Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lima- Smells Like Tinkle

Lima resides under a permanent blanket of fog for half the year. While we were there, it also emitted an almost permanent aroma of urine. Apart from the odd odour problem, the city does have some charming little pockets, along with a fantastic Hare Krishna restaurant and supermarkets thats sell peanut butter (Hooray!).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stuttering through Peru

This is the spot in Peru where our bus decided it was fed up with driving and wouldn't continue until someone gave it a new fan belt.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Uyuni Desert Day 3

Our group awoke at the guide appointed time of 4.30 am for a 5 o'clock start, however our guide had got drunk the night before and wasn't up until after 5. 6 ticked over and our jeep was on its rickety way across through the darkness. The cold had left a layer of ice covering the inside of the car windows, and we huddled close with sleeping bags to try and stay warm in this fridge with wheels. As the car gradually warmed, we started to feel a little more comfortable. When the car veered off the path and into a dirt embankment we realised that the driver also felt a little more comfortable and had nodded off in the middle of what he was doing. Quickly, the window came down and icy air filled the cabin. We were cold, but our driver's state of consciousness was assured.

First stop were geysers and boiling mudpits, all spouting gloriously super-heated gasses from deep below. The driver, no doubt impatient to make up for lost nap time, then rushed us off to some thermal pools, where we floated about in natural warm water baths surrounded by ice on every side. After the dip, I instinctively left my shorts in the sun on the bonnet to dry. We returned after breakfast to find them frozen completely solid, unable to be folded and suitable for hammering nails.

Sunrise through the ice inside the car window

Frozen shorts

After another mountain/lake combo or two, the last stop was a small brick shack called the Bolivian border, where we were packed onto busses and sent on our way to the oxygen rich climes of Northern Chile.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Uyuni Desert Day 2

More surreal rock formations than you could poke a camera at. Snow resting on brown sand. Pink flamingos being blown across iced over lakes by a white, unceasing wind. Air without oxygen dry chilled to painful temperatures. The day was journey through a minimalististic nightmare, and when night swooped, it didn't bring with it anything closer to reality.

The sky shimmered blue with starlight and the frozen rocks cracked like chalk under our boots. In these temperatures, the human body reverts to stuttering, robot movement; you can feel the fluid in your joints cool and solidify. After fighting through the cold to take some photos, I returned to the hut and went to bed. Later I awoke, perfectly warm, but shivering uncontrollably and experiencing something that felt like a harpoon through my chest every time I tried to breathe deeply. Hopping into Angie's bed seemed to get things back to normal, the industrial quantity of heat she produces while sleeping leveling out my icepack of a body.

Yes, this is the strangest place I have ever been.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Uyuni Desert Day 1

After a three hour delay (the petrol station ran our of petrol) our 4WD set off toward the Salar de Uyuni, first stop on a roadless three day drive to Chile.

There is an island in this solid sea of salt

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bolivia por Tren

Wanting to avoid the infamous Bolivian bus 'system', we opted to try the Bolivian train 'system'. Blockades and protests cleared just in time for our train to be able to depart, and we spent a lovely afternoon and evening in the Bolivian countryside.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bienvenidos a Bolivia

After being tricked into finally consuming Argentina's beloved ham on our last night in the country, we stepped over the frontera and into Bolivia.

View from our hotel room in Villazon, Bolivia

Monday, July 16, 2007


Salta is yet another Argentinean city that considers pedestrians an unfortunate by-product of being able to fit so many moving cars and buses between its buildings.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Andes from a Moving Bus 3: Cafayate to Salta

Well, it could have been an amazing bus ride, but the dirt on the windows made me feel like I was looking at the world through petri dish full of amoebae.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quebrada de Cafayate

We spent an afternoon being led around the Quebrada de Cafayate, a series of geographical oddities threaded like surreal multicoloured beads on the string that is Ruta Nacional 68. Once again, the thin air made walking a struggle, and the desert sun didn't help either. The landscape had a knack for making you feel your size, i.e. very small. Everything- Angie, the tour bus, the tour guide, the bloody tour group, looked very insignificant against the oxidised mountains rendered deep reds, greens and unearthly beiges by eons of chemical activity. Add to this the fact that our skin appeared to have turned green (eyes overcompensating for all the red in light reflected of the mountains) and it turned out to be a very, very unusual day of walking.