Thursday, August 24, 2017

Spain 2017

Saturday, May 20

After my event in Burlington, Vermont my boss Mike Schaefer had to rush me to the airport. I had to change in the truck on the way there ha once I got there, I was flying Jet Blue and so I had to find their check in and get my bag checked. I made it to the gate about ten minutes before we started boarding haha close call. It was only like an hour and a half flight to JFK and I passed out. I sat next to this guy that when I told him I was in the window seat, he stood up and didn't sit down until I was all situated and then he said, you good? I was like yep. Haha when I woke up after we had landed, he was talking to himself. Weird guy. Once we landed in JFK I had to go get my baggage and then go re-check in on Delta. JFK is going through a lot of construction right now and it is a MESS to get through. I finally found the terminal that Delta was in and was able to check my bag in and then I had like 4 hours until I took off so I went to the Sky club. My mom was already in Barcelona with her coworker Blaine and Blaine's wife Robin was in JFK so I texted her (she was going to be my travel buddy while my mom worked) and she came to the Sky club with me. We sat in this "serenity" room with lounging chairs and calming images on the televisions ha Robin ended up not being able to get on my flight so she had to get on a flight to Madrid and then take a train so she left and then after a little while, some of my coworkers showed up (Aniko, Anda, Nick, Garrett, Taylor) and Jeff! He had worked the Danbury, Connecticut event and they were flying out of JFK. So I was happy I got to see him before I left :) and he brought me Panda! We had to sneak it in to the Sky club. Haha we hung out for a bit and then I had to go board. We said our goodbyes and I got on the plane. I fell asleep almost immediately. And stayed asleep until they served food (ravioli) and after I ate, I passed back out again until we landed haha 6 hour and 52 minute flight done like THAT. Haha it was great. 

Sunday, May 21 

I landed in Barcelona at 9:15am. The customs line took FOREVER. I didn't get out of the airport until 10:45am. It was insane! Then I had to find the Aerobus. Once I found it, I boarded and my hotel was at the first stop. Nuskin put us up in a four star hotel called Catalonia Hotel Barcelona Plaza. My mom wasn't responding to my texts or calls so I said her name to the front desk and they gave me a key. I just chilled in the room until she got back around 11:45am and then we went to La Sagrada Familia with Blaine. Robin wasn't there yet. We took the metro and when we came out of the tunnel, La Sagrada Familia was towering behind us. It was awesome! It's both old and new architecture mixed! So weird. It was Gaudi's most famous architecture and he wasn't able to finish it so other architects have been creating everything the way that he wanted it. They are supposed to be done in 2026. We walked around the pond in front of it because we were early and the pond had disgusting water. Ha then we went inside for our audio tour. It was pretty insane. Old mixed with new and everything was symbolic. The inside was huge! Each column symbolized a tree and was made from different material. The stain glass windows were beautiful! After our tour, we walked to Casa Mìla aka La Pedrera and got a Sprite along the way. This was another Gaudi creation. He was hired out to create an apartment complex. It was a pretty nice place! After we did the audio tour there we took the metro to the Picasso museum. We were late for our time slot but they still let us in. Tickets were free on sundays but you still had to reserve a ticket. Robin met us there and we wandered around looking at all of the art pieces. We kinda rushed through because none of us super appreciate art ha after the museum, we split from Robin and Blaine and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the FC Barcelona game. I bought a jersey on our way back to the hotel ha Messi #10! We took the metro to the game and followed the masses to the Camp Nou stadium. Once we got there, I tried to pull my ticket up on my phone and it kept on saying that there was an internal error on their website so I went to the entrance and they sent me to the ticket incident window. So I went there and gave them my confirmation number and order number and my name and seat AND everything and they took about 25 minutes looking at stuff (the girl helping me was an idiot, she needed help the entire time) and eventually she tells me that my ticket has been canceled! I was in shock. I bought mine and my moms tickets at the same time and hers worked just fine! So she wouldn't give me an explanation so she sent me to customer service. They told me that it was impossible for my ticket to get canceled so they sent me to the ticket office and told me to show them my order number and they could print it off. So I went there and they spent 20 minutes looking at it and then they come and tell me my ticket had been canceled 30 minutes after I purchased it. WHAAAAAT?!? So stupid!!! And by this time, they had closed the ticket office because there was only like 30 minutes left in the game! So my mom told me to take her ticket and go in and at least watch some of the game while she sat outside so I ran in and we had AMAZING seats (too bad we couldn't sit in them long!). When I got in there we were down 1-0 and then they scored again so we were down 2-0. And then Messi came alive and assisted 2 goals and scored a PK. It was incredible and I was able to see it all! I left with about 5 minutes left in the game and my mom and I headed back to the hotel. We ended up winning 4-2. Good game but sucky circumstances for me and my mom. Then we PASSED OUT. I was absolutely dead. 

Monday, May 22

I met Robin at 8:15am and we walked to the train station. Our plan was to take a train to Carcassone, France and come back later than night. When we got to the train station, we found out that with the train schedule, we would only be in Carcassone for like 4 hours so we decided to not go. Instead we took the metro to Park Güell and walked around. Once we got to the city, we tried to buy tickets to go inside but they weren't selling anymore tickets until later than night so we walked around the outside of it and eventually happened upon the group entrance. We saw a group of Indian teenagers go in and we saw that they didn't count how many were in the group and they weren't scanning tickets. So we decided that we were going to try and sneak in with a group. There was a group of Asians but we couldn't get in with them because we stood out too much. And then when we had almost given up, a Dutch group walked up and we melted right in and got in extremely easily! So awesome! Ha we went to the overlook and took in the sight of the city and then we went down and looked at the columns and decorations that Gaudi had done (he was all over the place!). We took a tour of the museum and learned all about the park. After we were done, we walked out and they asked us for our tickets and we said we were with a group but had lost them so they said we couldn't come back in and we said that was totally fine haha on our walk back we walked all of the guys who were selling stuff illegally clean up every time a policeman was walking by. It was hilarious and looked like so much work for not making that much money. They had everything they were selling laid out on a sheet and the sheet had ropes attached to each corner and if a cop was coming, they'd grab the rope and the sheet corners would come together and they'd just wander off. Once the cop was gone, they would lay everything out again. So much work. Ha we hopped on the metro and went back to the hotel to meet up with my mom and Blaine. They hadn't arrived yet so we walked to the Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya just to look around. Apparently that was where the Nuskin gala was for all of their partners (my mom and Blaine weren't a part of this) so we watched as all of these Asians walked in DECKED OUT in fancy attire. We saw this couple who most definitely had their outfits custom made. They were made from the same yellow material. It was incredible. Haha we made our way back to the hotel and met up with my mom and Blaine and we went to La Rambla street. It was a cute street full of illegal street vendors and shops and food. We walked the street just looking around and then made our way to the Gothic Quarter to find some food. The Gothic Quarter was beautiful! We found a place to eat and we ordered sooooo many tapas. So tapas aren't a food, they are a type of servings of food. Smaller portions. So you basically just order a ton of tapas to get a taste of everything. We ordered so many. We ordered a ravioli plate, goat cheese and crackers, beef and mashed potatoes, some seafood, you get the picture. We were so full after! They were so good! While we were eating, Jeff was at home ripping the house apart for my scuba certification card. Luckily he found it! I really needed it for the next day's adventures! After we ate, we walked around the Gothic Quarter a bit more and then we made our way back to La Rambla and got some gelato. After gelato, we were headed to the metro but there was a metro strike so it wasn't running until 10:30pm and it was only 9:45pm so we just hung out on La Rambla and watched the illegal street vendors constantly clean up and set up again and again and again. The cops caught a few and followed them around for a while, which was super entertaining haha but they never actually did anything about it. It looked just like more of a threat than anything. Finally the metro started running again and we headed back to the hotel and went to bed. 

Tuesday, May 23

Robin and I had to meet downstairs at 7:15am because we were going scuba diving! Jeff had sent me a picture of my scuba certification card so I was able to go! The company picked us up and we picked another guy named Vincent up and then we made the hour drive to Costa Brava. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep on the drive. It was one of those limbo sleeps haha when we got there, we were a little early so our driver took us to a lookout point of Costa Brava and it was beautiful! We took some pictures and then headed to the scuba shop. Robin is a scuba instructor so she knew what she was doing. I, on the other hand, hadn't been for about 3 years so I couldn't remember a thing! I needed help with everything. Remembering how to hook my gear up properly, remembering what gear was necessary, etc. I was a mess. Luckily Robin helped me a ton. And my memory slowly started to work ha Robin and our guide were drysuit certified and I wasn't so I had to wear a wetsuit. Once we got all of our gear, we drove down to the beach. We parked and got all of our gear on and walked the final stretch to the shore. Vincent was becoming an instructor so it was just me and Robin going with our guide so it was awesome! The water temperature was perfect! I didn't need a drysuit at all. The wetsuit worked perfectly. We got in and I had a rough time figuring out my buoyancy. So I either kept rising in the water or sinking right to the ground and kicking up sand. But eventually I figured it out (on the second dive but still). After the first dive I kept on rising up towards the surface because I was getting low on air so I couldn't control my buoyancy anymore so the guide gave me a really heavy rock to hold ha so we got out and took a break and then prepped for our second dive. We did two different routes and it was so much fun! On the second dive, I killed it with buoyancy! We saw so many different types of animals! Octopus, starfish, eels. It was a blast! And the weather and water were perfect for diving! Such good visibility. After diving, we went back to the shop, showered and changed, and then headed back to Barcelona. I passed out on the drive again ha when we got back, we went and took naps. It was amazing. I woke up to my mom coming back from working and we had a mother/daughter bonding night. We went shopping and then we ate on top of the shopping complex next to our hotel (it was an old bull fighting complex turned into a shopping complex when they outlawed bullfighting). I had a super good burger. After our meal, while we were waiting for our check, our waiter brought a surprise drink out for us. He said it would help our digestion. So we drank it and it was awful but we drank it all so we weren't rude and when he came back he said it was coffee liquor. Whoops. We died laughing. Hahaha after we paid, we went to the top of our hotel and looked at the pool and the view of the plaza we were at (we were at a great spot of Barcelona). Then we went to bed! 

Wednesday, May 24

Wednesday was beach day. My mom and Blaine had to work in the morning but they would be done by noon so Robin and I slept in and then met at the pool. We just relaxed until they got back and then we got ready and headed to the beach! We had to take the metro and then walk a little ways but it was a beautiful walk! Once we got to the beach, we realized we were at the topless portion. The beach had different sections we could go to and we ended up at that one ha I felt awkward because Blaine was with us haha so we found a spot in the midst of SO MANY people and we set up camp. My mom and I got in the ocean to cool off and then we laid out for a while. The only sunscreen we had was face sunscreen so we put that on everywhere and then just relaxed. It was super fun to people watch. It wasn't as relaxing of a beach as you would think. There were people walking around selling stuff, offering massages and braiding your hair. My mom and I did a crossword puzzle. After laying there for like 3 hours we got up and just started walking. We had no place in mind, we were just walking! We ended up grabbing sandwiches at a cafe and walking to Parc de la Ciutadella and eating next to a fountain. It was dreamy. A bird nearly pooped on me but missed so I say I was feeling pretty lucky. After eating, we walked through the park. We happened upon this crazy cool statue/fountain thing and it was awesome! Gold statues on top, mermaids, greenery, it was seriously magical. Then we walked to the Arc de Triomfph. After that we headed back to the hotel to change and then my mom and I went to La Rambla to buy souvenirs and then we went to H&M which happened to be right there and I bought a jean overall dress and then we went back to the hotel and packed our bags. I received an email telling me that my flight was delayed so I called Delta and was actually able to switch my flight to Atlanta instead of JFK so I was on the same flight as my mom! We didn't sit by each other but it was nice leaving at the same time haha 

Thursday, May 25

We got a cab and headed to the airport. My mom was randomly selected to be patted down so that was hilarious and then I stood in a line at a coffee shop for two water bottles for 25 minutes. No joke. Finally we boarded and Robin was actually on my old flight to JFK so we said bye to her. She ended up getting delayed and missing her connecting flight so she didn't get back to SLC until about 3am. I was glad I switched flights because I would have missed my flight to Akron for work and that would not have gone over well. Blessed! It was a very long day of travel. I went from Barcelona to Atlanta to Detroit to Akron and I passed out so hard when I finally got to Akron. The trip wasn't over though because from the Akron Color Vibe event we went directly to the Tri Cities TN event. So from event to Spain to event to event. I was absolutely dead when I got home finally. Luckily I was on top of my sleeping pattern so jet lag never hit me and I was super grateful for that! 

Iceland 2017

Wednesday March 15

We started the trip off at 6:30am. We went and picked Aniko and Ted up and were on the road a little before 7am. The drive went pretty quickly for being 8 hours long ha we played 20 questions, we talked, we sang, we slept. Jeff cut the trip down to 7 hours! We only had to stop a couple of times for the bathroom and once for gas. The weather was perfect too! We ended up getting to Denver by about 2pm and since we made such good time, we went downtown and ate at Racca's Pizzeria Napolatena. It was pretty good! Jeff and I shared a margarita pizza. We accidentally paid for parking when there was a free parking lot literally 2 feet away ha After we ate, we headed to the airport. Longest process ever. We parked in Economy parking and the shuttle took forever to get there. Once it got there, we had to walk forever still through the airport to find the Icelandair desk. We got through security quickly but I was so turned around ha Denver has a pretty big airport. Once we got through security, we went to the Sky Club and chilled for a while. Then we headed to the gate. Our flight left a little later than it was supposed to so we finally took off around 5:40pm instead of 5:15pm. On the flight, I slept for like 3.5 hours but Jeff woke me up because we could see the NORTHERN LIGHTS from the plane!!! I was FREAKING OUT!!! I was very much awake all of the sudden. They were incredible!!!! Seriously. I was dying. They were on the other side of the plane though so we had to lean over some strangers to see but AHHHHHH!!!!! They were green and curvy and wonderful. After that excitement, I watched Up. Such a great movie. 

Thursday March 16

We arrived in Keflavik late at 6:45am so we RAN through everything. We made it through everything (customs, getting our bags, bathroom, getting on the flybus) in 30 minutes. It was amazing! So fast. We had to hurry because our tour for snorkeling starts at 8:30am and the drive there is 50 minutes. We ended up calling the tour company and they came and met us at the BSI Bus Terminal, which was a stop for our Flybus. We stored our luggage there and boarded the van! It worked out very well and we were really lucky! So we drove about 45 minutes to Silfra and it took a long time for us to get all of our gear on. First we had to put a onesie jumpsuit on for warmth. Then we had to put our airtight suit on and they had to do each suit themselves to make sure it was airtight. I felt like I was choking it was so tight haha then came the head mask and the crab-claw gloves and the snorkels. It was a long process ha and it was absolutely freezing. I regret not grabbing thicker socks but we were in such a hurry!! Once we had everything on, we walked over to the crack entrance. We had to spit in our masks and they put them in the water to clean them. Then we got in the water one by one. Our land guide, Antz, was awesome! He put our flippers on for us. Our water guide, Chris, was super cool too! Once we got in the water, we had to lay on our stomachs and make sure the masks were tight and then flip over to our backs. We were in a small group which was awesome. There was just another couple besides the 4 of us. After we had all flipped to our backs we had to flip again to our stomachs and start the swim. The water was -2 degrees Celsius. It was SO COLD. The second my face hit the water it was numb. There was a current so we barely had to do anything and we would move. Chris just wandered between us taking pictures. Our crab gloves weren't waterproof so if you barely moved your arms you would stay warm. My feet and face were definitely the coldest ha but snorkeling between the tectonic plates was UNREAL. The water was so blue and clear! It was Glacier runoff so you could drink it. We obviously drank it because you have to! We tried to swim down but our suits had air in them so we just looked like corks bobbing in the water with our butts in the air hahaha it was hilarious to watch. Ted was the only one who succeeded at doing it! He said he thinks his suit didn't have as much air because he was a lot colder than the rest of us. So we swam through the crack and eventually ended up in a lagoon. The algae was incredibly green too! It was gorgeous down there. You couldn't turn your head to the side without getting water in your ears but I couldn't help it! There was so much to take it!! The swim was only about 30 minutes which was perfect. Any longer and I would have froze. Once we got out, we took our flippers and masks off and made the trek back to the parking lot. Taking the gear off was extra hard because of how frozen we were ha the guides had to help us haha but eventually we were able to get out and they gave us hot chocolate and digestives (a chocolate covered cookie) to eat. After everyone was undressed and warming up, we made the drive back to Reykjavik. Chris was nice enough to take us back to the bus terminal, grab our bags, and take us to the Cabin Hotel. He was awesome. Reykjavik is the cutest little city! It has tons of cool graffiti and cute little shops. After we checked in to the hotel and chilled for a minute, we went walking downtown. First, we walked along the water and saw the Viking ship. Then we cut into town and walked through all of the shops. Stuff is EXPENSIVE. We didn't buy anything at this point because we couldn't believe how expensive everything was. So it is 100 ISK for $1 USD so everything was at least 1000 ISK I swear ha little ceramic cups were 5000 ISK. I was blown away ha everything in Iceland is tax free though so if you keep your receipts, you'll get money back at the airport. Once we were done walking downtown, we headed back to the Cabin Hotel and got ready for our Icelandic horse ride. The guy picked us up at 17:30 and we drove about ten minutes out of town. It was a private tour, which was so nice! He took us to their ranch and we were able to walk through all of the stalls and pet the horses. Their manes are UNREAL ha long luscious locks! Some horses had fros, others had long hair covering their eyes haha they were so cute!!! Verena and Iris were our guides for the night. They took us to this side room so we could get ready. They gave us pants, helmets, and gloves to wear which were very handy because of how cold it was. Once we were ready, we went outside and met our horses. Jeff was on Clacki, I was on Clodis, Aniko was on Treva, and Ted was on Blacy. Clodis was so great. We bonded immediately. Once we were all on our horses, we had to do a couple laps around the corral to prove we could ride horses and then we set off. At first they took it slow but once we had gone a little ways we were able to do the Icelandic version of a trot/gallop (I can't remember the word). It's a smoother version of trotting. It was super fun!! We rode through the hills and trees and then made our way to the lava fields. They were beautiful! There had been flooding recently but it only made it more beautiful because of the random ponds we would happen upon. We were able to watch the sunset from the lava fields and then we headed back to the ranch. It was pretty cold. I couldn't feel my hands or face ha it's the dumb wind!! Once we got back to the ranch, they took us into their house and they had PUPPIES for us to play with while they made dinner. They were Dutch Welch farm dogs and they were 8 weeks old. There were 5 of them! They were so cute; we were all dying! I couldn't get enough of them. Once dinner was ready we sat down and they fed us lamp soup with bread rolls. Super good! I snuck some lamb to the puppies.... I couldn't help myself haha after a couple servings of soup, they fed us this Icelandic yogurt. I have no idea what it was made of or anything but it was divine. There was this Greek yogurt type stuff surrounded by a milky liquid with chocolate sprinkled on top. SO GOOD. After we ate, we played with the puppies for a bit and then they took us back to our hotel at 10pm. We passed out the second our heads hit the pillow. 

Friday March 17

Our Golden Circle tour didn't start until 10:30 so we were able to sleep in a bit. I'm pretty sure I slept for over 11 hours that night. It was awesome. When we woke up, we went and ate continental breakfast (corn flakes, fruit, and porridge) and then got ready for the tour. They picked us up and we went to the bus terminal again where we boarded a big bus. On our way to the bus terminal, Jeff and I were at the back of the van and the driver took speed bumps very quickly so it started making my stomach uneasy so on the bus ride I was not feeling too hot. Our first stop was where we had snorkeled except it was the land version. Being outside definitely helped me feel better. We walked the crack for a little bit, they only gave us 30 minutes at this stop. Then we boarded the bus and went to the second stop, the Geysir. We had an hour here. The bathroom cost money at the first stop so there was a very long line for the bathroom here! This place was a lot like Yellowstone! The Geysir went off much more frequently than Old Faithful but didn't go as high. It actually scared us because we were walking past as it went off ha we didn't last long outside at this stop because of the wind and since it was a lot like Yellowstone, we were okay going back inside. We went and looked at the gift shop and ate some chicken nuggets and wings. We actually bought some souvenirs here. We got a picture of the Northern Lights, a bell ornament, and a horse patch. After our time was up, we went to the bus and went to the third and final stop which was Gullfoss (a waterfall). We went down to the bottom viewing point first and it was beautiful! A waterfall running through glacier. So pretty! We took some pictures and then went to the top viewing point. We had 45 minutes here and the gift shop had everything that was at the last stop so we boarded a little early. The drive back was a little over an hour. Our guide talked the entire drive throughout the entire tour. She had way too much to say ha some stuff honestly sounded so far fetched that I think she was just making stuff up. She talked about giants and "hidden people" who help get stuff done around the island. Strange. We got back to the hotel around 4:30. Our Northern Lights tour was going to be that night but we got an email saying it was canceled due to weather conditions (super cloudy). Aniko and Ted went and picked up the rental car and we decided we would talk about what to do when they got back but while they were gone, I passed out. I was so tired this day! I accidentally slept for a couple of hours ha when I woke up, we met up with them and we decided we would just chill that night and get a good head start in the morning. So we played Phase 10 on the top floor! It was pretty fun! We got yelled at for being too loud once. Whoops ha I lost. Bad. I'm terrible at that game. Then we went to bed at like 11:30 ha way later than we planned ha

Saturday March 18

We were up at 6am, ate continental breakfast, and were out the door by 6:30. We started the drive by hitting up a couple of waterfalls! Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. I fell asleep on the way to the first one ha but woke with a start when we got there! We were soaked with mist at both of them ha Seljalandsfoss was cool because you could go behind it and it was super green back there! It had snowed a lot the day before here and it was snowing while we were there so the green stuck out beautifully. Skogafoss was only like 20 minutes away from Seljalandsfoss. After we saw both of the waterfalls, we stopped at this parking lot where you could walk to see an abandoned US military plane. I didn't really care to go but the others wanted to so we started the 4K trek. But the weather picked up and we were drenched about 2k in. We decided to turn around and head back because it was so bad. Luckily I had leggings on underneath my overalls so I had stayed pretty warm besides my face but Jeff and Ted had just worn jeans so they were freezing. They both ended up taking their pants off for the drive to Vik and laying them on the dashboard to try and dry them ha on the way to Vik, we saw tons of cars that had slid off the road. One had even landed sideways in a stream that ran along the road. We (and by we I mean me because Jeff and Ted were pantsless and Aniko was putting her thermals on haha) stopped and helped them get out of the car (we had only barely missed seeing it). I held the door open and the girl held my hand as she jumped out. They weren't hurt but were pretty badly shaken up. The first thing she said was "our luggage is in there...." ha I was like are you okay?!? To heck with your luggage!! Aniko called the emergency line and told them where we were and I gave them some coats to warm up with. Another car had stopped and so the couple got in their car to warm up. Once Aniko was done on the phone we grabbed our jackets and headed out since we weren't doing much good anymore and there was nowhere to pull off so we were partially blocking the road. We got to Vik safely and stopped for petrol. We still had over 2 hours left on the drive and the weather was awful so we considered turning around a few times but decided to power through. The roads weren't bad enough that if you were driving smart you would be fine. We stopped and got food at a petrol station about an hour outside Vik and ate on the drive because we were close on time. We finally made it to Jokulsarlon at 3pm, right on time for our ice cave tour. There was a lagoon by our check in point that was full of icebergs! But we didn't have time to check it out at that point. We checked in and got in a van with HUGE tires. The drive to the ice cave was about 40 minutes of off roading. We were driving on pure ice! It was super cool.  I learned from Beitney (our guide) that the lagoon is 300 meters deep and that the icebergs are created from an underground river. Once we got to the ice cave, we put helmets on and spikes on our boots. The cave was SO COOL!! Super blue and just amazing. We were able to wander freely for 50 minutes throughout the cave. We walked to the very back where the ice stopped and it was just a snow cave and there was a river. The snow is in the process of turning into the ice and that river floods occasionally and it floods the entire ice cave so it can't be reached. Beitney said that happens frequently so we were lucky that our tour didn't get cancelled! Apparently they were shutting the tour down 2 days after because the weather was starting to get warmer so we barely made the cut! The ice cave was so blue because of the sunlight shining through the top. When the snow freezes, it has pockets of oxygen in it so once it turns into ice, the pockets of oxygen freeze into what looks like silver! It was so cool to see. Once our time was up, we went back to the van and headed back to the lagoon. I bought a shirt and hat at the gift shop. They were sick. Then we explored the lagoon. The icebergs were beautiful!! We saw tons of seals swimming around them. We took loads of pictures. I couldn't stop taking pictures!! We decided to head back at like 6:30pm because we didn't know how the road conditions would be. We tried to stop at another waterfall called Skaftafoss but it was a 1.4km hike and we were losing daylight. So we stopped and ate at a restaurant along the way because the roads didn't seem too bad. It was good! We just got pizza. Then we drove to Vik and stopped at the Black Sand Beach. Even though it was dark, it was super cool to see!! We collected rocks and looked at the hexagon shaped rock towers. There were signs everywhere telling us to look out for the sneaker waves. Apparently people have died from these waves sneaking up on them and taking them out to sea. Super sketchy. And we were there in the dark so even more sketchy ha we played 20 questions for most of the drive and kept an eye out for the Northern Lights (we didn't see them). We finally got back to the hotel a little before 1am. Aniko and Ted went and dropped off the rental car and Jeff and I grabbed pictures from their camera. Then we went to bed at 1:30am. 

Sunday March 19 

Jeff and I decided to sleep in rather than go buy souvenirs with Aniko and Ted so we woke up around 9:45am. After eating breakfast, we packed our bags up and just chilled in our room. We were planning on heading downstairs at 10:45 for our 11am Flybus but they were early so the front desk called our room and told us they were at our hotel. Luckily we were already ready so we headed down. I couldn't get a hold of Aniko and Ted though. We called them and knocked on their door. So we went downstairs and loaded our stuff up in the van. While we were loading our stuff up, we saw Aniko and Ted running towards the hotel. They had been shopping still ha so they ran upstairs and threw all of their stuff together and came back down. Our driver was a little frustrated with us. He told us why we had to be on time and that it says on the ticket to be ready 30 minutes prior to your listed time. He was frustrated with us and his company because they don't make it very clear that we needed to be ready 30 minutes prior. We only had to pick up one more group and we still made it to the bus terminal by 11am. Ha we got onto a bigger bus and headed to the Blue Lagoon. Once we got there, we checked our luggage at the baggage counter and then went inside. The Blue Lagoon was legit! We got these bracelets that controlled our lockers and you could charge money on your bracelet and pay at the end! Super high tech ha so we had to go in the locker room and shower and put conditioner in our hair because the water is hard on hair. Then we went out to the lagoon. The first thing we did was get our mud masks on! We put it on our faces and backs. We left it on for 10 minutes and it was so cold ha the wind had picked up and we couldn't go underwater with the mud on ha once we washed it off, we went and explored. It was about the temperature of a warm bath for the most part. You would hit random hot spots which was nice but for the most part, it was just warm. It was nice though because then you wouldn't get super hot so we were able to stay in longer! Jeff and I headed to the water snack bar and got blue raspberry slushes (which were WAY good) and drank those while chilling in the water. It was super relaxing! We were in the water for only like an hour before we had to go but it was perfect. We headed in at 1:30pm, showered and cleaned up, and made it on the 2pm bus to the airport. Fun quick facts about the Blue Lagoon. It renews itself every 40 hours, it is seawater, the coloring is from the sunlight, the mud masks we used was actual mud from the pool. The Keflavik Airport is a very technologically advanced airport. We checked ourselves in on a screen, it printed our baggage tags and boarding passes, we stood in a line and actually checked our luggage ourselves by placing them on the scale and a computer weighed it and if it was good, the belt took the bag away. In security, we just scanned our boarding passes and if they were good, the gate opened and let us through. The crates that you put your stuff in through security came out of a machine that recycled through the crates itself (so at the end it took the crates down a chute and they came out at the front of security). So cool! The not so great part of this airport was they "randomly select" people for screening when you go through passport control and it was majorly unorganized. I was chosen (like always) and they gave us numbers that would be called and then put us in a line. But the line was useless if you had a number right? No, WRONG. If you were in line, then you were taken back. So a lot of numbers got skipped. They were holding planes waiting for people to get through the screening. It was ridiculous. I was in line for about an hour before I was taken back. They search your body and then take everything out of your carry on and do the bomb test. Then you have to repack your bag once they clear you ha it was a quick process once you got in there! So finally I made it out and we headed to the gate. Jeff accidentally left the camera bag at the screening so we ran back and luckily they had taken it to the service desk. Then I went and got us some hot dogs and a panini and we boarded. The boarding process took forever as well!! They make you stand in a line and board a bus that will take you to your plane but the bus drivers were just having a nice little pow-wow so the bus would be full and the drivers would still just stand there! So frustrating. Finally we made it on the plane and Jeff passed out immediately. I looked through pictures and once we took off, I reclined Jeff's seat back and he woke up and started watching Toy Story and then I passed out ha I slept for like 3.5 hours! Jeff thought he had slept for like an hour but it had only been like 15 minutes haha When I woke up, we talked to the lady next to us. She was great! She is originally from Iceland and she has lived in Denver for about 40 years now. She told us all about growing up in Iceland and it seemed crazy! As kids, they would play on icebergs and fall off sometimes, which is super scary. A whale was beached in her town and they took pictures standing on the whale! Crazy ha she showed us pictures of Greenland and the fiords and sounds there. Super cool. The flight went fairly quickly though which was nice! We landed a little later than we were supposed to but luckily customs went pretty quickly. After we got our bags, we drove to Panda Express and ate and then started our 8 hour journey back to Logan. Jeff drove for the first 5 hours. I was his copilot and I was doing great and staying awake until the last hour. I couldn't keep my dang eyes open! We had to stop and get gas so I jogged in place and ran around for a bit and became wide awake but then I got back to the car and Ted was driving with Aniko in the front seat! Ha so we were in the back. We talked for a little bit but then I was able to fall asleep for the next two hours and then we talked the last hour of the ride. We got to our house at 4:30am. I HAD to shower. I felt so disgusting. So after showering I finally fell asleep at 5:30am. I woke up at 8:30am wide awake unfortunately though. Jeff made me breakfast in bed for my birthday! And that was the end of Iceland! So much fun :) 

New Zealand 2017

Thursday February 23

We left Logan at 4:30pm so that we could go visit Blake and Kjersti at the U of U hospital before taking off. We met Katie and her friends at the airport so they could take our car and Sophie. Our flight was delayed by about 40 minutes because of the air traffic in LA so we had a very tight layover. Luckily we were seated in first class and our gate was right next to the one we were taking off out of! We left LA at 11:30pm and started the longest travel period ever. 

Friday February 24

This date did not exist for us. We spent our entire day in the air, alternating between watching movies and sleeping and stretching. The time change from the Utah to New Zealand is unreal haha 20 hours difference to be exact. 

Saturday February 25

This date also did not exist for us. We were supposed to land in Auckland at about 3:30pm but our layover in Sydney was much longer than it should have been. We weren't able to land in Sydney because a plane had ruined the runway so we circled Sydney for a while and ended up going to Brisbane for refueling. We eventually ended up in Sydney but we missed our connecting flight and had to wait in Sydney for 4 hours until the next flight out. We didn't arrive in Auckland until 12:30am on February 26. We weren't able to pick up our rental car because they were closed so we canceled that and had to take a taxi about 30 km away to our AirBnB. Our taxi driver was Indian and did not know how to use his card reader so when we arrived, he couldn't swipe it. Eventually he swiped it and I accidentally clicked the wrong PIN number and so it declined but he said it went through. We even questioned him and he said it went through. It clearly said declined on the receipt but he was adamant so we let it go and got out. Our AirBnB was so quaint and had the coolest shower! It had blue lighting. We were so exhausted so we passed out. 

Sunday February 26

We woke up at 9 and walked upstairs for breakfast. Our host told us that the taxi driver had come back and said the card didn't go through so he wanted payment from us. She said she would get us the message and sent him off of her property. He wanted her to come wake us up and she refused because of how late we had gotten in. She was awesome! We told her how we were unable to get our car rental so she offered to drive us to pick up the campervan. On the drive to get the campervan, I called the taxi driver and this girl was our middle man. Everything I would say, she would repeat it to him in their language, and then tell me what he said. It was incredibly sketchy. She wanted us to put the money into her personal account. She said they couldn't take my card info over the phone and they didn't have a website for me to go to. The fees that would incur if we tried to direct deposit into her account were huge so our host told us that we just shouldn't do it because of how sketchy they were being. We felt bad but we tried to fix it the night before! Anyway, on the drive I played some random games with their little girl, Oriana, and we got on very well! She loved me. Then we picked up our campervan and said our goodbyes. We headed straight for Cathedral Cove. It was 2.5 hours from where we were. Driving on the left side of the road is a blast! We caught on very quickly. We were lucky enough to drive right up the the car park for Cathedral Cove and find a spot immediately. Others weren't so lucky. They had to walk quite a ways ha we started the hour hike in and were amazed at how beautiful and green everything was! Even the drive to Cathedral Cove was unreal. New Zealand is beyond gorgeous. Once we got to Cathedral Cove, we walked around and took pictures and then set ourselves up on the beach and laid out for a bit. Once we were hot, we went out and swam to the rock that people were jumping off of. It wasn't high at all (about 5-8 meters is all) but we wanted to do it. The waves made it hard to get on the rock and it tore my hands up a bit but we made it and only jumped off once and headed back to shore haha it just felt so good to be warm! The snow back in Utah was just depressing to think about. We chilled for a bit on the beach and Jeff saw a topless woman and actually took a picture of her unknowingly haha then we decided to make our way back to the van because we had another 3.5 hour drive ahead of us. Jeff drove this time and got the hang of it real quick. We stopped for food at a grocery store and bought some tortellini to cook at the campground. Once we got to the campground, we plugged our van in, ate, and then headed to bed. 

Monday February 27

We had to wake up fairly early because we had booked a tour of the Waitomo Glowworm Cave. Luckily the campground was only 2 minutes away from it :) so we paid for the night and then headed to the cave. When we got there, we were actually a few minutes late (because I am compulsively late always no matter what) so we went on the 9:45 tour instead of the 9:30 one. The cave is run by the descendants of the Maori tribe who owned the land before the cave was discovered. In 2004, the cave flooded and so it had to be shut down for a couple of weeks while the water drained. The Waitomo River runs through the cave and holds eels that are a meter long and weigh about 20 kilos. Gross. Haha it was interesting learning about the cave but I was seriously amazed when we boarded the boat and went into complete darkness and saw the thousands of glowworms everywhere. They weren't what I imagined at all but it was amazing to see! I felt like I was in space. Just the ends of their tails glow and the women's lights are brighter than the males. They eat mosquitoes and other bugs and after they go into a cocoon, they emerge as flies without stomachs or mouths so they only live for about four days after. During those four days, they have to reproduce. The boat was a very peaceful experience. Everyone was absolutely silent and we were just about to float along looking at the glowworms. After the boat ride, the tour ended and we went to the gift shop and bought way too much stuff. We got jade rings and a necklace because New Zealand is known for their production and mining of jade. It is a beautiful gem. We also bought the fake pictures they made of us in front of a bunch of fake screens because why not? Ha then we waited in line for our tour of the next cave, Raukuri Cave. This cave was pretty much just another cave but my favorite part was we got to see the glowworms up close and we saw how they catch their food in these strings of mucus hanging from the ceiling. But other than that, we just learned about stalagmites and stalactites. After that tour, we went into town and had to buy new sunglasses because I lost mine at Cathedral Cove and Jeff forgot his at home. Once we found the winners, we ate at the local cafe. I ordered French toast but it wasn't typical French toast. It was covered in meat and bananas and their were eggs cooked around the bread. It was super good!! Jeff got Ginger Coke and it was actually pretty good (better than original Coke in my opinion). After eating, we headed to the Potaruru Blue Springs. The hike was only 800 meters but we walked along the river and the water was the clearest water I have ever seen. It was beautiful!! Once we got to the Blue Springs, we were only able to look at it. They had banned swimming in the area because it was ruining the natural environment so that was unfortunate but it was still beautiful to look at and it was the perfect stop on our way to Hobbiton. One weird thing about being at the Blue Spring was I used the toilet and they had a bin of sawdust clippings and you had to sprinkle them over your business once you were finished. That's different... anyway, then we hiked back and headed to Hobbiton. We got there early so we went and looked around the gift shop. We ended up buying shirts so we looked like bigger fans than we actually are (don't get me wrong, I love the movies but we are definitely not die hard fans). We actually ended up being the only ones that had any form of Lord of the Rings attire on besides the two men that were fully dressed like an elf and a dwarf. Anyway, even though we were early, we were still the last ones on the bus. Guys, being late is a chronic problem. SOS on how to fix it. We drove about 1.5 km to the entrance and they split our group into two groups. We were with Sarah. She was extremely knowledgeable and super funny! We learned that they didn't plan on keeping Hobbiton as an attraction for people but the owners of the land (the Alexanders) showed some of their friends the remains of the set and word spread so they approached Peter Jackson with the idea to keep it. So he came back in and created 44 hobbit holes for the re-filming of the Hobbit, all varying in sizes to make different people look taller or shorter depending on what they were playing in the movie, and once they were done filming, they left it exactly as it was. Hobbiton was amazing. It was crazy green and peaceful. Each hobbit hole had its own unique theme and it was so fun walking around them all. We were able to see all of the Shire in the light, ending that part of our tour at Bag End where Frodo and Bilbo lived. Then we headed towards the Green Dragon and had some ginger beer while looking at the Shire from across the pond. Once it started getting darker, we entered the banquet meal. It was awesome!! There were all kinds of meats, sauces, vegetables, and rolls covering the tables. We ate our weight in food. Once we were done with the dinner portion, the two guys that were decked out in costumes started singing different songs from the hobbits and we had a blast pounding our fists on the table in tune to the song. Then they brought dessert out. Brown sugar cooked apples, tarts, ice cream, chocolate cake, poached pears, and tons of other desserts. Super tasty. After we ate, we went back out to the Shire and we had lanterns. It was so awesome to see the Shire lit up at night! We walked around the hobbit holes and then gathered on the party lawn (where they watch the dragon firework in the first movie) and we danced to more hobbit songs. It was a blast! Once the tour ended, we had to drive 5.5 hours to the Bay of Islands. We didn't get on the road until 10:45pm so it was a very long night. I took the first shift and only made it about an hour before I couldn't keep my eyes open so Jeff took over and I fell asleep in the back. He made it the rest of the way! We got to the Bay of Islands campground at 4am. We saw the ENTIRE Milky Way. Seriously the sky was incredible! I was in shock at how many stars we could see!! After taking in the beauty of the sky, we passed out. 

Tuesday February 28

We had to be up at 7am because we had to be at the pier in Paihia by 7:45 for our dolphin encounter. Surprise surprise but we were the last ones there again even though we stayed only 2 minutes away. We took off pretty quick and had to go to another pier across the bay and pick up some other passengers but then we were off! It was pretty chilly but once we were out there for a while, it definitely warmed up. We drove past so many islands, it was beautiful. I have no other words to describe New Zealand besides beautiful. We made our way to another bay and started searching for a pod of dolphins. Jeff and I went out and sat on the front of the boat with our GoPros anxiously searching for any sign of movement in the water. I saw the dolphins first! I told one of the guides and we made our way over to them. On the way, a wave completely soaked us. It was hilarious. And chilly. We got to the dolphins but they kept on swimming further and further away from us so we just followed them! Eventually they slowed down and even turned around to see what we were doing. It was SO AWESOMELY INSANE how close they were to us!!! They were jumping clear out of the water directly in front of us, swimming under the front of the boat, we even saw a baby! It was so cool! We followed them around for ages! Then the captain decided we would go find another pod because there are regulations that say that we can't swim with a pod of dolphins if there is a baby present. And everyone on the boat really wanted to swim with dolphins! So we continued the search. We saw another pod a little ways away but they also had a baby with them. We saw fur seals as well! We ended up not being able to swim with dolphins but it was okay because it was so much fun seeing that many dolphins that close up and just being on the boat in the sun was fun! I actually put sunscreen on (Jeff is good for me in that way, I always got fried until I met him). It was a fun tour :) we were done around noon so we headed to another souvenir shop and got my family some stuff for watching Sophie. Then we drove 3.5 hours to Cape Reinga. We drove in shifts again while the other took a nap in the back so I drove about an hour and 45 minutes and then Jeff did the rest! Cape Reinga was gorgeous as well. The most northern point of New Zealand. There was a lighthouse and tons of beautiful beaches below us! After hiking a little ways out, we turned around and headed to the sand dunes for sand boarding. The address on the sand board rentals website took us to this way dumpy town and then the next address took us to the general area but still not quite what we were looking for. We were running out of daylight though so we settled for exploring the Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes and not sandboarding. It was crazy how big these dunes were and how they were surrounded by greenery. It was pretty cool! After exploring for a while, we started our 6.5 hour drive to Auckland. I drove the whole way since Jeff had done the last night drive while I slept ha we tried finding food along the way but everything was closed so we ended up at McDonalds for the fourth time this trip haha we finally made it to our campground near Auckland at 1am and this campground was terribly set up so we ended up just camping in the parking lot ha 

Wednesday March 1

We had to get up at 6:15am because of how much we had to do before our flight at 8:45am. We had to gather all of our crap, clean the campervan out, and check our luggage. We were supposed to take the campervan through a car wash before turning it in but we ran out of time. Whoops. A taxi met us at the campervan rental place and we made it to the airport an hour before our flight. Checking our luggage was a nightmare! Jetstar is terribly set up. I missed Delta so much. Too bad they don't have flights to the South Island. We were able to get our bag checked and made it to our gate by 8:10am before they had even started boarding. I didn't use any form of ID at all to get on that plane. Very lax security haha it was great! The flight was only a little over an hour and the sights out the window were awesome! We flew over the Abel Tasman National Park, the glaciers, and the Milford Sound! Once we landed, we got the rental car (a cute little red Accent) and headed to our first Bungy jump! The first one was the Kawarau Bridge Bungy. It was the first Bungy jump in the world! It's 43 meters high. It was a blast! I wasn't able to touch the water but Jeff went about halfway in haha after we jumped, we bought our pictures, and headed to the next jump. The next one we had to drive into Queenstown and take the Skyline Gondola up the mountainside. Parking was an absolute nightmare. We circled around and around searching for people leaving but it didn't work so we had to park in a car park and pay and then walk a ways to get there. We stopped at The London and got pizza to go. While we waited for it to cook we played pool. The pizza was actually super good!! We ate it on our walk to the Skyline Gondola ha when we arrived, we went to go buy our tickets and we ended up getting two rides on the luge as well because of the deal they had. We would've lost money if we didn't do it! Haha so we rode to the top and the sights were incredible. Queenstown is an adorable city with amazing scenery. Once we got to the top we tried to check in to the Bungy jump but we were early so we went and did the luge first. We had to do the beginner track first which was pretty simple and then we could do the advanced track! It was fun. Not something I would do again but it was good! After we luged, we headed back to the Bungy jump. On this Bungy jump, you were able to do something creative rather than just the typical swan dive. Jeff wanted to do a gainer but was nervous so we both ended up doing backflips. I was super nervous about the backflip. The heights don't really scare me anymore, I get anxious but the wait always kills me haha it was a blast doing the backflip!! It was so cool! We got the pictures because the GoPro pictures just didn't do it justice. On our way back to the Gondola, we bought passion fruit ice cream and sat in the lookout area. So pretty. And beautiful weather! Once we were back down the mountain, we walked around downtown and looked around souvenir shops. We got some pretty awesome shirts ha we are suckers for dumb souvenirs. We were super parched so we bought orange Fanta and coke (these are our travel go-to drinks haha) and headed to the car. We had a 5.5 hour drive ahead of us to our AirBnB, the Teapot Cottage. It was a long drive! I only made it about an hour into the drive before I fell asleep. Jeff told me I missed out because the drive was beautiful! Luckily I got to see it on the way back. So we got to the Teapot Cottage around 11pm and looked at our Bungy pictures and then passed out. 

Thursday March 2

The Teapot Cottage was the most interesting place we have ever stayed. It was 50s themed and they had dress ups that went along with the theme as well ha it was fun looking around at everything. We had to get on the road pretty quickly because we had a tour scheduled at 8:30am but we were able to look around a bit. Once I got service, we called the helicopter tour agency to confirm our tour and they said we would be delayed until 10:15am because of the cloud coverage so we drove to the little town where the tour was and we ate breakfast at The Landing. I got French toast again ha I love that stuff. Then our tour was right next door so we headed over after breakfast. We checked in and everything but didn't actually get on the helicopter until 11:15am. We had this cute little family with us on our tour. Jeff and I got to sit up front with the pilot! It was an incredible view the whole way up! We flew over the Franz Josef Glacier and landed on the top. We were able to look around and take pictures for a little bit and then we flew back down. The tour took a total of maybe 30 minutes haha it went way too quickly. But we got some good footage haha after we were done, we chilled in the car for a bit looking at all of the pictures we had taken thus far and then we headed to our next AirBnB in Te Anua. It was 6.5 hours away. I drove this time. Jeff was right, the drive was beautiful! On the drive, we stopped at the Blue Pools of Haast Pass and I had to PEE. We started the 15 minute hike but I couldn't hold it anymore so I went off of the path and looked back the way we had come to make sure I was blocked and I pulled down my pants and started going. I hadn't, however, looked at where the path went so the people walking back to the car park had a full shot of everything down there. I didn't realize this until I was mid-pee and I saw them staring at me. SO AWKWARD. But I was still going! AND there was another group coming up behind them! So I sat down and leaned against the tree behind me and made it look like I was just pondering life. I look over and Jeff and he's just shaking his head looking away from me haha finally they walked past and I could stand up and get out of there. So embarrassing. The Blue Pools weren't too far away so it was a very quick hike. They were INCREDIBLY blue! It was so pretty! They were absolutely freezing though. We just walked in a little ways and it was almost unbearable. There were people jumping off of the bridge into it! Good thing we weren't in our swimsuits because we would have felt obligated to jump too haha (it's a pride issue). We just laid out in the sun though and it felt so good. Jeff got bored so he skipped some rocks and then we left. We stopped at the next gas station to fill up and we got these hokey sticks (ice cream on a stick) and they were super good. Ice cream with a caramel layer and a chocolate layer and these crunchy chewy things on the outside (great description I know) but it was really good. We also stopped at Lake Wanaka. It's really hard not to stop every 3 meters for pictures. New Zealand is beautiful everywhere. As we were driving, we were jamming out to my dance playlist. We had to stop again for me to pee (small bladder problems) but we were enjoying the drive. We were about 80 km from Te Anua when I got pulled over :( I was going 129 kmh when the limit was 100. He told us how many people die on that stretch because of their speed so he gave me a ticket for $230 😩party pooper. We'd already given New Zealand all of our money and then that happens. Anyway, we finally at the Te Anua Homestay at 9pm where Junko was waiting for us :) she's originally from Tokyo and moved the New Zealand for her husband, Neil. They live on a farm with goats and cows. She took us on a tour of her farm and we got to pet all of the animals. The goats LOVED chewing on my shorts (Oreo loved it the most) and the calves loved shoving Jeff with their heads hahaha we were going to milk the goats but Junko said they were scared of the dark. Which was so unfortunate because I really wanted to do that ha Junko was super nice and very hospitable. We had to leave early the next morning so she packed us lunches to take with us! She was the best. After our tour of the farm, we went into town to eat. We ended up eating at La Dolce Vita. They said they were closed but they took us in and fed us anyway! We were starving so we were very grateful. It was super expensive! The thing about New Zealand is the food is exactly like the food in the states. So don't travel to New Zealand for the food. Ha go for the adventure :) after we ate, we headed back and went to bed. 

Friday March 3

We had to leave Te Anua by 6:30am in order to get to the Milford Sound by 8:30am. Jeff drove because I'm not a morning person. I passed out. Surprise surprise. Ha Jeff woke me up right before we went through the tunnel because it was too pretty to miss. Once we got there, we parked and had a five minute walk to the visitor center. We checked in to Southern Discoveries for our cruise & kayak tour and then after 10 minutes, we boarded the boat. Right when we got on, they fed us breakfast! Just classic stuff like cereal, toast, fruit, and eggs. I made Jeff try Vegemite. We both hate it haha after we ate, we went out to the deck because the Milford Sound is UNREAL. It was raining pretty heavily and it was creating waterfalls everywhere!! All over the giant mountain walls were waterfalls. It looked like a gathering of veins. It was amazing! We cruised down the channel for a while just taking in the sights. The captain spoke to us as we drove and told us fun facts about Milford Sound. He seriously had the most soothing voice. It was very monotone but very peaceful. A great documentary voice. The kind that could put you to sleep but not because of boredom, because you would feel peaceful ha I had to record his voice. We learned that the Milford Sound isn't actually a sound. It's a fiord. A sound is a valley created from a river and a fiord is a valley created from a glacier. While we were cruising we saw PENGUINS. PENGUINS!!!! How freaking cool is that?! I had no expectations to see those so I freaked out. They were swimming :) we also saw fur seals. But whatever. We saw PENGUINS! Towards the end of the cruise, they dropped us off in Harrison Cove for our kayaking portion. They gave us waterproof pants to wear along with our rain jackets and then we got in the kayaks and started the tour. Our tour guide was kind of not great. He was like, I'm not going to bore you with facts so if you have questions come ask. So then I thought well maybe we'll get to explore and stuff! Nope. We had to follow him everywhere. It was still fun though luckily! We saw this huge starfish and we saw another penguin swimming! It was SO COOL. We also heard the penguins screaming in the trees! And you cannot beat the views. It was breathtaking. After the kayaking portion of the tour, they took us in their underwater conservatory. The entire building was floating on the water with a giant portion of it underwater. It was cool to see how to fish live and what types of animals live down there. The day before we were there they saw a 6 meter long shark! We learned about black coral and how it's actually white and they call it black because their waste solidifies around them and creates new stems. Super gross. But kinda cool I guess. Haha we saw a snake star which looked like a squid mixed with a starfish. After that portion of the tour, we boarded a boat and went back to the visitor center. Once we were back at the car, we drove to a cool lookout and ate our packed lunches from Junko! It rained the entire time we were there but honestly I think it made it much cooler! They get anywhere from 6-9 meters of rain a year! Crazy! Anyway, we had another 4 hour drive ahead of us back to Queenstown so we headed out and stopped in Te Anua for a quick drink and break and then hit the road again. We stayed in another AirBnB in Queenstown and we got there around 6:30pm. The couple had traveled to New Zealand from Spain and loved it so much they moved there! Smart couple. We're tempted to do the same! Ha it was kind of weird staying in a room in their house though. We shared the bathroom with them and another couple from Australia. Luckily we were in for the night because we just wanted to chill. We ate the rest of our packed lunches and looked over all of the pictures and then went to bed! 

Saturday March 4

We had to be at The Station for our third and final Bungy jump by 8:10am. We got lucky with parking but got lost trying to find the check in desk. We finally found it and they took us on a 40 minute bus ride to the Nevis Bungy. When we got there, the wind was blowing super hard so they wouldn't let us go out. We sat there all morning waiting for the wind to die down but it never did. We just sat on our phones and talked to the people around us. We actually met this couple that is famous in Hong Kong! They were filming a reality show while they were there but they weren't allowed to tell us what it was because it hasn't aired yet. The man was the SMALLEST man I've ever seen. He weighed 43 kg (it was written on his hand for the Bungy jump). So small!! And the girl had these weird heel/sneaker shoes on. Typical Asians.... hahaha we waited around until 1pm and then we gave up and got our money back and headed back to The Station. We were so sad! We couldn't complete the Trilogy!! Dumb wind. Once we got back, we went and got McDonalds and then headed to the airport to catch our flight. We had to check both suitcases because they weighed so much. Whoops.... haha on the flight there was this 10 year old girl throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum. She was such a baby!! So obnoxious. We flew over Mount Cook on the way to Auckland. That was cool! Once we landed we went to find Enterprise to get our car rental but they weren't anywhere! So we asked another car rental place and they said we have to call Enterprise and they'll come get us. So we called and had to wait for like 45 minutes for them to come get us but eventually they did and once we got our car we went to our AirBnB. We were staying with this couple, he was from New Zealand and she was from India. After we dropped our stuff off and relaxed for a bit, we went to dinner at Szimpla. It's a gastro pub. I got a chicken burger and Jeff got a beef burger and the chicken burger was SO GOOD. It had mango relish and aioli on it and man it was great. After dinner we went back to the Airbnb and talked to the couple we were staying with for a minute and then showered, packed our bags up, and went to bed. 

Sunday March 5

We set an alarm for 5:30am and I was the closest to it so when it went off I immediately turned it off and fell back asleep. Jeff tried to turn it off but I beat him to it and he fell back asleep as well. I woke up in a panic and checked the phone and it was 6:30am and our flight left at 8am so we had to RUSH. We hurried and got dressed, drove to the park & ride (the after hours drop off spot for Enterprise), couldn't find it, decided to go to the actual Enterprise (they had opened at this point), but we drove past the park & ride on the way there so we parked quickly, and hopped on the international travel bus. We found Virgin Australia easily and got our bags checked. In security a new line opened up right as we got there so we were able to get through security quickly. We reached our gate before they had even started boarding. Miracles are real people. It was a very long flight home and I didn't sleep at all. The people next to me (I was in the aisle seat) kept getting up to go to the bathroom!! I was going to kill them! They just kept downing the drinks! So I was awake the whole time. We got to Salt Lake at 1:30pm and Kelly and Brian were there with our car and Sophie :) we went to Cafe Rio with them and then headed to Logan. I slept very well that night haha went to bed at 8pm and woke up at like 10am ha but I never dealt with jet lag, which was super nice. Definitely a trip I'll never forget! 

Peru y Ecuador 2016

June 9th
We started the vacation off by flying to LA with my family to celebrate my moms birthday. We left straight from work and met my family at Julie Jensen's. We left our car there and rode with my mom to the airport. Tyler was driving and as we were searching for a parking spot he waved and said sorry and we asked what that was and he said that he cut a car off. There was no car.... Katie and I died laughing hahaha it was a short flight to LA and then we had to drive to Ventura Beach because that is where our Airbnb was. We played the ABC game on the way and blasted music. It was a blast! The place we stayed was right by the marina. Jeff and I had to stay on bunk beds ha 

June 10th
We woke up early so that we could go to breakfast before Six Flags Magic Mountain! We ate at IHOP and then we had to drive an hour to get to the park. When we got there, we purchased the Gold fast pass and we were able to book one ride at a time and not stand in line. It was awesome! Very expensive though. It was $80 a person. But we thought it was worth it in the end. Right when we got there we wanted to ride X2 but it was closed. And so were a bunch of other rides so we booked Ninja and we went straight to the front. Then we headed to Superman which shoots you backwards 100 mph. It was the first roller coaster ever that went that fast and it was a blast! We also rode Full Throttle, Tatsu, X2 (best ride by far), Goliath, Twisted Collosus (Katie lost her phone on this ride), The Green Lantern (awful awful ride), Scream, and then X2 again haha it was the perfect day! I love sitting by my mom on roller coasters. She screams so hard! In every picture, she looks like she's dying haha Jeff and I bought a bottle less drink that we could refill throughout the park and it was the greatest idea. We got our picture with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as well! We were there until the park closed. We started heading home and stopped to get Little Caesars and we took it home and ate and then passed out. 

June 11th
We ate breakfast at McDonalds and then we headed to the WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER! We were all decked out in our HP gear and we were excited! The weather was rainy and overcast but we didn't care. We went straight to Harry Potter and walked through Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. It was so awesome. We were able to do spells at certain spots, we saw the talking frogs and we immediately bought butterbeer. We did a ride through Hogwarts and it was AWESOME! It was 3D and we followed Harry on a broom and dragons and ah it was so fun! I got a little sick but totally worth it. We stood in line at Ollivanders and watched a wand choose a wizard. While we were in line we played Heads Up Harry Potter style. We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks. We went to Honeydukes and got butterbeer fudge and a chocolate frog for dessert. It was magical. After Harry Potter, we did the Studio Tour of Universal Studios. We had tickets to the front of the line because I took a survey when we first got to the park but it fell out of my pockets. Whoops. So we had to wait in line ha on the studio tour, we learned about filming and we saw the city that they use in most of their filming. It was cool! After the Studio Tour we went and watched the show at Waterworld and then headed out. Honestly I don't know why you would go to Universal if Harry Potter wasn't there. But that's just me. After we left, we went to Panda Express and then went home and watched the fourth Harry Potter. What a great day. 

June 12th
We got to sleep in and it was incredible. After we slowly got up, we ate breakfast at The Golden Egg and then we packed up and headed to the Santa Monica Pier. We drove there on the Pacific Coast Highway with our windows down. So great. At the Pier, we walked on the beach, got ice cream, watched the rides, it was really relaxing. Tyler wouldn't go near the ocean at all. He was scared. What a baby.... Haha then we went to the airport, said goodbye quickly because of traffic, forgot my wallet, mom and Katie had to come back and my mom threw the wallet at me as she drove away, and then we boarded the plane to Vegas. Steve came and picked us up and after talking to Wendy for a while, we went to bed. 

June 13th
Up at 5am and said goodbye to Kortnee because she's going on a mish to Paraguay! Then Wendy took us to the airport and we started the travel day. We had a 4 hour layover in Atlanta and then off to Lima where we waited in the airport for 6 hours before we could head to Cusco. 

June 14th
We had a travel agent plan our trip for us because we didn't have a lot of time and we wanted to fit in everything we could and that was the best decision we've ever made. They picked us up from the airport, took us to the Santa Maria Hostel, we ate breakfast (toast and juice), took a hard nap, and then they took us on a tour of Cusco. Before the tour, we needed to exchange our money and luckily there was a place right across the street. We exchanged some money and we literally spent it all right outside our hostel so we had to go get more. We got pictures with an alpaca that was in the street, some alpaca sweaters, a hat, and a canvas painting of Machu Picchu. On the tour, we saw the churches, Saqsayhuaman, a cave, some Incan ruins, and we were able to walk around Cusco. It was a great tour! They had a festival going on in the city center and it was fun to watch! There were bleachers set up and each grade of students took turns doing dances. After the tour, we went and ate. We got pizza in Peru. Embarrassing, I know. Then we went to bed. 

June 15th
We had to be up at 3am. We got picked up and we drove 4 hours to the base of the Vinicunca Mountains. I slept most of the drive but Jeff got car sick because our driver (all Peruvian drivers) was crazy. He was running red lights and just honking as he went through, speeding up, slamming on his brakes, passing cars into oncoming traffic, and that is just to name a few. One thing they take seriously is their speed bumps. They slow way down and go very slowly. Once we hit the dirt road, there were these little bridges that we had to drive over (bridges isn't the right word) and they were just threw bamboo trunks laid next to each other per tire. So our driver had to strategically get the tires on the 3 tiny trunks of bamboo or else we would get stuck in the ditch it was covering. We got stuck like 4 times. One time was so bad that we all had to get out and push the van back. Jeff puked at this juncture. We think it was a tender mercy that we got stuck enough that we had to get out of the van or else Jeff would've puked in the van. We ate breakfast in this little village on the way up and we got bread and coca tea. The children in this village were adorable. I can't get over how they live in Peru. It's a very simple and humble lifestyle and it's definitely eye opening. And I swear every woman that I've seen dressed in the Peruvian dresses has a baby strapped to their back. Seriously. There are a lot of babies. And the wild dogs everywhere! They're so cute! (Most of them) oh and the alpaca and llamas EVERYWHERE. Seriously everywhere. In the city, in the ruins, everywhere. When we finally got to the base of the hike, Jeff was very sick. Poor guy. We think it was a combination of motion sickness and altitude sickness. And it was absolutely freezing. We did not pack well at all. I ended up buying a scarf and some gloves at the base because I was so cold. Once we started hiking and the sun started getting higher in the sky, we slowly started shedding layers. It was a long hike. We ended up paying to ride horses up the mountains and it was totally worth it. So fun! From the very little Spanish I know, I was able to have a good conversation with my horse guy. Ha poor Jeff was still very sick. We got to a point where the horses couldn't go so we had to hike the rest of the way. It was rough. I didn't realize how big of an affect the altitude would have on me. My heart would start racing after like 2 steps. There was this weight on my chest the entire hike. My stomach was queasy and I had a headache. But we finally got to the top of the Vinicunca Mountains and they were beautiful! The rainbow mountains :) The wind was frigid though. We could see the tallest peak in Peru and it was covered in snow. It was really pretty. After resting and taking pictures, oh and joining in a dance party that this kid was recording, we started the descent. We bought Jeff some chocolate at the top and it really helped him so he felt good on the way down. We made great time. It was a 10 mile round trip hike. I chased some alpacas, got my picture in a herd, and just talked. Once we made it to the bottom we fed the wild dogs (probably not smart but whatever) and I took a quick nap. There was a way cool couple in our group named Josh and Jenna and they were great to hang out with. They're from LA! Jenna got sick on the descent and Jeff's sickness came back so they were a hot mess. We ate lunch at the same village we had breakfast and Jeff bought the biggest water bottle ever there. For lunch we had quinoa soup and it was delicioso! The drive home took forever. And it was a bumpy ride. Finally we made it to Cusco and our travel agent had someone pick us up and they took us to Ollaytantambo. At first we thought we were being kidnapped because of how far away it was. We went through some slums. Super sketchy. After a long drive, we finally made it to our hostel (Tunapo Lodge). We were able to shower and it was the best. We're pretty sure the guy at the front desk hated us ha we showed up late and Jeff dropped the key on the ground and it scared him haha anyway, sleep. 

June 16th
We had to be at the train station by 6:50am so we got up and ate breakfast (eggs and fruit) and then we headed to the train station (it was just down the road from our hostel; super convenient). My stomach didn't like me much so once we got on the train, I passed out. The old couple across from us kept giving us disapproving looks ha we got to Machupicchu Pueblo after an hour and a half and Randy, our travel agent, met up with us and bought us hot chocolate! After, he got us on the right bus and we headed up to Machu Picchu! It was only a 25 minute bus ride away. Once we got there, we had to pay 1 sol just to go to the bathroom. So dumb ha then we went through the gate and saw Machu Picchu!! We didn't have time to explore just yet because we had only a short amount of time to do the Montaña hike (they closed it at noon). So we started that trek and let me tell you, it was no cake walk. SO. MANY. STAIRS. Over a mile of just stairs straight up the mountain side. I had to stop a lot because the altitude was killing me. But we made it up there after an hour and a half of stairs. We got up there just in time. They literally closed it down after we took some pictures. Machu Picchu was so far away!! It was just a little dot but it was still really cool. We met a fun couple while we were taking pictures and their names were Justin and Emerson. They're from New York! They were great. We hiked down with them and chatted the whole way. The way down was okay breathing wise but man my thighs and knees hurt. We made it down in about an hour! Once we were down, we had to go meet our tour guide! He walked us all through and around Machu Picchu and told us everything about it! He told us that a couple from Australian streaked across a big patch of grass in the middle of Machu Picchu and they had to go to prison and pay a hefty fine. Idiots ha so disrespectful to the Inca culture. Machu Picchu is incredible. There is symbolism in every stone. The stones were put together a certain way for each class of people. We learned so much! (I probably won't remember any of it by tomorrow) here's the stuff I remember: they strategically made the windows of the temple face the direction where on June 21st (winter solstice) and in December (summer solstice) the sun when rising would shine directly through the V in the mountains and through the window in the temple onto an alter and then they would know what season was beginning. They believe woman and man can both be royal so their temple is partially circular (representing the woman) and partially square (representing the man). The number of Windows in each building that they built is significant; you'll see them in groups of 3 (unity with Pacchu Mama (Mother Earth), Pacchu Papi (the heavens) [their godhead]), 4 (the four kingdoms), and 7 (symbolizes perfection). They fled from Machu Picchu because they thought that the Spaniards would find them and kill them but most of them actually ended up dying in the jungle and the ones that didn't were enslaved. The Spaniards never actually found Machu Picchu. They swaddled their babies until they could walk because they believed it kept their five points aligned (pineal gland, throat, sternum, navel, and reproduction system). When someone died, they put them in the fetal position because that was how they came in to the earth and they believed in reincarnation so they believed that would prepare them for their next life. They created terraces in order to have success in agriculture and it also provides stability. So there's a few fun facts for you! After the tour and taking a few pictures, we took the bus back down and we got a 2.5 liter bottle of Orange Fanta. That is my traveling drink. I crave it! Then we ate dinner at this little cafe and I got alpaca ravioli and it was good! :) after dinner, we just walked around the markets and bartered and saw some puppies! Then when it was time, we went to the train station. We sat across from the couple from Winnipeg and they were awesome! Their names were Linda and Rick Zorba and they told us what we should do in Ecuador and they had some great stories to tell. We talked the entire train ride. Once we arrived in Ollaytantambo, we were picked up and taken back to Cusco! Once we got to the Santa Maria Hostel, we went straight to bed!

June 17th
We had to be up by 6am so Randy could take us to the bus station. We were able to get breakfast (toast and juice) and then we headed out. We misplaced our bus tickets but we were able to get on with our passports luckily. Jeff saw a dog get hit by a car :( this bus ride was a way to Puno and also a tour and it's called the Route of the Sun! So we stopped at a church called Andahuaylillas and learned about that and we saw the Sistine Chapels of Latin America. Then we drove further and went to the Raqchi ruins. We ate in Sicuani and it was buffet style. It was really good! We had live music and then after we got to go outside and get a kiss from an alpaca and pet the llamas! After lunch, we stopped at La Raya and saw the highest point from Cusco to Puno (we think, we couldn't really hear the guide). The bus almost left us because we were bartering with a lady for a blanket, whoops. Haha then we went to Pukara! We went to a museum. This tour guide is hard to follow. He transitions straight from Spanish to English and expects us to know what he's saying ha he says you understand? After every sentence haha we wandered around the quaint city of Pukara and then we headed to Puno. Once we got to Puno, we were taken to the Intiqa Hotel. It was pretty nice!! They were very friendly. We just stayed in our room the rest of the night and ordered room service. We watched Nacho Libre and The Dark Knight in Spanish and then went to bed. 

June 18th
We had to be up early again and I woke up not feeling the greatest. We got picked up and we headed down to Lake Titikaka. We boarded the boat and went to the first floating island, Uros. We learned how they make the floating islands from dirt, bamboo, and rope. There were solar panels on the islands haha we couldn't believe they lived like that. When we got on the island, we made friends with their cat. Apparently mice swim to the island and the cats are there to kill them. We went into one of their huts and the bed was actually pretty comfortable. It was made from bamboo with a blanket over the top. They also make boats out of bamboo and empty plastic bottles. We were able to ride one to the next floating island, Amantani. It was really fun! They sang to us as we left. We rode past a bunch of communities. Once we got to Amantani, we tries quinoa bread and got a stamp in our passports! Then we went on an hour and a half boat ride to Taquile. This was another island in the lake but it wasn't made from bamboo. Once we got there we had to hike straight up the mountain to the village plaza. This little boy that lived there followed us around, whispering under his breath. We couldn't understand him haha we used all of the Spanish we knew on him. We asked how old he was, we told him we liked his Mickey sweater, we asked him everything we knew and he would answer and then go back to whispering haha then I got surrounded by a bunch of little girls with bracelets for sale. So I bought one (I'm weak). Taquile is famous for its knitting men. These men knit like crazy! They don't even have to look and whatever they are making looks amazing. It's so tightly knit as well. After we walked around the plaza, we walked around the island learning about the different plants and why they do what they do. It was a beautiful island! It reminded me of the Cinque Terre in Italy. We ate lunch facing Lake Titikaka and it was beautiful! Jeff got trout that was from Lake Titikaka and I got an omelet. I did try the trout though! It was very fresh and actually really good! After lunch we walked to the boat and headed back to Puno. We just walked around Puno for a bit and then went back to our hotel and ate dinner there. We tried to order cuy (guinea pig) but the hotel didn't have any left so we ate a dish called lomo saltado. 

June 19th
We were taken to the airport that was closest which was still an hour and a half drive to Juliaca and dropped off. We had a flight to catch to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We arrived in Guayaquil at 11pm and we had a car waiting for us to drive us the 6 hours to Banos. We slept on and off for the drive and we got to Banos at 5am.

June 20th
The Airbnb place that we were staying at didn't have check in until 9am and it was raining. Hard. I tried calling and texting the lady to see if there was any way that we could check in earlier and she said that the earliest would be 7am. So our driver took us to his hotel that he was staying at and we stayed in the lobby and took a quick nap and we were planning on walking to our Airbnb place but the driver woke up and took us there. So nice! We were so grateful. And to top it off, he didn't accept the tip we offered him. He just did it to be totally nice. That set a standard for us for Ecuador. The people were SO NICE. Anyway... It was still pouring rain. At the Airbnb, we took a quick snooze and then walked around Banos. It was such a cute little town. We found a tour company so we stopped by to see what Banos had to offer! We ended up booking our entire time in Banos out and it all worked together perfectly. It allowed us to do everything we wanted to do. The first thing we had to do was go see the Pailón del Diablo waterfall. The guy that was helping us (he looked EXACTLY like Johnny Depp!) called one of his friends to drive us to the waterfall. On our way up, we got to see a ton of scenery. Ecuador is beautiful! We stopped on the side of the road multiple times to take pictures. His friend was so awesome. We finally got to the waterfall but right as we got there, the police shut the trail down because of the rain. It was NUTS up there. The river was super high, super brown, and it was flowing super quickly. The police said we wouldn't be able to reach the waterfall because of how high the river was. So we got back in the car and on our way back down, part of the road was closed because of a landslide so we were stuck for like 20 minutes but then we were able to get through. The guy drove us back to the tour office and we hopped on a bus to go zip lining. We were with two guys and one was from Germany and the other was from Switzerland. Zip lining was WAY fun! It was still raining but we had waterproof jackets, pants, and boots on so it didn't effect us at all. The first zip line was tiny but then we hiked to each zip line and we were able to go over the river we'd seen earlier and do a Superman zip line back over it! Jeff and I got to go at the same time on two lines and we raced. Jeff won because he's fat ;) we had a blast. We were able to flip on one and go upside down for a minute. It was so much fun! After zip lining, the guide took us to the bridge and we did the swing! It seemed so sketchy. He dropped us off at the bridge and we had to wait for these other guys to come set it up and they walk up holding the gear and the rope for the swing and they set it up right in front of us! There was a rope already on the bridge that he used but he set this other rope up and I was like, uh you aren't going to test it?! ha Jeff went first so he got the gear on and we asked the guy if you jump out or if you just fall and he said we could do it either way. So Jeff climbed up on the side of the bridge and you have to climb over the railing to this tiny little ledge and then that is where you jump off. So Jeff got to the ledge and then just fell. I videoed it and I DIED laughing hahahaha Jeff yelled and then when he hit the rope's length, it caught him and it wasn't a bungee so he did this shrill, high pitch "EHH-AHHH" when it caught him hahaha it was HILARIOUS. Then they lowered him down to the raft at the bottom and he hiked back up to us. The guy from Germany went next and then it was my turn. Honestly, climbing over the railing was the scariest part for me haha it was so sketchy. They counted me down and I fell. It HURT when you hit the ropes length. It just catches you and your back takes the brunt of it! That man should tell EVERYONE to jump out because it would go with the flow of the swing. It was beautiful though. We were right over the river and it was super green and just awesome! So they lowered me down to the raft and then I hiked back up and we were able to see the pictures they took for us. Jeff and I always end up buying the pictures from those types of things haha so we bought them and then walked back to the Airbnb. We laid down for a bit and then we walked down the street to find food. We ate a this restaurant on the corner and I got a sandwich. It was actually pretty good! And we got these Fiora Vanti drinks and they were SUPER GOOD. That night we decided to take a taxi to the thermal pools. It was called Luna Runtun Hot Springs. It was a super nice hotel up on the hill and it overlooked Banos. We got there and we paid like $20 and got full access to the thermal pools. They gave us towels and these swimmer caps that we had to wear in the thermal pools. We were the only ones out there! It was slightly cloudy but Banos looked beautiful and it was fun and relaxing! :) we were there for a little over an hour and then it started raining and we were getting hot so we went inside and got a Fiora Vanti drink while they called us a taxi. The taxi took us back to the Airbnb and we went to bed. 

June 21st
We had to wake up at 6:30am because we had to walk to the tour office and meet our Amazon jungle guide. We were the only ones going on the tour which was AWESOME. We were able to do a lot of things that we wouldn't have been able to do if there would have been more of us. We had to drive a while to get to our first stop but we stopped a few times along the way to take pictures at good spots. The guide knew exactly where to stop! He was awesome! Our first official stop was El Refugio Spa Garden. He gave us rain jackets and rain boots that we could wear just in case of rain but it actually got super warm while we were there! When we got there, he gave us some bananas that we could feed to the monkeys. There was a monkey that wandered free through the refuge and we saw him almost right when we walked in! We named him Raymond. He loved the GoPro and put his face right up to it! He climbed on my arm but then ran off ha but not before I was able to get some good pictures and give him a few bananas :) we had a blast at the Refuge! We saw jaguars, tons of monkeys, alligators, weasels, parrots, and snakes. And every animal was obsessed with the GoPro. We got some amazing pictures of the jaguars freaking out about the GoPro haha and there were a couple of monkeys that got a hold of the GoPro and tried to rip it out of our hands haha we had so much fun. We saw Raymond a few times throughout our time there and at one point, a tour group walked past and right as they did, he jumped on my shoulder haha I monopolized him. I feel bad. I told Jeff I would back off and he could get a cool picture with him and then Raymond came to me haha whoops :) after the Refuge, we drove for a while to this little village near Puyo and they fed us lunch. Jeff got a fish and it was still in fish form. It looked disgusting. ha there were butterflies all over and it was fun seeing all of the weird bugs that were there. They also had a cat that loved us haha it hung around by my feet constantly. After we ate, we started our jungle tour. Our guide seriously knew everything. He got red liquid out of one tree and he said that girls would drink it if they were on their period. He called it "dragon's blood". He said it also acts as sunscreen. He pointed out a hive and it was a hive of termites and he would eat them and he said that they were a natural mosquito repellant. We rubbed the termites and the hive into our skin. Jeff even ate one. He called one tree a rubber tree and he said they used it in their cement and it felt like glue to the touch. He also grabbed a huge spider and yo yo-ed with it. It was incredible listening and learning from him! We walked through the jungle for like 3 miles and we stopped at a waterfall. We loved being the only people on the tour! We really got to know our guide and we even gave him one of our GoPro poles that we had haha at the waterfall, we jumped in and swam under the water. It was so much fun! We love waterfalls haha after we swam for a while, we took another way back to the village. Once we returned to the village, we drove to another village not too far away. We had to walk across this bridge that was over the river to get there. Once we got to the village, they took us in this hut and they showed us how to shoot a blow dart. The dart was tiny and the chute was super long! The guide and the people living in the village were incredible at shooting it! They hit the target every time. The target was about 15 yards away. Jeff and I tried and Jeff got close but I couldn't do it! I couldn't get the right speed! I blew out too slow or something haha after we did that, they painted our faces with a berry that they grew in the village. It was a practice that the village had for their tribal dance. We looked awesome :) haha once our faces were painted, we were able to look around at the jewelry that was made in the village and we bought some bracelets and then we went rafting down the river. Our guide left us with this man and his child and neither of them spoke any English at all. Our guide said he would meet us down the river. We rode down the river in silence and in a canoe that the villagers had made. It was fun to go down the river and pass all of the villages. After canoeing down the river, we met our guide and he took us to his family's hut and we met his wife, kids, and parents! They taught us how chocolate is made and we were able to make some ourselves! First they get the cacao fruit and you eat the stuff around the cacao beans and then dry them out for a few days. Then you cook the cacao beans over a fire until they pop. After they've popped, you peel the shell off. Once they've been peeled, they get crushed in this handy crank (it was super hard to crank it) and then you smooth the crushed cacao bean onto a big palm leaf and then put it in the fridge until it hardens. It's a long process but we were able to participate in each step and it was so much fun! We were able to melt some of the chocolate that had already hardened into some milk and we had natural hot chocolate and sugar. Natural chocolate is SO bitter. It's not that good, to be honest. haha but I added tons of sugar to my hot chocolate and it was actually really good (I know, I know sugar makes everything good). They also offered us just a piece of the chocolate and I grabbed a huge chunk on accident and had to eat it all ha it was so bitter but the hot chocolate made up for it. His family was so nice. We fed parrots bananas and then they gave us some chocolate to take home with us. Then we made the trek back to Banos. On our way back, we picked a couple up at a gas station and they rode with us to Banos. As we came through a tunnel the road was closed because a bunch of rocks had fallen and blocked the road. We were stuck up there for at least 2 hours. We just played Word Brain in the back seat and the couple tried to help us but they sucked haha they didn't speak much English. We eventually made it back to Banos and we packed our stuff up and then we went to bed. 


June 22nd
The next morning, a driver from the same company that got us to Banos, picked us up and drove us to Quito. I fell asleep for the drive but Jeff said the drive was awesome. The scenery was unreal. Every time Jeff went to take a picture, the driver would try and stop haha so nice but Jeff was like no we're good haha so Jeff stopped taking pictures. haha One fun fact about Ecuador is they use the American dollar. They had a financial crisis and so the Ecuadorian dollar collapsed. Anyway, we arrived in Quito and we had the driver drop us off at some random hotel because it was one of the stops for our next tour. When we got there, we asked the hotel if we could hold our bags there and they said of course! (people there are SO NICE) and they did it for free. Our tour didn't start for another hour or so so we went to the McDonald's across the street and ate. Then our tour bus arrived! We hopped on and we drove to Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world). Apparently there are two equators. These explorers built this tall tower that supposedly sat right on the equator but then with modern GPS and everything, the actual equator is 240 meters north of the tower ha so we visited both sites. At the actual equator, we watched our guide drain water and it spun different directions depending on the side of the equator we were on. It went clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere and on the equator it drops straight down. We also tried to balance on the equator and we balanced an egg. I was one of two people in our group that was able to do it! I was very proud of me :) we walked through all of the shops around the equator and then it was time to head back. Once we got back to the hotel, we grabbed our stuff and then we took a taxi to the airport and chilled for a while. We had a red eye flight so we finally got to Logan around 10am and I had to take Jeff straight to work. We LOVED this trip!!