Puerto Ayora – Galapagos

Day 1:

We arrived in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos after 1 taxi ride, 3 plane rides, 1 ferry ride and 2 bus rides. To say we were excited to get there is an understatement! Drew and I have had the Galapagos at the top of our “list” for many years. We had a few things on the to-do list before we could really dive in deep to the natural wonders of the island (aka get a hotel, sleep, eat, & shower).

After meeting our basic needs we knew we had one big ticket item to check off….finding a last-minute cruise. AHHHHHHHH! Exciting, stressful, & tedious are the words we would use to describe this task. We knew we would have to be flexible, haggle down the price, and keep our eyes open for sketchy business. After visiting 6 tour shops we seemed to find the best option for us. We weren’t quite ready to “say yes to the cruise” without getting back to the hotel to do a little research (forking over that huge amount of cash is a big deal). About 30 minutes later we returned to the tour company ready to book…only to find out the cruise was full!!! There were numerous couples walking around Puerto Ayora doing the same thing we were and somebody snatched up our cruise at a different tour company. DAMMIT! We kept our cool as our tour agent frantically called around to different boats. He awesomely found us a similar cruise, in First Class, for the same price we were going to pay with the “tourist superior” class. YAHOOOO!!!

The next step was to pay. Easy right? Nope. We knew they charged a large fee for using credit cards, but thought we’d keep it easy on ourselves and pay half in cash and put half on our credit card. This agency did not accept credit cards at all (insert a picture of us pretending to play it cool). So, we left, maxed out all of our daily limits for our atm cards, carried copious amounts of money in my money belt, and walked back to agency to hand over a very tall stack of cash (the ATMs don’t give our hundreds..). Ta-da! It was such a relief to have the cruise booked, so we could get to to the “enjoying” part of the Galapagos! But, first a celebratory drink and then MORE SLEEP.

Day 2:

After a good night’s sleep we woke up early-ish to begin our day. We found a nice little café that served American breakfast; complete with hash browns, bacon, eggs, juice and coffee. Not too shabby. After breakfast we started our walk towards the Charles Darwin Center, about 15 minutes from our hotel. This was really our first chance to start seeing some of the wildlife native to the Galapagos. During this short walk we were treated to sea lions hanging out at a small fish market, as well as Marine Iguanas and crabs all over the place. The sea lions were ridiculous as they were literally nudging up against the people cleaning and selling fish to get the scraps.

Marine Iguanas Sally Lyford Crabs

As we approached the entrance to the center, there were Iguanas lounging all over the place. They also seemed to be perfectly content to let us get close and take some pictures. The Charles Darwin Center itself is a fairly big area with lots of labs, mangroves, rocky beaches, gardens and tortoise sanctuaries. Unfortunately, they were doing some construction which limited our access. Nonetheless, we got our first look at Galapagos Tortoises and were thoroughly impressed.

Up close crab Giant Tortoises Swimming Marine Iguana

After a little siesta in the afternoon we walked to Ninfa Lagoon another recommendation near Puerto Ayora. While it was very serene and full of mangroves, there was not much wildlife to see. We spent about an hour there before we decided to make our way back to the main pier to watch the sunset. The pier was a great time with lots of wildlife to watch, including another sea lion that looked like he had a cold (sniffly nose and runny eyes). Our suspicions were confirmed when he sneezed toward Autumn and hit her legs with some snot rockets. I laughed, but Autumn didn’t think it was as funny. 🙂 After a quick stop for snacks it was back to the hotel to blog and attempt to post past blogs (wifi in the Galapagos is the shittiest we’ve experienced, but oddly enough we don’t mind).

Sea lion on a bench

Day 3

We awake to day 3 of super cloudy weather and are starting to wonder if that is just how things are going to be here. We’ve only had about 5 minutes of sun for the past 2 days we were here and really no rain to go with the clouds. Luckily, the weather is warm and humid, so the sun really would be just an added bonus. Today we are headed to the infamous Tortuga Bay. The entrance is only a ten minute walk from our hotel, but after that you must take a 30-40 minute path to reach the water. The path is surrounded by cacti, other dry shrubs, and volcanic rocks. Many creepy-crawly creatures skitter by as we are walking…some sort of salamander.

Once we reach the beach we knew it was well worth the walk. Our first glimpse is of powdery, white sand and huge rolling waves. This first area is strictly for brave surfers; no swimming allowed. We carved out a seat on part of the sand dune wall, so we could take in the salty breezes and awesome ocean views.

Chillin'Nothing like walking in the surf

As with much of the Galapagos, so far, there were many iguana friends. They are a sight to see when they are fighting the ocean currents in search for green and red algae. They blend in really well with the black lava rock, so they can sometimes be difficult to spot unless they are in the sand.

What are you looking at?

After listening to the loud roar of the immense waves we decided to move 15 minutes down the beach to the swimming bay. The quiet of this bay was a pleasant change and many other people agreed with us. Fortunately the beach was large and we didn’t have any issues finding a place to lounge. As we walked the beach we saw a baby shark of some sort, sting rays, and other small fish. Snorkeling wasn’t meant to be due to one faulty mask and murky water. This beach did offer a path along a cliff with many animals to view and a small, secluded beach.

Beautiful lady and beautiful spot!Lava ledge

The walk back down the beach was as beautiful as ever : )


After a long and wonderful day at the beach we decided to treat ourselves to a huge feast! We went to a local restaurant and ordered the Isla Platter which consisted of grilled: tuna, steak, shrimp, calamari, pork, chicken, asparagus, broccoli, and potatoes. YUUUMMM! Life is good!

Day 4:

More clouds this morning, but we know not to let it concern us; exploring must continue! We took a water taxi across Finch Bay (5 minutes) to start our hike to Las Grietas. This hike brought us through stagnate ponds, and a giant cactus forest to two giant lava rock fissures filled with brackish water. Here we found clear, cool water that was great for a serene snorkel. There weren’t extreme species, but we say an eel, and a few schools of fish. The lava rocks jutted up at many levels creating the effect of making the paths nearly impassable, but by contorting our bodies a bit we were able to make it through.

Las Grietas Las Grietas

There was a small hike through the giant cactus forest and to an overlook. We were able to see many turtles popping out of the water and a few iguanas swimming for lunch. So cool!

Our free “show” for the evening was watching a fishing boat come into the fish market area. We were not the only ones in the audience…many other tourists, sea lions, pelicans, and other birds were rapt with interest. The fisherman dug through their large, iced cooler to pull out 30-40 fish of different kinds. This got the attention of 20 or so hungry birds who proceeded to hover, circle, and swoop towards the boat. The sea lions on the other hand mounted the stairs to wait patiently by the fish market. Once the men started to filet the fish things started to get very interesting!!! They would throw the leftovers over the side of the boat and all hell would break loose! 95% of the fish parts never hit the water; they were pulverized by the lucky bird who managed to gulp the large pieces in 2 seconds flat. If it took longer than 2 seconds they were overtaken by his closest three “friends”. It was a quite the spectacle! Oh AND we saw a seal lion pup nursing!


That evening we picked up our wet suits, snacks, extra sunscreen (never ever buy sunscreen in the Galapagos….most normal sized bottles were priced at $25. We bought a 3 oz bottle for $11. WHOA.), and some booze to bring with us on our 8 day cruise. YAHOOO!!!!


While we were planning our journey to Machu Picchu in my head I thought of Cusco as just another city that didn’t have much to offer. I was totally wrong. Cusco is a beautiful city of amazing history and culture in its own right. Cusco was the capital of the Quechua people (Incas) and was full of beautiful churches, castles and other wonderful architecture. We were fortunate to spend nearly 4 days in Cusco, not counting our 2 day jaunt to Aguas Caliente and Machu Picchu.

The city was very walk-able with plenty of good restaurants. Since it sits high in the mountains (11,100 ft) there were some incredible views of the surrounding mountain peaks.

Cusco Cusco

This is also the first city that we did a little shopping in. As with everything in South America there is no such thing as a set price. EVERYTHING is negotiable. Whether it is trinkets, pictures, massages, or clothing you can get things for half (if not more) of what the store clerk says in the price. I have been working on dusting off my skills while Autumn is learning on the go. I keep reminding her that they wouldn’t sell things to us if they weren’t making money and happy about the price. Still I think she feels a little guilty when they start giving excuses of why they can’t bring the price down more. All it takes is saying no and starting to walk away and the price comes down even further!

One woman in particular wanted us to come in here store and she took a liking to me. She was real grabby and giggly and decided that she was going to dress Autumn and me up in local attire to try to get us to buy some things. I’m not sure we are cut out to be Peruvian…

Real Alpaca. Real short. Playing dress up

Although we did not partake, I bet we got asked if we wanted a massage about 20 times a day. Not overly enjoyable, but definitely not a big deal.

As one might guess if one reads history, the Peruvians don’t have a lot of nice things to say about the Spanish. In addition to conquering and decimating the Inca population, the Spaniards destroyed the vast majority of the Inca palaces and holy places of the people. Apparently Cusco used to be covered in gold and silver decorations which included everything from palaces to streets. Not surprisingly the Spaniards plundered all of the gold and silver they could find.

One of the funny things about Peru is their infatuation with Alpacas and Llamas. You can buy alpaca gear in nearly every store and if you want there are ample opportunities to get your picture taken with a baby or juvenile alpaca right in downtown Cusco. Of course we had to hold the baby alpaca… who wouldn’t?

Baby Alpaca! It had a wet butt...

We took a walking tour of Cusco similar to the tour we did in Valparaiso, Chile. It was a great way to see the city and get some insider knowledge that we would have totally glossed over or missed. One highlight was us getting to see some traditional Quechua/Inca music played by men dressed in Quechua attire.

All in all we had a great time in Cusco and would recommend spending a few days here if you decide to go to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

  Aguas Caliente arrival welcome 

For someone who tends to be more talkative than most I’m not really sure where to start. How do you put into words the spectacular sights and feelings of one of the Seven Wonders of the World? I’m not really sure I could have explained beforehand what I was most looking forward to about seeing Machu Picchu. After having been to the ancient city, I will tell you that very few experiences, if any, can match the time we spent in Machu Picchu.

To give you a little background, the ancient city of Machu Picchu was created by the Quechua people. Most people think the Inca’s were the builders of the city, when in reality the word INCA means King. There were only 14 INCA’s, which ruled over a vast territory that had been conquered over a long period of time. It is believed that the city was created as a holy place due to it closeness to the gods (on top of a mountain). This is supported by the numerous temples and holy spaces in the city. After having stood in the city, I can understand why they would have believed this. There is an amazing feeling when at Machu Picchu. You not only feel overwhelmed by the vast spaces and depth of the mountains, but also a tremendous feeling of being on the top of the world. There were quite a number of people who said they were experiencing feelings of vertigo, but I believe it is more than that. There is something truly moving about being in a place where past meets the present from a remarkable vista.

The sightsview

One of the most amazing things for me personally was the skill and accuracy through which they constructed the city. Using rudimentary tools they were able to create structures that not only withstood the daily elements of rain and wind, but also catastrophic events such as earthquakes. To give you a few quick examples, they chose the location for the city due to the availability of stones and fresh water on top of mountain. The stones typically were huge boulders which were split, smoothed, and moved to make temples, houses, agricultural terraces, staircases, and much more. These “rudimentary” tools and ways were truly amazing. In this particular city archaeologists have found tools made of materials from hundreds of miles away which allowed them to chisel into the granite to create holes and slits for the insertion of wood. They then poured water onto the wood to get the wood to expand. This created enough pressure to make the granite crack and break. These rocks were then smoothed to create prefect joints that created amazing structures without the need for mortar to hold everything in place. Another amazing thing was the “milling” on protruding stones to be rounded for both internal and external use. The externally protruding rounded stones on buildings were used as tie down points for their woven roofs to protect against the strong winds at the top of the mountain. The interior protruding stones were used for hanging items that were relevant for the building; either items for living in a house to more religious items such as clothes or carved items. Additionally, nearly every window and doorway was created with an inward slant to provide stability for earthquakes and natural disasters. Finally, they enclosed the city with tall walls and 2 entrances which could be well protected and had doors that could be locked and opened only from the interior.

Pretty neat stone work Example of a roof tie-down The University area of MP Lady Autumn and MP

Another amazing thing about Machu Picchu is the division of the urban area and the “agricultural” area. There are over 700 terraces which were used to provide food for the city. The pictures really don’t do them justice, but the amount of stone, drainage, and irrigation work was truly amazing.

Agriculture area

Providing water to the city was another incredible feat of engineering. The Quechua designed amazing waterways which were carved into the granite to provide water throughout the city. Archaeologists have determined that given the amount of water that the city could produce was able to support around 1,000 people. On our tour it was explained to us that the city probably sustained around 750 people allowing for the additional 200-250 people that would travel with the Inca king when he traveled to the city. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Apparently there was only 1 toilet in the city which was reserved for the king. Everyone else dug little holes to do their business. Interestingly enough, it is believed that this “fertilizer” was harvested after a while and used in the fields.

Given the immensity of our journey, Autumn and I decided to arrive as early as possible. We woke up at 4am and were standing in line at the bus stop at 4:30am to be able to get on the first bus. We were able to get on the first bus and be within the first 20 people into Machu Picchu that day. We chose to head straight to the Sun Gate, which is the first place the sun appears over Machu Picchu. The hike wasn’t easy, but definitely worth it. We arrived right around when the sun came over the mountain and were treated to some amazing, albeit cloudy/foggy, views. The best part was that we only saw three other people on our hike to the Sun Gate and were able to soak in the views just the two of us.

Misty Manchu Pichu Presenting Manchu Pichu!

We spent a couple of hours just the two of us before our scheduled tour. All told we spent six hours in Machu Picchu trying to absorb as much of it as we possibly could. We heard that as of January 1st, 2016 they will be restricting access to the city to prevent deterioration, limiting people to 2.5 hours at a time. While it would still be an amazing and worthwhile adventure, we feel incredibly lucky to have been able to explore as much as we did.

As a full disclaimer, I am well aware that my words and even the pictures we post will not do justice to the amazing beauty and wonder that Machu Picchu provides. The experience is worth the trip, the expense, and the early wake-up call. It is truly an indescribable experience that can only be understood while there. If I could make a recommendation, GO. Go now. The world is changing quickly and it should be experienced before it is too late.

Puno, Peru

Puno has an altitude of 12,554 feet and has the highest navigable body of water in the world, Lake Titicaca. The elevation took us a day or two to get used to. Thankfully, they have a magical Coca Leaf that gets rid of head aches and calms the tummy within 15 minutes. We were most successful when we chewed the leaves and put them in our lip like chewing tobacco. Attractive…not. But, who cares; it was a magical leaf that ensured I didn’t feel like my skull was going to crack down the middle! Oh and it’s the core component in cocaine, fortunately nothing addictive in the leaf itself just awesome medicine.

Truthfully, Puno isn’t a great town with Lake Titicaca being the only real draw. We did a day tour that first brought us to Uros, the floating islands. The native people literally make islands from the reeds that grow all over the shallower parts of the lake. They also eat the reeds, which we got to try as well.. You peel back the base like a banana and then eat the core. It tasted pretty celery-like.

Uros Eating a reed

The natives enjoyed showing us their reed homes, their 8 inch tvs (powered by solar panels), stereos, and handmade crafts. We practiced our bartering skills and bought a colorful pillow case. Then, we went on the most deceiving boat ride ever. Ha! Let me explain: this ride was on one of their “homemade” reed boats that are powered by man (aka rowing). They were going to take us on a ride to the next island. So we boarded the small boat excited for our little adventure. The two natives board the boat last and get into their positions for rowing…the only problem being that a third native boarded a motor boat and pushed the reed boat from behind. The jokesters in the front were just pretending to row! Then, we proceeded to take a four minute ride in a circle around the water only to relocate to the “next island” exactly 10 feet from the island we started at. LOL, we were happy to give them the 7 bucks, but next time and we will just skip the ride.

Showing off the goods

After our rather short time on the Uros, we jumped back on the ferry boat for a two hour ride to Taquile Island. Taquile is a beautiful, quiet island who’s people live off the land and tourism. There wasn’t much to do there, but enjoy the fantastic sights of Lake Titicaca and enjoy freshly caught trout. There are some handicraft shops (which our guide kept calling handi-craps) and many restaurants (all serving the two same menu options: trout and veggie omelet). We walked along the islands cliffs enjoying the warm sun and sights. Then, it was time for the 2.5 hour boat ride back to Puno.

Arch on Tequili Overlooking Tequili IslandSmile!

At ten the following morning we left Puno for our VERY LAST bus ride!!! Of course we are excited because buses suck and I (Autumn) was terribly sick for the last two. The ride to Cusco, Peru was 7 hours and amazingly beautiful!!! Peru has such a dramatic landscape full of green, lush mountains with little villages built amongst them. I was super drugged up for this bus trip, but Drew poked me when the view couldn’t be missed, so I didn’t lose out even in my groggy state!

We can’t wait to explore Cusco and visit Machu Picchu 🙂 After nearly a week of feeling somewhere between absolutely terrible and “only okay,” we are especially excited to be back to good health!

Back from the dead

After our incredible time in Haucachina, next on the itinerary was a stop in Nazca to see the famous Nazca Lines and then on to Arequipa. After much deliberation and research, Autumn decided against doing the Nazca flight as she was worried about getting motion sickness on the tiny plane. Since I do not get motion sickness, I was totally up for the flight and stoked to see the Nazca lines from the air, which we were told was the only way to see all of them. That morning I got up early to catch the public bus to Nazca with a group of 8 other Peru Hoppers. The bus ride was uneventful and not overly scenic. When we arrived in Nazca we were picked up and taken to the airport. As it would turn out, we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see the Lines from the air. Our 11am flight time turned into a 1pm flight time due to the amount of people in the tiny airport.

Nazca AirportOur PlaneNazca Line map

Once in the air we were treated to some amazing views prior to reaching the Nazca lines. It was in this glorious 4 minutes that we got to enjoy the flight. Once we reached the lines, things changed. In order to get the best views of each line the pilot would first bank the plane hard to the right to show the people on the right side of the    plane the lines. After we spent 10-15 seconds tipped at a 60 degree angle to the right the pilot would do a turn and then tip us to the left 60 degrees. At first this wasn’t a problem, but rather quickly it became one. Fortunately everyone on the plane held in their lunch, but it wasn’t without a lot of effort. The views from the plane were great, but honestly I was expecting more from the Nazca lines. It was a good “check the box” adventure, but I would be hesitant to recommend it. Here are a few of the pictures from our not too professional camera.

Hummingbird Tree and handsParrot The Astronaut

After we landed, I was feeling a little wobbly but nothing too serious. We spent the afternoon in Nazca (not much there) had some lunch and then met up with the Peru Hop bus and Autumn at 7pm. The bus ride from Nazca to Arequipa was an overnight ride up through the mountains and turned out NOT to be what the doctor ordered. Let’s just say that I still wasn’t feeling great from the flight earlier in the day and the zig zagging bus ride did me no favors. After doing my best to keep from getting sick, the shit hit the fan at around 12:30am. While I tried my best to put my tossed cookies in a plastic bag, unfortunately not all of them made it. Not good. Autumn was a huge trooper and was helping clean up when (due to the horrible smell) it was her turn to call dinosaurs. Really not good. We were able to get everything cleaned up, the bus stopped to get rid of the evidence, and back on the road without too many others on the bus waking up or even noticing.

That night was totally miserable and we didn’t get any sleep. We arrived in Arequipa at 5:30am and were due to get on a day tour of a really neat canyon at 7:30am. Did. Not. Happen. What did happen is that we spent the next 3 days holed up in our hostel room taking turns being sick; not a fun way to spend your time. The rest of the story is that we didn’t get to see anything in Arequipa and were happy as can be when we recovered enough to move on to Puno.

We weren’t totally out of the woods, but we were up and about and feeling much better. It is nice being back from the dead.


Haucachina – Day 1

The bus ride to Haucachina was incredible. We were almost constantly surrounded by huge sand dunes! We knew we were entering Haucachina because we could see a little town in the valley below the sand dunes and the town is known as “The Dessert Oasis”. Walking a few minutes from our hostel brought us directly to this oasis….it was a little surreal. A mix between a corny movie and a mirage, but altogether an appealing place to be! We walked around the pond which was green and didn’t look that appealing for a swim, but would definitely be a life saver if you were lost in the desert! To add a little tourist flare there were paddle boats that could be rented to get on the water. Since it was about 50 yards across we decided to take a pass. Many palm trees bordered the pond which added to the desert mirage aesthetic.

We parked ourselves at the bar overlooking the Oasis, so we had a great view of the tourists riding Dunne Buggies and sliding down the dunes. It was fun to watch especially because that will be us tomorrow! The sunset from our hostel was pretty fabulous as well.

Haucachina – Day 2

Our first morning in Huacachina was greeted with the noise of construction workers at our hostel at 7am. Not a problem as we have been waking up before that, but not a relaxing way to start the morning. I convinced Autumn that the best use of our time this morning was to have a quick breakfast and then walk our butts up to the top of the highest sand dune that we could see. Not only did she agree, she wanted to carry the backpack to prove how tough she is. Who knew she was such a hiker?!?! The walk up the edge of the dune was a combination of exhausting and exhilarating. Not only did it feel like we were walking in sand :), the wind was blowing, and the dune fell off rather quick on both sides so we were both a little nervous. We finally made it to the top and were treated to some very neat views.

Trek up the dune King of the dune Oasis from above

After a while at the top, we decided to take the direct route down the side to get back to town. Scary to start with and then just a whole lot of awesomeness.

After a little siesta we were due to meet a group to take a ride on a dune buggy. When the buggies pull up we all pile in and put on our rollercoaster-esque seatbelts. Autumn and I sat in the very front. We were NOT disappointed with the 20 minute ride through the rolling dunes. Our driver liked to live on the wild side, so there were numerous squeals of delight, shock, and terror. Some of the hills we drove down were pretty insane. It was a BLAST!!!

We stopped at a picturesque location in the middle of the dessert to take some photos, then straight back to the buggy for another hair raising ride to the sand boarding locations.

We arrived at the drop off for our first round of sand boarding. It was fun to do, but not nearly as adrenaline pumping at the buggy ride! We were able to board down six hills. Playing it safe both Autumn and I went down on our stomachs, but there were a few people standup boarding (and of course go-proing themselves at the same time), show offs. Unfortunately, just before our last hill there was a pretty bad accident. One guy bailed off of his board and then the chick behind him completely smoked him. They both went flying and one of the buggies rushed them to the hospital. That definitely puts damper on the fun and you could tell our driver felt the same way because the ride back wasn’t nearly as wild.


One of the best parts was watching the sunset over the Atacama Dessert. The sight was beautiful and helped us to really appreciate such a unique experience!


Needless to say the showers later that evening were greatly needed; we had sand in all crevices. Our time in the dessert will come to a close soon, but up next: Nazca and Arequipa!

Paracas, Peru

On our scheduled day to join Peru Hop, the alarms went off at 5:15am and we were greeted by our guide for the day, Maurice, at 5:30am. He was supposed to arrive at 5:45, but I would rather be early than late, so we quickly grabbed our gear and prepared to start our adventure. We boarded a Peru Hop bus with 10 other people and started our 4 hour desert bus ride to our first stop, the coastal city of Paracas. During the ride we saw many unusual towns/villages along the way. Unbeknownst to us, we ended up spending most of the drive in the northern edge of the Atacama Desert. Some of the villages we saw seemed to be built directly into the sand dunes, others were sandwiched between ocean & desert, and almost all of them were very secluded. It was fun to see such unique landscape.


Upon arrival in Paracas we were given about 45 minutes to check in to our Hostel before we boarded the bus again for a quick trip to the Paracas Nature Reserve. Back on the bus we wove through the desert and brought us to some amazingly scenic views of the desert running right into the sea. There were beautiful, rolling sand dunes that quickly dropped off to the water. From our first view point we were able to see Dolphins playing in the surf. Our second stop was Red Beach which is aptly named due to the small red pebbles eroded from the surrounding red hills. All in all it was a nice quick trip to see some scenery, but no serious adventuring for this tour. In the evening we talked travel with our new friends from Arizona while walking the beach and drinking Cusquena (local beer).

The next morning we took a two hour boat tour to the Ballestras Islands, which they warmly refer to as the “poor man’s Galapagos”. Of course we were excited! The tour did not disappoint. We started off the tour by watching a pod of dolphins frolic around a large fishing boat in the harbor.

Then, we continued on a 25 minute speed boat ride to the Islands. The islands themselves were massive rock outcroppings with little, if any, vegetation, but tons of wildlife!


We saw sea lions, penguins, red crabs, star fish, cormorants, vultures, pelicans, and many other kinds of birds. They were everywhere! Probably the best part was getting up close and personal with the sea lions.

Paracas was a blast and helped us to be even more excited for the Galapagos in about two weeks : ) We have a short bus ride to get to the next stop….Huacachina known as “The Dessert Oasis”.

Arriving in Lima, Peru

Our flight to Lima left Santiago at 6:25am which meant for a VERY early wake up call and taxi to the airport. As soon as we were up in the air, we were treated to some of the best mountain views I have seen on this trip. We lifted up through and then over the clouds and had a spectacular view of mountain tops all over the place. It almost looked like the clouds were water from which the mountains were emerging. Very cool.

Mountain Pic

Unfortunately that view didn’t last too long and the mountains disappeared and clouds were the only view in sight. We arrived in Lima, checked in through customs, and were greeted by our driver holding a sign that said Autumn Dale. Who knew I was traveling with a VIP?!? Our driver successfully navigated us through the shit show that was driving in Lima Peru. For sure it was the worst traffic and driving that we have seen in South America. This is after coming from Argentina where street laws are not obeyed! We arrived at the hostel, checked in, found a decent Chinese Restaurant which was PACKED, and struggled to get internet access (mostly for Drew to check his Fantasy Football scores) before going to bed at 8:00pm. We had a very early morning, the time changed by two hours, and we had to be up at 5:15…don’t judge!

Oh, and here is Autumn petting one of the wild cats in the Lima Cat Park.

Cat park

We are excited to begin Peru Hop and share our experiences with you!


Learning about ourselves

More so than the sights or sounds of our new life to-date, I am learning more about myself. It is the likes, the dislikes, and the personal revelations which have been leaving a more lasting impression. The likes are becoming clearer and the revelations coming with more frequency. It is the dislikes, however, that need the most attention. I have found it fairly easy to call out things that fall under my dislike category; stray dogs, garbage everywhere, run-down buildings, cities, and infrastructure. What I am still working on is why these are dislikes. It would be easy to not dig deeper into these dislikes and just avoid them altogether, however I feel there is something very valuable to be gained from understanding them. I am certainly not there yet, but my hope is that being more conscious about things will allow me to grow and learn.

I wrote that paragraph on a beach in Vina Del Mar, Chile one afternoon and led to a robust discussion between Autumn and me that evening.


One of the biggest revelations we have come to is that above all else we need to make this trip ours. I know that sounds a little strange, however it is a substantial shift in thinking for the two of us. As an example, we have been planning on spending 6 weeks in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) because we had always heard about how beautiful it is. The revelation that we discovered is that neither one of us had it very high on our bucket list. The fact that it is cheap and supposedly beautiful is interesting, but does not necessarily make it worth forgoing things have been on the top of our bucket lists for a long time. That fact that our time is precious and our resources are as of yet not unlimited makes this revelation all that much more important.

So with all of that said, Autumn and I are reevaluating our post-Christmas itinerary and are very excited about what it could mean. Stay tuned!

Chillin’ in Chile

The trip to Chile

After our not so awesome time in San Rafael, we were definitely looking forward to a change of scenery which meant bidding adieu to Argentina, our home for the past 5 weeks. While we enjoyed our time in Argentina very much, we were incredibly excited about seeing a new country and getting back toward the ocean. From San Rafael we took a bus back to Mendoza and then purchased bus tickets for the next day which would take us straight to Valparaiso (a 7 hour bus ride). The bus ride turned out to be filled with fantastic views, an interesting border crossing, and then a twisty road down once we crossed into Chile. First, the views. After leaving Mendoza we quickly made our way into the mountains. I was a little bummed out because it was quite foggy at the start of our trip and I was sure I was missing out on some of the best sights I have ever seen. Actually, that was my FOMO (fear of missing out) kicking in. The fog lifted pretty quickly and we were treated to beautiful views. The road to Chile follows a river for quite a while and made for some great pictures.

In addition to the mountain views and the occasional water fall, we also passed a few ski resorts that looked like they were done for the year. I am not a skier, but I’m sure those mountains get lots of visitors. From the step mountainsides to the skiing resorts and making our way towards the mountains,

There were also several towns on the way to the border that were built up in some beautiful high mountain valleys. I am becoming more aware of my affinity for horses on this trip and I was excited to see that much of the property surrounding the towns was horse ranches. It is incredibly beautiful to see horses silhouetted by snowcapped mountains.

Where we arrived at the Chilean border we were treated to another great view. We didn’t get to enjoy it for very long though as we were ushered off to clear customs leaving Argentina and then stepping 2 feet to our right to speak with Chilean customs. Not a bad process actually. One random occurrence is that while we were standing in line there was a lady next to us that apparently had issues with the altitude (10,300ft) because she just about passed out and had to be laid on the ground in the middle of the customs area. We saw here a little bit later and she seemed to have recovered, but she was pretty for a while there. After getting stamped out of Argentina and into Chile it was time for them to search our baggage for fruit, vegetables, and extra contraband. As one lady found out, the Chilean Border Patrol is SERIOUS about their rules. Given that agriculture is a huge part of Chile’s economy they are very strict about what can come into the country. Have an apple in your bag? You will get fined. Banana? Fined. The baggage search was an interesting experience as well. Everyone on our bus was escorted into a room with a conveyor and xray machine as well as two long metal tables on which we were instructed to put our carry on gear and stand behind it. They then brought out their fruit and vege sniffing yellow lab to walk up and down the length of the tables (both below and on top) to make sure no one was smuggling anything. Unfortunately for one unsuspecting Argentinian Mother, the banana she was carry earned her a healthy fine and an earful from the border guard.


After leaving customs we took the very windy road down a few thousand feet as we started our decent into Chile. I was impressed by the amount of agriculture we encountered one we came out of the mountains. I guess Chile really does have a reason for being so hard on potential agriculture threats!


As I mentioned, we are very excited to be in Chile and can’t wait to hit Valparaiso to do some more exploring.

Our Airbnb was located between the two cities of Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar. It was perfect because there was a city bus that boarded one block from our apartment that would bring us to either locations. The biggest benefit was the awesome view of the ocean from our balcony on the 19th floor! The biggest downfall was the damn barking dogs…seriously what’s the deal with these guys. UGH!


For the first two days we spent our time exploring Valparaiso; a crazy-colorful-busy, port town with lots of “graffiti”. Valparaiso is known for its graffiti, or art as some like to call it. Displaying your artistic skills on a building is considered a crime here, unless you have a permission and/or are being paid by the owner. There are some seriously awesome murals and then there are the idiots who just sign their name in order to “claim” their spot or let people “know they were here”. Many of the row houses are bright colors which add to the view nicely, but as with most of South America the buildings are all showing their age and wear.

A few interesting facts about Valparaiso for your reading pleasure

  • Valparaiso started its economic boom back in 1848 when the California gold rush began. Their high times lasted about 60 years until the Panama Cannel opened in 1914. Prior to this opening, the only way to get to California by boat was to go around Tierra Del Fuego on the southern tip of South America and then back up the Pacific side of the continents. Valparaiso was about exactly in the middle of that route making it an important port city.
  • During this time the day sailors used to paint their ships very bright colors so they could be seen easily when out at sea. Due to Valparaiso being such a heavily visited port, there was always discarded paint from the ships which the locals would “borrow” and use it to paint over their metal sheeted homes.
  • The sheet metal was also a byproduct of this port boom as sheet metal was used as “containers” to carry products from port to port. These were also borrowed and used to make people’s homes.


We went on a Tours for Tips walking tour of Valparaiso that lasted about 3 hours. It was an incredible way to get to know and appreciate the CRAZY quirks of Valparaiso. Learning the history and the reasons behind a city can really open your eyes to the true beauty of a place. As mentioned above, Valparaiso used to be a booming port that all seafarers had to pass through….until the Panama Canal opened. Now much of Valpo, as the locals call it, is in disrepair, but has the hidden beauty that you can picture from years past. We learned about the currently famous graffiti artists of the city, ate delicious Alfajores (caramel filled cookies) & Salmon filled Empanadas, rode the remaining ascensores (elevators or funiculars) up the “cerros” or hills, and had all of our questions answered by a local when on this tour.



The next three days were dedicated to Vina Del Mar; local Chilean/Argentinian vacation spot. Here we found lots of palm trees, beaches, ice cream shops, and CONSTRUCTION! Being from Minnesota we understand the necessity of construction, but dislike it nonetheless. Due to the fact that we are traveling before their busy season (Dec-Feb) we have been witnessing a lot of construction, but haven’t let it get us down! Vina Del Mar is where we sat by the beach, ate delicious Ceviche (raw fish in a delicious citrusy-spicy juice), toured a castle, and took a long, unexpected bus ride to the middle of nowhere after we missed out bus stop (sometimes it’s best not to get off if you don’t know where you are :)). There was also a nice hotel with a casino at which I won some money and decided to take my lovely wife out for a budget buster of a meal. Totally worth it.




After a good time in Valpo and Vina, we bused to Santiago to spend a little time before we jumped on a flight to Lima, Peru. The bus ride was filled with bright, Spring flowers & Pisco Grape Vineyards (the brandy-like liquor from this area). Considering some of the long bus rides we have already experienced, the 3.5 hour bus ride was a breeze. Upon arrival we grabbed our bags and started walking to the hostel at which we planned on staying. We thought we knew where we were going, but since our cell phones didn’t work, we ended up not finding the place. No worries, we found a nice hostel which had rooms available. Since we didn’t have a ton of time in Santiago, we grabbed a late lunch/dinner at a PACKED Chinese restaurant (not that good) and then retreat back to the hostel to get some sleep before our 6:25 am flight. Turns out that 3:45am is really early when you see it from the morning side.