Thursday, July 2, 2009

Islas Ballestas

I'm restless and promised more blogs... so here goes.

While Jason and I visited the Nasca Lines, we stayed in a town called Paracas that has a huge nature reserve. I already posted some pictures, but our 2nd day on the trip consisted of a visit to the Ballestas Islands. We got up at 6:45ish and after getting ready slowly (thanks to me, of course), we ate a VERY rushed breakfast at our hotel. It was the first time we had scrambled eggs and toast in a while, so that was awesome. We were picked up by our tour group, and we all headed to the pier to meet our boat. There were tons of tourists waiting for various boats, and while we were waiting in line, we got attacked by pelicans (attacked is extreme- but there were a lot and they were eager to search for food). They make the WORST sound in the world, by the way. We finally got on the boat, then stopped by a Nasca Line-esque drawing of a candelabra on an island about 15 min offshore. They have no idea how the drawing got there, there is speculation that it was used for sea-travelers, or pre-Nasca Indians drew it, or maybe a Spanish explorer did (and of course, possibly aliens). It was kind of neat, but didn't compare to the vastness of all the drawings in Nasca.

We then took a 25 min ride to the Ballesta Islands themselves. They are a natural reserve where THOUSANDS of birds, penguins, and sea lions live. We definitely saw (and smelled) the birds. The Humboldt penguins were really cool- Jason was really excited for them (and it's not like there are wild penguins in Texas...). My favorite was seeing the sea lions- there had to have been around 50, and we were within a few feet of them. The boat stayed by the sea lions for at least 5 min (which doesn't sound like much), but it was really neat to just float in the water watching them hang out. We saw some crabs, starfish, and other bird species during the tour. After we got back to Paracas, we went shopping around (TONS of vendors for the tourists). I bought some jewelry and Jason got a t-shirt, and then we ate lunch. We got ceviche, salad, and chincharron (fried [select meat]). I got mixed seafood, and Jason got fish with yucca. The food was decent- I think your typical tourist place. We killed more time shopping, then we were picked up at our hotel around 2pm. We then headed to the bus station in Paracas (a building with a few benches)... while en route to the bus station we encountered a rather significant problem- the earthquake a few years ago destroyed many of the roads, and the only ones that led to the bus station were completely torn up. We ended up having to walk with all of our luggage for a little bit to get to the station (it was only like 5 min). The bus came, then parked behind a huge metal gate- apparently we were just supposed to know to get on it... whatever- but we hopped on and headed back to Lima. The TV wasn't so loud this time and we didn't win Bingo (even with our cards from the ride down). We got picked up at the bus station in Lima, taken home, and voila- it was a wonderful weekend. The Nasca Lines were cool, but I really loved seeing all the animals. And I am very thankful for that trip because it knocked me out of my "sit in the apartment all day" funk, and made me realize how much I love traveling, and thus it contributed to my trip to Arequipa/Puno/Lake Titicaca, which I probably wouldn't have done had we not gone to Paracas/Nasca. So for that, I am VERY grateful we took this trip. And it was great to spend some time together, and traveling, too. :)

Things I learned but forgot to mention: they grow lots of cactus down there, however Jason and I didn't understand why. Then at one point on the way to Nasca, our car stopped and our tour guide explained what was going on. There is a parasite that grows on the cactus, and when squished up- it produces a red dye that is as valuable as gold. Apparently in Lima, lots of stores say "we accept gold, silver, and this dye" (called Cochineal). So it was really cool to get to squish some up ourselves (no, not enough to sell).

Okay- that is actually all I can think of right now. But we definitely learned a lot of neat stuff from our tour guide. Jason, when you read this, feel free to add.

There is the blog for the day- I still need to update on Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca (my 2 favorite days, go figure)... so if anyone still reads this- hold tight, they're coming.

We're on the boat... and no, Jason would not stop singing the song.


Humboldt Penguins

Sea Lion!!!

A general view of the islands...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Photo Albums

I put up a bunch of pictures on Facebook, here are the links to the albums (I have a lot more to put up, but will do so later. I think the 300 or so I put up is enough for now):

Sunday, June 28, 2009

For World Market...

To my World Market friends... most of you know I brought the "Guess where this place is" photo to Peru. The picture for May 29th [or so] was, of course, at Machu Picchu, so I was quite excited to bring it with me and snap a shot of me endorsing World Market at one of the most famous places in the world (it isn't lame- it's dedication).

Well, long story short- I brought that dang picture with me from Fort Worth to Flower Mound, then from Flower Mound to Miami, then Miami to Lima, Lima to Cusco, Cusco to Aguas Calientes (the town outside MP)... and the story stops there. The morning I was getting all of my stuff together to visit Machu Picchu, I had requested a wake-up call from my hotel. Well, they called me 8 minutes late, which at 5am makes quite a large difference in whether you get to see the sunrise or not (and it's not like I'm at Machu Picchu every other day...). So, I was furious at the hotel, and in my hurry to get ready- I left the dang picture with some other important papers in my hotel room. As I was on the bus at 6:15am to get to Machu Picchu, I realized my mistake.. and I even considered paying $14 to turn around and get it- but missing the sunrise and dealing with hoards of tourists at later hours just didn't seem worth it. So, I can only [sadly] offer the following photo. I know it just isn't the same- but this is in my hotel in Aguas Calientes, next to a map of Machu Picchu... I hope my mistake is forgivable and I still have a job on Tuesday ;) I did the best I can! I guess this just means I'll have to go back and make you guys proud some other day...

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Well, I'm in the Mound. yip yip. Dad was flying today, so he met me at the gate to say Hello, and Renee did the honors of driving me home :) My only thoughts so far are that 1) my acid reflux is really bad from eating/sleeping on the plane, and 2) it's really hot here.

I took a nap and am going to attempt running now. I have a feeling this is not going to be as pleasant as running alongside the Pacific Ocean. But it is Bridlewood, I guess you never know...

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Veep" lounge

Thanks to the only Advantage Miles tickets being in business class, I get to at least live out the last few hours of vacation with special treatment. They have a VIP lounge for business class travelers, which includes free snacks, drinks, and maybe even alcohol (though I am not going to get up and ask... my Sprite Zero and latte worked just fine). I've already gotten 2 rounds of finger sandwiches - as I shove my face with these 1 sq. inch delicacies, I think the guy next to me is eyeing me like "she must not get the VIP lounge treatment often." He has no idea who he is messing with... I have 20 min till boarding, that's at least a good 5-10 more tiny treats :)

I'm really happy I decided to do some site-seeing in Lima today. The cathedral here is beautiful. I also watched the changing of the guard at the "White House" of Peru- I wonder what Washington would be like if they had a marching band play for 30 min every day at noon as the 2 guards that watch over the front door are changed out. Apparently an ex-governor of Peru died last week and his funeral was today. I actually saw them preparing everything for the service in the Cathedral before I realized what was going on, and the Plaza de Armas was PACKED with people. I got outta there quick, did some shopping, then headed to the apartment to pack. Oh man, some how my luggage reproduced during the last month. I checked two bags on the way here, and I did the same for leaving- however I'm also carrying two with me this time, and they are heaaavy. I packed before I worked out, so I have a plastic grocery bag of sweaty clothes in my backpack. Yum! Maybe if the person next to me on the plane is annoying, I'll just pull them out to dry. bahha.

I went for my last run in the Southern Hemisphere for a while today :( I ran to the ocean... all the way down those stairs, to say goodbye and get some pictures. I ended up running around and snapping photos for an hour, so by the time I got back it was dark and Jason and I had to hurry to get some dinner and hit the road. We went to San Antonio's again, got a bunch of Peruvian pastries (empanadas, hummitas, tortilla espanola, etc). It was delicious, but kind of rushed. When we got back, the taxi driver was waiting for me. We had a very, very sad goodbye... I look forward to seeing him some time soon and just laying around and doing nothing for one or two days. We didn't have a single day this whole month where we just sat around and relaxed (he had to go in to work most weekends, and the only time he didn't we went to the zoo and around Lima). But despite not getting to hang out together as much as we would've liked, we're both SO thankful that we got to take this trip, and it was such a wonderful experience for the both of us. He's very sad he has to leave Peru, and is already talking about where to go next (or when he can come back), and I got to see many places I've been wanting to see my entire life. I'd love to come back, but I also can't wait to see the next travel adventure life presents (I just have to save my money for 5 years again... Ha!).

Alright, I've killed 15 min I could be scarfing free food. Shameful, really. I will put up more pics soon and excited to see everyone when I get home!! Adios...


I can't believe I'm leaving Lima today... after so much traveling, the apartment here feels like home... so it's weird to have to leave it again. I can't wait to see all you guys, but I definitely am not happy about vacation ending and dealing with the real world again.

I did some site-seeing in Lima today (Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, etc.), so now I am packing and will hopefully muster up the energy to run to the ocean one last time, then Jason and I will get a small dinner and I will head to the airport :( It's a double-whammy that I have to leave Peru and Jason. We don't even know the next time we'll be able to hang out, which is rather unfortunate when you've been dating for 2 1/2 years and only get to visit once every month or so. And since I was gone so much the last few weeks and he's been working this whole month, I feel like I already have barely seen him. Oh well... hopefully something will work out soon.

Time to pack and enjoy the rest of my day! I am going to keep updating this for a while to talk about details I never got around to writing (Ballestas Islands, Machu Picchu, etc.). I'm horrible at keeping journals, so I am using this to record everything we did. So keep checking if you want- thanks for following our adventures all month!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Lima

Back at the apartment in Lima. Everything went fine on the bus trip- this one was better than when I left Lima for Arequipa. It was still bumpy and driving on the cliffs/curves scares me to death, but I was able to sleep more than last time. I talked to the guy next to me for a while (who apparently thought he paid to sit in half of my seat), and watched half of two movies (the bus attendant thought it was good to cut them off and then start a new one).

To sum up my travels this week: I spent the last two nights sleeping on a bus (not a bed), haven't had a hot shower since Monday, and my cankles have DEFINITELY returned (a few years ago, I had an experience on an overnight bus to Barcelona when I developed cantaloupe-sized ankles). My feet are actually bruised from being in the same shoes for so long and getting swollen on the bus - it's attractive. So I think today I'm going to lay down for a bit to redistribute the fluid in my body, go running for the first time in many, many days, and then Jason and I are getting a wonderful dinner at La Huaca Pucllana tonight- which includes a tour of the ruins at night time! :) I'm really excited.

Here are a few pics from the week, and most importantly: my cankles.

Volcano outside of Arequipa.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa. I have LOTS more pics to post of this place.

Staircase designed by Gustave Eiffel where I ate dinner (Zig Zag) in Arequipa.

My delicious dinner of ostrich and yucca in Arequipa.

Sunrise from the boat on Lake Titicaca. I have been awake before the sun WAY too many times down here :)

The Uros Islands (floating islands on the lake - many more pics of these, too).

The Uros women showing us how they eat the reeds. Tasty.

Me at Isla Taquile- a real island on Lake Titicaca that has 3000 year old ruins. That's old.

Little girl on Taquile. They wear this kind of hat till they are 5, then they change to a black shawl for their whole lives (and men have their own hats to denote if single or married).

HOLY CANKLE! (I actually do have normal sized ankles and feet most of the time, however they currently still look like this. Yes, it's painful.)