Peru

I loved Peru. Not only was it a visually stunning place, but the people I came across were genuinely nice and eager to help. 

I thought I would share with you some of the specifics of my trip in case you should want to go yourself. 

We flew into Lima, then stayed a night at the Backpackers Family House. This hostel is situated in a great neighborhood called Miraflores and is very close to the water. 

  
The morning after, we flew to Cusco and took a day to get used to the mountain air. We stayed at the Piccola Locanda which is my favorite hostel so far.

The receptionist told us to take it easy and not eat anything that would upset out stomach, so we went to a restaurant called Victor Victoria for some soup and pasta. 

  
The day after we took the thirty minute taxi ride (organized by our hostel) from Cusco to the Poroy train station. The train from Poroy to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) took three hours. 

  
We stayed the night at a hostel called Supertramp in Aguas Calientes, then took the 5:30 am bus to Machu Picchu. 

We didn’t climb either of the mountains in Machu Picchu, but we did go to the Sun Gate and the ruins which all together took 2 hours. 

  
We took the train back to Poroy, stayed another night in Cusco, and then took a flight back to Lima. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, because I know I had to ask around a lot on how to do Machu Picchu. I am completely satisfied with my trip, but I really hope I could visit the wonderful country of Peru again in the future. 

Up next, Bogota.

Machu Picchu

We walked the empty streets of Aguas Calientes to the bus that would take us to Machu Picchu. The ride up was unnerving. With every sharp turn I thought of how the bus could fall down the mountain or crash into another bus making its way down. Of course we made it to the entrance safely.

The climb was actually a lot easier than I thought. With all the horror stories I got before my trip, I was prepared for anything. Since it was early in the day, we decided to walk up to the sun gate to watch the sun rise. It was hard to make it in time, since with each step I noticed something picturesque. 

  
Of course there were mountains and ruins, but also flowers and wildlife. I even saw a hummingbird for the first time. 

I had to pinch myself a few times to convince myself I was there. All your life you look at pictures in books of faraway places that you wish you can visit, that when you are actually there, you feel like you are in a fairytale.

   

Aguas Calientes, Peru

We made our way to the Poroy station. The train was a lot fancier than I expected. Although my toes were frozen, it was a was a pleasant ride as we made our descent into the Sacred Valley.
  
We arrived in Aguas Calientes too early to check into our hostel, so we decided to look around town. 

The streets were crowded with tourists. This was the first time since I arrived in South America that I came across so many Americans. 

Every restaurant and shop was a tourist trap, with people trying to get you to buy their overpriced goods. 

We decided to spend most of our time at our hostel’s bar, which had the cheapest prices in town as well as a great view. We drank Pisco Sours and beers until we sung along with the bar’s stereo system.

  
At first the bar was empty except for us and the bartender. At 6:00, a football game came on, and the bar was full of locals. Together we laughed and screamed at the television as Chile and Uruguay fought it out on the pitch.
At one point, a man came to give one of the workers at the hostel a cake along with several plates. He asked us if we wanted a piece and we accepted. It was a warm banana chocolate cake that melted in my mouth. It warmed me up as the night grew colder.

Although Aguas Calientes isn’t my favorite place in Peru because of its dependence on tourism, the locals made it feel like a home away from home. 

Cusco, Peru

We were surrounded by mountains. It was as if the wing of the plane would graze the them, but we landed safely and tried to hail a cab.

I hailed one taxi, and upon telling him where I wanted to go he said, “No, no puedo ir arriba!” At this, I was confused. What do you mean you can’t go up? 

I quickly learned. It was Inti Raymi, also known as the sun festival, and the streets were flooded with people and music. The second taxi we hailed dropped us off as close as he could get, and we went the rest of the way on foot. 

 I also quickly learned that Cusco is  comprised of rich history and stairs. We climbed up the cobblestone pathways, quickly running out of breath. By the time we got to our hostel, I was unable to tell the receptionist that we wanted to check in, preoccupied with trying to fill my lungs. 

Our hostel was amazing. From the rooftop we could see for miles. People, houses, mountains and monuments, everything was magnificent, saturated with the setting sun. 

I quickly fell in love with Cusco. It may have just been perfect timing, but the food, the music, and the dancing just added to it’s natural beauty.   

 

 

Lima, Peru

l awoke at 6:30 to the sounds of birds singing and my stomach rumbling. We didn’t eat dinner the night before since out taxi got lost, leaving us at our hostel at 11:00pm. 

We checked in, left our things at our room, and walked to the water. There is an indescribable feeling I get when staring into the dark abyss where the ocean meets the sky. As if melancholy and fear meet on the horizon. Oddly enough I love this feeling. Staring into the unknown while knowing you are safe at shore. 

The next morning we walked along the coast and got breakfast in Miraflores. A place called Haiti, which had a large menu to choose from. I had the “Desayuno Espanola” which was a delicious frittata with onions and chorizo. I washed it down with cafe con leche which revived me with every sip. 

 
We then headed to the airport to catch our plane to Cusco. Lima has left a good impression on me. I wish I could have spent more time exploring its streets, but more adventures await me at Machu Picchu. 

 

I’m Going on an Adventure

In the next two weeks I will be traveling through Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, and I will hopefully be able to keep this blog updated as I go along.

Where I’m going: Machu Picchu, Bogota, Cotopaxi and more. This trip will involve a lot of hiking, biking, but mostly eating.

What I’m Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

What I’m Wearing: Tortuga Air Carry On Bag. I managed to fit all my clothes and necessities for two weeks into this bag, and I am excited to see how it holds up.

What I’m Listening To: I made my own playlist of music in the Spanish language that I like, with the exception of “Machu Picchu” by the Strokes and El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel. Consider them the leche in the café con leche. Enjoy:

Be sure to follow this blog, as well as my Instagram and Twitter to follow me on my adventures. See you in Peru!

2014 Recap

So today is the last day of 2014, and I thought I would update you on the great things that happened in my life this year.

1. I GOT A JOB. I work as an Associate Video Producer for www.idealist.org. Check out more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_USFbNOKrps

2. I helped make a viral video! Never thought it would get as big as it did but I’m really glad it did. Thanks to the internet we raised $20,000 for a really good man. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGo7KfCUGoc

3. I made amazing new friends! I have to be honest, I thought making new friends in the big city would be hard after school, but it is possible!

4. I travelled to Montreal, Philadelphia, Killington VT and Portland OR! Ate good food, ate more good food, went skiing and I went snowshoeing for the first time. Respectively. All amazing places I recommend you visit.

5. I sat across from Neil Degrasse Tyson on the C train. Yes an important life event. No I don’t have pictures because I wanted to respect his privacy. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but these are the big ones. No matter how bad things have been in the news, I like to reflect on the things I am grateful for because I honestly never thought I would be where I am today. I have so many good people to thank for their generosity and putting up with me because it made me into the person I am today. I would also like to thank the academy. And God. *Walks off stage.*

Since I didn’t make any resolutions last year, I decided to go all out this year.

1. Shop small businesses. After Cash Mob for Avi, I realized how much small businesses rely on every single customer, so I am actively avoiding the big guys and shopping small.

2. Making lunch at home. I spend a lot of money buying lunch and it would just be cheaper, and healthier, to start making lunch for myself.

3. Catch up with old friends. I am really, really bad at keeping in touch. If you’ve known me and I haven’t spoken to you in years, it’s not you it’s me. 2015 I’m going to try and catch up with people because I have met so many amazing people in my life.

That’s all folks. See you next year!

27 Things People Who Breathe Can Understand

So as you can see I’m really bad at blogging. I tried the content calendar, I tried jazzing things up with photos, I tried pouring my heart out and it didn’t work. I only just recently figured out why.

I just got back from a staff retreat where we were asked the question “What Drives You?”. The answer was clear to me, but every time I tried to vocalize it, I would run out of breath and my throat would close up.

I never had a fear of public speaking. I was student body president in grade school, public speaking in college was an easy A. I even acted in every play I could get my hands on, and was the leading role my senior year of high school.

Which leads me to the answer. It was always an act. I was always representing a persona or a cause, but never had to reveal my true self. One word answers have always been my response to how I was doing. I could never talk to anyone about my personal life however uneventful and undramatic it has been so far.

Therapists hate her!

Which brings me back to why I suck at blogging. I just hate talking about myself in general. In this moment, as my fingers strike the keys, I am cringing. I could never keep a diary for more than a week. It doesn’t matter if I have an audience of none, it’s just hard.

I do see some irony or hypocrisy in it since I love hearing other peoples stories. I love just listening, even if I don’t have all the answers. It was my answer to what drives me. I honestly think that without the stories we tell, we would be nothing.

SO ALL THIS MEANS I’m going to try blogging again. I figure if I can’t say it in words, I can try to say it in ink, or pixels, and then maybe I will be more in tune with who I am and all that mushy stuff.

Well what makes this different Kat? 

I don’t know condescending voice in my head. I guess because I’m blogging for me instead of the world. It’s all for my own selfish purpose. I’m not trying to get more traffic to my website by posting things they would like, I’m just making an honest reflection of who I am and if people want to tune in thats fine. This is the space for me to talk about my life, whether I am sitting in bed binge watching Netflix or climbing the Great Wall of China. It’s my website and I can do what I want.

 

 

Fiction Friday: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Woah. So let me start this off by saying I have never finished a book so fast in my life. I finished it in a few hours– I literally couldn’t put it down. I think what really drew me into this book was they way it was written. The book is a compilation of letters written by the main character Charlie. He speaks directly to you, and brings you into the story. These letters describe his first year in High School and the struggles that come with it as well as memories of his Aunt and best friend.

This story really hit close to home and at times I was left with a lump in my throat. You easily become so attached to the characters and I was so eager to know what ill happen next. It at first seems like such a simplistic high school novel, but it has so much depth to it.

The most important message I took away from this book is to not compare yourself with others. It is a recurring theme through the book and I think this quote pretty much sums it all up:

“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.”

This is such an important lesson that I wish I was raised with and that more people realized to be true. Growing up I always compared my struggles to what other people were going through, and believed that I didn’t have the right to get upset or complain or cry because other people have it much worse. I think this book helped me realize that we have to be focused on our own lives and well being and to “really be there”. And I’ll leave this review with one last quote that I really enjoyed:

“I would die for you, but I won’t live for you.”