Toms One for One

I had an eye-opening experience at the Tom’s store in Dubai Mall. I always knew that Toms were comfy and cute but I had no idea about One for One. Did you know that for every purchase of Toms shoes you make, a child in South or Central America receives a pair of shoes.

Having lived in Peru the video of the Peruvian children receiving shoes from the Tom’s employees brought back warm memories. We often take the simplest things for granted, to us shoes are a commodity but in many parts of the world shoes are a luxury. Blake Mycoskie the founder of Toms had the fantastic idea, A simple idea that has grown into a global movement: TOMS Shoes has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006, TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 400,000 since 2011 and TOMS Roasting Company has helped provide over 335,000 weeks of safe water since launching in 2014. In 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was founded with the mission to help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby. As of 2016, TOMS has supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers.

So next time you make a Tom’s purchase, you should be aware that your money is helping someone in need 🙂 I love my customised Toms, they painted Llamas on them for me as a little symbol of Peru ❤

 

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Chachapoyas

I had already been to Chachapoyas previously to see Gocta and Kuelap and they are well worth it but my second trip was a very relaxing one. Just a girly weekend away full of goodtimes and laughter. There was some kind of festival on while we were there so we checked that out, it was full of food and Chachapoyas is just so picturesque even if you sit and do nothing its beautiful. Enjoy the snaps:

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A Jam-packed January

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I can’t believe January is already over! My memories of travelling are slipping further and further away and I am getting back into the swing of life in Dubai. I still have many travel stories to write and hope I will find the time this month. Although I am embracing being back in Dubai I am missing South America a lot. I am grateful for January’s array of events and being able to catch up with old friends as well as meeting many new people. I also had my grandma in town so it was nice to spend time with her, she loves flowers so I took her to Dubai’s miracle gardens which was lovely! There are lots of new venues opening up and it was a great but busy month here are my highlights:

New Years fireworks in Dubai are always fantastic but this year they outdid themselves by placing the worlds largest LED screen on the Burj Khalifa, they had a wonderful light show combined with the fireworks, the lightshow remained on until January the 8th. I booked a table on the balcony at the Rivington Grill in Souk al Bahar so that I could have a delicious dinner accompanied by a fantastic show:

I was happy to be back in the sunshine so enjoyed Market OTB which was a daytime event in Southridge park. Another nice family day out was Dubai’s Miracle Gardens, It takes about an hour and a half to see it all with stopping for pictures and they have little restaurants and cafés. The flowers are all the same but beautiful nonetheless and its incredible how they have made monuments out of them such as the Burj Khalifa, beautiful peacocks, houses and cars.

Theres a fantastic new restaurant in town called Tribeca Kitchen & Grill in JA Oceanview hotel in JBR. It was a really cool venue, huge and artsy and had a real cool loungy feel. They provide a platform for local entertainment – I loved the band they had for the launch. They have healthy and organic food, I tried a couple of the salads…they were ok, the cheesecake was pretty good. Will have to go back and sample some of the food, it serves Mediterranean and American contemporary cuisine. I think its definitely got a great vibe and is a nice place to hang out, it fills a gap in the market with it being a lounge that is also a creative space, it felt unpretentious despite the launch crowd which was full of Dubai’s socialites.

Another great restaurant that has opened up is the Delphine Restaurant at the H hotel. It has a chic art deco inspired venue with marble floors and crystals fringing the bar. The original restaurant is a popular celebrity haunt in West Hollywood, California. It certainly was a fine dining experience, the service was perfect and the food was delicious, I enjoyed everything…even a raw meat “kibbeh” dish which I was apprehensive to try. Afterwards we headed up to the 40th floor to check out 40 Kong, it is a beautiful venue but was very crowded as anticipated. I think its somewhere you can fully enjoy with a table reservation.

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40 Kong

It was V-Cloud’s one year anniversary party,  V-Cloud offers a world of unique opportunities, refined tastes and unparalleled exclusivity. It is a one of its kind rewards and privileges program designed to enhance your experience in the lap of luxury. We had a wonderful night at their lavish birthday party.

My most anticipated event was the Latin American festival, it was the first of its kind in Dubai and I was really excited to see what it would be like. I think they underestimated the turnout as it was jam packed but it was a really fun event. It was in an alley in Al Quoz, the street was lined with stalls selling Art, South American food and there were crowds around the salsa dancers who were performing. I picked up a few trinkets and was happy to practice my Spanish. I hope they have more events like that, it was a great night!

My Amazonian Adventure (Part 3)

We woke up and decided to go to the Belen mercado for breakfast, it was about a 20 minute walk from our hostel, on the way we passed the famous Belen neighbourhood. It is a floating shanty-town with 7000 inhabitants. The colourful houses on stilts are a wonderful sight and in the rainy season these stilts are immersed in water. The inhabitants can only leave their houses by boat and market traders come door to door in their canoes to sell jungle produce. Unfortunately when I was there it was the low season and its dirty, unhealthy and dangerous to walk around so we observed it from a distance. You get street guides offering to take you in but I wouldn’t advise it.

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The market was fascinating, it was huge and sold everything you could imagine. Every street sold something specific so you had a street of clothes, another of shoes, one of the shaman witch doctors, fruit and veg and meat! These last two were the most interesting streets for me, I had never seen some of this fruit and veg in my life and was so fascinated by the colours and shapes of these different fruits. I bought one of each to taste, the flavours were so foreign to me, I had literally nothing to compare these new flavours to and it was a great food experience! Next stop was the meat and fish street, unfortunately this was where I saw the most animals during my jungle experience…none of which were alive.

They had everything from caiman meat, to turtles to fish that I had never seen. I walked up and down taking pictures and asking what fish they were, it was a mixture of fascination and disgust. I could write an entire blog on this particular issue but I won’t because after living with a family in the jungle I realised this was a means of survival for them. There are so many issues to be addressed such as implementing limitations on hunting of particular species but many of these civilisations are even unknown to governments, they are so remote that creating such laws would be useless. For example the family we lived with were allowed to cut down as many trees as they wanted, there were no conservation laws whatsoever even for rare species. Something definitely needs to be done but the issue is very complex.

We tried many new foods but I didn’t dare eat the grubs, everyone kept telling me they were delicious with the mango salsa but just looking at them made me want to vomit. Lena said they pop in your mouth like eyeballs and then slimy stuff comes out but they taste good…I often say “No thanks I would rather eat my own eyeballs” but actually..I wouldn’t eat any! We decided on a typical Peruvian breakfast Lena had Ceviche (fish dish cooked in the acid of lemon) and I had Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice), in Peru you get used to eating dinner for breakfast! Belen market is a must see for anyone in Iquitos, its colourful and full of locals, it doesn’t cater to tourists so you get the real deal! Just make sure you don’t take any valuables, its known for having thieves and is the most dangerous neighbourhood so always be aware of your surroundings and don’t ever look lost!

The rest of Iquitos was also a colourful experience, the weather was tropical and the greenery was lush. One day me and Lena tried to get to a lake and the mototaxi took us to a puddle instead…it was across town in the same direction but obviously not the right place. We got off anyway as it was a tiny village that looked really interesting. There were houses scattered around and a few small tiendas, after walking around for a few minutes we had seen it all and decided to head to a tienda (cornershop) to get some drinks and play cards. The owner quickly set up a small table outside with a view of the river and we got some snacks and just sat there chilling for an hour. Passers by were really friendly and it was a cute place. That evening we went for dinner to puerta Bellavista, it is another market except this time where all the fish and meat is you choose yours and they cook it for you on the barbecue! It was where the locals ate and was cheap and delicious. I loved Juanes, it was rice steamed in banana leaves with spices, I ate it everyday that we were there.

By the river in Iquitos there is a lovely malecon, we came here the first night to eat and I loved it. It was like an Amazonian covent garden – bars, restaurants and street performers and people selling random things (mostly jewellery). There was this buzz in the air and I loved the atmosphere. We ate at Dawn on the River restaurant which I would highly recommend, the food was delicious. A Peruvian American fusion of flavours and it really worked, everything was simple but cooked perfectly. While speaking about “must-eats” El Sitio was AMAZING!! Its a restaurant with an array of different skewers – fish, cheese, meat, chicken, veggies – you just pick up whichever ones take your fancy and they are barbecued. A really cute old man grills them for you, originally he used to have a grill on the pavement outside and he did so well that he now had this restaurant which was completely packed and once the skewers are finished its over so get there early to sample the best ones!! If I had found that on the first day I would have eaten there everyday..thats how good!

The malecon also had an artisanal market if you turn left from dawn on the amazon, its full of beautiful hand-crafted things many of which are made by Amazonian’s clearly under some kind of influence. The tapestries are created by ladies while drinking Ayahuasca, each piece is unique and intricately woven and the colours are breathtaking. I found out they are actually made in Pucallpa. Iquitos is not the place to go souvenir shopping unless you are buying things made there as it is not accessible by road everything is imported and therefore more expensive, it was one of the most expensive places I visited in Peru.

If you are doing jungle tours in Iquitos make sure you research them thoroughly and know which you want to do because the tour vendors will confuse you. They follow you in the streets really trying to persuade you to visit their tour companies and every hostel sells tours to, in fact so do most restaurants and so you can’t escape it. The night we went to book ours we ended up being so confused and annoyed and they are all so desperate for sales they say anything so you don’t even believe them. I was persuaded by a tour, spent 2 hours discussing it and then we decided to just do it and then the guy ends up saying its full. We got so fed up we decided to just forget it all together, I remember being annoyed in India by people selling me stuff but this was on another level. It was literally people fighting over you, telling you not to talk to this tour company or that and it was like you were caught in a tour war. We were walking back to our hostel and we saw this guy on a motorbike who Lena had spoke to a few days ago who had a tour company, he stopped and asked us if we managed to book a tour and we said no so he took us to his office…the tour was very different to what I initially had in mind but we were certainly in for an adventure! We had booked it for two days as the next day we were going to the monkey island, for those of you who have seen this video, you know part four is going to be entertaining.

My Amazonian Adventure (Part 2)

At 2.47pm on Tuesday the klaxon blew and we pulled out of the harbour, that meant we had been on an anchored ship for over 26 hours! We were told we would leave on Monday at 3pm and to be on the ship by 12 to find a spot for our hammock so we did. As 3pm drew closer the ship buzzed with rumours of a late departure and slowly it got later and later until we were told we would leave at 10am the next day…which became 2.47 but as we pulled away I was relieved that we were getting closer to our real jungle adventure.

They serve breakfast and dinner on board, you line up with your bowl and spoon, it felt like Oliver Twist. I was starving by dinner time and was waiting for the bell to sound, as soon as it went off I rushed downstairs with mine and Lenas bowl, and hurried back. I handed Lena hers, tried to sit on my hammock, obviously in a way that you shouldn’t and fell off backwards, my piece of chicken and potato went flying past my ear and I landed with the bowl still in my hands with some rice left…I was devastated! I didnt even care that I fell because I was just looking at the chicken on the floor beside me. Thankfully Lena eats EVERYTHING so she was happy to eat my chicken and gave me hers (this is one of the reasons I love travelling with her).

The boat was taking us to Iquitos, the only city In the world that is not accessible by road, it was a city deep In the Amazon and although we were told our journey would take 2 days and one night, we were prepared by stories of friends that told us their journey ended up taking 5 days. We didn’t mind, we learnt to love the boat, to spend our days playing cards, chilling in our hammocks and watching the scenery as we floated through the Amazon.

There were several stops along the way, you were never told how long they would be but the ferry would collect cargo, often in the form of animals, or just more passengers. The second morning I woke up and didn’t feel too great, I told Lena I felt sick and shortly after began puking. It was nothing to worry about, this happened regularly to me in Peru, the food often didn’t agree with me. It carried on more then usual, a lovely couple who were both doctors came to see me at my hammock, they were from Germany. They gave me some medicine to make it stop and warned me that I should stay in my hammock as it causes dizziness… I got dizzy, the swinging of the hammock made it worse so I stumbled to the bench which was outside at the front of the boat and thought the breeze would do me good so I lay on it.

We had been stood still all morning, since about 6am at a village where they had been loading cargo. At around 10 Lena said she wanted to explore a bit and to get me something to make me feel better. I could see all these watermelons from the boat, literally thousands and I told her I was craving a slice. She went with Manuel, one of the Swiss guys, as she was walking off she said “Make sure the boat doesn’t leave without me” And I replied “If it leaves I will wave at you from my hammock.”

It was meant to be a joke but about 15 minutes after they got off I realised we were moving! “OH NO!!” I shouted to the other Swiss guy Peter and ran off to the captain to make him stop. He didn’t really care, he just said “too bad, they will have to get a car to drive them there.” I explained Lena had left her money on-board and they might be stranded but he just carried on driving very nonchalantly and it was really annoying me so that was the first time I got angry in Spanish. I told him we waited on the ship for 26 hours for him to leave and now he won’t even wait for 10 more minutes for them, we realised that the Daniel the ex-war veteran who was in his 60’s was also gone and so was the Brazilian, Eduardo! This did not sway the captains decision, I felt better that Eduardo was with them, he was this very cool and capable character. He had travelled the world and he was helping us with everything, he tied our hammocks on, told us about the various things we passed, showed me where the Amazon river really begins and how you can tell by the two colours in the water changing. He had all these amazing stories and just spouted knowledge and everyone on the boat knew him. Anyways I had to leave the captain to throw up and then I went back to my hammock, we were long gone by then. I was thinking about how I would carry all their bags and me and Peter decided they would probably have gone by car and will in fact be waiting for us there as its faster.

I heard a speedboat and some people went over to look at it, I just stayed in my hammock…they were all talking I was not really paying attention, just thought it was bringing more passengers but then Eduardo came up the stairs! I jumped out of my hammock and asked him where Lena was and if he even saw them. He said no he didn’t even know they were there!! Shortly afterwards they came up the stairs, he was joking! They all got the speedboat and we were reunited. “sorry I let the boat go, he wouldn’t listen to me” I said, “sorry I ate your watermelon” Lena replied. So I guess we were even…like I said Lena eats everything hahaha. That night we pulled into the harbour in Iquitos! We had made it!

We waited to get off but they wouldn’t let our boat dock, all these police boats were around and then we were told the small water taxi in front of us (which me and Lena take on our next trip to monkey island) had a murder on it. Apparently they robbed people and killed a woman and so we had to wait. Not the nicest welcome but I just thought logically that they probably wouldn’t rob trampy looking backpackers like us and they must have known those people had more to give then we did. I look forward to telling you about Iquitos and the monkey island, tune in for the funniest video of me getting attacked by a monkey, best places to go in Iquitos and how we lived with a family in the heart of the Amazon!

Ciao for now x

My Amazonian Adventure (Part 1)

“Lena!! I got the tickets from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas!!” I said excitedly, “Chachapoyas?! WHY?” she replied. “Didn’t you want to go to Tarapoto via Chachapoyas so you could see it? I asked confused” Blank faced, we realized…. we had last discussed plans before I went to Colombia over a month ago and they had changed so…the trip began with a slight misunderstanding but we were not going to let it dampen our spirits! We boarded our bus at around 10pm and would reach Chachapoyas at 8am where we would figure out how to get to Pedro Ruiz, a small town where buses go straight to Tarapoto. (FYI you can get direct buses from Chiclayo to Tarapoto)

ferry journey

Tarapoto lies at the mouth of the Amazon and we were trying to catch a three day ferry down the Amazon river to get to its belly which was in Iquitos.  At about 4am the busdriver yelled “Pedro Ruiz!”. “OMG Lena! This is where we have to try and get to tomorrow, we should just get off the bus now!” “Yeah you should” said the annoying american girl sitting across from us who kept jumping into our conversations… seriously doesn’t she sleep? We sleepily stumbled off the bus and got our bags and then we realised we were in the smallest, quietest town ever. There was not a soul around, no hostels, no coffee shops, just mountains, a few houses, pitch darkness and the pitter patter of stray dogs. The bus station had its shutters down but the bus driver told us we could get in. We knocked on the shutters and someone let us in, he said there would be no buses until 8am and we should reserve our seats, so we did. We sat down at a table, half of the bus station was a restaurant, we asked for a coffee and played cards till about 6am. Then we decided to explore the town and we headed to the market at the crack of dawn. The market was full of people having breakfast, lots of stalls sold hot drinks such as hot chocolate, coffee, soy milk and a soup type thing made with quinoa. It looked like every other modello I had seen in Peru, only the sizes ever varied but they sold all sorts of nik naks, all had a meat and fish section, fruit and veg and the food stalls.

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We headed back and waited for our bus, it had gone 8.30 and I asked the guy what time our bus would arrive, he said soon…11am and still no sign. We entertained ourselves by eating, drinking and playing cards. Eventually the bus came and we reached Tarapoto at about 7pm. We found a decent hostel, got some food and went straight to bed!

Tarapoto was ok, we stayed a couple of days but were worried that we wouldn’t make the ferry in time as some journeys are shorter then others and we wanted to get the 3 days/2 nights ferry rather then the 5 day one that a friend of ours had ended up on. I felt disappointed with Tarapoto, considering we were close to the jungle you could not even tell. It was a pretty big city and the only greenery I could see was the plants in our hostel. We went to the market in Tarapoto which was huge and got some things that we needed for our trip, I wish we had bought hammocks as they were a fraction of the price and much nicer compared to the ones in Yurimaguas, you need them for the ferry journey.  We mostly chilled, talked and played cards, went to eat, walked around a little. I think we were tired from our journey and just enjoyed the feeling of not having to do anything, there wasn’t a lot to do anyway as we had planned to do our jungle tours from Iquitos and Tarapoto had similar ones.

We found the combi (minibus) that takes around 2 hours to get to Yurimaguas, we waited for about an hour which felt like nothing after our previous 10 hour waiting for a bus stint. The journey was picturesque and the roads were not made for people with a weak stomach as they are high up and full of sharp bends however we enjoyed the drive.

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We arrived in Yurimaguas and I loved it! It was a small place with so much character, we arrived on the night of the elections so the streets were full of people crowding around televisions to see the results. There was a beautiful atmosphere and it was more green then Tarapoto, you could actually tell that you were in the jungle. We ate delicious street food at this great place and we enjoyed the tropical climate AND we bought our tickets for the ferry which would leave the next day 🙂 I was sooo excited! I need a separate blog for the epic cruise down the Amazon, there you will learn how our boat journey became longer then expected, how the boat left without Lena while I lay in my hammock and our little ferry family 🙂 Look forward to sharing Part 2 with you tomorrow!

Toodles x

Guayaquil

My first stop in Ecuador was Guayaquil, I had heard that it wasn’t worth going there and that it was really dangerous but I actually thought it was a really nice city. I hadn’t really planned any of my trip, I just had a hit-list of places I wanted to see which meant that I had nowhere to stay in Guayaquil. I walked around with my backpack in the heat wandering from hostel to hostel completely shocked by the prices they were quoting me. Simple rooms were anywhere between $50 to $150 and the cheapest dorm I could find was $20 and it was horrible. As I walked around I saw a cute looking place called Manso Boutique Hostel and it was the one. They had dorm space and it was right on the malecon and very chic so that was to be my home for the night.

I walked down the Malecon and then went to explore the markets, the markets didn’t feel very safe, I could feel a lot of eyes on me and decided not to go to deep inside. I headed back to the hostel after a few hours and I met a girl who had just moved into my dorm. We went for dinner and then decided to walk up the malecon to the lighthouse in Cerro Santa Ana.

We took the 444 stairs up and through Santa Ana, I found the juxtaposition of this place crazy but something that I was growing accustomed to. The rich and poor divide is very apparent in South America and this was a perfect example of how one small hill was inhabited by two different worlds. It was actually a slum that had been transformed into a prime tourist location with bars and souvenir shops located at every level. On the other side of the hill lived many people in what was still a slum, a place so dangerous taxi drivers refused to take you there but only a few hundred metres away. The views of Guayaquil were breathtaking and I enjoyed snapping away for a while. Then we headed back and heard some live music so popped into a bar to watch.

The next day I went to see the famous Cathedral, it was very ornate and grand and outside was a park where HUGE land iguanas roamed freely! I wandered around and came to a park, somebody came and warned me to hide my SLR, all kinds of shady characters sat around me on benches. I thought I should head back and so made my way to the main street, I loved taking pictures of all the colonial buildings. Guayaquil was very Americanised, it had a lot of franchises and I saw a lot of tourists. I found it very expensive and had seen everything I wanted to see so I went back to the hostel to plan my next location. I had decided on Cuenca!

An Update from Peru

Hola Chicos!!

It has been so long!! I thought I would be blogging a lot here but I honestly just do not have the time any more. I spend my weeks working at a Spanish school called ASI, I am the marketing manager and manage the social events as well as the website, it has been a great and very challenging project so far. My first three months was spent writing texts and helping to build and design a new website for them, which you can see here (don’t forget to book a course while your browsing haha). It’s a great school where you can combine travel and learning Spanish by taking courses at our other schools in Ecuador and Cusco in Peru. You can even go travelling with a teacher to the Jungle, Andes or Galapagos islands where you can combine adventure with Spanish Classes. I really enjoy my work here, planning the social events is really fun too and our school is notorious for the BBQ’s. The students and employees all get involved and it feels like I have an ASI family here, you can find pictures of the crazy events on our Facebook page.

I really am so disconnected from what was once my reality, I feel like I have fully embraced life in Peru and I’m really enjoying it. I speak Basic Spanish now, I went travelling to Ecuador alone and managed fine which was a pleasant surprise. I say a lot of stuff wrong but I realised if I pretend I’m right people understand me haha. I am very much living in the now, I tend not to think about the future too much and just try to enjoy everyday. I live in a small seaside village, there really isn’t much to do here other then surf and go to restaurants. I spend most week-nights in my residence. I live with the most awesome people, I never thought it was possible to live in a house with 7 people who all really get on but they really are the perfect house-mates. We sit and talk every night on the rooftop or terrace and we just laugh the whole time. I had a friend come to visit me that I met in Ecuador who felt that it was just so much fun living in this house, he’s actually coming back for a month!

Weekends are always fun, usually we go out in the city or go travelling for the weekend. You can normally get overnight buses here for pretty cheap and there are great places nearby to see. You will see them in my pictures, I’ve compiled some of my highlights above for you.

On reflection, I learned to never underestimate people and living here just reaffirmed my beliefs, you don’t need a lot, you just need people who care in your life and the more you give the more you receive. Things are so clear here, they’re so simple because you don’t owe anybody anything, they are all strangers and for that reason everything you do for each other is so pure. I love that about travelling and its the reason I enjoy travelling alone. There are also times where I have been to places where I don’t connect with people but you learn to enjoy your own company and I think that is just as important. I was in the Andes for 4 days where I didn’t meet a single person but I loved it. I had time to just reflect and appreciate everything around me and of course many of you know my camera is my favourite companion haha. I think the key is to just appreciate everything, to never dwell on what you don’t have and to just embrace every experience.

Speaking of dwelling on what I don’t have…I’m gonna dwell for a second…I really miss my family and friends, yes I’m happy here but there isn’t a day where I don’t think of you guys or wish you were here. It really feels like you are all in another world and although I could easily spend another year or so in South America, I am sooooooo excited to see you all again! My Londoners, Dutch crew and my Dubaians, I love you and miss you all sooo much! I Skyped my mum the other day and all my family were having dinner together and I wished I could be there, and then I saw my beautiful grandma and it made me want to come home.

I suppose life is always a balance and as much as I feel really fulfilled here, I feel that something is missing and I suppose unless I can charter a plane for you guys it will always be that way…c’est la vie!

Sending you love and hugs

Zohra x

Carnival in Cajamarca

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  This blog post also appears on the Academia Superior de Idiomas’ blog I spent one of the best weekends of my life celebrating the carnival in Cajamarca. I heard about it when I arrived in Peru, it takes place throughout Feb but the main celebrations take place during the first weekend of March. If you don’t mind getting completely soaked, the celebrations are not to be missed. I thought I was prepared, armed with my water pistol, but after getting hit by a water balloon I realised I was going to lose this fight as I ran away from a guy who was trying to pour an entire bucket of water over me. Locals here are intrigued by tourists and often ask to take pictures with you, this happened right after one of them threw a water balloon at us but I took the opportunity to make friends. Its always nice to have locals in your circle, firstly they are generally really nice people, secondly you get exempt from “gringo tax” and thirdly had we not met them we wouldn’t have known about a lot of the things that were going on. They were also better prepared with bags of water balloons, and as they lived nearby they kept going home to get refills. We had formed an alliance and literally had a war against the entire square. It was so much fun, it ended with a downpour of rain which I danced in, firstly I missed the rain and secondly…nothing beats dancing in the rain 🙂

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Throughout Peru every town and city has a small park in the centre and by 10am it was  full of revellers. Some people woke up in the square from the previous nights festivities. Groups of friends gather with their drums and all play the same beat and sing the same song but somehow nobody gets tired of it! You can spot Llamas dressed to the nines wondering around the square and you should constantly expect to be thrown water at. wpid-IMAG1594_1.jpgwpid-IMAG1533.jpgwpid-IMG_24387019115418.jpeg Their is a daily parade and then the final Monday is the main parade which went on for hours and included huge floats. wpid-IMAG1563.jpgwpid-IMAG1546.jpgwpid-IMAG1497.jpg Although Peruvians travel far and wide to attend the carnival, spotting tourists is rare and it’s a very authentic experience that you can really immerse yourself in. We stayed at a good hostel, Hospedaje Jesús Trabajador Manthoc, it was centrally located so we could walk everywhere. They are one of the few hostels not to triple their prices during carnival, they also let us check out of our rooms at 10pm, gave 8 of us a 16 people dorm and didn’t charge us extra. It was clean with basic facilities…I wouldn’t plan on staying their longer then a weekend but for it was perfect for a short time. It was such a beautiful city and I missed out on a lot of the highlights such as the famous hot springs so I will be going back their before I leave! Toodles for now x