Adding to the timeline for our family who like to keep up with where we’re at.
Looking ahead… After finishing our two works working at Colors House, we will stick around Sucre a few days to do everything we couldn’t while working. Then we will head southwest to Potosi for a few days or more if we really like it, then to the biggest salt flats in the world in Uyuni, after which we will cross the border to Chile!
May 15 – NOW! We bussed from Samaipata south to the capital of Bolivia, Sucre. We already had a job lined up at Color’s House Hostel and Spanish School, and are now on our sixth day of work. We work at the reception, checking people in and also cleaning rooms and bathrooms. We also help mediate between the guests and bosses/other permanent workers because they do not speak English and most guests do not speak Spanish. It’s pretty cool to be at a level that we can help translate when people need, but we definitely have a bit to go before being fluent. Everyone who works here is very kind; we’re glad we got lucky with another great hostel job. This hostel is medium sized; it has three private rooms and three dorms and also has it’s own restaurant, cafe and travel agency. It is a beautiful old colonial building with an open courtyard in the center. I work in the mornings 8-2 and Skylar works evenings from 5-11, with one day off every two weeks.
Sucre, the capital, is often called the “white city” and is known for its beautiful colonial buildings and European-influenced architecture. We use our three free hours every afternoon to walk around the city, sit in the parks and people watch. Can’t wait for our first full day off to go hike somewhere outside the city!
April 25 – May 10 After what was the worst 18 hour bus ride we have ever had, we arrived in Samaipata, a small town in the east of Bolivia. We had already lined up a job at a bed and breakfast called Casa Lynda. We stayed there for two weeks; the first week we ran the place ourselves while the owner was on vacation (first time she had ever left her place!) and the second week we spent fixing the rooms and repairing little things around the property. It was a beautiful place with only four bedrooms, a gorgeous patio with tons of flowers and succulents everywhere and big garden with fruit trees and squash in the back. We really loved the town of Samaipata and even looked, without success, for an apartment to rent for a month. It’s very small with only 4,400 people, one main plaza and about . It has a surprising amount of cute restaurants and cafes, considering how small it is. People call it Samai-trampa as a joke because of how many ex pats have moved in (trampa is Spanish for trap). And it’s true! Nobody wants to leave Samaipata. We had a nice time working with Lynda, the Canadian owner of the b&b and loved exploring the country side and national parks nearby. Definitely a place we’d like to return to.
March 13-24 We left Cusco and headed for the Bolivian border. For most foreigners, entry into Bolivia is a free and easy process. For Americans, it’s a different story. As an American, you need to have extra photos of yourself, printed proof of where you will be staying, printed proof of a flight leaving the country, extra copies of your passport and $160. After crossing, it was a short 20 min ride to the town of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. We stayed for three days, enjoyed meals of trout from the lake, boat tours the some of the islands with Inkan remains and the quiet, sleepy town. We also happened to be there for Easter Sunday, which turned the sleepy town into a lively, music filled vacation spot for the locals (although the festivities happened on Saturday, rather than Sunday). The streets were filled with games, live music, street food every five feet and so many cars you could barely walk. We had heard how crazy Easters can be in Latin America so it was great to finally experience one.
After three days, we left for La Paz. La Paz has two districts that are popular for tourists. The first is the historic district, where we stayed for three days, taking the cable car up the mountains surrounding the city and testing all the new foods of Bolivia. Then, for Skylar’s birthday on the 21rst, I surprised him with three days in a penthouse in the other part of La Paz, Sopocachi. Sopocachi is the prettier, “nicer” area of La Paz, but also less interesting in my opinion. The buildings are more modern looking and there’s hardly any ladies with food stands in the streets. However, the parks and plazas are very pretty and there’s more options of higher end, international restaurants. But to be honest, we spent most of our time in the apartment we rented because it was SO beautiful and we hadn’t seen anything quite that nice in a while. It had a 300 degree view of the city, fully equipped kitchen which we used and abused and even a barbecue on the balcony! It was a perfect birthday weekend… and little fun fact to blow your mind- this apartment (with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, huge living areas cost a grand total of… 50$ a night. No joke.)
March 26-April 11 We spent our last two weeks in Cusco working at the hostel, Inka Wild. With a max capacity for just over 200 people, it was the largest hostel we’ve worked at. Our job was just bartending, sometimes until four in the morning. Are coworkers were great, and we had a almost all meals given to us. We were also lucky enough to work with our friend from Honduras who we had met in Peru, and with a friend from England who we had worked with in Ecuador! Traveling is cool that way.. It was alot of fun but after two weeks, we were ready for a more tranquil place and a break from eating papas fritas with every meal.
March 17-26 Skylar’s best friend from Grass Valley, Braden, and his girlfriend, Haley, came to visit us in Cusco, Peru. We were feeling pretty special because this was the second time Braden cam to visit us during our travels! We spent the whole time in Cusco, sight seeing, hiking and relaxing in the city. We went a second time to Machu Picchu, this time by a seven hour bus ride on one of the crazier roads I’ve seen, followed by a two hour hike through the jungle which brought us to the base town called Aguas Calientes. Skylar and I didn’t go into Machu Picchu the second time since the entry free is pretty steep, but we were glad to have time in the small base town. The time flew by and we can’t wait for the next time you two visit!;)
March 6-17 – Heather and Jake (Skylar’s family) arrive! They flew into Lima (the capital on the coast), where we spent a day and a half. Then we went south to Paracas and got a boat tour of Islas Ballestas and saw (my first) wild penguins! The next day and another short bus ride to the east took us to Huacachina, a tiny community built around a desert oasis. We had a blast in the dune buggies and with the sand boarding.
The next day and another not so short bus ride (17 hours!), we arrived in Cusco. The next 10 days were filled with Incan ruins, hikes through the hillside and of course, Machu Picchu. Twelve days was not nearly enough but we’re still so thankful that they could make it down here. Thank you so much Heather and Jake, we really had a blast.
February 19 – Arrived in Lima. We stayed with a couchsurfer for the first four days; our first couchsurfing experience and we lucked out with an awesome guy. By the fourth day we found a job at a hostal in Barranco district and worked there until Skylar’s parents arrived. Our work was to paint walls and ceilings, trying to cover up mold and stains. I also painted a big wooden sign of the hostal’s name, Cozy Wasi (“wasi” is the Quechua word for “house”; Quechua is an indigenous language spoken in parts of South America).
February 10 – We arrived Huaraz, Peru, a smaller town in the Andes (3053 m) known for its trekking and beautiful mountains. It sits in a valley between the Cordilleras Blancas (snow capped range) with over 722 glaciers, the Cordilleras Negras (not snow capped range), and the Cordillera Huayhuash, the same range Joe Simpson wrote about in Touching the Void, to the south. Completely surrounded by beauty and you can feel it. Although people say that the town of Huaraz is nothing special, we really enjoyed the town and would have loved more time. We went on day hikes to Laguna Wilcacocha, Laguna Llanganuco, and Laguna 69 to help acclimatize ourselves before attempting a longer trek. With two friends we had met at Kamala and a guy we had met two days before at our hostel, we bussed five hours to Vaqueria to start the Santa Cruz trek. This was by far some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. I can’t say or even show enough to do it justice. I can say with certainty that we will be returning to Huaraz one day.
February 4 – After we extended our timeline, several times, we finally left Kamala! A day to be remembered by all those who stumble across it. We spent a long night and day crossing into Peru and bussing down the coast to Huanchaco, a small fishing village just outside of one of Peru’s biggest cities, Trujillo.
This is the first time that we arrived in a town without a job. Luckily, we found a hostal the next day that was in the need of two more workers. We worked five hours a day, six days a week at La Gringa Hostal, located in the center of the town right across from the pier.
December 22 – We bussed to the southern coast of Ecuador to Montanita, a small fishing village now know for its surf and party. We started our job at Kamala Hostal, a beautiful property right on the beach and a 20 min walk from the craziness of the town (thank god). Our job was to bartend or work in the kitchen, depending on the day. Skylar and I also did several art projects here. We got to celebrate Christmas, New Years and Australia Day (January 26) with our coworkers and guests of Kamala. We met so many wonderful people and feel like we really made the most of our last spot on a warm coast, at least for a bit. Between the lack of Spanish (not good for our practicing but comforting to hear a lot of English again), a change up in the food (the hostal cooked things like pesto pasta, chili and breakfast burritos, none of which we’ve seen much of since leaving home) and a much slower pace for a longer amount of time, Kamala felt like a vacation from traveling.. which was so nice.
December 19 – We bussed to Quilotoa to do a three day trek and see the crater lake, but after arriving too late the first day and seeing hints of an incoming storm, we decided to just do a three day trip around the lake (rather than follow the trek and hike away from the lake and into the valley). Absolutely beautiful and fairly relaxing three days; waking up at sunrise, praying it would rise faster to thaw us out, watching the women herd their sheep across the surrounding hill sides and getting to use our wonderful new tent for the first time (thank you so much Brendan)!
December 8 ish – We bussed to Banos, Ecuador, a small town in the Andes known for its adventure sports. We went to see our friends Hannah and Adam (the couple we met way back when we started our trip) and ended up working at the same hostal, Backpacker Balcones. It was a beautiful stone and wooden three-story house about a 10 minute walk from the town on the edge of the river. We cleaned the rooms and living rooms in the morning, leaving us free the rest of the day, which we mostly used for day hikes. We found plenty of good look outs around Banos and got to ride bikes to El Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Caldron) which is honestly just as beautiful as the pictures. We made great friends with our coworkers, Agustina and Luis from Argentina, and have loved meeting up with them after Banos as well.
November 26 – We started work as receptionists at Vibes hostal in Quito. We loved exploring the city of Quito every day after work. It was our first experience in higher altitude (2,580 meters) and it was nice to be in cooler weather for once. We got to be there for the Festivities of Quito (celebrating the foundation of Quito with parades and parties all over the city). We also took the cable car up the mountain to the west of Quito to climb Volcano Pichincha, which was absolutely beautiful.
Novemeber 24-25 We left Colombia and crossed into Ibarra, Ecuador to visit a family friend, Maricela. The next day we went Otavalo Market; a huge, daily indigenous market with everything you could imagine. Then took a bus one more hour south to the capital city of Quito.
As always, I hope everyone is doing well and know that we think of you all often.
Much much love,
Maddi and Sky