Peru final stage: Cusco

By the time we left Ollantaytambo, I was ready to feel better! I wanted to eat and drink well again. I liked Ollantaytambo, but I didn’t like how cars/buses went ripping around the very narrow cobbled streets- it felt too narrow and busy.

Off to Cusco we went, for the final 3 days of our trip. The ride back to Cusco was ok except I felt horribly carsick heading into Cusco- so twisty, winding, slamming on the brakes and oh, the car we hired didn’t have any seatbelts? Joy!

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We made it and wow, I felt like shit.

Cusco was very cool- lots of big older buildings, museums, hotels and tons and tons of pretty good restaurants and bars. Our hotel was super neat, an old monastery that was attached to a church! The church still held services, and the hotel itself functioned as a non-profit to support orphaned girls.

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I loved the hotel, and the town was very neat. The unfortunate thing about Cusco is that it is SWARMING with hawkers of nearly every description. It does get tiring to swat away vendors and tour guides and you name it. Every.single.time. you leave the hotel, without fail. Kind of exhausting.

We walked around exploring Cusco, and did a chocolate-making workshop that was SUPER fun. Highly recommend! It is pricey but worth it. So fun.

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We enjoyed a beer from the best viewpoint in town, for a very reasonable price.

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We also went to one of the best restaurants in Cusco (according to a friend of mine) called Pachapapas – I had the whole roasted trout, and Ian had Alpaca skewers.  They were amazing!! The only thing that sucked was that we were both starting to feel the effects of altitude, and our metabolisms started slowing down. That meant that after 1 meal, we no longer wanted to eat or drink anything…And felt vaguely nauseous for the whole day/night. That meant I wasn’t even hungry for our amazing dinner-bummer! And the thought of alcohol made me feel sick. Man!

We also went to the shabby-chic Coca Museum (it was more shabby than chic hahaha) but a fun little foray.

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In the end, I was glad to wrap up our trip. It was chilly in Cusco at night, but fairly nice during the day. I was wishing I could eat/drink normally again, and quite glad to be back on the road home by the end of our three days.

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Visit Peru- it’s a crazy place and you’ll have a grand adventure!

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Back from holidays! (nothing was the same)

A week away feels so much longer, particularly when I was coming down from several months of extreme stress, pressure and sickness.

And WOW it was worth it. Such a great holiday, such a great time.

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Greetings from sunny Sayulita!

We visited Sayulita in Mexico, close to Puerto Vallarta – roughly an hour away. An easy place to get to, and an easy place to like. Eternal summer.

We did everything. Horseback riding on the beach, hanging out with friends, boogie boarding at the main beach, swimming in the ocean every day, snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding, hiking, I went on one run, and a boat trip to the Marietas Islands (more on that later…).

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We even got to gallop on the beach!

I miss it. I feel sad to be back.

The food was so great, we cooked/ate a lot of meals at our VRBO rental- which was great, by the way. The only downside was the shared plunge pool that ended up being not-so-shared as our neighbour unit had a large family and kind of ended up occupying it. Oh well!

What did we eat? Octopus! Shrimps! So many shrimps, I felt sick. Shrimped out!

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Cooked my first whole octopus

We made fresh salads with avocado, queso fresco, salt and lime. That’s all you need for seasoning, as we found out. We drank Coronas (me) Pacifico (Ian) and then later, Agua fresca  Jamaica for me (when I was off booze).

Restaurants? We did that too! We ate at La Esperanza, pricier than the other joints but SO high quality- I had tuna steaks in hibiscus sauce on mashed plantains, and it was AMAZING. So much tuna I gave some to Ian because I was full and still kind of reeling from my hangover.

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Souvenir beach bag I bought for my sister.

We also did an entire night of street foot- we started with tacos el Ivan and got eight – ocho-tacos al pastor for super cheap, $100 pesos? Next we had hot churros, and then a beef tamale, and then corn in a cup. It was all so good! In the beginning of our trip, we ate ceviche from a street vendor and it was excellent and fresh. So much good food!

The only tragedy was our boat trip to the Marietas Islands. I was excited for it, and the boat ride out was really nice, we saw dolphins and blue-footed booby birds and their chicks at the islands!

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Ill fated boat trip, oh against my better judgement

We snorkeled a bit but I was freezing- the water was cold and kind of silty so it wasn’t great snorkeling so I swam back to the boat and hopped on a stand-up paddleboard. It was tough and tippy!

On our way back, we swam some more, had lunch and plentiful snacks, and ….my ultimate downfall, copious amounts of free flowing booze like pina coladas, margaritas, tropical drinks and shots. Jesus.

Anyways, you can see where this is going…I drank WAY too much, encouraged by the atmosphere and fun and I completely lost control. The minute I stepped off the boat and onto the bus to head back to Sayulita, I was throwing up uncontrollably. Ian gave me a water bottle and it fell uselessly out of my hands because I couldn’t even clutch anything.

Threw up out the window the whole way back, and we staggered to the plaza- we stopped there so Ian could go to the bathroom, and I proceeded to throw up over the back of the park bench in the middle of the day, bright sunlight. YUCK.

We staggered back to our place, and I was so sick I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom (yes puking in a bucket, please and thank you)…

Passed out apparently with my eyes open, creepily.

Threw up at night again.

Rinse, repeat.

So, Thursday was not a great day after but I rallied and we went to the beach and got a Chocobanana (great!) and I managed to eat some stuff later on. I wasn’t feeling too miserable, because I guess passing out at 5pm the day before gives you plenty of time to stew in your misery before getting it over with.

So, yeah I am kind of off booze for now, giving my poor liver and brain a break plus GAG.

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The endless summer of San Pancho

But, I LOVED Sayulita and San Pancho and would definitely go back. Love Mexico!

Leaving Rio, heading to Paraty: The last and final phase.

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Brazilian riders had these fabulous baroque Andalusians.

Sadly all fun things must come to an end…for us, that means leaving Rio, wrapping up our last Olympic sport (dressage) and hopping in a bus to head four hours out of the city to the Disneyland-beach town of Paraty (pronounced Para-chee, for some crazy Portuguese reason…).

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Art in motion!

When I say it is a Disneyland place, it’s because, compared with Rio, Paraty is just so..easy. Fun architecture, no cars really drive around in the old town, beaches galore, tons of adventure type stuff to do (kayak, snorkel, take party boats out, horseback ride, hike, taste cachaca). I would have LOVED to spend more time there, and was so sad when we had to leave.

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Kayaking!

When we arrived it was very chilly- brrr! The weather improved for our 1 full day there, and we went kayaking for 3 hours! I have never kayaked before in my life but it is pretty easy as it turns out. We went around the archipelago and into a mangrove swamp. We saw some land crabs there that are pretty big.

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Going through the mangrove swamp.

The restaurants in Paraty are excellent- we ate seafood stew from a cauldron type thing, and the day after a great feijoada- black bean stew with chunks of meat. YUM! As always, portion sizes were out of this world huge…

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Treacherous cobbles, but a very neat place.

And we were fortunate enough to be there during the Cachaca Festival! That’s right, cachaca any way you can drink it- I had it in hot chocolate in the evening, and in the daytime I had it in a slushy – your choice of frozen chocolate, coconut, tangerine. YUM!!!

I wanted to spend more time in Paraty- such a lovely place, quite busy but really lovely. Easy to get around it, safe, and totally cool. I miss it so much.

 

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River in front of our hotel.

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Very old Portuguese church. Look at how huge the door is!

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Life is too hard!

Life is too hard!

Gidget is getting all summered-out!

We’re taking a bit of a backseat to riding this week, as my family has been visiting for Canada Day. That means we’re doing a lot of fun stuff like stand-up-paddleboarding, visiting Merridale Cider, visiting the farm, watching me ride Oats (and getting a pony ride off him!) and eating in good restaurants.

Back at work today though, and I have a fun hangover. I’m tired! Like Gidget, I’m so tired haha.

And stand up paddleboarding was fun, but so easy- any moron could do it haha. I am a bit disappointed, as I thought it would be a harder core workout. I don’t really feel it in my abs today, but my pinkie finger hurts (fingie!).

The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday though…Ahhh…perfect day for it!

Summer lovin’