Aconcagua – HeadSpace

December 11, 2017

Aconcagua Diary: 12 December 2017

In less than eight weeks we will be on the mountain. The training continues its regular beat and we were back out on the Berowra escarpments on the weekend, this time with fellow trekkers who are our regular walking companions (and fellow Kilimanjaro veterans). The mental game associated with the climb started some time back, mainly with visualising the climb and the summit, though this has been through a ‘glass darkly’. Last night we finally printed off some high resolution images of the mountain and pinned them to a wall in the kitchen. Each is marked with the camps and the appropriate altitudes of each of those. It helps to see equivalent altitudes and be able to say “That camp is the same as the summit of Kilimanjaro.” Or not! But it helps to see as much as you can before climbing. In the early days of this sport the best you had was a sketchy map and part of the adventure was the exploration of the routes and finding a way up these things. Visualisation was on the back of written notes from early, and perhaps unreliable travellers.

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Aconcagua Diary – It Starts Here

December 5, 2017


Aconcagua Diary: 2 December 2017

The climb out of Berowra Waters is so familiar I could it traverse it in the dark but today it feels a little tougher than usual. The humid air drapes its wet blanket over us and slows us down. We are barely begun and the sweat slicks off my arms, and salts my eyes. The cicadas are out for the first time this season, and the orchestra that is the Australian summer thrumbs deeper and harder the higher we climb. There are moments when we pass between one on each side of the track, both vibrating at the same time and their chorus feels like it’s resonating in your head. It makes my ears hurt until I step on and up. Is it my imagination or are there less and less cicadas each year? There are certainly less Christmas Beetles. Where have they all gone? Once upon a time thousands would inhabit the bush at this time of the year. Last weekend I saw one lonely sample who had come inside – and came perilously close to being killed by those he startled. Read more

First Stuff Your Llama

August 19, 2016

IMG_1411Machu Picchu Diary

9 July 16

The stuffed llama standing on the terrace above me is a disappointment. “How does a UNESCO World heritage site stoop so low?” I wonder. Its stiff silhouette stares down at me for what seems ages as I make my way to the highest point we can find. Then the damn thing blinks and stalks off in that high stepping, insouciant way the llama does. Not so stuffed after all. Maybe it heard my uncomplimentary thoughts and has moved off in a huff.    Read more

Leaving Lima – and a bit of my heart

March 11, 2011

lima290.jpg(Diary 15 Nov 2010) I am sure they sound erudite and clever to each other but the two German ladies , otherwise quite well presented, are through half a bottle of white and have knocked off half a bottle of duty free Drambuie.  I am surprised they are still sitting upright. It is one form of therapy I guess as I sit here waiting all day (Buenos Aires) for a delayed QANTAS flight. There are a lot of “sh” sounds in German and right now this pair are blurring together in to a rolling, excited “shhhhhh” If they are on my flight it will be along haul alright, especially if all those drugs don’t knock them out. It’s my birthday so the wish I make for myself is one of quiet travel back across the Pacific. Read more

Museum of a Dusty Mind

November 9, 2010

owl-290.jpgThe National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru is a mouthful but it was worth a walk around even if almost all the explanatory panels were in Spanish. It provides a little bit of history and culture without having to leave the city. It is located in what looks like a former colonial residence. Funny how Lima seems to recycle its buildings in this way. “Let’s put our national treasures in someone’s old house”. I don’t think it is a case of not respecting their heritage. But over the years it may well be case of simply not having the funds to house them in premises that would more effectively set them off. Read more

Pigeon Sphincters Work Differently in Peru

November 4, 2010

jose290.jpgI wonder how General Jose manages to not have the squadrons of blue eyed pigeons paint him and his steed. He is thirty feet above the ground and surely a lightning rod in this vast plaza for any and every pigeon sphincter. And this is surely battlestar HQ for the world’s pigeons. Read more


November 3, 2010

lima-street290.jpgOops, some Delhi belly. Bet I picked that up from the KFC last night. Who travels this far to go to KFC? I confess, the smell wafting up the street was too much after being out for an hour to stretch my legs. Actually I was looking for a street directory. Read more

Sapphire on Black

November 2, 2010

hbird290.jpgOver the years I have tried all sorts of ways of beating jet lag and figure in the end that simply sleeping when tired is best. That of course means I slept yesterday afternoon, sat up late and got some writing done (about 3000 words), slept and was up again at 0600. I wandered down for breakfast (al fresco) at 0800 and was served a cup of coffee by a chap who had no idea what I wanted. I figured that even though it was a working day that I was up too early for these people. It is now 0900 and I see (by leaning out the window and peeking under the bougainvillea) the breakfast bar being set up so my initial assumption was not far off the mark. Read more

The Second Last Continent

November 1, 2010

cruz290.jpgWe push back at 1135. The plane is full. A three year old cries in the seat in front of me. A spoilt brat I grump to myself, who does not want to be strapped in and would rather sit in Mum’s lap. Little prat, I am ready to box his ears. Might as well give him something to cry about if he is going to try that simpering whining on.  Come travel with me kid, we’ll have you sorted in a flash. I am consoled, partly, by the exasperation of the flight attendant whose Spanish lapses into English in frustration at not just the kid but especially the indulgent parents who want to hold him in their lap. He is about to call the Capitan. Ah, this has the prospect of being a long trip.
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