Friday, December 7, 2007

Home is where... well where is it?

Recently I have been thinking about Cape Town quite a bit. I have been thinking about the sights, the sounds, the smell and most of all the people. I'm not 100% why it's been on my mind this much lately, but I have a few theories. It could be because it's the end of the year, a time when many people reflect on their lives and the year that has past. It could perhaps be because I have been away from South Africa for around 21 months now. Then again it could be a reason that I haven't thought of...

The reason I'm bringing this up is that a few nights ago I was watching TV and came across a travel program about Cape Town. I guess I sort of expected myself to long for Cape Town and to want to be there again. But I didn't, well at least not as much as I thought I did. Consequently, my mind drifted back to the idea of 'home'. Some say "home is where the heart is" and The Temptations sang about their 'papa', saying that "wherever he laid his hat was his home"... What do I think? I'm not sure at the moment, but since seeing that travel show I'm honestly not sure where my heart is at the moment so I guess if anything I'm thinking about what The Temptations had to say...

For now I'm in Cusco and the way things stand at the moment I will be here until April 2008, or later... So for now this is where lay my (woollen) hat and my jacket... Does that make it home?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Bolivian (mis)adventure…

Recently, I spent a week on the road travelling through Puno to Bolivia. It was quite an adventure, especially the incidents at the border crossings. Firstly, when I went into Bolivia I was searched by the police (supposedly they were looking for drugs) and then the immigration guy gave me a hard time because I couldn’t give him a photocopy of my Bolivian visa. On my way back into Peru one of the immigration guys tried to tell me that they can’t let me into Peru and that I should perhaps come back in a few days. He used a number of excuses, one being that some people from other parts of Africa use fake South African passports to travel around and courier drugs. The truth came out a few minutes later when I asked if there’s anyone I can speak to about the situation or if there’s anything I could do. His response included the fact that while he won’t take any money one of his supervisors may need about $100 in order for the problem to be solved and for me to get back into Peru. In any case, I’m back in Peru and the time between the two border crossings was great. One thing that was on my mind is that I prayed about the whole border crossing situation after the first one and while there were people who seemed adamant that they were going to make the process difficult for me I still got through it all…

While the main reason for my going was related to my visa situation I also did some research for some travel books that we will be publishing at the club. I spent some time in Puno (Peru) where I had been a few months ago and then I went to Bolivia. I spent some time in a town called Copacabana (no, this is not the town Barry Manilow sings about) and from there I spent a night on La Isla Del Sol (the Island of the Sun). It is somewhere I would like to visit again some time. During the 3 hours hike from the north end to the south of the island all I could hear was the sounds of my breathing, the crunching of the dirt under my feet and the wind blowing across the island. It was quite a change from the taxis, dogs and other noise in Cusco.

While I am enjoying my time in Cusco the trip was an eye opener to other places, possibilities and so on. The way things stand at the moment I’m planning on being in Cusco for at least the next 6 months, but I don’t have a clue what is going to happen after that. Time will tell I guess…

You can see some pics from this trip using the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=30075&l=e1074&id=513421322

Monday, November 5, 2007

Really settling in…

I have been in Peru for nearly two-and-a-half months now and for most of that time I have been in Cusco. From my first day in this town it felt right being here and as time has passed I have felt more at home, although there are definitely still things about being here that feel strange to me at times. I have now found some means to be able to stay here and when that happened I had a strange feeling when I realised that I was actually going to be here for a few months and that it was more than just the idea it was when I was back in London. Some have asked what I’m doing here and how long I intend on being here so let me say this much…

There is an organisation called South American Explorers (SAE) that started about 30 years ago and provides travel info and, in some cities, a clubhouse for people travelling independently on the continent – take a look at
www.saexplorers.org for more on the club. I became a member at the clubhouse in Lima because I didn’t know anyone in Peru when I got here and when I arrived in Cusco I sought out the clubhouse here. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the clubhouse just using the free internet and hanging out with people. Fortunately I mentioned to the manager that I was looking for a job so I could stay in Cusco, because she had been looking for an assistant manager for the past few months. So I’m going to be working at the clubhouse and the job entails a number of things including some sales, accounting, marketing, general admin and whatever is required to ensure the running of the club. I’ve never done anything like this before so I guess it’s going to be quite an experience. I don’t know how long I’m going to be here and I don’t know what’ll come next. This is still where I know I need to be and I want to make the most of whatever time I have here. Okay, so financially it’s going to be a bit challenging but I think the experience as a whole and the new skills will be worth quite a bit.

So that’s the gist of what I’m going to be doing with my time while I’m here, at least for now. Who knows where it’s going to lead, after all just a few months ago I couldn’t have imagined this kind of opportunity falling into my lap. Okay, so that’s all from me for now. I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are…

¡Hasta luego!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Some new developments...

It’s been a while since I wrote anything and I figured with the recent developments taken place over here I should update you. I’ve been looking for some work over the past few weeks and things starting looking up about 8 days ago. The same day that I moved into more permanent accommodation I was offered a job by the manager of a travellers’ clubhouse (South American Explorers) where I have been hanging out lately. She had been trying to recruit an assistant manager for a few months now, but was unable get someone to commit to a minimum of 6 months until I came along. I had mentioned in passing that I was looking for something to do here in Cuzco and a few days later she offered me the job (I guess sitting on your butt just playing on the net can get you somewhere – LOL). Seriously though I’m looking forward to getting started there as I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to get some different experience and gain some new skills. Another development is that a language school I approached a few weeks back is interested in having me join them next month too. Fortunately, their classes are mostly after hours, so I’m hoping to juggle both jobs.

Other than that, there really isn’t much else to report that is out of the ordinary. I have been taking life easy for the last while and just enjoying life in Cuzco. A few days ago while walking home I had one of those this-is-my-life moments. I was walking along the road and for some reason stopped and just looked at the hills surrounding Cuzco. It was like waking up to the realisation that I’m in South America, in Cuzco all over again. I used to have those moments regularly in London too, when I would step back and be a bit amazed at where life has taken me. Last week, I was looking at some pictures taken around this time 2 years ago and there is such a huge contrast between my present and where I was then that I doubt I would have believed it if someone had told me that I’d be here in just 2 short years. I know that it’s so easy to take things and life for granted, but when I have those moments I realise once again how fortunate I am to live the life I am living, not to mention that I have my health etc…

Anyway, that’s all from me for now… As I sit here I’m thinking of the slogan used on the Nissan TV commercials a few years ago (I’m not sure if they still use it) – Life’s a journey, enjoy the ride…

¡Hasta luego!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The heart of the matter…

In my last blog I mentioned that I ate at an open air market here in Cuzco, well just last night I went to a church home group with some local friends and then went out for a bite to eat afterwards. I had heard about the kebabs that are served in local eateries, including the ones made with the meat from a cow’s heart. I was invited to try it and I have to say that it was really tender and quite enjoyable. Fortunately, the dodgy stomach that plagued me in Arequipa a few weeks ago has not shown up again so I have been able to really embrace the culinary experience of the locals - these friends are still trying to get me to try the roasted cuy (guinea pig) but I have not gone that far yet. If/when that does happen I’ll let you know if it lives up to all the hype.

Other than that there‘s not much to report other than I hope to be moving into an apartment in the next few days. It‘ll be a bit cheaper and getting there will not be as tiring as the uphill hike I have to deal with at the moment.

Anyway, I hope you‘re doing well… that‘s all from me for now…
¡Hasta luego!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A day in the life...

Yesterday was as interesting and educational day and definitely a memorable one. I needed to get up a bit earlier than I wanted to for a Saturday morning, but I was meeting one of the teachers at the Spanish school I attend because was just going to be hanging out with them for the morning. One of the guys was playing in a mini soccer tournament so we tagged along, but a few of us soon decided that we were going in search of food. I was then taken to a market on a plaza where as far I could see there wasn’t another tourist in sight - that was a nice change to the centre of Cuzco where in places it feels as though the tourist outnumber the locals. I was then taken to an outdoor food market which was an experience on its own. For one thing a number of the stalls had roasted cuy (that‘s guinea pig, yes the furry little rodents some of you keep as pets) lying there waiting to be served. Fortunately I wasn’t thrown in the deep end and just had a plate of whatever else was on offer. I am at times reluctant to eat in certain places, even back in South Africa, but I decided it would be an experience (as they say, when in Rome)… Well, about 24 hours I still seem to be okay…

The day didn’t end there though, because the evening was a bit of a contrast to the morning. I decided to attend a poker evening being hosted by South American Explorers, a travellers club belong to - the group included a Spaniard, an Australian, some Brits, some Americans and at least one Canadian… I went because their events are usually a good way to meet people and even though there was a small fee of s./10 (that’s about £1.60 or R22 in South African terms) I figured it’d be worth it. In any case I figured the fee was for the venue, a Cuban restaurant in town, but little did I know that it was a buy-in and that by the end of the evening I’d win and walk away with a bit of prize money… I’ve been planning on buying a local cell or mobile phone and it seems this prize money covers most of that. Now before your minds run away with you I don’t have my sights set on a World Series of Poker bracelet, it was just a great evening meeting and getting to know some new people and hang out at a local club afterwards.

So it was a day of contrasts, seeing two sides of this town that I hope will be home for the next few months… I‘ve been focusing on my Spanish lessons for the past few weeks, but this week I hope to find out a bit more about the job possibilities since I have not heard from any of the schools yet. So watch this space and I hope to have some news soon…

Monday, September 24, 2007

It‘s all about the money…

Written on 23 September 2007...

One of the lecturers at my previous once said (and this is a paraphrase) that economics and politics are two sides of the same coin, they cannot be separated. The reason I bring this up is that we live in a time where the political climate is hot and unstable (even though things may appear to be progressing etc at times). And, while that is all happening on a very global scale far away from where I am I see some of the economic effects where I am.

One of the stark contrasts I see here in Peru from day to day (and I know that this is not only true here) is the locals doing their best to get by and others coming from the “developed world” who may take weeks, months or even years out of their lives to travel and experience something different without the need to earn while doing that. And, yes I know that at least for now I fit into that second category. It’s as if a few hundred years ago this continent was a newfound piggybank for the new arrivals (they came, they saw, they stole, the killed) and now centuries later this same place is the playground for their descendents. I clearly don’t have solutions, but it just reminds me of something I said a while back. That is, that we live in a world where might is right and money buys that might… I know this may seem a bit of a leap, but the way I figure it terms like “colonialism” and “conquistadors” should not be relegated to the history books. Those terms are as relevant today as they were centuries ago; it has just taken a few different forms…

Machu Picchu... A birthday to remember…

Written on 23 September 2007...

So this past Friday was my birthday. And I have now been fortunate enough to spend a birthday in/on 3 continents/regions (and hopefully there may be more to come)… As a friend said in an email a few days ago birthdays are often a time for reflection on the past (the good, the bad and the ugly - LOL), thinking about the present and perhaps contemplating the future. Something else he said that I agree with is that fortunately I don’t need to have any definite answers about the future just yet.

When I first decided that I would be coming to Peru and that I would be here in September I figured it would be great to spend my birthday at Machu Picchu (a pre-Columbian city set high on a mountain top somewhere where the jungle meets the Andes). And yes I was able to do just that. In addition to all the reflection that usually goes on birthdays, well at least around my birthdays, this experience added a real surreal feeling to my birthday. It felt as though I had stepped into another world for a few hours. Although there was a small town just a few kilometres down the road there was no sign of civilisation from where I stood in the citadel. I thought about where and with whom I spent my last few birthdays, as that is at least an indication of what was going on at the time and I honestly could not have predicted that I would be where I am today.

I took quite a few pictures at Machu Picchu, but as I said to someone I was chatting to up there trying to capture it all with a camera is like trying to recreate the Mona Lisa with a pencil. So what came of all my reflection? As far as the future goes not much really, I don’t have any definite answers or ideas other than seeing where this current adventure takes me. I do have a sense of gratitude though, not only because I had the opportunity to have such a great birthday but just thinking about the people whose paths have crossed mine over the years and the challenges faced that I no longer face… Anyway, I’m going to stop my waffling. But if you’d like to see the pictures I have of Machu Picchu the link below should take you to an album I have on my Facebook profile (even if you’re not a member of Facebook)…

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=22148&l=c521f&id=513421322

¡Hasta luego!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Estoy aprendiendo a hablar Español...

The title means "I am learning Spanish to speak Spanish" (forgive me if there's a mistake there)... And, that has been the highlight of this past week. I have been taking 3 hours of lessons per day and will be taking a few more this week and possibly the week after that - it depends on the cash flow etc. It's he first time I have really committed to learning a new language and I'm loving it. I have noticed that I understand more of what's going on around me and the fact that I can take part (albeit in a limited fashion) in conversations in Spanish has been great...

Other than that the only other news is that I will be dropping a few copies of my CV off this week with some potential employers. So I hope to have more info on the job prospects in the not-too-distant future... Also, it's my birthday at the end of the week so I'm hoping to spend at least part of it up at Machu Picchu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu), because that has been an idea since I first thought about coming to Peru. It's going to be a bit pricey, but I think it's going to worthwhile...

Anyway, that's all from my side for now.

¡Hasta luego!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Getting on with things...

So there has not been much to report over the past few days. I have just been taking it easy here in Cuzco and trying to figure out which Spanish school to attend, where to live and where the job opportunities may be...

Well, I am starting some more Spanish lessons in about 90 minutes' time and may be moving into a room in an apartment type place this week. So it seems I may be getting a bit more settled. Also, I have been chatting to a few people who have given me the heads up on the TEFL seen here in Cuzco, so I hope to get my CV out this week. Let's hope things start happening sooner rather than later...

Anyway, that's about all I have to say for now. Just taking life easy at the moment, like I like it I guess...

¡Hasta luego!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What am I doing here?

Occasionally someone asks me why I came to Peru and how long I plan on being here? Well, there is a simple answer to that question I had reached the working limits of my visa in the UK and that I didn’t want to go back to South Africa yet. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, and some of you (like some I met in London or online since leaving Cape Town) don’t know the background story. So for those who want to know the ins and outs feel free to read further…

The reason I came to Peru is somewhat linked to the reason I left Cape Town for London at the beginning of 2006. By the end of 2005, my final year at college, I had become fed up with a number of things about life in Cape Town and to a large extent I felt like a pineapple on an apple tree. Also, there are some things I was going through spiritually that needed to move forward and I wanted that to happen. In the book of Jeremiah (in the Bible) God shows that prophet that He is sometimes like a potter who shapes the lives of people - in that context it was the nation of Israel and sometimes it is individuals. In my case I believe that he wanted to shape some stuff and change other things in my life at that point in my life and that he was going to take me out of Cape Town for a while to do just that. That’s how I ended up in London… And I can confirm that what I expected to happen did happen, but by the time I needed to leave London the process was not complete so that’s why I was not ready to head back to Cape Town yet.

As a result I prayed simple prayer at the end of March this year and simply asked Him what I was supposed to do now that my time in London had just about run out. And, it was in response that He gave me the idea to come to Peru to teach English. Now it’s just about impossible to explain in a few sentences exactly how that happened, but I know that it did. After all that’s why I’m here…
So I‘m here because this is where I believe God wants me to be at this time. There was no lightning in the sky; it was not a command that I dare not disobey. Rather it was a friend telling me that he wants to take me on this adventure, a continuation of the one that had already begun. Even though He gave me the idea to teach English I don’t know for sure if that’s going to be the focus of my time here or if it is simply going to be a necessary part of the process - in the same way that my working in London, as good as it was, was never the focus of my time there. I can’t explain the process or exactly where things are going, but I guess I can simply say that I’m doing my best living in the moment, one moment at a time. This is a simplified version of the story, but I think it contains the essential elements.


Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I know there could be things in what I have written that could seem strange, weird or even insane in what I had written, then again maybe not. Either way, feel free to drop me note a note, even if you think I’m chasing a myth… I’m out of here for now…

¡Hasta luego!

A rare specimen…

I have been in Peru for just over 2 weeks now and I have met people from just about every corner of the world. I have met, spoken to or chilled with people from: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, Israel, South Korea, Scotland, England and the USA to name a few… But I am yet to meet a fellow South African. the way I figure that is to be expected for a number of reasons, but it has led to some interesting reactions when people find out where I’m from. I guess it is cool… in a way… but I guess it would be tight to bump into a fellow "Saffa" over here…

Anyway… ¡Hasta luego!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Arrived safely in Cuzco...

Hi again...

So I have arrived in Cuzco in one piece and so far I like what I have seen in this town. I'm staying up on the side of a hill in an area called San Blas at the Hospedaje Familiar Kuntur Wasi. The owner seems like a cool person and although it's kinda cold (with no central heating) I like it. I'm probably going to have something cheaper because I'm going to be here for a while...

I have not started looking for work yet, but for the immediate future i plan on finding my feet, learning a bit more Spanish and checking out my options here...

That's all from my side for now, but I'll be back with more on what's happening up here in the mountains...

¡Hasta luego!


Floating Islands and stuff…

(Written on Monday...)

The past 2 days or so have been kind of brilliant. Firstly, the trip from Arequipa to Puno wasn’t all that comfortable, but the views were unbelievable. The lakes, mountains, hills, rivers, streams and alpacas or llamas grazing along the side of the road… At times it really felt as if I had stepped into another world or something…


So I arrived in Puno yesterday and this is definitely a record for me - 3,830m above sea level. As can be expected I felt a bit short of breath at times, but because I had spent over a week in Arequipa at about 2,350m it didn’t hit me as hard as it could have. The town of Puno sits on the shore of Lake Titicaca which is apparently the largest lake in South America and the world’s highest navigable lake with passenger services (okay, so that might seem like useless info but I thought I‘d throw it in anyway).

So one of the main reason people come here (apart from heading over to Bolivia from here) is to visit the Islas Floatantes (or floating islands) of the Uros people. And yes, they are what their name suggests man-made floating islands. Basically, the Uros people came under attack from the Incas and another group a few centuries ago and because they were more of a peaceful tribe they decided to start a whole new way of life by building these floating islands and isolating themselves. How do they do it? Well, I found it hard to believe before I went there. Basically, then men dive into the lake and cut out blocks of the lake bed with the roots of the totora reed. Once removed from the lake bed these blocks flaot, so they are tied together to form a platform on which to build their island which is anchored into the lake bed so it doesn’t float away. They then take more of those reeds and lay them on top of these floating platforms (up to 3 metres thick in places). These reeds have to be replaced continuously because they dry out on the surface and because they rot under the surface. They then also build their homes out of those reeds and boats (I went on a short trip on one of them). Anyway, this was definitely a highlight of my trip because other than a lifeless monument this tribes existence is an ongoing living monument to their ancestors.

Okay, that’s all from me for now so I’m out of here. By the way, I have loaded some of my pictures onto my Facebook profile…

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A place of contrasts…

Some time ago I was reading my Lonely Planet guide for Peru (LP is series of travel guides that many/most travellers use when visiting new countries, but in my limited experience is sometimes disputed by users and locals alike). Anyway, so I was reading a section on what Peru is all about and the books suggests that this is a "a nation on the brink" because it is "modernizing at a breakneck pace".

When I first read that I thought it is probably some hype to get people excited about seeing what there is to be found here. But the little bit that I have seen so far seems to go along with that description and this results in major contrasts.
While the new buildings I saw going up in Lima were interesting and the tourism business seems to be booming it‘s the contrast I have seen here in Arequipa that has caught my attention. There are modern shops lining old cobbled streets, restaurants in buildings that have probably seen this regions history unfold, not to mention the churches and other religious institutions some of which that have been standing for a few centuries.


And yet, it is a simple image that caught my eye on one of my first days here that stands out for me. I noticed that some of the women in this city (especially those who are a bit older) wearing what appears to be more traditional knitwear/clothing the basis of which has probably not changed for generations. This is contrasted by the suits worn by businessmen in the town centre, the likes of which I don’t think would be out of place in somewhere like Canary Wharf (a big-business area in London) not to mention the brand names that the younger Arequipeños (what the locals are called) are wearing.

Anyway, I don’t really have a point to make… I’m just sharing a few observations of what has caught my eye.

¡Hasta luego!

What has two humps and is found at the North Pole?

The answer to that question is: an extremely lost camel. Now please forgive me for starting this blog with that stupid, but I have a point. You see I was chatting to a good friend online earlier today and she said something about the plebs in Cape Town thinking that what I am doing is so adventurous. Now please understand that was her comment/thought, not mine.

The reason I am bringing it up is that I honestly feel like that lost camel, trying to figure out how exactly I ended up where I am now. I mean, the idea of me being an adventurer or something is not how I have ever seen myself, nor do I see myself that way now… Seriously, though I’m figuring this out as I go along and sometimes I look at the people I am meeting along the way and I feel even more clueless and lost than ever…

Anyway, I guess this is all (as I have said before) just part of the adventure…

¡Hasta luego!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lots on my mind... but still just a (not quite) short note...

Hi again, this blog is going to be a bit deeper than some so read at your own peril...

This has been a really crazy week. I landed in a new city (still getting used to being in a new country) and within less than 24 hours I am sick as a dog... The point is that being as sick as I was in a strange place, on my own and not being able to speak the local language really shook things up quite bit (actually the doctor was concerned I may have picked up a parasite somewhere - but I didn't). It got me thinking about a number of things including where home is, friends and what on earth I am doing in this country? The detailed answer to the last question is somewhat deep and long winded, but lets just say that that thought process was also at risk this week. I remember thinking on Tuesday that I just wanted to be around familiar people/places and wanted to get out of this place... I was also missing Cape Town and you people there more than I have in a long time, but I guess the combo of illness and a new place can do that to you...


Enough of my yapping... The point is that I am going to stick this out for now (the fact that I am feeling much better helps in a big way) and I'm going to keep the worst-case-scenario in my mind (actually it's not that bad). If things don't pan out over here I may buy a ticket to Cape Town and regroup - but don't take that as me promising that I am going to be in SA any time soon, because I really don't know...

Okay, enough about me... There are a few things I want to tell you about this city before I leave it, but I'll add that later this afternoon or this evening. So, for now... Hasta luego!

Monday, August 27, 2007

... all part of the adventure, I guess.

So I went to see a doctor this morning as I was a bit concerned about getting dehydrated (no explanation required). And, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that it seems I don´t have and perhaps didn´t have altitude sickness. The bad news is that I probably got sick because of something I ate.

The reason I say it´s good news that it´s not altitude sickness is that if I did have it at this low altitude (about 2,300m) then my plans to visit other places at higher altitudes were not looking good. But, seeing as that is not the case there is a possibility that I may not have extreme reactions to the higher altitudes - although this is still a possibility. The bad news means that I can´t have any fruit, salads, alcohol, mayo and one or two other things. At least I manage to get some anti-biotics so hopefully it will clear up in the next day or so...


As far as the title of this blog goes that is the motto I am trying to work with at the moment. The crappy hostel in Lima, the illness here in Arequipa, meeting cool people from all over the world and whatever else happens is all part of the adventure... Oh, and speaking of people from all over the world I thought this was a bit random - I just met a group of South Korean travellers who were taught English by a South African named Larry here in Peru. Well, I thought that was kinda unexpected... Well, that´s enough from me for now.

PS: Thanks for the emails etc checking up on me...

¡Hasta luego!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

So what´s it really like?

I realised that most of my blogs lately have been about what I have been up to and not really about my surroundings - and I´ve received a few emails asking me what´s it´s really like over here. So...

On Monday I landed in Lima and I stayed in the touristy (is that a word?) area of Miraflores. Parts of it were okay, but as a whole there were just way too many cars, buses, taxis etc and at times the air pollution from all those vehicles was really bad (especially when walking into town). It felt as though everyone was in a hurry or they were rushing off to be somewhere. In addition to that I didn´t find there was really much to see. As I said in an earlier blog I spent a day in the centre of town, but that wasn´t enough to convince me to stick around.


Arequipa seems to be quite a different place, although I have exactly explored that much of the city. When Eline and I arrived here on Friday we both felt this was a better place to be. The first thing that struck me when I landed here was the fact that I could see some blue sky (there was permanent cloud and/fog in Lima) and the sun. The next thing that caught my attention were the mountains - El Misti and Chachani. Chachani is a bit further away from the city, whereas El Misti feels like it´s on my doorstep. With a summit at about 5,800m above sea-level it rises 3,500m above the city.

As far as the town goes it is planned like a traditional colonial town, centred on the Plaza de Armas - that´s a type of central square I guess and it seems most major towns have one. There are loads of restaurants surrounding the plaza and as you walk pass waiters approach you with an English menu (I guess we tourists really stand out) trying to get you to visit their establishment. I´d like to see a bit more of the city at some point, but for now I´m just trying to feel better. For now though I have at least one thing to look forward to and that´s my Spanish lessons that start tomorrow. I´ll keep my blog updated with any new developments and sights that I see etc, but for now I´m going to sign off...

¡Hasta luego!
-

Coca leaf tea and dry biscuits...

That is kinda what I am living on today - the reason is that I may have a bit of altitude sickness. You see the town I am in at the moment is about 2400m above see level and at this height (actually usually higher) the altitude can mess with you a bit. So I´ve had a bit of a headache and my stomach has been in a mess, so Jose (the father of the one I mentioned in an earlier blog) here at the hostel suggested that this will help. To be honest I am feeling so crappy that I will try it. The only problem is that this mate de coca (the tea) doesn´t taste that great, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do...

Another development is that I start my Spanish lessons tomorrow. The younger Jose put me in touch with a language teacher and she is willing to come to the hostel so we can sit outside during our lessons. I´m really excited about this as I have always wanted to learn to speak Spanish and I think it´ll add a new dimension to being over here. I also think I may started looking for work sooner rather than later, after all that is the reason I came over here - kind of. So when I´m not taking lessons this week I hope to be searching for a job (and trying to find out what kind of red tape is involved in getting the necessary work permit etc).

That´s all from me for now... Thanks for all you emails etc...

¡Hasta luego!

Friday, August 24, 2007

By the way...

FYI -
I´m staying at La Posada del Cacique...
It seems like a nice enough place and the guy who works here, Jose, seems to be a genuine guy...

Is this what the doctor ordered?

Me again...

I am now in Arequipa (a smaller city in the south of Peru). I left Lima because it felt a bit too chaotic and busy and kinda polluted. Also, the fact that I didn´t like the hostel didn´t help how I felt about being there. I was planning on coming to Arequipa all along but I moved up the schedule by two days. On Wednesday I met Eline from Amsterdam at the hostel I was staying at and she mentioned she was coming to Arequipa, so we decided to travel together. It has been good having someone to hang out with for the past two days and I know I´ll miss her when she moves on (she´s not going to be here as long as I plan on being). Anyway, another good thing about my time in Lima was meeting Betsy (an American student studying and working in Lima for a few months).

That´s enough of that though. The plan for now is to perhaps take some Spanish lessons here in Arequipa for a while and take it from there... Although I´m not sure which school to go to (is there really much of a difference?)... Anyway, like I said in this morning´s blog I want to slow down and chill for a bit and I think that Arequipa could be just that... at least for now...

Something different... slower...

Hi,

This is just a short note to let you know I'm leaving Lima today. I kinda knew I wouldn't stick around here, so I'm flying south to Arequipa this afternoon. I met some interesting people here in Lima, but it's too chaotic and it's a huge city. Arequipa on the other hand sounds like an interesting place and it have a slower pace (something that appeals to me at the moment). I hope to take some Spanish lessons while I'm down there and try to figure out what else I plan on doing...

Like I said, this is a short note... Hasta luego!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So far, so good...

A few people have asked me what it is like over here and what I have been up to, so here goes...

I am staying at the Hospedaje Jose Luis in Miraflores (a very touristy part of Lima). It's a simple place, but comfortable enough. It's a really busy area with loads of people around and where any tourist (me too I'm guessing) stands out like a sore thumb. There are loads of banks, shops, internet cafe, retaurants etc around. And there is an interesting shopping mall called LarcoMar (picture the V+A Waterfront in Cape Town on the edge of a cliff, but just a bit smaller). I had lunch there yesterday and will probably be back there tomorrow having lunch with someone I met over here...

I've been to a few museums, checked out the catacombs a monastery in town (approx 25,000 people were buried there and the bones are stacked and clearly visible) and walked around central Lima for a bit. One of the squares in the centre of town, Plaza de Armas, reminds me of Trafalgar Square (in London) and the surrounding areas. It's a place where people simply seem to congregate, there are loads of pigeons flying around, there are tourists taking pictures and talking, and all this is surrounding by some great architecture. There are even a few artists doing portraits not too far from the square.

There is loads more I could say, but I'm going to sign off for now. One more thing I can say is that repeating that phrase 'solo hablo Ingles' is a great motivation to learn some Spanish as soon as possible...

Okay, I gotta go so... Hasta Luego (seeya later!)...

A very familliar question...

I have been experiencing a sense of deja vu lately and it has been in the form of a question that has been on my mind. The question I am referring to is 'What am I doing here?'

Over the past couple of days I have been in a state of sensory overload - new sights, sounds, places, tastes etc etc... And as I did about 17 months ago (when I was still new to London) I have been wondering what on earth I am doing here. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret coming here it's just that this is one huge step and I'm only starting to realise that. That said I know that this whole South American adventure I am on is beyond just me. What I mean is that this was not my idea, this trip to Peru was an answer to a prayer a few months back. And, in the same way that my time in London was significant in that it was like me being at the Jabbok River (that was the place where Jacob wrestled with the Angel from God) I know this time is going to have significance - not that I know what that is right now...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A whole new world...

Beunos dias (it´still morning over here)...

This is going to be short note, but I hope to be back online later today or tomorrow. So the flight was good and I have come to the conclusion that I prefer travelling my day (then when I get to my destination I can sleep somewhere comfy). The guy from the B&B picked me up at the airport and the way he drove I felt like I was in a taxi going to ´Mowbray-Kaap´... The room is simple, but comfy enough and I had a good sleep...

At the moment I´m at an Internet cafe and hope to do some window (and actual) shopping a bit later. I guess the funniest thing so far is the number of people who mistake me for a local or at the very least seem surprised when I say ´solo hablo Ingles´ (I only speak English)... Anyway, this adventure has begun and it really feel like a whole new world (please forgive that bit of Disney-fication)...

I gotta get out of here, but I will stay in touch...

PS: Thanks for all the messages and the notes on my Facebook wall!!

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A quick update...

Originally written on 20-Aug-07...

hi... so i'm writing from Madrid at the moment. unfortunately, i won't be seeing the city but just get to spend a couple of hours at the airport...so... in about 90min time i'll be boarding my flight to Lima... the flight from London was sort and uneventful, but the next flight is going to be really long (about 12 hours), but at least there aren't any more stops on the journey...that's all for now... thanks for the messages etc...

facing reality...

Originally written on 30-July-07...

i have been in London for nearly 18 months now and it has become a comfortable, albeit sometimes chaotic place to live - not to mention the fact that i have made some good friends over here...so i am counting the days until i leave and i think the idea of relocating my life to a different continent for the second time in 18 months is starting to become reality... i bought a "lonely planet" book earlier and i'm starting to realise what i'm getting myself into (but i guess it'll hit me when i get there)...anyway, enough of my waffling... hasta luego...