Monthly Archives: April 2016

“ASALT” on the SENSES!!!!

WARNING:  THIS IS OUR LONGEST BLOG YET.  SO…. IF YOU CANNOT SLEEP AT NIGHT AND DON’T WANT TO TAKE SLEEPING PILLS, READ IT AS IT’S A GUARANTEED SURE FIRE WAY OF FALLING ASLEEP FAST!

MARK:  Less than three weeks to go on our epic MASTERS20152016 Round the World Trip.  The reality of normality now very much just around the corner! The EU debate, queues of traffic on the M25, the start of the cricket season and hopefully, confirmation that Middlesbrough FC make it back to the Premiership after a nine year absence.  So many things to look forward to.  And ooooh yes, we will see our little Joey when we get back at 1300 on Tuesday May 10, @T5 London Heathrow Airport.  Bunting out in Regent Way Frimley, I can see it now.

Flying!

Flying!

We’re still living in the moment and my goodness me, what a few moments we’ve had in Bolivia over the past few days!  It’s been full on ever since we left the capital La Paz – a fairly interesting, if somewhat boring place.  The highlight for us of this administrative capital was quite literally the fantastic cable car system which transports upwards of 70,000 people a day across the city, at heights of up to 4,000m.

The high life

The high life

We left La Paz after a couple of days at 9.00pm at night, from a dirty smelly street, half a mile from our hotel, on yet another overnight bus.  There was no tread on the tyres.  The bus itself looked 20 years old. And when you got inside, you wondered how you would survive the ten hour, 500km ride to the deep south.  Worse was to follow.  The on-board information leaflet confirmed that 185km would be on “dirt roads”.  Deep joy!  The only thing keeping us going was the knowledge that we were heading to another Geographical Wonder of the World, namely the Bolivian Salt flats!

Time to go - I think????

Time to go – I think????

Sarah was not happy – her knee was still hurting.  Mark was not happy – his shoulder was still hurting.  The bus trundled relentlessly on occasionally hitting an incredibly high top speed of 80kph (49.7mph)!   At 1.00am we shuddered to a halt in some deserted back street. “Banos” was the cry from the driver.  Fellow travellers rushed out obviously feeling the effects of the in-bus served fried cheese balls, rice, cold carrots and beans.  We were hanging on with no ill-effects.  Eight months travelling and no need for Imodium.  Is that a record??  I suppose 28 years of Sarah’s cooking had helped prepare my stomach for this RTW eating extravaganza….

Bacon anyone?

Bacon anyone?

At 0300 the bumping, shaking, rattling and bouncing started.  A glance through the window behind the dirty orange bus curtain, revealed a lunar landscape lit coincidentally by a full moon.  We were in the Bolivian desert and boy did our poor bodies know it.  We had reached the end of the metaled road and the bus’s shock absorbers simply could not cope. But as in all cases, there was light at the end of this mammoth trip when at about 6.00am, rays of blue/orange light pierced the mountains in the distance to reveal a stunning backdrop of nothingness.  We were in an amazing wilderness, with the occasional tuft of tumbleweed blowing through small green bushes that managed to survive in what was a harsh high landscape at an altitude of 3,700m.

Lunar landscape

Lunar landscape

After a delicious (NOT) on-board breakfast of biscuits, cake and yoghurt we arrived in Uyuni, a two-horse town at the head of the Salt Flats.  Miraculously our bags on the public bus had not been stolen thanks to our metal chains and two combination locks, so we disembarked, jumped into a taxi complete with furry dashboard and were transported five minutes later through deserted streets to our hotel.  It was Sunday morning.  Nobody was up except for a scraggy looking black cat that had obviously returned late from a heavy night out on the tiles.

Sunday, sunday

Sunday, Sunday

Line up

Line up

Not expecting much, we were amazed that we had arrived at a reasonable hotel in this Bolivian back water.  We made full use of the warm shower and greedily helped ourselves to scrambled eggs, sugar puffs, vanilla yoghurt and a bread roll.  Yum!

A short time later we were told to be in the hotel reception ready to leave on our three day, 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) trip to the Salt Flats.  Just before we left, a short itinerary was thrust into our hands and it soon became clear that our 4WD adventure was going to be just that, a hard core trip into the unknown.  Both of us had not really studied the main itinerary.  We knew when we booked our trip 18 months ago that we would be in the Bolivian outback but little more than that.  So glancing at the A4 sheets we were surprised and delighted to see that we would be visiting a cemetery for trains, the oldest cemetery in South America (1200AD) for humans, as well as staying in an Eco-hotel made out of salt bricks.  Add on a drive through the mountains visiting geysers and the chance to spot flamingos and there you had it, an action packed 60 hour voyage of discovery.

Driving round town and beyond

Driving round town and beyond

Four 4×4 vehicles were patiently waiting just outside of the hotel.  Two Toyota Land Cruisers (the oldest built in 1995) and two Nissan Patrol vehicles.  Sarah and I were in the lead Land Cruiser together with a 30 year old Aussie called Dayne from Sydney and our inexperienced tour guide, a pleasant 26 year old guy called Nico, who was born in Argentina and whose Dad 25 years ago used to be Uruguay’s International Goal Keeper.  We were in safe hands!

Lead vehicle

Lead vehicle

Our “caravan” of 4x4s eventually set off, with one of the vehicles looking as if it would not make the first corner of the street, never mind a 500+ mile trip through the mountains.

First stop, a visit to the “Train Cemetery” just outside of town.  I was expecting a graveyard full of people who had died building the line through Bolivia to neighbouring Chile.  WRONG with a capital W.  This was a graveyard of old British, French and American steam trains, rusting slightly in the arid desert.  Train buffs – Scott Ford, Ian Jones, James Duckworth, David Parker, Stuart Bailey, Ian Prescott – will have fond memories of Barry Island where old de-commissioned British Rail Steam Engines went to be sold or die/cut up into scrap.  It was just like that, but much, much bigger, plus you could climb all over these giant iron hulks, which had been brought here after the railways closed.  There was even talk that one of the engines was riddled with bullet holes as this was the area of Bolivia where Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were eventually killed.

Casey Bailey

Casey Bailey

We discovered a 1914 engine built by Vickers and two engines built by a firm called Taylors in the mid 1950s.  One even looked like part of the shell of a Mallard locomotive.  Surely it can’t have been?  I look forward to any comments that can help me identify the steam engines from the shots below.  No prizes for guessing the name of the “old boiler”.

Going loco

Going loco

Sarah had to guard against falling off...

Sarah had to guard against falling off…

End of the line

End of the line

Sad end..

Sad end..

Is this a "Mallard"????

Is this a “Mallard”????

Our “dead good” visit to the cemetery ended all too soon…..

Did not want to leave

Did not want to leave

…and we quickly made our way along well tarmacked roads to a village called Colchani at the edge of the Salt Flats, known for making cooking salt.  We were not particularly enamoured with what we saw.  A small oven heated by wood collected from the local area which in turn dried the salt and hey presto, it was bagged and sold to local shops.  Wow!  What was though much more interesting were the strange assortment of toys and other “bric a brac” which could be purchased outside.  It was just like the car boot sale held in Farnborough on a Sunday morning.  Amongst the wackier items up for sale were green, red and grey dinosaurs ranging from the ferocious ‘T’ Rex to the heavy weight Diplodocus.  Stranger still, our fellow traveller, Col’ Jim, our 73 year old former head of the Canadian Airborne Division in Europe purchased a green ‘T’ Rex.  “You’ll see” he said with a glint in his eye….

Back on board and with thoughts of Jurassic Park flashing through my mind we soon entered a white wonderland.  We were on the World famous Bolivian salt flats and as far as the eye could see stretched a dazzling white carpet of sparkling hexagonal shaped salt crystals.  The only thing I’ve ever seen which remotely comes close was the frozen lake at Zell am Zee in Austria, when it had been covered in six inches of snow back in 1989.  Or put it another way, the perspective views were like a TV studio with white floor and white backing curtains creating that wonderful thing called infinity.

Unbelievable

Unbelievable

Our 4WD caravan did not hang around.  At speeds of around 100kph (62mph) we hammered across the white desert landscape.

Burning up the salt

Burning up the salt

Heading south

Heading south

First stop on our journey was the chance to see a former salt hotel and salt monument dedicated to the Paris-Dhakar rally.

A block of salt

A block of salt

And then, photos snapped we were back in our seats for a 30 minute drive to the centre of the Flats and a chance to take perspective photos.  The Col’s Green 8 inch high ‘T’ Rex suddenly made an appearance and then it dawned on me.  If you took any object (I managed to find a peanut, a bottle of Bolivian red wine and a full bottle of Sprite), you could make all sorts of weird and wonderful photos.  Take a look for yourself…

Pea-nut

Pea-nut

Sarah on top of my sunnies

Sarah on top of my sunnies

Sarah liked dancing on a bottle of sprite

Sarah liked dancing on a bottle of Sprite

A vintage balancing act by MSTJB

A vintage balancing act by MSTJB

We were just like kids.  What a laugh.  What fun!

Suddenly, the light began to fade, the temperature dropped close to zero and it was time to reach our resting place for the night, the interestingly named Ecolodge Tambo Coquesa.  This quite simply was a half-finished series of bedroom units and a central “restaurant area” made from blocks of salt.  Our group on arrival was split up and we shared a room with two 23 year old Belgians – Diet and El’ plus boy wonder Matt, my Inca Trail walking buddy.  It was like we had three new surrogate children as we were affectionately referred to as “Mum and Dad”.

The children ready for bed

The children ready for bed

The room was very warm as the salt blocks had heated up during the day and slowly let out their warmth overnight.  That was all fine, but the toilets were something else! The bowl was divided into two compartments.  Compartment One at the front was for “Number One’s” whilst the hole at the back of the bowl was for “Number Two’s” which if got your aim right fell into a black hole of smelly compost type material some three metres below.  Ummm.  It’s really interesting from a marketing point of view what you can get away with if you include the word “Eco”…. Must remember that sometime.

The restaurant was a simple seating area made out of salt, with salt stools.  And the floor, yes you’ve guessed it, was a carpet of crystallised rock salt.  The food was sadly not much to write home about and Sarah found it mildly amusing that all the dishes served “needed some salt”!! But the bedrooms were warm and cosy as the rain came down.

Pass the salt please

Pass the salt please – the restaurant

Next morning, we had the chance to run down to the edge of the salt flats which were by now partly covered in water from the overnight storm.  There we spotted numerous pink flamingos – officially called “James” Flamingos!!  It was a chance to get some photos and admire Mother Nature yet again:

Near the salt hotel

Near the salt hotel

Flamingoland, North Yorkshire

Flamingoland, North Yorkshire

The group was due to set off at 8.00am on Day 2 and just in the nick of time I made it back to the bedroom block, quickly stuffed my back-pack with my belongings and ran to the idling Land Cruiser which was still freezing cold inside after its’ nightly sleep.

We headed back on to the Salt “Lake” and were told that in parts, the water underneath the salt crust was some 25m deep and it was not uncommon for heavily laden 4×4’s to get stuck and sink.  But before that happened, we arrived at Incahausi Island a small rocky outcrop, 150m high, covered in cacti and offering a great view of the surrounding area despite the grey conditions.  Back down to the salt flats and I “borrowed” what looked like a Union Jack and promptly “claimed” the island for Britain.  Not sure if this jingoistic act was lost on our young Argentinian Guide!

Now British

Now British

Island of pricks

Island of pricks

Island in the salt centre

Island in the salt centre

So you can guess the next bit.  Yes, back in to the vehicles.  Two and a half hours later we arrived in San Juan having seen en-route what appeared to be half of the Bolivian Army training in really harsh terrain.

Left, right left

Left, right left

Tummy’s rumbling and just before lunch, we had the chance to see what was a real highlight for me, the World famous San Juan Cemetery.  We walked through an area of high ground where we could see “bee-hive shaped” tombs dating back to 1200AD and made out of volcanic rock.  The route through the graveyard was clearly marked by white arrows and they directed us to the first tomb which had a 1m square hole in the front.  We peeked in, not quite sure what we might find and boy were we shocked!  Inside was a human skeleton “sat” against the back wall still clothed!  Other tombs revealed foetal positioned skeletons and bodies “stuffed” in clay pots.  It was macabre, fascinating and quite unbelievable.  We made our way to different tombs and were amazed at what we saw…The dry desert like conditions had preserved the mummified bodies so well that you wondered if you might have a conversation with these people from yesteryear.  Take a look for yourself.

The cemetery

The cemetery

A tomb

A tomb

Grave 1

Grave 1

Grave 2

Grave 2

Grave 3

Grave 3

Grave 4

Grave 4

Grave 5

Grave 5

Grave 6

Grave 6

The afternoon journey through the mountains was equally interesting but this time because of the stunning scenery.  The beauty was there for all to behold.  Enough of my words – look at these shots….

Stunner

Stunner

Hello James Flamingo

Hello James Flamingo

The red algae gives the pin to the flamingos

The red algae gives the pink to the flamingos

End of the day

End of the day

That night we stayed in a terrible “hotel” where bread buns were rationed to one each.  I could tell you a whole new story about what happened next, but perhaps that story would be best told over a pint of beer back in the UK… what stays on tour and all that.

It rained all night and the next morning we got up at 0500 in the pitch black to be greeted by now full buckets of water strategically placed along the hall way underneath the dodgy leaking roof. One bread bun later, we clambered slowly back into the lead Land Cruiser, bumped along for 15 minutes and then the lights behind us went out.  We turned round and discovered one of the Nissan’s with its bonnet up.  The alternator had failed.

Not well

Not well

One hour later, the only solution was to “swap out” a battery from the second Nissan – something which they had to do every couple of hours for the next two days.  Not an ideal solution, but at least one that worked.

The remainder of our 4WD tour centred largely around Bolivia’s natural beauty – welcome to Day 3. To our right, about five miles away over the mountain range was Chile.  To our left and 20 miles away was Argentina.  We were at the southerly most point of Bolivia.  We were also very high – above 5,000m and it was cold with plenty of snow.

Snow!!!!!! Coldest we have been in 15 months

Snow!!!!!! Coldest we have been in 15 months

At times we could only travel at a few miles per hour.  Then suddenly we would scream along deserted volcanic plains at high speed.  The rock formations were fascinating.

A rock tree - ok so you have to use your imagination...

A rock tree – ok so you have to use your imagination…

Lakes, like the one below had a myriad of beautiful colours.

Colourful

Colourful

Flamingos were everywhere.

Turning away

Turning away

Even geysers and hot springs made an appearance.

yes, tis I

yes, tis I

It was a fascinating few days and even the five hour journey back to our base hotel in Uyuni near the salt flats wasn’t too bad – just two breakdowns to contend with.

Not well

Not well

So onward now to the city where Silver is King (Potosi), then another bus to Sucre and then over the border to Brazil, Argentina and finally back in to Brazil again.

For those that are interested in reading more about what we have been up to, check out my latest TRIP ADVISOR REVIEWS by going to https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/members/MStJB/.  I am thrilled and delighted to say (sarcasm) that I am still Camberley’s Number #1 contributor a position I would gladly swap for guaranteed promotion to the Premiership.

Stay safe, see you soon and of course #UTB

Where next?

Where next?

Categories: South America Blog | Tags: , , , , , ,

Peruvian People Postcards

MARK:  The sun is going down in Bolivia.  Late evening rays hit the red houses that adorn the mountainside as I look out from our hotel window, here in La Paz.

Peru has been and gone.  A country of highs and lows for us, literally and metaphorically.  After the highs of Machu Piccu we got even higher at Lake Titicaca where we had another really interesting home stay and I met a little friend called Aldo.

We then travelled to the Bolivian Border and subsequently endured the worst bus journey of our lives, as we were bumped and shaken for three hours on roads that really shouldn’t have been called roads.

But this short Photo-Blog is not about Bolivia, more about this fascinating country another day.  No, this missive from Mark focusses on the People of Peru.  You don’t need many words, when you look at the pictures of their etched faces, old and new.  So as we say goodbye to the Land of Paddington Bear, we leave you with some lasting memories from us in the form of a few photo postcards.  Have a good weekend.  Three and a bit weeks to go.  Eeeeeekkkkkkk.

Life's a beach.... full of litter

Life’s a beach…. full of litter

Beatification beckons... Saint Sarah deserves it after eight months!

Beatification beckons… Saint Sarah deserves it after eight months!

The dead centre of Peru

The dead centre of Peru

Baby on tour 1

Baby on tour 1

Baby on Tour 2

Baby on Tour 2

Baby on Tour 3

Baby on Tour 3

Nursery school

Nursery school

Tally ho

Tally ho

Reed Island Dwellers

Reed Island Dwellers

Holding on for dear life

Holding on for dear life with a reed lady

Kiss me quick

Kiss me quick

Happy Days

Happy Days

Nimble mover... why is that I always get picked?

Nimble mover… why is it that I always get picked?

Down town

Down town

Frogs legs anyone?

Frogs legs anyone?

The excitement was intents during the Inca Trail

The excitement was “intents” during the Inca Trail

Fruity

Fruity

A wonderful way of life

A wonderful way of life

Ladies rule where-ever you are in the World

Ladies rule where-ever you are in the World

Found this girl in tears...

Found this girl in tears…

Me and my mate Aldo. He spoke for an hour to me in Spannish - I just said "Si Si Aldo" and he seemed to be happy with that!

Me and my mate Aldo. He spoke for an hour to me in Spanish – I just said “Si Si Aldo” and he seemed to be happy with that!

Group Peru

Group Peru

And it's goodbye to Peru from them

And it’s goodbye to Peru from them

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR BEST WISHES AND COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND INDEED ON THE MASTERS SITE.  THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU ONLY HAVE TO ENDURE A FEW MORE POSTINGS….

Categories: South America Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

Chasing the Pink Umbrella to Machu Picchu

MARK:  Straight to the point and no suspense.  We did it! No, we smashed it!  Two middle-aged people walked, climbed and ran the Inca Trail, seeing Machu Picchu at dawn through the Sun Gate – or should I say Cloud Gate?

Yes, we did it!

Yes, we did it!

Surprisingly, we found the challenge hard but not nearly as hard as we had anticipated.  The 45km, four day, 12,000 stair hike was without doubt one of our Round the World highlights and if you ever get the chance, DO IT as you won’t be disappointed!

Our GOAL - reaching Machu Picchu in three days

Our GOAL – reaching Machu Picchu in four days

Where to start?  Well the beginning I guess and a 45 minute mini-bus ride took us to the start of the Trail, from our overnight stay in Ollantaytambo.  On arrival, purple shirted porters were busy preparing their bags.  They had everything you could think of including the kitchen sink.  And boy, were they fit. Carrying in excess of 50lbs they literally ran everywhere…

Running like the wind

Running like the wind

A gentle amble down the valley for 10 minutes brought us to the start of the Trail.  Cue tourist picture.

Classic shot with our guide Jay and a porter!

Classic shot with our guide J and a porter!

Another five minutes and we were at the first check point.  Two hundred people a day get passes to walk the Inca Trail, the Bailey’s had their paperwork reviewed, including passport and we were off!

Cleared to go

Cleared to go

The first morning was a pleasant walk at relatively low altitude – 2,650m along the banks of the river.  Views were stunning, spirits were high, the sun was shining.

Gentle pace

Gentle pace

Every so often, a train would blow its horn, lamas and other animals would run quickly away.  Randomly, in the distance, a man with a pink umbrella was setting a very fast pace.

The first Inca settlement – there would be 10 to see – was reached at around 1100 after two hours steady walking, with little incline.

First Inca Site

First Inca Site

Little friend

Little friend

The views over the site were spectacular, but lunch beckoned and so we flew over the ridge and up towards the camp where we enjoyed a hearty lunch including soup and chicken, all prepared from two gas burners.  Excellent.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

Great service

Great service

Our Porters having lunch

Our porters having lunch

The afternoon was more challenging with some steep hills, but we took them in our stride and as the sun began to set behind some striking mountains we saw our little red tents all lined up.  Time to wash our feet and to sink a quick beer that somebody had kindly brought! Tomorrow we all knew was going to be a different ball game….

Beer and water

Beer and water

At 0500 we awoke from our semi-sleep.  Fitful would be a better word for it as the air mattresses supplied ensured we felt every bump of the hard ground.

But outside, the sun was coming up and we were ready for the big one.

Sun rise

Sun rise

Day 2 is the day people dread on the Inca Trail.  A four/five hour trek from 2,700m to 4,200m to reach Dead Woman’s Pass and then a steep climb down the other side to 3,600m.  Our Group of 11 quickly split into two.  I was setting the pace with Matt, Sarah just behind with Hannah.  But then Matt (29) and just 60kg, took off like a mountain goat and showed why he was an expert climber.  God, the boy flew. Three hours later, I caught him up, smiling!  He had arrived ten minutes earlier.  But I felt better when I realised that our back marker was over an hour behind us.  It wasn’t a race, but it was a personal test of stamina and fitness.

Matt - boy wonder

Matt – boy wonder

Duck on tour...

Duck on tour…

Half way up towards Dead Woman's Pass

Half way up towards Dead Woman’s Pass

At 1000 we set off again to reach the summit, this time working as a team to keep each other going.  It was hard, very hard.  Calves hurting, the pink umbrella could clearly be seen half a mile ahead.  Heart racing, the last 250m was really tough, but as the cloud closed in we reached the summit in just over an hour.  The view down the valley spectacular, which prompted a short “live” video report.  Click on the link/arrow/photo below to play the video:

This shot from distance - 4km away and 500m higher

This shot from distance – 4km away and 500m higher – Dead Woman’s Pass

At the top - 4,200m

At the top – 4,200m, Matt stripping off

Sarah wasn’t far behind.  All that training had paid off and even though her knee was hurting from the Ecuadorian Volcano fall, she still managed a smile!

Sarah nearly there

Sarah nearly there

Team MASTERS

Team MASTERS

Group photo done, we were off down the other side, a steep track with hundreds of stairs.  It was now that M Bailey Esq came into his own as he sped downhill with poles providing an all important support. It was great fun, music loud on I-pod.  Happy Days.

Camp that night was great fun, superb views and wonderful food.

Sarah and Hannah - from Milford

Sarah and Hannah – from Milford

Great views

Great views even though it was grey!

DAY 3:  This was billed as a “gentle walk”, with the chance to see numerous Inca settlements.  The day though was far from easy.  16km of ascent and descent, with heavy rain during the middle part of the day. Throw in to the mix paths which were a metre wide with 500m drops and you get the rather soggy picture.  Matt though, got me through my bouts of vertigo by walking on the edge acting as a human shield.  Hero.

Grey start

Grey start

Trees are us

Trees are us

Kept going

Kept going

A flower

A flower

Lads

Lads!

It certainly wasn’t plain sailing as during the late morning, Dieter, a lovely 23 year old guy from Belgium, really wasn’t very well and had to be helped down to the last camp by our Number 2 Guide and two porters.  This was getting hard!

Dieter when fit... if you know what I mean

Dieter when fit… if you know what I mean

The descent continued.  This time from 3,600m to 2,600m.  Walking down thousands of stairs is arguably harder than going up.  It really plays on your knees, but we kept on going through caves and along the side of steep gorges until we found the last but one Inca settlement.  This was stunning despite the fact that it was now 6.00pm with the light rapidly fading….

Stunning

Stunning

Going down hill

Going down hill

Treemendous

Treemendous

A quiet group ate dinner that night.  Thoughts were with Dieter in his tent and two other members of the group who were beginning to struggle.  Our Guide, J then hit us with the bombshell that our wake up call was going to be 3.30am next morning, we would clear camp by 4.30am ready for the final 6kms of the trek.  The aim was to be at the Sun Gate that overlooks Machu Picchu by sunrise.

It was cold and wet and miserable, when we woke up.  But who managed to crawl out of his tent? Dieter!!  “I’ve not come all this bloody way not to do this…”  Fair Play.

0430 - pissing down

0430 – pissing down

The final push in low cloud and mist, where was the sun?  A bit of a bun fight developed as 200 people walked at quick speed along narrow ledges and up the flight of monkey stairs – 75 rock steps.  We hung back aware that a tourist had recently been accidentally “knocked” over the cliff face to her death 300m below. We’d come so far and weren’t going to not get there.

Nearly there

Nearly there

Duck getting excited

Duck getting excited

And then we arrived at the Sun Gate, which I renamed Cloud Gate…. But the mist lifted and wow what a view… take a look at the shots below.  They speak for themselves.  Oh yes and I finally met Mr Pink Umbrella – a Doctor from Delhi!

Wow what a view

Wow what a view

Cloud lift

Cloud lift

Nice views

Nice views

Duck made it

Duck made it

Wow!

Wow!

And another

And another

He made it.... Diet' left

He made it…. Dieter right

The Man with the Pink Umbrella

The Man with the Pink Umbrella

We then headed down to MP.  Another 45 minutes!  And wow what a place.  Quite amazing.

Stunning!

Stunning!

Stunning!!

Stunning!!

Lama meets drone

Lama meets drone

We loved walking around all smelly and looking a mess as all the “rich tourists” in their designer gear walked past.  They knew what we’d done.  We knew what we’d done.

As we sign off, heading south now to Lake Titicaca and on to Bolivia, we are into our final month away. May 10th and LHR T5 gets ever closer.  But we live in the moment. If we don’t then we will never appreciate fully just what we are doing and what we have achieved.

Good bye from MP and SB

Good bye from MP and SB

Categories: South America Blog | Tags: , , , ,

The lavender oil dripped on my bare chest

MARK: Her sweet perfume filled the darkened room.  Suddenly the door creaked open.  She walked around the bed and pulled back the cover.  He lay there naked, except for his fake CK underpants, clean on that morning (thank God). What was going to happen next?  His heart began to race.  “Turn over” she whispered, as she moved towards him, a smile in her eyes.

A whiff of cheap rose scent engulfed the room

A whiff of cheap rose scent engulfed the room

Reaching for his muscular shoulders, she applied the oil and….

Thanks to my two Belgian Models....

Thanks to my two Belgian models….

.... as the sun went down.... they dreamt of the morning

…. as the sun went down…. they dreamt of the morning together

Well that got you reading!

But it did happen and much much more.  It was part of our serious preparation you know for the Inca Trail, which at time of writing is less than 48 hours away.

I have had a really painful arm and shoulder since I did the abseil/canyoning in Ecuador nearly three weeks ago.  So what better excuse to have a full body massage – for my weary muscles (training hurts) and of course my frozen right shoulder.  Got to say it was the best massage I have ever had, here in Cusco…. And no, there were no extras just in case you were wondering!

We have had an amazing week in Peru.  Scaling the heights of 5,000m, seeing the 4,000m Colca Canyon (from above), spotting Condors….. and a couple of walks at altitude in preparation for one of the highlights of our Round the World Trip – the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

So not many words – instead a few photographs.  Promise to report back in about a week with news of our Inca adventure.

Sea level to 5000m in four days

Sea level to 5,000m in four days

Cahuachi Pyramids - scaling the heights at 500m

Cahuachi Pyramids – scaling the heights at 500m

Thirsty work at high level

Thirsty work at high level

4,100m - 27C

4,100m – 27C

As high as it goes..

Thin air

Celebrating at 5,000m with a little wee - a record for me except for flying

Celebrating at 5,000m with a little wee – a record for me except for flying

Relaxing in a sulphur spring... @3,600m

Relaxing in a sulphur spring… @3,600m

Colca Canyon - 4,000m deep

Colca Canyon – 4,000m deep

There is light at the end of the training tunnel

There is light at the end of the training tunnel

On top of the World

On top of the World

Posing - a first @ 3,650m

Posing – a first @ 3,650m

A load of balls.... and later, we tried cactus fruit - which was like a kiwi but much sweeter

A load of balls…. and later, we tried cactus fruit – which was like a kiwi but much sweeter

My former boss (with an o not an e) flying past and wishing us well

My former boss (with an o not an e) flying past and wishing us well

Alpaca says goodbye

Alpaca says goodbye

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