ShelbySkinner's Travel Journals


  • 27 years old
  • From Yellowknife, Canada
  • Currently in San Jose, Costa Rica

My adventures through Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador

Weekly updates of my trip

Ciao Costa Rica, Hola Peru!

Peru Cusco, Peru  |  Oct 05, 2014
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My last week was just as amazing as the rest of the trip. On my day off I went on a tour with Matilda to Ricon de Vieja. I was expecting to do some hiking but we ended up doing a lot of activities. We started with ziplining which was beautiful. The cables crossed the river many times and the views were beautiful. The next activity was tubing down the river. There were mostly small rapids but a few bigger drops. The guides held onto us and we had life jackets and helmets on.The first one we had to grab a rope as we went over the edge which was sort of scary. Then we stopped about half way again deep spot and swung on a rope into the river. I was scared at first but with a little coaxing from Matilda and the guides did it! Then came the worst part of the whole tubing experience! The guide stopped me and asked me if I was ready because this part was crazy! I should have known it was going to be bad but I did it anyways and ended up falling out of the tube with the tube on top of me holding me under water for longer than I would have liked. I got thrown around a bit but only ended up with a few bruises on my legs and elbow. I was so glad we were near the end because I was a little shaken up and wouldn't have been able to enjoy it at all. After that we went horseback riding which wasn't as good as the first time. The guide we had was on a date with a girl and the horseback riding guide was on his phone the whole time. It was also very hot and I could see my thighs turning red! We took a break from activities and had lunch which was grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We also got a salad, soup, and dessert. All of it was really tasty. The best part was after lunch when we got to spend time at the spa. They had volcanic mud baths where you put on and allow it to dry. It is supposed to help your pores and it did wonders for my acne and skin. Then we sat in the hot springs for a bit which was the perfect way to end the day.

We had lots of turtles come to Playa Njesus to lay there eggs this week which meant a lot of late nights for everyone. We averaged around 4 turtles a night and they were all green and black turtles. The leatherback season just started and I was hoping to see at least one because they have beautiful coloration. On my last day of doing the morning temperatures I saw two turtles swimming off shore. I am pretty sure they were trying to mate which was neat to see. This sounds super cheesy but my last night of night patrols was magical! Every other night had been overcast but that night the skies were clear, full of stars, and the moon lit up the beach. We saw three turtles as soon as we got on the beach and split up. Karol and I had two turtles nesting within 5 meters of each other. When we were removing the eggs from the first one Alberdo came over with a baby sea turtle he had found! I got to hold it for a good half hour before we released it into the ocean. We put it next to an adult to see who would win the race to the water and the adult took off as soon as we got close. The other turtle was being a pin in the butt and kept on digging new nests every 15 minutes. Finally it found a good spot and dropped its eggs. We didn't get back to the house until 1:30 and unfortunately my internal clock is set to wake up at or slightly before 6 am. So I was tired the next day and just relaxed and tired to catch up on sleep.

 I had a really great experience working on the beaches with the sea turtles. My only complaint was the amount of garbage on the beaches. We did beach cleanups once a week and each time we picked up at two bags of garbage. It was actually really sad. Most of the garbage was plastic bottles and styrofoam which had been brought up in the tides. The one beach, playa njesus, which we didn't clean often due to the long walk, was the worst! We brought three bags the one day and filled them all in about an hour and the beach still looked aweful and like we hadn't accomplished anything.

I left Matapalo at 9:30 Friday morning to head back to San Jose. When I got back to San Jose I spent a night with my host family. It was nice to be back with them and I could communicate a little better with my Mama Tica. I also got to call home which was nice even though I was exhausted from traveling all day. Saturday morning when I woke up, at six of course, we had a new girl from Norway staying at the house. She was super friendly and we ended up going to the market together. It took us a while to find the place but that is typical of San Jose. The people are really bad at giving directions but we finally got there. We walked around for a bit and then stopped for a drink. We both got iced mocas with whip cream and sprinkles and they were so good! When I got back I had my last fill of Costa Rican food and was taken to the airport! I was sad but also excited for my new adventure.

The flight to Lima, Peru was about four hours and then I had to spend 8 hours in the airport. There were lots of shops and restaurants but it didn't take long to go through them all. The airport had so many sweets! Cakes, ice cream, cinnamon buns, and candy but I limited myself to just brownie ice cream :) When I got to Cusco Sunday morning I had only had 1 hour sleep and the temperature was much different in Peru than Costa Rica! I was freezing! I was met at the airport by Simon who is the Peru Coordinator who brought me to my hostel. The hostel is very nice with a courtyard in the middle. I have my own room and shower with hot water! I haven't had a hot shower since I left Canada asit is not common for people in Costa Rica to have hot water.I had a cup of coco leaf tea which helps with the change of altitude and then had a nice long nap until lunch time. At around noon Simon came by and gave me a tour of Cusco and showed me all of his favorite places. We went for a typical Peruvian lunch which started with a mussel with salsa, quinoa soup, and then the main course which was rice with shredded chicken in a creamy sauce (Aji design Gallina). We also had Tica Soda which takes like bubblegum. I'm not a huge fan since it is really sweet but it was good to try. It was all really cheap at 10 soles a plate which is a little over $3 Canadian. We walked around a little more and then I made my way back to the hostel to relax. I was bad and had oreo cheesecake and tea for dinner ;) Tomorrow I meet with the people from CREES, the organization I will be volunteering with, to find out more about the program and hopefully meet the other five volunteers. That's it for now! I will be posting from Manu Biosphere the next time you hear from me! Ciao!

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  • User Profile Photo
    Lorna Skinner wrote: Mon Oct 6, 2014
    Hi Shelby:

    Sounds amazing. So glad you are enjoying yourself. Stay safe.

    Can't wait to see pictures

    Love Moma and Dad