Oct 29, 2010

Followers & Contests!

As I was browsing through some of the great YA book blogs out there, I learned two things; first of all, I came to the sad realization that I didn't have my "follow me" or "followers" option activated (& here I was stressing on why I couldn't get any followers!) So I went ahead and added it to my blog. *Huurrayy!...

Secondly, I came across two really awesome giveaways that I would like to share-
The first giveaway is over at The Book Worms (super cute blog). They're giving us the chance to win a free Blog Design (I don't know about y'all but I'm not too savy when it comes to computer graphics or whatnot. It'd be nice to get some help on designing my new blog). This design giveaway is something totally unique and pretty darn awesome. Click on the link to check it out and ENTER!

The second giveaway comes from the blog Tales of the Ravenous Reader. They're having an awesome "Fallen Angels Contest" where you can win not one, but three SIGNED YA books! I myslef have already signed up :) These are the books:
HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick
FALLEN by Lauren Kate
HALO by Alexandra Adornetto

Well my dear friends, that is it for now! If I happen to come across any toher interesting giveaways, I will let y'all know ASAP! 

Wishing you all a GREAT weekend, & a Happy Halloween!

Oct 27, 2010

Review: Sea Change

Title: Sea Change
Author: Aimee Friedman
Publisher: Point
Pages: 292

My Rating:

16-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science...and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate. There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship...and reality. Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined? -Summary from goodreads.com

How beautiful is that cover? I actually finished reading Sea Change during my trip to Costa Rica- definitely my favorite beach read! Ms. Friedman's excellent narrative descriptions will have you feeling the ocean spray on your face & the sandy beach between your toes. You will soon find yourself transported to this beautiful enchanted Island filled with mystery, adventure, romance & much more! Selkie Island truly does come to life right before your eyes!

The story starts off with Miranda meeting up with her mother at Selkie Island with hopes of selling a property they just inherited (her mothers old childhood home). Leo is the charming but mysterious local boy who seems to have caught Miranda's attention... Luckily, he also has his eye on her ;) Miranda soon finds herself drawn to her grandmother’s house, as well as Selkie Island & soon questions many things she thought she had figured out. Pretty soon Miranda puts all the clues together & is able to tie herself into all the folk & legends that surround the Island.

I loved Miranda, it was great to have a female lead actually be firm & coherent before the boy she likes instead of turning all dimwit. She is very strong & level headed, its so much fun to see her personal growth throughout the book. & of course I was practically swooning over Leo... *Slight Spoiler* he could give me a private nature walk any day! The only thing that bugged me a bit was the whole issue with Miranda's ex-boyfriend Greg. In my opinion, the story would have been great without the minor details. I've also read lots of negative comments about the ending, I won’t give much away but personally I think the ending was just right! It leaves us with the sense of mystery & adds to the overall magical feel of Selkie Island.... With that being said, I would not mind a sequel :)haha! (Please MS. Friedman! PLEASE!)

Overall, if your a fan of mythical creatures, summer romance & adventure- then Sea Change is a must read!

Oct 25, 2010

COSTA RICA Travel Blog

This has to have been my wildest trip yet! OMG! It was sooo unbelievably fun & at the same time super tiring. Here's how it began; my siblings & I all had about 2 weeks of vacation left before going back to school, work, life (in general), etc. We wanted to go somewhere but couldn't decide where! That was when our crazy neighbor, Julio- just randomly said "Hey, my sister went to Costa Rica & she said it was beautiful, we should go there!"... I know what your thinking, "Wth? Really... that easy, huh? Let's just stop what we're doing & take a trip down to Costa Rica?!" Well, that's EXACTLY what we did! We had to tour, no guide, no nothing! We planned it all in a weekend’s time! Here you will find a short summary of places I visited on our trip, some travel tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage. *Please note all prices are in Colones (CRC). At the time of my visit, $1 US= 710 CRC. This exchange rate changes daily. Make sure and check out the XE Universal Currency converter for current actual amount.

San Jose, CR
We flew into San Jose, Costa Rica on TACA Airlines. Our round-trip ticket was VERY reasonable and the airline itself is clean, safe and the attendants are very friendly. For some reason, Costa Rica was where I was given the most hassle in regards to immigration. Probably because we didn't have an "actual reason" for wanting to visit the country, besides just to visit. But you'd think the immigration officers would be used to tourists on vacation. I mean, that is the MAIN source of the country's income. idk. Maybe the immigration officer was just having a rough day. Any who- San Jose in general is just like any other industrial city; buildings, workers, convenience stores at every corner (Mexico style), & LOTS of GREEN! We were planning on spending a night in SJ before heading down to Manuel Antonio, which is 4 hours south of SJ & right next to the jungle (literally), but we decided it was best to get going, especially since we were taking a public bus.

 4 words: Coca-cola bus terminal… It’s SUPER packed & awfully scary, but well worth it. Traveling by bus is the most practical and inexpensive way to travel in Costa Rica. When we asked a taxi man how much he's charge to drive us down to Manuel Antonio, his rate was $60/per person. When we headed down to the bus terminal & bought our tickets (CASH ONLY) we paid about 2600 CRC/per person (do the math= $4/per person)... hmmm... $60 or $4... I'll take the bus in Costa Rica any day, thank you very much. We were there about an hour before our bus took off, & I would recommend getting there early to reserve a ticket, the bus does fill up! While in the rain forest- you pretty much travel by horse.

*Quick note on safety- Be aware that the Coca Cola bus terminal is located in the red light district in San Jose. What this means is that this place is known for pick pocketing and theft. Since the terminal is packed w/tourists, sadly they are the ones that are often affected. But this shouldn't be a reason to keep you away. We were there for a pretty long time before boarding; we took turns watching our luggage while some of us went out for food, snacks or bathroom breaks. Everything turned out fine, you really shouldn't have a problem. Just keep an eye on your belongings at all times and DON'T let anyone handle your luggage! Well, beside the bus man. Our friend Marina was hesitant about giving her bag to the bus driver so he could toss it down in cargo & it almost didn't get loaded. Also, make sure the driver gives you a ticket for your bag as soon as it’s loaded! You will not get your bag back unless you have that ticket that proves it belongs to you.

Manuel Antonio
 Upon arriving in MA, we had no clue where we were going to stay. As previously stated, we didn't have much time to plan this trip, thus we didn't make any hotel reservations. During the trip down to MA, I mentioned to our Bus driver that we didn't have anywhere to stay & if he could recommend some nice hotels in the area. Although we where worried he would try & take us to his brothers/cousins/aunts, crappy hotel, he actually ended up dropping us off right in front of Hotel Manuel Antonio (this hotel doesn't have a website, but I did grab there business card. 
This is there number (506) 2777-1351). I seriously loved this hotel, its located right at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, & it is literally right across the street from the beach. I honestly believe we where extremely lucky to have gotten an honest bus driver that didn't try to rip off by taking us to some high paying fancy hotel so he could get commission. We ended up grabbing 2 rooms (one for girls, one for boys) each with double beds, & full amenities (private bathroom, AC, cable, balcony). We bargained our rate down to $60/night- compared to other hotels in the area, this is a great price! That's something new I learned about not reserving online, you can bargain your rate down once your there :)

Manuel Antonio National Park
 We woke up the next day refreshed & ready for our trip to the National Park, which was conveniently located next door to our hotel. The entrance fee is $10/person, although once we were inside it was easy to see that one could have easily "snuck in" and no one would have noticed or said anything (Gosh, I’m such a bad influence). The park itself is amazing! This is one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse National parks in the world! The forest is home for sloths, iguanas, the rare squirrel monkeys and millions of colorful little crabs. There's a trail that winds around Punta Cathedral, which we hear offers some spectacular views, but we didn't get to hike it. We where actually unprepared, we visited the park in shorts, bathing suits & sandals. During our visit we where told we were just an hour shy of witnessing an alligator taking a bite of a man. After hearing this we were a bit hesitant about going in the water, but overall it wasn't enough to scare us. Plus, the water is super warm & tempting. 

You just can't resist getting in after you've dug your feet in the sand. The best part about Manuel Antonio was the rain forest. The forest sat along the coast, where lush trees gave way to a beach covered with black igneous rocks and moody iguanas. There was a massive rock formation sitting in the shallow end of the ocean. Each time the waves crashed, a huge spray of water filled up a section of the rocks that made it look like a pool, and when the waves pulled back, the pool emptied. It was like God had built a natural swimming pool right into the rocks. Oh & the monkeys! So adorable :) The monkeys happily posed for photos. Manuel Antonio's golden rule: Don't feed the monkeys. I must confess the charming creatures got the best of us and we disobeyed. My brother fed them a piece of a granola bar & they happily followed him through the rest of our visit, but only to be disappointed. After we read a big large sign that said feeding the monkeys could be considered a crime, which was enough motivation to not do it again. Overall this place is beautifully magical. Although it is filled w/tourists, it’s a MUST SEE on every traveler’s trip to Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano (National Park)
Our next stop on our adventure was Arenal. After Manuel Antonio we took the bus back to the Coca Cola bus terminal. Upon arriving, we were bombarded w/taxi drivers offering us their services. We knew we wanted to head up to Arenal Volcano next but we weren't sure HOW we were going to get there. When we asked when the next bus to Arenal departed, we were told that there was no more departures for that day, we'd have to wait till the next morning. Since we weren't planning on staying overnight & paying a hotel in San Jose, we decided it'd be cheaper (not to mention quicker) to take a cab up to the national park. Upon arriving in Arenal National Park, we decided to book a night at the Hotel Vista del Cerro, which was extremely nice and met our every need. Plus, they had free Internet & phone calls to US via satellite phone. The hotel itself is located in La Fortuna, which is the gateway to Lake Arenal as well as Volcano Arenal NP. Volcano Arenal is one of the most active volcanos in the whole Western Hemisphere. Although this place is packed w/tourists (like every other place we visited), it really is a beautiful sight! If you’re lucky, you may be able to witness an eruption at night. Our first night was very misty and cloudy but the second night we had such a great & clear view, even straight from our hotel room. 
During our stay in La Fortuna, we picked up a canopy special that our hotel was offering. Zip-lining through the Costa Rican Jungle was so much fun, but sooo HUMID! Basically, you go flying through the air hooked up to a cable above the trees in the rain forest. One hand holds on the harness and the other has a special glove and you keep it on the cable behind your head to use as a break. You don't want to let go as you'll go spinning around and then you have no way to slow down when you arrive at the platform. It's definitely a rush. There were 10 platforms, the longest one was over 1 km and took over a minute. That one was the scariest as you need to go fast enough to make it to the other side. There was one line past a waterfall and that was really pretty. We took the tractor to a recreated Maleku tribe setting. They had three tribe members to share their culture and crafts. They greet each other by tapping each others right shoulder twice and saying the words "kapi, kapi". We greeted each one and then listened to them to talk about their culture. Then our friend Marina bought this really neat Drum (wish I would have got one) that was hand shaped & painted. To end the tour, we each were given a horse to ride back through the rain forest to the entrance. Our next couple of days we spent them walking around the small town of La Fortuna. There are a ton of shops where you can buy really well made & inexpensive souvenirs. This was where I did most of my "end of the trip" shopping.   

Costa Rican Food
If your planning on visiting Manuel Antonio, be prepared to spend $ on your meals. Every single restaurant along the beach strip charges like 20% tourist tax. Its ridiculous. Our first night in town, there we were at the most expensive restaurant in town & on a budget. I didn't let that happen again. Don't get me wrong; the food was delicious (I had octopus for the first time), just way to pricey. During our stay in MA, we usually just grabbed some fruit & goodies at the local market & had lunch at the hotel restaurant. During our quick stop in Quepos, right across the street from the bus station, there's this little Cafe shop- I wish I could remember the name, its DELICIOUS! More than anything its someone’s house open for business but they had the most delicious creamy pineapple juice ever! Plus, their grilled cheese sandwiches were amazing. If you happen to stop in Quepos on your way to MA, make sure you’re on the look out for this Cafe!

Extra Time??: All & all Costa Rica is such a small country that it can easily be traveled through. We were on a time limit; unfortunately we had to get back to the states in time for school, work, life, etc. But there is so much to do & SEE! Costa Rica is a beautiful exotic country that should be taken advantage off! If you’re a nature, beach person- this is the country for you! I say beach person, cause in reality, everywhere you look your bound to see the coast in the distant. I myself am not big on the whole beach aspect. Don’t get me wrong, I dived into the Costa Rican coast the first night we were there, but if I were to visit Costa Rica again & just visit the central part instead of the outer, I’d be okay with that. Well my friends, I hope this blog was helpful in some way, & if you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask :)

Oct 24, 2010

Review: Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush Book #1)
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 391

My Rating:
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life. -Summary from goodreads.com

When I describe Hush, Hush to other readers, the first thing that comes to mind is; an instant catcher! It had me hooked from the Prologue. This was actually one of those books that no one recommended, I hadn’t heard anything about it, so I didn’t know what to expect. I picked it up only because of its lovely cover; it called my name from across the shelves at Barnes n noble… Ok, & maybe the book description helped me seal the deal too :)

In Hush, Hush we follow Nora and Patch. After being paired up as science partners they are forced to see each other everyday at school and even outside of it. This book has a well written plot and storyline. I finished it within 2 days. Lots of tension between Patch and Nora (sometimes you can’t decide if it’s good or bad) but all loose ends are tied up in the end. You can't help but fall for Patch. Come on ladies.... say it with me..... smexxxyyyyy! Loved him!

He's your typical bad boy w/a heart of Gold! I loved how we were able to see the relationship between Nora & Patch develop into something much more. The plot & storyline was well thought out and explained. The book is very easy and enjoyable to read. Besides Patch, my fav character would have to be Vee. That girl is wild crazy. She's what a best friend should be. Often times, during my reading, I'd think to myself, "Where is this girls mother?" :) haha! Vee is just plain out awesome!

Nora was an easy character to relate too (especially since I myself often times take Iron pills) but in some parts of the book she was just too ordinary. I tend to have high expectations for my leading heroines, often times Nora just didn't make the cut. Hopefully she works up a bit of an attitude for the next book, Crescendo.

Oct 23, 2010

PERU Travel Blog

Welcome to the Lost Incan Empire!
During my senior year in college, being a Spanish Major, the school department was offering a trip down to South America; Peru. In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant about making the commitment to travel to Peru, the reason being; I was lacking sufficient funds to afford this trip. That was when I started investigating and soon discovered that the International Department at CSUSB offered a $1000 scholarship if you agreed to write a research paper (topic of your choice) once you returned from your trip abroad. I couldn't say no to that :) Here you will find a short summary of places I visited on our trip, travel tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage! *Please note that the currency in Peru is in Soles (3 soles= $1 US)

Lima, Peru
Our trip itinerary consisted of the visitation of 2 cities; Lima & Cusco. First on our stop was Lima. At first site and on the first day there, to me, Lima seemed like every other industrial city; museums, shopping centers, public parks, and taxis EVERYWHERE you looked, etc. We checked into the Hotel & Casino Boulevard, which has no casino, but was a very safe and clean hotel. It wasn't until we visited Pachacamac, that I got to see the real side to Peruvian culture.
Pachacamac is Lima's major archeological site. I was completely awed as I was entering the site in its ruined state- I can only imagine what the peoples of the era must have thought and felt as they entered this enormous religious center dedicated to Pachacamac, “He Who Animates the World.” Despite several centuries of archaeological work little is known about this complex and the daily activities that went on here. When traveling this sanctuary, our tour guide (which we picked up at the entrance; bargained a really good price) informed us that hundreds of years ago the natives of Pachacamac surrendered cult to the sun and to the Earth. As creepy as it sounds, while one walks around the old temples, one can feel the magic attraction to this sacred place. It is believed that this place was inhabited since the year 200 up to 1533. Pachacamac really is an amazing piece of archeology. My congratulations to the Peruvian people for preserving and continuing to work on this magnificent site. I don't think it is a part of the UNESCO heritage site- but it should be.
Huaca Pucllana
Next on our itinerary was the Huaca Pucllana, which is another well known archeological site in Lima. What surprised me about this site was that its literally located right-smack in the center of the Miraflores district. The communities around it seem to be immune to the natural beauty of this place. When we asked a local what he thought of HP, he simply stated it was a big sand bowl that needed to be taken down to build more houses. Geezz... talk about being un-appreciative. The price for Admission: 5 soles (about $1.50). There are guided tours in English or Spanish & the tours run at specific times no matter how many visitors, so you may luck out with a semi private or private tour. Like the pyramids in Pachacamac, the structures and temples in Huaca Pucllana were also dedicated to the sun god. Although Huaca Pucllana is ancient, it’s a relatively new attraction. Grounds opened for tours in 1984 and excavation is ongoing. If you climb to the top, you can take in a panoramic view of downtown Lima and a bird’s eye view of just how intricate the ruins are. Huaca Pucllana once stretched nearly eight square miles. Currently, it is less than two and a half. Towards the back part of the site (and near the end of the tour) you will be able to walkthrough a small zoo area containing wild ducks, llamas and cuy (guinea pigs) as well as samples of native plant life and crops. There’s also a small flora and fauna park on the grounds, and a gift shop with a small selection of native crafts. During our visit, we were fortunate enough to see the official Peruvian Dog, 'el perro chino'. It is estimated that it will take another 15 to 20 years to finish excavations and restorations to the site.
Cusco, Peru
After our adventures in Lima, we took a domestic flight out to Cusco. We where told we'd be staying downtown for a couple of days before continuing our trip down to Machu Picchu. We checked into Hotel Ruinas. Personally, Cusco was my FAVORITE city! It’s such a beautiful, small town- it reminded me of why I’ve always wanted to live in a small populated city. The architecture in Cusco is beautiful. I visited all the Catholic temples and paid my respect to the saints. Although the town is small and very accessible by foot, our group decided to pitch in and rent a motorcycle. It turned out to be my most memorable adventure in Cusco. That damn motorcycle got us in so much trouble! While driving down the streets in Cusco, which in reality are more like corridors because they're so small, one of the side mirrors falls off. Just like that, no warning, it just falls. 
We didn’t hit or bump into anything, it just fell. So there we are scared shitless because the motorcycle dealer is holding our friend Jonathan's passport (we rented it under his name), and we're thinking we're going to have to abandon Jonathan in Peru, because we signed a paper stating that if anything happened to this bike, we'd pay $11,000 US. It was the funniest, and at the same time most worried, afternoon I spent in Peru. We ended up going to a local convenient store and bought super glue. Yes, super glue... hahaha! There we are outside the hotel gluing the mirror back on and praying to God it'd stick. Fortunately for us, and Jonathan, the mirror did stick quiet nice and we were able to return the bike w/out anyone noticing. Even though upon returning the bike, the mirror was the FIRST thing the lender inspected. It was almost as though he was expecting the mirror to have fallen off (possible scam?). As soon as he saw it was intact, he returned Jonathan's passport and he & I BOOKED it back to our hotel w/out looking back. Seriously, we RAN!
Machu Picchu, Peru
 So my trip to MP started out like every other tourist- w/a 3 hour train ride from Cuzco, to Machu Picchu town. Yep, you heard right... MP isn't located in Cusco but in the outskirts of Peru in a Pueblo (town) called Machu Picchu. With that begin said, bring some entertainment! I was going MAD on that damn train ride! I know 3 hours may not seem like a lot, but when you’re stuck in a moving tin can w/nothing to do but look out your window... you start to loose patience! Seriously, the train cargo didn't even have a bathroom, so make sure to go before or hold it in! During my trip I had my BF's Tetris game. His high score was 22000, by the end of the train ride my score was 85000.

Upon arriving to MP town, we gathered our belongings and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Machu Picchu Inn. Now, this is far from being a 5 star hotel, but it met our needs quite nicely. All we were looking for was a safe & clean place to stay; we got that & more at the MP Inn. If you’re not picky, this place is perfect; located right in the center of town, literally across the street from the bus station and a few blocks south of the famous "Thermal Springs" (which we did get to visit, but we're not so great).
The next day we took our 30 minuet bus ride up the mountain to MP, "The Lost city of the Incas". If I have ever been sight struck, it was when I had my first glance at Machu Picchu... Wow. Just wow. Our tour began w/the history of MP when Francisco Pizarro and the Spaniards arrived in Peru in the 1530s looking for gold and treasure the Incas destroyed much of the Inca Trail which lead to MP in order to protect it from being destroyed. It worked! MP remained hidden high in the Andes for nearly 400 years until American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered the ruins in 1911, most of which was overrun by the jungle. After some quick stops, explanations and mandatory photo-ops, we were allowed to go off on our own. Of course I continued taking hundreds of pictures, literally, and just walked around and did some exploring of my own. I think what makes MP so amazing to look at is the location more than anything; right smack in the middle of the Andes Mountains at approx 8000 ft above sea level. 
Also, all the myths that surround the city, like how they managed to cut and fit the stones so perfectly together, let alone move them up the mountain, remains a mystery to this day adding to MP's mythical aura. When dusk was approaching, we went ahead and took the last bus ride down the mountain. SCARRIEST bus ride ever! On the way up the mountain, I guess I was so eager or excited to finally get to MP that I didn't pay much attention to the bus ride. But on the way down I was praying! The bus loops back and forth the curvy roads of the mountain, it didn’t help that we were going down hill on an already vertical road. The bus was so close to the edge (which dropped down hundreds of feet to the river valley below) that I seriously let out a scared shout, more than once... on one of those occasions, the bus driver simply looked back at me- threw his head back w/a laugh and said "ha, tourists!"

Peruvian Food: Totally RANDOM, but nothing compares to Peru's Chinese food!! Oh my frekin' gosh... it’s THE BEST! Our group was literally addicted to a restaurant called the Xin Xin out in Lima. My favorite dish; the Wong Tong Frito. Just saying the name out loud makes my stomach growl. DELICIOUS! During our stay in Lima, we also tried the national Peruvian plate; Ceviche- but we had it marinated w/Limes and NOT butter! It tasted WAY better that way too! During our stay in Cusco, my friend Susan and I decided we want to give Peruvian pizza a try... I’m not going to lie, it was far from great. The crust was super thin and in my opinion there was way too much cheese and not enough tomato sauce. It filled me up quick but it didn’t satisfy my hunger. For our last night out in Cusco, our tour guide decided to take us out to a fancy restaurant for dinner and a show. The food itself was typical; rice, chicken, soup- but we were given the opportunity to try cuy (guinea pigs). Now, I know what you’re thinking "ew gross", so don’t hate me for saying I actually had some. After my trip to Australia, I was literally kicking my own ass for not trying kangaroo when I had a chance. So I thought to myself, this is a formal Peruvian plate, I have to try it. I promised myself to get involved w/the culture as much as I could; so I went for it. It tasted ok, it’s very similar to chicken, but chewy. If you’re ever given the opportunity to try cuy (or anything new for that matter) you should go for it. That way you can't say you missed out!
Coca Tea: I usually don’t talk about drinks, but I have to mention the famous Mate de Coca (Coca Tea). As you may have guessed, this herbal tea is made up of.... *drum roll..... leaves of the Coca Plant. Yes, you read right, Coca plant- as in the same plant that’s mixed w/other nasty chemicals to create Cocaine. The actual amount of cocaine found in the plants is a VERY small percentage; .4%, if I remember correctly. So don't be afraid to try it. We where given some as soon as we arrived in Cusco. Due to the altitude of the city, may of our group members (including myself) felt a bit light headed, but after having a relaxing cup of mate de coca, we were all doing fine. I drank about 3 of those bad boys and I slept like a baby. I was up early the next day and ready for my Cusco adventures :)
To be honest, this is was my first trip in which I thought, "Holy Jesus, I think I did everything I had planned to do & more!" My Peru trip was so much fun & educational; I don't think I would have had time to do anything else! Our tour guide did try and convinces us to go "sky sailing" but I, for once, was way too tired the day they offered it & plus it was kind of expensive... so I said no thanks. Now that I look back, I think it would have been nice to fly the Peruvian skies... One day I'll go back! If you’re planning a trip to Peru, all I can say is keep an open mind and take lots of pictures! Don't be afraid to go out at night. Peru is just like any other country... it’s as safe as you make it. Set limits for yourself, (I’m sure you don’t want to be walking around Polvos Azules at 1am, even though I’m pretty sure its open) but also have fun! Well my friends, I hope this blog was helpful in some way, & if you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
 Peace&Love, D

Oct 22, 2010

Review: Scribbler of Dreams

Title: Scribble of Dreams
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Tandem Library
Pages: 240

My Rating:
It's the Crutchfields v. the Malones in this lush Romeo and Juliet story about two related California families that have hated each other for generations, even though (or perhaps because) they own adjacent tracks of ocean-view land. Like the rest of her family, 17-year-old Kait Malone blames the Crutchfields for everything, particularly now that her father's in jail for killing Robert Crutchfield in what the Malones claim was an accident. Money is short, because the Malones refuse to sell any of their land, so Kait and her sister must transfer to the public high school under assumed names. And then the unthinkable happens: Kait falls head over heels in love with a beautiful boy named Bram--who turns out to be a Crutchfield. -Summary from goodreads.com

I first heard about this book from a friend. She had mentioned that it was a, & i quote- "heart warming book that will have you hooked from chapter one". Although the book did have me hooked from the first chapter, as I continued reading, it just became harder & harder for me to finish it! The whole Modern day Romeo & Juliet plot had great potential, but it all just got lost somewhere in between. I loved how Bram & Kait's sudden relationship started, it was actually very believable & incredibly cute... Bram can sketch me out anytime! :) haha! But I hated the way Kait's lies just kept on coming! I seriously found myself yelling, "Just fess up already!" ay ya yay! But I will admit, I loved Kait's speech at the end... I'll give her props for that!

Besides my dislike for the constant lies, the ending kind of sucked. It felt so many things up untied... When turned the last page I was like, "What the heck? That's it?" idk. Maybe the sudden ending is supposed to add more suspense to the whole hate/love passion going on, but i wasn't feeling it. If the author were to announce a sequel anytime soon, I would most definitely pick up a copy just to see what happens between Kait & Bram.

Scribbler of dreams is a cute, pull your hair out, but end up liking it in the end overall- type of book! More than anything, if you’re looking for a modern day R&J, then this is the book for you!

Peace&Love, D

Oct 21, 2010

MEXICO DF Travel Blog

Aztec Empire & Southern Mexico
During my stay in Guanajuato MX. I decided to travel all around the southern part of the country! (best decision EVER). Every week after class Friday afternoon I'd hop on a taxi to the local bus top (central camionera) and choose a random, yet interesting, destination from there :) Here you will find a short summary of places I visited on my weekend travels, travel tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage!

During my studies in Guanajuato, I met this AMAZING girl name Ana. Although we had barely met, we became great friends right away, we even ended up being roomies :) Well it turned out that Ana actually had some family in DF and since I had never been, I decided to tag along for a weekend. Upon arriving, her family treated us with such hospitality, I dont think i'll ever thank them enough. On our first day, her family took us on a tour of Teotihuacan, which is also known as "the birth place of the Gods". This place is AMAZING! Teotihuacan is a large archaeological site located about 40 km north of Mexico City. It was built more than 1,000 years and has a total of three pyramids. The city reached its peak around 500 AD when it was the center of a powerful culture that dominated Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan was abandoned around the year 800 AD however the causes of the fall are not known.

When you climb to the top of the Sun pyramid, which feels like a stairway to heaven because of how long it is, you will be amazed by the view! You can literally see all of the southern valley. The Sun pyramid is the 3rd largest in the world. It was really amazing to see a city that was built especially for "the gods" and where all original names are still honored and cared for. I also hiked up the Moon pyramid, or la piramide de la Luna, located at the end of the aveneue of the dead. I tuned into a couple of tour guides and picked up some info about their math and calendrics, which is represented in their art and construction of the buildings and altars. The temple of Quetzalcatl was my favorite with its engravings of Tlatoc, the rain god.

When your getting ready to leave the site, make sure and take a look around the vendors spot. You can find lots of awesome souvenirs for really cheap! But make sure you look around and COMPARE PRICES! I bought this really really cute black stoned, heart necklace for $60 pesos (appx $5 US) which I thought was a super bargain, only to be disappointed a few vendors down when I saw the same necklace for $15 pesos :\
Capital City.
After our Teotihuacan adventures, the next day we got up bright and early to head into the heart of Mexico DF. For breakfast Ana's parents made us "Platanos Machos"... OMGosh! Delicious! I'm craving some right now! You’re honestly going to have to google this, because I have no idea how they were made. All I know is that they tasted amazing with some hot coffee.

To save time, we decided to take a cab down to the Subway and from them make our way to downtown DF. Ok, the subway... if your ever in Mexico don't miss the chance to take a ride on the awesome underground metro. Before my trip to DF I had heard so many horror stories of people being mugged, kidnapped and so many other things. Once I was there, everything changed; people over exaggerate! You just have to learn and fit in. If you walk in there, waving around your pocketbook or wearing the most expense heels you can buy, expect people to be giving you odd looks. Just feel comfortable walking around and know where you’re going. There is SO many people down there, and everyone is in a hurry to catch a sub; I doubt anyone will try and mug you, unless your waving around bills.   
After taking the Metro (subway) to downtown, we made it to our first stop; the National Museum of Anthropology. If you're ever in town and feel in the mood for some interesting tours of the History of Mexico, this is a MUST VISIT! This museum is filled w/rich history, culture and the best part is that students get in for $10 pesos. Once inside the museum, I visited lots of sections, but my two favorites were the Olmecs and Aztecs. For years I had seen and studied the Aztec Calendar thinking it was just another confusing piece-puzzle to Aztec history. Upon visiting this place, I was in for a HUGE surprise! The Aztec stone calendar is actually a 12ft x 4ft stone that was found when excavating el Zocalo. For some reason, even after months of studying it and having the picture shoved in my face, I never knew that stone itself was that big! I had always seen the miniature version in the textbooks. This calendar is actually what many current day calendars are based off of. Its incredible to see how far advanced the Aztec community really was :) 

After our long visit and walk around the museum we headed towards the Zócalo. El Zócalo is the main plaza, or square, in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. It has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times. It is the main site for big Mexican ceremonies, the swearing in of viceroys, royal proclamations, military parades, Independence ceremonies and modern religious events- such as the festivals of Holy Week and Corpus Christi. Set up all around the town square are vendors, performers, tour buses, artists and of course food stands. It's a great place to visit to just get a feel of what a typical day in Mexico feels like. We actually booked a tour on those double decker red buses. It was a lot of fun and very informative! After the tour we headed back towards the subway to catch a ride back to Ana's house, but not before stopping at Plaza Mariachi, were we enjoyed some lovely serenading and our corn on the cob.
Extra-time??? Unfortunately, due to class, I only had a short weekend to travel around the capitol of Mexico. Although I do feel I was lucky enough to visit many places, more time would have been nice. Sunday night Ana and I had to rush back to the “Central Camionera” (central bus station) to catch our 5-hour bus trip back to Guanajuato. If your planning a visit, you should most definitely check out the places i listed above! Well my friends, I hope this blog was helpful in some way, & if you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask :)

Peace&Love, D