Sunday, December 27, 2015

Stitch Fix #4: The One That Arrived Just In Time for Christmas

If you haven't heard about Stitch Fix, then you're really missing out. In 100 words or less-- it's like a subscription box, but you can choose when to have it delivered. You fill out a style profile and your stylist sends you 5 items. You have five days to try on everything and you send back what you don't want. Easy, peasy. 

Stitch Fix's only downfall is that it doesn't ship internationally, so I can only schedule fixes when I am in the United States. As soon as my arrival date was available for scheduling fixes, I signed right up and counted down the days until I could receive my 4th fix. 

This time around I told my stylist, Tamara, to surprise me. I spend most of my year in Rio de Janeiro, so I'm always looking around for new summer clothes, but at the same time, I'm spending the next month in cooler temperatures, so I'm also on the hunt for some winter wear.

She seriously delivered-- Merry Christmas to me! 

Renee C Jordie Abstract Print Maxi Skirt ($58)
Verdict: Kept

Guys, it's HOT in Brazil. One of the days before I left, there was a heat index of 118°. Skirts and tank tops are not out of the question; they're actually a necessity. So this skirt is great. It was soft, soft, soft. It's actually navy, not blue, and I have a TON of blue shirts in my wardrobe already which means that I have plenty of shirts that will match, I do need to hem it a little bit, but that's not a deal breaker.

Kut from the Kloth Jonathon Skinny Corduroy ($48)
Verdict: Kept  
I received pants like these for Christmas when I was 13ish and distinctly remember my mother leaning over and saying "Just smile, say thank you, and we can return them later." 12 years later and I'm willing keeping these pants. They're a light pink corduroy and actually a little too long for me. But cuffing your pants is all the rage these days, so it works out for me. (But maybe I'm shorter than I think and really need to change my style profile?!)

Collette Baraboo Swing Knit Tank ($48)
Verdict: Kept

Was there any question that I was going to keep this shirt? As soon as I peeked, I knew that this would be hanging in my closet very shortly. I really enjoy the length, but it did seem a little bit wide. Like if I was to pull out the sides, it was a little cape-y. Not enough to make me send the shirt back, but I did make a note in my style profile that I would like to size down in shirts like this in the future.

Fate Windsor Lace Detail Blouse ($54)
Verdict: Kept

Isn't this color beautiful?! Wear it was jeans (and my amazing TOMS booties) or wear it with a pencil skirt for teaching. Boom. Done. Get in my closet.

Octavia Raymond Plaid & Polka Dot Scarf ($38)
Verdict: Kept

Winter wear. After 118° temperatures, even the 50's that we've been having in Ohio make me feel cold. So a nice soft, not itchy scarf is just what I need. It's also really colorful, so it'll match a lot of different outfits that I already have. I can't say that it'll be making the trek back to Rio with me, but it'll certainly get a ton of use while I am in the States. 

Okay, okay. So I kept it all. All five things are finding a new home with me. Part of is that I can't say no to things that I like. Part of it is that my stylist, Tamara, is awesome. I love that she writes in Portuguese. It always makes it feel really personalized. 

Stitch Fix #3: The One I Had Mailed To Ohio and Brought to Vegas 
Stitch Fix #2: The One Where Details Matter
Stitch Fix #1: The One Where I Understood the Obsession

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

Due to a serious of unfortunate events that ended up really working out in my favor, Kelly and I decided to spend a couple of days traveling in Brazil after school ended for the Christmas holiday. Next thing we knew, we had booked our plane tickets to jet on over to Foz do Iguaçu for a couple of days. 

Foz do Iguaçu is awesome. It's one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (depending on which list you read). It's where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay all meet. It's home to waterfalls that put Niagara Falls to shame.

We left late, late, late on Friday night and arrived early, early, early on Saturday morning. We also stayed at the coolest hostel in the entire world-- Tetris Container Hostel. It's as interesting as it sounds, I promise. The whole hostel is constructed from old shipping containers-- the hostel itself, the pool, the bar. Really. We didn't appreciate it when we rolled on up in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but we did appreciate it later. We especially appreciated it during "Caipi O'Clock" AKA free caipirinhas each night. 

Before coming to the falls, we didn't really research much about what to do in Foz do Iguaçu because we wanted to just go with the flow. Hang out. Relax. It is vacation, afterall. The one thing we had heard is that the Argentinian side of the falls is more impressive so it's better to check out the Brazilian side first as to not be disappointed. Check. Done. And we definitely weren't disappointed.

Kelly and I spent about 3-4 hours at the park walking along a very easy trail that provided us with so many GORGEOUS views of the falls. It was also pouring rain the entire time we were there. My water-resistant raincoat didn't even stand a chance. The sub-par weather didn't make the experience any less incredible and beautiful, though.

First view of the falls. Obviously channeling my inner Lebron.

The trail dumps you out at the Garganta do Diabo/ Garganta del Diablo/ Devil's Throat which is basically where a bunch of waterfalls come together and there's a ton of water. (That's a horribly simplified explanation.) We were already soaked, so we passed on the rain ponchos. Poor choice, should have definitely bought the ponchos. It was so rainy/ windy/ misty; we left DRENCHED. But smiling.

At the Devil's Throat.
So excited that I couldn't even keep my eyes open. 

We closed out our first day in Foz do Iguaçu with an hour long wait for the bus, a bus ride to no where, and a 20 minute uphill walk to see the Marco do Tres Fronteiras, or the point where all three countries come together. Which ended up being a big fail because it was actually closed for construction until the day after we left. But using our pathetic looks and heavy breathing from walking sweet charm, one of the workers offered to give us a ride back into the town. Which, of course, I assumed was safe because he and I were speaking in Spanish. We had to wait about 10 minutes before the end of his shift was over, so we all hung around speaking Spanish and I asked what was actually happening down at the monument. And since we're so charming, he took us past the point where everyone else had to turn about and let us see what was happening. It was definitely still a letdown, but we technically saw the monument.

After conquering the Brazilian side, we obviously had to see the Argentinian side of the falls. As if there was even a question as to whether or not that was going to happen. I mean, the $160 that we each paid for a visa to Argentina pretty much confirmed that we were going. So we hopped on an all-day Argentinian tour and I was beside myself with happiness from hearing Spanish all day.

Our first stop on the tour was to see the Marco de las Tres Fronteras in Argentina. So we weren't able to get up close and personal with the one in Brazil, but we did get to see the one in Argentina. Worth the hype. We could also see the Brazilian one that they were working on and Kelly and I were both a little bitter when we saw it. Too soon, I suppose. 

After stopping at the Marco de las Tres Fronteras, we made our way to the falls. Where two parts of our tour were closed because the river was too high and the water was too strong and the bridges had broke in different places or were underwater. I was bummed, but listen, I'm not messing around with water that powerful. We walked A LOT and saw the falls from almost every place possible. I'm currently creating a flip book of all the photos where my hands are in the air, don't worry.

Salto Dos Hermanos.
Blue skies and sunshine came out to play.
Lesson learned from the day before.

Since I'm a wild party animal and I love the cold weather (HA!) , I basically HAD to visit the Ice Bar in Puerto Iguazu while we were in Argentina. Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared and only had shorts and flip flops, but being from the snowbelt must have prepared me for the cold temperatures because I didn't die. We suited up in our parkas and gloves and spent 30 minutes in the ice bar (which was a balmy 14-20F) drinking unlimited drinks. Money well spent.

As a Christmas present to myself, I didn't set a budget for the trip. If I wanted something, I was going to buy it. If I wanted to do something, I was going to pay for it. It's likely that I won't make it back to Foz do Iguaçu and I didn't want to leave with regrets. Because of this philosophy, I forked over some cash and took a helicopter ride over the falls. I was SO excited that one of the workers had to tell me to calm down. I am not ashamed. It was worth every single penny that I spent on it-- one of the coolest things I have ever done.

After seeing the falls via bus, trails on the Brazilian side, trails on the Argentinian side, and helicopter, Kelly and I figured that we might as well go big or go home and see the falls by boat. We donned our beloved ponchos (which was the best R$5/ $1.25USD that I have ever spent) and hopped into a speed boat into the falls. I may or may not have squealed like a little girl. I will neither confirm nor deny. 

Each thing we did in Iguaçu was better than the last and Kelly and I were frequently proclaiming that "THIS is the coolest thing I have ever done!" We packed A LOT into two and a half days (Brazilian falls, two trips to Argentina, accepting a ride from a Spanish speaking stranger, a helicopter ride, the Ice Bar, and a boat ride-- just as a recap) and everything about the trip really was some of the coolest stuff I have ever done. Living so far away from home and my family and my friends and American food can really stink sometimes. But then I do something like this and realize that this is my LIFE. And while it's difficult at times, it's also really, really awesome.

Since no adventure is complete without a little travel SNAFU. While we were preparing to land back in Rio, the pilot told us that the runway was crowded so we had to circle a bit before landing. No problem until it was an hour later, we were still circling, and we were running low on fuel. So instead we flew to  Belo Horizonte, which is a city in another state, to re-fuel and then fly back to Rio. But we got a second helping of snacks, so it's all okay.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Harry, I've Reached The Top!

Honestly, if you don't get the reference, are we really even friends? (It's from the greatest movie ever created, Home Alone 2, for any of you who had deprived childhoods.)

Each big city has their famous icon. NYC has the Empire State building, San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, Paris has the Eiffel Tour, Rome has the Coliseum. And then there's Rio. Rio has so many famous icons. The most popular, of course, is the Christ Statue, but then there's the Sugarloaf and Copacabana. There's also Dois Irmãos which, I'll admit, wouldn't have recognized before moving. (I may or may not have identified it as the Sugarloaf when I was here during student teaching.)

Dois Irmãos is between the beaches of Leblon and São Conrado and frequently stars in many/ all of my sunset pictures. I had to conquer it. In the end, I think it conquered me. 

We'd been saying that we were going to hike each weekend for about six weekends and just never did. Since the student teachers are quickly nearing the end of their time here in Rio, we've really been packing the weekends full. 

We made the mistake of starting our hike around 10:30-11am on a 90° day during almost summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I also totally psyched myself out because I didn't want to lag behind or hold up the group or die or anything else highly embarrassing. So I took a moto-taxi ride through Vidigal up to the beginning of the actual trail. And it was awesome; I so missed riding on the back of a motorcycle. 

That's not to say that I didn't complain A LOT the last 30 minutes of actual trail hiking because that totally happened. But the views were beautiful. Rocked my typical Caitlin pose, as per usual. And yes, definitely exclaimed "Harry, I've reached the top". 

While hiking back down the mountain, we found a family of little monkeys and then I held one. Clearly, I cannot control my facial expressions. 

Dois Irmãos-- you were lovely, but I can't say that we'll ever meet again.