February 21, 2013

For the Love of Blue Cheese

by Laura Brown

This for all you blue cheese lovers. I’ve just concocted something delicious that will change your life forever. With the help of another great blogger at Skinnytaste, I’ve adapted this recipe to suit my creamy, dreamy desires. We are all aware that blue cheese dressing is packed full of calories and fat with the use of mayonnaise and buttermilk. My phobia of mayo, obsession with Greek yogurt and goal to have a rockin’ bod this summer have merged into greatness. Do yourself and loved ones a favor by making this fabulous dressing!

Guiltless Blue Cheese Dressing and Dip

1 cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt (Chobani or Fagé are best)
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 T. Lemon juice
1 T. Red wine vinegar
1/8 t. Garlic powder
1/8 t. Onion powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Stir all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Serve with veggies, salad or if you are like me, smother on anything in sight.

At only around 40 calories per 2 tablespoons, you can go a little crazy.

Enjoy!

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November 17, 2012

Black Friday Strikes Again

by Laura Brown

OUR Walmart, a United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) backed worker group is organizing 1,000 protests around the nation on Black Friday.  The UFCW and workers have melded their creative juices with plans to include flash mobs and walk outs in an attempt to educate shoppers about the quandary of Walmart workers.

Not only are employees required to work two hours earlier on Thanksgiving Day for a jump start on Black Friday, many workers received retaliation for organizing worker groups seeking a sustainable wage, benefits and improved safety in the workplace. According to strikers, Walmart has decreased hours and terminated employees who speak of unions or labor groups. Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States, providing 1.4 million jobs to the American people.  Phillip Jennings writes in Huff Post that Walmart is “a family-owned business lacking family values.” Isn’t it time they set the bar on fair labor standards for the retail industry?

On Wednesday, a former Walmart employee by the name of Alex Riveria was visiting an Orlando store with a member of OUR Walmart to speak with current employees about their rights to organize. Riveria was handcuffed by law enforcement after a Walmart manager lied to the police officer, stating a trespassing warning had been previously filed against Riveria. When the manager was unable to show proof of the warning and the police officer found no such warning on file, Riveria was released from custody. Riveria feels that this public handcuffing is an example of Walmart’s scare tactic to keep current employees from joining and organizing unions.

Following suit, Target plans to open their doors at 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day, just one hour after Walmart. Last year, Target opened their doors at midnight despite a 200,000 signature petition on Change.org asking the company to “save Thanksgiving for its employees, their families and consumers.” This year, over twenty petitions are circulating in protest of Black Friday’s early arrival. Many petitions were started by loved ones of employees who feel this shopping holiday is unnecessary and intrusive to families. If employees are expected to work the night of Thanksgiving then they will most likely spend the day resting instead of celebrating the holiday with their families. Some have no issue working on the true Black Friday, but Thanksgiving is one of three holidays observed in the retail industry and workers would like to keep it that way.  Target responded to the recent outcry, claiming employee preferences were taken into account and that many volunteers came forward to work the Thanksgiving shift. According to survey results published on Targets blog consumers preferred to shop after their Thanksgiving dinner instead of early the next morning, ultimately leading to an early opening.

Let’s not leave out Kmart, who will unlock their doors on Thanksgiving Day from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., only to close and reopen their doors from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. That seems terribly inconvenient for families attempting to congregate over the holiday, not to mention barriers to transportation. Until someone backs down, consumers included, it appears that the doors will continue to open earlier every year. Americans have grown accustomed to low prices on the shelves, but that price is paid in full by factory workers and those in the retail industry. Too many retail workers struggle to survive on their minimum wage earnings. Despite the false promise of full-time work upon hire, many low wage employees work less than 30 hours a week, excluding them from benefits eligibility and leaving them vulnerable to constant shift cuts.

Before you excuse yourself from the Thanksgiving feast in search of the lowest prices, give some thought to your shopping practices. What cost are others paying for our low shelf prices? Research the retailers; do their values align with yours? Let us be conscious and compassionate consumers this holiday season! 

– Laura Brown

November 9, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Washes Away Wages

by Laura Brown

Many of us enjoyed the flexibility that our employers provided while Hurricane Sandy blew through the East Coast. Some had the option of working remotely and some simply got paid to stay home while cities halted all operations. For many of the poorest workers, a different story is told; if you don’t show up to work you don’t get paid, regardless if employers are open for business.

According to an article in The New York Times, those who have fared the worse in the lethargic economic recovery are low-wage workers, paid at an hourly rate on a schedule subject to daily change.  Imagine the difficulty finding child care at the drop of a hat, maintaining a household structure or scheduling college courses around an ever-changing work schedule. With a whopping 86 percent of jobs created since 2009 and 60 percent of overall jobs being part-time, it leaves too many struggling without safety nets such as access to affordable health insurance and unemployment benefits. New Jersey Department of Labor states that from 2010 to 2011 the bottom 20 percent has seen their annual income drop $463, while the top tier has added $2000 to their annual income. Sandy has exposed the threat of a far greater toll on those who can only afford to live paycheck to paycheck, unable to mend repairs from the destructive storm or put warm food on the table.

New York City and surrounding counties, areas of New Jersey and Massachusetts are providing disaster unemployment relief to those without safety nets. Self-employed street vendors, farmers and taxi-drivers whose workplace was damaged or whose travel had been restricted through affected areas may be eligible for relief. Like most relief programs, there are barriers to access. The relief program may not be of assistance to employees who have an increased commute to work or a commute that is more financially exhausting. The article reports an individual who spent eight hours traveling to work a five hour shift, boiling her effective pay down to $4 an hour.

It comes as no surprise that salaried workers reap more federal labor law protections than hourly workers. For instance, employers are required to pay salaried workers if their business is closed for less than a week, even though employees may be asked to use their vacation time. Of course, there are part-time employees who are lucky enough to have benefits or sympathetic employers who provide paid leave in time of disaster, but that is not the norm.

 To be fair, there is a population who prefer to work part time, such as college students and those looking to earn a little extra cash around the holidays. But, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited in The New York Times article “A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift”  when it comes to the hospitality and retail industries, over three million working part-time since 2006 express a desire for full-time work. Since this time, one million full-time jobs have been cut with more than 500,000 part-time jobs added, increasing food stamp and Medicaid enrollment.

For employers, the most efficient way to cut costs is to cut full-time work. In the service industry full-time workers average 57 percent more in total compensation than part-time workers, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift” highlights the use of technology that businesses like Jamba Juice use to manipulate costs. Using software such as Kronos has saved businesses millions of dollars by tracking employees overall sales, allowing them reduce shifts during slow times. With the holidays rapidly approaching, seasonal, part-time employment is on the rise to accommodate the influx of shoppers. Come January, those seasonal workers will be back in search of employment. When will this cycle of economic instability recede?

 Laura Brown

October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

by Laura Brown

I just made a pumpkin pie smoothie and I feel it must be shared with the world.

Pull out the blender and make this ASAP.  It’s rich, creamy and not so guilty either….

Ingredients

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup milk (soy or almond if you prefer)

2 T non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 T honey

A few shakes of cinnamon

A few ice cubes

Blend until smooth. This makes a single serving. If you are kind enough to share then you might want to double the recipe.  Or make two for yourself.

If you are feeling ambitious there is plenty of room to play around with this mixture. For example: adding vanilla yogurt, protein powder, caramel or banana.  Banana really helps with the creaminess of a smoothie.  I usually keep frozen bananas on hand, but I ran out. It also eliminates the need for ice.

This is what the season of fall is all about!

Cheers,

LB

October 20, 2011

Laura Balls

by Laura Brown

Have you ever had a Larabar? It’s a tasty non-granola bar made of fruit and nuts.  That’s it.  Dried fruit and raw nuts.  No added sugar, salt, preservatives, or anything that I can’t pronounce or even attempt to spell.  Dried fruit and nuts. OK, maybe cinnamon…or whatever else you want to add. Chocolate chips?  Mmmmm….chocolate.

After noticing a few friends had successfully completed homemade Larabar’s and my wonderful mother sent me a 20 year old food processor that I will argue is sturdier and more efficient than any you will find on the shelves today, I decided to start processing.

I adapted my recipe from Enlightened Cooking; a great resource and many varieties to stem from.  I decided to stick with the Very Cherry for starters.  Because the recipe only made two bars, I opted to quadruple it since I am making bars for my cousin’s drive back to Virginia.

Also, just because they are called Larabar’s doesn’t mean they have to be in the bar shape. In fact, I found it efficient and more importantly, FUN, to roll them into balls.  I like to call them, Lauraballs.  Thank you, I’ll be here all night.

Very Cherry:

1 cup dried cherries

1 cup dates

1 1/3 cups raw almonds

1 tablespoon of cinnamon (much more than recommended, but I have a thing for cinnamon….and it has a thing for me)

I wanted to add a little vanilla extract, but got too excited and forgot. Same with the dark chocolate chips.  How one could get too excited to forget those is beyond me.  Shame on me.  SHAME.

First things first: I laid out wax paper to set the finished product on.  Hands get sticky and it’s just easier to do it ahead of time.

Roughly chop the dates to help out the food processor.  Maybe you don’t need to.  I don’t know.  It’s a new appliance to me and that’s what the recipe said.  I do what I am told.

Add roughly chopped (or not) dates and cherries to processor.  Chop until a gooey ball is formed.  I had trouble forming a gooey ball so I added a little water and BOOM!  Just like magic a gooey ball formed shortly after.

Remove gooey ball from processor and put in separate mixing bowl.  Do not clean the processor.  Add the almonds and chop until fairly small pieces are left.  I had some small, small large and some powder.  Hey, it was my first time chopping nuts.

Add the chopped nuts to the gooey fruit ball and start squishing.  Let it squish between your fingers like clay. It feels so good.  Once its all mixed start forming balls, bars, triangles, octagons or whatever shapes you remember from high school geometry….which I failed twice.  I wish I was lying.  TMI.  Grandma, that’s short for “too much information.”

Guess what these are? DELICIOUS!  I can’t wait to try different varieties including: walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, coconut, chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries….oh the possibilities!  You can use pretty much any dried fruit and nut combination imaginable.  Start processing!

FYI (grandma, that’s short for “for your information”) the bar-ball-geometric shaped goodies freeze well.  Take them out a few minutes before eating and enjoy.

Maybe food blogging is my next career?

I won’t quite my day job.

Happy snacking!

LB

February 4, 2011

In the mist of it all

by Laura Brown

Here it is.  The long awaited and anticipated blog about Machu Picchu.  You want to know if it was as mystical, majestic and spiritual as every book and travel article claims.  Adding to the heap of travel journals I am here to tell you that it was everything I expected and more.  I had concerns about the weather, being it the wet season in the Andes.  Those concerns lingered while I waited along with all the other eager trekkers for our tour guides to wrangle us with colored flags.  There were so many people and so few umbrellas.  I managed to find a few inches of cover, but hey, that’s why I brought rain gear. To Peru’s defense it was not particularly cold unless you were drenched from shotty rain gear, in which case, that’s your own fault.  Thank you Patagonia, North Face and Mountain Hardwear for maintaining my state of happiness.  I could have been miserable in one of those rainbow ponchos.  For three soles I doubt they came with a lifetime warranty…. 

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In the cluster of mayhem I managed to find my Kosmo’s English speaking guide.  The organizer only yelled “Grupo Kosmo’s” loud and slow about fifty times.  Lady, I heard you the first time.  I officially enter the park and to much disappointment the clouds are covering the views from every angle.  It’s raining, my hair is wet and I can’t see the ruins.  Deep breath.  I remember I have a Snickers bar in my bag.  That makes everything better.  My group congregates along cobblestone steps where the guide will give us a 20 minute background on the history of the ruins.  It wasn’t until his second spiel that I became aware of him saying “please,” “sorry,” or “thank you” about every five words.  Canada happened to be a in my English speaking group.  What a coincidence.  For giggling purposes I had to separate myself from him because the “please” every five words was just too much for me.  I had a similar experience in the Czech Republic at the Becherovka Factory.  The tour guide pronounced the word “herbals” with the “h,” which made it sounds like “hairballs” with her accent.  I had to excuse myself. 

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The clouds begin to shift, but let me tell you, those suckers move quick.  It’s like those old Nintendo games where you have to jump on moving objects at just the right time or else you fall into the abyss.  Well, you wouldn’t exactly fall here unless you were acting like an idiot, but you must have your camera ready for that picture perfect moment.   

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Again, I was surprised at how green the foliage was.  I guess that’s what happens when it rains constantly.  Something I haven’t grown accustom to in the desert. 

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The clouds would flow in and out of the mountainous peaks, revealing their beauty only seconds apart.  I didn’t realize how high I really was until I stood on a ledge and imagined tumbling down.

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I doubt my guide brought parachute cord to rescue stupid tourists, not that it would help.  I took a few steps back, collected my thoughts and assumed the Warrior II position.

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My racing thoughts diminished, anxiety soothed and stomach ailments subsided.  For the first time in weeks I was at peace.  Peace with the world, peace with the earth and peace with the lack of control I have over most things in life.

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With patience came the clearing of clouds, making for incredible memories etched in my mind.  My photography hardly does the beauty of this sacred valley justice.

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I’ve avoided this post long enough for lack of words to describe its awe.  I refuse to struggle with semantics in describing it’s magical qualities.  I’d like to think my writing is better than my photography, but you get the point.  I will end with saying…..If unicorns exist, they would be here, bouncing from cloud to cloud, grazing the green mountain tops.     

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Thank you, Peru, for the opportunity to explore your beauty.  You’ve challenged me with storms, but more importantly you’ve taught me to embrace calm waters.  For this I am forever grateful.  Until next time….

February 1, 2011

Here Kitty Kitty

by Laura Brown

I was under the impression that my body was done hating me and finally moving into the recovery stages.  I was starting to regain my appetite, physical strength and thirst for beer.  Thirst for beer is a true sign of physical illness recovery.  Unfortunately, the day I am set to leave Peru I become ill yet again. Great timing.  Not that there is any good time to be ill, but it most definitely isn’t while flying, nonetheless internationally.  I am feeling mediocre getting on the plane a little after midnight on Monday morning, but mostly just weak.  My stomach has been sick for a few hours at this point.  About an hour into the flight I wake up from a short nap and experience light headedness, shortness of breath, racing heart, a cold sweat and nausea.  I grab the blue sickness bag in front of my seat, the ones that are there just there for looks that no one really uses and scurry to the restroom.  Inconveniently, they are both occupied.  Didn’t matter much anyway because once I reached the galley I collapsed to the cold, gray, rubber padded ground.  The filthy ground was so soothing to my sweating body.  It embraced me like the Spanish tiled floor in the house I spent my childhood.  Many bouts of the stomach flu were endured on that cold, brick red colored tile. I remember coming in and out of consciousness as two men are trying to receive information from me, take my vitals and hold an oxygen mask to my face.  The flight attendant has called over the intercom for any doctors or nurses on board to come to my rescue.  I am 24 and my name is Laura.  “Do you have food poisoning?” It would appear that way, sir, although I couldn’t muster the energy to answer any of his questions.  I feel two cold fingers aggressively applying pressure on the side of my neck in an attempt to find my pulse.  My pale green sweater, now damp with perspiration is no longer surrounding me.  I am shivering with the ounce of energy my body has allotted me.  My right arm becomes tight and I feel metal of a stethoscope at the bend in my arm.  I am awake.  I know where I am.  The look of relief on the doctors’ faces is discerning.  Surely they have seen some pass out before.  The flight attendant later told me that they were unable to find my pulse or read an accurate blood pressure because it dropped so low.  Prescribed is a glass of warm water with a sugar packet mixed in.  The thought alone is enough to make me vomit, but I manage to follow instructions.  I continue with oxygen and sleep in few minute intervals on the galley floor while attendants are preparing drinks for their less needy clients.  The doctors come back separately several times to check on me and make sure I am gulping down orange juice and Mr. Pibb to raise my blood sugar.  Mmmmm bubbles.

I manage to stumble back to my aisle seat during a turbulent stretch of our red-eye flight from Lima to Houston.  I quickly fall asleep through a short cd.  I wake myself up by a twitch that felt more like an awful nightmare.  My heart is racing, forehead sweating, hyperventilating, and head is lighter than the feather pinned to my mirror above the drivers side windshield of my car.  I jump up and stagger back to the comfort of the cold, gray, rubber floor before I lose consciousness.  I hit the oxygen tank immediately which prohibits me from passing out again.  I fall asleep on the ground for another thirty minutes before the turbulence hits again.  This time I go for ginger ale, a lemon muffin and the refusal of sleep since the last two times I woke up from seat 38 C was more than terrifying.  I maintain a slight tremor for the last few hours of the flight while fighting sleep with the entertainment of Gran Torino.  The plane landed before I could finish the flick, which also happened on my way to Lima with The Social Network so don’t you going spoiling the endings for me.

Two hours in Houston shuffling through customs and inspection. “Are you carrying any produce, Ms. Brown?”  Funny you ask, I had a lovely salad last night, but I’m pretty sure that’s loooong gone.  Will there be any more questions?  I didn’t think so.  There was a question on my customs form asking if I had touched any wild animals or livestock in the last two days.  I wonder if the Miraflores menagerie of cats in Parque Kennedy count?  The city has actually hired a lady to care for these cats everyday.  She has daily feeding times and a special kitty clinic for them if they become ill.  The park is divided into a couple different sections and I wasn’t aware that the cats mostly stay in one area.  For a minute I was worried that there was some sort of tragic cat famine that wiped them out.  That’s a terrible thought.  Don’t worry, I found a few.

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I think the white one is a kibbles hoarder because he is significantly larger than the others cats.  That’s just uncalled for.

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Blotchy here has nothing to say for himself, except that he would really like a bite of my churro.  Dirty scoundrel.

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This little orange one under the bench is my favorite.  Completely immersed in his Sunday siesta.  Inconspicuous and unresponsive in true cat form.  Embrace the sweetness my feline friend.

One hour left on my leg from Houston to Sacramento and I have yet to pass out.  We are making progress.  The granola bar, bagel and orange juice must have done my body a just service.  My exhaustion took a hold of my body and forced me into an hour of slumber.  I woke up with a normal body temperature, color in my face and a pulse of a living human being.  Please, let the worse be over.  I am down to the consistency of a wafer.  Let the sleep marathon begin.  For once, I might have a shot against the Brew Dog.

Sincerely,

An appreciative gringo

January 29, 2011

Cuzco to Aguas Calientes via Ollantaytambo

by Laura Brown

I’ve arranged my Machu Picchu trip through a dodgy hostel near Santa Catalina, just off the main square. I make arrangements, throw in a down payment and hope for the best. My instructions were to be back at the hostel at 10 a.m. the next morning. My neurotic nature gets me to the hostel at 9 a.m…..just in case. I use the wifi to check in with my nearest and dearest while inhaling stale cigarette smoke billowing from the rooms above. At 10:02 the senora calls my name and gestures for me to follow her. She leads me down Santa Catalina, through the square, skirting side streets to Plaza Regocijo all the while spewing me information about where to pick up my tickets, how there will be men holding signs with my name for the bus and time of arrival and departure. “Do you understand? A bus will pick you up and take you to location. Understand? Please, don’t go with anyone else. Understand? A bus will be there for you. Do you understand? Your tickets will be for you at hostel. You have questions you call this number. Understand?” Lady, does it really matter to you if I understand? Once I step on that bus your hands are clean. Actually, they are filthy rich with my money and I have no idea what she will do with it. For all I know, she just screwed another gringo. During her ramble of details I felt like I was on a secret mission. She was giving my spotty information as if I was hired for a hit and didn’t need the in between details, just that I was getting the kill (i.e. Machu Picchu).

Back to reality. I load an empty bus and eagerly wait for other passengers. Please let their be someone else with me. Five minutes later we were packed like sardines. We drive a few blocks and pull into a warehouse full of buses. Engine is turned off. For a brief moment I thought this was the end of the road for me. Luckily, James “Canada” was closest to the door so the consensus between me and Tulio “Brazil” is that Canada is the first to go. We also decided our fate which consisted of our organs being harvested and sold on the black market. To my dismay, three more people squeeze in. Finally, we begin our journey through hills as green as Ireland, packed with llamas, row crops and plots that look like an expert Etch-a-Sketch composed. The bus takes us as far as Ollantaytambo where we catch a train to Aguas Calientes, the closest city to Machu Picchu.

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A beautiful train ride takes me through a lush, overgrown jungle. So beautiful there is a rainbow? Nope, just miserable Inca Trail hikers outfitted in pastel ponchos. Our arrival to Aguas Calientes was apparent when steam from the hot baths became visible from the train. Sitting next to Nora “Kansas,” who happened to study in Portland made the train ride a breeze. You may not believe me when I tell you this, but before our departure there was another dog incident with the passenger sitting directly next to me. A Colombian woman, about my age, had smuggled her dog in a pillow case past inspection. She had me fooled when she sat down and I asked her if it was her baby. No wonder she didn’t reply. Minutes later Peru Rail personnel came in full force to inform this lady that she could not take her dog up the mountain. Colombia cries, pleas, and begs, grabbing the personnel’s hands with tears flowing down her cheeks. She points down to her dog to show that he is sedated and will not be a problem. Leave it to Colombia to get it right. Please, if you are going travel with your animals, put the poor thing out for a few hours. It will be greatly appreciated by those around you. I saw Colombia and her dog walking around later that evening through the market. The dog urinated on a venders purse. Glad I bought one that was hanging above the stall. I tried to take a picture of the dog, pre-urination on Peruvian purse, but I wasn’t in the mood to piss off a Colombian.

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I wander the small, heavily inflated town until I hear a man calling my name. He takes me to my hostel where my guide is supposed to meet me for a brief spiel about our tour of Machu Picchu in the morning. He is an hour and half late. I take that back, he never showed up, but did send a “messenger” to relay unfortunate information. Apparently the computers were down at the ticketing office, so I will now have to go to the ticketing office first thing in the morning to meet my tour group and purchase our tickets for the park. The sketchiness of my adventure carries on. The view from my room made up for it all.

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The river shall sing me a lullaby through the night. Early to bed, early to rise. Tomorrow is a day of peace, a day of ease and a day my soul shall be enlightened.

January 21, 2011

And They’re Off

by Laura Brown

After a gruesome hit to my ego, I made the decision to stay behind on the excursion to Lago 69.  Not only is my ego still mending, but my stomach is too.  After another episode of anguish and vomiting last night I came to the conclusion that I am not willing to risk the future of my health for unicorns that I’m uncertain exist.  I will have to settle for pictures of the jade lakes, for now.

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It seems a shame to have traveled the distance to Hauraz and not been able to see the lakes that win such rave reviews.  Such is life.  Cuzco, you better make up for it.

Another couple joined our adventure trio, which is back to it’s original duo for the time being.  Two of the four are fairly ill themselves, but made the conscious decision to carry on with the summit at elevations over 14,000 feet.  The four hour bus ride now turned into six if needing to stop every ten minutes to relieve it’s passengers.  I suggested they take Depends, but no, don’t listen to the one that stays behind.

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Shortly after their return we will board a bus back to Lima which arrives at 6 am tomorrow morning.  We then scramble to the airport to catch a plane to Cuzco at 9 am.  The bus ride from Lima to Cuzco is 22 hours.  That’s 30 hours if you count Hauraz to Lima.  I will gladly cough up a little extra cash to save myself  two days of misery.  I’ve already been down that road.

On warmer note and since we are on the topic of roads I must mention that the hot springs were delightful.  The road that led to the hot spring, not so delightful.  It may have been a contributor to my relapse of nausea. If there is something I remember from elementary school it’s that the distance from one point to another is faster in a straight line.  Apparently that concept has not yet migrated to Peru.  Either that or they need to fill the potholes in the road.  At a few points there were children filling in the holes in anticipation of collecting tips from the motorists.  There was a lot of standing around.  Sounds an awful lot like CalTrans.  All that matters is we made it, right?

It wasn’t your average Idaho geothermal site, although the Rio Santo was raging similar to those found in Idaho.

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These were the youthenizing steam caves that smelled something similar of urine.  The condensation would drip from the cave walls onto your skin, which didn’t help with the urine rumination.  For the record, it was actually Juanita that brought up urine in the first place.  It wasn’t all warm, either.  After our steam we thought it best to rinse off in the coldest water around.  Here I am pretending to enjoy the ice bath (before I turned the water on).  There was no smiling going on after the water hit me.

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Nice abs, eh?  You, too can abs like that after throwing up for six hours!  The most rapid working diet yet!  Call one eight hundred Peruvian Cuisine for your free trial now!  Pale skin sold separately….

January 20, 2011

Shara Shara

by Laura Brown

A delightful mix of local Andina herbs known to cure altitude sickness and stomach ailments.  I’ll take two, please.  Bring on the Shara Shara.

I spent the better part of yesterday ridding my body of every last drop of hydration.  I vomited every ten minutes for six hours.  Every time I was about to fall asleep a wave of nausea would flow through my body as if I was on the roller coaster ride of the century, except painfully unpleasant.

SeanJuan spent seven hours on a bus to see the Chavin Ruins, which they only could wander for 45 minutes due to rain.  I spent seven hours alone in hell.  I’m not entirely sure what the culprit was, but I have a hunch it’s a combination of altitude, ceviche, rich cheese, lack of sleep, fried food (oddly enough it’s everywhere) and an 8 hour windy bus ride through the Cordillera.  Thank you, Phenergan, for saving my life.  There was a point in time that I wished I had a pistol.  Luckily, I had internet access and Will to remind me that this too shall pass.  Thank you, Will for giving me strength and loving me unconditionally, even when I am vomiting during our chat session.

I managed to get a few hours of sleep and choke down some crackers and tea.  I am slowly regaining my strength with the help from my friends in Belgium.  Peruvian food isn’t working out so I thought I would shift over to Europe.  Who knew I had to travel all the way to Andes to experience the best Belgian waffle known to man.  If you don’t believe me then consult with Lonely Planet Peru.

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Due to my starvation, I couldn’t wait to take a bite…or eat an entire quarter of my waffle before snapping a picture of the ensemble. For the morning we are taking an easy day at a local Café.  This afternoon will include hot springs and natural steam caves which locals call “The Fountain of Youth.”  I’ll believe it when I see it.  If ten years from now I still look as I am today then Will is a lucky man Winking smile.

I’m off to get youthenized…..

Ciao!

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