Our intrepid traveller
Chris Lockwood world wanderer
Chris Lockwood world wanderer over the years has been given many names, The claw & Dr Evil are two of the most popular, “Chick Magnet not quite as much. 🙂
An accomplished cricketer in his younger days in Sydney he was opening bat in a team captained by Tony Greig. After taking a spectacular slips catch off Greig’s bowling Tony shouted his praise but couldn’t remember Chris’s name so he labelled him “The Claw”.
Dr Evil is the name laid on him by yours truly the FiveStarVagabond. 🙂
The main purpose of this blog is to preserve his hilarious comments from his 2016 South American adventure. He is not big on photographs but writes a brilliant letter.
The quintessential Machu Picchu pose.
March 13 2016.
Been trying to send this for a few days without success – can’t connect to iinet – going with plan b (there’s no plan c).
Buenos Nachos, amigos. Reached Buenos Aires after a long haul without any dramas. The clever guys at Port airport put me straight through even though it involved three flights booked on two separate tickets with two different airlines. Had three seats to myself next to the window on the longest leg, and then a window seat over the Andes – spectacular. I went straight through customs and then my bag was right in front of me when I got to the carousel. I thought to myself that my luck couldn’t continue – and I was right. Three ATMs rejected my card at the airport, the banks were closed and there were no money exchangers. I went to the pre-paid taxi booth without a peso to my name – fortunately they took $ US. Then made a goose of myself with reception when I couldn’t open the hotel front door; and then when I finally did find an ATM that would work, I withdrew what I thought was the equivalent of $200 only to find the $ symbol is also the symbol for the peso. I ended up with about $20 and paid almost as much again in ATM fees, charges, etc – rookie mistake. Then set a new record for getting off a hop on hop off bus when I was advised the English translation wasn’t working.
Met the rest of crew on my first trip last night after having spent two days in Argentina. Our leaders name is Liza – she’s from Argentina, and her English is such that if I listen very carefully I can understand every third word. She organised a team meeting for 7pm last night, followed by a group dinner (which was fabulous) for 8.30pm. I’m going to have to learn the Spanish for “sweetheart, I’m in bed and sound asleep by 8.30pm!”. There are 8 of us on this trip – a couple and another guy from Canada, and five Aussies. There are five blokes and three girls, and I know you’ll ask Spo, so I’ll tell you now we’ve all been touched by the ugly stick – with some being absolutely hammered by it (repeatedly). As a whole, my overall impression of the group is that it falls somewhere between tepid and lacklustre.
Which brings me to my roommate, John – from ‘south of Sydney’. I saw John checking in and although I didn’t know who he was at the time, I immediately pegged him as a pain in the arse. After having now spent five minutes in his company I have had to upgrade his status to that of complete and utter dickhead. He was moved into my room while I was out, and promptly took over. He has enough gear to have sunk the Titanic without the need to have involved the iceberg, and it was spread over every inch of floor space. He was sitting at the only desk in the room typing on his computer, wearing nothing but his jocks – and had cables all over the room charging every piece of electrical equipment known to man. And I don’t want to even talk about all the reggies hanging up in the bathroom. And the trip hadn’t even started. Nonetheless, being the enlightened individual that I am, I could have handled all that – except he just won’t shut the hell up – his gums haven’t stopped flapping from the moment I met him. He’s been there, done that, and knows friggin’ everything. And to top it all off, last night he snored like a trooper and I had no sleep. He’s apparently married, but his wife doesn’t like to travel. Of course she doesn’t – she gets her own holiday when he’s away. I may have to kill him.
Back to the trip. I actually thoroughly enjoyed Buenos Aires, and now we’re on a four hour ferry ride across the River Plate to Uruguay (where we spend three nights before returning to Argentina) – which has been great so far. Now if the dickhead would only fall overboard, all would be right in the world (well, perhaps my putting could be fixed as well).
El Idioto Abroado (I’m learning Spanish)
Here is Chris Lockwood world wanderer at the amazing Iguazu Falls, the are the most spectacular falls I have ever seen. Sadly I have not been to Niagara or Victoria falls to make a comparison, FiveStarVagabond.
March 15 2016.
Since last we met, simple reader (if there are any of you still out there that is), I spent a few days in Uruguay before returning to Argentina. Uruguay, and in particular Montevideo, looked like it would have been something in its day, but to my expert eye I would estimate that that must have been about 50 years ago. We got there on the weekend, and John the Dickhead was in a flap because he couldn’t find any of his plastic cards. He had $US, but all the banks were closed – of course muggins had to get out double and lend him some. He found his cards some days later in a special little container he’d bought so no-one could scan his cards – he’d forgotten he’d bought it. That caused great consternation that did. He’s lost shoes, reggies, money etc, yet seems to think he’s a cross between Bear Grylls and McGyver – I think it’s more likely he’s the love child of Donald Trump and Bronwyn Bishop. In Montevideo he looked the wrong way and a car had to screech to a stop with rubber burning – it came to a halt just touching his leg. The rest of us thought it was a shame it hadn’t been a bus. And he always has to borrow my travel adaptor because some genius told him South America was the same as Australia – seasoned traveller my arse.
We subsequently crossed back into Argentina (in total we’ve crossed into Argentina 5 times) and then had the option to visit some Jesuit ruins in Paraguay – another country to visit which was great, but my passport is filling up quickly. The border crossing (at a river) was the most comical I have ever seen. They make remote African border crossings look almost efficient, and the ‘car ferry’ across the river made the Settlement Point ferry look like the Spirit of Tasmania. There were more Jesuit ruins in Argentina – where I believe they made the movie The Mission with Robert De Niro – perhaps we could watch that one Monday movie night Mrs Hole?
And then we visited Iguazu Falls, where I had as good a two days as I’ve ever had on a tour. The falls are unbelievable and way superior to Victoria Falls (at least in my humble).
But enough of touring, I’m sure what you really want to know is what’s going on with the fruit loops I’m traveling with. Must say I am warming to most of them – in particular the Canadian couple are lovely, and one of the guys (born New Zealand but lived in Melbourne for 16 years – a real lose, lose) is good fun. Actually this guy (Paul) reckons if John the D mentions New Zealanders and sheep once more HE may kill him – a strategy I am actively encouraging.
Over discussions the other day re the hoops you had to jump through to get a Brazilian visa, the young Canadian guy stated that he hadn’t had to get one. Well of course he had – which meant our poor tour leader has been running madly around trying to sort it all out. The upshot is he hasn’t been with us for a few days (stuck in Argentina) but may catch up tomorrow. The rest of the group appear quite upset for him – but this is as basic a mistake as you can make. However, as you know I am nothing if not a sympathetic and supportive person by nature, so I think I have just faked sufficient empathy to appear as if I actually give a toss.
And our hard working tour leader is lovely, but not getting any easier to understand. Spanish speaking people obviously have trouble with their ‘j’s’ – even differentiating between something as simple as juice and shoes is hard for her. She was bemused the other day when she asked one of the girls over breakfast how her juice was – the resonse was they’re a bit tight and giving her blisters. She told us there was a remote chance we would see a shack-wah in the jungle around Iguazu Falls. It took quite a bit of discussion to determine she meant jaguar. As it turned out we didn’t see a jaguar, but we did see two fiats and a volkswagon (I hope you’re all keeping up with this).
And finally, and most importantly, thus far South American beer has been excellent – it is fairly cheap and is most often served in 1 litre bottles – wonderful! From here we travel to Sau Paulo where I am unlikely to leave the hotel room (reportedly one of the most dangerous cities in the world) and then on to Rio.
Paraty is one of my favourite places in Brazil, FiveStarVagabond.
March 24 2016.
I am aware that there is still at least one devoted reader still reading this rubbish (thanks mum) so I will plough on.
The first leg of my journey has ended with three wonderful days in Rio de Janeiro – what a great city. Did all the touristy things – Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf mountain, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches etc etc – and they were all just as fantastic as you see in the pictures.
Before getting there we spent a couple of days in Sao Paulo, apparently the fastest growing city in the world, and serious contender for being the largest. The two major industries there are robbery and murder. On the drive into the city we were stopped by the federal police who undertook a full search of the bus and all the luggage – presumably looking for drugs. When we got to our hotel we all just stood in the foyer waiting for our keys – and were advised to move further inside where it was safer. Our leader then gave us a detailed map of the city with the advice …. “zeez is a nice area, but don’t go there at night; this is a very nice area, but don’t go there at night; and don’t go to zeez area at all”.
Brazil is made up of many different nationalities, and Paul (New Zealand/Melbourne) and I thought we could inconspicuously venture out (in broad daylight) and sightsee while blending in with the local population. That was until John (the D) decided to tag along (we’d tried desperately hard to shake him) – he strapped on the world’s biggest back pack, hung the world’s biggest camera around his neck, and literally topped it off by wearing a large floppy dayglo orange hat on his noggin with matching bright orange draw string pulled tightly (but not tight enough) – to cap it all off the front was turned back just like Gilligan’s. He may as well have carried a sign around saying ‘get your free throat slitting practice here’. While we were in a park taking some photos of an impressive fountain (which would have been more impressive had it been working and not covered in graffiti) police swooped and rounded up five blokes and a girl. It was only 20 yards from us but happened so quickly and quietly that we didn’t see or hear a thing. We just turned around and saw all six baddies having assumed the position and being frisked. We left as the handcuffs were coming out. We also went up to the 40th floor of an old office building with a view over the city (and because it was free between 4 and 5). I can’t describe how immense and amazing this city is – the view was breathtaking.
The next and last stop before Rio was the small touristy town of Parati – which was lovely. We had a great day sailing around the islands and swimming in the warm water – the only dampener was J the D presumably thinking he looked attractive in budgie smugglers.
And so ends the first half of the holiday. I have really enjoyed Brazil – the only problem is they speak Portuguese here. I had completely mastered the Spanish of the other countries visited (much grassyarse, si, amigo, etc) but struggled a bit here. For example, a couple of times it sounded to me like I’d been called a douche bag – I can only assume that means sexy in Portuguese.
The crew also turned out pretty good on the whole. And being the weak, miserable buggrr that I am, all my character assassinations of J the D were naturally done behind his back – so he thought we parted the best of mates. Sometimes my insincerity embarrasses even me.
This trip has been excellent and I really hope the next one can be just as good – it starts in Lima tomorrow. I understand they speak Spanish there – woohoo (Spanish for you beauty).
Copacabana beach babes are among the sexiest girls in the world, FiveStarVagabond.
Certainly one of the most recognisable statues in the world.
Absolutely breathtaking vista
There is no better view anywhere on Earth than Sugarloaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro, FiveStarVagabond.
March 29 2016.
You would never have made it to Peru, Wappo! I flew from Rio to Limo via Sao Paulo, ie domestic and then international flight. When I checked in at Rio the guy fart arsed about on his computer with my ticket and passport for about 10 minutes, before calling over to the girl at the next counter. She came over, looked at the computer and then called over another woman. She came over, had a look, they all babbled something in Double Dutch – then she got on the phone. She printed something, then took off. I asked my guy if there was a problem. “No problem Mr Christopher” he said. “Pig’s arse”, I thought. The lady eventually comes back, there’s much chat and playing with the computer, and then she’s back on the phone. Then they have another chat and play, and voila, tickets start printing. “Thank you for your patience Mr Christopher, here is your ticket to Sao Paulo”. No, no, no – for the 100th time I’m going to Lima. I’m advised they can’t put me straight through – I have to get off, get my bag, go to another terminal, and check in – I’m advised the 85 minutes I have between flights ‘iz plenty of time’. Despite flying South America’s equivalent of Air Asia the plane arrives on time. Now baggage from a plane at Port gets wheeled in on a trolley and you grab your bag off that trolley – at Sao P (remember, one of the largest cities in the world) I have to find my bag at carousel 206. Sherlock Holmes would have had trouble locating carousel 206! Having retrieved my poor old bag I had to work out how to find the international terminal – that was more a task of Einstein-like proportions. 40 minutes later I’m at the LAN check in counter. Now Spo, you know my poor old back pack – it’s been all over the world, travelling at least once every year for 13 years – I conservatively estimate it has been checked in at flight counters at least 50 times. But now the miserable so and so behind the counter told me my little back pack, which weighed in at a staggering 12.1 kilos, was oversized! There were bags the size of grand pianos going along the conveyor belt behind her, but my 12.1 kgs was oversized. I knew all the smooth sailing on the way over would come back to bite me on the bum. She told me to take it to the second yellow doorway ‘over there’, and pointed over her shoulder. All I could see ‘over there’ was a million people – and to make matters worse, I didn’t know what colour yellow was in Portuguese. I asked every person who looked even remotely like an official where to find this place and finally found the woman operating the x-ray equipment for big bags. There were packages the size of volkswagon beetles lying around, so it was no wonder she looked at me like I was a king-sized creton when I threw my bag on the belt. Don’t look at me, lady – go and talk to the cow at the appropriately lettered check in counter F. I finally made it to the gate as they were boarding, but in desperate need of a clean pair of underwear.
So, into Lima, Peru where I needed transport to my hotel after clearing customs at just before midnight. My trip notes advised “preferably don’t travel alone by taxi, particularly late at night”. Give me a break! Anyway, as Fronk would say, to cut a short story long, I finally made it and met my travelling companions the next evening. There’s 13 on this trip plus our leader. As you well know Spo, I don’t like people much, so 13 is more than I would prefer – we’ll see how it pans out. The leader is a Brit and is very good. My new roommate is Paul (from London and not the Paul from the last trip, who was a good guy and great to travel with. I have to say that because he’s been cc’d into this email – please disregard any derogatory comments I may have inadvertently made in respect of him in the past) – he’s also quite a nice bloke and good to travel with. Naturally he has his foibles, but I guess I’ll just have accept that not everyone can attain the impeccably high roommate standards that I set. Only a couple of small bells going off with the group thus far – an old couple (meaning older than me) from Canberra and a young Indian couple (Punjab, not Red) living in London. Mrs Canberra is Asian and I’ll be buggered if I can find out her name – from what I’ve ascertained to date I think it’s Bung Lung – anyway, she’s one of those who has to be first all the time. Hence when we’re being shown something, no-one can see because she’s in the way – and you can’t get a photo without her noggin being in it. Mrs India is quite pushy and bossy and is always 5 minutes late for everything – we’re always waiting for her and she obviously doesn’t give a bugger. Mr India is a nice quiet guy – they both seem happy enough at the moment, but I predict a long, hard road ahead for him.
Ok, to the trip. From Lima we flew to Cusco – which is a wonderful former old pre-Incan, Incan and Spanish town. The next day we visited Machu Picchu – an incredible sight that was not done justice by my $79 Dick Smith camera special. It was voted in as one of the seven new wonders of the world (Machu Picchu, not my camera)- I understand you came in 8th Wappo.
The next day we visited the Sacred Valley and some more amazing ruins, although we all agreed by then that we were Inca’d out. We have since driven to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I am actually doing this while on a boat having visited reed islands inhabited by some of the local indigenous population, and then another island for lunch – with a real Greek Island feel – one of the best days of the holiday so far.
Have eaten Alpaca and Guinea Pig in Peru, and next we go to Bolvia – where I understand we can try Llama (at least that’s what they tell us we’re eating). The alpaca was really good, but the guinea pig was all bone – there was no meat at all. In hindsight it was a shame to kill the poor little critter. Some of the woman were appalled, eg “how can you eat them, they’re so cute”. C’mon girls – grow some balls like I hope to do one day. If I can be bothered, next time I’ll tell you about the people – I’m not saying they’re short Spo, but you’d look like a Harlem Globetrotter on stilts over here.
Ciao ciao for now now, amigos.
Seeing that I have no photos from Chris from his visit to Bolivia you will just have to settle for some of mine, just follow THIS LINK.
April 6 2016.
Crossed into Chile a few days ago after a three day 4WD adventure through the salt flats and deserts of Bolivia. We slept in dorms sleeping up to 6, there were no showers or electricity – and I don’t know how they could call those things you did your ‘business’ in toilets. Three people got ferried out early with tummy bugs and altitude issues, and several others had to really struggle to get through. Overall though it was amazing – we saw some unbelievable scenery including huge salt flats, geysers, volcanoes, mountain ranges etc. There was an island in the middle of the salt flats covered in giant plants which we were told were cactus – but they looked healthy enough to me (my travelling companions didn’t think it was funny either). I thoroughly enjoyed it – but you were probably better off at home. Unfortunately Bung Lung was not one affected by any illness (neither was your travelling hero – but then again I didn’t go to the toot for a week). She even manages to completely block photos of whole mountain ranges. And she’s added repeating everything our leader says and asking insightful questions to her repertoire, eg ‘how come the sky is so blue here’, and ‘is water in a glacial lake cold’ – for goodness sake. Mrs India (who I’ve subsequently found out is Mrs Mauritius, but will remain Mrs India for the duration of this trip because it’s easier to spell) was one who got crook but battled on, which was a bugger for the poor hubby – he had to be doctor, nurse and slave – although he already was the latter. The poor bastard may as well neck himself now – if he’s a good Hindu he’s bound to come back as some high caste after the misery he’s going to suffer in this life.
Since Cusco we have been at altitudes of over 3,400 metres – it really does take your breath away. Being 5’10.5″ I’m used to high altitudes, but you would have needed oxygen, Spo.
Anyway, we first travelled into Bolivia via the city of La Paz – yet another amazing place. Set in a cauldron-like environment, it is a maze of narrow, winding streets, and overlooked by a huge snow covered mountain. The people here are all about 3’6″ tall – and the women 3’5″ wide. This is because wide hips are supposed to be attractive here – in their defence they apparently wear up to 10 peticoats to achieve this effect (or so I’m told). They also wear little bowler hats – the positioning on their noggins apparently telling of their marital status. From there we flew (and apparently my bag has shrunk because it wasn’t oversized) to Uyuni (pronounced uni, as in university) – and now we were really in the middle of nowhere. This is the area that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid finally met their comeuppance – after first robbing the banks at La Paz and Uyuni. They’re not worth robbing now – this is one pretty poor country. From Uyuni we started on our little 4WD adventure. During this trip we reached heights of 5000 metres – and at that height we had a pre-dawn get up to see some geysers at sunrise. The brochure said to take a sweater because it can get cold at altitude. Cold!!! It was -6 degrees – I almost had to wear socks with my thongs and pretend I was European.
In La Paz we had the option to do something called the Death Road bike ride. Now Wasp, as you know death and bikes are just two of many things that I try to avoid. However, my roommate Paul did show some interest. I tried to encourage his participation because I would have had our room to myself had he not made it back. I think I had him until I asked if I could have his u-beaut travel adaptor on news of his demise. One girl in our group did do it, and ended up going over handle bars, knocking herself out, and badly grazing her face. Paul was one of those driven out of the salt flats early ’cause he was crook. He only missed the one night – but that was the night I had to sleep in a dorm with 5 others. Karma is a bitch!
Since then we crossed into Chile, where conditions changed dramatically – nice beds, hot showers, electricity, wi fi – and costs comparable to Australia.
Both trips have been fantastic, but this one has been far the more adventurous – I’m going to need a holiday when I get back. This group has been ok, but can be catagorised into two groups – nice people like me, and boring ones (not like me). The boring ones include Mr Lung who is a geologist – we had to stop every five minutes during our 4WD trip so he could photo rock formations, and then explain to Bung the difference between granite and sedimentary rocks, how this and that were formed etc. I think they’re a good pair, because they’ve both got rocks in the head. And I must say my roommate Paul has been good company and fun to travel with – as I say, I MUST say this, because he also wishes to be cc’d into this rubbish. And he’d better send me the good photos he took on his better than $79 camera, or I’ll tell what I really think of him.
And after congratulating myself for finishing the last trip without providing John the Dickhead with any contact information, I received an email from him. He apparently got our email addresses from the company we are travelling with. His emails are as endearing as he was. He is a vet, and his last message gave a long and detailed account of how he returned to work only to deal with a constipated dog. The dog wasn’t the only one full of shit.
I have now flown into Santiago – at least I did, my poor old bag didn’t. To cut a very, very long story short, it turned up 8 or 9 hours later. I can’t be bothered going in to these details now – suffice to say you’re all going to hear about it when I get back – so brace yourselves. Santiago looks a pretty good city from first glance. Tomorrow we go to a Chilean winery, which should be fun. I know some seem to really like wine from Chile, but I’ve always felt it tasted like paint stripper – will put it to the test in the morning.
And that’s it for 2016. Next year, dear reader/s, we’re off to Russia and Eastern Europe – and the good news is the Wasp will be re-joining me. That means I will have someone to pick on, rather than having to be nice to everyone as I have been on this trip. So Wappo, I’ll see you at the airport on Saturday and I’m good for lunch Monday; Chew-me and KJH, I’ll be back for footy night on Monday; I believe Fronk is going or has gone away, so coffees will have to be suspended, and mummy, I’ll be around Wednesday to pick up ‘our’ car – and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to 3 or 4 putting the first at Port on Thursday.
Hasta la vista, babies
Uno Idioto Abroado
Back home in Port Macquarie
Well all good things must come to an end as did Chris’s amazing adventure. It’s a shame my brother Warren known widely as “El Wappo” chickened out on this journey. Then again after reading about the frantic pace of this holiday El Wappo aka “Half Shot” may not have survived. 🙂
Chris aka The Claw, aka Dr Evil, aka Chick Magnet (well not so much really) should be applauded for his colourful and enlightening prose re-produced in this Chris Lockwood world wanderer travel blog. He should also be applauded on how quickly he mastered both the Portuguese and Spanish language, FiveStarVagabond.
Did I mention chick magnet?
Well here is the proof from 2010 with a bunch of babes, 2 Canadians, 1 Irish, 1 English, 1 Welsh and 1 Aussie – Chris said & I quote “I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know that not one of them showed the slightest bit of interest in me whatsoever!”
In fact it was after seeing this classic photo that I gave Chris the nickname of “Dr Evil”.
That’s all folks
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