Italy. Germany. Russia. China. Spain.
There are a lot of places for people to visit; everyone has their own preferences for a destination.
This spring, there is a trip to Argentina that is open to any and all students, parents and friends who want a change or just want to travel.
This is a once in a lifetime trip to see a large and geographically diverse country, with the Andes mountains on the west side of the country, the tip being close to Antarctica, and being surrounded by ocean.
The trip is a 9 day trip scheduled for April break of the 2017-18 school year, and will cost each person roughly $4,200.
“From my perspective, when I think about Argentina, I think if it as very different, very unique from a lot of other countries from Latin America and other Spanish speaking countries, I think in terms of its geography. If you think about [how] a country still has glaciers- Patagonia is part of the land [and] country that is supposed to be just unbelievable in terms of its beauty,” James Thurber, a Spanish teacher and trip chaperone, said.
Some of the destinations planned are Buenos Aires- the capital of Argentina, Iguaçu (pronounced ee-gwa-sue)- one of the world’s largest waterfalls, and many different districts of Buenos Aires like the city of Tigre (tee-ger-ay).
“Much of the tour will be in the capital city, Buenos Aires. Beyond that, we are going to go to the waterfall Iguaçu. We are going to go to a region of Buenos Aires called Tigre, which is “tiger” in Spanish but it’s like an old port city that’s become a really bohemian area with lots of shops, arts and things like that… I don’t know where the Fiesta Gaucho is going to be, but it would be outside of the city, I’m assuming,” Thurber said.
The trip will incorporate hands on activities and demonstrations.
“We chose this company because they include in the itinerary educational activities [and] workshops- things that students are able to learn by doing; to learn about the culture by doing things, so for instance, [in] that Fiesta Gaucho, they are going to be able to participate in that fiesta by doing things in the fiesta. They will be doing a demonstration, and after they make a demonstration about their practices, we are going to make a dance- a specific dance- and they will be doing some other activities that we don’t know [as of right] now, because it is sort of a surprise for us also,” Olga Saldarriaga, a Spanish teacher and the trip advisor, said.
Now, who can resist watching some world famous tango?
“They will be taking a tango lesson and they will be learning how to dance tango, and for sure they are going to make [for us] a demonstration of a tango dance, and then [the students] will be practicing the steps,” Saldarriaga said.
According to travelsur.net, Gauchos (a common name used for Argentinean cowboys) used to be bad news in the 1600s. They gained respect when rebelling against Spain in the 1700s, and slowly disappeared from then on. Today, they are an important part of the traditions and cultures held within Argentina, as they hold some of the deepest roots.
“In a broad sense, [our goal] is to encourage students to become global citizens; to develop a love of traveling and mainly to be able to use the language skills [and] the cultural knowledge that we learn in [a classroom] setting and apply it to the real world,” Thurber said.
Saldarriaga and Thurber also wish to get something out of the trip themselves.
“I have never been in Argentina. That’s one of the reasons we all chose Argentina. We teachers love to learn from traveling [as well]. It is not because we already know everything about the world. We are learning with the students. We are expanding our cultural knowledge. We are expanding our global awareness along with the students, the parents and whoever comes with us,” Saldarriaga said.
Due to never being in Argentina before, there are always some expectations that each person has.
“I imagine Buenos Aires, for instance, a very European type of city because [there is] so much influence, and they have huge, beautiful monuments and buildings- very similar to the Europeans. I imagine a big city. I imagine also a landscape that will be very contrasting between the Andes Mountains with the plains because there is a vast amount of plains… I imagine that geographical contrast, and we could imagine more geographical contrast if we could have gone farther south to see the glaciers and the penguins and the very far away part of the planet that’s almost into the South Pole and more into that Arctic landscape. And also the falls, so we’re going to see jungle. The falls are in the middle of the jungle. [With] the huge falls, we are going to see a lot of green, but it isn’t going to be green like the plains, but a totally different green. We are going to be experiencing a very contrasting landscape and geography, and that sounds very interesting,” Saldarriaga said.
Thurber echoed Saldarriaga.
“I imagine more [of] like the open plains; I would imagine more of the landscapes and so forth of Argentina and sort of that tradition. That’s what comes to my mind, at least, when I think about it,” Thurber said.
Everyone has some sort of highlight that they are looking forward to, but teacher’s (and maybe even parent’s) highlights are very much different from that of a student.
“I just love to see the students when they’re fully immersed in a new [culture]; just seeing you guys really exposed to the world. For a lot of people this is their first time going to a completely foreign country or continent, so just seeing that sense of wonderment [and] that sense of amazement in the students is a highlight for me,” Thurber said.
Of course, there are always things that everyone needs to be careful with, and each hazard is unique to each place that you visit.
According to the article Top 10 Travel Tips for Argentina, depending on your location water can be questionable. Bottled water is the best option for a nice drink.
The article also advises that you be discreet with electronics and other important items in Buenos Aires, for there are many pickpockets looking for a good snatch.
For safety, it is advised that you be careful in traffic, as many people do speed with their vehicles. The sidewalks are often cracked and littered with dog waste, so be watchful.
This reporter’s personal experience with EF Tours on a previous BFA trip was positive, with pretty good service, and an emphasis on safety.
If you’re interested in participating in the Argentina trip, or have questions, feel free to contact Olga Saldarriaga and/or James Thurber.
James Thurber: [email protected]
Olga Saldarriaga: [email protected]
The trip has been moved to next school year to allow parents more time to make the payments necessary for them and/or their children to participate on the trip.