My one real week in London

This is the third post about London, and I haven’t even mentioned the actual place we were living, which had very mixed reviews. The Collective is a dorm-style building made for young professionals. The rooms are minimalist, but provide everything you need. I’ve heard comparisons between the rooms to cruise ship rooms, and while I’ve never been on a cruise, I sort of see what they mean.

2016-07-29-17-30-50-hdrAll of the rooms were identical with a twin bed that basically formed a little nook where I spent many a morning hibernating. There was one small, oddly shaped closet, and then a small bathroom with an even smaller shower. I mean, I had issues just trying to pick up the shampoo on the floor. I can only imagine how some of the larger people dealt with it.

The real perks of The Collective weren’t the rooms, though. Each of the 13 floors had a unique community room and kitchen, creating an environment like a massive house rather than a big apartment building. One floor had a spa, one had a tea room, one was a library (my personal favorite) and so on. On the bottom floor there was a restaurant and patio I ate probably every other day if not every day I was in London. All in all, the building was pretty cool. The problem was that it was about 45 minutes to get just about anywhere in the city. Basically we all got very good at using the public transportation or just stayed around The Collective.

2016-07-26-00-51-04One of the things that did entice me to leave my cozy nook were the shows we had access to in London. I finally had the opportunity to go see Wicked and Book of Mormon, both of which were fantastic. I was a little surprised by how much of a bimbo they make Glinda out to be, and by how insanely offensive Book of Mormon was (ex: the AIDs song), but hey, that’s what makes them great. Both nights were accompanied by a lot of rose, obviously.

The Collective also about an hour away from the Olympic Park. The last Sunday we were there I was in need of some quality alone time, so I ventured over there to see what it was all about. When I got there I was in awe of how beautiful the facility was and all of the parks in the area. I immediately purchased a new suit and spent the next few hours unwinding doing laps in the Olympic 50m pool. Despite the hike to get there, I went back a few more times before our time in London was up.

2016-07-28-18-52-58Quickly, the end of the month was encroaching, which meant it was time for the closing festivities. This ended up being one of my favorites nights in London without a doubt. The party crew (Lindsay, Lev, Brecht and myself) went out for date night to Burger & Lobster where Brecht had his second lobster ever, and I got to have the best lobster roll of my life, all accompanied by champagne and fish bowl cocktails. After that, we hustled to the harbor to jump on the party boat Remote Year had rented for our closing party. I think for about half of the party I just sat downstairs with my head out the window admiring the beautiful city and all the lights.

2016-07-29-15-37-04With one day left, there were three things left we had to do. One was go to high tea, another was take a phone booth picture and the other was to ride The Eye. A few of us got dolled up and dragged ourselves to tea despite our incredible hangovers, making a pit stop at a phone booth for the necessary photo shoot. If you ever go to tea, go hungry. When they say unlimited sandwiches, they mean it. And they’re actually pretty delicious.

After that, a few of us proceeded to drink our way over to The Eye to meet the rest of the Remote Year group who was joining. Right as we were getting on, it started sprinkling, adding a calming mood to our last night.

The calm didn’t last long, as when we arrived back at The Collective, it seemed everyone was in a frenzy of packing and partying. With a 5:00 am wakeup call, we decided to spend the time drinking and playing ping pong as oppose  d to sleeping. There’s always time for sleep later, right? Next stop: Prague.

With love, Paige

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Birthdays, Belgium & Bottles

2016-07-16-12-13-10After the spontaneous adventure our first weekend, it was time to buckle down and start planning the RY Birthday Duo for Shawn and myself that would take place that Thursday, July 14th. We researched a few different spots and ended up deciding on Archer Street, a venue I’d never been to, but seemed cool online so we went with it.

On my actual birthday, I got up, went for a run, came back and honestly felt pretty disconnected from all my loved ones back home. I’m a huge family person, so not being with them was a really hard pill to swallow. Nonetheless, I went for a birthday lunch with some of my closest friends at the time, which naturally included some rose.

Later that day I was finally able to get ready in my entirely new outfit I had purchased the day before, including my first pair of heels all of Remote Year, and then head off to the bar. New clothes on Remote Year are a big deal. Everyone notices, you get that close. Slowly, what had started as a relatively low day ended up turning into one of my favorite nights on Remote Year. The venue was perfect, everyone was there and it seemed like everyone had a great time. When I went home that night, I felt a sense of complete gratitude for this year, this opportunity and the wonderful people who had come into my life.

2016-07-16-14-31-07-2What I did not feel gratitude for was my seven am wakeup call the next day to jump on a train to Belgium where one of our Remotes, Brecht, was from. He had planned an entire weekend trip for about 16 Remotes, including tours of the city, a tour of the Stella Factory and a big BBQ with his family and friends. While we made a stop in Brussels the last day, we spent most of the weekend in Leuven, his home town. Imagine cobblestone streets, cute bars and restaurants, lots of beautiful people and a nightlife that never stops. If nothing else, we all had a little bit better idea as to why Brecht parties the way he does.

I also never realized that mussels and fries were such a staple in Belgium. Also, Belgian waffles are no joke. Especially when they come with chocolate sauce and ice cream.

2016-07-20-13-11-31To say the four days there was a whirlwind is an understatement, but, our adventure wasn’t over yet. One of the other Remotes, Matt, and I were off to Venice to meet up with Kirsten for a few days of pizza and wine. To be entirely honest, Venice is pretty underwhelming unless you have lots of money or a hubby there with you. But, we did the gondola ride, ate the pizza, roamed the streets and spent the last day at the infinity pool at the JW Marriott located on one of the islands. Not a bad way to end a week-long excursion.

We had a sunset dinner and a few bottles of wine to close out our last night. When Friday morning finally rolled around, we were all happy to be heading back to our little nooks in London Town to live up our last week. It definitely did not disappoint.

With love, Paige

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The #almostthreepeaks challenge

2016-07-10-12-11-05-1July was possibly one of the craziest months on Remote Year so far. We were based in London after our initial plan to be in Istanbul was changed early on in the program. For most of us, this wasn’t entirely a welcomed change.

After spending four months completely out of our element in Spanish-speaking countries, we
were going to be in London, one of the most Americanized cities in Europe, in my opinion. Due to this, lots of people went home or took side trips, which meant there were always people coming and going. My month was no exception.

2016-07-09-20-48-12-2After my short trip back to Maine, I arrived in London reinvigorated and ready to explore. I ended up joining last minute on a trip that would come to be known as the #almostthreepeaks challenge. The actual three peaks challenge is to hike the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland in 24 hours. No easy feat, but hey, gotta love those rose-colored glasses.

The first bump in the road was when it took us about four hours just to get to the airport and rent the car. I believe we took somewhere between 5-6 trains and buses before finally getting to our destination. From there, we had another six-hour drive to Wales, our first stop. When we woke up the next day, it was pouring rain with no end in sight. We’d made it this far though and we were going to hike the mountain, rain or not.

2016-07-10-11-25-41After four hours, the six of us were completely drenched and frozen to the core. We immediately huddled back in our van and found the closest restaurant to warm up and reassess our weekend goals. Initially, we had intended to continue on and hike a second mountain that day, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. At this point, the only dry clothes the boys had to wear were ours.

We decided to opt out of the mountain in Scotland and continue onto England to hike the third mountain the following day. We found a cozy hostel next to the water after lots of calls to different places along our route. After an amazing Indian dinner, we went to bed early to prepare for another early start and long day. While it wasn’t raining when we woke up, the wind and fog was beyond anything I had ever seen.

2016-07-09-17-48-40To provide some additional motivation as we trekked up mountain number three, there was actually a marathon happening on the same path we were hiking. So, a few of us dug down and found some energy to ran down the mountain, splashing through the puddles and trying not to tumble the whole way down. While there may have been times I thought I was going to collapse or be blown straight off the mountain, the whole experience was wildly exhilarating.

At the end of the day, we ended up only hiking 1.5 of the three mountains, but it was an adventure nonetheless. We celebrated our relative success with wine and pizza in the van all the way back to London.

With love, Paige

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A welcomed homecoming

When I joined Remote Year, I never had any intention of going home during our year adventure. I got to globe trot and roam around the world for a year, why would I want a break from that?!

2016-07-02-14-33-06-2As we came to the end of our fourth month, though, I could feel myself getting a little too wrapped up in the craziness of the travel, side trips, new friends and trying to balance all of that with my work at Hopscratch.

So, when I found out that my brother would be visiting my dad back in Maine, my home state, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to take a break and reset.

My travel home, which included five different legs, proved I was in dire need for some rest and relaxation. I managed to sleep through my three flights, one bus ride and one drive home, totaling about 24 hours of travel/complete dead sleep.

Side note: avoid going through Florida when you come back into the country. It took me almost three hours to go through customs and then check back in for my flight to Boston.

I could have cried when I finally got home. There are no words to explain the happiness of seeing my family and laying in my own bed. Normally, I sleep about six to eight hours a night. Almost every night I was home, I slept 12 hours and still had to drag myself out of bed.

2016-07-02-15-55-21The week I was home was also Fourth of July, which meant extra celebrations and quality time. We roamed down to the Old Port where I got to see more family and then to the lake for a little holiday fiesta.

My advice? If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, especially with a group as large as our Cousteau Remote Year family, take time to reset and be by yourself.

It’s so incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the go, go, go lifestyle and lose touch with what’s most important to you. Going home gave me some time to reflect on why I decided to go on this adventure and reminded me to make sure, despite being pulled in so many directions, I stay true to myself.

Oh, I also got to eat all the lobster, which is clearly the most important part of this whole post.

With love, Paige

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The story of nine Remotes, five days, 75 km and a lifetime supply of Snickers

The majority of the tourists who came through Cusco were only there for about a week. This is just enough time to land, stay a night or two, then head off to trek to Machu Picchu, come back, and take off for their next destination. Traditionally, people tend to do the Inca Trail, the original trail hiked to Machu Picchu.

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The Inca Trail tends to be incredibly crowded and a bit more expensive, so a few of us started discussing doing another trail called the Salkantay Trail. We had heard it was longer, harder, less crowded, less expensive and more spiritual. For the adventure type like myself, that sounded like a pretty good deal. So, I ended up organizing three Remote Year groups who would leave on consecutive days to trek the 75 km to beautiful Machu Picchu.

My group, which consisted of eight other Remotes and myself, started on June 16th, 2016, and we reached Machu Picchu on Monday, June 20th. Here’s a look at my experience over those five days.

Day 1: Our first day we were picked up bright and early from our houses, mine at the time was R House. We drove a few hours  to the starting point in Challacancha and then completed a short three to four hike from there to Soraypampa, our camping ground for the first night. Once we arrived at camp, we hiked to a lake at the top of the mountain, which a few of our boys actually jumped into despite the freezing temperatures. The highlight of the first night was definitely the glass-roofed igloos we slept in out in the middle of nowhere. We could see all the stars covering the sky while we dozed off in bed. Our boys also made a bonfire where we congregated a bit before we all crawled into our igloos to rest up for Day 2.

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Day 2: We were told this would be the hardest day. Looking back now, I definitely don’t agree. But, that’s not to say it was any stroll in the park. The first half of the day was basically straight uphill with the highest elevation hitting 4,650 meters. That’s no joke, especially since we hiked 22 km that day. We took quite a few snack breaks and eventually made it up to the top where we had a small ceremony to give our thanks to Pachamama, the earth goddess. After we poured out one for Pachamama, we took a ceremonial swig of some rough alcohol, made a small cairn of rocks we gathered along the hike and then continued on. After this, it was mostly downhill, which was definitely little rough on the knees. Eventually, we all made it down to the first lunch stop. We ate some delicious food, took a quick nap and continued on. At this point, we were moving into more jungle landscapes, which meant more bugs and humidity. JP, Eric and I took up the lead and got to camp first where we promptly purchased some wine, beer and snacks. That night our group joined the rest of camp to watch one of the soccer playoff games and then crash out in our tents with a nice little buzz to fend off the cold.

original_url: 51FB1A92-4BB0-4C64-B5F2-7123D43E0EF9Day 3: We had another early wakeup call to prepare for the full day ahead of us. We actually had a cake for breakfast, which was fun surprise. After breakfast, our tour guide Freddy told the group to “follow guide Paige,” and then wasn’t seen until our lunch stop. Despite the lack of guidance, our group powered ahead and successfully found our way. This was my favorite day, personally. Once we found the actual trail, it was basically a rolling path along the side of a mountain with small waterfalls leading down to the river that flowed alongside us. JP, Eric and I again took up the lead and ran a good portion of the day. During one of our stops, we got to hangout with a very friendly and hungry donkey, which was incredibly entertaining. We found out firsthand that giving a donkey an apple will quickly cause a rain storm of apple juice, so that was fun. Along the path some of the guys also found strawberries, passion fruits, avocados and bananas that we were snacking on along the way. After a long morning, we finally came to our lunch spot where we kicked off our shoes and enjoyed some delicious food by our local chefs. Lunch also included beer since our hiking was done for the day and we were heading off to spend the afternoon at the local hot springs. We relaxed in the springs and then headed back to camp for a boozy dinner, an awkward interaction with our tour guide and an early night to bed.

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Day 4: It could have been the alcohol the night before, or maybe it was the humidity, but Day 4 was by far my least favorite day of the trek. The morning we hiked what seemed like straight uphill through coffee plantations. Every time we hit what I thought was a downhill reprieve, it was just the mountain teasing us. Finally, after lots of moments close to tears, we hit the top of the mountain where we could see the waterfall in the distance that marked our lunch stopping point. The lovely part of going straight uphill for hours is that eventually you’ll have to come straight back down. And I’m not talking gentle rolling downhills. This was like straight downhill; use your poles of you were going to fall on your face sort of downhills. Nonetheless, we finally made it to the lunch spot where we all sat sullenly eating our lunch. Thankfully, we had a quick nap break in some hammocks outside of the restaurant before continuing on. The afternoon portion of the trek ended up being my least favorite part of the entire five days. We spent the four hours walking on a rocky path along train tracks all the way to our next stopping point in Aguas Calientes. There was really no change of scenery and all of us were in some sort of pain. About halfway through, I started carrying my backpack by my side because my back was in so much pain, another one of our guys kept having to run to the bathroom because of stomach problems, another one was limping due to the massive blisters he had developed from the three previous days; you get the idea, we were a hot mess. Finally, FINALLY, we made it to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. We all immediately broke off and went to grab drinks, went to the hotel or just roamed around before we had a big group dinner later that night. We were told we’d have a three or four o’clock in the morning wake up call, so the majority of us called it an early night and passed out.

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Day 5: Our handicapped group decided to bus the trek up and down from Machu Picchu. We got to the top of the mountain right as it opened. Our guide, who had mostly stayed away from us due to some unfortunate interactions, gave us a rapid-fire 30-minute tour around the grounds and then said he had to take off to make his bus home. So, there we were, with a noon reservation to hike Huayna Picchu, the mountain in the back of the iconic Machu Picchu photos, and about five hours to kill. As most of us were sick of each other by this point, we broke off into groups and roamed around looking at all the amazing passageways, structures and buildings in the city. For a while, we just watched the clouds roll in and out of the valley. With every few minutes, the entire view would change. Finally, it was time for us to hike up to the precipice. Imagine the most insufferable set of tiny stairs that just kept going up, up, up. That was basically Huayna Picchu. But, it sure as hell was worth it. It gives me chills just thinking about getting to the top and looking out of Machu Picchu and the journey to get there. This was truly the climax of the trek for me. After we made it to the top, we were mentally exhausted and decided it was time to drink, play cards and hang out until our train back home where we continued to drink, play cards and hang out for a few more hours. After the train, we had another few hour car ride back to Cusco where we all half-asleep dragged our smelly selves out of the van, into our homes and into bed. I was exhausted, but there are no words to explain how incredibly grateful I was for such an amazing experience with such an amazingly diverse and talented group of individuals.

2016-06-20 10.53.28As for the Snickers bar reference, our group apparently has a massive sweet tooth, because Snickers were the coveted snack along the trek. Each day, we would bring a few and celebrate hitting the highest point or finishing a difficult part of the trek with a delicious nutty chocolate bar. Between this and the amazing food served to us for each meal, I don’t think I attained my goal of losing any weight during the experience, but hey, what can ya do.

Moral of the story, I have no doubt that when I look back on Remote Year, this five-day adventure will stand out as one of my most memorable and challenging experiences, and I wouldn’t trade any of the horribly ugly blisters or tan lines for a single minute of it.

With love, Paige

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Our South American Finale

It’s so interesting to me how every month is such a different experience for each person. It just goes to show how the experiences, rather than just the city itself, are truly what form a person’s relationship with a city. For me, Cusco was probably my favorite month in South America. Maybe it’s because we were coming to the end of our time in South America, maybe it was the party life, or maybe it was the amazing experiences I had while I was there. Who knows.

2016-06-01 11.30.36Whatever it was, it was an amazing month that started off on quite an interesting note. Lindsay and I decided to leave La Paz early, so we purchased tickets to take a 14-hour bus ride from La Paz directly to Cusco. When we came to the border crossing, we all filed off the bus, walked into an old broken down building, got our papers stamped, walked across a rundown bridge (all at night, by the way), went into another broken down building to get more papers stamped and then filed back on the bus. A few hours later, we started seeing fires along the side of the road. Our bus drivers told us it was from protesters who were asking for money or wouldn’t let us through. We ended up giving some money despite many of our protests so we could just keep moving and get to our destination. We all dozed off only to wake up to our bus stopped again in a long line of buses. After talking with some of the other bus drivers, we learned it was due to protests in small cities between La Paz and Cusco regarding the contamination of Lake Titicaca. After four to five hours of waiting, we walked through the city and negotiated with some locals who driving people stuck at the border to their final destinations. Naturally, because we were having such stellar luck, we hit another group of protestors . After a strange combination of negotiating, talking, and rock towers, they let us through. 20 hours after we started our journey, we finally made it to Cusco.

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The first few days we were there it was just Lindsay and me hanging out in an amazing Airbnb positioned up on a hill with a view of the valley. Not only that, the neighbor’s puppy would come and play with us while we were working or hanging out. One problematic factor was the fact that there were about three to four locks and sets of stairs to get to our lovely home, which caused a number of problems for me during the trip. Thanks to the RY2 group who was still in Cusco, we also got a quick crash course of the local party life, and let me tell you, it was quite the whirlwind.

Once our RY3 crew arrived and settled in, our life looked something like this: work, eat, go out, sleep, repeat. Due to the touristy nature of Cusco, there were always new people in the city and also pretty wide variety of food too which was a welcome change after our time in La Paz. On the party side of things, it was really a rotation of places called Mama Africa, Temple Bar and Chongos. All of which were within about a block of each other. Problematic, right?

original_url: 6652474F-D516-4E99-BB53-9CB058739F44Despite the frequent partying, we did get out and explore the city and surrounding areas. The first weekend we went on a day trip to the beautiful Rainbow Mountain. Our hike started in a valley and took about 3-4 hours to get up to the top which looked out over a, you guessed it, rainbow colored valley of mountains. It was such an amazing feeling as we scrambled to the top of this totally exotic and freezing mountain. Not only that, but it was great preparation for what was coming next, the Salkantay Trek.

The Salkantay Trek was an amazing, difficult and magical experience I was able to share with eight other Remotes. We hiked for five days and covered over 75 km, completing our trek at the top of the magical Huayna Picchu, the mountain seen in the background of traditional Machu Picchu photos. This experience deserves its own post, so if you’d like to hear about our Snickers-fueled trekking, take a look here.

When we got back from the Salkantay Trek, I found out that my brother was going to be in Maine during our transition from South America to Europe, so I booked an early flight home from Cusco so I could make a stop in Maine to hangout with my family. That meant that I would be cutting my time short and only had a few days left to soak up as much of the South American culture as I could.

2016-06-22 20.03.20A few of us decided to do a chocolate, ceviche and pisco sour making class, which is one of my favorite memories from the month. It was Kirsten, Miranda, Brecht and I who took the class, which resulted in hours of laughing our asses off. To this day I’m not sure if our chocolate making teacher actually stuck a skewer through her tongue, to symbolize the blood that was apparently an ingredient for this weird hot chocolate drink they used to make back in the day. Then, we went over to the Pisco Museum, one of my favorite spots that month, where we had an unexpected pisco tasting. This basically four shots of pisco, which we did not anticipate whatsoever. After we were feeling nice and fuzzy, we got to get behind the bar and practice making pisco sours, now one of my favorite cocktails without a doubt. Then, we went down in the basement and made our very own ceviche, one of my favorite meals, without a doubt (are you seeing why I loved Cusco, yet?), and then continued on with our evening at one of the local bars and a few of our other Remotes.
2016-06-22 22.20.45A few days before I left, it was Lindsay’s birthday so naturally the fiesta crew was in full swing. We also spent a day at a spa which was something I hadn’t treated myself to in years. It was especially fun when I got my pedicure a few days after the Trek. No matter how much I tried to keep myself busy, my last few days eventually crept up on me. So, the day before I left to head back to the States, I frantically ran around the touristy area of Cusco buying little gifts and trinkets for all my loved ones back home. After that, I crammed my suitcase full of all of newly acquired items, and then in true Cusco fashion, went back out for one more hoorah.

While the month as a whole was an amazing period, it also brought us some of our first Remotes to drop the program. This was a heartbreaking reality for all of us. But, the rest of us continued forward and stayed connected to all those wonderful people who started this journey with us no matter what our individual journeys may bring us in the meantime.Other things of note: Lindsay and my first trip in an ambulance, the impact of the phrase “Soy de California,” the RY2 going away party, the Lindsay’s generosity when I was stranded, new traveler friends, Kois and

Charles’ fun interaction on Day 1 of the trek at the lake, the welcome party, Tom’s going away party and ensuing shenanigans, helping friends pack and packing parties, Casa de Campo, Poncho, community lunch and Jack’s Cafe.

With love, Paige

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Adventure Month; aka La Paz

After Buenos Aires, our heads still spinning from everything going on, our Cousteau tribe packed up and shipped off to La Paz, Bolivia. Let me tell you, it was a shock to just about everyone’s systems.

I really had no idea what to expect from La Paz. All I had heard was that I wouldn’t be able to breath and that there were lots of cool things around to visit. I have to say, both of those assessments were correct.
2016-05-02 18.00.21La Paz as a city is beautiful. You’re essentially in a bowl, so you can see all the homes around you and at night the city lights up like stars. Walking around though, even just to the office or up a set of stairs, would get you winded. I’m a runner, and I tried running and rarely could go a mile straight without stopping to walk. After Buenos Aires, though, the sunny sky and warm weather was welcomed, and most of us were happy, at least for the first few days.

Then the sickness started. I’m pretty sure at least 90% of our group was brought down to their knees by either altitude sickness, food poisoning or some combination of the two. One of our Remotes chronicled the experience quite appropriately with this hilarious video. Yes, it was that bad.

But, that didn’t stop most of us. One of the perks of La Paz is that it’s located perfectly to reach some of the most amazing ride trips and excursions, and we took full advantage of that. The first trip that we went on was a Remote Year planned excursion we dubbed, “Adventure Weekend.” After terrifyingly making my way down Death Road on seemingly unsteady mountain bikes, a group of ten of us continued on to a small town local town where we managed to find the one club, or bar, rather, in the town and proceeded to have a grand ol’ time.2016-05-07 10.07.40

The next day, we woke up early and went white water rafting. To one side of us was authentic jungle terrain and then up above were coca fields as far as the eye could see. As a side note, most of the coca leaves harvested are used for cocaine, surprise! After a snack, our group went on the largest zipline I’ve ever seen. Then we had another delicious meal including one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had, and continued our terrifyingly bumpy ride home. Mr. Smiles, our driver, only nearly killed us like a handful of times, too.

That following week, a group of three of us decided we hadn’t had enough adventure just yet. So after getting back Sunday night, we took off Tuesday morning for Isla del Sol, located on Lake Titicaca. To get there, we took a bus, that mid-way had to be floated across a river while we were boated, and then another ferry boat to the island itself. We made a pit stop in Copacabana, the coastal town where you ferry to get to the island and had some of the best Mexican food I had found in all of South America. When we arrived at the island though, well, there are really no words to describe how beautiful it was. The blue was piercing, and the locals were wearing traditional bright colored clothing that accented the beautiful coastline. We roamed around the island, had some terrible pizza and wine, hiked the next day, briefly, and concluded our trip with some beers on the beach. It wasn’t the full island hike that we had initially planned, but it was an amazing trip nonetheless.

2016-05-12 10.08.13After two back-to-back trips, I decided it was time to stay in La Paz for a weekend. A group of us decided to go to Chacaltaya and Valley de la Luna and do some city exploring. The following week was Remote Nation, which meant we had to save up our energy.

Remote Nation and the subsequent impromptu extended vacation in Lima almost deserves its own post. We were positioned only a few blocks away from the coast, which meant amazing running for the days I could gather myself and get out of bed. The first big group event that we had was a happy hour at a coastal restaurant, which was supposed to be followed by big family dinners. Naturally, our group didn’t make the dinner, but we did thoroughly enjoy some delicious sushi at the bar. That night we went out to one of the local clubs and made the most of our night. The next day, there was the actual conference component of the weekend. There were a variety of panels and workshops run by different members of Remote Year. The session I attended, which was called Storytellers, was run by one of our very own RY3 members, which was great to see. That night, we had a collective dinner sponsored by Remote Year and then moved over to the club next door. We ended up loving the city so much that Lindsay and I extended our trip so we could enjoy some more ocean-side ceviche and city lovin’. But, the trip eventually came to an end, much to her dismay, and we had to head back to La Paz.2016-05-28 15.33.46

As if we hadn’t had enough that month, Lindsay, Kirsten, Mo, Jeff and I took off for a couple days on the Salar de Uyuni. We went the same weekend as the Remote Year group, but decided we wanted our own adventure. The first day was a bit of a hassle with an overnight bus and then some issues with our reservation, but eventually we were on our way out onto the immense salt flats and a couple days without any connectivity. The first stop was the salt mine, then the flag field and then we proceeded out to do our series of miniature people photoshoots. I have to say, I was quite a fan of mine on the whiskey bottle. After that, we went to Cactus Island, an ironic name considering it’s location and my being from Arizona. After that, we caught the sunset for one more creative photoshoot and then headed to our salt hotel. Yes, the entire thing was made of salt; walls, floor, tables, the whole nine yards. The next day we woke up early for breakfast and then over to hike one of the mountains in the Salt Flats. It was brutal, but the view was amazing. After that, it was time to head back to town and back to La Paz.

Already exhausted from travel and all the activities from the month, but no less motivated to get out of La Paz and move onto Cusco, Lindsay and I decided to venture off on our own and head to Peru early. And boy was that an adventure.

Other items worth noting are: Food poisoning from sushi, the green line, El Alto, cholita wrestling, Route 36, Café Urbano, Vietnamese place, Copacabana, the gym we never used, coca leaves and tea, all the ceviche in Lima, surfing in Lima, the Digital Marketing Conference that I spoke at (and didn’t freak out, woo!), speeding throug lots of Harry Potter.

With love, Paige

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The Whirlwind; aka Buenos Aires

So, where have I been since my last update on some date, a long, long time ago? After our first month in Cordoba, we moved onto the cloudy but wonderful city of Buenos Aires for the month of April, and then onto the highest capital in the world, La Paz, for the month of May. Then, we moved onto Cusco, Peru, for our fourth month where we also hit the exciting 100 days of Remote Year milestone and the end of our time in South America.

monte fitz roy trekOur month in Buenos Aires, Argentina kicked off with, what I would say, a very appropriate party weekend beginning with Fuerza Bruta, an amazing show of dancing, music, lights and all sorts of optical illusions. We were living in Byblos, one of the nicer living accommodations that we’ve had on the trip and working out of the local co-working space called La Maquinita Co.

About a week into our time in Buenos Aires, a group of four of us took off for an adventure in Patagonia. The group
was, at the time, sort of a random crew, but we went for it and had an amazing time. We roamed around Patagonia drinking, eating, exploring, hiking and playing mass quantities of euchre. We rented a car in El Calafate, and after admiring Perito Moreno Glacier, we roamed down to El Chaltén where we hiked up to Monte Fitz Roy and experienced snow, rain, high winds and extreme heat all in one eight-hour hike. We topped off the trip with some glacier trekking and a sunrise hike before heading back to Buenos Aires.

mojoOnce we got back from Patagonia, it seemed like the month was almost gone. During the last couple weeks, a group of us went to the town of El Tigre and volunteered to help paint and clean a local school. In order to reach the school, we had to take a boat through the canals that navigated this entirely island-based community. By the end of it, we were covered in paint and feeling all warm and fuzzy having helped out the local community.

Other things worth noting for the month in Buenos Aires include, in no particular order: runs down to Plaza España, the crazy beautiful Cementerio de la Recoleta, Ninina; also known as our home for most of the month, El Ateneo Libreria, amazing graffiti, Adam’s run in with the local graffiti artist Mojo, closed door dinners, La Boca, getting my phone stolen, sunrises on the Byblos patios, the botanical gardens, the mass quantities of golden retrievers for some reason, the insufferable amount of rain and clouds, delicious crepes, terrorizing people in Byblos, David being terrorized by a scorpion in Byblos, Lindsay and I living together in Byblos, subsequently a couple unnecessary all-nighters, the closing party, Club 69 insanity, getting absolutely drenched on a bike tour, seemingly not being able to use card anywhere or ever find an ATM, an embarrassing number of hangovers and getting to know everyone even better, and making amazing friends along the way.

With love, Paige

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