Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Uruguay through the Eyes of My Mom!

In order to view the video you have to Click on the Link to the Left that says, "Uruguay through the Eyes of my Mom!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

From the Atlantic to the Pacific in one week

Because this past week was our spring break I kept a running journal throughout the trip so this will be a marathon of a post, hopefully it isn't too terribly tedious to read however. Also some of these entries are written in real time and others are written from the past so hopefully it isn't too awful to read. :)

Spring Break journal:

Day 1: March 15
Today we traveled to Buenos Aires from Montevideo. We arrive in BA at about 10:30, then once we found our hostel we stayed up all talking until about 1:30 and them decided we were all hungry so we went out to find some food, funny thing was, the city that never sleeps decided to take a nap when we needed some food. So we just got some food from a convenient store and took It back to the hotel. I finally went to bed at about 2 or so...we woke up the next morning in time for a free breakfast then it was time to get out in BA. Me, jarred and Jaymee went to the area around recoleta for lunch at San Juanino's. The empanadas were good yet again. It was nice being in a familiar city with familiar places to go. We met up with Marisa at the botanical gardens and then we went to this beautiful rose garden and hung out there for a while with Marisa, Daniel, Leondro and Megan. When we were sitting in the rise garden we saw these guys walking on these slack ropes so we thought we would ask them if we could try. They let us! I was terrible, I did manage to get on the rope however...then it was time for us to say our goodbyes to Marisa and head off for dinner to be able to get to the bus station on time. We ate at this pizza place called Kentucky, I had a fugazzo which I didn't know what that was, the waiter said it was one without cheese, so I got it. Turns out it was bread with onions in a pizza shape...anyhow we left to grab our bags from the hostel and meet up with the other group, once we did it was off to the bus station. 

Day 2,March 16:
The bus ride was 14 hours long and we left at 10:30pm, so we are supposed to arrive at about 12:30 P.M. or so. Lucky for me I got a seat with a whole tone of extra space, and for the majority of the trip when I was sleeping no one sat behind me so I could lean my chair all the way back without worrying too much. I also didn't have anyone in front of me either because the serving table was in front of me. We were on the top section of a double decker bus and they gave us alfajores and sprite as we were leaving and the same in the morning. They showed the movie Grown Ups, which I had never seen before at about 11, so I ended up going to sleep at around 1:30 or so. I woke up every few hours throughout the night but for the most part I slept pretty well for being on a bus. This morning I woke up at about 9:30 or so, and they turned on the movie Hachi with Richard Gere, which I had never seen before. It was really fun being able to watch movies I had never seen, they just turned on the Spanish version of Robin Hood so I decided to write this. Hopefully we will be there soon so we can check into our hostel and get everything ready for our adventures to come. 

Once we got to our hostel we settled in and washed up and then went out into the town. One of the guys we are traveling with found a free tango show to go to and so we went, even though we definitely stood out in the crowd. We walked around the town for a bit before the show checking out all the street vendors. I really love the environment of street markets here in South America. Everyone is so laid back and easy going and really eager to talk with you. 

Day 3, March 18:
Today we went paragliding!! However we had to wait until 3:30 to go so we spent the morning at a very Argentine coffee shop called Havanna's. The coffee was pretty good but I was mostly focused on paragliding. 
This is the one thing that I was most looking forward to, and my expectations were met!! It felt incredible. I honestly felt like I was 6 years old again. I laughed and laughed. It was so beautiful to be sailing with the birds over the mountains of Mendoza! Incredible!

Day 4, March 19:
We went rafting and zip lining today. I have never been before so it was pretty amazing! I was pretty nervous about rafting, mostly because the guides kept going over safety issues, but once we got on the river it wasn't really scary, just tons of fun!! First thing that happened though was that our guide almost fell off...I got even more nervous then, but everything was fine. When it was time for our picture, he decided to jump-it freaked me out even more. 

Don't worry guys none of us fell out, though we thought we were going to a few times...After rafting we thought we had about two hours before we were going to go zip lining so I bought a pretty good sized meal, once I had finished the guide came over and asked if we were ready and we said we needed a few more minutes, so he said we would go in 20 minutes, but then that twenty minutes turned into 5 somehow. We zip lined down 6 lines each one got more and more fun, however at the end of it I was feelin pretty sick. 
We got back to the hostel around 5 or so and rested for a while, then we went out to find some food. After walking around for a while two of us decided to just go get something from the grocery store and spend only like four bucks on an entire meal. It seemed like a good idea at first but the cheapest food was the nastiest-go figure! We met a ton of people in our hostel that were so amazing. I really enjoyed Mendoza and Hostal Lagares. I will definitely miss that place!

Day 6, March 20:
Today we sadly had to leave Mendoza, but we were on our way to Chile! We had no clue what our bus we booked looked like so It was quite a shock when we got there and so a 15 passenger bus that didn't have a bathroom...we were nervous but turns out it was the best bus to take. We went through customs in Chile super fast! And the road through the Andes was crazy! There were so many twists and turns that if we had been on one of the double decker busses I would be freaking out! We hung out in the hostel for a bit then went out for dinner, it was little pricey so some of us declared grocery lunches pretty much from there on out!

Day 7 March 21:
Today Jayme, Jeremy and I went to a little shopping center to explore a little in the morning before we went on a tour at 2, I luckily had half of my leftovers from last night that I got to eat for lunch and then the three of us and Eric headed for the walking tour, we got there at about 1:50, so we were thinking we were right on time, however no one showed up. We waited to the side for a little bit then right at 2 we decided to ask a policeman what the deal was. He said that a tour group does meet there but at 2, then we were really confused, apparently Chile doesn't have daylight savings time or something because it was actually 3 o'clock! All of our phones switched so for the first day and a half in Chile, we were all behind on the time...We decided to go exploring ourselves, we found some fun market places and various little shops. Then we made our way to Cerro San Martin, a big hill that was pretty cool and old looking, it took a while to walk up it but well worth it, it was beautiful! 

After that we started heading back to the hostel for a barbecue, I'm not a fan of barbecue so Jaymee and I wanted to go to this little ice cream/sandwich place but it was closing down all we could get was ice cream to go. We aren't used to dining places closing down until at least midnight and it was only 9 o'clock. Anyhow we found a cheap hotdog place and got a massive hotdog called the: completo italiano which had mayo, tomatoes and gaucomole on it. It was interesting but good combination! Then after that it was time for bed, I was so exhausted. We had walked around all day and I was ready for a nice long break.

Day 8, March 22:
Today we did some more exploring and the main interesting thing that happened was as we were walking to Plaza de Armas there was a huge crowd standing behind some yellow police tape, we watched for a bit longer and saw that there was some dude in a full bomb suit. Apparently there was a bomb threat in the middle of Santiago and we just happened to walk by it...so what did we do after that we explored the Cathedral nearby! After more exploding and listening to street musicians we headed to the supermarket to buy some food for a picnic, it cost about 2 bucks a person for a pretty decent sized meal. And we had a picnic on top of the cerro that we had explored the day before.

Day 9, March 23:
Today we decided to venture out of Santiago to Viña del Mar. We spent the day at the beach, however it was cloudy and pretty chilly. But it looked so pretty and so cool, I am now able to say that I have gone from the Atlantic to the Pacific in one week. After a few hours at the beach we grabbed some ice cream, I got this weird coconut flavor because I asked which ones didn't have milk and that was the one she pointed to...Anyhow after that it was time to head back to the bus terminal and grab some food for the bus ride home. We keep talking about the first meal we are going to eat when we get back to the states but I have been so pleased with the food here. First off I can actually get pizza because it doesn't come with cheese and it's actually cheaper that way. Also there ate chicken nuggets, and I am always happy if I can get chicken nuggets. There are a couple of things I miss back home, like free refills and free bathrooms and Taco Bueno but all in all I have been delightfully pleased by the food in this country. We are headed back to Santiago right now on a two hour bus and I'm pretty bored...

Day 10, March 24:
Today we were leaving Santiago to head back to Montevideo. However we still had until 2:30 so we were going to make the most of it. Jaymee and I woke up early and headed to La Vega, a huge fruit market. This place was CRAZY. There were tons of people wandering around buying groceries and what not. After walking around for a while we saw a lady that didn't have any customers selling berries, so we stopped and bought a box of blackberries for a buck! I haven't felt more like a local than I did at this point, we weren't in the tourist part of Santiago anymore! We were in the streets with people who have lived and grown up in Chile! After that we met back up with our whole group and went searching for food and went to the ferria. We had a relaxing time in Santiago, but I was pretty ready to get back home to Casa ACU!

P.S. I tried to post more pictures to this blog but they wouldn't work so I will try to get more uploaded for y'all.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mi fin de semana libre//My free weekend

This past weekend we had a free weekend, where Friday classes were canceled. 6 of us decided to travel to the hot springs in Salto. We wanted the trip to be as inexpensive as possible so we camped out and ate peanut butter sandwiches most of the time. Our adventure started out with a bang, we got to the bus station about 20 minutes early and were able to make sure we were ready for our journey however when it was time to board our bus, we saw that there were some people sitting in our seats. They told us we were on the wrong bus to Salto, there were three and we had chosen the wrong one, so luckily we ran off the bus and found the right bus just as the driver was about to get in, as soon as we sat down the bus started pulling out of the station. After a six hour bus drive we finally made it to our camping site, and set up our tents at 12:30 in the morning. Afterwards we were all a bit hungry considering we left at 5 and hadn't had anything but a few snacks on the bus, so we pulled out our loaf of bread, our nutella, and our peanut butter and were ready to make some sandwiches. Problem was we hadn't thought far enough ahead to pack plastic ware...so we each took a piece of bread, tore it up, and passed around the jars of peanut butter to dip it into.  It was getting pretty late so we decided to call it a night, everyone but Eric, one of the more advanced spanish speakers. Eric decided to check out the hot springs that were located on our campsite. In doing this he met a wonderful family, who invited him (and us) to come to a water park with them the next day. Now we didn't really have many plans for this trip, just to relax and enjoy our vacation, so we all decided to join the family on their journey to the water park. This was an exciting adventure, they showed us where we could buy a 2 liter bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice for only a dollar and bread that was "muy barato" (very cheap). They also got a discount at this water park and made sure that we all got it as well! 

The water park we went to was extremely laid back and relaxing. There were a couple of slides that we got to go down, but there were also so many hot spring jacuzzi type pools that we got to enjoy. The family was wonderful, even though I can speak very little spanish, I was able to somewhat communicate with them, and hopefully we will get a chance to hang out with them again in the future, because as we found out they live about an hour away from us. When we got back to our campsite late in the night, we were all kinda hungry. We had brought pasta to make but we also realized we had never actually gotten plastic ware, so we were eating pasta noodles at 2 am with our hands...

The next day we went to the zoo and really just had an easy day because we had to take a bus back to Montevideo at midnight. After the zoo, we explored the little town of Dayman (where  we were camping) which is a little outside of Salto. We ate some hotdogs and played some cards. 

While we were waiting for our bus stop we met a man who is a professor at the Catholic University in Montevideo, he was extremely nice and incredibly smart. We sang worship songs in Spanish together and he even sang a bit in Hebrew, it was a wonderful night. We also found out that three of the guys (about our age) from the family we befriended were returning to Montevideo on our same bus, so we got to visit with the family for a bit more.

We had so many wonderful adventures on this trip that it is hard to talk about everything, but all in all it was a great experience.

I will try to post some pictures a bit later, but for now Chau!