Monday, May 28, 2012

Family Camp

I had a wonderful weekend working family camp with my mother. She had never been up to camp for more than a pick up or a drop off and it was really nice to be able to spend some more time with her in my second home in the States. We worked a lot of activities together and she quickly found her footing and made tons of friends. I am not surprised. I get my outgoing nature from her. Her family that she was assigned to also took her in and really enjoyed her company (and vice versa). My family was really nice too.

My favorite part of family camp was the weather and baby-sitting the little kiddies during one activity. It was sand castle building but I ended up just watching as they all happily played in the sand. One of the boys found my legs as a way to warm up from the cold water. He was also a talker. I loved it. :)

It has been so great being back at camp but I am definitely feeling the lack of sleep already. I forgot how little sleep we get. In reality if we go to bed at 12am and sleep right away we get 8 hours but it never really feels like enough. I am constantly on my feet here and I am constantly running around and planning or executing something so I am super tired at the end of the day. I have extra things I need to account for this summer too like being able to call my boyfriend and making sure I have everything set up for the following day with training.

Tonight we talked about what we are excited for and what we are nervous about. I said that I am excited to be in the role that I am this year as a facilitator and a peer that my co-staff looks up to. On the other hand I am also nervous about walking the line between leader and friend. I want to make sure they get the most out of training and that means I have to have some authority but I also want to be able to talk and make them feel comfortable enough to talk with me and open up. I also want all and any questions they have. The more the better. Seemingly stupid small questions before trips can go a long way!

I am off to bed so I can rock tomorrow!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome Back Parties

On Tuesday we had an open house and anyone who could stop by could do so. It was really fun to see people I hadn’t seen in a really long time, not just the time I had been away to Peru. My friend Matthew Hunter who I went to middle and high school with came through. He teaches music in Evanston and we chatted and caught up a bit. I also saw quite a few of my brothers/my friends and friends of my mother’s who know me. The highlight of my night was seeing my friend Chanel, Kait, and Amy. They brought delicious Avery beer and Bells! Yum!! They are planning their trip to Peru to see me get married and open a brewery! Haha!!
Yesterday morning my mother and I went to get a mani-pedi and massage at Sky Nails in north Evanston. It was a gift from my aunt to the both of us. My mother just had her birthday last Saturday. It was really fun and so relaxing. We even go the same color for our nails. How cute are we? 
Afterward, I met up with my girl Jess who I worked at camp with and at Uncle Dan’s in Evanston. She looks great and we caught up on her life and my life and camp. It felt so good to talk camp with someone who understands! I am looking forward to doing more of it once I get there tomorrow!
Last night we had a family dinner. 12 of my relatives came over and we had a nice time. I played with my second cousins Tia and Alexia. I let Tia take my camera and be photographer for a bit. Those pictures will be up soon on facebook. She is adorable!
 My mom made her famous heavenly layer cookies.

 My besties!! I love this photo. 

 Cousins and Aunt and Uncle

Playing with Tia!
I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I am super excited for the rest of my trip and I am going to live it up to the fullest. My friend Emily who lives in Peru and dates my bandmate told me that the best thing I could do in the States is enjoy the hell out of it while I am there because missing Peru doesn’t makes sense. I will be back no matter what so there is no point wasting time feeling blue about not being with my man when I know I will be back soon. She is right and while I can’t get rid of the missing Marco EVER, it is not so bad that I can’t enjoy myself and have a good time catching up with people and rockin camp. Thank goodness for the internet and for skype! They make is seems like people really aren't that far away.

Welcome Back to the Land of the Large and home of the Green!

Haha! The first thing I noticed when I got into Chicago was how green it is here. It smelled so good too, even right outside the airport! There is more space and there are so many TREES! I want to write a little bit about my actual trip on the planes.
On Saturday I boarded a plane to Lima from Cusco. It was the most difficult good-bye I have ever said even though I knew that I would be coming back. 7 weeks is not a short amount of time and it’s only going to feel longer for Marco since he is not changing his routine and going to a completely different country for that amount of time, nor is he getting to lead trips. I think about him constantly and thank goodness I have a cell phone now that takes pictures so I can quickly snap a photo and send it to him. Anyway, I was picked up by Marco’s cousin and we headed to her place for the day. I had a great time chatting with her and we ended up talking all morning until I had to leave to have lunch with Angela. It was really nice catching up with her. She seems to be really happy in Lima and she is settling in. She had just bought new furniture for her new place. Nothing like moving out of the parents house finally!
On Saturday I had an 11am flight with Spirit airlines. We left more or less on time and I read the entire Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook during my 5 and a half hour flight. I needed to brush up on my medical protocols for camp. I also had the luxury of having no one in the middle seat so I could spread out.
Florida was a trip and a half watching from the plane. Wetlands are awesome! We also flew through a bit of a thunderstorm. (The storms were even crazier from Florida to Chicago!) I got in and met Christy and Andy during our wait to go through US customs. They are studying PT (I think she graduated this year) and met last year and decided to go to Peru for an adventure.  How fun!
After re-checking my bag for my flight to Chicago I went up the stairs to find a Sbarro pizzeria! YES!! REAL PIZZA! Haha! It was so good and the slice was so enormous! The quantity of pop was insane as well. Gotta love giant portions in the US. I must admit that in Peru you get pretty large quantities of food too though. Anyway, I sabored the cheese and mushroom pizza and root beer.
I heard on the intercom that my flight had been delayed due to bad weather so I had two hours to pass in the airport. I wanted to call my mother so I politely asked a man in front of me sitting if I could use his cell phone. He was super friendly and said sure. We ended up chatting for a bit and he told me he was from Detroit and worked in the housing industry and just came to Florida to hang with a friend from high school and get a little sun. I didn’t blame him. We talked about Peru and the States and he told me that Detroit is the murder capitol of the United States. That’s crazy but unfortunately, I am not surprised. After the car industry tanked that city went down as well. It’s funny how people always ask me if Peru is safe and if I feel safe there because people always think of South American countries as being unsafe when they should just look in their backyard to cities in the States that are just as bad or worse! The States is not immune to anything and crime is one of those things.
I boarded the plane and who did I end up sitting next to but Christy and Andy from the customs line! We chatted for a while and we got yelled at by a girl in front of us for being too loud. Oops!
By the time we finally got in at midnight I was ready for my bed. I waited in a line for a taxi for 15 minutes and ended up home at 1:45am. I chatted with my mom for a bit and passed out. It felt so good to not be sitting in a plane. Thank goodness we Peru is in the same time zone and I didn’t have to deal with jetlag too!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cookies, Violin Graduation Recital and Packing

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of putting on my first Suzuki violin graduation recital with Suzanne. We had 10 students graduate in total with 7 from book 1, 1 from book 2, and 2 from book 3. Although I wasn't with my students from the very beginning, I definitely have a strong affection for them all and we also put in a lot of work together to finish the books. Suzanne and I made cookies for everyone too! I will put the recipe up here at some point.

Getting up in front of a lot of people and playing solos is NOT easy. I am super proud of all of the students for playing very well and not letting nerves get to them! I still get so nervous when I play in front of people. For some reason I never get nervous when it comes to singing but when it comes to playing my violin, I start shaking. It's super crazy and I admit that I am still working on my stage presence as an adult. I think part of the resolution is more practice so that it is so second nature to play the piece that I have no trouble. I am also working hard on my sight reading skills. I would eventually like to play in an orchestra when I am in Lima and wherever else I may end up living through out the next 5-10 years.

In other news, I leave for the States in 2 days (Lima tomorrow) and I am almost completely packed. Somehow, my bag is completely full even though I am not bringing that much with me. The duffel bag I have to bring back is definitely taking up a decent amount of space and I have a few books and gifts and things for people. Hopefully, I will be able to bring back some summer clothes. I only packed a few sun dresses, two shirts, a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans and then all my trip clothing. It's not too heavy though and that's the most important thing.

My Wednesday was jam packed including 2 hours of theory, 5 hours of lessons, band practice, meeting with parents and my replacement for June and then singing at Frogs. Thursday felt even crazier. We picked up Marco's mom from the airport nice and early and then I had to run some errands. I made lunch (caldo de gallina) for Marco and his mother and then I had 5 and a half hours of classes to teach. Thank goodness I got paid last night though! This morning Marco and I went to get a very decent amount of money changed. It will be nice to finally pay back my dad for my flight and still have some money to buy things I need from the States.

Here are some pictures of the concert! I am making a video with one song from each of the students. Hopefully I can get that up next week. :)


 Me and my student Lucia

 Sam graduated from book 1 and Rafael from book 3

                                                                Happy teachers!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


 So I decided last year that I was going to join a gym after I got back from the festival in Lima. It happened in March and I joined Pardo's Gym which is just a short 15 minute walk from my house. I decided to get the spinning membership and I am SO glad that I did. I love it! My morning has a routine now. I get up 3 to 4 times a week at 7:15am so that I can walk to an 8am spinning class. Today was my last class until I get back from my trip to the states so I thought I would share my spinning experience with the world.
 So what kind of bikes are there? Decent stationary bikes that are adjustable and quite comfortable. I found this lovely one that has a larger seat and it much more comfortable for my dairy aire. I had my mom send me bike shorts as well and my bike gloves. Those has helped immensely with the chafing and soreness. I am impressed by the women who spin daily and only use regular workout pants. Ooohf, my butt hurt so badly the first week!
 It's quite funny when I tell people that I take a spinning class in Cusco. So many of them are surprised to know that there are even gyms in Cusco. Come on!! Cusco isn't that rustic! It is the biggest tourist city in the country so it's not crazy that they have gyms. They have prices for foreigners that are more exspensive which is super stupid. Fortunately, Marco talked them down because when I joined we joined to together at a special rate, 60 soles for the couple. After he decided that it wasn't worth it for how many times he actually went, my price went up to 70 soles a month.
I am not complaining though. 70 soles a month is roughly $26 USD a month. That breaks down to $1.50 a class if I go 4 times a week. Not bad at all considering that a class at the Y costs around 15 bucks a class I imagine.

The best thing about spinning is how much I sweat. I cannot go to class without my towel because if I didn't have it I would drip all over everything. Haha! Seriously, it's a great workout and even though I need to mix in some yoga and other stuff sometimes to work out other parts of my body, I feel fantastic after I finish in the morning and it's only 9am. I am not a morning person but having a reason to get out of bed early and start the day has made me a much more productive, healthy, energized, and happy person. One person who is super happy about me working out more is Marco. He gets the benefits without the work! ;0)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Echo Reunion in Cusco

I had a fantastic week and it included meeting Ellen and Sarah. Ellen, who was a trip guide for Camp Echo in the 90s so graciously offered to bring me two bags of up to 70 pounds each on her frequent flyer miles with American Airlines in exchange for helping her out with what to pack and things about Cusco. I couldn't have been more grateful and happy to help if I had gotten bags or not. We were put in contact by Meredith who knew I was here and knew that Ellen and Sarah were coming to Cusco. Sarah also worked at Echo in the 90s and it turns out that our mothers work for the same real estate company in Evanston. Small world!

My mom sent me about 90 pounds worth of stuff in total including my entire Harry Potter hardbound collection. I now have a lot of books and more music and clothes. I am pretty sure all I have left to go through when I get home is summer clothes and a few knick knacks here and there before my life is completely transitioned to Peru. It was fun getting things like pumpkin pie mix and girl scout cookies too! I have shared the thin mints with other US friends here in Peru and all of them are so excited to have them. :)

So Ellen and I had a great time getting to know each other when she got here last Friday. We went out to dinner with her and Sarah on Saturday night with the entire group that was going on the Inca Trail trip. I accompanied them on their debrief meeting with their guides. It was the second one I have been to with a friend. The other was with Blake and her boyfriend in January (which I don't think I ever wrote about). I realized that I didn't need to put in my two cents, however, hard it was. I know how annoying it can be for someone who is trying to give an informative chat and there is someone right next to you giving comments about everything. I gave the group my experience and a few suggestions and let them take it how they wanted. Ellen later told me that I was brought up quite a few times especially on the train. I told them how I slept the whole way home and that they might be doing the same especially if they were going to do Huayna Picchu as well. They were feeling good because they had a fashion show and dance in their train and there was no way they were sleeping. Haha! I am glad they all had a good time.

I went to dinner with the group after they got back from the trail and enjoyed hearing stories and looking at pictures. I am so glad that Ellen and Sarah had a great time. I hope they have an awesome time in the jungle for the rest of their trip as well. I would've gone out dancing with them afterward but I was pooped and had lots of things to take back that I let them borrow for the trip.

It was super fun talking camp with Sarah and Ellen. They stopped going before I even started going to camp but we definitely have quite a few mutual camp friends. It was great hearing her stories about trips and I filled her in on craziness that happened during my time as a guide. She often referred to GTB when things would happen with the entire group. Anyone who has ever lead that trip would totally understand what it's like to try and herd a group of people who don't have a lot of experience in the outdoors. :) Nothing like having people around who have common experiences. It's something that I treasure here in Peru and I am sure I will only continue to treasure more as the years go on.

There will be a few pictures put up as soon as Ellen sends me them. I somehow managed to never have a camera on me when we were together. Oh well!! The pic will also be going to the Camp Echo Newsletter. :) Echo reunions around the world!