La Paz

From Puno I took a 5 hour bus to the Bolivian border, which took about an hour to get through, and then I was in! Copacabana, the town from where Bolivian tours of Lake Titicaca begin, is a far nicer, tourist friendly place than Puno, and is also covered in restaurants, which was perfect for my 1 hour stop. After a quick sandwich (my first experience of Bolivian tardiness) which ended up taking up the full hour, we set off again and by about 5pm were in La Paz. I’d quickly looked up a hostel to stay in for the night, so after some discussions with the taxi driver, ended up at Muzungu’s B&B backpacker hostel. Muzungu’s, I later learnt, means white man’s or effectively gringo’s hostel, in Swahili.

However I literally just dumped my bags before heading out to meet Mariana, the Godchild of my aunt Rachel, who’s family moved to Sheffield about 20 years ago, and then moved back to La Paz when Mariana was 6 months old. We went for dinner at a cool Thai restaurant, and then went to an art gallery to check out one of her friends’ recent installments. So this was my first experience of La Paz. Probably different to most people, but still pretty fun.

When I got back there were some Isralies in the room (they’re all around South America doing some post National Service partying) and a couple, the girl from Norway and guy from Australia, although they’d lived just outside Oslo for the past 2 and a half years. The next morning I went out with them to wonder around the city. We went to a market to get some fruit juice, to a square known for the pigeons that will climb all over you if you give them food (I’ve got loads of photos of this for Facebook or here at some point) and then on a 3 hour free walking tour around the city (obviously you then have to tip) which was really good. That evening I’d arranged to meet Mariana, but kind of bailed on her (sorry!) and met up with the Canadians I’d met on Machu Picchu, Travis and Steven, because they’d just got down from Huayna Potosi, a giant 6,000m mountain that tours above La Paz, and is probably one of the toughest climbs in South America, maybe even America in general. Plus it was Steven’s 28th Birthday. We went to an Indian restaurant, the highest in the world (there’s a lot of ”the highest in the world” when you get to the Andes), which also has a Vindaloo challenge which only 2 people have ever completed. Due to a fragile stomach, as usual, I decided against the challenge and got soup. The Canadians were also joined by some of their fellow climbers, 2 Germans, a Norwegian, and an English guy from West London who was also a Fulham fan. The evening was actually really fun, as we ended up going to an English pub afterwards and chatting and playing pool. The game was me and the Norwegian vs. Steven and Travis, and with an incredible final shot from the Kristian, my partner, we won. This is relevant later.

In the end I went and hung out at their hostel afterwards. It’s kind of sad when you’re traveling because sometimes you’ll meet really cool people like those two, who you’d feel would be perfect travel companions, and then they leave or head off somewhere else and you’re back on your own. But I’ve got a home in Edmonton, Alberta, if I ever want it. I guess that’s an advantage of meeting them.


La Paz is probably my favourite city I’ve been to, and that includes Cusco. It’s pretty vast, but is also nestled in a valley where in the north is sided by sheer cliffs, and in the south by strange craggy alien rocks, which look really cool. On top of the north side is another city, which used to be a district of La Paz, called El Alto. It’s about twice the size of it’s parent city, but much poorer and effectively filled with all the people who come to La Paz from other parts of Bolivia and find there aren’t the work opportunities they expected (this is obviously symplified). La Paz is basically a grander, more bustling, urban, important and importantly, Bolivian version of Cusco. The sight of Huayna Potosi right behind the city is also something to behold, although its peak is usually covered in cloud.


A strange thing happened when I was walking back from the Canadians’ hostel. On the walking tour we’d learnt about this prison that was home to various non-dangerous criminals. Politicians, foreigners, drug dealers etc. At about 2am I was walking back to my hostel and met this American guy who looked pretty rough and worn. He smiled at me and asked me how I was doing. As I’d been drinking, I didn’t consider this too weird a thing, and how sounded friendly, so I said I was doing fine, and how was he. He replied that he’d just been released from that prison after 7 years inside for drug smuggling, and could I give him 6bs, as he was trying to find a place to stay while he sorted stuff out. 6bs is about 50p, so I obliged and bid him on his way.

The next day I went to the Ortega’s/Mendoza’s beautiful suburban house for lunch, where we were joined by their Belgian friend and his Bolivian wife. It was a really nice lunch cooked up by their cook/maid. They told me about their time in England, football, and we talked about Rachel, Mike and their children Aiden and Logan, who they hadn’t really seen pictures of. They also agreed to take my bigger bag while I took the Salt Flats tour for a week, which was great of them. So I went back to my hostel, hastily packed up my things and rushed back to their house in a cab, dropped it off, and then got stuck in a La Paz Friday evening traffic jam for an hour. My night bus to Uyuni was scheduled for 7:00, so I was sure I’d missed it. However TIB (This Is Bolivia, my version of TIA, This Is Africa) and of course it was late. I made it in time to get some bread and bananas, and boarded the coach to Uyuni, with an agreement in place to meet the Aussie and Norwegian couple there the next day to start a tour with them. However it was to go terribly wrong…



Brilliant music video and a great song based in La Paz and I believe the Potosi mines, both where I’ve been. It’s also directed by a really talented Brit called Ian Pons Jewell.


Would say spread it around but it already has 300 million views!


Lake Titicaca

There are two ways to tour Lake Titicaca, from Puno in Peru and from Copacabana in Bolivia. Both have their merits, and both are recommended as one of 10 things you must do in South America by Lonely Planet. I did it from the Puno side, having already booked a tour for about £35 in Cusco, and was met at the bus station at 5:30am by a liaison, who instructed me to get breakfast as we wouldn’t be leaving until 8. This I did, and by 8:30 I was on a boat with various others who would be taking the tour with me. There were about 20 of us who made the 3 hour boat journey to the first island, of varying nationalities, but mostly French. The other primary English speakers were 2 Americans from Philadelphia and 1 from California. The one from California especially stood out because he really was the real deal. He was big on meditation, having done it for 2 months with Columbian hermits, and back home was a ‘trimmer’ in some mountains in Northern California. He’d decided to book this trip 12 days in advance, and had been going for about 5 months, with a few more to go. As soon as we got on the lake he started explaining that this place had a strong positive energy, and that he would try to sneak off at some point and camp on one of the islands for a month. He’d also made his way onto the boat without paying a cent, so that was something.

One thing that did strike me while we were on the boat, cruising to our first destination, was how surreal it was being 3, 000m above sea level and yet being on a body of water this big, effectively an ocean. It felt kind of like we were floating, and if we went far enough into the horizon, we’d simply fall back down to ground level. The lake also has a calmness to it that feels weird. It has the size of a sea, but no waves. So the water, unless it’s windy, is completely still and everywhere is very quiet.

The first island we visited was effectively a large bed of floating reeds tied together, with about 10 reed houses constructed on top. It was inhabited by 5 families of the Aymara people, one of the indigenous groups of the Andes. Our guide, who was actually from one of these islands, explained that they construct new ones every few years as the old one gets worn out and starts sinking. We also got to try out a boat they called the Mercedes for some reason, that was made out of, you guessed it, reeds.

Thankfully we discovered that this wasn’t the island we’d be spending the night on, and we moved on after about an hour. Our island was to be a real island, and a much larger one, inhabited by Quechua speaking people (Incans). There are about 3,000 people on this island, and the families take it in turns to have foreign tourists stay in their homes. I was put in a family with the two guys from Philadelphia, Jake and Joey, and our mama was called Basilia, a large woman we assumed (you can’t tell as they wear so much clothing) who rarely spoke and stared at us much of the time we were out of our room.

Our accommodation was homely and comfortable, and the island was really beautiful, even with storm clouds brewing on the horizon. After some confusion surrounding the toilet, which had no flush – we had to pour more water in to replace the dirty water – lunch was served. Most lunches you get when staying with locals, be it up Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca or the Bolivian salt flats, consist of Quinua soup with potatoes and maybe some other veges, then a main course. I really like Quinua, although it can get a bit old after days on end of having it, but here’s was especially good, especially with maté coca that came with it. Coca is the leaf used to make cocaine, so unsurprisingly it has many traditional health benefits when chewed or drunk as mate (tea): stomach problems? Coca. Headache? Coca. Altitude sickness? Coca. Tired? Coca. Etc. But is really is a big cure of many ailments, and everyone you see has one big cheek from storing it and sucking its nutritious juices for the day ahead.

Lunch was a success, and we complimented her on the food. Maybe it was the compliments, or just something she had to do, but soon afterwards she brought out a bundle containing many hats, llama toys and other assorted trinkets for us to buy. Was followed the most awkward 10 minutes of our lives, as we started complimenting her on her lovely creations, then sat in silence waiting for her to take them away, avoiding all eye contact. It’s funny to think about now but was excruciating then.

After lunch we met up with the others to climb one of the hills, pacha papa, to deposit some coca leaves as an offering to the local God. Most of the others hadn’t broken under their mama’s stare, but 4 Czech men had, and turned up in ridiculous blue and pink traditional hats, much to our amusement.

Climbing the hill was pretty hard, as it always is at that altitude, but surrounded by waving yellow corn fields and stone buildings, we felt as if we were in the dream sequence in Gladiator, when Russell Crowe sees his family again, so started singing the theme tune. Look it up and you’ll get the idea. I think there’s a picture of the corn (or whatever grain it was) on my Facebook.

When we returned, we had some dinner, thankfully this time sans Basilia’s trinkets, and afterwards we’re given some traditional clothes (a hat and poncho) and taken to the town hall for a dance.
This wasn’t salsa or tango, but basically holding hands and running round in circles to some traditional music played by a live band. There were about 70 people there from different tours, including their mamas, so it was pretty fun.

We had a pretty early night, as we were to get up to leave the island at 7:00am. Our breakfast was a pleasant surprise, pancakes, and so happily we made our way down to the boat to say goodbye to Basilia and leave for the next island. We arrived there at about 10 to brilliant sunshine and blue skies. From the jetty we trekked up to a small restaurant with an amazing view of the lake, and at last had some meat (which we’d been waiting for for since we got there) in the form of fried trout. Pretty incredible.

The way back to Puno lulled me to sleep, sitting on the back of the boat in 30 degree hdat , and soon the 3 hours were over and it was time to go. Saying goodbye to the others, who were headed back to Cusco, I booked a bus for the next morning to LA Paz, amend chilled out at the hostel. I’d like to say something nice about Puno, but its main purpose is to get to and from Lake Titicaca, and not much else, so I wouldn’t recommend staying more than a night.

Tours from Copacobana are slightly different. Its a much more pleasant town, far more touristy though, and covered with restaurants. From there you take a short blat ride to the Isla del Sol (island of the sun) and maybe the Isla de la Luna (island of the moon) and do some trekking and watch the sun set/rise. I’ve heard it’s a little bit better than the Peruvian tours, so I’ll have to check it out if I ever come back.

After Puno I was on the road to the capital of Bolivia, La Paz…


Me, the Americans, and our Pachamama

Three coca leaves brought up to an Inca temple to bring good health or summink


Final days in Cusco

Once I returned from Machu Picchu I had about 4 days left in Cusco, but ended up extending it to 5 because I wanted to see the local team play some football. The day after Machu Picchu I ended up hanging out with Vini in Cusco, getting an alpaca wool jumper, which of course is obligatory, chilling on the roof of his hostel which had a pretty stunning view of the city, and then going to a picnic with some of the volunteers from the orphanage next to the Cristo Blanco which overlooks the city. I think we also managed to go out 5/5 of my last nights, to various bars and clubs and restaurants we hadn’t been to before, which was fun.

The day after that I also met the two Canadians again completely by chance, seeing on in a cafe window, and ended up spending the entire day and well into the night with them, going to places I’d already been merely because hanging out with them was so fun. They’re the sort of funny people that make other people funny around them, rather than those who just take the piss out of others (although of course they can be just as funny) so being around them was and is always a pleasure. I actually ended up going back to their hostel and having a final beer with them before their night bus to La Paz, Bolivia, and met an American guy, strange because he was on a spiritual cleanse where he ate nothing but fruit for 3 days, but also cool because he was a nigger fan of Fulham FC than me. Sometimes I’ve found you meet people who have the strangest yet most relevant connections to you, and you feel you could easily be incredibly close friends if you were at home together. This guy I should be meeting back in La Paz this week anyway.

After the Canadians left on the Friday, a church from New Orleans arrived on the Saturday and showed us the worst film I have ever seen, in every aspect, about God, hell and following the ten commandments to the letter. It made many of us sick to our stomach, especially as afterwards they forced the kids to be cleansed and forgave them of their sins in a preachy, evangelical way. Curious, I tried some of their stuff, including speaking in tongues, but it was all bullshit. We complained about them afterwards to the leader of Elim (where see were working) and I think he agreed with us.

The day after most of the volunteers headed up for a football game at the worse of the two local teams, Ciencialo. We bought traditional (not to Peruvian football) guy faukes like masks in crazy colours, shirts, scarves and headbands and set off on a 45 minute taxi ride to the 5,000 sweater stadium in a beautiful valley nestled in some mountains. Surely the most picturesque stadium I’ve ever been to was the backdrop for one of the best football games I’ve ever been to. The first half was dull, and we sat with some rather dull fans, all in our crazy masks and getting weird looks from the fans in both sides of the stadium, evidently thinking go themselves what these loco gringos were doing. However when we, over in with some Ultras in the second half, things got better. We joined in with their songs (ciencialo, ciencialo, que corazon, que corazon, ciencialo, ciencialo, que paccion, que paccion – what heart, what passion) had streamers, confetti, giant flags and banners and we jumping around and going crazy the whole game. This was drawing a lot more attention from the crowd, many of whom got up and watched us and took pictures. We were obviously a novelty. Anyway, the game finished 3-0 to Ciencialo, and was amazing. First a penalty, then a scruffy goal, then an absolute screamer from the player with my shirt’s number (8), causing me to run to the front and take off my shirt. It was crazy, and after the game, one of us, Pierre, a Belgian, was interviewed by the radio commentator on his thoughts. I have pictures of it on Facebook, plus videos that will make it into my overall compilation. It was an amazing last day.

Knowing that I was coming back, the goodbyes we’re heartfelt but subdued from the kids, and for the volunteers, we went out for Chinese with my backpacks, ready for my overnight bus to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Eventually we also managed to foot in a trip to McDonalds for a Mcflurry and a games of pool at Norton’s English pub. I left Cusco at 10 that night knowing I would return to a place that had come to feel like a home away from home (especially with so many Brits!).

Machu Picchu Part 2

At last I’ve reached an area with half decent internet and some time off to write some more stuff, but apologies for the lack of updates, even 3 weeks after MP! Bolivia has some of the worst internet I’ve ever experienced, so even loading up emails or Facebook takes about 10 minutes. Of course it makes up for it in other ways, as you’ll see later.

Anyway, on the third day of our Machu Picchu we set off at around 8 to go to a ziplining experience, where we would be taken 4km down a valley by 6 different ziplines of varying lengths and speeds. We were given a harness, carabinas, and a glove to break with, and then set off up one of the valley sides to the first line with a few other people from different groups.

The first line we were merely expected to sit back and relax as we were taken across the valley to a landing spot on the other side. We were advised not to use the break glove as it would slow us down too much, but some people did anyway and managed to get stuck half way across, so were expected to pull themselves along to the other side. The first one calmed everyone’s nerves, and soon we were getting into poses as we whizzed across the valley on each line, sometimes as spiderman, hanging upsidedown and looking at the floor 80ft beneath us, or spread out like superman, although I was the only one who actually did the real superman pose, one arm out front, one by my side. It’s all about the details with these things. There were two girls there from Sweden who didn’t look like they were having fun. They stood there next to each other not talking to anyone and just hanging limp from the line everytime, which was a source of amusement for some of us.
If you want to see some photos of the ziplining, they’re on my Facebook, but maybe when I get to Buenos Aires I’ll try to upload them here.

After we finished the ziplining we continued trekking until we reached the train tracks that take people to Aguas Calientas, the town directly below Machu Picchu, where we stopped at a trekker restaurant for lunch. It was there that you can just see the tip of one of the stone buildings in Machu Picchu on one of the mountains, but it seemed a long way off.
Almost as soon as we left we were greeted by torrential rain for the next hour and a half of walking, but I suppose it wouldn’t be a jungle trek without some tropical rain. At last, feeling exhausted, we arrived in Aguas Calientas and our hostel for the night. To everyone’s great joy we were greeted by WiFi and hot showers, and so chilled out there for a while. Dinner and snack buying was done relatively early, and so by about 10 I think I was sleeping soundly, ready for the 4am start the next day.

4am starts aren’t too nice at the best of times, such as when you’re about to set off for a holiday flight, or if its Christmas (maybe that’s the exception), but when you’re about to hike uphill for an hour OK OK in the darkness its really quite hard to wake up. But wake and dress we did, and by 4:30 we were ready to set off. Spirits were relatively high, as this was the climax of the whole 4 days, and for the first couple of hundred steps there was even conversation. However as the group spread out, with the guys pulling ahead stolidly and the girls lagging behind, an air of determination surrounded us. Occasionally we would stop to view the rising sun bathing the mountains in weak light, but we had a task to do and stopping was getting in the way of that. When we at last reached the top the relief was palpable, with hugs and high fives abound. I’d say there were less than a hundred people there at 5:45 when we got there, so we got in the queue to be some of the first in.

When the first few of us arrived through the gates and into the city entrance the sun had just risen, so we entered Machu Picchu in awe of the serenity and beauty of the surrounding landscape, which is jaw dropping in itself, and of course the stone structures, preserved from Spanish destruction and centuries of abandonment. When you see pictures of Machu Picchu, you only see it from one or two particular places, and its removed from its historical context, merely a place to take photos and say you’ve been to. I think of course part of the reason for this is the stunning beauty of it, the remarkable and unique preservation, and the effort it takes to reach it. But it also feels, even while you’re there, like it’s been commercialised. Most people arrive from buses, trains, and even we arrived with a prepackaged tour, so it’s lost some of the adventure that Hiram Bingham, the American archaeologist who discovered it in the early 20th century, or even the local farmers who may have passed it occasionally while herding their llamas and alpacas, would have felt upon first viewing. Its perfectly preened, grass cut, docile llamas there for pictures, and guards there to whistle if they see anyone do anything remotely risque (you’ve not allowed to jump for photos). It has become a similar symbol to Che Guevara, something that has been ripped out of its original context – for Che his strong political beliefs and for Machu Picchu its archaeological and historical significance – and turned into teenagers something post on their wall and make peace signs to.

But as I said, we are all part of that, me included, and if you try, you can get away from the tour groups and find a little house overlooking the mountains and jungles that surround the city and try to imagine the rather strange inhabitants of the city. Our tour guide explained that only 500 or so people lived there, split between a higher and lower caste. Strangely, a practice went on that didn’t occur in most other areas of the Incan empire, whereby some babies of the higher caste would have their head clamped and elongated as they grew, causing their eventual head to be shaped like an elf. If you go to the interesting Incan museum in Cusco, you can actually see some of these skulls preserved. Another interesting piece of archaeology on Machu Picchu is that despite a 500 person population, only 125 graves were found, suggesting that the rest left. My guess was that these eleven higher caste people, with a squashed pre-frontal cortex, managed to ruin society to such an extent that everyone else threw themselves off the mountain. But whatever the case, even though it was eventually abandoned, Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spanish, despite many attempts to follow Incan messengers and scouts back from Cusco and nearby towns.

From 7-8 was my slot to climb the mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu, Huyana Picchu, and so I set off for another gruelling climb an hour after the last, this time alone (most of the others hadn’t managed to get one of the 400 passes to climb the mountain that day). More buildings are up on Huyana, evidently for the higher caste or priest caste to live in as the view overlooks the city (meant to be shaped like a condor, although I couldn’t see it), and there are plenty of cool viewpoints to view the surrounding area. When I got to the top I just sat and appreciated being alone for a while, at the top of an Andean mountain, watching the clouds roll in and the jungle however many feat below me. That was until a 25 strong group of Canadians got there, mostly made up of teenagers, which kind of ruined it, but you persevere.

Afterwards I read what Guevara himself wrote of Machu Picchu:
“The most important and irrefutable thing, however, is that here we found the pure expression of the most powerful indigenous race in the Americas — untouched by a conquering civilization and full of immensely evocative treasures… The spectacular landscape circling the fortress supplies an essential backdrop, inspiring dreamers to wander its ruins for the sake of it”

And wander I did. Afterwards I couldn’t find any of my group, so I just spent some time walking through the houses, admiring the view and trying to avoid too many people until about 12 when I left and found some of the Dutch people from the group, who were descending shortly. I decided to wait for a while so I could get a couple of pictures for Fergus’s birthday (which you can see on Facebook) which Vini the Brazilian took for me. Vini’s friends from Brazil (they all live in a small farming village south of Porto Alegre in Southern Brazil) who he had been travelling with had taken the train then bus to Machu Picchu, but wanted to walk down to Aguas Calientes, so I joined them. By about 1 we were back in town, and so decided to get some food at watch some Champions League football in a local restaurant to celebrate. At 7pm was the train back to Ollantaytambo, and from there we took another little mini bus to Cusco. We arrived there about 10pm, and some of us split of to have showers and relax for a bit/sleep, but as my accommodation in Cusco was half an hours walk or a taxi away, I stayed and went to my favourite bar, Ukuku’s, with Vini. After a couple of drinks there I headed to an English pub, Norton’s to meet the rest of the guys, the two Canadians, Steve and Travis, and the Dutch guy Machiel (surely one of the most fun loving and charismatic people I’ve ever met) and we reminisced about the trip into the early hours. By the time I returned to the orphanage I was completely wiped by buzzing after such a brilliant time with a brilliant group of people.

Pics coming with internet soon.

Machu Picchu and final days in Cusco

I haven´t written one of these in a while, but it`ll have to be a bit more brief than some of the others because my days are running out and I still want to do so much more!

For reasons unknown to me, a couple of weeks ago I came down with a stomach bug and fever bad enough to warrant going to a hospital (really a posh travellers´clinic). I spent a day and a night there lying in bed with an IV and oxygen being pumped into my system while I watched, to my relief, a lot of English language Big Bang Theory and movies on the cable TV they had. It wasn´t particularly exciting, although my friends did visit me and bring chocolate, much to the nurse´s chagrin, and when I was released (with an order to not drink alcohol and follow a pretty boring diet) I was rather relieved.

Two days later Marc, Jasmine (a new volunteer) and I climbed one of the hills surrounding Cusco, something I said I´d do in the previous post. It was a relatively tough climb, but completely lacking of fellow tourists/gringos and the view from the top was stunning, far better than that from the white cross (cristo blanco) that overlooks the city on another hill.

Now onto Machu Picchu. I decided to do the Jungle Trek, a four day trek that encompassed mountain biking, zip lining, rafting and jungle hikes, rather than the traditional walking and camping that the Inka Trail consists of. I booked it for about $270, which is pretty good considering it can be upwards of 400 pounds at home. There were 11 of us in the group, 5 Dutch, 2 Columbian, 2 Canadian, a Brazilian and me. The first day we were all picked up in a minivan and driven for about 2 and a half hours to the top of a 4350m mountain called Abra Malaga. From there we took our bikes, of debateable quality but with good brakes, and zoomed down the mountain for another 2 and a half hours into the jungle below, all the while enduring torrential rainfall. While it was enjoyable, the fact that we were all still a new group and hadn´t really communicated yet meant that it was probably the low point of the entire trek. After this we were taken to a nearby town and put up in hostels for the night. My roomate was the Brazilian, Vinicius or Vinni, who spoke no English, only Portugese, Italian and a bit more Spanish than me. While before this would have meant there would be little communication, now my Spanish is much better we became great friends, and I helped translate for him when he was speaking to other English speakers.



The route



The next day, after a healthy dinner and breakfast (much to my relief my stomach was OK after that. Stupidly I completely ignored the doctor´s order to not drink and had gone out two days before Machu Picchu began, meaning I was almost in the state I had been in before hospital), Vinni and I (and two other english travellers) partook in the rafting activity that some of the others had done the afternoon before. This was a huge amount of fun. The rapids rose to grade 3.5 (I think) but the guide knew what he was doing and we even got out at one point and clung on to the raft as it took us down more rapids. After this we caught up with our group, who had started the day´s hiking, and began the real jungle trek. This gave us some incredible views, but was pretty exhausting as it was uphill much of the time. Half way through we stopped and sampled some cocoa beans, snake tequila and tried on some traditional Inca dress.







To cross one gorge a basket contraption was required, where three of us at each time would be pulled across, our legs dangling outside. It also meant we had to wait for around half an hour at the side of the mountain, knowing that one trip would mean a bumpy drop to the valley below.


We arrived at our final stop just as the sun was setting, at a spectacular hot springs pool complex nestled within a valley. It was exactly what we all needed, and we relaxed our exhausted legs in the hot water while sharing some beers.