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Images below from Quito, Ecuador, learning spanish and living with local family.

Our destinations in the Americas

Come back soon to read more ... last update 1/8/2001. No further updates on this page.

New York, USA (photos)
Lonely Planet info

18/4 Arrived on time in New York, it's very sunny with blue skies when you can see the sky through the skyscrapers! The hostel room we're just got 3 beds in it, so we've pretty much got the room to ourselves. We walked up to Times Square, but nearly walked through it without realising it was Times Square. We were expecting an actual square, not just a wide road. It looked sensational at night with all the adverts on massive bright and colourfull screens.
19/4 Still sunny, but cold winds. We've already been up the Empire State Building, to the 86th floor, with the most amazing view of 15 miles, all the sky scrapers and the statue of liberty appearing very small. The Chrysler building is definatly the most beautiful of all.
There's loads to do, lots of food to eat everywhere we go and lots of clothes that Luk won't let Hilary buy. We are writing this from the reading room of the ornate white marble public library with a high gilded wooden ceiling, for free!
10-25/4 We've done all the major tourist sites now - top of the Empire state building by day, top of the World Trade Centre (even higher) by night.
We spent hours in the Natural History Museum looking at the dinosaurs. We saw lots of Picasso art in the Guggenheim Museum, a spiral shaped building.
We've walked through central park and China town (whole crispy ducks, including heads, hanging up in restaurants). In greenwich village we saw street performers doing acrobatics and gymnastics.
We took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We went aboard the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier battleship, which is docked on the river.

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Reed boat on San Pablo lake
Otavalo animal market
Pa`pallacta thermal springs
Lonely Planet info
CIA factbook info

26/4 We are in Quito, 2800m up surrounded by mountains. We are staying with a local ecuadorian family and about to start spanish lessons.
27-30/4 Started our spanish lessons 4 hours a day with a private teacher - no day dreaming in class! -, very tiring.
Saturday, we discovered beautiful vulcanic hot springs in the mountains, where we bathed. The weather was rainy and cloudy so the contrast with the hot water was amazing. The view of the misty mountains was magical. We were lucky to have a lift back to Quito from an ecuadorian, his dutch partner and Bert (from Leuven as well!). They are doing voluntary work in Ecuador.
Sunday we visited the equator, where Luk had much fun using his GPS to discover the equator right in the middle of a road, 50 meters away from the official monument! We also verified that water runs without swirls out of a sink. There was a museum of the jungle with an authentic shrunken head, only 2 inches tall, of a 14 year old boy who was killed 150 years ago, very gruesome.
Monday, it's back to the routine of waking up early 7:45 and walking 25 minutes to school.

1-7/5 We finished the spaninsh course and are back on the road.
We spent the weekend in Otavalo, a market town, it was difficult not to spend all our money on handicrafts. We wouldn't be able to carry it all anyway. We also visited the cattle market where the local indians were buying and selling cows, pigs, sheep and horses. No foot and mouth here! Not far from the village is a nice waterfall.
Sunday we toured round the local villages to see the indians weaving ponchos, belts, reed mats and making panpipes. They tune the panpipes by using a machine to find the exact note rather then having perfect pitch.
We walked round a craterlake of an extinct volcano with two islands in the middle. It was a beautiful, the location could be used in a James Bond Film to serve as a secret enemy base.

Notes from Hilary's Diary:
8/5 Luk and I got up very early to take a tour to the cotopaxci volcano, last major eruption 120 years ago and still active.
Our guide was a local ecuadorian and he drove us 2 hours to the national park in a land rover. We saw wild horses and an andean fox, grey and red, in the morning round the volcano.
We could see the different layers of volcaninc ash in a soil profile and the land was covered in lichen rather then grass with very pretty andean flowers. It was very misty but one valley was clear.
We parked the rover at 4500m, the ground was just ash and rocks. We walked an hour a half up to 4800m, it was tirng at that altitude. At about halfway up, I turned to find a man all in black complete with black balaclava and gun behind me. I looked at him and he walked past and I saw two others more identifiable as soldiers or policemen, even our guide wasn't sure who they were. They turned and went back down again without reaching the top.
Luk and I reached the most beautiful glacier as solid as rock and so white it glowed blue . We could see the snow capped peak a 1000m up.

9/5 We took an overnight bus from Quito to Lago Agrio. While waiting at the bus terminal, we watched a male transvestite prostitute touting for trade. Our tour into the jungle commenced with another 3 hour bus journey to the cuyabeno reserve. It was very hot and stuffy and we passed miles and miles of oil pipes along the road. We took a speed canoe down the river, it was amazing. We cooled off in the breeze and stared in awe at everything around us. We were with two young french-canadian guys, both adventurous. Our guide, Jorge, knew his stuff.
There are huge leaves on the trees, gigantic fronds 10m long and as Luk observed each tree is like a botanical garden, so many other plants growing on it, it is hard to see which leaves belong to the tree.
We've seen lots of birds: black greater anis and their prehistoric relatives, hoatcin or stinky turkey and colourful kingfishers. There are numerous squirrel monkeys playing in the trees around our cabins without electricity. At sunset we went to a lagoon surrounded by mangroves and jumped off the canoe into the cool water hoping the piranhas were not hungry enough to eat us.

10/5 We found huge cockroaches in our cabin last night, but we felt safe under our mosquito net. The buzz, hum and rattle of the insect and birds is deafening. It is now 4pm and we lie in hammock while watching a vulture swoop back and forth across our camp. We got up at 6 am to go bird watching in the canoe. We saw two tucans and pairs of green parrots flying above. We were fascinated to spot a sloth, sleeping at the top of a tree, it woke up to swing slowly through the branches. Our guide spied a 1.5m long anaconda sunbathing on a branch. He picked it up and let us hold it's smelly tail.
There are huge butterflys including one that blinks blue across the river. We took a two hour walk through the rainforest. Jorge gave us strict instructions not to touch anything in case of poisonous plants and spiderwebs. We could hear rain on the canopy but the drops rarely reached us. We saw blue and red spiders, centipedes & millipeds, huge trunks of trees and others that shed their bark every month as defense agianst parasitic plants. I held a tiny treefrog, Jorge held it in my hand so I could feel it jumping, but it jumped away to quickly for me to see it.

11/5 When Jorge told us last night he'd take us to see tarantulas, we prepared for a walk into the jungle, instead he tok us right back to our cabin. Imagine what I felt like when he shone the torch on a tarantula on the wall beside the door to our cabin. We also saw back widows and banana spiders along the path to the toilet.
This morning we took the canoe into primary jungle, very dense plants and more weird and wonderful insects. We spent 3 hours in the baking sun going from spot to spot desperately trying to fish piranhas without success. At midday we were so unbearably hot and sweaty, we jumped into the lagoon where we had been fishing, the only way to cool off. We slept in the hammocks in the afternoon to be woken up when the weaher changed suddenly from blazing sun to gales that blew branches off trees. Jorge had been out on the river when tornado winds struck, tipping over the canoe, which scared our cook as he could not swim!
When the weaher calmed we went piranha fishing, Jorge caught two small ones with razorsharp jaws. We saw blue and yellow macaus flying in pairs above us. We went on a night hike around the camp, I found it terrifying walking in the jungle with just torchlight, especially when there are so many spiders in starshapes on the trees and even two electric eels. We could see the eyes of caymen burning orange when our torches reflected on them.

12/5 Luk got up at 6am to go piranha fishing with the canadians, while I stayed in bed listening to the bat whooshing above. One of the lads managed to catch a large piranha which they ate for breakfast and kept the jaws as souvenir. We are leaving the jungle today, a 6 hour journey back to Lago Agrio. We stopped at a military checkpoint and all the men on the bus were frisked and had their knives confiscated. Lago Agrio is filthy and rundown and smells of oil. It's name is a nick name meaning sour lake referring to the oil. The people are horrible, the men have greasy hair and bloodshot eyes, the women look like prostitutes.
13/5We got the first bus out of there, an overnight busride and two flat tires later we were relieved to arrive in Banos. A beautiful town surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, what joy to have a hot shower and wash our filthy clothes!

14-16/5 We went to the zoo in Banos to have a closer look at animals we glimpsed in the jungle: we shook hands with a capucinu monkey, someone called out Hola! to us and then laughed but the zoo was deserted except for the parrots...
We walked about 10 km along the road to Puyo to admire the green valley with countless waterfalls of which Rio Verde was the biggest and most fun as there was a 1 year old monkey to play with in the shop next to the falls. It was free to run around and begged successfully for food from all the tourists. Vultures were also flying above.
On the way out of Banos we finally saw the Tungurahua, the active volcano overlooking the town, before it was always covered in clouds. It was a menacing black monster raising far above (5900m) the green hills, capped with snow and throwing out dark grey smoke. The town was evacuated in 1999 when the volcano erupted but the residents returned against scientific advice in May 2000 to recommence their lives. The army had to let them enter back into town as they were ready to fight with axes and shovels. We understand why because it is a lovely relaxing town.

17-19/5 We planned to take a 2 hour bus journey to Riobamba, but ended up staying overnight on the bus as we heard Vilcabamba was nicer and we had to start heading towards Peru.
We took a day trip pony trekking through the beautiful mountains round Vilcabamba, 6 hours on the horse meant two days recovering our sore bums & backs by the pool.
Onwards to Peru...

Sloath climbing down tree
Trekking in the jungle
Swimming at sundown with piranhas!
Lonely Planet info
CIA factbook info
20/5 The coastal desert of Peru is a stark contrast to the lush mountains of Ecuador. We've arrived in Chiclayo and visited the witch doctors market with weird spices/bark/flowers for all real and imaginary illnesses. Someone tried to sell us a stuffed Tucan, armadillo, dried iguanas, big cat skins and various aphrodisiacs.

21/5 We have begun the archeological part of our trip. Today we visited Sipan and Tucume, Sipan is like the Egyptian Valley of the Kings with one major difference: we were the only tourists. The tombs date back 1700 years and were found complete with the bodies and gold treasures. Tucume is a collection of 'pyramids' which looked more like gigantic termite hills due to erosion. Luk ordered chicken soup and got a shock: he discovered two whole chicken feet as well as the liver in it.

21-24/5 Our journey further south was delayed due to farmers protesting on the Panamerican highway, the only way south. We finally passed through Trujillo and caught a nightbus to Lima. This didn't seem such a good idea when we encountered a riot at 6am just outside of Lima. There was lots of shouting and men were putting rocks and debris onto the road causing us to be stranded with a flat tyre, even after the police had dispersed the crowd with teargas.

25/5 Eventually arrived fine in Lima and found a hostal where the beds were considerably less comfortable then on the luxurious bedbus. We were relieved to find western food in the form of MacDonalds and Dunkin Donuts. Luk discovered paragliders on the beach using the dynamic uplift of the wind as it hits the cliffs at Miraflores. He was able to join one in tandem and have an amazing view of Lima.

26-27/5 We are in Pisco, a seaside town smelling continuosly of fish (sardine factories). We took a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, rocky islands only inhabited by thousands of sealions, penguins, peruvian boobies and other seabirds. We were able to see them up close. On land we visited the Paracas national reserve and saw Flamingos. The coastline is full of natural arches made by the sea erosion.

28/5 Got up early for a flight over the Nasca Lines. We saw the designs of a monkey, hummingbird, spider, astronaut, whale, tree, hands and many trapezoids. They are amazing, made by rocks placed/removed on the ground, not eroded away due to the lack of rain, only 5 minutes every 5 years. Luk had to go in a plane with a Japanese comedian and his cameraman, which made for an amusing flight with lots of loud OAH's etc. In the afternoon we went to an ancient cemetary where mummies are still in the tombs complete with hair and clothes.

29-31/5 Arrived in Arequipa, the prettiest town so far in Peru. Most of the buildings are made of a white speckled stone called Sillar. The town is surrounded by huge snowcapped volcanos and the sky is clear. We walked around the convent of Santa Catalina - a small walled city which used to house 400 nuns in total seclusion - very peaceful and pretty.

1-2/6 Took a tour to Colca Canyon 3000m deep (Only so deep because the mountains are so high). We have seen many llamas and alpacas and even the rare vicuna whose fur is worth per kilo (Finest wool in the world)! The indians are very brightly dressed and farm the land in terraces on the side of the canyon. We discovered a thermal spring where we relaxed in the hot waters and watched the sunset. We got very early the next day to catch sight of the condors as they awake from their nests deep in the valley. They are the biggest flying birds of the world, wingspans up to 3 meters and we saw 9 of them. They glided up to us using the thermals only flapping their wings when landing on an outcrop of rock ten meters below us. One condor decided to dive straight at us making our hearts stop for a second, clearing our heads by only a couple of meters, we were obviously too big to try and catch. The air whistled as it flew passed.

3-4/6 Now in Cusco, the old capital of the Inca empire with many walls still showing fine Inca stone masonry. We visited the Cathedral where there is a painting of the last supper showing Jesus eating Cuy (guinea pig) and drinking chicha (corn beer). We found an English restaurant serving the best curry in South America.

5-6/6 Have been exploring the Inca ruins around Cusco: Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q'Enko and SaqsayWaman. Very relaxing to be able to walk around them at our own pace. There is a statue of Jesus overlooking Cusco that lights up at night to look like a ghost. There are many small museums that we have visited learing about the Incas. The local market is interesting, we saw tapeworms and other pickled parasites as well as every part of animals including a foot long tongue.

7/6 Took an arranged tour into the Sacred Valley, typically it was an excuse to get us to as many markets as possible to encourage us spend our money. We saw the large Inca town of Pisac, the terraces of Ollantambo and the church of Chinchero. We only got back at 7pm and still had to organise ourselves for the Inca trail the next day.

Inca trail
8/6 Got off to a very early and slow start picking up other tourists, porters and equipment in a minibus. We finally got to km 82, the start of the trail, at midday but were delayed for a further hour because the porters had far more then the official 20 kg to carry. We were all raring to start walking. The first ruin of the Inca trail (Llactapacta) appeared behind a steep hill: terraces and a temple making the hard climb worth it. We arrived at the campsite just before dark and started chatting with some of the other people in our group waiting for dinner. Today was 'Inca flat' - the mean altitude was the same, climbing up and down a couple of hills in between.
9/6 Today was much harder, a ten km hike from 2900m to 4200m, incredibly tiring. The path was mostly huge stone steps with magnificent views of snowcapped mountains. Hilary felt rather lightheaded at the top. It was a very steep one hour walk down to the camp site. At night the sky is so dark, we can even see the different shades of blackness. The guide showed us a black constellation of a Llama - just left of the Southern Cross, itÃ?šÃ‚Âīs eyes two stars of Centaurus. We were able to show him Scorpio and the Plough (upside down). We saw shooting stars that night, the Milky Way and Mars making Hilary want more chocolate.
10/6 Hardly slept last night due to the cold at 3900m and thin hired sleeping bags. Hoped today would be easier then yesterday but was mostly downhill and agony on Hilary's knees. Thankfully there were lots of Inca sites to rest while trying to listen to the explanations of the guide in 'Inca English'. We saw a humming bird hovering around beautiful flowers and several orchids. We arrived at the campsite very close to Machu Pichu, closer to civilisation with beers to celebrate as if we were there already.
11/6 We woke up to find our tent leaking at 4:30 am we got up not much later to walk the two and a half hours to see Machu Pichu in the sunrise. At least that was the plan, the weather had other ideas and kept the site well hidden behind clouds until we got there at 8:30 am. We had the site to ourselves until the hordes of day tourists arrived around 10:30, all looking very clean and fresh compared to us. Our guide gave us a brief tour, trying hard to keep us all awake. Then we collapsed and sunbathed. Hilary was surprised to bump into two friends from Birmingham Katie and John, we had no idea they were in Peru, let alone on the Inca trail with us for four days. We took the slow 5 hour train back to Cusco in the evening.

12-13/6 Stomach bug, need we say more...

14/6 Recovering OK. It is Corpus Christi in Cusco, a huge celebration. There was a mass on the main square this morning and afterwards the altar and the most ornate statues of all the saints you can ever imagine were carried around the square. Stalls are selling the local delicacy "guinea pig", roasted and whole! There are lots of very annoying American tourists here always getting in our way with their video camaras and loud voices.

15-16/6 Now in Puno by the lake Titicaca. We went on boat trip to the Uros floating reed islands where families still live. The islands are tiny, just 20-30 meters accross. The kids race each other in reed boats from island to island (we cut them up with our motor boat). Some parts of the island are stable but other less dense parts are wobbly when walking on them.

Lonely Planet info
CIA factbook info

17-18/6 Across the other side of lake Titicaca is the tourist town of Copacabana. We have a beautiful view (especially at sunset) of the lake from our hotel room. There isn't much here apart from paddle boats and the water is far too cold to swim.

19-22/6 La Paz, stomach bug is multiplying, we got ourselves properly investigated and now have antibiotics. La Paz is big, dirty, crowded with chaotic traffic. The city is surrounded by mountains and the sides of the valley of the moon, so called due to the weird rock formations and columns. We are staying with a local family that rent some rooms in their apartment on the 10th floor. Luk is celebrating being an uncle, his sister Sonja just had a baby girl called Esther. We wish we were there to cuddle her.

23/6 We have just heard about the Andean earthquake - 7.9 on the richter scale , 100 dead in Peru and Chile.
We heard about it on BBC world service, but fortunately did not feel so much as a slight tremor, although people in our apartment block did, so did the people in the internet cafe - they said the computers shook (There are only a few internet cafes back online, now all the backpackers are emailing home to say they're OK). We were in a chinese restaurant in the posh end of town when it happened- the only unusual thing we noticed was a sudden change in weather, and all the families in the garden came in. Our landlady felt the quake on tenth floor, the building swayed, she confirmed that there were high winds at the same time. Lucky we're ahead of schedule and not still in Peru, BBC world showed pictures of damaged arches in the main square of Arequipa where we had breakfast two weeks ago!

24/6 Took a bus over the yellow alteplano to the Pre Inka site of Tiwanaku. A civilisation that utilised the water of the lake Titicaca for successfull irrigation. There were still huge stone statues and carved arches (sun and moon gate)remaining. It was very peacefull but a bit of drama trying to get the bus back to La Paz. Local people were protesting and we all had to leave a stone in the middle of the road before they let us past. Because no one knew how many vehicles they were going to let through there was a scramble to get on the bus. We made it but had to stand up all the 2 hours back to La Paz.
Back in La Paz we saw some indigenous people frying aluminium foil on little gas hobs on the San Francisco square. On further investigation we discovered they tell fortunes using the weird shape that the foil melts into! We decided not to tempt fate.

25/6 Sorted out our flight itinery with Lan Chile in La Paz. We were due to fly from La Paz to Buenos Aires then to Auckland. Now we will continue overland all the way down to Santiago de Chile. On the 15th of July we will fly to Easter Island and stay there a week. Then we fly to Tahiti and reach Auckland at the end of July. We plan to spend about 5 weeks in New Zealand getting to Australia early september. This itinery makes a lot more sense, we've heard from other backpackers Easter Island is amazing! Tahiti will be the holiday from the holiday. We can't wait. But still lots to do in South America first.
We celebrated our new exciting destinations and our better stomachs with a posh buffet lunch in the Radisson Plaza 5 star hotel, about 8 GBP each, expensive here but worth it.
While typing the above our backpack was stolen, we didn't notice a thing. In it was our camera, flight tickets, guide book, novels, fleece hats, swiss army knife, Hilary's frog purse and numerous other things. The only thing that is irreplaceable is the 20 photos on the camera. We haven't got time nor energy to go back and take them all again. There is no APS development in Bolivia so it will be a while before more photos appear on the site.

26/6 The theft meant yet another day in La Paz, we want to get going again. We got a police report and are claiming it all back on insurance. In Peru we thwarted two attempts at stealing our bags, we are usually so vigilant.
These things are very common in South America. We've met other people who have had things stolen.
At least the police were reasonably helpful if slow. We talked to an english speaking police officer who quickly wrote down our claim in the official book. The difficult part was getting a duplicate typed up for our insurance. It took even longer to get new flight tickets and they cost about 100 GBP to replace!

27-28/6 Even on the bus to Cochabamba we didn't think we'd make it out of LA Paz. In the poor suburb of El Alto where all the houses are made of mud bricks there were numerous blockades and protests. Huge concrete slabs were placed on all the decent roads meaning we had to divert along the rocky tracks. There were smaller blockades on these tracks. We overruled a blockade of 5 people as 15 people from the bus got out and were able to move the rocks on the road out of our way. The next hurdle was a ditch dug across the road. We filled this with blocks of concrete and drove over. That night in a cafe in Cochabamba we saw the local news. The protests had escalated into violent riots with rocks braking the windows of buses that tried to get through.
The blurb about Cochabamba promised the most comfortable climate in the world. When we were there it rained. The rain didn't stop the local guides and scouts on their annual parade, although they did look rather bedraggled carrying their drenched flags and running to keep up with the band at the front. Nothing much else to do in the town except visit yet another museum.

29/6 Arrived at 5:30 am in Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia, but only a tenth of the size of La Paz. It is very pretty with white houses and many colonial buildings and churches. We took the 'Dino Truck' to a quarry just outside of the city where thousands of dinosaur tracks were discovered, 68 million years old from the cretacious period. The tracks included those of Titanosaurus, T-Rex and Iguanadons but are rapidly being eroded away by wind and rain and the explosions of the cement company only 10 meters away. They are only expected to last two more years, but there might be older tracks underneath.

30/6 Had delicious fresh juice in the market. Hilary had banana and apple, Luk had pineapple and orange. Typical they charged us twice as much as the local people but at 30 pence a cup it was still good value. In the afternoon we took a bus to Potosi.

1-2/7 Visited the silver mines of Potosi and were stunned to see the conditions in which they have to work. Hilary couldnīt stand being in the mines for more then an hour, they were so cramped.
The miners worship the devil (called Jorge) who they believe owns the minerals in the mountain and will protect them from accidents. They offer a statue of him gifts of coca leaves, 96% alcohol and cigarettes. They then use plenty of the it themselves. The miners chew coca leaves continuosly to help make the conditions more bearable and stave off hunger and tiredness. We were able to buy dynamite on the street which our guide used to demonstrate a deafening explosion after cutting 4/5 off the fuse so we wouldnīt have to wait too long... As you can tell there arenīt many safety regulations in Bolivia.
Spent most of the next day on the bus to Uyuni.

3/7 Started a three day tour of the surreal landscape of south western Bolivia. We are travelling in a Toyota Jeep with 4 other tourists. Itīs fun to exchange horror stories of earthquakes and blockades. We drove through the massive salt lake, blindingly white and nearly got stuck in 50 cm of freezing cold water. One jeep did get stuck but managed to continue after the driver repaired something. We saw the preparation of kitchen salt and a hotel made entirely of salt. The snowcapped mountains in the distance appeared to float on the lake. We saw 12m high cacti on an island in the lake.

4/7 Continued the tour with an amazing view of snowcapped volcanoes and weird rock formations. We visited many lakes and saw 3 different species of flamingos who survive the freezing temparatures and high altitude. We even saw long tailed rabbits and luminous green moss. Late afternoon we arrive at Laguna Colorado, a vivid red lake, burgundy and orange.

5/7 Temperatures dropped to -15C last night. No central heating or double glazing. It was hard to breathe at 4500m and made it difficult sleeping, even though we are well acclimatised. 5:15 am start with our sleeping bags in the jeep to fend off the cold. At dawn we arrived at a geyser field at about 5000m altitude. The steam shot 10 meters into the sky and there were small craters filled with bubbling grey, brown and pink mud.
Next was a thermal pool where Luk bathed completely and Hilary defrosted her feet. Lukīs shorts froze solid after 10 minutes when we hung them up to dry. Laguna Verde demonstrated the three types of H20, most of it frozen solid strong enough to walk on, adjacent to warm water and steam. The last three days have been the most extraordinary experience on earth. Afterwards we crossed over the border into Chile.


6/7 San Pedro de Atacama is a tourist town with good restaurants and hotels in the desert. Loads more expensive then Bolivia. We visited the weird rock formations of the Valle de la Luna and climbed a huge sand dune to watch the sun go down. There was salt all over the valley including a cave of crystallised salt mixed with sand.

7/7 Bus to Antofagasta, a modern coastal town, the roads are far better in Chile and everyone stops at stop signs even if there are no other vehicles for miles. In the desert we saw a mini tornado forming a perfect sandy whirlwind that passed directly in front of us across the road.
Everyone is dressed fashionably here and look far more European.

8-10/7 Today we visited one of the few tourist sites of North Chile, an offshore stack forming a perfect arch and a perfect photo opportunity. Overnight bus to La Serena, supposed to be 12 hours ended up being 18 when we broke down. They didn't bother sending out another bus, we just had to wait for spaces on the next buses - women and children first meaning we were last...
La Serena is a beach resort with little to do in winter except visit the beautiful japanese garden and walk along the beach watching the pelicans.

11-14/7 Enjoying the modern luxeries of Santiago in particular the food, wine and the cable TV in our hotel kitchen. We took a cable car up to the top of the hill with a statue of the Virgin Mary. From the top we had a marvellous view of the layer of yellow smog that blankets the city and the snowcapped Andes in the distance. We returned via funicular railway.

15/7 ... Continued on Polynesia page