A Travellerspoint blog

La Paz - Rurrenbenque - Santa Rosa - The Amazon!

The 3 day Jungle Trek

semi-overcast 19 °F

OMG I have just come back from an evening cruising in a motor boat alongside the swaps of the Amazon looking out for caimans, alligators and Anacondas! An 18hr rocky unstable bus journey from La Paz we had arrived in Rurrenbeque at 6am. We managed to get on a 3day Pumpas jungle tour. After a quick breakfast we were back on the road for another 3hrs to Santa Rosa here we had lunch and then made our way to the motor boast – nothing special just plain boats made our of wood. We took a nice long boat trip during the afternoon alongside the swaps where I saw my 1st Pink dolphin, I also a range of bird such as hawks, eagles and a Toucan not forgetting the cute little monkeys. We finally made it to our hostel – which are wooden rooms balanced on silts. I was welcomed by a little frog whilst I was on the toilet lol and the showers are perfect – cold as the heat here is so hot and muggy! I got to see the sun set from our hostel which you can imagine just looked out of this world – I’m in the Amazon baby and watching the sun set! After dinner we headed off for a night watch looking out for those alligators, caimans and other cold blooded animals. The 1st thing that caught my eye was the amount of stars that were brightly lit up, millions of them – they had clearly formed a milky way and apparently the brightest star was Venus! You could hear all sorts of weird and scary noises and in the distant I could see these red round circles just glistening against the waters – I got to see my 1st caiman! The boat engine switched off at random times and all you could see (with a spot light) were mirror like reflections of the surrounding settings – the trees and in the distant you could see the entire sky being lit up by lightning! An amazing evening I can not wait for tomorrow!

Posted by jasdeep_virdee 11:58 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Back to La Paz, Bolivia

semi-overcast 20 °F

Back to Copacabana and looking for our 4hrs or so transport to La Paz. The travellers that I had met going opposite direction to me all told me ‘Good luck with the roads in Bolivia’ and laughed, so I had an idea that they were not going to be great…and they were not lying! Unpaved, rocky, bumpy and the edges of the roads were life threatening! With a population of over 1.5million and a staggering altitude of 3,660m it took me time to fall in love with this city. At 1st you are hit with buildings that cling to the sides of the canyon that spill downwards to the centre. A typical city with loads of commuters, transport, high rise buildings and the amount of people is crazy! Here the local women sport their long plated hair with the smallest bowler hats that literally just sit on their heads, who sell everything from dried llama foetuses (for good karma) to designer shoes. This city does need time for anyone to adjust because at 1st trust me you would prob hate it but because the city is so diverse you would find that each street is different from the other – they tend to have streets that have shops that sell the same things ie pet shops which I found very weird but then again at least you would not need to go and look for bargains! Michael friend (Joey) who lives in La Paz actually took us to the black market to pick up a few bits and pieces which were well cheap he also showed us around the other parts of La Paz. Miraflores seemed to be the more family orientated side and Sopocachi for me seemed to have that posher side to it.

After a killing, back breaking 18hrs bus journey we finally reach La Paz earlier than expected and glad that we reserved our 2nights as well. Dusted off our bags which accumulated so much dust we got in to a cab. So weird being back in the city and the weather was a dramatic change from being very hot but nice with a slight breeze to seeing snow and freezing cold temperatures!
These two days I really got to se more of La Paz and each day I am finding something new. Me and Michael had linked up with his local Boliviano friend who showed us around the black markets etc had Api and all. He had told us about that we are n the middle of this 2week festival where the locals go and purchase small figurines that represent materialistic things that they would like. Once purchased they would go to a witch doctor who would bless the figurines and they would become fortunate to receive them within this year – bizarre! I saw this middle aged women buying a small bride and groom statue with a matrimonial form – hoping that her daughter/son will marry this year lol OMG its crazy!

I have now stayed in La Paz on and off and I can truly understand now why people fall in love with this city. A few days is not enough – in a nut shell La Paz is one big ‘market’ – every corner that you turn you will no doubt will see some sort of stand set up selling all sorts. The funny or shall I say the weird thing is that people tend to sell next to their competitors. So like today I walked along a road that was purely dedicated to pets, the next street was all to do with electronics etc.

A few obsessions here in La Paz are Saltenas which are like Cornish pastries you can Veg version as well as meat and they are filled with juices – they taste alright. A lot people tend to snack on these bad boys during the day but mostly at around 10am or like 17pm.
The one thing that I am crazy about is called Api. It basically is a sweet-corn drink that is served hot with sweet pastries or saltenas but I like it on its own.

La Paz is a modern city that still has traditionally dressed women running the streets which is so cool. There is also this renowned working prison ‘San Pedro’ in the heart of the city – I went along it and really wanted to take a few pictures but obviously I was not allowed. This prison was open for tourist but I don’t know for how long but they have stopped this because some how rumour has it that a girl tourist was raped there…ewww. I get go passed the notorious San Pedro prison and I was lucky to get a peek through the gates, as women were about to visit their loved ones. It was crazy though coz the prison is smack bang in the middle of the town and in front of it is a plaza where all the public where chilling having ice-cream going on their daily lives! It was in fact when I entered Bolivia that

The weather here so far has been really hot during the day and extremely cold in the evenings. And you can def see/point out who are the ‘Gringos’ coz they are all obsessed with Alpaca clothing and like to wear everything together even though the colours clash as hell.

Posted by jasdeep_virdee 11:55 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Hucacachina 2011=2012 New Years

Lagoon Desert

sunny 35 °F

Weird being back on the road again but hey its approaching New Year what to do…I just wanted to do something different rather hit a bar/club – I could do that back at home. So I decided to go to Hucacachina…surrounded by mountainous sand dunes that looked HUGE which rolled into town over the picturesque lagoon making the scene so tranquil set against with palm trees and not forgetting the hot weather we were experiencing!

I remember at 2am I decided to climb up the sand dunes with my glass of vino admiring all the partying that was underway in the town itself –amazing! On new years day me and Michael had walked up to the highest sand dune sight for our first sun-set of the new years – just a crazy view and running down the dunes was mind-blowing! There is not much to do here in Hucacachina apart from sand-boarding so after new years we headed off to our next destination.

Posted by jasdeep_virdee 11:51 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Pisco Xmas Volunteering

Pisco Sin Fronteras 2011

sunny 30 °F

After being on the road for 3 months I felt that I needed something to keep me occupied or get involved so I decided to volunteer. In Quito I had met Kate who had told me about a volunteering group based in Pisco called ‘Pisco Sin Fronteras’ where she spent 2weeks and loved it.
Eighty percent of Pisco was destroyed in an earthquake reaching 8.0 back in 2007 leaving many buildings destroyed or still left unattended!
I did get a tour of Pisco when I joined and I was shocked to see that the town still looked untouched from the wreckage 4years ago! Some of the roads you could still see where the roads had split, reconstruction has been very slow as the government has not put enough money back in to the town.

Two weeks was certainly not enough time to get my teeth in a ‘start to finish’ project but I was grateful to be back at working mode! There were several projects from rebuilding communal areas ie parks etc, working alongside children’s and the most common and hard to get involved was rebuilding houses for the families who had lost their homes. I spent most of my time in FMB (Frames of Modular Boards) which was the heart station for constructing the frames for a completed home. So we would go and collect wooden pallets as loads of them once back in the workshop there would be 4 diff station; 1. Carefully breaking up the frames in to singular planks. 2. De-nailing the planks and cutting to specific size. 3. Constructing the frames. It all sounds kind of easy of but when you have 35deg of blazing sun with no cover it will hit you! In my second week nearer to the end I did help out a couple who were rebuilding a communal area for a local community – it was amazing we had built a gazebo and benches from bamboo sticks. (I didn’t get to see the finishing result but I did see the plans and they looked great!) The community got involved and it was so much fun even the little kids were helping out! For lunch time we were invited to have lunch with a family and the gran – amazing food and heaps of it!

Apart from the volunteering itself, the living conditions were not all that seriously – not good! By the 2nd week a majority were diagnosed with typhoid and other sickness thank god that I did not get anything. There were about 70 volunteers at the beginning by the second week (closer to xmas) we were about 45. We all had to participate in 4 diff house chores including preparing dinner. I enjoyed a few nights out but they turned out to be messy (as most of the volunteers were very young!) and love to get shit faced and make out in the toilets!
Anyways celebrating xmas for the 1st time away from home was weird! It was hot at first, like really hot but we all participated in secret santa which was nice and I helped prepare xmas dinner – which was not ur typical meat and veg! Overall I had a great time just being around with loads of people!

Nearer to the end of my journey I was lucky to actually see what working at FMB had created! There was a project called ‘Macedonia House’, it was a home that was built using the panels that I had made in FMB for a family of 8 children! We were invited for a dinner with the family – there way of saying thanks and as it was xmas we brought along some present for the girls and boys! Just the look on their faces it was unforgettable and I was at this point that I got all chicken skin!

Posted by jasdeep_virdee 11:49 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Off to Peru

all seasons in one day 25 °F

We had passed through a handful of small towns after leaving the boarder crossing from Ecuador to Peru. The boarder crossing it was a funny one; well it was certainly not your average procedure! We had the ‘officer’ or a sweaty guy running across the road from the gym to the Ecuadorian immigration office lol! Once we saw him he told us that we had to go to the police station to get a further stamp. We faced with a very young ‘officer’ dressed in a football top and shorts watching some local football team with his bear feet resting on the desk lol! Huanchaco – this little beach town was cute not much to do here though but great just to recuperate…yes I said recuperate. Backpacking is not easy – all the long distance bus journey’s that are like a min of 10hrs here and there and not forgetting the packing and unpacking does take it out of you! So just a couple of days here saw another amazing sunset with surfers riding ridiculous waves – beautiful!

23 hours away from Lima, Chachapoyas was one of stops along the way – it is the capital of the Amazonas department but it s surrounded by loads of mountains rather than jungle lol. We went to explore Kuelap, ruins of pre-inca city…our tour guide cracked me up as he was half cut and stunk of Vodka (I would have been pissed if I had to pay him for that day). A long day but really cool scenery! In the evening for dinner Michael had ordered some kind of a soup that was made with milk, sweetcorn and MEAT! Minging but apparently it tasted great…eek!

Huaraz (7hr away from Lima) – Huaraz is a place which is really good for hikes. The town itself is not that pretty to look at but we stayed here for a few days as we hiked up to Lake Chirup and we also went to see some Glaciers all in the Cordillera Blanca region.
Lake Chirup was an amazing trek it took nearly a whole day – so it was me, Michael, Marc and our French sailors! As it was raining we were faced with a few life and death situations. We had to climb up several wet rocks with an aid of a single rope but I was glad to have 4 strapping lads to help me yay! But when we reached to the lake it was worth the while! I was faced with an aquaria-green blue lagoon that just looked blissful. In the background I could see white topped mountains with a streak of light peering through. We had a chilled here for about an hour while we had made our tomato, avocado sandwiches with a help of an army swiss knife.
The Glaciers here in Huaraz were absolutely crazy! Again this trip involved a lot of walking but at the end it was all worth it. The whole day was a bit dull and gloomy but the landscape around me was crazy! I was lucky to see the extraordinary giant Puya raimondii plant which can take up to 100yrs to grow! It was hot at times but then you would hit a very cold breeze. In the background I was greeted with high high snow Peak Mountains, the odd donkey in the distant. Once arrived near the Glaciers (even though there were a lot of groups) you could seriously hear a pin drop it was that quiet! My eyes were faced with whiter than white and ice cold blues everywhere!

Finally we made it to Lima, a city where a lot of people had negative reviews about esp about crime rate but I had no problems here. I did however prefer Miraflores - it was such a beautiful place where I could seriously see myself living here! Very clean, green and modern! The shopping mall was crazy as it overlooked the pacific, open top and just to make extra cozy they had a massive Christmas tree and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. There was not ‘much’ activities to do here apart from chilling, hitting a few bars and shopping. I did go to an open band night which was nice!

Posted by jasdeep_virdee 11:46 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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