From The Roof (Lima At Night)

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on April 14, 2014

Buildings with roof access are the best! There is something wonderful about passing time up there with a camera and being surrounded by smog, wet laundry and 50 drying maracuyás.


This is actually the view out a window, but the colored curtains were just too fabulous to not photograph.


Late-night construction crew in Breña.


The remnants of the day’s laundry load.


Also, this is my new favorite song. (Courtesy of Anne.)

Through My Headphones
*Mountains -Yuna


Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on April 14, 2014

The buses resumed service a day or two into our stay in Urubamba, so shortly after arriving, we hopped one to the nearby town of Ollantaytambo.

We wandered around the town for a bit, checking out maps and a local market. I think our initial goal was to check out some of the ruins, like the ones above, but we got distracted by a trail snaking up a mountain thing.


Ruins from a distance.


The river below. Impending storms seem to be a reoccurring theme on our hikes.


We ran into a herd of cows blocking the path and decided to detour, forging a trail up some abandoned terracing and winding up at the base of this rock thing. It was too late to climb much higher, so we settled for admiring the view.

Also, big thank you to the empty tour bus that picked us up from the side of the road after we stumbled off the trail several hours later.

20140325_Ollantaytambo_05Working seatbelt!

Through My Headphones
*Two Way Street -Kimbra

More Peruvian Life Snippets

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on April 5, 2014

Sometime in between dropping clean silverware on the floor and slicing the top part of my thumbnail off into chopped celery, I remembered the several still-unfinished blog posts just waiting to be worked on. Well, shucks!


Here is a neat little church we passed on our walk back from Las Salinas De Maras.

20140326_Cusco_01Our time in Cusco was brief. Here’s a photo of the Plaza de Armas while trying to hail a cab.

Through My Headphones
*Hummingbird On A Wire -Pedestrian


More Hiking

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on April 1, 2014

The Urubamba area has a lot of hills. Hills are nice for hiking.


We found some side trails and headed up.

Through My Headphones
*The Pageant of the Bizarre -Zero 7

Being Sick, 16, And Raising A Cat Long Distance

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 31, 2014

The past few weeks have been spent hiking and trying to stave off some type of sickness. The latter is rather depressing since I rarely get sick (but doesn’t everyone claim this?).

I finally gave up and quarantined myself to the room where I spent a gross amount of time sleeping on my bed surrounded by little piles of cracker crumbs and half-completed journal entries. The time I did spend awake was used to write brilliant cover letters, take self-portraits that only further emphasized the fact that I appear 16, and look at photos of Koz.


True story: Last summer when I stopped by middle school clinic to say hi to a volunteer, one mother asked if I was a program participant.


I might be a terrible cat owner. Two weeks after officially-officially adopting Koz, I moved to Peru. My interactions with him are mostly Skype-based and go something like this:

Actual Conversations

Me: Koz! Koz! It’s me! Hi Koz! Hi!
Koz: (Looks briefly at the screen before returning his attention to his ping pong ball)

A recent Koz accomplishment: Ripping open a 16-roll bag of toilet paper and removing half the rolls in order to sit on said bag.


Koz. I’m very, very disappointed in you… Aw, shoot. Look at those eyes. (Photo courtesy of Dustin Moore)


Through My Headphones

*Ready To Start -Arcade Fire

To Las Salinas De Maras!

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 31, 2014

Another colectivo ride later (where we spent a suspicious amount of time in the lefthand lane), we wound up in Urubamba. We’d planned to go to Ollantaytambo the following day, but now the colectivos were on strike to protest high gas prices, so we ended up walking to las Salinas de Maras, which are working salt pans nestled in the hillside.

After getting lost for a bit, we finally made it to the base of the hills and worked our way up.


Salt pans!


More salt pans!

Going back the way we came seemed boring, so we took the road and started scouting for trails down to the river.20140324_Salinas_04

Looking back.

Trails were sporadic, so we half made our own down to the river. It was a great walk!

Looking out over the salt pans.

Through My Headphones
*Own Side -Caitlin Rose

Buses: A Brief Study (?) On Safety And Peruvian Transportation

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 30, 2014

It’s been nearly three months and many buses since we first arrived in Peru. I wouldn’t say I’m a Peruvian bus expert by any means, but I’m getting closer and closer every day.

Choosing a bus might be an art or something, but for longer trips, we mostly stick with middle-of-the-road buses and all has worked well.

Our first big bus trip was to Cajamarca, where S/.90 bought us 16 hours of bus, three Sylvester Stallone movies dubbed in Spanish, and two days of bus-induced food poisoning.

A few crowded colectivos later and we were on our second big bus trip to Huaraz (S/.45, 8 hours of bus, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 in Spanish, and no food poisoning).

Then we made a really big mistake and took Turismo Sillustani from Chivay to Puno. The Turismo Sillustani bus was like a five-star hotel. The windows glistened. The seats looked clean. Not one of the seatbelt buckles was held in place with a ziptie (see image below).


My seatbelt on the bus from Arequipa to Chivay.

We should’ve known the second its staff handed out individual snack bags and bottled water: Once we got on that bus, we never wanted to get off. Especially when a lightning storm erupted around us and snow filled the road.


This little snack bag was all prepackaged and all mine. Shoot.

Spoiled by Turismo Sillustani, we decided to head to Cusco on Tour Peru and probably would have had we not tried to leave the same day the miners went on strike.

The buses were cancelled, save for one entrepreneurial bus line we’d never heard of. (In fact, my name produces more Google hits then this company, which I think sort of says something.)

A negotiated S/.40 got us 10 hours of bus with no bathrooms on board and seatbelts without buckles. I asked the bus attendant when snack bags would be passed out.  (Just joking!)


My seatbelt from Puno to Cusco -a stunning combination of safety and aesthetics.

It actually ended up a fun bus ride. Well, I kept giggling. See, if no one gets hurt or is emotionally damaged or whatnot, situations like these make good stories. (If the bus had rolled into one of the nearby ravines, I would think differently.)

To avoid the strike, the bus detoured down a tiny dusty dirt road boarding a rather sharp drop. Instead of looking out the window, I chose to concentrate on things like the half-eaten pastry item shoved in the headrest cover in front of me. One time the driver slowed down to ask for directions. Another time we stopped for a communal bathroom break in this field of short grass (see image below).


Communal bathroom break -ever a bonding moment.

The TVs weren’t on, but that’s OK because I just watched the priceless faces of a construction crew as the bus s-l-o-w-l-y skirted the edge of a construction ditch.


Approaching a construction zone.

My favorite stop though was when we all piled off and filled the road ruts with nearby rocks to allow the bus to pass. Unfortunately I have no photos of this moment as I was busy trying to prove my worth by lifting small-to-medium-sized rocks.



Lunch stop! I opted for ice cream.

90 km and four hours later, we scooted back on to the main road, the TVs switched on, and life got infinitely duller.

I think many lessons were learned, but the two I choose to take away are:

  • Don’t drink five cups of tea before boarding a bathroomless bus.
  • Don’t even dare think about trying that half-eaten pastry, no matter how hungry you are. (For the record, I didn’t.)

Through My Headphones
*Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs) -Portugal. The Man

A Tree (A Boring Post)

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 29, 2014


Hiking adventures in Urubamba!


Here is a tree.

Through My Headphones
*Happy (Cover) -Kina Grannis Ft. Fresh Big Mouf


A House In Urubamba (Or, Not A Post On Peruvian Buses)

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 27, 2014

I’m trying to write a post about my experiences on Peruvian buses. It’s a lot harder to write than I thought it would be. Do I start with the colectivos? The swanky tourist companies? The middle-of-the-road buses? There are really an overwhelming number of buses to consider, so instead here is a photo of a house in Urubamba while I ponder potential post material.


Through My Headphones

*I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From -Kings of Convenience




Walking Around Puno

Posted in Uncategorized by katfranchino on March 25, 2014

After our tour of the floating islands, we decided to stroll up a couple of Puno’s hills.20140321_Walking_Around_Puno_01Overlooking Puno and Lake Titicaca

Through My Headphones
*We Can Be Ghosts Now -Hiatus Ft. Shura





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