Friday, August 14, 2015


This post will be guest transcribed (from my notes) by my lovely sister- it's a rough recap of our machu picchu tour- enjoy!

Quotes of the Day:
"I feel like I'm in a bike gang or something"
"I don't think we have hot water in this hostal..."
"The fruit is made up entirely of seeds...kinda like a passionfruit- our guide told us it is the female fruit of the passionfruit or something like that

6:00am- bus to breakfast buffet while we kind of get to know our fellow tour mates
9:00am-2:00 pm: cycled down beautiful mountainside (p.s.-we had knee pads, chest suit of armour thingys, and fancy neon jackets (all the rage fashionwise if you ask me-dc)) across streams (where waterfalls intersected with the road), through clouds, and luckily finally into the sunlight. We somehow ended up racing another tour groups as they did their bike ride too at the end- and we won, of course (:
3:00pm- delicious three course lunch (the food just kept comin')
afternoon- explore teeny town called Santa Maria, shower sans hot water (and die a little while figuring this lovely fact out), play cards & chill
7:30 pm- end the night with three course meal and pisco sours-clutch

Quotes of the day:
"There is the option of hot showers, cold showers, or freezing showers"
"The snake isn't killed-it's put into the liquor bottle while it is still alive" (the secret touch to incan liquor)
"Do you want to see the guinea pigs in the kitchen?"

6:00 am- breakfast, car ride to the start of the hike
7:30 am- hike for 3ish hours- stopping at various houses, buying water, hearing stories, and eating snacks. Two of the 15k hiked were part of the original incan trail
We did it!
See us??!
12:30 pm- another four course meal per usual
3:30-5pm- a little more hiking till the hot springs. We also crossed a bridge that had probably been there since the 1800s (and seemed to never end, especially with one of the boys bounding across shaking it), a wire cable car to cross back over the river, and met two monkeys, one badger, and many dogs along the way.  Also tried inka licor (the aforementioned one made with the live snake), 
7:30 pm- four course meal (again) and snacks after dinner to make up for uneaten, gross french fries :)

Quotes of the Day: 
"We should have a competition to see who has the most bug bites"
"You're going to need the baby harness" "Babies zipline?!"
"We finally have soap!" (In context to the pattern of no soap in any of the hostels or restaurants along the way, hand sanitizer became a lifesaver)
"It is the truth.." one of our tour guide's favorite phrases
*we may have stolen an avocado from the forest...
Moustache monkey!
7:30 am- Breakfast, drive to ziplines, ride across 6 platforms over a beautiful valley on the longest zipline in South America
12 pm- delicious meal of chips/guac, quinoa soup, chimichurri chicken, and some sort of drunken nectarine dessert
Machu Picchu town Group Shot
1:30-4:20 pm- hike with our heavy-ass backpacks to the city of Machu Picchu 
7 pm- Dinner (fancy), pack for the next day, and make sandwiches with the avocado the size of my head that we stole from the jungles of the zipline plantation before setting alarms for 4:15 (!!!) and crashing hard

Quotes of the Day:
"Danielle, I found the tunnel!" (referring to the tunnel that Ronald told us we had to cross through to get to the peak of Huayna Picchu)
"It is not impossible, but ex-tra-met-ly* difficult" -referring to the Huayna Picchu climb (with the pronunciation of extremely given by Ronald)
"Top 150/2500 ain't bad at all" -we arrived at the Machu Picchu ruins when the gates opened after hiking from the base in under an hour at 5 am

4:10 am- alarm, eat banana, fix hair, put on shoes and head out
4:30 am- flood the streets with all the other tourists in the pitch dark to reach Machu Picchu bridge and the path up to the city itself
6:00 am- meet up with tour guide (Ronald) at the garden house, freeze a little (but get amazing pictures without 1000 other people in them) and eat a lot while listening to his speel on the history 
9:00-10:00 am- explore Machu Picchu
10:00-11:30 am- hike/struggle to hike Huayna Picchu without falling off the steep cliff, getting stuck in the tunnel, or dropping our cameras, we finished in record time, about 45 min to the top (according to Ronald it should have been at least an hour)
12:00 pm-1:00 pm- hike back down to Machu Picchu town
Scary and narrow tunnels are just a part of the Huayna Picchu hike..
1:00-2:50 pm- lunch and wait at the train station for our train back to Cuzco

Tour Group 411:
1x French and Belgian
1x England (Will and Nic(ola))
1x New Zealand (Laura and Archie-the docs)
Friend Groups-
3x France
3x Ireland


Tour Guides:
Ronald (Head Guide)- always said things were "nec-es-ssary" to remember and follow

Anthony (Tony-hilarious trainee, had the tendency to whine/wail the few english words he knew)

Final Thoughts-
The only two other memorable events in the rest of this trip was our agitating encounter with the Peruvian customs offices (see below for my entire account) and then our horrible taxi ride to the airport to return the the US which consisted of a late transfer, an unmarked vehicle (usually it has the Transvip icon on it and the driver has a uniform...), an incredibly impatient driver who ended up buying us candy bars at one of the stop lights on the way to airport and eventually got us there on time. 

Play by Play of the battle between the Peruvian authorities and Carly Clark:

6:30am- we attempted to pass thru security in the Cusco airport,  but apparently the airport is so small that they do security on a flight by flight basis (as in everyone on the next flight has a set time frame to go thru and only they can pass thru to where you then immediately board the planes)
6:35am-6:55am- spend the rest of our Peruvian soles on toast, yogurt, eggs, coffee and snacks that were supposed to get us through a long day of traveling (two flights later we would be arriving in Santiago at like 5pm)
7:00am- this is when the feud began. It all started when the dude asks me if I speak a "little" Spanish so that he can proceed to lecture me about what is in my bag that shouldn't be. This right here is one of my biggest pet peeves- when I speak in spanish to another human being who also speaks spanish and therefore we converse in spanish for a minute when they ask me if I can speak spanish...YES I CAN. I hadn't spoken a word of english the entire time buddy. 
As he is questioning me he is simultaneously removing some of our newly purchased snacks, an opened pretzel bag, some cereal and our precious peanut butter jar. He puts them into piles and at this point he repeats over and over, as he points to each item- "this cannot come on the flight", "this neither". OKAY BUDDY i get it. Although it's just about the most absurd thing I've heard (mostly because when we came into Peru they didn't give a crap about our luggage or their contents, yet when we leave it seems to be a big deal that we may be bringing goldfish into another country) I accept the fact that we will lose most all of our food (except the food they hadn't found in outside pockets and underneath jackets that I was not about to inform them of) and I politely ask if it is okay for me to eat my yogurt and drink some of the rest of my water right here, right now so that I don't have to waste it. At first I don't think this lady who began 
'help' me shortly after my other frand lost interest in arguing with me (oops) really believed that I was truly going to pop a squat in airport security and scarf down my yogurt and granola snack that I was going to eat later on. If there is one thing I hate in this world- it's food waste and therefore I was completely and entirely serious. So when she hesitantly hands it to me- at this point I'm real agitated about losing the rest of our food- so I'm all like "bitch please" I'm sitting on this floor right now and you can watch me if you like but just give me the damn yogurt. (cool your jets, this was not the exact dialogue). 
Next thing ya know our flight has apparently arrived and thus the lady seizes the opportunity to snatch my waterbottle out of my little paws literally as I'm reaching the bottle up to my mouth to take a sip (I KID YOU NOT). I was just about to bite that lady's head off when some of the other security guards begin ushering us out towards our plane. I think that is the most upset I have ever been with an airport official and I actually have a series of past stories that almost reach that potential...
So this little rant is silly because in reality all we really lost was a jar of PB, sandwiches we had packed for lunch, some pretzels and some cereal. After the incident I wrote down this detailed account so that one day I could look back on it and laugh. Nevertheless, the truth is that the whole thing was uncalled for and completely unnecessary. They acted like I didn't understand what they were saying (probably because I reached for my food and yogurt (to eat as much as possible in the next 5 min) in response to their speel about not bringing food or drinks on the plane) even though I responded in Spanish and what's more, she ripped through my luggage without an ounce of concern for what fragile items might me in there *cough* my camera!! *cough*
I could have said some really inappropriate things but instead I bit my tongue (contrary to how it appears) and gave those workers the death glare because they were truly less than amused by my attempt to salvage as much food as possible. With some luck my charade did end up distracting the officials from our Incan chocolate bars in Danielle's bag so there is that(:

Thanks for sticking it out with my rants, hope you enjoy the pictures and don't hold your breath for any more posts anytime soon cause I am hitting a major writers block but I'm glad I chronicled all the adventures thus far (: 
xoxo <3

Thursday, August 13, 2015

and it continues....

Day two in Bolivia: acclimating to the altitude- the hard way (with hills)
Quotes of the Day:
"Which way are the gunshots coming from??"
"I thought Bolivia was supposed to be cheap"
"Coca is not a drug- or the cause of poverty"

8:00am- breakfast of champions= oatmeal, bananas, bread and peanut butter (note- their bread is not near as good as Chile's, it's sweeter and less filling)
9:30am- After trying to catch a micro (bus- like a 12 passenger van really) for a good ten minutes we just end up walking to the first stop on our touristy overview of La Paz. We visit the church de San Francisco (where THE Pope was about 3 days previously), 
the Museo de Coca (describes the local tradition of chewing on Coca leaves, how it is not the same thing as cocaine, the differences and the legality issues), all the handicraft stores and vendors I ever want to see, and eventually we stop in for lunch. The entire time we avoid the street area around the main square because there is a protest going on, gunshots fired in the air (by the police- no violence, I guess it was just getting a little to chaotic for their taste)
1:00pm- Chicken and Quinoa Soup, Llama burger and delicious garlic bread
2:00pm- check out the Witches market, look at some preserved llama fetuses, ignore the storefront owners who attempt to sell us love potions, constipation remedies and herbal supplements
3:00pm- Follow the locals who stream by with ice cream cones in a search for the source (please note- we only had one dry spell without ice cream, when we went to Cusco- all other days included at least one ice cream cone ;)
4:00pm- Look for a bus that will take us to the Mirador, realize the bus is probably not coming to this street and walk two blocks higher (as per the traffic officer's suggestion), and as per usual we ask one more person after we figure that the bus ain't coming to this location either. 

Finally after walking two blocks more we finally see a bus with the name of the street we are pretty sure that the Mirador is near. We reach the hill, jump out of the bus (paying a fair of 30 cents per person) and hike up the mirador. Hike is a strong word but at this point the altitude is killing our lungs just for walking down the street- let alone walking up inclines. 

The view is INCREDIBLE. I know I have said this before but I could totally spend another 5 days in Bolivia. Don't worry immigration man- I'm coming back(;
4:30pm- when we decide it's probably time to head back we encounter a slight problem in our attempts to catch a bus back (they are all full). Eventually we hail a cab, but due to the protests he is only able to take us like 10 blocks down closer to the city so we suck it up, pay our fare of one dollar and 13 cents and walk back to our hotel. Our cab driver tells us that the protests have been going on for about 2 weeks now, and that the citizens are from a small town about nine hours south. Every night they sleep in the streets and the next morning they rally all day for the government to keep their hands out of their work, health and social affairs. 
7:30pm- After a minor meltdown (via yours truly) due to my lack of planning, we find out that our idea of visiting Lake Titicaca are not going to happen and thus I drown my sorrows in food as we head out for dinner. We hit up a nice Italian place, I treat myself to a glass of a Tannat/Merlot red wine blend, and then get oreo cheesecake for dessert. It turned out okay I guess(;

Day Three in Bolivia: Riding shotgun in our favorite form of public transportation

"Can we walk there from here?"
"Give the front seats to the gringas" - smirks all around
"It kinda looks like those drip sand castles we used to make"

10am- After asking approximately four people (I think we have hit an all time record here folks) we find a bus that is heading to Mallasa and thus to the beautiful Valle de La Luna// aka the Valley of the Moon. Although at the time the bus that was waiting around appeared to be incredibly full (not seats except for the passenger seat), the operators of this fine establishment suggested that if we wanted to get to Mallasa that we needed to get in this bus right here, right up in the front seat- both of us. Nothing really surprises me after 5 months in South America, so while Danielle was skeeved out I was just like whatever. We'll be okay. Who needs seatbelts when you can hold hands eh? 

Our bus back was relatively uneventful other than the continual stream of people who jumped on (some when the bus was still moving- reallyyyyy slow- but still!). It wasn't bad until we started going up hill, then the nervousness from Danielle started to rub off on me. 
3:00-4:00pm- take the teleferico (kind of like a ski lift without the snow) up to El Alto, the city that you first land in when you fly into La Paz. It's about 1,000ft higher in elevation and it has a lovely view of the entire valley and all the houses that fill it. 
5:00pm-7:00pm- walk to the Central Parque, catch the bus to the main plaza and find dinnah
new friends
7:30pm- walk home exhausted- we walked 10 miles on this day! and watch some Harry Potter in english on our hostal TV

Travel Day to Cusco DAY FOUR (15 July)
Quotes of the Day:
"Did you check the reviews for this airline??"
"80% tourist, 15% local, 5% women carrying lambs around trying to get you to pay them to take a photo with the adorable little creature"
"I don't think this is actually ice cream"

This day started off with early breakfast, a cab ride x2, checking into our hostal, trying to pay for our Machu Picchu tour but failing when we realized that we did not have enough cash on us. What's more, the ATM would only let us take out $125 dollah at a time and thus we paid a million ATM fees just to pay for the tour and dinner. Then we bought and ate (most of) our crappy ice cream cones (that ice cream flavor could not have truly been passionfruit), ran from the rain, discovered the lack of trashcans present in Cusco and find backroads that demonstrate that there certainly are locals in this town. Besides this area, the entire town seems to be filled with tourists from every country. While Danielle and I both really enjoyed Cusco and it's pretty colonial (Spanish) architecture and quirky layout (lots of one way cobblestone streets)  we both agreed that we could do without the millions of tourists and that Bolivia was better because it actually felt like we were experiencing the culture and tradition of the country, rather than experiencing a disney world of sorts where everyone is essentially staying the night on their way to see Machu Picchu. 

On this day we hit up another artesian market (if I see another artesanal market in the next year I may puke). I resisted to order some local food (Danielle insisted that I would actually be puking) and we managed to spend much more money than we should have. 

I met a chilean tourist which was exciting because it felt like I belonged and wasn't so much of a foreigner(; Although we avoided the sweaters, llama keychains and colorful blankets, we did leave with some dark chocolate, and a duffel bag to lug all of our purchases back to Santiago. 
We realized we were actually in Peru during their independence week celebration!- cue fireworks, parades and dancers
Then we secured our Machu Picchu tour (finally!), ate a great dinner and things started looking up (this was a rough day because at first the tour group couldn't find our entrance reservation for the actual Machu Picchu park and on top of that we realized we had to pay for the tour in cash- even though the ATMs seemed to hate us, we did end up managing to scourge up enough money to fulfill our dreams and go to Machu Picchu- adventure style ;)

DAY FIVE (16 July)
Quotes of the Day:
"Mis Amigos..." - this was the start of every other paragraph spoken by our run of the mill tour guide
"Let's just take a mental pic- k?"
"We cannot connect to your bank right now" -FAIL via ATM
This day was jammed packed of bus rides, spanish guide speeches, ancient ruins, a delicious lunch buffet and learning about how locales make silver jewelry and dye sheep yarn with natural herbs and such 
Check the next post for the re-cap on the last and most important part of this trip which includes that lovely 4 day excursion!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Great Adventure- the one I'll nevah evah forget (part one)

I didn't write down much from when Danielle spent the day in Santiago, but the main kicker for that portion was the fact that her flight (that was supposed to arrive friday morning) was delayed 10 hours, she left the airport for a sketchy hotel, got five hours of sleep and then I met up with her at the airport after taking two buses and the metro....Anywho- instead of sightseeing on Friday, I slept in and went to spin class! My spin instructor had mentioned that he had a gift for me but he had left it at home my last class, so it was kinda a happy accident that I ended up going one last time. He was so sweet- he gave me a huge (I would say at least 1 1b) chocolate bar and this little bike model made out of rubber and wire (it's quirky). He said I always had a good attitude and other nice things that I will never forget- he was great! All tatted up, with dreads and a huge hole in his ear (from a gage earring) you would never know that he is such a nice guy but he always tried to make sure I understand his chilean (very broken) spanish and that everyone was having a good time. 
That night, once Danielle and I made it back to the house she was greeted with an always enthusiastic and rapidly speaking Mama. Finally, someone who could experience the overwhelming sensation I feel on occasion with Mama when she starts her rapid-fire questions upon my arrival. I translated and Mama learned all about Danielle's struggles. After many "pobrecitas" she went downstairs to fetch Danielle some dinner and next thing you know she has a tray filled with a feast for Danielle to munch on in her bedroom- because obviously we shouldn't eat a table- downstairs is just too cold she insists. Typical. 
The next day we pack sandwiches on fresh bread that Danielle is already in love with (she had some the night before with her pumpkin, bean and spaghetti dinner). We hiked up to San Cristobal were unfortunately the smog covered most of the city. We enjoyed the 'views' and then trekked right back down. 
One of Danielle's two expressions that she makes in pictures- either mouth opened, eye brows raised or smiling. Nada mas
At the top of the 'hill' overlooking Santi is a statue of some religious figure that I'm too lazy to fact check
The rest of the day was filled with handicraft and gift shopping- we spent all the (cash) money that I had left and then treated ourselves to a lovely high class dinner at a wine bar (on the credit card of course ;). I enjoyed a trio of samples of typical Chilean wines (all three glasses had the equivalent of one glass) and Danielle tried her first bit of beef stew. It was great. 
The next day is when I really began taking notes- so here is a direct transcription of what I have written- Enjoy!

Day One: Getting to Bolivia (and surviving the altitude change)
Quotes of the Day: 
"Did he just take that picture?!"
"The view is INCREDIBLE"
"Oxygen masks are in, ATM Cards are out"

4:40am- rise and shine
the transfer takes us to the airport with the chattiest driver I ever encountered in my transvip experiences (there have been many trips to the airport). He was also the first I've seen that had a TV, but nevertheless he complimented my spanish skills so he got an "A" in my book.
5:45am- arrive at the airport only to encounter a long-ass line; typically there is NO line at the check-in counter (like I said- I have experience with this airport- ie: like 7 trips maybe)- took us at least 20 minutes to check in
6:00am- go thru security for the first time only to walk out so that we could access an ATM and 'Casa de Cambio' for the darn Bolivian border police. At this point I stupidly rush off with my money and receipt but WITHOUT MY ATM CARD. That's right- Carly Clark left her ATM card in the machine. Trust me, it was quite easy the way they operate those things because they tell you to take the money, then take your receipt and then they ask you if you want to make another transaction and thus hold your card hostage until you say 'no, I do not want another transaction' thank you very much.' So yeah. Some stranger tried to withdrawl a buttload of money but thankfully my bank is great and did some investigation schenanigans that fixed my oopsie and re-imbursed us. 
I unfortunately did not realize I was missing my ATM card until I had been through security for time numero dos and thus I made it through Chilean security three times in less than an hour (each time took approx. 5 minutes- I kid you not) so theres that. 
11:00am- Land in Iquique, Chile (on the border essentially), go thru Chilean 'export customs' or something like that, re-board the plane and fly to Bolivia
12:30pm- The best part of the day- We leave the plane and are faced with a long line ahead of us (this is what happens when you have to pee and therefore let everyone get ahead of you in line). I complain that I feel both light headed and pressurized at the same time and continually ask Danielle how she feels (she has a history of altitude sickness). She keeps telling me she feels absolutely nothing and I do not believe one word of it but nevertheless we move on and eventually reach the counter where you hand over a grand sum of 160 DOLLARS PER PERSON to the Bolivian officials. But hey- now we get to come back and bother Bolivians anytime we feel like in the next ten years. Woohooo for a ten year visa. 
Let's back it up a bit though so I can explain the story I may tell one hundred times in my lifetime- it's just that great:

It all starts as the Bolivian border control/immigration officer person begins to ask me questions to put on our visa applications. He starts with Danielle's and therefore I begin by translating for her. 

"Hey Danielle, you gotta sign this visa page for him"- Me
"Yeah, Okay, just a second"- Danielle, as she puts her head down on the ledge right in front of the immigration guy's little window. She looks like she is about to pass out but every time I ask her if she still feels okay she insists that she is perfectly fine. Literally at this point I've heard "I'm fine, I'm fine" maybe 5 times. 
Eventually she lifts her head just long enough to scribble a signature on the form and goes back to resting her little head on the ledge. 
"Okay Danielle, now you need to take a picture really quick," 
No response.
"Danielle?" Next thing I know she is slouching over, about to lose her balance and crumble into me. I try to put her arm around my neck so she can stand and put her weight on me but that is when she began acting irrational and continually responded that she was still fine. Instead of accepting my help she grips the ledge/counter and sways like she is about to faint. Thank goodness at this point the kind samaritan behind me notices that she doesn't look so hot (the immigration officer apparently disagreed as he insisted that we could finish the visa application and then she could go see the medic- I respond by talking in a more pressing tone and say that I think that is a horrible idea and could you please call the medic over NOW) and helps me try to pry her away from the countertop. She refuses and continues to sway until we pull her from her death grip and she relents. At this point, the customs man casually snaps a picture of her as she is getting dragged over to seat- I kid you not, and the best is that the picture will be valid for the next ten years. She still stubbornly continues to say that she is fine (I've heard this so much by now that it doesn't even sound like a word anymore) but I toughen up and insist that she will be taking an oxygen mask and breathing deep for the suggested 5 minutes per the medic's instructions. After those long five minutes pass she appears to be lucid and we are about to go on our way when the medic stops me and asks me if I can actually hang back for a minute and help the immigration officer translate. Lovely- he brings back 2 semi-agitated Americans who appear to have insufficient funds for the absurdly priced visa and who are incredibly confused about what the Bolivian security peeps would like them to do. Welcome to Bolivia.
1:00pm- We end up buying Danielle some Gaterade, I make a judgement call on which taxi we should trust- clearly we choose the one that two nuns are getting out of. 30 minutes and eight dollars later we arrive at the hostal. 
3:00pm- After a decent but not delicious meal of roast chicken (the good part), rice with cheese and fries dripping in oil (the not so good, untouched part) and a salad of lettuce and sliced tomatoes, we realize that we do not have enough money to pay for this meal. OYE. I once again leave Danielle behind to plead with the waiter, tell him I will be right back and go search for an ATM. After asking 2 strangers and walking 10 minutes I finally find an ATM, pray that there are sufficient funds on my backup ATM card and withdrawal about 30 dollars- because hey- everyone said Bolivia would be cheap right? I return to the restaurant, pay our grand total bill of $7.26- confirmed. Bolivia is cheap! Looks like that 10 year visa will come in handy- because dinner was only 6

xoxo, More to come loves