I don't have any travels planned currently, but follow my life adventures at arabianights.tumblr.com!
I’m currently sitting at my home in Los Angeles, listening to latin music and uncomfortably aware that I did not blog about my last week in Chile. Oops.
Instead of blogging about what I did on a daily basis—which was a lot (Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, the fashion museum, Cerros, markets, yadda, yadda), I think it’s time for me to reflect now that all of my planned travels have come to an end.
Today, while I had dinner with my friend Alice, she commented that I’m so full of wisdom about people. While I don’t think that is necessarily true, I do think that any knowledge that I have and will continue to learn has stemmed from all of my experiences.
I am well aware of how lucky I am. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places in the world and have spent time with many wonderful people who have welcomed me into their cultures and eagerly taught me the ways of their worlds.
In the two weeks I spent in Chile, I enjoyed myself tremendously. Not because of all of the crazy things there are to do in Santiago. But rather, I enjoyed spending time with people-learning, laughing, dancing, speaking. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that in all of my experiences abroad, it has always been the people that make the adventures so fun.
I learned the most ridiculous Chileanisms, went out dancing with my teachers, cooked food for all my housemates, and ate meat that had been slow-cooked in a pit. And yet, without the friends I made along the way, I don’t think I would have enjoyed these experiences half as much.
So to everyone who was ever a part of my traveling experiences, thank you. Thank you for the lessons, the fun, and the experience.
I am blessed, I am humbled, and I am thankful.
As much as I liked Argentina, there are certain characteristics of Chile that are so much better!
In the past few days I’ve made plenty of new friends from school and we’ve all gone out and done a bunch of touristy things together which is great! It’s a nice change to be part of a big group rather than a duo for most of the time.
We ate SUPER fresh seafood at the seafood market yesterday. Cheap and delicious. My past two trips have really given me a newfound appreciate for fish. Afterwards, a bunch of us went to Cerro San Cristobal, where we took a bus to the top of the hill for an amazing view of the city before walking all the way back down. I discovered that they sell magnum ice cream here which was exciting…they really need to make it in the U.S.
Because we all walked so much, we all bonded a lot! Well, that and the fact that we talk about philosophy during conversation class. But it’s great to have a group that I so instantly clicked with.
Today was more chill. We went to Pablo Neruda (a famous Chilean poet’s) 2nd out of 3 houses. It was really interesting to see the eclectic and oftentimes narcissistic decorations and get a peek inside the mind of such a famous poet. In addition, his house was modeled after a boat which made for a cozy feeling. By the time we got home, it was evening time and we hung out with everyone at Casa Loca before bed.
Lazy sundays are often appreciated as a special treat, like this past Monday (holiday).
Alaa, Lydia (our friend from ECELA BA), and I casually strolled to Plaza de Armas and on the way encountered many lovely parks. We chose to sit in one and bask in all the glory that is primavera (spring) in Santiago and take in our surroundings, which included many a stray dog and many too-passionate couples.
After escaping some interesting gypsies (one who apparently has a son in Los Angeles), we stumbled upon a gorgeous fountain and took some photos. One helado later, we reached Plaza de Armas, where we spent some time people-watching and looking at local art. It was really a day of observation of Chilean culture—clothing, mannerisms, food, etc.
Today, Tuesday, was our first day of classes. Our first teacher was super (they love the word super here) cool and fun, but I loved my conversation class. The teacher was young and casual, but he structured the class in an excellent way to force us to talk about broad and abstract topics. After our class and welcome lunch, we went to change money then back to a short convo makeup class which was great for meeting more people.
Later in the evening, Alaa, Lydia, and our roommates Birgit and Georgia all headed over to a seafood restaurant to meet up with our BA roommate Angke. Unfortunately the seafood restaurant was out of fish (#southamericaproblems) and after much searching, we ended up at a pizzeria, surrounded by men watching the Chile-Argentina futbol game (Chile lost, uh oh). After we paid, the weirdest thing happened. The waitress brought back our receipt and asked for a larger tip! We were all so surprised because we knew that waitresses get paid a standard salary and we all tipped to be nice but the woman had the gall to ask for more. Lydia is from Singapore and said she was too surprised but the majority of us were shocked. Nonetheless, we added more money and headed home.
Today, one of our teachers asked us what surprised us the most about Chile. Thus far, I’ve made several observations:
-a bit cheaper for groceries, but much more expensive to eat out than in Argentina (and even some places in the U.S.)
-a lot less conservative than I thought—exemplified by all the couples making out at the parks
-extremely fast speaking
-the city is a lot quieter and slow-paced
Have yet to decide which one I like more so far, although I don’t see either city as somewhere I could live permanently. Who knows!
Ciao from la casa loca,
First two days in Santiago have included:
-Moving into a giant house of 12 people and 1 dog named Primavera
-Meeting about half of my housemates, all of whom are really nice
-Speaking mucho espanol con los Brazilianos
-Lots of walking in the city
-and last, but definitely not least, rocking out to Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls with my housemates
I think I’m going to like it here!
That’s all (for now) folks!
For the majority of my time here, I wasn’t sure how much I liked Buenos Aires.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the friends I made, the adventures I had, the spanish I learned, and of course the steak and empanadas I ate.
But for the longest time, I wasn’t sure if BA had captured my heart like some of the other cities I lived in over the past few years. But after much thought, I realize it has indeed. Although the people are much more European than Latin, BA still manages to retain a sense of latin spiciness (that is lacking in its food).
Would I live here? Probably not. Did I enjoy my time? Definitely. And I would probably come back with friends. For some steak, for some tango, and as my professor once said, to a be a “chica que caminas con salsa.”
With my last class under my belt (in an ice cream shop, nonetheless) and some tango tonight, I think I’ve really gotten a taste of Argentina.
As the Argentinean say, there are no goodbyes Only, hasta luego.
And now, I’m off to Santiago!
The past few days have been so busy! I realize now I’m just losing track of where I’m going which is ridiculous. Alaa and I are super efficient!
On Wednesday, we took our first city bus over to La Boca, home of the cute colored houses, tango, and a supposedly amazing futbol team, the La Boca Juniors. La Boca is essentially made up of two tiny streets of colored houses, but the long ride was so worth it. The houses were adorable, and there were a ton of street vendors selling local art. Alaa and I each bought a few things.
Thursday was a bright and sunny day, so we trekked all the way to Puerto Madero, the port side of Buenos Aires, and walked around. We spent more time walking to the port than actually there, but it was nice to enjoy the sunshine. All the buildings and boats looked so new that we could have easily been at any port city in the world. We even made it home early enough to go to tango and salsa that evening! Needless to say, we’re both officially hooked. The classes are so fun and such a good stress reliever. I am seriously contemplating going when I get back to the U.S!
On Friday, we got back from school and packed for our weekend Patagonia trip. We took another 18 hour bus ride to Puerto Madryn, a smallish city in the state of Chubut. The city was super adorable, and had such an air of relaxation about it. We walked all along the beach and 3 dogs followed us for an hour. We walked all the way to the end of the pier where it was FREEZING. Flashback to Ireland.
The next day we did an all day tour to see the penguins. On our first stop, we were were warned that we would be sans lunch for the day so we should get something prepared. But of course, there was nothing but ham and cheese sandwiches. It’s the most popular option here, and I’ve seen very few meals without ham. So crazy! Needless to say, there were a lot of cookies consumed that day. On our next stop, Alaa and I decided against the boat tour because we both get seasick. Instead, we sat at a little cafe and walked up to the beach which was so pretty and clean (and cold of course!). Our next stop was to see the penguins! We walked through this penguin sanctuary thing where all the penguins just hang out with some llamas and have a good time. So great.
Our last stop was this welsh community village where they are known for growing wheat and having welsh tea parties. It’s still mind-blowing that a group of people just decided they were going to up and move to Patagonia one day. Anyways, on the bus ride back we got to try mate cocido! Mate (mah-tay) is a really popular herb here, basically like herbal tea. The tour guide explained that there are very specific ways to drink it (with one hand, through a special straw, without stirring it, etc). We were honored to drink mate in the “Argentinean way.”
Finally, we made it back in time to shower and eat some sad Mexican food (first stop when I get home, people) and hop on the long bus ride home.
I can’t believe this is already my last week in Buenos Aires! It went by so so fast. But I still have lots of tango and steak to look forward to for the next few days before Santiago!
As they say in BA, ciao, ciao!
Yesterday we went to the most beautiful bookstore I’ve ever seen, called El Ateneo. It used to be a theatre back in the day, and now it has been renovated into a bookshop. All the box seats are cozy reading rooms, and the stage has been transformed into a cafe. It is stunning. I know where I would be if I wanted a reading day!
At night, we went back to school where we learned to make empanadas. It was a lively group of about a dozen people, and by the end we were all great friends. That’s what I love about programs like these. Everyone is always so friendly, which makes it easy to have a great social group. And the empanadas were delicious if I do say so myself.
This morning, it rained a ton, so Alaa and I decided to finally go to the Museo de Bellas Artes. After class, we met up with 3 others and had lunch at Maria de Bambi. Bambi was apparently a famous restaurant in BA and Maria was the head chef. So when it closed, she opened her own restaurant. Such a cute story. Maria herself was there and sat down and even took a photo with us! We all ordered milanesa (breaded meat) and it was the best milanesa we’ve had in BA. Afterwards, we headed over to be culturally enriched at the museum.
By then it was evening time already and too late to tango so we headed home instead.
Thursday afternoon marked the start of true spring weather in Buenos Aires, so Alaa and I took full advantage of it by walking all the way to Palermo, the next huge neighborhood. We probably walked over ten miles, but it was such a beautiful walk. We saw a bunch of parks and plazas, the big metal flower and the japanese gardens. It was really good to just be able to enjoy the springtime.
On Friday, we went to our first tango class. It was really, really fun although I’m super klutzy and bad at it. It’s so hard to just follow someone and not be in control, although one dancer who had been learning for a year practiced making me just follow his lead. Alaa and I are definitely going back at least two more times before we leave, so at least we’ll have some basic dance moves down.
The weekend was super relaxing. Alaa and I realized that we hadn’t slept in the entire time we’d been in B.A., so we slept in on both saturday and sunday. On saturday we went to Plaza de Mayo and sat around and enjoyed the weather, after taking pictures near the historical Casa Rosada (pink house). Later, we walked over to meet some friends from school for parilla (steak). It was good food and good company and SO much steak left over haha. By the time we got back we were beat since the restaurant was around 3 miles away (walking). I loveee that it is such a walking culture here, although it generally means passing out every night haha.
Today, we met up with a friend ad walked to San Telmo market, where we were all successful in purchasing souvenirs. Scoreeee! On the way, we passed a festival celebrating Chilean culture in Argentina, so we got to see some shows and eat some food as well.
It was a really nice and relaxing way to enjoy the weekend which was nice, especially considering that we will be on another 20 hour bus adventure next weekend to Patagonia.
As the Argentinians say, ciao!
Yesterday the weather was fab, which has been a bit of a rarity since we’ve arrived. Spring has literally just started but we’re crossing our fingers for some more sun in the next few weeks!
Alaa and I took full advantage of the weather and walked around to the national monument and el teatro colon, a really old and beautiful theater in the city. After a long walk and many photos, we went home to get some homework done before meeting a group of people for dinner.
We had mexican food, which we somehow miss already. I learned in class today that tortillas are not common in Argentina…SO odd. The place we went to, Salta de Las Ranas was delicious and had such nice ambiance. We met one new person from our school, and hung out with an additional three people. I love that everyone is so friendly! The good food and music didn’t hurt either. We even ended up eating at proper Argentinean time—10 pm dinner. Needless to say, I have no idea how people eat dinner so late because I was starving!
Today, a group of us headed to an empanada place after class and had a sampling of different flavors. I was feeling a bit unimpressed by them before, but this restaurant finally did them justice. Afterwards, Alaa, our friend Laura, and myself all headed over to Recoleta Cemetery, where we saw Eva Peron’s grave. The tombs are all huge and built with doors and chambers and such, which was quite impressive and beautiful.
By the time we left, it was early evening, so Alaa and I decided to spend the rest of the evening at home like the grandmas that we are.
I’m really enjoying the feel of the city so far, although I’ve noticed that it’s quite a mezcla compared to most of the countries I’ve been to recently. Muy interesante.
It has been exactly a week since I’ve arrived and SO much has happened (but somehow, not-so-much as well).
Firstly, I have been terrible at blogging which is quite atypical of me, but with my short time in Argentina, I think I’ll have to settle for blogging several times a week instead of daily.
Monday was a whirlwind. Alaa and I had to be at school super early to take a placement exam and were by some miracle, placed into the same afternoon class (although we realized it was too easy and were moved up a few levels by Wednesday). We had some coffee and lunch at a place called Havanna, which we have since discovered is Argentinean Starbucks. It is eveyrwhere! We got back to school in time for orientation and we met a bunch of new students. After an easy class, we wandered all around the city and did a semi-sketch money exchange with a local store owner. Argentina’s currency apparently has really high inflation, so the dollar is super in-demand. We got a much more competitive rate by changing with a rando than at the bank hehe. Dinner was at a nearby place called Los Molinos, where I ate a fried steak called milanesa. Alaa had the saddest salad ever, literally just grated carrots. Salads in Argentina leave something to be desired.
On Tuesday, we had originally planned to visit Recoleta Cemetery, but we slept in instead (woo jetlag). It was raining incredibly hard that afternoon (adios Indonesia umbrella) so we ended up staying in and chilling for the evening.
By Wednesday, we had switched to the morning class which was a bit intimidating, but much more our speed. We explored a ton that day as well! We went to Plaza San Martin (historically significant with the British colonization), Calle Florida (a famous street), and the national monument (from afar). We went to book a trip to Iguazu Falls for the weekend as well. Afterwards, we met up with our roommate and a friend from school for parilla in Palermo. Parilla is Argentinean steak, made on a coal grill. The place was absolutely amazing, and the entire meal, including starter and drink was under $20. This is where they do steak right!
Thursday after class we headed back to the travel agent to confirm our travel plan. There was a bit of a mix up, but luckily we ran into a friend from school and managed to get spots in a hostel and on the bus to Iguazu. We did another money exchange at a 6.1 rate (instead of the current 4.6) this time! So proud. The bus was 18 hours which was initially worrying, but it was surprisingly comparable to first-class flying and we slept the whole way (the one back was even better, complete with proper meals, blankets, and a pillow).
We arrived Friday afternoon to a pretty decent hostel, and spent the rest of the day hanging out in Iguazu town, and concluded the evening with even more steak. Nom. Although we went to bed early, we quickly learned that Iguazu is a town that never sleeps, as we could hear a loud dance party for the next few hours.
Saturday was an early day for us. The tour bus forgot to pick us up, but we ended up getting a private car to Iguazu National Park which was nice. We spent all day walking and gawking at the amazing waterfalls. Seriously, no photos do them justice. We got back fairly early, so we relaxed for a bit and had dinner and homemade ice cream at a local heladeria.
Sunday, we went on a jungle trekking tour in a very Indiana Jones-esque car. We got to do ziplining and rappeling which was simultaneously nervewracking and exciting, and we met a ton of Americans studying abroad whilst on the tour. We got back reallyyyy early, so we all just hung out and ate until it was time for our bus home.
Today was a super lazy day. We got back in the afternoon and ate, showered, did some grocery shopping, and generally made plans for the week. We’re hoping to start tango classes this week, which I’m super excited about!
Until next time,