Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Filling some gaps.

It’s been a while since I did a real post about how everything is going here in BA.

Bariloche was a blast. The land is absolutely beautiful: mountains, lakes, snow capped peaks in the distance, rocky beaches, coniferous forests. I felt like I was back in New England! Definitely a much needed siesta from the sounds, smells, and speed of the city that had been wearing on me. I did a few great hikes up to summits and down to beaches and made some new friends. But I think my most enjoyable and memorable moments I spent alone! After a late night (in bed by 6am) I somehow managed to wake up at 9am, refusing to sleep away my days in Patagonia. With most of my friends still asleep, I went down and shared breakfast with some other early risers from the group and truly, deeply enjoyed my refillable, free mug of black coffee. Sure have been missing it! It was such a beautiful morning, but the afternoon threatened to be gray, cold, and rainy, so I took my fourth cup with me, down one of the hotel trails that lead to the beach. It was so nice to just walk the beach that morning with no one else in sight. I walked as far as I could go until I just stood on an outcrop of rocks that dropped off into the lake. I stood there for a long time in the cold wind, just reveling in the sound of the world without cars and horns and people yelling on the sidewalk. I even sounded a barbaric YAWP across the mountaintops of the world. What a way to start the day! I think it was the first time I’ve been alone and at peace since the rooftop terrace of the hostel my first night.

So, all alone, with nothing in sight except for the warm sun and a refreshing glacial lake… what to do? what to do?? Clearly, the only option was to do a little skinny-dipping and I’m SO glad I did. It was incredible. Cold, but then not at all (adrenaline rush?) And absolutely liberating and glorious. My favorite memory of the whole weekend!

I ate some delicious food in Bariloche too. However it got there, Bariloche is home to a traditional Swiss colony, reflected in the architecture and of course, the chocolate. There was one place, Mamushka, that I frequented for their chocolates artesenales. Que rico! My trusty Lonely Planet recommended Mamushka, and it didn’t let me down!

However… when Gina and I were looking for a dinner place not far from the hotel, LP didn’t serve us quite as well. We had an epic journey that thankfully ended in a delicious, relaxed, perfect dinner. But getting there was kind of crazy. We left the hotel around 8 and got on the colectivo that runs from Llao Llao, the area where our hotel was, into the center of Bariloche. The previous night, Gina and I had had quite an encounter with the colectivo, during which we met Sirius Black (a gigantic black dog that waited for the bus with us) and even accompanied the bus driver as he stopped the bus on the side of the road to smoke a cigarette. Gotta love Argentina.

After passing the restaurant we were going to go to, which we were later glad about because it turned out to be a big tourist, chain kind of deal, we ended up all the way back in the center of Bariloche. I remembered another place from the Lonely Planet, but we had to walk clear across town to find it, and when we finally did it was closed and abandoned. Oops. All was not lost! We stopped in a little hotel at the edge of town and they recommended a place that was fantastic, lovely, relaxed, and way cheaper than all the places in the center. Gina had one of the most beautiful steaks I’ve ever seen, complete with two fried eggs on top, and I tried the grilled trout, which was also perfect. Add a bottle of red wine and you’ve got two happy Americanas en Patagonia.

Sorry for blaspheming the Lonely Planet, Abby... don't worry I still love it!!!

Of all the food I ate in Bariloche, and maybe in BA too, my favorite meal was CHURRIPAN. Right in the crafts market, there was just a dude with a big grill, grillin up delicious meat. Churripan, also spelled Choripan, is like the Argentine version of a hotdog. Here, they call American hotdogs panchas, but churripan is like big hunks of chorizo sausage on a bun, and then there were all these tubs of sauces like chimichurri, and pickled hot peppers and onions, the first hint of spice since I’ve been here. Basically, it was delicious and perfect and only 5 pesos, and I went back the next day for more.

The trip was full of good food, hiking, and swimming. The only big disappointment is that Gina and I were all ready to go paragliding while we were there, but we couldn’t because of the weather. But now we’re planning our next trip to Salta, or Córdoba, world famous para/hang-gliding destinations. Can’t wait!

Returning to the city was a little rough, I wasn’t quite ready to give up nature again. But I got by by visiting the rose garden in Palermo and exploring more of my neighborhood, Belgrano, which is much calmer than the city center. I also went to the zoo with some friends and have been exploring more of the markets around town.

This past weekend ended up being quite a cultural experience. What started with a great, cheap, chill dinner with my friend Molly at a hole-in-the-wall Columbian restaurant (rice and beans at last!) ended up as a night out at one of BA’s biggest night life hotspots, a club called Crobar. I suppose I’m glad to have experienced it, but I don’t think I ever really need to do anything like it again. It was crazy; I didn’t leave until 6am and there were still people lined up outside trying to get IN. Take a nap, Argentina!

Then Monday brought on my first day of class at UCA, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Argentina. I tried a class called Ciencia y Religión, but I don’t think it’s quite what I’m looking for. I have two more classes to check out on Thursday. But otherwise, I’m bumming around a lot this week which is kind of nice. I need to get some ideas going to start my research project, and I’ve been checking out some volunteer opportunities in the city too. I’m also really excited to check out a yoga class tonight at a studio in Palermo. At last!

Right now I’m writing from a bookstore on Avenida Santa Fe that’s in an old converted theater. It’s called El Ataneo and it’s a fun place to be, though very much full of tourists. Full of books, and the balconies have more shelves and some private reading rooms. The stage is a café--absurdly overpriced, but very cool, since the likes of Carlos Gardel (tango singer, Argentine hero) have performed on it. It’s an absolutely beautiful building, and there’s classical music and the happy hum of tourists to accompany a little reading/writing time.


  1. Roses are stunning and Harry must be thrilled that Sirius Black is alive!

  2. I am SO HAPPY to read about your YAWP... what memories. <3

    How was yoga?