Hello everyone! I know it has been awhile since I wrote my last blog! I’ve been so busy with trips that I haven’t really had any time to write one. But I hope you have a lot of free time right now because just warning you…this one is going to be a long one! My number of days left in Peru is down to 24 or 25 which is so crazy! Nothing too exciting has been going on in Lima. Just continuing with classes! Today we started our visits to a high school in Lima. We got to talk to a lot of different students so that was fun!
Going to the Amazon Jungle/River was quite the experience for me. Everyone knows how I am with bugs :) We arrived in Iquitos in the morning after a flight at 6:40 am. Our tour guide, Ashuko, came and got us from the airport and we drove through Iquitos to the port. We got on a boat and went for a 2 hour boat ride on the Amazon River to our lodge. We stopped a couple of times on our way and looked at different places where we saw lots of caiman. Our lodge was literally in the jungle so I knew that was going to be interesting. When we arrived it was time for lunch. I knew that jungle food was different from food in Lima so I was up for trying new food. I tried catfish. Ew. Ha it was like super soft meat so that creeped me out. The remainder of the trip I ate rice and bread. Food I knew was safe! After lunch we went to our room. When we got there we noticed the lights didn’t work. Little did we know, the lodge has electricity for only 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night. That was interesting to say the least ha. After lunch, we went on a hike in the jungle. So.Many.Bugs. We saw lots of spiders, our guide somehow charmed a tarantula out of a whole. Eww. We looked at different plants and animals so that was fun! Little did I know it was the beginning of the rainy season in the Amazon and the only shoes I brought were my good tennis shoes. Not smart. They got soo muddy, but luckily they cleaned up fairly well! After our afternoon hike we returned to the hotel and laid in a room that they had 10 hammocks. It was so relaxing! After a couple hours, we ate dinner and then we went on a night hike. Not to be negative or anything…but it was dark, scary, muddy, and there were bugs on me at ALL times. Me and Danielle struggled a little bit with the night hike haha. We saw so many spiders and their webs. Our guide also somehow spotted a snake in a tree and got it down. That was terrifying! After about an hour of walking around in the dark in the jungle, we returned to the lodge and took showers in the dark. Struggle ha. But then Luke and Sam came over to the room where me, Whit, Lanisa, and Danielle were staying and we talked for a couple hours. Luke came into our room and said they had found 3 cockroaches in their room. I thought to myself…no, not okay. That was the reason for my lack of sleep that night. The only lighting we had in the room was flashlights and cell phones that we strategically placed around the room. After we talked, we changed and went to bed!
The next day we woke up pretty early and it was raining…again. We ate breakfast and then were informed that we could only leave when the rain stopped. We went to the hammocks and all took a nap for about 2 hours and then we all went to the boat and went down the river to Monkey Island. It was so much fun! When we were there we saw a sloth, many monkeys, parrots, macaws, a toucan, and an anaconda. I got to hold and take pictures with most of them! It was so much fun! I loved the sloth because he was so chill and I also loved the green parrot because he would say “hola” and also whistle if you whistled at him. It was such a great time. It was at this point that I realized that one of the guys that went on our tours with Ashuko was legit worried that I wasn’t going to make it. He was super nice, but he helped me over all the mud puddles and we started talking and he spoke almost no English. He told me that he lives in Iquitos and he also told me his name but it was so hard to remember. He was super nice. After Monkey Island, we went back to the lodge and had lunch. On our boat ride back to the lodge I discovered I had about 20 bug bites…and I still have all of them right now. They itch SO bad. After lunch, we had a little break and we got back in the boat and looked for pink dolphins in the river. We saw a few but they are hard to get pictures of! We also stopped at a spot where people could swim in the Amazon if they wanted. I didn’t get in, but everyone looked like they were having fun! After that we went back to the lodge and ate dinner. We were supposed to go on a night hike again, but it rained basically all day so Ashuko said it was too muddy. I must admit, I wasn’t too disappointed that we couldn’t go. After dinner we showered and Luke and Sam came over to our room again and we played the card game Hearts. Little did we know it would cause an addiction for all of us! At around 12 we went to bed for the night! I made sure I slept in a sweatshirt, leggings, and socks and also under the sheets so I didn’t get bit so many times again! Pretty sure I still got bit though.
The last day, we woke up and had breakfast. After breakfast we went piranha fishing! Unfortunately none of us caught any piranhas, but I did catch a catfish! I was the only one that caught anything, so I guess my fishing trips with Grandpa Laird paid off :) After fishing, we went and visited an Indian village. It was quite the experience! They were living off of almost nothing and the didn’t speak Spanish, but a different native language. It was an eye opener for sure. After the village visit we went back to the lodge and packed up our things and ate lunch. I began feeling sick so I didn’t really eat lunch. It just seems like I’ve been sick so much down here! I don’t understand why. But then we got on a boat and took a 3 hour ride upstream to Iquitos on the Amazon. When we got to Iquitos, we immediately went to the airport. We have had so many troubles with Peruvian Airlines. Our plane was supposed to leave at 7:40. It had already been delayed. And then we were on the plane for an hour and they finally told us there was something wrong with the window in the pit so we had to get off the plane. We then learned that our flight was cancelled. They told us that they were going to fly an empty plane from Lima to Iquitos to get all of us, but then 15 minutes later they decided not to do that so we were stuck in Iquitos. Luckily the airport gave us free lodging and taxi fare. We found out our flight would be on Monday at 2:00. We heard that Iquitos is a pretty dangerous place, and we got to our hotel at like 1:00 am. Of course one of the taxi drivers managed to steal Luke’s book bag outside of the hotel. Luckily, he didn’t have anything really valuable in it. We went somewhere to grab a bite to eat and then went back to the hotel. All we wanted was a hot shower, but of course the hotel didn’t have hot water so we took cold showers. It was a rough night to say the least! We made it home the next day safe though so that’s a blessing!
Now for the last trip of our time in Peru that we took last weekend. MACHU PICCHU. Machu Picchu was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. It was so incredible.
We arrived in Cusco on Thursday morning. We had a bus pick us up at UPC at 3 am and our flight was supposed to be at 6 am. We were supposed to have 4 or 5 hours at the hotel to acclimate and get used to the elevation. But of course in Peru things can’t be that easy…we had a delay and only ended up having about 2 hours at the hotel. But after a nap we woke up and ate lunch at the hotel. After lunch, we started a tour. Our tour guides name was Marco and he was so cool! We loved him. He took us around Cusco to a couple of cathedrals, Sacsayhuaman, and other places. He was so knowledgeable about everything so it was really interesting. We ended our tours at about 6 and we returned to the hotel. Some of us went to eat at a place called Jack’s Cafe. It was a place that had American food so some of us got soup, a ceaser salad, french toast, BLT, and other foods. It was absolutely delicious though. After dinner we walked around for awhile…unwillingly. We got lost and it seemed like when we asked people for directions they told us the wrong way so we went in big circles. Eventually we made it home and all of us took showers and went straight to bed!
On Friday morning we went to Machu Picchu! We had to leave really early in the morning. Me and Whitney woke up at 5:30 am and were exhausted! We ate a quick breakfast and then we went to the bus station. Normally you can just take a train ride all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu, but it is the rainy season now and there are many landslides so there is an area where the train track is shut down. We rode a bus for about an hour and a half and then we got off and rode a train for an hour and a half. We arrived in Machu Picchu at around 11:30. We then rode a van for 30 minutes up the mountain to the actual ruins. We then took a tour until 3:00. This tour guide was also so knowledgable it was crazy! He talked about the Spanish conquered the Incan empire and everything. Such a sad story. It was so amazing being able to see Machu Picchu in real life. I suggest you all see it at some point of your life :) But after our tour we went and ate at a buffet in Aguas Calientes. It was very good food! We were supposed to have an hour of free time to shop in the markets and everything but of course we were behind schedule again so we didn’t get to. We got on the bus at around 4 and went back to Cusco the same way we came and arrived home at around 9:00. On the train ride Luke decided he wanted to start a game of pitch. It was Sam and I on a team and Luke and Allie on a team. Of course we won by like 45 points. Thanks dad for making me such a great pitch player :) After we got home everyone was exhausted again. Me and Whit watched an episode of American Idol, showered, and went to bed. It was a wonderful day!
The third day we woke up fairly early again and went on some more tours. We began with a tour of a rescued animal shelter. It was so cool. We saw condors, a puma, alpacas, llamas, parrots, macaws, and other animals. We went shopping in the markets for a while. I have realized that I definitely have a soft spot for all the children here in Peru. Its so hard for me not to buy their bracelets, necklaces, etc. We talked to two boys and one of them asked where we were from and we told them the United States and then they were like oo Obama is your president. We were so impressed that they knew that! They were so cute though. Whitney bought something from one of them and 30 seconds later dropped it on the ground and it shattered and the boy wanted to give her another one for free but Whitney gave him some money for it and he said that she didn’t need to pay, but she did anyway. They were just the cutest little boys and they touched my heart. After that we went and looked at the Sacred Valley, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chincheros. So yes, another VERY long day! We walked up the 200 stair ruins and o wow was that fun. Not. When you are adjusting to high altitudes, the last thing you want to do is hike up 200 steep stairs ha. We nearly died walking up them, but we made it! We went back to the lodge at around 7 pm and then we relaxed for awhile. Lanisa, Danielle, Whitney, and I decided it would be fun to straighten each other’s hair so we did that and then went to dinner and Sam and Luke also came. After dinner we went to a pub and had a couple of drinks and then went home at about 12 or 1. We were all super tired so we pretty much just went to bed when we got home.
The next morning I woke up at about 8:45 and me and Whit got all packed up and headed out to do some shopping at the markets. My wallet didn’t like it but it was a success! I got pretty much all my shopping for souvenirs done! I will be saving the rest of my money now that we are done with trips and souvenirs so I’m not completely broke when I go home :) After shopping we met at the hotel and took a bus to the airport. Of course when we got to the airport we learned that our flight was an hour late. Smh. So our flight left at 4:10 from Cusco. We finally made it home on Sunday night and I got to skype the parents so that was nice!
Now that my last trip is over and my time here is almost to an end, I can’t say enough how blessed I am to have been able to go on this study abroad trip. Peru has opened my eyes to so many different things. I’ve learned that I don’t need a $250 handbag or $200 headphones. The people here outside of Lima work so hard and live off of so little. I will never forget any of these experiences here and the people I have met.
Well now that I’m sure I have put you all to sleep with my LONG blog…I will be ending it now. It only took me about 2 hours to write so I hope you all enjoy it!