Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Where to start.

Ok, so after the San Pedro we had a couple of days to relax and prepare our bodies for another kicking. The first day I spent mainly sleeping and the second day, me and Maggie (the American girl) grabbed a taxi to these lakes near by and sat around chatting and looking at the cool views. There was this little girl and her mate that were out hurding sheep and the girl came over to chat with us. At first we figured she could speak spanish as she seemed to be able to answer all our questions. Then it seemed as though her answer to all the questions was always Si (yes) so I asked her in spanish if she knew barak obama and she said si. Turns out she didn't know spanish!

So the day of the ceremony we were alowed to eat breakfast, but no dairy products. At this stage all this dieting stuff was getting to be a bit of a bind, no caffine, drugs, alcohol, dairy, meat, Arrrgh! But checking my waist line today, I have lost a shit tonne of weight and I can actually see my abs again for the first time since the kung fu camp :-)

We met at Javiers house at 12 and discovered that there would be 8 of us on the course, the 4 from San Pedro plus a couple of first timers and a couple of girls who had done Ayawaska a few times. We spent the rest of the day until the ceremony relaxing, reading, listing to music, meditating and doing some breathing exersizes to relax our bodies and focus our minds (sound like yoda don't I?!).

Then we all headed to the temple which was essentially a circular room with glass ceiling with two toillets. It was purose built for these ceremonies as the floor was wooden for easy clear up. Without getting to graffic, your body sees Ayahuasca as a poisin and once you consume it your body tries to purge it out from the top and bottom. So everyone was armed with a bucket and everyone needed it. As with San Pedro, the cereomny started with Javier performing some chants and blessing us with tobacco smoke. Then we each took it in turns to put our intentions into the cup of medicene. My intentions, that San Pedro had raised, was not to be scared to love again for fear of rejection. So I drank the medicene and it tasted like a cross between fairy liquid and red wine. Disguisting! So everyone started taking their own journeys inside themselve and I laid there and physically felt the medicene land on my brain like a space ship then slowley slice open my chest and fill all my organs. Then after I was sick (along with the entire room in beautiful chorus!) I laid there and enjoyed the process. For me, I only had one message that came out, which was a premonition of holding my own baby in my arms with a loved one. I was really suprised to have that as the concept of having kids is the last thing on my to do list at the moment! But I suppose Ayahuasca is made to bring up deeply buried issues and desires to the for so I took it as a nice image. The rest of the process for me was spent seeing cool visuals and exploring strange lands.

One of the other guys, who's first time it was, had a really bad time processing the medicine. He was thrashing out, kicking walls, screaming and even bit the shamen when he tried to calm him down! All this commosion was really distracting and kind of sobered me up.

The following morning we all sat around and discussed all the messages and visions we'd seen and it was fascinating to find out what everyone else had experienced.

And now I feel great. Really fired up to head back to England with clear direction of what I want to do next. As for this blog, this is probably my penultimate entry as I only have a week left. My last entry will probably be a complete overview of the highlights from the year so watch this space fans.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

San Pedro

If you didn't know, San Pedro is a hallucinogenic cactus that grows in the jungle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinopsis_pachanoi). It's been used as a medicinal drug for curing physical and phycological issues for centuries and recently it's becoming more and more popular for gringos travelling in South America to join in with the ceremonies. Now in preparation for this one must be abstinent from alcohol, recreational drugs, sex, caffeine and red meat for at least 3 days preferably more. So I'd been keeping to that  for 5 days then met with Javier, the Shaman who would conduct the ceremony. He's an immediately likable person who is very calm and seems trustworthy. Which is a necessity as you basically become a babbling stumbling idiot for 12 hours solid so it's important to have a good shaman. Basically the point of the shaman is they channel your thought process and get you to ask appropriate questions about yourself so that you can delve into your past and process all the bad experiences you've had in a positive way.

Ok, so the day of the ritual we met at 8am on an empty stomach. The other 3 people on the group were:

Maggie - A 29 year old girl from the states who was working and travelling in South America.
Laurie - A 45 year old woman from the states who had a lovely soft southern accent.
Brian - Laurie's husband. A 6.2 huge bloke who had a real gentle giant presence about him.

The important thing to note here is that all 4 of us were pretty run of the mill people, not hippies in the slightest way and no woolly lama fleece or shitty backpacker pyjama style trousers in site. the 4 of us and Javier walked for about 15 minutes to this spot by a river facing a big mountain. It was just outside of the tree line so that we would be in shade for most of the day and it was in a valley so that at certain points wind would gust through making the whole experience epic.

Ok, so I've been toying with how much detail to go into here as San Pedro makes you process all sorts of emotional issues you've had in the past. At the start of the ceremony you're asked to put your intentions into the cup before you drink the medicine. My intentions were to find clarity for what I wanted to do after I finish travelling as I have about 4/5 options for where I want to work. As it turns out, my intentions were answered in a different way than I expected. We all sat around in a circle facing Javier while he placed some objects around him and blew tobacco smoke over our head and hands. Then we took it in turns to drink the San Pedro, which tastes fucking gross! It was really cold as the sun hadn't passed the tree line so I headed up to the hill a bit to the dirt road to get some sun. Then while I was waiting for the stuff to kick in I decided to listen to a song on my ipod. Javier came over and asked what I was listening to (he had said before the ceremony that we should listen to music in moderation) so I told him Madonna, the power of goodbye. If you haven't hear the song its got a really nice melody and is kind of trippy for getting high to.I also told Javier that I was really cold so he suggested taking a walk for15 minutes then if I wanted to I could take more San Pedro if I wasn't feeling the effects.

After the walk I went back to my rug and was starting to feel the effects. I took a walk to the river and looked out to the other back where a Peruvian guy was moving some rocks around. Out of nowhere, Javier snuck up and said "they-re just rolling stones" at which point I started to giggle and I knew I was feeling the effects. So I laid down on my rug and started to think about things. He had said that usually peoples issues stem back to their parents so I started there. I thought about my dad and couldnt find any ill feeling there. Whatever there had been has clearly now all been sorted. Then I thought about my mum and it was nothing but positive feelings. Then I thought about my ex Hayley. I started to dwell on that, after all its because of her that I'm travelling. then I started to think of the good times we shared, particularly when we sat on a chair lift in Austria while skiing and singing billy Joel piano man together. Then I cried. I curled up into the fettle position and cried for about 5 minutes. Then I started to smell tobacco smoke and I knew that Javier was standing over me, kind of protecting me from myself. Then I realised that of all the moments we shared they were never truly perfect. And I found a lot of comfort in that.

Then I laid back, looked up and looked in front. Out of nowhere, there was a cow laying in front of me with a cactus stuck in its side. The irony of seeing a cactus stuck in a cow while I was high on cactus was hilarious to me. I started historically laughing! then I looked further up and there was a whole herd of cows on the distance, two of which were fucking. and I laughed for a while before realising that maybe the cactus was hurting the cow. Then Javier came over to have a chat and I told him about the cactus. He very calmly went over to the cow and took the cactus from its fur. like a boss. Then I looked up at the mountain and I could see leeshus (my puma) face looking at me which was nice. Then I had a bunch of other revelations mainly about my personality and love. And all of a sudden it became clear what I wanted to do next. But I wont go into details here in case the wrong people read this!

At sun set we all sat in a circle again around Javier and he performed the closing ceremony. This basically involved him singing a song and thanking all the plants, mountains, spirits etc for helping us today. Then we took a walk back to his house which was a lot of effort as the San Pedro was still in effect. Maggie was struggling a bit as she felt nauseous. I chatted a bit to the couple who said that they both took more medicine when they were offered. Brian, who was sick after taking the second batch, very much regretted that decision!

We all sat around and ate dinner at Javier's house, which is one of the coolest houses Ive ever been in. The building itself was in the shape of a bird and inside it was all open plan with crazy paintings, two disco balls and disco lights. It was kind of tribal meets art meets gay. But he had pulled it off well. So for dinner we had soup and carrot cake. Brian was really struggling with an upset stomach but the other three of us felt great. In fact, Laurie was fucking hilarious. The meal was like the mad hatters tea party, Javier was playing dad constantly asking us to concentrate and eat our soup, Laurie and Maggie were struggling with the effort of putting a spoon full of soup into their mouths and I was cramming bread into my mouth. Then Laurie made me laugh and I sprayed bread crumbs all over the table which Laurie said looked like confetti! After the soup we were offered carrot cake and I was the only person who was eating it. I have no idea why the others didn't want to eat it, it tasted lush and I knew that the sugar would help sober us up. Then sat and watched the disco ball make crazy shapes on the roof. Then after Javier had cleared up the table we went outside to look at the full moon light up the mountains and watch the stars. Then I saw a shooting star (I think the first Ive seen) which was cool. Then we went through to look at the temple which was essentially a building with a glass roof that acted like a green house so was really warm and cosy. We all then sat and asked questions about the up coming ayahuaska ceremony (Brian had taken himself to bed at this stage). Maggie and I slept in the temple and the following morning we all sat around and discussed our experiences.

So that was San Pedro for me. Apparently you can buy the stuff in the UK over the net but I certainly would not recommend or will be doing that as you really need a shaman with you too keep everything in check. For me, I think this will be a one off experience, however tomorrow I'm taking Ayawaska. Apparently its much stronger but lasts for much shorter time and the point of the Ayawaska is to face the issues that San Pedro brings up and to put them behind you.

Wish me luck....

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Matchu Pitchu

Trully one of the 7 wonders of the world. Stayed in Aguas Calliente (hot water) the night before having been given told about the hostel by a guy who works there who cycled past us on a bike. Just a quick overview of the costs involved in matchu Pitchu:

Option 1: Expensive and lazy (how most old people do it):
Bus from cuzco to Ollantaytambo = 5 Dollars
Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas calliente = 60 dollars
Hotel booked in advance = 30 to 600 dollars
Gringo Meal = 10 dollars
Bus up the mountain = 9 dollars
Entry to Matchu Pitch = 58 dollars
Bus down the mountain = 9 dollars
Train from Aguas calliente to Ollantaytambo = 60 dollars
Bus from Ollantaytambo to cuzco = 5 Dollars
Total = 246 dollars

Option 2: Inca Trail
4 days hiking and camping, circa 450 dollars all in

Option 3: Jungle trail
 4 days  hiking and camping  150 - 200 dollars (depending on how good you bargain)
Optional extra of rafting and zip lining + 30 dollars

The way we did it in 3 days:
Bus from cuzco to Pino = 2 dollars
Menu del dia in Pino = 2 dollars
Bus from Pino to urubamba = 1 dollar
Taxi to Maras = 1 dollar (we snuck in the back way so didnt pay to get in!)
Taxi back to urubamba = 1 dollar
Bus to Ollantaytambo = 1 dollar
1 night in a budget but great dorm in Ollantaytambo = 5 dollars
AMAZING 2 course Menu Del dia in Ollantaytambo = 2 dollars
Return bus we booked in cuzco from Ollantaytambo to Aguas then from Aguas to Cuzco = 32 dollars
Walked next to the 15 dollar train tracks = free
1 night in Aguas = 5 dollars
Bus up the mountain (lazy, could have walked!) 9 dollars
Entry to Matchu Pitchu = 58 dollars
Bus down the mountain (lazy, could have walked!) 9 dollars
Walked next to the 15 dollar train tracks = free
Couple of meals on the way back = 4 dollars
Total = 132 dollars

So in the end we beat the system and had a cracking adventure on route. Oh you wanna know about Matchu Pitchu? have a look at my photos on facebook, although it doesnt entirely do it justice it is trully magnificent. Better than the Taj, better than Angkor Wat, better than the oprah house, better than most things Ive seen.

And while I was up Winna Pitchu (the mountain next to Matchu Pitchu that gives you a view from the other side) I managed to find a quiet little spot away from the crowds. I sat there with tiggs next to me and realised that this magnificent site marks an end to an epic years journey. And I sat there, for about 10 minutes, no photos, no talking and just soaked it in. And its moments like that one that define a trip like this. This was the view as I sat there:

Ok, so tiggs may have learnt how to photo bomb!

So just 2 weeks left folks, just Ayawaska and a weekend on the raz in Lima to go. This is probably one of the last entrys so thanks for reading and for all your feedback.

Wish me luck with this voodoo crap.....

The Sacred Valley

While the three of us (Nat Gareth and Me) were in cuzco we+d looked at loads of options for how to do Matchu Pitchu. Originally my plan was to do a jungle trek (4 days) which would have possibly been slightly more cost effective but not by a lot and I wouldnt have got to see the sacred valley as the whole time would have been spent walking with one day of cycling. I have also got to the stage now where organised tours are starting to get on my tits. So after much deliberation we decided to spend the first day making our own way to Pisac (which was good for me as thats where I needed to go next so I could drop off my big bag there). We arrived there and headed off to see my Shamen Javier. Unfortunately Javier wasnt there so Im meeting him later today. I really hope he isnt a total nutter, I just watched a video of an american guy who does Ayawaska in Cusco (for half the price) but he just looks like a spaced out wanker. A girl here at reception says that shes heard that Javier isnt a very good shamen but shes never been to him and as she rates this american nutter, having done ayawaska with him, im going to take the tour guide I met in La Paz opinion over hers. I dont know if I mentioned it yet but I got told by about this shamen from an Aussie guy called Mark who did my death road bike tour in La Paz. mark was in his late 30s and a really interesting charecter. He told me how his life in australia was really stressfull because he would get really frustrated with Australian polotics, specifically going to war with America, so he decided he needed a break, sold up everything has been travelling and working ever since. He said that since hes been away he hasnt had time, or hasnt wanted to, keep in touch with polotics and has disconected from media. I totally agree with this line of thought, whats the point of watching the news, you only get a twisted view of something you cant controll anyway. 

I digresss. So anyway, on arrival in Pisac I went to leave my bag at the place that is just down the road from Javiers ritual centre as Javier said on his website that it was a good place for budget travellers at 30 sols a night (4 sols to a pound). On arrival there the lady who worked there told me that those prices were 7 years out of date and it was now 59 sol a night. 15 fucking pounds for a room, no internet, no breakfast, nothing. The only USP she offered was that it was quite and out of town, which I saw a down point because it was 20 minutes walk to the shops! So I sacked her off and found a place for a meger 20 sols a night saving myself 40 pounds for my time in Pisac. Winner! Then we grabbed a bus to urabamba and from there took a taxi to see Maras, essentially a salt mine in the mountain. Ill get some photos put on FB when I figure out a good way to get them from my phone. As it stands I can only upload them one at a time to my mobile uploads folder and I want to have a specific peru folder. Heres something I nicked from google images:

So this salt mine was pretty cool and we met a couple who were cycling from Mexico to Argentina. They had been on the road for 3 months and had another 3 left. Pretty damn cool way of doing it I thought, but Id defo do it on a motorbike if it were me. 

We were kind of running out of time so couldnt see moray, but we met some german trainee doctors (I just keep bumping into german doctors!) who showed us some photos and it didnt look all that. Then we took a bus to Ollantaytambo (try saying that 10 times fast!) where we met a pretty cool lady who had a hostel in town. It was pretty new and shed done a crackingt job with the rooms and comunial area, and even had some genuine duvets! (duvets are a real rarety in South America so i get very excited when I get them in a hostel). She showed us the surrounding hills and pointed out all the inca ruins and honestely it looked really impressive. Yoink:

This lady was from hartfordshire and decided to sell up her house and hit the states. From there she met someone who she travelled to Peru with (who annoyed the tits off her so she ditched him) and is now shacked up with the hostel owner. So the hostel owners familly has some land that she is wanting to invest in so that she can build her own healing centre, which is what she did back in England. Shes sold her house back in England so has the money in the bank. Did I say land? I meant to say an entire fucking valley with the surrounding mountains and a river! This blew my mind, most people save up to buy a car or a flat, she was buying an entire valley! 

So unfortunately we only had one night in Ollantaytambo so we got up early to see some of the surrounding ruins but didnt get to see the Wall of the Six Monoliths which Id seen a documentary on and is basically 6 massive stones that some people think were made by aliens because there is no way that the Incas had the technology to move or cut these stones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ollantaytambo_Monolithen.jpg

Such an informative blog entry this one. You can tell Ive been fillin up on culture and havent had a drop of alcohol since Friday! After seeing some sights we waited for our organised bus to pick us up. Do you know what, Im not going to rant for ages about the journey to and from Matchu Pithcu, basically they fully bodged the job and added a whole heap of stress and confusion to our journey. So today I went to the office and calmly articulated my dissatisfacyion with the tour, got compensation money for an additional taxi ride we had to get and walked away feeeling very pleased with myself. I hate complaining as I either cant be bothered with the agro or lose my shit and end up shouting and swearing but this time I felt I got my point across very well :-)

Right, off to get a menu del dia for a quid then Ill write about the mighty matchu pitchu.....

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Right, cuzco is the balls. Seriously, such a great city, it's got a great buzz about it, the arcitecture is awsome and although there is people selling you stuff everywhere, the plus side is you can get whatever you need. I had a quiet first night in first night (after a 4 pound massage!) then the next day was a lot more fun filled.

Woke up and wondered off to grab a Peru sim card for my phone. then did a walking tour and met up with Julia, my puma partner from Bolivia and her two, fellow german mates. The walking tour was great, went to a chocolate factory, a few resteraunts for some samplers, a couple of musiems and a good spot to look down on the city for a good view. Then afer a cracking menu del dia (menu of the day - usualy constitutes soup for starter, chicken/meat/veg plus rice and potatoes for main and a juice all for a quid!) I had a quick power nap before my night of carnage. I met up with ze germans at Loki (THE party hostel) and had a few drinks at the bar and chatted to a couple of people while they got ready. Then we had a few more drinks and by this point I was getting on really well with the bar staff so they were giving me quadriples for the price of singles! Then we went to do the pub crawl that the walking tour guide suggested but it was more expensive than he'd agreed (standard South America shit) so we went back to Loki and continued to get smashed. It was all a bit messy and involved some dancing on the bar, but all in all it was a top night.

Next day was a day of luxury, Macdonalds for breakfast, two kebabs for lunch then KFC for dinner. A bit of footy and that was about it!

The following day (sunday) was to be my last meat day so I went to the local shop and bought 12 chicken wings and fried them up with some garlic, tommato, chillie and onion. It was fucking delicious! After that me gareth and Nat headed up to Saqse woma (sexy woman) which is a fort on top of Cuzco. On advice from the tour guide we took a horse ride instead of paying the silly buggers amount to go in as a tour guide then snuck in the back after the ticket gaurds had finished for the day. Horse ride was a bit off, they clearly under fed and miss treated the horses a bit so I wasn't too happy but as it was gareths first time riding, and he was enjoying it so much, I didn't say anything negative. Plus we got to see the inca fort for pennies so it was all good.

Next day we headed to Matchu Pitchu (two days ago), but I'm too tired to give that report justice now, check out some of the bad ass picks I put on FB though!


Show me the way to go home....

Ok, before I write about cuzco, which is awsome, I just wanna have a wee vent. So after 11 and a half months of travel I really am looking forward to home time. Less than 2 weeks to go now :-) Having done Matchu Pitch today there is no more sight seeing to do. So I've cut out alcohol, all forms of sex, meat, 'recreational drugs' and caffine from my diet for the last few days in preperation for an ayawaska weekend. On Friday I'm going to do a San Pedro ritual then on Monday Ayawaska. This is all on recomendation from an Aussie tour guide in La Paz who has done ayawaska a few times and says its amazing. Then after I've done that I'll just have one more sinfull weekend left which I'll spend in Lima with antti, my finish friend from Paraguay. Then it's off home. For the record, I have absolutely no money left, so I'll be going back to england with no money and no possesions which is slightly daunting. I've been thinking alot about what job(s) I want to do when I get back and wether or not to go for something temporary or perminant. Probably end up doing call centre work as it pays well and is commitment free.

So yeah, really can't wait to get back and see all my friends and family. Oh, and I'm sick of these fuckers ripping me off because I'm a gringo so I want to get away from this continent! One last 20 hour bus journey to take.... joy.


Lake Titicaca - Isla del Sol

After a quick hop skip and a jump from La Paz we arrived in Copacobana (via a sneaky little flight from Rurrenbaque to La Paz - I was NOT taking that bus again!). At this stage (and ever since) I've been travelling with Nat and Gareth, an english couple I'd worked with at the Puma Park. After getting skanked by the La Paz taxi driver who wouldn't take us to the right stop and charged more than we agreed we then got a super cheap bus journey so carma was resumed. We spent that night in Copa Cobana which is basically just a tourist town full of lama jacket clad gringos and people selling junk. Sorry, I really shouldn't be writting this blog now, I've been up for 17 hours to get up for Machu Pitchu so I'm a tad tired and grouchy! Anyway, nothing special to report other than finally seeing the end of my bed bugs having washed every item of clothes I owned!

The next morning we got up and headed off to the dock to grab a boat to the Isla del Sol. On arrival there we'd realised we'd slightly fucked up as we'd got off on the south side of the island and the 'thing to do' is to get off on the north then walk down to the south visiting the sights on route. So basically we had a choice of shelling out money to take a private boat to the north or trecking for 7 hours to the north and back. I opted for door number three, I just got hammered on rum and coke and looked out on the balcany at the amazing views all day! It was pro. Meanwhile gareth and Nat went off for a walk and returned back to find a slightly tipsey and very sun burnt pete. So we headed off to watch the sunset which was pretty damn pretty, grabbed an over priced pizza then headed to bed.

The next day we trecked down the steps (oh, the walk up was minging with big bags, steep steps and high altitude!) and grabbed a boat back to shore. Then we shelled out for a decent overnight bus to cuzco and spent the rest of the day in a cafe watching Reading lose to Chelsea (Torres was a mile offside for the record) and sipping coca tea.

Boom, Isla de sol done.