Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Travel update from Pucallpa Peru

Saludos Amigos,
After 5 nights in Huaraz, I hit the road again and took a bus to Huanuco. NOt really possible to get there in one day as you must pass over the Andes mountains.There are no direct buses and so you have to transfer in a little town called La Union and some of the roads are...well not so good. From La Union, one must take a road that is hard to describe. On the one hand the scenery here is stunning. Absolutely beautiful. Passing beautiful patchwork fiels of all kinds of crop mostly corn and wheat and Quinoa. The quionoa is really nice to look at. The grains formbeautiful purple tops. The stuff is also really good to eat!! Very high in nutricion. Tasty too,but it must be rinsed well before you cook it or it will have a bitter taste. In the markets they sell little balls of it . A little smaller than an American baseball and very sweet and delicous. while at the same time, being one of the best foods a human being can eat.
Now I am almost on the road for 5 full years. October will begin my six year. I have been on a lot of busses in a lot of strange places. let me just say,That I have NEVER been on a more frightening ride than the one I had from La Union to Huanuco. All dirt road. Lots of Hair pin turns. The bus had to back up on a lot of the turns because they are just too narrow for a bus. There were times when I thought "Ahh so this is it. This is the end. What a way to die! What a place to die. I wonder if they will know how to notify my family that i am dead?" But as I write this letter you all know I didnt die and the bus didnt crash. Bloody hell!! What a ride. There was one turn, Iswear it is truye, where the driver stopped and everyone got out and walked 3o meters because the turn was so small and tight and the drop wasw so extreme that the driver felt like "well there is no reason for ALL of us to get killed here..." So he did the turn in an empty bus.
A couple of times I almost shit my pants. I sat next to a really beautiful older indian woman who spoke no english or spanish, only chechua. Five minutes into the trip she bagan to vomit into a little plastic bag. Yuuucchhh. So,i gave her some coca leaves to chew. She paid me with a smile...
Huanuco is a nice town. Not as nice as Huaraz, but less cold at night. This is NOT a tourist town. As I write this letter, I have not met an english speaker for 6 days. I met a Canadian and an Israelite in Huaraz and hung out with them for a few hours, until they had to catch a bus. The Canadian was a very cool young fellow from Vancouver BC but the Israelite was the personification of every complaint anyone has ever had about Israeli backpackers. Such a pity. I have met so many cool Israelites. Guys like this one just spoil their reputation. Actually too bad he spoke english. I would have liked him better if I didnt talk to him!! After tawo days in Huanuco, I went to Tingo Maria.
Tingo, is not such a nice city. It is kind of dirty and very busy with traders.I just didnt get a very nice vibe here. I was thinking of staying for 3 nights but ...I had to apply RBs first rule of the traveler "If you arent enjoying the place, LEAVE!" So I split out of there the following morning after only one day and one night. If you want to know about Tingo Maria ask someone else. The bus out of town to Pucallpa was really awful.
First of all, It was scheduled to leave at 7am. Muy temprano. I set the alarm and got my sleepy ass to the station at 6:45. The bus arrived at 8:30 and we drove about 3km and stopped at a taller Soldero/mecanico on the side of the road.(welder/mechanic). He crawled under the bus and took a bunch of tools and big hammers and jacked up the bus and took his welders torch and mask and spent the next hour and a half doing something. When he finally re-appeared, he was smiling and happy and the bus crew was laughing and shaking hands with everyone and then we were off again. We drove about 30 minutes and then stopped for 45 minutes for road crew to clear debris from the road. Then we drove about 1 km and stopped for another 30 minutes waiting for road crew who were doing some work. Then drove about 1 minute and...yeah thats right, stopped again for road work. It is now 12pm. I have been "travelling" 5 hours and a half and have gone less than 15km. God this sucks.
Finally we are through the construction work and off on another fabulously beautiful road. This is now all down hill to Pucallpa. Through Jungles and little tiny villages. Lots of waterfalls and lovely flowers. finally at 5pm,(we were scheduled to be in Pucallpa at 2pm) we pass a sign that says Pucallpa is only 50km farther. We are on a paved road bouncing along at 60 or 70 km per hour when...Yeah, you guessed it...another break down. This time about half the tread of one of the llantas (tires) blew off. Another 30 minute delay and we finally arrived in Pucallpa at 6:15. Only about 4 hours late, but before dark so I was cool with it all. Ahh the joys of third world travel, eh?
so my first day in Pucallpa I found a boat to go to Iquitos. I went to the¨
¨port¨ just a lot of really shabby bars and whorehouses and the scum of the earth who work in this area. dirty sweaty grimy truly a digusting example of humanity. I felt right at home. I reckon I will sail on a boat called Tuky with a captain called Franco. I have to buy a hammock to sleep in. It costs about 30 USD (90 sol) and the captain expects it will take 3 days to get there. The price includes my meals. Beans and rice cooked in River water, and fish caught out of the river or chickens if they can buy them on route. Gonna be interesting
Pucallpa is a good town. Nice plaza in the center. My hotel is right near the center. Very nice hotel. Friendly helpful staff. I have a relatively quiet room with TV and a private bath for about 9USD (25 sol) per night.It is called the Komby. I recommend it if you ever come out this way. The thing about it is the staff. They are really cool. There is a swimming pool with rather scummy water. I havent tried it.
The front desk guys connected me with 2 englishmen and a spaniard who wanted to go to Lago Yarinacocha, A beautiful lake just outside of town. This is where the proud and wonderful Sobipo Indians all live. The others were in search of a well known Shaman (Pagan priest, witch doctor) called Don Mateo.
We found his home, but he has left and now lives near Iquitos (my next stop). His apprentice is a man called Don Eduardo.
Eduardo has been studying under Mateo for 8 years. He knows all about the magic medicinal plants in the area, and is a frequent visitor to the spirit world. he can guide you to the spirit world and hselp you to heal/know yourself through visions. The method includes ingesting medicinal plants.
It is a combination of plants that you ingest. I dont know all the names. The others were going to take a trip to the spirit world with Eduardo as their guide. I have been there and done that so I declined but was very interested to learn about it just the same. He showed us the plants to be used they all grow all over the area. The principle plant is called Iawasco (I dont know how to spell it but that is more or less how you say it) like Eye-Ah-Was-ko. for 20 hours the branches are cooked in water and the shaman and his helpers chant and sing so that as the spirit of the anaconda which dwells in the plants is not frightened away or harmed by other spirits during the cooking process. They begin at midnight and at nine the next night, the brew is ready and the boys will drink it. In the last hours and minutes some other plants are mixed into it.
There was an argentinian guy there who had tripped with Eduardo the night before. We didnt talk to him much, as he was still pretty tripped out. He sat quietly by himself and as he sat birds landed near him and showed no fear. One walked right up to him and seemed to stare at him. The birds were hanging around him the whole time we were there. When we tried to come close to him the birds flew away.
Tomorrow, Monday, one of the english guys will come back and take the boat to Iquitos with me. The others bought plane tickets and will meet us there. As always I leave you all with some quotes. Next update from Iquitos...

"Money can help you to get medicines but not health. Money can help you to get soft pillows, but not sound sleep. Money can help you to get material comforts, but not eternal bliss. Money can help you to get ornaments, but not beauty. Money will help you to get an electric earphone, but not natural hearing. Attain the supreme wealth, wisdom, and you will have everything." Benjamin Franklin

"To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." Bertrand Russell
Peace and love to all of you,
Rambling Robert

Friday, May 09, 2008

Travel update from Huaraz Peru

So now where was I...Oh yeah I left Mancora and went to Huaraz. Huaraz is in the Caldera Blanca. Way high up in the mountains.3100meters above sea level. For my American friends that would be about 2 miles! To get here from Mancora, I took an overnight bus to Chimbote and from there an all day bus from 8:30am when we left until 5pm when we finally arrived.
The trip went through the canyoñ del pato. That would be canyon of the ducks.What a staggeringy beautiful journey this was. The scenery for the first three hours was just stark. Grey black brown. No green at all. Barren waste land. worse than the badlands of South Dakota. but the road was a narrow dirt road strewn with rocks along a ledge overlooking a rushing river. White water all the way. Along the sides of this canyon were steep ledges like a thousand meters high. Just breathtaking. If you ever wanted to shoot a movie on a desolate deserted moonscape of a planet this is where I suggest you come. Very narrow road. a few times it was really scary. You just shut yur eyes and reckon ...Well if the driver thinks he will live through this I guess we all will!!
We passed a few little settlements and stopped at a cafe in the middle of nowhere. Got drinks and used bathrooms and some people ate. Then we were off again. After another 30 minutes the scenerey began to change gradually there were some cacti and then some trees and before I knew it we were in the high andes forest called selva alta. trees bushes plants. Whoa back on planet earth. Now we can see huge snow capped mountains in the distance. What beautiful vistas. Like nothing I have seen before.
Finally we get to paved road after 7 hours of hard driving. 20 minutes later our bus gets a flat tire. Go figure. through all the rocks and crags and the terrible road, our old mercedes benz bus has no troubles but when we finally get on pavement again...
So finally we get to Huaraz. It is just getting dark. I hate arriving after dark. A tout named Marcos meets the bus and he takes me to a good little guest house on a back street where I get a sweet deal (15 sol per night about $6.50 USD) on a private room with a nice clean hot shower. I needed that.My first hot shower in a month. Yazzahh. Thank the little baby jesus for the small things in life that make you smile. Like your bus not dropping dead on the road in the middle of nowhere. Like a nice friendly family run guest house. Like a HOT shower that you have to mix cold water with or burn yer ass.
I had an altitude headache. Going from sea level to 3100masl in one day will do that. I chewed some coca leaves and took 3 500mg panadols and had an early night. Next day I chilled out and bought a ticket to go on a tour to a national park and see the tallest mountain in peru. I know I know everytime I take a tour I hate it. Well no surprise. Gosh this sucks. they always take you shopping!! Artesan shops full of the same shit they sell in Huaraz but for twice the price... overpriced lunch stop. more shops selling rocks and minersla. after the drive to Huaraz why anyone would buy a rock is beyond my comprehension!!!

Huascarán is an extinct volcano, 22,205 ft (6,768 m) high, near Huaráz. The highest mountain in Peru and one of the highest in the Andes, Huascarán and other nearby peaks form an impressive snowcapped rampart. An Avalanche in 1970 swept down its slopes and buried the village of yungay beneath a few million tonnes of rock mud and snow. the whole thing lasted 3 minutes. 23000people killed. Nothing. I mean nothing left of the town except a recked bus above the rubble. We stopped and saw the bus. There is a big memorial there called Campo santo yungay(sacred field of yungay). Rather grim actually.
Today is my fourth day in Huaraz. I like this town. It is nice and warm in the daytime but at sunset (ppuesta del sol) it gets cold very quickly.They have a great market here. Loads of local food products. A huge variety of potatoes and tubers. lots of river fish. Wonderful cheeses. I have been eating a lot of the local queso anejo(aged cheese). I make little sandwiches in my room. Big surprise to me: the olives (aceitunas) here in Peru are superb. Every bit as good as what I have found in France,Greece, Spain, Portugal, Egypt or Morrocco.Wonderful Paltas (avocados) too. They make these little round balls of quinoa like a candy. Reminds me of the Rice krispy marshmallow candys Debbie W. made for me when I was in Petaluma.
Andy(www.hobotraveler.com ) writes in his blog, that he cant understand people who dress all in black. He likes color. I agree totally. Here in Peru Highlands there are lots of indigenous people. Mostly Inca. They dress very beautifully too. The women all wear special hats so you know what clan they belong too.
So now, here are a couple of quotes to ponder.
Peace and love to All who read these words.

"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Albert Einstein

"Forever is composed of nows." Emily Dickinson

Friday, May 02, 2008

Travel update from Mancora, Peru

Hola Amigos,
Greetings (Saludos) to you all. I havent been writing too much lately. I am still travelling around the world as usual, but i have been kind of laying low, here in North West Peru for the last month. Mancora is a small village, famous for its white sand beaches and its soft easy surf breaks. Surfers and wanna be surfers from all over the world come here to surf or learn how from any of a dozen folks who offer lessons and rent boards. to get a visual check out this sight: www.vivamancora.com
So I have been staying in a place called La Posada where my friend Angela has been renting a little apartment. La Posada is a hostal Angela rents her own large bedroom, bathroom,terrace,kitchen dining area. It is nice. The place is clean and usually quiet but not always, and they have a nice swimming pool too. It is only a ten minute walk through la quebrada ( a word that means like a dried valley formed by a river or water run-off) to the Pacific ocean. The main drag of town is also just on the other side of the quedbrada, and it is like a 5 minute walk to there.
I am writing this on her laptop and listening to Beethovens first symphony on her i-tunes thingy and have just finished my second strong black peruian grown coffee. I make my own coffee with a really cool little one-cup-at-a-time maker that I bought in Viet Nam. Perfect little device for making coffee for a backpacker. those of you who have been to VN will know just the device i am talking about.
I got here on the 8th of April, and have not been "doing" much of anything. Walking on the beach. I've read 3 books and am almost done with Brian Greene's brilliant book called "The fabric of the Cosmos...Space,Time, and the texture of Reality" Which is absolutely mind boggling if you are interested in Reality, from a scientific point of view. I have been reading it for more than a month now and I only average about 10 or 12 pages per day. I have read 5 other books while reading this one. it is not easy going but wow! It is so worth it. Enuf of this shiiit.
So sunsets on the Pacific. Walks down the quebrada into the wilderness which is only 2km away, just on yonder side of them thar hills, they aint nothin for a million miles. I have been working on my suntan and I am happy to report...
Well all this changes in 3 days. I have re-charged my backpack and now I am ready to do some of what I do best which is to say ,travel. On the night of cinco de mayo, I will bus my butt down to Chimbote which is by all acounts Perus ugliest and smelliest and most disgusting place. I will stay here long enuf to change buses and go to Huaraz. A journey from Sea Level to 3,400 meters(11,000 feet)asl.
Huaraz is famous for beautiful pristine alpine lakes and the selva alta (high forest) lots of nice hiking trails and also some excellent ancient ruins. From here I will head over the highest part of the Peruian Andes to go to Huanoco on the other side and there to the Amazonas region of tropical rainforest and a maze of mighty rivers. I will visit a bunch of the amazon towns and travel by boat mostly and bus partly. I expect to hang around this part of Peru for a month visiting Pucallpa, Iquitos and Yurimaguas, Moyotambo and Tarapoto and Tingo Maria. Work on my mosquito bite collection.
The plan then is to head back to Mancora by bus from Piura and hang around until I decide to go elsewhere. Mancora is, for me, a great place to linger. i like the vibe most of the time. There have been a lot more problems with street crime here this last 6 months than any time before, but now the police seem to be cracking down and it appears to be getting safer again. Twice during my first week here, people were held up at gun point crossing the quebrada to get to the entrance to our hotel la Posada. An english couple and a few days later a swedish couple. Fumones. Crack-heads. Here a rock of crack cost about 1 sol(Peruian Neuva Sol) or 25 euro cents! I think a rock of crack costs about 10 dollars in my country compared to 40 cents here! So cheap that the locals have started to smoke the paste. Now these crack heads will knock you down for 10 soles and think its a good score. The war on Drugs is destroying the world and Macora is not immune.
Still, I really like this place and will come back to it after the rivers of the amazonas and the jungles of the selva baja y selva alta.
As always here are a couple of quotes to think about before i write again.

"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."-Lucille Ball

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Siddhartha Buddha
Peace and Love to all who read these words
Rambling Roberto