Sunday, May 26, 2013


Yesterday, two other girls from the house and I went paragliding in the Sacred Valley! It was quite the experience, and had both ups and downs... let me start from the beginning.

We first met up with our group (the total being 7 of us) and drove to the sacred valley (about an hour away from Cusco) to this beautiful location

Yes that cliff right there is the one we ran off of :) 

So only two people can go at a time, and the first group went out with a bang! However, once everything was set up for the second group to go (my group!) the wind conditions were not optimal so we had to wait about an hour to go (no biggie, I was psyched to be next).

Here are some cool pics pre-take off

so as we are attempting to take off, the wind changed all of a sudden and the parachute crashed and burned... here is a funny video (jk it didn't work, so ill try again later)

The flight began and it was awesome!! (same thing, Internet in Peru is not the fastest)

Here are some in-flight pics

Ok, so while were in the air, I started to feel a little motion sickness.... you know the feeling where you lose your stomach on a roller coaster? Ya, that happened like 50 times. I was trying to not let it get to me and just enjoy the views, but after it kept building up for 25 minutes, I finally admitted that I wasn't feeling so well. So we started to make the descent.. Anyone who has para glided before knows that to get down, you have to go in circles. Well I ended up throwing up in air! SOOOO GROOSSSSSS I know. I felt so bad for the guy behind me as he kept calling out "other side please" (rofl).

As we were landing, we barely missed the grassy field and landed in a pile of manure and sticks, which only made the situation of me throwing up on myself even funnier. 

Ok, I first want to say that I have NEVER had a problem with motion sickness before. I hate to say it, but I am getting older. 

Besides  being in a field of manure, it was pretty cool to land in a field of sheep and donkeys

At the point where we finally returned to the group from our landing site, all I wanted was water. I would like to note that we checked and double checked with our travel agency that water and snacks were included on this all day journey. When I asked if I could have some, they said they didn't have any. (Its around 1:30 at this point). They then take us to the town near by and drop us off at an expensive restaurant for lunch, which was not included. Anyways, we are all students and volunteers so we didn't really want to spend too much so we ended up walking to another store where I got some water (it tasted soo good guys). When we finally met up with our guide we asked if snacks and water were included like it said in the brochure, and they said no. All of us were confused and feeling a little frustrated because we had checked to make sure so we knew what to bring and what would be included. However, the people who had taken us were contracted out from our travel agency so we knew it wasn't their fault. Still, we were a little sad that we were told differently.

We then went back to the take off site because there were still 3 more people that had to go. The wind was craaaazy so we ended up sitting there until 5:00 (it gets dark at 6). They ended up flying even though the wind conditions were crazy, and I was soo grateful that I went earlier. We were just happy that everyone was able to go, even if we sat allll day. We ended up getting home at like 7:15. Brigham was on the phone about to call the travel agency because he was worried, so he was very happy that I was home safe, even if I had a disgusting stain all over my shirt (the same shirt I had worn for 7 hours after I threw up).

All in all, I was glad I had the experience, but I do wish that we went through another travel agency and that we went with a smaller group. Also, if you have motion sickness, think twice before going paragliding :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Typical day in Cusco

Brig and I are LOVING our time here in Cusco!!! There we so many things to blog about but I'll just pick a few.

So our typical schedule is wake up at 7:00, which is surprisingly easy here since it gets light at 5:30, and eat breakfast (fruit salad, bread, cereal, yogurt, and some type of fruit smoothie...we are spoiled). We then get ready for placement at the clinic and leave by 8:20 to be at our clinic by 8:30.

Our clinic usually looks like this every morning as people wait to be seen by the doctor.

There is always a line going through the door--it's first come first serve 

I've spent 2weeks in pediatrics and I am currently in my second week in the medical unit. I've done a lot of throat checks where I use a Popsicle stick and, yes, my iPhone flashlight, to check sore throats (one was so bad it was pus filled-yuck!) I also check their lungs to see if there is fluid or phlegm. If they are little kids I always give them cute stickers and then they start smiling at me instead of looking at me in fear. 

One kid had positive results for roundworm, and when I looked surprised, the head doctor told me that 90 out of 100 kids get them (CRaZy)!

I've also witnessed patients with kidney stones, bladder infections, high fevers, and wild dog bites.

I love learning and feeling like I am useful here! All the doctors, nurses, and medical assistants are so helpful and love teaching us about the Peruvian medical system! 

However, the medical paper work here is crazy! It takes at least 10 minutes to fill out all the paper work for each patient, and there are only a couple of computers so everything is hand written. Each month they check and double check all the charts and records of the patients, and also make copies for the government.... It takes a lot of time.

We stay at the clinic until 12:00 unless there are no more patients, then we can leave a little earlier. 

We then go home and eat our delicious lunch and I. The afternoon we usually go out and explore or hang out in the plazas. Brig will also work on his medical application (he turns it in soon!) while I teach Zumba to the girls in the house. 

Dinner is a seven, and we usually will start a movie but never finish it before we go to bed at like 10:30.

Other awesome things we have done are 

$10 dollar,1 hour massages

Truffle making class at the chocolate museum ( it was just me and a couple of girls that live with us)

Final product!!!! They taste soo goooood! We made chicimoya bonbons and Oreo and coconut truffles 

The 2 hour class is only $25 and you get to take home lots of yummy chocolate.

Ir also done a loooot of shopping, but everything here is so cute, warm, and cheap!!

This hat was $3.08 and the alpaca socks are $1.92

We also hiked to bolcan del diablo which is just outside of cusco

I also made an Incan friend!

He taught us some Quechua phrases


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Comó se llama su llama

Well, we made it!!!! And our first week has been INCREIBLE!!

Out of our 4 flights to get to Peru, the one from Lima to Cusco was by FAR the best. I enjoyed breathtaking views of the Andes while eating my own little (FREE) snack pack filled with Peruvian cookies and crackers. 

Here are some of the sweet views from the window
Due to its high elevation, we had to nose dive over a mountain and bank left to fly into the city and land, it made for amazing views, like the one above. 

This city is BEAUTIFUL. Surrounded by mountains, houses fill every space possible. Here are some of our favorite pictures. 

We also love our new home!! We live in a volunteer house with 12 girls and 4 boys (it was going to be 15 girls and just Brigham, but thank goodness they switched it around so he has some buddies!) We have meals made for us everyday and they are delicious! The people in charge of the house also clean our rooms everyday... we are so spoiled!

I love to sit here and blog or read, I love bay windows!

We also love our placement as well!!! We work at a clinic up a big hill called Picchu Rinconada. Its a big blue house and has a couple of different offices, including a lab (for testing), orthodontist, OB, pediatrics, and family practice.

I have been working in pediatrics for the past week and Brig has been working in OB. I have loved working with little kids!! I even got to help to physical exams, like checking their thyroid and fontanels. i have taken a lot of weight and height and i even was able to give someone a flu shot!!!!

I took some pictures of the pediatrics room! It is tiny, notice the scale in both pictures. Also, try to imagine 8 adults (or more) and 2-3 babies at a time in the room, its always super crowded! Also, there are no doctors, its always nurses and assistants that examen the patients, hand out multi nutrients or order labs to take place.

 The supplies are also very limited. The scale is broken, so you have to take away 2.5 kilos every time you weigh a baby that cannot yet stand on its own. However, they function very well without the supplies.

This past weekend we hiked up to Cristo blanco (direct translation= White Jesus), a big statue that looks out over the city. It was a sweet hike that passed ancient Incan ruins (a really cool military fortress at the top of the hill to help protect the city).
hiking up steps on our way to Cristo Blanco
At the Top!

Incan Ruins: legend has it that the stones are so perfectly carved that a piece a paper or knife will not fit through any of the cracks

After we left Cristo Blanco, we ended up going to some AWESOME caves nearby. Our group (7 of us) ended up exploring so many caves!

Incans carved these! Don't they look like faces?

 We ended up rock climbing, crawling on hands and knees, and squeezing through the many holes and crevasses.... it was seriously amazing

squeezing from one side to the other

One particular cave was the hardest, but most thrilling. We ended up having to rock climb this wall in the dark to come out of the small hole on top. 

On my way up!

We will definitely be going back to do more exploring :)

We had so much fun with our group (All of them live in the same house with us :))
the girls
Well, we LOVE this city and cannot wait to explore it even further! We feel so blessed to be here and are learning so much from our medical placement and from the Peruvian people. It has been an awesome week :)

P.S. I totally touched a wild llama, wearing my llama shirt nonetheless (thank you 9th grade Spanish Club)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston Strong

If any of you have Instagram and are reading this blog, you probably saw the overload of pictures this past week of our trip in Boston!

Let me just say, it was AWESOME!!!!!!

We were able to to go on such an incredible adventure because my sweet and genius husband Brigham was able to present his Alzheimer's research at the Experimental Biology conference! He is also an official member of the American Association of Anatomists. We were so lucky to go with his lab and Dr. Wisco, who is the professor leading all the research. It was wonderful to listen and learn more about the efforts to tackle Alzheimer's disease, especially because it hits so close to home. (My grandpa had Alzheimer's for 12 years before he passed away).
Brigham and his poster presentation

in action

When we were not at the conference center, we took full advantage of all the wonderful sights and activities in Boston, including

RED SOX! We were so lucky to get in, and we had great seats for cheap because we scalped tickets in the 4th inning. We were also lucky to see them play the Royals, Brigham's home-town team.

We loved the feel of a smaller stadium. It felt so intimate and it was so awesome to be in a place where everyone was so united, especially after the bombings. I even got to take home one of these posters!

We also were able to go on the Freedom Trail! We ended up just going to see a couple of the sights and did the tour on our own. We LOVED seeing all of our nations history--here are some of our favorite pictures.

George protecting his city

One of our favorite spots was this old cemetery. We loved the blooming trees above the old headstones.  However, we unfortunately could not find my ancestor's grave (he is buried somewhere in Boston) since everything is so worn away. 

The victims of the Boston Massacre and major Revolutionaries such as Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock are buried here. 

We loved the skull angel on the headstone.

Harvard Yard was also on our list of go-see's! We ended up sitting in a building and saw all the students going to class. Brigham noticed that EVERYONE had a backpack on.... a very heavy backpack. 

We also ended up going to this delicious chocolate store (thank you Ginnie!) called L.A. Burdick. As we sat and enjoyed our delicious hot chocolate (tastes just like the chocolate shots at Cucina Toscana) while sitting by two Harvard professors grading papers, it was a cool place.

One of the coolest and saddest things in Boston was the aftermath of the bombings. For most of our trip Copley Square was completely shut down, including the subway stop. We ended up having to go around it a lot because our hotel is 2 blocks away, but we didn't mind, and neither did anyone else. Here is the first memorial by trinity church. 

On the day we flew out, Copley square re-opened and so we decided that we would go see it and the new memorial before we left.

There were running shoes everywhere to show support. The bottom left photo is where one of the bombs went off, all the windows were blown out. 
As we walked around we were able to go inside Trinity and Old South Church. I was in heaven because it brought me back to my Spain days where we saw every cathedral in every town. 

Trinity Church was only open for prayers and meditation. As we sat there in the beautiful building you could definitely feel all the love and support for those hurt in the bombings.

Old South Church

Trinity Church

Trinity Church
We had such an amazing trip!!! We feel so blessed that we were still able to go to Boston after everything that happened. 

We are currently in Cusco, Peru and are soooo excited to begin our Volunteer Program Monday! Ill post more later :)