Posted by: crazyolivier | October 13, 2009

Ecuador, Mitad del Mundo!

Ecuador Nours (56)Ecuador has been quite a CISVish stop over for me. For those rare that still don’t know what it is, CISV Building Global Friendship is the NGO where I have always been involved since I’m a kid.

A very latino CISV workshop
I first ended up staffing a workshop (WS) in Quito for Juniors (mostly aged 16-20), the Andinos weekend. We first had a great pre-WS along with the best home staff ever (Gaby and Diego) and the 2 other content staff with me (Meli and Lalis from Costa Rica). Good time to enjoy a bit Quito by night and a wonderful countryside house from Gaby’s family.At Gaby's House - Pre WS
Then started a 5 day workshop which involved a lot of new encounters and… spanish! I was there along¬†with 50 latinos from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.! Quite fun, tough at some point language wise, but interesting and great to live a CISV weekend outside of Europe. We worked quite a lot, but also had time to fully enjoy the swimming pool there! I really loved the Andinos!!Andinos WS with Gaby!Andinos WS - Crazy Jump in the Pool!

A unique horseriding experience in the Cotopaxi National Park
After the WS, Nounours (CISV friend from France) and his friend Louis, both backpacking from north to south of Latin America, joined us for a few days. After a relaxing pizza/movie night in Quito, we leave for a horseriding day in the Cotopaxi National Park, roughly an jour away from the capital. Cotopaxi is the 2nd highest summit in the country at 5897m.
Ecuador CotopaxiIt is one of the highest active volcano in the world! The weather is quite shitty, but we are really well covered with real cow-boy outfits! Stunning views during a lovely 2-hour horseride tour with Gaby Nours Louis and a really nice guide, even though my horse Casano is not much in a hurry!! Ecuador Guys at the Cotopaxi

I am last most of the time, and I can’t make him go quicker… but at least I follow the path of the others, while Louis’ horse is just going all over the place ūüôā
Ecuador With Guide.
We then relax a little bit at the house which organized the horseride tour and enjoy a good coffee while taking a lot of picutres
Ecuador Nours (45)
Ecuador Louis + Oliv'
On the way back we stop for the biggest Burger ever!
Ecuador Burger :)

Quito nightlife
Back in Quito we enjoy a nice outing at night at “Tapas y vinos” with many other CISVers like Ana Maria Pancho Dieo Jaime… and 3 Finish girls including Sara Frankenhauser with who I did a CISV camp 13 years ago!!! Amazing and quite fun to meet up again there in Quito. We then go to another nice bar drinking a lot of Nectar, the local liquor.

Wonderful beach weekend
Ecuador Beautiful BeachWe then leave Quito for some amazing 3 days at the beach next to Atacames in the Esmeralda Province, 350km away.
Ecuador Sunset
The 5h drive is not that much¬†of a rest with way too many curves in the mountainous roads. ¬†Gaby’s uncle and aunt have an apartment there and we quickly enjoy a nice lunch with view on the sea… we don’t complain. We stay there with Nours, Louis and Gaby’s family (brother Jaime and cousin Pancho) + Diego who all were at the workshop. Diego and Jaime challenge Nours and I at tennis… and let me tell you that France kicks ass even though we actually thought we would loose bad… That was quite fun!! ūüôā France 6 – 2 Ecuador!! We have a lot of fun all of us at the beach, enjoying the pool, and meeting aswell other CISVers that stayed in another apartment in the same building, including Greg a France from CISV France.
Ecuador Frenchies - Nours, Louis, Greg
Bonfire at night on the deserted beach with stupid games such as “In my music box, there is… ” and “The pointing game”.
Next day, another hour drive to reach a paradise beach where we obviously spend a very relaxing and enjoyable day. We admire how the kids go up the trees to collect coconuts!
Ecuador Guys at BeachAnd we enjoy seeing other youth horseriding on the beach and riding there little boat on the sea. Ecuador HorseEcuador Bananas

Back at the beach apartment we enjoy a lovely apero and last night in Casablanca, another resort not so far away.

Quito nightlife is back!
Ecuador Chupito!On the way back to Quito, we first stop in a cute little restaurant in the forest with a lot of colibris. At night we go out with Jaime, Louis, and Colleen – an American friend of Jaime. The nightlife in Quito, for the little I experienced it, seems to be pretty various and fun. We enjoy first a nice thematic bar about the Beatles, then a shot bar – Chupito!, and finally a club where we have a lot of fun… and as usual recently, a bit too much Nectar? Ecuador Nectar

Mitad del Mundo
MitadDelMundo (46)Next morning, after sleeping only 3 or 4 hours, direction the Mitad del Mundo – Middle of the¬†World –¬†area, just outside of Quito. We first go to the official place with a big monument and a nice setting showing the limit between north and south… but the calculation was apparently wrong and there is another little museum less than 200m away.
Oliv'=South, Nours=North, Louis=MitadDelMundo!We go there and enjoy a fun experimental visit! There, on the right limit between north and south… weird things happend! You can make an egg balance on a nail, and it’s for example impossible to properly walk straight on the line if you close your eyes (that feels soooo weird, as if you were completely drunk…without the headache!).
MitadDelMundo Egg on Nail!On the line limiting north and south, we also loose all our strength and any 5 year-old kid could kick my ass! ūüôā The guide also shows us how the water flushes on different direction. One one side of the hemisphere, it flushes clockwise. On the other side, it flushes counter-clockwise. And on the line between north and south?? It flushes straight, the water does not turn at all and just goes straight down. The guide showed that just one meter away from the line on each side, which made the experience even more impressive.

Leaving to Cali, Colombia
We quickly come back to Quito as I am leaving to Colombia on the very same day. I first take a bus to Tulcan which is less than an hour drive before the border. There, Gaby’s family own a farm and I am hosted by some of the people working there. Next morning, direction Cali… the rest of the trip will be described in my next post!!

Posted by: crazyolivier | October 2, 2009

The Pacific Coast

Huacachina (25)Hey everyone.

Will I ever catch back time on this blog? I guess I’ll finish telling the stories about my trip a few months after I come back!!! Anyway, I’ll write this post in French as I did not do it for a long time.

Summary at the end in English.

Un trajet de bus bien éprouvant
Apr√®s une exp√©rience telle que la route des Incas, je ne pensais pas retrouv√© aussi rapidement des sensations intenses… je me trompais! Huacachina ne faisait au d√©part pas parti de mes plans, et puis le bouche √† oreille des backpackers a fait son bout de chemin: je pars de Cuzco en direction de Ica, la grosse ville voisine de l’oasis de Huacachina.
Ce trajet de bus de 20h est certainement le plus √©prouvant que j’ai eu depuis le d√©but de mon voyage. Je me retrouve juste en haut des escaliers, avec donc 2 probl√®mes: je ne peux pas rabaisser du tout mon si√®ge… et j’ai le droit √† d’immondes odeurs de pisse remontant des toilettes. Pour couronner le tout mon lecteur MP3 s’est cass√© pendant le trekk jusqu’au Machu Picchu. Donc plus de film ou musique pour faire passer le temps et penser √† autre chose. Je m’en remets donc aux bons vieux films Am√©ricains pass√©s dans le bus: Mission Impossible 3, Die Hard 4, que du lourd… en Espagnol! Je ne comprends pas tout mais avec de tels dialogues, les images suffisent pour comprendre ces chef-d’oeuvres de la cin√©matographie hollywoodienne.
Avec d√©j√† pr√®s de 3h de retard, les chauffeurs prennent tout de m√™me le temps d’une grosse heure de pause √† Nazca, la ville des myst√©rieux dessins repr√©sentant tout sorte d’animaux visibles uniquement depuis haut dans le ciel. Un petit sandwich aux oeufs et √ßa repart, pour enfin arriver vers 14h √† Ica. Je prends rapidement un taxi direction Huacachina, √† moins de 10min de route de l√†.

Huacachina (121)Huacachina
Direction, la Casa Arena, un hostel bien sympa au milien de ce superbe oasis. Je suis naze mais d√©cide de directement faire l’activit√© principale du coin.

Le surf des sables: des sensations fortes!
16h30, direction les dunes de Huacachina, en buggy, pour 3h incroyables! Terrible!! En haut d’une des dunes, pr√™t √† en d√©coudre avec ma premi√®re descente en sandboard, j’entends une petite voix douce “Go Frenchie!”. Je me retourne et ai la bonne surprise d’apercevoir Ya√ęl, une amie am√©ricaine rencontr√©e √† La Paz puis Copacabana et enfin Cuzco! Ca fait plaisir!!
Dans mon groupe pour l’apr√®s-midi, nous sommes une douzaine dont Simone et Kris des Pays-Bas (encore apr√®s Mieke et Dorien pendant le Machu Picchu) avec lesquelles on se marre bien et on fait plein de photos rigolotes, avec nos ombres et cette superbe √©tendue de sable. Les dunes de Huacachina font 300 √† 400m de haut, ce qui en font certaines de plus hautes au monde.
Huacachina (33)Quant au sandboarding… c’est √©norme! Bon en fait le faire debout, franchement, c’est pas facile et tr√®s casse-gueule. Mon 1er essai se solde par une franche rigolade: belle chute > descente sur les fesses > le feu aux fesses > un trou dans le short! Essai #2 un peu plus r√©ussi malgr√© une nouvelle chute un peu plus artistique. Essai #3 r√©ussi! Yeah!!! Je descends cette 3√®me dune sans tomber, debout sur ma planche. Au fait, les planches, on les cire avec une bougie ūüôā C’est bon en tout cas de descendre sans tomber… tr√®s bon √ßa!
Huacachina (35)Viennent ensuite les 2 derni√®res dunes, super pentues. L’option debout est vite laiss√©e tomb√©e, on va y aller t√™te la premi√®re, allong√© sur la planche! Et l√†, c’est mieux que Disneyland et le Parc Asterix r√©unis! Wooooooooowwwww √ßa va vite! Sur la 2nde je me prends limite le surf de Simone √† l’ariv√©e… il s’en est fallu de tr√®s peu!
Le sandboarding fini, on rejoint notre buggy pour un petit tour suppl√©mentaire dans les dunes. Le coucher de soleil est incroyablement beau √† l’horizon du sable. Puis notre pilote de buggy cat√©gorie F1¬†nous donne quelques sensations fortes lorsque l’on vole litt√©ralement au dessus des dunes!¬† Huacachina (58)
Enfin, retour vers le lagune de Huacachina que l’on admire la nuit tombant. Au beau milieu du d√©sert, ce spectacle est vraiment beau.

Soir√©e de folie au go√Ľt de vin p√©ruvien…
De retour √† l’hostel, je me fais embarquer dans un tour des bodegas et qu’est-ce qu’on rigole!! Moi qui voulait aller me coucher car j’√©tais mort de fatigue… je ne le regrette pas! D√©j√† le trajet est dr√īle puisque l’on roule 20 bonnes minutes en buggy sur une route normale pour arriver au lieu de fabrication du vin. Nous y voyons la mani√®re dont ils √©crasent le raison. Huacachina (65)
Rien de tr√®s nouveau l√† dedans, sauf que d√®s que l’on s’y met aussi, √ßa devient un peu plus dr√īle! On teste un peu ce vin, puis direction un autre endroit pour go√Ľter du “Perfect Love” et du Pisco (le Pisco Sour, vous connaissez? Ca vient de ce coin du P√©ru). On se dit qu’en ayant pay√© que 7USD pour cette excursion, on devrait vite rentrer √† l’hostel apr√®s avoir go√Ľter ces 2 vins. Mais non! QUand ce lieu se transforme en pseudo bar dansant, qu’on nous am√®ne gallon sur gallon de ce fameux “Perfect Love”, √ßa rend la soir√©e tout de suite un peu plus dr√īle! Huacachina (83)Les verres √©tant tout petit, taille shot, on enchaine et on est bien vite en forme Olympique (cat√©gorie lever de coude). On danse, boit, chante… Ca fait longtemps que ne m’√©tais pas autant marr√© car depuis la Bolivie et d√©but du P√©rou je ne faisais quasiment pas la f√™te et me levait tous les jours tr√®s t√īt pour des excursions. Cette soir√©e s’annonce longue et de retour √† l’hostel, toujours en buggy avec des chauffeurs pas tr√®s nets (j’ai pas r√©ussi ma pr√©vention cette fois-ci), je d√©cide d’aller repousser d’un jour mon tour du lendemain aux Iles Ballestas (je devais partir √† 6h du mat, 4h plus tard…) histoire de profiter pleinement de la fin de cette soir√©e.
Retour donc √† l’hostel et direction le bar qu’ils nous ouvrent pour l’occasion. On joue tout plein au billard et on danse jusque la fermeture vers 5/6h pour finir autour de la piscine. Quelle journ√©e incroyable ce fut!!!

Une journée de relaxation
Je profite donc finalement d’une journ√©e de repos √† Huacachina. On va se prendre un bon petit d√©j avec Simone et Kris autour de l’oasis, avec un excellent Jus d’Orange frais puis retour √† la piscine de l’hostel histoire de gazouiller dans l’eau et avancer mon bouquin. En fin d’apr√®s-midi, sur le point de dire au revoir aux Hollandaises, une personne se poste net devant moi: c’est Laia, une amie Espagnole rencontr√©e √† Potosi, La Paz et Isla del Sol!!! On en profite pour d√ģner ensemble avec ses amis et boire quelques coups avant que j’aille me coucher pour profiter pleinement des milliers d’oiseaux le lendemain matin.

Islas Ballestas
Lever 6h du mat pour d√©part du tour direction les Islas Ballestas. Apr√®s avoir long√© la c√īte Pacifique vers le nord, nous¬†arrivons vers 9h au lieu de d√©part du bateau vers les Islas Ballestas: la petite ville de Paracas, un charmant petit port de p√™che. Islas Ballestas (1)
A bord du bateau, nous d√©couvrons tout d’abord le cand√©labre. Figure embl√©matique de 200M, taill√© dans le sable. On ne sait pas grand chose sur ses origines et sa signification, mais c’est impressionnant! Cela n’aurait apparemment rien √† voir avec les lignes de Nazca, malgr√© une certaine similitude dans le style et la zone g√©ographique. Un autre √©nigme de la nature…
Nous nous approchons ensuite des Iles Ballestas qui abritent une dizaine d’esp√®ces d’oiseaux… pour 700 000 r√©sidents en tout!!! Le vent et l’eau de la mer ont fa√ßonn√© des formes intriguantes dans les √ģles, rendant ce spectacle volant encore plus int√©ressant. Islas Ballestas (18)Nous admirons les pingouins, fous de bassan, p√©licans, phoques, otaries, lions de mer, mouettes, goelans, cormorans, … le spectacle est saisissant et j’ai rarement pris autant de photos en aussi peu de temps! Islas Ballestas (54)
Les √ģles sont devenues toutes blanches √† cause des excr√©ments de tout ce beau monde. Du coup, une fois par ans, les autorit√©s locales viennent dans un grand bateau pour r√©cup√©rer plusieurs tonnes de mer*e, s’accostant au ponton de la photo ci-dessus.

Lima
Apr√®s ce tour de 2h, direction Pisco en taxi puis Lima en bus. 4h de trajet et me voil√† dans la capitale du pays, Lima. L√†-bas, je suis accueilli pour quelques jours chez Daniel et Arlette, une cousine issue de germain de mon p√®re. Je profite d’une chambre rien que pour moi, lit double, t√©l√©, ordi, salle de bain… le luxe! En plus une amploy√©e de maison, Maria, sympa, qui nous concote quelques bons petits plats.
Arlette, professeur en CP au Lyc√©e Fran√ßais de Lima, est une Fran√ßaise d√©barqu√©e il y a 40 ans d’Alsace pour rejoindre Daniel, un m√©decin P√©ruvien ayant travaill√© en France. Ce couple est tr√®s sympa et accueillant, et cela fait bien plaisir de se sentir √† la maison apr√®s plusieurs semaines d’hostel!
Je me ballade dans le coin, au bord de mer, et vais même au cinéma un soir voir Watchmen.
Je revois 3 amies Péruviennes rencontrées à Montevideo en Uruguay: Mari Carmen, Maritza et Melissa.
Lima (18) ChicasSoir√©e tr√®s sympa ensemble dans un resto italien o√Ļ aucun d’entre nous ne r√©ussi √† finir notre plat de p√Ętes succulentes!! On cherche ensuite un bar dansant sympa dans le coin, mais pas trop d’endroits tops dans le coin.
Avant de partir, le lendemain, petit tour du centre ville avec les filles. La Plaza Mayor РPlaza de Armas Рest magnifique, et rappelle beaucoup la place du même nom de Cuzco.
Lima (30) Plaza MayorVisite aussi de l’Abbaye San Francisco et de ses catacombes. On y voit une superbe biblioth√®que tr√®s ancienne ainsi que de magnifiques pi√®ces. Cela ressemble un peu aux salles de confr√©ries secr√®tes…
Lima (39) San Francisco

La visite finie, il est temps de continuer mon chemin vers l’Ecuador!! Quito, me voil√†!

——

Summary in English

A tiring bus ride
After the Inca Trail, I did’nt think I would quickly get to feel so thrilled that quickly. I had originally not planned to go to Huacachina… but after hearing so many backpackers talking about it, I had to give it a try.
So I left from Cuzco to Ica, the big city next to Huacachina, for a long and tiring 20h bus ride. This for sure has been the worse ride sofar in my trip. The pee smell all along, and a non-declinable sit allowed me to very little sleep that night. But happily enough, or not, I could try to enjoy some great Hollywood movies such as Mission Impossible 3 and Die Hard 4, in Spanish!
Finally once in Ica, I quickly took a taxi to the oasis of Huacachina.

Huacachina
Direction the Casa Arena, a great hostel with swimming pool in the middle of huge 300 to 400m high sand dunes, some of the highest dunes in the world!

Thrilling emotions with sandboarding
In the afternoon, I join a group for a buggy tour in the sand dunes. We wax our boards with candles, and here we go down the dunes! Ready to go down my first one, I hear “Go Frenchie!” and have the pleasure to meet again with Yael, an American friend I had already met in La Paz, Copacabana and Cuzco!
Huacachina (27) DyingAll along the afternoon, I have a lot of fun with 2 Dutch girls from my group, Simone and Kris. We take a lot of fun pictures and help eachother to perform our skills in sandboarding… And one thing for sure: I suck! At my first attempt, the result is a burnt ass and a hole in my shirt ūüôā But the 3rd try will be the good one and I go down a whole dune without falling.
We then approach the last 2 dunes, and they are so steep that  there is only one option: going down laying down on the board, head first. And that is sooooooooo incredible!! Better than roller-costers.!
One the sandboarding is over, back in the buggy, our driver enjoys giving us some extra thrills by driving crazy up and down the sand dunes. We are flying!! Finally, after admiring the sunset, we go back to Huacachina and have a stunning view over the lagoon, lights down, wow…
Huacachina (9) Driving!

Huacachina (50) Sunset

… and a crazy wine night!
Back to the hostel, I feel like sleeping after such a bus ride and thrilling sandboarding experience! But there is a wine tour and my new Dutch friends convince me to join. So here we go, in the buggy, 20min drive away. We first enjoy seeing how the walk on the raisin to extract the liquid, which becomes more fun when we can all join. We then go to a kind of bar where we thought that we would only be given one or two drinks, given the very low price of this excursion: 7USD.
Huacachina (75) Crazy night
But, NO! Once sitted there, they start the music and keep on bringing us gallons after gallons of wine, the Perfect Love, and Pisco. Yes, Pisco comes from that region… you know, Pisco Sour?? Anyway, with such a beautiful name, the Perfect Love can only bring us joy and full happiness, and a loooot of fun!! We dance, drink and talk untill late, and once back at the hostel, we enjoy the bar/disco/pool tables/swimming pool untill even later, around 5 or 6 in the morning. I had the good idea, once back at the hostel, to go cancel the morning tour I was supposed to attend, at 6am, to the Islas Ballestas!

A relaxing day
I enjoy an extra day there, resting in Huacachina. Great breakfast by the lagoon, swimming pool and book reading. By the time I need to say by to the Dutch girls, I have the great surprise to see Laia, a Spanish friend I had already met in Potosi, La Paz and Isla del Sol.. So we enjoy that evening together with her friend, sharing a good dinner and a few drinks. Early sleep for me to be in a good shape for the next day!

Islas Ballestas
Islas Ballestas (129) Pelican
Wake up around 6am to drive north on the Peruvian coast towards Paracas, a charming little fishing village, from which all excursions to the Islas Ballestas depart. There, we first see a huge 200m sign that was marked in the sand loooooooooong time ago. People do not really know the origins of it, eventhough it has some similarities with the Nazca lines. Approaching the Islas Ballestas, we appreciate viewing sooooooo many birds flying all around! More than 700 000 birs from 10 different spices populate these islands (cormorants, pelicans,Peruvian boobies – yes, a weird name!!, etc…)¬†, along with sea lions, penguins, etc… I wonder if I have ever taken as many picture in such a short time!!
Islas Ballestas (106) Loads of birds!
Fun fact: there is sooo much shit from the birds left on the island that it turns out to be white, and that the local authorities have to come once a year to take out several tons of it away!
Islas Ballestas (123) Sleepy!

Lima
Early afternoon, it’s time to leave direction Lima! First stop in Pisco, not far away, and then a 4h bus ride to Lima.
There, I’m hosted by Daniel and Arlette, a far cousin from my dad. I fully enjoy the luxury of having my own room, double bed, TV, Internet, bathroom… and even great little dishes cooked by Maria, their lovely houselady. The time with Daniel and Arlette has been great as they were so welcoming to me.
I walk along the sea, go see Watchmen at the movie theatre, and meet up again with 3 Peruvian girls I had met in Montevideo: Mari Carmen, Maritza and Melissa! Great evening together in an Italian restaurant and bar, and then visit of the center of Lima the next day. Plaza Mayor (aka Plaza de Armas) reminds me a lot of the center Plaza of Cuzco, and I also enjoy visiting the Monastery of San Francisco, with famous catacombs and beautiful old rooms that remind me of secret orders from movies ūüôā
Lima (29)
After this great last day in Peru, it’s time to continue my trip in Ecuador, direction Quito!

Posted by: crazyolivier | August 22, 2009

El Camino Inca y el Machu Picchu

Alright folks, here it comes, I know, with waaaaaay too much delay… some words about the Inca Trail that led me towards the Inca’s lost city: the Machu Picchu… !!!

Day 4 Machu Picchu

Preparations
As said in my previous post, I decided to arrive in Cusco several days before hiking the Inca Trail so that I would aclimatize to the altitude and be ready for long upcoming walks between 2500m and 4215m high.

Day-1, I am thinking about the Inca Trail all day. I am so excited, but also happy to have some last calm hours. I enjoy a great 1h massage in Cusco’s center te get pretty relaxed. Then, it’s time to buy the “little” things that could make a difference during the next 4 days: 4L of water and chocolate bars!! At night, back at the hostel, I try to fit everything in my small backpack… Sleeping bag, fleece, poncho, changing clothes, water and chocolates! Ready? Go!

Day 1: Cusco – Wayllabamba
Day 1 Start Point!After a short night of sleep, I wake up at 5.30am. Breakfast with Mieke and Dorien, 2 great girls from the Netherlands that I will meet many times during the following 4 days. Beto, our guide for the Inca Trail, comes to pick me up at my hostel around 6.30am. We pick up the others of my group, 2 couples from Brasil and Sweden, and drive towards Ollaytantambo, our last stop in civilization before the next 4 days. I enjoy a good energetic breakfast and buy a walking stick to help me for the lovely ups and downs of the Inca Trail!

We then drive to Piskacuchu – not to confuse with Pikachu the lovely Pokemon! – a small city at 2700 m of altitude. There, on the `km 82`of the road between Cusco and the Machu Picchu, we get a stamp on our passport to mark the official start of the Inca Trail, then cross a bridge above the Urubamba river, and walk along it as it flows along the Sacred Valley. To start, it rains! Great!!! But the motivation is there. Our poncho above our bag and sleeping matress, let`s go for over 40km of walks to reach the Machu Picchu!! Starting the trail in a flat terrain, we arrive in Miskay (2800 m). The rain stops and we enjoy the first amazing landscapes and a first point of interest when we admire the Inca city of Patallacta (2750 m). We continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing for about five hours until we reach our first campsite in the Wayllabamba village (3000 m). At some point we had a really tough climb lasting 20 or 30 min. Once up, when Beto saw all of us already sweating and in need of air, he smiled and shared with the 5 of us: ¬ę¬†Enjoy today to train a bit, cause that climb was nothing compared to tomorrow… Tomorrow, it`s 5h up non-stop!!!¬†¬Ľ Wuhuuuu what a motivating program! All along the way on Day 1, we see spectacular views of the Vilcanota cordillera on the opposite side of the Urubamba River, where the impressive Veronica stands at 5832 meters above sea level. Beto also presents us the diversity of wild flora and fauna that can be found all along the valley. Our first campsite in Wayllabamba (para bailar la bamba!) is really nice. We have a small area just for our group, and enjoy a great dinner with soup and comfort food. Our porters are awesome, and very impressive as they carry along the way all the tents, cooking material and food (they each carry roughly 20kg of material, when we carry 5 to 7kg of our own belongings). More about their terrible working conditions at the end of Day 3 reports.

At 9pm and my eyes close VERY easily, with a head full of wonderful images, a smile on my face, and some sort of anxiety about the terrible coming day!

Day 2: Wayllabamba – Pacaymayo
Day 2 crazy stairs upWe wake up at 5.30am with a lovely coca tea. Around 6.30am, it’s time to continue our trekk for the toughest day of walk towards the Machu Picchu. The first 5h consist of an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km, reaching the highest point of the Inca Trail above 4000m high.

We start with a very tough 1h30 walk up untill our first break. I wait for the others of my group during 1h, because Monika from Sweden injured her foot so she has to walk much slower, but still managing to continue thanks to the mental help of her boyfriend Jon! Rain then starts again, much harder than the previous day. Beto tells me I can walk without waiting for the others untill our camp, where we have the area 16. I forgot to mention that 250 people do the trail at the same time, along with 250 porters and guides. So we all get to sleep in the same camps and meet along the walks and group size varies from very little like ours, to huge with more than 30 people. The advantage of a small group is that when we stop for a cultural explanation, this is much nicer! And of course we all got to know eachother quite well, aswell as the porters and guide. But on the other side, some bigger groups got more into a party mood than ours!

Anyway, back to the 2nd part of Day 2. After the 1st break, I still had to walk for roughly 3 or 4hours more to reach the top of the climb. For sure, these have been the toughest hours of the 4 days. Along this climb, eventhough you only think about putting one foot ahead of the other one, I have time to enjoy a bit the changing landscapes, from wide open tracks to small ones in a kind of tropical jungle along a tiny river or waterfall: my legs are killing me, but wow that’s beautiful! We walk in a kind of cloud forest with many birds.

My body is becoming really weak, but the only thing I can do is to keep on walking, again and again, always getting a bit closer to the top. The music on my MP3 player is really helpful as walking is a pretty solitary effort, and I only talk to others when I stop for some calm seconds to take over a bit of breath, drink water and enjoy my Snickers and Milky Way to get some energy and avoid altitude sickness due to low sugar in my blood!!! I meet people from all over the world, obviously, and that is really nice!!Finally, after walking up during almost 5h, I reach the top of the day at 4215m high, with still a crazy rain… but god it feels good! We are all proud to have reached that point, where it’s pretty chilly (it’s high… and we are sweaty!)!
When you think it’s over, it’s not! The descent in the Pacaymayo valley is not that easy, with around 2h more of stairs and slope that litterally kill my adductors! I finally reach our campsite around 2.30pm and meet again with Zhan – one of the 2 British friends from the Puno islands tour. I’m not close to reach my group’s camping though… I can’t find it!! Where the hell is number 16??? Donde Day 2 camping 16!esta el 16 por favor?????? Unhappily, not next to 15 or 17… that would be way too easy!!! So after such a tough day of walking, being completely soaked all over but my boxer, and mentally quite weak from that day… I get quite pissed and I’m very close to fall into tears walking all around the various campings looking for ours… One porter sends me down…. not there. Another one tells me it’s up, you know, over there… not there! Finally, after an extra 30min of walking around, I find it!! Such a relief and I can let all my emotions down and enjoy a soup and lunch on my own, thanks to the porters that always walk infront of us to have everything ready for us. The others arrive a bit later, and after a lovely siesta we enjoy a good dinner all together. We are all tired and exausted but happy to be done with the toughest day. The Brazilians have some relaxing baume that we enjoy! But the night will be quite tough, as the terrain under my tent is not flat at all… plus everything is wet, from my clothes to the inside of the tent, the mattress and sleeping bag. At more than 3000m high, believe me, the night was cold and short!

Day 3: Pacaymayo – Winay WaynaDay 3 walkers!
The early wake up is quite difficult due to the muscle tireness and short night. But the motivation is there! Day 3 is the longest but also most impressive and interesting one, with many archeological sites to visit and learn from thanks to Beto. From Pacaymayo, we start climbing again! ūüė¶ Noooooooooooo!!!!!
We then reach the second peak of the Inca Trail, the Abra de Runkurakay (3970m). Half way up is the Runkurakay Inca complex, really nice! It consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served as a watch tower. We then finish with these horrible climbs and descend towards Yanacocha, a black lagoon, and enter another kind of cloud forest to reach Sayacmarca (3624m). That Inca site is a semicircular construction, with different levels, narrow streets, fountains, pations and irrigation canals.
The rest of the day consists of easier climbs and descents for many more hours of hike. The 3rd peak is the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3700m) where we can appreciate some of the wonders of the Incas’ culture. An Inca tunnel is quite fun to go through at some point before reaching the most complete and best-preserved archeological site along the Inca Trail, also called Phuyupatamarca, which means ¬ę¬†town over the clouds ¬Ľ. We then walk down on continuous steps and slopes towards Winaywayna (2700m).
I run down, with the energy and motivation I have left, to be one of the first ones to enjoy the showers that we can use in that campsite!! In total on Day 3, we walked 16km with barely no rain and soooo gorgeous landscapes. I spent most of the day completely on my own, alone in the middle of incredible mountains, forests and other sorts of natural beauties. I am tired, obviously, but the emotions are soooo big. This is incredible. And tomorrow, just 6km of walks towards the Machu Picchu!!!!Day 3 Group with porters!At night, we eat an incredible dinner. That dinner is a way for the porters to tell us thank you for the past 3 days. But hey, WE are the ones that would need to thank them! The next morning, they won’t come to the Machu Picchu and will directly go back to their homes. Thanks to Beto we hear a bit more about the porters’ working conditions, and that makes all of us quite emotional. The porters are working soooo hard to help us, we pay big money to the travel agency… and still they are payed close to nothing (120 soles, roughly 30 Dollars each for the 3 full days of help)… and on top of that they need to arrange a way to get home, at their own expense!!! Still, they were smily all along the 3 days we spent together. But the 5 of us do find these conditions, with such a low wage, really outrageous. It makes us feel pretty sad, angry at that system… but we can not do much except talk about it around and complain to the agency. After hearing about the way the porters were treated by the agency, we all took back our feedback questionnaire and told the agency what we thought about these methods, knowing that we would not really be heard. So the least we could do was to give a really good tip to the porters, so we basically doubled the porters’ wage by each giving them 120 soles. We could see how happy they were when we thank them, and we were fortunate in our group to get a closer relationship with them throughout these 3 days… eventhough we were the customers while they were completely devoted at our service, which was great and embarassing at the same time. In other larger groups, they did not get the chance to get any sort of discussion with their porters or even guide, so only for that reason, I am really happy that I went through a small agency, Kintu Expeditions, with an excellent guide ‚Äď who is, him, working in excellent conditions – and sooo devoted porters.
Anyway, after that emotional moment, it was time to get some good night sleep before waking up around 4 am for the final day towards the Inca’s Lost City!

Day 4: Winay Wayna – Machu PicchuDay 4 Machu Picchu
The biggest issue on day 4 is that we have a last checkpoint at 5.30am right next to our campsite, so we cannot leave earlier for the final 6km of hike towards the Machu Picchu. And right next to the Machu Picchu, there is the Wayna Picchu, another mountain overlooking the Machu Picchu, with the best view on the Lost City and with an amazing panoramic view over the valley. Each day the tickets are limited to go on the Wayna Picchu as the climb is very steep and dangerous. Only 400 tourists per day can go… and peolpe that do not do the Inca Trail such as us can arrive as early as they want from Aguas Calientes, the nearest city roughly 8km below the Machu Picchu. Do you follow? We heard that arriving after 6.30 or 7.00am, there is basically no chance to get one of these 400 tickets, free of charge with the Machu Picchu entrance. That means that we will need to hurry and ¬ę¬†fight¬†¬Ľ for these tickets if we wanna enjoy the stunning views from the Wayna Picchu!
Day 4 last check pointUnfortunately, our group is not at all one of the first ones at the morning check point, and we pass it at roughly 5.50am, 20min after the first groups, basically behind 180 other ¬ę¬†Inca trailers ¬Ľ… But I am so motivated to go on the Wayna Picchu: after all, we do not go to the Machu Picchu everyday of our life, and who knows when the Peruvian Government might finally decide to close the site to visitors, as it is rumored for a few years now. So, as soon as I get my stamp for that final chekpoint, I ask Beto for my Machu Picchu entrance ticket and set a meeting point with my group for later on in the morning…Let’s go for 6km of running and passing in front of other ¬ę trailers ¬Ľ. I think that I have rarely given such a sudden and intensive effort, especially after 3 days of hikes in my heavy legs. And as I have some breathing issues, as many of you might know, I was breathing really loudly, my mouth wide open ‚Äď just as Bruce Willis would do in the Die Hard sequels (!) – and I was getting in front of many groups, one after one. Apparently many people thought that there was a dying guy behind them when they would hear me approaching! ūüôāEach time I would see another group of people ahead of me, that would give me an extra motivation to continue. In my mind, it was just like a race where the award would be the ticket to the Wayna Picchu. But a race for which I was totally out of shape as I don’t do much sports during my travels. BUT… surprisingly, I did find the inner motivation to continue, thanks to every single other person of the Camino Inca that I would see ahead of me in these 6km.That crazy race, I do it along a trail of flat stones on the edges of beautifull cliffs in highland jungle. But not that much time to enjoy besides a few breaks to get back my breath. I actually become one of these runners that I had been criticizing the previous days for not enjoying the views… but well, on that day, there is an award upon arrival: the Wayna Picchu entrance!. So with time, I double some friends, then others, and others, and many more, and reach the Sun Gate with barely no more energy and breath. The 20 crazyly steep steps towards the Sun Gate (aka the Intipunku) feel like hell, and I finish them up ¬ę¬†on my 4 legs (with the help of my hands and the little courage I had left)! First view of the Machu Picchu from there, wow…incredible with the sun slowly rising, and no sign at all of any rain or clouds, ‚Ķ but not much time to enjoy if I wanna get that precious open sesame down at the Machu Picchu.
I need 10 or 15 more minutes of running down to make it to the entrance of the Machu Picchu, at the ¬ę
House of the Guardians ¬Ľ. I arrive after roughly 15 or 20 people only of the Inca Trail, which means that I doubled more than 150 people along the way!!! It took me less than 50min to do these last 6km of ups and downs towards the Machu Picchu. I’m quite happy to be done, but still do not have my ticket to the Wayna Picchu… I first need to register and leave my backpack and walking stick, and then I can run back to the other end of the complex to hopefully get the ticket at the entrance of the Wayna Picchu.
Day 4 Well deserved tickets to the Wayna Picchu!!!But where is it? There? Over there? Nooo… it feels like a treasure hunt!! Finally I make it there, stand in line impatiently, and
get the ticket # 368 out of 400!!! Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. Such a relief! The Inca Trail people got most of the last 50 tickets, and we all hug eachother as if we won the New York marathon, and let a lot of our emotions down… But how unfair is it that people not doing the Inca Trail can arrive, all clean, fit, with a bus right to the entrance of the Machu Picchu, and so easily get their ticket to the Wayna Picchu… Some of my friends that arrive just after the ticket #400 were quite sad obviously to not get it after walking more than 40km over the past 4 days.How weird is it to see all these groups of foreigners thinking they own the place and shouting crazy without respecting the Inca site… but well, at least, that tourist invasion mostly started a bit later in the day. We first had over an hour to rest as I was meeting up with beto and my group at 8am for a guided visit of the Machu Picchy site. So we went to the ¬ę¬†snack bar¬†¬Ľ and bought what might be the most expensive sandwich and water bottle ever, but uh, after that thrilling early morning, my wallet did not really care that much!!At 8am, we start a 2 hour guided tour with Beto and the Brazilian couple, all in Spanish! The Swedish will arrive just a bit later. According to the archeologists, the Machu Picchu is divided into 2 major sectors: the agricol area, and the ¬†city area which is where the few people were living and where all civil and religious activities would happend. That area is divided into several areas: the sacred, the popular, the noble, and the ecclesiastic ones.We then meet up with people from other groups to climb the Wayna Picchu, ¬ę young peak ¬Ľ in Quechua ‚Äď where Machu Picchu means ¬ę old peak ¬Ľ.The people that got the 1st 200 tickets are supposed to climb it at the 7am session, and the next 200 at the 10am session, which is perfect for us. Day4 Wayna Picchu with the Dutch gang1The climb is not easy at all, and we often need to grab a rope to continue going up. And better not look too much down as we are going pretty high! I am accompanied by some of the Dutch gang that I had met up all along the past 4 days ‚Äď including Mieke and Dorien – and we enjoy it a lot. The more we walk up, the more stunning the view become. We can experience really spectacular views of all the Inca citadel, aswell as the vailleys and mountains surrounding it. The Wayna Picchu sets around 360m higher han the Machu Picchu. Apparently, the top of the mountain was the residence for the high priest. Every morning, the high priest would wal down to the Machu Picchu to announce the coming of the new day. After spending around 2h on the Wayna Picchu, we come back to the Machu Picchu to leave the site.
Around 2pm, we take a bus down to Aguas Calientes. It starts to rain for the 1
st time of the day ‚Äď we got sooooo lucky!! – and enjoy an excellent lunch in a restaurant before taking the train back to Cusco with Monika and Jon, the Swedish couple of my group.

Day 4 Tequila shot!Back in the hostel, I wait for Mieke and Dorien from the Netherlands to have our well deserved Tequila shot! I actually enjoy 2 or 3 more of these, talk non-sense for an hour or two, and finally reach my bed around midnight, completely dead from the past 4 days, but also full of incredible images and emotions.For sure, the Inca Trail will stay for ever as one of the most unique experience of my life.

After another day to relax and do some laundry, it’s time to leave to Huacachina on the Pacific coast, for one of the craziest day of my trip so far… see next post for the details!!


Posted by: crazyolivier | June 27, 2009

Cusco, capital de los Incas!

After the beautiful Lake Titicaca, my trip became even more exciting as I was heading towards the Inca Lost City: the Machu Picchu!!! Cusco, Sacred Valley and llamas… I’m on my way!

French Summary at the end with some extra thoughts about life!… ūüôā

Going to Cusco

Llamaaa

We decide to take a “ touristic bus” that takes a bit longer but stops along the way to Cusco into different sites of interest. 6028429
We first stop in Pucara, which has a nice archeological center and a beautiful church, Santa Isabel.
We then reach the highest point of our trip in la Raya, at an altitud of 4312m. Time to take a very touristic picture with a local woman and her llama ūüôā , and we leave again.
Direction: Raqchi, an Inca archeological site with the influence of the Tiwanacu civilization (the one I explored a bit in Bolivia, see 2 articles before).
Finally, we walk around Andahuaylillas, a small village with lovely colonial houses and a gorgeous church which nickname is “the Latin American Sixtine”! We also stoped on the way in a kinda farm to feed some lovely baby llamas and see beautiful baby cuys… sooooo cute!

Cusco, el “belly button”!

The street towards my hostel!After 9h of travel, we reach Cusco and check in the Loki, a comfortable¬† Int’l hostelin an incredible setting. I have several objectives before starting the Inca trail: discover the wonders of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and get aclimatized to the altitude so I would not get sick from it during the long walks of the Inca trail.
CuscoCusco was the center of the world according to the Inca civilization, and therefore they named it “belly button” in Quechua: Cusco! Capital of the Inca Empire, the conquistadores discovered the city in 1533 with over 100 000 inhabitants! Since, its influence has constantly plummeted untill 1911, when the discovery of the Machu Picchu helped Cusco to get back some of its ancient prestige, and to become nowadays one of the most visited cities in Latin America. The best to admire in Cusco is its great architecture, with huge walls with perfectly fitted stones, that let everyone see how genious the tecnics were at the time. Plaza de ArmasPlaza de Armas, in the center of Cusco, is one of the prettiest square I have had the chance to admire during my trip sofar. The whole city is full of charm, with beautiful stones on the ground, lovely white houses, and a very colonial flavour! The city sets at an altitude of 3400 metres, which means pretty fresh nights, but still lovely sunny days. The only fact of walking around this hilly city is tiring, but it also makes any effort a great training before the Inca trail!

The Sacred Valley
Pisac - Sacred ValleyA few days before the leaving to the Inca Trail, I decide to explore the surroundings of Cusco: the Sacred Valley. Lazy as I can sometimes be… I decide to visit some of the main places of interest through a very cheap day tour.
We first walk around Pisac, 32km north of Cusco. This is the most complete Inca archeological site after the Machu Picchu, with a great view over the valley and an impressive size!
72 km away from Cusco sets Ollantaytambo. This lovely Indian village has one of the best Inca ruins I have had the chance to see. Ollantaytambo - Sacred Valley 2The ¬ę¬†half circle¬†¬Ľ peripheric fortress is soooo impressive, overlooking the valley.
We finished the day with the Chinchero’s people that are still living with very traditional customs, and shared with us some of their sewing tecnics, including the very interesting way that they are making colours our of plants! I heard that the sunday market there is an authentic indigeneous and colourful and is worse a visit if you even pass by!!

After such a day, believe me… you feel pretty young, and full of new energy from seeing such ancient powerfull sites. This is incredible how much beliefs there was in the Inca world, and it once again makes me realize how materialistic our world became, with the power of Internet and the media, and the very poor heritage that passes through our modern generations.

Aclimatized to the altitude, fit like never (yeah, right!), aware of the Inca’s basics… I am ready for THE INCA TRAIL baby!!

——

Résumé en Français

D√©sol√©, cela fait longtemps que je n’ai pas trop √©crit en Fran√ßais.

Sur le chemin de Cusco

Apr√®s le lac Titicaca, il √©tait temps pour moi de poursuivre ma route vers Cusco. Depuis Puno, toujours avec Sam et Zhan d’Angleterre, on a d√©cid√© de prendre un bus touristique s’arr√™tant √† diff√©rents endroits int√©ressants sur la route. Pucara et sa magnifique √©glise Santa Isabel, Raya √† une altitude de 4312m, Raqchi et son site arch√©ologique Inca sous influence de la culture Tiwanaku, et enfin Andahuaylillas et son superbe village et sa “Chapelle Sixtine d’Am√©rique Latine” sont autant de stops que l’on a pu appr√©ci√© sous un soleil magnifique. Autant de stops que de mani√®res d’appr√©hender la culture Inca, d’en d√©couvrir toujours un peu plus sur cette civilisation qui parait si passionnante. On en profite m√™me lors d’un arr√™t dans une ferme pour donner le biberon √† des b√©b√©s lamas… trop mignon!!!

Cusco
Mon but en arrivant √† Cusco plusieurs jours avant de faire la route des Incas menant au Machu Picchu √©tait de pouvoir m’acclimater √† l’altitude, Cusco culminant √† 3400m, et d’en profiter pour d√©couvrir les beaut√©s de Cusco et de la Vall√©e Sacr√©e. Cusco veut dire nombril en Quechua, car √† l’√©poque des Incas, Cusco repr√©sentait pour eux le centre du monde. Cusco perdit de son prestige d√®s la conqu√®te des Espagnols en 1533, et ne la retrouva que gr√Ęce √† la d√©couverte du Machu Picchu en 1911, ce qui relan√ßa totalement le tourisme dans la r√©gion et en quelque sorte rendit √† Cusco ses lettres de noblesse pass√©es. Cusco est une ville absolument magnifique, avec sa place centrale Plaza de Armas, des balcons coloniaux √† vous couper le soufle, ainsi que des rues √† y perdre votre respiration: √†a monte s√©v√®re pour retourner √† mon hostel (voir photo plus haut!)!!

La Vallée Sacrée
Avant de partir pour la route des Incas, je souhaitait tout de m√™me visiter quelques un des plus beaux sites arch√©logiques des environs de Cusco. Pisac est un site incroyablement bien conserv√©, certainement le plus grand apr√®s le Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo est aujourd’hui un charmant village Indien, surplomb√© d’imposante forteresses ultra impressionnantes. Enfin, les habitants de Chinchero nous ont pr√©sent√© leurs coutumes ancestrales de coutures et de fabrication des diff√©rentes couleurs √† base de plantes.

Pensée du Jour

Ces quelques jours pr√© Machu Picchu m’ont en tout cas permis de me sentir tout petit au milieu de tes h√©ritages de la civilisation Inca. De me remettre en question sur pas mal de choses. C’est peut-√™tre de voir tant de belles choses qui me font r√©fl√©chir un peu plus? Apr√®s tout, c’√©tait l’un des buts de mon voyage non?? Apprendre l’espagnol, d√©couvrir un continent, m’√©vader de Paris… changer quelque chose dans ma vie. Me poser des questions sur o√Ļ je veux aller et comment. Bon, je crois que y’a pas de r√®gles math√©matiques pour cela… mais apr√®s ces permiers mois de voyages et ces jours au milieu de cultures si fortes au Lac Titicaca puis dans la r√©gion de Cusco me permettent de relativiser sur beaucoup de choses en me rendant compte √† quel points les peuples Andins suivent de longues traditions et croyances ancestrales, alors que nous autres enfants de la globalisation -que je suis √† 200%…- n’avont que peu de rep√®re si ce n’est Facebook, Skype, nos multiples adresses Emails, ou encore nos journaux et programmes de t√©l√©vision favoris. Je me dis, merde, il faut revenir √† des choses plus simple quand-m√™me pour me sentir encore mieux non? Bon c’est bien beau mais c’est pas facile tout √ßa! Je commence par o√Ļ?? O√Ļ sont donc pass√©s tous ces traditions de nos anc√™tres? Ah non c’est vrai, aujourd’hui, on pense √† demain, on efface vite le pass√©! Il faut toujours aller plus vite, obtenir tout plus rapidement, avec de moins en moins de contacts humains. Y’a un manuel pour r√©ussir √† se d√©douaner de toutes ces nouvelles technologies et retrouver une vie un peu plus saine?? En m√™me temps, c’est vrai, c’est facile de profiter de toutes ces technologies… mais √ßa nous enl√®ve quand-m√™me √©norm√©ment d’humanit√© tout √ßa non? D’un autre c√īt√©, gr√Ęce √† ce blog, je partage un incroyable voyage avec mes mots et mes photos, et je garde une trace des mes pens√©es, m√™me si je n’en partage pas autant ici que sur mon propre journal de bord. En tout cas, cette r√©flexion d√©but√©e il y a quelques mois me travaille pas mal depuis!

Posted by: crazyolivier | June 26, 2009

Lago Titicaca!

Hola my favourite readers! Last stop in Bolivia, after La Paz and Tiwanacu, it was time for me to explore a bit of the exciting Lago Titicaca… which sets the border between with Peru!


Titicaca Lake
Lake from CopacabanaAt an average altitude of 3812m above see level, this is the highest commercially navigable lake of the world! It is also the largest lake of South America. The western part of the lake is in Peru, Puno being the main city. The eastern part is in Bolivia, Copacabana being the main city. I decided to explore a bit of both sides, starting with the Bolivian side! During my stay around the
lake, we got different explanations about the origin of the name Titicaca. It might come from Quechua and Aymara languages, meaning ¬ę¬†Puma Rock¬†¬Ľ due to the shape of the lake (I did try hard to see a puma there… could’nt do it!). Andean people tend to apreciate seeing animals in everything with an Inca or other pre-andean civilization ūüôā .


Copacabana
View from CopacapanaSo, from La Paz, I took a new 3 hour bus ride. How surprised am I, when I enter the bus, to see Chris seated there! Chris, from Canada, took Spanish lessons in Buenos Aires together with me, 2 months earlier! The world is really small sometimes… Once in Copacabana, Wait. Copacabana… like the beach in Rio de Janeiro? Like the famous song by Barry Manilow?? Yeah… but no! That’s the other ay around people! The name of the beach in Brasil actually comes from the 19th century when they built there a church named after the virgin of the Bolivian Copacabana. So, back to my story… Once in that city, it was time to look for a hostel. After going around the 2 main streets, I quickly see that it would be much cheaper to take a room along with someone else. So when I bump into Gabriel, a porteno from Buenos Aires… I just ask ¬ę hey, wanna stay with me? ¬Ľ (no indecent proposal to be misunderstood in these words, ok guys?!?!?) and 5 minutes later we become friends for the next few days ūüôā We then go to have dinner with Chris and his frined Maria and enjoy our first evening there. The next day we just enjoy walking around the tiny Copacabana and taking pictures from the lake shore.


Isla del Sol
Isla del Sol RuinsNext day… we go on Isla del Sol (
Island of the Sun), the main island on the Bolivian side, and one of the largest one of the lake. On the boat to the island, I meet up again with Nathalie (Germany) and Yael (USA) that I already met several time earlier in my trip! And I will meet these 2 cool girls even other time later on in Peru!! So we spend the whole day together, along with Gabriel my new favourite Argentinian friend! In the northern part of the island we walk for a long time, with some gorgeous views over the lake as the walk takes us up closer to the sky! Because that island is a very rocky and hilly island, we are tired by the walk!! At the top of Isla del Sol, there are over 180 ruins. Most of them date from the Inca period. The 4 of us, southern part of Isla del SolThe ruins are not that spectacular, but the walk with that incredible view is really worth it!!
In the southern part of the island, exhausted by the morning hike, we decide to hang out there and enjoy the view and the sun while laying down on the grass. And there, on the island, I meet up again with Laia from Barcelona, that I keep on meeting in random places :)I will also meet her again later on in my trip!!!



Direction Peru!
El Paquito Tour on Titicaca LakeBack to Copacabana, I take a bus to Puno, the main city on the Peruano side of the lake (see map above). Border without any particular issue. As often, we need to get out of the bus with all our stuff, pass the custom, and get back in the bus. In Puno, I go to a nice hostel -Inka’s Rest- recommended by Sam, an English girl I met up in the bus from Copacabana. We meet there in the hostel with Zhan, another British, and decide to go together the next day on a tour on the islands around Puno.

From Puno lakeside, we leave for a 2day tour on the islands around: Uros, Amantani, and Taquile.


Islas Uros
Girls UrosTiticaca lake has many people living on the Uros, a group of more than 40 floating islands, built with an aquatic plant, the totora. The original purpose of creating these islands was defensive, so that the people could easily be moved in case of any threat. From Puno, our first stop was on such an island, where we discover how the people live and eat, and we were actually offered to eat some of their plant that kids eat just like ice-cream! The little kids were dressed up in typical clothes and were just sooooo cute. ūüôā Between two floating islands, we took an original small boat and it was a great experience on the Titicaca lake.


Amantani
AmantaniNext to the floating islands, we went to the Isla Amantani. People there speak mostly Quechua. About 800 families live in 6 different villages around this beautiful hilly island. The Pachamama –
Mother Earth– is the main mountain peak, with ancient ruins on top, offering a unique view over the lake. The island is very basic, with very little energy, no car, no Internet, ‚Ķ everything is sooo traditional there and aThe men in the house! lot of families use candles and fire in general as the main source of energy! Some families on Amantani open their homes to tourists for overnight stays, such as we did, and cook meals for us! Eudocia and Angel hosted the 3 of us for a great moment of sharing and emotion with them. After a nice hike to the Pachamama with all our group, we shared a lovely dinner with our hosts. Then, it was time to attend the nightly traditional party where we got offered to dress up in traditional clothes and dance to the sound of a local music band. Fun… and traditional!


Taquile
Group Gate TaquileTaquile is another hilly island were we went the following morning, very early. Taquile was used as a prison during the Spanish colony and into the 20
th century. Since 1970, it belongs to the local people, who live there since, to reach a current population of roughly 3000 people. We walked under the rain to the highest part of the island, where we can also find some pre-Inca ruins, such as a beautiful gate where we took dozens of pictures!! The hillsides are mostly used as agricultural terraces, and it made the way back to our boat quite beautiful too. After 2 incredible days on the islands and the lake, it was time to come back on the land, in Puno… with, once again, our head full of unique clich√©s!


Once in Puno, it was time to enjoy a relaxing evening with hot shower, good pizza, Internet, and DVD night in our hostel! The next morning, once again, it was time to leave early… We decided with Sam and Zhan to take a longer bus to Cusco that would stop in different places with some historical explanations on the way… Cusco and Machu Picchu… watch out, El Paquito is coming!!!

Posted by: crazyolivier | June 19, 2009

La Paz and the Tiwanaku civilization

Hola amigos! Sorry I did not write for sooooo long… I just arrived to Costa Rica… but I will write you about… roughly 4 months ago… when I was in La Paz and Tiwanaku!

f537614803A musical train ride
From Uyuni, I took my only train of the travel so far. A night train, 9h, from Uyuni to Oruro. The train was quite full, and you could find everything in it, just as you can imagine from any public transportation in Latin America!! The worse, though, was that there was loud music starting at 6am, eventhough we arrived only around 9am!! And believe me, these weird live songs that they showed on the TV, of pre so called boys band, were quite… ridiculous? Menudo, the origin of Boys Band! :)Old fashioned? You should have seen 4 guys, hair in the wind, pasionately singing how they love all the girls of the planet, and all the lucky ones that got a ticket at the concert giving all they got at shouting non sense sounds that could be written as following: uaaaaahhhhhh ooohhhhhhhh te amooooooo muchisimooo ahhhhhhhhhhhh uhhhhhhhhhhhh te quierooooo aaaaaaahahahaha sos lo maximoooooooooooo ohohohohhhhhhhhhhhh grrrrrrrrrrrrrr (sound they must make when they try to take back their breath). In French, their sound could have been translated, roughly at the same period, by “Patriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick”… So, anyway, all that¬† to say that I did not sleep much in that train, thanks to a lovely TV that started sharing local music way too early!!!

Arriving in La Paz
Arriving in Oruro around 10am, I quickly find a shared taxi to reach the local bus terminal… and 15min later, I’m in a bus direction La Paz, highest capital of the world, that sets 3 640 metres above sea level!!

The bus ride is quite short, maybe 6hours. The arrival in La Paz is astonishing…f537618195 That city sets in a valley, in the middle of high mountains. People live in the center, as well as on the mountains, which makes the arrival setting quite impressive and so unique. We directly feel a hectic atmosphere,due to the altitude and such a densed environment. Following different advices from friends I’ve met on the way, I am staying in an Irish-owned hostel, the Wild Rover. I see there some people I’ve met in Potosi, such as a group of 3 crazy girls from Ireland and Australia, as well as a German girl that I will meet 4 other times between Bolivia and Peru. My first 2 days in La Paz are not the best of my trip so far, as I am feeling really sick! Weirdly, eventhough I was in a higer altitude over the past 2 weeks, I got the altitude sickness, aka “el soroche”. Weirdly so, without making any effort, I just could not do anything during 2 days. These 2 days program was quite simple: sleep (a lot), watch movies (many), eat (very little), and read (untill I fall asleep).

f537799187The World’s Most Dangerous Road: el Camino de la Muerte
When I felt better, I did not had that much time left in La Paz, as I still wanted to see Lago Titicaca from both sides (Peru and Bolivia) before heading to Cusco, and arrive there a few days before the Inca Trail. I therefore had to choose what to do, and what to skip… This is the whole questioning while travelling… There¬†are always some things you¬† need to let behind!¬†I decided that there was one thing I really could not miss: a bike ride on the Death Road… tatatatataaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!! So on D-1, I spent all day in town enjoying the very special city center of La Paz while looking for the best deal to do the Death Road. I was not willing to pay crazy money just to get extra breaks and an ultra aerodynamic helmet etc… So with 2 people from my hostel (Rochelle from Australia and Yannick from France) we book one where we will be in a small group, and with average¬†quality equipement, which means much smaller price as other companies offer! We¬†get pretty excited about the next morning and spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around that crazy city of La Paz. Going up, going down, enjoying colourfull handycraft markets, trying to find a shampoo (not easy!), etc…
Next morning, it’s time for the Death Road… The so-called World’s Most Dangerous Road… (just trying to get you afraid for me… but no worries, I got alive out of it!).
Here is a little presentation of the Death Road: roughly 65km long, it leads from La Paz to Coroico, starting roughly 50km north east of La Paz.¬† The road was built in 1930 (and I guess it never got any “refreshement!!!”). It goes through various types of vegetation, going from the fresh altiplano to the humid rainforest. It goes through crazy dropoffs¬†of at least¬†600m deep, and the road is no larger than 3,2m… without any protection on the sides… so no wonder why this road is so dangerous. The worse is that for many years, it was the only way that people from the region of Yungas could use to reach La Paz. In July 1983, a bus fell into the canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia’s worst road accident. Ironically, the danger of the road made it a popular tourist destination from the 90’s. There are now several tour operators organizing this activity, providing information, guides, transportation and equipement. Nevertheless, the road remains dangerous as 13 cyclists died on the ride since 1998.

So, having all these information in mind, we first took a van from La Paz to that starting point, around 6am…f67475795 f67462803We start biking at af67855059 very high point, roughly 5000m high… it’s so freezing cold!!! But the 64km continuous downhill is so worth it!! After a first portion on concrete road, and a lovely breakfast, we are starting to bike the actual death road. The road is now only made of dust and rocks, and it is now really hot. The scene is so spectacular, but we also need to focus at all time, seeing how deep is the dropoff on our left!!! We are constantly breaking with both hands, and we all finished with sore fingers ūüôā Many stops on the way let us enjoy such a unique landscape, and enjoy being in the middle of nowhere, there in Bolivia. Our guide was really nice and we all had a very fun day. At the end of the road, we went to a hotel to enjoy the best shower ever and a good meal, before heading back to La Paz! Tired but full of crazy images, we ended up partying in the hostel bar till dawn!

Tiwanaku civilization

P1030290
2 days later, it was time to leave La Paz towards the Titicaca Lake. But on the way, I decided to stop in Tiwanaku to discover one of the main pre-Inca civilization. Roughly 2hours from La Paz sets the rests of the Tiwanaku empire. P1030286A guide presented us many of their ruins, architecture and arts, the sun/star gates, their beliefs, habits etc. Learning all that helped me a lot afterwards throughout my discovery of the Inca Empire. As an example, the Tiwanaku are the ones that started defining the world into 3 parts: the above, the earth, and the underworld. Hence most of their signs include a 3 dimensional scale. I saw that aspect all the way throughout my trip the following weeks in Bolivia and Peru. ¬†Most of the Tiwanaku’s myths have been passed on to the Inca, and that made my tour their soooo interesting.

After Tiwanaku, it was time to go to Lago Titicaca. But that’s another story…

Posted by: crazyolivier | May 15, 2009

Salar de Uyuni & Reserva Eduardo Avaroa

Kung Fu

After a first thrilling experience in Bolivia, it was time to go to Uyuni, one of my most awaited experience of the trip, along with the lago Titicaca,  the Machu Picchu, Canal of Panama and Maya sites of Tikal in Guate and Yucatan in Mexico.

On my way to Uyuni
After a long night bus from Potosi, we arrived around 2am in Uyuni, and were allowed to sleep inside the bus untill 6am. Very cold and short night… and at 6am, it was time to start looking for our tour! The minute we went out of the bus, we easily had 10 different people offering us a tour, with roughly the same price and exactly the same content.¬† Tired of all these sollicitations, we (I was still with Camila and Tulio from Brasil) decided to walk towards the center of Uyuni to see the agency Juliet Tours which I had heard from from a French guy I met in Potosi.

Day 1: Train cemetary, Cactus island and Salt flat!
f536928979After some negociations and a good coffee, we signed up for the tour and could enjoy a lovely breakfast before leaving around 10am for some unique wonders! We left with a group of 6 people: 2 Aussies (Sam and Isaac) and one Japanese deaf girl (Tomomi) plus the 3 of us. Our guide was the driver, Ruben, and was accompanied by Nena, the best cook of the world (who happends to also be his wife!) ! The first day started with a stop at a train cemetery. Quite fun and unreal. Then, looong stop in the salt flat. The biggest salt desert of the world! Incredible astonishing views, as if we were on the moon. Houses, chairs, statues, etc…everything is made out of salt! We then stoped at the Isla del Pescado, full of cactus in the middle of the salt flat. Very impressive. We enjoy this moment to take some perspective pics and our first meal cooked by Nena… who directly deserved our appellation of “la Mejor Cocinera del Mundo”!!!!!
After that amazing stop we continue driving in the salt desert and take a long break to enjoy an amazing sunset. We stop along with another group and have quite a lot of fun, drinking Bacardi Coke in the middle of nowhere… The sun is strong untill the last moment, and all our faces get pretty burnt!
After that incredible day, we sleep in a salt hotel. Everything there is in salt aswell!! We are all very tired and sleep early, after playing some card games, as tomorrow will be another BIG day!

Day 2: Rocks, lagunas, flamengos, rocks, and lagunas again!
f537336339Day 2 start early in the morning. We first stop in a sand desert to see some incredible rocks that have been shaped with time by the strong wind: la Valle de Rocas. We then see a lot of wonderful lagunas of all colours, from green to red, and most of them being populated by flamengos: Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde. That would be the summary of that day: rocks, lagunas, and flamengos!
At night, we sleep in a kinda hotel and play cards for hours!

Day 3: Geysers, Hot springs and Pancakes! ūüôā
f537426899Day 3 start even earlier. We leave around 5am to go see geysers above 5000 metres high! There, boiling water naturally erupts from the floor at a temperature you do not wanna feel (more than 100 degrees celcius). Then, the sunrise is sooooo spectacular with such an incredible view and a feeling of “belonging to the nature”.
Around 7am, it’s time to enjoy some hot springs (between 40 and 50 degrees), and have the best breakfast ever, with the biggest pancakes you have ever seen!!!
Our next stop allow us to enjoy the incredible view on one of the highest Volcanoes in the world (around 6000m) behind a stunning blue lagoon…
We then drive to the border with Chile to say by to Camila an Tulio. The way back to Uyuni is really long, roughly 8h, but we have the opportunity to see the Desert of Salvador Dali and to apreciate again the spectacular rocks we saw on Day 1.
We arrive in Uyuni, dead tired, between 5 and 6pm. My train to Oruro (then La Paz) leaves at 2am… so we wait with the 2 Aussies, enjoy a good dinner and a fun dancing celebration in the streets… before definately saying buy to eachother…

First train ride direction Oruro and then La Paz by bus… Highest capital in the world, here I come!!

Posted by: crazyolivier | April 22, 2009

Bolivia: the Potosi mines

After Brasil, my trip took me to Bolivia for mas o menos 3 amazing weeks!

RELAXING DAYS IN SANTA CRUZ
I flew from Sao Paulo to Santa Cruz, stoping roughly 2 hours in Asuncion and going through Cochabamba aswell on the way. Santa Cruz is the richest city of Bolivia. Not much to see except a nice central plaza. The hostel costs nearly nothing (4 Dollars for my own room), and the weather is crazy hot. I enjoy 2 calm days there to read my thrilling book and update my facebook and blog. I experience for the first time the chaos of roads in Bolivia when I go to the bus station to buy my ticket towards Potosi. Colectivos here are kinda small mini vans with no more than 10 seats, that drive completely non sense on crazy paved and crashed roads… with no traffic lights at all!!! These colectivos seems to be from the ’50s and I wonder how they are still running!

ON MY WAY TO THE HIGHEST CITY IN THE WORLD
The trip towards Potosi is quite a hectic one! After 2 very interesting hours waiting for my bus to leave (a nice social experience in the bus terminal – you should see thise “shouters” trying to seel tickets to anywhere in the country, as well as kids running all around, people selling everything, and a regular random chaos!), we are ready to go¬†around 7pm¬†towards Sucre, before changing bus to Potosi. For the first time in my tour, I feel very very white… and we can obviously see who is not Bolivian among the passengers of the bus! The road is such in a bad shape, and without concrete… it shakes your boddy (shake¬†shake shaaaake!!!)¬†and makes tons of dust!
After a quick “eat what you can find in such a nowhere area” stop at midnight… we have a forced stop at 4am, in the middle of absolutely nowhere! A flat tire! It seems normal with such a road, and everyone is calm, eventhough we cant see a thing and its pretty cold as we were currently going higher with the bus since Santa Cruz, which was basically at sea level. 30min later, with a brand new tire, Sucre, here we come again! Around 10am the next day, we finally make it to Sucre. My backpack has never been that dirty and I am quite happy that I used the rain cover! There, I take another bus to reach Potosi. 4hours later, after going even higher and higher, we reach the highest city in the world, Potosi, at 4000 metre high!

THE POTOSI MINES!
I meet in the bus Camila & Tulio, a very nice young couple from Brasil (I will end up spending a week with them). We go to a very nice hostel and use our first calm day to rest and regenerate from this long trip and especially the altitude! There in Potosi, I meet for the first time several people that I will randomly cross again along the way in Bolivia and Peru (Natalie – Germany, Laia – Spain, Kaylen – Australia…).
The next day is the big day: we are going into the mines! We go there in groups of 6 people. Our guide Chaski is a 27 year old former miner who also studies tourism and therefore speaks a bit of english. However, I took the tour in Spanish so I could practice some more! We first get all the equipement: boots, pants, jacket, helmet, and overhead lamp.¬† We start with a little tour in town to buy some stuff for the miners: coca leaves, alcohol (96 degrees!!! yuuuk!), refresco, cigarettes, and dynamite. Then, we go for almost 3h in the mines! From the first moment in there, my breath is accelerating and I need to find a good pace as the air is getting more rare. You need to bend yourself a lot in order to advance in such narrow and low dark corridors. It’s very impressive, aswell as quite frightening. Imagining that people are spending several years, 10 hours a day in such an hazardeous environement, gives you a weird feeling… At times, we hear rocks falling here and there and this is not of a good help to reassure us! Each time we need to apologize to the Pachamama (the mother earth) and tell her we are good people that do not want in any kind to harm her! Coca leaves are helping a lot to relax and feel better in this tough environement! We are going around and Chaski tells us many stories and myths about the mines, the believes, the corporation organization of the miners, the huge amount of deaths every year… Since the mines exist, there has been as many dead miners as you would need to make a “human bridge” from Potosi to Spain… That gives you a weird feeling in your stomach. Nowadays, there is’nt much gold left there and miners only find ethanum that is used in riched countries, but does not value much at all. Therefore, to sum up, miners are working in a crazy dangerous environement for almost nothing.
At the end of the tour, we meet up with el Tio, a kind of devil that protects the mines. Miners go meet him to offer various kind of presents and pray for there lives and more. Chaski tells us a lot of fun and incredible stories about el Tio! After this last fun moment, we exit the mine, with a feeling of compassion towards such hard workers as the miners. These people are living in incredibly poor and tough situations, and it seems like the state does’nt really give a sh.t about it! We as tourists cannot do much about it except talking about it and feeling responsible of helping others when we can.

After such a moving experience, it’s time to go, still with Camila and Tulio, towards Uyuni for one of the most beautiful experience of my life!

Posted by: crazyolivier | April 22, 2009

Back to SP

Hey guys! I know that I am terribly late in this blog, so I will try to write more in the next weeks.

Caro, Julia, and Paulista Av.
So After such a great weekend at the beach, I went back to Sao Paulo for 10 days that I mostly spent with CISV friends. I stayed at first a few more days at Caro’s place. Walked a lot around Paulista Avenue. Met a lot with Julia, a great friend from 2 past villages, and her sister Beatriz. They have an awesome appartment next to Paulista Av. Again, I didnt had such a great weather with rain almost every single day…
Had a great party in a bar for Caro’s Bday! There I met up with a few CISV friends, as well as Alan, the boyfriend of one of Caro’s best friends.

Corinthians, Squash, Pool and Pizza!
I ended up spending a great saturday with Alan going to a Corinthians football game in the afternoon. Eventhough it was the beginning of the season the fan are still¬†getting crazy in the stadium and after my experience at la¬†Bombonera¬†in Buenos Aires it was great to ¬†develop my latin american football knowledge. After the game, we went to Alan’s place to¬†play squash and die on the court¬†so we could fully enjoy¬†the pool right outside of it… finishing up that great day with a yummy italian style pizza!

Jean le Marcheur avec Taureau Rouge!!!
I also met up a lot with Silas and Mau from CISV SP… as well as Ana Luiza from CISV Campinas!… and Ceci from CISV Argentina but who lives there in SP. We had a lot of fun one night enjoying a “Jean le Marcheur avec du Taureau Rouge!” That stayed as a running joke all my stay in SP with Mau and Silas!!!

Football in Sao Jose dos Campos
After a small week at Caro’s place, I move back to Silas place for my last days in SP. There, we actually first went to Sao Jose de Campos with Silas and Mau to meet up with Bete and many other CISVers to enjoy a fun football afternoon and watch the Superbowl live on TV! That day also, France became the World Champion in Handball, yeah!!!

Last days in SP
After¬†being sick at Silas place, but cured by his doctor dad, I meet up with Izabela and Ivana (friends of a friend) for a fun night…with no alcohol due to the medicines I am taking! A lot of laugh for a cool relaxing evening! I then enjoyed Silas mom’s talent – she is a dentist… Lunch with Julia and visit of the Liberdade area. In SP, there is the biggest Japanse community of the world: above 1 million people! There, so many things are written only in Japanese, many restaurants, shops, lights, etc… just have the Japanese style! Spend a lot of evenings to just chill out with Silas and Mau and enjoy some fun talks together! My last day in SP, once again, shitty weather… Mau helps me to book my Inca Trail to walk towards the Machu Picchu in Peru. I can’t wait, eventhough I know it will be quite difficult with such a shitty physical condition! Last night in SP dinner in a great rodizho “Angelica grill” all you can eat for roughly 10 Euros! Caro meets up with us, as well as Caca who was JC when I was leader in India a few years ago! Such good memories to share with her! We then go to Vila Madalena for a last drink with other CISVers such as Renata a crazy CISVer known by many of my friends. I am crazy dead, and has almost no sleep as I need to finish packing my stuff back home before leaving early in the morning to Santa Cruz, Bolivia!

Bolivia is another story… soon here! Mas historias pronto en El Paquito Tour!!!

Posted by: crazyolivier | April 4, 2009

Weekend at the beach!

with-caroDirectly from Rio, and before heading back to Sao Paulo, I went to spend a lovely day at the beach house of my CISV friend Caro. Story below!

Mission Impossible : rejoindre Bertioga !

Retour tout d’abord sur le trajet direction Bertioga… Tout a commenc√© lorsque j’ai tent√© d’acheter mon billet √† la station omnibus de Rio¬†! Le but est de rejoindre Caro, une bonne amie CISV de SP. Mais √ßa se complique¬†! Je dois r√©ussir √† aller √† une ville d√©nomm√©e Bertioga. Personne dans cette satan√©e gare routi√®re ne vend de billet pour Bertioga.Apr√®s avoir tourn√© pendant plus d’1/2heure dans cette gare immense, retour √† la case d√©part, √† la 1√®re agence…qui finalement nous dit que oui, c’est possible avec lui, mais ils vont me l√Ęcher au beau milieu de l’autoroute (je cite¬†!). Quoi¬†??? Bon je comprends rien mais finalement je prends, et je verrai bien demain¬†! J’appr√©hende quand-m√™me un peu le coup de l’autoroute et quand j’appelle mon amie Caro elle n’est pas rassur√©e non plus¬†! Il faudrait ensuite que j’aille en ville prendre le ferry pour la retrouver de l’autre c√īt√© mais je n’ai aucune id√©e de mon horaire d’arriv√©e… et pas de t√©l√©phone portable √† ce moment l√†. Aie aie aie niveau organisation, j’ai d√©j√† fait mieux¬†! Bref, √ßa sent le coup de Trafalgar¬†!!
Le lendemain donc, apr√®s avoir trop peu dormi, ferm√© mon sac √† dos en oubliant ma serviette de bain (grrrrr), je pars vers 9h du mat direction la gare omnibus et le coup pourri vers Bertioga… Je vais direct voir l’agence de la veille. Autre vendeur = autre version¬†!

– Non, non, monsieur, on ne s’ar√™te pas √† Bertioga¬†!!
– Oui merci monsieur le vendeur, mais moi j’ai achet√© hier un billet pour Bertioga, alors je fais comment¬†?? (en Portugnol sans fautes bien-s√Ľr…)
– C’est super facile¬†! Vous irez √† Santos et prendrez un autre bus en arri√®re vers Bertioga, ok monsieur¬†? (Santos, apr√®s tout, n’est que 1h30 apr√®s Bertioga… soit 3h de route en plus pour rien¬†!)
– J’ai pas le choix je crois… Vous √™tes vraiment une agence au top vous savez¬†? Je vous kiffe… (plus quelques mots en fran√ßais dans ma barbe parce que l√† j’√©tais pas tr√®s content… mais √ßa me faisait aussi bien rigoler car apr√®s tout, c’est √ßa aussi l’Am√©rique Latine¬†!!!).

Bon au final, c’est limite plus rassurant de passer par des vraies gares de bus. Au moins je ne serai pas l√Ęch√© au milieu de nulle part¬†!!
Le voyage est trop long √† mon go√Ľt, et j’aurais mieux fait de retourner √† Sao Paulo et de partir de l√†-bas¬†!! 7h de route direction Santos, puis 2h d’attentes pour ma connexion, et 1h30 direction Bertioga… Waouh, comment rallonger son trajet de 5h¬†?? Il est 21h30 et la journ√©e a √©t√© longue¬†!

Mission réussie: je profite!!!
J’attends un peu Caro puis la retrouve au ferry, que nous prenons avant de rouler jusque sa belle maison, qui se trouve dans un condominio √† Guaruja¬†! Tiens… je connais cette ville et √ßa rappelle des souvenirs¬†!!! jazzJ’y suis all√© en 1999 pour l’IJBC du CISV… souvenirs souvenirs¬†!!!
Nous sommes invit√©s pour la soir√©e dans une maison chic du coin o√Ļ le p√®re de Caro joue du piano alors que 2 autres de ses amis jouent de la batterie et de la contrebasse. Les morceaux de jazz sont vraiment sympa, on mange excellement bien, on boit ce que l’on veut avec un serveur √† disposition, et on profite d’une superbe vue sur la mer √©clair√©e au clair de lune et du doux bruit des vagues le long de la plage… c’est dur la vie!! Par hasard 2 couples fran√ßais sont aussi de la partie et c’est assez dr√īle… l’un des couples habitant dans le 11√®me ! La soir√©e est bien trop chic avec des br√©siliens ultra hup√©s ayant tous r√©ussi dans le business ou la m√©decine, mais c’est une belle exp√©rience et cela fait du bien aussi un tel moment de luxe en tant que ¬ę¬†backpacker¬†¬Ľ¬†!
nicebeachLe lendemain, il fait beau¬†!!!!! Enfin¬†! Premier jour de grand soleil depuis mon arriv√©e au Br√©sil et cela fait beaucoup de bien, surtout en √©tant au bord de l’eau. Journ√©e plage donc¬†! On se ballade avec Caro sur les diff√©rentes plages du Condominio priv√© et nous marchons pendant une bonne heure. miniwaterfallPetite bronzette et tentative de bodysurf-√†-la-Leigh-mon-ami-Australien-avec-qui-j’√©tais-en-Uruguay¬†! On rentre d√©jeuner vers 17h puis repos ultra reposant dans le hamac de la terrasse, entour√© de la magnifique nature sauvage du coin.

Retour dans la soir√©e vers Sao Paulo et ses encombrements que j’adooooore tant. Apr√®s 3 heures de route, je d√©couvre l’appartement de Caro qui m’accueille quelques jours avant que je ne finisse mon s√©jour √† Sao Paulo chez Silas. J’ai pass√© moins de 24h √† la plage… mais √ßa m’a vraiment fait beaucoup de bien en tout cas¬†!!!

—–

Summary in English.

Mission Impossible: Reach Bertioga
Let’s talk again about the previous day, when I wanted to buy my ticket to Bertioga at the Rio omnibus station… It sounds complicated because no agency sells tickets to Bertioga… After going around for more than half an hour, back to the 1st agency where the f¬Ķ*%ing salesperson finally tells us: “yeah yeah no problem… but the bus will drop you somewhere on the highway”! What??? Well I don’t really get it but I buy the ticket… I would see the next day! I would then need to find a way to go to the center of Bertioga and find the ferry to reach my friend Caro on the other side of the river. But no idea of when I would arrive and I did’nt had a cellphone at that time… so how can I warn Caro??? I’ve been better organizing my trips! So it does not sound that good!!
Next day then I go early to the bus station and directy ask again at the counter of the agency, to another salesperson, about my “dropping situation” in Bertioga. But other man means other version: “No no sir, we cannot drop you in Bertioga!” “What??? I bought a ticket to go there yesterday??” “Well sir, if you want you can go to Santos and buy a ticket back to Bertioga.” “Does it looks like I have have any choice? Ok do that… I will only loose 5 hours or so!” (all that with my great Portugnol…).
Well at the end it does sound a bit safer to go through real bus stations, eventhough I will loose roughly 5 hours. The trip is loooong and it would certainly have been quicker to go back to Sao Paulo and drive from there! Finally around 9.30pm I arrive and meet up with Caro!!!

Mission Accomplished: Enjoy!!!

We then go to her house in a nice condominio of Guaruja!! That makes some nice souvenir as I went there back in 1999 for the CISV IJBC! Fancy party at night at the house of her dad’s friends. Caro’s dad is playing jazz music with 2 other people. It’s really nice to hear that relaxing music with an amazing view on the beach… and quite nice to have such a luxury moment in the middle of my backpacker trip!!
Next day, the weather is awesome!!! Finally!!! the-sea1First sunny day since I arrived in Brasil. We spend a lot of time walking along the beach and enjoying the sea. Lunch around 5pm back at Caro’s and I then enjoy an amazing rest in the hamac with some quality view on the forest!
Back to Sao Paulo at night after a 3hour drive and nice traffic jams… Caro is hosting me a few more days before I go back to Silas place. I spent less than 24h at the beach, but that was sooooooooo good.

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