Andrea's a half-Macedonian, half-Dutch young Aussie girl, who comes from a place just down the road from me in Sydney: Mona Vale. She's been travelling round the world since the age of 17, she has a degree in film production, and she speaks a bit of Hebrew (because she had an Israeli boyfriend, and she visited Israel for a few weeks). I met her down in Rurrenabaque, and ended up doing three days of action-packed pampas touring with her.
Ralph's a retired primary school teacher, who — when he's not hiking in exotic locations around the world, such as Nepal — enjoys living a quiet life on his hobby farm in north-western Tasmania. Met him on Isla Del Sol this morning, on our hike to the northern end of the island; and ended up chatting to him a fair bit about life and travel. Real character, and an incredibly warm guy.
Jacinta is a wild and crazy girl (in her early 30s) from the dear town of Bendigo, Australia. I met her tonight at Jesus's birthday party; she's known Jesus for about 7 years, since she first came to Cusco and got taught Spanish by him. In her time, she's worked as a ceramics maker and as an international tour guide (among other things). But now, she's having a break from all that, and she's returned to Cusco to help out with whatever she can at Amigos. Oh, and did I mention that her singing and dancing gets more out of control with each beer she consumes?
After getting lost yesterday, Jack and I woke up this morning in Juan's house, feeling very grateful to have found a bed to sleep in, but also very eager to get back to Cusco. And, thankfully, after a bit of breakfast and a morning walk, make it back we did. Civilisation never smelt so good.
Of all the faces from back home, Mitchell's was about the last I expected to see. I've known Mitchell for literally my entire life: he was born one day before me, in the hospital bed next to mine. And tonight, 21 years later, I bumped into him in the bar at Loki, here in Cusco. Actually, it was he that recognised me. Anyway, he's almost at the end of his trip: he's already been here for a while, and he was in Europe and North America for a while too; and soon he's going back home.
Jack and I met each other briefly at Loki last week, and then we both went on a hike (on different ones) to Machu Picchu. Now, we're both back. By amazing coincidence, we're also both away for roughly the same 12-month period, we both have similar trip plans (or lack thereof), and we both get along really well. I've been hanging out with Jack this weekend, post-Salkantay; and I'm sure it's not the last time we'll see each other on this trip. Because Jack's a champion.
I met Athena up at Grouse today. We happened to both be hiring skis at the same time, and then we kept bumping into each other on the slopes all day, and doing a few runs together now and then. Athena's orignally from Melbourne, but she spends most of her time these days working on an organic veggie farm in California. Yep, that's right, folks: she's a major hippie (she has an impressive head of dreads, too). Today was her first time skiing in 12 years, but she said that when she was little, she used to go to Mt Bullah (in Victoria, Australia) all the time.
What can I say, the guy's a true blue Aussie champion. This is what being an Australian and going to Mexico is all about. Check out the video.
This afternoon at Posada Mexico Hostel in San Cristóbal, we were a crew of six yobboes from around the world, united together to lay waste to the cultural soul of this town. We were: myself; Sean and Lachlan, two more Aussie boys, from Melbourne; two heavy-drinking Scottish girls, whose names I can't remember (hey, I was drinking heavily as well!); and a hippie girl from Baltimore, USA, who had a massive tattoo on her back. Together we sat on the grass, ate BBQ chicken, drank beer and tequila, and wore colourful Mexican wrestling masks. Good times.
This Aussie couple happened to be in Palenque at the same time as me, and along with Alan, I wound up spending some time in the jungle with them. They've both been everywhere, sometimes together, sometimes alone. They're both willing to try really crazy things; but Tara's really funny, because she just naturally looks a lot more sensible and careful than she is. They're also both from Sydney.