Monthly Archives: March 2013

From Lima to San Francisco: Going Back to Cali (and My Minor Lessons Learned)

The night before I took my final flight back home (SO SAD), I went out and decided to eat dinner at a restaurant in the alley near my hostel (there’s a whole bunch of restaurants down there that cater to both locals and tourists). I sat down at one that was playing the Knicks game (I hella missed basketball!) and decided to take a risk and get a caesar salad and a chicken consome soup – I really missed eating fresh raw vegetables. I asked the waiter if the salad was washed in “agua purificado”. He said it was – or, at least, I thought he said yes maybe he didn’t hear me, who knows.

My chicken consome soup

My chicken consome soup

The dinner kinda sucked. Well, the soup was okay and I did appreciate the food; however, it was very expensive (I really don’t like paying US prices for mediocre/bad food). It was also hella hard to overlook the fact that my caesar salad was a salad with a bad cheese sauce and pieces of lunchmeat ham instead of sardines (for the most part, don’t get Italian or American food out here, it’s probably not going to be worth it. Unless it’s a decent pizza joint – or it’s Ekeko’s in Puno, where EVERYTHING is good). To say the least, the salad was not good.

Not caesar salad

Not a caesar salad

To add insult to injury, I got really sick from the food that night and pretty spent an hour in the bathroom on the toilet (good thing my roommates were either asleep or out!). It was incredibly painful – it felt like I was turning my sphincter inside-out.

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Three Hot Days in Nazca

After a day and a half in Lima, I was pretty much over it. Since I didn’t have anyone else to hang out with for the rest of my days there, I decided on a whim to make a short trip to Nazca to see the infamous Nazca lines. If I had time, I also wanted to hit up Ica/Huacachina to go sandboarding, but I wasn’t going to push it. Didn’t want to miss my expensive flight back to San Francisco in four days!

On the way to Nazca

No Man’s Land: On the way to Nazca

I took a Cruz del Sur bus (the most reliable bus in Peru, so I’ve heard) past a few tourist cities (like Ica) and finally ended up in Nazca at about 9 pm at night. The trip down there however was kinda nuts. It looked like Mad Max land out there! Nothing but desert and brush with some homes (and sometimes in villages) out on the plain by themselves. Very end-of-the-world-ish-looking.

When I got in, the Nazca Inn hotel owner was waiting near the bus station to bring guests to his hostel. He was really welcoming and friendly – a local Nazcan who went to school in England for a little bit to learn business, who then returned to his hometown to run his family’s hostel. We spoke back and forth in Spanish and English, which made communication easy and fun. He took me on a short tour around the main strip and dropped me off at the hostel. Which, by the way, is AWESOME!

Hallway at the Nazca Inn

Hallway at the Nazca Inn


Later that night me and the hostel owner got drinks on the main drag…however, after getting completely drunk after one drink, I had to go out to get a burger so that I wouldn’t be completely embarrassing. I ate in his car while we drove around town and met his friends…

Yeah, I can be a bit of a sloppy drunk. So sue me.

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What’s Good In Lima?

I asked my cyber Facebook friends about what I should do in Lima. The responses:

“Not much”

“Manorca Beach in the north!”

“Hang out in the Barranco District at night”

“Museo Larco!”

I have to say that my first impression of Lima was not the most positive – only because perhaps I expected Lima to look more like the rest of Peru and less like Los Angeles (I have very mixed feelings about the city of LA). But with 8 million people, what can one expect. At least the weather was sunny and humid – I missed that feeling! Beats being around cold rainy mountains with low levels of oxygen.

Kennedy Park in Miraflores

Kennedy Park in Miraflores

Despite many technical difficulties (including not knowing how to make international calls from my Peruvian cell phone), I finally met up with Angela and one of her travel crew friends, Mel. I couldn’t believe we finally connected (first through this blog, and later in person)! Despite the fact that the restaurant that we were going to eat at was closed (Punto Azul is supposed to have EXCELLENT ceviche, but doesn’t open on Mondays), we quickly found a bus and made our way back to central Miraflores to find a place to have lunch. It was pretty hard. It’s hella touristy out here. There aren’t many good food options – and they’re all kinda expensive.

After making a huge circle around town, we finally settled on a chain restaurant called Rustica near my hostel. It was pretty good…


Mel, Angela and me

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From Bolivia to Peru: The Journey Back to Lima

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve cyber-met a handful of other travelers (through conversations on this blog!) who have also been planning their trip to South America and wanted some travel advice. One such traveler mentioned that she would be in Lima on the 17th of February, so I said that I’d try and see if we could meet up on that day.

Best hot dog ever (with mashed potatoes) at my stopover in Cochabamba

Best hot dog ever (with mashed potatoes) at my stopover in Cochabamba

Since the buses out have been such a crap shoot, I was pretty tired of attempting to take the long (and dangerous) overnight buses. Barely missing a deadly bus accident by a day on my way to Tupiza was enough for me. I took a TAM flight from Sucre to La Paz and spent the day trying to recover from a really bad flu or cold – or whatever. It was so bad that my coughs were non-stop and guttural, as if my body was trying to turn my lungs inside-out each time I coughed. I almost lost my voice completely. While I had high hopes of doing the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” trip through the gorgeous Yungas, I knew that I had to take care of my health if I wanted to enjoy the rest of my trip in South America.

Shopping all day in Las Brujas, La Paz

Shopping all day in Las Brujas, La Paz

I spent most of my day in La Paz buying gorgeous scarves, hats, jewelry, and other Bolivian goods for all my friends back at home. At night I attempted yet again to try the Asian food out here and settled on a sushi joint on Sagarnaga St. (it was “Valentines Day”, why not?) It was HORRIBLE.

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Travel Diaries: The Top 10 Bad @ss Things About Bolivia

la paz

Before I made my plans to go to South America, I told my friend Darrell that I was planning to go to Peru, and then fly to Argentina to see Patagonia. I had no other plans to visit any other countries, because I only had two months.

“You have to do Bolivia”, he told me.


“Just because – it’s awesome.”

Yeah, Bolivia was AMAZING. I want to go back. I didn’t even make it to Argentina on this trip because I spent so much time there.

ANALOG GIRLS’ TOP 10 THINGS TO DO/SEE IN BOLIVIA: (Dedicated to all my good folks out there right now)

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After Uyuni, I decided to travel up to the lovely city of Sucre since my plans to go to Argentina had fallen apart by then (there just wasn’t enough time to go. New rule: 1 country per month! At least 3 weeks…there’s just so much to do!).

I had heard a lot of good things about the “White City” – a traveler I met in Cochabamba said that it was one of his favorite cities in the world (I guess it depends on what you like though. While Sucre wasn’t my favorite city in the world, it was indeed very nice).



This trip also didn’t start out very well – due to the buses, yet again. I have no idea what happened, actually. All that I know is that I boarded an Emperador bus at Uyuni and took it for about four hours until its stop at the famous mining town of Potosi. The bus company originally told me that I would have to change buses in Potosi, but that didn’t quite happen. When I asked the bus driver where to go for my connecting bus to Sucre, he just handed me 20 bolivianos and told me to go upstairs. Somewhere. What?

So I went upstairs to find – something. I tried to go to the Emperador bus office, but it was closed. Another agency down the hall said that I had to go to the NEW bus station down the street. Whatthhell. Why are there two bus stations. That is so confusing.

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Carnaval in Uyuni: Ninja Turtles, Vikings, and All-Day Water Balloon Fights

After we ended our four-day “Tupiza to the Salar de Uyuni” tour, the Swiss couple (that I met on the tour) accompanied me in search of a better hostel. We came across Hostal La Magia de Uyuni, a much more upscale place with great looking bedrooms and an excellent breakfast. It was pretty pricey though – as a budget traveler, I aim to pay less than $10 a night – $20 on special occasions. However, after 4 days with only one hot shower (not including the hot springs soak), I was looking forward to a quiet night’s rest in my own room. Unfortunately, an expensive room does not equate hot showers – I was shivering in (almost) lukewarm shower water that night (I think they didn’t have the water heater turned on at the time).


One of my favorite things about Bolivia (and Peru) is the amazing festival music – a combination of triumphant-sounding horns and energetic drums. Everyone seems to have access to brass instruments and can form a marching band out here! While most people in Bolivia go to Oruro for Carnaval (where the big parade goes down), Uyuni was preparing for its own Carnaval parades that weekend. I don’t know what it’s like in Oruro, but I have to say that Uyuni’s Carnaval made me fall a little bit in love with this small city, and it’s awesome people.

Getting ready for the festivites in Uyuni

Getting ready for the festivities

Balloon and water pistol vendors

Balloon and water pistol vendors

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Ladies and Gentlemen: the Salar de Uyuni

Despite the heavy rains that had been plaguing southern Bolivia for a few weeks, by the time we got to the Salar de Uyuni, most of the rain water had cleared – except for a layer of water on the actual salt flats itself. Roads were now completely usable, and we had very few fears of our jeep getting stuck out on the cold Salar somewhere.

We awoke at 5 am to get going on the day. During our slow drive, we were greeted by an amazing sunrise that reflected like a mirror on the Salar’s watery surface:

Antes de la amanacer

Antes de la amanacer



Driving through the Salar's waters

Driving through the Salar’s waters

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From Tupiza to Uyuni Days 2 & 3: La Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa

Jumping for joy - at La Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa

Jumping for joy – at La Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa

The next day we awoke to a cold and pitch black morning around 4 am. Our goal was to leave the town by 4:30 am so we could head out through the mountains on our journey to one of the most amazing National Parks I’ve ever seen: La Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Granted, I haven’t traveled that much…but still!

Another view of the Laguna Colorada

Laguna Colorada


At 5 am, the morning was cold and dark but extremely beautiful – it reminded me why it’s so worth it to wake up early in the morning sometimes. As dawn began to break, we started to see rolling green hills, winding creeks – and wild vicunas, grazing in the distance.

Early morning jeep ride through the valley

As we began our journey up the mountains, we began to see the ground turn from green hillsides to snow capped mountains. We were definitely gaining altitude.


The city of ghosts

On the top of a mountain sits “La Ciudad de Fantasmas”: a lost city – 4690 meters high in altitude – that was abandoned in the year 1750. As the legend goes, the town was once taken over by colonizing Spainards, who forced the local Bolivian population to work in their gold and silver mines on the mountain. Over time however, the local people actually became very rich – and quite hedonistic. Due to their indulgent and “godless” lifestyles, one day a woman (sent by God) came to one of their rowdy parties..and basically got everyone sick. And then everyone died, which is why the village is allegedly still abandoned today.

Abandoned homes

Abandoned homes

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Best of Bolivia: From the Badlands of Tupiza to the Salar de Uyuni

On the bus from Cocha to Tupiza

On the bus from Cocha to Tupiza

My trip to Tupiza/Uyuni didn’t start off too well, at first. For some reason I had thought that my bus took off at 3 pm not 2:30, so by the time I got in line for the wrong Illimani bus at Cochabamba’s busy bus terminal, a man (who sold me my ticket the day before) came running up to me while my actual bus was taking off out of the terminal parking lot.

You were supposed to be here at 2:30!” he said to me, exasperated and in Spanish. I told him that I thought that I was supposed to arrive at 2:30pm but that the bus would actually take off at 3pm. Who knew the buses would leave on time?

Tiffany, tu faltaste”, he scolded me as he radioed in to try and stop the bus from leaving me behind.

After a few frantic minutes, he finally found a taxi that could help me chase after my bus and try to catch it at its first stop, just outside of the city.

My driver was really sweet. He was a young father in his mid 20’s who actually lived in Sweden for about five years to make money to send back to his family. We got a chance to learn a lot about each other as he raced down Cochabamba’s busy streets in search of my bus. Like many cab drivers, he asked me why I was traveling solo…why I was still single at 34 and didn’t have kids…and why I could speak Spanish. “That’s just the way life is in California sometimes”, I replied.

After a 25 minute cab ride, I ( finally did get to my bus just before it took off again for its next stop. “A minute more and we would have left you behind!” the bus driver told me. 

The next 16 hours of my bus ride were just as “adventurous” as my journey to board it: I got a chance to watch a lightning storm strike the ground on wide open landscapes (I’ve never really seen bolts of lightning before!) and see beautiful sunsets over the mountains and the valley. I also had a two hour-long talk in Spanish with some guy next to me that was traveling to Tupiza with his family. But the most “exciting” part by far was enduring the bus’ rubber-like swaying at each mountain curve that we turned. I couldn’t sleep at all throughout the night. On top of it all, it was pretty cold on the bus (all the locals on the bus knew better and brought blankets for the trip). Rain seeped in from the windows and fell on me as I tried to sleep.

The journey

The journey

Fortunately, we arrived safely to the Tupiza bus terminal around 6 am. I was exhausted and pretty zombie-like at that point, but I had no place to rest. I meandered down the streets until I found the La Torre – Tupiza Tours office so that I could start my epic four day jeep journey from Tupiza to Uyuni that morning.

Since I booked my tour over email and not in person, I really didn’t know what to expect from the trip – or even, what I needed to bring or do for the tour. I just knew that I was going to see the salt flats of Uyuni and some amazing landscapes.

That last statement is actually an understatement. It was AAAAMMAZZINGLY gorgeous!!

For the next four days, I spent most of my time traveling in a jeep with two other tourists from Switzerland, our guide Juan Carlos, and his mama – who cooked for us during the trip. Besides our jeep, there were a handful of other jeeps that were also doing the same route as us (but from different tour companies), so I had a little bit of a chance to meet some other folks along the way.

There’s not much to say but to show the trip in pictures. If you like landscapes and nature and don’t mind driving in a jeep for most of your day, this is the tour for you.


We started off in Tupiza by driving to a mirador of the Badlands:

Tupiza's Badlands

Tupiza’s Badlands

Blue and red mountains

Blue and red mountains

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