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Honeymoon Part 3: Return From The Dead

Forging ahead!

We had just cut our honeymoon a week short due to a desire to lie (lay?) in our own beds at home for free instead of for $80/day in Peru.  This decision sadly eliminated the pinnacle of our honeymoon -- a 4 day Inca trail hike to Machu Picchu.  I have spent a lot of time since leaving Peru convincing myself that Machu Picchu is probably lame and extremely un-beautiful.  It was such a bucket list item for me...and now I will never see it.  Truth is, where I stand right now, I never want to go back to Peru.  I don't like saying that.  I truly loved the good parts.  But the feeling of being trapped there while feeling miserable is scarred into my mind and association with the country.

Once we were home, we laid low and tried to recover.  I let my work know I was home a week early and would be coming in the following Monday.  My boss replied, "why don't you try to keep the honeymoon going here? The weather has been beautiful."  It had been beautiful in California, high 60s.  I'm so thankful my boss was kind enough to suggest it.

My stomach was still going haywire, but improving.  We worked to adapt our wimpy legs to movement by taking a very slow 3 mile walk one day, and then a 7 mile walk the next day on the new walking path of the bay bridge.  I felt like a baby deer learning how to walk.  I seriously lost all my leg muscles.  Walking was still making my legs cramp!

By Monday morning we had a plan.  Instead of returning to work, we would resuscitate the last week of our honeymoon with a drive to Pinnacles National Park where we would go on a gentle hike, and if by 5:00 p.m. we were feeling ok enough that the thought of being stuck in another hotel room didn't terrify us....we would drive to Disneyland.

The thought of a hotel room still did terrify me.  I felt I had just moved mountains to try and get home to my own bed from thoudands of miles away.  But the temptation of Disneyland slightly outweighed my wimpy-ness.  Our plan went through!

Pinnacles National Park is a northern California park that recently made the leap over from State Park status (thanks Obama!).  It is notorious for its caves.  We have been wanting to go all year.

Before we left on our honeyoon, Corina from surfdome.com offered to send me any item from the surfdome website.  The site (which is based in London) is a retailer with a focus on sports and outdoors -- kind of like REI mixed with Sports Basement.  I hemmed and hawed between a sports bra and running shorts -- two things I always need more of -- before striking genius.  We needed a new hiking backpack for our energetic itinerary in Peru!

I browsed the backpacks carefully and picked this one.



My main criteria were large mesh side pocket for water bottle (I'm not into the water pouch/ camel back hydration); roomy enough for toiletries, food, and a change of clothes; hidey hole pockets for things like keys and wallets; and comfortable padded straps.  I picked a good one.  It is "mens" but the Gentleman and I have already split usage of it.  Tons of other luggage and backpack options that I was browsing can be found here.

We obviously didn't get to use the backpack in Machu Picchu, but we put it to use at Pinnacles.  We are hike-oholics with the Bay Area offerings, so this was a desperately needed item and will be used to death.  Thankful to Surfdome and please check their site out for last minute Christmas gifts (if you are in the UK it will get to you as long as you purchase by 3:00 p.m. on Monday!) and for anything you don't get for Christmas.  The selection is neverending.  And hiking is good for the soul.


Quiet: the red-shirted species of backpack model hikes all the way from the parking lot to the trailhead.



Work it.

The hike was a breath of fresh air.  Energizing and beautiful, and every part of me was happy to be aerobic again.

Also loving these hiking pants I bought at REI before we left for Peru.
It was a monday or tuesday (can't....remember) so the park was empty which is exactly how I like my national parks.  We only ran into one couple, and they were amusingly obsessed with trying to share our respective hike routes.  We were basically hiking the same loop in reverse.  It was an exciting conversation.




Man, whenever we hike the Gentleman always ends up 5-10 yards ahead of me and it kills me. I imagine people who pass us are like, are they in a fight, or....?  It's just the way we hike.  Not a ton of hand-holding, although that does happen too.




What's more beautiful I ask -- my sideburn look, or the Pinnacles rocks?

This little tunnel below provided the Gentleman with the opportunity to show off his yoga-mocking skills.  I could mock yoga all day.  It's okay I'm sure yogis make fun of runners all the time too.



This position is called the stupid starfish.



And this is brave downward dog; brave because it breaks all the rules by doing downward dog differently.

This day hike was clearly no Machu Picchu but it was still fantastic.  In addition to reviving my legs, I was able to work out my arm muscles a little bit too.  Below.  It was hard work but I only held the rock up for 4 hours.



The piece de resistance was the caves.  I'm not going to lie, it was way scarier than I thought it would be.  You literally NEED to bring a flashlight because it is pitch pitch PITCH black during parts where you are climbing down steep crevices.  All I could think about was James Franco getting stuck by a rock and sawing his arm off.  Poor James Franco :(




Climbing down into a cave

This is what it looked like inside.  Now you know what flashlight on black looks like. 
I had my new favorite snack in the world during this hike.  It will be featured in my next post.

After something like 8 miles of hiking we packed it up and drove to Anaheim, arriving at 10:30 p.m.  The week before Thanksgiving is a great time to go to Disneyland -- hotels were cheap, vacant, and the park was all decked out for Christmas but not crowded at all.

We all know what Disneyland looks like and we all love it (does anyone dislike it? I'd really like to know) so I'll spare you the details and just show you photos of yours truly.  We spent two full days park hopping and man, Disneyland is simply such an easy trip.  Traveling the world may be worth the effort, to learn and explore all the sites and smells different countries and cultures have to offer but....it is also extremely nice to sit back and have constant entertainment come at you.  Like I said, a very easy trip.



I don't understand the physics of the face the Gentleman is making in Splash Mountain.  I LOL for days every time I look at it.


This was a highlight.  The new "Cars" ride in California Land will blow your mind. 


That's just how we ride roller-coasters; while gazing into each other's eyes


The Gentleman says he was doing a "hurrah" fist pump but I think he was fixing to punch me in the skull.  So not cool man, look how cute and happy I look right before being punched.

If you didn't already know, the Disneyland bakery/candy stores have the best best BEST items in the world.  I could write a whole post on all the goodies I ate while in Disneyland.  Truthfully my stomach was still adjusting after the Peru bug and one of the only things I was craving and tolerating was straight up sugar.  I ate two of these caramel-and-chocolate covered marshmallow sticks (the one below had cashews in it too); an enormous "apple pie" flavored caramel apple; a hunk of toffee covered in chocolate; an ice cream cone filled with marshmallow and covered in white chocolate....ok this is gross.  Sorry.  But please understand I WAS SICK and also at Disneyland.  Treat yo-self.



I intended to end this post with a recap of my return to running, but this is just too long and too many pictures.  I'm starting to run from the very bottom (as in, 3 painful and slow miles) and it's a struggle but that's what happens to your body after a month off of running and a full week off of moving any muscles.   If any one else is starting from square one, let's do it together and whip into running shape!

Happy holidays for now!

Honeymoon Part 2: Epic Fail, One Of The Few Times In Internet History The Phrase Is Accurate

Ah, where were we last?

Galloping in a field of toucans and monkeys and anacondas.  Hugging sloths.

We had one last meal in our Amazonian lodge and the "rainforest" started showing it's true colors -- the rain started flooding down.  Down and down and down.  It was a Friday, so the lodge finally started filling up with other visitors which made us giggle.  First, because they were arriving in such wet circumstances, and second, because we could have really used the company.  Power in numbers against the tarantulas and such.  (I yelled at our guide for trying to prod a tarantula out of it's hidey hole during a pitch black night hike.  I never need to do another rainforest night hike again.)

The Gentleman was still suffering a fever and nausea, but he bravely survived a 1.5 hour boat ride up the Amazon river to return to the city of Iquitos.



This photo is from our boat ride TO the lodge, but add grey skies and heavy rain and it looked the same during our return.




The Amazon river was a mile wide and tasted like milky tea.  I mean looked--looked like milky tea.


Can you imagine that boat being your taxi to commute to work?  A lot of the villagers worked at a petroleum factory nearby, so their commute is something I traveled thousands of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to experience.  Hey. 

Laundry and bath time.  If these two only knew I would make them famous on the RoseRunner blog.
We took it easy during our remaining afternoon/evening in Iquitos because we simply did not enjoy being outside of our hostel, with the motorcycle sounds and smells.  The Gentleman regained a bit of appetite, so we we found a restaurant and I ate pizza and a salad.  Turns out you aren't supposed to eat raw foods (including lettuce leaves) when you are a tourist in Peru.  I got the bottled water memo, but not the no-salad-or-uncooked-produce memo.

Within an hour of returning to our hostel after dinner, I started feeling weak and achy and feverish.  No big deal, I was probably catching the 24-hour flu that we suspected the Gentleman caught, so I went to sleep ready to fight it off, lose a day of vacation, and return roaring for the next step of our honeymoon: Puno, for a voyage around Lake Titicaca.  It was the second tier leading to our honeymoon highlight: a hike to Machu Picchu.

The next morning was hell.  We had a long day of traveling (11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.) by motorcycle, airplane, layover, airplane, one-hour taxi ride, to get to Puno.

This was one of the most physically painful and uncomfortable days of my life.  I had to use the bathroom every 20 minutes.  I couldn't eat anything.  I was writhing with abdominal pain.  And I was trembling with fever chills the whole time, which earned some very alarmed looks on the airplane.  At the time I was extremely annoyed that people were staring at me because I was simply trying not to barf on them.  In hindsight, I would also have been like "THIS PERSON HAS THE BLACK PLAGUE, GET ME OFF THE PLANE."


I'm dyinngggg
We occasionally thought it was worth documenting our fall from grace.  But most of this ugly will stay only in my memory.

I was beyond relieved to collapse on the bed of our Puno hotel room.  The most beautiful sight of a bathroom just steps away.

Puno threw another obstacle in our way, however, because it is at 12,500 feet elevation.  It didn't take long for us to start getting headaches, start breathing oddly, and start wondering whether our diarrhea and other weak symptoms were from our prior illness or from the elevation.  We took prescription pills for the elevation and patiently waited for them to kick in.

A day went by; we canceled our overnight stay with a local family on a floating island in Lake Titicaca.  Another day went by, and we then canceled our replacement day tour of Lake Titicaca.  We  also canceled our plans to get up off the bed and brush our teeth and eat a piece of food and do ANYTHING living species do.

Days ticked by and all I saw of Puno was cracks of light from the hotel window.

Eventually we asked the front desk for oxygen to see if it would help.

Ha. haha. sooo dramatic.
It didn't.  It relieved the Gentleman of some degree of his headache, but I suspected the elevation was not what was killing me.  My heart rate had dropped to normal, I was breathing fine, so whatever was ailing us was some bug, not the elevation.

Eventually it had been 5 days of lying on a bed in pain, eating (drinking?) little more than gatorade, when I was convinced by my dad to visit a doctor.  (Kaiser rejected my call to the advice hotline once I told them I was out of country.  Gotta know the fine print.)  I pouted about not wanting to go see the local shaman, which was my way of joking through my fears of medicine in another country.

A kind doctor visited our hotel and then taxi'd me to a clinic.  This was exciting because I saw the sun for a minute.

We gave the hospital room below a long hard look of "nevermind, let's go back to the hotel" but we stuck it out.  I got an IV of electrolytes and antibiotics.  We were there for about 5 hours.



This was about the time that I finally let the truth sink in.  I wanted nothing in the whole world more than to be HOME.  The thought flickered in and out previously, but I was patiently waiting for the sickness to pass and our vacation to resume and not giving it any serious consideration.  


We did it sweetie! We made it to our honeymoon!

The IV did not magically cure me.  We went back to the hotel with a bag full of antibiotic pills and other prescriptions. 

We had sailed through our entire stay in Puno and the next step on our itinerary was a 9 hour bus tour to Cusco.  No part of me (or the Gentleman, who BTW was not as pathetic as me but was still suffering stomach distress and no appetite) was going to survive a 9 hour bus ride.  What's more, that 9 hour bus tour was supposed to be followed by a strenuous 4 day backpacking trip.

And so we threw in the towel.  It was done.  We started booking a flight to Lima, and thereafter a flight to SFO.  This was a formidable task.  Fuck LAN.  Worst airline in the world.  We lost megabucks because their website and phone service made it impossible to rebook our flight home, so we flew home with another airline.  Give me a holler if you know how to get a complaint heard and fixed with LAN.

We taxi'd out of Puno to the airport in Juliaca, and I snapped a photo of the only view I ever had of Lake Titicaca.  To be honest, I don't even know if that is Lake Titicaca.  Maybe it is an inlet.  I'll never see it I guess...




At the airport, ready to survive a short flight to Lima.  I kicked some guy out of his aisle seat so I had easier access to the toilets.



The flight from Lima to SFO sucked balls but truly the suckiest part was that they played the SAME Tim Allen movie THREE times in a row.  In spanish.

I have a crazy souvenir from our honeymoon and my hospital visit.

That's my arm.
Something in my vein really disliked the IV I was given.  This photo was taken today, four weeks after the hospital visit.  It is tender, painful, and bothers the crap out of me.  But at least I'm HOME.

And finally for the photo below, because this wouldn't be a proper RoseRunner post without making fun of silly bloggers a little bit.

After a week of not eating I obviously lost weight.  I also lost a ton of muscle.  My hard earned runners legs, withered away.  When we got outta that hotel to travel home, I had to shuffle slowly because my pathetic calves kept cramping on me.  Yeah, forget running--my muscles couldn't even manage to walk.  slowly.

My point is to reiterate what has been said before by those wiser than I to remind women of the stupidity of succumbing to the famous thigh gap goal.  I don't have the build for a thigh gap.  Guys, the only time in my adulthood that I have had "a thigh gap" was as a result of insufferable montezuma's revenge that stripped me of my beautiful running muscles (see below).  The minute I started running again, my thighs redeveloped and the thigh gap went away.  Running is awesome.  You can take my thigh gap, I choose running.

This is what unhappy thighs look like
Well that's about it for Honeymoon Part 2.  Believe it or not, there is a part 3.

Honeymoon Part 1: The Good Years

Hi, so, I'm back from a 3 week honeymoon! I'm going to break this into 3 posts, but some mighty fun unpredictable stuff happened during this so-called honeymoon so hopefully it won't bore too much.

I'm slowly dipping back into running this week after 3 weeks off (and sad story: so far there is no doubt my left leg did not cure itself of it's chronic issues).  so this recap is running free.  And VERY photo heavy.

We left November 2 for Lima, Peru.  After watching the two worst movies of the year on a red-eye flight (JT's "friends with benefits" and Vince Vaughn's "the intern") and not sleeping at all, we met our personal escorts--family members of my long-time friend Daniel.  These strangers swooped us up and made us feel right at home in Lima.


Our host served us this delicious fruit (inside the leaves) that I cannot remember the name of....

Two of the lovelies showing us around Kennedy Park in the Miraflores district

I have an adorable story.  There was a bit of a language barrier because me and the Gentleman speak only pathetic high-school level 1 Spanish, and the two pictured above did not speak any English. Their daughters did speak some English, however, and I had emailed one of the daughters about being picked up from the airport.  When her mom picked me up from the airport, she wrote down on a sign what she believed to be my name, based on the signature line of the email I had sent to her daughter.  The sign? 

"Best 
Caitlin."  

I stared at the sign for a solid minute, trying to determine if that was me or not.  It was. (That's my first name if you haven't stalked any of my race results yet and figured it out). 

One thing I noticed immediately that surprised me about Lima -- the air quality.  Not so good.  It was hard to tell whether it was cloudy or smoggy, probably a mix of both.  With something between 8 and 12 million residents in the area with smog-check-less cars, it's no wonder.  I hope the City conquers that problem. 

Cloudy or smoggy? Either way, lovely coastal view
I spied a lot of runners along the beach paths -- virtually the only place I saw any runners.  And this may be in my head but...I swear that everyone ran differently.  Their stride was shorter or something.  A different cadence.  Tighter shoulders.  It was something.

We walked to the Barranco district, which I loved, and some teens made us participate in a filmed interview about what we liked about Lima in our terrible spanish.  

No shortage of rainbow buses
Downtown Lima had fascinating architecture and historical buildings.  We scoped all the highlights, including the San Francisco catacombs.  I just about lost my lunch looking at all the skeletons... creeeepy.

Other notes about Lima:

  • Banks were flooded with lines.  We noticed this in other cities too (Iquitos, Puno).  What is this? I haven't been inside a bank in like 8 months.
  • Chicken.  So much chicken.  Lot's of chicken restaurants.
  • Seemingly nobody drank water with meals -- only jugo fresca.  There was a lot of pride in serving fresh juice.  And it was delicious! 
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way -- and they are very timid about taking their turn to cross the street!  The drivers, on the other hand....very aggressive.
  • We heard a lot of Beatles music.  No complaint there.
  • Throughout Peru, the policy is that you throw your toilet paper in a trash bin, not in the toilet.  This took a lot of getting used to and was one of my favorite things to leave behind when we got back home....foreshadowing....next post.

ONTO.  The amazon rainforest!!

After Lima we flew straight to Iquitos.

A beautiful inlet from the Amazon river
I don't know how else to say this but Iquitos was....rough.  Smelly, loud, dirty.  The people were very pleasant but for the life of us we couldn't figure out where they went to eat food.  There were a few touristy restaurants (pizza) and ice cream joints (flavored sugar water...it did not pass) but I never really found the local cuisine.

A gazillion motorcycles
The city of 500,000 all rides around in these noisy smelly motorcycles.  It was exhausting being outside for more than 20 minutes because of the sound and smell of exhaust.

A village of floating homes in Iquitos (they rise with the water, which floods 1/2 the year)

A never-ending labyrinth of vendors.
We stumbled upon a secret hippie haven in Iquitos.  There was a handful of white hippies who settled here for whatever reason (drugs? I honestly don't know) which meant we found a restaurant I wanted to eat at.  It was like finding a pocket of the Bay Area on the other side of the Equator. 
Hippie Cafe

Hippies selling crafts
My heart died a little bit in Iquitos because of all the abandoned, sick dogs.  We were told that people like puppies, then don't feel so fondly of the grown dogs and abandon them.  They limp around (sweetly, not aggressive) looking for food, with tumors and scabs all over.  Sad. :(

We got outta Iquitos and took a boat down the Amazon until we landed at the secluded lodge we would be staying at for 3 days.

AmaZING amaZON

It was a real life Disney jungle cruise

The Sanchicuy Lodge
It was crazy.  This lodge has something like 30 rooms to fit up to 60+ people during a busy season...but we were the only guests one night, and one of only two couples another night.  It was incredibly spooky the night we were alone.  The full tale is too embarrassing to share, but it included us lying awake all night strategizing our plan to smash an imaginary intruder in the face with our lantern when he tried to attack.  The sounds of the jungle make you hallucinate I think.




We hiked our merry way to meet some folks from the Yagua tribe who wore traditional garb to show off and make things.....generally awkward.  We felt like total tools for intruding on their culture while they did a song and dance for us (mostly figuratively).

These marks mean "married," or possibly "death to the whities"

but this weapon was mad fun

Bullseye, kinda sorta

On a boat.  Again.

Totally LOVED the food--lots of fish and plantains--the Gentleman started hating plantains after the 10th meal but I loved them forever.
Another fun excursion was visiting a local village, Santa Maria.  Population 150, no electricity.  They (well at least the men) play soccer til dark then go to sleep.  We got to squeeze some sugar water out of a sugar cane...branch? terminology? 



That's the primary and secondary schools I do believe

Even my iphone camera found this village lovely
Another day, another stunning ride down the Amazon to another village.  We saw pink dolphins.  They exist--fresh water pink dolphins! Amazing.  So much stuff I'm leaving out....and so many photos....you don't even know....I'm trying to keep it short

The kids rule the villages -- they just run around and play to their heart's content

Pendulum-like bird nests

Seriously??!


This was a nerve-wracking but unforgettable hike in the "primary" forest.  Termites, monkeys, snakes, and enormous trees that spit out cotton.

Oh yeah then we went piranha fishing.  

We caught some piranhas and ate them for dinner.  They are hideous with their sharp teeth.  Also, by "we" I mean I "caught" 4 and they all fell off my little hook, so the Gentleman and our guide did all of the catching.  I was legit angry about that.  I'll catch a piranha one day.

Piranha: 1, Me: 0, actually you're a piranha and I'm a human so i win

Our final day in the Amazon, I went to a wildlife reserve with our guide all by my lonesome.  The Gentleman had fallen really ill the night before (his fever, by the way, strongly contributed to our paranoia and murder attack plan that night).  He stayed in our lodge while I went out to the most amazing interactive zoo the world has ever known.

Toucan.  Enter froot loops joke...?


I got attacked by friendly animals.





BABY SLOTH TIME



Best friends? Okay deal
Sloths are surprisingly....soft, and extremely light.  Very hollow feeling.  Serious "Moe" haircut from 3 stooges.  And not surprisingly, very slow and stoned.

Mama sloth below.



True story - these monkeys smelled gum and a See's lollipop in my jacket pocket (which I brought to the reserve because 3 meals/a day is hard for me! I'm used to snacking every hour, so I would feel starved halfway between meals and the lollipops from the airport were all I had to tide me over.)  And so the monkeys attacked me.  And stole the lollipop.  Which involved unzipping my jacket pocket.  


Monkey, you, are a psycho



Last, but not least, an Anaconda.  

Shiiiiiitttt

And then it ate me and I died.  
So sad the Gentleman had to miss this day :(  But he got to live while I died like J-Lo in Anaconda the movie (or does she die in it?)

Next post will be shorter, less pictures, and generally pathetic.  

Who else has had a magical Peru vacation? 
If you have honeymooned, where did you go? How long? Please share your honeymoon disaster stories.  Because mine is headed in that direction and I need company.