Saturday, 31 July 2010

Some seriously slow internet...


We have been absent for a blog for quite a while as the internet is so bloody slow here! I am currently on a dial up connection, the likes of which we haven't seen since about 1997 in the hence we haven`t been able to upload any photos or anything for about 2 weeks. Tony tried to last night but spent an hour on here and it didn`t even upload 1 photo!

We have been in a small town called Samaipata for the last week, mostly chilling out (no change there), but have also done a couple of pretty cool hikes through the hills around the place. It's really nice, set between the start of the Andes and the Amazon basin and it's not too cold here yet either...we`ve heard it`s minus 15 at night on the salt flats which i am NOT looking forward to.

So we can`t show you any photos for the moment, but they are for the best part images of the amazing scenery around here, and also our failed attempt at taking photos of Condors in flight (this area is renound for it Condors, and yesterday we went on a long hike to go and view them - i won´t say too much though otherwise Tone will get annoyed at me cos then we won`t have anything to say when we post the photos haha!)

We`re going to be heading to Sucre on Sunday night on a night bus which should take about 15 hours, but *may* take up to 25....also they confirmed to us today that there are NO TOILETS on the bus. So I expect to arrive in Sucre dehydrated and hungry...

Hope all is well in the UK or wherever, big love xxxxx

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Yay, another stupidly long bus journey

The novelty of trans South American bus journeys has well and truly worn off... When we bought our tickets we were under the impression we`d be cruising through Paraguay in comfort, 30 quid for a luxury bus with 3 meals, TVs, fully reclining seats, we`d never been given meals before, it must be an amazing bus... WRONG.

We were stuck at the bus station for what seemed like forever wondering whether we`d missed it. The biggest, most pimped out coach turned up with our bus company name written all over it. This is it we thought. Nope. We waited and waited, then the skankiest looking town bus turned up and we were told to get on. WTF?!

After showing the bus driver the ticket three times and arguing there`s been a mistake they told us not to worry, get on and they´ll drive us to our coach. We drove round the corner for about 2 minutes, why the coach couldn`t get to the bus station we`ll never know, and then we had to get on the (not adequate for a 24 hour journey with little or no stops) other bus. We were not happy. There was nowhere to put your feet up, the TVs didn´t switch on, and the one toilet was like something taken from the last day of Glastonbury festival! It was bloody freezing, the windows had draughts, and worst of all Fia was NOT HAPPY AT ALL!!!!!!! Oh the horror, we were stuck in this vessel of doom for 24 hours, maybe more if it got stuck in the mud.

Luckily it didn`t get stuck in the mud, we passed two buses that did (and kindly stopped off next to them so people could stare and take photos). Just over half the road was Asphalt, but when we crossed over the border it was muddy and bumpy so sleeping was near impossible.

The Bolivian Migration office was little more than a few chairs and a shack at the side of the "road". Still, we got here in one piece, Santa Cruz is sunny and relatively warm, everything is super cheap and it sounds like there are hundreds of amazing sights and things to do.

The road the bus drove on!
The "road"

The place where you get your passport stamped for Bolivia
Bolivian Migration "office"

Feeling shit on the bus
Us looking very unimpressed after about 15 hours stuck in the same tiny space on the bus. Fia just about managed a smile, I wasn´t quite so thrilled.

Asunción, Paraguay

We spent 4 nights in Asunción staying with the Alló family. Naty and Vivi knew my cousins and Aunt and Uncle in Italy through an exchange program. Their family were kind enough to let us stay for a few days to get to know a bit of Asunción.

In Paraguay they have a distinct indigenous culture called Guaraní, Guaraní folklore has lots of mythological figures and animals with strange and wonderful powers and stories attached to them. Most of these stories seem to be designed to scare young children so that they obey their parents!

The little blond guy below is called Jasy Jateré, and he is considered the lord of the siesta. According to one widespread version of the myth, Jasy Jateré leaves the forest and wanders the villages looking for children who are not napping during their siesta. He lures them towards him and according to Naty and Vivi (there are lots of different versions of what he does as this folklore is spread by word of mouth) he kisses them and leaves them mute.

Looks quite innocent, doesn´t he?!

This is an example of one of the ridiculously loud, rattly and colourful buses that transport you around Asunción. They only cost the equivalent of 30p! There are no actual bus stops, they just seem to stop wherever and pick up passengers wherever as well. We got one to the bus station and only figured out there was a bus stop because there seemed to be a group of people standing around the side of the road! Naty and Vivi were also telling us that a couple of years back people were going on the buses and stealing girls hair to sell! If you had a plait in your hair it was risky getting a bus because they`d just come along and cut your plait off!

Plaza de los Héroes

The Train Station - this is the first Train station in South America which took the Asunción-Encarnación route. It´s a pity it´s not still working as a real train station as we reckon tourists would love this kind of thing. It´s used as a venue for concerts and things now apparently.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Foz do Iguaçu - The Argentinian side... even more amazing!

Yesterday we hopped across the border to Argentina for the day... sounds ridiculous but it was that easy. We thought the Brazilian side was the most amazing thing we ever saw but actually this bettered it. We got really close to the falls and saw just how much water there is and how powerful they are (these pictures don´t begin to do it justice even though they are quite incredible), we took a boat trip right up to the falls, to the point where we were right in the spray and couldn´t see anything because we were taking the biggest shower of our lives, needless to say we were absolutely soaked - luckily we came armed with a spare set of clothes!

We walked all along the top of the falls and got to the very beginning where a massive pool of water suddenly drops through what looks like the world opening up and then crashes down all of the other smaller (but still massive) waterfalls that we saw from Brazil. This was called the ´Garganta del Diablo´, meaning Devil´s throat.

We saw a wild Toucan too which was pretty cool, but unfortunately we were running back to the bus so didn´t have time to get a picture. Here are some more ridiculously cool photos of some of the things we saw...
The bridge across the border (the Iguassu river) painted half in brazilian colours and half Argentinian colours.

One of the lower sets of falls were we got the boat, and the shower. You can see the boat in front of the spary in this pic, it disappears right into it but obviously taking a picture from the boat at that point would be plain stupid.

Us in the boat

We went right into the spray at the falls too, these were further round from the others. The boat trip was awesome!

Rays breaking through the spray at the edge of Garganta del Diablo

Me being a nob at the edge of Garganta del Diablo

An idea of how much water crashes over the Garganta del Diablo. Immense!!!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Foz do Iguaçu

The Iguaçu Falls don´t really need much explaining...They are absolutely amazing and one of the best things we´ve seen so far. These are the photos from the Brazilian side of the falls (they are on a border with Argentina and Paraguay). Tomorrow we´ll go to the Argentinian side to see how they look from there.






Sunday, 11 July 2010

Curitiba - the train ride and what´s next

Hello hope you´re all good. Here are a few pics from the scenic train journey...

The train

The train was ridiculously slow and the first 2 hours of the 3 hour journey were pretty unimpressive - basically a load of trees close up on both sides! Just as we were beginning to nod off it got better and we saw some pretty nice views which made it worthwhile. The train creaking as it went along the narrow (and very high!) bridges also made things a bit more exciting...

I don´t think brazilians are used to riding on trains very often, they were all taking photos of themselves sat in the carriages and when the train went through a tunnel they all started cheering and whoopíng and taking yet more photos of themselves in the dark! We were trying not to laugh, this happened every time we went through a tunnel, not just the first time.

Scenic train ride from Curitiba to Morretes

Scenic train ride from Curitiba to Morretes

Scenic train ride from Curitiba to Morretes

We arrived at our destination Morretes, we did a lap of the town in about 20 minutes and soon realised the only thing to do there was grab some lunch and have a nice cold beer... seriously, this place was very quiet and there really was little else to do. There may not have been much to see but the people were friendly and the food was lovely, we had Barreardo which was very slow cooked beef in a nice stock (it melted in your mouth, yum) which you then mix with faroffa until it turns into a paste and eat with rice and banana. And if you´re brave (or mental) add some hot sauce - it looked like a few innocent little chillis floating in some olive oil but one drop made Fia spit out here food almost as soon as it touched her tongue and I almost cried.



Scenic train ride - cool sky on the way back

The sunset on the way back to Curitiba.

Luckily we got to see this from the train as we thought the train left at 3:15pm but it left at 3pm and when we got to the platform it had already started to pull away... and there´s only one train each way per day! Luckily we were allowed to hop on just in time. That would never happen in England.

Scenic train ride - cool sky on the way back

We´ve eaten lots of nice food in very nice places here and we´ve been made extremely comfortable by Julia, and Ygor, and Ygor´s lady Leticia. Thank you so much! We´re just deciding on the next move, it looks like we´ll head to Foz do Iguaçu tomorrow (a 9 hour bus journey), stay there a few days and take in the amazing scenery from both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side of the waterfalls, then cross the border and pass through Paraguay to Santa Cruz in Bolivia. We´ll keep you posted!


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Curitiba - The South of Brazil

We are in Curitiba at the moment, we arrived last Friday. We´re staying with some distant family of mine (my grandad´s sister´s daughter!). The weather has been absolutely amazing here! Apparently this is quite unusual, but it´s been perfect for going out and taking lots of photos of the city.

Curitiba feels totally different to the rest of brazil we´ve seen. I already knew the city, but even Tony says it´s like a different Brazil. We don´t feel so out of place here as the city is mostly made up of German, Italian and Polish immigrants. So basically, it´s a lot whiter.

We went to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, which apparently is the biggest museum of it´s kind in the whole of South America! Well, that´s what the Tourist Bus said...

We´ve also had our first decent cup of tea (Earl Grey) and hot showers here, so we´re going to make the most of that before we head on to Bolivia and forget what having hot water is like.

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

The Kettle - Curitiba

The Kettle - A traditional tea room where Tony had a scone!

Classic Porsche

The Hippie Market and the Classic Cars show


After the hippie market, Ygor took us to the German Bar called Bar do Alemão - there we ate a lot of Bratwurst, cabbage and potatoes, and drank a lot of beer and this things above called ´submarines´. These are beers with a little shot of Steinhaeger in another cup in the glass! They are genius, and you get to keep the cup! On the bottom of the cup it says ´this cup was robbed in an honest way´- apparently it used to be forbidden to take the cups, but people used to do it anyway because you can´t not, they´re amazing souvenirs! So they just made it so you could. It tastes fine, just like a really strong beer....Tony had about 6!

Ygor and Julia
This is my family - Julia and her son Ygor

There´s still loads to write about here, but i´ll have to leave that for another post. Tomorrow we´re getting up early to take a scenic train ride from here to Morretes...Having just written that it sounds like we´re about 60 years old, but apparently it´s the thing to do here! There aren´t many trains!


Sunday, 4 July 2010

More Itacare

After 10 days we decided to move on from Itacare otherwise we´d probably end up moving in! Here are some of the highlights...

The mini trek to Prainha beach, an hours walk through jungle to of the (even more) beautiful beaches in Itacare. Well worth the hike, when we got there it was grey and horrible but the sun came out soon enough and it was gorgeous.

After the beach it´s usually hammock o´clock, then beer o´clock. When we got back from Prainha the Brazil game was just about to start, the usual party with people concentrating more on celebrating and chanting than actually watching the game! It was 2 for 1 on Caiparinhas (Brazil´s national cocktail). After the game every moved outside for a Capoeira ´roda´. They were absolutely amazing, I thought Eddie on Tekken was an exaggerated version of a Capoeira master but these guys were even better. Very cool.