la Tierra del Vino

So it’s been a while, and sorry for the delay, but such is the busy nature of study abroad I guess. Anyways, a couple weeks ago I had the chance to travel to Mendoza, Argentina’s most famous wine producing region. And it was everything and more that such a reputation would suggest. The landscape was stunning, the wine delicious (and not to mention incredibly affordable) and it was all in all a wonderful respite from the big city. As the photo album here would suggest, it was an amateur photog’s dream come true:

The photos are a little out of order, but the gist of the trip was a day spent touring some vineyards (bodegas) and a day spent on a “High Mountain” tour, which included viewings of Aconcagua, the highest peak in Latin America. I definitely had a sound of music moment standing up in the Andes, the wind rushing around me and breathing clean air for the first time in weeks. We also got to taste some andean snow melt water right out of a stream (the guide assured us it was clean enough to drink, and so far so good).
And the wine, oh the wine! One of the vineyards we visited was an organic bodega and we got to try malbec grapes right off the vine. Also, not sure if anyone else is aware of this, but there’s a white wine varietal specific to South America called Torrontes, and it’s absolutely deliciously sweet. We visited one boutique “vinoteca” (winery) where we sampled all 9 of their wines for only 15 pesos (less than $5 USD) and their most expensive bottle only cost about $15 USD, and yet this wine was amazing and wasn’t even available for export or purchase in any store or restaurant, only right there in Mendoza. But aside from simply learning the proper way to hold a wine glass or the words for fermentation in spanish, I had a wonderfully relaxing and refreshing weekend.
Since then I’ve been up to the usual shenanigans, with the exception of midterm season that is. Strangely enough (or maybe not so much, depending on how you view the academic aspects of “studying” abroad), I seem to have lost nearly any and all of my Berkeley study habits. Alas, it has been quite inconvenient, but I have managed. Our parciales, or midterms, are largely short-answer and essay formatted tests on the general themes covered in the course, so as straight forward as one could hope. It’s been interesting to note how even though my conversational spanish skills have improved tenfold, my academic writing skills have remained largely stagnant. I’m still at the point of translating my thoughts from english to spanish and then writing that down only to find that it no longer sounds as clear as I’d intended, but hopefully I’ll make some progress before the semester is through.
In other news, I turned 21! Talk about an anti-climactic coming of age birthday, considering the legal drinking age here is 18 and even that is a pretty negotiable limit. But I enjoyed the american tradition of drinking a bit more than I should have, only in argentine fashion with the drink of choice being some good Malbec and the setting an asado (bbq).
So now, a little bit older and a little bit wiser (one would hope) I continue into my second half of study abroad…more pictures to come!

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