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...