Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Celebrating Christmas in San Diego

Buenos dias! As you can see, uploading Peru footage has been slow... sorting through 7,000 pictures and ??GBs of video is daunting and the holidays have us in a very laid back mood. We meant to do some serious sorting through Peru pix last weekend but we got caught up in our Christmas'ing! On Friday, it took me 3 hours to get to San Diego. It was raining and I had left LA at 4:15pm. I was tired from the drive and not in the mood to cook so we picked up DiGiorno and White Castle sliders. Ignas added fresh bell peppers and mushrooms to the pizza and it came out very yummy.

Kate O Sessions Memorial Park
For breakfast, we ate pumpkin bread and cream cheese spread that I had made earlier in the week (delicious!). Then, we made our way to Kate O Sessions park. The sky was beautiful, the clouds were fluffy and the air was crisp... just a typical December day in San Diego :)

I'm fascinated by how scary I look. Jumping picture fail.
Next, we headed over to Ocean Beach to walk around and eat. We took pictures and ate lunch at Hodad's, which claims to have the World's Best Burger. It was pretty damn good. We got a single bacon cheeseburger (YUM), a chocolate malt (soo good), fries (amazing), tuna sandwich (meh). While walking around town, we stopped by two stores that were exactly me and Ignas. The first store was a seashell/ocean-decor store - Ignas was in love. He bought a few sea stars and some other beach stuff. He was inspired to decorate his apt more after hanging out in there. Then.. we passed by an old school video game store!! Oh my goodness, they had Atari and a classic NES, a SNES, Sega Genesis, Gamecube, Dreamcast, N64, Xbox, arcade machines... I didn't want to leave. So nostalgic being in there! On the other hand, Ignas was more entertained by my excitement than anything in the store haha.

Our first time ice skating together!
Saturday evening was spent walking around Coronado, cooking Christmas dinner, and watching Christmas movies! For dinner, we made lasagna (the best lasagna I've ever had) and beef stew. The first thing we did on Sunday was head over to Best Buy to pick up a new cell phone for Ignas. It took forever and I got antsy so Ignas agreed to go ice skating next. I found one of those holiday-outdoor rinks in Gaslamp and it was so much fun! It was cold and drizzling but that added to the holiday spirit! We headed over to Cremolose for dessert, snacks, and tea. Then, we made our way to the USS Miday to watch the San Diego Bay boat parade! After, we drove to Clairemont and walked through a neighborhood decked out in Christmas lights.

Click here for more pictures from our Christmas weekend! Feliz Navidad!

So up until now, we haven't been adding captions to the pictures in our photo gallery but I think for 2013, we'll be putting them in. Actually, I already started with the pictures from our San Diego Christmas :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Peru Itinerary

The first blog I wanted to write when I got back home was our itinerary. I planned on creating a similar map to the one I made for the Costa Rica itinerary. But let's be honest, my work in Adobe Acrobat isn't that cool. I figured that there has to be some kind of itinerary/map-maker somewhere on the internet... and voila! I stumbled upon Tripline.

Tripline is basically an interactive map. I've only spent about half an hour playing with it but so far, it's awesome. Check out the itinerary I made below. From what I've seen, you can get really creative with this thing: animate your traveling on the map, upload pictures from your trip, import check-ins from your Foursquare, and of course, share your maps with your friends and family.

Once I spend more time exploring Tripline's features, I will probably write another blog on it. For now, here is the itinerary that me and Ignas did while in Peru! The map is not an image! It's a video! Don't forget to PRESS PLAY in the top right corner. :)

If you zoom out on the map below, you'll see that we only got to spend time in southern Peru. We were sad that we couldn't include any northern destinations, especially Ignas since there's really good surfing there.  

We were debating on including Lake Titicaca or the Amazon but we decided not to do either. We felt that we would lose too much time traveling and we didn't want to exhaust ourselves by constantly moving. Although we really only visited the regions of Arequipa, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley, we were happy that we had as much time as we did. And as always, we also wished we had more time at each place! There was just so much to see and do!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hola Los Angeles

Plaza de Armas - Cusco, Peru
We're back home and I'm sad to report that I'm sick. My invincible boyfriend, on the other hand, is on an extended vacation due to an incoming swell and all of the waves coming with it. So while I stayed home sick today, he went surfing this morning before work! Then again, I just finished making the best congee in the world and I'm uploading pictures from the S95 so I guess things aren't so bad.

Santa Catalina Monastery - Arequipa, Peru
Peru was definitely an experience I will never forget: breathtaking landscapes, delectable cuisine, friendly people, and a culture overflowing with history and pride. Looking back, I'm really happy with the itinerary we choose. I felt that it gave us enough time to see all of the touristy attractions in each region we visited while embracing a bit of the local daily life.

Colca Canyon, Peru
In comparison to Costa Rica, I would say that Peru is NOT relaxing. There's just too much to immerse yourself in. In Peru, I wished that my stomach was bigger so I could eat more of the delicious food. I wished that I had more muscle and stamina to trek through the mountain ranges and valleys. I wished that I paid more attention during my college art classes to have a deeper understanding of the art and architecture. And of course, I wish we had more time. We barely scratched the surface with our 2 weeks.

Machu Picchu, Peru
I hope to upload pictures and blogs as soon as I can. Ignas will too, he promised! (Writing that in here as insurance ;) Thank you Peru for an unforgettable experience!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ciao Peru!

We are at Lima airport right now, hanging out at a Starbucks. We will both miss Peru so much! What an awesome trip!! We aren't a tired as we look in this picture. We stayed at a beautiful hotel/home last night called Second Home Peru and it was probably the most charming place we have ever stayed at. I'm sad that we are going home but I can't wait to go through the pictures and videos!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Night in Peru

Ignas and I are at in Lima's Plaza de Armas. We are trying our best to soak in our last bit of this beautiful country. I'm sitting in front of Peru's "White House" and Cathedral. It's a gorgeous evening. Ignas is sitting across the street on a curb. We asked a police chic to take our picture. Here it is!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Buenos Dias from Cusco

Just wanted to do a quick blog update because I found a spot in or hotel room that gets wifi! We are leaving the Tambo Del Arriero today, a lovely boutique hotel that we spent the last two nights at. Here is a picture of our hotel room door. There is a beautiful courtyard right in front. Today, we will be heading into the Sacred Valley where the Machu Picchu is. Peru has been absolutely unforgettable and we will be blogging more about it soon!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Colca Canyon

Oh my gosh. Me and Ignas just came back from one of the most unforgettable experiences ever: a 2-day trek in the Colca Canyon of Peru. Both of us agreed that it felt like one of those things you have to do before you die. Personally, I went through so many emotions trying to get through the actual trek. It was quite a challenge, both physically and mentally. Here are the stats:

On the first day, we hiked a total of 17 kilometers to get to the Oasis at the bottom of the canyon, where we were spending the first night. It took us about 7 hours. On the second day, we climbed all the way back out of the canyon, a 5 kilometer climb with a 1,100 meter elevation gain, in 3 hours.

Needless to say, I have never done anything so physically strenuous in my life and I was THIS close to renting a damn mule to take me up the canyon. On the other hand, the whole way through, my Trojan boyfriend kept commenting, "This isn´t that bad!"

Apart from the trek, the actual canyon gave me a whole new meaning to the word "grand." Colca Canyon is truly grand. It´s huge and the canyon walls are menacing. You can still see traces of how the lava dried.

The most interesting part for me was seeing the villages within the canyon and learning about the people there. They have a bartering system with neighboring villages but by neighboring, I mean that they have to trek out of the canyon while bringing all of their goods, exchange everything, and then trek back home. Each village within the canyon only has about 5 families with 2-3 people each.

While walking through the canyon, I thought to myself that it was like walking on another world (specificially, a Halo ring - excuse the nerdiness). The canyon made me feel so small and I couldn´t believe that people live within the walls of this enormous canyon.

We had lunch at one of the villages and it was the first time we tried alpaca meat. The Oasis was beautiful. It´s so lush at the bottom of the canyon.

We woke up at 4:30am to start our trek out of the canyon this morning. It felt like I was climbing a never-ending staircase made out of loose rocks and gravel. It just kept going and going and it never got easier. Can´t believe I did it!

After the getting out of the canyon and having breakfast, we took a bus around the canyon and the views were absolutely breaktaking. I´m getting butterflies just thinking about it. A signature characteristic of the canyon is the terracing done by the Incas and pre-Incas. The terraces and farms added so much to the scenery. Honestly, the best writer and the best photographer couldn´t do justice to the canyon's greatness.

At the end of the day, we relaxed in the hot springs within the canyon which was perfect after our exhausting trek. Then, we ate a buffet for lunch in Chivay, the capital city in the canyon.

We will definitely add pictures to the blog when we come back. I´m currently writing this from an internet cafe in Arequipa and I could only add a few pictures from my phone. So far, our experience in Peru has been amazing and I can´t wait for what we do next!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Primera Noche en Peru

Buenas noches! Ignas and I are all tucked in bed and ready for a good night's sleep, especially after a long day of traveling. It took us 3 planes to get here in Arequipa. By the time we got to our hotel, it was dark so we haven't seen much yet. We're sippin on Arequipena as I write this. Ahh vacation high is sitting in. Either that or soroche is slowly taking over (no obvious symptoms yet)...

Taca Airlines is awesome. We pretty much had first class leg room during our first flight because we had the row right behind first class. They served us a meal on both of our flights, which were pretty good for airplane food. Each seat has their own screen with several movies and TV shows to choose from. Maybe other airlines have the same features but I've never seen it before.

Everyone has been very nice to us. We could really use more practice with the Spanish though. Many people don't bother trying to speak English with us. They just speak slowly and use a lot of hand movements, which is perfect except for when we have to reply haha.

We are both very excited for tomorrow. The manager of the hotel told us a lot about the city and we are definitely starting early.

With that said, buenas noches! Here is a picture of me and Ignas at the Lima airport.


The day has finally arrived and Ignas and I are at LAX right now waiting for our plane to start boarding. I think at the moment, we are more tired than excited but hopefully we get some rest on the flight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Less Than A Week Until Peru

Fight On Trojans! The gangsta trojan grandma on the right always cracks me up.
It's been a while since we updated but we've been in a frenzy learning Spanish (me), doing research on Peru (him), and cheering on the USC Trojans in football (both of us). With October being in the thick of the football season, it was hard for us (mostly him :P) to think about anything else. Game days are almost fully dedicated to the Trojans (with tailgating on campus or finding a cool place to catch the game, watching the 3.5 hour game, being drunk, celebrating when they win, mourning when they lose) and since we only see each other on the weekends, Peru progress has been slow.

Mind Snacks was THE best iPhone app that helped me
with basic vocabulary and verbs.
On the other hand, I've been really proud of my progress with Spanish! I went to the library and checked out several books to help me learn, including fun children's' activity books! I also downloaded Spanish audiobooks for my car and my shower/workout playlists. I spent several nights playing every Spanish iPhone app until I fell asleep with my phone in my face. Livemocha has been really fun too. It's a website that allows you to converse with other language learners around the world, in addition to having traditional lessons. Native Spanish speakers who were learning English were the best to chat with since we would help each other and many that I chatted with were from South America. I think I know enough for our trip but Ignas always points out my horrendous Spanish accent (or rather, the complete lack of).

The red section is the size of Costa Rica - tiny compared to all of Peru. Taken from a nifty website: www.ifitweremyhome.com
Planning Peru has honestly been overwhelming because its gigantic compared to Costa Rica and Hawaii, where Ignas and I took our previous major trips. We knew that visiting Machu Picchu was a must but other than that, the possibilities were endless. Peru is extremely varied and has almost every type of climate. There's the desert coastline, the Amazon jungle, the Andes, culture, history, ruins, museums, beaches, wildlife, food... and we would see it all if we could but we don't want to spend too much time traveling from place to place. The first way we narrowed our options was by choosing to stick to Southern Peru.

I put up a makeshift calendar on my bedroom wall when Ignas visited last weekend. As of today, this is still what it looks like. Needless to say, it'll be a very interesting and surprising trip.
With Southern Peru in mind, we are considering Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, and the Colca Canyon. How and when are we going to do all of this? We still don't know. We want to get enough in to embrace the best of what the country has to offer but we also want enough time to explore and trek off the beaten path.

My new 24" suitcase vs. my standard carry on. 
With less than a week before we depart, we are in the process of finalizing our itinerary and figuring out what to pack. I decided to buy a new suitcase since I anticipate to pack bulkier clothing. The low's in Cusco and Arequipa have been in the 40s (F) and the high's at 70F. Brr! I spent forever looking for the perfect one and I finally found this cute black/purple one that was very functional and had a lot of compartments. I knew Ignas wouldn't like it though. In fact, this is what he had to say when I sent him this picture: "That looks terrible. You'll probably be stopped from leaving Peru because they'll think you killed some exotic endangered purple leopard and made luggage out of it." That's my boyfriend <3

At this time next week, we'll be taking off from our layover in Costa Rica! :D Oh and check out the new Instagram gallery in the sidebar! I'm hoping to upload a few pictures on the trip and Instagram is so much easier to work with than the Blogger app on my phone. Follow us! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Kalalau Trail

The Kalalau Trail... The experience is one that I will never, ever forget. It just so happens that the Kalalau Trail was the second hike I had every done in my life (that I can remember). The views are breath-taking and simply indescribable. I would definitely say that the Kalalau Trail is a bucket-list-worthy type of deal where you are rewarded with the most incredible views in the world. At the end of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail is Kalalau Beach where people camp for the night. Since we only had one day left in Kauai, we hiked half of the Kalalau trail to Hanakapiai Falls and then turned around for a total of 13 miles.

In terms of physical fitness level required, I wouldn't say more than average is needed, though you obviously have to be able to hike 11 miles before the sun goes down if you want to get to the finish line at Kalalau Beach. The actual trail isn't too strenuous. It's just plain dangerous haha. Sheer cliffs with long drops, very narrow paths (at several points, you could only put one foot in front of the other), loose rocks and pebbles, slippery logs, etc. I almost lost my boyfriend twice because he lost his footing and fell!

The trail is also very intimate, which I really liked. We probably saw a handful of other people during the duration of our hike. Most of the time, it really felt like it was just the two of us out there. At Hanakapiai Falls, it was me, Ignas, and nature in the purest state I've seen it. The trail was so overgrown that I felt like we were just forging our own (someone had left pink ribbon markers but still, the trail was invisible). At the falls, there was not a single sign of civilization. Just spiders, frogs (both alive and dead), and the waterfall, which was absolutely beautiful. Since the waterfall was so tall, we couldn't get a good picture but check this one out that I found online.

Yup, gorgeous. From Alexo Photography: http://www.alexo-photography.com/Best_of/Best_of_Foto_Hawaii_ALLE.html
By the end of the day, I was deliriously exhausted. A warning: as much as you might be tempted to wash off at the neighboring Tunnels Beach, don't. The waves there are mean and I was so physically fatigued that one of the waves picked me up and slammed me on the sand, lower back first and my head on the ricochet. I was completely immobilized and I thought I would die when the next wave came but my Superman Ignas saved me. He literally saw me in distress, ran to me, picked me up and carried me away. <3 Looking back, it was romantic but at the time, he was convinced that I had suffered a concussion and I threw up shortly after...

The Kalalau Trail left me feeling very humbled and blessed. I felt so fortunate to have seen such untouched natural beauty and thankful to have been able to revel in all of it in solitude. I would definitely recommend some sort of training prior to taking on the trail and make sure to bring enough water! The Kalalau Trail is a MUST and it's free (unless you pay the permit fee to camp at Kalalau Beach).

Click here to see more pictures from our Kalalau Trail trek.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Bad Side

Ignas refuses to believe that I have a bad side but alas, it's a night-and-day difference. So when I stumbled upon one of my favorite blogger's recent posts about bad sides, I had to read it and of course, she describes it perfect (and hilariously).

Check out The Everywhereist. Her blog is never ending entertainment.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pachacamac... Not this time

I had read about Pachacamac in a few of the books I got from the library and I was immediately interested because of its historical significance and its pyramids. After reading a little but more and seeing a few pictures, however, I'm not sure if it's worth the visit on our short trip.

Taken from TripAdvisor. Very austere looking...
I don't know if Machu Picchu is spoiling me but the Pachacamac seems so... ordinary. Similar to the Nazca Lines, I'm sure Pachacamac would be awesome to see but I'm not sold on trying to fit in into our itinerary.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Short Reckonings

Short Reckonings has been my must travel-buddy for the past year. Ever since my roommate introduced me to Short Reckonings, I have used it for every trip I've been on.

Short Reckonings is a website and phone app that helps you keep track of shared expenses and IOUs. After inputting the people in your party, who paid for what, and for whom, it calculates a single payment for everyone to pay to make everything even. So even if you go on a trip with several people, each person will only have to make a single payment to one person and BAM, everyone's even!

After creating a sheet, anyone in your party is able to view and add to the expense sheet. Though I've only used it for trips, I can see this being useful for roommate situations, group presents, events, etc.

Short Reckonings has been especially helpful for Ignas and I since we spot each other all the time. The whole "I pay for breakfast, you pay for lunch, I pay for dinner, and you pay for gas, etc" used to work for us but you can imagine the complications. SR is extremely convenient and easy to use and I will continue to use it for all my future trips. 

The best part?  It's completely free! You don't even have to sign up/register for anything. AWESOME!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy 26th Birthday Ignas!

Ignas turned 26 on September 27 and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday/housewarming party for his present! I still can't believe how smoothly everything went. He had NOT A SINGLE CLUE, not even the slightest suspicion. He was shocked, speechless and very confused. And I credit everything to his amazing friends and family. Without their cooperation and generosity, it wouldn't have worked at all. 

A month and a half ago, I came up with this idea and I told Ignas to reserve the weekend of September 29th for me. The only other information I gave him was that we would be spending it in San Diego, and that's it. From that moment on, the Facebook corresponding began with his friends and family, all unbeknownst to Ignas. As part of the whole package, I asked everyone to send me a video shoutout for a movie I would show during the party. 

The day of the surprise, I took Ignas to the San Diego Zoo and we will definitely be coming back. It was so much fun, despite my anxiety for the surprise later that day. Elephants are awesome and so are lions but I'm not sure how close I want to be to a lion. We also found a little guy that looked like a Quetzal! Before heading back to his place, we caught the sunset at Coronado Beach - one of the most beautiful and romantic beaches I have ever been to. 

When we got into the car, I told him that we had dinner reservations at 8pm and that the dress code was formal attire. While he chatted with his dad on the drive home, I contacted all his friends at his place to let them know we were on our way. It was surprise time! When we walked up to his porch, one of his friends had accidentally flashed a light (we found out that he tried to record Ignas's reaction but the flash was too bright). When Ignas saw the light though, he went into instant defensive and determined mode: Who the hell is in my porch?! It was honestly the perfect distraction. Then... SURPRISE!!! And the madness ensued :) Happy Birthday Ignas!

Now that it's all over, it's time for major Peru research and blog updating... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HAPPY 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY (of us finding each other!)

Two years ago, I locked eyes for the first time with the hottest gay guy I had ever seen, and even better, he ended up not being gay. Thank you Ignas for the most wonderful two years of my life. <3

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nasca Lines are a No-Go

The Nasca Lines are these amazingly large etches into the land of southern Peru. By large, I mean like up to 200 meters large. The drawings are of animals and geometric shapes and some of them get pretty complicated.  Their original purpose is uncertain and there are several theories about their existence (calendering, agriculture, sport, etc.). Many recommend to view the lines by plane - this will allow one to really embrace the mystery and vastness of the shapes.

"The Monkey" -  Taken from Wikipedia
Taken from http://escapedtonazcalinestours.com
Taken from TripAdvisor. A picture from one of the plane tours. This looks very anticlimactic...

With such a short time to explore Peru, however, we've decided to rule out the Nasca Lines from our itinerary. A plane to see the lines would cost $45-$100 (for a very short flight) and I'm not really sure how much we would see from above that we can't see from pictures online.

Peru planning continues!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: Torrance Beach

This weekend is a weekend where I don't get to see Ignas so I'm uploading this picture of us to get my boyfriend fix! I took this picture when me and Ignas were relaxing at Torrance Beach a couple of weeks ago. I was in a hyper, picture-taking mood but Ignas was Mr. Grumps. He just wanted to lay down and nap. But look, I actually got him to smile!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fall in the air...

Today I got off work at an unusually early 6 PM. I checked Sigalert, surprised to see there was no traffic whatsoever on the way home. I bought an Al Merrick Flyer surfboard this past weekend as a replacement for my magic board that I snapped a while back, and couldn't wait to try it. As I drove home, I soaked in the beautiful, soft sunlight breaking through tattered, popcorn-like high altitude clouds. I threw on my spring-suit (shorty) as soon as I got home, waxed up my new board, and sprinted over to Tourmaline beach. Casting my flip flops aside on the cool sand, I was spellbound by the sheer beauty of the evening. The patchy small and flat clouds covered the whole sky, dividing up the setting sun into a kaleidoscope of red, fiery rays that mixed and reflected in the ocean. It was as if the air itself was aglow, the clouds reflecting the sunlit ocean and vice versa. Then, as I eagerly entered the water and began paddling, it hit me...FALL. It's here. The summer is over. The water, so warm and inviting just two weekends ago when Heather and I were at Scripps, now cool and numbing. The harsh glare of the midsummer sun replaced by a softer, paler light. The fiery red sunset igniting the horizon, something I vividly remember as a signature omen of autumn in Lithuania. And while I was left with a momentary feeling of melancholy over the summer that fleeted by almost unnoticed, my thoughts quickly turned to excitement for the future.

Soon enough the north Pacific storm machine will turn on and begin churning up storm after storm and hurling it in our direction. Surf forecasters predict this may be an El Nino year, meaning more frequent and intense storms, in turn creating more swell. Gone will be the summer doldrums with week upon week of knee high surf. (I really need to thin out my quiver of boards, which is sitting at a whopping five right now.)

The season of baseball being the only sport to watch on TV will be a distant, agonizing memory, as USC football, poised to make a run for the national championship, will fill my Saturdays with joy, excitement and anxiety and leave Heather trying to calm and temper my emotional rollercoaster.

I'll be looking forward to the cooler weather, a trip to Seattle to watch USC play UW, and, even more so, a two week trip to Peru with Heather, which we're hoping to start planning soon.

With that said, I leave you with some pictures from summer's last weekend (Labor Day) in Newport Beach:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vanoos at Scripps

Me and Ignas have found our go-to sandwich place in PB! Vanoos, rated 5 stars on Yelp.. and it delivers! Eating our yummy sandwiches at Scripps Beach on this gorgeous Sunday :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Regal Beagle

Haha I just asked Ignas where we were and he goes.. "Umm The Eager Beaver?" Haha close enough I guess. So this place is a pub in San Diego that is famous for its sausage and beer selection.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We met ATB at Marquee Dayclub!

I've been on a Vegas high ever since we got back. We had an AMAZING weekend and we got to meet ATB!! Check out the video I just made from our time at Marquee.

Me and Ignas planned a short Vegas trip for 8/11-8/12. I really wanted to go because I wanted Ignas to see Phantom at the Venetian before the show ended. (I've seen it 3 times because I love it that much). Also, Calvin Harris was playing at XS on Saturday night and he is one of my favorite DJs. The night before we left for Vegas, ATB had posted on Facebook that he was on his way to Vegas to play at Tao Nightclub that night and I wondered if he were playing anywhere else in Vegas that weekend. Lo and behold, he was set to play at Marquee Dayclub on August 12, 2012. Not wanting to make Ignas watch 3 shows, I left the decision up to him. When we left for Vegas on Saturday morning, he told me that we were going!

Marquee was probably the most memorable time me and Ignas will ever have at a club. Not only were we in the front row for ATB's whole set, we got to meet him at the end of his awesome show!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera is there... Inside our minds!

We just got out of the Phantom at the Venetian. SUCH a wonderful show. It was my fourth time seeing it and Ignas' first!

Hi Vegas!

Got here in record time: 3 hours. It's only 9am and currently 37C.

Vegas Baby

Ignas and I are on our way to Vegas right now. I am super tired... couldn't sleep because of my excitement. Hope to periodically do live updates! Here is a picture I just took from the car.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Altitude Sickness Part 2

So I've done quite a bit of reading about high altitude hiking and how to prepare for it.. or not prepare for it. Basically, there is no way of ensuring that I will not suffer from soroche. I can train all I want but in the end, I may still be flapping my arms.

However, there were a few tips I read that I will be incorporating into my pre-trip training regimen to hopefully make high altitude activities as enjoyable as possible while in Peru. Currently, I would consider myself to be of average fitness level, definitely not above average (Ignas is superior).

Cardiovascular Fitness
This is a must. Typically, I set a miles/month goal for running, usually 30-40 miles per month. For Peru, I plan to do a 30-40-50 mile goal from now until October. I'll probably throw in some biking, just to switch it up. I like to use the stationary bike at my gym because I can read or study my flashcards while I'm pedaling. Swimming was probably the most recommended exercise to prepare for high altitude hiking because it is a low oxygen activity. The key is to increase distance or intensity as the trip gets closer.

Hiking at High Elevations
Hiking in itself would be good training but the ideal practice would be to hike at high elevations. I read about Mt. Whitney and Mt. San Jacinto, which are two mountains in the Southern California area that I would like to trek before Peru. It was also suggested to wear a (heavy) backpack while hiking.

The path I plan to do interval training on.
Interval Training
Interval training is when you do an intense cardio exercise, rest (either by completely stopping or decreasing to a lower intensity), and then go full out again. There's a hill that leads to the beach path that I run at. I plan to run up that hill, walk back down, and then run back up again - slowly increasing the repetitions until Peru.

Other Suggestions
There were other interesting suggestions that I read about: snorkeling, wearing a gas mask while training, bilateral breathing while swimming, breathing through a straw... not sure about these but just wanted to throw them out there. 

On another note, my Arequipa > Cusco > Lake Titicaca plan from the previous post makes zero sense. I had hoped that we could go from Arequipa to Cusco and then on to Lake Titicaca since, in this order, these locations are in ascending elevation. Unfortuantely, this make zero geographical sense in terms of trip planning. Lake Titicaca is completely out of the way! Definitely going to keep this in mind when planning the final itinerary.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: Epic El Porto Sesh

I went for a sunset jog recently along The Strand and it was one of the most perfect summer evenings. It reminded me of the epic surf/body board session that Ignas and I had last August. Here is his caption (taken from Facebook):
Post surf sesh euphoria! Returning home to Manhattan Beach, I checked the surf report and saw estimates of 1-2 foot waves. However when I parked my car I saw some 3-4 foot sets rolling through and Heather and I decided to paddle out. One of the funnest surf sessions I've had at El Porto. Beautiful evening, barely anyone out (everyone must have followed the surf report and decided it wasn't worth it), warm water, and fun waves.
It was an unforgettable evening!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Altitude Sickness Part 1

Altitude sickness, acute mountain sickness, hypobarothapy, high altitude pulmonary edema, soroche... whatever you want to call it and all of the above. I am afraid I will get it in Peru.

This goldfish has not acclimatized.
I remember learning about acclimation, or acclimatization, in a college biology class. We did an experiment with goldfish where we put them in differing temperatures of water and counted how quickly they flapped their fins. The faster they flapped, the less acclimated they were to the new temperature. I can just imagine myself, on the top of Cusco, flapping my arms in panic as soroche overcomes me.

Why am I so convinced that I will suffer from altitude sickness? Compared to this Superman boyfriend of mine, I've found myself prone to physical and health impairments while traveling... stories for another blog post.

Perhaps I will not fall victim to altitude sickness. There is no way of knowing whether one will get altitude sickness unless actually going to high altitudes. However, it's still something I would like to prepare for as I know we will be spending a decent amount of time at relatively high heights.

Taken from Peru Travel Diary: http://www.machupicchu-inca.com/acclimatization-at-peru.html
Symptoms of soroche include: headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, rapid pulse rate, dizziness... lots of things I can do without on our trip to Peru. I guess the one thing about altitude sickness is that it is easily treated: I can just go back down. As soon as any symptoms appear, I can descend to a lower height and hang out until I acclimatize (preferably spend the night). Once symptoms subside, I can continue up. Here are some other treatments I've read so far.

Treating/Preventing Altitude Sickness at High Altitudes
  • Ascend slowly
  • Increase sleeping elevation (the altitude where you spend the night)
  • Drink a lot of water/fluids
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Eat regular meals high in carbohydrates
  • Take it easy!
A common treatment for soroche in Peru is to chew or make tea out of cocoa leaves. Apparently, the leaves are non addictive. Peru Travel Diary explains, "It is legal to buy this product in Peru, but illegal in most of the neighboring countries. For a very short time, cocoa leaf 'users' will test positive for cocaine. But as long as you are in Peru, there is nothing to worry about." Yeah... not sure how I feel about that.

Another factor I must be mindful of is my anemia since this lowers the oxygen in my blood. At some point before Peru, I'll have to make a visit to the doc. 

From what I've been reading so far, the recommended route is to go to Arequipa first and then Cusco. Some who have gone straight to Cusco, especially those who flew in, felt altitude sickness. Hopefully I'll be ready to tackle Lake Titicaca after spending time in the Cusco region. 

I'm curious, though, as to whether there is anything I can do before the actual trip, like physical training. Since I usually do some sort of training before our trips, I want to see if there are any activities or exercises I can incorporate into my typical pre-trip routine. Part 2 will tell.
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