Thursday, October 22, 2009

Border Patrol

Hola my people. Hope this blog finds you all happy & healthy. As always, I have had quite a few adventures since the last blog. I made my way back up to Northern Peru where I left my car and had one big task to handle before heading south again. That dreadful task was to cross the border into Ecuador and (hopefully) renew my temporary car permission into Peru. Why? because with my upcoming plans it was necessary to have more time. So I got back to my temporary home in Lobitos and hit the road up north for Mancora. My friend in Lobitos was also in need of a renewed passport stamp so she came along & then also a new friend I made from Austria decided she would come up to Mancora and meet up with me as well. She had plans to go into Ecuador. SO the 3 of us spent a night in Mancora and then decided to make our way to the lonely planet labeled ¨worst border in south america´and why not show up mid day on a Saturday right? So first thing that happens is the road forks and I follow the motorcycle in front of me which stays to the left and leads me directly into oncoming traffic which was fun. Crisis averted and find a cut across the dirt to my side and continue on. THe girls have no clue what its like doing this in a car rather than on the bus. Next we arrive to the border and its absolute madness, with millions of people all trying to get my attention, markets and people walking everywhere making it hard to pass. We manage to get out of Peru, ourselves, but some guy hassling me about my car in street clothes I chose to ignore and continue on. THen I make it to Ecuador side, enter the country, exit the country and chose not to enter my car technically. So as we leave, the road has a median wall and I realize I cant drive forward because my car and us are actually not in the country. So what do I do, I see a gap a hundreds back and reverse outta ecuador and flip a u turn. Ofcourse with oncoming cars honking the entire time. Good fun. Now I cross the bridge, stop by aduanas which is who does the car things and they are furious at me. They start accusing me of being a drug trafficker and say I have already crossed into ecuador before they could look at my car and now I´m ¨frito´(fried). Over the course of the next 45 mins I am told I am frito over and over and that I am not allowed back in peru and that everyone is always innocent etc etc. Power trip for the customs agent. The girls are forced outside, I get the pleasure of arguiing inside for a very long time. Many words exchange, much discussion about the drugs i have left n Ecuador and somehow I manage to get the guy to relax and believe me...that and 10 soles helped as well which is like 3 dollars. FINALLY, after some worrying on my side that I wasnt getting my car back into Peru, they finally let me reenter. It was quite a nightmare but in the end I guess its all part of the experience. So we returned for anther night in the touristy twn of Mancora and then my austrian friend Andrea and I hopped a bus for Lima....a 17hour bus ride. Yea, I left my car in Lobitos again. We got to Lima and took another bus south to Hauncachina so I could get into some snowboarding. This very small town is surrounded by massive dunes so I spent the day today climbing up, which is extremely hard, and getting some time riding down. It was a bit like snowboarding and really fun. Tomorrow I hit some local wineries & then part ways with my travel partner to head back up to Lima to meet up with my next partner, MY MOM! Exciting. She gets in tomorrow night and then we are flying up to Cusco to acclimatize and get ready for our mountain bike and treking to arrive to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. good fun! I have gotta run. Hope all is well on the homefront. Saludos!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Solitude in the mountains

Hola people who still read this. This blog has been going on so long that it seems like I shouldn't keep writing, it's almost like this isn't a 'trip' anymore but just my life. So I made my way up to Huaraz here in Peru which is up in the mountains in a range of mountains called the Cordillera Blanca. This area is home to some amazing treking and there are loads of crazy people doing long mountaineering excursions on the glaciers and massively high peaks. I, on the other hand, did not want to mountaineer but went up there to give some rock climbing a go. So I arrived and the first day I went on a couple hour hike and ended up running into the strangest fiesta in the hills outside of town. There were guys in crazy masks, a band, local indian people and everyone was dancing. The guys in the masks were drunk, being crazy and it was like some alien world for me. They, of course, looked at me like an alien & I drew some attention from the drunken masked guys who came over to try to talk to me and....ask me for money! I took some photos & video and then the rain came so I bailed. The next day I finally got to go out & rock climb. It was my first time doing this and it was challenging & fun. I really like how you have to use your brain to figure out your route. I really want to do more of it. That night I met some more travelers in my hostal and one girl had signed up for a trek so I ended up signing onto the same one as it coincided perfectly with my travel plans. We would squeeze a 4 day trek into 3 days and get back to town hours before my overnight bus was leaving. So the next morning we were picked up at 6am and off on a few hour bus ride into the mountains to begin. I wasn't really prepared to go treking, I don't qiute have the gear but I figured I'd be okay. It turned out to be me & 3 girls on the trek together - one from Austria, one from England & one from the USA. We spent 3 days treking somewhere around 45 kilometers up to a glacier (first time for me) and even heard loud booming cracks until a slight avalanche came down. The scenery was amazing, especially as we got to the top at 4700 meters. Sweeping views of massive snow peaks and amazing remote solitude. Our group had fun making up games and Andrea, from Austria, kept with me the entire time so we pushed each other to make it through the tough climbs throughout the day. We had a 430 am start yesterday and hiked to our highest point & then down for hours on end only to end the 8 hour day with a steep hour long climb. Then our transportation never showed up so we had to take a local bus. I already had my bus ticket to travel overnight and time was really close. I was worried I wasn't going to get home to shower before leaving, which I desperately needed but those worries subsided quickly as I looked over the cliffside to my imminent death thru each hairpin on this crazy bus. We stopped for a bathroom break on the bus, me & 20 local men & women jumped out and claimed our territory in a funny fashion. We got back to Hauraz with just enough time to take a freezing cold shower & jump on the overnight bus. Now I am in Trujillo on my way back up north to my car. From there my plans continue to be tight for a change, no more just cruising at the moment. My mom comes in a week, i have to pass the border to hopefully obtain a new permission for my car & then head 20 hours south towards Lima. I hope everyone is healthy & happy. Salud

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Change of pace

Hola buen dia! So as always a bunch of time has passed since the last blog. One reason for this is I've been staying in a place that has no electricity or water, much less internet access. So I left Lima on my last blog and I decided to head up north towards Lobitos/Mancora area. This particular area I missed on my way down and the family I met in Lima said I could stay in their house up there and there are supposed to be good waves. So I drove and drove and drove and got stopped by police after police all telling me I needed something and trying to get money. I did spent a few days in various towns & even spent a day hiking to some old pyramids which was pretty cool (well really HOT actually). Eventually I landed in Los Organos where this amazing house they own is and all I had to pay was for water to be brought & electricity. The only problem with this spot was there weren't any waves nor people so I would be hanging out in this lovely tahitian style house with a nice view solo and no surf nearby. So I spent one night there and decided to drive 30 mins north to Lobitos to check the surf. This area is really small and remote, all dirt roads leading to who knows where but I managed to navigate my way there. As soon as I drove into 'town' I drove right past a friend I had made 7 months earlier in Nicaragua. She was riding her bike & I passed her and we both couldn't believe it. Anyways she works for this local voluntoursim organization that works with local kids teaching them life skills, surf & water safety and English. I decided to rent a room in her shared house and stick around for a few days to see what this town was like. The surf in Lobitos is pretty epic really, though the local crowds don't use the world wide known surf "rules" in the water so the lack of respect is something you do have to adjust to. I wasn't really that excited about fighting for waves, I had been solo for a long time and getting aggressive for cold lefts wasn't really in my motivation. So I decided to dedicate my time to a new project that was starting up with my friends Organization. They were just beginning, the day after I arrived, to build a surf shack for the kids. One of the volunteers is an architect so he drew up some plans and they had already bought materials. Being that I could help in translating, as the lead architect has limited spanish, and I could be a helping hand I decided to help out on a daily basis. A lot of manual labor involved, digging holes, carrying cana, carrying rocks and carrying more rocks, sawing, hammering, etc. One day we hired a mule for 50 soles to do 6 trips to this spot we found nice large pieces of rock to be our floor. We found relentless winds on a daily basis and found it really difficult to work with kids in a foreign language when in reality you need skilled labor to build a shack that isn't going to fall over. And the kids weren't that exciting about collecting stones, the one thing they could do. They want to saw, hammer, paint and do all things they can destroy :) Beyond the project the house I have been staying in is very basic....VERY basic. There is no electricity which is alright but there is also a water problem in Lobitos. Meaning they have a busted pipe and water shows up twice a week in a truck to fill up tanks. So for our house one of my chores is to go into a tank in the backyard with buckets to fill and then transfer that into a trashcan inside our bathroom for "showers" and into the kitchen to wash dishes. The "shower" consists of a hanging plastic water bottle with holes on the bottom to act as a you pour water into the bottle and it drizzles out for 30 seconds at best. Challenging at times but for 4 dollars a night and a few of the point from the front porch, it's not that bad. It's been really nice for me to sit still, not spend money on gas or get hassled by police and do something with some meaning with the community. I've been invited into families houses for ceviche and rice and more rice. So after a week or so of working and surfing on the daily, I decided to pick up and go do something away from the beach and away from my car. One thing I learned upon arriving into South America is that it is a HUGE continent and I can't just drift aimlessly like I did in Central Am. I spent 7 months drifting planless through central america so if you look at that size in comparison to South America, I would be drifting for years. I mean, Brazil is basically the size of Australia. So with the LOOooong drives, expensive gas in Peru and wanting a different experience I ditched the car in Lobitos and took an overnight bus to Trujillo which is where I am right now. I'm headed up to Hauraz in the mountains which is supposed to have amazing rock climbing action, something I've always wanted to try. So this bus/back packer thing is totally new to me & is already bringing on a completely different experience to traveling. SO I am off now, with my heavy packs to go do some site seeing and going on my first 'tour' on this entire trip to pass time until I have another overnight bus to the Cordillera Blanca region! I have some other exciting plans coming in the near future as well but I'll wait for them to pass and blog about them. Hope everyone is doing well!!!