Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back Home !

It's probably not news to anyone - but I got back to Sydney a few weeks ago. Since then, apart from settling back to Newtown life and work - which has been remarkably easy - I've also been trying to work out what to do with my photos (surprise !) and find time to finish this blog - at least as far as Argentina and Peru are concerned ! Given that it's taken me 5 years (and counting) to sort out Cuba, I'm not too worried yet - but I am hoping to finish while the stories are fresh.

The last leg of my travels threatened to be very painful. The joys of South American airline scheduling had lined me up with a 54 hour trip home from Cusco to Sydney, with a 7 hour stop-over in Lima, before leaving at midnight and arriving in BA at 7am for the ... 3am flight to Sydney the next morning (no qualms about curfews for the Portenos) - via Auckland of course !

The reality was a lot less harrowing. For a start, four of us from the Peru group were on the same LAN Chile flight back to Lima (all with similar waits until post-midnight flights) - enough to form a quota for a trip to the centre for one last Ceviche. As seasoned Peru travellers (after a week there) we negotiated a decent rate in a hire car and strapped ourselves in for the never dull dodgem ride to Miraflores, roughly 45 eventful minutes from the airport. During the trip we arranged for the driver to pick us up a couple of hours later - imagine our surprise when he waved away our attempts to pay for the trip, saying we could settle up after the return. Such trust !

Last sunset in Lima

Dinner was sensational - and with the backdrop above and great company it was infinitely better (or very nearly infinitely) than 7 hours waiting at the airport. Of the four of us I had the earliest flight at half past midnight, and only 5 hours later I was lucky enough to be met at Buenos Aires international airport by a friend who'd kindly offered to pick me up and offer me a place to shower and change on my 20 hour stop-over.

Unfortunately my dreams of one last 1kg steak - not too mention shopping at the Sunday San Telmo markets and generally enjoying one last day in BA - were cruelly thwarted by an untimely and embarrassing (especially the public train chunder) attack of food poisoning, which at one stage threatened to delay my trip.

Drugged up, I arrived at the airport around 1am, checked in and got through customs in about a minute and a half, and looked for ways to kill 2 hours, too weak to walk and too tired to read.

There was time for a further surprise however, with a most unexpected and welcome upgrade to business class as I boarded, and even though I wasn't capable of profiting from the fine food and wine on offer, the almost horizontal seat was just what the doctor ordered for the 13 hour flight across the pacific - and I can thank that for the complete absence of jet lag since my return, not to mention my complete return to health in 24 hours.

There was time for one final surprise back in Newtown Tuesday morning (after leaving Cusco 3pm Saturday) - my coffee mug, purchased in the sacred valley in Peru, was just a little worse for wear ....

Carefully Wrapped Peruvian Pottery

So what's next ? Well, I've uploaded most of my photos now - on my fotki site (Argentina and Peru), cut down from 2000+ digital photos to less than 600. I still need to caption most of them, but feel free to have a snoop around. I'm also planning to write up the rest of the trip (on this site), to present some of the best photos in context, and share some more stories. And finally I have 11 boxes of slides to start scanning, which should help keep the post-trip glow glowing for some time yet ! I'll share the best ones here, of course.

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