Im going to take this point in my blog where I spent 2 weeks back in the states visiting family and having an absolute blast at the Lightning in a Bottle music festival to go over a bit of “lessons learned” in the past 3 months of my travel abroad. I had never really done much travel outside of the country besides Mexico and this was my first time getting out in the world on my own and really pushing myself out of my comfort zone so I had (and still have) a lot to learn. I don’t feel like Mexico really counts because everywhere I went in Mexico was so touristy that I never really had to stop speaking English and living in San Diego, we have a pretty good sense of Mexico anyways. (more…)
Arequipa, Cuy, Cocal Canyon then Adios Peru! July 25, 2010
I woke up as we rolled into Arequipa, grateful that we were able to sleep through the journey and would be ready to spend the day exploring. We hopped in a cab and headed to a hostel Jairo found in his guidebook only to find out it was full and were directed to a different place the cab driver recommended. Seemed pretty good so we checked in and paid for two nights.
We were in time for free breakfast so we headed up to the roof and were quite impressed with the amazing view of the snow capped mountains and volcanoes in the distance.While we were relaxing after breakfast Jairo noticed his feet and ankles were abnormally huge. He wasn’t feeling all that great and these weren’t just swollen, it was a case of straight up CANKLES. We didn’t really have much on the agenda for the day so we decided to walk around Arequipa a bit and check out the main attraction in town, Santa Catalina Monastery and explore our options for visiting Cocal Canyon. But first, get to a pharmacy to see if they had something for the bug bites that I believed he was having an allergic reaction to causing his ankles to swell up and making him feel a bit under the weather. (more…)
Cusco and Machu Picchu with Jyro July 24, 2010
We had to drive about 30 minutes to the Peruvian border from the Chilean border and when we got there, the taxi driver had to take my passport for reasons unknown to me, which makes me so nervous every time to not be able to see it at all times. Plus, I was still a bit concerned about the shoes being shoved into the car lining but I was just praying it wasn’t anything more serious than shoe smuggling. We finally made it through and I got my passport back and was dropped off at the bus station in the city right inside Peru. I needed to find a bus to Cusco where Jairo would be arriving that day and I would arrive in the morning after an overnight bus. While I was trying to order breakfast, in walked Mari from Scotland, who I had met in San Pedro de Atacama on the star gazing tour. The timing was perfect since she spoke Spanish and could help me decipher what a good Peruvian breakfast might entail. She was a really cool and friendly girl and exchanged information to possibly meet while I was going to be in Lima before I flew back to the states. (more…)
36 Hours in Chile July 22, 2010
When I woke up, we were somewhere between Salta and the border of Chile in the middle of nothing but the scenery was amazing. You could see the Andes in the distance and the colors of the landscape were breathtaking. Every once in a while we would pass an area that was completely white like snow, but it’s the middle of the desert so I assume it was some of the infamous salt flat areas. I was pretty much in and out of sleep for most of the journey but was impressed with the surroundings each time I happened to wake up and look out the windows.
The strangest thing about crossing the borders was that you stopped to exit Argentina and then we must have driven for at least another hour or so before we entered Chile. I’m not even sure how that works…..it’s like we were in no man’s land. I wonder who has jurisdiction? I mean granted there was nothing in between but if you killed someone out there, who is coming after you? Just a thought…. (more…)
Salta and Amazing New Friends from Sapoland July 15, 2010
Noah was going to be picking up their daughter Lila a few blocks from where Nicki was staying so I was able to grab my pack and walk to meet him there. They currently had 6 other couch surfers staying at their amazing home in the countryside of Salta but were still more than happy to have me over as well. Lucky for me, they had planned to have a feast of traditional Argentina parilla since there were so many fellow couchsurfers. Noah threw everything on the grill, everyone had a glass of wine or a beer and I got to know some of the people who were staying at the house. First and foremost, their 6-year-old daughter Lila is one of the most curious and interested little girls I have ever had the joy of meeting Nahuel had already been bragging about how impressed he was with ability to go back and forth from Spanish to English without even blinking. How lucky this girl is going to be so advantaged by being completely bilingual her whole life! (more…)
When our bus arrived in Cafayete, we all headed to a hostel together, me, Nicki, Guapie & Pamela (Buenos Aires girls) and Andrea (Italian guy) and pretty much stuck together for the next couple of days. Nicki, Andrea and I did the winery tour in Cafayete in the morning because the wine is supposed to be just as good as the wineries in Mendoza and since I wasn’t heading that far south this time around, I really wanted to make sure we got that in. The wine was fabulous and we all ended up getting a bottle for later.
I’m not one to waste delicious wine so Nicki lovingly called me her “wine bucket” since I finished all her wine tasting for her. After the wine tour, we had about an hour before we were leaving for Quebrada de los Conchas, which was supposed to be some amazing canyon and red rock scenery on the way up to Salta. We ended up sharing a bottle of wine and eating my favorite, of course empanadas, to kill the time. (more…)
Tafi De Valle with Nicki July 11, 2010
When I woke up the next morning in Tucuman I had pretty much no idea what to do since they were unable to help me set up a rock climbing adventure. Apparently, it was some sort of National Labor Day holiday and everything was closed and everyone was off. There wasn’t a whole lot I wanted to see in the area and I met my dorm mate, Nicki from Germany who was leaving that afternoon on the first available bus to head to Tafi de Valle. I didn’t know anything about it but it was heading north towards Salta where I needed to end up within a week or so and I decided why not go along with my new friend. As we were checking out, Christian popped up and said he had been to Tafi recently and it was a cool mountain town well known for its cheese. I like cheese, sounds good to me. We got the last tickets on the bus out and away we went. The drive up was absolutely amazing with lots of lush greenery. The road was insane with tons of switchbacks and at one point we saw a bus that had driven off the road and was lying on its side tipped over with the passengers outside all pushing to try to get it upright. (more…)