Thursday, June 10, 2010


As my time here draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about all of the people and things that have gotten me through the past five months in good humor. In no particular order, here they are:

The Magic Bean for keeping their ice cream stand open until 10:30 pm. Every day of the week. for streaming LOST to those of us outside the continental U.S. and its territories.
Bungalow 6 for hosting the best Ladies Night in all of Quito every Wednesday.
The Supermaxi chain for providing most comforts of home and fresh bread at all hours.
David and the Gimnasio Forcenter staff for pumping the jams every morning while I learned how to pump iron.
The senoras for teaching me the secret to getting married on Monday afternoons.
My family for putting up with my spotty contact and for their hugs, felt even a hemisphere away.
Jimmy for making every day at FUDIS one to enjoy and for all of my huevos fritos.
The Team for their care packages and emails.
The owners of the Linksys wireless network whose internet I stole for the better part of 4 months.
My VASE friends for making every trip a true adventure, even if it was only to the Mariscal.
Coffee & Toffee for their chocolate volcano and their Wi-Fi.
Bob Marley and the Black Eyed Peas for providing the soundtrack to my time in Ecuador.
Sylvia for teaching me how to salsa like a pro.
My Kindle for saving me a fortune in baggage fees and making me look like a huge nerd.
Lonely Planet’s Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands Guide for being my bible and almost never steering me wrong.
Reese’s Pieces for being so damn delicious.
Café Killari for not charging tax, ever.
The best friends in the world for making me smile every time I opened my inbox.

Monday, June 7, 2010


In the interest of making the most of my time here in South America, I headed south to check out Peru last week. My tireless and trusty travel buddy Olga and I spent ten days exploring the country on the well-traveled gringo trail, hitting all of the major sightseeing stops. Here are my top five:

#1 Machu Picchu

Ever since one fateful episode of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” back in the 90’s, it’s been a life goal to check out these Inca ruins. Perched between two mountains (Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu) in the cloud forest, this incredible city actually left me speechless. And we all know how rare that is. I still really don't have adequate words to describe it; all I can say is that it's absolutely worth seeing.

#2 Huacachina

I was expecting the Peruvian coast to be similar to what I’ve seen in Ecuador – green and humid. Huacachina was anything but. We headed there to try sandboarding in the giant dunes of the Peruvian desert – I’m surprised I wasn’t detained at the airport for the amount of sand still lodged in my clothes and body after a week. Watching the sun set over the dunes was an experience I’ll never forget.

#3 Nazca

When I first heard about giant lines in the desert hundreds of kilometers long that appear as animals when viewed from the air, I was skeptical. After all, what ancient culture was advanced enough to pull off something like that? The Nazca, that’s who. Olga and I rented a tin can – errrr hired a plane – to check them out for ourselves. Definitely didn’t disappoint.

#4 Lake Titicaca

Aside from making me laugh every time I say the name, Lake Titicaca is a breathtakingly beautiful place (not just the scenery – it’s the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,500 ft). We visited the floating islands of Uros, which are built on layers and layers of tortora reeds and spent the night with a family on Amanti Island where we were treated to live music and dancing. We also toured Taquile Island and took in some amazing views of the lake and the snow-capped mountains of Bolivia.

#5 Iglesia de San Francisco

We only had a day in Lima for sightseeing, but the highlight was checking out the catacombs below the San Francisco church. Said to be Lima’s first cemetery, there are thousands of bones and skulls arranged in creepy patterns lying underneath the church. Lucky for me it’s open to the public and I was able to get my fix of South American Strangeness for the day.