A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: AMellar

House 2 and Tikal

Finishing our second house with Houses to Homes and a brilliant weekend in Tikal.

rain 26 °C

Hello :)
Last week we finished our second house with 'From Houses to Homes' and it was a really really nice experiance. We had to paint the house on the last day, and it was really nice because Daniel, the five year old in the family, took a paintbrush and helped do the bottom of the house. In the week we were there he really came out of his shell. At first he was too shy to even talk to us, but by the day we left we couldn't stop him talking which was lovely. The family we had been building for were so gracious and so unfortunate that it really felt nice to do something for people who truly need help. P1040214.jpgAt the ceremony to give the family the keys on the last day the grandmother (whom the children all call mother) couldn't even begin to express herself, she was so emotional that all she could do was cry, which set all of us off crying as well. But it was such a nice feeling to know that they won't have to worry about their home any longer.P1040144.jpg The grandmother cooked us one of the best meals we have had in Guatamala, some fried chicken with Sauce and tortillas with rice. They also went to the shop and bought two big bottles of coke, which can actually be pretty expensive over here, which was really nice of her. P1040215.jpg
Straight after leaving work we had a quick shower to get the paint off ourselves and went to catch the bus. The shuttle bus actually picked us up on time and pretty soon we were on another shuttle bus going to Guatamala City where we could catch our overnight bus to Tikal. We had to endure listening to two idiot Americans the entire journey, they were talking about Yoga and how one of them is a 'Music Yoga Teacher' for children. I do beleive he said: 'It's not that I teach music, I just let children learn to show their emotions through it and extend that through Yoga too.' James turned to me and said- 'Do you think they can feel the negativity coming off me?' haha.
The bus journey was pretty good. We went with a bus company called ADN which had pretty comfy seats but was so cold!! It says everywhere that you shouldn't travel on overnight buses because they are so dangerous but there has never been any problems with the bus to Flores because it is so out the way. We arrived in Flores and were picked up by shuttle, which we thought would take us to the hotel but randomly dropped us to the airport for 2 hours before then taking us to the hotel. It's a bit of a scam really going with a company, because the entry fee to Tikal wasn't included and you have to pay 15$ daily to get in, so we ended up spending all of our money on that and having barely anything for food. But Tikal is awesome. We found out before hand the temples we were going to do with the Guide the next day and went round all the others that weren't on the itinerary. We did not see another person so it really felt like just our experience. We were walking towards one temple and James suddenly stopped, I couldn't work out why untill I looked up and saw a tree just absolutely full of spider monkeys. Most of them were hanging from their tails, but they were so quiet! I wouldn't have even noticed they were there if it weren't for James. It was really awesome :) We also saw a toucan, a grey fox, a paca and some wierd pig-rat thing that was very strange. Oh and a really brightly coloured turkey too. The second day with the guide was just as quiet as the day before. James and I had our own private tour and even at the big and famous temples we hardly saw anyone, maybe 20 people in the whole day. My favourite temple was temple 5, it is huge! It's not the bigest temple but because it has no vegetation on it at all it deffinately has the biggest presence. It was amazing because you go round the corner and see nothing and then the next minute you are standing in front of this incredible temple. P1040446.jpg (This computer has started playing up and will no longer let me put any photos on so I will add other temples to my next blog.) The biggest temple though, you can climb right up to the top and the view is incredible! You can see the tops of all the other temples and the amount of rainforest is awesome. Also the noises you can hear are crazy! Lots of bird's noises and Howler monkeys too, they sound like big cats though. One of the other guides could do a perfect impression of a howler monkey and was almost having a conversation with it! The grand plaza was awesome too, that is when we saw the grey fox, on the top of the temple. I just wish I could have taken a picture but it went away so quickly!
We left Tikal after lunch and went into Flores to catch the bus. We still had a while before the bus came so us and two friends, that we had coinsidentally met in Tikal, went for a boat ride around Tikal. It was really nice, we watched the sunset in the boat and then we climbed to the top of this mound (which we later found out was an uncovered temple!) to see Flores Island as a whole. It was really pretty and a really lovely way to finish the weekend. we went to 'Captain Turtle's Pizzas' for dinner too. The bus journey back was bascially a nightmare! There were about 5 children all under the age of one who cried all night. Between that and the bus driver deciding to play 'Danny the Dog' in chinese at full volume all night, we had pretty much zero hours sleep. We got off the bus and within half an hour we were in work, building a house.
James has been ill for the past two days, there is a bug that has been passed around everyone in our host family (except for me!) so I think he has caught that. But he is looking much better today.
Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 16:30 Archived in Guatemala Tagged monkeys temple houses from to homes 5 captain flores tikal turtle adn Comments (0)

Photoss!!! And a quick update.

My photos from Guatamala so far. And the past two days.

overcast 25 °C

I didnt have my memory card with me the last time I wrote so here are a few photos from the past two weeks, mainly of the building etc.
This is the first house we built just before it was finished.
So last friday everyone looked far too clean. I got so involved with painting everyone that I didn't realise how red I was!!
This is the family that we built for and us. They were such a nice family!
This is Robin on the way home in the pick up truck. Sebastian painted him.. Red Robin :)
This is a picture of some of the traditional dress in Guatamala. The little girl is watching the waves in Monterrico.
This is the young girl and her baby at the new house we are making.
So for the past two days we have been working on the house. On tuesday night we went out for the birthday of another volunteer Mike and which was good fun. There was a lot of crazy dancing... We didn't stay out too late though.
James was pretty ill on wednesday morning, he hadn't been feeling too good for a while but we had been to an Indian Restaurant the night before and we think he had food poisoning as well. He's fine now though. Today we finished the second house that we had been working on, all that is left is to paint it tomorrow. We booked a trip to Tikal today. We have gone with a company called 'Onvisa' who are recomended in Lonely Planet and we paid 145 dollars for 2 bus tickets, a night in a hotel and a tour around Tikal which is pretty good!
This is a picture of another volunteer from 'Houses to Homes' Kika with baby Marianna from our project :)
Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 16:42 Archived in Guatemala Tagged tikal anti montericco onvisa Comments (0)

An Encounter with a Peruvian Thief, Julicrapper n Guatamala


rain 26 °C

Our last week in Peru basically sucked... What I wrote before about it being so lovely and nice and the people being so friendly, was not exactly researched enough, or so we found out. We left our host family on the day we were going to Lake Titicaca and we said goodbye, gave them presents etc and got into the taxi. Firstly the taxi driver tried to charge us 6 soles (a journey double the distance is usually 3) amd we bargained down to 4 but little did we know, he was planning to scam us again. He dropped us at the bus station and we started to get all of our bags out of the car, a had brought most of mine from the back seat but before I had a chance to pick up the last bag the taxi driver started to drive away. James' bag was still on the backseat. I chased after the taxi for about 300 meters up the road but when he saw me he accelerated and was going much to fast for me to catch up with him. It all happened so quickly that we didn't catch his numberplate either. When I got back, James' knuckles were bleeding, he had punched the wall.
There was really nothing we could do, if we hung about in Cusco not only would we have no accomodation or food but we couldn't be sure that the police would catch him, or even attempt to catch him, so instead we got off the bus. The people from the spanish school were really helpful, they couldn't file a police report for us so instead they contacted the british embassy and told them what had happened. It was lucky in a way because James had given me his passport and Yellow Fever Card to hold on to, all his other documents were in the folders, along with his brand new hat, the guide book for Guatamala, his sunglasses, his warm clothes and a few toiletries too. It wasn't the worst thing that could have been taken, but all the costs add up and most of the stuff he needed in the next few days.
Anyway, so we were told to make a police report when we got to Puno that evening. We had a 'cultural bus journey' to Puno which was really terrible. The guide said 'You Know' and 'My friends' after every single sentance, so in the end even the japanese tourists were laughing when he spoke. We were shown around a church, an Inca temple and a museum which were all very nice, but i would have prefered to get there earlier instead of spending the whole day on the bus. On the way to Puno we also broke down twice and then when we finally got there all hell broke loose.
We weren't allowed to drive into Puno by bus, because the people of Puno were demonstrating. We had heard about this but we didn't really know what to expect. There were chards of glass all over the floor, burn marks from where people had thrown fire and everything was shut. We could hear the protests from our hotel which was quite a few blocks away, but instead of doing the sensible thing and staying inside like we were told, James and I had to file a police report. We literally joined the protest at one point, following the people who were carrying home made axes, poles and rifles down the roads. They are protesting because the president has signed a contract to say that a canadian company who owns a lot of mines in Peru has permission to dump waste into the water there, so all the farmers and people who live off the land are suffering because of it. They are also getting no compensation for this. So to be honest I think it's fair enough, and if I were in there situation I'd probally be throwing glass bottles at things too.
The police station was literally in the middle of the protest. There were about 200 riot police all lined up outside making sure no one came through. However inside the police station, no one seemed interested and everyone was sitting around and watching 'Hitch' with Will Smith in it. We walked in and told them what had happened, but they just laughed. We were prepared for that to be honest, our friend had her camera stolen and when she went to the police they thought it was hilarious because ''Everyone knows....'' that cameras are stolen to be sold at the market. They said they would do the report anyway, but only for a tip.
We walked back through the crowd again to get to dinner, this time they had turned a little hostile towards us and were shouting in spanish, I felt like telling them that I wasn't a canadian so they could shut up. It was a little intimadating any how.
The next day we got the boat to the floating islands and then Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca. It was very pretty but very touristy and a little over the top with trying to act like it wasn't tourity. We stayed with a family for two nights, one on Amantani Island, and one on Taquile Island too. It wasn't great though, there wasn't anything to do. So we were looking forward to going back to Puno and watching the riots, but then we were told that Puno was now unsafe to go to. The president has 2 weeks left before the next election and he basically said that the next president could deal with it. This made the whole of Puno pretty angry so they have smashed us everything (including the hotel we were meant to be staying in) and have started a new habit, of throwing rocks at tourists. So we had to get a local boat that was leaking so badly that the driver kept having to fill up buckets of water and drop them out of the boat, to mainland and then a bus to Juliaca. We were pretty annoyed because three of us had paid for transfers from Puno to Juliaca airport the next day, but we still had to pay for this bus journey which was meant to be included. All the others who hadnt paid started screwing at us because we said that we should at least get a discount, but they weren't the ones losing money, they also told us to stop moaning about having to stay in Juliaca when all of them were put on earlier buses so they could leave....
Im not exaggerating when I say that I would rather have sat in the toilet in Ghana for three hours than stayed in Juliaca (and considering I couldn't go in for a minute without throwing up, you'll understand how serious i am) We came to know it as Julicrapper just because that is pretty much the only way to explain it- crap. We drove through it on the way into Puno the first time and all said, oh im so glad we are not staying here! The people of Julicrapper do not pay taxes because there is so much illegal trading with Bolivia (where they are on the border with) that they have basically been told to sort themselves out. There was sewage all across the roads, everywhere was dirty and horrible and we were advised not to leave our road, because it was too dangerous.
So we were pretty glad to leave for Lima the next day and then Guatamala the day after. We had a flight through El Salvador and had a little wait in the airport. The flight from El Salvador to Guatamala was absolutely terrifying!! They said over the speaker in the plane that we might hit some turbulence as we went over several thunder storm, but it wasn't that that was scary. We got so close to the huge balls of Lightning that I could the plane would deffinately catch fire! The whole plane lit up and then went pitch black. I was extreamly glad to gety back on the ground!!! When we reached Guatamala City we were a bit dissapointed because no one was there to pick us up, and as you probally know Guatamala City is one of the most dangerous cities around. I asked a security guard for help and he gave me his phone and we rang the agency and they came and collected us, he was so nice, he really helped us out. It turns our Real Gap (the bain of our lives!!!) forgot to tell the company that our flight had been changed, so the woman who was picking us up had waited all day at the airport for us and then got home just as we called.
We are staying in a host family in Antigua, the tourism capital of Guatamala. The family are absolutely lovely and cook some of the best food I have ever tasted!!!! Antigua is really beautiful! All the houses are different colours and there is such a nice feel to the place. You can't walk down the street without every person saying 'Buenas Dias!' The people are so lovely, and they really seem proud that you would want to come to their country. The traditional clothes that most of the women wear are so beautiful too, a long skirt with a big waist belt and a patterned shirt, and the men are usually in their sombraros too, they don't wear them because they want pictures taken of them by tourists so they can get money either, they wear them because they are honouring their culture, which I think is brilliant.
On the first day we got to Antigua we were thrown straight into our project. We are working with an excellent charity called 'From Houses to Homes' which build small houses in 5 days for families who live in poor conditions, they have also built a school and a medical clinic which all families they have built for are welcome to. It is well organised and actually really good fun; you work in a group of at least 5 volunteers and 2 Guatamalan Builders and bascially laugh all day. The first house that we built was for a family of 9, a mother and father, one daughter and 6 boys! They were living under plastic and bamboo sticks (live a lot of poverty-stricken communities in Guatamala) in a single room filled with beds. We worked with a belgian girl, Nike, and boy, Robin, and a german boy, Sebastian, and built the house in five days as planned. On the last day we had to paint the house and I painted James and Sebastian red, and they retaliated by painting Robin. We go to the project in the back of a pick up truck and then get dropped off in the main square every day, so on that day we got some pretty strange looks!
This weekend we went to Monterrico, which is a huge tropical beach and is absolutely beautiful. The hotel we stayed in 'Pez De Oro' was really over priced and pretty crap for what it really was (an open roofed bungalo with a mosquito net that didn't fit over the bed and 10000000 mosquitos.) I hadn't been bitten once in Guatamala but that night I was bitten 56 times! When we arrived at the hotel we were shown around by a man and then shown where the rip tides were on the beach, he then asked us if we wanted to do a Mangrove tour, which we had read about in the Guide book. It is a tour where you go into the mangroves and see various crocodiles and birds and fish etc, we said we'd do it and paid a deposit and were told we'd be met at 5am the next morning so we could go at sunrise. So at 5am at sunrise the next day we were waiting, and at 5-30am we were waiting. Eventually we gave into the fact that we had been scammed and just went back to bed. So that was a bit of a downer, and a waste of precious sleeping time too, but we only lost a couple of pounds. The pacific waves in Monterrico were amazing! I have never ever seen waves like them! They are so incredibly big and fast and if you get dragged under you find yourself on the other side of the beach in seconds. We had a really good times in the waves, and they deffinately made up for our terrible morning.
This week we have started a new house with 3 Americans for New Jersey and Conneticut. We are on day 2 at the moment but I still can't get over how good the project is. We are hoping to go to Tikal Temple at the weekend :)
I don't have my memory cards with me so I can't add any photos, but I will put them all on my next blog.
Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 16:18 Archived in Guatemala Tagged lake houses from to titicaca homes tikal antigua monterrico juliaca Comments (0)

The Lares Trek to Machu Pichu and Some Stuff I missed out...

Best week of the year so far :)

overcast 20 °C

Hello :)
I didn´t manage to write everything last time so I´ll try and remember to put it all in now. So last week James and I went to a football match in Cusco with a load of people from the spanish school. Most of the people who came were from the US so just kind of pretended they knew what was going on but whatever. The stadium didn´t have seats, instead just concrete platforms to sit on. It was absolutely packed where we were sitting, and a little after we sat down, the home fans arrived. They were behind the home goal and there were about 100 people all dressed from head to toe in red, bearing great big drums and trumpets and all singing, drinking and dancing. They literally didn´t shut up the whole match, but it was quite nice seeing how passionate they were. The match started and Cusco almost immediatly scored so everyone in the stadium was buzzing, the fans behind the goal started a sort of mosh pit and pushed eachother around the stands singing, during this they also thought it was a good idea to let off flares in the stadium, so every now and then there would be a huge bang and the mosh pit would turn into a big crowd of smoke and fire. It was pretty funny to watch. The trouble started in the second half when the other team scored. The man who scored was south american but was a black man, and I began to see how racist South America can get. From Then on out, whenever the man who scored got the ball, the entire stadium would say ´ooh ooh ooh´and make other monkey sounds and movement, it was really terrible! But the man didn´t say or do anything, so I imagine that he´s used to it, even if it isn´t fair. This carried on for a while until eventually Cusco scored again. However the manager from the opposing team was not at all happy! One of the Cusco Players said something to the bench and the manager started to pace, then in one quick movement he ran onto the pitch towards the player and punched him square in the jaw! Seeing 100 riot police run onto the pitch to break apart two entire teams was very funny, even funnier when the manager was dragged away screaming that he had a point. I didn´t really understand the reaction from the crowd except for the constant repeating of Ímbercilo!´which was a clear enough indication of what they all thought. They seemed pretty relaxed though so it obviously happens alot. Suddenly hundreds of riot police were everywhere, all around the stadium, which made sense as when the players started to leave bottles and glass was being thrown at the opposition, especially at the man who scored. The police had to put their shields over their heads to stop themselves and the players being hit. It was a very interesting afternoon anyway, I guess it´s just like Peruvian Green Street. P1020640.jpg
The night we got back from Nasca, Cruz Del Sur lost James´ bag. They put it on a bus heading for Araquipa which is on the other side of the country. We weren´t worried at first because they said they could get it back by the time we got to Cusco but they were lying and we still have not had it back. James had his sleeping bag, his coat, hat and gloves that he´d bought especially for the trek, all of the chargers and adapters and most of his clothes. So we spent the night before leaving for the trek shopping in Cusco, looking for coats, batteries, chargers and spending a fortune trying to get everything ready, which sucked. Luckily SAS travel who we did the tour with, had a spare sleeping bag when we got there. P1030058.jpg
Real Gap kind of messed up the Lares Trek for some of us. They had an outdated version of the itinerary on their website, which states that on the first day we would do two hours of walking then go to some hot springs, and in general they made it sound like a bit of a doss. However when we went to the breifing at SAS travel we found out how wrong they were. The Lares trek is hiking for 4 days, up to 10 hours a day. It´s considered much more physically demanding then the Inca trail because not only do you have to climb much higher mountains, but you also do the same distance in one less day. You reach heights of 4700 meters but are constantly at 3000 meters above sea level so the altitude makes you out of breath so quickly, and gives a lot of people (including me) altitude sickness! large_P1030026.jpg
The Lares Trek with SAS travel has literally been one of the best weeks of my life! I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I froze to death, passed out and was generally knackered the whole time i was doing it. We had a guide called Saul who was so interesting. He grew up in the Andes so knew all about the culture, he was so willing and excited to show us everything he could that he really did make the Trek as good as it was. We also had an awesome group. There were 20 of us so usually there is someone who winds everyone up but we all got along so well and everyone was so nice! On the first day we walked for 8 hours through the Andes and reached or highest point just before lunch. The walk up the mountain was really hard but we all got there and had a photo at the top. On the way back down we were surrounded by Llamas and Chincillas which was really nice and very atmospheric! The food we had on the Lares Trek was hands down the best food I have had in Peru. We got so much choice! On lunch the first day we had Pasta, Rice, Veg, Chicken, Fish and potatoes and avacados. It was incredible!
We reached camp that night by about 6pm and the Chasquis (porters) had already set up the tents for us. I have never ever been so cold in all my life than I was that night. It was lucky James now had a sleeping bag or I don´t think he would have survived the night!! I was fully dressed and in my sleeping bag but that still wasnt warm enough because the air was too cold to breath so my lips were freezing!!! It was awful! P1030064.jpg This was the campsite from the mountain above.
The next day was the hardest day because we had the longest trek and the highest mountain to climb. On the way through the valley Saul let us stop off at his friends house to have a look at a traditional Andean house. The houses are tiny so they have their bedroom, living room, kitchen and dining room in one room. Also their bed is used as a hutch for their pet guinea pigs, which they eat when they get too fat. The first mountain on the valley wasnt as difficult as it looked, but then we started our upward climb to the tallest mountain on the trail. It was huge! and had a massive upward climb up to the bottom anyway. This is where i started to feel really ill. Perri and I had been walking quite slowly for a while because my stomach was killing me but after lunch i literally thought I was going to die! I walked on my own for a bit and then had to sit down because I thought I was going to faint, then I did faint momentarily and was put on the horse for part way up the mountain. Whilst on the horse I was sick, but because all I´d had was blue powerades it was a flourescent kind of blue... not nice. I walked up the last part of the mountain, when I felt a little better. James was one of the first to get to the top of the mountain, but even he was beaten by the Chasquis who literally run the whole trek, In sandals!!!!
That night was just as cold as the last but I made sure I put on every single layer I had which helped. Before we went to bed, Saul gave us this Peruvian Tea, which has loads of rum in it. It´s funny, because we were with a load of Americans and one was 20 and wasn´t allowed to drink at all! It felt wierd being younger than him and still being legal. After a camp fire was lit and we all sat around it. It was so nice and Saul performed an Incan ceremony where we had to throw loads of Coca leaves into the fire. It was a really nice night.
The last day wasn´t hard and was all down hill, we stopped in Ollantaytambo before carrying on to Aguas Calliente which is just below Machu Pichu. We were given the unfortunate news that we would have to be up at 3am so we didn´t do much in the evening. James went to the hot pools, but I went to the market with Perri and Moira to have a look round. We all had tea together and then were in bed (an actual bed yay!!!) by 8pm. P1030465.jpg
The morning was hell, but probally worth it. If you want to get to Machu Pichu before sunrise you have to queue up at 3 even though the buses don´t leave untill 5-30. Apparently in Peru people don´t understand the concept of queuing either, as we started quite close to the front, but the front seemed to get longer rather than the back of the queue. We got to Machu Pichu for sunrise and it was deffinatly worth it! I have never seen anything as impressive as Machu Pichu in my entire life! It was absolutely perfect!P1030276.jpg We climbed to the top first to take the picture that everyone has of Machu Pichu, and got a few group pictures too. Then we had a guided tour and were left to explore. Some some climbed Huayna Pichu, which is the huge mountain you see behind the city, but it looked terrifyingly steep so i backed out. It was so fantastic and for the most part there wasn´t a cloud in the sky. When you see pictures of Machu Pichu they don´t even begin to capture how high up it it or how big it is. It takes 25 minutes to just drive up the mountain, and the river underneath is barely recognisable from the city! And the city goes on behind the photos that you see, there are terraces to grow crops and storage houses. People keep saying that it was made for aliens, but i think that´s a bit stupid, scholors reckon that it was an observatory and also a refuge away from the jungle tribes (that are still in Peru and still dangerous!) P1030308.jpg
Today we had a lie in which was deffinatly needed!!! We went out last night with the trekking group which was really nice, but went to this crazy club where the dancers came into the crowd dressed in really creepy outfits. P1030486.jpgHave you ever seen the friends episode where Pheobe has those two creepy pictures of the dolls coming out of the canvas? Well those pictures were all around the club, along with hanging goblins and wierd masks. There´s a festival on in Cusco today but I don´t know what it is for. Everyone is dressed up and there is music playing everywhere.
James has caught whatever diesese I had n the trip and so he´s not been well this morning. We just have two days left in Cusco before going to Lake Titicaca and Puno and then Lima and Guatamala. It´s going so quickly!!!!!!
Love Aliss

Posted by AMellar 10:58 Archived in Peru Tagged football travel trek cruz del sur machu cusco pichu sas lares Comments (0)

End of New Zealand, a little bit of Chile and Peru [=

It has been ages....

sunny 30 °C

Why is it that everytime I write on here I find myself apologising for not writing sooner,but i didnt have time etc etc... Well thats how Im going to start again today.... In New Zealand we were so busy travelling around the country every day that we didnt have a chance to get on a computer once, let alone for a hour so i could write.
Anyway we met our parents at Auckland Airport, we told them we were meeting them at the hotel so when they saw us they were pretty much buzzing :) My grand parents came out two days later from Hong Kong too. Being in Auckland again was quite strange because we were seeing it from more than just a backpacker view. We were going to the harbour for dinner every night and having the most fantastic meals (meals we could have only dreamt of days before) and I actually found myself liking Auckland more than ever. It makes me wonder whether all the other countries we have been too could have been a completly different experience had we had the money.
I wont go into too much detail about the holiday, except for the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it! We did a lot of places that we did before like Roturoa and Queenstown etc but we also had the chance to visit Coramandel Bay, which was absolutely beautiful! and Napier aswell, which is a deffinate immigration possibility for me in years to come! They were out in New Zealand for three weeks, and we did a hell of a lot of travelling, almost everyday we were faced with a 6 hour or so journey. James and I got to do Milford Sound again, which we weren't all that happy about, but we had a difference experience all together. For one it was really sunny so we got the see the sound at it´s best, and whilst we were on the boat, about 20 or so bottlenose dolphins came and swam around the boat. Lily loved it!
It was pretty sad leaving the parents, (and not just because we got to eat really food for the first time in ages!) but in just 2 months we will be home... They had a later flight than us so we all went to the airport together and they waved us off (literally, they waited for the plane to take off and had been there aso long that the pilot actually waved to them!) We couldn´t get a straight flight to Peru so we had to go via Chile. We had a 10 and a hour hour flight to Santiago and then we would have had to wait in the airport for 17 hours!! There were no seats in the airport, nor anywhere to put our bags, so we decided to go and explore Chile instead. We found a taxi driver who was really helpful, the day we left had been the royal wedding at home and we couldn´t beleive it when the driver was saying he watched it! We hadnt even watched it! He took us to a hostel in the city center and we put down our bags. The time difference between New Zealand and Chile was 17 hours, so we actually got to Chile before we had even left Auckland, the day before... confusing... but anyway we had a nap but we literally couldn´t eat because we were so tired and couldn´t sleep because we were so hungry! So instead we went for a walk. Santiago was really lovely. It had a huge government building which they call ´the palace´and i was taking photos but getting some very funny looks off armed guards so Im not sure if i was meant to or not. One thing that struck us about Chile was the graffiti everywhere! On beautiful old colonial buildings and on pavements and streets, not even good graffiti, just the kind where you do your name in a little squiggle. We spent about 3 hours walking around and we went to see the famous library there and some of the beautiful catholic churches. There was a place we saw on a hill that people were climbing which looked fantastic but we couldn´t figure out how to get up to it. we didnt see one other tourist there! We went to bed at about 6pm and slept until one, using the remainder of our morning to play Gin Rummy.
P1010989.jpg This was Chile from our hostel room at sunset.
When we got to Lima the next day we were picked up from the airport by someone from our project. I dont know how we managed to actually get through the airport as literally everything and everyone was spanish (and we didnt know a word of it!) but i had my Latin American phrasebook which was a life saver!!! we were put up in a hotel on the main strip in Lima for a night and in the evening we had a walk around. There was a ´Plaza´(square) full of artists painting religious pictures and in the corner there was a cultural dance festival going on so i took lots of photos! We risked it and went to one of the cheaper restaurants in Lima and both ended up having ´Peruvian Pesto´because that was the only thing we understood on the menu! P1020011.jpg This is the peruvian dancing we saw!
The next day we had a flight to Cusco where we would actually start our project in Peru. On the flight (which was delayed by 3 hours!!! and on a plane which had a great big hole in the side of it!) we met the two people we were doing our project with, a nurse called Perri and a lady who worked in the wine buisiness- Moira. We were picked up in Cusco by our new host family who are absolutely lovely (but speak no english!) There is a grandmother called Evelia, her daughter Cynthia and Cynthia´s daughter called Evelia as well. The moment we got there we were given a huge 3 course meal! Lunch is the big meal of the day in South America so we had everything imaginable! And then we played Jenga (for the first time in years!) with the little girl. We were given a quick tour of Cusco city by Evelia which was really helpful and then we slept for the rest of the day.
The next day we had our first day of Spanish school. James and I were put into the beginners group with Perri and a teacher called Alberto who was hilarious! The school actually really helped us, I am now understanding pretty much everything people are saying to me. I can´t speak much still but i understand the basic works and can just about string a sentance together. Hopefully by the end of our time in South America we´ll be even better. Alberto was really funny anyway, we had to sing a song called ´Me Gusta´which apparently is really famous (but crap!) but it was basically about a stoned Peruvian man who likes drugs... Alberto asked us to write down the works for drugs in English and when we asked him why he said, in broken english, ´because i sell..´ there was a really awkward silence for a moment before we realised he was joking!P1020211.jpg This is our class!
We had our first Peruvian night out on the friday we finished Spanish School and it was really good fun. First we went to a salsa club and this old man made Perri and I salsa with him, he lept standing on my toes and made them bleed! perri and I did a salsa lesson in the school but we were so terrible that we had planned to never do it again!!!P1020246.jpg Me and our Salsa friend!
We had a really good first weekend here too where we went on a free tour around all the sights in Cusco. There are some absolutely incredible places here! My favourite was a place called Óllyantambo´(but i don´t think that is how you spell it) which is an Inca village on a mountain, not too far from Machu Pichu. It was so big and so cleverly made i couldn´t beleive it! There are two huge faces built into the rock and on summer and winter solstice the sun sets in the mouth of the faces!
For the last week or so we have been volunteering in a pre-school for children aged 2-6 whose parents work and would have no other place to go, other than the streets. They were really cute and were really nice to teach, although I didnt feel like we acheived much because most of the time Moira James and I were just sorting out papers there! There was one little boy called ´Diego´who was an absolute nightmare! He clearly had ADHD or something like that but he was bouncing off the walls, and his favourite activity was to spit at James, which as you can imagine, he wasnt happy about! and one day he ran out of the school and I had to chase him all the way up the road!
This weekend James, Perri and I went to Nazca on a long 14 hour coach journey to see the Nazca lines. We booked a flight over them and it was absolutely terrifying! The plane was turning over and going from side to side! About half the plane was throwing up and I thought i was going to faint! It truly was a fantastic sight though, you can´t beleive what the Nazca people managed to do so many years ago. They think that they were created as an offering to their Gods to bring them water, but no one will ever really know. We also went to this cemetary which is in the middle of the desert and has loads of bodies for 500 BC, and we went to a mud temple in the desert too which was also really impressive!
Tonight we go home to Cusco and then tomorrow we do our trek to Machu Pichu!! I´m really excited about seeing it!
And just a quick note and apology to those who do not like my spelling.... I would like you to try and write up weeks worth of travelling in under an hour and tell me how it goes :)
Love Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 12:15 Archived in Peru Tagged lima chile cusco nazca Comments (0)

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