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The adventure begins in Rio after a 19 hour flight. I arrived at the hostel at 11 a.m. and I hopped on a city tour starting at 11:30 a.m. Rest? No way. Our first stop was the Christ the Redeemer statue. Pretty epic!

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Then we went to Santa Teresa. It was beautiful. While I was there I went out for a beer and spoke with some locals about some issues facing the tiny neighborhood…

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I asked them what this picture was. “Why are these stickers everywhere?” I asked. The sticker is a train with a tear. The man I was talking to was visibly heartbroken. He explained to me that the stickers represent the train that used to run through his neighbourhood but was closed because a car hit it and 8 people died. He said there was a political movement to have cars banned from the neighbourhood. “Why should cars be allowed to come here?” he said. “Why can’t people take the train?”

From here we went to Escadaria Selaron. It’s famous now, because Snoog Dog filmed this video there. It was kind of sketchy to be honest. Our tour guide kept saying that if she couldn’t see us, she couldn’t guarantee our safety. Supposedly the neighbourhood above these steps isn’t the safest…

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After a much needed rest and dinner with my tour group, I went to Copacabana Beach. Beautiful.

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From Rio I went to Ilha Grande. The biggest island in Brazil. I hiked to the highest point of the Island and then walked down to Lopes Mendez beach, one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in Brazil.

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These next phtoos showcase Paraty, a small colonial town in Brazil. It’s probably one of my favourite destinations because of all the quaint little shops. I did so much shopping, it’s slightly embarrassing! I’m such a sucker for local products. I bought some clothing, hair accessories and jewelery. I just find it so nice when you walk into a store and the products being sold were made there by the person behind the counter!

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While I was in Paraty I attended the 31st Cachaca festival! I bought a bottle of Gabriela… mm.. delicious!

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Alright. I had to post a picture of me in a bikini… This is a photo from after a kayaking trip in Paraty. My private tour guide for the kayaking trip was super cute 😉

From Paraty I went to the Iguassu Falls. This is the Argentinian side of the falls.

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The next day I went shopping in Paraguay. It’s called the “Black Market” because it’s a tax-free land. So bizarre! I didn’t buy anything at all… I was overwhelmed… and I hate flea markets.

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While I was in Paraguay I asked some people what was going on here. A lot of Brazilians go into Paraguay to buy products and then import them back illegally to sell. They walk over and then hire a car like this one to bring stuff into the country. It was super interesting to see!

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From Paraguay/Brazil, I took an overnight bus into Uruguay and stayed on a ranch… This was probably the most relaxing part of my trip. I sat, drank wine, and did absolutely nothing. While a lot of people used this opportunity to play sports, run, etc., I just sat on my ass and read a book 😉 I read almost all of Palimpsest.

Check out this view! How can I not be blissfully relaxed? I fully intend on printing this picture and framing it… and just an FYI, these are all iPhone 5 photographs. Amazing technology.

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From the ranch I went to Montevideo. I took the initiative to find a good Uruguayan restaurant and met Juan. He’s the owner of a tapas bar and restaurant and suggested this wine. He was eating with his family and came to visit my table to explain the wine pairing (in English). The menu was on an iPad which was pretty cool.

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He wrote this book! I’m going to have to import this wine. I wish they had it at the LCBO.

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Montevideo also has EPIC meat ‘bars’. You walk in, sit down, and order copious amounts of meat. Yum!

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This was a portion for two people. I almost shat myself but surprisingly, we were able to eat most of it!

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While I was traveling I had very limited (to no) WiFi access. Havanna Cafe was my saviour! It’s the Uruguayan and Argentinian version of Starbucks but 10x better. While I was in Argentina I bought 4 jars of Dulce de Leche from them, as well as some Alfajores. I’m addicted to sugar…

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Before going to Argentina, I went to Colonia. It was a cute town, but I could have stayed for 2 hours before heading off to Buenos Aires. It’s mini! It was really cool though because you could see Buenos Aires from Colonia and the architecture there was really beautiful.

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Finally in Buenos Aires, my first stop was at Plaza de Mayo

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I need to take some time to explain the significance of this moment during my trip. While I was there I witnessed the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who were walking to demand that the president release information related to the disappeared during the dictatorship from 1976-1983. Over 30,000 people were disappeared while the British and Argentinians were fighting a war for the Falkland Islands.

The object painted in white on the pavement is meant to represent the hood people wore when they were taken away, usually at night. The signs you can see in the background are political statements made by those young men (usually 18-19 years old) who fought the British during the war for the Islands but aren’t currently recognized by the government as veterans. Their poor, ignored, and living in decrepit conditions.

My heart literally broke in two as I washed the mothers (now in their 80s and 90s) walk and name those who have disappeared: their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, and lovers. Each week they read a different set of names.

During the dictatorship many young women were taken away. Women who, at times, were pregnant. Or women who after being raped in concentration camps became pregnant. Those who gave birth while in the concentration camps were given away. They’ve identified about 100 of the stolen babies, but 400 still remain missing. Those mothers are also seeking justice.

Below you’ll see the art that represents the young men who fought in the Falkland Islands war. So strong. So political. Fierce. Demanding.

 Witnessing these struggles made me realize I don’t know enough about Latin American histories. It was jarring…moving…heartbreaking simultaneously.

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After visiting Plaza de Mayo, eating dinner, and processing what I had seen, I went to Konex to see La Bomba de Tiempo. This was the highlight of my entire trip. Konex is a club, but they host La Bomba every Monday evening. Considering I was staying in Buenos Aires for 10 days I got to see them twice! I was sooooooooo happy. They are AMAZING.

I don’t dance very well, or very often, but I found myself swaying and dancing to the rhythm of the music for the entire 2 hour concert. I was in a trance.

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I visited La Boca in Buenos Aires too! It was really nice.

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I also visited the grave of Eva Peron in La Recoleta cemetery.

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This was a kitty I found sleeping in La Recoleta… SO ADORABLE! OMG! *giggles*

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This is El Ateneo. The 2nd most beautiful bookstore in the world located in Buenos Aires.

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This it the Gran Cafe Tortini. The birth place of contemporary tango!

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This was a super cool graffiti bar.

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I took over 750 photographs while I was on this trip, so this only represents a small sample of them. I have to admit that I’m really (really) happy to be home… the transiency and temporariness of the relationships I established while traveling really got to me after a while. I found myself both lonesome and surrounded by people simultaneously. I wanted to sleep in my bed, and be surrounded by my friends, families, and lovers. Although there was always the promise to stay in touch with the people I met, I wonder how much of it was simply something you say to be polite. Will I stay in touch with all those wonderful people? I wonder. I hope so.

There’s no place like home. I’m so happy to be sitting at my desk right now!

I’ve missed you, and I hope you see you soon, Nat xox

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