Finally back on track with our trip around the world! Even though being “stuck” in California was unexpected, Adam and I had an excellent time. We were able to meet up with a handful of great people who took good care of us (thanks again Sage, Kristin, Jim, and Mr. & Mrs. Gregg).
Getting off the plane in Buenos Aires took a few minutes for us to get our bearings, because it is such a large city. It is the largest city in Argentina and the second largest in South America with a population of almost 13 million. This was also the first time Adam would be able to put his education to the test and see if all those years of Spanish classes paid off. He passed his first two tests finding a shuttle to bring us into the city from the airport and a nice hotel to stay in for a couple days. We walked around the city getting a feel for it, seeing that most of the shops were closed. Not realizing that this part of the world takes siestas during the day (which I was secretly happy with, beacuse if you know me I love napping in the middle of the day). We ended up walking around a lot during the first day, just people watching. It was great introduction to Argentina for us.
The next evening for dinner we found a great restaurant that came recommended and we were ready to try our first Argentinian steak dinner with a bottle of wine. Adam and I have heard so much about how great the meat and wine is in Argentina, and this dinner did not disappoint. Between the two of us we had bife de chorizo (sirloin), bife de lomo (filet), a small plate of mashed potatoes, and a bottle of Malbec (a wine predominantly made in Argentina).
We didn´t spend a lot of time in Buenos Aires because we wanted to head south to the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile while it was still the middle of their summer. A bus from Buenos Aires to the bottom of South America, a city called Ushuaia, would have taken about 60 hours. Luckily, Adam didn’t sign us up for that. Our first leg of the journey was an 18 hour bus ride to the town of Puerto Madryn.
Puerto Madryn is a beautiful seaside town near Peninsula Valdes, home to sea lions, fur seals, elephant seals, southern right whales, and also another UNESCO Heritage site for us to tick off the list. These whales come here between the months of May and December for mating and giving birth because the waters are more calm than the sea and the water temperatures are warmer as well. Even though Adam and I were there for the beginning of the month of Janurary we still had chances to see whales. I really wanted to see whales because I have never seen one before and because we had an opportunity to see whales in South Africa, but never had enough time. During our tour of Peninsula Valdes we saw many new animals we have never seen before such as guanacos, magellanic penguins, fur seals, and a few elephant seals. Unfortunately we missed the whales, but did get to see the fins very far away of a couple of orcas. The tour was a little bit too much driving around and not enough wildlife, but the penguins were fun.
The next day both Adam and I decided we were ready to take our first scuba dive without being in class and go diving with lobos marinos, aka sea lions! I was so nervous, but our instructor (who didn´t speak much English) ensured me I would be fine. He gave us a run down of the dive and what to expect with these mammals, he also told us that most of the sea lions we see will be female and that seeing a male would be rare. Jumping into the frigid waters (compared to the warm water in Vietnam) was a shock to me at first, and it took me a few minutes to catch my breath. The waters were a bit rough and trying to get my mask on was a bit difficult. After all the little hiccups I had, we descended below the surface. Right away you started to see dark shadows zipping by in the distance, and then right out of nowhere a sea lion is right in front of you! My heart was pounding, first by trying to get used to breathing underwater again, coping with the icy waters, and the new experience of a totally different underwater creature. They were magnificent though! They move underwater so gracefully. The sea lions are curious creatures, always keeping their eyes on you. They blew bubbles just like we did with our regulators, and would even nip at our wetsuits just to be sure what we were.
One sea lion was brave enough to nip at my head, I didn´t see Adam anywhere so I just thought he was tapping me. I looked over to my left and there he was, then I felt another tap on my head… that definitely wasn’t Adam. We found that to be the funniest part of the dive, especially because he got it all on tape with his new underwater camera he had purchased when we were home for Christmas. Towards the end of the dive, Adam swears he saw a male coming near him. He was away from the rest of our group, preoccupied with his new gadget, he says the sea lion approached him and he pet him.A male sea lion can be as large as 9 ft. long and 770 lbs. If I was the one to see that male in the water and not Adam, I would have been terrified.
We were so happy we decided to do this dive, it was such a great experience. We are looking forward to our next dive and for my sake, hopefully in warmer waters. That evening we went to bed early beacuse we were going to board yet another bus for another long journey even further south in Patagonia. Little did we know it would be our longest bus ride ever!