Interviews with Each Other: Peru

Group Travel, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Packing & Wardrobe, Peru — By on September 8, 2006 at 11:20 pm

LGS in Brazil We’ve just reached the end of our whirlwind journey through Peru, and are now taking off for the beaches of Brazil! Before we board our plane for shores unknown, we decided to interview each other about the best and worst of our trip so far. Here are our very candid thoughts about life as a Lost Girl:

Name one thing that you never knew about one of your fellow Lost Girls.

Amanda: I never knew that Jen had a braided-hair, bell- bottom hippie phase in high school, and I’m her best friend, for Pete’s sake! And I also never knew that she stripped to make extra money for college tuition. Kidding.

Jen: I was appalled to discover that Holly doesn’t care at all about having a diamond engagement ring. She said ‘I would take a cubic zirconium.’ C’mon sister, it’s your one shot to get a big friggin’ rock. Seize the moment! Amanda and I are actively working to change her mind.

Holly: I didn’t know that Amanda has such an obsession with orange foods. Every time she sees a mango or pumpkin soup, her eyes light up. We think she’s deficient in beta carotene.

What mundane task do you find to be the most challenging and why?

Amanda: I expected laundry to be a bitch, but every town in Peru has cheap, same-day wash-and-fold service.

Jen: Body hair maintenance. Sometimes the shower water has been close to freezing, shaving was basically impossible. And, it’s hard to find the privacy to Nair when you share a tiny room with your friends.

Holly: Using the bathroom. I didn’t realize how much I liked using soap, water and TP.

What clothing item has turned out to be the most useful?

Jen: My black and white Champion hoodie sweatshirt cuz no matter where you go here, it’s always cold at night. And, if I wear it with a skirt or dress, I don’t feel like a total tool, as it matches just about anything.

Amanda: My Urban Outfitters dance tights. In addition to being trendy and fun, they keep my legs warm and roll away into a tee-tiny little ball for packing.

Holly: My brown Lycra wide-leg pants, because they’re comfortable for plane rides, can double as PJs and they work in both hot and cold weather. Unfortunately I’ve worn them so much, both Lost Girls can keep track of what thong I’m wearing everyday since the waistband is so stretched out. I’m on the hunt for a new pair.

Which item has barely seen the light of day?

Jen: My two dry fit short sleeve shirts. They only work well in warm weather, but when it’s hot, I’d much rather wear a tank top.

Amanda: My too-expensive black Nike one piece bathing suit. I expected to wear it for things like white water rafting and other outdoor activities, but a sports bra and shorts was always a better option.

Holly: My brown halter top. It’s not versatile, and really can only be worn when going out for the night. Usually, though, I opt for a sundress because it’s easier and works in almost any after-dark setting.

What was your biggest gross-out moment?

Holly: Chicken feet in my soup. Also, finding a short curly in every meal I ate for a week straight.

Jen: Just how often people pick their noses in broad day light. Outright! They don’t even try to hide it!!

Amanda: Questionably brown smears on the walls in the Inca Trail bathrooms. We all wanted to barf.

What would you have done differently in planning the first leg of the trip?

Holly: I would not have checked a live vaccination into my backpack, then begged the ground crew at the airport to let me retrieve it before the flight. I think that’s why I lost my backpack, which is too small and too heavy for me anyway. Next time I’d get one with a lighter internal frame and a huge side load zipper.

Jen: I would have skipped the dirty, sulfurous shantytowns of Nasca and Puno, as they completely depressed us. Even in the “best” hostels in town, the places were stinky and drab.

Amanda: We heard that Mancora and Tumbes (on the Northern coast of Peru) are really amazing surf villages, and we ran out of time to visit them due to an exceptionally long stay at high altitude. Next time, I’d aim for surf and sand over snow!

Please describe your biggest meltdown.
Amanda: Vendors in Peru never, ever, ever want to provide change, even when the bill is 12 soles and you hand them a 20 (meees? you no have change? you no have coins??). One night, after we’d completed our meal, the restaurant owner refused to provide change for our larger bill, meaning we couldn’t provide a tip for the waitress. By that point, I was so exhausted with people who clearly had change behind the desk lying and saying that they didn’t that I nearly clocked him. Instead, I simply screamed my head off like the fat, embarrassing, fanny-pack wearing tourist that I so love to make fun of in other situations. The waitress looked stunned and eventually we found a tip for her deep within the recesses of our bags. But now, I categorically refuse to make a purchase (if possible) if the guy at the register tries to hold out on me.

Holly: At our first hostel in Cusco, we were stuck in a noisy, freezing cold dorm space with three other dudes-who proceeded to fart all night long in their sleep. I had to wear everything I owned to bed, including long johns, hat, gloves and scarf, just to make it through the night without shivering. Our door, which connected to the main bathroom banged with activity all night long. Those factors, coupled with a landmark hangover, nearly caused me to lose it.

Jen: Cab drivers often pretend that they know where you want to go, and are too proud to admit it when they don’t. Holly and I were late for a get together at the Miraflores Park Hotel-a major landmark in Lima-and the guy started motoring in the opposite direction. I was tired and extremely hungry (the root of my evil crankiness) so I openly expressed my frustration to him in broken Spanish. “Seriously? You don’t know where you’re going? It’s a major hotel!” Holly tried to disappear between the cab cushions and I just continued venting to her. I guess I’m just spoiled by the kick-ass NYC cab drivers.

Most humbling moment on the road?

Amanda: Having to bare my ass before a Peruvian doctor in order to get a steroid shot in Cusco.

Jen: Squatting over truly disgusting latrine toilets on the Inca Trail, then trying to deal with my “girly issues” in these same horrifying bathrooms.

Holly: Having my bodily functions tested in Puno to make sure that I didn’t have an intestinal parasite. Amanda and Jen cheered me on from outside the bathroom door (“2…4…6…8…C’mon, Holly you’re doin’ great!) and thank god, I didn’t have any little critters to worry about.

Biggest disappointment?

Amanda: That the food in Peru was actually really delicious. I fully expected to lose 10 pounds on this first leg of the trip, but I’m pretty certain that my love handles have stayed intact.

Jen: So many people speak English in Peru that I didn’t get to practice my Spanish as much as I thought. I figured that I’d be bilingual after two months, but I wasn’t able to immerse myself enough in the culture to make it happen. Although I did improve my vocabulary a ton.

Holly: Getting up at 4:00am to view huge condors as they soared over Colca Canyon. Not only did our 5:30am bus never show, but when we finally got to the site, only a single pair of birds made an appearance for a mere 10 minutes. After all that, we got stranded in the desert for another 5 hours. Overall, not the best investment of our time.

What was your biggest compromise?

Amanda: I’d always planned to spend the majority of our nights on the road in classic backpacker hostels—big rooms, lots of bunk beds, fun connections with new people. But unlike Europe, many of the towns here don’t have one notorious spot where young travelers can make friends and still get a good night’s sleep. So, we’re lodging primarily in ultra cheap hotels, and finding a social scene elsewhere.

Jen: I didn’t realize how much work it would be to maintain the blog, keep up with email, plan the trip (my main assignment) and learn to become a photojournalist. Plus, the ultra slow technology made every task 10 times slower, so I got frustrated that we were spending days at a time in an internet café, rather than having a real, authentic experience.

Holly: I miss my boxing, yoga and Pilates classes. I didn’t realize how important they were to maintaining my sanity until I had to go without. Now, I still try to find a place to run, but there’s no substitute for Central Park.

On scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the Peruvian men?

Amanda: 5: Super sweet, but too short for my taste

Jen: 4: Not enough muscles; I like them big

Holly: 4: They don’t take no for an answer, especially at the clubs.

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  • Anonymous says:

    There was lots of interesting info in this blog..some fairly critical-but honest.How do you think the recipients of your comments will feel? I loved your candid comments but felt that you cast these people as dirty,greedy,lecherous,unbuff midgets-that eat well! Keep up the cool blog. Most of us only get to meet the dirty, greedy, unbuff people here in the States.

  • Anonymous says:

    Interviewing each other is a great idea. You must have found it fun as it seemed to encourage you to be so brutally honest about everything. If you like tall muscular men, why don’t you try traveling to Sweden? Or Norway? Keep on keepin’ on. Oh, remember to stay safe,ladies.

  • 2 cents says:

    Love your blog here! Very interesting to read all your experiences there in Peru!