Sunday, 4 December 2011

Travelling through South America

Lyn and I decide to leave San Francisco in September '67 for South America, our plan was to be in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival the following February and then board a tramp steamer across the Indian Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa. I had secured diplomatic visas for most countries to be travelled Lyn being a US citizen did not require visas in most of the countries.

Tony on his way to the consulate in Cartagena, hence tie and jacket - we were advised to dress to a standard as the locals did not respect westerners (gringoes) who looked like hippies

After a big farewell in our house in Fillmore we flew to Miami and then to Caracas in Venezuela  where we stayed overnight and then flew into Cartagena in Columbia. We had friends to stay with who showed us around the old city and the major fortifications built to withstand the raids of pirates back in the fifteen hundreds. 

Cartagena is very tropical on the Caribbean Sea with Spanish/Italian Colonial architecture, narrow cobble stoned streets, arched loggias and whitewashed buildings. From here we travelled to Santa Marta a coastal resort and then to Barranquilla which was mosquito infested and uninteresting and then to Bogata the Colombian Capital.

Friends we stayed with in Cartagena

We met with some young Australian Lawyers who were in Bogata for a conference and through them several Colombian Lawyers, who provided important information, as our travelling intention was to bus through the Tolima region into Quito, Ecuador. On their advice  we hired a small plane to fly us to Quito as we were told that -' that area was the stronghold of guerrilla forces who had a month before machine gunned down a busload of tourists'.

The Aerotaxi we hired to fly over the trouble spots in Colombia

The train ride from Quito to Guayaquil, on the Pacific Coast, was one of the most spectacular train rides I have ever been on, through the Andes passing Mount Cotopaxi one of the highest volcanoes in the world at over 19,000 ft, the highest point the railway reaches is 11,000 feet with many switchbacks. 

The The Guayaquil to Quito Railway (G&Q) total length is nearly 1000 kilometres all single track, due to general neglect major sections are now inoperative.

From Guayaquil we bussed down the coast of Peru to Lima where we met with Graham and Monique Curtis, an English friend married to a Peruvian

A local bar in Quito and customers, a far cry from Perry's in San francisco

We stayed with them for three days, at one interesting lunch we met Juan Prado, whose father was the President of Peru in 1962. I had  noticed him during the lunch, as he was receiving a lot of attention from the staff of the restaurant, and he was also in the company of a stunning looking lady who turned out to be his wife. 

I asked Graham who was he, and he explained who his father was and that we would be joining him for coffee and dessert later. 

Which we did and we got on excellently, he was charming, attractive, young about 20, with a sliver scar down his cheek, which added to his looks and as he told later,because I asked 'how did you get the scar' as I thought it may have been from a knife fight, he said ' it  was from a duel'. He especially liked Lyn who was fluent in Spanish as a lot of Californians are. He ordered for the four of us, a speciality of the house dessert, called 'Passion of the Angels'- it was like a passion fruit mouse meringue which, as soon as it hit the palate just melted in the mouth, tasting sensational.

We were asked to stay longer, but declined, as we wanted to get moving as, what was ahead was some of the most interesting parts of South America so we departed for Cusco and  Machu Pichu  by bus.

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