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!
Due to the lack of internet in my home in Córdoba and the fact that I’ve been travelling the past two weeks, it’s been awhile since the last post on here. Currently, I’m writing this blog from Mendoza, Argentina, which is a city just on the Argentinian side of the Andes mountains in what the locals call wine country. Stories from this adventure will come in the next blog because I have too many stories to tell from my Uruguayan adventure that took place all of last week.
We left Friday night for Buenos Aires by bus with two of our friends that we met through our program. From Buenos Aires, we took an hour ferry ride across Río de la Plata to arrive in Uruguay. Buying the tickets for the ferry was quite some process and we got the port a good 15 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to embark. Luckily, neither planes, buses, nor ferries leave at the scheduled time down here and we were able to go to the counter to buy our tickets, receive a piece of paper to go to a different counter to pay for the ticket, go to a different counter to check the bags, take the stairs up to security, go through security, and get our passports stamped before the boat left. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very organized nor efficient system, but we made it, which is all that matters. Here’s a pic of the ferry that we took: We spent the day walking around Colonia, which is a little colonial town in Uruguay on the coast. After dropping off our luggage in our hostel, we walked down to the pier and to the harbor on the other side of the peninsula. There’s an old lighthouse in the city that we were able to climb, and here’s a pic of the lighthouse: While on top of the lighthouse, we ran into three Americans who work for the US Embassy in Buenos Aires! It was nice to hear a familiar accent
The next day, we took a bus to Punta del Este, a town on the coast a little north of Colonia known for its beaches. Punta del Este is literally a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and is one giant beach with lots of condos and hotels. Because it’s so well known, everything was super expensive, so we only stayed for two nights. Here’s a pic of the beaches that stretch throughout the entire peninsula: One side of the peninsula faces West, so took advantage of every opportunity we got to watch the sunset over the ocean. It was so beautiful and incredibly relaxing to sit on the beach and watch the sunset every night. I’m not quite sure why, but one side of the island, there’s a giant hand monument that sticks out of the beach. Here’s a photo of the hand: If you find out its significance, please let me know because I’d be curious to know!
After spending a couple days in Punta del Este, Sarah and I said goodbye to the girls from our group and made our way to Piriapolis, a smaller town an hour South of Punta del Este. Sarah and I easily won the award for youngest tourists visiting, as everyone else seemed to be 65 and older. Piriapolis was an absolutely beautiful town and we were fortunate enough to visit during the down season, which meant we were able to stay in an old Tudor mansion directly across the street from the beach for the half the price. I still can’t get over that we stayed in this hotel for $35: The name is Hotel Colon, and it’s an old mansion that was turned into a hotel by the owners who still run the hotel. Sarah and I made the most of the beach every single day and we now have the tan to prove it Piriapolis also faces the West, so we were able to see the sunset every single night over the ocean. The last night we were in Uruguay, I saw the green flash for the first time in my life! Ever since the third Pirates of the Caribbean, I had been wondering if such a thing really exists, and it does! Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean somebody has come back from the dead; it’s just an optical illusion. Here’s a beautiful photo of Sarah looking into an Uruguayan sunset!
I couldn’t believe how fast our little week in paradise flew by! We made the long trip home via two buses in Uruguay, the ferry, and then another bus from Buenos Aires to the Córdoba. I was completely exhausted when I got home at 8:00 in the morning and slept until 12:30 or so. That evening, Sarah took me out to a tango show in Córdoba. We were originally planning on taking lessons before dinner and the show, but unfortunately lessons weren’t offered that night. The food was absolutely delicious and the show was a lot of fun!
This brings us to Saturday of last week, the day we left for Mendoza to start our next adventure. Before leaving that night, we made a trip to Mar Chiquita with a couple of our Argentinian friends. Mar Chiquita is a sea in the province of Córdoba that is saltier than the ocean. You couldn’t swim for very long because the water burned your eyes and dried out your mouth. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to float though! It’s not quite as salty as the Dead Sea, but it’s salty enough where you can float without much effort. We left that night for Mendoza and are currently travelling through Mendoza and on to Chile the rest of this week. I’ll be writing a blog early next week with all of our adventures from our latest excursion. Travelling is starting to take its toll on us, and living out of a suitcase is getting pretty tiring. I can’t believe we’ve only got 10 days left in Argentina though! It seems like just yesterday that I started writing this blog. I hope all is well back home and everyone is enjoying the snow and the start of winter
Wow this week has been absolutely crazy with everything wrapping up as well as travelling throughout the province of Córdoba. I finally say that I have finished my semester abroad and all that’s left are three weeks of travelling! Apologies in advance if this blog isn’t very thorough; I’ve been super busy all week and now have an hour before I leave for Uruguay and still have yet to pack
Thursday was our going away dinner with everyone from our program, which also just so happened to be Thanksgiving. Our program coordinators did a fantastic job giving us our own little Thanksgiving dinner because we couldn’t be home to celebrate the wonderful holiday with our families. They even had pumpkin pie!!! I ate my fair share…three and half pieces Surprisingly, I was about as full after dinner as I usually am on Thanksgiving because the girls couldn’t finish their meals and I received all of the leftovers. We followed up our Thanksgiving dinner with a going away party at a boliche that Saturday night. The going away party was held at Studio, the boliche that seriously looks like it’s straight out of the movies. Here’s a pic from the upper level, which we had with all you can eat food: All of the speaking partners were invited to the going away party, and it was an absolute blast! It was the first time we stayed at the boliche until it closed at 5:00 AM and I wasn’t tired afterwards. Maybe Argentinian culture is starting to rub off on me after all!
I worked my last day at Pluto’s on Monday, and I pulled an eight hour shift because it was a holiday so we were extra busy. It wasn’t quite the same as Black Friday busy, but there was still a substantial amount of people. Saying goodbye to my coworkers was my first goodbye, and I sadly realized that it’s the first of many. At first, I was really hesitant about how much I’d be able to get out of working in a toy store, but I have to say it has to be one of the most helpful aspects of my time here in Argentina. A large part of this can be attributed to the people I worked with who made going to work a blast because we played games when nobody was in the store. Here’s the group: That night, we met up with our friends from Puerto Madryn to show them the pictures from our trip and make empanadas. It was really nice to catch up with them and to spend the night outside on the patio talking for a couple hours.
Tuesday, Sarah and I spent the day in Carlos Paz, a small town just an hour outside of Córdoba. This is the town where my Spanish teacher from high school grew up, who was the reason I chose to study Spanish as well as study in Córdoba! Thank you Señor Giorgis The city of Carlos Paz is beautiful with lots of palm trees as well as a lake. Nothing was really open because it was a Tuesday, but it was so nice to be outside the city and to get out on the water on a paddle-boat for a little while! Sarah took me to an ice cream shop where we got this monster of a cone for eight pesos, which is the equivalent of two dollars: The only negative part of the day was the horrible sunburn I got because I underestimated the power of the Argentinian sun.
We took another mini trip on Wednesday to La Cumbre and Capilla del Monte, which are located about two hours outside of Córdoba. Both are really quaint little towns situated at the foot of the mountains. We took a bus to La Cumbre first in hopes of going paragliding, but the wind was out of the wrong direction and didn’t cooperate with us so we took another bus to Capilla del Monte. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Capilla del Monte, but it was nice to get out of the city and walk around a bit. We walked outside the city to the dam, and here’s a picture of Sarah, Sam, and I on the rocks near the dam with the river in the background:
For those of you who know me, you know that I may be one of the best procrastinators in the world, so me finishing my paper a day and half in advance is pretty incredible! I finished my 10 page paper on my internship yesterday afternoon and it wasn’t due until today After I was done, I felt like I should be going to bed because I usually finish papers around 3:00 AM, not at noon. I wanted to get the paper done with because I had to meet up with my group to prepare our final presentation and then go out salsa dancing for the going away party for one of the girls from our group. Salsa dancing was a lot of fun, but I had a hard time not mixing up the salsa steps with my swing dancing! After salsa dancing, we went out to a bar for dinner and drinks to give Sam a proper goodbye party. I can’t believe she leaves on Monday, nor can I believe that we leave three weeks from today. It’s crazy how fast the time flies!
Today I finished my last academic obligation for my semester here in Córdoba. My group and I aced our presentation and now the travelling commences! Tonight we’re taking a bus to Buenos Aires, and then tomorrow morning we’ll take the ferry to Uruguay. We’re staying in Uruguay until next Thursday, so it’ll be another week before I post on here. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures with more ridiculous tan lines while I’m laying out on the beach for the next week I hope everyone is enjoying the snow back home! I’d take winter any day over a week of 95 degrees without air conditioning!
4 and half weeks is all we have left? Wow the time is FLYING by! We didn’t get to travel anywhere this weekend, so we decided to check a few things off of our “Córdoba Bucket List” while we had some free time. Friday night, we went out to dinner at Club Milanesa, a restaurant downtown that has giant milanesas. Milanesa is a typical Argentinian dish and it basically consists of breaded meat. Club Milanesa adds a little twist to this delicious recipe by throwing toppings on the milanesa as if it were a pizza. Sounds kind of strange, but it was mighty tasty Here’s a picture of what a milanesa looks like so you can kind of get an idea of what I’m talking about: After filling our stomachs to the max with milanesa, we met up with the group and decided to try out bowling! In Patio Olmos, there’s a bar/bowling alley, Bowling Space Bar, that offers late night bowling really cheap so the group of 8 of us decided to try out our bowling skills. Surprisingly, bowling is relatively new to Córdoba, and it was definitely obvious in the various bowling styles you could see in the other lanes. I’m not a great bowler by any means, but Friday night I impressed myself with a solid 129! To make me feel even better, the next highest score I saw all night was an 84, which was one of the girls in our group haha. Needless to say, there wasn’t anyone to make you feel incompetent while bowling because they’ve got double your score in half the frames, which is what usually happens to me when I go bowling back home. Here’s a pic of our group, the Cordobés Bowling All-stars: I think the guy taking the picture thought I was just a random guy who hopped in on the photo of all girls because he gave me a weird look. He didn’t realize that I’m literally the only guy in my program, and yes I’m hanging out with a group of 7 girls haha. We ended the night with some classic karaoke, and for those of you who know my singing abilities, don’t worry I didn’t belt out any solos I thought that Argentines were naturally good singers because they sing about everything in daily life, but boy was I surprised to hear some of the people who got up for Karaoke! They made me sound like I have perfect pitch, which is unfortunately far from the truth.
Sarah and I heard about an indoor ice rink in one of the malls near our houses, so we decided to go check it out before heading to the soccer game on Saturday with Marcos. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting for an ice rink in the middle of Argentina in a mall, but I was slightly disappointed upon seeing just how tiny it was. On top of that, I couldn’t even skate because you had to be wearing long pants to rent skates. I was tempted to tell them that I’m from the state of hockey where we play outside all winter on frozen ponds, and it’s occasionally warm enough to wear shorts while skating, but I decided against being sassy. We’ll definitely be back though, just for the fact that we can say we went ice skating in Córdoba, as well as we’ll definitely be the most advanced skaters there haha. It’s weird for me to think that people down here don’t know what a frozen lake, let alone snow, looks like because they live in the desert. I’m so excited to be back home for winter, escaping the heat After passing the afternoon in the mall, Marcos picked Sarah and I up, and we went to the Belgrano soccer game. Good news and bad news about the game. Bad news, we lost 3-1. Good news, Sarah and I finally got to experience our team scoring a goal after 4 soccer games!!! This alone was worth it because people go absolutely crazy! The atmosphere was still a lot of fun, even if we did get worked by the other team, and as always, the choripan afterwards helps to deal with the sorrow of losing.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to start my travelling as early as I would have liked because my final for my UNC class got moved to the 2nd of December. I was really looking forward to heading to Uruguay with the group next Tuesday, but now I’ll have to wait until Friday to join them. It’s crazy that the only thing that stands between me and the end of the semester is this presentation and an 8-10 page paper on my experience in my internship! 4 weeks from Friday we’ll be leaving, and I’m stilling have mixed emotions about going home because I can’t wait to see everyone and be home for Christmas, but at the same time it’s sad that I may not ever be back in Córdoba. We’ll just have to make this last month count Wow I didn’t even realize that we leave exactly one month from today! It seems like just yesterday we got here and thought that six months was a long time. I hope everyone has an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever you may be celebrating! Be sure to eat extra pumpkin pie and turkey for me
I’m pretty sure all Argentinian professors leave all of the work for their classes until the very end because it feels like we haven’t done anything, and now every class has a presentation! This week was jam-packed with preparing for exams/presentations and wrapping up some of my classes. I’m officially done with my history class, and next week my other classes all end and the travelling commences! Now for a little summary of my weekend, which as you can probably see, was pretty busy as well.
Friday night we bought tickets to go see the Nutcracker down here because I had never seen it before and Sarah told me we HAD to go. It was much better than the last ballet we went to, which was a modern twist on ballet that I couldn’t follow to save my life. The story line was pretty much the same, but they did throw in their own interpretation towards the end as the traveled around the world and showed different dances from different regions. I’m not sure if this happens in all ballets, but they sure do like their applause down here afterwards. We probably applauded a dozen times for each dance, the main dancers, the directors, the light people, the set crew, and then of course all of them together haha. It was a really fun experience though and I’m glad we had the opportunity to see a quality ballet for a cultural experience!
Saturday morning, Sarah and I took an early bus to go visit La Falda, a city within the province of Córdoba, for a day trip. We were semi-disappointed with La Falda because we had heard it talked up so much and upon arriving, we realized it wasn’t all it was cracked-up to be. Nonetheless, it was great to get outside of the city of Córdoba for a little bit and get out in nature. We made a small hike to the 7 waterfalls, one of the things La Falda is known for, but as you can see from this picture, it’s more like 7 drops of water Some of our friends told us it was really cool to go horseback riding in La Falda, but upon seeing the condition of the horses, we decided to hold off until a different location like Chile or Uruguay. I don’t know how fun it would be to ride a sad-looking, malnutrition horse through the mountains. After the waterfalls, we took a tour of the Hotel Eden, a hotel constructed in the 1920′s that the city of La Falda was built around. Apparently in its prime, the hotel was extremely luxurious and it cost a fortune to stay there, but after years of vacancy, it looks pretty ramshackle. They renovated the front half, as you can see from this picture: , but the rest of the hotel was pretty much left in its vacant state. Now, they do tours at night as well, which are pretty much just a bunch of ghost stories as you walk through the “haunted” hotel with nothing but a flashlight that the guide carries. I have to admit, it would be pretty spooky, and probably more interesting than the three hour tour we took haha. After the hotel tour, we attended mass in a small little chapel in town, and it was probably one of the most beautiful little chapels I’ve ever seen. It looked like the tour of a castle and didn’t sit many people, but it was absolutely gorgeous! I didn’t take a picture because I felt too touristy, but I would say it was very similar to the Saint Paul Seminary chapel, only smaller.
I won free tickets to an opera and to a concert through this competition we did with our program and Sarah won a free dinner, so we decided to take advantage of two of them for a Sunday date-night! The opera wasn’t your traditional, formal opera, but it was interesting and we enjoyed everything except the message it was sending. It was our first opera and it wouldn’t say it was my favorite musical event I’d ever attended, but I did enjoy it. After the opera, we took advantage of our free dinner and went to restaurant called La Mandarina. I had a delicious filet mignon and Sarah had some pretty tasty chicken and rice. We had 200 pesos to spend and Sarah went the cheaper meal route so she could get dessert afterwards We shared some apple-crisp-like dessert with ice cream on top and it was absolutely delicious! Overall, it was a really fun night to just get out and experience different aspects of the culture.
The crazy-busy weekend made the time fly by even faster, and I cannot believe that we we’ll be home in just 5 and a half weeks! Tonight we’re going to the Manu Chao concert with the free concert tickets I won from the competition, and it should be a great concert. Everyone we’ve talked said they tried to get tickets but it sold out too quickly. I’ve listened to some of the music and I think I’d compare it most to Bob Marley, just chill, relaxing music. It should be a good time and I’ll be sure to let ya’ll know how it went when this weekend comes to an end! I hope all is well back home and everyone is enjoying the snowfall! Given the couple of 100+ days down here without A/C, I cannot wait to come home to winter
It has been far too long since I’ve posted on here and I apologize for the delay. Last week was nothing too terribly exciting because Sarah was sick with Gastritis and I still had work while everyone was on vacation. It wasn’t a bad week, just nothing new/exciting/blog-worthy happened. The heat finally arrived to Córdoba and let me tell you, 100 degrees without AC makes for some long nights.
Now for the exciting part of my week, camping in La Quebrada de los Condoritos here in the province of Córdoba. Marcos, my speaking partner, invited Sarah and I to go camping with some of the people he works with and their friends. Sarah obviously wasn’t able to go because I weekend filled with hiking and eating random foods we packed wouldn’t have been the best for a stomach recovering from Gastritis. There was 18 of us in all, with 6 tents and loads of food! We left from Córdoba Saturday morning, only about an hour and half after we had planned on leaving. This should have really been expected seeing as it is Argentina haha! Our “guide,” Juan/King of the mountain, was delayed because he had to heat up water for maté, a tea that is unique to Argentina and absolutely delicious. Juan is a friend/coworker of Marcos, who also plays volleyball with us, and we deemed him our guide seeing as he’s climbed Aconcagua, the tallest peak in North/South America. Needless to say, we were in good hands. Here’s a pic of the group:
After we arrived, we had about a 20 minute hike to the camping location. As we began to unpack and set up the tents, it began to rain, and then proceeded to hail. The majority of the group got their tents ready and hunkered down inside to brave the storm, but Marcos and I were less fortunate: Us trying to set up a tent in the rain/hail was a joke for the rest of the weekend, but in our defense, the tent had some broken poles! Here’s a picture of the piles of hail after the storm: Everything was drenched and three of the tents flooded during the storm. Luckily we had extra sleeping bags in the vehicles because even the sunny afternoon couldn’t dry out our soaking sleeping bags. All of my extra clothes were completely drenched so we tried to spread everything out, hoping it would dry because the sun was breaking through the clouds. I was forced to spend the whole weekend in the same pair of shorts, compression shorts, t-shirt, and sweatshirt because it was the only thing that dried as we were hiking.
We decided to make the most out of the afternoon, and after removing all of the water from the tents, we decided to hike to the North Balcony of the park. The rain left this absolutely gorgeous rainbow over the valley , but we were unable to find the pot of gold at the end. There are two paths you can hike in the park, the North Balcony and the South, and we chose the North first because it’s shorter and not quite as difficult. The hike took us around an hour and a half or so, and the scenery was beautiful. Upon arriving at the North Balcony, we were able to see a few condors before a cloud moved in and blocked our view completely. Condors are impressive birds with a wingspan of up to six feet! Here’s a pic of one that came close enough to take a picture: Once the cloud moved in, we couldn’t see anything because we were literally in a cloud. For some reason, I’ve always wondered what it was like to be in a cloud for real and not in an airplane, and I have to say, it wasn’t as cool as I thought it was going to be. It’s just like fog and you can’t see anything haha. At least I can check that off my bucket list
That night, we made pasta, which tasted delicious after a long day’s hike! The temperature cooled off rather quickly, and I’d say it was probably down in the 50′s; perfect for sleeping in a tent. It was funny for me to see how the Argentinians reacted to the cooler weather because for them it was like the dead of winter. I was in shorts and a sweatshirt and only my feet were cold, which was a result of my wet socks and shoes, but everyone else was in long pants, winter jackets, hats, and mittens. They couldn’t believe that I was rather comfortable, and I proceed to tell them about winter in Minnesota. We came to the conclusion that they probably wouldn’t be able to survive a winter in Minnesota haha. After the majority went to bed, Marcos pulled out the a little ghost that made a “spooky” noise, so we proceeded to try and scare the girls in the group as they were trying to fall asleep. Our first two attempts were complete failures, but we found success when we proceeded to scare a few people from our group who had gone out to the cars to grab some stuff before bed. We hid in the weeds along the path and jumped out with the ghost. They were terrified
Sunday, we got up, ate a quick breakfast, and headed out for the South Balcony. The hike was considerably more difficult and took around 3 hours or so to complete it. We stopped by the river to take a quick rest and refill our water on the way, and I have to say that mountain water has to be the best water you can drink. Tired and soaking wet from sweat, we arrived at the South Balcony, and here is the spectacular view: We saw some condors flying right overhead, as well as numerous other birds. The smaller birds have no fear of people and this little guy came right up next to me, looking for food: We stayed up at the South Balcony for around an hour and a half or so before prepping for the return journey.When we got back to the river, we had a little picnic lunch before scaling the horrendous mountain that lay between us and our campsite. Everyone collapsed when we made it to the campsite, feeling accomplished and definitely exhausted. We packed up camp and made our way back home after a draining but fantastic weekend. I got home with just enough time to shower before heading to mass, which I’m sure was much appreciated by the people I sat near because I didn’t change or shower all weekend
I’m so grateful I was able to go on a camping trip in the mountains down here before leaving. It was such an incredible experience and I made lots of new Argentinian friends! This will definitely one of my experiences down here that I won’t forget, and I’m hoping we can maybe organize another mini-excursion before I leave in just 7 short weeks. I still cannot believe that’s all that’s left of my semester in Argentina! Lots of events are planned for this weekend and the week to come so I’ll have plenty more stories in the near future! I hope all is well back home, and I hope you all enjoy the snow, as it should be arriving shortly I’d take snow over 100 degree heat and humidity any day haha!
Another week has already flown by down here in Córdoba, and we’re less than eight weeks away from the return trip. Everything seemed to happen all at once for our classes this past week. It was like all of the professors realized we hadn’t really done anything in the past month, so now it’s crunch time with 3 weeks left of classes. I can hardly believe that I’ll be completely done with all of my classes and just left with my internship come November 23rd.
This past week consisted of studying for the most part because I had a quiz and a presentation on Wednesday, followed by a midterm on Thursday. It seemed like everyone was really stressed all last week with all that was going on, and we came the conclusion that it was not because anything was particularly challenging, but rather that we’ve become accustomed to not having a ton to do for school work. I’m already slightly nervous about the adjustment back to UST classes next semester! The one positive aspect about the increase in difficulty that I’ll be facing next semester is that my courses will be in English rather than Spanish. One fun thing I got to do this past week in the middle of all the studying was play volleyball with my speaking partner Marcos and some of the people he works with. It was a nice break from the books, and some much needed physical activity.
Friday night, we met up with a couple of our friends and went to Creambury, an ice cream shop, of course haha. They had never tried the “tabla de helado,” so we thought it was necessary to show them. Here’s a pic of it if you’ve forgotten what it was from one of my previous blogs: . The next morning, we met up with the people from our program and our speaking partners to play a little pick-up game of soccer! It was a lot of fun, but playing on super thin turf laid over concrete gave me some nasty blisters on my feet. On top of that, we were messing around and I tried to do a bicycle-kick, only to land on my ankle and have it swell up. I always seem to injure myself playing sports for fun, but it was a blast either way
Oh, I forgot to mention that over the past month and a half we’ve been voting for the people who speak the most Spanish from our group for prizes at the end, and Sarah and I won! She won a free dinner for two and a book, and I won two tickets to a concert of our choice. It looks like we’ll be having a free date in the near future
Last night, I got to experience my first Belgrano game. There are two main soccer teams in Córdoba, Belgrano and Talleres, and their fans are some of the craziest I’ve ever seen. It is all out hatred for the other team, making it a very interesting rivalry. Now, they are in different divisions so they never play each other, but that doesn’t stop the other team from heckling and taunting the other before/during/after a game. My family and my speaking partner are all “Hinchas,” their word for fans, of Belgrano, Las Piratas Celestes (Blue Pirates), so I was slightly influenced by them in my decision to become an hincha myself. Marcos, my speaking partner, invited me to the game with his brother and one of their buddies. Before the game, my host dad gave me a crazy looking hat to wear with my Belgrano jersey. This he said would be my ticket to get into the game haha. The atmosphere of the stadium was electric, and the passion in their singing for the home team is incredible! When everyone began jumping up and down, you could feel the stadium moving under your feet. As the home team enters the stadium, everyone throws tons of shredded paper everywhere. Here’s a pic of the aftermath in my seat: Even with all the excitement, Belgrano and their opponents, Colón, played horribly. To top it all off, there had to be the worst referees in the history of soccer calling the game. That’s one thing that doesn’t change anywhere in the world, hatred for the referees. People here even have songs they sing directly at the refs when they make a bad call, which was frequent enough last night that even I began to catch on to the songs! We ended up losing 1-0 because of a horrible penalty call, but it was still a fun night. We also ate some delicious choripan after the game, and nothing beats choripan at the stadium. I’m excited to go to the next game, and hopefully the result will be more favorable!
The week ahead is a free week in terms of PECLA classes, which are half of mine, so I only have my internship and my UNC class. Sarah and I thinking about going to the zoo one day and maybe horseback riding another, weather pending! Also, we’ll be going camping with Marcos and some of his buddies this weekend, so that should definitely be a fun time! I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween and stayed safe while out trick-or-treating
So after many long months of the dry season here in Córdoba, it finally rained! Doesn’t sound terribly exciting right? Well considering it hasn’t rained since before I’ve been, it may actually be worth writing home about I was beginning to doubt the existence of rain in Córdoba because for the past month, they weather people had been predicting rain in the forecast every single day, and just like home, they were wrong. For all of you who get so frustrated by the weather people not being able to predict the weather back home, it may provide some relief that down here it works just the same, if not worse sometimes. Córdoba is considered a semi-arid climate, so the frequent rain isn’t expected. However, 3 months without a drop of precipitation is a little too much for me. I’m used to rain, rain, snow, snow, snow, snow, rain, snow, snow, rain, rain, with a chance of snow always in the forecast because you never know what the Minnesota climate is going to decide to throw at you! Being surrounded by mountains, the city of Córdoba is literally shaped like a bowl, so all of the rain water flows down into the middle of the city. I’d always wondered why their sidewalks were so elevated from the main streets, with huge drains wholes in them, and now I’m well aware as to why. Here’s a picture that Sarah took on her way home, keeping in mind that we live in the northern part of the city were the elevation is higher than downtown: The streets become a river and everyone panics to get inside, while avoiding the need to leave the house for any reason. This day was the worst it has rained yet, so the water was really high. However, just yesterday, it started raining a fair amount and I had to take the bus to get to class. I was not aware that the buses literally send waves over the sidewalks as they are making their routes, and this is another reason why people avoid leaving in the rain. It was pretty funny for me, comfortably seated on the bus, to watch people running frantically towards the nearest building as the bus was approaching. I saw various people who though they were safe because they were standing right up against the wall of a building, only to find out that the waves could reach them and unfortunately had wet shoes for the rest of the day. I know it’s terrible of me, but I found it rather funny to watch these people going to all extents to avoid the bus-splash. I think the smartest woman I saw was wearing two or three-inch wedges, keeping her high and dry! She kind of looked like she was walking on stilts, but hey, whatever works to keep you above the river beneath your feet.
Also last week, we had an enormous thunderstorm, hail and all. I was at the University in class when it happened, and we didn’t get hit as bad as my neighborhood did. When I took the bus home, all of the streets were covered in leaves, branches, and flowers that had been knocked off of the trees. The Argentinians call hail “piedra,” which literally translated means stone/rock. When my host mom was telling me all about how it had rained stones, I found it rather funny, but understood her point nonetheless. My host dad was telling me about how big they were, and it seems to me like they had to have been at least quarter size hail. He also told me about his ingenuity in moving the car out of the hail by placing a cardboard box over his head to protect him from the hail. I can just picture my host dad running outside with a box on his head while hail is battering down on him and it just cracks me up every time I picture it haha. The next morning, we had to cleanup the mess the storm had left from the night before, and to my surprise, there were numerous dead pigeons all over our yard and the streets. I guess I never really thought about the danger hail poses to birds nesting in the trees, but it makes total sense. My host dad proceeded to pick them up and show me every time he found one dead in our yard, and he probably found a solid half-dozen. Our cat took care of the wounded ones he told me, as he saw the little black devil, Mefi, attacking a wounded pigeon on the ground. It’s a really sad picture, but such is the wild I guess.
This past weekend was really laid back because the weather wasn’t exactly the best, with sporadic rain and thunderstorms. Sarah and I did manage to get out for a mini-date on Friday night when we went to Don Luis’s Pizzería in downtown Córdoba. It is famous for it’s “deep-dish” pizza, so we thought we’d give it a go, seeing as how much we miss good pizza. The pizza wasn’t exactly deep-dish, nor what we were expecting. It wasn’t bad, but when you have high expectations for a quality deep-dish pizza in Argentina, you’re easily disappointed. They don’t really understand the whole deep-dish concept and basically it was your typical Argentinian pizza with thicker bread. We had to try it though, and like I said, it wasn’t bad, we just had to high of expectations. After this, we spent the evening people-watching and talking in Plaza San Martín because was an absolutely gorgeous night. We ended the evening with a little delicious treat from Bariloche, and even splurged on the chocolate-dipped cone
Yesterday, I finally received my birthday package from my family, only a month late due to the Argentinian postal service. It was filled with 21 fruitsnacks for my 21st birthday. For those of you who don’t know me, I eat fruitsnacks like they are going out of style, so the three months without them is somewhat torture for me haha. Needless to say, a day later and they are only six left I did share a few of them, but I’ll admit to eating the large majority! The week to come is going to be full of schoolwork, something that’s not very common down here. It seems like we haven’t done anything school-related for the past three weeks, and now we have all of our exams in one week. This weekend, we’re looking to make a trip to somewhere within the province provided the weather holds out! I can’t believe we’ll be home in less than two months now. The time has flown by incredibly fast, and there’s still so much we want to do! I hope all is well back home and I miss you all lots
I’m finally getting around to posting a blog about my adventures last weekend, and I apologize for the delay. For not travelling anywhere, it was still a weekend full of random things going on around Córdoba. We heard about a ballet that was going to be in town this weekend and tickets were only $10 pesos, so we decided to visit the Teatro de San Martín on Friday night. I’m not afraid to admit that I actually enjoy a good ballet, one where I can follow along with what’s going on as well as listen to a live band perform the accompanying music. However, not only could I not understand a word of the narrator, but there were recordings instead of an actual band. Ballets don’t typically have narrators either haha so I guess that pretty much explains the quality. The theater was absolutely beautifully and I’m looking forward to going and seeing a concert there because I heard the acoustics are spectacular. Also, Sarah found out the Nutcracker is going to be coming in a couple of weeks, so we’re going to try and get tickets before it all sells out!
Saturday we decided to go to the Paseo del Arte Artesenal, which is an art fair that goes on every weekend downtown with a bunch of local artists. We had to find gifts for our host moms, seeing as Sunday was Mother’s day in Argentina. Buying for your Argentinian host mother isn’t the easiest thing, as we quickly found out when we had no idea what to get or how much to spend. I ended up buying some rose shaped candles, and an over-sized mug with a goofy looking cat on it because my host mom drinks a lot of tea and loves cats. Random, yes, but she really liked it! Afterwards, we met up with my speaking partner, Marcos, and his sister to get ready for the music festival. Marcos invited us over to his house for dinner, as well as to prep for the festival because everyone goes dressed up. He had the brilliant idea of going as Tetris blocks! There were five of us in all who went as Tetris blocks, and here’s how our costumes turned out: Needless to say, we were the hit of the festival and there are tons of pictures of us because everyone wanted a picture with the “bloques de tetris!” The Bizarre Music Festival is a concert that is put on monthly here in Córdoba, and they bring back bands that were popular about 20 or so years ago. It would be like bringing N’SYNC or the Backstreet Boys back for a concert in the US because everyone remembered the songs from their childhood and was belting them out as loud as the possibly could. It was a ton of fun, and I’m glad we got to experience this cultural event! We didn’t end up getting home until 6 AM, something Sarah and I had not done for a long time down here. I think the last time we stayed out that late down here was before our trip to Puerto Madryn haha.
For Mother’s Day, my host mom decided she wanted a relaxing day to herself, so I really didn’t see her until dinner that night. I spent some quality time with my host dad watching soccer all day because the internet was out and there really wasn’t anything else to do. We went out and got some ice cream, Bariloche of course, and ended up watching some football for a little bit afterwards because I found it on one of the ESPN channels. It was only the Panthers and the Falcons, but it was still nice to watch some good American Football for a change! I met up with Sarah that night for mass, and afterwards headed home where I had dinner with my host family and we gave Roswitha, my host mom, her presents. She was very grateful for all of them and she said she enjoyed her relaxing day, free from any work whatsoever. It was neat to be able to participate in a family celebration down here and see how they celebrate holidays that are similar to ours back in the US.
There are no concrete plans as of right now for the weekend, so we’ll see what falls in our lap. We still have lots of places we want to visit in the province of Córdoba before we leave, but it’s supposed to rain/thunderstorm, so I’m not so sure we’ll be able to this weekend. I cannot believe that we’ll be leaving in just over two months. The time here has flown by and I can’t exactly describe how I feel about going home at this point. I’m extremely excited to come back for Christmas and see all of my family and friends because I miss everyone a ton, but at the same time it’s sad to think that I may never be back to Córdoba and may never see some of the people I’ve met down here again. This whole experience has been a roller-coaster of emotions and there’s still two months to go so I’m sure my attitude will fluctuate even more. I hope everything is still going swimmingly back home and I miss you all lots!
I have to start this blog out by saying that if you’re somebody who likes adventure and incredible forces of nature, you should definitely put Iguazú Falls on your bucket list. They are the second largest waterfalls in the world, and I honestly cannot even begin to imagine what the largest ones look like. This past weekend was a long weekend because we had Monday off, so we decided to head up north to the Puerto Iguazú to see the infamous waterfalls. Everyone we’d talked to about Argentina told us that we could not leave without seeing las cataratas (spanish for waterfalls). It’s a 22 hour bus ride from Córdoba to Puerto Iguazú, which meant we had to leave Friday around noon to get there by Saturday morning. We arrived in Puerto Iguazú around noon on Saturday, just as it began to rain. Puerto Iguazú is located in the Amazon rain forest, so we were prepared for the weather. After locating a hostel, we got on a bus that would take us out to the national park where the waterfalls are located. Thankfully, I packed a pair of swim trunks, so the rain really didn’t bother me at all. It was still raining pretty heavily when we got to the park, which actually worked in our favor because it meant that there were very few tourists and that we could walk at our own pace and take as many pictures as we wanted. Upon entering the park, we noticed how similar it appeared to Jurassic Park. After entering, you have to take a train, which brings you into the jungle. Words don’t do Iguazú justice, and quite frankly, neither do any pictures that you can take. I did the best I could to capture the natural beauty that emanates from this majestic place, but like I said at the start, you need to experience it for real to really capture the awesomeness! Even though we arrived late in the day, we were able to walk both the upper and lower circuit before the park closed because there was hardly anybody there due to the rain. Here are some of the views from the upper and lower paths: This was my absolute favorite because we got sprayed by the waterfall as we were trying to take the picture: The falls were at full capacity the first day so we weren’t able to take the boat over to the nearby island. After spending the afternoon at the falls, we made our way back to the hostel and started cooking pasta for dinner.
The next day, we headed back to falls for a full day of exploring. Sunday was much nicer weather-wise, and as a result, there were tons of people at the park. Luckily we had gotten through both circuits Saturday so all we had left was the island and “la garganta del diablo,”which literally translated means devil’s throat. The water had receded a little, so we were able to take a boat over to la isla de San Martín where there are excellent views of the falls. Here’s a view of what the falls look like from the island: After exploring the island for an hour or so, we decided we wanted to take a boat excursion that brings your right into the falls. We didn’t regret our decision even after we were soaking wet from head to toe afterwards. I cannot put into words how cool it was to drive head on into the second largest waterfalls on the face of the earth. If you get the chance to go to Iguazú, I’d highly recommend the boating excursion! To conclude our day at the park, we made our way to La garganta, and we had saved this for the end because we had heard it was the most impressive so you didn’t want to be disappointed by the other waterfalls. Boy oh boy am I glad we waited! I could not believe the amount of water that continuously goes over those falls! It was easily the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Here’s a pic of La garganta, but remember, pictures do not really reflect just how impressive these massive waterfalls are: What an epic way to end a magnificent day at Iguazú! Upon returning to the hostel, we headed to mass downtown and then made a handful of pizzas as we relaxed for the evening. There were many different creatures that came and visited in us in our hostel. One being a baby coatie. I forgot to mention that there are what look like a cross between a monkey and an anteater in Iguazú that are called coaties, and they are mischievous little devils because if you aren’t guarding your things, they’ll rip open your bag and steal you food. This happened to one of the girls in our group and here’s a pic of the little guy enjoying the sweet taste of victory:
Monday morning, we went to a rescue animal shelter that had all kinds of different animals found in the Amazon. The coolest animal we saw was a Spanish-speaking parrot! Ahead of us was a little boy who kept shouting things to the birds, and they would repeat him. I couldn’t believe it nor could I stop laughing! Here’s a pic of one of my favorite birds they had there, the toucan: We boarded the bus back to Córdoba after our Iguazú adventure and made the 22 hour trek back before classes started again the following day. I have to say it was one of the most incredible adventures I’ve ever been on and I’ll forever remember the natural beauty of Iguazú!
For the last week, we’ve been having storms and whatnot down here, and as a result I haven’t been able to get on the internet so that is the reason for the tardiness of this post. Iguazú was two weekends ago now, and I have more stories from this past weekend that I’ll be posting tomorrow hopefully if the internet cooperates with me! I hope all is well back home and I can’t believe I’ll be back in less than 10 weeks now! Man how the time flies