When Kelsi and I decided to stay in Colombia for a third year our major stipulation (and #2 on my life list!) was ARGENTINA. This is a country we have both always wanted to see while we are here and we hadn't managed to get there in two years, so year three we made it the goal. We went home for Christmas in 2010 with the sentiment of "enjoy us now because Christmas 2011 is happening in Argentina."
And it is happening! TOMORROW!!! By this time tomorrow I will be packed (fingers crossed!), finished Skyping the parents to say Merry Christmas, and on my way to the airport (yay airports during Christmas season!!!) for an overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina via two stopovers in Ecuador.
Thankfully I will not be going it alone with all this traveling as Kelsi, her friend from home Narissa, and my friends/coworkers Rob & Stetson have agreed to join me! Wahoo!!! After some initial difficulties in our planning, things like "how to travel to a country that runs about half the length of the whole continent without breaking the bank or spending out vacation on marathon bus rides?", we got it together, realized you cannot see every part of Argentina in three weeks, and made some executive decisions.
Our trip is now focused on northern Argentina, and we are skipping Patagonia all together. This is sad because I have heard so many wonderful things about the beauty of that region, but oh well, just a reason to reuse my $131 US citizen visa entrance card that is good for ten years. :)
When we arrive in Buenos Aires at 6:10 AM on December 18th we will meet us from Narissa and then head to the bus station for a 20 hour (turns out even the north part of the country is massive!) bus ride to Puerto Iguazu, the Argentinian portal to Iguazu Falls. I have heard great things about these waterfalls situated between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay and also seen stunning pictures, so fingers crossed that it is a good day to go because....20 hours on a bus better = some darn good waterfalls.
After two days of exploring the falls we will head back to Buenos Aires via plane, spend the night, and then head out in our rental car (which everyone but ME, at the age of 24, will be able to drive...probably not a bad thing since my family basically projects the idea to everyone that I am a terrible driver) for 13 hours to Mendoza aka wine country!! YAY! So excited!! While Kelsi keeps talking about our need to train for all the wine tasting we will do in Mendoza, I feel as though our lives are already a training session for this and thus feel 100% prepared. Bring it on, wine country. We will spend Christmas in this adorable little hostel, go on a biking wine tour, and maybe a special Christmas wine tour if we decide its worth the money.
After Mendoza we are headed north in the rental car on what is called one of the most scenic & best road trip roads in all of Argentina from Mendoza to Salta. We will stop in some national parks, do some hiking and enjoy the red rock and canyon filled terrain. From there we are headed back to Buenos Aires via the city of Cordoba and then Rosario (birthplace of Che Guevara!) . Fingers crossed all the driving back to BA will go well and we will be there in plenty of time for a power nap before New Years Eve! Then the entire last week of our trip will be spent in Buenos Aires, staying at this super cute place Stetson found, eating our weight in steaks, drinking more wine, touring the San Telmo Sunday market, taking a day trip to Uruguay, and hopefully getting our tango on!
This whole three week marathon trip will finish with the ultimate traveling challenge - 19 hours of travel through four different countries, including an overnight stay in the Santiago, Chile airport, in order to get back to Colombia for two days of rest in anticipation of second semester! Added bonus, all of our tickets are slightly different so we some of us fly together for some of the time. Kelsi and I awkwardly leave Santiago one hour apart to get to Lima, Peru. Stetson and Rob leave Buenos Aires a whole 9 hours after us and still get to Colombia at the same time we do... awkward. Let's hope we all survive. Can you bring souvenir wine on planes? Fingers crossed.
I am sure about a million things will come up and change, but this is basic outline for Christmas and the start of 2012 in Argentina! Definitely a dream come true for me and I could not be more excited! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday full of peace, love and so much joy wherever you find yourselves in the world.