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Musings, Inspirations, and Adventures

Welcome…

I intend this blog to be a safe and inspiring space for me to share and express myself intentionally and without the noise and not-so-fun side of social media. I also intend it to be a living, breathing, ongoing conversation. I welcome your thoughts, questions, and even your disagreements…let’s connect, share ideas, explore the world, and this thing called life together!

Cusco Day 3 – Sacred Valley Tour & Cusco at Night

Cusco Day 3 – Sacred Valley Tour & Cusco at Night
Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru


Woke up Saturday morning still high from my day in Machu Picchu on Friday – and to the most amazing view of the Pakaritampu gardens from my bedroom window (see pictures from Cusco Day 1). It was raining, so at first I was concerned that I may not be able to enjoy some of the sights I had planned on visiting – but thankfully the rains died down after mid day. After another delicious breakfast at Pakaritampu, I sadly said my good-byes to the incredible staff and checked out. I then headed into the center of Ollantaytambo to check out the town and go see the ruins. I hired a guide, Edwin, who was incredibly sweet and taught me so much about the history of the town and the significance of the ruins. I was so impressed at the history of the town and the fact that it was the site of the biggest Inca standoff against the Spanish. The layout of the ruins and town are not only functional but provides amazing views from every angle. I was fascinated by the Colcas (agricultrual warehouses) and the face in the mountain – many theories as to whether it is natural or man made, but either way it’s very cool! After visiting the ruins, I walked into the Plaza de Armas and checked out some of the shops and restaurants. I bought a beautiful scarf ro 10 Soles (about $3.50) and met two beautiful little girls dressed in traditional clothes who made their living posing for tourist pictures. I obliged and chatted with them about what they wanted to do when they grow up. They both said they wanted learn Spanish and go to the University in Cusco – which I was both surprised and relieved to hear and told them I wholeheartedly supported their decision ;-) I met a gentleman in town who owns a resturant near the Pakaritampu, and also ran a taxi service, so he offered to have one of his drivers take me to Cusco, and stop at a few sights on the way for 110 Soles (about $35). So we headed out of town and towards Maras to see the ruins at Moray. The town on Maras is small but full of character. The circles of Moray were incredible – it’s hard not to compare them to crop circles, but they are so much more significant, and it is easy to see that they could have been used as an ampitheatre or meeting place of sorts, but were apparently a very sophisticated system of agricultural terraces. I had planned to proceed and visit the Salineras (Salt Mines) but my driver told me the roads were closed off due to the rains…bummer but just one more reason to come back again ;-) After leaving Moray, we headed to Chincherro, so I could see first hand why they had proclaimed it “Peru’s newest marvel”. It was beautiful and had such an incredible energy – so much history.The church was old and somewhat simple looking from the outside, but when you walk in, it is amazing to see the amount of Cusco School artwork and colonial decor. I must say this is where I encountered the most insistent vendors – all 6 years old or thereabouts and straight HUSTLERS!! ;-) I had to buy a Chullo and purse just to get them to leave me alone, but it was worth it ;-) From Chincherro, we headed towards Cusco. I arrived at Hostel San Isidro Labrador – a couple of blocks up from the Plaza de Armas and was relieved that it was clean, spacious and the staff were extremely helpful – even letting me use their computer to check emails and download my pictures. This was officially my first experience staying in a Hostel – I feel like such a “Mochilera” (backpacker) ;-) I asked the gal at San Isidro what a tourist like me should do for fun – and she recommended I check out a couple of the clubs: Garrabatos, Mama Afrika, etc…Since it was still fairly early, I decided to just walk around the town and see the sights. I started in the Plaza de Armas, then headed up Avenida del Sol for a bit, making my way eventually up towards San Francisco cathedral and the market out in the plaza. Being that it was a Saturday night – the streets were full of people and music coming from the different restaurants and clubs. What a beautiful place…I am in love with Cusco!! After walking around for a bit, I decided to head back towards the Plaza and grab some food. I decided I would try to find the Irish pub Aiden said he worked at – hoping there wouldn’t be too many to choose from ;-) Sure enough, I saw “Paddy’s” on the corner to the right of the Cathedral and headed there. As I was nearing the Cathedral, I heard a firetruck siren and turned around to see a firetruck with at least 15 firemen hanging off the sides yelling and waving at people. I had no idea what was going on and figured this is just protocol for Cusco firefighting ;-) Then the truck drove up onto the Cathedral steps, the men got out, and proceeded to set up a row of flames in the form of an arch and an adjoining walkway leading from the firetruck down to the Cathedral steps. That’s when I noticed the fireman in official uniform and a beautiful lady in a wedding dress next to him and realized this was some sort of wedding ceremony. Needless to say, it was a very cool site – and everyone in the Plaza came by to check it out. You just don’t get that kind of stuff in the States! So, after the show, I finally made it in to Paddy’s and was happy to see Aiden behind the bar – after traveling alone for a few days, it’s amazing how nice it is to see any kind of familiar face ;-) He recognized me, and we chatted while I enjoyed a Cuzquena and a delicious Pisco Sour. I had only planned on having a couple of drinks there, but after seeing a few of the plates go by, and influenced by Aiden’s savvy sales skills, I was convinced to try their pub grub. Unfortunately the delicious baked chicken with veggies and mash potatoes I ordered had apparently just run out – so I went for Aiden’s recommendation of the Beef Casserole. It was incredible! Better than any pub food I have ever had – hands down! It was so filling, I only had half of it and saved the rest for my lunch the next day… After that, I bid adieu to Aiden and headed across the steet to Norton Rat’s – another Plaza de Armas staple and responsible for many a drunken tourist. I enjoyed another delicious Pisco Sour and started chatting with a pretty Swedish girl who spoke absolutely perfect spanish and no english whatsoever. She was in Cusco teaching and volunteering at an orphanage. Her boyfriend – a local Cusco lad, was also a teacher and a tour guide. I chatted with them for a while and picked their brain about the economy and educational system in Cusco and their not-too-positive opinion of Lima folks. I in turn answered their questions about life as a Peruvian Gringa in the states and our “monkey” of a president ;-) We were getting along so well, they invited me out with them to go check out some of the local clubs. First we checked out Mythology – right next to Mama Afrika. It was fun – lots of European tourists and techno music, but then they started playing some Cumbias and I finally got the urge to shake my booty…I was having such a good time that when they suggested we go to a “real” Cusco Club, I was all for it…they warned me this was not a tourist place – and I, somewhat offended that they would assume I was “just a tourist”, assured them that was precisely where I wanted to go! So, we headed down Avenida del Sol to a place called Don Diablos, and I have to admit, I was slightly intimidated walking in. Not only was I the tallest person in there, but everyone there were like professional dancers compared to me – sure, I have god-given latin rhythm and can get by just fine (especially in the states!) But when you are in a country where dancing is literally a national sport – you can feel a little threatened. I noticed the stares of people a little surprised to see this tall gringa and/or Limena walking into their locals-only club – but after a few minutes, all was chill and I, with Cuba Libre in hand, proceeded to dance the night away and have the time of my life! We met up with some friends of theirs – a couple who were super sweet and taught me all the latest dances – I even danced a traditional Huayno ;-) At about 3:30 AM, I decided I should head back to the hostel if I was to have any kind of productive day on Sunday…so they accompanied me back in a taxi. I am happy to say, my first night in Cusco was the BOMB!!! ;-p I ended up getting a little more than 5 hours sleep but feel surprisingly ok…just had breakfast here at the hostel and plan on heading to the Cathedral for Mass in a few minutes, and then catch a cab to the Pisac Market…should be a fabulous day!



Cusco Day 2 – MACHU PICCHU!!!

Cusco Day 2 – MACHU PICCHU!!!
Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru


Woke up at 5:30 and had a scrumptious breakfast courtesy of Hotel Pakaritampu’s Breakfast Buffet…fresh homemade yogurts in 3 different flavors, quinoa cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, delicious fresh fruit, fruit juices, coffee, tea – you know, just a simple little something ;-) Then walked 1/4 mile up the road to the Ollantaytambo train station to board the Vistadome train up to Aguas Calientes. When I noticed the train was not full, and realized this was a non-stop train, I asked the conductor if I could take the front row seat. Without hesitating, he said of course, and had a gentleman clean the window for me so I could have an unobstructed view of the breathtaking scenery I was about to experience…took many photos and a few videos – none of which capture just how spectacular the ride actually was, but will hopefully give you a sense.

You can’t help but feel that you are entering a magical place, from the second you land in Cusco – no matter which method of transportation you choose – the road to Machu Picchu is full of excitement, awe-inspiring scenery, generous, warm-hearted people, and an undeniably powerful energy. All part of the climax that awaits upon arriving at Machu Picchu. My jaw was open the entire train ride to Aguas Calientes ;-)

Once I arrived, I walked around the base part of town – then figured out where I had to go to take the bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. I hadn’t done much research about this specific part of the journey, so since I was still secretly wishing I had done the Inca Trail, I innocently asked one of the locals how long it would take to walk up there. She looked at me a little crazy and said it would take 2 hours, but her face said “girl you’s a fool!!”, so I decided to take the bus ;-). For $10, not a bad choice, given that we passed several poor souls who had not made my same decision and were miserably hiking up a 45 degree winding mountain on a fairly warm day. Once we arrived, I decided I wanted to hike to Huayna Picchu – and that I would try to find a guide to take me so I didn’t kill myself. The first gentleman I asked told me he would do it for 120 soles (about $40) – not bad, but then I saw a kind looking woman and when I asked her she said 100 soles. I decided that was a good deal, and then she asked me if I minded if one of her guide friends came along with us – so I ended up getting 2 for 1!

We walked through Machu Picchu on the way to Huayna Picchu, at which point I was kind of in shock. It didn’t really hit me that I was actually there. It was a picture-perfect day – it had rained all day the day before, so everything was bright green, lush, and the sky was clear with the most incredible white clouds I have ever seen. I had come prepared for cold weather, but thankfully had packed a T-shirt in my bag – if not I would have been miserable on the fairly intense hike up Huayna Picchu. I had to remind myself that the altitude was a factor – but creepy to feel so out of breath so quickly! Then again, the hike is at times a completely vertical ascent, so I am very thankful I decided to do it in the first part of the day! That and the fact that they only allow 400 people each day, and I was already #198 at 10:00 AM!

My guides were so wonderful – they told me the history of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu and much, much more. They showed me all the great “Kodak Moment” spots and are responsible for some incredible pictures. At the top – I just stood there and was speechless for a bit as I soaked it all in.



Cusco Day 1 – Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo

Cusco Day 1 – Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo, Peru

Ollantaytambo, Peru


Left my grandma’s house at 5:00 AM to be at Lima airport at 5:30 for my 7:40 flight. At 7:30 they announced that our flight had been canceled ;-( Curses LAN, Curses!! They instructed us to go to gate #8 where they would be trying to get us all on alternate flights – in order of check in. Being that the printer at my grandmother’s house was out of ink – I had not been able to do my on-line check in and had done so upon arriving at the airport – so I knew I was knew I was going to be there for awhile…if I even got on a plane at all!

I ended up watching almost everyone else get on the next two flights and ended up on the 9:30. At 9:20 they announced that the flight was going to be delayed for an hour due to maintenance. Double curses to you LAN!!! I was highly emotional and operating on one and a half hours of sleep at this point – so I actually took the time to fill out a complaint card. HAHA!! At 10:30, after 5 hours in the airport, I finally departed for Cusco. Funny thing is, as soon as we were in the air, the frustration of the whole morning completely disappeared, and from the second I landed – the entire trip to Cusco was magic…

The taxi that the hotel arranged for me was thankfully still nearby, so he came and got me right away. We picked up a lady in the center of town that had apparently come with him to be my unofficial tour guide as we drove from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. The first thing I wanted to do was heed my mother’s instructions and have a Mate de Coca (Coca Leaf Tea) to help with the Sorochi (altitude sickness). My taxista stopped at a street vendor and bought me a bag of coca leaves, then drove me to a local restaurant that graciously prepared my tea. The restaurant had a beautiful mural on the wall, and I got my first sense of Cusco hospitality…

The drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo was AMAZING. The view of Cusco from above is spectacular, but as we started going through the Sacred Valley, I was speechless. My guides were so great – they stopped at all of the “Kodak moment” spots and filled me in on all the history. As we arrived in Ollantaytambo, I was practically jumping out of the car with excitement. My guides dropped me off at my uncle’s hotel – the Pakaritampu. Gorgeous is a huge understatement. I was greeted so warmly and treated like a princess my entire stay. I couldn’t believe the gorgeous view of the hotel gardens and surrounding mountains from my room window. As soon as I had settled in and rested for a bit, the bellboy – Moises, walked me to buy a train ticket for tomorrow’s trip to Machu Picchu. I decided to buy the 6:30 AM Vistadome ticket ($45) for the ride there – it’s a window car, so you can see the sites on the way up. The ticketing agent offered me the locals train back at 9:10 PM which only cost 10 Soles. That gives me a full day to explore Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes…I can’t wait!

When I returned to the hotel, I treated myself to a Pisco Sour at the bar, had a great conversation with the bartender and then enjoyed a delicious eggplant parmigiana at the restaurant. Now it’s time for bed so I can rest and have tons of energy for what will surely be one of the most awesome days and experiences of my life ;-) MACHU PICCHU tomorrow!!!



My “Stealth” first few days in Lima

My "Stealth" first few days in Lima
Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru


I have been in Peru for almost three days and leave for Cusco tomorrow. My first day was spent resting and hanging out with my grandma and my cousin Mario. My first meal back in Peru after 12 years was….Pizza Hut. ;-) Still way better than American Pizza Hut, but nonetheless a tad bit ironic.

On the 16th I woke up and had my first Peruvian Breakfast which never fails to deliver – fresh baked bread rolls with fresh cheese and ham, fresh jugo (juice) and Peruvian Coffee (even the instant coffee in Peru kicks Starbucks’ ass!!) After breakfast, my cousin Mario and I went for a walk to Andres’s house – to get some exercise and mostly just spend some time getting to know each other. We had a blast hanging out in the park and I relished being able to spoil him ;-) For lunch, I took him to a Cebicheria on the corner of Simon Salguero called “Punta Sal” where I had my first “real” Peruvian Ceviche in 12 years. YUMMMMM. and for only 21 soles (about 7 bucks) not bad at all.

That evening I was invited to my Tio Alberto and Tia Maria Elvira’s house. My cousin Maria Ines had just flown in that day from West Virginia – so we had a mini Miro Quesada family reunion of sorts.

I had my first “Pollo a la Brasa” (Rotisserie Chicken) at Pardo’s – A Peruvian staple and the most amazing food ever. They just don’t make chicken or fries like that in the states…And I got to see my aunt Bibi and her beautiful babies, it was wonderful.

Now I am packing for CUSCO!!! ;-) I have to wake up super early to be at the airport for my 7:40 flight, so I should be sleeping, but I’m too excited! Stay tuned for hopefully amazing pictures and stories…



Whirlwind…

Whirlwind…
Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru


I departed LAX at 12:20 AM Pacific today – somehow got my luggage through security (Andrea – you are a fabulous accomplice!) and on the plane on time. The flight was pleasant enough – with an hour layover in San Salvador, and I arrived in Lima at approximately 11:30 AM Peru time. Apparently plane food quality has not only not improved in the 12 years since my last international flight – it is now only slightly above dog food, but hey, at least they made the effort. All I could think when I landed was “please God let my bags be here”…and thankfully they were. Customs was fairly uneventful – just a couple of questions about my hair dryer and whether or not I had swallowed any drug balloons (joke) so since that was all clear, I was ushered through and out to be received by my Tio Andres…so good to see him and so surreal to be back in Lima after 12 years. As I drove through Callao, I saw the Lima of old – but as we drove down La Costa Verde and into Miraflores – I started seeing signs of a much more modern and evolved city. Getting to Mamama’s house was also crazy – tons of emotions, especially after seeing Mario face to face for the first time in our lives. Instant connection ;-) My mind is a whirlwind of jetlag and emotions, so I think this will be it for today – can’t wait to share pictures and stories soon!



I LOVE NEW YORK!!

I finally made it to New York City!! It was everything I dreamed of and more…can’t even put into words. It’s New York baby!! I knew I would love it, but I think part of me was a little afraid – I am a Cali girl after all! :-)

But once I arrived there, I felt strangely right at home. I felt like I just fit right in – and felt totally…empowered. I spent a lot of the trip sightseeing on my own, and didn’t feel afraid whatsoever. I was especially impressed by my subway maneuvering skills…no sweat. Actually, I lie…lots of sweat – it’s frickin hot down there!

I think what I loved more than anything was that there are so many different kinds of people – from every walk of life, all sharing the same space. Not even San Francisco is as diverse…there are silos here that don’t exist in NYC. People and life in New York are so real…so raw. It’s awesome and so refreshing. The history and culture there were incredible. It felt like Deja Vu everytime I turned around – so many sights captured in scenes from movies – I felt like I had been there before!

5 days flew by – definitely not enough time, but still fabulous and more than I could have dreamed. I did very little “touristy” things, but prefer it that way. I was able to see all of the people I wanted to see – and I got to see a lot of different parts of the city – not just Manhattan. Here are some of my highlights:

1. Blockheads $3 Frozen Margaritas w/my man Daron in Hell’s Kitchen
2. Movin’ on up to the Upper East Side and reminiscing on old times w/ Krissi
3. Times Square and Grand Central Station
4. Pancas Peruvian Restaurant w/ Mr. Cugo in Greenwhich Village
5. Expertly navigating the Subway – and the incredible people watching to be had there ;-)
6. A night out in Fort Greene w/ D and Laurie
7. World Trade Center Site…unforgettable.
8. Stroll from the Financial District through SOHO, West Village, Greenwhich Village
9. Maracas Margaritas and catch up time w/ my girl Sonal
10. CENTRAL PARK Bike Carriage Tour
11. Dinner Party with D and her cool ass peeps in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
12. A bike ride tour of Brooklyn and Prospect Park
13. A glimpse at the Beautiful side of Queens with my man Christopher – and a bomb margarita! 14. Barely making my plane and getting a seat in FIRST CLASS. WHAT!!! ;-)

Like I said – not everything I wanted to do, but more than enough to make me fall in love… I have decided that I must live there at least once in my life – putting it out in the universe and very sincere about making it happen! Click Here to see my Pics!


My very own Blog…

I have no delusions of grandeur with this blog, or expectations that any one will read it. ;-) However – for those that do, I hope you will find it an interesting, often funny, and sometimes neurotic perspective on my own journey through this crazy little life.

This past year has been pretty full of self reflection, emotional and physical “work”. In the past couple of years I have worked with a therapist, a holistic nutritionist, a couple of personal trainers, and a life coach. At 28 – that either makes me sound super messed up, or super pro-active ;-) Needless to say I have had many wonderful advisors and wise souls to bounce ideas off of. There has also been a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth through my job, which has helped me build my confidence and discover my true passions. I am starting to figure out how I can use my gifts to be of service in a much deeper way. Perhaps what I am most grateful for are the amazing people I can call community…

The learning, healing and growth has all been wonderful, but lately I have felt a bit overwhelmed. It is a lot to take in, and a lot to constantly hold in the corner of your mind. I feel like I’m kinda missing the big picture – like I need some time to just sit with everything, absorb it, and try to make some sense of it all.

This blog was inspired out of a need to start capturing some of my thoughts, ideas, learning lessons, and support me as I work on achieving my goals. As a true 7 on the Enneagram – I tend to be fascinated by almost anything (seriously) so as soon as I say I want to do one thing, I get distracted and interested in 3 others…This blog will hopefully keep me accountable – to give me a place to record what I am committing to and why. To FOCUS on those key objectives and to track my progress, as I tend to lose motivation if I feel like results are not happening fast enough. It will be interesting to look back on my journey – to see what happens along the way to achieving my wildest dreams.

Yesterday I performed a saging/clearing ceremony in my apartment – never done that before, but felt like it definitely needed to be done. Ever since Stephanie mentioned that she felt a spirit in my place, I have been feeling pretty sketchy. After all the crazy stuff that happened during the Washington D.C. trip, I had an overall sense that there was something really funky going on with my energy field. I did my own little ritual, with some supplies I picked up at the local spiritual store, and finished it off with some personal affirmations and intentions, as well as a personal cleansing with some potion that was supposed to cleanse me of all negative spirits/energy. Hey, as long as you believe it works…Point is – that is another reason why I feel like this is a new beginning for me, I am starting fresh in more ways than one. I am no longer content with letting old negative patterns and self-limiting beliefs hold me back.

Today is a new day, and I commit to creating the life I have always dreamed of – and becoming the person I am destined to become. Here’s to living a vibrant, healthy, fun, passionate and CRAZY life!!


Claudia MirĂ³

A journey of blogging, traveling, and creative living.

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