argentina

Today seems as fitting a day as any to spit out a last-minute blog post on Argentina, my *third* culture, as today is my host brother's birthday. FELIZ CUMPLE FACUNDO si estás intentando leer esto :D

I guess it's clear at this point that vegetarianism went out the window as soon as I made it to my host family's house. They're hardcore Argentinian in the sense that when they eat meat (which they do every day), they go all out. (I've been very good since coming back to Germany though!)

Argentina and Argentinian culture is dear to my heart, even though I as an American am often not so dear to many Argentinians :P but my family and friends there make it a place I will always go back to, and that I will probably send my children back to too. It's a very passionate culture, and a very passionate people. I keep in touch by drinking mate every morning out of my own little gourd as seen above. My (American) mother thinks this is weird and that it tastes like dirt. I think it's the best alternative to coffee known to man, plus I like the taste of dirt I guess.

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valparaíso

I was reminded of my few days in Valparaíso this week when a fellow traveler I met while wandering through the city dropped through Berlin for coffee and falafel. I always had a hunch I would like Valparaíso, and it was not so far off from the truth... I did not, however, enjoy the inflated coffee prices, especially coupled with the fact that it often seemed to be instant coffee. Harumph.

But if there's one single thing you need to know about this city, it's that Valpo likes street art. Giant, amazing, murals are at every turn, as well as a good workout around half of them (if uphill-walking is your thing, you're in luck). The best street artists from all over the world flock to Valparaíso to cover its walls according to an intricate set of well-accepted rules about who's allowed to paint where and when and, presumably, to enjoy some great views and overpriced meals. It was also where Pablo Neruda had one of his many residences, worth visiting if you're into finding out about the more scandalous sexcapades of a man who can melt the hardest of us with words.

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san pedro de atacama, chile

Holy crap I have so insufferably much to do it's questionable whether I should make time for a coffee, which of course means my instagram is suffering. But Friday we're throwing our first house party, complete with DJ and decorations. We've got some unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate?) couchsurfers on the spare mattress in the living room who certainly won't be getting any sleep, and I've just gotten ahold of yet another string of Christmas lights to make sure the party is extra sparkly, just like the Atacama sky at night.

Ahh, yes. Atacama is meant to be one of the gems of South America, but I found it to be a rather boring desert actually. But that's what happens when you get your expectations up too high - you really feel the down when you realize there will be no rolling hills of sand, but rather just endless rocks. I did rather like the flamingo-littered salt flats, but that just speaks once again to my penchant for anything that crystallizes, I suppose. I'm equally enthusiastic about rock candy and Swarovski.

And yes, those are alpaca skewers. No, I did not partake, because I am vegetarian and also I already tried a bite in Peru. It tasted kind of like beef.

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cañón del colca, perú

Next stop on my lonely, winding adventure was Colca Canyon, land of the llamas/alpacas/vicuñas/who knows which are what. The most famous part of this 4000+-meter deep canyon (that's more than twice the Grand Canyon, y'all) is the Cruz del Condor, where you can see some pretty badass birds put on a show. We were told they're pretty shy... but I'd say they were pretty show off-y. Anyways, don't take my word for it, but do make sure you don't make the mistake I did and sign up for the trekking tour if you wanted to go all the way down in there, because although our tour-guide team of Percy 1 and Percy 2 was highly entertaining, the hour and a half you spend in the actual canyon is not worth the hefty entrance fee even at the South American rate. But at least you should get to see lots of adorable fuzzy creatures, plus alpacas are totally one of those things the internet is obsessed with so it's probably good for your instagram.

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machu picchu

At this point I've got a horrible backlog of South America photos and an equally horrible number of projects and papers and impending exams piling up for the next couple of weeks, so the outlook for blogging looks grim. But hay, I went to Machu Picchu and, obviously, I need the whole internet to know. Check it out.

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