The Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu were the last two big hurrahs of my whole trip. Talk about finishing on a high.
The day after we got back from the hike, we caught up with Gabby, Christina, Karen & Tonya (two sassy chicks from the States) for a breakfast so big it could have fed an African village. We walked it off at the Inka Museum, which is definitely worth seeing if you’re ever over this way.
I wasn’t feeling so flash (plumbing problems) so I went back to the hostel while Shell carried on sight-seeing and squeezing some last minute beanie-buying in.
That night we met up with Karen & Tonya, and a wicked English couple who’d also been on the hike – Jon & Megan for ‘last drinks’ inside an opium den of a bar. We sat on the floor & talked shit for a few hours while working our way through the entire cocktail list. Good times.
Shell & I said our goodbyes very early the next morning. It had been a once-in-a-lifetime experience to share the last 2 weeks with one of my besties. She had done it. She had managed to get me up those big ass hills with her big ass smile. It was nice to know it would be only a matter of days – not months – before I saw her again.
I spent the rest of the day making plans, doing some last minute gift shopping and visited the Art Gallery. Which I wouldn’t bother seeing if you’re ever over this way.
I then got on what must surely be the poshest bus in the world. For 150 sols ($50) you get a seat that reclines to a bed. There is so much room in between the seats it is impossible to kick the seat in front of you. I tried. They give you a blankie and a pillow and a headset. There was a meal & a movie and get this: freaking wi-fi!!! I was a bit hungover from the night before, so I crashed early and got one of the best nights sleep ever. On a bus! In South America!
I woke up in a shithole called Ica. And then got onto a local bus to a place called Huacachina where I’d heard you could go sandboarding down desert dunes. Sanded like a cool lil diversion on the way back up to Lima.
There wasn’t much to do in Haucachina, so I just caught up on some emails, writing and what have you. And then at 4, we met by our dune buggy driver.
He took us up & over the dunes as if he was driving in a demolition derby. On crack. Taking the hills completely airborne. Then crashing down with an almighty thud. And a skidding sideways finish.
It sounds like fun, doesn’t it.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all down with taking risks. I have jumped out of planes. I have dived with sharks. I’m all over that shit.
What I am not down with, is being in sketchy-assed steel death trap with zero safety options that is being driven by a short, fat man with something to prove. We of course, had no helmets. It seemed highly probable I could be tossed out, crack my skull and die. I was so scared, I actually started praying. For the record, I am not religious. By the time we got out, I was shaking like a wil wabbit. I wanted to vomit.
I decided to have a quiet – but firm – word with the short fat man. He looked me up & down, fancied he might have been in with a chance, and reassured me he’d slow it down.
We then spent the next couple of hours sand-boarding down silky smooth slopes just as the subdued sun started setting. I kinda forgot about the crazy dune buggy ride for a while. It was just so surreal & sublime. The colours. The curves. Just stunning.
Now when I say I went sand-boarding, I feel like I should clarify what I mean. Anyone who knows me will testify that I sometimes find walking a challenge. I am notoriously clumsy. But! I did manage to board (on my feet) down the first little baby slope. I also ate an awful lot of sand.
Sand doesn’t taste anywhere as good as snow. Just so you know.
So I took the remainder of the slopes which got increasingly steeper, longer & harder on my belly. Easier. Safer. Much better for everyone. No less sand in your face. Maybe more. I had a wicked afternoon and came home with enough sand in my bits to complete for a world record. And trust me – I’ve had some previous attempts at it J
The next day, I headed straight up to Lima for what would be my last 2 nights in Latin America. Wow. My year of warm summer nights, dancing in the streets & drinks featuring lots of limes was now coming to an end.
My time in Lima ended up being decidedly uneventful.
I got my haircut & my nails done. I did a bit of last minute earring-buying. And I ‘celebrated’ with a few vodka cocktails with a few randoms at the hostel. If you can call it that. To be perfectly honest, my company was a little uninspiring. And I was in a very reflective mood.
I started thinking about all my loved ones who I was able to connect with along the way, mates who lived abroad who I was able to visit in their home towns, new friends I’d made along the way, all who had proffered good times, and folks who I hoped to see again one day.* People are what make places great. I had been very very lucky to have met some absolutely remarkable ones along the way.
I also got to thinking about what I had learnt. Big stuff, small stuff. This isn’t all of it. But it’s a fair whack.
- Clean drinking water should be a right for all. It is, in all reality, a privilege for a few.
- We are very lucky in Australia to have access to such a diverse range of fresh produce.
- “Higiénico sanitarios” doesn’t necessarily translate to reality. Oh, and paper goes in the bin not down the dunny.
- When they’re shouting at you in Rivas, remember that you can always get the next bus.
- Stay if you like. And go if you don’t. You are always free to choose a different road.
- Don’t believe everything you read in the LP or on TripAdvisor. One man’s awesome can be a meat market. While one woman’s 1-star can be simply simple. And authentic. And amazing. Some people have absolutely no idea.
- On that note, ‘real Peruvians’ are everywhere.
- I think country folk tend to be nicer everywhere in the world.
- A little bit of the language & a big smile goes a long way.
- Yo hablo Español! (yo soy retardo, pero peudo hablar un pocito Español)
- You can be true friends with a stranger in an instant.
- And it doesn’t mean you ever have to see each other again.
- Karma is fo’real.
- People are essentially good.
- But ignorant fucks are still everywhere. Some of them are well educated and incredibly well-travelled.
- and to that point – America is not a country, it’s a whole continent. Containing no less than 35 countries. The US of A is just one of them.
- Colombia is not dangerous. No more than Blacktown.
- Men over there can dance!
- And they love my ass. (What’s not to love.)
- I LOVE diving. But in my old age, I am becoming a fair-weather diver.
- What’s the difference between God & a Dive Master? God doesn’t think he’s a Dive Master.
- I’m funny.
- And I make a pretty mean Mojito.
- Apparently I have exceptional taste in music.
- 5 hours sleep is plenty when I’m not stressed.
- I like to write. In fact, this is my 70th post. Which would bring the word count to approximately 100,000 words. Or 2 novels. In just over a year.
- We in the first world waste so much & complain about so much.
- We buy a lot of shit we don’t need with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.
- And we think being busy is a good thing.
- Whilst I have learnt that being still is an even better thing.
- Some of the poorest people I met were the happiest.
- I can highly recommend a daily dose of gratitude.
- I have a lot to be grateful for.
- Time is a luxury but I need to take responsibility for how I manage it.
- I want to spend more time being creative.
- And more time with less people (who matter more).
- I also want to spend more time with my folks. I want them to know me a bit better. And I want to learn what I can from them. While I still have the opportunity.
- Evidently I cannot live without Vegemite.
- And I don’t want to live without laksa. Or blue cheese. (Not together. That would be wrong.)
- It is more difficult to get a good coffee over there, than you would imagine.
- Kindles will never replace the magic of a real book with real pages but they Are. Remarkable. Inventions.
- I need less now than ever before.
- But my list of countries I want to visit keeps getting bigger as opposed to smaller.
- The world is an amazing place.
- The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.
- The Hokey Pokey could just well be what it’s all about.
*Shout out to Leanne, Naomi , Angie & Charlotte (New York). Martin, Faith, Matt, Melissa & Maya (San Fran). Dave & Rita & their crazy crew (Houston). Claire & Christian (Mexico City). Dahlia, Coleena, Jill, Pamela, Rowdy & Chris (Isla Mujeres). Nathan & Sparkles (Belize). Jenn, Shelby, Phil & all the Maximo Nivel crew (Antigua). Skye (Honduras / Nicaragua). Shannon & Queso, Morgan, Kate & their Mammy (Ometepe). My neighbours Flaco & Luis and their families, Steph & Cimba. Pinky, Topless & Curly, Nathan & Josie, and Essex (Little Corn Island). The Bowen brothers (Panama – Colombia). Scott (Colombia). Sammy, Frida, Fernando, Niamh, Marcia, Marc, Big Mike & Nasir (Salento). Michelle (Peru). And all the other incredible human beans I met along the way, who I shared a beer / meal / dance / spliff / bed / conversation / laugh with. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
But final credits must go to the COO (Chief of Opportunities). And the little angel who made sure I didn’t kill myself despite best efforts. Muchisimo gracias!
This is the final post for indygogal.wordpress.com – at least for this trip.
I’m back home in Sydney now, and will be indulging my desire to keep on trucking at my new blog: indygowords
You can expect erratic entries, mad ramblings, marrow & flesh, bad typing, dirty fantasies, made-up answers, music, film & book reviews, personal confessions, and some rollicking good times along the way.
So strap in, sign up & get involved!