Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We had a great trip through 7 countries in Central & South America last summer, and now I've started a new blog!  You can visit my new page at:


I might still post a few more travel things on this blog, like our trip through Spain, Andorra, France, Poland, and Sweden in the summer of 2012 too.  Hope you're having a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peruvian Wedding

We arrived in Lima, Peru, with our friend Mr. Bodeen, and it was great to be back in the city.  In Peru, it´s less expensive to buy things, which is really nice.  Soon after we got our hostel, we caught up with our friends Mr. Benson and Ms. Romero, who got married on July 23!  We enjoyed a lot of delicious food in Lima, and did a lot to prepare for their wedding.  It was a mix of American and Peruvian traditions, which was really fun to see.  After the religious part of the wedding came the fun reception, with lots of music, dancing, toasts, and a whole table of chocolates and sweets!

One food we haven´t had on this trip is cuy, which is cooked Guinea Pig!  This is a traditional dish from Peru, and it tastes somewhat like rabbit.  We will also try to get some llama, which is very low in fat and cholesterol, but high in protein.  It tastes kind of like a nice, lean piece of beef. 

My favorite part of Lima was Miraflores, where they have a CAT PARK!  It´s actually called Kennedy Park, but there are stray cats all over it, and they run around getting pet by random people, scarfing down catfood left by kind strangers, and sleeping all over the place!  I counted four cats sleeping in one tree, and saw some other cats sleeping on a ledge of church, where you would normally see pidgeons nesting!  I pet as many of the cats as I could.

From Lima, we flew to Cuzco, which is where they talk about in The Emperor´s New Groove!  After staying a night there, we headed to Lake Titicaca on a bus, which is the highest lake in the world and the largest lake in South America.  It is on the border of Peru and Bolivia.  We are just about there, so I´ll have to let you know how it was in my next post!

Chilly in Chile!

I´ve been waiting to say that I´m chilly in Chile for a while, and it´s really true!  There is not as much snow here in Valdivia, Chile as there was in Argentina, but it is still very cold.  There is also a lot of fog here, and they have four main rivers running by the city.  The first night we were here, we stayed in a hostel, but then we met up with our nice friend Pato, who is a missionary and teacher in Valdivia.  He let us stay in his apartment for the next two days, and gave us a tour of the city!  We went to a great restaurant, visited an old Spanish fort on the ocean front, and caught up on sleep.  There is great seafood in the city because it is close to the ocean.  My favorite was fried salmon- it was so tasty!  Pato has an adorable little daughter who he calls Kung Fu Guagua.  She is very cute and is a happy baby.  I also got the best hot chocolate I´ve ever had in my life in Entrelagos, where we also purchased very detailed marzipan in the shape, texture, and style of tiny fruits, but it didn´t taste very good.  A nearby volcano has been spewing ash into the air for sometime now, but luckily most of the ash has been carried into Argentina.  We had to say goodbye to our friend Pato in the bus station, and rush  north to Santiago to catch our plane to Peru!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Iguazu Falls, Cordoba, & Bariloche

One of the natural wonders of the world is on the border of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.  It is a huge collection of waterfalls, and we visited the Argentine side in Iguazu.  The first waterfall we came to was The Devil´s Throat, where vast amounts of water from a huge river flow down hundreds of feet, and send mist far into the air.  You walk out over dozens of smaller river systems on metal boardwalks to peer over the edge of the falls.  Next, we went and saw a bunch of little critters that look like a mix between anteaters, raccoons, and opossums called coatis.  They have a slow train that takes visitors to different trail heads which we took a few times too.  We viewed dozens of other waterfalls from a variety of angles from a number of different trails, and even saw little monkeys before we left the National Park of Iguazu.  Unfortunately, that evening I got the flu, which made me spend the majority of the next three days in bed with a fever, deep cough, headache, etc.

Another city in Argentina we visited is Cordoba.  It was hard to find a hostel here because the big soccer game, the American Cup, was playing in the city the very next day.  The big cathedral here was gorgeous and they had amazing paintings all over the ceiling.  There were many other buildings in the city that were hundreds of years old, some of which the Spanish built long ago.  While I slept and tried to get better, Mr. Madison watched the soccer game in a restaurant (you can get a huge steak dinner for only $10 down here!) and Argentina won!

From Cordoba, we took a bus to Patagonia, the southern tip of Argentina and Chile.  The buses in Argentina are not like the ones in the USA.  Here, the seats lay way back and you get dinner and pop and free juice and coffee the whole way.  We stayed in the city of Bariloche, which is a ski town in Argentina.  The first day, it rained, so we took the opportunity to visit a bunch of the chocolate factories here, where the chocolate is DELICIOUS!  On the second day, it started SNOWING!  We took a gondola to the top of the mountain, but we couldn´t see much besides a lot of snow!  After going to another delicious dinner and eating more chocolate, Mr. Madison and I headed over to Chile on another overnight bus.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Uraguay & Argentina

After staying the night with a family friend in Quito (the Ecaudorians we met were SO nice!) we flew to Lima, Peru, and had a twelve hour layover in the airport there.  We couldn´t leave the airport because they charge a $60 tax, but the seats in the airport were nice and cushioned, and I caught up on a lot of sleep there. Next, we made it to Montevideo, Uraguay.  We were hoping that prices there would be lower, but they were almost the same price as in the United States, especially near the airports and bus terminals.  Uraguay is in winter now, so it was cold, and we didn´t know anyone there, so we quickly caught a bus to Colonia, which is a colonial town.
Colonia was originally settled by the Portuguese (who took the Native´s land just like the settlers did in Oregon), and then the Spanish took it from the Portuguese.  There were buildings there, mostly churches and convents as well as a fort wall, that were built before the United States was even a country!  The most amazing thing is that THEY ARE STILL STANDING after  hundreds of years!  We also met the cutest dog there, who I named Don Perro (Sir Dog in English) who followed us for miles just to get pet.  His face looks just like the face of my parent´s dog, Mr. Dibbensworth.
Following that, we went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is a beautiful city.  The architecture there was amazing- many of the buildings had gorgeous statues and carvings and were very old.  They also have huge plazas, kind of like big parks, but not with play equipment.  Instead, they have room for people to gather, walk around, and enjoy the fountains and statues.  We saw the Pink House, which is Argentina´s version of the White House, and we ate all kinds of delicious food, including palm heart pizza and empanadas.  After two days in Buenos Aires, we headed to Rosario.
Rosario is truly a beautiful city.  They have many parks and they keep the city a lot cleaner than most cities are in South America.  I never really knew why it was so important to put garbage in a garbage can where it belongs until this trip to South America.  Very few people here put their garbage where it belongs, and because of it, everything is covered in garbage and it stinks.  Even the beaches here have trash all over them, and it kind of ruins the scene. 
People in Rosario are very polite, and we enjoyed visiting the top of their Monument to the Flag, which is a huge tower that you can take an elevator to the top of and look out on the whole city from.  It is right next to a very old church where we went to mass, and that church has a little secret mini church underneath it!  There is a lot hidden under the ground of these old cities, like tunnels and casks.  We took a long bus ride to our next destination-Iguazu Falls.  It is one of the natural wonders of the world, and we are going to go explore it tomorrow.  Mr. Madison used to be a tour guide here in 2003, and he worked here for two years, so I am excited for a great adventure at the falls.

Hola, Ecuador!

We started our journey in California, USA but I had to fly to Georgia, USA and then Quito, Ecuador on my own because my passport still had my maiden name (Brewer) instead of my married name (Madison)!  I eventually found Mr. Madison and our friend Mr. Bodeen in the airport and we headed into the city.  Quito is full of many beautiful Catholic churches and Spanish architecture, and they have delicious empanadas, which are kind of like hot pockets.  The hotels here only cost about $15 a night instead of $100 like they do in the United States, but they are not as nice.  For example, our hostel in Quito didn´t have a shower head, it just had a pipe coming straight out of the bathroom wall!  The toilet was also VERY close to the wall, unlike our nice roomy bathrooms in the United States!
From Quito, we flew to the Galapagos Islands, where they have a bunch of animals that are endemic to the island, which means that´s the only place they live in the entire world.  I swam with dozens of colorful fish, basked in the sun with aquatic iguanas, and perched on a rocky ledge with blue footed booby birds.  Unfortunately, I also got a wicked sunburn, which made biking around island a bit more difficult!  I was also disappointed to see that no one on the island wears helmets when they ride their bikes, which is very dangerous.  I always tell my students to wear helmets, because they have important brains to protect, and that´s the same reason I always wear a helmet when I ride my bike.
The beaches on the island were beautiful, and the water was nice and warm.  We also went spelunking, or exploring in a long, dark cave. I ate grapefruit, oranges, bananas, and papaya fresh from the trees!  The bananas in the Galapagos are kind of an orange color, and they are very sweet. We were very sad to leave the islands, but we still had a lot of traveling to do!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In South America!

We made it to South America after a long and crazy set of flights!  Visit this website for a bunch of videos www.offexploring.com/theadventuresofmrsm