A Beautiful Adventure

On the Road Again...

Author: KatoZoo (page 1 of 3)

Peru 2015: Lima Part Dos

For our last night in Peru we ditched the hostel and spent the rest of our funds on a nice hotel. We stayed in and ate sushi for dinner at the hotel bar, hit the pool, and enjoyed the luxuries-like being able to brush our teeth with tap water.

The hotel included a gourmet buffet breakfast where we really indulged, even letting Little Monkey enjoy hot chocolate for the first time. We were giving a late check out, which was 3pm. We took an uber to the beach and checked that off our Peru bucket list. Because of our late check out we had plenty of time to clean up. We were able to leave our luggage at the hotel even though we checked out. We used the rest of the afternoon to have a late lunch, cebiche of course. Around 6pm we ubered it back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and arranged for transportation to the dance and dinner show.


Because we were on a redeye flight out of Lima, requiring us to be at the airport at 11pm, we didn’t want to pay for another night in a hotel or hostel. But, we also didn’t want to be on the streets or sitting at the airport for hours upon hours. La Dama Juana , a dance and dinner program in Lima, was a great way for us to spend the time. They checked our luggage for us in the coatroom. A pisco sour is included and it is buffet style dinner. The food was mediocre and the dancing was great. Little Monkey absolutely loooooved the performance. It was so nice that he was so completely entertained. It is difficult, sometimes, to keep a toddler entertained during mealtime. This was a win-win. The dancing was historical Peruvian dances and as a dancer I enjoyed being exposed to the different styles. We had a slip up with the service, but all in all it was a nice experience and satisfied the need of passing time.

We headed straight to the airport from La Dama Juana, and by then we were more than ready to begin the trek back home.


I am so proud of our family. I am proud that we took the time and spent the money to have a true family vacation. Two weeks of the three of us brought us closer together. While we can’t spend life in vacation mode, it is something we can look back on and also look forward to. We now know that vacations like this are so important to our ultimate goal of keeping our family a bonded unit. I’m also proud that we took our toddler to South America. Many think we are crazy for doing this, and we are, but it was worth every struggle. I firmly believe that having him with us made our experience better. I look forward to showing him more of the world; and while he won’t have formed memories from this vacation, I hope that it will help shape his character as a citizen of the world. I believe that when we travel we are constant representatives of our culture and I hope that Little Monkey’s joy and our love as a family made us positive ambassadors for the United States.

We hope to make it back to Peru someday. We feel though that our experience in Lima and Cusco was satisfying and that there is much more to Peru we would like to experience. Our next trip will take us north to the beaches, jungle, and perhaps over to Lake Titicaca. Thank you Peru, for such beautiful memories. Until we meet again.



Kato, JZ and Little Monkey <3

Peru 2015: Cusco Continued.

The next two days we took turns staying inside with Little Monkey, for the most part. JZ took the official tour of the Cathedral. While attending mass there was awesome, if I had the time I would have paid for the tour as well. You just don’t get to really be a tourist when you attend mass. There are security guards all over the place making sure that you “don’t look while you pray”. Even for non-Catholics, the tour is well worth the money. JZ paid for the self guided tour and very much enjoyed the experience. Touring the Cathedral is a must, coming in is our #1 recommended thing to do in Cusco.

JZ tagged me out and I took a mommy-break to get a massage. There are massage hustlers all over the square promising a great massage for 35 soles, more or less. These are just Joe Schmoes that will take you to a back alley room and rub you down. I opted for the legit salon that our hostel recommended. It was 100 soles and just one block from the hostel. These are actually massage therapist and more what I was looking for in ambiance. Coming in around $30 it was still a killer deal.

We did venture out with Little Monkey for dinner most nights. (We kind of had to, and also figured that since the doctor said it was ok- he could do with a change of scenery once a day). He also was showing massive improvements by Monday evening, and so we knew we were on the right track for his recovery. Mr. Lima was in Cusco for the week (work brought him there) and we met up with him as often as possible for dinner. It was so nice to continue visiting with him, and always nice to have a translator.   We had gotten so used to having him around we hated to leave Peru and not see him every other day. Looking forward to our next visit with him, maybe when he comes our way!

For dinner, Monday night we did the famous PapaChos. PapaChos has delicious burgers. It does have that chain-style Friday’s feel, and a little pricey, but so amazing. You can get burgers here that just aren’t possible in other parts of the world (one word-alpaca). Although not super budget friendly, well worth the splurge.

Tuesday was our follow up appointment with the doctors. On the way to the appointment we maximized our outing by hitting some tourist location on our list: 1. Choco Museo. We took their free tour and samples and then purchased some take home chocolate items. Highly recommend taking the time for this. 2. Iglesia San Francisco. The church is free admission and is located in Plaza San Francisco. Mass was going on but we quietly walked around and stopped to say some prayers, thanking God and the Saints for healing our sweet baby boy.

At the appointment, both doctors seemed very pleased with his progress. The pediatrician prescribed another round of medication and continued to advise us not to travel to higher elevation or colder climate, and if we could stay in Cusco another couple days that would be best. We celebrated by wrapping up our babe and having a beer. We even made the Facebook page at Qosqo Beer House. This place is worth a visit. However, we learned here that we wouldn’t be getting any local brew on tap- they only serve that in the sacred valley. Now we know…next time. We met up with Mr. Lima for dinner again, this time we had pizza and I finally got to order a bottle of Peruvian Wine.

Wednesday we took a fantastic private tour to Tipon. I feel that this is somehow really underplayed in the travel books and websites. It is a gorgeous ruin and so peaceful. I guess because it is compared to Machu Picchu, but it is just so different that I feel like it is apples to oranges. Both fruit, but not the same. The private tour was amazing. It was $120 soles per adult and he drove us to several tourist sites in the Southern Valley. He was very well prepared and so accommodating. After we visited the ruins in Tipon he took us to a local restaurant and ordered us a plate of cuy (Guinea Pig). The family had a turkey on the back patio that Little Monkey really got a kick out of. I’m assuming they also raised the Guinea Pig we ate. The cuy was gamey, like a combination of duck and rabbit. Worth a try, but not something I’ll likely crave in the future.

Excited to try cuy!

Excited to try cuy!




In addition to Tipon, we also visited Pikillacto, a pre-Incan city. I’m not sure what it was about this place, maybe that it was even older than the Incans, or that you could really visualize the hustle and bustle of an ancient city there still, but it felt mystical to me. It could also have been the ominous clouds overhead and the storm that we avoided. 😉 As part of this we visited the former gateway of Peru. You could see in the stones where the Incans took over and added onto the architecture. This spot used to be the gateway to Argentina and Chile. I could just imagine the road that kept going and going, and walking it with donkey or llama. Little Monkey stood in the gateway and I thought “Go Little Monkey, go see the world!” My heart was happy.

Little Monkey standing in the ancient gateway.

Little Monkey standing in the ancient gateway.

I was, for a minute, set on trying chicha (corn beer), because it was mentioned in lonely planet. Turns out, it is actually more like moonshine and quite difficult to come by. Each village in the southern valley specializes in some commodity, and there was a village that specialized in chicha. Our tour guide was reluctant but willing to take me into the village and find me some chicha if I was truly set on it. By the time we had eaten the cuy I decided that was enough culinary adventure for me and passed on hunting down the chicha. Maybe, next time. Maybe never. If we had more time, or bigger stomachs, there was a village that specialized in chicharones (fried pork) but the cuy was the long/short list of our local cuisine that day. If we could have gone back though for the chicharones we would have gone back to that village.

Wednesday night we stayed close to the hostel and ate at a nice restaurant. We ordered local food but nothing too adventurous. Unfortunately, Mr. Lima got caught at work and so we never got to give him a proper goodbye. Though I’m not worried because he is family now. We are thankful that our neighbors back in Tahoe introduced us to him via social media and that we were able to make such a great connection while in Peru.

Before leaving, we somehow also fit in a stroll around San Blas. We found some chick bracelets here for both of us, and I discovered a posh coffee shop that operates as a non profit. The Meeting Place. It felt a bit like being in Seattle, but the familiarity was welcoming at this point of our trip. We stumbled across a proper market and saw where the actual locals have their lunches.

Cusco market

Cusco market in San Blas.

Thursday, we said goodbye to Cusco. Our baby was now healthy, and the airline still didn’t have our flight information figured out. It all worked out eventually, but what a stress case! Seizing the day and wanting to enjoy every single moment of the adventure, we squeezed in another day-venture before we headed to the airport. Checking Qorikancha (insert Wikipedia link) off our list was worth it. We didn’t do the museum- we did the 10 soles entrance for the monument. While leaving, we got ourselves into some lama drama. The perfect ending to our Cusco chapter.

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Peru 2015: Cusco…

Saturday night was horrible. I was really sick, but so was Little Monkey. He developed a horrible cough and was vomiting. JZ stayed up all night checking on him. By morning he had a cough that sounded like croup (except at the time, we didn’t know it sounded like croup and were just horrified by the sound!). I had never heard a more horrible sound in all my life.

Sunday morning, Jake went and got breakfast for us and brought it back to the room while I stayed with the babe. The plan was for the family to attend mass together but I went alone so that JZ and Little Monkey could rest. I stood in the back of the cathedral during mass. After mass I visited the different stations and prayed, in a very real way, for the health and life of my child. I had never been so scared before. I know for certain that the unfamiliarity of a foreign country had a lot to do with that. We ended up walking to a 24-hour travel clinic, only to discover that they actually do home visits. I’m actually glad we ended up at the clinic though because the doctor was very worried and needed certain equipment he wouldn’t have had on hand. When a doctor that doesn’t speak your language very well, and you don’t speak his, has fear in his eyes after examining your child, shit gets real. He gave our little one a steroid injection to help him breath, and oxygen. Also, letting a foreign doctor give your baby any medications is fucking terrifying. Excuse the profanities, but that is how it felt! We had to make a decision and fast, and ultimately we decided to trust the doctor. The doctor was adamant that we needed a pediatrician immediately or to go to the hospital. He was so kind and was able to find a pediatrician willing to come to the clinic on a Sunday evening and examine our sick baby. Eventually, the conclusion was that Little Monkey had an ear infection that spread and was causing his cough. The good news was that it was not a respiratory issue. We were told to cancel our plans to Puno and stay in Cusco until the doctor cleared him for travel back to Lima.  We were given several medications and scheduled a follow up for Tuesday evening. The pediatrician predicted that if he had in fact diagnosed correctly, the medication should work almost immediately. If anything got worse we were to call the doctor and they would both meet up with us again or meet us at the hospital.

Canceling our plans to Puno wasn’t difficult. We were originally going to take a night bus Monday night into Puno, so no need to cancel any flights or trains going that way. We lost a deposit on our hostel but that was $10 or less. The hassle was changing our flight to Lima. Instead of taking a flight from Puno to Lima, with a layover in Cusco, we needed to just take a flight from Cusco. Sounds easy enough, but it was absolutely horrific. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details, but if you can possibly ever avoid flying LAN airlines you should run away in the other direction as fast as possible. Every single detail about their customer service during this stressful incident was nightmarish. Enough…

The good news is that he did improve within 24 hours, as the pediatrician had predicted. We kept him wrapped up warm and nursed him back to health, but still experienced, explored and enjoyed our time in Cusco. Instead of a few nights in Cusco we stayed there a week. By the time we checked out of the hostel Little Monkey had pretty much been adopted into the family!

Mural on Av El Sol. During the walk "home" from the doctor visit.

Mural on Av El Sol.
During the walk “home” from the doctor visit.

Peru 2015: Arrival to Cusco

Leaving Aguest Calientes, the adventure began to take a turn for the worse. I wasn’t able to get a call through to our hostel and was hoping that they would receive my email regarding our transportation. I had requested pick up from the train station, but with the strike we wouldn’t be getting in until at least midnight. I wasn’t sure if they got it, and what we would do if we didn’t have someone waiting for us. Also, Litlte Monkey had come down with a fever and a stuffy nose.

It was about 2am when we finally arrived at the station, nobody waiting for us. We arranged a taxi for 40 soles, which was actually less than the pre-arranged price of 60. We got to our hostel late, having to knock on the door and wake the night manager. He said “we sent someone for you, they waited until 10:30pm”. Guess they didn’t get the message.

Our room was really nice. It had a little sitting room, mini fridge, a big bed, a crib, a small balcony and a shower with consistent hot water. Orquidea Real Hostal. It is in a prime location, about two blocks from the town square/cathedral, on the edge of the artsy San Blas and walking distance to Av El Sol. A nice, warm breakfast is included every morning until 9am. It is quiet; not a party hostel. We saw a lot of families and were some of the youngest guests there. The family that takes care of the place is very nice and helpful, but they don’t speak English very well. The night manager actually speaks the best English, but you don’t see him much.

Saturday we were lazy. Little Monkey seemed to have come down with a cold and we were all exhausted from traveling. We cuddled in bed and relaxed the day away. Watching cartoons and How I Met Your Mother in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles is a great way to improve your foreign language skills and to entertain a sicky baby. Saturday night we ventured out for fresh air and dinner. We found a comfortable restaurant (Los Tomines) with great service and hot soup.  Our server treated us to house made Cocoa Pisco shots. This gave us a bit of energy to explore. After dinner, we followed the sound of fire works and found our to way to Plaza de Armas, at the cathedral, where towers of fireworks were being set off. It seemed as though Little Monkey wasn’t the only one not feeling well, as I also had felt sick all day and still did; so we decided to call the night short and keeping Little Monkey bundled up tight, we walked back to our room. Inadvertently, we found ourselves at the famous, historical, Inkan wall. We snapped a selfie and enjoyed the scene as we strolled. To our enjoyment and surprise, once settled and cozy back inside, we could still enjoy the fireworks show from our balcony!

I remember later speaking with our friend Mr. Lima and he says to me “Cusco has some magic about it doesn’t it?”. Yes it does, indeed.

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

Peru 2015: Machu Picchu

Our itinerary had us scheduled for an early Thursday morning departure from Ollantaytambo with the intention of staying the night in Aguas Calientes, a small tourist town at the base of Machu Picchu. Our tickets for Machu Picchu were for Friday, and we were planning on doing the 5:30am bus ride up to the ruins. Because of the Perurail strike our plans changed. We spent much of Thursday in line at the train station, due to rumors that the trains may run or that we could somehow get to Aguas Calientes that night. We even looked into hiring a taxi to take us as far as the hydrostation and then hiking 2-4 hours in, but eventually ruled that out, as we did not want to be hiking in the dark with the baby on our back. Everything worked out eventually. Turns out I forgot to actually book us a hostel in Aguas Calientes for Thursday night, so we weren’t out any money there. We were able to hop into a hostel close to the Ollantaytambo train station before the crowds hit. We were legitimately concerned that we would be without a place to sleep that night having been stranded in Ollantaytambo with so many others, including a school district field trip of about 60 ten year olds. We made the best of our extra night in Ollantaytambo, eating at our favorite spot one more time, Puka Rumi.

Perurail put us on the first available train out of Ollantaytambo, but we were disappointed that it didn’t stop through our station until 10:30am, putting us in Aguas Calientes at noon. We were really hoping to still be able to get to Machu Picchu by early morning. Nothing we could do about it though so we picked up a boxed lunch from Hearts Café on our way out of town and loaded onto the train.

The train provided plenty of food and we needn’t have purchased a box lunch. A lovely American couple, newly engaged, sat across from us. They had been re-scheduling their travel plans for three days and were cutting it close, barely getting to Machu Picchu…until the train in front of us was derailed! One of the InkaRail trains was derailed; luckily there were no injuries. This caused more than a two hour delay for us, but all in all it backed up the entire train system until 6pm that night! We eventually had to unload our train, walk around the derailed train and load onto another train that carried us into Aguas Calientes.


transferring trains

transferring trains

When we finally arrived in Aguas Calientes at 2:30pm it was torrential downpour of rain! We fumbled around with our decision making, at first thinking we should gamble with our permit- hoping we could use it the next day and just grab a hostel in town to wait out the storm. Well, we couldn’t find a hostel available, and the weather forecast wasn’t much better for the next day. After wasting twenty minutes or so, we ran for the bus station, purchased our tickets and headed towards Machu Picchu. The scariest part of this entire adventure: the bus ride up the mountain! The rain had dwindled to a drizzle by the time we bought our bus tickets. It continued to drizzle a little as we hiked up, but at the moment we arrived to the look out the rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and it was as though angels were singing our welcome (specifically my grandma, since it would have been her 85th birthday this day!). It misted for another minute or two and then the rest of our time exploring Machu Picchu was sunny and clear! It was such a beautiful way to honor my grandma on her birthday and to experience one of the wonders of the world!

After checking this off our bucket list we still had to wait out the train station delay. We took advantage of the extra time and explored little Aguas Calientes. We treated ourselves to beers and a fruit juice for Little Monkey at a cozy, posh little restaurant where we sat on a couch and toasted to our success. Wondering if the couple ever made it to Machu Picchu or not, because we knew for certain that three others had to cancel their trip, because of the rail strike. We were glad we made it, and also glad that we had scheduled Machu Picchu in the middle of our trip and not right at the end. When traveling, especially in a developing country, leave room for mishaps!

Machu Picchu Success!

Machu Picchu Success!





These sites were incredibly helpful in my preparations for Machu Picchu:
I saved a lot of money by using the above site and getting my permit through the Peruvian government, even though many books and sites will say it’s not possible.


Peru 2015: Ollantaytambo

Stepping back in time, cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo.

Stepping back in time, cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo.

Discovering upon arrival in Cusco that our baby carrier had been broken during transit was a stressful way to begin our next chapter in Peru. After a couple hours of frustrating dialogue, we finally got a satisfactory resolution to the problem. The airline (LCPeru) was very helpful and responsive to the problem. They gave us cash money and also transported us directly to our hostel in Ollantaytambo (about two hours away from Cusco). Arriving in Ollantaytambo, we knew immediately that we had just entered a special place.

Wandering cobblestone streets and hiking Incan ruins, we soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed the feeling of stepping back in time. If going to Macchu Picchu I highly recommend staying at least a couple nights here and experiencing the old world.

Our hostel, Casa de Wow, was up the cobblestone streets and away from the hustle and bustle of the Macchu Picchu transits. We scored the matrimony room and were much more comfortable here then in our Lima hostel. This time we actually had hot water and eggs for breakfast. It was a great hostel for families or those looking for some quiet away from the party scene. Ollantaytambo is so small though, the excitement is just a five minute walk away.

We did a lot of shopping here for souvenirs. Beware of the art gallery though; she scammed me. Shame on me for being so gullible. If I had spent time in Cusco first, I would have known that what she claimed to be original pieces were actually just run of the mill prints that many will try to hawk to you in the Cusco town square. Oh well. We had a good time chatting with her (as she lied to us), and we have artwork that reminds us of Peru and a funny story to laugh about when we are old (or anytime we look at the print!).

We did the “Pinkuylluna” trail and I recommend it to anyone on a tight budget looking for some amazing ruins to explore. Unlike most of the Ollantaytambo ruins, these are free. It’s not what I expected as a trailhead, and we nearly missed it because of that. See picture of trailhead sign below.

Pinkuylluna trailhead

Pinkuylluna trailhead

The hike is about two hours total, but steep. If you have walking sticks with you, now is the time to use them. My husband found it using this app: Triposo Peru. Recommend that app too. We used it for general guidance here and there as an alternative to my lonely planet book.

View of Ollantaytambo from Pinkuylluna hike.

View of Ollantaytambo from Pinkuylluna hike.

Eating in Ollantaytambo is awesome. Lonely Planet made it seem like (to us at least) there were limited places to eat here. Not the case. The food is amazing and options plentiful. Our first night we went basic with a pizza special. We were not impressed with the service there; I think they forgot about us. I know things are slower in Peru, but this was reeeeaaaallllly slow. We didn’t go back there. (If I could remember the name of the place I would warn you against it, but I can’t. It’s on the corner of the main square on the left hand side as you look down the hill towards the transit area.) We loved a little café where we ate an alpaca lunch after our hike. Alpaca is delicious. We also loved everything about another cafe run by a very nice Peruvian who spoke wonderful English. Again, I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was in the south corner of the plaza. They had scrumptious sandwiches and served Peruvian beer on tap. TIP: get the beer! We were excited to see beer on tap but were not in the mood for a beer at that moment so we didn’t order it. We assumed we could get some another time. Not the case. They only serve that beer in the sacred valley. That was the only time we ever Peruvian Beer on tap, and we never got to try it. So if you find it, have a round for us! Our favorite place was a lonely planet recommendation: Puka Rumi. We ordered the burrito as recommended and just continued to eat there as often as possible. We also followed Lonely Planet’s advice and ate some ice cream from Tutti Amore while we waited for the train, and ordered box lunches to go for our Machu Picchu trip from Hearts Café. The boxed lunches from Hearts Café were delicious and a great value; tons of food. Not really necessary though because we didn’t realize that when the train company says the ticket includes a snack they actually mean a meal plus a couple snacks. Peruvians do like to feed you! If you’re seeking good coffee though the café con leche at Hearts Café was the best coffee we had in Peru.

Our original itinerary was two nights in Ollantaytambo, but Perurail went on strike and we ended up staying a third night. The third night we grabbed the first hostel with a room available, close to the train station. The sign read “Hostel”, the price was right, and we were thankful that with so many stranded travelers we were able to snag a private room. It didn’t include breakfast or anything, but that didn’t matter since our box lunch was pretty much breakfast too. While the strike situation was annoying and frustrating, another night in Ollantaytambo was a good consolation. If I could go back to any of the places we visited in Peru, I would go back there. I’m in love with this little town.



Peru 2015: Lima Part Uno

Before arriving to Lima we were put in touch with a friend of a friend who was graciously willing to show us around. He picked us up from the airport, holding a sign with my name on it and everything. He instantly became a friend of the family. His help during our time in Lima, particularly that first day, was a major contributor to how much we enjoyed our time there (and probably Peru in general). He took us to the hostel to let us get settled, then out to lunch at La Red where we enjoyed fabulous cebiche as well as other Peruvian dishes. We were introduced to rocoto- a Peruvian spicy salsa. He also helped us by taking us to the grocery mart where we were able to buy some snacks (local Peruvian snacks with his help), water, and get local SIM cards for our cell phones. He even made sure we were able to exchange our money at an exchange location (because the airport is no Bueno for exchange rates). He drove us around the different areas of Lima so we had a decent sense of where we were. We don’t speak much Spanish at all and it was really nice having someone to order us a real Peruvian meal and help us get settled. Our hostel was in Mira Flores. After Mr. Lima dropped us off Saturday night, we passed out and slept straight through until Sunday morning.

The hostel served breakfast, which meant instant coffee and bread. We had some fruit from the market to supplement the breakfasts and so they got us by. We made it Mass at noon at the Mira Flores Catholic Church then Ubered it to The Suco district where we met Mr. Lima and his family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins!) for lunch. The Arab cuisine at Tierra Santa was delicious. One thing about dining out in Peru so far, don’t be in a hurry! The service is slow and even the customers seem to savor their food and their company slowly. Lunch seems to be the main meal of the day. People eat a lot and take their time. After three hours of eating lunch, now 5pm, we ordered an Uber to pick us up and take us to the center of town so I could see the precession of the lord of miracles (a local religious festival where the center of Lima is draped in purple and the church carries the saint through town for two days). Well our Uber driver tried to call is and being unable to reach us via cell he canceled our order. Again, Mr. Lima to the rescue to translate for us and make sure we were heading in the right direction!
Our driver was great about getting us as close to the presecion as possible. Now the fun really began! Standing out in a sea of Peruvians, we got right in the midst of the procession.

I actually think we were in it! Surrounded by locals we joined in the clapping and just moved where the crowd moved. When it was over we were right in center Lima at night fall. Street vendors galore! We bought a couple 2 sole items (roughly $0.60) and searched for what seemed like the safest food vendor. We settled on one that seemed safe enough and paid 2 soles each for dinner.

Pumped up and feeling brave after being in the Peruvian crowds, we decided to keep the party going and head to Lima’s Magic Water Show. This was recommended to us by Mr. Lima’s cousin. But, not able to get an Uber, we ended up in the “wrong” part of town. A concerned older Peruvian man was able to convince us we needed to get in a Taxi. He negotiated the price of 10 soles for us and told the driver where we were going. All set. Exept the driver didn’t have change and we only had 50 soles. It took a couple attempts but eventually we made change for the taxi and we’re ready for the Magic Water Show. It was 4 soles per adult to enter the reserva park (next to the stadium), a steal! A wonderful time was had by all as we toured the many water fountains, some set to lights and music. It was a long but wonderful day in Lima. An uber took us back to the hostel and we put our passed out Little Monkey to bed at the hostel. We had the room right next to the common area so while our sweet baby slept we enjoyed a glass of wine and socialized with the other travelers. One of our favorite aspects of traveling is meeting the other travelers and generally getting to know people from all around the world.
Monday in Lima bustles. We walked over 9 miles that day as we explored Mira Flores. On the way toward the water front we stopped at a playground and let Little Monkey get out some energy and socialize with other babes. We lunched at Larcomar, the upscale shopping center. Tanta restaurant was recommended by Mr. Lima, perhaps because they had menus in English and servers who spoke English too! Like good travelers, while at Larcomar, we picked up our train tickets for Machu Picchu at the Perurail point of sales. Then, we walked down to the beach and watched the surfers. We hit up the playground again on the way back to the hostel. I’ve never seen so many kids actually at the playground before. There were about 100 kids playing there this time! After a late and much needed nap, we ventured out one more time for some Chifa, the Peruvian version of Chinese food. Then, because we let Little Man eat the candied leche from the Chifa restaurant and he was fired up, the three of us socialized back at the hostel our last night in Lima (for now).

You see “#LimaLove” around Lima a lot. There were definitely a lot of affectionate couples in the city. I’m not sure if that’s why, or if it’s because it’s a really great a city. Peruvians in general, so far, seem jolly. They are all happy, helpful, and kind. Maybe it’s because we are traveling with a baby. It seems more like it’s just their way though. Often, we play the what if game. “What if, we could move here for a while”. Maybe.
Off toward the sacred valley and Machu Picchu next.




Road Trip 2015: Circling back to Nor-Cal

“On the road again

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway

We’re the best of friends

Insisting that the world be runnin’ our way…

On the Road again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again”


Holdings hands and listening to our song, we began the last leg of our road trip. From So-Cal to Nor-Cal, circling back towards where we began.

Saturday we have a wedding in San Francisco. After that we are spending some time at my family’s house to prepare for South America. We will visit with my friends and family and stay put in my hometown for a while so we can sort out what is next for us.

People keep asking us “what’s it like, being nomads”. It is difficult. But, life tends to be difficult with a toddler and a zoo crew no matter where we are. Difficult does not mean bad. Will we do another Road Trip like this? I wouldn’t put money on it; though I will never say, “never”. One thing I will say for sure, if I had to go back in time and decide all over again if we were going to do this, I would still say “yes, lets go!” It was one of those experiences in life that we won’t regret reliving in our old age.

Stay tuned for more beautiful adventures of the Zoo Crew. Up next, Peru, South America.

Happy Traveling,


Road Trip 2015: So Cal

We’re going back, back, to Cali, Cali…

From New Mexico, to Arizona, onto Long Beach, California, we drove for 12 ½ hours. Driving into Phoenix, Arizona there is this section of cacti that looks like something out of a cartoon. We pulled over here to let everyone stretch their legs and to check out IMG_5579the amazing cacti. There were several different kinds, and some of them were gigantic! JZ and I agreed that taking the little breaks of this nature, the ones where you go “pull over, I want to get a better look!” are what makes the road trip a road trip. Yes, we are excited for each stop, but it is also about the space in between, the journey. Those moments where you say “I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before”, are the moments to hold onto during all the instability of living this nomadic life.


A late night dinner at In N’ Out seemed fitting before we quickly settled into our airbnb for the night.

Sunday was another big day: Disneyland! We took Little Monkey to Disneyland for the first time and we did it up big! We rallied in the morning and took him to the character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen, which I highly recommend. It is pricey, but it’s a sure way to get up close and personal with the characters. Little Monkey didn’t like them to get too close, but the characters were great about warming up to him. It also made him more excited for the rest of the day. Every time he saw Goofy walking around or in the parade he would squeal and point. And it seems like he’s got a soft spot for Minnie Mouse. Just like the zoo, we went marathon style at Disneyland; but this time we took a nap/dinner break for a few hours in the late afternoon. This was nice because we were able to check on the dogs, rest, and order pizza to our Long Beach house. We considered not going back but we are so glad that we did. Little Monkey really loved the light parade, and the firework show is extra spectacular this year because of the 60th diamond anniversary celebration.


In addition to Disneyland, there was a lot to do in Southern California for us. You see Long Beach is my old stomping ground. I graduated from CSULB many moons ago. So like JZ in Seattle, I had many friends to see and many of them have little monkeys of their own now too. We got some great visits in with wonderful friends and it was great to introduce Little Monkey to those that hadn’t met him yet. Our activities included a day in Santa Monica, exploring the Santa Monica Pier and hanging with friends. We even ventured up to Pasadena to spend time with friends who treated us to “The Rise of the Jack-o-lanterns”, a sculpture exhibit made up entirely of jack-o-lanterns. JZ made sure to take a lunch break swim in the ocean with us, and of course we had to take the dogs to their favorite dog beach in Huntington Beach.

dogs on beach

Visits to Southern California never seem long enough. I always feel like I could easily move back there. Someday, maybe. For now, it’s time to say goodbye and hit the road as our adventure begins to end.

route 66 2

On the Road Again,


Road Trip 2015: New Mexico

route 66In a little over nine hours we made the drive from Colorado Springs to New Mexico. An impromptu diaper change had us pulling over and for a short while we were on the famous Route 66! This was a highlight for me (last season I choreographed and coached an award winning routine to this song!). JZ’s Dad and Step Mom, lovingly known as Granny & Gramps, live on an 80 plus acre homestead out there. This place is heaven. No other home can be seen from their house. No other light can be seen from their house. I’ve been there three times now, and still, it blows me away. I have never been to any other house where I can’t see another house, or light. or road from it. This is truly our Little House on the Prairie. JZ did have to work every day but we had family meals together every day and got to enjoy beautiful skies every night. The Total Lunar Eclipse happened the night we arrived and so the moon was extra bright during our stay. There is no light pollution out there and so the moon and stars are just breathtaking. The entire visit was relaxing.


Little Monkey managed to keep me busy though. One afternoon we explored the grounds and climbed about a tractor. The next afternoon I hosed down an area for mud pies and that took up the better part of the afternoon. (I kept thinking that my Grandmother M was smiling down on us while we played in the mud. Having grown up on a farm in Kansas, getting down and dirty and having fun seemed like something she would have approved of). One afternoon during lunch break, JZ put Little Monkey on his back and we hiked up the mesa with the Vizslas. Even from atop the mesa, we couldn’t see another house. Incredible. Gramps fed the horses and that provided an entire morning of entertainment for Little Monkey. Every evening JZ and I took Little Monkey out to the see the horses; and sure enough he was saying, “horse” and pointing to them constantly, after just a couple days out there. Lucky little guy even got to get on one!

Again, the time with family was the best part. Seeing my son with relatives and seeing them love him makes my heart swell. And after a short week in New Mexico, we saddled up the Subaru and drove off into the sunset.


On the Road Again,


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