Ah... Ahhhh.... Ahhhhhh.... Machu Picchu!

by Colleen Morrow in

Yes, we're heading to Machu Picchu (and Peru in general) in May! 

And what's really exciting is...  My sister is coming, too!!  We travel a fair bit with a good friend of EDP's and a while back, EDP mentioned to him that we were looking at heading to Machu Picchu soon.  There are already a lot of restrictions on visitors to the site - the high number of tourists plus things like earthquakes and landslides are a threat to Machu Picchu.  A few years back, the government introduced limits of only 2,500 tourists per day with only 400 permits issued for Huayna Picchu and 500 for the Inca Trail.  There's a concern that they may need to shut the site down to tourism entirely so we wanted to make sure we got there before that happened.  Anyway, it was something that EDP's friend wanted to see so he asked to come along.  Since he has a wedding this fall, we decided to plan a trip for the spring.  

Around Christmas, we started looking into things - we decided we wanted to hike part of the Inca Trail so I started looking into tour operators to book with.  Well, things were booking up so we jumped on booking a 2D/1N trek that lets us hike the last 10km of the Inca Trail and then spend at day at Machu Picchu, including hiking up Huayna Picchu.  While we were working on this, I texted my sister to see if she wanted to come and after giving her a full 24 hours to decide, she said she was in!  So now, the four of us are heading to Peru in May.  

As the official Tour Director, I'm still working on the itinerary and I figure I probably should share it with my travel mates before the rest of the world but it's shaping up to be a pretty good trip!  

2015 TBR Challenge

by Colleen Morrow

Last year, I signed up for Roof Beam Reader's TBR Challenge and failed spectacularly.  Well, I failed the challenge but I did make some good progress in clearing the oldest books in my TBR so it was somewhat of a success.  I ended up getting through 7 of my 12 books and I'm hoping to still finish off one more this year.  And I found it motivating enough that I'm signing up again for the 2015 challenge.

The challenge is no different this year - 12 books that have been languishing on your TBR for more than a year.  I'm going start with the 4 that I didn't get through in 2014 and add 8 more to the list.  And they are:

Leftover from 2014:

  1. The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson - been on my TBR since 2010
  2. Intellectual Capital by Thomas A. Steward - been on my TBR since 2006
  3. The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean 7 Peter Elkins - been on my TBR since 2006
  4. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman - been on my TBR since 2006

And new for 2015:

  1. The Art of Strategy by Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff - been on my TBR since 2009
  2. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell - been on my TBR since 2013
  3. What the Buddha Never Taught by Tim Ward - been on my TBR since 2010
  4. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje - been on my TBR since 2008
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - been on my TBR since 2010
  6. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - been on my TBR since 2010
  7. Ex Libris by Ross King - been on my TBR since 2010
  8. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding - been on my TBR since 2006

And my alternates for the year are The Crimson Petal & the White by Michael Faber (been on my TBR since 2009) and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (been on my TBR since 2013)

Zip Lining in the Jungle

by Colleen Morrow in

Our last full day in Belize gave us some pretty good relaxing time in the morning followed by Central America's longest zip line in the afternoon.

This was actually our first day that we didn't have a morning adventure so we took our time getting up and heading to breakfast before getting some solid reading time in.  I curled up on the porch and EDP headed down to the beach.  After lunch, it was time to head over to the Bocawina Zip Line.

We had a big group - there were 9 of us and 4 guides.  We got buckled into our harnesses and helmets and off we went to start climbing up into the jungle.  After a test run (I think there was an escape hatch after it...) we climbed up some more.  In total, there were 8 runs - all different lengths and speeds.  The longest one was almost a half mile long and you could get up to speeds of 30 mph.  It was a lot of fun, we got to see a lot of the jungle and I didn't lose either of my shoes!  Though, at one point, we had to be dropped via rope about 15 feet.  That wasn't so fun.  I think every lady in our group screamed when the drop happened.  I'm pretty sure I heard EDP laughing at me when I started freaking out.  But the rest of it totally made up for that!  What a great way to end our trip.

After zip lining, it was back for one last dinner and to pack up before heading out Sunday morning.  We had an even smaller plane taking us back to Belize City - this one only held 8 passengers and while I needed a step stool to get off the plane, EDP was able to just step right onto the pavement.  Two more flights saw us safely back to Toronto and now it's back to reality.  And laundry.  

More Snorkelling and Visiting Mayan Ruins

by Colleen Morrow in

Yesterday was our second snorkel day. It was a much larger group than our first trip - no private tour for us. We were in the water twice with a break in between for cookies and fruit. On our first trip into the water, one of the other women got stung by a jellyfish so that wasn't much fun for her but we saw an enormous barracuda along with a few stingrays and tonnes of beautiful fish. Our second trip into the water took us right into the barrier reef which was awesome. Again, lots of fish to see.

After we got back to the resort, it was time for some reading and then we took a walk up the beach to check out some of the other places. Obviously, ours is the best. By the time we got back, a local drumming group was setting up to perform. I wanted to listen but EDP was ready to relax in the hammock for a bit and on our trip back to the treehouse, Orchid (one of the resort's cats) stalked us the whole way back, culminating with leaping into the hammock after EDP settled himself in it. She cozied down awfully quickly and when he came to join me in the main building, he said she was still curled up on the hammock. The drumming group was very enjoyable to listen to. They had a couple of dancers, two drums and a set of maracas. They sang mostly about everyday things in the language of the village, Garifuna.

Today was a long day. We had a 7am start with a 2.5 hour drive inland to visit two Mayan sites. The first was small but had been fairly extensively excavated so we were able to see lots of detail of how things were set up. The second site was much larger but hasn't been fully excavated. We climbed the multipurpose building, which was 9 stories high. It took over 300 years to build with each priest adding a new level. We climbed to the very top of the building which gave us amazing views of Belize and Guatemala. It was such an impressive structure and baffling that it was still standing after being abandoned around 1000AD. Our guide, Harfield taught us a lot about Mayan culture throughout the day, which was so helpful in understanding what we were looking at.

Tomorrow is our last full day. We're ziplining the longest zipline in Central America - one line is almost a mile long!