Sunday, May 4, 2008

Una buena Aventura/ A severe bout of Israeli-itis

So I arrived in Huaraz, a town nestled in the Cordillera Blancas, with a woozy head and some straining lungs though tis only 3052m high. The next day, my acclimatising/lazy day consisted of tasty food and a mad panic to try and arrange the 4 day Santa Cruz trek for the next day. An 'Ulrike and Knut' had advertised in the hostel for companions for that very trek but sounding like a couple and ever so German, I thought a bigger group might be more fun. I found a company who had a German (undisclosed gender), a French lad and two Israeli sisters going the next day. Even though I was a little wary of the the two Israelis, because of their bad reputations as travellers, I thought I´d risk it. Dear god, that´s the last time I risk anything involving Israelis.

I got up at the crack o´ dawn, had a double porridge breakfast and headed down to the agency with me little backpack and a rubbish bag full of useful waterproof things for the donkeys to carry. I met the two Israeli sisters and the guide and then met another two Israeli girls. Yes, the German and French people turned out to be Israelis. So rather than a vaguely multicultural group, I had 4 moaning whiney idiot Israeli girls.

After sulking for two hours on the bus, I decided there was feck all that I could do about it and decided it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about a culture I knew little about, pfffffff, yeh right - I knew they´d be idiots (a group of 4 of all one nationality are bound to be), but I was determined to have a good time. I tried my hardest for 2 solid days to make conversation with these girls. And even though they all spoke almost flawless English, every conversation I started, was interrupted by one of the other girls and then continued in Hebrew. I spent three nights in the cooking tent with them, eating the unusual dinners, lovingly prepared by Juan the guide, and Jose the donkey driver, and being totally excluded from their conversation. Goddam rude feckers; I´d like to put each of them separately on a 4 day trek with 4 non-Hebrew, non-English speaking folk (I can´t think of any obnoxious nationality to insert here). Juan was lovely, though not hugely talkative and Jose seemed nice enough too, though there was a wee bit of a language barrier.

But the hike was unbelieveable. I´ve never done more than a 2 day trek and I was quite nervous after 10 months of faffing about with no exercise, that a 50km trek at high altitudes with my rather muscleless body, might be a problem. But nah, it was grand. Hard, but goddam amazing. Every day the view was more stunning than the day before. There was beautiful perfectly shaped mountains topped with snow, powder blue glacial lakes, meadows with horses galloping about and waterfalls all over the place.

I had a little one man tent all to myself (thank goodness) where each night I donned the following: 3 pairs of socks, two pairs of trousers, two thermal layers, two fleeces, a snowboarding jacket, the mandatory silly peruvian hat and pair of wollen gloves. But even with all that, the minus 5 degrees always froze the ass off me. But waking up with a splendid snow capped mountain or waterfall as a view, was definitely worth it. Next time, I´ll bring a Swiss boy to keep me warm.

I think the highlight was on day 3 after a two and a half hour ridiculously steep ascent to the pass where I sat at 4750 metres looking from one valley to the next and thinking how lucky I was. My thoughts of luckiness turned to annoyance as the 4 girls nattered loudly in Hebrew and were joined by another 3 israelis coming up the pass in the other direction also nattering in Hebrew. I´d had goodam enough Hebrew to last me a lifetime, so I climbed to a higher point, found myself a comfy rock out of Hebrew earshot and lay in the sun taking in the view and eating a valued packet of skittles which I´d be saving for a special occassion such as this. Though I had to question who thought grape was a good flavour for skittles - I put the grape ones back in the packet and kept them for if I got stranded alone.

I have to admit one of the girls was lovely and did attempt to converse with me more than the others. But after 4 days of walking and thinking, and walking and making up nicknames for them all, and walking and childishly hoping the one girl I liked least fell in the mud, I thought best to say something to them. So when we arrived back at the town, I told the sisters exactly what I thought of them and exactly how goddam rude they were. I think they got the message. Four days of fuming made me quite articulate.

I can´t wait to do my next trek; it´s fecking marvellous walking in amazing scenery just thinking about everything and nothing and annoying companions. Though next time, I´ll be certain to check the nationality and gender of all people on a tour before signing up and I´ll be certain not to walk in donkey poo, even if it looks very dry and there´s nowhere else to walk.

Disclaimer: When I refer to the Israelis in this post, it only refers to the 4 obnoxious feckers(ok, one was nice) that I had the displeasure of spending 4 days with. Oh, and maybe the 3 other loud and rude ones who invaded my dorm room this morning, interrupted my very deserved sleep in, and ousted me from my room.

End of rant.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aoife arrives in Deepest Darkest Peru and finally her blog title makes sense

Well the original, original plan was to visit Peru and check out where Paddington bear came from. It´s taken me 10 months, 9 different countries, a wee detour home to Ireland, but I´ve finally made it - woo hoooo. And who said I wasn´t good at making up itineraries.

I arrived in Lima last week and found myself back in the chaos of South America and the rotteness of hostels filled with young boozing backpackers ´doing´ Peru. Sigh. Ya visit a country, ya don´t 'do' a country. Yes, I am high and mighty but 'doing' a country just sounds so arrogant to me.

The Peruvians are fierce friendly. I met a friendly Peruvian lad, in Parque de Amour (see above picture of a statue of entwined but very uncomfortable looking lovers) who strolled with me around the city and introduced me to ´cerviche´. It´s the Peruvian version of sushi - raw fish cooked only in lemon juice and the hideousness of onions. I had mine without onions and it was only lovely.

I only spent a couple of days there, unsuccessfully attempting a few tourist activities which all fell through (renovations, mist, etc), before headin´ for the mountains and bit o´ hiking.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Skippedy skip skip skip

I spent 3 lovely weeks driving around the crazy redrocked national parks of Utah and Arizona with my Swiss chocolate. I´ll have to write more but not before I get a rant out of the way.
This is us in the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

St. Patrick's Day a wee bit late in San Diego

I managed to make it to San Diego too late to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, but luckily my tardy college friends have their festivities a week later. June organised a splendid boozy bus tour which did a scenic trip of San Diego taking in a diverse range of pubs and bars. Everyone was marvellously decked out in green with a wonderful range of amn't-I-so-Irish hats. June, looking ever-festive in a green hula skirt, coordinated the days proceedings with her wee whistle which signalled that we should skull out beers or at least think about skulling them.

The tour was only great. After the first pub or two, we were treated to a ride on a very rickety rollercoaster (well planned for the start of the pubcrawl). Then after a couple more pubs, it was on to some nice park with a lovely view where a Mexican lad and his family served us tasty tacos (very Irish, that). Then a couple more pubs, then a boat ride across the harbour and then it gets hazy. I wasn't even drinking the designated one-drink-per-pub as a trip to the bar or the bathroom normally took up a good chunk of time. That, and the fact that were was a keg of tasty pale ale on the bus, meant that I was quite beerful but too beery that I couldn't dance in the bus.

After the last pub, we headed back to June and Steve's were we had a couple more drinks and gorged ourselves on June's Mum's stew. Delicious. Surprisingly my head wasn't too bad the next day but poor wee Stefan, unused to the pace of the drinking Irish, suffered lots. It was a great St. Patrick's day altogether - good work Spoonog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Old but yet still childish - My 30th Birthday

Here's Stefan with my birthday cake in the morning - then the same cake, 400km later. It didn't look quite as nice but was pretty goddam delicious.

Well after being a good bit homesick the day before my birthday, I celebrated my birthday breakfast eating a tasty tasty birthday cake, complete with candles, that Stefan had ordered especially and surprised me with at 8 in the morning (we were on Nancy-time - this withered auld one, Nancy, who owned the cabin we were staying in, informed us that daylight savings took effect, though they didn't - so we got up one whole hour early by mistake. I'll be double checking that the next time).

We had planned to go see the whales further north, so officially my birthday was being suspended to the next day as we had over 400km to drive that day. So I headed to the internet where I got the most lovely birthday card from my Australian mates -

Click here to see the lovely photos and an awful one of me looking rotten

And then after a lengthy phone conversation with Mum and reading lots of other Happy Birthday emails (thank you everyone), we headed off on a beautiful drive though a mountainy coast with deep deep blue sea. I was allowed to choose the accommodation, seeing as it was my birthday, so I chose the El Dorado Motel, a classy little place (where the owner presented me with a birthday rice pudding). We had a hearty birthday meal consisting of hamburgers and green salad with a most dodgy mayonaise/ketchup 'dressing' before I was treated to a massage and allowed to pick a birthday film to watch. '28 Days Later' is only great, though fierce scary especially if your boy is snoring gently next to you. It was a marvelous 30th Birthday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I left some of Mexico out

(2 whole months, that is). But I fully intend to update it when I get a chance.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Home for Christmas

We arrived into Dublin airport on Christmas Eve with the parents waiting for us, very very happy to be home. It was pretty nice driving home and being met by Grandpa and Muirs and a fire. The house was lookin´only gorgeous - christmassed up to the max.

The first week was spent purely relaxing. The internet wasn´t working at home, I didn´t have a mobile phone and Mum has disabled calls to mobiles cos the little ones spend to long talkin´ to boyz. So, as a result, I couldn´t contact my friends easily, so I hung out drinking tea and having baths until I realised I only had 3 weeks left and should get my ass in gear and see everyone.

There were a few boozy nights out in town which were quite fun and a couple more in Dalkey. I also made it down to see Vicks and John in Kildare for a sumptuous dinner with old school mates followed by a bit o´ karaoke. And the next morning we headed into town to shop for bridemaids dress shopping. There wasn´t much as the sales were on, but we had lots of fun looking.

Christmas dinner was great. It was Micheal´s first Christmas, so he was the centre of attention, though he had a fierce snotty nose and a cough (which I managed to acquire a couple of days later). Grandpa was over from Manchester and Granny and Uncle Pat were also there for Christmas dinner.

Aislinn had me, Mum and Emma over for lunch. She made lovely quiche.

Yeh, it was deadly to be home and I was a wee bit sad to be leaving but seeing as I planned to return in July, it was all good. And of course, I was all excited about meeting up with Stefan, who had finally left 'his friend' to meet up with me.

I need to get a very cute photo of Micheal wearing a ridiculous llama hat for here.