From the Jungle to the Lake Country and all the craziness of City Life in between

So when I last left you, I was still reeling from the newness of it all and trying not to get run over by taxis, but now, over a month in to my time here in Argentina, I’m finally starting to feel comfortable and almost at home in this crazy place. The past couple of weeks have been a blur, so chronologically here’s what happened:

My one-month intensive spanish language course came and went in a flurry of vocab and grammatical tenses, but it was a wonderfully helpful experience. My spanish abilities have grown exponentially since I came here, and for that I have my amazing professor, Carolina, to thank. I finally feel like I have a substantial grasp on the bigger picture of the language and its structure and I find myself reading advertisements and actually comprehending the specifics of the grammar and not just having a vague idea of what there saying based on verb roots. Not to mention the fact that I am now capable of communicating the idea of “I would have blah blah blah, had it not been for blah blah blah” or even “If things should blah blah blah next week, then I will blah blah blah” or other such odd time frames.

On Friday the 19th after class I headed over to the Retiro bus station and met up with the other students in the program for a 15 hour or so bus ride north to Missiones, near the borders with Paraguay and Brazil. We were headed for an amazing weekend at Iguazú Falls, the pictures of which are posted in the last entry. And those pictures don’t even begin to do the magnificence of the falls justice. It was one of those moments where you behold nature in all it’s grandeur and all you can say is “whoa”. We even got to take a speed boat down under the falls which was literally a breath-taking moment. It was something like being wiped-out above water, but with the same “oh my god I can’t breath” sensation. Spending a couple of days running around the jungle was pretty fun too.

So we got back Monday morning at about 8:30am, I ran back to my apartment to shower and change and then to class for the beginning of our final week of classes. Unfortunately I ended up missing more of that week than any other with an internship interview on tuesday and a consult with my academic adviser to choose classes for the semester. The interview went amazingly well. It was for an internship with an organization called Responde, which works with small rural communities on the brink of depopulation due to urban migration and provides the resources for development projects. The whole interview was in spanish which I was pretty nervous about at first, but apparently it went well because the offered me the position. I’ll be working in the downtown office most weeks but I’ll also have the opportunity to go out to the pueblos and work on the projects with them too.

Our last day of class was the 26th of February and we celebrated our surprisingly good overall grades with mountains of medialunas and dulce de leche (the quintessential argentine breakfast treat). Later that same Friday I headed back over to the Retiro station to hop on another bus, this time to the town of Bariloche in the north of Patagonia. The ride was over 21 hours, but it went by remarkably fast and there was so much beautiful scenery along the way.

Bariloche is a great town, even though it’s been thoroughly tourist-ized. The beauty of the place is just beyond belief, with huge, pristine blue lakes one after the other, separated by lush green forest and framed by the snow-capped foothills of the Andes. We had a week off for vacation, so we had a grand time going on ferry boat tours and white water rafting and hiking and eating, of course, since chocolate and ice cream are specialties of the region. My favorite part was definitely the rafting, though. We took a minivan to this quiet little farm where they had converted a barn into a storage shed for the rafting gear and had some máte and medialunas for breakfast before suiting up in wetsuits, life vests, and helments (definitely not one of my better looks). Going over the rapids was incredibly fun and between the action of paddling and the beautiful river scenery, it was a rush to take it all in. During a slow part in the river our guide let us jump out of the boat and swim for a bit, just bobbing down the crystal clear water, passing miniature waterfalls where streams fed into the river. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Thursday we headed over to the neighboring town of El Bolson for a bit to check out the artisan fair there. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the hippie scene of the sixties, wonder no longer for it has simply relocated down south in El Bolson. Dreds and groovy threads were abound in this small mountain town, which made for a great selection of arts and crafts. Later that afternoon we were back on a bus back to Buenos Aires, refreshed.

here’s the link to the pictures, until i can post them properly:

http://s734.photobucket.com/albums/ww343/claradelic/Patagonia/

To be continued…

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