Two giant, beer-swilling young physiotherapists from Melbourne. These guys were with us on the pampas trip this week, and they proved to provide us with constant entertainment. Always doing such classic Aussie things as randomly jumping in the river and going for a swim; catching small animals and insects; and not being able to fit in their boots. They also found a baby anaconda, all by themselves.
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.
We met Pascale at our guesthouse on Isla Del Sol this morning; and we ended up going back to Copacabana with her this evening, and then continuing on to La Paz with her the next day. She's a true Parisian: enjoying fine food and fine wine; somewhat blasé about the world around her; and smoking like a chimney. Likes to get up early, and likes to lounge in cafés for long periods of time.
Tony has to be the most memorable character on my trip so far. Met him at our guesthouse on Isla Del Sol this evening, watching the sun set through the lens of his colossal Sony camera. Tony's a 60-year-old Chinese guy who escaped the Cultural Revolution in China in 1970, by swimming across the sea to Hong Kong. He now lives with his wife and two kids in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he's semi-retired (runs a family restaurant). He's obsessed with trekking (and with windsurfing), and he regularly traverses the globe in search of remote romps and lonely peaks.
Sophs is a girl who vehemently claims to be a Kiwi, but who talks with as British an accent as any I've ever heard. Hence, she is a wannabe Kiwi (Christ... aren't there better things to wanna be? :P). I met her on the boat to Amantaní this morning, along with her two friends who actually are British. She's crazy in every fiber of her being, from her outrageous comments, to her endless drinking, to her flamboyant dancing. Gotta have one like her on every ride.
Stephan's a law graduate from Quebec, Canada, who's come down to Cusco to do some voluntary legal work with Hampy for a few months. As well as being a friendly guy, he's also an interesting conversationalist, and a keen and adventurous hiker. He has, on occasion, been known to drink more than he can handle, and to suffer the consequences. But generally speaking, he's pretty reliable and responsible.
Wil's been studying at Amigos with me (but not in my class) for the past two weeks; and he's also involved with the volunteer group Hampy, that I went on a little tour with today. Wil's an American from Upstate New York, and he's been travelling in South America for quite a while already, so his Spanish is quite good. He's got a girlfriend from Chile, and from the sound of things, their relationship is pretty serious. He's a quiet guy, but he's very genuine, and he's doing great work with the kids at Hampy, helping them work out how to find employment.
So the class of Amigos week 2 ended up being myself, Debra, Justina, and Dorien. Chrystal and Ricky both moved to individual lessons on Tuesday, Chrystal because she was slow and holding up the group; and Ricky because he has hearing difficulties and needs the personal voice. We learnt a lot, but I'm still desperate to learn more. And once again, next week will be a new class, with me the only old-time veteran.
Louis is a French computer science student, who's on an overseas "work placement" of sorts (the voluntary sort) at Amigos. His main task at Amigos is to build them a new web site, which he's doing using the very cool system Ruby on Rails. He hasn't got much experience with web design or development, and he hasn't been given many resources (he has his own laptop, but no Internet at Amigos!); but he's done a good job so far. He's also a juggler, a fearless drinker, and a great part of the Amigos team.