In the immortal, paraphrased words of Errol Brown, “it started with a shit”. Except in my case, it didn’t stop. It could be said that I never expected it to come to this. “This” being a somewhat run down hospital in Chivay – a quaint little town carved neatly into the patchwork-like fabric of the beautiful Colca Canyon. I’m on the mend now, but over the last few days, I’ve spent more time in the bogs than George Michael on a cottaging expedition. That’s largely thanks to the fact I’m taking a concoction of pills Heath Ledger would be proud of. Still, I’m sure he never managed to pick his stash up for 2.50 soles (about 60p). Neither did an agitated Peruvian doctor diagnose him with “traveller’s diarrhoea”.

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The journey to Chivay was a nightmare. It started with a 12 hour overnight journey from a place called Ica, just south of Lima, to Arequipa – a town savaged by floods just a number of days previously. Those agonising hours were followed by a 3 hour wait in a bus terminal and a further 4 hours on one of the crappest buses I have ever travelled upon. Never before has a man stood at the front of any form of public transport I’ve been on and given an impromptu rendition of a seemingly never-ending (and depressing) song on his pan pipes. With my colon doing the conga, my arse playing up and my throat feeling like it had been massaged with a cheese grater (I have man flu too) it felt like I was being lulled, musically, to my death. I exaggerate, of course. Although the sweet Peruvian lady in the seat across the aisle gestured (with a cut throat hand movement) that if I didn’t layer up, my end would be imminent. Either that or she was pretty pissed off with my incessant wriggling and coughing. I guess I must have looked pretty bad so decided to take forty winks after Des O’Conner put the finishing touches to his welcome tune. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only trick up his sleeve. One of the most enduring sales pitches ever given was to be used by Des to flog a whole raft of household paraphernalia to passengers. It was a long 4 hours.

Other than that, I’ve seen condors soar, majestically, above the indescribable tapestry of the Colca Canyon, caught a glimpse of a snow-capped volcano and had a mooch round an ancient pre-Incan clay pyramid in the centre of a bustling metropolis. Lake Titicaca and its floating islands beckon tomorrow. Puno, gateway to the lake, is close to where David Icke experienced his awakening. Expect me to be wearing turquoise tracksuits from now on in.

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