Below are pictures from the immigration station at the top. Doesn't it look like an entirely different planet?
1. I was suited for bus rides. Perhaps this was because of all the long car rides we took for family vacations. Perhaps it was because I love watching the scenery go by without having to drive. Plus, South American buses were pretty sweet. Videos, drinks, even a steward to make sure you didn't miss your stop.
When I first arrived, I did what I always do in a new place. I just laid back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I find that 10 or 20 minutes of this is enough for me to push away my feelings of panic and lonliness and to motivate myself to explore (and by explore, I mean, wander around the hostel).
After lunch, I took a wine tour that included an olive oil factory and a family-owned liquor/chocolate factory and two wineries. The tour group was really wild, and half the guys were doing shots of absinthe which I believe is banned in Europe for turning artists crazy.
The next day, I went on a white water rafting adventure--the first class three river I had ever tried. When they gave me a wet suit, helmet, and life jacket, I knew this was going to be very different from the tame rivers from family rafting trips.
In the photos below, I'm in the back on the left side of the boat, next to the guide. I had the best time, and I can't wait to go again. It was the perfect mix of fear and excitement. I'm at the very edge of this photo. Others are not pictured because the front end is completely covered with water.
I made friends with the girl we're holding in this photo, along with the other women in this photo. They were German, but luckily, they spoke English and Spanish so we found a common language. After a beautiful drive back to the hostal (see below), we went out to dinner together.