You know that famous John Muir quote? The wines are calling and I must go. No? Well, I think if he had said something along those lines, he would have been referring to Mendoza, Argentina. The Mendoza province sits in the western-central region of Argentina in the Andes. It is home to Argentina’s most famous wine, the mouthwatering Malbec, world-class dining, and stunning views. Since I love wine and was going to be living in Argentina for two months, I knew Mendoza was going to be a destination that I couldn’t miss. To add icing to the cake, myself and eight other Remote Year ladies made plans from Córdoba for a lovely girls weekend getaway – making it one of the best sidetrips I’ve had this year!
Month 5 of Remote Year has brought me to Córdoba, a city smack dap in the middle of Argentina and in the beautiful foothills of the Sierras. Córdoba is a city of more than a million people – the second largest in the country, and just about everyone you meet prides the city and loves its people. There is a 90’s modern cityscape contrasted with some colonial monuments and centuries-old cathedrals. It’s also a very young and loud population due to its university with students from all over the world.
During the transition from Lima to Córdoba, I spent a week away from the Remote Year group in Santiago de Chile. Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile as well as one of the largest cities in the Americas. It’s a city I’ve only known for its earthquakes, being surrounded by the Andes mountains, and for the wine. After my visit, I realized that Santiago is so much more than that, it’s a city with a unique identity and dynamic cultural landscape. I stayed in the Bellas Arte neighborhood which is full of restaurants and cafés that make for perfect people watching. My coworking space was in Bellavista, one of the city’s busiest nightlife neighborhoods. The coworking space was brand new and had a beautiful autumnal atrium, perfect for a coffee break. It was also lovely to stroll the streets and public parks to check out the ombre foliage taking over the city.
Month 4 of Remote Year has brought me back to the Pacific to live and work in Lima, the capital of Peru. Lima was a city that had never been on my radar, but believe me, it should be added to your bucket list. Comprising 43 districts with nearly 9 million residents, Lima is a city of contrasts, with modern seaside neighborhoods nestled up against gritty shanties that cling to desolate hillsides. I spent most my time hanging out in Lima’s artsy Barranco and surfing the waves in Miraflores. I didn’t fully get a sense of the culture because I went on several side trips throughout my stay but hope to return in the future to dig a little deeper. Overall, the area I visited most in Lima had a west coast vibe with a mix of high-brow Santa Monica and grimy Venice, and the atmosphere was relaxed like San Diego. It reminded me how much I love to live on the coast and have access to the ocean whenever I desire. When I was there I ate ceviche and drank pisco sours all while basking in the sunshine making it one of the best months so far. Lima was also a central hub for getaways to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley; the Amazon; Lake Titicaca; and the amazing sand-dune oasis at Huacachina.
Besides the mesmerizing Machu Picchu trek, the second week in Peru I took a side trip to one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is of fairytale reputation – pristine blue waters that match the intensity and saturation of the sky, cotton candy clouds, scarcely inhabited islands and traditional cultures and people. From Lima, I flew into Juliaca and took a cab to the town of Puno: the jump-off point for exploring Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side. I stayed at Hotel Libertador and loved how peaceful and beautiful the hotel grounds were.
I first remember learning about Machu Picchu in my fourth-grade history class when we were covering South America and the Incas. In my mind, I still can see the black and white photo on the glossy textbook page of the American explorer Hiram Bingham when he stumbled across it in the early 1900’s. It was one of the most visually intriguing landscapes to me, at that time, and I always dreamt of hiking the Inca Trail to see it in person. After years of dreaming and months of planning, I finally was able to complete the trek. And I even made it through without retreating up into a ball of defeat and rolling myself down a cliff!
Cartagena de Indias is a 16th-century treasure rich in history and culture, of cobbled streets and pastel-coloured walls, of arcaded squares and elegant promenades on the Caribbean coast. This charismatic Colonial town is a popular tourist destination and was a convenient side trip from Medellín, where I was living for the month. I knew I would fall in love with it because I heard it was the New Orleans of Latin America.
The city was originally five islands connected by bridges, but now is divided into three general areas: The Historic Centre (the walled old city, including Getsemani), the New City (including Bocagrande, Castillogrande and Lagito, identifiable by the line of high rise apartments) and Manga. The vast majority of notable attractions are contained within the walls of the Historic Centre.
The tropical town has boutique hotels and grand open plazas filled with stylish cafes, cocktail bars and fine cuisine restaurants – all within the ancient city walls. I went without an itinerary and loved the spontaneity of my weekend.
Month 3 of Remote Year has me living and working in breathtaking Medellín, the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of Antioquia. I fell in love with this city the moment I arrived with its laid-back atmosphere and colorful culture. The temperature hovers anywhere between 65 – 85 degrees which has earned the city the reputation of “City of Eternal Spring.” I really enjoy the humidity and tropical vibes. Also, it rains intermittently throughout the day which I find quite romantic. It’s nice to dodge into a cafe or restaurant to wait out the weather and awaken your senses in that moment. Because of the rain, it is super green and lush throughout the urban areas. There isn’t a lot of traffic here making the air cleaner than the previous cities I’ve lived this year.
The second half of my stay here in Bogotá was so much better than the first half. I feel that I grew emotionally and physically this month, and even though it was challenging at times, I became so much stronger because of it. It didn’t hurt either that it was packed with some of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. This journey is a constant reminder of how much natural beauty I get to experience in the world. On weekends in Bogotá, I was often finding myself getting out of the city and becoming engulfed by nature. I find it refreshing to switch off completely from the real world to recharge, especially since my brain is constantly stimulated with newness.
Month 2 of Remote Year has me living and working in Colombia’s sprawling capital, Bogotá. The city itself is surrounded by Andean peaks and filled with urban sophistication and colonial wonder. It is the third-highest capital in South America at about 8,660 ft above sea level. Because of the altitude, the first few days here had me gasping for air even simply walking up the stairs or to the office. I have been trying to drink 2 liters of water to keep me from getting altitude sickness because several others from our cohort are feeling a bit off. Aside from living in the clouds, I’m grateful to be experiencing Colombia’s rich history, legends, and colorful cultures this month.