A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Marta-Alex

peru / bolivia


I´m not to sure if any one is acttually reading these travel blogs, but who cares I´ll carry on regardless just so someone out there knows im still alive.

Have now crossed the border into Bolivia and are currently in a tiny town called uyumi, which is an ideal spot to check out the salt deserts which are about 28k westwards. Leaving tomorrow with a couple of Auzzies to check them out and then heading south to the chiliean border into the national park and Lagurda verde which is suppose to be a fantastic sight.

Peru has been a weird experience, with some of the most scenic beauty in the world I think we´ve rushed through the country a little quickly. The Nasca lines were brilliant apart from the bumpy plane flight over the desserts, skydiving was easy compared to this, the drawings in the sand are an enthralling experience though. Why someone would do that though it remains unclear. Macchu Pichhu was also amazing, the inca trail is apparently closed through all of feb, due to rainy season and to allow the trail to repair, which was a little dissapointing and took some of the accomplishment away. We still climbed the mountain, which was possibly more excerting than cotapaxi, a tower of weaving large stone steps which takes you up the side of the mountain with breathtaking views of misty mountain peaks as a just reward. The train journey itself from cuzco was completely booked, so we had to get a train, stay in Aquasquillitas 1 night (the town just below Macchu), than climb to the inca ruin at 4.30am to catch the sunrise at 6pm, look around for 2 hours, before climbing back down to catch the train back at 9.30am, then catching the night bus to Puno, an exhausting day. We should of stayed longer, but time and expence are constantly on my mind. The sight itself is mind blowing, the sun didn´t come out, but it wasn´t raining, so can´t complain. To actually comprehend how the incas managed to roll, pull, drag tonnes of stone slabs up to that precepice is impossible, and how long it took them?? Who knows. But a great day, though very tiring, and costly, $90 for a train ride from cuzco and $40 entrance fee (can take bus rides to reduce the cost), wonder what the peruvians do with all the money with 1000 tourists visiting per day?

Literally after cuzco, another stunning town with loads to do and a huge tourist destination, we headed to Puno, which sits near the bolivian border and next to Lake titicaca, which is the worlds biggest lake at the highest altitude. (roughly 3000sqm) We took a boat ride out to the uros islands, which is about a 30 minute ride to man made islands off the coast of puno where the local indigineous indians live, and kindly allow gringos to look around. The islands are amazing, literally beds of soil, pulled and tied together with the reef plants that grow in the lake piled on top to create a synthetic walkway, with about 3-4 metres of this plant layered on top. Scary walking about, keep thinking youre going to sink. The people then every 3 months keep adding new layers to keep the islands afloat. The people are wonderful and kind and have absolutely nothing, the men fish all day and the women weave with some money coming from the tourist trade. A remarkable place.

From Puno we crossed into Bolivia and to La Paz, the capital, which we hardly saw due to marta feeling poorly and lack of time. So far have preferred the more remote, quiter cities in south america, less pollution, less smell, less taxis, less money. Everyones Happy. Bueno Noches

Posted by Marta-Alex 11:36 Archived in Bolivia Comments (1)

Ecuador / Peru

Have now just arrived in Piura, Peru, about 2 hours drive from the northern border of Ecuador and man its hot! Having just spent 10 days in ecuador, with the moutain mist, rain and drizzle and arrive in Peru to such a sweltering, intense heat. It´s overwhelming; have only been up about 2 hours and need a nap or will possibly faint soon.

Ecuador was an amazing place and easily the best time í've spent since departing british shores. It has so much to offer; the hustle and bustle of quito with all its grandiose acrhitecture, moutain landscapes and cheap cuisine to smaller towns like Banos and Cuenca with the quite streets, open cafes, bars, thermal baths and tiny and huge waterfalls in unison all the way down the cacuna pass that you can follow on moutain bike. A truly beautiful country.

Went a little crazy in banos as well. Have been white water rafting down the pataxa river (grade 4 rapids), which was awesome, marta didn´t fall in which was a little disappointing, but the views and torrent waves were fulfilling enough. Whilst cycling down the side of the gorge I also got cajooled into bridge jumping, well had to act macho around marta, anyway it cost 7 quid and you dived head first 10-15 metres into a rocky, flowing river before swinging under another bridge. Definately a far mory scarier experience than skydiving. When you´re free falling you at least have 10-15 seconds to adjust your body and mind at 10,000 feet before a chute opens, actually having time to enjoy the andrenaline rush. Here you just hurtle towards the ground before the harness buckles yr groin and swings you under. The worst thing was the two ecudorians mumbling aload of spanish in yr ear hole as yr trying to build up courage to jump whilst looking down at yr certain death. Just as I was building momentum they then grab me and yank me off the ledge of the bridge and start jittering to themsleves and adjusting the harness; really thought something was wrong and had to look up at the sky and just lunge on the next attempt. A very scary experience, think my dare devil days are coming to an end, though a grade 5 rapid could be tempting in Argentina.

Volcano wise we hired a guide to walk us up to the glaciers around Cotapaxi which was pretty cool. Roughly, a car drives you up to around 4000m and then you trek up to about 4900m, which was roughly 1.5/2 hour walk. It was an amazing sight, like walking on the moon; volcanic rock, red solidified magma, dust, mist every where, it was a struggle to actually see anything as we tredged slowly up the mountain. Once we hit the glaciers the sky cleared as the summit came into view, at roughly 5900m cotapaxi is the worlds largest active volcano and is a spectacular and rather impressive view. The guide explained that since beginning work as a guide seven years previously the glaciers have reduced in size by 50m, through climate change, humidity levels, whatever, the plain fact that these will soon be no more. Feel that at some point a summit attempt has to be made; whether Cotapaxi or another mountain it truly is a gratifying experience that gives you sense of purpose.

jeeezz..um still have loads to write about; the food is a little scary. Have just surffered my first bout of diarrher, pretty sure I caught it from eating some strange pieces of meat floating in my soup. think it was suppose to be stock, but me being me just gobbled it up. Man, soups are scary, chickens feet, mollascs of some kind, weird meat you thinks chicken until you bite into it. Also they offer popcorn as an appetiser and then throw it in their soups! crazy people. But what the hell..when in Rome...and for a soup, rice, chicken and freshly squeezed juice, 1 dollar, how can u complain even when yr staring at the toilet walls for 2 days.

Bananas as well...300 different types of banana...they sell 18kilo bunches of bananas for 3-4 dollars, then muggins here pays 2 quid for four, nice. Small, big, pink, green - varieties of fruit I could never imagine and will never remember the name of- apparently the banana fields south, near Guayaguil are suppose to be amazing, a never ending haze of yellow. maybe catch it next time. Though the vegetation fields are everywhere, lush green plants and fields surrounding the Andes, and the taste of fruits and veg are nothing compared to yr local tescos. A great place, though its sad to see the extremely young and old on the streetsor in the fields still trying to churn out a living shoe shining, pawning anything to grab a quick buck for the family. Hopefully the strength of the american dollar will help pull the country out of this lull and their trade boost the economy, who knows.

have to go. 9 hour coach drive yesterday from loja to piura and now a nice 16 hour trip to Lima. Should be fun. The coaches in Ecuador were horrendous, they stank, were crowded and roads round the Andes are like goat trails. Not very pleasent. Though a 9 hour trip costs 4 quid. Dam it. Bye.

Posted by Marta-Alex 11:05 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Quito, Ecuador

okay, spent an hour downloading the photos and the actual blog sites download capacity is 25mb per month, which with our cameras resolution is about 5 photos - so enjoy. When get some time might post them on facebook.

Martas complaining about my prose and how I express myself so I´ll be cutting down on the colourful language from now on. Flew into Equador last night and now staying in a noisy hostel (chicago), 3 quid a night including breakfast, which is ideal as the funds are draining away. Very nice though, huge and serves breakfast on the roof overlooking the city. Spent today walking round the old colonial town, most buildings you walk past ranging from 300-500 years old. Absolutely shattered, not to sure whether my bodies conditioned yet for hiking to Machu Pichu, and its a struggle breathing at an altitude of 3,000km above sea level. Tomorrow will hopefully catch a bus ride to the middle of the world, the equater line which is a 20 minute bus ride, then move south towards the volcano cotapaxi and the thermal springs town of banos which is ideal for white water rafting and soaking my broken body. Slightly annoyed will be missing out on the galapagoes, but the flight and boat tour/guide would be in access of $1000 so knocking that on the head straight away.

The latter time spent in Dom republic was cool, took the snorkelling trip to paradise island and was positive I saw a barricuda swim right in front of my nose, though after researching pictures, it seemed a little small, though still quite scary. The other tropical fish and fire reefs were also amazing, though the trip itself was over 4 hours there and back from playa dorado across the most uncomftable patches of road imaginable. Before flying to Quito we spent 2 days in Boca Chica which is just east of santa domingo, a far more relaxed beach atmosphere and friendlier vibe with white sands and clear water. Echleons above Puerta Plata and all the other ugly resort based beaches along the coastline. Right, off to do some cooking and possibly getr drunk.

Posted by Marta-Alex 13:18 Comments (0)

Merida, Cancuun, Dominican Republic and a bout of tonsilitis


Bueno everyone. Just as I write this scintilating piece of poetry 476 photos are downloading as we speak ready to be placed on this site for your eyes only. Just to give you forward warning there's one of my burnt bottom (or back) so... please quickly flick through that one as I really can´t be arsed (nice punn he he!) to flick through every photo deleting them, It will get quite tiresome I`m sure.

Anywayss, we're currently in Dominican Republic...Yaaayy, but it's very overcast and extremely expensive...doh. The resort itself is quite cheap, a bargain, sort of, on expedia for 25 quid per night all inclusive, with air con, en suite, balcony, room service, buffet dinners, free drink and entertainment - a complete paradise compared to the last hostel in cancuun. Its amazing, these people get up, stuff themselves, sit by the pool, have a burger or 5, drink beer all day, have dinner, drink, watch the entertainment sleep, puke, shit. Then repeat the process for 14 nights with maybe a game of golf in between. It´s funny. Loads of tourists everywhere yet venture into town and you can't spot one white person anyway. Apparently the resorts place banners at the end of their properties saying they cannot be held liable for any crime inflicted upon anyone to scare people from leaving the sites (haven't seen these signs yet but it's a stoopid thing to do because the people really are quite friendly). Still find it petrifying walking down lonely streets at night.

Dom republic is very nice, though its like anyway else and lacks any real identity. Every beach you find is crammed with these oversized, monolithic resorts, from 2 stars and upwards. We´re currenly on the north coast in a region called Puerta plata on a beach called playa dorado and after the initial excitement of being here and staying in a hotel that has doors ,running water and you don't have to share with a snoring giant bear of a man the whole place becomes quite dull. The beach here isn't the brilliant white of my dreams and quite easily resembles something on the west of england. Perhaps my recent bout of tonsilitis could explain my negative outlook as I haven´t been able to swim, drink or eat properly for 5-6 days and our money has restricted us from enoying all the luxuries and tours that the Island has to offer. Hopefully planing either horseback riding into the mountains or snorkelling around paradise islands coral reefs on wednesday before flying out to Quito and the hostile landscapes of south America.

We also had similar experiences of Cancuun, described to us by Americans as the Mexican Blackpool, fits the bill quite nicely. Mass hotel structures literally built against the tides with no room to walk and hardly any to even sun bathe, quite a horrible place. The promenade itself is where the blackpool similarities are derived from with vulgar themed shows, strip bars and common American institutions plopped every where. Tgi Fridays, subways, and other brand names cropping up. The Americans seem to love it though. A perfect place to retire or have a luxury 2nd home. Loads of golf courses, perfect to park your boat and right next to the caribbean. Not my blend of pg tips though.

It's not been all bad though. Since moving up north from San Christobal and Palenke we stopped in Merida which is worth a visit. Has loads of spiralling roads with markets and stalls, where we stayed in a private room in a hostel in the main square, it's a perfect place to branch from to do other things. With all the options we decided to go cave diving to the zenotes which we thought would be huuuuge caves to wonder at and possibly scuba in. Anyway after travelling for an hour we got to the main town and marta bartered for a taxi cab, in which he said he would take us to all three caves for 200 pesos (10 quid - 4 days work for some mexicans- a lot). So he dropped us at the first cave, which was in the middle of fucking no where, and my first instinct was we're going to get mugged. This was when he dropped the 200 pesos question on us and we agreed (why, i dont know). So we pay and he takes us along this little path to this tiny hole in the dusty ground with a metal ladder stapped to the craggy edges by metal wire that descends about 20 metres into darkness. errrrr, yes we did go down it, why again I don't know. I think this was stupid day. After a little a swim and a few photos of marta shitting her pants, we waited for this taxi cab to come and pick us up...and we waited...and we waited. About 45mins later a friend of his decides to come and pick us up and we travel by bike to the next cave. This bike journey takes about 20 minutes, some of it uphill and I'm loving it, laughing at this robbing bastard - though glad that he did actually come back for us. Anyway we get to the next cave and he tells us that thats it and we have to get the bus back form here. Fantastic. The next cave was also quite dissapointing and overall was a waste of money - sweaty mexicans! Though the majority I've met have been friendly intelligent, helpful people.

Need to wrap this up quickly have to download! After Merida, headed east to playa del Carmen, a less Americanised Cancuun, Had a beach footy pitch on the beach - mexicans aint all that, though play bare foot and in 35 degree heat, still cant give them credit. Got extremely burnt here, I'm now currently scratching off the remains of my skin. Marta promised me her factor 4 Hawaiian crap would do the job. It did. My face is orange and my back red raw, great!. Quite a nice town though still loads of tourists, a nice beach, the water is gorgeous and relaxing. Have the chance to get the boat acoss to the island (i,ve forgotten the name) swim with dolphins and a great promenade with loads of market stalls- marta espeicially got hooked on watching the speed painters which is an amazing craft. Food is good, Marta had chicken cooked in mayan liqueur one night , which is like a honey from the wild flowers around the area - gorgeous. Rigth I'm boring myself, have to go, starting to get semi brown, hopefully it wont rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Asta La Vista baby - 10 years old, but it still sounds cool.

Posted by Marta-Alex 13:35 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Mexico - Mexico City, Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutierez,San Christobal

Almost half way through....

sunny 27 °C

Ok, zaczynampo raz drugi... Przed chwila skonczylam pisac ponad godzinny referat, ktory niestety nie zostal zapisany...:[[[[[[[[[

Wiec od poczatku. Jak widac troche tu po polsku, troche po angielsku, kazdy znajdzie cos dla siebie:)

Nasza wyprawa do Meksyku rozpoczela sie 30. 12 wczesnie rano, kiedy to wyladowalismy w Mexico City. Pierwszego dnia nie robilismy zbyt wiele - roznica czasu nas zabila i wiekszosc dnia spalismy a w nocy walczylsimy z glodem...:)

31.12 postanowilismy sie przeniesc do centrum miasta, bo sam dojazd z hostelu zajal na pol godziny, co w Sylwestrowa noc nie byloby raczej wykonalne.... Wiec po ulokowaniu sie w hotelu poszlismy pozwiedzac centrum stolicy, w tym Zocalo (glowny rynek), Katedre Metropolitana i ruiny swiatyni Aztekow - Templo Mayor. Nowy Rok postanowilismy przywitac na rynku, co okazalo sie niestety katasrofa - 4 godziny wpatrywania sie w sztuczne lodowisko na ktorym ok 23 zaczela swoj godzinny koncert jakas gwiazda meksykanskiego disco polo...;)

Nowy Rok byl juz o wiele bardziej interesujacy. Wbralismy sie na wycieczke w bardziej oddalone tereny Mexico City, w tym Plac Trzech Kultur, Sanktuarium Matki Bozej z Guadelupe, miejsce w ktorym wytwarza sie sok z agawy oraz tequille - wszystko to dostalismy do sprobowania, Alex nawet zjadl robaka... :P, oraz swiatynie Aztekow - Teotihuacan. Niestety tego dnia zrobilo sie bardzo zimno (czego niestety nie przewidzielsimy), wiec niestety weszlismy tylko na swiatynie Ksiezyca, swiatynie slonca musielismy sobie niestety odpuscic, bo grozilo nam to juz niemalze hipotermia... ;)

2.01 wyjechalismy ze stolicy w kierunku miasta Oaxaca. Tutaj nastapila zmiana planow, gdyz w poczatkowych planach mielismy troche zboczyc z trasy i pojechac nad Pacyfik, do Ixtapa i Zihuantanejo, ale dzieki Manuelowi (naszemu przewodnikowi z poprzedniego dnia) uniknelismy rozczarowania ( w naszej wizji mieslismy sie kapac w oceanie, ktory o tej porze roku niestety jest zimny...;) i podazylismy juz konkretnie w kierunku naszego ostatecznego celu, co przy okazji zaoszczedzilo nam troche pieniazkow:)))

Oaxaca niestety kojarzyc mi sie bedzie chyba jedynie z choroba Alexa... Najwyrazniej nie wytrzymal warunkow pogodowych (plus prawdopodobnie efekty szczepienia na zolta febre) i do dzis walczy z jakims paskudztwem...
Ja na wlasna reke staralam sie pozwiedzac najblizsze tereny wkolo hostelu, ale niestety i tak byly to jak dotad najnudniejsze 3 dni w Meksyku...

4.01 wsiedlismy w nocny autobus do kolejnego miasta - Tuxtla Gutierez, gdzie zostalismy do niedzieli (6.01) rano. Tam udalo nam sie zwiedzic jedynie zoo (ZooMat), w ktorym zobaczyc mozna bylo wiekszosc glownych gatunkow zwierzat zamieszkujacych obie Ameryki, w tym sepy, 50 roznych rodzajow papug, aligatory, kojoty no i oczywiscie pantery. Czarna pantera ktora mialam przyjemnosc ogladac z odleglosci okolo 20 cm (przez szybe oczywiscie....;)byla najpiekniejszym dzikim zwierzakiem jakiego widzialam. Wygladala zupelnie niewinnie, dopoki nie otworzyla mordki do ziewania i nie pokazala zebow.....;)

W niedziele dotarlismy do kolejnego miasta (w ktorym aktualnie jestesmy) - San Christobal Colon. Pierwszego dnia ziwedzilismy glowny rynek i okolice - bardzo ladne miasteczko, bardzo kolorowe, z mnostwem barow i restauracji serujacych dania z wszelakich kuchni swiata, co jest bardzo dobre, bo niestety typowe meksykanskie burito czy enchilada nie smakuje niestety jak w naszym Taco w Tarnowskich:) Jest zupelnie bez smaku i dziwnie pachnie....;) Ogolnie meksykanska kuchnia nie zachwyca w jakis szczegolny sposob, jest bardzo ostra (jak mozna sie bylo spodziewac...;) i ogolnie rzecz biorac, zjadliwa. Kolejna rzecz - W MEksyku Corony nie serwuje sie z kawalkiem limonki (!!!???), dlatego zazwyczaj sami wrzucamy owa limonke do kufla (corona w kuflu???....), co przewaznie spotyka sie z niemym zdziwieniem na twarzy kelnera...:) Tyle na temat kuchni:)

Wczoraj (7.01) pojechalismy na druga zorganizowana wycieczke. Zobaczylismy dwa wodospady: Agua Azul ( cos pieknego, widzialam go na zdjeciach, ale one zupelnie nie oddaja jego uroku....) i Misol Ha ( jakies 60 m wysokosci, od strony skal mozna przejsc poza strumien wody - fantastyczne wrazenie...) i Palenque - osada Majow. Miejsce po prostu niesamowite. Ponad 20 swiatyn, wiele jeszcze nie zbadanych, ukryrtych w dzunglii. Do tego mielsismy genialnego przewodnika (señor Victor:), ktory od 25 lat oprowadza turystow, wiec nie bede opisywac wiedzy jaka posiada, do tego mial prawdziwy dar jej przekazywania... Najwieksze wrazenie (przynajmniej na mnie...) zrobily elementy i symbole widoczne w swiatyniach, ktore nawiazycwaly do innych kultur, miedzy innymi egipskiej, chinskiej, indyjskiej izraelickiej, greckiej...itd. Skad Majowe czerpali wiedze na temat innych cywilizacji? - tego nie wie nikt.......
Cala wyprawa zaczela sie o 6.30 rano (trzeba bylo wczeeeesnie wstac...;() i wrocilismy o 21.30. O drzemce w busie nie bylo mowy - cala uwage przykuwaly manewry naszego psychodelicznego kierowcy, ktory chyba tylko cudem przywiozl nas w jednym kawalku... - prawie nie pamietam jak doczolgalam sie do lozka....;)

Dzisiejszy dzien przeznaczony zostal na relaks, rezerwowanie noclegow i planowanie dalszej czesci podrozy oraz pranie;))))) Jutro wyruszamy do przedostatniego miasta ktore odwiedzimy w Meksyku - Merida. Bedzie to rowniez najdluzsza podroz autobusem (13 godzin).

Na dzis to tyle i tak napisalam juz chyba wiecej niz wszystkiego razem od czasu pisania pracy licencjackiej:))))))) Niedlugo postaramy sie tez wrzucic jakies zdjecia. Zatem do nastepnego, jakby powiedzieli to Meksykanie - Hasta Luego (albo jakos tak....;)

Right, Hi - first entry in our blogs, if anyones actually managed to find the blog site (meant to copy a link in). All is well and me and marta are currently residing in a little hotel in San Christobal, which is a really pretty old colonial town east of mexico city. Loads of old, vivid spanish achitecture and a bustling trade with loads of tourists about. Visited Palenqua yesterday which is the Mayan ruins north of the city, massive in size and amazing in design and structure, with influenses ranging from hinduism, Egyptians, Chinese and others. Vastly impressive, though was grouchy all day for paying 135 pesos (3.50) for some stale, cold eggs, 2 bits of dried toast and coffee for breakfast and then not eating again until 5pm (2 mouldy tacos), food is tending to dictate my moods and marta is brunting the most of it. Mexican food, aint up to much to be fair. I havent eaten anything yet that has blown me away, I expect when we hit more commercialised places like Cancuun, we will see the mexican/westernised infused side of their food.

Also these dudes dont serve lime with their sol/corona - completely stunned by this.

Mexico City was a spectacle and went on some great tours to see the aztec ruins (teotihuacan i think), their ancient cathedrals and other city sights. Had a great tour guide called Manual, who was 22 looked 35, could speak at least three languages and had a very opioned view of his country and took immense pride in it. The Favellas of the city, were literally a horizon of broken and cobbled homes built of steel, wood, corrugated iron and anything these people could lay their hands on. The Police darent enter, no water or electricity runs to these homes and 65% of the city live in these slums. Its a poor sight. But the city it self is f****ng huge, with nearly 23 million living there. The weird thing is you feel safe, if 65% of the city the police dont enter then the remaining 35% is swarming with big amercianised trucks, filled to the brim with armoured, gun totting policia protecting all the rich. Sad state of affairs. Spent new years in the Zocalo, the main square, some genius deciding to plonk a big ice rink in the middle of it, so was only about 1500 people out skating, didnt see one bottle of tequila all night and no dancing. Sadly dissapointing, spent the night watching some clown, comically try and skate round the rink about 20 times, falling on his arse every 5 seconds. A comic genius couldnt pull off anything funnier. it was class. then we went home. Great new years.

Anyway, will add photos soon. hope everyones well. Getting the night bus to Merada tomorrow, with the possibility of some cave diving and then onto Cancuun and Dom republican. Spending far to much money and have been suffering the last three days from my yellow fever vaccine, aches, pains, glands the size of snooker balls and having to chew everything like a tortoise. Anyway - its all good , my spanish is still shite. Adious machachos...

Posted by Marta-Alex 10:32 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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