Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mmmmmm, pork scratchings

Plenty of scratchings on sale in the market, but no bitter to go with them.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Arequipa

The old town is really beautiful. Lots of courtyards behind large studded wooden doors. The cathedral is impressive. The tower on the left (as we look at it) feel into the cathedral during an earthquake in 2001. Fully restored now.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

My favourite breakfast spread

Breakfast of champions.

Overnight stay with locals on island

I stayed overnight with a local family. This also involved going to a local dance with me suitably attired.

Floating islands of Lake Titicaca

I visited the floating islands on Lake Titicaca near Puno, Peru. The islands are made by cutting sections of the reed roots (which are buoyant) and tying them together. Cut reeds are then placed on top of this base, and the whole thing is anchored to the bottom of the lake (only 3 or 4 metres deep in the part of the lake). They even had floating pig styes.
Each island is small, home to between 5 and 10 families. The families fish, hunt for birds and welcome tourism.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Delayed departure

My departure to Peru has been delayed. The 1.30pm bus isn't leaving Copacabana as there is a blockade on the road further north and the protestors are throwing rocks. Apparently the 6.30pm bus will get through; presumably the protestors will have gone home for their tea. Still, it wouldn't have a real trip to Bolivia without a delayed bus journey.

To deepest, darkest Peru

Farewell Bolivia, off to Peru this afternoon. Only 5 weeks left in South America.
I wonder whether the old ladies in Peru will remind me of Yoda?
Remind me of Yoda they will.

Islands of the Sun and Moon

I took a boat trip to visit the islands of the Sun and Moon on Lake Titicaca. Whilst these islands are important in Inca mythology unfortunately they don't hold too much interest for this modern day traveller. I honestly think I could have swum quicker than the boat we were on (not the boat pictured).

HBO gold

I've got a tv in my hotel room and last night HBO showed the first 4 episodes of the second series of Game of Thrones. Happy days.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lake Titicaca

Now at Copacabana (not the one of Barry Manilow fame), on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

Cholitas wrestling

I'm missing out on the cholitas wrestling in La Paz. This is wrestling between traditionally dressed ladies. My suggestion that they should rename it WWI fell on deaf ears.
I'll get my coat.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Death Road - survived

Well I survived riding down Death Road, all 64km and a descent of 3,500m. The start is at 4,700m on tarmac. Really quite chilly as we started the descent through a landscape which looked like Scotland.
We then turned onto the rough dirt road (they built an alternative road 4 years ago). We were now in a temperate rainforest and were riding through cloud which spoilt the view a little. I got covered in mud, from head to toe. That said I bossed the road. Nothing compared to going round the Elephant and Castle. Nearly lost the back wheel at one point but stayed up.
It was a fantastic ride, one of the best things I've done on the trip.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fight for your rights

A big protest by the transport union (I think) means that central La Paz is traffic free (they blockaded the roads). Protests here are very inclusive, all the school kids seem to join in.

Ruins of Tiwanaku

They had introduced some new traffic rules in La Paz which caused pandemonium. The journey took 4 hrs instead of 1.5 hr. This was probably a contributory factor but I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the ruins; they were only partially excavated. Luckily it didn't take 4hrs to return to La Paz.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ultimate traveller

I spotted the ultimate traveller in La Paz:
Dreads - check
Tie dyed t-shirt - check
Tattoos - check
Bob Marley jumper - check
Purple trousers - check

An inspiration.

To La Paz

I caught the overnight bus to La Paz; at around 4,000m the highest capital city in the world. I didn't sleep to well on the bus for fear of having my hand luggage stolen and it was a bit nippy as well. Still have arrived with all my belongings, and I can catch up on the sleep.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Crater of Maragua and dinosaur footprints

It was crater shaped but not actually a crater. Very pretty scenery, some areas looked like Tuscany, others like the Karakoram.
The dinosaur footprints on the second day were impressive. Second day was tough as the volunteer guide got sick and so we had to carry her bag as well as our own. Not fun at altitude.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Which is best?

I like the Bolivian drug dealer look, and I also like the ethnic traveller look; but which is best? There is only one way to decide, FIGHT!

Sucre

A short bus journey (3hrs - that's short for Bolivia) from Potosi is the city of Sucre. Sucre is the old capital, it feels a lot wealthier than Potosi.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

More protesting and parades

There was a much larger protest in the main square today. But there were also parades by marching bands and little kids dressed up as rabbits and clowns. Not sure whether the fact that clowns were little kids made them more disturbing than usual.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Protest in Potosi

Bit of protest against the President in the main square of Potosi today. No sign of Fabienne though.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Potosi

Potosi was once the largest and richest city in south America due to the silver mine.

I went on a guided tour of the working mine. I should learn my lesson and not go in caves/mines they are bloody terrifying. Conditions were pretty shocking. If I had a job I wouldn't moan about it, not after having seen the miners at work.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Salt Flats - day 4

The Salt flats! A pretty weird landscape.

Salt Flats - day 3

We start off with the Red lake which isn't that red first thing in the morning. However, there were lots of flamingos and steam coming off the water (from the hot springs) gave the lake a special feel. Next stop was the stone tree (a rock carved by the wind to look like guess what).
Last stop was the train graveyard just outside Uyuni. The trains were used to transport the minerals mined local. When they ran out the trains stopped running.

Salt Flats - day 2

Visited the Ghost village (4,700m) and then several lakes which were home to flamingos. We went for dip in a thermal pool.
The landscape is how you'd imagine the surface of Mars to be like.
We also visited some geysers and topped off our trip at 5,200m.

Salt flats - day 1

Saw the impressive Devil's Teeth rock formations and more llamas than you could shake a stick at.
We traveling at high altitude and sleep at around 4,00m the first night.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Salt flats

I'm off tomorrow on a 4 day trip to the Bolivian Salt flats. Going to be traveling with a couple from Swindon. They claim not to be originally from Swindon or support the football team so I think The Gills' feud with the Robins can be put to one side.

More Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid connections

Tupiza is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid country (again). They held up a company pay roll in 1908 and 2 days later a military police patrol when it is alleged that they were both killed. However, no identified graves cast doubt on this and they may have escaped back to the US.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

To Bolivia

A 7hr bus journey to the Bolivian border (a mere 3,500m high). Bolivia looks and feels a lot more South American; little ladies wearing hats and carrying bundles on their backs.
Once on the bus to Tupiza, llamas appear on cue in the fields by the side of the road.

30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands conflict

Marked in Argentina with a national holiday. There was a large pull out supplement in the local paper on it. In Salta there was a parade but I thought it best not to attend.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Trip to Cafayate

The european union of UK, Switzerland (ok, I know they're not in the EU) France and Germany hired a car and headed to Cafayate, a wine town in the desert.
Dramatic desert scenery on the way there and proper cacti.