Friday, May 2, 2014


Well, I am not going to write about everything because I only have 10 more minutes left to burn here at the Internet cafe. When we arrived in Bogota we went to a hostal I had prebooked online because of all the warnings that Bogota is dangerous and we should be careful. We even took an airport taxi to get there which was so expenive! The streets of Bogota and Cartagena are full of beautiful graffiti which tells stories and colours the streets. Then we took a bus to Cartagena, the walled city. The heat was suffocating for this cold blooded body of mine! We took the local bus from the station to find a hostel and were stuck to the seats by the time we arrived- not to mention it was even hotter inside the bus because they pack them up like sardines! The first night we did´t think much of the area, but the next day we realized we weren´t in the right part. We packed up the stuff and took the bus to teh centre which is BEAUTIFUL. I felt like I was in the old town of Hastings but cleaner. The streets are narrow and full of colour. The city is walled and only taxis and horses and carts can go in (by that I mean no busses). The centre has no graffiti but the zone we stayed in did because it wasnt the historical part. We also visited St. Felipe castle, which was awesome! We decided to fly back to Bogota from Cartagena because the 28 hour bus ride to get there was brutal! This time we took a bus to the district we like, and then just walked around until we found a hostel with rooms. A much cheaper way to do it! I just tried ajiaco, a local dish which was delicious along with feijoa juice, a fruit from the area which I recommend you ever try should you happen to be in the area. TIMES UP! Chau! xxx

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

And she´s back!

So, here I find myself back in the land of llamas and alpacas, and soups full of animal every body part you can imagine (you know you want to visit Katie!)

My trip from Marseille to Cajamarca took about two days with all the layovers. Way to buy cheap flights Gemma! Cesar had bought my ticket from Lima to here, and when the plane arrived I was like- are you serious? It had 34 seats! So tiny! Considering its size it actually wasn´t that bad for turbulance, although I might just have been so exhausted that I didn´t notice.

We are right back into the swing of things. On Saturday we went to a ¨hair cutting¨ ceremony, which is like a baptism. It´s the first hair cut a baby has. If you cut a piece of hair you have to give some money. Apparently they raised about $1000, but they said that sometimes they can raise as much as 3! There must have been some people with money there. I think that having babies here is profitable, what with the baby shower, the nail cutting and the hair cutting ceremonias. I mean, as long as your friends have money! Also, as is tradition, they murdered about 200 guinea pigs and ingested copius amounts of alcohol for a couple of days.

Cesar took me to this restaurant as you can see in the picture, which looks like a house. I was happy to take a mototaxi, as seen in the second picture, that had a trash can and asks people to throw their garbage in it and not leave it in the taxi or throw it in the river. Actually that part is kind of funny because the river is non existant right now, it´s just a rocky garbage pit that winds its way through the city.

I tried really hard to make some desserts for my friend´s dessert sale. She helps an NGO that rescues street dogs. There is a huge street dog problem here, there are hundreds of them and lots of them are rabid or suffer horribly from having been hit by a car. She says I can help too, so I will keep you posted! First I made cookies but they came out rock solid and tasted extremely strongly of butter. Then I tried to make rice krispie cake without the rice krispies because they don´t have those. Also without the syrup. So that was a bit of a fiasco. In the end I made a banana pudding crumble which I think was okay...they sold it anyway!

Hopefully we are gonna travel this weekend, so then I will have something of interest to write about...maybe! Take care!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Machu Picchu and blisters!

First of all, Happy Father´s Day to my Dad who is obviously the best Dad of them all! :D So, picking up where I left off. Towards the end of our hike to Aguas Calients there was a little village which we thought was Aguas Calientes but it wasn`t so we were a bit depressed and sat down for about 10 minutes. BIG MISTAKE because our muscles cooled down and then it hurt so much more to move! But move we did ladies and gentlemen! :) When we arrived to the town we looked for a hostal and Nicolas found one for 15 soles and we stayed in a different one for 30 since we wanted our own room together and not a shared one. The bed was much softer than the bed in Cusco and there was natural hot water (hence the name of the town- Aguas Calientes = Hot waters). The shower was one of the best of my life. I took a picture of my foot first though and the new blisters it had. Man did our shoes and socks ever reek! They still do since we haven`t washed anything yet! We all met downstairs after the showers and had supper at about 11 before going off to sleep much better than babies since they wake up a lot and we did not. In the morning Cèsar and I split up from Nicolas as he decided to hike up the mountain (a steep upwards climb of 700 metres) and we decided to take the bus. It cost $10 which is so expensive for a 10 minute ride but I am glad we did it because the uphill climb after the hike the day before would have finished us off. Before that we had breakfast upstairs in the local market since the restaurants were so expensive. I mean, $10 for breakfast! Let`s get real here! Aguas Calientes is a tourist town and we saw the hotel Mick Jagger stayed at when he visited a month ago. Actually we don`t know if he stayed there but it was the poshest one there so we just guessed. In the market we made friends with the lovely lady at the stand and talked about politics before buying the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. It costs $50 for foreigners to get in which was heartbreaking for me obviously but you know it`s one of the new wonders of the world so I gutted up and forked over the loot. It was a lot cheaper for Cèsar! Machu Picchu was spectacular! I have to go now so it`s short but we have a bus to catch to Arequipa! See you all soon xxx

Friday, June 15, 2012

WOW! :)

Well, I guess I should start from the beginning. Do some eyes exercises and get ready to read! On Sunday night we left Cajamarca for Trujillo (6 hours). Once there we stayed in a cheap hostal ($10) since we arrived at 4:30 AM and couldn`t very well just sit in the street until dawn. Then we went to pick up my laptop which Cèsar`s friend Rafael had fixed for me. The problem was that my antivirus expired a year ago and the thing had so many viruses that you could`t use it. Now I can use it. In return I translated his systems engineering homework into Spanish. Fair trade right :) although it was very complicated homework! When at Rafael`s house we ran into Wesley who was there to pick up a car to drive back to Cajamarca. He said we should all go to pick it up, so we did. The car was so bad. I mean, we drove a block and then had to get out and push to make it start again. I was a bit scared because there was a lot of traffic but luckily I survived to tell the tale! At one point it stopped altogether and the men were pushing it for a few blocks so Wesley decided to go and visit his girlfriend while Rafael and the car`s owner fixed the problem. We went with Wesley to see baby Adrian who is now 7 months old (doesn`t time fly!) and very cute. We took him for a walk and had some cheap lunch ($2) and said goodbye to them as Wesley had to take the car back to Cajamarca. We then accompanied Rafael and his mom to the main square and the market and back to their house which was about 1.5 hours of walking but it wasn`t too hot or too cold so it was good. Then we hung out with Rafael`s mom while he was studying and had a really interesting conversation with her until 10 when we had to go to the bus station to catch our bus to Lima. The journey was 9 hours long but I slept all the way so it wasn`t bad. We arrived in Lima at about 7:30 AM and decided to hang out in the bus terminal instead of spending cash on a hostal and bought our tickets to Cusco. We left our bags there and went for a walk in the lovely contaminated city of Lima and remarked on the beautiful layer of contamination and how it hurt my eyes (Cèsar said I was overreacting but later his eyes hurt too so ha!). We went to the Expedition Park which I nicknamed the Chinese Park two years ago but I CANT REMEMBER WHY?! Anyway there were all these photos of Lima and it was really sad, you saw the rich parts and then the really poor parts and it was kind of sick actually. Then we had really cheap strawberry juice (obviously fresh because it`s Peru) which was very nice! I apologize for the lack of paragraphs in this blog entry, but my fingers just say, go go go because the time here is costly (not really but when you are tight it is). Then we had to sit in a bus for 22 hours to arrive to Cuzco. It was cool at first to see the nice landscapes and all that but then I felt nauseous so I drugged myself up on gravol and went to sleep until the next day. We arrived in Cusco at 1 p.m. and I saw a bunch of cheap hostels by the bus station so we went to one and they only charged us 10$ again (nice!) and I was happy because I was told that going to Cusco with less than 1000$ a person is impossible and that`s all Cèsar and I have for both of us. The problem was that the water was ICE COLD, I mean not just cold but freezing. Plus Cusco is at 3326 metres above sea level and it`s quite cold there! Cajamarca is only 2750 so it`s quite a bit higher. It is okay having a cold shower when it`s hot outside but not when it`s cold! You couldn`t help but scream like madmen! Anyway we had to shower because we hadn`t since Trujillo on Monday and we arrived on Wednesday! Then we tried to walk to the main square (because I told Cèsar, I am sure it`s this way) and then we asked a local woman and she said we`d been going the WRONG WAY so whoops! She said to take a bus which was only 50 cents so we did. Then we basically spent the afternoon eating and walking around the really beautiful city centre and getting bombarded with tour agencies. Cusco is obviously super turisti-cized (new word) but it`s neat because walking down the street you can hear so many language. Sometimes we play identify or guess the language but obviously we can`t very well ask the people if we are right so it`s juse speculation. At night we went to the highest Irish pub in the world, and then a British pub where I made Cèsar drink Old Speckled Hen on tap since it`s from Bury St. Edmunds where I was born. Then we went to another random bar and played darts but then I got tired so we went to bed. After checking out all the tour information we decided not to take any tours since they were all more than 100$ each and instead go ourselves. The next day we got up early after a very cold night in Cusco and went to the bus stop for Urubamba. There we took a bus for about 1$ and travelled for an hour. On the bus we met a backpacker from Argentina called Nicolas and he said he was going to walk to Aguas Calientes from KM 82. We hadn`t considered that since it is 30 KM and that`s quite a walk. We were going to take the train from Ollantytambo. When we arrived to Urubamba we took a cab with Nicolas to Ollantytambo which was about 20 minutes away for 4$ so the 3 of us. Not bad so far. In Ollantytambo there were awesome ruins. On one side the ruins cost 70 soles each to enter which is so expensive so didn`t go, but on the other side of the village there were other ruins with a sign saying DANGER: not cross, but we saw various tourists up there so we crossed anyway and it was really cool and not really dangerous unless there was an avalanche but really, it was wasn`t raining and everything was quite stable so don`t worry! We got some great pictures on the up mountain climb to the ruins and then returned to the villlage, it was only about 2 kms so we were still good. We bought some fruit and found a combi to KM 82 and travelled there in an hour. There we met a bunch of kids jammed full into the combi and Cèsar gave them an apple to share and they chatted about soccer while I took pictures of the snow peaked mountains which are much more impressive than the mountains in Cajamarca. When we arrived to KM 82 we headed down to a hut which I didn`t know was the start of the Inka Trail and walked down to it where the warden told us we couldn`t continue for many reasons and after half an hour of trying to bargain we turned back disappointed. It was 2:15 and we went back up to the train track where the combi had left us and asked the guy if the train would pick us up there. He said the train might pick Cèsar up since he`s Peruvian but it wouldn`t take foreigners so Nicolas and I would be stuck. We decided that wasn`t an option. Then we saw another Argentinean backpacker heading our way down the train tracks and he said he had come from Aguas Calientes without any security problems. He had left at 5 AM having done the hike in 9 hours. He said the biggest problem would be that night would catch us and then it would dangerous unless we had a lantern. I had on my cellphone, but I wasn`t sure, but then I got excited and we decided we only live once so why not go for it! We went following the train tracks where there were paths above and below where the locals must walk because there were cows and bulls (luckily not angry bulls but I sent the boys first just in case). The first four hours were great because the views were AMAZING and it was so peaceful. We didn`t meet any other backpackers and we didn`t stop because we wanted to walk as far as possible before it got dark (at about 6:10 it was impossible to see anything). I was surprised at the number of trains that passed but none of them went faster than 40 km/h. A train ticket is more than 70$ for foreigners by the way, so we really saved money by walking! Oh, and Peruvians have to travel on a different train from foreingers as like, a different class which made me ask if we were in 1930 still. No way am I travelling in a different train from Cèsar! When night fell we decided to stay close to the tracks to avoid getting lost. The boys had much more facility peeing than I did and went like 10 times but I only went once because I thought a spider might bite me or something! The train tracks were filled with sharp rocks which cut our feet and I twisted my ankles. Cèsar got bitten by something and now has a HUGE blister, the biggest I have ever seen! I have blisters too but you know, normal size ones. There were lots of bridges to cross which were a bit scary but obviously they were safe since they took the weight of the train. Sometimes you had to balance though as not to fall through the cracks but that is part of the fun. After about 20 kms it got really hard for me. It was surreal because the sky was beautiful and full of stars and the river (I forgot to say we were also following a rampant rapid river) was so loud it was like we were there with nature where nobody else was. The scary parts were when the train passed because sometimes there wasn`t much space to stand between the train and mountain face. One time we were so close my nose almost touched it. Haha, that`s a joke, but we could feel the tug and I thought Nicolas was going to die at one point because he swaggered a bit. I always sat down because it`s harder to get tugged that way! We chatted lots and I suggested we sing but the boys didn`t want to. I felt like the seven dwarfs and wanted to sing, Hi ho, Hi ho it`s off to work we go, because I was carrying our water on my shoulders like a hammer. Well after 25 kms I was pretty much just walk like a zombie because my legs were hurting so much! Ohhhhh I have to go my time is up, today we went to Machu Picchu and it was awesome! I will write more when I can! Loveeee!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It´s the little things...

Yesterday I went to the shop to buy sugar and flour (I was making perogies, probably a good idea to check if you have flour before you begin) and I realized that I am really going to miss them weighing a kilo of sugar for me out of a huge bag. I suppose that´s what it was like 30 years ago but it´s really personal and cool. Maybe I should open my own store in Canada old fashioned like :)! I will miss my fresh fruits and veggies and lack of pre-packaged and chemical filled foods. Now that I have perfected my rice cooking skills it will be strange not eating rice all the time. At first I found it dry but then I learned to coat it in soy sauce and now I love it :) César and I went to see The Woman in Black (it took quite a bit of convincing on César´s part because I hate horror movies) and it wasn´t that scary thankfully! It wasn´t brilliant acting and all I could think of was Harry Potter and how weird that Daniel Radcliffe had a kid...?!! Then we went to see Madagascar 3 which was cute and a little girl was dancing in the isle which was cuter still! I will also miss cheap movies! I know I am not a city girl and that´s probably why I kind of love being able to flag down a taxi or a mototaxi (cheaper) wherever I am! I will not miss the sexist, untolerant rich city people and the social class divisions though. We´ve been watching the world cup, Germany just won a great match with Portugal. England plays France on Monday, should be a good one. I´m supposed to be packing for our vacation but I haven´t quite got around to it yet, maybe at the last minute! Tomorrow we are off to Trujillo to pick up my virus clogged laptop and visit César´s friends and from there it´s off to Lima! Much better to have two bus trips than one 14 hr long one. However, the bus ride from Lima to Cusco is a day long so whoopee there. Should be worth it to finally see Machu Picchu though! I put a picture where I thought a couple of the translations were funny like pancakes with bees. Talk to you later! I made my own mazamorra and I was proud of that. Maybe I will find some purple corn when I am back in Canada, somewhere!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Awesome hairdresser

Yesterday César decided to go to the hairdresser and I thought, I haven´t had my hair cut in a year, might as well go to. Well, it was quite interesting because the hairdresser was a transsexual lady and extremely bitter about life. You can only get an appointment by phoning. When we arrived she complained loudly that her style is to have one visitor at a time and now our haircuts were going to be terrible but she never said anything when César called to make the appointment! Anyway, she spent the 2.5 hours it took to do our hair complaining about Cajamarca. Now, I can understand the difficulty of being anything other than heterosexual in a place like Cajamarca. We are talking about an old-fashioned highly religious city which hasn´t quite caught up with the 21st century yet in terms of acceptance of anything a little bit different. Well actually I think we are stuck in the 70s here! In terms of local buisnesses it´s fabulous though as you can still go to the seamstress, butcher, glass maker etc., however tolerance is not something most people have. It is so bad that even tattoos and piercings in places other than your ears are seen as gang signs. However, when one chooses to come to a city like this (she is from Lima) you have to come accepting that. It doesn´t mean you can´t try to change it. If she put half as much effort into changing people´s close-mindedness as complaining she might actually be able to change people´s opinions. I think that instead of staying inside she should go out and let people get used to seeing her. I want to believe that after people get after the initial shock of her appearance they would forget about it, however I am a bit optimistic like that. I did have to talk to my students a few times about tolerance though, it´s disturbing when you hear grown, highly professional men saying degrading things about the homosexual etc. community. They always looked taken aback when I reproached them though and hopefully that gave them something to think about. If more people stood up for each other maybe things would change, right? Anyway, the lady showed us her paintings of Ancient Egypt which were awesome! We had a great conversation apart from her bitterness. She kept talking about another city and how accepting the people are there and I thought, why don´t you move there? It would be so much easier, and it isn´t like she´s fighting for change here, plus she seems to hate Cajamarca. But what do I know? She told me she doesn´t like white men, and apparently César is white. I had no idea. I had lunch with my previous host family and tried a new fruit for me called Kaki. It looks like a tomato but it tastes like a hard pear. It´s supposed to be really good for you anyway and it´s delicious! I´ve now finished teaching and am bored and want to work as we can´t travel yet due to the strike here and another strike in Cuzco, worst luck! César and I went out for supper on Friday night and look at my beautiful frozen lemonade. mmmmmm! So far the strike has been passive accept for the stupid cops who instead of keeping the peace hit people with their canes and kick over the farmer´s food. The police here are just arses and it´s not surprising as they are mostly not very intelligent and just follow orders. Yesterday Peru lost to Colombia 0-1 in the world cup eliminations so they probably won´t qualify. Despite Colombia having better players Peru played a respectable game and just missed a bunch of possible goals. Their players are young and unexperienced or old and tired though. On Friday César dropped me and I twisted my wrist. We bought a heat cream and put a bandage on it. I then had an allergic reaction to the cream and now have mini warts all over my hands and wrist so that is great. I bought an anti-allergic reaction cream and it hasn´t worked yet but hopefully it clears up. . It´s not exactly beautiful. This time next month I´ll be studying in Canada. Wow! Here´s a picture of César´s sister´s baby. Take care! I dont know anyone who wants to be a cop, and I´ve never met a cop that I like. They are creepy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hi! So I´ve finished teaching all my regular courses, I just have to go in on Saturday. It was a pretty sad and heartfelt goodbye. I got an awesome toque with a tail, bag, scarf and a party and it was very nice! :) It´s been an awesome experience because I´ve met so many great people, I´ve taught between 4-500 different people and earned a level of respect here. It´s lovely to have people come to you with questions, asking advice. 2 of my students are going to study in the USA with full scholarships and 1 other is pre-selected. I will definitely miss seeing all these lovely faces everyday. However, when I go to Canada I get to see other lovely faces everyday so really it´s a win-win situation! Yesterday I went to have lunch with Rosanna, and I am going back again on Thursday. She was telling me about a project she is working on in one of the shanty towns in Lima. Sounds like awesome work! Apparently on the national education survey Cajamarca scroed such a low grade that it ísn´t even on the bar graph. Pretty sad when there is a billion dollar gold mine so close and the development in education and health is 0. The only thing that has changed is the number of trucks, and the introduction of franchises like Pizza Hut and KFC. Not exactly susttainable development. Of course, that is not only the fault of the mine but also the fault of the governments not having infrastructure and ability to distribute the money sensibly. On Monday I had lunch with some students to say goodbye :( On Thursday there is going to be a strike again by the pro-miners and on Friday by the anti-miners so the roads will be blocked. I am not sure how that will affect my ability to leave the city, so Cuzco will have to wait.!