You were pretty awesome, I liked you.
The funny thing about my month of August is that the absolute best thing that happened only just made it into this list… because it happened on the 30th of August. My little niece was born! Olivia June Sikstrom-Walker came into the world on that fateful day and within hours I already felt that something in the world had shifted, as if her arrival had brought so much hope and warmth into an increasingly bleak world. I won’t meet her until Christmas, but I already love her with all my heart and I just hope I’ll be the best possible aunt she could possibly have. I’ve been looking at photos every single day and wondering what she’ll be like, what her voice will sound like, what her favourite toys will be and what fun things we’ll get up to together… Though my brother and his lovely wife live in Washington DC, I’m hoping to visit as much as possible and be present in her life despite the distance. I’m an auntie and I couldn’t be happier about it!
She was meant to be born on August 22nd, meaning that for about 8 days I would jump out of my skin every time my phone would beep, thinking it would be news of her arrival!
And just because I can’t resist, here’s a picture of her widdle face. Look at that little beauty.
The other thing which rocked my world this month (and yes, I use that expression with a completely straight face) was my friends’ visit! My friend Elise, whom I’ve known since I was 13 years old, and her boyfriend Jérémy came to Peru for two weeks in early to mid-August, and we kicked off their visit with a weekend in Cusco. I took wayyy too many photos which will be made into a mini Cusco “guide”, so keep your eyes peeled for that. We rented an Airbnb near the center of the city, and walked our little feet off! I took them to one of my favourite restaurants overlooking the city, and we generally took in the magical feel of the city, despite the crowds of tourists which also had the same idea! We got to know the winding streets of the San Blas neighborhood, caught up over food, and they slowly but surely got used to the altitude difference. It was a whirlwing weekend, I flew over to Cusco on the Saturday morning and flew back on the Sunday night, leaving them to head off into the Sacred Valley for the next couple of days while I went back to Arequipa for work. But the following weekend, it was my turn to host them here in the White City! Over the weekend we wandered the white sunny streets, had rooftop drinks, visited the Santa Catalina convent and watched the first half of the 9-hour dance parade in honour of Arequipa’s Day. (That was a LOT of shimmying and colourful costumes and glitter tossed in our faces, and I loved it). Again, I can’t resist posting a photo below. You might be able to tell but beneath the sunglasses I looked like I was about to burst with joy at having some of my “homies” with me, as well as Lucio by my side. My two worlds haven’t collided that often, but when they do it’s pretty fabulous. Thank you Elise and Jérémy for coming, miss you already!
(Can you spot the Misti volcano peeking through in the background?)
(Oh, the trusted selfie stick. One of the funnest inventions of the century.)
As you might be able to tell from the photo, after coming back to Cusco I decided to get my hair chopped shorter! I go through repeated phases of wanting long hair, then deciding it doesn’t suit me and chopping half of it off, and feeling like a new woman again. Oh well. At least on that hot weekend in Arequipa I felt so much fresher with a long bob!
Some of the things I’ve been loving this month…
…unless you live in a deep, dark hole, you must have heard of the series Stranger Things. Oh. My. Goodness. I gave in to the hype and rumours of its greatness, and started the first episode one lazy mid-August afternoon after work. To my surprise I was hooked instantly, and watched the whole first season (only 8 episodes though! Such torture) in 3 days. I cannot recommend it enough, though some people are turned off by its 80s vibe and retro look, or its “horror” title (trust me, if I can watch it easily so can you!), I would easily name it one of the best things I’ve watched this year (and I’m pretty picky with series). Watch it this instant!
The song which has had me bopping around at my desk for the past couple of weeks is “Anywhere”, by one of my favourite artists, Passenger. A beautiful feel-good love song with an incredibly catchy guitar riff, it makes me feel so fuzzy inside and I hope you like it too!
Branching out a little, this month I thought I’d also one of my favourite Peruvian tunes. You can hear the traditional “zampoña” instrument in the background, and it’s so typically Peruvian in so many ways. Have a listen here! In the video they’re dancing “saya”, my absolute favourite Peruvian dance. Those costumes!!! (Fun fact: I knew I was in love when I saw Lucio dancing saya. All the feelings.) Travel to my new home with me for just under 4 minutes!
September is going to be a quiet month: many weekly trips to the gym, some exciting work developments and dinners with friends, but this next month I’ll mainly be putting money aside for when my next set of visitors come, and focusing on my fitness, clean eating and uploading more regularly on the blog. But hopefully there should still be some exciting stuff to tell you about come the end of the month!
Next up: a short and sweet Cusco guide…