Monday, April 27, 2009

36

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

Some

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

Not a happy bunny.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Touring

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...

Fakin´ it

Argentina has a bit of an issue with fake money and people I have spoken to have even been know to get faked 2 peso (40p) notes. Taxi drivers are reputedly meant to be the worst with such tricks as if you give them a 100 peso note, switching it for a fake and handing it back, saying the one you gave them was fake and demanding another, not that I had any problems with them. However this 50 that I was given in change in a club in Buenos Aries is a beauty by anyones standards:

Note, if you will, the smudge on the 50 in the bottom right hand corner where the "watermark" has been applied following printing. OK it was dark and yes I may have been a little bit drunk but in the cold light of day when you pick it up it is obvious that normal printer paper has been used, about 3 times the weight compared to normal money. I´m keeping it as a souvenier in my wallet to remind myself not to be quite so blindly accepting in the future.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Decisions, decisions...

OK, you were right (you know who you are), maybe I should have done a little planning or reading of the guide book before I left the UK. Maybe. Have just spent the last few hours scouring the guide book, looking at maps and trawling the net trying to work out the best way to go next. I was that close to making making my mind up on taking the 16hr bus to Santa Cruz in Bolivia, that close, when the guide book fell open on the page for Calama in Chili from where there is meant to be a spectacular railway up to Uruyi (unfortunately this is not where I need to be as I am going to be doing it later on the trip with Bee and as a tourist town is going to be expensive). Now I have delved a little deeper the bus from Salta (where I am now) only leaves Wednesday (according to a website that was last updated a month ago, Tuesday according to the German girl I spoke to yesterday) and Sunday and the train from Calama only goes on Wednesday. I had already plannned to do things Sunday and Monday which would mean being stranded in the rather rubbish town of Calama for a week. And even when I get to Bolivia where then? The national park I want to get to is another 34hrs by bus further than Santa Cruz and even then you (allegedly) need a guide to enter, ruling out my intrepidly exploring the jungle, just me and my machete that I haven´t yet bought, for a few days. It´s a tough life being me some times...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Club 69

Those of you that have been reading between the lines of these blog entries, or have glaced at the photos that I have posted on facebook you may have realised that I have, over the weeks become accustomed to one or two of the clubs dotted around this continent. Clubbing can be a little different to back in the UK. When a club is advertised as playing all types of music they do just that - 20mins of hip hop then why not switch to a little bit of electro. Or Brazilian folk music. Why not stop the house music for 10mins to allow 4 strippers to come on to the stage, only because of the various laws they can´t really take their kit off and some of the girls in the club are more scantily dressed (and better looking).

Last night was my last night in the sprawling metropolis that is Buenos Aires and myself and a few of the others from the hostel we were in went out to a place called club 69 for a final boogie and a drink. Welcomed in to the club by transvestites in full get up, why not? Girl on movable stage including pole in the middle of the dance floor, sure. In fact why not break up the evening of mostly electro every hour or so with, first, a troup of, really quite good breakdancers, and then some sort of transvestite-ish berlesque-ish show. I´ve been here long enough now for all this to seem kinda normal in a funny sort of way.


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