A New Year

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It’s been a long time since I last updated.

Since I last posted on this blog, I’ve had many incredible experiences. One of the most exciting of those was my visit to the Cataratas de Iguazu, or Iguazu Falls as we know them. Some of the largest waterfalls in the world, Iguazu lies at a crossroads between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The trip to see the waterfalls was not simply amazing because of the excitement that comes from travelling, or the presence of my fellow exchange students, but the sheer and utter magnificence of the falls. Having seen photos before, I thought I knew what I would be seeing, assumed that the falls would be great, cool, fun- but they were so much more. Standing on top of the highest fall, Garganto del Diablo, (the devil’s throat), feeling misty spray being whipped on to you by the wind, and looking straight down hundreds of feet of nothing but water, all with a rainbow overhead, words like great and cool and fun leave your vocabulary. The trip to the waterfalls really put in to perspective for me how much I enjoy travelling, and truly showed how powerful it is to physically see something. Photos and stories of Iguazu Falls, and I’m sure other phenomena, are nothing in comparison to the actual physical beauty of the place. The jungle surrounding Iguazu was not only beautiful, but filled with butterflies- butterflies literally are everywhere near Iguazu. Myself and the other exchange students were able to go ziplining, nature hiking, and rapelling down waterfalls in the jungle a few miles away from the falls. The dirt is a beautiful red in Misiones, the province of Argentina were Iguazu is found, named after the missions built by Jesuits hundreds of years ago in the area. Our visit to an abandoned Mission was really interesting, and opened up a page of history to me that was totally new. In all, the 20+ hour long one way bus ride to reach Iguazu was totally worth it- it was one of the most beautiful places I think I will ever have the privilege of visiting.

Another great experience I’ve been continuously enjoying since my last update is the awesomeness which is summer. Seeing as Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere, I have been sitting in 90+ degree heat while watching spanish newscasts commenting on the insane cold spell hitting the USA right now. I have to admit, I’m not jealous at all of you guys. I’ve always loved summer, and at times like this I’m incredibly content and thankful. Along those lines, I had my first summer holidays here in Argentina. Gone were the stockings and sweaters and hot chocolate usually associated with Christmas- instead there was cheering, fireworks, and power outages because of the over-100-degree heat. Christmas here is relaxed and really family-centric, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I will never think it is anything less than creepy to see bikinis being sold next to a santa mannequin in the display windows at stores. I also spent my New Years Eve in Argentina, in the neighboring city of 9 de Julio with some of my best friends in the entire world- my friend Bernardita who went on exchange to Bishop in 2013, and my friend Natalie from California. It was awesome to show Natalie and her mom Eva around both my city and Ber’s, because seeing their reactions and hearing their commentary on many things I had become accustomed to reminded me of how long I have been immersed in the culture here, and it really set in to me that I am living in another country, speaking another language, and living a different life than the people I have always known.

As a new year starts, I happily embrace 2014. It’s a year I’m going to begin by relaxing, speaking in spanish, enjoying summer, swimming, running, drinking mate, and spending time with people I care about. This’ll be the year I start college, the year I move out (even though I kind of moved out before when I did the whole going to another continent for 9 months thing) and the year my “adult life” begins, so I’m enjoying being a non-adult while I can. I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season, haven’t broken their resolutions just yet, and aren’t too cold.

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