Tuesday, January 30, 2007

No Future II

Bolivian SkyLife is beautiful.

Recent highlights include: watching a group of friends sing Manu Chau's Me Gusta Tu at a Bolivian karaoke bar, watching a very drunk Dave fall through the screen at said karaoke bar*, spending the afternoon lazing with Melanie watching Sucre from a hilltop**, getting soaked to the skin running through the pouring night rain and lightning of Santa Cruz with the same Melanie.

* Afterwards the owner of the bar wanted $500 for a broken guitar, Dave, being a musician, and drunk, demanded to see the "probably just scratched" guitar. The "scratch" was actually a break at the neck.

** Unfortunately this meant we got to the bus stop 15 mins before all the buses left for Santa Cruz and had to travel on separate buses. This made the forced stop behind a landslide at 3:30am quite sweet, after walking a not insignificant distance in either direction I discovered her bus was directly behind mine. The journey was only supposed to be 13-17 hours, it ended up at 24.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guess Who's Back

Well I am back in the land of civilisation, kinda.

Lonely FlamingoI don't know what springs to your mind when you think of Bolivia, but for me it is certainly not flamingos, but they are here, in their thousands. The four day tour was spectacular, check the photos, just getting up at 5am and 4855minto a landcruiser was pretty cool. Yes Mum, we all felt the altitude (we were at 4500 - 5000m most of the time) at various points and to various degrees. I had spent a week at 3000m, and for the first two days was fine, but on the third day had a headache, which turned into a general feeling of ill-being.

So I am now in Potosi (4050m), about to do a tour of a working mine, and since I haven't been able to find a bed for the night, and me mate Dave is there I am going to try to head for Sucre tonight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

It Never Rains

If there is anything funnier than a middle aged Australian couple arguing in an internet cafe over a group email trying to control their voices then I have yet to find it.

"Chris, you are brain-dead when it comes to this stuff!"

So since mentioning the rainy season in my last post it has been raining about 50% of the time. Mostly during the night luckily, but I got caught out last night and am now wearing plastic bags for socks.

Only 56kmThe road to Iruya is 56km of dirt track. There isn't one bus a day, there's a convoy of five buses that all leave together. Safety in numbers I think. There were no problems on the way there but on the way back we had 4 punctures between the five buses and had to stop several times to help other stranded vehicles. I suppose it's the rain.

Southern HemisphereHumahuaca is a black hole. There's nothing here but you can't leave, and when you do leave you come straight back. Not that I mind, we had a really nice Din-Dinslunch at the hostel yesterday, I was trying to work out why the locals were laughing at me, at first I thought it was because I was eating the chili sauce so easily, but after a while the hostel owner showed me how to peel my broad beans(!)

Ok, that was all so long ago, I am now in Tupiza, Bolivia. The internet still sucks. I will be out of radio contact as I am going on a four day trip to the salt flats/deserts/pans/whatever, so don't worry too much if I don't email, I don't think they supply internet on the jeep.

Also this blog has moved to http://blog.kitten-x.com, I thought it might be easier to remember. Over and out.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Alone Again

Jumping Aconcagua (6990m)So Johanna and I finally split, after having a wonderful 3 weeks and then pulling each other's teeth and hair out in the last 3 days. Being alone again feels strange this time for some reason. I am back in the north, the land of Coloured Hillsmulticoloured hills. I was expecting it to be even hotter than last time, but I forgot that up here and in Bolivia and Peru they don't have summer, they have wet season, well done Jamie, a genius time to be travelling! So Antony: I now know what all the bridges are for.

Actually there is a big advantage to travelling Argentina now, it's the holidays, and for the first time I'm actually meeting Argentineans in hostels and having to speak Spanish!

It's funny how things always seem much better when you're desperate. Last night I arrived in Humahuaca 24 hours after leaving Mendoza to find no room at the inn(s), so to speak. After walking across the town three times I finally made it to an extremely basic hostel. So basic that it's not actually finished yet. But I love it. It reminds me a lot of Lockerbrook (target audience) in the good (bad) old days. We even have to do the washing up outside.

I don't care what people say, dogs definitely understand some language. I was talking to the dog at the hostel in English and it didn't understand a word, I switched to Spanish and it was suddenly obedient. It positively jumped when I said "afuera!" ("out!"). Except having just looked it up I think I might have said "a fuerte!" ("to strong!").

I tried some coca leaves properly for the first time today, a few people I have spoken to said that they didn't feel any effects, I did, and I don't think I like it. Obviously there's the numbing of the cheek and tongue, and then there's a sort of light feeling, and if anything it made me more introverted, which wasn't good being with a group of Argentines that I'd only just met trying to speak Spanish. I felt like it made me a bit stupid too (no comments please). Definitely staves off hunger though.

Mum's worried about me going to Bolivia, can't imagine why.

Thought this was quite amusing:

"They all hate the Bush plan. All except Bush, and even he does, if one can judge by the look on his face during the speech."


In other news I hate the internet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

No Future

SurrealApart from electric kettles another thing that Chile has over Argentina is change. I'm not talking profound change, but rather small change. In Argentina you have to constantly be aware of what change you have left, remember to withdraw odd amounts from ATMs and try to get rid of big notes at every opportunity. And it's not just my imagination.

I have to decide soon whether I want to extend my trip, probably for another three months. Since I still have to visit Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela and only have six weeks left it's a bit of a "no brainer", but a few days ago I was feeling a bit jaded about the whole meet new people, make friends, move on, meet new people, make new friends, ad nauseum, thing, which is a bit strange since the last 3-4 weeks in Bariloche and Valparaiso have been some of the best of my trip so far.

I met a really nice girl at a party last night, but I can't help thinking, wtf is the point? She lives in BsAs, I'm leaving the country, blah blah blah. Then I got a lift back with someone who certainly should not have been driving. I would have been scared if I hadn't been so tired and drunk. He spent most of the time on the wrong side of the road overtaking people.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Blues

Oblig. VIINew Year's... came and went. I had a really good night the night before though, I just find new year's can never live up to the hype. There were supposed to be 3 million people in Valparaiso. And the fireworks were supposed to be breaking records. And unfortunately I didn't stay out long enough to see (or experience) the water cannons dispersing the crowds. I guess old habits die hard. I've been longing to get a photo, these dark green monsters hide in the shadows of ally ways, popping up like some sort of manifestation of malintent just as everyone else is having a good time. I haven't been able to find anything in the news, the BBC seem to think that it's the beginning of April rather than the beginning of January:

Anyway, the highlight was meeting a Kiwi from our hostel, finding his Kermit the Frog (which reminds me, what's the connection between Kermit the Frog and Jack the Ripper? They both have the same middle name) missing an eye, soaking wet because they'd just been for a swim in the fountain together, watching him feed Kermit some beer which he had previously refused us saying "it was a present", then swinging him round spraying everyone with a cocktail of fountain water and beer. Then later seeing the same guy climb the statue in the same fountain, with a brand new, wide wine stain all the way down his previously white T-shirt, remove his T-shirt and do the haka (the Maori war dance that the All Blacks do).