After almost two months of travelling together, eating together, freezing together, drinking together, endeavouring to find women together, and stinking together, the time has finally come for Chris and I to say goodbye, and to once again go our separate ways. Through Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and Peru once again, Chris has been an amazing travelling companion, as well as an amazing friend. Tonight, I leave Lima by bus for Huaraz; Chris, on the other hand, is flying to Bogota, Colombia, in two days' time. So — for the first time in quite a long time, now that I think about it — I'm once again all alone, and on the road in a strange and exotic faraway country.
So many farewells these days; ah, mais c'est la vie, such is the life of a traveller. This afternoon, Chris and I caught a bus north, from Iquique to Arica; while Leila and Christina, our fine, female, central European travelling companions for the past week, caught a different bus south, to Antofagasta. It's sad to see them go; although I must say, their crazy German ways (e.g. saying "Schultz" after burping — anyone who forgets to say this is liable to be slapped on the head), and their obsession with the card game Yaniv, were getting a bit much. Can't really say I'll miss Iquique, however; as we didn't really do much there, and as there ain't much there to miss, truth be told.
We got up early to see a geyser erupting into the sunrise this morning and then we only had to endure the cold for another five minutes. Before we knew it, our Salar de Uyuni tour group had arrived at the most fabulous hot-spring-heated thermal bath ever! The air was absolutely freezing this morning. This made it only all the more unbelievably pleasurable to jump into a pool of app. 42°C hot water (also a bit painful, at first). Followed by a delicious breakfast of pancakes, and a visit to the Laguna Verde itself. Great end to a fabulous three-day tour.
Today was the last day of our trip to the Madidi jungle, as well as our last day here in Rurrenabaque. After our final jungle romp this morning, and a big hearty lunch, we packed up our stuff and left our jungle campsite. We had to walk back from the campsite to the big river (another stream wade involved), and then it was another three-hour boat ride, back down the river to Rurrenabaque. When we got back, we cleaned ourselves up, relaxed in some hammocks, and then celebrated in the evening, with pizza and cocktails!
I said I'd do it, and I did it: as of 4am, Monday morning, the Hampy web site is complete! After losing all of today to our visit of the Moray ruins and of the Salinas, I knew that it would take nothing less than an all-night coding marathon to get the site finished, launched, and 100% wrapped up, in time for leaving Cusco tomorrow. But it's done. And now I'm free. And the site looks good. And I'm feeling very happy.
To say farewell and thank-you to me, for all my work on the Hampy web site, Jorge ordered in an absolutely massive pizza tonight; and myself, Jorge, Ashley, and Stephan managed to team up and devour it at the Hampy office. Half chicken, half pepperoni. And a superb bottle of Argentinean Mendoza red wine to go with it. Couldn't ask for a better way to finish up my time with Hampy, and with Cusco.
After yet another day spent madly trying to finish the Hampy web site, this evening I went once again to the village of Chocco, to help celebrate Terese's despedida (lit: "farewell party"). Terese has been teaching English in Chocco (with Hampy) for the past two months or so (as well as partying and drinking like crazy every single night in Cusco, like a good Irish girl should); but now, she's finally finishing up and going back home. She will be sorely missed.
After four very quick and very memorable weeks with them, today I finally said goodbye to the Polar Covarrubias family, and "moved out of home". Lunch today was my last meal with the family, and it was a bit sad to have to say farewell to them; but it was also a relief to be ending my routine and getting-a-bit-too-comfortable life with them, and preparing to get back on the road again. They've been the best host family I could have asked for: after my time with them, I feel like I've gained a second family, for life. I know I'll always be welcome at their house in the future.
This morning, I had my final three hours of class at Amigos. So, after four intense and incredibly quick weeks, my Spanish classes have come to an end. I've had an amazing time at Amigos, I've made lots of really good friends, and my Spanish has improved tremendously. During the past week, I've had one-on-one classes with Merly, and we've covered heaps of ground in the various types of past tense (in particular). My new found knowledge in this area, and in general all-round vocabulary, has really empowered me to speak a lot more confidently and a lot more fluently.
Wil and Monica, two of the students that have been with me at Amigos these past two weeks, are leaving Cusco tomorrow. As such, tonight we held a little farewell get-together for them, over at Jesus's house. We had a good turnout for the farewell — of students, staff, and friends of the school — and it was a fun night of talking, reminiscing, and beveraging. Wil and Monica have both been great friends to me during their time here, and I know I'm not the only one that's going to miss them.