How to move back

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Getting back to the United States was a journey that took us to the sketchiest part of Lima, a 14 hour bus ride, a red eye flight, and a near death experience on the way to the airport due to our taxi blowing out its transmission on the freeway (all within 48 hours).

But, alas, I am here, in the land of free refills and entitled hot showers. I’ve settled in nicely (for the most part) and life’s trying to wrestle me back to the grind. So far, life’s winning (for the most part).

Since transition can sometimes be hard/weird/awkward I’ve decided to put together my list of how to move back:

1. Drink all of the free refills. Seriously, this is what America does best. Why has no one else caught on? I can finish my first glass of water/Coke Zero before I even get my food and other countries expect that to last my entire meal?  And no I’m not going to pay for 2 drinks during 1 meal. So, first on my list when I got back was a trip to Happy Hour at Sonic for a giant, refillable beverage.

2. Sleep in. Pretty soon you’ll have to start a real job and wake up early and get home late, so sleep in while you can. It’ll help with the jet lag. Plus, you’ll probably need some beauty sleep since you’re recovering from months in a third world country.

3. Do fun things. When I got back I took up every opportunity to do fun things. I wasn’t working yet, so I figured, why not? I rock climbed, rappelled, oh and we extended our California road trip/vacation because we could. No job, no responsibilities, no problem (…except for the no money part).

4. Don’t slack on the job hunt. Finding a job always takes longer than you will think. It’s like…really? A ninth interview? Oh you hired someone else? So just, apply everywhere. Do every interview. Something will eventually fall into place.

5. Have amazing friends and family. I got super lucky with this one. Once we landed I had texts and calls welcoming me back to the land of the free. Friends threw pizza parties (the homemade amazingly delicious kind), family took us to dinner, people helped us build furniture, let us stay in their homes, helped us move, heck, one even had the cutest baby ever and let me hang out in the hospital to meet him right after he was born. The list goes on. Having amazing people around makes moving back exciting and fun and enjoyable. (Guys, thank you for everything and helping us so much. We owe you all. Big time.)

So, since being back from the 3 month Peruvian journey, life’s been a crazy case of great and scary and awesome. Michael and I celebrated our first anniversary, we discovered we love rappelling and climbing, I’ve started a new job, friends have gotten married and had babies, we have a new apartment, and all of the sudden it’s fall. When did that happen?

Aaaaand photo dump:

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IMG_2334 rock climbing in Utah IMG_2394 Bryce Canyonbeach in San Diego IMG_2422 IMG_2424 IMG_2439 IMG_2461 IMG_2478 IMG_2486 photo 5 photo 1 photo 4

 

The Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu

On Sunday morning we woke up at 2am and piled into a convi bus (mini bus) and drove 1.5 hours into the sacred valley. When we arrived at the train station everything was still pitch black and freezing. We waited around until about 4:45am when they let us board the train. As we sped down the train tracks, the sun started to come up and we could see the river right next to us and the mountains towering above. I can’t even explain how ridiculously cool it was.

train to machu picchu

Cusco Peru

After about an hour and a half on the train, we arrived in Aguas Calientes, where we ran to buy bus tickets and then waited in line for our final ascent up to the ruins.

train to machu picchu

As we drove up the windy road up the mountain, the sun broke over the mountains and everything was beautiful. After 5 hours of buses and trains, we finally made it to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. That place is hard to get to, but it’s so worth it. Seriously. And it’s massive! We explored for 8 hours and there was still more to see. But, enough talking, here’s what we saw (although pictures don’t really do it justice):

Lost city of the Incas

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Machu Picchu

Peru

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Peru

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Machu Picchu

travel peru

Machu Picchu

I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful it is there. After 8 hours in the ruins, we took the bus back down into Aguas Calientes where we ate dinner by the river and explored the plethora of shops. We grabbed the 6pm train back to Ollantaytambo and another bus back to Cusco and our day at Machu Picchu was over, just like that. Good thing we have pictures so we can remember days like this forever, am I right?

Aguas Calientes

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, everything but the…

Everything but Machu Picchu. Because that gets its own post.

sleeping in the airport

Nothing makes you feel more like a true backpacker like sleeping in an airport because you can’t afford a hotel during your 14 hour layover. We flew into Lima, payed for some overpriced Subway sandwiches, and then joined the other 20 random people who were going to be with us in the long night ahead. We lined the hallway and waited until 1:30am when they would let us go to our gate and sit on actual chairs. From there we tried to get some sleep and then caught our 9am flight to Cusco.

mountains in Peru

The Andes Mountains are king in South America, and this view proves why. After we landed we headed to the house we would be staying at (which we found on Airbnb.com, seriously go use it). Our host, Carlos, welcomed us in, showed us around, and then sat us down with some Coca Tea (local remedy for altitude sickness) and told us about the best things to do in town and what restaurants we had to try.

We hopped on a bus that afternoon that took us around to all of the Inca Ruins that were near the city. Those Incas…just brilliant.

ruins in Cusco ruins in Cusco

I guess the Spanish can build cool things too…

Cuzco Peru

That night our friend Arturo drove us up to the Christus up on the hill to overlook the city.

travel Cusco

We decided to spend one of our days in the area visiting the Sacred Valley. We grabbed a local bus out to Pisac, a beautiful town in the valley known for its market and ruins. The Incans seemed to build all of their ruins in highly unreachable places, so of course these ones were on top of another mountain. We decided to taxi up, explore the ruins, and hike down. The ancient buildings and incredible views did not disappoint.

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Now, besides having amazing ancient ruins and a history that will intrigue even non-history buffs, Cusco is beautiful, lively, clean, and just plain awesome to explore. We ate some great food, explored the markets, enjoyed wandering the streets, and sat in the Plaza de Armas to people watch and relax. Cusco is incredible. Go there. Please.

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The placed we stayed really made this trip da bomb. Carlos (our host) helped us book trips, found us spots on buses  when everything was full, and even woke up at 2am one day to make sure we made it to our train on time. The other people staying in the house were great as well. The house was 2 blocks from the main plaza, we got a great authentic breakfast every morning, and we found legit Incan tools hanging in the back room.

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I can’t say enough about our trip to Cusco. It was breathtaking, invigorating, bold, and life-changing. In 4 days it stole my heart.

Next up…Machu Picchu!

Trujillo: Capital of the everlasting Spring

Huanchaca beach

I have a lot of catching up to do, but I’ll start here, with Trujillo. One of the guys we work with, Cesar, is a native of Trujillo and we jumped at the chance when he offered to show us around. A bunch of us loaded onto a bus (so many bus trips this summer) and headed south.

Cesar picked us up from the station and the girls piled into his car and the boys packed into a taxi and then we all headed to Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).

Huaca of the moon

Trujillo Peru

Next, we headed right over to Chan Chan, an ancient city in the middle of the desert. These people sure knew how to make something beautiful out of dirt.

ruins in Peru Trujillo

Chan Chan

We spent the night enjoying the city center and failing at going out clubbing because we passed out from exhaustion too early (lame-o’s). The next day was beaches and piers and sleeping on buses.

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Hey Peru friends, I like traveling with you.

ruins in Peru

Lately in Chiclayo

Peru

Last week we met up with some of our Peruvian friends (who are so cool and talented it’s unreal) and grabbed a convi bus out to Pátapo. We originally went with the intent to hike to an Incan lagoon we heard about, but it ended up being out of reach so we settled on hiking up two mountains to see some ruins and a great view.

hiking in Peru

This is our crew. 6 interns from the U.S, 3 Peruvian best friends, 1 Peruvian guide, and 1 Australian named Spaceman Africa. Man, I love the world and traveling and meeting awesome people.

Hiking in Peru

Patapo Peru

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At the top of the mountain, our friend Jota told three of us to go stand at the edge, he was going to do a blessing/cleansing ritual for us. Not sure what to expect, we obliged and stood overlooking the valley. He instructed us to close our eyes, not opening them for anything, and to imagine our greatest goals for our lives and our futures. Then, one by one, he came over with a bottle that held a perfume fragrance liquid and blew the liquid on our neck, feet, hands, faces, and hair. He also created haunting music which he played during this ceremony. It’s hard to describe, but it was beautiful.

hiking in Peru

After hiking all over these mountains, we headed back down to the town. On the way we ran into a witches house which had these baby dolls nailed to trees all around their house. Quite possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever encountered.

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In other news, I was on Peruvian TV the other day for the magazine project Ben, Ashley, and I are working on. It was hilarious and typically latin.

Channel 51 Peru

With less than two weeks left life here just feels like we are running downhill and there’s no stopping. We are keeping busy with wrapping up projects, writing articles, and gearing up for an awesome trip to Macchu Pichu next week.

*several photos in this post taken by my friend Hector, an amazing Peruvian photographer.