Archive | July, 2011

If Marlow had wifi…

26 Jul

In the first grade, my class spent a few weeks learning about the rainforest.  We even successfully executed our own production of The Great Kapok TreeI played a very convincing bumble bee. Sixteen years later, my siblings and I decided to round off our Argentinian adventure with a visit to the exotic, semi-remote Iguazu Falls.

Based on my extensive knowledge on the South American wilderness, I knew how to prepare for our hike through the jungle. The morning of our expedition, my sister and I donned athletic gear and packed my North Face backpack with vittles and survival essentials. We shamelessly piled our plates with chocolate cake at the hotel’s breakfast buffet (carbo-loading.) We even mentally prepared ourselves by engaging in a freestyle smack talk rap battle. Yo. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the jungle! We were ready to conquer this waterfall. My brother, on the other hand, did not share our mindset. I mean, he wanted to wear flip flops on the trek. How are you going to outrun a jaguar in sandals? Amateur.

Ancient tribal ceremonial site or amphitheater for the 1:30 exotic bird show?

When we arrived at the park, I realized that we were not actually in the Argentinian heart of darknesswe were at Disneyland. First of all, though we left Buenos Aires to seek refuge from the city’s hoards of people, the crowds found us here in Iguazu. (Evidently, the national park isn’t a secret!) The other tourists, sporting heels and sundresses, did not seem to be taking the hike that seriously. Plus, despite the natural surroundings, the park itself felt artificially rugged, like a jungle-themed amusement park.

Where were the exotic flora and fauna? Pathways to danger? Excitement? Instead, all I could see were colorful signs, paved trails and food courts, selling overpriced concessions.

Oh yeah, and amazing views.

Every time we passed one of these bad boys, I couldn't help but look for branches or rocks in the water that I could cling to should I fall in. Survival instinct.

Two thumbs up! Fun for the whole family.

Eat, Eat, Eat.

22 Jul

Today, a cab driver told me that the men here in Buenos Aires understand that Argentinian food is the best but the women are too busy dieting to appreciate the cuisine. Believe me, I’ve been too busy stuffing my face with chocolate covered churros filled with dulce de leche, glorious glorious meat and empanadas to even consider holding back. Who needs to diet when you can just put on the pants with the elastic waistband? I’m basically having an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience minus spiritualism, minus the romance. Yes, my travels are less cathartic than they are caloric.

(Meat) sweatpants

This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not deathly afraid of returning to the States, looking like the small cow that I have undoubtedly consumed over the past week. And as this is obviously not the time and place for dieting, I must resort to exercise to remain human-shaped. Fortunately, our apartment complex has a rooftop gym. Unfortunately, this otherwise lovely building is home to the crappiest treadmill in the entire world.

Crappiest? That’s an awfully bold statement to make, you say? Well, trust me. If you had to run on it, you’d be on my side. I don’t particularly enjoy running and this treadmill isn’t sweetening the deal. First of all, the display doesn’t work, which means that you can’t tell how far or how long you’ve run.

This face accurately depicts how I feel about this treadmill.

But hey, we know that rate x time = distance, so as long as you carry your own watch you should theoretically be able to calculate your distance, right? Who needs a working display? I do…unless someone can tell me how fast a “fat burn” pace is.

The devil machine's speed adjuster.

Plus, unless they have their own personal televisions, treadmills, in general, bore me. This particular treadmill does not contain a TV but it does face a floor-length mirror. This way, I can admire my sweaty unattractiveness while suffering excruciating boredom. The other day, I literally had to yell (aloud) “KEEP RUNNING!!!” to keep myself from quitting. Mirror Courtney was looking pretty beat.

Is Argentinian food really worth all this trauma?

Decorative "sugar" crystals? Nope, it has to be meth. It's the only reasonable explanation as to why these churros are so addicting!

Why yes, yes it is.

Have you missed me? Well don’t cry…for me…Argentina.

17 Jul

My brother, sister and I recently arrived in Buenos Aires, beginning our two week adventure of sibling bonding, bickering and bullying. With the help of a 15 hour rejuvenating sleep, a little bit of wine and a lot of beef, we’re finally appreciating the city and its wonderful offerings. To enhance our Argentinian experience, we have attempted to adopt the local lifestyle and you know, blend in. However, I am gradually realizing that this goal of “blending in” is a merely pipe dream, because despite our greatest efforts, we are unfortunately not going to fool anyone.

"No hablo español :("

First of all, the three of us collectively have a at most, rudimentary grasp of Spanish language, (although our miming skills are becoming increasingly sophisticated.) My brother, the most advanced, repeatedly responds “Gracias Señor” when he runs out of things to say. And, while I looked up how to say “How much is this?” in Spanish, I soon learned that it’s a pretty useless phrase if you can’t count past ten.

Me: ¿Cuánto es?

Woman: Ciento cuarenta pesos

Me: ¿?¿?¿?¿?!

Woman: One hundred and forty.

Plus, coupled with our lack of Spanish-speaking abilities, our colorful city map, which we cling to like a security blanket, clearly designates us as tourists.

To top it all off, my sister keeps screaming in public about how she wants more “chocolate con churro.”I don’t think locals (or normal people, in general) get this hyped up about churros and hot chocolate. Calm the f down, Shelby.

Meet my future brother-in-law, "Chocolate Con Churro"

In my sister’s defense, I think being irrationally excited runs in the family, especially in light of my own life-changing discovery: Buenos Aires’s flourishing back-alley mannequin market. On our way to buy Harry Potter 7 tickets yesterday (“tres tickets por Harry Potter, por favor”), we encountered an alley filled with various shops selling mannequins: big ones, small ones, fat ones,  tall ones. Super PC. I felt like I was trapped in a Dr. Seuss book about mannequins and my emotions ran rampant; I felt sorrow, excitement, enchantment, horror and inspiration, all at once. I am pretty sure my brother and sister were more unsettled by my enthusiasm than by the actual mannequins. I would have included a picture of the mannequins for you but they were naked, and this blog is classy. And I may have forgotten to take a picture. Let me assure you, it was awesome.

Are real Argentinians this amazed by creepy plastic bodies? If so, then I daresay I’m actually on my way to fitting in.

iPhone? Soooo over it…

10 Jul

I blame my miniature blog hiatus on my recent trip to New York City. Unfortunately, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of deprived me of all creative inspiration and instead, motivated me to spend my days shrinking my wallet and fattening my waistline.

NYC was exactly how I imagined it would be - a life-size Gossip Girl set and therefore obviously, a dream come true. Please refer to me as "C" from now on.

I learned a few important life lessons on this very educational trip:

1) New Yorkers think it’s creepy if you smile too much. (Don’t do it!)

2) Your friends think it’s creepy if you constantly text them random pictures of cats (with captions like, “Meow! Thinking of you at the Met!”)

3) “Cash Cab” is apparently a hoax. (There goes my innocence and child-like wonder.)

4) If you tug on the ears of the Mickey Mouse mascot in Times Square, he WILL curse at you and flip you the bird. (For the record, I was just a witness in this scenario.)

5) Smartphones are really really useful.

You see, I have yet to jump on the smartphone bandwagon. I swear it’s not my fault. My parents refused to get a computer until 2001, and we were using dial-up until 2005. I’m a just product of my environment. It wasn’t until this past week, that I truly understood the necessity of owning one of these gadgets. Apparently, a smartphone can provide you with directions to show your cab driver. It can help you Yelp a new restaurant in Little Italy. It can even lead you to said restaurant, sparing you the exhaustion of aimlessly wandering the streets after your brother abandons you. But, I’m sure you already know all this because you, unlike me, do not flee from technology.

2005's finest!

Instead, I’ve been using my cousin’s friend’s old LG flip phone. (Thanks for hooking it up, Shannon!) While it’s incredibly reminiscent of my first cellphone, it allows me to call, text and even take low-quality pictures (of cats.) It’s good enough for me, but it’s no smartphone. Consequently, I was surprised to receive so many compliments on it in New York. After a few “cool phone” comments, I picked up on Lesson #6: There are A LOT of hipsters in New York. I’ve concluded that they must think I’m using the phone ironically…which I’m not. And this is why (contrary to the title of this post) I need an iPhone.