10:18pm, september 1, 2013
DC is such a cool place because everything is pretty accessible overall - i can bike, take the metro or bus, or walk to pretty much anywhere! plus, the grid layout (thanks, l’enfant!) makes it incredibly easy to navigate.
i’ve been able to get into the yoga classes nearby (i’m at 15th and H and this is at 15th and P), organize the food delivery (can you imagine me biking home with groceries? it wouldn’t work. i’ve tried), and get my calendar together. it’s all pretty busy, but i think that’s a good thing. the organized schedule will help me get through everything i need to get done, like…
study for the GRE (graduate school entrance exam, which i’m taking sept 14), finish applying for the fulbright scholarship (due sept 16), grad school apps (oh goodness), and balance academics and my internship. speaking of…
what a great office! what a great experience! i really loved my first day (i can’t say much), and feel that it’s going to be a great learning environment.
the classes are also really interesting; our professors are interviewed or speak on FOX and MSNBC, have experience on the hill, lobbying, in the white house, and in international politics and campaigning. they’re fascinating, fascinating people who have great stories and really differing, broad views on how to face challenges and how to see politics and approach the political world. i know i’ll be learning so much from all of them!
today i saw my friend ale and her girlfriend, joyce, as they were in DC for the day. it was great to catch up with them! i really missed ale - she’s one of my best friends from tufts - and we walked around and had some tapas and it was a delight. i’ve met up with angela, who graduated from tufts last year as well, and we hung out and have plans later! i’ve also been able to catch up with my friend daisy (bowdoin graduate), who started and was the editor in chief of in the cac, a NESCAC blog that i occasionally write for (when i’m not drowning in work). so it’s been great! we went out to u street for drinks, and i think that the bar scene isn’t really my thing. also, males in DC wear button downs, khakis…and flip flops? it’s like they forgot to finish getting dressed or something. it’s very casual, all of it. just a bit dark, and i’m not drinking a lot because…
well, i’ve started a new morning routine! i have warm water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (bragg’s) and then 30 minutes later i have a green juice (kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, green apple, ginger, lemon juice). so it’s kind of a health kick and i’ve felt so much better generally! not as tired, brighter and clearer skin…just overall great.
so that’s how DC is going! it’s been great adjusting and now it’s really about hitting the town and exploring the city itself. i have a list of museums i want to go to and some restaurants, as well.
happy labor day weekend!
generally, sertanejo (“country” but it’s really pop, in my opinion) is incredibly popular…guttavo lima (doidaca, gatinha assanhada), jorge e mateus (flor, enquanto houver razoes), luan santana (as lembrancas vao na mala, garotas nao merecem chorar), zeca baleiro (lenha), zelia duncan (borboleta). also, there are like brazilian music CDs at whole foods hehe that you could buy with a lot more bossa nova, samba, etc. but these are all the popular songs! (:
9:11pm, august 28, 2013
it’s the night before my internship with senator harkin’s office in the HELP committee (education policy office), and it’s been on my mind to wrap this blog up. but for some reason, it’s been very difficult to get the stories out…having vitor get the car stuck down the hill, a last night eating australian food with buffon and otavio and vitor, running to give amr a last hug moments before he left, saying goodbye to mariha at the airport at 530 in the morning, piranha fishing with my mom in the amazon, and coming home.
i guess the truth is, putting it all out and down on paper (or the internet, in this instance) really finalizes it all. the trip is over, the grades are in, and i’m surrounded by america and english and whatnot.
meeting my mom in rio and then heading to salvador was a lovely experience. we had a great time the entire time, actually, although there were a few rough spots (a kinda shitty hotel in recife, and exhaustion in manaus that led us to come home a day earlier).
experiencing the northeast region of brazil is similar to a northerner heading right into the heart of mississippi. not the same culturally, of course, but racially, socio-economically, and even food wise, that different. the people in the northeast region are darker, as that was a primarily slave based area and where the ports were and plantations. the food is very heavily african influenced, as is the music and even the language.
i think that i will be dedicating a blog post to each city - salvador, recife, and finally manaus/the amazon - in order to really go through it all thoroughly. pictures to come, i promise.
another promise i’d like to make and keep is to write about my experiences here in DC as i take the semester at georgetown. this is a very special semester, and i can sense that i’ll have many wonderful stories and adventures (such as getting lost while biking home from yoga, messing up the schedule and crying at capitol hill, and realizing that i’m really on my own here, and learning how to deal with that).
so, look for a blog post tomorrow after my first day in senator harkin’s office!
i say definitely get into the music, read some local news (pick a city, any city! folha d. SP is great!!). i think that the language structure can be difficult (grammar, etc) and the easiest way to learn is to read and listen and really get into the rhythm of the language. i’m not big on doing exercise after exercise in textbooks. also, duolingo is a great app for practicing! or find someone to practice with (i can, if you want!).
I WILL BE POSTING MORE
about my last week in floripa and my experience there
about my travels with my mom to Salvador, recife, and Manaus/the amazon
about my thoughts on brazil
and i still have my draft on the protests
don’t worry (:
july 4, 11:43pm
i guess quite a few things have happened these past three weeks, and i haven’t had the time to really sit down and reflect and organize my thoughts. but here goes!
i’ve learned a few things about myself recently, that include:
1. i’m a city girl, plain and simple. i love the variety that cities offer - culturally, restaurant wise, people wise. the different events and how many different things you can do on a given day.
2. your taste buds change as you get older. it’s true! i now know that that is true. on my most recent trip (to buenos aires, keep reading below), i ate octopus and squid and all forms of ham and whatnot, and i liked them! i still don’t like olives though.
3. i’m an overly organized, rational traveler. i like having a list of all the things i want to see and a schedule of when i should see them. then i can get the most important things out of the way. and thanks to google, i can do this with restaurants, too!
4. i’m okay being alone. traveling, eating, exploring - i have the confidence to go to a new city and experience it alone, sozinha/solo.
on sunday, june…23, the group from middlebury took mariana, our program director, out to dinner at a cute pizza place in lagoa. it was our last chance to spend time with her before she took a trip to visit friends and then went to san francisco, where her husband will be working for google!
unfortunately, all i have is a photo of the pizza..
on tuesday, june 25, the day before i left for buenos aires, was my friend filipe’s birthday party! we celebrated at the mexican restaurant, guacamole, which has a mariachi band and a guy in a sombrero carrying out shot glasses and tequila and if you take a shot, he shakes your head around.
AND THEN on wednesday, i went to buenos aires, argentina until june 30. i left bright and early at 630am to catch a flight to porto alegre, had a 3 hour layover, and then flew straight into buenos aires.
when i landed, i had a really hard time finding a taxi. for some reason, someone told me i had to get one inside and get some form of ticket and then go outside. well, i ended up taking a taxi that wasn’t an official taxi but the guy was really nice and i told him i knew a martial art and he was told me all about his family. so, safe and sound, i got to the hostel - which was really, really nice - around 1:00pm, i believe.
it had a hot tub on the roof! unfortunately, i didn’t have a bathing suit so i didn’t get to try it out.
i was incredibly impressed by the city itself - very european, and really quite modern (although my friend daryl, from tufts, says that it’s nice to visit but really dysfunctional to live in…then again…latin america). there are various museums, cultural centers, restaurants, and neighborhoods to visit.
i also found myself having a difficult time separating portuguese and spanish - at least, speaking. i knew what i wanted to say, and it was so simple in my mind, but for some reason, my mouth just wanted to say some things in portuguese. the first day and a half, i spoke in a hybrid sort of language. and i understood everything everyone was saying - it was just that my mouth and brain weren’t connecting properly. by the second day, i was cruising, though, and there was pretty much no portuguese creeping in. what’s interesting is that the argentinians always think i’m brazilian and the brazilians always think i’m argentinian because of my accent, so it’s a whole mix up of everyone speaking various languages and then trying english when they’re like oh, you’re not even from latin america! but the spanish was fine, especially after i was able to actually just push the portuguese out of the picture mentally.
the weather in buenos aires was really quite refreshing, in a way. it was a crisp autumn type of weather, a bit warmer in the sun and kinda cold in the shade and when the sun went down. everyone was in boots and scarves and jackets, and i felt right at home and ready for the weather.
the fashion is also kinda like miami - skinny jeans, the ankle boots, silky shirts. it was really nice to wear real clothes again, because i often feel that i’m in a more casual and relaxed style here in brazil. lots of jeans, not as put together.
i wasted no time after i arrived and headed straight to MALBA (The Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires/Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires). i really, really enjoyed the museum. it was actually free, because it was a wednesday, which was nice. i may have kinda randomly joined a tour, which was really nice, because the tour guide had lots of interesting facts to share about the works of wilfred lam, frida kahlo, and grete stein (there was a special exhibit of her works).
it was a really lovely collection, all modern (read: 20th century) artists such as botero and diego rivera.
i then walked to the japanese garden, which the tour guide suggested for me. that was actually really beautiful and tranquil, and i enjoyed the time walking around, taking photos, and reading on a park bench. it’s a public space with a cultural center, restaurant, and a greenhouse
somehow on my way out of the gardens, i stumbled into one of the fanciest shopping malls in the city - don’t ask me how, because i sincerely don’t know. i bought some cute new shoes and a long sleeved shirt, and then went on my merry way (by taxi, of course, to be on the safe side) back to the hostel to rest before going to dinner.
i chose to go to osaka, a peruvian/japanese fusion restaurant that got really great reviews and was highly, highly recommended. i’d say i arrived at around 8:30pm. i asked the hostess to seat me, and she told me the only seat available was at the bar. i was actually pretty offended, because the entire restaurant was empty, plus it was a wednesday, plus it was just me alone. but i sat at the bar, all cozy with some form of drink called a “pink aji” and let the bartender order for me. i had a total of 4 small plates, going from cold to hot. this is the restaurant where i really let myself experiment, and i was very glad i did. the food was delicious and the reviews were on the spot.
at one point, there was a fire on my dish.
one thing i love about having the opportunity and privilege to travel is being able to try new restaurants and new foods.
i went back to the hostel and slept like a baby. i’d organized a half day tour of the city with a tour company for the next day, thursday, at 10:00am. they asked me to be at a different hotel between 9:40am and 10:00am. well, i got to the other hotel lobby at around…9:48am because of traffic, and it turns out they’d left without me. i was not a happy camper. but i called, and they let me know that they’d pick me up at around 2:40pm sharp at the same location, so i was free in the morning to explore.
and explore i did! i walked around recoleta to find a phone chip (didn’t work) and then, frustrated, walked to la recoleta, where the famous cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar), built in 1732.
i also walked into the cemetery, which contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy and a granddaughter of Napoleon.
(more photos later)
then i somehow ended up in a lunch area and in the cultural center, which has a kids science museum!
it was connected to the BA design center, which has lots of shops for architects and interior design and an upper deck with outdoor restaurants. i ate at one that was..it was okay. i had wok.
then i headed back to the hotel to wait for the tour bus. when it finally arrived, it was me and a brazilian family and another group of colombians. the tour was really interesting - we went through all the really famous tourist locations.
we went back to la recoleta cemetery, passed a lot of the monuments - including the obelisk and one of christopher columbus - as well as teatro colon, an opera house that seats 2300 people and has the best acoustics in the world.
we also went to plaza de mayo, the main square that is the hub of politics in buenos aires. la casa rosada (the government building), bank of the argentinian nation, metropolitan cathedral, and city hall, as well as secretariat of the intelligence, are all on the square.
so first, the cathedral! the exterior was being renovated, but it was absolutely beautiful. it is the mother church of the archdiocese and i believe it was pope francis’ church before he headed off to the vatican.
it felt odd heading right back out into the bustling city plaza after being in such a beautiful and tranquil place.
but i did make it to la casa rosada. it’s the office of the president and is a national historic monument. and it really is pink!
then the tour took us to la boca, a neighborhood that’s very italian and is home to the stadium of boca junior, a buenos aires soccer team. it’s known for its radical politics and brightly painted houses.
it was a really, really cute area with lots of shops and restaurants.
then the tour took us to puerto madero, the waterfront district that has many restaurants along rio de la plata. every street in the neighborhood is named after a woman, and there is the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge), by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that links he east and west docks of Puerto Madero.
that night, i kind of messed up with dinner plans all around and ended up ordering in and watching a movie. i can’t really do that here in brazil at all, and that simple and restful action was really quite nice.
and then the next day, i had a tour of el tigre and the delta with the same tour company in the morning (don’t worry - i made it on time). it was me, a brazilian family, and two american couples, and an italian man.
the tigre province of buenos aires is about 30 km from the city center and lies on the parana delta (kind of like the border between uruguay and argentina). the town sits on an island created by several small streams and rivers and was founded in 1820, after floods had destroyed other settlements in the area, then known as the Partido de las Conchas. the parana delta is connected to another river (rather than the sea) and has lots of small islands as well. it’s a really fascinating place. many argentinians spend weekends there to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
we saw the other soccer team stadium (san lorenzo de almagro), the other famous team of the city. this stadium was used in the world cup.
and then it took about 30 minutes to get to tigre!
we took a tour of the delta…
the only way to get to the homes is by boat. so, everyone was paddling around or on a little motorboat and the garbage boat came by with all the trash, and various boats with all the groceries selling door to door. it was really kinda quaint. the church and school also have long docks for boats to dock against.
we passed the most famous rowing club in argentina..
and then went back into tigre to look at the square and the church!
we also passed by the president’s official residence (she takes a helicopter to la casa rosada every day to get there) but we only saw the first wall (there are 4 walls of security).
and then… i got dropped off! i asked to be dropped off near la recoleta so i could eat lunch at the alzear palace, a famous hotel. it was divine! and incredibly beautiful.
the neighborhood of recoleta is where all the embassies are, and they’re all very french influenced.
in fact, the city was originally set up to mimic paris!
then i walked to the museo de bellas artes, which had a botero exhibit i was very excited to see. the museum has a free entrance, and i was incredibly impressed by the collection - it had works of renoir, rembrandt, el greco, rubens, cezzane, manet, and monet, among others.
i was not supposed to take any pictures but i couldn’t help myself!
by the time i left, it was dark out. i crossed the bridge to where the law school for UBA (university of buenos aires) is.
i was really tired that night, and had a fairly early dinner at parilla don julio - 100% recommend!!
so now i’m at saturday morning! i woke up kinda late and dilly dallied, and then headed to croque madame cafe, a wonderful french restaurant beside the decorative arts museum.
then i met my friend daryl and met her friends, rebecca and annmarie, at cafe san juan, and really cute restaurant in san juan that had delicious food (i mean, from the looks of it, as i was stuffed from the french food).
they directed me afterwards to the leather area, on la calle murillo, because i wanted to buy some leather jackets as presents for my aunt carol (hi!) and myself (hi!).
and then i had dinner at la cabrera, which was really good but i was outside and a bit cold and i also didn’t order the right thing because the waiter kind of told me that the appetizer was smaller than it was and i was just too stuffed to order a full piece of meat.
the wine was delicious, though!
sunday morning, i went to the four seasons for brunch because apparently that was THE place to be for brunch (it was).
i read the new york times and buenos aires herald with my pancakes!
then i walked to the teatro colon because i thought it was really important to see it (it was fantastic). it’s considered one of the best concert venues in the world.
i took a guided tour, which was great, because i learned that the operahouse was designed on purpose to have different styles of european architecture and materials, and that its acoustics are due to its horseshoe shape in the hall and the way that the materials are organized - warmest (velvet, etc) at the bottom and marble at the top.
it was a lovely operahouse, en fin.
then i walked around recoleta some more, and watched monsters university (pretty funny, but in spanish not so much because jokes are lost) and had some ice cream.
and then, my final photo in buenos aires before heading to the airport!
i hitched a cab back to the hotel and rushed to the airport (which is really quite far away). my flight was at 6:00pm and i left at 4:00pm, so i was pretty stressed about everything. plus, i had a shopping bag full of items … a new bag, the jackets, etc.
well, i got to the airport and the people at GOL (the airline) didn’t really understand how to count, i guess, because they thought that my visa had expired the day before. so then i had to rush through security, and i got to the line for customs and the shopping bag split in half…i basically had to half carry it like a baby through the line, and then they started boarding my flight and i was still in line (i’m sweating through all this in a leather jacket and with my bags, by the way) and i was incredibly nervous i wouldn’t make it and at the final boarding call (at 5:30, mind you) i finally freaked out enough and asked if i could cut the line. well, i did cut the line, that was nice of everyone to let me through, and the customs officer was slow and i was stressed and then i ran through what felt like a mile of duty free shops to get to the gate. i was sweating and dirty and tired and the damn bag was splitting and my other bag was heavy, and i finally got there and the agent was like oh no, we wouldn’t leave without you!
which was great, and i had to go to the bathroom so bad, but i went down the ramp and ended up waiting with other late brazilians for the other later brazilians .. for 15 minutes..still sweating, and having to pee.
of course, everyone was late and the plane was i think delayed ON PURPOSE so that all the people could get there. i found a row to myself and just settled down to breathe and relax. i made it through immigration in brazil and back to the house where i took a long hot shower and climbed straight into bed.
and then..i had class, and i had a skype phone call, and homework, and here we are on fourth of july!
last night was the goodbye party for my friend melissa, who is from texas and studies in california. i’m so glad i got to know her, as she’s one of the most genuine and happy person i’ve met. i went to her apartment to have a mexican dinner (burritos and enchiladas) and it was so bittersweet. we’ll have to come back to brazil together and move in to an apartment together!
vitor and otavio were kind enough to drive me home and up the hill!
so that was wednesday…and then oh yes, fourth of july!
i was set on making pie pops (http://cupcakesandcashmere.com/pie-pops/) and i invited my friend douglas over to help me make some cherry pie pops. the idea is like…a mini pie on a lollipop stick.
i made the dough..
then douglas came over to help with the filling!
fortunately, douglas and mariha had the foresight to test out the lollipop sticks (we broke off the candy from the lollipops) that i’d bought before putting them in the food.
it curled up and nearly melted.
so we nixed the lollipop idea and just stuck with the idea of mini pies.
but for some reason, it didn’t come out…i mean, they didn’t stick together, the two pieces, and it rose kind of like a pastry.
i mean, they were absolutely delicious, but not the ideal that i wanted. i guess i can try again. the recipe online used a pre made pie dough, so maybe that was part of it?
then we went to stephanie’s apartment (she’s another middlebury student) to celebrate the fourth of july with burgers, beer, and beer pong. and pie! she made a wonderful apple-peach pie and was super sweet with the burgers and pulled bbq chicken and baked beans.
and then we all went home, and tomorrow we’ll all go out again…
and then sadly, we’re all on the fast track back to the united states. a reflection coming up soon!
PS - buenos aires pictures HERE
PPS - june/july pictures HERE