South America: T minus One day

Shameful confession time: I really don’t know much about South America and much that I do is a bit on the wayward side and been absorbed by some strange form of pub-quiz osmosis along the way. So, I try to imagine a whole continent in all it’s incredible length, rich breadth and stunning diversity, and end up with the equivalent of mid-western Yanks thinking that everyone in Britain eats crumpets at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, has innumerable servants all called Jeeves, knows the Queen personally and goes fox hunting at the weekend.

Here’s the catalogue of shame:

They all speak Spanish over there apart from the people who don’t who’ve gone for Portuguese instead, which seeing as how I don’t speak either isn’t really very helpful

It used to be full of tin-pot military dictatorships but is now full of oil-rich socialist republics intent on sticking it to Dubya

They eat guinea pigs and wear strange hats

The CIA like to have wars there

Cocaine comes from there

So does chocolate, which is apparently more addictive though makes your nostrils look a lot more untidy

The only country that plays rugby is Argentina (which is bugger all good when I’m in Ecuador on Saturday for the RWC final)

That’s where the Amazon is, which is like the New Forest only bigger

Che Guevara rode round it on a motorcycle (and Che means ‘mate’, so don’t call your kids that because Argentinians will point and laugh at them)


...that’s it

So, the usual Stout pre-holiday research process can widely consider to have imploded big time. Not quite as bad as trying to land in Nepal on the 10th Anniversary of the People’s Uprising a few years ago (cancelled on FO advice), but pretty lackadaisical all the same. Hey, I’ve been busy, you know...

Still, one other rather salient fact: that’s also where Machu Pichu is, which is what drew me there in the first place – walking the Inca Trail for four days over the 4215m Dead Woman’s Pass and dropping down onto the World Heritage Site to end all World Heritage Sites. Should be fun, but as we land in Quito in Ecuador, and then travel the 2000 miles or so to La Paz in Bolivia overland, there’s plenty more to see and do along the way too. The Moche Pyramids, Chan Chan, Lima, Iquitos (the only city in the world with no road connection), the Amazon, the Nazca Lines, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco...the list kind of goes on and on. Damnit, I’m almost feeling educated about the place already.

I fly home from La Paz near the end of November, while the trip itself, run by Exodus carries on circumnavigating the continent. http://www.exodus.co.uk/activities/overlandjourneyssouthamerica.html for details if anyone’s interested. Guess there’s always next year for the rest. Company always welcome ;-)

Anyway, must dash. Time for a crumpet. And judging by the dismembered remains of a rabbit I found outside my front door this morning, the foxes are getting feisty already. More (hopefully) from the mountains overlooking the Pacific coastline.

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