Archive for March, 2009

Published by Linda on 27 Mar 2009

Santa Cruz, Strippers(!) & Flying High in Sucre

And so after a couple of boarder crossings (still think those town are so so strange) we moved into Bolivia by way of taxis circa 1980!


I’m not quite sure what I expected from Bolivia, in fact I don’t think I had any expectations at all. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America but let me tell you this, it has been fan-feckin-tastic so far!!!!

Our first stop was Santa Cruz and after me forcing Susie to drink tap water, ha, ha, ha…… (hasn´t killed me since I arrived in Asia!!)

……..and dinner in an Irish pub (the old reliable, but damn it they had run out of Irish stew!! Boo), a few of these innocent girlies (including me!)……

…..decided to head off to a (male) strip club!! Kinda a spur of the moment thing and not really my scene but it turned out to be really funny!! One of the strippers, Tony, was talking to me about his kids before the show started. So I did find it a little surreal when he was gyrating in front of me an hour later!!

Eeeeeeuuuuuukkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For the first time since I can remember I felt embarrassed, cringe….. Very funny night though, followed by a horribly early start. Took a flight to Sucre and got to see some amazing scenery as we flew in…..

…….just beautiful :-) Sucre lies about 2800 metres above sea level so altitude sickness is kinda common. Altitude sickness and a hangover is particularly disorientating, especially when you get hum-dingers like I´ve developed this year – must be old age :-) Anyhoo Sucre is just lovely, the only problem is there is too much to do there!!! You can go motor-cross biking, mountain biking, trekking and heaps more. Headed to Tarabuco market, which was about 70km outta town. Yet more great scenery on the way……


…….It was fiesta time there so there was a real buzz about the place and packs of people everywhere. It´s a really old style village where the people still wear traditional clothing……

…….and of course there were locals dressed up for the fiesta also.

We strolled around the market and there were loadsa stalls with nice knits and jewellery………

……….so I got to so a bit of bargaining with the locals which I just love!! Difficult though as my spanish is quite limited but they speak a different language anyway!! I maintain that 95% of a conversation can be carried out with body language and a calculator!! (oh dear, that sounds really bad doesn’t it??! I mean it with total innocence I assure you! :-) ) It was a pretty long and hot day, the altitude is weird, you get tired and out of breath from doing the tiniest of tasks! Makes you feel really weak and unfit, not good omens for the upcoming trek in Peru!!!!

Headed back to Sucre as the following day was set to be a big one!! Myself, Julie (after some persuasion) Lyn and Phil decided to go paragliding. I was interested in this to see how it would compare to bungee jumping and sky diving. I also was thinking the scenery would be spectacular as we are so high up travelling through Bolivia. So we set off early the following morning…..

……Julie was dead nervous but I knew she’d love it. Lyn was a little nervous too but retaining her composure nicely. Phil had done handgliding before so was all good and I was trying to stop myself falling asleep (as I mentioned before I think I fall asleep when I get nervous!?) I wanted to get myself nice and nervous because I reckon you get a better adrenaline kick afterwards. We trucked up a big mountain for about an hour, enjoying the views along the way….

We also met this lady……

…….and gave her a lift to save her wallking the miles and miles (and miles) she does every day!!! Finally we reached our spot and Julie was up first to get it over with and she ended up loving it. She was expecting a bit drop off the mountain but you really just run off the mountain and glide away. Lyn had a bit of a rough take off so I did get a little nervous by the time my turn was up which was all good. All went great though, just run a couple of strides and away you go……… 

It is kinda freaky though as you literally run off a mountain so you do need to lose the nerve a little and just go with it. I’m getting better at that too, don’t know whether it’s bravery or stupidity :-) 


 (Have a video of my paraglide but having a few technical difficulties so will paste the link in at a later date)

Paragliding is amazing though because you keep getting these rushes from it as the thermals catch and drop you. The thermals were particularly good for my jump and I ended up going really high…..

…..resulting in loads of stomach flips. Excellent, I likey :-) Amazing rush and I think I’d rate it second to a sky dive but better than a bungee in the way that you keep getting rushes over and over.

The scenery was amazing too, honestly Bolivia, and indeed South America in general, is just amazing in that respect. The landscape is so dramatic and the sky here is just different somehow – my obsession with the sky here continues….


Great day had by the four of us……

……..and we headed back down the mountain enjoying the views….


……and the curious glances from the locals. Headed out for a few drinks on our last night in Sucre and a good old night……….

……..The following morning I had a pedicure – what a treat!!! Headed over to see Casa de la Liberdad……

……a beautifully preserved house whose furniture, strangely, is kept in a museum in the city centre. Hmmm weird?! Still though a really beautiful castle with many different types of architecture but it still blends together somehow…..


Headed back into the city for a wander…….(check out my very fashionable sunglasses marks!!!)


……and a browse around the markets, the potato is big here in Bolivia…..


………which pleases me as it reminds me of home and it’s real potato as opposed to the powdered crap in Brazil – bleugh!

That ended our time and Sucre and we headed off to Potosi that afternoon but as I sat on the bus, I kept thinking just how impressed I am with Bolivia :-)

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Published by Linda on 17 Mar 2009

Lindy does RELAX!!!!!

Yes it happened, for the first time in a long, long time, I relaxed!!! Can you believe it??? :-) This relaxed thing is really, really goooood! So here’s how it happened. Took a bus from Paraguay back into Brazil. It was a pretty long journey and they cram people on to the buses, picking them up around every corner and a lot of people end up standing. Believe it or not I ended up holding a little girl (about 1.5 – 2ft old) for a few hours. Anyone who knows me will know that I’m not a kiddie person so that is kinda a big deal!! I just felt sorry for her as there were soooooo many people on the bus at that time and she was getting squished.

Anyhoo, we finally reached Bonito, Brazil and I got into a hammock for a laze and then it happened, I totally chillaxed. I mean proper total chill out, again if you know me well, you know I´m not able to relax – EVER). It’s a weird yet wonderful feeling, I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. (Can’t believe people are capable of this on a regular basis) Had a few hours of me-time and it was amazing.

Bonito is a nice town and there including snorkelling, scuba diving and much more. I opted for a day at the natural swimming pools which was just lovely.

Just swam and chilled all day. Didn’t quite get my relaxy thing going as much but a great day nonetheless. Have to mention that there are butterflies EVERYWHERE in Brazil…….

…….and they land on you, it’s kinda nice but ticklish!!

Yeah I think I like Bonito, I also ran into Cork boy Darren who I’ve met in random place all around south america, small world, huh? Had a fun night out there too, making idiots out of ourselves……


……..hmmmmm, not so sure the tiger look is that flattering!! The following day we headed off to the Pantanal, a grassland basin in Brazil with loads of wildlife. Lambs to the slaughter, mossie-wise, we did get eaten alive. One of the girls got 80 bites!!!! Had to take drastic measures…..


……but fear not, despite looking like a moron, I still got eaten alive. Please, please, please don’t the let the Amazon be as bad. These mossies were particularly vicious and took a liking to our faces – grrrrrrrrrrr!

Started off with a boat trip and saw a few caimans but to be honest the Aussie crocs would kick their asses!! Went for a swim in their teritory but they don’t view us as a food source so we survived unscathed. Still though, it’s a little unnerving to swim in muddy, silty waters where you can’t see if they’re sneaking up on you!! Also saw the Jabiru birds which are the symbol of the Pantanal.

Got eaten alive that night, naturally and had an early start the following morning. Spent the day at a “farm”, horse-riding, walking and some more lounging around in hammocks. Good day, saw some jabirus, caiman, armidillos and many more. One of the guides also caught a caiman and had a way of chilling him out into a meditative state almost, so I got to rub his belly!!! Headed back to the ranch for dinner and saw a beautiful sunset on the journey back, sweet!

Went piranha fishing the following morning, good fun dispite the vicious mossies!! Managed to catch two of them……

…..and they cooked them off for us after…….. (Hayley & Ruth)

………. Tasty little guys too :-) but labour intensive!! (oh and yes I did wake up about ten mins before this pic was taken – sleepy cat :-) )

So that pretty much ended my time in Brazil. Now heading for Bolivia which I´m really excited about.

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Published by Linda on 13 Mar 2009

FEROCIOUS Foz de Iguassu & Asuncion, Paraguay

Foz deIguassu or Iguassu Falls is a big highlight in South America and I was pretty excited about it but was just hoping that it wasn’t going to be over hyped like some of these biggies can be. Did the Brazilian side of the falls on the first day but stopped on the way to see a bird park. Now apart from my love of penguins, I’m not massively into birds but it was a good way to see the inhabitants of the falls national park. The tucans are just gorgeous birds, their beaks are so vibrant, they actually look fake – even in real life!!!

Their beaks almost look 2-dimensional. They are not shy either, one of them had a piece of fabric stuck on the teeth of his beak and he was chasing our feet so we would stand on it to remove it. Weird huh? Clever clogs though, but myself, Lis and Lynn valued our toes too much because, damn, that beak would definitely snap one or two off!!! Loads more to see in the bird park, including fish, turtles and fabulously coloured parrots. (Parrots kinda give me the willies though!!)

We moved on to the main event and the Brazilian side of the falls is accessed through a 1.5km trail. God it was hot, we looked like we had been under the falls within the first five minutes!! Mmmmmmmm sweaty! A very nice walk though which afforded great views of the falls along the way….

…….how often do you get to see something like this, ahhhhh just perfect! Eventually you walk down to platforms over the water from which you view (and hear) the thunderous falls in all their glory. People keep saying it must be hard to impress me after what I’ve seen on my travels up until now but this was definitely a highlight for me. The falls are awesome, and when I say that I mean awesome in a way that I was in absolute and utter awe of them, not just as a throwaway remark. Mighty, roaring, soaking us with mist, which was just the refreshment needed by then.

It was amazing, honestly i don’t think I’ve experienced nature on such a grand and powerful scale. (check out this very shaky video to give you an idea Iguassu Falls, Brazilian video – and no I wasn’t hungover!!) I really don’t have the words to describe it properly but standing in front of the falls makes you feel so small but also so so lucky to see them :-)

We stayed, got drenched and watched for ages and you know you’ve witnessed something great when it’s hard to leave it behind.

Everyone says that you should view the falls from both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side so the following day we headed across the boarder to Argentina. The falls are quite different on this side…..

I’m not sure how but I guess you get to see them more up close, the Brazil side seems to show the overall magnitude of them. They are still massive and dramatic on the Argy side though, it’s hard to describe the difference. Anyhoo we got to walk on some great trails and took a speed boat right under the pounding water which was loadsa fun. Wanted it to last much longer. You also got to see just how massive and powerful the falls are!!

Between us all I reckon we took a billion pictures and videos :-) (Check this one out Devil’s Throat, Foz, Argentina ) No mean feat when the falls are spraying the crap out of your camera!!!

That night we went to a Latin American dance show, which was very impressive, we got to see everything from salsa to tango to samba……

and a good few laughs in between :-) Plenty of pics and videos on my flickr site for the boys to oogle :-)

The following day we moved into Paraguay. Big changes when you cross the boarder, moving from one of the richest countries in South America to one of the poorest. Our destination was Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. When I think of the capital cities I’ve seen around the world, I think of sprawling cities with high rises and the poorer areas on the outskirts. Asuncion is a little different, it’s relatively small and there is very little wealth there. People work hard for the little money they earn. The slums are pretty much right in the city but we didn’t take pictures, well I don’t think it’s very nice to photograph people in that way. There was also a matter of a militant with a machine gun who didn’t take too kindly to us even looking at this area!!

Asuncion isn’t the most exciting place in the world I must admit. I strolled around the market and there was a lot of leather goods and also the mandatory mate cups. Mate tea is taken even more seriously here than in Argentina. We did a little city tour (led by me of all people!!) and had a look at some of the government buildings. This is Palacio de Gobierno……

…… which looks completely at odds with the shanty town a couple of hundred metres away. We also strolled past this Plaza…..

….. something tells me that Juan could have been a Cork baby :-) We also visited Catedral Metropolitana and the oldest building in Asuncion, Casa de la Independcia, built in 1772 and where Paraguay declared it’s independence in 1811. We finished up our walk on Plaza de los Heroes and visited Pantheon de los Heroes where some of Paraguay’s political figures are buried. I can’t say that I’d highly recommend Asuncion as the most exciting travel destination but it was interesting to see the differences between it and it’s wealthier neighbour Brazil. It also had interest for me as a school friend lived there for a few months about a decade ago so I tried to imagine what it would have been like then.

I also assisted with keeping Asuncion litter free……..

…….it’s not every day you see your name on a rubbish bin, I’m not really sure how to take that to be honest!! :-) We headed out for a nice meal in a Spanish restaurant. This is (Alissa) Lis, Lynn, Jeanette and myself……

……. we had a good old night, listening to some live Peruvian music in a local bar. By the way never let your camera disappear into this lady’s hands or else you’ll get many of these photos…..

…..Brilliant :-)

Sin e on sceal, more photos on

Published by Linda on 08 Mar 2009

Paraty, Sao Paulo & Curitiba

So we headed down to Paraty, a lovely town on the coast of Brazil. We stayed in a fab place by the beach and I took a stroll into the old town which is quite touristy but very nice. Cuty little shops and art galleries. Some really nice jewellery to be purchased but I resisted. Me soooooo goooooood!! Met this guy but he didn’t say much :-) 


The old town there is very pretty and is designed to flood with water in the evenings so it cleans the pavement stones. Can render you a little stranded though………

…….especially if you’re trying to avoid treading in water submerged horse poo!!! Ah well you gotta plunge in I guess?!

Had a few home-made Caiprihinas (brazilian cocktails) that night, thanks to Lynn and my berocca to assist with crushing the limes……

And a good old natter with Jeannette, Lynn and Alissa before we headed off to the pub with the rest of the crew. The following day a big bunch of us headed off on a boat trip which was just the right medicine to recover from Carnival in Rio. Lovely chillaxing day visiting some of the islands around the bay.


A few nice refreshing swims in the (surprisingly) not too cold sea. Isn’t this the best photo, love these guys!!!

Another few drinks that night and it was off to Sao Paulo the following morning. Sao Paulo is such a sprawl of a city, huge population. Sprawling Sao Paulo Video It’s not the prettiest city but there’s a lot going on there. Myself, Jeannette, Lynn & Alissa went for most fantastic sushi dinner in the Japanese quarter. This is definitely the  best sushi I’ve ever had!! Gorgeous hand rolled pieces….


…it was 10 euro for 15 of these bad boys so we couldn’t even finish it out! The following morning we went to a local market near where we were staying in the gay area. From there we headed to the MASP (Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo) which had some great paintings including some from Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir and my favourite, Monet.

We did a fair bit of walking around and ended up at the Benedito Calixto, an antiques market, well some of the stuff had questionable antique status (or maybe I’m now old enough to remember things that qualify as antiques – oh dear god!!!) but it was interesting nonetheless. Finished off the evening with a visit to The Edifico Italia Bar which is one of the taller buildings in Sao Paulo. Gave great views of Sao Paulo…..


Although myself and Alissa had to admit that the view was far more appealing when it got dark!! Still though we felt very posh having a couple of drinks there. In my wisedom(!) decided to get my hair cut afterwards. Ended up being shorter on one side than the other and not in a fashionable way I assure you!!!! Ah crap!!

So with my fantastic new haircut, we headed for Curitiba the next day and managed to get myself tresses in somewhat symmetrical order again :-) Headed for the historical centre which is very pretty….

…..had a bite to eat, a few scoops and some good live music. Checked out the botanical gardens the next day, saw a few red-eyed turtles in the lake…….

……..and the famous glass house which I liked a lot…

chillaxed and sunbaked (which I have to stop because I look about 40 these days – can someone please buy me a facelift when I get home, pretty, pretty please….?) before getting a night bus to Iguassu. Much, much, much prefer the night bus, it kills me to be travelling during the day, it feels like such a waste. Alissa kindly gave me a sleeping tablet and I slept for about 11 hours – best night’s sleep in months – sweeeeeeeet.

Stay tuned for Iguassu Falls, but for now more photos on these links



Published by Linda on 03 Mar 2009

Rio de Janeiro – Carnival!!!!!

And so finally Carnival had arrived and after little or no sleep after my last night in Buenos Aires, I touched down in Rio and I was ready to get into the thick of it!! I was due to meet Ros who I travelled with in Asia and I was excited as I couldn’t meet up with her in her home town of Auckland. Anyhoo guess who the first person I bumped into was……
I have to say, pretty much for the first time my whole journey, I felt a little nervous going to Rio. You hear so many horror stories about people getting mugged, pick pocketed, shot, or a combination of all three!! And of course this does happen, particularly in a big city when a huge festival, drawing packs of tourists, is going on. So the guide books say not to carry your valuables with you, ie ATM cards, cameras, phones, etc when you’re going out, day or night.
Also they say the buses and metro can be unsafe. Ladies and gentleman, can I just dispels the myths, Rio just ain’t that bad, well for me anyway. I just didn’t want to be restricted, there’s no point in travelling if you’re afraid to go outside!! If I want to take a picture, I bloody well will. So I figured I would behave as I normally do and if I survived Rio unscathed, then it’d be all good. So I carried my camera everywhere, I walked home on my own from street parties (granted not through deserted streets) in the early hours, etc, etc.
The locals are some of the friendliest, genuine people I’ve ever met, I never felt unsafe. I just smile and say hi to anyone that catches my eye anyway and I’ll talk to anyone who strikes up a conversation but I think the locals are used to tourists averting their eyes and moving quickly along. I just reckon you are in their country and you should try to interact with them, as well as see the sights. The “scariest” feeling I experienced was the huge curiosity from the locals. They are so interested in you and it also helps your name in Portugese means “great/nice” you pretty much start on a good foot. It’s funny though because I’ve had the odd random person say “Linda” and I start racking my brains if I’ve met them before!!! Honestly though, you can be very safe in Rio if you just have a small bit of cop on. I should mention though, frightening things do happen here that no one can prevent or control, for example tourists in a hostel in the area I stayed in were tied up and robbed. I guess in that situation you just have to give them what the want and surivive, which they all did, thankfully.
I came for the first official day of Carnival but it starts a couple of weeks before really. So I did my must-see touristy thing Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) at Corcovado.

He is pretty impressive I must say, it was a little hazy up there but still great views of Rio to be had.

It’s funny though because the line goes that he is meant to be watching over and protecting the inhabitants and you just think that is just a nice notion. Actually though, Rio is pretty lowlying with mountains around so you do get glimpses of him all over the city which I really liked.

So, as I said, I met up with Ros and her two friends, Anna and Gai- Lanne. We wandered off to a street party which was lots of fun.

Music, people dancing the samba in the most outrageous of costumes – and we hadn’t even got to Sambadromo yet!!

As soon as one street party winds down, you just wander another few streets away and run into another. So much fun J The street parties start around midday and just run for as long as people will party. I didn’t realise that this would be everywhere, I thought the main events were in Sambodrome but you have just as much fun at street parties. Street Party Video

Sunday arrived and we had our tickets for Sambadrome.

Thought I’d take it easy for that afternoon as a night in Sambodromo lasts about 12 hours, as in til 6 or 7 in the morning. So my only agenda was to hit the ATM but of course I met a street party on my way and ended up there with some locals for a couple of hours. Anyway we got our masks on….. 

……and off to Sambodrome we headed and whatever expectations I had were blown out of the water. Myself and Ros kept saying how unbelievable it was all night :-)


There are seven schools competing each night and it takes about 40 minutes for one school to pass you. The general trend is 5 groups of 100 or sometimes 200 dancers, each group in a different costume. Then there is usually a huge float with more dancers. Carnival Video

This happens 3 or 4 times more and then finally the band pass through. We were sitting in sector 13 which is right at the end of Sambodrome and it was great as all the dancers come over to dance in front of this stand, before exiting the stadium.

Honestly, there is so much effort, such detailed costumes, of every colour and design, from weird to wonderful, to sublime, to beautiful, to outrageous, to wild……

……with dancers of all shapes, sizes and ages but there underlying spirit of it is fun, fun fun!!! You can see why they have it at night though, as it is so warm and most of the costumes are really thick and heavy and tricky to get out of……….. :-)

We were like kids at Christmas and it exceeded all our expecations. Wonderful, marvelous, awesome. I must have taken a million pictures and videos so please, please do check them out. We watched and danced the samba (I think a little better than tango anyway) until the sun came over Corcovado………

(see I told you he watches everything)……..


…….and headed off through the nearby streets to see big mounds of the various costumes being baby sat by minders. Fantastic night and I think I will be trying to get those samba songs (one song plays continuously for each school) out of my head for a while J

Headed off to Ipenema beach the following day to expeience some Brazilian beach culture. Now I was a bit apprehensive about getting out my lumps and bumps in Rio as I presumed all the ladies would have perfect bodies in their little dental floss bikinis. Now there is a little of that but, sorry boys, it’s generally all shapes and sizes in dental floss bikinis regardless – shudder!! The beaches are really packed, you can’t even see the water, there’s so many people.

Again I didn’t see hear or see any lurking people waiting to prey on tourists, just groups of friends, families and people-watchers enjoying the sunshine. And the people watching was most interesting I have to say, quite an experience even though the beach was waaaay too packed for me. Rio is so densely populated, I guess they are just used to it but honestly it was difficult not to walk on anyone on the way to the water.

Met up with Darren from Cork (who I met in Chile) that night and we had good old catch up over dinner.

We couldn’t understand the menu all the well so we just blindly ordered and it turned out all good. The food has improved greatly since Argentina, much more choice, balanced meals and great fruit from the amazon. I will surely turn into an Amazonian acai berry – yum!! Such a treat to get fruit and veg after Argentina. Apart from the fruit, it’s still a largely unhealthy diet but at least there’s a bit more choice!!

Also had to check out the famous Copacabana beach, again totally packed with people……..

Nice to have a snooze in the sun. I’m getting much better at falling asleep. Oh and weird, was in the Atlantic ocean again…..hmmmmm back over to pacific for a while I think!!

So now I’m back on a tour, which I booked when I was back in Asia. In a way, I’d prefer to be on my own just because I’m running in the last part of my journey and if I like somewhere I’d like to stay an extra day or the opposite. I’m also not a fan because I know once it’s over, I’ll only have 6 weeks or so to go!!!! Still though, there are many pluses, transport and accommodation are looked after so you don’t have to think about that, so it’s like being on holidays. Also my group are great and, I have met great people when I was on my own but having a group around for 6 weeks will allow us to really get to know each other.

That’s it for now, more photos on  and