Hola everybody, especially my dearly departed VentureCo buddies - its been so weird without you guys but I’ve just about got used to it now! Just to reassure everybody, I am doing amazingly well and having a great time on my own, which may be a shocker for some of you. I’m almost sad that I won’t be on my own anymore, although it will be nice to see Kirsty tomorrrow (provided they’ve reissued her ticket). Hannah has briefed me on safety tactics when travelling alone and I am complete with wedding ring and imaginary boyfriend who is always waiting for me and I think may be called Trevor, I always wear my glasses (!) and take notice of street names so I can find my way round and tell people that I am on my way to meet someone. Don’t worry though, some elements of the old Salonika remain - Chile is pretty bad for food in some places so the old diet of sanduche de queso con papas fritas still makes a regular appearance! Although the lack of anyone to discuss bowel movements etc. is a great disadvantage - how I long for Hannah!!
Al those ppl at uni, hope the exms went well and you’re all having in fun in sunny old England. Hgaving said that though, it’s probably better weather than here in Santiago. It’s winter here, so at the moment it’s grey and cloudy and bsolutely freezing. All i need is a little bit of drizzle and it’d be like lovely old Manchester!
Great news about the football, lthough this word cup has to be the stranget yet! What happened to France, Chile, Argentina, Portugal? At this rate, England might win!
Since we saw everyone off at the airport the pace has slowed doen quite a lot. We spent the next two days just chilling out iin Cusco, shopping (aagin) and stuff. At the weekend, we went on a 2day Pony trek upto some inca ruins(Huchuy Cusco) or something, except Hannah was realy ill on the second day. I woke up at 4am to hear her spewing her guts out. The trek was really nice though although up in the mountins so a little scary at times, especially when my stroppy mare refuse to move. We had this cut little guide who was telling us how his Mum had taught him to cook and stuff. He was just really sweet. Spent Monday and Tuesday just sightseeing and shopping and shit like that. Have visited many museums and feel muy cultured again and have given Hannah a huge bag of stuff to take home which I am very gratful for!
After that, it was an overnight bus (always a fave) on Tuesday evening to Arequipa. For someone reason i pid twice the price to have a semi-cama, but it just wasn’t. There was a meal of chicken (for the vegetarian) and a game of bingo though - well worth the extra cash i am sure you will agree! Arriving in Arequipa at 5m with nowhere to go is oneof those things that sond lke it should be quite scary but just isn’t. I rang a hostel to check they had room and then just got in a taxi. A slightly hairy moment when I was dozing in the back of the cab onlyto hear the screech of the brakes and the carb come t a hlat, whilst a little girl poicks herself up from in front of the car crying her eyes out. Luckily she wasn’t burt, but I was just bricking it - perhaps not the best way to strt things off. Really didn’t know what to do when a policeman came over, but nothing must have happen3ed cos the driver was allowed to go on.
Got to the hostal in one piece (just) and found myself staying in a dorm room with three American girls, who I don’t think appreciated being woken at 5.30am as they disappeard fast. Slept in for most of the morning and then booked myself on some trip into Colca canyon for two days. Left the next morning and we travelled on a big tourist bus into the national park, where we stopped at various points to see Vicunas and llamas and other such stuff. reached a high point of 4800m (as high as Mont Blanc the guide was keen to reiterate!) and from here we could see 7 peaks of the Arequipa area. Stopped for lunch at a little town in the valley called Chivay and from there went a bit further in the bus to take a walk up to the ruins of some Inca town that had to be abandoned under the commands iof the conquistadores. Our guide told us loads about the pre-Inca cultures that had lived in the valley and the customs they practised until theSpanish made them stop, which was really interesting. After that, we returned to Chivay and spent the evening in the thermal baths nerby.
Next morning we left at around 6m o go to the condor croos, to see condors rising on the mrning thermals. Really beautiful to see and there were so may of them, at times they came really close. Our guide told us more about the condors and their place in Inca society and why they were special and things like that and then even more about how they were’nt allowed to worship because it was forbidden by the conquistadores. We then returned to Arequpa, stopping at some viewpoints on the way and at a couple of villages.
Left Arequipa on Saturday morning for the bus ride to Tacna, got there in the lte afternoon and was then aharassed ny number of collectivo drivers whenall i wanted tyo do was check for Hannahs boots. Ended up snapping at some poor bloke in Spanish cos he just wouldn’t go away at whih point he ran away. think he was shocked to hear so much noise out of one so small! Made it across the border to Arica in one piece though! Spent all of Sunday in Arica which was boring, purely because nithing was open at all, and I was too lazy to wander out of the centre and go anywhere interesting. Glad to leave on the 22hr bus to La Serena.
Arrived in la Serena early on Tuesday morning and spent the day window shopping as the novelty of malls and department stores and bouiques was just too muc to resist. I was supposed to fgo on a trip to an observatory in the evening, but it was too cloudy and was also the next day which was a bit of a pain. Met an English girl, Marianne, and went with her the next day to Ovalle from where we went to the Elcanto valley which is famous for Petroglyphs and Pictographs made by peoplle from the Molle culture. Yesterday was my last day on La Serena, so i went to a couple of museums (archeology and Gonzalez Viudela) so m feeling very cultured now. Also got my hair cut cos it was in dire need and decided on a whim to get some lowlights put in as well. Not sure it was such a good idea to trust my hair to CXbilan hairdresser with qute a lot of frizz going on, but it looks OK now so I guess it doesn’t matter that she had to do it three times! Got the night bus to Santiago, where i am now. that was n intersting experience as the man I had the pleasure of sitting next to not only had an interminable nose picking habit (something I have noticed on nearly every bus now), he also snored really really loud. I attempted to jab him with my knees enough times to accidentally wake him up so that whlst he was awake and quiet, I could try and get bck to sleep quickly. Successfully managed to wake him ‘acidentally’ except as soon as I did, another man across the aisle started snoring, at which point I resigned my self to the fact I wouldn’t be getting any sleep.
So now I’m in Santiago and awaiting Kirsty’s arrival. It seems like a really nice place with lots going on, if a little cold (but nothing I’mnot used to) and this hostal’s really sociable. We’re having some sort of BBQ tonight so that shld be an excuse for a big piss up again.
Thanks for all your concern, but I have coped fine on my own so ha to all those people who took the piss and said I wouldn’t be ble to!
See you all later folks,
Love Salonika xxx