I’m in Peru!

Okay, are you ready for another update? This time it took me a lot less time! I’m in Peru now in a town called Huanchaco on the Pacific coast right outside the city Trujillo. I just got here today but it seems like an interesting little place. Lots of surf shops and sea food restaurants. I’m planning to spend Christmas here or in the city…will definitely be the warmest Christmas I have ever experienced!

When I left off last time I had just arrived in Banos Ecuador. Banos was an awesome place. I met two nice guys in my hostel the first night and the next day we went mountain biking all day together. I was really stoked to get on a bike and the trail was amazing. It was trail sometimes and sometimes road. Every so often we would pop out in a new little village. There were waterfalls and crazy views all along the way. I brought along some of the toffee Banos is famous for and that was fun to eat along the way too. In the evening back in Banos we went to the thermal pools. It was cool to go at night and see the lights of the city while sitting in the pool. The next day we rented a dune buggy! It is harder to drive than I expected and interestingly enough even though they are street legal no license was asked for! Anyway that was a lot of fun and definitely worth the four dollars. After that I headed back to Quito to catch the end of fiestas de Quito. The end of the fiestas was just as fun as the beginning. One of the nights the hostel owner of the hostel I was at rented one of the chivas (party buses) for his birthday. I was really excited because I had seen a lot of these all over the city and really wanted to try. These things would never be legal in the US… basically they are big trucks (like you would put cows or some other animal in the back of) stuffed with people and alcohol and blaring music. As they drive crazily through the city while people are dancing and leaning out the sides.

When I left Quito I headed for the coast. I took a bus to a city called Manta which is a nice little coastal town. I didn’t intend to spend time there but after a cab driver tried really hard to rip me off (it’s a long not very interesting story but the moral of the story is I’m not that stupid and he didn’t succeed) I ended up finding a hostel and spending the night. The Manta harbor was pretty in the morning as I walked to the bus station and got a bus to Montanita.

In Montanita after a little bit of searching I found an amazing hostel. I had a huge dorm room all to myself with a private bathroom and a porch with a beach view for 8 dollars a night! Montanita was a really strange little place. Everything there was either a restaurant, hostel, or over priced tourist store. But it was a really nice and fun place to spend some time! I met some great people in Montanita and the weekends there are crazy!

I left Montanita with one of my friends and we headed for Guayaquil. A lot of people had warned me it was a dangerous city and not very interesting but it is the biggest city in Ecuador and I didn’t want to miss at least just seeing it. Well turns out it’s exactly like everyone says…there really is nothing there.. There harbor was pretty and we climbed a hill to get a nice view of the city but other than that it’s pretty dull. The nice guy working at our hostel took us out to dinner and showed us around a bit so we did have fun but it wasn’t terribly exciting. The next morning we went right back to the bus terminal.

My next stop was the city of Cuenca. First let me just say if I move to one place in Ecuador it will be Cuenca because this city was big but also so friendly and beautiful. I loved it. When I arrived in Cuenca I was really sick (presumably from some sketchy food I ate in Guayaquil) and I spend the first whole day laying in bed. I was super excited when I woke up feeling better and I think that made Cuenca all the better…basically being healthy never felt so good. I met a lot of great people both in my hostel and living in Cuenca and probably could have stayed there a while. One sunday morning I went to a market in a place called Gualaceo outside the city, it was a nice excursion and I love outdoor markets. One night the city had a traditional Ecuadorian dance and music festival which was really fascinating and there are some cool pics of that online.

After Cuenca I headed to a small town called Vilcabamba that a friend from back home recommended I visit. Vilcabamba was a beautiful and amazing little place. I stayed at a hostel/lodge place up in the mountains overlooking the valley. It had a swimming pool and hiking trails. I went on two really cool day hikes and in the evenings I went into the village. I met an awesome family (also introduced to me through a friend back home) this family is from North Carolina but just moved to Ecuador with their three sons. They are one of the coolest families ever..

I took a bus from Vilcabamba to Loja and then Loja to Machala and then Machala to Huaquillas. It was an all day adventure but it was cool to see Southern Ecuador…Banana country!

The next day I crossed the border in Tumbes, Peru. It was just like the Ecuador Colombia border, super easy no questions, no search, just get a stamp and walk across. Then I was off on an all day bus ride to Trujillo. I stayed in Trujillo last night but today I was off to the beach here in Huanchaco. It is beautiful here! I just put up some pictures on facebook. I think this is a good place to spend Christmas. Everyone back home have a great Christmas! Miss and love you all!

I am infact alive

Hey everyone! I know, I know, I have been in South America for about a month and haven’t put a single thing on this blog like I told you all I would… I find that when I have a free minute I am more excited to put up pictures so you guys can actually see what I am up to. Anyways tonight I am kind of tired so I decided to just sit in my hostel and finally write something.

I flew into Bogota on November 5th at 11 at night which feels like a million years ago now. Bogota is an absolutely gigantic place. My taxi drove me through the dark city to the lovely hostel Fatima. I was exhausted and cold (Bogota’s elevation is crazy) when I arrived so I fell right to sleep. The next day was really the start of my Bogota adventure. I explored the city with some great people from my hostel. The Candeleria neighborhood in Bogota is really fantastic. Some of the streets are only big enough for walking. We took a trolley up the side of a mountain for a view of the city which I have a really cool picture of if you look on facebook.

One of the days I was in Bogota I went to a town called Zipaquira about an hour outside the city to see a salt Cathedral. The salt Cathedral is an enormous Cathedral built into an old salt mine in the side of a mountain. The Cathedral was cool but I also really enjoyed seeing a town in Colombia outside the city. Zipaquira was a nice little place.

After Bogota I took a bus to Medellin which is one of my favorite cities so far. Medellin has perfect weather and a lot of parties.. In Medellin a friend of mine put me in touch with a friend of hers, he ended up taking me to a salsa club with his friends and around the city on his moto, it was great. He also took me up the side of a mountain on the moto to go paragliding. Paragliding is something I had never done before. It only cost about 40 dollars for 30 minutes which is pretty great. It was less scary and more relaxing than I thought it would be. Because I don’t weigh too much we got pretty high up. Amazing.

After Medellin I headed to Cartagena. Cartagena is just as beautiful as everyone says it is. It is also unbearably hot. I spent a lot of time showering in Cartagena. Cartagena had an amazing castle fortress thing with a ton of tunnels that I spent an afternoon exploring with people from my hostel. I met a great group of people at my hostel in Cartagena and we took a two day excursion to the beach playa blanca together. This beach is reachable really only by boat. It was about 40 minutes away on a speed boat. Playa blanca is paradise. The beach is beautiful and the water is perfect. You can get body massages on the beach, drink piña coladas out of coconuts, and eat fried fish every meal. The hammocks we stayed in overnight cost about 5 dollars. Lets just say you could stay there for a while…

With the same group of people I headed to Santa Marta which is another disgustingly hot city. Although Santa Marta doesn’t offer a lot to do I loved it there mostly because of our amazing hostel called La Brisa Loca. This was a mega hostel with tons of good people, a nice pool, a sweet rooftop, and a good bar. The restaurant below the hostel was the best meal I have had yet. I did explore the city and see the harbor, the Cathedral, and the main park, there were a few nice places there.

After only a day we headed to the National park Tayrona. The trek into the park was fantastic. We stayed in hammocks on the beach again. This beach was no playa blanca, but it was gorgeous none the less and the trek in made me super happy to get to a beach. We played a lot of card games and did a lot of walking. The next afternoon we trekked out. We were so high energy that we actually jogged a lot of the trail. Crazy I know.

I stayed back at the Brisa Loca so I could go with a friend to Taganga for a day. Taganga is a lovely place with a nice beach but it is very touristy to the point of kind of sad. I got talked into a coconut oil massage on the beach which included putting coconut oil in my hair which took days to wash out. Oh well, the massage was good.

I left Santa Marta and headed south back to Medellin. I only stayed in Medellin briefly but it was a lot of fun. Medellin is a crazy city and my hostel there, the pit stop, is super nice.

After Medellin I headed to the city Cali in southern Colombia. In Cali I met up with a friend, Juan Pablo, who I met in my hostel in Bogota. He lives in Cali and said he would show me around when I got down there. I absolutely loved Cali and I think it is mostly thanks to him. Being shown a city through the eyes of someone who lives there and clearly loves their city is great. Juan drove me all over the place. We went to a beautiful park one evening overlooking the city. Cali is huge! We scoped out a vegetarian restaurant, yum. Juan is also a graffiti artist and he gave me a lesson. This was so much fun and now there is a wall in Cali that says Sienna 🙂 I am now obsessed with tagging, Maine watch out! I took a great little salsa lesson in my hostel in Cali but it is so hard and I am really bad at it. I don’t have the confidence to try it out in the salsatequas. It was sad to say goodbye to Juan and Cali but I needed to head down to Ecuador.

I left Cali with a guy I met in my hostel named Max. I think the border people thought it was funny when we handed them our passports and it said Maxine and Maxwell haha. Anyways we headed to a city called Pasto which is about an hour from the Colombian border. It was an allday bus journey and when we got there we were happy to find a bar with futbol to watch.

The next day we headed to the border in a town called Ipiales. It is surprising easy to cross into Ecuador. They don’t ask any questions or search anything! You just walk across a bridge and you’re in Tulcan, Ecuador. The welcome sign is a billboard.. In Tulcan we hopped on a bus and headed for Quito.

We arrived in the lovely and enormous city of Quito in the early evening. The sunset was beautiful over the city. I spent the next three nights in the city. Quito has a gorgeous old town and a bazillion cool churches and cathedrals. It is also the week of Fiestas de Quito which is when the city was founded and the whole city is a big loco party. Sounds good to me.

Just this morning I was in Quito and I connected with a friend from Portland who is studying abroad here in Quito. Emma and I had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant. (I found both of the vegetarian places in Quito. I love scoping out the veg places in every city :p ) It was really nice to see her and when I return to Quito for the end of Quito fest hopefully I will see her again!

Right now I am in a very cute city called Baños just three hours from Quito. I just arrived this afternoon but it seems lovely…I’ll keep you posted! I hope I didn’t bore you too much. Love you all and miss you all! Hopefully it wont take me another month to update this again. To see my pictures just go to my facebook. I put up a new album for every city I go to. I’m no photographer but I think there are some good ones in there. Besos, Sienna Maxine Whatever