Thursday, September 28, 2017

Peru, Part 2

Again, HOW do I choose my favorite photos?! Especially from this "part 2" of the trip! 

After we left Pisac, we drove about an hour to attend church Sunday morning. Honestly, I would say less than half of our group were members of the LDS Church, but SO MANY of them still came to attend sacrament meeting. We were late, so we missed the actual sacrament, but it was so neat to feel the Spirit and sing the hymns in Spanish. 

After church, I'm not even sure how Brett started talking to this woman. But when I looked at them, she was showing Brett her daughter's teeth! Her teeth were in pretty bad shape, so luckily, Brett had the knowledge to give her some advice on how to care for them. 

Brett's traditional basketball hoop picture.

We started heading for the train station. Got stuck in traffic, so we walked the rest of the way. We had some lunch, then boarded our train!

Look how nice these trains are!! They served us a beverage and treat, while we played card games for about 1.5 hours.

We finally made it to Aguas Calientes! This is the city below Machu Picchu. It is such a beautiful place with greenery climbing up the sides of the mountains. We had so much fun exploring and playing and shopping.


Again, dogs everywhere!
Behind me is the river that flows through the city, and you can see it from the top of Machu Picchu.


The next morning, we woke up reeeeeaaallly early to get in line for the buses. The buses started at 5:30am, and zigzag up up up the mountain.

Waking up early had this beautiful advantage:

I loved seeing the sun rays streak through each mountain peak. Absolutely stunning.


We got a hint from Matt a few days prior that he would be proposing to his girlfriend at the top. It was so fun to watch, she had no idea!



Our tour guide was very good at his job! It was fascinating to learn about this city, the religious symbols through all their architecture, and their religious practices.


Huge thank you to Somewhere Devine for taking some pictures of me and Brett that I will treasure forever!



The alpacas were putting on quite the show!


We had made reservations to climb up the MontaƱa hike. After waiting in a line for over an hour, we finally got though the gate to start hiking. We had to be OFF the mountain by Noon, and that didn't leave us nearly enough time to do the entire hike. I was super disappointed. So I told Brett that I was going to book it up that mountain as fast I could! I mean....I didn't go all the way to Peru to only hike up halfway, right?! So Brett and Patrick started going fast with me.
Well, I got winded fast. With the high elevation, and going uphill (I HATE going uphill!), I was super out of breath. And of course, boys will be boys and they were just fine, going speedy.
ANYWAY, long story short, I just have to brag and say, I kept up with those boys, and was maybe only 30 seconds behind them!
No, we didn't make it to the top. We still only made it halfway. But it was still a pretty great view!

See the tiny Machu Picchu behind my shoulder?

I really didn't want to leave this place, knowing there is a huge possibility that I'll never be back. It was absolutely beautiful.

The next day, we stopped by this place to walk around some ruins.


We were SO GRATEFUL to meet some amazing people on this trip. We had our little small group of friends that we walked around with on all of our adventures.
From left to right:
Claudia and Paul from Midway, Utah. Cutest married couple in the world.
Allison and Tyler from Kentucky. (Happy Camper Film & Photo)
Morgan and Emma. Best friends from Maryland. (Our daughters)
Cassandra and Matt. Newly engaged couple from Minnesota.
Gladys and Terry made their way into the picture just in time! The funniest people alive.


We had one more night and morning to explore the city of Cusco before our flights back home the next day.

We did some more market shopping to get any last souvenirs to take home.
First thing that morning, I started to feel a little bit off. Just not myself. You can probably see it on my face in this picture.

Then I started to see things like this in the market...


Then I waited for some not-so-very-good churros...
(And Brett took the most awkward picture of this man...when I think he was just trying to take a picture of the paper cup, ha!)

This is after I ate the churros, and all my body wanted to do was lay down.
But I was in Peru! So I didn't want to!

To spare the details, I ended up getting sick 15 minutes before our bus to the airport. I figure it was food poisoning. I had a super painful stomach ache for the next 20 hours. It was a loooong flight. But I survived.

We had the best reunion with our kids. Teagan started to cry a little bit, she was simply overcome with joy. It was the cutest thing to see!

We're so grateful to our families for helping out, so that Brett and I could go on the trip of a lifetime. We're so grateful for Hailey and Brad Devine, for how incredibly genuine and kind they are.
We're so grateful for Kimber, the trip coordinater, for dealing with SOOO many details, and handling it with such grace.

Best. Trip. Ever. I wish I could go on the next one, but it'll take me a few more years to save up. ;)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Peru, Part 1

I realize I'm about 2 months behind posting about this trip! Honestly, there are so many pictures, how do I choose the "best" ones? Every moment of this trip is gold to me.

But let's back up for a second.
Back in November, Somewhere Devine was announcing their new expedition. I told Brett, "If they're going to South America, we're going, no matter what!" Previously, they've gone to Fiji and Thailand. While those places would also be amazing, and I hope to go there someday, South America has just always been at the top of my list. And going with an organized group of people is really comforting for me, never having traveled to a different continent before.

Well, they announced the trip was going to be in PERU! I couldn't even handle it. My heart was racing. I had to go. I got Brett's {small} approval, and I signed up that evening!

We didn't tell our families for quite a while. Probably because we were scared/nervous to ask them to babysit our kids while we were gone for 8 nights. They all chipped in though, and it worked out perfectly!

OKAY. Now to show some pictures! (Most of these are mine, a few were taken by Somewhere Devine and Kylie Fly)

Getting to Peru was QUITE the adventure itself! On our plane from Miami to Lima, we were stuck on the tarmac for 5 hours! It was raining like crazy, with lightning. The lightning was delaying us big time. I ate almost an entire bag of peanut butter balls from Costco.
Luckily, we sat next to our new friends, Morgan and Emma. Who we now call our daughters. Because they randomly started calling us Mom and Dad. haha!

After the plane took off, they finally gave us some food to eat. My first airplane meal! It actually was pretty good!

We only had a couple hours to sleep that night, before our flight the next morning to Cusco! We met the rest of the fabulous group, and drove to the city of Pisac.

We stayed in the cutest hotel ever for the next 3 nights.

And had a delicious breakfast each morning.

Exploring the city of Pisac was so fun! And so easy to get lost! All of their streets look the same, with this gutter going down the center. Every night, we'd explore the streets trying to find something promising to eat for dinner.


The first night for dinner, we had the best empanadas, in the cutest top floor restaurant.

Hot chocolate is not as tasty in Peru. It's so bitter, you have to add TONS of sugar yourself to make it taste somewhat better.

One night, we took one of these taxis back to our hotel. It only cost 2 soles, which is about 70 cents.

The stars were INCREDIBLE!


The next 2 days, we did some service in a little village above Pisac called Amaru. It was at about 14,000 feet I think.
They welcomed us by showering us with flower petals...

and giving us a pretty necklace with flowers on the string. And I can't remember what the flowers represent, but I promise it was something cool!

Then they dressed us all up in their traditional clothing.


This is Gregorio, who organized our activities in Amaru for us.


We painted school rooms, and their playground.


We built a dam to help with water erosion. Those rocks are bigger than I think this picture is showing. It was hard work!

The young girls would gather up certain plants, and serve them to us at lunch to put in our hot water. I'm not a huge fan of tea, but Brett really liked it!

They fed us a fantastic lunch each day.


Our last day at the school, before we said goodbye, we had the opportunity to give gifts to the children. Brett and I brought little packs of gum. The kids loved it. I had a bunch left over, so I started giving it to the adults. I think the adults loved it even more! They were grabbing handfuls!


Another girl in our group gave all the little girls CTR rings. I thought that was such a neat idea!


This boy was our favorite. You could tell he had such a passion for soccer. Carried his ball with him everywhere. Brett would play with him whenever he had free time.

One evening, we drove up up up in the mountains to go on a small hike to see alpacas! I swear, this place had to be around 18,000 feet! It was HARD to breathe!

But doesn't this place look like you could be in a Lord of the Rings movie? Ah, I just absolutely LOVED that place!


This little stream was "holy" water. Something about before it goes into the lake, it is holy for some reason. So we all reached in and put the water on our foreheads to "bless" ourselves. Man, I wish I had a better memory sometimes!

Dogs everywhere. In the city, on the hike, on the road. No matter where we went, there were dogs of all kinds. Some were SOOO cute, others were....not. ha! But this one, I could've taken this one home for sure!

Our last night in Pisac, they showed us how they dye their yarn, and taught us how to do some textile weaving.


Whew! That was a lot. I'll continue the rest another day!