Thursday, June 11, 2015

Travelogue: Author Rachael Kosinskis's Adventure in Peru, Giveaway

Welcome to the Summer Travelogue series! Fun and fresh author Rachael Kosinski joins us today to take us on her adventure to Peru. Rachael has generously brought along an eBook of her historical fictional book, The Christmas Lights, as a prize for the lucky commenter. Learn more about this entertaining story after her piece on Peru. Winner will be chosen after 9 pm on Sunday.

Adventure in Peru by Rachael Kosinski

In 2013, I was a high school senior: eighteen years old with five years of Spanish under my belt and a travel blessing from my parents (not to mention their money to go to Peru as a graduation present, though I lost any financial help I might get in buying a car). For a girl who’d never gone anywhere far without her family, South America was a pretty crazy move. My Spanish teacher came up with the idea, then had to back out for personals reasons and everyone at my school dropped out at the last minute. I would be traveling to another continent with a local Spanish teacher I’d never met, her sister, and three other kids from a school I’d never been to. But we’d already started payments on the trip, I did my walk across the auditorium stage to accept my diploma, and quite literally the day after graduation I was on a ten-hour plane ride out of Atlanta, Georgia.
            Out of the three other students, one was blind and the other two were a year younger than me. The only girl (we’ll call her K) was about as tall as an upright cashew and played the sax. We sat together on the plane in order to bond over Bruno Mars, band, and scary movies, learning we’d be roommates for the entire nine-day trip. Señora M’s sister was a chatty biology professor who still talks to me on Facebook. Now, remember I was already feeling kind of high and mighty because I had seniority above the teenagers. Add on top of that the fact that I thought my Spanish was so good that we’d easily blend in with the locals and take Peru by storm.
Wearing my Spanish Club tee shirt and standing in front of Machu Picchu

            I still laugh. A bag of dried coca leaves waited in the Lima airport—the leaves they use to make cocaine. It was for headaches and we giggled as we selected one to chew on (they were bitter and I politely looked for a place to spit mine out). Exchanging our dollars for nuevo soles, we quickly learned that we were vastly advantageous in the currency switch, so much so that it was insane. Groups from Pittsburgh and San Francisco joined us as we tracked down Nilton, our travel guide. He was also about the size of a peanut, with a big smile. K and I thought he was in his twenties and happily messed with him, making newspaper hats during his nightly rallying speeches and instigating pebble wars at Saksaywaman, a grassy Incan ruin on the outskirts of Cusco. He was thirty-six. When he took us to a local open mall to get food, urging us to order in Spanish, I faced crippling stage fright. What, talk to a local? They’d think I was braindead! I was willing to starve if it meant not testing the language waters, but I did it. The question constantly in the air was ¿Cuánto cuesta? How much does this cost? We returned with rainbow ponchos and carved gourds, spending our nights playing mysterious card games in the hostel lobbies.
Sitting at the very top of Machu Picchu and contemplating the universe (LOL) 
            Buses that sped around mountain corners and swung past ravines allowed us to explore around Machu Picchu and tiny villages so remote we had to pay for toilet paper. Kindly dogs abounded and Señora M had to nearly use force so we wouldn’t pet them. We stayed in Aguas Calientes where I peeked out of my roomy, rainbow-tiled shower to look up at an Andes mountain. Sleep deprivation, a mountain chill and some bad empanadas had K and me dozing off on the buses and watching The Big Bang Theory with subtitles in our hostel rooms, while we each waited for the other to vacate the bathroom.

Cuzco, where my roomate K and I sat in our hostel closet because it was so big, shivered because it was South. America's autumn/winter, and watched White Collar and Big Bang Theory with subtitles.
            In the end, I would never trade that trip for a car. K is still one of my best friends, and I talk with some of the Pittsburgh kids on Facebook. We spoke Spanish so much that, upon our return, it was hard to stop. K and I lay on the airport floor and sang Pitch Perfect at nine p.m. as we waited in line for our home flight, buying chocolate-covered coffee beans to stay awake. We still bring it up at least once every two months. We make faux plans about how we’ll return and find our tour guide again—but the truth? I wouldn’t mind making it a reality.  
# # # #
The Christmas Lights by Rachael Kosinski
Historical Romance
Back of the Book:
“Where do Christmas lights come from?” 
Those tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree, 
Or outside a house to shine in the night. 
Does anyone really know where they originate? 
What if someone told you 
They weren’t intended for Christmas at all, 
But really for a miracle? 
That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home? 
In that case, you must have some questions. 
What boy? What love? 
Have a seat. Allow me to tell you a story.

The stranger adjusted the paper bags in his arms and stepped closer. “Are you blind?” His voice came softer, though even more interested. I took a step back and felt myself flush. Around here, having poor vision was tantamount to having the plague. I needed to work on concealing my handicap.

“How can you tell?”

“Your eyes are focused, but they’re focused on the bricks behind my left ear. You’re either close to passing out, or you can’t see very well.”

“I think I’m a bit of both, sir.”

Something in his tone informed me he was no robber. Neither would I be. Maybe, perhaps, he could help me. Brown paper crinkled as the man leaned against the wall with a chuckle. “An American blind boy, sleeping on my porch.”

“This is an alley. I think.” I glanced at the muddy light on both sides of me. Surely I hadn’t been sleeping on some open, dimly lit street. I could get arrested for loitering.

“My porch is in an alley. Does this not happen in America?”

“I’m from Pennsylvania. Have you heard of Pennsylvania?” I coughed, covering my mouth in my sleeve. “My town doesn’t have alleys. We’re small.”

“Fantastic.” The man sounded like he’d never heard anything more fascinating. “Would you like some dinner, small-town American blind boy?”

“My name’s Louis.”

“Louis!” The man whistled. “By my buttons, that’s French. I’d like to hear your story, Louis. And paint those focused eyes of yours, if I may.”

“Paint them?”

“Michelangelo was my great-uncle, I like to say. You know Michelangelo, yes?”

I shook my head. The man gasped like he was dying. “Small-town, American ignorant boy!” He took my arm and began to tow me inside a door to my right that was the exact same shade as the ashy bricks of the wall.

# # # #
About Rachael:

Author Rachael Kosinski
Rachael Kosinski decided at a very young age that, if she never became a writer, she would simply die. At the age of twenty, she now possesses a quirky knowledge of world mythology, an addiction to coffee, and a penchant for making over-expressive faces at her laptop. On any given day she can sit atop Westminster palace alongside a thief as he listens to a crown princess spin fairy tales, or scour an Egyptian temple for hidden chambers laid by Ancient Greeks, or wander Europe with a boy as he tries to gather enough wealth to marry his betrothed. She is attending college and can be found online at:

Rachael's Blog, The Girl Who Draws with Words 

Official Tumblr of Rachael Kosinski

# # # #
Be sure to say hi to Rachael, share your story about Peru or learning Spanish, or tell us about your summer plans in a comment below. Commenting will enter you in the drawing for her eBook, The Christmas Lights.

Add your email addy in the box in the right sidebar to be notified of new blog posts on the J.Q. Rose blog. You don't want to miss the Travelogue series this summer! No Spamming, I promise. Cross my heart. Thank you.


J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Rachael, Thanks for sharing your trip to Peru with us. I love mountain scapes. Looking forward to a fun visit with you.

Susan Bernhardt said...

Rachael, what an exciting trip/experience in Peru. My husband would love to go there. We have been taking community ed. Spanish classes. What a way to get immersed in the culture.

Great photos.

J.Q. Rose said...

Susan, Taking Spanish classes is a great idea. Yes, do go to a country where you can actually practice the language. I bet you'll learn a lot more of the language and more quickly while being there. I tried using my high school Spanish 25 years later when we went to Coast Rica. I'd forgotten most of it, but re-learned it quickly to help us get around. I was surprised that the older folks spoke English better than the younger ones.

Anonymous said...

What an exciting trip, Rachael. I loved your description of it from start to finish. The friends you made sound wonderful. My daughter made a similar trip to Ecuador when she finished school. She, too, made many lasting friendships, and her Spanish is now magnifico. My daughter did get to go back. I hope you do, too! Thanks for sharing.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Helena, Thanks for stopping by. What a wonderful experience for your daughter and to think you get to live it through her eyes.

Rachael Kosinski said...

Sara Bernhardt, thank you! Any Spanish whatsoever is appreciated. Usually we would speak Spanish and the locals would sort of insist on speaking to us in English, probably to be polite, but Nilton (our tour guide) always beamed when we tried our best at Spanish.

Helena, also thank you! It was very fun to write, let me tell you. Almost as fun as actually doing it! I can't imagine how exciting it would be to return; there's something about being thrown into a completely different culture that allows you to make fast, true friends in a snap. :)

Rachael Kosinski said...

Oh my goodness, I meant Susan Bernhardt, Susan! I don't know why I typed Sara. Are my contacts in? Apologies.

J.Q. Rose said...

Rachael, you were probably thinking of the early actress, Sarah Bernhardt. LOL. Susan, do you get mixed up with her alot??

J.Q. Rose said...

Congratulations to Helena Fairfax, winner for the drawing for Rachael's eBook, The Christmas Lights.

Recipes 'n Reads: Cookbooks with Old Recipes to Bring Back the Past, Tips on Writing Your Life Story #recipesandreads,#booksale, #RecipesnReads

  Hello and Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!  This is my "home" on the web--J.Q. Rose Recipes 'n Reads Series Today marks...

Popular Posts from Last Year