Just a quick update here; I made a video of my time in Chile- Check it out! For everyone whose life doesn’t revolve around kayaking, apologies. I have made a mental note to capture more non-paddling footage in the future…
Arrival in Peru
For the last couple of months I had been on the fence whether to drive up to Peru, or to sell my little van in Santiago and jump on a bus. In the end I left the decision up to chance and whether I could find some fun travellers to make the journey with. No travellers appeared, but there was plenty of interest in the van. The first people to come and look took her away for $100 less than what I paid in January; the benefit of buying a car at the lowest end of the depreciation spectrum.
What a relief! Not having to worry about her breaking down, repairs or resale value anymore. Bus is fast, easy, super cheap and reduces my footprint. Relief quickly faded once I realised how difficult it is to get around on public transport with a huge kayak and a whole heap of equipment… Not to worry, my time in Peru will be predominantly spent on long multi day/multi week trips, so although travel on busses arduous, it won’t be needed too often.
After 30 hours on the bus (watching the same few movies up to 4 times) I arrived in Airca, a beautiful coastal city at the very top of Chile. Spent the night there then caught a taxi over the border into Peru, then another full day on the bus to Arequipa.
First impressions of Peru- This place is AWESOME! Everything is heaps cheaper than Chile, food is delicious, and there’s huge mountains everywhere. Arequipa itself is sitting in a kind of mountainous desert at altitude 2300m. An old city with cobbled streets and tonnes of heavy stone & brick buildings, the centre is stunning. Surrounded by urban sprawl, the place is bustling. A lucky break on the ride up, bumping into some of the Chileano raft guides from Futaluefu meant that I was instantly introduced to the local kayakers here in Arequipa. Perfect! A place to stash my kayak, find my bearings and before I know it an offer of work for a few days later in the week! I was planning on tagging along with some of the raft trips on Rio Chili anyways, just so I could see the river while I am here, but getting paid to do it is good too!
The main goal for these first few weeks in Peru however is to work on my Spanish; something which is becoming more and more important as we start get toward the organisational end of this project. I am staying with a local family, taking some much-needed Spanish lessons throughout the day, then hanging out with them in the evenings. Needless to say, they are super friendly, super nice people and its a lot of fun trying to make sense of what the girls (11&13) are excitedly trying to tell me. Sometimes we can play word games, hang out watching movies in Spanish or I might show them some paddling footage.
Pretty excited to be here in Peru, a little scared about the crazy challenging kayak missions that are on the horizon and cannot believe how time is flying by. Next week some real excitement begins; putting on the Upper Rio Colca for 6 days; starting at ~2600m and paddling to the sea. The week after will be Rio Cotahuasi, the deepest canyon in the world; 7 days starting at~3000m then paddling to the ocean. Fairly sure this will be the most challenging boating I have done, but also through some of the most spectacular places. Cant wait to see the enormity of the geological features, hiking boats in on the backs of donkeys and riverside hot springs.
June will be spent on Rio Maranon, getting a first hand perspective of the area, the people and the issues. Following this Laura and I will be able to really start working on the project and figure out how it will all come together and have the greatest positive impact. I am really looking forward to getting in touch with a number of community and environmental groups which will offer some real insight into the issues and solutions. It would be an incredible experience if we can meet Inspirational people like Ruth Buendía Mestoquiari or those involved in the Conga Conflict. I am incredibly grateful of this project, just for opening those door and giving me a reason to search these people and places out, it adds an incredible new dimension to travelling.
A Potato Store, As Potato Stores Should Be:
That’s right. One store completely dedicated to potatoes. How is this possible? In places not yet overtaken by giant monoculture farming and massive supermarket food chains, heaps of different species are still readily available. It’s almost unimaginable when you go shopping in the supermarket back home. ‘What! There’s more than one, or two kinds of potato!’. I’d rather live in a diverse world; there is a word that describes our efficient, ‘cheap’ western way of doing things- bland.