Back in Rio, via Buenos Aires

So I’m temporarily back in Rio de Janeiro for the next three weeks after three months of being away in Peru, as Natasha has some work in Brazil before we head to Belize.

We decided to take a trip to Buenos Aires on the way back from Cusco, because the cost of a flight with a layover there was not significantly more than a direct flight to Rio. So, yey, surprise Argentina visit. It also helped that one of Natasha’s uni friends was on a internship in the city, so we got to see her again while we were there.

    We took an hour long flight back to Lima, with just enough time for a quick lomo saltado and a pisco sour at the Bonbonniere restaurant conveniently right next to our gate, before taking the five hour flight to Buenos Aires. There was a slight incident with me accidentally overstaying my visa by 30 days (hint: tell immigration officials how long you want; don’t assume they’ll give you the full 183 days. I only got 60, but didn’t realise). The only issue was paying a $1 a day fine and nothing recorded in my passport.

    Sadly by the time we arrived in Buenos Aires, I had a migraine, so the Sunday night was spent with me sleeping. We decided to spend the Monday exploring the Recoleta area, where our hotel was based, and discovered that the English Tower is effectively closed to visitors, the railway museum is very disappointing and that Argentinian chefs won’t cook you a steak under medium rare.

    Tuesday was spent braving the cold for one of the Buenos Aires free walking tours and then a language exchange in the evening. We’ve become quite the fan of the free walking tours, as they can give you an excellent overview of the areas. We’ve done tours in São Paulo (two different tours), Cusco and now Buenos Aires. The language exchange was also a fun way to meet locals and chat, as well as practice your language skills. I’ve written about language exchanges before, when I was in Madrid.

    After resting on Wednesday, we spent Thursday trying out a local restaurant, the Buenos Aires zoo and a wine tasting event. The zoo was a little disappointing, run-down and small, with many of the larger animals looking bored and lonely. One of the few redeeming features was that they allowed you to buy bags and buckets of food to feed some of the animals, which you could either feed by rolling it down slides to their enclosures or by feeding directly out of your hands. The wine tasting was interesting, but it mostly just confirmed my suspicion that I’m not a massive fan of red wines, and they were mostly sampling various melbecs.

    Friday was another relaxing way, with a fancy steak dinner, with about 20 little pots of various sauces and side dishes to go with our meals and Saturday was spent going to the cinema and drinking in a craft beer pub with friends and catching a spectacular immersive dance performance.

    Sunday was the day of our flight, so we had lunch with Natasha’s friend and said good bye before finding the most amazing patisserie, with chocolate cake to die for, before exploring Recoleta cemetery, which is where Eva Peron, among other famous Argentinians, are buried. It’s a very surreal experience, walking amongst these huge opulent vaults, some in various states of disrepair, but many with glass doorways or windows, with coffins on display.

    Chocolate cake and irish coffee

    The journey back to Rio was long and tiring, with connections in Cordoba and in São Paulo. After about 90 minutes, we landed in Córdoba, which is not an airport you want to be stuck in for 6 hours over night. The airport is very small with very little facilities. São Paulo is much nicer (other than the hassle of having to transfer your luggage yourself from luggage reclaim to the transfer desks elsewhere in the terminal building. The couple of hours we had there gave me chance to practice some of my long-forgotten Portuguese, and attempting to reenable my Brazilian phone sim. Then finally, 13 hours after we left Buenos Aires, we finally landed in Rio.

    Book Review: Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers has become fairly popular for the view that reaching “world wide elite” status in any field requires around 10,000 hours of practice, but the book is more than this theory. The book discusses various “outliers”, people who are outside the normal range of talent or success. The book is also about re-evaluating what causes success. The popular narrative is that people become successful through their own hard work. Gladwell suggests that it’s more complicated than this.

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    Dealing with extreme allergic reactions to mosquito bites

    I’ve had some pretty bad allergic reactions to some bitey insects while I’ve been in Rio. I’ve had reactions before, but not as bad as here. For instance, while I was in Sevilla in last year, I was bitten a few times, and my hand swelled up, and tiny blisters formed, and I got some tiny blisters on my arms when I was in the Maldives too.  But this time, when I was bitten on my feet and ankles, the reaction was much worse, which blisters becoming bullae up to 2cm (1in) across, and almost semi-spherical in size. My feet also swelled up to a size that made me think of bloaty-head from Theme Hospital. I’ll save you pictures, but you can search Google if you’re morbidly curious. We’ve not sure why they seem worse on my legs than on my arms or face. Maybe gravity is a cause of the welling of fluid in my legs and feet.

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    Writing my bucket list

    The topic of things I’d like to experience and places I’d like to see came up during dinner last night, and it reminded me of a few things that have come together to make me sit down and write down my current bucket list. I’d recently started reading a new blog of a travelling Danish couple who include their bucket list, and I remembered a conversation I’d had in Madrid with someone about Sean Ogle‘s bucket list, and how I’d done quite a few on his list, and finally a list I’d made myself four or five years ago. So  with these influences, I decided to spend a while writing my wishes down so I had somewhere to remember them and to give me some accountability into completing more of them.

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    Visiting Malé, The Maldives

    Malé is the capital city of the Maldives and is by far the most populous of the islands in the country. Around 100,000 people, a third of the population, cram themselves onto this 2km by 1.2km island. The island is so small that it’s only 3.5 miles to walk all the way around the island and it only took us 45 minutes to do so. As a consequence, the city is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Every conceivable parcel of land has been built on, right up the edges of the island.

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    Imposter Syndrome

    Imposter Syndrome

    One part of Lean In that resonated with me, and applies to both men and women is the discussion of imposter syndrome. This is the internal belief that you’re not good enough and that you’re just faking it and at some point you’ll discovered as the imposter you think you are. Success is often dismissed as luck, timing or due to the help of others. We see other people’s success and think we don’t measure up, but the problem with this thought is that we only see their outward success and don’t see their internal struggle and similar feelings of inadequacy. The problem is only made worse by gaining more experience, and rise through the ranks as you surround yourself by more and more qualified people; “do I really fit amongst these smart and skilled people?” you ask yourself.

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    Book Review: Lean In

    I was sitting in Heathrow Airport, contemplating the 13-14 hour journey ahead of me to Malé in the Maldives, and the likelihood of my tablet’s remaining 60% of battery life making it that distance. In that instance, I did the unthinkable with my new minimalist lifestyle and decided to buy a book in case my use of the Kindle app meant that I could not read. The other advantage to a book over using Kindle was that I could read a book during the 15-20 minutes during take off and landing; with an hour long flight from Colombo to Malé that’s a large proportion not reading.

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