Thursday, June 14, 2018

DAY 3- Fishing, ant attack and travel day

We only had a few hours this day so we went fishing in the morning for our lunch and then went on a jungle hike/walk. We had no luck fishing, but it was a good thing that the locals did because they brought a giant net and were able to catch us lunch! After a couple hours of that we headed out into the jungle. It was really pretty and fun to be out in the amazon. We were talking with a few of the girls and I felt something bite my neck..and suddenly I felt ants crawling and biting all over my head! I started freaking out and made Sam and a few of the girls look in my hair and they pulled out at least 15 ants that had been biting my head. My the end, the bun on top of my head turned into a mop and I finally calmed down and we got back to the walk. We found a giant swing and played on it for a while. Then we headed back to camp and packed up to catch our flight to Cochabamba. I would say that our time in the Amazon was well spent and I had to keep pinching myself to see if it was a dream!

We all made it through the airport and flight and were welcomed by our local coordinator Luis, he is the man! We were now in the city of Cochabamba and jumped on our bus and headed straight to dinner. We went to a hotel and we were the only ones in the restaurant, it was really fancy! We are a traditional Bolivian meal and I had no idea what it was, but everyone loved it! We met the Catholic Priest who is in charge of the Orphanage that we would be working on the next week and enjoyed dinner together. It was fun to get acquainted and talk about the project. After dinner we headed back to our hostel and it is so beautiful! It was pretty late but there were so many things to do, so the kids played volleyball, talked in the hammocks, played the piano and cards and we had our first official night in the city!

DAY 2 in Chuchini

We woke up this morning and got dressed for a day on the river! They told us that we would be swimming in the very water that we caught alligators in the night before...and even though it was a little unsettling at first, I knew that we wouldn't be doing anything if it was too dangerous so we just trusted our guides! We ate breakfast right by the river and hung out in hammocks while studying the scriptures before heading out and it was so peaceful. After breakfast, we jumped on the boat and looked for different animals. We were the only people on the entire river it felt like. We sat on the boat and started really getting to know our kids which was super fun! We saw monkeys, all sorts of birds, capybaras, fish, pink dolphins and an anaconda. Not only did we see the giant snake but I held it!! It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time.

After a few hours on the water we stopped at what seemed like a private island. We jumped off the boat and were excited to play in the sand. Little did we know, that sand was actually quick sand which then turned into mud. It was so fun to play around and then our guide threw a chunk of mud at me which was the begging of a mud war! At first the kids were hesitant to join in, but after a little everyone was covered in mud and we were playing capture the flag and all DRENCHED in mud. We played there for hours on end and then enjoyed a nice lunch on the sand. We hung out for the rest of the afternoon and got some good sun, played games and hung out. It was our favorite day! After a few more hours, we jumped back on the boat and this time I sat on top of the boat on a lawn chair with Kate, Emma, and Sam. It was beautiful from the top and we had an amazing view of the river, trees and animals. We played games, did riddles and watched the sun set over the river and it was truly an unforgettable moment. We were almost home and decided to stop and fish for Piranas for a little...and unfortunately fishing is not our forte, so we headed back to the hostel. We showered and got ready for dinner and a night at the museum. The family that hosted us had found hundreds of ancient artifacts and skulls of things found 8,000 years BC. It was really amazing to learn about all of it! After that we played card games, werwolf and had girl talk before heading to bed. It was such a great day!

Airports, Amazon and Alligators!

Have you ever traveled with a group of 23 people to a brand new country? It was crazy to say the least! The kids all met up and we had some pizza for dinner and waited around until we could check in for our flight. When we were waiting, we were getting to know each other a little bit and playing games. As we started checking our bags through security, my Spanish was immediately put to the test! We were checking in with the Bolivian airline and I was in front of the line of 19 youth, and some of them had never traveled alone or out of the country before so I wanted to make sure it was a smooth experience. It was pretty stressful trying to get everyone's bags checked in, but we were finally able to and we breezed right through security. We took another red eye flight through the night and made it to Bolivia around 6am which was 4am in the states. So we moved around in zombie-like fashion and made it to our connecting flight. We had a longish layover in Santa Cruz so we met up with a friend named Brigham. He took up to breakfast where we ate empanadas and all sorts of bread. It was nice to get out of the airport after 24 hours. We drove around for a couple hours to kill time and then headed back to catch our next flight. We flew from Santa Cruz to Trinidad which was only a couple hours away.

When we landed in Trinidad, the airport was so tiny it felt like a car wash or something of the sort. We were so tired, but then we met up with our host Ephraim and we loaded up in a bus, van and jeep! We were kind of confused but we just rolled with it. I jumped in the jeep with 3 other girls and it literally felt like jumped into a real life game of Jumanji! It was so run down and bumpy as we began our on-land part of the journey to get to the amazon. We bounced up and down in the jeep for about 30 minutes and were enjoying all of the greenery, it is so beautiful here!! After the bumpy jeep ride, we all met up again and took our luggage down a huge dirt hill and onto a BOAT! Turns out the place we stayed at was a hostel in the middle of the jungle and we had to take a boat to get there. The ride was so peaceful and right from the start we saw so many different types of animals. We were on the boat for about an hour and finally got to our destination after two days of traveling! We pulled up and were greeted by a Swiss lady and her family. They had fresh orange juice for us and showed us to our room.

Even though we were exhausted, we didn't want to waste any time so we had dinner right away and then headed to ALLIGATOR hunting! We jumped on the boat and headed out for a night on the water with our headlamps and flashlights. At first I thought we were just going to be looking for alligators and watch them, but our friend Ephraim caught them with his bare hands! Throughout the night he probably caught about 10, it was un-real. I had never seen anything like it. We all took turns passing the alligator around like it was a newborn baby haha. I was way scared but SO glad that I held it! I was one of the last ones so I threw it back into the water. I had to rub it's belly to make it more calm before dropping it back in the water. It was honestly such a hilarious experience! We laughed until we cried and also cried because we were so nervous but it was amazing! I would say the Amazon welcomed us with open arms.


On to the next adventure which is BOLIVIA! I am stoked to be a party of Humanitarian Experience for Youth or HEFY. Here's a little background. I applied to be a trip leader when I was back in China and ended up being chosen a few months later. The time has finally come and we are on our way. Leading up to the trip, I met my co trip leader Sam and right from the start we were so excited to be trip leaders and instantly became best friends. We had to get Visas, do CPR certifications and lots of background checks, but we checked everything off the list and headed to Trip Leader Training. We went to the Zermatt resort in Midway, Utah and met all the other amazing people that were also headed on trips this summer. It was so fun to meet people who love the youth and love traveling as much as we did! We learned so much and I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing for the summer.  So here we are now!

Last night I had two red eye flights, from SLC to Orlando then from there to Miami, I met a few boys that were headed to Argentina for their trips and it was fun to run around the airport together even though we kept getting lost haha. But here we are now and I am anxiously waiting to meet my group of kids! Sam has been in Japan for the past week so he will be flying around the same time they are. I am so excited to get this thing rollin. I have a 14 hour layover and have been running out of things to do while waiting here. The builders should be getting here soon and I  can't wait to meet them!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trains on trains on trains 

So i am now sitting on my last train back to Guzhen!! It really feels like I am going home, because it's been mine for 3 months now so I love the feeling. But I just had to say that the sleeper train was soooo much better coming back than it was going there!! I was able to get a sleeper bed, so I actually slept pretty well. We boarded around 5pm on Sunday and got to Guangzhou at 7am this morning. I was able to sit by my friends for a while and it was so fun! We loaded up on snacks and good chocolate AND I found Diet Coke!!!! It is a really rare gem to find here in I bought 3 cans and am saving them for when I need it after a long day of teaching. 

I love all of the girls that I am with here! You definitely get close to people when you are going though hard times, so I'm grateful for all of the friendships that I have made here. With my American friends as well as the random travelers we've met from all over, and of course our Chinese teachers and helpers. 

My heart is seriously so full, and I am at peace with where I'm at in this journey. The last few weeks have been really hard because Lily ended up having to go back home to the states. So I've been really sad without her for the last few days, but at the same time happy because she is home with my momma and can be seen by better doctors. I'm so thankful for this trip!! And looking forward to a few more before my time is up here! 
Avatar Mountains!! 

Day two in mountain paradise!! Okay so today we went to the avatar mountains! They literally look exactly like the ones in the animated movie with the blue avatars, i will try to find pics of that so you can see haha. But the views were UN. REAL. Even though they were only an hour away from the mountains yesterday, the vibe was totally different. Also, it was a lot less foggy so we were able to see a lot more! We finally got to experience all of the fall colors and it was absolutely beautiful!

The crazy thing about this park was that it was HUGE and so confusing, it would be like going to Zions national park for one day and trying to see everything, and navigate the bus system in a different it was kind of hard but getting lost is our forte now haha. So we entered into the park and stumbled into MONKEY paradise!! It was the last thing we expected but it was so cool.

There were monkeys everywhere...and I mean everywhere. At first they were sort of shy, but once we accidentally pulled out a granola bar, they came down in packs of 20. They would just run around us and open our backpacks...they are so smart! All was fun and games until they started growling at the end and followed us out of there. I learned to never make a monkey angry because then I was just walking in straight fear!! Once we left there we hopped onto a bus in hope of finding the cable cars to take us up the mountain. 

We made our way to a giant set of stairs, and started walking up not knowing where it would lead, little did we know MORE monkeys would be joining us on the path, and as cute as they were, we were scared at this point so we just booked it up the stairs! We made it to a little village, took another bus and then ended up at the cable cars. We took one all the way up to the top and finally saw some of the mountains. It was breath taking!!! Seriously something that I wish everyone could see with their own eyes. 

We got lost again and jumped on about 10 different buses trying to find a good lookout spot, and we came upon one by accident of course and it was pure magic! I wish I could explain how high up we were, but just trust me it was such a huge mountain! After waking and hiking around and taking pics with 173895 strangers, we played in the rain and headed down. 

To get down we took an outdoor glass elevator!!! Again, the tallest one in the world! My friend and I were right at the front of it, and it was so cool to go from the tip top to the bottom of these mountains in 2 minutes. We made new friends with these cute old people in line, and I showed them how to use Snapchat..also a highlight of my day!! Maybe I'll try to post a video on here because it made my heart so happy. 

Then we walked down and got lost again, in the rain, and it was soooo cold and getting dark at this point. We were about to just call it and find a taxi home, but we looked up and finally saw a sign for the bus!!! It was honestly a miracle. So we got on the bus and headed an hour and a half back into town. It was such a good day!! China never ceases to amaze me. 


Okay we have had some really cool vacations, but this is seriously one for the books!! It was also a really last minute trip for me so I am so so thankful that I was able to go, thank you to my mom and everyone that made it possible. 

First of all, we had to take a bus from Guzhen to the train station, one train to the metro, to another SLEEPER train over night. But since I bought my tickets so last minute I didn't get a bed, so I had to sit in a straight up chair for 15 hours, away from my friends, and people were smoking and slurping on their noodles and talking SO loud but it's okay because I survived and I never have to do that again hahahah. We made it to ZHANGJIAJIE (pronounced zong jah jeeah) the next morning and then checked into our hostel that I scored for only 10 bucks a night! 

The first day we went to tianemen mountain, and if you are ever planning on coming to china, this is a MUST. seriously like changing. So we took a cable car-the longest one in the world actually-through the city and up into the mountains. It was a really foggy day so it felt like we were literally in the clouds. After 30 minutes we made it to the top and there was seriously so much to see. We walked around and got lost a few times but through that, we ended up seeing some of the coolest things! 

So we walked on the edge of a cliff essentially, and you couldn't even see the surrounding mountains because it was so foggy and eerie, it felt like we were in a movie, or like heaven it was so surreal. We walked across a glass bridge so we could see all the way down and it was soooo far down to the bottom. 

Then my favorite part....I have always wanted to dress up in traditional clothes and there was a beautiful red dress and crown and I knew that I had to try it on. So I did and it was SO fun!! I was dancing around on the top of this mountain and literally felt like a queen. The cutest group of old ladies came up and they were taking pictures and videos and it was priceless. Seriously one of the highlights of my entire time here!! 

Then we walked a little further down and stumbled upon the forest of wishes. There were tons and tons of ribbons decorating the trees, so we decided to put our wishes on there too. We walked up to the very top and I found a branch that didn't have one because I felt bad for I wanted it to feel some love. And there lies my wish! It was so peaceful and there was a sacred feeling about that place. People from all over the world put their wishes, desires and prayers up there and you could really feel that. It was so peaceful, and I just closed my eyes and tried to soak in the moment. 

After that we kept hiking/dancing along the trails, and found a huge bridge! It was so foggy, you couldn't see where it led to. Then we ran into a little maze, so that was fun to go through. We also saw a giant temple where people would put heart locks on, with their loved ones. There were locks everywhere and it was so beautiful!! 

A little ways down we found 5 temples, and a lot of different statues, there were people praying and lighting incense, and it started to rain so it was a sight to see! After that we headed to a giant natural hole in the mountain, it's called the stairway to heaven! Since we were at the top we had to take 10 escalators down to get to the giant hole, it was breathtaking! 

Once we got to the top we had to walk down 1,000 stairs...which is better than walking up it but here's a secret about me. I have a fear of walking down stairs because one time I was walking down holding a toddler and I slipped and broke my foot (don't worry the little girl was okay) and that was yearssss ago but I still freak out going down stairs!!! So 1,000 was quite a struggle and my feet didn't fit on them because they were tiny and SO steep. So I held on to the rails and took my sweet sweet time getting down hahah so many people tried to help me but I just did my own thing. And I MADE IT DOWN. 

Then we had to take a bus down the mountain down the curly roads, there are literally 99 turns, and they are so sharp!! So I closed my eyes since we would get so close to the other buses and we made it down. I felt so peaceful up on that mountain though, it was so refreshing!! What a day!