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guac Issue 06 Fall 2020

Senses Mexico City Singapore New Orleans Barcelona SĂŁo Paulo Iceland

Letter from the Editor

Like many things, this issue (our 8th one!) was put on hold as we all figured out how to adjust to new difficulties and distance. Despite the challenges, our amazing Guac Magazine team, currently scattered across the world, has brought this digital issue together. For my first issue as Editor-in-Chief, I’m so happy to share Senses with you. It is a love letter to the places we’ve been and how we’ve experienced them deeply with each of our five senses. Travel looks, tastes, smells, sounds, and feels different right now. We’re not running around new places with our friends in search of an adventure. Instead, we’re taking long drives around our cities or going on hikes somewhere close to home. We’re spending time in our kitchens trying new recipes instead of breaking bread with locals. Though sometimes it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s certainly there. We will be traveling the world again, and each sacrifice and safe decision we make brings us closer to that day. Until then, I hope our issue can bring you to the middle of a neighborhood favorite taqueria in Mexico City where people gather to share food and history or drop you off in the freezing waters of Iceland where you float, in awe of nature. Maybe instead you’ll find yourself experiencing the sensations of Brazil, Singapore, New Orleans, or Barcelona. Wherever it is, we’re happy to take you there. Wishing you good health, joyful moments, and inspiration for your future travels.

Your friend, Emily Jacobsson

Table of Contents 32 About

02 Letter from the Editor

Light Follows


From ‘Hello’ to ‘See You Later’


The New Orleans Blues


Getting Rid of the Blues in Barcelona


The Senses of CEAGESP


The Land of Ice, Sharks, and Darkness


Callista Wessells

Jonna Chen

Alexandra Li

Ariana Gamarra

Amanda Qiu

Sarah Luo

Light Follows WORDS Callista Wessells PLACE Mexico City, Mexico



he air is cool, and you feel your skin ripple with it. There is a slight breeze, a rustling, and the air is neither dry nor humid, but rather fresh with coolness. Even as your skin prickles, reacting to the change in temperature, it also adjusts quickly, drinking in particles of the air. It is not the kind of air you expect when passing through the airport doors into the embrace of a vast city.You expect to be bombarded by sounds, colors, clashing smells. But instead, stepping out into the realm of Mexico City, you are enveloped in a cool and quiet night. It is lovely to arrive here for the first time, shielded by the darkness. There is something here that lets you feel as though you can slip into the fabric of the city. Something about the darkness and the coolness lets you trick yourself into believing you can be part of the city, that you can be a fragment of its vastness. The car ride is smooth, and the ease of it seems like another product of the cool air. The window muffles the sounds of the city, separates you from it, all while the young driver plays music

in English—probably for your sake. He is well dressed and doesn’t say much, other than to offer you water and ask if the temperature is alright. There is a part of you that wants to roll down all the windows, but you don’t. You recognize a few songs on the radio, but despite this, and despite the darkness that covers your surroundings, you know intuitively that you are in a foreign city. It is one of those cities that has the endearing quality of feeling vaguely familiar, like you may have visited once years ago, when in reality this is your first time here. Its streets are just alien enough to remind you of the secrets the city carries. Tonight, the roads are busy, but the cars and motorcycles that populate them seem calm in their journeys to the far corners of the city. In the morning, you realize the deceptiveness of that late-night drive. Sunshine streams through the translucent curtains, and when you look out, you are level with the street. Outside, the coolness remains and the light follows. There is light everywhere you go. The streets are full of it—on the sunny stretches and in the dappled shadow, too. Trees line the streets; they are tall and twist


ed, intertwined with vines and telephone wires. Projections of leaves fall on the windows and walls of every street. It seems to be a city of pink and orange, of purple, green, and blue. The vibrance of everything is apparent, undeniable, but also unhurried. It has been close to a week, now, since you first stepped into the cool air of this immense city. Now the sounds and smells and sensations accumulate: afternoons walking the shadowy streets, fluctuating between a hot, heavy heat and the chilliness of the shade; the smells at the marketplace weaving together; the yellow heart of a mango, the tartness of a guava, the special way limes are cut here so you can squeeze the most juice out of them. La Ciudad de MĂŠxico has a quality of life about it, an ability to appeal to your senses and wants to expand them. It is there in the voice of the young man at the fruit stand, asking his mamĂĄ how much the pineapple costs. It is there in the grainy sugar that coats late-night El Moro churros and in the pinks and oranges of hill-side houses that surround the city. It accumulates, grows, adds to your understanding of what this place is like. But it still feels hidden, and you wonder, often, what it is like to really live here.


So now it is dinnertime, somewhere around eight in the evening, and the streets are dark. There is a long line—it wraps down the steep steps and continues around a construction site—but you are happy to wait because waiting must be a good sign. The people here are young, and they seem like locals, although you do hear the occasional conversation in English. You think that they must have all come straight here—with briefcases and backpacks, wearing work-out clothes and suits, taking out their headphones when they see their friends and wheeling bikes alongside them in line. The line moves quickly. Your group makes it to the top of the stairs, and now you can see inside the diner-style taqueria. The walls are tiled, red and white, and it is hot. People are crowded into corners, and the tables are loaded with tin dishes and napkins, hot sauces and extra tortillas, beers and fuchsia-colored drinks.

In this space, everything is condensed, heightened. The noise, the closeness, the heat, the colors. Each table has its own conversations, its own history, but there is a feeling of connection between all these people being together in the same space. You think the city is beautiful for its art and history, the ironic symbolism of sinking colonial-style buildings, the shade and quiet streets. But you also know that it is spaces like this restaurant that unite the people who live here—the simplicity of sharing a meal, of taking the time to do this. The composition of the room mutates over the course of the time you are there, with people coming and going, chairs shifting, waiters criss-crossing paths as they carry food. The service is quick, and the food is delicious. Chicharron is the specialty here—crispy, tender meat perfectly portioned in corn tortillas. None of the coolness of the night comes inside. Instead, it is all


warmth, all light. After you finish, a waiter comes over; he asks you quieren otros taquitos, and there is something endearing about it, the way he says it, but you don’t order more and only thank him. When you all rise from the table, and when you walk down the steps together back into the night, you know that this meal is special. You will remember it for some time—the warm atmosphere and the tables crowded with food and people. As you turn around


the corner, you look back, seeing the window and the red letters, brightly lit, above it. The line has diminished, now, and already the memory seems to fade slightly. You turn away, once and for all, and there is a lightness that follows. This feeling, this snapshot of red metal chairs and the hum of voices, becomes a treasured remembrance.

CALLISTA WESSELLS is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington studying American Studies and English.


From “Hello” to “See You Later”

WORDS Jonna Chen PLACE Singapore



ight when the plane lands on the tiny island and you take your first step out of the aircraft, you feel Singapore: the sticky, hot, and humid air. Your clothes automatically cling to your skin and your hair frizzes to the point where your ends look like they are attempting to get as far away as they can from your scalp. That was exactly how I felt as a pubescent to-be high school freshman, stepping out of Changi Airport onto the island where I would reside for the next four years. The contrasts between Singapore and suburban East Coast USA did not stop there. Sleek glass reflected the sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy sky, and oriental bright colors celebrating the upcoming holiday replaced the brown brick that I had grown up with. The occasional car cruising by my neighborhood turned into 24/7 traffic that I could hear all the way from the balcony of my new apartment. Singaporean English — also known as ‘Singlish’ — made ‘can’ into its own phrase and appended ‘lah’ onto the end of nearly every sentence. Mall food courts were analogous to hawker centers, open-air complexes with low-cost Michelin star rated food. There, the languages the ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ yelled in, as well as the smells of the curry, thick soy sauce, and grilled meat swirled


“never There are just some parts of Singapore that I can get used to, despite taking life here one day at a time for the last four years...

in the air, felt simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. The food I ate everyday shifted to include plates of authentic Asian food and a new collection of utensils — spoon, fork, and chopsticks — at every meal. My taste buds were flooded with new flavors, from the spicy curry coconut milk of laksa to the satisfying feeling of roti prata. Having grown up in an Asian American household, I could understand snippets of Mandarin spoken on the street and felt the occasional craving to eat soup dumplings at a more authentic Din Tai Fung restaurant than those found in the U.S. But this havoc found in night markets? The durian odor wafting around? And this helplessly humid and hot air? I had no idea how I could end up calling this place home. Hours, days, and months passed. I had my first day of high school, wearing a school uniform for the first time, and I finally got to celebrate Chinese New Year in Taiwan with my grandparents. Singapore became an endless playground of green and glass rearranged into spanning gardens and infinite hidden malls. Every weekend, there was somewhere new to explore — another skyscraper, another national park, another dish. But as quickly as the firsts started up after touching down in Singapore, the lasts began. In the blink of an eye, my first time getting on the school bus became my last, only now I was al-


most four years older and two inches taller. My hair, sleeked by a straightening perm and saturated in hair oil, now sat tame. The humid air felt like a cozy blanket for me every time I walked outside wearing a simple t-shirt and shorts. On any unpleasant day, I wandered down to the nearest hawker center to order a serving of Hainanese Chicken Rice, a now comfort food with all its fragrances. I understood nearly any rapid-fire Singaporean accent thrown my way. If anything, ‘can’ and ‘lah’ have become an integral part of my everyday speech. I didn’t have to hold onto the handrails on public transport anymore. Google Maps, once used so frequently, was now left practically untouched in my phone as I made my way to the theater in which my high school graduation ceremony took place. The only aspect of Singapore I had not gotten accustomed were the sights. Old buildings were still constantly disappearing while shinier monuments take their place. Whether it is the shops in malls switching in and out or entire airport terminals popping up, there was always something new in progress. The assembly of Jewel and Terminal 4 for Changi Airport had been extremely well anticipated, opening only a few months before my graduation. The jam-packed collection of multi-story shops and dining spots housed Singapore’s first Shake Shack and Pokémon

Center, attracting plenty of students during after-school hours. Tourists’ jaws dropped as they craned their necks upwards to stare at the source of the Rain Vortex, the world’s largest and tallest indoor waterfall. A week after my high school graduation, my suitcase clacks against the ridges on the airport floor as I drag it towards the waterfall to get a glance of

inside. As I turn my back on the water and make my way to check in for my flight to New York, I know that this is not a ‘goodbye’ to the unfamiliar country I set foot in as a high school freshman. It’s just a ‘see you later’ to the place that has become my second home.

this revered attraction. The sight of the roaring water falling seven floors from the roof to my feet of the urban jungle widens my eyes as I marvel at the unapologetic nature of the water’s convexed path. There are just some parts of Singapore that I can never get used to, despite taking life here one day at a time for the last four years. However, they don’t channel only amazement anymore. They cause pride to well up

JONNA CHEN is a sophomore from both Ithaca, New York and Singapore majoring in Computer Science. Her favorite place to visit would either be New York City or Singapore, and she would give anything for a plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice.


The New Orleans Blues WORDS Alexandra Li



rriving in New Orleans the night before New Year’s Eve, it was guaranteed that the streets of NOLA were going to be absolutely packed. A clash of the new and the old, streams of people flooded the streets. Despite the modernization of the region, hints of its rich history appeared through the architecture. The buildings were a pastel rainbow of forest green shutters against salmon hues, white columns contrasting dark wood panels. Flashing neon signs for bars and clubs lit up the cobblestone streets, smoothed over from centuries of pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages crossing them. Remnants of Christmas decorations peppered the streets, twinkling lights intertwined with green garlands

looped around wire balcony rails. Red bows adorned streetlamps, and wreaths hung from the doors of apartments on the edge of the Quarter. Among the holiday festivities, people walked out of the shops sporting massive 2020 glasses in the colors of Mardi Gras—purple, green, and yellow. Amidst the bustling crowds, local cafes offered a haven for the tired and hungry. Bronze chandeliers cast a soft glow on the brick-lined walls, cracked with age. Wired chairs and tables along the walls and windows provided a cozy, picturesque warmth. String lights criss crossed above the heads of tourists clutching steaming cups of mocha and earl gray tea. Standing in line

behind customers sporting purple, green and yellow beaded necklaces, I excitedly waited to order the dish that I’d been craving since arriving: beignets. The light brown choux pastry, generously topped with powdered sugar, looked mouthwatering. Carefully balancing one in my hand, I bit into its fried shell, the crisp exterior crackling as I chewed. Inside, the light and fluffy dough combined with the powdered sugar instantly melted in my mouth, coating my tongue before quickly disappearing. Accompanied by a tiny mug of espresso, the beignet tasted best dunked into the coffee. The espresso seeped into the pastry, dissolving the sugar and sweetening the drink to counteract the bitter coffee. Having had dessert before dinner, I went to a nearby restaurant to try some local favorites. First on the menu was gumbo, a delightfully flavored soup loaded with shellfish and shrimp. Unbelievably fresh and creamy, the seafood also had a briny tang from being soaked in the gumbo broth. As if I could eat more, next up was the main course: grilled cheese. The butter lightly brushed on the sandwich glistened in the low lighting, the cheese stretching nearly half a foot long as I pulled the halves apart. Biting into the golden-brown toast, I felt the pepper jack instantly pool into my mouth, the spice kicking in as I began to chew. With a full belly, I stepped back out onto the lively streets of New Orleans. From every inch of the French Quarter, music blasted from the streets. Strolling past a bar, I heard strains of Shakira’s “Hips Don’t

Lie” while catching the last notes of a violin concerto coming from the balcony of a restaurant. Waiting in line for Preservation Hall, a local jazz venue, the crowd buzzed with excitement. I overheard conversations in Chinese, French, and a language I couldn’t identify from the people around me. Shuffling inside the cramped building, the honk of a saxophone and the strumming of a bass greeted us as we squeezed into the dimly lit room. It felt like a movie scene with the musicians dressed in pinstripe suits and fedoras—attire reminiscent of the 1960s. “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen,” announced the ensemble leader, a shiny trumpet in hand. The side conversations instantly ceased, and silence fell upon the audience. The ensemble played a collection of jazz pieces, featuring solos to showcase each instrument: the saxophone, bass, trumpet, trombone, and piano. As the crowd got moving to the music, and the musicians were soon accompanied by the stomping of feet, clapping of hands, and hollers and whoops of an audience completely engrossed in an exhilarating performance. At the end of the show, the crowd burst into applause, and the musicians, with beaming smiles, bowed deeply. Exiting the venue, with the stars twinkling above, I made my way back to the hotel, entirely in awe of the New Orleans experience. ALEXANDRA LI is a sophomore from Highland Park, New Jersey studying HBHS. Her favorite place to visit is NYC for its vast variety of good eats.


Getting Rid of the Blues Words Ariana Gamarra Place Barcelona


fter studying in London for just over a month, I begin to feel homesick. Missing home and my friends back at Cornell leads me to spontaneously book a trip to Barcelona. Knowing that a big part of this trip will consist of solo exploring, I continue to reassure myself that this is the best decision to make. While the sun burns through the layers I am wearing on the plane, it also welcomes


me as I make my way to the center of Barcelona. As I board the train, I am instantly surrounded by my native language, Spanish. My ears cannot not help, but pay attention to something that sounds so familiar, so excited to have the opportunity to speak this language that I continue to hold to so dearly since moving to the United States. As I leave the train, I come face-to-face

with a building I have seen before in a magazine and is part of my travel bucket list: the “Casa Batlló.” Exemplifying Antoni Gaudí’s creative vision and his practicality in architecture, the vibrant sea colors of the tiles and the curves of its molds give off a whimsical feeling of being under the sea. His revolutionary architectural style transports me to a different world throughout Barcelona. I then go to the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, a place hard to capture all of its features in just one glimpse. Every little aspect of it seems to be designed with a purpose in mind, each tower for the four disciples of Christ and each statue carved on the building telling a different story from the bible. The basilica not only amazes me from the outside, but also from the inside with its towering pillars intended to resemble trees. Gaudí’s appreciation for nature, which is present throughout his works, makes me reflect on how mesmerizing nature is and how it should not be taken for granted. Gaudí’s presence continues in Park Güell where I wander through the sand colored, man-made rock structures and feel as if I am inside a Disney movie. Climbing all the way to the top of the structure, I am surrounded by palm trees giving off a tropical vibe, and a view that reminds me of Barcelona’s diverse ecosystem which extends from the sea to the mountains. The vibrant colors are also present throughout Las Ramblas of Barcelona through its small details, like mosaics, stained glass windows, and flowers hanging from window sills and balconies. I decide to get lost in these narrow streets, a labyrinth of alleyways, wandering until I reach the beach, all while listening to the Cheetah Girls Barcelona soundtrack. Each store I pass by shows the colorful spirit of Barcelona with its fashion full of bright colored silk scarves and skirts. There are also many food places selling the famous “Jamón Serrano’’ sandwiches with

cheese. This reminds me of my first evening in Barcelona, when I sat in the Bunker del Carmel to watch the sunset with my friend savoring this sandwich and enjoying the sweet, fruity taste of red sangria. Considering that it is my last day in Barcelona, I decide to end it correctly by getting one more “Jamón Serrano” sandwich and some of Barcelona’s delicious pastries. As I near the beach walking along the boardwalk, the sun shines brighter, uplifting my spirits. As I sit down and face the turquoise colored sea and the mountainous, lush landscape, Barcelona captures my heart and makes me feel at home with its cuisine and language. The artistic person in me falls in love with every one of its streets and eye-catching architecture, a balance of nature and city. A place where I can escape the frantic city streets and be by myself, connecting with the surrounding environment. Even though I am saying goodbye to Barcelona, I leave it feeling more confident and at peace. Solo trips let you be more aware of the place you are staying at; you delve into your senses and reflect on your perspectives of the trips you take.

ARIANA GAMARRA is a senior from the Bronx, New York studying Information Science and Sociology. Her favorite place to have visited has been the U.K. for its history and beautiful landscape. Illustration credits to Megan Cabaero.


The Senses of CEAGESP WORDS Amanda Qiu PLACE São Paulo, Brazil


Sight Companhia de Entrepostos e Armazéns Gerais de São Paulo (CEAGESP) is the largest open market in all of Latin America. Located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, CEAGESP hosts hundreds of food vendors, who sell ripe fruits, crisp vegetables, colorful flowers, fresh fish, and thousands of types of traditional Brazilian snacks. This market is located in a giant warehouse with open window holes at the top and no walls. The fresh products are lined up in long, endless rows, piled high with passion fruit, papaya, and pineapple, others overflowing with sunflowers, roses, and daisies, and still more with lettuce, tomatoes, and kale. The produce is bountiful and leaves the warehouse looking like a painting full of endless colors, textures, and hues –a rainbow maze.



“Frutas e vegetais frescos à venda! Cinco reals!” Voices of vendors shout out the prices of their products, advertising their low prices and great quality.

The hot sun beats down on my skin before I walk into the shade of the market. Under the canopy of the warehouse, the shelter cools my forehead. The cool breeze coming into the open market airs out the stuffiness brought by the hundreds of people buying their groceries. The shoulders of passersby brush my arms as we push against each other crossing the aisles. My hands guide me to samples of the best pieces of fruit. I feel the cool firm shells of the watermelon, and the stickiness of the juice as it spills all over my hands. I feel the spiky armour of the rambutan as I peel the skin off to find the soft, white fruit. But, my favorite feeling is the bubbly Guarana soda sliding down my throat, a perfect combination with the shade.

“Desculpa!” (excuse me) Hundreds of people walk around me as I scour the aisles of the open market. Families asking their children what they want, followed by crying, whining, and screaming for brigadeiros and candy. *Tsss* *crack* The sound of the fried pasteles and pão de queijos as they are popped into the hot oil, getting ready for hundreds of shoppers to eat. CEAGESP is filled with voices, laughter, and the background sounds of the machinery, which keep it running. It is never quiet in the market.



Smell Every aisle of the market holds a new smell. Where there are flowers, the air is pollinated with natural smells of the earth. Where there are freshly cut melons, their sweet smell permeates throughout the area. The smell of the bread in the deep fryer waft straight into my heart. Though, what attracts the most people is the savory smell of roasted pork and grilled beef. The aroma triggers the salivary glands. The smells of these foods bring me home.


Taste Taste, however, is what I remember the most. I first sample a bunch of tropical fruits from atemoia to acai, each with their own distinctly sweet flavor and texture. I, then, pass a food vendor with shoots of sugarcane piled up high on the side of the stand. Sugarcane is the taste of my childhood, so when my cousin tells me I can have the sticks juiced and bottled, I almost cry. I load up on 3 bottles of sugarcane juice. The sweet, chilled, nectar of the sugarcane fills my cheeks and refreshes my body. It is what I would imagine ambrosia to taste like. Now lunch—the heavy, juicy, savory foods that I’ve been waiting for the whole day. I sit down at a long bar-style table facing the grill and a giant bowl of oil, preparing for never ending salgados, a popular Brazilian snack. The bar is lined with so many sauces filled with different levels of heat and spice. My cousin hands me a kebab of an unidentified meat and without hesitating, I take a bite. The meat is seasoned and charred to perfection,


but the flavor is one I was not familiar with. After I express how much I like it, my cousin tells me: “Tastes like chicken right? That is a chicken heart.” After I found that out, I am not sure if it tasted as good as the first bite, but I’m glad I tried it once. The star of the afternoon, however, is the pasteles: crispy, rectangle-shaped, thin crust pies filled with meat and cheese and fried in vegetable oil. I order the pastel de frango com catupiry. As I bite into the flakey crust, I am met with perfectly seasoned and juicy shredded chicken along with a white, spreadable, soft cheese. From the flavors to the colors, CEAGESP immerses my five senses, an unique experience in my travels. Because of its vibrancy, a sense of reality arises when I dream of the market, almost like coming home.

AMANDA QIU is a sophomore from Hudson Valley, New York studying Information Science. Her favorite part about traveling is to experience the culture through food. The next place she wants to visit is Hawaii! Illustration credits to Nicole Tan


The Land of Ice, Sharks, and Darkness WORDS Sarah Luo PLACE Reykjavik, Iceland


When a tour guide first informs me that rotten shark is an Icelandic delicacy, my instinctual response is repulsion. Why eat something that already doesn’t sound appealing, but also needs to be rotted in order to be edible—not to mention its capability of making Gordon Ramsey vomit? To this day I’m not entirely sure, but it doesn’t stop me from shoving a piece into my mouth and washing it down with a glop of Reykjavik’s iconic rye bread ice cream. As someone whose temperature of preference is in the high 70s, my trip to Iceland results purely from my desire to experience the world during my semester abroad. Besides introducing me to the ammonia-like taste of rotten shark, the country enlivens me, from its freezing waters and roaring waves to its pitch black nights.


It is quite a journey to arrive at Cafe Loki for this famed delicacy. My friend Jamie and I finish exploring an indoor ice cave at the Perlan museum and exit onto a steep hill with unlit trails. After attempting and failing to follow Google Maps back to the main road, we combine our phones’ flashlights to just barely pierce the intense blackness that envelopes us. Upon reaching a highway intersection, we continue in the general direction of Hallgrímskirkja, whose bright white peaked outline grandly marks Iceland’s largest church—the landmark we use to pinpoint the cafe from afar. However, aiming for the giant white building is easier said than done. Several incidents of accidental jaywalking later, my senses adapt to the darkness, and I am kept alert by the rare sounds of passing cars and the feel of the path in front of me. Nonetheless, our loosely guided voyage from one landmark to another embodies the adventurous spirit of traveling that I am looking for in Iceland. The darkness doesn’t end here. Jamie, our friend Frances, and I sign up for the obligatory Northern Lights bus excursion in which our guide enthusiastically navigates us to an intentionally remote location to “hunt” for the elusive natural phenomenon. Frances arrives late and is assigned to another bus, so it isn’t until we stop at our guide’s


second viewpoint that we are able to join her. While less than 10 feet and a small crowd of people lay between us and Frances, we had to shout to find each other due to the heavy blackness. Only a thin line of city lights is visible in the far distance; apart from that, the faint white Northern lights and its backdrop of glistening stars are the only colors to be seen. On the bus ride back, I feel a pang of loneliness from the shield of nothingness on both sides of the road. No houses or trees greet me—only the neverending plains that I know are there from earlier in the day. Despite this notable emptiness, the darkness commands my attention more than the bustling streets of Times Square or the busy bridges of Venice ever could. I learn at Þingvellir National Park that snorkeling, while exciting and highly rated, looks incredibly boring from an observational standpoint. Jamie and I watch the snorkelers in front of us slowly descend into the water and bring themselves to a face-down float. The current is supposed to carry us, we are told, so our main concerns are to lie there, breathe, and avoid bumping into others. As we put on our drysuits and disinfect our goggles, we prepare to see the fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

“.. the country enlivens me, from its freezing waters and roaring waves to pitch black nights.� 29

My first breath underwater is accompanied by endless blue. I am half submerged in water, too cold to be safely exposed to for longer than 45 minutes, and staring down into 42 meters of tectonic plate. Due to the lack of wildlife in these waters, my entire view is boldly yet calmly still. As I begin to paddle, I try to visually compare the heights of the people ahead of me with the floor of the fissure, which seems closer to me than realistically possible due to the emptiness of the water between us. I entertain myself by holding myself afloat half out of the water so I can simultaneously see the underwater world, the rocks making up the walls on either side of us, and the large mountains in the distance. I keep paddling until I arrive at an incline, where a very smooth flat surface brings the sea floor back to my level. After that, the fissure isn’t as deep, and I begin to miss the view already. This expanse eventually leads to a shallow lagoon, where I take time admiring the rock formations and the hieroglyphic-like patterns naturally engraved onto their surfaces. I later realize that the shallow area merely divides the deep channel into two, and the immense depths came into view so slowly and ominously as I pass over them that I have to stop and retrace my path several times in order to memorize their beauty. This timeless geographic formation


probably remains unmoved as I sit here recounting my experience months later. Yet, it continues to surprise me how captivating such a spacious, lifeless sight can be. Clap. I watch Frances’s face drop as a menacing gray wave rushes past our feet. I look up from my camera, suddenly knee-deep in the liquid ice that Iceland calls ocean water. Two pairs of pants, fuzzy socks, and rain boots do not prepare me for the freezing dampness that I suffer through for the rest of the day. In the moment, though, it makes no difference to me. What commands my attention is the seemingly monochromatic image I am standing in. The fine grains of sand that my boots imprint are a consistent shade of dark black, the roaring white waves crashing past leaving layers of wet gray sand. I have taken plenty of natureoriented trips in the States, but the black sand beaches in the southern city of Vik do not compare to those experiences. My eyes can’t stop scanning the stationary rock formations in the distant fog; the shock of its beauty is renewed with every 360 I take. This simple color difference challenges my entire conception of the word “beach.” From the taste of rotten shark to the overwhelming

sights of blue stillness at Þingvellir, every sensation I experience in Iceland feels foreign and intriguing. As the finale to my semester abroad, I cannot have asked for a better adventure. Who could have predicted that a country possessing the most powerful darkness I had ever seen would open my eyes like never before?

SARAH LUO is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated with a degree in Human Biology, Health, and Society in spring 2020. She is currently working remotely in Ithaca for Acsel Health and serving as outreach director for Vita Innovations. She is looking forward to exploring more of Europe once it is safe again to do so.




Guac is an award-winning travel publication run by an interdisciplinary group of students at Cornell University. We aim celebrate cultural diversity and inspire communities to view the world with an open mind. AUG 2017

NOV 2017

Let's start a travel magazine

Hidden Gems, Our First Issue

The headline news story was of President Trump's travel ban on predominantly Muslim nations. As international students, we wanted to value of diversity to be appreciated and known. This is why we started a travel magazine. To celebrate the beauty of the world and inspire people to go out and experience different cultures for themselves.

For our first issue, we wanted to truly show the different level of diversity the world has to offer. This is why we chose the theme Hidden Gems. Written by friends who traveled to various interesting places, this issue exposes some of the world’s best kept secrets that is often overlooked by travelers.

JAN 2018

MARCH 2018


40 Students, 14 Countries

Perkins Prize

More than a magazine

After a semester, we grew into a publication of 40 students from 14 countries, representing 5 different continents. This is only the start, we are only getting bigger and more diverse!

Only after 8 months, Guac Magazine was awarded an honorary mention for the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial & Intercultural Peace & Harmony. We believe we are the youngest club at Cornell to have ever been awarded with this honor.

We are embarking on a new and exciting journey to expand our impact beyond delivering high quality print magazines. We are creating a growing community where diverse voices can be heard and barriers will be broken.

Find us on guacmag.com, Medium Guac Magazine, Facebook Guac Magazine, Instagram @guacmag All illustrations of Guac characters were created by Eric Lee








Issue Designers


Julia Hans

Chloe Tsui

Grace Han

Justin Zhang

Maggie Ying

Sally Han

Sara Choi

Matthew Canabarro

Steph Tan

Annabelle Davy

Irene Wu

Catherine Pan

Grace Yang

Edward Guo

Social Media

Emily Jacobsson Director of Operations

Ashley Loke Content Executive

Zoe Hauser Creative Director

Pete Assakul Digital Design Director

Jimena Fernรกndez Marketing Director

Marertu Girma Social Media Director

Staff Writers

Allegra Albanese Lourdes Garcia Katie Lee Kaitlin Martin

Melody Zhou Ethan Shao

Karen Zhao


Megan Cabaero Nicole Tan

Dana Chan

Digital Designers

Finance Director

Josephene Ginting

Ploy Chirathivat

Kexin Luo


Julia Pienkowska

Shirley Ren Sophie Ruan

Huy Le Daphne Tan

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Profile for Guac Magazine

Guac Magazine - Senses  

All our actions trigger one of our five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Guac’s issue reflects on writers' experiences takin...

Guac Magazine - Senses  

All our actions trigger one of our five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Guac’s issue reflects on writers' experiences takin...

Profile for guacmag