Biking, rafting, hiking and hot springs (Days 1 and 2)

We spent four days of our trip with Lorenzo Expeditions on a hike that ended at Machu Picchu. It was by far the highlight of the trip and the main reason we ended up in Peru. Ariel suggested the company to me after he used them in September. We loved the team, the food and the itinerary they planned for us. The accommodations were basic, but not too shabby (also we were staying in hostels, so we’re not exactly four-star people). Plus, they were pretty cheap compared to similar companies.

The first day they fed us breakfast and drove us to the top of a mountain. There we strapped on a bunch of protective gear and got on mountain bikes. We rode 34 miles (55k) down the mountain. Everyone else thought this was fun. I do not like bikes, so I will refrain from commenting. I would like to mention it was raining on and off as cars and buses zoomed past us. Not my jam.

If I look miserable and terrified, it’s because I was.

After that, we rode a short distance to our lodging for the night. We had the option to white water raft, which really turned the day around for me. They were class three rapids in the muddy Urubamba river. Even though the water was chilly, we loved the ride and our guides brought us to the beach for some paddle games. That sounds weird, but Will almost won.

We ate dinner back at the guest house with our group in Santa Maria. La Familia as they called us was comprised of the five of us, a couple from Canada, a couple from Argentina, two Brits and a guy from Kentucky. Everyone was young (20-30ish) and well-traveled, so we had a lot in common. We ended up buying bottles of beer and staying up a little later than planned talking about Trump, Brexit, Fast and the Furious and Dolly Parton. Our group made the trip really special, it was nice to chat with different people as we hiked and ate together.

Day two started bright and early since it was our longest hike and the jungle is pretty hot. We were on an Inka Trail, however, it’s not The Inca Trail.  The most famous, commercial one is passport-protected and usually a 4-5 day hike ending at the Sun Gate. The Quechua people built thousands of miles of trail all over South America, and we were on some of that. We stopped along the way for Bruno our guide to explain the local fruits or farming.

We spent about an hour at his friend’s house where he showed us some of the items grown on the mountainside and painted our faces using this mashed up berry. We each got to toast our apu, or the mountain that was watching over the hike, with “Inka tequila.” We called it snake juice because the corn-based drink had a dead snake floating in the bottle. We tried on traditional Peruvian clothes too, and Julie did a full photoshoot.

 

We climbed along a beautiful ridge for a while in the morning, taking photos every seven steps. It was incredible. I look at the pics now, and think, meh. You really have to see it to feel the expansiveness of the mountains are and the thickness of the jungle.  By lunchtime, we made it down the mountain to stop at a house/restaurant for chow.

We ate, stocked up on water bottles and napped in the hammocks as we waited out the hottest part of the day. Did I mention we were eaten by mosquitos? We were.

The afternoon hike was what Bruno lovingly called “Peruvian Flat.” Little up and downs along the Urubamba River between the massive mountains. We crossed the river on a rickety bridge and then crossed back over on a carriage later in the hike.

The gondola that took us across the river.

By the end of the day, we covered 14 miles (23k). When we reached the hot spring near Santa Teresa at the end, we were ready to relax. We started in the most tepid third pool, or third bath as Will called it, and worked our way to the warmest one that was fed directly by the spring. The water felt great and we ate some guacamole before heading to our hotel for the evening to eat.

That night I introduced Roses and Thorns to the group (we called it Rosas y Espinas) and played in English and Spanish. We drank Cusqueno and Pisco Sours with La Familia late again. I worked on my Spanish with our other guide, Gato. Julie discovered that her bladder and hose used for hiking hydration was also perfect for late night drinks if she hung it on her bedpost.

bully book club

You guys know my constant struggle to find a book club. I love to talk about what I’m reading, but I also want to read the books I want at my pace. Is that asking too much?

I know, I know.

Last week I finished Dark Matter by Blake Couch. It was fast and enthralling. Think Michael Crichton-like sciency thriller. Explaining too much of the story gives it away, so just trust me and start it.

I read it in two days and then pestered Josh to read it since my library loan lasts until the beginning of June. He’s in in the middle of a fat book in a 14 book series (woof), so he said he’d check it out after he finished his book. I tried to explain that he’d have to get back on the library wait list, and he wouldn’t get it until July.  And I needed to talk about it nowish.

I calmly explained that he would love the book and read it very quickly. Josh told me that I was being bossy, and he was invested in his current read. I reminded him that when he married me, he married into my book club. He rolled his eyes. I gently reminded him that he’s loved almost all the books I’ve ever recommend. This went in circles for four days. Being married to me is a real treat.

I finally wore him down.

He finished it in three days. At night I’m usually up reading while he’s ready to sleep. We swapped places this past week.

Turns out, Josh loved it too. We unloaded for 15 minutes straight. Next, I gave the book to Carolyn, who is not married to me, but sometimes participates in my bully book club. She read it in a day, also gave rave reviews. She is leaning on her husband to read it too. Erin is reading it in Chicago. Blake Crouch should really be sending me $$ or maybe an early edition of his next book.

I’m becoming a monster, but you should really check out Dark Matter.

Lima, Peru

It’s time for some trip blogs!

This trip both started and ended in Lima. We stayed for a day on both ends of the trip to get some of the city flavor. I liked Lima just fine, but one day would have been enough. It’s a huge place that’s crawling with people and traffic is straight crazy. No matter where we went, it always took us at least an hour to get back to the airport.

The taxis and Ubers we took to and from the airport were… an experience. The traffic was crowded and pretty lawless. After six near-miss accidents in the first ten minutes, I was able to relax a tiny bit. Our group of five is a tight squeeze, even for a “sedan grande,” so we tried to sing along to the radio as best we could and not look at the remaining minutes on the GPS.

The first day we spent time in the historic city center. Even early, there were people out walking around. We stumbled upon the filming of a movie (soap opera?) in the Plaza de Armas while we waited for stuff to open. Our first stop was a tour of the Casa de Aliaga. Sofia our guide filled us in on Peruvian history and politics as we wondered around a historic home that was kept in the same family for 17 generations with a lot of the original woodwork and furniture. She explained how Lima gets sticky with humidity, but it hasn’t rained there in almost 100 years (most of the precipitation there is mist) eventhough it’s pretty overcast year-round. 

(No, Josh and Will didn’t match the whole trip.)

We also toured the Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. Both offered tours in English to explain the Spanish introduction of Catholicism to the Quechua people. I loved learning about how the Jesuits used the local symbols to explain Catholic teachings. I had no idea how much it influenced the Church today. The Archbishop’s Palace hosted a big art display with lots of old carved figurines with hair from real people. It was as creepy as it sounds. We ducked into the Basilica de San Francisco since we were in the neighborhood. 

The last day of the trip we were back in Lima to explore Mira Flores. The ruins of Huaca Pucllana are right in the middle of the city. There was an ancient temple there that they rebuilt in the exact place every thirty years, leaving behind layers and layers of ruins.  We also shopped around in the local craft market and caught a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. 

baaaaack in the USA

We landed on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day trying to be functioning humans after an overnight flight. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I waded through piles of dirty laundry and emptied all our bags. Josh went to the grocery store for pizza and bananas.

Coming home is both wonderful and miserable.

I treasure being back in a place where I can drink as much as I want of the (FREEE FREE FREE) tap water.  I missed the land of hovering waiters refilling my water cup all the time. My insides are readjusting to my normal diet. No alpaca, no guinea pig, no white bread, less avocados, etc.

Easing back into work today was alright. But I’d rather be planning the day’s activities and routing it out on google maps.

It’s nice, I guess, to pick clothes out of my closet instead of my suitcase, but that doesn’t really bother me. I do enjoy tossing dirties into a laundry basket instead of rearranging them in my backpack.

I miss waking up in a bunk bed in a room full of my siblings at 5am to hike.  Maybe Josh and I should look into some bunk beds for visitors and the overall hostel aesthetic?

Back here there’s an ease of pretty much every little thing from paying for purchases to asking for directions to not smothering my self in bug spray and sunscreen. It’s missing the thrill of waking up in a weird place to do and see new things. While unexpected things happen no matter where you are, it’s unlikely I’ll end up riding a horse today like we did last Thursday.

It’s good to be back. Now begins the process of wading through the hours of video footage and all the photos. I need another week off to get it done.

 

do whatever you want day

Someone asked me what I would do all day if I could get paid to do anything. I said read and internet creep, but I like to think my perfect day would be a little wilder.

I’d wake up naturally at 5am because my bladder would be hurting from having to go to the bathroom so bad. After relieving myself, I’d get back in bed and fall back asleep knowing that I still had beautiful pillow hours ahead of me.  Love that feeling.

At 8am I’d wake up for real. I’d lay in bed and read for a few minutes while Josh made me an omelet.  Thanks, Josh.

At 9, I’d do some light internet creeping and maybe work on one of the many projects on my plate that I do for funsies.

At 11, Oprah would text me asking if I wanted to go for a brisk walk. Well yes, I would! We’d meet up in matching velour track suits and hit the trail. During the walk, we’d swing our arms a lot and talk about our favorite books and podcasts, catch up on friendly gossip and swap stories on what it’s like being media moguls. She’d insist I join her for the Influential Women’s something-something dinner that night. Oh fine, O!

Light lunch, I’m not picky.

I’d kick off the afternoon with some reading on the patio, preferably in a hammock. Then a one-hour nap. Josh would wake me up singing Good Morning from Singing in the Rain and suggest we walk to Wendy’s for frostys. Naturally, I’m game.

We are somewhere near a lake, so Josh and I would jump off the dock and bob in the water sipping lake beer. Maybe some friends or family would join us. Look, I don’t know if we’re part of their best day plans?

At five I’d take a shower and get ready for the event that night. Julie would help me with hair and makeup. I can’t look like a complete oger, there might be cameras. Oprah would send a car to pick me up.

Oprah and Gayle are seated at my table, of course. Gayle and I are very friendly and not competitive for Oprah’s attention at all. Beyonce slides in right before salads begin. Gloria Steinem is telling stories, and Michelle Obama is checking her instagram. Lena Dunham invites me to a concert after the dinner with her, I say yes. She seems down to earth and the tickets are on her.

Turns out it’s a Bleachers concert, which makes sense. All my favorite dance floor friends happen to be there and we pretend like it’s Alley Bar during our prime. At 1am, the show is over and we all go home. I put on my softest nightgown and fall asleep.

four-year texaversary!

Can you believe it’s been four years since I moved to Texas? I have to celebrate this every year because it simultaneously feels like I’ve lived here a lifetime and a week.

This year in Texas…

I voted in Texas. Not that it really counted for much, but hey!

I ate mountains of queso and tacos. And Takis. And avocados. And the cucumber lime Gatorade that I love so much.

We hosted a bunch of friends on our air mat and couch. If you love Mexican food and warm weather, make your reservation today!

Some friends met us for wine walks, and we pretended to like wine.

We explored some suburbs (ok, like three of them, but we tried).

Josh and I visited Amarillo to hike Palo Duro Canyon. That felt very Texan.

I did spend some weekends in Dallas, at least I think I did?

dennis and michelle visit

Dennis and Michelle visited us this weekend and we ate and drank our way around Dallas. I think I now need a cleanse. Whenever Josh and I crossed the threshold of lapsing into our non-public weird selves, they would step up their game and raise their freak flags just a litttttle higher.

I’m not sure we stopped talking, laughing or singing the whole time they were in town. Josh and Dennis played some Tom Petty for us when we decided we’d rather hang out than pay to see him in concert. Both nights we stayed at our apartment and listened to music while catching up.  Sometimes the best use of time is hanging on the couch. We roughed out an idea for The 2016 Election: The Musical! (Dibs on the KellyAnne Conway bit part.) We showed them TopGolf and the JFK museum. Michelle and I swapped a bunch of book recommendations and we got caught up on each others’ travels.

On Saturday, we kicked off the taco crawl wish Josh’s homemade breakfast tacos. Then had Torcy’s for lunch and Taco Dinner for dinner. So much queso.

We finally figured out the shows when we met (I met Michelle in Hello Dolly and Dennis during Joseph, we think) and discussed our dream roles. Thank you, Whitecliff Summer Playhouse. It’s kinda great how we all knew each other as individuals before we became couples. Maybe that’s part of the reason we all get along so well? Or maybe we’re just nerds who might break out into the same song at any minute.

Some of the tacos from the great taco crawl of 2017. 

things i want to tell you at 5:40am

I get my best ideas late at night and first thing in the morning. It’s like my bed radiates some powerful energy- the closer I am, the better and clearer my ideas are. Pretty sure I’m on to something here.

Since I rise to greet the day at 5:15am these days, no one wants to chat. I save all the texts I want to send until 7:30 or 8. That’s a lifetime.

At bedtime, I lay there and tell Josh all my deepest, darkest hopes and dreams. Then he rolls over and lovingly says, “Are you done? I’m really tired.”

If you were awake with me, here’s what I’d tell you.

Just when I get into the nitty gritty trip details, I realize that a week is not a long enough time to spend in Peru. I would say the same thing if we were staying three months. There are so many things I’d like to cram in and who knows when or if I’ll ever get back? Will said the same thing last night, but it’s a little late to change our plans now.

Country music has been particularly rough lately. I used to be a casual listener, but woooooof. Occasionally I bop over to one of my country presets only to be disappointed. It’s always better in the summer, so maybe there are better tunes on the horizon?

I finally finished my little video for our trip to Cuba. It makes me laugh, we had a blast.

Last night as I finished my book and was ready to go to bed, my bedside lamp turned off. Either the bulb burned out at the EXACT right time or we have a ghost. We’re the first people to live in our unit, so the only reasonable explanation is that our building was constructed on an Indian burial ground.

Everyone keeps telling me about new podcasts that I really need to listen to. The problem is I have a huge backlog of old ones taking up precious space on my phone. So little time, so much listening. How do you keep up?

My hair is getting long. It’s getting heavy too. Whenever I put in a ponytail I have to find a sweet spot on my scalp that doesn’t hurt. This is the universe whipering in my ear, “Get a haircut.”

Happy *almost* weekend.

chase daniel golf tourney

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a golfer, but I’m a fan of the idea. I’m also a fan of volunteering at golf tournaments, I guess.

A couple Fridays ago, I spent a day doing photos and video for the Mizzou fundraiser in Dallas. Josh and Brandon played, while I bopped around on a golf cart drinking beer and filming on my GoPro.

Some former football players played the tournament. I was impressed with how nice and accommodating they were while I was filming. Some of them had douchey reputations, but that wasn’t the case.

I wish I could color balance it better. iMovie doesn’t give me a ton of options with that, or maybe I’m doing it wrong. Our GoPro doesn’t have a view finder or a screen, so filming is a little bit of a crap shoot. I’m getting better at figure out how close to get and how wide the picture is.

My computer is full of clips from Sanibel Island and Cuba, so those are next on my to do list. I need to find some time to get them done before Peru, not to mention the three new library books and training for a four day hike. If you don’t see me until May, you know why.

pile on

As an airline employee, it’s hard to miss the unfortunate story about the guy getting ejected from a United plane. It’s unfortunate for the guy who was bleeding and being yanked against his will. Working in social media, it’s equally unfortunate for the airline who was following procedure (offer comp and then call security) to deal with all the backlash.

No one is worried about the actual details after seeing the video.

We all know it’s not indicative of any company’s temperament or treatment of customers. This was one uncooperative person who was chosen after an unfortunate series of events, including the last-minute rerouting of a crew resulting in an oversell. This is an industry standard and happens all the time. This time one guy didn’t cooperate and security got involved. They shouldn’t have been so rough. That was bad.

It’s certainly not typical. We know that. We know that.

But thanks to 24-hour news and social media, we’re piling on. We share and comment and like and chirp. I’m guilty, heck, I’m writing about this on my blog.

It’s not just the internet though. This weekend I was at a wedding shower and someone voiced their concern about the risks of miscarriage and how she knew a lot of people lately that had one. Immediately everyone piled on, everyone knew someone or had one themselves.

While I’m all about any excuse for people, especially women, to share openly about taboo topics, are we truly supporting each other or just dogpiling? The person who was the center of the conversation was talking about a healthy pregnancy, so all the chatter felt negative and unnecessary considering the circumstances. I felt that at the time, but my sister put her finger on it during the drive home.

As I spend my time trudging through the unactionable responses and “me toos” at work, I’m reminding myself to not be part of the problem IRL.