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:
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! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...