These past few weeks abroad have been so packed full of activities! September 17th is Independence Day in Chile, which is one of the biggest events of the year. We basically had the entire week off of school so last Thursday two friends and I took off to Argentina for the weekend! We spent the day in a bus maneuvering through the mountains and when I wasn’t sleeping it was a gorgeous view so the drive was pretty nice. When we arrived that afternoon in Mendoza we realized that we didn’t know exactly where we were going so between a few maps and strangers we managed to find the hostel that we were staying at. The hostel thankfully did not have bed bugs and although there were the occasional pet remnants in the hallway the people were really nice and there was free breakfast each morning! The first evening we explored the streets of Mendoza in search of a seafood restaurant and when we arrived at 7pm we were surprised to discover that they didn’t open until 9pm. So we went to a café as we waited for the restaurant to open and it was well worth the wait. We had two plates full of seafood, paella and wine. It was one of the most filling and probably one of the best meals of my life. The manager really liked us too and she gave us free dessert and even walked us outside to find a taxi once we were all done. The next day we hit the streets again first in search of food. We found an Italian restaurant and again the workers were so nice and let us try this drink that was actually incredibly sweet even though I normally don’t like alcohol very much. Then we went out for ice cream where I had manjar and dulce de leche—two of the sweetest and best Latin American flavors in my opinion so needless to say that was a very successful investment. Then we searched for a walking tour and since I was in charge I got us a little lost so we ended up exploring one of the plazas which thankfully was very beautiful and entertaining. Then we spent a couple of hours in bookstores since the books are cheaper in Argentina and I bought a couple of Spanish children books for my little brother Hayden. The next day we went to an art museum and an art fair. It was really interesting how the art is distinct in Argentina where they use precious gems that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. The people were really eager and kind enough to share stories about their art and experiences as well. Then we spent the evening having another amazing meal where I opted to have seafood and wine again while my friends Karrin and Nicole wanted to try the famous Argentinian meat. At the end of our meal Karrin tried to compliment the waiter on the excellent service and accidentally said he was the best shrimp we’ve ever had instead of best waiter— camarón, camarero—close enough right? Then on Sunday, our last day, we spent the day riding horses to get to a wine tour where we sampled wines and tried and race to see how fast we could go on the way back! The owner was so nice that he even invited us to an asado, or barbeque, complete with meat, salad and dessert. Overall, as your can tell, this was a trip of food but also of people who were so kind and welcoming. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to explore a little bit of another Latin American country while I was here abroad 🙂
I came back to Chile just in time for the Independence Day events and had an absolute blast with the asados and family bonding. I played soccer with my host brothers, read books to my little host cousin and was the “helicopter” to my host nephew holding his hands and lifting him up going around in circles as he said más, más! We also went out to a fair one day with just Nacho and Cata (my host brother and sister-in-law) and their kids and it was so much fun getting to see their babies’ faces light up with all of the colors and rides! Aside from the fair, almost all of the businesses were closed for a few days and I thought that was so great because it gives all of the Chileans time to focus on their families, which is such a prominent part of the culture.
Then I spent the weekend showing my friend Joel from my college back at home the city a little bit by walking through the cerros of Valparaiso. Overall I think that this was a great week off where I was able to spend a lot of quality time with friends abroad but also to integrate myself into the Latin American culture. Although I may not be blood related to anyone here, it’s really assuring to feel loved, welcomed and to share experiences with people of all different ages and walks of life <3