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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Hola South America!

So thats where we are now. Arrived into Chile and spent 5 jet-lagged days drinking and sleeping. It's great to be in hostels after all that van time and a really easy way to meet new amigos. Santiago is a perfect city to arrive into, very Spanish/European feel (with prices to match) and the streets are safe to walk even after dark.

Visited ther Mary sanctuary on a hill overlookng the city and also went snowboarding with a gang of ex US army guys, they were just back from Afghanistan so it was interesting to hear some of their stories. I (Sian) didnt take to the snowboard quite as easily as on the indoor slope and invented a new sport called culoboarding (culo is spanish for arse). Basically just sat in between the bindings of the snowboard and slid down the hill filling my face/back/legs with the foot of powder snow that fell that day. Dave was better on the board but he still feels the pain almost a week later!

Then onto Rio de Janeiro where we are at the moment. Filled with terror after reading our guidebook we scuttled from the airport ATM into the toilet and secreted money in various safe places... Its been 3 days now and starting to feel safe again as no muggings yet (famous last words).

"If you have the misfortune of being robbed, hand over the goods. Thieves are only too willing to use their weapons if given provocation." - Lonely Planet

Rio city is actually quite nice once you get into it. Easy to get around on the metro and almost every bus passes through the central part of town and gives a good cheap tour! The highlight so far was a trip by cable car up the Pao de A├žucar "Sugarloaf", a 400m granite lump beside the sea. We went up in the evening and got some amazing scenes of the city by night.

We've spent most of our days just walking around the city and taking in the sights. Visited the Campa de Santana today where Brazilian leaders declared independance from Portugal. Its filled with herds(?) of cats, geese and capybara living in ecological harmony together. They all seem very healthy and well fed, maybe they eat each other...?

Sunday, 15 June 2008

If I said you had a nice body would you take off your pants and dance around a little?

Tomorrow we head for the future. Leaving Auckland on Monday at 5pm and arriving in Santiago on Monday at noon...or is that the past?

Spending a relaxing few days being looked after by cousins Brian and Lynn before we go and have been to see around Auckland city and a few other places - Stardome and snowboarding. Snowboarding was brilliant, really fast learning curve and by the afternoon both of us were going down the whole baby slope with minimal falling over!


Before this we had been doing more mad driving. Met a guy in a bar who drove us down to the match in Wellington, had a great weekend despite the deluge of rain with a big gang of Irish from our hostel.

The next day we dragged ourselves onto the bus for the return journey north (bus stopped so we could play in the snow), visited some more volcanic hot spring stuff at the 'Craters of the Moon' and then went to Hot Water Beach. Dave dug us a big hole in the sand and then we sat in steaming water watching the sunset and the stars come out. Followed up with a cold outdoor shower - an interesting thing to do in winter!

Returned our hire car with no problems... We had a little crash into the back of a van. Van undamaged but we broke the front grille of our car and a little black box fell out from underneath. Car still running fine so we didn't do anything about black box. Hasty attempts to glue car back together failed so we went to a scrap yard, picked up a new grille and bent the fender back into place with a hammer. Put black box in the bin. Perfect!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Hot spots and Hangis

Done a big loop since we last posted. North to Rotorua where we caught up with some old friends and got pampered by Judy (the mother of an old family friend). She even did our laundry! Went bathing in 2 types of hot springs, the first was outdoors where a natural spring met with a freezing river (imagine a hot river Dodder flowing into the Boyne). Was really interesting as you could have your legs in the cold and your bum in the warm spot.
Then we tried the deluxe version, $50 for a half hour in a private pool, surrounded by boulders with a view of sunset and flying birds over lake Rotarua - it was fabulous. Sadly we forgot the camera!

Then we did our usual round of adventure stuff with Zorbing (thats us in the big ball rolling down a hill), Go Karting (Sian's fastest time narrowly beat Dave's slowest), Swooping (chickens bungy jump - they put you in a sleeping bag, drag you up 40m by the legs and then you swing down), Luge riding (gravity powered low sized go kart) and Kayaking for Dave (he did a 7m waterfall on the Kaituna)

Then we went to a Maori cultural night where Chief Dave was elected to lead his people (50 or so tourists) through the greeting ritual - mad warriors chanting/shouting and spear throwing. He then accepted the peace token, gave a speech to the Maori chief and unveiled the Hangi feast! The Hangi was a mix of lamb, chicken and sweet potatoes slow cooked the traditional way underground in a steam vent - delicious :)

The big chief

Lamb, chicken, taters & sweet taters

Ciao for now xoxo Sianny moo & Dave-o

don't mess with the dave