Pigs. Scum. Filth. Epithets all befitting of the police force in Cartagena. Perhaps in a country still in in the hangover of Escobar’s reign one might expect a touch of corruption amongst the authorities but I must say I was surprised to encounter their immorality quite so in the open. Stop and searches are in effect – Gringos only! – and these are tinted with a great deal of nervousness. Who knows what they might “find” on your person. Any drugs they may “find” on you will lead to an on the spot fine, sometimes for a modest amount, say, £15, but if you are unlucky enough to find yourself at the mercy of the worst of these unpleasant people, you may be marched to an ATM to withdraw whatever you can. I don’t think I need to mention that this cash goes straight in to their pockets. Cartagena is the only place I have been to that the police are more worrisome than the criminals and that they are to be avoided wherever possible. But I am getting ahead of myself. Continue reading
As of 2012, a new Airport serves Quito and it is a great big clean modern paragon of efficiency. Clearly then, this capital city is going places and promised to be a place that reflected its method of ingress. Sadly I was to be mistaken.
The big one. The money shot. The one place that everybody jealously goes “ahh” when I mention I am going to visit. The Galapagos is an absolute must see, but outside of the ability of many South America travellers due to one thing: money. Fortunately I had budgeted for this trip from the very beginning, but even my fairly generous slush fund was not quite enough. Still, I feel that it is an absolute tragedy for anyone to find themselves in Ecuador and not make it to this place. If anywhere deserved the tag “magical”, then the Galapagos is it and money be damned. Continue reading
After several days at a beach resort, it was plainly clear that I needed a change. This change took form in another beach resort further up the coast, near the border with Ecuador. The small town of Mancora is well known to younger Peruvians who flock there during national holidays to surf and sunbathe and fortunately I was not there at one of these times. It’s quite tough to find much of a range of accommodation online for Mancora (hitherto being the best way to arrive in a place with a reserved bed in a nice hostel), so I plumped for the highest rated place in town; a hostel called Loki. Continue reading
For many people, the trail from Cusco heads straight towards the coast, via the Nazca Lines, those mysterious etchings in the desert seen only fully from the air. The other option is towards Arequipa, a town popular with gringos and in close proximity to the world’s deepest canyon, Colca. Time was not on my side however, so it was straight to Lima for me – a city that I had been told time and time again was dirty, crowded dangerous and unpleasant. Continue reading