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Adios Sud América

March 24, 2010

I’ve been back in England about 5 weeks now. It’s been a really busy time, but now that things have settled down at uni, I’m going to tell you about the turbulant final week I had and why I didn’t want to blog about it right away. I believe I left you having reached Macchu Picchu on that rainy day in early september. Shortly after we were told by Ada that the Intrepid Central Office had arranged for Beth and Janet to stay the night in Aguas Calientes when what they really wanted was to get some clean clothes, comfy beds and hot chocolate with the rest of us in Cusco after their 4 days on the Inca Trail. Ada then went about pulling strings as we were getting the train out. We waited on the train wondering where she’d gotten to. Then, as departure time came, we saw her and the now exhausted Beth and Janet, running up the train towards us!

We had a whole day to recover back in Cusco and the next day we headed down south to Puno on the coast of Lake Titicaca. In true Peruvain style, we all got in a convoy of took-tooks!

With our local guide, Manuel, we boarded our boat and headed through the waterway through the reeds. Our first stop was an island made entirely of Water Reeds! On this small island, there were 8 different families! It was an incredible experience feeling how firm the island felt under our feet! Here, the people are free from the conventional laws which govern Peru. We were told that if you don’t like your neighbours here, you can just cut the island down the middle and let them float away! They were all even smaller than the other people in Peru. One of the women nearly had a heart-attack when she found out I was 18!

When we reached the peninsula on the far side of the bay, we met the families we would be staying with that night. After having a delicious fish lunch, we went out with our families in their boats to help them put their fishing nets out. After that, we played beach volley ball. It was Locals vs. Gringos (the spanish word for foreigners). That evening, we went to the village president’s house for a poncho party! All of the clothes meant something here: single man, married woman, man in love, woman seeking man. Jackie and Ada came dressed in the clothes of virgins (snigger).

The next morning, we went out with our families in the fishing boats to collect the fish caught in our nets over night. It was mine and Sean’s family that won (with about 34 fish). We had a talk with everyone before we left. The locals (with their large families) were asking Josh and Amber what contraception they used. After that, we sailed on to Amantani Island. After being humiliated in a game of football, we wanted to siesta but Manuel made us go up to the temple at the top of the island. Slave-driver! That evening was another Poncho party, but this time with more singing and dancing! Every dance meant something. Some were about sowing seeds and others were about helping your drunken partners back home!

The next day, we got the boat back to Puno ready for going over the border into Bolivia to stay in La Paz. Now Jackie said that a lot of the holidays she’d been on, there’d been some sort of disaster. She was around during the bombing in Gibralta for one. Now, as we switched the news on, we found out that there were fierce riots happening in La Paz! Our jaws dropped. Ada tried to convince us that we would be fine as the police would quickly sort it out. That didn’t stop us from worrying all the way there. But sure enough, whilst the traffic was absolutely manic, there were no riots and we got to our hotel safely. This was Ada’s last night with us, since she’s heading back to study at the University of Lima. We made sure to have a good night (even though she wasn’t drinking because of her studies) going to fake english bars and posh restaurants.

The rest of us then had a day of just hanging around in La Paz. Me, Sean, Beth and Janet went to the Luna Valley. An mountainous area with rock formations which make it look like the surface of the moon. Almost everywhere we went there, we could see the lone piper on his rock. He was even good enough to pose for us!

We then went to the market to enjoy the incredibly cheap prices. I got a decent pair of jeans with a belt for under 7 pounds! That evening, we went out to a local bar and I said goodbye to everyone else. At least, I thought it was goodbye.

As I waited in the airport lobby the next morning, I saw the dreaded word, ‘CANCELLED’ appear next to my flight. After a lot of panicking and running around, I found out that there had been a strike in Santa Cruz meaning that my American Airlines plane could not refuel. I grimly exited the airport to get a taxi all the way back to the hotel where I met my suprised Australian friends. With the help of Sean, I set about finding out how I would get home, with the start of Uni only being a week away. I found out that the plane might not be flying for at least 5 days. We found out that my best option was to get a 26 hour bus all the way back to Lima where I could get a plane to Miami and then to Heathrow. It was very strange going back on the 3 week journey in a day. The sights of Lake Titicaca, the mountains around Arequipa and the deserts of Nazca really brought back memories. But a 26 hour bus ride is not an experiance I want to repeat! On the plus side, going back to Lima meant I got to see Ada again! I’d actually missed hearing her call me names like Nicsito and Baby Boy.

It was a real relief to get back to my family (even if I only did get half a week before Uni). Despite this three-day trauma, I really do miss Peru. The colourful people and the wild experiences. Meeting new people at University only seemed like a minor challenge compared with traveling a world away on your own.Whilst I am enjoying finally being able to settle down in one place, but it wasn’t long after I got back that I started thinking about where I should go next. Perhaps Fiji or Russia?  I’ve had real ups and downs whilst I’ve been out there (probably more noticable in my first blog when I was still trying to work out what I was doing) but the ups really outweighed the downs. I’m really pleased that I’ve kept a record of what’s happened since it just shows how much things can turn around and I hope this is useful to other rookie travelers!

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From → Peru 2008

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