So I just took an amazing 3-week vacation to Buenos Aires, Montevideo (Colonia for a day), and Cuzco (Miraflores for a day). I went to Argentina and Uruguay with two of my sisters, Susy and Laura. They brought a whole bunch of goodies/sweets that we snacked on in order to save money and not have to go out to eat…haha! Needless to say we still had some ever so delicious Indian, Chinese, Thai, American, and expensive Argentinian steak.
Basically, I loved Buenos Aires! It is a wonderful dynamic capital, with sooo much to do. We managed to visit most of the large areas, including Evita's grave in Recoleta, San Telmo's antique shopping (I bought a really cool ring), Puerto Madero, quite a few museums, many large beautiful parks, Florida street where you can buy anything—we walked there at least 10 times…haha!! We of course enjoyed happy hour almost every night at our hostel. We taught our 2 ever so cool Brazilian friends and Irish pals how to play SPOONS. Needless to say it was a blast! I would definitely recommend Portal del Sur if you are looking for a hostel in Buenos Aires. We loved it there because of the friendly people we met and the different activities they offered, i.e. free tango lessons, matte lesson, and of course happy hour every night for 2 hours!! Also, it is located in a good place downtown.
As for Uruguay, only two good things came out of Uruguay, a $10 warm jacket and visiting Colonia del Sacramento. I seriously would not recommend visiting Montevideo because basically it is not worth it. Ciudad Vieja was nice, but overall it is just a run-down smaller version of Buenos Aires with a different feel to it. Unfortunately, my sisters and I had a bad experience in one of the parks. We sat down after walking for quite a bit because we were tired. A group of 14-15 yr old kids came to us and asked us for change. We said, “Sorry, we don’t have any.” So they proceeded to sit down next to us and one of the girls takes out a rock with a string on it and tells me that she will bash my skull in with it and check my purse to see if I really have any coins. That’s when my sisters and I got up and left, praying that they wouldn’t really do anything to us. Meanwhile, the girl who threatened us was screaming curse words at us. It was a very scary experience that in the end gave us a silly fear of wandering/sitting in parks…so just be careful if you ever do find yourself in Montevideo…
So not to be completely pessimistic, we loved Colonia del Sacramento. It is a cute small port town. The only thing is that you can do everything in about a day because it is just too small. Walking down the main street, you can see the ocean on both sides of you…pretty amazing! Also, walking around you just feel safe there, not like Montevideo…My only recommendation would be to walk instead of taking a taxi, we got ripped off with one of the taxis…thieves!!!
So the most eventful part of my vacation came in Cuzco, when we met up with my other two siblings, Jr. and Maribel. We arrived in Cuzco and basically crashed because we were exhausted from the early no-sleep flight and had a bit of trouble adjusting to the altitude (it is much harder to breathe up there because Cuzco is so elevated).
Our Lares Valley trek took 3 days with the 4th in Machu Picchu. Honestly it was one the toughest physical things I have ever done in my life! The first day started easy because we travelled by van to the Hot Springs where we chilled for a few hours before lunch and then went on a few hours hike. The second day was the hardest because of the 5 hour hike uphill. Once we got to the highest point, it was simply amazing! We had a view of a beautiful lake…and I kind of figured that the next part going down hill would be a breeze, but it wasn’t! My knees took such a beating because it was steep going down. On the third day, after a 4 hour hike, and after a short taxi ride and train ride, we finally made it to Aguascalientes…So on June 22nd, my birthday, we got up at 4:30 in the morning to eat breakfast and catch an early morning bus out to Machu Picchu. Once we got there, I was stunned out how beautiful it was…simply amazing. Our guide immediately took us to the sun dial where we staked out a place to appreciate the winter solstice. At an exact time, the sun would hit Waynipicchu, which would then hit the sun dial at an exact spot, in turn creating a triangle around the eye of a stone llama on the ground…kind of fascinating learning all the details and history behind it. So ironically enough, my guide heard that Cameron Diaz was on the other side of Machu Picchu, and I doubt that just by coincidence he took us right after the solstice finished to the exact place where she was at…She literally passed right by my sister and I. I actually had a perfect shot of her and had my camera ready and all, but then my conscience grew on me and I didn’t take advantage of the shot, boy do I regret it…haha! My sister actually did get a couple of pictures of her, and yes she is very pretty and very skinny too! So anyways, we had our tour and then chilled on the grass for a bit, before heading down to Aguascalientes to eat lunch and then take our train to Cuzco. If you are looking for a trek company, I would highly recommend Sungate Tours, their service was terrific—the guide was great, friendly staff, and on the trek we ate sooo much good food!! Also, they had a cake for me and another client who hiked to Machu Picchu. It was really nice of them, considering there was wine too and one of the women, who likes to sing and dance…sang for us and made all of us get up and dance with her. Simply amazing unique sharing of cultures… :) Afterwards, my brother treated us to some yummy drinks and we called it a night because we were tired.
So in Miraflores, we walked around by the beach and ate a wonderful expensive restaurant called La Mar---incredibly delicious Peruvian food!! I said goodbye to 2 of my siblings once we had to leave for the airport and then at the airport, I said goodbye to the other 2…needless to say, miss them already!
So basically I had a wonderful memorable trip, I have my eye on Lake Titicaca and Ecuador next! Haha!
Ok well next time I will give an update on the work that I am doing in my site…since right now it is hard to say because I have only been back for less than a week!!
Take care of yourself and tons of hugs!!!