I proposed.

I proposed to my boyfriend in June. We were in Peru visiting the Incan ruins and I decided to propose marriage to him on the top of Huayna Picchu. It’s the tall mountain behind Machu Picchu ruins.  It takes about 45 minutes to climb to the top of the mountain.  It sits at ~9000 feet, and is ~1000 feet higher than Machu Picchu.

Let me back up and tell you how it started. In February, I thought about proposing. I am not sure why I thought about it, I never considered marriage very important, but I decided that it was something I would like to do. Then came the busiest spring of my life, and I did nothing propoal related but browse a few rings on etsy.com. By the time May came around, I realized I needed to push off proposing to another time. I had not planned enough, thought about how to do it, or even bought a ring.

Our trip to Peru started a few weeks later. Fast forward to our evening in Aguas Calientes, Peru with our guide. We had just finished a day long hike. I had just seen Machu Picchu for the first time and was feeling thrilled. Our guide walked us through the market on the way to dinner and I spotted a silversmith selling rings. Instantly, I regretted not figuring out this proposal.

While we sat at dinner, I started to figure out how to pull a proposal off. Was my very Peruvian guide homophobic? How could I get a ring? Should proposals be surprises or discussions?  I wrote my sister a note on my phone that said “Occupy Sam after dinner,” and decided to go for the surprise proposal. (Is that selfish or romantic? both?)

After dinner we decided to pick up some food for the next day. Sam started to buy chocolate and water from a store, and I announced I was going to go grab some empanadas and ran down the street. I ducked into the market and found the first silversmith booth. I scanned for men’s rings, found one I liked, paid in USD, and did not haggle. I was back in our group in under 10 minutes and no one questioned my lack of empanadas.

I decided not to tell anyone my plan in case I wanted to back out last minute. Backing out was not about fear of commitment, but about eclipsing a memory like Machu Picchu with a memory like one’s first engagement. I thought I could hold both memories equally, so decided to go through with it.  That was a bit arrogant. As much as I wanted to be in awe of Machu Picchu, my nervousness got in the way.   Today, there are parts of Machu Picchu that feel like a blur.

I had assumed the top of Huayna Picchu was flat, and I could make a formal proposal. It was not flat. It was a leaning rock that had very little space to sit on. We were on top of the world, it was a breath taking view, and I got down on one knee and asked him to marry me. Did I practice a great speech? Yes. Did I deliver a great speech? No. It was brief, I was nervous about falling down a mountain and/or him saying “no.” I didn’t fall and he said “yes”.

My sister and brother-in-law were there (surprised) to witness and record it. Our guide was also with us and about 10 other hikers that once can only assume were surprised. The other hiker’s applauded and our guide wished us a congratulations.

It was a really happy day for me.

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Peru 2016 – Day 8 & Conclusion

Day 8

It was a rainy day and I wanted to explore Lima’s Centro Historico. We took a taxi downtown to see the Plaza de Armas and the different buildings in that part of town. We followed a walking tour that we downloaded in an app. We stopped at Tanta for lunch, and went book shopping at the Librería El Virrey de Lima. It’s a lovely book store, and I would recommend to anyone who is already downtown.

We took a taxi back to Miraflores to check out the coast. We at stopped and had champagne and dessert at the Larcomar mall. It was all very elite and pretentious.

We made our way to our hotel and passed through Parque Kennedy one last time. This time it was full of people dancing and there were a lot of artists selling paintings. We split a sandwich from Sangucheria la Lucha. It was great! Philadelphia sandwich worthy.

The agency sent 2 people to take us to the hotel. Our guide and our driver. This seemed excessive and unnecessary.

Conclusion

I really loved seeing Machu Picchu.  When I moved away from Ecuador in 2009, I regretted never making time to go to Peru and see these ruins.  I was impressed by every step.  The agency was very good, but I would change a few things about it.  I wish our time with agency started and ended at the hotel in Cusco, and the Pachacamac ruins.  The airport transfers were unnecessary for a group of 4 young travelers, when 2 of us have some functional traveler’s Spanish.

If you really want an agency, use Andean Treks.   They put together a very good agenda.

Costs

  • Andean Treks = $1978
  • Internal Peruvian Flight = $390
  • International Flight = $662
  • Per Person Total = $3,020

Peru 2016 – Day 8 & Conclusion

Day 8

It was a rainy day and I wanted to explore Lima’s Centro Historico. We took a taxi downtown to see the Plaza de Armas and the different buildings in that part of town. We followed a walking tour that we downloaded in an app. We stopped at Tanta for lunch, and went book shopping at the Librería El Virrey de Lima. It’s a lovely book store, and I would recommend to anyone who is already downtown.

We took a taxi back to Miraflores to check out the coast. We at stopped and had champagne and dessert at the Larcomar mall. It was all very elite and pretentious.

We made our way to our hotel and passed through Parque Kennedy one last time. This time it was full of people dancing and there were a lot of artists selling paintings. We split a sandwich from Sangucheria la Lucha. It was great! Philadelphia sandwich worthy.

The agency sent 2 people to take us to the hotel. Our guide and our driver. This seemed excessive and unnecessary.

Conclusion

I really loved seeing Machu Picchu.  When I moved away from Ecuador in 2009, I regretted never making time to go to Peru and see these ruins.  I was impressed by every step.  The agency was very good, but I would change a few things about it.  I wish our time with agency started and ended at the hotel in Cusco, and the Pachacamac ruins.  The airport transfers were unnecessary for a group of 4 young travelers, when 2 of us have some functional traveler’s Spanish.

If you really want an agency, use Andean Treks.   They put together a very good agenda.

Costs

  • Andean Treks = $1978
  • Internal Peruvian Flight = $390
  • International Flight = $662
  • Per Person Total = $3,020

Peru 2016 – Day 7

Day 7

The agency sent a new guide and driver to pick us up in the morning to take us Pachacamac archeological site outside the city. I really liked the guide we went with on this excursion. She new a lot about the site, but she also spoke a lot about contemporary Peru. While we were there, the country was finishing a very tight Presidential election and she gave us a lot of insight into the current political makeup of the country.

I liked Pachacamac, because it was very different than the ruins we had seen in the Andeans for the last few days. It is a massive site, and much of it has not been excavated, additionally there is a very interesting museum. This excursion only take half of a day.

We asked our guide and driver to drop us off at the Mario Testino Museum in Barranco. Testino is a famous photographer, and I had heard about the museum in the New York times. We happened upon it on a special day. Local schools had each adopted a museum and elementary students were acting as the docents for each room of the museum. It was cute, and each child presented something unique about Testino.

We tried to do a walking tour we found online, but it wasn’t very good. We explored the neighborhood and found our way into an art gallery/shop that we could not afford. Then we stopped in Artesanias Las Pallas for some souvenir shopping. The eccentric owner is proud of her wares and very knowledgeable.

We ended the night at Central Restaurante in Lima. Central is a restaurant owned by Virgilio Martínez Véliz and frequently mentioned as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. We opted for the 17 course tasting menu. Each dish is is small (thankfully) and represents something that comes from a specific elevation in Peru. One course may be Octopus that represents -10 meters and the next may be quinoa representing 1800 meters. It is an extraordinary event.

I was fighting a cold, so I struggled with tasting some things. I would also suggest trying the 12 course version rather than the 17. This is not a critique on the price, but on the amount of food. I would have felt better leaving feeling full and not stuffed. I would recommend anyone to do this if you are in Lima.

Day 8 is our last day in Peru.

Peru 2016 – Day 6

Day 6

We woke up in Cusco and went out for breakfast. Today we were flying back to Lima, so we were relaxing a little bit. We ended up at a small restaurant called “Museo del cafe”. There was an exhibit about coffee which was interesting, but the food was very good and the coffee was exquisite. Sam fell in love with the tomato jam that they served with toast and Spencer chickened out on the “American” breakfast. It seemed glutinous by any standard.

We flew back to Lima around lunch time and stayed in the neighborhood of Miraflores. The agency had someone pick us up and drive us to the hotel. In reality, we really only needed the driver. The guide was nice, but we were fully capable of checking into our hotel on our own.

We stayed at the Hotel Estelar in Miraflores. It was a perfectly nice hotel, and the top floor had a bar and a dining room. We enjoyed a complimentary pisco sour when we first arrived and then made our way out to to explore.

Miraflores is a wealthy Latin American neighborhood, that tourists will feel comfortable walking around in. We walked around and found Parque Kennedy. This park has hundreds of cats walking around! They do not look like beat up old strays. Locals are sitting on benches and the grass playing with the cats. It was a pretty wild scene.

We had drinks at a nice restaurant called Saqra and then dinner at a place called Haiti. I really liked Haiti. The food wasn’t spectacular, but it was good and we sat outside to watch the city. It was a fun night.

After dinner, we took a taxi to Barranco to listen to some music. We ended up at a bar called La Noche. The music had not started and none of us felt like paying the cover, so we sat in the bar. Enjoyed a beer and headed back to the hotel for some early sleep.

Onward to day 7.