Explore. Dream. Discover

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A year ago next month, I got on a plane headed to South America with a poorly packed backpack, a camera and a passport. I remember how excited, anxious and curious I was about what was going to happen in the next few months. When I arrived in Quito, I had no plans on what was going to happen next… all I knew was that I needed to eventually get to Rio de Janeiro, to fly back home in December.
I kept a journal to jot down all the important details, and highlighted the good stuff on this blog— I am so happy that you and I can look back on the adventure.

I traveled over 300 hours by bus, spent the night in countless hostels/hotels and made some incredible friends from all over the world.  (I can’t help but smile just thinking about how much fun I had.)

the view from my place

Fast forward to 2013.  I’m working now, hosting and reporting in San Diego (I love this place!)
I’m thinking about my next trip, dreaming up ideas of where to go and what to do.  This time, I can’t quit my job and take off for six months. I like it here too much and I’m happy!

Here are some of my favorite posts from 2012– 

My birthday at Iguazu falls

Wine time in Mendoza

Salt Flats in Bolivia

the trek to Machu Picchu

Soaking up the sun in Lobitos–

Whale watching in Ecuador

and partying in Brazil

Inca Jungle Trek

Christopher tells me that I stopped updating the blog, just when things started getting really exciting on our trip. I can`t help it, most of my free time has been spent with family and reading¨50 shades of gray¨, which I have now finally finished!

 My sister arrived in Cuzco September 7th, and the three of us spent a few days bouncing around several hostels before booking our Machu Picchu trip. We knew going into it, that it was too late to book the Inca Trail… you have to do that months in advance. So it was between the Salkantay trek, and the Inca Jungle Trek. We opted for the Jungle trek, since it was jam packed with more activities…rather than just hiking for 4 straight days. We booked the trip with Rasgos del Peru at Pariwana Hostel for about $200. Our tour guide was awesome, and we spent the next four days with some really cool peeps!

Day 1- Everyone met at the hostel in Cuzco at 7¨30 in the morning, three hours later we arrived at the point where the mountain biking would begin. Everyone strapped on their knee and elbow pads, grabbed a helmet and picked out their bikes before we took off. The view down the mountain was stellar. I can´t remember how long the ride was…I´m guessing 3-4 hours, but it was very easy and only one person fell off the bike, because he was trying to take a picture while riding.

We arrived in Santa Maria at about 3:30, ate lunch and changed into our bathing suits so we could go river rafting. I have to admit, I was a little terrified, but our instructor was very cool, and the fear washed away within a few minutes. The rafting costs $30 extra…but if you have never done it before, rafting in the Rio Urubamba is super cool and well worth it. We made our way back to the hostel just after the sunset, and we packed into the van soaking wet. I thought our room was a little dirty, but since it was already included in out tour, there really wasn´t much I could say or do about it.

Day 2- This was our trekking day… it was supposed to be an 8 hour trek to a town called Santa Theresa, but our group cheated, and after lunch we cut the walk short and took a cab to the hot springs. The walk was a bit intense for my taste, but there were lots of places to stop and buy water and snacks. We walked by a Coca plantation and took several breaks to take pictures. Jumping into the hot springs was so relaxing after the long walk, and I was grateful Chris volunteered to take my stuff in his bag! Did I mention our group was awesome, because they were!

Day 3- After breakfast our groups separated and we went to two different mountains for zip lining. I paid $25 extra to have my heart skip a few beats before strapping onto the line. Chris has a fear of heights and at the last minute, decided he didn´t want to zip line on the six lines. My sister had done it before in Panama, so she was one of the first ones in the group to go. In the afternoon we ate lunch, drank beer and wine, and started walking along the railroad tracks to Aguas Calientes. It was an easy, flat walk, and we got to see Machu Picchu from afar. It was exciting to see a glimpse of a place I always knew I would see at some point in my life. After the 3 hour walk we settled into a hostel in Aguas Calientes, ate dinner, and went to bed early since our guide wanted to head to Macchu Pichu at 4:30 in the morning.

Day 4– It´s tough to wake up so early in the morning, but when your walking to Machu Picchu, who cares! The walk up the mountains was brutal… I trailed behind everyone, but to be honest I thought I was going to pass out a few times. Chris ran up the stairs and forgot he had his passport in my bag. Our friend Jennifer told him it was best to get to the top before sunrise, because there aren´t that many people inside Machu Picchu, but he got stuck outside MP because he didn´t have any identification or his ticket on him. He was not happy when he had to wait an hour for me. Oops!

In the morning, the weather was perfect, and we walked around for a few hours before it started to rain. We stayed inside MP for about 8 hours, I didn´t care about getting wet. I mean… when is the next time I´m going to be back there, ya know.

I´m bummed my camera broke during the trek, but my sister took plenty of pics I´m sure you have probably seen all over facebook.  That experience was so much fun, I would do it again in a heartbeat!


My body was sore for three days after sand boarding in Huacachina, possibly due to the fact that I rarely exercise or maybe it was the countless falls in the sand. I’m guessing both!

Chris and I arrived in Ica, and took a 5 soles cab ride to Huacachina.  Our taxi driver recommended hostel Carolina del Sur.  The price was good and there was a pool, so that made our decision making process very simple.

The next day we booked a tour with the hostel for 45 soles each ($17), which included 2 hours of sandboarding and a dune buggy ride throughout the dunes.  What an experience!  Our driver was crazy….or at least his driving skills were! It was like a rollercoaster ride in the middle of the dunes.
I took a few tumbles and Chris cut up his finger on a piece of metal in the sand, but all in all it was a pretty sweet deal!