Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Post 7 - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu then home.

After some negotiation it was decided that I should 'stop moaning and just go'. So I did.

Early start yet again and our taxi dropped us off at a petrol station in Urubamba. Absolute pandemonium. There were taxis, buses, tuk tuks, motorbikes, tractors even llamas all fighting to get into the petrol station. I have no idea where they put the pump in the llama.

Thirteen folk in our group, two Scots, two Canadians, two Danish and seven Americanos.
We secured the most experienced guide in Bernardo, and off we set. Pretty short and easy first day took us to the first campsite which I can only describe as very basic. The place was 'under construction' or possibly demolition. Our tent was apart from the others for some reason and we shared a room, or field even, with a donkey a sheep and some chickens. Early to bed as the second day is legendary as being a bugger of a hike, we were woken up often with either the sheep or donkey munching round the tent and also leaning against it waking us up. The tent was too wee for me so we'd move to diagonal sleeping from day two.....

The toilets were pretty bogging, pun intended, but compared to the next two days were a breath of fresh air. I do have to tell you about Gina's first lunchtime trip to the toilets though........

So off she goes to the block where you stand astride a hole in the ground. As she squats her sunglasses fall off her head, bounce forwards and then backwards, and one of the lenses from her £200 Oakleys goes straight down the hole. Now the hole contained numerous soft squidgy brown parts donated from other people and some nice females had contributed their sanitary ware too so a nice mixture. Gina unperturbed, gets her hand in there to scoop about trying to find the missing lens. You would think that after a minute or so of rummaging in this fine mixture she'd give up but no...., she invited the guide to the party too and after donning a natty scarf around his mouth in he goes but this time up to the elbow. A glorious and noble attempt but sadly no joy, plenty jobby but no joy. This is a story to keep forever I think. I'll leave you to think about it....... Lovely

Up early for the notorious second day. I don't think we've ever experienced such a slog. For those of you who have walked the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, this is easily ten times worse and there's no gondola to get you back down again. Thousands and thousands of steep steps both up to the highest point and then back down again. Nightmare but we managed it. Not much to see on this day as lots of the time we were in shade and to be honest we couldn't lift our eyes anyways as the steps were so treacherous. A long horrible slog got us eventually to the campsite where we managed to avoid going to the toilets. Me because they were hideous. I had to keep Gina from playing in them.

Day three we had a sixteen kilometre walk to look forward to but as it was nicer to view and not as high/painful, the time passed quickly and we were soon at the final camp. We managed to get a lovely site just above the toilets and the aroma of fresh and stale pee mixed with the delights of multo jobbies that hadn't managed to meet the hole in the ground, made for an unpleasant few hours. Thankfully, and I never thought I'd ever say this, we were up for 3am to start the walk/jog in the dark to Machu Picchu.
The race was on to get to Machu Picchu before our traumatised bowels gave up the ghost and insisted we allow the 'train carriages to leave the station'. We eventually made it to Machu Picchu just in time before Gina exploded.

I'm not going to go into what Machu Picchu was like as I could never do it justice but it was truly amazing, a wonder of the world indeed and it felt better to have done the Inca Trail prior for some reason. Watching the 'tourists' get off the bus gave us a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of superiority........

A night in Aguas Calientes was had in the Rupawasi Lodge and sure enough it was up a steep bloody hill to get to it. Fortunately it and the Tree Top Restaurant were top class, comfortable, had great views and we slept great. Gina as she was dog tired, me cos I was pig drunk.

There is a sad end to the story of the Inca Trail though and I neither want sympathy nor donations. The fluff I had collected over the three weeks has either been lost or more likely stolen. The Danes we met on the trail had their camera stolen on their last day in Lima. I feel similarly aggrieved losing my fluff which is irreplaceable having been made in Peru in such trying circumstances.

Reward offered for said fluff...

One and a half days were spent in Cusco where Gina did her best to add to the crystal stones, Peru artifacts, Peru alpaca textiles collection and we had to get more dosh from el banks.

A marathon 25 hour journey got us home to a nice welcome home surprise from Heather who had hid in the airport waiting for us.

Sleep, and then more sleep in prep for Europe.. To be continued

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Post 6 - The Green House, near Urubamba

The Green House

Arrived at the Green House B&B at approximately 11.30ish and were asked a pretty horrible question. "Would you like to watch the World Cup semi final at one of the neighbours and have some beers?" Now this is a difficult question for any man to be asked so you can work out the following. "Drainpipe a up a rat like"

Gina decided to stay behind and stay in the garden, watch the hummingbirds and chill.

Kelly, the current owner of the Green House, took me down to the neighbours a whole three doors away, who turned out to be the former owners of the Green House, and also turned out to be soup herb hosts.

We can understand why the Green House is number 1 in TripAdvisor as the place is not only fantastic but the house, gardens (to Gina's delight full of hummingbirds and stunning views up to the mountains) and surroundings are beautiful. We were warmly welcomed and couldn't have been treated any better. Home from home comfort. Fantastic dining too if you choose to stay home for dinner.

After a few beers, at half time, I nipped up to see if Gina fancied coming down to join us as there was a whole gamut of folk including Bernhard, the local shaman who Gina had an appointment with.

Sadly she was too tired so decided to stay put but while passing I bumped into a couple of yanks.

Dustin from Hawaii, worked for Noah, a maritime operation based offshore. In reality he is Dirk Pitt, a secret agent who works for the USA in clandestine operations but of course he denied it. His wife Ally, is a professional teacher in photography, but in her spare time takes pictures of nude male models but again, like Dirk, denies this too. Hawaiian people are so weird....

Seriously though, Dustin/Dirk, invited us over to Hawaii so he could play tour guide and teach us to body surf and swim. The issue here is that I struggled to think what I could exchange. Maybe they could come to Bathgate and count the muffin tops or see how many orange faces and white necks  they could count.... An unfair swap in my opinion but I suppose it's a good base for Edinburgh Glasgow Stirling and the highlands..

The following day we spent in Maray, Maras and Salinas with Dustin and Ally and it was a smashing day. Plenty to see and do and by getting a taxi we managed to avoid those bloody tourists. I hate tourists.

Next few days were spent doing "Gina things" so didn't spend any further time with the guys from 5/0 but hopefully we can keep in touch.

Liz, a strange girl from the USA, who spends her time in wellies skipping in the garden, or trying to blow into the fireplace, made a lovely speech telling us that Kelly and Sergio, were to be married in North Peru, and forced us to drink champagne and Pisco cocktails. Man, sometimes it's a hard life.

Next day we nipped off to Ollyantatambo on the local buses. The first bus was no issue but from Urubamba Gina had the misfortune of having some guys ass, who hadn't washed his kegs for a good few days, right in front of her nose and sometimes on it. I missed this as she was sitting behind me. I had his friends female ass rubbing on my arm all the way and I wasn't complaining but don't tell Gina.

Ollyantatambo was very impressive but we didn't stay too long as Gina was keen to get on the bus to see if she could another dose of unwashed ass.

We travelled to Calca where Kelly's friends owned a cafe and were showing the final. Good food and many beers but unfortunately the Germans won which was a bummer as all in the pub bar two were supporting the Argies.

Last night in the Green House and we're advised that instead of being picked up we have to carry two suit cases, two roll top bags and two backpacks to a petrol station in Urubamba which is miles away. I have advised them that they can shove this up their jacksi and the next post will describe whether we make it to the Inca Trail, or Gina goes alone as I am not carrying my kit to Urubamba.  To be continued.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Post 5 - Ausangate, a big assed mountain climb for 5 days


Catherine is very meticulous, organised and pernickety. There may be slight deviations from her diary to this blog but I take no responsibility for any disparities as there is a slight chance I might actually be right.

Day 1 Ausangate

We were collected early morning by Liz and Alfredo from Andean Travel. We met Jason and Katerina from Colorado in the minibus and travelled back towards Puno for approximately four hours. The journey wasn't too bad until we turned off the main road and accessed a dirt track road. This took possibly 1.5 hours and reminded me of the road of death in Columbia. It didn't help that I got carsick. Lunch was within a derelict roofless building, held on tablecloths with a chef, proper cutlery and was in the company of a horse. It tasted fantastic (the food not the horse) and was a sign of the standard of the cuisine to come. The first trek started after we were suitably stuffed and even though being extremely out of breath, we managed the short first day. The lodge was a huge surprise as it was obvious that it was a high class of lodge. The lodges, being the highest in the world, were a partnership between the Chillca village locals and Andean Travel. No-one else can use the lodges so we had a pretty unique experience. On arrival we met Catherine and Sarah who had arrived the night before and had been out for a six hour trek, we also met the official guide Rene. Liz and Alfredo were guides themselves but were there to learn the route for future guiding.

Dinner was a way of introducing everyone to everyone properly and we prepared for the second day which was to be a nine mile hike at approx 4800 metres

Day 2 ausangate

We both had mega headaches due to the altitudes so the trek was a bit difficult. Gina's head got to an 8 out of 10 on the pain scale and then the nauseasm started. It got to the stage that she was forced to take the emergency horse up the hill. If it wasn't for the horse I sincerely thought we would have been in serious trouble. We arrived at the highest lodge in the world with views up to the glacier that was oozing down from Apu Ausangate which is the mountain that is honoured and worshipped by the people of the Andes. The day seemed to last forever but eventually we got Gina to bed, medicated and heated with multiple water bottles. The camera stopped working this day for no reason, Not a good day all in all as there was no beer available that night.

Day 3 ausangate

6.30 wake up call as per usual. Gina much improved but a pretty poor sleep for me so I have a headache before we start and I'm also cream crackered. The camera returned to life for an hour or so. After the usual superb breakfast we ventured outside for a ceremony to provide offerings to the Ausangate 'god'. The offering comprised of many herbs such as incense and aniseed, seeds, trinkets representing the stars the sun the moon, made of gold and silverlike materials and lots of coca leaves. We had to line up on two sides and were given an alpaca skin which contained a pouch containing coca leaves. The skins were taken from premature or stillborn alpacas so no cruelty occurred. We were given coca leaves as well and were shown how to blow on them while offering to the Ausangate which we had to face. Once done we were shown how the locals decorated the ears of the llamas to show which ones were leaders. I have to confess that it didn't look too nice seeing the big knitting needles going through its ears multiple times, there was a fair bit of blood. Gina had to leave the scene. I had to endure it. I've never been one for hurting animals. People, no problem, but not animals....

We had a steep start to the day which was difficult as we'd just been stuffed. Gina feeling much better than the previous day managed much better. Slow but sure as the altitude was still a killer.

As we traversed round Ausangate we passed a number of valleys, lagoons, glaciers, glacier lakes, settlements and fields of llamas, the scenery changed beyond belief, I'm sure the photos won't do justice in any way.

Lunch by a small lake was the usual high fare, the locals often had to hold the tent down by the guy ropes due to intermittent gusts.

After lunch it was less than two miles to the lodge but obviously it was circuitious, plenty ups and downs, under a fierce winter sun.

Hot shower in a freezing room meant a quick dress up and straight through to the communal fire. Popcorn, Mate, Twix and a beer made things a bit gooder.

A wee beer leads to some good grub which leads to some star gazing, a wee beer then early to bed. The lodges have no heating and it is absolutely Baltic. I don't usually feel the cold but I now understand why we need the tweezers. Hunt the walnut whip is not much fun when standing in a freezer desperate to pee.

If you would like to experience part of the fun of Peru in the winter, particularly the lodges then try the following

Wait until Jan/Feb if in the UK
Put your toiletries and clothes outside
Get naked or if you're a sissy wear a pair of kegs
Brush your teeth/have a pee/whatever you would normally do
Get your creams (frozen). and deodorants (frozen) on
Put on clothes

This will give you a nice warm feel as to how it is each night and each morning and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Day 4 started like the others. A braw breakfast then up a big bloody hill. It wasn't as bad as Day 3 but still hard enough. We were making our way to the final Andean lodge so were going away from Ausangate and decreasing in altitude slightly. This is a difficult day to describe suffice to say that every hour showed a new and amazing pass. Some covered in snow, some dark rock, some red, some grass and some even multicoloured strata which was absolutely stunning.

As we approached the final lodge, one of the locals performed Pututu, which in our case was used to welcome honoured guests but normally the seashell horn is used to call the local villagers together for community or communal meetings.

After dinner the Chilca locals performed for us. Julio played a sixteen string guitar while one of the house girls sang. When done we had to take turns dancing which was absolutely knackering as we'd walked so long, were so tired and were still at altitude. A good final night in the mountains.

We went to bed with our electrical items. Something we'd do each night. I slept with my iPhone iPad and head torch. Gina with her head torch and phone.

Each evening the guys would leave a hot water bottle in our beds due to the lack of heating in the bedrooms and bathrooms. I have a confession to make. The hot water bottles are wrapped in alpaca coverings so that you don't burn yourself. When I woke in the morning I discovered a naked water bottle in my bed. It wasn't smoking a cigarette or anything like that but it was a bit worrying. I wonder what Freud would make of it. Seriously though, no hot water bottles were hurt in the making of this blog.

Day 5 the final day of the Ausangate trek.

A later start than normal kicked off with yet another steep ascent first thing. Fortunately it was a short 45 minute slog. Most of us were out of breath though so it was a bit humbling to hear our horse guide playing the flute while carrying a heavy pack and guiding the emergency horse.

A few hours later, passing by some amazing sights we met the local weavers who made assorted items from alpaca wool. Gina bought a couple of "willy winkie" hats for the kids. Let's see if they wear them. G here .... The hats suit me just fine so we can share.

Eventually after many stops we reached the tent for our final lunch. The guys played and sang for us again and then we presented them with their tips and said our goodbyes.

Then most of them got into the minibus and came with us to Cusco!! We had to say goodbye yet again. (And Brazil got beat 7-1)

The six tourists and Liz and Alfredo agreed to meet for some Pisco Sours to bid our own farewells. Catherine and Sarah had great intentions to leave at 8 for their meal but Pisco said no.

I fortified myself with an Alpaca burger where's the rest had nibbles of prawns. Not surprisingly the Pisco girls were quickly blootered, Catherine especially. Really funny.

Eventually Catherine and Sarah bid their Adios's and staggered either home or to the restaurant, I don't know which. Hopefully we'll see them again. Both true ambassadors for old engerland. The remainder of us went to a locals Disco where after some normal tracks they introduced an authentic Peruvian group who were absolutely mind blowing in their presence, aura and the tribal mood they introduced. Gina danced and danced and danced most likely till her Pisco worked off. G .. Fab soul dancing music and i don't mean music of the early 80's

Unfortunately the group had to end, Jason was poured into a taxi by Katerina, and shortly afterwards we made our way home, shepherded by Liz and Alfredo who we must thank again for their help, assistance and friendship throughout the trip.

Final thoughts on Ausangate. I was very disappointed that my facial hair doesn't grow great at altitude as I was hoping for the grizzly look but more importantly, the harvest of belly button fluff was extremely poor. Just a word of warning for any of you........

Gina. Extremely challenging trek due to the altitude. However it is an uplifting energising spiritual trek. Spectacular scenery, wonderful people. Def worth the effort a totally unforgettable experience. Taught me respect for the mountain, the mountain people, and myself and oh horses! The whole team were a great help and support getting me through some very difficult moments during the trek. Alfredo and Liz kept a close eye on my condition the whole way. Much appreciated. Sarah taught me how to hike at altitude and how to accept and work with my ability. Really helped and before long I was getting the hang of it and doing ok.  This was marvellous as I was becoming demoralised with being sick and always trailing behind with the emergency horse at my heels. Most upsetting when you are missing all the banter and laughs up ahead.  I also have to say here that Allan was there for me every step of the way. He showed immense dedication to me especially when he had to practically run up a steep hill so that he didn't lose sight of me on the horse.  Most grateful Ally x

Next stop, the green house near Urubamba

Post 4 - The big choo choo trip from Puno to Cusco

Puno to Cusco with Andean Railways

On the face of it a ten hour journey on a train doesn't sound like too much fun but it couldn't be further from the truth.

The carriages were first class and the train luxurious. We started off running through the main town of Puno, flanked by cars and buses which was a bit bizarre. The driver 'honking' all the time to warn any cars, people, dogs, sheep cows etc that they better move.

Eventually we got out into the wilds and started climbing. The back end of the train was open and the remainder glass covered for ultimate viewing. Stunning.

We had a band from Puno entertaining us by playing many instruments, many at once, plus we had a dancer who invited Gina up for a wee jig.

They fed and watered us continually before introducing a fashion show, a Pisco Sour demo and another band this time from Cusco. I had to dance this time. I'm sure the tourists were spellbound.

11 hours after departure (the times always differ from the supposed durations) we arrived in Cusco at our hostel.  Tired but happy and a great and worthwhile trip.

Gina here. Well I just love travelling by train and have a soft spot for slow trains my dad having been a steam train driver for many years. The journey took us through spectacular wild Wild West kind of scenery flanked by marvellous mountain views. It was fabulous being able to hang out from the viewing platform with the wind lightly blowing in your face whilst taking in the views. Our carriage was next to the lounge bar and best of all there was cocktails on the menu. Helped us both with our dancing skills.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Post 3 - Puno to Lake Titicaca

Note - having trouble getting photos on via tablet so have had to resort to Facebook if anyone wants to see some of the pics. Thanks

Monday morning 4am rise, mainly due to jet lag and the altitude sickness forcing us to kip early the night before. As we were about to leave for our boat trip I asked reception for some oxygen for Gina as she was suffering terribly. Five minutes of free pure oxygen helped a bit and off we went. The boat waited on us and we ventured off to our first stop which was a true life community staying on a floating bed of reeds. Twice a month they put a new covering of reeds over the existing as the lower reeds rot away. The houses and boats are also made of the reeds and one of their staple diet is, you guessed it, reeds. The island must cover about 20 metres by 20 metres and housed four families. Up until recently, having lived in their own bubble, they married whoever was available, sisters and brothers getting married is very common indeed to them, natural and they've only been recently been educated by the government what the dangers and issues there could be. If they could introduce that in Bathgate and Armadale then things wouldn't be so ugly. The guide advised that the kids were now forced to go to school and not surprisingly it was tres difficult to get them to return. They thought the tribes would die out in approximately ten years so it was a privilege and honour to see this before it disappeared for ever.

Amantani is the name of the island that we sailed to next and this is where we'd stay overnight. Now I thought we were staying with natives in the straw huts that we'd just seen so we had taken sleeping bags, inflatable pillows, mosquito netting, bags of cleaning /hygiene products so imagine our surprise when we were introduced to our family and shown to our room which had lights, a bed, windows etc. What an eejit!!

Now don't get me wrong there was no running water,  there was an outside non flushing toilet and the place was as bare as could be but nowhere near the hardship we were prepared for. To be honest we're not sure if we were disappointed in not living like a native for a whole night.

We were collected by the family we were to stay with and began the ascent to their house. A distance and elevation we could normally do without breaking a sweat was like climbing a mountain, we were so weak with altitude sickness.

Maleyano introduced us to his lovely wife Patricia. The tres 'ninos' being at school. Conversation was interesting as they spoke espanyol or Quechua. Thankfully my weeks of training allowed me to ask primary school questions..

Their house had steps going up with no balustrade on one side, steel spikes sticking out from the roof, ginger bottles were used to continue the guttering but best of all the access to their part of the house was via planks.. The platform to their front door held up via two thick branches. The kitchen and dining room were separate, held in what looked like an outhouse. The cooking was via a stone oven ie you heat your stones and then once warmed up put pots and pans on them. Regardless of the method the vegetarian meals were superb. We were treated as honoured guests and got the best seats in the area. There weren't enough seats for all so the parents sat on child seats to eat their meals. After lunch the whole tourist group walked to the top of the sacred hill named Pachapapa. Again this was very painful on the head but we got their eventually. To show what pussies we were there were loads of old women up there already who had set out their wares for sale. So basically they made it up the hill with a full pack which included all types of woollen wear, beer, waters and confectionary for the soft gringos.

The sunset was amazing and we ventured down to get dinner and get ready for the discotheque. We were dressed up as locals by the locals to show that we were welcome and honoured guests and as soon as the pan pipe band started the floor filled and the most amazing dancing ensued. The standard was so high I looked like a good dancer. Unfortunately headaches took over and we retreated early to bed. Our host was gutted as we were buying him drink and he in turn shared it with his mates.

We said our goodbyes the following morning after pancakes. Patricia walked out us down to the harbour and waved us off. Prior to this the kids gave us big hugs and smiles before they left for school. A truly memorable and humbling experience. They have so little yet seem so happy. No facetube or britains got no talent for them. Lucky b stards.

Stopped at taquile and after yet more hiking to an altitude of 3900 metres had a fantastic lunch in fantastic scenery but the place had moved on commercially from Amantani and especially Uros and it was kind of sad to see the locals wearing football tops and offering to allow you to take pictures of them in exchange for money. Interesting to see the different levels though.

Early bed again as we can't catch up yet. Up at 6 again to get the 10 hour train journey from Puno to  Cusco which will be detailed in part 4.

See below for Gina's thoughts on the trip to visit the different locals. Enjoy.

Arriving in juliaca to the sight of cheerful smiling faces and the sound of traditional intense happy music being played by airport staff in traditional dress while we waited for our luggage was my first overwhelming spilling of water from eyes experience...

I just knew all the suffering from vaccinations and now altitude sickness was going to be very worth it.

The people of this part of the country that we have encountered so far truly appreciate the tourist and you can see from the ear to ear smile and the hug and very often the kiss on your cheek they have grateful hearts when you show appreciation for the welcome and assistance they provide for you.

Sesgulls scavenging at puerto puno brings a smile to my face. For those of you who know me will understand my love of seagulls. ..

The morning of the start of our trip on lake titicaca I was very unwell with the effects of altitude. Our tour guide and hotel staff couldn't have been more understanding by supplying oxygen for me and sending a message to the captain of our boat to wait for us.

Oxygen, altitude sickness medication and a wee snooze was just the recipe to get me sitting on top of the boat with the sun shining and a cool breeze to welcome my next overwhelming experience of seeing and being with a wonder of nature that Lake Titicaca is. It is so vast you feel you are sailing through a calm ocean with views of huge snow covered mountains in the distance. I can't quite describe the awe but I do know it filled me with a feeling of warm positive energy gifting me with a reminder that we are all connected. My soul was singing with joy especially as  a solitary seagull circled above in the clear blue sky.. I knew my Dad's spirit was guiding and protecting like he always has and always will. I am sure he will enjoy every part of this journey as much as me if not more as he just loved to travel.

Our trip on Lake Titicaca took us to visit some of the original remaining Uro people living on floating reed islands. We were welcomed with open arms and smiling faces.  They had laid out their hours of work in homemade craft items and the ladies sat feeding their babies whilst knitting and hopefully selling a few items to help with the family income so that they could pay for some schooling for their children.  Geez we in the west really have been so spolied. You can read or watch documentaries but boy oh boy actually spending time with these wonderful people doesn't just fill your mind with knowledge but also your body and soul gets to feel it too.

You will hear these words often "awe"  and "overwhelmed".

Arriving at the island of Amantani.
All the families our group would be staying with were waiting at the Puerto. Traditional Sunday best attire, smiling and genuinely welcoming.  Massive step back in time.  Basic of basics, all manual labour by way of human or animal strengh.  No fridges, hobs or fan assisted ovens not even a sink just buckets where you sit or kneel down to wash and rinse your dishes. Simple but hard working life but happy contented people.  We were returning from a temple of worship on top of a hill having worshiped and sent our intentions to Father Sun as it set. Benjamin a sweet 7 year old boy from our family climbed up the mountain to help guide us down in the dark.  He ran to meet me, looked up at me with a huge smile, hugged and kissed me, took my hand and gingerly guided me down using a small head torch all the to my room. He then came to our room to guide me down to their out house kitchen to join him his sisters, mum and dad for a very tasty meal. Overwhelmed to the brink of tears again.  These people just radiate love all around them.

Later that evening after some very passionate music and dance I stood staring up in awe at a galaxy of the brightest and the most stars I have ever witnessed. They appeared so close you just wanted to reach up to pick one, another universal wonder. Definitely a memorable vision to store for meditation.  Next morning our family waved us off in the same endearing way they greeted us and they waved and waved until our boat had sailed away out. A wonderful, wonderful experience.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Post 2 - Edinburgh to Lima and then Puno

A 2am wake up call is never good. Willing yourself to sleep as quick as possible seems to have the opposite effect and then if you do get to sleep there's that horrible nauseous feeling when you have to get up. Anyhoos.

The main purpose for school for guys is to play football, mess about, fight a wee bit and give the parents somewhere to send you to get peace for a while. Females however have a different remit and one of the learnings was made apparent to me, once again, as we were getting ready to leave.

Realising my best jeans were in the washing basket, 6 hours before we were due to leave, I was shown how to put in a wash. She tried explaining the complexities to me but after I'd asked what the "happy hour wash was" she just shook her head, pressed start and walked away. I hung up the jeans in the boiler cupboard to dry overnight and went to bed.

Next morning Gina walks into the bedroom with her nightdress from the cupboard in her hands and one of those looks only females can have on her disapproving face.

Apparently if you hang up wet washing together it can transmit dampness from one item to another. Now I did lots of science classes at school and not once was this mentioned.  After explaining this to her, her school training kicked in and she gave me one if those "men, you're so ******* stupid" looks and off she went having made her point without saying a word,,

Amsterdam was a brief stop, so not much to say here. Off we went via KLM.

They fed us on the plane and then they fed us again, and again, and again. I was wondering if they were fattening us up for something when we got to Lima. Gina was also asked when her baby was due (that bit´s a lie but I found it funny and it´s my blog)

Lima is like any other major city, big, loud and not that interesting. After arriving at Hotel Faraona we had a quick welcome drink in the bar where some old fella played the latest 70s track on his organ. Some organ by the way, he was very pleased with it and offered to show me it but I turned him down.

I´m not much of a farter.

I did however marry into a family of them. When I met Gina's family they would take great delight whenever one was produced. In fact even now it reduces them to tears. Bear in mind being a catholic family, they didn´t have much to keep them occupied and amused.

Global warming apparently is a major issue. Cars, cows, icebergs melting, all that kind of thing. I can´t say that the warming effect has made any difference in my house as Gina´s backside and feet are always bloody freezing.

Bear with me here as there is a link between both paragraphs above. On the flight to Lima, I must have broken wind hundreds and hundreds of times. Obviously it´s the pressurising and I suppose a couple of lagers helped too. I have never heard though of any university boffins measuring the effect of 500 people in a plane multiplied by however many planes that are in the sky, to see how that compares to the recognised established culprits. Just a thought.

Early start next morning and we flew internally with LAN airways. The stewardess was praying prior to takeoff and then after crossing herself and murmuring something, the plane started accelerating. I don´t think I´ve heard a worser sounding engine but two good things happened. One the engine didn´t break. Second I proved I could fart as much as a cow.

On arrival at the airport the staff donned their Peruvian mariachi costumes and played us a wee song while we waited on our cases. Once they´d collected the money they changed and let us out of the airport.
This is an interesting idea and I think Edinburgh airport staff should ask their staff to do their bit for the tourist industry.

Juliaca airport is approximamente 3800 metres up. I started to feel a bit woozy immediately but it died down once we got on the minibus to Puno.

Puno is a lovely town if you like unfinished building sites. The headaches started on both of us, me more than Gina and it got to the stage that I had to dope myself up. We met the guide and by this time Gina had followed suit and we struggled to concentrate on what was being said. The guide left us and returned 20 mins later with some "herbs" that would make us feel better so we slept with some plants on our pillows. As the herbs took effect Gina asked whether the altitude outside differed to that in the room. If I had only went to school to learn one of those withering looks...... So funny though..

The altitude steadily got worse and we were forced to start on the prescribed altitude tablets. Walking was a chore and the headaches were incredible. I got headaches, shortly after, Gina got headaches, I got pins and needles in my hands and feet, Gina got the same, I got nosebleeds, Gina got the same. The reason i´m telling you this is that if I start to get periods in the near future then you´ll know why.

We left next morning to go to meet the Uros people who live on a floating island made of reeds, then to stay overnight with a native family on Amantani and then the following day, sail to Taquile to see another tribe of Peruvian natives but this will be in Part 3.

PS. I´d be obliged if you could leave comments for me as it´s lonely here with all these bloody foreigners.

Alternatively send to and i´ll add for you.

Muchass gracias amigos, sorry no pictures posted but no can do on this pc and the tablet won´t allow either