Time to catch everyone up! It’s been a whirlwind of midterms, internships, and adventures. So, here we go!
Just when classes had started, everyone got a five-day vacation for Semana Santa. Most people on our program took that opportunity to travel. My group of friends decided to go to Bariloche. I should also mention that a popular mode of transportation here is by omnibus. So, the trip from Buenos Aires to Bariloche is around 22 hours, if I remember correctly. However, the omnibus is not as bad as it seems because the schedules are similar to international flights where you depart at night and can sleep for a good portion of the trip. They do play amusingly terrible movies though (most of them are American flubs that you would’ve never heard of). On one leg of the trip, the company we were travelling with hosted a bus-wide bingo game, which was a lot of fun. Tension ran high in the seat next to me as my friend Greg was one number away from winning until… BINGO!! He actually won and was rewarded with a bottle of wine, courtesy of Andesmar.
Bariloche Birthday Festivities
I was incredibly lucky to spend my birthday in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I wish I could describe the beauty that is Bariloche, but words would not do it justice. Everything that makes you want to turn incredibly poetic is Bariloche. Lakes, mountains, fresh pines, tranquility, and CHOCOLATE. Really, there was nothing more that I could have asked for. We spent the day hiking in Llao Llao. While I was there, I thought about one of my IR professors at Bucknell who is from Bariloche. I have no idea how she can leave that place; I nearly cried on the bus ride home. Needless to say, my trip was a breath of fresh air. Also, I definitely have to recommend staying at Green House Hostel. It was by far the best hostel experience I’ve ever had (and every room has a view of the lake!). Below are some pictures that I hope exemplify Bariloche’s beauty.
We also made a more serious hike on our last day. We went to Mount Frey which is right next to the Catedral ski resort that opens during the winter. Our hike lasted around 4.5 hours from the base to the top (a little above the average hiking time, but we marveled at the nature around us the whole way up so it was worth it).
Kayaking in Tigre
A group of about a dozen students went to Tigre to kayak for the afternoon. Tigre is located about 40 minutes north of the city by train and is a town that revolves around water transportation. People live on little islands connected by canals, which makes them excellent rowers. Almost all of us students had kayaked before, but our rowing skills were not up to par. Luckily, we made it through the day with only one semi-major collision. The trip was topped off with a choripan for lunch. Delicious. I wish I had pictures to chronical it, but due to the nature of the activity, I thought it was best to leave my camera at home.
Salta y Jujuy- Northwestern Provinces
We had another long weekend because there was a feriado, so we decided to travel to Salta and Jujuy. Again, we went by omnibus in another 20 hour trip. (Later, we realized that we spent a total of 4 days in April sitting on a bus, which was crazy to think about). But, as always, our time spent adventuring did not disappoint and always made the long bus rides worth it. Salta was absolutely gorgeous and is located next to some of the coolest geological formations that I have ever seen. The landscape is comparable to the southwestern United States.
The only exception to this landscape was Jujuy, which has salt flats! The biggest salt flats are in Bolivia, but that certainly didn’t take away from the beauty of the ones in Argentina. After venturing around the salt flats for the afternoon, we even went to a hot spring fed pool with our unofficial tour guide. There’s definitely a plus side to making friends with locals
We also went horseback riding while we were in Salta. It was my first time on a horse, but I think I managed it pretty well. We were also pampered the entire day. When we arrived in the morning, the owner had a nice breakfast waiting for us. And just like that, we were off! My horse’s name was Milonga and treated me well the entire time. To describe the experience, imagine riding horses through rivers and mountains, galloping through fields, and trotting along fields of flowers. Yeah, it was that awesome. And for lunch, we had an AMAZING asado (Argentine bbq). My travel buddies, Rebecca and Heather (both from Texas) were happy to eat spicy peppers on a dare from the ranch owner. They LOVE spicy peppers, and we often talk about the lack of spices in Argentine food. They were up for the challenge and took the heat like champs, which wowed the Argentinians around the table. Soon after, we hopped on the horses again where we enjoyed more picturesque landscape. To finish, we arrived back at the ranch where hot coffee and tea was waiting for us. Talk about spoiled!
Biking from San Isidro to Tigre This past Friday morning I joined some students on a bike ride from a suburb in Buenos Aires (San Isidro) to Tigre. It was the first rainy day that we’ve had in a while, but that didn’t stop us! San Isidro is probably the wealthiest place around Buenos Aires and is known to be very cheto- one house even had its own tower. However, we got a beautiful view of the city from the shores of the neighborhood. It reminded me a bit of the views you can get of Chicago when you go down the coastline.
Take me to the Disco:
At my local Disco (grocery chain around town- sorry if I fooled you), I stopped to pick up a few items for dinner around 8pm. I only had a handful of items, so I stood in the 15 unidades line. When I got to the register, it turned out that I really had 17 items…
Note: 15 items in Argentina really means 15 items.
It’s cold down here! All of a sudden, fall/winter has arrived. Tree leaves are changing colors and floating to the ground. Recently, I have been walking the sidewalks participating in one of my favorite pastimes: catching falling leaves. Mind you, BA has a bit of a sidewalk dog poop problem which ups my game to a more complex (dangerous, if you will) level. In addition, the lack of traffic enforcement means that it is not uncommon for a motorcycle to pop up onto the sidewalk for a ride. Therefore, leaf-catching here can be bastante peligroso. The best I’ve accomplished so far was a karate kid-esque, epic leaf snatch out of mid-air. Impressive, yes, but I released it hot potato style from my grasp when I saw that it was actually a pigeon feather. My second closest attempt was in the middle of a crosswalk in Palermo.
* *Note: I only leaf-catch in crosswalks with supervision (usually Rebecca).
Update: On my weekend trip to an estancia (ranch), I finally caught a real leaf!
I never thought I’d talk so much about sidewalks, but I feel they deserve attention since 95 percent of my travel time consists of foot placement strategizing. What I mean is, each building pretty much has its own section of sidewalk. The majority of them are tiles. Most mornings, landlords wake up to hose off the dog poop from their plots. This presents two relevant dangers to unsuspecting pedestrians:
- Is that tile loose? The most likely of situations to happen after a rain or sidewalk cleaning is to step on a faulty tile, feel something shoot up your leg, and shake off “who knows what was in that water” from your sopping ankle or pant leg. If you can imagine, this turns your morning commutes into 10-block games of minesweeper.
- Slip-and-slide: Enough said. Wear grippy shoes and tread with caution.
I just recently finished midterms (hard to wrap my mind around because it’s Memorial Day!). I also wanted to let everyone know that my schedule is set in stone, so there’s not as much chaos trying to find classes. However, I did just receive notice that one of my classes is switching locations to somewhere across the city for the rest of the semester. So, I’ll have to play around with public transit to find the quickest way to get both there and to a class that I have later that day. What can I say? It’s all about flexibility in Buenos Aires.
I’m working with a small NGO, Ambientate, that deals with raising awareness of environmental issues in BA. Without a doubt, Buenos Aires has serious cleanliness problems, but it’s to be expected in a city that’s focused more on growth than on environmental friendliness. The coolest part about my internship so far is that meetings are in La Tribu (an indie radio station/bar with MUY BUENA ONDA). I’m definitely going to miss the friendliness of people here when I leave. Most Argentines LOVE to talk, and I love to listen to them. Their stories and language are fascinating. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person and his/her ideas after an afternoon in the park with some galletitas y mate.
I’m not leaving until July, so keep looking back here for more posts!