Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mendoza la Bonita

My trip to Mendoza, the western "wine province," of Argentina was wonderful! It came at such a good time because I hadn't been out of the city in a month and a half and was starting to get stir crazy from all the concrete. At the same time, it was horrible timing because I arrived back in the city at 7am and had my first part of a final exam at 1pm. That's right, I'm officially finishing my semester (I'll be done on the 4th).

View from my cabaña
The trip to Mendoza was all paid for and organized by CEA, and they did such a spectacular jobs. We stayed outside of the city of San Rafael in the Valle Grande area of Mendoza. Our cabins were along with Río Atuel in the middle of some lovely desert mountains. We left Thursday evening from Buenos Aires and had our own private bus (another part of our group left before us and had a shared bus). It was going smoothly to begin with, but then our bus broke down. The steward kept many of the students happy though by providing all the wine the bus had to offer.

We arrived in Mendoza in the morning and got to the cabañas in time to eat some breakfast. We had a few short hours before we had to regather to go on a group hike. The hike was pretty easy, yet I still managed to hurt my thigh a little bit (probably from goofing off). I loved the views from the hike though. It's so interesting to look around and see only desert and then a patch of super-green trees along the edge of the river. Also during the hike, the guides pointed upward to white sediment resting on the mountain and asked us what it was. Turns out that it's volcanic ash from a volcano that erupted forever again, and over 200km away!
That afternoon I went around taking some photos and playing with my camera, and along the way I met some new Argentine friends! I'm not quite sure how these things happen to me, but I was called over by a group of 20-somethings who were on a bonding trip before they all finish their University program this year. They were on their last day in Mendoza and having a party that night, which they invited me and my friends to go to. After dinner, I stopped there for a little bit but didn't stay long as I was tired from a night of barely sleeping on our bus ride.

Just some of my goofy roommates...
I woke up the next day bright and early! (haha 8:30) to eat breakfast and get ready to go zip-lining and rappelling! This activity was optional, and of course I was going to opt in! It turns out "zip-lining" really isn't anything special in Mendoza, or at least the place we went, because it was seriously one-30-yard-long cable. However, rappelling was interesting! When I've "rappelled" before, it's always been down rock climbing walls, and the rappelling part is just you letting go and bouncing down the wall. Here, it was you stepping your way down 75 ft. of rocks while feeding a rope through a carabiner at your waist. It was difficult to relax enough (and to take short steps), and at one point I lost my control and swung around the side of a rock. Thankfully there was a trusty guide waiting at the bottom of the cliff to pull my rope tight and keep my from plummeting to an untimely death...

That afternoon we had our wine tours! They... were... not very interesting? We went to one bodega (winery) that is large and international and one that is only a family business. I'm not very into wine, so for me the most exciting part was the room in the internationally winery that had some interesting acoustics. If you stood in the center of the room and spoke, it sounded like you were talking into a microphone. But if you stood to the side of the room and talked to the walls, the sound would end up on the other side of the room. People loooved calling my name and seeing my gullible reaction. The family-farm winery also produces organic dried fruit and raises some of the largest pigs (probably) known to man.
That night, I called it quits early and tried to go to bed, but I had a hard time falling asleep, so instead I laid outside on our balcony and took in some fresh mountain air...

The next morning we woke up again, "early," to eat breakfast and get ready for our rafting adventure! The rafting was exciting, but the trip wasn't as long as the two others I have done.  The rapids we did were only level 2, so they were pretty relaxing, and it was just fun to be in the boat. The water on Río Atuel was SO cold, but I jumped in anyway. They actually gave us boots, like those for scuba diving, and jackets that kept our body heat in.
After rafting we had some time to lay out in the sunshine and tan before we needed to pack up all our things and head back to Buenos Aires on the buses. I actually got a little tan! After going a year without summer, having some color seems like the best thing in the world!

However, now I'm back in the great city of Buenos Aires. My exam schedule is in full swing and I'm SO ready to be done with my semester and just have free time every day for a month.
I had the written part of my culture exam on Monday and handed in my Tango paper on Tuesday.
We had today (Wednesday) off for the National Census.
I still have my Gender studies, Political and Social Change, and Spanish written exams. And I have a dance practical for Tango, a presentation for Culture, and an oral exam for Spanish. Then I will be completely done with the Universidad de Belgrano and officially *gasp* a second semester junior...

1 comment:

  1. 1) please take me to Mendoza some day; it looks and sounds amazing.
    2) i wish i could have seen you looking around every time someone called your name, but i can totally picture it so it's almost as good haha
    3) i love how outdoorsy and adventurous all of your activities in Mendoza were
    4) how in the world are you almost done?! i'm so jealous. what are you going to do for your last month (apart from hang with your mommy!)?
    5) i miss you!