Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 in summary

As the world has kindly greeted us into the new year (by not ending), I'm taking a moment to look back at the rollercoaster that I've been riding this year.

WOW, so the first time I started writing this I actually started writing about 2011...2012, you sure have happened in a quick flash!!

The year started off bittersweet. I went on a quick border-hop to Chile to renew my visa - some delicious food, beautiful and HOT beaches, bank issues, and playing music and vending jewelry to alley-strollers made a thrilling adventure. Returning from this trip, I had the stark realization that I was in a relationship that was completely uninspiring and unfulfilling. Measures were quickly taken to end that. My life quickly began to transpire into more positivity, meeting new friends and having new adventures. I lived with a really fun and interesting couple and their cats. A more meaningful work situation transpired and soon I was teaching 4th graders in English and Math...this was quite a challenge but also super rewarding. I miss those little punks.

From the plaza of the desert-beach town of Arica, Chile.

Early April friends and I went on a brief weekend trip to a nearby jungle of Puerto Maldonado and had a great experience staying in cabanas on a local alternative tourism site ( I looooved being in a tropical place and learning about the different plants and their medicinal uses. We saw a bunch of tarantulas (and one made my shoe his/her home), some monkeys, and parrots. On the long bus ride back, I met a cute boy who worked on the bus and put on good movies. He had interesting tattoos and seemed eager to converse with people, so we started a conversation. Long story short, we became instant friends and were together from then on.

Natural dye from plants!
Me and Rafa at a concert

The school months kept me very busy - classroom time, report cards, and silly planning documents (darn, I guess they exist everywhere). From this experience I learned that being a full-time teacher is really a full-time commitment and I don't want to pursue it, at least at this point in my life. I also learned what it's like to have 28 kids and I'll do great with just having a few when the time comes :) 

Ausangate Bilingual School, 4th grade class. See me??

After much anticipation, my parents came to visit in May! We went to Machu Picchu and to several other archaeological sites, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, an awesome family home-stay on a farming peninsula - all in just 10 days. We really packed it all in, from trying new cuisine (including cuy and granadilla) to taking the combi (just to have the experience). To have them there was like showing them a jewel of my heart. We even hiked Wayna Picchu and my dad flew home with a charango (to add to his instrument collection).

A night of dancing with the local children with our home-stay in Luquina Chico, Lake Titicaca.

Touring the sites of Cusco, Peru

Fast forward a few months, spending time with Rafa and working, lots of working. But I began to fit work into my life by meeting with friends and doing fun things during the week, definitely essential to well-being...I was also really glad to be connected to a yoga class, a type of kundalini which also incorporated chanting. It was new for me but became a weekly spiritual practice and positive self-time to look forward to.

Kitchen window view

August came along, and with it, a long awaited adventure with my friend, Megan. Since the day she arrived we literally started out on a 5 day trek to the ruins of Choquequirao - more about it here (links to my old blogsite)
One of many, many jumping pictures

From there we were off to Colombia to explore and taste the flavors to be offered (arepas, bandera paisa, aguardiente, and salsa. Yes, the dance!). We couchsurfed and made some good friends, travelers and locals. We witnessed the most creative and beautiful displays of flowers I've seen at the Feria de los Flores. And we had fun venturing to the humid jungle-y coast of the north. Awesome trip!

Our awesome couchsurfing friends in Bogota, Colombia on our last night.

Scoping out the Flower parade, after buying hats :)
Silleta gigante! 

At this point Rafa and I had been together for awhile but were still having to travel across town to see each other. So we found a great place to move into together. we were excited to be able to be with each other often in our funky bright colored flat. He found an in to a TV station and began a new chapter in his career life, which I was glad to witness and be apart of. I continued my hobby of jar collecting and a few craft projects. If you're interested, check out my tutorials: learn how to wire-wrap objects or create a crafty recycled wallet.

Me and Rafa on the Golden Gate Bridge Look-Alike

Thanksgiving came along and we really cooked a feast. Read more about it here

The plethora of food. Preparation time: approx. 4 hours.

Diane's mulled wine and strawberry sauce (which was the closest to cranberry we could get).

In the last few months of the year I found more adventuring buddies! On weekends I would go to visit my friend who works with plants to learn and laugh. With other girlfriends we explored ruins and went on some treks, which I'm getting hooked on! The hiking (especially in high altitude) can be challenging but the thrill, nature, and people make it special and worthwhile. On one trek we decided on a theme. It goes along the lines of this quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ”Life is a journey, not a destination.” Basically, who cares if we don't end up in the exact place we imagined. The best part is to be with good people and experience every moment as it comes.

Thank you 2012 and everyone who was apart of it. Cheers to another year!


The mother vine

Playing carnavales on Sundays around Easter 

Celebrating birthday parties

Visiting the Sacred Valley for the day

Sacred Plant Spirals