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!