Holly Jolly Llama

Hope those who celebrated had a very merry Christmas! As for my Christmas at home - I could regale you with charming stories about our 15-year-old dog almost pooping in the house. But no. No, not today.

Photo Credit: Debie

Here's the dog wearing his denim doggie diaper. Oh, Hunter. The cruelties of age. You are still hanging in there, though! Doing great! Except for the sleep pooping.

Christmas is llama season for Banana Republic advertising, and as a llama/alpaca fan, that makes me happy.

Snapped a picture of a Banana Republic store window. This particular llama looks a tad bit evil. That eye...

I feel like I should like this scarf, just because it has llamas on it.

My Photoshopskillz... So what if the llama looks giant compared to the girls in my Peru vacation clique.

Llamas and Alpacas, Oh My

The only logical place to begin describing my Peruvian vacay is here:

This is Percy. He is a llama (or alpaca? It's unclear...). He is made out of real alpaca wool. I named him after our tour guide at Huaca Pucllana, who was by far the best guide of our trip. Our tour guide at al Museo del Convento de San Francisco, for instance, spoke in a monotone at all times and appeared to be actively trying to lose our group as he walked briskly down the cathedral halls.

But back to Percy. Isn't he loveable? As you can tell from the fabulous art on my blog, llamas are my favorite. I was so excited to see them in real life and to buy llama-related souvenirs, like the llama-emblazoned backpack you see above. The whole trip, my friend Debie and I cooed at all the llama stuffed animals at every touristy shop.

How can you resist?

Debie was the first to cave: she picked up a little llama and christened him Gary, after the dearly departed Gary Coleman. We were on Machu Picchu when we first found out Gary died. Now whenever anyone asks me, "Where were you when you heard Gary Coleman died?" I can say, "Machu Picchu." Top that!

Gary the llama was a good little tourist. He saw all the sights, and Debie snapped pictures of his adventures. Here are some of her pics:

Gary climbing mountains near Huayna Picchu.

Gary taking it all in at the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco.

Here's one I took: Gary enjoying a Maracuya Sour.

This is where I got Percy, can you spot him in the crowd? A little Peruvian grandma ran this table at Pisac Market. She advertised her wares by picking up a doll, shaking it vigorously, then picking up another. "Llama!" she'd say. Shake shake shake. "Alpaca!" Shake shake shake. "Llama!" Shake shake shake. "Vicuna!" Shake shake shake. She was cool. I was laughing so hard that I kept knocking all the little llamas on the floor but she didn't seem to mind too much and I give her props for that.

And then there were two - Gary and Percy. Before long though, we acquired an army. Here's our whole llama/alpaca tribe lined up together. Could it be that we have a problem?

Nah, nothing to see here, just two 25-year-old women playing with stuffed animals.

They are so cute and fuzzy though. I defy you to hold a stuffed llama without making it trot across the table. It's human nature.

We did see real alpacas and llamas though. Here are some at Huaca Pucllana.

Here I am with my best friend Gary. I mean Debie.

And at Machu Picchu. These alpacas wandered free throughout the ruins.

Debie, Lisa, Caroline and I pretty much ambushed the poor things and cornered one until we got the chance to pet it. It made a mooing sound and looked worried. ¡Pobrecita! Guards at Macchu Picchu blew a whistle at anyone who stepped on the grass, and I am so thankful that they didn't see us chasing the alpacas. A lot of whistles would've been blown if they saw that spectacle.

Here's Percy at the airport, en route to his new home in America. I took him to work on Friday and propped him up on my desk. Everyone loved him. Even a principal at our office petted him. "Does he bite?" he asked. "No, he's docile," I said. And yesterday at work, someone asked me, "Where's Percy today?" I think they noticed his absence more than they would mine.

An Alpaca Named Frankie

I gave an alpaca to my friend. She decided that he was a gay alpaca named Frankie. That was just the energy she picked up from him, I suppose.

Here he is, at her desk checking out Gilt.com, chilling with other souvenirs from friends' trips abroad. She writes of my blog, "you should put an update about Frankie in there hahaha and write about how i never go on vacations and everyone keeps bringing me fun things so I'm becoming like an old cat lady but instead of cats i have little dolls from abroad."

Done and done!

Whistle While You Tour

In Lima, we couldn't walk more than a few blocks without getting whistled or honked at. It's understandable why. We were so obviously "outsiders" - plus, my friends are hot, of course.

But always feeling like "the other" - that's the part that can be a drag about traveling. Constantly having a sign on your back that says "I'm a tourist, please try to sell me something." It can be exhausting to not fit in.

I knew about machismo, but I didn't begin to understand it until I saw a few men halfheartedly whistle at us, almost out of a sense of duty. But the shoes I wore one day really blew their minds.

I saw a few people looking at them, scratching their heads, like "What does that girl have on her feet?" Guess the gladiator sandal trend hasn't hit Peru yet.

Back in America last week, I made the mistake of wearing a dress and riding my bike to work. A critical mistake. I wanted to be like the European girls who wear skirts and ride their bikes in Amsterdam, but it didn't turn out like that. Instead my dress kept blowing up as I sped down a hill. Here I was, probably flashing everyone on Massachusetts Avenue, and nary a whistle. "What a great country!" I thought. But perhaps men in the U.S.A. are more discriminating in their cat-calling?

OK, I told you about getting whistled at, now here are the random pictures I also promised:

Something really went wrong in the translation of this menu. Needless to say, I didn't order the "Canibal Pizza."

I would like to order a round of "Sex in My House" cocktails.

These are the directions to use the shower in one of the hostels. So many steps! I think you had to have gone to MIT to properly operate this shower. "In the direction of time" - which direction is that?! Time goes forward, right? Wait, carry the one, divided by the remainder...

I managed to turn the shower on and was proud of myself, but as soon as I hopped in, the water was cold and there was a large slug on the tile wall. One step forward, one step in the direction of time.

This was another three-star hostel. A piece of cardboard from a television box does not a door make. I never considered when we booked the place that we should ask, "And does the room have a fully functioning door?"

Someone in this Cusco internet cafe is a champ with a white out pen.

Aww, Kate Moss, you made it to Lima!

Banksy made it to Cusco as well.

The mannequins in Lima weren't terribly attractive.

But children in a foreign country are always cuter, no?

Here I am, frolicking with pigeons in the square outside San Francisco cathedral in Lima.

Lisa and Caroline frolicking at the Moray ruins. We did a lot of frolicking this trip.

Dressed in the appropriate colors, Debie and I reenacted this poster in Aguas Calientes.

"Hey, I know you are supposed to be stopping a riot at the moment, but could I trouble you for a quick picture?"

So many stray dogs in Peru, and stray purebred dogs at that, which is a phenomena that I don't understand. Very odd. In America these dogs would cost $1000 each, and here they are eating out of the trash. A Dalmatian in Moray, and tons of Shar Peis for some reason. That is the worst dog to be a stray, they are so high-maintenance with their skin issues. Ah, so sad, I can't talk about it.

Me at the gardens of Coricancha in Cusco. This is the best picture of me of the trip, because it's the only one where you can't see the outline of the travel wallet I wore under my shirt. So dorky. I really dug the travel wallet though - no purse, hands-free! I think I'm going to wear it all the time.

I had to pay these ladies a few sols to take their picture at Pisac Market - but we never discussed Internet publishing rights, so there!

Lots of spray-painted rock hearts at the beach in Miraflores in Lima. How romantical.

Debie just sent me an article about coca cultivation making a comeback in Peru, which could overtake Columbia as the world's largest cocaine exporter. I brought some coca candy back to the States. It made it through Customs, but then disappeared from my desk last week. Someone must have been looking for a fix.

Oh and look, Bart and Lisa made it to Peru too!