Final thoughts

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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The incredible fans at the Boca Juniors Stadium

            So the time has come, my time in South America for the Argentina/Brazil Program 2006 has come to an end. Sadly, this means that my blog entries on Travbuddy have also come to an end…. well at least for a while. Anyways it’s very difficult for me to sum up everything in one blog, but I will try. And to make it easier, I have formatted in a list…a special list. In fact, I’ve configured my thoughts and feelings into a top 10. So here we go…

 

 

Top 10 Moments of Hannah’s Study Abroad 2006

 

 

10. Colonia, Uruguay: This was not the most fascinating trip of my life, but for some reason I really, really liked Colonia.

Rio Plata in Uruguay
It was very relaxing and just what I needed to get away from the Buenos Aires pollution. Colonia was a great break from the hustle and bustle of the city. I got a chance to relax and gain perspective again. My favorite moment was the time I got to spend alone walking and sitting by the river. I walked along the cobblestone road to the Rio Plate and got to sit on a rock beside the river and just be still. It seemed like so long ago that I was able to just sit and think. All the activities and noises of Buenos Aires had left me feeling like I could not afford the time to be still and just gather my thoughts. Afterwards, I went to a local heladeria and had some of the best gelato of my life.

 

9. Hélionopolis: The favela visit in Brazil had a profound effect on me.

Flamenco dancer at Cantares
All the activities of the day such as talking to the various people, meeting the children, seeing the houses, visiting the schools, etc. left me emotional and deeply pensive. This site visit reminded me of my times in shantytowns and other poor communities that I have visited in the past. It made me think about all the other children and people I had met in other countries such as Guatemala, México, South Africa, etc. I reminisced about my times in those countries and the profound effect those visits had made on my life. Going to Hélionopolis was a huge blessing to me as well because it reminded me how lucky and privileged I am to have the life that I do. Often times I forget how fortunate I am to live in a nice house, have parents with steady incomes, possess luxurious items such as ipods, computers, jewelery, cars, etc. The favela visit reinforced this concept to me and made me realize that not everyone lives like I do and that I should always count my blessings.
Scenic view of Paraty.

 

8. Restaurants Galore!:  When Kirk told me that he gained 15 pounds on last year’s trip, I wondered how that was possible. Typically, I have always lost weight when I went abroad. Well let me tell you, I have certainly not lost weight on this program. I honestly don’t even want to know how much weight I have gained. Anyways, this weight was not gained in vain. I have had the honor and very fortunate opportunity to eat at some FINE establishments. In particular, here are some of my favorite outings:

                 

·         Kathmandu: This is an Indian restaurant in Buenos Aires that serves mainly Northern Indian food.

Incredible waterfalls at Iguacu
I went here with Ivan one random night and the food was GOOD. Ivan & I had both been craving spice so we went to the Indian restaurant ready for the spiciest food they had. We asked for hottest spice they had, but when we received our food, the spiciness was at a minimal level. Our waiter kept asking us if we needed water and was shocked when we always answered no. In Buenos Aires, it is not common to eat spicy foods. In the words of one of my fellow study abroaders, “Argentines can’t handle spice. They’re genetically not able to…. I guess they’re kinda wimps.” Hahaha… okay Argentines aren’t wimps, but they do have a difficult time with spicy foods. Anyways, I highly recommend this restaurant for all of you who will crave spice when you are in Buenos Aires. On top of the great food, I really enjoyed spending time with Ivan. We talked about our lives and I got to hear about his life and more about the Indian culture.
Children of the Helionopolis favela
It felt good to talk to another person who came from an immigrant background and it was nice that I could relate to a lot of things in his life.

 

·         Mykonos: For Jessica’s birthday, we went to a Greek restaurant called Mykonos in Buenos Aires. My dear friend Johnny is of Greek heritage and thus he knew all the foods. Johnny ordered a variety of foods for us and the rest of us had a great time sampling and eating different types of Greek cuisine. This restaurant also had some cultural dancing and customs.

One of the many beautiful beaches in Florianopolis
In particular, we all got to smash/break plates at the end of the night. It was a lot of fun to break plates together and watch some people from our group get up and join the Greek dancing.

 

·         Sushi in Brazil: The largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan is in Brazil. Consequently, this means GREAT sushi. I had the very fortunate opportunity to go to restaurants that had all-you-can-eat sushi.

Sunset at Pao de Acucar
My favorite sushi place was the restaurant in Florianopolis. This restaurant brought us all kinds of sushi as well as other Japanese cuisine such as yakisoba and gyoza as well. I honestly ate till I could eat no more and went to sleep very content.

 

7. Luz in São Paulo: We went on many site visits to immigrant places in São Paulo. However my favorite place was the Luz neighborhood. I traveled around with Felipe and Johnny to the various streets and shops of the immigrant neighborhood. We stopped a Greek restaurant where Johnny spoke in Greek to the owner and he reminisced with Johnny about his homeland. After conversing for a while, Johnny discovered that the man and Johnny’s family were from the same town in Greece.

Me & JB at a club in Curitiba
Johnny’s face lit up with excitement and I really enjoyed watching Johnny interact with the Greek man. I also had a chance to talk to the many Koreans who lived in Luz. Many of them were like me in the fact that their parents emigrated from Korea but they had grown up living in a foreign country. I spoke with one girl who had left Korea when she was 3 years old and had not been back since. She spoke perfect Korean but could not speak a lick of English. She also talked to Felipe in Spanish and they conversed about living in South America and such. I was fascinated that someone that had a background so alike me lived such a different life. All in all, the excursion to this neighborhood was very pleasant and enlightening.

 

6.

Me & Ivan at the 2006 Argentine World Cup National Team Exhibition Game
Beaches: The beaches in Brazil were unbelievable. I honestly felt like I was in paradise. The views from the beaches in Floripa and Paraty absolutely took my breath away. I really enjoyed relaxing and taking in nature’s beauty. I particularly liked the boat trip island hopping in Paraty. However I must say that my most memorable moment on the beach was my accidental excursion to the nude beach in Floripa. (You can read my week 5 blogs for that story). Spending time at the beach as a great break from studying and a great place to relax and have quiet time. My time spent at the beaches were a good balance between the visits and stays in the big cities.

 

5. Foz do Iguaçu: I like to think of myself as an experienced traveler. I have been to five continents and traveled to many countries.

Tango dancers at Senor Tango
Hence, I have seen many beautiful natural wonders. However, I have seen none like Foz do Iguaçu. These waterfalls absolutely took my breath away. I was in pure awe of the beauty and wonder. It was mind boggling to think that the waterfalls were not even at their full capacity. The day we visited, there was a rainbow that overlooked the entire place. It was as though it was a sign that we should be there. Besides the gorgeous views, my favorite moment was the boat ride under the falls. I got soaking wet on that ride! When I say wet, I mean wet. My entire body was wet from being trapped underneath the waterfalls. At one point when we were going down the river, Vicky shouted, “Danger Will Robinson!” I laughed at her. About 2 seconds later, I was covered in water. The only part of the trip I did not like were those damn kuatis!

 

4. Corcovado & Pão de Açúcar: When people think about Rio de Janeiro, they usually think about Copacabana, Samba and of course the breath taking views from places such as the Christ Redeemer statue.

The Cristo Redemero Statue
Accordingly, I was very excited to visit these places. I prepared myself for the long ride up and how amazing the view would be when I got on top, but the actual view exceeded my expectations. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the statue up close and personal. I marveled at it and looked all around to see Rio from up top. I was in denial that I was actually on top of Corcovado right next to the Christo statue. I had seen the statues in movies, books, pictures, but I never thought that I would have the opportunity to actually go see it. The stunning views were also prevalent in Pão de Açúcar. I took the cable cars to the top and saw another breathtaking view of Rio. We stayed up there long enough to watch the sunset on Rio. I was taken aback by the beauty and wonder of the view and sunset. Being up so high made everything else seem so small. It made me think about different things in my life and their importance to me. My visits to Corcovado & Pão helped me clear my head and put things in perspective again.

 

3. Fiesta/Festa!: Now I know that I’m pretty much the most well rounded person you all know (haha), I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of fun going out and spending time with my fellow study abroaders as well as the Argentines that came along with us. I really enjoyed going out with everyone and having some down time. There were many funny moments throughout the various nights. It was really nice having “down” time with my fellow students. We got to get away from school and unwind. In particular, I was very thankful that I had the opportunity to spend quality time with the Argentines. I don’t think I was able to quite keep up with them, but I sure did try and I absolutely had a blast going to various places with them.

 

2.  Shopping: I have lived most of my life trying to fight the stereotypes of many things. However, one stereotype that I am is that I am a girl that loves shopping. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I buy anything, but I LOVE going out and looking at things. One of my absolute favorite times during this program was going to the various malls and markets looking at the local merchandise and products. I loved looking at the local designer clothes at the malls. I found it very interesting to see what fashion and trends each place I visited was into. I also enjoyed going out to the markets and stores with other people. My most memorable moments were shopping with Gigi in Argentina and JB in Curitiba. It was quite lovely seeing the various products that they bought and being part of the experience. Shopping is always a fun activity and it never gets old. Plus in the end, I went home with a lot of gifts for everyone back home.

 

 

1. Dance & Futebol: I couldn’t decide which of these two were my favorite, so I decided to tie them for first. One of my absolute favorite activities is dancing. I love to watch it and to participate in it. Thus, I was completely fascinated by the cultural dancing in both Argentina and Brazil. In particular, my favorite excursion was to Cantares in Buenos Aires to watch and listen to Flamenco. I drank the BEST wine, San Felipe Malbec, with my buddy Ivan and was totally enthralled with the music and dancing. I enjoyed watching samba and tango, but by far, the group excursion to Flamenco blew my mind! (The food was also good).

There is nothing like watching a soccer game in Latin America. Talk about enthusiasm! My favorite moments were going to the Boca Juniors and Argentine Team Exhibition Games in Buenos Aires. I was enthralled by the chants, music, dancing and people. These people seriously put their heart and soul into this sport. To top it all off, the World Cup fever really hit everyone. Businesses would shut down, schools would dismiss early, and people literally would stop what they were doing to watch the World Cup games. I even got into the fanaticism and felt myself getting emotionally involved with the teams and players. The soccer games were incredible and I don’t think I will ever see anything quite like them. I wasn’t that big of a fan before, but after this program, I am a huge fan. ¡Viva futebol!

 

 

So there you are folks, that is my top 10 list of this program. Now there are many more moments that are honorable mentions that did not make it onto the list. But those are some of the most memorable times I have on this trip. Saint Augustine once said, “the World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” After this program, I feel as though I have added a chapter to my book. Here are my closing remarks:

 

-To Dr. Kirk Bowman: Thank you so much for everything you have done for the program. I know you have put in countless hours and effort to ensure that we had a wonderful program and trip. Also thank you for showing kindness to me during the times when I was ill. In particular, thanks for being so helpful when I had my spider bite epidemic in Buenos Aires. Also, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on the various topics we discussed throughout the trip. Besides your lectures, some of the most profound moments I had were talking to you about different subjects in personal conversations. You are one of the most interesting people I have encountered in my life and I am honored that I got to be your student this summer.

 

-To Dr. Felipe Arocena: You are a wonderful person and someone that has made a great impact on me. Your kindness, wisdom and openness never cease to amaze me. I look forward to reading your book and anxiously await the day that you visit Atlanta or that I adventure back to South America to see you again. Thank you so much for your time and I will take the many lessons learned from this trip with me for the rest of my life.

 

-To Gigi, Mary Beth, Lynn, Rachel & Nicole: I really enjoyed rooming with you girls and I am really glad we got to know each other better. All of you are amazing women and I feel honored that I can call you all my friends. I had a lot of fun living with you all and I will always remember the many laughs and great times.

 

-To Dillon, Brent & Derek: I never thought that I would end up rooming with you guys but I’m glad that I did. You guys are all terrific and I had a lot of fun spending time with you all.

 

-To Phil, John Winn, Ryan, JB, Ivan, Sohmer, Divya, Brice, Vicky, Shannon, Eric, Johnny & Jessica: I really enjoyed going on this program with all of you and I think that you all are wonderful people. Each of you has meant something to me and I will always think about all of you fondly. My trip wouldn’t have been the same without all of you and I hope that our paths will cross again in life.

 

-To Norberto, Daniella & Santiago: The three of you are very near and dear to my heart. I have greatly cherished our time together and I hope that this is the beginning of my friendships with all of you. I will definitely keep in touch with you guys and hope to see you again soon.

 

 

So to all those of you who have followed my blogs and come with me on my journey, I thank you. I hope that all of you will take the opportunity to travel to South America and experience the incredible memories like I have. As I leave South America and travel back to the US, I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have had on this program and I know that I have become a wiser and more well rounded person because of them. Although the memories from this summer may fade, the impact will not and will always stay with me. I now end this blog with this quote by Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery in life consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

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The incredible fans at the Boca Ju…
The incredible fans at the Boca J…
Rio Plata in Uruguay
Rio Plata in Uruguay
Flamenco dancer at Cantares
Flamenco dancer at Cantares
Scenic view of Paraty.
Scenic view of Paraty.
Incredible waterfalls at Iguacu
Incredible waterfalls at Iguacu
Children of the Helionopolis favela
Children of the Helionopolis favela
One of the many beautiful beaches …
One of the many beautiful beaches…
Sunset at Pao de Acucar
Sunset at Pao de Acucar
Me & JB at a club in Curitiba
Me & JB at a club in Curitiba
Me & Ivan at the 2006 Argentine Wo…
Me & Ivan at the 2006 Argentine W…
Tango dancers at Senor Tango
Tango dancers at Senor Tango
The Cristo Redemero Statue
The Cristo Redemero Statue
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