Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

10 Things the Guidebook Don’t tell you About… Peru

August 19, 2013

1. Construction. Everything is in a different stage of construction, half built buildings are everywhere to the point where some cities look like they wouldn’t have existed a few months previously. Piles of rubble squat on the streets in many areas. Juliaca is basically a building site. We were told that in Bolivia you don’t have to pay tax on your house until it’s finished so many people leave their houses unfinished on purpose. I’m assuming the same goes for Peru.

2. Horn honking. Particularly in Lima honking your horn when driving is just what you do. All the time. Honk if they’re driving too slow; honk if they’re driving too fast; honk if they won’t let you through; honk to say thankyou if they do; honk if you’re sat in traffic; honk if you’re not. It’s so noisy. It’s even got to the point where the council have put up signs saying “No Honking”.

3. Queueing. They don’t do it. Don’t bother trying. They will walk in front of you even if it’s obvious you’re waiting.

4. Food portions. The USA get a raw deal it seems, people always say that they serve massive portions. In Peru, they serve MASSIVE portions. How is one person supposed to eat all that?! I’m sure it’s generosity, but I feel guilty about how much I have to leave on my plate when I’m full! It is still a full plate! Three or four people could eat one portion here and be full.

5. Tourism. In some places, like the floating islands (crazy man made islands, made out of compacted reeds in Lake Titicaca), Tourism makes up 50% of the residents’ income. It’s big money. Aguas Calientes is almost, it seems, entirely made up of shops and hotels aimed at us. Shops selling “artisan” products are everywhere and of varying quality. Saying that, it makes it easy to be a tourist here and you always feel pretty safe.

6. Bartering. Although it is entirely out of my character to do this, being embarassed and British, you really can barter here. My friend Lisa was very good at it, getting prices halved sometimes. In Ollaytatambo we wanted to buy a little jumper for a child, she quoted us too much and wouldn’t come down so we walked away. The lady actually sprinted 100m after us saying “OK ten!!” and sold it to us there on the street.

7. Native Peoples. I had the impression that most native peoples in Peru would wear normal clothes and that those in traditional dress just did it for the tourists but this is very far from the truth. Many local people still wear traditional dress and the campesinos working the fields are certainly not doing it for tourism.

8. There are inca ruins everywhere. Like, actually everywhere.

9. Collectivos. I said this about Chile too but these are amazing! Taxis that pick up other people too and cost next to nothing for very long journeys. Only thing is you often have to wait until they’re full before you can leave.

10. Couldn’t think of any more so a guy called Tom has told me: if you drink alcohol at Machu Pichu you get banned for life. Something to keep in mind!


Film Review: Nostalgia de la Luz

July 29, 2012

I saw Nostalgia de la Luz last week with high expectations, since most critics reviewed it very highly.  It is based in the Atacama Desert, which I have researched extensively in preparation for my trip there next week.

A part of me left disappointed. The film itself has two focal points – the astronomers in the desert and the people still recovering from the Pinochet regime. The former includes many drawn out shots of telescopes and the night sky and, albeit an incredible sight, it feels slow and slightly contrived. Many of the links that Guzman makes between the two also seem coincidental rather than meaningful, and therefore don’t glue the sections together as well as was probably intended.

However, the latter focus was a superbly tender and a poignant insight into the Chileans who are still trying to move on from their harrowing experiences in the 1970s and 80s. It’s a reminder of how recent the atrocities of that government are, and an indictment of the current administration that these people are not helped more and held in higher esteem.

One of the main focuses is on the ‘Women of Calama’ who search the Atacama for the remains of their dead loved ones. Though many of the original women have stopped looking, some remain, now in their sixties and seventies.

Every day they walk into the desert, picking up pieces of bleached white bones, kicking at hardened areas of the ground to see if there are hidden remains beneath.

One lady tells the camera, “We are the lepers of Chile.”

The narrator continues along this vein, attempting to show that the official history of Chile seems to stop in 1973 because the government and army won’t face it.  This sort of “end of history”, I noticed, was a recurring theme elsewhere as well.

Yesterday, I visited the National History Museum in Chile which has artifacts, paintings, and descriptions of numerous periods in Chilean history. Much of it is focused on the 18th and 19th centuries, and the massive changes in these stages moving from Spanish rule to independence, and eventually to a democratic government.

However, everything seemed to fall in to place for me when in the final room of the museum, history ends at Allende’s broken glasses.

The film is available to buy on DVD in US format and is on general release in the UK at the moment.  It costs 600 pesos to visit the National History Museum. If you want English translation, remember to ask at the ticket office as all signs are in Spanish.

Lara is at… her bed, alone, in pyjamas

June 18, 2011

My opinion, mainly, on the act of ‘checking in’ is that it is solely to make the person making the announcement feel like they have a life. And yet, announcing it on the online sphere in this way surely has the opposite effect? Surely if you’re sat at ‘The Waterloo Arms ( on your iphone, as you always are, you’re not actually conscious  of the experience. As long as you appear to have had the experience on facebook and twitter, then it is okay, your existence has been noted by all of those people you don’t know and who definitely don’t care. You might as well not bother going. Just sit at home, finding places you think sound like the types of places you would go if you were to have a real life and check in there. No-one is going to check, or ask how it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I do go on my phone when in the pub, but that’s only ever because I’m having a shit time – hear that guys? If I’m on my phone, remember it’s entirely your fault. You are not entertaining me enough. Sort it out. And if I’m having a shit time and am on my phone in a shit pit called The Waterloo Arms, I’m not going to tell anyone about it. In fact, I will hide all evidence, and never go there again.

Well, maybe for a quick one with @SimonT, @MarthaJ and @JohnnyBigFace (

Still Life: Bent Objects

June 12, 2011

Click on the picture for more

Urm… so here we go

June 12, 2011


I’ve had this site a while now but just sorta left it, so now I am returning from a long procrastination to see if I can make it in the blogging world.

I am intending to post things that interest me and a few of the things I write along the way.

Although it may not seem it, I write occasionally.


Anyway thanks for dropping by, not much to see yet, but please return… there will be.



She really likes cats

June 12, 2011