Chapter 1: Indoctrination

Eli Snyder
March 3, 2020

Before my studies with IES Abroad officially began, I sought to discover the truths of the place that had occupied my every wandering thought for the past year. 

I began my journey south with a three-day excursion to the beautiful Valley de Uco and its gateway city, Mendoza. My time in Argentina’s wine country was spent with leisurely days of gallivanting around the region’s some one-thousand-and-counting vineyards, riding caballos throughout the arid landscape, and gazing over vistas of dry soil, vegetated wineries, and relentless Andean peaks at the backdrop. At night, I had the pleasure of being treated to traditional parrillas orchestrated by storied locals, as the fire served as the main event and time dissipated into nonexistence. Chatter hummed around the flames as a simple ensalada was passed around, followed by pollo and queso empanadas, a perfectly-cooked beef sirloin, and for the grand finale, alfajores. Stars danced in the night sky over moments that surpassed my wildest dreams and served as the consummate baptism into Argentine culture. 

After three days, I hopped on a plane even further south to San Carlos de Bariloche, one of Argentina’s many gateways to the infamous Patagonia region. I suddenly found myself at 41.1335° S, standing further south than both Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. The moment I walked off the Aerolineas Argentinas plane onto the airport runway, my jaw dropped in utter disbelief at the sheer grandeur of the scenery that laid before me. The prodigiously vegetated mountains, islands, and rolling hills juxtaposed by deep indigo lakes exclaimed the country’s rich biodiversity with tremendous punctuation. Such immense variation in biomes for a country that is almost a fourth the size of that of my own rendered incomprehensible to me-- and still does to this day. Immediately, the languid presence that occupied my time in the wine region took a backseat to an insatiable desire to hike, fish, swim, and traverse every speck of land I laid my eyes on. At just shy of a full week, I had lived as an Argentine gaucho and relished the untamed land as a true Patagonian local. 

And by Day 7, stomach full and heart complete, I had dove headfirst into the bounties of Argentina’s varied landscapes, practices, and peoples. I had been swept off my feet in ways that I could never have prepared for, and was strikingly comforted by the lucid knowledge that I had only gotten my toes wet in the infinite majesty that this country has to offer. Alas, I found myself ready to graduate to the place where all of these glorious phenomenons culminated together in a fashion that defines Argentina more deeply than anything else: Buenos Aires.  

 

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Eli Snyder

<p>I'm currently a junior at the University of Michigan from Kansas, studying International Studies. Ever since I was little, I have been obsessed and driven by travel. Nothing imbues me with greater tranquility, joy, and peace of mind that when I'm traveling, visiting some place foreign to me and everything I know. I knew since I saw the dancing lights of Paris romantically displayed in the 2007 Pixar film "Ratatouille" that I wanted to be moving as much as possible in my life. Since then, I've made it my priority to chase this passion. I've currently traveled to 3 continents outside of North America on 7 different trips, with many of them being self-funded. I plan on chasing this passion for the rest of my life, at any means necessary.</p>

Home university:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Hometown:
Leawood, KS
Major:
International Political Econ
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