Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Lima gets a bad rap, and I'm not sure why, it's loud and polluted and the nice parts are expensive (man I've spent a lot of money over the last few days) and full of criminals, but what city isn't? And how many cities are this hot and have a nice cool shoreline to walk along? Maybe that's just it, I've been really lucky with the weather.

So I sold my soul, or morals, or rather bought someone else's, or at least mine deserted me when I went to the shops and saw how pricey cameras are here, no wonder the markets can charge so much.

Apparently the Peruvian government is trying to make Peru more punctual. It seems ok to me. Compared to other South American nations.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

For A Few Dollars More

Guess I have to say something about Machu Picchu :)

Day 1: We got the bus up to the top of a hill in the pouring rain and had lunch in a wooden shack in the middle of high jungle which had a giant corrugated iron bus shelter by it. We left the bikes about a meter outside the shelter. The rain stopped. We cycled for mile upon glorious mile of downhill track past sheer hills and jungle and fjords. The bikes slowly broke, the guides always taking the worst ones, by the end of the ride one guide had no chain and was scooting along, the other's saddle was at a painful looking angle. Got extremely muddy. Rained on and off.

Day 2: Trekked one of the Inca trails, again through jungle and along sheer hillsides, this time just wide enough for perhaps two people. My fear of heights and I got firmly reacquainted. Made friends with a pig at lunch.

Day 3: Seemed a bit pointless, but maybe that's just because it was mostly raining, we walked along a road before lunch and then a railway line after lunch, but we got to eat lots of things along the way. And see Machu Picchu (from below) for the first time.

Day 4: Got up at 4:30am and started the final accent to Machu Picchu. I think having been at altitude for so long has made me a bit fitter, Machu Picchu is relatively low, and quite a few of the others were having difficulty climbing the steps up. Machu Picchu itself are some recent ruins in good condition in an amazing setting. There's a vote on atm for the 8th wonder, they're pushing for Machu Picchu, but I'm not sure. While on the train/bus back to Cusco a fellow Machu Picchuer suggested I fly to Lima, rather than taking the 20 hour bus ride, as you can get tickets for under $60, not a lot more than the bus. Dropped my washing and asked for it by 12 the next day.

Day 5: Had a leisurely breakfast and got to the airport to enquire about tickets at about 10, to be told that the last cheap ticket was at midday, meaning I'd have to check my luggage in at 11. Rushed back to the hostel to see if my washing was ready. It wasn't, but I could go down the road to pick it up wet. Got back in the same taxi, went down the road, jumped out to search for my clothes, once I had found them and got back into the taxi the driver advised me not to leave my bags in taxis in Cusco as drivers often just drive off with them, but luckily he didn't like doing that. Made it to the airport at 11:00, hoping I had remembered to pack everything in my haste and checked in with a carrier bag full of wet washing as my hand luggage.

The first thing that I did in Lima was to check out the markets for cameras. It actually depressed me seeing all these blatantly stolen cameras, I think I was secretly hoping that I might see mine. I'm going to have to buy one from a shop (I'm probably going to buy a compact until the insurance comes through, finger's crossed), I cannot stomach buying a stolen camera. Bloody morals.

Hopefully some of the guys that were on the trek with me will take pity and donate a couple of pictures so that you don't have to just imagine me clinging to rocks along the way :)

Something I heard recently: "It's not that I don't believe in God, I do, it's just that I don't respect him."

Inca Stinka

The two things I find amazing about the Incas is how recent they are, 500 years (after all, they fought the Spanish) and, especially considering that, how little we seem to know about them. Every answer a guide gives seems to start with "Well..." For example I wanted to know why or how the Incas seem to have done so well against a Spanish army presumably armed with much more advanced weapons, and what weapons the Incas used against them. The answers went something like this "Well... there was probably ten Incas to every one Spaniard." and "Well... they might have used clubs with star headed stone heads and slings, we still use them today." We know what ancient civilisations believed created the moon, earth and stars, but did the Incas know that the earth goes around the sun? "Well... they had this sun dial to tell what time of year it was, and when to plant the crops so maybe they did, but maybe they didn't."

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Morning After II

I think I chose a bit of a bad day to go to Machu Picchu, the weather looks good, but everyone from my room went out last night and came back at various stages, waking me up. The last lot came back at about 5:30-6am, an hour before I was to get up, but how can you be angry at someone who wakes you up by playing the guitar so beautifully and singing "Jamie's asleep in bed, I'm off my head, on cocaine"? :)

The Big One

So I am off to the big MP tomorrow. I'm not doing the trail, partly because it's closed in February for maintenance, but also because it's pretty expensive. I'm doing an alternative four day trail, with biking on the first day. Apparently the biking is more impressive that the death road biking out of La Paz, which is good because I've been regretting not doing that. Machu Picchu without a camera, just fancy.

Dan, seriously, what's happened to you? Don't tell me all that time we spent in internet cafes together was purely for my benefit.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Morning After

So at the end of my Bad Day, I returned to my hostel to put my name down for dinner (I really didn't want to eat alone) to be told I was too late. I almost turned away and cried, but instead swallowed my pride and begged, and showed how thin I was and how little I would eat and was rewarded with chicken satay.

It's a real shame I haven't got a camera, the hostel I am staying at is beautiful with amazing views.

I happened to mention a song Dan had claimed was the best mash up he'd ever heard, Enya vs Prodigy, to one of the bar staff who promptly downloaded it. I can see what Dan means, they are well matched, but really Dan, it's terrible! My favourites are still A Stroke of Genius and I Wish I Was A Cannonball, both by Freelance Hellraiser - The Strokes vs Christina Aguilera and The Breeders vs Skee-Lo respectively.

Arequipa is at a mere 2380m, while there I felt fit and healthy again, I could walk up flights of stairs, and even run! Cusco is at 3500m, and again, a short walk up a hill has me breathless.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


FuckersWell it finally happened, I had my camera stolen :( I know it's not the end of the world but it's really put a downer on things. And it's raining. But at least I get to use my "North Face" anorak. £2.70 in La Paz, it's already got a cigarette burn hole on one shoulder.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I wonder what the election turn out is in South America, there's political graffiti everywhere. The current Bolivian president is the first of indigenous heritage, and is acting accordingly. The rich, white east wants more autonomy, though if you believe the graffiti in Santa Cruz they want independence. I received an email recently from a guy I met in Chile enquiring how things were in Bolivia, since "there is a chance of civil war soon". You could have fooled me. On a less serious note, driving into Peru there was some classic put your X here graffiti in support of Juan Huanca. Pronounced the Spanish way to English ears it sounds quite rude!

Mum, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that I made it through Bolivia without mishap, you can breath a sigh of relief. The bad news is that I am closer to Colombia :)

Lightning FlashesI've put up the lightning pictures and video. The pictures all looked the same unfortunately and the video is virtually all black, so you just have Dan's commentary and a few flashes of lightning.

Boring Anecdote III (These Things Always Come In Threes)

Tuesday morning I came down the stairs of our hostel in Copacabana and came across a lone wallet midway. After handing it in to reception I thought nothing more of it. Later waiting for our lunch we realised that we might be too late for the boat to Isla del Sol and so I went to fetch our two bags. At the hostel the receptionist asked me about the wallet and then asked me if I could wait a moment. He went off and came back with the Big Boss Man. BBM proceeded to open the wallet and tell me that there was $150 missing, pointing the finger at me and mentioned the police. I was speechless, never before has Jamie "Honest" Kitson been accused of stealing $150, in fact I don't recall ever being accused of anything! As I was showing him exactly where I had found it, with Hollywood timing, a Friendly Face appeared around the banister and claimed the wallet as his own. I explained what was going on in English, and FF was suitably confused. BBM asked FF how much money had been in the wallet, FF replied under 100 bolivianos, BBM checked the wallet, found 30 and FF said "Yeah, 30, sure." BBM's demeanor suddenly changed to smiles and hand shakes and I was allowed to rush off back to lunch and our boat across the water. Moral: Don't stay at Residencia Solar in Copacabana.

I had A Moment on the island. Dan and I were filming/photographing the approaching lightning a top a hill, at 4025m, on an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia in the encroaching dark, thinking "What kind of life is this?"

But where are all my Valentine's emails?!

I'll put up the lightning pictures and Dan's video as soon as we rejoin ADSL land. Hopefully tomorrow in Puno, Peru.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pushing The Boat Out

We really treated ourselves last night. We started at a Japanese restaurant, eating lots of lovely sushi, then went on to "Dumbo's" and had ice cream and coffee with cocoa lacquer, chocolate and cream. Then we sat on a bench feeling sick for a while before crossing the street to a bar which turned out to be a karaoke bar. As Dan remarked, we don't even need to look for them any more, they come to us. This one was much cheaper and younger than the one we'd been to the previous night, some friendly locals were so impressed with our singing (Dan - Help and Hey Jude, Anne - A Whole New World (unfortunately she only knew it in Danish) and I - House of the Rising Sun and Every Breath You Take) that they took us out to a club. Clubs have to shut at 4am in Bolivia due to government licencing. Nearly as backward as the UK! :)

Snap HappyI've uploaded some videos, the most interesting, me being an idiot, has a nice shot of La Paz at the end. Unfortunately though you can't make out the way that the houses go all the way up the sides of the hills.

I really hate rushing, it's now Tuesday 13th Feb, and we're in Copacabana. We have to spend a day in Peru to renew our Bolivian visas before Thursday, and then maybe head back into Bolivia to a carnival in Oruro for the weekend, giving us about a day to "do" Copacabana and the islands in lake Titicaca.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Paranoid Androids

Double VisionDan and I went out with a new female friend (we shall call her N, for that is her name, sort of) last night and we ended up at a karaoke bar. After singing a couple of numbers (Dan - All Day and All of the Night, N and I - California Dreaming) N announced that she was feeling strange and abruptly left. The next morning N knocked on our door to say good morning. Later, in private, I confessed to Dan that I was relieved as I had been concerned that N had left after I had leaned over to speak with him and perhaps inappropriately touched her leg. Dan replied that he had also been worried that she'd left after he'd touched her leg accidentally. She is now sharing our room, so the experience can't have scarred/scared her that badly. Although I'm not entirely sure she understood all the Spanish, and Dan and I might have been a little economical with the translation :)

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Peace

All The Pretty ColoursBefore coming to La Paz I had yet to experience a video on a Bolivian bus, it turns out they have similar habits to the Argentines. Our bus left almost on time at 11pm, the lights were put out at about midnight, then an hour later, just as we were all trying to grab our sleep from the 5 hours left, all of the televisions emitted a loud buzz and Alien Vs Predator came on. I was at least glad of the English subtitles, else how would I have known what the hell was going on?

I managed to change my flight today. I will be back in your green and pleasant land on 4th July. Changing my flight cost £50. The phone call cost £20. Apparently a teacher makes about £3 a day.

Me mate Dan has some interesting photos up of our time together. Look out for our mate Dave.

My brother writes a funny blog. Yes Sam, I am jealous.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dry At Last

This Jesus Is Brought To You By...Opening my bag upon arriving in Cochabamba I found a moldering pile of damp clothes, smelling the same as my room had in Santa Cruz. Why oh why did I spend a week there? I have things to do, people to meet, places to be, I want to be in Mexico in April! Onward and upward!

Jamie and His Tea.I was beginning to think that Santa Cruzians hated foreigners, without exception, when, Goddess of irony strong as ever, we went for a cuppa half an hour before our bus left and encountered an extremely friendly waitress, who sat and chewed the cud with us. Yes Alanis, it certainly is like ra-ain on your wedding day.

Anyway, Cochabamba is nice and dry and hot, all of my clothes are out airing on the washing line as I type, and apparently the night life here is all within the centre. Things are looking up. Just hope no one's run off with my pants.

I wrote this yesterday. Ms Morissette is having the last laugh. My dreams were invaded by thunder and lightning during the night. I swear it was right above us. In my dreams there was no gap between the flashes of lightning and the cracks of thunder. It is now tipping it down. It's still not humid though, thank God. And no one took my pants.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You're Not That Far

Whatsit?I'm really not that enamoured with Santa Cruz. I think it's partly the weather, it's really, really humid. Once your clothes are damp that's it. And I don't think it's helped by my dank room, I've been meaning to change hostels for days, but I've not managed to catch the midday checkout time yet, and I intend to leave for Cochabamba on Monday. Anyway, apart from the humidity, this town is apparently like an American town in that there's nothing much to do in the center (sorry, centre), you have to get a taxi out to the "strips", where lots of big neon signed karaoke bars live. So far the song that has gone down the best for me has been Big Spender, during which I did big kicks for the Bah-Baah-Bah-Bah bit, afterwards a guy came up and gave me a drink(!) we rocked the party!

But I've been loving Bolivia so far. It's really surprised me, one of my favourite phrases of the moment is "I just wasn't expecting this from Bolivia." And it's not just the flamingos. No one prepared me for the food. I had been warned that it was going to be boring, and my first meal in Bolivia, after asking for a steak sandwich (lomito, a speciality around these parts) and then a hamburger, I was informed that there was only one thing on the menu which used four of the most boring The Happy Placeingredients known to mankind: roast chicken, chips, rice and pasta (I kid ye not). Topped off with a chili sauce which WAS NOT HOT. But since then I have been amazed by the culinary delights of these parts, though at the moment we are frequenting a place reminiscent of Disney World.

Being a stickler for credit I have to thank Maddy for the title of this post, though aptly she thought the song went "Santa Cruz you're not that fine."