16th February:
I didn’t get them back. My good karma won’t let me. I had even got all my stuff ready the night before so all I had to do was grab my bag and go. I didn’t have a great nights sleep either. Whenever I have to be up early, I wake up every hour because I get so worried about oversleeping. And maybe I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited. I got up just before 4am, got ready and my bus came around 5am. I bundle into a Sprinter van and we do a couple more pick-ups before making our way to the train station, Ollantaytambo, which is around 2hrs away. Once there we get the train to Machu Picchu which is 1hr and 45mins. It’s a nice train. Until the French invade. I didn’t realise how much they annoy me. I shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush and I’m sorry. One of the women sounds like she doesn’t even know French though. Literally, as if she is making it up. “Errr je mapelle Eiffel Tower. Blue blee blue. Croissant”. I put my headphones in to block them all out. I may sound miserable but it’s now 7.20am.

Off we go on our train and the scenery (haven’t said that for a while), is gorgeous. The rocking motion of a train always makes me nod off and I get 30 winks. 30. Not 40. Once off the train we get a shuttle bus which will take 25mins to take us to the entrance of Machu Picchu. It’s all been quite long so far. I just want to get there and see it!!! I would love to have been able to hike it though. The Inka Trail sounds amazing. Maybe I’ll drag Sal back here for it. Actually, no. We’re going to Santorini and all I’m going to do is nothing. I might talk to her.

We meet our guide called Wilfredo. He was really lovely. He takes people around Machu Picchu twice a day! When we first started it was raining a bit but it soon cleared. There was me and three couples. (Gooseberry). One of the couples looked like they were having the worst time. They hardly spoke to each other and whenever the guide was talking, she was off taking selfies. Her face annoyed me. We start walking up some steps and round corners. I had some coco leaves which were given to me by the lovely couple I met in Huaraz. They said to chew them a bit and then keep them inside your cheeks so that you can benefit from them as you’re walking around. They certainly did something. I felt energetic. Or again, maybe it was the excitement. We walk up a few more steps and then there it is. I can’t even explain it properly. No words or photos do it justice. And to think, it wasn’t discovered until 1911. That’s not even that long ago. A chap called Hiram Bingham discovered it and it is believed to have been there since the 15th century. Wow! I’ve avoided learning about history ever since my teacher got an erection in one of the lessons, although I was somewhat in awe of his obvious passion for the subject, I kinda just stopped listening. But now I want to know more about this place. Has everywhere been found? What if I discover a new place? I could write a book like ol’ Hiram did. I don’t use this word much but it’s just breathtaking here. Every different angle is just amazing. There’s a part called The Temple of Sun and here there were three ‘Windows’ which were used to tell which time of the year it was. When the sun rose over a particular mountain it meant it was summer solstice. As the angle of the shadow changed, it meant the month was changing too. How clever is that!? I’m completely in love with this place. It’s so fascinating. I’m gonna read up on it some more. I want to stay here and not take that long trip back to Cusco.

My bus tomorrow morning is at 8am. A 6.5hr drive to Puno where I will see Lake Titicaca. I’ll stay there for one night before heading to Arequipa, before heading to Arica which is right at the top of Chile. The next couple weeks are going to be incredible.

The road to Cusco

14th February:
It’s my final day in Huacachina. I’ve developed an inability to stay in one place for longer than three days. By then I’m getting fidgety and want to move on. My bus isn’t until 6.20pm so I stay by the pool all day and prepare myself for the 18hr bus journey to Cusco. I realised the date is the 14th February. I also realised that I have 15 days to get to Rio. Now, have a look at a map if you’re not familiar with where I am and where Rio is.. Quite far isn’t it. And I have several destinations that I still want to go to, crossing three borders. It’s fine. I will be able to make it. It’s going to be fun and exhausting and exciting, and should hopefully make for some good blogging.

I get on my bus and I’ve got a shit seat. It’s downstairs at the back which means I cannot recline fully. I’ve gone from never getting buses in London to a bus snob in South America. I watch a movie with Reese Witherspoon playing a clumsy cop and the Latin American woman from “Modern Family”. I can never remember her name. I love the way she talks though. It’s a funny movie. But then there’s a guy from EastEnders (when I used to watch it and thought I’d get all my culture from that because sometimes they had away days), anyway, he was doing the worst Texan accent. Kept dropping back into EastEnd. He sounded like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (still one of my favourite movies of all time). Then I watched a movie, wasn’t even worth remembering the title. You know a movie where you’re waiting for something to happen and before you know it you’ve invested too much time to stop. Funnily enough though, it was about an 18yr old girl that was writing a blog. I’m writing a blog! I’m… 1(2)8! She was very promiscuous. Ah we’re no longer alike. She wrote her blog in a different name so she could be totally open and honest about the fact that she was cheating on her boyfriend with a 32yr old man who had a girlfriend. Oh the irony. Anyway, it wasn’t great. I think I even nodded off.

I did try to get some sleep. That went as badly as the film. The road from Ica to Cusco is even more windy than any of the others. It was like, right hand down for ten seconds, then left hand down for ten seconds, then right hand down for ten seconds, then left hand down for ten seconds, then right hand down for ten seconds, then left hand down for ten seconds, then right hand down for ten seconds, then left hand down for ten seconds. Multiply that by 18hrs… Yeah! I imagine the driver was turning the steering wheel like they used to in old black and white movies to try and show that the car was being driven. Just erratically turning the steering wheel left and right.

15th February:
I arrive in Cusco around midday and head to my hostel, Pariwana, which is in a really cool part of the town. I drop my bag and head out to arrange my trip to Macho Picchu, which will be for the following day. Ticket sorted for an unreasonable time of 4.30am, I head off to get a late lunch. I decided to try Alpaca. Considering last week I was going veggie for the remainder of my stay (due to some dodgy meat in Huaraz), I must say my choice of Alpaca was unexpected. It kind of tasted like Pigeon. It was ok. Not sure. I’d have it again. I walk around and go to the Plaza De Armas, a beautiful square with more stunning buildings.

As I’m deciding that I need an early night, I also decide that I am fed up with not being able to see properly so drop into one of about a hundred opticians in the area. No idea why there are that many but there are. I manage to explain that I lost my glasses and I need some news ones and that I can’t see far away. They give me an eye test and we figure out what works and they say it will be ready in half an hour. HALF AN HOUR!! I thought I wasn’t understanding properly but I was and it was that quick. And the total price of the whole thing was £25. I skip off down the street declaring how happy I am and thanking them, and also feeling extremely proud of my Spanish. Granted, I imagine to someone that is fluent in the language it probably sounds like someone is constantly pressing the mute button on and off as I speak, but I just got some new bloody glasses and I can see!!!

I go to bed at 10pm, I’ll get up around 4am. Gross. The girls that I’m sharing with arrive back as I nod off and crash around a bit. I know we’re all sharing and need to be understanding of others. I’ll just get them back in the morning, I think.


10th February:
I got my foot checked. I have a small hairline stress fracture. I cried when I found out. It’s worse knowing what it is. When I didn’t know I felt like I could do anything. Like I was invincible. They strapped it up and said I needed a support boot but they didn’t have any. I’ll have to try the next place that I go to, which is Huacachina, a little town just outside of Ica.

My bus is a 10pm, 8hr journey to Lima where I will then get a connection to Ica. Another 5hrs. The first bus is fine. I’m travelling with Cruz Del Sur as much as I can. They’re a bit more expensive but they are the safest I’ve encountered so far. You also get to check in your bag like an hour before you depart which is great when my bag seems to now weigh 19kg. A whole kg up from last week. I haven’t been force feeding it new things. I get on the bus and end up having two seats to myself. Wonderful. I half watch the most recent Mission Impossible, for the second time, and then sleep on and off for 4hrs.

11th February:
We arrive in Lima at 6am. I didn’t book my next bus in case we arrived late but I managed to get on the 6.30am to Ica. Again, two seats to myself. This time, and for the first time so far, there are individual tv screens in the back of the chair in front of you, like on those flying buses that are up in the sky. I watch a film called Man Up and realise I really need to. I thought it was just a comedy but it was a rom-com. Gross. Thirty-something year old failing in love, steals a blind date from Waterloo. They spend the day together, he finds out she isn’t the date he was meant to have. They fight then bump into his soon-to-be-ex-wife and pretend they’re an item and talk proudly of their sex life, which is non-existent. Then she leaves and goes to her parents’ 40th Wedding Anniversary, which she is seriously late for, (how anyone can be together more than two years baffles me – Sorry Sal – clocks ticking), then he tracks her down and they make out in her parents bathroom. She is clearly selfish and lacks respect. Next I watch Pitch Perfect 2 which is bloody brilliant. Then I watched a Christmas movie with Robin Williams in it. That was alright. Didn’t see all of it as we arrived in Ica. I hobble off the bus, no more jumping and get a taxi to my hostel.

I’m staying at Banana’s Adventure which is a really cool place to stay. There’s a pool, a bar, a lovely aroma coming from the kitchen. I arrive at 11.30am and included in my rate are some activities.
“There’s a wine tour at 12pm”, she says.
“Great! I’ll do that!”
I drop my bag in my room, not really feeling like I know what the correct time is having travelled over 13hrs to get here through the night, on a broken sleep. I’m in a group with 5 other girls from Australia and New Zealand and we head off on the wine tour. We walk round the winery for a bit and see how they make wine from the grapes. They only make sweet wine in Peru. Tastes like a dessert wine. We only walk around for 5mins and then head to the bar. Would be my kind of wine tour normally but I haven’t been drinking recently and I haven’t had breakfast. Or was it meant to be dinner? What time is it? Where am I? He gives us a very sweet wine and then another even sweeter wine, before bringing out Pisco.. Which is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. And pretty strong for someone that has not eaten in…. I don’t even know how long. We go to a second place just down the road where there have the wine and pisco sitting in 70 litre ceramic containers. The guy puts a long wooden stick inside, pulls it back out, tips and out of it pours the liquid. We end up having several more shots before we are about to leave. On our way our there are a group of locals having a wail of a time. Drinking wine and pisco like it’s going out of fashion. Two of the women must have been in their 60s and probably what Sal and I will be like when we’re that old. Well, and all of my friends really. I seem to be surrounded by like minded people which can be quite dangerous. One of the ladies pulls a girl from our group into the their dancing circle. Soon we are all involved and being given more wine and pisco. People are very welcoming and friendly here. I’ve found that in Ecuador and Peru. It’s really refreshing. You know I’m not one to say no to a drink and especially when in someone else’s culture. That’s my excuse anyway. The lady said I had 5 seconds to drink the shot and counted to two when I had finished it. We danced around for a bit before having to leave and go back to the hostel. They were all hammered. One guy had fallen asleep on a bench. All this and it was only 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. I might move here.

Back at the hostel we have some lunch. The girls are going on the dune buggies at 4pm and try desperately to sober up. I’m sure it would be loads of fun doing it pissed but I’m going tomorrow and don’t plan on being. I have a beer with my food before deciding I need a siesta. What? It’s the heat…

Later I meet a guy called Carlos who is from Chiclayo, which is in the north of Peru. He has very little English. Less than my Spanish, which is improving all the time but we also rely on Google Translate to help us with some words. It’s fun. I have a beer with him and then say good night.

12th February:
I get up and lay around reading my new book which is called “Winner of the National Book Award”. When Sal asked me what it was called it took me about 5 minutes to figure out that was the title of the book and not just an accolade.

We leave for the sand dunes at 4pm. Our driver apparently has 20+ years of experience. He also doesn’t speak any English. Which is fine because all we do for the duration of the ride is pretty much scream. He looks back at us at one point and all I can think is, “What happened to you? Why do you enjoy hearing people scream with fear?” But it’s so much fun. We stop at the top of one dune where he gives us some boards for us to sand board. Because of my ankle, and complete lack of balance, I opt to sit down. It is so much fun! There aren’t any pictures of this because I put my phone in my bag so as not to lose it but one of the dunes was so bloody high. A couple people made it look easy by standing up. I totally could if my foot was stronger, I thought. I don’t know if that’s true but I will find out another time.

I have sand everywhere. No amount of showering is helping. It’s a good place to relax here with my foot. Well, I can’t leave it at home can I, that’s something my Nanny Muriel would joke about. I’m missing my family quite a bit but I’m not wishing away time. I still have so much to do and I have to be in Rio by the end of the month to meet Ria where we will spend two weeks together! Jordan joins us for 10 days too. Can’t wait to see familiar faces. Before then I will head to Cusco on Sunday. Then Cusco to Puno to Arequipa to Arica to San Pedro de Atacama to Salta to Mendoza to Buenos Aires to Igauzu Falls to São Paulo to Rio… In about two weeks. It’s gonna be so much fun.

Hope you are all well and not missing me too much.

Huaraz – Laguna 69 – Hurrah!

7th February: On the bus to Huaraz. 8hrs. This is by far the best bus I’ve been on. Cost me 40 Sol which is £8. I’m almost in a business class section! SO much leg room, reclining seats and wonderful AC. During the drive I decide to count the dogs that we pass but it’s similar to counting sheep and I soon fall asleep. I find it amazing how when you see the mountains for afar you don’t think about the roads that are in them. These roads zig-zag from the bottom to the top and back down again. This is the safest I’ve felt on a bus so far. The roads in Peru feel safer too. The driver is very careful as our double decker hugs the edge of the road and we progress higher. Going back to sheep, I’ve just seen my first flock of them since I’ve been here. Reminds me of Christmas and that wonderful slow roast lamb I made. Mmm I day dream about Sal’s and my time in New York and New Jersey. Such fun we had! I’d love for her to be here and experiencing this with me. I have a feeling when I get home I’m gonna just be doing things alone for a while and she’ll call to ask where I am. “I came for dinner”.
“On your own?”
“Dammit, I forgot I was back!”
Or if she was here I’d just be writing notes for my blog.

Huaraz is very safe and so I wander into town for some dinner. I come across a nice little place called Trivio run by a self-made local. I opt for the homemade turkey burger with sweet potato fries and, wait for it… Blueberry Mayo! It’s the future. Move over garlic bread there’s a new kid in town. I have an early night (again, I’m so old) as I have my long trip tomorrow. Very excited.

8th February:
Today I got up at 5am to be collected at 6am for a trip to Laguna 69. It’s a couple hours north of Huaraz. Spoke too soon about the roads being safer as we start our incline up another mountain and it’s not really a road. The ground is as uneven as Arsenal playing Charlton. As many pot holes as there would be goals conceded by the latter team. We’re in a minibus being rattled around. I think my organs have all traded places with one another. The views as we get higher just get better. I can feel the altitude as well. As we stop for some breakfast, i jump out the bus like a jack-in-a-box; springing into action. Forgetting my ankle is bad. I mean, it’s fine, it’s just hurts when I move it.. I guess I just won’t be able to have any dance offs. I have a breakfast roll, the food kind, I don’t mean that I start rolling around the floor. Imagine if I did though. I might do that one time. See what the reaction is like. You’ll know when I have as there won’t be anymore blog posts as I’ll probably have been sectioned. We stay here for 20mins before continuing our drive into the mountains when suddenly we come across our first lagoon, just out of nowhere there is this stunning blue water, so calm and beautiful.

We carry on some more before we start our hike. It’s 7km to Laguna 69 from the point where they drop us off and we start walking. It’s so fresh and clear to start with. Much like my mind was, I guess. I decided it would be best not to keep track of time as I would just become obsessed with it. As we start to walk up through the mountains there are waterfalls around us just crashing by. We have to use stepping stones to cross some streams and I slipped, which didn’t help my ankle. The fact that the cold water was now numbing it, however, did help. Which probably isn’t a good sign. I’ll have a look at it when we get there, I thought. As we get higher it gets colder but I had thermals on so wasn’t to fussed. Then comes the rain and that’s when it got harder. I asked the guide how much further it was and he said we were about half way. That’s when I died a little inside. My ankle hurt. My face was cold. My body was hot. Everything was wet. The thing I learnt very quickly was not to trust mountains. When we were at the bottom on the flat area, it looked like we were being blocked in by them. You can’t see the paths. It’ll just be at the top of this one, I thought. I was wrong. So we descend down this one and across a flat which is covered in cow pats and some mud puddles. It’s best not to confuse the two. One girl makes a step and loses her foot just to above the ankle in the mud. You want to laugh. Especially when all I could think of was that scene from The Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French’s date playfully jumps in a puddle and they giggle. Then she jumps into one and sinks all the way to her shoulders. Hilarious. We carry on and soon come to the next mountain incline. I’ve had enough now. I’m bored. I’ve seen enough mountain to last a while. Still, I carry on. And on. And Ariston (wonder how many will get that reference. I’m really 45). Eventually, after what felt like 6hrs just to get there, I see it. I see it in all its dazzling blue beauty. As if it has been waiting just for me. Waterfalls trickling down from the glacier which contain minerals that make it such a stunning blue. It’s truly amazing. Maybe worth the trip. No, it was. Had my ankle not been constantly in pain. We stop here and drink some tea for a bit before the guide says the dreaded word.. “Vamos!!”
“Fuck off!” I replied in my head with the same tone as his. Perfect two syllable fit. And off we go. It was a lot easier on the way back. Apart from the rain. That got heavier. And wetter. And louder. All was going well until I jumped from one stone to another and felt my ankle do something it shouldn’t. I bit my lip to hold in any scream I felt to let out. Breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth and carried on. About 40mins later I completely turned it over and fell down. Luckily by this point I was on the flat. That time I couldn’t hold the pain in. I got up. Tears mixed with the rain on my face and I was in agony. I still had about an hour to go. I had to go on and it was at this point that I started to question my whole life. Being rather dramatic. My life is more than fine, I know that. But when you’re in agony and need to still use part of your body to get you another hours distance, you don’t think straight. Well I don’t. I kept imagining my friends and family being at the end of the walk and them making it ok with a pint of Guinness and a bacon butty. Mmm brown sauce. Bloomer bread.

Eventually, I’m back at the bus. My fantasy remains just that. 14km round trip, 6hrs and a peak of 4500m. I take my boots off to inspect my ankle. No bruising. No swelling. Just pain. I don’t particularly like going to the doctors when I’m England never mind in another country, where my Spanish isn’t quite good enough yet to explain what has happened. When at home I usually txt my friends who are GPs, things like, “When I breathe in I sound like Darth Vader. Is this normal?” I receive a reply of, “No you probably have a chest infection. Go and get some antibiotics”. So I make an appointment, and I have that and I get the tablets. It feels like less of a wasted trip and then I’m not wasting the doctors time. Which I feel like now. There’s no obvious problem when looking at the ankle and I’ve sprained it enough times in my life to know what that would look like. But it’s not getting better and it has got worse. I think I’ll make my way to the medical centre and try to explain what has happened. Wish me luck. Tomorrow. Tonight I have just got back from that wonderful albeit painful trip. I’ll roll off the wagon (not fall as I don’t want to injure myself further) and drink some red wine for medicinal purposes.

Buenos Noches!

Boring myself so I’ll bore you

imageThere’s something about having worked in the public sector that has changed the way I see any other establishment when I go to one. Whenever Nanny Margaret and I go for a meal somewhere, we do it all the time. My Nan and Grandad used to run pubs. They first had The Queen Vic in Charlton on the lower road, which still stands. Barely. Then they fake retired before having another pub in Eynsford, The Five Bells. I’m so proud of what they’ve done and only wished I’d realised sooner that I wanted to become a publican as I could have taken over from them. I’ve popped into a bar along the beach front and as I notice things around, I’m not surprised it’s empty. Maybe it’s a quiet time. But for example, the water in the flowers need changing, it’s greeny-brown like a swamp. There’s a bunch of mint in a jar that looks like it died when the last year did. I’m missing pub trade now. Haha no I’m not. I’m drinking a cup of coffee whilst reading a book, sitting in a hammock, looking out at the sea.

Going back to the dog situation here as I read a book and drink some coffee which are two things that I don’t do anywhere else. I’ve changed. Am I growing up? I want a cuppa tea! Before I come home, I am making a little detour to Fort Lauderdale in Florida where I have some family. They run a British-American sports bar. I’ll get to drink tea, drink draught GUINNESS (OHMYGOD) and watch football!! Anyway, the dogs.. I’m sitting here reading my book and drinking coffee when I get a moment of realisation. I’ve never seen so many bees knees aka dogs bollocks. Yep. I said it. (Sorry Nan). A cheery little thought.

I know I said I’ll be away until June but I’ll be back a little sooner than that. Not because I’m not having a good time but because I have so many people that I love and miss. And yes, I know, they’ll all be there when I get back but I miss them. I have some work in May anyway so I need to be back by then but I don’t feel bad for admitting that I miss people. Maybe a younger me wouldn’t even dream of being so open. I don’t want to sound cliché and be like, ‘Oh my god man, I’ve learnt so much’, I haven’t. All I’ve learnt is that I appreciate people close to me. But I guess I already did. It’s great being away, just today I was lying on the beach! Besides, I want to see the world with Sal. And I will. I think all this as I eat some pizza and drink a glass of red. Pizza is my meal of choice the night before I have a long bus journey because I won’t eat it all at dinner and so I can have it for my bus journey. Yes Mum, I do refrigerate it overnight. No Mum, I don’t put it in the fridge when it’s still hot. I’m heading to Huaraz next. Looking forward to that.

One thing this trip has made me though is less frivolous. When Tash and I were living together and I’d come back with something from the shop, she would ask, “How much was that?” My reply, “I don’t know!” But as I drink my glass of £1.20 wine, which isn’t that bad, I wonder how I’m gonna get on with the higher prices back home. I won’t even be able to afford going to a Wetherspoons, which I dislike doing anyway. They’re just soulless places without music. And they have the money to have really beautiful buildings. There’s a lovely one near Denmark Hill. Beautiful gardens.

I’ve done something to my ankle. I don’t know what but I can’t move my foot inwards properly (and no it wasn’t a UDI – Unidentifiable Drunk Injury). It’s not a problem yet but something to keep an eye on I guess. Jeez when I get back. The things I need to do; See my family, neck a Guinness, get new specs and sort my ankle. In that order.

One foot in the grave (head)

So I’m heading to Huanchaco, a little surf town just outside of Trujillo. As I’m leaving my hostel in Guayaquil, a French guy, Oliver, has booked the same bus as me, so we split a cab to the bus terminal. He’s nice. He’s 7 months into a two and a half year world tour. I’d do that but I think I’d be single by the time I got back… Sal’s being patient and understating as it is. Haha imagine two and a half years. I love being away but I love being at home. I do currently get a happy split what with tours and gigs. Pretty much away from September to Christmas anyway. A few breaks here and there. Anyway, we get to the terminal and get to ‘check our bags in’. Thought that was odd but also very helpful as I didn’t have to carry around on my back, I then found out, a bag weighing almost 20kg! What’s even in there? We hang around for a bit before we’re allowed to board the bus. 2pm. 18hr journey to Trujillo. I read so much of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. It’s getting really good now.

My first border crossing, into Peru and it was easier than I thought it would be. You get off the bus, queue up in one line to get stamped out of Ecuador and then join another line to get stamped into Peru. Easy. Back on the bus!

The bus has air-con and seats that recline about 45 degrees, which is great until I woke up with a foot in my head halfway through one of my fifteen 20min naps. I kid you not, the person behind me had put their foot up on my seat and into my head. Now, I’m a calm person, unless you’re waking me up. Especially with your foot. In my head. I pushed it down and turned back over. This has been the best bus ride I’ve had so far. From the seats to the air-con to the movie in English or with English subtitles to the on-board meal. Maybe that part wasn’t the best but receiving it was hilarious. I thought we had made a wrong turn as we seemed to be down a little side road somewhere and then reversing, so I assumed we were turning round. No. We reversed into a parking lot almost, and then once we were in, the gates closed… Now. Normally I would get freaked out. Shit. We’re being taken hostage. We’ll be on the news. We’re locked in. But it was just so surreal that I went with it. (The grandparents and parents reading this again like, “What the f^€k?”) They’d actually stopped to pick up our meals. Hahaha. Ah, “Only in South America”. I wouldn’t mind if we were swinging by their equivalent of Michael Roux Jr. but this was more like Mr. Wimpey. A weird rice and chicken dish. I just ate the rice. A weird spring roll. Quite tasty. Some wobbly apple thing. I didn’t eat that. The girl next to me did and regretted it haha.

I get some sort of sleep and we arrive in Trujillo. Oliver is staying in Huanchaco as well so we split a cab again. I’m staying at Casa Fresh. Number One place to stay in Huanchaco on Trip Advisor. And it’s very nice. Welcoming, friendly and surfer dudes. I remember when us girls at primary were in love with Aaron Carter (yeah I said it, I won’t name and shame my friends though) and we used to go to The Arches Leisure centre. He did a cover of “Surfin’ USA”, and we’d sing it and dive in onto the little floats and the guard would blow the whistle. See I’ve always been cool. Sh¡t, this IS becoming a memoir. It’ll soon turn part-fiction.

I arrive at 9am to my hostel, drop my bag and go for a walk. It’s a cute little town. Loads of places to eat. And very cheap. I spend most of the day on the beach. Sorry, I did deserve it after my Guayaquil ordeal. And that long journey. I was lying on the beach and just let out the most relieving (shush) sigh of content and happiness. Much needed. Then I realised this time last week I was just leaving Quito. What sort of time travel is this? I’m here for three nights and then I’ll either head to Huaraz (so I can go to Laguna 69 – Google it – stunning), or I’ll go to Cusco. Now, I’m off to Salsa but I’m not drinking til Rio. Except for when I ‘try’ the wine in Mendoza.

I went into a shop to pick up some water and there’s a guy walking out with a bag full of eggs. I really wanted to say, “Hope that’s not all of your eggs in that bag” but my Spanish isn’t that good and they probably don’t know that saying over here.



Guayaquil. Or be killed.

Ok so the heading may come across a little strong or dramatic but I’m not a fan of Guayaquil, pronounced ‘Why-a-kill’.

The bus journey was lovely. So much leg space. And I’m a tall person. Jason “Little Legs” Macey would have got lost. And little Elle. Well, maybe all my friends actually. It was quicker than the Internet said it would be. Just 4hrs. We meandered through the mountains eventually coming into a cloud forest where we were reduced to speeds of around 10mph. You could hardly see a thing. I kept thinking, “That’s it. I’m a goner.” But I think that during every bus ride. It’s made me quite anxious. Get me back to the UK and in Glenn’s Bus with Our Miley driving. We used to put a record on the turntable and say to Miley, “If the record skips because of your driving, you’re fired!” Or he wasn’t allowed the hotel room that night. I’d usually demand it anyway. Diva is the female version of a hustler. 4hrs to kill on the bus. I’ll listen to some music that I understand, I think. Turns out the only music on my phone is Beyoncé and Squeeze. So I listened to a Spanish version of Beyoncé’s ‘Irreplaceable’ and ‘Listen’ to see if I could work out some more Spanish as I know all the words. In English. Then ‘Open’ came on. It was nice to hear the album. I’m mostly used to hearing the songs live. I listened to ‘Harper Valley PTA’ about three times because there’s a point where Glenn giggles and it made me chuckle. Love that song live though. It’s quicker and the energy is ridiculous. At some shows Peter would let me listen from the monitors. This meant I could listen to certain instruments and/or vocals on their own. That was fun. I’m feeling quite nostalgic. The nostalgia soon turns to homesickness when I arrived at my hostel. It’s not great. MoGi’s. I wouldn’t recommend it. Especially for a female alone. The beds aren’t made (that’s not why I don’t like it, it’s just a little annoyance). I know it’s only £7 per night but the last place I was at in Cuenca was the same price and it was ready, very clean and very friendly. I jump straight in the shower. It’s a lot more humid here. I make a call to Mum for some advice. I don’t feel happy here. I always said if I didn’t feel happy somewhere then I would move. She talks me round and finds me another place to stay. I book it, get a taxi and leave. I’m glad I did. I heard the woman say to another guest, “It’s safer to wait inside for the taxi.” Where the fuck am I? It was a 9.2 rating out of 10 on ‘HostelWorld’, the app that I’ve been using. Goodness knows how it got that rating. There was nothing there! I usually cross reference with Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor but didn’t. Lesson learnt. I go to my new accommodation, Villa64. It’s much better. I feel safe and that’s paramount. I’m still unconvinced on Guayaquil though. I just feel…weird here. I’ll see how I am tomorrow. In the daylight. And exploring. After that I head to Trujillo in Peru anyway. Gonna try to get to Laguna 69 which is almost on the way to Cusco. Almost. Slightly off the main route though. We’ll see. I may have a prior engagement in Buenos Aires in Argentina on Feb 13.

I’m still not sold on Guayaquil and can see why it’s a stop for a one night when going on to somewhere else. I’ll explore today and then get the hell outta here. I’m fine though. In my haven on a hostel. Oh, and the taxi drivers I have had here always lock the doors to prevent intruders!