R¡Â įñ R¡Õ

28th February:
I’m getting on a plane. I’m flying with Emirates to Rio de Janeiro so it should be nice. The security at the airport in Argentina is funny. Nowhere near as strict as the UK or the USA. I manage to get onboard with a small aerosol in the form of my very cool insect cooling spray. I forgot it was in my first aid kit that’s in my smaller, hand-luggage backpack. It didn’t explode. Luckily. I’m seated within a group of about 6 guys that are on their was to Thailand (via Rio. Security isn’t that bad that I got on a different flight). The movie I choose is The Big Short about the Wall Street Crash in 2008. Great cast. Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Really good movie as well. It lasts the duration of my flight. The in-flight meal is the best meal I’ve had on a plane. Beef, peas and mashed potato! I LOVE MASH! I like a mash sandwich now and then as well. With baked beans. Yum. I’m not always fancy with the Beef Wellington you know.

When I land I breeze through immigration and security and get a cab to the apartment Ria booked for us. The first address I get to is the wrong one. But the driver has left me. I manage to somehow get the security guy of this building to call the building that I should be staying at. I then asked if he could get me a taxi and he said, ‘No!’ Ok. I’ll go find one myself. At 1.30am. In the middle of Rio. In this dark street. Adventure time. I get a taxi and we eventually find the apartment building. Hoorah! Spanish can work in Brazil, where they speak Portuguese, but I’ll have to learn some words. I getup to the apartment where a lady is waiting for me to tell me how some things work. Lovely. She leaves. I have a shower and go to bed.

RIA WILL BE HERE IN THE MORNING!!!
29th February:

IT’S THE MORNING AS RIA IS HERE!!!

I slept for about 4hrs before the doorbell was going. Do you ever get that thing when you’re asleep and you’ll hear the phone ring or the doorbell and it fits into your dream perfectly and you get confused. Is it real or just my dream? It was real. She was real. She IS real. We’re in Brazil. She’s full of beans. Obvs. I’m tired from travelling. We get dressed and head out for a breakfast beer at 9am… It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. My Dad and I have that in common. After breakfast we get some cans of beer and head to the beach. Lovely. It slowly becomes blurry throughout the day. We end up at a bar called Ella’s drinking Caipirinha’s and she made me have a shot of Cachaca, NEAT! It’s like lighter fluid. Honestly, I’m surprised I can still see. I think I can see. We head back to the apartment for a bit. Our door is at the end of a balcony which had a tiled floor. Ria was desperate for the bathroom and ran to the door. Little did she know, that our neighbour had just mopped. This resulted in Ria slipping and crashing so hard into the wall. You may have had to be there but it was hilarious. And she was fine so it doesn’t matter. The wall was also undamaged. More drinking and some pizza and more drinking. That’s all I know. BUT WE’RE IN RIO!!!

1st March:
The next day we got to the beach again and then in the evening we head to Lapa. We met up with a friend’s cousin, Darien. He’s been here for 7wks and can speak some Portuguese. Helpful. In Lapa they have some beautiful tiled steps called Selarón’s Staircase. They are the work of Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón and he said of the staircase, “It’s my tribute to the Brazilian people”. He lived next to the steps and wanted to make them look better as he saw them every day so started with yellow, green and blue tiles (same colours as Brazil’s national flag). People mocked him but soon changed their mind when they really started to take shape. In January 2013′ Jorge was found dead on the steps with burn marks. I couldn’t find any further information about his death.

Lapa is where the party’s at! We drink and dance and drink and dance and drink and drink and drink. My body isn’t used to this now. Although, it does need training for when I return home as I’m sure everyone is planning a party for me. Right?

Buenas dias, Buenos Aires

I had the worst chest pain. It started just before I got to Mendoza but the day that I was leaving it was extreme. I went to a pharmacy and got some strong paracetamol which helped for a while. My bus was at 10pm that night so I stayed at my hostel and tried not to move. When the time came for me to leave to head for the bus terminal, the thought of picking up my backpack scared the hell out of me. Somehow I managed to and got to the bus terminal and waited for my bus. While I was waiting, there were some pickpockets around. I’ve always been able to notice someone acting suspiciously and I already felt suspected that of these people but then one of the ladies working on the buses (not Olive), gave me a nod and looked at them too. I think I would have been arrested if they tried to take my stuff. I really weren’t in the mood for them. Plus I have my handy pocket knife conveniently in my pocket and I swear I would have used it. Well, in my head I would. I recently watched ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’. Ben Stiller as the lead role. I think my imagination has become like that. It takes me ages to watch a Ben Stiller movie. He makes me cringe. And then when I do, by the end of the movie I love him. I get on the bus from Mendoza to Buenos Aires. I’m in agony. I want to cry but I hold it in. I’m sitting next to a young girl. Maybe 15 years old. She took her jumper off. Then she put it back on. Then she took it off again. Then she put it back on. Then she took it off again. Then she laid it over herself. Then she clicked her fingers. Then she moved her body as if trying to get comfortable EVERY 10 SECONDS! Sometimes I’d try to count how long between each fidget and I wouldn’t get past 3 seconds. Listen, you have to make your own entertainment when on a bus and I also need to distract myself from this pain. I do this for the best part of 16 HOURS! The pain was so excruciating and I couldn’t move properly. I couldn’t even sit still properly. Just breathing or my beating heart was hurting. I text mum to tell her and to ask her to locate me a hospital with English speaking doctors for when I arrive. I would go and drop my bag off and then go. Several hours later it was worse and so I decided to go straight to the hospital. I never go to hospitals. The pain was the worst pain I ever had. I was really scared. And alone. Every time I text Mum or Sal it made me cry because I wanted either one of them to be here. Or for me to be back there. Mum asked me to start considering coming home. I said I already had. I think that made her worry more. If I could teleport, which is a thing I seem to be obsessed with and something I might start working on when I get home, then I would have. I couldn’t breathe without being in pain. I get a taxi from the bus terminal and am on my way to the hospital when I just break down. The driver looked confused as hell but could see I was in discomfort and told me to calm down and put the AC on and I drank some water. I calmed myself down as the crying and deep breathing were just hurting more. When I arrived at the hospital the security guard helped me straight to ‘check-in’ and I did. I couldn’t stop the tears. Which may have helped in me getting seen quicker. My lack of breathing also. I was seen by triage. And then no more than 15mins later by the doctor. He asked me to get up on the bed to lie down. This was such a task. I felt useless. Stupid. He asked if I was on my own and I said yes. Which made me cry again. He hooked me up to something like an ECG to check my heart. It was still beating. I could feel it. It was hurting too. But thankfully it was fine. I hoped it would be but there was a small doubt. I’m relatively fit. He listened to my chest and then asked me to sit up. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even manage to sit up without his help. He listened to my back and felt my chest and concluded I have torn a muscle in my chest. Really? That sounds like nothing to me. I feel like an idiot now. But let me tell you, this pain is no joke. I have never felt any pain like it. Only once before maybe when I fucked my shoulder from pulling too many pints with the same arm. Not joking. Nanny Muriel always told me to switch arms. I didn’t listen. Wish I had. Anyway, he gives me some painkillers via injection and tells me to stay still for a while. He comes back 20mins later and asks how I feel. I (almost) hop off the bed and skip out. No, but the painkiller is incredible. I can move and walk about. He said my backpack was too heavy and that I shouldn’t be lifting such things. Bullshit. I’ve lifted 9 keg cask ale barrels from the ground up on to a ledge that’s maybe 40cm high. Granted, I wasn’t lifting it from the floor and hoisting it onto my back. Fine. I’ll throw some stuff away. I can survive with one bikini, a couple tops and some jeans and shorts. I’m gonna have to. I literally cannot carry it.

Once I get to my hostel I lay down for a bit and relax. The pain is almost nothing when I just lie flat on my back. I haven’t eaten since yesterday lunchtime though so I head out for some food. To finish off a bad day I have a really bad carbonara. It was so bad that I didn’t even eat it. I had a cigarette instead. I go to bed at around 11pm.

Two of my room mates get in from a night out at around 5am. I laid in bed envious and reminiscent of when I used to do that. I’m sure I will when I get home. For a couple weeks anyway. Then I’ll go to work. Maybe. Ha! I have that imagination now don’t I and I imagine being a kept woman that is either going to become a successful writer or a food critic. Which brings me onto my next story. Seeing as I’ve been in agony and hardly eaten for two days, I decided I would indulge. I found the best restaurant in town which boasts a 7 course tasting menu with pairing wines. Yes please. Once did this in Scotland with Miles and Glenn and it was the best dining experience I’ve ever had. The restaurant is called iLatina. Don’t think it’s affiliated with iPhone. Didn’t ask. I did ask for a booking for Sunday but they’re closed then and had one for tonight (Saturday) at 10.30pm. I’ve never eaten that late and I’m normally asleep by then now, but I accept as this opportunity is not to be missed. I arrive just before 10pm and they seat me immediately. Current diners look at me as I walk in alone. I’ve started using this to my advantage. Maybe I’m too cool to eat with other people? Maybe I eat horribly and people are too cool to eat with me? Maybe I’m travelling alone? Or maybe I’m a food critic? Ok I’ll go with the latter. Awesome. My new role is a food critic. I swirl my wine, chew my food and admire the head chef from my own plate when at the 5th course there is some beetroot jús on my plate which I use when I have finished with the braised pork in Colombian coffee and sugarcane reduction, to write the word ‘WOW’, using the end of my carrot. The waiter laughs and I can see the other customers envious of my artistic display of appreciation.
‘Why didn’t we think of that?’
Hopefully, because you’re in someone else’s company and are completely taken by them. Not attention seeking like me. The chef comes over and thanks me for my work of art and I thank him for his! Each course is masterful. The flavours chosen compliment each other wonderfully. The waiters and I waitresses are knowledgable, extremely efficient and they didn’t spill anything on me. Always a plus. Some of the dishes just make my gush and sigh with satisfaction. I wish you were all here to taste this. The presentation makes you taste the tastes before you taste the tastes. Aesthetically pleasing. Tastebud pleasing. Emotionally pleasing. I leave feeling like a queen. When I was a full-time smoker, one of my favourite cigarettes was after dinner. I didn’t bring my cigarettes with me tonight (because I was eating) but I NEEDED one! I asked the waiter if he smoked and I didn’t even have to explain why. He just knew!

I’m going to rest in Buenos Aires and fly to Rio arriving just before Ria does. She can bring me breakfast in bed in our apartment. I’m missing Iguazu Falls which I’m gutted about. But, on the positive side, at least I’m not coming home early. I am now off to Rio for two weeks with one of my best pals. Oh, and then Jordan arrives haha.

30hrs, 1 border and FREE WINE!

23 February:
I’m about to set off on what could possibly be one of the biggest journeys of my life. Not spiritually or life changing, well not that I know of, but I’m about to board a bus that will leave San Pedro De Atacama at 10.15am on 23rd February 2016 and arrive in Santiago at 8.45am on 24th February 2016.. Yes friends, I will be on this bus for almost 24hrs. Then I hope to get a connection to Mendoza straight away, which is another 8hrs. So, I’m calling this first bus, MY bus. I’ll see people come and go. We’ll share stories and/or smiles. I’ll entertain myself in many different ways as I probably start to question my life again, much as at Laguna 69.

We set off and I’m next to a lady called Joanna who has ok English, and I have ok Spanish. She asked how long I’d been speaking Spanish for and I said almost 2 months. I feel like it should be better for learning for this length of time. I mean, I get by. But sometimes they talk too fast and I don’t have a clue what they’re saying. It’s like when a child tries to talk to you. And you really want to understand but you can’t and they get annoyed and you get upset. Joanna and I manage to have a conversation though in Spanglish and she thinks I’m brave for coming somewhere that I can’t speak the language. I said I’m crazy. She laughed. She’s on the bus for 5hrs before we bid each other farewell and I’m on my own. Well, there are there are other people on my bus. In my section. I opted for the seat that costs around £80. It turns into a bed, you see. Even at my height I had enough room to stretch my legs fully. I’m on here for almost 24hrs. I need comfort. And comfort I have.

Joanna’s seat remains vacant after this drop off and pick up, but the seat across the aisle from me is now taken by a rather plump lady. Don’t know why that description was necessary. See, if I write a book it would have to be fiction because I don’t like describing real people as fat or large or plump or obese. Getting carried away there. Anyway, the thing that interests me about this woman is her love of ‘selfies’. She’s just kicking back, sorting her hair out, putting her sunnies on, pouting like a duck and taking selfies. It’s fine. I’m so used to seeing people do this now and being a lone traveller (who refuses to buy a selfie-stick), I have had to take the odd selfie. However, I do it discreetly. I think it’s so vain. I’m my case, not so much, just wanna prove I was somewhere really. The woman is using her phone (she has two so I’m assuming one is just for selfies), and she doesn’t have this phone on silent. What’s the word for the noise that a camera makes? Normally when you’re explaining it in person what do you do? I make the noise with my mouth, hold up an imaginary camera (an actual one, not a phone) and push the ‘button’. I also wink as I make the noise with my mouth. I could google the name but this is more fun so if you know the answer, send it on a postcard to Carly @ NFA! Anyway, I hear this sound like a hundred times. Not even exaggerating. I don’t get it.

I’m reading a book ‘Winner Of The National Book Award’ by Jincy Willett. It’s getting better. I think the reason I’ve not stuck with reading before is that if it isn’t any good by the third chapter, I give up. I’ve started giving it til the 5th chapter now and then usually (well, the last two books), it has you wanting to read on. Maybe this could be the life altering moment I was talking about. Books! I don’t usually have time to sit and read anyway and what time I do have, I’ll watch cartoons because they’re pleasing on my tired eye. But now I have soooooooo much time, and no cartoons, books are great! The book is about a woman’s sister who releases a book about (I think, we’re getting there), killing her husband. The sister is promiscuous and had always used her sexuality to have men in the palm of her hands, but this man changed her after his own mother had treated him so cruelly that he then hated all women. The sister, telling the story, is the opposite and is a librarian. (Backing up my younger-selfs theory that you can’t read books and have sex.) It’s a good book. I’m enjoying it. The writer is really funny so I’d be interested to read more of her work.

I have a nap.

Sal hasn’t been too well and has pulled a muscle in her chest from coughing too much. I thought I had developed a sympathy pain but then I realised that was impossible as I don’t actually give a shit! (Joking, obvs). I thought I was having a slow heart attach after I thought we were being hijacked the other night. Sounds silly now. We were pulled over at the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, all lights off and the engine too. There seemed to be some sort of commotion, doors slamming, men with torches. Sounded like an argument. Then I saw two men in white paper overalls and this is when my fake heart attack started and I thought we were being hijacked! What am I gonna do? When I worry about the bus crashing, I think I can survive that. But if I got shot, I think I’d just die. Probably from the shock of it. Or the blood loss. So I’m a bit worried right now. We start moving again and I ask some girls next to me what was going on. They said there was a problem with the electrics. When I told mum, she said, “Why didn’t you call me?”
And say what, “I think we’re being hijacked. Oh no, it’s the electrics. Go back to sleep.” Yeah right. Anyway, not hijacked. Not shot. Not sympathy pains. I too have pulled a muscle in my chest from my ridiculous backpack. I’m gonna throw it all away. I’ve already lost three pairs of shorts and three bikinis. Don’t ask me how. I’ve also lost my mind but that was to be expected. In place of my mind, I have gained this ridiculous imagination. I’m never gonna go out again after this. Either that or I will because I survived a hijacking and a heart attack. Ria is arriving on 29th Feb, meeting in Rio. She can bring me stuff.

Foot update: Was on video call to Mum and she asked how my foot was. I said, “Yeah it’s alright”, and tried to move it and then immediately changed my mind. She found this hilarious. Thanks, Mum. Apparently it was my face.

We make another stop another 5hrs later (I think it’s 5hrs, I’m losing track already). And we hop off for a stretch of the legs and fresh air. It feels weird outside now. Like, it can’t be trusted. I stay for a minute then get back in bed/seat/my bus! The movie is a shared movie, you have to plug your headphones in if you want to listen. To it in Spanish. Or just read the subtitles. In Spanish. One movie was Terminator. Think it was the recent one. Another was Man Up, which I watched just last week, or the week before. It’s ok. I’m more than engrossed in this book. I wanted to finish it before Brazil, which I definitely will.

Some more time passes and now I have a new neighbour next to me. I’d just nodded off in bed and I’m the aisle seat. He wakes me gently and I let him by. I prefer an aisle seat. One, so I can stretch my legs, but two, it’s also easier to come and go. Not sure where I’m coming and going to in this imaginary scenario but play along. The bus from Calama to San Pedro De Atacama I should have have an aisle seat. Instead I had a stupid selfish bitch that was sitting in my sit and when I said, “Estoy asiento veinte”, she just got up and let me sit by the window. I’d already just done a 12hr journey so couldn’t be bothered to argue. Plus, if she wants it that much, have it. Bad karma will get her. Plus, the voodoo doll I’m sticking pins in. Ok, I’ve lost it now. How long have I been in here? I said to Sal that it’s like being sent to solidarity for being naughty. I’ve been so good! I might start a tally on my arm every time I think an hour has passed. Without checking, obvs. I go back to sleep, on and off until 7.30am. We’re almost in Santiago now.

We arrive at 9am. I go and book a ticket for Mendoza which is at 10.30am. I get a coffee (I miss tea) and some fresh air for an hour. Whenever I brush my teeth I feel cleaner but I still feel gross. I don’t smell, yet, but I feel sticky. The bus had AC but you know when you just get that weird stickiness. I’m not explaining this very well. Hot people will get it. People that run hot, I mean. For example, I was so hot the other night waiting for my bus that my arms were sweating… New level of gross. I’m looking for wifi. Can’t find any. Is this what it was like before it? Peaceful. I find some with not a great signal but enough to ask mum to book me a hostel as, one) signal isn’t that great and two) don’t really want my phone or iPad out longer than necessary. Can never be too careful. I’ve heard terrible things about Brazil. From friends and locals regarding robberies.

I board my bus and take time to prepare myself for the excitement of a glass of red wine and a gorgeous piece of steak. I’m salivating. I’ll have to shower first, of course. It just occurred to me that by the time I get there, I’ll have been wearing the same underwear (and clothes, I’m not just wearing underwear) for over 30 hours. Well, I couldn’t exactly take them off and air my dirty laundry whilst on a bus. Could I? Do people? I got a nice seat. I always get nice seats now and I have two sandwiches from my previous bus that they gave us for lunch and dinner, which I didn’t eat because I had a cigarette instead. I’ve been replacing the odd meal with a cigarette. Very strange. I don’t read. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink coffee. And now I do all of those things. I no longer get drunk, only enjoy a sensible glass with a dinner now and then. I reckon two pints when I’m back and I’ll be ON my back. I’ll be exactly the same as I was before I left, just lighter and darker. Work it out.

I can’t believe it’s only 4 days til Rio. Ria lands at around 6am I think. I jus got so lost in beautiful Peru, on the beaches, by the pool, that if isn’t realise time was passing me by. And now I’m on this Top Gear Challenge to Rio. Can’t wait to work out the distance travelled. Not just on this stint but since we finished tour before Christmas. And then if I include that travel as well.. Then wow!

I was on that bus for 22hrs before and I didn’t figure out how to connect to their ‘Tur Bus Play’. But I just have. There are movies I can watch in English. How funny. Oh well, better late than never. I also have another saying, ‘Better late than never but never late is better’. I heard that somewhere. Can’t remember. I like it. And I’m not late for things anymore. Well, unless I’m late to meet Ria in Rio. That could be the worst. I was born late. Originally due on the 10th December and finally arriving on 28th December after my Nanny Bet told my mum to drink a weird potion. “Drink this and babe will be here in 2 days.” (It was 26th December).
Think it was orange juice and malt or something. I’ll ask Mum. Anyway, next day Mum thought she wasn’t going to live. Then the next day she had all the reason to live. I WAS BORN! Angels gather and rejoice!

These long journeys don’t half make me waffle.

Cross over into Argentina and I automatically adopt my Attenborough voice. ‘And here we are in Patagonia’.
I’m giddy with tiredness, dazed and confused from all the travel, drunk with excitement to be in Mendoza.
The drive here was gorgeous too. Tunnels going through mountains. Great roads to be on for my Top Gear Challenge of getting to Rio by 29th Feb.

Sorry this hasn’t been more exciting but it’s hard when I’ve been on buses for 30hrs. Or whatever it is now.

Drunk with excitement soon turned into drunk with wine when I arrived at my hostel. Free wine between 7pm and 9pm. Que? En serio? Yes. Free wine! I’m so happy. I drink all of it and then go and have some delicious meat. I think I love Argentina already.

San Pedro De Atacama

I’m starting to lose track of what I’m doing because of the tight schedule that I’m on, which is obviously my own fault because I got distracted by the beaches and beauty of Peru.

I manage to get a night in San Pedro De Atacama, Chile though and visit the Valle De La Luna. Or The Moon Valley to us lot. It’s a vast area of nothing and beauty at the same time.

We are here for the sunset. I wasn’t overly impressed. The best sunset I’ve ever seen was at The Minack Theatre in Cornwall. That’ll take some beating.

Arequipa, Peru to Arica, Chile

I spent the day wandering around Arequipa. It has a beautiful town but I’m getting a bit sick of Plaza De Armas’ now. I think I’m just tired. I haven’t had a proper sleep in ages. I wander into a restaurant and have a delicious tomato noodle soup with an egg in it. It’s almost like a laksa but less creamy. Delicious. And cheap. I wander around some more before heading back to the hostel. I’m a tall person, I know that. So I stand out as Peruvians are all tiny (Jason – haha!) If I had a pound for every time someone looked at me for longer than 5 seconds, I could stay out here forever. I don’t mind.

My bus is at 10pm so I leave the hostel around 9pm. The terminal is so busy. Packed full of people trying to get out of this city ha. I’m joking, Arequipa is nice. My bus is a 6hr journey to Tacna. The movie choice (shared movie) is ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’. It’s alright. Quite funny. When we get to Moquegua and just as I start to nod off, we have to make a stop. Here they check our bags for any fruits and/or vegetables. Not entirely sure why and not rally interested as I’m tired and irritable. I mean, they only scanned our personal bags. Not my main backpack which was in the luggage bay. Fuck sake. We get back on and carry on our journey. The bus is supposed to travel no faster than 90kph. It has a digital speedometer in our area so we can see the speed. If it goes over said 90kph, as message scrolls across saying that we’re exceeding the limit. How am I supposed to sleep when it says that we ARE exceeding the limit. I had just started feeling like I wasn’t going to die on a bus but now I’m not sure again. It’s 1.30am and we’re due to arrive in Tacna at 4am. And we do. They let us stay on the bus which I thought was nice as I don’t like being somewhere at 4am really. You gotta be careful. I nap for an hour or so and leave around 6am to walk across to the international terminal.

On my way in, guys are asking if I need a lift. Erm, no thanks. I’d love to hitchhike but I can’t take that risk. If I wasn’t on my own then yeah. Imagine the stories from that! Plus, I think my family are worried enough without me getting into cars with strange men. So I go into the terminal and get in a car with not one, but three strange men and a woman (haha). You can either get a bus to cross the border into Arica or a Collectivo which is a shared taxi. The shared taxi costs $3000 Chilean Pesos which is £3. It’s a bit cramped in the car but it’s quicker than the bus. And I want to get to my hostel to have a nap. Now this was the worst experience of my life. The driver kept nodding off!!! I had my belt on as I always do but I was in the middle and it was only one of those lap belts. Belts aren’t a big thing out here. As in, all taxis have the buckles pushed down and hidden. I always ask for them to bring it out. But as I’m in the middle I have the shit belt. I kept asking him questions and coughing in order to keep him awake. I can’t die now!! I have so much to do!! We get to the Peru part of the border and stop so we can get stamped out. Then we drive up to the Chile border and get stamped in. I just remembered that I have some Coca leaves in my bag… That’ll be ok won’t it? I don’t want to go to jail either. I have so much to do!! I get through anyway. It’s probably not a big thing but I must ditch them before I fly to America. Surely! Anyway, having the little walk around I thought would do him good as we get back got into the car to drive to the Arica Bus Terminal. He was doing it again. I was wishing away time like wishing I don’t get Zika. Finally we arrive and I’m alive. I’m born again! I’m more dramatic than ever! I really wish our drama department at school had been better. All I remember doing in drama was pretending to be a robot and watching movies because our teacher wasn’t well. She was in her office taking tablets…

I walk to my hostel, Sunny Days, which is just a 5min walk away. As soon as I walk in I am offered breakfast which I thought was really lovely. I declined as I wasn’t sure if it was time for breakfast or dinner. I just needed a shower and a nap. I’ve been up for ages! 24hrs… Apart from that hour or so nap. I showered and had a lie down and nodded off. When I woke up I went for walk around the town. Chileans speak a different kind of Spanish and I’m struggling to understand anything they say. But apparently everyone does, it’s just a thing. And so far, they’re less helpful than the people from Ecuador and Peru. I asked a taxi driver to take me to the Plaza De Armas. He took me to a hostel. I couldn’t really explain to him, as I said, they speak differently here. So I paid £3 to be dropped here and navigated my way back to where I first got the taxi from haha. Then I got a bus. It’s expensive here.

I have a lovely dinner in the evening. A delicious steak, a glass of Chilean red and even a tequila. Probably the best meal I’ve had since I’ve been away. Paid for it though in the ol’ cajero.

Lake Titicaca aka Lake TitiCarly

18th February:
‘It’s a lake. The end’. Is what I was going to write for this blog before I went to Lake Titicaca. I was wrong and pleasantly surprised by the magic of it. I already knew it was the largest lake in South America and the highest lake in the world (12,500ft), but I wasn’t expecting to admire the craftsmanship and engineering that it takes to make the Floating Islands work. I’d never thought about it. There are 87 individual islands where there is thick, deep soil and then on top of that they layer bamboo sticks, alternating the direction of them, so it almost has a weaved effect. They put new shoots down every day or week? They put new shoots under the houses every year. This means that they pick the house up and lay down the new foundations. Also, they move the houses when it is winter to face the other way. Really quite amazing. The biggest fish in the lake are Trout and Kingfish. Kingfish comes from Argentina, apparently. I remember when Glenn bought some ingredients, Kingfish being one of them and let me play ‘Ready, Steady Cook’. Made a delicious soba noodle soup. Mmm! One thing, I didn’t see very many men on the islands. Whether they go back to the mainland to work, I didn’t find out. I will. The women wear bright, bright skirts and jackets and wave at tourists going by on boats to entice them to their island so that they can try to sell souvenirs that they have made. I bought two ridiculous cushion covers for 70 soles which is just over £12. When I was booking my hostel there was an option to stay on one of the islands and I was tempted but didn’t and so far that’s my only regret. I think it would have been an amazing experience. Next time. Locals say that if you turn a map of Lake Titicaca upside down it looks like a Puma is catching a Rabbit. Our guide said they’d been drinking too much Coca Tea. Peru is really, really beautiful and I’m glad of my time here. I’m onto Arequipa next but I’m just going to catch another bus to Tacna and then another bus to Arica, Chile. I might need to stay there for day as I’ll have travelled a lot and there’s a beach… I get so distracted by beaches.

‘You have really good English’, someone said to me.
‘Thanks. I’m from England’.
I’m from England and it was only ‘really good’, not amazing, as hoped they might have said. I got a B in English Language, I’ll have you know.

So I’m starting my three destinations trip in hopefully fewer days, right now! Because I want to pay for the best transport I’m sacrificing with my eating. I’ve just ordered a bowl of mushroom soup and a coca tea. The bowl is massive and it’s really tasty! This also is me trying to go back to veggie until I’m in Argentina where I will have some beautiful steak. I also need (not really) to try Cuy which is Guinea Pig.. I’ve put it off all this time but feel like I should try it. Just so I can say that I have and let you all know. This might be a never ending bowl of soup… And for 8 soles, which is just over £1.50, you can’t go wrong.

Juliaca, a small town slightly north of Puno has to have the worse roads I’ve ever come across. They’re not even roads. The bus somehow fights it’s way through, swaying left and right like a boxer avoid a hit. How it doesn’t tip over is beyond me.

Movie time on the bus and I’m relieved that we have shared screens so I’m not conscious of being judge of my film choice. First movie is ‘The Intern’ where Robert De Niro is Anne Hathaway’s senior citizen intern as part of a new scheme her company are doing. It’s a really good film. Heart warming. Then they choose ‘Martian’ with Matt Damon. Wow! What a clever film. If you haven’t seen it, he manages to grow potatoes on Mars. Which I have to say, I think any Irish person could do (LOL). He ends up being stranded there for something silly like 600 days. It’s really good. Had my full attention, which is no easy task. I’m tired now but I can’t sleep.

I’ve arrived in Arequipa. I’m tired and grumpy. Taxi driver didn’t have a clue. I had to direct him. The internet is shit and my bus isn’t until 10pm tomorrow night, arriving in Tacna at 4am. I hate those ones but will find out tomorrow what time the connecting bus to Arica in Chile is. FUUUUUCCCCCCKK! Just slammed the window on my finger. Right, I’m going to sleep before anything else bad can happen. Buenos fucking noches. Oh wait, one more stupid thing. I have a real problem with not being able to sleep if I don’t have any lip balm. Well I have lost mine and my lips are sore and needed some moisture. DO NOT THINK IT’S OK TO USE YOUR DOVE BODY STICK DEODORANT AS A SUBSTITUTE. IT IS NOT! (Don’t worry I used the side bit that hadn’t been in contact with my armpit – Sorry Nan). Goodbye x

You know, when Puno!

17th February:
I got up at 6.30am to get ready for my 8am bus from Cusco to Puno, so I can go to Lake Titicaca. It’s a 7hr journey. My seat is fine. I’ve started a new thing called “TFC” or “Tactical Film Choice”. This should be done when you have a personal tv that is visible to others around you. Now, I’m not one for a big movie that is too emotionally heavy. I have my own emotions to deal with so I pretty much just watch cartoons. Ranging from Scooby Doo to The Simpsons to Family Guy to King of the Hill to Bob’s Burgers to Bojack Horseman to Archer to anything Disney and Pixar. Any cartoon! However, when someone could be watching my first choice of movie, I suddenly become a bit conscious of my screen-watching-habits. So I try to watch something else first. This is harder when the title is in Spanish and you really do have to judge a book (movie) by its cover.
‘This looks like a serious movie’, as I point at the one with two guys and a girl all looking very serious. You know the kind. It’s a dark shot, they look like they might be running, the cast’s names are in white and the title is probably in yellow and at an angle. It might be underlined. It’s in the ‘Action’ category. I watch it. It’s alright. Nothing to write home about. Or to write a blog about. Oh. Wait. Sorry. The second one is in the ‘Rom-Com’ section and Charlize Theron is on the cover. She rarely does wrong. Although she does here. ‘Rom-Com’. I’ve had more romance and comedy when Sal has been asleep. No. At a funeral? No. Erm, on an escalator in Macy’s in Boston. This ones actually true. A guy said he liked my t-shirt. It said, ‘Beavers’. Then he asked me out. I politely declined. I give up with ‘normal’ movies and opt for Shawn The Sheep. Amazes me how a movie with no words can be better than two with tons of them. I’ve watched a couple of silent movies though and enjoyed those. There’s an app called BFI (British Film Institute) on a smart tv. The one I watched had a woman that was competing in a face gurning competition. Hilarious as you can imagine. I got into those after spending too much time with Glenn. He’s made me watch some weird things. Glenn, Miles and I play ‘Film Club’. Someone picks a movie and everyone else has to watch. If you pick two bad ones in a row, you get timed-out for a bit. Look forward to almost two months of film club (we’re on a UK tour) at the end of the year. We also play a game called ‘Excuse me, Sir’ but I’ll have to ask for permission before I give that one away.

This 7hr journey feels unusually long. Maybe because I’m so tired but I can’t sleep because I have temperamental wifi. Sounds like a personal condition. I’m fine. Honest! Eventually arrive and the first thing I do is book a boat trip to go to The Floating Islands, for the morning. Will be nice to be close to the water again.

I get to my hostel, El Manzano and I have A PRIVATE ROOM WITH A DOUBLE BED!! I’ve been sleeping like The Princess and The Pea recently (top bunk). I lay down right away, after logging in on the wifi of course, and stretch out. Hours pass. I’m not asleep just talking to mum and to Handsome Chris. It’s his birthday. This time last year I was making various shots that were Midori based (a watermelon liqueur). That’s when we discovered Crocodile Sperm (Sorry Nan). We probably didn’t. Steve Irwin may have done. It’s Midori and then a layer of double cream on top. Delicious. Or the Bob Marley. Which was jaigermeister, Cointreau and Midori. There were more but we’d had a lot by then and I can’t remember.

Then I FaceTime Sal for a bit. I think once I get back it’s going to be weird seeing people, and seeing Sal, so we decided that she’ll sit in the living room, I’ll stay in the bedroom and we’ll FaceTime a bit to ease ourselves back in. I can’t wait. I mean, you stay single for almost 4 years, decide to go travelling and THEN you fall in love. You might think the universe was against me. I don’t think that at all. I’m making such wonderful memories and I have someone to come home to. And we can always photoshop her into the pics of me out here anyway. Or come back. I think we will. Greece first though. Already thinking about going away again, with Sal though.. I’ve also been thinking about being back home and it’s going to be so surreal. I’ll probably cry for the first week.

Anyway, I must be tired now as I’m revealing way too much. I’m off to bed to watch some cartoons now no one is watching. Or are they? Gross. Lake Titicaca (haha) in the morning before a 6hr bus journey to Arequipa. Can’t wait to calculate how many miles I’ve covered by the time I get home. I’ll be like an old car that has too high a mileage. Sigh.

Oh, I had some dinner in the main square; local trout which was one of the best meals I’ve had since I’ve been here and also treated myself to a glass of red wine  £2 though, expensive!

Buenos Noches.

PS: If I become one of those pretentious travelling types that name drops a different destination to every other conversation, please tell me and I’ll give you £50.