How does it happen that the day isn't even over yet, but this morning seems so far away?! Our day must have been filled with so many plans and tiring activities and new adventures, right? Wrong. Sort of. After lasts night bar adventure and a late bedtime, we had decided we'd sleep in. Although when 6:30 am is your normal wake-up time, "to sleep in" becomes relative. And sleeping in, relative to a 6:30 wake-up, is apparantly 7:30/8:00. Even though I could hear Jays voice out in the hall and see the brightest sun I've seen yet on this trip coming through the tops of our windows, I decided sleeping needed to be relative to my bedtime + atleast 6 hours. So I channeled my sister and climbed out of bed to close our "black out shutters" and switched the fan onto high and climbed back into bed. Don't worry, I think I did my fellow bunk mates a favor too (right Lisseth and Morgan?). I don't even remember who made moves first, but somehow we all managed to be up and out of our room and sitting with our burlap bags full of our breakfast by about 9am. I'mgoing to go ahead and call the a great success.
Our plan for the day (which in our defense was figured out in the early hours of the am after fancy friday festivities) was to get what we had failed to sort out with Machu Picchu in order and then head to a beach called Punta Hermosa. We started strong with some online reservations, and the sourcing of directions all before 10am. But moving tends to be slow in a large group and this morning we seemed to have a hard time to prep ourselves for a day of beaching. (You know, gathering towels and snacks and sunscreen and cameras and clothes and water and shoes and phones-for pictures-and money and hats and headbands and ...) I'm just trying to make it seem like a whole lot so our slow-moving selves seem less pathetic. We didn't leave the hostel until 10:30. Whoops.
Once finally out in the street, we realized it was by far the sunniest and probably warmest (and therefore greatest beach day) we've had in Peru yet. It is rainy season here, which doesn't really mean much rain, but does mean lots of clouds and cooler temps (think 70's vs. 80's). Today was beautiful and warm but with an amazing breeze. We tend to play follow the leader a lot here without much question as to where/why a final destination is what it is. Well today, our first stop was a Farmacia becuase as I learned then, Bill started to feel a potential cold coming on. eeek! No worries though because we are proactive in this group, and medicines were promptly purchased and are now being diligently consumsed. Bill, I do believe you will be in tip-top shape by Monday at the latest :) Our second stop was into a little shop for me to finally buy my postcards that we have been searching high and low for! I told Jay yesterday that I think a great business venture would be in the postcard world. A "take your own picture and make it a postcard booth" needs to be a thing here because to find a good postcard has been a 3 day project and the pictures we've collected in those 3 days could make many a great postcard. I hope someone reads this and makes that happen....you have my permission to use my idea and pay me lots of royalties :) Stop number 3 was intended to be a outpost to pay to turn our Machu Picchu reservations into tickets. We'll just say we're going to continue to work on that one...
No worries though, the beach was a waiting! We hopped onto a local bus to get a taste (and by taste I mean video footage) of some authentic local travel. Aka, to experience the extreme driving of a true Peruvian madman. It was fantastic. I bet you have no idea how quickly a standard the size of a schoolbus can pick up speed. or stop. or change lanes. Let me tell you, its pretty quick. If it weren't for its speed, I probably would have thrown up from car sickness. But our drivers ability to change lanes and fly through red lights and stop signs made it an alarmingly smooth ride (except for at every bus stop where the brakes came on and almost threw you from your seat...but you learn to secure yourself quickly).
Our local bus experience ended when we got to a stop where we needed to transfer to another line in order to get on the highway to the beach. Punta Hermosa is about 40 minutes south of miraflores. Traffic systems are so very different here, and so taking a staircase from a bridge above a highway down to the breakdown lane of a highway where you find men directing busses and taxis for highway-side pickups is completely normal and totally expected. Oi vey. I've traveled enough to know it's best to just go with the flow, so none of this really bothered me and was pretty entertaining. Amazing how different places work. I can't imagine that being my daily rountine, but it was so easy to see how it IS the daily routine for so many. It just works.
But it didn't quite work for us.
We are with amazing tour-guides 100% fluent in the local language ( and Lisseth 100% Peru herslef!) but that doesn't keep the rest of the group for being easy target for price gauging and a little mis-leading. It's hard to always get people to be fair and honest when they know we are toursists. We got some misinformation and a bad taste in our mouths with some not so honest/friendly fellas and decided that at this point (at least noon) it might be best to got with plan two (do we even have plan two?) We didn't, but we made one on the spot. We walked ourselves away fromt he highway and into some beautiful neighborhoods. Wasn't long before we came to a street with taxis, and hopped in two to take us back to miraflores center. 10 soles later (~$3.00), and we had found ourselves a perfectly fine new adventure. We all had gotten ourselves into beach mode and been prepared for calm and tranquil and zen, so I think we all needed to do things to bring us back to grounded. For me and Morgan, that was a trip to the grocery store for some more mangoes and fruits and ginger and lemon, and then back to the hostel to chill and make smoothies and tea. For the rest of the group, it was sandwiches and street market (and smoothie for Lisseth!) before we all regruped back at the hotel around 4.
All in all in ended up being a very different day from the one we had planned, but it worked itself out ok. The boys came back with amazing artwork and we still had so much day left! (So this post is also long?!, I swear I start each blog with the intention of being concise) We gathered ourselves and Morgan made another round of smoothies for Bill and Lindsey and we headed out again to make good on our plan for a least a little bit of beach. Miraflores itself is a beach town, so we have a beach downt the street. Punta Hermosa was only our target to get to the real nice one with sand instead of stones and handfuls of people instead of hundreds. But we did it again with the whole catching sunsets unplanned. By the time we had made it down to the water, we had just enough time to get set up for some stunning sunset photos. Morgan got to take her first dip in the pacific and Zach scored some cool time-lapse clips. While the boys were busy shooting, we chatted with some Columbian soccer players, practiced some more headstands, and regroupoed just in time to see a proposal happen!! It was pretty magical and so sweet and SHE SAID YES! phew.
Our walk back up to the hostel gave us a few minutes to reflect on how mishap mornings don't mean a spoiled day and how hiking up a mini stair-mountain is a great glute workout. Our slow moving selves kicked-back into action at the hostel and it took us a long time to shower/change/regroup for dinner. 8:20 and we headed out the door. Lissseth was our fearless leader on our dinner mission and we ended up at a place called Tanta. We sat and realized we were not the only large group of tourists! Unfortunately for the restaurant though, I think they only had one true english speaking menu-reader for a waiter. So our super friendly but very nervous waiter really had his work cut out for him. The fact that Jay and Lisseth could speak perfect spanish only seemed to confuse him more, but we ordered and were served with near perfection regardless. We got a top 5 meals ever in the group! (As in Zach said his meal here would be placed probably number 2 in his top 5 meals hes ever had) Zach was the dinner-envy order of everyone at the table. He had a steak of some sort over an egg frittata of another sort that was ontop of fried plantains mixed with a bean and rice and special peruvian suace heaven. just wow. We are going back.
We walked ourselves back for our final time of the day and thats where I find myslef here with you now. On my top bunk reflecting on my super long for no other reason than it just felt that way, day. I would go and post this but I have yet to steal the pictures I need from the people who actually have been good about taking pictures. So you will not be reading this until the morning, but I am still going to say--