The days in Buenos Aires are slowing but surely passing, and with each new day, each new adventure, each cup of café con leche more, I’m falling more and more for this city. For a while it’s ceased to feel strange to hear and live in Spanish, and I’m really happy at the progress that I feel I’ve made with conversing. I’ve also been living with a guilt free approach to food, and I couldn’t be happier about that decision.
In my last post I left you right before my weekend trip to Mendoza, Argentina. To be honest, I made the last minute decision to go the night before we left, and I’m so glad I did. After our day at the Estancia on Thursday, we all went home and packed up for our overnight bus ride across the country to Mendoza, which is on the Chile side of Argentina. Before going, I honestly knew very little about Mendoza or why it’s a popular destination. But I joined a group of 7, followed their plans, and threw caution to the wind! I’m usually a very meditative person, and I like to plan a lot before I make any big decisions. But I decided that I need a little spontaneity in my life…and bought the ticket. Thursday night the group of us met up and boarded our bus for the 14 hour ride ahead of us.
It was really nice that the trip was overnight. We ended up sleeping most of the way, and arrived in Mendoza in the afternoon, and walked right to our hostel, Hostel Lagares, from the bus station. I’ve never stayed in a hostel, and it was a pretty cool experience! There were quite a bunch of young people staying there, especially from the UK, travelling around Argentina. Our first afternoon/evening we spent walking around the city. It is also more calm and smaller than Buenos Aires.
Friday was a holiday, so there were a lot of people and families out and about in the park. We roamed through some of them to see what was going on and check out some of the artisan crafts and jewelry on display. Later that night, we filled up on a nice dinner and wine, and got some rest before the busy day ahead of us. Saturday was incredibly fun. We woke up early to have breakfast in the hostel, and were met by our guides who drove us to our first bodega, or winery. Our plan was to do a biking wine tour of several different bodegas in the area.
The first bodega we visited was one of the oldest in the area, we had a tour of the grounds and we even got to climb into an old, giant, “haunted” wine vat. It was great. We then moved back into the main building for the part we’d been waiting for-wine tasting! We got to sample various red and white wines, and we learning what sorts of fruit go into the wines, how they’re made, and the types of meals that accompany each. My favorite ended up being a red wine, Malbec Roble. It was really cool to actually learn something about the wines and the work that goes into making each. Besides, now I can feel fancy and sophisticated while aerating my wine, and actually know what I’m doing as well.
From there, we hopped on our bikes, and made our way to the next Bodega just up the road. This one was newer and had a different and more industrial look to it. This one was also a popular tourist spot. After that tasting, we made our way back to the first bodega for lunch-accompanied with wine of course. We also had an English couple on the tour with us, and they were fun to talk to. We also chatted with our guide Diego. He’s from Buenos Aires, but prefers the more calm feeling of Mendoza. He studies, and works as a guide for these wine tours and outdoor excursions. What a great job.
After lunch, we were full and ready to hop onto our bikes. Our third and final bodega was a little further out from where we were, but with such gorgeous scenery. Since we were biking, it was nice to be able to stop occasionally a take in the scene and snap some pictures. Wine country is beautiful and quiet. I couldn’t help but imagine how nice it would be in the summer.
By our third bodega, we’d each picked out our favorite wines, and were feeling like proper wine connoisseurs. We headed back to our hostel and spent the night relaxing, laughing, and enjoying our mini vacation.
The next morning, we were up early again for breakfast, and then had a long drive out of the city to the mountains in a small town called Potrerillos . It was a gorgeous drive in, and it ended up being sunnier out, which was nice, but still cold.
We split up into two different groups. Me, Stephen and Sara opted for a horseback-riding trek up through the mountains. I’ve done a handful of trail rides in the states, but I have to say this was the best one I’ve done. It was very chill, in that the guides really just led us there and back, and we just took in the scenery. But it was a fairly challenging ride, I have to say. It’s rocky on the parts of the mountain, and I was amazed at the skill with which the horses picked their way up and down the narrow paths.
I conducted some mobile journalism, and let me horse carry me as I took pictures of the scenery around us. It was really breathtaking. On our way back, and few of us were itching to pick up the speed, and our guide let us trot and gallop our way back, which was really so fun. After that, we met up with the rest of our group and enjoyed the view from a little higher up as we zip lined through the mountains, which was incredible! That night we made our way back home by bus and slept the whole way! All in all, Mendoza was a fantastic weekend, and the best spontaneous travel plan I’ve ever made.
The rest of the week followed with lots of IFSA planned activities. I really like that this program has a wide variety of activities to chose from and that they get a really broad scope of the things you’ll find in the city. On Wednesday after class we had a trip planned to the Museo de Eva Peron. The museum was once a house that belonged to a wealthy Spanish family and then made it’s way into the hands of Eva Peron’s foundation (there are differing opinions as to how that happened.) Eva and her husband, former President of Argentina, are incredibly fascinating characters. It’s amazing to me that they are still such an integral part of this city’s vibrant political scene.
We also got to visit MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art, which was fantastic. There was only a small sampling open for us to see, but it was definitely worth it! They had some cool modern pieces, and a painting by Diego Rivera and self portrait by Frida Kahlo, which were both really cool to see!
And in keeping with the museum theme, Saturday we went to visit the Bicentennial Museum and the Casa Rosada. The Casa Rosada is basically Argentina’s white house. It’s where the president, Cristina Kirchner works and it also contains a lot of historical importance being that it faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was really cool to see things come full circle. We started our trip in Argentina at the Plaza de Mayo, and sort of finished it there as well. But after all that we’ve learned, the area, the whole city even, has taken on a brand new meaning.
The week concluded with a really fantastic show called Fuerza Bruta, which was the most bizarre and interesting show I’ve ever seen. Even trying to describe it to my host mom afterwards was difficult, because it’s just in a league of it’s own. It’s an experimental type theater show, and very interactive. It’s a conglomeration of hypnotic music, flashing lights, and confetti, water, and movement. You kind of feel like you’re in a trance the whole show. Definitely was an experience!
And as much as I love this city and the wonderful things I’ve been able to do and see, it wouldn’t at all be the same without the wonderful people in it; the IFSA team, my host mom, and of course, all of the other students, just like me, having their own adventures in Argentina. Although we’ve only known each other for a few short weeks, it’s crazy to think that very soon we all won’t be together! I’ve made some fantastic friendships and have been learning so much from this gang, and I truly enjoy all the time I get to spend with them. They have most certainly helped to make my experience here, and I am incredibly glad to be sharing it with them.