Mira and I at Iguazu Falls, Argentina
My best friend came to Paraguay and visited me for two weeks!
Mira is the first person to come visit me during my service in the Peace Corps. I feel so incredibly grateful that my best friend came all the way from the United States to visit me and learn about Paraguay. We had the most incredible time together. We traveled all around the country, and then went to Argentina for a few days to visit Iguazu Falls.
I consider myself so blessed to have such an amazing friend as Mira. Here’s to my best sisterfriend, forever <3
Filed under: Argentina
A mentor of mine once told me that when he sat down at his journal after a long day of traveling, he wrote little snippets of events; not fully formed sentences, but things to jog his memory, or those defining moments of clarity and things he learned in the day.
In a similar fashion, I’d like to share some tidbits about the last two incredible days I’ve had in Argentina. In a very last-minute spontaneously planned trip, one of my best friends Veronica and I decided to go to Iguazu Falls, one of the most gorgeous natural wonders of the world. I’ve actually been to Iguazu Falls two years ago (pictures and story here), but Veronica had never been and I decided that a once-in-a-lifetime experience surely could be repeated twice. As anticipated, it was breath-taking, beautiful, and a much-needed vacation. I forgot how much I love traveling with every fiber of my being. It was a beautiful two days where we did nothing but live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest. Here’s our two days, in little snippets:
Eating the most sumptuous, mouth-watering ‘bife de chorizo’ cut of steak (Argentina’s finest) while luxuriously reading ‘A Suitable Boy’ (my newest read)… Window-shopping and treating ourselves to little gifts (while stretching our purse strings), like a hair pin, yerba maté earrings, and a pair of the most unique and equally beautiful sandals… drinking a little too much of the most delicious Syrah I’ve ever tasted… giggling over ‘Friends’ episodes in our hostel, while chatting to two French men and one German man about the Peace Corps… taking advantage of our hostel’s breakfast by slipping a few hard boiled eggs and bread into our pockets for lunch at the Falls, combined with wine, our leftover steak, and a brownie each (AMAZING!)… walking, walking all day to avoid the tourist lines, and catching glimpses of monkeys along the way…. staring in awe at ‘The Devil’s Throat’ (the most incredible part of the Falls) for what seemed like eternity… chatting with a wonderful Brazilian family and learning some words in Portuguese (bom dia!)… trekking through nature trails and waterfalls in every direction, while we talked about our pasts and futures… realizing that our ‘secret language of English’ that we use so readily in Paraguay (since barely anyone speaks English) does NOT apply in Argentina… getting a little embarrassed over what strangers heard us say before realizing they understood us- this just made us laugh… speaking in Guaraní to the indigenous craftsmen in the park, which made them blush and smile… getting matching necklaces as a token of remembrance from Iguazu… warming up from the cold with mugs of hot chocolate and shrimp noodles at a uniquely decorated restaurant… a wonderfully hot shower followed by pushing our two bunk beds together to make a nest on top.
These memories last a lifetime.
I am slowly but surely sifting through my South America photos to showcase on my website, and I am proud to say that finally pictures from Buenos Aires are up! You can check them out here!
While I’m at it, I thought now would be as good of a time as ever to give a few travel tips on Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires– cool places to check out, things to do and see, etc. Feel free to check them out below.
I know that this post is nearly a month late, and I’m sorry. I felt that I couldn’t give a post worthy of Iguazu Falls without showing pictures- and I just didn’t have the time to upload all of them until now!
So let’s start from the beginning. Iguazu Falls (or Foz de Iguasu, in Spanish). Iguazu Falls lies on the tri-border of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. I went there with my friend and fellow intern from Fundación Paraguaya, Polina. Her mother, Natalia, came with us. They are both incredibly amazing people and I’m really lucky to have had such an amazing experience with them.
Iguazu Falls was my first experience in Brazil!!!! Though I was only there for one day, I still got my passport stamped, and I got change in Reals (the Brazilian currency)- that’s proof enough for me that I was there!
There are two sides to Iguazu Falls- The Brazil side, and the Argentina side. Many people say that with the Brazil side there is a better view, and that with the Argentina side there are ‘more things to do.’ Most prefer Brazil. Before going, I didn’t really understand what that meant, or what ‘more things to do’ meant for Argentina. I almost didn’t end up going to the Argentinian side because after the first day in Brazil, I felt that I had seen enough.
I am SO glad that I chose to go to the Argentina side, because I ended up liking it more. While Brazil has a really beautiful panoramic view of the falls, there ARE more ‘things to do’ in Argentina- and by that I mean, ‘more waterfalls to see.’ First off, the view from the top of these waterfalls that you get in Argentina is absolutely breathtaking. I felt that I was literally at the end of the world. It is an experience I will never forget. Second, there are so many different waterfalls to see in Argentina, in so many varying ways. My other favorite experience was standing right in front of a massive waterfall with Polina, laughing hysterically with sheer joy at being alive- another moment I will never forget.
The best part about Iguazu Falls is that I got to experience every aspect of a waterfall that I had never thought imaginable- I saw the falls in a Panoramic view– hanging off the top of a massive waterfall, staring down below– standing two feet away from a waterfall 1,000 times the size of me, watching it cascading down… it was truly an unbelievable experience– but I won’t say anymore. You can see it for yourself HERE!
One enticing picture:
I also thought I would include some tips on how to navigate yourself around Iguazu Falls (i.e. not paying a visa to get into Brazil, etc.). Check them out below if you plan on going sometime soon.
Hope you all enjoy and much love friends!
Filed under: Argentina
Let’s pretend I’m still in Argentina, for the sake of transporting everyone back in time because I’ve been too busy to actually update.
I have spent 10 wonderful, beautiful days in Buenos Aires. While I wish I could’ve fully enjoyed it to the best that I could, I unfortunately didn’t. Most of my was spent being consumed with my Peace Corps interview, my huge research project, and a mad search for apartments in New York.
Fortunately, staying with a lovely Argentinian family made this ordeal much easier. I was able to stay with the lovely Del Cioppo family in the suburbs, friends of my Mom’s friends in Florida… I have the easy life, friends. Anyway so I got to hang out with this really cool family for a week and learn a bit about the ‘Argentinian life.’ Which is basically hanging out and drinking a lot of wine, and eating freaking amazing empanadas. I will not complain.
One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting random people on the street. Which is exactly what happened to me when I went to the Sunday market in San Telmo. I had just arrived and was wandering around, trying to find a place that would exchange my American dollars to pesos, and I ran into another fellow American, who was nice enough to change my money for me. We randomly ended up spending the ENTIRE day together, which included wandering up and down the market for 2 hours, catching a bus to El Palermo (this beautiful but ritzy area of Buenos Aires), finding this AMAZING store called Kali Ma and buying a whole bunch of gorgeous Indian pantaloons and dresses, and then ending it all at a fancy restaurant, where I promptly got drunk on amazing red wine while dining on amazing beef, and spilled pretty much 75% of my secrets. Then I had to be guided back to the train station. Ohhh life.
As I said, while I loved Buenos Aires, I feel that I didn’t get to experience any flavor or culture, because I couldn’t fully appreciate it while I was there. My mind was completely consumed by other things. Instead of marveling at the culture, the shops, the food, the art- I was preoccupied. Although that is sad, I’m so glad that I got a little ‘taste’ of what Argentina is like. I know that I will come back here in the future someday, for longer.
Filed under: Argentina
Buenos Aires. Is amazing.
As I have so much work to do right now, I haven’t had the time to explore the city as much as I’ve wished, or the time to give a blog post worthy of how amazing this place is. But just take my word for it. Come here. I’ve spent the past 5 days wandering around different areas of the city- Avenida Florida (the main city street for shopping), the microcentro (downtown Buenos Aires), Recoleta (a gorgeous area that houses all kinds of great restaurants, the famous ice cream shop ‘Freddo,’ the Art Museum which is quite cool, and the Cemetary that holds all of the most important people of Buenos Aires, which is definitely a must-see if you come here), and Puerto Madero (the area by the sea where there are all kinds of amazing restaurants- I dined on as much raw oysters and raw salmon as my stomach could handle at an elegant restaurant for 40 dollars).
I love Buenos Aires because of the architecture, and because it is so romantic. It feels like Europe to me, except 10 times better. I am not ashamed to say that I’ve gone on a bit of a shopping spree while here- I bought two winter coats for New York next semester, the most gorgeous dress I’ve ever seen in my life, a pair of strappy European-esque sandals, and a leather messenger bag- and the beauty of all of this was how CHEAP it was. If I had bought these in Europe, or even the United States, each item would’ve probably been at least over $150 dollars- whereas in Buenos Aires, I got them for $20. I feel almost as if it’s an investment to buy as many nice clothes down here as I can because it is so cheap. Staring at myself in the mirror today with the gorgeous dress I bought, complete with the strappy sandals, made me feel as if I was out of a Sex and the City movie. To me, this defines Buenos Aires- it is so chic, so beautiful, so modern and interesting– and because all everyone cares about is France and London, I get to experience all of the stunning beauty myself, at 3/4ths of the price. Everything in this city appeals to every sense, it’s almost a sin. The weather is gorgeous, warm outside but with a nice breeze- I am constantly surrounded by salads, salads galore! Which makes me incredibly happy- and raw salmon or even beef if I feel like indulging, which are at such low prices- and then of course, the dulce de leche and the lemon merengue pie here is unreal. The food, the clothes, the views, the weather, the nightlife- I love EVERYTHING about this place.
Plus it’s a 50 minute ferry boat ride to Uruguay.
Am I moving to Buenos Aires permanently some day? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
As I said before, I am swamped with work. It is ‘portfolio time’ for my school, which essentially means correcting every single paper I’ve written this semester, WRITING a huge research paper, writing an integrative essay about my semester, and putting it all together in a huge ‘portfolio’ to hand into my school- it’s nervewracking. It’s so time-consuming that I haven’t been able to even find time to write on this blog. Today I decided to stay in and work all day- 15 pages later, with 7 episodes of Mad Men watched (I like to work 15 minutes, and watch something for 15 minutes- this is my method for portfolio writing) and 1 raw salmon salad, 2 empanadas, 1 coke, and 3 different kinds of chocolate/dulce de leche consumed (food is a free-for-all on portfolio time, and it doesn’t matter the time or day), I am proud to say that I have finally transcribed all of my interviews from borrowers, and now I am moving onto interviews with the staff. I WILL have everything transcribed by this Wednesday or else!!
Sorry for my inane rambling. I have had about 5% human interaction today. It is 1 AM. Back to work.
Much love friends,
As you may or may not have been able to tell, I have been neglecting this blog a little bit. Unfortunately, I have so much work to do these days that I don’t even have much time to do the exploring and adventuring that I wish I could.
I feel that traveling has given me so much in the past two years. It has been my nourishment, my well being, and it has taught me so many things about the world and about myself. And one thing it has taught me is to listen to myself and know what my limits are. And I have reached my limit. I just decided to go home two weeks earlier than planned. I’m skipping Ecuador and Peru (including Macchu Picchu) and going home on December 5th.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Most importantly, I miss my family. In the past year and a half, I have been in the United States for about 3 weeks. All three of those weeks has been about unpacking and repacking, rather than spending time with my family. If I go home on December 21st as planned, I will only be home for approximately two weeks, which will again, all be about packing for New York. So I decided if I came home 2 1/2 weeks earlier, I would be able to spend some more time with my brother, sisters, and parents.
Another thing is, I’m quite literally exhausted. 20 countries in 2 years. That’s quite a lot. And on top of that, while I’m traveling, I have a lot to do- a huge research paper, applications to 30 or so internships in New York, plus finding a place to live in Brooklyn– it’s very hard to do this AND travel. I feel as if I can’t fully experience or enjoy the places that I am in, which is unfortunate but true.
Moreover, I don’t feel completely satisfied with my South American adventures. I want to see MORE. I want to spend more time in Uruguay, I want to spend at least 6 weeks fully discovering Argentina, to see the Andes mountains, to explore Bolivia, different parts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, even Brazil- I don’t have that time or luxury to do so right now. I know that in the future, I will come back here. Maybe one day when I’ve saved up a nice sum of money, I will take a year to see all of South America that I want to. I feel that is better than getting merely these amazing glimpses that I don’t have the time to fully embrace and appreciate.
Part of me protests at all of these ideas, because my travels has always been defined as me deciding to do something random and spontaneous, which has always provided fruitful results. Whenever I’ve felt tired or exhausted (as I have really been feeling these past few months), I go to a new country, and instantly I feel energized. URUGUAY! PANAMA! COSTA RICA! Everything is always amazing and new and there always something to do and see. I know that I still have that little bit of reserve in me– I know that I could make it 2 or 3 more weeks to see Peru and Ecuador without collapsing.
But at what cost? I know that I will travel for the rest of my life. I know that next year, there is a very slim chance that I will even be home for Christmas at all. And I feel that I have the rest of my life in front of me to explore and see the world- but I should also appreciate and be thankful of the things that I have in my life right now, before one day all of my siblings are grown and with their own families.
So with all of these things together, I’ve decided that I’m going to go home early, and I am really happy with that decision. I am really happy to be able to fully enjoy all of Christmas with my family, and to relax at home. I’m happy to have some time before I go off to New York. I am 21 years old, and South America isn’t going anywhere.
The itinerary until December 5th is as follows:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Easter Island, Chile
Until then friends,
I am currently in the stages of planning an epic month-long trip throughout South America. This week is Uruguay. On November 14th I start my adventure with 10 days in Argentina (Buenos Aires, TBD), and then continue onto Chile, Peru (Lima, and the 4 day Inca Trail Trek to Macchu Picchu), and Ecuador.
Originally I had plans to go to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, where I was planning on spending a good chunk of my budget. However, I learned that a trip to the Galapagos Islands is just too much money. In order to be able to actually walk on the islands (which is what makes the trip worthwhile), you would need to be on a boat of less than 15 people- which means that it would cost somewhere around $1500 for ONLY a four day trip. On top of that, they charge an extra 50% fee if you’re going alone. On top of THAT, then you need to pay for your plane ticket. With all of the charges, spending about 700 dollars a day is not ANYWHERE NEAR within my budget range. Though sad, I hope that one day when I am no longer a student, I can return to Ecuador and go to the Galapagos Islands.
This frees up some money that I have to play around with. So as of 15 minutes ago, I AM OFFICIALLY GOING TO EASTER ISLAND IN CHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!