Monday, October 13, 2008

French Polynesia

Shock and horror at the cost of life, awaited me when I finally arrived in Tahiti. A king's ransom to get from the airport; doomed to a life of dorms and meals of crackers with cheese.

But of course there are wonderful things - breadfruit trees, delicious mangoes lying around under the trees fresh for collecting and eating; turquoise seas, wonderful snorkelling; manta rays and dolphins cavorting in the lagoon here on Moorea island.

Tomorrow I leave for Huahine, and then Raitea island, and finally in 10 days, I'm home.

So this will probably be my last blog post unless I stumble over an oyster with a giant black pearl and I can afford another 15 minutes on the internet! Thanks for reading and following my journeys. They have been the best.

Luv Jude

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I have had a great few days here on the coast of Chile an hour and a bit north of Santiago.

Visited Vina del Mar a few days ago. It´s a resort just north of Valparaiso - which is more of a port town. Gorgeous weather (you can tell I´ve been spending time with the Irish again!) I even had my swimming cossie out.

Met the 2 lovely Irish women on my first night at the hostel and we´ve spent plenty of time out eating and sampling Chilean wine and meeting some great people.

Yesterday we visited the fabulous and fantastic house of Pablo Neruda, Chile´s Nobel Prize winning poet. You can imagine just looking at the curves and juxtapositions and windows, how wonderful it is inside!

And that´s Dan with Laura a couple of nights ago.
That´s also when we met Selina, an American of South Indian origin studying medicine and on her way to work in Kenya for a year, and who´d picked up bedbugs in Santiago and brought them to the coast only to get chucked out of her hostal when she told the owner!

Have to admit I´ve been waiting for those critters to turn up somewhere and kind of glad we´re staying different places!

Well, gotta go pack - it´s blue lagoons and white sandy beaches for me tonight! Tahiti the next stop. Hope I get to eat breadfruit soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Well my first day in Santiago and after the night flight and no sleep, I´m feeling almost like I´ve been dragged kicking and screaming here. But had a long snooze and later that morning I go to breakfast and meet up with an Australian from Carlton that I first met almost 2 months ago in Colca Canyon when I first arrived in Peru! That was a good start to the rest of the day.

I then head downtown for a look around and come across this young woman who was offering free hugs! Thought I could do with one of those - get plenty of hugs from other travellers when we part even tho I may have only known them a day or two, but it is a long time since I had a hug at the beginning of a meeting!

Chile is like that - really vibrant- rather chic and cool, and just like Melbourne - they´re all in black!

I´m now in Valparaiso which is about an hour or so from Santiago and the feelings for Chile are now almost in a complete about face. It´s a very pretty town beside the ocean with meandering cobblestone streets in the old quarters up in the surrounding hills where I stay. Lots of artesans out and about on this sunny Sunday and I´m getting some good ideas for knitting patterns - big needles, thick wool, lots of holes - thought it might be a nice job maybe when I get back.

Took a ride in a fishing boat around the harbour for a couple of dollars and we passed right by these sea lions bobbing away on a buoy in the sunshine.

Will try and tour some of the local wineries while I´m here, a great sacrifice but thought Deb and Al might just disown me if I got so close ...

Finally starting to feel a little better in my stomach a full week after I left Guayaquil

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back in Peru and not a day too soon! Read on..

Well changed my mind a couple of hours before my bus was due to leave and decided to go further down the Peruvian coast to Trujillo; partly because I didn´t like the idea of arriving in Chiclayo at 3am and partly because, I just can!

Well that´s not quite right but the 2 couples I´ve been doing things with in the last 24 hours (Australians I travelled with on the bus and Americans here in Trujillo on a visit to pre-Inca ruins), bickered away and I thought thank God I have only me to please, coz I can do without that. (The second reason really was that I thought maybe I didn´t have enough time to go both to Chiclayo and Trujillo).

These hairless dogs were bred to live at these pre-Inca sites

Checked my flights while I was on the bus last night and what do you know - in fact I go a day earlier than I thought! Well the plane goes at 1am which is very confusing for a woman who has to backtrack to August 10, a Sunday when I left the US, to work out just what day of the week and what date it is!

My last day in Ecuador I spent in Guyaquil. There´s a park there full of iguanas!

But of course, even better was my last day in Ayampe when I came across the whales at Los Frailles beach in the national park - here´s a big whale´s-tail splash for you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whale watching

View from my room at Ayampe, a small fishing village on the Ruta del Sol of Ecuador´s Pacific coast. Lots of surfing here too, reminds me of home...

I came here to visit Isla de la Plata, the poor woman´s Galapagos. Catch the cute blue-footed boobie in the photo at left - lots of them nesting on the island, almost tame they are too so long as you skirt the small circle they make out of their poo which the female sits inside of to hatch her eggs!

Didn´t set out to do it but I spent yesterday whale-watching just sitting on a beautiful deserted beach further up the Ecuadorian coast in the national park. Saw some earlier in the week also on the boat trip out to Isla de la Plata.

Crossed over the headland to `little turtle´ beach (translated that myself from the Spanish - comprendo muchas, speak very little!) folowing turtle tracks up the sand and found a fossilised turtle jaw. Saw the real thing swimming near the boat just off Isla de la Plata, but mostly I´ve heard about dead turtles washed up on the beaches. Plastic victims.

Saw a beautiful church today in Olon as I made my way down the Ecuadorean coast to Guayaquil. It sat high on a cliff edge at the south end of the bay with open sides down to a half-wall made of stones. It´s Sunday so it was full of people - many children.

I am now in Guayaquil which is Ecuador´s biggest city on my way back to Peru to visit some adobe pyramids
from pre-Columbian times (AD 750) in Chiclayo on the coast. There´s also a very famous witchdoctor´s market there. Since Cuzco, there have been quite a few opportunities in this region to explore shamanism. But in La Paz I stayed just near the witchcraft market and that was close enough for me. But I´ll check out the witch doctors and let you know...

There´s been a referendum today and voting is mandatory. Every one has to go back to their home town to vote so it has been busy on the road and the bus station. Took half an hour just for our bus to turn in there. Got my ticket for tomorrow´s ride. We leave at 11.30am and arrive in Chiclayo at 3am. Not looking forward to that!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Well here´s a surprise - some photos of me, and in some pretty amazing places in Ecuador. I´ve been hiking around the Andes in southern Ecuador - drinking water from streams reputed to give the local people long life - but the wrinkles didn´t fade!
Celebrating with a banana on the top of the world after climbing into tropical cloud forest - straight up it was too!

Here I am at El Pato waterfall on the Rio Yambala in a different part of the Podocarpus National Park to the cloud forest. As you can see I´m still short, the waterfall´s 15m.

Met a nice American woman who´s looking for somewhere to live here and we´ve now travelled on together to Cuenca, the city of panama hats. And then we´re both off to the coast tomorrow. Too soon i fear, it´ll be back home. Mixed feelings on that one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spent the last few days up the Amazon River - wet wet wet but fantastic, and although the Bolivian pampas was better for wildlife spotting, what gorgeous jungle flowers and plants there were in the rainforest and river islands around the lodge where I stayed.

Bird of paradise

Walking Palm tree


I also saw my first breadfruit trees at the local Rio Amazon sugar cane whiskey distillery - brought to the Amazon from Polynesia - now I know just what to expect in Tahiti! The leaves of the breadfruit tree dangle in front of this wondrous sight of mother, baby and the hitchhiker!

Giant lily pads, Isla Yanamono, Rio Amazonas

Sunset through the plantation, Isla Yanamono, Rio Amazonas

This time I was with 4 Dutch people - not as much fun as the Irish that´s for sure. At least they weren´t couples (1 woman), and in an amazing coincidence, they live in a village only 5kms from Aarle Rixtel where I lived with Caroline and her family all those years ago!

And now I´m just killing time in Piura in north west of Peru waiting for my overnight bus to Ecuador! Saw some great gold burial items that are locked up in the vault in a museum here, and there´s a vego restaurant on the plaza, so the waiting is not so bad!