Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mendoza, Iguazu, and Colonia

A lot has happened since I wrote. In this time Aunt Gloria, Uncle Chris, and I went to the wine country in Mendoza, Iguazu waterfalls, and the small Uruguayan town of Colonia. And now, I am writing to you from the small polo resort just outside of B.A. where my study abroad program is having its orientation. Orientation has been a lot of presentations about expectations and culture-shock, but since I've been here for a while, I'm ready to get on with it. I've met, and mostly know the names of the 11 other people in my program. They seem nice. About half are from small liberal arts schools. They are also mostly from the coasts. To the East...Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Florida. To the West...Washington and California. One girl is from Minnesota, but I am the only person holding down the mid-west...I'll do it proud, I hope! I find out about my host family tomorrow and move in Friday.

So, back to my travel log...two weeks ago today I was getting ready to go to the wine country in Mendoza. Mendoza is in the west of Argentina, very near the Andes. It's dryer climate was a pleasant break from the humidity of Buenos Aires. We went on an all-day wine tour of four wineries. That day we tasted a lot wine, especially Malbec, the dark red wine the region is known for. A part from the wine, a highlight of the tour was realizing that a guy on the tour was a physicist who worked with the atom smasher. The next day went on a tour of the Andes and on top of mountain 4,000 meters above sea-level, I got to put a toe in Chile.

Back in Buenos Aires we went to some crafts fairs, met up with a friend of Laura's, and went to the Evita museum. A week ago right now we were on out way to the water falls in Iguazu. Iguazu is at the north of Argentina, right on the Brazilian border. We took an overnight 17-hour bus to get there and back...and I'm not sure I will ever quite be forgiven for putting my aunt and uncle through. Our first day at the falls it rained all day, but we still took the boat tour that took us right up to the roar and mist of the falls. The next day was gorgeous, we walked the trails and saw tons of butterflies. I had 3 butterflies land on stayed on my hand until I passed it off to another person.

We got back from Iguazu this past Friday and that night we went to a tango show with live music. Saturday we went to Colonia, Uruguay by a high-speed ferry. The town was originally established by the Portuguese in the late 1600s and from the on was fought over by many countries. It has been declared a World Herritage site and has been beautifully restored. Kind of like New Orleans, the town has architectural reminders of its diverse pasti...there are streets paved in the Portuguese way and streets paved in the Spanish way. Aunt Gloria, Uncle Chris and I enjoyed trying "clerico" with out lunch. Clerico is a wine and fruit drink similar to sangria, except that it is made with white wine.

The last two days of Uncle Chris and Aunt Gloria's stay we did just a little more around town. We went to a street called "El Caminito" in the La Boca neighborhood. The street is known for its colorful houses and is usually on the cover of any Buenos Aires guide book. Monday, as Aunt Gloria, Uncle Chris and I were walking back to the apartment, we had to stop because of a motorcade and cops blocking the side walk. I was wondering who it could be when Hillary Clinton, wearing a peacock-blue pant suit, got out of a black Cadillac and walked into her hotel.

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