Good old fy ups

Trip Start Feb 20, 2006
Trip End Jun 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Hola, I am writing from one of the oldest civilisations in the world, the old Inca capital of Cuzco. Brilliant place, little bit dodgy but brilliant at the same time. For instance last night, literally after just arriving, we went out for a walk round the main plaza and down a street called Gringo Alley where some shifty guy in a leather coat pulled a plastic bag out and said in a raspy spanish voice "want some grass man" to which i of course replied no thank you sir. The reason being, and we´ve all been warned, is that round the corner an "undercover plain-clothed policeman" who just happened to see what you just bought and says you can come down to the station with me or we can go to an ATM and you can give me $200. Anyway, still having a great time, went to a restaurant last night called the fallen angel which was the trippiest place i´ve ever seen, think you really needed a couple of tablets with smily faces on them to appreciate what was going on. There were glass-top tables that had fish swimming round the bottom, kind of like a bath with a glass lid, good food though. Since last entry which i think was Potosi and the mine tours, i have visited the Salt Flats in Uyuni, which is the biggest salt lakes in the world, something like over 100,000 km sq, was good fun and even got to do a bit of work. Also got to ride on top of one of the 4x4´s which seemed like a good idea at the time, but when English Andy and me both realised after 25 mins that the place we were going to was an hour away and we were both freezing our tits off we decided to get back inside. Had a couple of excellent pizzas in the hotel restaurant, owned by an american guy now living in Uyuni, was excellent. Went to La Paz next day, world´s highest capital city, which was a little anxious about after hearing all the horror stories but turned out to be an excellent place and dirt cheap. Bought a loa of souvenirs including a charango (instrument very similar to a mandolin, hand carved) with a painting of a local Bolivian man playing a pipe on the back, which is really beautiful, just hope i get it home in one piece. Went out for Lee´s bday which was possibly the best night out on the rip yet and because we´re at such a high altitude (4000m) it means that u can get wrecked on half the amount you would need at home. Did city tour of La Paz next day, with the worst hangover (the downside to the altitude, hangovers are about 5 times worse) but had a really good time. Visited the witches market which was totally bizarre, llama fetuses, stuffed dead frogs, potions and remedies and everything in between. Went up to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) and walked down where our guide very kindly offered to take us to Burger King cos he knew how much of a mess we all were. Finished tour about 2ish and afterwards decided that we would try out luck at getting in to San Pedro prison, really strange set-up, not at all like we would imagine prison at home, inmates get to live with their families in rented cells, can own and run shops, restaurants and of course the reason it is famous, "Marching powder", all the best cocaine comes out of this prison. Anyway officially you´re not allowed to visit, but the loophole is that you find out the name of an inmate from your consulate and then claim you´re visiting "John Smith" or whatever you can get away with. Anyway a few of us arrived and tried to get in, but were refused and also told that we can´t take any pictures. Danielle took a few and within seconds one of the guards came over and demanded to see her camera and then made her delete all the photos. We were like, wow think its time to go, but not before i got a sneaky photo, a photo i thought that i had taken so stealthily that in fact had got away with. Sitting on a park bench i slid the camera out of my pocket and estimated where to point and took a few snaps, i then subtly slid it back into my pocket. Two minutes later a man in a pink shirt came over and said (in spanish) the guards would like you to go over to the prison gates and show them your camera. BUGGER!! It was then blatantly obvious that at every exit point and all around the park square, there were about a dozen undercover policemen. So thats how i got caught on. Needless to say i didnt go over to the guards and i didnt delete the photo from my camera, we legged it and jumped in a taxi and went back to the hotel, how good am i. After that little adventure and still with a thumping headache, me and 2 other guys decided to go for a walk round the city. Within ten minutes of leaving the hotel we seen a disturbance, not big enough to be called a riot, and more amusing than anything else. A local woman hadnt been paying rent for her shop or stall, so the Bolivian law enforcers decided to go and take a lot of her stuff away. She responded by trying her best to bust the pick-up truck they were all travelling in, stood in front of it and refused to move, all the while smashing her fists into the bonnet screaming in spanish what i can only imagine would translate as "listen lads yous better piss off and leave my stuff alone or i´ll get my big mate down here to do ur knees in, rite" or something to that effect. So once the dust all settled and we finished taking photos and video of this mad woman, we wandered on. At about 7 o´clock we were in the music shop that i bought my charango in we noticed there was a bit of a commotion opposite where we were. A bunch of locals had massive Bolivian flags stretching the width of the street, we thought it was some sort of festival, but then we noticed about 15 armed guards, full riot gear on, (very similar to Drumcree during July) blocking the entramce to a shop. We wondered what the bloody hell is going on here, so of course we asked the lady who worked in the shop and we managed to work out that, an Argentinian guy had been caught stealing from a couple of gringos. People in La Paz get really pissed off when this happens she was saying, a lot of foreigners giving the place a bad rep. So we watched as this guy had to be transported from the shop into a police car about 50m down the street. As soon as the guy left the shop and the police surrounded him, the crowd went totally nuts. Massive sticks about 4 foot long came out of nowhere and started trying to beat the hell out of this guy, police with truncheons out tryin to keep them all back, hadnt a hope, everyone was screaming and going bananas, while the 3 of us stood in the shop going, this is a bit mad eh? The police eventually managed to get this guy into the police car and the crowd gradually dithered off. However Bolivia was not all about excitement and chaos, later on when we were in the main square, not far from the hotel, a little kid, i´m sure no more than 6 or 7 came up to me and tried to sell me some souvenirs, i really had bought enough that day so said no gracias, but then he started crying and rubbing his eyes, and i know what you´re thinking, i´m a sucker and he probably does that for all the tourists, but that doesn´t make it any easier when you´ve got a little kid crying in front of you, so yeh i bought the stuff.
Anyway thats a lot and i cant write for much longer cos some people at the hotel have decided they need to disconnect the computer so they can use the new computer desk. But i also stayed with a local family on Lake Titicaca, which was really good. Got to see the floating islands and yeh think thats about it for now. Will try and stick some photos on soon.
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