Peru

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.)

Guayaquil, Banos, & Quito

28 Sep, we arrived in Tumbes. Small border town. Lots of hawkers wanting to put us in a taxi, and pretend to drive us across the border – but actually drive us to an out of the way spot and rob us. No such luck, suckers. We’re wise to your lies. So, we try to catch a bus. But, don’t have enough money. Try to haggle the price down to what we’ve got, but the lady won’t have a bar of it. So – Ben goes to get some more money. Then – all smiles. But, it turns out, we can’t buy tickets off her anyway. She tells us to catch a ‘moto’ (a tuk-tuk) to the company’s bus terminal. So we do. But, the tuk-tuk can’t handle the weight of three big gringos & their luggage. After a block, it stops. One tyre is completely flat/coming off it’s rim. So, we get another one. More powerful, faster tuk-tuk. Get to the terminal, and buy our tickets. Easy. Then, wait for bus. Bus arrives. We get on it. Very very comfortable bus. Big comfy seats. Only three seats across. We sit down the back, because we’re the cool kids. Bus across the border – into Ecuador. (Queue cheesy techno music.) Many hours later, we arrive in Guayaquil. Dropped off at the airport, so we go into the airport and buy Ben a ticket to the Galapagos Islands. Then, taxi into town. Find a hostel – then try to find some food. Then – disaster strikes. NO CERVEZA! In the entire country! For the entire weekend! Election weekend, apparently, and there’s some law preventing the selling or consuming of booze for the weekend. I am less than pleased. We get some juices instead, and then I drink some of a bottle of wine left over from Lima. Not much though – before we all fall asleep with exhaustion. And trying to forget this nonsensical prohibition.

29 Sep – the nightmare is still with me when I awake. But, I soldier on. We walk down to the waterfront, and admire statues and gardens and stuff. It is hot, so I put my head into a fountain. Then, I discover remote control boats. Awesome. I loved the remote control boats at Fantasyland in Hastings – but never had the money to use them. Now, loaded up with my US$ (goddamn stupid country uses seppo dollars as their currency) – I was determined to make up for that. Expensive though – 1 dollar for a turn. But, Pen & I paid up – and had a go. Ben was too chicken. It did not live up to my dreams. My boat was stuck in a right turning circle for the first half of my time. I still managed to ram Pen once, although by accident. She’ll claim that she rammed me – but ’tis lies. Unless she somehow cleverly rammed me with the middle of the side of her boat. Ha! I don’t think so. Anyway – time ran out pretty quickly, and I walked away unsatisfied. Back to the hostel, where lightweights Ben & Pen had a siesta. Not used to this tropical heat, the newbies.  I wasted time on the internet.  Then, everybody was up and about again.  Time for a shave.  So, we find a barber.  Ben is too scared to allow an Ecuadorian at his throat with a straight razor – so I show him how it’s done.  Get myself shaved – except leave the moustache please.  So – he left the moustache.  Then he groomed the moustache.  Leaving me with a professionally groomed moustache.  That’s another thing off the “things to do before I die” list.  Did I mention a couple of weeks back that a llama spat at me?  That was also crossed off the list.  Ben, reassured by my brave demonstration, then plucked up the courage to have a go.  He also got himself shaved, but leave the moustache please, and even went so far as to get a haircut.  Then, two of us looking pretty damned fine, we resolved to have a fine dinner out.  We dressed up Pen as best we could, then got into our suits.  Taxi to a pricey hotel, and then got ourselves a seat at their swiss themed restaurant.  Waitresses, contrary to the expectations laid by my guide book, were not wearing cowbells.  We were diappointed, but hungry – so decided to stay.  Had another go at ordering booze.  No go.  Juice then, and fondue.  Turns out that forcing us to be sober is a bad idea – as we misbehaved worse than ever.  Ben threw bread.  I didn’t – because I’m a good boy.  Even the waitress seemed to pick up on the mood of things, and flirted outrageously with me right in front of Pen.  Including a lingering touch of hands when giving me one of my many juices, which would have forced any movie to get an instant “X” rating.  Ben was rather jealous – hence the lack of tip at the end of dinner.

30 Sep – the day we get rid of Ben.   All of us get up early, and catch a taxi to the airport.  Pen & I are coming to make sure he actually gets on the plane.  Breakfast at the airport – then I remind Ben he needs an Ecuador hat.  (That’s a Panama hat for you uneducated folks.  The “Panama Hat” is actually from Ecuador – but became named the Panama hat when some seppo president wore one at some ceremony involving the Panama Canal.  File that little fact away, so you too can annoy people with it.)  Anyway, Ben buys an Ecuador hat.  I resolve to wait until sometime when I won’t be paying stupid inflated airport souvenir shop prices.  Then – goodbye Ben.  Pen & I head to the bus terminal – and get ourselves a bus to Banos.  Well – to Ambato.  Get to Ambato – and hop in a taxi to take us to the other bus terminal.  (Multiple bus terminals are bloody annoying.)  But, taxi driver talks me into hiring him to take us the whole way to Banos.  Much pricier than taking a bus – but he seemed nice, and it wasn’t too much.  Get to Banos, and get ourselves a room in a hostel – because it has a jacuzzi and turkish baths.  Which we never get around to actually taking advantage of.  Wander around town.  Very very nice town.  Awesome setting in a valley – below an active volcano.  One can take a night time tour to the top of the volcano to admire all the lava and such.  We didn’t get around to doing that either.  Big waterfall on one side of the town.  Pretty church.  Canyon on one side of town.  Day trips possible to other waterfalls, jungle stuff, rafting, hiking, all sorts.  Altogether – would have loved to spend a week or so there.  Did I mention the setting?  I know I did – but wanted to say again that it was beautiful.  But, we’re kind of short of time.  So – just the one night.  One set of thermal pools is open for night time – right below the waterfall.  So, we went there.  Very busy.  Two main hot pools – packed full of people.  Spent as much time in one as I could handle, then we returned to town for dinner.  I pass on one restaurant – proclaiming the menu to be boring and expensive.  Then Pen notices that one man in there has a beer on his table.  Decision reversed.  We nearly knock the door off it’s hinges getting in as quick as possible.  Food turns out to be rather good as well.

01 Oct –  Check out, and get some breakfast.  Pen gets me with the “pinch and a punch for the first of the month”.  I hate her.  But, I put that aside, and buy her a ticket on the same bus as me to Quito.  Pick one without a toilet onboard though – to make her suffer.  And she does.  Ha.  We eventually get to Quito though – and catch the tram to the new part of town.  Find ourselves a hostel, and check in.  Then, too late, discover that this hostel supplies it’s tenants with 12 litres of free rum&coke on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.  I realise with dread that today is Monday.  I hate ron.  (Rum, in espanol, is ron).  Pen and I find some quick food, then return to the hostel just in time for the dreaded ron.  It comes out.  One huge stainless steel bucket – filled with ron & coke.  We’re joined by a pair of girls, one english annoying “let’s-go-clubbing” type, and a realtively nice american; one american chap who’s just finished his Peace Corps stint, a loud english guy, a nice quiet swiss guy who reminded me of Hayden, a french guy who I talked rugby with later in the night, and a french guy who is obviously a pervert.  Others floated in and out, but listing the people there seems rather stupid anyway.  Bucket of ron finished.  The deal is, when this happens, that if everybody supplies one dollar, the bucket will be refilled.  So this was done.  If there’s one thing I hate worse than free ron, it’s paying for ron.  Especially paying seppo money for ron.  But – one can’t let the team down.  So – more ron arrived.  Then, I was persuaded to go out with a couple of the folks to a bar.  I agreed on the condition that I didn’t have to put any shoes on.  Instant weirdo status.  But, I went out.  Got into a bar with barefeet, unnoticed by the bouncer.  Some patrons, however, did notice – and didn’t seem to know what to think or say.  I had one beer, got bored, and returned home.

So – that’s how we got to Quito.  Where we still are, and rather hungover.  Having accomplished the dubious achievement of internet and lunch, the remainder of the afternoon is likely to consist of shandies and television.