Weekend 29: Paella, dislocated elbow and BBQ

Listening to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – The Death of You and Me

Written on Wednesday

I am sitting in a cafe right now – Caffe Del Doge in Palo Alto. It’s since been named Cafe Venetia, and I passed it twice until I realized they had changed the sign outside. Tricky tricky. I have already written several emails and now I’m just writing a blog entry. I spent $4.07 on a tiny little drink (the same darn drink I get every time I ever come here in fact) so I’m going to get my damn money’s worth in internet time. I came here with the intention of working but then I realized that I hadn’t gotten the file to work in so …

This last weekend already feels like eons ago. This week seems to have passed particularly slowly. I spent last Friday (7/22) … omg I have no idea. Maybe I’m just trying to block it from my mind. I seriously can’t remember and I don’t think there is anything worth remembering so I will stop trying.

Saturday I went to the mall and bought myself new ray bans. I bought the matte version of the ones I previously owned. They are the same price. But I stupidly decided to be friendly and chatted up the store clerk helping me and he started making me try on polarized lenses and now that I have seen the difference, I feel stupid having paid $130 for a pair of sunglasses that only give UV protection, which means basically nothing. It just makes it that much more apparent that I paid for a brand and nothing else. I am considering going back and returning them for polarized lenses … but the polarized ones don’t come in matte frames plus the lenses are lighter. So basically it’s like, do I want something purely for the looks, or do I want something actually beneficial for my eyes but in a style I do not like? Writing that, I think the obvious answer is to just return them and not buy Ray Bans at all.

After that I went to Planet Granite SF. For the first time ever I gave my number and contact info out to someone I really hoped would contact me back. But as of yet, no response. I think on Sunday I was like “DEAR WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE OF THE UNIVERSE. I sincerely apologize for all the times I ever flaked out or blew off someone I had given my number to. Now, please make sure that this person does not do the same to me and I will be kind to everyone forever.” On Sunday night I think I accepted the fact that I will die alone, hopefully in my cozy Seattle – Greenwood home.

Well after rock climbing I drove to Soo Jin’s place – just in time to not help out at all for the paella that everyone had helped contribute to cook. I sincerely believe that the dinner is best if I do not lay my inexperienced and incapable hands upon the dishes. Paella was delicious, wine was good and made me blazing red, conversation was awesome as always, company was wonderful! Kristen, Laura, Kaitlyn and AJ were present for the Pretty Princess Party. Monthly dinner parties, please!

Sunday was about just as uneventful as my Friday. I drove back to the mall to get a price adjustment on this purse I had bought. Saved $12 woot woot! Super cute purse too… that I have not yet taken out of the bag. I shall soon!

Shit I need to pee. This is the deciding factor as to when I will finally leave this cafe. That and traffic will have died down by now.

Written on Thursday

This workweek felt rather slow but only because I was working so slowly on walkthroughs. My event of the week was watching Rex dislocate his elbow from landing poorly while rock climbing. I think I was in complete shock and just went “OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT THE FUCK” or something to that liking when he turned around and I saw his bone sticking out very abnormally. Luckily Shelton (who I always want to call Clement for some reason) was there and very calm which made me more calm. I then got a firsthand experience as to why America sucks so much for being such a litigious country. It took at least five hours for someone to finally reset his elbow, even though they could have just done it right then and there in the gym. The second I told someone at PG’s front desk that my friend had dislocated his elbow, the first thing they grabbed was a clipboard of papers for us to sign our statements. EMT came but wouldn’t do anything besides give him morphine until a hospital would take xrays for him. The hospital took forever to do xrays and even after that they took forever to get the doctors to come by. The worst was when, just seconds before the doctors were about to pop it back, a nurse came by to say that a life or death case was two minutes away so they had to leave and we continued to wait. Shelton and I left around 1:30 when Rex’s mom came in (with a bag of snacks – fruit, ziplock bag of beef jerky, and a pastry – to feed the both of us, HAHA totally something my mom would have done as well) and still his arm had not been reset. I wish there were a form to sign that was like “I will not sue for malpractice!” that will zip you up to the front of the line and doctors will just fix you up real quick instead of going through a crapton of inefficiencies.

Written on Friday night

My mind and body feel incredibly tired and exhausted. I did nearly nothing today workwise, but I am so ready to go to bed. I’ve already taken an hour nap just a little while ago and as a result, am rather delirious. Woke up earlier than usual today to go into the office and have a meeting with one of the partners to talk about my pay raise. Carpooled with Julie and Julia and told the intern to not come in until 9:45. I had the first meeting at 8:30am and Julie had the last at 9:15am. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my raise would be considered “good” or not as I have no idea what typical raise %s are. I think I gave the partner a stone faced look and I just straightup said that I wasn’t sure what to think but it seemed fine to me. At the end of today, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a pretty good raise, based on what other people said they used to get paid when they became A2s or even seniors . I’m glad I have coworker friends that I’m close enough to where we can just straight up say our salaries and what % increases we have. I wish it weren’t such taboo to talk about salaries in America, because I think that taboo was just created by HR so their employees wouldn’t mutiny.

Well we left at 9:30 to go back to our client site with a pitstop at Starbucks. We made it back in one piece (but only very nearly) and I very slowly did an online training. I think I finished 40 minutes out of a 6 hour training. Breakfast was bagels that our intern picked up, snack was a salad I’d packed for myself, and dessert were the AMAZING cake balls the intern had made for us. omg … they were sooooo good. Devastated that I didn’t eat more. After being at the client from 10am – 1:30, we left to go to our company bbq. The invite said it was for a partner who is leaving to work in another office, but I think it was also a FYE party and an attempt to bring the audit practice together in a non-work-related environment. I suppose in our feedback to the company several people have said that they want the company to do more bonding events. But whenever we receive an email, all I ever hear from my teams is “are you going to this? I don’t really want to go…” “I think this is mandatory…” and “well we can go for a little bit and then leave early.”

The BBQ was at a partner’s house in Redwood City. A lot of us, including me, had assumed that since it started at 2, the BBQ would be a lunch and drinking time would follow. So my carpool agreed to leave at 4pm, HAHA (Amy: When are we leaving? 4? Damn, I better drink fast then) BUT CURSES! Someone must have vocalized that everyone leaves right after food is served, so they never brought out food until around 4:30. I think as it got closer to 4:30, the main conversation topic was “WHERE IS THE FOOD, I THOUGHT THIS BBQ WAS A LUNCH.”

It was fun and I feel extremely pleased to know that I can go to a company event and look around and recognize/have worked with about 85% of the people. Finally, I have my own group of people to hang out with, instead of just one person my level that I desperately cling to! Julie had said she needed to leave at latest 5:30 to pick up her mom at 6:00 and we were standing around for so long that we looked at the clock and were like “CRAP it’s 5:32!” And we hadn’t even eaten Nancy’s cupcakes yet so we were like “well … we have to eat the cupcakes before leaving!” No way in hell am I ever leaving a place without eating something Nancy has made – she is the most fabulous cook ever. I made my attempt to go in an get a cupcake but they were in the kitchen and not set out yet so I tried to pass off my entrance into the kitchen as “can I help with anything?” and then promptly left. Thankfully Amy is much better at this than I am and was able to go in, make a little conversation, and then emerge from the kitchen with a tray of cupcakes and a smug smile on her face. HAHA

We ended up leaving at 6:16 and I was like OMG JULIE I’m so sorry, your mom is going to never let you hang out with us again. I am under the impression that Julie has never let down her family until she went out with me  – the person who wouldn’t leave a party until eating a damn cupcake. Well, that cupcake was good! And everyone wanted one. HAHA

So Julie ended up getting back about an hour later than she had wanted to … oops. Then Julia and Amy and I went to “celebrate our raises” with some Pinkberry. I think we ended up being so cold while sitting outside that we nixed any plans to watch movies and went home.

Then it was 8pm and I had no idea what to do on a Friday night, but in any case, I had spent the last 7 hours socializing and for most of the time, I was standing up, so I knew I didn’t have energy for anything anyway. I don’t know what I did – I know I checked celebrity gossip, watched an episode of Coupling, fell asleep, woke up, stumbled to the bathroom for a shower, and now here I am. I really like today – it’s like one of the more obvious turning points where I realize that I rather enjoy my job. I really like a lot of my coworkers, I have been promoted effective August 1, and … pay raise/bonus! So this is what my life will be like until death… little milestones to look forward to

Weekend 28: Return to normal life

Listening to: NOTHING. Because my ipod has died. It’s so quiet…

omg I almost failed to make a weekend entry post for the previous weekend. Peru was weekends 25-27 so here we are at #28. I have only a very faint memory of last weekend, which was actually pretty fun…

While in the airport waiting to be taken back to America, I wrote in my journal a list of things I wanted to do once I returned. Well, I have done nothing about any of those things I had written and here we are two work weeks after my return. If anything, I think I am more unhappy about life than before I left. It’s not something I think about when I work because I actually enjoy my job now. There is just a gnawing feeling of what the fuck, do something with your life that comes about whenever I have a moment alone like during bathroom breaks or when I get into my car and realize I have nowhere else to go after work besides my house.

Well, that is my sentiment as of now but last weekend I was much happier. HAHA I spent the first week working from the office which was awesome. I had initially been scheduled to work in North Bay where I could have lived in a hotel for a week. At first I was bummed that I got switched off the client, but after the fact, I am incredibly grateful because I probably wouldn’t enjoy work so much if I had returned to do an audit in a week.

OMG. I NEARLY forgot that this happened last weekend. On Thursday night, I watched HARRY POTTER. The last Harry Potter! So on Monday I thought to myself, hmm, I wonder if the AMC near me is doing the double feature (part 1 at 9pm Thursday night, part 2 at 12am Friday morning). While at work (again, YAY for working within the office) I checked the AMC theater showtimes and thus started a fit of panic when I realized that a LOT of theaters had already sold out of Harry Potter tickets. I fully intended to watch the last movie properly – at midnight in a theater full of other Potter fans. So after several frantic emails to Laura, I was able to book two tickets for a double feature in Mountain View.

So our movie started at 9pm and I got to the theater at 7pm. We actually ended up being pretty near the beginning of the line, but there were definitely people who had been there for a while. We realized most of the younger fans were the ones who had dressed up and they were all in the midnight showing. For some reason, a lot older (and seemingly more normal) people had opted for the double feature. The lines for both showings were about the same length, except obviously our movie started three hours before the other. They let us into the theater around 8:30pm and it was kind of an odd experience because there were no trailer leading up to part 1.

I kind of wish there were some kind of nighttime camera in theaters to capture all the people crying from behind their Harry Potter shaped 3-D glasses. I almost wanted to laugh during the Snape scene when you could hear various SNIFFS from different parts of the theater. I didn’t get very emotional during the second movie but I think maybe if I rewatched it I would. I didn’t love the second part but I feel like I enjoyed the experience of watching it in a theater full of fans more than the movie itself. I think the second part could have been longer because when we left the theater around 2:15 I felt like it was far too early to be leaving.

Anyway … I ended up sleeping at 3:30am that night. Thank god Friday I had signed up for this intern event where we were volunteering at a tree nursery. Apparently all the employees who had signed up for the event had cancelled, so it was just me, the recruiter, and the whole intern class. I really enjoyed it. And not just because I wasn’t sitting in front of a computer. Shoveling mulch was oddly relaxing. I enjoyed talking to the interns, but even more, I loved talking to the people who normally work at the nursery. They are all around my age and are essentially doing Americorps stuff for the year and had gotten placed in the nursery. It is so refreshing to talk to someone outside of auditing. I kind of want to volunteer at the nursery on the weekends just to be able to talk to them/non-auditors again.

After that we returned to the office and I had to do some work but finished it fairly early. Then I hung around the office using the internet to catch up on celebrity gossip until I thought it was a good time to leave for SF. I stupidly thought there wouldn’t be too much traffic from SJ to SF on a Friday at 6:30. The drive ended up taking me two hours. What the fuck. I made it to my dinner only like 15 minutes late though and amazingly just in time to be seated.

So I had made plans to eat dinner with my old coworker who just recently left the company, and her fiance. I have found a new eating buddy! We went to Bstarbar which is sort of Asian fusion. We got a delicious lychee sangria and so many other things I can’t even begin to remember. The waiter said to us “I can tell you guys are foodies” which makes me a little embarrassed because that just sounds pretentious. Oh well. Dinner was delicious, it felt nice to have plans in the city on a Friday night as opposed to sitting around watching tv per usual, and I like the idea of staying in contact with my old coworkers. I realized several days later that I had spent $40 for dinner without even thinking about it, but if that is the price of having a life, I’m more than happy.

Since I was in SF, I had made plans to drive over to Jon’s place in Berkeley that night. So I drove to the gym and squeezed in 10 minutes of rock climbing. HAHA Then drove to Berkeley … I love driving down SF streets at night. However, my GPS gives me the oddest directions to get to the Bay Bridge. In fact, as I think about it now, they make no sense to me, as I’m pretty sure I go in a giant circle around SF. Whatever. Got to Jon’s and gave him a slideshow of Peru pictures via my blog and then knocked out.

The thing I had been most looking forward to was eating Crossroads breakfast with Jon (LOOOVVEEE the eggs and unlimited oranges/grapefruit) … but we ended up sleeping past breakfast so I decided we should go to Bakesale Betty’s. Actually, I have wanted to eat Bakesale Betty’s for the longest time, like months now, but I always forget and I always think it’s open at odd hours so I never make the attempt to drive down Telegraph. Deliciousness though … mmm. Damn, now I want to go to Berkeley again.

So I drove to Bakesale Betty’s and when we get out of the car, Jon goes “were you always missing your hubcap?” and I go “WHAT?! NO! WTF WHERE IS IT?!” To be honest, I have no idea if it was really there or not when I drove the car back up from socal. I never walk on that side of the car so … but anyway, we continued on and ate lunch and walked around the area before heading back. I said, JON KEEP YOUR EYES OUT FOR MY HUBCAP and he said “ok, what are the chances that your hubcap is even going to be here” and just seconds after he said that, we passed this completely crushed hubcap lying in the middle of the street. I then spent the next few seconds bemoaning “OMG JON THAT WAS MY HUBCAP MY HUBCAP IS DESTROYED WAHHHHH” and then after a little bit more down Telegraph he was like “is THAT your hubcap?!” pointing to something lying on a diner’s driveway we passed. I turned around and we parked in the driveway and got out and stared at it. Lo and behold, the hubcap was a Toyota hubcap. I highly doubted it was mine because honestly, what were the chances? but decided to take it anyway, while this couple pretended not to be watching us from inside the diner .

So now there is a random, could be mine, could be someone else’s, hubcap sitting in my trunk. I never bothered to figure how to reattach it. Maybe one day.

What else. I left Berkeley in the middle of the day and then drove back to SJ to meet up with Ray and Andria and their friends at Yardhouse for Ray’s bday celebration. YAYYYYY ANDRIA!!! ❤ I like how two of my friends have SOs in the Bay. It helps ensure that I see them more frequently than otherwise. Well then we made plans to meet up again on Sunday for brunch and I’m pretty sure I just went home and knocked out.

Sunday: Los Gatos cafe. Damn. Now that I’m thinking about it, I want a cinnamon roll. It’s diabetically delicious. I have no idea what I did the rest of the Sunday after we parted ways.

Then this week I was back at my YE client – the team I love!!! I had assumed that it was my job to train the intern, mainly because when I got into the audit room on Monday, they had me sit next to her. I realize now that this was only because the senior was really sick so everyone was just staying a certain distance away. Well, I unknowingly started training her and it’s good I did because now my manager likes me more AND she gave me some sort of “spot bonus” today which is a piece of paper that compliments me and apparently I can turn it in for a gift card. So that’s exciting.

Now I’m going to read Harry Potter. It is hard to read HP after watching the movies because then I just speedread through the parts that weren’t in the movie. I got a ton of books at the library today. Oh. We magically got out of work today at 3pm! It was amazing. But I had absolutely no idea what to do with that extra time. I ended up driving to … the library. This is one of those things that makes me think “my life is sad.” Well, I got a lot of books but I have to read HP first! I also want to simultaneously be marathoning Buffy, Skins, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Felicity, Alias, and Coupling. But one thing at a time…

Day 13: Miraflores (excerpts from my journal)

Listening to: Tribes – Sappho

Caroline kindly gave me one of her little journals during the trek. I ended up keeping it in my purse for the rest of the trip. After Cusco I flew to Lima on my own (amazed I didn’t get lost in Peru somehow) and stayed in Miraflores on my own for the night. Miraflores is like a nice, safe neighborhood within Peru. It is SUPER safe, like cops everywhere in an Irvine way, not a downtown LA way, and someone told me that there are tons of cameras as well. I’m not going to edit any of the excerpts in any way, and I usually wrote them when I was sitting alone in a restaurant and they are probably the most pure form of stream of consciousness writing I will ever have in this blog. Which is a little terrifying to reveal just how my mind works. Actually, if you have spent any time with me, you will probably realize that most of what I verbalize is just unfiltered stream of consciousness, so it is probably nothing new to you. In any case, here it goes…

My night-time stroll around Miraflores

In  a taxi right now freaking the fuck out b/c I’m certain I will miss my flight to Lima and then be stuck in Peru where I will have to sell scarves and hats for a living. Don’t know why I always wait until last minute and panic that I will miss my flight. To be fair, I have missed 2 flights in my life so my paranoia is not unfounded.

It is 12:10 and I just checked in my bag. My flight boarding time was 1:20. I am told that the flight has been delayed to about 2pm. I could have spent maybe an hour and a half sitting in Cusco. Instead I am in this tiny airport, where there are no American travelers I can chat up, w/o a functioning ipod, & only my thoughts to entertain me. This is terrible.

I walked around the airport, then outside. This airport is even smaller than Burbank. As far as I can tell, there is no security line to board, which means I could have brought my gun and a big bottle of water. I suppose Peru does not care if I bring either onto a plane, whereas America would. I can pay to use a computer here. 3 soles for 1/2 an hour, which I am contemplating doing just to charge my ipod. That is like $1 per 30 minutes. Not sure of the situation is that dire just yet.

Actually there was a security line. Oddly you go through it after you pass the first main boarding gate, which then leads to the security lines and then the individual boarding gates. It is a very odd system that seems to suggest that Peru does not anticipate security lines to take very long.

I asked the lady in the airport’s mail service how much it would cost to mail a postcard to the US. She said 5.50 whereas the other lady I’d bought stamps from said 2. So if you don’t get postcards (Frances C, Eric, Kim, Laura and Jon) my bad. Or rather, that lady’s fault. All I can do is sit here and think about how my face is peeling from being burnt in Machu Picchu. I have not only lost my Ray Bans on this vacation, but possibly gotten skin cancer as well.

It’s weird how in America, most people don’t travel much and spend their vacations just relaxing at home, or at most, go on short vacations. Yet when you actually get up and travel, the people you meet are not only fairly hot, but often take extended, incredible adventures.

TACA lied. They told me to get here 3 hrs before my flight. I probably could have gone 30 min. before my flight. Sitting in an airport is no fun when you have no electronics to entertain yourself with. The crucial time for me to have an ipod is today & it has NO batter life AT ALL.

It is fucking freezing in here!

then I finally boarded the plane at 3:15, much later than my scheduled departure of 1:45

Ok. My stomach is so hungry now. This day and tomorrow was completely wasted on travel! How stupid. So fucking hungry right now. I hope I get peanuts or something

On the flight. We have finally taken off. I have no idea what time it is. I got an aisle seat which sucks b/c the guy next to me isn’t even looking! I’d have my nose pressed up against the window if I had his seat. All I see is brown and some mts w/ snow capped peaks. Now I will spend the next hour thinking about how hungry I am.

god I haven’t even reached Miraflores yet. I wrote a lot while sitting around an airport HAHA. The following was written in Chef’s Cafe where I had dinner after walking from my hostel along the ocean cliffs to Larcomar, this huge shopping center that is built into the cliffs.

Miraflores at night: cliffside parks and high rise apartment buildings

Fucking sensory overload right now. omfg. Well first I haven’t eaten much since about 10am, when we ate our last meal together @ Jack’s Cafe. Since then, I’ve only had a small hot dog pastry on the plane and it is now 8:45pm. Plane ride was ok. Watched Glee & The Good Wife. Have a new show to watch now. Miraflores is amazing. Taxi ride amazing. Had a great convo with the driver and her partner/wife. Crazy interesting convo. I was not nearly intelligent enough for it. Then got to the hostel and had another amazing convo w/ Robert, hostel owner. So helpful, very easy to talk to. Hostel is perfect. Neighborhood feels safe. People walking around everywhere. Parks lining the cliffs. Crazy beautiful.

My little single room

This place is so couple-oriented. Clearly sitting alone and my lemonade came w/ 2 straws. This cafe seems really American. Been walking alone since who knows when maybe an hour or two & no desire to turn on my ipod.

Parks everywhere along the cliffs. Cliffs, so gorgeous. Feels isolated yet safe. So many people exercising I love it. So many old white people in this cafe, I must have stumbled upon something in a tour book. Larcomar, amazing. Very much like being in Grand Canyon then being thrust into Southcoast Plaza. Larcomar has the most amazing gym entrance at the bottom level. At a glance, tons of people looking like they are in a Nike commercial, all wearing such well-fit & fashionable clothing.

Larcomar shopping center

omg sandwich came. fucking delicious & I don’t think b/c I haven’t eaten in 10 hrs. Need to concentrate on eating. Will continue later.

Chichurron (fried pork) sandwich with sweet potatoes and onion = delicious

I keep thinking I have gone into a very touristy place in Miraflores, but then I’ll realize, no… it’s just that in Miraflores there are a lot of fair skinned Peruvians. Either that or Miraflores is where all the tourists who can speak perfect Spanish go. Very weird.

Parque del Amor

After the cafe I continued my walk from Larcomar along Larco street to Parque Kennedy, then down Jose Prado street. The area around Parque Kennedy is pretty busy around nighttime with a street San Ramon that is just bars and restaurants, and other restaurants in the area as well. I ended up in a Pinkberry.

Some sort of art exhibit in Parque Kennedy of several photos relating to Peru

Somehow I spent way more than anticipated on Peruvian Pinkberry only to realize that the menu is exactly the same as in America. Only the mango fruit toppings are way better. Peruvian Pinkberry even has the same greeting “Is this your first time @ Pinkberry?” I also found the Pervuian equivalent of … well … any super famous old hole in the wall restaurant. Like that hot dog place, Pink’s in LA. Only this is sandwiches.

Pretty busy place for 11 at night
Inside eating area

My hostel for the night was basically at the end of Jose Prado right before reaching the cliffs again, so I had gone in a triangle. I went to bed at like midnight and then wanted to wake up super early to rewalk the same path, only at sunrise. I woke up at 6:30 and realized that it is so overcast in Miraflores, it wouldn’t matter if I had woken up at sunrise or not. I woke up so early the hostel guy hadn’t even bought the breakfast bread yet. Breakfast was good and I got to eat it while using the computer so it was like a little taste of home. Then I set off for the same walk I’d made the night before, and I had made plans to meet up with someone I had met at the Flying Dog Hostel in Arequipa for lunch at 10:30 at La Lucha Sangucheria

Seaside parks in the morning
The cliffs and you can see the road below on which most taxis drive to get to Miraflores or Barranco

Walking along the cliffs was just utterly surreal. I felt like I had landed in Peruvian Santa Barbara or some other CA beach city. It appears people w/ money all like the same thing, regardless of culture. And that’s: form fitting exercise wear, parks along the beach, and exercising along the beach. There was even a mom running w/ a stroller! All at 7am in the morning – just so surreal. Ended up back in Larcomar but obviously at 8am everything was closed. Oh well. I wasn’t planning on shopping. Continued down Larco yet again, then bought a chocolate churro for 3.5o soles. Delicious. Now I’m back in Parque Kennedy. Tons of cats & shoe shiners & people ACTUALLY getting their shoes shined! So odd.

God I really want a chocolate churro right now
where can I get these?! Actually, there is a restaurant in LA.

9:43. 45 more minutes. I wonder if we will even recognize each other. I’m not sure I could pick her out of a crowd of Peruvian women. Most of our convo, she was in bed with a blanket up to her neck. Hope she remembers that I am Asian.

We  did end up eating together and the sandwich was AMAZING. I miss it right now. Then I walked back to the hostel and the hostel guy called a cab for me to take me to the airport.

Sitting in the plane now. I closed my eyes & somehow slept through takeoff. Didn’t even think the plane was flying when I opened my eyes. Instead of seeing brown as expected, I was surprised to see the whites of clouds.

My last meal was crazy good. Beef w/ cheese and avocado sandwich, a drink of mango and oranges. Before Miraflores I had had crazy cravings for American food. My last two meals were ridiculously good sandwiches. Now I just wish I could be back in Lima, eating to my heart’s content. I think Peru does sandwiches very well.

My ridiculously amazing "El Preferido" sandwich
Just looking at the menu makes me salivate

The best  thing about taking vacation in one good 2 week block is that I come back and see a paycheck deposited for the 2 weeks I was gone.

And that was it. I have some entries from during the trek too that I will type up. But it’s 2:40 am right now and will probably be 3am after I choose pictures to post. HAHA I fell asleep at 8pm and woke up at 11:30. What is wrong with me?! Henry says it’s because once it gets dark my body assumes it’s time to sleep, which was the case in Peru. Well. I hope my body does not mistake the darkness of the movie theater during tomorrow’s HARRY POTTER SHOWING as an acceptable time to fall asleep.

It’s actually 3:16. So late. Work in five hours. Maybe I’ll go in late.

Other pictures

Stumbled upon Peru's Trader Joe's, called Vivando
Parque Kennedy in the day
Miraflores at night. The big glowy thing is a cross in Barranco
Miraflores by day

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End of my childhood

Listening to: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – O Children (aka the song played during the Harry/Hermione dance scene of HP7p1!)

I meant to write this entry on Monday but … work got in the way. After coming back from vacation, I can really see how work is just RUINING my personal life. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when I’m living my work life but I realize now how hard it is to do anything when I put work as my first priority. I hold off on making plans with people because I never know how late I will be staying for work. I should just learn to freaking make plans and then if I am asked to stay late, I will say “no I’m sorry I’ve already made plans.”

HA. As if that would ever happen.

Anyway. The very last Harry Potter film is premiering Friday, which is the end of Harry Potter! I do not count Pottermore as a continuation of the Harry Potter phenomenon, mainly because I am not too clear what Pottermore is even after watching the trailer for it. I bought my tickets for the showing of HP7 part 1 at 9pm on Thursday, followed by part 2 at midnight. EEKKKKK!!! I knew I absolutely had to watch the midnight showing. Even though I am pretty sure my old feeble body cannot handle staying up past midnight … I have to pretend I am back in high school, eagerly sitting out in the cold with friends waiting for the theater to let us in for the midnight showing of Harry Potter. I only vividly remember ever going to one other midnight showing but there’s a high possibility I’ve been to others that I have forgotten.

I first read Harry Potter because Connie L told me to and lent the books to me. I wonder who was the first person to ever buy a Harry Potter book. I am not an insane fan but I would always watch the movies within the first few weeks and I always had my mom buy the books within the first day of release at Costco. I only wish I had gone to a bookstore midnight opening for the last book because … when will there ever be such a frenzy for a printed book again?

Lately I have been falling asleep whereever I am starting around 9:30, so I am apprehensive about whether I will be able to stay awake through both movies until 3am. I don’t think it will be a problem though. It is Harry Potter. I am concerned about how terrible my body will feel the next day at work.

My attempt to resist ONTD posts pretty much ended within a few hours of my saying that. I now spend at least two hours after work just going through allllll the comments of Harry Potter related posts because people post the most awesome GIFs and I think HP posts have the least hateful comments of any discussion and people write things that are actually interesting/funny/nostalgic

My favorite. I love this because it’s true.

I know for a fact I’ve definitely teared up at the WB sign for at least three of the movies. HAHA I loveee how before every HP movie (that I’ve been to at least), everyone woots and screams right when the movie begins, and then when the WB logo comes up, everyone shuts the hell up for the rest of the movie and just watches in reverential silence.

Well. I guess after I step out of this theater, it is the end of my childhood! Other things that have made me feel old this week:

1) The following conversation

Jackie: I visited Mr. Lee (a middle school teacher) and he said he hates teaching!
Us: WHAT?! He hasn’t even been teaching that long!
Connie and Jackie: I know! He’s only been teaching for … *counting in head* … OMG NINE YEARS!
US: OMGGGGGG NINE YEARSSSSS

2) Found out via Facebook that the first person I really liked just got engaged. SO WEIRD. That makes me feel both old AND single.

3) The fact that I am writing this entry at 2:22am and KNOW that my body and mind will pay for it the next morning

Oh yes! I have uploaded pics of Peru! See prior entries. Sometimes I added commentary at the end of the post. I still have to transcribe my journal entries from Miraflores and during the trek, but not tonight.

THIS will make you cry! I have been trying to get my coworker Julia to watch it since Monday and she was like “NO! I’m at work! I can’t cry at work!”

 

Back home

Listening to: Kiersten Holine – World at Large (Modest Mouse cover)

It’s 10:45am and I’ve been back in CA for about 11 hours. I just finished going through my twitter feed … kind of fun to just read a whole bunch in one go. I threw all my clothes into a laundry basket which my mom has already put in the wash (HEHE!). It was a very odd collection of various smells. I threw away three pairs of socks at Eco Packers before leaving Cusco, which was a little devastating because they were Costco socks from about three generations of socks ago, none had holes, but they smelled SO horrible I’m certain they were pretty much a growing pad for mold. I had internet more often than I expected so I didn’t come home to a flurry of emails, but I’ve gone two weeks without ONTD and I’m going to see how long I can last without celebrity gossip. After talking to the three Irish girls and my taxi driver to my Miraflores hostel (more on that later but the gist is she was an investment banker in Switzerland and after I told her I was an auditor she took that to mean I was well-educated so I spent a good portion of the ride pretending like I understood her explanation of tour agencies’ taxability in Peru and discussion of economic stability of various countries when in fact I had no idea what she was talking about) I feel like one of my priorities should be having a better understanding of world events. Especially since lately the only way I get world news is when I receive a travel advisory from my office prohibiting me to go somewhere. “Oh, I can’t go to Mexico? I wonder why. Oh, drug problems? Ok.” “Why can’t I go to Japan? Oh … earthquake and tsunami? Ok.”

It is SO HOT right now I am dying. 84 in Arcadia, 76 in Santa Clara, 69 in Seattle. When I returned home it felt like walking into a little oven of a house.

Well I need to share this computer with my brother since I didn’t bring my laptop back. Feels like it’s a decade ago, when we didn’t have our own electronics to use. In the meantime, OMG THIS

Edit:

While I was in Peru, it was my dad’s 60th birthday. Oops. Well tomorrow is my mom’s nth birthday, so at least I will be at home for that. Last weekend, my brother took my parents to Vegas. Before that, they bought a cake for my dad and I just saw the pictures and they are HILARIOUS. So I’m pretty sure that everyone who has ever met my dad sees him as a very quiet very nice man, which is true. I think the last time he ever spoke sternly to me (pretty sure he has never yelled at me in my life) was when I was in elementary school. But he is sometimes very randomly moody, only towards my mom. It is annoying to watch but hilarious when she retells me stories. We laugh about how sometimes he is her third child. For his birthday, he got moody again. My brother and mom have no idea why but it sounds like it was because my mom wanted him to take pictures with the cake, he said no, my mom insisted, and then he got all fussy. See below, for a series of pictures in which my dad refuses to look at the camera and angrily eats his cake.

My dad, finding a Costco coupon book more interesting than his birthday cake
My dad, angrily cutting a slice of cake
My brother and dad
Refusing to look happy while eating birthday cake
A happy birthday celebration!

Day 9-12: More Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu

Listening to: Metric – Black Sheep (my hiking song)

OMG In Miraflores right now it is awesome. I had sensory overload for the first few hours here and now I just feel really full from all the food I ate. Plus my lack of sleep for pretty much the past 13 days is catching up to me so I am exhausted. For once, it is 11:30 and I feel like that is a decently appropriate time to feel exhausted, compared to the usual 6:30pm of the past few days. I wrote down most of my Miraflores thoughts in the journal I took from Caroline, so that will be posted eventually. I figure I should just continue writing in sequential order, otherwise I will never get around to writing about the Salkantay Trek.

My plastic baggie socks. That I would rewear. And wash. And hang up to dry.

So I wrote about the first day, quite in detail. The next few days were also fun but there is less to write about because the hikes were shorter and they pretty much followed the same pattern:

And... the trek continues...

1) Wake up at some ungodly hour like 5am due to chickens and roosters. Typically feel like I may not be able to move my hips in certain directions due to sleeping on hard dirt floor. Wonder to self if I will ever know the feeling of warmth again.
2) Formally wake up around 6am when Elvis calls upon us and asks what sort of tea we want to drink. He calls this morning room service. I curse to myself as I pull on jeans and hiking pants still wet from the day before. My luxury of the morning is brushing my teeth, and for one day, brushing my hair. Only on the first morning did I have to poo without a toilet.
3) We are told that we have an hour to organize our things. I don’t have a watch so I don’t know if we actually accomplish this within the hour, or if our schedule is just so fluid that Elvis never says if we take longer than expected. I have noticed that he always says “five minutes” for everything (like five minutes until dinner), and it always takes much longer than five minutes. Since we have nothing better to do, this lack of timely precision does not bother me.

Stones that meant nothing to me as I don't know what a meter is.

4) Begin trekking. For day 2, the general feeling was “omg why is it raining, I thought it wasn’t supposed to rain.” For day 3, I think Caroline and Tanya were thinking “YAY SUN” whereas I was thinking “omg it’s so unbearably hot. I prefer a light rain and overcastness.” For day 4, we took a bus in the morning to our stop, the hydroelectric station, so I believe Caroline was thinking “omg why are we taking a bus, I want to be HIKING not sitting on my ass”, Tanya was probably thinking “we probably should have hiked but I admit I enjoy this bus ride” and I was thinking “OMG I’M IN A CAR THIS IS AMAZING Look at everything going by so quickly!”

Tons of flower shots but this is one of my favorites

5) For day 2 and 3, we would reach our campsite around 12:30. There were always animals, and always a cat, so I would inevitably say “OMG CAT! HOW CUTE!” I would also think, omg … what could we possibly do for the next 10 hours because I would always assume we would be staying up until 10. Then the minutes would pass and I would realize, oh … we are going to spend the next few hours trying not to freeze to death. And as it gets dark around 6, we will be sleeping around 6:30. Basically we sat pathetically off to the side while our porters set up our tents. Elvis would serve us tea, which we would drink quietly, still trying not to freeze. Then we would hustle our asses to our sleeping bags and tents and wait for dinner to be served, before returning to our tents for a cold night’s sleep.

That’s the gist of it. HAHA I think the unique parts of our days were …

Day 2: Caroline and Tanya were VERY miserable this day. Caroline because her eye had gotten infected, most likely from an alpaca hat. Tanya because it was cold and wet. I was actually not feeling terrible, even though my feet were SO cold I could have sworn they were turning purple. I think I handle the cold much better than them, but I get immediately crabby when the sun shines, so we all have our weather weaknesses.  I think we were so sad looking this day that the cook made us popcorn, which Elvis brought to our tents along with tea. He said “just call me if you want more!” and I kept saying to Tanya “god that is so sad if we were to call from the tent for more popcorn.” I certainly was not leaving the comfort of my warm, dry sleeping bag. We scarfed down the popcorn so quickly and I kept wanting more so I made a half assed effort to unzip the tent and poke my head out. I saw Elvis and a porter just staring at me so I held up the bowl, lying on the ground, and unable to make the effort to even prop my body up and said in a sad whiny voice “ELVISSS… can we have more popcorn please…..” and he said “what do you think?” and I said “YES!” and he said “yes!” and refilled our bowl. HAHAHA

We requested our tents be set up under a shelter

Day 3: This day was sunny but I don’t remember too much about the actual hike. We saw some avocadoes and stuff. The scenery was very mountainy and green. We stayed in some little town, which at first was filled with tourists but it emptied out and then only us three were left in town as tourists. Today was the day of the DELICIOUS APPLE WONTONS. soooo good. They gave us a bag of caramel to squeeze onto the wontons which we marvelled over. We played a game of 300 which I lost. Tanya finished Into the Wild, then Caroline read it. I walked up and down the small town which is situated along the river. Everyone I saw was very nice and would say hello and it was pretty interesting to see their homes. All the kids were playing soccer together in a field. Super peaceful to walk around, and I think I just kept putting Bon Iver’s Holcene on repeat. For once it did NOT rain heavily at night, so I had a pretty good sleep.

We had forgotten what blue skies looked like
This and rice pudding = my fond Peru food memories

Day 4: Elvis told us that due to the rain, it would be very hard to hike uphill this one mountain, which we would then have to walk downhill. The alternative was taking a bus, which I sided with Elvis on. SORRY CAROLINE. It dropped us off a little before the hydroelectric station, which is where our route would have continued. With the bus, we only had a 2.5hr day’s hike, otherwise it would have been about 7-8 hours. We walked basically along the backside of Machu Picchu. You could see the flag on the peak of Mt Machu Picchu and in some pictures you can actually see people walking around Machu Picchu. From the hydroelectric station, we just followed along the Peru Rail track which I really enjoyed. I liked the first and fourth day the most because they were the most non-CA like experiences I had. Walking in snow, and walking along a railroad track under the towering Andes Mountains. There were a ton of really pretty flowers along this part, so I was constantly in the back, taking pics at digital macro mode. We got to Aguas Caliente, which is the main town near Machu Picchu, around 2:30 I think, much earlier than Elvis anticipated. It is completely tourist-ridden and kind of tiring to be in. There are just tourists everywhere and everything is so overpriced. I liken it to Las Vegas because you never know what time it is, you constantly feel thirsty, and in order to do anything or sit anywhere you have to pretty much pay money. Horrid.

Super excited to reach a SHOWER and a BED
There are seriously four restaurants with the exact same menu. This town is probably run by some super rich Peruvian man.

The main entrance to Aguas Calientes welcomes you with these VERY nice hotels. The kind you’d see on Jetsetter or travel agency ads. I thought for once we would live a night of luxury and that we would be living in one of these hotels. It only made it worse when Elvis turned into a dingy side street and we ended up at our actual hostel, which smelled very musty and was of questionable cleanliness. Nevertheless, it had a hot shower, which was something I hadn’t had for days. Caroline and Tanya went to the hot springs while I took a glorious shower. For the first time in days, my hair felt nice and I didn’t have to tie it in a ponytail. I still felt kind of dirty bodywise but way better than before. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought of bringing nice clean clothes post-shower, so I just had to slip my gross hiking pants back on. Had clean shirts though, so that was nice. I then went out with Into the Wild (now my turn to read it), my journal, and my ipod.

Along our hike from the back side of Machu Picchu

I walked around town, taking random pictures and then ended up in the main market. I thought it would be pretty small, maybe one or two aisles, but it turned out to be a huge place with aisle after aisle of souveniers. Amazingly I ran into our three Irish friends AGAIN. This was now the … well for me, I say third time I ran into them after we had said our first goodbyes in the Cuzco main plaza after our dinner at Paddy’s Pub. I just heard Irish accents and saw three white girls approaching and thought “no way, it’s probably not them” but as we got closer I yelled out “WHAT THE FUCK” and we all hugged. We went out for dinner together and sat on the outside patio part, and by pure chance, Caroline and Tanya walked by after finishing from the hot springs and we were all like HEYYY WHATTTT and they joined us for dinner too. HAHA Spent all of dinner catching up on the last five days of our lives.

I ended up paying essentially TEN BUCKS for a burrito. The burrito was actually decent, but TEN DOLLARS, good god. In Peru that is just unreasonable. Aguas Calientes also does this annoying service charge. Upon receiving the bill I was like “TAKE ALL THOSE NAPKINS” because we were running out of toilet paper and with a 15 sole service charge, I thought we could be somewhat retributed with some napkins. Tanya took a bar glass with all of our prompting. We walked out, kind of laughing about our steals, and then said bye for the LAST TIME. Really sad! I seriously felt like we had lost some good friends after that even though we had technically only known each other for only a week.

Caroline has the shot of all six of us so here is one of us three! Beginning of day 4

Our night was short. Elvis woke us up at 3:30 to get in line for the bus to Machu Picchu. The bus station would open at 5:40. He said in all cases before, waking up at 3:30 is good enough to get people within the first 400 people allowed to hike up to Wayna Picchu. Since we had unknowingly booked our trek during the 100th year anniversary of the “discovery” of Macchu Picchu, waking up at 3:30 was fruitless and we ended up being about 100 people behind the chosen 400. Oh well. I don’t think I would have had the energy to hike up there anyway. Before the day finished, I had no idea what was going on, but now that it has passed, I can tell you:

You wake up early to wait in line after line

You wake up super early to stand/sit in line for the bus. You should have gotten bus tickets the night before, otherwise you will have to wait for the bus ticket station to open and will definitely be unable to be the first 400 people. Again, you want to be the first 400 if you plan to hike Wayna Picchu which gives you more unique views of Machu Picchu. The bus station opens and an incredibly smoothly operating system of busses begins lugging people up the mountain. Another option is to hike up, which consists of waiting for the bridge to open in order to begin hiking up a seemingly endless flight of stairs. This saves you $8 but will probably leave you too exhausted to do anything upon reaching Machu Picchu.

One of many, many shots of the same thing from different angles

Upon exiting the bus, you wait in another line to enter Machu Picchu. Oddly, even though you are completely surrounded by people, upon entering Machu Picchu, it is so large that it actually feels quite spacious. That is, if you wake up early. This feeling does not continue after 10ish, when it starts to feel more and more like a theme park.

Yes, I have been to Machu Picchu!

Once we were in Machu Picchu, it was kind of a free for all. Elvis lead us around for a guided tour, which was really good because otherwise we would have just been looking at a ton of rocks with no idea what any of them signified. The coolest was this one rock that looks completely unimportant but then he said it was a compass and it became super cool. HAHA Our tour was like two hours and then Elvis lead us down and gave us some snacks and at the end of it, he told us he was leaving us. SEPERATION ANXIETY! I felt like the snacks were to distract us while he left us. I had felt so attached to Elvis over the past few days, particularly since he pampered us so much during a time when I was too tired and unwilling to do anthing for myself. I was very much like, OH NO what will we do now?!

My favorite is the terraces which you walk along to the exit

Well we hiked back up and out of Machu Picchu to use the restrooms. It is one sol for the use of a bathroom. I had failed to ask Elvis where in Machu Picchu the Incan restrooms were. This is a question that will haunt me for a long time. Anyway, we then stood in line to get back in and hiked to the Sun Gate. Supposed to be an hour but we got there in half an hour. Very nice views, I thought it was worth it. On the way back down, Caroline stopped and eyed this one trail and I stopped behind Tanya and said “omg where does she want to go now.” Caroline was eyeing Mt. Machu Picchu and we told her to go for it but we would not be joining. She did and reported to us later that we would have hated it, as it was all steps. So glad we didn’t go. Even then, Tanya and I decided to hike down the mountain back to Aguas Caliente instead of paying US $8 to bus back. Glad I didn’t pay for the bus, but I really feel like my knees have been permanently damaged from the trek in total. We made it back to Aguas Caliente, but I felt like I couldn’t walk straight. Ended up eating in the same restaurant where we’d eaten with the Irish girls the night before…

These two made it to the Sun Gate, which is a trail of almost all stairs. Freaking amazing

Ordered burgers this time. WORST. BURGER. EVER. I guess it was a Pervuian style thing, which must mean totally tasteless. The beef felt like a boca burger sort of concotion. Also, there was very little saltiness, which I guess is healthier, but SO TASTELESS. Oddly even the ketchup is less flavorful than American ketchup. I should have just waited for an American hamburger. We wandered around aimlessly and found Caroline kind of walking up and down the streets in a daze. She was totally tired from her Mt Machu Picchu hike. We basically spent the next few hours going from restaurant to restaurant ordering little things because our train out of Aguas Caliente wasn’t until 6:45 and at the time it was like … 2:30.

I kept buying expensive things that were totally unsatisfying, which just made me want to buy more food. Again, AGUAS CALIENTE SUCKS. But is a necessary evil to get to Machu Picchu. Thankfully this guy named Ryan started talking to us in the cafe and he really helped make the time pass. Finally it was like 5:45 and we left to get our bags from the hostel and made our way to the train station. The train station is from outward appearances kind of confusing, but is actually just so simple that instructions are not put anywhere. The train gave out bags of little peanuts and drinks, like a flight. I slept for much of it in between reading parts of Into the Wild. The train dropped us off in Ollyanto or something, where our tour company had arranged for a bus to drive us from there back to our hostel in Cuzco. Totally knocked out during the bus ride. It was during this time that my ipod ran out of battery (CRIES) in the middle of Glee’s The Boy is Mine.

Got back to Cuzco around 10:30 and I was exhausted but managed to shower then go online and take care of things. At first I was super excited to see I had gotten emails. Turns out only 3 were from friends and the other 14 were either from Jetsetter or Bed Bath and Beyond. Thanks, three friends! Had a terrible night’s sleep, I realize now because in Cuzco I always sleep after nearly freezing while using their computers, and at that point the bed is not enough to warm me up so I spent the rest of the night curled up in a ball cursing the blankets at Eco Packers. It’s really my own fault for being cold though.

Eco Packers, our last hostel together

This was an insanely long blog and I am so tired and need to shower and sleep. I fear that I will end up waking up at 9am tomorrow and totally miss the sunrise along the cliffs of Miraflores, which I intend to photograph. The bed in this hostel looks super cozy and it is in a very quiet part of town. Hope I wake up! Will post this blog without much editing, so sorry for the rambling. TOMORROW I RETURN TO AMERICA.

Various hiking scenery shots

Day 2
Crossing a bridge
Day 4: walking along the Peru Rail track
The train was cute in an old fashioned sort of way
Terraces and lookout station

Day 8: Salkantay Trek

Listening to: Bon Iver – Holcene (SO glad I threw this into my shuffle. It’s the perfect traveling song)

So our trek had recommended that we bring the following

T-shirts

-shorts (did not bring, nor did I need them AT ALL as it was constantly FREEZING)

-sun hat (brought my mom’s, did not wear except for one day. Spent another day wrapping my head with a dress shirt for sun protection which I saw another 50ish year old Asian woman do as well)

-sun glasses (CRIES)

-hiking boots (did not buy. Instead, wore my non-waterproof Nike trainers, which has a hole on the left foot)

-long trousers (one pair of long jeans which I wore)

-warm jacket/sweater -you can get until minus 10 degrees depending of the season (Brought a Berkeley sweatshirt. NOT WARM. And I am pretty sure we did actually hit 0 Celsius as it was snowing and very windy)

-rain gear (brought a VERY THIN  waterproof jacket that provides nearly no warmth whatsoever)

-sandals (forgot these at the hostel)

-wool hat (borrowed my manager’s beanie. Need to thank her for possibly saving my life with her borrowed gear)

-wool socks (five pairs of Costco socks, one for each day)

-gloves (failed to bring)

-scarf (failed to bring)

-torch/flashlight (failed to bring, borrowed Caroline’s)

-daypack and backpack (failed to bring, carried everything in my hands and pockets)

-toilet paper (NEARLY ran out, thankfully I decided to steal all the paper napkins off the restaurant table in Aguas Calientes)

-sun screen (did not bring, borrowed Tanya’s)

-insect repellant (did not bring, only have maybe five bug bites)

-sleeping bag (did not bring, borrowed from trek company)

The gist of it is, I was utterly unprepared for this trek. I am surprised I not only survived, but that I made it out with all my fingers and toes intact. The pictures from this trek, especially on the first day, are really incredible. As I have told several people, we basically expected the trek to be in sunshine. A few days before leaving, Cusco was raining and our guide told us “be prepared for anything. There is possibility of snow on the mountains.” We all took this to mean, maybe we will be walking in snow. We wake up at 3 30 on … Friday? Whatever was five days ago. Let’s see

Today: Thursday
Wednesday: Macchu Picchu
Tuesday: Hydroelectric
Monday: Jungleish area, little river town
Sunday: Rain
Saturday: Snow

Ok. So we left Saturday morning. Anyway, we wake up, get on our bus with Elvis, our tour guide. When we wake up in the mountains, it is raining. We pathetically sit in the car refusing to leave until our guide determines if we are really truly trekking in the rain, or if we are going to wait maybe a day and see if the weather clears up. Elvis determines that the rain will continue and we begin to walk to our first stop which is very close by. We huddle under this shelter for a little bit. Oh wait. Before this, Tanya and Caroline use the restroom, which we are told is any spot you choose by the horses. I also go, put down my pants, watch a line of people on horses ride by in the distance, and decide I am not yet ready to cop a squat and decide to go back through the field of horse shit to the group.

Us, essentially refusing to leave the warmth of the car

We are sitting in the shelter, watching it rain, and then watch the rain turn into snow. I am extremely excited and amazed for a good long while, as this is the first time I have ever seen falling snow. Until now, I have only ever seen fakeish snow on Mt High or whatever snowboarding mountain it was, and snow that was already brown from cars driving over it in Big Bear. My amazement lasted for a good long while, until we started hitting the summit and I found myself cursing nonstop under my breath and frantically trying to make sure I still felt my fingers and toes. Basically, we decided, fuck it, let’s walk through the snow and started our path. I was surprisingly warm for a good long while, until, again, that summit portion. There was a point where we all huddle under the cover of a giant rock, where our cook made us coca tea (WITH BROWN SUGAR, AMAZING, can never go back to drinking plain tea again).

At first, just a light rain. No big deal.
Then, oh. Hm. there's snow in the distance.
We have now surpassed "the distance" and are IN FALLING SNOW.
The situation seems bleak.
So grateful for those horses that carried our stuff

The way down was way more difficult for me. Until then, I had gotten along ok without hiking sticks or proper hiking shoes. Oh I should mention, before we started the hike, I sat in the car and watched it rain and put plastic fruit/veggie baggies around my feet. One each. Very Asian feeling. Totally the sort of thing my mom would have instructed me to do. OH. I should also quote an email from her that I read last night upon return. There was a paragraph before this, but this is the ending paragraph

It seems you were not well prepared.  Try to keep warm. Don’t get sick.  Have fun!  Be safe. Bye, I need to call my mom now.  She is waiting my call just like I expect your email.

Anyway. So there I am hiking along in the following clothing: a long sleeve shirt, a Berkeley sweatshirt, a thin waterpoof jacket, a pink poncho I bought for 2.50 soles, a pair of jeans over a pair of hiking pants, Costco socks, plastic bag socks, and nonwaterproof Nike trainers. Hiking in snow. Until the summit, it was decently ok. The trail was still visible so I could for the most part avoid stepping into snow. The way down though, most of the trail was either starting to get covered with snow or had become icy and very slippery to step on. Not only that, I am generally terrible at downhill so add snow and slipperiness to the mix … DISASTER!

I took my good sweet time and kind of zoned out just trying to put one foot in front of another and wondering to myself how I had gotten into this very odd situation the weekend of July 4th. At one point, I slipped and fell ass backwards … onto my butt then the momentum carried and my head slammed onto the snow behind me. Pretty sure I blacked out for just a few seconds and I heard this very nice couple gasp in shock behind me. Their tour guide very kindly gave me his hiking stick and fashioned me a glove with a plastic  baggie. Saved my right hand! Which is my moneymaker, as that is my Excel clicking hand. I still went very slowly, so Elvis would walk me hand in hand down the mountain. Once again, Peru has shown me how utterly unfit and feeble I actually am.

Amazing, amazing warm coca tea

We finally got to a nonsnowy part, and THEN we finally got to our campsite which was a gorgeous place to pitch a tent, although it ended up being VERY WET as it rained during the night. I think I suffered the least because my rented sleeping bag was more waterproof than Tanya and Caroline’s. But I just remember my legs and socks were soooooo cold the entire night.

I may be smiling but I am thinking "GET ME OFF THIS FUCKING FREEZING MOUNTAIN"

Meals were always very good on the trek. Whenever we stopped hiking for the day, we would have tea time, then lunch time, then free time (which we mainly spent trying to feel warm and sitting around pathethically not wanting to do anything except sit in our sleeping bags), then dinner  time and then another tea time. Unfortunately I was  so cold and trying not to freeze to death the first few days I didn’t take pictures of our meals, I just scarfed them down. It was a pretty good mix of traditional foods, all warm so it felt so great to be eating them. Absolute favorites along the entire trek: we had apple wontons one day for a snack, and we had spaghetti with this delicious chicken sauce thing that I called (OOO is this like bbq ketchup?! to which Elvis replied “uh …. no.”) Also, a surprise treat of popcorn on the second day when we all looked rather miserable because it was raining when we had been told rain was very unlikely, and omelettes for breakfast on the day when I thought to myself “what I really want right now is eggs”

Snow will stop falling. Once we get downhill... Tiny little tent in the distance

Ok I want to try to go eat breakfast now so I do not end up missing my flight from Cusco to Peru. Wow that was basically only the first day. I think the other days will go by faster to recap. stay tuned! Although I may not blog until I return to US because I plan to thoroughly explore Miraflores tonight and then tomorrow I am OMG GOING HOME INSANEEEEEEEEEEE

Closer to warmth!
The benefit to snow is ... pretty cool pictures!
Gorgeous. At this point I was thinking "omg I didn't die."
Our glorious campsite
What we would wake up to the next morniing

NO COMMENTS?

How depressing. What a terrible way to come back from five days without internet! Comments let me know that people care. Well, if you care, I am alive. I have a journal filled with scrawled entries during the trek. I am starting to shiver now because I am once again sitting outside using the computer in 40 degree weather. God damn this hostel. Flying to Lima tomorrow, then flying back to LA the day after. CRAZINESS.

Vacation oversight #1: failed to put Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – Home on my iPod

Toes and fingers still functioning. At least, for now.

Day 7: Cusco

I assume it is day 7 because I realized today was Friday and I left San Jose on Friday. I totally did not realize it was the beginning of July 4th weekend. So this blog post will be as long as I can stand sitting outside in the cold while wearing only a berkeley sweatshirt, my bear bottom shorts, and flip flops. It is 40 degrees right now in Cusco and for some reason this hostel decided to put its computers outside. I imagine it’s a  way to keep people from hogging the comps for too long.

It’s 10pm and in six hours we will be leaving for the Salcantay trek which is 5 days and 4 nights, only one night in a hostel. The first day is apparently the most difficult and the coldest. Before this trip began I was most concerned about freezing to death while sleeping but now I think the trouble is staying alive while hiking. Hopefully I’ll come out of this thinking, I worried so much about nothing. I’m not so sure though. I plan on using plastic baggies around my socks in case it rains … or snows … which our guide said is a possibility. The heaviest clothing item I have with me is this Berkeley sweatshirt. So fucked.

Today was Cusco! I am so sad, my diarrhea has returned. I had one good day of solid poos. I took a Pepto Bismol tonight – I am not sure how long it will take to be effective but I hope it is enough for my body.

We had stayed at Pariwana backpackers last night. Apparently music was blaring until 2am. I definitely heard it until around midnight, which is when I think I went to bed. But I was so exhausted that to me, I thought that right when I put my head down to sleep, the volume had turned down and then stopped. I remember thinking to myself “wow, that’s great luck for me! Now I can sleep!” and I slept quite soundly until what I thought was noon but was actually 8am. Turns out the music had continued until 2am and Tanya and Caroline had a crap sleep.

Pariwana Backpackers. Hostel within a colonial house

We spent most of the morning until noon switching hostels and getting stuff in order. Kind of a bummer because our room was actually really awesome with its own private  toilet and sink and all t0 ourselves. After complaining to the mgmt, they actually comped us the room which was super nice. We then decided to find a new hostel. I blame myself as I had had the most sleep and probably had the clearest mind, but for some reason we decided it would be an okay idea to take a cab to a hostel that didn’t even answer its phone.

The hostel was  technically only a few blocks from the one we were initially at, but because of all the festivities (I believe the name is Corpus Christi), the taxi driver had to take the craziest detours. Pretty cool to only pay 5 soles for a pretty interesting drive around the streets of Arequipa. We finally got to the hostel and unloaded the taxi and as it drove off, we realized that NO ONE was answering the doorbell. I think at this point Tanya and Caroline were like OMG FUCK FUCK FUCK but my mind was kind of blank and just like “I can’t believe I did not think of what a terrible idea this had been”

A very nice Peruvian lady saw us outside looking pretty desperate what with our giant luggage and no one answering our doors. She invited us to her hostel, which we decided to take a look at. It was a very old place, and reminds me of the equivalent of this really, really terrible motel I had once gotten with my mom while driving up the PCH. It technically had everything and the lady was super nice and we were so desperate at the time it seemed ok. We stood around the room really contemplating whether we should take the room and  trying to justify staying, and I pointed at this huge ass spider which was probably bigger than my palm. I think the final straw was realizing that it would be safer to leave our luggage at a more reputable hostel while we were on the trek, even though I didn’t think the lady would do anything. So we left and I felt pretty bad for this lady who was so nice but then we headed off by foot to Eco Packers.

I am not sure why we hadn’t just gone to Eco Packers in the first place actually. The three Irish girls were staying there, and I’m pretty sure it was well rated on the hostel site. I am just a blind follower. Anyway, we made it there and ended up getting a pretty awesome room, 4 beds so very private. The person we are sharing with is from Portland, Oregon and she has gone to a TON of places in the span of a few weeks. I can’t even remember all of them but the most vivid retelling was that she rented a house in Galapagos Islands and it ended up coming with a maid and she would just write down what she would want to eat for the day and the maid would go out and get it for her, and this was all cheaper than paying to live on a boat or whatever it is that most people do when visiting the Galapagos Islands.

We then went to a cafe called Jack’s Cafe which was in Caroline’s tourbook. The thing about going to restaurants in tourbooks is … I always flip through the suggested restaurants for places I have already been to like Berkeley or SF or LA and their suggestions are SO terrible. Like for Berkeley, 3/4 of them I would have never heard of or would not want to go to. So I am always very skeptical of them. I have a feeling that the recommendations are generally what the tourbook writers think tourists will want to go to eat to feel kind of homey.

On this street corner is a little taste of home

Sitting in the cafe, I looked around and it was full of tourists. It reminded me of when we were in Arcadia and decided to try a random restaurant and there were white people in it and we were like “oh. There are white people here. That’s a bad sign.” The food was good, I got a sandwich with salami and cheese, and a mocha. That mocha might have been the best mocha I have ever had, including all the ones I have tried in Seattle. Anyway at that point I was like, ok I guess you can’t really just eat authentic food the entire time on vacation and it is nice to have a blend of things every now and then and some comfort food really goes a long way.

Amazing mocha. Chocolate all around the sides

We then went to the Cathedral. I don’t know if we went to the thing I was thinking of, but there were supposed to be a lot of catacombs and there weren’t really. Our tour guide was actually the best one we’ve had yet, in that he was very knowledgable and knew a lot of English. He wanted 25 soles and I said “how about 20” and he said ok so quickly that during the entire tour I thought to myself, damn I should have said 15. In the end Caroline gave him 10 soles in tip HAHA

My hands are FREEZING. I must look so fucking ridiculous. People around me are wearing hats with earflaps and heavy down jackets with ear flaps and here I am in thin shorts and flip flops. I’m waiting for someone to say “where are you from? Russia?” and I go “no, I’m from LA”

Anyway, we did a little shopping. I got two nice scarves and walked around some random neighborhood and then went back and got dinner. Freezing now so end of post.

POST RETURN EDIT:

To be honest, the reason I actually ended that post then was because while I was typing, the three Irish girls came by and we started talking so I stopped blogging and then after our convo ended I realized that not typing had made me very aware of how cold it was and THEN I just stopped.

I realized that I had chosen a lot of pictures to post in this blog that I never talked about. I guess most of this post was about being cold and the hostel switch and eating. Basically upon arriving in Cusco we saw that it was very overcast which did not bode well for our upcoming trek.

Super overcast. Not good.

We walked around the main market area which was like a giant farmer’s market (but in a developing country way, so not like cute tents and cleanliness but more … an area of flowers, an area of so many fruits it created an odd smell, an area of raw meats, and an area of food). I constantly wanted to take pictures of people but it seemed rude to just stick a camera in someone’s face. There were several times when I’d pass someone and think that would have made an awesome picture. I wish we had the technology to make our eyeballs into cameras.

Sugarcane to be made into a juice
Fruits! Wish I could have bought a giant bagful
Flower lady. Reminds me of Seattle
Vegetable sales out on the street

On our first day in Cusco … I think … yes … we decided to briefly split up since we all wanted to do slightly different things. I ended up walking around by myself. The good thing about Peru is that all the streets sort of lead to the main plaza, and our hostel was very close to the main plaza so I didn’t get horribly lost. I chose to walk down this one street that seemed to be comprised of just banks. Really weird. I was also starving so I ended up walking into a totally random restaurant, where I wrote several postcards. I had heard that trout was a main dish to get here, so that’s what I got. I was the only customer there but it took FOREVER. But totally worth it. Trucha con limon!

Amazing, especially the lemonade

And then I left the restaurant and realized there were a LOT of people on the streets. There was a celebration going on, I think this was the Corpus Christi one, where they would have parades around the plaza with students holding up these saint figures and music would blare from bands. Interesting to watch for a bit.

The people carrying things all looked really tired and unhappy

I could have sworn I wrote about this but I don’t see it in the entry. Either I wrote it in another entry or I wrote it in my journal. Anyway, we made plans to meet up with the 3 Irish girls in Cusco the night that we arrived. Thank goodness for email and FB! I ended up writing back to meet at the backside of a statue in the main plaza at 6:30. So I got back from my walk around 6 and we set out. Seeing them across the plaza was … funnily like a scene from a movie or something. Like they were three shadows in the distance and upon walking closer we were all like OOHHH YAY!!! FRIENDS IN A FOREIGN CITY!!! They were like “we were afraid you had stood us up!” and then we walked over to Paddy’s Pub. Not because they were craving home food but because someone in their hostel had suggested it to them. Because of my trout earlier that day, I just ordered a bread pudding and thought it was AMAZZZINGGGG. We took a picture together but Rebecca has it.

I think I walked down that street the most of all Peru.
Nighttime in Cusco
The street to our first hostel
The catedral. I think.

I don’t like throwing all these photos in a sequence without paragraphs but I am tired and can’t think of much else to write about.