I don't have any travels planned currently, but follow my life adventures at arabianights.tumblr.com!
The most accurate words to describe my feelings toward travel yet. As quoted to me by
Apparently I’m treating my posts as “ethnic timed,” which is how “I’m posting next weekend, promise!” turned into a few weeks later.
Anyway, I digress and I’m here, finally posting about my week-long vacation in Nairobi.
So one might ask, “why Kenya?” Besides the fact that probably 75% of the world’s countries are on my bucket list, my friend Tiffany was doing a Kiva fellowship there, and it was the perfect opportunity to visit while having a pseudo tour guide.
24 hours after boarding my plane at LAX, I touched down at NBO. I promptly realized that although Tiffany did have my flight information, I did not have any way to contact her without wifi. Rookie mistake huh? To my relief, she showed up shortly after.
On the ride home, I recalled a few first impressions:
- Really great roads to and from the airport. Everywhere else, not so much.
-Same goes for street lights
-It was actually kind of chilly in March. I’d expected a similar climate to Sudan, which is HOT all year round.
-Everyone spoke English really well. I was later told that it is taught side-by-side with Swahili from primary school onwards.
Good first impressions so far! What really cinched it for me was Tiff’s apartment that she shared with a couple of coworkers. Gated security and a gorgeous, loft-style space. Was I really in Africa? The expats live a good life there.
At that point, we sat down and chatted about what I / we would do for the rest of the week.
What started as “I’ll do some touristy things and accompany you to work meetings” turned into “Come on all these crazy adventures with me! and work in between.”
Lunch and inspiration from Amani ya Juu, a women’s collective in the heart of Nairobi
Riding through Ngong Hills on motorbikes and getting “Simba” face-painted by a Masaai tribalwoman….then eating FRESH goat for lunch
the unique opportunity to visit a school for girls in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. One of the saddest and simultaneously most inspiring places I’ve been to. These kids will do great things one day.
High Tea the Giraffe Manor and a safari at Nairobi National Park - an unforgettable ending to an unforgettable trip!
Pictures speak a thousand words they say, yet it is hard for pictures to do Kenya justice. It’s a land filled with incredibly kind-hearted people, endless wisdom, and adventure at every turn. I was fortunate to be able to experience both tourist and expat life in my week long adventure. Although neither of these experiences are the true experiences of a native Kenyan, I was definitely lucky to get a slice of Kenyan beauty and wisdom.
As they say in Kenya “sawa sawa” (all good!)
It has been over a year since my last post on here, which is a shame. I really do need to start including domestic travel as an adventure too because America in and of itself is like a few countries.
But I digress. I solemnly swear to write two blog posts this weekend - one for each week I just spent in Kenya and Morocco.
As the Kenyans would say, “sawa sawa!” (all good!)
I’m currently sitting at my home in Los Angeles, listening to latin music and uncomfortably aware that I did not blog about my last week in Chile. Oops.
Instead of blogging about what I did on a daily basis—which was a lot (Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, the fashion museum, Cerros, markets, yadda, yadda), I think it’s time for me to reflect now that all of my planned travels have come to an end.
Today, while I had dinner with my friend Alice, she commented that I’m so full of wisdom about people. While I don’t think that is necessarily true, I do think that any knowledge that I have and will continue to learn has stemmed from all of my experiences.
I am well aware of how lucky I am. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places in the world and have spent time with many wonderful people who have welcomed me into their cultures and eagerly taught me the ways of their worlds.
In the two weeks I spent in Chile, I enjoyed myself tremendously. Not because of all of the crazy things there are to do in Santiago. But rather, I enjoyed spending time with people-learning, laughing, dancing, speaking. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that in all of my experiences abroad, it has always been the people that make the adventures so fun.
I learned the most ridiculous Chileanisms, went out dancing with my teachers, cooked food for all my housemates, and ate meat that had been slow-cooked in a pit. And yet, without the friends I made along the way, I don’t think I would have enjoyed these experiences half as much.
So to everyone who was ever a part of my traveling experiences, thank you. Thank you for the lessons, the fun, and the experience.
I am blessed, I am humbled, and I am thankful.
As much as I liked Argentina, there are certain characteristics of Chile that are so much better!
In the past few days I’ve made plenty of new friends from school and we’ve all gone out and done a bunch of touristy things together which is great! It’s a nice change to be part of a big group rather than a duo for most of the time.
We ate SUPER fresh seafood at the seafood market yesterday. Cheap and delicious. My past two trips have really given me a newfound appreciate for fish. Afterwards, a bunch of us went to Cerro San Cristobal, where we took a bus to the top of the hill for an amazing view of the city before walking all the way back down. I discovered that they sell magnum ice cream here which was exciting…they really need to make it in the U.S.
Because we all walked so much, we all bonded a lot! Well, that and the fact that we talk about philosophy during conversation class. But it’s great to have a group that I so instantly clicked with.
Today was more chill. We went to Pablo Neruda (a famous Chilean poet’s) 2nd out of 3 houses. It was really interesting to see the eclectic and oftentimes narcissistic decorations and get a peek inside the mind of such a famous poet. In addition, his house was modeled after a boat which made for a cozy feeling. By the time we got home, it was evening time and we hung out with everyone at Casa Loca before bed.
Lazy sundays are often appreciated as a special treat, like this past Monday (holiday).
Alaa, Lydia (our friend from ECELA BA), and I casually strolled to Plaza de Armas and on the way encountered many lovely parks. We chose to sit in one and bask in all the glory that is primavera (spring) in Santiago and take in our surroundings, which included many a stray dog and many too-passionate couples.
After escaping some interesting gypsies (one who apparently has a son in Los Angeles), we stumbled upon a gorgeous fountain and took some photos. One helado later, we reached Plaza de Armas, where we spent some time people-watching and looking at local art. It was really a day of observation of Chilean culture—clothing, mannerisms, food, etc.
Today, Tuesday, was our first day of classes. Our first teacher was super (they love the word super here) cool and fun, but I loved my conversation class. The teacher was young and casual, but he structured the class in an excellent way to force us to talk about broad and abstract topics. After our class and welcome lunch, we went to change money then back to a short convo makeup class which was great for meeting more people.
Later in the evening, Alaa, Lydia, and our roommates Birgit and Georgia all headed over to a seafood restaurant to meet up with our BA roommate Angke. Unfortunately the seafood restaurant was out of fish (#southamericaproblems) and after much searching, we ended up at a pizzeria, surrounded by men watching the Chile-Argentina futbol game (Chile lost, uh oh). After we paid, the weirdest thing happened. The waitress brought back our receipt and asked for a larger tip! We were all so surprised because we knew that waitresses get paid a standard salary and we all tipped to be nice but the woman had the gall to ask for more. Lydia is from Singapore and said she was too surprised but the majority of us were shocked. Nonetheless, we added more money and headed home.
Today, one of our teachers asked us what surprised us the most about Chile. Thus far, I’ve made several observations:
-a bit cheaper for groceries, but much more expensive to eat out than in Argentina (and even some places in the U.S.)
-a lot less conservative than I thought—exemplified by all the couples making out at the parks
-extremely fast speaking
-the city is a lot quieter and slow-paced
Have yet to decide which one I like more so far, although I don’t see either city as somewhere I could live permanently. Who knows!
Ciao from la casa loca,
First two days in Santiago have included:
-Moving into a giant house of 12 people and 1 dog named Primavera
-Meeting about half of my housemates, all of whom are really nice
-Speaking mucho espanol con los Brazilianos
-Lots of walking in the city
-and last, but definitely not least, rocking out to Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls with my housemates
I think I’m going to like it here!
That’s all (for now) folks!
For the majority of my time here, I wasn’t sure how much I liked Buenos Aires.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the friends I made, the adventures I had, the spanish I learned, and of course the steak and empanadas I ate.
But for the longest time, I wasn’t sure if BA had captured my heart like some of the other cities I lived in over the past few years. But after much thought, I realize it has indeed. Although the people are much more European than Latin, BA still manages to retain a sense of latin spiciness (that is lacking in its food).
Would I live here? Probably not. Did I enjoy my time? Definitely. And I would probably come back with friends. For some steak, for some tango, and as my professor once said, to a be a “chica que caminas con salsa.”
With my last class under my belt (in an ice cream shop, nonetheless) and some tango tonight, I think I’ve really gotten a taste of Argentina.
As the Argentinean say, there are no goodbyes Only, hasta luego.
And now, I’m off to Santiago!
The past few days have been so busy! I realize now I’m just losing track of where I’m going which is ridiculous. Alaa and I are super efficient!
On Wednesday, we took our first city bus over to La Boca, home of the cute colored houses, tango, and a supposedly amazing futbol team, the La Boca Juniors. La Boca is essentially made up of two tiny streets of colored houses, but the long ride was so worth it. The houses were adorable, and there were a ton of street vendors selling local art. Alaa and I each bought a few things.
Thursday was a bright and sunny day, so we trekked all the way to Puerto Madero, the port side of Buenos Aires, and walked around. We spent more time walking to the port than actually there, but it was nice to enjoy the sunshine. All the buildings and boats looked so new that we could have easily been at any port city in the world. We even made it home early enough to go to tango and salsa that evening! Needless to say, we’re both officially hooked. The classes are so fun and such a good stress reliever. I am seriously contemplating going when I get back to the U.S!
On Friday, we got back from school and packed for our weekend Patagonia trip. We took another 18 hour bus ride to Puerto Madryn, a smallish city in the state of Chubut. The city was super adorable, and had such an air of relaxation about it. We walked all along the beach and 3 dogs followed us for an hour. We walked all the way to the end of the pier where it was FREEZING. Flashback to Ireland.
The next day we did an all day tour to see the penguins. On our first stop, we were were warned that we would be sans lunch for the day so we should get something prepared. But of course, there was nothing but ham and cheese sandwiches. It’s the most popular option here, and I’ve seen very few meals without ham. So crazy! Needless to say, there were a lot of cookies consumed that day. On our next stop, Alaa and I decided against the boat tour because we both get seasick. Instead, we sat at a little cafe and walked up to the beach which was so pretty and clean (and cold of course!). Our next stop was to see the penguins! We walked through this penguin sanctuary thing where all the penguins just hang out with some llamas and have a good time. So great.
Our last stop was this welsh community village where they are known for growing wheat and having welsh tea parties. It’s still mind-blowing that a group of people just decided they were going to up and move to Patagonia one day. Anyways, on the bus ride back we got to try mate cocido! Mate (mah-tay) is a really popular herb here, basically like herbal tea. The tour guide explained that there are very specific ways to drink it (with one hand, through a special straw, without stirring it, etc). We were honored to drink mate in the “Argentinean way.”
Finally, we made it back in time to shower and eat some sad Mexican food (first stop when I get home, people) and hop on the long bus ride home.
I can’t believe this is already my last week in Buenos Aires! It went by so so fast. But I still have lots of tango and steak to look forward to for the next few days before Santiago!
As they say in BA, ciao, ciao!
Yesterday we went to the most beautiful bookstore I’ve ever seen, called El Ateneo. It used to be a theatre back in the day, and now it has been renovated into a bookshop. All the box seats are cozy reading rooms, and the stage has been transformed into a cafe. It is stunning. I know where I would be if I wanted a reading day!
At night, we went back to school where we learned to make empanadas. It was a lively group of about a dozen people, and by the end we were all great friends. That’s what I love about programs like these. Everyone is always so friendly, which makes it easy to have a great social group. And the empanadas were delicious if I do say so myself.
This morning, it rained a ton, so Alaa and I decided to finally go to the Museo de Bellas Artes. After class, we met up with 3 others and had lunch at Maria de Bambi. Bambi was apparently a famous restaurant in BA and Maria was the head chef. So when it closed, she opened her own restaurant. Such a cute story. Maria herself was there and sat down and even took a photo with us! We all ordered milanesa (breaded meat) and it was the best milanesa we’ve had in BA. Afterwards, we headed over to be culturally enriched at the museum.
By then it was evening time already and too late to tango so we headed home instead.