Tasting the Rainbow | Vinicunca

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Vinicunca, better known as Rainbow Mountain at 5200m above sea level is the highest altitude I've been. Given this I knew that, the trek and subsequent altitude sickness I would feel would be no walk in the park. Setting off at 3am we drove for several hours to a small town near the mountains trail head where we had a measly yet what's seems to be traditional South American breakfast of pancakes and coca tea. Continuing through a windy but breathtaking canyon the famed Ausangate mountain came into view, I had chosen to do a one day trek to Vinicunca, the alternate is a 2 or 4 day trek known as The Ausangate, named after the mountain that towers over the area. Whilst the multidays help you acclimatise to the high altitude a little better, I and many others felt one day at such height was enough and didn't fancy the notoriously difficult multiday trek to Vinicunca.

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Sucre the Silent Capital

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Sucre, the little known judicial and therefore official capital of Bolivia is a lovely town, with its many churches, whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs, it certainly has a European feel and was a lovely place to pass a few days. In addition to being the official capital of Bolivia, it is also where the Bolivian independence act was signed. The location, Casa de la Liberdad is now a museum that and open daily; the museums offers guided tours in both Spanish and English. The tour itself is pretty overloaded with Bolivian history and I struggled to take it all in never mind keep up. Sneaking away halfway through I enjoyed the building more than the artefacts. Although lower than Potosí, Sucre is still surrounded and formed of towering hills and high above the town sits a statue of Christo, with a Halo that lights up at night he can be seen from far and wide and the sight offers great views of the city. Make sure to take your time on the way up, the winding road passes the stations of the cross took my breath away.

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Why is time what we want most and use worst?

We’ve all had those days when time doesn’t have any existence. When you’re fully immersed in a moment, loosing track of the minutes and hours without any care of how much time you have left. Though time is hard to receive, how can time feel so unpredictable, feel so different, deepening on who you are and where you are?

Our past and future moments are real where as the present is a psychological illusion as it simply does not exist. When we say ‘time goes too fast’ what we’re really thinking about is the time that has already gone. We can slow down this time by living in the moment free of worry, pressure and day dreams. You’re only wasting your life if you’re too distracted to experience it.

If there was a wall between yesterday and tomorrow, all those moments in time are placed either side into the past or future. Don’t wait for your actual life to kick in, yet on the other hand don’t ignore it either.

“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price” — Kahlil Gibran

What is now?

Is now an idea that physics treat as a mere illusion, or is it something we are all too familiar with. We tend to automatically relate it to a current instant, a moment with no duration. Time is not out there, and now is a strange trick of the mind. Take a moment and think about what it would be like if now was timeless. Would we experience a succession of nows as time passes. Although we wouldn’t be able to perceived things like motion nor operate in a world if the present has no duration, the great thing is that with focus and perseverance you can live in the moment for much longer.

Now is quite a uneasy concept when you really think about it. Nevertheless, it would be great to discover the why’s and how’s of ‘now’ as it could tell us something about the larger picture of how our brain actual records time and also the perception of the present. The present is crucial to how we experience the world and simultaneous events that appear within it.

According to the neuroscientists and psychologists, the now that we are aware of through our brain registering the experience, lasts on average between 2 and 3 seconds long. So this is actually surprisingly quite long but evidence also show that the now you experience is constructed by a collection of sub conscious ‘nows’ and it is your brain chooses what events are your ‘nows’. Crazy hey. This is all down to different parts of our brain measuring now in different ways.

“I doubt there’s something sad about thinking that the life you’re living right now is a place holder, something to tide you over until your real life begins.’ - Jon Westenberg

How much have you changed in the last 10 years?

Younger generations are so orientated around future plans, moving forward and wondering what the rest of their lives are going to be like. As we’re smack bang in our mid twenties guess we’re apart of this generations, and do hold our hands up honestly for day dreaming about future plans. Without my Muji planner I always threat that I wouldn’t know I am doing. Maybe it would be a good thing if I ‘accident’ threw it into a river one day.

As a child an hour would feel as though it was taking forever, the summer holidays were never ending with the excitement of actually wanting to get back into a familiar school routine. The more life experience we gather on our journey into the unknown, the feeling of time speeding up is stronger. All generations experience time the same yet the only difference is that they remember it differently. There is a lot more recoding in an adults mind compared to a child’s.

“When you’re young, you always feel that life hasn’t yet begun - that ‘life’ is always scheduled to begin next week, next month, next year, after the holidays - whenever. But then suddenly you’re old and the scheduled life didn’t arrive. You find yourself asking, ‘Well then, exactly what was it I was doing - that interlude - the scramble madness - all that time I had before?” - Jon Westenberg

What are you looking for?

We follow a lot of structure and choice in our everyday lives. Its suffocating. If decided every Monday was the day to celebrate the world being awake again then we can work, get shit done and enjoy what we’re doing. Society has forced us into celebrating Fridays and hating Mondays when really it should be the other way around. When you love what you do Monday to Friday then it’s a sad feeling when the week draws to an end as it takes us away from something we love doing. The work/life balance concept needs to be shaken up too, because calling it a balance implies that one of the two is a negative and needs to balanced out with the other. Work and life aren’t separate, they are the same, its called life. Work should be apart of your life not competing against it.

Time is your most valuable resource so stop chasing with your closed as it really doesn’t mater what you do. But when you do do it, do it with full attention and you will find that you’re not wasting time. Life is full of goals that are worth finishing and eliminate the rest. It doesn’t matter how long your goal will take, just get started. Our most important goals are the little ones we achieve in between.

Did I jus leave the ‘real’ world or did I just enter it?

Also published on Medium

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Witches, Walking Tours and Wonder in La Paz

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La Paz, the better known and unofficial capital of Bolivia is a sight for sore eyes, some love it, some hate it, I found myself somewhere in the middle. Arriving off a night bus from Sucre I was wary of both the bus station and the taxi having heard bad things about both, I opted to walk the short distance to my hostel, The Adventure Brew House, a giant building just minutes from the bus station and not much further from many of the cities main attractions. With a few hours before I could get into my room one of the hostel staff suggested checking out the 'antiques market' at the top of the nearest gondola to the hostel. The journey up to the El Alto area of La Paz gave a real example of quite how big and sprawling the city is. Unfinished red brick houses reach from the valley floor as high as they can go without tumbling down on themselves. The scenes are reminiscent of the sprawling favelas I saw in Rio, yet here, this is reality rather than a poverty stricken area of the city.

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Snow, Summits and Salt | My Salar de Uyuni Tour

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Bundling into a transfer bus early on the first day I met the rest of my group and headed first for the Chilean and then Bolivian border where we would meet our 4x4 driver and car for the next three days. Ascending from San Pedro's 2400m to the border with Bolivia I'm not sure what the increase in altitude was but effects began to become evident. I was lucky in that at this point I only felt breathless which was to be expected. After being stamped into Bolivia our driver set up a picnic breakfast we could eat whilst waiting for our 4x4. After filling ourselves up with tea, juice, avocado and salami sandwiches and cake we met our driver for the next three days Edwin, and set off on what I was sure would be a breathtaking adventure.

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The Driest Place of Earth – San Pedro de Atacama

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Flying from Santiago to Calama and then hopping a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, initially I viewed the town and a launchpad to Bolivia and a Salt Flats Tour. Indeed the town does offer exactly this but what I realised upon arrival that it is also a destination in its own right. From the mind blowing scenery that surrounds the town to its history; I found myself surprised and awed by what was on offer. With San Pedro being the start point for Bolivian Salt Flats tours I spent my first morning wandering round the town and varying travel agencies trying to ascertain who was offering the best deal and when I wanted to depart. With tours leaving daily it seemed it was simply a matter of which agency I felt comfiest with, taking on onboard a mixture of firsthand and trip advisor reviews I settled with the company Green and White as they offered an early start on the final day meaning we would see the sunrise over the Salt Flats. After making is decision I was able to kick back and enjoy my time in the town. Named after the Atacama desert which sits just outside town and heralded as the driest place in earth, it was typical that I arrived just in time for the 15mm of rain the area receives each year. This however, didn't dampen spirits and in my first afternoon I joined a tour to Vallee de la Luna or Moon Valley.

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A Weekend in the Wineries | Mendoza

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Arriving in Mendoza, all I knew about the town at the foothills of the Andes was that it made good wine. Spending my first day exploring said wineries or bodegas, as they are known here by bicycle, I may still have a way to go with my wine knowledge and tasting skills but I can vouch for the fact they certainly do know their wine! To visit the wineries you catch a bus or taxi out of town and then hire a bike from one of the many rental places in the area. I had been recommended the famed Mr Hugo's bike rental shop and had an inkling I was onto something good when all I had to say to the bus driver was 'Mr Hugo' for him to understand exactly where I was headed. With it being a Saturday, and most of the wineries closed the next day I set off to explore fresh from my night bus from Bariloche hoping, that either en route or once I'd picked up a bike I'd meet some fellow wine 'connoisseurs' to spend the day with.

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Parque Nacional los Glaciares

El Chaltén, the outdoor ‘mecca’ of Patagonia

Stopping for two nights in the town of El Calafate, my objective alike nearly everyone else passing through the town was a visit to the famed Perito Moreno Glacier. At 5km in width where its calving edge meets the Peninsula de Magallanes and around 50–70m in height it’s sheer scale is breath taking. Unlike most of the glaciers in Patagonia, or indeed the world, Perito Moreno is advancing rather than retreating and is said to move up to 2m per day.

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I want to be a Pirate!

Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

 — Apple Ad 1997 refering to the misfit economy

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One month on the road

Why travelling alone is the hardest thing I’ve ever done

I’ve had this post or the bones of it in my mind for a while but writing it has proved harder than any other I’ve written. In the last year as one half of Creative by Trade I started blogging, writing everything and anything about things that either troubled or intrigued me. It’s been an eye opening process I’ve learnt that if the subject is something I’m passionate about the words come easily. Often the subject is informed by something I have experienced but is not always directly related. This post is different. This is a combination of the post I wanted to write about my pre-travel nerves, and the experiences and emotions I have encountered in the last month whilst exploring South America.

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