Embracing the here and now..

Hi there guys,

How are you? How is life back home? Is spring starting to show itself or are you still walking/cycling around the streets in your winter jackets, rain coats and gloves? Like me here in Peru now ๐Ÿ˜‰ Okay, I have to admit that this post was mostly around a time that I was in lots of hot and sunny places, like 25-30 degrees, but this is already so far behind me as I’m about a month further now. Ups!! ๐Ÿ™ˆ I really start to become lazy with posting my stories on my blog.. But I’m not quitting, I keep on going as I love writing about my adventures and share them with you ๐Ÿ˜Š Its just that I’m over my 6 months of traveling now and the amount of experiences are becoming so many!! It goes all so fast.. I know, I keep on saying that, but it is true. Sometimes it just becomes a bit overwhelming.

I started to write this new post while I was laying in my bed in the middle of the Colca Canyon in the south of Peru. One day before, I took a bus into the mountains again so I could do some hiking and enjoy some time alone. My plan was to stay 3 nights. I would have been great to find a buddy to hike with, but at the end I ended up alone. Sorry dad, I promised you to not hike alone, but I did.. ๐Ÿ™Š However, after my first day I found a group who did an organized tour and their guide asked me if I would liked to join them, so I did. But before I go into more detail of my Colca Canyon hike, how did I got there in the first place? ย My last post was when I was in Lima, quite far away from where I am now ๐Ÿ˜… However,ย I quite liked that city so after my friend took off, I stayed another 2 nights. After exploring the main city of Peru, my plan was to head south as I heard there were quite some nice places to visit in that area. A Canadian guy I met at the hostel traveled with me and after quite some searching to the right bus, we ended that day in Paracas. This is a little village on the coast of Peru which is famous for its tour to the Islas Ballestas. These are some small islands full of animals like pelicans, sea lions, lots of other birds and pinquins!! How cool is that? Spotting pinquins in South America! My favorite animal… ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ƒ

My Canadian friend and I were trying to get the best price for a tour the next morning. We heard that if you come to the pier at the last moment, mostly you can join a group for a cheap price, so we decided to try that out. Unfortunately the price we were getting was double as what we were able to get the night before!! I tried with my best Spanish and lovely smile to get the price down, but the people here in Peru, working for tourist agencies etc, aren’t really friendly and helpful. They mostly try to rip you off as you’re white and a tourist. Not the best experience to get I can tell you. I almost gave my hopes up waiting at the pier and had to accept that I won’t see the pinquins.. But, then somebody came back to us and offered us tickets for the normal price! Lucky us ๐Ÿ˜Š After waiting for a long time, we were finally on the boat to go for the tour. It was a hot day, so being on the water was really nice. It was a great experience to see all the animals. The sea lions made so much noise! Very funny to hear. Quite often some sea lions were chilling on the rocks we passed so sometimes we got very close to them. Fortunately there were some pinquins as well, I was totally happy ๐Ÿ˜„ hihi.
Once we got back and had some lunch, we immediately took a mini bus to our next destination, Huacachina. Known as the oasis in the middle of the desert of Peru. It was such a contrast of where we’ve been that morning. Just bizar! Suddenly you’re surrounded by sand dunes and you’re in a oasis! My friend and I got a bit our own way so at one point he was gone and I think he went to another hostel. It was a bit a weird situation, but it kind of relieved me that I was on my own again ๐Ÿ˜Š I decided to go on a Dungee Trip from the hostel, highly recommended when you’re there. The idea is that you go in a group in a dungee and cross through the desert. You stop at some places to enjoy the view and you go sand boarding. My god, how much fun was that!! It felt like I was in an attraction in an amusement park!! Hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‚ And laying down on a plank + sliding down the sand hills was superduper cool!!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Everytime we drove to higher and higher dunes to slide from. The group I was with was really nice too. I met 2 funny Canadian girls there. To close off the trip, we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen while traveling.. Those colours! Absolutely beautiful ๐Ÿ˜ Sometimes in moments like that I caught myself busy with taking pictures, trying to capture the moment so I can share it with the people at home. However, the most important thing at a moment like that is to capture the moment within yourself, to enjoy and feel the sensations around you, in the here and now.. Especially with sunsets as they pass by super quickly! So the picture you see above is me enjoying the moment, appreciating everything I have, being grateful of where I was at that moment, the nice people around me and the life I’m living now as a solo traveler… โค Lucky me, a girl from the group liked me standing like that, fully enjoying the here and now so she took a shot of me ๐Ÿ˜‰ haha.
ย I had quite a lot of fun with the two Canadian girls, so the next day I decided to join them into the nearby town, Ica. This town and total area is known for their wines & Pisco. As we were in the desert, it was pretty warm which means that the grapes here are really different from grapes of Chili or France for example. Here the grapes are really sweet because it almost never rains! So the Peruvian wines are mostly all sweet as well the red wines here. To learn more about this process, the girls and I made plans to go on a wine & pisco tour the next day. Pisco is a liquor they create from the grapes as well and its way more stronger than the wines. Its mostly used for cocktails, especially the famous Peruvian cocktail Pisco Sour! This cocktail is with Pisco, some lime lemonade, extra lime juice and egg white. Super delicious!! ๐Ÿ˜„ When we went on the tour, unfortunately one of the girls didn’t feel that well so we went with the two of us. It was a quick tour of the vineyard and then we were placed into a bar to taste all the different wines and piscos! Yippieee, haha ๐Ÿ˜‰ Some of the wines were 16% of alcohol! And the Piscos are something like 30-40%.. The second vineyard was a more local one than the first touristy place we went. I got ourselves a local guide instead of a tourguide from a agency, so we had a more pure experience than the others ๐Ÿ˜Š Speaking a bit of Spanish now can help sometimes in getting good deals! My Canadian friend and I had a lot of fun trying out all the wines & piscos. Once we even tried it right out of the wine barrel! As you can imagine after the tour we were a bit tipsy… ๐Ÿ˜… This picture was us two on our way back with the wind coming in the taxi which made our hair blow away. I loved this moment, having so much fun! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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That afternoon I chilled at the hostel and packed again as I had a nightbus to my next destination more south, Arequipa, the 2nd largest city of Peru. Before going there I already had a plan for my time in the city and that was finding some voluntary work, stay there 2/3 weeks so I can fill up the time until I get a visitor from home…. Jaja, my bestie Ginger made the decision to come and visit me!!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜โค In the beginning of March (so almost now..) she planned to come so we can travel one month together, do the Salkantay trek and see Machu Picchu, go into the Amazon and then make our way south to Bolivia and do the Salt Lake together! Can’t wait to have my bestie here, share experiences together and receive lots of hugs from her!! ๐Ÿ˜ So at that time, when I arrived in Arequipa my mission was clear, get some nice voluntary work and a place to stay. Before my arrival I already send some messages on WorkAway and when I arrived at my hostel the host showed me some other possibilities in town. Perfect, ย I thought.. This is going well so far โ˜บ Before going on my voluntary work-hunt I joined a free walking tour of the city to learn more about the history and its culture. I was the only one who showed up as it’s a bit low season here so I got a private tour of the city for about 4 hrs! It was such a nice experience together with the guide, Carlos. He was very passionate about his city and full of great stories. I asked him lots of questions and we were talking all the time while walking.

Some history about Arequipa: Before the Spanish came to conquer South America, Arequipa was a very small city with a little square and only 4 streets. The Spanish made it way and way bigger as they were competing with each other a lot. The group of Spanish in the north had their capital of Lima, so the group in the south needed a capital as well, so they made Arequipa the capital of the south. Every city and town here in Peru has a main plaza, called Plaza de Armas as that was the place where they fought with the enemies. The Plaza de Armas is on a complete different place than where the originally main square of the city was. So as you can see, the Spanish just did their own thing and conquered everything how they wanted. The houses in the city center are really Spanish style, big villas with an internal garden and beautiful architecture. I really liked walking around in the city.. ๐Ÿ˜Š Some nice things they have here in Arequipa are little restaurants called Picanterias. It has nothing to do with spicy food, what most people think. There you can taste the traditional food from this region, very delicious! On the streets here you find so many shops, markets, little restaurants etc. It doesn’t end! In the parks and also on the streets you find people with scales, like the ones we have in our bathrooms to measure our weight. Here they do it just in public so everybody can see! How weird is that.. ๐Ÿ˜… Peruvian people are selling everything you can imagine on the streets. Something what bothers me to see while walking around, is the amount of garbage they just drop and leave everywhere as well in nature! When I was in a taxi at the coast, a part of the coastline was full of garbage, same as in the mountains. Its horrible!! Peruvian people are pretty dirty… ๐Ÿ˜‘
But… coming back to my volunteer work hunting! I went to all of the places I found to gather more information. Unfortunately this wasn’t as successful as I hoped for. One organization was closed, the other one was only working with volunteers who teach English at school to kids, but its summer holidays now here in South America so no kids at school.. The 3rd project sounded like something definately I saw myself doing, helping out at a big house which is a shelter for young girls who are abandoned from their families. Help them with English, homework, things on the computer and cooking lunch/dinner for them. A very rewarding job to do and the reviews sounded really nice! However, the organization asked me to pay 200$ as an administration fee. I wouldn’t get anything back in return like housing or food. Only a different work experience oh and a polo shirt! Pfff… ๐Ÿ˜How weird is that?? Why should I pay money if I will work for you for nothing?! ๐Ÿ˜• It got me a bit annoyed/pissed off. The project sounded so nice.. So after 3 days of hunting, trying everything I could to get something, it all didn’t work out. One possibility was to work in a hostel but the hostel wasn’t that great and didn’t feel like a place I wanted to stay for another 2.5 weeks. So there I was, feeling a bit down and lost in what to do next. At that time it wasn’t even 100% sure that my bestie would come as she didn’t booked her ticket yet, so at one point it felt a bit strange for me that I was taking into account her arrival. It would have been such a nice solution to do some voluntary work, so perfect.. but since when has life become perfect? Perfection doesn’t exists. Me trying to fill in the gap of time didn’t make me feel free like a bird anymore. The thing was that the experiences I still had on my list for Peru are all the things we agreed to do together, so yeah.. I felt a bit trapped.
This was quite an eye opening experience for me. I’m now traveling for 6 months and I go wherever I want, don’t have a plan, be completely free and then suddenly this all changed because someone you love comes to visit you.. I’m really looking forward to spend time with my bestie, definately!! ๐Ÿ˜ But this situation was pretty new and made me feel a bit the same as I was sometimes feeling at home before I went traveling. However, this time I quite quickly figured out what was going on, how I was feeling and getting in touch with what I needed to come back to myself again.. I needed nature, mountains, stillness, peace and at the same time a workout because that’s what hiking is as well, a proper workout! ๐Ÿ˜ So I figured out how to go to the Colca Canyon by my own, safe money and eventhough have a nice experience. The Colca Canyon is a Natural Park not too far from Arequipa. It’s the Grand Canyon of South Americe they say.. So that’s how I ended up in that little cabin, in my bed, writing this post ๐Ÿ˜‰ (1.5 wks ago from where I’m posting this now, haha) I said to myself back then to let it go for now, things will figure it out by itselve. Everything goes always differently than you expected. The only thing you can do is to listen to yourself, follow your heart and be in the here and now.. ๐Ÿ˜Šโค
My hike in the Colca Canyon was really nice. As I said at the beginning of my post, I joined a group after the 1st day on my own. The way there was quite horrible though as i felt awful, cramps in my stomach and really bad diarrea! However, I really wanted to escape the city so I got myself together and went to the mountains. Luckily the next day I felt way better and was enjoying my hiking adventure a lot ๐Ÿ˜Š You go all the way into the canyon, 1000m down and there you can visit some towns, even an oasis with swimming pools etc. The last hike up though is really, really intense and super steep! It goes on for about 12km and it takes you about 3-4 hrs. The group started at 4.30AM and so was I. My muscles were so soar already from all the hiking the days before so I struggled a lot ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I was not the only one, so many people who were struggling as well. It was quite an experience to start hiking while it was still dark outside, but after the half way point I just couldn’t continue anymore so lucky me there were some mules (little strong horses) which brought me to the top! ๐Ÿ˜ Thank god.. I was also carrying too much shit with me. Don’t ask me why! Sometimes you just make bad decisions ๐Ÿ™ˆ So you can imagine how releaved and happy I was when I was on that horse, enjoying the beautiful scenery around me ๐Ÿ˜Š
Together with the group I made it back to the city and stayed there one extra night. Voluntary work wouldn’t workout there, so I decided to spend some extra time with my friend I met in Huaraz and was in Lima with. He was still in Cusco and also did a nice hike there. So perfect situation to just both relax and do nothing for a couple of days together ๐Ÿ˜‰ More to come about these adventures!!
ย I have to admit that the south of Peru is really, really nice. It has so much to offer. From hot deserts to great cities and beautiful mountain sceneries! I start to adore this country more and more.. โค
Hasta la vista mis amigos!! Until the next post.. I promise it won’t take so long again ๐Ÿ˜‰
Los quiero mucho a todos xx ๐Ÿ˜˜
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One thought on “Embracing the here and now..

  1. Janneke

    Hi lieverd.
    Wat een prachtig verhaal weer. Love it !!

    Je hebt nooit genoeg herinneringen dus geniet er vooral met volle teugen van.

    Dan geniet ik wel van de verhalen van je herinneringen :-p

    Tot snel lieverd
    Xxxxx โ™กโ™กโ™ก

    Liked by 1 person

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