14 Tips For Having the Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Ever!

Last Friday morning we officially said our “see ya laters” to Cusco and began the first portion of the journey that would lead us to Chile.  It was bittersweet to leave the first stop on our RTW journey, but we were very excited for what awaited us!  The itinerary went as follows: drive with friends of our host from Cusco to Puno (an estimated five hours), and then from Puno to Tacna (an estimated ten hours), the southernmost city in Peru.  Everything was planned a little bit last-minute as we had a busy week prior with our friends Dan and Nichole visiting.  We had nothing planned after that but knew we had to make our way from Tacna across the Chilean border to Arica.  That gave us almost entire week to make it down the coast of Chile to the capital of Santiago, where we will fly even further south to Puerto Montt this upcoming Friday.  Now, back to us leaving Cusco.  We had absolutely no idea that one of the craziest days of our lives lay ahead of us on the only day we had actually planned out over the course of the week. As you also know, Saturday was Valentine’s Day.  To help capture the essence of the events that followed our embarkation on Friday, Karen and I are happy to present to you the simple process for creating an unforgettably romantic date chock-full of cupid’s arrows.

Tips For Having the Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Ever:

1.  Hire a private driver to take you from Cusco to Tacna. Make it to Puno (the first stop on the way) and hear your driver tell you that you are ahead of schedule and only have six more hours to go.

2.  While in Puno, treat your lady friend to some ice cream and enjoy it on a sunny day in the central plaza.

3.  Take the “shortcut” from Puno to Tacna, which will “save time” getting you to your destination.

4.  Roll through an assortment of very small mountain towns, in which every person gives a completely different answer as to the length of time remaining on your journey.

5.  Drive through “detours” on the route, which include fording streams (Oregon Trail style) that are deep enough to allow water into the car and begin soaking your feet.  Watch as local llamas are wading through the waters with their legs completely covered.

6.  Every hour or so, ask your driver how much time is remaining and receive the same answer of “about three hours.”

7.  Drive up to the top of a snow-covered mountain at 14,000 feet, drive your station wagon through the cake-like mud and putter out in a giant water-filled crater.

8.  Try various strategies for over an hour to get the car removed, only to soak through every pair of dry socks that you have, lowering your body temperature enough to begin shaking.  Teeth chattering yet?  Perfect, you’re setting the mood nicely.

9.  Run out of feasible options (with no cell phone service in the mountains) around 1:30am, and huddle together using your dog’s body as a temporary blanket.  Turn off the car to go to sleep and wait for help to arrive in the morning.

10.  Within the hour, awake to hear a truck coming up the mountain and yell “CAR!”

11.  Get towed out by the truck, only to begin silently weeping as your car battery stalls.  Watch the battery turn over just in time to catch up to the truck.

12. Drive over a rock plateau and get stuck again after the truck has already left.  Watch as your wife spends Valentine’s Day chiseling rock from underneath the car at 4am.

13.  Take one more cat nap in the car before cruising into Tacna just 12 hours after your estimated arrival time.

14.  Remember that you’re together, everyone is safe, and everything will be all right!

In our minds, we had a timeline for how and when we would arrive in Chile.  However, God’s timeline was much different than our own!  But the most amazing part is what ensued after the madness.  We arrived in Tacna fairly early on Saturday morning.  From there, we met a driver (he also happened to be a police officer) who was not only able to get us across the border to Arica with Sofi’s crate, but he even made a call to a friend to find out every detail we needed to get Sofi into Chile.  He drove us to a couple different offices to get the necessary paperwork to make the following day a breeze.  On top of that, this man introduced us to another friend who ended up driving us from Arica to Iquique, our second stop in Chile.  And, wouldn’t you know it, this gentleman was a bus driver who had permits for securing Sofi’s crate to the top of his car.  God’s timeline was certainly different than our own, but it was perfect.  Everything happens for a reason!

Advertisements

Lessons for Days (7 Things We’ve Learned from 7 Days in Cusco)

Our first week in Cusco has been filled with more great experiences than we could have expected.  Between the kind people we’ve met, the incredible places we’ve seen and the delightful food we’ve eaten, things couldn’t have started better after our rough welcome to Peru.  To give you a better idea of what daily life is like in Cusco, we’ve created a list of the things you should know (in no particular order) before you plan to visit:

1. There are dogs.  EVERYWHERE.  It seems that everyone and their hermano (see how good my Spanish is?) has at least one dog in Cusco.  When we were on our honeymoon in Bora Bora circa 2011, I asked a local man what the population was on the island.  His response was “3,000 people…6,000 dogs!”  It’s apparent that this rule applies to Cusco as well.  If you’re in the downtown area of Cusco, the dogs won’t give you a second look.  In the outskirts and more rural areas, however, they aren’t so nice.

2.  BYOOT.  Bring your own oxygen tank!  The altitude is no joke here.  The base elevation in the main part of city is 11,000 feet.  And that’s within the city.  If you go on a hike up one of the many mountains in the area, you’re just tacking on extra feet.

3.  Toilet paper goes in the garbage.  It took a couple of memorable experiences clawing wet toilet paper out of the toilet to truly learn this lesson.  The pipes are skinny and the sanitation system in the city gets disrupted if you dispose of paper in the toilet.  They also shut off the water when that happens.

4.  Shop at the market.  It’s cheaper, fresher, and the experience is awesome.  If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, THIS is where you want to be!  The local markets have a plethora of stands filled with about everything you can imagine.  And the best part?  Everything is cheaper than in the supermarkets!

5.  Remember “Sin Agua.”  It will save your life (potentially).  The jugo (juice) stations at the market are not to miss.  Those same fresh fruits and juices are blended together in a harmonic symphony of scrumtrulescence (noun credit goes to Will Ferrell/James Lipton).  But remember: the water they use for juices can make foreigners sick.  Hence the words “sin agua (without water).”  Opt for orange juice (naranja) instead.

6.  Check the “English” prices.  Many places offer an English menu in addition to the local menu, especially in the touristy areas.  However, be sure to look closely.  Sometimes the English menu prices are higher than the Spanish prices!

7.  Don’t be afraid to visit Cusco during “rainy season.”  So far, this has consisted of seven days filled with 90% sun and 10% rain.  And as good fortune may have it, most of the rain has been in the middle of the night!  Maybe they just call it rainy season so they can have a few months without so many tourists 😉

For those of you who are more inclined to visuals, here is a video summarizing our first week of adventures.