A year in Instagram

If you’re on Instagram you’ve probably seen about a million of these already. For those not in the know, spinoff site Statigram lets any Instagram users compile a quick video of their 5 most liked photos from the year. It’s been fun looking back at people’s pictures, and I was intrigued to see which of my shots got the most crowd appreciation.

Since my phone is only slightly more useful than a brick, I can’t post video to Instagram itself, so I figured I’d share here. I’ve clearly lost some blogging momentum in the second half of this year, but you’ll still find me pretty religiously dedicated to Instagram – follow Emily in Chile┬áthere or just enjoy this quick summary.

Of my travel photos, Russia and Peru made the cut. Moscow at sunset is certainly deserving of the love, as is a truly top notch lunch at Mercado in Lima that I haven’t gotten around to writing about yet (oops). People love Lola, as they should. And apparently you guys are suckers for a good red lipstick. But perhaps the best part is that since creating this video a few days ago, a new photo has swooped in to take the title of my most-liked picture ever.

Sushi boat

Moral of the story? Travel, cute dogs and hot make-up are all fab, but nothing beats acting like a crazy person with your significant other and delicious food. That sounds like a pretty good takeaway from 2013. Happy New Year!

Life on an English dairy farm

In England, my dad’s closest neighbors are cows. One of my favorite things about this small island is that country life is alive and well, even close to things that are more my usual style like international airports and delicious Indian restaurants. And in our case, it just takes a walk down the lane to visit these postcard-perfect black and white faces.

Dairy farm cows

When the farmer and his wife invited Rodolfo and me down to help with the milking, we jumped at the chance. These people are great neighbors, so of course we were happy to lend a hand. It quickly became apparent, however, that the invitation had actually been a polite way of allowing us city slickers to check out where the white stuff in the carton comes from – our “help” was more like “trying to stay out of the way of a smoothly run operation.”

Milking shed

For the record, these cows all seemed perfectly happy about the process. No one forces them into the milking shed, and they stand happily munching their pellets while being milked by machines. Despite the fact that they all looked the same to us, the farmer knows each cow and takes advantage of milking time to check on any health problems and give their udders a little TLC with balm.

Dairy cows

This knowledge of the herd is important when it comes to the best thing we saw that day – TWO WEEK OLD BABY COWS. The mothers are given antibiotics during birth, and the milk sold for people is strictly regulated to be antibiotic-free. While most of the milk goes into one general refrigerated vat, the milk from cows that have recently given birth has to be separated into buckets that go to the calves. And, in some cases, to the farm cats as well.

Baby cow

Dairy farm cats

Speaking of those adorable babies, our reaction to them was one of many cultural differences we discovered. I, of course, couldn’t get enough. I mean look at their little faces! The farmer, on the other hand, laughed at me while explaining how actually the babies are kind of annoying – they all push and shove to drink the milk and get so enthusiastic that if you’re not careful they’ll slop it everywhere. On a farm where there’s lot of work to get done before daylight fades, time is precious, and ungainly calves causing trouble are less cute than inconvenient.

Dairy farm calves

Beyond just the calves, it was clear that Rodolfo and I are not dairy farmers. We asked questions about everything, from teat unguents (blue goo) to whether they drink milk fresh out of the cow (yes, but we couldn’t because since we’re not used to it our stomachs might get upset, and it’s illegal for them to sell it that way), and were fascinated by the responses. Clearly to the farmers our questions were akin to someone asking how cars work, but it was all new to us!

Dairy farm equipment

Although we did not, by any stretch of the imagination, help, we were both allowed to put a machine on a cow. And, more importantly, we avoided being kicked or getting pooed on. Everyone expressed surprised afterward at how clean we were – meaning no actual cow crap on us, as we certainly reeked to high heaven – but interestingly enough no one had told me beforehand that literally getting shit on was very likely!

Calves

We’re grateful to the whole farm family for welcoming us city mice and letting us see what milking is all about. “The English countryside” as a bucolic concept is beloved around the world, but that usually means cows in green pastures rather than in dark milking sheds. It turns out, however, that even the smelly, hard work side of the equation is pretty damn cool.

Visiting the Acropolis

Well hello there. It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted. Life got in the way, between preparing for my annual trip to California, actually enjoying said trip, and then coming back to Chile naively thinking “now I shall sort out my life” before a tidal wave of work made it clear that sleep was barely on the agenda, so I could forget about blogging.

Acropolis

But I’m back. I still like Athens. And today you get the big guns in that department. Oh yes, it’s Acropolis time.

Karyatid porch

At one point in my life, thanks to that Classical Civilizations minor, I could have led you through this series of photos with a reenactment of the Great Panathenaic procession which led up the hill to the Parthenon. Now I can barely remember that the frieze around the top of the Parthenon depicts that ceremony, and the details are as fuzzy as most of the remaining carvings.

Parthenon frieze

What I can say is that when they tell you to go early, they mean it. This is what the entrance looks like at 1 pm. Taking a picture without about a hundred of your fellow tourists is impossible.

Acropolis entrance

Luckily I didn’t mind sharing, and my goal of taking better photos this time around was achieved despite having to jockey for space (not hard considering the snapshot quality of pictures from my first visit!). Even if you’re not a history geek, blue skies and white marble from ancient times makes for good eye candy, right?

Acropolis view

After this day of sightseeing, I had to get down to the real reason for my trip to Athens: work. And while I ate plenty of delicious food, there are no photos because I like to try to avoid professional embarrassment and therefore do not pull out my camera at work dinners. So until next time, Athens. Save me some souvlaki.

Temple of Athena Nike

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