Fat Dog in Peru and Ecuador, somehow he winds up in Thailand

Well its been a long while since I last wrote. Next time I go travelling I am gong to take a secretary with me to chronicle my travels and watch my belongings. Luckily for me laziness is a double edged sword - I haven't written for a huge amount of time but I haven't done a huge amount of travelling either. In my mind there are 3 types of travelling:

1. Pretty Trvelling - This is where you go to places and say, "Mmm, this is very pretty."

2. Activity Travelling - This is where you approach people in places and say, "Can I give you some money to jump off a bridge / jump out of your plane / ride your horse"

3. Wreck-Up Travelling - This is where you go to places and swap your money for alcohol or drugs.

In general travelling should be a mix of the three but luckily for me (in writing this email) staying in Cuzco for a month and Buenos Airesfor 2 1/2 months means that I have been doing lots of type 3 travelling which doen't make terribly interesting subject matter. I gave up writing a diary ages ago so this is tediously long and I only expect people who are working will read it. Anyway back to the subject - stuff that I have been doing while I am on holiday for an extremely long time. At the end of the last episode I was trapped in the middle of some sand dunes with a huge pink and green monster chasing me. After shooting my way out of that situation I caught a bus to Cuzco.

Cuzco was the Inca capital and has unfortunately undergone the same fate as any other town in a realtively poor country with lots of tourists. It is full of people, shops, restaurants, drug dealers etc trying to get you to part with your money in any way possible. You used to be able to do the Inca Trail yourself for nothing except the cost of hiring your equiptment and maps. Nowadays the minimum your looking at paying is around $150. I paid up my $150 and set off on my 4 days of walking up and down steps with the 1000 other gringos starting that day. When it came to eating on the first night we discovered that our company had forgotten our dining tent so while all the other tour groups were chatting and eating and chilling late into the night we scoffed our meals in subzero teperatures. Everyone else went off to bed while I introduced some of the porters to the joys of smoking weed. Half way through the second day we reached the highest point on the trek and I decided to celebrate and smoke a spliff. I soon discovered that walking downhill stoned is actually harder than walking uphill straight. On the last day we awoke at about 3:00 to be able to see Macchu Picchu at sunrise. Luckily for me I had lost my ticket and so spent the sunrise arguing and eventually had to pay up $25 for another ticket anyway. Macchu Picchu was obviously very impressive. Later that day I lost my fourth Maglite of the trip.

I finally tore myself away from Cuzco after losing my fifth Maglite and caught a bus to Puno in the south of Peru. I went out to see some reed islands about an hour away from the shore. I'm sure before the advent of tourism they would have been quite interesting to visit but now they are more like floating souvenir stalls. After this I caught a bus that I thought would take me to Copocabana, not the Copacabana made famous by Barry Manilow, but a little tourist town in the north of Bolivia. Unfortunaltely for me, the governments of Peru and Bolivia had decided to put a border between their countries. I tried entering Bolivia without an exit stamp from Peru but they wouldn't let me so I had to go back to Peru and pay them lots of money for overstaying my visa. While walking backwards and forwards between Peru and
Bolivia the bus driver called me over gave me my bags and left without me. Once I reached Copacabana I went to visit an island which was big enough to have lots of areas relatively unspoilt by buildings or people trying to sell stuff to you. I left Copocabana and made my way down to La Paz, the governmental capital of Bolivia. Apparetly dead decomposing llamas foetuses are good luck in Bolivia and therefore there is no shortage of stalls selling them on the streets. Bolivia only seems to be the peopled by indginenous women with very large behinds wearing fake Tommy Hilfiger hats.

I didn't stay in La Paz for long but caught what I thought would be a reasonably painless bus ride to Uyuni. 14 hours on a bus was nothing I thought. I was now an expert at sleeping with my knees virtually touching my chin while large women snore and fart all round me. The roads in Peru were bad but at least the unpaved roads are sort of flat there. In Bolivia you have no such luck. Add to this the fact that there was no heating, the suspension on the bus was shot and we had seats right at the back and so you end up with a sensation similar to what it might be like to sit in a large freezer with a pneumatic drill up your ass for 14 hours (not that I would know as I have never tried sticking a pneumatic drill up my ass (yeah right - ed)).

Uyuni is a freezing little town where you need to go to get access to the Salars de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world. These were very big and white and absolutely stunnning.

The road from La Paz to Coroico is supposedly the most dangerous road in the world. The government actually managed to get the money together to build an alternative route however by the time they had finished building it in two sections
either side of a mountain and went to build a tunnel someone had already stolen the rest of the money. This seems to be how Bolivian politics works. I took my first journey down "the most dangerous road in the world" on a bike. What makes it quite scary is that you have to ride down the road on the left side (next to the sheer drop), stopping in time to give the big trucks space to drive past you. The road is lined with gravestones of the people that have falllen off.

The following day I went to see the prison. It is not really a prison in the normal sense of the word in that the only contact that the prisoners with the police is the count to check that all the prisoners are there at 07:00. Some stupid tourists even
purchase coke inside the prison. Cells are all different and are purchased at the beginning of the prisoner's stay. The cheapest cells are about $100 and the most expensivew about $10,000 complete with cellphone, cable tv and computer. It
seemed like the rest of La Paz except that its residents had a smaller area to move around in. Their families were also allowed to live there as well. Our guide then went of on a rant about how they whip rapists with a bit of high tension cable when they arrive. By this time in the tour I was starting to loose concentration as I had just been to the doctor who had ripped out one of my toenatils and the anaesthetic was starting to wear off. Our guide saw I looked pale and offered to take me to the prison infirmary which didn't sound very inviting. All my energies for the rest of the tour were focused in trying not to faint .

The next day I was headed back down the road to Coroico for the third time and awoke to find the front page of the newspapers covered in images of the bus that had gone of the road yesterday killing its passengers. Luckily fate shined on me that day. I arrived in a picturesque little jungle town and went off to the jungle for a few days then of to the wetland to go and play with crocodiles and anacondas. I was innocently standing, looking at one of the anacondas when my subconcious tapped me on the shoulder and said "You must kick the big scary snake". This seemed like a good idea but just as my brain was about to engage my leg it lunged at all of us. "Why did you want to do that", I said to my subconcious. "It seemed like a good idea at the time", it replied, "but next time poke the animals with a stick".

After going to the jungle for 3 days I decided that I actually wanted to go trekking into the deep jungle rather than just the little bit by the river where the tourists are taken. When we started out we had to carry food for 6 days, our mossie nets, sheets, sleeping bags, our clothes and 6 litres of water which meant that our packs weighed a ton. This was hard enough on the first day but on the second day we left the trail we were on and ended up walking uphill through dense jungle. The place we chose to camp that night was infested with huge ants (maybe because our guide wasn't incredibly experienced, he was only 19) who had a habit of climbing into your hair and biting your head if you weren't careful. Apparently you can use them as stitches as well, clampling them onto your wounds and then pulling off their bodies. After we had got into our mossie nets that night I was shining my torch around looking for my trusty DEET and noticed that there was a poisonous spider the size of a small plate outside my net. I'm not sure if it was because I was quite stoned but it was v scary at the time, especially seeing as we were 2 two days walk from any medical help. I realised that it was the first time I had been so far away from the safety net of society. You really get a sense in the jungle of how the world isn't ours. As soon as you make camp the jungle starts trying to encroach on you. The next day was my lucky day. A huge log fell on my head, I fell on to a tree covered on thorns and I got lots of fire ants on my hands. We spent the last couple of days in an indigenous village (if you can call it a village - there was only one family living there). It was extremely relaxing there but the people were incredibly shy as they never saw anybody. The nearest big river was about 4 hours walk away. They had a jungle chicken for a pet. It was a a bit like a cross between a goldfish and a dog, but had blue legs and laid blue eggs every day in July.

Having staisfied my Indiana Jones urges I caught a bus back to La Paz. The bus stopped and I thought that it was to replace the customary flat tyre but the driver had actually manged to destroy the drive shaft of the bus and I thought that we were going to be there until the next day. Luckily a couple of hours later another bus appeared and carried me safely through my final journey up the dodgy road.

Eventually I arrived in Potosi, supoosedly the highest town of its size in the world, after having briefly stopped in La Paz and Cochabamba for a few days. I went to visit the silver mines where the Spanish garnered much of their colonial wealth. They were government mines until recently but now they are run as cooperatives by the miners themselves. The miners work in medieval conditions. I saw one carrying a 60kg bag of rocks from the depths of the mine where the temperatures are about 40deg. Apparently the youngest miner working at the moment is 13. The air is full of dust and it is virtually impossible to move in some places. There is a shop where you can purchase presents for the miners such as dynamite, coca cigarettes, coca leaves and 96% alcohol. It seems like the coca and the alcohol are the only things
which really keep the miners going. That night I went to bed and found a tick from the jungle in my back. It must have been there a week which was pretty sick.

My next destination was Tupiza, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid country. Went on a horse ride and pretended to be a cowboy for a bit. The horse threw me onto the ground and broke its foot in the process so then I get given a psycho
horse. Spent the next few hours holding on for dear life while the horse galloped through lots of big cactuses and rock formations.

Left Tupiza and crossed into Argentina with no hassles for the first time in 3 borders. Spent one night in Salta as I was in a huge hurry to get to Buenos Aires as I thought that I only had enough time to spend a couple of weeks there. Not much to say about Bs As really except that it is an amazing city and if you can go there soon while it is still so cheap, do. No one listens to drum and bass there so managed to convince people that I was a psytrance dj and played in a few clubs there. Went and saw some whales, they were very big. Went and saw the Iguazu Falls, the biggest waterfalls in the world, there was a lot of water and they were also very big.

After spending a large amount in Buenos Aires doing nothing I decided that I wanted to be on a Thai island for my birthday so flew from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chile, took another plane from Santiago de Chile to Sydney stopping of in Auckland, spent the day in Sydney, took a picture of the Syndney Opera House, flew from Sydney to Singapore, spent the day in Singapore, bought some cheap electrical goods, took the train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, spent the day in KL, saw a big cave, took the train from KL to Thailand and then over to Ko Samui. After crossing 7 countries and 3 continents in 5 days to get there I felt like I was in an episode of "Ibiza Uncovered", oh well. So now here I am in Bangkok surrounded whores and ladyboys and am off to Combodia in a couple of

More of Fat Dog's adventures here

Posted on Thursday, June 8, 2006 at 18:08 by Registered CommenterJam | CommentsPost a Comment