Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Break... Kind Of


Well the reason I said “kind of” is because I still had to go to class last week, except for on Thursday because my grammar teacher was super nice and let me miss to go to Arequipa! But more on that later. This week was definitely my favorite week in Peru mostly because I was able to share almost all the things I have fallen in love with in this beautiful country with Luke, although we still need to go to Machu Picchu one day :).

I'll just stick to pictures mostly but the first day I took him to the beach so he could finally meet some of the wonderful people that have been stuck with me here this semester and have become some of the best friends I have ever had. 

My dream of becoming a mermaid finally came true!

We also went out that night to celebrate Karla's birthday and after met Lima's coolest bartender Omar


The next couple days were filled with exploring Miraflores and Surco the two districts I have spent the most time in and Miraflores was where Luke stayed which was good because while I was in class he got to walk around by the ocean, something Nebraska boys don't get the opportunity to do all that often ;)
Parque del Amor

A little ocean view

Parque de los Aguas


However, probably the coolest thing we got to do in Lima was a food tour where we went to 4 different (super fancy) restaurants and had little dishes at every place so we were able to try a lot of the main Peruvian dishes and of course the famous Pisco Sour (a type of brandy made from grapes is used to make a kind of whiskey sour spin-off). It was really cool and the guide was super interesting and told us all kinds of facts and history about the city. Added bonus was we were in a group of really fun people: one couple from Florida, one from Wisconsin, one lady from Canada, and one man from Chile.

Huaca Pucllana Restaurant - built right next to the Pucllana Temple that is thought to have been built around 500 A.D. that was only really discovered 20 years ago. Apparently they just found two mummys a couple weeks ago and they have only excavated 25% of it so far. Pretty crazy.

We also held hands and held our breath as we walked across this bridge in the district of Barranco and apparently that means we are going to be a happy couple for the next 100 years :)

A sample of all the main Peruvian dishes

The famous lighted cross made during the times of terrorism here in Lima during the 1980s and 1990s

  Finally we spent the weekend in the city of Arequipa where we toured a Catholic Monastery that was built in the 1500s and is still in use today. Then we spent 2 days in the Colca Valley where we did lots of hiking, saw ancient Pre-Incan ruines, hung out at some hot springs, saw tons of llamas, alpacas, sheep, donkeys, the amazing Condors and the Colca Canyon which is the deepest canyon in the world! Not to mention we held some hawks and ate some amazing food. 

Colca Canyon
Pre-Incan ruines over a 1000 years old
I was really quite terrified in this photo haha

And now it's back to reality...which means LOTS of homework which I probably should go do right now.

Besos my American friends, see you all in 27 days :)






Saturday, March 15, 2014

Random Observations

Before I begin I wanted to start with the soccer game I went to on Thursday! Excuse me... fútbol game.

Lolo dedication -->

My first observation is that fútbol is like a religion here. This is really no surprise seeing as how it is like that just about everywhere but the USA. The game we went to was between La U, they won the Peruvian league last year so they are technically "the best" team in Peru, and a team from Brazil. Why I put "the best" in quotations is because I don't think that is the case this year, they were not very impressive. Apparently they are having a rough year. Coque, Aída's husband, told me I need to go watch some of the other Peruvian teams for some better games although he may be a little biased as he is NOT a fan of La U haha. It was really fun though to see how crazy the fans get, the stadium is pretty sketchy and they have guards all over to keep the crowd from going too crazy. We ended up sitting in a pretty calm section and I think I got the best education in Peruvian Spanish cuss words that money could buy, that part was pretty entertaining. They also had a dedication to a former La U player Lolo Amado, he passed away last year but apparently he was the best forward La U has ever had and whenever he scored the ball would rip the net because he kicked so hard. Just like me ;). Overall, even though the teams weren't that impressive it was still a pretty awesome experience. 

A few other observations:
  • People have a big thing about drinking and eating hot and cold things. Too much cold beer makes you sick, you only toast bread in the morning not the evening and tea cures everything. It's all about balancing hot and cold food and drinks to stay healthy... Or so they tell me.
  • People walk REALLY slow.
  • Children are really loved and respected here by everyone and I love it. It's hard to explain unless you see it first hand but they just seem to treat all children like little blessings, which of course they are. 
  • They think all white people are really rich. If only this were true because my life would be a lot easier.
  • Speaking English is like a free pass to getting a good job here but Peruvians have to take language proficiency tests so when they apply for a job they will be able to say "I speak English at level 1, 2, 3, etc." and the company will know how fluent a person is.
  • A good paying job here is around $25,000 a year. This really surprised me because that is like a Doctor or lawyer salary.
  • Peruvian food is definitely not for the carbohydrate faint of heart. Rice, potatoes and bread are staples of just about every meal.
  • All women wear heels. ALL of the time. I don't know how they do it. 
  • The grading scale here is 1-20 so a 12 is like a D or a just barely passing grade and 20 is the maximum.
  • We (as in Nebraska group and I) have been a lot more adventurous lately with restaurants and there is some amazing places that I will definitely pine for when I go back to Nebraska! These being: Palachinke (the most wonderful pancake/crepe masterpieces), The Burrito Bar (puts Chipotle and Qdoba to shame), Gelateria Laritza (Ice cream place I have completely fallen in love with), La Lucha (BEST milkshakes in the world + some pretty amazing sandwiches and fries) and of course La Bonbonniere (cheesecake = heaven).
In other news...The new ice cream addiction I have here is a big time struggle.

And for some laughs...
Well to say a few of us have struggled with Spanish here is an understatement but that problem has lead to some pretty hilarious translation errors. I won't name names of who said these things... even my own haha

Setting: When we first landed in the Lima, Peru airport
Security Guard: "Usted tiene fruta en su bolsa?" (Do you have fruit in your bag?)
answer: "No tengo fresas." (I don't have strawberries)
meant to say: No tengo fruta (I don't have fruit)

Setting: Starbucks
Worker: blah blah blah (really fast Spanish)
answer: "uhhh... No sabes español" (YOU don't speak Spanish) 
meant to say: "No sé español" (I don't know Spanish)

Setting: Restaurant
Worker: "Para tomar?" (What do you want to drink?)
answer: "Azul" (the color blue)
meant to say: "Agua" (water)

Setting: Fin's house
thing said: "escuchame" (listen to me) 
meant to say: excuse me or "con permiso" in spanish

Setting: Hotel
thing said: "Dónde está el lugar para montar los caballeros?"  (where is the place to ride the men)
meant to say: "Dónde está el lugar para montar los caballos?" (where is the place to ride the horses)

That's all I can think of off the top of my head but there has been many more. Gringa/gringo (white girl/guy) problems.

As for other things going on in my life... School is going fine, I'm addicted to sweets, Pinterest workouts and Netflix, I have a new found love for vending machine coffee, I've read a couple awesome books, procrastination is still my bff and I walk a lot because I don't like paying for transportation. 

That about sums it up! 
Besos :)





Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Livin' La Vida Loca

Cue the Ricky Martin Song...

Well maybe life isn't that loca but basically the last week has been a blast with spontaneous adventures, new restaurant findings, playing new games, going to the center of Lima and finally living the privileged life at Las Dunas Resort and Spa.

School has been pretty crazy, here I was thinking only taking 12 credits would be easy, not the case. I've probably had more homework this semester than I have had in a long time and I have taken at least 15 credits every semester prior to this. Plus the whole learning a new language thing is a 24/7 struggle even though you would think after almost 4 years of college Spanish it would be getting easier... Alas, no haha. 

So basically on Thursday we all decided it was time to have fun and we played Cards Against Humanity at Fin's house and the park next to Jorge's house. It was hilarious. Then on Friday, Fin, Jorge, Adam, Dan and I went to the Center of Lima and had a very spontaneous day of adventure. We took this random tour for 5 soles (like $2) that took us up a hill so we could see almost all of Lima and even the ocean! It was beautiful. We also bought candles that all signified different things that we lit and put next to a huge cross. I bought 5 different colors: Red = brings luck to your love life, White = blesses the family, Orange = education, Purple = brings good health to you and your family and Green = prosperity in your job and finances. 




After that adventure, we went back home and ate dinner at this AMAZING pancake place. I still can't get over how delicious it was. I must go back at least 7 more times before I leave this place.

Then on Sunday we left for our last scheduled group adventure to Ica! We stayed at the wonderful Las Dunas Resort and Spa. The first day we went sand boarding!! It goes right up there with zip lining in Costa Rica, it was so fun/scary/exhilarating. I loved it.



The next day we went to Las Islas Ballestas. This was an experience of a lifetime. It was my first time on a boat in the ocean and we saw Pelicans, Bottle Nose Dolphins, the South American Sea lions, and two endangered species unique to South America the Humboldt Penguin and Boobies (type of bird).  We also saw the famous "Candalabra" which is a rock formation that one theory says it was made by the Incas another says it was made by aliens. It was made several centuries ago and the reason why it hasn't eroded or washed away is because it hardly ever rains in this part of Peru. Another fun fact, the Islands used to be a huge money maker for Peru because the bird poop or Guano is the most popular fertilizer in the world! So now every 7 years people go collect the Guano for export around the world.




The rest of the time was spent relaxing, eating, reading, drinking fabulous wine, getting a massage (heaven) and laying by the pool. It was a perfect getaway but now back to reality which speaking of reality... I should probably stop procrastinating homework now. Until next time (I'll try to be a bit better at posting this month).

Besos/saludos :)




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thankful.


So it’s been a little while since my last blog but nothing too crazy exciting has happened, at least not compared to the Amazon and Machu Picchu. It’s still kind of crazy to me that I have been to one of the 7 wonders of the world and the greatest river in South America and in a week no less!  So obviously I’m extremely thankful for those opportunities and the fact that I think my body is FINALLY recovering and assimilating to Peru…crossing my fingers and knocking on wood.

But here are a few of the things I am most thankful for over the last almost 6 weeks:

·      My wonderful Peruvian family. They have opened up their home to me and really make me feel like I’m part of the family. They always include me in things (like going to the beach, my fave), they worry about me when I’ve been sick and take me to the doctor, bring me medicine, call me to check up on me even when I go out of town (reminds me of my own mom, which makes me less homesick) and are always making sure I’ve had enough to eat which as you all know might be the most important thing haha
·      Dr. Miller and his wife, also Dr. Miller. I feel so luck that they were able to come and for Dr. Miller to be our UNK professor this semester.  They have been so wonderful especially when I was sick in the Amazon, I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t been there.
·      The guys in our group. Whenever we go out at night they always make sure to split up in cabs, walk the girls home and always make sure none of us are alone.
·      And of course all the lovely ladies of the group. I already feel so close to some of them in this short amount of time and most of them share my love of food and wine so really what’s not to love? Haha


So here’s a little picture summary of the last week and a half or so…

My family had a baby shower for one of their cousins so that was fun to see a few of the Peruvian traditions which are actually pretty much the same as in the US. 
Mama Aída, Marylinda and Aída

Jorge's family had a BBQ for us last Thursday and well... When in Perú, do as Peruvians do.

The next day my fam took me to a beach I hadn't been too... Playa Santa Maria

& then that night we went to a concert at a discoteca and finally met Dan's host sister Helen and her friend. Operation make Peruvian friends has commenced.

And last night we went to El Parque de los Aguas :)




Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sorry Tarzan I'm more of an Inca girl

***Warning this will be my longest post so hopefully I don't bore you too much, I never was much of a writer***

Is this real life??

Since I last posted I have gone boating on the Amazon, fished for piranhas, seen two of the amazing pink dolphins of the Amazon, seen multiple tarantulas in their natural habitat (that was more scary than exciting), hiked through the jungle, held a sloth, monkey, turtle and woodpecker, seen one of the 7 wonders of the world Machu Picchu and other Incan cities, ate lunch with a bunch of llamas and took a picture with an Incan king! Okay that last one might not have been a real Incan king ;)

I still can't believe I have done all that and I did it all in one week! It's nuts but it is safe to say my body hates me for it so here's a recap of my two trips...

February 2-4 = AMAZON/JUNGLE

So Sunday morning at 3:30am Fin, Nikki, Adam and I left for the airport to start our adventure on roughly two hours of sleep. We ended up having an almost two hour delay on our flight to Iquitos (the city bordered by the Amazon) because Peruvian Airlines was on the big time struggle bus. Let me tell you I was one unhappy camper, we had a combination of hangry and super sleepy Missy so for those who really know me... It wasn't a good time. Eventually we made it to Iquitos where our tour guide Neil was there to greet us and take us around the city before we took our two hour boat ride across the Amazon to our Hotel/Lodge. This was where most of our group tried one of the local delicacies...
This should have been my first clue that I was NOT cut out for the jungle life because I could not eat it. Ew. After this we hopped on our boat to go to the Heliconia Lodge where I must say, was actually a really wonderful place to stay, the staff was amazing, food was great and rooms were nice. Once we arrived our schedule was jammed packed and literally planned out to the minute by Neil who would would explain our plans like this.. "Okay you will have 45 minutes to eat lunch and then you will have 15 minutes to rest and then we will meet to go on a 7 minute boat ride and we will spend approximately 27 minutes there... etc." Also, when he said 7 minutes it would be exactly 7 minutes. 

Day 1 included:
Piranha Fishing, Pink Dolphin watching and a night walk through the jungle (probably the scariest 45 minutes of my life).
Day 2 included:
A 6:00am wake up call to go birdwatching (did I mention I had only two hours of sleep the night before? yikes), a 2 1/2 hour hike through the jungle (probably lost 10 pounds in sweat) and then FINALLY after lunch my dream of hold a sloth came true!!!! We went to a little Amazon village and as soon as the boat pulled up a group of little kids came running up to us each holding a different animal. They were so sweet and made everything that happened after this moment (like 20 minutes later) 100% worth it.

So back to that 20 minutes later... On our tour of the village I became extremely sick. I'm still not sure exactly what caused it but it was probably a mixture of the food, extremely hot/humid climate and not drinking enough water but to put it lightly... I puked my guts out the rest of the day.

Day 3:
Because of the whole puking my guts out thing, I was extremely dehydrated and I feinted that morning. Luckily, Dr. Miller was there to catch me and I didn't hurt myself and our tour guide Neil took me to a clinic to get I forgot the name but basically salt water (the stuff used for people who are extremely dehydrated) and after I was able to actually eat and get some fluids in me I was much much much better and I was unbelievably happy to be leaving the jungle haha

Basically, sorry Tarzan I am not cut out the be Jane. 

I arrived back home in Lima around 11:00pm Tuesday night and left the following day at 6:00am for Cusco. Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe it.

February 5-8 CUSCO

Day 1:
The thing about Cusco is that it sits around 11,200 feet above sea level (which is a little more than twice the altitude of Denver for a reference point). High altitude plus being not best shape from the Amazon meant a day of rest for this girl.

Day 2: MACHU PICCHU
Woke up at 3:00am to take a bus to the train station, then took the train, then took two more buses and then hiked a little ways to finally make it to one of the 7 wonders of the world! I can't even begin to explain how unbelievable this place is. It is thought to be the most sacred of the Incan cities and that is the reason it was abandoned so that the Spanish would not be able to find and destroy it during the Spanish/Incan wars. It was rediscovered in 1911 and, according to our guide is thought to be a place of magical powers (hence the perfect opportunity to wear my Harry Potter shirt). Here are a few of my pictures from this incredible place...



This last picture is cool because it shows the 3 views of Machu Picchu: the far right with all the trees is what it looked like when it was discovered, covered in vegetation. The closer rocks that are broken is one of the only places in the city where there is any destruction, it is thought to have happened while removing the vegetation when it was rediscovered. Finally, in the back is part of the completely intact city.

Day 3:
We went on a little tour around different areas of Cusco, we got to see how some silver jewelry was made, different markets, the Sacred Valley of the Incas where they grew most of their food for surrounding cities, went to Ollantaytambo another one of the Inca cities where the last battle between the Incas and the Spanish took place (also took a picture with an Inca king here) and went to a small village where some women showed us the the very long and intricate process of cleaning, dying, weaving and making different clothes and things using llama, alpaca and sheep wool which was amazing. 

Sacred Valley ->

Ollantaytambo


Drinking with a king 


 all the different things used to dye and make all the types of yarn used for their clothing, blankets, etc.


So to wrap it up... I had the most amazing whirlwind of a week. I'm definitely not cut out for jungle life and even though I'm so glad I went and had the experience I'm more than okay with never going back haha. Cusco however, I hope I see you again someday. My body may have hated/still hates me but it was a week of once in a life time experiences that I will never forget.

Sorry for the novel ya'll, Besos :)