Thursday, 30 December 2010

Shock! Horror! Last post of 2010...

So, I would like to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Even though its 6 hours away in Sydney...

This year, wow, its gone fast hasn't it? I never would have thought in January, when I was stuck at home in the snow, with no heating as I couldn't get to work - that I would end this year in Sydney. Just goes to show that anything can happen I guess...

This has been a weird year I think. I started a new and exciting job, then decided I was going traveling, then had my heart broken, then went traveling, had the best time in South America, met the most amazing people, got over it and flew to Sydney, where I shall end this weird year and start the most amazing year! That's the dream.

But obviously this year got significantly better and I have an idea of where I might be going when I get back home...we shall see.

So theres the reminiscing for 2010. Looking forward to 2011 - have a good feeling about it. Despite being homeless and jobless when I get back - I think it will be a great chance for lots of new things!

Here's a picture of a chrismassy Llama, don't say I never give you anything.
Anyways, so Sydneys treating me fine. Went to Manly yesterday for the beach and a bbq at a friends house, which was awesome!! And tonight I am going with Dee, Sheila and Michael to a bar near the harbour to see the fireworks, drinks, food etc. Should be a wicked night.

Anyways, best wishes and all that jazz to everyone and Happy New Year, when it comes around to where you are.

Missing you all as ever, muchos love xxxx

Monday, 27 December 2010

Crazy Chris's Christmas...

This is Chris, observing the drinking games from the corner of the room.

...ok, so I have to tell you guys about this crazy guy thats sharing a room with us. He's called chris, 25 from Florida and is a mechanic engineer. He also says things like:

Did you know that the perfect bottle of water whould be around PH7 which is neutral.
They've done studies to show that women who only show 30% of their body are more likely to find someone.
Have you been eating lettuce? Because lettuce contains vitamin K which stops you from bruising.
If you mix zinc in your drink you wont need to pee.
This bottle of wine lasts 3 days as you only drink 2 units a day, thats the recommended allowance.
Do British girls shave their legs? Because yours has fuzz on them (to Danielle).
I hate Italians.
I didn't have a good night. It was full of muslims and lebonese.

And so on. He also has a printed spreadsheet of his 5 year plan which includes:

Finding a wife and getting married.
Having 4 children.
Being rich and successful - earning around 42k.
Building up the body mass as least 0.5%.
Obtaining charisma - oh no, wait, he's already got that.

He's such a strange guy and comes out with random facts about vitamins, statistics and women ovulating. I am a little bit scared that I will wake up and see him staring at me. Or him killing me. Its totally possible. He ziplocks everything he owns and brought his own christmas penguin themed kitchen roll. hmm....

anyways, I dont want to sound too bitchy, but he is a nutter who creeps us all out and is actually really rude to us and totally  narrow minded and racist towards everyone who isn't Australian.

So, apart from crazy Chris, I've actually been having an awesome time in Sydney. Christmas day was beautiful, so hot and sunny. I met up with Dee and Heidi and we went for  Christmas swim (better than our last near drowning attempt) sunbathing and having a bbq. How can it get better than that?!? I also discovered that Christmas in Kent was not a white one, which makes me feel a bit better :)

And I got to speak to the whole family and hear them opening their presents...which was nice to hear them all, bit jealous of the presents though ;)

So now Sydneys been a bit wet, we got lucky for Christmas. Its cloudy alot of the time and still warm, but wet. Damn. Should've stayed in BA.

Apart from my jetlagged days, I have been out pretty much every night since my arrival, so no stopping from BA....although I have actually managed to catch up on my sleep a bit more, I dont feel like the living dead.

Today I walked through China town to Darling Harbour, went to the Maritime Museum which was actually really interesting with a shark exhibition and about the children from the uk in the 19th centuary who were shipped over to oz against their will. Then I walked over the sydney harbour bridge and got some beautiful panoramic shots of the harbour.

And I am a very lucky girl, as I have been talking to my great uncle Patrick and he's flying me out to Tazmania next week for a visit, to meet family that I've never met before. Am really looking forward to it.

I also have realised that Australia is a super expensive country. You actually can spend 100 quid on nothing. I bought a train ticket, some food and a few drinks and thats literally about it. And that is still me living off noodles and salad. Insane.

Anyways, think me and the girls are gonna do the Sydney Tower tomorrow and the botanical gardens, as i dont think it'll be another beach day. Damn. I will also buy baked beans tomorrow, actually been craving them for months now. Can't wait. It really is the simple things...

He's a complimentary shot of me in Sydney...

Enjoy. Muchos love as ever xxxx

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas from Sydney!!


ok, so my christmas has started well - champagne breakfast to follow a hectic, christmas themed night out in Sydney. This has gotten much better, especially as my first few days in sydney was pretty bad. I was put in a room of 7 english 'lads on tour' and it was actually worse than 'that night' in the salt flats. Thats saying something!!

I literally lost days of my life - travelling, the date line and bad jet lag meant that i just wanted to sleep, instead at 4pm, i was woken up by the 7 horribly drunk guys, walking around totally naked, jumping on me whilst i was in bed and trying to take my covers off me. This i could tolerate, to a point. then we had a party in my room with around 30 other people i had never met, whilst i was still in bed. still tolerating.

The final straw was when one of the guys trying to kick the door in as he forgot his key, and brought a girl back, demanding that she get naked. then i left and demanded to change rooms. which has actually worked out much better, as the people in my room are much nicer and more my kind of people. We even make dens in our beds when we get back from a drunken night out and sing christmas carols. Everything works out in the end.

So i actually havent seen much of Sydney yet, met Dee and Heidi yesterday who I met in Argentina and spending christmas day with them on Coogee Bay Beach for a bbq, which will be awesome as the weather is beautiful today!

Am gutted to be missing a white christmas and missing making mince pies and mulled wine with mum, and decorating dads tree. next year.

So anyways, I'm off to the beach - dont be too cold back at home!! haha!!

miss you all tons and sorry i'm not there with you guys. muchos muchos muchos love always and forever xxxx

Thursday, 23 December 2010

One hell of a christmas catch up...

Okay, so Laura, you were right, sorry I actually haven't written anything in like forever. So this is gonna be a long one... (just as well you're on christmas hols by now!)

And apologies if its just not interesting. I lost days of my life this week travelling and am still quite jetlagged.

so...argentina....we went to mendoza for wines tours on bikes, courtesy of Mr Hugo, the nicest old man I've ever met- I could hug him forever!

(Ali - def get the Empress 10 bus from Mendoza bus station to the wineries, its like 1.80 pesos and easy to get to. confirm the route number at the info desk, they speak english and DO go to the olive and choc place, its awesome.)

We had a lot of fun in Mendoza, bbq, lots of drinking, Rach actually getting up the next day to do the wineries with me again! and Laura getting quite drunk and demanding Pink from the dj. awesome.

After a few days of this we got on yet another bus to Bariloche, the lake district of argentina. Absolutely beautiful. We stayed in Hostel Inn - highly recommended- with a view of the lake and snow topped mountains. And they specialise in chocolate, so i spent a lot of time in the cafes trying it all out. And we saw Sarah and Macca again! which was a surprise as we were sure they'd have left. Me and rach cycled the circuito chico, and did all the beaches and the swiss village for chocolate cake -we are professional cyclists of course. so in the end, it was like a killer 36km cycle, but on the most beautiful day. We attempted a swim in the lakes, i got up to my waist but then thought that my legs would fall off from the cold. And we saw one of National Geographics top rated panaramic views in the world, and did a bit of tobogganing, where i burnt my hand. I also had the most comfiest bed ever here. :)

So after Bariloche, we hit Puerto Madryn for a bit of whale watching, and not much else. Me and rach befriended 2 other english guys, Michael and Ian, to hire a car to do the Peninsula, where you can see penguinos, seals and whales. It was a rush of a day as you cant drive fast as the roads are all gravel, so you can easily flip over. But we saw the penguins and the seals, before heading back to try and get on the last boat of the day to do the whale watching. I think we got very lucky, as we were running a bit late and managed to catch them before they went out. Which was totally worth it. The whales are sooo huge, and they're all mothers and calves. There were so many of them, so graceful and they come really close to the boat. You can feel the whole boat rock when they swim underneath. But theres basically not much else to do once you've done that, so onto BA!

We were there for the weekend before we went to Uruguay for the beaches. We saw Dee, Laura, Sarah and Macca again, reunited! We went to the worst club on the saturday night, Crobar - but the highlights definitely were Maccas dancing and sitting on the dancefloor to do his show, and Rach's speedy moves ;) and Dees level of general drunkeness!

Amazingly, after a shit night and a bit hungover, we all met to do the San Telmo markets, which was cool and had the best sushi lunch. Yum Yum Yum (as Rach would say!)

Monday morning we went to Uruguay for a week of beaches, as you do need a good holiday when you're travelling. We went to La Pedrera which was super small and quiet but had a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, this is where i got the worst sunburn ever, as the wind makes it deceptively cooler. classic mistake. Then we hit La Paloma, which i didnt rate and then we lost Dee as she had to go to Chile. We finally arrived in Punto Del Diablo as its better than Punte del Este ;) - which was worth the wait. Its such a cool little hippy town full of locals and backpackers, just chilling out on beautiful beaches. So we spent a few sangria and twister fueled days here. But i also lost my favourite jumper here, which was devastating to me at the time as i got it at the last FFAF gig with the last original line up and the whole of casually dressed..from front to back. but i guess it makes my awful awful backpack lighter. You learn quickly to hate your backpack.

anyways, after this it was back to BA (for anyone who is unaware of travelling terms, its Buenos Aires) for my final week in south america :(

it also turned out to be the best week of my entire trip.

I absolutely LOVED BA!!! its actually the best city after London. One week isn't enough! We went out every night and were out everyday and still i didnt get to see or do everything i wanted.insane. we went to:

La Boca - multicoloured houses
La  Paloma - street art and boutique shops (like east london)
Recoletta - famous and most interesting cemetery and fuerza bruta - more of that later!

Tango show, la bomba drum show, the best night out at Pacha, the worst night out in kika ( me and ali actually got mauled by Argentinian guys and had to be saved by aussies in vests) and a cool drum'n'bass night at Bahriem. I literally didn't sleep for the first few days, hardly saw my bed for partying so much and only had breakfast the first and last day. So. Much. Fun.

Fuerza Bruta - the BEST show i have ever ever seen! me and ali loved it so much that we saw it again the next night. Its like a club/interactive dance/light/water show. With flying boxes, confetti, girls dancing in a water tank suspended just above your head, a treadmill and being hit with stuff and getting quite wet. Doesnt make sense does it? cos you NEED to see it. thats really all i can tell you about that.

So basically, i ended my south america trip on a massive high, its been truely awesome. ive met the best people and made the best of friends and actually cried my eyes out when i left. bit awkward for the two boys i never met sitting next to me in the taxi.

so this is the part that is a bit soppy and please bear with me.

I would like to thank these guys for making my trip what it was:

Mark - thank you so much for taking care of me when i was so ill in cuzco, you're a star and im sorry i couldnt catch you up! i'll be seeing your awesome bar soon though!

Sarah - I LOVE it that you argued about 10p! And thank you so much for your endless spanish, i know it wasnt always easy for you and we all really appreciate it. and i had so much fun dancing to Ga Ga with you in an old church in a cemetary club...random!! See you at the wedding love - keep me updated!

Macca Pacca!! aka - Rebecca. You put up with alot of girly chat over the last couple of months. but im not sorry about that! you can be the most awkward person at times, which i absolutely love! i know we're not supposed to find you funny, but i cant help it! see you in march!

Laura - im so glad you're not going back to your job, you've made the best decision. enjoy the family, they mean so much to you. and ive had the best time with you - thanks for picking me up in uyuni and cleaning the kitchen!! and of course trying to explain who Pink is in spanish!!
Ali - I only knew you a week but it feels like we've been friends forever!! i miss you already! you need to come to london, you'd fit right in! And i love it that you hate paul!! have a wicked time in new york and maybe see u in Melbourne some time??

Dee - Sydney awaits!! cant wait to see you for lunch today, its been ages since we hung out!! and by the beach...mega jealous. lets get drunk and enjoy christmas! muchos love.

Ant - I had such a great time hanging out with you, even if you are a bit rowdy and you (or someone else!) kicks us out. Enjoy your time here, it wont be long till we're partying it up in Mckluskys.

Tom - should've hungout in the salt flats - but i guess you and ben were busy spooning tom! ive had the best week with you and am also a bit gutted. have a wicked time and i'll see you in the summer x

Rach - my Racheroo. How could i have done all of these things without you? I can't believe its come to an end and we were the last ones standing, as ever!! I love you so much - acutally devastated to have left you. But have a great time, enjoy Rio - the time of your life!!!

So that is that for south america. Me and ben got the plane together - where we werent sitting together so i missed the 19 hours of his face. but half our plane seemed to be people we'd met along the way. Everyday was a challenge and a surprise, better than expected but completely unexpecting. The best time of my life was in south america, but am looking forward to the rest of the trip.

So, its christmas eve over here now, with mariah carey playing on repeat it seems. Im off to meet Dee for lunch and makes some christmas plans, as its not sunny, booo!!!
Have a Merry Christmas everyone!! I love and miss you all, and gutted to miss my first white christmas at home. Typical huh? muchos muchos muchos loves xxxxxxxxx

Friday, 19 November 2010

The truths about travelling...

1. The Lonely Planet is known as the Lonely Liar.

2. Whenever there is a group of international people and alcohol, you always talk about world history, politics and the future.

3. Your feet are never clean (except in a shower, and then that depends...)

4. You get called a gringo nearly everyday, by someone.

5. As a gringo, you call your small backpack, your daypack.

6. Socks and flip-flops are acceptable.

7. Everyone is on the same trail in either direction and you will bump into them again.

8. You either have time or money but rarely both.

9. For every few weeks of great travelling, comes a full day of utter hell.
10. You end up wearing the same outfit for days.

11. Handwashing in the shower saves time and money.

12. You forget what day it is, almost everyday.

13. Pictures and words don´t capture how amazing something is. Only     experiencing it does.

14. You can wear your pj bottoms in the street and people dont look twice, as a gringo.

15. Bottled water is a way of life.

16. You can do 12 hours on a bus standing on your head. (not literally).

17. Two-tiar pricing sucks.

18. Street food is awesome.

19. Spanish is very different in every country you visit.

20. The travelbug never goes away. (i hope). 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Clubbing in a church and the fall.

Hola chicos!

So crazy times were had in salta. I purchased a beautiful cropped flamingo tshirt, which i felt guilty about buying but absolutley love it!

And after our free chilli at the hostel, i wore this top to the club we went to afters, which was an old church in a cementry. and the shots over here are muy peligroso, because you have no idea how much you are drinking!! especially when everyone wants to buy you drinks..

...basically the story goes like this - alot of alochol, lots of dancing, me and sarah running around chatting to the djs making them lady gaga, rachel disappearing and meeting the pretty boy.
twas a good, very drunken and silly night! basically the pretty boy was very pretty but was from southampton and works in formula 1, not a surfer...still quite a cool job though. so everyone had lots of drunken fun at the club and after ;)

we woke up half an hour before check out time, all still majorly drunk, chucked on some clothes and packed and then we squeezed into a taxi to have the  best mcdonalds you´ve ever tasted!

and i saw the pretty boy again back at the hostel before we left..but it was all cool.

so then we left sarah and macca :( and me rach and laura headed to iguazu for the most spectaular waterfalls you´ve ever seen! it was a loong journey, 23 hours on the bus. but you get as many crackers and choccie biscuits as you can eat plus some food and alcohol..which i did not want in the state i was in!

iguazu the town is pretty small with not much going on, but the hostal was nice, with a warm pool and outside kitchen. we went to the falls the nexy day - it really needs an entire day to explore just the argentinian side, as you can also view it from brasil for the day. the park itself is beautiful, its quite a tropical climate so lots of jungely type flora and fauna, with lots of colourful butterflies, possums and huge lizards running around! there are big jungle cats and lots of other animals, but you have to be very lucky to see them.

the falls itself, is huge. 29 waterfalls make up iguazu and 36 olympic swimming pools a second gets chucked down.  there are 2 main parts, the devils mouth and the rest really. the devils mouth is quite scary as viewing it from below and above, you cant see the otherside as theres so much water and spray around, it looks like its constantly in a huge cloud of fog. me and laura got on the 12 minute boat ride for a stupid price, but was well worth it as 12 mins is all you need! you zoom around the falls in this tiny little boat, you dont even get under it as its too dangerous, but you get soo wet, its like having bucket after bucket of water thrown over you. i went in my bikini which sounds silly, but was a wise choice as if you´re not prepared, youll be soaked down to your pants!

it was an incredible experience though, a must do if any one ever goes there! after drying off a bit, we met rach who went on a seperate trip, and walked the lower and then the upper trails to see the falls from all sides, before getting the train to the devils mouth. 

a picture may say a thousand words, but word cannot say how amazing this place is. the photos just wont do it justice, you just have to go there. a famous saying from an american presidant who visited is, ¨poor niagra¨. and i agree.

we spent the whole day there, and waited until dusk as you see the falls in a whole new light and its far less busy. the next day we spent by the pool as it was sooo hot and we needed another day before another long night bus.

so that was a couple of days ago and now we´re in rosario, birthplace of che , not thatd youd know it, theres not much to do with him here. but its a pretty city and not many tourists which is a nice break. we went down to the port today and got bombarded by a whole class of kids from santa fe, on a day trip and had our pictures taken with them and they tried to speak english with us which was cute.

the argentinian spanish is super hard to understand, which is a shame as i feel like my spanish is getting better. they had different spanish words and a really different pronounciation which makes everything very alien!

so tomorrow we´re off to Mendoza, the wine regions where you can go wine tasting on a bike. also hoping to meet sarah and macca again, if you´re reading thism STAY THERE!!

and harry potter is out in argentina tomorrow, SUPER EXCITED!!!

anyways, dont be a stranger, keep in touch and miss you all.

thinking of you always han, best of luck and ciao to everyone else!! xxxxx

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Cabellos y camas de plasticos...

So, sleeping on a plastic coated mattress is a bit like sleeping on a slip ´n´ slide, until the sheet falls off then its like sleeping on a leather sofa with bare skin. Basically, we spent two nights in Tupiza, south Bolivia, in a nice and not expensive hotel with a pool and buffett breakfast. But got kicked out as the guy at the desk didnt like us and said they were full this weekend because of the big parties going on in town. Ugh.

Anyways, so a bit of a catch up. We did the salt tour from uyuni to san pedro de atacama in chile. I met some lovely english people (which seems rare here!) and am still with them now. The salt tour was cool, the salt flats were weird and hard and sharp on the belly but good for taking funny pics, see here:

 Unfortunately, we also bumped into the lads on tour from la paz - see previous posts. they spent the whole 3 days drinking and being hungover...but they seem like nice kids. and they had funny pics of the jumping around the salt plains naked. yes, actually naked.
the older boys in the other jeep travelling with us took a lot of san pedro the one night i had to share a room with them. needless to say, no one got any sleep, as the big irish guy completely flipped out and tried to fight everyone and was in tears for hours. we had to get up at 4.30am to go see the geysers which no one was happy about fter being so tired, and that night was the coldest night of my life!! so that was entertaining. (san pedro is a hallucinagenic drug from a cactus, used by shamans to find their enlightenment)

the car was so cold that morning, we drove through the desert with ice all over the windscreen. but the hot sprigs before breakfast ws amazing, the bath ive been waiting for!! although getting out had to be a super quick affair! and then we headed off to chile, with lots of kings of leon and great driving tunes for the way!

sand pedro de atacama was super expensive, 12.50 quid a night instead of our usual 3. eek! but its a nice little town and its really hot as its lower down in the desert. so we stayed a few days, chilled by the pool and went to a halloween party in the desert! it was good as we chatted to some local girls who told us to go to the same party as them, as there was another one but theres would be better. which ended up being right! we had to wait for cars to drive past and 15 of us bundled into the trailer of a truck to get to the party, but is was free and only 5km away. the party was awesome! a shed in the middle of the desert, with party lights, a bar and a bonfire with lots of music and locals. it was good as there wasnt many gringos there, theyd all gone to the other party. we spent the night drinking and dancing with the locals, who went manic when they popular spanish songs came on, and they taught us to dance! it was super friendly but like 1 degrees!! but the night sky was many much fun!

then when it ended, we started to walk back as there were no taxis, but a nice chilean couple picked us up and dropped us in town - which would never happen in london! so we arrived  at the hostal just before the sun rose.

the next day was a right off as we were all so tired! the next day we left for salta, argentina, with the intention of coming back up to Tupiza in Bolivia for a week of more cheapness and stock up on toiletries etc. you wouldnt believe how much cheaper Bolivia is! we did this plan, so were travelling for well over 24 hours, and encountered a 3 hour wait at the argentinian border as they wanted to charge the english people to leave the country, crazy and illegal. then the whole system went down. only in south america.

but all was well and we were on our 1 quid bus to Tupiza. this is where you pay for quality, quite clearly. they said it would 2 hours, which surprised us as its supposed to be longer, but they were true to their word. i just thought we would lose our lives in the mean time. my bum was in the air more than on the seat. it was like a rollercoaster, except you werent sure if you would roll over a cliff or not. it seemed likely when we saw a bus that had done just that.

but we survived! and we´re back in bolivia and stocking up at the markets and eating cheap, delicious food! yesterday we went on a 3 hour horseride through the wild west, cactus´s red mountains through the hot desert! and ive bought a beautiful traditional bolivian hat for the sun, and most likely for weddings in the future! its quite grand!

my horse was beautiful and really placid, so it was a really nice experience. i got a bit dressed up for the trip as well, with my nails done, jewellery, co-ordinating clothes and my beautiful new hat. it was the first time this year that i actually felt really good about myself, after all the ups and downs. i felt like a proper, beautiful lady! and im so glad im here and not in the uk (sorry but i think its better here!), with the cold wet weather, no jobs and the mundaness of everyday life. everyday is exciting here, even if you´re not doing anything particular, you meet new people, eat new food, see new things and when things get dull, you just move on. itd like to be able to do this when i get home...i get bored too quickly and i dont feel like being tied down anymore!!

so for the rest of the weekend, its a big fiesta, celebrating the bicentuary of a big battle between bolivia, peru and argentina and the outcome was these countries independence, so its massive here. the joys of travelling, falling into lots of fun things! and ive been learning more correct spanish, as sarah who im with at the mo, is a spanish teacher. so i might actually get good!!

so im off to eat many delicious foods of the stalls in the square, in the hot sun and then going to party!

i hope you all had a good halloween (guys the pics look awesome, u know who u are!!) and a 


sorry im not there, but im sure ur having a wicked time and i miss you guys tons!!!

off to salta, argentina on monday, maybe hungover! keep me updated on the uk yes?

thanks for listening.

love to all xxxxxx

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Death, Wrestling and the Jungle.

So, quite a lot has happened since i last wrote. one thing you should know is that the internet in bolivia is not very good, to say the least. that and i was in the jungle for like a week, but enough of that later.

So i cycled the worlds most dangerous road the other week, aka the death road. it actually wasnt that bad, as the road is quite wide a lot of the time, but when you get onto the old road, its just dust and rocks, which is the scariest part. the beginning is on the new road, all tarmac and stuff, but its with the traffic so thats really scary. and it was so so so cold at the beginning that my guide had to put his gloves on over mine, as i couldnt feel the brakes. the rest of my group were so super fast, i was a total beginner. i have cycled, but never done proper mountain biking type stuff, so i was pretty slow, taking it at my own pace!

the death road is basically 64km all downhill, so your hand ache from holding the brakes for like 4 hours non stop. but you dont have a choice, otherwise you´ll go over the edge. the last person to go over was an israeli girl who was wearing safety goggles that got steamed up, so she couldnt see...otherwise its not actually that common that people die, as the traffic uses the new road, so its mainly cyclists. although if you skid then the road can cut you up pretty badly, or you can always brake a limb, that kinda stuff.

there was one point that i skidded and nearly fell, but i was ok. that shook me up enough! the cycle itself is pretty spectacular, as you get to the old road and further down, its a more tropical climate, so it rained a bit. theres luscious green trees and jungle all over the hills, all covered in mist. its a shame that you  have to concentrate so hard on the road, as its really beautiful definately worthwhile. i was lucky as 2 days after i did it, the roads at corico have been blocked off by protesters, and its still going, so people cant do the death road until its over.

and that night, i went back to loki to party! i actually couldnt drink much, as the drinks are so strong and the altitude makes it hard to drink. but we ended up dancing on the bar, on the tables, pretty much everywhere! and people were crowdsurfing onto the pool tabe, much to the annoyance of those actually playing pool.

the next day me isla and ellie had out stuff to do day, as we were planning on getting the bus to rurrenabaque the next day and we had the cholitas wrestling to watch! the wrestling is basically a local WWF style wrestling with lots of crazy costumes. but the main allure is that they have women dressed in traditional bolivian dress (which is normal for a lot of women still) wrestling each other and the other male characters. was pretty entertaining and the locals loved it!

the next day, we set off to get the bus to rurrenabaque, in the amazon jungle. but we got there and were told of the blockades at corico, which is on the way, so no buses can get through. which is super annoying as the bus is really cheap at like 8 pounds but it is like 18-24 hours. so i decided to fly later that day instead, as theres no limit on the protests, theyƩ still going on now, so it could be forever! the girls decided to go onto copacabana instead, which was a shame.

the flight was a tiny plane, which was a little scary during turbulence and only 15 passengers. but it was only 35 minutes, and you went from cold la paz, to average 32 degress rurre! incredible! i stayed at el curchial hostal, which was basic but nice and at less than 3 pounds a night, you cant complain! and theey have a hammock area, perfect! i decided to go with mashaquipe for my jungle tour, as i emailed them from home and i like their ethics. they have a different view on the tours, wo you are ever only in a group of 4 people per guide, and you visit families that live in the madidi national park and get the chance to stay with one.

it was perfect for me, as your money helps the communities you visit, and they are interested in telling you about their way of life, which is much more interesting than a mass group tour hunting for animals. the eco lodge was 3 hours away by a little long boat, which seemed unsteady and unsafe at first, but you get used to it quickly! we stopped off on the way to visit a community, and we helped out others by taking them by the boat to where they wanted dropping off. this meant that on the boat we spent a few hours with the few children on board. nicole gave them little notepads and pens and then they started drawing all of us! mine was the best though, as i had the jungle behind me as well! they were so cute, and paid so much attention to detail!

we walked across a plain of shrubs and massive rocks - like jurrasic park or something! to get to a small river, where we had to stand on a little raft to be punted across. you definately need a sense of balance for this! the family we visited made natural sugar to sell at the market in rurre. they grew many things but the sugar cane was for export. we cut some down and if you suck it, it is a really sweet juice. they take this juice and boil it for hours before putting it into moulds to set. its incredible! we drank the juice from coconut shells and if you add lemon juice, its the best thing i have ever drank! so sweet and delicious!

after lunch at the lodge - which was amazing as Alsira is an amazing cook! we went for our first jungle walk. we took the boat an hour upstream and walked through the primary jungle which is really tangled up and crazy. you need a machete to get through it! the secondary jungle, ie the main part, is a little bit more open. the trees are massive and have huge wandering roots. i kept imagining all the giant spiders that live there, but found out later that tarantulas are rare. having said that, we saw some pretty massive spiders and their crazy webs! but you do kinda get used to it.weirdly.

we learnt about different plants and what medical use they have or for flavour, as ovidio, our guide, was brought up in the national park, before it became one, and was taught everything by his father. theres one tree that smells really strongly of garlic! it was really interesting, but super hot as well. our transport back to the lodge was a piece of bolsa log. it super light and fun to float with! i was with ishmael another guide of ours, and we just swam and floated with the log all the way back. it was amazing! i never thought id be swimming in the jungle! and the sun was setting as well, it was so beautiful.

the next day we got up at 4.30am to start out 5am jungle walk. it was still dark and the fear of walking into a giant web was quite real. but it was better to go so early as it was cooler and we got to hear, and see the howler monkies. its like a terrible roar - like something out of harry potter - and in the dark, quite ominous and terrifying. but as it got light, we could see them at the top of the trees, like a bright orange colour. they only move around at night, in the day they are super lazy.  ovidio also showed us how to make a natural paint. ot was just normal looking green leaves, but with water, they make a red paint! incredible. and we saw leaves bigger than people, all over the place! super crazy!

we were supposed to walk 3 hours that afternoon with all our equipment to the jungle camp, so we could sleep in the actual jungle, instead of at the lodge by the river. but it was 40 degrees and ovidio had hurt hid leg in a motorbike accident, so we tooke the boat and walked a little of the way. when we got there, we walked to the macaws clay lick, a massive clay cliff face where the macaw parrotts live. they always travel in pairs and they are such a bright and beautiful bird.

we had another early start to walk to the top of the clay lick to view the jungle from the top. it was impressive, the trees roots acted as natural steps all the way up. and the view was great, you could see the river and so much jungle, you can never comprehend how big it is! it was quite misty as it was around 6am, but we could get another view of the macaws from above. although there was a gravestone for a young israeli guy who fell over the edge a few years ago, which was quite eerie.

we also managed to see some wild pigs, you have to approach them from behind and be super quiet as they are really fast, but you can smell them before you see them. really stinky. to get back to the lodge, we made a raft, which we all sat on and ishamel punted us down the river all the way back. but there was a storm, you could hear the thunder all day and then it rained like a monsoon. so we were all sitting on the this raft in our swimwear, all a little bit cold and still being bitten by bugs. a tourist boat went past and we just cracked up our unique situation, as looked such a sorry sight!

that afternoon, we learnt traditional handicrafts - as all the people that work for our tour company are indigenous people of the madidi park. i made a ring out of a seed and its super shiney and cool! it was really interesting to learn, and we saw how they made the roofs for the camp and their housees out of palm leaves. later on, we went to the family who we were going to stay the night with. it was incredible, they have absolutely no material possessions, its considered lucky if you have more than one pair of trousers and their clothes were so dirty and torn. but they have so much in the way of nature. their farm is beautiful. they export maize, but grow watermelons, papayas, pumpkins, yuca roots, bananas, pineapples (which look hilarious on the bush) and they have chickens and a turtle. the turtle is good for eating in 30 years when its bigger apparently.

the children are so beautiful! so funny and curious about us. the family cut down a yuca tree, as it is the root that you eat, like a potato with a chestnutty taste. and they killed a chicken for the soup. they picked up 2 and decided which one to kill. the other had a very lucky escape! we helped Alsira prepare for dinner, which was the nice part about our tour, we got along with our guide and cook really well, so it was not like a hierarchy like in a lot of other tours. although i think our group was unique in helping to prepare the meals everyday. it was fun though, and you learn alot! after dinner with the family, ovidio told us a true story about a friend of his who went missing in the jungle and has never been found. scary.

we slept under the family, as they have like a raised barn, where the top was the family and underneath was all open and where we hung out mosquito nets to sleep. it was so hot though! but the jungle was well lit by the moon, as there is no electricity, no running water, no bathroom etc. we called it a natural bathroom as you go wherever you like. they use the river for their water and for washing. just a super simple way of life. incredible to us who are so used to our gadgets, or even basic things like toilet paper. they have nothing here, but they seem happy with their lot.

in the morning Alsira taught us how to make cheese empanadeas, absolutely delicious cheese filled, fried pasties. i shall make them when i get home! and then it was pretty much back to rurre, where i had to book a flight back as i had run out of money and theres no atms there. so i had an early morning flight, which i woke up late for and had to run for the bus! and back to la paz. la paz is cold. and i had seen it all already, so me and the rest of my group from the jungle met at the same hostel near the bust station so we could all make our next move.

for some reason, my move was oruro. i was the only foreigner there, and it took me forever to navigate the place as theres no road signs and i had no map. i also found out that you cant get the train to sucre, which was my main reason for going there. it was an experience, i realised that i can just about get by in an all spanish situation, but it was difficult trying to arrange my room as i think they were confused by my passport as they didnt know where i was from and i could make them understand that british citizen is the same as english. but i think i was the only english person theyd ever had there! so i spent the night and the afternoon there, after a giant ice cream sundae for breakdfast and walking 2 hours to find the place.

so yesterday i jumped on a bus to potosi, the highest city in the world. and i dont actually feel it, i think after cusco and la paz, my body is used to stupidly high altitudes. which is cool in a weird way. i think we´re just over 4000 metres above sea level. so i walked around the city today, which has beautiful architecture and bright colours. but i dont think i´ll visit the mines. apparently the miners dont really like it and its an experience im not sure ill really like, especially if we´re not welcome. so i shall probably hang around tomorrow and then head to sucre, as my visa for bolivia is running out, so i need to start heading south, pretty quick!

anyways, theres the update you were all looking for! if i can get the internet to keep working, i´ll try to upload some pics!

much love everyone! xxxxx

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Leaving Cusco for Copacabana, lads on tour and La Paz.

It was sad leaving cusco, as i met some amazing people there and despite being ill, i loved the city and had a great time. But at least i wasnt travelling the buses alone, as me and Pocket (who worked at the hostel) were getting the same buses, which was useful as without her, i would have struggled to understand that we need to pay taxes at the bus station, and to find out that my seat had been double booked, a common problem apparently. and we had a 3 hour wait at 5am at the freezing puno bus station, after being told when booking that it was only an hour. and the bus we took had the biggest cracks in the windscreen. supersafe.

the border crossing was an interesting and unneccesarily long process. we had to get off and queue at the police station to have our passports checked and then queue at immigration to get stamped out of peru. there were like 3 coaches full so it took like an hour, and it was sooo boring, especially as we had been travelling all  night. then we realised that pocket had overstayed her visa by 2 days so we had to find some dollars for the fee. then you have to walk over the border and get stamped into bolivia. they all seemed amused that i had a british passport. im not sure why. its annoying as the visa is only 30 days, i wanted to spend a while here as it is sooo incredibly cheap!!

then it was just a 10 min ride to copacabana where i got off and left pocket, as she is making her way to work in brazil. copacabana itself is pretty small and not much is going on really. its on lake titicaca, the largest navigable lake in the world. and you only go there to visit isla del sol (sun island) which is sacred for the inca time.

i got the boat over to the island the next morning (after sleeping 12 hours and paying like 1 pound for my room), and realised i was sitting next to cathi who i did the inca trail with. the gringo trail is very small!! i was feeling pretty bad that day, as i was so weak from not being able to eat from being ill. and the altitude doesnt help, we keep getting higher and higher! even though the inca trail was tough, i found the walk over the sun island harder as i was iller. i coughed so much i was nearly sick all over the sacred island. a walk that should have taken 3 hours, took me 5. just as well as i was planning to stay the night as i would have missed the last boat anyway. but i found a nice room and rested a lot. the island is really beautiful. deep blue seas with the snow topped mountains in the background. incredible. and at night, you can see sooo many stars as theres no light pollution, so rare in the uk!

the next day i left around midday to get the boat, not realising that theres only 2 from the south part and the next was in a few hours, so i just sunbathed on the island, as it was soo hot. in the afternoon, a large group of mainly english guys arrived on the island, beer in hand and one of them actually wearing an england shirt covered in tats. they literally got off the boat, bought more beers, played card drinking games and got back on the boat to copacabana the same time as me. i think they missed the point of visiting the island.

so imagine my delight when they got on the same bust as me in the evening for la paz, with a litre of vodka on a bus with no toilet. they also had they´re own music system. you can imagine what the next 4 hours was like. i could hear them over my ipod. funnily enough though, when the made the bus stop so they could all wee (and everyone else tried to make the bus driver leave them behind) one of the girls lost her shoe down a manhole. which was pretty funny and the rest of the bus loved that! really, if you´re going to do a drinking tour, just do it in spain. i dont wana hang around with english idiots.

and of course they were horribly drunk when we arrived in la paz around 9.30pm , which i thought was stupid as it leaves them more vulnerable, and bolivia has a high robbery rate. and they are in the same hostel. luckily, not the same room, that was my worry!

so anyways, now im in la paz, and i dont think theres much to do here but party! everyone loves to party here and im hoping that very soon ill be well enough to join in! i walked around the city yesterday with a couple of guys and the walk is a killer. so many steep roads and of course the altitude here is even worse than ever, but it doesnt feel too bad, maybe im finally getting used to it.

or of course theres the infamous san pedro prison. my best friend fran went and told me how scary it was! you have to bribe your way in, and its not that cheap, and you get shown around all the cells with the prisoners. but your bodyguards are murderers, so im not sure theres much comfort in that. and families live in there as they cant support themselves if the husband is inside. i also here that there are parts where people fights so theres blood on the walls and teeth on the floor. its also a place to buy drugs, should you want to. although it seems ridiculous to buy drugs inside a prison, as your already inside! and you have to bribe your way out. i think if you go in a big group its safe, but ive heard stories of people being robbed and raped inside, as its all so corrupt and poor. so maybe not for me!

anyways, im obviously still alive, for those that heard about the plane crash at the nasca lines, i have already done it, so no worries there. although im not surprised that it crashed, they´re a bit dodge.

muchos love xxx

Friday, 1 October 2010

The birthday Inca Trail and other adventures....

Wow! The inca trail was absolutely incredible! Despite still feeling a bit ill an not being very fit, I managed the 28 miles in 4 days over mountains and through the Amazon pretty well. Theres nothing like a hardcore trek to make you sweat it out and get you fit!

The first day we started early, aroun 6.30am pick up and then we went to pick up the rest of my inca trail group. We had crystal and andrew from the states, bianca and milko from germany, cathi and maureen from oz and christine an mikey from the uk. a mixe group. some of them ere on a large tour group together, spending 79 days in each others company. makes me glad im going it alone!

the first day was pretty tough as we were just getting used to it, and it was pretty hot as well, much hotter than in cusco. i wasnt prepared for that in my jeans! it was beautiful though, we walked along the river at first, before heading up into the mountains.

the porters are amazing, incredibly superhuman. they carry around 20-22 kilos each of our bags, camping and cooking equipment etc and they start walking after we have left, they overtake us on the mountains and set up camp and start cooking for when we arrive. all in sandals as well, as they cannot afford proper walking shoes. it was kin of tragic and elitist, which we didnt really like, especially as it seemed a bit excessive to have tables, chairs, table cloths etc when it comes at someone elses expense. but they were lovely and would go out of their way to help you if you needed it. absolutely amazing people.

when we got to camp, i opened my bday card from fran, who insisted i take it with me! and i did, and thats when everyone found out it was my birthday. an to the credit of the chefs, they managed to make me a bday cake, without warning, or without and oven! insane! but it was delicious. a very good and different birthday.

the second day as definately the toughest, especially as due to maureens snoring, i hardly slept at all. it as 5 hours uphill and 4 hours onhill, in the burning heat. i can tell u now that my arms are quite tanned! yay! the walk as a bit of a killer, but me and christine kept the same pace. it was beautiful though, with the jungle for shade and fresh streams for washing you face and keeping cool. I have also never seen so many beautiful and massive butterflies! they are huge!!

i was so glad to get to camp, my feet were killing as the blisters set in. we also learnt a ne dice game that night, wih smithy our guide, which was pretty fun, although i didnt really get it as i started feeling ill again, but slept well that night. when we oke up, we were high up in the mountains and you could see the clouds below us. crazy!

that days walk was my favourite, as we got to see many more inca ruins along the way and started alking through the amazon in the mountains. it was so beautiful, seeing the mountains all covered in jungle , so many different plants, flowers, trees and wildlife. the path was a bit scary at times, as its very uneven and you have to tread carefully, as its so close to the edge of the mountain, you could easily slip and fall. that and being scared of heights, it was even more of a challenge.

it was so worth it though. the final campsite was extremely precarious as it was also right on the ege of a large drop, so getting out of the tent had to be done super carefully! there was an actual bar at this campsite too, which as a treat after our 3 days of treking. we had to get up at 3am as well on the final day, to make sure we were first at the checkpoint to get to the sungate on time for sunrise. we had to wait there an hour and a half in the dark and cold before it opened. as soon as it did, we were practically ran the 5km to the sungate, which was a way to wake up! hen we got there, it as quite foggy for a while, so u couldnt see much. when it cleared, it was incredible. we had finally made it!

its such a great view and made it all worthwhile, much more satisfactory than getting the bus there. the city is amazing and mostly intact. im so glad that the spanish never found it as the tried to destroy the incas. it was only found 99 years ago as well, and was buried deep in the jungle. now it is overrun ith cute llamas and tourists. we took tons of pics and smithy gave us a 2 hour tour of the site, and after that, i took a nap on one of the terraces, as i was exhausted! 

in the evening we took the train back from aguas calientes to ollayentambo and then got driven back to cusco, where i am now, still recovering from the trek an still trying to shift the last of my cold!

the plan for now is, tonite, party! we are having a themed party, the gringos
(foreigners) have to dress like the local girls. they dress very provocatively and target foreigners for free drinks and money and whatever else they can get. should be  laugh and i think its gonna get messy! hen im hoping to get a bus over to copacabana in bolivia and start exploring all over again!

i cant seem to ad pics on here at the mo, so check them out on fb:

muchos love and thanks for all the bday messages! xxx

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Cusco catchup and car crashes...

well, i have actually been quite ill this week. i have spent two days in bed with a fever and then had some kind of chest infection, i think. is hard to tell what you have when you dont really understand. but thats my guess anyways.
so im slowly recovering, which is just as well as im off to do the inca trail tomorrow, 28 miles in 4 days. that should make me feel better!

we had protests here in cusco this week, as the government wants to build a dam, which would almost cut off the water supply to the poorest people here. the protesters were calm on the first day but everything was shut and they blocked off the roads out of the city with sticks and bricks so that no one could leave. the second day was more violent, with protesters throwing rocks at tourists in anger at the governement not doing anything. luckily i wasnt due to leave, but many people who had plans or treks etc had to put everything on hold, as no one knew how the protests would go.

after the protests, i went on a tour of the sacred valley the other day, an attempt to get out and see some stuff. it was interesting, but i was stuck with americans the whole day! now, i know all americans arent the same, and i happen to know some very nice ones, but middle aged americans seem to expect everything to be like america, wherever they do. and they think they´re funny. reall funny. and they all laugh at each other. ugh.

despite this, i had a good day, seeing inca ruins is always impressive. its a wonder how they did what they did and why.

although on the way back, we saw the most terrible car crash. the car in front just span out of control and over the wall an rolled down the hill until it hit a tree. our bus stopped and we all got out to help. the driver wasnt hurt, but there were three children in the back and were pulled out all covered in blood, screaming and crying. it was an awful sight. they were lucky to have hit that tree, otherwise they would have kept going. it was so sad, we were miles from any big city to get help. i was so shocked that i nearly burst into tears there and then, not knowing what we could do to help.

ive met some cool people here in cusco, mark very kindly looked after me when i was ill, but i have since heard that he is in hospital after a biking accident on his trek. by the sounds of it, he is always going to hospitals around the world. and the daves, one english but living in argentina and one ozzie were really cool as well. so despite the illness an general lack of energy this week, everything is going ok.

i shall  be back from my trek wednesday next week and i shall try and head down to lake titicaca, copacabana an then la paz, bolivia. although its going to be even colder. eek!

muchos love xxx

Monday, 20 September 2010

Nasca y Crazy Cusco!

Hola mi amigos!

I am currently in Cusco, which is super high up  in the mountains. Its pretty beautiful up here, but im still adjusting to the altitude. I have drank buckets of cocoa leaf tea, which really does help!

Anyways  have met some awesome people here, and despite the altitude, wnt clubbing on my first night with jane and catherine who work at the hostal here and their friends and a few other travellers. was pretty good fun!

we went to a bar for cocktails and shots, to celebrate Mo´s birthday and we tried to leave without paying!! didnt work though as there were so any of us! and then we went to Inkateam, a local club which was pretty small but jam packed. Then the night got a little crazy with the guys all becoming topless, chests were being licked etc etc.

The dancing here is pretty incredible. It looks all bump and grind, but without the Oceana sleaziness. They dance with passion, whether it is with a lover or a friend. I learnt all the moves from my new friend William, a local in Cusco. He owns a hostel here and despite not speaking English, we got along very well. And he was hot :)

So yesterday, being horribly hungover,  went and sat in the main plaza, where I met Shay, an Israli traveller so we went out for lunch and walked around the city. Sundays are pretty special in Cusco, they have lots of tradtional dress and celebrations to bruing the city together. We saw some incredble dances, in the most beautful and brightly coloured handmade clothes. Some of the dances included whippng each other, including children, which was strange to watch. It didnt appear to hurt though.
A few days ago I was in Nasca to see the Lines, which was interesting, but the planes were very small and made me feel very sick! i made it though. my favourite was the astronaught! its pretty mad to think that these were made all those years ago and people still dont know why. I also met a local who used to live near Surbiton station when he was studying at Kingston-small world. and my old pruvian travl agent kept kissing me on the lips. people are quite lip friendly, i dont know if its a custom, or just me!

Anyways, im off to see some inca ruins today and to organise my inca trail which starts on my birthday! a presant to myself!

i hope everyone is well.
muchos love xxx

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sometimes I do the stupidest things...

I think that when im in England, im a pretty sensible sort of gal. So the fact that i ended up walking through the middle of the motorway in flip flops, trying to reach the Miraflores beach, which happened to be miles away, was a bit silly.

But dont worry, its actually not as dangerous as it sounds. And i did make it, blisters and all.

I feel that ive become a bit of a tourist attraction since being here. I have literally had hundreds of car tooting me, men blowing kisses at me and saying hi or whatever. Could be worse i guess, at least they´re all friendly.

Anyways, so i have booked my next trip. I leave Lima tomorrow morning on the 4am bus to Nazca, to take a flight over the muy famoso Nazca Lines. This is followed by a 12hr bus journey to Cusco, where i shall spend the week before i set off on the Inca Trail on my birthday. woop woop!

And i have met lots of cool and interesting people already - so many langauges and so many purposes. 

I also met an ozzie guy, but unfortunately, he is not the one. I feel i will have better luck in oz. But he´s moving to london in december, so maybe you´ll see him around!

Anyways, thats the low'down for now.

Adios amigos xoxo

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Whoever said there was a language barrier?

So, first things first. After travelling for around 17 hours and watching 3.25 films (clash of the titans was boring), I made it to Lima!

My first language faux pas was on my first night, when i accidentally brushed my teeth with foot cream. It looked like colgate.

The second? Agua con gas. L'odio gas! oh well.

Anyways, I befriended my finnish room mates over breakfast and we headed to the historical centre of Lima. I spent the bus journey sitting next to an old Peruvian man, dressed in a turquoise Adidas shell suit, singing in my ear.

After walking around the very colourful city, we visited the San Fransico Church and the Peruvian Catacombs. Theres nothing like looking at 25 000 dead people to make you hungry for lunch! It was very interesting though, not scary like the Parisian Catacombs.

After lunch, which im not sure what it was, but it was pretty good! we went back to the main square, where we saw many many riot police, police with guns and police on horses. We got pretty excited that something big was going down!

But after a while we got bored and went to find the bus to San Cristablo. We were bearly co erced onto a slightley dodgey seeming tour, but thought better of it. perhaps today we will make it there!

After walking through the protests in central Lima- something political but we´re not sure what, we found that all being blonde, tall and uncanningly wearing almost identical dress, we were more of a tourist attraction than the beautifully colourful architecture. We had many photos taken with Peruvian tourists and children! It was quite novel.

Anyways, im going to try and book my trip to Nazca today and maybe go back into the city centre to make it on the San Cristablo tour!

Adios Amigos!!

Muchas love xxxx 

Sunday, 22 August 2010

So the blog is set up. The backpack is waiting. The malaria tablets are in the post. The credit card is on its way. The jabs have been done. The tickets have been bought. My goodbyes are a work in progress.

It's now only 22 days until I leave for my solo, ten month round the world adventure.

And you can hear about all the fun I'm having without you, on this blog ;)

I'll see you next summer.