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Showing posts from 2010

Riviera Maya

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For Christmas break this year, I spent 5 days in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico with Chris. It was the first time I have been down to see him in Central America since he started working there. I immediately reaped the benefits. The first night there he took me to an awesome local little restaurant and we had chorizo y queso tacos. I wish I could recreate those here!

Originally I thought we were going to stay in Cancun but we decided to stay in Playa del Carmen instead which was such a great choice. After a wild night celebrating my new job contract which involved fire dancers and liters of Long Island iced teas, we were ready to start exploring. Our hostel room had a private balcony overlooking the Gulf which was insanely beautiful. Playa is such a cute little beach town with awesome cafes and shopping (I bought a Panama hat and sarong).

Swimming near the Tulum ruins
Chris took me to Tulum which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!
We were also lucky enough to get in…

Vermont/Voodoo

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I have done quite a bit of traveling in the last month or so. At the beginning of October I had the privilege of going to Vermont for a few days to really experience fall! Wow. What a difference from the two seasons in Florida: wet and dry. It was rainy, but I still got to see the mountains covered in red, orange, and even purple leaves! We had apple cider, ate apple donuts, I bought maple syrup candy, and stayed in a house with a basement and attic. These are all crazy concepts to me. It was really beautiful there.
Last weekend, I went to New Orleans to go to Voodoo Experience for Halloween weekend, headlined by Ozzy Osbourne. This might have been one of the craziest weekends of my life. I got to see so many of my favorite bands. One of the most special parts of the weekend was getting to be part of a small audience for an intimate Janelle Monae interview in one of the side tents. She was so small, and yet had such a huge personality! I was sitting ten feet away from her, and of cour…

One of those days.

It is one of those days when I don't want to be here. I already have my bachelor's degree, and I am so close to having my Master's degree in Social Science Education. I am two weeks away from having my TEFL Certificate as well.
All of this is so that I can find a job overseas, either teaching history in a private school, or teaching English. I don't really care which subject I teach.
The bottom line is this; I am so excited to get out of Tallahassee, out of Florida, and out of the U.S.
I am ready to start my life abroad. I don't mean I am ready to start my real life, because obviously the life I am living right now is real, and I have great friends and an awesome apartment and relatively low stress. I am however, ready for a career, ready to work without worrying about balancing it with classes, ready to start paying off these stupid student loans that have financed my travels, ready to learn a new language, ready to become part of a community.
I am going to an int…

Where to next?

I was in Brooklyn, NYC this past weekend and it got me itching to be abroad again. I know, I just got home from Ecuador a few weeks ago, but hey! It's in my blood!

Ending of Ecuador

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Things I miss about home when I am in South America:

Heavenly Hash Ice Cream
Air Conditioning/Heat
Cheap sushi
Functional Wifi
USPS

Things I will miss about Ecuador when I am home:

Artisan Markets
$1.50 lunches
Salsa clubs that stay open until 8 AM
The children and volunteers that I work with
Empanadas

Volunteers riding the trolley around Quito
It is my last day in Quito and I am feeling overwhelming sadness. Sitting in my bed here, I feel completely alone in a foreign country and yet completely connected with all the amazing people I have met here as well. The volunteers with UBECI are the most interesting and inspiring group of people I have ever met. They all spent their money to come here out of their comfort zone to try and make a difference in a child’s life and I am so glad I got to be a part of this experience with all of them. Leaving this place and these people is extremely hard. The experiences we shared were unforgettable and I truly hope I encounter all of them again.

Getti…

Ecuador

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Ecuador has been such a different abroad experience than the rest of my travels. For starters, I am currently living with a host family in Quito, and I have a work schedule. My host family is really great and they feed me three times a day. More often than not it is a bowl of soup, a piece of meat, and a pile of rice, but I don’t mind that at all.

The neighborhood is slightly terrifying for someone who grew up in the suburbs of Cape Coral, Florida. We are not allowed to walk around after 9 at night, even if I am going to visit friends in the volunteer house three blocks away. We have to take a cab. According to Wikipedia, I am living in the “working class neighborhood.” I can’t even begin to recall the number of men peeing on the sides of streets I have seen, fires burning on street corners, people shouting “GRINGO!” at me as I walk to catch the bus. On the other hand, my house has an amazing hot shower, there are delicious bakeries and fruit stands all over the place, and the lunche…

Cusco Revisited

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My second time in Cusco, and I still did not manage to make it to Machu Picchu. We hiked up a hill with an Incan fortress only to be told that actual entrance was seventy soles (too much money for a one hour tour), so we observed the fortress from the outside. This was the closest to Incan Ruins that I would get.

Incan fortress outside of Cusco
Chris and I met up with his brother on the first day of the Corpus Christi festival in the city. Although it is some sort of Catholic festival for the saints, it is also a huge cultural event. Platters of chicken and guinea pigs were being sold by vendors everywhere, and the people drank and danced in the streets all night. Getting around took forever because of the masses of people who flooded the streets. It made me appreciate Cusco a lot more the second time around.

Scary masks that are part of the celebration
We ate well in Cusco and this time I didn’t get sick (food included sushi, Indian food, and Irish Pub food). One bizarre thing about C…

Gringo Trail

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The town of Ica holds very mixed feelings for me. We arrived at night and I was unable to see the setting of the so-called “oasis” of Huacachina that we stayed at outside of town. When I woke in the morning I realized that the hotel was situated on a small lagoon surrounded by mountain sized sand dunes. It was surreal. Sadly, this was the point in the trip where I got food poisoning (most likely traced back to a bowl of soup!?) so we had to hold off on the sand boarding for a few days and lay out by the pool. As soon as my stomach had settled somewhat, we took off for the dunes on a dune buggy!

The buggy ride felt like a roller coaster as we sped over the sandy dunes, catching air at the top of hills and whipping around corners. We occasionally stopped and the guide showed us how to use the sand boards to go down the hills both on our stomachs and on our feet. I was never able to make it down a full hill standing, and quickly learned to keep my mouth closed, as much as I wanted to scr…

Peru, again

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Two summers ago, I went to Peru with my mom and we chose to fly home early when I got food poisoning that did not appear to be getting any better after a few days bed rest (see previous entry). I am back in Peru, and after nearly two weeks I am proud to say that my stomach is doing just fine somehow!

Chris and I spent a few days in Lima preparing for our upcoming trip into the jungle. After going to a few different markets we set off on a 20 hour bus ride (that ended up being 23 hours of course) to Pucallpa. The brakes on the bus broke down twice, the girl in the seat behind me vomited out the window four times, and we only stopped to use a bathroom twice. Peruanos are camels apparently. Between Chris and I we have a small library so we have plenty of entertainment for long trips like this.

Pucallpa was a real eye opener for what was ahead of us, further away from civilization. Our hotel was one of what seemed to be only two buildings in the city with a real roof, and a decent hotel r…

Travel Countdown

I am leaving in three weeks for Peru! It seems my life has two distinct phases now: traveling, or anticipating traveling. Nothing in between.

Plans as of now are to meet Chris in Lima in the beginning of May, spend some time traveling around Peru and seeing things that I missed out on last summer due to food poisoning (Machu Picchu, Iquitos, Lake Titicaca, etc.). On May 31 I am meeting Marpessa in Quito, Ecuador, and we are volunteer teaching for 6 weeks. We don’t have an exact assignment yet but we will be living with a local family and taking Spanish lessons in the afternoon. I have to be fluent after this summer or I will be so disappointed in myself!

Since a lot of this summer is (hopefully) going to be spent in the Amazon or on the Andes, I have been stocking up on hiking/camping gear. I got a brand new backpack that has a lot more support than my old one, some Keen hiking boots, wool socks, compact mummy style sleeping bag, lightweight hiking clothes, etc.

Even staying in hostel…

Spring Break: Argentina

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Things I miss about America when abroad:
A guarantee of decent toilets.
Big cups of coffee.
American style breakfast: hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, etc.
…that’s it.

I spent spring break in Argentina. I met Chris in the Buenos Aires Airport after some confusion with the terminals and we were off to Palermo, the neighborhood that our hostel was in. Right away I noticed what a green city Buenos Aires is, especially in the Palermo parks:

Park in Palermo

Park in Recoleta
We took a walk down to the Boca area to see if there were any football tickets. Although there weren’t, we still got to see quite a show. Not quite a riot, but bottles flying as the fans clashed with the police who just kind of stood there waving their big sticks. I do not quite understand how throwing glass bottles and defacing your city equates to love of a football team, but I guess I am just not as passionate as these fans.

I feel I should mention the food. We went to a coastal city, Mar del Plata, for a few days and ended up…

Natural Disaster

Spring break plans as of last night: Spend ten days in Santiago, Chile!
Spring break plans as of now: get to South America.

I have a plane ticket to arrive in Santiago, Chile the morning of Mar. 3, 2010 and who knows if the airport will even be open by then? Massive earthquake, not so great.
It will be interesting to see how things play out and where I end up, because at this point everything is really up in the air.
It's going to be hard to make a decision as to whether or not I should change my ticket to arrive in Argentina or somewhere else until the airport in Santiago makes an official announcement about opening their runways to commercial flights again. They have made no official statements thus far.
I love these little challenges that traveling likes to throw my way. I think this one will work out ok though, as long as I end up somewhere south of the Equator.
I promised to write about the ups AND downs of traveling, no?

UPDATE: Will be arriving in Buenos Aires the morning of Frida…