Browse by Category
Words For Life
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --Friedrich Nietzsche
- GO ON. Dance to the beat of your own drum.
Category Archives: Peru
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.
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.
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!
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.
When I arrived in Lima, Peru I had an agenda: find Christy. The plan was to meet during layovers in Lima then fly to Cusco. As luck would have it, Christy decided to stop and get coffee at the precise place I decided to turn a corner in the airport. She was sipping a latte (or some such contraption), reading her Kindle, when I spotted her. Woot! Vacation had begun. We talked and plotted, then boarded a plane for one last flight.
One might think two normally clean girls would want to shower and remove the grime of 24 hours of travel once arriving at their intended destination. But. We’re special. We arrived in Cusco, headed to the hostel and dropped our bags (Hostal Mallqui: super cute, nice staff, highly recommended). We knew if we took the time to settle in, we would likely get tired and not want to leave. So. Donning the clothes we had been wearing since leaving our homes the previous day, we wandered into the city. (But, hey, the dirty clothes part — that’s just between you and I. Okay?)
As soon as I walked into the city, my little heart was smitten. I took pictures of wooden doors and old stone streets and archways and big blue skies. My camera kept clicking. There was character around every corner.
After a while of walking we realized we were famished and found a restaurant called Good Chicken. We sat down and stared at the menu. It was in Spanish. Have I mentioned my Spanish is, well, appalling? It is. We proceeded to take out the travel Spanish book I ordered on Amazon prior to the trip and began to translate. After watching us for a good ten minutes, the waitress took pity and handed us English menus. Note to self: always request the English menu.
We ate. We talked. We laughed. And then we headed out for more wandering. Thousands of people gathered at Plaza de Armas — men in red cloaks, suits, hats. People carried musical instruments. Priests gathered. Unaware of the festivities, we surmised this likely wasn’t your average Monday afternoon. We later learned we had entered Cusco during their yearly festival, Senor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes), celebrated the Monday before Easter each year in commemoration of the devastating earthquake of 1650.
We soon looked up to see the sky going dark. The blazing sun of the afternoon was being replaced by heavy clouds. We took notice, yet kept going. Christy’s from Seattle. I think we can handle a little rain. We wandered through a craft market, window shopping. Thunder rumbled. Emerging from the market, the deluge began. Rain fell from the sky in sheets. We watched from an overhang as people ran from the streets, seeking cover. We repeated our mantra, we’re not afraid of a little rain, and walked to the street. Okay. Maybe the rain is a bit much. We sought a new overhang. Caught up in the flow of people seeking refuge, we found ourselves entering a cathedral. The crowd shoved and pushed and we nearly thought we’d be trampled. To be trampled in a church — something about that seems terribly wrong. Anyhow, priests ushered us inside. We scrambled through the crowd and found a seat amongst the thousands of others. But our attention spans are short. After a few minutes, we decided to try our luck. Surely the rain had subsided a bit. Or it would soon. Against the warnings of a nearby priest, we pulled up our hoods and found ourselves, yet again, in the open, in the rain.
My feet wore flip-flop sandals, the sole worn to a smooth surface. Every few feet, I slipped on the stone walkway. I walked slowly and deliberately, which unfortunately added to the amount of water my clothes took in. Water rushed down the streets, turning Cusco into a river of sorts. We wandered the streets, soggy photocopied map in hand, searching for the hostel. Some time later, we arrived and rang the buzzer for the staff to open the glass doors in front. They rushed to the doors, looked at the two travelers dressed in water and cotton, laughed, and led us inside.
We promptly walked to our room, took the longest, hottest showers the hostel would afford and ordered a heater.
Welcome to Cusco.
I just completed 2.5 weeks of travel. The first few days were in Indianapolis for a science teacher conference. I got to geek out with a bunch of other science-types, and this made me a very happy girl. Also, I’ve never been to Indiana, which moved me closer to another goal: visit every state in the U.S. Indianapolis was surprisingly lovely, and I can’t wait to share a few pictures and the goods from the trip (interestingly, I made some great travel contacts!).
At approximately midnight on a Saturday, I arrived home from Indianapolis. I did laundry, packed my bags a second time and got ready to head back to the airport. On Sunday afternoon, I stepped on a plane to begin spring break — two weeks in Peru! I couldn’t have been more excited. Seriously. My socks were ready to be knocked off. (And the trip didn’t disappoint, I assure you!)
But before I get into the awesomeness that is Peru and Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest, I have to admit I learned a fair number of lessons this time around. Let’s be honest, I’m still a newbie traveler. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I just sort of jump in, feet first, and hope there are no piranhas near. Don’t worry though. I only required a few band-aids.
Without further ado, a letter to myself (and any other newbie traveler out there that would prefer to learn lessons the easy way and allow me to make mistakes for them).
Dear Self (yes, you), a few simple instructions for travel:
- SLOW DOWN. I know you want to see everything. But that’s sort of impossible. And you’ll drive yourself insane attempting to do so. Psychiatric bills are expensive. Take the easy way once in a while. Avoid the mental breakdown. Slow travel is your ideal. (You know I’m right.)
- Bring an appropriate first aid kit. This includes more than two band-aids. An antiseptic wipe, Neosporin and a bottle of ibuprofen would do you well.
- Pack said band-aids and antiseptic wipes in mini Ziplock bags. Yes, you’re cheap. And you think buying extra baggies will kill the planet. But sometimes these things are super useful. Like when you don’t want to dig through the gallon size plastic bag that’s holding everything from your shampoo, your razors and your mouthwash, and you just want to reach things quickly. Mini Ziplocks are awesome for organization. And you know you love to organize things.
- Spend extra money on direct flights. Sometimes, you’re way too cheap. Never forget: by the end of your trip, you would gladly pay a small ransom for a direct flight home — at which point, you’re dirty, you’re tired and more than a little cranky. And let’s not forget, you’re also afraid to fly. The fewer flights, the healthier your heart.
- Buy a super cute passport holder. Okay. It doesn’t HAVE to be super cute. But it should be. On the practical side, your passport turns into a wrinkled mess every time you visit one of those ridiculously humid locales you seem to love so much. The damn thing’s going to fall apart before you make it to the last page if you don’t protect it. Plus, did I mention it can be super cute?
- Bring your netbook. I know. You think it sounds romantic to be without internet for weeks at a time. It’s not. Enough said.