Uruguay!!

The weekend of the 8th, some friends of mine from church (Las Gringas de Barrio Norte) and I took a two-day trip to Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay!!

Saturday morning we boarded a ferry and set off for Colonia. Thankfully, I was able to wake up, get ready, finish packing, hour on the bus, find the port, and make it there an hour early to check in. We took Colonia Express, and I was a bit worried after reading all the horrible reviews about it, but it was the cheaper company so we gave it a go. Everything went fine though, and it only took an hour and half to get from Buenos Aires to Uruguay.Upon arriving in Colonia, we found our hostel and checked in, then had to do my probably least favorite part of traveling- changing money. It is always the biggest pain in the butt! I had three currencies in my wallet at the same time which was annoying, but most places would let you pay with Argentine Pesos, Uruguayan Pesos, or American Dollars, so it worked out.  Continue reading

#giveGodahandclap

So four days after returning for our Semana Santa trip, I headed off again to Iguazú with my program. That Friday morning, I took a taxi to the airport to meet our group and had my first experience with an Argentine airline. It was honestly really painless. Security took like 2 seconds, they let you bring liquids, you don’t have to take your shoes off, it was much different from the States. They totally win here though with the snacks!! Our flight was about 1 hr and 45 mins and they gave us an awesome snack box-juice, snack crackers, cookie, alfajor, etc.

When we got to Iguazú, it was unfortunately raining, but we still decided to go to Hito Tres Fronteras since it was only a couple blocks from our hotel (yes a HOTEL, not a hostel 🙂 Will talk more about that later). Tres Fronteras is the tri-border area where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet. The rest of the day was a typical rainy, lazy day. Lunch, grocery store, nap, dinner, chilled.

Saturday was the main event-Iguazú Falls National Park. Iguazú literally means “big water” in Guarani (indigenous people/language of that area), and was named of the the Seven Natural Wonders of the World in 2011. The park and all the falls were GORGEOUS and the pictures don’t even begin to do them justice.

We only did the Argentine side.

 

 

 

We took a boat ride under the falls.
I got SO SOAKED, but it was AWESOME

After the boat ride, we changed clothes and ate lunch. By this point in the afternoon, the sun was out which was lovely. I enjoyed some ice cream and relaxation time 🙂

photo credit: Kelly

By far my least favorite part of the day were these animals called Coatis. Some people thought they were adorable, but they grossed me out. I called them R.O.U.S.’s (Princess Bride) all day, and they were super aggressive like raccoons. I saw them steal food, claw bags, and jump up on tables multiple times throughout the day.

After lunch, we took a little train up to top of the park to see the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat)

After the park, we went back to Tres Fronteras because it was raining the day before. We definitely got better pictures in the sunshine.

I’m pointing at Paraguay, Sydney-Argentina, & Abigail-Brazil
photo credit: Abigail

We were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel, and immediately conked out for 3 hours, oops… After finding dinner around 9 pm, we went back to the room to chill. Party animals I know. We watched the end of X-Men: First Class and almost all of Monsters, Inc. (Gatito!) before bed and it was glorious. I hadn’t watched an actual TV in SO long 🙂

Sunday morning we all took these cool truck things to visit some Guarani people. They called it a village, even though I felt like we never really saw a “village”. They showed us how they build and operate their traps, some children sang for us, and we also had the opportunity to buy some things they make (jewelry, figurines, blow darts…)

The Bridge to Terabithia

They didn’t have anything planned for us Sunday afternoon, so I had plenty of time to relax. It was such a nice change from the fast paced Semana Santa trip. ISA took care of everything (except lunch & dinner), and it was great not having to worry about transportation, lodging, entrance fees, etc. We stayed in this 4 star hotel which was a palace compared to hostel living. It was absolutely beautiful, and it had a giant porch with big comfy leather beds to chill on. The BEST part of the hotel was definitely the breakfast buffet!! As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, breakfast here is usually just toast and coffee, and I love and miss the big breakfasts in the States.

Me & my white legs reading by the pool

 

Fruit, toast, pastries, EGGS, ham, cereal, yogurt, coffee, tea, juice

After a lovely weekend, our flight got back into Buenos Aires around 11 pm. The city was so pretty from above; all lit up and sparkly.

Nos vemos!
Ryan

Santiago

Check out that view

DAY 9: We took a bus to Santiago late morning. The bus was really nice, and the best part was that it only costs $6 USD! I was a little worried about our last hostel because we did not have many options (almost everything was booked for Lollapalooza). We ended up with a great location- 6th floor of this building overlooking one of the major plazas of the city. For dinner we concocted a chicken pesto panini/sandwich thing 🙂

Yummy

 

DAY 10: While Sydney, Abigail, and some friends from the hostel went to the mall to pick up their wristbands for Lolla, Christa and I had some fun on our own. We explored some markets and this really cool shopping/restaurant area called Plaza Bellavista.
Crepes for lunch!

 

We also went to Cerro San Cristóbal which is a hill in the middle of the middle. We took a funicular (similar to an ascensor) to the top. They really like building statues on top of hills/mountains, and we saw yet another one.
“Yo soy la inmaculada concepción”
View from the top

We also went to El Museo de La Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights) which was dedicated to commemorate the victims of human rights violations during the military regime led by Augusto Pinochet in Chile between 1973 and 1990. It was really sad, but still a pretty cool museum.

Plaza de Armas at night
Gorgeous sunset to close the day #nofilter #imserious

 

LAST DAY: While Abigail was at Lolla and Christa met up with a friend, Sydney and I went to Cerro Santo Lucia, yet again another hill. This one had a castle though, so we couldn’t pass it up!

We treated ourselves to a yummy lunch since we wanted to use up the rest of our Chilean pesos. Seriously, best ice cream I’ve had in this hemisphere to date. And why is Moca so hard to find??
After stocking up on snacks, Christa and I headed to the bus terminal to head home. Overall, it was a great trip and I feel super blessed to have had the experience. It sure was exhausting, but definitely worth it 🙂
Chao mis queridos!!
Ryan

Cities by the Sea

DAY 7: The next day we took a tour of Pablo Neruda’s house. I’ve read tons of his poems in Spanish Lit classes throughout the years, and it was really cool to see where he lived. The house was so ecceltic, and it had an awesome view.

 

Pablo Neruda’s house

 

The remainder of the day we wandered around the city, ate some empanadas in the park, got froyo and went shopping by the water, and rode more ascensores 🙂

If we had a band this would SO be our album cover

 

You pick which fruits you want and
they make it right in front of you

 

 
 

Valparaiso has 15 ascensores that were built between 1883 and 1916. These “elevators” lead up into the hills and

meandering back alleys of the city.

Later that night, we took a taxi to Viña del Mar and checked into our next hostel.

DAY 8: This day was supposed to be our beach day, but the weather did not want to cooperate. We spent a lot of the day hiding from the cold in our hostel, watching YouTube videos, and chilling with our Danish roommates. We did drag ourselves outside a couple times to walk around. Viña del Mar definitely seemed a lot more touristy than the other places we had visited. We still enjoyed ourselves though 🙂

This lovely lunch of salmon, mashed potatoes, freshly squeezed peach juice, and dessert cost me about $5 US dollars. Score!

 

Nos vemos!
Ryan

Chile, yo!

DAY 5: After an awesome time in Mendoza, our next stop was Chile. We spent our Easter Sunday morning at the bus terminal, yay… When Sydney’s tios came to visit they brought some goodies with them from the States to share-Reese’s Easter bunnies!

Thanks Auntie Pam!

The 7 hour bus ride consisted of lots of pretty scenery, snacks, reading, 2 hrs at the border (ugh), Sydney almost getting left at the border, and Christa screaming in the middle of the movie haha.

We didn’t get to Valparaiso till almost 7 that night, and luckily Sydney had changed some money at the border. After paying for the taxi to our hostel, we only had about $8 USD to feed the four of us dinner. We were able to do it though! An EASTER MIRACLE!

 

The only way I can describe Chilean pesos is stupid. Pretty, but stupid. I had just gotten used to the conversion rate from Argentine pesos to US dollars. It was so frustrating the first couple of days trying to figure out how much things costs. It was totally normal to pay $6000 CLP for lunch.
 
DAY 6: We spent the day walking around the city. Valparaiso is gorgeous, so here come the pictures.
Edificio Armada de Chile (Chilean Navy Building)

 

This made me laugh. WE SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE

 

We took a boat ride. Can you see the mountains in the distance?

 

These seal things stunk SO BAD

 

 

 This is not what I expected when I ordered fajitas de mariscos (seafood fajitas). Literally was a pancake filled with seafood and this weird cream sauce…

Nos vemos!
Ryan

California & Colorado’s Lovechild

DAY 4: If California and Colorado had a baby, it would be Mendoza. After a day of biking and bodegas, we spent the next day in the mountains. We decided to pay for a tour/trip instead of trying to see and do everything on our own. This was probably overall one of the most bizarre, but funniest days we had during the trip. This is going to be a long post, so if you don’t want to read it all just scroll through the pictures 🙂

So we woke up really early and Rafting Guy (worked at hostel) was mad at us because we didn’t finish washing our dishes from the night before. We all conked out right after dinner, oops… We were really confused about what time our bus was coming to pick us up for our tour, but Rafting Guy told us to stand on the side of the street and just wait for it, so that’s what we did. Later Christa came out and was like “Rafting Guy wants to know why you all are standing out here. You can wait inside because they are going to call the hostel once the bus gets here”. Thanks Rafting Guy…

First stop, Potrerillos:

Later in the day we took a chair lift up part of the mountain:
photo credit: Sydney
photo credit: Sydney

 

Windy and chilly at the top (photo credit: Abigail)

 

Next stop was Puente del Inca which is a rock formation that forms a natural bridge. There was a hotel nearby for many years that utilized the hot springs which are thought to have certain healing properties.

By this point we were starving, but was it lunch time? Of course not. Our next stop was Cristo Redentor de los Andes (Christ the Redeemer of the Andes) which is a monument built really high up on a mountain on the border of Argentina and Chile. It was built to celebrate the peaceful resolution of the border dispute between the two countries, and one of the plaques says (in Spanish), “Sooner shall these mountain crags crumble to dust than Chile and Argentina shall break this peace which at the feet of Christ the Redeemer they have sworn to maintain.”
We had to get out of the bus and into these little vans to go up the mountain. It took like 45 minutes, no guardrails, and it was a really bumpy road. Our bladders were super happy by the time we got to the top, not. Our driver gave us 15 minutes to take pictures, but it was SO COLD I literally jumped out of the van, took 2 pics, and got back in.
Up the mountain we go
Argentina on the left, Chile on the right

 

It’s warmer in the van (photo credit: Sydney)
After returning to the bottom of the mountain, they took our group to this restaurant to eat FINALLY (it was like 5pm at this point). The restaurant was kind of expensive, so we went looking for something else. This town, Las Cuevas, literally had 5 buildings (population: 7 as of 2001). Let me give you a run down of the conversations we had-
First building that we went in:
-“Do you have a menu?”
-“No.”
-“Well do you have any food?”
-“Let me check.”
-“…..”
-“No”
-“But there are people sitting and eating right there.”
-“No food for you.”
SERIOUSLY?
Next building:
-“Do you have a menu?”
-“No.”
-“Do you have any food?”
-“Yes” (This looks promising)
-“What do you have?”
-“Jamón conocido o jamón crudo” (Basically, ham sandwich or ham sandwich)
-“Ok. We’ll all take a ham sandwich”
 
After our lovely ham sandwiches, we ran to catch our bus. We were scared that we were going to get left behind since we separated ourselves from the group, but they noticed that the only Americans were missing. The trip lasted all day and when we got back around 9:00, we had to go all the way across town to find a grocery store that was still open. It started drizzling while we were walking back, and two minutes after we got back to our hostel it started hailing. Yes, hailing. A crazy end to a crazy day I guess.
Nos vemos!
Ryan

Mendoza

photo credit: Abigail

DAY 3: Friday morning, we took the bus to an area called Maipu which is one of the main wine regions in Mendoza. We rented bikes (1 tandem, 2 regular) for the day and ended up visiting three of the many wineries. The first one we visited, Entre Olivios, specialized in olive oil and we also got to taste their jams, mustards, olive spreads, chocolate, honey, and liqueurs.

 

photo credit: Abigail

We ate lunch with some people we met on the road while biking. It was so funny talking about cultural differences with people from the UK, Denmark, and Australia. After lunch, we visited two bodegas (wineries). One was larger and more modern (Trapiche), and the other was smaller and family owned (Di Tomasso).

 

 

Photo credit: Sydney

Can you see the mountains?
Photo credit: Abigail

After our last bodega, we had to bike about 4 miles to return our bikes. Needless to say, my butt hurt for a couple days afterward. Sydney and I sang through the pain as we biked, and we were all back to our starting place before we knew it!

Nos vemos!

Ryan

Semana Santa

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect” -Paul Theroux
A couple friends and I went on an adventure during Semana Santa. We had a 6-day weekend but by skipping 2 days of class, I was able to turn it into a 10 day trip 🙂 After my visit to Teatro Colon (previous post) the rest of the day was madness getting packed, all homework done, to class, to the train station, and finally to the bus terminal.
All I brought for TEN DAYS
I was extremely proud of myself for only
bringing what’s shown. Anyone who knows me knows I am not good at packing light. Unfortunately, just because bags are small doesn’t mean they aren’t heavy, ouch.
photo credit: Abigail
DAY 1: The bus terminal is one of the craziest things I have ever experienced in my life. Our bus was over an hour late, and we had to get through this mob to get to our bus. People pushing and shoving, no room to move, anger. Insanity.

DAY 2: After about 14 hours on the bus, we finally arrived in Mendoza. We took an overnight bus, so I pretty much slept the whole time. Bus seats are way more comfy and roomy than planes, so it wasn’t too bad. We checked into our hostel and even though we were completely exhausted, we freshened up, got some lunch, and headed over to Parque San Martín.

Tired travelers (photo credit: Sydney)

Parque San Martín is this giant park in Mendoza-around 970 acres. We hiked to the top of this huge hill called Cerro de la Gloria where there is a pretty cool view, as well as a monument. The monument was built in honor of the Army of the Andes which freed Chile from the Spanish Empire in 1817.

photo credit: Sydney

 

On our way back to our hostel, we walked through some of the plazas. There was a craft fair going on in one of them, another was overrun with teenage boys and had literally been turned into a skate park, and others were constructed in different styles (Spanish, Italian, etc.). That evening, we cooked breakfast for dinner and had fun meeting some of the people in our hostel.
More installments on their way.
Nos vemos!
Ryan