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:
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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Ignas is a grill master.
Last Sunday was a relaxing yet productive day for us. Ignas started singing "Easy Like Sunday Morning" as soon as we woke up. It was one of those rare days where we had absolutely nothing planned. For lunch, Ignas grilled chicken and I baked french fries. We also tried grilling shrimp but Ignas hated them. He said they tasted like burnt hair and smelled like burnt skin. I wouldn't know either of these things so to me, they were good.

I realized I never named my skateboard. Ignas suggested Joe like G.I. Joe. Meet my skateboard named Joe!

After lunch, I helped Ignas with a few household chores and while he mowed the lawn, I went skateboarding. For the evening, Ignas was determined to go hike somewhere so he took me to a spot where he and his parents often walk in Yorba Linda. 

I try to record all of our outside activities in MapMyFitness.  This website is a handy tool that uses GPS tracking to record all of your workouts. You can also log gym workouts, video workouts, class workouts, etc. You can pretty much log anything. I even log my Dance Central workouts on Xbox Kinect. Anyway, this is the screenshot of our hike on Sunday.
Gorgeous view off of one of the Yorba Linda trails.
The trails we walked are dirt paths weaved into the neighborhoods. You never know where one will start and where it will end. We were just kind of walking aimlessly.. or maybe Ignas knew where he was going. The houses are really nice there too. At one point on our walk, we saw this spectacular view! It was so unexpected for me because these trails are literally in between houses. There was just one section with no house and it was this. Pretty!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is beautiful, relaxing and fun. We swam, snorkeled (Ignas swam with a sea turtle), napped and tanned. The water is crystal clear and there is so much sea life to observe. It's a decently large bay too so we spent a lot of time exploring, or at least Ignas did ha. It was a wonderful place to spend our day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Costa Rica: What To Pack Checklist

Suite case options - brought the one on the left.
  • Suitcase Ignas is anti checking in luggage whenever possible so since I began traveling with him, I've learned to pack light. For 10 days in Costa Rica, I went with the suite case on the left. My dog Maxwell is being used for scale. :)
  • Passport: Make sure that your passport will still be valid for at least 3 more months after your departure date.
  • Cash/Credit/ATM: I brought about $200 in cash. I definitely spent more than that but I didn't want to carry too much.  Many places took credit cards. Ignas also has a checking account with Capital One so he withdrew cash without any additional rates. Also, a lot of places took US dollars. Stay away from currency exchanges - their rates are ridiculous, especially at the airports!
  • Departure Tax: It was $28 to fly out of the Liberia airport but have cash on you because credit cards are charged as cash advances.
  • Extra Bags: I brought 2 reusable tote bags with me to carry beach items or wet towels. If you're planning to pick up a lot of souvenirs, you may consider packing a collapsible duffle to put everything in on the way home.
  • Ziploc Bags: I brought at least 6 gallon sized and quart sized Ziploc bags. I used them to keep things dry, dirty laundry, wet shoes, sea shell collecting, toiletries, etc.
  • Cell phone: I called my cell phone carrier to let them know that I was leaving the country. I basically deactivated everything except data since Wi-Fi is widely available. 
  • Hat/Handkerchief: I brought both but I should've just went with the handkerchief (see the purple handkerchief in the picture below). I rarely used my hat.
  • Cameras/Memory Cards
  • Hiking Snacks: Nuts, crackers, trek mix
  • Small Flashlight: Essential for the night hikes and just overall handy to have.
  • Pocketknife: Ignas brought this - another handy thing.
  • Clothes: Mind you, I am a girl. Perhaps Ignas will post his man attire in a future entry. 
    • Underwear (top and bottoms)
    • Socks
    • Sports bras - I brought 2 and in retrospect, I wish I had brought more. By the end of the day, my sports bra was either soaked from the rain or my own sweat. Washing them in the sink was no problem but wet clothes never seem to dry in Costa Rica so on the third day, I had no choice but to wear a wet bra to start the day - not that big of a deal but still, I would've brought at least one other sports bra.
Donning my typical Costa Rica gear.
    • Waterproof pants - These were awesome. In Monteverde, it was too cold to be trekking around in shorts so these light, waterproof pants kept me warm and dry. 
Waterproof jacket by the North Face - this is a size Large in Girls, cheaper and more form fitting!
    • Waterproof jacket - This was a lifesaver. Throughout our zip lining session in Monteverde, it rained and it rained hard. I was the only one who had waterproof anything in our group and after zip lining, everyone else was a walking sponge.
Spots bra, active top, active bottoms, Keen's.
    • Active shorts/tops - I brought 3 of each and I pretty much wore these clothes every day. I also brought 2 long sleeve tops for layering.
    • Swimsuit - I brought two pairs along with a rash guard. 
    • Swimsuit cover dress
    • "Fancy" clothes - I packed two summer dresses of which I only used one. 
    • Casual clothes - I packed 2 tops and 2 bottoms (1 shirt, 1 tank, denim shorts, white shorts). 
  • Rain Ponchos: I brought 3 which I gave to everyone else in our group since my waterproof jacket/pants kept me dry. Ponchos were a must in Monteverde.
  • Shoes:
    • Flip flops for the beach
    • Flip flops for walking around town
    • Keen's (river sandals) - I used these pretty much every day.
    • Running shoes - I wore these in Monteverde since it was too wet to wear my Keen's. 
    • Girls, don't bring heels - not worth it. 
  • Hiking Backpack: This is a must. I got mine for cheap from Big 5. It has so many compartments yet it's compact. 
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilettries
  • Sunscreen and lots of it. Girls, I brought a mineral foundation for my face that had sunscreen in it. Very easy to put on and won't clog pores! The boys ended up using it too :P
  • Wet Wipes: I brought this huge 40 pack and though we did use wet wipes, we didn't use anywhere near 40. 
  • Antibacterial Gel (like Purell)
  • First Aid: Band aids (waterproof), antibiotic ointment, painkiller, stomach stuff, etc.
  • Mosquito Repellant: Be aware of DEET and non-DEET products. Some people can be very sensitive to DEET. Me, on the other hand, I slathered it on. Don't forget your ears and face!
  • Towel: We brought compact gym towels (yoga towels) that came with their own carrying bags and they were so handy. You don't need something that's too absorbent because you'll dry in 5 minutes by standing in the sun. You'll need it for laying down because Costa Rican sand is HOT. Since we were constantly moving from hostel to hostel, we had to have our own towel.
  • Water Bottle: I brought one and in retrospect, I would've passed on it. We went to local markets several times and bought bottles of water there.
  • Laundry Detergent: We never ended up actually doing laundry at a machine but I did use the detergent to hand wash my clothes in the sink. Get a pack/bottle that is resealable since you will likely not be doing one full load if you hand wash like I did.
  • Binoculars: We went bird watching so it was cool to have these. Plus, they easily fit in my backpack. I wouldn't say this is a must for everyone though.
  • Map: We came to Costa Rica without a good map. I had only brought a map that came with one of our guidebooks. Thankfully, Gerald, the owner of the Sleeping Indian Hostel, saved us by giving us his. Here's a picture of it. If you plan to rent a car, you definitely need a map like this. Even with this, there were times when we got lost.
Bring a GOOD Costa Rica map, especially if you are renting a car and driving yourself around.

I think these are the essentials. Keep in mind that you can probably buy most things there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Wedge

On Saturday, I hung out with Ignas and his family at Newport Beach, specifically The Wedge. There was crazy traffic to and from the beach. It took me nearly two hours to get there but it was an amazing beach afternoon/evening. The sunset was unforgettable.

The Wedge is a very interesting beach because the waves get notoriously massive. The water comes in like normal waves but then the backwash bounces off of a jetty which then bulks up with another incoming wave and it becomes this nail-biting monster.

Ignas was determined to get in the water for a bit so we moved north, away from the actual Wedge. The waves were still big though and I could just imagine myself being slammed into the sand. That didn't stop Ignas though! Check out this video.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: Heather's 27th Birthday

My 27th birthday was on July 2nd and I celebrated last Saturday with a BBQ at Lago Seco park. It was a flurry of a morning that day but absolutely perfect weather. Ignas and I went to about 4 different places to pick up different kinds of food, games and decorations. Our menu included: carne asada, pico de gallo, hot dogs, hamburgers, marinated ribs, salad, and lots of dessert! After eating, we played frizbee, dodgeball, and basketball. Thank you so much to the most wonderful boyfriend in the world for helping me prepare and cooking the food! <3
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