Monday, November 8, 2010

patagonia, here i come!

Today I leave for the long anticipated Rotary trip to Patagonia! I have (finally) packed up my suitcase and backpack, have gone to the bank to pull out the extra cash I'll be needing, and have said so-long to my classmates. Now all I have to do is sit and wait for my bus to come so I can be on VACATION! 

I'll be gone for just under three weeks and will have no idea how to sum up a three week vacation to Patagonia with friends from all over the world once I get back. SO, instead I've decided just to post the itinerary of my trip here and be able to spend more times on the details and highlights upon my return! 

  • Nov 9: Córdoba – Puerto Madryn. Departure at 14:30 hs making stops in Río Cuarto; Santa Rosa de la Pampa, Río Colorado and San Antonio Oeste.
  • Nov 10: Puerto Madryn. At mid day arrival to the cabins and rooms distribution. During the afternoon we will make a city tour visiting seaside promenade, quay and monument to the Tehuelche Indian in Punta Cuevas where we will have an magnificent view of the city.
  • Nov 11: Puerto Madryn. Full day excursion to Reserva Provincial Península de Valdés. Walking round the Florentino Ameghino isthmus Patagonical Fauna Interpretation Center. Arrival to Puerto Pirámides and travel by boat for incredible experiences: Sea trip for seashore sightseeing and observing the magnificent Southern Frank Whales and sea wolves on their natural habitants. Return to the quay. Lunch. In the afternoon we will go to Caleta Valdés where we will find one of the world´s biggest sea elephants colonies and where we might have the chance to see „Orcas“ (wrongly known as killer whales).
  • Nov 12: Puerto Madryn-Calafate. Departure at approx. 07.30 hs visiting Trelew and the Reserva Faunistica Cabo dos Bahias where the biggest continental colony of Magallanes Penguin is living. There besides watching their particular uses and behaviours we will have the opportunity to see the most spectacularly calmed and deep blue sea unique in the patagonic seashores. Around 18.00 hs we will go towards Calafate stopping in Comodoro Rivadavia (for having dinner), San Julian, Piedrabuena and Esperanza.
  • Nov 13:  Calafate. Arrival at mid day. Lunch. Free afternoon for resting or walking around the city whose main turistic natural attraction is the spectacular „Lago Argentino“ which consists of the melted water from the argentinian glaciers.
  • Nov 14: Calafate. Excursion to the Parque Nacional los Glaciares: Departure approx. at 08.30 hs. We will travel around the shores of the Lago Argentino where we will be able appreciate in just 80 km the vegetation which will  change from praries to forrest, besides the enormous snowy peacks. With a little bit of attention inside the  leafy woods we might have the opportunity to watch deer, fox and native birds such as condors. After making a stop in the park administration we shall proceed to the final destination „El Glaciar Perito Moreno“ (the only growing inland glacier on earth). Lunch and free day to walk around the viewpoints located in front of the glacier which has a total length of 5 kms. Return to Calafate at approx. 18.00 hs
  • Nov 15: Calafate. Day to make optional activities like Trekking in the „Glaciar Perito Moreno“, Cerro Fitz Roy and Lago del Desierto, excursions by boat to the different lakes and glaciers such as Spegazzini, Mayo and Upsalla. Furthermore you will have the chance of visiting cave paintings  from the local indians.
  • Nov 16: Calafate-Ushuaia. Departure at 04.00 hs hs towards the city of Ushuaia making stops in Rio Gallegos the argentinian custom, the chilean custom and Rio Grande. The attractivity of this journey is that for 4  hours  we will pass through chilean territory because it is the only terrestrial access to the province of Tierra del Fuego. Then for an hour  we will go by ferry through the Strait of Magallanes. The arrival hour to the city of Ushuaia depends on the duration of customs and immigration paperwork of the international police  but it is estimated that the arrival will be during the late night.
  • Nov 17: Ushuaia. Free Morning for resting. Lunch. Travelling from the city Ushuaia up to the  „Cerro Martial“. At the end of the afternoon you will have the chance to go shopping (tax free).
  • Nov 18: Ushuaia. Excursion to the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego: walking around mountain roads between leafy forrests which contains local flora like lenga, cohiue, nire, canelo, and more than 30 kinds of bracken and 400 kinds of moss besides the uncountable amount of wild flowers. After observing the beautiful panoramic views of Canal de Beagle its mountainous islands and the limits between the argentinian and chilean islands will arrive to the majestic Bahía Lapataia where is the ending of the road we are travelling through „ruta nacional numero 3“. There we will have reconaissance walk with a specialized guide. Return to the city and free afternoon to take a boat excursion over the „Canal de Beagle“ (Optional).
  • Nov 19: Ushuaia - Esquel. Departure at 06.00 hs towards Río Gallegos by the same road we have already travelled to get into Tierra del Fuego Island. Stop in Rio Grande, customs and Río Gallegos where ww will have dinner. After dinner we continue the trip to Esquel.
  • Nov 20: Esquel. Arrival during afternoon. Free day for resting.
  • Nov 21: Esquel - San Carlos de Bariloche. Departure during the morning visiting the Parque Nacional los Alerces. The trip starts at the park administration where you will listen to an informative talk and later you can visit the interpretation center and the museum of Los Alerces. After that we will continue to the shores of the Lago Futalaufquen where you will keep on walking surrounded by the vegetation limited by the lake already mentioned until we arrive to the „Pictografias Rupestres“ and the „Mirador Aborigen“. Return to Esquel where we will have lunch. We will visit the town El Bolsón, after that we will  continue the trip to Bariloche. Arrival during the evening.
  • Nov 22: San Carlos de Bariloche. Excursion by the Circuito Chico and Punto Panorámico from where we can appreciate an magnificent view of the Lago Nahuel Huapi and its islands and the background of the snowy peaks of the Cordillera de los Andes. Then we will visit the famous international hotel Llao-Llao. Return to the hotel during the afternoon.
  • Nov 24: San Carlos de Bariloche- San Martín de los Andes. After breakfast we will leave towards San Martín de los Andes by the route de los 7 lagos, visiting Villa la Angostura, Lago Espejo, and Lago Falkner, arriving in San Martín de los Andes approx. at  19 hs. This excursion is depends on the route. 
  • Nov 25: San Martín de los Andes - Córdoba. Departure after lunch, with stops in Piedra del Águila, Neuquén, 25 de Mayo, Santa Rosa de la Pampa y Río Cuarto.
  • Nov 26: Córdoba. Arrival to the City of Córdoba at 13:00 hs.

Did I mention I'm excited?! 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! I hope you all make the sacrifice of eating an extra scoop of mashed potatoes or slice of apple pie for me :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

the little things make my day

I feel like there are so many things down here that I get so excited about doing, just because it's in Argentina! Not saying that isn't a perfectly good reason to get excited, but often times it's just little things that absolutely make my day. Now this blog isn't about anything particularly impressive or thrilling, and I know that all of you probably have much better stories to tell about your daily lives... but I have a blog. So I guess I can just write about whatever I like, and at least to ME the little things have been pretty exciting.

First little thing that makes my day: I'm friends with taxi drivers. Blondes are rare in Formosa, and since I usually have to take a taxi into town, it didn't take long for me to become a familiar face. Now, there are many times when I'll be out running or walking around town and hear *honk honk* "MIA!!" While in the States, I probably would have found this a tad creepy- here it never fails to make me laugh. 

Second little thing: I spent Halloween on the beach! Had it been any other day, this probably wouldn't have phased me, but it wasn't until I was sitting there with some friends talking about holidays in the US when I realized that was the first and possibly only time I'll ever need to put on sunscreen when I go out for Halloween. 

Third little thing: Not that it was ever really on there in the first place, but I can now check of running a 5k in Argentina off my to-do list! Normally I get up and run before school to avoid hitting the afternoon heat, but with this having been my first day back to school in a while I forgot to reset my alarm. So a couple hours ago I decided to suck it up and just go run, and I'm so happy I did! As I got closer to the track I realized there was a really big crowd (especially for a Monday afternoon) and curiously went to check it out. Turns out I had arrived just in time and that there was a 5k race for Día de los Muertos.  They invited me to compete, and, happy to have people to pace myself with and eager to add another experience to my list, I quickly agreed. I'm not sure if it was actually me being in good shape, or just the combination of music, montage of CC memories running through my head the entire time, and adrenaline that made me kick it into gear, but I ended up coming in third! Now if only race-participation shirts were as popular in Formosa as they are back home... 

Tomorrow is Día de los Muertos, so no school again! Turns out I'll graduate from high school down here having never been to 4 consecutive days :) Instead I'm going to go shopping with my friends in Paraguay and then hit the beach again for the evening. Then just 3 more days of school and I'll be packing my bags for Patagonia! 

Besos y abrazos a todos,