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Sunday May 06 2007

I have had a busy few weeks since I was last in touch. I did a couple more days of volunteer work in Cusco. I absolutely fell in love with the kids and it was heartbreaking to hear about how tough their lives were. The little fella who greets me every morning with a hug is apparently physically abused at home.  At the weekends they get very little food. There aren´t many kind words at home so no wonder they are so well behaved at school. As they get older they seem to lose some of their spirit; life taking it out of them I suppose. I was so impressed with the teacher. He was so patient and loving towards the children. He also gave a lot of background information about the kids.
View from Loki hostel bar, Cusco.
I had a really funny experience in Cusco on a night out. I had my little wallet in my jeans pocket but it was peaking out slightly. However I had nothing in it except my cash for that night. We walked through an area that lots of people were milling around at 2.30am. Next thing I felt that I wallet was missing! (I felt it immediately). I went up to the guy who had taken it as he had made no attempt to flee the area and said 'Give me back my wallet'!. So he takes it out of his pocket, along with a pack of  Skittles sweets  and offers both of them to me! I really don't understand what that was all about but he did kindly give me the wallet back!!! Who ever heard of someone getting their pickpocketed wallet back!!! After that he stayed in the general area, standing only about 10m away from me for ages!
Steph and I in Colca Canyon, Peru
After this Steph and I took a trip to Colca Canyon, which is the World's Deepest Canyon, except that it isn't! (The deepest one is a couple of valley's over, but lets not get pedantic!) The whole trip was fantastic - both nights we stayed in places with no electricity, which was pretty enjoyable.
18th Century church in Colca Canyon.
The canyon was breathtaking but my favourite part of the trip was the night hike. We got up at 2.30am  to trek up the side of the canyon in order to be in time to go condor watching. (They only appear early in the morning). It was pretty magical to walk at night. I was a bit worried about it as there are significant drops from the narrow path but in the end it was amazing - the moon was so bright we didn`t need to use our torches! We had the most stunning view of the canyon and surrounding mountains. We did have a a glass of wine on my birthday to celebrate and Steph bought me a beautiful scarf. So I didn`t feel alone on a day that I always spend with my family.

I returned to Cusco to meet Linds and Keith, which was just fantastic. We hadn't seen each other for almost 6 months, when she left to go on her travels. We had a lovely few days just hanging out in the town, which is defintely the best place in Sth America for it! Great food, nightlife, places to stay. Because I didn't book the Inca Trail before I left home, there was 3 week lapse between booking and starting the walk. It was a great place for it; I had a lot of fun there, made some great friends and did lots of different things.
The Inca Trail Group

The Inca trail turned out to be justfantastic, definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far. It would have been just such a bummer to have waited around so long and not to have had a great time. The group was brilliant, so much fun.
Jenn and I

I shared a tent with a really lovely American girl called Jen. She is so much fun and a little bit nuts. She is a teacher in a private school and is working in Peru for 5 weeks. She was there in advance preparing a 3 week trip for her students who were to arrive shortly afterwards. Imagine that type of experience, as a 15 year old! The weather was mixed but fabulous when we were at Machu Picchu, which was just as amazing as I had hoped. Really magical.
The Classic Machu Picchu photo

I was also the fastest walker everyday! It was very strange, I don`t know why. The most difficult part of the walk was over Dead Woman`s Pass at 4300m. Everyone else did it in 3 hours and I did it in 1 hr 35 mins. I was the first person there in the morning other than the porters. (Hundreds do it every day). How bizarre! I was first everyday, other than when we were walking in areas that had drops. I think it was a strange convergence of different factors that might never be repeated in my lifetime!!!

The other thing I did that I was really pleased with was walking up Wanyapicchu, which is the high mountain behind Machu Picchu. There are a lot of drops and the steps aren`t great. Anyway I had no intention of going up, just going to the bottom and taking a look. I ended going up 90% of the way. At that point it got very difficult and we also ran out of time (we had to run to catch our bus). I would have loved to have finished it though.
After Cusco I moved onto Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca. It is the 2nd highest mountain range in the world (and it really is this time!) after a section of the Himalayas. Have you seen / read 'Touching the Void"" This is where it is set.
I can't remember what the name of this mountain was but it was spectacular!

I did another 4 day trek which was sort of hard-going doing it the week after the Inca Trail. I was quite happy when it was finished! Whilst the scenery was really beautiful, I just didn`t seem to gel with the group that well. It just seemed that they would contradict EVERYTHING I said.
One of the many beautiful wildflowers on the trek.
 However the best thing about the trek was seeing some of the peaks by moonlight and also doing my highest trekking yet -going through a mountain pass at 4750m.
Me at Punta Union Pass
Right now I am in Equador. It is so funny that I am running out of time! I am going to the Galapagos islands which will be extremely expensive. It is unlikely that I will get to go again so I should just bite the bullet. It will be the last thing I do before I start my journey home.
I have arranged the most interesting volunteer work for myself! I am going to be developing chocolate bar recipes for a fair trade chocolate co-operative called Kallari! I met a girl, Lily, in the bar of my hostel in Cusco and got chatting. She was so excited that I was a food technologist! I have never worked with chocolate; I only have an idea how to handle it from cooking!!! However that has not been a problem at all with the work we have done so far. Lily is really nice and lots of fun. I am staying the apartment she lives in, along with about 8 other volunteers connected with the co-operative. Its quite an interesting environment. There is so much ideas floating around and lots of chat. However Lily has said that they are great at sitting around chatting but often very little gets done! I am good at getting things done. I am focused on the task as I only have time to be there for a about 10 days. I am helping develop a recipe for a Chilli Cinnamon Chocolate bar. We spent most of yesterday working on a recipe for a Chilli Cinnamon Hot Chocolate. I think we cracked it, it was just gorgeous!
Lily and I hit the town in Quito last night. It seems that Salsa is absolutely enormous in this country! We went to a Salsa bar and saw some fantastic dancing there. The unfortunate thing about these places is that you get asked to dance. Now normally this would not be a problem but I can't Salsa to save my life! God the first time I danced it was a truly awful experience!! I really felt sorry for the guy I danced with. I also could not understand why I kept getting asked to dance, especially when it was so obvious how bad I was. I eventually realised that every club needs someone like me, cos without me, who else would the other really bad dancers dance with!!! I was barely off the dancefloor for the night so obviously most local girls are too good for their own good!
Yesterday we took a trip to the Equator, which is only 30 mins from Quito. We had lots of fun, even though it is really just a touristy thing to do!
Me at the Real Equator
 Next on the cards is a trip to Limoncocha, with the other volunteers from Kallari. This isn't work, it is purely to see wildlife. The main woman in the organisation, Judy, is a biologist so will be acting as our guide. It sounds really exciting as it will be cheap, we get to go to places that are off the tourist trail and will be spending time in proper jungle communities. Sleeping on the floor! Also the group going are great and we should have lots of fun. After that we are going to the place where the cacao is harvested and the chocolate is manufactured. The nerd in me is really looking forward to this!!
Anyway folks. It is unlikely that I will be sending a blog before I get home on Friday 1st June! I am sooo looking forward to meeting up with everyone and just being at home! Maybe I have lost my restlessness; I will have to wait and see. I am also home for the summer; I have decided it is not a good time to go to Africa. It will still be there if I want to go another time.

Lynda's Big Adventure 1
posted 06 May 2007

You have 24 comments!
lynda corcoran on 02 Nov 2008
Hi Lynda,Have a nice day from Joliette (Quebec) Canada
Biba on 31 Mar 2008
I just googled my friend Tulio Picinini who I have lost contact with, and your travelblog came up, so I hoped you will send me his e-mail adress.
Lynda Corcoran on 20 Jan 2008
Hi Lynda,Your web is wonderful and amazing for me, I explain you why. My name is Lynda Corcoran and I'm leaving now in Joliette (in Quebec Province, Canada) and working in Musée d'art de Joliette as Registrar, what's a surprise for me to see your website! Hope you enjoy it like me. My middle name is Nelly. Bye
Lynda Corcoran on 01 Oct 2007
Hi Lynda Corcoran WOW girlie what a trip,I was having a fiddle on the internet and googled my name which is the same as yours gee whiz I would of traded me for you for a while!I live in USA though I am a Brit.USA is where I ended up Was fun reading your blog and looking at your pics.lynda Corcoran (hey whats your middle name?)

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