A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: davidt.ontour

The last afternoon in Rio, Going out with a bang

My Amazing afternoon to the famous sugarloaf mountain in RIO!

I am In money saving mode so walked the first half of sugarloaf, half price ticket as it cuts the first cable car... On the way I managed to see a monkey and a toucan...already a good day! I.reached the first stage in quick time...rain was pouring by this point....soggily I went to buy my ticket....But NO my AUS card did not work, tried again to no avail, my other cards were back at the hostel...i only had 10reals and the ticket was 26....ahhh..soaked and disheartened I nearly went down BUT being David Todd I decided that wasn't an option....by this time it was 6..the ticket office closed in an hour and by now the storm was in full swing thunder and lightning had surrounded the first stage of sugarloaf, it was a fascinating sight and probably the best storm I've ever seen.... I was inspired, I had an idea... I had biscuits ( I'd brought as hiking snacks) and decided I'd use them as a selling tool as I told people about my predicament an ask in exchange for change!! Some people would call it begging...i call it Initiative. I had no Portugese so my target audience was limited, slowly the change rolled in....i made a sign to help people understand! The rain started to ease but by 7 I was short of the 26.50 by about 5reals (a nice couple from London had helped with a five and random change has brought me to 21ish, but not enough...the ticket man had watched all this unfold..he and I had become a team of sorts in my effort to raise the money, lending me a pen and paper for my sign! It was the end of the day and everyone knew I deserved it...he was happy to let me up for 21!!!!! What a win. As I ascended the lighting was striking from all sides and I reached the top with amazing views of the whole of RIO. The storm passed, lightning bolt in the backdrop made for some incredible photos, it turned into a very clear and mild evening. What a perfect end...although I had given all my biscuits away which was a downer, especially since they were filled with a strawberry mix.

Feel like it was a worthy sacrifice!

Rio

Rio

Posted by davidt.ontour 17:33 Archived in Brazil Tagged rio Comments (0)

Putucusi

A Hike that is a little less known in Aguas Calientes. Deserves recognition.

sunny
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I am a go with the flow type of traveller, as are most of the people I have met during my 2 years! I arrived in Aguas Calientes with the intention of getting up early and hiking the famous Huayna Picchu. I had no ticket as planning is not my usual game plan, a little naïve i guess! I now give a warning to fellow travellers, book early to avoid disappointment! I must say I was a little disappointed!

Nevertheless I stumbled upon a hike that was free and was supposed to give great, if not better views of the famous Inca city of Macchu Picchu. From other reviews it looked a little risky and as I woke to showers early on Thursday morning, i was a little sceptical as to whether it would be safe. After breakfast the rain had stopped, the sky was a little clearer, I was game!

The trail head is just outside the village of Aguas, following the train tracks as if your journey carried on from Aguas Calientes when you arrived (not back the way you came) Literally as you leave the last built house and walk past a building site (at the time of writing) a set of stairs appears on your right, it is here where the Putucusi hike starts. WP_20131010_040_1_.jpg

It is rated as a difficult hike, the first part was relatively flat and easy, i found a 'sign in' book which made me feel even more safe. the ground was still a little wet by this point but the sun was making an appearance!

As you start to make the ascent and the trail gets a little steeper, the first of several ladders appears out of nowhere, a little cabin is situated at the bottom which has a 'be careful' inscription on its roof. I was certainly going to heed the warning and took it very easy up the ladder. I lost count of how many steps it was but definetly over 100. this was the biggest ladder of the hike. WP_20131010_015_1_.jpg

From there the climb takes you under the cover of tres with views of the river below, steps crafted by the rocks and 5 or 6 more ladders puts you about halfway, from there the trees leave you out in the open, The trail winds up for another 700 metres, quite steep in places but the views of Aguas Calientes and the surrounding mountains bathed in Green made the sweat and tiredness well worth it. 6DBAF1E72219AC6817B4BE5FEDF058C4.jpg

Finally I reached the Summit, it took around 1hr and a half, I took my time especially keeping an eye out for Macchu Picchu as I climbed to no avail. The best part was of course the top, not only because you knew you had made it but because it was the first time you see the Inka city and without trying to be cliché it was magic!

The marker at the top states 2,500 metres high but the altitude once you're up there didn't affect me too much. I had some well deserved sándwiches that I'd sneaked from breakfast and took some great pictures. At the top I met a girl and a guy and later a couple and a group of three made it to the top, in total i saw 11 people hiking this trail...compare that to the 400 people everyday on Huayna Picchu and it felt pretty nice to be in open space with noone crowding the view. IMG_5120.jpg

I am sure the views from Huayna Picchu are very spectacular but Putucusi definetly has some cracking views to offer as well as being free (money wise and people wise!) In terms of difficulty on a dry day I am sure anyone who can walk up steps for an hour would be able to tackle it, as long as time is taken. The second ladder you come to is the biggest and steepest so if you feel like trying the hike go and see this ladder and if you can handle it, you will have no problems..

I had an amazing day and feel compelled to tell all! P1150877.jpg

Posted by davidt.ontour 15:10 Archived in Peru Tagged views train from day great hike hot good out picchu aguas calientes altitude macchu memories huayna ladders putucusi 2500 metres ollantatytambo Comments (0)

Arequipa

2 days one night felt like just enough in this beautiful city.

sunny
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It took no less than 30hours to get from Trujillo all the way down the coast to Arequipa, the first bus was luxurious, reclining seats and personal tablets, unfortunately it arrived too late to catch my next bus and therefore I was put on one that meant I was waiting around for 8 hours. Finally the second bus departed but much to my disappointment there was no sign of personal screens or extra leg room. Instead there was Bingo and several films blaring out over the course of the journey!

I set off at 9pm on Thursday and finally arrived in on piece and quite in awe of the landscape at 7am on Saturday morning!

Decided I needed a walk to refresh myself as well as stretching my legs after the confinement of the bus. I skipped passed the hoards of taxi drivers and was away following my google maps to 'Friendly AQP hostel' I was determined to beat the estimated 55mins walking time, and even after a wrong turn I managed to navigate myself to the door in under 50, I call that a win.

Checked into a brand spanking new hostel, managed to speak relatively well with the Peruvian girl at reception and finally sat back and relaxed in my bed for a while. The room was empty apart from a German guy named Oliver, it had 8 beds (4bunks) each with its own personal curtain which was a nice touch.

We were soon joined in the room by a kiwi couple who had just arrived from Bolivia, I made sure I would pick their brains about where to go when I got the chance.

Oliver and I decided a tour that took us out of the city would be a good idea, before that though it was time to eat something, I was starving. On the recommendation of the receptionist we ventured to a place about half a kilometer away which served a 'menu' which is a set price for starter and main. We had an. Interesting seafood soup to start and then a meat and rice plate for the main.

We then scouted around for half an hour to see what prices we could find, in the end we settled for a four hour tour that cost twenty soles. We had an hour before it started so took some time to explore the plaza de Armas and surrounding churches which were all very beautiful. I also managed to change my 4dollars which I had had in my wallet since Lima a month ago!

2pm came around rather quickly and we scooted back to the tour agency who took us along with many other tourists (most Peruvian) to a bus that had definetly seen better days! Nevertheless we took our spots on the top deck and allowed Arequipa to wash over us.

The tour took us to some great places to get a Birdseye view of the city as well as stunning sights of the mountains that create a backdrop for Arequipa. We also stopped at a llama inspired museum where we saw how the wool is weaved into all sorts of garments and rugs...genuine llama wool products are expensive!

In the end the tour took a little over 5hours, we were exhausted and settled for a quick empanada (pasty) and cake dinner!

The kiwis were also tired from their day out exploring so we decided to relax with a couple of games of pool and tasting some of Oliver's fruit juice concoctions.

The next day I woke too late for the free breakfast! I did manage to charm my way into some bread rolls and tea which I took my time over in the garden of the hostel, sun beaming down and not a cloud in the sky, by 11am it was becoming one of the hottest days I had had in Peru.

My second and final day was spent wandering around the streets of the city, I had the intention of exploring the monastery of Santa Catalina but in the end just enjoying the pictures in the entrance was enough for me. It was Sunday so the many churches were dressed to impress, I managed to explore several around the area as well as crossing over the river to a church a little higher on the hillside.

The afternoon I was invited by two American girls to the chocolate factory, they had already been and this would be their second time, I felt like that was a good enough review to joins them.

The staff there were very friendly and welcoming, we settled in with a piece of chocolate cake which turned out to be too rich for me to finish...and some complimentary tea, made from the shells of cocoa beans. Very tasty. As we left the manager, with whom we'd spoken to quite a lot, gave us a free bag of these shells to make our own tea at home.

It really was a good end to the day, we returned to the hostel, I had intention of cooking the famous shakshuka that I've practiced a lot since the Israelis in Lima taught me. Unfortunately with my ambitious intention of walking back to the station I didn't have too much time so that idea was scrapped!

I did however manage to promote my Readaway project with the kiwi girl, we swapped books and I hope that starts the process of getting the word out there.

Arequipa is a quiet city, very beautiful and clean which was a nice step up from the dusty streets of Trujillo. Certainly would recommend the hostel, it is brand new and the staff are constantly helping you with any advice and cooking you lovely pancakes for breakfast.

http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/peru/arequipa/102100/reviews/

Posted by davidt.ontour 15:03 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Class is Terminado in Trujillo


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When you start to plan a route around Peru, Trujillo isn't one you would think of first, however when I started to create my South America itenerary I decided the best way to start was to combine Spanish learning and English teaching. So Trujillo became top of my list as I stumbled across a fantastic organisation based in the city centre.

Espaanglisch takes volunteers from all over the world and asks them to teach English to Children and Adults in several different schools.

My first week was memorable, I blogged a little then

Now I want to finish off the story of a very memorable time. I started off rather nervous at the thought of teaching alone but once I learnt the basics from Mary Beth (the excellent coordinator at espaanglisch) I soon fell into my element.

I am extremely sad to leave Trujillo, not because it is the prettiest place or the most historic or even the most fun, I am sad because I was part of a great team and felt needed in the schools and classes. As many teachers said goodbye today, one speech in particular sticks in my mind. 'Thank you very much for your time here David it has been great for the children to carry on their studies of English, more than that though it is the fact that you come here and show that you care and want to be part of their lives. That I am thankful for'

I truly loved going to school each day no matter if it was going to be a crazy day or not. Believe me some of the classes were a little hectic. On the flip side it was a great feeling when a concept like a verb or piece of vocab was grasped and you can see something click! Everyday I arrived to a whole host of hugs and smiling faces, it was very difficult to get any names memorized but it didn't matter as long I was there helping them to enjoy English!

Working in three different schools I could see the differences in level of care and discipline, the school funded primarily by charity work (Una Sondrisa Del Amor) and a School headed by a Religious man who believed in free education, were both very organised and ran very smoothly. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the other school ran by the state, teachers didn't seem to care as much. The kids however were just as cute and attentive.

My last day was not only a day of verbal thanks, I was given all sorts of presents and lovely cards, I didn't feel deserving of such love but it was a great feeling to see I had made an impression. One of the greatest presents was a diploma from the school to say I'd completed my 'Sondrisa' experience. Which I will keep safe and hopefully find a nice wall space for it.

Teaching adults on three evenings a week was another challenge, as the weeks went on my classes grew from one person (a girl who I had regular intercambio sessions with) (language exchanges) to a whole group. Every week I had to set out my topics and then create a one hour lesson plan for each, things like reflexive pronouns and past perfect are subjects I've not been familiar with, they are just things I use without knowing so I had to revise my own language a little as well.

All in all I must say teaching adults is a lot more difficult, you can't go into a classroom and be silly and fun for an hour, they are paying people and therefore expect a more serious approach. The kids on the other hand were an easier audience. One of the classes always started with a national anthem exchange! Another decided to take the concept of 'hes bananas' and turn it into my name being 'Banana' as I left that school, children were shouting 'Adios Banana'

Of course Trujillo was not just about the teaching, I managed to get to the beach every week at least once. Huanchaco is a lot more touristy and load of fun. Several sunsets were watched, papas eaten (a stuffed potato which has become my favorite Peruvian snack) ultimate Frisbee games and parties attended! I also rented surfboard for an afternoon but with the waves scarily huge and no instructor to guide I certainly struggled. It was however hilarious to some of the locals as they watched me get dumped time after time in the waves.

I managed to get a really touristy day in with 'colonial tours' it included a visit to two parts, in the afternoon the Chan Chan area built by Moche people,very interesting to see the hierarchy and traditions of these people at 4 different areas, the best of which was the actual city itself which spans over 20km. The morning was by far the best part. We toured the Huaca del sol y la Luna which is still being heavily excavated. Unbelievable Site. Firstly the museum that accompanies it is very modern and the picture of how some of the Moche graves were found, really puts things into perspective. The tour was equally impressive, getting to see how they built one layer then filled it in to make a second and so on. There is still so much to find, especially in the city that is built between the two temples and the sun temple itself has a lot of work left to uncover several layers of history. Felt special to be a site that isn't yet finished, it is a new experience for me, normally a historical place has been fully excavated and nothing more will be found.

Managed to enjoy a salsa lesson and put it into practice at a big club night, I didn't do badly in the class but out in the wild failed miserably! Got to sample many of the Peruvian dishes...papas need to get a second mention along with pastry snacks that were delicious. Cerviche is a fishy meal and although isn't my favourite, it was still very delicious and felt healthy! Took part in some local football games and a visit to the local swimming pool which cost all of 1sole (about 30pence) was invited to the annual spring parade http://dtoddinsoutham.travellerspoint.com/4/
and of course sampled the amazing transport system, consisting of crazy combi rides, taxis with 8 people crowding a four seater and the ironically named micros which were huge and equally manic. Road in Peru seem to have one rule and that is you have to accept at every turn someone is going to pull out in front you and in turn you have every right to cut people off if it gets you to the destination faster. So many potential crashes and yet I saw only one in 1month (certainly better than Perth!)

I must give a special mention to Estelle and Jennifer, two Volunteers who stayed around the same time as me, really enjoyed their company as well as constant accent teasing. It was great to have them there as I didn't feel like the only new person in the ranks. We certainly had a lot of fun.

David and Carmen residents and owners of the house were always on hand for quick Spanish tips and hint to keep us safe and well, David( the manager of Espaanglisch) is one of the most social and happy people I've ever met. His English, Spanish, French are so close to perfect he almost fluent.

MaryBeth also needs to be mentioned, fantastic coordinator and organiser. Her job title could also be translator, tour guide, restaurant selector, fun creator! Many others! I can't sing her praises enough. There was a day where we took the girls from next door aged 6 and 8 to the beach. It will be one memory I will hold very close. The girls loved it and so did we, it appeared they hadn't managed to get to the beach often so the experience was a bit of a novelty. I felt like a parent watching my children. Loved every minute.

The teaching was a test to see how I would fair in front of 30 or even 40kids, from what people have said I didn't do badly which makes me feel confident if I pursued a career in the childcare/education sectors!

Trujillo in general Is not the prettiest of cities but it was extremely friendly and welcoming to 'gringos' very fond memories of my time spent there and as I say sad to leave.

Gracias a todos y voy a regressar!

Posted by davidt.ontour 19:04 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Welcome to Spring Trujillo!

A massive celebration in the city finished off the week with a huge Parade.

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The final day of my final weekend in Trujillo, Sunday 29th September. Feeling a little worse for ware after my sendoff ceremony ‘despedida’ the evening before, I nearly said no when Mary-Beth (the American Coordinator here at Espaanglisch) asked if I wanted to be part of a Parade.

I had seen a couple of news articles and flyers that announced the start of spring in Trujillo and the weeklong celebration which crescendoed in a parade. I felt I owed it to Trujillo to join and show my support! I certainly didn’t need to worry about making up the numbers, every corner of the huge parade course was covered with three or four layers of people, Peruvians, South Americans and People from around the world attend this massive party every year and Sunday was no exception.

I was already enjoying myself as Mary Beth and I arrived at her place of work, an English school in the heart of Trujillo, they had a big float taking part in the parade and needed some token natives to create more attention for their school. By this point I was happy to oblige. When we reached the float, I was even more willing! During my time here it seemed a bit of a sad place with minimal opportunity and huge divides between the wealthy and not so well off. On Sunday it felt like all this had disappeared, the amount of effort that had been put into this spectacle was unbelievable, not a sad face in sight, surrounded by flowers, decorations, costumes and colours, I was awestruck.

Awesome.

Floats for national brands like bottled water, toilet paper, public transport and media outlets were joined by more local establishments. Everyone had gone to great lengths to show off, even the Police of Trujillo had a float, as well as masses of dancers, performers and models all joined in the display.
Before we started I was asked several times to take pictures with families, children and adults alike, I felt a little like a local celebrity, ‘token gringo’ I can get used to the title! My head and ego may have doubled in those moments (If that is possible)

Our float was a tribute to Queen (the band) and all things British, made me miss home a little, It had a huge white lion at the front, big pictures of a Guard and a red telephone box, Two of the students of the school were dressed in full queen attire and were accompanied by blasting Queen anthems. The float was completed with ‘Miss Teen Peru’ standing centre stage.

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As we started the Parade I was very proud to walk for the company, everyone was fantastic at speaking English and getting to know what I was about, as well as telling me what was going on with them and the English school. Mary Beth and I were at the front, holding a banner, followed by the teaching staff and then a forklift, pulling the ‘we will rock you tour bus’

Big headed and proud I stayed in that spot all parade and welcomed all the high fives, waves and the odd wolf whistle. Some people tried out some English lines to which I replied in my poshest English accent. Others were more than happy to exclaim ‘GRINGO!’ which is fine by me. Any attention is good attention!
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All in all it was a fantastic day; got to do a little bit of dancing as well as a sing-a-long we will rock you when the parade slowed. Loved every minute of it, thinking back to earlier in the day, in bed and hesitating about whether I should go or not, I am extremely glad I did. I know what a Parade is but this was beyond all my expectations.

It wasn’t on my bucket list, but it should’ve been!

Good work Trujillo!
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Posted by davidt.ontour 14:47 Archived in Peru Tagged peru colour life amazing float parade bucket trujillo list primaverra Comments (0)

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