Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Argentina, the south of Chile, and my amazing classmates!

One more stamp in my passport, one more country that I will have to go back and explore more

On Sunday I showed up bright and early at the Santiago airport and joined-up with my classmates and got ready to depart for our "Gira de Estudio." But first we got our long awaited for poleron (hoodie that you'll see in all my pictures!) that had all our our names/nicknames on the back - I was even able to get a little maple leaf beside my name, Canadian pride all day, everyday! While waiting to check our baggage I noticed two ladies with Mountain Equipment Co-op gear... knowing its a Canadian brand and finally seeing a little Canadian puffin on a bag I stopped them and asked where they were from. They were both from Vancouver, but the one lady actually knew where Ayr was, and had been through it a couple of times! Woah small world! I'm getting in a habit of talking to random gringos here now. We flew from Santiago to Osorno (in Chile) then took a bus over into Argentina. It was a lot different than traveling to the states because we had to give papers (I had to get an exit stamp) on our way out of Chile, then stop again once in Argentina. On the way to Bariloche I started to notice the architecture styles, I was thinking Austrian or Swiss. As it turned out Bariloche has a HUGE Swiss influence, little flags and mountain dogs, and I can't forget all the chocolate shops! Once at the hotel we were able to hangout, then went for a walk in the night - it was really cold because there's a lake right there and with the wind...!

Monday we took a bus tour to see different parts of the surrounding area of Bariloche. The best was when we took a chairlift up a hill and had a magnificent view of the lakes and mountains... truly breathtaking, I couldn't stop snapping photos! After the tour we returned to the main tourist part and did some shopping, then went to a chocolate factory. At night we convinced our chaperons to go to a discotheque, we were the only ones there on a Monday night - but we made it fun!

Tuesday we went out into the country to a place called "Tom Wellsley." I don't really know how to explain it but they had games set-up, and horseback riding (really strange experience because the horses seemed to be trained on where to go and not pay attention to the rider), and then we also had competitions against a school from Argentina (I think they cheated at some... as I was told by some classmates).

Wednesday we we up early and left the hotel to travel back into Chile. It was a weird feeling but once I crossed the border I felt like I was "home" again. Similar to when I travel in the US then return home. We went to a National park with hot springs and also had lunch there. It was fun to go on the really hot water, then attempt to go into the freezing river, then back into the hot springs. After the swimming we headed to Puerto Varas. I really liked this city, it had a German influence to it, although it was VERY touristy. There was a big clear-water lake and across from the city were two active volcanoes - my first time seeing a real volcano!

Thursday we drove to Saltos Rio Petrohue where there were these waterfalls and turquoise water! We were able to take a jet-boat out closer to the falls so I did - my group had a good time humming the theme song to Titanic, and since no one knew the english words I just had to start singing! After we drove to another lake close by, I'm not sure what was extremely special about it but I think if it wasn't overcast I could tell. After we then drove to Puerto Montt for lunch and then did some shopping (Christmas shopping!) in a feria. After returning to the hotel in Puerto Varas I headed out to go exploring with the girls in my room. Then all of a sudden we got a phone call saying the guys had gotten into our room. So we ran back to find our clean room totally overturned... literally the beds were EVERYWHERE! The girls all got together for some payback but first we needed outfits. So we all headed down to the feria and bought the same hats, then put on some war paint and we were ready to go! I'm still not sure what the plan was but we ended up kidnapping two guys! After dinner we were given awards for the trip - I won Miss. Participativa and got a lovely toilet paper sash (it's so going on my Rotary jacket!). After the awards we had free time, along with some Spanish karaoke!

Friday we got up early and packed and were ready to go... except our plane got canceled! We ended up having a much later flight so we had the whole day! I went down to hangout at the beach with a bunch of my classmates, then we all headed to Frutillar (another very heavy German influence.) We then had to finally head to the airport in Puerto Montt and leave the beautiful south.

I can't truly explain how happy I am to have had the opportunity to go on the trip with my classmates. Not only were there beautiful vistas but I was able to bond and become closer with my friends and companeros! I would strongly suggest for any future exchange students to go on a trip like this if they have the chance with their classmates. Also spending 6 days of only Spanish or the option of not talking has greatly helped me. After returning back to my home I am now finding it difficult to think in english and writing for long periods is also getting difficult. I'm slowly starting the lose my grammar and am constantly forgetting english words! Although my Spanish vocabulary is still limited and speaking is the hardest I am starting to say things as they come to my mind in Spanish.

Blogger is being really weird and I can't seem to upload photos, so I'll have another post with just photos!


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