CUSCO

The Festival Of The Sun

They call it “Inti Raymi”! it is the most important festival the Cusco has. Derived from their ancestors, the festival of the sun is a 2 week extravaganza! We arrived to Cusco on the 14th. This was before our trek in the mountains. Each night they have parades and fireworks. We returned after our trek on the 20th and nothing changed, they were still partying day and night in preparation for June 24th!

We decided that it would be worth our time to stick around for a couple extra days and see what all the hype was about and we are glad we did! We witnessed so much that it would be hard to put to words… So check out the video.

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Machu Picchu

Mind over matter: The path you choose is yours alone.

Quote of the day: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius

People we met:

  • Eduardo: Our fearless tour guide! This man was solely responsible for the health of 10 grown adults that have little to no experience in mountain hiking, let alone @ 15,000 feet! I’m so happy that we had him as a guide. You can tell how much he enjoys his job, but even more, you can tell that he respects his land and ancestry.
  • Martin and Iris: The super humans! Age: late 20s. This couple from Holland acted as if they were professional mountain climbers. The altitude didn’t bother them in the slightest. I wish we could have been so lucky. Even better the spent the previous week hiking an even higher mountain range!!! They are crazy but they are also really good people and we had a lot of fun laughing with them as we got to know each other.
  • Shane and Claire: The newly weds! Congrats to them! They were 1/2 way through their honeymoon and after this trip they are headed towards Havana Cuba for some R&R in the sun on the beach! We loved these guys, they were the comedians in the group and had us all rolling on the floor the entire way!
  • Carmel and Liam: This Mother son combo are on a family vacation. Her husband and daughter didn’t want to hike the entire trip so we met them at the city while Carmel (50 ish) and Liam (early 20’s) walked the path with us! I really enjoyed these two. They are truly good people. Carmel is a social worker specializing in women’s rights and Liam is 1/2 way through medical school with ambitions on working on diagnostic procedures specifically, how to improve doctor’s ability to diagnose correctly and more accurately.
  • Clayton and Lauren: The youngsters in the group. Both in their early 20s and also close to super humans. Clayton is from Colorado and wasn’t phased by the height. Lauren on the other hand was not and suffered just as badly as Amanda and I did.

I am so glad we did this, but I NEVER want to do it again! The reward was amazing but it was not worth the pain. Now, let me be clear… If this was a 7 day trek where we were able to take shorter hikes at a pace where we could enjoy our surroundings, learn about the local flora and fauna, have the ability to take our time… I WOULD LOVE IT! I thought we were going to be taking a walk in the mountains for a few days. HAHAHA!!!

This is going to be a short one because we created a video of our trek to share with you all and. Hope you enjoy.

*Note from Amanda: While it seems like I was miserable at times (and I was), I sit here now and I am very grateful that I was able to do this trek. There were many times that were not on film where I was smiling, laughing, and having great conversations with people from all over the world! It was overall an awesome experience!

Welcome To The Jungle

Monkeys, Piranhas, Dolphins, & SPIDERS!!!

Quote: “If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Something scary: Night hikes in the jungle to look (Yes, LOOK) for SPIDERS?!?!

People we met: Lewis and Anna, couple we met from Cambridge. Age: mid 20’s, I think. We hung out with them for most of our stay in the jungle. They are really good people and it was good getting to know them. Sadly, they got attacked by a swarm of mosquitos on their 1st of a 3 night stay. We left them on day 2 but I hope that they made it through the rest unscathed.

Udpate: This post is way past due but we haven’t had time or internet to upload anything. So I’m doing a mass dump of this and hopefully the Machu Picchu trek will come very soon.

Tuk-Tuk Jungle

Iquitos was beyond cool! By cool I mean 85 degrees in the morning and 90 by lunch and so humid that you can almost drink the air. And when they say “Rain Forest” they are not kidding! It downpours once a day for about an hour in the mid to late afternoon. Unfortunately for us, we were in the middle of the Amazon river both times and had no refuge besides the leaky thatch roof on top of the “boat”. However, no amount of rain could possibly water down how awesome of a time we had!

Let’s start with our arrival, shall we? Overwhelmed is an understatement. I feel like we finally got a real taste of what South America is about and let me tell you, it smells like death! When we arrived to the world’s smallest airport and walked out, we were immediately accosted by a hoard of “TUK-TUK” drivers. Now, many of you are asking yourself what a TUK-TUK is and until recently, we had no idea either. So allow me to elaborate. A TUK-TUK is a motorized rickshaw and they are EVERYWHERE!!! The roads are full of them! We were in a taxi which was nice for the luggage but the ride into town was NUTS with motorcycles and Tuk Tuks going all over the place! I uploaded a short video of what the ride was like so you guys could see how crazy it was.

The Hotel Was Awesome!

Once we got to our hotel we were really surprised at how nice it was and we have Zach and Rose to thank! Our original plan was to book a hostel down the street when they recommended the “Jungle House” Hotel. We figured it would be nice to upgrade our sleeping conditions after staying in hostels for a week and it was well worth the money! You cannot put a price on how good it feels to have a big, clean bed in a cool and private room with a nice shower and clean towels, it was like pure heaven! The pool and free made-to-order breakfast with a fresh fruit smoothie didn’t hurt either… anyway, instead of going on about the hotel, I’ll put some pics in here so you can see for yourself

We Were Spoiled!

I say that because the “hut” we stayed in the jungle was the complete opposite of our hotel room in Iquitos. No electricity, open bathroom, screen windows, and everything was damp to the touch due to the humidity! We ended up sleeping on top of everything in our underwear just to survive the night and we were still miserable.

I can’t complain too much because Lewis and Anna must of had a hole in one of their windows because the mosquitoes tore them up completely while they slept. They looked like adults with chicken pox! But they took it like champs and didn’t let it get in their way. Side note: Amanda and I were both talking about how were kinda jealous of Lewis. He was so passionate about learning about the animals and plants. You could tell by the tone of his voice that he was really happy to be learning about the different types of birds and other animals as we explored the jungle. We wish we had a hobby like that that we were really passionate about.

The lodge itself was really cool. Everything is on stilts because the entire area is flooded for 1/2 the year. and even though the rooms were uncomfortable, it was cool to “rough-it” for a night. Here are some pics of what the lodge looked like.

The Real Jungle

This 2 day trip was so cool! We did so much in such a short amount of time. But, by-far, the most amazing thing was the monkeys! I have a ton of pics and videos, so I made a little video of our trip! I hope you enjoy!

A Bird Just Shit On Me

… Oh well, whatcha gonna do?

Quote of the day: Wherever you go, go with all your heart. – Confucius

Something we learned: Siestas are not a luxury, they are a necessity. Throwing your crappy toilet paper in a bin is gross! and most importantly, do not play a game of chicken with the bird sitting above you in the tree

People we met:

  1. Sutherland, Age 22 from Charleston South Carolina. She graduated with a bachelors in Supply Chain Management and was visiting a friend in Peru before starting her new position in Scottsdale Arizona. The girl really loves sloths! HAHA “Honey, I got pictures!” Anyway, she was a great person to meet and we wish her well as she heads back home to start her new life in Scottsdale.
  2. 3 French girls who name all started with a “C” but I couldn’t tell you what they were. They just did the Machu Picchu Trek and were our roommates while we stayed in Barranco. They are 1000% times better than the first French girls we met in Miraflores.

Funny Story: I am considering opening a PI company called “Pick Nick” with a specialty in finding lost items. Come to find out, I am extremely skilled at finding all of the things I lose. I have successfully lost and found almost all of my belongings for varying amounts of time, but only two items are truly noteworthy: 1) My Life Straw water bottle which was stolen by the cleaning lady and returned after I emailed, called and showed up at their front door. And 2) my glasses which I lost in a park while conducting an awesome “Silly Salmon” move. Lucky for me, Amanda was taking a video of me while doing this and we were able to determine the exact location of the glasses and the park after dissecting the video for geographic clues. The problem was that I knew I lost my glasses while conducting said “Silly Salmon” move but we may or may not have been lost at the time. We named the company “Pick Nick”… Which was masterfully thought of by my partner in crime, Amanda. For future reference, she makes a great marketing manager because within 2 minutes she had a catchy slogan and a small dance number to accompany it. Unfortunately, I am banned from publicly sharing any such information. Something about public embarrassment and stuff… but it’s some good stuff.

Update: Today (Tuesday the 11th for those of you who are not reading this on the day I posted it… keep up folks!) is our last day in Lima! We head up to the Amazon with all the spiders and snakes… Most importantly we will get to see the sun soon!!! We haven’t seen the sun since we got here and I can’t wait to feel all the warmth that is has for me… But only for 10 minutes because then I need to apply sunscreen and wear my jungle hat!

On Sunday we rented bikes and rode up the coast of Lima. There is a woman with a small canopy set up about 2 mins down the street that has a sign that says “BIKES RENT” (great grammar, but oh well). It was only $3 per hour to rent bikes! I love how cheap everything down here is! Our hostel is only $11 dollars a day, breakfast is either free or about $2.50 and lunch is only $5 dollars… I’m getting off topic again.

The bike rental lady wasn’t set up when we walked over at 10:15 (most places don’t open until 11 or 12, even then, that’s early) so we decided to walk over to this cool little flea market in an alley across the street. Nothing special, but we did find a stand with hot coffee and homemade pastries. The pastry was like a small pie with fruit inside. I have no idea what fruit was in it or what it was called, but it was delicious! We sat on a park bench overlooking the ocean, eating the pastries, and drinking our coffee until the lady was ready with her bikes. You know… The rough life!

Once the lady was set up and ready, Amanda picked out a really nice bike for us. And this is how we biked up and down the coast!

HAHAHA! I’m lucky Amanda didn’t bring out a whip and scream “MUSH SLAVE MAN!!!!”… Side note: Pay close attention to the face of the woman on our right… This is why the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of idiots!

In all reality, we actually got out own bikes and the path up the coast was really cool! There were a few times when I felt like I was going to get hit by a car, but no trip is worthwhile unless you feel a little bit of danger 🙂 Take a look below at some of the things we saw on the trip:

Our new hostel is a lot different than our first one. It’s not “Bad” per se… just different. I actually really enjoy our roommates! Mainly because they consist of 3 girls from France that smoke weed all day and go to bed before we do! They even apologized for making too much noise, HAHAHA, we never heard a peep! I really love their common area also! It’s like a little outdoor oasis. I took some pics so you guys could see what it looked like!

Yesterday was supposed to be a “Lazy” day but we ended up having to walk 2 hours back to our old hostel so we could pick up my temporarily misplaced (not lost) water bottle. And like I said earlier, I lost my glasses in a park on our way to pick up my water bottle. Needless to say, it was not a “Lazy” day! I actually feel like we walked more and further than we have in the past. But it was an adventure. I never had one bad minute while we were exploring / searching because I knew that everything would work out in the end. And no matter what the outcome was, it was out of my control… So the best thing I could have done is approached the situation with a positive outlook and a smile! And in the end, we recovered all of the lost items and made some good memories while doing it. Below are some pics that we took during our adventure.

Last but not least: We are going to start playing a little game called “Where’s Wilson”. This is where we take pics of things we see but there are some hidden “Wilson’s” in the background. This is for your viewing pleasure and laughing enjoyment!

Exploring La Cuidad

Checking out what Lima has to offer

Quote of the day: If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success. – Rockefeller

Something we did: Took an Uber to a park

Something we learned: Not to take an Uber to the park

Something scary: Running into the car in front of us while in the Uber

People we met: Thais. From Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is an extremely nice woman that we met. She helped us to see something we would not have been able to without a lot of confusion… Details below.

Update: This is our last night in Miraflores. Tomorrow we go to a new Hostel in a Town called Barranco. It is supposed to be more traditional than the Bougie, upscale town we are in now.

The Water Park

Yesterday there was a guided tour that we really wanted to go on. It was to a park in Lima that had all sorts of artwork made from water fountains. However there were not enough people signed up so the tour was canceled. We thought that we were doomed, never to behold the beauty of the park and all of its glory… Luckily for us, someone wanted to see the park more that we did. This is how we met our new friend, Thais. She also wanted to visit the park and was not going to take “NO” for an answer. She heard from the people at the front desk that we wanted to go also and went looking for us.

We were a little down about the tour being canceled but we were determined to go to the park with or without a guide. There was a slight problem, we had absolutely no clue how to get there. Walking was out of the question, we have never taken a taxi, and I would rather face a raging bull than take the bus… So we headed to the information desk for directions on how to get there with as little stress as possible.

This is where Thais found us, walking to the desk in the lobby. And we are so grateful that she did! Being from Brazil and having experience traveling in South America, Thais offered to get an Uber if we would split the cost. Amanda and I looked at each other like we were just given the best gift in the world… So, with ridiculously large smiles, we agreed immediately! Let me say this… Taking a taxi or an Uber in Lima is a stressful event. There is no real way to explain the chaos that fills the streets of the city but it is something that NY or DC could never hold a candle to. At least in the states there are rules, signs, and the chaos is harnessed. Here, it is a never ending game of war.

We made it to the park safely, but on the way back we ran into the car in front of us on the expressway. The really weird thing was that both drives got out, made sure that there was nothing really broken, and then got back into their car with less than 5 words said… and we just kept on trucking?!?!?! This is not something I would ever like to experience again! OHHHH!!! I almost forgot the funniest part, the driver gave Thais 4 out of 5 stars! WTF? After he smashed into another car, we tipped, and he dropped us off a block before our hotel… What a jerk! I hope she gave him 1 star… Anyway, I’m getting off topic, I wanted to talk about the park.

So We made It To The Park!

I am so happy that we made it to the park!!! It was so much nicer than we expected and the best part is that we met a really cool friend in the process! Without her helping us we would have not been able to make it there and enjoy it like we did. Our hope is to meet up with her and her boyfriend when we get to Sao Paulo. I think it will be really nice to see a familiar and friendly face by the time we get to Brazil.

Downtown Lima

Today we took a walking tour of downtown Lima and we learned a lot. The group took the bus (2 soles = $0.75) from Miraflores, where we are now, to the center of the city. All together it took about 30 minutes to get there. The busses are are intimidating to say the least and not for the light hearted. They accelerate and stop so quickly that it is very difficult to keep yourself upright but there is nowhere to fall because the bus is so full that there is no where to move! I felt really bad for Amanda because we had two completely different experiences. My view was awesome! Mainly because the tallest person down here is about 5 foot 6 inches… Amanda’s view was not so great, lots of shoulders and backs. The suspension systems are very similar to riding on a boat in lake Erie during a small wind storm… With that said, the bus was light years better than taking an Uber but I would not put it at the top of my list in regards to traveling “Safely”.

Our tour guide’s name was “Jose” and he was very knowledgeable as well as funny. I really enjoyed getting to learn about the city and the architecture is crazy awesome! We both had a really good time. Something that was really unique was that after the tour, they gave us a map and told us to find our own way home! We got lost and had to make a couple U-turns but we were in no hurry.

Check out some of the pics of the city below.

Hostel Life

Which one of those little, smelly pieces of shit keeps turning the fan off!?!

Quote of the day: We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the ones we seek. -Obama

Coolest thing we saw: A very large and loud protest that lasted all day. We jumped in and rallied with them for a while… ya know us, just trying to do our part to bring awareness to the unfair working conditions of the Peruvian people.

Something we learned: “El Plato Del Dia” is the best thing since sliced bread! These are delicious plates that you can get for 14-15 Soles ($4 – $5 USD). We have tried their version of a ground beef patty, stuffed potato (with mystery meat), and baked chicken. All meals come with some type of a meat, a potato, and rice and they have all been really good so far!

Something we need to get used to: There is a lot! But the thing that bothers me the most is the smell of the room after 12 drunken kids crash in one small room… What really aggravates me is that it doesn’t have to smell so bad. You see, there is a window and 3 fans ; all of which I turned on at night. However, one of those smelly little kids must have gotten cold in the night and they turned the fan off… TWICE… So at 7am the room has a smell that is equivalent to getting smacked in the face with a sumo wrestler diaper… I’ll shank the little shit that thinks it’s funny to hot box a room of 15 people!

Dumbest thing we did: Tried to play “pyramid of death” (AKA flip cup on steroids) against professional drinkers (AKA 21year old kids)… Kids these days just had to go and mess up a perfectly good game. What happened to the good old days of “Cheers, pound, drink, flip?!?” Since when did the rules change? Now I have to drink, spin around twice, do a squat, build a pyramid of cups, dismantle said pyramid with one hand, and then flip cup???… We lost.

People we met:

  • Couple from Texas, Melinda and Jason. Age 42. She sells things online and he is a camera man for food network. They are trying to figure out how they can automate their life to the point that they can just travel all the time.
  • An Indian traveler by the name of Paven. Age 35. He quit his job on a whim, few to New York, backpacked through 30 of the 50 states (of course he skipped Ohio) then decided to go down through Mexico… Since he did North and Central America he decided to keep going and has plans to make his was through South America. When all is said and done, he will have been traveling for over a year by himself.

Day 3 and we are learning a lot.

We have done so much already! Yesterday we went for a run from our hostel to the beach. It is a completely different level of difficulty when running through the city. It is like playing Frogger on expert mode. Besides dodging all of the people on the sidewalk, I also had to compete with the crazy drivers that could care less if they plowed you over. I almost got hit at least 3 times. When we got to the beach we found a cool shopping plaza where we walked around few before running back. Needless to say, we are sore today.

This morning we went to a sketchy AF Yoga studio. Hahaha, you should have seen me and Amanda trying to follow along by watching everyone else because we couldn’t understand what the guy was saying. With that said, I think he did a good job of making sure we were doing okay and helping us understand as we went. It was a lot of fun.

Check out some Photos from our adventures. I especially enjoy the check that we got with the name “Gringos” as the client, haha! I know that Amanda really liked the gin bar we went to named “Give Bra = Star”

Adiós Estados Unidos Y Hola Sudamerica

Spoiler Alert for those just tuning in: I’m in South America

For many you, this is your first time reading my blog! I am assuming that you saw my post on Facebook and, out of anticipation or curiosity, you clicked the link to see what this was about. To those few that have been reading my blog for a while now, I say welcome back and thank you for reading. For the newbies in the crowd, “Welcome to the wonderful and messy world of my brain,” Here within the depths of my consciousness, you will find feeble attempts to brighten your day, enlighten your mind, and lift your hearts. I’ll use every ounce of my lackluster skills to document the adventures that Amanda and I embark on over the next couple months.

I hope that you enjoy witty banter, clever comments, odd metaphors, and vivid (sometimes wordy) depictions of our exploits because this blog is bound to be full of all of that and more (I’m hoping that you read that like an introduction to a magic show or circus… if not, please try again). However, I make no promise that it will be as entertaining as advertised… Sometimes my ambition to please is outweighed by my extreme lack of ability to do so. Think of my blog as a Christmas present from your estranged aunt. Even if it’s weird, you still pretend to like it because she is family. It’s the thought that counts, right?

By the time you read this, Amanda and I will have already landed, made it to our hostel, ate, drank, laughed, and passed out from pure exhaustion. So, to put you in my frame of reference please note that as I am typing, I find myself sitting in a plane a few thousand feet in the air. Amanda is next to me as we soar at 567 MPH over the Gulf of Mexico. It is about 1:30 am, the plane is silent and even Amanda is soundly sleeping on my shoulder. Tee minus 3 hours away from landing in Peru and I am so excited that I can’t sleep!

The last few days have been surreal. Up until now, I felt like I was living someone else’s life. The packing, the party, the goodbyes… It all felt fake until now. I kept thinking, “There is no way possible that I’m lucky enough or deserve to be in this position.” But here I am, I don’t know how, but I am. This feeling is similar to the one you get when you ride a rollercoaster. Close your eyes and think about the last time you were on your way up the 1st hill. Your heart is pounding, the world is getting smaller, even though you are surrounded by many people there is an odd silence amongst the group. As you are about to crest the top your breath shortens and time slows. Your hearing sharpens and the only audible noise is the iconic clicking as the cogs pull each car up and over the point of no return. Knowing that at any moment the last click will sound and you will be set free. Click, click, click, pshhhhh… You are overcome by the feeling of weightlessness as the earth’s gravity pulls you towards the ground. Your body reacts before your mind can comprehend and every muscle clenches.

This is the crucial moment that I am trying to explain. The nanosecond between being held back by the safety and security of life and moment that the last click is heard and your entire body is consumed with the rush of freedom as you plummet forward… I know that this was an overexaggerated way of explaining something as simple as “I’m excited and nervous” but those words don’t get to the core of how I feel. I’m on top of the world on my way down that first hill. My brain is finally catching up to my body’s first reaction and I’m about to raise my arms up high because this is going to be the best ride of my life!

On the other hand, the plane might also have something to do with this feeling of plummeting towards the ground. Wait until American Airlines hears from me about this flying tin can. We are on a 757 that should have been retired at least 5 years ago. The inside panels are being held together by tape in places, and during takeoff the plane made such a loud and high pitch noise that even the stewardess looked nervous. I mean, besides the rattling, bad smell, unexplainable noises, rock hard seats into consideration, horrible service, sweltering heat, and lack of entertainment… It’s not that bad… Not like we paid an extra $150 per seat to be upgraded or anything ::eye roll::

Fear, not my friends!

Plane 1

packed and ready

If you are reading this then we have survived the journey!!! Before I go much further, I want to share some of the pics we took on our way. As you can see we had a really good time getting ready for the flight. Goofing around on the plane was a lot of fun. Plus a few in flight “adult beverages” definitely made the trip go by a lot easier :).

Plane 2

nick drink

amanda drink

plane 3

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