Friday, January 13, 2012

A CAT FIGHT Followed by a Teachable Moment

After a very long hiatus, I am back to writing. After my epic adventure to South America, I landed a job as an Reading Intervention and English teacher in Santa Ana. The beginning of the year has been a whirlwind of ups and downs to say the least. Regardless of the bad days I've experienced working in an inner city school I still love my job and never see myself going back to an office job or serving ever again. I have found my calling as an educator.
That being said, I have had a recent epiphany. Yesterday I tried to prevent a cat fight and got decked in the process. These two girls had had altercations in the past, but fortunately I was able to prevent physical violence. Yesterday, however, was not the case. It started off as one of the best teaching days I've had to date. My 1st period Sheltered Sophomore English class just started a poetry unit and was starting to understand how to analyze a poem. I am a traveling teacher and after a 3 week winter hiatus I started my 1st period in the new improved building that just opened. My new classroom I call home for one hour a day has floor to ceiling windows, a smartboard, and all the room a teacher could ever ask for. I even have the luxury of a microphone even though I certainly don't need one for this particular class.
My 3rd and 4th period READ 180 block was going swimmingly. I have my students for 127 minutes during which time we have whole group instruction, then split up into 3 groups where the students rotate between silent reading, computer software skills and small group instruction. It's a very new program as we were 14 weeks into the semester before we got the program going. The students are still learning how to rotate and how to read and work independently. A lot of days, it feels likes I'm herding cats but yesterday but an exception. My students were doing so well. I was giving them all gold stars including C and J who have shown marked improvement since the beginning of the year. C even commented that she was a 'scholar' yesterday and I was so proud of both her and J.
They say things can turn in an instant and yesterday is proof of this energetic phenomenon. J made a comment to C and all of the sudden 4th period turned into a maelstrom of cussing and unbridled teenage rage. Since J was the instigator I started walking her outside to let her cool off. Before we could reach the door, she lunged over me in a desperate attempt to make violent contact with C clocking me in
the jaw in the process.

All of the sudden I was in the middle of a full on cat fight, complete with claws and a deathgrip hair pulling contest. There was nothing I could do to pull them off one another as I was pushed and pulled in the middle of my classroom that had been peaceful and jovial not even 30 seconds before. The boys came to the rescue striving to get the girls apart as I ran out into the hall to find help. I found an office aide as I looked down the hall to see the Assistant Principal monitoring 1st Lunch. In my panic, I yelled, "Go get him....Go get him!!!!!!!" and promptly rushed back inside. The fight had started to subside as I separated the heated adolescents as best I could. The AP took Cynthia then returned for Jazmin as I wrote out referrals for both of them. I was devestated that these girls had shown such great improvement in both their attitudes and academic achievement only to throw it away over a petty misunderstanding.
The show must go on so I returned to teaching by taking deep deep yoga breaths to return myself to sanity. I taught the rest of the period but I'm pretty sure we were all still in shock....
Luckily, the end of this period was also the beginning of lunch but I had to go write an incident report in the discipline office. After calling my boyfriend and my friend who is a yoga teacher to do a quick meditation with me, I headed down to the office. I quickly wrote as the girls sat on either side of the office looking scared and childlike. When I finished, Jazmin handed me back her classroom folder complete with its 2 gold stars she had earned for the day. She whisped, "I'm sorry I hit you Miss Nightingale" as I retreated. On the way down the hall, I ran into Mr. Bustard, another English teacher and fellow kama'aina (former resident of Oahu, Hawai'i). He commiserated with me, gave me a cookie, and told me a similar story, except in his case one of his male gang member students tried to beat him up on purpose. I went back to my classroom barely ready to face my last class of the day...the dreaded 5th and 6th period block of READ 180.
Now, I have learned many classroom management techniques in my credential program and from fellow educators but nothing could prepare me for my last block of the day. The students' hearts are in the right place for the most part but the lack of respect for authority is appalling. I took my three worst offenders from this class aside before the class and told them their was an incident in one of my other classes and I would really appreciate if they were on their best behavior. They all agreed to do their very best and shook my hand.
Well, I should have had them sign a contract too because the next two hours ended up being the most horrific 2 hours of my life. The students would not cooperate in any way, shape or form. Perhaps it was a combination of my fragile state and their hyper state but yesterday we did not all....The end of the day didn't come soon enough as I left, dejected and feeling beaten.
Luckily, that evening was my first night back at Sun Salute Yoga. I taught a powerful and cleansing Yoga Sculpt class that made me feel better. Afterwards, I went to my boyfriend Tom's house where Tom and his roommate Monica (who played matchmaker for us) listened to my animated story, empathized with me and told me their biggest fight dramas. I felt so much better and I was happy to have such wonderful friends in my corner.
Today was a much better day. Second period is my prep period, and being a Friday pep rally I was asked to sub a class. To my great pleasure, I was asked to substitute dance. This ended up meaning taking role, then watching two consecutive pep rallies. What a treat! My good friend Jeanne brought me coffee for the first rally and I was able to 'talk story' with the other teachers while we watched the students dance and sing in a Country Western themed gym.
Third and fourth period block was a treat because I able to talk to my students about controlling their reactions to their emotions; a lesson that was imperative after the incident that happened yesterday. I told them that whatever energy they give out to the world they get back. Their journal today was this: "How do you control your emotions? Think about a time that you took a step back from a situation before speaking or acting. Now compare that with a time that you acted or spoke right away without thinking or counting to ten. Now, which one had a more favorable outcome?" After we discussed and wrote about this I had them close their eyes and visualize themselves in front of their enemy. "Your enemy is screaming at you and telling youthe absolute worst things they could possibly tell you. Now imagine you are in your enemies shoes. Perhaps their mom yelled at them this morning and their boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with them. Remember we are all going through something. We are all human and we all have bad days. The important thing to do when we have a reaction is to acknowledge it, take a deep breath and separate ourselves from the situation by counting to 10 or even 100 like Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested. After this we are able to make sane and rational decisions that don't hurt others and ourselves." My students told me how they noticed that I was breathing deeply after the incident yesterday. I told them about yoga. Today my students showed me that every day is a new day and every moment holds the possibility of learning something new about ourselves and others.
Instead of 5th and 6th block today I had a meeting for READ 180 where we learned how to access the software and make reports to truly help our students. It was a wonderful learning experience. I asked Rosie if she would help the substitutes since I knew from prior experience that the students would destroy the classroom. She agreed. After school, she and I had a long talk. She told me how difficult my students were even for a veteran teacher and another credentialed teacher in the room. She also told me she would HELP me every day until they learned the rotations and how to behave in the classroom. We called a couple parents of students who need behavioral interventions the most and set up meetings for next week. Rosie made me fee like I have support and I am so grateful to have that because all I want to do is teach my students...not herd cats.
Again, today showed me how everything can change in an instant. I prayed for help for my class and my prayers were answered. Thank you Rosie! Stay tuned to find out how the rest of the rest of this teaching saga unfolds!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

वार्निंग रेड मात एअटर ओं थे लूसे!

For all of you are accustomed to Claire the veggie-saurus please read this disclaimer before reading (this means you Daddy). We all must try new things in life and this means that of course when in Argentina do as the Argentines do and eat some Parrilla already! :o)

I never thought that I would understand the meat-eaters perspective. I especially never thought that I would cross over to that side of the fence and dance around. I´ve never been particularly against red meat but as many of you know I was brought up an omnivore eating chicken, fish and veggies. When I have a craving it´s usually veggies and carbs, never meat. I never thought I could relate to that melting in your mouth sensation that people rave about. When Ï would try it de vez en cuando (once in a blue moon) I would find it rough, tough and just not up to snuff for my taste buds. I just wasn´t a fan nor was I a fanatic vegetarian. I just kept in the middle of the road trying not to offend anyone´s gastronomic choices but at the same time keeping strictly to mine.

My friend Tania, from New Zealand, was also brought up the same way except she was a complete herbivore. This last week, however, everything changed... As you may have read in my last post, I went to visit some friends in Mendoza and they and their families introduced Tania and I to the beautiful ritual and tradition of the Asado (grilled meat dinner). We both got in just in time for Oliver´s mother´s birthday and of course the main course was some grilled beef (carne), then the side dish was chorizo(also carne) and of course even the dessert was empanadas sanjuanina (yes made with you guessed it--carne!). I had made up my mind to partake on this particular journey but there really was no other option. I have to say I was honored to partake and be included in the family tradition.

I must say, though, I have fallen in love with the ritual of parrilla. It really is a special occasion and I´m proud to say I was a part of it. As everyone prepares the meal together they all share a large glass of red wine mixed with a bit of fanta con limon (lemon soda). After our dinner party with family and friends we cooked asado two more times--once in the park and another time in Ariel´s family vineyard (viñedo). I learned how to get the coals just right before throwing the meat on. The grill (parrilla) can´t be too hot at the beginning (principio). You can get the perfect parrilla by spreading the coals out evenly with the precision of a surgeon. To find out if the coals are just right you simply pass your hand over the coals a few times to see where the heat faltan poco o mucho (lacks a bit or a lot). The meat is meant to be cooked slowly in order to get that perfect flavor and texture. Like most things in life, patience and comaraderie are the key to a good asado. Before the first turn, you must wait for a bit of sangre (blood) to show up at the top of the meat to know that it is safe to turn. After that it is pure preference and timing that go along with the preparation of the perfect asado.

There are very few vegetable eaten with the meal and even fewer utensils but the pure ritual cannot be compared. I decided to put my inner critic on hold and just enjoy. I now know that passion and fire in your belly that can come from non other than a delicious piece of steak, chorizo or ternero. In my carnivorous state I even started to understand why men are so keen on meat. I may be generalizing but eating some meat shed some light on how nutrition truly affects your emotions. As most women I know generally tend to be foragers, grazers and more apt to eat veggies and carbs it really interests me how I felt so differently when eating meat. Perhaps the whole Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus¨ thing holds some light and maybe it even comes from our diet. Women are Venutian Vegetarians whilst men are more of the Martian Meat eaters. (This is me just having fun with alliterations).

The fire and loquacious strength I gained (not to mention the peso) were uncanny. I felt the need to discuss everything from perhaps why we women and men can't see eye to eye partly due to our nutrional (alimentation) needs to how different cuts of meat might possibly help your organs (ie. you would eat heart to strengthen your own or liver etc.). Of course the only real respuesta (answer) I got from that was to learn about the strength it provides the male member. Sorry family, I know! It was too funny and Argentine not to write.

When all is said and done and I go back to my foraging and grazing veggie-saurus I still want to take a moment to honor all the cows and pigs that sacrificed themselves for my carnivorous experiment. Argentina is truly the capital of carne (no not carnage, carne!). Now hand me a carrot whilst I cleanse. One thing is for sure, I will be cooking a version of the Argentine parrilla I learned for all my family and friends upon my return. I'll just make sure to throw some veggie skewers on the barbie tambien (I actually almost forgot the word too today). All herbivores, omnivores and carnivores are invited to attend. I've walked a mile and half in your shoes dear carnivores. Come join me as we rip through flesh and drink from the same glass Argentine style! Jejeje (hehehe-the j is silent-jeje).


Saturday, May 1, 2010

ला विदा एस उन हेर्मोसा sueñअ एन रेअलिदाद

Hello to all and Happy May Day! I´m nostalgic for my childhood in Hawaií where each grade of school would get decked out in plumerias and mumús and dance hula for their parents and teachers. It was a very fond tradition. Here in Argentina, and the whole of South America I believe, today is Labor Day. Yes, it is fall (otoño) here and I am lucky enough to have just arrived in beautiful Mendoza. This last week has been a good one in Buenos Aires. I´ve been volunteering in an International school next to the Rio de Plata(the main river next to BA). It is a beautiful school and I actually came to know it through my friend Barbara from UCI´s cousin Shari. She is a proper English teacher at the school and has given me the opportunity to continue my studies and work with her. It has been lovely to be back in the school system. I almost forgot how much I missed teaching until I got back. When I get back this next week I´ll have a chance to sit in on all sorts of IB classes including Spanish culture and language. I am very excited to learn more about the differences between the American school system and the Argentine one. Of course, being an international school the similarities are more since 1/3 of the student population is from the US. The teachers and faculty are all very open and positive people so it´s exciting to be involved with this school.

Natasha has gone home to the states and Anna has gone home to Austria. So, Noel and I are left. Noel and I went to our first tango dancing lessons the other day and had a blast. I´m finally starting to get the whole being lead thing. It´s hard to let go and let the man take charge sometimes but I´m trying and feel like I´m starting to get it. Afterwards we went to a glorious buffet across from the hostel which included parrilla, ciao mein and all other sorts of Argentinian fare.

Last night I left for a 14 hour bus ride to Mendoza to visit my friend Oliver who I met in Copacabana (The Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca). I am here now and it is definitely fall. The leaves are changing and everything is very beautiful. It reminds me of California. Tomorrow I believe, we´ll do a bike tour of the wine country. Today is muy tranquilo because everything is closed due to dia de los trabajadores (Labor day). Tomorrow should be a bit more lively. I´ll report back as the calidad (quality) of Mendoza´s syrahs. I´m sure they´re fantastic. My flight home is May 15th, then I´ll be graduating from the credential program on June 2nd and starting the Masters program the following week. I´m excited for all that´s to come but after all there are two full weeks to explore, teach and live la vida sud americana. I think the trip was well worth it because 3 people (fluent Spanish speakers mind you) have said that I am indeed fluent in Spanish. This will serve me well as my Masters of Teaching emphasis will be in español! Que linda. Miss you all and can´t wait to see you upon my return.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

बेक तो बूएनोस Aires

Where to begin? Buenos Aires has been a blast. We were able to see a wonderful concert with Matisyahu at the Grand Rex Theatre in downtown Buenos Aires. The venue was amazing and even though we were on the balcony we were able to see him as if we were really close up.

We left on Sunday for Iguazu Falls-- one of the most amazing natural sights I have seen in my life. We hopped aboard a 20-hour bus up north for 3 days of butterflys, hikes and one of the largest waterfalls in the world. We exited the Disneyland-like tram and were immediately surrounded by butterflys of every variety imaginable. They were EVERYWHERE! We started down a long platform bridge over immense amounts of river water going at a substantial pace but remaining relatively calm. We walked through the reeds, the trees and finally started hearing a loud roar and realized we were getting closer to our destination and a sight I´ve been dreaming about ever since I saw my friend Mike´s photos back in Mammoth. My feet couldn´t keep up with my excitement so I hurried over to the very top of Gargante de Diablo(the largest of the falls). You could feel the immense power of the waterfalls (cataratas) charging through your entire body. It was an exhilerating feeling. The shear power of the waterfall cannot be described. I felt like I was in a mini-monsoon with all the wind and spray that the waterfall picked up. We had to walk away a couple times and come back just for that awe inspiring first glimpse of heaven here on earth. We sat down before our jaunt back and suddenly realized that all of us were covered in butterflies. They would just chill on whatever piece of bright colored clothes you were wearing. YOu could pick them up and put them on your finger and they would just hang on (even with all the wind and spray picked up by the catarata). After our first glimpse of the top it was time to get the view so we took a beautifully scenic walk past the river below and finally lo and behold, we had an incredibly breathtaking view of the cataratas from both sides. The late afternoon sun was shining on the palm trees and glimmering on the water. I actually felt a tear come to my eye when I saw this. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful and serene moments I´ve experienced. We came back that night, made some dinner in the cocina and ate with some girls we met from San Diego. At night we hung out with our friends from Calgary and listened to them play the guitar and sang along to everything from the Beatles to Jack Johnson. The next day we ventured out on a 6km hike to a catarata pool you could swim in. We hung out on a slanted rock basking in the sun and glorious majesty of God´s creation. Luckily we put on a lot of mosquito repellent because they were buzzing around us all day. Iguazu is very tropical and humid- a welcome change from the higher altitude we´ve been in Bolivia. Buenos Aires is just starting its rainy season so we´ve been enjoying some nice showers but the last day we were in Iguazu it absolutely poured. It reminded me of Hawaií with its warm rain storms that come and go. It can truly be raining in your front yard but not in your back yard. Tash and I said our ¨see you soons¨ to Anna who was off to Rio de Janeiro. We headed back to Buenos Aires last night and made it here by lunch time. We actually were fed dinner off the bus by the bus company in a bus station restaurant. It was very fancy but it was all carne de res (beef) so I ate the rice. The bus was virtually empty and the seats reclined back really far so it was a very comfortable bus ride. We actually got to see New Moon (La Luna Nueva) on the busride home. It was lovely. Here we are back in Buenos Aires and Tash will be here until Monday. We´ll get a tango show and dinner in tomorrow as our last hurrah in the beautiful Argentinian culture. I should be coming home around May 17th or so. School and jobs await. More to come soon...

Friday, April 9, 2010

बूएनोस एरेस पोर फिन!

I am finally in Buenos Aires! After a 26 hour bus ride I am here and it is everything I thought it could be and more. Of course, I am only human and after so much travel I came down with a nasty cough and cold and was completely out of commission yesterday. I feel much better today after a full day and night´s rest and even applied for a job today with Berlitz language institute and went for a run around the city center. I started my run off in the morning, climbed a tree and did some yoga in the park. I was finishing up my little yoga session with my IPOD blaring when a man with a bunch of dogs walked by and said something really loud to me. I couldn´t hear it on account of my ipod but I think he thought there was something wrong with me because I was lying down in the park. I just told him Estoy practicando yoga and caught my breath (he really scared me--hehe). I continued my run and finally made it home in one piece. I´m so happy to be in a place where I can excercise again. What a thing of beauty! I´m planning on finding a job teaching English at a language institute and a part-time job teaching yoga or pilates. I really miss teaching and I´m so glad that I´ll have the opportunity again. I´ve thorougly enjoyed traveling about but I´m ready to be busy and productive again. At home I always have 3 jobs and go to school so not having that has made me a little stir-crazy in my head. I think after a year of 12 hour days at UCI and student teaching at the high school I deserved a bit of a break. Anyways, today Noel and I went to the only Marriott in Argentina (a partner hotel of the Ritz Carlton where I work) and found out that we can get rooms for $59. Not bad. I´ll look into that later when I make some money. We explored the banquet rooms and gave it the once over. I was impressed. The hotel is over 100 years old and in the heart of the center of town. We also went into a mall that is the equivilant of South Coast Plaza in Orange County. Wé´re talking lots of dough here. I love Buenos Aires but ít´s a bit hard to get used to the sticker shock after Bolivia. I´m definitely happy to pay extra for modern conveniences like hot showers and toilet paper (how civilized!). On our walk home this evening we decided to stop off at an outdoor cafe (how Parisian as my mother would say) and have a cappucino. After a few minutes we were greeted with a fireworks display. We made our way over to the central plaza and found they were having a huge rally to pass a Ley de Medios (Law of the middle class). I asked someone what it was all about and they said that over 80% of the population is middle class and they are trying to get the courts to pass a fair tax act for them. It reminds me of back home except their rallies were extremely well attended with people drumming, babies holding banner and grandmas holding Che Guevara flags. Everyone who was anyone in Buenos Aires was there tonight. It was wonderful to see such a public and peaceful outcry. I am sitting back at my lovely hostal looking for jobs on every possible internet avenue and reveling in my day. I´m thankful for my rejuvinated health and know that it´s a sign that I need to keep working out and drinking lots of water. After today´s run and yoga sesh I feel renewed and happy again. I will keep you posted on the job and apartment hunt. Hope all is well at home! Don´t forget to FOLLOW THAT LLAMA now that it has an official residence- La ciudad de Buenos Aires!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

हैप्पी एअस्टर फ्रॉम Argentina

First of all Happy Easter to all my friends and family. I feel as if it has been an eternity since I´ve written. I was really hoping the wifi would work today so I could get in touch with my family but alas it is down, even in the high tech country of Argentina. After a 12-hour bus ride today, Anna and I decided to make Tash´s and my mom´s favorite dish for Easter- mashed potatoes! We went to an actual super market and bought all the fixings plus a secret amazing ingredient (my favorite food ever!) pesto! We made a ratitoulle and mashed potato dish that was out of this world! I´m nice and full and ready to write all about the tantos adventuras I´ve been on in the past week.

After Sucre, we made our way to Potosi, Bolivia where we made our way down into the depths of the silver mines at a very high altitude (4,300 metros approxicamente). We donned all the gear the miners wear including the hard hat and light and proceeded to descended into a totally different world- one that proceeded to be very cold then stiflingly hot from one moment to the next. What harsh conditions the miners work in. Just climbing down, walking around and taking it all in was quite the chore for me. After all was said and done our tour group decided to buy some TNT and set it off. We had 4 minutes before the bomb went off so of course our guide proceeded to hand off the TNT to each of us for an exciting but unnerving phot opp. Man, was it loud when it finally went off!!!!

Potosi was on our way to our grand adventure in Uyuni, Bolivia. We took a 3-day guided jeep tour through the amazing desert of Uyuni which proved to be one of the most memorable parts of our trip so far. We started off in the small town of Uyuni where everyone swore there was no water (there was). We booked a tour, found a guide, and proceedeed to entrust our lives to our guide Elias as we embarked on an epic journey through the Salar de Uyuni.

The first place we came to know was known as the place where trains go to die. Picture rust and debree dating back to the 1950s. We ran around the train cemetery, walked on top of dilapidated trains and climbed inside of strange debris. It was definitely a trip... After we finished our first tour it was time to see the infamous salts flats of Uyuni. We drove and drove and drove into the desert when we finally arrived into a sea of pure white salt surrounded by majestic mountains. We took some amazing if not silly pictures using depth perception of us standing on pringles cans and people´s hands. I´ve never felt such beauty in a place that could be construed as so empty. I suppose within the emptiness the beauty of the place was fully realized for me. If you took off your sunglasses you were invaded with pure white glaring salt for an eternity of pure white inspiration.

After a full afternoon of salt hotels, salt tables and mirrored images of rain water against a pristine backdrop we left the salt flats and entered desert that stretched for miles upon end. We finally made it to our refugio in the middle of no where, where we were greeted with tea, galletas (cookies) and a lovely staff. The refugio was made entirely out of salt--we´re talking about the walls, the dinner table and even our bed frames--todo hecho de sal (all made out of salt!!).

The next day we woke at the reasonable hora (hour) of 7 am and made our way to see the lagunas (lakes) and flamencos (flamingos) of Uyuni. We saw lakes made out of salt and lakes that looked like they were made of salt but were actually borax. I wish I could tell you more about the chemical compounds that made up the pink stuff that flamingos eat to give them their color but alas, that is not my forte. About half way through our day we arrived at the Arbol de Piedra (Tree of Stone) which I expected to be some sort of petrified forest, but ended up being a volcanic rock that looked just like a tree. We spent about 2 hours scrambling up rocks that looked like gorillas and other crazy things from my whacky overactive imagination. After a full day of volcanoes, flamingos and purely amazing topography we made our way from the Laguna Colorado to our hostal at 4,500 metros.

The next day we had to get up at la madrugada (before dawn-4:30am) so we could see geysers at sunrise. They were muy impresionante but I was pretty used to volcanic activity after living in both Hawai´i and Mammoth Mountain, not to mention very tired. After our early morning drive we made it to the aguas termales (mineral waters) next to a beautiful borax infused lake at sunrise. We hung out in the water and enjoyed the last part of Bolivia before we made it to the Chilean border at about 11am... We thanked our guide, said good bye to our new Swedish friends and got on a bus to Chile. By noon we in the town of San Pedro de Altacama and down to 2,000 metros. Right away the topography changed drastically into the driest desert in the WORLD (even drier than the Sahara--no joke). We asked our driver what the skinny llamas were eating to stay alive (sobrevivir) and found out that they were eating tiny microscopic plants that were virtually invisible to the human eye. How did the llamas find these so called plants anyways?

We found ourselves a nice hostal after walking along with our gigantic backpacks for about an hour and finally took a shower...How do spell relief...S O A P!!! We decided to have a bite to eat in the center when we were accosted by Rodrigo with an offer of sand boarding. It was a cheap price and an exciting offer so despite our fatigue we decided to try sand boarding (snowboarding´s distant cousin without the chairlift). It ended up being a blast even though we were taken to a place called Valle de la muerte (Death Valley) which was excrutiatingly hot. I took to it pretty well given my snowboarding background but soon found that sand can be pretty unforgiving when you face plant into it! Wow!

We finished up our 1 day excursion into Chile and made our way this morning into Argentina via a 12-hour bus ride... Happy Easter to all! It was by far the most comfortable (thank you semi-cama) and sweet smelling bus ride I have been on thus far. It really made me happy to be back in civilization again. So we are finally in Argentina and I couldn´t be happier. We fell back today when I felt like we should have sprung forward (I forget my life or continent was flipped upside down as it were) so we got an hour less of sleep when we could have had one more. I am ridiculously tired but had to get this out before all I´ve seen fell into the ether of my memory and collapsed. I will report back more soon. Teaching in Buenos Aires here I come! Miss you all and to all a Happy Easter and good night!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

फोल्लोविंग थे विन्डिंग road

After Cochabamba we left for an overnight bus ride to Sucre. We ended up in a quaint little town with beautiful white washed buildings and a track record of safety. We stayed in a beautiful hostal complete with hot water and German orphanage volunteers. It was one of the cleanest hostals I have stayed in so far which made me nostalgic for all things American. Say what you want about our country but we certainly are one of the world leaders on hygienic conditions. Places may be dubbed ´gross´by our standards in the states but you can rest assured that you will have toilet paper, seat covers and a place to toss it all. Here in Bolivia it is a way of life to live in squalid conditions. Trash is thrown onto street corners to be picked up vagrants in the middle of the night. We have yet to find trash facilities or dumpsters readily available. In fact, at the beginning of our Bolivian adventure Noel tried to throw a piece of plastic into a vendor´s trash can where the vendor was absent. He was in for a rude awakening when the vendor came running from the street (not his store) to tell him to put that piece of plastic back in his pocket! All the same, whereever you put trash it is almost entirely in the hands of the person to discard of it. We have seen numerous trash fires spread out throughout the land and it really is a pity to see such waste. We sometimes forget, though, that the trash man, the recycle man and the yard waste man do not just magically show up every Monday here in Bolivia. Trash is your problem, not the communities. It definitely makes it hard to judge because people do not have the luxuries that we have at home.

Also, after having a hot shower this morning I am compelled to muse over other basic luxuries we take for granted. Every time we get a hot shower I am entirely impressed by the ability to produce hot water. It is a different process here. If you want hot water it is heated directly by your shower head instead of a water heater. That can mean that you have anywhere from one second to five minutes of luke warm to hot water. You have to choose your shower carefully as one shower may be frigidly cold and the other bearable. Life can still be good without hot showers. Life just is heaven when you finally do get nice warm water.

It is funny that I decide to write this as I am in one of the cleaner towns...Potosi...set in the central highlands of BO. Sucre was also clean and welcoming which lead me to recall that I´ve seen quite a lot of filth around. There is no such thing as clean tap water here in Bolivia so we have been relying heavily on our purifying water bottles and store bottled water. At home in the states I am a model of health drinking 8 -10 glass-of-water-a-day but here I fear I have let myself slip a bit due the absence of fresh water. We make up for our water intake by getting lots of fresh juice when we can... The batidos and jugos made in the mercados are a force to be reckoned with. Two types to try out of the endless varieties would be frutilla (strawberry), naranja (orange) y mango mezclado (mixed). One of my personal favorites is sandia (watermelon) y tuna (cactus fruit). Impresionante!

Life here in Bolivia is cheap and good. I am beyond thankful that my travel buddies talked me into this particular route. I would have missed out on so much culture, naturleza (nature) and architectura (architecture). I am excited about the next part of our journey. Tomorrow we leave for Salar de Uyuni which is the ¨thing to see in Bolivia¨. We will go on a 3-4 day trek through the salt flats, stopping at volcanoes and hanging out with flamingoes. When we arrive in Uyuni (a small pueblo) we will have no running water at our disposal. We will make sure to come prepared for cold nights and unbelievable days. I´m still not even sure what to expect. After our trek on bikes, horses, jeeps? we will either cross the border through Chile or Argentina and continue down to Buenos Aires. We have so many amazing things to see through Argentina but we have given ourselves a deadline of April 10th to get to Buenos Aires. As soon as we get there we´ll work on finding short-term work and apartments in the South American equivilant of Paris. We have met many Argentinos on the road south and they have been by far the most friendly and open people we have met so far. I can´t wait to meet the city face-to-face and see what´s in store next for this fearsome traveling foursome! Make sure to keep following the llama on its trek through new countries. You´ll be happy that you did!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ओरूरो तो Cochabamba

So here we are in the incredibly friendly market town of Cochabamba. It is a far cry from La Paz in that it is clean and doesn´t have dead baby llama fetuses on the street. The dead baby llamas are sacrificed to bury under the Bolivianos homes to bring luck and good fortune to their homes. I just thought it smelled but I guess I can see where they´re coming from....Hmmm....Anyways, enough about gross stuff. Let´s talk about beautiful stuff!

After successfully completing the death road we have travelled down to Oruro, a lake-town in central Bolivia, and made a short day of rock-climbing and checking out their markets. They supposedly have agua termales (mineral waters) in this area but there was one clean one (Obrajes) and one dirty one (Capachos). We noticed there were tons of buses to Capachos but not one single bus to Obrajes. We waited around for about half and hour and then decided just to get on with it to Cochabamba. We had heard that this was the most beautiful city in all of Bolivia and they were not kidding! It is fantastic, clean and the people are very kind and gracious. We´ve learned a bit about Bolivia´s political situation through friendly cab drivers and various other vendors. It seems that about half the people support the new presidente Evo and the other half do not seem to care for him. We have been prying into what exactly he has changed and have only definitively found out that he has passed a drunk-driving ban. (This wasn´t illegal before???) We will continue to pry until we get the real Bolivian story. It appears that will happen sooner than later. We met a great bunch of kids last night on our first night and they offered to show us around so we can learn what the real Bolivia is all about. We´re talking about when people stop being nice and start getting real! Thank you ¨The Real World Cochabamba¨. :o)

Our friends have offered to take us around the markets (the best in Bolivia) and help us get the local prices on things like beanies (gorros), scarves (bufandas), mittens (guantes), jewelry (joyeria) y sweatshirts (chompas). Since Cusco, we three Americanos have been discussing a small business plan. We are going to ship home a bunch of South American garb and sell it at home in the United States. You at home are our first potential customers so if you have anything that you may want back home please email me as soon as possible. Our market days will be tomorrow and the next day. We are taking requests so if you have anything you potentially want or need please email me asap at We are starting small at first so not to worry because the merchandise they have here is amazing and highly marketable in the states! Be sure to reserve yours today!

So enough of me hocking my wears. It has been a life changing experience to see how simply people can live and still be perfectly happy. I´m immensely thankful for my conscientious and adventurous side kicks Natasha, Noel and Anna. I couldn´t ask for better travel buddies! Keep following the llama and keeping me posted on your whereabouts! Be sure to register as a follower of the llama on this blog! Look forward to hearing from you! Ciao y hasta pronto mis amigos!

Friday, March 19, 2010

हुर्त्लिंग डाउन थे देअथ रोड!

So we spent Saint Patrick´s Day in La Paz shopping, and checking out the city. We shouted out Happy birthday to Damon across the world. I hope he heard. We just took the day easy--no green beer for us. At night we met some people from Argentina in our hostal. A girl named Florencia, who played a mix of the accordion and the flute, started off playing the theme to Amelie. It was beautiful! From there her boyfriend played the accordion and she strummed away on the guitar and sang some of the most beautiful live music I have ever hear. Noel was able to capture it and make it into an MP3 for her and of course for us. It was an unforgettable and tranquil Saint Patrick´s Day. Of course I made sure to buy a green scarf for about 50 cents (US) for anti-pinching purposes.

All I can say about yesterday is wow. Yesterday was our second day in La Paz, Bolivia, a city of about 880,000 people (not that large for a capital) and sits at its highest at 4,100 meters (13,450 ft) which makes La Paz the capital with the highest altitude in the world. The first day we spent shopping and acclimating. We had a great pizza made to order in less than 10 minutes-- a far cry from Peru´s dinner service which takes an hour for a bowl of soup. We made a decision to go mountain biking down the ¨Death Road¨ which ended up being one of the best decisions we´ve made so far. Before anyone gets scared (mom) everyone is alive and well with all their limbs in tact. We first started off at 4,230 meters surrounded by snow and a chilly breeze. The first leg of our trip was paved and easy. It wasn´t too cold which was nice for us. Our first unpaved leg of the trip ended up being around a tunnel and was very bumpy and rocky. Our friend Ana popped her tire that first leg and had to switch bikes. Our guides were wonderful. They provided us with snacks and water every step of the way. We felt very well taken care of. We got through all the check-points and finally it was time to bike down THE DEATH ROAD dun, dun, dun. We geared up in our full padding and helmets and started down the road on the left side. It is an English road, I think so cyclists can see around the corner if a car is coming. It is nice because all traffic beeps (clapson!) as it comes around the corner and goes rather slowly. There were definitely a few sharp turns and huge drops as we rounded each corner. We hurtled down the road passing underneath waterfalls and getting into more jungle-like terrain as we descended into the valley. The first 2 hours we were in a temperate climate and as we heading into the last 2 hours it started to get humid and hot and the flora and fauna more tropical. As we zipped down the road our final challenge was to ride straight through a 3- foot river crossing without falling. Even with all the people falling into the river ahead of me I made it through victorious and dry! We ended the trip in the semi tropical village known as Yolosa at 1,180 meters. We dropped more than 3,000 meters yesterday! Wow!

As we arrived in Yolosa we were greeted with warm showers and a swimming pool. We hung out in the hammocks and then were presented with a delicious buffet lunch. I almost wasn´t hungry after our two other snacks we had along our 4-hour adventure to valley. We hung out in the shade lathered in bug spray until it was time for our 3-hour return bus ride. I have to say the bus ride back was a little more disconcerting than the ride down. I was concentrating so much on my own ride down the mountain I couldn´t the hundreds of shear cliffs I was passing by each time. Our guides stopped at a couple of water falls (cataratas) and filled up their canteens with fresh water and we finally made it back into town. What an adventure.

Today we may be going to the little tropical pueblo of Sorata as we make our way down to the Salt Flats of Uyuni. We should be in Buenos Aires at the beginning of April to start teaching and get our apartment. Until then, hasta pronto y cuidate!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

लाके तितिकाचा एंड थे फ्लोअतिंग इस्लान्ड्स ऑफ़ उरोस

I am a weary traveller right now after more than 9 hours of travelling via boat and hiking today. We are in the small town of Puno next to Lake Titicaca and just arrived back from a two day journey around the lake. We started off bright and early for a boat trip to the floating islands of Uros. We arrived to find that we had to jump up and down when we got onto these floating islands. When we arrived the ground was soft and cushy and we sank a bit in places. We found out that the island were floating on the floating mud that the reeds grew out of. They took reeds and piled them on criss-crossing more and more of them on top of one another every 17 days to keep the island afloat. It appears that everything on the island is made of these reeds. On the island we got to see some exotic birds sqwuak at us and kites made out of garbage bags. The people are very resourceful. They use solar power hooked up to car batteries for power! Who would have thought?

After we left the mystical isle of Los Uros we took a 3 hour tour (and made it unlike the loveable Gilligan) all the way to the isle of Amantani. When we arrived, tired from our sea legs (lake legs?), our host Maribelle was there in traditional garb to greet us. We walked up innumerable stairs to find a quaint two story hacienda with breathtaking views of the lake. Maribelle is the sweet 18-year-old daughter of the family and Valentin and Margarita are her gracious parents. We made our way upstairs for some rest and relaxtion before our epic hike to the Templo de Pachatata. We played cards for a while and finally got to eat lunch after our 2-hour card game. Everything was from the land and very delicious. For lunch we had a delectable Peruvian soup made with papas (potatoes), zanahorias (carrots) and quinoa (a Peruvian grain). We learned that there are more than 400 types of potatoes native to Peru but Holland is the master in technology for potatoes. A random fact!

After our lunch we made our way up to El Templo at the top of the island. Our tour guide Alan gave us some menta (mint leaves) to smell and help with the altitudea nd told us to walk slowly. Once we had the mint leave we thought we were invincible so of course (the athletes we are ;o)) we were 500 yards in front of our group in no time. When we got close to the top Natasha challenged us to a race to the top. Of course Noel obliged while I laughed and after 100 feet they were both about to fall over. I looked at one of the ladies peddling her hats and gloves and just had to roll my eyes and say ¨LOCOS¨. But of course, not to be outdone I started jogging up too! Phewwwwww! I´m winded just thinking about it.

When we arrived at the top, we had to walk around the closed temple three times and make a wish after we were finished. I think it might be a ploy to get us to buy from the all the vendors because the first time you pass by you think that´s a cool beanie, the second time you think that really is a great beanie, and the third time you just have to buy the beanie! Pretty clever marketing especially if your wish was to get a new beanie (which I didn´t btw). I did, however, buy a little anklet from a little girl named Estefanie when we got to the top. I figured I needed one, she was the best sales child I have come across, and I needed an award for making up this grueling mountain.

After we made it down we had a hearty tipico cena (typical dinner) with fresh vegetables and grain. They barely eat any meat there because they eat what the land provides them. If they eat their pet chicken (named Idie..awww) they no longer have a pet chicken. After dinner, Maribelle dressed us in her traditional dress and took us to a fiesta in the local rec center. Tash was a bit under the weather so stayed in to sleep so Noel and I went dressed in to the nines to our fiesta. Maribelle lead us to a deserted lot with no light to be found. She was confused so she said she´d be back in 5 minutes AND LEFT US IN THE DARK! We just hung out like typical Peruvians until another family came by and mistook us for locals! Nice!

Finally we made it to the rec room and found that there were no musicians because they had all gone back to the mainland of Puno. We waited around in our traditional garb sitting against the walls just like a junior high dance. We got a bit bored so we started having camera wars across the room. Finally they fashioned together a band with two local boys: one banging on the drum and the other on the Peruvian flute. As soon as the music began the room transformed into a variatable managerie of dance. We all held hand and made bridges for people to ¨gracefully dance under¨. We were having a blast. Finally, the real band showed up and the place went wild-- running around the room with hands clasped, going forward, being yanked back and then the circle started going the other way. What a hoot! After all was said and done we made our way back to the house. It had been lightning-ing all night but as soon as we closed the door to our room the sky opened up and it started pouring with all its might. I could see the tarp above us moving but no rain ever came through. Amazing! The Peruvians are amazing at drainage to say the least! We were slowly lulled to sleep by the amazing storm only to be woken up bright and early for desayuno (breakfast) and bon voyage.

We were off to the next island of Tequile where we went on another amazing and grueling hike around the entire island. We made it to the Plaza Mayor (every pueblo has one) and got to hang out for a bit and look around. We learned some interesting facts about the Peruvian traditional garb such as the ejercito (police) wear rainbow hats! I´m not sure if I can take a guy in a rainbow hat seriously! Also,married women are only allowed to wear red on top and black skirts while their single counterparts can wear whatever colors they want. Talk about a slave to marriage! Also, the married men have blue on the end of their caps (which look like night-night caps) and unmarried men don´t. After all this we hiked a bit more only to find our lunch was overlooking the most spectacular crystal blue view of Lake Titicaca. We sat across from some fellow travellers from España and got to speak with the Andalucian lisp all through lunch and the boat ride. It made me miss Spain but also made me happy about where I was because after all any where you go, that´s where you are. We are on our way to have dinner with some friends from Germany (also from the tour) and we´re running late. So, I must say Ciao for now mis amigos! Que vayan bien. Me voy a escribir mas muy muy pronto! Hasta luego!

Monday, March 8, 2010

तेअचिंग एंड रेअचिंग फॉर थे स्टार्स

Teaching in the rain!

This is my second update from Cusco, Peru, the place that people think of as the most authentic Peruvian town. Nestled in the mountains and standing next to the Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) Cusco is a magical pueblo. It is one of the first civilizations on earth! Wow... Llamas, women and children wander the streets in traditional garb. Street vendors hock everything from machetes to sandia (watermelon) and every type of person trying to sell you a tour, a bite to eat and picture of them next to their llama named Sam infiltrate the streets. This past weekend seemed to be a lot more tranquilo. Today, on this busy Monday morning the street is alive and hopping.


We have finally acclimated to the altitude and the water which took a while. If you ever come down this way ask for the equivilant of the Zpac and you won´t be sorry. After two days of antibiotics we were feeling on top of our game again. Not that we were ever sick, mom! Hehe.

What the heck are you doing in Peru, guys?

We have moved hostels and have a panoramic view of the city complete with vista of ¨VIVA PERU¨ and an Incan face etched into the dirt two respective mountains. We´ve also seen all sorts of advertisements and dichos (sayings) written with flowers on mountains. When we took a tour of the Valle Sagrado each pueblo we passed had its name etched into the mountain. Peruanos are proud of their culture and their mountains!

We went on a 4 hour horseride around ruins like Saqsaywaman (pronounced sexy woman- I know right lol) and Quencho (Kenko). My horse was named Mapache (racoon) because he was black and white and mischevious. Our horses lead us through breathtaking landscape, dropped us off at unbelievable ruins and pretty much took charge the rest of the time.

Here´s some fun with Horseback Riding Catch Phrases!
Claire=¨Mapache, it´s not time to eat again!¨

Tash=¨Horsey, stop taking me in a circle and thwarting the group!¨ (Tash had the best horse. It was her first time on horse and she rocked it while trotting it!)

Noel=¨Tu trabajo es nunca terminado pero eres feliz¨ Translation- Your work is never done Horsey but you are happy¨ (Noel´s first full sentence in Spanish!)

Yesterday we went to ruins in the Sacred Valley. This is what we learned from our tour guide Ruben.

Top Ten FACTS!
1,) There is a fabrica (factory) right outside of town that manufactures TNT.
2.) The different Inkan ruins and towns were all fashioned after important Inkan symbols. The town at the base of Machu Picchu looks like corn. Cusco is fashioned after a Puma.
3.) Cusco is the center of energy of the mountains of Peru. Each mountain has either positive or negative energy. Cusco has the positive. It has us!
4.) Mudslides are a way of life here in Peru. Just walk on the other side of the road to avoid falling rock and debree.
5.) There are more than 80 climate zones in Peru. We´ve felt quite a few so far. What to wear? Should we do our hair?
6.) Children bathe in the rivers next to the road and wave as tour buses pass.
7.) The rocks used to build the walls of some of these ruins come from different mountains very far away. No explanations were given as to how these 8 foot and larger rocks were transported from another mountain.
8.) The bank in Ollantaytambo held their most precious resource to the Inkans—not money but food! So, if the llama leads you to food it´s actually taking you straight to the bank! Thanks Damon! Getting paid, getting paid!
9.) The ruins of Saqsaywaman were taken over by the Spanish conquistadores 500 years ago and used as a fortress. In other words, the Spanish took over an Inkan –built structure and used it to take over. The Inkan were mostly peaceful about this takeover because the Inkan leader at the time had had a sign from God telling him to be peaceful to strangers from a different land.
10.) In Chincero we learned that bugs (bichos) that live in cactus (nopales) make the perfect color red when you sacrifice them. Their blood is used to make dye for fabric and can also be used as a beautiful 12-hour lipstick. Cactus bug blood is the Maybelliene ladies!

We´re here for a few more days…More updates to come! So don´t forget to follow the llama!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

मगेस्टिक विल्लगे ऑफ़ ऑफ़ Cusco

We´ve arrived in the beautiful pueblo of Cusco 11,000 feet high in the mountains. Yesterday was a day of acclimation. The plane ride from Lima was only 50 minutes long but the topography changed so dramatically in that time I couldn´t stop taking photos. Magestic green mountains peeked out of cumulus cloud banks and tiny towns could be seen scattered thoughout the mountainous landscape. We arrived in Cusco without a hitch bartering down the taxi drivers to take us to town. We were so happy to have chosen Jorge´s cab because he had his own tourist agency and knew of more than a few people that needed help learning English. In fact, this morning he sent one of his friend´s Maria to our hostal while she was on her break from the Touring agency. She offered us a place to stay in her home in exchange for English lessons and told us we could also exchange for horseback riding and guided tours!

A beautiful thing happened last night. We stopped in for dinner at this little pizza shop when a little girl came in selling chicle. I said I didn´t want any gum but wanted to know if she was hungry which of course she was. I gave her my garlic bread and invited her to sit down. She was very shy but I could see a smile starting to form. She sat down and started putting some green salsa on her bread, making the perfect bite. After talking to her for a bit, I found out her name is Luthiana, she´s 9 years old and she goes to school but she doesn´t know what her favorite subject is. I just kept trying to act silly to make her comfortable and eventually a big smile spread across her little face. The pizza came and I saw her eyes light up so we cut her a little slice. At first she tried to eat it with her fingers but then she decided she wanted to cut it with her fork and knife. It was obvious she had never used a knife before so we guided her along and helped put some of the green salsa on the pizza for her. She needed the perfect bite after all. She continued to finish and then tentatively get up. She still had her chicle of course. Before she could leave the building Noel got up, bought one candy from her and gave her an American dollar. He said as she walked away he could see her whole body smiling. Noel felt like the richest man in the world because he could make Luthiana´s day with a single dollar. We also met two little boy street vendors calling themselves Marco Polo and Pablo Picasso. They were selling their finger puppets for a meager one million dollars¨:) but I bartered him down to a thousand. Finally after they kept following us around town Noel bought Marco Polo a Coca Cola in exchange for his handpainted post card. A fair trade and a story to boot!
We´ve also met some very kind vendors like Lisbeth who is looking to learn English in exchange for her Peruvian handicrafts.

The people are very courteous and we´ve felt very welcomed in this small town so far. I´m very excited to start teaching English! Natasha and I have been teaching Noel Spanish by playing games like slug-bug (called Zapitos here). The first one to 100 gets 2 beers bought for them. The catch is that we have to call out the colors and what number we are on in Spanish. Noél´s catching on quickly and I´m confident he´ll be speaking in full sentences by next week. I´ve decided to teach my Spanish speaking students with the same foundation of fun, games and general conversation applicable to their lives. For instance, Maria works at a Tourist agency so we´re thinking of all the possible conversations she may need to have with potential clients. We can practice around the dinner table, walking around town and sitting down with her at work.

The energy of this pueblo is much more tranquilo than the constant hustle and bustle of Lima-- a welcome change. It is very quaint, almost no tourists right now, and perfect cool temperatures with rain showers scattered throughout the day. We have already seen the old world Incans mixed with the modern world Incans. We are truly blessed to be here mixing with the locals and absorbing their culture. More to come as we wind along our journey!

I ALMOST FORGET! We saw our first llamas and alpacas yesterday! We started following them but they were going up a hill and at this altitude on the first day we were just too out of breath! Today we are going to find a llama that we can follow to food...tomorrow maybe he´ll take us to Machu Picchu! Hehe. Ciao amigos! Que vaya bien!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Internet Connection- wah?

Just had to check in from the airport to Cusco! We've got internet connection almost everywhere we've been so far...Plus we can make phone calls through MagicJack...Amazing what technology can do these days....I'm impressed. On to the next town!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lima, Lima, Ven a Lima

We have been in Lima officially two days. Our hostel has a rock climbing wall so we definitely made use of that . So far we have taken the complete wrong way to the beach, walked 3 hours around the city looking for the mythical "marine layer". "Just follow the marine layer" I kept telling Noel and Natasha. Well, 3 hours and 5 directionals out of our way we finally decided to break down and take a 30 minute taxi to the real beach. It was worth it! Miraflores was beautiful, complete with cow statues and paraglider, definitely worth the wait... Walking towards the bus stop (paradero) I was practicing my Spanish repeating the Spanish word for honk (clapson). We were just goofing around not thinking anyone was listening when the caballero in front of me got out of our way with a big sonrisa (smile). BEEP BEEP! Ooops. "Lo siento senor!" Anyways, we got on the bus and who should greet us but none other than Sean Penn's Peruvian doppleganger!!!! We couldn't help but giggle as he hustled people on and off the bus. The last spectacle we came across was a a break dancing hula hooper spinning on his head in the middle of the road. He could spin in front of traffic for about 5 minutes straight without missing a beat. What a first day!

Today was chill. We got up, had a delicious breakfast for all of 8 soles (about $2.50) complete with fresh squeezed OJ, coffee, toast, fresh jam and scrambled eggs--what an oferta (deal)! We proceeded to take and hour long busride to the ruins Pachacamac only to find that they were alas, closed on Mondays! We were in the middle of nowhere so we decided to go to la playa. We stumbled upon this small town and decided to grab a cerveza before getting on the bus to Playa Hermosa. We walked along a little desert road looking at the little tiendas but finally settled on "the place with the music". I thought it said bar Reyes? We walk in and find we are actually crashing a Peruvian birthday party! Jessica is 25 today! Feliz cumpleanos Yessica! They were very much accomodating, jovial and a bit mystified by our gringo presence. The head of the household, Luis, proceeded to grab a couple cervezas from across the way at actual tienda as we proceeded to serenade Yessica with our American version of Happy Birthday! We hung out for a bit then we were on our way down to Playa Hermosa! A beautiful spot- lost my $1 sunglasses in the ocean...My bad! We had an amazing dinner as the sunset over the ocean of ceviche de pescado mixto. Que rico! After our venture home we relaxed with a bit of yoga and Pilates in our hostel's backyard.

Tomorrow we're catching a plane to Machu Picchu (it's closed till April 1st because of the mudslides) but we'll check out some other ruins at 11,000 ft. Tomorrow is a day of rest and acclimation to the altitude....More to come as our journey unfolds....And remember kids...

Don't forget to follow the llama!

Monday, February 22, 2010

On my way...

Well take off is in less than a week and I'm starting to get jittery with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of fear. Tomorrow I'm getting my immunizations and taking care of more farewells to my friends. When I get down there I'll be south of the equator so water will flow backwards and it will be the end of here's to my last day's of winter...Think I'll wear a sweater tomorrow.

There is so much to get done this week but I think I'll focus on the important things like breathing, taking a deep breath, and breathing. It will be here soon. For those of you I don't get to see before I go I'll miss you. Come down to visit...You know you want to!