Our Adventure Begins
We were out the door at 4am this morning, so early.
Little did we know, early mornings were going to be a common theme for us this trip.
My dad so graciously took us to the airport and he would feed and walk Trooper for us after he dropped us off.
Our friend Lexy is going to house/dog sit for us.
We're a little nervous to leave Trooper for so long,
but we know he'll have a lot of fun with Lexy.
The bills are prepaid. . . emergency contact info has been left, we've packed all the essentials (and probably more), passports are in hand. . . I think we're ready to go!
Portland to Denver
Denver to Houston
We were supposed to meet mom and Bethany in Houston and then travel on to Lima all together. Unfortunately, they missed their connection in Houston. We did everything in our power to try to hold the plane, but Continental Airlines just wasn't on our side.
Brian and I arrived in Lima at about 11:50 pm local time - waited about 45 minutes to snake our way through the line at customs. . . we waded through the insane masses of people who were at the airport at that early morning hour. . . and then we spied my brother in the crowd.
There he was, waiting for us. A tall white guy with red hair, yeah, he stood out just a little bit.
But boy, was he a sight for sore eyes!
We loaded our bags into the van, had an hour van ride to his house, he gave us a quick tour, more hugs were exchanged, then off to bed for us!!!
I can't believe we're really here in PERU!
Our first full day in Peru and we sleep in until 2:00 in the afternoon!
Needless to say, we were exhausted from our travels!
We ate lunch for breakfast, pollo a la brasa, from a little grill across the street from my brother's house.
This is a very typical and basic meal, which consists of a whole rotisserie chicken, the best large french fries you've ever had, green salad and INCA Cola.
It was delicious.
Brad thought the best way to start our adventures in Peru was to get in a little overall culture.
Our first adventure out into the city was here:
We were bummed Mom and Bethany didn't make it to Peru yet, they missed a good show!
The dances and the costumes were amazing!
Not to mention the music, it was hard to sit still!
But even after a few glasses of Sangria, the only way we could get Brian on the dance floor was a part of the snake line!
It was a very fun and entertaining time, and the best part of the night was when MOM AND BETHANY finally arrived!!
Today we all visited the National Museum.
We learned a little bit about Peruvian history, art and culture. . .
We dreamt about all the places we wanted to visit. . .
We even learned some about the dark side of Peru's history. . .
and after that, we tried a little bit of everything at this amazing restaurant!
And I mean EVERYTHING!
Beef, Chicken, Potatoes, Alpaca, Guinea Pig!
Here's what Bethany had to say about it all . . . we ordered a lot, so much that the waiter laughed at us. :) But I'm glad we did, it was all SO GOOD! Muy delicioso indeed! While we were eating, Brad texted one of his friends, telling her what all we were eating: alpaca (delicious), guinea pig (also delicious but I could only eat one bite because I couldn't get the movie "G-Force" out of my head), steak, trout, chicken. Her response? "You have a Peruvian zoo in your stomach!" Ha! There were also about ten different types of potato dishes, apparently there are about 5,000 different types of potatoes in the world and Peru has 3,000 of them!
They serve potatoes with everything, cooked differently every time too!
Tres Leche Ice cream!
We spent the rest of the day trying to walk it all off!
Today Brad attended a wedding with his friend Rocio.
They both looked very nice all dressed up.
While Brad and Rocio were off to the wedding,
Bethany and Mom and I got to relax around the house.
Today we were able to attend meeting (church) in Lima.
It was very special.
We might speak different languages, but we share the same spirit.
Poor Brian has an upset stomach, so we're laying low today, which is fine with us!
It's a beautiful day in Lima and we're spending it together in the sun by the pool and BBQing!
Someone maybe got a little TOO much sun! OUCH!
I'm calling this my South American tan.
A day trip to the ruins of Pachacamac
At a bus stop in the middle of nowhere -
somehow you'll find your way to some of the oldest ruins in Peru.
You drive through many of these shanty towns on your way to Pachacamac.
Welcome to Pachacamac!
At the top of the Temple of the Sun
We had to swing by the little market / tourist trap to check things out before we left Paracas.
We came across Mr. , a local artist who etches intricate designs into dried gourds and other mediums. We bought a cute little red guard with a beautiful humming bird design etched into it and Mr. explained to us how he came to learn this craft that has been a part of his family for many generations.
We asked Mr. if he wouldn't mind signing his piece of art for us.
He thought that was lovely, he was the cutest little man.
Wednesday 12/8 :: Lima - Paracas
You guessed it - another early bus ride.
But this was a niiiiice bus. A double decker, with reclining seats, two movies, a meal and four hours later, we're there! Hello Paracas!
Our Hostel, the Mar Azul (as seen from the mar azul).
After getting settled in the hostel, we hit the boardwalk for a bite to eat at Juan Pablos.
We ate our meal while the town moves around us, "Dogs search for scraps of food under the outdoor dining tables. Local musicians move from one restaurant to the next, playing their songs and holding out their hat."
A quick stop at the monument for San Martin, the saint of Paracas, then off to the Paracas National Reserve!
Our tour van.
How was the reserve you ask? Well, we kinda feel like we got hosed.
It was a desert, next to an ocean. It was nice but we had the feeling the locals were like, how do we make money off this large hunk of sand and dirt next to the ocean? I know - lets call it a National Reserve and charge tourists to drive around in the sand and dirt and look at the ocean! :)
But that's okay, we were in to it.
Mom at Cathedral Rock.
A large earthquake that hit Peru in 2007 destroyed the rock archways that gave this famous rock its name.
Thursday 12/9 :: Paracas - Ica - Huacahina
Today was a busy, but FUN day!
This morning, we started in Las Paracas, with a speedboat tour of the Ballestas islands.
I can sum up this tour for you in three words: Birds - Sea Lions, and LOTS of them.
On the way out to the islands, our boat stopped infront of this massive hill.
Etched into the hillside is what is know as the Paracas Candalabra.
There are three theories behind the existance of this amazing phenomonon:
1) the indigenous people of Paracas carved this design into the rocks which lay under the sand in such a way the shape never fills in but appears to sink into the earth;
2) wind dervishes come over the top of the dune in the same pattern every day and unintentionally shape the candalabra; and
3) the aliens did it.
I'm throwing a shocka for the alien theory.
Pelicans, terns, boobies, sea lions. . .
Yes, that huge black mass on the island are all BIRDS!!
The Humboldt penguin is the only species of penguin in Peru and lives in the desert coasts of Peru and Chile, he spends most of his life at sea, in the Peruvian Humboldt current.
One of the biggest exports and money makers of this area? GUANO! (Bird poop!)
The locals call these the "Million Dollar Birds."
At one point the birds had us surrounded!
After the windy boat tour, we packed up and left our hostel, loaded into the van, and hit the road for the little town of Ica.
We stopped at the coolest little winery, El Catador, to sample Pisco, the liquor of Peru!
Chamo was our HILARIOUS guide who showed us around the winery.
He prided himself in the amount of English he knew, specifically, the amount of common English phrases that various English speakers had taught him over the years.
Mind you, phrases like, "Let's get $!@-faced," and - "it will knock you on your butt," and other various, inappropriate sayings!
He had us rolling!
Brian was NOT a fan of Pisco!
After a tour of the winery, one too many samples and a lot of laughs, it was back in the van and off to Haucachina.
Haucachina - as you can see from the pictures, is absolutely stunning.
It is referred to as the "Oasis of South America" and you can see why.
It is surrounded on all sides by immense sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
These dunes stretch all the way to the ocean.
Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.
Well, we didn't see any mermaids, but this place really was magical.
We checked into our rooms and got settled in.
We had arrived at the Oasis just in time for lunch.
THE BEST lunch ever in fact. . .
in case you haven't seen a theme here, the food in Peru is pretty darn good.
After lunch, we had a few hours to rest and relax before heading out for our Dune Buggy and sandboarding excursion!
Sandboarding = lying on a snowboard type apparatus on your stomach and propelling yourself down the side of a HUGE sand dune = AMAZING!
Brad's attempt at trying to stand on the board! Disaster!
But not to worry - No brother's were harmed in the taking of this photo.
We watched the sun set from the dunes and then headed back down to the Oasis for dinner by the lagoon.
I've decided today was one of those days I never want to forget.
Friday 12/10 :: Huacahina - Lima
A lazy morning - a small breakfast - a dip in the pool. . .
Our time at the Oasis was truly revitalizing!
As my sister said, "If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend finding yourself an oasis."
And now, back to Lima for the night!
Saturday 12/11 :: Lima - San Damian
Another early morning!
There are relaxing vacations and there are adventure vacations, guess which one this is?
Our gang, plus Rocio, Alex and Saul all packed into a van full of goodies.
Today, we headed up into the mountain, HIGH up in to the mountains to host a "chocolatada"
- We would serve hot chocolate and hand out gifts to the children of San Damian.
A four hour ride in a 2-wheel drive van on a road that makes rollercoasters look like child's play! That is what I call adventure!
Switchback after switchback on a bolder-riddled dirt road, lined with crosses and shrines remembering the ones that had gone before.
A bit unnerving to say the least.
Even in these high mountain villages, color prevails.
In the plaza in the center of the San Damian, the building were painted with brightly coloredmurals which depicted various scenes of daily life.
We were served warm tea, hot chocolate and they fed us VERY well!
The ONE restaurant in the village had TWO tables which we packed into for each meal.
We ate some of the best fried trout I've ever tasted, and yes that's the head still attached. And NO I didn't eat the head.
Of course, there were plenty of potatoes to fill you up as well.
The electricity is fairly inconsistent in the village, so we spent a dark night huddled together under MANY layers of alpaca blankets with our headlamps ablaze.
Like I said - adventure!
Sunday 12/12 : San Damiam - Lima
Today is my mom Lisa's 50th birthday.
Feliz Cumpleanos Mama!
She spent her birthday high atop the mountains of Peru in the little puebla of San Damian.
It is exactly how she wanted to spend the day.
This is the expression you have when 200 little Peruvian children sing you happy birthday:
The chocolatada was a hit to say the least.
It's amazing, but children of every race, every nation every age and clime -
they are all the same.
You should have seen all the smiles as they opened their little presents and endulged in the goodies they found in thier bags.
After we finished handing out the last presents and the hot chocolate was all drunk up. . .we packed up our van, said our goodbyes and headed back down the mountain.
(The trip down was WORSE than the ride up!)
This morning we got to sleep in, it was glorious!
The trek up into the mountains had wiped us all out.
At about noon, we ventured into the city for lunch.
We ate a wonder buffet at Rustica and then spent the afternoon wandering through the district of Barranca, checking out some of the local street fares.
Tuesday 12/14 : Lima
Our last full day in Peru!
It is so hard to believe that these two weeks are already coming to an end!
We spent the day shopping and spending what money we had left.
We headed down to El Centro to pick up some last minute gifts and souveniers.
We met up with Rocio and Alex in the evening, had one last amazing meal - Tacos mixtas and Fresas con leche (pureed strawberries with milk).
We gave "Thank You" gifts (things from Oregon) to Alex and Rocio and said good night. . .
Wednesday 12/15 :: Lima - Home
Actually, we didn't so much go to bed last night, rather we laid down and took a two hour nap.
Then we were up at 1:30 am and packed up to head to the airport.
Goodbyes were said, tears were shed, hugs were exchanged
(along with what money we had left over).
Brian and I and Bethany and my mom boarded the plane
Lima to Panama City
Panama City to Houston
Chaos in Houston - flights were missed, bags were lost. . .
Bethany and Mom actually made their flight this time (but their bags did not).
They flew Houston to LA and LA to Seattle and home.
Brian and I missed our connection in Houston (no thanks to Continental Airlines) - originally we were supposed to fly Houston to Denver, where we had plans to meet up briefly with Jon and Chelsea Smith, but because of the missed connection in Houston, we didn't end up going through Denver and they booked us on a later flight out of Houston straight to Portland.
Brian and I landed in Portland at about 8:30 pm - got our bags, Lexy picked us up from the airport and we headed home!
Honestly - to put into words what this trip meant to us all is extremely difficult, and the pictures really only help a little. . .
It truly was the trip of a lifetime where the only way to understand it was to experience it.
Our eyes were opened up to so many new and different things!
Our time in Peru was an AMAZING, DELICIOUS ADVENTURE and we can't wait to go back and see more of the beautiful country that is Peru!
You can see more pictures from our adventure in Peru via Mari's facebook account or here on my sister's beautiful blog.