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first stop: Arequipa, Colca Canyon and Chivay!

January 24, 2009
Our hostel in Arequipa - Casa de Melgar

Our hostel in Arequipa - Casa de Melgar

Hi everyone, I’m back! I finally got a chance to settle down and start blogging about my fabulous two weeks in Peru! Since this is all writing post-Peru, the memories may be spotty, but i’ll do my best! here goes…

my friend and i started off the trip christmas morning, arriving at the airport in plenty of time to go through security and just wind down. however, we get there and my friend asks if i brought my cell phone. i said no, since we had not talked about getting the international sim card at all and neither of us had a chance to get one while we were wrapping up final exams and stuff. my friend rolls her eyes and states “we were going to get one there.” this is news to me, since i don’t even KNOW if Peru has sim cards that i can stick into my phone. i say “well, we didn’t talk about it when we were talking about packing everything else, so i figured we weren’t going to bring it.” she rolls her eyes, looks away, and mutters “i wish you had asked me about it before you left your house.” it was SUCH a ridiculous thing, and i could already tell this friend was going to be a bitchy travel companion. and i was right, but you’ll hear more about that in other entries. long story short, i called my sister to come BACK to the airport even though she was more than 20 minutes out by now and she brought my phone back for my friend. wanna hear the kicker? we didn’t find ONE sim card in our two weeks in peru.  bossy girl. *shakes head*

anyway, we get through security and everything fine and we’re not the last people on the plane, either! The seat next to me was free, and i was thinking that i would have the whole two-seater row to myself, since we were about to take off. at the very last minute, up walks this guy and sits next to me. darn 😛 at least he was nice, though! we ended up talking, and it turns out he grew up in a town about 10 minutes away from where i grew up. small world! he (Brian) was actually on his way to argentina to do some mma fight training and fight in a competition in January, so it was pretty cool to learn that about him. the funny thing was, i never would have picked up on the fact that he was a fighter. he was so mild-mannered and polite and friendly, i never would have guessed! the whole trip was actually peppered with meeting tons of cool people everywhere, so i guess it was right that it started out with me meeting him.

Santa Catalina Monastery - Arequipa

since we were flying to peru and he was flying to argentina, we parted ways at the miami airport and began our flight into Peru. landing in lima was not very much of a culture shock, besides the fact that everything was in spanish. but having a pretty functional understanding of spanish, i wasn’t at all phased. my friend, however, immediately was on guard. she didn’t speak a lick of spanish, so i basically became her translator. i never knew how hard/tiring it is to BE a translator, but after that trip, i have a pretty good idea.

our flight to lima was nothing unusual and we landed, bright and early at 5:45am.  our next flight wasn’t leaving until 1pm, so we had some time to kill in the airport.  we met a couple from jersey – he was a jersey native, she was a peruvian.  it was really cute because they told us about their trip to machu picchu and how they were going to see family while they were there, and how neither of them had ever been to arequipa.  so far, the people we had met had been extremely friendly, and i began to wonder if peru was really as crime-stricken and scary as some people had warned me it would be.

Our first day in the city, we had a tour of the major areas in the city, and then spent the night packing for our next stop: colca canyon and chivay.  our trip literally was jam-packed with something to do every day, so it was nice to immediately get into the swing of things.  the drive to chivay was so gorgeous, but definitely long.

one note about driving in peru – it is SCARY!!  there seems to be no rules, really, in regards to driving.  if there is a parked car, you simply go around it despite the fact that you are in a narrow alley and have to drive on the sidewalk to get around the parked car.  also, drivers in peru use their horn for everything!  need to pass someone?  honkkkk!  want someone to hurry up?  honkkk.  want to say hi to another driver?  you guessed it: honkkkk!  driving in downtown manhattan was cake compared to driving in peru!  we met Becky and her boyfriend, Diego, on the way to Chivay.  Becky was working in the embassy and spoke perfect english, so it was nice to have a normal-paced conversation rather than a stumbling one in spanish as i tried to remember all that i had learned in three years of high school spanish.  the language definitely came easier as time went, thank god!  anyway, she was telling us about her job and how she got to travel every few years.  she actually made me want to pursue a job like hers, since i’ve definitely got the travel bug now, but i bet moving every few years gets a little hard, too.

on the way to chivay, i noticed that it was beginning to snow, but verrrry lightly.  i almost mistook it for rain, until i noticed that the “rain” seemed to be drifting slowly and floating, rather than falling with gravity like normal rain.  my first thought was “isnt it summer here??”  but then i remembered that it was also their rainy season.  darn!

me holding a baby llama

me holding a baby llama

we made plenty of stops along the way, including one where i got to hold a baby llama!!  i was shocked to hear that they actually eat alpaca and guinea pig in peru, and after holding that little guy, there was no way i could ever eat anything so soft and cuddly and cute!  true, i wasn’t holding an alpaca, but i figure since the alpaca and llama are like relatives, i could forego the alpaca eating 😛

our colca canyon tour was good, although we experienced a mini-hike that we were not ready for.  it was good preparation for the rest of the trip, though, since it seemed that almost all our tours had some kind of hiking embedded in it.

flashing backwards a little bit, the second friend upset of the trip (and second instance of my friend being over dramatic) was when the lady from our travel agency called and told us to pack a small bag for the overnight trip to colca canyon and chivay.  my friend, who claimed she was used to “roughing it” blew up at ME because i didn’t fight the fact that the lady had told us only to bring a small bag with us.  since we were talking mostly in spanish, it was hard to listen, translate, and then respond without the conversation taking two hours, so i just conversed with the agency like normal.  well apparently my friend didn’t like that, and later screamed (yes, we are talking full volume screaming like an angry mother at her disobedient child) that i should have let her talk.  i just sat there, incredulous.  it was ONE FRICKIN NIGHT!!  how much crap did she need to bring for ONE night?  i calmly said “yes, letting you talk would have gotten us far since you speak NO SPANISH!” and went to the bathroom to shut the door and seethe in anger alone.  apparently this made her more mad since i was “walking away” from her.  i told her to grow up and let me pee in peace.

i later found out (muuuch later, like at the end of our trip) that her “roughing it” experience was when she used to go camping as a kid with her dad and sister, where they had running water and toilets, and where her and her sister would get sponge baths.  🙄  yes, reaaaaaaaaally roughin’ it there.

despite my friend’s lack of common decency, the trip was fun, and the next post will be about our next stop: cusco!

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hola de peru!

December 29, 2008

just a quick update to say that i´m in peru until <jan 9 and will return with pictures and posts after that. happy new year, everyone!

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the consequences of being unflappable

December 16, 2008

i’ve decided that people can’t stand to see me sad, upset, or just having a rough time of it.  i usually play the strong card really well and wait until i’m behind closed doors to lose it.  since people are used to seeing me as this unflappable person, it bothers them when i do need someone to lean on.  i liken it to seeing your parents cry or something equally as unsettling.  i remember the one and only time i’ve ever seen my mom cry was when my grandfater (her dad) passed away.  and it literally shook me to the core, seeing my mom sob like she might break if she held any of it in, because i had never even seen her cry before that.  i felt like i was at a complete loss for words; i didn’t know what to say or do to make it better.  i think i cause that same sense of uneasiness in others when i break down.

i had a bad day yesterday.  in the grand scheme of bad days, it was a whopper of a bad day.  i happened to be talking to a friend at the time and mentioned how things were just kind of toppling down around me, and i felt like i couldn’t do anything to stop it and just wanted to sit down in the middle of it all and cry.  my friend said they were sorry, and then quickly changed the subject to something else.  now, i understand that some people are better at dealing with sadness than others.  i know that.  i’m actually pretty bad at dealing with stuff like that myself.  but i make a concerted effort, dangit.  this friend is someone who ALWAYS needs picking up, consoling, etc.  i’ve always played the patient, caring friend role, even when i didn’t necessarily agree with the situation or events.  but i was there.

i guess the thought of me possibly needing someone is enough to shake anyone to the core.  i almost never reach out, but when i do, it’s when i really need to.  and yesterday i was reaching out and coming up empty.  it just made me think how selfish some people can be, sometimes…

things are better today, but it still bothers me a bit that i don’t have very many people around me who i can truly unload to when i need to.  but that’s just me, i guess.  steadfastly, stubbornly, foolishly independent to a fault.

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medication

December 9, 2008

is it hard for anyone else to remember to take their methotrexate? i mean, i’ve been taking it for over a year now, and for some reason, just lately, i’ve been having to take it late more often. i think because it’s a weekly thing, i need to reset my brain to remember every week. and with the way my schedule’s been lately, i haven’t had a regular week since lord knows when. yikes! i need to not forget, because god knows i don’t want the pre-mtx pain to ever come back!!

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mario kart love song

December 8, 2008

Check out this video my friend sent me of a guy who made up a love song based on mario kart! it’s super cute…

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what keeps me going

December 2, 2008

sometimes i think all i need to keep me going is the hope, the possibility, of something.  something bigger and better than the every day grind; something bigger and better than anything i could ever even have dreamt up.  i’m feeling surprisingly optimistic this holiday season, which is rare for me.  usually the holidays are long, dragging, and miserable for me.  this year, though, things are different.  and i’m not 100% sure why, but you better believe i’m hanging on to the hope that it lasts!

i guess one of my “beefs” with the holidays is the expectation of gift giving/receiving.  i don’t think holidays should necessitate gift giving; i think gifts can be given any day of the year, just to show you were thinking about that person wherever it was that you were.  but this year, even the expectation of gift giving/receiving isn’t getting me down.  i actually found myself excited at the prospect of giving gifts to my colleagues at work, maybe because this year i actually make enough money to buy gifts and not have to starve to do so!  plus it’s so not expected in my current office, which is why i want to do it even more! true appreciation stems from an absence of expectation.

today my director walked into my office and handed me a gift.  she said “my cat gwen stole my credit card and bought this for you,” and then she darted out of my office.  she’s super cute; alllllways thinking of us (her staff) and doing nice things just because.  i’d like to think if i were ever a boss, i’d be like her 🙂  with work, i guess the possibility of actually working in a functional environment where i’m appreciated (my last job was just horrendous in terms of that…not from everyone, but certain people were the worst!) is satisfaction enough.  they always reassure me that i’m doing a great job and that they’re so happy to have me, which i actually like.  i need to know i matter, or else why stay there?  if a monkey could do my job, or they made me feel like anyone could pick up where i left off if i ever quit, then why stay?

with life in general, the possibility of things definitely keeps me going.  the possibility of meeting a great love in some random fashion.  the possibility of meeting up with good friends for an impromptu dinner when you least expect it.  the possibiliy of a steaming hot cup of coffee on a cold, blustery day.  the possibility of watching the sun set over the gorgeous ocean when i’m feeling frazzled and out-of-sorts.  if you don’t live for the little things like possibilities, then are you really living?

i’m also hoppeful for the possibility of health.  with mtx, i am able to function and function at quite a high and, dare i say, almost normal level.  from what i hear, etanercept/enbrel is even better!  again, possibility.

anyway, enough rambling for tonight! I hope everyone is enjoying the kickoff of the holiday season!

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World AIDS Day

November 26, 2008

December 1st is World AIDS Day.  Go to Light To Unite to light a virtual candle.  Bristol-Myers Squibb used to match a dollar amount for a certain number of candles listed.  I’m not sure if they still do that, but go there anyway and light a (virtual) candle.  Thanks!