Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nigeria











I looked up a few books stores to try and find a guide book about this country – and nothing. I must admit though I didn’t check out if there was a section in the Africa books. However country books were mainly for South Africa and Kenya.

Coming from Sydney from my brothers wedding weekend it was my seventh long haul flight in around 6 weeks – I was tired but am getting use to airports and long haul flights and I found myself mouthing the emergency exit demonstration. The flight was not very nice – we seemed to go through a storm – it was pretty spectacular until we hit a huge air pockets and it turned into a carnival ride when people sneak on food and drinks.

Getting onto the flight to Lagos at my transit point of Dubai, two things were apparent, the Nigerians travel in numbers and love duty free…The cabins were overflowed with duty free bags, and I was confused as to who knew which bag was whose.

Landing in a new country I find exciting – always. The start to the journey was me entering immigration with no orderly line, exhausted and hot.  I made fantastic time swiftly through the most unusual experience of immigration and finding my luggage by standing on a crate.

My security team meet me at baggage, and collecting my bag I went forth into Nigeria. I felt a little like a diplomat being driven off in a huge van with tinted windows and another truck following me with armed guards. In with me were two bodyguards…and away we went. This was one of my first major projects, and first time in Sub Sahara.  I didn't know what to expect, but the travel is certainly different from the days of having a backpack strapped to my back and being more self sufficient.

Lagos is a very interesting place. From the air the first thing you notice is loads of yellow vans. I found out these are used as taxis and hold an impressive number of people given they are filled and some hang out of windows and have doors open to fit a couple more people where they stand on the rim and hold onto the roof as the van screams down a roadway. There are not many made roads, the large one are main arteries going from airport to towns and sections of the mainland onto various islands of the coast which is where I ended in Ikoyi.

Going over the bridge into Ikoyi there are shacks that are built over the water. Loads of people on the roads hanging out, or walking somewhere, selling something from bottles to cards to tyres, food, water handiwork. The people here are very elegant looking. They walk tall and straight. They carry items on their heads without effort. They are beautiful looking people with eyes that look like they a million thoughts behind them.

We have what I’ve nicknamed a barge car. It is a smaller second car that follows us. It is a security concern to be stationed for too long, given robbery is quiet rife a stationed car with a bunch of ex pats is a huge target. So this second car will barge through traffic if it gets too thick and makes a pathway for us. I still get a little confused as to how this doesn’t annoy the local people off to a high degree. The traffic is chaotic but has its orderly fashion. To give you an example we want to turn left (rules are American side driving) so we need to cross over traffic. Our barge car will edge into oncoming traffic and then just stop there so we have a clear path to cross.

The use of insect repellent is required especially at nights when the mosquitoes are out. Malaria is quiet active here, so I look at it like my new perfume. I apply it in the morning and top it up at nights. I have found another use for it as well, to use it like you would smelling salts. It has come in handy at keeping me awake purely from the smell when I hit my walls from jet lag!

I found out during my security briefing when arriving on my first day that Ecuador has the same security risks as a country as Nigeria. I was a bit confused – Ecuador has its own guidebook in stores.









Cape Town











I ventured into my first town in the southern countries of Africa. Cape Town what a wonderful place. A little fact that reclaimed land (that being they pumped sand from the ocean to create land) makes up most of city section of Cape Town.



I travelled on my own here for a work project. The first night I went into the Waterfront which was pretty touristic but had some lovely restaurants. I was on my own, and so they put me in the best seat of the house over looking the waster, and one of the waiters would come and keep me company - how lovely.



We had one of the operations guys down from Gabon who had spent many a night in Cape Town being the remotes business center so to speak. He knew the owner of the Manor I stayed in, and from the second or third night, we started off listening to the owners stories, being a well travelled man born in Canada, raised in Brasil, working in Russia in the likes of oil industries, hedge funds and then giving up that life when he met his current wife. Quiet a cute couple that had two children and made a life for themselves in Cape Town.



Cape Town is beautiful, the Townships were different from any city I have been to. People tended to be more proud of the space that they lived in, and they were cleaner, but also I noticed there was running water and electricity which must have made the clean up easier. The government had been putting some investment into these areas. However as most developing cities the slums are always just after the airport and are the first and last thing you see.



I took some time out from work during the couple of weeks I was there, and did a hike from Cape Point to Cape of Good Hope. I was lucky that the whale season was still very active, and I saw a number of whales just off the coast, they are mesmerising. I also was intrigued by the Baboons. They are not very happy looking, and most of the time tend to be rumaging through someones garbage or kitchen for food.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Oh my what style you have





The pictures of the daytrip was my introduction to the Argentinian country. The place we visited was the family farm of Nadie (the girl second of the right in the picture above) in an area of the town called Rojas. I was packed off into a car with porteƱos drinking mate for around 3 hours. I have a taste for mate these days but it really makes you want to go to the bathroom - a lot, and the bathrooms were few and far in between during our drive.

The intention of the trip was for the guys to do some filming of a multimedia background for a dance production (coming to England!!!). It is always interesting to me to watch filiming. In particular how someone has an eye for the perfect shot or will see some detail that I know my eye would not pick up. 

An important lesson learnt on this trip was the common ground shared between the Antipodeans and Latinos of a good song which must be played over and over. Inclusive of air musicians and loud singing.

The country is beautiful and made me a little nostalgic given it was very much like Australian landscape. I was in slight envy given that these guys were working. What a great job. After our long day, well my long day of peeping around big toys and beautiful landscapes, we stopped off into town for a beer and made our way back into Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Machu Picchu and Cusco II






There is a very good reason why Machu Picchu was awarded one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Many people I know have been to MP either via the Inca Trail or the train and walk up to the site. It is spectacular. We spent the night before in Auga Calientes a small village at the base of the mountain, and then made our way up early the following morning. You cannot spend less than a full day in MP, there is so much to see and do. This place feels like you are on top on the world, it is so steep, and when you have a narrow path to walk on and a sheer drop it is not for the faint hearted.  We both then spent the day rummaging around the ruins.

We made out way from from Cusco to Lima via bus which is also not for the nervous person. It resembled a rollercoaster ride with loads of unmade sections. One of the drivers thought he was a in the formula one, we managed to distract ourselves by taking silly videos of pretending to pan pipe on little pipes Fanny had purchases to the music on the bus.  It still makes me laugh - but I was glad that bus ride was over.

We took a flight back to Argentina, and settled back into the city.

Machu Picchu and Cusco I






Arequipa II





After much deliberation of our choice of route we decided to head from Lima to Arequipa.

We caught a bus for 14 hours to Arequipa. The first photo uploaded on the first Arequipa section is a picture of what we drove through, which is pretty barron, and is an extension of the Atacama desert.

We met a couple of friends that Fanny had travelled with previously and we decided to head on a two day trip with them to Colca Canyon, one of the world deepest caynons. 

Arequipa