2018 has been a crazy whirlwind ride. This year has brought incredible new beginnings, new relationships, great challenge, and closed doors. I’ve faced a lot of transition in my career, in my relationships, and in my faith. What began as one of the lowest points in my life, quickly transitioned into a year full of growth and new perspective. My career flourished this year and interestingly enough moved in a direction I didn’t expect towards the latter half of the year. I faced a number of challenges in a changing work environment run by new leadership, and I experienced one door close quickly but another open right behind it. One of my greatest accomplishments this year was completing a 250-hour yoga teacher training, earning a role as a part-time yoga instructor, and finding a calling that I never imagined I would find so much fulfillment in. But the biggest feat at the end of these twelve months was experiencing my faith grow, be tested, and become a strong conviction that God is the only constant in my life that will fill me with completeness and keep me at peace in this whirlwind of life.
I laugh looking back on all of the events that took place this year, what a wild but beautiful ride it has been. If expectation was something I had engrained in my mind, I would have never been able to accept and survive the amount of unexpected that happened throughout this year. The biggest seed of knowledge that grew from the events that took place was the importance of knowing who I am no matter what our dysfunctional culture, surrounding people, and environments throw our way. My ever-evolving work environment was a prime example of this, and the area of my life I experienced the greatest instability in towards the end of this year. I watched a new leader take over our company and throw his ego and power in the face of others, attempting to make those without “prestigious” backgrounds feel lesser than. I watched as he shunned me and many away from any new opportunity in an attempt to turn a fashion company with amazing existing talent into his vision of only A+ pedigrees. We all know that there’s only one type of person that contributes to the success of a company, right? Unfortunately I know how incredibly wrong this man is and will be. No one person on this earth is the same as anyone else, and we each have different talents, backgrounds, and strengths that contribute uniquely to every environment we enter. That is the beauty of who we are and what we do. And this is exactly why it is so important to know and be who you are and not try to live to be someone else. Your story in life is not the same as anybody else’s. Our environments will always evolve, the people around us will not always behave in the ways we expect, and if we don’t own the conviction of who we are and we chain our happiness to what people and situations think of us, the condition of our spirits will easily wear down and we will stop believing in ourselves. I had no desire to be anyone except myself in my work environment, and that is exactly why I saw this door close in my face. There will be times in life when situations that are no longer profitable to you need to be removed in order for you to arrive at greater blessings. For me, I had three incredible years at a company surrounded by so many talented people who shaped my growth professionally, personally, and spiritually, and unfortunately the shift in leadership changed the tides of my environment. But when one door closes it opens a bigger door for even greater to come in, and this new year brings two exciting new job opportunities that will each take me to the next dimension of who I’m called to be.
Peru was a beautiful escape at the end of this summer, and it came around the same time I began navigating all these changes in my life. This country is a site for sore eyes and has a culinary experience not quite like any other. We enjoyed a week of breathtaking landscapes, bellies full of food, and non-stop laughter. This trip was one that will be remembered for a lifetime - I hope you enjoy the photos.
** Kondor Path arranged our entire trip - we traveled in early September. This company is exceptional, they surpassed every expectation we had and made our experience in Peru one to remember. If you are traveling to Peru or specifically Machu Picchu I highly recommend them.
Miraflores reminds me so much of Santa Monica, California- the miles of beach and beautiful ocean, the strand, and the surrounding new construction. This district of Lima is a feast for the eyes. Though the amount of activities to do is limited, Miraflores is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. Peru has a wide range of ecosystems and climates and because of this the country produces a multitude of unique ingredients and resources. This feat contributes to a spectacular culinary experience, and we can attest to spending most of our time here eating to our hearts’ content.
Alfresco is at the top of our list of best restaurants in Lima. If you’re looking for an amazing selection of ceviche and seafood, this is your place.
Maido is the number one restaurant in Latin America and ranked 8th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It is without a doubt one of the best meals I have had in my lifetime. Chef Micha Tsumara’s Nikkei experience takes you on a journey through Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. The dishes are incredible. They play on texture, flavour, and creative twists - each dish takes your mouth on a musical journey. I highly recommend this restaurant, especially if you love Japanese food. Our lunch here was the highlight of our time in Lima.
My favorite location in Lima is the district of Barranco. It’s a Bohemian artist’s district and home to many of Peru’s leading artists, musicians, designers, and photographers. Barranco’s beaches are also among the most popular within the world’s surfing community. We walked the malecón from Miraflores down to Barranco and enjoyed the incredible street art in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Lake Titicaca is a large deep lake in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. By volume of water and surface area, it is the largest lake in South America. Said to be the birthplace of the Incas, it’s home to many ancient ruins. Within the lake there are approximately 120 and growing self-fashioned floating islands, inhabited by the indigenous Uros of Peru and Bolivia. The altitude in this area is 3,812 m, making it higher than Cusco. We traveled to Puno/Lake Titicaca right after Lima and had a few days here to acclimate to the high altitude before heading to Cusco.
Perched in the Peruvian Andes, you’ll find the old city of Cusco. Spanish colonial architecture, arcades, and Inca wall ruins line the streets of the old city. In the surrounding areas you’ll discover Incan sites in the Sacred Valley and of course Machu Picchu. In the old city we explored the streets of San Blas, paid the market a visit, and dined at some amazing restaurants.
San Blas & San Blas Market
Characterized as Cusco’s most picturesque district, San Blas is a neighborhood in the heart of Cusco. Narrow cobblestone streets and colonial houses surround every inch of this artist neighborhood. San Blas is home to amazing restaurants, artists, musicians, and dancers. San Blas market is filled with everything from produce to food vendors to even clothing and souvenirs. You’ll find just about everything you need in this market.
In the Sacred Valley we visited, Chinchero, Sacsayhuaman, the Moray, and Salinas de Maras. The Sacred Valley, also known as Urubamba Valley, was once part of the Inca Empire. Each site we visited was unique in architecture, craft, and grandness, and each beautifully perched next to the backdrop of the Andes.
High above the hills of the Moray, you’ll find chef Virgilio Martinez’s new restaurant, Mil Centro. Mil Centro features a menu of the surrounding high altitude ecosystems, and the 3 hour dining experience is superb and very educational. From the outside the restaurant is unassuming, but it’s tasteful and modern upon entering. The premises include his research laboratory where you will get an educational review of the local ingredients. It makes sense to visit the surrounding sites of the Maras and the Moray, and end your time in the Sacred Valley at Mil Centro.
Machu Picchu was the entire reason for our trip to Peru. We spent two days hiking the short Inca trail and Huayna Picchu. Breathtaking is an understatement, the landscape here is incredible and though the hike can be somewhat strenuous, it is worth every second to enjoy the incredible views from all of its surrounding angles.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge & Hiram Bingham Train
On our last day in Machu Picchu we enjoyed afternoon tea at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge and took the Hiram Bingham train back to Cusco. The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is a beautiful escape right outside the gates of Machu Picchu. We spent a few hours here relaxing and enjoying afternoon tea in their garden overlooking Huayna Picchu. In the early evening we traveled back to Cusco on the Hiram Bingham Train. Though we were exhausted from all the physical activity and sleepiness took over most of our train ride, the Hiram Bingham experience is incredible and highly recommended. My word of advice is to give yourself a days rest before hopping on this train so you can fully enjoy the experience.
I have to write a proper thank you to Kondor Path for literally arranging and executing the most incredible week in Peru for us. I have traveled to over forty countries and the experience we had organizing, planning, and exploring this country was the best i’ve experienced, and we would not have had such a memorable experience without the doings of Patricia and her team. I highly encourage you to travel to Peru with them.