Hot Air Balloon Ride

I’ve always had this habit of either playing with my food or leaving bits of it on my plate—two things that drive my mom insane. I just can’t help it! What she doesn’t know is what happened to me once in third grade. I was playing with my food during lunch period (a questionable “burrito” from the school cafeteria and a Dr. Pepper), when the boy across from me, told on me to the lunch monitor. Like who are you and why did you even care? (I hate boys) The monitor came over, told me she was going to throw up and went on to say “proper, young ladies do not play with their food.” I’m really not sure where she got the word “proper” from. The next day, she made me sit apart from my class…alone…at a small desk…to eat my lunch…facing a brick wall…at the front of the cafeteria. It was harsh times.

Now, I play with my food a bit differently.

If you follow me on Instagram (at jyoti_patel), you’ll have seen this short video. The other two involve Skittles and Whoppers.

Insta-Whaaat / May & June Re-cap

I tend to forget that I have an Instagram account, which is weird because it’s my FAVORITE social media platform. To bring it more into the spotlight, I’m going to try and do a monthly re-cap. Since I’m quite a few months behind (I did a First Quarter Re-cap in May), I’ll do May and June this week, then July and August over the next two weeks.

May-June_Instagram Recap

Houston Skyline at Discovery Green, Leather Pants & Flowers, Chocolate Croissant at Common Bond Café, Homemade Masala Burgers, Craft Night – Painting Pots, Completed Jar of Nutella, Texas Pride, Morning Sunlight in My Bedroom, Hiking Down to Hamilton Pool in Austin, Floating the River in Austin, Strawberry-topped Pancakes for Father’s Day

You know you want to follow me: jyoti_patel !

Girls at the Gym


The other day, while I was at a yoga class, I realized that I have a few gym-related pet peeves, all centered around girls. Why is this? I’m all about #GIRLPOWER, but at the gym, I find some of them to be quite obnoxious. For example

1. A few months back, I built up the courage to venture to the front of a very popular Zumba class at my local gym. (By “front”, I mean 3rd row out of a 10 row class). Girls line up outside the door 30 minutes prior to class (yes, it really is that good), and then race in so that they can get to the front. Since I’m in the class before, I get to see this shit-show take place. It’s like a pack of hungry hyenas running to grab gazelle scraps. Most of them absolutely LOVE staring at themselves in the mirror and making pouty faces while dancing. From my usual place in the back, it’s quite entertaining. I never noticed the “social-gap” between the people in the front and those in the back until that day. It first started off with one girl yelling “Get out of my way! You’re in my spot!” to a new girl. Then continued to say that she couldn’t see herself in the mirror. (Ugh…if I was the mirror I wouldn’t want to see her). Poor new girl. Luckily, a nice girl allowed her to stand next to her in the front. To which the plastic huffed and puffed about, then turned around to ask us, “Did I do something wrong? Am I not right? AM I NOT RIGHT?!” Then I’m pretty sure she z-snapped us.

Also, before I knew it a group of much older women (who definitely come every week to release their inner-sexiness), somehow managed to dance their way into the teeny bit of space in front of me. How this happened, is beyond me. They even turned around and gave me dirty looks as if I had taken their assigned spot. Older women + their booties + death stares = I’m scared.

Not only that, I got yelled at a couple times by the girl behind me that said “You’re all up in my space. If you can’t keep up move to the back.” There was so much animosity the front, that I was eventually forced to the back and have never ventured up there again.


2. There’s a girl in my Pilates class that comes in late every week and goes straight to the front of the class, next to the instructor. Then proceeds to pull out her cell phone and starts texting, surfing the web, answering e-mails, making phone calls, Instagramming, etc.—all the way through class. To make this even better, while doing the exercise she limply raises her leg or arm, while holding and staring at her phone. After that one set of exercises is done, she puts her phone down and then starts doing the poses that WE JUST DID, on purpose. She totally knows that while the instructor is teaching the next pose, everyone will be staring at her in the front. Therefore, she takes advantage of this time to show everyone how “awesome” she thinks she is at Pilates. WHY ARE YOU HERE? No one likes you…trust me.

3. The girl who places her yoga mat either RIGHT in front or RIGHT next to mine, every single week, and then proceeds to breathe extremely loud throughout class. Its common courtesy, in any yoga class, that you stagger the mats and place them a good distance away from each other. Not plop your butt down where you feel like it. Come on now…I actually care about yoga. I want to make sure I’m doing the poses right and you’re ruining my hour of Zen by breathing like a dinosaur in my space. Go away.

4. Girls that cake their make-up on for the gym. Like CAKE IT on. This is completely beyond me. One, you’re here to work out, not to win the Southern Belle Beauty Pageant. Two, you barely even exercise because you’re scared if you sweat, your mascara will drip down your face and make you look like a crack-addict. What is the point? Just wipe it off.

5. The girls who constantly strike a pose, after each and every single routine in Zumba. This isn’t drill team, no one is a football cheerleader, and this isn’t soul train. One or two times, after a really good song – I get it. But thinking you’re a Pussycat Doll – it’s just weird.

However, I’d like to give props to the girls who come in every week, try their hardest and are there for good reasons. I’m with ya – I don’t like them girls either. Ok, end rant.

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Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Myriad Musings, Penniless Socialite, Style to Inspire, and Cappuccino and Fashion.

Double Trouble



It’s only my favorite thing to get when I make a bee-line to any Nestle Toll House café—2 large chocolate chip cookies…wait for it…wait for it…WITH a big dollop of icing/cream in the middle. Oh yes…oh hell yes. I’m a sucker for sugary, mall food. Sometimes if I’m being a good girl, I’ll get the Lil’ Bit o’ Trouble—a much tinier version of the Double Trouble. I figure if I get one in the beginning, by the time I’m finished walking around the mall, I would have burned off the calories from it. My logic is pretty amazing guys.





On to something that actually makes a bit more sense when it comes to the word “double”. Here I’ve taken the same two basic items—jean shorts and a stripe button-down shirt and shown how I’d wear them both casually and dressed up (or from day to night). Each outfit is comfortable and pretty darn easy to put together. All you need to amp up the day-time outfit is a blazer, heels and a statement necklace—that’s it. Let your hair down, add a red lip and you’re ready to go. I don’t think it can get any simpler than this.

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I really like the cut and material of the stripe top. Plus, it’s extremely versatile. I found it at H&M a little over a month ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it online so I could supply you guys with a link. I’ve talked about American Eagle shorts in this post, but the one’s here were also a great find. These are bit more snug than the other ones but I really liked the wash and you can roll them up and down. You can find them here.

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Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Myriad Musings, Penniless Socialite, Style to Inspire, Tres-Chic Fashion Thursday, Simply Just Lovely, For the Love of Fancy and Design Life Diaries.

Look at Dem’ Hot Pink Jeans


It’s that weird time of the year again—the summer/fall transition—it’s back to school, the fashion-world is “craving” darker, fall colors (Why?), Starbucks telling us their pumpkin-spice products are coming out early (I have no words.) and I’ve seen people bust out their tall boots (Are you kidding me?). Why is there always this rush into fall? I mean, who doesn’t love patio-seating, sweat rolling down their backs, snow-cones, mosquitoes and crazy-bright colors that make people’s eyes hurt? No one. Come on now guys…there’s no rush. No rush.




I for one, will not let this weird “OMG! I am SO ready for fall to be here!”-stuff get to me. This includes, rocking these blinding, hot pink pants until someone has to pry me out of them. Literally (they are kind of tight on me). So, I take a stand against maroon pants, boots and candy cane-peppermint mochas. (I’m just tough like that).

Also, for all you fall-time squash lovers that got excited when I said Starbucks is releasing their pumpkin spice line early…I’m not kidding, you can get it starting September 2. Happy Labor Day Weekend to you too!

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Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Myriad Musings, Penniless Socialite, & Style to Inspire

Change It Up?


Hay…haaay! I’ve been taking a break from blogging. Let’s say it’s more like “conscious unblogging” (I’d like to thank Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin for that witty play-on words).

A few months back, the blog turned 3. I wrote a post talking about how the blog was here to stay, that I was still going to write in it…blah blah blah. I guess I’m a hypocrite because a few weeks ago, I considered stopping…all together. I have to admit, I’m a bit lost right now as to what I want to accomplish with it/where I want it to go. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks re-evaluating our relationship. To be honest, I still haven’t quite figured it out. However, I have realized that I miss it—I like having one.

I don’t have anything concrete decided upon—What is the focus? Should I get rid of content? What else can I write about that I enjoy? and of course, Am I going to keep it? However, I have been making a few changes:

    • creating side bar icons to access style, DIY, make-up and photography posts
    • the My Style icon will now connect to an archives page with every outfit that I’ve worn and update automatically so that I don’t have to do it (woo hoo!)
    • editing the content of my About Me and Wondering? pages to reflect my personality a bit more (I hadn’t changed those in over 3 years)

I have a couple of ideas brewing in my head, but incorporating them means focusing less or not at all on other content in the blog. So we’ll see. Again, nothing concrete. Let’s just say, that for now, I need a place where I can relay my awesome wit, express my hate for Instagrammed cappuccinos with hearts drawn in them and poke fun of myself. Now that my semi-break up from blogging is on hold, let’s see if we can reconnect.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the lack of creativity in this outfit. I don’t have too many new outfit pictures right now (I will next week) so here’s one from earlier this summer. I mean, the hat kind of spices things up, doesn’t it?


 Blazer – Banana Republic, Hat and t-shirt – Target, Shorts – CR

Spanish Flower




I was going to title this post I Love Queso but after going through the photos I changed my mind. I’m thrilled at how they turned out and the last thing I want people to think is thick, gooey, melted cheese. However, I can’t lie – the only thing that does come to mind from them, is Mexican food. So let’s talk queso, shall we? I’m a fan. Like a HUGE fan. If I could live off of queso, guacamole and chips—my life would be made.

Can I make queso? My friends will tell you “no”. On the other hand, I will tell you, “yes”. I’m not going to lie to you guys though, I don’t know a secret recipe for some fantastic queso. I’m pretty simple – cubed Velveeta, milk and Rotel. It ain’t fancy but it does the job and does it well (especially when I don’t burn it). At restaurants there are times where I prefer to eat just queso and chips. Other times, not only will I ask for cheese enchiladas but I’ll also ask them to pour queso on top as my “sauce”. So disgusting…yet soooooo damn good. Add a dollop of guacamole and I’m in heaven. Thank god I’m not lactose intolerant.

I’ve tried queso at pretty much every restaurant I’ve been to that carries it. Here’s a list of my top favorites in Houston:

  1. Torchy’s Tacos
  2. Chuy’s (I actually dislike everything about this place, except their queso).
  3. Tony’s
  4. Barnaby’s Café (Theirs is made with white cheddar and it’s still just as good).




Now, let’s talk about these photos—they were taken by my two of my friends, Kristen and Rocio (of Ten & Ro). They helped me with my last post, Midnight in Paris, which was 1920s themed. For this one, we wanted more of a Spanish-influence and set out for a couple of areas in the East End of Houston, which I think fit perfectly with the theme we were going for. Kristen made the amazing floral head-piece and Rocio just happened to have the perfect props for the shoot. We wanted it to be fun and extremely colorful. So I opted to wear this skirt I made awhile back and the pom-pom shoes featured in a DIY last year. While I do love this outfit, it’s definitely something more-so for photography purposes. Not sure if I would wear the whole she-bang out anywhere. I have paired the skirt with a simple white t-shirt and heels, to wear in real-life.




These two definitely go the extra-mile in any photo shoot that they do—from bringing the props, making you feel comfortable and to their editing. I had so much fun doing this one—I loved the colors, theme and really tried to bring my “cha-cha A game” for them (though, I failed miserably)! Thanks guys for letting me be a part of this!





Outfit details: Top – Charlotte Russe, Skirt – DIY, Pom-pom heels – DIY (tutorial here), Bracelets and Necklace – H&M (old), Silver/nude wedge heels – Chinese Laundry (via DSW), Lipstick – MAC Viva Glam I

Linked up on: Myriad Musings, I Would So Rock This, Penniless Socialite

Travel // Peru – Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes



Ollantaytambo - Pano_2








Day 6 (Ollantaytambo)

This morning we stalked Sergio, the owner of Hotel El Albergue, which is located inside the train station of Ollanta. Knowing we had a pretty rough couple of days (and also knowing we refused to leave without a room), Sergio managed to get us a gorgeous room with huge, white-linen beds, a stone sink, hardwood floors, gorgeous views of the gardens and a bit of peace. Today turned out to be hot and beautiful, so after freshening up, we decided to do some hiking through the free Incan ruins on the north-east side of town. These are not the same as the more popular Ollantaytambo Ruins (located on the north-west side that you pay for). The hike up in certain parts was steep but completely worth it once you got to the top. You get an amazing panoramic view of the entire town plus the ruins on the other side. I seriously could have just plopped down and done yoga for a bit, it was that peaceful. It was so much fun just going through them and I was definitely a bit bummed when it was time to come down. We ended up hitting the sack early today since we had to wake up at 6 a.m. to catch the first Inca Rail train to Machu Picchu; luckily the platform was right outside our hotel. (No, it was not Platform 9 ¾).







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AGUAS CALIENTES (town at the base of Machu Picchu)









Day 7 (Machu Picchu)

I can’t even begin to describe this place. Everything we went through to get here (stomach bug, bad hostels, no food, a “situation” with Jenny’s entrance ticket, a rock slide, bus after bus, walking up slippery rock steps)—all completely worth it. It’s amazing and as much as I hate to sound cliché, pictures do not do this place justice. Unfortunately, after the situation with Jenny’s entrance ticket, we didn’t have enough money to hire a tour guide to explain the history of it, so we had to venture out on our own. It’s definitely a place that can take all day – there are so many hiking trails, areas and ruins you can climb through—that I don’t even know where the time went. Jenny and I explored each section of the ruins—Guardhouse, Temples Zone, Astronomical Observatory, Group of the Three Doorways, Royal Enclosures, Temple of the Condor and the Agricultural Zone (where the llamas hang out), just to name a few. We also took the Inka Trail that led us through a forest-like area and onto a trail behind the mountain. We eventually came to the edge where it was blockade off and learned that this is where the Incas would come to in times of war to block their enemies. We ended up taking MP-selfies, watching Asian tourists hold up their infamous peace signs, sitting, relaxing, chatting with a friend we had made at the hostel a couple of days ago and I got to feed a llama (!) Again, like the ruins in Ollanta it is so peaceful up in the mountains. The weather cooperated with us and towards the end an insanely-awesome fog took over the mountains and ruins later. It had a ghostly, eerie feel to it but added a really surreal effect to the entire area. If it wasn’t against governmental regulations—I could have stayed up there.

Unfortunately, the park does close early so we took an evening bus back down to Aguas Calientes (base of the mountain). This is a very small town which really only takes a couple of hours to explore. I don’t recommend staying here unless you’re going to be the first group of people to climb Wayna Picchu since you have to get in line at the MP entrance around 4 a.m. We ate a “margherita” pizza at a restaurant sitting on top of the Urubamba River, walked through the local markets and a few side streets before deciding we were pooped. On our way to the train station we heard a commotion and then dogs barking, we turned around only to find a large group of wild dogs headed…yup…straight to us. While I find dogs to be super cute, this was not one of those times – Jenny and I started to frantically run and ironically ran into the same restaurant that the dog the other dogs were chasing lived at. Luckily amongst the barking and screaming (Jenny and I) the owner came out with a broom and saved us (but I think she was really saving her own dog). We immediately boarded the train, enjoyed some in-cart entertainment through a Peruvian fashion show put on by the staff of the train (I wonder if they put that in the job description) and made our way back to Ollanta.







Day 8 (Back to Cusco)

After bidding our lovely friend Sergio good-bye, Jenny and I loaded up another taxi and headed out of Ollantaytambo and back to Cusco. Here we ended up ditching the hostel that we had first booked and got another one right in the Plaza de Armas with a Starbucks in it. You can only imagine that by this time we were exhausted. Since Jenny didn’t get to see Cusco the first time we were there, we spent most of the day walking around, indulging in McDonalds, visiting a cathedral and tried to do a bit of shopping. In Aguas Calientes, Jenny and I had seen two girls wearing hand-made headbands with llamas embroidered on them. We decided that’s what we wanted as one of our Peruvian keepsakes, so we went in search of it. After what seemed like hours, we couldn’t find them anywhere and then while we were on the last leg of the shopping markets – there they were – only three of them. In the evening we put on our new headbands and decided to explore Cusco nightlife.

In Ollanta, we happened to have sat next down to an Australian-based wine importer (who decided to take one of those “I need to find myself…let me backpack through South America”-spiritual journeys), that the bars and clubs in Cusco were awesome. That he had never had such a great time in his life and partied till all sorts of hours in the morning. Being the party-animals that we are, Jenny and I were fascinated. The first bar we headed to had a live band. Thinking that this was going to be some great salsa-dancing music, I had my Zumba moves ready. No…no…no. They turned out to be an awesome English-singing rock band. Who knew South Americans loved old rock music so much? Seriously, everyone in that club knew every word to every song. It was quite fascinating. Then we headed to a techno-playing bar which was full of 17 – 18 year old…GUYS (it was like a 10:1 guy/girl ratio). Awkward. We didn’t stay long. The night ended with us crawling back to our beds for our super early flight to Lima the next day.

Day 9 (Back to Lima)

As soon as I sat down in my plane seat, the guy next to me started talking to me. Now I already knew this was going to be odd because no one…I mean NO ONE ever talks to me on a plane. Turns out he was still super drunk from night before (go figure) and in my mind he will always be known as the “Drunk Polish Guy”. We bonded over his love for India (he’s been at least 7 times), a mutual hatred for flying (he kept telling me he hoped we wouldn’t crash) and his month-long trip through South America. Every time I made a joke, he’d push me and yell “You’re so fuuuuucking funny.” The mom with the baby in the aisle across from us, was not thrilled. As scraggly and weird as he was, he turned out to be a ridiculously smart computer programmer, based in Poland. I swear, it’s always the ones that look stupid that are not. When the plane landed, he asked if we could be friends on Facebook. I said no. But then he said “Well, I’m glad we didn’t die.” To which I responded “Yes, I am too.” We quickly parted ways.

Since we only had a few hours in Lima, I headed to the Museo de Arte in some sketchy part of the city while Jenny did some work. The museum was closed for renovation so I only got to see two extremely “interesting” exhibitions—both depicting various stages and demonstrations in Peruvian history through sexual acts. So yeah…that was that. Before heading to the airport, Jenny and I did some last-minute shopping in the Inca Market (which I think is the best place to shop in Lima), picked up our luggage from a hostel and finally made our way through the busy, winding streets of Lima to the airport. Peru was done.


Hope you guys have enjoyed my Peruvian travel adventures! If you need tips or recommendations for traveling to Peru, where to eat, what to do, how to get around, etc. – please feel free to contact me! I learned a ton planning this and can definitely help.

For more of my travel photos, click here: Capture It.


Taco Bell to the Rescue



If you look really closely—I have about 20 mosquito bites on my left leg. I locked myself out of my apartment for 4 hours this past Saturday. I waited in the heat—no phone, no money, with only a pair of super short night-time boxers with hearts on, a t-shirt (no bra) and a broom. The broom because I went to sweep the front patio and the self-locking door took over. However, I kept myself busy by sweeping, reading old magazines my roommate had thrown in our recycling bin, clearing up the patio, watering some dead plants, discovering a plate of slugs (ew) and taking a walk through the neighborhood. I had every intention of familiarizing myself with my new surroundings and I figured this was the perfect opportunity. (Even though, I got quite a few “she’s doing the walk of shame” stares). So not as unproductive as you would think and I’m sure my neighbors all “love” the weirdo living next door.




I’d also like to thank Taco Bell for not only creating those awesome Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos but for also employing a great person who helped me track down my roommate, gave me a glass of water, let me use the restroom and told me “It’s OK sweetie, we ALL do stupid things”. Again, Taco Bell saves the day.

I hauled a large portion of my collection of shorts to my new place since it’s definitely spring/summer down here. These from American Eagle happen to be one of my favorite pairs since they are so versatile. I can roll them up or down (depending on how slutty I feel like being that day), wear them to the beach or out to drinks, just like this. Plus, they are a bit loose fitting, so they don’t hike up my butt when I walk (as A LOT of jean shorts do these days) and are just plain comfortable. Here’s a link to a similar pair: AE Boyfriend Short, in case you’re interested.

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Travel // Peru – Lima & Cusco


I had every intention of creating a Peru Travel Diaries piece like I did last year with my Spain and Morocco trip. Then February went by, March crept up on me and April just vanished, like that. The last few months have been a bit hectic for me—moving, turning 31, becoming a first-time owner of real-live plants (!)—so I never got around to compiling my experiences into blog posts. Since I really want to share some of my travels with you guys, I decided to go ahead and split Peru up into just two posts. I’ve curated a selection of pictures and will give you a brief synopsis of my day there based on my log.

Day 1 (on the plane)

While it’s still soaking in that one of my best friend’s (Jenny) and I are actually going to South America, I can’t help but feel pretty darn proud of myself for jumping at the opportunity to take a trip without mulling over it for days (or even months).

This happens to be the first trip I planned as far as where we are going to stay, places to eat, how to get around, what kind of transportation to take, what to do, etc. I’m excited but a bit nervous since it really is something new for me and neither one of us has ever been to South America. Throwing this together in 3 weeks was hectic but let me tell ya…the hardest thing was trying to figure out whether or not to buy hiking boots. (I did buy them and promptly traded out the ugly brown shoelaces for red ones. Would you have expected anything else from me?) Also, I think I may have found the cure to my pre-plane travel anxiety. Wine. Good wine.









Day 2 (Lima)

Since we were going to be in Lima for the next couple of days, I wanted to familiarize myself with the area. Grabbing a map, directions from the concierge, my trusty Lonely Planet travel guide and our awesome instincts, Jenny and I set out to see what Lima was all about. We walked up and down Avenida José Larco (one of the main streets) and ventured into local coffee shops, stores and visited Parque Kennedy (which happens to be filled with cats). We ate at a local sandwich shop and discovered this amazing spicy sauce/salsa. Seriously, they need to “Sriracha” that stuff and sell it by the bottle—it’s really that good. Then we headed towards the beach to meet some friends and ended up at Larcomar. Which is a huge, modern shopping center sitting on top of the cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The view from up there is fantastic, especially during sunset. After taking what seemed like a million super touristy pictures, we headed to Pescados Capitales for ceviche. This was my first time having it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who travels to Peru. It tastes so fresh and the seasoning/juices they put on it…yeah…you’ll not find that anywhere else.

Day 3 (Lima)

Today we ventured to a couple districts surrounding downtown Lima. We first made our way to the Inca Market in Miraflores. It’s quite similar to the souks in Morocco but MUCH tamer. No one is hounding you to buy anything or yelling out “India! India!” to you. Then we taxied our way to Centro Histórico (historical center). It was packed with people and unfortunately we didn’t get to go to some of the sites and buildings listed in the guide. However, we got to walk around and it was quite interesting to see the similarities in architecture between Lima and Spain. The colors, detailing and structure of the buildings reminded me a lot of the Gothic District and Gaudi creations in Barcelona. I also got to eat churros and all of the caramel from one squirted out on to my clothes. Cool points for me. According to LP there is an awesome sandwich shop called El Chinito nearby so we went try it out. They first make a sweet potato patty, add a spicy onion-sauce mix and pile on whatever meat you want. Out of the few bites that I had, all I can say is that it was pretty damn good. I highly recommend it. We then zipped out of that area and into the Barranco district (which is about 25 minutes South of Miraflores). Here we ate burgers, had ginger ale pisco sours and drank Lima-brewed beer at the Barranco Beer Brewery. Since we hadn’t had enough to drink or eat, we went to another cool bar called Ayahuasca and ate Chiffa (Peruvian-Chinese food). Yeah, the food was not as awesome as Jenny and I thought it was going to be. Plus, it gave us a hell of time for the remainder of our trip (if you know what I mean). To end the night, we took some altitude sickness meds for our trip to Cusco the next day. We live on the edge.










Day 4 (Cusco)

Today we arrived in Cusco. As soon as we got to our hotel (which turned out to be more igloo-looking rather than tropical, garden-chic as described online), I decided to take a shower. Turns out a huge ass spider wanted to just hang there from the ceiling while I did this. It was quite an uncomfortable situation—me…no clothes on…dripping wet…a spider…one cramped shower – you know how it goes. Unfortunately, Jenny got food poisoning earlier in the day so she wasn’t able to explore with me. Cusco is an adorable, charming city with quite a European-esque feel to it. I walked around Plaza de Armas and some surrounding streets, soaking in the heat and realizing that I was getting more and more tired by the minute; so I decided to visit the Choco Museo. Where I not only tasted and learned about the history of the cocoa bean but I also found out that there is no limit to what you can do with it (i.e. turning it into chocolate deodorant or even chocolate condoms…go Peru!) While I was here, I decided to rest and sip on some chocolate caliente (hot chocolate). Now this is where Starbucks needs to step up its game. Instead of serving it to you prepared in a mug, you make it yourself. They give you a small bowl of cinnamon, another of cardamom, a small pot of steaming hot milk and a huge dollop of thick, gooey, sweet chocolate. Yeah, I chunked the entire thing of chocolate into the mug, poured in the milk and downed it—all while sitting on the balcony overlooking the Plaza Regocijo.

Then it hit me. The sickness (and the reason behind all the tiredness). I spent the rest of the day confined to a bed next to Jenny’s. If it wasn’t for wi-fi and “Friends” on Netflix, Jenny and I would have only had each other (eh), Powerade, Imodium and a toilet.

Cusco to Ollantaytambo



Day 5 (Cusco to Ollantaytambo)

Somehow, we got our sickly selves up so we could head out to a small town, Ollantaytambo, which would give us easy access to Machu Picchu. While checking-out of our hostel in Cusco, we met Keri. If you guys want to know someone with serious baller status…she’s it. She happened to see us struggling with the front desk (mainly because our Spanish sucks) and came to save the day. She got us a taxi to Ollanta, had our luggage locked up so that we could venture out into Cusco and check out the Plaza de Armas, gave us some tips on how to cure our stomach bug (turns out she is a nurse), and told us where we could get meds + food. Then we found out that she used to actually live in Ollanta, owned a restaurant and started an NGO there. She drew out a map for us and told us to check out her restaurant, which she recently sold.  Basically, she’s our hero.

The scenery from Cusco to Ollanta is a site. I could not stop staring and our driver was kind of enough to give us information about the history of the area. He even stopped at another small town, Urubamba, and took some pictures of us. As soon as we arrived in Ollanta we headed to Keri’s ex-restaurant, La Esquina. Ricart, the new owner, turned out to be an insanely awesome guy who took really good care of us. I guess that’s why we ended up eating there like 2 or 3 more times before we even left Ollanta.

Then we went off to search for our hostel. After 20 minutes of winding turns and dragging Jenny’s “India suitcase” across 10 minutes of cobblestone, we got to Casa de Wow. Yeah…not so “wow”. I don’t know if it was the sickness, if it was the rain or what…but the second I stepped in, I wanted to leave. The room was cramped, had wooden bunk beds, hard mattresses, we did not have the private bathroom I had asked for, there were bugs and ants all over the walls and in the beds. Jenny called it “glamp-ing”, I called it “hell no”. Plus, the owner who is American had gone back home to Georgia for a bit and her husband did not speak English at all. I was quite disappointed in the place considering it is listed as one of the top hostels to stay at both on AirBNB and in the Lonely Planet guide. Jenny and I tried to nap, but eventually we got up to check out the town. It started raining (the weather in Peru is very unpredictable) so we ended up back at La Esquina. Ricart made us camomille tea to help ease our stomachs (coca tea tastes horrible and did nothing for us) and gave us some chocolate chip cookies for the trek back. After what seemed like hours, neither one of us really wanting to go, we dragged ourselves back to the casa, in the rain and cold. The next day we moved out.


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