I just got back from my trip to Tigre, and it was a wonderful adventure. Tigre is a small town that is about a 45-minute train ride from the center of Buenos Aires. It has fairs, amusement parks, boat rides and excursions to nature reserves.
At 8:30 this morning, I met with my study abroad group and walked to the train station. The train ride was peaceful, and it was fascinating looking through the window and watching the city pass by.
We hopped off the train and walked to the dock where we waited for our boat tour to start. The boat took us along the river, and we passed some beautiful beach houses, museums and historical buildings.
After about 20 minutes, my study abroad group got off the boat and began walking through the jungle. Being in the outdoors relaxed me, and I’m pretty sure my time in nature today will definitely help my cough. We walked down the path to the entrance to the nature reserve, which had a couple small wooden buildings and an informational center about the plant and animal species in the area.
We went trekking with a tour guide through the wetlands, although it was a rather large group and the tour guide was new. We kept stopping to talk about different plants and animals, but I was more interested in hiking. The trail was beautiful with greenery all around and foreign plants that I don’t have back in Ohio.
Because our tour group kept stopping to ask a thousand questions (it seemed like they were more interested in learning about nature rather than experiencing it), Sebastian, our ISA coordinator, wanted to break off the group and continue to walk the trail. When some of the older people and kids wanted to take the short way back to the entrance, we decided to continue walking. It was nice to actually hike and take in the surroundings. We also ran into a large lizard, and that freaked out some of my friends.
After the hike, we ate lunch at the nature reserve. I had a delicious bolinda sandwich with peppers, zucchini, onions and hot sauce. Once we finished lunch, we rushed back to the dock to make sure we wouldn’t miss the boat back to Tigre.
We went to the Puerto de las Frutas fair, where we ate ice cream and bought mate cups. I felt like a porteño buying my mate in Tigre.
Because it was pretty late in the day and we were tired, Sebastian gave us the option to head straight home or make a stop at el Parque de Costa, where you can see Rio de Plata. Half of us chose to go home, and the other have to the park. Of course, I chose to go to the park.
Our train arrived at the park, which was beautiful and breezy. With its many sailboats and never-ending landscape, Rio del Plata looks like the ocean. We spent about half an hour there, in which I touched the river just so I could say that I had been in Rio del Plata, and walked back to another train station to take us home.
Tigre was exciting and a nice change from the big city. I think I might have to go back to the nature reserve a couple times to get my dose of nature. Going to Tigre also made me feel like a porteño, as many porteños go to Tigre on the weekends to spend the day sitting by the river and shopping at fairs.
These last two days, I have been doing some stereotypical Argentine activities. Last night, I felt like an Argentine when I went to a flamenco performance and then went to a secret parrilla (steak house) and spent several hours there eating steak and chorizo and drinking wine. Flamenco dancing was fascinating. It has a lot of hand and arm movements and the face was very expressive. A guitar played music and a couple women sang some sort of opera. It was melodic, and you could definitely sense the emotion in each dance. Last night was a great night. We found the parrilla online, and if someone hadn’t walked out of the restaurant, letting the smell of steak out, we would have missed it. There were no signs, and it was hidden. Upstairs led to a secret patio where we sat and felt the warm Argentine air. The steak was amazing, even though it was cooked well done. I didn’t think that cooked steak could taste like that. I had great conversations and made a new friend as well. We finished dinner at 1 a.m., and I spent about $12. All in all, the night could not have been better.
Also, yesterday I went to the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, which is a mansion that used to belong to a wealthy family in Argentina. I got to see the house as it looked back when the family was living in it, and I really enjoy those kinds of museums. It was similar to Stan Hywet Hall and the Biltmore Estate.
That has been my last two days in Argentina, and it was mind-boggling. I am getting used to the porteño life, and I look forward to the next time I can watch a performance, go to a parrilla and eat steak and drink wine, and head to Tigre on the weekend.