A Travellerspoint blog

WWOOFing in El Bolson

home away from home

Thomas and I had the opportunity to work on a ranch just outside of a town called El Bolson, Argentina through the WWOOFing Organization for six weeks starting on the 9th of June. The night before we met up with our host, Fransisco, we stayed in a hostel owned by a really nice family and since it was low season for them they gave us a discount and treated us like part of the family. But right before we left to meet Fran, the husband started telling us of all the horror stories he has heard about WWOOFing in Argentina and how people have to work so hard for a little plate of rice, etc. It freaked me right out and we were both contemplating just not showing up to meet this guy that we knew nothing about and had only emailed twice.

All our fears were alleviated very quickly. Fran was so nice and he seemed really legit from the beginning. Plus when we grabbed groceries in town before heading to his ranch it included many more things besides rice! His ranch is located in the beautiful Rio Azul valley in the Andes and he owns over 2000 hectares of land.

The Ecolodge he is building

The Ecolodge he is building


Rio Azul Valley

Rio Azul Valley

Fran bought the land with the intention of building an Ecolodge and creating a fully self-sustaining get-away for all types of people. He is/was the national motocross champion and he built his own track where he gives motocross workshops to all levels of riders. He also has plans to build a dome for yoga and other activities. For the past few years he has also been working on a hiking trail to the top of the mountain behind his house. The goal is that everything that is made or eaten be from the ranch so he has his own sawmill to cut the wood he needs to build the Lodge (which is almost finished and looks amazing). He currently has 66 sheep, 2 pigs, 8 piglets, 16 chickens and 500 rainbow trout; a couple greenhouses for vegetables and a ton of apple trees (2 types). We loved being part of his vision to create this self-sustaining environment that he was going to share with so many people.

My favorite sheep was the smallest one, Pipa, she had black around her eyes and looked like a big cotton ball

My favorite sheep was the smallest one, Pipa, she had black around her eyes and looked like a big cotton ball


These little piggies will go to market

These little piggies will go to market


Two of the four horses

Two of the four horses


Thomas riding the track

Thomas riding the track

We had our own little house that was heated with a wood stove. We had daily chores of releasing and rounding up the sheep, feeding the pigs and chickens, checking the outlet filter to the fish pond and maintaining the garden and streams he had made through his property. The rest of our days were filled with helping Fran cut wood to either sell to the town or for the lodge, putting pieces of wood in the fences to keep the sheep in, making new fence posts, building new piggie pens, making a new transplanting garden and digging this awfully thorny invasive plant called Mosketta. On the rainy days we had the tasks of de-shelling walnuts, making break or baking dutch apple pie – tough life we know.
All in all, we loved our time on the ranch and we felt right at home. We shared breakfast and lunch with Fran every day, except our day off, and it was always quite healthy and heavy on the veggies, which we had been lacking a bit up to that point. It was here that we got to try the most traditional Argentine food, such as giso (which is basically stew comprised of lamb, potatoes, squash, corn, etc.) and asado (their style of BBQ).

Our house for the 6 weeks

Our house for the 6 weeks


Smithy helping Thomas with the fence

Smithy helping Thomas with the fence


The new garden we made

The new garden we made


One of the piggies we helped kill, skin, BBQ and eat

One of the piggies we helped kill, skin, BBQ and eat


Lamb asado we had on our last night

Lamb asado we had on our last night

Some of my highlights were:
-Hanging out with the two dogs (Tito and Rocky) and two cats (Wesson and Smithy) – I am going to miss all of them so much!
-Learning how to make bread and pizza with Fran and his girlfriend, Agi. And just hanging out with them in general – it was nice to make some new friends.
-Hiking up the hill to see the view of the Rio Azul valley where we had been working for the last 6 weeks
-Seeing the mountain range with no snow when we arrived to the first snow fall on the mountain to a downward creeping white-topped snowline. It was neat to see the seasonal transition. I loved watching the sunset on this mountain every evening – so pink and beautiful, which is what we were looking for in Torres del Paine Park. This more than made up for it.

The gang - they will be missed like crazy

The gang - they will be missed like crazy


Thomas making bread

Thomas making bread


My first crack at homemade pizza!

My first crack at homemade pizza!


dinner with Fran and Agi

dinner with Fran and Agi


View of the Ecolodge and the farm from the mountain

View of the Ecolodge and the farm from the mountain


It rained for a week straight - water was EVERYWHERE

It rained for a week straight - water was EVERYWHERE

Some of Thomas’ highlights were:
-Watching the sun rise every morning over breakfast. There is just something so intrinsically peaceful about holding a hot cup of coffee and watching the black give way shades, then greys, then reds, golds, and blues.
-I also really enjoyed the daily chores. I enjoyed chasing the sheep from one side of the ranch to the other.
-Once one of the male sheeps broke out of the main ranch and lived on the side of the mountain for a week. Eventually, while hiking, Meredith and I found it. We then proceeded to chase the dumbest sheep I have ever seen down the mountain to the ranch below. It was a pain, but it brought a good sense of accomplishment.
-In the evenings, after the days chores we would sit next to the wood stove and drink beer, or tea, or coffee, and the warmth and silence and beverage always made for nice evenings.
-One last thing. Meredith watched Rambo-first blood. She didn’t like it much but, Im glad she at least crossed that life bridge.

one of many beautiful sunrises

one of many beautiful sunrises


Drinking tea by the fire

Drinking tea by the fire


The big kid swing

The big kid swing


Thomas decided to jump in the mountain river fed trout pond

Thomas decided to jump in the mountain river fed trout pond


Best meal (giso) on the ranch, Thomas still talks about the tortas fritas (deep-fried bread)

Best meal (giso) on the ranch, Thomas still talks about the tortas fritas (deep-fried bread)

Other than that, life just moved at a different rhythm, and that made the whole experience very refreshing. We would have stayed longer but we decided 2 months in Patagonia was long enough and we wanted to start our journey northward to escape the winter.

Frosty, foggy mornings on the ranch!

Frosty, foggy mornings on the ranch!

Miss you all!
Love, Meredith and Thomas
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Posted by tag.mrd 13:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (3)

Puerto Madryn

Sea-life Exposure

Hola family and friends!

We know it’s been a while, and we do apologize. This post is for the time we spent on the east coast (Puerto Madryn) at the beginning of May, right after we left the mountains and glaciers of the southern Patagonian Andes.

When we left Calafate, we went to a place across the country to the coast side and about and 10 hours north. It was getting pretty chilly in the south and we needed a little bit more warmth. And we needed a place to kill 2 weeks until we could go WWOOFing.

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The tune of Puerto Madryn was chill and the goal was to find some sweet wildlife, including a penguin. We arrived to Puerto Madryn at the end of penguin season and the very beginning of whale season. We had the potential to see both or… neither. We rented an apartment on the outskirts of town which suited us well. The town was nice, but very quite as it was the fall and the beach goers had all left. It was a tad unfortunate that there was not much going on but we came for sea-life and a break from the mountains.

We did a whale and sea lion tour on our second day there. It was a long drive to and around the peninsula with a lot of nothing going on for most of the journey. But we ended up seeing quite a bit: some sea lions, female elephant seals, and a whale - though it was a ways off the shore. .. at the end of this tour we made one last stop to see some sea lions a little more up close and we managed to find a couple penguins! It was excellent because I knew Meredith really wanted to see some. So check that off the list.

Female Elephant Seals - super lazy animals when they are not in the water

Female Elephant Seals - super lazy animals when they are not in the water

Sea Lions playing in the water

Sea Lions playing in the water

It got really windy at times..

It got really windy at times..

Thomas being Thomas

Thomas being Thomas

Watching a whale

Watching a whale

Another colony of sea lions

Another colony of sea lions

WE FOUND THEM!

WE FOUND THEM!

I had my 24th birthday in Puerto Madryn. It was a perfect day. We got up early and went to the beach where we met a boat that was going to take us to a sea lion colony. We were wearing full wet suits and fins, and were allowed to swim with the baby sea lions for an hour. It was excellent. We both had them all over us, nudging us, chewing on our fins, and I even got a birthday kiss from Meredith and a sea lion.

A beautiful sunrise made it just that more amazing

A beautiful sunrise made it just that more amazing

The baby sea lions were all so cute!

The baby sea lions were all so cute!

Thomas playing with the cubs

Thomas playing with the cubs

Amazing group of dolphins that swarmed our boat on our way back

Amazing group of dolphins that swarmed our boat on our way back

After sea lions we went home to change and wash the ocean off. Meredith made a picnic and heated water for some mate. But when we went to beach to eat it, it started to rain, so we went back to the house and had our mate there. After a sneaky dog came up from behind me and stole half of my sandwich! Meredith did the most amazing thing: she found the 5th game of thrones book, a book that I have been looking for in Spanish book stores for months. And she found it, cause she is excellent. So I read the book for a bit, then we made dinner, drank some good wine and eventually watched a movie. It was simple and chill and nice.

Thomas and the thief

Thomas and the thief

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On our last day in Puerto Madryn, we walked along the beach/coastline in our bare feet and then we found a nice spot on the rocks to eat lunch. While we were eating we met another penguin friend! Meredith wanted to take him home because he was all alone and needed a family.

Our pet penguin

Our pet penguin

From Puerto Madryn we took a bus to a town called El Bolson, Argentina; where we were going to be working on a man’s ranch for 6 weeks.
Next post coming soon… ish.

We will everyone back home and hope you are all doing well!

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Love,
Meredith y Thomas

Posted by tag.mrd 11:16 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

North to South in one Large Swoop

Patagonia: Torres del Paine and El Calafate

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Hola family and friends!

First of all, I must apologize for the length of this blog - I lost my journal on the bus ride to Iguazu Falls so I think I wrote this one more for me... sorry. It is also worth noting that this blog entry may have had a very different tone if written by Thomas. I had to wait a little while to write this in order to let some of the bitterness that arose subside.

As most of you know, one of the things Thomas and I really wanted to do while on this trip was to work on organic farms in Argentina and Chile. It has been... a challenge to hear back from any of the farmers. The only one that we have had a positive response from lives in El Bolson (Rio Negro province of Argentina) but he cannot take us until mid-May so we had some time to kill. As we were sitting in our hostel in Iguazu Falls (one of the northern most parts of Argentina) we decide it would be a brilliant idea to go to the deep south of Patagonia! We wanted to see it, and now was the time before winter hits. So we booked some flights. Our main goal was to go to the Torres del Paine National Park to do some trekking. It took us a total of 2 days to reach our destination of Puerto Natales, Chile. Our flight from Iguazu was grounded due to a storm so we didn't end up flying out until the next morning. This however meant that we got to stay in one of the nicest hotels in Iguazu for free, which included a complementary buffet dinner and breakfast - we were okay with staying an extra night. We ended up missing our connection flight in Buenos Aires but we managed to catch the next one (barely) to Rio Gallegos. We spent the night at a hostel in Rio Gallegos and caught the morning bus to Puerto Natales via Rio Turbio (where we had to kill 5 hours with a nice French couple in service stations because that is all that was open on Sundays).

We had a very rough plan of what we wanted to do in Puerto Natales - hike the 'W trek' of Torres del Paine. We thought we would spend a few days hanging out in the town and getting supplies ready. We were never planning on coming this far south so we were very ill prepared for the Patagonian weather and had no camping gear so we would have to rent everything. We figured out last minute that friends of ours that we met at Spanish school in Bs As were also heading to TDP!
A Torres del Paine National Park map

A Torres del Paine National Park map

The Plan: As our friends weren't coming for a few days, we would start the large 'O circuit' (see map above) on Wednesday and then meet them at Refugio Grey on Saturday night, giving both parties time to get there. Then we would continue with them on the traditional 'W trek' until Wednesday or Thursday. Then we would all go back to the same hostel and hang out for a day or two.
Eager to start hiking!

Eager to start hiking!

What Actually Happened:

Day 1: Porteria Laguna Amarga to Campamento Seron (14 km)
We arrived at the park entrance at 10:30am making one bathroom break stop half way to the park. I finally met Southern Alberta's wind match. Getting off that bus, I am suprised I did not fly away. It was honestly terrifying. That was the first of many times when I questioned whether this whole Torres del Paine trek was a good idea. But we arrived at the park to absolutely beautiful weather. A tad windy, a little cloudy but not freezing - perfect hiking weather. We started hiking around 11. The first half of the day was windy and a little cold but overall not bad; the second half however, was raining and cold, which was no fun. We did not come across a single sole in the first half of the day (except some Guanacos) but then when the trail met up with the one from the hotel we bumped into another Canadian couple (Duane and Erin). Figures only Canadians are crazy enough to be on the outer circuit in the low/off season. We were the only ones at camp (which was technically closed). It was nice to have some company over dinner, but by the time we retired to our tent I was one frozen ball of Meredith. It took a long time for my toes to warm up that night (at the expense of Thomas' body heat).

One of the few pictures taken on the first day

One of the few pictures taken on the first day


Our first night

Our first night

Day 2: Campamento Seron to Refugio Dickson (19 km)
Not a lot of sleep was had that night due to the strong winds and rain. I was worried all night that our cooking set would blow away and Thomas was worried that I wasn't warm enough. That morning before emerging from our tent we had a serious discussion about if we wanted to turn around. We didn't exactly have all the right gear if this rain were to continue. But we are both pretty stubborn and we decided to keep going. We were on the trail by 10:30 and it was a great morning - just a little drizzle. But the big wind gusts made it quite cold after a while and the rain continued to get heavier and heavier throughout the day. We were totally soaked from the waste down and freezing by the 3 hour mark when we ran into a guy who told us we only had about 3 hours left. After about 3 hours we ran into a sign that told us we still have another 3 km to go. I was pretty done at this point... so that was the longest 3 km I have ever walked and probably the grumpiest I have been in a long time. And poor Thomas had to put up with me - but he was such a champ about it and was super encouraging. We had to walk through this swamp area at the end which just had boards (sometimes) to keep you out of the water.. I had absolutely no appreciation for it. But we had to climb a big hill right at the end which gave us a great view - the refugio (with smoke coming out!) and two rivers meeting with some icebergs floating. It was a heavenly sight. We decided to stay at the refugio that night (which cost way way too much) because we were just too wet and cold and we wanted to be able to give our boots a chance to dry out a little bit. We also knew that the next night was going to be the coldest one - high elevation and lots of snow. But it was going to be a short day so we were able to sleep in a bit.

'Whispering Lake' which we named due to the way the wind moved the water across the surface

'Whispering Lake' which we named due to the way the wind moved the water across the surface


Refugio Dickson - our view of hope

Refugio Dickson - our view of hope


Thomas warming up in the Refugio

Thomas warming up in the Refugio

Day 3: Refugio Dickson to Campamento Seron (19 km)
The next morning we came downstairs to snow on the ground. It was a sad sight. There was also talk going around that the pass might be closed. After talking with the other Canadians and the Ranger, we found out that there are 11 people waiting at the next campsite because they weren't allowed to go through the pass. We debated over breakfast about whether we should risk going on or just turn around. Before we could make a decision, we found out that some of the guys were heading on horses to go and close the pass indefinitely for the season. We had no choice but to go back. Honestly though, I was so relieved, I wasn't sure if I could do 7 more days of rain like the day before. But it turned out to be a gorgeous day! There was a little snow but it was sunny and clear. It turned out to be a great thing that we were re-tracing our steps. It gave us a chance to re-do our crappy days. I actually really enjoyed walking through the swamp area and we were actually able to see the tops of all the mountains around us. We arrived just before dark, enough time to set up camp. Then we ate dinner and shared a big chocolate bar with the other Canadians before going to bed.

The swamp that I equally loved and hated

The swamp that I equally loved and hated


Stunning views

Stunning views


A great morning for excercise

A great morning for excercise


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Love it

Love it


Back to our first camp site

Back to our first camp site

Day 4: Campamento Seron to Campamento Central (13 km)
Only part of this day ended up being familiar to us (although all of it seemed new because it was clear again and we were able to actually see around us and it didn't feel like we were just walking through fields) because we went towards to hotel to the Campamento Central. There were fantastic views all day long. About 2 hours in though my ankle started giving me a little trouble - I think due to two days of wet boots rubbing against my heel bone - which made the rest of the hike a painful one. This day we almost got ran over by these two wild horses that were getting herded down the mountain. By the time we got to camp I was in a lot of pain that I wasn't sure how I was going to do the next few days. But a hot meal and a hot shower made me feel so much better and I decided to wait until morning to see how I felt.

TDP_and_Glacier_172.jpgTDP_and_Glacier_176.jpgOur first glimpse of the Torres

Our first glimpse of the Torres

Day 5: Campamento Central to Campamento Torres (9 km)
Happy Easter!

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It was a slow morning and a painful one... there was a lot of discussion as to whether I should keep going or wait down here for a day to rest the ankle. But because I am stubborn (and with the help of a T3 or two) I decided to give it a try. I just band-aided, cushioned and second skinned the crap out of my feet and used Thomas' buff to wrap around my ankle and was on my way. Thomas gave me a head start so that I didn't feel like I was slowing him down the whole time. But it didn't take him too long to catch up with me... I am glad that I was only in a bit of pain because this was the most beautiful day yet. It was a harder day in terms of elevation gain but the views made it so worth it. We reached the Refugio Chileno where there were a lot of people saying there was too much snow to camp at the next site. But Thomas and I decided to continue on anyways - what's a little snow? We were so glad we did because there was barely any snow, it was just a little wet - which was a little concerning with our rented tent that didn't have a tarp bottom but it did okay. It was a lot colder at this site so we decided to hike back to the main trail to eat our dinner in the sun. We had a really early night as we were planning on hiking up to the Torres mirador in the morning to watch the sunrise. We were both (mostly me) worried about the climb in the morning because we heard that it was brutally icy and not well marked.

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How Thomas viewed me for two days - bent over fixing my stupid shoe

How Thomas viewed me for two days - bent over fixing my stupid shoe


We stopped for lunch at the Refugio part way up

We stopped for lunch at the Refugio part way up


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SOUP! Our dinner for 6 days

SOUP! Our dinner for 6 days

Day 6: Campamento Torres to Base de Las Torres to Refugio Las Torres (11 km)
We woke up at 6 am, two hours before the sun in order to make breaky and pack up camp. We left our stuff at the camp site and started the 1 km climb to the mirador. It ended up being worse than we thought. It was tough and my ankle was not liking it. It was just sheer ice so for a lot of it we ended up going off the trail into the snow which seemed a little less dangerous. We left camp a little later than planned so when I started seeing the glimmer of light I got really upset and probably pushed too hard to make it there. Even though it was really painful I am glad we did because we were able to catch just a glimpse of the pink sky casting onto the Torres. It was quite pretty once we got to the top. We were only able to stay up there for about 10 minutes before we had to start heading down in order to catch the bus at the bottom at 2pm. I was pretty determined to get that bus and we ended up making pretty good time. We were able to have a quick snack on the hotel steps before catching our bus. I think it was probably the combination of having two T3s that day and having not a lot of food, but I felt super queezy and ended up getting sick on gravel road back to Puerto Natales. That was fun... But a nice hot shower and a little nap followed up by a feast prepared by Thomas made me feel so much better!

The Torres slightly pink from the sunrise

The Torres slightly pink from the sunrise

We made it to the top!

We made it to the top!

Sometimes it was easier to just slide down

Sometimes it was easier to just slide down

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Things learned in the park:
- Do it in the summer, it's just not worth the risk of bad weather and things not being open (camp sites, refugios, trails)
- Start with the 'W trek' - then if you are still feeling keen, continue on to the 'O circuit'
- Eat lots of food with T3s
- Good rain pants are a must, as well as dry socks! There is also no such thing as too many band-aids.
- Thomas is a gem. I obviously knew this before the park, just like I knew that he is naturally a 'protector' but this trip created an opportunity for me to see just how much he cared about me and how he would do anything to make sure I was comfortable and doing okay. He is amazing.

Since we made no attempt to meet up with Matt and Nicky in the park, we thought we should at least wait for them at the hostel (we had nothing better to do anyways). They ended up coming a couple days early, to our surprise, which allowed us to see them for a couple of days before they moved on to Santiago, Chile and we headed back into Argentina.

From Puerto Natales we headed to nearby El Calafate - famous for it's beautifully enourmous glacier, Perito Moreno, located in Parque Nacional los Glaciares (and whenever we mention any sort of national park, you can assume we paid a lofty fee in order to get in!). This glacier is part of a huge icefield that covers hundreds of kilometres.

We arrived in El Calafate in the afternoon on the 24th of April. We are staying in a very Americanized hostel which is good and bad (bad for us learning Spanish). Once we settled we went on a walk to this natural reserve area by the lake. It has a beautiful walkway and we made a couple new doggie friends (never in short supply down here)! Then we went to a local microbrewry pub called Chopen. We were able to sample their blonde, red and lager before deciding which was sweet. After a not-super-amazing beer we went to a highly recommended restaurant called Pura Vida. It was an awesome restaurant with heafty portions. Thomas got a lamb stew that I could have split into 3 meals and my lamb ravioli was so rich that it blew my mind - there were literally only 3 (large) ravioli's... that's it! But so rich that I probably could have (should have) stopped at 2.

Our meal of champions

Our meal of champions

The next day Thomas and I went to see the glacier! The bus left at 9am and we arrived just after 10:30. They literally just dropped us off and then picked us up again at 4pm. There were tons of walkways to see different view points of the glacier. It was so big that you couldn't capture it in a single photo. It was so great. It is situated on the edge of Argentina Lake so when the ice falls it crashes into the water. It was so fun to just sit, watch and listen to the glacier. It makes so much constant noise. We got to see a lot of small pieces fall but we were fortunate enough to see a very large piece (about the size of a house) fall from the top, producing a huge explosive splash and such a loud crack when it hit the water. The acoustics were also very amazing - the sound of the ice hitting the water would echo off the glacier, delaying the sound by a second or two. It was pretty sweet.

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The guy who worked at our hostel in Puerto Natales gave us a mountain biking voucher for two to see some beautiful sites around the lake so we are planning on doing that tomorrow. After El Calafate, we have a week and a half to kill before heading to El Bolson so we think we are going to head to Puerto Madryn on the coast! Hopefully some of the activities will still be available as it is defenitely the shoulder season down in Patagonia! We are hoping to do some sea kayaking, scuba diving and just chilling in the town.

We miss you all, and being down here in Patagonia really makes us think of home. All the snow and mountains... we escaped the Canadian winter to come to Patagonia... true Canadians.

Love you all,
Meredith and Thomas

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Posted by tag.mrd 11:04 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

To Iguazu and Beyond

Our little side trip to Iguazu

Hey Friends,

Since our last post we have relocated to a new place: Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. This town is on the boarder of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. In this town we found cataratas (waterfalls)... pretty awesome ones at that.
Getting here was pretty fun. We took a 18 hour bus ride, non-stop, from Buenos Aires. Fortunately for us the seats reclined a fair amount so you could sleep a little better. However, little sleep was had all the same. Mostly watched movies, ate food, and listened to music. it was a draining experience, and by the time we arrived at Iguazu we were pretty tired... A friend of a friend of a family member named Patricia picked us up, took us to her house for lunch and then took us to the room we were renting from her sister. Complicated but successful all the same. There has been a lacking of local fluency in english, so we have been buffing up our communication skills a bit.
The next day we went to the cataratas. They are just outside the town. It was a really sunny and hot day and since we are now in a jungle it was especially humid as well. The falls are a popular place, especially on a sunday, so when we got there the place was in full swing. there were many trails that went around the many falls that made Iguazu Falls. the falls span several km of cliffs, and it took us the whole day to walk to all of them. the best ones in my opinion were the devils throat falls which were a horse shoe type falls.... We put sunscreen on but it was only slightly succesful. a combination of sweating like crazy people and the mist of the falls washed a lot off, so we both came back home with sun burns.. we ended up going back the next day because we did not do all of the trails that we had hoped to do. I also brought a picnic lunch of crackers, cheese, ham, and wine to try and celebrate Meredith's birthday. The park will not let you swim around most of the falls, but there is a little waterfall, about an hours walk from the main falls where you can swim. We went there, had a picnic, and it was really nice. Not many people want to walk that far for a swimming hole so we had it between about 8 of us. all in all it worked out nice. the whole of Iguazu Falls were amazing. So much water, and power, and greenery. the whole place was beautiful, and not as commercial as niagra falls which is nice.
a picture of the devils throat falls

a picture of the devils throat falls


the other side of the devils throat

the other side of the devils throat


Our Picnic waterfalls

Our Picnic waterfalls


Our swimming hole

Our swimming hole


since then we spent a couple days lounging around, reading, facebooking, and walking around the town. its been raining on and off the last few days so its been a tad more difficult to get out. We had a bit of a miscomunication with the farm we were looking to work at so tonight we are leaving via plane to go to roughly the most southern point in Argentina: Patagonia. we are going to do some hiking in the Torres del Paine mountian in Chili, and see some of the major Glaciers in Argentina. We are both Really pumped. its the beggining of fall now, so hopeully its not too too cold.

anyways. thats all for now.

Thomas and Meredith

Posted by tag.mrd 07:18 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Buenos Aires in a Nutshell

school, parks and entertainment

The Buenos Aires harbour

The Buenos Aires harbour

Hola chicos!

Eva Peron - an iconic figure for the Argentine people

Eva Peron - an iconic figure for the Argentine people


Thomas and I left Calgary just over five weeks ago now! It is increadible how fast that time has flown by. Friday was our last day of classes at Vamos Spanish Academy, which was a bitter-sweet moment for both of us. Although our school and classes were great and we had a teacher that was so great, we both feel as though we need a little time away from school to really absorb everything that we learned and start really pushing ourselves to use everything that we have learned. Taking 4-5 hours a day, five days a week of a new language was slightly overwhelming! It was also really difficult to balace wanting to go out and explore the city and spend time with the people we met and really taking these classes seriously and studying. But I think overall we did a pretty good job at keeping the balance. I think we are both very interested in taking more lessons farther along in our trip!

El Teatro Colon, the amazing theatre where we saw Swan Lake

El Teatro Colon, the amazing theatre where we saw Swan Lake

Inside the theatre

Inside the theatre

Overall, we had a great time being in Buenos Aires! It is a very beautiful city with a lot going on all the time. We were living in Retiro and going to school in Palermo, which are both located within the main city center. We honestly never even left the centre. El centro is so large that we would have no real reason to venture out because everything that is going on and all the main attractions are here. Biking around Palermo

Biking around Palermo

Thomas and I were able to do more things in a month in Buenos Aires than we could afford to do in a year back home. We got to go to three big shows: 'Priscilla' the musical, 'Stravaganza' (a sort of comedy acrobatic show - that we barely understood) and the beautiful ballet 'Swan Lake'. We were also introduced to an amazing pizza place where we encountered the best pizza either of us had ever had. I got to experience a 'black waxing' which was an extremely interesting and mildly unhygienic ordeal. We met some great people at school that we spent a fair amount of time with.

Wandering the streets of the historic neighborhood

Wandering the streets of the historic neighborhood

One of them came with us to a little town in Uruguay for the weekend, which was a really relaxing time.

View of Colonia from the lighthouse

View of Colonia from the lighthouse

It was also nice to just insert ourselves right into this new routine in a completely new place where we only knew each other. Although it was hard at times, with the language barrier not being any help, it was really cool to see how far we had come along in the past weeks.

On the beach in Uruguay

On the beach in Uruguay

An outdoor tango show at a market

An outdoor tango show at a market

The colorful streets of La Boca

The colorful streets of La Boca

But our time in Buenos Aires is dwindling down - we are getting kicked out of our apartment on the 4th of April (happy birthday) and not looking back! We just booked bus tickets to Iquazu Falls in the Province of Misiones. It is supposed to be one of the most magical waterfalls in the world. And it had better be because it is going to take us over 17 hours to get there. We are going to be taking a pretty nice bus over night - they give us food and beverage, there are TVs, and our seats lay down to 160 degrees. Should be a good time! We still have almost a week until we leave though. Tomorrow we are going to go to the Antiques fair in the San Telmo barrio; Monday and Tuesday we have Lollopalooza, which is a huge music festival with 50 artists - from North and South America; then Wednesday will consist of packing and cleaning (yay...) and then we just have to find somewhere to chill on Thursday until our bus leaves in the evening.

Our first glimpse of the estuary

Our first glimpse of the estuary

Walking through a beautiful path of trees

Walking through a beautiful path of trees

Thomas in a massive Rose Garden

Thomas in a massive Rose Garden

Things that I liked about Buenos Aires:

- Their croissants/baking in general were amazing! and cheap! 4 pesos for a fractura (stuffed croissant) which is about 40 cents.
- The public transit here is so intricate and costs pennies. One subway ticket was 5 pesos! Or you could hop on a bus and only pay 2.5 pesos if you weren't going far!
- You can get a litre of beer at the supermarket for the equivalent of about $1...
- There is so much green space in this city! You couldn't walk 5 blocks without finding one.
- The people were so nice - if you tried to talk to them in spanish they would usually pick up that it was your second language and then try to speak to you in English (which most people could, at least a little).
-there are so many things going on. people everywhere, crafts fairs, street music, homelessness and blatent decadece, all going on all the time. though we spent a fair amount of travel fund being here, it was was worth it.
we went to a very expensive resturant by argentine standards, but we used a groupon which spared the cost. at this dinner we bought a bottle of wine, one of the most expesive bottles of wine on the list (which was rather extensive). the wine was like something that we never really had before, and will not likely have many again. However, since the argentina is cheaper than canada, we got this delicious smooth and light red wine for... 50 dollors. its crazy how cheap liquer is here.

La Boca

La Boca

Things that I didn't quite appreciate about Buenos Aires:

- Their sweets were too sweet - and that is a lot coming from me. They are crazy about their dulce de leche (basically caramel) and it just didn't do much for me.
- It is a very loud city that never sleeps. A typical Argentine would eat dinner around 10-11pm and then not going to bed until like 2, unless it was a weekend or if they were going out, and then they wouldn't go to bed until after 6am! It is truly mind blowing. I definitely prefer to be productive during daylight hours.
- I felt as though as took a step back in time with the amount of smokers there are here. I feel as though I haven't had a whiff of fresh air since I got here (except when we went to Colonia, Uruguay for the weekend)
- The water is brown. Being such a large river basin, all of the river sediments turn the water brown. We are just excited to see actual ocean.

We miss all of your back home and think of your often. Hopefully it will not take us five weeks to write out next post! I think Thomas and I are going to alternate writing them so you get to hear from both of us.

Watching the sunset in Colonia

Watching the sunset in Colonia

Posted by tag.mrd 07:39 Comments (2)

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