After an amazing trip to Bolivia and a tiny hiccup in our travel to Argentina, I was finally in the country that I would spend the last 2 months of Remote Year in. Month 11 would take place in Córdoba and month 12 would be in Buenos Aires. For this post, I am going to combine month 11 and 12 into one blog. Argentina is a beautiful country and the combination of that and the final months of this amazing journey made the last 8 weeks memorable on several levels.
Horseback Riding in Córdoba Countryside
The first weekend in Córdoba we had our first track event, which was a day trip about an hour and a half outside of Córdoba to do some horseback riding. This would mark the second time I have gone horseback riding on Remote Year and I was stoked that it would be a whole afternoon of it. We met in the morning and there was a large bus for our group, that filled up, and so I got to ride in the car with our guide Cesar and his son Maxi. This made for a great way to practice Spanish and gave Cesar a chance to practice his English. Maxi was 6 years old and mostly spoke Spanish and only knew a few words in English. It was great to talk to him and practice my Spanish. Now Maxi was either funny, or simply couldn’t understand me when I spoke in Spanish because he responded to one of my questions I asked in Spanish, that he didn’t understand English. I blame it on Argentinian Spanish being different than regular Spanish and not my lack of Spanish skills. We chatted throughout the drive and finally arrived at our destination. We all got out, and breathed in the fresh country air. The air was brisk and it was a beautiful fall morning. After a little bit, they brought the horses out and we began the process of getting on them and getting ready to ride. By chance, I got a small horse. When I say small, I mean small, practically a pony. I got on, and realized that if I fell, it wouldn’t hurt too bad, as the ground was not too far from me. Once everyone was ready, we started on the trail and trotted through the mountains. It was relaxing, and peaceful. All the horses were different, so we were all scattered throughout the trail. We went for a while and came to a river pass, where we got off the horses to give them a break and allow us to stretch and explore a little bit. We hung out there, and then got back on the horses and started making our way towards our lunch spot. Our hosts were waiting for us when we arrived for lunch and had made a full feast. In Argentina, they love meat. I somewhat knew this going into my time there, but it wasn’t until I had my first meat meal there, that I got it. We had a great meal, we sat outside, chatted, and took a load off, while the horses did the same. The food was great, and after we ate, we ran around with our friend Maxi. It was now time to get back on the horses and make the trek back. Our guide had decided it was time for me to switch horses as he could see that I looked uncomfortable. My new horse was much bigger, and it was nice to feel like I wasn’t at a child’s birthday party riding a horse. The rest of the trek was great, we trotted a little bit and got back to our starting point. We said goodbye to our awesome leader, who was kind and patient with us the whole time. We got back in the car and made our way back to Córdoba. Maxi was tired this time and fell asleep on the way home. Cesar pulled over a few times and we got to grab a few photos of the countryside. We got back to Córdoba, said our goodbyes to our guides and wrapped up our Sunday.
Club Atlético Belgrano Fútbol Match
I couldn’t go to South America without going to a fútbol game. Luckily, there are some soccer aficionados in my group and we organized a large group to check out a game, with some major help from our city manager Cotí. The game would be between Belgrano and Talleres Córdoba. The game was on a Saturday at 4:30PM. One of the interesting things about this match was that only fans of the home team were allowed. This made it easy as to who we were going to cheer for, which was Belgrano. Like Europe, there is no alcohol served at the game, but you could tell as you were walking in that people were having a good time before the game started. The stadium holds about 28,000 people and there was not an empty seat in the house. The stands are filled with paper, and the fans that sit there, rip the paper and throw it at different times during the game. They also hand out blue trash bags, that people blew up and waved around during the game. I have been to a lot of sporting events in America, and this was unlike anything I have ever seen. Both teams playing were not highly ranked, but the people of Córdoba were very dedicated to their teams and it showed at this game. The opening of the game started with blue smoke bombs being thrown out which filled the air with light blue smoke. The game started and crowd was into it the whole time. The major section of fans had drums, signs, and banners that they would release from the top rows and stretch all the way out across the section. I thought, oh that was a cool thing to do, then it happened several more times, each time with a different sign. As I mentioned, these fans were diehard. During the game, we noticed the attention of the crowd shifting to the stands. We were taken back, as you didn’t think fights would break out amongst fans of the same team, that was a wrong assumption. It turns out there was a fight and one of the men involved was running, trying to get away, the other guy he was fighting with chased him, and as he was trying to climb over the rail to get away, the guy caught up to him, and flipped him over the railing. He must have fell about 25-30 feet, and as it turns out died from the fall. Here is a link to one of the news stories about it: here Other than seeing the guy fall to his death over the railing, it was a fun match and a great way to experience how locals are dedicated to their teams.
Bajada San Jose
One Saturday we met in the morning and made our way to a city bus. We got on the city bus and took it to a neighborhood in Córdoba that was a lower income area. Each Saturday a group called Bajada San Jose brings together the children of the neighborhood, provides them food, helps them with their schoolwork, and organizes activities for them to do. The main activity they focus on is Rugby. They teach the kids the rules of the game, do drills, and try to get them to learn it is something they could play. The kids were all awesome, and welcomed us with open arms. We got there and sat in an open room full of tables, the kids all pulled out their school work and showed us what they were working on. It was another great opportunity to talk in Spanish and they could practice the English they had been taught in school. I sat and talked with a group of kids, and we had a blast. Once that was done, the activities started, and some kids did crafts, some did dancing, and some played Rugby. The people of the neighborhood came over to the field, and I had a talk with a couple of local guys, who asked me a bunch of questions. Luckily, I had some help getting the questions translated. We were there until about 1PM or so, we were told we needed to leave the neighborhood as it gets a little bit dangerous once people start getting up and around in the afternoon. The experience gave me a different outlook on a lot of different things. It was inspiring to see the people of Bajada San José doing all in their power to give the children an opportunity to be a part of something other than the typical activities of their neighborhood.
Easter in Argentina
The Sunday of Easter marked another holiday in which our group would be away from home for. It was decided that we would have an Easter picnic. This was organized by my girlfriend and we did a potluck in the park, played games, threw a Frisbee, and once again enjoyed each other’s company when we couldn’t be home with our families. Like all things with Remote Year, everyone did an awesome job and it was another successful holiday get together.
Bus Ride to Buenos Aires
Before we knew it, it was time to leave Córdoba. As you can read above, I had some great experiences there, but I was ready to leave. My apartment was in a busy party neighborhood, and Wednesday-Saturday from 12AM-6AM there were a few clubs in the area blasting music and I really struggled to sleep and get into my groove there. When it was time to get out of Córdoba, I was ready. Our transportation to Buenos Aires was via bus. The ride was going to be about 10 hours. We got nice buses with reclining seats, and we made our way to the final stop of our amazing journey. The bus ride went quick, I watched some movies, and next thing you know we had made it to Buenos Aires.
Apartment in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires would mark the first month in which we would not have roommates and be in studio apartments. A large amount of people in our group were in a hotel, and I was in another building about 15 mins away from that. My apartment was awesome, and was a place I would like to live in. It was small, but just the right amount of space and was near a lot of awesome restaurants and cafes. It was a great place to call home for the last month and one of my favorite apartments from the whole year.
Bomba Del Tiempo
Our welcome event in Buenos Aires was one that once I heard what it was, got me very excited. We were going to see a drum show called Bomba Del Tiempo. This was a show that was outside and consisted of a bunch of people on stage banging drums. They said no two shows are ever the same. We got there and there was a ton of people there. The venue was an industrial building and we packed in and watched the show. It was awesome and me being a huge drum fan, it was awesome and one of my favorite welcome events we had on Remote Year.
Sickness in Buenos Aires
The first week in BA, a bug got me and put me down for the count for a few days. I was weak, had a hard time breathing, got a fever, and just didn’t feel good. Maybe it was a year of traveling finally catching up with but it knocked me down for a solid three days. I luckily received some great care from a special lady and by the 4th day, which was a Sunday, I was ready to get back to normal life, and head to a track event in a town called Tigre.
Symphony in Bueno Aires
I have always loved the symphony. I played the violin and piano as a kid and have always been drawn to classical music. I had heard there were some beautiful theaters in Buenos Aires, and so I had the urge to check them out. If you read my last post about Bolivia, I had mentioned my girlfriend and I met another couple while on a walking tour in La Paz. Well, they happened to be in Buenos Aires when we were there, and we decided to catch up with them. We threw out some ideas, and agreed that the symphony would be the activity we would do. I got some tickets, and we met up before and had some red wine, and caught up on their travels since we had last seen them in La Paz, they had some great stories to share. We then headed to the symphony and enjoyed a night of amazing music in a beautiful theater. The theater was an amazing site and all the space was filled with beautiful and detailed décor. The sound was amazing, and it was a great night. We parted ways with our friends, and wished them luck on their last few weeks of travel before they headed back home to London. If you ever get to BA, I highly recommend checking out Teatro Colón, it is a beautiful place.
Sunday in Tigre
Weekends on Remote Year are for Track Events. This event would mark my first and only Track event in Buenos Aires. For this event, we would meet at our workspace and hop on a bus to a city called Tigre. The plan was to take a boat ride, and get to a place where we could do watersports and stuff, but the weather had other plans. A rain storm moved through and we had to decide if we even wanted to go to Tigre or do something else. We decided to do it, and see what would happen when we got there. We took the bus out there, and when we got there, there were some clouds, and it looked ok, but you could see it might rain in the distance. We took a boat ride for about 15 minutes to the spot where we would spend the afternoon. We had lunch, and then shortly after that it started to rain. The rain was a blessing in disguise, as although we didn’t get to do any of the water activities, we just hung out, talked, played games and relaxed as the rain danced on the deck of the restaurant. It was a chill day, and turned out to be a great event even though it didn’t go exactly as planned.
Argentina Polo Day
Does anyone want to spend a day watching, and playing polo, while eating meat, and drinking wine? Is what the Slack post read. How could you not say yes to that? The stage was set and one Saturday while in Buenos Aires we would head to a farm about an hour outside of town and partake in a day of Polo, Food, and Horses. I was not sure what to expect, but I must say the day was amazing and completely exceeded my expectations. We arrived at the farm in the late morning, we were welcomed with homemade empanadas and wine. The empanadas were so fresh, and the best I had tasted in all my time in South America. After hanging out for a bit, we made the walk toward the polo field. This farm was also home to a polo club and they were going to play a match for us. This would give us a chance to see how the game is played and give us some inspiration for when it was our time to play. I had never seen polo in my life, especially live, so I was more than thrilled to see the game going on before my very eyes. After the match, we walked over to the barn, and hung out as the players relaxed after the game. After that, it was time to enjoy the marvelous feast they had prepared for us. It was a wonderful Argentinian meal that consisted of a variety of meats, vegetables, and of course wine. The meal was great, and I was stuffed, and had a full belly and plenty of energy to get on a horse and play a polo match. We then put on our polo jersey’s, shin guards, and helmets, and made our way back to the polo field. We got on our horses and the match began. It was so much fun, we are a competitive group, and although this was not the fastest paced game, we all had a blast trying to win. We played for over an hour and it made me want to play polo again someday. Around the time we were done playing, it was sunset, so we took off our polo gear, stayed on our horses, and took a sunset ride around the farm. It was peaceful, and beautiful. At one point the way the sun was hitting the autumn trees, it felt like I was in a dream. It was beautiful. I didn’t have my camera with me, but will always remember the way the colors looked on that ride. We took the horses back to the barn, and made it back to the farmhouse, had a nice dessert, and then made our way back to Buenos Aires. One of the guys in our group writes for an online magazine and asked me to take photos for the day to use for an article he would be writing about the day. If you would like to see a professional write about the day and see my photos, you can find the article here. The day was amazing, and if you are ever in Buenos Aires, I can’t recommend this activity enough, you can find their website here.
Bagels of Argentina
You are probably reading that headline and thinking to yourself, Bagels? In Buenos Aires? Yes, bagels. There is an expat from New York, who lives in Buenos Aires. He makes fresh bagels and cream cheese and has a stand Thursday-Sunday. On Friday’s he does Bagel Sandwiches. Friday’s and Sunday’s became bagel days for me. He is awesome, and friendly and changes things up regularly, so you never know what you are going to get. If you are ever in BA, and have a hankering for a bagel check out his Facebook page for his schedule and locations here.
San Telmo/La Boca
One Sunday in Buenos Aires, we made the trek to the San Telmo neighborhood in BA. This is the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, and is home to a huge market on Sunday’s. The market has everything you could imagine, and goes for what seems like miles and miles. We walked through, and there was a ton of people making their way through it as well. After we walked through a big chunk of it, we made our way to a neighborhood called La Boca. This is a neighborhood in BA that is known for its vibrant colors. The day we walked through, there was a big soccer game going on, so the streets were filled with fans, and police in riot gear. The fans were lighting fireworks, drinking, hanging out and banging drums as they stood in the street. It was interesting to see and was evidence how serious they are about their soccer matches. We didn’t spend a ton of time there, but it was still a cool neighborhood to check out in BA.
Farewell Party #1
We have a group of guys in our group who became famous for the amazing party they through in the first week in Prague. They were also responsible for the Finca Fest party in Colombia, and put together one more final fiesta for the group. Most our group elected to arrive in style to the party and we rented limos to get us there. All of the limos were old school limos, and we had five of them, we all got in and made our way through the streets of BA to this party. It was quite the scene and we had a blast during the ride. We got to the party and the guys had went all out. They rented a place, and re-created each city we visited in a different room of the venue. They created passports for everyone, and you had to go around and get them stamped as we re-lived the memories of the past year of travel. A major shout out to those guys for putting together one great final party.
Food of Argentina
Buenos Aires is a great city and has an eclectic variety of food. Cordóba was ok, but in the two places, I ate a lot of food. Argentina is known for its steak and Buenos Aires was home to some of the best steak I have ever eaten in my life. They also have a lot of other good food, and it was a good month for the taste buds, but not so much for the belly, but it was worth it. Instead of writing a lot about the food, I will just let the pictures below do the speaking for me.
Remote Year Farewell Event #2
The final week of Remote Year came so fast. The Monday night of the final week was the night for our official farewell event. This was organized by our leaders, and a few people in our group. This was just for our group, and it was a special night indeed. We met at our workspace and hopped on a bus, and were shuttled to a venue about 45 minutes out of town. The venue was a beautiful house outside the city. We were met with a glass of Champaign, and started the night with a toast and an explanation of what the night was going to entail. We were going to be treated to an amazing dinner with 5 different courses from a famous Argentinian chef. There would be presentations, speeches and one fireside gathering that would move me to tears. The food was amazing, we would move tables after each course, so we could sit with different people throughout the night. Between courses, we would go in the backyard, and watch or listen to a presentation. I made a tribute video for our group, one gentleman who has an amazing way with words, put together a poem and photo slideshow, and our resident filmmaker made an amazing tribute video as well. Feel free to check them out below. After we completed our meal, and our MC for the night gave a wonderful speech, we headed outside and all sat fireside. Our resident guitar guru wrote an original song a few years ago, and he played that song for our group as we all sat around him. The song was perfect for the moment, and it almost seemed as if he had written it just for our group, even though a couple years ago, he would have never known he would be in this place. As I looked around at everyone, I couldn’t help but cry, a year of memories, trials and tribulations, came together one last time. It was a moment that will stay with me for as long as I live. You can find the song here. We then received our Darien yearbook that several people in our group worked tirelessly on and created something will allow us to relive the amazing year forever. The night ended and we hopped on the bus, it was a somber bus ride, and everyone sat skimming through their yearbooks, laughing and reminiscing. A group of us then went out and kept the night going, it was a great night and I am grateful for all the work that was done to make it happen.
The rest of the week was spent hanging out, and getting in as much time as we could together. One of the activities the group did early in BA was going to a show called Fuerza Bruta. This is a show that incorporates music, dancing, and a clear tarp full of water. I was sick when our group went and was not able to make it, but everyone said it was amazing, so on the Friday of the last week, a group of us made it to the show and got to check it out. I was not sure what to expect, but it was by far one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen. The production, the creativity, and the music were amazing. The show starts with a group of people singing on stage and banging drums. That could have been the show and I would have been happy, but then it kept going. They use the whole space, and the crowd must move around while they move the stages around. At one point during the show, they cover the side of the auditorium with a tin foil like sheet, and people are dancing around the walls, moving from side to side. At another point in the show, they lower a clear tarp over the audience, fill it with about a foot of water that moves around and the dancers, perform above the audience while using the tarp as a drum. The show ends with the water spraying the center of the audience, if you want to get wet you can, if you don’t you can stand by the side. I walked away amazed and loved it so much. I know it is an international thing, so if you ever see it advertised, you must go and see it.
One Last Party
The final Friday came and after I went to Fuerza Bruta, we were having one last get together with our crew. We would meet at the house a few of the guys in our group were renting, and would sing songs, give hugs, and say our goodbyes. We got a great final group photo and it was a fun night, and was exactly how I would expect our group to end, with everyone having a blast while laughing, smiling and enjoying each other’s company.
The Last 2 Days
Just like that, it was over. The last day of Remote Year. We had to be out of our apartments at 9AM, and would meet for a brunch and start saying our goodbyes. It would be goodbye after goodbye, and one more goodbye. By the end of the day, a bunch of people were gone while some lingered. I didn’t leave until the next evening so I had one more night and day and had anticipated spending it alone. The night everyone left, I got a text from one of my travel mates, I had expected it to be one last goodbye or a joke as he went to the airport. As it turns out his flight was cancelled, which was unfortunate for him, but fortunate for me as it gave him and I a chance to hang out some more. We grabbed a couple pints at a craft beer bar, and then went and had a nice sushi dinner in a small quaint spot. We reflected on the year and talked about the journey home. The night ended, and I was in my hotel and asleep before midnight, which was just what the doctor ordered before my big travel day the next day. The next day I woke up and headed to the BA bagel stand and got one more before departing. It was amazing as always, and after that a few of us stragglers went and did a little more exploring of Buenos Aires. All the exploring was great, and before we had to head to the airport, we decided to have one last steak before we left. Like all steaks I had in BA, it did not disappoint. After the steak, we grabbed our bags, grabbed an Uber and then it was off to the airport. The two friend’s I was with were both heading to Houston for their layovers so they were on the same flight, and I was on a different flight headed to Atlanta. We got to the airport, and they were in a different terminal. We had planned to grab one last farewell beer, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I got through security and customs in a breeze and started walking through the terminal. The terminal kept getting bigger and bigger, and there was a long walkway that looked like it connected with the other terminal. I sent my friends a message and said for them to let me know where they are and we can try to get that last beer. They didn’t think the terminals connected and we scrapped the idea. I decided that I would have one last beer in their honor. I ordered a beer, made a couple of phone calls, and then suddenly in the distance, I saw my two friends walking through the airport. I stood up, they were looking my way and I could have sworn they saw me, turns out they didn’t. I grabbed my beer and started following them. I had a pretty idea of where they were headed (the bar I had passed on the way to my gate). Sure enough, I was right and as they started to sit down, I came up behind them and shouted a nice surprise to them. We sat down, and had two more celebratory beverages. My flight was starting to board and it was time to say goodbye to them for real this time. This was it, after this I would be on my own, and this would be my last Remote Year goodbye. It was emotional, but I think between my tiredness, and saying so many goodbyes the last few days, I was just numb to it all. I got on my plane and started my trip home.
The Journey Home
The 10-hour flight to Atlanta was easy, I watched a couple movies, rested my eyes the best I could, ate my airline meal, and eventually landed back in the United States for the first time in 6 months. My transition in Atlanta was easy, I went through customs, I was in my home country for once, so the process was easy. I grabbed my bags, put them through the scanners, and then handed them off again for the final leg of my flight back to Phoenix. I walked around the Atlanta airport, and marveled at all the fast food chains I had not seen in a while. It took all my strength to not go to Chick-fil-a for breakfast. I knew I would be going to my favorite breakfast place in Phoenix and didn’t want to spoil my appetite. I would get by on coffee, and airline snacks to hold me over. The time came, and I boarded my plane to Phoenix. The flight was about 3.5 hours and went by fast. I landed, and was back in the very same airport I was in almost a year to the date of when I had left for this journey. My parents were anxiously awaiting my return and greeted me with smiles and hugs upon picking me up on the airport curb. My first day back would be spent eating breakfast at my favorite breakfast place Butterfield’s and then hanging out at my folk’s place, and meeting my new nephew Finn for the first time. And just like that, I was back to “normal” life. I had no idea of the struggles of adjusting to being back in Arizona would bring, but I will save that for another post. If you would like to see some photos from my time in Argentina, you can check them out at the link below. Thank you for reading.