By Open Campus Student, Andraya Parenteau
Thursday evening ended with all of Open Campus students, Block I, packing for the excursion to Bariloche, Patagonia the next day! Friday began very early with me calling a taxi for the four of us who lived in Caballito, porteño neighbourhood, around 6am. It was a good 40minute drive to the Aeroparque where we met up with the group, got our tickets and flew 2 hours to Bariloche! Bariloche is a beautiful lake city in the Nahuel Huapi National Park in the Patagonia region. Everywhere we went, we had a beautiful view of the Andes Mountains.
After arriving, we had a tour of the INVAP facility. INVAP is an Argentine Company that specializes in making nuclear products and space satellites. They actually make many satellites that are launched into space from the United States. After the tour we were able to settle into our hotel and explore the town. We walked around a few artisan fairs and went to dinner at one of the many restaurants near our hotel. After dinner we walked down a lively street with lots of different live music and dancing.
On Saturday, the group went to another city on Lake Nahuel Huapi called Villa La Angostura where we explored the beaches and took a ferry to Bosque de Arrayanes, which is a forest located on an island in the middle of the lake. Arrayan trees are very rare and where we went is the only place in the world you can find a forest of them. The bark in incredibly smooth and a marble-y orange color (as pictured). Also we were told we must hug the arrayanes because they are so cold and it is a good way to cool off! The surface of the tree is cool compared to the heat of the summer sun because of the water retained in the trunk, as these trees can only be found in humid regions on the banks of lakes and rivers. We hiked the island a while, took a dip in the lake, boated back to the mainland and enjoyed some free time. When we returned to the hotel, we freshened up and took to the town. After dinner, we visited the famous Argentine ice cream chain, Rapanui, and got some delicious ice cream. Then we went to Ice Bariloche, a frozen experience. The interior of the bar was kept at -5 degrees C (23 degrees F) and each person is provided a winter poncho and gloves with the ability to grip your glass- which is also made of ice! It reminded me of all the snowstorms I am missing at home in Minnesota... except there was no wind, good drinks, and I could leave the cold behind whenever I wanted to! I prefer it that way.
Sunday was our last day in Bariloche and before leaving we made sure to get in some great last views of Patagonia. We took a ski lift to the top of a nearby mountain, Cerro Campanario, to take in the beauty of the landscape. I really can't type a whole lot about this because it was just so beautiful that all I did was look at everything and try to take it all in. The pictures don't do it justice.
On our way back to the airport, we stopped at the Patagonia Brewery for lunch! I ate my first Argentine steak (Argentina is known for its amazing beef) and a Patagonia Golden Ale. I mostly ordered the beer for the clout as I am still not an avid beer drinker, but the meal was delicious and our table had an amazing view! After lunch, it was time to head to the airport and fly back to Buenos Aires. It was strange leaving Bariloche because I kept feeling as though I was going back to the States, but I still have 10 more weeks fun and exploring Buenos Aires and surrounding regions! It was an awesome week.