Latin America Travel Journal

By: Isabel M

Mexico: Guadalajara: Modern Day: Economy

Dear Diary,

This morning, I landed at The Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Guadalajara is the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco. Before going anywhere else, I decided to go to Plaza Galeria's one of the largest shopping centers in Latin America. As I admired all the shops in the mall, I noticed a man standing at the back of a store I had just gone into. He turned around and I accidentally crashed into him. I looked up to apologize and instead gasped. The mayor Guadalajara was standing in front of me. I just met the mayor of Guadalajara, Ramiro Hernández Garcia! After telling him about how much I had loved Guadalajara, he offered me to take a tour around the city with him! Yay! Our first stop was the zoo, otherwise known as Zoologico Guadalajara. We decided to take an auto bus called Primera Plus, and on our way we had an interesting chat about Guadalajara's overall economy and how Guadalajara is one of the ten largest economic cities in Latin America in terms of GDP(Gross Domestic Product), and the third in Mexico, just behind Mexico City and Monterrey. The mayor also took me to Meebox, a Mexican company specializing in design and manufacture of computers and other consumer electronics. This city is known as "Mexico's Silicon Valley," because Guadalajara is the largest technology center in Mexico. Did you know that in the last two years, businesses from this city created over 50,000 jobs? Shocking isn't it? Tourism is an important economic engine because the state of Jalisco is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Guadalajara is also served by one of the country's busiest airports and is one of the country's biggest airports and also on of the state's major tourist centers. Finally, as the day wound down, the mayor took me to Sagrantino, an amazing restaurant in Guadalajara, where I enjoyed delicious shrimps. Finally, he dropped me to my hotel and gave me his cell phone number so I could call him again if I wanted to have lunch with him again while in Guadalajara. Exciting! Although, I'm probably never going to see him again, I decided to keep his phone number in remembrance of this day.

Mr.Garcia's Number

He said Llámame cuando, which means "Call me whenever" in Spanish.

Central America and The West Indies: Puerto Rico: San Juan: Modern Day: Government

Dear Diary,

I took a very interesting trip to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. While there, I interviewed the governor Alejandro Javier Garcia Padilla. He is the governor of Puerto Rico, born August 3, 1971 in Puerto Rico. He was just recently sworn in as governor on January 2, 2013. Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth of the U.S., so their government is still partially the U.S. congress's responsibility. The branches of government, the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, like the U.S. There are two legislative chambers, the House of Representatives (51 seats) and the Senate( 27 seats.) All in all, Puerto Rico is a beautiful island to visit in the Caribbean. It is east of the Dominican Republic. At the end of the day, Mr. Padilla took me to Heladeria Lares, an ice cream shop in Lares. I loved the exotic helado( ice cream) and hope to go there again before I leave. As a remembrance of this special memory, I took a picture of Mr.Padilla and kept the ice cream cup from Helderia Lares.

South America(part 1): Peru: Lima: Modern Day: Culture

Dear Diary,

This morning, my plane landed in Lima, Peru the capital of Peru. My first instinct as I got off the plane was to visit the Cathedral. The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a Roman Catholic Cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor of downtown Lima,Peru. I hopped into a cab and off we went. I opened my window and let my hair fly in the wind as we came close to the Cathedral. The vast majority of Peruvians declare themselves as Catholics, so when I entered the Cathedral, I wasn't surprised to see people praying in the pews. After my visit to the Cathedral, I was completely famished and decided to stop at Cebicheria La Ma. It is said that Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied and one of the best in the world. I would definitely have to agree, the food was incredible and the atmosphere was great! My cab came to pick me up just as I paid the bill of 20 dollars or 52.87 Peruvian Nuevo Soles, Peru's form of currency. From the restaurant, the cab took me to my friends house. I decided to surprise her and come to Lima to see her again. I rang her doorbell and took out my camera, as she opened the door she had a very surprised look on her face and then,"click" my camera sputtered out her image and we both squealed and laughed about finally seeing each other again. A perfect memory to keep forever. After chatting with her about Peruvian food and exchanging recipes, we went to her backyard and played fronton on her private fronton court. Fronton is a popular sport among Limenos, it was even invented in Lima! She turned on the radio and beautiful music poured out of the speakers. I was very interested in Peruvian music, so she offered to take me to the city's bohemian district, Barranco. This district has acclaimed restaurants, and music venues called "peñas" featuring the traditional folk music of coastal Peru. Barranco also has Victorian-style chalets. There is also a colorful mix of traditional Andean and Spanish influence. As the sun went down, we went into Ayahuasca Restobar Lounge in Barranco. It is voted the best Restobar in all of Barranco. It is an old mansion that restored Peru's artistic expressions from the late 1800s. After an enjoyable dinner, I headed to my resort, but before I got there, I stopped at the private resort beach, picked up a shell and wrote-"2013 Lima Peru."

South America(part 2): Brazil: Santarém: Modern Day: Geography

Dear Diary,

My bus just arrived in Santarem, Brazil from my previous destination, Lima, Peru. As I jumped off the bus, I headed straight toward my personal tour guide, Maria. Our first destination was Alter do Chao beach, known as "the Caribbean in Brazil" and chose by The Guardian as one of the most beautiful beaches and the most beautiful fresh water beach in the world. After an exhilarating swim, Maria and I headed to La em Casa in Belém. I ordered crabs on a half shell covered with farofa, or finely ground manioc fried in margarine, one of their specialties. We decided to sit on the patio, where there were tropical vines and bromeliads, dangling down. It felt as if we were dining in the middle of the rain forest! This is where the real fun began though, we drove right next to the forest and started exploring! The Amazon rain forest, is a moist broad leaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America. The rain forest also has many different species of animals, like the Scarlet Macaw, which is indigenous to the American tropics. The Amazon's milky colored water carries sediment from the Andes in the east, while the Tapajos water is somewhat warmer and and has a deep-blue tone. This phenomenon is called: "The meeting of the waters," by the locals. Suddenly, a rattling in the bushes sounded, and a jaguar scampered out followed by two more baby jaguars. I quickly snapped a picture and Maria and I kept moving. She explained to me that the city we were in, Santarém, has a tropical rain forest climate that isn't subject to significant changes in temperatures, due to it's proximity to the equator. Although the trip was fun, it was getting late, so Maria and I stopped at a souvenir shop and I picked out a bracelet a remembrance of the trip. It said," Santarem Amazon, 2013."

Alter do Chão, Pará, Brasil
A short video touring Alter do Chao beach, enjoy!

What a fun trip through Latin America! Hope this gives you a good insight on the geography, culture, government, and economy here!