The Voyage: Roz Savage
Spandau Ballet and Roast Guinea Pig
Roz Allibone
17 May 2003, Cusco

Above: I get matey with Tony Hadley

Our end of expedition party was a huge and somewhat surreal night, featuring two roast guinea pigs, a total eclipse of the moon, and Tony Hadley, the lead singer of Spandau Ballet.

Roast cuy, or guinea pig, is a Peruvian speciality, so it seemed an appropriate menu choice for our celebratory dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Antonia nudged me and hissed, 'That's Tony Hadley over there'. And sure enough, there he was, large as life, and barely changed from the New Romantic days of 'True' and 'Gold'.

Fuelled by a bit of dutch courage and a dinner of roasted rodents (dished up intact, complete with feet and ratty little teeth, not a lot of meat but quite tasty), she and I wandered over in starstruck manner to introduce ourselves. And Tony (first name terms, note!) could not have been nicer. He was in the restaurant with a huge bunch of people who had just completed the Inca Trail in aid of the cancer charity Action Research, a change of plan after his celebrity bout with political reporter John Pienaar had been vetoed by the boxing regulators.

We got chatting about our expedition, and he seemed genuinely interested in what we'd been up to, asking lots of questions about what we'd done, seen and discovered. He introduced us to his friends, and we all got very matey.

Several glasses of wine, a couple of cigars, and one lunar eclipse later, the charity organisers had finally finished presenting awards to all the trekkers for everthing under the sun, from the basic well-done-for-finishing award, to most glamorous hiker and celebrity lookalikes (Tony Hadley nominated for his striking resemblance to Tony Hadley).

Tony rounded off the proceedings by getting up to sing - a hilariously under-rehearsed rendition of 'YMCA', followed by a faultless version of 'True', the voice sounding as good as ever. And despite his trekking war wounds (a bleeding blister on his heel) he still made it to Ukuku's, the nightclub round the corner, where the party continued until the wee small hours.

Woke up the next morning wondering if I'd dreamed it all in some bizarre altitude-induced state. Not every day you get to boogie on down in Peru with a 1980's pop idol...

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Roz Allibone
15 May 2003, Cusco

Above: My Timotei moment

Wow, wow, wow. The last two weeks, on the archaeological expedition, have been just amazing. We had one week at base camp, followed by a week´s trekking our way across the Vilcabamba, and every single day brought new challenges and achievements. It´s been special.

For the archaeological bits, check out the expedition website at You´ll see that we were absolutely gobsmacked by the extent of our success. Almost too much of a good thing.

The trek was pretty gobsmacking too, through some of the most spectacular scenery the Andes can offer. It was physically quite tough, involving lots of steep uphill walking, but we had a fantastic team of arrieros, who would go ahead with the mules and set up camp so that by the time we trailed in, footsore and weary, the tents would be up and the kettle on.

It was quite alarming how quickly I went feral and adapted to life in camp. Normal concerns with trivial things like body odour disappeared very early on. Day 1, our mules couldn´t make it across a narrow rope bridge, so we had to shoulder our baggage and carry it a mile or so - instant sweat saturation. Then the next day it rained - total mudbath. Mud became the new black.

It wasn´t all that easy to get clean, just a small bowl of hot water twice a day, for a flannel bath starting at the top and working down. The best wash I had was when I had a Timotei moment and jumped into a pool under a three-tier waterfall. Seemed like a good idea for the first 3 seconds, until I realised just how freezing cold the water was. Staggered out considerably less smelly, but with an achingly cold head.

But it wasn´t all back to earthy basics. We did still have life´s bare necessities, like the morning cuppa of coca tea brought to our tents, and vodka martinis before dinner every evening.

Speaking of coca, I got quite into coca-chewing, which is meant to ward off fatigue and hunger. I remain to be convinced, as all the fresh air and exercise totally cured my insomnia and gave me a raging appetite, but maybe I just wasn´t chewing enough, my ladylike little wad looking rather amateurish compared with the hamster-cheeks of some of our arrieros.

Now back in Cusco, attempting to readjust to civilisation and hot & cold running water. Took my dirty washing to the laundry this morning - they deserve danger money for going anywhere near that vile-smelling pile.

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Hasta Luego, Cusco!
Roz Allibone
02 May 2003, Cusco

The view from my hostel in Cusco. I don´t even want to talk about how many steps I have to go up to get there... at altitude, too.

This may be my last journal update for a little while - tomorrow I start the expedition proper, heading off into the Sacred Valley, and I don´t know where or when I will next find an internet cafe.

Some of my team are up in a plane today, doing a recce of our research area with the thermal imaging camera. I would have loved to be up there too, although it might be a bit hair-raising.

I don´t think our cameraman was entirely happy at the prospect of going up in a single-engine plane with no door, flying very low over mountains at absolutely the minimum speed it can do without stalling, while being buffeted around by swirling winds and thermal updraughts. Funny, that.

Those of you who know them may be interested to know that I´m seeing Julian and Celina Hamm for a quiet beverage or two this evening. They´ve just arrived in Cusco on their trip around the world. One of the expedition guys bumped into them in Miami airport yesterday. They got talking and found out they all knew me. Small world.

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Cusco, City of a Thousand Gringos
Roz Allibone
01 May 2003, Cusco

Life continues to be a contrast between luxurious freebies and gritty reality. From being frozen to death on the cargo train, to sheer decadence in Inka Class on the Puno-Cusco train, from a fantastic dinner at El Monasterio (poshest hotel in Cusco), back to a shared (mixed sex!) dorm, with the loo across the courtyard, in a hostel appropriately located next door to the convent.

Cusco is great, very mellow, although we foreign johnnies must number nearly as many as the locals.

Have also now met up with my expedition team. I HAD been quite proud of my early morning yomp up to the Inca ruins on a hill high above the town (see photo above, of big stone, little me)... until I found out that Gary Ziegler (60 years young) runs up there on a regular basis. Can´t be natural!

This morning the team were getting to grips with the thermal imaging camera that we´re going to take up in a little single engine plane to recce for ruins - they were all looking at the monitor, and pointing the camera at me. Then they all start laughing, and I realise the camera was pointing at my chest. John Leivers says, ´Aha, now we can see what you´re made of´, which makes me very worried indeed!

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