A Winter Break Adventure through New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey


[Photo taken in JFK Airport]

I finally found time to write this post about my recent visit to the East Coast for the first time during winter break! My schoolwork, leadership role as an RA and other commitments have kept me preoccupied these past weeks, which is why I didn’t write this post sooner!

On New Year’s Eve, my girlfriend and I flew to NYC to see friends and spend the holiday in a new, exciting place this year!  Lucky for us, we arrived in New York with enough time to check in to our Airbnb, drop off our stuff, eat pizza at Lombardi’s and make it to Times Square with enough time to see the magic happen and watch the ball drop! It was wonderful to see all the fireworks and confetti afterwards and we definitely enjoyed the experience. However, you do have to stand and hold your place for multiple hours. We arrived there around 9pm and were still not able to get near the ball drop. Fortunately, we were able to watch it drop from the side!



That glowing ball at the top right was the ball in Times Square for New Year’s Eve in NYC.


Our Airbnb was located in Little Italy, which is a small neighborhood, once known for a large population of Italians(hence the name).

The next few days were spent visiting different places around the city with our friends.

IMG_6209We ice-skated in Central Park!


We visited the Statue of Liberty 🙂 (Taken with a GoPro)


We spent the last night exploring Times Square.

Before we left, Stacey bought a selfie-stick for only $20 near the Brooklyn Bridge! It’s bluetooth and has a button on the stick to take pictures as well! We recorded a fun video while testing it out. The quality isn’t the best.

Then we took a Chinatown bus to Philadelphia to our friend Allie, who we met from my girlfriend’s study abroad program in Buenos Aires(we went in July 2013). She lives in Springfield, which is a small town southwest of the city. Our friend Sam, who I met through Stacey’s study abroad program who is from Albany, NY, also met us at Allie’s house. We visited Allie’s school in New Jersey, The College of New Jersey and also went to see Philadelphia and eat cheese steaks!


I ate my first Philly cheese steak here! It was delicious!


This was the street that Allie’s rental house was on, the place where she lives during the school year in Ewing, New Jersey. It’s not too far from her university.


Apparently this is a popular pizza-topping on the East Coast or at least in this area of New Jersey and others? It’s called penne vodka pizza and there’s actual pasta on the pizza. It still seems foreign to me but it was delicious!


This was a breakfast bagel I ate with meat called pork roll on it. According to my friend Allie, it’s referred to as Taylor Ham more towards the north.


This was the day Stacey and I were leaving. It snowed during the night in Springfield!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take more pictures because I ran out of space. Overall, it was an exciting adventure for everyone! I enjoyed my first time visiting the East Coast and hope to return soon! Next time I go, I’m going to visit Morristown, New Jersey, where my dad grew up and learn about where he spent his childhood up until 5th grade when he moved to Phoenix, Arizona.


20,000 miles by motorbike, 10,874 miles by bicycle and now over 7,000 by VW bus

duncan stokoe motorbike

10 months. 20,000 miles. Santiago, Chile to San Francisco, California on a motorbike. I met Duncan Stokoe, a 23-year old from England, during his journey last year while he was passing through Arizona. By chance, I happened to be diddling around Couchsurfing and found his post about looking for a place to crash in Arizona. I immediately emailed him offering up my dorm room. Luckily, a friend loaned me their air mattress and he slept in my dorm for a night. I gave him a tour of the university and we hung out in my dorm room with my roommate Chris. He told us some of the wildest stories like accidentally hanging out with drug cartel members in Ecuador and working on a ferry selling bananas between Colombia and Panama. Unfortunately, I had a few exams that week so he didn’t stay longer. He was one of the kindest people I ever met and extremely grateful for being able to stay there. After he left, he added me to an email list of people he had met along the way to keep us updated on his trip. In March of 2013, he arrived in San Francisco and completed his trip.


Fortunate for him, the traveling didn’t stop there. On March 23rd, he flew to London to spend a day catching up with his family and then traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, to begin another journey- cycling from Cape Town to Trafalgar Square in London, England. 17,500km(10,874 miles) on a bicycle.  Again, he sent out emails to the people he had met along the way and kept us updated on his trip.

duncan stokoe

During his journey, he said that one of the highlights was, “Seeing wildlife on the bike is pretty cool – so far I’ve seen oryx, zebras, monkeys, ostrich, an amazing herd of springbok that I chased for about 10 minutes before they turned and came sprinting either side of me, and an amusing stand off with a warthog.” He also included a highlight as, “be allowed to stay at a friend of a friend’s game reserve in Namibia. Spending two days driving round with the farm hand ended up turning into my own private two day safari with the highlight easily being getting to feed the rhinos at the end (see photo 3) – slightly nervous as i stand between a fast approaching 3 ton rhino and his dinner.”

duncan stokoe feeding a rhino

I remember seeing this for the first time and saying to myself, “WOW! Wouldn’t that be cool? To see this animals in the wildlife instead of at a zoo?” He finished this journey on December 22nd, 2013, just in time for Christmas! Now, I bet you can guess what he’s doing- another adventure! This time, he’s traveling with a group from Chile to Alaska in a VW van. Click on the link to like their page on Facebook and follow along with them! After hearing about Duncan’s adventures in person and by email, he’s truly inspired me and motivated me to want to explore the world in a different way. I chose to share his story this week because I hope it inspires you the way it inspired me. It’s fascinating to consider all of the places we can travel in the world. All we need is the drive and motivation to do it. The world is our oyster and it’s up to us to take advantage of it. I hope you enjoyed reading about Duncan’s story! Please share this with others who you think might enjoy it 🙂 ###

134 days down, 12 to go: Observations from Salta and Jujuy

purmamarca jujuy argentina un pueblo chico


[Photo of Purmamarca, Jujuy, Argentina. Population in 2001: 2,089]

WOW! Time really does fly when you’re having a great time and boy have these four and a half months flown by. I can’t believe I only have 12 days left here and then I’ll be back in Arizona. I have mixed feelings-sad to leave the culture, the friends I’ve made, and the language here but excited to see my friends, family and return to my life in Arizona.

This week’s post is about a few observations I made while visiting Salta(the capital city of Salta) and Jujuy(San Salvador de Jujuy and Purmamarca-two provinces in the North.

Foreigners stick out more

While in San Salvador de Jujuy, with of population of over 230,000 people, we definitely caught a lot of attention. Since Jujuy is farther North and has a warmer climate, the people tend to have darker skin. As a result, we stuck out like a sore thumb. A group of men even decided to call us out by yelling, “GRIIIIIIINNGGOOOOOS!” from across the street. I felt a little intimidated but got over it since I’m used to people staring at me in Buenos Aires because I’m a foreigner.

They´re more formal in the Northern provinces

The people tended to use usted, which is the formal word for “you” whereas in Buenos Aires, almost everyone uses vos, the informal word for “you.” I’ve heard that they use vos for everyone in the Capital because the don’t believe they should put someone higher than themselves for age, occupation, etc.

The people are friendlier than in Buenos Aires(The capital)

Whenever we needed help or bought something at a store and left, they people were always 10x friendlier. Instead of just chau, hasta luego(bye, see you later), most people also included something along the lines of quĂ© les vaya bien(similar to the way we use “have a nice day”).

The “ll” sounded less like “sha” and more like “jah”

I was told this before but didn’t realize how different it sounded til I heard it in person. In Buenos Aires(the capital), the people usually pronounce the “ll” like a “sha” but in the North, people pronounced it like a “jah.”

Well, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below! 🙂