Anyways, I spent 19 days traveling throughout the southern part of Argentina with about 78 other exchange students. The trip left from Cordoba which is a few provinces away from mine. I spent 2 nights in Puerto Madryn, 3 nights in Calafate, 3 nights in Ushuaia, 1 night in Esquel, 2 nights in Bariloche, and 1 night in San Martin de los Andes. I am sure that those cities are of no significance to you considering you have probably never even heard of them… but I will be sure to tell you about them! That means, I spent 7 days sleeping on a bus. Of course the days were spread out…. Thank God. Except the night before we got to Cordoba, we slept on the bus… then, I had to sleep on the bus from Cordoba back to my province. Needless to say, the bus was pretty stinky and dirty toward the end of the trip.
I first want to tell you some random things that happened along our trip. My friend wanted to break her 100 peso bill so she decided to buy a pack of gum for 2 pesos. The cashier asked if she had smaller bills and my friend said no. So, the cashier called the manager over and the manager gave my friend back the 100 and the manager handed the cashier 2 pesos. My friend got the pack of gum for free since they didn’t have a lot of change!
The bathrooms here also make me laugh…. In some public restrooms, they have bar soap formed on a metal rod. Check out the picture! Also, sometimes, there is a lady working in the bathroom. Sometimes she just keeps it clean. But, sometimes she sits at the door and folds toilet paper and sometimes you have to pay for it or sometimes there is a bin for you to give her a donation!
To my surprise, there are Chinese restaurants here! On my trip, we went to two different ones because they had buffets so it was easier to serve a large group. They have Chinese food but they also have asado… which is bbq-ing Argentine style. I loved the lo mien noodles the one day but the next day I couldn’t even look at them. The reason is because my friend was pouring water in my mouth for me to drink, but I choked… sadly, I threw up because of it. After that, I was not a fan of the lo mien.
Here, you can get in the casinos at 18 but they barely card you anyways. Me and my friend walked into one… I guess she heard the guy at the front desk talking to us but she ignored him… after a minute or so, he came after us and told us that we had to pay 2 pesos to enter…. So we left. We just went inside so that I could see a casino since I had never been inside one before.
Everyone seemed to be having problems on the trip with their cameras. I think 4 people broke their cameras or maybe more. My camera was sitting on my hotel bed and someone broke the camera flap so I lost my camera cover for my battery and memory card… oddly, my camera would not work without it! Thankfully, I found it but I need to find a way to reconnect it so that I will not lose it again.
My friend from Maryland loves doing hair…. On the trip she kept braiding it. One day, she cut me bangs and straightened it!
Another random fact is that I found a piece of wood in my potato salad at the one hotel. Sometimes, I never really know what I am eating here! haha
I am proud to say that I went to Wal-Mart in Argentina for my first time! It was a great experience because I was able to see how different the products are that they carry. They definitely aim to please the consumer. They even had two aisles of alcohol. I saw that this one brand of wine was priced to be equivalent to 3 dollars which I believe is relatively cheap! Haha
I also went to McDonalds. I ordered a large drink and I got the medium sized one we get in the US. Also, all combos come with a small drink and fries… which I believe is actually their medium size. You cannot upgrade or biggie size here! But I talked to my German friends and they said that the sizes here are equivalent in Germany. I guess the US is the only country who goes big. Go big or go home! Haha.
Nothing really happened at Cordoba because all we did was go to the shopping center there. This guy selling sunglasses tried told me he would take the price down 5 pesos if I kissed him. I could not believe he would say something like that… He was in his 20s so it wasn’t as creepy… considering a lot of the old men whistle and honk their horns at me and my friends. Uck!
So at Puerto Madryn, I went whale watching! The whales got so close to the boat; it was absolutely amazing. If I remember right, the whales can only be seen toward/in the summer months. They are only found in that area then because it is breeding time. I guess the whales attract people from all over the world. I also saw sea lions who just laid on the sand and sunbathed the whole time. I was happy to see penguins as well! But these penguins are different… they are a lot smaller than the normal penguin I had pictured. Also, they live in these dirt holes. Signs tell you not to touch the penguins but when no one was watching, I bent down and pet one. I could not let that opportunity slip away! Haha.
Calafate was beautiful because I was able to see the only in land growing glacier in the world. Also, it was my first time seeing a glacier in person! I went on a boat ride where I was able to get very close to it. I even was able to see some ice fall from it. It is absolutely astonishing because when the ice falls, it is so loud. I looked at the glacier and I had no idea that the ice falling was probably my size or bigger… it just looks so much smaller since the glacier is sooooo large!
One of my favorite cities was Ushuaia! We had to cross over Chile to get there and go over the Tierra del Fuego. I went on a ferry that had cars, a tractor trailer, and a bus on it! Never in my life had I been on a ferry that big. Anyways, Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the whole world! I had a great time searching for postcards that said “fin del mundo.” We went into one store and they had historical things from other countries hanging on the ceiling. They had the American flag and some of our money. They also hung our exchange cards near the cash register!
Esquel had beautiful mountains with bodies of water located right in front of them. It was really windy there but we went to the beach and took pictures. I was told that it reminded someone of Italy. I have never been to Italy so I do not know why… but I guess it is the landscape.
Yay, Bariloche! This place is known for their chocolate. Kirsten, Renata and I had a GREAT time there! We had some pretty good chocolate I must say. I have some to bring back home for my family. It doesn’t expire for awhile so I decided to share it with the people I love the most! I brought a different brand home for my host family. I hope that they enjoy it! We went to a place that had pool, fuse ball and bowling… it was a pretty fun time. We also saw a lot of saint bernards. They are a common type of dog here because they are used to sniff people out of avalanches… something like that. You could pay about 8 dollars and get your picture with one but I just decided to take pictures of it. I didn’t want to pay to just be in the picture with it. Haha
Finally, San Martin de Los Andes! They had a really nice beach but you were not allowed to swim in it. It was brisk and windy the day we were there and the water was cold. However, some kids go their suits on and ran into the water anyways. Of course they did not stay in there long since it was so cold! There, we exchanged a lot of our pins for our Rotary blazer. I also got a lot of business cards from my fellow exchangers.
In all, I believe that I had a pretty productive trip. I created unforgettable memories with friends that I am going to have for a lifetime!
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