Same, Same- but Different.

Same Same- But Different.

First scene when getting out of the Airport at Ho Chi Minh City- Hello millions of people…. (a recurring theme throughout the trip…)

My first thought – ‘ How the hell are we going to find Ida and Matt?’ — Well, thankfully we did, and so our 2 week trip begins:

We spent a couple days in Ho Chi Minh- eating crabs on the street, drinking beer while sitting in miniature plastic chairs, and getting fitted for some tailored clothes before heading off to Phu Quoc via Vietnam Airlines (surprisingly good).

Phu Quoc is an island that is part of Vietnam but lies in Cambodian waters. It’s gorgeous. We spent 5 days here- exploring different beaches, going snorkeling, eating sea urchin and celebrating the Lunar New Year with fireworks- the year of the Cat (in Vietnam).

After Phu Quoc we headed back to Ho Chi Minh and explored the city a bit more as well as the Cu Chi Tunnels (where the US was defeated during the Vietnam War) before leaving for a 2-day excursion through the Mekong Delta.

Day 1 of the Mekong Delta involved lots of jumping on and off boats, a bee farm, local food, and a homestay- the best part.

Our homestay started with 4 Vietnamese men picking us up on motorbikes. Me and my driver lost everyone after about 5 minutes- so I got a bit nervous considering I had no idea where we were, I didn’t understand a thing this guy is saying, we are in the middle of nowhere, it was pitch black outside, and well- we were driving on these tiny back roads…  besides all that- It was so fun- and after about 30 mins we stopped at this gorgeous place right on the river and everyone is waiting for me. Hey- its not my fault I had the slowest motorbike.

At the homestay we spent 1 night hanging out with some Kiwi’s that were very chill, and had the funniest kids, as well as drinking beers with the guy who runs the homestay and his neighbors, playing guitar, and in the morning taking another boat ride down the Mekong to a floating market- and some more tours of the area (The trip was well worth the homestay- but after 2 days with 30 other tourists- well we were a bit sick of following our tour guide around and listening to him talk about rice, coconuts and other stuff- tip: Do it solo).

Our last 2 days were spent back in Ho Chi Minh– doing some last minute shopping (obviously)- where lots of lotus lamps were purchased as well as some colorful clothing.

All in all- Vietnam was wonderful. The people were so friendly and always willing to help out (even if we didn’t understand them- and I decided to speak Spanish with them- for some reason this made more sense than say English. I don’t know. ). The food was good and always interesting, although it all tastes very similar. I also really liked Vietnam because it is not as exploited as say- Thailand, but it probably will be soon.

Take home message: Go there. Eat Hot Pot. And Buy some sweet lotus lamps. Well worth the 10 bucks

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Now back to some ‘Thesis work’. Muacks! xxx


Nos Vemos Chile!

Ahhhh so much to write about…

The last weeks in Chile were absolutely amazing. Partly because I had two great friends from GWU visiting me, and partly because I got to re-visit all the places I’d done my first phase of research at.

So here is a bit of a recap of what we did:

Santiago: Ildi and Adrienne land at 6 am- I had one of my last meeting with my supervisor before starting Phase 2 of research (more on that in a bit)… then I go wake them up and we go on our drinking tour of Santiago. We had some awesome Chilean sushi for lunch (and beer), then headed to get some famous ice cream right by my apartment, then off to Bellavista for wine, met up with my ‘family’ for  some more wine and empanadas, and then well lets just say our drinking tour ended at 4 am with us losing our key to the apartment and having to spend the night  at a friends (Thanks Henrik!), and none of us felt that fantastic(well– I felt alright) the next day when we had to make our way to Valpo.  However, we made it and after a couple hours of sleep and Chorrillenas we were ‘Fit for Fight’ for the upcoming New Years!

New Years 2011- Valpo/ Viña: Can we say — Synchronized Fireworks. Yup they exist. From Valpo down to Concón we viewed fireworks on the roof-top of the apartment we (Me, Ildi, Adri, Henrik, Thea and Martin) rented with lots of other friends and neighbours. It was amazing and a lot of champagne was consumed… We stayed in Viña for a couple more days, spending time in Reñaca on the beach, going to the dunes, eating mariscos, and playing kings (in the middle of a bar).

El Quisco/Algarrobo/ Isla Negra–  I obviously had to take my friends to the places  to where I’ve spent most of my time outside of Santiago. We hung out on the beach in Algarrobo, met up with Karen in El Quisco for some lemonade, made it to Isla Negra and Pablo Neruda’s house (pretty but not worth the 3 luka for the tour), and I also had time to interview 4 different presidents for phase 2 of my research, while Ildi and Adri spent some time on the beach. Good work girls.

Cajon de Maipo– Hiking in mid-day in 30 (celsius)+ degree weather is not my favourite activity, however, making it up to the top was well worth it. Fernando – our guide , and now good friend, let us stay at his family’s house and we had a BBQ at about midnight after our hike. Mmm good!

In the mix of all this fun, I also had to complete my research. aka Phase Dos. Which meant interviewing the 8 presidents of all the Sindicatos that I’ve been to previously. And well, yes, my spanish has improved, but having in-depth conversations about views, strategies, etc., in Spanish was going to be nearly impossible ( I mean it would be difficult in English and Swedish as well…), but luckily my friend, Paulina, helped me with everything. We made it back to El Quisco, Las Cruces, Algarrobo, Maitencillo, Quintay, Montemar, and Los Molles! The interviews were very interesting and a good way to get a different perspective of how these organizations work.

After finishing my research, I spent the last couple of days  in Santiago getting together all my stuff, a wine tour at Concha y Toro with friends, having a final meeting with Stefan, and lastly a lovely birthday party for Thea/ goodbye party for me. Sangria and friends- wonderful combo.

There are also a few things I’m going to miss a lot when back in Europe:

1. Palta. It’s number 1 because there is probably nothing more delicious than avocado on toast (this combination is completely competing with ice cream right now…)

2. Men saying (under their breath) “Que Bonita” or ” Que Hermosa” etc…. It was a nice little ego boost everytime I walked anywhere…( and no- there was no obnoxious whistling actually…. well at least not until I dyed my hair back to blonde… )

3. Guys with long hair. (Not the ‘I haven’t showered or shaven in weeks’ look, more like ‘ I can pull this off and somewhat look like Johnny Depp’ look. Swedish guys need to get on that).

4. Awesome hippie imspired fashion. Colours everywhere. Wearing black all winter is not happening this year.

5. All the AMAZING people I met along the way. You are all missed.

6. The ocean and everything that comes along with it.

7. Good cheap wine.


Now I’m back in Sweden, where it is cold, and dark. Fortunately I have a ton of stuff to do, such as moving back to Stockholm- SÖDER (wooohooooo!!!!) , starting my data analysis, and in about 10 hours going to visit my sister  in Vietnam. So although I do miss Chile, being back home is not that bad either.

I’ve also decided to keep up with the blog, but from now on it may be about more things than just research related, but don’t ya worry- I’ll update ya’ll on that as well.

Much love,

La Sueca

p.s. Nos Vemos Chile- June perhaps?

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Floripa! Oh my!

Brazil. You are gorgeous.

So this last week I spent in Florianópolis, Brazil with my study buddy Daniel. Although the weather was so so (it rained a bit), Floripa was fab. I spent a lot of time on the beach making new friends with all the stray dogs (they loved me). We went white water rafting- and our guide was from Chile- so naturally awesome. And of course- we had to make some pepparkakor (gingerbread) for Christmas- which I spent with some interesting construction worker friends of Daniel (haha check the pics).

Also in Brazil I tried some new food:

Acai- frozen berries that are ground up with ice and served with granola and your choice of strawberries, bananas etc. SO Good. Super healthy.

Caldo de Cana- freshly pressed sugar cane juice!

Pão de Queijo- literally Brazilian cheese bread. Mmmm!

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But after a week it was time to head back to Chile. I have about 2 more weeks left, which means a lot of work, but also alot of play! Two of my amazing friends are here visitng me and we are spending New Years in Valpo— although off to a bit of a rocky start in Santiago (we lost our keys to the apartment and well-lets just say we figured out we aren’t 18 anymore), however, we made it!

Happy New Years! Nos vemos en 2011! xoxoxo

Over and ‘OUT’.

Friends, Amigos, Kompisar…

I’m a bit—- exhausted.

These last couple of weeks have been amazing. I’ve been up and down the coast from Los Molles down to Las Cruces. Here’s a bit of a recap from each place:

Las Cruces–  Although a bit disorganised this place is amazing– and thank god for Elliott- a friend I met through Paulina. Las Cruces is not as developed as the other Caletas I’ve been to…  so Elliot and I had to drive from house to house and track down different members. It was pretty fun, and interesting (standing and yelling ‘Hello’ to a house to see if anyone is home…) to try to find everyone, but in the end it all worked out- 17 interviews! Woop woop!

Montemar– Right in the middle of Reñaca. This Caleta is stationed right under a research centre that is part of the Univeristy of Valparaiso. This is good and well- bad.  The university is expanding and thus building all around this Caleta- there is constant construction and noise- the fishermen don’t seem to enjoy it too much- however the university also does help by bringing resources and hopefully in the future new projects. I really enjoyed being here (I went twice)… and since my friends Paulina and Andres have worked here before it was easy to establish connections and contacts with all the members….

Maitencillo– BY FAR- my favorite place in Chile… thus far. This is the furthest… 3.5 hours… I’ve been from Santiago and probably one of the reasons I liked it so much.  I stayed with a friend of my supervisor- Francisco- his mother rents houses for vacations etc— so obviously- I rented one. Absolutely beautiful- and the beach was just about 2 minutes from the house.  I stayed for the weekend- interviewing for a couple hours the first day with FranciscA- and then she had to go back to Santiago- and I did the rest by myself— 27 in total (I’m a bit proud of myself for that).  The members were so so so friendly, helpful and positive. They truly enjoyed what they did, and felt like part of the community (they have houses right on the beach). The President  is well organized and has established different comissions for different areas from the management area, discipline, social problems etc., and everyone understood the reason for a management area… yay! I spent a good deal of time just hanging out, drinking some wine and eating ceviche (no food poisoning this time) with them. And before I left I went for a walk with my supervisor’s friend  to another beach— check the pictures- there is a house there that is GIGANTIC- and it looks like a Castle.  All in all- great.

Los Molles– Another great place. And also a bit farther from Santiago- about 3.5 hours. Paulina and I went for 1 day and ended up interviewing 17 people. This Caleta is very productive (lots of algae– check the pics) and  like Maitencillo is very well organized. On the way back we decided to hitchhike back to Santiago…. this was interesting. We ended up stopping a pickup-truck – meet our driver- Julius Caesar (I’m not kidding about the name…)… and yes he was going to Santiago- however this also ment a bit of stop in a town called El Melon- where we drank some beer with him, and then about 4 hours later we got safely to Santiago. However, I obviously had to forget my ‘golden’ notebook in this guys car— with all my information, dates, numbers, phone numbers etc., but  thankfully Paulina took his number- so yesterday I met him and got it back. haha. Good one.

Quintay– This Caleta is located about 1.5 hours from Santiago, however down a very very veryyyy windy road (almost got sick). I went with Francisca and Celia- again like Maitencillo and Los Molles- Quintay is very well organized, and has an exceptional president. We ended up interviewing 20 members- during a meeting they were having-  here is how it worked: The president would send out 3 members and we would talk to them, and then they would send out 3 more, etc.,  and this continued until we had talked to everyone. Suuuper fácil.

Algarrobo- 3 days and done! At first a bit difficult to get people to talk to us, but by day 2 and day 3— not a problem. We were also there for a good amount of time just hanging out, helping and watching them bring in a fresh catch of lapa- a benthic resource. Francisca, Celia and I made one bad-ass research team and interviewed about 35 people. (AWESOME).

And well– yes its been a lot of work, but I’ve also managed to hang out with friends and enjoy Chile as well. I’ve met some fantastic people through Martin- my hairdresser- who transformed my hair from- orange,blonde, brunette— to brunette. Thank you.  I’ve been to some new places in Bella Vista (Adri y Ildi— we are going bar hopping)… and last night I went to kickboxing with two friends. Scenario- Me, my friends Thea and Sophie in a class with all guys who do this at least 3 times a week—- here is the place:

The class involved running for about 20 minutes ( I don’t run), and then doing different punches, jabs, kicks, etc with partners (thank god for padding) and well — today my entire body hurts. It was fun, but I think I’ll stick to yoga.

Entonces- its the weekend por fin! —  Out in Santiago tonight and then  spending some time in El Quisco with my ‘family’ before I leave on Monday for Florianópolis, Brazil! Sooo excited.

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Take care and Much love and God Jul, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad! or whatever else fits.


Thanksgiving wedding- Björn style.

Hey Loves!

So this past week I spent one of the best American holidays, Thanksgiving, on St. Croix- an island part of the U.S. Virgin Islands… probably the closest I’ll get to the States in a while. We spent Thanksgiving on a boat going to Buck Island and then snorkeling. It was pretty fantastic- and they had rum punch. Even better.

The next days were filled with some history- going to a Danish Fort in Christianstad, a sugar plantation called the Whim, and then going to JUMP Off- the islands excuse to party and have people walk on stilts for entertainment- Moko Jumbies.

However,  the real reason for going to St.Croix was for Björn’s wedding. It was fab, a bit confusing in the beginning with the photographer being late, Ingrid (Elke’s mother from Germany) talking, and us kids (Ida, Me, Rick and Heidi) just laughing. All in all— it went well. Then we all went to Jump Off- where Elke danced around like a little princess and my Dad chased/limped (right— he broke his foot a couple months ago and is missing a tooth- He looks like a pirate) around in his  Steeler crocs after her for an hour before he gave up and sat down.

It was reallly nice to see everyone and I also got bit of a break from the research thing. BUT now back to work- I have 3 locations I’m visiting this week- starting tomorrow with Las Cruces (again), Algarrobo, and Reñaca, and then next week Maitencillo and Quintay. Good thing is that I like what I’m doing.

Besos! 🙂

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Peace out Santiago- ¡¡¡HOLA Fishermen and the Coast!!!

‘Ello Loves.

So now its officially SPRING (Summer in my mind). Aka 25 degrees and SUNNY. Did I mention I get to hang out on the Coast for the next 6 weeks. Yes- Life is FAB. I had a great week/ weekend. Finished my Survey (after many revisions by Stefan and Juan Carlos Castilla). This past weekend I went to Viña del Mar or more specifically Reñaca. The weather was fantastic and so was the beach. AND Sushi. OMG- they wrap it in palta. Could I have been happier? Nope. (Check the pics) ….I also went to a friend of a friend’s birthday party, Valpo, walked on the Dunes (awesome), and basically just hung out.

Then back to Santiago for a day at the Barrio Bellavista- my new fav. place in Santiago. Lots of great bars, restaurants, and little shops, after that off the zoo (yes – it was not that bad) and then to La Casa en el Aire (you get somewhat of a weird communist vibe here) with live music and beer. All in all- great weekend. I’m falling in love with Chile.

Tonight I leave for El Quisco. My first interviews start tomorrow…. eek. I’m quite nervous but it should be alright. I have help and the people are pretty nice. However, I’ve got to interview at least 85% of the members- this means pulling out all the Swedish/American (which is better?)  charm I can muster. Wish me luck!


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Mi primera semana en Chile!

Hey Loves.

So yes- I got here. I survived the 20 + hour trip from Mälarbaden to Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile to meet my other supervisor- Stefan Gelcich. He is a professor in the Ecological Department but works ,as of recently, with more social aspects of ecosystem-based management and other fun things. Yay! He also works under Juan Carlos Castilla (for us Science nerds- its like Carl Folke or Johan Rockström- aka Awesome).

I’m actually living with Stefan’s parents- Karen and Sergio. They are fantastic. Karen (former model) is from England and has worked for the British Council and she now teaches English to upper level students. Sergio was a photographer (hence how they met) for a magazine, but now works for the stock exchange. They are world travellers and have countless collections of art, books, music etc. As well as wine 🙂 Not a bad place to stay until I leave for the coast. Oh yes- and two cats,  Karen’s mother who I call ‘Grandma’ (she told me to do so), and Claudia- the housekeeper, and cook who is wonderful and makes me dry my hair (or I might get sick?).

Last week I spent getting acquainted with Santiago. I’ve walked around the city with Sergio who showed me all of the museums that I must go to before I leave as well as some other places to eat and so on. I’ve also checked out  a yoga studio- Yoga A Luka- its quite good actually. For about 2 dollars/class I get all the Chilean-Spanish yoga I want for 1.5 hours- however I only understand about 60% of what they say- so sometimes its a bit difficult, and I do get dirty looks from the instructors when I look up when we should be closing our eyes- Oops. (Don’t worry I’m learning …fast).

During el fin de semana- I went with Karen and Sergio to their beach house in El Quisco. The house is amazing- a mix of hard and soft- involving wood worn by the wind and sea, shells, stones, and plants- everywhere. (oh yes and 2 cats). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

But now- back to reality. I’ve had meetings all afternoon with Stefan and we’ve pinpointed what I will be doing- so the next couple of days I will be working on a questionnaire outline and other tasks. I’m also working a lot on my Spanish- which will be needed for when I have to do interviews with fishermen.

So far so good!

Abrazos y Besos

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