Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mendoza Misadventure: Day 1

Because so many things happened during the Mendoza trip that I want to talk about I'm breaking it up into a three part series. Be sure to check back for Day 2 and Day 3

The Mendoza trip was going to be our group's first big thing to do on our own. Instead of going through the travel agency at our school, we opted to do it ourselves which turned out to be much cheaper. The only problem with doing it on your own is, well that you have to do it on your own. And when it comes to doing things solo in Espanol for me, trouble always follows.

Due to our various different schedules I didn't go with the rest of the group to purchase my bus ticket. A couple days before we were supposed to leave I made the trek to the bus station and tried, unsuccessfully, to book a ticket for the same bus. I managed to get a ticket though for a bus about two hours earlier, so waiting around for them wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Nothing could ruin this.

After arriving at Mendoza, after the 16 hour bus ride I just waited around in the terminal reading a book on my Kindle. Right on time, at about 1PM my friends showed up and we had the joyful reunion that only white girls that haven't seen each other for 24 hours can have. In my excitement, I accidentally left my brand new Osprey backpack my parents had got for me sitting on the bench I was on. After walking for about 5 minutes, I suddenly realized that my backpack wasn't on my back!

The gang hanging out at the hostel, smoking hookah.

My friend Jess and I ran back to the bench I was sitting on only to find nothing there. I had that uneasy feeling that I wasn't going to see it again. We desperately asked in broken Spanish if anyone had seen a turquoise mochilla. In the end, we were directed down the police station to file a report. The officer spoke zero English and seemed really frustrated that we weren't understanding his rapid Spanish. He eventually got someone from the Mendoza tourist center on the phone that somewhat spoke English. They took my name and where I was staying but gave me little hope that my bag would be recovered.

Inside was everything I had brought for the trip, relatively new Chacos (fancy sandals), clothes, toiletries, and my extra money. I thought I was being smart dividing my money up in case I got pick pocketed. But it never occurred to me that I would lose my entire backpack! The bright side was that my passport, cards, glasses and cell phone were all in my purse which I still had. Those would be a lot my difficult to replace than some sandals and sweaters.

The outfit I rocked the whole weekend.

So with only the clothes on my back I decided I was going to still enjoy my weekend regardless! Between a trip to the supermarket and the generosity of my friends I was able to get what I needed to make it through the next 4 days. Granted, I wasn't exactly looking my best in, but that wasn't what mattered.

I had a moment at the hostel when I was about to call my mom and tell her what happened that I was about to cry. I wanted to feel sorry for myself for losing all my cool gear I had bought specifically for coming to Argentina. But that's when it dawned on me. I didn't need all that stuff to make this trip great. While a fancy daypack is more durable than a Walmart bag, it doesn't make my trip any better. I didn't need to be the fully outfitted backpacker to be a backpacker.

My mom also had some really great words of wisdom for me. She said that I'm a writer and what better material could I possibly have than my own misadventures. If my trip went perfectly as planned I would have nothing to write about!

As I've mentioned before, studying abroad continually teaches me new life lessons that I never excepted. In a way, losing my stuff is made the trip better. I've learned to care less about material possessions and more about enjoying the moment, even if it is in the same shirt I've been wearing for the past 3 days. I still strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and if nothing else, this whole mishap has given me some great writing material!

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