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Sunday, 27 July 2008

Missing our Mummys

After our flight over the Nazca lines we went to Chauchilla cemetry where there are 2000 year old mummies that the dry salty desert has preserved. Besides the 20 or so whole bodies in the graves the surrounding sand is covered in hundreds of human bones and shreds of woven cotton cloth. We were just amazed at the wonderful condition they were in after twenty centuries.





Next stop on our journey was Huacachina, a desert oasis famous for its sand-boarding, like snow boarding but on sand. We were taken in a nine person dune buggy thrill ride up and down to dunes, then let out at the top of several steep slopes to strap a board on our feet and fly down the hill. The first surprise was when you fell it was hot sand instead of icy snow in your face. I (Dave) fell hard on my final run and its still painful to sit down 4 days later! It was easier to get going then snow, but harder to control your speed.



Following the road north toward Lima we stopped off in the town of Pisco (home of Peru´s national drink - Pisco Sours). On the 15th August last year there was an 8.0 earthquake in Pisco that destroyed 85% of the town. We had been advised not to go because it is in bits but we were glad we did. It was interesting to see them gradually rebuilding almost a year later, and we hope that the money we spent there will help towards their reconstruction.
From Pisco we did a day trip out on a boat around the Ballestas islands, which are completely covered with several species of birds, so much so that they harvest the guano annually for use as fertiliser. The boat trip was alright but the highlight was feeding crowds of hungry pelicans on the beach.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Llama llama theres a llama!!!



Click here for title explanation...



16 hours on a bus later we arrived at this!

Hard to describe the sheer size and power of the falls but the lonely planet does a good job when it says "Niagra falls is a ripple in comparison to Iguazu". We viewed them from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. The former gives a good overview but its on the Argentine side that we got a close up view. Went on jetboat ride that took us under the spray and it was like buckets of cold water being dumped on our heads - great fun! Falls were spectacular and the visit was topped off by thousands of butterflies, sunbathing lizards and dinner stealing coaties (raccoon things). They actually climb on tables and try to steal your lunch. Another highlight was the first taste of Argentine steak and locally produced inexpensive red wine.



Next stop was Lima, Peru (where we had to buy a new camera despite the nice Sao Paulo lady's many attempts to fix it). Stayed in the pleasant suburb of Miraflores (Limas equivalent to Rathgar/Malahide) and took a day trip to the old Inca pyramids and temples of Pachacamac. Despite encouraging guidebook reviews it was relatively unimpressive... Lumps of bricks in the desert and mangy bald dogs wandering around the place.



The best part of the day was getting there on the Peruvian local buses. Converted Hi-ace vans driven at breakneck speed, swerving in and out of the traffic with the conductor hanging out the side door and dragging unsuspecting customers into the bus "Hey hey... get in get in". We were never sure if the bus was going in the right direction, the conductors main mission seemed to be to get as many punters in the van as possible without worrying where they want to go. We made it anyway!



We´re now in Nazca, home of the famous lines. Took a 35 minute plane ride over the desert today to see them which was really worthwhile. Its totally fascinating to think that they´re around 2000 years old and still in such great condition. Tomorrow we go on a tour of the Nazca grave sites - 2000 year old mummies sitting out in the desert that still have their hair and clothes intact. Attempted to visit the museum but only found a pile of rubble. Such is life in Peru.
Donde esta?

Thats all folks :) We´ll leave you with some interesting images you might not see at home.


xoxo Sian & Dave


p.s. Added images to the last post as well

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

You have 15 minutes to remove your cube

Farewell to Rio and onwards down the coast! Visited a small town in the north called Ouro Preto which at one stage was Brazil´s main exporter of gold. According to their museum they funded most of the industrial revolution in Europe. The locals dug it up (as slaves) and then the Portugese took it all. Their main attraction is 9 churches, all richly decorated with wooden carvings, gold leaf and scary life size bleeding Jesus statues. All set among charming cobbled streets and VERY steep hills. "Training for Machu Picchu" we muttered while dragging ourselves up them. Unfortunately we had to leave on their gay pride day or "party for the homosexuals" as we were told by the tourist office so we missed the big evening festival.


From there back to Rio for a day where we went to see the iconic 'Christo Redemptor'. The day was clear and sunny, we could see for miles and so could the other thousands of people who decided to make the most of the day. it took hours of queuing to get up and down but was definitely worthwhile. Sadly our camera died enroute and not even rubbing it off Jesus' feet would fix it. Took some pics with our memory card in other peoples cameras but its not quite the same. Thankfully a nice lady in Sao Paulo canon shop fixed it for free yesterday. "The lens is full of sand...you must stay away from the beach". Unlikely!


Then we moved on to Ihla Grande, went for 2 days and stayed for a week. It was a beautiful tropical island with cheap accomodation and a big gang of Irish to enjoy it with. Met Jessica & John (old school friends of Sian) which was great craic. Got barred from the pub on the first night although nobody is sure why... Much lying on the beach (Lopes Mendes is rated as one of the worlds top beaches), small amounts of walking in the jungle and we saw a sea turtle while swimming :)


We also experienced fine dining Brazilian style. Ordered fish, chicken and salad. 5 minutes later the waiter returns, "Im sorry we have no chicken". Alright... 3 fish and a salad. 5 minutes later "Im sorry, we only have 2 portions of fish left. And no salad. You can have beef and chips", beef and chips it is then! But what can you expect for 3 euro each...


When we finally dragged ourselves away from the island we couldn't get a bus to Sao Paulo and got stuck in Paraty for a night. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it 's another lovely colonial town with cobbled streets and an old town centre (horses and carts still in everyday use as cars are forbidden in the old town centre). We also caught the tail end of an international literary festival which was very lively and enjoyable.

Which brings us to the here and now. In Sao Paulo, waiting for the 16 hour night bus that will bring us to Iguazu falls.

Love to all :)

S & D