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Last weeks in Argentina and the return to Virginia

Well, this is going to be my final blog, and there is so much that happened the last few weeks of my time in Argentina that it is going to be hard to cover everything, but I’ll do my best.  So, I finally got back from Iguazú Falls and it was crunch time for my classes.  I had already taken the final exam for my Sociedad y Estado class, but I still had finals, papers, and presentations for my remaining three courses.  I also had a trip to Santiago de Chile to plan, plus I had to make sure I really enjoyed my last few weeks in Argentina, so it was about to be a real challenge to balance everything that I had to do.

I managed to get everything done, even if some of it was last minute, but there was one major hitch in my plans.  Several weeks before finals week in UCA, I asked my professors when the exams were going to be, and they told me the 1st and 11th of July.  Well, my flight home was scheduled for the 9th, so that meant I would have to take the exam on the 1st.  That would be perfect because I wanted at least a weeklong window to plan my trip to Chile.  Unfortunately, either my professor was wrong or the dates were changed because about two weeks before the date of the exam, and the day that I was planning on booking the micro and hostels to Chile, UCA sent an email with exam dates, mine being the 4th and 11th.  First of all, who has an exam on the 4th of July?  What a joke.  Second, and most importantly, my trip to Chile was going to have to be canceled.  I was absolutely devastated.  And finally, my professors still hadn’t let us know whether the exam was going to be written or oral.  In the end, I ended up going into the exam on the 4th still not completely sure of whether I would be taking a written or an oral final, the exam wasn’t clearly explained at all, so I hadn’t studied properly, and it just solidified my view of the argentine university system.  A quilombo (complete mess).  Oh well, after that was finally all over, I wrote my final paper for my class at Di Tella, and I was free from school at last!

Now, what did I do my last few days in Argentina?  Well, I decided that it would be a great idea to spend some of the money that I would have been spending on my trip to Chile on meals in Buenos Aires.  So, the last week of my time in Buenos Aires, I ate like a king.  I tried a huge variety of places, from argentine parrillas to Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Peruvian food.  The food was incredible.  At the Peruvian place we found, La Conga, in fairly unsafe Barrio Once, we ate some incredible food for really cheap.  My friend and I split a 1.5L of coke zero and then we each ordered an entree.  Once was a mountain of peruvian rice called chaufa, filled with beef, chicken, egg, and vegetables, served with two incredible dipping sauces.  Then we also got some sort of marinated steak that was cut into pieces and piled high with peppers, onions, french fries, and served with rice on the side.  It was impossible to finish all the food, even though we showed up really hungry, and the bill came out to be $64 PESOS. That’s roughly US$16 for amazing food, for two people.  We went back later that week.

As for being in Buenos Aires the last week, I was so glad that my trip to Chile was canceled.  As it is, I feel like I didn’t have enough time in the city to really say goodbye.  I was able to go to some of my favorite bars and clubs, said bye to some of my good friends, and spend time with the people who had really changed my life.  The last week, my life basically consisted of waking up, eating, doing any work I had left, going out to eat again, and then going out for the night.  It was an incredible last week, and I wouldn’t change it for anything… except once again, what happened with my flight.  But I’ll get to that in a second.

It turned out that my host parents’ only chance to get to see their family in Puerto Madryn was to leave Buenos Aires on a bus (since their flights had been canceled for a month) a week before I left the country.  The goodbye with them was so sad, and it was so hard to believe that my parents for the past 5 months were leaving, and that I probably wouldn’t be seeing them again for years.  It was hard to take, but I guess it released some of the pressure on me when I had to say my final goodbye to the people I had to leave when on my way to the airport.  So, in the end, I was left with Sebastián for the last week, and everything ended up working out all right :)

So, Saturday July 9th, el día de la independencia argentina, I showed up to Ezeiza International airport at 8:00 for my 10:30 flight, went to check in, and was told that there was a group of little girls that took my seat on the flight, my seat that had been reserved about 7 months prior.  After about an hour and a half of arguing, pleading, and just waiting for what seemed like nothing, I was sent to a hotel in a remis to wait for a flight he next night that I was promised I would be on.  Aside from the hotel and remis, I was also given compensation for LAN giving away the seat that I had reserved over half a year ago.  Well, the first night wasn’t so bad, I was able to see my friend off on his flight, but then came the thing that had been a plague to my semester in Argentina.  CENIZA.  Apparently, a cloud of ceniza had moved over the airport, and all flights were canceled, once again.  So, we were sent back to the hotel and were told that we would be called the next day with information about a new flight.  Well, turns out that we never got the call, and a flight left at 1:45pm.  We were told then that we wouldn’t get on a flight until the next, THIRD, day.  Luckily, one of the supervisors who had dealt with us the very first day was able to get us onto a plane… to Santiago.  So, after much stress, confusion, and frustration, at least we were out of Buenos Aires.  Although it wasn’t exactly the greatest taste left in my mouth, the good thing is that it made it much easier to leave the place that I had called home for the past 5 months.  A flight to Santiago, one to Miami, and then one to DC finally got me home, and ended my nearly 24-hour travel time along with my semester abroad in Buenos Aires.  I was glad to be home, but wasn’t really sure how to feel about the whole situation.

So, being back in the States has been interesting.  I had some trouble at first using words in English.  Especially ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ which were so easily said ‘permiso’ y ‘gracias’ every single say in Buenos Aires.  But it was so great to finally see my family and my best friends :)  But now that I’ve been back for a few days, I’d love to go back.  There’s nothing like Buenos Aires, and Stafford, Virginia just doesn’t compare.  I’m going to miss going out to a cafe for a cold Quilmes at 2am for a chill night, going to get a coffee at any time of the day or night, or going to a boliche until it’s light outside again.  The culture of Argentina was incredible, and I wish I could bring some of that here.  I miss my friends and the life I had there so much.  It’s great to be back, the food here is definitely something I missed, and as I already said, my friends and family, but Argentina was just so fun.  It’s an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and something that I will NEVER forget as long as I live.  I miss you Argentina, and I CAN’T WAIT to go back!  Chau for now…

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