Ciao, Argentina

My study abroad trip finished quicker than I imagined, yet I still look back and realize how much I did within my five months in Argentina. I’m going to miss the country so much.

I’ll miss walking the uneven sidewalks of the city, gazing up at the trees that canopy over the streets. I’m going to miss walking past the cute plaza on my street, seeing dogs sitting with their owners inside cafes and smelling fresh bread or flowers every other block. I’ll miss the fast public transportation, hearing people speak Spanish and the kisses on the cheek you receive when you greet someone. I’m even going to miss the “world’s worst violinist” who plays his two songs outside my window almost every night. I’ll also never get tired of hearing “Despacito” and reggaeton everywhere I go. I’m definitely going to find myself thinking about these things in the United States, but there are some things I’m going to miss even more.

My host mother, or my Argentine abuela, Coco, is amazing. She’s one of the most hilarious people I’ve met and is so sweet and kind. I’m going to miss our nightly happy hour in which I drink a gin and tonic and she drinks a whiskey.

During these happy hours, we talked about politics, religion, current events and our families. She taught me so much about the

20170610_140334Argentine culture, Spanish, and just life in general. Coco gave me a family in Argentina, a country where I felt alone at first. She called me her “nieta americana”(American granddaughter) and brought me to family events. I watched as a few of her 15 grandchildren sang her songs on her 82nd birthday. She took me to an asado with her entire family, in which I bonded with some of her grandkids, and I really began to feel like I fit in.

 

She gave me such a great experience in Argentina and never once made fun of my Spanish or made me feel like I didn’t belong. She gave me a home, one that I can always return to, she said.

Besides Coco, I’m also going to miss all the friends I’ve made. I met some amazing people, and even though I didn’t get close to everyone, they were all great and I wish them the best. I’ve made friends that I hope to continue seeing back in the U.S.

With the friends I’ve made, I’ve gone to Patagonia where I climbed a mountain, took in the impressionable Mount Fitz Roy, admired the astounding Perrito Moreno and ate some amazing food. I took a biking wine tour in Mendoza, white-water rafted in the rain and took a night hike with new friends. I visited ancient ruins, jumped around salt flats and meditated in a cave in Salta.

My friends made these trips so much more fun, and having a crazy story to share is always more fun when someone can experience it with you. I’ll miss sharing these crazy adventures, drinking mate and dancing tango with the friends I’ve made.

 

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Another thing I’m going to miss so much is the meat, (I’m talking about the things I’m going to miss in

20170131_212125order, by the way). I don’t think I’ll ever be in another country in my life that has such good steak at such a cheap price. I went out for a steak and wine dinner that ended up costing about $12. I mean, that’s pretty amazing. Before coming to Argentina, I’ve always been a medium rare/ medium kind of gal, but in Argentina it’s not necessary to specify how you like your meat cooked. No matter what, it’s going to come out juicy, delicious and beautiful.

I’m going to miss going to asados where there’s just pounds of meat and chorizo that had been slow cooking over a fire. Meat in Argentina is great. Enough said. I’m also going to miss the classic malbec, which is just as cheap as water in restaurants and the perfect complement to steak.

In Argentina, I was getting used to always having hundreds of options of things to do on the weekends and at night. It was stressful knowing how much I could do and places I’ll never have time for. Buenos Aires’ nightlife was so much fun, and taught me so much about the culture.

 

You better believe I’m also going to miss going to cafes, bringing a book and ordering a cappuccino and medialunas. The facturas, or pastries, were cheap and amazing (an20170504_163210d also the cause of a couple pounds gained).

Studying abroad in Argentina and through ISA, which was a the perfect study abroad program, changed me and taught me so much. Some changes might not be completely noticeable to me, but I know I became more carefree, strong and fearless. I had to grieve over the loss of a pet and had to deal with problems on my own. The challenges I faced shaped me just as much as the fun and wonderful adventures I had.

I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to live in such a great city for five months. I want to thank ISA, Sebas, Guillermo and Analia, for guiding me through my trip and always finding activities for us to do. I also want to thank my parents for everything. They made my experience possible and were always there to talk when I needed to.

As you can probably tell, I’m going to miss Argentina so much. It will always be a home for me, and I will always treasure the memories I made there. Leaving is “agridulce” (bittersweet), as I’m sad, but I’m also looking forward to seeing my family and friends, relaxing in Ohio and eating Swenson’s and Mexican food.

Thanks for taking the time to read these blogs and seeing how my trip was going. I’m so grateful for you, too. If you ever want advice on where to travel, hit me up, and I’ll do my best to persuade you to go to Argentina. I’ve been there for five months and it’s still not enough time. Argentina, I’m coming back for you. Until then, ¡ciao!

 

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Songs that will get you pumped to travel

Before I left for my study abroad trip in Argentina, I created a playlist that I could listen to on the way there that would get me excited and pumped to travel, even though I was already dying to go.

I thought I would share with you my Spotify playlist so you can listen to these songs and get excited to travel. I am not including all my motivational Disney songs like “Go the Distance” or songs from Broadway musicals like “I Have a Dream” from Mamma Mia.

Also, just know my music tastes include a lot of folk music, but my playlist has some songs that I think everyone would like.

Even if you’re not traveling too far and are just going on a road trip, I hope this playlist will get you motivated and excited for your trip!

Wake Up— Arcade Fire

I’m On My Way— The Proclaimers

Something Wild— Lindsey Stirling, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Nobody Knows— The Lumineers

Roam— B-52’s

Coney Island— Good Old War

Hold On— Rivvrs

I Will Follow You— Rivvrs

Bottom Of The Sea— Sean McConnell

Be Okay— Oh Honey

Run Wild— Laney Jones

Alive— Graeme James

Know Your Onion!— The Shins

Feels— Son Mieux

Dream It Up— Sydney Wayser

There She Goes— The La’s

Break My Stride— Matthew Wilder

On The Road— Houndmouth

On The Road Again— Willie Nelson

Great Divide— Humming House

White Flag— Joseph

Thanks for checking out these songs. I hope you liked some of them. Do you have any other songs that are perfect for traveling? Let me know in the comments section! Also, if you want to check out my full playlist, you can find it here on Spotify. Thanks!

 

 

 

Salta: Licking Rocks and Turning Water into Medicine

I never thought I would have the opportunity to hike up a mountain, lick rocks, turn water into medicine and purify myself in a cave, but Salta, Argentina, has exceeded all my expectations.

We left for Smapa_jujuy_argentinaalta around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and then took a bus from Salta to Jujuy, Argentina. Salta and Jujuy are located on the North-west side of Argentina, and it was the closest to Bolivia I had ever been.

The city in Jujuy we stayed at was this little town called Tilcara. We got dropped off around 3 a.m., and a few of my friends were a little terrified. It looked a little sketchy and there were a couple drunk men wandering the streets. We were trying to figure out how to get to our hostel, and we wandered into a bar to ask for directions. Luckily two of the people in the bar worked at the hostel (that’s how small this town is), and they walked us to the hostel and showed us our rooms.

I fell asleep almost immediately, and I woke up to a pretty cool view.

Day 1: Ruins and Jugglers

We woke up and had the hostel’s free breakfast, which was toast, fruit and coffee. We asked the worker at the hostel, whose name was Tino, what to do the first day. He recommended these ancients ruins that belonged to the native tribes in Tilcara.

Walking to the ruins, I was admiring the streets of the town. They were what I imagine towns in Bolivia to look like.

The ruins were only a mile or so away and were next to a botanical garden filled with a bunch of huge cacti. We walked around the ruins and admired the views. We learned a little bit about the natives that once lived in the houses, and to be honest, they don’t seem to be living much differently now. The houses of Tilcara are bigger buildings made out of stones, and life still seems relatively simple and rural.

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After we explored the ruins, we hung out on top of an overlook and made friends with fellow Porteños who were also traveling. I loved how we bonded over the fact that they were also from Buenos Aires, even though we’re not actually from Buenos Aires. We’ve just lived in the city long enough that it feels like home.

It turns out our friends were pretty talented. They were street performers, and they juggled for us and did gymnastics, which one of my friends jumped in with them. We talked with them until we got hungry, and then we went off to find some lunch.

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We found a cute restaurant called Alli Waita, and I tried locro, a stew indigenous to the Andes made out of pumpkin, beans, corn or potato. Mine also had chorizo, pork and pig intestine, and it was delicious and filling. I also had a tamale, and it was interesting to see Argentina’s interpretation of it. I’m used to the Mexican tamales with sauce and pork, but these had beef, potatoes and vegetables inside.

After lunch, we explored more of the town and went to a cafe with Wi-Fi. Our hostel, however cute it was, had no wifi.

We rested back at the hostel, and then pretty soon it was time for dinner! I shared food with Jess, as we usually do, and we tried llama for the first time. I enjoyed it. It definitely isn’t my favorite meat, but I could see why it was a common food here. I also had papadines de Khucha, a hot dish that had potatoes, chorizo, egg, tomatoes and vegetables. This was the highlight of the dinner.

Afterwards, we went back to the hostel and passed out, getting ready for the next day.

Day 2: Salinas Grandes and Eating a Kid

In the morning we walked from our hostel to the small bus station and took a bus to Purmamarca, a town where the famous Cerro de Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors) is and is accessible to the Salinas Grandes (salt flats). On the way, we caught a glimpse of a cemetery that was built into the hills. The graves were tiny houses of different colors scattered on the hill. I wondered if all cemeteries in the area looked like that.

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The town was also very cute and was filled with vendors selling souvenirs and colorful, warm sweaters. While we waited for our tour bus to take us to the Salt Flats, we walked around the streets and ate some street food.

The drive to the salt flats was about an hour, and was one of the most exciting drives I’ve gone on. We zig-zagged up a mountain and saw some awesome sights. I forgot how many different landscapes Argentina offers, and just how big the Earth is.

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The salt flats were expansive sheets of salt, and it looked like snow. I had never felt more like a penguin in Antarctica. We took a bunch of photos and walked around the salt flats, and I ruined my jeans with all the salt.

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The drive back from the Salt Flats were relaxing, and many of us took a nap. I couldn’t help but think about how privileged I was to be able to experience this. Many people have never left their own country, never mind travel to a rural part of a foreign country just to taste some salt.

When we arrived back at Purmamarca, we shopped and ate lunch. I had cazuela de cabrita, which is a stew with baby goat. It was delicious, and I enjoyed telling people I ate a kid and watching their faces as they remember the name for a baby goat.

Another big tourist feature of Purmamarca is the Cerro de Siete Colores. Unfortunately, the best time to see the hill is in the morning when it’s all lit up, so we didn’t get the best impression of it. We climbed a small viewpoint to take a look at the hill, and I could see where it got its name. Layers of different sediments gave it a bunch of different colors. The hill was pretty, but what I enjoyed most was the view of the small town of Purmamarca.

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We made it back to Tilcara in the evening and hung out until it was time for dinner. We split a bottle of Malbec and watched live traditional music in which one guy played the longest instrument I have ever seen. I could barely get it all in one photo.

Day 3: Spirit Purification in a Cave

You might have been wondering when the part about licking rocks and turning water comes into play. We’ve officially arrived at the highlight of the trip.

Tino, the worker at the hostel, told us about this cave tour we could take in which we would go to a cave and participate in some native ritual. We thought it would be a good idea. We pictured driving out to this cave and sitting in on a native ceremony. No big deal, right?

Our guide, Javier, met us at 9 a.m. at our hostel, and led us through the town to meet two other people going on the tour. He encouraged us all to buy more water, which I did since I did not bring any with me, thinking it wasn’t going to be very strenuous.

We began walking up a hill, and then it became steeper. Still we kept climbing. The views of the town were beautiful, and I was enjoying myself. It was much more rigorous than I imagined, and I was glad I got to do some serious hiking. However, many of us didn’t realize how intense the trip would be and didn’t wear the right shoes, and Jess has asthma and didn’t think she needed to bring her inhaler. It was a little rough.

The climb up this mountain was slow with a lot of breaks. Javier took the time to explain his culture and the natives’ religion. The people, called the Quebrada, worshipped the sun and Pachamama, an Incan deity that I took to be similar to Mother Earth.

Javier told us about how it was important to become one and connected with Pachamama. He explained how our bodies were connected to the Earth spiritually, physically and emotionally (this is all in Spanish, by the way). He talked about how most of our bodies were made up of water, and how our blood was part of the Earth.

Javier said his people would pray to Pachamama to bless their water and give them strength. They would ask to be cured from illnesses, ask for strength, happiness, whatever they needed. He had everyone go around in a circle and say what we wanted our water to do to us. I, having had bronchitis and a cough for the past six months, asked for Pachamama to cure me. Others asked for the strength to just finish the hike. We stared at our water, summoning the power of Pachamama, and then we all drank.

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After that, Javier said it was important to feel connected to the Earth. One way to do this was to taste and consume part of Earth to feel more at one with it. He picked up a rock and tasted it, and we all did the same. I felt a little silly, but also very blessed to be able to learn about an ancient culture and how they worshipped Earth.

After we turned our water into medicine and consumed the Earth, we continued the trek up the mountain to where the caves were. We stopped a couple more times to talk about his peoples’ culture and their views on death. His people believe life and death are the same, and that when you die you become part of the Earth as dirt.

The climb got much steeper, and it became clear why we needed someone experienced to take us up to the caves. There were times that the trail was extremely narrow where one side was a mountain wall and the other a steep drop to the cacti and rocks below.

Finally, we made it to the caves. We climbed in, and parts of the cave didn’t have a floor (that we could see) so we had to shimmy with our arms and legs on the walls of the caves, which was pretty terrifying for the shorter people.

The cave opened into a big room in which Javier lit a candle for each of us. We continued further into the cave, and then we sat down around the room and blew out the candles.

This is where the meditation began. After, we would walk out completely new people. I closed my eyes, as there was literally nothing to see in the obscurity of the cave. Javier gave us silent time to reflect on our lives, our feelings, our futures, our fears, what kind of energy we emit. He had us go around one by one and explain how we were feeling.

The meditation lasted about half an hour. And as we exited the cave, I felt refreshed, fearless and content. The cloud of upcoming essays and projects that had been looming over me was gone. I had spoken entirely in Spanish and had gotten my point across about how I feel. I felt accomplished with my Spanish, with the hike and with my study abroad trip in general. I can’t describe accurately how I felt in the darkness of those caves.

We sat on an overlook and drank mate together and took in our surroundings. I got a bloody nose due to the altitude, or possibly a bad omen had left my body after my spiritual purification. Who knows?

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Then, Javier led us into another cave in which we had to army-crawl through. With all the dirt and nature, I felt like a giddy kid again playing in the ravine back home. We climbed over large rocks, and then the cave opened up to a gorgeous overlook of the mountains. Some of my friends were a little scared of heights and couldn’t venture down this narrow little path where you could sit and stare out at the view, but that’s OK. Anywhere you were was a great view.

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Feeling an adrenaline high from the heights and our meditation, I climbed back down the mountain, my legs shaking. After we pai20170528_153019d and thanked Javier, we sought out lunch.

And maybe it was because I was so hungry, but I’m pretty sure I had the best milanesa sandwich of my life.

We walked around a little bit more and browsed the street vendors’ booths. Then we went back to the hostel until our last supper in Tilcara.

I had a bife de chorizo, potatoes and a new dish called mote (the green stuff). It was delicious, and we all had a good time at dinner, discussing things from feminism to our favorite parts about our crazy cave experience.

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We went home and slept for a couple hours until we had to catch a bus at 3 a.m. for the city of Salta. We waited over an hour at the bus station until it finally showed up, and most of us passed out until it touched down in Salta around 8 in the morning.

Day 4: Eating and looking at Interior Design in Salta

We only had one day in Salta before we had to hop on a plane back to Buenos Aires, so there was very limited time to do stuff. Fortunately, everything was closed on Monday so we didn’t have very many options. We had lunch, in which I had locro again (What can I say, I’m loco for locro). And then we just walked around the streets finding something to do.

Salta had a very Europe20170529_162333an feel to it, and I was happy simply walking around. We found a cafe and had coffee and medialunas, and we found one event that was going on that we could participate in.

The cultural center was hosting some interior design/architecture event in which you could walk around and look at fancy decorated rooms. With not many options, we did that. It turned out quite fun.

At night, we decided to go to the movies and see the new Pirates of the Ca20170529_233849ribbean. Afterwards, we went to an awesome Italian restaurant, and I had pasta carbonara.

Our flight left around 8:30 a.m. back to Buenos Aires, and I was happy to be going back home. I love traveling, but I also love the calm of familiarity.

My trip to Salta was amazing, and I was so privileged to be able to experience it. Argentina has so much to offer. If you ever get the chance to come down, I promise it’s worth it.

Last Month in Buenos Aires

It’s hard to believe I have less than a month left in Argentina. “Time is fleeting,” as Riff Raff says in Rocky Horror Picture Show, of which I saw the Spanish version on Tuesday.

My whole experience in Argentina has been a roller-coaster ride with a lot of uphill. I have so many great memories that will last my lifetime. As much time I have been here, I could spend at least a couple months more.

I am anxiously trying to scratch more activities off my bucket list, hit up as many cute cafes as possible and spend as much time with my friends before I leave.

Now that I have been in Argentina for a few months, I feel like I am finally past the tourist stage and am more of a local. I no longer do as many touristy activities, and I feel as though I’ve discovered local hangouts in which tourists don’t have time to go to or have no idea they exist. Here’s a bunch of different activities I’ve been doing recently.

With ISA, I watched Orquesta Fernandez Fierro perform. They were basically a darker and smaller version of Trans Siberian Orchestra, where instead of Christmas music they played Tango music.

The show was beautiful and portrayed a different side to Buenos Aires.

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I also spent an afternoon in Fería de Libros next to Plaza Italia in Palermo. Buenos Aires had an international book fair in which different provinces of Argentina and different countries set up booths with books from that country. Many different publishing companies also set up booths with its books available for purchase. It was amazing, of course. And if you know me, you can imagine how much time I spent there. Luckily, I didn’t go too crazy and only bought two books.

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A couple months ago, I made a friend while we were sitting in the university. We immediately bonded over our love of food and the fact that we are both named Jessica, are from Ohio and are studying journalism. Our similarities were uncanny, and since then we have been hanging out every weekend. Jess and I (it sounds like I’m talking about myself in the third person. I promise she’s not my alter ego) love going to restaurants and pigging out on food.

Here’s a picture of her and me in a Mexican restaurant. Paints a picture of how crazy we are about food, right?

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Whenever you see pictures of great, delicious food, you can assume I ate it with her. The slideshow below portrays a relatively normal night in which we ate a ton of food— sushi, gelato and tacos as a finale. It was the perfect night.

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I’m a big fan of cute cafes, especially ones that also double as book stores. I love ordering a cappuccino and reading book for a couple hours. Here are a few cafes I’ve found in the city.

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I went to a restaurant called Kansas with some friends. It was basically an upper-scale Applebee’s, but my friends and I appreciated the United States-feel to it. We didn’t realize how much we missed caesar salads and alfredo.

Pickupthefork.com has a ton of suggestions for good restaurants in the city. My friends and I went to lunch on a Sunday in Palermo at a restaurant called Pain et Vin. I had a delicious BLT. Because Argentina isn’t as obsessed with bacon as the U.S. is, eating bacon is a precious moment.

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As I’m writing this blog, I’m realizing how few activities I’ve actually done. It’s all just food. I should title the blog ‘How to gain weight while studying abroad,’ as I have noticed my clothes are a little tighter. Oh well. If you don’t gain weight while studying abroad, you’re doing something wrong. Enjoy a picture of some milkshakes I drank with a friend in Belgrano, my neighborhood.

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Jess’ host mother invited some of her friends over for an Asado, an Argentinian grill-out. I met her host sister Angie and Angie’s boyfriend, Andy, who were friendly and spoke perfect English. We had chorizo, lomo (steak) and bondiola (pork). It was delicious, and I’m going to miss the abundance of meat.

San Telmo is a historic district in Buenos Aires filled with old buildings, cute shops and apparently Argentine comic characters. For my Estudios Culturales class, we went on a field trip that toured the statues of all of Argentina’s famous cartoon characters. San Telmo is beautiful, and when I walk down the streets I can see the European influence in the city.

Later that day, I went to Fukuro Noodle Bar with Jess in which we had delicious Pho and sticky buns. It was heaven, and we were completely content.

Afterwards, we wanted to hang out and listen to live music, so we found a nearby jazz club. The band was so much fun, and I forgot about how much I love live jazz music.

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On Sunday, instead of Jess’ and I usual habit of going out to eat, she cooked us Jewish food and Mac n’ cheese at her house. Lots of starches, but nonetheless delicious.

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Most recently, I went to Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was listening to the album and talking about it with a friend, and I wondered if they had it here in Buenos Aires. Turns out they do. And it’s entirely in Spanish. I wasn’t sure if it would be, as translating entire musicals into another language seems difficult. But when the first scene started with a woman singing the opening “Science Fiction/ Double Feature” song in Spanish, I knew right away that I was in for a treat.

It was really interesting to note the differences similarities between the English version and the Argentinian version. The songs weren’t directly translated but had the same meaning, and some scenes were completely different. For anyone who has not seen Rocky Horror, the crowd usually yells profanities during specific moments in the show. This tradition hasn’t changed just because it’s in another language. Whenever a character said Brad, the crowd shouted, “Boludo!” (Asshole) and whenever Janet came up, the audience chanted “Gato!” (It means cat, but I think you can guess what it means in this case). I loved how language wasn’t really a barrier. The traditions remained the same.

I wasn’t too lost during the production, but my friend who came with me and had never seen the musical was a little confused. Nonetheless, we both had a great time. No matter what language the lyrics are, Rocky Horror’s music is fantastic.

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That’s all for now. I’m getting ready to go on my last big trip in Argentina in which I’ll be heading to Salta. I hope to post a blog about that and my last weeks in Argentina as well as some other blogs. Thanks so much for following along with my adventure. ¡Hasta luego!

Learning about Buenos Aires’ History

From Pope Francis to the genocides in Argentina, many historical figures and events I recently have taken tours of have taught me about the history of Buenos Aires. I also have been exploring some non-mainstream attractions in the city with friends. In this post, I talk a lot about interesting history and so you don’t get overwhelmed, I have broken up these historical events with pictures of delicious food. Enjoy!

Fuerza Bruta

This first activity I did recently has nothing to do with the history of Argentina, but it was a fun cultural event that probably not many tourists see.

It’s difficult to describe what Fuerza Bruta is, but the best way I can think of is comparing it to Stomp, Cirque de Soleil and a really cool DJ. I had to pay twice for it because I’m a klutz and dropped my ticket in between the cracks of the raised, wooden floors, but the tickets were worth it.

The audience stood in the middle of the room with no sense of where the stage actually was, as most of the entertainment would be in several different locations. There were lots of energetic dancing, running around on walls, body slamming into a shallow pool above us and throwing styrofoam boxes of confetti on people’s heads. It was disorienting at times, but a lot of fun.

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Pope Francis Tour/ Tour de Papa Francisco

Last weekend I went on a free Pope Francis Tour. Before he was the pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born and raised in the neighborhood of Flores in Buenos Aires. The tour took us on a bus to the place he was born, his house, his school and a few churches. It was a long tour and was entirely in Spanish. By the end, I admit, I zoned out and was just staring out the window. Nonetheless, the tour was educational, and I was happy I saw a new neighborhood in this gigantic city.

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Food Break: Eggs Benedict and Chocolate Cake

Zanjón de Granados Tour

The next day, a few friends and I went to Zanjón de Granados, which was a house built in the 1830s by a wealthy family who immigrated from Spain. They lived in the building for a few decades until yellow fever struck the city, forcing many wealthy families to move to the countryside in Recoleta (which is now just another part of the city). After that, the building became a tenement house for poor immigrants, and more than 100 people lived in it at one time.

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Although the history is interesting, the reason why it is a popular tourist spot and interest for Argentinians is because of the tunnels below the building. A creek once ran through the city and led to Río de la Plata. The creek got super dirty as people dumped whatever they wanted into it, so instead of cleaning it, people decided to build their houses over the creek. Underneath the houses were tunnels that carried trash and waste in a dirty creek, but many people forgot they even existed.

Later, the city moved the river farther back, destroying many of the tunnels, and people don’t really know where all the tunnels are.

The tour was interesting and let me travel back in time to imagine how Buenos Aires once was in the 1800s and 1900s. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the actual tunnels underneath the building, but just imagine a few well-lit tunnels about the width of a one-door garage and with the height of a lamp post.

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Break: Cheesecake, Coffee, Roast Beef Sandwich and Pastries

Parque de la Memoria

Argentina has dealt with its fair share of dictators throughout its history. From 1976-1983, a state terrorist military regime kidnapped, tortured and killed almost 15,000 people. It was a real life 1984.

People disappeared and were never seen again. Bodies thrown from planes into Río de la Plata would show up on the shores of Buenos Aires.

In 1998 the park was constructed on the very same coast where bodies had washed up only a decade before in memory of the victims of the state terrorism. It was eye-opening to learn this dark part of history for Argentina. The genocide has affected the country so much to this day.

For instance, some women who disappeared were pregnant at the time and would have their babies in the detention camps. The military gave the babies to wealthy families in the country, and many of these babies never learned their true identity. Now, organizations like the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo are working to find their grandchildren, who are discovering their real origins.

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Food Break: MEXICAN! (look how happy I am)

Reserva Ecológica

This has much less to do with the history of Buenos Aires, but I went to the ecological reserve, created in the 1970s, and walked its hour-long trail. The mosquitoes were awful, but the reserve was beautiful just the same. Even in a huge, urban city like Buenos Aires you can always find a place to relax with nature.

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End: Ser y Tiempo

To end, I went with some friends to Ser y Tiempo, a tapas, wine and chocolate bar. It was a chill, hipster bar with a record player and no Wi-Fi, which forced my friends and I to have an actual conversation. It was a great, tranquil night and probably the classiest way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

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Thanks so much for reading! As you can see, I’ve been having an unbelievable experience in Buenos Aires. I am happy yet terrified that I only have six weeks left. I have learned and done so much. Here is my last and final column for The Post about what I’ve learned while studying abroad and why I think you should travel, too. Thanks again. ¡Ciao!

Mendoza

Here’s an anecdote about how I came to be drinking mate with my bus drivers at 5 a.m.

The bus ride to Mendoza was supposed to be 14 hours long, but with traffic it ended up being about 19 hours total. A guy dressed like a businessman sat across the aisle from me and this one guy named Pablo. During the trip, I heard the man open some cans, and I assumed it was soda. I later realized it was probably beer.

Around 3:45 a.m., while I was attempting to sleep, I heard the sound of vomiting. I thought I misheard it, because I just assumed no one would be vomiting in the aisle of a bus. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The guy was throwing up in the aisle, and then he leaned even farther over and vomited into the lap of the peacefully slumbering man sitting next to me.

I woke up Pablo next to me, who expectedly was distraught when he realized he had a stranger’s vomit on him. Luckily he brought an extra pair of pants in his carry-on and changed. The only other empty seat on the bus was next to the man vomiting, so we didn’t have many options. I definitely did not want to sit next to vomit for the rest of the trip, so we sat with the bus drivers. 20170413_065017

When one was sleeping in a small bed behind the driver’s seat, I sat in the passengers seat and my new friend Pablo sat on the stairs. The drivers were really nice, and we drank mate and talked while watching the sun rise.

Around 9:30 a.m., another bus from the same company stopped in front of us and our driver moved me onto the other bus, where I slept for almost the rest of the time. The whole experience was an eventful way to start off the trip.

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Once we pulled into Mendoza around 2 p.m, we went straight to the hostel to drop our stuff off. Hostel Square Independencia was very cute and cozy, and it was probably my favorite hostel that I’ve stayed in so far. It had a beautiful patio that we sat in often during our stay. The hostel also offered free wine from 7-9 p.m., an offer which we took up every day. It was the best way to meet people, and I made friends with people from Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands, Australia and France. The hostel’s breakfasts were the best breakfasts offered at a hostel. You could order pancakes or eggs, and they always had medialunas and bread.

The first day we didn’t do too much other than walk around and eat. I started the trip off well with a lobster and shrimp risotto.

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The streets of Mendoza are interesting because they have exposed gutters that look like an accident waiting to happen. I could see myself falling into them and breaking an ankle. But other than that, the streets were green and charming.

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In the morning, we were planning on taking a bus to a hiking spot, but we woke up too late and most of the busses had left. It was also a little confusing to plan it. Instead, we walked to a hill that would give us a view of the city. A grand, beautiful monument stood on top of the hill. I was expecting actual hiking, but it was still fun nonetheless.

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We also proceeded to take a bunch of photos with the good view. There’s a couple of me falling off a rail and a picture with all three of us.

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After we climbed the hill we found lunch, and I had a pizza with pineapple and brown sugar (yes, I know Gordon Ramsey says pineapple shouldn’t be on a pizza, but whatever).

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Taking up the hostel’s free wine from 7-9 p.m., we hung out in the patio and made friends. I met a professional soccer player named Esteban from Colombia and a guy named Vicent from Brazil. My friend Pablo from the bus texted me and asked if we would like to go on a night-hike with him and his friend, and he said we could bring as many people as we wanted. I brought seven other people, my new friends from the hostel. We took a taxi and his friend’s car 20 minutes away to the start of a hill.

Because it was dark, Pablo and his friend were having issues finding the trail, but we eventually found it and started up. It was a longer trail than I thought it would be, and took about four hours total. We finished around 1 a.m.

It was gorgeous. As we climbed higher, we could see more of the city lights, and once we reached the top of the hill at a cellphone tower, the whole city was in our view. Hiking has the power to make strangers friends, and that’s what happened on our trek up some hills.

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Whitewater rafting in freezing cold weather while it is raining probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do while I was getting over a cold, but we did it anyway. And it was a lot of fun.

The rafting company was about an hour’s bus ride to Rio Mendoza, and the buildings were built on the sides of the hills. It was a dreary day outside, and fog rolled down the tops of hills.

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We had to get dressed into wetsuits, jackets and helmets, and we climbed into an orange raft with an instructor who ordered us what to do in Spanish. “Adelante!” “Alto!” “Adelante!” “Dentro!”

We were soaked from the rapids splashing into our faces and the rain constantly pouring, and when we got off the raft we could no longer feel our hands or our feet. But we still had a great time.

That night for dinner, we had an asado dinner that our hostel offers for only 200 pesos ($12). It was a huge platter of steak with chorizo, and it came with salad and bread, and a pitcher of red wine. We couldn’t finish all of it.

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And finally, before our bus would take us home to Buenos Aires at 8:30 p.m., my friend Emilee and I took a wine bike tour on Easter.

Sergio runs these Mendoza Wine Bike Tours almost everyday of the week, he said. He picked us up at our hostel at 9:20 a.m. and took us to his car which had three bikes hitched on the back. It was just the three of us.

While he drove us over an hour away to a bodega (vineyard), we talked mostly in Spanish (although he was completely bilingual) and listened to Latino music. He was extremely kind and personable, and we quickly became friends.

It was drizzling outside, but the drive to the bodega was beautiful with all the greenery. We passed rows and rows of grape vines, and I remembered just how much wine is produced in Mendoza. I wrote a column for The Post that mentions the exact numbers.

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20170416_103930Bodegas Salentein was our first stop. It was a huge complex surrounded by colorful vineyards. Salentein’s goal was to combine wine with music and art. They had statues in front of the building and a small local art museum that we checked out before watching a video in a theater about the history of wine and its connections to the Bible, which I thought was perfect for Easter.

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A tour guide showed us around the bodega. She took us out the back, where a path surrounded by grape vines led to another building in the distance.

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She explained to us that in between each row of vines, they let native plants grow to  attract any bugs or viruses away from the grapes. Each row began with a rose bush for decoration, but also because roses were seen as good omens.

Once we made it inside the building at the end of the path, an overwhelming smell of wine and yeast hit me. Emilee joked that we could get drunk just off the smell. Our tour guide explained all of the wines that were made by Salentein and how much they cost.

We climbed down stairs into the cellars, where we were able to see how all the wine is made, stored, aged, bottled and aged again. It was beautiful.

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Our wine tasting was in this small, classy room that had a table with four bottles of wine. Our tour guide explained how to properly taste the wine and what to think about when trying each one.

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After our tour of Salentein, it was time to bike to the next bodega. Luckily, the rain stopped, but just in case Sergio drove behind us so that we could get back in if it started to rain. Biking was a lot of fun, and Emilee and I talked about life as we rode past vineyards.

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The next bodega, Andeluna, was just as beautiful as the last, and Sergio stopped the car so we could take pictures of the colorful vineyards.

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Part of the wine tour, which attracted me to it so much, was the six course lunch with wine pairings. Andeluna has a cozy restaurant with an open kitchen where you can watch them cook. Each plate came with its own glass of wine, and I couldn’t finish all of it. Here’s a slideshow of the lunch with descriptions of each course.

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The wine tour was definitely the highlight of the trip, and once we returned to the hostel, we packed up and left for our bus, in which I had no issues. Chelsea gave me a Benadryl, and I passed out for seven hours.

We did a lot of activities in our short time in Mendoza, and it was a nice, chill vacation. I could spend much more time in the wine country. There’s so many trails to hike and different kinds of wine to try.

I hope this blog encourages you to travel, even though sometimes it can get messy, because traveling is the greatest way to meet people from different countries and have great stories. At the very least, if you can’t travel, I hope I have encouraged you to grab a bottle of wine from the grocery store. Try the Malbec from Mendoza. It’s amazing.

Week 9— Street Art and Colonia, Uruguay

Welcome back to my blog! A couple weekends ago, March 31- April 2, I went on a couple excursions with ISA, my study abroad company.

20170331_101918Friday we went on a street art tour, in which we walked around the Coghlan neighborhood of Buenos Aires and looked at graffiti and different kinds of street art. It was actually more informative than I was expecting, and I now know the names of different types of graffiti.

Our tour guide was a lot of fun, and she analyzed the art for us.

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This is a very famous street art in Buenos Aires in which only two guys painted it, and it took only two weeks.

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This one above was made by a couple from the U.S. about their travels and all the animals they’ve encountered.

These are made by a street art group called Primo, and they’re some of my favorites, especially the guy playing the tuba.

And, here are all the others we saw during our tour.

 

In the eveni20170331_202134ng, I had a tango performance for my class, and here’s a quick photo of me and my dance partner, Dino. We had a lot of fun, despite the fact that I messed up a lot.

There’s definitely a video out there somewhere of my performance, but there’s no way I’m about to show it. Sorry.

The next morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. to meet ISA at the Buquebus station, which might sound like a bus station, but it was really a station for boats. We crossed Rio de la Plata and docked at Colonia, Uruguay around 11 a.m.

Colonia, Uruguay

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Colonia was beautiful. I would definitely move there if it didn’t cost $500,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. Everything was antique and colorful. The buildings were beautiful, and colorful pink trees were spruced around the town.

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Our tour guide was very intelligent and funny, and she told us the best stories about the town. Stray dogs roamed around the streets, and the townspeople call the public dogs. They all have names, and the people make sure to take the dogs to the vet to get shots.

Everyone was super friendly and the atmosphere felt different. It shocked me this town was only an hour’s boat ride from Buenos Aires.

After our tour, we had free time to explore. I went with my friend Christina to walk around, go to some weird museums and climb a lighthouse. It was a great day, and I would love to explore more of Uruguay. I think it has a lot to offer.

Here’s a slideshow of my experience in Colonia with some captions.

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Thanks for reading my blog about Uruguay!