08 January 2011

Hace calor. Hace sol.

I have returned from a two week trip to Argentina. Amazingly, this is the only true vacation I get between May 2010-Dec 2011. Yay medical school. Anyway, I returned from a trip to El Calafate and Buenos Aires. Unfortunately time did not allow me to see Torres Del Pine and circumstances prevented a side trip to Colonia, Uruguay, so those will have to be accomplished in a subsequent trip.

In El Calafate we hiked the Perito Moreno glacier; first an hour along the lateral moraine, then four hours on the accumulation zone (complete with crampons) before hiking back out along the lateral moraine again. It's impossible to capture the scale of the glacier with photographs. The weather was fantastic; I did the second half of the hike in just a long-sleeved t-shirt.

We also hopped onto some horses to see the surrounding countryside, which is practically an iridescent shade of green. It's complete with wild llamas and plenty of space for a good gallop or a cozy lunch of steak, onions, wine and havanas.

Back in Buenos Aires we did a little going out, a little cultural enrichment and a lot of reading and relaxing. And eating. There is a lot of great food (especially ice cream), but interestingly, no peanutbutter to be found. Anywhere. There might have been a little shopping in there too.

Going out in Argentina is a bit crazy because, in general, dinner is between 9-11pm. No one arrives at the bars or clubs until 2-2:30am and then people stay out until sunrise. Needless to say, that's not my usual schedule so it took a little adjusting too. As did coming back (to surgery and 5:15am pre-rounds). We went to a local, unmarked bar to shoot some pool, a swanky foreign bar, spent a night learning to tango and hit up a hip-hop club, complete with break dancing and dance crews.

Overall, I was surprised by how European the city is and how good the English is (although a friend who was also there said he had more trouble with the level of English). It's definitely a place I would enjoy returning too and there are plenty of stunning landmarks I missed: Mendoza (wine country), Iguazu Falls (natural wonder) and the previously mentioned Torres Del Pine. It also reinforced the fact that I absolutely must learn Spanish. It is an extremely useful second language in medicine and in travel.

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