Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back at home

HEY ALL!!!!!!!!!!!

Well as you know, I am back in the States. Awaiting my next adventure. As is this blog.... awaiting to document where my dreams take me......South America? Southeast Asia? AmeriCorp? Peace Corp? Who knows.....until then!!!!

Que le vaya bien.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth Day -- April 22


Earth Day is April 22, 2009

Earth Day San Diego is a huge event in Balboa Park

Last year I went to Balboa park for the day with my dad and courtney. I highly recommend it, lots of fun, cool information, food and fun booths......

I recommend everybody do at least something little for Earth Day. Recycle, don´t take such a long shower, don´t water your lawn, turn your lights off early or don´t leave them on, turn off appliances and lights when you leave the room, use the microwave to cook small meals (It uses less power than an oven.), don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth, take short showers instead of tub baths, keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool, scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher; wash only full loads, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine. ..... just a few ideas.

Here is a recycle, reduse, reuse tip:

  • Reduce:
    Buy permanent items instead of disposables.
    Buy and use only what you need.
    Buy products with less packaging.
    Buy products that use less toxic chemicals.

  • Reuse:
    Repair items as much as possible.
    Use durable coffee mugs.
    Use cloth napkins or towels.
    Clean out juice bottles and use them for water.
    Use empty jars to hold leftover food.
    Reuse boxes.
    Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
    Participate in a paint collection and reuse program. For information on handling household solid waste, visit Wastes, What You Can Do (
    Donate extras to people you know or to charity instead of throwing them away.
    Reuse grocery bags as trash bags.

Just trying to get people aware. Try one of them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

Are we in the Wild West???

If you´ve ever heard of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you would know they are dead....since 1908. Apparently, if you read the article, they died here in the South west of Bolivia.

After crossing the Argentina/Bolivia border with a little of a wait. We hoped on our bus, and man did it feel good to be back in Bolivian bus stations with stray dogs, women yelling destinations, and ¨aged¨ buses. We met a Kiwi couple (Kiwi is slang for from New Zealand) and we were all on the bus together to reach Tupiza, Bolivia.

While on the bus, and once arrived, you have a look around and I realized how much it looked ilke the southwest of the states, dry desert like. Beautiful in my opinion, but maybe not everybody´s cup o´tea. We spent the next day, Beth and I, on a walk. We didn´t exactly follow Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kíd´s route, but same general area and same pueblo they were trying to rob. We walked out following a path and a disneyland like map that was a substitute for our topographical map of the desert we walked alone into. We walked a couple of miles before reaching the land-fill for the town, quite a scenery. Although the rest of the scenery was quite impressive, multi-colored rock backdrop. We walked around the desert and found some really cool formations. We also stumbled upon a creek and laid in the clay colored mud and relaxed. We were accompanied by the shaggiest loking dog that walked the whole 9 miles with us inteh hot hot sun. We reached town exhausted and couldn´t wait to wash off the layers of dirt......ahhhh felt like camping at home, how I´d missed it. We were also quite confused because we thought that Sunday was Easter Sunday and were telling all the people we met the same, cometo find was Palm Sunday, a week off. I think i´ve been gone quite a long time, forgettin´the days???

The next day we spent with Rosie and Andrew, a couple from New Zealand (who got me even more excited to go to my number 1 country!) We all went together in a 4WD Jeep and drove around, seeing beautiful desert scenery. Once atop some of the mountains you could see the different colors that ran horizontally threw the desert. One strip of mountians red, next to a grey mountain range, that switches to orange right int he middle. Hard to describe if you´ve never seen the southwest. There were also tower looking canyons that looked like wax towers of teh sand, creating towers and canyons of massive sizes.

From Tupiza, I took the first train ride since i´ve been down here. The old train route was/is used to transport minerals mined from the desert areas like Tupiza and Uyuni. We took a freezing overnight train to Oruro (where we had been before for Carnaval) and from there made our way back to the infamous La Paz.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bolivian Salt Flats...who will it be???

Having recently been to the Bolivian Salt Flats, I thought this article a friend sent me was interesting. When I read this article, it reminds me of something a war would get started over, because history does tend to repeat itself.
Will Bolivian president Evo Morales crack to international pressure and monetary offers? Will foreign countries wait until another president is in power (or sway another president into power)? Will there be an environmentally conscious solution? Compromise?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Devil´s Point and Devil´s Throat

The Devil?????

Well after Buenos Aires, Beth and I headed to our next country. URUGUAY

Uruguay, yea where the heck is that??? Well in between Argentina and Brasil, you find this little drop of a country where things are priced like the states and the country as a whole has the bigest addiction I´ve ever seen, maté. If you don´t know what maté is, i will try and explain it to you, but you gotta see it. It is a hot tea drink that they make here and drink here. They also drink it out of a hollowed-out gourd and drink it with a decorated straw. People have it here at the park, at the beach, on the bus and EVERYWHERE in between. It is not just one of two people, it is literally everybody in the country. They drink it all day and night. This is also an addiciton of fellow countries, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, but Uruguay takes it to a NEW level.

Beth and I spent a couple of days in the developed, Miami-like, beach town of Punta del Este. A popular beach resort for wealthy Uruguayans and Argentinians. It was a little too developed for us, because things were priced in American dollars and you see Fendi and Dolce & Gabana stores. SO we decided to make our way to the anti- Punta del Este beach, Punta del Diable (Devil´s Point).

Devil´s Point is further east on the coast but has a much smaller town feeling and beautiful beaches.Said to be one of the better in South America (after Brasil and all...) but it is all personal preference. After being chased by the biggest lightning storm I´ve seen, we arrived at night and used the lightning to light our way to Casa blanca. There we rented our own room, two beds, kitchen, baño, T.v., and patio with beach view for 12.00/night each. We spent this week as a detoxication of the big city....spent it mostly anti-socially, with the exception of the Casa blanca owner, store-guy, and our Buenos Aires new found friend David.

The days we spent cooking and watching the 2 English channels that came in. I caught up on many of the movies that have come out, so i´m not TOO far behind the times (Including Blades of Glory and the Simpsons movie....really important historical deep movies) We also spent our days lounging on the beach and reading 100 years of Solitude and A long way gone (story of Sierra leone child soldier) The beach looked like something out of Martha´s Garden, rolling grassy dune hills, cottages, woods in the back, and little art places and stores. It was the most relaxing week, not to mention I hadn´t been out of the mountains since the beginning of the year. It was a breath of fresh air.

From Punta del Diablo, we made our way, by boat back to Argentina. Rosario, Argentina, the birthplace of the famed, Ché Guevara. Other sites included the Flag Monument, dedicated to the Argentina flag and the fact that it was the first flag in South America to be raised for an independent country. They are proud, it was a Washington monument look alike. In Rosario, which is up river from Buenos Aires is in the area where the Atlantic Ocean last reaches. More of a river, the ocean creates a series of islands. One day we traveled out to Deja vú and laid on the beach all day in the baking hot sun and continued reading. Now this is probably what everybody at home thinks I do ALL the time, but your quite wrong. This was like a vacation from my travels. (believe you me, it is sometimes needed)

From Rosario, accompanied by David, we made the 22 hour bus ride to Puerto Iguazú. In Argentina, 22 hours is nothing on a bus, it is more relaxing than troublesome. We arrived midday and realized we were in the Amazon, so were pleased when we found the ¨greatest deal¨ I´ve had on a hostal yet, which included a pool and ¨super¨ breakfast (when you get anything more than bread, butter, and jam, I consider it a super breakfast...can´t wait for pancakes and eggs benedict when i get home!). The next day we hoped on the minibus to head to the Argentina side of the famed IGUAZÚ FALLS. I will say right away that this is one of the most amazing things I´ve ever seen. Pictures, movies, even description doesn´t do justice to Iguazú Falls, a must-see-to-believe place. We spent the whole day, 6 hours, walking and exploring the jungle and falls of the Argentinian side, which provided an up close and personal look at Garganta del Diablo (Devil´s throat) and many other falls. This is the Grand Canyon of Waterfalls. There was plenty of wildlife and scenery to blow your mind, not to mention water falling from the sky or blowing up for the heated rocky part below, where the most water i´ve ever seen falling at once pounded rocks. We also watched boats attempt and prevail to go under some of the smaller falls and soak all the screaming excited tourists on board. Within a day, it was impossible not to find a scene that would stick in your head for the rest of your life.

I didn´t take this picture, but it captures a SMALL portion of Iguazú Falls.

The next day we spent the day exploring the more panoramic Brazilian side, where at one point you could see the whole set of falls. If you´ve never looked into it, you wouldn´t know that the visa for Americans to enter Brasil costs 135.00 flat. But Brazilian side was a must see according to other travelers, so we sneaked across the border for a day and axplored the constant views of the amazing falls. (pictures to be seen when i get home in May) Iguazú Falls was an incredible magical place that I would recommend not only to waterfalls, jungle lovers, but to ANYBODY.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Buenos Aires...a place to be.

Buenos Aires is a great place. It is in the east of Argentina and on the Atlantic Ocean.

The place we stayed was located on the widest street in the world, and the longest street in South America. The wide street was 7 lanes each way...14!!! It took 3 traffic lights to cross the whole thing. We ran into a couple of friends that Beth new from La Paz, and also a two cousins she had met in La Paz that live in BA (Buenos Aires).

BA lives in a different time world...where things open at 10 am, everybody eats dinner at 10pm, the clubs start at 1 am, and close at 4 am, but are followed by the after party places that run from 4 am to 9 am....and wake up at noon and start all over again.

The city itself is a very big city but alive with things to do. One of the days we walked down the pedestrian, shop-filled, artist-filled street....and were greeted by our first surprise... a STARBUCKS!!!!! The first I have seen in 9 months, quite a shock to the system. We followed the street down to one of the main parks where we fund this incredibly big tree

Also in this park there was an exhibit that UNICEF and another program put on that was a month long exhibit in the park. It was filled with teddy bears, 6 feet tall teddy bears, hand painted to represent each country recognized by the UN. Each country has painted one and this exhibit has been in quite a few places around the world in effort to promote peace and understanding between us all.


IRELAND!!!!....who else?!?

The exhibit was quite a site to see!! It would be great to have something of the sorts put up in the states. They were each very unique and beautifully done.

Here we continued our hot dog diet. A super pancho for a dollar was the size of two real hot dogs. Super panchos are one of those things you need to see to believe, but we ate many of them.

One of the days we walked the streets and found a large artist market that sold all kinds of cool things. including hand-made shoes, unique jewelry and clothing, and was playing music and selling food. A good couple of hours were spent walking the stahls. I was also able to indulge in my money collection liking. I bought a braclet made of original coins from the 30´s and 40´s of Argentina. It is always so amazing to me to see the creativity people have and how they create some of those things. Also in this area, there is the famous BA cementery. This city like cementery is were the elite of the elite are buried, including Eva Perón( ). The cementery was also oddly occupied by many amny cats.

We also made our way to the famous ¨La Boca¨ area. The tango filled streets are painted in the most brillant colors. The most artistic set of streets I´ve ever seen, is an old port that has many good restaurants, tango dancers, and art.

We spent a lot of time with Leah and Kelly, the two cousins that live there. They gave us an inside look into Buenos Aires...mostly the FOOD! We tasted our fair share of restaurants, but there was one i found most impressive, Siga La Vaca (¨follow the cow¨). We paid 55 Argentinian pesos (approx. $15 USD) This was a buffet place, but before I go any further, let me stress how much Argentina prides its steak and wine. For this 55 pesos, we got all you can eat salad bar, and amazing salad bar with all kinda of good cheeses, meats, salads etc.... also included is all-you-can-eat meat (now don´t start drooling yet Courtney, or any other football players reading this). Some of the best meat I´ve tasted, you could get anything from bloody steak to pig, sausages, any part of the cow, intestines....any meat, you name it, it was there bloody and ready to be served. After filling up on that, they included a dessert...won´t even start there. But to top it all of, each person got a liter of argentinian wine (one bottle) or a liter of beer. I´ve dubbed it the best deal I´ve ever gotten!
We didn´t eat there every night, for fear of a heart attack, but sampled many other steak places and had steak and wine every night for about 6-10 USD. I can´t describe it. For any meat lover, this is the place to come.

Well to put it lightly, this is all I really remember after 2 1/2 weeks of being out of there. The only bummer was we never could get tickets to see Manu Chao live in concert,. they sold out too soon But all in all Buenos Aires is a place to go.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting to Buenos Aires, on a time line


Countries traveled: Chile Argentina
My country number 5 & 6

Hitchiked rides: 7
Miles hitchiked: 1,800

Beth and I hitching a ride at sunrise...

Hopping into the nicest semi ever!

Beth and our dog buddy at our campground (Bed #6)

Drinks offered: 4 bottles of Rum & Coke, 2 wine bottles, and home made fermented alcohol

Hot dogs consumed: 10 hot dogs/7 days


7 nights, 7 beds

Overall impression- super nice people! I have a new appreciation and love for truck drivers! And Chilean and Argentinians.

The Chilean truck driver who offered us his house to stay.

Beth and I decided we wanted to get to Buenos Aires by the 8th for the Manu Chao concert, it gave us about a week. It was quite an adventure and we saw many things, meet some really cool people, tried long-distance hitchiking, and found how RIDICULOUSLY easy it was to hitchike in those countires. But we made it to Buenos Aires...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So the southwestern part of Bolivia is covered in the largest salt flats in the world. Formed by a gigantic dried up lake that left over salt flats that range from 3 m to 12 meters deep (3feet= 1meter). These salt flats are one of the most bizarre things I´ve ever seen, like a surreal world were depth, water adn life don´t exist.....Mars.
We stopped the first day at a cactus island that is an island ontop the flats (just like an island in a lake) and it is filled with old old cactus. One cactus was 900 years old and was 9 meters (27 feet) tall. There was also one that was 1,203 years old, and died in 2007, it grew to 12 meters (36 feet). Incredible really considering where you are.....
(And yes the salt tastes like salt) We spent that day driving and exploring the immense salt flats.
The second day, we spent mostly in the car, covering land. We left the salt flats and were driving around at 4500 m altitude. We went to a series of lakes all different colors. The ranged from gray, to green, to blue, to pink, and everything i can´t remember. There are also flamingoes that live in these lakes....Quite incredible when you consider you are 13000 ft in the freezing cold and you can capture a picture with llamas, flamingoes, and a floating ice block. I have one.
The third day, I went to my first natural geyser. A whole field of natural sulfur geysers taht smelled of rotten eggs, but were definitely interesting. We watched the sunrise over the geysers. Then made out way to natural hot springs set with a backdrop fo mountains, lakes and flamingoes. We also went to a petrified forest, petrified into rock. A petrified tree as well.
Then it was into CHILE!!!!!!!! Country number 5

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Check out the song by Mana

Lyrics to Arde El Cielo :
Nos fue trabando la rutina
fue llenando de vacíos
fuimos hablando la palabra
y explotando en puros líos

me deseo suerte amor
ya me voy al olvido
solo le pido a dios
darte alivio

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sale el halcón, sale el demonio
un infierno un manicomio
gritos violencia, platos rotos
como ciega la demencia

solo yo te pido amor
que nunca me abandones
solo le pido a dios
darte alivio

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sangra, sangra el cielo y la luz
sangra mi espiritu
arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

arde, arde el cielo y el dolor
arde mi espiritu, arde el amor y la luz
arde el cielo amor

sangra, sangra el cielo al dolor
sangra mi espiritu
arde y se quema la luz
arde el cielo amor

trozos del cielo en ardor
trozos del cielo en ardor
se esta quemando el cielo

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Taste of Bolivia

Another border crossing to add to the books!!!

I´m in my fourth country in South America....the famed Bolivia. The landlocked, governmentally unstable mountain country where the llama population is one-third of the human population. I remember when i told a friend of mine I was going to south america for 1 year, he told me, please just don´t go to Bolivia or Colombia....well sorry to disappoint, but of all countries this was the one I was most excited for!!!

I entered Bolivia with no problems, except for the $135 mandatory visa for American citzens only. I headed to La Paz (the peace) where I stayed with two couchsurfers in there Bolivian bachelor pad that gets up to 10 couchsurfers every nite! There were three girls from Canada there at the same time and they were quirky, having fun, and heading to Buenos Aires

I spent the day strolling around hilly La Paz, looking at the markets, eating street sold saltenas made with potatoes meat spices all wrapped in a pie (my favortie street food so far), going to the witches´market where they sell stuffed llama fetus´ that people bury under their new house or business for good luck, and meeting up with friends who were in La Paz at the same time.

I met up with Elizabeth, Beth, who some of you may remember from previous blogs of northern Peru. She is from Minnnnnesotaaa (meant to be said with an accent, just for effect) and was currently traveling with her sister Michelle and Michelle´s boyfriend Brandon ( They were headed to Oruro for the Carnaval i hopped along.

We got a 5 am bus to Oruro the next day, and watched the sunrise over beautiful mountains in La Paz. We arrived to ORURO at 8 am and were immediately greeted by the sweet smell of cooking meat, the sight of streets filled with bleachers, and the excitement of flying water balloons, oversized water guns with trigger happy Bolivian youth, and foam spray cans with what felt like disfunctional tops stuck on the ¨ON¨ position. It was quite an adventure just getting to see the parade, where we sat ourselves down in 80 Boliviano seats we didn´t pay for and bought luke warm beer, pig sandwiches, ponchos, and took the advice of Brandon and got ourselves ARMED. It was a day of balloon fights, delicious food, and watching the amazing 23 hour parade with eccentric detailed costumes and dances. Throughout the day we made our way to different sections of the parade, but at one point went the central plaza near the end of the parade into what turned out to be a landlocked plaza of which there was NO ESCAPE. We took naps on the fountain and searched for a bathroom (we refused to use under the bleachers like everybody else) and then made our way through the bottleneck exit. I have been here in South America for 9 months now, and it was one of the only times I was scared for getting hurt. it was like a moshpit...but mosh pits have some form of organized craziness. This pit, due to poor police management, was the scariest thing...i was fearing that my rib was going to break crushed against the bleacher board, that the child next to me was going to get trampled, and that we would never get out......

AIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We made it out....and rewarded ourselves and splurged on a pizza. We made our way through the Palestine-like streets to find a decent spot on the sidewalk. Then the sikuris bands came out and two cups of sugary coffee later... we were dancing in the streets and had bought a bambu saxophone. We enjoyed the parade, and then hopped on an 11 pm bus to Potosi...all in all a time warped experience.

5 am we arrive to Potosi, awoken by an Argentinian who pointed out there was nobody else on the bus and we had arrived. ¨¿Potosi?¨he asks, Elizabeth in her dreamy state responds ¨Puno? ....¨(which is in Peru)....the worried look that came over his face was priceless. So we walked around Potosi for about 1 1/2 hours searching for a hostal in the worlds highest city. That afternoon we went to a lagoon, hot spring, set in the mountain desert backdrop. The next day we spent dodging water balloons and truck beds filled with overzealous youths. We also did a tour of the currently operating mines in Potosi, where the first mint of South America was forged. We explored the tunnels in our miners uniforms and hats, chewed coca leaves for the head aches, bought dynamite, visited the mining god ¨Tio¨(uncle) and the miners made jokes about how gringos may be tall but have small penises (unlike bolivians apparently), and then the 5 of us partied with the 40 miners outside and ate llama and a bomb-meal and we offered 96% alcohol mixed with soda as our refreshment.
We were stuck in Potosi for three days because the buses all stopped running due to Carnaval, so we tried to make the best of closed shops and water balloons, in the end it wasn´t too bad.

We then made out way to Salar de Uyuni. The trip there was made during the day where we crossed literal rivers in our bus....and there was lightning. The desert town that boarders the largest salt flats in the world (if you haven´t caught on, Bolivia has the largest everything...) We booked a three day tour to go to the salt flats. BUT WAIT...... that day Beth had chosen out of our nifty hat and picked ¨do something illegal day¨ for out Lent game. The hotel cost 30 Bolivianos per night, (3.50 USD) a somewhat expensive place. We spent a good chunk of our morning figuring the way to sneak by the one eyed old lady who ran the place and skip out on our whooping 3.50 was tough! BUT WE MADE IT OUT!!!! We made it out, bought fruit, did errands etc.....once we arrived to the tour company to leave that morning, the one-eyed lady was there to track us down and GRILLED we ended up having to pay. The best part of our do something illegal day....we got caught.

Then we left for the Salt Flats.....(ashamed)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Festival de la Virgen

Festival de la Virgen del Candelaria

I was in Puno, Peru for three weeks. It was the festival de la Virgen de Candelaria.

I performed with the Sikuris Andean windpipe group, and we danced the whole time. The main events were held on the weekends where we would do stadium performances or we would dance through the streets for hours. The main days we danced from 9 am to 6 pm, took a break and ate and then watched the some 50 odd groups that were all marching through the streets and party and have a good time. Some of the costumes were amazing, beyond things I had imagined would be in a festival. Some of the hand made metal masks I saw were at least 4 feet tall, painted, with crazy devil characteristics (taken from the Pagaen ancestry), colorful. They would wear them for hours. Groups costumes included everything from traditional more conservative campesino clothing, to more colonial influenced brightly colored costumes, to devil like monster gods, to hand made 40 kilo dragon costumes....and everything inbetween. It was a visual and audio spectacular.....there is just this contagious energy that flows through everybody, everybody is HAPPY!!!!! The days and nights were filled with music, dancing, food, parades, practices, and get togethers... definitely one of my trip tops.

During the days of rest, as I like to call them.....the week between Candelaria and Carnaval, I went a couple of new places. One of them was the town of Chiqui on Lake Titicaca. The drive by Lake Titicaca was beautiful, filled with little pueblos, drying reeds, boats fishing trout, the rugged altiplano landscape and clear endless blue skies. We made it to the little town and checked out the old lookouts, falling churches, a trout farm run by the Puno University. We also made our way to an ancient fertility ruin, a smallish square filled with rock penises. Some of the facing upward to give fertility to the sun god, some facing into the group to give fertility to Pachamama, Mother Earth. We took fun pictures and said we were just recently married, so I could get the non-gringa price. (Then at the end told the lady my husband was made at me because I sat on one of the penises, which they believe quadruples your fertility chances)

Sidenote: Gringo/Gringa is not a derrogatory term here, it doesn´t mean somebody bad, it simply means somebody different, who looks different, talks different, has different practices. So i´ve learned not be offended.

I got to know Puno Peru really well due to my couchsurfer Lizandro and everything he introduced me to. I spent my last couple of days driving around on the 1960 Honda moto with Freddy, going to the market which occupies some 20 block straights and then has a 4 x 6 block everywhere which I loved, eating ice cream, hanging at the cafe with our friends, and practicing the windpipe. I´ve decided to go back next February to dance again with this group, a new tradition.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Where to begin?!?!

I know I haven´t written in awhile, and for good reason...phew! I am here in Puno, Peru.

I had written a little about the first nite that I got here. From there...right now is the Festival del Virgen del Candelaria here, a two week long festival. It is the third largest in South America (1st Carnival in Rio, 2nd Bolivia) I have officially joined the group Huj´maya. The Puno siku (andean flute), drum, and traditional dance group that combines the two indigenous cultures here, Quechua and Aymara. I have learned the traditional dances for some 7 odd dances that we are going to perform in the stadium here in front of thousands of people, and from there march through the streets...a three day event! Basically all day and nite. Traditional dress and all. Its so awesome this group, they are great, I can´t even begin to explain. Last weekend commenced the festival, and there was bands marching through the streets and dancing at all hours...craziness. There are some 400 traditional dances just from this region of Puno. All of them have traditional dress as´s a huge event. (Why don´t the states have festivals like this?) We marched through the streets...i think i´ll just have to explain when i get back!!!

Also I went to Lake Titicaca. We went to the Floating Islands (that YES they do actually float), which were very interesting and beautiful. From there made our way to Island Taquile to see the community that lives there (who have maintained a lot of their original aymara culture, and are world known for their cloths)

Hanging out with some of the people from Huj´maya. And Freddy lets me borrow his motocycle, and he lets me drive. So we spent a day driving around Puno seeing all the cool places, mostly those that tourists don´t see :) And going to his band practice (he plays harmonica as well). We went to cool lookouts that you can see L. Titicaca and all of Puno, harbored ships converted to restaurants, local bars, and lots of highway hahaha.

There have also been other couchsurfers who have strolled through, from Germany, Belgium... and we have lots of fun as well.

Another of my trip tops was last Saturday night, the best fiesta I´ve seen. Fireworks, parades, tons of music groups, was amazing....everybody dancing everywhere. Huj´maya also is amking a video for the group, and I got to participate!!! I dressed in traditional dress and we performed and did scenes from the indigenous culture. Granted it took all day, and now I know I can´t be an actress! But it was fun all the same.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


So one of the things that has brought me such great success while traveling, is the program Couchsurfing (

Anytime I meet cool travelers on the road I try and explain to them what it is all about. If you haven´t read so far about all my couchsurfing experiences, I highly recommend you do (There is a label for most of them on the blog posts)

Here are just some quick facts (as of 1/29/2009)

Successful Surf or Host Experiences
Friendships Created
Positive Experiences
Countries Represented
Cities Represented

Now just mentally pictures those numbers. There are 231 COUNTRIES represented. Almost 1,000,000 people in the program.

Now check out the map:

Even if you don´t want to host people, or aren´t traveling....still a great social network to meet new people, and people with amazing thoughts and views!

Siku Andean windpipes

Yesterday, after a very eventful bus ride, I have arrived to Puno, Peru.

Well maybe we´ll start off with our eventful bus ride. Here in Peru there are various various bus companies, ranging from cheap to very expensive- and it´s usually price correlated. I chose one of the cheaper buses this time....hoped on after it showed up 30 mins. late. Instantly surrounded by all Peruvians, blasting Cumbia music and food vendors....felt like where I should be. (Because for me, those tourist set ups are a a little suffocating...) After 30 mins on the road, we were reaching the altiplano (high desert plains) region, and we stopped all of a sudden for a tire related problem, or so we were told. And our driver disappeared.... gone. So we sat there for a good while, indigenous woman getting heated over the injusticia of it all. Then some other guy from the middle of nowhere shows up, hops in and starts driving the bus. Well I don´t know about you, but I don´t know how many strangers can drive a 30 seater bus on high desert roads and keep everybody alive...but things turned out good...we were driving smoothly by alpaca heards and mountain tops and desert landscapè. Then we hit a line of cars...turns out just above on a mild curve, two semis crashed head on....on a two way road....provides problems. So lots of waiting for the clearing and all. After finally getting on with it, we stopped in Juliaca and they dropped us all of. Now that would of veen bad, a 5 hour trip turned into 8 hours....but I paid to go to Puno, not a town Juliaca....errrr. So ended up needing to find another bus to Puno which ended up not being that far. Adventure. And I love that I can do that, and everything always turns out fun.

Here in Puno, which is located on Lake Titicaca (the border of Bolivia/Peru) and this Lake is the largest navigable lake of it´s kind at this elevation. I am couchsurfing with a native Punoino. Last night we met up with Julie, from Montreal, who was also staying at his house. We met up and went to dinner (it was Julie´s last night here). We went and had traditional food, alpaca. Alpaca, which some may of heard of, is in the Llama family and they use here to make amazingly warm articles of clothing, and apparently it is also really good meat with really low cholestrol..... finally i found it then! hahaha

We ate and then headed to Lizandro (the couchsurfer) music group meeting. This group is mostly people here from Puno. The men in the group play the traditional windpipes (see the picture) and play these very large drums, sometimes simutaneously! And usually in a rotating circular formation. The women wear traditional dresses and dance. They taught us the many traditional dances they have and we went and practiced as a group in front of the church. It was awesome (especially, the whole non-tourist thing) and we were there for a couple of hours doing the dancing and playing traditional music.

Afterwards we made our way to their favorite local bar and had a drink. What a great welcome to Puno, Peru.


"All The Same"

I dont mind where you come from
As long as you come to me
But I dont like illusions I cant see
Them clearly
I dont care, no I wouldn't dare
To fix the twist in you
You've shown me eventually what you'll do
I dont mind
I dont care
As long as you're here


Go ahead and tell me you'll leave again
You'll just come back running
Holding your scarred heart in hand
It's all the same
And I'll take you for who you are
If you take me for everything
And do it all over again
It's all the same

Hours slide and days go by
Till you decide to come
But in-between it always seems too long
But I have the skill, yeah
I have the will, to breath you in while I can
However long you stay is all that I am

I dont mind, I dont care
As long as you're here

Go ahead and tell me you'll leave again
You'll just come back running
Holding your scarred heart in hand
It's all the same
And I'll take you for who you are
If you take me for everything
And do it all over again
It's always the same

Wrong or Right
Black or White
If I close my eyes
Its all the same

In my life
The compromise
I'll close my eyes
Its all the same

Go ahead say it
You're leaving
You'll just come back running
Holding your scarred heart in hand
It's all the same
And I'll take you for who you are now
If you take me for everything
Do it all over again
It's all the same

Monday, January 26, 2009

Little survey

Ok so now that I see EVERYBODY in the world has read my post on the sandboarding experience, there is something else.... on my last night there, literally, I was sitting atop the highest sand dune looking down on the oasis and I met Kent Foster from CA. We got to talking and had a fun little conversation about my mom maybe being a hippie and marrying, me being 19, and a womens prison in Quito that has a 19-yr old from Wyoming who is there for swallowing 30 some odd condoms full of Heroine to smuggle into the states (he proposed I may be down here to do the same if I fall in love with some Peruvian or something...I guess we{ll wait and see.....but it probably doesn{t help that I´ve already lied to the police down here innumerable times, mostly to get out of fines....and spending 1/3 of my time in Ecuador illegally.....doesn´t help). But back to the point, had some fun conversation. He{s traveled everywhere, check out his site at, it´s pretty cool, if I do add. But there is a FAQ´s page, so i thought I´d give it a whirl.....

Please feel free to send me more questions on the message board or write me and email at and i´ll post them and answer ém.

Question: Where have you been lately?
Well if you are only reading this blog entry, then maybe hit the back button and read the rest!!! :) This trip, traveling S. America until I feel like going home. I have been in Colombia, from the Farc infested south, through the coffee growing zone, to the iffy pacific, to the beautiful metropolitan of Medellin, to the Carribean coast near the lost city, and down to the over-sized like Mc Donalds Bogota. In Ecuador, I spent the biggest chunk of my time (in one of the smallest countries in SA!) I went everywhere in Ecuador from the beautiful coast and the ¨Ruta del Sol¨ {Sun route), the closest to the sun peaks of the Sierra, the humid mosquito infested area of the jungle, and the uniquely beautiful Galapagos Islands. In recently entered Peru, I have seen the desert dry northern coast with some of the biggest surfer spots, the Cordillera Blanca and the snow topped peaks of the Andes, Sand dunes, and then heading back to climb some more!

Question: How many countries have you visited?
I´m young...i´ve only JUST BEGUN!!!!
Honduras when I was 17, for 1 1/2 mos. as a part of Amigos de las Americas
This trip: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru.... tbc

Q: What`s your favorite country?
Countryside- Colombia
People- Ecuador
Personal meaning/significance- Honduras

Q: What country do you want to visit that you have never been?
My top three countries on my list would be
1.New Zealand
2. Ireland
But, and yes I´m already thinking of it, my next biggish trip will be SouthEast Asia

Q: Window or aisle? bear, beats , battlestar galaxia....ok lame joke only probably one person reading this got....WINDOW, gotta see those views. When else can 20 sq. feet of ocean look like a confetti square

Q: How much money do you make?
Um...i´m 19....(almost 20!)

Q: What food from home do you miss when traveling?
Peanut Butter!!!!! And mom´s tacos!

Q: What is the grossest thing you´ve seen?
Well you pretty much learn not to be grossed out anymore, cockroaches crawling up my wall...not too uncommon. But HEY! at least I´m not naming the cockroaches yet!!!

Q: What about school?
Well my opinion changes on this frequently, but lately it has pretty much stuck too... I don{t know what I want to do yet, so i{m not in a hurry to rush back and waste money!

Q: What is the most amazing thing you´ve seen?
Well this trip the Guatape Rock in Colombia was pretty amazing. But also, the willingness to give

Q:Aren´t you bored?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sand Dunes!!!

So back in 2008 when Julie and I were planning this little trip, there were a couple of ¨must do´s ¨ that we saw when we researched. One of the must do´s for me was to try Sand Dune board diving.
When I left the beautiful mountain city of Huaraz, I headed to Ica, a coastal town. Right outside of Ica there is a small little oasis community called Huacachina. This is a nestled away oasis with palm trees, lagoon, and rolling hills of SAND. The dunes were gorgeous. Huacachina is known for it´s sandboarding and so the first day I was there, I met some people that were going and we decided to all go together. Now if you have EVER tried walking up or down dunes of sand, you would know that it is quite difficult!!!! So what we all did was got a dune buggy and somebody to drive it. Turns out the guy who drove our car was the craziest driver there. What a blast! We went ripping through the dunes, flying over mound, and bouncing all over the place.
We first tried the sandboarding on smaller hills to get a feel for it. I tried on my feet first, using all the snowboarding skills I could remember, but figured out the only option if you didn´t want to wipe out was to kamakazie it all the way down the hills...straight down. So after a couple of attempts, I got the hang of it and was able to go down medium sized dunes on my feet, pretty exciting!
But then they took us to the real dunes, the ones that are 150 yards high....BIG DUNES. Well this was a little different, we all decided it would be better, and much less painfull if we fall, if we go on our stomachs. So we went down HUGE DUNES on our stomachs at fast fast fast speeds....what an adrenaline rush. I had a good rally going on by getting the farthest...but eventually was overtaken by a really skinny guy from China....close to winning.
We went down quite a few huge dunes and it was really really amazing, h ighly recommend it!!!! So I put a little check on my imaginary list, accomplishing something I really wanted to try while down is good. I spent 2 1/2 dys there in the hot climate swimming and all, relaxing, because there really isn´t much to do besides ride down dunes the size of football fields.

From there I have headed to Arequipa, near the border of Chile/Peru. This city is known as ¨THe White City¨ and I have yet to explore much of it. But last night we did do a couchsurfer get together with people that live here in Arequipa and are a part of couchsurfing. Once again I´ll say, it´s a great way to actually get to know the people and places of somewhere you are visiting, instead of the whole hostal and tourist gig you would be stuck in if you didn´t try it. You always meet great people and have a blast. Well keep you updated.

post: Have a great Engagement Party Mom!!!! Congratulations to Carolyn and Devin I am glad you guys found happiness, and eachother.

Can you believe I only have 4 months left!!!!!!!! AAAHHHHH

also, I put more pictures up on facebook, if you have an account, there are more of the mountain trip I did, and also of the sandboarding.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Paramount Pictures Presents...

I am here in Huaraz, Peru. The mountain town tucked away in the Andes. This area includes two mountain ranges Cordillera Negra (The Black Range) and Cordillera Blanca(The White Range) that are filled with ruins, lagoons, waterfalls, marshes, thermal spas and some of Peru´s highest peaks.
So I decided....must ENJOY!!!!! I decided to do the 4 day Santa Cruz loop Trek. I signed up witha company for a guide, and a group was created. Dan and Justin from NY. Magda and Majik from Poland, Anne from France, and Chong from S. Korea, along with our guide Abel and our donkeys.

We started out with a ride to the small town of Colcabamba. We passed by the lakes of Llanganuco that you see in the photos. It is comprised of two lakes, the male lake, and the female lake. The female lake is the crystal blue one in the pictures. It was the bluest lake I´ve ever seen, turquoise and beautiful. We then made our way up the mountains, passed snow line, got a flat tire for an hour, and made our way down to the village of Colcabamba where we started our Santa Cruz trek.

We headed out into the valley and hiked through two valleys before it started pouring rain. We had to break out our ponchos for the slight chance that we would keep our stuff dry, but it was definitely pouring rain. We reached our third valley which was gorgeous even during the rain. Filled with rivers, red-barked trees, bogs, lakes, marshes, and horses. It felt like ¨the passing thru the marshes¨of Lord of the Rings. I went to take a picture and stepped on a mound of grass about 3 ft. wide and it started sinking! it was a floating mound of land, and i was too heavy. thought it was gonna suck me up!!!We made our way thru this valley for the first night and set up camp between two rivers. Everybody was soakin´wet, but still having fun. We stocked up on some good food, chewed coca leaves for altitude, and made our ways to bed at 7¨30pm.

We were woken up the next morning by our guide abel and coca tea. The morning view was gorgeous!!! The mountains of Cordillera Blanca amazing looking- see the photos!!! We packed up and headed more up the valley for the second day. This day was the hardest, constant incline. The valley was amazing, gigantic rock walls, high snow-covered peaks, tons of lagoons, and SUN!!!! We made our way to the base of the mountains and made our way up the intense incline to reach Punta Union (elv. 4750 m, 15000ft)
It was an intense incline but awesome. We reached the snow and could see an INCREDIBLE view of the Andean range from the top, peaks as far as you could see. Amazing!!!! And right next to us was Mt. Taulliraju. We could also see the Paramount Pictures mountain, the mountain the company uses as their logo (without the circle of stars of course- who would of guessed? i didn´t even think it was a real mountain, but here it is in teh Andean range!) As we were sitting at the Union eating lunch and admiring the beautiful valley and lake view below we heard this really loud sound, like a plane. We looked up the mountain and there was an avalanche that fell right in our plain sight. We got to see in action a fairly sized avalanche, awesome!!!! thats a first! We then started our decent into the valley, got below snow line and made camp before the thunder and lighting hit and it rained all night. The third day begun with a bit of rain, but mostly cleared up. More coca tea to start the day and plenty of liquids (the best tasting water, fresh snow melt water is delicious!!!!) The third day we made our way to Laguna Arhuaycocho (i´ll get pictures up very soon) and got to see more avalanches that fell above the lake. The snow was also falling right into the lake. We also had killer views of Mt. Alpamaya (named a most beautiful mountain, in some year that i forget). We made our decent into the valley again and passed more marshes and beautiful scenery. It was all just too beautiful. (My camera also didn´t work pass Punta Union, so i´m getting pictures sent to patient) The last part of the third day and the fourth day we spent declining the valley and admiring the beauty of the Andes. We all had a blast. And I´m so glad I did it! lifetime experience. It turned out ot be a 64 km (40miles) 4-day trek through the Andes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Huanchaco chaco chaco

Now isn´t that just a fun town name to say.... huanchaco. So continuing my first week in Peru, I headed to Huanchaco, Peru. A fishing village on the coast of Peru, known for the ¨longest left in the world¨for surfers, and cool reed boats used for fishing, made out of reed and styrofoam and kinda look like elf boots. I headed here with two girls, Beth from Minneapolis, and Char from Canada. We met at the border and spent our time in sunny Mancora together. We enjoyed the sunny beach town but decided it was a little to party and loud for we headed south to a more tranquil place.
We spent the first day here, after a night bus from Mancora, finding banks, changing money, and finding PEANUT BUTTER!!!!!! God the pure enjoyment of peanut butter here is amazing. It is so hard to find American peanut butter, and I did and I went crazy. Yummy!!! We made PB and J´s for lunch the next day. Amazing the simple things you miss wouldn´t believe some of them if I told you, but you appreciate simple basic things from back home. So Peanut butter! The rest of the day, we decided to dedicate to a North American day. The next big town over, Trujillo, had a shopping mall that rivaled most shopping malls in teh states. Not to mention right on the beach and open air. So on this North American Day...we shopped for clothes, ate McDonalds or Chinese food, and went and saw movie (4 Xmas- in English!) and ate ice cream. It was a fun day.

Yesterday was Beth´s 27th bday!!! SO we went to the Chan Chan Incan ruins. Palace of King Chimu, and the largest of it´s kind in Peru. We spent a good part of the day strolling the ancient ruins and making up silly ¨what was this...¨ And of course we had to venture off the path a little ways, and found some other ruins of our own (or at least we think we they were...use being experts) and walked along a 20 ft high dirt wall. That night, we dressed up ( I was in a dress, YES a dress) and we went to another movie and spoiled us to a Papa John´s we found here (which is like high class pizza here) We went and saw Australia. It was a good birthday for her.
Today we are wrapping things up and going our separate ways. They are heading to Lima to met up with family flying in...and i´m heading to Huaraz, Peru to do some hiking in the ¨white range¨of hte Andes. Should be fun...
p.s. I´ll try and get more recent pictures up...but haven´t taken too many

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Happy New Year to everyone and hope the year was brought in with good vibes!!!!
As of yesterday, I have entered my third country of South America, Peru.
I left from Mompiche and said goodbye to my family of people there. It was sad times, but what needed to be done. I look back on my time there with a smile and am grateful for what I had. But traveling, life moves on.
I luckily, after much thought about how to cheat the system, luckily did not have to pay an exit fee for the 1 1/2 months I spent illegally in Ecuador, cheated the system and convinced the Peruvian immigration to let me slide, not to mention they gave me 180 days visa...woohooo!!!! So i´ve spent time as an illegal.
I met up with a group of two girls and a guy on the bus and we headed into the world famous surf spot, Mancora, Peru. There is plenty of sun, desert, and people. Still yet to see if the waves hold up to the reputation. It is popular mostly due to the fact that it is right on the Panamerican highway, therefor lots of gringos that give the town a different flare.
I am looking into doing WWOOFing (world wide organization of organic farms) to do volunteer work on a farm down in Peru, should be lots of fun.
Congratulations to Mrs. Carolyn Melody Parker
Congratulations to Shannon on her marriage (sorry I missed it)
Hope the semester is good for all the students
Thanks for the emails, updates, and message board posts.
2009 is gonna kick butt!!!!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!!!!!

Happy 2009!!!!
Prospero Ano Nuevo a todos!!!!
I hope everyone enjoyed the welcoming of the New Year...2009 who can believe it! Time flies!!!!
As for New Years here in Mompiche, it was definitely a BLAST. We started the night out by grilling a huge Mahi Mahi fish, platanos, salad-a feast!!! Spent it with a group of people here. It was delicious. After that we headed to the center of Mompiche, such a happening because the center here is so HUGE hahaha. The streets were full of people and vibrating with music. One of the traditions here is to make a life-sized doll of somebody (usually somebody you don{t like) and on New Years night they set fire to the dolls in the street. Whta a funky cool tradition huh? Not to mention, a popular doll being George Bush, always fun to see him burned : ) Another tradition is to do the large meal with the family and/or friends, so many people were eating until close to 12am. We walked around on the beach and there were two huge bonfires. After dancing a little there and midnight was fastly approaching, we decided why not get in the water?!?

So to bring in the New Years, a big group of us jumped into the ocean at 11:45 and surfed in the dark and welcomed in the New Year! Fireworks being set off, bonfires, music.... welcome to 2009!!!After we hoped out of the water and went and celebrated a little back at the house before leaving with everybody in town to dance.

We danced salsa at one of the bars with a bonfire and then headed to the one discotec here in mompiche, It was FULL of people and felt like an OVEN!!!! I sweated every part of that huge meal I ate dancing salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggeaton, techno remixs and whatever they put on. We danced until 5 am (that is late for this little town...) and after that made my way to a hammock overlooking town and crashed there until the next morning.
All in all....a BLAST.
Happy 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!

p.s. I´ve learned to surf (kinda) I can now return to San Diego not as a disgrace...