A Travellerspoint blog

Perth and the South-West

G’day from WA !!

sunny 30 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

We picked up our fabulous 6-berth Winnebago Campervan from the airport...

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...and drove straight into the city to look at an apartment we’d arranged to view. We didn’t think much of it so we drove around the city’s confusing (and, I’ve subsequently decided, pointless) one-way systems for a bit before heading to Cottesloe Beach where we camped.

The beach was gorgeous and it was a lovely place to park apart from the crazy Aussies who decided to go jogging/cycling/running/swimming (loudly) at 6am the next morning!

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Our first major stop was Bunbury, where we found a brilliant place to camp right by the beach. We had a lovely BBQ and sat outside chatting and drinking wine all evening (a bit like every other night then really!)...

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The next morning Mum treated us all to an Aussie ‘toad in the hole’, which is bread toasted on the BBQ with a hole cut in the middle for the egg to be fried in mmmm!

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I thought the sea-gulls deserved a treat too...Feed the birds, tuppence a bag...

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Along the beach was the ‘Dolphin Discovery Centre’, where they feed the wild dolphins when and if they come up to the shore. We were really lucky because it happened twice while we were there and they came really close to us...

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The next place down the coast was Busselton where we found another great place to park right by the beach. Some people we chatted to said it was the only BBQ in the area too so it was a good spot...

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While we were walking along the beach we saw a stingray swimming along the shore...

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Dad had the fabulous idea of sitting on the beach watching the sunset with a nice glass of wine, while the waves were lapping at our feet... ahhhh bliss!!

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The sunset was lovely...

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Nearby Dunsborough Golf Course...

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Gorgeous beach at Bunker Bay...

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Further along at Margaret River we had some lovely seafood platters...

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They were a bit mean when it came to overnight parking in the area though so we quickly moved on, to nearby Augusta where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Damn, no spear fishing allowed!...

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Steve had his first drive of our massive camper going down to Pemberton. He scared the life out of me (no, not with his driving) when he climbed the Gloucester Tree which is 60 meters tall (about 200 feet!)...

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We had a nice walk through the forest

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but then got attacked by loads of horrible big bugs so I gave Mum my nice Amazon head-net to wear!...

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We saw some gorgeous green parrots up in the trees so we got some bread out of the camper in the hopes of tempting them down. It worked a little better than we’d expected, as you can see...

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We stopped at Elephant Rocks before heading back towards Perth...

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Our final, and most mega, BBQ was on our last night which we spent in Rockingham...

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When we got back to Perth we had a nightmare with our accommodation because a dopey old bag (not that I’m one to stay bitter) had double booked our apartment and decided not to call and tell us but rather wait until we actually turned up on the day, aaaargh!!! We just about managed to find a place, drop off our stuff, look at an apartment we’d arranged to view (which we loved and applied for on the spot), return the camper on time and pick up our rental car!

The next morning we had to move hotels but found a lovely one down by the river

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We had a wander around Perth...

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Then went to Scarborough Beach and saw some of the Surfing Championship...

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The next day we went to Freemantle (Freo to the locals)

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We went on the ‘Perth Wheel’

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and then to a fabulous Indian buffet restaurant that has no prices, you just pay whatever you want to pay! It also has no booze, so we took our own and sat out on the balcony enjoying the view...!

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The next morning we drove Mum and Dad to the airport which was really sad. We’d had a fantastic time together and were absolutely gutted when they left. Later that day (after a few job-interview-type telephone conversations between the owner and Steve) we got a call to say we’d got the apartment we’d applied for and could move in tomorrow, which was brilliant news and just what we needed to lift our spirits a bit!

Posted by Steve-Kay 20:04 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive Comments (0)

Melbourne

G'day G'day!!

sunny 45 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

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Before arriving in Melbourne we'd only been able to arrange accommodation for the first 2 nights because everywhere was fully booked due to the Australian Open, which only occurred to us the day before flying into the city unfortunately, so we ended up staying in 3 different hotels in 3 completely different parts of the city in 5 days!

Luckily though, in that time we managed to find possibly the only decent apartment left to rent in Melbourne (the St Kilda suburb) woohoo!

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The surprisingly glamorous St Kilda Town Hall...

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We'd been to Melbourne a few years before but felt like it had changed quite a lot in those few years, it’s still a fantastic city though and we loved being back there.

City Circle Tram...

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Yarra River and the MCG...

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Botanical Gardens...

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Watching the Aussie Open in Federation Square...

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The whole place was taken over by tennis fever so we (well, Steve) thought we should pop along and see a few matches, and it was really good...

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We managed to snag ourselves one of the few seats in the shade, although it still was ridiculously hot - about 43 degrees in the shade and about 53 degrees on court apparently- don't know how they played in that!

We might have been able to cope in the direct sunlight with one of these wicked hats!...

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It was a brilliant day and we were lucky enough to catch the Williams sisters playing doubles (they won)...

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Mum and Dad flew in to Melbourne (from Sydney) a few weeks after we did.

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The temperature was hitting 45-odd degrees for a lot of days and it was stifling, even the wind didn’t give any relief because it felt like a fan heater was hitting us full pelt. On the devastating ‘Black Saturday’, it reached 47oC and was windy, which caused the already bad bush-fires surrounding Melbourne to cause utter devastation, which you probably saw on the news, it was awful.

We weren’t in any danger where we were (although we could see the thick smoke in the air) but obviously the fires closed off a lot of the places surrounding Melbourne, so we stayed in and around the city.

Mum didn’t let a little thing like 45 degree heat stop her from cooking us some faaaaaaaaaabulous roast dinners!...

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Luna Park in St Kilda...

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Cup of wine on the beach!...

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One Sunday Steve dragged me to the cricket because he hadn’t been to the MCG yet (on this visit to Oz!).

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We got in free because we’d caught the tram there, bargain! Steve went on a tour of the ground while I sat in the stand (not watching the game)...

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Mum and I went made the most of the great shopping bargains...

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I had to chuckle one day when Steve couldn’t find what he wanted in a shop, and had to ask the assistant if he had any grey thongs in his size (that’s what Ozzies call flip-flops by the way) ha ha!

While we were saving them a fortune at the sales, Dad and Steve went to the snooker hall...

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Shrine of Rememberance...

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Hello Possums! (We're all wrapped up in this one because the temperature dropped about 20oC overnight!)...

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We spent about 5 weeks in Melbourne, before flying 4 hours to Perth in Western Australia.

Posted by Steve-Kay 00:03 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

New Zealand (North Island)

Auckland to Rotorua

sunny 28 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

We left Santiago on 29th December and flew over the International Date Line, so we didn't arrive in Auckland until 31st December!

We felt pretty jeg-lagged, but it was about 7am local time, so we decided to go out for breakfast and explore Auckland.

It was really strange being back in an English-speaking country after so long and we confused a fair few people in the shops by saying 'hola' and 'gracias' which was quite funny!

We loved the city (it was very clean and calm compared to what we've been used to!) and the harbour was very pretty...

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We stumbled across a massive supermarket and thought all of our Christmases had come at once, there were loads of things we hadn't seen since we left home - Marmite, Worcester Sauce, Peanut Butter....We got a few strange looks off the other shoppers when we were shouting to eachother things like 'look look Baked Beans, yay!!'.

After snoozing for a few hours, Steve woke me up, shoved a glass of wine in my hand and ignored my pleas that I couldn't care less about missing New Years Eve - I just wanted to sleep! So we had a classy dinner of beans on toast accompanied by red wine (think Steve was taken back to his student days!), and went down to the harbour to see the fireworks...

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From there we caught a bus to Paihia a few hours north. The bus stopped at a little cafe on the way that had Llamas wandering around out the front that you could feed. We couldn't believe it, we never got to do that in 10 months in South America!

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Paihia and nearby Russell were nice little sea-side towns...

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Next we went to Whangarei (which someone eventually told us should be pronounced Fungarei - no wonder nobody knew what we were talking about!). When we arrived we'd planned to walk to our hostel so we asked a local woman for directions, she said it was quite a long way away so she'd give us a lift instead...unbelievable!! View from our hostel...

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These exercise bike-type things looked really funny floating down the river but we never got around to having a go ourselves unfortunately...

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We waited there to meet up with Mum and Dad (who were coming from the Cook Islands which is only a few hours flight away from NZ but had a 23 hour time difference!). They flew into Auckland, picked up the camper we'd booked and drove up to Whangarei to meet us woooooooohooooooooooo!

We didn't want to waste time travelling too far, so we just found a nice place to park nearby and had a catch-up!

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The next day we headed back down to Auckland so that Steve and I could get insured on the camper, but first we stopped at the gorgeous Whangarei Falls....

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The camper was really nice and about 3 times the size of the one that Steve and I had the last time we were in NZ! We wanted to have a go at driving it but we were a bit nervous as we hadn't even driven a car for the past 10 months, let alone a massive camper! We both had a go though, Steve drove it quite a few times and with Dad's guidance I even managed to parallel park it (which I'm useless at even in a car!).

Our lovely camper (on the Coromandel Peninsula)...

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Nowhere in particular...

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There were some lovely views along the road...

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We'd read about a place called Hot Water Beach, where you dig down into the sand to find (yes you guessed it) hot water, so we thought we'd have a look. When we got there everyone had big shovels but we were as unprepared as ever so we took the only thing we had available in the van - a dustpan!

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The water was amazingly hot and we all burnt our feet once or twice, especially when the waves came in and made our feet sink deeper into the sand - it was like water out of a kettle!

In certain parts it was impossible to stand in it for even a few seconds...

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We stayed overnight at a place called Mount Manganui and Steve and I went for a walk while Mum & Dad went off to call home...

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On our way back I accidentally dropped the camper key and it fell between the walkway decking panels! We attracted quite a crowd while we were trying to work out whereabouts it had fallen and how we were going to get it back. Each person that passed stopped and asked us what we were looking for - It's amazing how friendly NZ is that everyone talks to eachother, even if in this case it was just to say 'ooh you'll never see that again'!! One woman went off for about 10 minutes and came back with a torch and a little branch to help us try to fish it out....so she, her daughter, Steve and I were all crawling around searching, then her daughter spotted it and, eventually, the woman got it out for us - unbelievable!!

Opotiki...

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Having a meal in the camper...

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Cute sign!...

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Their long straight roads...

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We went to a place called Gisbourne in the wine region and decided to go for a wine tour which was fantastic. We were the only ones on it and the bloke doing it was part-owner and really interesting.

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We loved the way they did the actual tasting...

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We liked his wine so much we nipped down to LiquorLand to buy some after the tour (no not because it was cheaper, it wasn't for sale at the winery for some reason) !!

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The man at the winery recommended a place called Mahia to stop at...

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The view was pretty but the place was as dead as a doornail apart from the fish and chip shop, it also banned overnight parking which we thought was a bit mean....so we had some fish and chips and moved down the road!

We drove (and when I say we, I mean Dad and Steve - Mum and I sat in the back having a chat!) onto Lake Taupo and set up our disposable BBQ...

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The BBQ was useless and we ended up frying our steak in the camper, but the view was gorgeous...

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The next day, Dad and I went on a scenic flight of the area in a float-plane...

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I thought it was a bit bumpy (I was actually clinging onto the seat for dear life and praying we'd live) but Dad thought it was quite smooth!! The views were amazing though and landing on the water was great...

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Horizontal Waterfall...
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We drove to the waterfall afterwards for a close-up (of the waterfall, not us)...

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Lookout near Taupo...

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Next we went to Rotorua which is famous for its thermal springs and geysers (see the steam coming up in the background)...

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We accidentally stumbled accross these really strange mud pools...

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They bubbled and the mud came shooting up, it was amazing but quite smelly because of the sulphur!...

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Thermal bath house...

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We went for a dip in a hot thermal pool which was looooovely...

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From Rotorua, we said a temporary goodbye to Mum and Dad - they went off to see the South Island, and we flew onto Australia....to be continued!

Posted by Steve-Kay 18:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged automotive Comments (0)

Argentina & Chile

La Quiaca to Santiago

28 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

We got the impression that the Argentineans are still a tad bitter over the Falklands, AKA Malvinas (This says 'The Falklands are Argentinean')...

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We arrived in Salta 22 hours, 3 buses, 2 borders and 2 road blocks after leaving Tupiza!

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We only had two days there and wanted to enjoy the shops but the shop assistants were a nightmare – picking up random clothes off the shelves and saying ‘do you want to try this on?’ every 2 minutes – so we gave up and concentrated on the restaurants instead! This has to be the 2nd biggest steak that we’ve ever had, the 1st biggest being the one we had the night before when we forgot the camera! (we shared this but it was meant for ONE person) …

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From there we went to Mendoza where we bought all of our Christmas goodies, before heading out to our cabin in the countryside. We just about managed to cram it all in the overhead storage on the bus, but along the way a massive spud fell out of its bag and onto the man in front - it was embarrassing but REALLY funny!

The cabin was lovely and the family running it was really friendly. We asked them how to use the BBQ and they ended up cooking the whole thing for us! On Christmas day we made ourselves a proper roast dinner (with Bisto and all!) but cooked the beef on the BBQ (we couldn’t get turkey).

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After 5 days of doing nothing but eating, drinking and lazing by the pool we had our last South American border crossing, wooohooo!! We had a pretty journey through the Andes but the border was really busy and took 5 hours to get through. We ended up getting to Santiago at midnight so we had a cup of hot chocolate and went to bed - so much our last big night out in South America!

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The next day we had a good spend up in the shops before heading to the airport and saying goodbye to South America after 9 fantastic months...!

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Posted by Steve-Kay 21:44 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bolivia

Copacabana to Villazon

all seasons in one day 22 °C
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Welcome to Bolivia!!

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We caught a bus along the shore of Lake Titicaca from Puno (Peru) to Copacabana, for our first taste of Bolivia.....

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It's a tiny place and didn't even have a cash point (shame we didn't find that out before we got there but never mind!). Nice sunset over the bay...

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In the main square they have daily vehicle blessings where the priest sprinkles holy water on cars while saying a prayer (from what we saw though it did nothing to improve their driving!)...

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We caught a crowded boat to Isla del Sol nearby which was gorgeous...

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Accommodation was a bit on the 'rustic' side though....

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We walked from one end of the island to the other which was tiring but worth it for the pretty views...

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(We were wrapped up to protect ourselves from the strong, high-altitude sun which had burnt us the day before!)

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The walk was lovely apart from the locals who kept popping up to collect a 'tax' every so often. We got so annoyed with it in the end that we decided we'd give them the slip by climbing up and over a really steep hillside and down through crop fields until we reached the town on the other side. It was really hard work, took about 2 extra hours, and only saved us about 50p, but it was the principle of the matter!

To get to La Paz...

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....we had to cross the lake, so they put our rickety old bus onto what they called a ferry and thankfully put us on a separate boat...

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La Paz was absolutely manic. We stayed in the middle of the witches market (Mercado de las Brujas) which sold all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including dried llama foetuses - The Bolivians bury them under their houses to ward off evil spirits - I wanted to send some home but Steve wouldn’t let me…

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We weren’t that keen on La Paz, so we only stayed for a few days before moving onto Sucre (we had planned to go somewhere else but couldn’t because of a road block). It was the most comfy bus journey of our entire trip and it was almost a shame to get to our destination!

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We liked Sucre a lot so decided to stay a while and volunteered at a couple of local places. We spent some time at a centre for children with disabilities. We got to take some of them out to the park and to feed the pigeons which was great because the majority don’t get to leave the centre more than a few times per year (some are orphans and the rest are as good as orphaned because their parents don’t ever visit). We also helped out with evening classes at an English school where we met lots of nice locals. This class was great, but there was another one that had a few too many stroppy teenagers in it for our liking …surely we were never like that?!!

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We met a lovely couple there who took us around the markets and restaurants to see and try some of the local specialities. The meat sections were a bit gruesome, there were whole skinned cow heads which are too disgusting to put on here, so here are some lovely tongues instead...

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Apparently they whack them against rocks to tenderise the meat but we tried some later that day and it was chewy and REVOLTING (I spat mine out but Steve ate his!!) Yuuuuuk …

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A major product on sale all over Bolivia is coca leaves (the base for cocaine but legal in this form)…

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A lot of Bolivians chew the leaves so we thought we’d give them a try. You’re supposed to chew them until they’re mushy and then keep them in your cheek until it tingles and goes numb – apparently they stop you being hungry, cold or tired but we never got that far because they tasted horrible and we spat them straight out.

A (very uncomfortable) two hour bus ride away was Tarabuco market, where they sell handmade llama wool clothes (and wear funny hats!)...

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We had an amazing time in Sucre and met a lot of great people, so it was very hard to leave. We had to get moving though to get to Argentina in time for Christmas, so off we went.

On the bus on the way to Potosí there were chickens wandering around the luggage shelf. We (all the passengers on the back seat) were waiting for one of them to jump off and onto an unsuspecting passenger below but it never happened (unfortunately!)...

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Potosí is famous for silver mining so we went on a tour into one of the mines. They took us to the miners’ market beforehand to buy presents for the miners whose average life span is only TEN years after entering the mines, (including coca leaves, 95% alcohol and dynamite)...

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They gave us some lovely protective gear to wear...!

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It was pitch black inside apart from our head-torches (obviously) and the guide was moving pretty quickly because he was an ex-miner, so it was hard work down there.

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We met and chatted with some of the miners, gave them our presents and watched them working.

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Not sure how clear it is but the one on the left had cheeks full of coca leaves...

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I was scared the entire time we were down there but the worst part was climbing down (and then back up) a 30 foot ladder, which was actually angled away from the wall (tied on) so we had to cling on for dear life!

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Our next stop was Uyuni which has the biggest salt lake in the world which was amazing.

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The group was really nice and the driver helped us take some funny photos…

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We stopped for lunch at Cactus Island...

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We were nervous about getting the bus from Uyuni because we’d been warned by locals that the roads were bad (and when the Bolivians say the road is bad you know it must be really bad!). We happened to meet the driver beforehand though and he assured us he’d drive carefully so we decided to go for it (rather than wait days for the train).

It was a rickety old bus and the road was non-existent (we actually seemed to be driving on dry-ish riverbeds) but we thought it was quite fun apart from the numb bums!

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Tupiza is a tiny, dusty little town near the border with Argentina which meant we could get some great steak for pennies! The countryside around Tupiza was gorgeous so we decided to do a 2 hour horse trek which was fantastic. We were a bit surprised to find out that our guide was only 12 years old, but he told us he already had 3 years experience so off we went!

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We decided to make an early start for the Argentinean border so we got the 4am bus, unfortunately it had been raining all night so we (and every other vehicle) got stuck in the mud about 10 minutes after we got started. The tractors turned up after a while though and got us all on our way again. This one wasn’t actually our bus luckily...

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Traffic Jam...

A couple of hours later the driver stopped abruptly and told us all to get off the bus, we didn’t know what was going on until we saw loads of taxis blocking the road (they do love a good road block over here!). We had to walk the rest of the way which took about an hour with our heavy backpacks, and then we had to wait hours at the border because all the guards were out on their lunch breaks....Typical!

Posted by Steve-Kay 03:38 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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