This past weekend, I went on an IFSA-sponsored trip to Cacheuta, a small touristy town about 45 minutes away from Mendoza. Despite some bad weather, the trip ended up being really fun and a great way to wrap up almost four months in Argentina.
We left Mendoza for Cacheuta around 9am. When we arrived, we quickly put our bags into the cabañas that we would be staying in for the night and left for a hike. By this time, we were running about an hour behind schedule (#classicArgentina), so it was quite hot during the trek. Nevertheless, we powered through and made it about half or 3/4 of the way through what had originally been planned. Then, the guides told us that because of the heat and the fact that we were behind schedule, we should start heading back. A few of my more adventurous classmates continued on for a bit. But I was among the people that decided to be done for the day.
Once we returned from the hike, we had a little time to unpack and then we went to lunch. Over the course of our stay, we ate at the same restaurant for all of our meals. I can’t complain, though, because they treated our group SO well and the food was delicious! For lunch on the first day, we had an empanada followed by beef stew with mashed potatoes.
After lunch, we went rafting! Having never been rafting before, I was very excited for this part of the excursion. The whole group suited up in swimsuits, life jackets, and helmets and piled into inflatable, yellow boats. Although I wouldn’t describe the Río Mendoza as “rapids” (our guide said it is classified as level 2 out of 5), I still had a good time just being on the water. At the end of the trip, we even had the option to hop in the water and float down the rapids — it was cold, but I’m glad that I did it!
Next (all still a bit cold and wet from the rapids), we took a short detour to an artisanal liqueur shop called Furrer. There, the owner presented us with some mustards and jams to sample (the raspberry and the vino Malbec jams were heavenly!). Then he brought out the big guns: flavored liqueurs. Not being much of an alcohol person, my favorite was a sweet, lavender-flavored kind. But there were also types with dulce de leche, jalapeño, cherry and many more. Towards the end of the tasting, the owner even brought out a bottle of absinthe to sample. I did not partake (two of my friends said that I would probably pass out because of how strong it is), but it was fun to watch other people struggle as the drink went down.
To end the day, we had dinner at the same restaurant. Carlos, our program director, surprised us with a wine tasting beforehand. And then we sat down to chicken stew with french fries on top (pretty much the same dish as lunch just meat and style of potatoes switched up) plus lots of bread.
We woke up around 9:30am and headed to breakfast (which was straight-up bread). Then, we suited up to go on a trek through the Río Mendoza. As we were getting ready to head out, it started to thunder and lightning. But that didn’t stop us…Although many of us wanted to stop.
The trek involved walking back and forth across the river and (at choice moments) swimming in the frigid water. We must have looked pretty ridiculous – a group of twenty or so Americans in life vests and helmets climbing across a river in a thunderstorm – because Argentines started taking pictures of us. They were probably laughing not only at how silly we looked, but also at the fact that there was a much easier way to get from our point A to point B than trek across the river. Although nobody was super happy, we all rallied and made it to the end! In my opinion, it was all worth it because we finished in a gorge with beautiful clear water just as the sun came out.
Tired and very cold from our river adventure, we were then treated to an enormous asado with various types of meat, roasted vegetables (!!), and of course lots of bread. We then finished the trip with a stint in the “aguas termales” – thermal baths that were teeming with Argentines (inside it’s kind of like a waterpark with a slide and a lazy river, as well as various hot and cold pools). My friend and I warmed up in a hot tub for about 30 minutes and then decided to head back to the cabañas.
The last exciting part of the trip happened just as we were all about to load into the vans to go back to Mendoza – a temblor (tremor)! At first the ground began to rumble as if a large truck were passing by, but then it began to shake even more. Reports said that at the epicenter the quake was a 6.4 on the richter scale. Although the prospect of a temblor or an even bigger earthquake is not something to be truly excited about, I can now check “feel tectonic plates move” off my bucket list.
Overall, it was a great trip! IFSA-Butler definitely treated us right. We packed so many activities and good food into only two days!
P.S. I took the two group photos from my program’s Facebook page because I didn’t have my phone with me most of the trip.