Just Over 3 Weeks Left! And a Trip to Mendoza, Argentina
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, so I apologize for the delay. Things have gotten pretty busy here around Buenos Aires. Though I’ve been studying the entire semester since I arrived, these last few weeks are when pretty much all the work piles on.
The liberal arts studies in Argentina are just like Americans when it comes to work: all of it located at the middle and end points of the semester, rather than being evenly spread out. In fact, I’ve got a ten page essay due tomorrow.
I haven’t been terribly active in terms of tourism or cultural events lately because of the workload, but I do have two recent events to relate to you all. The first was my weekend trip to Mendoza, Argentina. This was the first trip I’ve taken this semester that was relatively unplanned; my friends Malia, Dan and I bought our tickets the day before and then hopped on the bus. But, some of the best weekends and experiences are those which are spontaneous.
Mendoza is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Argentina, with a population of about 800,000 total, located in the far west of Argentina, with the Andes Mountains in sight. It is known for its abundance of open space, great parks, access to hiking, mountain climbing
and more, and above all else, its wine. We arrived on a Saturday morning in Mendoza, and the first thing we did after checking into the hostel was figure out the wine and bike tours. Mendoza is known for having an abundance of wineries (bodegas) and tourism offers . So, we flagged down a taxi and took a ride 20 minutes south to the town of Maipu, where the majority of bodegas are. There we rented out bikes and received maps and promotion deals, and headed off into the Argentine sun.
The afternoon was amazing. We went to two bodegas, a beer garden, and chocolate and liqueurs factory. For as little as 5$, we were able to tour an amazing bodega and try 2 of its Malbecs, 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, and one dessert wine. For me, this was a great opportunity because I knew pretty much nothing about wine or how it is made and
preserved, so it was quite enlightening. Furthermore, we went to an amazing place called Historia y Sabores that made its own liqueurs and jams, and also chocolate and absinthe. We were able to try whatever we liked, and it was all fantastic.
All in all, we rode over 20 miles in the afternoon, largely as a result of getting way lost on our way back to the bike rental shop. By the end of the day, we were too tired to do anything but collapse onto our beds and sleep for a good 12 hours. The next day was devoted to exploration of the city, visiting artisan fairs, hanging out with some people in the parks, and taking in the sun. Though the trip was only a day and a half long, we definitely got our money’s worth.
My second experience is the work that I have been doing with an NGO down here in Buenos Aires. The organization is called CEPNA, and it was founded by a woman named Rosalia, an indigenous woman of Argentina who moved from the poor Northwestern
province of Jujuy down to Buenos Aires. Here she helps those who have also made the difficult move South and helps them as they adjust to the huge city life and differences as they make make an effort to hang on to their indigenous roots and culture in a largely indifferent and white-dominated society.
Working at CEPNA I have gotten the chance to teach English, learn more about Indigenous and Argentine history, and show the people a little bit more about American culture. It has been an amazing experience from which I have learned a lot, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to work in areas like this in the future.
So, that is a bit of a recap of what’s been going in my life abroad over the past couple of weeks…it’s unbelievable to think that there are only 3 weeks left down here! Next Tuesday I head to the Boca-River Superclasico, about which I will definitely blog. Then a trip down south to see the glaciers for four days, Colonia again for Thanksgiving, one more week in Buenos Aires and I’m home! Time to make that final list of things to do before leaving and check them off one by one!