I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be back in Córdoba as I am right now, and that is the toll that travelling for two weeks straight, hopping from hotel to hotel, and spending hours on buses travelling, takes on you. We got back around 8:00 this morning, and the first thing I did was take off my shoes and fall into bed and sleep until noon. It truly amazes me that some people can take 1 or 2 month long backpacking trips in South America or in Europe. I miss the feeling of staying in one place too much to take that long of a trip. However, you might say that I’ve been doing that for over five months now Now for the details about the adventure!
On Saturday night, we left for Mendoza, and arrived bright and early Sunday morning. We didn’t have a hotel/hostel booked, and just planned on walking around the city to find one with openings because they usually aren’t too far of a walk. Seeing as Mendoza is an actual city with a bus system and everything, it was a much longer walk than we anticipated and it took us some time to find a hotel. After getting all settled in, we went out for a bite to eat and explored the city a bit. On Sundays, Mendoza is literally a ghost town. Not only was it difficult to find an open restaurant, it was difficult to find another person. We spent the rest of the day exploring the city and the gorgeous park with a view of the Andes, as well as planning our adventures for the following day. Here’s a pic of the Andes from the main park in Mendoza:
The next day, we planned to excursions for whitewater rafting and zip-lining! We left bright and early from the hotel to head into the Andes for a day of adventure. Neither of us had ever been whitewater rafting nor zip-lining, so we weren’t exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into. If you’ve never been whitewater rafting and you get the opportunity, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity because it is probably one of the most fun excursions I’ve ever been on in my life! Sarah and I can proudly say that we didn’t flip out of the boat at any point along the river, although I did catch Sarah a couple times when she fell into me and prevented her from going overboard Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from the excursion at this point because the company gave us a DVD and I have yet to figure out how to take the pictures off of the DVD and save them to my computer haha. Zip-lining was another incredible adventure! We were both quite nervous after our guide explain to us everything we needed to remember while on the line as well as the signals we had to memorize, but after the first run, all of the nerves left and it was pure adrenaline! On the second to last run, we went tandem with our guides so we could go upside down and no-handed. Cabeza baja is what the Argentinians call it, and the translation literally means head down. I cannot describe with words what it feels like to upside down with no hands over a hundred feet in the air as you are cruising along a wire. It has to be one of the most adrenaline-filled things I’ve ever done in my life, and I absolutely loved it! After our adventures, we decided to do a mini-wine tasting because Mendoza is known for its Malbec wines. I have yet to develop my taste for wine, so it was more interesting just hearing about how wine is made and all of the random things you can find in it, such as butter, mushrooms, and cedar. It was a fun experience, but it did not make fall in love with wine haha.
Our last day in Mendoza, we decided to face our fears and go paragliding! We tried to go here in the province of Córdoba when we went to La Cumbre, but the wind didn’t cooperate. Here’s a picture of the view we had before making the jump: If you’re curious to see what it feels like to run off of a cliff and jump from a mountain top, paragliding is the sport for you! It was an exhilarating feeling, and I felt like I was on the giant swings at the State Fair, minus the chords connecting me to something on the ground. Here’s a pic of the view, and the person you see paragliding is Sarah and her guide: Although I really enjoyed the experience and the adrenaline associated with it, I have to say I’ll be keeping my feet on the ground for a solid amount of time now. Looking back on seeing just how vulnerable we were to the wind makes me kind of nervous and thankful we landed with out any troubles
That night, we made our way through the Andes mountain range on our way to Chile for the rest of our vacation. We originally planned on staying in Santiago for a day, but upon arriving, we realized it was too big of a city and moved on to Valparaiso. Unfortunately, Valparaiso was just as much of a city as Santiago, but it was already midday, so we decided to find a hotel for the night and head on to Viña del Mar the following day. While in Valparaiso, we tried a Chilean dish called chorillana, thinking it was similar to Choripan, a delicious Argentinian dish. We were horribly wrong haha. Here’s a photo of chorillana, and it’s literally a base of french fries with chopped up, low quality hot-dogs, cheese, and onions: That night we decided to use the hotel’s kitchen and make some fajitas, which turned out absolutely delicious and made up for our lackluster lunch.
The following day, we made our way over to Viña del Mar, which has to be the most Americanized city in South America I think I have ever seen. Let’s just say we had Burger King for lunch, Papa John’s for dinner, KFC for lunch another day, and Pizza Hut for dinner the last night. They even have a shopping mall with a Chuck E. Cheese! The weather didn’t cooperate with us to actually go swimming in the ocean because the highs were only in the 60′s, but watching the waves was still incredible. Here’s a picture of how big the waves got along the beach: With waves this big, it was probably a good thing the weather didn’t cooperate and we couldn’t go swimming haha. Along the beach, various artists make sand creations that our absolutely spectacular, and here’s a picture of a dolphin that a man made in less than a day: (FOTO) We spent the last couple days relaxing, touring museums, and walking around the city. It was a nice way to end the vacation because moving from place to place was really starting to take its toll on us.
We got back to Córdoba this morning after leaving Chile at 8:30 in the morning! It was a long day of bus rides, but travelling through the Andes mountain range by bus during the day was definitely worth it. I can’t believe that people crossed through the Andes on horses and with fully equipped armies a few hundred years ago. Now we have just 5 short days to buy some last minute gifts and to say goodbye to all of the wonderful friends we’ve made down here. I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone by and that it’s nearly Christmas! After travelling for the past two weeks, I can say I’m ready to be heading home. It’s been an incredible experience and I’m going to miss Argentina, but it’s at the point where I’m excited to be home with family and friends. I’ll be posting another blog about the return trip in a week to let everyone know that I made it home safe and sound Good luck to everyone taking finals this week and I hope all is well back home!