Given the topic of last week’s post I guess it might not be too much of a surprise to discover that I’m often unsure which part of travelling I enjoy the most: the journey itself or the exploration of a new destination that comes at the end of it. Most people, I’m sure, wouldn’t give my conundrum a second thought, but it is one I was reminded of this past week as I escaped the dry heat of Trujillo (‘The City of Eternal Spring’, remember) to head inland and up towards the cooler climes of the Andean foothills.
My destination was Huamachuco, a small city of about 50,000 people that at 3200m (10,000 feet) sits nestled in-between the eastern and western cordillera of the Andes. Although unlikely to be on the to-do lists of many visitors to Peru, the nearby pre-Incan ruins of Marcahuamachuco (known as the “Machu Picchu of the North”), and the fact that it is only a four hour drive from Trujillo, meant that for me it seemed like a relatively a decent spot for a short break.
Leaving midday at Sunday we sped effortlessly out of a traffic-less Trujillo and into the lifeless terrain that surrounds it; the beige scorched earth that dominates the northern coastal regions is congruous with the inland hills, which at first glance resemble rudimentary sandcastles.
Further inland though, the land becomes flushed with health, as barren desert becomes slopes of luscious green upon which terraced farms cling desperately in order to extract every last drop of goodness from the soil.
Andy in the Andes
During the build-up to the Olympics, I was intrigued to read various guides intended for people visiting the UK during the games, about London and the British. Typically, all of them included the usual stereotypes about British politeness and etiquette, particularly with regard to our propensity to queue and apologise profusely for no reason.
As I pondered the reality of these stereotypes I also started think about how my daily interactions with strangers in São Paulo compare with those in the UK. Are the British really as polite as we’re made out to be? And how do Paulistanos compare? Well, let’s have a look… Continue Reading
In London we moan when trains and buses are delayed or cancelled. However, my wife always seemed happy that they turned up at all and she gasped in disbelief when the first ever train that she caught in the UK arrived promptly at 11.17, “They actually come at set times?” I remember her saying.
She could also never understand why if the next day the same train was delayed until 11.25 you would hear a chorus of tuts from passengers around you. “At least the train is coming” she would say optimistically.
However, her favourite thing about public transport when we lived in London was what she called “the talking buses” (i.e. the way they tell you the destination and what the next stop is). Similarly, when her sister came to visit in the summer of 2011 she thought it hilarious that the trains politely ask you to take your belongings with you at the end of your journey. “Very British” she said.
I though could never understand why she was so fond of our public transport, probably because as Brits we make complaining about it a national sport. Well, I understood soon enough when I first experienced public transport, buses in particular, in São Paulo. Continue Reading