Cusco & Machu Picchu- South America Part 4

Machu Picchu! We made it!

Hola my friends and welcome back to part four of my South American adventure.

In my last post I was in Bolivia, this part of the trip is heading to Peru, where we got to see beautiful Cusco and the majestic Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was the main reason we had decided to visit South America. I must admit that the entire trip had been amazing, but I was excited to be heading to our next destination!

To get to Cusco we continued the journey by overnight bus with Bolivia hop. We had been told that it was safer and more convenient to travel across the border with a tour group. That way if there were any complications with the border crossing you had a Bolivian tour guide to help you out. The Bolivian and Peruvian border crossing wasn’t too far from Copacabana, it was a long process, but we breezed on through.

Hola Peru!

After the border crossing we hit the road for the overnight journey we had ahead. We had one stop in Puno for a meal and then there was no stopping until we arrived into Cusco, our destination!

Cusco is a beautiful city, it is full of well preserved colonial architecture and Inca history. It is inspiring to wander around the city and take in all the history it has to offer.

Plaza de Armas (Cusco square).

During our first morning in Cusco, we were lucky enough to see celebrations for the Peruvian Independence day. All law enforcement and national police were marching and celebrating in the Plaza de Armas (Cusco square). It was great to see how passionate and patriotic they are about their national Independence day.

We spent a couple of days enjoying Cusco, we went on a walking tour and learnt about the history of city and viewed Inca ruins that are found throughout the City. Some of the sights we saw and visited were; the 12-sided stone, Calle loreto, San pedro market and the witches market. We also visited the Qorikanch museum and the Choco Museo (chocolate museum). Now if you know me well, you know I love chocolate. The chocolate museum offered a pretty cool experience where you could make chocolate from scratch, starting from the cacao bean. It was a lot of fun, there was a lot of chocolate taste testing and of course we got to take home the finished product.

After a lovely few days in Cusco, it was time to embark onto our next adventure, our trek to MACHU PICCHU!!!

I had been waiting four years for this part of our journey and I was excited to be actually living it. I had set a goal when I first became unwell with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), that when I recovered and got better I would visit Machu Picchu and complete a walk while being there. It was actually happening!!!!

Around 4 am in the morning our friendly guide Hector from Head Expeditions turned up to take us on our trek to Machu Picchu. We caught the shuttle bus with him from Cusco to Ollantayambo, were grabbed a quick breakfast and then made our way down to the train station, to jump on the train to our treks starting point.

The train ride offered beautiful views of the mountain ranges. The roof of the train was a see-through dome, which made the views on offer more enjoyable. Our train ride finished at the 104 km Inca trail point, which meant this was where we started our hiking adventure!

View from the Inka Trail.

Hector checked us in at the check point and then we were off on our hike. It was a beautiful day to be out walking, the sun was out and the temperature was lovely. The trail was incredible, most of the actual trail is still in its original form from Inca construction. We reached the Inca site of Winay Wayna (Forever Young). It was so fascinating learning and seeing how the Inca’s lived. The views during the hike were spectacular, we saw small rural farms, mountains, waterfalls, Inca ruins, there was also evidence of where a few landslides had been. I felt like we were pretty high up, we had climbed roughly 600 meters. The highest point we hiked up too was 2750 m, this was at Inti Punku (Sun Gate). After 10k’s of hiking, completed in record time according to our guide Hector, we climbed up the final stairs up to Inti Punku (Sun Gate). This is where we were treated to our first view of the majestic Machu Picchu.

It was absolutely breath taking! We had the best view of this beautiful ancient city. We made our way down to Machu Piccu and enjoyed a little bit of time down there before heading down on a 7km trek to Angus Calientes. When we arrived at our hotel in Angus Calientes, a shower, meal and a good rest was much welcomed.

We wanted to try and catch Machu Picchu at sunrise, so the next morning we were up at 2.30 am to line up for the bus that would take us up to Machu Picchu for sunrise. Unfortunately that morning it was quite cloudy, which meant we were unable to see the sunrise. What we did see though was low cloud over Machu Picchu giving it a misty and magical look. It was a completely different look from yesterday’s sunny skies.

Our tour guide Hector gave us a guided tour around the beautiful ancient city before the crowds arrived. After the tour we said our goodbyes to Hector and then made our way over to Wayna Picchu aka Huayna Picchu to climb.

Wayna Picchu was one steep and challenging climb! The stairs were a lot like those we had experienced the previous day on the Inca trail, however the climb was much steeper. By the time we had reached the top of Wayna Picchu, the low cloud had lifted a bit. We were almost up in the clouds and had been rewarded with the most amazing views.

After enjoying our snackbox lunch and the beautiful views from Wayna Picchu, we made our way back down. On our way down we came across an elderly lady on her way up. She was almost at the top, it was so inspiring to see her giving it ago. Just goes to show you can do anything if you put you mind to it! After we made it down from Wayna Picchu we made a couple of llama friends and then it was time to leave beautiful Machu Picchu.

The look out from the top of Wayna Picchu aka Huayna Picchu.

When we got back down to Angus Calientes, we had a little bit of time to wander around and enjoy a meal before catching our train and shuttle back to Cusco.

I loved every minute of our time in Machu Picchu. The walks were hard work at times, but I enjoyed every moment of it. It was challenging, rewarding and great a learning experience.

When we arrived back to Cusco we only had a day left, we made the most of our last day there and enjoyed some delicious food. My favourite places to eat were; Mr Soup, Jacks and Orginika. Fresh, healthy and just delicious!!!

We made sure to get a well deserved massage and then spent the rest of the day relaxing and wandering around the city.

Peru you were amazing! I loved Cusco and Machu Picchu you made my dreams come true!

Adiós Peru, it’s time to head to my final destination!!!

Lennae xxx

Looking out over Cusco.
Winay Wayna (Forever Young).
Selfies at Inti Punku (Sun Gate).
Machu Picchu!
Machu Picchu the next day.
Llama Friends.

Hola Buenos Aires! – South America Part 1

The Obelisk, Buenos Aires.

 

Hola my friends, how are you all? I hope all is well! I have been a little delayed with getting back to my world of blogging, but am now back to catch up and fill you in on all my on goings!

I have loads to catch up on and fill you all in on. The most important thing I want to share with you all now, is my awesome adventure to South America!

As some of you may know travelling to South America has been a goal of my ever since I became unwell with ME/CFS. The fact that I was able to get to this point and visit was huge!!!  I will be writing about my adventure over a few posts, so let’s get started and onto the good stuff……

After a 12 hour flight, from Sydney to Santiago, then a 3 hour delay at the Santiago airport and getting to know it (spoiler alert it’s not that big), then our connecting flight of 2 hours to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We had finally arrived at our Destination! Welcome to BUENOS AIRES BABY!

Feeling very tired, foggy minded and only just managing to keep our eyes open, we jumped into a taxi and headed to our hotel in downtown Buenos Aires. The drive was an experience, but we were yet to learn that was nothing compared to the Bolivian drivers in La Paz.

Luckily, we arrived during the evening, so as soon as we arrived at our hotel it was heads to pillows. Due to travelling through 12 time zones in the opposite direction, our body clocks were all over the place, this lead to a lot of ridiculous early rises over the next few days.

The weather was mostly wet and rainy and it was the middle of Winter. Thankfully we invested in some waterproof windbreakers and made good use of them, by hitting the city and exploring the streets of Buenos Aires.

Some of the attractions and areas we explored were;

The colourful suburb of La Boca, worth a visit to enjoy the atmosphere and markets. If you’re a football fan this is definitely the place for you with this suburb being the home ground to the famous Boca Juniors.

Plaza de Mayo, the government square, usually there are protest’s etc. It appeared we had missed the on going’s, however when we visited, the riot squad were still lingering around.

La Recoleta Cemetery, the famous cemetery where the rich and famous are buried. This cemetery is located in the suburb of Recoleta, it is a lovely suburb to visit and looks a lot like New York city in the movies. The tombstones at the cemetery are out of this world!

Palacio Barolo, it has beautiful views of the city. It has a lighthouse on top of the building that is worth climbing up the tiny staircase and into as the city views are amazing. During this visit we enjoyed a tour of the building and this is where I started to really learn about the Spanish and their inquisition.

Puente de la Mujer Bridge, enjoy a walk along the river set among some lovely restaurants.

Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. The road has 7 lanes running on each side, whilst also having trams and buses run through the middle.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid, the beautiful book shop that once was a theatre. Having lunch at the cafe on stage was a lovely treat, while admiring the beautiful store.

Floralis Generica and the Obelisk are also must see attractions.

One of my favourite things about Buenos Aires was the cafe culture. I don’t usually drink coffee, but I found myself indulging in coffee and enjoying the cafe culture the city bought. I have heard people say Buenos Aires is the Europe of South America and I can now see why.

Buenos Aires, you were a real treat, you were friendly and chilled out, you were patient with us while we struggled with our Spanish! You were the best start for the beginning of our South American adventure. You also introduced us to Dulce de leche aka caramel sauce (which goes on everything),  Maté Tea aka yerba and proved that Argentinians know how to do amazing Steaks.

Until next time, Adiós Buenos Aires and Adiós my friends! I need to get writing about the next part of my South American adventure!

Ps: Here’s a couple of snaps below.

Lennae xxx

 

La Boca.

 

Puente De La Mujer
El Ateneo Grand Splendid.
Plaza de mayo.
View from the top of Palacio Barolo.

Goal kicking 4 years on!

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash

It occurred to me that I’ve just hit my ME/CFS anniversary and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve kicked it to the curb! This past year has been filled with a bit of goal kicking and it’s not stopping anytime soon! Yeooow!!!

Four years ago, I can still vividly remember how my health went downhill fast.  The first year was the hardest, I barely had wins and as much as I tried to keep positive it was hard.  I held onto goals and put up pictures of things that symbolised my goals. I convinced myself that I would achieve these goals one day…….even though at the time, it seemed hard to believe. I held onto the idea and kept it for when I needed it the most.

Finally, I have achieved a number of these goals. I am extremely proud, to say four years on I am celebrating and smashing my goals! The hard work has paid off and most of all, the illness is no longer ruling my world.

A huge victory is that I am heading to South America in a few days, yep you heard right!!! It’s literally days away. South America became a long-term goal of mine when I become unwell. Most of my close family and friends know this and probably got sick of me saying one day I’m going to go when I get better! Haha well that day has finally arrived and I am pinching myself! I really can’t believe it has arrived.

It is very random how it all came about, it happened to be in my very early days of my illness. At the time, the doctors still didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I was trying to keep positive throughout the whole ordeal and I decided to make an inspiration board of what I was going to do or work towards when I got well enough. The picture of Machu Picchu came to me, I had no desire to visit it before. But that image of Machu Picchu stuck with me and I thought to myself ” I’m going, when I’m well enough.”

And it’s been with me ever since.

City2surf is another big thing that I have been working towards, which I’m excitedly fit enough for. City2surf is happening in August which I am excited to be competing in the event and I have also been fundraising for it. The charity I have chosen to fundraise for is emerge, they are an Australian based charity that dedicates themselves to raising awareness and funds to research for ME/CFS.

Returning to work and working like a normal person would, was another big goal. DONE! This also includes other living “like a normal person” life goals again. DONE!

My next ass kicking goal will be a tough one and means heading back to school! Bring it on!

It’s not until you lose something, that really puts things and life into prospective for you.

Any way my friends it’s time for me to love and leave you, I need to go pack!

Can’t wait to tell you all about my South American adventure.

Much love

Lennae xxx

Photo by Abraham Osorio on Unsplash

Walking with ME

Walking with a view, Woonona beach, NSW.
Walking with a view, Woonona beach, NSW.

During the early days of my illness with ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ Chronic fatigue syndrome) moving proved to be very difficult, my body was weak and heavy. I’m in my third year of recovering with ME/CFS and here is how I have managed to get moving again. Please note that although I have found this to help me, it may not be ideal for you. Everyone is different and this illness affects everyone differently.

When my doctor referred me to an exercise physiologist to help with my recovery, I was confused and didn’t understand why… “how could I exercise if I could barely hold myself up?”  This being my only option from my doctor, I went and gave it a go.

At the exercise physiologist I was given a couple of exercises and was told to start walking, this sounded like pure torture. I did want to get better, which meant I was willing to give anything a go.

The exercises I did off and on, but the walking I have kept and maintained since day one.  I started off with a walk down my driveway; to the mailbox and up and down 2 small flights of stairs. That was me done! I struggled up the stairs, while breathing heavily. Gradually I started shuffling a 5 minute walk to the beach. It was literally two blocks away and took me 10 minutes to get there. I started this walk with someone each time,  I was too scared to go by myself  and scared that I would fall over and be too weak to pick myself up if I ever needed to. I would stop when I got to the beach and get a chai latte. Usually I would need to rest for around half an hour before  heading back again. When I got confident I started do this walk on my own, I remember the first time I was out on my own and I was shuffling along and an elderly man passed me, I was so disheartened. The old me would have lapped that elderly man, twice!

I started to walk around 2 – 4 times a week, this become the highlight of my day and even week.  I would look forward to it, it became good for my physical health and mental health. If I could manage a small walk on my struggle day’s, then that was something and something is better than nothing. There were days where I didn’t want to do it though deep down I knew that if I got out into the fresh air I would feel better for it and I always did.

I remember one occasion I was having a bad day, I was feeling down and had no motivation to face my walk. I was mentally struggling and it was late in the afternoon. I thought to myself I need to do this walk today, I got myself together and slowly made my way down to the beach. When I finally got there, I ordered my chai latte, sat down and looked out over the ocean. I was rewarded with the beautiful sight of whales splashing around in the distance. I was so happy and proud that I had made it down, it was such an amazing reward.

After almost a year of this, things got easier and we moved into a different area.  We lived close to some shops that were under a 5 minute walk. I would walk up there, run an errand or two, have a chai latte and sit down then walk back when I was ready. Gradually I didn’t need to sit down and rest, I would find that I would be walking around for 20 – 30 minutes easily.

That’s when I took on a new challenge of walking Snow. We only had her for a few months, after a bit of walking practice around the backyard.  I started to feel comfortable walking her. We started our walks and got into a habit of walking 2 – 3 times a week, walking around a few streets in the area that would take me around 20 – 30 minutes depending on how I was.

When I returned back to work I had to make sure not to push things. Usually when I went for a walk it would be on my days off and the walk would range from 20 – 30 minutes. I took her on longer walks when we would go to the beach, they were always at a strolling pace. Beach walks were good to add in as the terrain is a bit harder to walk on. This helped build strength, we would bring Snow along to the beach and I started off by walking a quarter of the way and then back. Every-time I would go, I would assess how I felt and then turn around and walk back. Eventually after doing this for just over 24 months I made it to the end and back comfortably.

I have managed to build up a solid pace from the shuffle that I use to do back in my earlier days.  I now can complete regular walks weekly ranging from 2 – 5 times a week. I always assess how I am each day and during the week, if it feels like too much then that’s ok, I limit what I do.

I recently completed my first walking event since illness, it was 6 km’s and I completed it in 54 minutes (click here for details). My goal is to complete CITY2SURF I did it back in 2012 and loved it, due to illness I haven’t been able to do it since. It’s 14 km’s, fingers crossed next year is my year for it!!!

I believe walking can help on so many levels, do you enjoy walking or find helpful at all? Have you noticed any progress over time with your walking? I would love to hear all about it!

Lennae xxx

Walking and resting,
Walking and resting.
Snowy and I at the 3k Million Paws walk 2015.
Snow and I at the 3k Million Paws walk 2015.
We love walks when this is the view, East Corrimal, NSW.
We love walks when this is the view, East Corrimal, NSW.
Snowy in her element.
Snow in her element.
Walk selfies at the park.
Walk selfies at the park.

Keep Trying!

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on how I’m travelling and to be honest it’s been a bit of a bumpy past 6 weeks with my ME/CFS. I guess it should to be expected though, you should never under estimate the power of your chronic illness (especially when you don’t listen to your body). So here’s an update on my happenings.

I had been increasing my hours at work and I managed to get up to working 8 hours over 2 days a week. Excitement overload! I was working 4 hours a day, that’s half a day!

Being able to work again felt great, but working only 8 hours was starting to not be good enough. In my mind I wanted to be able to work more. My mind was racing well ahead to what I wanted to be doing, rather than what I should be doing. All I wanted to do was keep pushing and eventually I would be at my current goal of working 15 hours a week. In theory it sounded easy enough. I wanted to keep pushing myself to my limit and that meant that I wasn’t taking notice of the fact that I was going to push a little too hard and crash.

Well that happened, straight after I realised maybe I should just calm it down a bit. After pushing through a day at work, I struggled to recover back from it. I thought I would need one week off to rest, but that turned into five!

All I can say is lesson is learnt! It’s all well and good to push yourself, but sometimes you need to take a step back and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

After 5 weeks off with lots of rest and time to reflect here’s what I learnt;

Patience. You will get to where you want to be eventually, it just takes time.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

Be kind to yourself. We are our biggest critic of ourselves, how about giving yourself a kind compliment instead of beating yourself up all the time.

Listen to your body. Yes it does communicate with you, make sure you listen to it!

Don’t give up. No matter how much this situation may feel like it is dragging on, it won’t last forever so keep trying, you will get there!

On that note I went back to work last week and managed a couple of hours, it felt great to be back at it again. I’m back at the start but that’s ok, I know I will get to where I want to be eventually. It might not be today or tomorrow but it will happen.

Much love,

Lennae xxx

photo credit: Hope via photopin (license)
photo credit: Hope via photopin (license)
photo credit: quote #63 via photopin (license)
photo credit: quote #63 via photopin (license)