Confession: I heart airplane food. Why is it so weirdly good? Another question: Why are all airplane movies so horrible? Usually with B listers like Brendan Frasier or Jennifer Love Hewitt and are about time travel or star an animal. Soooo baaaaad. Funny plane ride from Miami to Peru, the old lady next to me chewed me out for not wearing a seatbelt…she said she worked on airplanes and had seen people break their heads on the overhead bins when the plane drops 3000 feet unexpectedly. Yikes lady!

We have left Central America, so sad! I miss it already. Panama was really awesome, I highly recommend it. The people are uber friendly, for example all of them yell out Buenas! when anyone gets on the bus. We thought they all knew each other, but they´re just really friendly. And really pretty, very mestizo. We really liked the Panamanian cops, who apparently have to pass some sort of hotness test to get a job, and then they just stand on every corner in the district our hostel was in (which, now that I think about it, doesnt speak too highly of that district) and are really nice to look at and ask for directions you already know.

So we flew from Panama City to Miami, Florida, where we had a nutty five hour layover. I was forced to throw out one of my Beans in a Bag at check in, which was truly devastating, and almost brought on a nervous breakdown at six in the morning. Luckily I had checked one bag of Beans in a Bag so I can bring home the goodness and make you all try it. We got to the airport and immediately indulged in some Starbucks…holiday Pumpkin Spice blend, full fat, whipped cream, party in my mouth!!! And we went to the bathroom and SAT on the seats with TOILET SEAT COVERS and threw rolls of paper into the bowls and cackled widly as I flushed it. And paper towels!! Incredible stuff man. Then we ate at CPK, bought magazines and caught up on all our celebrity gossip. It was truly amazing. It was weird to be surrounded by people that spoke English, and realize that people can overhear and understand what we´re saying….

Got into Lima super late, and luckily had arranged for the hostel to send a driver, who was waiting for us with a sign with our names on it! We were stoked! He drove us the hour or so, chatty Cathy the whole time while we´re so tired we´re crosseyed, pointing out the Turkish Baths (don´t go there, chicas…its uh…bad…for men only…) and the glittering casinos that line the streets, and the Rustica restaurants that serve Peruvian tipica. We went to the hostel, called the Red Psycho Llama, whose mascot looks like the Emperor´s New Groove, which is awesome! Lots of things are llama and alpaca themed in Peru, which makes me want to buy everything I see, because, you may not know this, but I am obsessed with llamas and pacas. I think they are adorable and would like to raise one someday.

Miraflores is cool, a city right on the coast, lots of banks and movie theaters and restaurants and Starbucks, lots of clothes and shoe stores that make us stop and try to remember what its like to wear jeans and high heels and if I´ll be able to walk in them when I get home, an international population means you see blonde people white people and black people and Asian people and all kinds of people walking around speaking Spanish and tripping you out on the world, with huge hotels and high rises and rushing traffic.

Here, like in Central America, no one really has cars, everyone is riding a crowded minibus or a constantly honking taxi. Whereas people honk in the States because they´re mad about something, people here honk for eeeverything. (Hello, goodbye, look at that cute girl over there, I´m mad, why are we stopped? I´m hungry, its raining, I have a horn in this car, did you know? etc.) Its insane. The streets are a constant beeeBEEEPBEEEPBEEPITYeeeeep. Makes for early morning wakeups when your hostel is right on the causeway. Taxis are generally pretty funny. They´re all totally pimped out. Crazy speaker systems blaring the radio, which is awful because for some reason, Latino deejays refuse to play an entire song, and feel the need to talk over most of it with the same voice as the soccer announcers on Univision, or whistle sing along with the song, or insert random sound effects of glass breaking or sirens. I´m not sure why this is, but its really strange.

Taxis also usually have a huge dashboard setup with flashing lights and neon everything, strobe lights, rosaries and dice and random paraphenalia hanging from the mirror, also lined in neon, a Virgin Mary altar, and several tacky stickers, usually featuring the outlines of a woman´s body or a car brand name they aren´t even driving, and a Taz or Tweety bird sticker. And they all drive dangerously fast and dangerously close to one another. Its always an adventure. Also they are great conversationalists and good to practice flirting in Spanish with when asking for what I like to call a belleza discuenta, or beauty discount, for letting them drive we three beautiful chicas to the mall or causeway or whatever. It often works, but one of the last drivers we had in Panama City, right after announcing his mujer just gave birth to an albino baby (he was black, she was indio) Im pretty sure proposed marriage to me. He said he likes them a leetle gordita, like me. Sigh.

Our hostel has a kitty cat named Boris, I think because he looks Russian for some reason, and he can fit in the palm of your hand and is very cute. We get breakfast, which is sauteed onions and peppers in a breadroll, and squash pancakes that are really good. We are of course continuing our policy of eating everything in sight, and wandered the streets for fruit carts, stumbling upon something yummy called a guarimana or similar, that looks like a big smoothed down artichoke, and is DELICIOUS. Tash and I also wandered through the supermarket, our favorite place in every town, trying all the cheese and meat samples and trying to figure out what all the weird fruits and veggies are, crazy things you´ve never seen, and we may have seen iguana eggs being sold, and finding new kinds of hot sauce or tuna con vegetales or picante chips to buy. I got some microwaveable Chicarrones con limon y sal to bring home. Sadly, did not find any beans in a bag. We also went on a two and a half hour walk trying to find some ruins, asking people if we were close, and apparently embarrassing ourselves because they do not exist?! People thought we were crazy…oh well! Good walk. We ended up in another district with lots of pretty embassy buildings. Good walk.

Tomorrow we are waking up at 3am to go to the airport and fly to Cuzco and then bus for 7 hours to Lake Titicaca. Yes. Its name is really Lake Titicaca. They have floating islands with cool indigenous artisan people to hang out with, and then on December 10 we start hiking the ancient Incan Trail! I´m getting more nervous by the minute…four day, 11-15,000 feet in the air, walking 25 miles, carrying all my stuff, in the beginning of the rainy season, having not worked out in four months, simply trying not to die…getting more excited by the minute! Haha no its going to be awesome. We start hiking at 430am the last day to arrive at sunrise to the SunGate at Machu Piccu. Awesome!!

Alright going to attempt sleep for the next…oh…four hours before the taxista comes. Reading Harry Potter 7 in Spanish for the second time, working on my accent in my head and expanding my magical vocabulary.

Love you miss you wish you were here
Raquel.

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