This past week I have been on a trip. I’m writing today (Thanksgiving) because of homesickness mostly but also because I’m procrastinating finishing up my homework, the devil paper that I have to write about the damn Cuban revolution, which by the the US education system teaches us in a very different way than the Argentine one does. Happy Thanksgiving though, I hope you’re all enjoying your turkey and pie.
This trip started off in Buenos Aires where we took an overnight bus to San Juan, a city in the province of San Juan (no creativity). The bus was nice, they gave us these blankets and some snacks and all that, but it’s impossible to sleep on these busses because they have these pillows that they build in to the seat that don’t correspond to human anatomy and when you lay on them your head gets pushed forward and your neck starts hurting after about 30 seconds. My remedy to that is just to move positions as often as possible until you doze off which sometimes happens and sometimes not so much. Anyway, the province is basically all desert, and I actually did a research thing on it because they have a mining, environmental conflict going on over there (This mining company, Barrick Gold, is basically their entire economy but is also ruining and/or contaminating all the glaciers in the Andes in that areas that are the only source of drinkable water for that province. It’s the classic money vs. future life sustainability conflict that everyone else in the world has). But anyway San Juan is a modest city. It’s pretty relaxed and there’s really not much to do. We stayed in this weird hostel the first night which was basically just a hang out place for the workers college buddies to hang out an watch soccer and drink beer. They were plenty nice though and served us both beer free of charge which they were consumed whole heartedly in a soccer game Lily (the lady I was traveling with) and I knew nothing about. We slept there that night and had plans to head north to a tiny town called San Agustin where they have excursions to this cool national park. So we get up at like 630am literally chug hot coffee and swallow a few croissants whole and head out. The bus was around four hours long and went along these cool hills. There were all these cows and goats along the road (I’m pretty sure caw roadkill is more common than deer roadkill in the US) and these little tiny mountain towns that looked like fun. So we get to San Agustin at like 1130 and wait for our tour which started at 3. The tour was really awesome. It was through this park called Ischigualasto which i have no idea what it means or how to say it. They also call is Valle de la Luna (valley of the moon) because some rock formations look moonish I’m assuming. But anyway it’s this archeological zone that’s really huge and has five different stops of interest. The history of it is that the whole area used to be underwater in the triassic or jurassic or whatever era so theres all these cool rock formations that look different on the first half than the second because some parts were formed by water and others by the air. Also theres a ton of fossils around there and apparently it was a big dinosaur hang out. Here are some pictures:
So we get back to San Agustin at about 8pm and the last bus back to the city was at 330am. We didn’t get a room at that hostel in effort to save money so we kind of just sat around the hostel until then. That proved difficult because I feel asleep almost immediately on the couch and evidently began snoring in the main area. That’s embarrassing but I guess it was tired and Lily woke me up in effort to save my dignity. Turns out the desert isn’t always warm because that night i swear it was negative degrees. The hostel owner was nice enough to to give me a blanket, I’m forever grateful for that man. So 300 comes around and we get on the bus back to San Juan where we get on another bus to Mendoza. It was a long and uncommonly cold night where neither of us got any sleep– kinda a disaster. So we get to Mendoza at about 11am where we stayed for just one night. The hostel we were at was funny because they smushed eight people in a room that was about the size of two sellery hall dorm rooms. They had two triple beds (incredible height—kinda terrifying) which thankfully I didn’t have to sleep on. In Mendoza we bought wine and went on a kinda long and very ambitious bike ride. It was to the top of a mountain/hill called cerro de la gloria where you could supposedly see the Andes mountains although I think they were lying. Between not sleeping the night before and the 90-something degree weather both of us were very low energy and sweaty. Ended up drinking one of our mendoza wines and I went to bed at like 10.
The next day we got on another bus to Valparaíso, Chile which as you will see later is probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The bus ride itself was really impressive because we had to cross the mountains, customs i’m pretty sure was at the top of one of them. Going down the mountain was one of the scariest things i’ve ever done though and I don’t have any pictures of it because I was actually holding on to save my life. To get down you have to go down these super curvy roads with really steep drops and also no railings. I was sitting on the top level of the bus in the way front on the right side so when we turned a corner it actually looked like we were off the road. The couple next to me was laughing at me saying that there’s nothing wrong with a little adrenaline but I was like 60% convinced that my life was going to end coming down that mountain. Arriving in Valparaíso was lovely. It’s this little port town right on the beach and built on all these hills, famous for having a Pablo Neruda house. They call it a mini San Francisco and rightfully so because there is not a single flat road. Since it’s so hilly they have all these cool way to get up an down. They have a series of little elevators (really they’re just little cable cars that go up the side of a hill) and all these little slides and pedestrian streets. It was very cool. It’s very touristy but it’s colorful and happy and peaceful and there’s tons of cats all over the place. We met a nice New Zealand couple who had been traveling together for almost a year who we went out to dinner with. My only complaint is that I got bed bugs or attacked by a family of spiders so I left that place very content and itchy. I can’t really explain the city that well, it’s better explained through images so I’ll post a bunch at the end. Coming back from Chile to Buenos Aires was a 25 hour endeavor. Quite brutal I will say. For dinner they served mashed potatoes and chicken with a slice of ham and cheese on it. Which leads me to a funny argentina observation which is that if a food will taste at all ok with ham and cheese on it, they will put ham and cheese on it. Ham and cheese is on everything, it’s really impossible to find a place that doesn’t offer ham and cheese on pretty much any item on the menu. Meats, empanadas, breads, fried anything, crepes, anything. Seriously. It’s everywhere.
Mom comes in a few days, so I’ll tell that story in the next couple of weeks.