September 1, 2010

Photo Dump

Here are a few photos of the last month here in Bariloche! The weather has been crazy- constantly changing from being sunny and warm to snowing to more sun to rain.... I've done some of the best snowboarding of my life only to be followed by a week of the mountain being closed or the base being muddy and snow-less. It has definitely been an adventure! Enjoy...

Took a break from snowboarding on a warm day to walk down to the beach near the house:

Sunset on a clear night:

Hike on a trail near my house to an "enchanted forest." These trees are called 'arrayanes' and are only found here in Patagonia and in New Zealand:

A few pictures of base area of Cerro Catedral, the ski resort here in Bariloche, after a huge snow dump (10 feet at the top!):

Our easy access backcountry... with a short 30 minute hike from the top of a chair lift, you are at the top of "La Laguna," a playground of chutes and bowls that always has the best snow! You can also always find already built jumps:

CHICAS ONLY! Last weekend was the annual girl's only park event... after tons of snow and avalanche danger in the park, the park crew built us our own park at the base of the mountain. The theme this year was 80's style, and everyone got decked out. It was part clinic to learn how to do tricks, part competition, and part to just have fun. The sun was shining and it was BUENA ONDA all around:

July 19, 2010

Nieve nieve nieve!

It's pretty cool to wake up every morning and think "WOW I can't believe I freaking live here, it is so ridiculously beautiful." And yeah, that's what I think every day. I can't even begin to capture Barioche's beauty with a mere photograph. To grasp the vastness of the lakes and mountains here, you have to come see it for yourself! Snowboarding during the day and returning home to a colorful Patagonian sunset and a glass of Malbec is something I could get used to!!

So about my life here... I am living with my friend Shannon from UCLA, who returned to Bariloche for her second winter season here (you may remember I stayed with her when I got to Argentina last September). We are house sitting for our friends who happen to have an awesome, huge, SICK house with a 180 degree view of the lakes and mountains, complete with a floor-to-ceiling window and deck to enjoy it. It also happens to be for sale along with the 2 other casitas on the property, check out this link for photos and info! The view from the living room:

I am doing some volunteer work with POW (Protect Our Winters), a nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing global warming with an emphasis in winter sports. Started by a pro snowboarder, POW focuses on making ski resorts more sustainable and educating people in mountain towns. They have decided to expand to Bariloche, and yours truly is now the satellite office here! Besides passing out stickers and working at events, we are in the works of starting a widespread recycling program here. Very few people are conscious of sustainability- there are few reusable goods and there is trash everywhere from littering (I don't even remember the last time I saw somebody deliberately throw a plastic bottle on the ground in California!). We have tons of ideas and it is great to have support and financial backing to be able to put them into action!

We have been lucky with the snow so far, and it is predicted to be an El Nino season WOO!! They have recently opened the entire mountain, so my only plan for the next couple months is to snowboard as much as possible!!!

Last week we took a trip to Pucon, Chile (mostly to stamp my passport again). Pucon has the most active volcano in South America, Volcan Villarica. What would you do with an active volcano? OBVIOUSLY build a ski resort on it!

Riding through the natural lava-carved half pipes while smoke is billowing from the top of the peak was crazy...

It got even more loco when there were 3 earthquakes the next morning! Needless to say, we got the hell out of there!

But first of course we ate all the fish we could get our hands on and had a field day in the grocery store buying teriyaki sauce, peanut butter, and every other foreign food that Bariloche does not have (side note: Argentina has strict import laws, meaning it is difficult/expensive to get non-Argentine food and products. Plus, we are in the middle of Patagonia so we get even less variety.)

Then we returned to Argentina through the region of the Seven Lakes, which was a beautiful drive.

We stopped for a few nights in San Martin de los Andes to stay with friends and snowboard at the resort there, Chapelco. It was a fun and exciting trip, but I am happy to be back in my new home! Argentine snowboard premiere parties and reggae clubs until 8am keep things exciting, but it is the tranquility and walks around the corner to see a different breathtaking vista that makes me love it here so much!

Famous Hotel Llao Llao, a 10 min walk away:

Until next time...............

June 18, 2010

Chau Buenos Aires... it's been fun!

My last couple months in Buenos Aires were spent taking in the city in my favorite ways: walking around the cobblestone streets, enjoying the parks and cafes, and partying. a lot. I felt like I had to take advantage of the late-night-to-early-morning clubs before becoming a recluse in the mountains, so it was justified.

But when I woke up midday, I made sure to tie up all my loose ends in BA which included seeing all the touristy places I had never been to and buying the necessities for my upcoming snow adventures (well, the leather boots are not for the snow but I couldn't pass them up!).

Argentina had it's own party for the country's 200th birthday. The city closed down the largest street, which is 20 lanes across, and built exhibitions & stages for concerts & dancing. On the final day of the 4 day bicentennial celebration, there were almost 3 million people in the area! Check out these pictures from

I have very mixed feelings about leaving the city that has been my home for the past 8.5 months (crazy right?). On one hand, I have had an incredible experience here and have met some friends that will last me a lifetime. I have gotten used to the lunfardo, or slang, which won't do me any good if I am speaking Spanish to somebody from any other country, but it sounds cool so oh well.

On the other hand, I am ready for a change. The hustle-bustle of the city always kept me on my toes, but I have really been missing nature. I am so excited about moving to Bariloche to enjoy the fresh air, see the stars, eat lots of yummy chocolate, watch incredible sunsets against snow capped mountains and lakes, and most of all to SNOWBOARD!!!!

I don't have too many more new pictures of the Buenos Aires, so I'll leave you with some shots from my 2nd trip to Colonia, Uruguay in May. I had to get my passport stamped to renew my tourist visa (again) so my friend Jenny and I took a day trip! It is always nice to get out of the city and explore...

Coming soon...... photos of nature's paradise a.k.a. San Carlos de Bariloche!

May 17, 2010


It was my first stop in Argentina and it will be my new home from June until the snow melts... Bariloche is a cool mountain town with a lot of German and Swiss influence (think lot of St. Bernards and chocolate) that has some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see. We were lucky enough to stay in a friends' log cabin with a gorgeous view of the lakes/mountains, and all the neighbors helped us with everything we ever would have needed. The Argentines (in general, but I have noticed it more outside of the city) are extremely generous people. They want to help you in any way they can, and they will call everybody in their phone book to hook you up in some way, shape, or form!

Our backyard:

Our first stop, Cerro Campanario, has some of the most magnificent views I have ever seen. The lakes go on for MILES and they are all different shapes and colors. You can see mountain peaks in Chile from here, and luckily the first dusting of snow happened the night before so it was even more picturesque.

The next day we took a boat excursion to Puerto Blest. We walked to Lago Frias, which is a bright sea foam green color due to the minerals from the nearby volcano. We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Then we walked up a bunch of stairs to this waterfall "cascade" thing that wasn't really that cool. But it was a fun, adventurous day nonetheless. For dinner we had a 7 course meal at a restaurant called Butterfly which consisted of soup in shot glasses, fish with faces, and lamb cooked for 16 hours. It was super gourmet and super delicious!

The next day was probably my favorite day of Mom and Dad's whole visit. When I was 15 I wouldn't believe you if you told me that a mere 8 years later, my favorite day of a trip would be spent in a car with my parents for 7 hours... but it's true! We drove all around the national park region of Bariloche. We passed tons of lakes, rivers, rock formations, and brightly colored trees. Without music. Or drugs or alcohol. Who would've thought huh?

As for an update on my life.... I will be moving to Bariloche in early June for the winter. I don't have a job yet, but I am hoping to be a waitress, bartender, or snowboard instructor (none of which I have any background in with English, let alone Spanish, but I think it will be a learning experience!). Since I am leaving Buenos Aires soon, I have convinced myself that I need to take advantage of the party scene because it will be a real change moving to a mountain town. This "last hurrah" is similar to my schedule when I initially arrived in BA, and involves going clubbing at least twice a week. Why not, right?

Oh p.s. people- I am not sure what my internet situation will be like when I move (not sure if my lake house will have wi-fi) so skype me while you can! xo Raquel OUT

Vino Country: Mendoza with the Padres

Apparently there is a song about Mendoza in the fall, and now I know why. The crisp air and the vibrant colors of the leaves against the background of snow-capped mountains is really a beautiful sight. And let's not kid ourselves... the wine was awesome!

The trip started when our plane got delayed a few hours so then we missed our connecting flight and then the next plane we got put on was delayed again... and when we arrived in Mendoza we found out Mom's bag had been sent to Brazil. BUT that didn't mean the next 2 days (a.k.a. the last few days of Mom and Dad's visit) were ruined.

We spent our first day in the local wine region of Maipu laughing at the name and riding bikes to different wineries. It was a 9 km trip along narrow roads with big trucks wizzing by, and it's a miracle that more drunk backpackers don't get hurt. There are a bunch of wineries along the way, and you can pop in for tours and tastings for the equivalent of about $4 at each one. Some of the wineries were old and traditional from the 1860s, and others were super modern, but I would have to say I enjoyed the vino at each one.

We got home with the help of the bike rental lady chasing after us and screaming at us for about 5 minutes because we rode too far, thanks to Dad's slight misreading of his iPhone GPS (he must have been pretty buzzed at this point because we all know about his map reading skills). Anyways after a nap we went to the most amazing parrilla (Argentine bbq). Seriously if you are ever in Mendoza you have to go to La Barra- it was the best meat I have had in this country, and that is a pretty hefty claim.

After a trip to the casino, we got a good night's sleep in order to wake up early and....... go wine tasting again! This time we got a ride about 2 hours outside of the city close to the base of the Andes.

The region: Valle de Uca
The winery: Salentein
The vibe: sophisticated
The wine: really good

After a multi-coarse lunch in the middle of the countryside, we headed to the airport and back to the big city. Mom and Dad had one more day in BA but because they were such super-tourists the first week, they had already seen all the important stuff. We spent their last 24 hours eating meat, drinking wine, and walking around- my favorite things to do in Buenos Aires :)