Did Christmas just happen? I’m pretty sure this is the first year of my life I wore shorts and a T-shirt on Christmas day.
A lot has happened since my last blog post. My first semester teaching English at DuocUC in Concepción has ended successfully. It was a good semester, and as I’ve mentioned several times before, I had some of the best moments as an educator happen during my time there.
Rachel and I just got back from a nice excursion to Buenos Aires, Argentina. (We knew we wanted to travel to Argentina sometime during our time here in Chile, but recently decided to go at the end of December because Rachel will be starting an online course that will hopefully launch her into a respiratory therapy program back home.) The trip was a very nice getaway.
In all honesty, it opened our eyes a bit to what we’ve been missing here in Biobío region of Chile. To start our journey, we stayed in Santiago on Friday, July 16 with a friend of Rachel’s who is originally from Ohio. She has been living in Chile since she came to work in the peace corp in the 1960s; she met her husband and has been living in Chile ever since. She took us to some places we had not visited in the few days we were in Santiago when we first arrived to Chile in July. It was a little upsetting to see how most foods were cheaper at the grocery store, and the gastronomical variety was much richer than the stores here in Concepción. (They had cheddar cheese, for Pete’s sake!) We also noted that the colectivos in Santiago were cheaper than our shared-taxi rides are here in Conce, too.
After our overnight stay in Santiago, we caught our Air Canada flight to Buenos Aires. We arrived into Ezeiza, Buenos Aires’s international airport, on Saturday afternoon; the flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires was probably a little less than two hours. We were entertained with our free choice of in-flight movie/TV entertainment and a meal that the time flew by — pun intended. (The airline companies in the United States need to get it together. We have experienced flights with Avianca, LAN, and Air Canada here in Latin America, and each one had a movie, a meal, and a much more relaxed atmosphere.)
On Board the AirCanada flight.
Upon arrival, we found a reputable taxi service that agreed to take us downtown to our hotel; Ezeiza is on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and is about 30 minutes from downtown. Our taxi driver was very nice, and answered our many questions about the city. He offered us a discount service to return us to the airport when we were leaving. He also immediately thrust us into the Argentine accent; it threw our ears so much that we had a little language comprehension issues at first.
On our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel in Buenos Aires.
We found a great deal from Hotels.com on the Hotel Bristol, which we found after we got there was truly at the city’s center — right in front of the obelisk, Buenos Aires’s major landmark. The hotel offered us a wonderful view of the main avenue thoroughfare, El 9 de julio, and was just steps away from the Subte, South America’s oldest subway system. Along with the convenience of location and comfortable, clean rooms, the hotel offered a free breakfast with a variety of freshly-prepared pastries that are even better than the photos present on their Web site.
Sunday night racing entertainment around the obelisk had traffic redirecting outside our hotel.
Buenos Aires definitely has plenty to offer. We took the typical touristy-looking city tour bus, which drove us to various landmarks throughout the city. We enjoyed a few inexpensive steaks in Argentina, and had several good meals while we were in the city. I think the highlighted meal was a trip to an Indian restaurant. Rachel ordered her dish “Indian hot,” but it was barely spicy. (Spicy food is one thing we both have really missed from the States here in South America.) We also found a tenedor libre (all-you-can eat buffet) Chinese restaurant that we visited a few times while in Buenos Aires.
After a week of visiting several landmarks and admiring the abundance of statues, looking for good deals on merchandise in various stores along Lavalle, drinking Starbucks (since we don’t have that in Conce), and resting in our big, comfortable king-sized bed, we headed back for Chile. The view on our return flight was wonderful, and can best be described with the pictures here.