‘El fin de viaje es el principio de otro’

‘El fin de un viaje es el principio de otro’

Cuando me quedé en un hostel en Salta, en unas de las paredes estaban estas palabras. Significaron mucho para mí, porque era el fin de mis viajes -solo tuve 2 semanas más en Argentina antes de mi regreso a Nueva Zelanda.

El fin de un viaje es muy raro -te sientes feliz porque vas a estar en tu hogar, con tu familia, con todo lo que se extrañó durante tus viajes, pero también te vas de un país, un nuevo hogar, un lugar que contiene tantos momentos buenos.

Pero la verdad es que, sí, cada vez que termina un viaje es solamente el principio de otro. No se puede pensar en el pasado todo el tiempo, encontrar los momentos buenos es tu responsabilidad. Todo el tiempo he escuchado, ‘espero que tengas el mejor año de tu vida,’ pero en mi opinión, eso no es algo bueno decir. Yo creo que cada año debería ser mejor que el anterior, que deberías vivir cada día en vez de vivir una vida en que la juventud era la mejor parte de tu vida y desde ahora es solamente una calle vacía hasta la muerte. Por supuesto que van a ser épocas difíciles, pero tu vida es tu vida, y puedes llevarla a donde la quieras llevar.

Podría pensar en mi tiempo en Argentina y sentirme triste cuando pienso que nunca voy a tener esas mismas experiencias otra vez, pero no voy a hacerlo. Voy a recordar todo lo que conocí, todo lo que aprendí y todo lo que hice. Pero también voy a recordar que puedo hacerlo otra vez. Ahora tengo amigos allá, puedo hablar castellano, y lo más importante es que sé que mi vida está en mis manos. Quiero tomar la decisión de viajar todos mis días, y cuando digo viajar, no lo digo literalmente, sino que todo lo que haga durante mi vida, va a ser una aventura. Y lo más importante- que estoy contenta de hacer todo lo que hago.

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‘The end of a trip is the start of another’

I stayed in a hostel in Salta and on one of the walls were these words. They meant a lot to me because it was the end of my travels- I only had 2 weeks left in Argentina before my return to New Zealand.

The end of a trip is a weird time- you feel happy because you’re going to be at home, with your family, with all that you missed during your travels but you’re also going to leave a country, a new home, a place that has so many good moments.

But the truth is, yes, each time a trip ends, it’s only the start of another. You can’t always dwell on the past, finding the good moments is your responsibility. I always hear the words ‘I hope you have the best year of your life,’ but in my opinion this isn’t a good thing to say. I believe that each year should be better than the last, that you should live for each day instead of living  a life in which your youth was the best part of your life and from there is only an empty road until death. Of course there are going to be difficult times but your life is your life and you can take it where you want it to go.

I could think about my time in Argentina and feel sad when i think that I’m not going to live these same experiences again, but I’m not going to. I’m going to remember all the people that i met, all that i learnt and all that I did but I’m also going to remember that It’s up to me to do it all again. Now I have friends there, I can speak Spanish and the most important thing I have is the knowledge that my life is in my hands. I want to make the decision to make every day a journey, not literally but rather make everything I do in my life an adventure and the most important thing- that I’m content in all that I do

4430 hours in Argentina and 1 to go

Sitting in an airport- especially an international one is never not filled with emotions. Those emotions that you can’t define because how can you possibly mentally digest the fact that you’re leaving the place that you’ve been in for so long, that has become your home, and your reality! My life in New Zealand feels like a dream now but I know as soon as those wheels of the Boeing 777 touch down on Auckland runway it will all come flooding back and the last 6 months will seem like a very vivid dream, one that you wake up from and realize you still are exactly where you were when you went to sleep but a little different in yourself because you’ve had that new experience.

Through all the ups and downs of this crazy experience I’m left with a feeling that I am right where I should be. Both literally and mentally. My heart hurts to leave all the friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had. Also knowing that part of my life is coming to an end, for now, is pretty hard to take, but that’s how I know I’m ready.  I’m not leaving too soon that those bonds- with the people and the place weren’t formed, or leaving to late that all I want is to get on that plane and get out of here.

It seems crazy to me that I’m leaving from exactly where I arrived 4430 hours ago. With a group of 10 kiwis and 3 Aussies all unsure of what our time here would have in store. I don’t want to be cheesy and talk about how much I’ve changed,  because I don’t really know if I have but I have realized one thing. Before coming here I took absolute comfort in the fact that I would be travelling with 13 other people because I felt like I could never do it alone. And now, here I am, alone. The most incredible thing is, i didn’t even realize until I got here that this is the first time I’ve flown internationally by myself but now it seems so easy.

Even though it makes me so sad to say it, it’s time to say goodbye for now. But as a wise man once said it’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later, just as I said see you later to New Zealand 6 months ago.  I’ll be back Argentina.

Nos vemos pronto y muchas gracias por todo!

Stella

 

Same place/different place

Isn’t it crazy how 2 similar situations can give rise to 2 very different experiences? If you go back a couple posts I wrote about my time in Bariloche, an exceptionally beautiful part of Argentina. I wrote more about the things to see and do because that was what it had a lot of but it had fewer of the little moments. Fewer of those conversations with strangers from all over the world who then become friends. Fewer adventures, and a lot less time on public transport haha. Both experiences were so amazing, just different.

Put simply this last week was so perfect. It was what I was looking for when I came half way across the world for adventure. My longing for home has faded and I am so grateful for that. Of course it will make it harder to leave when the time comes but I feel that I can fully enjoy what this part of the world has to offer for the next few weeks rather than counting down the days.

Do you ever have those moments when you just feel so warm and fuzzy inside and you smile when recounting the experiences? I hope you do because it’s amazing. I associate it with my 2015 trip to South America, outdoor ed trips , good days with friends, summers in Pauanui and this week. And what do they all have in common? Great adventures and more importantly great people.

If there’s one piece of travel advice I’d give, it would be find a great hostel. With any luck you’ll find some cool people. Stay a few days and don’t be shy to talk! Honestly you can learn so much from people because everyone has their own stories. Everyone has their own experiences and the shared experience of travel breaks down so many boundaries, you find new people, maybe the type you wouldn’t usually talk to or be friends with because no matter the differences, you have something in common- love for travel and adventure.

This trip we also went on a few more hikes (Cerro Llao Llao, would 10/10 recommend- look at the photos to see why) and spent a day skiing, I felt that I fully got the feel for Bariloche after spending more time exploring it on foot and heading up into the mountains and doing one of the things I love to do most, skiing.

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This one is a bit of a shorter one but you already know about what there is to see and do in Bariloche…check out my other post;)

Stella x

Mendoza and Mountains

I always knew that when it comes to travelling things go wrong. I was prepared for it to happen, knowing it was all just part of the adventure but I didn’t expect it to happen before I’d even left! On the morning of the 19th I woke up, looked at my nearly finished packing then picked up my phone and noticed I had an email from the airline company, flybondi, who my flight was with at 7:20 that evening. My flight was cancelled and there were no more available flights for another week!

After a stressful day of attempting to book bus tickets and being charged for 2 rather than one, then having my card blocked by the bank in New Zealand cause of ‘suspicious activity’, I finally had my tickets booked for the following evening. Unfortunately by bussing our 2 hour flight was now a 15 hour overnight journey but at least we were headed to Mendoza.

I can’t say I was surprised when our bus turned up and hour and half late because let’s be honest, that pretty much qualifies as on time in Argentina. I was able to grab a few hours sleep on the bus, even though the heating was turned up to 40 degrees celcius! I don’t know what was up with that but the bus driver must have been cold blooded or something because like, yes it was cold outside but everyone is dressed for winter. Or maybe he was trying to roast us for dinner, who knows, you certainly get hungry on 15 hour bus rides. However I’m pleased to inform you that I did make it in one piece and with only minimal heat exhaustion.

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The first day in Mendoza we decided to do a bit of a hike on Cerro Arco, it was sort of on the foot hills and would have been super easy to get to if we’d got off at the right stop. As it happened, I forgot I’d set my google maps to the nearest town not the foot of the hill and so we ended up about 4km away from where we were meant to be, but by just following the road and going towards the mountains we made it, a nice little warm up before we set off up the mountain. We got to the base of the hill and there were all these people absolutely kitted out in outdoor gear and we were like okkk, is this going to be harder than Google made it out to be haha, but it was fine. Pretty steep but not too long, apparently 4.5km one way. The view from the top was pretty cool too.

I actually cannot explain enough my love for the mountains, they just have a feel to them, with the fresh air. I could literally feel the change as we went up from the city to the mountains and it made me miss home a lot. Memories of skiing and tramping in the Southern Alps with my family and friends, it was nice but also hard at the same time.

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After our wee hike, we caught the bus again. I’d like to say from the actual bus stop but in reality we saw it driving down the road and ran towards it waving our arms but it worked! Back in Mendoza we got off at one of the main squares where there were some market stalls set up and so we spent about an hour wandering around.

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Our intentions for Mendoza were to be busy, do something everyday and get up into the mountain but turns out that’s actually easier said than done. Once we were in Mendoza was when we discovered that we were in fact there at the exactly wrong time of year. Few tourist agencies offered activities in the mountains other than skiing during winter and unfortunately there was no snow so we couldn’t even do that. So the second day was pretty much spent going to every single tourist agency in town and asking what activities they had on offer. This made me so proud of my Spanish speaking skills because I could actually communicate! Finally we found a company ‘Argentina rafting’, that we decided to go rafting with. Shout out to Giselle for giving us a discount for being from New Zealand, if anyone wants to save a bit of money on your travels just tell everyone you’re from NZ.

So the next day we set off on our rafting adventure. It turns out that during that time of the year the river is only grade 1 and 2 Rapids but during summer it gets up to 4+! So it wasnt very hectic at all but what it lacked in excitement, It made up for with the killer view of the mountains and the cool guide we had, along with the other people we did it with.

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One of my absolute favourite parts of travelling is the people you meet. Carlos had some family friends that we went out for dinner with that evening and then they invited us to go wine tasting with them the next day. I felt so sophisticated but a bit awkward because I don’t drink wine, so I just pretended to understand what they were talking about. Like ‘hmmm yes it is very dry’ or ‘wow I can definitely see the colour change indicating the age of the wine compared to the previous one’. Also it would be worth mentioning the absolutely amazing asado we had, I’m just sad at the fact I will probably never taste meat as glorious again.

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Even though my experience in Mendoza wasn’t what I had originally planned for or expected I really really enjoyed it.  In the end I feel like I got a really rich ‘Mendoza experience’, a day rafting, a day climbing a hill, a day wandering the city and a day wine tasting.

And this is only the start of the adventures to come!

Stella

 

Bariloche

Honestly I don´t think I need to write much, the pictures speak for themselves. This place is absolutely breathtaking.

I´ll admit I travelled to Bariloche a little bit cocky, like mate, I know mountains. Mountains are my backyard, my weekend past time, my view from the bus on the way to school. Oh there´s lakes too? Cool, we have them, they´re alright. Don´t get me wrong, I was super excited to get back to something a bit more familiar, feel the fresh air and the freedom of being surrounded by the world. But woahhhh this is something different. These are continent mountains and continent lakes. Peaks bursting from the mirror still surface with shear cliffs, the snow just managing to cling on and pine trees carpeting the hills.

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However, of course this majestic beauty calls to the eyes of the world. Everyone wants a taste of the nature and moutains, and due to this the place is VERY touristy. For me, the man made things and development of a place can take away from the beauty, because you just dont have that same connection to the environment that surrounds you. For example we went on an amazing boat ride on the lake and arrived to a place called Puerto Blest and here they had built a huge hotel and restaurant. I can´t help feeling that we come to these places for a step away from the development of cities, something about these places beckons to us, our insistictive human nature to be close to the world and yet with it we bring our industralisation and ways to make money. Yet I have to just accept it for  what it is, because the reality is I am one of those tourists. Maybe I would prefer to stumble upon a secluded mountain lake during a hike on the paths less tread however beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you think to much about what it could be you miss what is.

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On our way back to the airport my host dad asked my favorite part of the entire trip was and I said this place:

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The picture does not do it justice. This perefctly still lake mirrored the surrounding mountain. It was so silent and still, one of those times where you just want to sit there and feel it all, breathe it in.

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Ruta de los siete lagos:

We drove this famous road on one of the last days in Bariloche. It winds between mountains and lakes from Bariloche to San Martin de Los Andes, passing through Villa Angostura, a prestigous little village about an hour from Bariloche, apparently both the president and the Queen of the Netherlands have their holiday houses there. Unfortunately for us it was simply to cold to properly explore San Martin de Los Andes, you couldn´t be outside without absolutely freezing. The snow made it pretty amazing but I can definitely see the advantage of visiting in the summer, camping out by one of the lakes and hiking in the mountains.

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We were so lucky that it snowed during our time there as we were able to experience Bariloche in it´s full winter glory. It made for some epic snowman building and snowball fights. Also a trip to Bariloche can´t be done without stopping by one of the many chocolate shops. I was really missing my Whittakers chocolate but it made up for it!

Also I haven´t mentioned that Bariloche is in PATAGONIA! I´ve been wanting to visit Patagonia for a few years now after we watched a video of some people climbing there in Outdoor Ed class. Such a dream come true!

Stella

Change of Plans.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, apart from a ton of Spanish, it would be that life is very hard to plan.

I left New Zealand over 3 months ago knowing that I was going to Argentina, I would have 2 placements and I would be back sometime at the end of the year. Yet here I find myself almost 4 months on with a change of plans.

This was definitely not a decision I took likely, I made absolute certain that I was not just being driven by a fleeting emotion and that I truly believed it to be the right decision for me and that is I am no longer continuing with Lattitude. Let me explain.

Almost a year ago I created this blog. I created it to write about the amazing adventures I´d have, the excitement and to write all about how I was living for each day, without a care in the world and that my heart was happy. And man was I so right to think that, but also so wrong. For one, I´ve posted 9 times in 11 months so we can´t say I´ve been writing about everything hahaha but 2. I´ve realised that it doesn´t take a huge change to have an adventure. Let me try and explain this in the best possible way because it´s difficult to walk this fine line about explaining the truth of an experience without sugar coating it and without making it sound awful, when as just about everything else in life it is neither black nor white, and it´s not gray either…it´s just a bit of both.

I’ve tried to write this post many times and each time I’ve been in a different frame of mind which I found really shaped the words I was writing a little too much. However now I’ve had a good amount of time to think about everything. The good, the bad and ultimately why I’ve decided not to do a second placement.

To put it the simple way I guess the placement wasn’t quite what I was expecting. More often than not there is honestly no real need for me to be in class. In a small school, some classes with only 7 students in a class the help of one teacher is more than enough. As the days dragged by and each one was the same it just became more and more unbearable because I didn’t come halfway across the world, spend thousands of dollars simply to sit in a class all day. Essentially it feels as if I’m a student again but without learning anything!

These days in class with nothing to occupy your mind really lets it wander.

I would think of home, of the fun times with my friends and family. Of what I could be doing instead of sitting, bored. Boredom, exactly what I came here to avoid. This gateway of negative thoughts had cracked open and the flood came rushing through. Along with about 2 months of being sick, and little to occupy my mind it was whirling with thoughts and most of all I was homesick. Maybe 4 days out of 7 I would have this weight in my stomach and on my shoulders as a number whirled around my head. 9. I was going to be here for 9 months, 9 months in which the majority of my time would be spent in a classroom doing nothing. I played with the idea of only doing one placement but it was never really serious until one day when I woke up feeling physically sick. I didn´t want to eat and I just wanted to cry and let it all out. Here is something I wrote that day because putting my thoughts into words always helps me process it, i didn´t intend on making it into a blog post but this just gives you a little insight into where my head was at during the worst point

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At what point do you call it quits?

I knew the reality when I signed up for this, well at least I thought I did. I knew homesickness would be factor, that maybe for the first month some nights I might cry myself to sleep but then it would be out of my system and the next 8 months would be fine, I would have found a new home here.

And I have found another home here. I absolutely love it, I guess it is what I expected it to be in that sense but what I didn’t expect what how hard it would be.

Sometimes I feel like I’m homesick more than I’m not. It´s not crying myself to sleep every night but it’s a silent longing in my chest and stomach for home. For my family- those drives home from work with Dad after sport training, meals full of fresh veges while me and my brothers queue up and make sure we are dividing it equally. Runs on the gravel road with mum and those fricken trips to riccarton mall that I disliked, I long for it now.

I long to sit with my friends, watching some stupid movie and the conversation flowing. Those old jokes being brought up and again and again. I want to explore the mountains and swim in the sea. I want to wait for the ferry in the cold, knowing that in under an hour I’ll be back home.

I get stuck in to life here and I forget about all of it, but my brain is distracted and as soon as I’m tired and the conversations switch to Spanish, well that feeling comes back. I’m having a good time here but I had good times at home too.

I’ve never been one who is sad, I guess. I’ll feel that emotion but soon enough I’ll be bubbly and happy and if you saw me now I guess you’d think the same. I laugh because I am happy! I gaze around in wonder and revel in the fact that I can communicate in Spanish. I have an amazing family here that makes me feel so welcome, and I could almost convince myself that they are, but they’re not my real family. Honestly more often than not I have a little tear in my heart. I guess my default emotion of contentedness isn’t quite there, in New Zealand I longed for adventure but I just needed to open my eyes and see what was right infront of me. Now I’m living the adventure but the familiar is what I crave.

So this brings me to the question, at what point do I call it quits?

Because to tell you the truth I’m scared. Not of being so far from home any more but scared that this feeling of not quite contentedness will manifest itself into something more. Can I really afford to let my mental health suffer under the pretence of being brave and sticking it out. Is it more brave to except that I gave it a really good crack, more than that, I actually fricking did it? I can have conversations now in Spanish. I’m more independent. I’ve made pretty huge decisions and here is another one. However I’m scared that as this is a mental thing what if I go home and nothing is how my homesick mind made it out to be. I go home and I’m lonely cause none of my friends are there. I realise that those rides home with Dad after sport aren’t a thing because I’m not playing those sports any more. That Christchurch is actually very boring and I become homesick for Argentina.

However I know nothing changes about seeing my family and friends again.

So will the most important decision I make be, to be brave? Not the conventional brave of stick it out, harden up, but admit that health is what is more important, that happiness and not just being happy but truly content is what I need. And that I know with all my heart that being home is where I’ll find it.

I’m 18, I have more time to explore.

I’m 18 and I don’t think I realised how young I was.

I’m 18 and all I need right now is my home.

Do I admit that I quit?

***

However this story isn´t one of the homesickness getting the better of me and returning back to the familiar simply because the challenge is too great, not that there is anything wrong with that either, rather it´s about making the decision to live the life I want to live. Essentially it wasn´t these negative thoughts that shaped my decision. It was that the situation I was in allowed me to have these thoughts, and that wasn´t ideal.

What sent me half way across the world, to this country, away from everything I know was the thirst for adventure, for a challenge and because I´m a firm believer in living life to the fullest. Yet here I was. Stuck in a class, feeling useless and unhappy. I realised that failing myself wouldn´t be not completing the 9 months, it would be coming home and saying, ´well, that was a waste of 9 months!´.

I´m not at all saying I´ve wasted my time so far, far from it, rather I´ve had that experience and now, whether it wasn´t what I was expecting, whether I was misled, or whether I simply grew out of it, I know that I need to do something else.

Far out, they say you learn stuff from these experiences and I always thought ´mate, I´m not writing a goals sheet of my personal development objectives´ *looking at you lattitude hahaha* but it´s been truly eye opening because I guess I realise that when you are facing a difficult situation, facing it head on and busting through may not always be the best option. I think that was a hard thing for me to realise. As you can see from what I wrote earlier I kept saying ´calling it quits´, and I´ve always had that mentality that I need to be tough and grit it out and if I don´t I´m essentially failing. However choosing a different path is not giving up. It´s simply choosing the best option for you.

So what´s next?

Don´t ask me because, as I´ve just spent the last 1693 words explaining, life is hard to plan. However, I do know that I´ll spend some time in Lobos and after my goodbyes that I know will be so hard, because I´ve met so many great people, made amazing friends and in general really love this place, I will then head to Mendoza and from there spend a couple months travelling around Argentina and Chile which I am very excited about. I do have some travel plans, there is a difference between being flexible and screwed because you have nothing booked.

All I can say is I am so much happier than I was a month ago. I´m feeling so much better physically and mentally and have begun to truly enjoy my time here because the time feels so much more precious.

And I guess I´ll be seeing New Zealand again sometime in September, if all goes to plan (hehehe)

Stella x

Missing home

I know you’ve heard of the big wide world too

the promise of bigger things, better things

Life changing things

So you stand on the shore,

after all has been done and said

The big blue expanse stretching between you and happiness

Adventure with a capital A, is all that lies ahead.

Soon this precious heart that yearns to drift with the breeze

equally it yearns for home,

And to tread those well worn streets filled with memories

familiar ones, with cracks that can be jumped with corners easily turned.

It yearns to scale mountain paths of intoxicating air, up where the keas soar

knowing that at the top it’ll look upon the world it knows

It yearns to look somewhere and say, ‘I’ve been here before’

12 years old

9 years old

5…

4…

This once far off land is seen,

laying draped in clouds, and forever they seem to last

A fog that viels reality

and whispers the best times of the past

Whatever you have here, darling, you’d be happier at home’

And the first familiar thing is this voice, you’ve heard it speak before,

A voice that held a promise of better if only you dared to roam

Rays pierce the cloud, bouncing from one blinding particle to another

It dissipates, slowly but surely

Finally your open eyes are free to gaze around in wonder

They stop looking for better,

And realise what you have,

Well it’s pretty f***ing awesome.

Uruguay🇺🇾🇺🇾

Until I came here I can’t say I’d ever heard much about Uruguay. Infact until today I couldn´t have picked the right flag emoji to put in the title. I’ve never heard the words ‘Oh I really want to go to Uruguay’ or the answer to the question of where someone wants to travel be ‘ Well, Uruguay is at the top of my bucket list!’ Which is a shame because this place is so cool!! I guess it must just get swallowed up in South America a bit, it’s a country half the size of New Zealand smothered between Brazil and Argentina, 2 of the largest countries in the world. Having only been here one night I guess I can’t have too much of a say about the entire country and the things to do outside of Colonia but what I have seen so far is the most beautiful town, full of amazing buildings and cobblestone streets and people that follow the road rules unlike some other countries (I’m looking at you Argentina!) Its so nice being able to cross a road without the imenent fear of death every time you do so. Here, if you cross at the corner, the cars stop and wait for you to cross! It doesn’t even have to be on a pedestrian crossing!

The cobblestone streets and colonial architecture are so amazing and make you feel like you’ve been sucked back in time. With different colour buildings decorating the streets and plumes of vibrant flowers on the trees. Interestingly Colonia was actaully a portuguese colony before it was taken over by the Spanish so there are a lot of portuguese style buildgins too. I learnt that on the tour we did, and it was pretty much the only thing I did learn because the tour was in Spanish. It´s so hard to concentrate on someone talking in Spanish for a full 2 hours and if I zoned out for even a second I´d loose the meaning of the entire bit of infomation!

Another thing I found super interesting here was how the people are even more obssesed with Mate than they are in Argentina, they carry it around on the streets while they´re walking- with a thermas full of hot water under on arm and Mate in the other.

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Stella

Mar Del Plata

*This was originally 2 posts but I thought it would make more sense to just combine them. Hope you enjoy!*

A dream come true:

So I’m on my way to Mar del Plata currently on a bus. The bus ride was supposed to take about 5 hours and it’s been 5 hours and we’re about 2 thirds of the way there because of traffic. I’m sitting on the bus bored. Annoyed at the traffic. Questioning my decision to travel on Easter weekend when I take a step back. I look out the window and think wow. Not cause of the view because it’s just been dry grass since we left Buenos Aires but because I’m in Argentina, travelling. It’s been my dream to travel when I left school for so long and since I came to South America last time it’s been my dream to return and explore more. And I am.

I’m so proud of myself. Like I didn’t put it in the too hard box or say ‘when I’m older’. As we were sitting in the 5km line for the toll box I was thinking what a waste of my day but that’s not even true. It about the journey not the destination right? Like yes I would love to get some food and be at the beach right about now but the very fact that I’m able to be on this bus heading on an adventure is something amazing.

It’s just a little reminder to myself that it’s all about perspective and a positive attitude can work wonders.

Mar del Plata:

Its really hard to capture the essence of an experience within words. No matter how you describe it, it’s difficult to express ‘the vibe’ I guess. This weekend was amazing.

From walking 16km in one day in order to see as much of the city as possible to touch games on Argentinian beaches, it was just one adventure after another.

Argentinians that I had spoken to about Mar del Plata seemed to not have high hopes for our weekend. They just recited about how crowded the beaches are and how at this time of the year the water is freezing. How the city beaches aren’t very nice, not natural. And this was true. The beaches were crowded, but not as crowded as during summer! However for us this was such a cool experience in itself, to have only one square of sand for our space and to be surrounded by other people was very different from what we’re used to back in New Zealand. It gives the place such a good vibe! Everyone is just relaxing, chatting or kicking a football around. I’m not saying I’d like to have this every day but it’s amazing to just be able to see a different way of doing things. In terms of the water being freezing- it wasn’t haha. New Zealand is a little further south than Mar del Plata and therefore we’re used to water even colder. The beaches themselves seemed man made, I’m not sure of the history around them but I might look into it. They were also very commercialised and touristy with umbrellas set out and chairs and little beach couches which was interesting.

The CHURROS!!! So I thought I’d had churros before but I hadn’t. These were churros. Crispy on the outside, light on the inside and filled with he most delicious array of different fillings-chocolate, cream and dulce de leche. Everyone had told us to go to Manolo churros and I’m glad we did. It was especially amazing sitting there eating them on the side of a hill overlooking the sea, having walked for an hour to get there.

The most amazing moment for me however was when we brought a bit of kiwi to Argentina. Having carried a rugby ball through a bus station(cause we didn’t already look enough like tourists haha) it was necessary that we put that rugby ball to use. We brought it down to the beach and were throwing it around but then decided to have a little game of touch so went over to the neighbouring little bay with less people and played as the tide came in, which resulted in soaked clothes, the ball floating on the waves as they surged into shore rather than sitting on the ground and a lot of fun. As we were already soaking we just went for another swim as the sun set and it was so magical. It really hit me just how much my home has shaped me and how it will always be part of me no matter where I am in the world. Also that no matter the differences between places there are always little similarities. For me this evening was a classic ‘New Zealand’ evening. Touch on the beach and swims as the sun sets. You may be far away, may be swimming in a different ocean and be surrounded by a different language but there will always be commonalities as long as you realise home is from within.

Stella

Time and Communication

It is said that time is subjective but I’ve never realised just how true that is before these past 2 and half weeks. If I think about 2 and half weeks during the school year- when I have a routine and each day is the same as the next, possibly with a slight variation in what sport I have on after school or the quantity of homework I have to do- I would think it’s a reasonably short amount of time. However these past 2 and half weeks have felt more like 2 and half months. I guess that’s what happens when you’re constantly learning, constantly having new experiences and most notably constantly concentrating!!

Back in Christchurch I’d come home from a long day and just relax, have a conversation with my brothers, or mum and dad. However now when I come home the challenges are just beginning. At school, here in Argentina, I’m speaking English for a large amount of the day, except with the little kids when I have to explain things in Spanish, however when I get home I speak with my host family in Spanish. Now, this is challenging! Sometimes I find myself listening to what someone says how I would if I was listening to some speaking in English before realising that I didn’t understand a single thing! I can understand however it just takes a lot of concentration and sometimes I just can’t Spanish!

Recently I realised something, that I’ve been saying I know ‘un poquito’ (a little) Spanish for about 3 years now. It’s not that I haven’t improved, it’s just that the more I learn the more I realise I don’t know. I think I’ve graduated from knowing just a little now, but still I prefer to keep people’s expectations low so they don’t come at me with some rapid fire Castellano. When I have time I’ve just started saying ‘yo puedo entender pero es más difícil para hablar’- I can understand but it’s more difficult to speak. Because that’s the truth of it!! Never judge someone’s ability to understand a language by the amount they can speak!

Another thing I’ve come to realise about languages while I’ve been here is how inpatient and rude some New Zelanders can be to non-english speakers! I’ve maybe encountered one person, serving at McDonald’s who spoke to me super fast and then got annoyed when I couldn’t understand but the majority of people are so incredibly patient and helpful. They want me to learn their language and know that I’m not stupid I just don’t speak Spanish fluently. However sometimes they don’t realise that I could in fact understand the words if they just spoke slowly! I guess that brings me to my next point- how incredibly kind and friendly everyone is!

This is a culture full of hugs, kisses and saying hello to strangers(not in a creepy way). Every time you great someone it’s with a kiss on the cheek, no matter how many people there are everyone will welcome and farewell everyone that way. For example, at the end of the school day at the primary school the principal stands at the door and kisses every single student on the cheek! Well, there are only 130 of them but still. Also the other day I went to the shop and every time someone would walk in they’d say hi, not only to the person at the counter but also to all the customers lined up to pay and the same when someone left! I’ve been told that this is more the culture of Lobos and that it would not be the case in the city however all the same it’s just so lovely.

Also the other day I started volleyball(known as Volley here). I was so nervous because, well, I didn’t know anyone, I don’t speak the language that well and I didn’t even know how to play volleyball. However, it was the only sport here I could play cause apparently girls only have the option of hockey and volleyball and insurance rules out hockey so Volleyball it was. Anyway, I was standing there for maybe 1 minute before a girl comes up to me and starts talking to me and asking me questions and they were all like that! So friendly and didn’t even care that I didn’t understand half of what they were saying, they were just so happy to teach me how to play and ask me questions about New Zealand. I was actually pretty decent at it thankfully.

This is already pretty long so I think I’ll write a different post on the food here, my typical day and where I live!

Thanks for reading x

Stella