1. The Santa Cruz Trek was wonderful ... and wet.
Our group consisted of 2 Brits, 2 Canadians, 2 Dutch, 2 Columbians, 1 Frenchman, 3 Peruvian guides, 4 donkeys... and a partidge in a pear tree. We hiked through the Cordillera Blanca, up and over Punta Union (15,584 feet), around Huascaran (the highest mountain in Peru and second highest in South America), and over the river and through the woods. My perfect weather streak was also broken. Up until this trek I had hiked for 50 days since I left the States and had only one rainy day... Day 1 of the Camino de Santiago in September. But hiking during the rainy season in Peru, that was bound to change. And it did. But despite the rain, our awesome group entertained one another with travel experiences, cultural differences and most embarrassing moments. It may come as no surprise that the British rugby player took away top honors in the last category...with flying colors! Thankful to have shared this experience with such an awesome group!
For some footage... Check out this clip:
2. I'm thankful I grew up with two brothers.
Other than having two awesome, caring brothers as friends for life, growing up with Zack and Luke has prepared me for being able to tolerate life with boys, things boys like to talk about, and smells boys like to make. Sharing a tent with these two would have been short lived if my brothers had been sisters.
In all seriousness, I've loved my week with Chris and three weeks with Dan...farts and all. But I would be dishonest if I didn't admit to participating as well... I blame it on the altitude.
3. The Dutch get around.
Per capita, I'm quite certain the Dutch travel more than people from any other country. This is a completely unscientific conclusion but I'm sure I'm right. In 4 weeks at Albergue Churup, there is at least one new Dutch person staying here every couple of days. The Dutch are also very large people. Not fat large but crazy tall large. Whenever I spot a tall white person on the street I peg them as being Dutch. 9 times out of 10 I'm right. Apparently, the only people taller than the Dutch are the Danes. I met my first couple from Denmark on my travels a few weeks ago. They were super nice... As our the Dutch. P.S... If you want any clarification on the difference between The Netherlands, Holland and the Dutch, check out this super informative video by CGP Grey. He also has many other informative videos about a plethora of topics I have shown my students including: Death to Pennies, The Problem with the Electoral College, Can Texas Secede from the Union and How to Become Pope to name a few! Enjoy!
4. Girl time is good.
For a simple reason why, see #2. But the other night, I hung out at Lacy's with Lauren (another awesome Colorado chick that I've crossed paths with this last week) and Rebecca (another ex-pat working at a local hostel with her boyfriend). I'm not sure when the last time was that I was in the company of so many girls...sans boys. It made me miss my Colorado Chicas: Gretchen, Kelly, Witter, Newman, Amy, Claire,The Booksies (only the coolest book club ever) and The Bible Study Beauties. I'll be in CO in June! Can't wait to catch up...err...on the past year???
5. "There's a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning."
Or the Huaracinos (people from Huaraz) may have changed Jimmy Buffet's line to be: "There's a thin line between Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon." Last Sunday was La Dia de Las Cruces (Day of the Crosses). All the local villagers come down from the hills to bring their families' crosses to the churches to be blessed by the priests. This is done with great fanfare, music, dancing, processionals and something that I described as cacophony. They start to decend upon the plazas in front of the churches at about noon. A few hours later, either the people are so tired from carrying their crosses through the street they decide to take naps on the sidewalk, or the local brew has caught up with them. I'm not sure which is more true but I have a guess. See a glimpse here: http://www.magisto.com/video/aQAVO10AGTIzUUNnCzE
6. This book could change your life.
Have you ever come across a book you are afraid to read? You know, the one that might challenge you to change your life. I have a list of them. They include "Radical" by David Platt and "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I've read the first chapters of both. I may finish them...someday. Well, now I have another one to add to the list, except I actually finished this one. I've been challenged and encouraged at the same time. Actually, this book has inspired one of the blog posts that has not been published... yet. I'll keep you posted on how those changes play out...
7. I love babies.
Most people who know me, know this... So this isn't really news. But I've also learned from my experience in orphanages that I especially love babies who don't have parents to take care of them. Don't get me wrong... all my friends and family with the cutest babies in the world, I love your kids. But there is a special place in my heart for babies who don't always have someone nearby to tend to their every need. This article from NPR, "Orphans Lonely Beginnings Reveal How Parents Shape A Childs Brain" inspired another blog I wrote but haven't posted... yet. It also sums up one of the main reasons I have decided to spend time with orphans over the course of the past 7 years. And this is the sweet girl I get to spend time with while I'm here in Huaraz.
It took me a week to piece together her story. This is what I have so far... Rosita's mother died in childbirth. Her father tried to take care of her but with 7 other kids at home, he found that he couldn't manage. He also didn't want Rosita to be taken by a local family because he thought it would be too hard for him to see her being raised by someone else. So she was sent away from her jungle community to Huaraz where she has spent the last several months being looked after in a hospital. And finally she was brought to this home. My understanding is that there are two families interested in adopting her. Pray for the Lord's hand in this sweet girl's life, as well as all of her older "sisters" in the house who shower little Rosita with a constant stream of kisses. She is definitely the house favorite. It's not hard to understand why.
8. Taxis should not flag down potential customers by honking at them.
I'm pretty understanding of cultural differences, or at least I think I am. But there is one cultural difference that I'm really struggling with. Taxis around here have the obnoxious habit of honking at pedestrians if they think the pediatrians might want use of their services. If you are a gringo, it appears as though the driver thinks his chances are higher that you will want his services. This results in nearly every empty cab that drives by honking at me. I'm not sure road rage can apply to pediatrians, but I've definitely got a case of something.
9. The term "gringo" is not an insult here.
At least that's what I'm lead to believe. I mean, how can the sweet lady around the corner from my place greet me everyday with "Hola, Gringita" (little white girl), in such a sweet voice with a smile on her face if she doesn't really like me? Also, "gringo" applies to just about anyone who is not Latin American.
10. DuoLingo teaches more than just Spanish.
And don't you forget it!