I haven´t updated this in forever but figured I´d do one last post before returning to the states tomorrow. Seems somewhat crazy that this is almost over, it hasn´t quite sunk in yet. I imagine maybe I will start to believe I´m going back when I´m on my way to the airport. I´ve been in Argentina for the last three weeks, and I have to say it hasn´t been my favorite country: everything here is very polished and comfortable and at times I feel like I´ve somehow stumbled into Europe. There was one ski town (there wasn´t any snow when I was there, it was kind of funny to see empty ski lifts going up totally barren, dusty hills with jagged Patagonian mountains in the background) that even had a whole bunch of St. Bernards with those little whiskey barrels around their necks so you could take a picture with them in front of ski lodge. Don´t get me wrong, it´s a lovely country, just not so much my cup of tea. That and the food choices heremore or less consist of hamburgers, pasta, and pizza-- I am yearning for aguacates and ceviche!
In some respects I wish that I had done this trip in the reverse direction. The majority of the people I´ve met in Argentina speak a fair amount of English, and it would have been easier to start out in the expensive country with less of language barrier, so that I could live it up in the cheap countries a few months later with my now fairly competent spanish. I´m still having sticker shock about the prices in Argentina even after having been here for 3 weeks. I find myself saying, ¨If this were in Peru...¨ a lot. I can´t even imagine how hard it is going to be to readjust to US prices!
I started my jaunt through Argentina in the city of Mendoza, which is the wine capital of Argentina. The city is technically in the middle of a desert, but through the magic of irrigation channels it doesn´t feel that way at all: the streets are lined with huge, beautiful trees and the city is awash in nice parks to waste the day in. I couchsurfed with two very lovely French girls and drank a lot of wine and saw a lot of art. The tallest mountain outside the Himalayas is somewhere in the general vicinity of Mendoza, so I took a few days to go hiking around the base.
After that it was off to Bariloche, which is more or less the border of Patagonia, and was undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have ever been. I met some other pacific northwesterners and went on a crazy backpacking trip through some Patagonian mountains that were the inspiration for the drawings in The Little Prince (which, by the way, I did manage to find a copy of in spanish). After that it was off to the coast to see some penguins, which was actually really underwhelming. I´ve come to the conclusion that all the various penguin movies and merchandise are a lot cuter than penguins themselves. And since then, I´ve been in a big cities, which have never really been my thing. I guess it´s good that I haven´t been too fond of the last few places I´ve been, as it´s making me more amenable to the idea of coming back.
I´ve been in Buenos Aires for about a week. Some of my rugby friends from Portland spent time in Buenos Aires last year, so I got the contact info for their club and have been playing with a local women´s team. Rugby feminino is more or less unheard of in Argentina, most people I talked to about it thought I was joking. There are maybe 8 teams in the whole country, and I had the good fortune to come over a weekend with a six team tournament. So I´ve spent the last two days beating up/getting beat up by a bunch of Argentine women and it has been an absolute blast. I miss rugby! I want to start playing again when I get back to Portland, but I am a bit wary of playing such a contact sport when I need my right hand to make a living.
I can´t load any pictures right now because my camera cord decided to stop working, and I don´t have all that much more to say... So. Yes. I´m heading back to the states tomorrow. Those of you who live in Portland, I´m looking forward to seeing you! I´m coming back with no job, no house, no money, and no real plans, so I´ll have an overabundance of time to see you, give me a call any time after Tuesday and we can frolic merrily about the city.