Friday, 5 February 2016


New Years Day 2016

Arrived in Istanbul a couple of hours later than scheduled but lucky to be within the day, thousands of people had been less fortunate and spent their new years eve in the departure lounge as the airport and the city were blanketed in a couple of feet of snow.

I wasn't especially well prepared for the trip and had forgotten to write down the address of my hostel anywhere and the words 'Stray Cat' weren't enough for the taxi drivers in a city of 20 million people. An embarrassing phone call to mum asking her to look up the address sorted me out and further confirmed her opinion that I am not old enough to be the age I am!

A chain smoking mostly deceased taxi driver just about kept us on the slippery roads up to the cosy and excellently run Stray Cat hostel and so to bed.

The next morning I woke early and headed off to explore the city and get some appropriate clothing and ditch my slippery plimsolls. Istanbul is good: Pretty, historic, lively and there are plentiful tasty kebabs. Sad events a week after I left but I don't think that should put you off, nor should the story you are about to read.

Now to the evening and a scary event. I must've lived through it though as I'm writing this so when you start to worry. Don't. I end up okay. (Apologies to those of you who like suspense or were hoping to read of my arrest/death)

8pm: On leaving the hostel the guy on reception advised me to be careful who I made friends with. I told him I lived in Africa and fight lions and leopards most days so not to worry. As I walked up the busy main street in the Taksim area I was approached by a man who asked me for a light. We got chatting and he seemed like a decent sort, a Turkish Cypriot who was also heading out for a beer, he also had a very plausible story that he was stuck in the city alone for the night as his flight back to where he worked in Dubai was delayed. His name was Borat (or was it? seems a strange one to choose) and he knew the bar I was heading to so showed me the way and joined me for a couple of drinks. He insisted on settling the bill and then asked if I wanted to go to another bar where they had traditional Turkish belly dancing. As this is exactly the sort of high brow cultural tourism one should immerse yourself in when on holiday I agreed. In hindsight this was pretty dumb.

In the taxi I started to think Borat was not such a decent sort after all, not someone to worry about, just a bit of a jerk as we were talking less about our girlfriends and more about how the fact that his wasn't around meant y'know, fuck her... or rather fuck girls who weren't her. Then he followed that up with a chat about the fact that although he wasn't gay, he had no problem with them having rights so I let the first comment slide as a cultural difference.

10pm: We pulled up to a club but there was no evidence that traditional belly dancing might be occurring but there were silhouette lady pictures like you get outside strip clubs or in James Bond opening credits. I'd made my mind up, when we got to the door and they asked for our entrance fees I would politely tell Borat I was off. Only there wasn't a cover charge and nor were there any strippers. Perhaps I'd misjudged Borat, it was just a bar so no harm in a couple of drinks, we ordered a bottle of Raki and the conversation started to flow about Cyprus, Turkey and all the stuff that makes meeting foreigners in the street worthwhile.

Now, while there were no strippers as such there were a couple of tables of girls who one might say looked like high class prostitutes and after half an hour or so an important looking man who looked like Michel Platini had sent two of them over to us. One sat by Borat, one by me. Borat ordered a drink for 'his one' and then the waiter asked if I wanted to buy a drink for 'my one'. I was peeved, I didn't have much money in my pocket but British politeness got the better of me so I said 'go on then'.

The girl next to me was from Belarus, she spoke very little English, about as far as we got was:
Her 'How old are you?'
Me 'thirty two. You?'
Her 'Twenty four'
Me 'Really? You must have had a hard paper round'
Her 'I don't understand'

Several rounds of shots of Raki went quickly down accompanied by some snacks I didn't want or order and then more drinks were ordered at which point I said to Borat that I was going. He asked for the bill while I checked the menu to do the maths myself.


There on the menu, clearish to see: 'ANY DRINK FOR ANY GIRL: 150 TL' that worked out as £40 per Martini.*

Oh dear.

According to the menu in front of me I owed £200 for an hour of broken conversation and a few carrot sticks. Then the actual bill came and my worst fears came true. This was a scam. They'd added all sorts to the bill which was written down as 3900 TL - nearly £1000.

I now became rude to the Belarussian and finally decided that perhaps Borat wasn't entirely trustworthy either. He'd taken me there and said he'd been before, if he had why would he be back? Bastard was in on it, either that or he made an awful lot in Dubai, either way, what he did next was massively beneficial as he said we needed to go to a cash point. We were accompanied by a large waiter/bouncer but we were outside and I was now considering my options. I couldn't take the waiter in combat, I couldn't have taken the Belarussian for that matter. I don't know how to do combat.

Out of the club the waiter/bouncer told me to go to the cash machine next to Borat's. Borat couldn't withdraw money but seemed keen that I try, I was not going to go first. He tried another cash machine and once again, no withdrawal. I confronted Borat about whether he was scamming me and he said 'don't be like that man, what can we do? We just have to pay it and we said we'd split it'.

Bollocks to it! As the other two walked to another cash point I dropped back a little took a deep breath in and then legged it as fast as I could across a park, although by legged it as fast as I could I mean carefully sort of danced my way through the snow so that I didn't fall over. I kept dancing/running for a long time, constantly looking over my shoulder, partly through fear but also to keep warm as I'd left my coat in the bar and it was freezing.

Several thoughts ran through my mind like 'Do many Turkish carry guns?' and 'Have I just left a friendly stranger to deal with our problem?' I had no regrets about running though and in hindsight Borat was definitely in on it and it was a well known scam that I'd fallen for.

The adrenaline pumping through my body meant that I wasn't going to be able to sleep so once I found my bearings I tracked down a bar with live music several kilometres from the 'belly dancing' place and drank beer playing over what had happened and what could have happened.

When I got back to the hostel I was asked 'Did you go out without a coat'
'Nope, I had a coat, now I don't, but that's a long story'

Hope this has entertained you, given you a warning story but not put you off a jolly pleasant city.

*What I did wonder was what happens if a girl comes in and orders for herself, surely that's an unfair policy?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Just a couple of days to start the Easter break

Up at 7:00am to get ready for a trip to Lake Eyasi. My neck was feeling crappy having been bounced around while testing out the land rover we'd hired the previous day, I'd had a few issues getting a vehicle and then fuel the previous day and was not in the best of moods.

My not so subtle 'I don't really want to go' dialogue:
7:20 'My neck really hurts, those bumpy roads have done me in, not sure I'll cope again today'
7:50 'We can't afford this trip' and then I made a list of the things that we need to spend money on.
7:55 'The rain is really starting to pour, the wipers aren't good on the car'
8:00 'Shall we just go with the P-Rs (our neighbours who were going to the same place) it will mean only one day but we'll save on fuel and accommodation' I pop round the corner to confirm we'll travel down in their car.
8:10 'Actually Emily it really is a miserable morning, don't you fancy a day in your pyjamas?'
8:15 'Emily. I don't feel like going.'

To all of it Emily responded with sensible suggestions and understood, like a parent trying to coax a fat child to go into school on sports day.

It was a strange and welcome relief to not have to go but most uncharacteristic, I love me an adventure. Though I'm sure we were missing a great couple of days, for whatever underlying reasons I was pleased to have been honest. Instead we had a lovely relaxed morning cuddled up on the sofa watching Monsters University as the rain beat down outside. Emily cooked soup and baked bread for lunch and once the weather brightened up we sat on our porch and read. My book was about identifying psychopaths and I identified myself several times and Emily once before concluding that we were probably both fine. As the sun set Emily gave the house a spray of mosquito killer but when we came in the sofa had become a small graveyard for ants that had dropped from the ceiling. I felt guilty for the collateral damage and after we'd brushed the bodies aside more continued to drip on us from the ceiling; it was raining ants but these ones were still moving. I consoled myself that because ants have it built in to follow the one in front these ants weren't writhing around in their final breath they were simply following their friend thinking the jump was a game.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Easter Adventure

Our party consisted of me and Emily and our Australian friends James and Angela. Our trip began in the flooded, gridlocked streets of Dar Es Salaam where twice we had to give up on our taxis, getting out to walk in order to make it to the train station on time.

We were taking the TAZARA express, a three day trip across the Tanzanian countryside and on to Kapiri Moshi in Zambia. The station would have been quite a sight when it was built in the sixties but as with many of these well intentioned projects there hadn’t been the investment to maintain it and it was now a leaking relic. There have been very few occasions when I’ve refused to drop the kids off at the swimming pool but that station bog was extraordinarily grim. I crossed my fingers that the train would have improved facilities particularly because we were in ‘first class’, though these things are relative and the cost of the ticket  for the trip was only 100,000 shillings (£40). If we arrived within a week we could have no complaints at that price.
On boarding the train we were pleasantly surprised to find the standards were much better than in the station, we had a cosy cabin to ourselves with top bunks that folded up to create our living space. Also the toilets, although basic, were bearable.

The train left on time or 2 hours late depending on whether you live in Africa or Europe and we spent the remainder of the daylight hours staring out of the window enjoying the verdant countryside passing by as we sipped cold beer. We were very happy; it was a promising start to our adventure.

The next day was spent staring out of windows and playing a few games of Bridge, all very relaxing until later that evening we reached the border from Tanzania to Zambia. The process should be straight forward as the immigration officers come onto the train and do the stamping in your cabins. That is of course only if your papers are all in order. Emily’s weren’t, she’d overstayed her tourist visa by one week and her work visa hadn’t yet come through. We’d forgotten this and now we were staring at the largest most intimidating man and he was licking his lips thinking ‘pay day’. He started with his spiel saying the fine is $600 and how dare Emily think she could behave outside the rules. It’s the same with a lot of misdemeanours in Tanzania, we weren’t in any danger of having to pay the full amount but a sizeable donation to the immigration officers’ beer funds was in order.  I won’t say exactly how much we paid but it put a fair old dent in our holiday funds. That said, it was only money and it was our own silly fault not to have checked so we carried on to the (much friendlier) Zambian check point already smiling again and over the hiccup.

Emily had her head out of the window nearly all of the last day, waving at local children who ran alongside as the train chugged through small villages. She would have made a good royal; she was most content just smiling and waving.

We left the train at 8pm, with some sadness but also excitement at the thought of a shower more substantial than a baby-wipe wash. The minibus from Kapiri Moshi to Lusaka insisted they could drop us off at our hostel which of course they didn’t. They didn’t even take us to Lusaka, instead stopping at a town en route where they found a coach heading to the city that could squeeze us on. All part of travelling in Africa and splitting a taxi four ways from the bus station was not expensive.

After a night spent in the Lusaka backpackers we spent 9 hours on a bus to Livingstone. And that’s all I have to say about that day as we were early to bed in preparation for one of the highlights of the planet Earth: The Victoria Falls.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Zanzibar. Days 3 and 4

Day 3.

It rained a lot so we played several games of scrabble, thankfully I won one because when Emily repeatedly beats me at games I am an embarrassingly loathable character. I’m a terrible loser. Our play was interrupted at one point by a cockroach who made me shudder and make a funny ‘uhuhuuh’  noise as he clung to my flip flop. This was little compared to Emily’s scream a minute later when she found herself face to face with him sitting on her shoulder. I did the brave boyfriend thing and pissed myself laughing as she brushed herself down for the following half an hour.

Day 4.

Having sort of wasted a day we made sure we were up early to meet up with Captain Fruit who was taking us out on a snorkelling trip. As we walked through the shallows our captain said ‘pole pole… snake’. Pole pole means slowly slowly and snake is an English word I wasn't delighted to hear as we waded through the seaweed. I asked what he meant and I think the gist of it was that we should walk slowly like a snake and not because of a snake. Apparently Emily missed this part of the conversation and so spent the wade out to the boat petrified that the weeds were crawling with sea snakes.

The dhow boat trip was wonderful, cruising along with the sun shining followed by a swim around a coral reef is a chuffing splendid way to spend a couple of hours. We headed back for fruit with Captain Fruit then bought a shell like one we’d seen whilst snorkelling from Captain Bush Doctor (everyone in Jambiani is Captain something or other).

We wanted to make the most of our last evening on the coast so went back to what was now our favourite restaurant where we accidentally consumed a lot of cheap, tasty wine. The wine took us on to the bar of an Italian restaurant that was just closing and we kept it open, joined by a guitar player and a man with a djembe drum. Emily sang along and I was tiddly enough to think I could play the harmonica.

We had to stay in the bar longer than we were welcome because a cyclone over Madagascar had blown its back end our way. By the time we were leaving at 3am we got our first sight of the beach at high tide, or rather, there was no beach at high tide. We got a fair way back towards our villa climbing over the fences of various hotels then Emily decided she’d try to outrun a wave. She did manage to outrun the wave, getting to safe ground about a second before the wave crashed into the concrete embankment. I waited for the next gap and ran after her calling her a bloody idiot. She seemed oblivious to the danger of the situation until I turned her around to watch the next wave smash into the concrete easily powerful enough to send a human head into the wall.

Against Emily’s protests I took the decision that we would stay where we were until the tide dropped. Our location was someone’s rather beautiful house. With it still raining heavily we took shelter under their porch and set our alarm for two hours later (I know, some of you are thinking you’ve heard a story like this before*). It was uncomfortable so Emily didn’t sleep and was not impressed when we moved on and discovered that we were only 50 metres from our bed. She said ‘we could easily have made it’, I replied ‘Yes, we could and probably would have made it but we could also have drowned or had our heads split open on a rock’. I was being overly dramatic and Emily was being overly ignorant of the dangers of the sea.

For the rest of the next day I built up the size of the waves in my recounting of the night, so much so that Emily got fed up and said ‘you were probably right’ just so that I stopped going on.

*See Back to Wanaka and a bit of a naughty story. If you think I should have learnt my lesson from then you’re a wally because the lesson was: Sleep where you want humans are lovely.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Zanbizarre. It wasn't that bizarre but that's a good play on words.

Day 2.

The planning for the day had to include a trip to a shop because Emily had unexpectedly gone all… y’know… female and… I think it’s something to do with the moon… I’m being a  mumbling buffoon, I’ll cut myself short. We needed to get some tampons.

The nearest shop was up the coast in Paje so we set off north along the beach planning to reach the shops in an hour or so. At lunch time, half way in our minds, we stopped for a beer and found that in actual fact we were still about an hour and a half from Paje and should probably get a taxi. It was a good job we did because there was nothing left in the two shops in town. This left us having to explain our mission to the taxi driver which is an awkward enough conversation with a fluent English speaker. The conclusion was that our only real hope was to drive back across the island to the capital.

On the way I spotted one likely looking chemisty type place on the side of the road so jumped out to ask if they could help. I thought it would be quicker and safer if I went alone and so approached the lady at the counter armed with limited Swahili. We all know the international sign language for ‘can I have the bill please’ and ‘do you have a phone’ but picture if you will this idiot, blushing, stuttering and attempting the sign language for ‘do you have any feminine hygiene products’.

I repeated the Swahili for ‘month’ and ‘woman’ whilst pointing at what I wanted to convey as my lady parts. As I did so it occurred to me that in the climate of a devoutly religious place with a recent history of throwing acid in the faces of the disrespectful this might be poor form. I was pretty sure she had sort of understood what I’d asked for and didn't have any, so on we pressed before finding a shop that led to Emily squealing with joy and clutching a packet of tampons to her breast.

To celebrate the relief we took our taxi man for a couple of beers then returned to the East coast for a bloody pleasant dinner and a litre of wine.

N.B. Emily has read and approved (sort of) the publication of this post.

Monday, 17 February 2014



Day 1: We flew from Arusha airport which in itself is an experience. It’s a small airport only allowing light aircraft, although a month earlier that hadn’t stopped a Boeing 767 from landing there, much to the confusion of the air traffic control tower and the 200 passengers who were expecting to get out at Kilimanjaro International Airport some 50km away rather than in a field at the end of the short runway.

We had far better luck, we sat in the departure lounge with a couple of pilots I play cricket with and they found us a man who could walk us past the security queue much to the somewhat understandable annoyance of a German woman who’d been stood in the queue for some time. It was a queue she hadn’t yet been asked to join and it’s pretty obvious the correct behaviour in a small relaxed place is to join in and be relaxed. For us it was a breeze, 10 minutes after going through security our 12 passengers took off and waved goodbye to the German who was still determined to be first in the next queue she’d joined.

Taxi to the East side of the island we were staying in a simple private villa on the beach at Jambiani, with a front garden that opened onto the impossibly turquoise Indian Ocean.

So yeah, pretty sweet deal.

Took an evening stroll along the beach stopping at a most agreeable beach bar where we befriended a pair of puppies and (not on) a girl called Anastasia.
We were pleased when:
1: She turned out to be an interesting Canadian. And 2: She bought a round of shots.
We moved on for dinner and were disappointed when:
1: The food took an age to come out. And 2: We discovered that it hadn’t been that long we were just in a dry restaurant and time drags when you’re stopped from drinking just after getting to a lovely level of  conversational competence.

After the meal we said our good-nights and I mentioned to Emily how it was so strange that Anastasia had gone all quiet during dinner and almost a bit off with us for no reason. Being more perceptive than me Emily noted that it probably wasn't for no reason as her mood shift coincided with me insisting several times that ‘one of the musical instruments painted on the walls looks like a medieval abortion instrument’. On reflection I can see how one might misconstrue my witty repartee to be inappropriate table conversation with a stranger. 

Being left alone was most definitely a good thing because it allowed Emily and I to finish the night off with a romantic nightcap sitting on the sand, listening to the waves and watching the drunkest man in Zanzibar trying to get back to the pile of clothes he’d left on the beach. His legs and head were in strong disagreement about which was the best way to tackle the five yard journey and so he kept us entertained for the duration of a cold Kilimanjaro beer. At the end of day one we had already decided that we liked Zanzibar.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Stop jumping

Arrived in Uyuni with a few hours to kill, took a picture of John in a tiny railway car so that made him happy then bought me a trilby. Pretty sure that makes me a tool but it was the lesser of two evils with the still peeling burnt scalp.

At our tour office we couldn't halp but notice two loud, irritating Australians and two miserable looking Americans. Crossed our fingers that they wouldn't be in our jeep, which, of course, they were. Charlotte was bumped off to another company but looking at our group it felt like a bit of a result on her behalf.

After an hour in the car with the Australians I was ready to get out and walk back. Our worries about them had been confirmed and then some. They were loud, rude, selfish, disrespectful of our driver and just occasionally, annoyingly funny. Every time they saw a dog they shouted 'Perro' which, as you can imagine, was fun for all of never. The Americans on the other hand were a decent just engaged couple who could hold a conversation.

Salt Flats stop 1: Train cemetary. Some rusty old trains. They'd made some swings and a see saw out of some of the remains. It was a load of idiots taking pictures in silly poses. Not my thing. In fact I'll take this opportunity to say how much I hate jumping photos. WHAT ARE YOU ACHIEVING YOU MORONS? Sure take a photo as a memory but then lets just enjoy the place.
Wherever there is a popular attraction I'm forced to endure:
'You jump on 3 I'll click on 2'
'Damn, okay I think I have to click on 1'
'No you jumped on 2'
'Nearly got it, maybe I click on 1.5'... And so on until anyone who wanted to just sit and enjoy the view has cut their wrists any anyone who isn't sat with me being miserable and intolerant has formed a queue to go through the whole same dimwhit jumping process. Who was the first person to start this trend and how do I have them murdered?
Had to wait ten minutes for the Australians to finally get back.

Stop 2 - The salt flats themselves. Interesting place. Each Jeep that turned up had a load of white people get out taste the floor and confirm that it is indeed 'salty'.
Having had our twenty minutes of staring time we once again had to wait for the Aussies. So delayed that I  had to shout out to them and point out that the driver had been beeping his horn for them. They had been busy taking 'nudey photos'.

Stop 3 - Lunch. One of the Australians was incredibly rude to the driver to the point of threatening him because he wanted to get into the bags on the roof of the jeep and get his sunglasses. Our driver, Gregorio, was half way through preparing food and rightly ignored the twat.

Stop 4 - Cactus island. Weird island in the middle of the flats. It has Cacti on it. Got a bit of time to walk around and leave the Australians which was good because I'd had enough of them calling Gregorio any name but his own. 'Greggo, Gregorrrrry, Gregamundo'.

Stop 5 - Salt hostel. Pulled up to what looked like a dump from the outside. Team Australia tried to start a mutiny and wanted to steal the Jeep and go somewhere else. Me and John got out and had a look at the place. It was charming, with salt floors and walls and a great view across the flats.

Day two - Some incredible views of flamingo filled lakes and volcanoes. I'd also managed to be a little less irritable around the Australians.

Day three - Up at 4:30 to see bubbling mud and geysers then take a dip in hot springs. Not a bad way to start a day. One of the Aussies heard me whinging about them always being selfish and late and I was impressed to note that he asked what time we should get out of the springs. He was still 5 minutes later than the rest of the group but this was an improvement. Couple more stops before leaving the group and crossing in to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Lunch and a stroll around then 23 hours on a bus to Santiago.

La Paz

On our first night in La Paz we signed up to go and watch Cholita wrestling. It was simply bizarre but one of the most entertaining afternoons imaginable. Every fight had a clear goody and baddy, usually indicated at the start by the referee affectionately hugging the baddy then kicking the goody in the crotch. The first fight was between a man in colourful mask and a dodgy dancing man in a skeleton onesy. After this came the cholitas themselves - women in bowler hats and frilly dresses with big petticoats. It was certainly no WWE in terms of the acrobatics but they didn't hold back, as one observer put it we saw a whole lot of gusset. They would also steal people's drinks from the audience then bash each other with the bottles covering the audience in fanta.

Day two we were off to cycle 'The World's Most Dangerous Road'. The road descends from 4700m to 1200m and is one hell of a day out. I bottled a couple of the designated photo spots. I was quite close enough to the edge that once claimed 80 lives in a day thank you very much. There was even the ridiculous suggestion that we all do jumping photos at a particularly scenic ledge. I must have jumped all of half a centimetre from the ground and was told to have another go, my reply was of the sweary variety. I don't like heights but the scenery and fun of the ride made it all very worth while.

Day three. I was not a well boy and spent the day poorly sick in bed. David was suffering even worse, so much so that he took himself to hospital and spent the night on a drip. We'd been planning to move on that night but when John and Charlotte went to the bus station they found out that the last bus to Uyuni had left earlier in the morning because the next day was Census day.

Day four, census day. For the first time in ten years Bolivia was having a census and to do this they had decided to shut the country. Nobody was allowed out on the streets without government permission so for us it meant a day sat in the hostel. We had cards and there was a bar, it was fine. In fact we were in the best company possible. Pontus is the biggest fan of games on the planet, not a minute would go by when he didn't turn whatever was happening in to a game of some sort so we had a good day. In theory the hostel was not allowed to sell beer on census day but they got round this by hiding everyone's drinks and telling drunk people not to speak to her when the census lady arrived.

Final day in La Paz was spent drinking tea after some hugs goodbye to David, Pontus and Angela then Charlotte, John and I headed south to Uyuni and the salt flats.

Machu Picchu and that

Lima, Peru. Went with John to look at the central squares. Found a little shop selling people's old black and white photos so bought John a picture of a group of old women who were having a great time. He got me a man on a horse. Followed this excitement with a 22 hour bus ride to Cuzco.

Cuzco, Peru. Machu Picchu as you may have heard, is a pretty good place to stare at. We stared at it for two hours and it was a whole bucket load of awesomeness. Rather than hiring a guide we made our own tour and so if you are to ask me or John for the history of Machu Picchu we would tell you that it was built by a colony of half Russian/half Dutch people who had a big thing for goat molesting ceremonies.

Next day in Cuzco we wandered about a bit and got John a hat and sunglasses. Within 24 hours he had lost the hat and broken the glasses. Next move was on to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. On the bus we met Suffolk David and Swedish Pontus who I'd met in Quito, their Australian friend Angela and a tall, friendly Manc called Charlotte. For the next week they became our travel family. When buying the bus ticket we'd been told the bus was definitely directo. Directo my arse! Near the border we were bundled in to a minibus with our packs strapped to the roof and after the border there was another minibus change, but this is all part of the fun of travelling.

Went to the ropey Copacabana beach and took a dip in the lake unaware that it is essentially a gert big sewer. Walked up a hill which was not very tall but because of the altitude it was one of the hardest hikes I've had. Collected some wood on our way back down and John and I built a fire by the lake to see out the night. A thunderstorm came and spoilt our fun, completely soaking us and battering us with hail. During the day we'd got sunburnt. Me through my hair so badly that I had a peeling bonce for the next week giving me quite disgusting, chronic dandruff.

Nice day out visiting Isla Del Sol on the lake followed by a short bus to La Paz.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Meeting the Bro

Got to Lima the day before John was arriving and walked to a hotel recommended by Lonely Planet. It was fully booked and so was another nice looking place on the same road. I turned a corner to be presented with a choice of two rough looking hotels, one had a big neon sign advertising the 20 soles price and adult films, I chose the other. It smelt a bit but it was cheap and I needed a wee so I took it. When I laid down on the bed I noticed it had mirrors on the ceiling, a classy joint.

Explored a bit of Lima, then back to the hostel for early night of TV and sleep because I was down to the last of my cash. Had to throw a pair of pants in the bin because a poo disguised itself as a fart. Sneaky bugger.

Successfully met John at the airport, this was no small feat for anyone who knows my brother or me. He'd brought my replacement card with him and it even worked allowing me to get money out for the first time in weeks.

Went out for Chinese, served by a giggly 12 year old waitress. Back at the hotel I didn't mind sharing a bed with John but there was something not right about sharing with him under a mirrored ceiling.