Florals? For spring, I mean winter? Groundbreaking.

tenor
But how about for invierno, Miranda?

The only thing better than the good aires in Buenos Aires are the good flowers. It’s hard to believe that this is what they call “winter” in this amazing city.

Almost every street corner in Buenos Aires features a beautiful flower stand. The gardens of Palermo are also still stunning. I’ve loved walking around the city and encountering beautiful flora everywhere I go. Here are some shots from the Botanical Garden as well as the Rosedal of Palermo. 

The tomb of Evita, Argentina’s most famous lady is likewise beautifully decked with florals. I’m fascinated by Eva Peron and plan on writing about her in another post very soon!

For now though, let’s all remember the importance of stopping to smell the flowers every once in a while.

A trip to Tigre

In 1492, Columbus sailed the Ocean blue, yada yada yada. We all know how the tale goes. Columbus, in search of a western route to Asia, found himself in the Caribbean. Thinking he had reached his destination, he immediately labeled the natives he encountered Indians before realising that he had in fact landed somewhere half a world away from India.

In a similar fashion, when European settlers first reached the river delta just outside of what is today Buenos Aires, they were greeted by locals. This time, in the form of fearsome jaguars. Quite literally for lack of a better word, they reported that the area was full of tigers and consequently named their settlement Tigre.

IMG_6930
A wonderful scene by the river.

Last Tuesday, my friends and I all got a day off work for el Dia de la Bandera, Argentine flag day. We hopped on a train and decided to take a little break from the city. We encountered neither jaguars nor tigers on our trip save for little tiger logos on flags around this charming little settlement.  Instead, we were treated to beautiful views of riverside houses, walks along the promenade, and churros. Lots and lots of churros!

IMG_6962
A basket of magnificent churros

After a river tour around the delta in a lancha, we gorged ourselves on steak and pasta before walking to the local museum to work it all off. As ~cultured~ as we are, we are first and foremost stingy college kids and we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay to go in. Instead, we just wandered around outside the gorgeous building. Looks a bit like a haunted house no?

Photographers call the hour around sunset the blue hour. Normal people simply call this twilight. Regardless of what you call this precious time of day, the sight of the sun slowly sinking into the river, the gradual painting of the sky in shades of orange before giving way to an eerie blue, is universally beautiful. These photos don’t do it justice:

Happy to have spent a perfect day in Tigre, sans big cats and all.

IMG_6976
With the wonderful Nat ❤

An important reminder:

I stumbled upon this beautiful piece of street art the other day while wandering around Palermo Soho, the chicest barrio of Buenos Aires:

IMG_6699
“Mujer ¡Empiece una revolución! Ame su cuerpo”

It reads: “Woman! Start a revolution! Love your body!”

Wow. What an important reminder to us all.

I am currently doing a 2 month internship in Buenos Aires at ELA, el Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (The Latin American League for Gender Justice), an Argentine NGO dedicated to improving women’s rights, increasing female political participation, and bettering the lives of Argentine women. It’s a great organization and I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with them. I am very excited to learn more about women’s rights in this country and to learn about how advocacy groups operate and fight to make the world a better place.

I also encountered another more sobering reminder while walking the streets of Buenos Aires:

IMG_6646
“1 femicidio cada 24 horas – Vivas nos queremos!”

It reads: “One femicide every 24 hours – We want to Live!”

Estimates put the rate of femicide in Argentina, or the killing of females due to their gender or factors related to their gender, at somewhere between one every 18-24 hours. That. Can’t. Stand. The fight for women’s rights is one that very much must still be fought and I am constantly in awe of my colleagues at ELA for the work that they do.

It’s safe to say that  I have been inspired by the incredible street art in Buenos Aires. The following photo was taken in La Boca, a colorful old barrio. Notice that little hood in right corner? That’s the symbol for Las Madres, a group of mothers who’s children were “disappeared” by the government during Argentina’s Guerra Sucia (“Dirty War”) of the 70s.

IMG_6670

To this very day, las madres gather in the Plaza de Mayo every Thursday to publicly protest government corruption and to raise awareness for los desaparecidos, the term given to the dissidents that were taken against their will. The whole topic of the Dirty War is still quite controversial and it has been interesting talking to locals and hearing a wide range of opinions. I hope to head to the Plaza de Mayo myself one of these Thursdays to hear directly from these brave women.

Until I do though, here are some pics of other beautiful street art – work that reminds us that as much as art can be political, it can also just be beautiful.

That one time my dad vomited in the Great Barrier Reef…

You know what, I’m just going to leave it at that. The title definitely speaks for itself.

I am however very excited to announce that I will be back in Australia in mid-August to run the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) conference in Sydney. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve glowed up a bit since I was last in this country.

FullSizeRender

Excited to have more adventures down under and will be posting about them here!

In the meantime, here are some photos from last year’s Asia conference held in Hong Kong (the greatest city ever):

IMG_5712IMG_5713IMG_5724

*Featured image sourced from Flickr

Exploring the Feria de Mataderos

I’m a firm believer in delayed gratification. The longer you have to wait for something, the better it is when you eventually obtain it. At least, that’s what I told myself as I banged my head yet again against the window of the rickety collectivo (public bus) that I was standing on. It was one of Olenka’s, my amazing host sister here in Buenos Aires, last day in the city and she had invited me to tag along with her and her friends to the Feria de Mataderos, a Sunday fair in a working-class barrio (neighborhood) of the city. I instantly leaped at the opportunity to explore another part of the city and to indulge in some good street food.

However, as the six of us rattled around the inside of the collectivo like clothing in a washing machine for about an hour, I remember thinking to myself “damn, I hope this is worth it”. It. So. Was.

Here are some snapshots that I managed to take in between shamelessly asking for free samples and downing desserts:

Is there anything better than a fresh panqueque (crepe) smothered in dulce de leche? How bout this beautiful little chocolate covered churro, filled with, you guessed it, more dulce de leche? Olenka’s friend Isa also got this divine waffle (at this point, you can just assume that all the desserts have dulce de leche).

There was also meat galore! I had a juicy empanada while also stealing some of Olenka’s boyfriends beef stew. Nothing like a warm guiso on a blustery day.

I highly recommend making the trip down to Mataderos if you find yourself in Buenos Aires. The fair has real character to it with elderly gauchos dressed in full gear dancing in the square and live music to match. Thank you so much to Olenka for inviting me and for also helping me adjust to life here in Argentina! Te extraño muchissimo! Besos!

IMG_6911
Bad lighting, great ~sisterhood~

That one time I was naked in Nafplio…

That one time…

Most of the world’s best stories start with the same four words: “Remember that one time…?”. Say these four words out loud and I’ll bet that your mind fills in the blank the same way google suggested answers pop up in your web browser. This column is dedicated to some of my “that one time” moments. Some (most) of these moments are embarrassing, some are hilarious, some are truly moving, and all of them are truly memorable.


That one time I was naked in Nafplio

Archaeological evidence, and this video by Buzzfeed’s the Try Guys, have proven that the Ancient Greeks were rather fond of doing many activities in the nude. Wrestling, running, dancing, you name it. It would appear that our current conceptions of nudity and public decency are quite different from that of our ancient Greek counterparts.

So, it only seems fitting that I would find myself butt naked on a public beach while studying abroad in Nafplio, Greece.

I can safely say that my five weeks in Greece with a Harvard study abroad program were some of the happiest of my life. As I write this, it’s hard to believe that this time last year I had yet to experience the joy of travelling and studying around Greece with a group of then-strangers who I would now consider some of my best friends. It’s amazing how much bonding occurs during long bus rides, hungover museum tours, and meals consisting of endless amounts of feta cheese.

We bonded to the point that the idea of midnight skinny dipping together really didn’t phase me at all. And so, one night, after a couple swigs from plastic bottles of wine  (still better than Yellowtail), we all trooped towards the beach, stripped down to our birthday suits, and ran screaming into the cool Mediterranean waters.

There’s something very freeing about skinny dipping. While submerged in the water with nothing to separate me from the waves, I felt a profound sense of contentment. Like many, I’ve had moments of doubt where my body image really takes a hit. Late night pizza and the freshman fifteen really hit me hard and I’ve struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle ever since going to college.

But in that moment, naked beneath the waves and the stars, I came to the realisation that a body is really just a body. I was drunk on self-love and on the sheer ridiculousness of it all (and let’s not forget the wine). I felt fully comfortable in my own skin and nothing more.

There are plenty of other moments of great happiness from my time in Greece that I hope to share here soon. For now though, here are some photos of my favourite memories from my time there. Luckily for you, and for everyone else on that trip for that matter, there are no photos of that one time we embraced Ancient Greek tradition and bared it all under the Mediterranean moonlight.

IMG_1738
While I don’t have pics of us skinny dipping, THIS exists and is arguably more shameful than anything to do with public nudity.

That one time I became a crazy cat lady…

That one time…

Most of the world’s best stories start with the same four words: “Remember that one time…?”. Say these four words out loud and I’ll bet that your mind fills in the blank the same way google suggested answers pop up in your web browser. This column is dedicated to some of my “that one time” moments. Some (most) of these moments are embarrassing, some are hilarious, some are truly moving, and all of them are truly memorable.


That one time I became a crazy cat lady

I didn’t think it would come to this. Not so soon at the very least. After all, I’m a young, good looking (?), adventurous traveler, on a trip to “discover yourself” and the world. And yet here I was, sipping matcha out of a dainty teacup, and completely surrounded by cats, the only meaningful contact I’ve had in weeks. I’ve found myself in one of Tokyo’s famous cat cafes and I’m asking yourself, is this my final form?

On a recent trip to Tokyo, I somehow convinced my parents that we had to go to a cat cafe. Mom, as always, was game. Dad on the other hand took some convincing.

“If we see one we’ll go,” he said, “but I’m not going to walk around specifically just to find one.” As luck would have it, we saw one in Shinjuku. And so we went. You know, it was a “if you build it, we will come” sort of deal.  The Mocha Cat Cafe was complete with food, drinks, and of course, cats. The whimsical spot was a great respite from the overwhelming hordes of people and the big city vibes of Japan’s biggest metropolis. Upon entering, we took off our shoes, paid a time-based entrance fee, and found ourselves in a incredibly cute little space with a literal tree of cats.

To my slight disappointment though, the feline stars of the show barely looked up to acknowledge me. I suppose they’re used to the attention and frankly don’t give a fuck. Nonetheless, I was enchanted and found myself trying to draw as many of the kitties to me, stroking, patting, and bringing out my best “baby talk”.

Though the world’s first cat café opened in Taipei in 1998, the concept really blossomed in Japan and is now engrained in Tokyo culture. Now don’t jump to the conclusion that this is just a Hello Kitty fetish gone too far. Cat cafes make sense in a city notorious for small apartments, pet-forbidding landlords, and lonely people. There’s a cat café for everyone in this city. There are some that specialize in obscure breeds, in fat cats (hopefully just referring to the cats and not the customers), and even in ex-stray cats. Some cafes even create online profiles for their feline residents, complete with headshots and baby kitty pics that put your Tinder page to shame. PETA freaks can rest easy knowing that every cat café in Japan is required to have a license and is regulated by the country’s Animal Treatment and Protection Law.

Strict regulations have not stopped cat cafes from opening at an astonishing rate, and honestly, after about five minutes in one of these magical little establishments, I totally understood why. There’s a simple joy in being a crazy cat lady, even if just for an hour or so. As I left, I felt revitalized. And yet I wondered, was that just a brief break from the real world? Or was it a dry-run for the inevitable?

IMG_4761
Three happy Chius post-cat lady experience!