For our final adventure in Mendoza, we just absolutely had to go horseback riding in the Andes. Through our hostel, we booked an excursion with Los Pingos, a ranch that offered a three-hour horseback tour in the mountains and then an asado (Argentine BBQ) dinner with plenty of wine. To anyone going to Mendoza, I would definitely recommend this, but only if you aren't faint of heart.
Because our excursion didn't start till 4PM we decided to go see some statues in one of the large parks in Mendoza. Turns out that there was also a huge celebration for Dios de los Ninos going on in the park at the same time. It's basically a celebration of children, hence the name meaning Day of the Children. There were kids and their families everywhere.
|Part of the Dios de los Ninos celebration.|
The most interesting part about the horse ride was that unlike in the United States, they just put you on a horse, experienced or not, and let you go. This lead to some pretty confused participants desperately trying to do what they had seen in the movies to make their horse go. Also, this is why I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a fear of horses because yours may very well end up running.
|Luna stuck close to her friend Pecky|
My horse's name was Luna and at first she didn't seem to want to behave. But after about 5 minutes, she seemed to realize that I had some idea that I knew what I was doing (and I should, after all, those years of riding lessons, thanks, Mom and Dad).
Unfortunately for some other students their horses caught on really fast that they had no clue what was going on and they kind of did their own thing, unaware of the riders desire to follow the group.
After a three-hour hour ride, ending in a full-on sprint of most of the horses riders still in tow, we got to sit down to the best meal I've had yet in Argentina. Basically, you eat bread, drink red wine, and eat steak. I think I was in my own personal heaven.
When the meal was done one of the guachos (Argentine term for a cowboy) serenaded the group in both Espanol and Ingles. By this point the red wine had been flowing quite freely, which seemed to inspire us with the courage to use or Spanish speaking skills. Though it was probably very rough I attempted to speak in Spanish the whole rest of the night, as did all of my friends.
|Some of the girls!|
Unfortunately, I was commenting on how much I liked one of the guachos to my friend in Spanish and he definitely understood me. If I had said it in English I probably could have avoided the whole awkward situation. The worst part is that I'm thrilled that he actually understood my Spanish, which means I'm improving!
Overall, the whole day was amazing and an experience I don't think I will ever forget. Mendoza is and will probably always be, my own personal version of heaven. Despite all the mishaps I managed to have. What truly defines your study abroad is not where you go to live, but the things you choose to do with living there. And I couldn't be any happier with my choices.