Peru Trip 2018, Part 2

Hey all,

Last time I was on here I posted a segment from the traveling to Peru portion of our trip. Now I would like to tell you a little bit about what we saw and experienced while there for eight days. (Apologies for the segmented posts, but we all know that this time of year can be hectic!)

The morning of September 23, 2018, we landed in Cuzco, Peru. Off the cuff, life was the same, but entirely different. One woman on our flight was transporting a 5 gallon bucket of strawberries from Lima to Cuzco, and Sunshine made her laugh when he expressed excitement over the sight of fresh fruit.

Leaving the airport was our first challenge, we did not book any kind of package, which likely would have included all the convenience of being picked up at the airport, and so on, but we preferred the adventure of hoofing it! One of our Air BnBs had offered to pick us up straight from the airport, but they were going to be our second Air BnB of the trip so it made no sense at the time.

Upon walking out of the airport, one is instantly targeted as a sale to be had. Needless to say, we had no issues getting a taxi from the airport to downtown Cuzco, but we were obliged to listen to a synopsis on the 20 or so tours that this company offered in addition to taxi services.

Our taxi driver, who called himself Miel, was very talkative and it was almost entirely in Spanish. He asked if I spoke Spanish and I told him, “Yes a little bit,” to which he replied that we would understand each other. He then asked if we were from France, to which I replied, “No, los Estados Unidos,” and then noted how he seemed less enthused for it.

However, we were soon on our way to Carmen Bajo, where our first Air BnB of the trip was located, and he began to talk. Sunshine sat next to him up front and Miel would look back at me when describing the city around us as we passed through. I was able to ask him several questions in Spanish, and he told me I was very good with the language and simply needed more practice.

Miel was the first to teach us about Quechua, the language of the Incas prior to the invasion of the Spanish in approximately 1532(?). He told us that there were five other peoples in the area before his own ancestors, the Incas, and that the Incan history was not too terribly old (all supposedly after Christ).

Miel drove us through the modern portion of Cuzco, from the airport, and we noted the roads became much more narrow as we got closer to downtown. He told us that this was because the roads constructed in this area were meant for alpacas, llamas, and humans, not cars. This brief cab tour gave me more confidence to speak Spanish in the city throughout the week.

When he dropped us off on Carmen Bajo, we were met with a small blue door against a fresh white stucco wall. Looking up and down the street, we quickly understood that cars had the right of way and that pedestrians better hop up on the curb and hug the wall to keep from being hit. The street was narrow, and there were several small shops right across from the door where we were dropped off.

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Blue doors on white stucco, a common theme throughout downtown Cuzco.

Hoping for the best, not knowing what to expect, Sunshine reached to the top of the door and rang the bell. Some minutes later, a little girl in a cute blue dress pulled the door open slightly and peered out. Sunshine asked her if this was an Air BnB and she nodded, then I asked in Spanish if we may enter. She nodded again and opened the door wider, she could not have been more than nine years old.

Behind her, we could see through a short, dimly lit foyer to an open atrium beyond. As we walked forward we were greeted by a white cat with a few spots, who seemed to run the concierge. The little girl turned to say she would get her brother, who then asked us some brief questions (he could not be older than ten or eleven). He soon pointed across the balcony from where he stood with his little sister to say that our apartment was just there and to go on in. I wasn’t sure what to think after being greeted by a cat and two children, but Sunshine seemed to think it was all okay.

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Sunshine made friends with all the animals we met on our trip; this was Tamí, she appeared to run our first Air BnB.

The atrium was a beautiful oasis, and from the street outside one would never realize it existed. The colours consisted of lots of blues, browns, and some red. The room itself was lovely, and I thought to myself that it would be the perfect apartment. Perhaps over time it may be too small for two, but for a vacation home/destination it was wonderful and greatly exceeded my expectations.

While I was in the bathroom, Sunshine met our host, a former Irishman called Gary. He suggested that we rest today, before our trek with Alpaca Expeditions in the morning. Before doing that, however, we took to the streets to change some of our money, and explore for a couple of hours. When it felt right we found some food at a covered market, where various vendors had their shops set up. There were piles of fruits in the center, and along the walls there were Peruvian locals cooking meals for other locals and those of us tourists who happened by.

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“Trucha frita con arroz.” It was very good!

After having some delicious food, and of course the coca tea to prevent altitude sickness, we went back to the Air BnB and passed out for several hours. We woke up in the late afternoon, with plenty of time to touch base with our Machu Picchu tour service, Alpaca Expeditions, which was a small adventure in its own. Once we found the location of the office, we had to climb up a set of dark staircase and wait in another atrium, until the trekkers in front of us finished their debriefing. The short discussion that followed put us at ease to wake up at 4AM the next morning and be picked up by a stranger in a green “Alpaca Expeditions” jacket.

Once all of our business with the tour was settled, we went about getting to know downtown Cuzco in the dark of evening, which seemed to be when most folks were out anyway. We quickly realized a few things, all the shops have very similar wares, even though they all claim to be originals. The students selling art from their homemade leather portfolios in the street doubled as drug dealers (weed or cocaine, typically), if the locals are in traditional garb it’s probably their occupation (to pose for photos), and though the main industry now appears to be tourism (due to Machu Picchu) Peru is still an unusually spiritual destination.

(To be cont.)

Peru Trip 2018, Part 1

We did it! My boyfriend and I had been planning a trip to Cuzco, Peru, basically since we met… Sunshine, my boyfriend, and I saved for many months to payoff the trip to Cuzco that we had originally charged to his Southwest card. By the time we were ready to leave, the card was back at zero and we were feeling pretty cool about it.

At the time, we were both working 60+ hours a week between two jobs and it was time for a desperately needed vacation. About a week before we left, Sunshine quit his full time job and started to do the things that he loved to put his time and effort into. My brother needed help on the vineyard, he went out there; his friend’s podcast began to take off, he ran cameras and helped out there; other friends’ various bands needed a drummer to play for a record or a show, and he showed up. By the time we were approaching take-off day, he was happier than he had been in months and was excited to get out of bed each day.

Meanwhile, I was slipping further into the depression I had been falling into since I began to realize how much of my time was spent driving to a job that did not fulfill me in any way (apart, of course, from monetarily). My commute was 40 minutes to an hour, each way, and when I got to work I would sit in a booth for 8-10 hours each day. It was draining, especially on the mind, but I found that physically I was becoming weaker in different ways.

The day before we were originally meant to take off for Dallas, Texas, from Kansas City, Missouri, I was exhausted. Sunshine worked an overnight shift that night at our mutual part-time job, and I tried to get our luggage prepped. We had a bit of confusion, followed by frustration, over how many bags we would take, and I think it came from us both being overworked and just beat.

The next day, his uncle was going to take us to the airport and our airline messaged us as we were leaving the driveway to say that our flight had been cancelled. We got on the phone immediately and in a few hours had worked it out so that our flight would be the very next day, at nearly the same time.

After that was all figured out, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant that night and went to bed as soon as we could. The next morning we went for a run together, then got coffees, before going home to get ready again and make sure all our bags were situated and our passports were in hand. This time our flight was not cancelled and we took off!

We left on Saturday, September 22, 2018, which happened to be on my mum’s birthday, so I made sure to call her before we left the country. The last time I had been on a plane, I think I was 23-years-old, maybe 24, and had experienced an anxiety attack (my first one) in flight. It was terrible, and leading up to our trip I was scared that it could happen again.

However, the whole series of flights on the way there went smoothly. When we boarded in Dallas to fly to Lima we experienced our first taste of Peruvian hospitality. We played musical chairs with a man from San Francisco, originally from Lima, and a couple of others so that he and his wife could sit together and I could sit with Sunshine.

This made the 7-hour flight much more bearable for everyone in that group of seats, as we could each lean on our loved ones in attempt to get some rest. When we landed in Lima, we were surprised to find that customs was easy throughout the entire process. It was essentially, “What are you here for? How long will you be here? Enjoy your time in Peru.”

We both thought it would be a hassle somewhere along the way, and when it wasn’t in Kansas City, then wasn’t in Dallas, we thought for sure it would get tricky in Lima. However, to our surprise we seemed to have stepped back in time to some degree, and we loved it. The people were instantly more charming and much less tied to their devices.

(To be continued…)

Peruvian streets are small in Cuzco!

Busyness

Day-to-day, we as humans struggle and strive to keep busy, to make money, to progress and move forward. It’s no wonder that we’re all so anxious, as there’s little time to just breathe and embrace life.

Personally, I have been struggling with the mundane, with the daily sameness of a job that makes money, but is deeply lacking in creativity and energy. It’s strange that such a slow-moving gig can be so draining on the mind and even the body.

Recently, I have taken up oil painting at home in whatever “free” time that I can spare, which while working 60+ hours every week is little to none. However, the few moments I’ve stolen with said paints has been truly liberating.

I won’t claim that I’m any kind of painter, at least not yet, but studying the colors and learning from YouTube videos how to create shapes from these colors fascinates me to no end.

All of this to say that creativity, especially in adulthood is overwhelmingly underrated. It is a kind of personal therapy that everyone should discover and take advantage of, at each opportunity.

Life is too short and precious to merely be whittled away in what my boyfriend calls “wage slavery.” Seek happiness, not just money, in the day-to-day and it all becomes less of a endless grind.

Moving In

My boyfriend and I are planning to get married in time and have decided to move in together, so begins yet another adventure in our journey. The past month has been tough on us both, and due to external forces I was moody, weird, and cried a lot for what seemed to me absolutely no reason. It pained me that my love had to witness and endure this time in my life as he inevitably thought that my tear-fests and abrupt mood changes were because of him. This could not be further from the truth though, as he was the only thing keeping me sane during this time.

Excited as I am to begin to feel like myself again and to be taking this step together, I do trust that we are making the right decision here. It is still strange and new to have another person around all the time, but I think in this case I will learn to love it. We are both so similar in our lifestyles and even in our stubbornness that I understand we will, no doubt, butt heads from time to time. That’s life though, even two people as similar as we can be will eventually find something they don’t agree upon or understand in the other.

It seems that when this happens in this day and age, a lot of times people will claim it’s just not working, move on, and do the same thing again with the next person they choose to be with in life. This is not my way, however, nor his. We both have an intensity about us in our commitment to this friendship, relationship, and our future together. There is just something about him that’s not like the rest and I refuse to let him go, so long as he continues to love and wish to be with me, and I believe he feels the same way.

There is absolutely no such thing as perfect, so I don’t endeavor to make myself or anyone else believe that he is; there is, however, perfect for me, and that he most certainly is. I find it hard to believe that we haven’t known each other all these years as I simultaneously feel like we have grown up together and been friends for much longer than we have. It’s very nice to come home to a good friend and ally every night.

Peru Trip – Finalized

We have finally finished booking everything for our trip to Peru this Autumn. Woohoo! There is a sense of relief and excitement in knowing what awaits us there. Among other things that we hope to find there, we have scheduled a trek with a local tour company for Machu and Huayna Picchu. Both of which are typically booked out many months in advance, now we know!

Due to the popularity of the Inca Trail treks, we settled on selecting a kind of mini tour. Two days and one night, with hotel and food included. This works out perfectly for us as we hope to just Airbnb and hop around to local spots found by word-of-mouth for most of the trip anyway. This is the first time that I’ve planned a trip around any kind of tour booking, so that was a different experience for me already, as I tend to fly myself out to a place then figure it out when I get there from talking to locals.

Our trip had to be a bit more planned than per usual, because Machu Pichu is so popular and we are budgeting really heavily in order to reach all of our goals. The entire trip is on my boyfriend’s Southwest card and we have a plan to pay it back by the time we leave. Another one of our goals is to open a CD in June to begin saving at a higher interest rate for our idea of moving to Europe within the next few years.

As we already have that money set aside, or earmarked, we are beginning to save to pay off the card immediately. After we return from this trip to Peru, we will begin saving for our trip to Costa Rica to become TEFL Certified in early 2019. Tell you what, saving becomes easier once you have goals that you’re wholeheartedly invested in. Some may call us crazy, or simply think we’re dreamers with our heads in the clouds, but I believe in us and he does as well. That is everything we need to set our goals and to crush them in time.

Encounters

Having just come out of a relationship, she seemed on edge by the friendlier young men she worked alongside each day. It was as though, now that her relationship was over, these men seemed to sense her vulnerability and suddenly showed interest in going out with her. That’s why she always insisted on group outings whenever they asked.

When the guys asked her to play board games at the local board game pub, or showed interest in her passion for Swing or Salsa dancing, she would make certain that all in the room could hear and understand that it would be a group outing, an open invitation, and not a date.

That’s probably why she hated him at first, the new guy at work. Although, it could also have been that he reminded her of an ex who had ripped her apart verbally whenever he was frustrated and they were alone. Frankly though, that impression was probably a poor first one, or simply a misguided prejudgement, as the only thing those two had in common was long hair and band life. Nothing truly substantial, but he put her on edge much more often than the other men who had suddenly shown interest.

He was unbelievably nice though and everyone said so, specifically to her… Which deepened her suspicions of the man himself. Why was he always looking her way? Why did he grin at her in that way? Why was he continuously trying to talk with her at work? What did he want from her, and why? Whether it was an attempt on his part to get her to view him in a positive light or sheer happenstance, one day completely at random his good friend and bandmate spoke softly to her of his admiration for this man.

The things his friend said seemed so much like something she would like to hear, that she was convinced he had asked his friends to talk to her about him. To put a good word in for him, so to speak. Was she being paranoid or did he really want something from her…and if so, what could it possibly be? He didn’t know her at all and she rarely responded with more than a few words to his questions, whether they were work related or personal.

 

At the moment, she was struggling with this and other questions as well. Recently, she had broken up with the man that she wanted to marry. It was after a night out with his friends, when feelings once again crept in that she was kept at arm’s length, as an outsider looking in, and that she was just another body in a crowd at one of his parties.

Though after she did it, she lay in bed for days, depressed and wondering whether she had made a wrong choice under the influence of alcohol and suffering from the mood swings of her most recent attempt at a birth control. The mood swings always came about four months into taking the pill daily, and this was the fourth attempt on a new birth control, with no success as far as maintaining her emotions went. So after the split she was terrified that she had made the most important decision of her life not being fully in control of her emotional state.

 

After discovering that her daughter was suffering, her mother picked her up and took her out of the city to one if her brother’s farm houses. He and his wife were out of town, and her mother was taking care of their house and animals. Her mother was right that it was good to get away, out of the city and to be away from everyone, including her now-ex.

Upon arrival back into the city, she developed a new-found friendship with one of her ex’s friends who was struggling with his own breakup. He had been extremely attached to his former girlfriend, and was on the verge of hurting himself when his friend-family caught on and pulled him out of his own negativity and solitude.

They saved him and he began a new journey of self-love and self-help. The two were able to discuss the pain of the loss of a longed-for future without judgement from others who wouldn’t understand their experiences. This was another huge stepping-stone for her in the healing process. She wasn’t one given to flights of fancy and romance, so when she had felt love for her ex and dreamed of their future together she assumed that meant it was right.

However, after many discussions with her ex’s friend she came to realize that her ex, due to a prior marriage, was the one in this instance who had things to work on before he could open himself up fully to another. His friend helped her realize that if he could not love her for exactly the person she was in that moment and want to journey with her in her own growth as a person, then it just wasn’t right.

If she had continued to try to be the person he needed her to be in order to fit into his life, then the person she would become would never truly be her. If he chose to love her then, it would never work out in the end. Eventually, she would have had to break free of that fraud of a person that she would have become. In recognizing this, she was slowly able to come to terms with the loss of the future and the love that she had wanted.

 

The young men at work and at dance seemed to either recognize her vulnerability or her newfound confidence, she couldn’t be sure. Those at work asked after her dance and implied that they would be interested in joining. She told them that all were welcome, from beginner to expert, and that dances happened at a bar downtown on Friday and Saturday nights.

Two of them decided to come down one night and eventually a third man, older and recently divorced joined them as well with his best girl friend. They were all genuinely interested in learning to Swing dance, though one admittedly preferred the Salsa night, because of this she continued to invite them back from week-to-week.

She kept the groups fairly large, even including the new young man from work who made her feel watched, regarded. He seemed out of his element, to some degree, but he insisted on coming back as often as band practice would allow. The first week he showed up, her best friend found him by her description and dragged her across the room to greet him. Passing within ten feet of her ex, whose attention was clearly drawn, which embarrassed her to some degree.

Later that night she asked the man from work if he would like to dance, and he was eager to in spite of his inexperience. During their dance, her ex who had been watching her throughout the evening interrupted to hug her goodbye. As she felt his behaviour strange, her hug was obviously rigid in return. To his credit, though the young man could not possibly have missed the awkward encounter, he kindly acted normal and carried on with the dance as though there were no interruption at all. Near the end of the night, she felt the need to leave rather abruptly and he offered to take her friend home. The next time they saw each other at work he remarked on her sudden exit and implied that he had been impressed rather than offended.

Growing Up

Just friends. That’s what Miley and Trevor were to each other, nothing more, but nothing less either. One Autumn night they comforted each other in a much more intimate manner than that of friends and that was that, they did not forget each other, nor did they ignore each other, but they just kept on.

There was too much to contend with at the moment. No more room for a deeper kind of intimacy, that of a romantic relationship. He was taking care of his family’s affairs and seeing that his grandmother, eighty-six years old and suffering from dementia, was cared for properly. She was busy trying to go somewhere and be something, and not trying to get tied up in anything too serious.

They weren’t just friends, they were the best of friends, even if just for six of the longest months known to man, in their view. He confided in her and loved her deeply, and she opened up to him about her truths and experiences. The two of them could have made it, if they had truly wanted to and had tried, but there were always things to do and time was constantly slipping away from them.

In two short weeks, she was scheduled to board a plane and head to Spain for as long as she cared to work for her current company abroad. He could leave, and may have if she had asked him, but why would she do that? It was obvious that he felt a kind of familial debt owed to his grandmother for having brought him up when his mother had walked out on him and his father at three years of age.

There was no way she would even suggest the idea to him, when he clearly had something he already needed to do. So she did not tell him what was on her heart and mind, and he let her go in spite of his own hopes for their future. His dreams were pure and good, but he could not bring himself to put her first when his grandmother suffered so much and needed him to stay.

Eleven days before her departure, she noticed a change in her physical state and realized the truth of her situation. At twenty-six years old, full of promise and hope for the future she was embarking upon, she was pregnant, and all alone in life. Miley considered telling Trevor what she knew, but she could not do that to him at this time. Trevor had something that he had to do, an unspoken promise that had to be fulfilled and upheld. Perhaps one day, when the time was right, she would contact him and let him know all that had transpired, but for now she was moving alone to a foreign country with a little person growing inside of her.