  No bar in evidence.  Kruse does the legwork, and finds one.  Buy cerveza.  Drink cerveza.  Discuss marrying a llama.  Buy more cerveza.  Drink it.  Kruse goes back, buys ALL the cerveza.  And a bottle of wine.  Rather cold by now.  Very very cold.  Drink the cerveza sitting around the fire.  Put balaclavas on.  Scare swiss girls in next room.  Ha.  Off to bed late and drunk, after being told we’re leaving at 4am.

21 Sep – I wake up to daylight.  Figure the whole 4am thing hasn’t gone too well.  The israeli is full of panic.  Tries to wake up Oscar.  Lady tells him to let Oscar sleep.  I want to tell him to let Kruse sleep – but I’m just too damned nice.  Eventually we all get up.  Nearly every other landcruiser is gone.  Three left.  Two with two flat tyres.  Including ours.  The raucous noise from the guide’s hut/quarter starts to make sense.  I notice many empty beer cans there.  Either drunken joke, or malicious anti-our-company – but either way Oscar is looking dishevelled, and we have two flat tyres.  And Oscar seems to have a bruise under his eye.  So – tyres re-inflated, and we’re off.  Oscar is rather obviously still drunk.  Some rather fast driving – but Ben & myself are happy – as we’re hoping to find out, and catch, whoever punched our Oscar.  Oscar does have several conversations with people we meet at various scenic points.  Nothing which seems like accusations though – so no biffo.  We see some lakes.  Green lake is my least favourite.  Geysers.  I don’t like geysers.  Then, a hole with steam coming out.  We have a genuine flat tyre.  I help Oscar change the tyre, and also play with the steamhole.  Throw rocks into it, and watch them fly up.  Find some snow – throw that in.  Snow is cold.  Very very cold at 5200m above sea level.  I roll the flat tyre over the steam hole.  Sweet.  More driving.  More lakes.  Llamas.  Start drinking whisky.  And playing the “Speights beer cap trivia game”.  Didn’t have speights.  Did have a bottle of whisky.  You figure it out.  Then we saw some big rocks.  I climbed a big rock.  More landcruiser.  More speights-beer-cap-game.  Finished the whisky.  Onto the bottle of wine bought last night.  Then, another flat tyre.  About 200 metres from the outskirts of Uyuni township.  Borrow a tyre from another landcruiser driving past.  Back home.  Sweet.

Then – try to get bus to La Paz.  But they’re all full.  So – decision made… a night in Uyuni.  Pizza for dinner, video camera filming band also seems to like us.  We act appropriately.  Or inappropriately – depends on your point of view, I guess.  Find a hostel.  Drop stuff of.  Drop Pen off.  Ben & Kruse go for a walk.  Pass on the gringo bar despite it advertising “No chickens”.  Drink at a restaurant next to a table of teenage german girls.  Talk serious stuff.  Growing old, marriage, children, wishing we were single so we could  do more than be looked at by 6 teenage german girls.  Restaurant closes.  We eventually settle for the “no chickens” gringo bar.  Order drinks.  Find a big scrapbook – inviting us to write which “extreme drinks you drank”.  No entry is too impressive, other than the entire page of unintelligible drunken scribbling.  We decide something needs to be done.  So we drink the bar.  If anybody has ever seen Ben and myself attempt to “drink the bar” – you’ll know what we did.  And we succeeded this time.  Then a little peroxide-blonde english chap tried to talk to us.  Bad idea.  Ben started picking a fight.  I was in full “Sorry about my mate, he’s a dick and drunk” mode.  But occasionally lapsed into “being Ben” mode.  Eventually little blonde pom and his friends invited us out onto the street to “talk about this some more”.  We agreed.  Then drank their beer while they waited outside.  I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Or maybe a drinker.  Ben being extremely smashed, and bar staff not being too keen on us anymore (used to be keen.  Given free drink out of a clay vessel in the shape of a female body – with a hole to drink from in a most inappropriate/appropriate location)  – we left.  Not too sure what happened after that.  Vague memories and blurry photos of Ben lying on the ground after falling over a knee-high fence in a park somewhere.  A little bit of climbing onto roofs.  Perhaps some breaking into the supper room of an expensive hotel.  Eventually got back to our hostel, after lock-down time.  Tried to break in, perhaps?  Got let in, I think.  Woke up Penelope with “not too sure if the police are after us”. 

And that’s the salt flats.  Highest salt flat IN THE WORLD.  Biggest salt flat IN THE WORLD.  Ten billion tons of salt.  Now is time for me to think of what to do with 96% alcohol and a box of fireworks.  Then bus back to La Paz tonight.

Back To Bolivia

14 Sep – picked up early again from the hotel.  I don’t like being picked up early – as it means waking up early first.  In this case, however, we weren’t really early enough.  Well – somebody wasn’t.  We get to the bus station for our bus to Copacabana – and discover that our tickets are for the bus that has already left.  Honest mistake this time – somebody just booked tickets on the wrong bus.  Dumb.  However, the girl with us lacks initiative, and just stands there for a very long time looking dumb.  Eventually, we buy tickets for the next bus ourselves, and head off.  Get to Copacabana – and have lunch.  Pen & Ben sit around doing Pen & Ben, while hard-working trustworthy hero Kruse goes researching stuff.  A real asset is old Kruse.  Found a cheap hostel – and we drop off most of our stuff there before getting on a ferry to the Isla del Sol.  The Sun Island.  Birthplace of the sun and the moon and all sorts of things.  Ferry is dangerously overloaded – and I watch Pen fall asleep on the rooftop seat with a very low back nearly protecting her from toppling backwards into the lake.  Then, the english couple next to us mention that they’d heard that anybody who is lost overboard – there is no attempt to rescue them.  Most locals view it as an offering to the lake.  Sweet.  I spend the rest of the trip imagining scenarios in my mind of how we would save Pen’s life.  Also – power lines crossing the decently sized channel between mainland and island.  Big long drooping power lines.  Ben & I simultaneously see the potential for an awesome flying fox.  We get to the village on the southern end of the island.  Climb up lots of stairs.  I walked fast, coz I’m a very fast walker.  We kept climbing up and up and up, although we weren’t really sure if it was the way.  Then, instead of buying a thing from tout, I got directions instead.  Then, stopped for a beer, and asked for more directions.  Then we got to the top of the hill.  Took some photos, because the view was pretty.  Then noticed that the track didn’t seem to exist anymore.  So we headed in a general direction.  Ben climbed a hill.  Told us to go one way.  We kind of did, but not quite.  We were off the beaten track.  Then an old man chased us, and caught us.  Friendly enough, but turned out we were supposed to be on the main road – and were supposed to buy a ticket off the nice old man for the northern half of the island.  So we did, and then Ben found us too.  And we got back on the boring actual trail.  Having lost lots of time.  On a trail which people were surprised we were doing at that time – as it should be too late to do so without getting trapped in the middle of nowhere in the dark.  Oh well.  Meet a sheep herder – he recommends a hostel.  Then we find the temple of the sun.  I’d like to watch the sunset from the temple of the sun – but it turns out there’s a big ugly hill between the temple of the sun and the sun.  Bad planning, incan-people.  We have a quick look around.  Can’t see any rock that looks like a puma.  Or any rock that looks like it was used as a table to create the sun and the moon.  There was one – but it seemed a bit small.  Maybe the big creator god fella made little ones then pumped them up into bigger ones.  Maybe.  Then we walked to the northern village.  I was walking slow now, because there was nobody behind us to find Pen if she rolled an ankle or something.  So I walked slow.  Ben walked fast.  Then it got dark.  We met a farmer in a field who recommended a hostel.  Then we got to the village, and let a small boy lead us to a hostel.  It was more expensive than we expected, and even more than the boy had told us – but we took it because we couldn’t be bothered argueing or searching for an alternative.  And it was still about 6 NZ$ each.  I took my smelly shoes off, and hid them under the head-end of Ben’s bed.  Upstairs, we had dinner.  The waitress seemed genuinely slightly mentally retarded.  Perhaps that’s why she liked me so much.  Leaned far too close/over me while taking my order.  We didn’t order much, because we figured we may barely have enough money to eat, and get back to the mainland.  Then, clever old Kruse asks the non-retarded employee whether we can pay with US dollars.  I hated asking this – but the affirmative answer meant we could order lots.  So we did.  Then Ben & Pen teased me about the retarded waitress sneaking into the room later and doing nasty things to poor old Kruse.  I got scared.  Then we went back to our room – and I checked the lock on the door.  But Ben reminded me about ‘tard cunning’, and I figured the staff probably had a spare key.  I got more scared.  But then I remembered my shoes under Ben’s bed, and I cheered up.

We got up on the 15 Sep – with no untoward events having happened overnight.  Sweet.  Up, and about.  Hardworking old Kruse once again goes out and about to research useful stuff, while Ben & Pen do useless things like showers and stuff.  One guy wants to charge us lots for a private boat to Isla del Luna (Island of the Moon).  Eventually, Ben & Pen are ready to leave also.  So we do.  Soon figure out that only way to Isla del Luna seems to be private boat.  Chap again tries to sell ride to us.  We don’t have enough cash.  Try to join in with another group – but the captain doesn’t want to offend the other chap by stealing his business.  So, eventually, we figure we can pay with combo of US dollars and bolivianos.  And this we do.  And we get on a small boat, and off we go.  Long ride to Isla del Luna.  Forty minutes there.  Nice enough Temple of the Virgins.  Then, back on to the boat, and another long ride back to Copacabana.  Again admire the flying fox possibilities.  Get back to the mainland, and check into the hostel.  Nice and cheap and separate rooms – for the first time since Ben arrived.  Then, we go walkabout.  Kruse again was the hero by going to do useful stuff.  Found a place that would give me money.  Then, lunch.  Then, beers on the waterfront.  Meant to go for a ride in the pedal-swans – but didn’t get around to it.  Watched the sunset though – and it was pretty.  Then, went to a restaurant.  I ordered drinks.  2 each of 7 cocktails.  And a red wine came with Pen’s meal for her.  We only got 6 of the cocktails – but they were enough for the meantime.  I walked Pen home, then returned to finish the drinks with Ben.  We chatted with a pair of people at the next table.  Bolivians with chinese heritage.  Chino-Bolivians, as it were.  17 year old boy, and his 25 year old cousin.  We played the question game.  (Truth or Dare – but with only the Truth option).  Going round in a circle, each person allowed to ask any question to anybody, and the truth must be told.  It only took one round before the inevitable.  I didn’t notice at the time, but the next time Ben pointed out that the 17 year old boy asked a large number of homosexually oriented questions towards me.  That may be because I had brain damage.  The toilet doorway was slightly lower than it should be.  I hit my head on the doorway at least five times.  Plus lots of cocktails.  Ben answered one question with the number “2″.  I found the answer so amusing that I wrote it on my hand.  Unfortunately, neither of us can remember what the question was.  Apparently, we couldn’t remember five minutes after the fact.  I have resolved to keep the number “2″ on my hand until I recall.  After the restaurant/bar turned it’s lights off on us, we finally left.  Back home – struggling to open front gate, and all the other things that go with arriving home late rather intoxicated.

So, rather hungover for the 16 Sep.  Pack our stuff, and head to breakfast.  Ben wants me to wear my New Zealand t-shirt which is exactly the same as his – so we can match, but I refuse on the grounds that it is gay.  Much breakfast, then go and get on a bus.  A minibus.  We sit at the back.  After a while, I swap seats with Ben.  So I can sit next to the window.  Then, I throw up out the window.  I feel a lot better after this.  After that, we have to get off the bus – while it is ferried across an inlet of the lake on a very basic ferry.  We get on a motorboat to take us across.  I have a beer, because I feel lots better now.  Ben doesn’t, because he is a prude.  Back onto the bus, and a few hours more until La Paz.  I make friends with a young girl sitting further up the bus.  We play peek-a-boo.  Luckily she’s too far away to smell me.  Near La Paz – the bus stops.  Our bags are on the roof.  I see somebody take them off.  I panic.  I run to the front, and try to get out.  Door is locked.  Pen watches out window – and thinks that they’ve been put in the ‘boot’ luggage compartment.  It has been raining a little, so it makes sense.  We drive off again, and I can’t see anybody running away with our bags – so hope that all is well.  We get to La Paz – and confirm that we still have all our stuff.  Sweet.  Walk to the hostel I stayed at last time – and get accommodation.  Then, walked through the Witches Market, and had a late lunch.  I had a beer, but Ben didn’t – because he is a prude.  Then Ben returned to the hostel because he is an internet nerd.  Pen & I went for a walk to buy chocolate for Pen and gay camomile tea for Ben and a bottle of whisky for Kruse.  Spend the evening in the hostel common room.  Booooooring.

17 Sep – we start panicing about how much time we have, and how to fit things into a schedule.  Around rugby world cup fixtures, of course.  Ben spends all day on the internet – because he is an internet nerd.  Pen & I go walking and shopping and stuff.  Find the market.  The largest market IN THE WORLD!  Thirty city blocks, they reckon.  Find bottles with labels which translate to “Drinkable alcohol – 96%”.  I shudder, and we walk on.  Walk past a reasonably aged child, standing casually on the sidewalk urinating onto the street.  Busy sidewalk, busy street.  Fair enough.  We walk on.  I find fireworks.  Strings of double-happys.  Big big single solid units of fireworks.  Awesome.  Pen won’t let me buy them.  We walk on.  Big market, lots of stuff.  Shoes called Kevin – not big enough for Pen’s giant man-feet.  We walk on.  Lunch, then return to hostel.  Ben is still on the internet.  He is a nerd.  Pen & I go for another walk.  Bus station – and do some research.  Past a man urinating on the wall.  We walk on.  Back to centre of the city.  Walk past a small local-type bar.  I have a hankering for a cerveza.  Pen won’t let me go in.  We walk on.  Then some shopping for trinkets.  And back to hostel.  Ben is still on internet.  Nerd.  I finally convince Ben that if he was to quit his job, or at least get an extra 10 days off work – it makes things much much easier.  He emails to ask.  We then take the more expensive but much easier option of booking a tour to the salt flats through our hostel.  Then – off to dinner.  Get loads of cash out, and head towards an awful gringo bar.  Because Ben is an awful gringo nerd.  Luckily, it’s closed.  So, instead, we head to an awful gringo curry restaurant owned by the same people.  We sit and drink and eat.  A mix up with ordering results in three bowls of rice, and no garlic naan.  Pen knew about the mix-up, but didn’t tell us.  Sometimes she is a real liability.  After a while, a couple of irish folk walk through the door.  They turn out to be the same irish folk as on our Inca Trail group.  They join us, and we chit chat.  Lots of complaining about some guys who’d done the mountain bykling down the most dangerous road IN THE WORLD with them.  Apparently lots of “RADICAL!” and “WICKED!” and similar comments.  We laugh and mock them together.  Mocking other people is fun.  Then, we return to the hostel.  Drink whiskey, and all three of us use internet together.  Romantic like.

More Cuzco, then Puno

So, of course, 10 Sep was very hungover.  But, we head to the english pub to watch a replay of France vs Argentina rugby/ruggaz/ruggy.  Unfortunately, I had the wrong day in my head.  It’s tomorrow.  As we leave, the kiwi girl from last night turns up – so Ben stays to have breakfast.  Pen & I have already done that – so we went shopping.  Then, back to the hotel.  Ben ends up spending afternoon at pub.  Drunkard.  I think that’s all that happened today, but it was a long time ago, and memories from that period of my life are hazy at best.

11 Sep, still hazy.  But – we again tried to watch France vs Argentina.  This time – the scheduling seemed to be running about 3 hours late.  So, instead, we bought tickets for a tourist bus to Puno for tomorrow, then returned to hostel and watched NZ vs Italy on the internet.  Best performance we could get was watching 2 minutes of it, then waiting for one minute while the internet caught up.  Annoying.  Guy from travel agency turned up with our tickets.  Well – one ticket, with all three names/seat numbers/etc on it.

12 Sep – we’re picked up from our hotel very early, and taken to the bus company.  Bus company doesn’t like one ticket for three people.  They reckon it means we’ve only paid for one ticket, but have three seats booked.  I can’t find the receipt – so can’t tell them which agency sold us the tickets (and took our money).  But, I try to tell them that they have a computer system, and it must be in there.  They want me to call the agency.  I again explain that I can’t – and that they can.  I am not about to back down, and after a while of looking at two big angry strong kiwis (and cute little Ben in the background), they put us on the bus, and tell us they’ll try to sort it out during the trip.  So, we get going.  Overpriced tourist bus – but it has a bilingual guide, and we stop at four places of interest.  First – some incan ruins.  Big wall that used to be the centre of some temple.  Some houses.  Tourists complaining about having to pay an old lady to take a photo of her.  When she is obviously standing around with big bundle of sticks on her back solely in order to pose for photos – as that is her livelihood.  I hate tourists.  Second stop – just a little collection of handicraft stalls.  And a couple of llama tied up in a lawn in the middle.  Llama spat at me.  Very happy with myself – one of the ‘must-do’ items checked off the list.  Third stop – lunch.  This is when I expect the ticket fiasco to reraise it’s head – but no problems.  We eat lunch, drink some cerveza, and listen to the mariachis.  Fourth stop – some boring museum.  Then, we finally get to Puno.  Barge our way through the touts crowding around the gate to bus ’station’, and start walking.  Find tiny restaurant -where they serve us what seems to be deep fried donuts with a slightly-sambuca tasting sauce.  Then, find a hotel.  Dinner at a joint called Macchu Pizza.  Ha!  Very tired – back to hotel.  Our shower has a huge hole in the wall.  Big enough to crawl through.  It leads to the shower of the room across the hall.  Sweet.

13 Sep – we’re picked up early from our hotel.  Taken to the port – and get onboard a boat.  All the boats are white.  Except ours.  Ours is gold.  Cool.  Boat takes us and several others to the famous floating islands of Lake Titicaca.  Manmade islands constructed of reeds – with communities living on them.  We have the construction techniques explained to us.  Then given a reed each – and told to taste it.  The locals also eat the reeds for breakfast.  Very important to them – the reeds.  Walking on an island made of reeds is pretty cool.  Like a giant waterbed.  Then, of course, they try to sell us some handicrafts and stuff.  Baby herons try to eat me.  Then, catch a reed boat across to the main floating island.  This one has little restaurants, and places for tourists to sleep.  Big floating island made of reeds.  Cool.  I buy some beers for breakfast, while Pen opts for chocolate biscuits.  Back onto the boat – and onwards.  Drink my beers, then fall asleep.  Eventually arrive at a proper island.  Climb to the top – beating heaps of people.  I’m a very fast walker up of islands and inca ruins and stuff.  Sit in the courtyard.  Ben reckons he hates llama hats.  You know the ones that everybody who’s been to South America has?  Woollen hat with earflaps and pictures of llamas on them.  But I find half a llama hat in the market.  Pretty much a headband with earflaps.  Or a llama hat with the top cut off.  I buy it, wrap it in the chocolate biscuit wrapper, and give it to him.  He likes it.  Then, watch the irish man in our group pose for photos with the double thumbs up – and mouth open in an ‘O’ of amazement.  I then pose for several photos using same awful pose.  Some great photos coming your way sometime soon, people.  We have lunch, and irish guy talks to us.  Talk gets to La Paz, and when I say I’ve been there (he has too), he says “So you’d know Vivian’s then?”  Me – “Is that a gringo pub?”  Him – “Yeah.”  Me – “I never went to those sorts of places until these guys turned up.  I hate talking to gringos.”  Didn’t quite come out the way I’d intended, but close enough.  Then, we walk to the other side of the island, and catch the boat back.  Buy some more beers for the trip – and sit up top for the ride home.  Much sun.  Boat seems to break halfway home – and the captain is forced to steer the boat manually from the back.  With a huge grin on his face the entire time, except when we’re trying to take a photo of him.  We get back to Puno safely though – and then book our bus ticket for tomorrow morning to Bolivia, and go for dinner.  Guinea pig, of course, seeing as it is our last night in Peru for some time.  Perhaps ever.

Next update – we get to Bolivia.  Cheap prices again – sweet.  More Lake Titicaca, and then La Paz.  And Ben & Kruse get drunk.  Smashed.

Qusqo, Inca Trail, & Machu Pikchu

Right – lots to write.  But, for those who want a quick update, we’re all still alive.  Although in pain.  Got drunk several times, set out (and succeeded) in offending people, and completed the Inca Trail.  Machu Pikchu is pretty cool.  (And yes – the previous spellings of place names ARE correct, according to the original Quechua.  So back off.)

Long version…  02 Sep we arrived in Cusco/Cuzco/Qusqo.  Very early in the morning, we get off the bus into a small fenced off area.  Certainly not the main bus terminal.  But, we get our bags, walk away from the many touts, and find a taxi driver who isn’t annoying.  Turns out to be a rather nice guy – we chat all the way, and he points out notable locations.  We get off at the main plaza, then walk up a narrow piss-smelling alley, and find a hotel/hostel.  Let the guy bargain down the price by himself a little bit, then take a room.  Then, a very welcome sleep.  Up and at them.  Can’t remember much of what we did during the day.  Brain is hating me for the amount of alcohol I’ve given it recently.  What I do remember is the night time.  Touts all over the square, trying to get us into their restaurant or bar.  Free drinks, etc.  Finally decide on one place, and drink lots of “2-for-1″ cocktails.  Nice meal also.  Then – more listening to touts, and accepting free drinks, then leaving.  Eventually settle in one place, which is one of the more popular/famous bars for gringos.  Have decided to deliberately offend an american.  And when we get into the bar, the resolution is suddenly confirmed as a certainty.  First attempt involves writing something offensive on my portable whiteboard.  Starting with “YOU ARE ALL”, and then a word that I don’t want to write as my ma will be reading this.  Ben was already in fine form, and did some pole dancing on the large carved pillar.  Then I decided I wanted an Anti-Shaker.  Tried to explain the concept to the barmaid, but she took some convincing.  Especially when I explained that all the booze I was listing was to go into one vessel.  And they didn’t have cointreau.  Ben suggested white rum as a substitute.  He’s not very smart.  I took the suggestion.  I’m not very smart.  We got drunker.  I told one chap that him wearing a sweater tied around his waist offended me.  Turned out to be a fellow kiwi.  But he WAS wearing a sweater tied around his waist in a pub.  Later, his girlfriend started chatting to me, and then he joined in.  All friendly-like, with his sweater now around his neck.  I walked Pen home at some point.  More drinks, and at one point a need to go find an ATM for more cash.  More drinks.  Not entirely sure how or why, but I believe I was politely asked to leave the pub – and then forcibly removed.  Then I walked home to sleep.  Luckily it was daylight, so it was easy to find my way.  Felt guilty leaving Ben alone to deal with the barmaid that had strangely taken a liking to him (instead of me) – but he wasn’t far behind me in arriving back at the hostel – so he must have escaped easily enough.  Oh – actually, I got something wrong.  My walking home to sleep wasn’t that simple.  Not sure how, but my memory of the ‘after-pub’ period starts with finding myself at the top of a hill.  I believe I found somebody (or maybe a couple?) who I believed to be too drunk to get home safely.  (Alanis would call that ironic.)  So, (I think) I got him/them a taxi, and got in the taxi myself.  What I do know is that at the point my brain started working again – I was at the top of one of the hills surrounding Cusco, next to a church.  Took a couple of photos, then walked down – and found my way home.  Ben had actually beaten me home – then gone back out to look for me.  I resolved to return the favour – but it was too difficult to get up again after lying down in bed.

So, it was already 03 Sep.  And we all slept.  Sleep was nice.  Then, Ben & I ventured forth to achieve useful stuff while Pen stayed behind and threw up a few times.  We invent a new tactic for the many many touts here.  Every time somebody offers us something, we say “Yes please”, while using opposite body language.  Makes each interaction a little more amusing.  We found a restaurant for a quick bite.  I ordered a beer.  Ben didn’t.  The waiter told him to “Come on…”.  So Ben ordered a beer.  Teased by a local waiter.  Then, we checked in with the tour company we’d booked the Inca Trail with.  Two american girls walk in after us.  They state the day of their tour – which is not the same as ours.  I accidentally exclaim “Thank God!”.  Ben laughs loudly.  I chuckle.  They didn’t hear, I don’t think – because they neither laughed nor chuckled.  We got given a briefing on the tour, which we managed to listen to most of.  Then, headed back home.  Unfortunately, we both had cash – and an excuse to enter shops (had a list of useful stuff we needed).  Hungover/drunk shopping – bought a fair bit of stuff.  Not all of it useful.  Eventually made it back to the hotel, and sat around feeling sorry for ourselves for some time.  Then dinner – where I bought Ben a nice little guitar.  I like giving Ben gifts.  If you don’t believe me, just check his facebook thing.

Some of the things we bought:   balaclavas (awesome balaclavas), a thimble, sunscreen with a supposed SPF of 70, chocolate.

04 Sep arrives, and we’re still not feeling the best.  Or thinking the best.  Walked all the way into town, then in circles, looking for a place to eat.  Eventually returned to the first place we had seen – practically opposite our hotel.  Ordered lots.  Then, went to the market.  Bought some more stuff.  Jandals for Pen & Ben.  New inner soles for my boots.  Disgusting bars of cereal named “KiwiBar”.  A lot of things here have “Kiwi” in their brandname.  So far, all of them we’ve tried have been bad bad food.

After that, back to the hostel, and more sitting around sulking about the after-effects of alcohol.  While I drank some wine.  And I ended up staying up until 2am, despite us needing to get up at 5am for the Inca Trail.  I’ll blame it on my little sister, who started chatting to me on MSN.  But, in reality, I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished my wine.

We did manage to get up on time the morning of 05 Sep though.  Picked up soon afterwards.  First gringos on the bus – but most of the porters were already onboard.  We pick up more and more people, then eventually head out of town.  A couple of hours later – breakfast at a small village.  Ben points out that the other group with three people, sitting at the other end of our table, have a striking resemblance to certain fictional characters.  Harry Potter, along with Ron & Hermione, were in our tour group.  And, just as I always suspected would happen, Ron & Hermione were intimate friends.  I decide to get things off on the right foot by ordering a beer with breakfast.  Lots of shocked looks.

Then, some more bus ride.  Get to the start of the trek.  Everybody puts their packs on.  I discover I have the largest pack on the track.  Ben has the smallest.  He has paid for a personal porter to carry 6kg of his stuff.  I, on the other hand, am carrying sleeping bags for myself and Pen, along with all my other stuff.  Largest pack on the track.  Except the porters.  They carry lots.  The first group photos are taken.  I quickly put on my balaclava.  Somebody exclaims that “there is always one in every group.”  They have got no idea.  I’m just getting started.  We start walking after the first ticket checkpoint.  Doesn’t take Ben & myself long to get bored with the beautiful scenery – and we start using the portable whiteboard.  A quick game of hangman.  It doesn’t MATTER who won!  Then, writing some projects.  For people who weren’t at New Years Waikaremoana, a project is just like projects you wrote as a child.  To clarify, I will narrate the remainder of the day in “project form”.

My Holiday On The Inca Trail – Day 1

On my holiday I went to the inca trail.  The inca trail was nice.  I went with my friends Ben and Pen.  Their names rhyme.  We walked for a long time.  Then we stopped.  I drank a cerveza.  Nobody else did.  Then we walked some more.  I ran very very fast for the last twenty metres.  The irish man said to pen that he’d bet I wouldn’t do that the next day.  He was wrong.  Irish people aren’t very smart.  There were tents already set up.  Ben slept in the same tent as ‘arry potter.  I slept in the same tent as Pen.  We have sleeping bags that can be joined to make one big sleeping bag.  So we can cuddle.  I like cuddling.  But not kissing.  Kissing is yuck.  That is how you get girl germs.  I had a bottle of whiskey.  We drank whiskey.  And cerveza.  Then we had dinner.  I felt funny, and said funny things.  I think I drank too much whiskey.  I had told Ben that I was going to tell lies about him to the other people.  I told him my first idea for a lie.  But Ben told ‘arry potter the lie before I could.  The lie was funny.  Now everybody thinks that Ben has a cut on his tummy because he got stabbed in a brawl at a gay bar.  Then we went to sleep.  We were tired because we had walked a long way.

By Kruse.

06 Sep – My Holiday On The Inca Trail – Day 2

We got woken up early again.  But the porter people brought us a cup of tea to our bed.  I like the porter people.  One porter is 63 years old.  That is very old for a person who carries 25 kilograms of stuff over hills.  I was only carrying 11 kilograms of stuff.  Until the second rest stop.  The second rest stop was the last place we could buy cerveza.  Or ron.  Rum is called ron here.  Just like ‘arry’s friend.  At the rest stop we bought lots of cerveza.  And ron.  Me and ben had walked very very fast.  I was the fastest out of everybody.  But then we bought lots of cerveza and ron.  Ben was supposed to carry all the mixers.  And I was supposed to carry all the cerveza and ron.  But Ben went away.  And then I found that he had hidden all the mixers in my bag.  My bag was very heavy.  Today is the hardest day.  I carried all the drinks up a very big hill.  The hill was hard.  There was lots of drinks in my pack.  And a six-pack of beer in my hand.  People laughed at me.  I got very close to the top of the hill and had a rest.  People were watching me.  I knew what I had to do.  I ran very very fast up the rest of the hill.  Then I put my pack down and swore at ben.  I took the drinks out of the pack and swore at ben.  People laughed.  I am funny.  Then I drank a cerveza.  I like cerveza.  I drank some whiskey too.  I didn’t have much whiskey left because I had drunk lots of whiskey last night.  I think I like whiskey too.  But not american whiskey.  American whiskey is not even real whiskey.  It is fake like their people.  I drank another cerveza and took some photos.  I took a photo of pen pretending to be dead.  That is funny because the top of the hill is actually called a pass.  It is called dead womans pass.  It is high.  4200 metres above the sea.  Then we walked some more.  I was very tired from the climb up and my pack still felt very heavy even though I had given some drinks back to Ben.  There was a toilet.  Pen and me stopped.  I looked in my bag for my balaclava.  There was a big rock in my bag.  I don’t like ben.  Then we walked some more.  It was all down hill.  But I went slow.  Even Pen went faster than me and she is a girl.  I got to the campsite but couldn’t run in because there was a porter in front of me.  I jogged on the spot instead.  People laughed.  I am funny.  Then it rained.  But only 3 tents were up.  We went inside the dining room tent.  We chatted.  ‘arry wasn’t there yet.  Hermy was sick, so ‘arry and Ron were walking slowly with her.  I didn’t know why they didn’t just cast a get-better spell, but pen said they’re not allowed to practice magic outside of school.  The two american ladies were slow too.  They had to walk in the rain for ages.  We had lunch without them.  The food is very good.  I like soup.  Then we had a nap.  Then we had dinner.  Then we went to sleep.  The second day is supposed to be the hardest day.  It was hard.  Because ben isn’t very nice.

By Kruse.

07 Sep – My Holiday On The Inca Trail – Day 3

The porter people woke us up again.  And brought us cups of tea.  Then we had breakfast.  Then we started walking.  We saw incan ruins.  But they are not really incan.  Inca means leader.  So only the leader is an inca.  The people are really called quechuas.  But I still call them incas.  I am not very smart.  I like incan ruins.  They are big and cool.  Ben and me walked very fast.  We went the fastest.  We had to wait for ages at every meeting point.  The guide said that each stage would take one and a half hours.  But me and ben walked so fast that we only took fifty minutes.  People here say minutos instead of minutes.  It rained lots and we got wet.  But then I walked faster and so fast that the rain couldn’t catch me.  I am a big strong bear.  Do bears shit in the woods?  After the incan ruins was more walking.  Ben and me walked very fast.  And we ran down stairs.  Running down stairs is dangerous but it is fun.  We went faster than some porters.  But one porter went very fast.  At the end the porter caught up with us and then passed us.  I chased him.  He went faster and faster and very faster.  I went faster and faster and very faster.  But then I was afraid to die so I stopped.  My legs were trembling and hurt lots.  We kept going fast but not as fast as the fastest porter in the world.  We got close to the campsite and then we ran.  We are very funny and big and strong and bears.  At the campsite there was a bar.  I helped a porter put up a tent, and then ben and me went and drank some beers.  We are big strong bears and we like beers.  If it rhymes it must be true.  We watched other people in the group get to the campsite.  They were slow.  We were fast.  I bought ‘arry a beer.  I also left a message on the trail.  It said “COME ON ‘ARRY”.  But silly people walked over it.  Probably the french.  So it only said “COME ON”.  But people still guessed it was me that did it.  Because I am the funny one in the group.  Some people had showers.  But not ben and me.  We washed our feet and wore jandals but didn’t have showers.  Then we had cups of tea.  Then we went to see some inca ruins.  The ruins were called winay wayna.  Some people call them little machu picchu.  They were cool.  Incans were crazy.  Ben got told off because he climbed a ladder.  Then we went back to camp.  We had dinner.  Ben was funny.  But offensive too.  We gave some money for tips and then I took Ben away.  We went to the bar and missed the thank you and tips ceremony.  We drank beers instead.  And I gave a bottle of ron to percy.  Percy was a guide.  He is little and funny.  We drank beers at the bar.  And the very old porter man came to change his money into little money.  And I gave him a beer.  And he drank it very quickly.  And I gave him a cigarette.  And he didn’t know how to use a cigarette lighter.  And I felt stink.  Because he is very poor and I am very rich.  But he is very happy.  And I am not very happy very much time.  And then the irish came and we talked to them.  The irish are funny.  We say funny things about irish people and they laugh.  When we say funny things about american people american people don’t laugh.  And irish people can say funny things about new zealand people.  And then the irish left and some english came.  That was lucky because irish people don’t like english people.  The english people liked me because they had seen me run up the hill with beer yesterday.  The old english man liked rugby.  We talked lots about rugby.  Then the bar closed.  Then ben went to bed because he missed ‘arry.  I was the last person in the bar.  Then I went to bed.

By Kruse.

08 Sep – My Holiday On The Inca Trail – Day 4

We had to get up very early today.  Before four o’clock.  I only had four hours sleep.  And we had breakfast.  And I didn’t feel very good.  And then we walked but not very far.  And then we had to wait for the checkpoint to open.  We were the second group to get there.  When the checkpoint opened we started walking.  We had to walk behind percy so ben and me couldn’t go fast.  But then percy had to go back to talk to somebody.  Then ben and me went fast.  But the group in front of us was fast too.  They were 20 year old english people.  I said loud things that would annoy them.  I guessed at how many pairs of diesel brand shoes they owned.  I think they went faster so they couldn’t hear me.  The short one walked with his chest puffed out.  I didn’t like him.  Ben went faster than me.  I wasn’t very good at walking.  Even the others nearly caught up with me at the end.  But I was still fast.  Then we were at the sun gate.  We could see machu picchu.  Machu picchu is cool.  Pen was grumpy because I’d been a dick last night.  And I was still drunk.  She didn’t like me.  But I’m a big strong bear.  And I’m not here to make friends.  Then we walked down the hill.  I took a photo of a flower in the front and machu picchu in the back.  I like those photos.  I like photos of ben taking photos too.  Ben doesn’t.  Then we got to machu picchu.  The french nearly passed us but I said NO WAY and then started running.  Then I took the new zealand flag out of my pocket and ran with that.  Then ben took photos of me with the flag.  But then a man yelled at us and I asked why and he said that the new zealand flag was bad because it was tapu.  I said sorry.  I don’t like doing things which are bad-tapu.  Then we had a group photo.  I tucked my shirt in because I like to look nice in photos.  Then we walked around machu picchu.  Machu picchu is big and the incans are crazy.  Then big tour groups arrived.  People in tour groups always wear white hats.  There were lots of white hats.  One group was all new zealanders and they liked my all blacks top.  The all blacks are the best rugby team in the world.  Then the guide told lies about how fast he had run up the hill.  Then pen and ben and me were all grumpy and sulky and said bad things to each other.  Then we all stopped because we figured out we were dumb.  Then we laid on the grass.  Then we got on a bus to the village.  Then we found the restaurant where victor the guide and percy and ‘arry and ron and hermy were at.  I called victor vicky.  We bought cervezas and soup.  Then ‘arry and ron and hermy left.  I kissed them all goodbye.  Kissing a wizard is good luck.  Then we drank more cerveza and gave vicky and percy lots and lots of cerveza.  Then I gave the other porters beer because they were sitting outside all alone.  Then the other people in the group came.  There was the french-canadian couple and the german couple and the american couple and the two american ladies and the irish couple.  Then we ate some more stuff and filled out a question form and gave some money to vicky and percy and drank more cerveza.  Victor got drunk.  Then ben and me saw that we had nearly drunk all the beer in the fridge and then we decided that we would finish it.  Then the people put more beer in the fridge but not much so we still thought we could finish it.  We made the german man and the canadian man and the irish man drink beer even though they didn’t want to.  Then it was time to go to the train station but there was one bottle of beer left.  I told pen to go and check in and ben and me would catch up.  Pen was angry but there was only one bottle of beer left.  Ben and me drank the last bottle of beer and then paid the bill.  The bill was heaps.  Then we went quickly to the train station and got there in time and got on the train and bought some beers from the snack counter.  The lady had six beers.  So I said I wanted todos.  Todos means all.  We bought all her beers.  Then gave some to some people.  Then the lady got more beer.  So we bought some more.  And I made people drink beer when they didn’t want to.  One big bald man said he couldn’t drink beer because he was on antibiotics.  I told him that was silly.  I made him drink beer.  I made lots of people drink beer.  Some people pretended they still had beer left even when it was empty.  I found out and made them drink more beer.  Then the lady said there was no more beer on the train.  The man had gotten all the beers from every carriage and brought them to our carriage and we had drunk them all and there was no more.  But then the train stopped so we didn’t have to riot.  Then we had to get on a bus.  And we did.  Ben and me sat at the back like cool kids.  Pen sat up the front because she didn’t like me.  Then the bus went.  But not very far.  I got off the bus and went to a shop.  I bought beer and watched wrestling on tv.  Everybody else sat on a smelly bus.  Then the traffic started moving so the boy from the bus and me ran back to the bus.  The american ladies used to sit near the back of the bus but ben had refused to pick up their jacket from the floor for them and they got angry and accused him of being smelly and then moved seats.  We talked to some english people and new zealand people and they liked us and we teased americans together.  Then I went and told the american ladies that I didn’t like americans but then told the american couple that they were alright.  And I made everybody drink more beer.  I was drunk and silly.  Then we got to cusco and we walked to our hotel and I stopped at bars and asked about rugby on tv.  Then we went to sleep.  And that was my holiday on the inca trail.

By Kruse.

So, that brings us back to Cusco.  And no more ‘project’ style writing – as I assume it is as tiring to read as it is to write.  So, we got up on 09 Sep – much earlier than we should have.  Before 8.  I think we got far too used to awaking at 5am.  We had breakfast – I ordered a fair bit of stuff.  Then, Ben & I went searching for some rugby to watch.  Watched South Africa vs Samoa.  Hoping the entire time just for some South African injuries.  No such luck.  Then Scotland pretending to play rugby, but still comfortably thrashing Portugal.  Then we moved pubs.  Another english bar advertised a sunday roast lunch – but didn’t have rugby.  So, went to the Irish bar.  Full.  Watched Ireland nearly lose to Namibia, while eating some shepherds pie.  Chatted to some irish.  Then, the irish couple from our Inca Trail group arrived.  Chatted with them.  Discovered that several people on the bus last night had been filling their beer bottles with water to prevent me from giving them more beer.  And the american ladies had actually been whimpering and crying in fear after I’d told them I disliked seppos.  Felt a twinge of guilt.  But made myself feel better by remembering the blonde one describing Machu Picchu as “it looks 3D”.  Then we discovered a couple of new uses for the portable whiteboard.  First – wrote agony aunt letters asking for advice from people in certain professions.  Then, created a survey which I then passed around the pub.  One large american chap plonked a 50 Soles note on the bar next to me, and asked in perfect english for “one big beer”.  It took me a while, but then I remembered that I am a big bear.  A big strong bear.  So, I found him, tapped him on the shoulder, and told him.  Easily confused, are americans.  Later, found a table full of young new zealanders and australians.  Cheering each other on in their drinking.  I made certain provocative comments.  A boat race was agreed upon.  They were too slow.  So, I started drinking all the beer they’d prepared for the boat race.  All of it.  Myself.  Became a hero to all of them.  I asked if I may make a speech.  They agreed, of course – absolutely in love with me.  My speech consisted of telling them that none of them may ever speak to me again.  Didn’t go down too well.  Later, one of the blokes tried to speak to me.  I told him that he was prohibited to do so.  He got angry.  I explained that I had earned the right.  He wanted to hurt me.  Bar staff became involved.  Nothing too much came of it.  Luckily I was friends with the bar maid.  To the point where she responded to me when I called to her by using the spanish word for “girlfriend”.  But, eventually, after some other incident (which I cannot recall) I believe I was asked to leave.  

So – Benjamin, myself, Penelope, and the irish couple went for dinner.  Unfortunately religion came up, and there was a reasonably heated debate.  Myself being a little too intoxicated to hold my tongue.  Once again I annoyed the hell out of Penelope, and myself when I later sobered up.  Left the irish couple on good terms (I hope), and then returned to the irish bar.  Made some more friends.  Abused an american for responding to “Where are you from?” with his state rather than country.  Found a rather friendly new zealand girl.  A little too friendly for my liking, considering Pen had already left.  So – I scarpered.

And that was my holiday on the Inca Trail and in Cusco.  My holiday was fun.  But drunk, and offending a lot of people.  Most of them deservedly so.  Some not so.  And for that I am sorry.  But now I am nearly back to normal.  And Pen seems to like me again.  And fair enough.  I am a nice guy.  And a big strong bear.  Now we just need to get ourselves a little more together, and hopefully escape Cusco.

Many buses, and a canyon

So, we arrive in Chanaral on the 29 Aug.  Ben is interested in some national park.  Called Pan de Azucar.  That’s sugarloaf.  I saw Sugarloaf in Rio, and can’t imagine Chile having anything better than the cable car where Jaws went a little too fast chasing James Bond.  But, I humour him.  We spend some time in Chanaral recovering from the bus trip, and then eventually find somebody to drive us to this national park.  Well – I negotiate with a hot-dog trailer woman about it, until Ben joins me; while Pen is talked to/at by the crazy drunk local guy.  Drive for a while to this park.  Park is closed.  Turn around, and pay the price for a taxi ride there and back.  Saw a nice-ish beach, and some (a lot of) cactus which looked like bags of onions, or horse-shit.  Back to town, and we start looking for dinner.  Spot crazy drunk local guy, before he spots us, and we use the old “hide behind a parked truck, and then start running along when the truck starts moving” trick.  Millenium Tower on the hill – but we have our packs.  Can’t be bothered climbing the stairs.  Instead – some seafood for first dinner, then chinese for second dinner.  Awful, awful chinese.  Ben, of course, whinges more than anybody else.  More gripping than Stephen King.  Back to bus station, and back on a bus.

30 Aug, arrive in Arica.  We have 8,650 chilean pesos, or something like that.  Discover the trip over the border to Peru will cost us 9,000.  But – the nice man says “no problemo”.  So – no problemo.  Get in a big old yank-tank with a couple of local girls, and we drive across the border.  Remember at this point that we were meaning to check on rumours that the recent earthquake had made travel impossible.  Ah well, we’ll find out.  Chilean border – huge queues.  Waiting for ages.  Finally get through, then onto Peruvian migration.  Not a soul.  Get to Tacna in Peru, and search for an ATM.  First one has a coin stuck in the card slot.  Ben meets some nice chaps who give him a sip of their beer.  Then, they start trying to sell us bus tickets.  And drugs of various sorts.  Eventually get rid of them – and manage to buy ourselves yet another nice relaxing bus trip.  Short one this time, only 5 or so hours.  So, we get to Arequipa late at night – completely buggered after not having slept in a bed since Rapa Nui.  Long time ago.  Taxi driver takes us to a hotel where he obviously gets a commission.  Ben & Pen stay in taxi while I do the talking.  Not much point – they could have offered me couch cushions on a floor in the basement – and I would have paid a fair bit for it.  Then – dinner time.  And, struggling to find anywhere else rather late at night – we splash out at a fairly pricey place.  Guinea pig.  One of the things both Ben & I had been looking forward to.  And, it lived up to expectations.  Presentation was beautiful.  Good ol’ guinea pig.  Yum.

31 Aug – we sleep in as much as I’ll let the two hindrances.  Not sure what time checkout is, but don’t want to risk being asked to pay for another night.  But, chap is pleasant enough, and we manage to leave in time for lunch.  Which we call breakfast, and satisfy with a couple of hours at a juice bar, drinking a lot of juice, popping spirulina pills, and eating stuff.  Then, admire the Arequipa central plaza once more (awesome plaza.  Awesome at night, awesome at day.  Well done Arequipa.) – and catch taxi to bus station.  Next bus to Chivay.

Chivay – tiny village, dust streets, tuk-tuks.  Nice.  Very nice.  Touts for hostels.  One woman follows us to town, chatting whole way.  Go through stages of interest, annoyed, very very annoyed, pity, very very annoyed.  Opt for other tout who immediately stops spiel when I tell him I already have his brochure.  Turns out to be a very nice spot.  With annoying woman tout sitting on doorstep outside waiting for us.  Creepy.  But, we stay with our choice – and girl at counter gives us heaps of advice on getting to the main nearby attraction.  Colca Canyon.  Big canyon.  Condors.  Early morning start.  As a big man once said, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  We have dinner in town, and discover irish bar.  Empty.  Walls covered in graffiti.  Abnormal percentage of New Zealand representation.  Including, once again, the first piece on the ceiling.  Next bar – has music videos on the TV.  Ben doesn’t like them, so we have to go home.  That, and we think we have to get up at 4am.  And Christopher Lloyd is sitting opposite us.  However, when we get back to the hostel, a chap who speaks a little english explains that we actually have to be up at 3:30.

01 Sep, 3:30am.  Not cool.  But, we manage to get up.  Worst thing about needing to get up early is the paranoia.  So, I spent most of the night awake, checking the time constantly.  We walk to the bus station, and hope we’ve got the right info.  I start to get the idea that this type of thing would be an excellent local joke to play on tourists.  But, turns out that it’s the real deal.  We get to the station just in time to buy a couple of cups of takeaway coca teas, then get on the bus.  Very, very bumpy ride for a few hours.  Sitting on back seat, and we’re all airborne several times.  6am, arrive at the main viewpoint.  Big canyon.  Twice the size of the Grand Canyon?  But I’m not sure what they mean by “size”.  Big though.  Go for a walk.  See some hummingbirds.  Try to take photos of hummingbirds.  Much cursing ensues.  Very fast moving bird, the hummingbird.  After a couple of hours, we head back towards the main viewing platform.  Hungry – and had seen local ladies setting themselves up to sell food.  On the way, notice that the tour groups had started arriving.  Muchos gringos.  Then – condors.  Cool.  Hunger and toilet requirements are forgotten for quite some time, as we watch condors, and try to take photos.  A photo of a condor is much easier to achieve than one of an ‘ummingbird – but still fairly frustrating.  Condors can be rather large.  And rather playful.  After a while, we got our fill of nearly-photos, and a few successful photos.  Then started on the silliness.  The viewpoint is called Cruz del Condor.  And there is a crucifix (cruz) on a rock.  Lots of tourists getting photos next to it.  So, I line up, help the previous girls climb down the rock, then pose ‘with’ the crucifix.  Ben takes a few photos, then I jump down as quick as possible, ready to run for my life.  But – no religious outcry.  Sweet.  By this time, not even noon, we’re all sunburnt and tired.  Bus back to town.  Then, buy ticket back to Arequipa, and have some food and drinks.  Bus to Arequipa.

Arequipa – we figure there will be lots of buses to Cusco, at various times.  There are lots of buses.  All at the same time.  8pm – and it is 7:30 when we start researching this.  But – a huge pat on the back when we find one at 8:30.  Apparently very comfortable (I ask if it is “full cama” – the best class – and the lady shows us photos of the seats.  Avoiding the question, I later realise), and much cheaper than usual.  I watch her manually type in a price of 40 for each seat, over top of the default price of 90.  Sweet.  And – we can drop off our luggage now.  Very pleased with ourselves, we drop our bags off, then find a food stall.  Sit and chat with the owner.  Lovely lady – rather taken by Kruse.  Is willing to settle for Ben when I admit that the blonde with us is my girlfriend.  At a stretch.  We enjoy some food – buy some blue Powerade, and a slice of cake.  8:20 – head to the bus platform.  Sit, wait.  Platform is outside of the ticket office.  8:30, lights in ticket office go out.  Not good.  I run inside – and ticket office is closed.  Where are our bags?  Panic.  Ask at the info office – somehow breathless bad spanish works.  The girl asks a security guard to help us.  He says something about the other bus terminal (which is next door).  We grab our remaining stuff and run.  Run past the barrier arm at other terminal – forcing security guard to chase us – as we see our bus just backing out.  Manage to explain things (maybe), and all is good.  Figure out the situation was:  8:30 was departure time from 2nd terminal.  Bus left from OUR terminal at 8.  So, at 8pm, our luggage was loaded while I was being chatted up by food stall lady.  Anyway, we made it.  Barely – unbelievable close to losing all our luggage.  Then – the ticket office lady had randomly assigned seats to each of us from the three I’d specified.  Usually, Pen & I would be together, with Ben stuck next to a snoring local.  This time, I was the loner.  And this time, the only free seat near a double seat was at the back.  And next to the bus ‘attendant’.  And apparently, the bus attendant needs far less legroom than the clients.  And therefore the seat next to him inherits the same.  And suddenly, what had seemed like the best bus IN THE WORLD only one hour previously, had – for Kruse – turned into the worst.  And, when I try to recline my seat, realise there is a bag of something directly behind my seat.  Can’t recline at all.  While Ben is sitting opposite me, with decent legroom, and his arm around my girlfriend.  Not happy.  Awful food is then provided.  I cheer up a little when Nick Nolte appears on the television.  Unfortunately, not a great movie.  Certainly not being a riot as a homeless man who insinuates himself into the household of a neurotic yuppie couple when they save him from drowning in their pool.  But, it distracts me for a while, until I realise that the package has been moved from behind my seat – and I can recline.  And try to sleep.  Still not so good – waking up in Cusco with bruises all over my legs from insufficent room.

But anyway, I’m starting to sound like Ben.  Next update – first night in Cusco is drunk.  Very very drunk.  And, by then, I will have been to Macchu Picchu.  That update will be a little while off, as we have to walk for 4 days to get there.  Starting at 5am tomorrow.  t is now past midnight.  I am still awake trying to finish my box of red wine (mixed with Inka Cola).  Pen demanded that I go buy some medicine for her this evening.  And Ben hired a porter to carry most of his stuff – that much of a senorita is he.  (Has been teased by several locals already.  Colby – you must remember to tell Ben to “Come on!” next time he tries to not order a beer.)