South America – Whats Up

Hello again! It has been awhile.

I’m currently hanging out in Cusco Peru, studying Spanish for modern language credit. I’ll be here until the beginning of May and then I’ll hit up Chile and Bolivia before I catch a flight back home at the end of May. I’m super stoked to be here- everything is so colorful and alive and wonderful!!! But I thought I’d update everyone on my first week (ish) because. You guys. It has been a journey.

So I arrived a little over a week ago after traveling TWENTY SEVEN HOURS and dying a little bit inside. We flew from KCI > Houston > Mexico City > Lima > Cusco. We had doable layovers at every airport except Lima. We were there from 10 pm to 4 am which would be fine except there was nowhere to sleep or even sit and we had all of our luggage with us (2 big suitcases, 2 hiking backpacks, and carry ons). Everyone lined up against the walls of the airport to sleep on the floor, and when we eventually found a free wall spot, we ended up getting yelled at by an airport employee and had to move. It was the longest layover of our lives. I guess I should also note that when I say we, I am referring to my friend from college who is studying abroad with me.

Anyway, one thing I will say that the Mexico City and Lima airports are like really confusing to navigate. We had to lug our baggage around in all sorts of directions because we kept getting pointed in the wrong direction and the airport signs were super misleading so DISCLAIMER: If you ever find yourself trying to get a connecting flight from these airports, prepare to be frustrated. (Either that, or maybe we were just to tired from our travels to think straight. Not sure we’ll ever know.)

But yeah, after our long layover, crying baby on our Lima flight, and an airport scam in Cusco, we finally made it. I think the first thing we noticed was that it was chillier than we expected. The altitude is around 11,000 ft, so even though it’s South America and right next to the equator, it always feels like fall weather here WHICH consequently is my favorite month so no complaints.

Anyway, throughout all the trials, I have to say that it all turned out to be worth it. I’m having such a bomb time here and time is already flying by so fast with how many activities we have through our school and of course- classes.

So yeah! Peru is great but there are some things that just completely caught me off guard and I just wanted to note a couple of quirky Peru things that I’ve learned about since I’ve been here because there has been:

  1. You usually have to pay to pet the alpacas. It’s a form of income for a lot of local families. 😦
  2. A lot of times you have to grab your toilet paper before you enter the stall because there is none inside. It’s a way of creating less waste.
  3. The street dogs are really friendly compared to Central America. Except at night when they form packs of like 20, then they are kind of scary.
  4. Tortillas are not really a big thing here. Staple foods have mostly been rice, meat, beans, and bread.
  5. And….NO ONE WEARS SANDALS. Or shorts really outside because of the altitude it’s easy to catch a cold so everyone usually covers up, even in the house they never go barefoot or without socks.

Of course I’m sure some of these things might be specific to Cusco or maybe just my host family, but those have been my inner shocks so far. Anyway, a lot has happened since the first week, and I have loads more photos but that will have to wait until I have enough time to upload them with an iffy wifi connection.

I’m not sure how to rearrange these pictures into the right order so they are a little all over the place but nonetheless-

 

 

 

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Not even sure which flight this was but I will always be a sucker for plane photos

 

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Yet another.

 

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MOUNTAINS I SEE YOU.

 

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Taken inside our ISA building – where we take classes.

 

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San Pedro market – like a real life rainbow. Look at all the colllloooorssss. MIRA

 

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Val sporting an alpaca hat. Classing things only pls.

 

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Sleeping on the floor in Lima ft. fat toes.

 

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Our view from the gym.

 

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So this is sheep meat for sale in the market. Not pictured, there was also a jug of sheep collagen juice that Peruvians drink to keep their joints healthy. To each their own :)))))

 

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Your typical Peruvian dinner- rice, veggies, and meat. Super simple but super good and also very healthy. A concept

 

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I will always take pictures of market fruits. Cheap, local, and so yum!!!

 

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On a less yum note, a pig head. A little vom.

 

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All estas cosas are hecho de mano (hand-made) at the place where I bought my first alpaca sweater.

 

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Omg everyone ok this is Bob, our house dog. He’s a Peruvian dog which means that he doesn’t have any hair, except on his head and his tail. We have a love hate relationship but he’s kinda cute.

 

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Being touristy and taking pictures of arches.

 

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More touristy things. This was taken at a church during an ISA activity.

 

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Val and I stood and contemplated this mural for a good 10 minutes like the true Anth students we are.

 

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This is the street that our house is on. It is quaint and everyone is old

 

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BOB!!

 

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Another market photo – pretty sure they were selling freshly squeezed fruit juice.

 

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This is the machine they make all the clothes on – super intricate.

 

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View from the Temple of the Sun. BELLEZA.

 

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In the garden area of our house! Everything is so GREEN HERE

 

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Reading up on our Peru National Geographic.

 

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I mean. Come on. This is awesome.

 

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Stephanie. A wholesome gal in a wholesome city.

 

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Artsy bag photo in my new room!

 

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A street in San Blas – right after we bought some choco banano bread.

 

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FLORES.

 

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Another room pic. Aw.

 

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Just a woman and her alpaca Paulito! Ya’ll I am still obsessed with this animal. Peep the next picture.

 

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hAvE yOu EvEr sEEn something so PURE!!!!

 

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White Christ. What is up my dude.

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Apprecitating all the nubes and the montañas.

 

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Val en route.

 

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One of our first pictures in Cusco. Look how pretty!! Oh also look at the city!

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La Plaza de Armas. Tal vez my favorite spot here.

 

 

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Two Homes

When people ask me how Guatemala was, my go-to reply is: “It was really good.” Then they say something to the equivalent of ‘im glad you had a good time’ and then we move on to another topic completely.

Good. It was really good. Sometimes that’s all people want to hear. Sometimes it’s the easiest response. Sometimes it’s the only way you can sum up and put into words the most substantially profound experience of your life.

In truth though, this time in my life deserves so much more than being classified as a ‘good’ time. Even so, I can’t seem to find words to express myself in this instance. Great? Amazing? Life changing? Magical? Time stoppingly awesome? Nope. These words don’t come close to any sort of explanation I’m seeking.

And with that, I’m stumped. The love I feel inside for this country and my time in it, will never be able to be truly communicated. While this frustrates me, I guess it’s also what makes the experience so special.

But where there’s a lack of words, there’s an abundance of photos, and these are the closest things I have to communicating everything I have felt and am feeling.

So, pictures.

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Walking through the market in Santiago- had to snap these delicious looking fruits.

 

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A stunning view from the top of Cerro de Oro- a hike that almost killed me.

 

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Without nature, there’s no life.

 

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My roomie, Josie, getting a confetti egg cracked on top of her head during Semana Santa.

 

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One of the highlights- day trip to the pools of Quixaya. 

 

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Crazy intricate and beautiful ‘carpets’ for Semana Santa.

 

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My absolute favorite Semana Santa carpet. Photo creds to Gato!

 

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View from the top of our sunrise hike.

 

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The 3 amigas! Alex and Heather, I love you two. 🙂

 

 

 

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What did we do to deserve sunrises?

 

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Minor, Heather, Alex, Josie- the gangs all here!

 

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First leg of our Semuc Champey trip- getting up at 5:30, riding in the back of a pick up truck to receive our 10 hour long shuttle ride!

 

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By far the coolest part of Semuc Champey- the cave tour. The whole thing is a candle lit tour.

 

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Before or after I skinned my knee on an underwater rock?? Idk.

 

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THE VIEW. Pretty pretty waterfalls.

 

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Ignore the fact that I look like a 5 year old boy in this picture and just look at how much fun we are having swimming under the waterfalls.

 

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River floating with the beer salesmen, ft Alex’s feet.

 

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Literally the only picture I took inside of a tuk tuk. Aka: Guatemalan uber.

 

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Thank you Dylan, for the bed-full of confetti. Happy Semana Santa! 

 

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The amount of Quetzales I spent on bottles of pop is probably sky high and I have no regrets. Not a single one.

 

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One of our favorite taco shops in San Lucas, with the central park in the background.

 

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I originally posted this picture on instagram with the caption ‘my love for ice cream knows no borders’ and then my mom instantly texted me to express her concern about my fingernails. Just a little side note about doing construction for 3 months in Guatemala- your fingernails along with the rest of your body never seem to be clean. Sorry mom!!!

 

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St. Patty’s Day beers with the ladies at Casa Vieja.

 

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We had to scavenge for green food dye for this, but worth it.

 

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The infamous chicken bus ride to Chichicastenango. Nothing says Guatemala like overstuffing transportation systems!

 

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Semuc Champey!!! Such a magical place that I will never forget. Featuring lady picking her wedgie right smack in the middle.

 

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This is my buddy Renee. And my other buddy, dog that I never learned the name of. Renee and I would do yoga together down by the lake in the mornings and this dog would always want to join in. Maybe her name should be Yogi.

 

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The last picture I took in Guatemala: the view from our roof, clotheslines and all. I already miss seeing this on a daily basis.

 

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My view every morning at yoga. It honestly can’t get any more beautiful than this.

 

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Just because I love artsy yoga pictures. (This was a floating dock and was very hard to pose on.)

 

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Just one more 🙂

 

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This picture was taken on the day we learned how to cook Chili Rellenos at the women’s center. The aesthetic these chilis have deserved to be photographed.

 

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La jefa, doing what she does best: working it in her fedora!!!

 

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Kayaking in San Pedro!

 

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Josie’s birthday cake- definitely as good as it looked. Felicidades!

 

 

 

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One of my favorite pictures EVER. The serenity is unreal.

 

 

I’ve been home for a little over a week now, and while the transition back was a bit strange, I seem to be falling right back into the swing of things. It’s nice to be back in the land of air conditioning, flushable toilets, english speakers, and most importantly….free refills!!!

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me and kept in touch during my travels- it means more than you know. Until next time!

 

Mattie

Mi Vida Guatemalteca

I’ve been living in Guatemala for almost a month now. My mom has been asking a lot of questions about my when my next blog post will be and when I’m going to post my pictures, so I figured it’s about time I do both. These are for you, mom!

 

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My neighborhood in Xela, where I attended Spanish immersion school. Miss it!!

 

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The view from my 2 hour hike to the tip top of Volcano Chicabal.

 

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I’m a sucker for some pretty flowers.

 

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1 million stairs. Or at least it felt like it.

 

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The view from the hike. The flowers were left over from a Mayan ceremony- obviously a kodak moment.

 

 

 

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One of my first outings in Xela- the cemetery. Almost everyone is buried above ground in these colorful graves.

 

 

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A very fancy grave sight.

 

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This was the view on the walk to the Fuentes Georginas. Just the right amount of spooky.

 

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This picture doesn’t show for it, but these waves were gnarly.

 

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Beach side view from a stunning black sand beach.

 

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I stole this coconut from a friend just to get this picture…worth it.

 

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This dog might have been mangy, but friendly nonetheless. I named him Arthur.

 

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A night out of karaoke and shots with my Celas Maya friends. I miss you people dearly!!!

 

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A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. Captured this pic while in the bathroom at a bar in Xela- loved it.

 

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Spanish scrabble on my last day of class with my dear teacher Carlos.

 

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Countless women with countless stories from Trama in Xela.

 

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First sighting of Lake Atitlan. It’s good to be back!

 

 

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The swinging bridge to Nueva Providencia. Beautiful but a little scary…I’m lying, a lotta scary.

 

 

 

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Sweet sweet Jennifer snacking on some tasty watermelon. Love this little one!

 

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A couple of awesome kiddos from one of the stove sights. Adorable!

 

Ok- sorry it’s not more but that’s all I have to show for this month. I have been really busy doing construction work with the mission and taking pictures often slips my mind. Next month I will try to post again with more photos. Anyway, for those who are wondering, I am absolutely loving my time in Guatemala. I have been truly touched by the people, culture, and work I have been involved with in my short time here so far. (to make a long story short) 🙂

Thanks for reading once again. I hope everyone is well at home. Until next time!

Mattie