Thursday, December 9, 2010


I haven’t been too great at updating my blog for the past two weeks—I’ve been on two different trips and managed to have exams in there. I wrote around 40 pages—all in Spanish, of course. I’m yet to update on my Thanksgiving. On Thursday, November 25, about 140 American students invaded the small colonial town (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Located just across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires and a 1 to 3 hour Buquebus boat ride (depending on if you take the fast or slow boat), it’s a popular day trip from Buenos Aires. The director of our program, Mario, owns a small boutique hotel in Colonia, so we were all invited to his house for an Argentine attempt at Thanksgiving—there was turkey and stuffing but no mashed potatoes, corn bread or pumpkin pie. Oh, and the Argentine favorite choripan (a chorizo sausage sandwich), obviously.

Post-Thanksgiving lunch we all donned bathing suites and spent the afternoon around the lovely pool (weather aside, I usually try to avoid a bikini post-pigging our on Thanksgiving Day, but I decided to make an exception).

After a night in Colonia, I headed to the super luxe Uruguayan beach town of Punta del Este, a favorite vacation hot spot of all the wealthy Argentines, with my friends Gaby, Janie and Savannah—we were not the only IFSA kids who decided to spend a few days at the beach; a number of our friends were also at Punta del Este that weekend.

While the city was close to dead—it’s currently late spring, and the beach will be a crowded mess in a few short weeks—this gave us plenty of room on the beach. We weren’t quite brave enough to test the water, but the sunshine was just perfect. It’s a personal goal to make all of my friends who’ve spent the past few months bundled up in the Northern Hemisphere jealous of my tan. Sorry! Well…not really.

Here are some pictures from my sunny Thanksgiving Weekend:

At our program director Mario's home in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
My first Thanksgiving spent lounging by the pool.

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without...choripan?

yumm yumm yumm

Gotta have the facturas

Sunset on the beach in Colonia

Soaking up the sun in Punta del Este with our new Paraguayan friends.

Returning from the beach with our $5 towels

Even though Punta del Este was pretty much dead in terms of tourism, we managed to meet a number of locals and had two fun nights out on the town.

On our last day in Punta del Este we went to the historical hotel Casa Pueblo.

Doesn't Casa Pueblo look like some sort to sand castel?

With Punta del Este's emblematic hand sculpture.


A little over a week ago I was lying on a beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay soaking up the summer sun, and while I’m currently on a airplane heading back to sunny Buenos Aires, I’ve spend the past four days hiking and playing around in the snow in El Calfate, right in the heart of Patagonia.

I’ve spend the past four days with my girlfriends Sofija and Savannah getting to know one of Argentina’s most famous regions.

On Monday took an Aerolineas Argentinas (the infamous nationalized Argentine Airline) from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. I’ve taken six Aerolineas Argentinas flights since I’ve been here in Argentina, and Monday’s flight was the only one to arrive on time. I landed around 7 PM, and, upon meeting up with Sofija and Savannah had plenty of time to explore the adorable town of El Calafate since the sun doesn’t set until after 10 PM.
El Calafate served as our base in the region from where we took three day trips. On Tuesday two the three of us did our best to bundle up and headed to Perrito Moreno Glacier. While it isn’t the region’s largest glacier, it is isn’t most famous (and most touristy). We viewed the glacier up close from various viewing docks and then took a boat ride to get a closer view. It was great, but we all agreed that the whole experience was a bit touristy. Still numb from our day’s excursions, we returned to El Calafate and purchased more sweaters, gloves and hats.

A little more prepared to brace the cold (I still can’t get over the fact that this is summer weather), on Wednesday we headed north to El Chalten to hike and view Mt. Fitz Roy—the mountain featured on the clothing line Patagonia’s symbol. We hiked uphill to a viewing point for a little over two hours only to find what we were afraid of—we weren’t going to be able to see Fitz Roy because the day was so overcast. However, even though we didn’t get to see Fitz Roy, we did have a pleasant surprise—SNOW! Given that we’ve been experiencing 90 degree weather in BA lately, the snow definitely helped us get into the Christmas Spirit.

Today, Thursday, proved to be our best day yet. We woke up at a painfully early 6 AM and took a bus to a loading dock where we boarded a boat to Estancia Cristina. On the way to the Estancia, we got up close and personal with Upsala Glacier, the region’s largest glacier. Upon arriving at the estancia we boarded 4-wheel drive vehicles that took us to a viewing point high up in the mountains where we had a spectacular view of the glacier. From there we hiked 9 miles through the Valle de los Fosiles in order to get back to the Estancia. The views were stunning, but we were greeted by both snow and rain. Not the most pleasant hiking conditions, but it was an experience nonetheless.

After three days of hiking and baring temperatures far colder than I’m accustomed to, our bodies are sore, but it was a great last trip in Argentina—right now we’re on our way back and I’ve got three days until I head home to the States! Patagonia was a great exclamations point on what has been a fabulous five months—after all, it would have been a shame to live here for five months and not get to know one of Argentina’s most famous (and rightfully so) regions.

(photos to come)