Friday, May 6, 2011


About three weeks ago, Julio and I went on a hike outside of Lima.  It was a little over a 2 hour journey heading out of the city with a combination of combis, taxis, and a bus.  Driving through the outskirts of Lima, I can't help but be amazed by what I see.  It feels entirely impossible to leave this city.  Even as the city road begins to wind through the foothills and  up into the mountains, there are still people living in every liveable crevice.  The land is very uninhabitable in many areas, as it is pretty much dessert like rock/sand hills with virtually no vegetation.  People live all along the highway, right up to the highway, and on up the side of the mountain anywhere they can put a semi fixed structure to call their home.  There is very little regulation as far as land ownership and property lines are concerned.  You could go as far as to say it is unexistent in some regions.  To be honest, it is a little hard to see.  I realize many of these people have no where to go, probably have no jobs as there isn't much out on the outskirts of the city, but it still feels like something should be done.  Where are all these people coming from?  Even Julio commented that since the last time he had been out of the city this direction he did not recall there being this many people.  It is like you can't find the country, no matter how far you keep going.  This is a very disturbing thought and feeling for a girl who comes from southwest MN.  It also opens my eyes wide to how fortunate I am to have grown up in the United States.  I'm not trying to imply that it is a matter of being better or worse, but we definitely have priveleges and assistance in the U.S. that are not possible in a 3rd world country. 

Eventually, we did reach a point along the river valley where everything turned green and beautiful as we begin to really drive into the tall mountains of the Andes.   We got dropped off at a small village where we paid a fee of 2 soles to enter the trail.  It was supposed to be a 3 hour hike up to a beautiful waterfall deep in the mountains.  We didn't start until about 11 am and we knew the rains were expected to begin later in the afternoon, so we started out in a hurry.  I like to think I am pretty in shape and can keep up with the best, and I tried my darndest.  Julio is also quite an athlete, and I think one who is not accustomed to traveling with a girl =).  The first hour was very intense, up, up, and up.  The trail was fairly well mainted for a while, but then turned into a very jagged rocky trail and not real easy to hike.  The most amaing thing was that there were several very small villages and farms along the way.  We even had to jump off the path in a hurry as an andean women herded her cows, donkeys, and sheep down the mountain with her 2 small kids running along beside her.  This was not real easy terrain to maneuver in, and the fact that these people probably do this every day - 5 times a day - now that is the way to train for a marathan!  Anyway, we began to close in on what seemed like it should be the top as we saw a sign that said 2 km to the falls - I think the hike was 5 km each way.  I must admit - I needed a break!  I was beat and having a hard time catching my breathe in the high altitude.  After a couple granola bars, some water, and a short rest - we finally climbed up the rest of the way.  At a little slower of a pace as I think Julio finally realized he was a little intense for me.  We reached the viewpoint in record time and had about an hour to sit and enjoy the scenery.  It was a beautiful set of waterfalls in an almost rainforest like setting.  The vegetation is absolutely amaing in these mountains. I pointed to two small homes at the very top and said to Julio, "Can you build me a house there?"  I don't think he realizes that I actually am serious. A couple of the hikers we had passed on the way up began to reach the top as well - one of them was very friendly and wanted to take our picture.  He then emailed me the pictures from the hike so I have something to share.  Here is a picture of us on our way back down.

After getting back down at about 3 pm we headed out to get the first bus back towards Lima.  We were both exhausted and not feeling the best.  I began to have this pain in my head while we were on the bus - all I could do was close my eyes.  When we stopped to transfer buses I had to grab a little something to eat and drink because the pain in my head was making me feel sick.  Finally, we just decided it was better to go and get home.  We got in a combi - extremely crowded, smelly, and loud.  This was not good.  I have never felt such pain in my life - the last hour of that drive was one of the most miserable things I have ever experienced.  Julio knew I was struggling - and he was trying so hard to help, but I couldn't even look at hiim or talk to him.  Luckily I eventually got a seat and opened the window with my head almost hanging out to try to get some air.  Some guy on the bus was trying to yell at me to close my window and started throwing a fit.  Julio got so mad and got into it pretty good with this guy.  Sometimes - I am glad I can not understand all of the Spanish.  Anyways, we finally got off the bus and got back to Julio's house with him pretty much dragging me along as I was too dizzy to hardly walk myself.  I had tears pouring down my face and the worst headache I have ever felt in my life.  I guess I now know what a migraine is!  I symphathize with any and all people who suffer from this - especially my little brother who used to get migraines all the time.  I have never felt so horrible and hope I never have another!  I kind of feel like it wasn't just the hike and altitude that made me sick, but maybe a combination of all the stresses in my life that I had been holding in.   Julio took such good care of me though, I must say I am one very lucky girl!

Life has been pretty casual around here the last couple of weeks.  Work had been really slow for a couple weeks, I believe due to the hike in flight prices in April.  Luckily the last two weeks have seen a little relief in airline prices - and it sounds like gas may have reached the peak and either level off or head down - so things are looking up!  I had a really busy week this week at work and I can tell my mood is up already.  When work is slow I feel unproductive, bored, and not as motivated to even do other things in my life.  I truly prefer to be so busy that it feels like a tornado just went through the office.  I kind of thrive on the energy and fast pace - and I can tell that it directly impacts how I am outside of work.  After a busy day at work I come home with my mood up and feeling productive - it is a good feeling!

The weather here is really beginning to change.  It is a little more dreary outside and the temperatures have definitely dropped in the evenings.  I also am feeling some physical side affects to this climate change.  My allergies have always bothered, but I did get allergy shots in high school and they actually helped some.  My allergies were not real bad throughout college or while I lived in Colorado.  Here, there most be something new I am allergic too.  I semi jokingly said I was allergic to the city, but in all reality I kind of think I am.  I have been feeling a little trapped - gasping for fresh air and open fields!  Now, it's not just the emotional pull I am feeling, but also something physically telling me my body was not made for this.  Well, I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon, so let's hope I adjust quickly!

Good night to all - thanks for reading my random blog.

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