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 🙂

Riding with feel

Had a lesson last night, and because I am leaving very shortly on a big trip, I kept it quiet and low-key, ie- no jumping, just flatwork. Which, to be honest, can always use more work, ha.

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Ian with a strange tree in our neighbourhood.

Oats was really good, and it was a chill lesson where we worked more on riding with ‘feel’ and I found myself very able to be ‘focused on the feel’ rather than trying to force it or move on to the next best thing. One issue I have with anxiety and horseback riding is always looking for the next moment, movement, jump, turn, etc. Never on what is happening ‘now’. And you can imagine how this makes my body contort around corners, turns, etc., because I am not present in the moment.

So, this lesson was very nice because it was not an exhilarating thrill-ride of adrenaline, which for me jumping usually is. I was much more present and ‘feeling’ my way through the ride. No drama and I couldn’t even quantify it as ‘good or bad’ it was just a better way to be present through my body and my horse.

Unfortunately I tweaked something in my leg/hamstring yesterday running and so that was bugging me greatly. SIGH. I am on a hair-trigger for injuries right now and this is NOT helping. And the weather just sucks right now too- rainy, cold, windy. Rinse, repeat.

Love spring? Haaa. C’mon warm weather, I am coming for you soon!

Arcade Fire and a weekend in Vancouver

Spent the weekend (another long one, lucky me!!) in Vancouver going to see the Arcade Fire show at the Pacific Coliseum. It was GREAT! We sadly showed up super late (arghhh) because we wanted to grab a beer at Parallel 49- an East Van brewery first. So we did, and it was crazy packed, and then when we went to catch the bus to the venue, no bus came…

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And we waited…and waited. UGH!

Finally it showed up and we had missed the opening act (Phantogram) and at least two songs by Arcade Fire. Bummer!! But the show itself was really amazing. The light show was super technically well done, and kept the audience riveted. They also played very heavy from Suburbs as well as Funerals so I was very happy with that!

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We stayed at the Sutton Place hotel (love it, don’t love that they charge $14+ for wi-fi!!) and we ate, oh boy did we eat…

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Nuba- La Feast. Highly recommend!! So much food and so great.

Brunch at Chambar– I had the Belgian waffle with milk chocolate lavender sauce, as well as a rosewater-orange-pistachio mocha, and fruit, yogurt and granola. YUM! So filling too.

Snack: Soft Peaks Chocolate Mudslide with Tim Tams.

Drinks: Beer at Parallel 49 and more beer/cocktails at the Alibi Room. Very cool!

We had a great weekend, the weather was cold but nice on Sunday. Everything went very smoothly with my dogsitter thank GOD and the ferries and Oats, and well, all of it! A nice time to get away. 🙂

Your Best American Girl

So, yeah. What happened was…

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  • I got deployed to assist with wildfire emergency communications in Prince George again. So, two weeks out of my summer were up there.
  • When I got home, I was immediately on vacation, that started horribly and tragically. It wasn’t good.
  • Got back from vacation, and still had some time off, so I mourned Buster, rode Oats, rode in a lesson, prepared for a dressage show on Saturday, and rode in a polo ‘slow chukka’
  • And now I am back at work, with a dressage lesson tonight, a successful dressage show in the books, and a polo night tomorrow, with jumping on Thursday.

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The show went super well, it was just a scored ‘ride a test’ where you ride the test, the judge comes out to run you through some exercises based on what she saw during the test, and then you had an opportunity to try the test again, maybe improve on what you worked on.

I did Training 2 & 3, and this time I finally had the correct Training 3 test (unlike last time, where I was kind of a disorganized mess…) and things went SO well. Oats was a tad spooky in the beginning but it was easily worked through and he gave me some really quality and consistent work.

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And our tests were scored fairly, the judge was so nice and very complimentary. She said we should be doing First Level, so I am going to talk to my dressage trainer tonight to see what she says. I was immensely flattered! Just to think, Oats and I getting these kind comments!

I’ve really been basking in kind judge comments. Our first dressage show of the season, the judge even wanted to know what kind of pony Oats was! 🙂

For a girl that prefers jumping, I am starting to wonder if I should be taking dressage a little more seriously or what these days? I am seeing some real progress with Oats in it.

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!

Christmas aftermath

Man, so many things. Good and bad. I enjoyed my time off, considering I was in a spectacularly grouchy/depressed mood, I was in a WAY better mind frame to celebrate.

We went to Ucluelet for a few days to decompress before the family madness began, and then celebrated Christmas Eve at my husband’s parents farm, which was nice. We then had Christmas breakfast and then Christmas dinner at MY parents, which was also good. My gifts were lovely, my husband got me everything I wanted and I really loved the cool and unique gifts my sister, parents and stable friends gave me. WOW so generous!

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Yes I am wearing a grumpy cat Xmas sweater! Featuring new boots for Oats, love them so much.

I also did some Boxing Day shopping and bought myself another pair of running shoes (I know I know, I have like 10 pairs now..eek) and some cool funky clothes (I also have too many of those, haha).

I ate too much, went to two parties in one night, drank too much (again) and ran a lot and also rode Oats five days in a row, gave him three days off, and now tonight will be day 4 in a row he gets ridden! That pony gets a lotta love, gotta say it, haha. He also enjoyed a home-made cookie from one of the girls are the barn and he gobbled it up in RECORD time.

No Xmas is complete without some holiday drama, and it led me to realize my new year’s resolution is to not whitewash what I want out of life. Not whitewash WHO I am anymore.

I will finish with this- as I go into the new year, I’m planning on setting the slate clean with a few people (my parents). I want to go into a fresh year unencumbered by people’s expectations of me.

I have a dog, horse, rabbit and husband because I love and cherish all of them, and they all add value and joy to my life. I would never presume anyone needed any of those items or animals to make their lives whole. This is my experience.

Please do not assume I need children to make my life whole. That is your experience. I do not need convincing, judgement, argument or debate to ‘make me change my mind’. I don’t think everyone needs a dog, horse or husband to fully experience life–why do people think that about kids? Just stop.

In 2017, I am going to be clear about what I want with the people I love and am closest to. If that means they are upset with me, so be it. I am going to focus on what is most important to me, and maintain my priorities and my sense of self the only way I know how- with resolve and resolution.

So, I guess that’s my NYE resolution right there. I also really want to start planning my next exciting big trip and can’t figure out where I want to go/do next. Africa maybe??