ARGENTINA

We took an extremely long flight to the first country we would visit in South America. It was multiple hours of minimal comfort, so we were relieved when we finally arrived in Buenos Aries. After taking a cab to our apartment, we stumbled up the stairs with our kind hosts. We learned that it is customary in Argentina to say hello to people with hugs and kisses. One of greatest places in Buenos Aries is its main cemetery. There are hundreds of uniquely built graves. Except they aren’t really graves. They look like stone closets three times my height, with statues and carvings and intricate glass windows. It felt like you were in a maze. There were all sorts of stories about famous people buried in the graveyard. One lady was buried alive while in a coma. Another man is said to haunt the graveyard at midnight. The First Lady of Argentina is buried there as well. Most days in Buenos Aries involved catching up on school. The rest of my family was enrolled in Spanish school, while I sat outside and did my French. Two of the days a guide from the Spanish school took us on a guided tour around Buenos Aries. The first day of the tours we were guided by Sonia, a sweet lady who educated us on the cultural aspect of Buenos Aries. The second day we were with Cecilia. She taught us about the language. With Sonia we visited one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It used to be a theatre, than a cinema, and finally a bookstore. We also took a walk through the market, where we came across a massive tree, the most beautiful I’d ever seen. The second day we walked to a park and tried a traditional Argentinian drink: Matte. It has a Smokey taste, and it’s sort of like tea. 

 

 

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A few days later we took a 17 hour bus ride to Puerto Iguzi. We walked into our apartment tired, and went for a swim in the pool that was luckily there and ready. The next day we woke up and hopped in a car. That was a half an hour drive to a train that took twenty minutes. The train took us to the Ugazu falls. The falls are the biggest in the world, and the most beautiful I will ever see. I guarantee it. We completed three jungle hikes, each taking us to different vantage points on the roaring falls. I saw more spiders in 15 minutes of any of those jungle walks than I had in my entire life. It made me very itchy. After my fear facing me, we came across some animals I can actually enjoy: Coates. They look like a cross between an anteater, a pig, and a raccoon. They are ADORABLE, and they really wanted our PBJ’s. After a long journey home, we took a dunk in the pool, and crashed. Another day we went to the Brazilian side of the falls. The cab driver took us across the border, and we entered the park. Luckily, there wasn’t as many spiders on the Brazilian side as there were on the Argentinian side. However, they were still there. After a few minutes of driving through the jungle, we arrived at a boat launch. We piled into an inflatable speed boat and sped up the river to the falls. We were so exited because we knew that the boat was actually going to drive under one of the smaller falls. We were going to get soaked. We sped in between rocks and bounced over rapids. Finally we arrived at the mini falls. The boat started driving in circles, doing rotations and driving under the falls. The water was heavy and welcome in the Brazilian heat. We were all laughing as we bounced across the rapids. After we got off the boat, soaked, we went an a few trails around the falls. With stunning views and and excess of spiders, we enjoyed the Brazilian side of the falls. 

 

 

 

The next place we visited in Argentina was El Calafate. The main reason we went there is because of its glacier. A massive structure of jagged ice that would randomly crack and crash into the water. We took a bus to this glacier, followed by a hike around the park with views of its magnificence ever present. After the hike we enjoyed a chilly boat ride along the side of the glacier where we saw massive chunks of ice both fall of the glacier and surface up from underneath it. After the boat ride we completed a second hike and finally took a bus back home. Some of the other days in El Calafate where school day, and others were spent walking along the town’s Main Street. We left El Calafate on a three hour bus journey to el Chaltèn, a mountain tow of about 1500 people. While there we completed several hikes. The first overlooked the town and revealed stunning views of the famous Fitz Roy peak. This hike took about 90 minutes. The second was a twenty kilometre trek up to the lake at the base of Fitz Roy. We trekked through valleys and woods. We passed camp sites and rivers. It took us 7 hours to get to the destination and back. The final kilometre in the journey to the destination was devastatingly steep. We were on a bare mountain face with the best winter close we could find, the snow whipping at hour faces. We would average a 13 minute kilometre, but this one took just over an hour. When we got home we crashed instantly. The third hike we did was for Finns thirteenth birthday. It was an 18 kilometre trek through a valley. This one was a bit more casual because it only elevated 250 meters, while the other long one elevated 700. However, just the distance can be tiring. We made a just over 5 hour round trip. Later that day we went out for dinner, cake, and then packed our things. The next day we jumped on a bus and sped towards El Calafate where we would fly out of two days later. During our second time in El Calafate, we did a lot of school. We were right across from a park, which turned out to look like it was a hundred years old. I tried a new thing in my French school, a live conversation over the internet with a native speaker. I also had the chance to fill out my high school course selection. 

Two days after we arrived we took a 90 minute flight to Bariloche. Bariloche has a very comfortable climate. It also happened to be a chocolate making city, so we had to go there no matter what. During our time in Bariloche there was an Iron Man race. We planned to watch it start but never did. Also in Bariloche we discovered a little chocolate shop, half the size as the ones you would see on the street, that had the best chocolate at the best price. The people in the store were very friendly and the chocolate was AMAZING. We did a few trips out of the town. One of them included a nice drive dotted with viewpoints that led to a 2 hour hike that had the best viewpoint of all. We could see the valley, cut by shimmering blue water. All around us falcons hunted, completing the scene. Another time we saw a St. Bernard dog the size of my dad.  Another day we hopped in the car we had rented and drove to a small town called el bolson. In El Bolson we visited an awesome artisan market full of different smells and things to see. I bought a few boomerangs for souvenirs for friends. The best part of El bolson is the views from the town. All around you are surrounded by rippling hills and rugged cliffs. After the market we decided to drive to a beautiful glacier lake. The shore was rocky, but I wasn’t planning on swimming in the frigid waters. However I am easily convinced, and my mom got me to take a dip. It was super cold, but I managed to ease in and dunk. For half the time in Bariloche we did school. I managed to knock off my English for the entire year, and I’m close to finishing socials. After bariloche we hopped on a plane for a long journey to salta. 

 

 

Salta is where we would be staying before a four day side trip to the salt flats, rainbow Mountain, and a little town called Talcara. In salta we did as much school as possible, but one day we went on a gondola ride that led to a beautiful view of salta. Also in salta we saw hundreds of beautiful dogs. We left salta quickly, but we new we would be back after our side trip. On our first day of driving in our rental car, leaving our monstrous packs behind in salta at our air bnb, we swerved through rugged mountainside, surrounded by jungle. Animals like cows, horses and chickens dotted the road. However the jungle morphed to dry desert in mere hours, rendering us confused at how long we’d been driving. We were headed to a town called, well I never found out it’s name. We were going there because it was home to the Seven Coloured Mountain. It was a dusty, quiet cowboy town, like the ones you see in the movies. There were markets, little restaurants, and the population was 70% tourists. We managed to spot a 10 minute hike which granted us stunning views of the vast desert valley, and to the right, the Seven Coloured Mountain. Atop the peak of the simple hike we met an English woman with a German man. They too were heading to the salt flats that day. We didn’t spend too long in the little town, we left after stopping for quick fresh empanadas. We piled into the car and set off for the salt flats. On the way we reached 4130 metres above sea level, so headaches were present. It took a few hours, and we ran into the German-British couple on the way. What we didn’t know about the salt flats is how bright it was. The sun reflects of the flat packed slat. Since our eyes were on fire, we didn’t stay for more than 30 mins. However, we did get some touristy pics. The slat flats strip away all perspective, so a toy dinosaur can look huge at the right angle. Check the pictures out on Instagram. After the slat flats we circled back and headed to the little town called Talcara where we stayed in a little cottage run by a nice lady and her husband. We decided to stay in Talcara for 2 nights, and the second morning we hung around the town and explored. Talcara is very much like the town below the seven coloured mountain, only bigger. It does have a lot of tourists as well. Later that day we headed to the famous 14 Coloured mountain. It was a long drive and we went even higher than 4130 meters. Headaches were again, present. The 14 coloured mountain isn’t really as vibrant as you might think. It’s more faded. A rugged mountainside miles away that looks like someone painted on it. It’s so magical how the colours just faded into each other. The world was as silent as I’d ever seen it, the only noise the rippling wind. The scale of the 14 coloured mountain was incredibly greater than that of the 7 coloured mountain. Due to the altitude, we couldn’t stay up there long. We were provided with cocoa leaves, a remedy for altitude sickness, by our cabin host. We left the 14 coloured mountain feeling luckier than we’ve ever felt in our entire lives. When we returned to Talcara for night 2, we went out for an Italian meal that turned out to be too delicious to be true.   The next leg of the side trip brought us to Cafeyete, a small wine town that happened to be very high on my moms list for one reason: the drive that takes you out of cafeyete is other worldly. However, the drive to cafeyete was so incredibly beautiful I didn’t think it could get any better. The drive included bright orange mountains under a blanket of lush jungle. We arrived in Cafeyete and headed to our hostel. Later that night we went out to explore the town and have dinner. My brother and I shared a pizza, my sister had pasta, and my mother and father shared a salad. When we got back to the hostel we quieted down and my parents went out for some wine. The next day was one of the less impressive days on this trip. My dad woke up really sick, a stomach bug. We were planning on going out and having fun but he couldn’t get out of bed. Other than meals, we hardly left the hostel’s compound. We spent most of the day inside watching tv and drawing. The upside of this lazy day is that it’s really easy to blog. The next morning rode on dad. If he was better, we would take that otherworldly drive, which was apparently very bumpy. If not we would drive back to salta still, but we would take the smooth rode we came on (still gorgeous). Dad wasn’t better until halfway back to salta the first way we came, after mom had popped him some antibiotics. In salta we would be staying in the same place for two nights before heading to Bolivia. We also did school here, and not much else except book a 5:30 am bus ticket. When the day of the epic country-crossing journey came, I was no where near ready to wake up at 4. And yet, I did. We slogged our bags down the empty, quiet streets, alone except for a few taxis. We approached one, shrugged, and piled in without second thoughts. Twice as good as walking to the bus, right? The bus ended up being a little late, so I could’ve slept for another solid 45 minutes but oh well. As we climbed on the bus we knew it would be a long, long day. We arrived at the Bolivian border at 1:30 pm, sad to leave what might have been our favourite country. From it’s animals, to it’s food, to it’s amazing tourist destinations, Argentina is truly magical.

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