Monday, November 25, 2013

Honeymoon Part 1: The Good Years

Hi, so, I'm back from a 3 week honeymoon! I'm going to break this into 3 posts, but some mighty fun unpredictable stuff happened during this so-called honeymoon so hopefully it won't bore too much.

I'm slowly dipping back into running this week after 3 weeks off (and sad story: so far there is no doubt my left leg did not cure itself of it's chronic issues).  so this recap is running free.  And VERY photo heavy.

We left November 2 for Lima, Peru.  After watching the two worst movies of the year on a red-eye flight (JT's "friends with benefits" and Vince Vaughn's "the intern") and not sleeping at all, we met our personal escorts--family members of my long-time friend Daniel.  These strangers swooped us up and made us feel right at home in Lima.


Our host served us this delicious fruit (inside the leaves) that I cannot remember the name of....

Two of the lovelies showing us around Kennedy Park in the Miraflores district

I have an adorable story.  There was a bit of a language barrier because me and the Gentleman speak only pathetic high-school level 1 Spanish, and the two pictured above did not speak any English. Their daughters did speak some English, however, and I had emailed one of the daughters about being picked up from the airport.  When her mom picked me up from the airport, she wrote down on a sign what she believed to be my name, based on the signature line of the email I had sent to her daughter.  The sign? 

"Best 
Caitlin."  

I stared at the sign for a solid minute, trying to determine if that was me or not.  It was. (That's my first name if you haven't stalked any of my race results yet and figured it out). 

One thing I noticed immediately that surprised me about Lima -- the air quality.  Not so good.  It was hard to tell whether it was cloudy or smoggy, probably a mix of both.  With something between 8 and 12 million residents in the area with smog-check-less cars, it's no wonder.  I hope the City conquers that problem. 

Cloudy or smoggy? Either way, lovely coastal view
I spied a lot of runners along the beach paths -- virtually the only place I saw any runners.  And this may be in my head but...I swear that everyone ran differently.  Their stride was shorter or something.  A different cadence.  Tighter shoulders.  It was something.

We walked to the Barranco district, which I loved, and some teens made us participate in a filmed interview about what we liked about Lima in our terrible spanish.  

No shortage of rainbow buses
Downtown Lima had fascinating architecture and historical buildings.  We scoped all the highlights, including the San Francisco catacombs.  I just about lost my lunch looking at all the skeletons... creeeepy.

Other notes about Lima:

  • Banks were flooded with lines.  We noticed this in other cities too (Iquitos, Puno).  What is this? I haven't been inside a bank in like 8 months.
  • Chicken.  So much chicken.  Lot's of chicken restaurants.
  • Seemingly nobody drank water with meals -- only jugo fresca.  There was a lot of pride in serving fresh juice.  And it was delicious! 
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way -- and they are very timid about taking their turn to cross the street!  The drivers, on the other hand....very aggressive.
  • We heard a lot of Beatles music.  No complaint there.
  • Throughout Peru, the policy is that you throw your toilet paper in a trash bin, not in the toilet.  This took a lot of getting used to and was one of my favorite things to leave behind when we got back home....foreshadowing....next post.

ONTO.  The amazon rainforest!!

After Lima we flew straight to Iquitos.

A beautiful inlet from the Amazon river
I don't know how else to say this but Iquitos was....rough.  Smelly, loud, dirty.  The people were very pleasant but for the life of us we couldn't figure out where they went to eat food.  There were a few touristy restaurants (pizza) and ice cream joints (flavored sugar water...it did not pass) but I never really found the local cuisine.

A gazillion motorcycles
The city of 500,000 all rides around in these noisy smelly motorcycles.  It was exhausting being outside for more than 20 minutes because of the sound and smell of exhaust.

A village of floating homes in Iquitos (they rise with the water, which floods 1/2 the year)

A never-ending labyrinth of vendors.
We stumbled upon a secret hippie haven in Iquitos.  There was a handful of white hippies who settled here for whatever reason (drugs? I honestly don't know) which meant we found a restaurant I wanted to eat at.  It was like finding a pocket of the Bay Area on the other side of the Equator. 
Hippie Cafe

Hippies selling crafts
My heart died a little bit in Iquitos because of all the abandoned, sick dogs.  We were told that people like puppies, then don't feel so fondly of the grown dogs and abandon them.  They limp around (sweetly, not aggressive) looking for food, with tumors and scabs all over.  Sad. :(

We got outta Iquitos and took a boat down the Amazon until we landed at the secluded lodge we would be staying at for 3 days.

AmaZING amaZON

It was a real life Disney jungle cruise

The Sanchicuy Lodge
It was crazy.  This lodge has something like 30 rooms to fit up to 60+ people during a busy season...but we were the only guests one night, and one of only two couples another night.  It was incredibly spooky the night we were alone.  The full tale is too embarrassing to share, but it included us lying awake all night strategizing our plan to smash an imaginary intruder in the face with our lantern when he tried to attack.  The sounds of the jungle make you hallucinate I think.




We hiked our merry way to meet some folks from the Yagua tribe who wore traditional garb to show off and make things.....generally awkward.  We felt like total tools for intruding on their culture while they did a song and dance for us (mostly figuratively).

These marks mean "married," or possibly "death to the whities"

but this weapon was mad fun

Bullseye, kinda sorta

On a boat.  Again.

Totally LOVED the food--lots of fish and plantains--the Gentleman started hating plantains after the 10th meal but I loved them forever.
Another fun excursion was visiting a local village, Santa Maria.  Population 150, no electricity.  They (well at least the men) play soccer til dark then go to sleep.  We got to squeeze some sugar water out of a sugar cane...branch? terminology? 



That's the primary and secondary schools I do believe

Even my iphone camera found this village lovely
Another day, another stunning ride down the Amazon to another village.  We saw pink dolphins.  They exist--fresh water pink dolphins! Amazing.  So much stuff I'm leaving out....and so many photos....you don't even know....I'm trying to keep it short

The kids rule the villages -- they just run around and play to their heart's content

Pendulum-like bird nests

Seriously??!


This was a nerve-wracking but unforgettable hike in the "primary" forest.  Termites, monkeys, snakes, and enormous trees that spit out cotton.

Oh yeah then we went piranha fishing.  

We caught some piranhas and ate them for dinner.  They are hideous with their sharp teeth.  Also, by "we" I mean I "caught" 4 and they all fell off my little hook, so the Gentleman and our guide did all of the catching.  I was legit angry about that.  I'll catch a piranha one day.

Piranha: 1, Me: 0, actually you're a piranha and I'm a human so i win

Our final day in the Amazon, I went to a wildlife reserve with our guide all by my lonesome.  The Gentleman had fallen really ill the night before (his fever, by the way, strongly contributed to our paranoia and murder attack plan that night).  He stayed in our lodge while I went out to the most amazing interactive zoo the world has ever known.

Toucan.  Enter froot loops joke...?


I got attacked by friendly animals.





BABY SLOTH TIME



Best friends? Okay deal
Sloths are surprisingly....soft, and extremely light.  Very hollow feeling.  Serious "Moe" haircut from 3 stooges.  And not surprisingly, very slow and stoned.

Mama sloth below.



True story - these monkeys smelled gum and a See's lollipop in my jacket pocket (which I brought to the reserve because 3 meals/a day is hard for me! I'm used to snacking every hour, so I would feel starved halfway between meals and the lollipops from the airport were all I had to tide me over.)  And so the monkeys attacked me.  And stole the lollipop.  Which involved unzipping my jacket pocket.  


Monkey, you, are a psycho



Last, but not least, an Anaconda.  

Shiiiiiitttt

And then it ate me and I died.  
So sad the Gentleman had to miss this day :(  But he got to live while I died like J-Lo in Anaconda the movie (or does she die in it?)

Next post will be shorter, less pictures, and generally pathetic.  

Who else has had a magical Peru vacation? 
If you have honeymooned, where did you go? How long? Please share your honeymoon disaster stories.  Because mine is headed in that direction and I need company. 

28 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. You now need to watch Piranhaconda (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1886644 ) in all of it's 3.1/10 rated glory to complete the circle.

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  3. Ugh, second time blogger has made my comment magically disappear! :/
    I'll say it again: Sorry about your rest of your vacay, but this post was lovely! I LOL'd at your captions. And the story about "Best, Caitlin" was the most endearing ever.

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  4. Those pictures are unbelievable. If I didn't know how this vacation ends I would think you were having one of the best honeymoons ever. I didn't even know pink dolphins were real! Must add that "Death to the Whities." almost made me spit my coffee out laughing.

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  5. that fruit is called pichuberry. i just bought some at lucky for the first time the other day!
    I was in peru for a summer in 1995, it's fun to see pictures of it today. And I cant wait to read the rest of this story.

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  6. I am convinced I went on the exact same vacation as you in 2008 (ok not a honeymoon but...). At least the Iquitos part - sloths and all!! I had similar feelings about that city though...surprisingly run down with tons of poverty.

    Glad you had fun though ;-)

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  7. My husband had his med school interview in the middle of our honeymoon. That really put a damper on it.

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  8. Aaaaaaamazing photos and congratulations on your marriage! Love the monkey pics!

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  9. I managed to pee on my own face on the Inca Trail. I was using a port a potty (hole in the ground), and was looking down to ensure I wasn't peeing on my pants/legs/socks, and some of my pee inconceivably splashed up and caught me right in the face. I had to say out loud, "Don't cry" to keep me from crying.

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  10. You are the best Caitlin.

    We honeymooned in Florence. It was amazing. Except our room's shower had no shower curtain and the bathroom floor sloped to the bedroom. We had to create dams whenever we showered. It was fun.

    Glad you made it home in one piece...more or less!

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  11. We didn't honeymoon....but we did go to Puerto Rico about a year after getting married and I remember feeling so so sad about all the dogs wandering around there...I wanted to take them all home!

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  12. I had a mostly awesome 5-week honeymoon in 2005 (and then we moved to PARIS!), but it did have a few low points. We split our time between Spain and Morocco. Our Morocco trip included a week hiking in the mountains, by ourselves except for our guide Mohammed and his mule. (Who takes a chaperone on their honeymoon?) Our accommodation was, for the most part, rather rustic - I never thought sleeping in a tent would be a step up, but it was still pretty interesting. We spent one night in a village called Tachedirtt (which I think means "more dirt than you could ever imagine) in what I call the Berber B&B, a local's spare house with the top floor allocated to us, the ground floor allocated to livestock and the outhouse shared by 4- and 2-legged (and 8-legged beasts). After being served an expensive lunch consisting of fruits and vegetables we didn't peel ourselves, I remember decided to take Immodium as a precaution (don't ever do this), because I just didn't want to have to worry about doing any of that kind of business, perched over a squat toilet while swiping spiders out of my hair while being stared down by a goat that thinks it's his turn. But we survived, and there was an incredible view of the hills and village life from our room, and that made it worth it.

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  13. Great pics! The amazon looks amazing! And I'm so jealous that you got to hold a sloth

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  14. OMG what a fun fun Honeymoon!!! I loved all the pictures; especially the ones with the sloths. Sooooo cute!!! That snake is huge!

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  15. great stories and fabulous pictures to match

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  16. I spent a year in South America and your photos totally brought back memories! I remember my first day down there when I realized the TP thing-- it's the same throughout the continent (and most third world countries.) For me, after being down there for long, remembering to NOT throw it in the trash can when I got back to the States was so hard...and so awkward. Can you imagine being at your friend's house and having to dig the TP out of the trash can because you forgot, again?! :)

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    1. The TP thing is true even in developing/developed countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Mexico. It made me understand and appreciate the bidet/spray function on the fancy Japanese toilets.

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  17. Just started reading your blog after finding it while creeping on another blogger.

    My friend and I went to Peru in June and we loved it! I wonder what the whole teenagers filming you and asking questions is about, because it happened to us too. A huge group of about 10 kids surrounded us, and I thought we were about to get mugged! We were walking on the streets by the beach and we're both very tiny and would have made easy targets. But then they asked us the same thing they asked you - "what's our favorite thing about Lima?" I have Dora the Explorer level of Spanish but they asked my friend a bunch of questions. I guess it was like a school project? It reminded me of those awful conversation videos you'd watch in a foreign language class.

    I'm so jealous that you got to go to the Amazon. That wildlife preserve looks like so much fun. I would've tried to run off with a sloth. I still really want a llama, too.

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  19. Oh boy. This brings back memories (good and not so good - the TP in the bin being one of the latter) of backpacking through Ecuador for three weeks; I was in the Amazon for two of those. Oh and I've got a growing collection of bus rides from hell in developing countries. And think of it this way - the crazier the honeymoon was, the better the stories later.

    Monkeys are always cheeky and the more interaction they get with humans, the smarter they are about going for humans' stuff; they'll even pinch your iPhone and use it as a mirror...

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  20. The sloth pictures! Too adorable for words.

    We missed a whole day of our honeymoon because Delta randomly cancelled our flight. STILL not over it.

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  21. That anaconda is IMMENSE!!! And I once camped (alone with our little boy) with a carving knife by the bed in case of bear/human attack so I sympathise!!

    For our honeymoon, we Brits had a 3 week tour of California. And then we moved here, which made it a TOTAL WASTE OF A HONEYMOON!!!! But we did hire a truck so I could feel like Daisy Duke, and I've never forgotten that secret guilty pleasure!

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  22. Awesome pics! Crazy about that lodge being almost totally empty, that would be freaky.

    lol on those monkeys. And wow now way I could get close to that anaconda haha

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  23. The suspense is killing us - we want to read Part 2!

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  24. I was going to say that I would go all the way to Peru just to hang out with those animals...but then I saw the anaconda. Hellll to the nah. All the other animals (baby sloth!) were cool, though!

    I'm glad I'm finally getting to read all of these. On to part 2!

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  25. YOU GOT TO HOLD A SLOTH??? Ok, I was jealous of Disneyland, but now I'm way more jealous of this. That is awesome!!!

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