The Adventures of April

We shall not cease from exploration - And the end of all our exploring - Will be to arrive where we started - And know the place for the first time. -- T.S. Eliot

Friday, July 20, 2007

So a 20 minute drive to happy hour with work friends turned into an hour and fifteen minute unhappy hour in the Atlanta traffic. Luckily we entertained ourselves with Listerine breath strips, girl-power music, a short introduction to Arrested Development for John, some nasty apply chips, dancing (me only), and scary quintessential hicks staring us down in the truck next to us.

This is after an hour of atl traffic: yeehaw!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Viva Atlanta!

So after about two solid months of sittin' on the couch at my extended stay hotel watching Sienfeld re-runs and eating honey straight from the bottle I finally have started to make some friends. The people I work with are really cool and have been very hospitable. I've also met a few people through church. In recent weeks I've been out to swing dance, barbecues, wine tasting, church classes, volunteering, and even a stint with spreading mulch in other people's yards.

One of the coolest things I've done was the Atlanta Soap Box Derby. My co-worker and his engineering friends from Georgia Tech decided to enter the contest. It was a blast, and I'm pretty sure we had the slowest and possible the most dangerous vehicle there. Nice.

Go team!

It's a tough job to fasten pieces of carpet to John's arm using pink twine, but somebody's gotta do it. I look really bad ass with those strips of pink fabric around my arm.

Brent laughing gleefully in the background as John bites it on the way down.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Leaving Lima

As is evident by this blog, I had a great experience in Lima and really enjoyed my time in South America. This is a list a wrote a while back but haven't had a chance to publish. (Machu Picchu trip is below.)

Things I'll Miss:
  • Riding the length of Angamos in a combi
  • Limonada (Limade)
  • Ceviche
  • Fruit juices in general
  • The ocean
  • My fancy badge
  • Fellow interns
  • Mummies
  • Interesting characters at the Embassy
  • The oceanfront parks in Miraflores
  • The smell of diesel
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Cheap transportation
  • Walking through the big doors of the Embassy every morning
  • Hairless dogs... sigh... and here.
  • Wong (the grocery store)
  • Tamales
  • Speaking in Spanish
  • Buddy (Boss' dog)
  • Eating lunch behind the Embassy
  • The occasional Pisco Sour
  • Tequenos
  • Easily #1: Having *daily* adventures

Things I Won't Miss:

Me at my desk; the Embassy in Lima.

Trek to Machu Picchu!

This is about my trek to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. You can see my pictures of my trip and of all the photos I've posted on this blog here. All pictures can be magnified simply by clicking on them.

Day 1
I left my hotel at 5:30 AM to board a bus and meet my fellow trekkers. Our group was a couple in their 40s from Australia, two women traveling together (one from Australia the other from New Zealand), a couple from the US and a student from the University of British Colombia. They were a great group and I enjoyed their company immensely.

In the morning we drove and began hiking through the Canyon. It was beautiful. We hide a guide and several porters who not only carried our larger belongings but prepared large hot meals for us.

Eating a hot, tasty meal; a young girl herding her sheep; the canyon; the view.

We camped in the valley under a full moon. The moon was so bright that it lit up the entire valley - you didn't even need a flash light! The stars were beautiful as well and one of the Australians in the group was a novice astronomer and taught us some of the basic southern hemisphere constellations.

Our camp site; a family outside of their house.

Definitely one of those moments where you are simply in awe of creation and your life in general....

Day 2

We started the morning hiking directly out of the valley, which was at 3,700 meters. It took us 4 hours to hike up to the pass, or the highest point between the mountains on our route. The pass was at 4,400 meters. Even though we were only carrying our day packs, the upward incline and the lack of oxygen made the climb quite literally breathtaking. The views along the way did their part as well. As we got higher we could more and more snow capped peaks appeared in the distance. It was sunny and gorgeous. At the pass it was quite cold and very very windy. I took this video and you can tell how exhausted I am!

The valley we hiked out of; at the pass; horses grazing; snow-capped peaks of the Andes; by a beautiful mountain spring.

From here it was all a downward hike. Coming from such a height we had a marvelous view of the mountains as far at the eye could see. I felt happy at every moment to personally be looking at such amazing beauty.

Coming down from the pass; Peruvian children at a school we saw along the way.

Day 3

On Thursday we hiked to the town of Ollantaytambo. On the neighboring mountain facing the village is an ancient Incan fortress. In this town we caught a train to Aguas Calientes, the town a the base of Machu Picchu. Train and foot are the only ways into the town.

The train ride was one of enjoyable parts of the experience for me. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, and sitting there looking out the window listening to music is pretty much as good as it gets! In those moments I was feeling especially thankful for all of the ways I've been blessed.

On Thursday night we stayed in Aguas Calientes at a hotel. I was excited for a much-needed shower. Unfortunately the water was icy cold and quickly reduced itself to a practically non-existent dribble - but after three days of hiking I was determined to get the job done!

Day 4

Macchu Pichu day! We caught the first bus up at 5:30 AM. By now the anticipation was growing! We got into the gates and hiked ten minutes up to the vista point. We were so excited! We got to the top, and this was our view:

We all had a good laugh about the fog.

Luckily it slowly began to break.

And then all the anticipation of the days of hiking was satisfied with a beautiful view of the ruins. The city that the Incas took years to build in a remote mountain top in the Peruvian Andes and that thankfully the Spaniards never found.

The classic photo opp.

We took a tour around the ruins and climbed Huayna Picchu, a forty-five minute ascent up stairs carved into the side of the mountain. Had some brief mini panic attacks but luckily chats about the weather got me down.

The life-harrowing stairs of Huayna Picchu; Huayna Picchu; me at the top of Huayna Picchu looking down on the ruins.

Neat parts of the ruins.

The return trip to Cusco was on an old passenger train, filled with all the eccentric traveler types - the Australians backpacking for an entire year - the wealthy European couple - the quintessential Germans - the Israelis fresh out of their army commitment - Grandma and Gramps in a little over the head - the hippie couple with their kids - the American college students - the Canadians with their flags proudly displayed - the Commies with their mass produced Che t-shirts - and all the other people I've spent so much time with over the past year. The stars were brilliant.

It was a wonderful experience and a great finish to an amazing year of wandering. So that's the end of my travels... for now...

Boarding the train to leave Aguas Calientes.