I’m so thankful for all of the people that I’ve met throughout my incredible travels. From the lovely Aussie couple I met in Mendoza, to my awesome car-mates in Bolivia, to the friend I got stranded with in the desert, to my Russian-loving Canadian naturalist, to the crazy Irish lads, to my Ecuadorian “fairy godmother,” to the attractive hang-gliding Hungarians, to the bravest Swiss girl traveling the globe solo, to my Spanish-speaking-saviors in Buenos Aires, to the Couch Surfers in Uruguay, to my three beloved travel buddies, to my favorite circus monkey, to the insanely fun Brasilians (and my number one menina branca)…you guys rocked my world. I couldn’t possibly list everyone I’ve met along the way, but I love you all. 

5 months. 2 continents. 8 countries. 28 flights. 24 busses. 5 ferries. 2 ships. Amazing memories.

I’m so thankful for all of the people that I’ve met throughout my incredible travels. From the lovely Aussie couple I met in Mendoza, to my awesome car-mates in Bolivia, to the friend I got stranded with in the desert, to my Russian-loving Canadian naturalist, to the crazy Irish lads, to my Ecuadorian “fairy godmother,” to the attractive hang-gliding Hungarians, to the bravest Swiss girl traveling the globe solo, to my Spanish-speaking-saviors in Buenos Aires, to the Couch Surfers in Uruguay, to my three beloved travel buddies, to my favorite circus monkey, to the insanely fun Brasilians (and my number one menina branca)…you guys rocked my world. I couldn’t possibly list everyone I’ve met along the way, but I love you all. 

5 months. 2 continents. 8 countries. 28 flights. 24 busses. 5 ferries. 2 ships. Amazing memories.

A few hours later I packed up my things, headed to the airport, and took off for my home country! At the gate, South America sent me off with yet another astonishing sunset. About 8 hours later, in my Dramamine-induced state, I heard the pilot of my plane announce: “Welcome to the United States.” I felt a ping of sadness in my heart as reality began to set in, as I realized that my five-month South American journey was over.

Instead flying straight into New York, I made a pit-stop at Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida to join up with the family for our annual Club Med trip. I was going through reverse-culture-shock and trying to resist every urge to speak Spanish, but it was so lovely to see them all again. When I arrived, I dropped my bags and headed straight to trapeze…shocking, I know. Due to the “polar vortex” in NYC I was hoping to get stranded in Florida for a few days longer, but unfortunately my flight was unaffected and it was, at last, time for me to return to reality.

Since we were pretty exhausted on New Year’s Day, we all slept in and headed over to Ipanema Beach for the afternoon. It was so hot that I spent solid 4.5 hours in the water (day 4 and, yes, still 114 degrees). We watched the sunset from the water and it was outstanding, even though we were getting tumbled the entire time. We were at the mercy of the waves, unable to withstand their power, yet enjoying every moment of it.

We woke up early the following morning, our last day, to head to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). We took the cable cars up and were greeted with stunning views of the beaches dotted along Rio’s coast. After a bit of looking around, we headed down and went to Santa Teresa – the old part of Rio de Janeiro with cobblestone streets and cutesy shops. Unfortunately the intense heat prevented me from doing some pretty wild hikes, although now I have yet another reason to go back sometime soon! We wandered for a while, stopping along non-touristy parks and beaches, and it was the perfect ending to my South American adventure.

As midnight approached, 2.3 million people arrived on Copacabana. The main stage and smaller stage were pulsing – people were dancing, drinking, and chatting, all while trying to avoid stepping on pieces of broken glass and smashed beer cans. Time was flying by and, suddenly, everyone started the countdown: “dez, nove, oito, sete, seis, cinco, quatro, três, dois, um…” FELIZ ANO NOVO!! Cue the most spectacular fireworks that I have ever seen. With a boom, fireworks filled up the entire sky – spanning the length of the beach. All colors, all shapes, all styles. Nonstop for 30 minutes. Through sips of champagne, we all hugged and cheered and listened to the Brasilians singing what I could assume to be their equivalent of Auld Langs Syne. It’s another tradition in Rio de Janeiro to increase your luck by jumping over 7 waves while making 7 wishes. Our whole group was aware of this notion so, as the fireworks ended, we took off to the water’s edge, going completely into the water instead of just jumping the waves at our feet. What we didn’t know was just how strong the waves were – we were laughing hysterically as we were repeatedly tumbled, which led to some of the funniest moments of my life. The view from the water blew my mind; there were thousands of people standing on the beach jumping waves in front of us, and eight cruise ships beautifully lit behind us. Some of our group passed out soon after, others wandered home, but a few of us were determined to make it until sunrise, and we did! The music blasted and the dancing never stopped. At the first signs of sunrise I became giddy like a five year old – it was the beginning of one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve ever witnessed. The sky turned beautiful colors of purples, oranges, yellows, and pinks. The deep red colored sun finally made an appearance and it looked as if flames were coming out of it. We packed up our things, grabbed some empanadas for breakfast, and finally climbed into bed around 8am.

And finally, the day had come: New Year’s Eve, Rio de Janeiro, 2013-2014. Rio is known for being one of the best places in the world to ring in the New Year, and I was about to witness it firsthand. Last year I was numb with cold counting down to midnight in Times Square, so the idea of sweating on a beach as midnight approached was rather appealing.

While the others slept in, I headed to the beach for some downtime before what was bound to be a crazy night. After four hours in the sun, I went back to the hostel to shower and get into my all-white outfit for the night’s festivities. On New Year’s in Rio, no one should wear a color more predominant than white, however, it is typical to accent colors through bathing suits and underwear. The colors all represent different kinds of luck – white represents peace, green means good health, yellow for money, red being passion and romance, and purple denoting inspiration.

A group of newfound friends (from Ireland, Poland, Germany, France, Mexico, and the US) all gathered in the hostel as we took some photos and headed to the beach to get a spot for the night! Our plan was to stay out until sunrise so we had to be well prepared – ice, beverages, limes, sugar, snacks and, for some reason, an Irish flag. We set up camp and awaited the mass amounts of people that were bound to flood Copacabana Beach. We were ready.

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About

1 girl. 5 months. 2 continents. 8 countries. Study Abroad, Round 2.

NYU Senior in Buenos Aires for Fall 2013.

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