Our last big adventure of our trip was Machu Picchu, and oh, what an adventure it was. Over the course of our trip we had talked to various people about how they got to Machu Picchu and the best way to do it for the least amount of money. First things first, while everyone goes to Cusco to get to Machu Picchu they are NOT close to each other at all. More like they are an eight hour bus ride apart! We also did not consider the fact that there was going to be a bus strike during the time that we wanted to go and that complicated things a little bit. Thankfully, Paul, the guy who owned our hostel, helped us figure out how to get there, at a decent price, and in a decent time. The first part of our trip was a 7 hour van ride to a town called Santa Teresa (which is supposedly has some really nice hot springs, but we didn’t get to check them out). You would think by this point in the trip we’d be used to long bus/van rides, but this particular one involved winding mountain roads and lots of dust that I never thought we’d make it through. When we were almost to where we were supposed to be we were stopped by the townspeople who were striking. All of the drivers who were trying to get through had to negotiate with them and eventually they let us through. When we arrived in Santa Teresa we had to find a way to get to they hydroelectric station, where we were supposed to walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes. The man driving our van was apparently trying to charge us too much, so we thought we’d find a taxi who would take us there for less money. Lo and behold, there was only one taxi (with five seats in it) that we squeezed all NINE of us plus the driver into. Then we were off for another hour long ride through the winding mountain paths, well, after stopping on the side of the road to fill the car up with water from the river because it overheated. After some intense moments of feeling like we were going to drive off the side of this mountain, or get submerged under water we finally made it to the hydroelectric. We sat for a bit and ate some lunch, which consisted of peanut butter sandwiches and water, and then started our walk along the train tracks. This was probably the most pleasant part of the whole journey. It took us about three hours to walk the train tracks, but we didn’t really mind because there is a nice river that flows along the train tracks, which kept us cool, and it was just so peaceful. Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes we bought our entrance tickets for Machu Picchu and then found a place to eat dinner. We decided that we didn’t want to get a hostel for the night because we were told that we need to be at the gate to Machu Picchu between 2-3AM to start hiking up to the top. So, instead of waiting until 2, we decided we would just start that climb after dinner and then sleep after we got to the top. (Side note: the whole point of this long/early morning journey was so that we could climb Huayna Picchu, which is the mountain next to Machhu Picchu and see the sunrise–only the first 200 people get to do it). So we get to the gate around 11PM– a journey that we thought was going to take a few hours only ended up taking about half an hour– and the guy tells us that he doesn’t start letting people in until about 445AM and to come back around 330AM. We slept on the side of the road, which was quite fun, and then woke up at 330 and got in line at the gate. True to his word, the man opened the gate at 445 and let everyone through to start hiking up to the entrance to Machu Picchu. Never have I climbed so many stairs in my life! But, we made it and were in the group that got to go up to Huayna Picchu for sunrise!
Huayna Picchu is two mountains–one very large one, and one not so large one–since it was already 7AM and we were told the sunrises around 730AM, we decided to climb the not so large one and what a great decision that was. We get to the top of it and have this incredible view and see the sunrise over the mountains and we were the only six people up there for the entire three hours we were allowed to be up there! It was so incredibly peaceful and wonderful and I can’t even explain, but it definitely made the entire crazy journey to get there worth it.
There’s a bunch of llamas just roaming around the ruins, which is really awesome. You’re not really supposed to go near them–the security guards will whistle at you–but we did get some epic views of them. And at one point, we saw a couple of them chasing each other and one of them jumped over this guy who way laying on the ground, we thought he got trampled by the llama, but turns out he was okay!
After coming down from the top of Huayna Picchu, we met up with the rest of the group and got some lunch at the ridiculously over priced cafe. We then went back in the ruins and walked around some more. A few of us found a spot in the sunshine and napped for a bit and then continued exploring. Such a wonderful, wonderful experience!
For the journey back, Nico, Sam, Matt and I decided to take a train, while the rest of the group decided they were going to go back the way we came. Our train & taxi ride back to the hostel took a whole four hours! You have no idea how happy this made us!

After Machu Picchu we stayed in Cusco for a couple more days and then took a 20 hour bus ride to Lima. This was most definitely the most miserable bus ride of the entire trip, but we made it. After showering and settling in at the hostel, we went to dinner and then found a movie theatre in town so that we could go see Inception. So good! After the movie we went back to the hostel and stayed up talking until Sarah and I had to leave to catch our flight back to the states. We left on the 4th of August and the rest of the group didn’t leave until the 10th, so they hung out in Lima for the rest of the time and went paragliding and did other awesome stuff that I’m jealous of!


After our time in Arequipa, Taylor, Sam & I endured a 12 hour bus ride to Puno (the rest of the group went to Colca Canyon and was going to meet up with us later). This was probably the most interesting bus ride of them all. When we first got on this Peruvian man got up and talked to everyone in Spanish, which neither Sam or I understand enough of to make sense of anything he said & Taylor had already fallen asleep. After he finishes talking, he walks down the aisle and hands everyone some candy (it was like the strawberry type that is wrapped to look like a strawberry, with the gooey center) & then proceeds back down the aisle and asks everyone for 1.50 Soles. Sam and I had absolutely no idea what had just happened. Towards the end of our bus ride another Peruvian man got up and began rambling on about everything from McDonalds to education to sex to I don’t even know what else. He also came down the aisle to give us stuff, but Sam and I had already learned our lesson the first time around.
The hostel we stayed at was owned by the cutest Peruvian couple & the wife made us pancakes every morning for breakfast. Sounds delicious, I know, but little did we know this was the beginning of pancakes every morning for the rest of our trip. This was also probably the coldest hostel we stayed in, but they did have hot water which was super nice.
While staying in Puno, we took a trip to the Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca (half of it is in Peru, the other half in Bolivia). While this was a sad time because we were so close to Bolivia & not going, Lake Titicaca was probably one of my favorite spots in Peru.. next to Machu Picchu, that is. These Incan families live on the islands that they’ve made out of reeds and anchored down to the bottom of the lake so that they don’t float away. They have to add new reeds to the islands every 2 weeks to maintain them. They also have boats made out of the reeds that they use as taxis to get from island to island and to get back to Puno to trade their fish for other food that they might need.
Puno was also the location of our Cuy (Guinea Pig) eating. Cuy is a delicacy in Peru, which can clearly be seen by the way they serve it to you. I’m pretty sure they just cut the poor little guy in half and fry him and then put him on a plate for you. Our Cuy still had whiskers & teeth, and we’re pretty sure there were some brains (apparently you’re supposed to suck them out and eat them) in there. Let me just say, this is probably the most inconvenient way to serve someone a guinea pig. The skin was extremely tough, but the meat was pretty delicious.

Next up: Cusco!


August 22, 2010

I will be back in business sept 2

playing catch up

August 9, 2010

Floating Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru

Being away for three weeks and then having a wedding upon return make for a lot of catching up to do. I think I’ve just about got things under control again.

Now I’ve got to settle into my new house; unpacking and I have never really been good friends.

I’m hoping to be updating this regularly again in the next few days, bear with me until then.

Lots of pictures/stories from Peru to come soon!

peru so far

July 22, 2010

9 days down, 13 to go.

I have played with the cutest kids you’ve ever seen, taught some Peruvians English, eaten Sting Ray, built a house out of poop & cane sugar sticks, danced the night away, met incredibly awesome people, sat on a bus for 12 hours, been chased by a llama, left a friend at a bus stop, enjoyed Arequipa, almost died climbing a volcano, eaten a bucketful of new to me fruits, and so much more.
This country is absolutely incredible. More in-depth updates to come.

a day at the park

July 1, 2010

Abby and I spent a lovely day at the park. We drove the golf cart to the park across the street from our house and slid and swung until both of shoes were full of sand. Afterwards I treated her to some pizza for lunch (she really just loves tomatoes, and onions, for that matter). I love spending alone time with her. She’s just so dang cute!

Exactly how I feel..

April 11, 2010

“I’ve never felt so much peace within myself. Everything is exactly as it should be. I’m happy, never anxious, never afraid. Taking everything as it comes, learning as much as I can, reflecting on the past as it is just the past and it doesn’t hold me down. I feel connected, comfortable, ready for whatever comes my way.”

-Anna Rose