Thursday, May 7, 2009

The conveyor belt of Isla del Sol

The island of the sun and the birth place of the Inca creation myth, where the eye´s of the puma can be seen in the sacred rock during summer solstice and where it is believed that the sun was born. It would appear that mysticism does not come for free.
  • Return trip to the island: 20Bs
  • Entry ticket for the museum (that I didn´t go in but still had to pay) and for the sacred rock: 5bs
  • Check point to make sure you had your ticket.
  • Tip for the non-english speaking guide who picked us up ambling around said sacred rock: 5bs
  • Entry to the middle part of the island, and to visit the village that we didn´t visit: 5bs
  • Checkpoint to make sure that you had your second ticket (and another 5bs for the poor girl we were with who had lost hers)
  • Ticket required to leave from the south side of the island: 5bs

I´m sure not all of that was in the small print when I signed up.

On the trail...

A few days ago I left La Paz heading for the clear blue allure of lake Titicaca. On the day I left I swung by one of the myriad of tour group operaters to pick up my free "I rode the world´s most dangerous road and survived!" t-shirt. I then went to the markets and bought a llama wool hoody (orange) and from another shop a few streets down some handwoven llama´s wool socks. I then got on a bus where everyone else there had probably needed an international flight to get there and sat for four hours taking pictures of the pretty scenery through the window.

I might go and get "gringo" tatooed to by forehead just in case there´s anyone left in any doubt.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I have just spent the last day and a half in bed either trying to sleep or eventually actually sleeping after a rather large visit to the imfamous club "Maison Ruta 36" in La Paz. This included an hour and a half power nap that extanded in to not leaving the bed for 13hrs.

If you have to ask you don´t need to know.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Right, now all that palava is out of my system back to the post that I was planning on writing a day or two ago...

As I may have mentioned to one or two of you camping out in my hammoch in the jungle is one of the things I have been angling for on this trip, and as I am not sure when I might actually get the chance to do that, when I found myself with a bit of time in the high deserts of the Andes I figured it would be a shame to waste the opportunity.

The day before I had scoped out the area that I would be staying in, nicely out of sight of the village, some scrubby type bushes that could be used to make a fire and a stunning view of a volcano to wake up to in the morning. With the evening half planned I set about planning what to do with the daytime before that. Speaking to some of the others that I had met, there was quite a good tour that went up to the mountains, let you float in the salt lagoons, jump in to fresh water pools and then was rounded off with a free pisco sour as you watched sunset. Those of you that I have been wild camping with before will appreciate that last sentance but at the time I merrily assumed that everything would be fine.

It gets dark quickly in this part of the world and for whatever reason the moon rises late. By the time I had packed a few bits and bobs night really was in full swing and I was struggling to see where I was going. I left the main part of the village and trekked through the outskirts, wandering how the hell I was going to find where I had been the day before as I had just walked out over the desert, no paths, when there was a load barking of about three dogs off to my left. Normally I´m fine with dogs but there was something unnerving about not being able to see where they were, if they were rushing in for the kill or behind a fence in someones house. With the word rabies niggling at the back of my mind I decided that descretion was the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat.

No problem, thinks I, there´s a road going the other way out of the village I´ll go that way instead. Unfortunately I hadn´t checked out that way before, and as I think it is part of a national park with no camping and a gringo with camping gear late at night is a bit suspicious at the best of times tried to head out avoiding the main, only, road. Not quite sure where I ended up but going on the tracks it was a fairly major thoroughfair for all the bikes you could hire. After a bit of star gazing, and to be fair I think that it was the most stars I have ever seen, decided that I was on to a bad thing and ambled back to the hostel.

Maybe I shouldn´t have been such a pussy about the dogs. Maybe I shouldn´t have assumed that people would have stopped me camping and used either the main road or my torch more. However one lesson that I should have already learnt: making camp after dark is always going to be a bitch.

Away from it all

This morning I decided to have a lazy breakfast at the gingo-ified cafe next door to the hostel where I am staying (I´m allowing myself a few home comforts after yesterdays escapades. Last night even treated myself to traditional Bolivian chicken Jalfrezi and mango lassi). As I sat supping my coca leaf tea and stroking my increasingly long but still somewhat patchy beard my attention was drawn to the TV in the corner, tuned to latin american "E!". I am now aware of Britney´s latest brushes with the law, how much Kate Moss is worth and the soaring popularity of some Britain´s got talent reject´s blooming internet popularity.

There are some things I really don´t miss about home.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Cunt (and I feel fully justified in my terminology) has just pickpocketted my camera.

Not a happy bunny.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The longer I am out here the more I am reminded that there is a constant weighing up between time, money, convenience and flexibility.

I am currently in Salta, in the north of Argentina, and after a few slowish days at the previous two towns that I stayed in, Cordaba and Jujuy, I decided that I´d book myself on a not inexpensive tour that went via all of the main areas that I wanted to see round here.

  • Time: See all sights in one day
  • Money: lots (well 60 quid, but that is a lot round here)
  • Convenience: picked up from hostel, didn´t need to arrange anything
  • Flexibility: Very little, the tour was already 15hrs long, and that was if we sticked to the plan.

In this particular case convenience and time won out for me, getting everything done in a day meant more time to spend elsewhere, however in an ideal world I keep thinking how nice it would be to have infinite time to do these things. There were probably the best part of a dozen times where I thought to myself, or someone else on the tour said out loud, wouldn´t it be great to stop some where for a photo, or I´d spot an ideal campsite for the night. Coming down towards Purmamarca, famous for it seven coloured mountain (see below), there was a beautiful view of the moutain as we came down the road through the valley, ideal to stop off for a few minutes in the serene dusk. 2 minutes after I thought this we turned in to the town itself to be faced with 4 other tour groups and an army of stalls intent on selling us various lama based products. Don´t get me wrong, it was a really good tour and I enjoyed doing it this way, I think I am just playing that old game of the grass always being greener on the other side.

The best way of doing this area if you can, I´m told, is to find three like minded people and hire a car for two or three days. Alas not having 3 people to hand, having left my drivers liscence at home and having an ongoing desire to head up to Bolivia this didn´t really work in my case - will just have to tack it on the bottom of the ever growing list of things I am going to have to do the next time I come back to South America...