If I were to make a list of countries I’m dying to get back to, Peru would be near the top. The country captivated me when I traveled there in the summer of 2011, but there’s loads I have left to see! Jonathan contributed a guest post a few months back featuring Peru’s famous icons, and he’s back to highlight some of the country’s best travel secrets. How fantastic do these places sound?
When visiting a foreign country, the temptation is always to visit the most famous sites, but Peru has many hidden or less-famous wonders that are often just as outstanding and equally worth visiting. Of course, there are loads of very well-known and famous places to visit in Peru, and these are often on many bucket lists or travel checklists, but it is equally important to travel off the beaten track and try and visit some of the lesser known destinations.
In 2011, I visited Peru, and, as much as I adored it, I oddly never wound up writing about my trip in detail on here. I am working on a post about my time in Ollantaytambo, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu, but, in the meanwhile, Jonathan has shared some of his best tips for seeing the stunning country. We connected on Twitter over our passion for travel, and I learned that he spent a year traveling South America and now runs tours in Peru, Ecuador, in Bolivia. Without further ado, here’s the best of Peru, alongside a few of Jonathan’s stunning photos.
My sister and me at Machu Picchu in 2011
Travelling to any new destination is always preceded by a mixture of excitement – the dreams and thoughts of the adventures, sounds, foods and experiences that await you – and apprehension – the nervousness around not knowing exactly how things work in a particular country, hoping you like the accommodation, worrying that you packed your passport!
All right, so maybe it’s a little passé to do a 2011 in review post when we’re almost two weeks into 2012, but who said I was hip anyway? 2011 was a fantastic year, perhaps my best year yet (though I kind of say that every year, don’t I?), and it was full of lots of wonderful trips. Therefore, I present you with a review of my trips of 2011!
January and February
No trips outside Southern California in these months, but that’s not to say they weren’t utterly fantastic in lots of other ways!
In late March, my friends Julian, Sélim, and I embarked on a spring break road trip from L.A. to Vancouver and back, with nights spent in Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Folsom, not to mention luxurious nights sleeping in the car in Redding, California and Bellingham, Washington. Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong on this trip (Car stuck in the snow? Check. Not being able to pass through the Canadian border because of forgotten residency papers? Check. Dead car battery? Check. Arrests? No comment.), and that’s what made it so completely amazing. I was surrounded by great company, got to see my beloved 8th grade Spanish teacher, Doña Kim, and two of her daughters in Seattle, and made more friends along the way. I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better road trip.
Trying to fit in with the Canadians in Vancouver
I have a visa! Like, an actual, tangible visa! Considering how grueling and stressful this whole process was, it’s a major relief.
On Sunday, a bunch of fellow auxiliares met at Westwood Brewing Company (Brewco, as we UCLA kids call it) to meet up and discuss the upcoming year. Most were placed in Madrid, a few were returning, all seemed like lovely people, and talking to these people got me super pumped up to return to Spain. Ironically, being in Westwood also made me remember how much I love the town and UCLA and how nice it would be to be going back for another year in the fall, but, hey, I’m getting paid to live in Spain. I have nothing to complain about.
And, not to be forgotten: my South America trip! I spent a few days in Peru, visiting my sister who had been volunteering in Ollantaytambo for a few months and also hitting up nearby towns and Machupicchu. Then we flew together to Buenos Aires and even got to spend a day in Uruguay. A-ma-zing. I’ve wanted to go to South America for as long as I could remember, sooo, yeah. South America!
On the way there, my flight from LAX to Miami got delayed, which resulted in a longer layover in Miami. I had a few hours to go in and explore the city, and I quickly remembered that 100 Montaditos, my favorite restaurant in Spain, exists in only one place outside of Spain: Miami. So I made that my first spot, and I was in bliss drinking tinto de verano and eating my tortilla española and chorizo montaditos. And now 100 Montaditos has announced that they’ll be opening 4000 stores in the U.S. over the next five years. Spanish heaven, here in America!
100 Montaditos = true love.
The following things have happened in my life since we last spoke:
- I graduated! (Well, okay, my last post came a few days after that, but I never mentioned it.) So I’m a college alum, but, unlike the seeming majority of people in my category, I actually do know what the heck I’ll be doing the following year. Thanks, Spain.
- I was chosen for an internship at social media agency sketchbookLA, so I’m splitting my summer between that and continuing my internship at online marketing agency Supercool Creative. Not a bad way to spend a summer before getting paid to live in Spain for a year.
- I stressed over the visa process a bunch more. I still have no visa, and there have been lots of complications in the process in the meanwhile, but my appointment with the consulate is a week from tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure it will all work out. Can’t wait ’til it’s all over. Then I get to go to Spain and deal with the process of obtaining a “temporary resident alien ID card and number.” The Fox Mulder kind of alien, perhaps?
- I emailed my school and surprisingly got a response! The director sounds super nice, and I learned they had another auxiliar from L.A. last year, the age of kids at the school is between 3 and 14, and commuting to and from Sevilla could be difficult. As for the last one, eh, I’ll figure it out.
- I booked my flight! September 26th to Sevilla! I’ll be flying back to L.A. December 23rd (I don’t think I could handle missing Christmas with my family) before heading back again in January, so you Californians can cope without me for three months, right?
- In 8 days I will be heading to Peru and then Argentina. SO EXCITED.
As I’m writing this post, I should definitely be working on my 20-page research paper due Thursday (about art of the Spanish Civil War! see how Spain pervades my life?), but odds are that my placement letter is sitting in my mailbox at home right now, so I am eagerly awaiting a call from my mom after she gets home from work letting me know what city I will probably call home next year. NERVES. ANXIETY. OHMYGAH.
I’m also procrastinating by reading my sister’s Peru travel blog. She just arrived there for two-months of volunteering in the tiny town of Ollantaytambo (thanks to her absurdly generous scholarship), and reading her excitement over living in a new land is getting me incredibly psyched for my potential year in Andalucía. And, at the end of her stay, I get to visit her before we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina together!
Art of the Spanish Civil War, you’re an incredibly interesting topic, but you’re totally being overshadowed right now. Can’t wait to receive my placement letter and begin researching the city like mad! Joooooder.
I may not be flying around Europe almost every weekend like I did when I was in Spain last year, but I still get to fulfill my wanderlust. Since I got back from Spain:
- I went to Las Vegas in July, where I got to watch Spain win the World Cup alongside lots of Spaniards.
- We took our annual Colorado River trip in August, always one of the best weeks every summer.
- Another short trip to Vegas, this time with friends, in August.
- I went with my aunt, uncle, and cousin to visit my other cousin in Kingman, Arizona in September.
- I visited my sister, who’s a freshman at UNC, in North Carolina in November.
- Went up to Davis/San Francisco with my Californian friends (and one French friend) I met in Spain last year.
- I took a fantastic road trip with friends up the Pacific coast with stops in Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Vancouver.
And, in the next few months, I get to look forward to:
- Going to my aunt’s wedding in Lexington, Virginia next weekend!
- My best friend’s graduation in Poughkeepsie, New York (I’ll spend a day in NYC before heading home) in May.
- We just booked a flight for me to visit my sister in Peru (where she’ll be volunteering for a few months), and then we’ll head to Argentina!
- We’ll go back to The River a week or two after that.
- There’s a good chance I’ll be moving to Spain in September or October!
- Not to mention all the other fun stuff the last few months of college will include.
I don’t post this to brag, but rather to express how lucky I feel to be able to see the world like I’m able to do. I’m completely blessed. 🙂 I hope my love for (and ability to) travel stays with me all my life.