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A PERUVIAN WELCOME

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i’m finally getting around to posting about my trip to peru. this trip came together for me pretty last minute…i really didn’t have much time to prepare for my departure so when i returned to my life in LA, it was just as i had left it…with an unmade bed. SO…first things first, make my bed. secondly, try and keep some food down. unfortunately, upon my return i had a visit to the urgent care and the ER (dehydration and a possible parasite) everything i tried to consume would not agree with me, my stomach or my mom’s habit of force feeding her children to make sure they’re eating enough. so my pictures from peru went unseen and unsorted. looking through them now i’m reminded of all the things that we had done, all that we had seen. we were up among the mountains, clouds and ruins; experiencing a different culture, learning about peru’s history and exploring its land.

technically, our first night in peru was spent in lima. we had landed a little after midnight; checked into our hotel, had a pisco sour at the bar, went to sleep (more like took a nap) then woke up early the next morning to catch our flight to cusco. it’s still kind of a blur to me but when we landed in cusco we were greeted by a woman called nielda at baggage claim. we followed her to our shuttle van where her husband, jose luis was waiting for us. we strapped our luggage to the top of the van and off we went to the sacred valley! once we got out of the city center of cusco, jose luis had pulled over to ask if we wanted to stop and see how peruvian textiles were made… all of us a little delirious from our journey in weren’t really sure if we were up for it as we were supposed to be heading to our lodge which was still about an hour away…and then jose luis said “llamas”. my eyes widened and i calmly told everyone to get out of the car…quickly. img_7152

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after giving us some coca tea, they began their demonstration on how to create textiles using minerals, llama wool and bugs…yes bugs. as she told us, they sacrifice a bug for the color of their blood; add lemon juice and mix with a salt crystal. it also doubles as a lipstick…i thought she was kidding but then she proceeded to smear the blood across her lips and i thought “damn that color looks great on her”.

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on our way out, they let us feed the llamas! it was everything i had imagined my first experience in peru would be.

the next morning, jose luis and nielda met us at our lodge, we had such a great time with them the day before we ended up hiring them for the next couple of days to be our own local tour guides! close to where we were staying was the town of maras. i was familiar with this town as i had heard about the salt mines located there. that’s where we began day two of peru. these expansive and primitive pools were gorgeous to look at. essentially, it’s more of the same but the vast majority of them consumed you once you stepped foot on the mines. it was incredible. even more incredible is that they still mine the salt themselves through each pool. img_8162

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after exploring the pools, we made sure to stop at the market up top to get some salted goodies to bring back to the states. unfortunately, those goodies didn’t last long, they didn’t even last long enough to make it out of maras…whoops! we couldn’t help ourselves… it was that good.

next up were the incan terraces of moray. it was only about a 15 minute drive from where we were and my oh my what a beautiful 15 minutes it was.

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the actual purpose of these terraces isn’t fully known. jose luis was telling us that it is believed that the ruins were used as an agricultural laboratory by the incas. each terrace differed in temperature by roughly 27F creating micro climates to test crops and experiment with them. he said it was that or there were aliens here…

as we continued to roam the ruins, i noticed nielda had gone off on her own, we continued to climb. as we were heading up the hill i see her running towards us. i thought “no need to run, we won’t leave without you” but then as she held out her hands i realized she was running to show us what she had been doing for the last 20 minutes…

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CATCHING A FRIGGIN DRAGONFLY. she caught a damn dragonfly with her BARE HANDS. nielda, queen of dragonflies.

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DAY TRIP: SANTA YNEZ VALLEY

Solvang 10this past saturday my sister, brother-in-law and i took a day trip to santa ynez to see the lavender fields. courtney and i had seen pictures of the fields online and knew we had to see it in person. online the field was described as a place where you can roam, explore and even have a picnic- we didn’t pack a picnic but we did pack all of my cameras. as our gps kept telling us we were getting closer, we all were on the lookout to get the first glimpse at those luscious fields of lavender. “your destination is on the left.” we pulled up and realized our fate…DON’T TRUST THE INTERNET. we got out of the car to get a closer look because surely this couldn’t be the place but it was. we were experiencing the “expectation vs. reality” in real life. maybe the field was having an off day…or year, but we couldn’t help but laugh about the whole thing. maybe it was the two and half hour drive that had us a little delusional but we just couldn’t stop laughing. we did get to see some lavender, the dirt to lavender ratio was much higher but at least we can say we saw some lavender!DSC06156with our time at the lavender field cut short we decided to explore the santa ynez valley and check out the danish town, solvang. we loved going in and out of all the shops and restaurants… we may have consumed too many sweets but you can’t go to a danish town and not have aebleskivers!Solvang 5

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THE WORLD: STOCKHOLM

55390010earlier this month i went to visit a friend in italy. i booked my ticket through kayak which had an amazing deal…the catch was a 21 hour layover in sweden going to and from italy…fine by me! i’ve always wanted to go to stockholm so it was nice to get to spend some time there and explore the city, even if it was for a hot second. in my first 20 minutes in stockholm, i stumbled upon a record store. i went in and asked the guys who worked there if they could recommend a good swedish album that i could buy. they showed me a couple of options and then both agreed on det stora monstret. i was anxious to listen to it, i figured these guys would either take this seriously or just give the “american” the worst record they could think of. thanks to them, i now own an amazing record and one of my favorite souveneirs. 55390014walking around gamla stan i was going in and out of all the shops and cafes. i took this after i had loaded up on all the swedish chocolates i was going to bring back to the states. i love that this picture makes it look like a ghost town when in reality everyone’s actually inside the candy shop…that place was a zoo but it sure was magical. shortly after, i began to crash…my jet lag was REAL and my tylenol cold was wearing off. i desperately wanted a nap. i found this little garden behind a building and laid on a bench for a bit. i sat listening to the sounds of the city, watching people pass through, i think i could’ve laid there forever.55430004

55430014this cafe made fresh squeezed orange juice and the kids inside were mesmerized. it was really sweet seeing their excitement.553900175539001555390004