Browsing: Próxima Estación – Esperanza

Latin America’s travels. Starting in Panamá on December 9th 2008, a crazy road trip through Costa Rica, Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. From Tierra Del Fuego to the Bolivian highlands, from the Rio Carnival to tropical beaches…

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The Food Saga: The Drinks

In the Andes, especially in Bolivia, mate de coca was a great option. It is basically a tea of coca leaves: as the Bolivians say, “la hoja de coca no es droga” (Coke leaf is not a drug). Maybe not a drug, but it is supposed to help with soroche, altitude sickness. I’m a big tea drinker, especially of green tea, and I did like the taste of the beverage.

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The Food Saga: The Feast Era

The first Argentinian city we went to was Ushuaia, in Tierra Del Fuego. Because of its geographical location — it is the Southernmost city in the world, stuck at the tip of the Americas, right in front of Antarctica — food was quite expensive. We ended up cooking in hostels a lot throughout all Patagonia for the same reason. But once back to civilization, in Buenos Aires, we truly got to enjoy the gastronomy.

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The Food Saga: The Fish Era

Food in Bolivia is quite basic, and there aren’t many supermarkets (if at all). Sanitation isn’t the country’s strong point either, and even though there were many food stalls in La Paz, I skipped on those. However, Copacabana, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, had some of the best fish I have ever had.

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The Food Saga: The Chicken Era

In, Central America, as well as in Peru, you just need to know three words to order food: arroz (rice), frijoles (beans) and pollo (chicken). Makes life easy, doesn’t it! However, the food may be quite basic, and at one point, you’ll be desperate for something other than chicken. I mean, how much chicken can one eat???

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Cataratas del Iguazú (Argentinian Side)

On our way back to Argentina, we couldn´t miss the greatest waterfalls in South America: Iguazú.

The falls are located between Argentina and Brazil. The national parks have a total of 275 falls (!), some over 80 meters tall! Basically, just when you think you took the perfect picture, there is another better waterfalls just around the corner.

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Beautiful Beaches Of Brazil

By the time we got to Rio de Janeiro, we started to look for plane tickets back home. But they were very expensive, so we knew we had to come back to Buenos Aires, in Argentina.

No worries. We bused back, stopping in Florianópolis and in Curitiba, enjoying the beautiful beaches alon

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Samba De Janeiro!

We attended the Parade of the Champions, featuring the best samba schools in Rio, who had the whole night to show off. We took the subway to the stadium, with — it seemed — half of Rio. A lot of performers were already wearing their customs in the subway, and I got a hug from two ¨golden guys¨ who put glitters all over me.

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Brazilian Carnaval In Paraty (1)

A bloco had gathered on Roberto Silveira, the main avenue. A trio-eléctrico (huge truck with speakers, a sound system and singers on top of it) was blasting cheery brazilian music and the drummers behind were setting up a rope-off area. The truck started moving, the drummers started playing and we all followed in the street of Paraty, dancing all night long to the sound of the samba of the Carnival.

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Colonial Paraty

The owner of the internet café was Brazilian. He asked us where we would spend the Carnival, and at the time, we were not sure. He told us to check out Paraty, a small city four hours from Rio de Janeiro. We did not know anything about it. Yet, we went… and we were not disappointed.

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Easing Into Brazilian Culture

In Brazil, my mind is perpetually trying to make sense of of things, using languages that I speak. “Nome” is “name” in English, and of course “nom” in French. “Peixe” equals “pescado”, from the latin “pesci”, also “poisson” in French, and “fish” in English. “Cafe da manhã”… okay, “manhã” looks like “mañana” in Spanish, and “cafe” is obvious. So “morning coffee” is… yep, breakfast. “Hoje” is close to “hoy”, although not the pronunciation — but it still means “today”.

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Looking For The Brazilian Border…

¨Everybody gets off! For the immigration office, walk two blocks that way, turn left, then right, and then you will see another street. Well, it´s not that one, but the next on the right.¨ What the fuck? ¨Oh¨, the driver added, ¨hurry up because you have to take the Porto Alegre bus at 1:00 pm… from the other station¨.

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Old Montevideo

Montevideo was much quieter and much smaller than Buenos Aires, but a great place to relax. The city center, where we stayed, had a lot of colonial buildings, some falling apart, some wonderfully restored. The seaside was equally nice: we walked along the shore, looking at people fishing and kids playing in the water.

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Crossing To Uruguay

Not yet tired of Buenos Aires, its huge steaks and great nigtlife, we nonetheless decided to travel further, to Uruguay, a country we had never been to. Montevideo was supposed to be a great capital, small and safe enough to be traveled easily, yet very nice to visit.

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