Today on my run I realized that if I ever found myself unemployed I would probably die for two reasons.
One: I would be so freaking bored.
Two: How would I be able to fund my travel addiction.
I’m about a week into my re-assimilation to the states. Peru was a dirty, amazing, and wonderful learning experience, but I am really truly happy to be home. I missed my family. How strange.
Personally and spiritually, it was not an easy trip for me. God had a lot of time with me, just me, and it was terrifying in moments. But it’s also God, who loves me unconditionally.
Family vaca to the beach starting tomorrow. Well needed. Well deserved. Time to get my tan on for real.
Alright everyone, listen up!
This post goes out to everyone who has ever wanted to go to Machu Picchu (MP) (which should be everyone, cause its awesome). As you may know, there are multiple ways to get there. After making the trek myself, I feel confident enough to provide you with the deats you need.
Here we go.
If your rich and feel ready to spend a lot of money, you got it easy. First you’ll fly from Lima to Cusco, where you’ll probably stay in a fancy hotel and eat lots of good food. Then, when your ready, take the $71 (one-way) train to Aguas Calientes where you can again stay in a lovely hotel (or even the hostels, they were nice). Early in the morning (5am ish), wake up and take the first bus up the mountain to the ruins. Enjoy the views, take pictures, and repeat the trek in reverse until you are back in your bed stateside.
If your poor, or just adventurous (like me), there’s still a way for you. First, comes the 24 hour bus ride from Lima to Cusco (or you can splurge and fly). When in Cusco, find a travel agency where you can book a 2 or 3 day trip to MP and back. These trips include meals, hostels, and beautiful views. It also involves a 8 hour van ride to Hidroelectrica where you walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes (our package included a train ride back). The morning of MP, you’ll again wake up early (3:30), and begin the steep hike up to the ruins. Enjoy the views, feeling accomplished, and then treck back down to catch your train back.
This was the option we took. I would definitely recommend it as it was cheap and we got to meet so many people also traveling.
The final option is for the rich and adventurous. Two words: Inka Trail. This four day trek goes along the same path taken by the ancient Inkans when they ran from MP to Cusco. I don’t know too much about this route, but I do know it involves 8-month advance planning and lots of money.
Choose your way, or make your own combination! Either way, you’ve got to see it!! Pictures do not do this place justice. The history, the glory, and the awe of it all is worth the visit, no matter how long or expensive you make it.
This trip started off a whole lot different than most.
On most of my abroad adventures I find myself overwhelmingly in love. In love with the people, the new places, the language, everything. But on day two, when I woke up in Lima, in my wonderfully warm bed at the Nomade hostel, all I wanted to do was get on a plane back to the states. I was homesick. I don’t get homesick.
What a wake up call that was. That day, before leaving for Ica, I really had to reevaluate why I am here. Its not because I want to learn spanish or because I want to see my peruvian friends again, its because there are people who need to hear the gospel. Period.
And our team really got to experience that need today.
This marks our second day in Ica, a town surrounded by sand dunes on one side and the Andes Mountains on the other. Its a busy place, full of hustling mototaxis and busy streets. We begain with a short devotional from Philippians chapter 2, reminding us how we need to shine like stars in this dark world. With this in mind, our team split up and went to the local park and mall food court to share the Word. We spoke to students, professors, taxi drivers and more, sharing with each of them the reason why we were here and inviting them to the church we’re partnered with. I was so encouraged by the willingness of everyone to talk to these people, IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE! I was also so amazed by the openness of the people.
When you see a star, you don’t look away.
After lunch and a brief afternoon break, we set out again to visit some members of Pastor Wilfredo’s church. Again, with God’s help, we spoke to and prayed with some people in the neighborhood, and heard some amazing stories of God’s miracles.
Honestly, tonight, there was no place on this entire earth I’d rather be.
High-ho, high-ho. It’s back to Peru we go.
On Tuesday (omigosh that’s tomorrow) I’ll be leaving for my second short-term missions trip in Peru. Similar to our last trip, we will be exploring various cities in the country and interacting with a lot of different people. We’ll be leading children programs and teaching english classes. We’re also planning a trip to Macchu Picchu, the ancient Inca ruins, which I am really really really excited about.
Also similar to last time, the trip is a bit disorganized. For those who really know me, know that this sort of thing is a bit unsettling. I love plans. I love knowing what’s going on and when it’s going to happen. This lack of a plan makes for a bit of a scary trip, but it’s also a good thing as it really allows God to use us in whatever way he wants.
I’m excited to see the people I met last year, and also interact with some new faces. I’ll also be looking forward to improving my spanish skills and being able to lead our group in this way.
As always, I’m going to need a lot of prayer for this trip. Below, you’ll find my prayer card. If you’d like, you can save the photo and keep in on your computer, or you can print it out and use it as a bookmark, refrigerator decoration, etc. I’ll update this blog with new prayer requests as well but the ones listed on the card will no doubt be present throughout the trip.
This experience would not be possible without all of you. Prayers coming from friends and family back home are THE most important part of any missions trip. Each morning when we wake up with confidence and eagerness to face the day ahead, I’ll know that it is because out team has such loving supporters who are thinking about us each day.
Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. See you in 2 and a half weeks!!!
After five beautiful weeks it’s time to officially call my trip to Dubai done.
I’ve traveled, but never like this before. The Eastern side of the world definitely has a different feel to it, and I liked it.
Goodbyes were sad as always. We really bonded with the DCC staff and the students from LAU and there were a few tears in the process.
After finishing the marathon flights and the drive back to PA, I sorta felt guilty. I felt like I wasn’t missing Dubai enough. I wanted to feel a longing for the skyline view again. I wanted to miss the celebrity status and the fancy dinners. I wanted to crave the fresh houmus and Arabic sweets. But I didn’t. So I went to sleep.
When I woke up, I still didn’t miss any of that. The theme of this trip was easily all the crazy things that happened and the sights we got to see, yet I felt nothing towards these events. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!?!?!
To try taking my mind off the guilt, I decided to finish editing a video that I had been working on. After giving it one last viewing before sending it into YouTube, I found the tears I’d been searching for. It was the people. It is the people. That’s what really makes a trip.
We missed out on a lot of experiences in Dubai that intern groups in the past got to do, but I feel like we made up for that by doing a lot more new things. Sure we saw the sights and were treating to five-star living for awhile, but its the bonding that really meant the most.
If you ask me to tell you a story about Dubai I’m not gonna tell you about the buildings, or the gifts, or the hotel, or even the 5-star dinners. I’m gonna tell you about the time we played basketball in the park. Or the time we snuck onto the beach. Or the time we made fools of ourselves at the desert adventure. Or the time we had a BBQ with one of DCC’s project managers.
This is why I love traveling. You can go to the most expensive place on earth or the most poverty stricken area and have an equally amazing time. The difference comes with the people you travel with. They’re the ones who make the trip. So many different people, all with rich heritages and unbelievable stories. Even though I was in Dubai, I met wonderful people from South Africa, England, Ireland, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Scotland, and Nepal. I even got a change to grow my relationships with my classmates and fellow Americans. Interacting with old and new friends really made the trip for me and it’s what I’m going to miss most.
There’s only one cure for this heartache.
I’m never going to stop traveling.
PS: WATCH THIS
Real quick: yea I’m back in the States.
But for a moment let’s pretend I’m still in Dubai.
It was love at first sight.
On our first drive from the airport, it was the building we strained our eyes and craned our necks to see. It can be seen from 95 km away, making up the middle of the Dubai skyline and being challenged in height by no other building. Not only is this the tallest building in the world, but also the tallest free-standing structure, surpassing even radio towers. It’s strong.
Designed after the lotus flower, a symbol in the Arab world, the Burj Khalifa has one of the most unique structures I have seen. In a sense, it is three towers built up in alternating layers and connecting in the middle. It’s beautiful.
Along with being visually attractive, this design was chosen to help lesson the load from wind on the structure. At the top, winds of up to 194 km/hr can hit the Burj. The pointed edges and curved walls delegate this wind and direct it around the building instead of into it. You can see this from the picture below, how the cloud just breaks up as it runs into the building:
Originally created under the name The Burj Dubai (Burj=Tower), the contractors and consultants faced a crisis with the economic downturn that hit Dubai in 2008. Sheik Khalifa generously donated the necessary funds in exchange for the new name. Must have been a lot of money, but well worth it if you ask me. It’s resilient.
I could go on and on and on about this building. Since we visited the top at the closing end of our trip, we really appreciated the engineering complications a lot more. The views were great, but the story of its construction was miraculous. Instead of boring you with the details that your just gonna scroll past anyway, check out the pictures!
“I am the power that lifts the world’s head proudly skywards, surpassing limits and expectations.
Rising gracefully from the desert and honouring the city with a new glow, I am an extraordinary union of engineering and art, with every detail carefully considered and beautifully crafted.
I am the life force of collective aspirations and the aesthetic union of many cultures. I stimulate dreams, stir emotions, and awaken creativity.
I am the magnet that attracts the wide-eyed tourist, eagerly catching their postcard moment, the centre for the world’s finest shopping, dining, and entertainment and home for the world’s elite.
I am the heart of the city and its people: the marker that defines Emaar’s ambition and Dubai’s shining dream.
More than just a moment in time, I define moments for future generations.
I am Burj Khalifa.”
Just a couple days left. Here’s some things I’m really gonna miss about Dubai:
Leaving is bittersweet. Always is. There’s things you wish you did and wonder of the next time you’ll see the amazing people that have entered your life. Home is good too, though. I’m really looking forward to:
Ten days in PA, then off on my next adventure. Can’t stop for too long, I’ll get bored. Now you know that’s why they ask me
Where You At Now
Just about one week left in Dubai.
Time to start freaking living it up.
I’ve obtained a new life goal. After working for a few years and making bank, I’m living in Dubai. This place is seriously just too cool. There are so many different cultures represented, and not just in the tourist population. I’ve met men and women who have moved here from South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, the States, ect. to work and live. I like to think that this is what America was like in the early 20th century before the different immigrants began to mix. To live here for a few years and really experience the creation of the “Dubai-ian” would be unreal! Literally witnessing the formation of a people group. ALSO, in my quest of marrying a foreign man, Dubai is the place to be. The only question is, where do I start?
I’m gonna be bummed to leave. I’m sure you can tell but in case you missed it I’ll say it again, I’ve fallen in love with this place. I’m a marathon traveler, for sure. Even these month long trips are not enough for me. I want to live in places, not just visit. I want to learn the culture and make a group of friends. I want to become a local and know all the good pubs. I’ve gotten a chance to do that here in Dubai. But now its time to leave it all behind and pick it up somewhere else. Tough life, but someones gotta do it.
This is a huge world and I know there’s gotta be a perfect place for me somewhere. God’s blessed me with the resources and the personality to try and find it. It’s an adventure. Or maybe more of a quest. Regardless, it’s mine. It’s my travels.
Traveling rocks. Experiencing new cultures and learning to live in a new environment never gets old. Sometimes it’s awkward, like when you go to the supermarket next door and everyone looks at you like they’ve never seen a girl before in their whole lives. This uncomfortable feeling is one of my favorite things in the whole entire world, mostly because stepping out of my comfort zone helps me to step into a quick growing relationship with my Savior.
Even though this is not a missions trip, I’ve been steadily progressing forward in my walk with Christ and learning some pretty intense things. Those of you who have been praying for me, thank you! If it’s quite alright, I’d love to share with you some of these things.
I’m going to be a senior next year in college, and that means its time to decide what to do with the rest of my life. Not ok. Grad school, work, missions; I can honestly see myself doing all these things. Being on this trip has only enhanced my though process about my future as we talk everyday about different engineering careers and job paths. I think I’ve determined a couple things for sure. First, I want to pursue consulting engineering. I enjoy construction and being on site is pretty cool, but I cannot see myself leading a group of workers or hammering down on them to get the work done on time. We visited a consulting engineering firm here called ERGA Progress and I absolutely loved everything they did! From the promotional videos to their in depth drawings of the building design, I knew it was the direction I want to take my engineering skills. Second, I want to work abroad. I always knew that travelings gave me a unique sort of high, and having an internship in Dubai and experiencing that type of “abroadness” is still getting me to that same level.
Another major lesson I’ve been learning here is how big a role missions will play in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m in an Islamic country, but I’ve been thinking a lot about long term missions. I’m growing a heart for these people. “My soul’s ambition is to preach the gospel…”; this verse has never rang more true to me than now. Whether I’m doing full time missions or just making church a major part of wherever I end up, I know I’m truly happy when I’m sharing God’s word.
Alright, that’s great and all but lets get a little less serious. I don’t mean to share my entire journal with ya’ll.
Burj al Arab, high on the list for my favorite buildings in all of Dubai. The other day, I found out something a little more amazing about it.
Supposedly, the British architect responsible for the beautiful design had a dream of creating a Christian influence in this Muslim country. This is how he did it:
See the cross? If intentional, this monument of achievement in all levels of luxury also features the world’s biggest crucifix.
Our favorite bar spot is right next door to the Burj al Arab, so I basically love going there all the time (See “And This is Crazy”).
Today we went to Atlantis on the Palm Islands and pretty much tore it up. We chilled with the fishes in the aquarium and spend a solid 7 hours in the water park. I’ll say it again, I love this group of people and I’m falling in love with this country (and my boyfriend the Burj Kalifa). I’m so not ready to call this trip quits.
This trip is no joke. We are all learning everything about everything in a civil engineering project. DCC as a company has so many amazing lessons to share with us and so many super cool projects. There’s never a lack of information.
Also, more importantly, we’re learning the true meaning of work hard play hard.
Most days, we spend about 8 hours in the office or on a job site, learning about all the different aspects of civil engineering. These lectures range from the most obvious topics (like concrete production) to the ones that are more hidden (like planning and scheduling). I’ve never really been taught about 99% of this material, so it is all new, interesting, and exciting. We have quizes and presentations, along with a technical report to finish by the end of these 5 weeks.
We sleep in the car, a lot.
Because we sure don’t sleep at night.
The Dubai Bucket List is still going strong and we try to fit something fun in whenever we can. Whether it’s just visiting the famous buildings in the area or taking a trip into the desert, we spend as much time having fun as we do in the office. My days have never been so packed before, and we have 6-day work weeks also. Friday is our only day off and we take full advantage of that fact.
It’s hard to beleive we’ve only been here for just over one week. Time is flying, but it feels like we’ve done so much. Judge for yourself:
We were gifted with the lovely suprise of getting out of the office early. To celebrate, we headed towards the gulf to Souk Madinat, a lovely area just next to the Palm Islands and the Burj al Arab. As a group, we enjoyed a drink together at the bar to celebrate our success so far. Then came the fun part, seeing just how close we could get to the Burj al Arab. The hotel itself is guarded by a singluar road leading out onto its island that is guarded day and night. Only if you have a reservation for a room or dinner can you pass by. We were determined to try. This is as close as we got.
The Burj al Arab is my favorite building in Dubai. The way it protrudes from the ocean is just beautiful. It was designed in the shape of a sail, and when you are driving along Sheik Zayed Road it really looks like a big sail boat is floating just behind the buildings you pass.
Another suprise. We were treated to dinner and a movie by Mr. Yabroudi, the CEO of DCC and our boss for the next few weeks. Dinner was a feast at TGI Fridays (side note: I have now officially been to TGIF in every single country I have been to). Appetizers, main courses, and one of every desert. No skimping here.
Next came the movie, but not just any movie.
As is the tradition in Dubai, luxury is just another average lifestyle. Our movie ticket was for the Gold Box viewing of Men in Black III. After chilling in the Gold Lounge for a few moments, we were ushered into our theatre which was made up of the most comfy recliners I have ever sat in my entire life. They reclined, they had a foot rest, they had a personal call button for anything you may need while enjoying your movie watching experience. The staff even came around and delivered blankets to each patron. With our busy schedules, the comfy chairs and the fact that they movie was kinda boring, most of us passed out.
Two words, Desert Adventure. In the afternoon of our day off we were picked up straight from our hotel in 3 Toyota land crusiers. After a 45 minuete ride to the desert, the adventure began. A wild ride over the steep dunes, a thrilling falcon show, an exciting camel ride, a disturbing belly dancing show, and a buffet dinner were all included. The dinner was held at a beautiful set up in the middle of the desert. Complete with Arabian rugs and pillows for chairs, it was such an amazing cultural adventure as well. With hookah, an open bar, and fantastic music, we were the last group to leave…and they really had to pull us out.
It’s amazing how fast we’ve all gotten along, too. The LAU students and the SU students are mixing and bonding in the best ways. Whether we’re in the office, on site, or having one of our adventures, no one is left out or ever feeling down.
Someone’s gotta be wondering, and for those of you who are I did get a chance to go to church on Sunday. There is a Catholic Church in the area and we arrived just in time for service this past Sunday. The church was PACKED, and it was no small building. Even though I am not Catholic (or support everything about the Catholic Church) it was still good to b in a church. I spent the service just praying and reflecting on my time here so far. God’s showing me so much, and that will surely be the topic of the next blog post.
Can’t wait to share!
PS: Enjoy the pictures!