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 to the barn

I took two weeks off from riding when I was in Peru, but Oats had the lucky opportunity to have a few rides by my friend and her friend. Yes! Unfortunately, his canter sucked. It’s time for him to have a chiropractic adjustment, because a big tell for him is swapping his canter leads when asked for anything remotely more challenging that his ‘one canter’…

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I tested this when I got back and yep. High time for him to have a tune-up, as he was swapping right, left and centre! ARGH. He has an appointment this Wednesday.

But, the good news is that he was raring to go when I got back on-board. Yay! He’s still moving and feeling fine, and I had some fun rides back. I even rode the day I got back (very much NOT recommended, I was a zombie), but I missed him so much I couldn’t resist.

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We had our jumping lesson last night in the outdoor- first time for us this season and it *just* opened. I told Nicole to temper our expectations, ha because I wasn’t sure how it would go after taking two weeks off, and our first time in the outdoor. I should have just kept my mouth shut, because it went great!  Oats was super, and once we got through the course he started really flowing. He started off sticky and backed off (due to the change in footing I believe) but I was quite happy with how the course rode.

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Bonus: We now have rocks to jump, thanks to Nicole and Brenda buying jumps from the other trainer Karen. And Oats jumped them without any issues! Yessss!

It feels so so good to ride again. I always miss him when I am travelling 🙂

Peru adventure: Step 3 Machu Picchu~

Wow, where do I go from here? We left the jungle, spent a night in Iquitos, which is interesting and very much a frontier-town. We enjoyed margaritas (not great) and pisco sours (better) while chatting with a very friendly Dutch ex-pat who was in Iquitos writing a book. Cool eh?

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It was a very noisy town, tons of motos and tuk-tuks roaring around. We took one to the airport the next morning, headed to Cusco and eventually Machu Picchu! Flight was very bumpy which scared me, I hate turbulence. Once landing in Cusco, it became very apparent that both Ian and I had picked up a stomach bug- I blame Iquitos for mine, his was worse with a fever (jungle fever?).

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We then were greeted by our driver, who took is the 1.5 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we would hop on the Peru train to the town of Aguascalientes, which is the landing base for people going to Machu Picchu (if you are not hiking it).

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The drive was fine, despite our stomachs revolting… And then in town, we got the train and it’s actually quite nice! And it freaking better be, considering how much $$$ it costs for a 1.5 hour train ride to Aguascalientes. Once in Aguascalientes, I was stunned by how quiet the town is without any cars or anything. From the jungle to the mountains, Ian and I were a bit shell-shocked, and quite frankly, pretty sick.

We holed up in our hotel room (which was super noisy and weird, with like three beds in it…) but mostly clean? Had a miserable night of no sleep, and were up bright and early at like 6am to try to eat (nope) and get on the bus ($$$) to Machu Picchu. The bus takes 30 minutes of winding up hairpin turns to the mountain. It’s kind of scary too.

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Once up to Machu Picchu, we hauled ass to run to get into Waynapicchu, the ‘younger mountain’ that we had permits to hike up. They only let 200 people hike it per window (7-8am, and 10-11am). I can see why, it’s freaking rough at the top and it was so cloudy and foggy I couldn’t see how far, exactly, the plummet is!

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We huffed and puffed our way up Waynapicchu. I climbed on my hands and knees. It was cool but yeah, not doing that again.

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Once we came down, we then hired a guide to take us through Machu Picchu the right way. Well worth it, I think. We saw so many cool things, including a wild chinchilla! The views are breathtaking. If you do one great wonder of the world, I highly suggest Machu Picchu. It is a pain in the ASS to get to, but worth it if only once.

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Peru- the adventure of a lifetime! Step one: Lima & Radiohead

I actually put this off for a day since I’ve been back chiefly because I don’t even know where to begin! I will start by recapping my adventure from where we first landed- Lima, Peru.

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In Lima, we stayed in the Miraflores district. It’s a very safe, quite rich and fancy area in Lima. There are a lot of poorer areas, and one that is outright unsafe (at the airport, Callao, the port area). Lots of robberies, muggings, etc. But it’s easy to bypass by buying a safe bus ticket that leaves directly from the airport and it’s not an area you ‘wander in to’ by any chance.

We spent a few days in Miraflores in a very nice Air BnB that had a rooftop infinity pool, a ground floor pool and lots of sundecks. Really awesome. It was quite warm in Lima, as the sun really lazer beams down on people.

For our time in Lima, we visited the Pucllana Temple, which is right in the heart of Miraflores. It was very neat, and a cool way to learn about pre-Inca civilizations (there were so many, over 35?!).

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We then went to the historical old city part of Lima, and that was okay…It was kind of a bust tourist-wise because they just didn’t seem to be really set up for lounging at cafes or having cocktails, if you know what I mean? Just, nothing there to sit and enjoy. We did visit the San Francisco monastery, where they have very creepy catacombs. A reasonable price and a super interesting visit/tour through the catacombs. I highly recommend!

In the evening, we went to Barranco. Aside from Miraflores, people stay there. It’s really awesome- beautiful, quirky, funky, lots of people and restaurants and very safe. I loved it! There is also a brewery there, the Barranco Brewery.

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The next few days, we ran along the gorgeous Miraflores sea walk. They are very close to the South Pacific but it’s not a very friendly beachfront. There is no sand, just rocks and the highway runs right along next to it! The waves are also killer… And in the evening, we went to the Soundhearts Radiohead concert!!! WHOOP! The bus to the soccer arena was a flaming nigtmare, and I seriously wondered if I was going to get crushed to death. Yikes. I do NOT recommend taking the bus in Lima. It is a horrible experience.

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But anyways, we made it and the concert was SO GOOD. Radiohead played well to their audience, it wasn’t too crammed, and they had three encores. We left after the second, as I did not want to repeat the ‘crushed in a bus’ experience…But we still had time to listen to ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ which made it allll worthwhile….

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Corvina ceviche

And then it was up at 4am to catch a flight to our next adventure- Iquitos and the Amazon jungle. Stay tuned…

 

Wedding Week?!!

Yep, I was away for a week attending (and working at) my sister’s wedding! It was crazy!!

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To add to the madness, it was in Nakusp, a tiny town roughly 7.5 hours away from Vancouver, located in the Kootenays. My family has a long history there, so it was nice to re-visit it, as it had been about 15 years or longer since I’d been back.

We left last Thursday, after I ran a pretty fun (and lucrative!) track race on Wednesday night. Headed out on the first ferry, picked my friend up from the skytrain, and we were OFF!

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One very long drive later, two ferries, and we were in Nakusp. Only to immediately zip out again to check out these hotsprings (word to the wise: the road up to them is SO ROUGH and I do not advise taking a tiny Honda Fit there, at all. Yiiiiiiikes). Really nice though! Just so tough to drive up, and quite hazardous.

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Won the draw prize! Sweet Frontrunners swag!!

Then, my friend and I went on a run Friday morning and that was it for our free time. It was wedding, wedding and oh, wedding from then onwards….

 

Setting up the hall with chairs, tables, tablecloths (had to wrangle more from their owner), napkin settings, drinking glasses, decorations, so many decorations, lights, the candy buffet- I owned that one, ha- chair coverings, tulle bows, more decorations, balloons, swag, things that hang from the ceiling, flowers…

So yep, that ate up all Friday, and then we hosted the family get-together BBQ at the house my husband rented for us. It was great! We took down the BBQ, and I woke up the next morning to my sister yelling at our window to get up, and move chairs to the beach for the ceremony that was happening at 3 p.m….

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Backyard of the house we rented with a rainbow!

Chairs wrangled, and it looked really nice! Then it was off to get our hair & makeup done. That took FOREVER, ha. I was also working the phones for some real last-minute things (more wine, more lights, the ‘guest log’ that I literally pulled off the beach so people could sign it, needed a marker, helium balloons, etc etc).

Tiring but we made it to the ceremony and it was beautiful! And quick!

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Then it was photos for oh, close to 3 hours…I was STARVING. Ian had to run and grab M&M’s and granola bars from the nearby grocery store. Luckily everything is close together in Nakusp! We wrapped up the photos in a boat (ha, boats boats boats!!!), just as a storm blew in and the wind was something fierce.

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Boats boats boats!

We ran for cover in the nearby Leland Hotel, something of a dive but also the oldest hotel in B.C.! Grabbed beers and appies, and then I called my husband to drive us to the reception, haha. Once there, things smoothed out a bit, but there were a few funny moments…No wine glasses on the tables being one of them! The caterer forgot and had to rush back home to get them. Hahah!~ The DJ was also kind of a moron, and we couldn’t find him because he was wearing all black in a very dark hall. Jeesh! He also played a song OVER the slideshow my husband had made for the wedding, that HAD music. Stop the DJ, he’s out of control!!

Food was great, drinks were flowing, and the most important thing was that my sister had the best wedding of her dreams 🙂

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On the way back home, we stayed for a few days in Penticton. The weather sucked, but we made do with 3 winery visits and 3 brewery visits in one day!

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Okanagan Lake is drowning!

Superwoman and Wonder Dog

Twice at the gym I’ve had compliments comparing me to Supergirl, and Superwoman. By two separate gym regulars. Funny eh? Apparently they see something in me that makes them think I am made of iron?!

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria–I love this shot!

I was very flattered, both times, because most days I do not feel like Superwoman or anything like that. Yesterday was one of those times. I had an ‘ok’ work out at the gym, but have been feeling tired, draggy and a bit weaker than I normally feel. This translates to slower treadmill sprints, struggling to do pushups (10 reps instead of 15 or 20), not being able to shoulder-press 40 lbs, only 30lbs and it feels HARD…you get the picture.

I was also yawning the whole time. I am officially a gym boor.

I took last night off riding because Oats had two quite challenging lessons in a row, and I rode Monday as well, and let’s face it–I was tired, he was tired. Instead, I was planning on running a few kms from my house, and baking a bit (pumpkin scones!). A nice night, some relaxing, nothing big.

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This is actually the duffel bag it got lost in! 

Instead…

Next week we are going to Crab Fest in Port Angeles (yay!!) and I kept forgetting to dig out my passport. A colleague kindly agreed to text me a reminder for when I got home, so I could look for it. She texted me, I went to search for my passport right away, and …it was not there. EEEK. I immediately started freaking out.

In between coming back from Brazil, and moving, where did my passport go? Shit.shit shit. I had no idea where it was, things were not looking good. So we tore apart the house frantically searching. No luck. I started moping and crabbing, and we looked at options to cancel the trip. It was a dark time.

Because I was raging out, I decided I needed to get on my feet for a bit and get in that run I was planning to do. It was tough, I was feeling immensely cranky, surly and mad at myself. It did give me a bit of a clearer head, and I saw some beautiful sights- a parasailer going off the cliff to the ocean, in the sunset. So gorgeous.

I got home, still feeling pissed off, and was getting changed in the laziest way possible- in my walk-in closet. There I saw a big suitcase I had ripped through, that had a duffel bag in it. I figured, why the hell not, and I picked up the duffel bag and couldn’t open the pockets. I left that one, and opened the next pocket- BINGO!!!! All is saved! The trip is back on!

Apparently I had used the duffel bag to pack my clothes, and with them, my passport. I had unpacked my clothes and forgotten all about the passport when I moved. AH….

Supergirl loses her mind over a lost passport. It was bound to happen someday! Hahahah.

(Can you feel how glad I am it is Friday? I have my saddle fit appointment bright and early tomorrow morning too. Things are working out!).

I still think that the passport search had to happen in that distinct way, with the frustration, the run to work it out, and then the triumphant finding. Funny!

 

Creatures of Brazil: Phase 6

A trip to Brazil isn’t complete without the awe of seeing so many cool critters. We did see the larger capybara at the airport in Sao Paulo, but no photos sadly as we were whizzing by on a bus too fast to capture it!

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Meet Mr. Agouti!

Otherwise you will have to feast your eyes on these little guys: the agouti.

Much smaller than the capybara, the agouti- also referred to as the ‘common agouti’- sidenote does anyone find it strange they refer to these cool and unique animals as ‘common’? Like the ‘common’ marmoset I posted about earlier?

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They look like weird guinea pigs and are actually related to them but have longer legs and can pick things up with their front paws and sit on haunches, much like squirrels. In a large park in the middle of Rio, there were about a thousand of them. I’m not kidding. The park was absolutely crawling with agouti…homeless people…about a 100 cats…Ibis…and geese? They are apparently very fast and pretty good swimmers. They are also regarded as one of the only animals that can open Brazil nuts! Funny eh?

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Like squirrels at a feeding station.

It was a very strange and unusual experience for us.

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Look carefully at the top of the trees.

They all existed more or less in harmony? There was food put out for the animals in food stations, so I guess the city or whoever is okay with this little animal kingdom happening. In Costa Rica, the agouti are incredibly shy and I never saw one in the two times I visited. Go to the middle of a huge city and there they are! All over!

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There they are! Ibis on a mating display.