Category Archives: relax

la gran experiencia!

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

my gran came to visit!!!! hold on. i am going to repeat that for you, so it can sink in: MY GRAN CAME TO VISIT!!!!!!! and my goodness, did she have quite the experience! before coming to visit me, she spent 2 weeks traveling with another tour group that went to cusco, machu picchu, puno, and bolivia! then she headed up north to the coastal desert, where we hung out. she attended my classes and meetings with me. in fact, i think she got as close as one can get to having the “peace corps experience.” we stayed at my house, and she slept in my bed, and i made use of the tile floor. we hung out with my family and friends, and she became the local celebrity. we also took the time to see some of the local sites out here, since my region is rich in history and filled with archeological sites.

enjoying her first ceviche!

enjoying her first ceviche!

breakfast with mi familia.

breakfast with mi familia.

 

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

another cute photo with my family.

another cute photo with my family.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

we then took a day trip to trujillo, where we visited the ruins of chan chan and also, took time to walk around the city and, of course, ate delicious food!

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

the view of the plaza.

the view of the plaza.

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

after taking over the coast, we then traveled to a region in the south eastern part of the country, madre de dios. we stayed at a couple of lodges on the rio tambopata in the amazon rainforest basin. we were just tucked away in one of the few untouched parts of the amazon rainforest, and we were just a stone’s throw from puno and bolivia. needless to say, it was one of the most incredible vacations i have ever been on. we saw more than 70+ species while we were there, and saw various types of ecosystems. if you ever have a chance to travel there, i highly recommend it!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

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enjoying our boat ride!

enjoying our boat ride!

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our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

birdwatching with our guide.

birdwatching with our guide.

oxbow lake.

oxbow lake.

a log covered in bats.

a log covered in bats.

with a kepok tree.

with a kepok tree.

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it's brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it’s brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

the fruit in question.

the fruit in question.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

our room at the research center.

our room at the research center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

enjoying a muddy hike!

enjoying a muddy hike!

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

fashion queen! but seriously.

fashion queen! but seriously.

enjoying the view of puno.

enjoying the view of puno.

honestly. the best part of the entire vacation was getting to spend time with my gran. she is incredible and vivacious and i hope that i have inherited her good health. but really. i have always had a close relationship with my gran, so i am so glad that we were able to have a chance to share this time together, and also that she was able to see the life that i have forged for myself here. love her. and miss her.

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taking over the sierra.

beautiful huascaran.

beautiful huascaran.

or really, it would have been that the sierra took over me, since i spent the entire time there with a terrible cold that i am just now really getting over. in fact, it took two days after we came down from the mountainous city for my ear to finally pop…it was pretty tragic.

anyways, i headed to the beautiful department of ancash and stayed in huaraz, which is the department’s capital city nestled up in the andes, for a few days for a peace corps training for project design and management (pdm), and followed that training with my in-service training (ist). at pdm, we each brought a community partner that we work with, and introduce them to basic project design and management 101. it’s extremely rich in information and also follows an american schedule, which of course exhausted all the socios, as they are not used to working a 8a-6p schedule without a siesta in the middle of the day. it was also a lot of work to reiterate a lot of the principles that were being taught, but it was great to get to know my socio better, and we have become even better friends as a result!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

while there, in between being sick and at trainings, some ladies and i took the time to see a few other places in ancash.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

the domineering huascaran.

the domineering huascaran.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

on our way to see pastoruri.

on our way to see pastoruri.

some wild horses.

some wild horses.

one of a kind cacti.

one of a kind cacti.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol' smokey.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol’ smokey.

carlhey and i on our horses.

carlhey and i on our horses.

the view on our hike.

the view on our hike.

i made it!!!!

i made it!!!!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

another example of the melting glacier.

another example of the melting glacier.

brrrrrrr!

brrrrrrr!

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semana santa.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

last week was a national holiday here in peru, semana santa. everyone, both peruvians and volunteers, had the majority of the week off. to celebrate, i was originally going to go hiking in chachapoyas to a remote lagoon, but due to my needing to be back at site early and to the number of mudslides in the sierra right now due to the rain, i opted to head north with some girlfriends and relax on the largest tourist beach in all of peru, mancora.

first, i went and visited for the day at a friend’s site just outside of piura city, and we did a couple of english-teaching charlas. after, we packed our bags and headed west to the beach. the weather was warm. the water was perfect. the food was incredible. and it was nice to feel like i wasn’t in peru for a few days. no one stared at us, and the service at the restaurants were surprisingly attentive. i was there with a group of about 6 girls, and we just had a delight. we went to the beach all-day everyday, and would eat a delicious dinner in the evening, and normally went dancing for a little while after. all and all, it was incredibly relaxing. and i think, i am one of the only volunteers to go to mancora for the first time and walk away absolutely loving it…

kg, sandy & me.

kg, sandy & me.

the only notable adventure from the trip was the journey back. as mentioned earlier, i needed to be back to site a day early, which put kg and i traveling back on a big travel day. most large bus companies were already full, so we opted for a smaller company. the night of, we showed up a little early for the bus, and a guy told us that it was broken down, and was not going to show. so, while i waited to get the full story from our vendor, kg went to see if she could find another bus. luckily, she flagged a bus down that was headed to trujillo, and they agreed to stop in chiclayo for us. as they pulled up, i demanded our money back, and then accidentally took too much money back as i swiftly grabbed the remaining change in his hand, and hopped onto this bus that stopped to pick us up off the side of the road. the bus was completely booked, so we were stuck riding in the front cabin with the drivers, who basically sold us their seats for a pure profit. though i wouldn’t say we got the best night’s sleep or any sleep at all, as the driver was chewing on coca leaves, as the other drivers took swigs of liquor before taking over their portion of the drive. the sad reality, is that what we saw is not unique to our bus, but is more so common and we only witnessed what really happens on our bus trips. however, we made it back safe and sound and there was limited swerving on the road, so all and all it was quite the trip! so worth it! and honestly, i loved that delightful week with my ladies!!!

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central lima.

in the plaza mayor in lima.

in the plaza mayor in lima.

during my 2.5 months of training, i never went to lima all that often. i was, generally, too preoccupied in integrating with my family in order to increase my language proficiency, so having a few days in lima with mp was perfect. we went to the main plaza as well as visited the catacombs, which really gave me the heebyjeebies, but so much fun at the same time. i definitely recommend this stop while exploring central lima!

only smiles in the plaza mayor.

only smiles in the plaza mayor.

 

the cathedral of san francisco, where the entrance to the catacombs is located.

the cathedral of san francisco, where the entrance to the catacombs is located.

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parque de las reservas.

IMG_2728earlier in the day we visited my family in lima, and they gave us the best recommendation we received all week: parque de las reservas. at night they have a giant water show, and the park is filled with numerous other fountains with light and music and interesting structures. it was so much fun! however, i would say that we left wishing that we had worn our swimsuits, as it was so tempting to run and play in all the fountains as well.

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we were soaked after running through the fountain tunnel behind us.

we were soaked after running through the fountain tunnel behind us.

this one was a blast to watch. all the kids tried not to get sprayed until...

this one was a blast to watch. all the kids tried not to get sprayed until…

SURPRISE!!!!

SURPRISE!!!!

if you ever have a free evening in lima, i highly recommend this. it is only 4 soles to enter and is located next to the national stadium. it is so much fun and will bring out the kid in you!

 

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barranco.

the streets were lined with old houses that made me feel like i was in the old-timey french quarter of new orleans.

the streets were lined with old houses that made me feel like i was in the old-timey french quarter of new orleans.

while walking along the beach, we made our way over to the neighboring district of barranco. it’s known for it’s architecture, as it was the home of  many of the french and italian immigrants. now it is just full of ceviche restaurants and to a more relaxed bohemian feel than the rest of of its neighbors.

we grabbed some ceviche at canta rana, which had the best ceviche i have ever had. the atmosphere of the restaurant was a delightful change of pace as well.

we grabbed some ceviche at canta rana, which had the best ceviche i have ever had. the atmosphere of the restaurant was a delightful change of pace as well.

i loved the delightful little library in the town plaza.

i loved the delightful little library in the town plaza.

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miraflores.

at the nearby parque kennedy.

at the nearby parque kennedy.

while in miraflores, we stayed in a condo just 2 blocks away from parque kennedy and only a 15 minute walk to the beach. we frequented both locations quite a bit during our last leg of the trip.

the famous miraflores coastline.

the famous miraflores coastline.

 

walking along the beach.

walking along the beach.

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nye.

getting ready for our night out.

getting ready for our night out.

we arrived in lima, miraflores to be exact, on new years eve. peruvians have all sorts of traditions for new years. first of all, everyone wears yellow (we obviously dropped the ball on this one, as noted above), and that especially includes yellow underwear…stands selling the garments littered the streets. at midnight there’s a lot of fireworks and many eat 12 grapes for good luck and run around the town fountain (sometimes with suitcases) in order to bring great travels in the new year. in my site, many people had miniature dolls that they burned in the middle of the street signifying leaving the old behind in 2012 and becoming anew in 2013. having it be that we were in lima, we just stuck with the grapes and the fireworks…but it was still a lot of fun. in fact, i woke up at 5:30 am to all of lima still celebrating!

some of the crowd sporting their yellow.

some of the crowd sporting their yellow.

just after it struck midnight! i can't believe it is 2013 already.

just after it struck midnight! i can’t believe it is 2013 already.

this picture really doesn't do the fireworks justice. not only could we see fireworks along he coastline, but they were happening right behind us too. so much so, that it was hard to watch without getting debris in our eyes, but still so much fun!

this picture really doesn’t do the fireworks justice. not only could we see fireworks along he coastline, but they were happening right behind us too. so much so, that it was hard to watch without getting debris in our eyes, but still so much fun!

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chincheros.

chincheros.

chincheros.

we made our way to chincheros, which is well-known for its textiles and open-air market. unfortunately, we were there on a non-market day, but we still had the fabulous opportunity to visit a homestead who’s family specialized in creating natural textiles.

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nancy greeting us to her homestead.

nancy greeting us to her homestead.

all of the examples of local plants that are used to create dyes for the alpaca.

all of the examples of local plants that are used to create dyes for the alpaca.

nancy showing us how to clean the alpaca wool and then spool it into yarn.

nancy showing us how to clean the alpaca wool and then spool it into yarn.

after, she dressed us up in the finest sierran wear.

after, she dressed us up in the finest sierran wear.

sacred valley.

IMG_2416christmas night, we took an overnight bus to lima, and then caught a flight out to cusco. our first few days in cusco, we stayed in the sacred valley, which turned out to be a great decision, not only because it’s gorgeous but because it’s located at 9,000 ft above sea level, rather than the 11,000 ft in cusco city. we stayed in a town called yucay, in an old monastery turned into convent. it was gorgeous. and a delightful, relaxing stay to get our adventures started.

our taxi stopped at this incredible view on our way to yucay.

our taxi stopped at this incredible view on our way to yucay.

some kiddos hanging out under their mom's merchandise table.

some kiddos hanging out under their mom’s merchandise table.

our hotel in yucay.

our hotel in yucay.

my dreams were coming true with these cuties!

my dreams were coming true with these cuties!

the rural life in the sierra.

the rural life in the sierra.

a mountain with...SNOW!

a mountain with…SNOW!

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