Tag Archives: Sunrise

Photograph 100 Sunrises and 100 Sunsets

This is part of my 40 Before 40 Challenge.


I’ve been getting more into photography over the last year or two – not in a serious way, just taking more care when taking photos and actively trying to look for photo opportunities. Starting this blog helped actually because I needed images to complement my weekly updates from Bolivia. And obviously visiting some incredible places has helped too!

One thing I’ve learnt is that I’m a sucker for sunrise and sunset. I often make a special effort to seek them out when I’m on holiday, getting up at stupid o’clock and even running somewhere to get a good view. I suppose it’s understandable not to do this so much at “home”, especially when you’re (typically) in a full-time working routine, but I’ve tried to do better this year.

Which brings me to my challenge: I want 100 sunrises and 100 sunsets. I’ve got 8 years (roughly 100 months) to get some good ones and I have some in the bank already – I’ll do an inventory soon and maybe set up some sort of gallery.

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Hiking in Snowdonia

I just went on my first UK hiking weekend!

Given how much I enjoy being outdoors and exploring when I’m on holiday, it’s a bit ridiculous that I haven’t done it before. I’ve trekked in the Himalayas and been on walks/hikes in several other countries (Bolivia, Peru and Brazil in the last year alone), but not in the country I’ve lived in all my life.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t literally my first hike in the UK – I was able to dust off some old walking boots that haven’t left the country (the cobwebs testify to their dormancy over the last decade or more) – but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve climbed to the top of anything in the UK.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit; the fact that it’s so common to take for granted what’s on your doorstep. I’ve noticed it all over the world, particularly with Australians, and I’ve joked about falling into the same trap when it comes to what the UK has to offer.

So I’m very grateful to my cousin Claire for inviting me to go to Snowdonia for the weekend, so I could start to put that right. She’s preparing to do the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with my Uncle Jim in October, so this was part of their training. We were also joined by another cousin, Jo, and Claire’s friend, Michelle.

The weather played a huge part in our weekend and the two days were extremely different. On Saturday we were hiking to Cadair Idris, but we hadn’t gone far when visibility started to get worse, which meant we basically spent the rest of the hike in the clouds. At the point we decided to turn back, rain was falling, the wind-chill had picked up and visibility was only about 10-20 metres as we “looked” over a cliff edge (we were supposed to bear right to get to the summit, but we weren’t to know). It wasn’t extreme weather, by any means, but bad enough to sap some of the enjoyment out of it.

Sunday, on the other hand, was perfect! Well, almost perfect! We were climbing Snowdon and the day started with a cloudless sky. It stayed bright for most of the day, apart from at the summit which became shrouded in cloud just as we were approaching. It was a good day for photos, as each part of my photo wish-list was catered for (blue sky, water and elevation) – I’ll add a couple, but you can see more of my photos HERE.

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The walking itself was good fun and everyone did really well – especially my uncle, who noticed a huge improvement since his previous hike up Snowdon just a few weeks earlier. You can see some more details of the hikes on Strava:

Saturday at Cadair Idris on Strava

Sunday at Snowdon on Strava

My biggest challenge was actually getting to Snowdonia and back from Cambridge, but I was very fortunate to be picked up and driven door to door – 8 hours each way. My friend Matt did the Cambridge to Manchester journey and my uncle did the rest – a huge thank you to both of you as well.

I wasn’t overly keen on the prospect of camping and in the end we didn’t need to. On Friday night, the five of us squeezed into a 3-man “pod” at Hendre Hall. Since we arrived late and left early the next morning, it did the job and made for a cosy night’s sleep. Saturday night we were in a bunkhouse, which had a very handy “drying room” for all our wet clothes.

I’m sure this weekend will be the first of many, so a big thank you to Claire, Jim, Jo and Michelle for making it such a good trip.

Peru, Week Four

This was probably the quietest week of my whole trip so far – partly by design – but I did include a video for you at the end.

As far as “work” goes, we switched to afternoons, but that didn’t mean we had any more to do. On Monday, I was alone in the office for most of the afternoon. Sankiyo (the colleague I’ve been paired with) didn’t come in at all, so I eventually left at 6:30pm having done nothing more than browse the internet.

On Tuesday, Jessenia took me and Sankiyo out for lunch – me, for helping her daughter with her English studies last week, and Sankiyo because he turned 40 over the weekend. We went to a chicharroneria because I said I liked chicharrón in Pisac last week.

Afterwards we went to a small local shop (run by an Arariwa client) and sat down to drink a beer. Four beers later, we headed home and that was my day’s “work”.

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With Sankiyo and Jessenia

On Wednesday I met up with Sankiyo at 2:30pm and we travelled to Urcos. We arrived at 4:20pm (for what he assured me would be an hour-long meeting – which would allow him to attend his 7pm English class), but as it turned out, we didn’t finish until about 7:30pm and I finally got home at 9:30pm. The meeting itself was a “closure”, which meant that the group were making their final payments for the loan cycle, as well as doing all the admin for the next cycle. It was quite interesting to observe but I was nothing more than a spectator.

On Thursday I visited another project, at a Young Mothers’ Centre, or Hogar (home), where Emmanuelle was volunteering.

There are ten mothers in the early/mid-teens living there with their babies. The volunteers help out wherever they can, mainly looking after the babies while the girls do other things like go to school, learn skills or just have some time for themselves. It was an eye-opener, even without knowing the stories of the individual girls.

Although I only went to pay the centre a visit, I ended up staying for a couple of hours. 

On Friday, we had planned to go back to Chinchero to make another cocina (stove), but when that was cancelled I decided to go back to the Hogar. I was there from 9am until 2pm, at which point we all had pizza because it was the last day for all three of the other volunteers.

Aside from “work”, I had two more Spanish lessons during the week – I feel like I’ve been given a lot of the tools now, it’s just a case of putting the time in to study and practice.

I had two free mornings where I’d planned to go running, but we had no water in the house so I didn’t.

On Saturday morning I went to the city centre to watch the girls from the Hogar in a parade. There seems to be one every weekend and the effort that goes into them is really impressive, particularly with the outfits.  

I had an early start on Sunday as I went out to watch sunrise above the city. It clouded over while I was waiting for the 5:20am sunrise, but I still managed to get these pictures:
In the afternoon I went to watch Cusco’s main football team, Cienciano, after seeing the game advertised here:

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Even though they’re in the second division at the moment and Real Garcilaso are in the top division, Ciencano are still the most popular side. They’re the oldest team in the country (founded as the science department of the university, hence the name, in 1901) and have won two South American trophies.

Estadio Inca Garcilaso de la Vega

The game itself was very one-sided and the away side just coming to defend – sometimes this makes for a boring spectacle but Union Huaral weren’t very good at it and Cienciano scored twice early. They could/should have scored several more goals before they finally got a third near the end – I got it on video!

In addition to the game, there were some other notable things:

We sat near the back of the west stand in front of these guys, most of whom were reporting on the match all the way through – check out the old school phone in the top right

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There was a collection for a charity that I support and that Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is a patron of: SOS Children’s Villages http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk

I couldn’t resist buying meat and potato on a stick from the food sellers in the stands

La Paz to Cusco (via Isla del Sol)

The Bolivia Hop bus picked me up at 06:30 at my hostel in La Paz with four others – Annika, an American Swede, and three English guys on a day trip. I sat next to Annika on the bus and chatted about Up Close until they put Back to the Future on!

We arrived at Copacabana, which is on the shore of Lake Titicaca (the world’s highest navigable lake) just before midday. That gave us time to grab some lunch and see the derby highlights before catching the boat over to Isla del Sol.

Copacabana from the boat

The boat trip was a breezy 75 minutes (which only gave the English daytrippers just an hour on the island before making the five hour journey back to La Paz!) and dropped us with our bags at the bottom of a very steep hill.

Annika and I had been chatting to a Dutch couple and we found a good hostel for 30Bs (£3) each. After soaking up a bit of sun, the four of us went in search of food and drink. We had a bite to eat at our first stop before continuing up to the crest of the hill where we found a fantastic mirador for the sunset.


I had the local speciality trucha for dinner, which was also amazing – I should get fish more often.

For various reasons we were all really tired, so we got an early night with an eye on seeing sunrise in the morning.

On Sunday morning, I was up and awake well ahead of the 6:40am sunrise and it didn’t disappoint:


Breakfast lived up to the previous night’s fare and gave us the energy to embark on a trek across the island.

Donkeys everywhere on Isla del Sol

Maikel, me, Annika & Gina

After about 14km around the island, Annika and I were back at the main harbour for the 3:30pm boat back to Copacabana. From there, our bus was waiting to take us into Peru.

Everything went smoothly at the border crossing and we were soon on our way. The plan was to travel for about three hours and then stop at a restaurant in Puno for dinner, but the guide explained that wouldn’t be possible. This was because there were some planned strikes that would be affecting the roads from midnight, so we couldn’t afford to stop in case we got caught by them. This meant getting to Cusco early (the normal ETA is 6am, which is when I was being met at the bus station), rather than getting held up until 3-4pm by the blockades. I was pretty impressed that they managed to arrange a pizza delivery to the bus, so we still got fed without stopping.

In the end we arrived in Cusco at 2:30am. The bus company arranged taxis for everyone, so I went to a hostel to steal some wifi and wait until a slightly more respectable time to go to the bus station for my scheduled pick-up.

All that means that I’m about to start the next part of my journey. I’ll be moving into my homestay home, finding out more about my new volunteering project at Asociación Arariwa and discovering what it’s like to live in a South American city.