Wow. Bariloche was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I absolutely love skiing and I loved getting out of the city for a little while, it definitely took my mind off of the stresses of city life and now that I'm back, I'm waaay more calm about things.
I'll start by saying that I went to class on Friday to get my grade, and I got a 9! Which, as described by the Universidad de Belgrano is the equivalent of an A or 3.9 in the US scale. Score 1 for Caroline.
After class, Jen and I bought some food for the bus trip and grabbed a taxi to Retiro's "Terminal de Omnibus" to catch our bus to Bariloche. Of course, the day that we REALLY need to be somewhere on NY time and not Porteño time, there's a ton of traffic. It ended up working out because our bus was an hour and a half late... but we had already gotten out of our taxi and ran to the station before we figured that out (and I had a minor freak out thinking the bus left without us and my Dad was going to kill me for wasting his money, but that was unnecessary).
Now, I'll break my trip down into subcategories so that it's easier to read:
Our hostel was so fantastic. It was my first time staying in a hostel, and after this experience, I don't know why I would ever choose to stay elsewhere. I felt so safe and the staff at our hostel (Albergue El Gaucho) were so friendly and funny. I didn't bring my laptop or my good camera because I've heard hostel horror stories, but if I go back to Bariloche (the money-God permitting), I would definitely feel safe taking it with me.
Wow. The people. The people that I met in Bariloche are the nicest people I've met so far in Argentina. Hands down. (No offense to my roommates and the CEA staff, haha.) But I absolutely loved them. It's ski week at Cerro Catedral which means there was a definite international crowd, but it was wonderful. Jen and I shared a room with a crazy old Dutchman (known as Dutch) who worked as a ski instructor in Breckenridge, CO for 35 years. He walked in the first day and said "I'm sorry I'm old, but your other roommate is a tall, dark, handsome Brazilian," and boy, was he right! Thiago was our other roommate and he is 27 and from São Paulo. He was sort of shy, and Dutch is sort of the most outgoing person in the world, and for this, Thiago hung around with Jen and me, and Jen and I also hung around with Dutch (and his eclectic group of friends). There were bandmates from Argentina, a group of young Brazilian girls, some men who had given up material life and become citizens of the world, and of course .. me and Jen. I ate up the people from the hostel; it fueled my experience.
Also, going out with Thiago was hilarious. We went to a bar that was packed with Brazilians (Pipa says it's because it's vacation and not one area of poor Brazil has snow, so they all had to come to Cerro Catedral), but I got mistaken for a Brazilian more than once! Woo-hoo! Haha. I also met a kid who actually lives in Buenos Aires (as I'm gathering, half of Argentina does...) and we have semi-plans to meet up again. It would be really cool to have a native friend, but I'm also worried about cultural differences because it might have a different meaning to meet up with a guy that you met in a bar. To me, coffee = friendship, to Latinos (specifically Argentinians) coffee might mean something totally different...
Jen and I stayed at El Gaucho while the others from CEA stayed elsewhere, and we didn't see each other much outside that first day, and I'm so okay with that. I wouldn't have had the amazing experience that I did had I stuck with all the American students, and Jen was the perfect person to share this experience with because we get along well and we tend to want to try out the same things.
Oh yeah, what did I actually go to Bariloche for? .. SKIING! The conditions at Cerro Catedral were so-so, but I love skiing. As Dutch says, "skiing is Heaven under your feet" and I believe that's the truth. I had so much fun skiing. My first run, of course, after 5 years without skis on was down a red (which is a black diamond in the US), and I'm proud to say that I didn't "wreck myself" (as my brother would say), but I did end up leaving skiing with the group to go off on my own. Skiing doesn't always have to be about being the fastest and best, which is what I think it was to some of my partners, and I was okay with sticking to easy and intermediate runs and enjoying life and the view.
On my second day of skiing, it snowed! It was so magical and I absolutely loved being in the Andes, skiing, while it snowed. Those three things combining made my day one that I will never forget. On the second day I literally did the same basic run every day while my friend Kaitlyn taught herself to snowboard by being a spectator. And I was 100% okay with that. Dutch had some very kind words to say to me about how happy I appeared even though I had an easy day, and I'm now considering ditching school and becoming a ski instructor. I just want to be like him!
I had so much fun on my trip. I don't know what else there possibly is to say. I loved all of my time in Bariloche. There's not one second that I would give away for anything. Seriously. The people, the place, the views were all so amazing. It really was heaven on earth.