Sunday, November 30, 2014

South America Adventure - Part I - Phoenix/Quito

Oh boy, let's tackle the South America trip.

Meghan brought up Peru a few months before and wanted to go on a trip before she started grad school. We're both avid travelers but had never traveled together, so it was time. We booked our flights to Quito from Phoenix, so I had to get to AZ first.

Just in time for Friday night dinner with my favorite ladies at my favorite place. Terrible food photo, but man, I love Postino.

And I love Holly, Shannon, and Meghan.

Meghan used to live right next to the airport, but she had moved to a place far away. Not that far, but you know. I don't think we got much sleep, and then Kim got up crazy early to drive us back to the airport on Saturday morning. Off to Houston. Sleepy and delirious.

The Houston airport is full of old televisions.

And donuts.

And now, to Quito! We'd been taking altitude sickness meds for a bit at this point, and it makes you feel weird. We were so giggly.

We landed in Quito late Saturday night and went straight to our little sleeping place, Casa Puembo.  In 2013 a new airport was built outside the city (the old one had you landing right in the middle of Quito - scary!), and it's quite a ways to get in/out of Quito. Plan on 90 minutes via bus. Since we were only passing through for a day before heading on to Peru, it made sense to stay near the airport. There's still not a lot of accommodation and infrastructure out that way, so limited options, but Casa Puembo is great. Rodrigo picked us up at the airport and was just so nice.

As soon as the plane door had opened, I felt the altitude and heavy air. Harder to breathe! We were glad to just go to bed. The next morning Rodrigo arranged for a friend to drive us into the city (cheaper than a cab), and I'd found a sacrament meeting in the area we wanted to explore.

Even though it was a cloudy day and ended up raining, there's just so much color in Quito.

I stopped our driver next to a park near the church, and we walked over to catch sacrament meeting. Whoever was conducting the meeting came over to us before so he could announce our names over the pulpit and properly welcome us. It was a great testimony meeting. Meghan doesn't really speak Spanish, but I tried to translate. I love church in Spanish and I love that the wifi password is the same there.

Off to explore old Quito. Even walking a couple blocks up a slight incline, I was out of breath. Yikes. We started at the Basilica del Voto Nacional.


These tombs are always creepy to me.


While walking around, two of the security guards started talking to us. They wanted to know if we were single and if they could take us out dancing. They gave us their phone number and told us to call them.


We went up to the top floor and walked across this wobbly wooden plank to get to the roof.




This was a major tourist site and we really didn't see any people.  Where were they all?  We walked a bit further south to Plaza Grande and found the crowds and some sandwiches for lunch.






La Virgen de Panecillo. I'd heard you could walk up there, but it wasn't safe, and you should take a taxi and have them wait for you instead. Not worth it, I figured.


Hanging out at St Francisco.

This little boy kept blowing kisses and making cute faces at us. He had us laughing for several minutes. 


This could quickly turn into ABC - Another Bloody Cathedral. I'll try and spare you.

After finishing up in old town, we hopped a cab towards the new part of town - Plaza Foch. As you can see, they've gotten creative with use of that name.


We walked over to Parque El Ejido and tried to kick some kids off this sign so we could take photos.

I think we were about to give up, but then a moment caught us and we each got some photos with just us and Quito. And then we went to McDonald's for wifi and Instagram, of course.

Caught a cab back out to our Casa, shown below. We got back and the place was locked up - after ringing the doorbell and waiting, we decided to walk to the little store and have some ice cream. We were basically in the middle of nowhere, so not a lot to do. Half an hour later we tried again and were successful. Bedtime.

I remember some confusion at the airport with tickets and long lines and check in, but eventually we figured it out. Ah, foreign airport adventures.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Rest of May Adventures

I'd heard summer in Utah is wonderful, and I started to get a glimpse of that towards the end of May. I even went to the Patagonia outlet to get some outdoor gear (mostly just a backpack) to get into the outdoors. Who am I?

And then one day after work I decided to do a short little hike up Ensign Peak. It was pretty.





One night Amber and I tried to catch a film during the Mexican Film Festival at the Broadway, but the start time on the website was wrong, and we got there 45 minutes late. Boo. We had dinner at Copper Onion instead.

Then finally, 11 weeks after ordering, my beloved custom sofa was delivered! I've now had it for 6 months and I'm still just as in love. So are my friends - some have declared they'd like to marry it.

I wanted to stay home and sit on my couch that night, but I had tickets instead to see those girls from Haim rock out. And that they did.


A little Ruby Snap cookie action one night. Celisse had moved in with me temporarily around this time, and of course we had some SLC food exploring to do.

I'd heard good things about Kishi Bashi, and I'm glad I had tickets to see him. This was maybe my first show at Urban Lounge? I dig it. Fun night.

The next day Celisse and I went to see the last Ballet West performance of the season, and it was just amazing. I loved it so much, and I've got season tickets for this season.  Yeah, yeah, I watched their show and maybe wanted to see some of those people, but I really enjoy this art form.

With the purchase of my couch, I ended up with a gift certificate for a good chunk of change to Crate & Barrel. I treated myself to new things my house needed.

And Celisse got me a microwave and a toaster as a thank you gift for crashing my house. I love houseguests, especially nice ones like that.



I love my ward here - the bishop and his family are great - they leave me treats on my doorstep!

Celisse and I tried to find the Living Room hike one day and were unsuccessful. But this view wasn't so bad.

Wow. South America. About to happen.

Liz came into town for a friend's wedding and stayed at my house over Memorial Day weekend. I crashed the wedding reception and checked out the Tracy Aviary.



One more night hanging with the babe before I headed out of the country.


And the day I flew out, my long-awaited internet purchased rug arrived. Whew.

Skop-meh and the good parts of Macedonia

We arrived back in Skopje after that early bus ride from Prizren, and while we had to check out of our Airbnb apartment that morning, we we...