When I pictured my study abroad experience, I didn’t imagine that I’d be spending most weekends traveling outside of Buenos Aires. But when I got here, everyone kept telling me about all these must-see spots in Argentina, as the country is composed of a diverse smattering of landscapes and natural wonders. And what do you pass up? The waterfalls? The wineries? The glaciers? The penguins? Somehow, I’ve managed to see almost everything and this weekend I explored yet another one of Argentina’s top destinations: Puerto Madryn. Home to sea lions, penguins, dolphins, whales and elephant seals, the region is a paradise for animal lovers.
Accompanied by four fellow Northwesterners, I took an 18-hour bus ride to northern Patagonia. Between bus tours, whale watching boats and snorkel excursions, we had an incredible weekend filled with animal encounters. The most memorable activity was snorkeling with sea lions, although this couldn’t be captured with my camera since we were immersed in water. The unexpectedly-graceful creatures swam all around us, their blubbery bodies coming close enough to touch. The water was so cold my muscles kept cramping up, but the early morning adventure was worth it.
And of course, Halloween was this weekend. I’m usually the type of person who plans her costume for weeks with an abundance of enthusiasm, but unfortunately Argentines don’t celebrate the holiday. Some clubs in Buenos Aires hold Halloween events as an American novelty, but the tradition isn’t part of their culture. Hence, our Saturday evening was costume-free, though we did our best to celebrate. I was a little disappointed to miss one of my favorite holidays, but when I think about the experiences I had in Puerto Madryn, I realize no amount of costuming or candy could be as memorable as my weekend turned out to be.