Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trek continued

So day 3 we headed off again for a short day (about 6 hours hiking!) in which we would be ending up in the afternoon at a hot Springs - the anticipation of a hot shower and a soak in hot springs was causing quite a lot of eexcitement to generate throughout the group! We soon learnt that ´Andean´vversion of flat is not like the Europena or American version of flat and once again our legs were put to the test and we were very grateful for the hiking sticks we had hired. So far I had only mnanaged to land on my ass once and Im sure without the sticks this would have been a much larer number! Our guide kept us entertained along the way with flora, fauna and history lessons. We took a bus for the final part of our trip today as a couple of peple were unfortunately injured and we all very quickly settled ourselves into the hot springs, making sure to keep as much of our bodies under water as the mossies and sandflies were out in force at htis place. Our campsite had hot showers, proper toilets and even a bar - luxury!! Spent the evening playing cards and even had to get rid of the sleeping bag tonight cus we had dropped so much in altitude since the previous 2 nights.

Day 4 and we were told we were getting alie in, a 7 am start , but no marcileno was stillat our tent door at 6 with the tea so clearly somethign had been lost in translation! The original plan for today was 22 k hike ending in Aguas Calientes where we are now , however it was a hot day a couple of people were injured so we made a new plan and bussed it the first 8 k. There wasnt quite enough room for all of us and all our bags in the van so Jo and me got the ´local´seats - the roof!! Very uncomfortable but very funny! We were soon back on our fet and the days hike began, stopping off at some locals house under a waterfall to see coffee beans growing on the trees, bananas, avocados and we even had Ali become Tarzan of the jungle and climb a tree to get us some papayas!! Its really amazing to see all this stuff growing in the wild. I am taking lots of pictures and absorning as much information as I can to take back to the classroom!

The majority of our walk today was along a railway track and then across a couple of very precarious looking bridges, one of which we had to sign in and give our passport numbers to cross - very official! As we reached our final destination for the day it was clear we were now truly in the middle of the Andean mountains. Ive never felt so small as I looked up and saw these green full of vegetation mountians rise around me like green walnut whips! The town is rteally cute which we are in now and after checking into our hotel - with hot showers nad real beds - very exciting!!! we headed out to get some dinner. Lucily we have 3 medical students in our group as one of the guys was having a really allergic reaction to a bite he got. Betweent he 3 of them the docs have enough suplied to cure most ailments we could think of! An early night tonight as it would be a 4 am start tomorrow.

We boarded half hour bus ride up to Machu Picchu shortly after 5am and up the very windy road we went. It was amazing and very surreal to actually be standing loking at the famous place that I felt I knew cus I had seen so many pictures of. Its so much vaster in real life and so much to see. We got there early nad therfore had the luck of getting lots of photos without piles of random tourists in them.Miguel gave us a 2 hour tour and historical guide to the main area nad then we were free to explore for the rest of the day. Most people climb Huayanpicchu which they only let 500 peple up a day , however our guide recommended we climb actual Machu Picchu mountain which takes twice as long to climb but seemingly was going to be worth every step .- and as we were to soon find out that was a LOT of steps and very steep ones at that!!. So shortly after 10 we were on our way up. It was tough from the beginning and the flag at the top looked an awful ong way away. We were all slightly discouraged when we met a girl one hour in and she told us we were about half an hour away but it was just startign to get steep - clearly Andean steep has a whole new menaing all to itslef!! We clambered on up and the view from the top was definitly worth every step! I even had to do ten press ups at the top as part of a penalty for a game we play in the group that if you say the word spelt ´mine´you have to drop and do 10! We did our traditional jumping shot at the top of the mountain and almost lost the 2 Aussie guys over hte edge who put a little too much effort into their jump. Luckily they are still here to tell the tale! After taking a substancial amount of photos we climbed down adn all subsequently flaked out on the terraces of Machu Picchu. We were all feeling hte effects of 5 days of hiking now!

However I decided If I may not be abck here again I wanted to see as much as my les could manage so I roped one of the other guys into a further 2 hours of hiking and we forced our legs back into action and managed to trek to the Sun Gate and the Inka Bridge which were both beautiful to see and gave another perspective on the main site of Machu Picchu. So worn out, filthy dirty and sweathy we retuned by bus to the town and now you are up top date again! Although our laundry came back in a lovely clean dry and folded state I did have to spend about an hour clenaing the dog poo off my runners which mysteriously got htere as we entered our hotel, I, still wretching from the task! The grips of my hiking shoes proved to be quite a poo trap!

So now we are about to leave Aguas Calientes and are looking forward to the scenic train ride , seemingly with free strawberry tarts onboard back to Cusco! White water rafting tomorrow! And then the plan is to leave on a night bus to Puno tomorrow night with our new travelling companion - Ali the papaya tree climbing Scot! Hope all well with everyone. Aplogies for typos or if htis isnt coherent , am a bit rushed today!! Love to all xo

Monday, August 24, 2009

90 dollar knickers

Hola de Aguas Calientes where we have just returned this afternoon from our 5 days trekking to machu Picchu. The title of this blog is because on our way home from the trek brief the other night I stopeed into buy the cheapest pair of ´trekking´knickers that I could find as our clean laundry had got a little low! I managed to find a pair for 5 soles - even had lace on them! Thats the equivalent of just over a euo, however between leaving the shop and getting to the bnank a little over 100 metres away someone managed to get my wallet out of my bag and close it back up again and therefore they ended up being the most expensive pair of underwear I have ever bought!! Takin somehting positive out of this a Peru family should be able to feed themselves for a couple of months with my money , Im going to think of it as involuntary donation to charity!!

Moving on from that we arrived into here yesterday afternoon and then took a bus from here at 5 am half hour ride up to entrance to Machu Picchu where we then had a two hour guided tour with Miguel - our tour guide for the last 5 days and then we were free to explore for the rest of the day so after another almost 5 hours of hiking we have finally made it back down and are awaiting our laundry which we have dropped into some random sweet shop which also had a sign that they do laundry so God only knows what our clothes will return like but they having slept, walked and sweated in them for the last 5 days hopefully it will be an improvement!!

Our trek has been a great success , there were 14 of us altogether, a few English, a Scot, a couple of Dutch, a couple of Americans, a very tall Norweigan, 2 Aussies and us! Luckily the random bug setteld down just in time and my body was able to cope with an average of 15 k a day , our longest day being 18 k going up to altitude of 4650m. Day 1 started off at 5am with a supposed 2 hour bus ride to breakfast and the starting point of the trek, however half an hour in we pulled over, I oulled down my eye mask to find we were in a garage - seemingly we had a pucture so we were going to be here for a while! Had to pull the duvet jacket out for the first time and we sat and waitred for a very long time while they rooted around for a tyre and then magically changed it without even us noticing that they had jacked up the bus - not really sure what went on , but within an hour we were back on the road. Knowing we had a 16k walk ahead of us and having being up since shortly after 4 I pulled the eyemask down again and pulled my divet jacket around me and tried to get some sleep in. A little later on I lifted my eyemask to discover we were going up a "road" that had absolutely no barrier and a very steep drop off - this was to become a regular feature of any vehicles we travelled in for the next 5 days!!I pulled the mask back down and decided sleep was more imnportant than worrying about the extremely rocky road with no barrier that we were hurtling along on quite a large bus!

Breakfast went down ok and thankfully stayed down and finally it was time for the trekking to begin - well almost! Miguel - our local Peruvian guide had decided that as we had wasted so much time with the tyre change that we were going to cover the first 2 half k uphill that was planned in a truck instead. So within minutes all our bags, walking poles, 4 chefs, 5 porters , cooking utensils, pots, food, water , 2 guides, 14 of us and a random woman and child were all piled into the back of a truck and off we headed up the mountain.Ofcourse this caused great amusement amongst us all and as we hutled up the dusty roadway hanging onto the side of the the truck we soon got to know our trekking companions for the next 5 days. Jo got upgraded to a seated position beside the random mother and child (although shes not too sure whether it really was an upgrade as it was very bumpy!) Meanwhile I was wedged betweent he side of the truck and the large saucepan sticking into my thigh and Alistair - our new Scottish mate was propt up on a bag of straw like stuff with a bag of what we reckoned was tonights dinner - a bag of raw chicken beside us for company too. With the blazing sun beating down on us and the chicken we hoped we werent too far from our destination. Harold - the 6 ft 7 Norweigan had to do a lot of ducking and diving to avoid the branches that flew into his face nad back every so often along the route. All in all it was a very amusing start to our trek and we were glad that we had managed to knock a coupole of k off the ´forst days trekking ,afterall tomorrow was supposed to be the toughest day and we had to acclimatise!

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, stopping for lunch along the way. Our team of chefs and horses and porters went on ahead and when we arrived we were ushered into our tent, but not before being guided to our infdividual basins of hot water, bar of soap and hanging towel to dry with outside the lunch ten - this was way posher than we imagined and then we saw our chef - chefs hat and all cooking up a storm. We soon learned that we wouldnt be going hungry on this trip as we were served up avocado starter, soup, main course, yummy garlicky bread and ofcourse what was to bacome the ritual coca tea. After a short siesta and a trip to the very lopsided toilet tent we were on our way again. Unfotunately the 2 Aussies had only arrived into Cusco a couple days before and hadnt had a chance to acclimatise to the altitude and they were being hit hard by headaches and nausea. However everyone battled on and late afternoon we arrived to our first campsite and after settling into our tents were served up our daily snack of popcorn, crackers, jam and ofcourse coca tea! For those of you who dont know coca tea is supposed to help with the effects of altitude and therefore is served up as often as possible or given in leaf form to shove in the side of your mouth and chew. Basically it is the basic ingredient of cocaine but obviously isnt bad for you unless you mix it with acetone and a lot of other chemicals and purify it a lot more - this is clearly the less technical version of the cocaine making process than we were given, put it htis way you wouldnt be allowed bring this stuff through customs but its part of the daily diet here! As tonight´s campsite was to be our highest altitude we were sure to down a good few cups of this to keep us feeling the negative effects of altitude. Dinner was another 4 course meal and then we were sent to bed in shortly after 8 and told we would be woken up at 6 with yes you guessed it a cup of coca tea brought to our tent! We put on plenty of layers , hats, socks, gloves and crawled into our sleeping bag liners nad then our special cold weather sleeping bags and tied to ignore how cold we still were - had to put on the last of our available clothes at about 1,30 am and thanked God it would be slightly warmer the next night!! Woke up to our cup of coca tea brought by the cute Perucian Marcileno - tour guide number 2 who was so sweet and encouraging the whole 5 days and appreciative that we were visiting his country. He would always be waiting at the top of the hill ready to give you a high five and congratulate you on what you had climbed so far!

It was one of the guys birthdays on the second moring so we sat down to cake and bread for breakfast adn they had even made a whole second ´lactose free´cake for me! They catered really well for this and I felt guilty how much trouble they went to always making a second lactose free batch of stuff for me e.g. porridge, hot chocolate etc.! Off we headed for what was to be our toughest climb of the 5 days and everyone was a littel nervous of how the altitude would affect them. An hour or so in as we began to climb Miguel told us all to grab a pile of coca leaves, roll them into a ball and stuff them into the side of our gum - this seemingly would then soak into our bloodstream quicker, make our mouths a little numb and prevent us feeling the effects of altitude - and thankfully it worked! Not sure if we were just acclimatised or is was a placebo effect of taking the coca leaves but whatever it was we thankfully reached the top 4650m which was the highest we would be climbing. We sat in awe and admired the surrounding snow capped mountains and cracking glaciers which were beginnig to make me feel very small and insignificant. We were at the base of Salkantay mountain 6271m and this is what we next had to trek around! We offered up some coca leaves to the condors, the pumas and the snakes as is the done thing and thanked the mountains for protecting us and keeping us safe , then we hid the leaves under a few rocks and off we went downhill for the next 3 hours to the lunchstop. Calves were beginning to burn by the time we reached lunch and everyone gratefully climbed into the glacier water for a bit of muscular relief! Another few hours on and we reached our campsite for the night welcomed by the chickens which all had red tags on them - denoting them to be llamapath chickens - our tour group - we wondered what would be for dinner tonight!! Spent the evening playing cards, watcing the stars and enjoyed a slightly warmer night until woken by the cocks crowing at 3.40 - just what you want when you have another days trekking ahead of you!!

have to put blog on hold for a bit now but will be back to finish rest of trek adventures asap!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Locals, Inca sites and diarrahoea!!!


Writing from the hostel where I have not left since 8 last night as I was struck down with some bug ,not sure if it was the $1.50 vegetarian dinner that the locals brought us to or just some random bug I picked up , but thankfully the worst of it seems to be over which is very lucky as we leave early tomorrow monring to start our 5 day trek to Macchu Picchu.
Cusco for those of you who havent been here yet is a beautiful city, seemingly the oldest city in Peru and most famous for its Inca traditions. Our hostel is just off a beautiful square called Plaza San Blas which is renowned for its artisan lifestyle, it has beautiful little bars and cafes and lots of locals selling jewllery, woolen products , hair braiding and busking - all of which we have either bought or taken part in!! Cusco is full of beautiful littl ecobbled streets which are just wide enough to fit a Peru taxi - about the size of a smart car through!!When a car comes you have to do a very quick side step to avoid being run over as they dont stop for anyone!A horn is essential here as you cant see around the corners. Every second shop sells the most amazing and cheap jewllery or hats, scarves, gloves, socks, leg warmers, bags and every other souvenir you can think of. Needless to say after we bought every woolen garment we needed for night time here we are now working our way through the jewellery shops! Although we have been told to hold off buying anything till we get to Bolivia as seemingly it a third of the price there which would be very cheap!
We are at 3,500 m above sea level here so the first few days we just chilled out and acclimatised to the altitude, luckily we havent been too badly affected , only getting out of breath when we have to climb hte hill back up to our hostel. The weather during the day is sunny and in the early 20s but drops dramtically after 6 when it gets dark. Luckily fashion wise anything goes here so my night time outfit of leggings, skirt, pink leg warmers with llamas on them, hoody, poncho and wooly hat fits in!! On our first night we stopped into a little bar that had some crazy local band playing with an even crazier local girl dancing in an outfit similar to mine! We immediately ordered the local drink - pisco sour - pisco rum, lime juice, sugar and 2 raw egg whites - goes down surprisingly well and by the end of the night we had befriended all the staff and a few of the locals and spent the night salsa dancing. Since then we have been hanging out with the locals in the square during the day who used to work in the circus and now make a living busking, hair braiding and making jewellery. We thought wed better make the most of these connections so the other day I was handed a bongo while some French backpackers were given panpipes and a horn and Hache (the local) had the guitar. After a quick ten minute basics in Bongo playing we had to do a little show and gathered quite a crowd of onlookers!! I also had a go at fire poys (for those of you who dont know what these are they are 2 chains that have things on the end that you soak in petrol then set on fire and then swing them around your head and stuff) Hache´s advice if I caught fire was to run to the fountain and jump in - luckily I didn´t have to do this although luckily I had jeans on cus I´m not sure my legs would have survived the flames brushing against my bare skin whcih happened a couple of times! I will have to keep practising with the non flame ones before I do any fancy tricks!!
Yesterday we went on a full day tour of some of the local Inca sites. Unfortunately I was coming down with the bug or whatever it was so couldnt enjoy it to the maximum but it was really fascinating to see these places, some of them in lovely little market towns where again we bought more jewellery - getting quite good at bartering them down! We had to climb quite a few steps to some of them which again reminded us how far above sea level we were as we got out of breath very quickly. OUr guide ´Willy Chai´ - translating as dear little Willy was quite entertaining and gave us lots of information about the life and the culture and traditions of the Incas. Drove through some amazing scenery , snow capped mountains and tributaries of the Amazon. Most of the houses are made out of mud bricks and it was like being transported back in time watchin them make these bricks in the field and plough with cows. Every so often a student would hop on our bus and try to sell us something- they were goven 15 minute slots along the route! The first guy had a demo on his laptop of some DVD about Peru we could buy and when the music parts came on he had to hold hte microphone up to to the laptop speakers - quite amusing - dont think he made any sales. The next guy was a little more exciting as he was trying to sell the local version of sambuca and had free samples. I made Jo try one - purely for a kodak moment!If you like aniseed youd love it!
So today we were suppoed to be going white water rafting but due to the bug we have had to postppone it till after our trek so will be staying in Cusco a couple more days after we return from Macchu Picchu. Thats about all the update for now, have to go stock up on toilet paper now as its BYO on the 5 day trek!! Love to all xo

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Hola all from Cusco, just put up a few random pics , a couple from Cali and some from Hawaii and one from Peru - I´m sure you can guess which one by the llamas! Anyway sorry it takes forever to upload onto blog so we will try get more onto Flicker or facebook. Not loving the cold here at night, spent the day buying wooly hats, gloves , legwarmers and socks! Off to bed now with y 5 blankets, socks and hoody! Will be back with a Peruvian update in next couple of days.xo


Saturday, August 15, 2009

We not late we still on Hawaiin time!!

Hola from Lima airport where we are entertaining ourselves in the internet cafe for 4 hours until our next flight boards! Please forgive me now if I make even more typos than normal as this is the 2nd all nighter we have pulled in 3 days and tiredness is starting to kick in! Don´t go thinking I´ve forgotten how to construct a sentence correct grammatically by the title of this blog - I will explain it´s reference later on!

Since the last blog we have had a ball in Hawaii, made our flight to LA by the skin of our teeth, spent a night in Santa Monica and have flown to Peru where we are now in Lima airport awaiting a flight to Cusco where we will have 5 days to acclimatise to altitude of 3500m before starting our 5 day trek to Macchu Picchu.
Hawaii was great fun, we landed on our feet yet agin by randomly getting upgraded to a private twin room at dorm prices in the hostel! Our bedroom door was a little like a secret doorway that other people in the dorm before we arrived wondered where it led to!We had to walk through the main dorm to get through to our dorm and we were afraidf people would think we were posh backpackers so we had to keep reminding them of the "free upgrade"! Turned out 2 of the girls in the dorm where primary sdchool teachers from Ireland on a career break and within minutes they were our new best friends! We learnt very quickly that in Hawaii all you have to do is say "Aloha" and you have a new friend - subsequently we have left Hawaii with a whole stash of new friends!
The original `plan was to stay in Waikiki for one night, see what all the fuss was about and then get out of the tourist city scene and head to North Shore for some chilling time. However our hostel was putting on some really good free tours from Waikiki so we decided to stay there for 3 nights, do the tours and then head North. Unfortunately one of the tours was cancelled so that kind of ruined our plan a bit but we still managed to have a lot of fun hanging out on the beach and haggling for jewellery in the market! Waikiki is a fun place to be but you realyl need to explore the island to see what it has to offer. We consedered island hopping for a day or 2 but decided it would be tbetter to see one island properly and return another time. Saturday night we had to move hostels as there was no room for us in the one we were in , so we packed up our bags yet again ( we are getting quite good at this!) and walked 10 meters down the road to the next hostel where we had booked into a co-ed dorm under the advice of our new mate Travis at reception who made a valid point that if we shared with boys the bathroom would not be hogged all night while we were trying to get ready! We checked into our room, met one of our 6 new roomies - Tony the American who has been wandering the world for 10 years but from next week in his words "his life is about to change" (wère not really sure how - didnt want to ask 2 many questions! He was happy that we seemed normal enough as on his first night in the hostel he had been mugged outside and when he came back to the dorm he found the other 2 "redneck" roomies had brought prostitutes home with them - nice . He saw the look on our faces when he told us this story and quickly reassured us that they had been promptly thrown out of the hostel and there was a nice Kiwi guy in the room now instead - who he said was "buff" for 40 and that we would like him!! He also assured us that as we were not guys without a tan we would be safe - seemingly they are the targeted ones by the locals!

We headed back out of our dorm wondering who else would have checked in by the time we returned and rented a car for the day with the other 2 Irish girls from our previous hostel. We tried in vain to get a convertible but they were all sold out for the day so we ended up with what appeared to be the only car this other company owned - a very old Dodge Ram with leather exterior over the front bonnet and bumper that when you put your foot to the floor still only went about 50miles an hour and the breaks werent so super!! We headed to the East Shore and Windward shore for the day, did some beaching, avoided swimming in the Portuguese Man of War infested waters of the East Shore and went snorkeling in a really cool bay. Returned home early evening , met Brad our Kiwi roomie who was indeed "buff" for 40 and had been christened "bandaid " by the other 3 US Marines who had checked into our dorm. When we quizzed them on why they called him bandaid they explained it was because he was "cut" - the marine definition of "buff"!! So it seemed all the guys in the room were impressed with our new Kiwi friend, later on they decided to see who was the more macho of them all by having push up competitions -this co-ed dorm thing was turning out to be quite amusing. We even had an audience while putting on our make-up and they wanted a step by step explanation for each thing we were putting on our face including the right technique for spraying perfume !!

So the night got off to a funny start and we planned to be in bed earlyish as we had to be up at 8 for our trip to Pearl Harbour the next day. However thé early night didnt really materialise and we were still up at 7 am. 1 and a bit hours of sleep later and we were back up and on our way to Pearl Harbour! Was really good to see , just did the free stuff which was mainly the US Arizona Memorial where you can walk out over the submarine that parts of our still visible where it sank. It´s a little eerie and weird to be standing in a place where such a historical event happened but it was really good to see it. There is a lot of information to read when you are there which was a little taxing on the brain after 1 and half hours sleep but they show a good video and there are lots of missiles and torpedos to look at and a mock subermine cockpit. Took lots of pictures for a future history lesson and even bought a copy of the newspaper from 1941 on the day it all happened. Am gathering quite a lot of future geography and history lesson memorabilia along the way!

On Sunday night we planned to get the bus to the North Shore but we got carried away dancing at Dukes - this is the place to go on a Sunday at 4pm in Waikiki! We headed there from the beach with the "Golden Girls" in toe . Carol and Betty - I´d hazzard a guess were both easily in their late 70´s were 2 ladies we met on the beach that our Kiwi roomie Brad had befriended! They were hilarious , both originally from California they were the most glamorous ladies on the beach, they reapplied their lipstick at least once every half hour and sipped cocktails out of their beach flasks while sitting under an umbrella people watching!! They have threatened to come join us along the way in South America but I´m not sure of Carol´s zimmer frame will get through security!! So after an afternoon of dancing with the Golden Girls, a Hugh Heffner look alike and the 2 middleaged women who were clearly in Hawaii and taking dance lessons with 2 gay guys we had left it too late and realised that our hostel office up there was going to be closed by the time we got there . We contemplated risking it and going up anyway - a 2 hour bus journey and if we couldnt get into hostel we would pitch our hammocks somewhere ( we have been dying to use them but havent had a chance yet!). However Travis (our friend from reception who gives us mangoes!) advised us not to go up as we wouldnt get in , so he very kindly let us pay for one bed and we snook back into the hostel wed checked out of earlier that day and slept in a friends room.
Next moring we headed up to the North Shore where Lost is filmed, Jurassic park and a lot of of other stuff. Hurricane Felicia was still "on her way" and had arrived in the form of rain and wind , but nothing more than the odd tropical shower that you were dry again in no time. We arrived at North Shore and immediately felt like we were on a different island , i´t´s a whole different world up there, much more laid back, no high rise buildings, in fact harldy any buildings at all and the hostel was damp wooden huts beside the beach. Turns out of we´d phoned and said we were going to be coming up late the ight before they would have left a key for us - oh well we´ll know for next time!!
Our new roomies included 2 British medical students, a Spanish girl and a dodgy Alaskan who already before lunchtime had a bottle of liquor in a brown bag in his hand - more about him later! So once the Alohas were done and we had hung out on a hammock for a little while we were off to the beach to do some snorkelling with our new friends. Craig - one of the guys who worked at the hostel who was from Florida (and Adam he sounded like the male version of Kally Duquesne from CSI!!) told us not to get too friendly with the Alaskan guy as he thought he was a bit dodgy. We informed hiom that we didnt plan on but that he had checked into our room so we were beginning to feel a little uneasy. We made a quick detour back to the room to remove all our valuables! Later on that evening Craig piled us and 6 other hostel goers into his van where half of us had to hide on the floor incase the police saw and off we went to the nearest town to get dinner! When we got back to hostel we had a bit of a gathering at the communal picnic area which was all going great until Alaska guy made a return! To cut a long story short he had no manners and tried bumming drinks and cigarettes off people so we took it up with him and a general converstation about how important manners are turned into a bit of fisty cuffs and I had to use my best "talk a 5 year old down after some stupid argument in the playground" voice to make him go away. Luckily it worked and we didn´t see him until the next moring when he strolled into the room and took up residence on the couch and began snoring so loud I´m sure his family would have heard him in Alaska! There was nothing left to do except the old hostel routine I learnt in Oz that if someone is snoring throw a book or 2 at them. I wasnt sure how good my aim would be from my top bunk in the corner so I opted for the closer approach , climbed down grabbed the biggest book I could find in the room and started whacking him with it while giving him the "if you snore don´t check into a dorm line". Got a couple of grunts out of him but wasnt very effective so I opted for the kicking him option instead, that shut him up temporarily but not really enough to go back to sleep. And the smell of drink was disgusting so we called the management and within 15 minutes he was escorted off the property! Not quite so mannerly a guy as our marines and Kiwi from the last hostel!

Next day myself and Jo rented bikes and headed for the beach where "Lost" is filmed , seemingly we could get into the set where the "others" camp is. Turned out though that we missed this cus there was a language mixup while our Spanish room mate was trying to explain to me where this was! Anyway we got to see the beach which was pretty amazing and some turtles. Renting the bikes was hilarious - these bikes have never seen a can of WD 40 and havent had their brakesd or gears checked since they were first bought Içm guessing at least 20 years agio! So for our 5 dollars eah we had no breaks , I had 2 gears and Jo had one! Mine also made a sound that I can only liken to 1000s of crickets all making noise at the same time! It was going to be a long 5 hour cycle! However we laughed about it and even made some hilarious parachute looking bag covers for our backpacks as Felicia kept raining on us. Jo who informs me she hasnt been on a bike in at least 10 years did remarkably well with the technical problems and even managed the off road sections which were quite challenging. We both have some lovely inner leg bruises to show for our hard days work on the bike! The scenery was amazing and well worth the cycle. That North Shore is definitely the more idyllic side of the island, pity it rained most of the time we were up there.

That night we were shown yet more Hawaiin hospitality when we were invited and driven to some guys house further north. His house was right on the beach and when we arrived he was towing out some surfers on his catermaran so they could catch some decent waves! Jo had a another first when she went for a spin on the cat conquering another fear on her list! had a very enjoyable night there , played some tgame involving throwing golfballs into a saucepan , tasted blue corn chips for the first time and listened to some guy playing guitar and harmonica and singing all at same time, the next Jack Johnston on the making I think!
Next morning we were supposed to be going diving in the cage witht he sharks however incoming Felicia put a stop to that and unfortunately it was cancelled due to weather. We were both very disappointed , although I think Jo may have been secretly relieved!We will just have to do it somewhere else along the way! Headed back to Waikiki later that morning and headed out for a surf. Finally made a dream come true and caught some waves in Hawaii! Although being summer they were pretty small and I had to paddle like a maniac over an hour just to catch 3 waves! Headed out later that night with our new friends from Oz and the Irish girls and again planned to get an earlyish night as had a bus pickup at 5.45 to airport. And yes you guessed it the early night didnt materialise and we somehow either slept through our alarm or it didnt go off when we lay down for our 45 min piower nap before the bus was due to arrive!

Jo woke me up and I had o clue what was going on , looked out the window and saw the transit bus, thought it was only half 5 so told Jo wed better run down and tell it were on our way as we thought it wasnt coming until 5.45. However as I was throwing the last of my things into my bag I caught a glimpse of my phone and to my horror it said 6.36 - this was not good as we were supposed to check in at 7 and it was an hour and a quarter ride to the airport with rush hour traffic. Panic with a capital P set in! I sent Jo on down , but clearly that bus was not for us and it had gone by time we got down. meanwhile I tried to do a last minute under the bed check with my rucksack on - not a good idea. The whole thing went over my head as I knelt down and for a moment I honestly thought I was going to break my neck and spend my last moments of life on a hostel floor. I felt something in my neck pull straight away and panicked. The weight of my bag was preventing me from getting back up and Jo was already downstairs, so I knelt on the floor for few monents with my head between my knees and my at leat 23kilo bag over my head still attached to me and tried to calm down and figure out how to get back up. A few wriggly manouvers later I was up and on my way again, neck in agony but Id worry about that later!

The one beverage too many from the night before was kicking in and it was all too much to cope with, Jo coped very well at me pacing in cirlces and shouting about gettnig a taxi asap! soon we were in a taxi , it was already 7 oclock and we were suppoed to be at the airport. I faced reality and started phoning home to get someone on the internet to book us a new flight. However the taxi man seemed to sense our distress and put the foot down and 25 minutes before our flight was due to take off we pulled up outside the airport. Not really thinking we had a chance of getting on the plane I ran in anyway and left Jo to muster the bags. I was psyching myself up top `pay the 900 dollars that Mum had quoted me on the phone 5 minutes earlier for a new flight but I sent a prayer up when they said yes we were late but we could still check in and I laughed to myself at the t-shirt I had bought earlier that day that said " I not late, I still on Hawaiin time" - hence the name fot the blog post!!

We ran through security giggling all the way and congratulated ourselves on the closest call ever for a flight just as soon as we were settled into our seats! We laughed even harder when we turned on our camera to look at the pictures from the night before and found pictures of us being pushed home in a shopping trolley - island transport!! Anyway we made it to LA and my neck was aggravated slightly more by the near whip lash when our shuttle bus driver reveresed straight into a wall. Luckily we saw the funny side of this but he didnt get a tip! Santa Monica was beautiful , wish we had had more time to spend there but will be ont he list for revisiting! So now you are up to date on our adventures so far! We are a littel concerned about the weather here in Peru as the captain was mumbling something about 62 degrees f - not we are uesed to! Loking forward to exploring Peru, speaking Sapinsh again and getting some decent exercise in on our 5 day trek. Within 5 minutes of arriving in the airport a friendly policemand has informed us about the low down on gettnig a taxi and generally how to stay safe i.e. look like we are scruffy and have no money - not to hard to do right now! Will keep you all posted of our whereabouts asap. Love to all xo

Friday, August 7, 2009


Aloha fromWaikiki beach! Just a quick update! Since I last blogged we have spent a night in Santa Cruz , we were a little disappointed with Monteray and Santa Cruz, weather wasn't great, we even had some rain but did spend the best 75 cent we've ever spent on the 85 year old Big Dipper rollercoaster in Santa Cruz! After 5pm the boardwalk returns to 1908 and all rides are 75cent !! We hopped on thinking it would just be a little up and down rollercoaster but turned out to be a fully fledged scream / laugh / bounce out of the seat 2 minutes. We haven't laughed so much in the last month as we did in those 2 minutes. We calmed ourselves down with a little sky ride in a ski-liftesque apparatus while looking down at the beach and the dead seal we sunbathed beside earlier in the day - unfortunately there is a lack of food for hte seals and a lot of them have been dying recently.
On from Santa Cruz we drove up Highway 1 along the Big Sur, as the guidebook says the beaches are like golden pearls strung along the coast, very scenic and definitely to be done in a convertible next time! We arrived back into San Francisco and moved back into Hotel Frank! Thank you again SO much for everything Frank if you are reading this! Although it was Tuesday night Jo and myself decided it was time to give our 14 dollar heels from the classy Payless Shoe Source an outing! We had bought them in San Diego when we were having a 'we look like knackers and are sick of wearing the same clothes and flip flops every day kinda day'! However then we realised we didn't really have anywhere to wear them, hence we insisted we go to somewhere in San Francisco that heels would look the norm! Pretty much everywhere else we hang out , bikini and boardshorts is the dress code!So on went the heels -a very alien feeling and then we went in search of some classy establishments, unfortunately the Tonga bar , which is renowned was closed on Tuesday nights so we hit up some other places and looked very at home in our heels sipping on our basil concoction cocktails (seemingly these are number 5 on the list of top 100 things to eat and drink in San Francisco! We later ticked number 2 off the list aswell by having an Apple Fritter - the hour run we did the next morning didn't even begin to tackle those calories!!
Spent our last day in San Francisco in Napa Valley wine tasting which was a very nice way to end an amazing time in California. Beautiful weather and a really nice drive up through all the vineyards. Tasted some really nice wines which have restored my faith in American wines! Spent our last night drinking more wine and some very classy appetizers on Spencer's rooftop (we moved to Hotel Spencer for our last night (thank you Spencer!) Had to do some James Bondesque moves to get onto his roof , but the view of the city was worth it and the view into the neighbour's bathrooms from above!!

And so here we are in Hawaii - spending the next 2 nights in Honolulu at Waikiki Beach where it's all going on and then heading for some R&R up on the North Shore before returning here for one more night before an early flight out on Thursday. From what we have seen so far Hawaii is beautiful, although I'd love to go explore all the islands that is going to have to wait for another trip! We are staying in a really chill hostel here and off on a tour organised by them on Saturday and then another tour to Pearl Harbour on Sunday and then we have booked ourselves in to go swimming with sharks in a cage on Wednesday - can't wait!!! We will let you know how that goes!! Hope everybody enjoying their summer, we are!!! Love ya'll xo

P.S. we forgot to put in last blog that we have taken up a new sport - goldfish racing!! Yes on Wednesday nights this is the done thing in San Diego (well in the bars we frequented anyway!!) However our fish 'Eireann' was not so successful so we may return to trying to master surfing!! It burns more calories and has slightly more street cred!!We will try post some pictures of our racing soon. Haven't got pics up o blog yet as have to do it one at a time and it's a bit of a pain, we will keep putting on Facebook for the moment and try get more efficient at the blog upload !!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're moving to San Diego!

Hi all,

Sorry has been a long time since an update, we have been busy working on our tans and partying! Actually we've hardly had a second to lie down andd sunbathe , between surfing, catching sunsets and hiking Grand Canuyon and driving on very twisty roads it's been all go! Well we survived our 2nd night in Vegas and managed to win a grand total of 130 dollars between us! We left Vegas and headed for Grand Canyon, however darkness hit before we reached a campsite and it was getting very late so we had to do some improvisation camping on the side of the road - the delay was mainly caused by our 3 hour stopover at Walmart - the super centre!! There was just far too much to see there! When we came out it was almost dark. Hence we had to pull in on trhe side of the road and try and erect our new tent (from Super Wal Mart!) , however it was difficult to ascertain where amongst the shrub and rock we could actually pitch it. Our headtorches were put to use for the first time on the trip and soon enough we had our bed for the night assembled and a camp fire lit , clearly although we were exausted and it was very nlate we had to have smores!

Next morning we woke up to the sweltering heat coming through the tent nad ono we drove to The Grand Canyon. Where we intially wanted to go all the campsites were full (turned out this has become a frequent complaint in the last week!) so we went to the only one htat had a space and set ourselves up and then off we went to hike the canyon. However for those of you who have been there will know the canyon is huge (an understatement!) and therefore we only got to see a very small bit of it. We werent prepared enough nor did we have the energy after 2 nights in Vegas to hike all the way in and back up so we did a mini hike, took a lot of photos that all look the same, bought the essential shot glass and ticked Grand Canyon off our list of things to do!

Next day we tackled the 1050 km drive to San Diego - after going back to our orginal campsite form the night before to do a CSI style search party for Frank's phone which ofcourse had we trusted our instincts and known he had only done a 'male look' for it we would have known it was under the car seat all along!! We passed through Hoover Dam, did some pretending to hoover shots much to people's amusement and passed through a lot of other random places where I would not want to live (seems they put all the hardcore criminals in buildings out here in the middle of nowhere!)Enroute we also passed through the most bizarre place we have ever been to - Bombay Beach in the Saltensea ( I do not reccommend this place to anyone!!) It became a flood plain and was once a thriving holiday resort however now itis a smelly scary desolated place with a lot of dead fuish, burnt out trailers and not one living human being insight during day light hours. Although we did see a lot of evidence that quite possibly there is human life here , including a circle of chairs around a campfire on the side of the road - possibly used for some kind of sacrifcial ceremony - who knows in that place!

On we went anyway and eventually arrived into San Diego, a little disappointed that we didn't see any Mexicans running across the road trying to cross the border!. We were exausted so grabbed dinner in a Mexican restaurant (Mexican food had become part of our staple diet!) and then checked into a motel right beside the airport and train station - made for a very peaceful night's sleep - not!! Next day we headed for the Coronado to do some laundry - Jo was especially excited about this!! This would vbe the first time since we left home we were doing laundry (you can imagine now why it was so exciting!) Did some sightseeing while our clothes spun themselves and then off we went to Pacific Beach which within minutes of arriving into Jo and myself have decided we are going to live here! Checked into another motel by hte beach and strolled down to our new favourite bar , grabbed a 3 dollar beer and watched the sunset - life doesnt get much better! Spen the next day here and in La Jolla where we went sea kayaking and impressed ourselves by not capsizing while tackling the surf to get out. Saw some sea lions and generally faffed around for the rest of the day!

Onward to Huntington Beach where we spent the next few days on a friend of a friend of a friend's floor ( thank you John and Sarah!) and watched Kelly Slater nad the rest of the pros 'tear it up' athe US Pro Surf Open - ah life is tough in the world of Jo and Jane!! Partied with the pros on Saturday night and headed up to Santa Barbara the next day , picking up our own renta car enroute. We have downsized from our luxury Infinity to Tipsy Trixie the Toyota!! She's beautiful, no electric windows , no sun roof and some strange noises coming from the wheels but we love her! Spent 2 nights in Santa Barbara with Frank's brothers (than you Stevie and Andrew!) , ate some more Mexican food and had a filling in my tooth! A trip to the American dentist was very exciting, got handed Adventure magazines, a fleecy blanket and opera music - hardly noticed the injection at all!

We parted ways with Frank on Tuesday and Jo and myself spent most of the day shopping in SB and now don't quite know how we're going to fit everything we've been throwing into the car into our rucksacks! The orginal plan form SB was to head back up the coast to San Fran, however we were both missing San Diego so much we made an execurtive decision to turna round adn go back down there! We planned to break up the journey by camping enroute but even after begging we couldn't get into any campsitesd on the coast - its chocablock here at moment. So arrived into SD late and checked into the only motel that was open. We did toy withthe idea of sleeping in the car but needed a toilet and we were in a very populated area so we treated ourselves to a motel out of our budget! Next moring we milked the frree breakfast and then checked back into our motle form the previous week - got the room next door to where we were! So spent 3 nights partying and surfing in Pacific Beach and now we are payinghte price with sore throats and ears and generally need a rest feeling!

So we booked ourlseves into the only campsite we could get into, 60 miles inland on a reservouir. Arrived late at night , had to queue for an hour at the gate with all the well to do Mexicans with their power boats , jet skiis and supersized bags of Doritos. Our supposedly peaceful night was interrupted by the crazy Mexican family beside us who were riducoulsy loud and played horrific music very late and very early - a cross between the circus and dodgy Spanish music I'd say!. The theme of the campsite seems to be pack as many people in your car, as many deckchairs and as much food as you can. We burnt our dinner and went to bed - our first night in bed before 12 , however with the shennanogans of the crazy Mexicans beside us it wasn't a very peaceful night! Next night we stayed in Avila beach near San Luis Obispo and got a good 10 hours recuperation  - we are nearly ready to start partying again! Today we drove up the coast ,m through Big Sur, saw some beauiful scenery and are now in Monteray where we are spending tonight before heading to Santa Cruz for tomorrow night and then back to San Fran  before we fly out to Hawaii on Thursday. So until then hope everyone is well, sorry if this blog entry is a little boring , not all our stories are suitable for the general blog!!! Love to all xo