Sunday, May 31, 2009



Martin! The porter/chef who cooked us gourmet meals along the trail!

Kelsey´s hilarious makeshift blister remedy.

Truck on fire at the bus terminal in Chimbote, Peru...ghetto

Allie, Mikhail, Pierce and Peter At the beach in Mancora, stop number 1 on the whirlwind journey

Less Money, Mo´ Problems in Peru

So WE DID IT!!! WE SURVIVED THE INCA TRAIL and have some neat Apus Peru (our trekking company) tshirts, some massive blisters, and atrophying calf muscles to show for it :) Those of you that thought our two out of shape butts would never make it were almost right, but still..WRONG! To be honest, yeah it was a challenge, but totally not impossible considering we had 9 tiny peruvian men carring all of our crap (over 100lbs per porter) plus they would sprint past us to all of our camp sites where they´d set up a fancy dinner tent and cook us gourmet meals, ballin.
Highlights Include:
-The name of our guide: Big Willy
-Big Willy´s magic potions which involved rubbing something that smelled like teatree oil all over kelsey´s altitude sick head. greasy. and then clapping alot and making her smell his hands.
- Pooping in little holes in the ground.
- Unbelievably beautiful, clear starry nights
- The porters getting a little too close for comfort when thanking us for the generous tips (accidental boob squeeze?)
- Porters baked cake for mikhail´s do you even do that in the woods
- Making friends (or enemies) through song: being recognized by the other 800 people hiking along the trail as the girls who sing (everything from motown medleys to showtunes) to keep themselves from jumping off the cliffs.
-abSURD blisters: a few days before hiking the inca trail we hiked a mountain in Huaraz national park to practice and acclimate. Unfortunately all it did for Kels was give her MASSIVE MOON CRATER BLISTERS on the backs of her ankles due to the new hiking boots
- Kelséy´s makeshift attempt to fix the blister problem by wearing one venus (4$ ecuadorian style chuck taylor) and one hiking shoe

The Ancient City was all we expected it to be and more, though our sheer exhaustion after the four day hike led to a midday machu picchu nap and yoga session. We also saw many bird spirits.

Since then we saw the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, man made islands constructed of reeds where entire communities have lived for hundreds of years, originally started as a way of evading Incan and Spanish conquerers...ingenious!
We´ve spent the last few days in the lovely little colonial city of Arequipa, Peru, catching our breath and trying to plan the next leg of our trip: some charms of the city--delicious alpaca steaks and lovely christmas themed tablecloths at our cozy hostal. Also, they sell candy (mojjjey???) covered skewered strawberries here, like apples at a church bazaar but better!

Last night we decided to nurture our culture craving souls with a seemingly highly regarded and well advertised argentinian ballet that turned out to be a live, amateur, soft core porn. GREAT. It would have been less awkward if i hadn´t graciously offered to buy an extra ticket for a lonesome 31 yr old civil rights lawyer who had just arrived in the city and was also staying in our hostal......

So now, our friends have gone, and the two of us broke college students are trying to figure out how the heck to get all the way to buenos aires without having to live on teh streets when we get there... suggestions would be GREATLY APPRECIATED.

off to lima to hitchhike back down south,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

a sleepy time in cusco

hello all!

so TOMORROW at 6am we start the inca trail! craziness...but other than that we´ve been trying to relax here in cusco. here´s a brief update of our trip

1. we decided to fly into cusco and what a good decision..turns out people were protesting so intensely (the govt wants to privatize water but the farmers disagree) that roads were blocked. the guys we´re travelling with met girls who had to walk 35km into cusco because their bus was overtaken by protesters who kicked everyone off and then stole their toothpaste in order to write on the side of the bus. interesting.

2. at the beginning of the flight, when they were giving annoucements, nikki was doing something funny that caused me to laugh. the laugh came out as a sort of snort-cough which sounded kind of gross. the two people in front of me turned around and glared and i had no idea why. turns out, i cough-laughed right after the swine flu announcement. i felt like a jerk.

3. we´ve been feeling pretty under-the-weather since being here and actually spent the entire day sleeping yesterday. luckilly, we´re in a really nice hostel that is clean and is a charity that helps orphans in peru. doubly good. let´s just hope that nik´s crazy stomach pains go away. i called my parents for advice and it seems like it is NOT apendicitis due to the quiz my mom gave me for it. we actually slept about 34 hours alltogether.

4. today we went shopping and it was quite nice. i bought my nana the cutest hat that i hope she will wear. if she doesn´t want it, i will gladly take it.

5. with ease we´ve been finding veggie restaurants for allie, hooray!

we love you, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we embark on the next leg of our trip...mountain climbing with no pants!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Not too easy to keep this thang updated without internet. This is the first time i´ve had internet since the start of our adventure (kels had a sec for a s hort post a few nights ago). I´ll try to give you a short play by play of what weve done so far:

2 days in mancora, sweet beach in northern peru, where we mostly just layed around getting sunburned. Pierce was very excited when he found us a 5$ hostal on the beach, what a GREAT DEAL!!! What he didnt realize was that kelsey´s bed was infested by ants, there would be a cockroach in our toilet or, my personal favorite, that ocean water was pumped directly into our shower--how refreshing!! Actually my hair turned into one giant dreadlock from that. it was sort of gross. we did find a nice vegitarian restaurant where i hastily orded the hummus which, obviously, could never live up to moms but was a nice latino-style attempt. From there we took a bus to Chimbote, and from Chimbote a connecting bus to Huaraz. This portion of travel was the most treaturous and the biggest mishap of the trip yet. Here they have busses they refer to as ¨bus camas¨(cama in spanish means bed). They advertise luxurious leather seats that recline completely and charge a pretty penny. Knowing the trip would be at least 14 hours (it turned out to be 24) we coughed up the dough only to find out we´d been SCAMMED. Not a BUS CAMA AT ALL. BUS TRASH CAN IS MORE LIKE IT. lowest ceilings ever, the seats not only didnt recline into beds, they pretty much leaned forward. Also, no windows, it was suffocating. We arrived inChimbote in the am around 6 to see a giant 18 wheeler on fire in the bus terminal. Next we bussed to national park Huaraz which took about 10 hours and a bus filled with crates of chickens. I can confidently say that These were the most death defying switchback mountain roads i´ve seen yet in south america. Barreling down A one lane unpaved dirt road teetering over an ominous gorge was enough to make me want to poop my pants, but i did see some amazing views and have some cool pics ill try to load when i get a chance. Along the way we stopped at a shack stuck to the side of a mountain for ´lunch´. Allie, our vegetarian friend, asked for a platter without meat. No problem, the indigenous lady promised us, and promptly gave her a heaping helping of cua cua, a stew made of cow innards and potatos. YUM.

After that we finally got to huaraz where we st ayed in a beautiful hostal with nice hot baths and comfy beds. After a good nights sleep we did a crazy hike up to mt. churup to see lake churup at an altitude of around 13 to 14,000 ft. The atltiude was tough but we took breaks and ate snacks until after a few hours we came to a treacherous mountain scaling portion that required 10000% arm strength that, to be frank, i just aint got. Us three girls decided to wait while the boys hap hazardly, sans ropes or safety nets, attempted the climb when, of course, it started to hail and thunder. Obviously us three decided to make a break for it and turned around. Even though we never saw the lake we did see the snowy peak from the hike and it was really beauitful. Overall it was about 7 or 8 hours of hiking. I´ve never been so exhausted or full of achies but it was a good day. Since then we got a real bus cama and came to Lima where we are now. Something awkward happened though in the bus station where, in order to board, they forced us to give our fignerprints. Some warning thing went off in my head and i imagined my parents telling me some lawyer stuff about why it was a bad idea and i freaked out at the woman and told her i wouldn´t do it. she grabbed my hand jabbed it in the inkpad and with only a moment left to think, i smeared my print messily across the paper, grabbed my ticket and sprinted away. Thinking back i´m lucky i didnt end up in a Peruvian jail, i realize i didnt follow my moms advice: KALP (KEEP A LOW PROFILE). Dont worry mom, i wont let you down in the future! That´s it for now, tomorrow we fly to Cuzco where we´ll be for two days before we finally start the four day hike to Machu Picchu on friday!! Til then,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

24 hour travel

hey people,

just wanted to keep you updated real quick on our one month adventure... today after HONEST TO GOD 24 HOURS OF STRAIGHT TRAVEL we landed in huaraz, peru. we´re staying at a really nice hostel and got upgraded for FREE to this bangarang room. also we had delicious indian food for dinner tonight.

tomorrow i´ll try to post photos of the ridiculously awesome views we had on the last 8hour or rather, 12 hour portion of our trip.

tomorrow we´re off to see a lake, a 3 hour hike in order to practice for the big mama of all hikes, MP!! tomorrow evening a bus to lima.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the monster, PARTIN

he does things like this on his own without prompting. he knows how to capture hearts.

i think my parents could relate to this photo

sometimes i give him a taste of his own medicine

in my house lives an adorable little two year old named martin. sometimes we call him isaac. and SOMETIMES we call him partin, because he can't pronounce m-sounds and instead says m's as p's. its hilarious and he's cute. he is slightly disastrous. sometimes we make him dance for water, Martin--dance and we'll give you water! hahaha. and he does and its cute.

and once when i came out of my room in the morning he was eating butter out of the container with a fork. his mom was horrified when i told her.

dogs suck it.

so all you people (mom and dad) who would laugh when i complained about the dogs and made jokes about there being a cat outside on the street!! just take a look at our friend daissy's dog bite :-((( she almost made it out alive, the dog attacked one day before her departure! we miss you daissy and we hope you don't have rabies.

secondly, AMAZING NEWS... we heard that there is now a mandate in lumbisi and all dogs with owners have to put collars on them because soon enough the dogs found withOUT collars will be KILLED! i shouldn't be so glad about that but i am. nikki's mom told her that they put meat with poison in the streets and the dogs eat it and die and then there are a bunch of dead dogs all over the street. which is gross. but really sort of nice at the same time..CHISTE!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Parade in Riobamba during spring break!

Fat baby!!

service trip to bring toothbrushes to the kids in Huasalata

And then it was over…

So Thursday is our final day in Ecuador: fastest 4 months of my life. I know we’ve been MIA for the last like 5 weeks, sorry to disappoint, we’ve been caught up in a chaotic whirlwind attempt to fill every second of every day with worthwhile last minute sites and experiences while simultaneously trying our darndest not to fail all of our final projects and exams. Speaking of school, here’s something that will probably come of no surprise to those of you who read/recall my post about our fieldtrip with the Plantas Medicinales class (medicinal plants) and the leathery-faced, chain smoking, lunatic teacher:

Two weeks ago this teacher planned a mandatory field trip to the Columbian border. For those of you that don’t know what that means, let me spell it out for you: F-A-R-C. That’s right, FARC territory. For those of you still in the dark, las fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia are famous worldwide for their knack at political kidnappings, terrorist actions, involvement in drug trafficking, etc. You may recall the front-page photos released of withered former Colombian Presidential Candidate Ingrid Betancour after her 7-year stay with the FARC. Rather unpleasant to say the least. What’s more, there are upwards of 20 known and well-documented FARC bases on the Ecuadorian side of the border, and in the last 5 years the kidnappings and deaths of a decent number of Americans have been recorded in that area. That being said, it seems a given that a bunch of American abroad students should at least attempt to avoid meandering through the area. Something about the way our professor joked about bringing our passports just incase we come across the FARC gave me a tip off we probably shouldn’t be going there, and after checking with the International Student Office and the US Embassy, of course, I was right. Not only were we prohibited from attending the field trip (not that I wanted to get stuck with this lunatic again anyway) but the US embassy assured us that if we took our chances and got kidnapped by the FARC they’d simply say ‘I toldja’ so and leave us to die. I know what you’re thinking, any teacher in their right mind, completely aware that they have international students in their class, would NEVER plan a trip to the middle of ****ing FARC territory. Right?......WRONG, BITCH THIS IS ECUADOR. I think you can see where this is going…

1. Lunatic teacher gets pissed at us because he has already fronted the $$$$ for the bus to take us to the middle of the jungle, and us 4 international students wouldn’t be going so he’s out 80$.
2. When we ask if we can do a make up assignment, he berates us and our program coordinator, essentially telling us we’re morons and don’t deserve to live and that we are automatically going to be docked 10% of our final grade for not going.
3. Dean of Undergraduate students spends nearly an hour on the phone attempting to explain why it is unacceptable to force American students into FARC territory and persuading Prof. Imadickwad to give us a fair make-up assignment. Dean does not neglect to mention that even Ecuadorian students should not be going to FARC territory and that this is a major liability for the university and if anything happens he’s in deep you know what.
4. Prof proceeds to give us the silent treatment in class except to explain the completely outrageous assignment he claims is comparable to what the other students will be doing.
5. We are sick of the b/s and, with excessive difficulty and unnecessary fines, proceed to drop the class completely.
6. (Meanwhile, the professor cancelled the bus b/c not enough students were going to pay for it, and he has the students drive to the jungle in their own cars)
7. Day of the trip; MASSIVE CAR ACCIDENT. One of the student cars got in a terrible accident and flipped over multiple times. Now: Professor has a neck brace and so does one other student, the third student has a severe back injury and is still in the hospital hooked up to some machine that is lifting her head to decompress her spinal chord. GREAT IDEA PROFESSOR MORON.

SO this is what happens when you take a Medicinal Plants class with a total mental case.

Aside from that occurrence we’ve been preparing for the next leg of our trip: Adventures of Nikki And Kelsey—the mysteries of Machu Picchu, why Evo Morales charges Americans $100 to enter Bolivia, and How Argentina got its Groove Back.

The upcoming entries may be short, but we’ll try to keep you up to date on the crazy happenings. As it were, this Thursday we are leaving on a massive whirlwind, intracontinental trip through South America. First stop: the Inca Trail!! (A 4 day hike from Cuzco, Peru to Machu Picchu, the worlds largest and oldest and sickest Inca ruin.)