7-bullet Sunday – day 345

7-bullet Sunday – day 345

What’s it been like being me the last 7 days?

1. Tambo – coming out of the jungle after spending 8 days alone living in an isolated palm leaf hut, eating nothing but rice and potatoes delivered twice a day, and drinking Tree medicina prescribed by my Maestro: Sapote Renaco.

Stood inside a 600 year old Sapote Renaco tree
Imbibing the strength of the medicine, listening entranced to the sounds of jungle, reconnecting with nature: a truly awakening experience.  Stillness speaks, and in the simplicity is the truth.

My Tambo hut – home for 8 days

2. Final Ayahuasca Ceremony at Santuario, ¡A qué grupo! So full of love, feeling reborn and transformed by nature and this ancient curandero practice, and so honoured to meet such a bunch of beautiful souls.

A que grupo!!

3. Writing my very first song, and getting to sing it to Maestro at close of the last ceremony – honoured to take the stage, and even more proud to get a round of applause and praise from Maestro himself! #bashful #humble #proud.

 

4. Leaving the sanctity of Santuario much changed and with new additions to my #globalfamily, with full intentions of returning and with a new connections both to myself and Mother Nature. Gracias la selva! Gracias Santuario!

5. Arriving back to civilisation and the poshest hotel I’ve stayed at during my whole trip – the Manish Ecolodge in Pucallpa. Enjoying/remembering the tourist perks, but wincing at the price tag.

Plenty to catch up on from being off-grid for 21 days, blue squad catch up (TLDR), the all important calls back home to much loved and missed ones, and some goodbyes to new and dear friends – not long my friends, we will see each other again.

Friends are the best

My thoughts turn back home and to the ensuing festivities as I spy a Christmas tree in reception – first one this year, and my oh my how this year has flown by!  This time last year…

Christmas in Peru

6. Hitting up the Peruvian bus networks once again, opting for a punishing but cheap 48 hour 2,000km bus ride from Pucallpa – Lima, Lima – Mancora for £60, instead of a 7 hour £200 flight, to get me back to the Pacific coast after a long time inland. Buses, buses, speed bumps, speed bumps, corners, corners, loving the inexpense but missing the ease of cheap long-distance travel of the India Railway.

I decide to spend the dinero I’ve saved going by bus to treat myself to a nice beach side apartment for Christmas instead. #Winning.

The 2:30 Tepsa: Lima-Mancora
7. Heading back to the Ocean and the beach town of Mancora. By morning I’ll be swimming in the Pacific, giving kite surfing a go, watching the sun rise & set with the sand between my feet. Bliss. Not a bad way to spend my last days in Peru.

Mancora Soul

Writing this from my sleeper seat of the Tepsa bus Lima-Mancora, with the warm  afternoon sunshine in Lima, once again, streaming through the window and striking my face.

A Love Letter to Cusco 

A Love Letter to Cusco 

Having spent 7 weeks in the pleasure of her company, the unique, subtle yet powerful energy of Cusco has become clear to me – this is a place for healing and growth for all, especially those with courage, curiosity and an open heart. 

You could call it esoteric, magical even, but there’s definitely an extra level to Cusco – an ethereal dimension beyond the guide books and tourist trails, where Mother Natures secrets, Inca power and healing can be discovered, if you want to find them.  The Inca knew it too, and have left their own secrets. 

It’s all for you.

First off, “Massage Lady, Massage?  Pedicure?  Manicure?” you hear them cry: the girl with the laminated tarif list as you pass them by, on your way to one of the many top notch Ceviche, Vegan or Organic restaurants on offer for a good healthy feed.  

Traveller notes: I recommend Green Point (San Blas), The Shaman Vegan Raw Restaurant, Organika and Qiwa

Yoga, Meditation, Reike etc etc are all here too, and I highly recommend Yoga Rooms & Healing House

Then, there’s the natural Shamanic visionary/hallucanegenic plant medicines that South America and Peru is especially are famous for – Huachuma and Ayahuasca – available if you want to try them.  I did, and Nature rewards courage – my rewards for doing so were mind altering, beyond words, putting a chink in the armour of how I perceive reality (loads more to say on this here).

INCA POWER PLACES

From within the City walls of Cusco, to the surrounding towns and villages of the Sacred Valley and beyond, there’s plenty of Inca ruins to discover, from the oldest “lost” citadel of Machu Picchu, secretly concealed from the Spanish in the mountains, high above Aguas Calientes, to the newest kid on the block, Vinicuna Mountain (Rainbow Mountain): a natural phenomenon and a well kept secret until recently, rewarding travellers in search of something rare:  places of beauty as yet untainted by tourists. 

Vinicunca Mountain (Rainbow Mountain)

If you visit some of these places at just the right time, like Sunrise at Equinox, or listen and look closely enough, initiates can discover extra levels of hidden detail from the shadows cast, significant to ancient rituals dedicated to the Sun and Moon, and impressive astrological alignments revealing a further level of sophistication of civilizations past, if you go in search of them.

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Astrological Alignments at Machu Picchu

It’s all here to be experienced and discovered, to be let into her secret, to be initiated, if you want it, if you listen closely, if you’re curious enough to go looking for it, if you’re brave enough to try it, or just to wonder Why?
SHAMANIC EXPERIENCE

They say that Huachuma (San Pedro) and Ayahuasca give you exactly what you need.  For me, this extends to Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

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Amazonian Shaman & Ayahuasca

At times I felt alone, anxious, isolated, but by tuning into the energy, connecting with the apus (mountain spirits) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), this place has the power to heal and transform – she has given me time to reflect, to hold space and reconnect to the parts of me that I’d become disconnected from, to contemplate on just how far I’ve come, where I am now, where I’m going, and to meet some beautiful souls along the way.  

FFF travel notes: I highly recommend staying at Casa de la gringa to meet likeminded conscious travellers. 

Casa de la Gringa

I’ve learnt a lot about myself, like the ways I distract myself from feeling the loneliness, and how to heal with unconditional love.

ANDEAN COSMOLOGY 

Energetically, if you listen closely, you’ll learn that Andean Cosmology is about Hard Work (intention), to Always be Learning and Love – a mantra in itself, which has saturated every interaction I’ve had with the people I’ve met in Cusco, all of them teaching me, inspiring me, and the reason I’ve stayed for so long.

So where do I go from here?  

Armed with a renewed sense of invigoration, balance and integration, it’s day #321 and I’m taking on 48 hours of bus from Cusco to the Amazon Jungle of Pucallpa, to visit Mama Ayahuasca, plucking up the courage to put more holes in that armour, and to journey onwards and inwards.

NAMASTAY – travel resource for conscious travellers

On the topic of accommodation, and following a bugging feeling I’ve had for a while now, I’ve decided to create a shared resource: a list of hostels/places that appeal to travellers on a spiritual, more aware path, called “NAMASTAY“.

It’s in the early stages, but I’d like it to become a word of mouth crowd sourced reference point, such that #globalfamily can easily be guided and connected on the move. 

YOUR MISSION:

If you’ve stayed somewhere where the awareness/energy/vibration was just great, you’ll know the kind of vibe I’m getting at in terms of place and people: the energy, the pure hearts, the raising of collective awareness, bonding over something greater than ourselves rather than alcohol or drugs.

What I’d like from you is to click the link below and add your recommendations of hostels and places, so that other conscious travellers that fit that same vibe can easily find their next destination:

CLICK HERE: NAMASTAY – A Travel Resource for Conscious Travellers

On behalf of all Conscious Travellers, travelling the road “home”, thank you in advance.  Namaste. 

What does a hippie say after you ask him to get off your couch?

Namaste right here

 

 

Steve Appreciation Society

Steve Appreciation Society

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for some time now.  Let’s start with a little anecdote – back in the day on holiday, a friend of mine started an anarchic running joke, calling every stray dog she saw “Steve”, regardless of sex.

Dumballers being Dumballers, these kinds of thing catch on like wildfire and pretty soon we were all at it.

Y’see, in India there are a ton of stray dogs, wild and free roaming the streets and beaches, as much a feature of Indian culture as the many sacred cows, monkeys or piles of discarded coconut shells that punctuate her hot, fragrant and dusty streets.  

“Hi Steve!” 

…we’d say as we passed a dog, any dog, all dogs.  If you say it in the right pitch they almost prick up their ears as if it were their actual name too, and just for a moment they were individuals, they had a personality, an identity.  For a moment it’s like you knew them, and they knew you… kinda… but they were noticed.  Some even let you pet them, a welcomed and much appreciated liberty for this dog-lover.  

This frivolity grew from being a game and into a habit.  When the Dumballers left I carried on the tradition with me, sharing the fun with other travellers for shits and giggles, and so the #steveappreciationsociety was born.   

I even named my guitar Steve, because at the time I couldn’t take my guitar playing seriously either.

THE PLOT THICKENS…

As I moved around from state to state, town to town, the Steve habit started turning into something else.  I was starting to take notice of the Steves as much as the People, if not more.

I started to notice details.  Obvious ones at first like how the breed, shape and size would change according the climate and setting.  Then I started to notice wider details, like if they worked alone or in packs, if they were friendly, approachable, scared or aggressive, if they were well fed, in good condition, skinny and mangey, how they survived, how the locals treated them etc.

The more places I travelled to, the more I could reflect back and notice correlations between Steve’s temperament and the social undercurrent of the places I’d visited.

I’d never looked at dogs so much before.  What previously had just been background scenes with interchangeable parts suddenly had specific players that were no longer invisible.   

As my awareness grew I started applying the theory, using it as a rough indicator for new places as I looked out the train, bus or TukTuk window, and for the most part it’s been bob-on.

IN ASIA…

For example, in Goa, the Steve’s were all pretty playful, friendly, solid, good condition, tended to move around in gangs with a feeling that everything was pretty cushty, that they’d protect you if you asked, and I’d’ve adopted all of them if I could.

Arriving in Kolkata, I watched from my Ambassador window as independent, stocky, battle scarred but solid Steve’s roamed the streets – a quite obvious sense they had to fight for their suppers, but could each definitely hold their own in a much tougher competitive city environment – that was to be an accurate echo of the backstreet vibes of Kolkata.

Hitting Delhi, the connection became more obvious still – Delhi Steve’s were skinny, dusty, much smaller, mangy, usually alone and scared, eating anything and everything they could get their snouts on, even if that was a babies nappy – a distressing echo of the destitute and poverty stricken conditions in Delhi, and the many street kids who have to survive it.

Landing in Kathmandu, I was surrounded by the familiar and comforting sight of scruffy, friendly Steve’s, and I realised how much they’d become a part of my trip.

IN GUATEMALA… 

When I hit San Marcos in Guatemala, another level of intrigue hit me.  San Marcos is a very nice place to be, a yogi/hippy/tourist haven, and on the outside it’s all sparkly and friendly and safe, which it is really.

Like the people, flying halfway across the world meant the breed of street dog had now completely changed – compared to the typical stocky street Steve’s I was used to in India and Nepal, I was seeing a lot of smaller lap-dog Steve’s, larger and fluffier husky/wolf-like Steve’s who, for the most part, all looked pretty comfortable, lazy and pretty complacent in their lakeside habitats quite frankly.  A clear and good indication that food was plentiful, and that being a street dog in San Marcos was a pretty sweet deal man.

However, despite the glittery sheen there were several Steve’s who shied away whenever I tried to show them love, cowering away in fear, and it just made me think, “what happens to these Steve’s in this place of paradise and tranquility to make them act this way?”

Gandhi said:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

San Marcos is definitely a shiny happy place on the outside, but those anxious Steves gave away her slightly malignant underbelly, which was also described to me by some local friends, confirming my couch flip-flop-filosophy theory further.

MEANWHILE, IN SOUTH AMERICA… 

When I touched down in Peru, I started observing the Steve’s of course, trying to get sense of South America and Peru.  They were tough to read:  I struggled to see the same breed twice, a lot looked like hybrids/mongrels in one way or another (think Sausage Steve’s with Labradors), small Steve’s in tee shirts and hoodies, and the indigenous Peruvian “Incan Orchid” breed is an adorably weird hairless alien-looking thing.  It’s like they didn’t make sense at all, an ironic echo of my confusion and hesitations about South America! (see my last blog).

Peruvian Inca Orchid – the indigenous hairless dog of Peru


 
I’m glad to say that that feeling has now completely passed.  Not only that, the diversity, quirky individuality and friendly mien of the Peruvian Steve’s has just made me fall head over heels in love with everything that Peru and South America has to offer – new and unchartered territories, of both mind and matter.

Look to the Steve’s – the Animal Kingdom can tell us more than we realise.

#steveappreciationsociety

Consultations with the original Steve

7-Bullet Sunday BUMPER EDITION:  “Days of Funder” #261 – #276

7-Bullet Sunday BUMPER EDITION:  “Days of Funder” #261 – #276

It was day #261 (Saturday 24th September in old money), and “The Day” had finally arrived.

Giddy with excitement like a kid on Christmas Eve, unable to wipe the smile off my face and barely able to stand still, hopping nervously and excitedly from foot to foot, gripping the barrier in the Arrivals Hall at Lima Airport with my heart fit to bursting – any moment now my friends would be walking through those unassuming arrival hall doors would reunite me with familiar faces in this unfamiliar land, halfway across the world.

[I’ve never given Arrivals Halls much credit or even a moments thought before, but then I’ve never been the one waiting for someone, or vice versa, so I went all a bit Richard Curtis about the whole thing… they could probably make more of it, just saying…]  

You don’t realise there’s a piece of you missing till it comes back and immediately takes the piss out of you, or how much you missed that signature Bold-strut until it’s strutting towards you.  T’internet, blogging, whatsappalanches, social media are all a great comfort and e-lifeline/umbilical cord to those I cherish, but you just can’t beat a Bold IRL.

Wellll, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em… so he did…

The next 15 days would take us (at an eye-watering pace) to Lima, Huacachina and Cusco, crossing Peru’s southern border to briefly dip our toes in the wonders of Bolivia – La Paz, Lake Titicaca and back again to Cusco… holiday warp-speed, engage!

This bumper-edition features two very special guest editors:  the one, the only, Mr Richard Bold, & the fearless, unflappable (dark-blonde) Italian, Marica Dapporto.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then buckle up, and Mr Bold will begin…

1. LIMA [RB]:  Lima could be described as a dump if you go to the wrong places:  which we may have done.  But, amongst the inner city ring-road motorway and the proliferation of terrifying poverty, a fecund and electric overflow of humanity can be found.

Taking one wrong turn led us into the midst of a none-more-Catholic parade:  widows wailing, young men either chanting or forcing their incantations through a full range of brass instruments, musical notation sellotaped to their backs for the following musician behind to follow.  In the centre of it all, a golden Christ held aloft on the shoulders of the devoted.  Swaying left and right to the beat of gospel horns as thick copal incense fills the air, the procession forges forward through the packed crowd.

All of a sudden the grey, dilapidated city had come alive with music and voices and, with the turn of another corner, silence fell once again.

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navigational mistakes in Lima

TRAVELLER NOTES:  we stayed in the Barranco district of Lima for a laid-back bohemian vibe; lots of bars and restaurants, views of the Pacific Ocean and well worth a stroll.  We recommend bunking at Barranco Backpackers Inn, which nestled us nicely amongst it.  Mira Flores is about a 15/20 minute walk up-town from there.

 

2. PERUVIAN HISTORY [JH]:  Upon a recco, we hit up the Museo Larco to do us some learnin’, be well cultured n’that, and marvel at “the finest gold and silver collection from Ancient Peru” (clang).  If you believe the history books then “Peru is one of 6 regions of the world where the first civilizations emerged independently, uninfluenced by other societies and known as the Cradles of Civilization”.  Peru was first inhabited some 14,000 years ago. You’re probs alllll dying to know what the other 5 are now, aren’t ya – China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Mesoamerica… History fun FACTS! 

pots pots pots
…and then, discretely tucked away in a separate building there’s the erotic archaeological collection, noted as one of the “most visited Peruvian tourist attractions” (sniggers).

Trying to be terribly grown-up and respectful about the whole thing, I even attempted to read the plaques underneath the exhibits, and I did learn a bit about what it all meant, but there’s just something about statues with giant stiffies, depictions of various sexual acts painted and sculpted on (yet more) pots, and the way they’re presented in a serious way – a contrast of content and form – that just brings out the child in you – like when you read the Kama Sutra for the first time at your mates parents place – feeling naughty for taking photos, snatching a sneaky picture here and there, and I could sense we were all moving at a slightly quicker more embarrassed pace through this collection than the one before.  I don’t know why we all feel a little awks when it comes to sex and bodies and stuff, I mean Life’s a sexually transmitted disease after all! but I mean, come on… when faced with relics like this… who wouldn’t snigger a little?

3. HUACACHINA:  a 5 hour bus (book with Cruz Del Sur in Lima) will cost you around 40 soles each and deliver you to the desert Oasis and sand dunes of Huacafuckingchina (their words, not mine) – a beautiful one-horse town with just 96 inhabitants, who maximize their assets by exclusively offering Dune buggying and sandboarding experiences to the truckloads of tourists arriving each day.

You can join a group sand buggy from 4-6pm (to catch the sunset) for only 45 soles a piece (~£10), or a private buggy for 50 soles each for an hour.  Both options include sand-boarding, which entails lying down on a beat up piece of wood vaguely resembling a snowboard, throwing yourself head first, elbows in! down a sand dune, and is a lot of fun.


4. CUSCO [JH]:  Catching our first glance of the vast and expansive Andes Mountains out our plane windows “THIS is more like it!” I thought.  At times, it felt as if we were close enough as to skim our shirt sleeves against them as our Captain skillfully threaded the plane through the eye of an Incan needle that was the narrow mountainous approach into Cusco – “the belly button of the world”, and the epicenter of the ancient Incan civilization.  If that wasn’t breathtaking enough, the 3,467m (11,374ft) [FACTS*] altitude literally took our breath away.  There are several remedies to help tourist with altitude malaise, such as chewing on Coca leaves – new experiences.

*to put things into perspective, the U.K. barely raises her regal head more than 162m (531 ft) above sea level.

 TRAVELLER NOTES:  We highly recommend staying at Casa de la Gringa in San Blas, Cusco.  A breathless climb for the newly arrived, but worth it for the warm and cosy refuge that awaits. Single occupancy costs 50 Peruvian Soles (about 12 quid) – slightly more expense than my usual backpackers budget, but deffo worth the extra investment for the home from home feeling.  They also facilitate San Pedro ceremonies from here for 340 soles pp.

the approach into Cusco

llama selfies

5. CEVICHE:  [RB] Despite since becoming a vegan (a disconcerting viewing of Cowspiracy’s fault), ceviche is the finest use of fish since the finger.  If you ever come anywhere near South America then take on as much of this citrus-soaked wonderfulness as possible.  Greens on Cusco’s main square was a massive find, allowing us to gorge ourselves on the stuff…

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6. BOLIVIA: [JH]:  ahhhhhhh road border crossings, how I’ve missed thee.  We crossed into Bolivia through the rather rough-round-the-edges scruffy border town of Desaguadero.  The first thing that struck me were the bowler hats, everywhere.

I’ve borrowed this from the Internet: “Since its invention in 1849 in London, many famous people have been sporting bowler hats. You may recall the likes of Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and even Mr.Potato head from Toy Story 2 wearing these types of hats. However, none of them have worn the hat with the same style and flair as the “Cholitas” of South America – specially the women in Bolivia.”

But WHYYYYY? The story goes as follows:

Back in Manchester, shortly after the bowler hats were invented, two brothers were manufacturing a line of bowler hats. Their plan was to sell them to the British railway workers who were working in Bolivia at the time.  However, when the hats arrived to South America they found that they were way too small to fit the heads of the men.  So, instead of throwing them out they decided to create a “fictional” story to tell the Bolivian Cholitas.  This story was that all the fashionable women in Europe were going around wearing these bowler hats and it was the new fashion trend!  The locals embraced them as part of their traditional clothing, and nowadays the bowler hat is part of Bolivian national pride, the El Sombrero.

We also learnt an extra level of cultural subtlety to El Sombrero:

1.  Wearing the hat in the middle of the head in a smart upright position indicates “Hands off Chico, I’m married”

2. A subtle tilt denotes “I’m available (or possibly widowed)”.

3. Wearing them to the back of the head jokingly means that their relationship is “complicated”.

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Cholitas wearing El Sombreros, snuggled up on the boat to Isla Del Sol, Titicaca

7. THE DEATH ROAD:  Ciao! Marica here.  The Death Road (Bolivia, La Paz) was one of the best and worst experiences of my life so far.  We began at 4700 metres above sea level in light snow, which quickly turned into totally obscuring fog and freezing rain.  Hands were frozen and our sunglasses rendered as useless as a frosted window.

Thankfully, this slowly turned into clearer skies and eventually beautiful sunshine as we descended, revealing the incredible peaks and terrifying drops as the road simultaneously went from Tarmac to the uncertain gravel we would get used to over the next 5 hours.

My personal style was to remain seated the entire time and focus generously on my brakes, as the rest of the team stood pointlessly (in my opinion) on their pedals and hurtled to certain death at every unguarded corner.  No barriers, sometimes less than 3m width of road and 1000m crevasses to try and ignore as my vertigo screamed its warnings in my ears.

My style of riding meant that the rest of the team had plenty of rest stops as we progressed and I was given the proud title of “slowest in 20 years” but at least I didn’t suffer the fate of one of our team: a rival squad of riders mixed up with us at one point, shaking the grip of our most confident member, a German whose name escapes me.  He came off his bike hard and managed to dislocate his shoulder!

All we could do was make uneducated medical suggestions (including the group leader) as he nearly passed out from the pain, sat on a convenient road-side barrier. We had been told – in humour we thought – that statistically only 5 out of every 6 riders make it.  Our party was 6, so losing the German meant the remaining 5 were safe for the rest of the trip! #everycloud

The landscape was phenomenal, the riding more than exciting, and I never thought I’d be able to achieve anything like it.  My war against my fear of heights achieved a huge victory.  More please!

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5 people and 10 intact shoulders

A Bold death-road technique
TRAVELLER NOTES:  There are tons of agencies offering tours to the Death Road in La Paz.  We booked ours through Free Bikes, offices near the Witches Market and the main Bus station. We bargained a deal for 300 Bolivianos each (35 quid) for the most economical bikes.  A lot of companies take large groups – we had 6 in ours and I think that’s Free Bikes MO – depends on your preference, but fewer people suited our taste.

8. WITCHES MARKET, LA PAZ [JH]:  Encountering macabre dead Llama feotuses, lotions and potions at the Witches Market in La Paz is an insight into Bolivias soul. At first sight, the Witches Market didn’t seem so witchy.  For the first 10 meters or so it’s just stalls with small figures stapled on top of each other, some herbal tea and old women sitting lazily on the stairs of the cobblestone streets.  You’d never guess that this is the place to buy powdered dog’s tongue, which can be secretly added to a man’s food to make him loyal to his lover like a dog is to its master. But it is – for the right price.

9. TOURS OF LA PAZ PRISON [JH]:  Turning up drunk at the entrance of La Paz prison, and asking the Guards in bad Spanglish “can we, like, come in?” because we were told that was “a thing“.

“After gaining notoriety from the book Marching Powder, the not-exactly-legal tours of this bizarre prison without guards became a popular part of backpackers’ tours through Bolivia. Inside, visitors could observe a prison unlike any other – where inmates with the right resources were afforded luxuries unthinkable anywhere else like saunas, alcohol, and full-service restaurants.”

Sadly, this “tour” is no longer available… but disdainful looks from affronted Prison Guards is freely available to any drunken tourist who wants it.

10. LAKE TITICACA: ISLA DEL SOL [JH]:  Ahhhhhhhhhh, after the hectic fast paced schedule of the preceding days, arriving by boat to “The birthplace of the Sun” felt like coming home to Lake Atitlan.  Space, peace, horizon, lake, pure terrain (no cars), lots of Sun and our home for at least 48 hours this time… a chance for some RnR and to be swathed and swaddled by Incan history, as it’s believed their Sun God was born here…  an ideal spot to settle in, catch up on some much needed meditation, and to watch Sunrise and Sunset.

View from our hostel balcony
Sunset on Roca Sograda with this good egg
 

We opted to stay on the Nonorthern part of the Island, Challapampa, which has a beach and is close to some of the famous pre-Columbian ruins.  It’s a small farming/fishing community with a basic but pretty plentiful approach/supply of accommodation, restaurants and shops etc.  We didn’t bother booking any accommodation in advance – as soon as you step off the boat there’s a swarm of local lads/tour guides, poised and ready to either take you to where you want to go or to help you find somewhere, but it’s easy enough to just wander around and find somewhere you like by yourself.  Walking through the small village to the beach, we managed to find a hostel with a balcony view (recommended to make the most of those sunsets), costing me 35 Bolivianos for a bed in a Compartido (shared) room, and around 130 for a Privado.
The 70 sq km island was reminiscent of my beloved Isles of Scilly – small enough to walk from tip to toe in 4 hours, and definitely merits at least night or two – you can then devote a day each to the northern and southern ends, taking a walking circuit of the main sights across a long day.  There were some that arrived with the intention of hiking the Island in a day, which is possible but far too much of a box-ticking exercise for me.  If you have the time, I’d highly recommend sticking around a while, drinking in the quiet serenity and gorging on plenty of Trout before heading back to the port of Copacabana.


11. GOODBYES [JH]: Writing this from Casa de la Gringa, back in Cusco, some days after those good eggs left, reeling emotionally and physically from their fleeting but warming visit and excited about what South America has in store for me next.

Guatemorphosis

Guatemorphosis

Central America was never on my destination list for this trip…

Back in June, I was in Asia, in Kathmandu, the other side of the world.  The next logical step after that would be to hop skip and a’jump over to Tibet, Myanmar, or Thailand etc, but if you read my recent blog You Can Go Your Own Way, then you’ll know I threw logic out the window some time ago.

After Denso ultimately departed Nepal destined for Blighty 😢 I had a decent period of procrastination & inertia, somewhat stuck whilst I digested my Indian adventure and mused about my present situation in Nepal:  y’see, it wasn’t really the right season to be there – monsoon season was upon us so the humidity was simply ghastly darling.

I was surrounded by keen beans all pumped and ready to go, or freshly back from Trekking, but to be honest I just wasn’t feeling it, and I mean, what the hell else do you do in Nepal if it’s not trekking (FML)?  I just had this feeling of not really knowing what I was doing there – but hey! you’re in Nepal, so you know, you suck it up and enjoy the present moment!  Time operates differently now, and the Downtime is as important as The Go.

Enjoyment (read: many Everest beers) led to chance meetings (read: synchronicity) with Andy, and the goddess that is Kali Indigo (off’ve El Salvador).  Whilst sat licking our hungover wounds (late) one morning in our Kathmandu hostel (Alobar1000), she told me about the Moon Course in San Marcos del Lago, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  It sounded perfect, and just what I was looking for. Later that same day in an entirely separate conversation, my roommate also told me about the Moon Course, that she’d done it and that it was life changing.

OK Universe, I get the hint.

After revelling in the delights of Nepal, a month and a half later I was booking 4 tickets, voluntarily subjecting myself to 4 flights (sorry Rebs), celebrating my 36th birthday in New York JFK and Dallas Airport, and all in all a 52 hour door-to-door journey to the other side of the world to arrive in Guatemala – from where the Rainbow takes its colours – and eventually my ultimate destination, Lake Atitlan.

I was lucky enough to spend 2 marvellous months and 7 magical days by the Lake, I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

I leave Del Lago, San Marcos and Guatemala changed, with it imprinted upon my soul and forever grateful that I came.  Maltiox!
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this, everyday

Today, I touched down in South America – a brand new shiny continent for me to explore, and another unexpected destination on my journey.  First stop: Peru, and two glorious weeks with Richard Bold!

Whilst I was sad to leave my Guatemalan home and family behind I know I take them with me, and I can’t think of a better reason to move on and discover the next part of my treasure hunt – dam, I’ve missed that boy!

Only one more sleep till Bold Times are a’foot, and our 15 days of Funder begins!

view from Tupac Hostel, Lima