Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tackling the Amazon…with my Parents

Yepp, you read that right. The third, and final, part of Nora + Rents take on South America brought us to the infamous Amazon River. Now, as you can imagine, we were all tired at this point, but on we went because hey we’re Americans and vacation days are precious. So, we boarded our boat for our 3 day trip down the Amazon River.

Upon receiving our room assignments, I learned that my parents and I would be sharing one room. Not a big deal for an eight year old, but at 24, that is a bit much. What’s even more is that the room consisted of three single beds so close together it could be considered one big bed. Well. That. Is. Interesting. I thought.

As I laughed at the room arrangements, the captain happened to walk by and mention that the room across the hall was open if we wanted to have two rooms – and yes, yes we did. But I didn’t want to stay alone because 1. This was the beginning of a scary movie and 2. Yes, you know what I miss my mom. Ok, I said it. So into a “private suite” went my dad to brave the Amazon boat ride alone.

We relaxed on the boat, read a ton, somehow got addicted to orange pop a la 1995, and saw the sites of the Amazon! We went piranha fishing, where I discovered what a talented fisherwoman I was by catching the biggest fish in the boat! We also did a night tour of the river, which was REALLY scary. As I sweat in my rain jacket, I clung to my mom (once again) out of fear.

(I caught this)

After 3 days, we were ready to get off the boat. However, great food, a relaxing voyage and the thought of boarding another plane to come back to BsAs pulled me back on it. In the end, well worth the trip! For the animals, adventure and hilarious moments finding myself in the Amazon of Brazil with my parents, I thank you Amazon trip.

Want to get this look?

Neon blue breathable shirt: $30
Windbreaker (seen tired about the waist): little brother's
Life jacket: used, from boat captain
Travelers Pants: priceless
Model: beautiful.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Magical Land

I’ve mentioned the fantastic trip that I went on with my parents in April. We went to the falls, Rio and the Amazon. This post will discuss the magical land that is Rio de Janeiro. Even writing this post, I’m smiling and wishfully dreaming of being back there.

We went to Rio in the middle of the trip, and the first day did the sights (the Christ, Sugarloaf, a villa). Everywhere you looked, and I mean everywhere, there was an amazingly beautiful view! Everywhere! You can’t go anywhere and escape a beautiful landscape. It boggles my mind to think about how much crime and corruption the city has, because it is just so beautiful!
While enjoying breakfast outside, my dad, who speaks no Portuguese or Spanish, in all seriousness said, “What if we just bought a place here?!” Naturally, my mom and I giddy from the splendor ignored all things wrong with that thought and eagerly agreed.

Even through our tiredness (and stomach issues that plagued both my mom and me – TMI? Too bad.), we managed to thoroughly enjoy this city. The second day lying on the beach then on our balconies cemented in my mind how much I wish I spoke Portuguese so I could move there. Don’t test me.

A mere two days in this city was all it took to propel it into one of my top 3 favorite cities. I ended up being stranded in Sao Paulo for a day, but it paled in comparison to Rio. Really, you can’t beat mountains, city, beach.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'll Be Back.

Where have I gone? Apparently I lost my muse, which begs the question: Did I ever really have it at all? (I hope you're laughing.)

Well after months of not writing, I decided to get back into the game. I have students on vacation which means less teaching time, which means less income, which means less going out, which means more time sitting at home alone in my sweatpants writing to you all, if you're still out there.

While home at my brother's graduation party, I had many people ask what happened to Nora the Explorer? All of these people, and I mean all, were either family or family friends who lovingly read my blog, keeping up with my antics, mood swings, rants, and sometimes (like this post) incomprehensible ramblings. But surprisingly, there are people out there that miss this. So, thanks to my extremely large and loving family, I am going back to blogging!

Oh, and for all who think I hate America because I don't live there, harumph - I had a 4th of July themed birthday party to celebrate the wonderful country from which I come.

Special thanks to my mom for the headbands and my aunts who reminded me to shop around at the dollar stores in Buffalo, because they really all have different things.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Iguazu Falls

As most of my avid readers are my extended family, you already know that my parents came to visit me, and together we went on a Brazilian adventure. Our whole trip is going to be broken up into a series of blog posts. To begin with – Iguazu Falls.

I know. Wow. Apparently there are many different versions of this number, but there are around 270 different falls that make up all that is Iguazu. You can view the falls from the Argentine and Brazilian side, and we lucky did both. Don’t forget to get a visa for Brazil (leaving enough time to get it). We first did the Brazilian side, which has amazing views:

Then we went around to the Argentine side to see the devil’s throat:

Then we went back to the Brazilian side to take a boat ride under the falls. This boat ride puts the Maid of the Mist to shame. We sat in a raft and were taken literally under the falls. I couldn’t even breathe. I found myself screaming and holding my mom’s hand the entire time – a position I haven’t found myself in for years. It was fantastic, though I would recommend going on the Brazilian side. The day after we went under the falls, we were told that two Americans died doing the same thing on the Argentine side. Scary.

Iguazu Falls are fantastically beautiful and well worth a trip to see them!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to get a Brazilian Visa in Argentina

I am writing this blog post so that everyone going to Brazil from Argentina does not have to experience the frustrations that have consumed my past two weeks. So, here goes. This is how to actually get a visa (as an American/tourist) to go to Brazil from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Step 1: Do not simply go to the embassy. Especially because you need to go to the Brazilian consulate (they are different). Do not simply go to the consulate. You must make an appointment, which can be done here: http://www.conbrasil.org.ar/CONSBRASIL/visas_otros01engl.asp. Note: appointments take TWO WEEKS to make, so do this sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Fill out forms and print to bring to the consulate during your appointment time. Forms can be found on the same page: http://www.conbrasil.org.ar/CONSBRASIL/visas_otros01engl.asp (scroll down).

Step 3: Have a passport picture, flight information, hotel information and address and bank statement printed and ready to go. Note: your passport picture will be a part of your visa that goes in your passport (I say this because I have quite possibly the worst picture in mine).

Step 4: Go during your appointed time and hand in all forms. On the same day, go to the bank that is on Sante Fe (walk out of the consulate, make a left, walk three blocks to Sante Fe, make a left and walk two blocks). Pay at the bank (about $150 US) and KEEP THE RECEIPT.

Step 5: Three days later return to the consulate with the bank receipt and claim your passport.

After I wrote this it seems easy, but I made the mistake of simply going and asking for a visa. I was oh so rudely turned away (in Spanish, and the same person started speaking in English as soon as I had an appointment).

On that note, I’m off to Brazil!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Day in Tigre

A Day in Tigre A fantastic day trip to get out of the city is jumping on the 40 minute train to Tigre. This transport will cost you less than $1 US round trip – you heard me. You will probably have to stand the whole way, but it’s probably safer than those 15 Euro standing room flights Ryanair proposed (is that still an option?). So, off to the beautiful Tigre!

In Tigre, there is a market, boat rides, an amusement park (unsure when/if that’s open) and more to do. We arrived late in the day so opted for a stroll by the water.

And we consumed many, many licaudos, which I have recently become obsessed with in Argentina.

It was too late for a boat ride, so we just walked and sat and strolled and relaxed. The market didn’t offer much more than other Argentine markets, except puppies to adopt (which I have actually seen in other markets) and my broken heart left behind with them.

Moving on. Tigre is such a great, quick trip away from the city. I believe there is kayaking and such, but I did not partake because I forgot to wear sunscreen and wore a black dress. En serio? Yes. In sum, Tigre gets one big American thumbs up.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Notable Spanish Mishap 4

Bought it thinking it was face wash, used it as body wash and then realized it was lotion.

Yes, it says crema.

Yes, it also says Happy Time.

Yes, my closet is really messy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rains Down in Argentina

I’ve written about the Rwanda rain, which is scary. But the rain in Argentina definitely gives Africa a run for its money (I could insert a joke in here, but I’m going to respectful decline to do so).

One time a friend here told me that people don’t go out when it rains because they are scared to get stranded. After laughing that off, I realized it’s most certainly true, and I will now be one of those people.

The night started off with a drizzle, but soon after sitting at the bar, it started to forcefully come down. Around 4am, when we tried to leave, we realized: There are no cabs and it’s still pouring. So we sent one brave friend off to hail a cab and pick up the rest of us (don’t even, I’m a lady and my Spanish is sub-par). After somehow finding a cab, we all piled in to head home.

Problem was the streets were literally flooded. The cab had to wade through the water as car crashes happened behind us. All I can really compare this to is trying to wade your wagon across the lake in Oregon Trail and tipping..and getting cholera. The cab took us as far as he could, but then we were forced to walk through the water to my apartment building. Well, I am sure glad I live on the 18th floor.

The drains in the city get clogged, which forces the water buildup in the streets. Then, you must walk through all of the dirt and shit (I’m sorry, I’m swearing) because I literally mean dog feces to get to where you want to go. And then, hang up your clothes and jump in the shower because that is dirtyyy. This picture doesn’t even do it justice, but it’s the best we got.

Photo Credit: Caley Bulinski

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Uruguay Part 2: A Day in Colonia

When I typed the title, I accidentally wrote Urugay. Oh come on Nora…

Due to visa issues and the need to do something other than BA while Caley visited, we decided to go to Uruguay. (typed gay again). After the Buquebus adventure, we arrived and said: whaaaat? Our tickets said SIN bus and surprisingly there was no car waiting to pick us up. So to the Thrifty we went. I didn’t bring my license because you know what? That’s not an issue in many countries (except the overburdening US). It wasn’t an issue in Bermuda when my sister and I naively tried to rent mopeds. If I had actually been able to drive in one circle without falling, then I could have driven it off the lot. But noooo Uruguay apparently requires a motorcycle license to get a moped. Fine.

So we all jumped into a golf cart to explore

I, like the 5 year old child I am, immediately had to eat and go to the bathroom. So after touring a bit, I soon forced the group (of 3 of us) to stop to eat.

(Though you may not believe it, I'm not actually going to the bathroom in this picture)

After, we hit a market and drove around some more. Next, like the 5 year old child I am, I insisted on stopping for ice cream. We hit the beach, saw the sites and climbed around a bit:

Jim even grew a mustache along the way:

And then we buqued our way back to our busboat and went home. Colonia is a fantastic day trip, especially in nice weather. There is a lot to explore, but I think one day is enough, as it’s not that big. If you want to get out of the city, I’d definitely recommend Colonia!

Photography Credit: Caley Bulinski