A Travellerspoint blog

Rio No Dinero - (as Izzy likes to call it)

BY MARISA

rain 0 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Ah, Brazil! I knew as soon as we got on the bus from Sao Paulo to Rio De Janeiro, that I loved this country. The contrast between Peru and Brazil was apparent immediately. People seem happier here, truly enjoying life. This is of course a generalization, the people of Peru were very kind, but there is something different in the air here, smiles come more readily to peoples’ lips. The hills are lush and the suco (juice) bars a plenty! I drink 1 – 3 coconut waters a day and Izzy is hooked on mango shakes. We have been making the list of places we can and cannot see ourselves living since leaving LA, and I must say, coconuts are now part of my criteria.

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The diversity of race in Brazil has surprised me. Walking down the street, you can’t tell who the foreigners are. I feel like we blend right in… until we attempt to speak! I was under the impression that Portuguese was similar to Spanish and that I would be able to get by. I was mistaken! No one understands a word I say and I can only comprehend one out of every 20 words I hear in Portuguese. Izzy has started making up his own words. He now uses the words “ookli-ocklee” as a standby for anything from “please,” to, “Where is the bathroom?” We decided that “gratsi” sounded good enough for “thank you” until we learned how to pronounce the right word yesterday, “Obrigado.” Now we have one word down!

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After nearly three months, we are starting to get the hang of this traveling thing. Our mistakes have cost us way more time and money than we would like to think about, but we have learned some solid lessons. Our current goal is to cut out our main expense – hostels. The Rio rain has given us some time to research and plan how to better live without hostels. We have been contacting hosts through hospitalityclub.org, the ASW forum, volunteer projects and WWOOF!

Hostel life has been interesting, but personally, I’m over it. So far, the only place I felt comfortable was in Arequipa. Since then, it has been a dreadful decline. I’m not bad at roughing it, but sleeping on a sunken bunk bed in a packed room with eight smelly dudes (not including Izzy), all of which are total strangers, who sweat booze after getting in late-night, doesn't make for restful sleep. More important to me than the beautiful views and attractions are the people who actually call these streets home. Staying at hostels, we are floating superficially on the surface of the culture. Lesson learned! We go for our interview with Servas International tomorrow, and if we are accepted, we will be able to do cultural exchanges with families in every country. Servas is a peace movement that works in association with th UN. Good for the checkbook and the soul!

The most memorable times so far have been getting to know locals. In Peru, I spoke to our bike tour guide Antonio for hours about the pre-Incan cultures, his family, Peruvian life and traditions. I learned more from Antonio in one night than I had all month. There is a sincerity and passion than comes through when people talk about what they know and love – it’s contagious and inspiring. For that same reason, we were happy to hear that my sister Reyna had a friend here in Rio. We had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Fernando and his girlfriend Ana Paula. Sitting in an authentic Brazilian nook, speaking back and forth in a mix of Portuguese, Spanish and English, we shared stories, ate delicious traditional food, drank some “Original” drinks, learned about Rio/Brazilian culture and finally, it felt like we had arrived.

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Okay, maybe this isn't typical Brazilian food (or vegan!)... Damn brownies get me every time!
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Izzy's fresh new "stache" style.
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Posted by triptime 18:50 Archived in Brazil Tagged lodging Comments (1)

Basking in the rain of Rio

by Izzy

rain 66 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

We knew it would end. We have been on one of the greatest traveling streaks of all time. How lucky could we be? All the way across the U.S., both of our home-towns, NYC and even most of Peru has been dream-like. But now we are in Rio de Janeiro and the rain gods have caught up with us. These are the November showers that bring December flowers in the south. These are the dog days of summer that keep you lodged inside when some of the world’s greatest beaches are only a few steps away. These are the days of our lives…

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Though Brazilian soap operas are fancied here, we still haven’t stooped to that level. Instead, we are making the best of it. Even though the voyage here was not easy – stuck in Lima, Peru for five days awaiting our new visas, a four hour red-eye flight, three hour time change, back-to-back seven hour combined bus ride from Sao Paulo to Rio and now four straight days of rain – we are not complaining. So far, we have nothing but kind things to say about the people of Brazil (though we can’t understand a word they say), the landscapes are diverse, lush and stunning, the food hasn’t let me down once and it’s still warm enough to wear shorts and sandals. Not a bad combination for any city… but this is RIO, baby, RIO! This city thrives on sun-filled days to provide energy to the millions of scantily-clad beach goers, Samba dancers and night-lifers. This is where sunsets, vistas and Jesus mingle to create post cards to send home to mom and dad. This is the place surfers, hang gliders and rock climbers bask in all of nature’s glory. So what would you do?

1) Wait out the rain, even with the five-day forecast showing no signs of sunshine, leaving less time for other exploration throughout Brazil.
2) Pick-up and move-out to the next city on the list and leave desires and life-long dreams to drown in the puddles.
3) Do everything you wanted to do anyways, despite your soggy britches.

Only time will tell. For now, we will continue to count our blessings instead of the rain drops and cross our fingers for a few sneak-peeks of sun in the days to come.

*Disclaimer: Any photo below with a glimpse of sun and blue skies came from a small window of time on our first day.

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For more pictures of Rio, click on the link below:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Rio%20de%20Janeiro/

Posted by triptime 12:23 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Why we are STILL in Peru - Video Blog #2

by Izzy and Marisa

sunny 68 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Posted by triptime 19:24 Archived in Peru Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Machu Picchu has been expecting us.

by Izzy

rain
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

We suffered every minute of it. Frozen stiff, on no sleep, with no prior arrangements, we arrived in Cuzco at 5:00am. The Bus had won, beating us ragged throughout the night and spitting us out into the streets like a rank llama bone from last week’s trash. This was no way to be treated. But you live and learn, especially on the road, and we have vowed never to let the Bus get the best of us again!

We picked ourselves up, knocked off the dust and moved forward. Machu Picchu has been expecting us.

We booked a hostel and then we booked a tour. Two days later, we waited patiently on a street corner outside of the main plaza. There was no order and no explanations as the clock ticked farther away from the time of departure. Nine or so mountain bikes leaned against the cobbled-wall along with a couple other tour-ists. Just before our anxious nerves reached their peak, two speeding vans spun through the intersection and picked us, and the bikes, up. We wound through the surrounding hills and mountains and then down through the Sacred Valley, trying not to vomit from motion sickness. Close to three hours later, we were shook from sleep when the van came to a stop atop a point surrounded in lingering clouds and mist. Many scurried for helmets, gloves and a bike, while Marisa and I needed to collect ourselves. Again, live and learn. We were the last to select our gear and the first to be stuck in the chilling rain of the high jungle.

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Once the numbness set in, so did the beauty of the area. Rugged snow-topped peaks, lush hillsides and splattering waterfalls staggered the landscape as we splashed down the newly paved road. We were soaked within minutes. A good hour went by, maneuvering around slippery hairpin turns, dodging rooster-tailing cars and fallen rocks from the walls above. Then it stopped. The road was instantly dry and the sun was out, offering its services for the rest of the day. We descended for three straight hours, never needing to pedal and covering close to 30 miles! The first of three days finished in the small village of Santa Maria, dry and well-fed.

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Day two started out early as the alarm beeped and rain thundered down outside of our open-aired hostel room. We had been told the day before that we would need to catch a cab at 6:00am to the town of Santa Teresa, in order to meet up with another group, so we did. Once with the group and new guide, we rode again until there was no road. There are only two ways to Machu Picchu, by train or by foot, so we hiked along the railroad tracks for three hours until we finally reached the “gringo” dominated town of Aguas Calientes. It was time for lunch, a quick rest in yet another hostel room and then back on the trail. This time, it was straight up (so if you read Marisa’s latest blog, you know she was relaxing in an internet café).

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Approaching the trailhead, we soon realized that it was closed for maintenance, but after a bit of persuading, the guide gave in and we scurried upward into the foliage. Each step was steeper than the last. At one stretch, five consecutive wooden ladders cut through the canopy (and my lungs), forgetting about switchbacks and taking the most direct route. It was a climb that reaped the benefits more than 500 meters above the starting point, giving way to a direct view of Machu Picchu. The sun glared from behind as I realized where I was and what I was looking at.

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Rain, again, was falling hard outside when our 4:00am alarm sounded. The group was meeting in the town square before heading to the park gates. Luckily, our agency had included the bus ride both up and down, while most had to make the hour plus jaunt sloshing up the mountainside. Fog, clouds and rain made sure there was no sunrise to be seen. But this was our parade and by 7:00am, the elements gave way and allowed us our time. History, myths, expectations and the feeling of actually being there were all wrapped into one mind boggling morning. So many questions remain unanswered and mysteries to be solved, but that’s the beauty of Machu Picchu, and ironically, that’s the beauty of our trip thus far!

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Special thanks to: our guides (Antonio and Rodrigo), the Kiwi sisters – for their humor and companionship, the llamas for being llamas, and Marisa for once again making the best out of each and every situation!

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For more pictures, click on the link below:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Cuzco%20and%20Machu%20Picchu/

Posted by triptime 19:49 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

The Lowlands & The Highlands

by Marisa


View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

There have been major highs and lows thus far, many within the same day. I’ve come to realize that as much as I embrace and appreciate this whole experience, I was also romanticizing many aspects. At times when I am dirty, tired, cold, hungry, sick and achy, everything seems dank. Then there are times when I am completely comfortable, clean, rested, full and so thrilled with life that I feel like hugging and kissing strangers. Apart from the obvious strains of backpacking on a shoestring, I have had a hell of a time with some personal challenges. At the risk of sounding like a big wimp, but for the sake of honesty, I’m about to let you in on a few of the lows (as well as highs) of traveling. Maybe this will help our most jealous friends feel better!

EXPECTATIONS

I lived a very austere life on an ashram in Mexico for eight years and broke a lot of my Westernized expectations and material attachments, but after a year and a half back in the USA, I have definitely become spoiled and comfortable again! In Mexico, and many other countries in the world, you have to become very Zen-like to make it through everyday life happily, and I did. Water and electricity are often lost because of strong wind or broken pumps, punctuality is nonexistent and what Americans consider to be necessities are actually privileges and luxuries. It’s time to get back into Zen-mode! I am consciously trying to enjoy every aspect of traveling, but as much as I hate to admit it, I often have to confront my judgmental side. Dirty holes as toilets, no toilet paper to be found, wearing the same (at times stinky) clothes for many days, trying not to let my imagination get the best of me while wondering about hostel sheets, being electrocuted (not shocked… electrocuted!) by faulty wiring, 12 -18 hour bus rides with kids kicking your back and smelly people snoring symphonies, bus drivers that blast static radio stations on an overnight trip or watching a cook cough directly into your order - sometimes it’s hard to not get annoyed or fanatic about personal space and cleanliness.

There is an internal struggle that goes on as I constantly remind myself to observe, learn, appreciate and experience without holding anything up to my normal living standards. Every nightmare experience actually becomes incredibly funny once it’s over. Having someone to shoot looks at when things are getting nutty is a huge benefit of traveling as a couple. Nothing is better than knowing someone you love is suffering from the same chaos and enjoying the same wonders along with you!

HILLS

Those of you that know me well know that I don’t like to walk up hills. I know, it sounds lazy but I HATE hills. I can walk for days, but add an incline and I lose it… my heart pounds out of my chest, I lose my breath and I turn into a miserable, complaining, little-old woman. Anyone that knows Izzy, knows that he LOVES hiking up mountains and anything else difficult enough to make you hate life while doing it. So far I have endured many climbs. It feels like every day we are on another hike that Izzy swears is ending, “just around the bend.” I can honestly say that after the fact, I appreciate everything he challenges me to do. I have realized how much I would be missing out on if I had done this trip alone – so many sights I wouldn’t have seen and gratification I wouldn’t have felt. I still say I’m not doing it every time I hear of another plan to climb something, but I know now what I’m missing if I don’t, and so I eventually give in.

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EATING (OR NOT EATING)

I have been a vegetarian for 16 years and while in Mexico I was a vegan as well. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE cheese and ice cream, but I also know the great health and ecological benefits of cutting out dairy (as well as meat). I was eating dairy again before starting the trip (including massive amounts of Dairy Queen ice cream as we drove cross-country!), but I watched the video Diet for a New America before leaving the US and I have been pretty put off by it since. Staying with the Hare Krishnas (outside of Lima) was wonderful because everything was mostly vegan, but towards the end of ten days living on just potatoes, corn and rice, I started giving Izzy my portions. There is only so much starch one person can take! I started eating half of what I normally would, while Izzy started making up for it, eating two to three times what he used to eat in the States (I’ll fatten him up yet Jeanie!).

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Once out of Eco Truly, things only got worse and I eventually burst into tears at a restaurant that promised me a big veggie salad, but brought me ¼ of a lettuce leaf, five cheese sticks (that I couldn’t eat) and a teaspoon of guacamole. Poor Izzy was searching for answers, trying to understand why his girlfriend was having a nervous breakdown over cheese sticks. We came up with a plan and the next day we went in search of the elusive fruit and veggie market. Next, we scouted out the best sized purse (turned “Marisa lunch bag”) we could find. With my new Peruvian sack full to the brim with olives, avocados, tomatoes, carrots, apples and cucumbers, I finally felt at peace. I had been hungry for so many days that I had started losing my common sense – why hadn’t I done this earlier? Meanwhile, Izzy had been having a heyday eating everything from octopus to chicken feet soup and according to him, guinea pig still to come!

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IZZY

Spending 24 hours day together for the last two and half months has been a surprisingly easy challenge. We have had our tiffs a few times, like the time he didn’t want to take off his rank-nasty clothes before getting into our new, clean bed or the time I ate his box of chocolates without asking him, hoping to cover my tracks the next day (I was unsuccessful), but all in all it has been a joy to travel together. I love how this lifestyle has accelerated everything. We have had to deal with issues we would probably never have had to in our LA life. We are very good at laughing at each other when we are being ridiculous or moody – that helps a lot! We are having a blast together.

NEW FRIENDS

One of the most beautiful parts of traveling so far has been the humanity of connecting with people from around the world, fellow travelers and locals alike. There is a natural affinity among backpackers and everyone looks out for each other. For example, last night on the train back to Cusco (from Machu Picchu) we sat across from a guy from Uruguay. He was traveling with a couple friends and I offered him my coat as a pillow so he could sleep. We didn’t talk until the last two minutes of the train ride, but when he found out we would be visiting his country in a few months, he immediately offered to set us up with places to stay when we get there. Strangers caring about strangers, I love the comrodery. I mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again - this is like summer camp! We get to make new friends everyday and play like little kids. The freedom is incredible and I appreciate every moment of designing my life. This is a wonderful stepping stone to formulating exactly what we want to do in our future life together!

Trying our hardest to be uncool...
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DEAR OLD FRIENDS

I cannot tell you the joy it gives us to hear from you all. Please continue (or start) to comment and send emails. You are all on our minds and we talk about you constantly! If you haven’t subscribed to the blog, please let us know if you are reading along. It’s more fun posting when we know we have readers!!! Last note: We just got the greatest news that our buddy Gur (from LA) will be meeting us in Buenos Aires, Argentina for ten days over the Christmas / New Year holidays! Who will be next?

Posted by triptime 13:13 Archived in Peru Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Highs and Lows (reporting from Cuzco)

by Izzy

rain 53 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Posted by triptime 12:49 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The S.S. Puno and the Islands of Lake Titikaka

by Izzy

sunny 66 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from the Puno port aboard a tiny ship. Our captain was a mechanic too, our guide a Quechuan for sure, twenty passengers set sail that day for a two-day/one-night tour…” But the weather never got rough, the tiny ship was never tossed (though it did stall out a couple times) and the fearless crew reminded me nothing of Gilligan and the Skipper.

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We had made it to Puno, Peru’s port city for the historically mythical Lake Titikaka. Taking a day to adjust to the altitude (3,820 meters – just under 12,000 feet above sea level), Marisa and I navigated around town checking out the plazas, statues, arches, markets and overlooks that adorn most South American cities. The city had a pulse; people were out-and-about, filling the narrow streets and dodging the relentless onslaught of cabs, moto-bikes and peddled rickshaws.

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At 7:45am the next morning, the tour bus honked, and we were the first to board. Twenty minutes later, we climbed into our seats at the front of the boat, met our guide Alejandro and were serenaded by a local musician collecting tips.

The agenda consisted of three islands in two days. A few kilometers off the shores of Puno, hidden in the shallows and the jetting reeds of Lake Titikaka, the Uros live throughout 46 floating islands. Only Marianne, or maybe the Professor, could have managed a life so simple; reeds on top of reeds on top of reeds, with reed huts sitting on top of reed floors and then reed boats going from one reed-island to the next. Reed-iculous!

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Then it was out into the heart of the lake. Our ship set ground on the shore of Amantani, not a deserted desert isle (but close), three hours from the Uros. We were welcomed by the fine folks of the Colquecachi community. Our guide broke us up here and we were introduced to our family for the night. Madre Julia and Padre Silvestre now had a gringo son and half-Mexican daughter. With no time to waste, it was off to our new homestead. Up through the many terraces, dirt paths and cobbled walk-ways, weaving our way to the near top of the island – huffing and puffing, struggling to avoid dry-mouth, an ensuing headache and embarrassment as our 60 year-old native mom never broke stride. No electricity, no motorized vehicles and centuries of traditional ways made for a truly appreciative lifestyle. The following 24 hours included: eating in the stone cocina (kitchen), topping the islands ceremonial peak of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) at sunset, dancing with the locals in traditional garb, bumping my head on everything (natives are not tall), talking with nuestra familia (our family), singing with nuestras hermanas (our sisters) and taking in the beauty of the people, their culture and the island.

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Day two, up and at’em and off to the final island, Tequile. Out of the three islands, the Howell’s and Ginger would have preferred to be ship-wrecked here. Electricity, restaurants and a town square - these people have it made. Civilized folk compared to the prior islands… After a delicious lunch of quinoa soup and grilled lake trout, the S.S. Puno loaded up for the final time and putt-putted back over the frigid lake water, completing our tour and Lake Titikaka experience.

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For more pictures of the Lake and Puno, click on the link below:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Lake%20Titikaka%20and%20Puno/

Posted by triptime 15:05 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Arequipa Election Fever

BY MARISA

sunny 77 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

After a night and day under the towering sand dunes of Huacachina, it was off to nearby Ica to catch a night bus to Arequipa. It was a 12 hour ride and I felt every minute of it (my bruised butt didn’t help things), meanwhile Izzy (dosed with Tylenol PM) slept happily by my side. As soon as we arrived in Arequipa we were struck by the gorgeously adorned women in traditional clothing and immediately started snapping photos every chance possible. The following were the result of no-look-renegade-picture-taking (from the hip).

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Arequipa is a quaint European-influenced town with a beautiful square that acts as the hub of all activity and gorgeous views of the surrounding snowcapped mountain range. If we had the time, Izzy could have spent a month there rafting, hiking and climbing; they offered tons of outdoor options! We spent three days chilling out in our new home – “The Point” hostel, with a fraternity / sorority feel to it. It was the homiest place thus far, with a kitchen, bar, common rooms with free internet and TV / DVD, pool, ping pong and foosball tables and a backyard filled with hammocks, picnic tables and a waterless hot tub. I imagine that hostel life is very similar to college life; everyone becomes fast friends, inviting each other out to dinner or to play a game of pool. Izzy was in full competitive mode, playing games with our roommate Ryan until he finally defeated him. We were thrilled to find that most of our new found international friends were as excited as we were about the upcoming presidential election.

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The big night came, November 4th, and some new guests from Ireland were hulled up in the TV room watching “50 First Dates” while we were chomping at the bit to see East Coast results! After a few calming rounds of pool we finally got in and turned on the tube. It was looking good so far; PA and OH went blue (where Izzy and I both voted absentee) and Obama’s numbers were stacking up fast. Izzy and the guys decided to run down the street for a quick bite while I stayed glued to the TV. Lucky for me a few minutes after they left our only American buddy in the hostel arrived and I had someone to celebrate with when Obama was announced president-elect! When I met Marc, a big burly, bald white guy from Ohio who is now a park ranger in Montana (Glacier N.P.), I never would have guessed he was for Obama. It just goes to show you, looks can be deceiving! Marc and I lost it. We jumped up and down screaming and crying hysterically. I can’t remember a time in my life when I have shed so many happy tears. My heart was leaping out of my chest. I could not wait for Izzy to get back, but I was at least lucky to have someone as excited as I was to celebrate with. We sat in absolute disbelief and we kept bursting into laughter and tears every few minutes. Finally Izzy, Jaime and Ryan got back and we all watched as Obama gave his speech.

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I have never been more proud of the USA in my life. I have always loved the American ideals that the country was based on, but so much seemed to go against those ideals and no one in power seemed to care about anything more than their own power and affluence. Sadly, I fell out of love with the USA a long time ago and stopped trusting anything having to do with politics. I said before this election that I would not live in a United States of America that did not elect Obama and I was serious. I’m now excited to make my way back to the US after this year of travel. I know Obama is not going to be able to fix everything (God knows it’s a mess) and he will make his share of mistakes along the way, but this is the first time I have ever felt represented and inspired by anyone even close to the presidential office. I’m in heaven, actually Peru, but you get the point. His heart is in the right place and that is something you either have or you don’t. His election gives me hope that people are changing and those that never felt counted before feel relevant now. Even the homeless on skid row in LA were voting for the first time with big smiles across their faces and twinkles in their eyes. Inspiring hope - that to me is beauty and it gives me chills! Congratulations USA!!!

This is a little excerpt from an article I just read on ASW – it voices me feelings so well:

A New Era - Is this the End of Apathy?

“At 3:06 am, four hours after CNN called the election, I can still hear the celebratory sounds of Barack Obama's victory—the cheering, laughing, weeping and honking—from my flat above Union Square in New York City. Like the crowds below, I am immeasurably moved. This is the first time that a black man has been elected President of the United States and that, in itself, is momentous, and not just for the black community, as Fox News begrudgingly infers, but for all people around the world—from those who have been subjugated and silenced to those who have only known the privilege of equality.”

“Obama has unleashed raw passion across the world. Young people have found the courage to turn their backs on the very apathy that defined their generation. In the spirit of that change, millions, without knowing it, have dared to challenge a paradigm in which cynicism trumps sincerity, emptiness trumps meaning, superficiality trumps substance. Obama's victory reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.”

-Sabine Heller
Editor of ASW

Posted by triptime 14:35 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Pisco Sour Hour

by Izzy


View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Once again, in and out of Lima,
busing it to Ica, then a cab ride to Huacachina.

A simple town, set in the sand,
it was Halloween night and nothing was planned.

Do they even celebrate here? A question to be asked...
the streets seemed empty, not one child masked.

Out of the hostel, to the bar next door,
grabbed a table in the back, near the dance floor.

Salsa music played, while candles lit the space,
one drink on my mind, a smirk on my face.

"A pisco sour please," fumbled from my mouth,
it's like a margarita, but served further south.

A Peruvian cocktail with an egg and some lime,
add local white-grape brandy and give it some time...

to chill over ice, before sipping down,
packing a punch, no need for another round.

But it was half-past nine and still (somehow) happy hour,
two-for-ones the special, so another pisco sour.

Taste buds adapting (or dying), par for the course,
Peru's national drink, a delicious alcoholic source!

Posted by triptime 10:01 Archived in Peru Tagged food Comments (0)

The Mean (Sand) Slopes of Huacachina

by Izzy

sunny 77 °F

She was ready. Mentally focused, properly rested and yearning for adventure, mighty Marisa climbed into the front seat of the beastly sand-buggy (along with eight other worldly souls). With a swift twist of the ignition, the engine rumbled something fierce and the radiator fan howled as our local guide muscled the buggy through the small streets of Huacachina. No insurance waivers or liability forms needed. A simple one-size fits all seat-belt over the shoulders and up between the legs gave us little feeling of security, but at least it was something. As soon as the “beast” reached the sand, its natural instincts took over and we were off! Blasting upward towards the endless dunes of the surrounding area – blue skies looking down on us, wondering if Marisa would be able to slay the ensuing slopes.

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The driver had no mercy for his passengers. We were all his for the next two hours. He made sure that there were yelps of fear, jeers of excitement and twists around each rising and descending dune, maneuvering like the seasoned-veteran he was. We peaked over ridges and screamed down the back-side, feeling the rush of a never-before ridden coaster at a natural theme-park. Sliding halfway up walls of sand like a skateboarder would handle a quarter pipe. Lost in a sea of sand, the beast came to a stop, grumbling, and then silent. This was our chance to take pictures of vast white landscapes rippling across the horizon, providing proper contrast to the cloudless sky. It was almost time for our Marisa to make her move.

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A few minutes later and we were once again stopped, but this time, looking down on three consecutively-descending dunes. Our guide plopped out sand boards for all. It was time to strap in. There were no demonstrations or explanations, we got the point. We were all handed a broken piece of candle to use as board wax, which had to be applied before each run to ensure a clean ride. Marisa stood atop the slope fearless, ice running coldly through her veins. Then with a hop and turn of her board she was gone, racing full on, bombing the run… for a good thirty feet or so until gravity and balance overwhelmed her, plunking her bum into the sand as graceful as one could. Back on her feet and then back on her backside, eventually completing the first phase of the course. Practice proceeded during the next few runs - steady as she goes.

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Completion of a dune (or series of dunes) meant it was time to go higher, to go steeper. Each time looking down and wondering what the slope had in store for us. Marisa was never bothered by this graduation. With her confidence at an all-day high, she decided to take the next run personally, putting it all on the line. Our allotted time was slipping away as we viewed down over the biggest combination of dunes yet. Strapped and determined, mighty Marisa made her trademark hop and turn, leaving the rest of us gritting a mouthful of sand. She kept low, fully bent at the knees, trailing one arm as if she was grabbing a wave, speeding along. Farther and farther down the dune, accelerating over each stretch of sand… and then disaster struck. Her trail hand, her anchor of balance, began to burn from friction and she pulled up, sending her weight forward. Marisa went head first into the dune, her feet flipping up over her body, creating a dust-ball of sand with protruding limbs. As Marisa came to a stop, everyone stood silent, waiting for the outcome. Without hesitation, she was up. “I’m ok!”

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Marisa had barreled down the mean sand slopes of Huachachina without ever before boarding in her life. She had strapped in and ridden the sand, taking her licks along the way. With bruises and bodily kinks as proof of her bravery and dedication to our venture, mighty Marisa continues to charge on with a smile, amazing me every step of the way.

For more pictures of HUACACHINA, COPY & PASTE the link address below into a new tab:

http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Huacachina/

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  • Also, we have added new pictures to the last two blogs on Peru, so check those out.
  • *Let us know how we're doing and send a comment if you're reading along...

Posted by triptime 16:17 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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