Friday, 30 November 2012

Salad Roulette

When I first met Robin he was horrified to hear that I had been eating raw fruit and vegetables, doubtful they had been washed with pure aqua minerale rather than bacteria based local tap water.

But starting with some sliced avocado he joined me in adventuring through the salad menu. We exchanged worried looks each time we tucked in:

Will it be our breakfast fruit?

Will it be the mango we bought from the market and ate with unwashed hands after a day hiking using toilets with no liquid soap?

Will it be the lettuce, the hotel for some reason added to my cheese sandwich?

I promise to keep you updated as to when the gun goes off, but for now our biggest worry is finding crabs in our salad!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Pumpkin Cafe

After four hours of waiting for the bus I decided I was hungrier than nervous, so braved the bus terminal restaurant. Everything was untranslatable apart from the title of the Menu Economica, so I dived into that.
First course was a vat of soup so hot that it steamed my tongue off and it is only now that I can taste the primary flavour of salt. My first thought was Rohypnoll. And, if genuinely only a broth of rice, carrots, celery, half a sweetcorn cob, a whole large boiled potato, and a clump of meat, then surely the blackcurrant juice which was followed was really rohypnoll. I slurped it all up hoping that I was immune to it as Bob is to coke*.
Completely full after this I was not eager for my second course. It came. A large plate of rice, more salad than I´ve ever eaten, and a chicken perched on top. Luckily, i spilled a lot of it on my lap, thus saving myself from overdosing.

The room then started to spin but I hoped it was more to do with the fact that I´m still wearing all my fleeces than of it being a rohypnoll cafe. I managed just about to drag myself about to the bus terminal waiting area for some light relief of watching some cute Peruvian children play with dirty pieces of cardboard on the floor.

*Mono and Geoff, I mean "..a cola".

p.s this is a picture of where i actually sat for six hours. It´s practically me behind that post

Monday, 26 November 2012


This morning I sat squashed tightly between more people than is legal in a taxi crossing the border into Peru. They seemed to be laughing. Probably at me. To cheer myself up before I left my cosy hostel I reread articles about how it is most likely that your bag will be stolen on this journey. Thus I´m wearing my hiking boots and entire red jacket collection as they´re most expensive to replace. I´d much rather buy a replacement llama bikini later, than use my North Face fleece today. I´d be wearing my sleeping bag if I could.

Whilst I was revising the scams online this morning something compelled me to read up on how exactly the French travelling girls were brutally raped and murdered by their tour guide here. This has not helped my willingness to go anywhere with anyone. The old lady trying to help me with my border crossing queue and papers had to prod me to follow her.

Well, I arrived safely in Peru with four hours to spare. Just like catching a train from Sheffield to Leeds in the old days, when Bob would join me as the train doors opened, my nerves worn to the bone, and she rosy cheeked and not having to buy her ticket.

Oh good, and Peru is two hours behind, so an extra two hours of waiting. At least the confusing earthquake alarm and evacuation test killed some time.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Team travel

I´m actually having my first truly pleasurable non-uncomfortable, non-awkward moment right now. I´m writing this on the beach. Ashley and I are sunbathing. She´s joined me for another day. Me, under the umbrella shade with teeshirt over my head, and a gluey layer of factor fifty just incase. She, the exact opposite.

It´s so nice to have a companion. I´ve got so used to it again that when I crossed the road on a red light today and she waited for the green, I actually missed talking in that 40 second interval. I felt sad as we gazed across the road at each other unable to finish discussing the nuances of why you would never wear a hairbobble you found on the street.*

*Dad, if you´re reading this, stop offering them to me. I really appreciate the thought but it´s like wearing aomeone else´s underwear.

Friday, 23 November 2012

A cut of chocolate

It´s been nearly a month without, but I´m afraid I just succumbed to chocolate self harm.
I had a snickers bar (twice the price of my dinner) because I was feeling miserable. And now I feel even worse like I´m about to have a sugar seizure.

I also ate so much tomato and avocado sandwich that I´m almost hopeful I´ll be sick, thus completing my imaginary mental health disorder inventory for this evening.

I was feeling sad because I´ve been alone all day in this stupid dusty beach town and I couldn´t even find the beach! And I´m really anxious about my impending border crossing into Peru. And today I got ripped off by twenty pounds at the money exchange, and the banana split ice cream I bought to cheer myself up was already melting and probably full of e coli from being kept at that temperature.
And, these two cute American girls are lying in the dorm beds opposite mine being all cute and best friendy and watching films on their ipads and LAUGHING.
And even though one seems to be called Alaska I´m really jealous of them!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Peli-can(´t talk now)

One strange thing I´ve noticed on this trip is how boys like to recount all their accolades and attributes to me.
"Oh I won the English prize at my Welsh school. Even though I was the only native English speaker I was so surprised."
"I´ve backpacked round the whole world and I find most people give me free helicopter rides or free accomodation on their ranch. You´d probably get killed."
"I´m training to be a dentist, but National Geographic has printed my photographs , and I do scientific research as a weekend job. And I´´m only 21."
"I only write in green ink. I find it inspires me." Inspired you to use up five pages of my notebook and not even use the back of each inky page..
"I´ve seen seven continents this year."
Tap`on my shoulder during a bus ride. What? I´m asleep! "And I only got one question wrong in my whole final year exams." A levels, let´s just clarify.

All I´m going to brag about is that today I saw two Pelicans in the sea whilst I was sitting on the sea front by myself.

Not sure if I prefer sitting by myself, or being auditarily raped by smug traveller boys. I clearly must prefer the former as I´ve taken to carrying an apple with me. If someone approaches I take a big mouthful until they retreat, social advances foiled.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Care bears

In Santiago I made travelling companions with a nice younger Canadian girl who i´ve come to the desert with. She reminds me of Ashley (Hi) so let´s call her that. I like hanging out with someone despite being quite different. She tolerates the fact that I go to bed at appropriate times in return for me waking her up in time for our day trips after 4hrs sleep due to late night kissing with our 38year old tour guide.
I quite like caring for someone, for example, bringing extra water and apples, reminding her for the fifth time that it´s Friday not Saturday so please don´t book that bus ticket, and pulling her out of her anorak which she´s had to wear for two days straight because a boy broke the zip off.

But I still don´t do any of the cooking. Apart from that time she realised her sandboarding trip was actually NOW not at 4pm, and left me stunned holding the ingredients for avocado and tomato sandwiches.
We´ve had a really lovely few days doing day trips to star gazing, the lagoon with flamingoes in it, salty swimming lakes, and trying on all the llama fridge magnets in the market.

I´m back on my own now in my next destination. I no longer have the confidence to wear sunglasses, for fear of being thought of a tourist, and an alone one at that. My worst fear. And secretly, I don´t mind if my eyes get burnt out by the sun as I´ve got no one to share the views with anyway.. wah wah.

Oh Ashley, come back. I promise never to mentally correct you again. Of course the hostel is that way. Of course Cusco is pronounced Cous Cous...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Having a lard time

I´ve become emotionally constipated again, after I had been having quite a nice time. The day before I went to the Chilean Patagonian national park.

Whilst wandering in the wrong direction looking completely terrified I got adopted by a Chilean family here on their vaccionaes. I really liked sharing the beautiful views with companions, plus they shared their Pringles. And the Mum gave me her scarf as a gift! But as the saying goes, presents come before 23 hours barely speaking to another soul, which to me is the emotional equivalent of eating lard for a week. I now can´t express myself, not even to the air stewardess asking what I want to drink. I had to turn `naranja' into a cough and stay dry mouthed without my orange juice. The bus driver earlier also thought I was French, when I not only forgot the Spanish for 3pm, but the English too. Trois! 
It then turned out just now that I was on the wrong plane, I have no idea which one my luggage is on, and i can´t even cry about it. My sadness is stuck hard inside me and my tear ducts are as unrelenting as the barren pampla plains of Argentina. 
Maybe the woman sitting next to me, whom I just called Signor after taking an hour to pluck up the courage to ask if she could move so I could go to the loo, will stab me and I can let some emotion out. She seems to be busy reading her book but I´ll do some elbow jostling and see.. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012


All these boy sized portions are not aiding me in my current "fat pocohontas" state. It´s lucky i´ve got a layer of red wine swilling round me as I can´t even fit into my thermals right now. And it´s so cold here. If I was a leaving the hostel type I´d be camping on a glacier or canoeing the fiords right now. But it is helping me stave off my loneliness as i´ve now got the perfect over ripe body to pretend to myself that i´m in the early stages of pregnancy.. I know that sounds really strange, and let me tell you impossible (no one could penetrate this fleece). But it´s really comforting when I get really lonely to pretend i´ve got a little friend. I´ve named him Jonah as it was the most transnational name I could think up to cover all fake Fatherlands.

I´d better go to actually talk to some people now...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Hot dish

I´m worried my blog is fast becoming a glorified monologue of people who give me food, but I just can´t help it. I must walk round with my mouth open.

On Wednesday night I was sated from an Ecuadorian chicken dish cooked by a new lady friend. I´d been sous chef, but really that meant just chatting up other people in the hostel kitchen whilst she slaved. After dinner I pleaded tiredness and retired to my room. I was in bed five minutes when a French man came in and we had the most wonderful bonding conversation. "Would you like to share my steak and red wine?" Of course! He hadn´t seen I was in my pajamas (the perks of a top bunk bed) so I quickly put my pink jeans on top (everyone knows they´re stretch right?) so he wouldn´t think i was the type of person to go to bed at 10pm, and scurried after the scent of cooking meat. So far so bien.

Thursday night RRRRrrroman had hitchhiked out of my life and I was wandering listlessly around the hostel after a tiring day in the national park. Oh hi Pedro! I´m glad you like my most flattering travelling tee shirt. He made me burger, rice, and very thin circle potatoes. Not sure if it´s a common Brazillian dish because our shared language was as thin as the chips... but it was very nice, and easily accompanied the wine.

Friday, I endured a 16 hour bus journey sitting next to a very chirpy Irish boy so i was feeling a bit ragged by the time I touched down. Until Italian Andreas asked me if I knew where the supermarket was? One thing led to another and he was soon standing over the stove warming our soup and egg, whilst I carried on being a terrible sous chef. I nearly gave him a heart attack recounting how I cook pasta. "But to me it is as easy as brrrreathing!" "Oh so you don´t throw spaghetti up on the ceiling to check if it is cooked?" Luckily he recovered enough to uncork some wine.

I´ve never met so many people who think a rubbish sous chef is so cute!

Mum magnet

Phew, don´t fret, I was only away from parent pals for that one bus journey. In my hostel I was about to miserably fall into my dorm after 36 hours eating crackers when I spotted a Mum and daughter from Taiwan who I´d briefly met the week before. On the strength of that they invited me to join them for dinner. "Oh no I couldn´t.." "Really?" "Are you sure?" They´d already got me a full plate of beef stew and Yung Yung was busy forking more meat on to my plate from hers.

I was ever so happy to hang out with them for three days. We went on a boat trip of the Beagle Channel, saw some more sealions (snore), and did some brisk country walks with German hiker Mum who made a very good pack lunch. "I´d like to invite you to share my biscuits." Ooh yes please!

Mums on tour

What I really like about Mum and Dad travellers is their elegant bottle of vino tinto with each meal. By the time i´ve finished scrabbling around in my room for the least dirty clothes, and the cleanest scraps of toilet paper, I come down and dinner is served. Having befriended a succession of grown up gap yahhers last week you can be sure that i´ve been well stocked with wine, wet wipes, and reminders to take my anorak out.
Oh yes, and I would like a cereal bar please. And that needle and thread would be so helpful to sew up the tearful hole in my pink jeans. Of course I´d love to hear all about your grown up children on the way to see the penguins in your hired car. Oh sorry, I feel asleep for that entire three hour drive. The rocking of the car on 200 km of dirt track was just too soothing!

Genuinely, I´ve had such a pleasant time with my parent pals. And even as I laugh along to the 4th Ben Stiller comedy shown in a row on my 36 hour bus ride, i´m crying inside to be leaving people I know. I don´t love being on my own. Although the success of lone journeys obviously makes me feel like Xena Warrior Princess, I´d really like a little Gabrielle to tag along with me.*

*Does only Jessica Howsden get this reference?*

*Does anyone get a Jessica Howsden reference. She was the girl from high school who was so obsessed with Xena that aged 12 she got her parents to take her to the airport just to watch the cast of the show walk through arrivals on their way to a channel five convention.. She told me this story in form time right before she disappeared from school forever. True.