Sometimes you can travel to the other side of the world, only to find that your friend has been there first. You be the judge….
Arriving in Dallas we approached the immigration counter where we were greeted by a most fascinating character, “So where y’all coming to the United States from?” “Mexico” was the simple response in an ever attempt to keep it all short and sweet. “And where y’all goin’ to today?” Again “Las Vegas” was the response. 20 questions later we were admitted into the USA the next stage of our journey. Next stop was going to be Sin City…….
From the window, the urban sprawl of Mexico City appears through the dense cloud. It is not a rain cloud that we break through, but thick pollution. Welcome to Mexico City, the largest city in the world. The wheels screech as the pilot seems to forget that this is a million dollar piece of equipment. I remove the wheel arch from beneath my seat and make my was down the jet way. After the 11 hour layover in Lima Peru and the 6 hour flight, it was nice to finally stretch my legs. The memory of the last two hours of our flight came flooding back as I remind myself to write a politely worded email to Lan Peru. Unsure how to word the email, the starting sentence keeps flashing before my eyes, “Dear Lan Peru, Thank you very much you bastards for giving me food poisoning and making me throw up for two hours solid before landing in Mexico”. Maybe I should just sit on that email for a while. Lan Peru are a subsidiary of Lan Chile, which is probably one of the best airlines I have ever flown, I am not sure what has happened when Lan Chile purchased Lan Peru, however to put it into perspective, it would be like riding an Arab horse then climbing straight onto a three legged donkey. To say that Lan Chile is the Arab horse of South American Airlines and Lan Peru is the Ass of the company is probably the best comparison I can make.
It was time to make our way south via Inca Express, destination Puno, Peru’s gateway to Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the highest body of water in the world and the largest landlocked body of water in South America. As we struggled up the staircase of our hotel, due to Puno’s high altitude, we felt somewhat old. Having to take a break at just about every floor we found our room at what seemed like the top floor of the hotel. It is important to make a note here before you jump to a conclusion that we are still unfit after all our walking, that all hotels in Puno must have oxygen on the premises due to the altitude.
The sky burnt with an orange glow as the sun reflected off the mountain peaks of the Andes. Our view of the Andean sunrise was blocked by the towering mountain spires. It was apparent that somewhere, somehow a god of some sort, be it Incan or not was watching over us today. We made our way to the KM 82 checkpoint, however, something was not quite right. JAYDE’S CAMERA!!!!! After telling the rest of the group to keep walking and a frantic 1 hour search, we finally managed to find Jayde’s camera by fluke. As a porter passed with our duffel bags strapped to his back we just about tackled him as a last ditch effort before filling a police report. Apparently, somehow, Jayde’s camera had managed to roll off the bed and land in one of our duffel bags.
The overnight buses in South America are always an experience. It is often whispered on these buses that if you have not boarded a night bus with “Eternal Flame” blaring from the on-board television system then you have not lived. As our overnight hostess handed out our “night survival kits” we received more than our fair share of strange looks as our group sung at the top of their lungs… “Is this burning, an eternal flame……” Given that most of the group at this point were deliriously tired, it was not long before we are started counting z’s.
From the border in Peru, Sebastian led us to buses down a dark alley way. As we frantically piled 16 backpacks onto the roof looking over our shoulders, a man continually screamed “HELADO, HELADO, HELADO” not 6 feet from were we were standing. Given the temperature was in excess of 35 degrees, the thought of having an ice cream (helado) running down ones arm was not very appealing. We piled into the bus and sweat was running freely, however our decision to not support the local ice cream man was reinforced when the ice cream halved in price for a local, but in the next breath told us the price was twice as much. We happily said goodbye t0 the ice cream man and drove out of Tumbes. Our next stop was to be the Peruvian Immigration office to acquire the necessary paper work to enter Peru.
As our feet touched the tarmac at Quito Airport, we were assaulted with a wall of coldness like that we had experienced more than a week before hand. We were back in mainland Ecuador, where there was minimal blue sky, and the wind coursed across the Andes. It seemed hard to not think of our Galapagos as the pinnacle of our trip given the beauty of both the flora, fauna and people on those islands in the pacific. But we just had to look back at our trip to date and remember the good friends we had made and the extraordinary sites that we had seen to remind us that this was South America, and there will always be places that are unique and beautiful which cannot be compared to anything else.
The ‘Nathan Diary‘ was later used to write the Fulton’s infamous work ‘The Life of Nathan‘ (2055). The excerpt below was taken from the ‘Nathan Diary‘ during the journey around the Galapagos Island’s from the 27th of February 2008 to the 6th of March 2008. Although the exploration that was conducted during this time could never be used in any scientific research, it is hoped that generations to come will look at it for inspiration to rediscover the discovered for themselves.
Today is Monday, and as we sit at the airport waiting for our flight to take us to Santiago Chile, the delay of 4 hours and 15 minutes has given us a chance to look back at the journey so far. Easter Island, or as it is known to the Chileans, Rapa Nui, was a great first stop to ease us into the South American culture. If one was to overlook the high prices, the lack of English speakers and the excess amount of gluten in the local diet the last four days have been a breeze. Overall, we have become better at speaking in Spanish and attempting to negotiate taxi fairs to and from Volcanoes…..