I blinked and it’s almost Christmas! Where has the time gone?
Since my return from Patagonia, my time in Argentina flew by. Those last three weeks I did my best to enjoy my time to the max so here is what I remember although it all feels like a blur.
Apart from getting all the clubbing out of my system, I tried to do some cultural activities before my time was up. This included a bike wine tour in Maipú with Roni and Casey. It was a beautiful day to stroll around the wine town. We also got to hit up a chocolaterie and a brewery for lunch. Although the wine tasting was a bit on the pricey side, it was very much worth. We got lucky with the perfect day! This was probably my favorite outing.
We had our last excursion with the CELE program. We went to Bodega Ruca Malen (bodega = winery) where we had a five course lunch and tour of the bodega and the wine process which I have come to learn a lot about while living in Mendoza on our many winery visits.
The dishes were more interesting than tasty, but the presentation for sure was amazing. The third course was a sirloin steak which was no doubt the best meat I’ve ever had in my life. I learned a new word this day: “maridaje” which is the pairing of wine and food. The word is derived from “marido” or “matrimonio” which translates into marriage.
On our last day of class we had a graduation ceremony followed by a farewell dinner at Amparo’s house in Chacras. The ceremony was great and Roni and Naz featured the video of our quarter abroad experience with Enrique Iglesias’ song “Bailando”. The CELE staff said some special words on behalf of the program and how much they will miss us for being the great group that we were. (I don’t doubt this, we all seriously got along incredibly well!) The asado at Amparo’s was an extension of sharing thanks to everyone who helped organize our stay in Mendoza and saying our final goodbyes to both classmates, professors and coordinators.
Mason and I said goodbye to Sergio, the coolest Mendocino ever! He is famous in Mendoza for saving people on the side of the road in his “clio embarrado”. Not to mention he brings all his cooking stuff with him to make them a picnic! The best empanadas in Mendoza were no doubt Sergio’s. I organized a day where I brought the UCD group to Sergio’s for his empanadas de carne and we ate them at the Parque General San Martin. I think everyone can attest to the fact that these are indeed the best of the best!
I also said my goodbyes to the Santamarina Family this day. We had a mini family photo shoot that evening. The only person I cried about leaving behind was Sylvia. She was my Argentine mom (since I didn’t have one) while I was in Mendoza although she was technically Mason’s host mom. I already miss her, Francisco and Manuel! They were my second family while abroad along with Lucía and her two kids which I adore so much, Santino and Andres (not pictured).
Then it was off to CHILE with Lisa! It was roughy an 8 hour bus ride from Mendoza, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile. Because this blog is only intended to feature my experience in Argentina, I will try to be brief about the rest of my travels.
In Chile I was introduced to the work of the graffiti artist Inti Castro. He has some truly amazing works of art all over Chile. He made me see both graffiti and Chile in a different retrospect. While in Valparaiso we were able to visit La Sebastiana, home of the Chilean writer which I admire so much Pablo Neruda.
My favorite mode of transportation in Valparaiso were the “colectivos” which are taxis that go a specific route, but are much cheaper than actual taxis. All the houses in Valparaiso are colorful. Nobody would dare paint their house white because they didn’t want to be “agua fiestas” or boring!
Santiago was my favorite. I could see myself living there. We did a Wally tour to acquaint us with the city and learned how to get around fairly quickly using the metro. What an awesome city and three days was nowhere near enough! We were able to go to El Museo de Memorias y Derechos Humanos which mostly featured life during the dictatorship of Pinochet. It was the most complete museum I have ever been to and FREE! You cannot go to Santiago without visiting this museum which has so much important history about Chile.
Below is where the president lives called “La Moneda”. You will also see Santiago has it’s own “Big Ben” and a New York Street. Two things you must have while in Chile: A “terremoto” drink and a “chacarero” sandwich. The terremoto drink is either rosé or white wine with pineapple ice cream. We tried both with our new Australian friend Mel who had been told the best ones in Santiago are at “La Piojera”. Let’s just say they were delicious and the metro ride back to the hostel was quite entertaining! The chacarero sandwich we had at a place that was recommended to us on the tour called La Union Bar Restaurant, opened for the public that was not allowed in the actual La Union across the street where the aristocrats discuss politics.
A new slang word I learned while in Chile: Kiltros. That is what they call “perros callejeros” or stray dogs that roam the streets.
Our last day we spent buying artesanias in Bellavista neighborhood. I really loved Chile and wish I could have had more time there. We got to spend a little less than a week there and are planning to go back. We had good experiences with both our bus commutes and hostel stays. We started and ended the trip together so it was sad to say goodbye to Lisa, but I’ll be living with that mensa when I move back to Davis so all is well!
I am now in Colombia spending the holiday season with family. The novenas have already begun (Colombians celebrate the nine nights before baby Jesus was born). I must say it was nice to be picked up by family for a change and ride comfortably in a car to see the familiar streets of Bogotá. This is my second home no doubt and I felt that as soon as I arrived.
I don’t think I will post anything about my stay in Colombia as this is more a personal experience than a shared one. The company of my family, especially my grandpa, has been the best thing for me after all my traveling abroad. Being able to be here for the Christmas season is the next best thing after dulce de leche ice cream 😉
So after all my traveling to three kick ass countries in South America in three months, I have decided I will go south every winter 🙂
Thanks for following on my journey!