A Simple ‘Good Morning’.

Good Morning! ;)

I’ve been trying to get into the groove of getting up earlier than 10 am and finish my workout before 10 am.  So far, so good!  It feels good to be completely done thinking about my workout before 9:30 am and leaves so much more time and energy to tackle other tasks/ sit on the deck and drink iced coffee. Ahem.

Anyway, getting up earlier means that I’ve been seeing lots of other runners/walkers/dog walkers/bikers and I have found that these early(ish) exercisers are super friendly and always smile and say ‘good morning!’.  Whenever I make eye contact with someone else that is exercising early, it’s like this silent “I rather be sleeping, but I’m glad we’re in this together”…if only for a second.  Is that too over the top?  It feels like the Secret Club of Morning Exercisers.  Haha :)

Not to say that I don’t make eye contact and smile when I see other exercisers later in the day, but I have found that people often glance over and then look down or straight ahead.  Morning people are just so much cheerier…maybe because they know they’ve gone further and accomplished more before a lot of alarm clocks have even gone off.  At least that’s what I tell myself :)

Workout

Today’s workout was all cardio!  I’ve been focusing on weight training a lot in the last couple of weeks and I’ve been missing my pure cardio days, so that was today.  I ran to the gym with my gym buddies (Mae and Hannah), which was 2.5 miles, then completed 3 miles on the treadmill (5 minutes @6.5-7.0 pace, then 20 minutes of intervals- 10 seconds each of 8.2, 8.4, 8.6, 8.8 and 20 seconds of 6.0, then 10 minutes of walking and jogging) and then 1.5 mile run home.

Total distance: 7 miles.

Phew, my legs are toast!

Breakfast

By the time we got to running home, breakfast (and a huge jug of water) were on my mind!  Mae and Hannah were talking about smoothies, which sounded great, but I was ravenous so I went with the usual.  Even better because I got to eat with dad!Oatmeal breakfast

Steel cut oats, Puffins, cottage cheese, raspberries, banana, blueberries, peanut butter

I have work later this afternoon, but I have a few tasks to tackle before then.

When do you workout?  Morning?  Night?  Never?  Try saying ‘good morning!’.  It will make someone’s day!

Have a fantastic day!

 

Marsh Creek State Park.

Happy Wednesday!

Full disclosure:  That originally said “Happy Monday, but I caught the mistake right before posting it. But today is Wednesday, so…Anyway, how was your weekend?  Relaxing?  Crazy?  Fun?  Productive?  Mine was a little of each and it definitely flew by!  Russ and I went out with my friend Angela in Philly on Friday night, and then we went to WCU with Jesse on Saturday night.  Christine threw herself a “surprise party”, so we had to go for the big surprise.  Hehe.

I worked both Saturday and Sunday, and then had my one and only day off on Monday!  I planned a day for Russ and I to spend together and tried to come up with something fun, relaxing, and active.  So we went to Marsh Creek State Park, which I knew would cover all the bases.photo 3 (18)photo 3 (20)

The day started bright and early with a 4 mile run around the ‘hood…photo 1 (29)

And then after packing food and my iced coffee (in a peanut butter jar), we were off!photo 2 (28)

I had never been to Marsh Creek State Park and was amazed that although it was only 15 minutes from WCU, I had never been.  There is a beautiful lake, hiking and bikeing trails, a pool, picnic areas, boats for rent, and fishing.

We started the day with a hike and foraging through the forests for raspberries.  They were all over the place, so I picked & ate all day.photo 5 (16) Russ waited patiently while I picked every berry in sight, and of course, he ate some of the berries since he is Mr. Henny Penny.

After a while, we set up towels and sat under a tree for lunch.photo 3 (19)  Since my parents left me with an empty fridge (#poorcollegekidproblems), our pickins’ were limited.  We had…carrots, pretzels, chips, mac and cheese, yogurt, and pb & j to split.photo 2 (27)  I may have forgotten to pack utensils, so we made spoons out of carrots and pretzels.  It worked…but so did our hands.  #Classy.photo 1 (28)

We lied in the grass for a good while before debating whether or not to go boating.  We (he) decided against it and instead, we went for another hike (walk)…photo 1 (26)

sat by the lake…photo 2 (26)and then drove…to Plato’s Closet.  While he sold clothes (and made $$), I bought clothes (and spent $$).  They gave him $50.00 for clothes!  I have never earned more than $12.00 or so.  Hmm.  Anyway, I found some good things, and since I had $19.00 off, we didn’t pay too much in the end.

The rest of the day was spent packing up Russ’ apartment, eating dinner, and hanging out.

It was a really fun day with Russ and would be especially fun with a big group of friends!  I think I’ll have to add that to my bucket list, huh?  I’m feeling especially grateful for Russ, everything he does, and his ability to make me crack up right before we take a picture.photo 5 (15)Check out that nose flare!

Off to work!

 

Kombucha.

Good Morning!

Ready for the weekend?!  I just need to get through 6 hours of work and then I’m free…besides work tomorrow and Sunday, but you know how that goes.  Wherever you are, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  See you all Monday!

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Have you ever heard of Kombucha?  If you’re like all of my friends and family, then you probably haven’t.  And if you’re my mother, you call it Pombuka.  And if you’re my father, you call it vinegar.  :)

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Kombucha is a raw, fermented, probiotic, and naturally carbonated tea.

There are debates on the health benefits of Kombucha, but this is what I found on the internet: Analysis of the contents of kombucha confirms that it is rich in amino-acids, probiotics, antioxidants, glucuronic acid, trace minerals, B vitamins and more… It is a living, enzyme-rich drink. Just about every established medical research university claims that all these things are excellent for your digestion, immune system, and in the case of amino–acids, glucuronic acid and antioxidants, potentially cancer preventatives etc. etc. 

Pictured above is my second batch of Kombucha.  The Nutrition Department at West Chester has a bit of an underground Kombucha ring going on.  What I mean by that, is that there is a black market for the SCOBY, which is the jelly looking thing floating in the tea.  The SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) is actually what ferments the tea, and with each new batch that is made, a Baby SCOBY is formed, which can be given away for someone to make their own Kombucha.

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You can see it floating around in there.  And here it is from the top:DSC_0065 It’s kind of gross, but I got over that quickly.

Anyway, Kombucha is fairly easy to make, but the entire process takes about a week and a half.  The fun part comes during the second fermentation, when you can decide on the flavors for the Kombucha.DSC_0055-001That’s what you see floating in the bottles.

For this batch, I have the following flavors:

  • Mango
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Apple-Pomegranate
  • Apricot

The best flavor so far is the apple cinnamon because the cinnamon adds sweetness and cuts some of the sharpness of the Kombucha.  I’m looking forward to trying apple-ginger and blueberry in the future.

Anyone want to give it a try?!DSC_0066

**If you would like to know how I make it, please let me know!

 

Breakfast Lately.

Morning, ya’ll.

I hope you are all having a wonderful (and quick) week.  Just today and tomorrow, then we’re home free!  Do you have any plans for the weekend?  I don’t actually have any plans [except work....] and possibly heading out to West Chester on Saturday night, which I. can’t. wait for.  I have been missing my Christine and Bobby time!  Anyway, we will talk more about the weekend tomorrow, mkay?

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been all about breakfast.  Favorite meal of the day, most colorful meal of the day, and definitely the tastiest meal of the day.  I love all the fresh, summer fruit, and of course the big blobs of peanut butter that make their way into my morning meal.  Here are some of the recent eats:photo-32Steel Cut Oats, sliced banana, blueberries, melty peanut butter, iced espresso with milk.

DSC_0178-001His & Hers: Sliced banana, blues, sliced peach, sliced avocado, omelet with cheese, tomato & onion.  This was a good one!

DSC_0174-001Cottage cheese with blueberries, TJs Fiber Cereal, peanut butter

And last, but not least…my breakfast as I type this:DSC_0182-001Oats, juicy sliced peach, cottage cheese, pb & j.

And that’s pretty much been the rotation. Old habits die hard?  See you all tomorrow!

 

 

Merengue @ Vango.

Hey there!

How’s everything been going for ya’ll?  It’s been a busy week, hence the lack of posts, but I’m going to make it a point to get over here every day-ish.  I mean, my job does entail sitting around for 3+ hours a day, so I really have no excuse.

Anyway, yesterday was my day off, so after a full day of cleaning (my mom pays me to do unusual cleaning jobs around the house-holler), I thought it would be fun to go downtown with Russ and work on those Salsa skills that I was starting to acquire in Cusco.

Vango Skybar and Lounge in Philadelphia offers free salsa classes on Monday nights, and free is the way to be, so we went!

Vango

[Image source]

There were too many people there, so the class ended up being Merengue.  I suppose Merengue is easier to teach in a smaller space? They lined all the guys and girls up and then every 45 seconds, or after one move, the guy would shift over and dance with the next girl.  Speed-dancing style.

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It was so, so, so much fun.  Over the course of the hour, we learned 5 steps, and were able to practice with maybe 25 people, and then when the class ended- the dance floor opened up and we practiced and practiced.  Merengue is a lot of spins and turning, so I was getting kind of dizzy (haha), but knowing what the next step will be will really help ease that, I think!

We practiced for about an hour and then headed out since Russ has to be up early in the morning.  I’m already looking for more free lessons in the city, and you better bet that we will be going back!

And after all of that exercise, it was important to refuel with ice cream, obviously.ice cream

Peru: The Last of the Pictures

I have a few extra pictures to share that didn’t really have a place in any of my posts, were uploaded too late, or that I have recently been tagged in on Facebook.

This will probably be my last Peru post (until next time-hopefully), so I’ll say one last time: THANK YOU for reading my posts and for following along on my journey.  I had the most incredible time while I was in Peru, better than I ever imagined and I absolutely cannot wait until my next big adventure.

Hugs & kisses to you all!

Moving along…

My host family & other volunteers:DSC_0159-001

From left: Lisbeth, Stephani, Sierra, Raphael (host dad), Esther (host mom), Silje (best frand), Wet dog (me…straight out of the shower)

One night at a dinner party.  They made Sopa a la Minuta, which was creamy and delicious (and more like Sopa a la Hora haha).  We also attempted to have Salsa lessons.peru1

On our hike up to Saqsaywaman:  This was a fun day.peru2

In a restaurant with a SALAD BAR and Phoebe and Silje tried the grilled meat, which turned out to be kidneys, hearts, intestines, and blood sausage.  Yum!peru3

And I can’t forget this beauty:DSC_0155-002

That’s all!  Have a great day :)

 

 

Peru: Volunteering & Your Very Generous Donations.

Good Morning, everyone!

Although I have been posting glimpses of my days in Peru, I haven’t talked much about or shown much of my volunteering in childcare.  That is why I went, after all.DSC_0954 As I explained before, I went to Peru to volunteer with children for one month.  Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect, just knew I would be doing something with some kids, somewhere. I was placed at Corazon de Dahlia, an after-school program started a few years ago to give the kids in the town of Saylla a place to go after school, do their homework, and wait for their parent to get home from work.DSC_0915 DSC_0917 DSC_0902 I took the bus (with semi-crushed knees :) ) every day through beautiful landscapes until I arrived at my project.DSC_0017-001 DSC_0025-001 With 2 other volunteers, I went everyday for 3 hours, helped kids with their homework, went outside and played games, and helped the teachers with various projects.DSC_0039-003  The teachers at Corazon de Dahlia were so sweet, yet stern with the children and they were all respected by each child.  I don’t know how they found their way to Corazon de Dahlia, but they are amazing with the kids, and it is obvious that the kids absolutely adore them.  Some of the kids come from homes with alcoholism and abuse, so these teachers offer so much more than just help with homework- they offer compassion and warmth to kids that may not have that at home.  I hope that I was able to do that each day for the kids.DSC_0900 DSC_0913 DSC_0924 DSC_0930 DSC_0906 DSC_0911 DSC_0898 DSC_0894 DSC_0891My favorite part of every day was coming and going, because each of the kids would run over to me with a big smile on their face and greet me with a big “HOLA PROFESSORA!” and a kiss.  They are all so sweet.  I love the following picture because the girl to the right of me hardly ever smiled- not when singing, not when dancing, and not when playing.  But on this particular day, she was ALL SMILES and kept asking for me to take pictures.  The girl to my left, however, is usually smiley, but was upset because the girl that’s holding the paper snatched it right before this photo was taken.  Ha.DSC_0922

The kids enjoy reading, coloring, dancing, playing soccer, using chalk, and playing jump rope.DSC_0944  They also spent about an hour each day practicing their song and dance to prepare for a celebration of the four year anniversary of Corazon de Dahlia, when THE Dahlia would be coming to visit (my last day at the project).DSC_0077-001 DSC_0118-001 DSC_0119-002 DSC_0038-001 DSC_0134-001  While I don’t feel that I changed their lives by being there, I know that the volunteers bring lightness into their lives by bringing things that make life easier for them and their families.  When I asked my friends and family to consider making a donation to the children at my project, as well as children at other projects, I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed by the generosity that I received.  A small donation can go a very long way in purchasing products and food for these kids, so raising $127.00 (353 soles) in 3 weeks, meant that I was able to purchase a bunch of things, as well as leave some extra money with specific instructions to be used as needed (which I will continue to update, when that happens!) So what was I able to get?  I asked the teachers at Corazon de Dahlia what would be helpful for the kids, and they provided me with a list of items that can be used often.

–Construction paper for events and crafts

–Soap (6 bottles)

–Hand lotion (2 bottles-1 is not pictured)

–Face lotion, specific for treating extremely dry, scabbed skinDSC_0886–Wart medication:  One day during my last week, I was washing and putting lotion on each of the kids hands.  There was a new boy with us and after he washed his hands, he put his hands out for lotion and I saw that his hands were completely covered in warts.  I knew what they were immediately because I used to get them occasionally as a child.  I went to talk to the teacher, who kind of knew what they were, but I explained that they are easily spreadable to his eyes, mouth, face, and to other kids, if not treated.  So I bought him the medication with specific instructions on how it should be used.  I hope it helps!

–Diapers (2 packs): These weren’t for the kids at my project, but Silje works at a project with special needs kids, where most of them are orphans.  Many of the kids were neglected as a child and never learned, and some just don’t have the ability to go to the bathroom, but all of them are in diapers.  With no government funding, the orphanage is extremely strapped for money, so each child gets one diaper per day.  I tried to ask why they don’t use cloth diapers, as this is a more sustainable solution.  No one could give me an answer, but they said it’s been looked into in the past.  I don’t necessarily think it’s the best choice, but I was happy to be able to help out in a small way.DSC_0964–Fruits and Vegetables:  Again, not for my project, but for Silje’s project.  The kids there eat rice and potatoes, and very rarely do they get meat or produce.  With 50 soles donated, they were able to purchase a lot of fruits and veggies.  While I was not there to deliver them, Silje told me that the children were extremely grateful.  One girl that usually doesn’t speak to Silje, stopped to say thank you and give her a hug for buying produce.  I don’t really think this picture does it all justice, but there was a lot!produce

 –Hand towels (11) and hooks to hang the towels (19):  When Silje and I went to El Molino, we went on a hunt to find hand towels and hooks for the kids at my project.  They all share the same towel when they wash their hands which is 1) always wet, and 2) unsanitary because I don’t think it’s washed often.  We bought every towel that was sold in bright colors because I think this is an inviting and fun way to remind the kids to WASH THEIR HANDS!  The teachers loved them, especially because everyone gets a hook.  I wish we could have found more.  I also don’t have a picture–I’m sorry!

–Fruits, cereal, and yogurt for cooking day! The kids at corazon de Dahlia don’t usually get a snack while they’re there, so on the days that they do, it’s a special treat!  The volunteers are encouraged to bring talents and interests to their projects, so I wanted to bring my love for [healthy] cooking.  While parfaits aren’t really cooking, the kids learned all about making sure to carefully wash the fruit, how to be careful when cutting fruit, why fruit is healthy, and how to layer a parfait.  The eat so much candy (part of the reason their teeth are rotting), so this was a great way to show them that healthy food can be sweet, too!  They LOVED the food and kept giving me hugs.  I wish I could have brought a snack every day!photo 3 (13) photo 3 (14) photo 4 (11) photo 2 (21) photo 1 (21)

 

–Money Donated: I donated 50 soles to be used as needed in the coming weeks.  I left specific instructions for them to purchase games (most games are missing many pieces),hygiene products, etc.  And they will let me know when and what is purchased, which I will update on here.

–Money Donated: I donated 20 soles to Silje’s project to be used for medication.  There is a child at her project that has seizures often, but with no money, there is no medication.  The medication is very expensive, so with that money and other donations, they will be able to purchase at least a month’s worth.

Once again, a very, very, very big THANK YOU to everyone that generously donated money to the kids in Cuzco.  Whatever your contribution was, you made a HUGE difference in their lives and we (the kids, me) can’t thank you enough.

And finally, a very special thank you to:

~CL

~Ancy Thomas

~AC

~Arlene Carr

~James Vasta

~Everyone that shared my GoFundMe page

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

 

Peru: San Pedro Market & El Molino Market, & Out and About

During my last couple of days in Peru, I tried to soak up as much of the culture as possible.  There is a big market near the Plaza de Armas called San Pedro Market where they sell…everything.  Fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, grains, nuts, pasta, textiles, clothing, meals, fresh juices, and so much more!  It was fun to walk around and take pictures, and with all this hubba bubba about farm-to-table, well, this is the place to make that happen.  Right?!DSC_0978 DSC_0977 DSC_0976 DSC_0980 DSC_0981 DSC_0974 DSC_0971 DSC_0970 DSC_0967 DSC_0982 DSC_0984 DSC_0985

Cuy [Guinea Pigs]DSC_0986 DSC_0989 DSC_0013-001 DSC_1002 DSC_1000Even dogs are welcome!DSC_0991

And the flowers were incredible:DSC_0008-001 DSC_0007-001 DSC_0006-002 DSC_0003-002

Besides the San Pedro Market, Silje and I also ventured over to El Molino, which from what I understand, is a black market that is tolerated by the government.  It’s a great place to pick up goods and food for a price that is a bit lower than can what be found in the store.  We went there to purchase donations for the kids at our project, which I actually have an entire post about.  Until then, here are some pictures from our morning at El Molino.photo 5 (12) photo 5 (13) photo 2 (24) photo 1 (25) photo 1 (24)

And after all of the walking around, we popped into one of the restaurants and got a big bowl of chicken noodle soup with a hard-boiled egg and our favorite little corn nuts–all for just over $1.00!photo 2 (25) photo 3 (17)

We also picked up a few packages of diapers for the kids at Silje’s projeects.  Have you ever been on the bus with 3 packs of Adult-Medium diapers?  What an experience.  I think Silje could have actually used them, she had food poisoning when we bought these…10527372_10203942760266752_4516218347324342056_n

In addition to spending time meandering through markets, we also spent many of my last few nights out and about at the clubs, bars, and at salsa lessons.  I loved going out each night (once I was able to peel myself off the couch, that is).  And whatdoyaknow-I fell in love with salsa dancing.  I’m still nowhere near good, but I want to keep learning and keep taking lessons!  Just need to find some clubs that offer it…photo 4 (14) photo 2 (23) photo 1 (20) photo 5 (14)Or maybe I should go back to Peru as soon as possible.  Yep, that sounds like a good plan.

One day, one day soon.DSC_0152-001

Chao!

 

 

Peru: Day 15-Now (Day 27??) Inca Jungle Trek

************Edited to add pictures****************

Wow, it has been way, way, way too long since I´ve been on here.  Part of it has been that I haven´t uploaded any pictures to the computer (since I don´t think the family likes it) and the other part of it has been that I have been out and about.

I am updating now because I have an hour to kill before visiting a few markets with my roommate, Silje, but I also want to write down as much of this experience as I can…before it all becomes a blur.

–Many pictures in this post are courtesy of Amber.  I will be adding my own as soon as I can upload them.–

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Friday June 27, 2014

So where did we leave off?  Over a week ago, it was a Friday morning when I last posted and we were getting ready to go visit the local zoo.DSC_0639

The zoo had condores, pumas, monkeys, parrots, and other small animals, in cages that were too small and made me feel really sorry for the animals.  We were also able to get incredibly close to most of them, as in…put our hands in the cages.  I didn´t touch any of them (but I did hold a monkey the next day!)1pic DSC_0707 DSC_0692 DSC_0688 DSC_0677 2pic DSC_0673 DSC_0669 DSC_0655 DSC_0648 DSC_0643 The zoo was the size of a large backyard, so we walked around for about 45 minutes and then got out of there.  I wish I could have brought all those animals with me…

After the zoo, we walked to a market that we wanted to check out and picked up some snacks for our 4 day Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu, which we left for the next morning.  I was on a money saving kick (which has since gone down the toilet) and bought a bag of peanuts and some crackers, then we took a very long bus ride home.  Those parades were never ending!

After my project later that afternoon, I took a very long bus ride to Chabad services and dinner.DSC_0628 DSC_0636

Welp, I ended up getting lost after already being really late, so I missed the services, but I was able to have dinner.  Unfortunately, everyone at the table spoke Hebrew and only Hebrew (at least to each other) so I sat quietly, ate, and got out of there.  Would I have gone back?  Yes.  But with friends and/or sat at a table with people that speak English or Spanish.  At least the food was good.

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Saturday June 28, 2014

We booked a trip to Machu Picchu called IncaJungle that would take us 4 days to complete, with hiking, mountain biking, hot springs swimming, white-water rafting, zip-lining, and of course, to Machu Picchu.

Saturday started semi-early with a bus ride to Ollantaytambo then continued on waaaaay up a mountain (with a driver that drives too fast around curves and cliffs and passes other drivers and makes girls in our van cry hysterically…).  But we survived.  We were given ¨mountain bikes¨ with sketchy brakes, a bright orange vest, and then rode down the mountain, on the same road as those crazy drivers.

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Do I look scared??

To say I was afraid would be an understatement.  I gripped the shotty brakes for dear life and had sore hands for days. At least Amber was afraid, too :) 0101

But after about 45 minutes, I calmed down and gained some speed (but not too much, mom).  The views were incredible…we could see miles of mountains, fog, and animals along the road.6pic  Oh, and the crosses with biker vests were comforting, too (not).

We had lunch (some people went white water rafting), saw some animals, we went to a bar called The Only Bar, we had dinner, we went back to The Only Bar.  The end…DSC_0723 DSC_0716DSC_0726  The end.017

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Sunday June 29, 2014

I slept really well the night before, despite a kitten coming in our room and snuggling on my bed.  Two of the girls in our room were trying to chase it out with a flashlight, but I slept through that entire fiasco. Haha.

Day 2 of Inca Jungle is all about hiking.  So hiking, we did.  For about 8 hours.  It wasn´t so hard because we took breaks often and it felt like we went up for 1 hour and down for 7.  But I love, love, love hiking and enjoyed all of the walk-hikes that we did.DSC_0743  Down scares the bejeezus out of me, but up is completely fine.032

At one of our stops, I was able to hold a monkey ¨that doesn´t like girls¨.  Trust me, this monkey loves girls.  Too much.  As you can see in the pictures.DSC_0736 DSC_0740023

Along the way, we learned about coca leaves, their use, coffee bean harvesting and production, cocoa beans, and more.  I can´t remember the name, but there was an alcohol that they drink with a dead snake in it.  Yum..?  Some people had their faces painted with a natural red color:7pic

As expected, the views were amazing (as long as I was holding on to the rocks behind me, as far away from the ledge as possible…). 061048

Going down the mountain took some time since I have a huge fear of slipping and falling, but it was really fun to walk over the various landscapes and terrains.DSC_0749 DSC_0748 DSC_0747055082

At one point, we had to cross the rushing river and were told to bring money for the ¨cable car¨.  Hahaha…cable car.  This was a cable with a basket hanging from it and two people sit inside and are pulled across.

085DSC_0762  Then you pay the nice gentleman 5 soles for allowing you to live.  I thought it was hilarious and really fun.

Our 8 hour hike ended in a glorious way- at the natural hot springs.  They didn´t need to tell me twice to change and go swim.  I was in the hot water within minutes, and it. was. awesome.  That was my second time at a hot spring and it truly is amazing how it´s natural (besides all of the tourists that flock there…).089

We were given the option to take the bus to the next town, or continue hiking.  I decided to hike.  They said one hour, but it was more like 25 minutes of hiking up-hill, which I didn´t mind.

At the hostel, while waiting for the rest of the group, I took an ice cold shower (with no towel…I used my sweaty clothes as a towel!) and put on semi-clean clothes.

Then dinner, drinks, disco, disco, disco, drama, drama, drama, no sleep.

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Monday June 30, 2014

With little sleep, I was surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  After a quick breakfast, I was off with Amber and Rosh to go zip-lining.  Let me just say that I have been ziplining twice.  Once I did it and once I freaked out and climbed back down the tree.  So I knew that this could have gone one of two ways.

When we got to the ziplining course, my stomach flipped when I saw that we would be ziplining from mountain to mountain, ABOVE the valleys.  Way above the valleys.  I gave myself a little pep-talk and decided to just…do it.  So do it, I did, and it was amazing!

7picWe literally flew above the valleys and river.  We were each able to do 5 lines, and by the 3rd, I was ready to try it upside-down (sorry ma).  It wasn´t as scary as you would think.5pic 3pic1078pic

What was scary, however, was this wooden bridge above the trees that we crossed. 113

Amber and I were like, oh that looks easy!  Ha.  No one told us we would have to unclip our harness at certain points and clip back in WITHOUT falling, while there are certain people that think it´s funny to swing the bridge as hard as they could.  Trust me, I yelled at them (and then apologized when I was safely on the ground).

I was happy to be safe and sound with our group again and vowed never to climb any bridges like that again.

That was, until after lunch.  We had a 3 hour walk down the train tracks after lunch.  There were certain points where the tracks crossed a small bridge and you just had to use the wood planks to cross.  Of course it was nothing like earlier that morning, but I was having dejavu haha.138DSC_0873

Finally, finally, finally, we arrived in Aguas Calientes, which is the town at the base of Machu Picchu. It was colorful and lively, and reminded me of Disney World.156DSC_0881DSC_0880DSC_0878

We were able to take a HOT shower with GREAT water pressure, and again, put on semi-clean clothes.  Then we walked around some, had dinner, bought food for the next day, and called it a night fairly early.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Machu Picchu day.  We were up at 3:55 am to get up to Machu Picchu right when it opened (at 6 am).  My 5:00, we were at check point numero 1, and then we walked up almost 2,000 steps to checkpoint numero 2, which was the entrance to Machu Picchu.DSC_0872214

I decided it would be fun to get up those almost 2,000 steps as fast as possible and refused to let any other group pass me, so I ran….and was soaked in sweat at the top.  But it was fun and two guys that tailed me the entire time shook my hand at the top and then took pictures with the crazy girl that ran up to Machu Picchu.

[Some basic information about Machu Picchu: The Incas built the estate around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. It was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911]

It was hot getting up there, but I was FREEZING at the top, with just a t-shirt.  It was foggy, so we didn´t see the sunrise (or much of anything else).DSC_0782 DSC_0775  It was really, really hard for me to pay attention during our tour due to the lack of visibility, but within a few hours, the fog cleared and were were able to see everything and it was incredible.DSC_0839 DSC_0809 DSC_0804 DSC_0803 DSC_0844 DSC_0852 DSC_0856 DSC_0859 212221

We hiked up to the Sun ____ (something…can´t remember the name right now) thinking it was the place where everyone takes the iconic Machu-Picchu picture.  Oops, an hour later and a straight-hike up, we realized it was at the BASE of the mountain.  Way to go.  At least the views were worth it.DSC_0862

We hiked back down, took our pictures, and then made our way down the almost-2000 steps.  So. much. harder than going up.

After half showering in the sink at the hostel and some food, Amber and I took the train back to Cusco.  Originally, we were going to take the bus, but after seeing the crosses on the side of the road, along with stories of people praying in the vans, we decided our lives are worth an additional $70 and took the train home.

I am running out of time, but I have more updates to come.  I promise not to leave you all hanging for that long.

Thanks for reading!

Edited to add: The 4 day trip was a definite highlight during my time in Peru and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet everyone and have really great experiences with them.  Thank you, to you all!  I will never forget those 4 days :) DSC_0796

Day 12 & 13 & 14: San Pedro Market & Out to Dinner & Washing Hands

–Lack of pictures in this post.  They won´t load!–

Wednesday:

Hello, Hello!

Wednesday started on a healthy note!  I went to bed with half of an idea that I would wake up and go for a run, but mostly I felt that it wouldn´t happen.  It just so happened that the trash truck parked outside of the house was BLASTING music, so I was up and ready to run at 7:20 am.  I ran for right around 30 mins, and also incorporated about 200 lunges and 60 push-ups along the way.  It was a good way to start the day!

After showering, dressing, eating, catching bus, etc, we all walked over to the San Pedro Market, which is a fairly large market that features products, clothing, materials, goods, and FOOD!  Lots of food.  It almost reminded me of the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, but not as clean ;)

We then walked around to 3 or 4 tour companies to compare prices to Machu Picchu.  They all want our business, so it´s fairly easy to get the priced knocked down.  (Yay)

Then, back to the volunteer center to use the computer, get a little work done and then back home for lunch!  Lunch was chicken, rice, and some veggies.  Pretty tasty.

After lunch, back to Corazon de Dahlia.  A lot of kids showed up, so we did homework, read books, and played games.  We also took them outside and played a simple game of jumping over shoes in different ways, and they LOVED it.

After work, I headed home and then met Amber and 2 other new volunteers in town for dinner.  We were all starving and they were in the mood for ¨normal food¨so we went to a ¨Grill meat/ pasta/pizza¨place.  The best part about the place was the SALAD BAR!  Omg I almost died of happiness.

I also had a pizza, but only ate half.  It was good, but I was stuffed and happy on veggies.  Plus…I can eat typical American blah food at home.

Then we went home and I fell asleep quickly, quickly.

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Thursday:

In the morning, I woke up for breakfast (TWO pb & banana sandwiches) and then went for a run/walk thing with Amber.  When I got back, I was feeling lazy and sleepy, so I showered and then crawled back into bed for a nap.  I really didnt want to get up, but the smell of food got me up.

We had lunch (rice & beans), then back to Corazon de Dahlia.  Yesterday was the best day there, by far.  I love helping the kids wash their hands and use the lotion and they LOVE IT.10422093_10202350320987573_3117103649949441664_n 10351731_10202350322427609_837362217676212261_n  I don´t know if it´s the excitement of getting to do something ¨fun¨or if they like it because it helps their poor cracked hands feel better.  Either way, I love seeing them excited about it.  After we got through everyone´s hands (with minimal water on the floor!), I played a form of Jenga with 3 of the kids, which turned into us builiding towers and then knocking them down.10513404_10202350340188053_202352939852281381_n (1) 10487368_10202350339388033_4046051482462745312_n 10463933_10202350330027799_4137494045561801597_n 10458493_10202350333827894_3977160180734689077_n (1) 10455309_10202350335627939_7537664505626671219_n 10306232_10202350336267955_8219737774504524892_n 10516751_10202350339428034_3982599791927192680_n  I also spoke with the director about having a cooking lesson next week, which I am sooooooo excited to do.  We will be making parfaits with fresh fruit, yogurt and some cereal.  I think they´ll love it.

After the project, it was back home for dinner, which was spaghetti with chicken and then flan for dessert.  It was really tasty, but of course no one does it like Mama.

After dinner, Amber and I walked to the store and then had another lazy night at home.  It´s so hard to get myself to get up and go out into the cold for the bars!

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Friday:

We woke up earlier today, had breakfast, then took a taxi to town.  We wanted to get an earlier start because we have a lot to do this morning!

We booked a 4 day trip to Machu Picchu for tomorrow-Tuesday, which includes ziplining, mountain biking, hiking, hot springs and rafting if we choose.  I´m excited!  Look for pictures next week.

I also walked up to the Chabad in Cusco because I´m planning to go their tonight for dinner and wanted to reserve my spot.

We are about to head out to the zoo for the rest of the morning, so I´ll be back next week with more updates!

Later gators!