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Crossing the Atlantic

I am so ready!

all seasons in one day 5 °C

Holaaaa mis minas y chabones!!

These are the names for boys and girls I will probably be hearing a lot the coming 3,5 months, because as most of you know: I am leaving again! YESSS! As everything went pretty well surviving in wonderful Spain, I decided to take a bigger risk now. I am going to Argentina!

Why am I going there? I have finally got to my last year of college, and all students have to complete 15 weeks of internship. I’ve been thinking about Ecuador, Portugal and Mexico but eventually I’ve found this great offer in Argentina, thanks to my international coordinators and previous students. I will work for a Belgian man who has been living in Argentina for about 5 years now (I believe) with his Argentinean wife and 2 children (2 beautiful daughters of whom one brand-new-born on February 18th!! So exciting!!!). He owns a hostel, a local travel agency where he sells tailor-made excursions and also a B&B (where I won’t work).

My first task will be learning everything about the hostel. The next step will be getting to know the offer of excursions and selling them, off-the-rack and tailor-made. For me personally this is the most interesting part: I like planning and creating unique trips. I am grateful though, that I found an internship that covers so many aspect of the tourism industry. I can only get benefit out of it.

So where exactly am I going? There is probably only one city which most of you think about when you hear Argentina. Buenos Aires. But I am not going there! In fact, I am going to the other side of the country, to a beautiful city called Mendoza. Mendoza is known mostly as the capital of the wine industry (the biggest of Latin-America). It is also the capital of the province of Mendoza and the 4th city of Argentina. Next to the wine tourism it’s also a much used stop for travelers on the way to the Aconcagua, the highest mountain of the Americas. Due to the landscape many adventure sports are popular outside of the city such as horseback riding, mountaineering, rafting, hiking and skiing during the winter. A much practiced tourism-trip is following the trail of the gaucho's (on a horse), which are the Argentinean cowboys. For those who haven’t thought about it: seasons are obviously opposite in Argentina. I will be arriving to Mediterranean September temperatures (25 degrees) and leaving at the beginning of the winter (+/- 10 degrees). A bit further in the province (in the higher areas) the first snow will probably start to fall in June. By the way: Mendoza has an average of sunshine and blue sky of 330 days a year! For I’ve been told fall is the most beautiful season to visit Mendoza because of the changing color of the many trees in the elegant lanes. By the time of my arrival the people of Mendoza (mendocinos) will be celebrating the harvest of the grapes: the famous festival “La Vendimia”.

What do I know about Argentina until now… Argentina for me now is known for football, tango, lots of meat, Evita, dramatic soaps and fake blondes (as Juan said.. oxigenadas). What I’ve learned by reading the culture shock book of Argentina is that Argentinean people are extremely occupied by their looks and figure. Buenos Aires is also often compared with Paris, calling it the Paris of Latin America. Apparently every Argentinean (above all in Buenos Aires) goes to a shrink, and plastic surgery is a common birthday gift. The fact that appearance is so important can also be found in the fact that the favorite pastime of the Argentineans is flirting. I could have guessed this one after I asked my boss “Are there any vaccinations I will need?” and he answered “Against what? The Argentinean men?”. Last but not least Argentina is also supposedly the most Western country of Latin America, even though I’ve heard the economy in for example Chile is growing faster (this could have something to do with the remaining influence of Spain, but as you may or not know I suck at economy, so don’t trust my analysis).

A special fact about Mendoza is that it has a high risk of earthquakes. The whole city was last destroyed in the 19th century and there have been 10 more since. That’s why the city has all relatively new, strong buildings with big squares in between the lanes. Everybody is supposed to know the evacuation plan. A bit scary!

I will certainly make a trip to Chile, I’ll be at about 3,5 hours from the border. Of course I can’t leave without visiting Buenos Aires, which is at a distance of 13 hours by bus. I am secretly hoping to be able to combine this trip with a visit to mis uruguachos locos in Montevideo, Uruguay since it is a boat trip of only 3 hours. Last but not least I would love to see el Parque Nacional de Iguazú which is most famous because of its impressive waterfalls. It’s exciting though, I know about 2 people (+ my boss) in Mendoza and 3 in Buenos Aires I can meet/stay with, but for the bigger part I still need to meet my travel companions...

I am all packed while uploading this first blog. Tomorrow I will be leaving for a 24-hour trip from Brussels to Madrid (2h), from Madrid to Santiago de Chile (13h) and from Santiago to Mendoza (1h). Not looking forward to that at all, because I am flying with the cheapest airline possible (which by the way was not even cheap) which from what I’ve heard offers very little space, even during a long distance flight. By the way: IT IS MY VERY FIRST TIME CROSSING THE ATLANTIC!!

One last note: the hour difference CET – Argentina Time is 4 hours. It’s gonna be difficult not to be able to call mom every second I need cooking-advise, haha…

Let’s close off with some funny Argentinean vocabulary!
You (singular) = vos (Oh my god! There is really no escape now!)
Boludo/a = (literally big-balled); means something like twat or asshole, affectionate or aggressive form of address, depending on tone of voice
Chabón = man, bloke
Ché = friend, mate, hey you (greeting someone)
Encurdelarse = getting drunk
Estoy en pedo/tenía un pedo = I am/was drunk
Mina = girl, in tango-literature it describes a gangster’s moll, now used for all young women
Potro = a cute guy (very useful)
Fifi = fashion-conscious man
Trasnochador = someone who stays up all night (like a lot of Argentineans)
Viejos = parents

I love you all!!!! Big kiss!


P.S.: Maybe some of you wonder why I am writing in English, this was requested by some of the friends I’ve made in Spain. I will do my best to write in proper English!

Posted by ElenaMaria 19:10 Archived in Belgium Tagged argentina mendoza culture_shock internship wine_tourism adventure_tourism crossing_atlantic

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