Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Abbas? fruit

the drive to Huarez

We had a 6:45am start to the new leg for our drive to Huarez.   At least at this time we weren't blocking the road again.  En route, Izzie stopped to buy some fruit called abbas or something.  It is like a big green bean pod, and the fruit is soft and white segments each with big black seeds inside.  Tastes reasonable. 

the drive to Huarez

the drive to Huarez

Huarez is high in the Andes, so we were back at altitude, driving back up through the mountains.  More good views to be had, and lots of small villages passed through.   

women at work
I find it fascinating the way that you pass a little ramshackle house on the side of the hills, miles from anywhere, and as well as the livestock wlking around, you'll also see a wood shop or a restaurant or some other business being run from home.  And you almost always see the women hard at work in their brightly coloured traditional clothes.

We arrived at a small guesthouse and then a guide discussed with us the options for activities for the next day. Nic and I opted for riding.

So in the morning, we were picked up by taxi and set off for an hour or so drive further up into the mountains.  Our driver was quite chatty, so we had a good chance to practice some Spanish and get to know a bit about him and the area.

The road up the hill was steep with lots of switchbacks and a very rough surface.  Most taxi drivers in the UK would have been grumbling already, but here it is to be expected.  But then we came across them 'improving' the road.  This involved dumping a load of sand and rocks, including some pretty large boulders, onto the road surface.  There had been no warning of this going on, and the only options were to turn back or carry on over it. Our driver waited for the digger to move back out of the way and carried on.  His wheels span on the rocks and he quickly got stuck.  We got out to make it easier, and he was able to free himself an get over the worst of it.  We assumed that this was a temporary stage in the works, and that they would be flattening it out properly as the next step, but when we returned some hours later it was no better, it just covered a bigger section of the road!

When we arrived at the end, we saw that our horses were, as we knew they might be, more like mules than horses.  We were immediately loaded onto their backs and set off with Oscar walking alongside us to keep them chivvied along in the right direction.

We vaguely knew that we were headed towards a lake, and would be riding for about three hours, but beyond that had no idea what to expect. It turned out that we had quite a lot further up to go.
riding in Huarez

Now Nic and I aren't little people and whilst I know that horses are strong, these were only small, and I started to feel pretty sorry for them as they carried us up the hill, especially as the terrain became very steep and rocky.  We'd been gone well over an hour, when we agreed that, despite Oscar keep telling us they were fine, we weren't comfortable with the effort that the horses were having to make to get us up the by now very steep and very rocky mountain.  So we decided to come back.

riding in Huarez

The return journey was fairly hairy at times. Going down steeply means that you lean back so that you feel almost parallel to the hill, as if you could just slide right off.  And whilst the horses are obviously quite sure footed most of the time, they do sometimes slip and stumble, and then you feel like you're coming off.  This all would not be so bad if the horses didn't insist on walking right on the very edge of the pathway where there is a sheer drop down the mountain.  But they do!

However, we made it back without falling, albeit it a little stiff from the ride.  And though we cut the ride short and didn't get to the lake, we still saw some beautiful scenery as we rode through this Cordilleras Blancos range of the Andes.

On the way back down the hill in the taxi we passed a family event taking place outside one of the houses.  They were all gathered together - parents and children - to butcher a cow.  By the time we passed they had already killed it, and were working on cutting it into joints.  They already had a couple of leg joints on one sheet, while another sheet had a large mound of the stomach and other internal workings! This was clearly an important event for the family, not to mention for all of the dogs that were patiently waiting nearby, hoping to benefit from some of the leftovers.

Unfortunately, by the time we made it back to the room, I had started to feel fairly unwell.  On looking at my face, it was clear that whilst the weather had looked very overcast, and at times there had been slight rain, I had still managed to catch the sun quite badly and had got a bit of heatstroke. So I rested while Nic went and watched the England -v- Montenegro match.

When we went out to eat, the guy at the restaurant was concerned that I hadn't eaten much and made me a herbal tea on the house to help me feel better.

On the way back to the rooms, we spotted crowds of people outside the TV shops watching a Peru world cup  qualifying match.  They were getting very excitable at a few near misses, but had yet to be rewarded with an actual goal.

But an early night was on the cards for us before another long driving day tomorrow.

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