Hello dear friends and followers! It has been a while since we last spoke.
I am currently back at UNC Chapel Hill finishing up my last year of my undergraduate degree (praise baby Jesus). But before I sauntered back over to the East Coast to go back to school, I had the pleasure of spending my 22nd birthday in Peru.
Let’s recount the adventure shall we?
Firstly, I will preface this by saying that this was my first true taste of Latin America. As you know, my love for Europe normally dominates my travels. Secondly, this was the first trip in a long time in which I solely traveled with a friend from back home. And thirdly, I had been dealing with a severe bought of pneumonia over the summer for six weeks; in which I wasn’t given the ‘go ahead’ to travel until just a week before. Thankfully, my lungs decided to start functioning like normal lungs just in the nick of time, and I was cleared for air travel.
Robert (featured below), being the amazing friend he is, paid for my initial flight to-and-fro Peru in return for my expertise as a travel guide and master planner. Never before had I so thoroughly mapped out an itinerary than I did on this trip.
I attribute this to:
- If something went wrong, it didn’t just affect me–but also Rob.
- This was new territory for me
- My Spanish needed some serious brushing up on
- It was Rob’s first trip out of the country–I didn’t want to scar him!
We flew out of the LAX airport and landed in Lima, Peru mid-afternoon.
The first thing I will note is that Peruvian drivers are crazy! There are few traffic regulations followed and it seemed as though “lanes” and speed limits were mere suggestions. During our time spent in the car over our week long trip, I spent the majority of it watching in amusement and fear as Rob stared bug-eyed while we came within an inch of the fellow cars around us.
We spent 2 nights at the Healing Dog Hostel in beautiful Miraflores. The hostel was partly outdoor and included it’s very own hairless dog (of which are apparently well-known to Peru).
The downtown of Miraflores is lively and full of shops, bars and restaurants! It was a short walk from our hostel; which we left in search of some much needed sustenance. After turning down person after person yelling out their restaurant “EAT HERE” we settled in for some local Peruvian cuisine. Rob and I brushed off our very rusty Spanish in order to communicate with our waiter who spoke no English.
I already knew I was going to like it here. The last foreign-speaking place I had traveled was Portugal. I went there with plans to practice my Portuguese–but it seemed that everyone and their mother spoke English– and ventured to only speak English once they heard my horrid accent. Peru was different. I was forced to speak Spanish, and honestly I loved the practice.
That night, we met a few other fellow travelers in our hostel and made plans to set off to see museums the next morning. there were two lads from England, one guy from Mexico, and another from Turkey affectionately called “Ozzy”. Put them together with Rob and I and we had a solid group to set off towards the Barranco district of Lima.
This was my favorite street art that we saw.
We went to the MATE art museum and saw some of the most beautiful photographs. The MATE museum is non-profit institution founded in 2012 set up by Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino. For the few Sols we paid, it was definitely worth it. (Let it be noted the 1 Peruvian Sol= 0.31 US dollars)From there, we continued on touring Lima’s historic district, downtown, until we were forced to the side by blocked roads and tear gas. While we were in Peru, there were many teachers’ protests in attempts to raise their wages. Responses to these protests varied from city to city.
Here’s a picture of some interesting and slightly disturbing Catacombs we got to see in one of the main monasteries.
That night, a few of us went out for dinner and drinks. We got drinks at this trendy open-air bar. I had a “margarita”, but it definitely was unlike any margarita I’ve ever had.
After a much needed lie-in and some coffee the next morning, Rob and I set off for Cusco via plane.
One flight delay later…
As soon as we landed in Cusco, we wished we had more than just one night there. It was one of the most beautiful sights stepping off the plane. Pictures will not do it justice.
By the time we taxied into the town center, dusk was quickly upon us. But that did not stop us from enjoying the sights! The city was beautifully nestled amidst the mountains. At night, you could see the surrounding areas sparkling down on the city center.
We did a majority of our shopping in Cusco as they were not short of vendors.
There is something to be said for Peruvian markets. Never before have I wanted so many souvenirs while traveling! Usually I refrain to only collecting a postcard from each place I visit. A lot of self-control was needed and very little was exercised. I came home with far too many alpaca-themed items.
Just look at those happy smiles ^^
Even our hostel (Milhouse Hostel Cusco) was stunning. It was HUGE, with beautiful floors, archways, an open-air center and bar included.
Let it also be known that I dragged Rob into probably far too many cathedrals for his liking. It’s tradition for me to go into a cathedral in every city I venture to (if possible). To me, there is something so special about listening to a mass in a different language as well as seeing the ceremonious traditions across different cultures.
It was also here in Cusco where we had the cheapest meal I’ve ever ordered while traveling. It was a two course meal of soup and Alpaca in a quaint little restaurant on a random side-street. Peru is also well-known for their various juices–so naturally we also had to order those. Don’t be fooled by the dubious-looking photo. It was delicious!
After a night venturing around the city, we returned to our hostel for an in-house beer pong competition and some traditional Peruvian drinks. (I recommend getting a Chicalno de Pisco–I had several).
At the bar, I met a lovely Peruvian girl named Alessandra. Together, the three of us ventured from the hostel bar to another party where I attempted to teach Rob the basics of dance (he wasn’t bad!).
As the night drew to a close, Alessandra helped negotiate a taxi home for me as Rob and I had a very early start the next morning! We were catching a train to Aguas Calientes–the base site of the hike to Machu Picchu.
And that, my dear friends, is where I will leave you for now! Machu Picchu requires it’s own post.