i sit here listening to paranoiche and can´t help but smile at the story behind the title, and even though none of the ntk wankers are here with me all i need to do is log on to the site and listen to a track and they´re here, somehow, in spirit. it was nice to run into mirko again wearing the mir shirt, i snapped a picture. mir in argentina!
kernel panik arrive here in april. so i might cut my bsas time short and head down to bariloche as soon as next week and then come back up here in april for that.. damn you, tekno, damn you.

i had a rather interesting night last night, people here are... very caliente to say the least, it´s such a change from montreal night life! one more example of the difference between people who live in the cold and people who live with the sun, i guess.

i was walking to meet with juan and kate and someone stopped me in the street asking if i was aprille.

uh no, but i know her..?

very weird.

i think i could like living here after the first few days i´ve been here. porteños seem to be a strange bunch, they remind me a lot of catalans, and therefore a lot of montrealers - we´re all kind of in a league of our own, strange cities with strange lifestyles.

i think i might actually try and get an actual night´s sleep tonight, in lima i never slept, on buses i sleep with one eye open, and if not i´ve usually been waken up by the insane heat, so i think i´m going to pass out about now ish and wake up with the heat at noon, and go out and do my stuffs.


day 3 in buenos aires.

i finally met frances and nahuel (mirko) from OoS and gave them the styli, t shirts and vinyls i´d been carrying since montreal (that´s like what 7000km jaja) and it was really nice to met them.. the international tekno family of wankers. ah, yes. it was nice to hear a familiar acid loop, and they really liked the vinyls - the medellin cartel one really is excellent i must say. i was surprised that the MIR t shirt actually fit mirko, and frances inherited my virus t shirt -- all hand me downs that i can get again but that they probably can´t get, so they really were enchanted. frances and mirko together remind me of dunzy and mat - the older one who´s more zen and the younger one who just makes a mess all the time. haha. sounds like home already!

i keep saying barcelona instead of buenos aires -- they really are that similar, and the vibe here is great. i could see myself getting stuck here heheh.

it´s like someone´s turned on a faucet in my pants and the handle´s stuck, lordy lord such beautiful people in this city, i can only watch in awe as i walk through crowds of porteños all more beautiful than the other.
i basically just walk around all day looking and stuff and getting a feel for the city, i bought a french-spanish pocket dictionary cause i kinda need one, and a roquefort empanada OMG DIVINE DIVINE I want more.
yesterday my lunch was a kg of cashews and a fresh pear to wash it all down, it was lovely.

today i think i´m going to attempt to find how to get to carry´s from here by foot and then tonight drum n´bass with la mario and aprille and maybe carry who knows, buenos aires here i am now, entertain me!


i left jujuy at 5 am and promptly passed out, having not slept all night because i chose to just walk around and visit a bit.
i was awoken at 11am by the sound of a dozen screaming children and i was drenched from having fallen asleep with my sweater and my hamac/sheet.
the air conditioning basically didn´t work, and there were no windows that we could open, not even the emergency exit; we would have had to break the glass.
we stop the bus in the middle of la pampa for half an hour to try and fix it. doesn´t work. we´re already behind schedule, we´ll try at the next rest stop.
but a man passed out, and people started banging on the windows screaming parada, parada por favor. we the bus stopped again, and everyone got in a circle around him and started fanning him with what they could and throwing water on his face. that was another 30 minute stop.
i was the only person on the bus left with water so i passed it to the woman behind me who had 2 kids with her, who wouldn´t stop crying. the bottle never made it back to me, but that´s not a problem, i could deal with it.

we finally get to a gas station, where a couple of the passengers climbed onto the top of the bus to try and opppen the top windows. a really intricate system with wood and string and hooks, well it was functional anyway. there was also a bath thingy and a shop where we all filled up on water for the children and i bought some 4 bottles of water "just in case" which by the time we had to stop at another gas station because the motor was overheating were already long gone.

by that time it was already 19h and we were 3 hours late - the bus didn´t leave until 21h and instead of arriving in BsAs at 3am as planned, i got off the bus at quarter to eight.
you get what you pay for, i suppose. but because of the 45 degree heat inside the bus with children screaming and no air conditioning, water or on bus movie as promised, you can imagine the hell that it was. all 28 hours of it. people were very solidary - the first floor of the bus was more ventilated so everyone let the older women and young children sit down there and the rest of us kind of lived with the dripping swear and sticky seats.

i do however have a strange memory - i don´t know if it´s because of the mix of heat and altitude and diazempam to sleep it all off or if it actually happened -- of someone being on top of me, hands under my shirt and trying to do something to me obviously, and i had no force but managed to escape it unscathed.
i´m thinking it was probably a hallucination rather than reality. i´d rather think it anyway. especially if it concerned the ex convict covered in kinfe wounds sitting next to me, who told me he was going to bsas to find the woman who killed his child.

um.. help.

i was lucky enough to have met a twenty five year old argentinan who´d just been hitchhicking through bolivia and peru who was going to the same barrio as i was. we had chatted a bit about tattoos, okupas and the road, so when he offered to accompany me to aprille´s i accepted without hesitation - he lives about 3 blocks away further north so he took me all the way there. it´s nice cause had he not been there i would have been completely lost.

so after 42 hours in 3 buses since thursday night i´m now finally in bsas and it´s hot as hell, i mean arica and lima were hot but it was a dry heat - here it reminds me of those hot humid montreal nights, or toronto last august at petra ´s with the power outages heh.
i lent my patagonia handbook to an aussie on the busride and forgot to ask for it back when i got off in a hustle in jujuy instead of salta. oh well. i´ll find another one.

i figured out that for some reason commenting was set to members only which is stupid so now you can continue not commenting :)


cuídase, hermana

i left calama at 10 this morning and crossed the atacama for only an hour and a bit into san pedro de atacama where the salar is (salt flats).
imagine a desert with snow capped mountain peaks in the background. imagine the peaks no longer being peaks but actual ginourmous mountains looming over flat, arid desert lands, with the salt flats scattered here and there. i say imagine because my camera´s battery died about 5 km outside of san pedro and i have only but a few pictures to show for my journey.

then we got to purmamarca, a UNESCO world heritage site, and i understand why.. when we got there it reminded me of the road out of andorra into france -- clouds scattered so closely i could reach out the window and feel them in my hands, i could barely see the andes around me, and saw just grey nothingness when i looked over the side of the road. when we finally managed to emerge from the clouds what i saw was breathtaking -- literally, we were at almost 5 000 m for most of the trip and breathing by that point had become quite difficult, and i could feel the fatigue taking over me as i could barely keep my eyes open -- mountains of all of the colours of the rainbow, overlooking a valley of pastures, vinyards and ranches, their peaks hidden within the clouds. blue, turquoise, red, purple, beige, grey, my god i could name them all but some of the colours i saw had no names that i knew of. i don´t think i´ve ever seen something as beautiful as the purmamarca, i swear. and of course i´ll never forget it because it feels like the images of this place have been burned into my eyes, but you´ll never get to see what i saw because my stupid camera decided to die as i was taking pictures of the snow capped mountains overlooking the atacama. but imagine the pyrenees crossed with the grand canyon and the garrigue of provence in the valley, with cactus dotting the slopes of the mountains. absofuckinglutely beautiful. never seen anything like it.

i decided to get of at jujuy instead of salta because i didn´t feel like arriving at 1 am after 27 hours travelling, and jujuy seemed very "hustle and bustle". i walked around looking for a bus to buenos aires -- one company asked me for 350 pesos (more than 100$US): i looked at him and said ¨SOY GRINGA PERO NO SOY ESTUPIDA! LADRON!" (I might be a tourist but i´m not stupid, thief!). then a company offered me 160 pesos (about 50$US) to go to Cordoba tonight and then BsAS in the morning, but I said no because my guidebook says between 20-30$US maximum. finally i found a company that offered a semi-cama plus almuerzo (lunch) for 80 pesos (about 25$) that is holding on to my luggage that leaves for BsAs at 5 this morning, meaning i arrive at 3 am. so i accepted.

for what i´ve seen of argentina up to now, it really is enchantingly beautiful, and compared to chile and peru no one even notices me, i blend in to the settings seeing as there are so many mixes here. i still get the occasional ¨aie no te duele¨?" but i´m used to that.

i made a phone call to bsas and then sat down in the cafe to have a dulce de leche sundae when a little girl who was selling flowers came up to me, i told her no, lo siento, but thank you. then the tv in the cafe started showing the simpsons and she sat down to watch but the owner told her to leave. the little girl was pleading with her saying she just wanted to watch five minutes. so i bought her an ice cream so she could watch the simpsons -- it was only 50 cents, and if only you could have seen the smile on her face.. she was so cute, i couldn t say no. nothing to do with the glue sniffing, gringo hating peruvian street vultures..
stupid rechargeable camera batteries, ecofriendly maybe, but hella stupid when you need a camera to remember something.

then i walked into a restaurant and when the waiter asked what i wanted i said "dame algo de barato, rico y local, y una cerveza, la mas grande que tienes" ie: give me something cheap, good and local, and the biggest beer you´ve got. i ended up with some sort of mystery meat schnitzel with avocado salad (MMMM) and fries and a 40. all for 7 pesos - 2.50$. not bad. i think the beer cost the most though. oh well. alcohol kills bacteria, right?

then i met victor or ´boli´, an ambulant street vendor who tried to sell me needle and thread, lo siento pero no le necisito, gracias, and he just fell in love with my piercings and my hair, que me encanto eso, me encanto quiero los mismos que tu! i bought him a beer and then he went off, telling me he had 3 kids and a ´novia gorda´ (fat girlfriend) to feed.

i still have 4 hours to kill and i don´t really know what to do with myself, jujuy is a small town, i don´t want to wander too far off from the bus station but i don´t wanna sit around it all night either. i wanted to go to a peña but the entrance fee is a bit over my budget (130$ just for transportation from lima to bsas total, still not so bad considering it´s almost 3000 km)

i feel like a new woman, a new person. i´ve been here for 13 days and in those 13 days i ´ve been to 3 countries and 1500 km, i´ve met people, i´ve laughed and cried and danced and gotten drunk, i´ve tried new foods and seen landscapes that have left me in awe. i´ve learned a new form of juggling and been playing the accordeon a lot. being here has made me tap into my creativity pool and rekindle my inspiration to learn and love and live, but especially to be and create and keep my eyes open at all times. there´s something about being in sudamerika that makes me so happy, i don´t know what it is -- is it because i´m finally here after longing for it for so long, "no sueñas tu vida, vivas tu sueño", or is it because it´s a change of atmosphere, of culture, of landscape? i can´t say i really know what it is, but i can feel a change in myself, a change for the better. my survival instincts are back and i´m aware of my surroundings, constantly observing and writing furiously in my red notebook in chickenscrawl while travelling on bumpy roads across the everchanging andes.. the andes. my god.
i used to think the pyrenees were the most beautiful mountains ever. and now, it´s the andes. jungles, deserts, glaciers and fjords, these mountains change every 300 km and i can´t get enough of them.

this cybercafe, as many down here, does not have a cdrom drive so i can upload pictures, the only one i´ve uploaded is the one you see on your right: me looking lovingly at this continent with my finger on arica, city of the eternal spring, where i met people who could melt the entire icy winter of canada with their smiles. i think that´s what i love most about people here is their smiles.. maybe it´s because they´re so dark and their teeth so white, or maybe it´s because when they smile it´s from oreja hasta oreja, i don´t know, but every single person i´ve met here has been so kind and amable it´s uncanny. why have we lost that in the western world? why are we so afraid of eachother? we should embrace our differences!
i´ve gained a new love for life that i´ve never had before while being here.. people are so different, they don´t look at me like a circus freak.. eres distincta, the cop at the border told me, and i´m the only one he smiled at. like el marcel told me, tienen mas miedo de tu que tu tienes miedo de ellos, y por ese la gente te respecte, pero cuidase, hermana, y tienes que ser preparada a toda eventualidad -- they´re more scared of you then you are of them, and for that they will respect you but be cautious and be prepared for everything.

and i think of the card that la kimy wrote that said never i´d have imagined having a french girl, a french girl and not a gringa, in my house, and i am so happy to have met you - thank you for being who you are, and don´t ever change, don´t forget us, and remember you always have a home in chile.

tomorrow i finally arrive in my "promised land", buenos aires, where i hope i will be able to do some street performance to give my visa a breather, before i continue onto patagonia where i will sleep under the most beautiful sky i have ever seen.. we can see orion´s belt in the north, but have you ever seen his bow? there are so many stars it´s incredible, you can see the milky way and magellan´s cloud (the galaxy, puxa!), but you can´t take a picture of it, believe me, i´ve tried... soon patagonia, il n´y a que la patagonie, la patagonie qui convienne a mon immense tristesse.. and then, like in my favourite song, l´autre bout du bout du monde, tierra del fuego.

cuidase, mis cariños, pienso en vs y siempre estais con migo en todo este camino.
after a 10 hour bus ride, i just arrived in calama, a little town about 2 hours northwest of san pedro de atacama - in other words, i´m in the middle of the driest desert on the planet.
i leave at 10 for salta, in argentina, which is a 12 hour bus ride, so i´m crossing my fingers that i´ll be able to hop a bus at 11 or so for BsAs, which is a 22 hour bus ride, so I can be there tomorrow night.

i shared half a cheese and ham sandwich with a little street dog, a beautiful cocker spaniel. it´s amazing the dogs in the street here, i saw a beautiful husky and wanted to take him with me, but they probably wouldn´t let me on the bus with him.

kimy made me a little card with a picture of a flower that i really liked in arica and wrote me the cutest little text and i was reading it on the bus and i swear i was crying, she´s such a sweet thing, i miss her already.

i met a traveller named marcel, a thirty-something chilean with blond dreads and blue eyes, he used to live in montreal, well live is a big word really, he had a little truck that he lived in and travelled all around canada, planting trees, doing the apple thing, yanno, seasonal work.

anyway i gotta jet my bus takes off in 20 minutes and i have to wander back to the geminis terminal and begin the crossing of the ATA-fucking-CAMA.


stuck between the altiplano and the driest desert on earth, the sun always shines in arica. always. it never rains. ever.
for someone who suffers from SAD like i do, my serotonin levels are having a non stop party right now. here, for all you wankers stuck in cold, icy canuckistan: have some sun. there's too much of it down here.
(i can hear you all muttering salope as i type this)

oh, and i have a chilean lover and you guys don't, na na na na boo boo. ok, lover is a bit of an overstatement -- how about drunken one night stand? whatever.
they love the blue eyes. and i love the dark skin. que rico. QUE FUCKING RICISIMO. one more reason to love chile, i swear, the men here are just.. wow. simply breathtaking. and i hear argentinians are even better.
antici.... pation.

putting my libido aside for a minute (hey, i'm not getting any in montreal, i had to make sure everything still works down there OK?), i'm almost sad to leave because everyone i've met here is so wonderful and sweet, and the fact that everything has palta (avocado) in it makes me drool, but i can't wait to see my darling aprille and dance around buenos aires in a tutu and eat parrillas. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

i really don't want to leave south america and i've only been here for 10 days, i feel so at home here, so free, it's owning up to everything i ever dreamed it would be. i can still remember listening to my father's stories about chile and argentina and just the way there were stars in his eyes as he spoke, that was the moment i decided i needed to come see it for myself. and now here i am, completely in love with the desert, with the 45 degree heat and the ice cold pisco sours, with reggaeton and choripan. and kimi who has to be the sweetest thing since dulce de leche, she has such a beautiful soul and a good heart. i wish there were more people like her in this world.
she won't let me pay for food. she won't let me pay for my drinks. she calls me la cata, but some of the others also call me pinky because of my narf tattoo, pinky y el cerebro they say down here.

i managed to upload a lot of pictures (350) on to a cd which i will upload when i get to buenos aires, it takes too long in a cyber and even if it is only 2$ for four hours, i don{t wanna spend four hours in front of a pc when i could be outside in the sun contributing to my peeling tan.


an exerpt from a friend´s blog:

Met various characters including a traveller traveller type who had dreads of many colours, a myriad of piercings, patchwork clothes and who even owned a soundsystem back home in Canada which had been used for squat raves in some of the most unlikeliest places ("no-one could figure out how we got our rig into that place"). Being someone of high intelligence she finally lost her rag and high-tailed it out of Lima when the Aussie crew arrived.

how fitting. thanks, tom.

i leave for salta on thursday.
i love chile. i really do.

and avocados are gods gift to man.

p.s. drunken beach parties while listening to salvador adamo, oh man. so surreal.


it actually took me 21 hours to get from lima to tacna, which is one hell of a long bus ride, but goddamn, the scenery was beautiful. i think i took like 100 pictures of the desert! such amazing contrasts, rice fields and grazing cattle amidst the aridity of the altiplano, and the beaches looked fantastic.
i was sitting next to a fisherman named segundo on the bus, who was such a sweetheart, he kept offering me food and stuff and i kept declining but he'd put it in my hands saying toma toma tienes que comer algo so in the end i accepted the chicharrones (some sort of grilled salted pork with grllled salted corn) and the dulces and the popsicles.
whenever the bus would stop somewhere hordes of people would come to the window saying what they had to sell and the passengers would throw money out the window for them in exchange for various foods, i actually think that's such a wicked idea, we should have that in canada.
now i know everyone says don't eat anything from street vendors but it's so fucking good and so cheap, and since when have i been one to follow the rules?

tacna was a nightmare, everyone telling me one thing and then another, like get your story straight i just spent 21 hours on a bus now get me to chile pronto! it ended up costing me about 3$ to get to arica and another 3$ to get into chile, i finally arrived in arica at 11 pm chilean time (+2h from lima time) and maria catalina, a peruvian housemaid who works here, helped me find a hostel around the bus terminal.
i decided i wasn't tired enough to sleep (the travelers at the hostel suggested i buy some diazepam for the long bus trips, one of those blue babies put me out for a good 15 hour) so i went out to the centre looking for a bar. first bar was some karaoke bar with a few old guys sitting around drinking pisco, so i bolted pretty fast. as i left the bar i noticed a sign saying SALIDA - ESCAPE. i had to chuckle at that.

then i heard the smiths coming out of a bar down the street so i went there and it's a good thing i did! marcelo the bartender actually GAVE me beer after beer and introduced me to his friends kike (a dj who likes acid tekno whaaaaaaaaaat!) and his girfriend kimi, jorge and ignacio.
they all seemed appalled that i paid 10$ for a night in a hostel and kimi suggested i come live with her because she lives alone while her mother works in iquique. i know most people would think it's a bad idea, but i spent 4 hours conversing with these people and sometimes you can just tell if someone has a good heart, and these guys definately have a beautiful energy to them so i accepted her offer and i'm really glad i did, because this is what it's about you know? meeting people and living like them, alongside them, instead of being scared of them. besides, what can a bunch of 19 ear old stoners possibly do to me, i wonder?
after we went to the beach and as usual i ran into the water fully clothed, i took a few pictures but you can tell i'm completely wasteland by that point.

i think i'm in love with this country and the chileans are so hospitable and amable it's incredible. not to mention drop dead gorgeous, such a refreshing change of scenery from the short stumpy hooked nose peruvians (no offense intended and i know this sounds superficial, but they are not a very attractive bunch) i was only going to stay a day in arica but i think i'll stay a bit longer, it's a beautiful little town and half of it was designed by eiffel, but anyway the vibe here is really nice. it's a 30 hour bus ride to Santiago or 35 to Mendoza so i think i'm going to skip santiago and go straight to argentina.
of course i change plans every day so who knows?

i'm off to sit my pasty white ass on the beach and eat some palta.


i booked a bus for tacna, i leave at 7 tonight and arrive at tacna at 4 tomorrow afternoon - it´s a 17 hour trip with a few stops. i hope i can get into arica before the sun goes down, but i probably won´t. i don´t want to have to stay overnight anywhere but i´d really like to hit the beach at least once, apparently the beach there is gorgeous.
i´m too broke to afford even a semi-cama so i just went with the basic economico, but there were no window seats left, boo.
i just got back from central lima in a collectivo which goes through 4 different districts, the contrast in this city between poor and rich are unreal : standing on plaza de armas with it´s enormous colonial vestiges and seeing the shanties on the moutain in the distance, wow, i wish i had my camera, but it´s burned into my mind so i don´t think i´m about to forget it any time soon.
i can´t wait to get to chile and sit my ass on some clean sand and dive into blue water (instead of murky brown). i´ve got one hell of a wicked tan already, by the time i get back to lima i reckon they won´t be calling me gringa anymore :)


as usual i´m still up at 7 in the morning - since arriving here i usually take a 3-4 hour nap when it´s cool in the morning and then when it´s too hot i wake up and go out. today i´m just going to skip the nap and walk to miraflores, get some breakfast and just walk around a couple markets without buying anything aside from a bathing suit and some sunglasses because i have neither!

i´m trying to escape tonight to pisco, and then head to nazca to see the lines, maybe stop for a day in arequipa and then bus down to tacna to cross into arica in chile. that should take me about a week, if i don´t go to hostels and just take night buses and sleep in them.
from tacna it´s a very very long bus ride to varparaiso that goes through the atacama, and from valparaiso i´m going to cross into argentina. i don´t think i´ll go through santiago this time around but rather when i come back from tierra del fuego.
i´m sad to not have seen the punk squatt or to have visited villa el salvador, because i don´t want to stay more than 2 days in lima before i catch my flight. i hope that by the time i get to macchu picchu it isn´t heavily booked in advance!
i´m excited to be finally attacking the road, i needed a few days to get accustomed to being here before jumping into it completely but now i feel ready to just fly. i mean i´ve got three months man, i gotta make the most of my time and my (little) money!

i probably won´t have much internet access as i´ll be wandering around cities and sleeping on buses most of the time instead of staying in hostels so this is me saying ¨YES THE BEACHES OF SOUTH PERU AND THE SNOW CAPPED ANDES BRING IT ON!¨ and disconnecting from the world for a few weeks.


feeling kind of disconnected today, there are so many people in the hostel now, and right now most of them are sitting at the bar.
this afternoon i was pretty bored, a lot of people were still sleeping at 4 and the others were nursing their hangovers in front of the television. the sun was way too strong to actually go out before 4, so i ate a bit of fruit and decided to go for a walk - barranco is pretty safe during the day because there are policeman everywhere, and at night if you avoid the beach areas you should be fine - no one wanted to come with so i took off alone. two twenty something peruvian boys came up to me, asked me where i was from, what was my name, i chatted with them for a bit in the street trying to pick up a vibe, finally my gut instinct told me to lose the paranoia a bit. they brought me to a tattoo parlor just down the street and i sat and talked with the tattoo artist, luis, for a while, smoked a bit of mota, met a peruvian with blue eyes! it turns out the two boys who accosted me on the street and luis are also malabaristas and tonight a couple of us from the hostel are going to go to puente de los suspiros to do the bohemian thing. barranco is actually quite an artistic district, and i must say it is very beautiful, the architecture and the colors are breathtaking.

apparently there is a hostel here for 7 soles a night, if that is the case then i am so moving out of this hostel! it´s cheap by international standards for the facilities that are offered but it´s like the club med for backpackers on the gringo trail, and i hate that right now i´m on it.

i might meet up with someone i met here in iquitos in april to go to the jungle for an ayahuasca ceremony. it´s such a powerful plant, and i came here to find answers so i´m sure the huasca can help me answer them. from what i´ve heard the first voyage is very scary for most because it brings out all of your fears, questions, everything you hide from yourself generally when you try to pretend everything´s ok but really it´s not: it just shoves it in your face, brutally honest.
supposedly the indians can just glance at you and see if you´re sick or have a problem and they brew different plants and things to heal you, i´m not saying i am sick but i do think a bit of shamanic magic could open my eyes to the important things in life.

i´m starting to think 3 months isn´t enough, i just wanna go everywhere right now. and get the fuck out of this hostel!
yesterday i went to meet moises, a juggler punk who is friends with aprille and who happens to live just a block away. when i saw this heavily pierced and tattooed little peruvian punk with the biggest smile i´d ever seen i thought, finally, i think i might have found the way to get over my peruphobia and actually connect with the locals! a couple of his friends were there and invited me to come out with them. i figured it´s either that or go back to the hostel where i´ll do nothing, or take them up on their offer and discover a side of the city i´ve been trying to find - obviously i went with them.
elisa, ketty and rodrigo (who used to live in montreal in a theatre!) are malabaristas, jugglers, and what jugglers! contact juggling, mendalas, poi, claves, trapeze and stilts even. they took me to an artist space about 2 blocks away from plaza barranco, a beautiful old colonial building with large courtyards, workshops and a stage set up for trapeze and those neat pieces of cloth that people use to suspend themselves in the air. they were all practising with eachother and exchanging moves and techniques - i can´t juggle to save my life, although i´ve tried, so i sat and watched in awe for a few hours until one of them passed me a plastic contact ball to practice with. and then ketty taught me how to do mendelas, which has similar movements to poi but is done with large pieces of cloth, it´s very suave, fluid, i really liked it. it inspired me to want to buy some juggling stuffs (because it´s just sooooo much cheaper here) so i can practice when i´m in the middle of nowhere in patagonia by myself. the mendelas came pretty easily whereas the pelota is really hard, but when i actually managed to make it move in my hand i was so happy i started to dance around like the drunken, easily excited fool that i am.
they were very
patient and open, and for the first time since i got here i felt like this is what i came here to see. i ended up staying with them until 4 am, and when i went to leave elisa handed me a beer and said "no te vayas!!".. i took the beer but left anyway cause i was beat, but they invited me to go back to the space tonight for a juggling show. i thanked them for the invitation and being so kind and generous despite the fact that i´m a gringa but they assured me that i wasn´t and that i had a good vibe about me so to come back whenever. i managed to walk the 5 blocks back to the hostel without being frightened that anyone was going to attack me, and passed out in my hamac promptly upon arriving - i pay for a bed that i don´t use, i sleep in my hamac in the courtyard every night, and the hostel´s pet kitten usually curls up with me.

moises told me about a punk squat in the centre that i´m dying to see. i want to see how peruvian punks live! he´s probably not up yet but i hope i can go there with him today.

there are some wonderful people in this hostel, but a lot of them are here to surf, party, and get laid, which isn´t at all why i´m here.. they don´t really exchange much with the locals, other than bodily fluids of course. i´ve never really hung around backpackers as generally when i travel i either stay with friends of friends of a friend, or in squats, and they do have a certain level of westernism that they bring with them. what´s the point of going to peru if it´s to get drunk with other foreigners in the backyard of a hostel? or basing your travel experience on which city has cheaper booze, easier girls and a better nightlife? some of these people have been all around the world but know nothing of any of these places they´ve visited other than the obvious tourist destinations and monuments. i was talking with an american girl about experiences in egypt and then a few minutes later i overheard her say she´d never been to africa -- HI EGYPT IS IN AFRICA YOU IDIOT. at the risk of sounding like a pompous asshole, if you´re going to brag about it you should at least get your facts straight about where you´ve been.

i really do think a big part of my paranoia came from their hesitance to do anything; and because i don´t want to go out alone, i´ve barely seen the city. but now that i have met peruvians who i actually connected with, i think i´m going to try and see more of them so i can learn about how they live.
one of the girls, ketty, she works as an anthropologist in la selva with indigens, studying the way they live, how they educate each other, their symbols and mysticism. we talked about it for a while and it seemed fascinating, with what i could understand of it with my mediocre castellano. i had really interesting conversations with them about the street children and poverty after i told them i wanted to go into social work. i might be on the other side of the world but certain things are always the same despite cultural differences - in montreal it´s heroin addicts shooting up on the street in broad daylight and the crackheads who live on my corner, in lima it´s 5 year old children sniffing shoe polish and smoking pasta. same shit, different pile. i really had excellent conversations (even though sometimes i was struggling with the language barrier) with them and i´m happy to have been able to meet them, it opened my eyes to a side of lima i didn´t think would exist.

it´s so hot right now, i´d say at least 40, and the sun is beating down so hard i´m in a slight vegetative state right now. i got my first sunburn here, really badly might i add, just by being at the beach for an hour and a half! we must have looked like something else down there, wading through the (filthy) water fully clothed with a 2$ bottle of champagne wrapped in a yellow plastic bag in our hands.
saturday night there´s something called the freak show, with suspensions and stuff, i might actually be able to get suspended myself! that would be so so so great, it´s something i´ve wanted to do for some time now!

i´m going to get a 20 cent ice cream now and take in some sun, this time i hope i don´t burn to a crisp.


day 3 in lima.
i decided to leave the hostel yesterday, accompanied by a motley crew comprised of jolande, a dutch girl, bryn, an american girl, tom, a cockney musician and richard, a scot; we ventured out to centro lima even though it is reputed to be quite dangerous (and understandably so) to check out chinatown(i wanted cheap sandals but couldn´t find any, it seems that a size 10 is unheard of in peru) and eat at a chifa.
strangely enough, lima supposedly has the largest chinese community of south america, yet i saw maybe 2 chinese people in chinatown. it´s mostly markets selling indian clothes, street vendors and kids selling candy, in an area full of buildings in semi ruin and quite a dirty setting -- an interesting contrast from touristy miraflores and bohemian barranco. they have a sort of clandestin animal market there, people carry 4 or 5 puppies around at a time. they are all such beautiful dogs, boxers, pit bulls, even huskies: but half of them look like they´re dying, it´s so sad. i wish i could have at least taken one with me to get it out of such horrible treatment, but alas, i could not.
when we arrived at the mercado central, a boy of about 8 approached us to try to sell us candy as most of the children here do. we politely shook our heads, ¨no, gracias, necesitamos nada¨ as we got out of our taxi and rummaged through our pockets for the 8 soles required to pay for our ride.
the child was perched on the door, reaching into the cab trying to pick the change out of bryn´s hand as she was counting it and trying to recuperate 50 cents that had fallen behind the hand brake.

a swarm of them started to gather around us, probably thinking that the five gringos were easy targets, and i have to admit it threw me off guard- i might be a gringo, but i´m certainly not a rich one, and to be honest, at that point i was really annoyed with these children who just would not go away no matter how many times we told them to piss off.
they may have snot and grime smeared on their face, that´s not going to get to me, i´ve seen it before and i know it´s an act - i´ve seen gypsy kids rob tourists in the parisian metro and hold out dirty hands asking for money with their thick accents ¨s´il vous plait donnez moi argent¨ ; groups of twenty children in mexico trying to sell me 5 pieces of gum for 25 cents and old women clutching babies wrapped in filthy bandages; or seven year olds who are blind and deformed, with arthritis you´d only think a seventy year old could have, playing the erhu at 3 am in beijing; little flower girls who should be in school but who, because their parents assumed that sending them away to the city would be more beneficial for them, are wandering the streets in search of tourists so they can bring back enough money to send to their parents.. it´s a vast global scam to try and use children to make us feel like crap and take pity upon seeing their big brown eyes and tattered clothes. honestly, it could work, if only you didn´t see them run off five seconds later to start playing in the streets with a smile and pointing at the gringo they just ripped off. these children look so cute and innocent, but they´ll put on a song and dance to rob you blind without you noticing, ¨quiero agua, dame agua¨ - as you pass them your bottle of water, two others will be behind you, opening your bag to steal your stuff and sticking their tiny, agile hands in your pockets.

we were literally swarmed by a group of four or five children with packets of sweets, holding out their hands pleading with us to give them money to eat as we´re all standing around the taxi wondering what in god´s name was going on and why our friend was still sitting in the cab. it drew even more attention to ourselves, but we attempted to serve as guards from these vultures in training looking for anything to grab from us; they were really persistant, poking their hands through the door trying to snatch up a sole, "por favor para comer, por favor tengo hambre, dame algo¨ pointing towards the coins.

one of these children was so incredibly persistant it was almost scary. he just wouldn´t give up, no matter how many times we tsked at him and shooed him away. seeing as i speak spanish a tad bit better than the four others, i swatted at his hand when he reached for the change in bryn´s hand. i looked at him and told him ¨no tenemos nada para ti, ahora vayate!¨
he looked at me with such hate, i could almost read in his eyes something along the lines of "if i had a knife, i would slit your throat right here and now". i have to admit it sent a certain chill down my spine, and i thought to myself.. maybe i should have listened to the woman at the front desk when she warned us not to venture into central lima. i don´t think i´ve ever been scared of a child before, but this little guy gave me a serious case of the creeps, especially when he followed us for twenty minutes.

other than that, it was an interesting experience to be in what seems like the only chinatown in the world that doesn´t actually have anything chinese except for the food, which even at that seems peruvianised : i´m assuming it´s because the chinese, great business men as they are, have realised there is absolutely no money to be made in lima, as the peruvians have a hard enough time as it is running their little market stalls that all sell the same generic indian sarongs and faux inca tokens.

i´m quite used to being stared at in the "western" world, but here, it´s absolutely incredible how they stop in their tracks and glare at me as if i´d just landed here from pluto. serves me right for having blue hair, a mostly shaved head and multiple facial piercings.
however, compared to north america or europe where people stare at me as if i have the plague, here people laugh and smile, full of curiosity. they don´t find me repulsive, on the contrary, they find it rather amusing to see this gringa with rags for clothes (i have duct tape covering up a huge slit in the backside of my pants, a souvenir from jumping a fence to go swimming in an exposition lot a few years back and a rat chewed tank top), and cheek piercings (which are actually of incan origin!). many of them came up to me, mostly to say "diosmio! no te duele esos piercings? porque tienes tanto; te gusta el dolor?" . i usually don´t like being pointed at or glared at, my general reaction is to ask if they want my picture so it lasts longer, but here it goes over well because they aren´t aggressive or hostile about it at all, which is a refreshing change from the habitual piercings + dreads = junkie who shouldn´t be approached attitude back home. the children especially seem to find my appearance fascinating as they all point at me with wide eyes and smile, asking "papa, porque ella tiene el pelo azul?"

i still can´t help feeling bad for all the children who walk barefoot in the streets with their little packets of candy: i would love to buy candy from them, but i don´t want to encourage them to live like this, begging on the street and, if that doesn´t work, stealing. i do hope to be able to work with these children, to give them a chance to get good head start in life. before coming down here i had found an organization that arranged volunteer work in ayacucho, but it was very expensive and i found out by asking around that there are many free volunteer opportunities throughout south america. one of the peruvian girls who works at reception here at the hostel took one of the guests staying here to an orphanage for a day. he told me they had offered him a volunteer position, taking the kids to the parc, playing with them, bathing them, taking them to the doctor, giving them their medication, teaching them to read and whatnot. he declined, but i wanted to know more, so paola got me the number and i hope to be able to work at least a few days with these children. at first i thought my spanish wouldn´t be good enough, but she assured me that it would be sufficient to communicate with five year olds - just goes to show how mediocre my castellano has gotten over the years, even if i feel flattered when the peruvians ask me if i am spanish because of my lispy c´s and z´s. someone even asked me if i was catalan!

lima seems like such a strange place, full of contrasts and risks at every corner, i have eyes behind my head at all times and the minute i feel something brush against me i flip out thinking it´s a pickpocket or something. it´s definately not a city i feel comfortable in, but i want to discover it, learn its secrets. i´m thinking of going to villa el salvador which is an autonomous squatter settlement south of the city, just to look at the way people live and to try and understand it. there´s also a possibility to go visit the shantytowns with a guide (weird, i know), which i definately want to do, because it´s the reality for such a large portion of the population here and i´m not here just to stay in miraflores with all the malls and burger kings - i want to experience lima for what it is, a multi facetted city lodged between the andes and a very polluted pacific coast; where colourful colonial buildings stand next to decrepit concrete buildings, palm trees and shanty towns, enormous markets where the stalls are full of handicrafts on one side and plastic made in china trinkets on the other.

it really is a strange place, i´ve never actually been scared to walk alone even in broad daylight anywhere, but here nothing ever seems safe or sure. it´ll take some getting used to.


lima, si!

i arrived in lima at one am last night, got to my hostel around 2.30 where i was greeted by a motley crew of canadians, dutch and aussie folk.
i just woke up, due mostly to the fact that i hadn t slept in a few days.. the sun is beating down and it s so refreshing, seeing as just yesterday i was in subzero temperatures.
i was planning on going out for some ceviche but apparently it s not worth going after 2pm as the freshness of the fish is compromised.. i guess i ll just have to wait until tomorrow!

i think i m going to go to mendoza for the wine festival before going to buenos aires, i don`t plan on sticking around lima for too too long...

i`m off to the food fair.



I leave for Lima in 9 days!


If all goes as planned (which it probably won't), I should be in Lima for two weeks, then I have two choices on how to get into Argentina:
cross into Bolivia through Lake Titicaca, and take the road south of La Paz into northern Argentina, where I'll hit Iguacu and then Rosario;
or go to La Paz, then go east towards Santa Cruz to take the "Death Train" to the Brazilian border, go south into Paraguay and continue down until northern Argentina.
I will stay in Buenos Aires for a few weeks, this is sure. I hope to at least hit Montevideo in Uruguay for a day or so before I continue south into Patagonia. From there I will begin my jouney to Tierra del Fuego (the reason for the trip) and Ushuaia. After Ushuaia, I will go through the Chilean Lake District to Puerto Montt, and then go north to Santiago and Valparaiso.
After that, I will go back to Peru, hit Cuzco (how "gringo trail follower" of me..), and if time allows I will go north of Lima for a bit, before finally returning to Lima a week before I leave, so around May 10th.