Adios Amigos!

Thank you for reading our blog!

We’ve left South America with so many fond memories.

We’ve packed our bags again and are attempting to travel back to New Zealand without flying. We have a new blog (which we will hopefully update more frequently) so track our travels home at www.twoflightlessbirds.wordpress.com.

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New York: ‘I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep’

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Two vagabonds, one with no shoes, we arrived in NY. I don’t think I’ve ever been more pleased to hear the English language, 8 months of concentrating on what I was saying was quite taxing, but I now realise that most of what people say in public is just a load of rubbish. Chinatown was our new home and Little Italy our dinning location for our first meal out. Time Square and shopping at midnight, Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park for ice creams, Harlem for a burger, the Staten Island ferry and to see the big lady and a walk around (getting lost) in lower Manhattan. A game at Yankees Stadium, thanks to the staff for accepting our Peruvian produced $20 bill. No win or corporate box for Rach this year but armed with beer in Yankees cups it was still a great night out. “Boston Suxs, the Met’s suck, everybody suxs” YANKEES!

Our trip to the Airport was made interesting thanks to a little help from ASB cancelling my credit card and leaving us with no money trapped in the metro. Apparently someone at some point fraudulently used an ASB card there so using mine there caused it to be blocked, thanks! Forget the fact that we had been using it for the past three days with no problems. We made it thanks to a NZ post pressie card (thanks ACC going away present).

Goodbye travels hello real life!

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Colombia: Cruising around the Caribbean

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To explore the Colombian slice of the Caribbean we based ourselves in Cartagena, and what a spot! So beautiful – The buildings, the people, the food, and all the colour!

We visited Playa Blanca – Catching a bus that broke down multiple times, eating ice blocks and fresh prawns, sleeping on the beach in our hammocks, amazing sunsets and countless swims. We met up with Karla and visited Tayrona National Park – more swims, more walks and a mud bath. Then stayed on at a nearby town doing much the same and swimming in phosphorescence!

Then it was back to Bogota to get ready for the trip to the UK.

 

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Colombia: Colombia is passion, or so they say!

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Bogota: Part 1

Off the Amazon into a modern city, the contrast is amazing! Street food, chorizo, hotdogs and aromatica (honey, herbs, hotwater and rum for an extra 1000 pesos). The streets of Bogota were alive with life when we arrived. Feels like being in Argentina again, but with a more Caribbean feel to the people. Our first stay in the city we just ambled around taking in the sights and enjoying the comforts of being off the river. This is one of our favourite cities to date, it just has a really up beat vibe.

We even had the stereotypical pleasure of being part of a riot. We didn’t realise it was Labour Day, so we headed for the main plaza only to be greeted by homemade explosives and a massive demonstration. The whole city was covered in police in riot gear and protestors marching down the street. After some advice from the locals to stand back, we retired to a safer vantage point away from the main point of the protest. A local man told us to stand away from the police (this is the most dangerous spot), he also suggested we get a coffee and watch. Colombian people are the friendliest people we had met to date, always up for a chat. We took his advice got a coffee from a street vendor and watched the show, it only took a few minutes for the show to come to us though. A few local kids threw a homemade explosive at the police from behind and then ran in our direction, before we knew it the police were firing tear gas at us and turning the water cannons on the crowd. In a bit of a panic we joined the crowd and ran as fast as we could in the other direction. After that morning of excitement we retired to the hostel, only to be told by a local tourism lady that this happens every year and it will be over by 1pm. She was right and by 2pm you wouldn’t know anything had happened. Just another day in Bogota.

Bogota: Part 2
After returning from Cartagena and the Caribbean the end of our trip is drawing near. We decided to visit a few muesos and a the underground cathedral on just out of town. It was pretty cool but at this point we are a little desensitised to the amazing so we just wandered around this massive awe inspiring place a little apathetically. Still very cool and probably the only time were going to get to visit a cathedral 180 metres underground. We celebrated Rach’s birthday and reminisced about the trip in our favourite La Candelaria bar.

The taxi to the plane, plane to Orlando, then to NY city.

Adios South America, you have set the bar high for the rest of the world to live up to.

Steve Bird

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The Amazon: Amazing on and on and on

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A wee trip down the Amazon! Our plan was to travel from Coca, Ecuador down the Rio Napo then the Amazon until the point where Peru, Colombia and Brasil meet.  There were varying opinions about whether this was possible. But armed with our little map (found in the link below), we decided with more time than money, our best bet was to give it a go!

http://www.hobotraveler.com/053napomap.php

Initially, things fell into place pretty easily for us. When we were wondering where on earth to buy hammocks and rope for the boat, the hammock vendor walked by. When we wandered into the information centre, a couple were booking an Amazon tour and said we could head to our first stop on the river, Nuevo Rocafuerte, with them. On the boat, we met a fellow traveller, Oli with who we were to share many good times and chats with. When we left Nuevo Rocafuerte to cross the border into Pantoja on a peke peke, our passports were stamped by a Samuel L Jackson lookalike!

In Pantoja, we met four other travelers who looked a little down cast as they were having very little luck in finding a boat from Pantoja down the river to the next major town or Iquitos. We got our passports stamped (not after drawing elaborate maps of New Zealand and the world) at the local restaurant and enjoyed a nice cool beer as the sun set over the river while Oli got chatting with the whole village. By the time we had finished our beer, he had found an oil boat that was willing to take us to the next town, loaded with deliveries for people in the village we set off for Santa Clotilde at 5am the next morning.

A boat was leaving Santa Clotilde about three days later, which was the perfect amount of time for us to deliver the parcels, explore the town and relax. The boat to Iquitos was ominously named Titanic VI. We did this in May when the rivers were high which meant that the trip was faster, but it still took two very looooooong days. Sometimes looking back I wonder how we remained so calm with the crowded conditions, animals on board, and surviving on bread and oranges. But we made it in time for Easter in Iquitos and it was plain sailing (well almost) from Iquitos to Leticia.

Note: If you are planning on doing this trip, get in touch and we will give you what advice we can!

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Ecuador: ‘LA PLAYA’

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We cruised into Guayaquil on Cruz del Sur. What a dream – The best bus trip of the entire trip! Not much to write home about here – A walk around town and giant beer from a diary. Puerto Lopez delivered sun, sand and a sleepy fishing village. We had a nice hostel opposite the beach. Really enjoyed being back at sea level and being able to swim again and being hot for that matter. All mountained out we decided to skip Ecuador’s Andes and stick to the beach. We head up the coast to Manta, close to the home of the Panama hat (actual name Montechristi) but has little else going for it, just a city and a bit expensive. Things that used to be one sole are now one dollar, damn US dollar being the local currency. Still loving the sun we decide to keep heading up the coast to Canoa another little beach town.

At this point reality hit us. We realised that we had to book our flight to Edinburgh. We had been blissfully traveling with out an end date for four odd months and now the time had come to book our flights. With chocolate danishes to cheer us up we booked our flights via New York. Feeling down we headed back to our hostel for a beer on the roof and to watch the sunset. We got to talking to the owners and once they found out we were going to Edinburgh they got really excited and started telling us about when they lived there and how much they loved it. Meant to be, I think so, we spent the next week and a bit hanging out with our new friends Lorena and Diego, going to their favourite restaurants and watching the sunsets from the roof of the hostel. If you are ever in Canoa or Ecuador for that matter you have to stay at their hostel. www.amalurcanoa.com.The sunsets here were the most amazing I have ever seen, every night was different, the colours were dazzling and for some reason you could stare at them without hurting your eyes, maybe because we were basically staying on the equator, I don’t know. Armed with a list of things to do in Edinburgh and a list of prospective friends we hit the road for Quito.

Set atop the Andes, Quito is supposed to be the most amazing of all South American cities. Sadly it didn’t live up to it’s billing. Nice and a cool city it lacked a little old world charm some other cities had and didn’t match the architecture of Cuzco or Buenos Aires. Maybe it was just us being cynical because we missed the beach swimming every day. The big plus about Quito was that we got to travel to the centre of the world, sweet. After a long public bus trip (too cheap for tours) we arrived at the site (the actual centre of the world is 2km away but close enough). Now we were at the centre of the earth we did what all normal people would do, we jumped from one hemisphere to another and then stood in both at the same time, good times. Rach weighed herself, four kgs lighter. Interesting fact you are lighter the closer you are to the equator. A girl weighed herself after Rach and found out that she was heavier than when she left, she said the scales were wrong, but we know that she just put on a lot of weight since she left, truth hurts sometimes.

Next stop Coca and the Amazon.

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Peru: The North

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After nearly two months at altitude, we were craving sea level so sun hopped our way up the coast of Peru!

A well timed stop saw us in Lunahuana in time for their annual harvest festival. We joined the locals in the grape parade, sampled some grapes and numerous variations of pisco sours! Then it was onto Huachachina, a desert oasis, for some sand dune climbing and lazing by the pool.

We were pretty relaxed by the time we got to Lima! We were given elaborate directions to the local market by the hostel owner to find the best ceviche in town. The ceviche we tried was made from raw fresh fish, marinated in lime juice, red onions and chillies, then topped with fried corn. It was pretty much flying out of the the bowl as soon as the chefs had prepared it. Absolutely delicious!

From Lima, we headed to Huaraz (against the advice of the locals as the mountain towns are very dangerous) to do the Santa Cruz Trek – a five day trek over the Andes with a peak of 4,750m.

Although we love it, trekking is not our (well my) forte! We were putting up the tent in the dark, in bucketing rain and no doubt arguing when the forest rangers stumbled upon us and said we could stay in their cabin for the night. What a treat! They made us soup and hot chips and the hip flask of rum we had brought with us was a well received gift as we sat by the fire chatting.

The rangers walk the five day trek in a day so they set us off late the next morning with lots of confidence that we would make it over the pass and to the next campsite in a matter of hours. Two days later we arrived at the next campsite after camping half way up the pass, Steve peeing around the little battered tent to protect us from wild animals and refusing to let me pee within 100m of the tent, a snow storm, the path and markers being so covered in snow we had to follow donkey footprints up the pass, making it to the top of the pass and finding the view completely obscured by mist and snow!

But the sun was beginning to shine, our belongings drying and we chatted with other travelers in their ‘lounge’ tent who were probably all the while wondering how we managed to get out of bed each morning, let alone do a five day trek without a guide and two donkeys.

But we managed! Well worth the effort! Our five day treks have been put on hold for awhile as we focus on more sun, sand and ceviche in Huanchaco (against the advice of the locals as the seaside towns are very dangerous)!

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