Last thing I was planning to do in the end of 2015 was going to Latin America. I mean, Rio has always been my dream, sure. And sure, with my travel map being almost completely painted in Europe and Asia being my parents’ place, Latam seemed an absolutely exciting place to explore.
There were no upcoming signs. In early November, I just broke up with my French boyfriend of almost a year and invited all my best friends over to Paris. I was wholeheartedly anticipating the holiday season in my newly free status and planned back-to-back business trips and weekends in European capitals to fill the waiting time. A few weeks after, I was at La Maison Blanche, casually playing 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Falling in love was the last item on my agenda, along with the trip to Latam, but I read about this game in The New York Times and was finding this experiment entertaining. I was cheating when playing, of course (it was my game, after all): always asking the questions first, listening to Louveteau’s answers and only then giving mine (in theory, partners should take turns). Somewhere between the main and the dessert, Louveteau said: Can I ask you a question as well? How do you see the development of this relationship going forward? Going forward.
Next thing I know, we landed in Rio. Together.
Going a little bit into the details…
…Rio, of course, was the main goal of this trip. For many reasons and at the same time for no reason at all, it has always fascinated me. I have been working with Latin America at my first job (and later in Finland, running the company we founded with Vicky), yet I have never had the time to properly explore it. I have always thought to do it one day, when I have time for more than a two weeks vacation. By now I stopped believing in one day. And started believing in now, and in dreams coming true.
Has it ever happened to you that you are dreaming about getting somewhere for a long time and when you finally do, the place is nowhere near your expectations? It did happen to me. But not with Rio. Rio turned out to be everything I wanted it to be, and more.
…Iguazu, Brazil was a stop we planned between Rio and Buenos Aires. One thing we agreed with Louveteau a moment after we decided to go to Latam (or, more precisely, the moment after we both realized that the other one was not joking about going), we decided to travel to several countries. Since we are there, you know. None of us has ever been to Latam, and who knows when we both carve out the time to travel there next time. I learnt about Iguazu, the most amazing waterfalls at the border of Brazil and Argentina, from Ele, my bestie in Rome, who discovered Brazil on her honeymoon trip. Ele has invented a great tips gathering method: she asked the Embassy of Brazil for the best places to go. To this long chain of people and events Louveteau and I owe what we both call the best days of our lives. Up to this point, at least (I still hope to overachieve).
…Iguazu, Argentina is the same waterfalls, as you can imagine, but from the Argentinian side. The reason I separate those two is that visiting Iguazu from different countries results in two completely different experiences, from the view of the waterfalls themselves to the parks, getting there, food and the overall impression.
…Buenos Aires is a city both of us did not know what to expect from. Contrary to several A4 pages of tips and recommendations we had gathered on Rio, all we had on the Argentinian capital was a (very good) Whatsapp message from Ksenia, who once went there to learn tango and stayed for almost three years. So we got a map at the hotel, questioned the concierge and set out to explore.
…Colonia in Uruguay is a UNESCO Heritage site and the main reason (along with Jemaa el-Fnaa square of Marrakesh) I don’t trust UNESCO’s selection. It looks gorgeous in this picture, but trust me, there is a reason for my disbelief.
I will write more about every one of our stops, of course. You just need to be a little bit patient with me (I am working, moving houses and rearranging my life, after all). What for gringokids, that’s what Louveteau and I called ourselves on this trip (and how I tagged our Instagram photos from Latam). We were the youngest (and, to be honest, the only young) customers of Belmond Hotel das Cataratas in the National Park of Iguazu, the heart and definitely the spotlight of our trip. We were also the happiest ones.