Cathedrals of León

León is the old capital of Nicaragua and is known for being a liberal city full of intellectuals and poets.  It also has several really awesome churches.

The most famous cathedral is this one, the biggest church in Central America.  It was built in the 1700s and although the outside is a bit worn out, the inside is really well-maintained and gorgeous.

The altar
Great paintings

We saw two other really old churches in León.

Other highlights of León included some good street food, fun parties, and volcano boarding (post on that coming tomorrow)!  We also ran into an old friend who worked with us at Loki Hostel in Cuzco.  What a small world!

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We Hate Loki

Before reading this, read yesterday’s post, because the two together are meant to appropriately demonstrate our love-hate relationship with Loki Hostel.  It was a blast running the bar.  The experience we gained because of it will definitely help us if we ever want bartending jobs in the future.  But another thing that we really like is SLEEP!  The noise around that place never stops.  It’s fine if you are working, but when you’re trying to sleep at 2am and the whole building is still shaking from the loudest dubstep you’ve ever heard, you start to go crazy.  Not to mention once the bar closes everyone runs around drunk and screaming, messed up on Blood Bombs and ready to go out to the clubs.  Headphones or earplugs are definitely necessary for sleeping in the dormitories.  Most who stay and work at Loki are just all about the partying, every. single. night.  Many people love it, and end up staying and working here weeks or months longer than intended, drinking on the cheap, day and night.  It’s like a vortex that sucks you in.  Call us old, but we just don’t feel the need to stay out until the sun rises!  We did it one time to say we had, but most nights we were the first in bed, around 2:30am.  Ha.

Also, everyone who works at Loki is always just a little bit sick.  That’s because the staff room is usually in a general state of disarray and filth, and you don’t tend to take care of yourself very well living this lifestyle.  As of now, everyone has this horrible cough that gets worse and worse.  And there is no chance of getting better when you sleep no more than 10 feet away from the next sick person.  We’re hoping that we will be magically cured soon now that we are far away from Loki!

Loki is also not what we would consider an “authentic” South American experience.  It is made up almost completely of Europeans, Australians, North Americans, and other English speakers.  We think our Spanish actually suffered due to lack of use while here.  Some of the foreign staff members who’ve been here for over one year don’t even speak Spanish because they never leave Loki so they don’t have to learn!  The Loki vortex…it doesn’t really encourage you to get out there and immerse yourself in the wonderful culture of Cuzco.  It just tells you that it’s about time for another Blood Bomb.

There is one last thing that I have to complain about.  If you stay in a hostel, it is inappropriate to have floor-shaking sex in a dorm room.  I can’t tell you how many times I was woken by strange sounds from one of the beds next to me.  Like we said, it really is kind of like a freshman dormitory, full of drunk and horny travelers.

All in all, we did have a good time a Loki.  But we were SO EXCITED to get as far away from that place as possible.  Maybe we are too old, or maybe we are just a little more mature than you should be to be a proper Loki employee.  I guess Loki did make us realize how much we have grown up since college.  If you want to spend some time in Cuzco, live for free and have fun, I’d say to do it.  Just don’t expect anything about it to be relaxing.

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We Love Loki

’80s Night at the Loki bar

“LOKI LOKI LOKI!” someone shouts as we all raise our glasses.

“Oi oi oi!” we respond in Aussie fashion, slam our glasses down on the bar, and proceed to chug our Blood Bombs.  A Blood Bomb consists of a shot of mostly vodka with a few drops of grenadine dropped into a half-glass of Red Bull.  Totally beneficial for your heart and brain; it’s the signature drink of Loki Hostel.

We first heard of Loki from a Couchsurfing host in Ecuador who recommended we stay at the Máncora location.  We ended up staying elsewhere, but we remembered him raving about Loki as an awesomely fun party hostel with opportunities to work and stay for free.  We wanted to try a different volunteer (not WWOOFing) opportunity, so we decided to give Loki Cuzco a try.  As soon as we walked into the bar and offered our help to the manager, we were given bartending jobs and asked to start the next night!

The weekly activities board.

Loki Cuzco is the original of the four Loki Hostels (the others are located in Máncora, Lima, and La Paz, Bolivia) and was opened in 2005 by a group of backpacker friends.  It’s a HUGE hostel (capacity over 200) in a 500-year-old amazing historic building.  The owner and staff are all friendly and bilingual, and the hostel includes free breakfast, a book exchange, a full restaurant and bar, a tour booking office, and daily activities and parties.  It basically has everything you could ever need so that you don’t even have to venture outside if you don’t want to!

Dancing it up on Zach’s birthday night

All of the bartenders are volunteers at Loki.  We worked four shifts a week (either 1-7pm or 7pm-2am) in exchange for a free dormitory bed, one free meal a day, and 40% off on everything at the bar/restaurant.  It was definitely an awesome deal, and we had a lot of fun.  The bar staff during the four weeks we worked at Loki consisted of travelers from Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and a few more of us from the U.S.  We all got along great and every night was a party.  Working behind the bar is not really work; it’s more like serving some drinks while drinking some drinks.  By the end of the night there were always people dancing on the bar, and most of the staff usually went out dancing until the wee hours after our bar closed.  Highlights of our time at Loki included dancing like crazy on the bar at Groove Nightclub, going out for pizza for Zach’s birthday, and all the random hilarious conversations in the staff room.  Being at Loki was kind of like living in a college dorm again, except with the added fun of people from all different countries and none of the hassle of class!

Before you judge us as nonsstop-partying alcoholics, please wait for tomorrow’s other-side-of-the-coin post:  WE HATE LOKI

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1/3 Highlights

As of January 27, we’ve been in South America for three months!  That’s about 1/3 of the total time we’ll be down here (assuming money lasts) so it’s quite a milestone.  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been on the road forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we landed in Medellin.

To celebrate our 1/3-iversary, let’s list some fun stats!

Days in South America:  95

Dollars Spent (not including flight): $3005

Countries Visited: 3

Books Read: 8 (Carrie), 7 (Zach)

Number of Laundromat Visits (not including hand-washing): 3

Bacterial Infections: 1 each

Things We’ve Lost
iPhone (Carrie)…The Infamous Bird Poop Incident
Water bottle (Zach)…just left it at a Couchsurfer’s house
Glasses (Carrie)…stupid lake
Sunglasses (Zach)…stupid ocean
2 rings (Carrie)…two separate places
1 shirt (Carrie)…I think this girl on our first WWOOF farm thought it was hers because she always wore orange!
Dr. Bronners soap (Zach)…”It’ll turn up!” he says
Umbrella…who knows???

And now, since it is Awards Season, we hereby present to you….

The 1/3-iversary Superlatives…a.k.a. the Best Of “So Far”

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee

Most Missed Food: Graeter’s ice cream and peanut butter (Carrie), Mexican food and cheddar cheese (Zach)

Most Missed Event: holidays at home

Most Missed Activities:  watching Oscar films (Carrie), cooking/baking, snowboarding

Most Annoying Phenomenon: loud music and movies on buses

Favorite Activity: The Inca Trail

Nicest People: Colombians

Favorite City: Cuzco

Most Times We Said “What a Crazy Place!”: Huacachina

Best Beach: Canoa

Best Shopping: Otavalo

Best Person We’ve Met: Oso the dog

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Authentic Cultural Experience/Cutest Kids and Puppies: WWOOFing at Finca Campo Bello

Biggest Party/Least Authentic Cultural Experience: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador

Goals for the Next 2/3rds of the Journey

1. Save money and get ahead on our budget in Bolivia!

2. Find a WWOOF experience where we actually get to farm!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

I know, I know, we really need to stop losing things and wash our clothes more!  Do you like this silly little superlative round-up?  Should we do one again after 2/3rds?

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Cuzco Free Walking Tour – Peru’s Inca City

Cuzco free walking tour

Loki Hostel a daily Cuzco free walking tour.  The tour takes you to some of the famous sites around the city, as well as a couple cool restaurants that the hostel is promoting.  The first stop was a free vegetarian restaurant owned by an Indian family.  They ask for a donation that goes to feeding poor children in nearby small villages.  We sampled the food and they told us about how to volunteer to help feed the kids.  We are trying to go do it before we leave Cuzco.  Next we walked to the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s famous square.  From here you can access many famous churches and restaurants.  The flag of Cuzco is actually rainbow stripes, causing many people to mistake it for the gay pride flag!

Cuzco free walking tour

After the plaza, we walked to the Museo do Cacao where they let us sample cacao-leaf tea and showed us where chocolate comes from.  We also sampled the “aji” (spicy) chocolate and the dark, which were both amazing.

Cuzco free walking tour

Next, we walked down an old alley; on the right was a wall built by the Incas.  The Spanish had knocked down the top of their building, but the bottom 10 feet or so remained.  The blocks were huge, some a couple feet wide, and fit together perfectly (you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between them).  The best part was that every rock was a different size and shape, the coolest one having 12 sides.

Cuzco free walking tour

Another cool part of the tour was playing with an alpaca and a vicuña!  The vicuña thought our blonde hair looked similar to the grass they eat in the wild.  Thus we kind of had to watch out to not get bitten on the noggin!

Cuzco free walking tour
Cuzco free walking tour

We spent the end of our Cuzco free walking tour at the food market, satisfying our appetites with seafood soup and beer smoothies!!!  All in all, the Loki free walking tour was a great time!

Enjoy this post about Cuzco free walking tour ? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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