Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ridin' Solo

So what was planned as a three month single country trip has turned into a seven month who-knows-how-many-countries journey.

I'm in Peru now, hence the change in the title of my blog (the old one was a little overdramatic anyway).

I left my laptop in Quito with the Susongs because it's too heavy to carry around, which means that now I have to pay for a lot of the internet I use, which means my blog posts won't be as extensive anymore after this. Hopefully they will be a little more frequent though.

I set out from Quito on December 8th, and after a much longer than planned goodbye visit in Salasaca, a stop for the night in Alausi, and about twelve hours on the road, I arrived in Loja and bought my ticket for the bus that would take me across the border to Piura, Peru. I had to wait in the bus station for 11pm to arrive, which was several hours, during which I survived a mini loneliness breakdown with the help of a long facebook chat with Molly Vejvoda. She's literally the best.

The nine-hour bus ride across the border started at 11pm sharp on December 9th, and thankfully it was much easier to sleep on a bus than I was expecting. I didn't wake up until the bus stopped a couple hours later and all of the foreigners had to get off and show some people our passports, and then later when we arrived at the border at about 4:30am. We all got off the bus, filled out some forms, had our passports stamped, and then walked across a bridge with a sign above it saying "Welcome to Peru." We got stamped again on the other side and then the bus came over to pick us up.

When I woke up the next time all of the mountains I had called home for three months were gone and we were driving through a flat and sandy landscape. We arrived in Piura at about 7:30am, I shared a taxi to my next bus station with a fellow American I had found, and then got on the bus to Chiclayo. Later a friendly Chiclayo local and her elderly uncle found me in an internet cafe with all of my things and practically dragged me from hostal to hostal until they found one with hot showers and talked the price down for me, and I spent the afternoon relaxing and exploring a little and enjoying not being on a bus.

The following day I took the first bus out to Trujillo, and after a few hours and an overpriced taxi to Huanchaco, I met Carlos ("Pinky"), my first couchsurfing friend. He took me on a tour of the little beachside town of Huanchaco, where I had only planned on staying one night, but ended up staying three because there were so many cool things to do. I learned how to Salsa a little, biked to the Chan Chan ruins, went sandboarding on some dunes in Laredo, and also visited the Huacas de Moche ruins. Pinky was an awesome host, super friendly and outgoing and a great tour guide. He knew nearly everyone in the whole town by name and went out of his way to make my time there really fun. Hopefully proof to all you skeptics that when used with caution, couchsurfing is not dangerous!;)

I left Trujillo on December 14th and arrived in Huaraz at about 7:30am the next morning. I took a taxi to my next couchsurfing friend Frank's place, a hostel and tour agency called AndesCamp. I was only planning on staying here two or three days, but ended up staying eight because Frank made me feel so at home and introduced me to some awesome friends, Eric and Wilder. Huaraz is a beautiful place surrounded by stunning mountains, and during my stay there Eric (an official mountain guide) took me ice climbing and on a gorgeous trek to the crystal blue Laguna 69. We had a lot of fun together and after a week I felt like I had known these guys for years. They made me a part of their Mountain Project Peru Team as the U.S. contact and Spanish/English translator, so if you or someone you know wants to be a sponsor or needs any translating let me know! We also have a facebook page so if you want to show some love give us a like here.

I left Huaraz on December 23rd on an overnight bus to Lima, and then from there made the 22-hour winding bus journey into the mountains again to Cusco. I arrived on Christmas day and found an internet cafe where I had a nice skype call with my family and then with my friend Florian from Salasaca, and then walked around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco city and the surrounding area. Cusco is probably my favorite city I've been to so far, it's beautiful and happy and the Christmas decorations made it even better.

The next day I made my way towards San Salvador to the Suyai Wari project house, where I was planning on spending six weeks as a volunteer, it was about forty-five minutes outside of Cusco city. Surprisingly I didn't have any trouble finding it even though its literally in the middle of nowhere. There I met Enrique and Aybe, the directors of Suyai Wari, a handful of other volunteers from around the world, and a terrifying monkey with a grudge against all females. Duncan, a nice older Scottish man, showed me around the house that first day. It's two hundred years old and was originally a monastary. It was huge and had a lot of interesting side rooms and passageways, and one room that used to be a sanctuary and still has a lot of old Catholic ceremonial things laying around.

I spent a nice four days there playing with the local kids, going on nearby treks to Inca ruins, and eating delicious vegetarian food. Then on December 30th I took a bus back to Cusco city to meet Frank, Wilder and Eric, who had come all the way down from Huaraz to spend New Years with me. With them was Christina, a new French friend who was also found through couchsurfing. Together we had an awesome time in Cusco for a few days, and then somehow they ended up carrying me off with them on the rest of their trip around Peru. I didn't mind, but in the rush to buy our bus tickets, go back to Suyai Wari to get my things, and leave Cusco, I lost my debit card. And so after several days hopping around from Arequipa to Paracas to Lima, I'm back up north in Huaraz again waiting for my new one to arrive.

So that's the update, sorry it was so long in coming! It's hard to condense nearly two months of traveling into one post, so I'll have to tell you guys more of the details when I get back in March. Believe it or not I'm actually starting to look forward to going back to the US, the homesickness has slowly started creeping in.



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