This past weekend, my study abroad program took our group on an excursion to the end of the earth. It was not only different than any other place I have ever been, but different from any other group trip I’ve ever experienced.
We flew out Friday morning, for some reason both our flights were full of turbulence, so I’m thinking it must be that Antarctic air. We arrived at a pipsqueak kind of airport, like what you’d have on Cape Cod or Nantucket, and it was literally blizzarding. Trying not to be too much of a downer (because this was obviously not what I signed up for when I chose to study abroad in “tropical” Argentina), I hid my tears behind sunglasses and made unrecognizable noises of disapproval as we boarded the bus.
From there, we drove to our hotel, which consisted individual little cottages, in which my group received a lofted suite. This excursion required us to cover our own meals so we hiked to the grocery store and bought excessive amounts of empanadas. The day got exponentially better when we were able to go on our boat tour of the Beagle Canal even though the weather was threatening. I’m telling you we literally went to an Island of Penguins… I spent most of the time squealing. Also I thought I might be getting frost bite when my hands weren’t responding when I tried to take pictures, but they were fine, eventually. Casually the coldest I have ever been though. (If you’re geographically curious, the Beagle Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is at the very tip of Argentina.) We were so lucky to go on the boat tour, it was incredible with all the snow and the waves shaking the boat. I listened to Requiem for a Dream in an attempt to find music epic enough to match our actions. Also it would’ve been pretty damn cool to say I died in the waters of the Antarctic listening to Requiem for a Dream.
That night we made a potluck dinner, which in fact didn’t come together until midnight and resulted in a kitchen full of eight girls laying on the heated floors talking about their parents divorces and the black sheep of their respective families. Having nothing to contribute, I fell asleep, although I did find all of your stories inspiring and enlightening (don’t be offended!)
The next day we went to the national park (WHERE I GOT MY PASSPORT STAMPED WITH PENGUINS IN LOVE). Also, the weather was beautiful and I didn’t even need a jacket… like what is this world? Damn global warming. The park was breathtaking: full of rich woods, open water, and snowy mountains. It was green-screen material.
Oh god, that night, the whole group gathered in the boys suite, where we played the drinking game “Herman Kill-a-Brew.” It’s one of those games where if you say the name “Luke Bryan” the next person has to say “Billy Bob Thorton” and “Tom Cruise”, and so on and so forth. The game began with 8 of us, going well, competitive but fun, but quickly went to shit when the rest of the group arrived. It really wasn’t their fault, but they didn’t know the names we’d already said and their minds weren’t primed in celebrity mode so it was taking them a very long time to come up with names. I’m sure you know where this is going: Alexa and I quickly hopped on the Bandwagon with the boys, yelling and demanding people just be better. I started singing my favorite song while we waited for one name: “I hate everyone all the time”, its actually an original. We knew we were getting too competitive and needed to remove ourselves from the game but it was obviously addicting. Eventually, in a lul period, someone declared the game over, to which I yelled all the names I had complied that hadn’t been said. Then we returned to our cabin where the girls ate packets of Dulce de Leche and I fell asleep on the couch (like always).
For our final day in Tierra del Fuego, we spent it being real tranqui while most of the group went on some hike which I obviously didn’t have proper gear for. We went souvenir shopping, ventured for more passport stamps, and ate a delicious King Crab lunch with our program director.
While the city of Ushuaia reminded me a little of old Quebec, with its slanted roofs and cobblestone streets, the port is like nothing I have ever seen before; the combination of water and mountains is truly incredible.