Category Archives: South America

In Search of: The Lost Files Part 2 (Videos from Peru)

Several weeks back, I posted the first in a set of video diaries I made when traveling in Peru. My friend, Christy, and I were acting a fool, making all sorts of silly videos. It was kind of awesome. I posted the first in that set of video diaries here. And I feel like it’s time to post the next.

I’ll warn you, there’s a bit of rambling (and did I mention the ridiculousness?!?). These videos crack me up so much, I really want to keep them in their original form. So I’m not editing and just posting as the thought strikes me. Anyhow, I hope you get a good laugh!

Peru Day 2 from Heather Rae on Vimeo.

And in case that wasn’t enough ridiculousness, you’ve really got to check out this lovely video of our singing.


Peru Day 2: Dancing in the Streets from Heather Rae on Vimeo.

Also posted in Peru Tagged |

In Search of: The Lost Files (Videos from Cusco, Peru)

Back in April 2012, my awesome travel friend, Christy, and I went to Peru. We spent a week making our way from Cusco to Machu Picchu and back (and then I ran off to the Amazon while Christy headed home). It was amazing. Truly, I loved that trip!

The other day, while putting together my 2013 year-in-review, I stumbled across a set of video diaries we did while there. I was so mesmerized, I watched them all. Why? Because they were hilarious, and we were ridiculous, and I sort of love that.

Anyhow, I decided I’m going to share them…unedited. Which means you are truly going to see me acting a fool. (Just don’t tell anyone, okay?)

Without further ado, here’s the first in the line of videos.

Video Diary Numero Uno — Cusco, Peru

Video Diary Numero Uno — Cusco, Peru from Heather Rae on Vimeo.

Also posted in Peru Tagged |

In Search of: Moldy Rooms and the Urubamba River

After a couple days in Cusco, it was time to move on.  Christy and I took a shared taxi out of town to a place called Ollantaytambo.  This was where we would hop on the train and head to Aguas Calientes, our next stop and the town to stay in if you’re going to Machu Picchu.  The drive to Ollantaytambo was impressive.  I had no idea Peru was full of rolling hills.  And the wildflowers!  Who knew there would be so many wildflowers?  Several times, I was tempted to ask the shuttle driver to pull to the side of the road so I could run in the fields, singing The Sound of Music soundtrack.  I held back though.

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The shuttle driver plugged his flash drive into the van’s stereo system, and we found ourselves singing along to 80’s music.  Most notably, Bon Jovi and Belinda Carlisle.  Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth?  Ooh, heaven is a place on Earth.  And I must agree.  The rolling fields did seem a bit like heaven.

When we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we were greeted by rain.  We donned the ponchos and followed a lady waiting at the train station through a maze of shops in the outdoor craft market and up several streets to our hostel.  And when I say up, I do mean up.  By the time we arrived at the hostel I was pretty sure I’d just completed a hike.  The roads in that city are STEEP.  They are also full of holes (at least during our time there).  The holes were made by construction crews.  They seemed to be redoing the underground pipes.  One can only hope such work improves Aguas Calientes.  After spending a few hours there, we were inclined to refer to the whole place as a “hole.”

We stayed at the Pirwa Bed and Breakfast.  I do NOT recommend the place.  Granted, from what I’ve heard, I’m not sure any hostel in that town is worth a recommendation.  Perhaps the $300 a night hotel near the river would be suitable.  Too bad I don’t care to spend $300 a night.  It was clean — I’ll give it that.  But everything was musty and moldy, the ventilation was terrible, the service was mediocre, and the noise was atrocious.  The breakfast, however, was actually pretty good.  So at least there was that.

After feeling thoroughly depressed about our move from the super cute Mallqui Hostal in Cusco to this place, we decided we obviously needed to get out and explore.  We were determined to find the bright side.  And a bright side there was.  We found a lovely restaurant near the train station that served scrumptious vegetable soup and avocado salad, after which we wandered down to the river that runs through town, the Urubamba.  The Urubamba river is quite breathtaking.  And we spent the better part of the evening singing, dancing and taking pictures.

As the day came to a close, we were excited to return to our hostel in anticipation of Machu Picchu in the morning.  Yes!  Machu Picchu — sort of the whole point of the trip!  We were ecstatic, moldy room and all.

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In Search of: Postcards from Cusco, Peru (and some rambling…)

As the school year approaches its end, I have come to find myself…completely and UTTERLY exhausted!  Wow.  The students are great.  Really, they are.  Except as the countdown ticks on, I find myself wanting to strangle them — on the regular.  I mean, seriously, the looks on my face when they smart off like typical teenagers — the looks are priceless.  I’ve noticed my patience growing thinner.  There is good reason for 9 month school years (or 10, as in my case).  Because, otherwise, more and more teachers would end up in jail.  (Hey.  Don’t knock me.  If you’re a teacher, you 100% understand.)  I love those kids.  And I NEED to get away from them.  Thank goodness for summer break and hikes to Mt. Whitney and trips to Central America!  Woot!  It keeps me going at this moment — it really does.  (8.5 work days to freedom!)

So anyway, in an effort to take my mind mentally as far away from students and tests and lectures and school rules as possible — let’s talk Peru!

Would you believe I’m STILL editing Peru pictures.  For a two week trip, I sure did get camera happy.  In all, I took about 2,000 photos.  Granted, I trashed several hundred after going through them all.  Many were duplicates and practice shots as I worked to get more comfortable with the fancy camera.  Taking the pictures was amazingly fun, and although I love the challenge of organizing and editing on occasion, this ridiculously large quantity has been a pain in the ass.

Regardless.  Cusco, Peru easily became one of my favorite travel cities.  Granted, I have A LOT of favorite travel cities.  I love anything that’s different from my own city (isn’t that half the purpose of traveling?).  But what I loved about Cusco was it’s small town feel even though it was relatively large (for a Peruvian city, anyhow).  Walking the city wasn’t an enormous undertaking.  It felt more like a stroll.  Because of this, we unknowingly put lots of miles on our walking shoes as we meandered.  Although this tired me out at the time, I promise, it was worth every last mile.  That city will stick with me for sure.

Without further rambling, allow me to introduce you to my latest idea:  postcards!  Yes, some photo faves are being turned into postcards.  These postcards are from the second day of the Peru trip — where else but Cusco!  They have a bit of a vintage/artsy look to them (well, most of them).  I’m just playing around and having fun, experimenting.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.  Expect more postcards of other favorite travel photos to come!

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In Search of: An Actual Post on ISOS

Wow.  My writing lately has been appalling.  Particularly because there hasn’t been any.  How do I begin to catch up?  I suppose the obvious way — just write.  So here I am, sitting in bed, computer on lap, punching the keys.  I feel a little squeaky and out of practice.  Likely because I am.

I’m running myself a bit ragged at the moment.  It doesn’t help that since I returned from Peru, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about the downside of travel — sickness.  Be it the accidental drinking of parasite infested water, the bite of a nasty mosquito or the germs hobnobbing with your nose on the airplane, it’s easy to get sick when away from home.  I’ve been fighting a feisty bug the last few weeks.  I think it’s finally gone, but I say that with discretion.  I thought it was gone after the first week, and then the week after.  I have now reverted to cautious optimism.

But, anyhow, back to running myself ragged.  At present, we’re in the home stretch at school.  I’m not exactly sure how the end of the school year crept up on me, but it’s here with a vengeance, and I’ve got about 13,000 topics still to cover.  Obviously I’ll only be able to cover 9, 899 of them.  I’m also attempting to figure out how to develop lectures and videos to include in my curriculum next year.  I already maintain blogs for each of my classes, and I often use other instructors’ videos to supplement class discussions and lecture.  But I’d really like to create my own.  The students know my teaching style, and they like learning directly from me.  I think it would improve my lesson plans.  Of course, I had to choose one of the most time consuming projects possible.  But then that’s me.  I like to keep things interesting.

What else, you ask?  Well, I’m feverishly editing Peru pictures.  I use the word “feverishly” rather loosely.  Mostly because I’m moving at a snail’s pace.  Initially, I blamed this on being sick.  Now, I blame it on the fact that being sick makes one rather used to NOT editing pictures.  I’m not sick anymore, yet I still didn’t get any pictures edited today.  Granted, I edited hiking pictures yesterday and baby shower pictures a few days before and Indiana pictures the day before that.  So.  I’m not lazy.  Just distracted by pictures other than those from Peru.

This weekend I’m about to head out for a work related trip.  I’m going to New York City!  This would be the cause of exceptional excitement, except, I daresay, I’m a little tired of traveling at the moment.  OMG.  Don’t tell anyone I said that!  Me?  Tired of travel?  It can’t be.  Except it kind of is.  Not so much tired of travel as just…tired.  And I’m busy planning my big trip to Guatemala and Honduras this summer.  And a handful of fantabulous hiking trips.  Honestly, I’d rather focus on those than a “work related trip.”

Ah, hell.  Now I just sound like I’m complaining.  I don’t mean to.  I feel so incredibly fortunate this year.  Things have gone so well.  I’ve been lucky to travel and learn and enjoy my teaching.  I’m happy and semi-healthy (soon to be totally and completely healthy!).  What more could a girl ask for?  Not much, I tell you.  Not much.

Also posted in Peru, Ramblings and Rants Tagged |