Latin America Travel Journal

Journal Entries on my Trip to Latin America! By Arnav

Oaxaca, Mexico and Its Culture

Today on October 31, I went to Oaxaca, Mexico. I celebrated Day of the Dead, a traditional holiday here. It is a magical time of the year. I will be staying here until November 2, when most of the celebrations are over. It is morning right now, and people are already headed to the markets! Most are going to buy supplies for their sand tapestries and altars. Some are buying special foods, like chocolates, tamales, and black mole sauce. I put on my skeleton costume, one like almost everyone else would be wearing by evening. I head out and stroll through the streets in the breezy air. Flower petals cover the streets and next to most of the homes and shops are elaborate and intricate sand tapestries. They depict images of skeletons, death, or people who had past away. As I walked by the Palacio de Gobierno, the most important building in Oaxaca, I saw the wining sand tapestry and altar. They were absolutely stunning, and were on display at the front of the building. I kept on walking south to the Central de Abastos, one of the biggest markets in town. Over here, I bought "pan de muerto", which is yolk bread in the shape of a head or skull. It is a traditional food in Oaxaca, but it is most popular around this time of the year, so there isn't much left to buy! i sat down on the street and enjoyed it with some hot chocolate. Now it is around noon, and many beautiful and intricate altars are waiting to be judged. Many children are starting their "trick or treating" early and asking people for small treats. One comes up to me and says "Halloween!", which in Oaxaca means "trick or treat", so I gave him a tiny candy skull that i had gotten at the market earlier. Soon enough, the streets are packed with people off to the market for goods or to church to pray. Some people remain at home though, praying by their sand tapestries that represents someone who dies. This is a tradition in Oaxaca, people pray for 8 nights, and on the ninth night, the sand is swept up and dumped on that persons grave. Now, it is approaching night, and most people are headed towards the graveyards. I go to the Panteon San Miguel Graveyard. Here, there are several altars and tapestries surrounding the graves. These graves are covered in flowers, and are lit up by candles. Many people are now in skeleton costumes, and are praying and honoring the dead by their graves. Outside, I hear Spanish music untraditional instruments, like the guitar and horn. I walk over to the area, and it is like a carnival! There are rides, art, foods, laughter,music, dancing, treats, and huge crowds in costumes! I join in the fun by dancing to the music and eating a few tamales! Finally, when it is really late, everyone goes home, because tomorrow, the fun continues! Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is great because of the food, traditions, art,people, and the strong culture! I LOVE the Oaxaca culture and Day of the Dead, and I cant wait to experience all of it once more tomorrow!

Kingston, Jamaica and Its Geography

Hello! Right now I am in the Jamaican coastal city of Kingston. It is the capital, and it is beautiful! From the hotel, I can see all over the city, and all of its natural beauty. I eat some locally grown bananas for breakfast, and head out.

First, I go to the Blue Mountain Range, which is northeast of the city. As I stroll up the long trail, it gets dryer and less humid. I finally reach the top, and since it is a clear day, I can see all over Jamaica, even the coasts! In fact, I can also see the faint outline of Cuba! Seeing all the coasts reminds me of the beach, and it is 75°F, perfect temperature like it is year-round.

I jump into my swim trunks, and head towards the beach. First, I make a sand castle with the lovely, white sand. Then I dive into the warm, teal water of Kingston Harbor. The ocean is actually quite deep, even close to shore. I get out of the water and start to dry off, but I feel a few drops of rain on my head. It has started to drizzle! It is kind of peculiar that it is raining now, because Kingston is a rain shadow of the BLue Mountains, is dry, and it was a clear sky earlier today. But, after all, it is the wet season, and weather does change suddenly in Kingston. TIme to head back to the hotel!

By the time I am almost back, the rain has stopped. Kingston, after all, does have short showers. Then I see a big lizard, and almost scream! It's an iguana! Kingston has a lot of these. I'm back at the hotel, and now it is time to sleep. What a fun day! I learnt all about Kingston's geography!

La Paz, Bolivia and Its Government

Hi! I'm here in La Paz, Bolivia. Tonight, December 18, 2005 is a very exciting night. We will get to know who gets to become Bolivia's president for the next five years. The people right now aren't happy, they are protesting. So this election should solve the problem, making it an extremely important one. There are eight candidates running, but there are two main ones in the race. evo Morales of the "Movement Towards Socialism" party and jorge Ramirez of the "Democratic and Social Power" party. To win, a candidate must have 50% or more of the vote, so it is by popular vote. If no one has 50%, the legislature votes on who the next president is. Because of compulsory voting, every Bolivian over 18 is required to vote. I turn on the TV. It is finally time to announce who Bolivia's next president will be! "and the winner is..." says the news anchor, "Evo Morales, with 53.7% of the vote!" I don't get to hear the rest because everyone is now screaming and partying. I get in the car and drive towards where Morales is waiting. I got a chance to interview him! I step out of the car and step inside the building. I see Morales in a fancy suit, and I start our interview. "So," I ask. "What are your goals for your 5-year term as president?"He answers back "Well, I want a lot of change. Firstly, we need to treat everyone equally and not discriminate by race, otherwise we will end up like South Africa in apartheid. Secondly, we need to build up our economy. Most people in Bolivia are living below the poverty line and make very little money. I find this unacceptable and it needs to end." ' What are your thoughts on your election?" I ask. "I think think of it as a revolution. A cultural revolution, ending racial discrimination, and a democratic revolution, giving our people more rights," responds Evo Morales. "Well, Evo, that concludes our time. Thank you for joining us," I say. I get back in the car, and we drive back. What a night! I got to learn all about the government and President Morales! I flick off my lights. Good night!

Brazil and Its Economy

Hi! I'm in Brazil right now. I've come as a tourist! my first city I want to see is Rio! Lets go!

I hop in the car, and we start driving. As we go, I see many construction workers and lumberjacks. They are chopping down the beautiful rain forests so they can sell the wood and make room for farms and roads! So THAT'S why it showed hundreds of roads on the GPS! we pass many large, local farms, and they are growing coffee, soybeans, wheat, sugarcane, corn, cacao, and citrus fruits, like oranges. They are also raising cattle and chickens. We keep on driving through the rural land, and we see many miners with high technology, and they are mining minerals, like oil, nickel, tin, iron ore, copper, and others. Finally, I can see large factories, buildings, and industries in the distance. We're in Rio!

We drive through several slums to get to the hotel, and we see many people living in shacks made of trash. But on the contrary, I see many beautiful gardens and huge mansions owned by billionaires. We then drive by the Petrobras headquarters. Petrobras is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, so we stop here to get a gas refill. We continue to the hotel, and we see many industries. They are making clothes, food, wood products, steel, and vehicles. I stop to get myself a new pair of running shoes.

Finally, we're at the hotel. There are many tourists here. I learnt all about Brazil's economy, but I'm very tired from the long drive. Good night!