Why Do Flowers DiePosted October 4th 2009 by PaPa
Well, I just got back from my 3 day tour of the Salar de Uyuni and the Bolivian southwest. The tour consisted of myself, a half English, half French Australian guy, a Polish couple on their honeymoon, a Czech couple and our non-English speaking driver slash guide in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
The tour departed at 10:30 Bolivian time (i.e. at 11:30 GMT -5) and we hit the salt flats, which are difficult to convey in words other than saying that they are big, flat and white. We spent the night at a hotel made of salt at the edge of the flats, which was actually quite a pleasant establishment. After dinner we settled down for a chat, which consisted largely of the Czech bloke talking about how terrible socialism was. The Polish guy seemed to be less impassioned on the subject, his response to the Czech's claim that under socialism the waiting period for a car in Czechoslovakia was five years being to grin widely and say "In Poland, was three years." After the ladies went to bed the men settled down to a game of poker, using coca leaves as chips.
The title of this post refers to one of the songs on the cassette that the driver played on repeat for the entire fucking second day, which when not in the car was spent at various rock formations and large blue lagoons populated by pink flamingoes. The hotel for the second night was significantly less comfortable, to the extent that rather than use the toilet most people went and pissed in the sub-zero temperatures outside.
Some twat on another tour decided to break out his acoustic guitar after dinner, and after opening with 'Hallelujah' went on to every other overplayed track you can think of, well into the night even after every one else was trying to get some fucking sleep.
The next morning, rising at a quarter to five in still sub-zero temperatures, we sallied forth to some hot springs where we ate breakfast. Lacking the necessary clothing for full immersion I settled for sitting with my feet in the wonderfully hot water and smoking a cigarette. The last day was mostly concerned with getting back to Uyuni, involving a great deal of fast driving along rough tracks that pounded my buttocks into ground beef.
You may have noticed that I haven't really described any of the things I saw on the tour. Pics in like 3 weeks or something.
Living on a PrayerPosted September 30th 2009 by PaPa
I am reporting to you from an internet gaming cafe in Potosi. The kid next to me is currently dueling outside Orgrimmar. He appears to be in the guild "Shattered Chaps" which I think we can all agree is the best guild name ever.
Just about to leave Potosi, where I went on a tour of the local mines at Cerro Rico - Rich Mountain. I have to admit that I pussied out halfway through (that is an hour in to be fair) when the next phase involved crawling on our hands and knees through a tiny little tunnel. Thanks, but no thanks. Either way it was an interesting experience - the tour guide even set off some explosives for us, and I have a picture of myself holding a bomb with a lit fuse next to my testicles.
Heading out to Uyuni today, from where I will get on a tour of the salt flats and the national park to the south which features both red and turquoise lakes. Ciao for now.
Bitches Don't KnowPosted September 20th 2009 by PaPa
In most places that I've been to so far, you have to go somewhere to get to the market district. In La Paz, it sometimes seems as though the entire city is a market, with different areas selling AV extension cables, delicious spicy sausage sandwiches and poppy seed cake, as well as llama foetuses for use in indigineous healing spells. The shoelace on my left shoe broke, and although I tried numerous shoe shops, none of which sold laces for some reason, I eventually found some at a streetside stall whose wares otherwise consisted of crisps, chocolate and mobile phones.
All this makes La Paz quite a pleasant place to walk around in - or at least it would if it wasn't about 3500m above sea level and built in a steep valley, making any excursion highly exhausting. I was intending to head out to the nearby ruins of Tihuanaco this afternoon, but I was just too tired from walking around the city this morning.
Getting here was an adventure in itself - the route from Puno in Peru involved crossing Lke Titicaca, which the passengers did in a motorboat whilst the coach was taken across on an enormous flatbed wooden ferry. I'm heading to a place called Rurrenbaque tomorrow, which is an 18-20 hour coach ride down from the mountains and into the Amazon, which I have not yet visited but figured I should hit up pretty soon before the Bolivian summer (read: rains) get going.
Week One (and a half)Posted September 16th 2009 by PaPa
So, this is my retranscription of events thus far.
I had a highly annoying start as due to massive queues at Sao Paulo airport I missed my connection to Lima. Apparently, because my previous flight wasn't delayed, the airline won't take responsibility and I had to fork over nearly 470 pounds sterling to get an onward flight that afternoon, an onward flight, I might add, that involved connections in Assuncion (Paraguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) before finally getting me to Peru. Obiously I'm going to try and claim the money back from someone but for now I'm just trying to put it behind me.
Having spent the previous night not sleeping in an airport I was pretty tired when I reached Lima. I chilled out there for a day or so getting my bearings and trying cigarette brands (turns out I smoke Premiers) before getting a bus to Huancayo, a small city up in the Andes. Unfortunately it was a night busa so I missed what the guidebook assures me is a breathtaking ascent, but whatever. I took a bus tour around the valley for a day, visiting the smaller villages with their special crafts (weaving, silversmithing, trout farming, dairy products) and stopped for lunch at a little restaurant in the trout farming place where I had, naturally, trout and chips. I also bought a hat here. It's really difficult to buy hats in Peru - everywhere just sells tourist hats. I kept wanting to stop old men on the street and ask them where the hell they bought their pimp fedoras, or maybe buy a beggar's hat from him. However, I ended up buying a terrible leather cowboy hat which I wore for one day before all the people laughing at me in the street got too much.
After Huancayo I moved on to Huancavelica - as mentioned in my previous post, don't go there. The trip down from Huancayo allowed me to see some of the scenery I'd missed on the way up. The road winds through a river valley high in the Andes and is genuinely beautiful (if a little scary at times). However, the enjoyable journey did end at the less enjoyable Huancavelica. It's really non-touristy in a really bad way. I spent eight uncomfortable hours there being stared at in the street, having young men mutter "gringo" as they pass me in the street and nearly twisted my ankle stepping off the pavement thanks to their ridiculous drains. I left my hat here - a fitting home for a shit hat. Got the first bus out of there to Pisco, which was a much more pleasant place.
Despite a certain warzone aesthetic due to the earthquake that hit the south coast a couple of years ago, it was a much nicer place to spend time than Huancavelica, with friendly locals and plenty of guys on the street selling delicious deep fried treats. Pisco has a coupe of nearby sites of wildlife interest - I took a boat tour of the Balletas Islands in the morning, which are described as the (very) poor man's Galapagos, and then headed out to the much more impressive Paracas National Reserve in the afternoon. This is basically miles upon miles of stunning desert scenery and coastline (pictures when I get back). We stopped at a little trio of restaurants overlooking a bay where I payed a ridiculous amount for cerviche, but I guess that's the price you can charge when you have fantastic views and incredibly fresh fish. Cerviche, by the way, is a Peruvian dish of raw fish or seafood with a lime dressing. It is very tasty. Bought a slightly better hat here.
After Pisco I carried on south down the coast to Ica, a somewhat larger town that either didn't get hit as hard by the earthquake or was rebuilt faster. Spent my first day wandering around and being incredibly hot, and on the second day headed out to the Huacachina lagoon in the desert, which is basically a kind of mini-resort. A small lagoon surrounded by a horseshoe concrete walkway and numerous hotels and restaurants. Despite this it was quite pleasant, although I in fact chickened out of taking advantage of the duneboards for hire.
After Ica I hit Nazca - of the Nazca Lines, although I didn't see them because I am cheap. The main thing I took away from Nazca was that people selling cake in the street is the best thing ever. Booked a ticket on an overnight bus to Arequipa for 11:30pm, but the bus was then four hours late, time I spent sitting in the bus terminal, for the first time cracking open the copy of The Brothers Karamazov that I'd brought along for reading material. Turns out it's pretty compelling.
I'm currently sitting in an internet cafe in Arequipa, from where I shall try and get a bus to Puno this afternoon. I wouldn't have minded staying longer but this place is packed with tourists and so everything is really expensive - I just can't afford to. Anyway, that's me up to date. Hope the rest of you fags are doing well.
kekePosted September 14th 2009 by Dae