Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

Brilliant criminalist and quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme returns in number one bestselling author Jeffery Deaver's electrifying new thriller

New York is being held to ransom. Manhattan's electricity grid has been the victim of a horrific attack ...and more are planned. While the FBI and Homeland Security try to determine who's behind the carnage, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs race to decode the forensics in order to prevent the next assault. But all is not what it seems. Electricity can be as lethal as it is vital, and Lincoln Rhyme soon finds he's up against a merciless killer with a unique weapon -- one that can be found in everyone's home and office. And in the meantime, one of the few criminals to have ever slipped Rhyme's net is under surveillance in Mexico. The deadly assassin known as the Watchmaker has set his murderous sights on innocent victims, whose identity is as yet unknown ...Lincoln Rhyme must race against the clock, juggling the two investigations, as they hurtle headlong toward their deadly outcomes.

Awe, I do so love a Lincoln Rhyme novel. Isn't it weird how you can absolutely love when an author writes about a specific character, but not when they write about someone else? I feel that way a lot. Anyhoo. This one was decent. I didn't find the electricity thing as interesting as I suspect I was supposed to. And I'm truly not sure about how the book eventually ended ... the next one should be interesting :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

27 August: Lima to Johannesburg

I was up early this morning to get ready for our 7am airport transfer. @UselessRob was waiting for me at the gate to say a final goodbye :(

I watched Extraordinary Measures on the TACA flight to Buenos Aires, which definitely felt like a made-for-tv movie. The stop over was pretty dull, aside from the fact that there seemed to be some commotion with some other South Africans on our flight (which had also caused us to board our flight from Lima late). From what I overheard, they'd bought a fossil and packed it in their check-in luggage to take home. Something about this is apparently illegal. Either way, this time we got our boarding passes quite quickly and had a very helpful man who spoke very good English assisting us all from as soon as we got off the plane in Buenos Aires. Quite a change from our experience at the start of the trip.

The flight back to Joburg luckily did not feel nearly as long as our first flight did. But it was still pretty annoying. It was great because it was close to empty so I moved to my own 2 seats. But there was a group of about 8 (business?) men who were clearly traveling together who just crowded around standing in the aisles chatting to each other and constantly blocking my view of the (supremely annoying) main console entertainment. Which was dreadful itself. I tried to watch The Back-up Plan but the quality got so bad half-way thru that I just tried to sleep instead. Have been truly unimpressed with SAA's entertainment on both flights. At least the food was decent tho.

Arrived a bit early in Joburg on the morning of the 28th and breezed thru Passport Control, Baggage Collection and Customs. I love it when things are easy and smooth. I said goodbye to The Ageing Aunt who headed off to catch her Cape Town flight and caught the Gautrain home.

Going Well

So far it has been a pretty awesome week. Went to 27Dinner with @tfrayne and @levonrivers and got to see the new Samsung Galaxy Tab up close. Very cute. Smaller than the iPad and includes a phone and a camera, which apparently the iPad lack. Although the iPad is a little big to function as a phone. Not that I'm likely to get either, quite honestly. What on earth would I do with it? Apparently BB is bringing out a tablet too ... I'll probably be in need of an upgrade by then ;) Haha. Surprisingly, I am so not swayed by gadgetry, I wouldn't even have my blackberry if Varen hadn't actually bought it for me.

But, before the 27Dinner, I met up with my first prospective tenant from my Private Property listing and I can happily report that I'll be handing over the keys and he'll be signing the lease this evening. Yippee. (Note: this is the news that has actually made the week awesome). I can't believe it all happened so quickly. I mean the advert only started showing on the 23rd. Sigh, and now I wonder why I faffed around and put it off all month. But at least it is done and I've got a tenant for the next 12 months :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

26 August: Amazon Jungle to Lima

Back on the boat after breakfast, followed by the bus ride back to Puerto Maldonado to collect our luggage and then onto the plane. A long traveling day. Once we landed in Lima we headed back to the Hostal Buena Vista for our last night in Peru :(

I cannot explain the difference in temperature! We were sweating like crazy in the Amazon, lugging our bags around and close to freezing back in Lima.

@UselessRob and I went for a quick lunch at Rustica when we got back before I went thru the process of re-packing my entire bag and getting ready my stuff ready for my flight home tomorrow.

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For dinner we went down to Larco Mar, this was our really final dinner together so we ate at Vista al Mar with a lovely view over the ocean.

My last day in Peru really sped by :(

Monday, September 27, 2010

25 August: Amazon Jungle

This morning we were up early and headed via boat to an Oxbow lake where we got to see Giant River Otter, Black Caiman and loads of birds, especially Hoatzin. We were very lucky to see one of the otters and the caiman having a bit of a fight. Apparently they aren't usually both around during the day so generally can share the same area.

We stopped for a while and used raw beef to try and catch piranha which was great fun, even thought I didn't actually catch one myself. They are quite fascinating, their teeth look like really tiny shark teeth. And the fish themselves are quite small too.

Then we went back to the lodge and had a quick break before a few of us headed off to try and spot some macaw or toucans (I *really* wanted to see a toucan for some reason) from the bird-hide at the clay-licks. Sadly we didn't see any there :( But we did see a couple of scarlet macaw in the canopy above us on the walk home. Wow, they are bright, so really you'd think they'd be easier to spot!

We also heard such loud howler monkeys as we were walking back. It was incredible, such a guttural sound! Our guide told us that the alpha-male was obviously warning another monkey who was encroaching on his territory. Once back at the lodge, we actually managed to find the tree that the little group of howler monkeys (about 3 females, the alpha male and a few babies!) was in and stood watching them and listening for quite a while. Very cool.

And then we all went for lunch, we've had some really nice food at this lodge :) After lunch, @UselessRob & I headed down to the river so that I could go for a swim. I figure it's the closest I'll get to actually swimming in the Amazon, and I have swum in the Nile too, so I kinda had to :) The water was fabulous compared to the boiling air temperature although it was pretty shallow and *very* sandy. A stronger current than I was expecting too.

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Then we had a chance to relax a little more before taking the boat down-river to a Shaman's botanical garden for a presentation of some of the Amazon plants (although we sadly did not actually meet the Shaman). Our first interactive experience was all being given a little piece of a leaf and told to chew on it all together. Which we did, staring at each other blankly wondering what it was supposed to do. And then suddenly the flavour kicked in, like a very sharp peppery flavour and I spat mine out. And then we realised it had a similar effect to Novacaine ... our mouths were all numb! So peculiar.

Further along they showed us two fruits, one that temporarily provided a bright red dye, which the girls all got put on their lips like lipstick. The second was a fruit that we were told was the Amazonian Henna, about 5 of us were brave enough to let them finger-paint it onto our arms, I got a heart. It goes on completely clear, but a few hours later I could see it was starting to turn blue. By the time I went to bed I thought I'd got off lightly. Side note: The next morning it was dark blue and I had a smudge of it above my elbow (obviously from folding my arm while it was still clear) that looked like a bruise. It lasted about a week and a half and definitely caused plenty of questions once I was back home - haha. I think it'd be pretty awesome if we coulda got cool intricate designs like they do with actual henna ... I wonder if the tree would grow here ;) Haha.

Before we left we also got to taste a few of their "potions" which just mostly tasted like strong alcohol.

By then it was dark and we headed back to the lodge for dinner. It is our last night all together because our tour leader and one of the Aussie girls aren't going back to Lima with us tomorrow so a few of us stayed up drinking and chatting. The most peculiar thing was finding frogs sitting in the toilet bowls once the electricity had gone out (it's only on between 5 & 9pm for charging cameras etc.)

I have had a lovely time in the Amazon, although I'll admit to being a little disappointed that we didn't see any snakes or spiders or capybara ... or much wildlife at all, actually. Am devastated to realise that we actually only have one day left of our trip and most of that will be spent traveling back to Lima :(

The End of the Quiet

Yawn,couldn't put my book down last night!

So, what did I get up to on this lovely long weekend. Hmmm. Dropped TheHosuemate off at the Gautrain on Thursday afternoon. He's off for a month. Am kinda looking forward to having the place to myself for a change. See if I like it on my own or want to find another housemate when he moves out at the end of the year.

And then I headed off to the Hyde Park Southern Sun for sundowners with Loulou and her new bookclub recruit. Gawd, the views at sunset from there are gorgeous.

I headed home and had an early night watching You, Me and Dupree. Which I totally did. Not. Get. It just made no sense. It was like Julius Caeser (my standard 8/grade 10 set-work and I bet that's the only time you will hear those two in the same sentence!) in that if they'd just killed him (Caeser) in the first act, they coulda saved themselves all some time. I felt that way about this movie. If they'd just not let Dupree stay they would've zipped right to the ending and saved us all some time. What on earth was Kate Hudson thinking? Anyhoo.

Friday was lovely, I went and spent the whole afternoon and evening with some lovely girl friends drinking Pimms by the pool. It was a lovely way to spend the day :)

After spending the afternoon drinking in the sun, we decided on take-out and chick flicks to end out day off. We watched Did you hear about the Morgans? and Nine. Well, honestly only half of Nine because although it looks like it's actually a great movie with an awesome star-studded cast, it really was not the sort of movie we were in the mood for right then. The Morgans movie was nothing great at all either (but then again I am reminded that I do tend to leave these movies and not watch them when they come out on big screen for a reason). Ah well, it was well suited for our lack of concentration :)

On Saturday I didn't do much of anything. Went back to gym for the first time since Peru and think I over did it a bit. I am now going to try alternating gym with my neighbourhood walks which I am loving (went on Friday and Sunday morning). And then did some admin and came home and did nothing much for the rest of the day. (If I did I can't remember).

On Sunday I took France to Rosebank and we had lunch at Cranks :) Man, I love that place! And then went for a wander around the Rooftop Market and the African Markets there. I love going, especially with someone who has never been before :)

And then it was home for more relaxing. I watched Damages s03 this weekend and even finished my book and started a new one. I have been enjoying not being too busy lately because this week the craziness starts up again with a vengeance!

Tonight is 27Dinner. Wednesday should be our monthly girl's Poker night (still waiting for that to be confirmed). Thursday I'm off for dinner with a friend. Saturday is Taste - YAY, can't wait :) It'll be my fourth year there. And then on Sunday we have a work function. See, back to crazy.

Oh, and can you believe that today is a month since I left Peru! Time is just flying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

24 August: Cusco to Amazon Jungle

We caught the airplane to Puerto Maldonado this morning. Truly strange having a 35min flight! They came round and gave us a tiny hard-boiled sweet, which turned out to be quite helpful for the ears.

OMG, the heat hit us immediately like a wall as they opened the plane doors. Sweltering.

After landing we got taken to our tour office where we had to leave our main luggage and took only what we needed for the next 2 nights. And then we had a bus trip along a very dusty road to the 'port' (really just a launch for the tour boats).

To clear up any confusion, we're not actually on the Amazon River, I think our river is called Rio Tambopata but we were also told it was called Madre de Dios (Mother of God). So, really, I haven't much clue where we were at all exactly. But we took the boats (long thin wooden boats with a canopy and everyone sitting down either side facing each other) along the river and were given lunch, which was wrapped in a banana leaf so that we could just drop it into the river when we were done and it'd be completely biodegradable :) The boat trip was about 45mins before we arrived at our destination, with about a billion more stairs between the shoreline and our lodge, Posada Amazonas.

Arriving by boat was quite an experience because the river it especially low at the moment and we kept running aground in the sand banks.

The lodge is pretty awesome :) It's completely open with a jungle view and no doors anywhere, just curtains. No electricity either. And the closest I'm likely to get to an outdoor shower for a while - I love it!

We relaxed for a while, waiting for it to cool down a bit before we went on a walk to a tower, which we climbed up and watched the sun set and moon rise from, up above the jungle canopy.

It was stunning but sadly my point-n-click camera is acting up so I didn't get any decent photos :( Will definitely get a new little camera before my next holiday, the slr is really just too much of a hassle on holidays like this!

And then it was back to the lodge for dinner. Didn't stay up too late because we have a 4am start tomorrow.

A Short Week

Yay, today is technically Friday because tomorrow is Heritage Day. And somehow I doubt I'll be braai-ing, but whatever. It's still a long weekend. Woot.

So, this short week ... On Monday I was back at SCM Dinner like usual. Is weird to feel like I hadn't seen these people in ages although I had only missed a week! One Tuesday evening I spent all my time getting my #365 back up to date properly. Shoo, it feels like an achievement. 30 photos uploaded on one day. Am boy am I ever glad I put in the effort to choose all the post-Peru photos as I was going and not try doing them all at the end, because then I really don't think I'd ever get caught up. And then I went and forgot to take my photo on Wednesday :P Clearly I was all photo-ed out. But I've included some of my favourites of The Bundles in this post for you :)

Have I mentioned how fantastically they are getting on these days. Oh, the stress of having Coal at the vet for 2 weeks has just turned out to be so worth it now. As you can see from the photo of her and Lily above, she has calmed down so so much and the dynamics in the hutch have changed completely. It is lovely to watch the three of them together again :) *thrilled*

Also, the digging has stopped completely! It stopped while I was in Peru. And strangely she apparently covered up her own burrow, the one we thought she was digging to China, and every time CollegeInstructor opened it up again (because he didn't know how it was getting closed up all the time till he saw her doing it), she'd close it again. It has remained closed. And now they have a new play-place (which you can see Rex in above). When I went to get them more hay, they only had a broken bale left but I said that'd be fine since it is just for bunnies. And they packed it into these huge bags for me. I've put one out for them to play in and they love burrowing thru the hay and into the bag :)

Okay, after all that gushing about my cute cuddly animals ... my poor Peeb has been having the most *awful* week ever. Her kitty died on Monday morning, knocked over by a car. He was only just a year old and she'd hand reared him. He was her baby. She is quite devastated :( It is quite shocking to think that we both lost our first pets, the ones that were ours, as adults, when they weren't yet or were barely only a year old. It is horrible. Goodbye Panda.

And then last night I went to Gourmet Garage with TheHousemate (who is off to the States for a month today), CollegeInstructor and France. None of them had ever been before *shock horror*. And as always, it was truly delish. There are few things better than a Gourmet Garage Peanut Butter Burger with Chili Cheese Fries :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

23 August: Cusco

Woke up at about 08h30 this morning and after breakfast @UselessRob & I headed back to the market. I bought a few more things there and we ended up bumping into The Ageing Aunt there too, so we made a plan to meet up at the hotel in half an hour and then go for lunch. The Ageing Aunt won the trip-shopper award by far. I couldn't believe how much she bought over our few days in Cusco, it was quite incredible that she actually managed to pack it all!

We found a really nice little cafe near Seven Snake Alley (I feel like I'm in Harry Potter every time I say that :P) called el cafe de Mama Oli for lunch :) And then after lunch, the three of us went to the Museo Inka, which was pretty cool. My favourite parts were seeing photos of Machu Picchu shortly after Hiram Bingham discovered it, before it had been restored. Quite amazing since we'd seen the real thing only yesterday! And then, of course, seeing the elongated skulls we'd heard about and only seen pictures of before. And they had a whole burial display with a whole lot of mummies, which I completely enjoyed.

After that, @UselessRob & I took a wander down Sol Ave, which was pretty boring and just about all banks. And then we headed back to the hotel where we finally tried Pisco with Inca Kola. Haha. Not so delicious. Strangely the flavours seem to cancel each other out. Weird.

At 17h45 we all met at the hotel to celebrate the American couple's 35th wedding anniversary. They'd bought a bottle of the Perfect Love in Pisco and kept it, so we drank that and toasted them. And then we all took a walk up to San Blas (the artists district) and visited a Coca Shop. They apparently buy the Coca leaves and make chocolates and other stuff out of it instead of the leaves being sold to make Cocaine. The ginger & chili chocolate we tried were my favourites.

Then we went to dinner at Marcelo Batata, which seemed to be quite a fancy place (although we were the only people in the whole place!!). It was our last official dinner together as a group (since all the food in the Amazon is provided). I had a Pisco Sour and Alpaca Tenderloin with Andean Cheeses. The dinner was lovely and then @UselessRob, the 2 Aussie girls and I headed off to Paddy's for one last drink. It was funny to realise that @UselessRob and I have been to Paddy's every night we've spent in Cusco!

@UselessRob and I left early at 21h30 and the girls stayed with some of the others from our Lares Trek who we'd met up with again. Straight to bed for me, I have to get up at 7am to pack for the Amazon tomorrow :) !

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

22 August: Aguas Calientes to Cusco

Yes, we were actually up at 2am this morning and were 4th in the line at the bus stop. Let's all keep in mind here that the buses don't actually start running till 05h30!

It was a chilly and boring wait until about 04h30 when The Ageing Aunt, @UselessRob and I headed off for breakfast (we were tag-teaming it to keep our place in the queue). It was the best breakfast selection on offer of our entire trip and it was wasted on us being so early and in a rush. At 05h30 we got onto the first bus and headed up to Machu Picchu.

Once there we stood freezing in the much longer queue. Let me just say, it's hard to dress appropriately for standing outside at 2am and hiking up a mountain at 10am :P

I got stamp number 285 for Huayna Picchu. Unbelievable considering how close to the front of the bus queue we were. We went into Machu Picchu when it opened and walked straight up to Recinto del Guardian (The Guardhouse) and enjoyed the incredible view over the ruins while waiting for the sun to rise and our guide to arrive. I can't explain how breathtaking it is to see in real life. I mean, we've all seen photographs, but there's something indescribable about seeing it in real life. Definitely worth it!

I'll say that I'm not 100% on all it's history, even after our guided tour (our guide was the worst we've had this whole trip) but, I do plan on buying Hiram Bingham's book and reading it when I get home. The part I find most incredible is that all of this was only built about 500 years ago!

So, we went on a tour round the ruins with a guide and really, experiencing them in real life just made me want to find out so much more when I get home. They are truly incredible.

And then came 10am. We'd all been eyeing the mountain towering over us during the morning and seriously beginning to doubt our likelihood of climbing up it. But come 10am with our stamps in hand, we all queued for the climb (except The Ageing Aunt). And we made it. And it was worth it! Honestly, if I hadn't done it myself (in roughly 50mins ... @UselessRob and I took it slow), I wouldn't have believed that the climb took less than an hour because the mountain looks massive, seeing it from Machu Picchu. And then, having been amazed by the size of the Machu Picchu ruins when I first saw it from The Guardhouse, I was even more surprised by how tiny it looked from on top of Huayna Picchu!

We were exhausted by the time we climbed back down and we headed back to Aguas Calientes for lunch. After lunch we caught a train and then a bus back to Cusco, arriving after 7pm. We were exhausted but still had a quick shower and headed out to Paddy's again for dinner and drinks.

It was an awesome evening with plenty of laughs and we even met up with our friends from The Lares Trek. It ended up being a rather late evening and The Ageing Aunt and I finally headed home at about half past midnight, after having been awake almost a full 24hrs! What an awesome day.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

21 August: Mantanay to Aguas Calientes

This morning was a crazy early wake up, 05h30 in the cold! Again, I didn't sleep particularly well although I had double the clothes on as the night before. Urgh, and I feel so trapped in a sleeping bag. I don't even like having blankets tucked under the mattress when I sleep. In hotels the first thing I do before getting into bed is freeing all the blankets they insist on tucking in, pinning you to the bed! Plus, even I am too long for these Peruvian mattresses.

Anyway, today's walk was quite beautiful with some of my favourite style of vegetation: overgrown, shaded with mossy stones along a river. It was quite ethereal. And we even crossed the river on stepping stones. Loved it :)

I was having a marvelous time ... and then it got more and more suburban as we headed into Yanahuara. We stopped here for lunch and played a local game called "Frog".

From there it was off to Ollantaytambo to meet up with our Tour Leader and catch the train to Aguas Calientes. I slept for a lot of the train ride.

Was fabulous to arrive and be able to shower! The we had some free time before meeting up again. It is a small town geared entirely for tourists going up to visit Machu Picchu. It is very weird to have a train track running where the street should be.

This evening we all met up for a very brief walk to the town square and then headed off to an early dinner because we've decided to get up at 2am tomorrow to try getting a stamp to go up to Huayna Picchu. Apparently they only allow 400 people per day to walk up and you have to be on one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu to get a stamp. So we'll be up early and queuing!

Another Weekend

Ah, another weekend. Honestly, time seems to have sped up since I got back from Peru. And it's hard for me to believe there are only 7 more Peru blog posts to come.

Anyway. On Friday I went for after-work drinks. Ahh, have missed those :) We tried the local Newscafe since we are still scarred by the shocking service we received at Capello's last time. I ordered a frozen margarita to start and will never make that mistake again! It was *revolting*. Honestly, it tasted like they'd spilled an entire container of salt into my glass. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I couldn't finish it and ordered a strawberry daiquiri to get rid of the awful salty flavour. Much better.

And then I headed home at a reasonable hour. But I felt like dancing. So I decided to take Frenchie to The Hat :) Yes, folks, I voluntarily went, nay, proposed even, going to The Hat. It was great fun and exactly what I needed. We came home early at 1am because her knees were hurting.

Saturday started with a general grocery shop and then I took Frenchie to discover the wonder of retail therapy at Melrose Arch :) Oh boy and shop I did. 2 pairs of earrings, 1 dress, 1 work top, 2 printed tops and 4 plain tops later it was time to head home.

And then, since it was still too warm to let the bunnies out to play, I watched The Fantastic Mr Fox. Generally I don't fin animated movies all that much fun, this wasn't an exception. I mean it was good, and I was more impressed by the stop frame animation than in that silly Wallace & Gromit movie. But, there is only so much suspending of reality I can do ... and if you're going to expect me to do it you should really play by your own rules. Why can all the animals speak and stand on 2 legs *except* the dogs? And why is a rat bigger than a fox? Anyway, as entertainment goes, it was a perfectly suitable way to spend my Saturday afternoon

I forget if I did anything else on Saturday, I suspect I didn't.

On Sunday I went for a walk around the neighbourhood again. I'm really enjoying that :) And then @louisabouwer came over for a visit. It was lovely, we sat out on the lawn (which is pretty useless and still dead and dry at the moment), enjoying the warmth of the day from under the shade of a tree, sipping on strawberry cocktails and eating popcorn :)

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For dinner CollegeInstructor and I headed off in hunt of Chuckleberry's. They used to be fantastic, but it seems they're all closing down (Randburg & Rivonia have both closed). When we got to the one in Lonehill, we were the only people in the place and, my burger wasn't as fabulous as I remembered them being. I think from now on I'll stick with the fabulousness that is Gourment Garage. Not least of all because they have those sublime cheese&chili fries. Yum.

After that I decided to watch Definitely, Maybe. Awe, sweet. Just the kinda feel good film I was in the mood for :) And it has a great cast too. I liked it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

20 August: Huacahuasi to Mantanay

OMG. My feet were *frozen* last night! It was strange tho because the rest of me was toasty warm. I don't think I got much sleep. Have I mentioned how I despise sleeping bags?

We had breakfast and then met all of our horsemen, cooks etc. And then we set off on our hardest day's trekking. And honestly, before lunch was *hard*. There's a particularly steep bit going up over a mountain pass (see that gap in the mountains in the photo below, yeah that). But we made it, on our own, with no help from the horses (yes, we did have people on our trek who were carried by horses for most of the way). It was a real sense of personal achievement, which I kept trying to remind myself as @UselessRob & I struggled to the top.

And then, we reached the top. Posed for a few photos with the gorgeous Laguna Aruraycocha in the background and then enjoyed a bit of downhill before stopping for lunch beside the lake.

After lunch we had the most *awesome* walk of the trek so far. The vegetation changed completely and there were loads of gorgeous trees. @UselessRob and I did most of the walk together, unable to see the group in front or behind us. It's a surreal experience feeling like you're walking alone in this gorgeous landscape. And as we came upon the second lake (Laguna Millvococha), tiny snowflakes started to fall (clouds had come over during lunch). Honestly, it made the entire first half of the day completely worth it. It was truly beautiful and gorgeously surreal.

We arrived at the cold campsite at about 16h30. We are *freezing* and I'll admit I've stuffed all of yesterday's clothes into the bottom of my sleeping bag in anticipation of an even colder night.

I sat and chatted with @UselessRob in his tent because we were having our tea and snacks in our individual tents because of the cold this evening and then later we all went for dinner in the main tent. We did some special Coca ceremony after dinner, but by that point I was ice cold and ready for bed. To be honest these Lares Trek evenings were not at all what I was expecting. I was surprised they didn't make camp fires or anything. The most communal it got was us all sitting in the dinner tent, which was pretty broken and windswept (we thought it'd blow away at lunch!).

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Lala Land

Am feeling better today, and no, I'm sure it's not just because it's Friday. (Although maybe!)

I went to watch Salt earlier this week (see I haven't been a total recluse). I'm not a big Angelina fan at the best of times, and definitely don't think blonde is for her :P But it was an entertaining movie, if not overly realistic. Well, I suppose it wasn't any less realistic than most action-movies these days. My special favourite was the frequency with which she "ran up walls" :P And the jury is still out on if I like Liev Schreiber or not ... can't decide about that guy. The one thing I noticed tho, was my brain wasn't furiously trying to predict the ending, which it usually does. Maybe I was just tired ;) Didn't sleep very well this week.

Till last night and then I woke up from what felt like a dream-fueled coma, and promptly hit the snooze button. Maybe that's why I'm feeling more upbeat today, finally a proper night's sleep. And I finished True Blood s03 last night ... so I can start reading books again :) You may have noticed that the "What am I reading" side bar hasn't been updated in what feels like forever. I'm definitely not still reading that and have read books in between and on my holiday that I haven't even blogged reviews for. Oh well, I'd guess that's never going to happen :P

I'm sure there were some other things I was going to write about ... but now I've forgotten. Oh well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

19 August: Cusco to Huacahuasi

We started our trek today with a very early wake-up and then drove thru to Lares, with a quick stop in Calca to pick up some stuff at a Market. They made us buy stuff to give the local kids as we walked, which turned out to be a very surreal experience, with the kids all expecting stuff and grabbing at us once we'd given one something. And there was certainly no concept of giving one of them an entire packet and them sharing it out. I think if we'd known how it was going to be, we wouldn't have bought anything for them. I am not about creating a culture of expectancy and begging.

As we left Calca, we passed some Incan Ruins that had apparently only been discovered about a month ago as they started widening the road. We stopped at Lares for lunch. There were some more hot-springs, but none of our group swam. There are 5 of us from our group doing the Lares Trek (the American couple are doing the Inca Trail), so we have joined up with half of another Intrepid group (the other half of their group is doing the Inca Trail with the couple). We were joking how it was like the tribal merger in Survivor - haha.

After lunch we started our hike. The afternoon's hike wasn't bad at all. We kinda just seemed to be hiking along the river, past Llama's and Alpaca's (people's farmland) and houses. We reached our camp site at about 4pm. Our camp site was in a village, on the land of one of our (headless?) horsemen. Can you believe 2 of the local kids were throwing rocks at @UselessRob and I because we had nothing more to give them! Our tents and everything were all already set up and we all sat down and had some tea and popcorn. And beers, there were local women and children at our camp site selling them. The Ageing Aunt & I went to bed early after dinner because it was quite chilly. Clouds came over during dinner and we couldn't even enjoy a beautiful starry sky!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

18 August: Cusco

Didn't get much sleep last night, but had a good day wandering Cusco. First we all went to another market with all sorts of typical touristy stuff to buy. We all split up and did our own thing. I got Mom & The Peeb's gifts (which I won't mention here since they haven't got them yet) and an awesome alpaca-wool jersey for myself. (Side note: Although I am loving the warm Joburg weather, it means I haven't been able to wear a thing I brought back from my trip - a little disappointing!).

Oh, and the weirdest thing happened on our way to the market. This big siren sounded and then all the traffic ground to a halt. Apparently it was an earthquake siren drill.

After that, The Ageing Aunt, @UselessRob and I ended up wandering around Cusco looking for somewhere for lunch. We ended up back at Jack's, trying something else off their menu, which was also delish! Highly recommend this place if you're ever in Cusco.

After lunch, @UselessRob and I wandered off thru some Incan Ruins, looking at a photographic expo by Luis Eduardo Valcarcel who we assume had taken a whole lot of historical photos in Cusco. It was amazing to compare the then and now of some of the places we recognised. And there were a few Llama, Vicuna and Alpaca all wandering the place. Try picture it, it's this place surrounded by walls with the occasional glass panel in the middle of a perfectly normal part of their town, between our hotel and the Plaza de Armas. It was very cool. And we ended up in there quite by accident because we thought we'd have to pay to go in. Apparently not. A lovely way to spend the afternoon :)

After that we relaxed at the hotel for a bit (This is when @UselessRob finally figured out how I could get my wi-fi working on my Blackberry and I was in online heaven! I'm sure you noticed the increase in tweets around here). Most people had an early evening before our 04h45 collection for The Lares Trek but, @UselessRob and I went to Paddy's again for some dinner.

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