Rose on Toes meets Machu Picchu

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My first view of Machu Picchu.

Meeting Machu Picchu was the only thing I could think about my entire trip. Since my arrival day one in Lima I just wanted to be there. I wanted to see and intimately get to know the Pachamama.

The Inca’s are an illustrious bunch. It constantly amazes me how intelligent they are and were during the time when Machu Picchu was thriving. Considering the time period in which they built Machu Picchu which took place during the early 1500’s they seemed to know an awful lot more than I or many people today could ever hope to even try to understand. From their knowledge in the sciences such as Astronomy to their ridiculously intuitive engineering skills the Inca’s architecture today is still amazing to the worlds historians, scientists and archeologists.

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Me in front of Machu Picchu.

Looking around Machu Picchu I couldn’t help but wonder why? WHY WOULD THEY LEAVE? Why after so much work and life taking place there would they just up and leave such a beautiful place that seemed virtually untouchable and a place they called home. Well though there have been many conspiracy theories according to our tour guide it was due to their concern of being attacked by the spanish conquistadors. They got wind that they were chasing some other Inca’s and the Inca’s at Machu Picchu were concerned they would be found and killed so they left. Ultimately their decision to leave was what brought them their demise. Had they stayed at Machu Picchu they may have never been discovered but I suppose we will never know. 

The Inca’s were a peaceful people according to our guide. They did not want to fight. They simply wanted to live and be free just as every human deserves to be. They were not prepared for the cruelty that the spanish brought with them which led to their vanquishment and what I view as slaughter

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About to start hiking the mountain up to Machu Picchu

Though the end of the Inca Empire was a very sad one they left a beautiful history behind with ruins all throughout the Andes Mountains. Seeing Machu Picchu was by far my favorite part of the trip. Especially because instead of riding a bus up the mountain I hiked even after the serious discouragement of our tour guide. It was AMAZING and so worth it.

At pretty much a straight incline all the way up the mountain and in already way higher altitude than I am used to I feel so grateful that I was physically able to attempt and complete that journey. It was very meaningful to take a path that thousands, millions have taken before me in order to reach Machu Picchu and maybe even enlightenment. A woman hiked right along side us much of the way with what seemed to be her grandson. He said to us “ella es ochenta.” I translated in my head She was 80 years old! Hearing this made me feel so fucking pathetic for ever complaining about how hot, sweaty, dizzy or tired I was. This woman was so strong and empowered I felt her energy as she hiked up the mountain in her thick, fluffy pink dress. I felt strong now too. Though as I have stated before, I don’t consider myself a religious person, I can’t deny the magic of Machu Picchu. 

 

 

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The day I ALMOST flew

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I almost flew today. After trying on three separate days and occasions to try to fly (paragliding) I was not successful. I waited over 10 hours total to fly and be free but it wasn’t in the cards for me.

Yesterday alone I waited over 6 hours to fly being told more than three times “yes ok now you can fly” and then once again them saying “oh there is no wind now.” Finally right before close I got to get all geared up and attached to a pilot and parachute. Right as we gain some momentum and start to run to leap off the cliff the wind dies and it’s a no go. I was first in line the whole day and they sent other shorter, lighter people in front of me.

Though I was very disappointed and honestly quite upset (OK so maybe I cried) that I didn’t get to fly I can’t help but feel that it wasn’t meant to be.

The day that I left Chicago for Lima was a very rough day. Getting to a destination can be very stressful for me. I recently have had a lot of anxiety about certain things that never used to bother me. The tiniest things can trigger me and cause me to start sobbing and panic, and I feel as though I have no control over my emotions. When I first arrived at the Chicago O’Hare airport everything was going fine until I attempted to try to check in. The kiosk told me to wait for an attendant to come help me for nearly 10-15 minutes I waited and no one came to my rescue. Finally I decided to ditch the machine and try to find someone to help me.

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Eventually I was able to check in after much confusion. Then I headed to security. I had decided not to check a bag as I knew that it would only be added stress. Once going through airport security I headed to my terminal and then gate. I was over an hour early and felt very good about not having to worry about time. I decided to get some food and mess around on my laptop. When I sat down and opened my backpack I realized that my laptop was not in it. I FREAKED OUT. I immediately started crying and panicking. I grabbed my things and ran all the way back to the airport security crying. Along the way people saw and stared at me freaking out but I didn’t care I was sure I had lost my laptop forever. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me after all the stress I had been through before this trip even began with my passport arriving a day before I left, and my flight being cancelled the day before I left and having to reschedule it.

When I arrived at security still crying I asked the best I could if they had seen my laptop and they said YES! They then walked over to a locked shelf and took out my laptop. I was so relieved I was overcome still with being so freaked out that I didn’t know how to feel.

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Eventually I was able to calm down. Then I went back to my gate and boarded the plane ready to go to my layover before Lima, Peru in Houston. Until, my flight was delayed over two hours while we sat in the plane as they de-iced it. My layover in Houston was exactly two hours. As soon as I arrived in Houston I got off the plane as fast as I could to board my connecting flight. I ran to get to a whole different terminal and gate. I arrived there just as the last group was boarding and made it on my flight. AHH! So close.

Once I sat in my seat the woman I was sitting next to immediately appeared very beautiful to me. I called my mom on the phone knowing it would be the last time I would get to for my whole trip. Once again while I was talking to my mom I started crying reflecting on what a stressful couple of days it had been. She reassured me that the worst was over now and that I had made it and everything from here on out would be OK. Though I knew there was no way she could really know that it still felt good to hear.

After the flight attendant came up to me telling me to hang up the phone the woman next to me started speaking with me. She asked me, “Is this your first time traveling alone?” I answered, “Yes,” as I wiped away the tears falling down the sides of my face.

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She responded by reassuring me more that I was doing great so far and again that everything would be OK. She was very understanding and said that traveling alone for the first time and being so young was extremely brave. She began telling me about all the these journeys she has been on alone all around the world. I was fascinated and captivated. I began to develop a deep admiration for her and what she has done and the person she has become because of all of her experiences.

I admired her strength. I admired her sense of adventure and curiosity. She then began to speak about how her adventures have affected her spiritually. She said, “I don’t know if you are religious or anything but there are some experiences in life and things that happen to me that really make me realize that nothing is a coincidence, everything happens for a reason.”

She said that my flight being late and all of these different things that had made getting here so difficult for me all happened for a reason. I couldn’t help but think about how I could feel myself growing stronger after facing and dealing with each difficulty.

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Getting all geared up though I never flew.

After I calmed down and got over the initial disappointment of not getting to paraglide I begrudgingly began to think about how perhaps I didn’t get to fly for a reason too. Obviously, partially due to legal safety issues with the wind not being strong enough. But perhaps had I been able to something terribly wrong would have happened.

Though I am not a religious person I don’t really believe in coincidences. There have been too many things that have happened to me where I realized if this horrible thing had never happened to me I never would have gotten to this other extremely amazing thing or person.

So even though I didn’t get to fly and I am still very disappointed I just need to remind myself at that specific time it wasn’t meant to be and maybe at a later date I will get to experience the wonderful thrill of flying. I guess being tall and beautiful is a crime. Oh well. I tried.

Things and people left behind

I miss the familiar. I miss my silly college air mattress bed with my 3 inch Tempur-Pedic foam pad on top. I miss the thick, dense, powerful and cleansing waterfall my shower produced that left me feeling clean for days. I miss twisting the nobs on my faucet and putting my toothbrush underneath it. I miss opening my mouth in the shower and feeling the hot water envelop my face and trickle down my throat.

I miss waking up next to the warmth of another person with all of our blankets holding our body heat in knowing that once we leave the bed all the warmth will escape us and the only thing left to do is start our day at six in the morning. I miss the bike ride back to my apartment in the crisp, cold air with each traffic light we stop at and gaze over at each other. I miss stopping for doughnuts and seeing the beautiful woman in the shop look at us with contentment and a sweet smile as we say goodbye to each other with a kiss…or two until suddenly we are apart on our own way to greet the day alone. I miss the difficulty and the pleasure I get from riding hard to get back to the warmth and security of my apartment passing several cars, buses and other cyclists along the way.

I miss my kitchen where I really do very little cooking but the cooking that I do, do is made just the way I like it. I miss the process of making and drinking tea. Grabbing the tea kettle off of the left back burner on the stove and holding it under the sink twisting the faucet nob so that water begins to rush and pool in the bottom of the kettle. Then placing it on the stovetop and hearing that “snap, crackle and pop!” Of the gas stove lighting the flame. The beautiful tones of oranges, yellows and especially the blues and violets that woosh out under and over the kettle and its sides. Then only minutes later the soft gentle whirring and purring of the water beginning to bubble, fizz and eventually boil.

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My English Breakfast tea and green graphic mug.

Seconds after the whistle starts low and quiet until it’s reached a raging high pitched squeal.

Finally I must grab a hot hand onto the too-hot-to-touch handle to pour the water into my beautiful mug with a graphic green design on it with trees that he gave me. I put a spoonful and a half of loose leaf english breakfast tea in the strainer over the mug and pour the water directly over it, as the steam begins to rise and the comforting smell of home rises along with it.

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Me drinking my tea and feeling the warm steam rising.

Peruvian food has got me smitten

Stuff avocado that is vegetarian! MMM.

Stuff avocado that is vegetarian! MMM.

That’s right.

The food is so so so good. I was worried about not finding enough vegetarian options when I came to Peru but I have quickly realized that isn’t really an issue here. Not only is there a plethora of options for me almost everywhere I go but the food is AMAZING. Potatoes, mayonnaise, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, cheese, tomatoes, onions, yuca, peppers, corn, cauliflower the list goes on. Regardless of where I go my taste buds are screaming YES.

So much food for only 10 soles! The lunch special at Govirda.

So much food for only 10 soles! The lunch special at Govirda.

About 6 months ago I was diagnosed gluten intolerant. Though I was able to remain gluten free for about 4 months it has been really hard for me as I am a vegetarian in addition to maintain my diet of no gluten. As of recently I have started adding gluten back into my diet in small doses, however, now that I have been in Peru I sort of just let the fact that I was gluten intolerant go and just eat all the glutens! POOR PLAN. My stomach has been rejecting my plan and is not very happy with me.

MMM! Ate this yummy meal watching the sunset cliffside in Barranco.

MMM! Ate this yummy meal watching the sunset cliffside in Barranco.

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Sweet potato blondie that blew my mind!

Even though I have been suffering through my symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, stomach pains/ cramps, dry and itchy skin, I have been loving the food. It is just so irresistible!

Chai tea latte. So good.

Chai tea latte. So good.

Fish con leche! One of my fellow classmates enjoyed this beauty!

Fish con leche! One of my fellow classmates enjoyed this beauty!

Lima surfer beach party…yeah

“What should we do today?” I asked pondering the options in front of me. I was getting sick of walking back and forth down the same streets. Things were starting to feel familiar, which felt really bizarre. “Well we haven’t gone down to the water yet?”

So it began.

The ocean peaking through as we are coming around the corner.

The ocean peaking through as we are coming around the corner.

We made the descent down the side of the cliffs separating us from the rest of the city and separating the rest of Lima from the beach and the Pacific Ocean. We began walking down at a slight decline slowly going around a gradual turn. Once we reached the ark on the other side sat the ocean vast in size and absolutely beautiful. It was calling to me. “This was a really good idea,” Delaney said to me as we approached closer. I heard the click clicks of her camera behind me over and over again.

There were so many flights of stairs and some of them were really steep.

There were so many flights of stairs and some of them were really steep.

So many stairs. This was going to hurt on the way back up again. But I didn’t care. The ocean was whispering to me to come closer. It said to get away from the obnoxious noise of the city car alarms, honks, cat-calls and listen to the welcoming ocean breeze and waves of the tide rolling in and out, drawing me in and out.

I neared closer breathing in what felt like much fresher air. My hair blew around in my face as I cleared it away from my eyes so I could see that yes, this was real. I was here in front of this massive body of water so infinite in possibilities that we know less about it’s contents than outer space.

Finally crossing a bridge over a highway to get to the beach.

Finally crossing a bridge over a highway to get to the beach.

Finally we reached the beach. I went and sat and started filming the surfers and the instructors. One of them walked up to me and started talking to me about who I was and where I was from. I explained everything to him and he was very friendly. He even offered me a free surfing lesson!

Surfers and instructors preparing to go out into the ocean.

Surfers and instructors preparing to go out into the ocean.

After hanging out with the instructor and his friends for a little while talking to them about studying journalism amongst other things Delaney and I decided to travel onward until l looked up and saw people flying.

FLYING!

They were paragliding. I needed to do this right now. So Delaney and I ventured back up the cliffside and I was right. The stairs did suck. There were so many of them! By the time we reached the top the para gliders were closing up shop. But I definitely intend on trying again tomorrow morning before my trip to Barranco.

Regardless I got to see great views and meet great people.

Convento de San Francisco’s beautiful secrets

We rode in taxis from Miraflores to downtown and were dropped of at the Lima Convento de San Francisco. A beautiful old church, which we explored the inside of and underneath. Underneath the church rests over 25,000 human remains of the catholic community from that time before the first public cemetery was built.

Beautiful, old cathedral enveloped my first view.

Beautiful, old cathedral enveloped my first view.

Not only was the church very beautiful but the peruvian people surrounding it. Children would run around chasing the pigeons away only for them to fly right back again for the children to chase them some more.

This adorable little girl was chasing and feeding the pigeons.

This adorable little girl was chasing and feeding the pigeons.

The cathedral was very beautiful but held many secrets inside that we were not allowed to photograph. Upon entering we were told, “no photos, no video, no exceptions.” But I was able to sneak a few, though not very good photos they at least give you a glimpse of the inside!

The beautiful courtyard in the middle of the cathedral. (Shh it’s a secret!)

The cathedral was filled with hidden rooms, beautiful hand painted tiles that took 19 years to do, an old library with hundreds of years old books, high and intricate ceilings. Everything was done with such detail and care.

Intricately done ceiling in the secret cathedral.

The catacombs were beautifully disturbing. I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to photograph down there though I was very moved. The ceilings were low and you were surrounded by walls of dirt. Everywhere you looked there were bones to be seen. It felt partially wrong for us to be observing people in their final resting place. All that was left to see was bones but they were everywhere and of all different parts of the body. It’s like when you know that you shouldn’t look because it’s wrong, but you can’t stop watching.

Once we left the catacombs we entered the church part of the tour. Here we were finally allowed to photograph.

Floor view of the front of the church.

The beautiful ceiling inside of the church.

Overall the tour was both beautiful and slightly disturbing. I immediately washed my face after leaving the catacombs feeling like I had taken some of those people that were down there with me. The peruvian people tend to leave me slightly stunned by the beauty.

A local woman sitting outside in front of the church.

A local woman sitting outside in front of the church.

Floor view of the front of the church.

Floor view of the front of the church.

My night in Barranco, Lima

Walking along the cliff looking over the coast and the infinite ocean.

Walking along the cliff looking over the coast and the infinite ocean.

The night began by walking what we were told would only be a half-hour walk but realistically took our group at least an hour or so (the camera obsessed group we are.) We walked what seemed miles of beautiful coastline right at sunset. The sun still shot through the clouds at the beginning of our walk and said goodbye while we walked along the coast to welcome the moon, which would guide and remain the rest of the night.

Though you can’t see any stars in Lima due to all of the light pollution, it is some of the most beautiful light pollution I have ever seen. The city glowed yellow against the black of the night and the black of the dark ocean that felt so consuming. Cars zoomed past and sounds of beep beeeeep could be heard in the growing distance between us and the busy roads as we walked along the cliff side view of the coast.

View of the cars passing by with their glowing lights and  honking horns.

View of the cars passing by with their glowing lights and honking horns.

Once we finally began to reach the Barranco district we still had a bit of a walk ahead of us. We passed by several more buildings and walked numerous more blocks.

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Arriving in the Barranco district in Lima.

After finally arriving at our destination in Barranco, The Bridge of Sighs I was overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. There were so many beautiful people who seemed to be so happy and in love. Couples suddenly seemed to surround me.

A romantic restaurant with beautiful wooden details that looked over the Bridge of Sighs.

A romantic restaurant with beautiful wooden details that looked over the Bridge of Sighs.

It seemed as though every man and woman had traveled from all over the city to be at this romantic spot with which they felt naturally inclined to kiss each other like no one else was there. It was very crowded I heard many people sharing laughs with their drinks in this restaurant that overlooks the romantic cliff of couples. In a gazebo like look off point couples gathered around cuddling while standing up straight.

One man and woman shared a bench. The man provided himself as a large pillow and the woman used him accordingly. She leaned back on his chest with the rest of her body sitting in between his legs as they were wrapped and sprawled out around her. I saw the man whispering in her ear and I could just imagine the words he must have been telling her. “You are so beautiful, you are my love. I want only you. I need only you.” He pulled back the hair that was draped over her right ear with his hand and pressed his lips softly against her ear as he kissed it and continued to whisper to her.

With his other hand he half huged her but not half-heartedly. Soft spanish guitar played in the background as the ocean far in the distance smelled of salt, a good pairing for the tropical beverages people in the restaurant were consuming as the volume began to rise due to their consumption.

A beautiful little church by the romantic cliff side.

A beautiful little church by the romantic cliff side.