Hello from the Buenos Aires airport! I last posted on the blog shortly after I arrived in Argentina, and I thought it would only be fitting to do a little reflecting on all that has happened since as I now depart the country.
The past four months I've been living in Mendoza, Argentina which is at the base of the Andes foothills right across the border from Santiago, Chile. Mendoza is known as the "land of sun and wine" and has many beautifully irrigated vineyards even though the climate is actually quite dry.
My first month was quite an adventure as the professors at the public university where I was trying to take classes were on strike because their 8% raise didn't match the country's nearly 40% inflation rate. This caused much chaos as they kept pushing off the start to classes so then the students started to protest as well and repeatedly shut down the entrance to the school. It got to the point where our program told us to find new classes at the private university, so I was finally able to start all of my classes at the end of August. I did make some use of all my free time by joining a local trail running club. We went on some great runs and found some snow in the foothills!
|One of the many protests through the streets. I think this one was mostly professors.|
|Some spring snow in August!|
Once my classes got rolling I was able to get into more of a rhythm of every day life. I started taking guitar lessons and began my volunteer work with the program at a local school for people with special needs. In September, we had a week free for spring break, so I decided to pop over the border to La Serena, Chile to visit my friend and high school host sister Fernanda and the rest of her family. It was surreal to be back in the house that I lived in freshman spring of high school and it was so great to catch up with Fernanda and her family. I visited them again this past week to say goodbye and there was much talk of them visiting the US sometime soon so I hope that happens!
|Here I am with Fernanda on a hike up Cerro Grande, the big hill that makes up the backdrop of La Serena.|
|Nothin like a mid run shake out to "You're the One That I Want" from Grease.|
|The fruits of our labor. It was delicious.|
The first week of November we ended our classes at the private university. It was weird because I had started so late but then some of the finals weren't until the end of November. One of my classes also just didn't meet for almost all of October for various random reasons so that was interesting. I did enjoy my (surprisingly rigorous) Argentine history class as I learned a lot of context behind why Argentina has the governmental and economic problems it does today (six coups d'état followed by dictatorships in a span of 50 years will mess some things up). I also decided to do the Cerro Arco trail race with the running club. Even though they tried to convince me to do the 50k, I opted for perhaps the more reasonable 15k that climbed straight up and down the 2,300 foot hill in 90 degree heat. It was a scorcher but I had a lot of fun!
|Out for a little course preview the week before with the running crew.|
|Getting my pain face on for the first time in a while!|
My parents were also kind enough to pay me a visit and I was able to check many things off my Mendoza bucket list with them such as climb to the Aconcagua base camp, go to some wineries, and go mountain biking. We also had a lovely dinner with my host mom and her partner.
|On our way up to the Aconcagua base camp. The peak was covered by clouds but it was still cool to see most of the highest mountain in the southern and western hemispheres!|
|I thoroughly enjoyed wine tasting with my parents.|
|The rents enjoying the view from Potrerillos where we went biking.|
|My host mom Carmen and her partner Hector. I now have two Carmens in my life!|
|All smiles after a great last performance of the year!|
My Spanish has certainly improved and I learned a lot about myself this past semester and how I deal with situations out of my comfort zone. Although sometimes I had a hard time understanding the different rhythm and occasional chaos that is Argentine culture, I'm glad I went and I'm going to miss it. I'm definitely happy to be headed home and am beyond excited get on snow and see everyone in a few short weeks!
Sending love and good vibes for all the folks headed into finals!