What Being Trapped in Peru Taught Me About Faith and Perspective

“When the enemy can’t take your faith he’ll try to take your perspective.”

This exact time last year Josh and I were trapped in Peru. Before we left the US for Lima on March 12, 2020 there was one reported case of COVID in South America. On March 16, 2020 that number spiked dramatically both in the US and South America. The consequences of that, as I’m sure you all are very familiar with, completely changed everything.

For Josh and I, what started out as our first international trip together became so much more: a test of our faith, our relationship, and our character.

Fortunately we kept a daily journal of our travels, much of which I wrote in real time. I’ve wanted to share these for some time now because the way God showed up–the ways in which He was there for us every step of the way–y’all I couldn’t make it up even if I wanted to.

You’ll be able to read for yourselves exactly what happened as well as what Josh and I were thinking and feeling during it all. Our faith was tested but we persevered and came out stronger together. The enemy tried to rob us of our perspective but Jesus was all around us, showing us that He is so much more than it all if we only have eyes to see and a heart open to receiving Him.

This is our 19-day adventure in Peru told through words and pictures:

March 13th

We landed in Lima at 9:45pm last night and arrived at our Airbnb in Miraflores okay (our Uber experience was very nerve-racking)! This morning we woke up to a beautiful view of the ocean and Love Park just outside our window. We slept okay (the room has no AC). Weather was a beautiful 81 degrees! We saw so many dogs on our way to Larcromar, the outdoor mall. We bought bottled water there then walked to the bank to exchange money. We had a phenomenal brunch at La Mora, which consisted of scrambled eggs and fresh salmon with avocado, greens and lime; a basket of fresh bread with butter and incredible berry jam; cappuccinos and very fresh OJ; and a Belgian waffle with fruit and the best freshly made whipped cream. We had to walk after that (lol) so we continued to explore! We had heard about the cats in Kennedy Park and well, there were actually cats! Everywhere! We took quite a few pictures of this beautiful Catholic chapel. It was afternoon at this point and we were overdressed so I ended up buying shorts at a department store and then we went into a two story McDonalds (I’ve never seen that before) to get ice cream. We made our way to the ocean and laid on the rocky shore of Playa Makaha. We came back to the Airbnb for a second and then we walked back to Kennedy Park and ate at La Lucha and split the prefferado and we also shared a fresh banana, strawberry, and papaya smoothie. Afterwards we went to Choco Museo and taste-tested choco liquore. We actually ended up buying a small bottle of the fruit flavored one! Finally we made our way back to our Airbnb, exhausted. And no wonder why–in total we walked nearly 13 miles!

March 14th

So we realized that nothing is open before 9am on the weekend. Also, Lima becomes a different city at night! Nightlife is surely a way of life here. People stay up late, sleep in late. We would have done the same but we had to get going this morning. We walked around trying to find somewhere to buy coffee and some food. We ending up buying 3 pieces of fresh bread from a street vendor for 1 peso. It was wonderful. We went and sat in Parque Antonio Raimondi. We finally had breakfast at Beso Frances Creperia where we had sweet and savory crepes and Cortados. We went back to our Airbnb to grab our things and request our Uber to the airport. We checked in and while we waited to get on the plane we ate at a cafe and shared our first empanada in Peru. It was a spicy, creamy chicken empanada and it was very good. We also stopped in this little shop and sampled chocolate covered fruits and coffee beans. We discovered Maca, an ancient Incan grain believed to maintain youthfulness. We didn’t buy any but took pictures to remember to get some time, maybe. We finally got on our SKY airline to fly to Cusco! The spectacular views of the mountains became clearer and clearer as we got closer. We got off the plane and then had our first bartering experience! Josh bartered with a taxi driver to take us to our Airbnb. Our driver drove almost as crazy as in Lima. Luckily I had beautiful architecture and statues to distract me on the drive. We arrived at our Airbnb and met the house manager, Marleni, who was very nice and very hospitable. We enjoyed the views of Cusco from our room and the upper patio. After getting settled we went out to walk around and explore. We discovered a really cool coffee shop called Monkey Coffee and also a bread and postre place where we later got Pan Maca and two empanadas for the morning. We walked around the plaza which was captivating. There were so many people out too! We ate dinner at a place that had 4 or 5 different types of cuisines. I played it safe though and ordered a personal cheese and spinach pizza but Josh ordered a local alpaca dish with green sauce. I tried a bit. It was tough and salty and I didn’t care for the green sauce. We walked to Wanchaq Station so we knew where to go in the morning and then headed back to our Airbnb where we sat and enjoyed the night air and lights before going to bed.

March 15th

So last night Josh got hungry and ate part of his empanada while I was cleaning off in the bathroom. Well, turns out that empanada wasn’t a good empanada. Josh got food poisoning. Also, the Pan Maca was not very good so unfortunately we will not be returning to the pan place despite how nice the owner is. Josh is hurting but we arrived at Wanchaq Station a little after 7am and got on our bus on time. The 2 hour ride was a little bumpy but the mountain views were wonderful. We arrived at the train station and had about 30 minutes before we boarded the train. We sat across from a couple who were from Hong Kong. They were really nice! We arrived in Auguas Calientes and after a while we found our hostel. Yuri, our host, was amazing and really helped us out with figuring out our tickets to Machu Picchu. He got us settled in our room and then Josh and I laid in bed and eventually slept for nearly 3 hours. We woke up, got our bus tickets up to Machu Picchu, walked around a little bit, bought waters, medicine for Josh, croissants for the morning, and then ended our evening with a fantastic dinner at the Happy Indian restaurant which is just down the stairs from our hostel. We each had soup with fresh rolls and it was delicious. Poor Josh didn’t eat much though. He’s really not feeling well. I hope this medicine helps. We went back to our hostel to shower but there was only cold water so we cleaned ourselves with wet wipes and laid down by 7:45pm and watched a Ben Stiller movie, The Watch, and fell asleep. 

March 16th

Poor Josh woke up still having really bad food poisoning. I had some too but not as bad. I’m also beginning to wonder if I’m experiencing elevation sickness. We both took the medicine we had bought the day before. We packed up and got ready to head to the bus station. We checked out of our room and headed downstairs to give our bags to Yuri. Then we headed to the bus station. We weren’t there for very long when a French gentleman gave us some unbelievable news: the buses weren’t running. The president of Peru had issued travel restrictions at 5am this morning. The buses aren’t running and Machu Picchu is closed. Josh and I were in disbelief. We walked up to the bus station where we had bought our tickets the day before and read the notice on the doors. Sure enough, the buses in Machu Picchu weren’t running and Machu Picchu had closed. I think it took a while for us to believe it. We went back to our hostel to get our bags from Yuri. He had the local news playing in the background and didn’t seem at all surprised but was sympathetic. He told us to go straight to the train station and get on a train as soon as we could because after tonight there wouldn’t be transportation from Auguas Calientes. We thanked Yuri and walked straight to the train station. The line seemed to go on forever. Fortunately we happened to stand behind a couple from Florida who were able to give us a little bit more information, but mostly it was just nice to talk with someone and pass the time. As we neared the gate things seemed to get more and more hectic. People were starting to get agitated and there was definitely a sense of building paranoia. There were 3 lines: one for residents, one for people with tickets, and one for people who didn’t have tickets. Thank God Josh and I had tickets for today. After nearly 2 and a half hours in line we boarded the train. Another 30 minutes and the train finally departed. There were guards everywhere outside the train. I was starting to feel my anxiety build. Before I got on the train I had to show my passport and while I was trying to get my passport out of my bag, our money spilled out all over the ground. Josh was ahead of me and he became flustered which only made me more flustered. By the time we sat down I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack. Josh said something to me and sadly I snapped at him. We sat in silence for a while as we listened to the rumors and the news that flew up and down the car and especially across the aisle. The couple across from us were from Atlanta and had been traveling in South America since March 2nd. They were the ones who told us that at midnight tonight Peru would certainly be undergoing a countrywide lock-down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As of today they are going to restrict all travel and detain people in the country for 15 days. At least that’s what we’ve heard. But we’re staying hopeful. The plan is to head straight to the airport as soon as we arrive in Cusco. However, those plans changed once we realized the state of things as we arrived back in Cusco. The city square was completely closed off. There were what seemed like countless people in lines outside of hostels. Traffic was insane. As we drove past the airport we realized that there weren’t any planes on the tarmac. So we moved to Plan B. Josh and I got a taxi to our scheduled Airbnb. It took us a while to try and find it. On our way, we met an American couple coming out of a market. They told us about a place they were staying that wasn’t too far and told us to come find them if we couldn’t find our hotel. We swapped contact information and then Josh and I resumed our search of the hotel. We finally found only to learn that the hotel wasn’t accepting customers and would be closing their doors. The receptionist however, whom only spoke Spanish (we are in a Spanish speaking country after all!), was very nice and accommodating and called people to help us find other arrangements. Before long a taxi driver appeared in the hotel lobby. He also didn’t speak any English. He saw our bags, grabbed them both, walked out to his taxi and put them in the trunk. Josh and I followed him pretty dazed and confused but we also both had an uneasy feeling. We were like, “Hold on a second. Where are we going?” And from what I could make out (I understand spoken Spanish far better than I can speak it) he was taking us to a hostel in a subsection of Cusco. Josh and I weren’t comfortable with that. The taxi driver could thankfully understand that much so he took us and our bags back to the hotel where the receptionist called another person and within minutes, she appeared. She was this kind, petite lady who you could tell was exhausted from running around. Her name is Ylolanda. She speaks some English and said that she could quickly take us to her boutique hotel. She showed us our apartment and needless to say: Josh and I are floored. We can’t believe how much we have been blessed. This place is beautiful. It has a full kitchen, a real fireplace, a beautiful balcony with a breathtaking view, a comfortable bed, a shower with hot water- all for $40 a night. After Ylolanda showed us the apartment and we went over all of the important information, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I sad down and broke down in tears. Josh was a little emotional too. As I’m recounting all of this, I still can’t believe it. God is so good. In the midst of today that has been nothing but complete chaos, confusion, fear, paranoia, utter disappointment, and sadness, God stepped in and said, “I’m here, My children. I will take care of you.” After we settled in and contacted our loved ones, Josh and I walked down to the market to get groceries and supplies. Later we also had to walk to a pharmacy because Josh is still having bad food poisoning symptoms. We showered and I FaceTimed with mom and dad. Then Josh and I made our dinner. We had ramen, peaches, and red wine for dinner. It felt luxurious. After dinner I began feeling really cold. I couldn’t stop shaking. I definitely think I have altitude sickness. Together we curled up in bed and feel asleep to a movie. 

March 17th

Thank goodness- we finally slept in! Ylolanda had told us yesterday that if we needed laundry to be cleaned all we had to do was put our laundry out in front of our door and it would be taken care of. Another blessing. We are so grateful because we only packed 3-4 outfits to fit in our backpack duffle bags. While Josh FaceTimed with his mom I made breakfast. I made the coffee a bit too strong (oops). After breakfast we went out and walked to the US Consulate but it was closed. The only thing there was a letter on the door (huh). So then we tried to find a fresh produce market but we unfortunately couldn’t find anything. We came back to the apartment and that’s when we met a couple from Maryland. It was them as well as Ylolanda that informed Josh and I that all major modes of transportation are shut down, including the airports in Cusco and Lima. Josh and I then sat outside for a while trying to figure out what we were going to do. We spoke with Ylolanda about the possibility of us being able to stay in the apartment until the end of the month and she was so sweet and kind and said that wouldn’t be a problem. I can’t say it enough: God is so good. Afterward, Josh and I made lunch and made a trip to the market close by. We bought fresh produce, beer, popcorn and oil for $22. We came back and finished making lunch: quinoa with avocado, tomato, and onion, tuna, and fresh mango. It was delicious! We then each opened a bottle of beer and went to sit outside on the upper patio to enjoy the view and play a few games of chess. The sun started to go down so we came back in and cleaned up from lunch and then Josh made stove-top popcorn that was really good. He then put on some Marvin Gaye and we danced in the kitchen. Tonight was a memory I’ll never ever forget. After a while we cleaned up. Josh showered and I read for a bit. We spent some time updating our friends and family on social media. Then we watched the end of Creed II and some of the Guardians of the Galaxy and fell asleep. 

March 18th

Josh and I awoke to another beautiful morning. We had many reassuring, caring, thoughtful messages from friends and family praying for our circumstances so that was a super encouraging start to our day. Josh made the coffee today (lol) and it was still dark but not as strong! We also tried the orange juice we bought yesterday and it was the BEST we’ve ever had. Afterwards we laid in bed watching movies (Hancock, The Ugly Truth) while also trying to figure out our flight situation and who we need refunds from. Today was the day that we were supposed to go to Rainbow Mountain on ATVs. That experience was obviously cancelled. Josh spent a lot of time talking back and forth with his mom and SKY and United Airlines and just worked feverishly to get us back home. The first flights back to Nashville are available April 1st so his mom generously paid for our tickets. Seriously, I can’t even begin to express what a blessing this is. If all goes well, we will get back to Nashville on April 2nd at 2pm!! This brightened our spirits. We had brunch (tomato and onion omelets with avocado, peaches, and orange juice). After back and forth communications with Ylolanda we determined the total cost of our stay for 16 nights at her boutique hotel. This amounted to $720. Affordable and unheard of, especially in the US. Again what a tremendous blessing! The 48-hour travel allowance ended today so supposedly only 1 person is allowed to go somewhere (no people walking in pairs or groups). Ylolanda also told us there is a curfew from 8pm until 6am and that banks are open from 10am until 2pm. We’re not sure if this applies to other businesses, including markets, as well. So after looking at the cash we had on hand and our finances, Josh gathered our cards and his passport and left to find an ATM so we could pay Ylolanda. Hopefully he’s able to pull out soles (pronounced SOL-AYS) as well so we can buy more food at the market. After a little while Josh returned with the money we needed to pay Ylolanda as well as 500 soles. He said he saw lots of people walking together and also passed many officers and didn’t get stopped once. So we decided to leave the apartment together to first stop at B&B Hotel Pension (where we were supposed to stay originally) to talk to the receptionist about canceling our reservation so we could get a refund. He told us that he would write down our situation to pass on to his manager and asked us to return at 10am tomorrow. Afterward we went to a market Josh had found on his way to an ATM and their selection was incredible! We got eggs, avocados, limes, peaches, tomatoes, tuna, Oreos, bread, jelly, pasta, and pasta sauce. After coming back to the apartment I put away the groceries while Josh paid Ylolanda and we went and got more water. We then sat and talked a while. Josh is worried, rightfully so, about how this will affect his PTO. His choices are to either use these next few weeks as paid leave which will leave him with nothing for the rest of the year or take unpaid leave. His boss is going to try to see if he can use some of his sick leave so we are hopeful for that. We drank some beer and wine and listened to music while we made dinner: pasta with Chile verde sauce (like a creamy pesto) and broccoli. We ate every last bite. We then played a few rounds of Jengo, cleaned up, made popcorn, and watched A Quiet Place

March 19th

I did not sleep well at all last night. I had bad stomach pains all night and finally got up around 6am to go to the bathroom. If it’s possible to catch Josh’s parasite, I think I did. I was pretty awake afterwards so I showered and got ready for the day then went downstairs and read until Josh woke up. He made us a delicious breakfast: scrambled eggs, avocado, peaches, coffee, orange juice and toast with marmalade. While it was super good my stomach didn’t agree with it sadly. Josh contacted News Channel 5 in Nashville because they reported on a couple from Nashville that is also stuck in Peru. That makes 3 couples as far as we know now. Oh yeah! That American couple we talked to a few days ago and swapped contact information with, they’re from Nashville (small world!!) AND they are staying in the exact same boutique hotel as us! Later, Josh and I made a shared photo album on our phones. He also created an album on Facebook to share some of our notes from our daily journal. I have plenty of thoughts and emotions circling my head so I should probably do something to share too. A little after 10am we walked back down to B&B Hotel Pension to talk about our reservation and our refund. There was a new person there, a woman, and her English was a little better. At first she couldn’t find our reservation in the computer so she had me write down my name. I showed her our reservation on the Airbnb app and after rooting through some files she said, “Lauren?” And we said yes and she showed us printed papers of our reservation and pointed to a dollar amount near the top of the page. The amount was $43 something and she said this was the amount she could pay us. We asked if that was only for one night and she said yes and we told her that we booked for 3 nights and paid the amount listed on our Airbnb reservation. She then told us she’d have to speak to her colleague who was coming in that afternoon and gave us a business card to call then. We explained that we were staying up the street and preferred to come by in person and she said that wouldn’t be a problem so to come back around 3pm. After leaving the hotel we started to walk to a pharmacy but were stopped by two security officers. One of them spoke very firmly in rapid Spanish and told us people could not walk in pairs, only one person, and that one of us had to go back to the hotel. Josh and I looked at each other and Josh said he’d go to the pharmacy and handed me the keys. I walked back to the hotel and waited in the courtyard until I heard Josh knock on the door. He came back with medicine and Pedialyte. Josh said he saw lots of people walking in pairs so I guess we just happened to get the strict guy. We sat in the courtyard a while to soak up the sun. I mixed my electrolytes in my OJ. Josh and I got hungry so we made lunch: tuna and Quinoa with lime juice, tomato, avocado, and onion. It was just as delicious as last time! We had Oreos for dessert and then danced to some of the music on the local station. I love these memories so much! We moved back outside to read and I eventually got too hot and moved inside to cool down but was so comfortable and cool I eventually dozed off for a little. Josh came in to check on me and I read a little bit then joined him back outside. The couple from Maryland were outside so we spoke with them about the usual (getting back home, refunds, etc.) and then Ylolanda walked through and Lance (the husband of the couple from Maryland) asked Ylolanda a few questions about the property. What started as something inquisitive turned into something supremely interesting and beautiful! We learned so much more about Ylolanda and her story and it made me appreciate her for the person she is so much more. After talking for quite some time we all returned to our apartments. It was 3pm so Josh and I headed back to Hotel Pension. We met an entirely new person who spoke the best English yet. He asked me to email a copy of the receipt of our stay and to give the hotel 48 hours to look everything over and respond. We walked back to our apartment and made some tea and coffee and we read. Josh’s boss FaceTimed with Josh to update him with his choices as far as taking vacation time or unpaid leave these next few weeks. It was pretty much what we expected but not what we hoped. Josh was, rightfully so, disappointed and a little angry. We decided to get dinner started. Josh ran down to the market to get something to drink with dinner and came back with Pisco, the Peruvian choice of alcohol. It’s made from grapes but doesn’t ferment like wine. It smelled like vodka but went down smooth like tequila. It was pretty strong so we mixed it with Sprite! We made steamed broccoli and pasta with red sauce. After dinner we went upstairs and Josh showered. While in there he had the idea to create an online travel journal: something we could be really honest and transparent in because this wasn’t for profit or gain but something to record our adventures and share with our families but most importantly our children someday, God willing. He also found a book he wants us to get and begin reading together called, Learning to Love You More. We then watched X-Men and fell asleep. 

March 20th

We slept in pretty late today! We woke up and made our coffee and then I made avocado toast, which Josh actually really liked! We then spent time catching up on our Bible in a Year plans. We made lunch which consisted of our staple quinoa salad, ramen, and an incredible mango. We read some more and started contemplating what to make for dinner. We came up with fried rice and made a list of stuff to grab at the market. We got ready to go and walked there “together” (Josh stayed about 10 steps behind). We grabbed what we needed and also stopped at the market down the street to get waters again. We came back and made some cocktails: this time pisco, orange juice, and lime. Yum! I had about 3 of these over the course of the night haha. Josh read and was finally able to connect his tablet to the WiFi so he downloaded some games too. I got dinner prepped (rice cooked and chilled, veggies cut up). We made the rest of the fried rice together (near the end Josh ran to the market to get some hot sauce). The fried rice actually turned out really really good! Josh and I high-fived because we were honestly pretty impressed and proud lol. After dinner we sat together and I felt overwhelmed with love for Josh and I also felt this strong nudge to open up. So I did and I am so happy that I did because it was one of the most beautiful and wonderful and memorable conversations we’ve had. I shared with Josh that that morning I had a vision of our first child being born, which brought tears to both of our eyes. And I think just that whole moment solidified why God had orchestrated this–this being the very beginning of us to everything going on in our world right now–and I just felt overwhelmed with gratitude and love for God. I also felt there were many times during that conversation that God spoke through me and I am sincerely grateful for that. Josh and I ended the night with Oreos and Star Wars. Today was a really, really great day.

March 21st

We slept in this morning again. I don’t think either of us slept that well. I laid in bed catching up on writing our daily notes while Josh, sweet guy, cleaned up the dishes and kitchen from last night. We had toast, eggs with avocado, coffee and OJ for breakfast. We cleaned up and then Josh started on his finances and I read for a while. We had ramen for lunch and then kind of did our individual things for a while more. We went back down to our favorite market and stocked up on quite a few things! Together we ate the rest of the fried rice for dinner and had chocolate Oreos and wine for dessert. Afterwards we curled up and watched a few movies and eventually fell asleep!

March 22nd

We slept great last night because it got so cool! Our morning consisted of a mini pillow fight followed by breakfast tacos with OJ and coffee. We watched Cross Point’s Sunday service online and then headed outside to enjoy the sunshine and read. After a while we had lunch (tuna, toast, and an apple for me, tuna, ramen, and an apple for Josh). We headed back outside to read and Lorelei and Lydon (the other couple from Nashville) came back from the market with items for tonight’s little community dinner they are hosting! We ended up sitting and talking with Lorelei for quite some time. It was a great conversation, the kind that builds community. Afterwards Josh and I headed back into our apartment and FaceTimed with Josh’s dad, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. Technology has been such a blessing during this time. It was nearly 5pm so we said our goodbyes and got the pineapple prepped for our dinner party. We then headed out to the courtyard and were soon joined by Lorelei and Lydon who had made a Peruvian rice dish (one was vegetarian and the other had bacon bits in it) and Pisco Sour (which was delicious). Pam and Lance (the couple from Maryland) brought amazing green olives, chips, and peanuts. The French Canadian couple who is staying in the apartment upstairs brought wine. Philipe and Ola (another younger couple from Seattle) brought the crowd-favorite: fresh mango salsa, banana chips, and pork rinds. We all sat around, ate, talked, and drank. Gosh it was so good to be around community! Josh and I came back in, got ready for bed, ate Oreos and watched Bohemian Rhapsody and fell asleep. 

March 23rd

We both woke up feeling well rested and rejuvenated! We had eggs in a basket, fresh pineapple, OJ, and coffee for breakfast. After cleaning up I FaceTimed with mom. It was so good to see her and talk with her. Josh and I then headed to San Pedro market. It was about a 20 minute walk which felt great! The outdoor market was huge and there was SO much. We grabbed fresh fruits and other produce, tri-colored quinoa, sweet potato chips, and chocolate. We were on the lookout for peanut butter but didn’t see any. We also walked around the smaller markets near the outdoor market. The meat markets were overwhelming- chickens, cow snouts, an entire cow’s head with the majority of its skin peeled off. Still no peanut butter. Then we walked past an actual grocery store! The guy near the door wouldn’t let us in until we had legitimate face masks (we still had our bandanas on) so we had to find a street vendor selling them for 3 soles each. We went back to the store only to have him tell us “one person only, no couples”. So I waited outside while Josh grabbed things, including peanut butter! We then walked back to our apartment. We had no idea but we had been gone for nearly 2 and a half hours! It was so awesome to stretch our legs that long. We made fresh guacamole and ate that with the sweet potato chips and grilled tortilla. We were both pretty tired so we laid in bed and read. After a few hours Josh was ready for dinner. We wanted beer so we headed to the closest market and found 4 Stellas but the younger lady in there wanted to charge us 53 soles! So we said, “no thank you” and headed back home. We FaceTimed with my grandparents while dinner cooked. We then sat down and ate (pasta with Chile verde sauce and freshly shredded cheese and broccoli). For dessert we had Oreos and milk (I wasn’t a fan of the milk because it’s whole milk). We then did our usual routine- got ready for bed and picked a movie and fell asleep!

March 24th

We slept in until 10am before making porridge/cream of wheat with strawberries. While we drank our coffee we read our books. It was blissful. We had PB&Js for lunch and then both voiced that we were craving pizza so we decided to walk back near the San Pedro market to go to a new grocery store we found on Google Maps. It was a beautiful day and a great walk! We stopped at an ATM on the way and walked by the plaza we had gone to our very first day in Cusco. It felt surreal. There was no one there except for the guards patrolling. The market we went into was great! It felt very “American” with prices listed and aisles and large selections. We picked up fresh ciabatta, chorizo, pepperoni, Coke, body wash and shampoo, butter, corn chips, tuna, and a few other things. We stopped at our favorite little local market to get white wine. We got back to our apartment around 4pm and Josh was hungry so we made our little pizzas and read afterward. I finished my book, The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. Josh is nearly finished with his. After cleaning up the kitchen I poured another little glass of wine and went upstairs to eat my ice cream sandwich and drink my wine and watch a movie. Josh stayed downstairs to read. At one point I came downstairs and he asked about dinner. I laughed because I thought we had already had it but poor guy was hungry so he made himself dinner (beef ramen with egg and cheddar cheese). Afterward he came upstairs and we watched a movie and fell asleep.

March 25th

We slept in again! We are definitely enjoying this while we can. We made breakfast tacos and then went outside. I had to catch up and work on some stuff for coaching and so I did that while Josh read. We headed inside when it looked like storm clouds were coming. We made lunch (grilled cheese with tomato, avocado, and pepperoni). We continued to read/work on stuff. Soon it was 4pm and we had to get ready for the second dinner party hosted by Sue and Lance. I started on the guacamole while Josh headed to the market to grab a tomato and, disappointingly, a razor blade. He’s been talking about shaving his beard into a mustache. I really hope he doesn’t because I love his beard! We made fresh guacamole and brought out our dish. Everyone soon joined us and we had another great night of laughs, thought-provoking conversation, and community. Night fell and we all headed back to our individual apartments. Josh and I finished off the rest of our Pisco. What started as a conversation that I initiated by asking, “What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to most about marriage?” turned into a nearly 2 hour heart-to-heart conversation that again, I will remember and treasure forever. We headed upstairs to get ready for bed. Josh shaved his beard into a mustache, which I was not happy about (we are not that bored for crying out loud). We laid in bed and eventually fell asleep.

Not at all amused by his decision.

March 26th

Two weeks in Peru is starting to get to us. Sue and Lance boarded a flight to Miami this morning and also neither Josh or I slept well. I definitely woke up feeling “off”. I showered and Josh had made breakfast: chorizo sausage with red peppers, eggs over easy, toast, coffee, and OJ. Breakfast of champions. We sat outside and read. My anxiety felt super high so I moved inside to listen to my favorite Worship music and read. Josh continued to read his book. Around noon we got an email that confirmed our worst fears: Peru is extending the quarantine an additional 15 days, until April 11th. Sue and Lance communicated to us via email that about 25 people who weren’t invited to fly today got on the flight to Miami. Josh is wondering if we should take that same risk tomorrow. But I have so many fears. We have no idea how much the flight costs. We have to get a flight from Miami to Nashville on our own. We already paid Ylolanda for the apartment until the 1st and I doubt she’d reimburse us. All in all tensions are high and it’s just all the more depressing given the wonderful conversation we shared last night. I’m fighting to remain faithful and trust God. Fear is so strong but God I know is stronger. The funk unfortunately though continued for the rest of the day. Josh and I went to the market to get some eggs, more bread, juice, cookies, carrots, and beer. We came back to make dinner: asparagus and green beans sautéed in garlic and onions, and bow tie pasta with a sauce combo that Josh made. We had a glass of wine before dinner and a beer with dinner. A full stomach and the alcohol certainly helped to ease some tension between us but it was still palpable. We headed upstairs for a movie and bed but I think we were both restless. I knew I needed to apologize and afterward things lightened. We never really discussed in full what happened today but I think it was understood why today was the way it was. The best news is that today ended on a much better note and we fell asleep soundly. 

March 27th

We woke up feeling much better today!! We were both playful and happy, which made my heart so much lighter. We made coffee and breakfast together: eggs over easy, chorizo sausage, toast, OJ, and mango. We ended up FaceTiming with Josh’s mom while we ate. We talked about the latest news in Peru as well as the increasing intensity back home. While somewhat of a bleak conversation it was also happy because today marks 4 months exactly until the wedding! So talking about that as well as planning made it feel better. After hanging up with Josh’s mom and finishing eating we started on laundry. We laughed and had fun as I washed dirty clothes in the sink and Josh rinsed them in the shower. We then cleaned up the kitchen and had PB&Js for an afternoon snack. Josh was going through the FB page for “Americans Stuck in Peru” while I continued our attempts to get reimbursed for the our last Airbnb stay in Cusco. I had a Zoom meeting with the HS coaches and kids but the app took way longer to download than I planned so I was 20 minutes late (blamed it on reception). Afterward I started prepping dinner: tri-colored quinoa with sautéed zucchini and carrots and tuna with spicy cream sauce. Josh took some pictures with his camera while I cooked and after it was ready we sat down to eat and enjoyed a glass of wine. Soon it was 6pm and we jumped on our Zoom “meeting” with our friends. We played a few games and laughed a lot, caught up with each other, then said our goodbyes. We headed upstairs and watched This Is 40 then got hungry again so we made popcorn and watched some of Mission Impossible 2. It started thunder-storming but we are warm and dry, full and happy. Today was a great day 🙂

Our dinner that evening!

March 28th

We slept in rather late again (so enjoying this) and made brunch: omelettes with toast, coffee and OJ. We sat and drank coffee and read while we waited for the thunderstorm to pass. Around 2:30pm we got up to head to the market to grab things for the dinner we are hosting tonight with Lorelei and Lydon. More and more parts of the city are being closed off and there were definitely more guards. Both Josh and I had our temperature taken before we could enter the market. We grabbed everything we needed and headed back to our place to get started on cooking. We made our quinoa salad (regular quinoa with fresh lime juice, pepper, avocado, tomato, and onion) prepped our hoagies (ciabatta rolls cut in half and sliced then grilled; chorizo sausage sliced and grilled; peppers and onions sautéed); and also made our appetizer platter (almonds with coconut cubes, corn seeds, and apple slices with crunchy peanut butter). A little after 5pm Lydon and Lorelei knocked on the door and our little dinner party began! Lorelei had made fresh fruit cocktail mixes made with Peruvian fruits (puréed passion fruit and simple syrup, puréed strawberries, and a puréed fruit Mark Twain called, “the best fruit God created”). We tried all of these in order with Pisco (we finished the entire bottle). We ate all of the hoagies and a good bit of the quinoa salad. We nibbled on the app plate as we talked and Josh tried to get a fire going (it’s really hard to make a fire at this altitude). After our dinner and apps settled we had Lorelei’s dessert: coconut sticky rice with fresh mango (my favorite!!). We then finished a bottle of white wine. When Lorelei and Lydon left it was nearly 9:30pm. It was a night filled with great conversation, laughs, and community. While I cleaned up Josh tried again at the fire. It burned for a little while! We then showered and got ready for bed. We fell asleep to Gladiator

March 29th

We slept in rather late again! No surprise there. We watched the 1pm online CP service while we drank coffee and ate breakfast tacos, the rest of the quinoa salad and apple slices. We then worked on stuff individually: Josh researched for a new camera (which I predict was brought on by looking at Lydon and Lorelei’s Sony camera last night) and I worked on wedding stuff! I wrote an email to our potential wedding photographers, looked up cabins to stay at in NC, and looked up potential locations for our ceremony as well. Before we knew it, it was supper time! We made pasta and sautéed carrots and zucchini. We had the final 4 Oreos and headed upstairs to watch Disturbia and snack on the, what we like to call, “bird food”. We were both pretty wired for some reason and struggled to fall asleep. We watched a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it and still couldn’t fall asleep (nothing against Arnold). Josh read a chapter and fell asleep eventually but I had rolled over and stayed awake. Eventually I fell asleep too though.

March 30th 

I didn’t sleep very well at all last night. I kept waking up because I was so afraid I’d miss the Zoom meeting with my leader teacher and the kids! (I was an assistant teacher at the time). The meeting started at 10am and it was SO good to see all of their little faces!! Afterward Josh and I headed to the closest market to grab eggs, ramen, water, and fresh bread. We came back and made coffee and egg sandwiches. Josh told me about the cameras he’s interested in and we watched a super interesting video about it! We then broke off into our individual things: I resumed the wedding photographer search and made a chart (of course I did). Josh researched cameras some more and read Star Wars. At 1pm we had a phone call with Jeremy, a potential photographer. After that ended we noticed it had stopped raining and the sun came out so we spent some time outside. We came back in to eat ramen for lunch and resumed our activities. We took a break to admire and soak up the view we’ve been blessed with. Josh took some beautiful pictures. The last thing on my agenda was to re-register Sandy as an ESA. Around 5:30pm I headed down to the closest market to grab some produce, ramen, and eggs. I came back and Josh and I read for a while and then sweet guy made a super good spicy dish: sautéed red peppers in pasta with a spicy sauce. We showered, made popcorn, and watched a movie in the background while we both read. I finished Where the Forest Meets the Stars close to 1am. Soon after we both fell asleep!

March 31st

Slept in super late today, close to 11am! We continued to lay in bed, catching up on stuff on our phones for over two hours then finally got our booties moving! While we drank coffee and got ready to make brunch, Lydon told us that he and Lorelei got “the” call: they have a flight out tomorrow! We are super excited and happy for them. I know Lorelei is eager to get home to her kids. Josh and I made our food: breakfast burritos with mango. We then left to go to the ATM and market. There were way more guards today and they were more strict on where you could go. It was a little intense. I went to the ATM to get more soles and Josh headed to the market. That’s when we got separated for a little while. The guards wouldn’t let me go from the ATM to the market so I had to go to a different one. I bought 4 apples and 4 eggs. I then headed back to the small market closest to our apartment, all the while keeping an eye out for Josh. At the little market I got water, wine, and fresh bread. Josh and I saw each other there and we talked about what happened when we got temporarily separated. We headed back to our apartment and that’s when we got our emails: we both have a guaranteed seat on a repatriation flight to Miami tomorrow!!! It was a lot of telling people and correspondence and food and water preparation before the 6pm curfew. At 5pm we headed over to have dinner with Lorelei and Lydon. They made us spaghetti with great cocktails. We sat in their kitchen and then the sunroom and soaked up the view one last time. We came back to our place a little after 7:30pm and started packing up! We then showered, looked at flights from Miami to Nashville, hotels in Miami, and watched TV until we fell asleep! God is good!!! 

Beautiful Cusco. Your city is in our hearts and prayers!

April 1st

Neither of us really slept at all. Our alarm went off at 6am- way earlier than we’ve been getting up but we got up like we had never even gone to bed. We got our things together, made coffee and breakfast, and were out the door by 7am. We met up with Lydon and Lorelei and walked to the destination point for the bus, taking pictures along the way. We gave our names to the lady at the checkpoint and she crossed off our names on a list that she had and we boarded the bus. It still feels pretty surreal that we’re leaving today. This may not be what we planned or how we planned it but it looks like we’ll be home by April 2nd after all. Thank you God!! Once we got to the airport we waited in line to get through the first check. While we waited in line we completed our promissory note: a document that binds us to paying the fare of our repatriation flight back to the US. No telling how much that will be but we have to trust that God will provide (*those flights ended up being $1400 each but God has certainly provided!). Once we returned our signed documents and showed our passports we walked through the entry gate where we got our temperature checked and then walked over to the paved lot to put our bags down to be inspected by a drug canine. Everything went fine and we were directed to stand in line until we could get into the airport and begin the security process. Josh checked his bag and we got our tickets. Unfortunately, because we didn’t express that we were a couple, our assigned seats weren’t next to one another. Once we got through security and arrived at the gate it was 10:30am and we couldn’t board until 11:45am. The plane was scheduled to depart at 12:30pm. We sat and waited and kept a lookout for Lydon and Lorelei. They finally showed up around 11:45am, right when it was time to board. I was in the 4th boarding group and the others were in the 5th. Once it looked like everyone was on board the back of the plane was actually pretty empty. I had an entire row to myself. So Josh came back and sat with me! The flight to Lima went well. We were on the ground for what felt like a long time while they refueled the plane and some people in Lima boarded. The remainder of the flight to Miami was also pretty smooth. Some of the trip had a lot of turbulence which hurt my stomach but otherwise it went by pretty quickly. Our snacks held us over. I watched Little Women and read. Josh read quite a bit too. We watched The Lighthouse the last part of the trip. Before we knew it, it was wheels down in Miami! The plane applauded which made me smile. And after checking my email, I got some super great news: my wedding dress arrived yesterday!! So I’ll have that and sweet Sandy waiting for me at the house. After we got off the plane we had to go through customs. My receipt ended up having an X on it so I had to go in a different line from Josh which took way longer. The security guy just asked me a few questions, typed some things in a computer and sent me on my way! I met Josh at baggage claim and we headed out to the ride share pick up area. While we waited for our car Josh searched for food to order on UberEats. He ended up ordering 20 wings haha. We got to our hotel, the Hyatt, and checked in. Our TV wasn’t working but we were more focused on food. The wings arrived but I still wanted pizza so I had about 6 wings and then ordered a small pepperoni pizza from Papa John’s. When I went down to get the pizza I told the hotel clerk our TV wasn’t working. He told me to try unplugging and replugging and if that doesn’t work he’d give us another room, which is exactly what happened. We then moved from room 306 to room 311. We nearly finished off the wings and the entire pizza. We showered, watched a little bit of TV, and then fell asleep. Homebound tomorrow!!

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