Las Cataracas del Iguazú

Hola a todos! I have a fun post for everyone and can’t wait to share my weekend exploring the amazing waterfalls of Iguazú! If you want to know more details…here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iguaz%C3%BA_Falls

Ok, so last Friday morning, we got up very early to get to the Buenos Aires airport. We met our CEA group at the terminal, and our favorite leader, Nahuel, gave us our tickets and herded us through security and to the plane. I love CEA trips because everything is organized and arranged…and sometimes that is a lot nicer than having to worry about where to go and what to do. So, this weekend, we were the sheep that simply had to follow the leader. It was a short plane ride, not quite two hours, and once we landed we were directly transported to our hotels to get settled…but not for too long! Because that afternoon, we went to a little village where the indigenous people, the Guaraní, live. We had an adorable guide show us a typical home for one Guaraní to live and also their amazing traps they have created to capture deer and boar.

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After a day of hiking through the woods and learning about the Guaraní lifestyle and being serenaded by a group of women and children, we went back to the hotel to relax before dinner. I have to say, that staying in the hotel was Amazing. I roomed with Tajel and we both got our OWN queen size bed! Both of us looked in the bathroom and noticed that the bathroom was about the size of our room in Buenos Aires. It was Definitely a treat to stay in.

The program came with dinners, so that night we got an awesome buffet dinner with Lots and Lots of veggies! We have been missing vegetables in our diet quite a bit…so we got a little crazy. But it was Oh so yummy!!

The next day: Again, we had an early morning because we were off to the actual waterfalls of Iguazú…which in the native language literally means “Big Waters.” We hiked through the jungle, took a little train ride to different hiking trails, and saw the most BEAUTIFUL sites I have ever seen in my life. This is nature’s TRUE beauty. These falls were actually announced as a part of the New 7 Wonders of the Natural World. Twisting pathways, bridges across miles of water, and climbing hills that overlook the entire falls…it was unbelievable. There are also 700 different species of butterflies there…which were quite friendly. Pictures cannot do it justice, but here are a few that will take your breath away.

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At the end of the day, our whole group decided to do a little something special…we went on a boat that went Into the falls…or as close as we could safely get.

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By the end of it, we were absolutely SOAKED. But it was SO fun and definitely worth it. We actually got to go Into a waterfall! And we had rainbows following us the whole way. It really felt like a dream, it was so amazing. Afterwards though, we were completely exhausted. We all looked a little sad in our dripping clothes, dirty hair, and no energy faces. We walked back to the bus, stopped at one more place where we could see Paraguay and Brasil across the river and then went straight back to the hotel. We showered, napped, ate dinner, watched “Clueless,” and went back to bed. I don’t think I could’ve handled anything more than that. But what a memorable day!

The next day was also a fun, but much more relaxed day. We had to get up early Again…but then took a two hour bus ride to this small ranch in the middle of the forest. We rode horses, took wagon rides, went fishing, or for some people, simply sat by the pool all day. We were also fed an Amazing asado lunch, which is basically Lots of grilled meat. SO yummy!

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After our afternoon on the ranch, we went back to the airport and flew back to our home in Buenos Aires. This weekend was a GREAT break from the city. We have been so accustomed to the rush and bustle of the city, that to be in nature for a few days was Wonderful. It was so peaceful out there and it truly was one of the most beautiful places in the world. A fairytale land. We got to see a new part of this amazing country I am falling in love with. Flying back into the city was also special, because it felt a little like coming home. I know I’ve only been here for 3 months, but Buenos Aires will always have a special place in my heart. I am such a lucky girl! Chau for now!

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Carmen

“Love is a wild bird that no one can tame. It is useless to chase it if it won’t play the game.”
 
Last night, the roomies and I had an evening of Opera. But before I discuss the evening, I have to share our adventure of buying the tickets first. Last weekend, we took the underground train, called the Subte, downtown. We knew the famous theatre was called Teatro Colon, and it is in a very famous plaza. And the theatre itself is quite famous. It is one of the best in the world and is known for having perfect acoustics. The building is beautiful, but so are ALL the buildings around it. 
 
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This photo is off Plaza Tribunales…and yes, I stole it off the internet. But the building you see is NOT Teatro Colon…and you will soon learn why this is important.
 
So, we arrived at the Plaza and looked around for an amazing, old building. The first one we saw, for some reason, we had already previously been told was Teatro Colon, and so we just went straight up the stairs without evening thinking about it. It had big columns, looked impressive. It had to be a theatre, right? Wrong. We walked in and there were metal detectors and guards standing at the door. But even THIS didn’t make us realize we were in the WRONG building. So instead of using common sense, I went up to the nearest guard and said, “Donde esta la boleteria?” Which means, “Where is the ticket office?” Confused, the man asked me what I meant. And then I continued by asking, “Where can I buy tickets for the opera?” Chuckling, the man gently lead us out the door and said we were in the wrong building…that we wanted Teatro Colon, which was across the street. He pointed to it and said that we were in the Tribunales building. Which is the courthouse and government official building. No wonder they didn’t have a ticket office. So, that was our stupid American moment of the day. Not our finest moment.
 
BUT, it was all worth it, or as they say here “Vale la pena!” (Worth the pain!) because we got to go see an amazing Opera in an amazing theatre for only 40 pesos! Which is about 5 or 6 dollars. However, we bought the tickets for the standing section, which is why the price was so cheap. So the seats where a bit uncomfortable, since we didn’t have any, but the show was fantastic! HUGE cast, great music, and lots of costumes. The opera itself is pretty sad, and little dull with its love triangle and love themes, but we had a great time. Here is a quick look at our evening:
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Outside the theatre on our way to the Opera!
 
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Snuck into the fancy part to take pictures…all dressed up for the show!
 
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It really was beautiful.
 
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I even got to practice my Spanish reading skills! And I understood almost everything!

Uruguay and Regina Spektor

What does Uruguay have to do with a Regina Spektor concert? Nothing. Except, that I did both these things last weekend!

But before I tell you about those activities. Let me update you on life in general. I haven’t posted a blog recently, to be honest, because there has been very little for me to say. Last last weekend was Easter break for us here. We had 6 days to do nothing…and that is exactly what we did. Most people in our group traveled to amazing places in Argentina, like Bariloche, but the roomies and I decided to save our money and enjoy life in Buenos Aires during a quiet weekend. However, we didn’t realize HOW quiet it would be. Everything was closed and many people left the city to visit family elsewhere. So there wasn’t much to do. We did discover a unique Peruvian restaurant that served raw shark and cinnamon pisco sours. Sarah ate cow stomach without knowing it. It was gross. But as our saying goes, “Just order it.” It always is a surprise, which can be fun, but in this case was quite disgusting. Other than that, our weekend consisted of movies, sleeping, and more movies. It was a Great lazy weekend! For anyone looking for movie recommendations, I’ve seen almost every movie on this list and I would highly recommend these movies…Enjoy!

http://www.highexistence.com/25-spectacular-movies-you-probably-havent-seen/

The week goes by slowly, going to school in the afternoons and coming home and doing hw, reading, or watching more movies (Hey, its the college life!) On the weekends we always try to go out and explore parts of the city we haven’t seen yet. Last weekend we found a park that holds a HUGE garage sale/market in it. I got a shirt(seen in the Uruguay pictures below) for 10 pesos! That’s less than 2 dollars. I also found a great ring and sunglasses each for under 2 or 3 dollars. My classes are going well. Nothing too difficult, but still intense because they are in Spanish. So I might not have a lot of outside work, but just sitting in class and focusing is twice as hard, which is exhausting. I’m really enjoying my Latin American film class, but the movies we are watching are VERY intense. They would definitely Never be allowed in my Catholic University in San Diego. But the teacher is very intelligent and expects a lot from us when analyzing the movies, which I enjoy.

Last weekend was fun because on Friday we went with our organization, CEA, to Colonia, Uruguay. I really didn’t know what to expect…but I knew it was a small, old town. We took about an hour long ferry ride across Rio del Plata and were shuffled into a bus for a small tour of the city. The land was beautiful and very green. The water of the river almost surrounded the small town…but it was not the beautiful ocean water I was imagining. It was completely brown. It looked like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.

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However, the city was beautiful. It felt like a sleepy beach town, but made with old brick buildings and cobblestone streets. There was really not much to do there, so we mostly spent the day walking and enjoying eachother’s company. CEA arranged a lunch for us, which was very disappointing unfortunately. The meal was not great and the service took two HOURS to serve us. But the day ended well with us laying in the grass, laughing, and playing cards. It was a calm day, which I appreciated.

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On the river beach. From left: Taylor, me, Sam, and Tajel.

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The cobblestone streets and old cars of Colonia.

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Trying to be retro…

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Our band photo. From left: Tajel, me, Sarah, Taylor.

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A beautiful sunset after a quiet day in Colonia.

Friday ended quietly as we arrived back in Buenos Aires not until 10:30pm. The roomies and I grabbed some Pad Thai at a busy Thai restaurant, which was something we had been craving for awhile. SO good!

Saturday started off slow, but then in the afternoon Sarah and I had an adventure to go on for our Art History class. We went to a Art Museum to take notes and write about specific pieces. However, we had already been to this museum, and the second story was closed off, so there wasn’t much we hadn’t already seen. However, saturday night was full of excitement! Sam and I had discovered that we were both huge Regina Spektor fans when we met, and lo’ and behold, Regina was coming to Buenos Aires in April!! We jumped on the opportunity and were able to get fairly cheap tickets. So, last Saturday, we grabbed a bite to eat then headed over to the concert venue, which luckily was not far away. We walked into this large open space, with a HUGE stage and lights all along it. There were stadium seats on either sides and several seated rows in front of the stage. We had purchased the cheapest tickets so our “seats” was basically just the large grassy(but now muddy after the rains) area behind the center seats where a large crowd was gathered. Now remember, I am 5’2’…Sam is 5’3″…this was not the best place to be for two small girls. We tried to squeeze our way to the front of the crowd, but they were not having it. So, we ended up standing far enough in the back that the stage was just visible over peoples’ heads. We also found some blocks and plastic tiles that we piled together and stood on. Luckily, there were large screens above the stage that we could easily see too. Also remember, we are in Argentina, so we got there right on time….at 9:30…and then waited, and waited. FINALLY, Regina quietly walked on stage about 10:30. Everyone was cheering and she was just so cute waving and in her child-like voice saying “Hola” y “Gracias” to the crowd of maybe 300 or more people. She didn’t waste any time and sat down at her piano, with her drums and cello accompaniment and went into one of my favorite songs, “On the Radio.” She played lots of my favorites from her old albums, and several new ones I had not heard. She was BRILLIANT. Every song was unique and sounded EXACTLY like they do on her albums. I can’t explain how GOOD she really is. Her voice is so unique and she has such an amazing talent and range of sounds she can do. She ended with my favorite song, “Samson,” and was just so cute. It was definitely a night I will always remember. There was even a girl crying next to me…which I don’t know if she was crying because she was alone or because the music really touched her. I hope it was the latter.

Nothing really else to report, except that this week is our official half-way point of the trip! It feels like I have been here for SO long, so I’m excited that I still have this amount of time left, but I feel like this second part is going to go by quickly. Now that we are getting into more of a routine of school, home, and weekends, I’m afraid time will slip by. But I am trying to appreciate Every day here and live my life to the fullest! But sometimes, snuggling up in my bed and watching a movie can be good too. 🙂 xoxo