Friday, 27 December 2013

Final glances.

Unfortunately, I've only got just over two more weeks in this beautiful country that I'm so proud to call my home. My time here has gone so quickly, I can hardly believe that only a little under a year ago, I left everyone and everything I had ever known back in Australia and took a cliff dive into the unknown. Now I feel so comfortable here, I have friends and family here and a life and I really don't know how I'm going to get used to everything back in Australia again. On that note, I thought I'd pop up some Instagram snapshots of my last few months here- enjoy!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Discurso en el Congreso de la República del Perú

Not too long ago, I was given the most amazing opportunity by Rotary - to address the President of the Peruvian Congress at a formal function, on behalf of the 40-odd Rotary exchange students living here in Lima, Peru during 2013-2014. While I am an avid public speaker, and I have spoken in NSW Parliament before, as well as much larger audiences than the one at Congress, I was actually quite nervous this time. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it was all in formal, proper Spanish (as opposed to the everyday Spanish I usually speak here), or maybe because I was being recorded live on national TV (with a sign language interpreter and all!). 

Viviencial Tourism.

So, as I mentioned in my last post, whilst on our Puno and Lake Titicaca leg of the tour, we stayed on the island of Amantani for a night with a local family. Instead of a normal host family stay, what we did was something called viviencial tourism. Essentially, what that consists of is in exchange for their hospitality, we, as visitors, bring gifts of food, toys, school supplies and other daily necessities, as well as pay (via the tour company) a fee to the families. This is incredibly important, because the families that live on these islands live very basically, due both to their remote geographical location and their relative poverty.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Puno and Lago Titicaca.

Now to the next and final stop of my journey: Puno and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, at over 4000m above sea level! Unfortunately, I didn't actually spend that much time in Puno itself because I was out on the lake for most of my time there- though it did seem to be a pretty decent little town. What really captured me about Puno was the main method of transport- 'triciclos', essentially a bike with a two-seater cart attached to the front. I was surprised at the sheer number of these, considering Puno is actually quite hilly, and they only earn at most 2 soles (60c) per customer- a lot of work for not much, if you ask me!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013



Well, where to start? Even to this day, I still can't believe I've been to Machu Picchu. There's something about the place, a feeling you can't describe unless you've actually been there yourself. I was pinching myself all day, expecting to wake up from a dream. To think that I was standing among the ruins that was one the most sacred part of the Incan empire, a place where only the religious elite and royalty could visit, left me speechless (which, as most of you know, never happens to a loudmouth like me).

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cusco, capital of the Incan empire.

Cusco is such a marvellous and diverse city that it is impossible to cover it all in one day, even if you start early and finish late. Unfortunately, I only had one free day in Cusco, and while I saw as much as I possibly could in 10 hours, I would have happily spent another week there, exploring all the windy little cobblestone streets.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Cusco and El Valle Sagrado.

Well, I've just gotten back from a trip to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined and I can't wait to share my adventures with you all! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hasta la frontera - Arequipa and Tacna.

Up until now, I've only shown you all snippets of my trip down to the south of Peru and over the border to Chile. Thus I figured I should probably fill in all the gaps with everything else I saw and experienced in Arequipa and Tacna!

Arequipa was first on the list - 'la ciudad blanca', or the 'white city', as it is known in Spanish. Arequipa is an absolutely stunning city, with a lot of Spanish colonial era architecture and beautiful surrounds. The city is guarded by El Misti, a huge snow-capped volcano that overlooks the city and is visible from the Plaza de Armas. Whilst in Arequipa, I took a city tour (which was definitely worth my while, as not all of the attractions were within walking distance), strolled around the Plaza de Armas, tried queso helado (cheese ice-cream), bought waaaay too many things in the many markets, got lost in the labyrinth of Santa Catalina and tried rocoto relleno (hot pepper filled with steak, cheese and other bits and pieces).

Tacna was next - though only a small city, I actually really enjoyed what it had to offer. We found a fantastic pizzeria that served so many delicious cakes and lattes that even complied with my high coffee standards! It was there that we also discovered the mouthgasm that is a pisco shake - essentially the Peruvian alcohol, mixed with lucuma (a type of Peruvian fruit), ice-cream, milk, and real whipped cream. We also were told about a secondhand market called Miami up in the slums, and it was a thrifter's paradise! It was essentially 10 streets filled with stands of everything and anything for less than 5 soles (about A$2). I only spent about A$12 all up and I bought more clothes there than I have in my entire year in Peru! Unfortunately, we didn't realise the sheer size of the market and only left 2 hours to explore it all, which was by far too little time. 

All in all, the south of Peru was incredibly beautiful and I wish I'd had more time down there to explore! Not to worry though, because tomorrow I'm off to Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca - I'm pretty damn excited!

Photos by Henry, Ginger, Tami, Nouma and me.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Chile Photo Diary.

Though my day trip to Arica, Chile was over before I could believe it, I still had the chance to take a few snaps of my surroundings. The majority of our day was taken up by sitting in immigration for hours, trying to cross the border from Peru, we still had the chance to have a delicious lunch by the seaside (where I had the most devine chocolate mousse ever), have a look over the city from the famous 'Cerro de Arica', gatecrash a Disney street parade, and meander through the markets, but not before eating the most delicious gelato and getting thoroughly confused by the incredibly overvalued currency (I'm not even kidding, the gelato cost $1900 pesos).

I wish I'd had longer over the border to explore a little more, because I was surprised by just the amount of cultural difference within a 50km radius of the Peruvian border, especially as Arica used to belong to Peru. I hate to say it, by Chile may have stolen my heart a little bit. I'll go back there someday soon, I'm sure.

Chicken enchilada with beans and golf sauce.

Mixed seafood empanadas.

Chilean ceviche (raw seafood with drizzled lime over the top), was not good at all, Peruvian ceviche is still the best!

Clam chowder-ish dish with mashed potato, was delicioso!

 Photos by me, Tami.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Santa Catalina, Arequipa

The Convent of Santa Catalina is so much more than just any other religious building- located in Central Arequipa, just off the Plaza de Armas, taking up a full block of the city. I was a little sceptical at first, as I've seen enough churches/ religious buildings here to last me a lifetime, though my mind was completely changed when I walked through the entrance arches. What I had expected to be a boring, old museum-style stone building was actually an architectural playground, with regal arches and beautifully-painted depictions of the Bible, surrounded by vibrant colour. 

The convent was formed by a rich Spanish widow in the 16th Century, and only those from wealthy families could begin their training to be a nun. Santa Catalina wasn't like any other convent though- the nuns had their own servants and enjoyed many social events with entertainment, though in the 19th Century the Pope put a firm stop to this. A small handful of nuns still live there today, though the majority of Santa Catalina is open to the public to explore.

I personally loved the distinctive architecture and the convent's labyrinth-like layout- it's like it's own little city, with street names and different sectors! Unfortunately, the few photos I took doesn't do Santa Catalina justice, the tour we took was very rushed and I don't have a computer over here to edit my photos before putting them on here- so excuse me for that!