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a travel blog by Jason Kester

It was threatening to rain at Helen's place Northern England, so I booked us one-way tickets to Lima.

Not sure if that was a good idea. I'll keep you posted.
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Llegamos a Lima

Lima, Peru

Continent #6 is officially checked off the list. All that remains is Antarctica, and since it's not going anywhere, it can wait until I've made the big bucks and can afford to do it in style. For now, it's time to get down to business. Specifically, it's time to figure out exactly what there is to do in Peru, since we really didn't spend much time researching anything...

I know they've got some form of Inca Trail here, and that it goes to Machu Picchu (and that I shelled out a pile of money to secure us a slot on it). That's 22 days from now, and 21 hours away by bus. I suspect there's a lot of cool stuff between here and there.

I'll let you know when I find some of it. Thus far, I've found some tasty Zendas, an adaptador for my laptop charger, and a pretty cool little 3rd world capital. Our room has the bonus feature of sharing a wall with the local bar street. It certainly sounds like it's more fun over there. I think I shall investigate...

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 2, 2009 from Lima, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
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Paracas, Peru

So our last day in Lima was pretty cool. The old Spanish colonial center is groovy, though they had it on double-secret security alert while we were there. There were dudes with guns milling around everywhere you looked, and accumulating in bunches in alleyways. One guy was walking around with an extra clip of ammunition for his AK-47, presumably because he expected to use the first one up that day and didn't want to feel silly for not having more.

Heading home, we found ourselves locked out of the Hostel for most of the evening, since the guy who answers the buzzer was asleep. Good thing too, since the place we went to find a beer & kill time turned out to be a really cool hostel, differentiating itself from ours by having windows, not being a dank hovel with mice, and having a bunch of fun people to talk to up on the roof. It's http://www.hostelkokopelli.com/ if you're ever in Lima. We'll head back there next time we're in town.

Anyway, on to the Ceviche. We headed down to Paracas, about 4 hours south by bus. They drop you at a crossroads on the main highway, about 20k short of the town, in front of a booth labeled "Tourist Information" filled with people telling you that all the hotels in Paracas are full because it's a Sunday, but there's one place they can hook you up with that has a room for $40/night. And there aren't any buses but we can get you a special rate on a taxi.

Thanks, dude. We'll try our luck anyway, and hey! Isn't that a local bus going past with a "Paracas" sign on it? Let's see it they're closed on sundays too...

Paracas is a small place, but still they manage to segregate out the "Restaurant Turistico" district from the local places. We grabbed a giant plate of Ceviche from a place with plastic chairs and a bunch of locals. Mmmm.... raw fish in the 3rd world... that's good eatin'!

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 4, 2009 from Paracas, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
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Big Day with penguins and deserts & stuff

Huacachina, Peru

Our hotel in Paracas came with a nice rooster to wake us up in time for a boat trip out to the Islas Ballestas, which is probably as close as we'll come to the Galapagos on this trip. It was actually pretty cool for ten bucks, and we got within poking distance of seals, penguins, pelicans, and several zillion cormorants.

The beach was cool and all, but when we got back to the hotel we caught wind of a collectivo heading straight to Huacachina that was leaving immediately. A quick flurry of packing, a couple hours of discomfort, and suddenly we're at a desert oasis surrounded by sand dunes. Cool!

Much chilling ensued, along with some thoroughly perilous dune buggying out to do some sandboarding. Huacachina is one of those backpacker vortices that are just so comfortable that you find yourself in a permanent state of "we'll probably move on tomorrow", but really they shouldn't even bother offering bus service out of the place. You're not leaving.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 5, 2009 from Huacachina, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
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Please stop circling the monkey!

Nazca, Peru

We finally escaped the Vortex yesterday and found a bitchin' 1974 Dodge Coronet collectivo taxi headed to Nazca with a load of cargo and a local couple. After 2 hours of bleak desert nothing, we came across a stretch of bleak desert nothing with a bunch of parked tour buses and a bunch of people clamboring up a set of spiral stairs to nowhere.

This was the place!

Nazca is the single least impressive archaelogical site in the world to visit on the ground. There's simply nothing there. It's not in the least bit surprising that then never found it (and even went so far as to build a highway through it) before 1939. It only works from the air.

So to the air we went. $50 will get you a seat on a Cessna 172 for half an hour flying over the lines, which I have to say are pretty freakin' sweet. The pilots they have are awesome, and they spend most of their time in a 45 degree banked turn circling a few hundred feet above one pictograph or another.

After about 10 minutes of this treatment, you're pretty much Nazca'd out. OK, I get it. It looks like a bird. You've circled it seven times now and I'm about to vomit. No, please, I beg you, there's no need to circle it in the other direction... ow... look at the horizon... breathe... It'll be over soon.

So yeah, it's good value. Now we're back at the hostal, dipping in the queen-sized pool and waiting for the quease to subside before the big Night Bus to Arequipa.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 8, 2009 from Nazca, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
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Arequipa, Peru

Spent a week in Arequipa taking Spanish lessons and wandering around the town. Arequipa is cool, with a colonial vibe, cobbled streets, and Stone buildings.

We stuck it out for almost 10 days in the end, and since we weren´t doing tours and stuff every day it actually ended up being the cheapest bit of the trip so far. Well worth it.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 16, 2009 from Arequipa, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
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The Great Laptop Heist

Puno, Peru

It will go down as one of the greatest crimes of the century.

Somehow, in the downstairs compartment of a luxury night bus, in a locked room with only 9 seats, while my bag was between my legs and I don´t remember ever being asleep, somebody managed to rummage in and swipe my laptop. And my blingin´Moroccan sunglasses.


Speaking of Lame, Puno is kinda lame. I mean it´s fine and all, but Paul showed up without his bag and we´re stuck here waiting for the airline to get its act together and forward the bag along, and frankly there´s a lot of places I´d rather be than right here.

At least there´s an internet cafe here, which will come in handy since now I need to eBay myself a new machine and figure out how to get it built into a dev box and sent down here.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 18, 2009 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: South!
tagged Disaster and Heist

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International Border Dispute

Copacabana, Bolivia

Fun fact: Thanks to some silly embargo dating from the Bush administration, Bolivia now charges Americans $135 to visit their country.

Fun fact #2: That´s not written in the Lonely Planet.

So here´s how you do it if you´re ever in the neighborhood. First, you argue with the border guard for a while. Then you go back to the Peruvian side and complain how the Bolivians are a bunch of idiots who want to extort 135 USD from me, and screw that, please stamp me back into your fine country.

Then you tiptoe your way back over to the Bolivian side, slip the guy a crisp new $20 bill and casually make your way to the nearest collectivo taxi headed into Copacabana.

Coming back, you casually peruse the fruit stands while your non-US compatriots make their way through immigrations, all the while being scrutinized ever more carefully by an angry looking guy in a uniform. Then you --HEY LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT BIRD!!!-- and you cheeze it across the border at full tilt and hope nobody starts shooting at you.

I didn´t like Bolivia all that much. It made me nervous.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 21, 2009 from Copacabana, Bolivia
from the travel blog: South!
tagged CertainDeath

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Cusco, Peru

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 24, 2009 from Cusco, Peru
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Iquitos, Peru

permalink written by  Jason Kester on October 30, 2009 from Iquitos, Peru
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Yurimaguas, Peru

permalink written by  Jason Kester on November 4, 2009 from Yurimaguas, Peru
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Jason Kester Jason Kester
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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.

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