Posted by: glenswatman | November 3, 2009

20091021 Peru Bolivia

WEDNESDAY 21 Oct. 09 – I’m surprised that we don’t sleep
well as we have a quiet room and comfortable bed.  Leave at 4am and take a mototaxi to the
station, PS2 (16p).  Our train leaves at
5.07am and there are a few empty seats so we pick two together on the left side
of the train facing forwards.  The valley
narrows and the mountains either side seem higher creating a most attractive
backdrop.  We follow the course of the
river passing small farming communities. 
As we continue the landscape turns into jungle with lots of trees.  I spend most of the journey with my head
poked out of the window taking dozens of photos as it is so attractive.  As we enter the village of Machu Picchu (also
known as Aguas Calientes) we find the train is actually going along the main
street with buildings less than a foot from the carriage.  In fact we can see right into them and spot
people on beds and others sat in café’s, very funny.  Alighting from the train we make our way to
the main square where the school is.  As
it is twinned with Haworth and our grandchildren have a link with the pupils we
intend to visit later.  Before we have begun
to look for a room we are approached by Rolando who wants to show us “Hopedale
Jarito” and tells us the room is PS20 (£4.40) pp which is very cheap for this
town.  We walk up the steps of the hill
where they have a ramp so you can drag your bags.  We are given a choice of 3 rooms, all of
which would be acceptable, with en-suite and supposedly hot water.  All our information leads us to believe that
the cheaper rooms have sporadic hot water but everything else is fine so we
check in.  By 7am we are lying down
taking a nap.  At 8am we set out to
explore the town and to visit the school. 
It is twinned with Haworth and the children have been writing to each
other.  First we have to introduce
ourselves to Sonia at the town hall, the co-ordinater of the twinning.  She takes us over to the school to meet
headmaster Leonardo.  Together they take
us into the top class where some of the pupils speak a little English.  They all seem delighted to see us and we
explain that our granddaughter is one of the pupils in Haworth school; she is
called Natasha and is 9 years old.  These
students are 11 and 12 years old so we attempt to explain that our grandson
Daniel aged 12 no longer goes to Haworth but to another school.  I chat to a few students individually and
take E-mail addresses from those who would like to write to students from
Haworth directly.  At the end I do a
video and they all call out a greeting to the pupils in Haworth then do a
special hello to Natasha.  At this stage
it seems that the twinning is in the early stages as other than the school no
one seems to know about it.  Now we are
here we can see similarities in the towns. 
Both tourist destinations both have a valley railway, both have narrow
steep streets and in both schools the uniform is bright blue.  Set out to explore more of the town set on
either side of the river and rail track. 
It has a really nice feel to the place with very friendly people.  Walking up the narrow street towards the hot
pools it is lined with restaurants and bars and we succumb to coffee and
cake.  The hot pools, PS10 (£2.20) are
higher upstream and set at the side of the river.  You enter them through a beautiful café
area.  There are a number of pools of
varying temperatures, size and type. 
Some have a natural sand base others are tiled.  Spend a good hour or so just relaxing and
admiring our surroundings of beautiful steep tree covered mountains with the
clouds at the top.  Chat to an American
couple from New York, Victor & Ena, who are originally from Russia and
Ukraine.  We are getting on so well that
they walk back to town with us and join us for lunch.  Many restaurants offer a set menu at PS15
(£3.30) and this is what we pick.  The
game of jenga is set up on the table so we teach Victor & Ena how to play.  In the afternoon Steve watches sport in the
bar whilst I do my diary and pictures. 
Later on we set out for a stroll up the street, a bit of hassle from the
restaurants but they do accept no quite readily.  We go to a place where they have happy hour 4
for 1 (it is not really as each individual drink is priced less and you would
then get a larger one) at PS15 (£3.30) including tacos chips.  They put on a movie for us to watch and we
settle in for a couple of hours and even end up ordering burger and chips.  The area feels like a nice backpacker resort
and very relaxed.  Early to bed.


Ps20 (£4.40)


THURSDAY 22 October – Up at 4.15am to join the line for the
5.30am bus.  Why?  Because only the first 400 people up at Machu
Picchu get a ticket to climb “Huayna Picchu”, the mountain behind from which
you get spectacular views.  I am not
entirely sure whether I want to or am capable of making the climb but will
leave it in the lap of the Gods!  The
buses take you up a steep hill with 14 hair pin bends to get you to Machu
Picchu which is on a kind suspended plateau between two mountains.  We are on about the 4th bus so get
our tickets stamped as number 91 and 92 to do the climb beginning at 7am.  The site opens at 6am and the complicated 3
stage ticket entry takes about 15 minutes but we still get our first glimpse of
Machu Picchu as the sun rises, magnificent. 
We feel we know the site having seen so many pictures and videos but its
sheer size and beauty still impresses. 
Making our way through to the far end of the site we duck into a few of
the ruins.  There is now a line up for
the mountain walk, the gates open at 7am and you have to sign into a
register.  The first 200 can go up from
7am onwards and the next 200 from 10am. 
The board says the climb takes about 1-hour but I will be just happy to
make it in any time at all.  We overtake
3 people in the first minute, OK so the guy had just fallen down and was having
his knee bandaged!  The walk begins will
a few up and downhill steps, across a small ridge then to the mountain itself.  Onwards the walk is almost continuous steps,
some so high there is a rope so you can haul yourself up.  I do the Andean walk of taking a pace then
pausing before the next and thus keep going almost continuously without too
much huffing and puffing.  Just before
the top there is a terraced area with some ruins and we pause to take in the
views.  The last stretch involves
scrambling through a narrow cave and up some carved steps then a few more rock
steps to the pinnacle.  Here people are
just sitting around on the rocks enjoying the panoramic views.  It has taken us a little over 1-hour and we
feel rather pleased with ourselves and so glad we made the effort.  Climbing down is considerably easier and
quicker but we still reward ourselves by lying down on one of the grassy
terraces for a bite of lunch – only we look at our watches and realise that
although it feels like lunch time it is only 10am.  The site is getting busy so it is easy to
hang around the ruins and listen to the tour guides although we still feel the setting
and wandering around alone is the most enjoyable part.  By 11am we have finished and catch the bus
back to Aguas Calientes.  No sooner have
we stepped into our room than the heavens open up.  Talk about good timing.  After a hot shower we spend an hour or so
resting then head off up the street for a feed. 
It seems that happy hour and the special menus are all day so we pick on
a PS15 (£3.30) menu with entrée, soup, mains, desert and wine.  I order the alpaca steak and it comes in a
delicious sauces.  We play cards and want
to linger after the mean so sign up for 4 of the happy hour drinks.  Return to our room after dark and watch a
movie before bed.  We can now see how
people do Machu Picchu in one day from Cusco as the site doesn’t take much
looking round but much prefer the relaxed way we have done things.



FRIDAY 23 October 2009 – It is nice to have a bit of a lie in
although heavy rain did wake us in the early hours.  The train is late leaving and then doesn’t
make the proper stop in Ollantaytambo because of the road works but drops us
about 15 minutes further on.  Everything
is geared up for this as a free mini bus takes us up to the main road where taxis
are waiting.  We opt to stand at the
roadside and flag down the next bus which happens to be a tour bus and gets us all
the way to Cusco for PS5 (£1.10) pp.  It
is a very scenic journey with glaciers visible on the mountains and some nice
lakes.  Arrive back in Cusco early
afternoon and the lads come up to let us into their home.  They have to work in the afternoon so we
relax and watch a movie.  In the evening
they return with 2 German girls and an American lad who are collecting their
bags ready to catch a night bus plus Cecile who is staying over.  They sure enjoy having lots of visitors.  We want to take them out for a Thank You meal
but it all goes a bit pear shaped when they get called back into work.



SATURDAY 24 Oct. 09 – Catch the 8am “San Luis” bus to Puno,
PS20 (£4.40).  Our journey begins in the
mountains with lakes and snow capped peaks. 
After a couple of hours we seem to be on a never ending plateau with a
straight road.  At the last stop before
Puno a guide gets on the bus promoting a new hotel.  Hotel America is in Puno and he is offering
double rooms at PS40 (£8.80) with bathroom, internet and bus from the terminal
to the hotel.  It is around 4pm when we
arrive so we are happy to take up the offer even though someone says we should get
rooms as low as PS25.  In fact it is a
very nice hotel so we are confident in booking a 2 day, 1 night tour on Lake
Titicaca with him.  He asks PS80 pp but
we bargain him down to PS60 (£13.20).  We
get to visit floating and fixed islands on the lake and spend the night with a
local family in their home.  Walking into
town for a meal the heavens suddenly open up and we almost regret booking the
tour for tomorrow.  We have a Chinese
meal then have to wade back to the hotel as the streets have become rivers.  Worse still it is really cold.  Think this is the start of the rainy season
in which case we may have to review our tour plan and get a bit of a move on
further south. 




SUNDAY 25 October – Our trip begins at 8am when we board
a boat, the inside being much like a coach. 
There are Spanish, French and English speakers on the board so our guide
Tito Castro repeats everything in 3 languages. 
Heading out onto Lake Titicaca we soon enter the area of the Uros
“floating” islands.  They are incredible,
made of the local totura reeds each one houses many families.  There are so many that each tour boat stops
at a different one, ours is Isla Suma Balsa. 
When you step onto the reeds you almost feel drunk as you bounce up and
down and sway.  We gather for an
explanation as to how the islands are created and the reason that there are now
so many – the original big ones were cut either in half or into smaller pieces
when people fell out!  Although they are
technically floating they are all anchored down so don’t go anywhere.  Not only are the islands made of totura reeds
but the houses on them, the boats and everything else is made of the reeds and
they even eat the roots.  Inhabitants
either fish or make things to sell to the tourists.  Totally unique we are really impressed by the
spectacle.  Back on the boat we motor for
about 3-hours to get to Amantani Island where we will spend the night with a
local family.  En-route we are taught a
number of phrases in the islanders “ketchuan” language.  Once you arrive the locals are gathered
waiting for you and a family member is called forward and a visitor name
matched to them.  Our host is an elderly
man called Gregorio.  Lake Titicaca is at
over 3800m and the island homes are scattered up the side of the mountain.  There are no cars, motorcycles or bikes on
the island so working is the only way to go. 
Hiking up is incredibly difficult at this altitude and we have to keep
stopping for breath as do most of the other tourists.  The island is divided into 10 communities and
Gregorio lives in Colquecachi which unfortunately is high up.  We walk past the community square and up a
dirt track to finally reach his home where we are introduced to his wife
Andria.  Our room is a basic adobe
construction with the earth floor covered with sacking and the roof lined with
more sacks.  There is no electricity and
just 4 beds and a table and chairs.  The
toilet is an outside dunny with a bucket of water outside for flushing.  Gregorio indicates we should have a rest and
brings us some mint tea to help combat the effects of altitude.  After about 1-hour we begin to wander what is
happening as we are supposed to have lunch. 
I find out that they are waiting to serve us lunch in the kitchen.  This is a tiny room with the wood burning
oven and stove in one corner.  Our meal
is thin vegetable soup followed by 4 tiny boiled potatoes and a thin slice of
cheese plus more mint tea.  Gregorio also
speaks Spanish so we have a bit of a chat about family etc.  Around 3pm the wind gets up and it begins to
rain heavily so we return to our room. 
4pm there is a meeting of our group in the square but due to a
misunderstanding about the trip Steve can’t be bothered going.  He thought we were going to be staying on a
floating island whereas I had already said there was no way I was sleeping on a
reed bed all night but happy to compromise on this trip.  At the meeting we learn there is a fiesta
(party) at 8pm in the village hall but before that a hike to the top of the
mountain to watch the sunset.  I pass on
that and return home to Steve’s “told you it wouldn’t be worth going to”.  Conversation with the family is difficult so
we settle into bed to read until it gets too dark, we only have 1 candle.  Evening meal is thin vegetable soup followed
by rice and a few vegetables and mint tea. 
Andria’s Dad joins us and we are amazed to learn he is 105 years old –
the oldest person we have ever met. 
Gregorio is 58, Andria 60 and they have 4 children and 8
grandchildren.  They have been receiving
overnight tourists for about 10-years and take it in turns within the community
hosting people about every 3rd day. 
Andria and all the local females look rather plump but when she brings
me a traditional outfit to wear to the fiesta I realise why.  They are wearing 2 extremely full skirts of
heavy cotton and for proper fiestas can wear up to 20 skirts.  I have a fancy blouse then a tight wide
corset thing around my waist and a big heavy black shawl over my head.  Steve gets off lightly with a poncho.  At the village hall they have 2 bands playing
traditional music and our hosts soon have us up dancing.  The start of the dance has you holding both
hands and shimmying backwards and forwards. 
At some point this breaks up and everyone forms a huge circle and begins
running round but then the circle pulls inwards to make you run faster – a bit
like a New Years Eve kind of dance.  They
are serving drinks and Gregorio and Andria seem delighted when we buy them both
a large beer and share them amongst their friends.   Head for home around 10pm.



MONDAY 26 Oct. 09 – It is light around 5am and we hear
our hosts pottering around.  Gregorio
still farms whilst Andria works in the kitchen (no idea how it can take so long
to prepare the food) and knits.  At
6.30am we get a knock for breakfast, a pancake and cup of coffee.  I find out that they both have cold feet and
cannot afford socks so we give them the spare pairs we had brought to
wear.  With no water to wash we figure we
might as well keep our dirty stuff on!  Hike
back down the mountain to the port for our 7.30am departure.  Chatting to others on the boat we may have
had the short straw with one of the highest houses whilst others had
electricity, wooden floors and eggs on the menu.  About an hour away is the other large island
of Taquile.  Here we must walk up and
around the mountain to meet in the main square. 
I realise it is another steep hike so settle in to my slow walk ending
up way behind everyone else.  We pass
through many arches indicating entry to the different community.  The walk is not all up hill and on the flat I
overtake most of the others as I am not in the least puffed out.  The main square is very busy on Mondays.  This community believes in being equal so
each Monday the takings from the shops and restaurants is shared out between
the islanders and they come to the square to collect it.  Also each tour group is allocated to a
different restaurant and each week a different family runs it.  Another interesting thing is their clothing
which by colour, style and the way it is warn shows not only which family they
belong to but whether the person is under 5 –years, over 16- years, married or
single.  The men make all the clothing
for the females and vice versa so we see many men wandering around
knitting.  An extra quirk is that the way
a girl holds the pom-poms on her shawl indicates whether she is happy or
sad.  Marriage is for life but before
that couple live together for up to 3-years to decide if they are right for
each other and all weddings take place on 2nd May attended by all 3000
islanders.  We have time to wander around
and observe village life before heading to the other side of the island.  The lake is a beautiful blue colour the
landscape really interesting with lots of terraces.  The tour stops at a restaurant for lunch but
it is only 10.30am and the few of us that are not hungry carry on back to the
boat.  The whole trip is really well
organised and Steve has to admit that he is glad have done it.  Arrive back in Puno at 3pm getting back to
our hotel minutes ahead of a heavy downpour. 
Steve is spoilt for choice with football on the telly and also being
played in the stadium beneath our window. 



TUESDAY 27 October – Catch the 7.30am Pan American bus to
Copacabana, PS15 (£3.30).  Our journey
follows the shore of Lake Titicaca and after about 2-hours we are in the last
Peruvian town where the bus stops for 10 minutes for people to change
money.  And so after 3 weeks in Peru we
reach the border and complete exit formalities then walk a short distance to gain
entry into BOLIVIA, (30 days), where the coach picks us up.  Currency is the Boliviano with approx 11Bs =
£1.  Bolivia is 1-hour ahead of Peru
making us now 4-hours behind England which is now on GMT.  It is only 8km to the lakeside resort of
Copacabana.  This is a famous pilgrimage
centre combined with a tourist spot. 
There are plenty of bottom and middle end hotels and we pick “Wendy Mar”
a modern hotel with cable TV and breakfast for Bs 80 (£7.20).  They have a laundry service at Bs10 (90p)
kilo which I am happy to use as I am now wearing my last outfit of clean
clothes.  It is a busy little town with
lots of small shops selling drinks and many booths offering tours to the Isla Del
Sol and bus tickets.  The cathedral is
very unusual and almost looks like a mosque with many domed outbuildings but we
can’t find the door that leads us to the room where the famous “Virgen de
Copacabana” is encased in glass.  Steve
finds a bar to watch football in the afternoon and also eats there.  In the evening we walk along the waterfront
and select from the numerous restaurants offering much the same menu of trout
in various forms at Bs18 (£1.60). 


Bs 80
(£7.20) Inc breakfast


WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER – The main thing to do here is visit
the sacred islands.  Having already done
an overnight island trip we kick out that option and with Liverpool playing
this afternoon the whole day trip is off. 
A half day tour leaves at 8.30am and visits the southern part of Isla Del
Sol, Bs15 (£1.35).  It takes just over an
hour to get there and we land at the bottom of the famous “Escalera Del Inca”,
Inca steps.  Climbing up these leads us
to the “Fuente Del Inca”, Inca fountain. 
We have a long enough stop to climb higher for the views.  Lake Titicaca is a beautiful blue and with
the islands it has a Mediterranean feel. 
Unfortunately the lake water remains at 9C all year so far too cold to
swim in.  Our next stop just around the
corner is Templo Pilcocaina ruins, nothing to write home about.  Overall it has been a nice boat ride but I
think to really appreciate the island you need to do the day tour and hike from
north to south.  We get chatting to
fellow tourists and end up getting together for a drink when we get back at
12.30pm.  Carlos is a travel agent from
Buenos Aires whilst Alexis is Peruvian and a photographer and his girlfriend
Jessica is from Bolivia.  Alexis insists
on ordering a bottle of the local spirit to be drunk with Sprite, ice and a
squeeze of lime.  Both Jessica and I opt
out and leave the men to the hard stuff. 
Bar owner Faro from Chile joins them and as the bottle goes down the
guitar and drums come out.  Suddenly
Steve is speaking much better Spanish and has the hang of playing the tom
tom!  Faro entertains us with his diablo
stunts and even manages to have it running along the telegraph wires.  Jessica and I order meals whilst the lads
enjoy a liquid lunch.  Carlos leaves to
catch the bus to La Paz but it is 3.30pm before we leave the bar, only for
Steve and Alexis to move on to the one showing the Liverpool match.  I return to the hotel to await Steve’s return
at 6pm when he is just about fit enough to strip off and roll into bed. 



THURSDAY 29 October – After breakfast we set out to climb
the hill “Cerro Calvario”.  The trail
follows the “stations of the cross” up to the summit which is dotted with
strange stone altars where pilgrims burn offerings.  In fact we see quite a few fake $100 notes
that have not burnt properly.  The views
in all directions make it worth the effort and boy was it an effort battling
against the cool air and altitude.  We
wander round the town where many stalls sell the giant popcorn made from the world’s
largest corn grown in the region.  Last
night Steve can’t remember much about walking home but in his pocket were
details of our rendezvous with Alexis who has invited us to share his taxi to
La Paz.  We meet them at 1pm; he is not
well as he went out drinking again yesterday evening.  Our journey takes us along the shores of Lake
Titicaca with some splendid views.  At
one point we have to cross a narrow part of the lake on a ferry.  I use the term loosely as they are
individually owned sort of flat barges with a low powered outboard motor.  You drive on forwards and head towards the
back of the boat on a slope enabling the uncovered front end to rise out of the
water.  The same boats also take coaches
and lorries and they look really strange nosing down towards the back, reckon
we would have been having a fit if we had needed to drive our motorhome onto
one!  It is a very short distance but
takes over 20 minutes to cross.  Alexis
is a photographer so has the driver make many stops so we can take photos of
the lake and the snow capped mountains. 
Approach to La Paz is at the high level where the poorer people
live.  Traffic is horrendous and every
other vehicle seems to be a mini bus.  In
the centre they are controlling traffic by banning certain number plates on
specific days and today our taxi cannot enter. 
Alexis has booked a hotel in the centre so has to take a different
taxi.  He will accept nothing towards the
fare and leaves us in his original taxi to continue to our destination.  We are Couchsurfing with Ronnie who has
directed us to an area near where he works but we are over 1-hour early.  With time to kill I get a haircut, Bs25
(£2.25) and do some Internet work.  Ronnie
arrives around 6.45pm and gets us all into a taxi out to his home south of the
city.  He was born in La Paz but has spent
time living in Germany.  Although he is a
civil engineer he designed his hour on 3 stories with lots of attractive
features.  We are offered the study
complete with bed, chair bed, mattress on the floor and 2 arm chairs.  Ronald asks if we like curry as he has
arranged to meet some people in town for a meal.  Not only do we like curry but the place he
suggests “Star of India” is the one our friend recommended as does the Rough
Guide.  We need to return to the city and
public transport options here range in price order from private taxi, trufis
(shared taxi with fixed route), mini bus to big bus.  A ride in the trufi is Bs3 (27p) pp and takes
us to the main square.  From there we
walk to meet up with fellow Couchsurfers from France Olivier and Viviane and Ronald’s
friend.   The curry house is packed out
so we go for a drink then return to eat just after 10pm.  On the menu is “the world’s most dangerous” vindaloo,
extremely hot and anyone who can eat it gets a special t-shirt to say they
survived it.  Steve is seriously tempted
other than the fact it is so late at night. 
The food is good and we enjoy the company but are whacked by the time we
get back.



FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER – Ronnie has left for work by the time
we get up.  La Paz is the capital of
Bolivia and the highest capital in the world at over 3500m.  Today we want to visit the attractions in the
city centre.  Leaving Ronnie’s in
daylight we realise what as fantastic area we are in.   Not only do you have the distant backdrop of
the snow capped Andes but closer to the city are amazing rock formations much
like the badlands in America.  We take a minibus
Bs2.30 (20p) into the main square then set out on foot.  Immediately get side tracked by visiting the
free folklore museum.  The exhibition of
death masks is brilliant.  Calle Jaen is
a really attractive narrow street with lovely buildings and many museums.  A combined ticket to 4 of them is 4BS
(35p).  Unfortunately we are visiting at
the same time as many school children and the closed in rooms end up being a
bit whiffy.  One group of kids are kept
in check crocodile style as they are all holding loops either side of a long
piece of fabric.  Most attractions are
close together and we easily make our way around.  In Plaza Alonso de Mendoza there are lots of
stalls selling fruit and drinks.  A huge
blackcurrant milkshake plus a big fruit salad is a bargain at Bs9 (80p) for the
two.  We are surprised to see lots of
people using box cameras but it is just a tourist attraction. The adjacent
Museo Tambo Quirquincho, Bs1 (9p) is in a lovely building and also contains a
quirky art exhibition.  We see 4 large
stuffed dummies hanging from a balcony, they are wearing pink mini dresses but
when we get down to the courtyard we can see they have male genitalia hanging
down!  One rooms has the walls and floor
covered with white painted car tyres and lots of mirrors hung up to enhance the
effect.  There’s a street nearby known as
“Gringo Alley” with tourist shops, travel agents and restaurants.  This leads us to the “witches market” where
we see shrunken dried alpaca foetuses used in witchcraft – Yuk.  After checking out the cathedrals and other
museums Steve decides he is ready to tackle the vindaloo.  It is 3pm so we are the only people in the
restaurant and chat to owner Matthew. 
Steve takes his time and finishes the curry to earn himself the prized “I
survived the world’s most dangerous vindaloo” T-shirt.  I take the menu of the day Bs 25 (£2.25) with
the nicest mulligatawny soup I have ever tasted, curry of choice plus
dessert.  We try to visit the free Post
Office museum but it is closed on Fridays but what surprises us is that in the
huge area in front of the counters are loads of stalls selling cakes and
bread.  We have thoroughly enjoyed
everything we have seen and done (far more than expected) so call it a day at 4.30
pm although it takes us 40 minutes to get back in a trufi.  Ronnie is going straight out after work so we
settle in to watch a couple of movies. 
Just before 10am we hear noise at the gate, Melissa (New Zealand) and
her friend Adam (USA) returning Couchsurfers. 
They have just been away on a jungle trip so we get to hear a bit about



SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER – Ronnie has suggested we join him for
a typical Bolivian breakfast.  However
having arrived home in the early hours this means we don’t set out until around
10.30am.  We go to the modern commercial
centre nearby and up a side street call into a café.  Here we eat a kind of mini Cornish pasty,
BS3.5 (30p), filled with either vegetables, chicken or beef.  They are delicious and we can see why the
waitresses are dashing around with trays full of them.  Ronnie has to go to work but we stay in the
area and at the Alexander café have all our needs met.  Steve watches the Liverpool match whilst I
make use of the Wi-Fi.  Return after
2pm.  The problem with having my hair
short is that each time I have it cut you can see the gray underneath so I have
bought a colour to put on.  Spend the
rest of the afternoon sat out on the balcony in the sun.  Ronnie gets back mid afternoon and goes to
bed then Adam & Melissa return with bags of food from the market.  Adam cooks veggie pasta which we eat together
in the kitchen.  Ronnie is holding a
Couchsurfing party tonight, partly because it is Halloween but also in South
America this is the holiday weekend for the “day of the dead”.  He has put out a general invitation on the
website for an 8pm start.  A few people
arrive early, each bringing some drinks and appropriate festive food – special
biscuits and bread shaped like a mummified corpse with a face.  The party is on the top floor of the house so
we drag cushions and mattresses up there and set out the food on a cloth in the
centre of the floor.  Throughout the
evening guests arrive, a couple of local Couchsurfing hosts but mainly visitors
from around the world.  Ireland, Sweden,
France, Italy, Canada, Chile, USA. Bolivia, New Zealand and of course ourselves
from England.  Pauline from Ireland seems
very brave to us having arrived in Chile with her friend and bought motorbikes
to tour South America having never had bikes before.  Local host Carla has 2 young children, lived
and was married to a Belgian for many years. 
Her son Thomas, 12, speaks English and seems to enjoy chatting to
us.  Centre of the food is the largest
bread and Steve ends up having the honour of breaking in to it.  He has to hold it in both hands like a baby
with the head facing away from him, must then begin to tear pieces from the
bottom and pass them around before taking one himself.  Around midnight the drink has run out so the
bulk of the group head off to a bar whilst Melissa, Adam and we opt to stay



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