Hola! I’ve been in Peru for about a week and half and I leave for my Machu Picchu trek tomorrow at 4 AM! Ok actually, I wrote this the night before I left for my trek, but the internet was too slow to upload the pictures! Haha. But let’s pretend because I think the trek and Machu Picchu deserves it’s own post 🙂 It’s been a whirlwind week and half since I’ve left the tundra and now the next few days I’m going to be off the grid and hiking so in an attempt to not go out tonight and get rest, it seems like a good time to write an update. Being in a tour group means that I’m constantly going to new places, seeing new things and learning about them from local tour guides. I’m not a big bucket list person, but I do love to check a box. So the best way to think about my journey is in KPIs and let’s be honest, the best KPIs are ones that you know you’re going to meet, so here is an update on the KPIs of an interesting trip.
Dumplings and Yoga: I added these to my KPI list on my first trip. How many countries can I practice yoga in and how many countries can I eat dumplings in? The little things that make life good, right?! Well, I added Peru to the list. I did a bit of yoga on my own in Lima. I bought a travel yoga mat so I have no excuses 😊 But, I went to a class in Cusco. Getting there was an ordeal, between a closed studio, pouring rain, and directions to other studios in Spanish. Well, this one turns out that it was just me in the class, and the teacher didn’t speak English. The yoga class seemed to be a mix of some Bikram sequence (not in heat), a lot of pranayama (thanks Johnny for teaching me so much so I could know what he was getting at!), then what I can only really liken to tai chi movements and Pilates exercises. But at the end, I felt great, so Peru was a great addition to the list 😊 Which I think is now at 6.
The building behind me is where the yoga studio I found on Google maps was supposed to be… but no worries, I got my own private Spanish yoga class 🙂
As for dumplings, it’s really a meat and potatoes kind of cuisine. There are some Chinese restaurants called Chifas, but I haven’t been to any yet. So, I decided that empanadas are kind of Peruvian dumplings? It’s a local food and is popular and is a little stuffed pocket, which is basically what I call dumplings? So I had a lomo saltado empanada. Lomo saltado is a classic Peruvian beef and potatoes dish so I figured it was a good authentic dumpling 😊 That tally is now at 7. I had dumplings in China but didn’t do more yoga than a few stretches in the morning, so that’s why dumplings are up one on yoga.
Adventure activities: I started this one in New Zealand when I banged out 3 good ones – skydiving, paragliding and bungy jumping. I tried to go paragliding in Lima but the wind wasn’t right. But I did add a new one – dune buggying and sandboarding! In Nazca, we went out to the desert and drove around in a buggy which is kind of like a cross between an ATV and a Jeep Wrangler. You drive it around the sand dunes and go over jumps and stuff. It was great! Then we essentially went snowboarding or sledding in the sand, which was also super fun! Except walking back up the dune… that sucked. Otherwise, a great new adventure!
Countries and continents visited: Now I’ve been to South America! Check. Peru makes my 26th country (I think?). Mexico makes the 10th country I’ve been in on my year off (including Canada which I just went into with Niagara Falls)
Spanish, Machu Picchu, Salt Desert: Spanish is why I wanted to take this leg of the journey. Machu Picchu and the Salt Desert are why this tour. I have gotten a lot of Spanish practice and actually, I’ve really enjoyed it and I think it’s really enhanced my experience here. It’s been great!! The other two, I haven’t been to yet! TBD!
Weather delays causing unplanned country sleepovers: I jinxed myself to start the trip. On my insta pic of the day I made a comment about the weather, then sure enough, snow and deicing delayed us in Minnesota over an hour. That was just enough for me to miss my connection and have to spend the night in Mexico City. As this is my 3rd unplanned country stay over in the last year due to missing a connection because of weather (I was delayed going from Greece to Boston and spent the night in Amsterdam and then going from Thailand to New Zealand and spent the night in China.) I know the routine a little bit. First you worry about getting your ticket out, then your bags, then your place to stay. In this case, the first two sorted themselves out relatively easily. I was on an AeroMexico/Delta partner flight. The Delta guy told me I would get a hotel room in Mexico City. The AeroMexico person said I wouldn’t. My flight was at 8 AM and they wanted me to be there 3 hours early, and I landed around midnight, so I was hoping the hotel would work out. Anyway, as I was about to board my flight from Cancun to Mexico City, the gate agent called my name and said I had a hotel room in Mexico City, and handed me a note on the back of a boarding pass. HAHAHA. When I landed in Mexico City, I went on a goose chase to 4 different people all over the airport, but alas, I did have a free hotel room. My Amsterdam delay was fine, I got to go out at night and I was coming back to work after vacation, so extending holiday and then going into work tired and smelly was fine 😊 China was stressful because I didn’t speak the language, but in reality, I didn’t have any hurry to get to New Zealand so it was ok. This one was just entertaining because every step of the way, I was directed to speak to multiple people. Most of them had limited English. It was just a roller coaster of what’s going to happen next?!?!
Superlative titles: One of the great things about going on a tour where I see so much, that’s lead by local tour guides, is I get a lot of facts about how great the place is! So in this category, most of them I didn’t know I was even looking to collect, but now that I have done it, I wonder how I existed before 😊
Driest desert: The first stop after leaving Lima was a town called Paracas. We went to a national park. The national park was a desert that was on the Pacific Ocean. I’ll spare you all the details about this desert, because I had like 2 hours of information on it… but it really was cool! Anyway, it’s part of Atacama Desert, which is the driest desert in the world. I guess I don’t need to visit anymore deserts. Check please.
Red sand beach: As I said in the desert, we went to this national park with the desert that bordered the ocean. There was a small beach that is red. There are 5 red beaches in the world. This is one. Another is in Santorini, so I’m 40% done!! Funny story though, in Santorini they talk about the red, black and white beaches all on the island. The first time I saw a red beach on my boat cruise I was like, eh, that’s not really red, and didn’t think it was that special. Haha. I kind of felt the same way when I saw this one. So even though I’m 40% through this natural wonder of the world checklist, I’m still kind of a bitch about it! Oops. So I’d say who wants to go with the find the others…. But I wouldn’t be impressed 😊
Deepest canyon: As we made our way South to Cusco, another stop was to visit the Colca Canyon and Colca Valley. We went to the canyon to see condors, which are the largest flying bird. They were pretty cool. But also, where we went to see them was the Colca Canyon which is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world, the deepest is in Chile/Argentina. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. So, if you ever want to see a Canyon, I guess just go to South America 😉
Natural disasters: I have real reservations on scoring this one, because I don’t actually want a collection of natural disasters under my belt, especially while traveling. However, when I was in Arequipa, we had a 5.9 earthquake. We were eating dinner on the 2nd floor of this restaurant and it first felt like someone was shaking their leg which made the table shake. Then I was like, are people running up the stairs and that’s what’s shaking the floor? But one of the guys I was with is from New Zealand and he’s like, this is an earthquake. We looked around and most people had jumped up and left. But as we were going to leave, it stopped. So I mean, hey, I’ve experienced an earthquake?!
Irish bars: Last night, in Cusco, Peru, I went to find somewhere to watch the Vikings game (take a moment to cry Vikings fans). Sports bars aren’t really a thing here in Peru, but I saw an Irish bar and thought it seemed promising. It was. Inside, there was a sign that this is the highest (elevation) Irish owned, Irish bar in the world. I was telling my friend on the trip about it and she was like, yeah, there seems to be Irish bars all over! She said that she had a great time at an Irish bar in China! It got me thinking that hmm, yeah, if I see an Irish bar somewhere, I usually figure it will be lively and give it a try! I know for sure that I was in Irish bars in Ko Phagnan, Thailand; Bangkok, Thailand; and Queenstown, New Zealand. I’m also pretty sure I went to one in Sydney, Australia. So, I feel like I should see how many Irish bars around the world I can visit?
Flat Eliza’s Feature: You may have seen this on my Instagram story, but this trip I have a new friend with me – Flat Eliza! My friend Jenny’s second grader Eliza’s class made stick figures of themselves that people are supposed to send around the world and take a picture and send a note back to the class about where they are. It’s kind of funny because Jenny and I had Eliza’s brother, Flat Emmett with us in Paris a couple of years ago, so I feel like it’s meant to be. The project just started and nobody in Eliza’s class had visited anywhere outside of the country, so I made the cut to get her. I forget to take her with me, and then when I do it’s not the coolest pics, hahah sorry Eliza. Anyway, here is Flat Eliza in Lima, Peru and then visiting the Nazca lines (and the Pan-American Highway) on a little Cesna plane. Sorry, Eliza. The Nazca lines pics leave a lot to be desired. I’d blame my iPhone for not focusing on the lines when Eliza was in the shot so I had to settle for the corner of her head… but really, I was just trying not to throw-up bahahaha
Wanderlust dreaming: There are 13 of us on this tour, including me. 3 other people are on a year long travel adventure. 3 more quit their jobs to travel. 2 more are retired and have done some crazy things like motorcycle down from Texas to Costa Rica and back. So needless to say, these guys all have amazing stories of the places they’ve visited. It makes me really want to go back to Asia and go to Cambodia and Vietnam (and then I can also visit my yoga friends Megan and Lindsay who are teaching in those places!), and really want to go to Africa. Ugh, I’ve wanted to go to Africa but it just seems scary. Well these guys have talked about ways that don’t seem so crazy expensive or dangerous. So now I have Africa with wanting to go to Egypt and see the pyramids and scuba dive, see my friend Lisa in Ethiopia, and then a trek/safari in the South! I also want to see the Grand Canyon. I haven’t seen it. I’ve always wanted to, and now that it’s like, I’m seeing all this amazing stuff around the world, I feel like I definitely want to see the amazing things in my relative backyard! I also still am pumped about the rest of this trip, want to go back to Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. I want to visit my friends back in Boston and in other places across the US for that matter. I want to visit my friends in Europe, and there’s more of Europe I really want to see… But for now, I’ll just stay super excited to continue my South American adventure 🙂