My Sister’s Wardrobe Just Doubled

15 05 2009
Ready to go!

Ready to go!

My twin sister Eliza’s wardrobe just doubled. How? I’m leaving behind a ton of clothes. I spent three days packing (and re-packing) until I whittled down my belongings to one suitcase, one large carry-on backpack and one small backpack. And guess what? There’s room to spare! Considering I overpack for every trip, this is quite a feat.

What’s hard about packing for my South American adventure is that I’m going to experience all different kinds of weather– rainy, sunny, cold, hot and humid. Thus, I have packed only the essentials (plus a few extra pieces of clothing). 

This is my last post before I leave. My flight is scheduled to depart on Saturday, May 16 at 1:50 PM. I’ll arrive in Lima around 1 AM (11 PM California time), where I will go through customs and stay up all night until my flight to Cusco departs at 5:30 AM (3:30 AM California time). If my flights are on time, I will arrive in Cusco around 6:45 AM (4:45 AM California time). I may have to order some coffee during the tail end of the flight!

The past three weeks back home in Southern California were just what I needed to gear myself up for what lies ahead. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me in my decision to travel. It feels great knowing that people are behind me. A few shades darker from soaking in the sun, I’m happy to have spent my time with family and friends. What a great send-off! Enjoy the clothes, Eliza!

Facts About Peru and Cusco

15 05 2009

Below are a few random facts about Peru and the city of Cusco:

  1. The Peruvian currency is the Sole. One U.S. dollar is equal to about three Peruvian Soles. 
  2. The time in Peru is two hours ahead of California time. 
  3. My program (IVHQ) partners with a local NGO called Maximo Nivel. The organization assists local Peruvian communities to develop through the establishment of programs nationwide that benefit the most number of people.
  4. Lonely Planet fact: Cusco was once the foremost city of the Inca empire and is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city.
  5. Temperatures in Cusco will be mild, with the lows in the 30s and the highs in the 60s. May-October is the dry season. 
  6. The altitude in Cusco is at 11,000 feet. People often get altitude sickness when they come here. Mate de coca (coca -leaf tea) is said to help curb the syptoms of altitude sickness. No, you do not get high from it. I have altitude sickness pills on hand in case I get sick. 
  7. I’ll be in Peru for three of their holidays:
  • June 29: St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Day
  • July 28-29: Independence Day Celebrations
  • August 30: St. Rosa of Lima Day
Map of Peru (Taken from Lonely Planet)

Map of Peru (taken from Lonely Planet)

“Cinco de Crispo”

8 05 2009

What do unusually warm temperatures, dry conditions and ocean breezes mean? Answer: Great beach weather. What else? The perfect recipe for fires. As I spent my Cinco (and seis) de Mayo  in Santa Barbara, it quickly became “Cinco de Crispo,” an appropriate term coined by my Santa Barbarian friend.

The fire seemed tame while I hopped from beach to beach in the unusually warm weather. Then, the winds picked up, and the once under-control blaze became out of hand in a matter of minutes.  With erratic winds gusting up to 60-65 miles per hour and temperatures reaching the high 90s, custom-built homes burned and people evacuated. Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency. 

The fire is still burning, and some citizens of beautiful Santa Barbara are probably getting little sleep. However, one point that rings true is that people come together in times of crisis. If there’s one positive outcome from the fire, it’s the fact that people are supporting each other. I hope that those affected by the fire are okay, and I wish them all the best in the recovery process.

Farewell San Francisco

4 05 2009


Alamo Square

Alamo Square

I moved out of San Francisco ten days ago. Living in the city was a great experience, and I’m hoping to be back one day. I met some amazing people, maneuvered my way around on public transportation and learned a great deal about myself and the city. I had been to SF several times before I moved there, but visiting is much different than actually living there. What I love most about San Francisco is its beauty and diversity. 


The hills provide great views of both the city and the bay. And I love how there are so many distinct neighborhoods, each one with a completely different feel. 

Although I will not miss the weather, I will certainly miss my friends, walks in Golden Gate Park, Dolores Park, hanging out on rooftops, the beautiful beaches, admiring the Pacific Heights mansions, the sunny days when everyone is outside, the street parades, the nightlife, and yes, even the sound of the Muni buses saying “Please hold on.”