Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chats with Kathy: relationships

"Oh, you don't want to see him anymore? Tell him you eloped while he was away. Then there won't be any questions. These things happen."

So. Helpful.

Via iPhone

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chats with Kathy: Easter Edition

"It's not a holiday until someone bleeds."

As I'm cutting the peeled potatoes...

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

En route to home...

I'm sitting in the Lima airport, a bit bored.

There's a Pinkberry coming soon sign taunting me across from the one spot I know has free internet - Starbucks. I'm sharing the table with a nice Ukrainian girl who's got male troubles. He didn't believer her when she said they were just friends and got upset when she stuck to her guns.

I desperately miss my new friends, and traveling as a pack of people with Gaby yelling "VAMANOS" all over the place. I liked how we kept each other amused. It's nice traveling with others.

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Going Home

I'm sitting in the Cusco Airport, waiting for my huevos, and a bit sad to be leaving. This was by far and away the best thing I've ever done for myself - go on holiday to somewhere we don't really fly to. I got to explore these mythical places I learned about as a kid, dreaming of a life bigger and farther away. Met wonderful people - three of which are from Jersey and one with whom I share a birthday. Ate all the foods! (as I know you have already seen). It took a while to get here, and the journey home from here to Lima to EWR will most certainly feel just as long.

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Hung over diner food looks alike in lots of different places...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Conversation from Yesterday

"Tomorrow is Machu Picchu day."

"The climax!"


(me)... "That's what she said..."

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Tour Manager, holding cooked guinea pig, in her mother's kitchen

Yup. That happened.

Aguascalientes at 5:30 am

I hate real roosters

In Aguascalientes, this stupid bird cock a doodled dooed all night long - longer than Lionel Ritchie.

I hate you, roosters. And all your rooster friends that answered you.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Look Mom! Sangria!

Look Mom! Real beer!

Hiking at noon... What a fantastic idea!

Cusco to Ollententambo

Cusco city was beautiful. We did a three hour waking tour of the city with stops at the farmers market, ancient Incan temple, and the main cathedral in the square.

Inside the cathedral we saw black Jesus on the cross! Our tour guide said he used to be the same color as the natives but because of all the offerings and smoke, he got so dirty they just decided to paint him black.

When we got to the statue of St. Anthony, the patron saint of single people, we all wrote down names or a list of a few things we were looking for in a mate and threw them up to the alter where he was perched. Keep you guys posted ;)

That night was the first night I wasn't in bed by 10. After dinner, we went for a drink in the worlds highest Irish pub, met the rest of the group at salsa lessons, and quickly left to find a hopping club. So. Much. Fun. I haven't partied like that in a long time.

And I did not feel pretty the next morning. The first thing we did was have an Incan ceremony and offering to the gods, followed by an ALPACA PETTING ZOO. I WAS SO EXCITED! We grabbed alfalfa and got to feed all the alpacas and llamas and pet them and frolic in the pens with them. I'm almost convinced that was my favorite part.

We stopped at Pisac, climbed the ruins, with yours truly huffing and puffing the whole way. We stopped at the Spanish colonial town below, at an empanada place, jewelry store, and for lunch. Heading up the Sacred Valley, we stopped at an Incan Bar, drank the local alcoholic beverage (which was gross). Our last stop was Ollantaytambo, with more ruins to climb and explore, pizza to eat (Machu Pizza!), and where I'm currently sitting in the courtyard of our hotel.

I booked too late, so I wasn't able to do this morning's six hour hike. There are five of us hanging around waiting to meet up and have breakfast and hang out here for a relaxing day which will be a refreshing change from the go go go pace thus far.

And tomorrow we do Machu Picchu.

Via iPhone

The view from the bathroom window in Ollententambo

Llama - watch out, they spit

Alpaca Petting Zoo!!!

Machu Pizza

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I can't really feel my face... or breathe...

Bathroom, where for one soles, the attendant manually flushes for you. I miss the bus with the toilet :(

Puno to Cusco

Right now we're cruising from Puno in the south up to Cusco in the highlands. Our first stop was roughly 2 1/2 hours in... for the world's best coffee. Who voted, I'm not sure. But having just come back from Milan, this espresso was better.

And such a great idea! Let's have a shot of coffee and get back on the bus for another 2 hours!

Now we closed all the curtains and are watching We Are the Millers.

Oh, and every time the bus goes more than 90, a sign that says "EXCESO DE VELOCIDAD" blinks red and beeps.

Via iPhone

Peruvian bus snacks

Lake Titicaca and Puno

Main church in Puno

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lake Titicaca

As I'm drafting this, we're cursing the reasonably calm fresh waters of Lake Titicaca. We got into Puno last night, and had dinner at what I've deemed Not the Nandos. On the menu was a quarter roasted chicken with chips. Granted Nandos may have better chips but it is all about the chicken. So well seasoned and succulent, and about 15 soles, which is like 6 or 7 US$.

The altitude is currently kicking my ass. I'm on whatever prescription medication (which is also available over the counter here), and last night I had a few hits of oxygen at the hotel. I took an Advil PM to help get to and stay asleep which really helped. My extremities keep getting the tingles (like pins and needles) and as long as I have enough water, no headache. Huffing and puffing like an old lady just to get up the one flight of stairs to my room. We've been at altitude for days now and I just can't seem to adjust.

We stopped on the floating islands of Urus first. The tour guide kept talking about how happy the peoples of the islands are (the island we were on was home to about 20 people, 4 families; 2000 island ppl in total). They sang and shared their way of life with us - so simple. So beautiful.

After a two hour boat ride we docked on the island of Taguile. The view was so stunning, so incredible, I can't even begin to describe it. We hiked up to meet some of the locals to watch the men knit and women weave. They fed us the most delicious lunch - each meal I've had has been better than the one before. Then we hiked back down the island to the beach to go swimming. The water was effing freezing! But I did stick my toes in and prance around chanting "I'm in Lake Titicaca!" in true Alyssa style.

I'm looking forward to a hot shower, some dinner (yes! more local cuisine please!), and tomorrow is another full day on the bus to Cusco.

OH! And I'm listening to either the Backstreet Boys or N'Snyc (possibly This I Promise You) in Spanish on the boat while the sun is setting. I think this equals romance.

Via iPhone

Taquile: lunch, second course, fried trout fresh out of Lake Titicaca

Taquile: lunch, first course, quinoa soup

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Colca Canyon

Today we drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, where we reached 16000 ft in elevation. I did not feel pretty.

The mountain views were by far some of the most amazing vistas I've ever seen. I thought them nicer than the Alps. Probably because I've never seen anything like this landscape anywhere else in the world.

We went to a hot spring for a bit of relaxation - but I opted to go zip lining first. Totally thrilling. We went down to passes, each over 300 meters (yeah, still not sure exactly what that means). The first one we were going against the wind, so I couldn't be daring or adventurous. The second pass, I flipped myself upside down. Screaming all the way of course, but I did it.

We're staying at an old Inca princess's retreat house (castle?), where there's no wifi or computers in the lobby. It's raining, quite heavily at times; hence the wilderness preparation shot. When we first got to our rooms, there was a black out. Had alpaca for dinner again - it is so delicious.

Tomorrow we're up and out at 6 am for another day of adventure!

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Blackout / rained out. Fully prepared.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Alpaca tastes delicious!

News Update

Nevermind... 7.7 off the coast of Chile.

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Ceviche with onions, sweet potato, and corn

Not the cause of the earthquake... Local brew


Today when we were out touring the city, the guide kept talking about how this church was knocked down, and this tower is not original to the building because of this earthquake, oh I'm sure you will feel the tremors.

And I did.

It wasn't too severe, I doubt it was a 3. It lasted a lot longer than I thought it would and I did not like it one bit. Feel the earth shake was not on the original bucket list, but I'm checking it off anyway!

Via iPhone


Not Pinkberry

Peru day 2

Drafting this on the way to Arequipa.

Survived the trip down past the equator. Per my mother's instructions, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman seated next to me who gave me a bunch of restaurant recommendations. Once we started to descend, I asked him about getting a taxi and before I knew it, he offered his driver's services. It was so nice of him to take me to my hotel. En route he pointed out different places he had mentioned earlier.

First day on tour in Lima, we went to San Francisco Solano church and the catacombs, saw the changing of the guards at the palace of government. Lunch - fresh pineapple juice! Pink berry (yes, Pinkberry). Drank pisco sours at Rosa Nautica. Dinner together as a group. It was a buffet, so I have no idea what I actually ate.

Successfully made it through security (even waited in line like a good customer). Right next to the scanning machines, there was a giant plastic container of confiscated knives, tools, box cutters which kind of blew my mind. One of the girls took a snapshot, so hopefully it will be featured here.

Mix of the kiddies: handful of Jersey girls (myself included), Canadians, Aussies, and a token Kiwi. No Brits surprisingly enough.

Today is all about Arequipa, but tomorrow we start a series of eight hour bus rides through the countryside. I'm about to discover just how tough and exactly how far I like being outside of my comfort zone. My hotel room Sunday night didn't have air conditioning and I made it out alive - I'm thinking that's a good sign of my abilities to "rough it".

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