Las Vegas

Bellagio Fountains at Night

My best friend Mike and I went to Las Vegas for a long weekend earlier this month. It was a great trip, the weather was gorgeous, we saw LOVE by Cirque du Soleil and Penn and Teller, and ate fabulous food all weekend. We stayed at the Bellagio, which was super fancy, and had a gorgeous flower garden and pool.

Alice in Wonderland Style Garden at Bellagio, Las Vegas

We flew out on my birthday, and spent the day relaxing (I went and read by the pool). The day after we got in, my cousin Marty and his wife Maria who live in Las Vegas, took us out to see the Hover Dam (enormous!)

The Hoover Dam

We scored a great package deal for the trip through US airways vacations, and it was totally worth it to get away for a quick trip. Mike and I had fun taking pictures at every opportunity. Check out the full set here.

Paracas and the Ballestas Islands, Peru

I never got around to posting my pictures from the tail leg of my Peru trip. These are all from Paracas and the nearby Ballestas Islands, which have been called the ‘poor man’s Galapagos’ because the islands feature over 160 species of birds (including Penguins!), along with Sea Lions, Dolphins, and seasonally, Whales.

Paracas is a tiny town right on the Pacific Ocean and was, unfortunately, hit hard by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami in 2007. The reconstruction efforts are ongoing, and the hotel I had been planning on staying in was actually wiped out in the earthquake/tsunami. I guess my guidbeook was printed before the earthquake hit!

Despite having split up with my fabulous (and fluent in Spanish) travel companion Elly, I was able to find a good place to stay and set myself up with a ticket on the next morning’s boat tour out to the Ballestas Islands. It was a little cold, and a lot grey, but the islands were amazing none-the-less. There were thousands of birds, and our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the islands. Highlights included the adorable Humboldt Penguins:

Penguins!

And the stunning view of the Cathedral rock formation in the Paracas National Reserve itself. the Cathedral

The rock formation was damaged in the 2007 earthquake. Named the Cathedral, due to the arch formation and the hidden caves beneath it, (viewable here) the arch collapsed in the earthquake, and the caves were filled in by a rockslide.

Interestingly, in the town of Paracas, you can still buy postcards featuring the original arch.

View the full photoset here on my flickr page.

nazca, peru

a Condor in flight

After leaving Arequipa 3 days ago, Elly and I booked a 2 day trek through the Colca Canyon. The bus ride was pretty brtual, 1am departure for a 5 hour trip on dirt roads. By the time we got to the town of Cabanacondor, the altitude was getting to me and I was feeling pretty terrible and ended up staying in town and slept for about 14 hours.

I met up with the group the next morning and we bussed out to Cruz del condor in time to see the amazing condors take their morning flight. The birds were fantastic, as was the canyon itself. I got some great photos of the birds and am really excited to have seen them.

Today I am in Nazca, with Elly and a friend we met during the Colca Canyon trek. We took a bus out to the Nazca lines this morning and saw some of them. And tonight we’re planning a trip to the Nazca Planetarium for a presentation on the history of the lines.

Nazca Lines - Hands

In Arequipa, Peru

at the airport

After a late night series of red eye flights with a stop over in El Salvador I made it to the Lima airport to be greeted by my friend Eleanor, complete with a handmade sign bearing my name.

Our day in Lima yesterday was fairly uneventful and didn´t really include much sightseeing. There were a series of strikes planned throughout the country and we were concerned about the possiblilty of not being able to get a taxi into the airport to get to Arequipa this morning because of the strike, so we opted to stay at the fancy hotel next to the airport instead. It was quite expensive, but ater 2.5 weeks of backpacking on Elly´s end and 15 hours of airports on mine, we were both pretty excited to enjoy the luxury of the hotel´s spa and comfy beds.

It sounds like the strikes were fairly uneventful in Lima though, we probably could have risked it and stayed further out but the risk of missing our flight was more important in the long run. In Arequipa so far there has been much more evidence of today´s strike. A lot of shops are closed and there were rocks blocking the streets on our way into town from the Airport. We were able to get a taxi but had to take some back roads to get to our hostel. It was definitely a bit tense for our driver.

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