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.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

on way to Lima

at the Salon de VIP ("veep") at the bus station. The bus is boarding right now... just wanted to let everyone know we survived the day, Yakeline just left, and now I'm going to sit on my butt for 15 hours straight. yeaaah! ;)

Hasta mañana en Lima.

Arequipa: Round II *ding ding*

I am in Arequipa. Got here at 430am, and Yakeline (the girl traveling with me) and I sat in the bus station till about 8am. There were tons of people because, well, I guess there just always are.

We got breakfast and have been sitting in the Plaza de Armas for a few hours now. I don't know if I'm going to go to a museum or just hang out the rest of the day. She's offered to stay with me until I leave; her sister lives her but isn't answering her phone, so we're kinda stuck together anyways. We're having a great time watching me embarrass myself speaking Spanish, so all is well.

My bus from Puno to Arequipa DID get canceled, so thank the many, many lucky stars I have that I found out about this last night and not today at 2:30pm at the bus station. I changed my bus to Lima so that I leave here at 5pm instead of 9am, that way I'll get into Lima earlier to do some sight-seeing, shower, or sleep in a bed for the first time in 72 hours.

Everything is fine now- please don't worry. The bus was nicer than we expected, and Yakeline has been very helpful. I couldn't refund my ticket on Cruz del Sur, so I just gave her the credit to use in the future. I'm very thankful to have such nice people around me, I only wish we could communicate better :)

That's all for now, will update tomorrow morning when I get to Lima. Ciao.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today has been my best and worst day in Peru- all in one!! I only have 5 min for an update, so here goes:

Lake Titicaca was WONDERFUL. So much fun, lots of pictures and stories to come.

When I got back, I went to the tour office to mee the girl that said she'd come with me to Chucuito tomorrow. We were planning our morning, and she called a bus company to find out that there is going to be a 3 day farmer strike starting tonight at midnight. Remember how they strike here...? That's right, by placing boulders in the roads. Do you know what happens when they do that? Buses get canceled, Kelyn doesn't make it to Lima, and misses her flight out on Friday. THUS, today has been an evening of drama. After an hour or so of trying to find a solution (no one knows for sure how bad the strike will be), my friends at the agency and I decided it would be best that I just skip town tonight. Nevermind I already paid for my hotel and bus ticket home (which really are insignificant compared to missing a flight...) but this is still quite annoying. I'm going to get to Arequipa at 4am, sit in the terminal till about 6 or 7am when there is light and I can actually be safely in public. I'm on the standard Peruvian bus that has no reclining seats, no blankets, no movies, no snacks, and no .. heat. I have 5 layers of clothes on right now, and I'm still going to hate life ha.

The bright side is that the girl from the agency is actually going to come to Arequipa with me. I was so upset and told them I was nervous about traveling alone and being a gringa, so I paid for her ida y vuelta tickets (10 bucks) and I have my own little security guard. I could've done it on my own, but they were insistent, and she's helped me a lot so far anyways. So I'm glad to have a new best Peruvian friend (sorry Jose Luis).

Well, time to hit the baño and get on the bus. I get another day in Arequipa, which I really didn't want, but this is much better than being stuck in Peru indefinitely or paying thousands of dollars that I just don't have. Will provide a better update tomorrow from Arequipa, or Thursday from Lima. Hasta luego.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Día en Puno

n my Today got off to a less than pleasant start, but more than made up for it as I arrived in Puno. I got up in Arequipa at 630am. Last night I tested my shower to see if hot water existed. It apparently did not... so I went to the hostel owner to ask where to make the fire to make the water hot, yet she was no where to be found. I played around with some switches and eventually I had hot water (now this was all last night). This morning, I was not so lucky. I tried and waited and waited and only cold water came. I enjoy being clean, but not suffering, so I tried washing some of my hair and quickly tossing it up. When I got my stuff all together to check out, I asked about the water situation, and she said that there was hot water, I just had to turn the knob to a specific degree (there was only one water control knob, mind you). She then offered me the downstairs bathroom to use, and because my bus left 30 min later than I originally thought, I accepted. Now, in this shower I had 3 drizzles of water, all of which were 50% steam as they left the shower head. This was also unpleasant. I finally figured out that if you move the cold water knob at a certain angle, it would catch the screw sticking out of the wall, and voila- 10 min later I had the best shower of my life. So, I left the hostel and headed to the bus station. The bus ride was okay; it was supposed to be 5 hours but took 6 because a lot of the road was unpaved, so we went off-roading in our double decker bus. This frightened me quite a bit, so I just shut my eyes and convinced myself that if the bus fell over, I wouldn't be hurt that bad. On the bus I met a French girl (she and her friends were French, and she let me get up to go to the bathroom and I said Merci because hell if I know what language I'm supposed to be speaking, and then we started talking). She and her friends are all med students that have traveled in South Asia, Africa, and now here (and Europe, of course). We only talked for a bit, but she was nice and it's always good to talk to someone other than myself.

At the bus station in Puno, someone from my hostel was waiting with a sign saying "Kelly Rollan." I sure hope that was me, otherwise some other sad foreigner is still waiting for a ride. We got to the hotel and I have my own HUGE room, HUGE bed, bathroom, and free breakfast for ten dollars. I LOVE South America. I'm staying here for two nights, and so happy. It looks like a regular nice hotel, just without the fancy mini-soap and shampoo (and towel). So life is good on that front...

After settling in, I went travel-agency shopping for my trip to Lake Titicaca tomorrow. Lots of people do an overnight stay on one of the islands, which I REALLY want to do... but none of them get back till 3:30 or 4pm, and my bus to Arequipa leaves at 3pm on Weds. Definitely not worth missing, as I've already paid for the bus to Lima and it's tight schedule-wise as is (I just realized that if the bus takes 6 hours again, I'll only have a 30 min layover in Arequipa, which is fine, as long as it doesn't take any longer and I get stuck out there. That would be miserable). So anywho, after visiting 5 or so agencies, I found one for a full day for 35 soles (just under 12 bucks), and the girls were really helpful and nice, so that sealed the deal. They are SO amazing, in fact, then when I asked what I should do Weds morning, they suggested a place to go and I said I was a little nervous about going alone and making it back in time for my bus. So one of them said one of the two of them could come with me, not as a guide- just as a friend, to help me find all the right places. This made me so happy - I love when people are that nice. Everyone in Peru has been really great, and I really hope Weds works out so they can come.

After I organized my tour, I just walked around town. Saw the cathedral, some other parks, churches, and when window shopping. I did buy one scarf that I bartered for with an 11 year old. That was weird. Oh, I'm wearing leather-y looking shoes today, and some freaking 5 yr old followed me for 5 minutes asking to polish my shoes. Dude, I am not the shoe-polishing type. It was so annoying, so see if I ever try to look decent again. I walked around for about an hour trying to find a dinner place that was recommended in Lonely Planet. I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist, or is now invisible. I ended up eating pizza and soup at a cute little place off the touristy street. They loured me in with a free pisco sour, but the pizza was actually amazing. Originally I was sitting upstairs with two Frenchmen who were smoking... it was so awful I moved downstairs and another Peruvian lady let me sit at her table! ha. Sometimes smoke doesn't bother me that much, but I was using my scarf as a filter and it was still really horrible. So I very much enjoyed sitting downstairs. After dinner I headed back to the hotel (9pm is my self-imposed curfew), and after this update I'll go unwind with some TV and head to bed. Got to get up at 6am tomorrow to get ready for the trip on the water. Ha, I can't believe I'm here!! I can't wait to tell my middle school geography teacher. I'm really excited to see the islands and get lots of good pics tomorrow. I get back around 5pm, after which I'll go meet up with my new travel agency friends to make plans for Weds, then I'm sure I'll have an exciting update for tomorrow (let's hope so).

Hope everyone has a great night... adios.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

There is no Nutella in Peru...

That is my lesson for the day. But I will get to how I learned that via the tales of my adventures as of late (I will skip Machu Picchu for now because if I try to catch up on everything, I will end up writing nothing at all bc there is just so much). So, I took my long-A ride to Arequipa last night. I was not a happy camper at the beginning of this viaje because I think I had my first true ¨the gringa got taken advantage of¨situation. Jose Luis called me a cab from outside our apartment. Jose Luis said it should cost 10 soles at the maximo, yet this guy said it would be 12. I didn't argue.. whatever. So he makes me pay halfway through the ride, which is odd, but again... whatever. So we exit for the Cruz del Sur Bus terminal, and we pass it. I notice this but didn't say anything beacuse I thought surely he'd drop me off around the back. Well about half a kilometer later he goes ¨here we are¨ at some other travel agency. I was like.. um NO señor, it is back there... and then he just pulled a bunch of BS about how he couldn't turn around (it was a one-way street, however that doesn`t mean he couldn`t have turned). I told him to give me 2 soles back then, and he got all offended and said he was a Taxista de confianza and blah balh and I just got really angry and told him off in Spanish (the best I could) and grabbed my crap and started walking. I was livid, and it really made me not want to take this trip. Fortunately things are much better now, but that damn taxi driver deserves to have his tires slashed.

So on a lighter note... :)

My bus ride to Arequipa ended up only being 15 hours instead of 19- a HUGE plus because it would've cut into my day to get here at 130pm considering the sun goes down at 6pm. Now, the bus ride itself... horrible. I got to choose my seat- so I was in the first row of the upstairs part, which was great because lots of leg room and windows (that I spent less than 60 sec looking out of the whole trip). BUT, my co-pilot at the front left of the bus was an 8 year old in a early 90's gansta jacket and who had to sit on the edge of his seat the whole trip to make sure he was blocking my view of the TV. Granted, it was much better to have a child next to me than ANY other form of human being (because I totally took advantage of the leg room he couldn't fill and he didn't scream or anything), but still- any excuse I had to be mad at him just for being a kid, I used (he started rolling towards me while we were ¨sleeping¨... not cool). We got served Peruvian dinner on a metal tray, watched Collateral, played Bingo (my 3rd time with this bus company, and my 3rd time to lose), and then lights out. Do you KNOW how loud a double decker bus can be?? I didn't. I swear we just made our own shortcut through the desert at some part, because the whole dang bus was shaking like crazy and the TVs rattled so loud it hurt my ears. It was a ridiculous amount of noise, but all together I got at least 6 hours of sleep, so whatever. They woke us up at 730am with Madagascar 2, which was entertaining (at least the parts when I could see through the kid were). Then we got to Arequipa. My hostel owner met me at the station, which was wonderful. We then arrived at the hostel, and I have my own room and bathroom for 30 soles (ten dollars). I put up all my stuff then went to the Monastery in town, which is kind of the main attraction. I surprisingly paid for a tour guide (looking at a bunch of empty rooms just doesn't make sense unless someone can tell you what they were), and I took a lot of pictures. It was really pretty. Arequipa is surrounded by 3 volcanoes, so I got some good pics of those. After the monastery I got lunch. I decided since I am lonely and this is the last hurrah before Peru is over, I'm going to enjoy myself as much as possible (within reason). So I got some typical Peruvian food on top of a building in the Plaza de Armas (main square). It was a stuffed Peruvian pepper with meat and raisins and cheese, and yellow pepper sauce and some potatoes. And some Cusqueña beer. Ohhh yeah it was good. I paid right as the Peruvian flute band started playing, and then just walked around town. Being Sunday, everything I wanted to see was either closed or closed at 3pm. I didn't finish lunch till about 230pm, so I had bad luck there. I at least got a good tour of the city by foot (which is BEAUTIFUL, all the buildings are made of volcanic stone and are white and it`s relatively clean here). I decided to spend the afternoon shopping (because I haven't yet, really), and that was fun. At 6pm I got to go inside the Cathedral and check it out. It has various parts from all over the world and was really pretty.

For dinner, I went all out. I don't care... I ate one PB sandwich and Gatorade all during my last trip- I'm tired of talking to myself in my hostel room... thus, I'll eat what I want! :) I went to a French-Peruvian restaurant called Zig Zag. It was nice enough that when I walked in they asked if I had reservations, and naturally... I did not. Had they asked "Have you showered in the last 24 hours?" or "Have you been wearing that t-shirt and jeans for the last week?" or "Can you afford to eat here??" the answers would've been no, yes, no... but they didn't ask, so booyah. The spiral staircase inside was designed by Gustave Eiffel, which I thought was really cool. I got a glass of "Trilogie" - a red wine from Argentina, and yep- ostrich with roquefort sauce and fried yucca. I wanted to get something French-ish (hence roquefort sauce), and the options were beef, ostrich, or alpaca. I've heard alpaca is like pork, and I've never tried ostrich, so there ya go. The yucca was my choice too- and it's delicious. The meal was great, I got my free olives and cheese and bread with anchovy butter and ohh free salad, and this delicious dinner. I sat in a corner by the window, so people tried to come sit at my table a few times ("don't mind me, eating alone... again!" ha) but I really didn't care. I just bring a book with me and talk to my waiters and enjoy my food and the view. It was truly wonderful, and actually, for everything I got (make that 2 glasses of Trilogie), it was only 22 bucks after tip. That is a STEAL, and definitely worth treating myself. I'll be at altitude again tomorrow, so probably won't be able to eat till Thursday... so I'm glad to go out with a bang :) Oh right, so they had a sister crepe-restaurant where I was REALLY going to splurge with a Nutella crepe, but alas- apparently Nutella is not yet in Peru and it is only on the menu for when it gets here. I think it's a sin to tease someone with that kind of advertisement.

Alright, I need to get packing. I leave my hostel at 7am tomorrow... yaaay :( Then just 5 hours later I will be in Puno and in the land of Titicaca. My hostel owner is picking me up there, too.. so that is good. The owner here is awesome and arranged it for me. She said if I don't like it I can just go to another place, but it's only ten bucks a night, so worth checking out.

Hope everyone is well, I miss you guys.. and only have 5 days left here!! aah :( I won't think about that for now. Hasta luego.

in Arequipa

I survived the bus ride... though I had my doubts during. I'm at my hostel now, for 10 bucks I have my own room and bathroom. For 6 I couldve had a shared room, so I am honestly kind of sad about spending the extra 4 dollars... but I think I'll get over it (I've been pinching pennies for so long, it's hard to rationalize any extra expenditures!!). They have the world's deepest canyon here, but I dont have enough time to go. There is a really nice monastery apparently, so I'm going to go visit that and get some lunch and see the town. I have a bus to Puno in the morning at 8am and will have half a day there, then Lake Titicaca on Weds all day and probably again Thursday morning (apparently there isn't much to do in Puno, but there are lots of islands on the lake!). And then I leave Weds at 3pm to come back to Arequipa, then leave Arequipa at 930pm to Lima, get in around 1pm on Thursday. Then Jason and I have our last night together in Lima :( I am pretty sad about leaving him to come here, but he has so much work at the hospital (he had to go in yesterday and today), that I would definitely be bored and go crazy stuck in the apartment all day. I just wish I'd planned better so I could've flown and not spent almost 2 whole days in transit. Oh well, nothing I can do now. Better get off my butt and start exploring! adios...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

changed mind.

I'm going to Arequipa, the computer is staying here. Too much hassle for 3 hours of use. So no blog updates from me! See everyone in 20+ hours... :(

To Arequipa I go...

I got everything sorted out, and have a NINETEEN hour bus ride ahead of me tonight. ugh ugh ugh. Not fun. But it was only 30 dollars, and the flights were near $400 because I just decided to go (of course). The bonuses: free "hotel" night, free meals, and lots of movies ahead of me. There is also Internet on the bus- so I am bringing my laptop, but there is no way to charge computers (go figure). So I will have about 3 hours of fun spread out throughout the journey. I don't have a hostel booked in Arequipa yet- I've emailed quite a few with no response. I have a list of ones I like though, so when I get to Arequipa I'm just going to tell the taxi to take me there and hope they have a bed I can use. I'll be able to book in Puno from there, hopefully.

This is definitely going to be another adventure. I hate that I can't charge my computer on the bus- I would be a LOT more productive with my planning if I could. But I guess at this point I can at least catch up on the blog or something. Time for me to get packing so I can head to the bus station in an hour. Adios for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm back in Miraflores. Tired, but happy for one of the best trips ever. I'm kind of frustrated at the moment- I finally committed to buying bus tickets to Arequipa and Puno, and naturally- you have to buy them at least 24 hrs in advance (online at least, and the bus leaves at 6pm tomorrow. It's now 11pm). So I need to get up early and call the bus station or go there and see what I can do. Daaaang it.

I'm really tired, so going to get to bed so I can start this mess tomorrow. MP stories and pictures will happen some day- I have to keep everyone in suspense! (and I need to not be so tired when writing). Here's some pics for now... hope you enjoy. Buenas noches.

Rafting on the Urubamba: See that red helmet in the water? Yeah, that's me.

My "Chandler" smile... this is an awful picture, but I think it's hilarious because it was the best smile I could conjure up after one of the scariest days of my life. Fail.

Hey there, sunshine.


Me at Machu Picchu!! (Yes, I'm leaving out "the picture" that everyone takes till I have time to better describe my entire trip) :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I didn't fall off!!!

I'm back from Machu Picchu... I'm basically a changed woman (changed how? well I'll probably just be more bitter to not be in Peru for a long time now). It was absolutely amazing though, and even though I spent my entire time there just at the ruins themselves and not on hikes (to the Gateway of the Sun or the Inca Bridge), I still could've soaked them up for many more hours.

Right now I'm back in Cusco, though, and once again have succombed to the altitude. About 30 sec after getting off the train my head started hurting, and I asked my cab driver if Cusco is higher than MP, and of course - it is. I did manage to eat my first meal since Tuesday morning, however about halfway through I felt insanely full and gave up. The point being- my head is throbbing and I'm too tired to give justice to how great the trip was, so I just will tomorrow when back in Lima and when I can also post pictures.

Buenas noches.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

aguas calientes

I´m in Machu Picchu Pueblo. I think the town is very cute - it´s super touristy, but that is almost a nice break from the "city-ness" of Lima. I can maybe buy some souvenoirs afterall! (despite the fact I have very little money left... yikes).

I feel somewhat better today, very bruised and not 100% (my knee and foot hurt, which ought to make hiking even more fun tomorrow). I'm really only battling the altitude now. I haven't been able to eat because I'm just not hungry, so I'm drinking Gatorades to try to stay hydrated and get some sugar in me. I am undecided if I want to hike Wayna Picchu. I really, really do... but with my luck and fear of heights, I dread something horrible happening. I'm going to get some local's opinions on what to do, and then we'll see what I do.

I think I'm just going to take today easy. I wanted to do some hiking around A.G, but MAN you get winded fast here. Last thing I want is to wear myself out so that tomorrow is miserable. I'm getting up at like 5am to get ready, grab breakfast (hopefully), and get on the bus. I just tried to buy an entry pass with my international student ID from Spain (which expired in 2006), and they called me out on it. I'll try one more time later, then just buck up and pay. Buying the card costs as much as I would save, so that is why I didn't.

Alright- the internet cafe isn't getting any cheaper, so I'm going to do some meandering around this tiny town. Hope everyone is well... keep me in your thoughts that tomorrow goes safely (an abnormal request probably, but necessary considering all the stuff that has happened so far). Ciao.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never again.

well my rafting days are over. i experienced 2.5 hours too much of them today anyways. holy cow. i think i´m going to die soon... i really do. first of all, my intestines stopped working, so that has made me feel wonderful. i´m also at altitude, which even though i was okay all day, i have the worst headache ever now. oh wait, that´s probably because instead of taking it easy like i was supposed to do, i went rafting. cuss cuss cuss. i left my hostel at 830, never took a nap (oh right, so i am sleep deprived in addition to all this). found the place, signed up to go, and voila. 2 hrs later we were at the urubumba river... now, we didnt know if we´d make it because the farmers are striking against the govt by putting large boulders in all the roads. but we made a path using all the lanes and rocky cliffs (or, curbs??). we got situated, then there were locals protesting on a bridge over the river, so they were dropping large pieces of wood in our direction in an effort to ruin the bridge and ruin us. no one got hit, but it wasn´t a comfortable situation.

basically, we had cat 1, 2, and 3 plus rapids. i didnt think it would be that bad, and it shouldn´t have been, but it is the dry season so allll the rocks are exposed. we got stuck at least 7 times. everything was great until about an hour in, we hit a cat 3 and my boat didnt paddle hard enough, and thus, we flipped. like everything else in peru, i have only hyperventilated once before. today made the 2nd time. no one flips over on the nice, low-rocks rapids.. just the ones with huge 5 ton boulders and really fast water. i was crying my eyes out, trying not to panic (i actually did the correct recovery position), and just held on to the ropes of the upside down raft. the guide grabbed me and two other girls by our life jacket and tossed us on the upside raft. he then, with one paddle, tried to steer us out of this mess... the many "oh shit!!!"s didnt help. we finally got to the side of the shore, flipped the boat over, then a cool 5 min later we got stuck on another boulder. now, i´d done my best to be calm, realizing that panicking after the flip would only cause more problems... but this REALLY did me in. we´re on this freaking huge boulder, all us of holding on to the rope on the left top side of the raft, we´re up to our shoulders in water being sucked under, and he tells me "you, get out of the raft and sit on this rock." HELL NO! I said no like 5 times, while crying hysterically again, and he just grabbed me and stuck me on the rock (of my select fears, slimy rocks are actually one of them). they had me and another girl jump in a different raft after this ordeal, the boat finally came loose, and we continued... for another hour plus. it was awful- i wish i was cooler and could say i enjoyed it, but nothing about almost being smashed to pieces and drowning at the same time is something i want to remember fondly. terrible. terible. however u say "terrible" in french. it was.

we finally ate some lunch, i could only stomach soup despite the fact it was now 4pm and i last ate at 6am. we drove back to cusco, i got a coca tea while waiting for a CD of the pics to be. so thus, i will leave u with those. i think my facial expressions do the talking.

**ten minutos later**

uggh nevermind. this internet is taking too slow and i need to sleep. getting up at 550am tomorrow. sorry my typing sucks, this keyboard has no letters on it and is in spanish, so i do lots of guessing and poking.

in cusco

and holy cow it is freezing! my hostel is awesome... the location isn´t ideal i guess, but i have free internet and my own room for 12 bucks. i might power nap for 20 min then walk to the plaza de armas to get on the rafting trip.

i got up at 230am to run up and down the stairs. that was pleasant since i fell asleep at 1am. i was going to sleep on the plane, but they called Keliiiyynn Rawla and said We are changing your seat, and i was magically upgraded to business class. apparently some kid wanted to sit by its mom... Fine with me. I enjoyed my free breakfast and TV. the hostel never sent a taxi to pick me up, but i got a ride here for 20 soles so whatever. okay. sleep time, then rafting.

hasta luego!

Monday, June 15, 2009


My computer never fully charged today... probably because I'm too impatient to stay off of it for more than 45 min (I stayed at home all day- the earthquake just shook me up! ahha.ha.ha.). In all seriousness, I have been very lazy today. I was just really tired, and wanted to rest up before this long trip ahead of me. I have to leave the apartment at 3:30am to catch my flight! AAHH that is unpleasant. So I will be going to bed, soon. I leave at 5:49am and arrive in Cusco at 7:14am. My hostel is going to pick me up, then I'll go get ready for my first adventure- white water rafting! Yes, I just made this decision a few hours ago. I had played around with the idea, and today wrote many companies to see if I could join a tour, and as none of them wrote me back till 6:30pm I started to REALLY want to go. Someone said "yeah just meet us at the office" - so for $33 I have a trip to the Urubamba River planned, will be on the river for 2.5 hours, get lunch, visit a camping site, then head back to Cusco by 5pm. I am SO excited. I'll have the evening in Cusco, then leave at 7:52am on Wednesday to head to Aguas Calientes. I get there around noon, will check into my hotel and just hang out and do some hiking during the afternoon. On Thursday, I'll get up at 4:15am (gah), eat breakfast, then get in line for a bus up to MP around 5am. From there I'll be able to watch the sunrise and hang out. My plan is to hike Wayna Picchu- I am terrified as I am scared of heights and there are apparently many cliffs with LONG drops (the kind you die from), but oh well! I have to do it. If I can join in a group tour at the main part of MP, I probably will (price depending). Although I enjoy exploring on my own, I also enjoy the information I could never learn just looking at the ruins by myself. I have the entire day to live it up, so it should be fine to spend a few hours learning.

I plan on taking the walk down from MP back to AG. Then I'll catch my train back to Cusco. I have all that night and the first half of Friday to explore Cusco, so I'll do that then. I fly back to Lima at 3:30pm on Friday.

Another twist in my plans is I think I'm goin to squeeze in a trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Why the heck not? I did the math on bus tickets, tours, and hostels, and I can make out with about $300 ($400 max). The money it would cost to get back down here would be 4 times that (or more), so I think I'm going to do it. Jason and his medical friends were going to the jungle next weekend, and I was going to join, but it's too dangerous because the natives "protesting" and killing police officers (by jabbing spears in their necks... yikes). So that trip is canceled, but it got me itching to go somewhere else while I'm here... THUS- Lake Titicaca. I kind of need to finalize these plans tonight if I want to buy the bus tickets and everything, but I could go Saturday afternoon, spend Sunday in Arequipa (which has been highly recommended to me), go to Puno on Monday and spend the afternoon there, take a day tour of Lake Titicaca and Taquile island on Tuesday, then take a 1/2 day tour of the Uros floating islands on Wednesday, catch bus back to Arequipa at 3pm on Wednesday, then overnight it to Lima and arrive back here at 12:30pm Thursday. I leave Peru for good that Friday, so I am sad about not spending more tme in Lima... but I've done most of what I want to do in Lima, I'll have 2 more days to do stuff (which really, is plenty), and if I do stay here for that whole time, I will be back sitting in the apartment listening to cars honk. Sooo I think I'm going to do it!

Either way- I'm so so excited for this trip to Cusco. Wish me luck. I'll post if able from an internet cafe to let people know I'm alive. Please feel free to write me an email any time at I enjoy writing all this stuff, but I have no idea who even reads this blog, and well- I always enjoy hearing from my friends :)

Ten cuidado!

Nazca Lines

Our adventure weekend started at 4:45am on Saturday morning... that is when I got up to run up and down our staircase in an effort to squeeze in a workout before sitting on a bus for 7 hours. It's Monday now, and my legs still hurt- but at least I know I did something productive :)

Our tour company arranged for all transport for us (which was VERY nice), so someone picked us up at 6am from our apartment. From there we went to the bus station and boarded the bus, then left Lima at 7:00am. We stopped in Paracas around 10:30am to drop off some people, then went to Ica (which was 2 hours away). We really had some confusion during the trip because our tour company assured us people would be "picking us up" from each location, but when there are multiple stops, it can get kind of nerve-wracking. So, we randomly stopped at a hotel called Las Dunas in Ica, and someone was standing there with a sign that said "Jason Burnham x 2." We got off, then got in a private car with our tour guide and a driver. We then drove to Nasca (another 2 hours away).

On the bus at 7am.

Buen viaje! Peruvian tollbooth

A very scary tunnel on the Pan-American highway.

We stopped a few times during our drive- we got to learn some really neat things about different provinces in the area and the surrounding environments. One of the best views was of the Rio Grande Valley. This then changed to the desert where the lines are found, which is part of the Atacama Desert (the 2nd driest in the world). They get like 2-6cm of rain during the entire year, which is why the lines have been preserved for so long.

Standing in front of the [Peruvian] Rio Grande Valley

The valley

Some houses

Cathedral in Palpa, Peru. The main income of these parts of Peru is agriculture; they are the 2nd leading producer of asparagus, and they also grow oranges, artichokes, and a ton of other products that are shipped all over the world. We learned that for this reason, Peru isn't as affected by the economic crisis as other countries, because everybody loves them some asparagus no matter how bad it gets.

There are some rock drawings on that hill from the Paracas Indians, who lived before the Nasca Indians... so a long freakin time ago (before 500-200 BCE). If you can tell, there is a little man on one of the slopes, then a family of people near the far left slope. All the tops of the rocks are black because they are full of iron-oxide. The desert is red/black depending on the rocks' exposure to the sun. The rocks absorb the heat all day, and so even when there are wind currents, the layer of heat being released from the rocks protects them from being disturbed by the wind.

For those that don't know much about the Nazca Lines (or Lineas de Nasca), they are a bunch of figures and geometric shapes in the desert that have existed for over 2000 years. No one really understand their purpose; there are figures of animals, as well as many, MANY lines in all kinds of directions. I think the most rational explanation is that they were used for rituals, and also sites for collecting water (with ceramics such as those below) during the 4 hours of rain each year. The Nasca Indians also collected trophy heads, so perhaps they were sites of sacrifice. They are thought to be a calendar, as some of the lines line up directly with the setting of the sun during the Winter Equinox, but only 25% of the figures line up with the stars, so there is something else going on that no one understands. Of course, there is always the theory that they are alien runways (which a fair amount of people believe in).

The lines were made my scraping away the red pebbles of the desert and exposing the white clay that lies beneath. Because of the climate of the area, they have been preserved all this time. What is truly amazing is that the desert is flat, and there is no known way the Nasca Indians could have seen what the lines looked like from a higher location. It is possible they constructed hot air balloons to observe them, but to build them it would've been far too windy to stay in one position to make the designs as accurate as they are. There were wooden stakes found in some of the lines, so they possibly designed the figures ahead of time and then just scraped away the rocks- but regardless, it is extremely impressive they were able to construct these figures (that are up to 200m large). No one really knew they existed until the last century, and they probably wouldn't even be cared about if not for Maria Reiche. Here are some pictures from her museum.

Maria Reiche was a German woman who dedicated her life to understanding the Nasca Lines. She walked along the lines almost every day for 50 years to try to understand their meaning. This little museum was also where she lived (she died in 1998)- and this is her actual drawing of the lines (under a piece of glass on the wall, in an open-air museum). My guess is this will be in a fancy air-conditioned museum one day, but for now no one cares enough about the lines to do anything.

These are the actual tape-measurers she used to scale the lines... also just sitting in this little museum.

These pots are over 2000 years old. We probably could've taken one if we wanted and no one would notice. The Nascas polished their ceramics by using the oil from their faces... all these were found along the lines.

Look-out tower to see the "hands" and a "tree." This is right off the Pan-American highway... the highway destroyed one of the drawings, because no one even really cared about them till a few decades ago. There are tire marks over many of them, which is absurd considering they are around 2000 years old and cars in the last few years are their biggest threat.

The Tree from the look-out. It's upside down here.

Walking down the tower, and quite thankful (those stairs were steep).

This is at the Nasca airport. It only serves tourists over the lines.

Very nervous about riding in the plane that was smaller than my car, plus wings. I don't care if my dad and his parents were all pilots... I'm not yet convinced being more than a few feet off the ground is natural.

Our awesome pilot on the left and another Dutch tourist on the right.

Here's a look at the lines: this is the Monkey (you can see his tail that is a huge spiral, and his head is towards the right bottom).

The "Astronaut" - this is why people believe aliens drew these lines. I think it's a person that is just fat, or maybe the Michelin Man... but it is still pretty impressive.

This is the "Condor"... one of my favorites. His beak is pointing towards the bottom and his wings are pretty centered, towards the bottom.

There is the wing. Pointing directly at the ground. I'm pretty sure there is a whale in this picture being cut in half by the line going down towards the bottom left. I'm not sure, but at least you can get a feeling of our "view" the whole time (by the way, airplanes should not be allowed to fly at such angles).

Wing again, that big wide strip is one of the geometric shapes. All those other straight lines are theirs, too.

The Spider

So happy to be on sweet, sweet ground.

I have a lot more pictures if anyone wants them. The flight was quite interesting, at first I was nervous because I'd never been in a cessna. Then I was nervous because the pilot kept turning all the way around to talk to us about the lines. Once I convinced myself he wasn't going to run into anything in the sky, I calmed down... and then motion sickness set in. You see, to show us the lines, he turned the plane completely sideways, then would turn very quickly and do the same for the other side of the plane. We saw 12 figures in 35 min- so this got old, very fast. I'm not abnormally susceptible to motion sickness, but I do get it- especially when trying to focus on a camera while the world is going by me very fast below. So, after the "astronaut pic"- I didn't even look with the camera. I just took a ton of pictures hoping that the figures would get in one of them. The pilot kept turning around to ask "is everything okay" - and other than me being green and holding vomit in my mouth, I was. I mean, my headache went away about 3 hours later (then came back a few hours after that). Oh well- I'm so glad we did it, and now I won't have to ever again :)

We got lunch in Nasca after the flight (at um... 4:30pm), then took the 2 hour drive back to Ica, then 50 min to Paracas. Our hotel was really nice (not like a Hilton), but your average 3 star Latin American shack-up. We were about 100m from the ocean, so that was cool, too. It was about 9pm when we got to Paracas, so we snacked on PB&Js and went to bed to get up early on Sunday.

My computer is about to die (something about using it while charging is impossible with the power converter...) so I'm going to let it charge and will talk about Sunday fun later on.


Well here's a first... I was in an earthquake. It hit Chincha Alta, which is just 35 km north of the city we visited on Saturday, and probably ~50km away from where we stayed Saturday night (Lima is 125 miles/200km away to give you an idea of how strong it was). There was a devastating earthquake in that region in 2007, and the infrastructure of some cities still hasn't recovered (evident by the fact we had to walk to our bus station yesterday because some of the roads are still being rebuilt). As far as I can tell, no one was hurt today... it was a 5.4 or 4.9 on the Richter Scale (I say "or" because different articles are reporting different numbers). All the news results are in Spanish and pretty short since it just happened at 8:04am, so we'll see as time goes on what the news says.

Basically, at 8:03am I was sleeping (I'm no fool)... then at 8:04am I woke up. In my haze I was thinking "who the heck is shaking the bed"... and it kept shaking, and shaking, and shaking. It wasn't violent or anything, just felt like someone was pushing on the side... a lot. After a few seconds, I thought "holy crap, this is an earthquake." None of the curtains or plants or anything else were shaking though, so I thought that was kind of odd, but I just stayed in bed for the 20-30 seconds it lasted. Immediately after it stopped, I grapped my computer to get on the U.S. Geological Survey website to see if it had in fact recorded an earthquake. For about 20 min, nothing was coming up on the computer (they have it coded with quakes in the last hour, day, and week). I thought "okay, maybe I am crazy... maybe just the construction going on around the building shook the bed, or I ate a crazy Peruvian herb that makes me hallucinate." Either way, I reported on the site under the "You felt it?" section (hey, it's not like I get this chance often...) then, around 8:40am it popped up "5.4 in Chincha Alta." I was proud of myself of diagnosing the trembles an earthquake (I guess because there have been some in DFW lately and we learned about the one in Ica yesterday, so they're just on my mind). I looked down on the street and no one seemed to notice- Jason was at work and said he didn't feel anything... so I guess I can just thank the shoddy bed we have for picking up vibrations that were 125 miles away.

I really hope everyone is okay down towards Ica, but it is kind of cool I got to experience my first earthquake down here. With my luck, there will probably be the very first tornado ever at Machu Picchu on Thursday... we'll just have to wait and see. I'll post about the weekend in a few hours; got to get to my cereal and TV watching to prep my mind. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back in Miraflores...

Just a brief update for tonight... apparently I have a new boyfriend. While physical appearance may be deceiving, the person I spent my weekend with voluntarily flow in a cessna over the desert, and just a short 18 hours later, went on a 2 hour boat ride (also voluntary) without getting sick. Did I mention we're in South America?! This cannot be the J.P. Burnham so many of us know and love. He hasn't eaten any pork since we've been here, so no brain parasites inhibiting his mental capacity... I guess med school has brought out his craazzzy side ;) No worries- the collared shirts still made it across the equator. (Yes, Berg and Mateo, that was all for you...)

We had a great but VERY busy weekend. I have a lot to write about, but am very tired. Thus, I will leave you with snapshots of our weekend, and let the suspense brew until I'm able to fill in the gaps tomorrow (which will likely be before anyone checks this anyways, but at least you know we're home).