Joined July 2015 Message
  • Day12

    Cusco and Machu Picchu - 18 to 21 July

    July 20, 2015 in Peru ⋅ 🌙 4 °C

    So picking up where we left off....

    We flew out of Chiclayo at around 11 ish at night and landed in Lima around 1230 in the morning. We immediately tried to find a place to sleep in the airport as our flight to Cusco didn't leave till 630. We found a 'quiet' spot where we could stretch out and immediately Jaime was asleep. For people who have read previous posts, this is not surprising. Unfortunately for Keith, shortly after we laid down, a Peruvian construction worker thought it would be appropriate to start up his rip saw...that lasted a few hours. Shockingly, Jaime slept through the whole thing and had no recollection....

    So we land in Cusco with a couple things on our to-do list. First and foremost, we needed a hostel. Second, we needed a tour/plan/way to get to Machu Picchu. So we get online in a coffee shop in the airport and find a hostel with a room. Unfortunately, once we got there, they told us they didn't have a room...for the uniformed, the elevation in Cusco is ridiculous and you get out of breath just by walking up a flight of stairs....oh, and the whole town has steps. It's crazy....so after the first hostel, Jaime decided that she would wait where she was and allow Keith the privilege of finding a good substitute...which he did...after about 30 minutes....most of that time was spent catching his breath.

    Now that we had our hostel, we then needed to figure out how to get to Machu Picchu....it is as this point in the story that I need to take a detour...

    So...there's no polite way to say this, but due to unanticipated consequences in the past, Keith may or may not have a general idea of when certain hormonal changes take place with an unnamed travel companion. With this in mind, Keith knew that the Cusco/Machu Picchu portion of the trip was fraught with peril....this was why he advocated for paying more for a tour that would take care of all the details...it would cut down on stress and make everything 'much easier' (this is what we call foreshadowing)...

    So we go to the tour agency and get a tour that included transportation, hike, hostel, 3 meals, tix to Machu Picchu and a guide. What could go wrong right???? Well, allow me to tell you....

    Another flawless segue first....
    Hormones, much like the struggle, are real. They exist....and they truly are unexplainable....and as a dude that mainly grew up in a household of dudes, Keith was unequipped in these circumstances...

    Ok, here we go...so we wake up early the morning of the 19th so we can catch a 7 hour bus ride to the Hydroelectric Station, so we can hike the 12 km to Agua Caliente, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. Jaime now refers to this drive as her 'hell/nightmare'. Jaime was already tired because Keith, as perfect as he usually is, set the alarm for an hour too early.....which led to Jaime not getting sufficient rest. It was at this point, Keith should have realized that the day would be a long one (this is what we call an understatement)...

    So I'm just going to hit the high points and move on...mainly because I'm not entirely sure we're allowed to laugh about this yet....

    So according to Jaime, the driver drove too fast for the road and almost killed us, the hike from the hydroelectric station was too long and Keith either walked too fast or too slow, Keith also did not property pay attention to what Jaime was saying because in spite of the fact that we were able to hike along a beautiful river in the beautiful Andes mountains on the way to Machu Picchu, whatever Jaime was talking about way more important than whatever Keith wanted to see. Once we arrived in the town, we were given a room that directly conflicted with what the tour agency told us (and then told we didn't have a choice), the room had no toilet paper, and in a town named 'Hot Water'...there was none. Keith was also negligent in not fixing all of the above complaints in a timely manner. Not only that, but Jaime received some bad news from home and tears joined the mix. All in all, it was what the Army calls 'an opportunity to excel'...Sadly, Keith did not excel on that day....

    But friends and family....20 July was a new day. We woke up, hopped on a bus and 20 minutes later we were at Machu Picchu. It really was a cool day. We explored the ruins and walked out to the Sun Gate. All told, we walked uphill most of the day and saw some great views. We also took hundreds of pics. Some of which we'll try to share.

    We decided to ditch the tour guide pretty early on because he liked to ask rhetorical questions and wait 30 seconds for an answer. We also had a train to catch and didn't have time for such nonsense. Well, that was Keith's reason. By the time that decision was made, Jaime had already wandered off multiple times. She apparently isn't a fan of telling Keith where she is going, but Keith had quickly learned that he can find her gushing over the nearest animal. In this case, they were alpacas...(think llamas)...on one occasion, Keith actually wishes he had taken a pic of Jaime when he found her, it would probably been the best pic of the day. She was so happy that she got to touch the animals...it's weird, we flew thousands of miles to a place thousands of years old and all Jaime wanted was a petting zoo. Keith's nerves didn't understand this at all...especially since he is aware of multiple petting zoos back in the states.

    So after we were done, we hopped on a train back to the Hydroelectric Station where we could get another bus/glorified van back to Cusco. The return trip was not as terrifying for Jaime, but it was equally uncomfortable as she couldn't sleep. She also made sure Keith was aware of her discomfort...these notifications were frequent.

    We spent the next day recovering and in the Internet cafe trying to figure out how we would deal with the real world once we returned to it...we also tweaked our trip plans a little.

    At one point, Keith grew tired of sitting in the Internet cafe and had to visit the bano...he sets off with Jaime on the computer. Apparently, Peruvians treat dudes who are by themselves differently than when they are accompanied. In this case, in a span of 5 minutes, Keith was offered marijuana, cocaine, and a 'happy ending'. Jaime was amused by this information and wanted to embarrass Keith by inquiring about the details....luckily for all parties, this discussion never took place.

    Keith and Jaime made plans to head to Puno and Lake Titicaca the next day...more information on how that goes later....
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  • Day9

    Guayaquil to Chiclayo - 16 July 2015

    July 17, 2015 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Keith had a rough night so I volunteered to write the blog today...really it's because I knew it would be short and I wouldn't have to expend too much effort. So we arrived in Guayaquil around noon and took a short taxi ride over to the bus station to sort out our bus to Chiclayo. After a painful run in with nearly every bus company in Ecuador we finally found a company that would take us to Peru. Once our tickets were figured out we decided we did not have enough time to go exploring so we used our day to catch up on emails and obligations in the bus stations Internet cafe .

    We spent the day bouncing back and forth from the super mercado (grocery store) to the Internet cafe so of course by the time we got on the bus Keith's nerves were shot and he was what I like to call a "grumpy muffin."

    While waiting for our bus to depart I watched a man who appeared to be having a heart attack clean his ears out with a small item and then proceed to clean his teeth with the same small item... I of course was disgusted and was describing play by play actions to Keith who did not seem to share the same fascination I did of this unsanitary/gross individual. We headed out to Chiclayo around 1030pm and with the help of a sleeping pill I was out... Keith on the other hand could not sleep... so naturally I had the privilege of hearing all about it when I woke up two hours outside of Chiclayo. Keith then made the mistake of using the bus restroom where when he flushed, the toilet had the opposite effect and urine (probably of all Chiclayo bus attendees ) sprayed up all over Keith. So Keith at that point was treated as a leper until we arrived in Chiclayo and got a hostel for him to shower.

    We made the most of our day in Chiclayo and walked the city visiting the parks and local markets. We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant we inadvertently stumbled upon. It was probably one of the better meals we have had so far and in total only cost us about 15 usd. We are now at the airport waiting for our flight to Cusco and Keith is actively stressing because he thinks our flight is late and can't understand the messages over the intercom. Looks like it may be another night of "grumpy muffin Keith"....I miss "vacation Keith!!"

    Keith rebuttal: I miss vacation Keith as well. I'm pretty sure he will make another appearance as soon as vacation Jaime allows him the opportunity to get some sleep. Currently, vacation Jaime is fascinated with tickling Keith's ears while he tries to rest.

    It would also be nice if Keith could sleep anywhere or anytime he wants. Unfortunately for him, only Jaime has this ability on this trip. She has fallen asleep in rough seas on a speed boat and she was able to sleep on multiple bus rides. Did the rough seas wake Jaime up?? Nope. One bus ride slung passengers in and out of their seats as it made its way through treacherous turns in the Andes...did it wake Jaime up?? Nope. The last bus ride found every pot hole on the road from Guayaquil to Chiclayo. It also had a screaming baby and a coughing Jaime Parker. It also played a kung fu movie that threatened to blow the speakers and permanently damage Keith's already fragile hearing...(and yes, ear plugs were in and an ambien was taken). Did any of these things wake Jaime up?? Nope. What was Keith doing at this point you ask?? Well, he wasn't tickling Jaime's ear....I can tell you that much. In fact, he was doing everything he could think of to make her slumber more peaceful and restful...but this is mainly because tired Jaime is the western hemispheres nightmare. Keith should be sleeping right now instead of typing this, but he has to wait till Jaime falls asleep first. Good thing that won't take long.

    As an aside, Keith wasn't going to mention that we actually went to the supermarket on 3 separate occasions or that we went to the Internet cafe on 4 separate occasions. Keith also didn't want to talk about how hot and humid it was in each of the locales where Jaime decided to spend her time (that really means Keith's time as Jaime is not a fan of Keith doing anything other than what she needs). Oh look who's sleeping again....shocking. Also, I would respectfully request we keep the explosion-in-the-bus-toilet convos to a minimum. It was a traumatic experience and since I probably already have hepatitis from stepping in the puddle, I have no doubt I have a few other things now as well. Also, she really did treat me like a leper. No exaggeration there.
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  • Day6

    Galapagos Islands - 10 to 16 July 2015

    July 14, 2015 in Ecuador ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    **Jaime's DISCLAIMER** vacation Keith wrote this over the span of a few days and after the consumption of various alcoholic beverages. He justifies the scattered thoughts with "I am not being paid nor being graded so I will put forth no more effort"...grumpy muffin Keith appears to be back.

    We landed in the Galapagos and had to take 2 buses and a ferry to get to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. At the bus stop we walked across the street to a tour company that got us a good deal on a cruise that was leaving later that day. We also got a day cruise for our last day in the island....but there will be more on that later.

    We took a taxi back up to the ferry by the airport and got to stop and see giant tortoises, lava tunnels and scenic craters along the way. All were really cool. At the ferry we saw Bob, Glenda and crew (the same group on our Atlanta to Quito flight). We caught up with them and traded stories and pics of our adventures. Once our boat arrived, we found out we would be joining other friends we'd made. We met up with the Californian's we met standing in line at the Quito airport. It was a joyous reunion as Jaime was really happy she could talk to her nursing mentor. (Not sure this was included in a previous blog....oh well.)

    It was super hot below deck on the boat and our 'stateroom' could only be described as a small closet with two shelves and a leaky bucket for a toilet. Only one could stand at a time, which meant only one could work/pack/unpack. It was frustrating at times, but we made it work. We weren't there often as we spent most of the time on the top deck. One night we got a little queasy as the seas were rough.

    The first day, we went walking on a lava field in Sullivan's bay. The lava formed 160 years ago and the guide really put the history of the island formation in context. We took a lot of pics went snorkeling afterwards. The visibility wasn't awesome, but it was definitely a fun experience. We were able to go snorkeling again after lunch and then we hiked up Bartolome (sp?). We saw great views and took more pics. We saw a lone penguin and multiple sea lions. Also saw cool fish while snorkeling and cool birds, snakes, iguanas and cacti. We came back to boat and polished off a bottle of wine with dinner and while traveling to our next stop. The stars were unreal.

    Overall, our 4 day trip was awesome. We toured around the islands and saw native plants and animals. We saw white tipped reef sharks and at one point Jaime and Keith stuck their heads in an underwater cave and saw a big shark. It was at this point they surfaced with a quickness. They also swam with sea lions in murky water. It was a little unnerving to see them dart in and out of view.

    Food on the cruise was good for the most part, but there could have been more. Jaime and Keith served as the garbage disposal for the rest of the passengers, routinely finishing other people's food.

    The animals weren't afraid of people and we got extremely close. We saw boobies, hawks, pelicans, various other birds, iguanas, fur seals, sea lions, sharks, rays, sea snakes, tortoises, sea turtles, various fish, and much more.

    We toured Santa Cruz, James island (Isle Santiago), and did a day trip to San Cristobal on the last day even though we tried to get out of it since we kind of had enough time on a boat.

    Most people don't take credit cards in the Galapagos, and we didn't have enough cash since you can only take so much out at a time. We had to leave Jaime's passport with the tour agency and we paid the rest when we got back.

    The other humans on the boat included Israelis, Germans, a Scandanavian couple with their 3 year old, and another American couple with their 12 year old daughter (the people we met in line in Quito.)

    We shopped around Puerto Ayora for a mask for Jaime and an affordable tortoise for Keith. Jaime's awesome negotiation skills in Spanish got us better deals.

    We also did laundry as Keith's dirty laundry was incredibly offensive to Jaime.

    The day after our cruise, we did the day cruise down to San Cristobal. It was an awful decision. We took a 2 hour boat ride in rough seas. We sat in the back of the boat so as not to get seasick, and got drenched. Once we landed, we were met by the tour operator who gave us our snorkel gear...sans wet suit. Everyone else got a wetsuit, but not us. The water was a lot colder there than on our previous excursions. We were supposed to see sharks, but the location served as a better dive site and we couldn't really sea much. We did see sea lion and a couple turtles, but we couldn't see the bottom so it left a lot to be desired. Afterwards they took us to a beach with a bunch of biting horseflies. It was at this point that we were over it. After a carb heavy lunch, we went back to the port and walked around for 10 minutes before getting back on our 2 hour boat ride in rough seas. It was a better ride and at one point, Keith had Jaime on one shoulder and a tired Ecuadorian on the other. All in all, it was not how we wanted to end the trip. The day was not a total loss. We had a lovely lobster in coconut sauce dinner in the middle of a closed off street. Excellent all around. We also sat with a German gentleman because there was no space. His name was Benjamin and at first Keith did not want to sit with him and Jaime did. As dinner wore on, Jaime was ready for him to leave and Keith had a good time talking with him.

    Early the next morning, we headed to the airport to fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador in the hopes of catching a bus to Peru.
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  • Day3

    Tena to M-word to Quito - 8, 9 July 2015

    July 11, 2015, South Pacific Ocean ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    In Tena. Alarm accidently goes off 2 hours early. Its pouring outside. No hot water. Keith wakes up as a "grumpy muffin". Jaime insists Keith try his Spanish and tutors him on how to ask if there is any hot water. She then follows him out to make sure he doesn't eff this simple task up. She is currently frustrated she is the main communicator. Jaime also killed a bug herself. We keep forgetting to take thr malaria medicine.

    We found a delicious breakfast place with a massive plate of food for $3. Keith was no longer in a bad mood. He was elated and felt this type of establishment was made for him. Jaime decided to stare at others people's food and suffered food envy. This is a common occurrence. As previously stated, Jaime found her spice soul mate in aji, an Ecuadorian hot sauce.

    It was a pleasant bus ride to M-word but it was pouring at end. Jaime and Keith sat under an awning with Gaylen, a San Francisco guy about to go to Berkeley. He looked liked he would fit in there. Nice guy though.

    We stayed at Hostel de Paisano, which was really nice. We shopped around for a tour and decided (after talking to too many people) that they were too expensive and that Jaime's knowledge of what she wanted would carry the day. We ended up taking a cab to a boat ramp, then a motorized canoe to the wildlife refuge to see native animals and walk in the Amazon. The German tour guide became annoyed at some of the other humans on the tour, but when it was explained to him that they were teenage New Yorkers and that they are bad humans in general, all was well. We bonded with other Germans on the trip and a fun time was had by all. The highlight of the tour was when Jaime stepped on a bird. The bird was following the group and Jaime thought the bird would look better under the sole of her shoe. The bird did not appreciate this and Jaime promptly removed her shoe from the bird when the gasps from the other tourists became noticeable. The bird later pecked Jaime's toe in retaliation. Jaime allowed it to happen as her normally undeveloped conscious took a giant leap forward.

    The return from the refuge saw our pair of heroes brave whitewater rapids and a bored driver. Good times. After a celebratory beer, we returned via taxi to M-word. In the room, Jaime downloaded multiple blog apps to Keith's phone and informed him that he was the witty one and that he should be the one to document the trip. Keith was unable to dispute this logic. Another highlight involved a flatulence barrier being dissolved. Prudence dictates that we not mention the offending party, but just know she was really embarrassed and super cute. Keith thought the whole thing hilarious. On to other news. Dinner of pan fried chicken and mushroom chicken was promptly devoured. Multiple beers were also consumed, including two overpriced artisan beers and two large Ecuadorian beers. All were delicious. The decision to return from the jungle was also made....

    We woke up in M-word and tried to book our tickets to the Galapagos. Jaime almost had a nervous breakdown when the website would not process the payment. When we started, there were 5 tickets available. When the payment didn't go through, there were 3 tickets available. Shockingly enough, the payment didn't go through again. We tried one more time, but the airline had sold out of tickets. This is when the large group of Baptist missionaries that were staying in our hostel became alerted to our presence. They apparently came to the jungle to save the Indians, but the words that came out of Jaime's mouth had then reconsidering who actually needed saving.

    Luckily, the owner of the hostel, Hostel el Paisano, was awesome and informed us that the website did the same thing to her the day before. She then assisted us with calling the airline. Turns out we had reserved all of the remaining tickets to the Galapagos.

    After a delicious, but small breakfast of fruit and pancakes, we took the bus back to Tena. While searching for Avocados and a mask in Tena, and immediately before boarding their bus back to Quito, Keith thought it a good idea to place his right foot in a puddle of water. The look and smell of the puddle assures the viewer that at least 3 strains of hepatitis are present. Jaime thought the whole incident amusing. It is becoming increasingly clear she revels in Keith's misfortune.

    Luckily for Keith, Jaime's bladder thought the trip to Quito should have been shorter. It turns out karma is on Team Keith.

    The bus ride itself was eventful....at least for Keith as Jaime slept a portion of the time. At one point Keith handed a leftover airplane brownie to a girl with severe burn scars. The little girl snatched it from his hand with a quickness. The snatching was border line violent. Apparently she didn't want Keith to change his mind. Keith gave another to her brother. Both children said gracias; however, neither were willing to habla with Keith. The fact that they wouldn't habla was upsetting to Keith and Jaime. They wouldn't even smile. Children here don't smile. It's different. Jaime also found great joy in Keith use of "ha-bla"...

    At one point Keith bought popcorn on the bus and proceeded to eat it with a ferver that bothered Jaime's sense of decorum. If Jaime was ever physically attracted to Keith, the popcorn inhalation put an end to it.

    At one point during the popcorn inhalation Jaime came under the impression that Keith would save himself before her in the event of the bus sliding off the cliffs. While this possibility seems far fetched, there were multiple mudslides on the route and the route had just been reopened after several weeks of being closed.

    There was also a debate over whether a mountain in the distance had snow on it. Jaime said it was a volcano. Keith said that fact was irrelevant to whether there was snow. Turns out, it was a volcano and it was snow.

    We found a hostel near the airport and a restaurant right next door. We mixed the rest of our Avocados and aji that Jaime had purchased in Tena with our chicken, beans, and rice. Jaime also added another 3 bowls of aji to hers as she is currently infatuated with it. Turns out there was even a discussion of it taking the place of siracha in her heart. Keith does not believe such talk. The meal cost $9. Got back to the room and realized there was a hole in the floor.
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  • Day3

    Quito to Tena - 7 July 2015

    July 11, 2015, South Pacific Ocean ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    We woke up and had a delicious breakfast 2 eggs sunny side up over home fries with rosemary and pesto and a big bowl of fruit....for only $5 total. Jaime made multiple friends including Kate (Aussie from Melbourne). Went to see Pope Francis in Quito along with a million of our closest Ecuadorian friends. Keith got his pocket picked because he didn't listen to Jaime. He is slowly but surely learning this is inappropriate. Luckily, the only thing taken was a map and copies of their passports. Jaime was very sweet to Keith even though he was an idiot and didn't listen. While typing this, Jaime thought it dumb that Keith used the 3rd person. Keith stated that Jaime was more than welcome to take in the blogging responsibilities....she declined.

    As they were walking to see the Pope, they tried some street food. One dish was tortilla...and it was delicious. It had aji in it. Aji is Ecuadorian hot sauce and Jaime loves it. We also tried a raw bean soup concoction, a grilled plantain with cheese and another potato soup with avocado and egg. It also had a mysterious substance which Jaime tried hesitantly. When informed by Keith it was hog fat, Jaime took the opportunity to spit it out on Keith's foot. We decided to take a bus to Tena. Tena is a gateway town to the jungle/Ecuadorian Amazon.

    It ended up being a 5 hour bus ride/roller coaster. The main highlight of the bus ride was when Jaime found a nest of beetles above her head. This was hilarious as she continued to shine Keith's flashlight at them in the middle of the night. She consistently wanted Keith to knock them onto other people even though they were minding their own business and not affecting Jaime in the least.
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  • Day0

    Atlanta to Quito - 6 July 2015

    July 8, 2015 in Ecuador ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Jaime made friends with Lauren (from Raleigh) while we sat in the airport. This officially starts the period where Jaime introduces herself to various individuals. Keith sat next to Glenda and, taking a page from the Jaime Parker playboook, made fast friends. Jaime and Keith watched Get Hard, and then laughed as 70 year old Glenda watched it too. She had just celebrated her 70th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary. She was with Bob who talked too much, but was super helpful. Keith's seat didn't recline and his stereo was broken. Jaime was very sweet and allowed him to share headphones. We then got a cab from the airport and almost ran into the back of a parked truck on the highway. We crashed when we finally made it to our hostel.Read more

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