So... I've been hearing all about this blog for the past week now and am just getting on for the first time today. I must say that in preparing for this trip, l've been apprehensive about doing the blog thing. But my sweet sister and dear friend Mark have started to keep this for me, and so I said I would give it a shot and check it out. Being Type A (who me??) and all, I felt like blogging was just another thing to focus on (and be good at). I also wanted the experience to be totally mine. I know, I know...Miss-Share-Every-Detail-of-her-Life-with-Everyone (Sometimes-Too-Much)-Marie NOT blogging (total lunacy, yes?)...but I must say that it's been really nice having my own experiences over the last week. That all being said, I enjoy GETTING your emails but keeping up w/writing back the same cut/paste is getting tedious so I'll give this a try. I have no idea how often I'll get to do this, but here goes.....
Right now, I'm sitting in a cafe eating lunch. Let me catch you up what's been going on thus far...
Galapagos. Amazing. Everyone has to get there in their lifetime. It's an stunning contrast between the breathtaking turquoise of the water with the terracotta earth of the land. As the boat pulled into the port where we were transferred to taxis (which are mini white pick-ups...the kind that mexicans crossing the border are always driving in movies...), there is a sea lion frolicking on the incline of the dock, barking (yes...the bark like big dogs) like the welcome committee of the Galapagos. Like he works for the Gap. You know the greeter who's folding meticulously but still manages to snag your eye for a hello. God knows how hard I try to avoid that Gap greeter. That's how the sea lions are. Needing to say hi. But sooo cute with huge, doughy circle eyes. The islands are vastly different too. There's hot dry parts where the trees look like they've been thru wildfire, I'm burned to a crisp from my dives ... Yes, Rosenberg, I wore 15 SPF. Then, where the hotels are is humid and foggy and the vegetation is lush, at night you're in layers.
I stayed at the hotel called Silberstein but as you know from previous entries (that were emails that my sister and Mark posted for me from things I sent them), I barely stayed there. I was kidnapped (willingly) by the Gipsy Cholos. (Basically, that translates to a bunch of friends who, for this trip got shirts and hats made that said Gipsy Cholo Team, the Galapagos Project. It was all very official looking, with flags from all of their countries of origin - Ecuador, China, USA & Spain - on them. One might think them traveling Olympic fencers or something (I did...), but they were actually just friends celebrating their friendship in a fun way.) As I told them, when I first saw them, I was like 'who the hell are these freaks?' but they're like any other group of friends. There's the preppie who, according to the others, "owns 1/2 of Ecuador," the beauty from the States, the out-of-control, but terribly sweet party boy, the paternal leader of the pack making sure all is always OK, the silent brooder, the Spanish dark and handsome cigar-smoking gentleman, the outrageously smart lawyer who takes care of all the boys, and the easy-going, but opinionated, one who is everyone's best friend (he held hands with the outrageously smart lawyer on our dives, and it made me smile every time!). I stayed in their villas, ate with them, dove with them, laughed with them. And it all was so normal. When I protested about imposing, I was shut up. They were lovely people who made my first week of transition seamless. I miss them already.
On my dives, I saw schools of hammerheads, manta rays, turtles and the sea lions following us to play on our dives and while we jumped off the boat into the sea on our intervals between dives. They're like dolphins in their playfulness. They need attention. I could've stayed longer, easily...Every time I have left a city (Quito, Galapagos, even Lima last night) I get butterflies from thinking about the next leg. It's like a separation anxiety from the amazing people and places you're leaving behind. The next unknown place is scary....until I touch down. Then, I get a new sense of awe and adventure. And feel sooo lucky to be doing this.
Today I'm in Cusco, Peru. It's in the South, Inca territory. The sight off the plane is unreal. Rolling brown mountains, regal historical town entrenched in so much history that you can smell it when you enter. I am in a completely new world than the Marriott that I liked way too much...obv. My hotel is called Los Ninos. It's $20/night. I had to ask for a room with a bathroom!!! It wasn't an option to share, not a shot. There's a space heater in my room b/c it gets so cold at night. I had breakfast waiting for my room to be ready. A huge spread of eggs, jugo de naranja (I'm practicing...), toasts and jams, fruit salad (well, sliced bananas and like 2 lone pineapple slices that had me digging for gold...ech bananas) and of course coca tea for the altitude sickness. All for $2.50. So, the altitude here is 11,500 feet above sea level. And I feel like I smoked 4 packs of cigarettes and then partied like a rock star, that's how my breathing feels. Like a chain smoking lazy ass. But it's the altitude. So, you have to drink coca tea that they serve with a HUGE bowl of sugar b/c they know you need 7 scoops of sugar to make it work on the taste buds. It kinda looks like the tea in Jamaica, but without the rush. Much better with the rush b/c I've had so many coca teas already to no avail. How many of these must I drink??? To put it into perspective, I didn't dive more than 100 feet down and needed to decompress every 30 ft for 3 mins on my way up to level out. Here a plane just drops you off mid climb, practically, and you have to deal. More coca please!
Now I'm at a cafe, had lunch. More things I've never eaten. My father told me in an email not to come back 200 lbs. Nice, right? I think he's having (as am I) painful flashbacks to college when I went on a shopping spree for fat person's clothes on his dime. Don't worry Dad, I'll come back svelte as ever... OK so there's a quintet of what look like singing Jesus's in red ponchos playing recorders and other homecarved wind instruments but dancing around like Phish during a jam. Yeah...in the restaurant. What is my life? Oh, they're coming around now for $$. Shoulda known... Same shit. ;-) (The Swedish tourist next to me just BOUGHT THE CD!!! Aha!!! I'm dying and fully laughing out loud as I write this and they're watching me. So are the Jesus's (is that how one pluralizes Jesus? Can you pluralize Jesus or is there only one...whatever. I have to leave here now...)
I feel like this email....correction, "entry," has been a little boring. I'll write more after some time in Cusco, after things start happening. If I've learned anything in the past week...it's that something always will.
Going to sign off and walk a block to get pack-of-cigarettes feeling again. Fun.