To my untrained eye, Havana’s buildings were special. To architect Rocío’s, they were inspiring. Interesting buildings or aspects of buildings appeared around almost every corner and this blog post documents a tiny proportion of them. Continue reading
* See bottom of post for a video of the day
Camagüey Province’s Río Máximo Wildlife Reserve (Refugio de Fauna Río Máximo) contains not only Cuba’s but the Western Hemisphere’s largest flamingo nesting site. After not getting to Cayo Sabinal, Rocío was determined to see the flamingos at Río Máximo.
In Camagüey City we asked people and agencies how to get the reserve. No one seemed to know. State tour company Ecotur hadn’t organised tours there for two years due to the track there requiring a truck and the lack of on site hygiene facilities. An official tourist guide, who also didn’t know the way, recommended we hire a large US car (with driver) that had been converted to diesel to maximise our chances of reaching the reserve. In the city centre while looking for such car, we met an old man who reckoned he knew a way there. Then we met a younger guy who was willing to take us and had a friend with a car.
Instead of a hulking diesel-fueled US classic we had the opposite: a small Soviet petrol sedan! But our Lada had character, including huge windscreen cracks and no internal rear door handles. Time for another crazy Cuban adventure. Continue reading
In October 2016 Rocío and I undertook two amazing day tours in the southern Peruvian Andes Mountains as part of our 2016 Interoceanic Highway Trip. We saw stunning scenery, prehistoric history and witnessed something extremely rare: a condor hunting and dive-bombing. From Macusani, guide Ulices and our Hilux driver took us one day to Ayapata District and the next to Corani District.
Video of the condor hunting and dive-bombing near Lake Qañuqota, Ayapata District
Located in Puno Region’s north, Carabaya Province is rarely visited by foreigners. In fact, in ten days, we did not see a single foreign tourist. This is despite being situated between touristic cities Puno, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. One reason for limited tourism is elevation. Carabaya Province’s capital and largest city, Macusani, lies an inhibiting 4,315 metres high.
While hiking to Pitumarka we met a fun couple relaxing against a stone wall seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Ayapata District Continue reading
The journey from Ayapata to Puerto Maldonado was my most amazing and varied single day of travel ever. Seeing glaciers, tropical jungle and other magnificent landscapes all on the same day is hard to beat.
In late September 2016 Rocío and I wanted to get from Ayapata, Puno Region to Puerto Maldonado in Madre de Dios during daylight to view the scenery. There was no direct day transport, not even from Macusani. Using local advice, we reached our destination via the following steps:
- Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal: van
- Macusani Bus Terminal to Macusani Terminal Terrestre: mototaxi
- Macusani Terminal Terrestre to Lechemayo: van
- Lechemayo to Mazuko: mototaxi
- Mazuko to Puerto Maldonado: shared car
Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal by Van
A mountain with sheer cliffs towers over this building between Ayapata and Macusani Continue reading
On the Pacific coast a few hours from Santiago, Valparaiso is famous for its incredible street art. The town is also very hilly. Valparaiso residents would have to be some of the artiest and fittest people around as I found out in April.
Valparaiso has an excellent produce market and one morning I met up again with Cami and Sara to wonder around both the permanent market and nearby street market.
A green vegetable stall at Valparaiso’s produce market with outer leaves and husks discarded on the street Continue reading
The highlight of my visit to El Calafate in January/February this year and, indeed, one of the absolute highlights of my trip, was seeing the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier’s awesomeness cannot be overstated. The mild and sunny weather on both days I visited accentuated the experience.
According to Wikipedia, a glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. Perito Moreno’s movement slowly pushes it against the land, causing various sized pieces of ice to fall off regularly. I was lucky enough to witness and record a giant ~50 metre high slab falling off the glacier (see video below). Every four or five years a bridge forms in the ice and crashes down even more spectacularly. The bridge last ruptured on 10 March, more than a month after I visited.
The head of the Perito Moreno Glacier pushing against the land Continue reading
A few weeks ago my sister Shannon turned 40. Last year I knew I was going to be away for the birthday so to make up for it, I thought, what would be a dream gift for this wonderful sister, daughter, mother, cousin, niece, colleague and friend? As Shannon is yet to experience the joy of overseas travel, a holiday abroad would be an amazing present for her to remember forever.
I told family about the holiday gift idea and they were very supportive so I developed a plan to enable this gift without Shannon knowing. A protected OzCrowd fund-raising page, a secret Facebook event and complicit family and friends were key aspects of this plan.
As the campaign title and main image were publicly visible I chose a generic title and image
Accessing the fund-raising campaign page required a password
In one month’s time, I’ll be seeing Pearl Jam play live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Joining my favourite band’s most fanatical fans in concert in South America was one of my dreams.
Several months earlier I decided to follow my dreams. Since then I’ve quit my job, simplified my life and, two days after the half ironman triathlon, will be flying to South America on a one-way ticket.
After seeing Pearl Jam in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, I will travel around Brazil including Salvador, Pantanal, the Amazon and wherever else I fancy. After Brazil I will Spanish somewhere, perhaps Bolivia, before visiting the rest of the continent. After South America, I have pencilled in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Croatia, Greece and a reunion in Turkey.
In early June, weeks after leaving my job, I rediscovered the following diary entry from my time in Turkey, written eleven and a half years earlier:
The image above reads:
END RESULT: Total financial independence by 2015. Defined by: the ability to retire, travel or choose any other direction I may fancy without reliance on employer/job or other tenuous forms of income.
I reckon I’m 90% of the way there. To fulfil 100% I need to create a sustainable income. Stay tuned for more on that later.
I can’t wait to discover South America and beyond!