tasting the world en Levando Anclas!

El día 2 de diciembre tasting the world hizo su debut en la radio en el programa Levando Anclas! Nos entrevistaron cuando todavía estábamos en Copacabana, Bolivia. Aun recuerdo las noches de domingo volviendo de Hondarribi a Vitoria en el coche con mis aitas escuchando la voz de Roge y las historias de aquellos viajeros en los años 90, y ahora resulta que soy yo la que sale en la radio. Gracias Esti por hacer esto posible!

Para los que no nos pudísteis escuchar, aquí os dejamos el link al audio del programa!

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Tasting Lima

After almost 14 months on the go, finally it was my turn to see a familiar face. My good school friend Javi had recently moved to Lima in search of new opportunities for his company Tenseon, and he kindly offered us to stay at his place. It had been over three years since the last time we had seen each other and to make the reunion even more special we were arriving to Lima the day after his birthday, right on time for the celebrations. Javi had organized a little party in his gorgeous apartment with a few of his friends. The yummy pisco sour and chilcano made by the Peruvians warmed up the atmosphere in no time. Isma and I haven’t really gone out much in the past few months, so just two drinks were enough to get us tipsy. The night ended in a fancy club where we shook our rusty hips. Great night with great people and a fantastic welcome to Lima! We surprised Javi with a blender as a birthday present, the indispensable kitchen gadget that is a must have in Peru, specially for making pisco sour and healthy jugos!

Happy birthday Javi!

We woke up with shore heads, consequence of the pisco. We had already been warned about the effects of this malicious drink, so couldn’t really complain too much. After a bit of breakfast, Javi, our guide for the day, Isma and I walked our hangover around central Lima. Central Lima is the oldest part of the city and where the vestiges of the city’s colonial era remain today. Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas were a great example with their beautiful historical buildings. Around 4 pm we made a mandatory stop at a cafeteria to listen online our début on the radio! A few weeks ago we had been interviewed for Levando Anclas, a travel radio show on Radio Euskadi, after Esti, a friend of mine, sent them a mail and the link to our blog. When I was little I used to listen to this very same show every Sunday and now it was me who was on air, so strange and so exciting and the same time! I can’t deny that I was as nervous as hell, but at the end it didn’t turn out that bad.

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Machu Picchu, an impossible city in the sky

The alarm went off at 4.15am. More asleep than awake we got ready and started walking in the dark, only followed by a couple of stray dogs and just a few other travellers that, like us, wanted to get to Machu Picchu by foot at dawn. The gate at the bridge opened at 5am sharp. The one hour ascending the endless steps sweating, red faced and out of breath was kind of tough, but it didn’t matter, the recompense was near.

Aguas Calientes, walking in the dark

We found Machu Picchu covered in a heavy mist, fog and clouds. We couldn’t really see anything, it was an entirely different landscape to what we had expected. A bit disorientated, and really not knowing in which direction to go, we sat down to rest for a few minutes and to have a bit of breakfast (supposedly you are not allowed to bring any food into Machu Picchu, but nobody checks) before tackling the trek to Huayna Picchu, “Young Peak” in Quechua.

Misty Machu Picchu

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Island hopping in lake Titicaca

Only 10 minutes after getting on the bus in Copacabana we were saying goodbye to Bolivia and crossing our last border. Sadly, Peru will be the last country we will be visiting in this trip. But we were not yet ready to leave lake Titicaca behind! Our first stop in Peru was going to be Puno, which as Copacabana, is located on the shore of the lake and is the boarding gate to Uros, Amantani and Taquile islands.

Puno is a Peruvian town with a very Bolivian touch, I would say that it’s how Bolivian towns could look like in ten-fifteen years: well finished buildings, shops, neat streets… The women, still wearing the bowler hat and their multilayered skirts, were telling us we were in Bolivia but the restaurants, with ceviche and pisco sour in their menus, were telling us we had made it to Peru. One of the things that really surprised us was to see tuk tuks on the streets of Puno, how have they made it to South America?

We wanted to visit the three islands (Uros, Amantani and Taquile) in two days one night, but we wanted to do it independently, without an agency. We found little information about how to do it, we had read that it was possible to get to the islands taking public boats so with that in mind we headed to the port early in the morning. As soon as we got there a guy approached us offering us only transportation in a colectivo (shared boat), perfect, exactly what we wanted. So we got on the boat, took our seats and as soon as we set sail a guy took the microphone, introduced himself as our guide and started describing the itinerary. Is this a tour?? Yes it was, and it was the only way of getting to the islands according to the two islanders travelling on the boat.

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A blue sea in the middle of the Altiplano

Finally, after three weeks of arid landscape we got to see something different, the thousand shades of blue of lake Titicaca at Copacabana. This tranquil and sunny little town, not to be mistaken with Copacabana beach in Brasil, sits on the banks of the vast lake Titicaca, very close to the Peru-Bolivia border. Here is where we were going to spend our last days in Bolivia, escaping from the stormy La Paz.

The lake front area of this very touristy destination is plagued with hotels, souvenir shops, food stalls offering the famous lake Titicaca trout, pizzerias and hundreds of pedalos waiting to be rented, but aside the shoreline the rest of the village is very local, very Bolivian, and there normal life continues. The best views of Copacabana and lake Titicaca are from Cerro Calvario, a hill next to town. It’s a steep and breathless 40 minutes hike from the base following the twelve stations of the cross, but the views from the top are really worth the effort.

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The white city and the carnival mecca

Just three hours away from Potosí is Sucre, our next stop in Bolivia. We spent three lovely days in what is the constitutional capital of the country – walking along the white streets, tasting new flavours at the market, visiting a museum and enjoying the lively atmosphere of the city’s main square.

Sucre is probably the most colonial of the Bolivian towns we have visited. Known as La Ciudad Blanca (the white city), Sucre is a beautiful place full of historical buildings. All the white houses with their old wooden balconies, the white universities with their cosy interior courtyards and the white Spanish churches shine even whiter on a sunny day. There are strict controls on development, so if you own a house in Sucre, don’t even think about painting it black! If it wasn’t for the features of the people, the clothing of the cholitas and the accent of the locals I would have said we were in the heart of Andalucia.

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The white sea of Uyuni

Once again I have to start a post describing a bus ride, the one between Tupiza and Uyuni, and this time it’s not because of the beautiful scenery… The fun started as soon as we got on the bus. We thought the bus would be half empty because not many people take this route, but no. A group of 30 miners had to travel to Atocha, a dusty city in the middle of the way, so the bus was completely full. Until here all seems fine, right? What’s so strange about travelling on a bus full of miners? Well, if I tell you they all got on the bus being drunk and that “luckily” they had enough drink to keep them busy for a few hours… fun, uh?! But what it seemed at first a nightmare it was actually an opportunity to chat with the easy going miners and learn about their way of living. I will skip describing the state of the gravel road, I will just say that we named it Death Road 2 and that Isma kept praying all he knew. Specially when we stopped at a sharp bend beside a 30 or more meters fall, because a bus was coming on the other direction and the road was so narrow that both buses couldn’t fit. I’m glad I wasn’t sitting on the window seat. And if this wasn’t enough, El Ponderoso (name we gave the bus on honour of Che Guevara and Alberto Granado’s bike) was kind of old. The driver had to keep refiling the leaking water so the engine wouldn’t caught fire and he ended up putting on the mechanic overall to fix we don’t know what… After 8 hours, we couldn’t believe it when we saw Uyuni on the horizon!

Uyuni is on the route of most travellers visiting Bolivia. Not to visit the town itself, which doesn’t really have any tourism attractive, but to visit one of the world’s most unusual places, Uyuni’s Salt flats. On our first day in the rural Uyuni we didn’t really do much: recover from the scary bus ride, search for a tour, try to find a working ATM, a bit of offline blogging (finding a wi-fi was mission impossible) and taste llama steak which was surprisingly tasty.

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In Argentina for 6 days

We left San Pedro on a 10 hour bus ride to Salta in Argentina. We were promised stunning scenery and high altitude, and we got both: volcanoes, desert landscape, scary drops, colourful gullies, huge cactus, cute llamas, Andean altiplano and pure white salt flats on a road going over the 4500 metres over sea level to descend again to 1200 metres. Half aspirin and lots of water was our way of combating the possible effects of the high altitude. Aside a small headache, a bit of silliness and constantly going to the toilet all went well and we arrived to Salta in one piece.

Our visit to Argentina was totally unplanned. Since we had very little time left (only 2 months to visit Peru and Bolivia) and we don’t like rushing from one place to another, we had discarded visiting the country of the tango. But everybody in Chile recommended us visiting Salta, which is just across the Andes from San Pedro, and its surroundings. So we thought now that we are so close why not rearrange our route and spend a few days in Argentina? That’s the beauty of travelling without plans!

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Happy one year tasting the world!

Today it is 17th of October 2012. Supposedly we should be on a plane back to Madrid at this very same moment… but instead we are somewhere between Argentina and Bolivia on our way to Tupiza. For those of you who don’t know it yet, we have extended our trip until Christmas so we can have some time to taste South America.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the day we started this trip. We didn’t really know what we would find on the way, or if we would enjoy being on the move for so long. Time has gone so fast… too fast I would say! It has been a year full of adventures, we have visited incredible and unique places and we have met so many wonderful people along the way. In this 12 months we have learnt so much from life, from other cultures and also from ourselves that we will never regret the decision we made one year ago.

It’s been very difficult to put an end date to the trip of our lives. One part of us wants to keep travelling forever but the other part is looking forward to reuniting with our family and friends. With tears in our eyes we bought the tickets back home and we will be flying to Madrid on the 21st of December. Until then we will make the most of our time in Bolivia and Peru. See you at Christmas!

Happy one year of travels bixo y loca!

Rapa Nui, the navel of the world

After only two days in Santiago and when we were starting to get over the tedious jet lag we packed our backpacks and headed to the airport again. Ahead of us a 6 hour flight across the Pacific to Easter Island! Ivan, the owner of the hostel where we were going to stay, welcomed us with the traditional flower necklace at the tiny Mataveri airport in Hanga Roa, and gave us a little tour around the town as we headed to the hostel. It didn’t take long until we saw our first moai in the very same Hanga Roa.

Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited places on earth. To get an idea of its isolation, their closest human neighbours are in Pitcairn Islands 2075km away and Santiago is only 3770km away. There are several theories about the origins of the inhabitants of Easter Island. Most agree the first to reach the island were Polynesian, but other theories relate them with people from South America. The legend says that some 1,500 years ago a Polynesian chief named Hotu Matu’a sailed here in a double canoe from an unknown Polynesian island with his wife and extended family.

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