Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yeah yeah, it's been awhile

So, I think everyone knows by now that I'm terrible at keeping a blog. I think the last thing I wrote was about Huacachina and Ica. Well, I've done quite a lot since then. First of all, the job I started I really like. The people are great and I have constantly been given more and more responsibility, which I love BUT I wish the pay would show it a little better. Anyhow, after awhile, I realized that my Spanish wasn't advancing like I wanted it to and that speaking English at work all day wasn't helping anything. So I gave them my two week notice. They were surprised, as was I, and were trying to think of creative ways to get me to stay. In the end, I told them they needed to speak to me in Spanish and asked to be moved to a different position where I would be in more contact with speaking Spanish. They were OK with that and have been thinking of options. I have a meeting with them this Saturday to hopefully get things figured out.

OK to rewind a bit to catch up with the traveling I've done. About a month and a half ago, I went to Iquitos, a city in the Amazon, with Abby, two girls who live with me (Carolin and Deanna) and two German guys. It was sooo much fun! We arrived in Iquitos, then took a little boat on the Amazon River two hours south of the city. We arrived in this tiny village called "Centroamerica." It was seriously in the middle of nowhere in the jungle. It was great. We stayed in a little hut with no running water and slept under mosquito nets. Thank GOD for mosquito nets. I got bit to crap even with them. I don't ever want to imagine how it would have been without. Anyhow, we went on night walks through the jungle, where we saw tarantulas, scorpions, giant frogs, tiny frogs, and other really crazy creepy crawlers. Our guide, who went by his jungle name of 'Mono' (monkey), at one point caught one of the giant frogs we saw. He asked if anyone wanted to hold it and, of course, I jumped at the opportunity. It was huge!!!! I was holding it and it was so interesting. Another guy asked to hold it, but as he was holding it, we hear a high pitched scream and he drops the frog and it quickly hops into the foliage. We quickly realize that it was not, in fact the man who screamed. It was the frog! Weird!! The man, Egbert, dropped the frog because of the sound that came out of it.

Before I go any further, I have to comment on this Egbert guy. Technically his name is Egbert and he comes from Amsterdam. But, we liked to call McCain (sorry to all you McCain fans) because he basically sucked. He was always grouchy and constantly told us that every country was shit, except for Bolivia. Whatever Amsterdam boy, go to Bolivia and leave the rest of us alone.

Enough of the rant. So anyhow. Later, as we were walking, we saw another large frog, albeit this one wasn't as large as the first. But our guide said, hey look here's another frog, anyone want to get it? Oh yeah! I caught it! But, as soon as I caught it and held it up for everyone to look at, it began to pee. This wasn't just a tinkle. This was a waterfall. It was incredible how much liquid came out of this frog....and onto my hand. Gross. But kids, Auntie Erin did NOT let go of that frog! I held on like a champ and showed that Kermit that he could taint my hand as much as he wanted but he wasn't going anywhere. No one else wanted to hold it afterwards, though. Go figure. :P

If you look at the picture, you can see the frog pee on the ground. Hmmmm.

So, other than the night walks and the adventures that came with those, we also went fishing for piranhas and held a baby cayman *small alligator* in our mouths. :)

All in all, the Amazon rocks. Absolutely loved it.

Well, after the Amazon, a few weeks later of course, I went on a two week trip with the two German guys that went to Iquitos with us. We flew from Lima to Arequipa. While in Arequipa, we went to Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon is the world's deepest canyon. Not the steepest though. It was interesting, but to be honest I was expecting to be more wowed by it. Oh well. It was still cool and I saw the largest bird in the world!!! The condor! It was interesting too. After Arequipa, we flew to Puno. Well, technically we flew to Juliaca, then took a bus to Puno. Once in Puno, we got in a boat and put putted along to different islands on Lake Titicaca. The first islands we stopped at were floating islands. Yes, floating. They were made from reeds grown in the lake. The reeds are stacked so thick that they can support not only people, but also houses. The funniest thing though, was that families lived on the same island, but when they got into family feuds, they would get their distance by cutting the reeds *aka the floor* between their house and the other family members and they would push off. Haha, "Abby, I'm mad at you. I'm going to float away." Hilarious. The next island we stopped at we got off the boat and stayed with a family. The families on this island were very very poor. No running water. No electricity. After Puno and the lake, we next went to Cuzco. Unbelievable.

Alright, so I guess I should explain the pictures you're about to see. The first is what we saw when we first got off the plane in Arequipa. On the ground, you can see that the ground was decorated with Inca designs, etc. I think they were arrranged with flowers. We couldn't get up close enough to know for sure, but that's my guess. Next, you'll see the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa. So far, my favorite plaza. Then, a lookout point on our way to Colca Canyon. Yes, then I'm kissing an alpaca. Very gentle. Next, Incan and pre incan ruins. The pile of rocks I'm behind signify something, but I can't remember. Ha, just kidding. The guys I was with, Christian and Frederic, and I built that. It's an Incan tradition, a way of asking for good health, luck, etc. Uh huh, cactus in my mouth, and no, I didn't get pricked. Why? Cause I'm awesome, that's why. Get over it. ;P The plateaued land is an irrigation technique. They level off the land to be able to farm, and then the water also trickles down from one platform to the next. Clearly, there are lots of other measures taken, but that's the gist of it. Then Frederic and I at the Plaza de Armas again. Then, me in a boat at the floating islands. The very modest bed in a very modest room was where I slept for the weekend while staying with the poor family I mentioned earlier. The children dressed in colorful outfits is in a tiny town called Yanque. It's a traditional dress and they are dancing...for tourists. Sorry, it's the truth, but nonetheless interesting. Next we've got a pretty view, then mate de coca (coca leaf tea). It's supposed to help with altitude sickness. We drank it fairly often to prevent any nausea. The natives encouraged us to do it, they just failed to mention that it tastes like crap. Ew gross. They also had us chew on the leaves and suck the juice that comes out. Oh man, H O R R I B L E! Oh and I then found out that if I have a blood test taken in the near future to test for drugs. I'll probably fail thanks to this little plant. It's the one used to produce cocaine. Good thing cocaine includes lot of chemical processing or I might have become an addict. haha Kidding. Next picture, me being excited to be in such a beautiful place--and showing that excitment by sitting in the middle of the road? Don't ask. Who knows. Still like the pic though. The bird you see is Colca Canyon's famous condore. It came out to greet us as we were admiring the canyon. I like raging rivers and yes, I tend to jump out to the far rocks just for a picture. Sorry mom. Just don't think about it. Who's the guy? Shane West. Who's that, you ask? Remember the main male character in A Walk to Remember? That's him. They were doing a film in the market place in Cuzco. I was told two different names. So, it's either "Dorado" or "Jack the Hunter." Aaand, I paid to hold an eagle. It was cool! hah. Then, there's a beautiful view. The next few are at Machu Picchu. Peru's world wonder. And what a wonder it is!! Absolutely breathtaking. Once again mom, sorry about the taking risks and jumping out to lone rocks and random walls on the edge of the mountain. Made for killer and unique views though! After Machu Picchu, we've got more marketplace photos. This place was gigantic! They sold anything you could think of and then more. We sat down and had a smoothie. Yummy. That's why my tongue's hanging out of my mouth. Fresh, natural fruit juice. When we ordered what we wanted, the lady had to run to the different fruit stands and buy the fruits. haha. That's one way of doing it. The last photo is a distant view of the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco. Overall, the trip was a success. Had some troubles, but in the end it all worked out and we saw some incredible sights. Next goal: eat cuy. (guinea pig for those who are wondering). I know I know, I've been in Peru almost 4 months now and still haven't tried it. I'm scared, OK? haha. I'll eat it before I leave though.....hopefully. Ok that's all for now folks. And seeing how I'm so great at keeping this thing updated, it'll probably just be the last entry before I go home. I leave for the states in 15days. exactly. Can't wait to see everyone!!! oh and ps, I'm currently searching for jobs here so I can come back in March for another few months. :) Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peru, I´m getting to know you

Sooo, I arrived in Lima, Peru about 2 1/2 weeks ago (August 10 to be exact). I arrived in the middle of the night, thanks to an unexpected delay in New York, Newark Airport. We were on the runway, ready to leave when the pilot comes on and says that there´s a storm in Jersey, so we couldn´t leave until it settled down. They turned off the plane and we sat on the runway for more than two hours. Just before we left, we decided to quickly try and call home to have them inform Abby´s host family to send a taxi at a later time than originally planned. Since we only thought of that literally 30 seconds before we were finally taking off, there wasn´t time to tell them my email address, etc to contact the people who were sending a taxi for me. Which, unfortunately, resulted in me paying double the amount that Abby paid and still about twice as much as a Peruvian would have paid at any given time. I had to pay 100 soles, which is about 33 dollars which, for a 20 minute taxi ride, still isn´t bad, but for Lima standards, was out of this world. Oh well, that´s the way it goes I guess.

Anyhow, arrived in Lima, got to our respective new homes, and got some much needed rest. The next day, I spent organizing my room and getting ready to explore Lima. After being here for a couple of days, I had met all of the 20?? people that live in the same hostel as I and had also gotten a small map of the blocks around my, what I will now refer to as my house. Grocery shopping, exploring and all the normal things followed. I also met Abby´s family and told them that I was going to begin searching for a job. That night, they gave Abby a jobs listings paper with a few interesting options circled. I emailed those places and got a response back that day from one located in the city center. They wanted to interview me the next day bright and early! Ahhh! I don´t know my way around the city!!! So, I found my way, clumsily, to the interview, they hired me on the spot and I began training that day. My job is to train people on English comprehension and how to use a specific software program utilized in the job. So, basically they have to go through me and my three co-trainers in order to be hired on for the job. The business works with transcribing voice mail messages into text messages so that you can recieve your voicemails without having to take the time to check your voicemail. It comes as a text, nice and easy, to your cell phone and you can quickly read it. It´s a simple idea, but one that´s taking flight all over the US, Europe, Canada, and South Africa. Interesting, eh?

So, I´ve been working in the job now for about two weeks and I really like it. Besides that, I´ve been working at finding flights back to Brazil to visit, with no luck so far. The flights I´ve found are not only extremely expensive, but they fly first to Miami, Florida, and then back down to Brazil! Yeah right, I´m not flying for 15 hours just to get to Brazil. I might as well take a bus and take in some scenery for that kind of travel time. Yuuuck. I´m still looking though.

This past weekend, Abby and I, along with about 58 other people, went with this hostel in another part of the city and drove to a city called Ica. From Ica, we took vans to this small lake called Huacachina, which is surrounded by restaurants, hostels, and desert!! We took dune buggy rides through the desert and stopped three times to go sandboarding. We went, head first on our stomachs down huge sand dunes, while laying on a smaller version of a snowboard. It was soooo much fun!! In total, I think I spent about $65-70 US. It was really cheap! That included the excursion, the hostel, all our food and a club + drinks on Saturday night. Not too shabby, huh?

Hopefully, our next trip will be the Amazon. We´re trying to get there before their rainy season hits, which will be starting before too long. Yikes!!! Keep the mosquitos away!

Soo, until next time...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Arrival in Peru

ok, sooo first day info. here it goes. today, i unpacked, organized my room, got a better tour of the place where i'm staying. met the owner's wife, fiorella, who is WONDERFUL! she's so sweet. she has a five year old and she's pregnant with another, due in december. there are about 10? people living here right now, i haven't met any of them...yet. some haven't arrived yet, but they are coming in the next couple of weeks.

abby came over around 3 and we went to a mini market close to my place and bought some food cause i hadn't eaten yet at that point. i had lunch/breakfast and then we head out to find a certain supermarket so we could get some shampoo, conditioner, milk and other things that weren't' at the mini mart. well, we were told to take this form of transportation called a 'combi' so we stood on the street corner at the stop and asked a lady how to get to the market we were looking for. she flagged down a combi and told it where to drop us off. combi, we learned, is a miniature full sized van...if that makes sense. *think full sized van look only smaller proportions*. this thing is sooo shady looking! it was awesome! we cram into this van with another 10+ people and it costs 1 sole, which is about 35 cents, and they take off before you even get a chance to sit down. sink or swim, baby. anyhow, they take off and swerve through traffic, slamming on the breaks and throwing open the sliding door any time they see an interested customer on the side of the road-just hope to God they are on the same side as the combi, or else we're doing a major lane change on the fly. when it's your turn to get off, you go and go quickly, cause they're doing their thing as fast as possible. soooo, we jump out and look around, not seeing the supermarket and without a clear idea of where we are. we decide to follow the crowds and walk straight ahead. we walked for a couple blocks, with a map in hand might i add, looking for this so-called supermarket. we decide to ask someone and they say, "oh yeah, it's straight ahead, keep walking". well, we walk a little further with no luck and i suggest that we ask another two people to cross-reference our directions (brazil taught me that people tend to give directions, even when they have no earthly clue where you need to be going). of course, the next two people (independently asked) each gave us different directions. thanks guys. we finally saw a hotel and stopped there to ask directions.

the lady said that she didn't know the market we were looking for, but there was another close by. we went to that one, picked out some stuff, were heading for the checkout line when i realized that it was going to be a pain in the a** to carry all of that stuff home. crap! i contemplated putting it all back and nixing the whole idea until i got better accustomed to things, but i really needed some of the stuff. we decided to bring it all back to abby's place, so i could see where she lived, and then we would find a way to get it back to mine. not having a car is really annoying when you're wanting to bring stuff home. soooo, we started walking to find our way to abby's. wait a sec, we don't know where we are. we can't find the roads, really, on the map and things are just not adding up. well, after asking about 4 people, we finally discover that we aren't in abby's neighborhood (San Isidro), like we previously thought, but are actually in the neighboring one (Miraflores) and it's now dark and not a good idea to walk all the way back. crap! we find an extremely nice lady who explains it all to us after much confusion and then flags down a taxi and speaks with the driver. i heard her speaking to him and was really glad when one of the first things out of her mouth was "you better not overcharge these girls. how much will you take to bring them to...yadda yadda yadda". haha, sooo in the end, we took a taxi back to abby's for 6 soles= about 2 dollars.

we got to abby's and spent the rest of the night talking with her host family. they're really great, but man do they loooove to talk. i spaced quite a few times, don't tell. they're really sweet, though. the mom insisted on driving me home because she didn't want me to get lost. thanks! aaand, here i am. just got home and am exhausted. i can't wait to sleep. busy day, more planned for tomorrow.