If I wrote an entire vacation blog with all the details you guys would be bored out of your MINDS! But let me assure you it was a fantastic vacation! I am back in the sauna that is Paraguay with enough oomph and get-up-and-go in my gas tank to get me through the last few months of service (THREE!).
We were in Buenos Aires Dec 17-19 and then Dec 30-Jan 3. Marisa had to take her GREs one of those days, but it was all play for me. We stayed with my good friend Rowdy from Texas A&M the first part and then with our super chill host, Braian, in a beautiful neighborhood walking distance from the obelisk and Congress.
Every time I go to BA I really, really, really WANT to love it, but come away feeling like it is just a more expensive stay in Asunción. Maybe because the food is so familiar and it’s so culturally similar to Asunción that it doesn’t really feel like vacation. Anyways, here are some key words to describe my time there in a more efficient way:
Rowdy. Cafés. Wifi everywhere for free. Parks and green spaces in a concrete city. People love dogs again. Dog clothing shops in Palermo neighborhood (MIND BLOWN). Tiny, skinny little (sometimes anorexic) people. Parachute pants are still a thing. Style (I want it in my life again). Seat belts in taxis. Pastries, be still my beating heart! The smell of weed EVERYWHERE. Seriously, everyone and their well-dressed dog was smoking. House wine is more affordable than water at restaurants sometimes. A massage. Eating cherries in the botanical garden. Don Julio’s & La Escondida were excellent parrillas. NYE dance parties in the streets. Sadly, inflation problems this time around gave BA a more “desperate” feel to it than the last time I was there back in October 2011.
From BA we flew to Punta Arenas and I met up with my cousin Jeff who was in Porvenir as an ESL teacher for the semester.
Punta Arenas: Not one single cat call (VERY IMPRESSED). When we looked like sad, lost tourists people offered to help with directions. Microbrews. Seafood baked in white wine and cheese. Free amaretto shots from the bartender. Dinosaur themed playgrounds. Penguins. Cueca. Two best places in town to eat: La Luna & La Marmita. Marisa and I both burned ourselves when we didn’t expect hot water to come out of the sinks. First world adjustment is going to be interesting in a couple months. Colectivos do not = buses, they are shared taxis with a fixed route and price, kind of like a smaller bus. Chile was expensive. My bank account is pretty sad. Worth it.
Then, we met up with PCV friends Jeff & Carly in Puerto Natales before heading out to Torres del Paine the next day for the 5 day trek. We stayed in the refuges but packed in our sleeping bags, breakfast and lunch for 5 days. My guess is with water and food and sleeping bags we were each carrying 20-25 lbs, but it got lighter as we ate our way through the park! Having a hot dinner at the refuges at the end of the day that we didn’t have to worry about was a real treat and Christmas dinner was fantastic (one bottle of wine PER PERSON for dinner, Merry Christmas indeed). We hiked around 75 km over five days. I expected to be sorer, but came out in one piece and walking normally.
I have no words to describe Torres del Paine. All I will say is that it was great to be able to smell good earth and forest smells like the smell of dirt, wet leaves and compost. That was good for the soul. Here are the rest of my thoughts in incomplete sentences:
Hearing glaciers crumble off sounds like thunder. Landscape changes in very little distance. Lakes in any hue of blue or green or grey you can imagine. Torres del Paine (or Towers of Paine) in mythology are colossal wind guards, bold formations that tell the legend of the formation of the Andes and the lushness of the planet. Good hiking friends and conversation. French and Israeli people everywhere! Great weather.
I took way too may pictures to post here, so to see all of them, click here!
I really loved Chile – it combined all of the things I love most about the various places I’ve been at one point in my life. The mountains reminded me of the Jura. The cold rocky beaches of the Pacific and the abundance of seafood reminded me of the tide pools and buying lobster from the warf in Arisaig. Wide open spaces are what I love most about Texas, and Patagonian Chile still has a great Latin American “feel” to it, but more comfortable and developed than my life here in Paraguay. I would love to do a biking trip through Patagonia later in life (during the summer of course), who is up for it?