Heading to Cusco was quite the long journey but it was sure worth it
! After 22 hours on a bus I finally made it to Cusco in one piece. It is such a beautiful city! One thing I will not miss about Cusco is the hassling. Every few minutes you will walk pass a native and get offered a massage, earrings, tours, busses, paintings and much more of the like. It is incredible how often it happens. Other than that it was amazing. I had such a wonderful time. I got to meet up with a friend from my Spain adventure as well as a friend from Huaraz (and I have to admit I did make it to Starbucks for a real cup of coffee but ended up paying almost 4 dollars for a black drip!!!!!!!) After walking around the city for hours, which I cannot complain about, a new friend Michelle and I decided to book a trek to Machu Picchu with her friends. Once all eight of us booked our trip we were ready! I could not have asked for a better group and trip!! We started our four day long trek with a two and a half hour bike ride down a mountain road to the jungle area. When we started our trip it was so very cold but once we made it down to the bottom we were ready for shorts and a t-shirt. The second day was definitely the hardest but was absolutely amazing! We started off early and hiked our way through the jungle (not quite jungle but very humid and lots of plants!) for about 9 hours while most of us were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. On this hike we learned about the Inkas and their travels and so much about the culture around the area. We saw and used a berry used to dye the clothes here and painted our faces to be ready for our adventure
! We made our way trying coca leaves, coffee beans and cherries, and ricotta (which is a very hot pepper). After climbing on steep edges and taking a cable car over the river, we made our way to the hot baths. Here we rested for a couple hours and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around us. Once we were settled our guide prepared us all a small shot of Inka Tequila and let me tell you from experience, it is not that great! On the third day we were able to add a side adventure to our trip. We all signed up for a 6 line, zip-lining activity! It was truly fantastic! We spent around 2 hours zipping through the 150 meter high valleys outside of Cusco and on our way to Machu Pichhu! Once we were done with our fun zip-lining we took an easy 3 hour walk around Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, where we head up to the ruins. The next day we woke up at 4am and headed to Machu Pichhu. Being there was such a wonderful experience. I absolutely fell in love with this place! My friends and I made it up Waynu Pichhu, steps and steps up a mountain, and got a stunning few of the ruins and surroundings. It was such a great moment for me. I have studied so much about Latin America and have always wanted to come to Machu Pichhu. It was a dream come true!
Once we got back from our trip I made my way to Bolivia! I took an overnight bus to Copacabana, but not the one in Brazil that the song is about.
This Copacabana is in Bolivia on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I was able to get a hotel with a beautiful lake view in this tiny town. The next day I got a tour to the Isle Del Sol, meaning The Sun Island, where the Inkas believe is a sacred place. Here they have a beautiful hike up to some ruins, a sacrificial table and stunning views. It was such a great island and it is so interesting to be in a place known as sacred to some. Since Copacabana is not the biggest town, actually tiny, I decided to head to La Paz.
The best part of heading to La Paz was the water transfer. We had to cross the lake at some point to make our way over there and instead of having a bridge they have a water transfer. Everyone has to get off the bus and get onto a small boat that will take them to the other side of the lake. The bus then drives onto a small platform and slowly floats its way over to the other side. It was quite interesting to see all the buses floating around the lake! La Paz is a huge city seriously built into the mountain. The city looks like it is going to fall onto itself. I walked around La Paz a bit and was able to take in some culture. The one part I loved was the Witches Market. Here they sell crazy luck charms, potions, and llama fetas. Yes they sell llama fetas. Here they believe that it brings good luck and people buy it to put under a new house or lot. It was a very odd and sad thing to see
. Other than that I met some wonderful people, got some great soccer watching in and enjoyed my time!!! La Paz was an interesting city but not quite my favorite.
After taking the coldest night bus I have ever been on, I mean I could see my breath and the windows were frozen with ice, I made it to Uyuni. Here I started my trip thought Salar de Uyuni, which means the Salt Flats in Uyuni, Bolivia. These salt flats are the highest in the world at around 4200 meters, about 13,800ft. I was with a group of 6 people including myself and we went on a very cold, very beautiful tour! We started by going to the Train cemetery, where the trains used to carry all the minerals across the country but were eventually no longer used and became a cemetery of trains. We then went to the actual Salt Flats and I cannot describe how incredible it was. It was so incredibly vast and empty, pictures cannot describe it. Here we took some funny pictures and made our way to our Salt Hotel where we had llama for lunch. Yes I ate llama and I have to say it was not that bad! Here the hotel was covered in salt. The floors were salt, the walls were covered in it and they even sold items made from salt! The next day, we headed out to see the Ollague Volcano, which is still active and steaming. We also were able to see a number of lakes, one called the Colorado Laguna was red because of the algae living in it
. In every one of the lagunas we also saw flamencos! I had never seen one in real life and let me tell you they are amazing!!! We later made our way through the Siloli Desert and took a picture with the rock tree (a rock shaped like a tree). It was a great day but very cold. With no electricity till after dark in our new hotel we were pretty cold. It was a night to remember. We had to wake up at 5 and with the heater not working in the car we all brought our sleeping bags with us and huddled up close. We went to see the geysers in the desert which were incredible. It is amazing the pressure of the steam coming out of the ground. We also went to some hot baths (I was too cold to change outside and go in), another beautiful laguna and made our way back to Uyuni. It was such a great trip, very cold but the stunning views made up for it.
The past four weeks have been absolutely unbelievable and I am so excited for the last few weeks. I have already seen so much and am so thankful that I am able to do all of this.
Leaving Huaraz was such a bitter sweet moment. I was so excited to start my travels through South America but I hate saying goodbye to new wonderful friends! After my goodbye dinner with some loved ones I headed out to Lima with Margarita, the teacher I worked with in the school, and as a surprise her daughter and one of my students came with us. Once in Lima, we walked around the city, which was wonderful because I got my own tour from true Peruvians! Once the sun fell we took a very crowded bus to the light show. In Lima they have a park dedicated to water and it was absolutely incredible! There was beautiful music, and the fountains were scattered everywhere. It was quite a sight to see! After a great day with the girls, the next day was so very hard. They dropped me off at the bus stop and I had to say goodbye to some wonderful people and great friends. This was one of the hardest things I had to do down here. Hopefully someday soon I will be able to come visit them again.