Made it to Mexico! I arrived in during a rainstorm and walked in my long pants and hiking boots in this oppressively humid climate down the most touristy avenue in Playa Del Carmen (it legit has a Hollister...) and wondered why on earth I picked this town to come to. Arrived at the hostel and after a short convo the receptionist asked if I was Argentinian (LIFE HIGHLIGHT) and I asked where to get some good non-touristy food. She told me to walk a few blocks and I arrived to this row of taco stands. I plonked down on the stools behind and ordered 2 tacos. Mouth EXPLOSION. Especially after a week of eating crackers and bread, it was so delightful to eat some incredible Mexican food. “Estos son mis primeros tacos en Mexico!” I proudly declared to the chef. “Buen provecho!” He yelled back to me as he put another few on the grill. “Quieres algo más?” “Si, porfa, dos más... son riquisimos!!!” (Ended up eating 5). Watched people stand with their plates under their mouths, hoover down a few tacos and then go on their way. Great food and great company. Mexico, you sly dog you, got me under your spell in less than a day!
These photos don’t really reflect the time I’ve had in Bolivia this past week, which has mostly been spent being vvvv ill! After 6 days of feeling spectacularly rotten I finally (at the insistence of my parents) went to go see a doc who diagnosed me with salmonella! “But I don’t eat meat!!!” I yelped. “It’s pretty commonly found in the water here. You probably ate some veggies that were washed in unfiltered water.” Oy vey. Most of all this week has been about a profound amount of gratitude for my health, for health insurance, for insanely kind Bolivian doctor and nurses who looked after me and patted me on the back when I started crying when she said “Mija, no te preocupes, vamos a investigar lo que está pasando” cause after almost a week of feeling absolutely terrible the kind words made such a difference! I also reflected on how profoundly unfair it is that children and adults suffer and die of waterborne illnesses all around the world and made a donation to WaterAid, one of my favourite charities. (And if you can spare it I encourage you to do the same!) Bolivia, I spent most of my time in your country sleeping/crying/reading in bed/watching the O.C. season 1 on my phone (it HOLDS UP guys) but I appreciate so much what I’ve seen so far and can’t wait to come back and do it again properly as I work my way back down. Next stop, Mexico to meet up with my bestie!!!
I was always going to play favourites with Argentina: as my first introduction to Latin America, it will always hold a very special place in my heart. But being in northern Argentina sealed the deal for me as one of the best travel destinations in the world! Beautiful red mountains, amazing salt flats, wonderful people... truly the north has it all. I arrived during carnival and on my first day I was watching the parade before someone pulled me in, put a face full of chalk on me, sprayed me with a foam canister and taught me the lyrics to the carnival songs! I spent the next few hours parading down the street and being tapped on the shoulder every 5 seconds to dance with another carnival goer (and was silently thanking the salsa class I took before travelling!). I made friends with some “Diablitos”, men who dress up as the devil and who will eventually be “buried” on the last day of carnival to mark the start of Lent! I also explored some gorgeous mountains in the area and marvelled at the amazing geological features present here. ¡Viva Argentina!
Mendoza was such a delight. Starting from the beautiful bus ride from Valparaiso, Chile through the Andes, to biking around and drinking delicious wine, it was just exactly what I needed. The areas nearer to the border also have breathtaking mountains and so I had a lot of fun hiking around that area. You can really feel how much thinner the air is at 3,400m!! We also walked back along some (abandoned) train tracks and I felt like we were in the movie Stand by Me!
Beautiful few days in quirky Valparaíso, Chile’s “graffiti capital” nestled in mazey hills with all sorts of tiny staircases to connect the different parts of the city. I really enjoyed wandering around snapping pictures and enjoying the more gritty side of the city. This one piece of street art (last photo) was done by a Venezuelan artist and I just thought was so so beautiful I went back to look and sit next to it a few times during my time in Valpo. “Make the world bigger, make it beautiful, so that when you go, leave it so that the earth misses you.” ❤️
In the first days of my trip in Buenos Aires I came across the statue of Julio Argentino Roca, a celebrated general in Argentinian history who vastly expanded the territory of the country through the “Conquest of the Desert”, (ie by slaughtering the indigenous peoples of Patagonia). The statue had been graffitied with the word “genocida”. Throughout this trip I’ve been trying to honour the indigenous peoples of this land by learning as much as I can about their culture and the bloody consequences of European colonisation. I’ve been especially taken with Mapuche culture (Mapu meaning earth, Che meaning people - “gente de la tierra”) but found it difficult in Patagonia to find spaces that recognised and honoured the original peoples, save a very small “museum” in El Calafate and a few passionate guides in the Torres del Paine park who had learned the Mapuche terms for different things found in nature and carried them on. Imagine my delight then when I arrived to Santiago to find the Museum of Pre Columbian art (ie pre Christopher Columbus), so rich with information and stories from such a wide variety and network of indigenous peoples. I felt deeply emotional navigating through this space and learning about these cultures that were attempted to be so forcibly erased by European colonisation but yet still persist to this day. Even the main Plaza de Armas in Santiago has a statue to honour the Mapuche struggle (last photo), which, while not enough to erase the violent history of this place, is a good start to visibly recognise just how different this place would look without colonisation! Second photo is a map with different tribe names, third photo is an Incan counting system where you count eg cattle or resources through number of strings and number of knots - thought it was very cool! And first is just some cool lights I encountered in the museum to draw you in and have you learn about indigenous peoples!!! ❤️🥰
Spent the last few days experiencing life on a farm in Chiloé, a small island near Chile’s Lake District! The Chilean abuela who runs the place stuffed with me with homemade bread and jams and bestowed upon my first “mija”! The kids living there also called me “maldita” cause I was on a bizarre UNO-winning streak and kept crushing their lil spirits. Also we found a tiny newborn kitten and tried to nurse it back to health (to no avail, it was really really sad.) 😿
An amazing, magical, tough and fun week hiking and camping through Torres Del Paine’s O circuit! Experienced every type of Patagonian weather, saw the most incredible sights that I could never quite capture with my camera, ate tons of trail mix, wore the same pair of socks for 7 days and they smell just as horrifying as you’d think! Overall just a phenomenally fantastic experience ❤️
Leaving El Chaltén with a full heart and sore legs after a week of beautiful, fun and challenging hikes! This tiny town is “national trekking capital of Argentina” and it shows: filled with sun-tanned, fleece-wearing, slightly smelly hikers sitting in bars after a long day of walking, discussing the weather and best days to see which peaks. The trails are lined with hundreds of caterpillars and friendly hikers! Next stop, Chile 😊🇨🇱
Ice, ice baby! Beautiful day on the Perito Moreno glacier. ❄️ This glacier is actually one of the only in the world that is growing each year is the third largest glacier in the world after Antarctica and Greenland! ❄️ Its total area is 250 km sq with a total depth of 170m!!! . . . . . . . . . . . . #glacier#peritomoreno#argentina#elcalafate
Okay WOW just spent the last 3 days in the most fantastic/magical/odd place, a (short!) five hour bus ride from Montevideo. This little town is so remote that you can only access it via a 4x4, which fill up a few times per day and cross sand dunes to get to this tiny little town without electricity. The stars are absolutely amazing, the ocean glows at night from bioluminescent algae and there are SEA LIONS chilling on the beach. This town of musicians, poets and artisans is under threat as the Uruguayan govt wants to knock down these beach shacks and put up fancier tourist locations to bring in more revenue. Super special place and I’d be so sad to see it change! If you’re in Lat Am go visit and show them this charm attracts tourists from all over #cabopolonio#uruguay#poloniounidoseprotege#visituruguay
I found a VEGAN PARRILLA!! Parrillas are Argentinian iron grill barbecues that you can find all over BA. I really wanted to take part in this Argentinian tradition but I really didn’t want to eat meat!!! Then came the “Super Green little Parrilla” (“La Reverde parrillita vegana”) with a fully vegan menu with delicious food made of seitan and tofu! Yum yum YUM. The place was so packed with a line out the door that I ended up sharing a table with a nice vegan American dude and we traded tips on veggie spots in the city. Such a special meal for my last day in BA! Other pic is me with the slogan “Traditional meals that save animals” and a chick looking at me with disdain!!!
Colourful streets in La Boca, including (slightly creepy) figures of Papa Francis (from Rosario), Maradona (iconic football player to whom six (!) churches are dedicated in Argentina), Evita Perón (First Lady from 1946-1953 and an icon in Argentina) and Carlos Gardel (Argentina’s most famous tango singer). plus another mural to the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo. I’m sad to be leaving beautiful Buenos Aires already, but Uruguay is calling!!!
I felt very lucky today to witness the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo today, a female-led social group who gather every Thursday in the central plaza in Buenos Aires to march for the more than 30,000 Argentinian men and women who were disappeared during the Dirty War (1976-1983). The demonstration is simple but powerful: reading the names of family members who were disappeared and the demonstrators calling back “presente”, meaning “present”, as if it were a roll call. The mothers of Plaza de Mayo are even a part of the Plaza itself now, with their traditional white headscarfs painted onto the plaza.