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The Rest of Semana Santa

June 1, 2010

Tuesday we did just what I said there was to do in El Bolson. We went to the feria, which was possible the coolest market I have been to since I have been in South America.  It has loads of stuff, everything from food to jewelry to clothes.  I bought a leather purse, some jewelry, and of course some food.  El Bolson has a lot of artisan beer.  So of course we tried some of that as well.  Some of it was really good! Others (like the fruit flavored beer) where not good. After the feria, we went to pick blackberries.  There were tons of them along the road that we could pick.  It took us a while to find the jackpot area though.  I became Tom Sawyer during the walk because I put my blackberry bag on the end of a long stick and the southern accent came out accidentally.  With those blackberries, Tylie made a blackberry crisp desert.  She also made dinner which was an idea we had gotten from Kimberly.  It was really easy and delicious! I can’t remember all of it, but it involved sautéed onions and cilantro and chorizo I’m pretty sure.

Wednesday we left El Bolson.  We had a semi-eventful ride back to Bariloche with our great but timid driver, Alex.  It didn’t help that it was raining.  So when we got back to Bariloche there wasn’t a whole lot we could do.  We decided to go into town and see the chocolate stores.  Bariloche is known for its chocolate and rightfully so.  The store we went to, Mamuschka, was amazing! You go in, take a number, and then when your number is called you get to order whatever kind of chocolate you want.  There was everything from Tiramisu to chocolate with dulce de leche to champagne flavored chocolage.  Of course, I absolutely loved this place!!! If there is somewhere like that in the US, I want to know about it!

Thursday the group decided to split up a little bit. It was getting to be time for us to have some peace and quiet (which is now called “Tylie time”).  The big hike that we wanted to do for the week was to the Cerro Catedral. It is up a mountain to the refuge where all of the climbers spend the night when they are hiking that area.  Tylie and Grant left first before the sun came up.  They got to see the sunrise on the mountain.  Alex stayed at the hostel and hung out on the beach.  Veronica and I then left a little bit later when the rain had stopped.  We spent almost the whole day hiking.  It was a hard hike, but not excruciating! And the view was worth it! Veronica and I were a good pair to hike together.  We hike at about the same pace, and we are really laid back about it.  We stopped a few times for water/bathroom breaks, but I think the hike up the mountain took us about three and half hours.  The hike down the mountain took a little bit longer…we got lost.  We decided to take the lake path back to the bus stop for a different view.  There were no signs telling us which was that was.  So the one sign that we saw we passed.  Turns out we should have followed the sign.  So we never saw a lake, but we ended up back in the town around where we would have been anyways.  After not seeing humans or footprints for a while (only a wild horse), we ran into a woman who told us we were going in the right direction to end up back at the base of the mountain.  The dogs that had followed her then became our guide.  Seriously, we followed him, and we ended up where we wanted to be.  That night Veronica and I tried to go watch the sunset on the lake, but there were too many clouds.  So we headed back for the asado we had at the hostel.  Once again, it was delicious!

Cerro Catedral

Friday we spent time at the hostel and going back for more chocolate in town.  We ended up running into Victor, a friend from the exchange program, which was a surprise to me, but everyone else seemed to know he was coming,  He went with us to the chocolate store and to get ice cream.  Then we squished our group of five into a cab, went to the airport, and unfortunately left Bariloche.  We stayed at a hostel in Buenos Aires for the night to celebrate my birthday.  We met Tim and Kimberly there.  Tim taught us a English drinking game, and we played that at the hostel for a while.  Then we went out to a club in Palermo SoHo.  It was a really good night that did not include much sleeping.

Saturday after sleeping for about an hour and a half, we left the hostel to take the ferry and bus back to Montevideo.  It was good to be back!!! Spending the whole week away made us all realize how much we enjoy being in Montevideo.  We were ready to be back for sure!

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Semana Santa, our version of Spring Break

May 4, 2010

Better late than never…During Semana Santa (“Holy Week”), I went to Bariloche, Argentina and El Bolsón, Argentina in the Northern Patagonia Lake District of Argentina with four of my friends.  Alex, Veronica, Tylie, Grant, and I headed out on the friday before Semana Santa. We took the bus/ferry to Buenos Aires, Argentina and then flew to Bariloche from there.  It was a pretty uneventful trip there, but as soon as we arrived, we realized how beautiful the place we were in was.  Even the views waiting on the bus at the airport were great! We got a bus to the center of Bariloche, and then took another bus to our hostel (It took the help of a really nice Italian couple and a man that works at a kiosk to get us there).  Alaska Youth Hostel turned out to be a stroke of luck as well.  The couple that owns it are super nice! Javi spent about 45 minutes to an hour when we first arrived explaining everything that we could do and answering all of our questions.  That night we went to El Boliche de Alberto, a really good asado place.  We had the first of our many delicious meat meals.  It is surprisingly not that expensive either.

Saturday we hiked to Cerro CampAnario, an incredible look out point.  I got some of my best pictures from there.  I even worked with the panoramic assist on my camera.  So, hopefully when I can get my camera software, I will have panoramic pictures.  I felt like I was in a postcard it was so pretty! Then after our spontaneous dance party, we went back to the hostel to put on bathing suits.  We went out by the lake, on the pebble beach, and ate lunch.  Then we decided to jump in the water.  That may not shock those of you who do not know about this place, but we were jumping into a glacial lake. I’m pretty sure that almost my entire body went numb in the time it took us to take pictures.

One of the many views from Cerro CampAnario

Sunday we decided to go bike riding.  We rented bikes for the circuito chico (“small circuit”).  For me, 33km, including hills, is not that small.  Though it was well worth it for the gorgeous views.  There were view points and a few places to stop along our route (and a little off of it).  Our group, including two Colombians we met at the bike rental shop, went to Colonia Suiza for lunch at another asado place.  Then we stopped at a lake to chill for a little while by the water.  It was an intense day, but it was a lot of fun.  Then we stopped at a cerveceria to get the free artesenal beers that we got at the bike rental shop.

Monday we rented a car to drive to El Bolsón.  Renting a car was a really good idea.  We didn’t have to deal with bus schedules and we could stop whenever we wanted.  So we stopped at Lago Stefan for a few hours to eat lunch.  It was once again just a beautiful place to rest.  Veronica made a friend in a young Argentinian girl whose family was there fishing, and we all just laid around.  We arrived, after a little searching, to our hostel in El Bolsón.  It is probably one of the coolest hostels I have ever been in.  The house we stayed in had a kitchen, one bathroom for everyone, a bedroom with a double size bed, and 6 mattresses on the ground upstairs separated by sheets hanging from the ceiling.  It was like a big slumber party.  There were hammocks hanging all around outside, and places to sit outside of the house.  At our hostel, we met two people who had been traveling for a while.  Tim and Kimberly (from TN weirdly enough) were both leaving the next day but they told is all about El Bolsón: Pretty much you relax, go to the fería, and pick blueberries.  So that is what we did.  For a large portion of our trip, we cooked at the hostels.  So, we would go to the grocery store during the day, get everything we would need for lunch and dinner, and then take turns cooking. Veronica and I cooked a crazy sort of pasta for dinner Monday night. We kind of made it up as we went along, and it turned out really well.

La Casa del Viajero, our hostel in El Bolsón

The story of the rest of the week to come soon, but now I have to go work!

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Cabo Polonio

April 17, 2010

Even though it was a while ago, I wanted to tell everyone about a trip I went on.  One weekend, seven friends and I went to Cabo Polonio.  Cabo Polonio is a remote town in Uruguay that has become a national park because they don’t want anyone to develop it. It has no running water (except some houses collect the rain water) and no electricity.  You have to travel from the bus stop to Cabo Polonio on a huge truck because there are sand dunes that cars can’t cross.  We rented a house and the eight of us stayed there for one night.  There are two absolutely beautiful beaches that we spent the majority of our time on, sea lions, and a lighthouse.  The beaches are so windy that you can put your towel down and ten minutes later barely be able to see it because of the sand. Also because there are no lights, the beach is a perfect place to see the stars.  I have gotten to see some pretty good views of stars before in my life, but these were probably best I have ever seen.  The lifeguard stand became our hang out place for the night because we watched the sunset and stayed around to drink maté and look at the stars.  It is very possible that Cabo Polonio has become my favorite place in Uruguay!

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Montevideo

April 5, 2010

First off, thank you for the birthday wishes! I had a great birthday! I spent it in Buenos Aires on my way back from my vacation in the Northern Patagonia region of Argentina. Secondly, Happy Easter (a day late) to everyone! I hope it went well!

I want to give everyone a vague picture of where I live and what it’s like. So, I decided to do that I should tell you more about Montevideo. It will probably be really random. Just so you know ahead of time.

Top Ten Basic Facts About Montevideo/Uruguay: (You have to know these before I get into the more everyday things)

1. Location: Uruguay is in South America in the Rio de la Plata Region, bordering Brazil and Argentina. Montevideo is on the southern coast of Uruguay along the Rio de la Plata.

2. Population: about 1.3 million in Montevideo and 3.5 million in Uruguay.

3. People: The majority of the people that came to Montevideo when it was founded were European immigrants especially Italian and Spanish.

4. Government: Presidential Republic, President – José “Pepe” Mujica

5. Size: About the size of a medium-sized US state such as Florida or Missouri depending on who you ask and what sources you look at.

6. Religion: Uruguay is the most secular country in South America. It has no official religion.  A large percentage of people consider themselves Roman Catholic but less than half attend church on a regular basis.

7. Random Fact: Montevideo is divided into neighborhoods (barrios), and all of these barrios are the first thing mentioned when describing where something is or where someone lives. The barrios are more than just a geographic location.  They also determine certain characteristics.

8. Random Fact: In 2007, Montevideo was considered to have the highest quality of life in Latin America.

9: Random Fact: The headquarters for MERCOSUR, a regional trade agreement between much of South America, is located in Montevideo.

10: Attractions: Teatro Solis (oldest theater in Uruguay), Mercado del Puerto (market, steak restaurants, musicians, etc.), Museums, Plaza Independencia (big plaza in Old Town has many historic sites), La Rambla (sidewalk that runs along the beach), and more

Have a great day!

Sarah

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My home away from home

March 21, 2010

I have probably been the worst person at keeping up with my blog. I keep starting posts and I never have time to finish them. So first thing I want to do is let you know about the house where I am living and the family I live with.

I live with the Carzolio family in a house of nine people. Eduardo and Laura are my host parents. Laura used to be a teacher. She does everything she can to make us feel comfortable here and make the most of being in Uruguay. Eduardo was a lawyer, minister of elections for the Uruguayan government, and a law professor. He still does some teaching at the university occasionally. He pushes my Spanish as much as possible. He is completely sarcastic and jokes around constantly. He also tries to give lectures like he is teaching sometimes. Laura and Eduardo have three sons, two of which live at the house. Pedro and Rafael are in their mid to late twenties. Rafael is working and in school and Pedro is a film producer. They are both really nice even though I don’t see them that much because they are really busy.

Apart from the family there are five Americans living in the house this semester. Rachel lived here last semester, as well, and has become our expert on all things Montevideo. She shares the casita (big room behind the house) with Alex. Tylie and I share a room inside the house, and Colin lives in a room above the kitchen. Colin, Alex and I go to La Cátolica, Rachel goes to Universidad de Montevideo, and Tylie goes to La Republica. Everyone has been getting along really well, which is really nice because we all get to hang out with each other. There are also two guys who are over here a lot because they live with Laura’s sister. Edmund lived with Laura for three months before we all got here, and Nick is a good friend of Colin’s. So they come over more than anyone else.

the four girls (Tylie, Rachel, Me, and Alex)

So I have been told my posts are too long and  I should go do some homework. I will put up pictures of my house and my room soon, and I will keep updating! I am going to try to get better at this. I miss you all! I hope everything is going well!

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Quito

March 3, 2010

First of all, I have safely arrived in Uruguay. Secondly, I am sorry it has taken me so long to post! I haven’t been able to use my computer much. It has either been at Rachel’s house in Quito or I haven’t had an adapter to charge it.

So on to what I have been doing for the last week and a half. I arrived in Quito, Ecuador the Thursday before last. Leigh and I left Memphis and about eleven hours later our plane landed in Quito. We went through immigration, got our bags, and went outside to find Rachel who was supposed to be meeting us at the airport. Even though they were a little bit late, it was great to see Rachel and Peyton when they got there! The reunion I’m sure was pretty hilarious for any Ecuadorians watching! There was screaming and hugging involved. After Peyton negotiated our taxi price, we went back to the hostel to get checked in. The hostel we stayed at is really nice! It’s still a hostel, but it has showers with sometimes warm water, free breakfast, clean beds, and really nice people that work there. I haven’t figured out how to add pictures yet, but I’ll try to figure that out soon.

Friday we woke up, and Leigh and I repacked our bags. We took the valuables and the extra stuff to Rachel’s house.  It made moving aroundin our room a lot easier. Then we went to La Mitad del Mundo (The middle of the world). I had been to the museum for La Mitad del Mundo before but never the more commercial part of it. The more commercial part is a big monument sort of thing that marks where they thought the equator was before GPS. It has little shops and cafes around it. We took pictures there, and then went to the museum part of La Mitad del Mundo.  The museum is really interesting. Our guide showed us things about the indigenous cultures that used to live around Quito.  Then he showed us some demonstrations to prove that we were on the equator. He showed us that our resistance is a lot less on the equator, that water spins different ways depending where the basin was in relation to the equator, and he showed us how hard it is to walk a straight line on the equator. We also got the chance to balance an egg on the head of a nail.

Friday night we went out in La Plaza Foche with Rachel, Peyton, Megan, and Scarlett. It was a lot of fun. We got to meet some of the people we had been hearing stories about.

Saturday morning we woke up and all 8 Ole Miss students went to Mindo, a town in the cloud forest. We stayed at a really cool hostel. My favorite part was the room with hammocks! I am starting to really like hammocks, and I hope there is a way to put one up in my condo next year. In Mindo we went to go swim in the river and see waterfalls. After being given instructions in Spanish, I went down a really fast slide into the freezing cold water! Saturday night we celebrated Will’s birthday. As a surprise, the girls went into town and found a cake.  We then put matches in the cake like candles and let Will blow them out.  That night we played a Mexican dice game with a Canadian couple at the hostel. Sunday we went ziplining. It was amazing!!! We were able to zipline over huge valleys and see incredible views! Then we hurried back to catch our bus back to Quito.

Monday Leigh, Austin, Will, and I went to three of the highest places around Quito. We went to El Panecillo, a statue of Virgin Mary on a hill in the middle of Quito. From there you can see a lot of the city. Then we went to have almuerzo (lunch) in Ciudad Vieja (Old Town). After lunchwe went to the basilica. I climbed to the top of the tower.  It was scary climbing up and down but the view was definitely worth it. Then we went to the Teleforiqo. The Teleforiqo is like a really big ski lift. It takes you up to the top of the mountain, and then you can hike around and see different views of Quito. We actually did quite a bit of hiking.

Tuesday we went to campus to see where everyone goes to school and eat lunch with Rachel, Peyton, Scarlett, and Megan. Austin and I went early in the morning so that we could go to Rachel’s class with a teacher we had when studied in Quito. Claudia’s (Claudia is the teacher) class was a lot of fun! Once she recognized us we talked to her a little bit, and we got to watch Rachel’s presentation about Juanes songs. The USFQ campus is really pretty and I’m glad I got to go back and see it. After we got back from campus and Rachel’s house, I went to spend the night with my host parents from Quito. It was great to see them! I got there and they made me pizzas. We ate the pizzas, worked on fixing Jesús’ webcam, and watched tv.

Wednesday morning, I got to sleep in at Jesús and Maria’s. Then I finally got the webcam to work. I even got to show them how it worked by calling a few friends. After lunch, Jesús took me to La Plaza de Torros (the place where they have the bull fights). We ended up getting our own private tour from a boy who wants to become a bull fighter. It was neat to see how all of it works. We saw where all of the bulls stay, where the bull fighters get ready, and even went into the middle of the arena. Wednesday night, Leigh, Austin, Will, Rachel, Scarlett, Marcos, Peyton, and I went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in La Mariscal. It was not a great restaurant, but it was still nice to see everyone the night before we left.

Thursday we woke up, packed our stuff, and hung out around La Plaza Foche.  I met Nayla and Anita (friends from the last time I was in Quito) at Quicentro. I was so glad I got to introduce them to Rachel! They are super sweet and I hope they all can hang out this semester! I miss them! I hope they can come study in the US sometime. After we left Quicentro, Rachel and I had to race to get my bag from our hostel, get back to her house, repack my stuff, and get me to the airport. I started getting nervous about leaving everyone on Thursday! It was going to be weird leaving them all to go to a country full of people I did not know. It meant  A LOT to me when Rachel realized how nervous I was, she decided to take me to the airport! We had a tearful goodbye and I began my journey to Montevideo. I am finally going to post this and I will tell y’all about my trip and my first few days in Montevideo in my next blog.

I miss everyone so much! I love you all and I hope everything is going well for you! Send me emails and facebook messages to let me know how everything is going for you!

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WWOOOOWWWW!!!!

February 18, 2010

I leave TODAY! I cannot believe that it is finally the day to leave. I am so excited/nervous/sad! I am going to miss everyone SO MUCH! At the same time, I can’t wait to get to Quito! Leigh and I leave Memphis today at 11:30am and arrive in Quito at 11:02pm. I’ll let you know how it goes! Wish me luck!