E-mail From the End
of My Trip...
I stayed true to my plan. I lived the last three weeks of my trip as if I was on vacation (or 'on
holiday' depending on what part of the world you are from).
It started in Rio when my sister and Clarke (my brother-in-law) came out to meet me. Yes,
it was great to see them. But almost just-as-great were things I would be exposed to known
as 'hotel rooms'. I wouldn't have to live not knowing whether or not I would be able to get a
hot shower. I wouldn't have to sweat through the night with the absence of air-conditioning
or a fan (at times like these, cold showers were actually much appreciated). Life was too
Rio has quite a reputation for not being the safest of cities. The favelas (i.e. slums) are
within meters of some of the main sights in the city. It is a known fact that people in this
country have no problem resorting to some sort of violence to get what they want. You
know it's bad when the people that are the quickest to warn you are the Brazilians
themselves. We never experienced any problems but we were cautious at all times. This, of
course, takes away a bit from the experience when you feel like you always have to look
over your shoulder. But this didn't affect us too much while watching sunsets on Ipanema
Beach with a drink in hand from one of the beach bars (Michelle and Clarke were even
lucky enough to have me humming 'The Girl from Ipanema' to further set the mood –
okay, maybe 'lucky' isn't the right word…).
Whether it's from Sugar Loaf or from Corcovado (where Jesus Cristo is), the views of Rio
are truly stunning. And here's something I found interesting: Remember how I said that it
was annoying to be in Machu Picchu with all of the signs saying to 'Vote for Machu Picchu'
as a 7 th Wonder of the World? Well, here there were signs throughout the city to 'Vote No'
for the Jesus Cristo on Corcovado to be voted as one of the Wonders (as it is also in the
running). It was interesting to see a place/city not wanting this 'honor'.
After some great meals and great desserts (and a few renditions of me and Clarke singing
'At the Copa' while walking down Copacabana Beach), it was time for us to head down to
Before heading into Argentina, we got a glimpse of the Falls from the Brazil side. From
here, we got a panoramic view. I figured my first impression was going to be tons of gushing
white waters. Nope. It looked much more like tons of gushing hot cocoa. I never really
pictured the Falls to be brown. But they were. And surprisingly, the color grew on me after a
We also walked out onto a viewing platform where we got head-to-toe drenched. It was just
minutes later when they closed this platform due to the extremely high water levels. We
didn't spend too much time on this side – partly because our jeans and clothes were
sticking to every part of our body. Not the most comfortable feeling.
After a shower and putting on some dry clothes, we were now on our way to the Argentina
side of the Falls. This would be where I spotted the first toucan (what I consider birdie
perfection) of my life. Talk about a bright and beautiful schnozz. Sadly, my sister and Clarke
only got the experience of hearing my account of it as they were a bit too impatient and
walked off too quickly. We tried to go on a toucan safari the next morning – this was
unsuccessful (probably partly due to the fact that I was the co-leader of this safari along
with Clarke). It's just too bad that our morning prayers over bowls of Fruit Loops (I thought
Toucan Sam might work with us) didn't work.
I thought upon leaving Iguazu that I would have felt 'Okay. I'm glad I saw it. Don't really
need to go back.' But surprisingly (especially to me), I would go back to this place again.
(Maybe a big part of this is so that I can participate in the things that were closed off this
time around due to the high water levels…)
And from here, we headed off to Buenos Aires. With the exception of going to Uruguay for
a few days with Michelle, the last 2½ weeks were spent in this incredible city. My sister
spent the first week with me; my friends Lauren and Natalie spent the last week or so with
A common question might be "What makes this city so incredible?" Well, it definitely had
to do with my having so much time out there where it felt like I had a daily routine and
really got to know my neighborhood (Palermo Viejo). I would never stay in another area –
this one was perfect. It felt more like being amongst locals vs. tourists. We stayed at a B&B
with absolutely the sweetest porteños (i.e. people from Buenos Aires). I hated having to say
good-bye to them but still did so with hugs and kisses.
Let me also say that there is a good chance a person who visits Buenos Aires for just 2-3
days won't feel a huge love for it. I say this because a person might feel like they need to do
all of the 'sightseeing' (Evita's tomb at the Recoleta cemetery, the colorful and touristy area
of Caminito, etc.) in that time. While it was good to see all of that, it did the least for me
next to just 'living life' out there. The things that ranked tops for me were eating (pastas,
steak, 'provoleta', etc.) and eating for next-to-nothing at restaurants that would rival those
in San Francisco, shopping (how was it possible to go shopping almost every day in Palermo
Viejo and still manage to find news stores that I had never been in on my last day???),
watching the dog-walkers (who are beyond talented individuals who are able to seamlessly
maneuver their way down a street with fifteen dogs in tow), stopping for ice cream as an
afternoon treat at one of the many artisan ice cream shops, etc. And keep in mind, I never
even got around to mentioning going to see the horse races – betting on the races actually
came in second to the actual grounds of the horse races, going to the Jesus Theme Park
(okay, this is technically called 'Tierra Santa') – I am probably the first Jewish girl to say
that they hugged Jesus, going to a 'real' football game (in the form of the Boca Juniors) - I
bought a visor; therefore, that is now 'my' team, the strength of the U.S. dollar vs. the
Argentine peso, finding my favorite empanada, ice cream and chocolate shops and getting
to see adorable little doggies galore. Life was definitely good out there.
The only downfalls were dog poop and having a taxi driver seem as if he was going to inflict
physical harm to me and Natalie after he scammed us (he stopped short of this when he
said 'F*&% YOU! GET OUT!' in Spanish – we quickly heeded his request completely fine
with the fact that he pocketed many extra pesos).
So now I am back in the United States. I only had about 12 hours in the Bay Area before
hopping on yet another flight out to New Jersey for a friend's wedding. I considered my trip
over once I landed on U.S. soil. But this was wrong of me. I am now in New York. This place
rivals many of the top cities in the world. For that reason, I am now considering that my
world trip has just taken me to another part of my own country. Just because I am in the U.
S. that is no reason to not consider it part of the 'world'. Probably in large part due to denial,
I am now saying that I am not done with my traveling just yet. From here I head to Atlanta
(hey, it's kind of worldly – they did host an Olympic Games) and then to Boston (tea party,
I will obviously be sending a few follow-up emails while I am in Atlanta that will re-cap my
entire trip…so you aren't done with me yet!