Tuesday, November 29, 2005

South America Summary

Here's a post that gives links to all the entries made during Timbo's Travels in South America. I've gone through them all and added extra photos to show you what I was writing about. You may have already seen some from earlier posts but there's lots and lots of new ones.

Sunday, September 18, 2005
Not a lot to report so far

Friday, September 23, 2005
The Steaks Are High *

The Steaks Are High (2) *

Monday, September 26, 2005
Whale Watching and Seal Spotting *

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Puerto Natales : Hacking Coughs and Gloopy Internet *


Thursday, September 29, 2005
Photos from the CD (Rio, Iguacu, BsAs, Peninsula Valdes)

Monday, October 03, 2005
Puerto Varas - Snow Capped Volcanoes *

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Puerto Varas (II) - The Lakes *

The Best 4x4xfar?

Puerto Varas (III) - Still Here

Saturday, October 08, 2005
Down and out in Bariloche *

Monday, October 10, 2005
Out and About in Osorno

Thursday, October 13, 2005
Simmering in Salta *

Saturday, October 15, 2005
The Pain of Internet Cafes

Some more pics at last... *

Sunday, October 16, 2005
Breathless in Bolivia *

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Making Plans for Nigel Timbo *

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Making Plans for Nigel Timbo (II) *

Monday, October 24, 2005
Rumble in the Jungle *

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
They speak Spanish in Bolivia, right?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Timbo in Bolivia *

Thursday, November 03, 2005
Unboliviable *

Bolivia to Peru Huu Huu *

Sunday, November 06, 2005
Creepy Crawlies

Monday, November 07, 2005
Okay, so you´ve got some pictures *

Sunday, November 13, 2005
Pavement National Park Pizzas *

Monday, November 14, 2005
Homokos *

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Boobies *

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Missing Passports *

Monday, November 21, 2005
Fly like a butterfly, sting like a ...

* indicates a post that has been updated with photos. You will need to click on the link at the bottom of the post to see the pics.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fly like a butterfly, sting like a ...

Bee stings hurt. They don't happen very often but just as I sat down in the Miraflores park to enjoy the great fresh bread we bought (bread with ham and onion baked into it) I felt something crawling on the back of my neck. So I brushed it away and was rewarded with an incredible stinging pain. Hurt like hell, but then went away bit by bit over the next couple of hours. Ate the bread in the hostel we were staying at.

As we were in our last days of the big trip we decided to not worry so much about money spent on taxis. We took a taxi into and out of downtown Lima instead of using the bus. Taxi was about 6 soles whereas a bus would have been about 1 each, so splashing out just over a dollar for all that comfort and safety. Well, not a lot of extra comfort and safety but it's definitely more convenient.

Before coming into Lima we'd heard that it wasn't meant to be that good. Everyone we'd met that had been here and even the guidebooks told us that it's a bit of a dump and should be avoided. We saw some really crappy places from the big bus we arrived on but Miraflores looks very nice and when we got into the centre of town we were pleasantly suprised at how pretty the buildings were.

Of course the centre and all the important official buildings are based around the Plaza de Armas (there's one in every town) and in Lima it's quite big. It was also off limits when we arrived as they were performing the changing of the guard at the palace nearby. But we got to walk around it eventually. Also walked around plenty of shopping streets and down to the San Martin square as well. To be honest, it looked very good and we were pleasantly surprised.

In the evening we ate fish (in-between flicking the invading ants off the table) and I tried Chicha, a purple maize beer (but not really alcoholic). Seen lots of people drinking it around here, but normally from old plastic bottles as it's home-brewed. This was the first time I saw it on the menu so I had to have a taste. It was very very sweet, perhaps I can compare it to strong Ribena or perhaps a Hungarian fruit soup. Anyway, definitely different, definitely not beer.

Would have like to have tried Cuy (Guinea Pig) as well but that's mainly a dish of the highlands and they price it up for the tourists around Lima, so I think that'll have to wait for another visit to Peru unless I fatten them up from the pet shop myself.

After all that it was an early night and an early start to make our way back to Budapest. We started the journey when we caught the taxi to the airport at 10am on Friday. The international airport, not domestic, which caused the taxi driver to up his fare by 50% en-route, which in turn caused me to open the door as we were driving along until he reduced it to something more acceptable). We finally arrived at the flat at 7pm on Saturday.

We had a 3 hour wait as we changed plane at Bogota but that went quite quickly as we had to sort out the mess with our rucksacks. The LAN Peru people at Lima told us that we wouldn't have to pick up our bags at Bogota and that they'd be transferred to Paris automatically. Rubbish. We had no boarding card for our next flight so we had to argue our way out of the transit area to check-in with Air France. However, the lovely Air France lady told us that it would be very rare for our bags to be transferred automatically in Bogota and we should check. So we had to argue our way through security (helped by a great guy who spoke English and had all the security clearance we needed) back into the baggage reclaim area. Found our bags just lying on the floor, picked them up and went back to Air France check-in. Got the boarding cards for the flight to Paris and to Budapest, plus assurance that our bags would be transferred automatically to Bp (they were telling the truth this time). Argued our way back into the transit area. The whole business took about 1.5 hours. Not bad. We even got to the world outside the airport (the taxi rank) while we were running around doing this, so you could say that we even managed to visit Colombia. Bought some coffee. The rest of the time we spent chatting to an old friend from school who we happened to meet there. Found out that she's been in Bogota for just over a year teaching English. Got some good gossip from back home. Strange how you meet some people. She recognized me after no-idea-how-many-years and called out my name. Cool.

The flight to Paris was fine. It was a bit hampered by a load of Colombian school/college kids on a big trip but they were fairly well behaved if restless. Couldn't sleep on the flight so watched lots of films.

The wait at Paris wasn't so great as Charles de Gaulle T2B is small and fairly empty. We passed the time just sitting in a crap waiting area chatting to another Hungarian girl that we'd just met. She'd been in Buenos Aires for 2 weeks on some sort of exchange program. We exchanged stories about B.A., the buses, the steaks the smog etc.

Then it was just a shortish hop back to Budapest. My phone was working after 2 months of not being charged up so we ordered a taxi and tried to dash outside to catch it. We were stopped by customs asking if we'd taken any drugs and which countries we'd been to in South America. They took a quick sneak peek into our bags and then sent us on our way. Managed to get the taxi and be zoomed back to the flat in the back of a nice BMW.

Freezing cold, we put the heating on full. Ran a hot bath. Called the parents to let them know we were back safe and then collapsed into bed. Slept for 12 hours straight before getting up the next day to hunt for food.

I'll try to do a summary later on with a selection of pictures. There really are a lot of good photos that need to be put next to the blog entries so it's easier to figure out what I'm raving about.

So ends Timbo's Travels in South America. Stay tuned as we revert back to our normal programming of The Hungary Years in a few days.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Missing Passports

We arrived in Lima safe and sound. Just without some important things like passports, flight tickets and a wad of cash. No, we weren´t robbed, pickpocketed or "strangle-mugged". Instead we´d been very careful at Pisco and put everything in the safe. Then we´d been very forgetful and only remembered the package when we were well on our way to Lima on a 4 hour bus ride.

Drat! Oh well. We got into Lima, found a place to stay in the Miraflores district (after a lot of searching) then called the place in Pisco to tell them what happened. Good old Boris had it sorted. Well, good young Boris that is. Spoke to good old Boris his father at first and had a very strange conversation.

Today (Wednesday) we got up early and took a bus back down to Pisco. Picked up the passports, had some food then got back on the bus and came all the way back to Lima again. 8 hours on the bus. At least we managed to get a good bus company this time and got a working tv (no toilet though, and it left as at edge-of-town Pisco instead of the centre).

On a side note, Eva´s getting very good at bargaining with taxis. Getting to and back from the bus stops she managed to hack down the price very well.

So, back in Lima and we wandered around the Miraflores area. Went down to see the ocean (not down to the beach though as that´s meant to be very unsafe). Looked around a couple of good parks, a shopping centre and then back towards home to get something to eat. Apart from sitting 8 hours on an unecessary bus, it wasn´t a bad day after all.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

On the bus we saw lots of little huts in the desert next to the road. I don't think they were lived in, but who knows? Seriously, any idea what they're used for?

The park of love.

Old houses in Lima. They look great. Hope they last.

This ancient site is smack-bang in the middle of Miraflores, Lima. They only recently started looking at it properly and they still don't have proper government backing. Before they started the excavation it was used as a rubbish tip and for motor-cross. All the bricks you see are hand-made (no moulds), and it's absolutely massive (though only a fraction of the size it used to be).

They're finding new stuff all the time.

The naked Peruvian dogs are ugly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Monday was spent at what's reffered to as a mini-galapagos island. The real name is Ballestas Island just off the coast from Pisco in Peru and has absolutely loads of marine wildlife.

You can see someone else's pics at Go2Peru to give you an idea of what it was like.

We went out there on a big speedboat and then toured around the coast (you don't get out of the boat) looking at sealions on the beach and watched them curiously bobbing up from the water to take a look at us. Thousands of birds. Some of the cliffs were black with them. Inca Terns, Cormorants, Pelicans and of course lots of Peruvian Boobies.

All those birds add up to quite a bit of guano and so in some places in was very smelly. However, even with all those birds flapping about, there was no guano dropping on us. Unlike in Pisco where the main square has trees bursting with birds and one of them got me on the way to a restaurant. Argh.

We also spent some time at the Paracas National Park and saw plenty of pelicans and even a flamingo or two (there are thousands of them when the time is right).

One of the consequences of going by speedboat to the island is that you can't wear a hat, unless you want to lose it. Zooming along with the wind rushing past, we didn't feel the sun. So both of us have red faces today. Not badly burnt, just looks like were blushing non-stop.

If all goes well, we should be off to Lima in an hour or two. Not sure what we'll be doing there as all the guide books say it's not that great but it serves as a good introduction to Peru. But we're on our way out. Just Lima and then we're off back to Bp.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

A boat is taken over by cormorants.

A huge image scraped into the hillside.

Seals or are they sea lions?

The hills are black with birds.

Loads of them.

"The Cathedral"

Monday, November 14, 2005


We survived Ica but only just. It wasn't the nasty streetlife that did us in but the wine and the women sand. Our short day tour of the area took us to a fantastic oasis. Very tiny and it's drying up so they top it up artificially, poor thing.

Of course surrounding the oasis is a lot of sand. Lots and lots and lots of it, with quite big dunes. This gave us the opportunity to try out some sandboarding. I thought it'd be similar to snowboarding but I was wrong. First of all, there are no lifts so unless you've splashed out on a beach buggy (we hadn't) you have to walk up a sand dune. Second, whereas snowboards just glide across the snow and ice with speed, the sandy variety needs a lot more persuation to get it going. I managed to do a couple of turns but it's just so slow. I think you have to have a very steep dune to get any momentum going. On the other hand, if you get bored, you can just sit on the board, point it downhill and then you can get a bit of speed up.

After the boarding I was covered in sand. My trainers were so full of sand it hurt my feet (honestly), all my clothes were covered in sand and my face, neck, arms, legs, in fact every part of my body was sandy. I think the earlier, liberal application of suncream also aided the adhesion. It's still all over me as I type this a few hours later. Can't wait for the shower.

After the sandboarding we visited a couple of vinyards and went wine tasting. First was the place that has won first place several times for it's Pisco wine / brandy. Tried several types from the famous Pisco Sour to the eye watering straight Pisco (over 40%). Bought a bottle of the Pisco Sour as that's yummy. Skipped the normal Pisco, think I'll stick to palinka. Mmmmmm..... palinka..... it's goooood. Another vinyard offered up some good wines. Very very sweet but that's what they go for around here, including one that was so strangely sweet that it tasted like bubble gum (or similar to the fantastic Inca Kola that they sell here).

After the tour we got ourselves onto a cheap bus to Pisco the town. Journey was okay as it was only about an hour and we had made sure to get the bus that actually goes into town and doesn't leave it's passengers 5km away on the outskirts (as most of the others do). On the bus we got to see lots and lots of desert. People were getting on and off but there was hardly anything for them to go to. They seemed to either live in a very basic hut or they just walked off across the desert to some faraway destination.

Getting off the bus in Pisco we were "pirana'd" by a load of people offering accomodation. It's the most aggresive it's been on the trip but it wasn't too bad. They were more into dissing their competitors and making fun than being nasty to us. However, they were very persistent and followed us around everywhere until finally found a place. Staying in Pisco Hostel which is on the main square. They absolutely promise us that there's hot water. Which is what everyone else does but we've been let down the last few times (last place didn't have it either) and tonight I really do need a good shower.

Tomorrow (Monday) we've got a day tour booked to get to the coast, get out on a boat and see lots of wildlife on the nearby Ballestas Island then go round the nearby peninsula (the name escapes me). Then we'll be off to our last stop at Lima. It's almost over.

Note: While logging into the great LogMeIn site, the browser offered me an email address it rememebered. So someone before me must be a user. A good feeling.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

The oasis

Sandboarding on the way down.

Sandboarding on the way up.

My trainers collected so much sand it hurt.

Wine tasting very sweet wines.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pavement National Park Pizzas

We thought we had a steal of a deal on the bus to Arequipa. Ticking all the right boxes of heating, toilet, tv etc. But of course they lied to us. There was a toilet but it was disgusting and the door didn´t shut. There was a tv but the ancient video player didn´t work so there was no point. The heating was non-existant. It was also meant to be a direct-ish bus, stopping only at Juliaca on the way but instead, as soon as it had left the station it picked up every single person it could until the aisles were crammed. Oh, and the rain leaked in through the roof. Lovely. Won´t be taking Ciba again.

Arequipa the town made up for the bus journey. We stayed in "Colonial House Hostel" just a few blocks off the main square and it was fantastic. Huge rooms, roof terrace for breakfast, great staff. Booked the Colca Canyon tour through them as well.

At this point I have to point out that although the roof terrace was great, and in fact the breakfast tasted great too, the breakfast was ultimately bad. After our early start for the two day tour of the canyon (staying the night in the nearby town of Chivay) I was very very ill. The breakfast came back up at a nice viewpoint (to quote, "Don´t be sick here, it´s a national park") and then anything I tried to eat or drink came back with a big rejected note about 10 minutes later. To add insult to injury, while I was vomiting up my mate de coca tea at lunchtime, I saw something big drop into the toilet. I had my hands holding the stuff in my shirt pocket so I thought it was something I had eaten before but upon flushing it turned out to be the sunglasses that were hooked onto my t-shirt underneath. Bummer. Ignoring the fact that the person before me had spent about 20 mins on the bog and that I had just sicked up a litre of mate de bile I reached in and rescued the specs, washed them in soap a couple of times, then again in some pocket disinfectant (kills 99% of germs in 15 seconds apparently). Somehow though, I just didn´t feel the need to wear them again.

After learning not to eat or drink anything and make sure I sit down at every available moment the tour wasn´t too bad. The canyon is just absolutely massive. In fact they say it´s the biggest in the world. We didn´t have great luck with the condors as we just saw one huge condor gliding just above the heads of the people at the other lookout. We saw a couple of others but they were high (in the air, not drugs).

With the tour finished we headed back to Arequipa, stayed for a couple of hours before setting off again to Nasca. This time we had learnt our lesson and booked a decent bus with a decent bus company Cruz del Sur. The difference was astounding. You didn´t even have to go to a platform, they had their own waiting room. You get drinks and food on the bus, a decent film, great service etc. So cossetting.

We arrived at Nasca around 5am on Friday. By 6am we had a room and a flight touring the Nasca lines booked. By 8am we were at the airport waiting to fly. Organization is happiness. Before going up in the plane we got to watch a video about all the different theories on the Nasca lines (there´s loads of very very big, very very straight lines, plus there´s several interesting shapes of a spider, monkey, hummingbird, whale, "astronaut" etc). After a bit of a wait while the different tour companies jostled for their flying windows we finally got to go up in a very tiny plane. It seated 6 including the pilot. That meant I got to be co-pilot, honestly. I didn´t have a joystick in front of me and I had to be careful I didn´t knock any of the other buttons and switched, but I was sitting right next to the main man as he shouted out the names of the different shapes we were flying over. The lines and shapes are great, though they were hard to photograph and I´m not sure how the pictures will turn out.

After flying over the lines I had my first food for more than 2 days. A great breakfast at the hostel´s roof terrace (another hostel, another roof terrace) but it turned out not to be a great idea. Still have a dodgy tummy even now and have to watch what I eat. No projectile vomiting or anything like that, just felt bad.

Oh, on the same day we did a tour around the area looking at a couple of museums, how they processed gold and some ancient aquaducts for irrigation. As I wrote that I could feel myself dropping off. I know it sounds boring but it was really very good, when the ex-miner showing his rocks got out his guitar and started singing Beatles hits, I was won over.

Bought a new pair of sunglasses to replace the toilety ones. Twice. First pair was great, huge buggy things that I really liked. Unfortunately a few minutes after walking out of the shop I realised they weren´t good as they really did have a fishbowl effect, warping the pavement in front of me and making me unsure of my steps. Shame. Went back to the shop and exchanged them for another pair of Oakey rip-offs (only 25 soles / $7). More flashy than buggy these ones.

The original plan was to go to Pisco next but after umming and ahhing for a bit we decided on stopping at Ica on the way. We were also planning on going by bus but a taxi driver suggested that it would be quicker to go by shared car. Well, it was an experience. A huge, old, American Dodge something-or-other driven by some old codger. We were the first to come forward for the car so we had to wait a bit for it to fill up with other people. And fill up it did. The bench seat in the front held the driver plus two passengers, then the rear bench seat held me, Eva, a silent guy and some guy that couldn´t stop talking, drumming his fingers or singing along to the great Cuban tunes that the driver had a huge stock of (have to get some Daniel Santos tracks). With Eva squashed on my lap and the guy talking about Puskas, Inca Cola and everything else, we blasted our way down the straight road to Ica.

One advantage of getting a car to Ica is that it didn´t just drop us off at the bus station but instead drove us around until we found a hostel to stay at. The first attempt at a room was a failure with the rooms not in good condition. It looks like we´re sleeping at the Siesta hotel. Sounds good, but I´m not sure what it´ll be like as when we checked in there wasn´t any electricity. But if there is electricity later, then there should be hot water. Which is nice.

Some quick words about Ica. I don´t know anything about Ica, I just knew that we were already on our way towards Lima but don´t want to spend too much time there so want to break up the journey somehow. There is a splendid looking oasis nearby with the possibility of sandboarding, plus some vineyards, so it sounded good. We´ve got a short tour booked for tomorrow to visit the above. However, there´s something strange about this town. It´s in our Footprint guidebook but it´s not mentioned anywhere in my Lonely Planet. I don´t think it´s in most of the other books either as there are hardly any other tourists here. After walking about we spotted two sets of tourists (5 people in total). Everyone looks at us as we´re quite different. A new feeling. Another thing. I think this is maybe the first "unsafe" place we´ve been too. In the hotel and the tour office, they advised us to stay off certain streets. No problem, that´s the case in most places, but in Ica, it´s restricted us to just a few blocks. A bit unnerving. Well, we´ll have an early dinner (if I can eat it) and then scuttle away to our room. If there are no more posts on The Hungary Years after this, then I´m probably lying in some Peruvian gutter.

Or maybe I just can´t get to an internet cafe.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

The view from the roof terrace at breakfast.

Baby Alpacas are so incredibly cute. They also have impossibly tiny mouths that have trouble eating a section of mandarin.

Where there are tourists, there's someone to sell them something.

Huge condor. Shame we were standing at the wrong viewpoint.

Cocla Canyon. Deepest in the world apparently.

Yep, it's real, not a statue.

Not putting up the whole Nasca lines picture set as it needs someone at the screen to point out the shapes. But here's a clear one of the hummingbird.

Our mean machine ride

A distinct lack of any speedometer in the dash, but it's better with a selection of cool Cuban music.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Okay, so you´ve got some pictures in the previous post below, now here´s an update on what we´ve been up to in the last few days.

That hotel lied when they had hot water. There was none for that day as there were "technical problems". It was meant to come back at 5am but finally some warm water spurted out of the tap around 5.45am. Just in time for us to have a shower before heading out on the boat to the floating reed islands.

The islands were strange. Very squishy but sure enough, they float and are solid enough for people to be living there permanently. There were quite a few of them about each providing homes for a few families each.

After the floating islands, we got into the boat and headed off across Titicaca Lake to Taquile island. The island is way out and took about 3 or 4 hours to reach. Quite tiny too but has people living there in the remoteness, all wearing traditional clothes. Also interesting is that although it´s all rocky hills, they don´t use donkeys to carry stuff up, instead they just rely on themselves and do the backbreaking work themselves. So, all the people there are really fit or really crippled.

On the boat trip we hooked up again with some new people. An odd couple from New Zealand and Italy, plus an Argentine photo-maniac woman travelling with her mother. We seemed to get on well and so organised our trip to Machu Picchu together. It was a mixture of transport including bus, taxi, train and foot.

First we got the night bus from Puno to Cusco which apparently is not the thing to do as the chances of getting robbed are quite high. The guy that booked the bus for us was a bit of a character too. He promised us that there was heating, toilet etc (there wasn´t), he also said that after stopping at one town (where we would have to watch out for our luggage), the bus would go non-stop to Cusco. However, the bus stopped very frequently to let people on and off as they chose. Dodgy people would hang around the bus and people would hop on and off trying to steal sell stuff. I got about an hour´s worth of sleep.

Once we got to Cusco, the plan was to get another bus further up the road towards Machu Picchu, but the bus didn´t stop in the bus terminal, it was somewhere else. But as there were now six of us, we had bargining power with taxis. So we crammed ourselves and our luggage into a taxi (4 people in the back, 2 in the front passenger seat) and went to the bus station. There we found that the bus wouldn´t leave for a while and we could get there cheaper and faster by taxi. There was a bit of a discussion between our taxi driver and the bus driver as they competed for our fare but the taxi won in the end. We strapped the luggage onto the roof and the two of us had to sit in the "estate" part of the car looking backwards. It wasn´t too bad and on the road we saw quite a few other people in taxis doing the same thing.

Once we got to Ollayatambo, we were knackered. The taxi driver suggested we rent a room just for the day so we could dump our luggage. It turned out to be a great idea. It allowed us all to relax, have a shower and gave us a base while we organised the train tickets to Agua Caliente (the town just before Machu Picchu).

Getting the train tickets up the hill was an experience in itself as the queue is long, there´s only one window and there´s no information about anything anywhere. After snaring a guide from another group, we got the details we needed and managed to pay for our tickets (they refused some of the dollar bills as they were slightly worn). We took the cheaper night train up at 8pm and then came back down again 2 days later on the cheaper early morning train at 5.45am.

The train journey was quite nice, though it was too dark to see anything and I slept for most of the way as I was so tired. At the other end in Agua Caliente we were beseiged by an army of hostal touts. We just started walking and waited for the prices to go down. The place we stayed at started the offer at 20 dollars but gradually went down to 40 soles (about 12 dollars). We took him up on his offer and ended up in a smart hotel but it was still unfinished! No matter, there were good beds, big rooms, hot showers etc. It didn´t bother us too much that there were no chairs, cupboards, hooks or anything to hang our stuff on, nor was there any mirror anywhere and when it rained the next day, water pooled in next to the bed. Oh well.

So we got to the hotel just after 10pm after very little sleep and the plan was to get up around 4.30am, have a quick breakfast, buy tickets to Machu Picchu and then walk up the short path to the top.

I was so sleepy, but we managed to get up and out of the hotel, get the tickets and set off on the path. The path was very steep but the views were great. It was quite a bit of work to get up there but we managed it in just under an hour and got there before the crowds arrived.

Once up there, we took a walk to the Sun Gate, which is were most of the people doing the 3 or 4 day trek arrive. It was a bit of a walk up to that point but you´re rewarded with an absolutely amazing view back down to the main site. We also met quite a tame hawk who had cottened on to the fact that trekkers carry food and he wanted some.

We wandered around the impressive site for the rest of the day. We did´t have a guide but we caught snippets of information when we could. The site is pretty big but it´s easy to walk around and it´s fascinating to be there and think of all the things that went on there at that time while now there are llamas grazing in the main square.

Had a bit of a snooze around midday to avoid the sun and ended up leaving the site around 5-ish. Walking down the same path from the morning to get to the bottom of the hill.

While walking down we heard a great thunderstorm over one of the other hills, and just as we were getting into town it hit us hard. It completely drenched us and rained so hard that all the drains and gutters were overflowing. We stopped at a shop for some shelter and also helped them get all theirs goods inside out of the rain.

With it still pouring down with rain we ate in the unfinished hotel and got an early night as it was another 4.30am start to catch the first train back the next day. The train back was good as it was now light and we could take a look at all the scenery. Again, getting off the train we were mobbed by taxi drivers trying to get our business, but this time we took a small bus back to Cusco. The bus driver drove like mad and we got into town after about an hour (instead of the two hours it´s meant to take).

We tried a few places to stay and ended up in an okay-ish place. The Argentines have gone off to La Paz and onwards while the NZ/Italy couple are still with us (though in different hostals). We´ll stay in Cusco for the next couple of days. After a bit of a look around this afternoon, it seems to be a very nice place. Had a great second breakfast of steak, rice and chips (yep, that was a breakfast) for just 4 soles (just over a dollar). Walked up the hill to a viewpoint of the city and also took a peek in one of the big churches. A good looking town with a good friendly atmosphere.

After recuperating here, we´ll head on to Colca Canyon to see condors (oh, and the canyon that´s twice as deep as the "Grand" Canyon). Haven´t bought the bus tickets yet, but hopefully we can do that tomorrow (Monday) for leaving on Tuesday.

On a side note, here´s one for someone I know back in Bp. We spotted a motorbike in Cusco with English plates and a whole lot of luggage storage (and maybe a modified / enlarged fuel tank). Met the rider and his lady and it turns out that they shipped the bike from England to Canada and are riding it all the way down to Ushuaia at the bottom of Argentina. Impressive.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

Before you start the climb, you have to get to the path.

Stunning views as you climb up the hill.

The classic Machu Picchu shot.

Taking a look out from the Sun Gate.

Our tame hawk that begged for food.

Careful of the Llamas, they're big and the paths are not.

Another angle.

Caught in the rain on the way home.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Creepy Crawlies

This is the creepy crawly special edition of The Hungary Years Timbos Travels in South America. We´re in Peru now on the last leg of our journey but the CD of photos is always a few days or weeks behind. Here´s a selection of pics from the pampas trip in Bolivia.

Not so creepy, but very crawly. What they lack in creepiness these caterpillars make up for in numbers. There were loads of them all clumped together on the side of a tree in the jungle.

Definitely creepy, definitely crawly. The tarantula lives peacefully in it´s tree until some jungle guide taunts it with a stick and gets it angry and chasing around after it´s egg sack.

Went pirana fishing with little lumps of meat. These critters nibble it clean off the hook in seconds, though this one wasn´t so lucky. It ended up on the dinner table. I swam with these fish as well though they were kept at bay by the friendly pink dolphins (who eat them).

Coming to getcha... Loads of alligators in the pampas. Sunning themselves by day and feeding at dusk. You see them sitting on the banks most of the time but then when taking the boat at night their eyes reflect / glow red in the torch light. Quite offputting.

Anaconda! Apparently quite hard to find but our guide tracked one down. Took a few hours of wading through swamps and fields and wondering whether the welly boots would hold out (they didn´t). This one was about 2 metres long which was a decent size considering they only make it to about 3 or 4 metres in these parts.

That shoe (mine) is a size 42 (or 8.5) and that huge cockroach sitting next to it is about half that size. It´s big. Found not on a jungle or pampas tour, but in the great Mosquito bar in Rurrenebaque. Wouldn´t want that in my sleeping bag.

No creepy crawly here, just showing the effects of a nasty mosquito bite. Couldn´t find the bite itself but my hand swelled up nice and good. Here you can see my left hand (on the right) doesn´t show any veins or tendons or proper knuckles as the flesh has plumped up to hide them.