Nice to meat you

Trip Start Jun 03, 2006
Trip End Jul 05, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Andes.
We had to be up and downstairs bright and early to hop on the bus for the Andes. Again, a lot of people were hung over and tired. Everyone was expecting a three-hour nap on the bus. Fat chance.
The road we were going up to the ski resort has gained fame recently as it was featured on the primetime tv hit, the amazing race. It is, basically,
(as in twisty, not gusty). Added to that, our driver apparently decided at some point that he was racer x trying to warn speed about the monkey's evil plot. As our driver sped his way around every turn, we were all quickly reminded that two buses, full of tourists, had recently gone off of cliffs in Chile, killing all of the passengers. It wasn't long before people started getting carsick.
Needless to say, we made record time up those mountains. It was just passed lunchtime. Some people headed straight for the slopes (well, actually, straight to the rental booth, then the slopes). I couldn't afford to snowboard both days, so I decided to study on Fri and play on Sat. So, a bunch of us grabbed a bite. We expected inflation at this resort, but as it was only thing on the mountain and controlled the price of every consumable good, it was $16 dollars for a sandwhich, fries, and water. Then, I studied and slept and enjoyed the views. Oh, the snow for the day was almost nonexistent. It's still the beginning of the season in the Andes.
The next morning, I woke up and it was snowing. Nice. So, I ate breakfast and went out boarding. It had been a long time since I boarded and most of my friends were beginners, so I stuck around the bunny slopes for a while and then headed off for the slightly harder runs. The runs were pretty short and the conditions were okay. I had fun, though, with everyone.
We had been informed that we might have to leave early (we were originally supposed to drive down Sun. morning) because of the impending storm. The guy renting snowboards was excited for it; the bus drivers were insistent to leave before it arrived. After a half-day of boarding, we all checked in and were told we were leaving at 4:30. Ten minutes later (at about 2pm), it started to snow and departure time moved up to 3pm. However, with a group of 50 students trying to check out of a hotel, we didn't actually leave until 4. The driver was not happy and a few people were worried. It was the same driver as before and it had snowed about 3 inches in the last hour. We piled in, though, and headed out with about 3 feet visibility. Thankfully, though, the driver slowed down for the snow. He might have even been safer in the snow, due to his heightened care. Unfortunately, Vanessa, behind me, still ended up getting sick. We made it back okay, checked back into our hotel for the night, and that's pretty much it.

Flight to Buenos Aires
In the morning, a group of seven of us caught a shuttle to the airport for the early flight (everyone was scattered among flights). We were flying Air France. This gets a little section for a couple of reasons. Number One, Air France is great. You get actual cutlery, the food is decent, there's a bit of legroom, and the reclining action is some of the best I've seen. Very comfortable.
Number Two (haha...poo), Argentina apparently has a paranoia over travelling insects. This means that, as soon as the plane was in the air and we couldn't get off, they fumigated the entire cabin. That's right, a steward walked down each aile with two bug bombs spraying away. I wonder if that's covered by their insurance policy.

Buenos Aires. New roommate. Diseased!!
I had really enjoyed living with Bernardo in Santiago, but I was switched out of that group for BA. Apparently, a bunch of people, after three weeks with the same roommates, e-mailed Macarena (the coordinator of the trip) and requested line-up changes. I will not disclose the information I received regarding these e-mails.
My new roommate is a guy that I already know from school named Juan. We're on student government and the finance committee together. He's a cool guy. However, he had been sick for a while and still was. Everyone on the trip ended up getting the bug. I held out for a long time but, after sharing a room with Juan for a couple of nights, I came down with the cold too. It was about time, I guess. I can only take comfort in the fact that I probably passed it along to a couple others as well.

Italian dinner.
Our first night in BA, a big group went out for dinner. Wait, quick briefing on Argentina:
Up until a few years ago, the Argentine currency was pegged to the US dollar. However, this was not working, so eventually they switched to the peso and it was on its own. Within a few months, I think the currency inflated 400%. A teacher told us that, if you picked up a bottle of juice at the back of a store, the price would double by the time you got it to the counter. Today, it's about 3 pesos to the USD and things here are cheap. At the same, though, the place is sophisticated and hip. It reminded me of Tokyo a little bit, with boutiques and restaurants every other door.
So we went out walking to find a place. I had spotted a little area with a few restaurants and we headed there. Luckily, we split into two groups, which made things easier. I went with the group headed for a little Italian place (Argentina has a large Italian population). I'll just say that it was great food. They had a red sauce for the bread that was chocked full of garlic, just the way I like it. I got the squid ink pasta, which was delicious and even better the next day. It's very popular to serve fresh, as opposed to dry, pasta in BA. Omp!

Steak, Steak Steak.
Argentina is also famous for its steak (and, of course, its leather). A few nights in, a small group, including my new roommate Juan, went to a sit-down fancy steak place across from the four seasons in BA. I got a T-bone steak, which actually consisted of two cuts, separated by a bone (or a T-bone, if you will). Everyone was raving about the steaks. My steak was great. It tasted like steak. I wasn't all that blown away. It was just a good steak. Everyone else was kind of blowing them out of proportion.

World Cup.
You may know that the world cup is currently underway. Well, well, well. We happened to be in Argentina for the semi-finals, in which Argentina played Germany. It was right in the middle of finals, but they extended the deadline, possibly just so that we could all watch the game. The atmosphere in Latin America has been tense. All of Chile is focused on Argentina and Brasil. Argentina, on the other hand, is pretty much just going nuts. There are flags and jerseys everywhere. And, all of a sudden, I keep hearing about Maradona and his Hand of God. To be continued...
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mikeraboy on

Man, I wish I were there! BA looks so fun and very euro. Probably best that we missed each other, otherwise our trip together would've been short and we shouldn't do short trips. We need to get on another multi-month journey. How was the environment after Germany won? And more pictures dammit.

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