It was quite random actually. I was sitting in my room pondering what I wanted to do the upcoming weekend. Hmmm…why not a trip to Mar del Plata? I looked up the bus ticket prices as well as a few hostels just to see. It wasn’t crazy expensive..so… why not? It’s only 5 hours away on bus from Buenos Aires..so if anything, I could catch a quick bus back or even a flight. Done and done. My trip was booked. Yes, my first sola trip. It was 3 days before my trip was scheduled and I couldn’t contain my excitement. Was I nervous? Not really… I had such an easy peace about it that I really didn’t give it any thought.
So I wake up Saturday morning and I’m getting packed and ready to go. My bus leaves at 7am and I must leave my apartment like an hour before that at least because I didn’t quite know where I was going. My cab driver obviously didn’t either and dropped me off at the train station. I specifically asked him to drop me off where the buses would depart but I suppose he didn’t know. So it’s like 6:15 and I’m frantically trying to find where the bus station is. I finally find the bus station and I see a row of at least 100 buses pulling in and out as they reach and leave for their destination. Great. Now how am I supposed to find my bus? I approach the information desk and ask which lane I can anticipate my bus in. “I don’t know,” they guy tells me. “That’s not your ticket anyway.” Umm…what? I have the email confirmation and everything on my phone. He tells me I must print it. Annoyed, I rush off to try and find somewhere to print my email. I’m walking back and forth in the station (mind you I have my backpack with my laptop in it which feels like its 100 lbs at this point). I can’t find any ticket machine or anything. I finally asked one of the armed guards where I can print my ticket. After a conversation with several guards (and regular citizens) I finally find a place where I can print my 4 page email for $47 pesos. Kind of a rip off, but whatever. By this time, it’s 6:55 am and I’m sure that this trip just wasn’t meant to be. Miraculously! I made it and started my journey to MDP. I’ll spare you the details of the bus ride…it wasn’t that exciting. I arrive to MDP and everything was seamless. I quickly find the waiting taxis and give them the address to my hostel. I arrive there within 10 minutes and the owner is waiting for me. “You’re alone?” she asks. “Yup, just me.” I tell her, smiling confidently. It’s really cheesy but I already felt accomplished at this point.
She has someone show me to my room and I get a little settled before I head back down to arrange some excursions. I notice 3 youngish black men in the room behind her on the computer. I assume they are her sons or something because their rapport was so easy going. Other than that, I paid them no mind, got a city map, and set off to do some sight seeing. After a few hours of walking around, not only am I famished, but I’m really tired (I didn’t sleep much the night before or on the bus because I was so anxious haha). I decide to chill in the common room since I didn’t have WiFi in my room and I wanted to decide on a restaurant to eat for dinner. The owner is also in there along with the 3 Brazilian guys. I hear someone saying, “hola” and I can tell that they are talking and waving at me with my peripheral vision. I ignore because…well idk. I just did. lol The owner tells the young men that I speak English, so I’m basically forced to say hello. We strike up a quick conversation about why I’m in MDP and why they are and etc etc etc. It turns out that they aren’t Brazilian at all, but Israeli (by way of Ethiopia many generations back). They have just finished their mandatory 3 year stint in the army and are traveling along South America as a vacation! How cool. They were so nice and friendly that I needed up feeling badly that I didn’t want to talk to them at first. It’s not that they seemed scary or anything, I was just planing to do my own thing and didn’t really want to alert anyone to the fact that I was alone.
They invite me to go out with them later that night. I’m thinking in my head…”yeah right.” This seems like a setup from a movie. Taken is real!! So I agree to pregame with them at 11p until we head to the club at 2. My goal was to just have a few drinks with them in the common room and then bow out to my room because I was so tired. That didn’t work. As soon as we sat down for dinner (I got take out and they all cooked together), it was just natural. They kept asking me if I was okay and if I wanted some of their food and everything. They were just so…accommodating. We talked about everything from Kendrick Lamar, to the war in Israel to being black in Latin America. It was excellent. Although I told my friends that I was not going to go out, I ended up going. Again, this is not something I would normally do and I would not advise anyone else to do it, but I felt a peace about going out with them. I knew that they would look out for me. I could just tell.
We arrived to the club on the beach a little after 2. They took care of everything from my entrance fee to my drinks. It was so nice of them. While we often split up in the club, I was never without one of them by my side dancing with me and making sure that I was okay. If an Argentine (or someone who wasn’t one of them) began to chat with me, they closely watched just to make sure that everything was good. We were the life of the party! We got back to the hostel around 6 or so. It might have been later, I don’t really remember. They went to their room and I want to mine. That’s it. No one tried anything other than telling me good night and to be safe on my excursion in a few hours.
Anyway, I had set my alarm for 11 the next day so that I could wake up, eat breakfast and walk the beach before my tour at 2:30p. I was so tired but I quickly got myself together so that I could do all as planned. After a quick brunch, I walked the pier and took photos of some of the views. Mar del Plata is really an amazing city. It’s off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the water was beautiful- not like the dreary gray water I saw in Uruguay. I found myself sitting on some steps with many other people watching a few older couples dance. It was so charming and so sweet! Everyone was laughing, clapping and recording.
After watching, I headed for my tour. The tour was with about 15 other people. We all rode in the excursion van. The tour guide asked (in Spanish) if that was everyone’s language of choice for the tour. I refrained from telling him that I was a native English speaker and didn’t speak much Spanish. Why? Anything I wanted to know, I could just google when I got back to the hostel anyway. lol The tour was based in the city of Miramar which is close to MDP. We saw many sights and attractions, but my favorite was the Bosque Energetico. I’m not sure why, but the trees in this forest contain some sort of energy that allows them to defy gravity. They grow inwards and without leaves. The branches that have fallen off are able to balance on each other in unnatural ways. It was so wonderful just to be able to experience that.
Somewhere along the way of the tour, an older Argentine woman asked me if I would like her to take pics of me. It was so sweet of her! She found me at each location and took photos for me. She was asking me about my story, background and why I’m in Argentina etc. She told me that it’s such a great experience and that she was happy for me. I returned from the tour around 9p. I went to my room to lay down for a bit and then I went downstairs to use the wifi. My 3 friends from the previous night were there. And who would imagine that they would have wanted to go out again? Haha Just to a bar this time though. I really would have loved to go, but I was just so tired from the previous night and the tour that day. We exchanged information and I bid them farewell. I went to bed and knocked out hard (which was good because the bed was very uncomfortable). The next morning I woke up, paid for my room and was on my way back to BsAs before I knew it.
This was such a momentous trip for me. Everything went seamlessly and I met some pretty amazing people along the way. It was nothing short of God’s grace that I went there alone, but was never lonely.
Things I learned through my viaje sola:
1. Yes, there are a lot of bad people in this world. But there are a lot of good people too. :)
2. No matter where I go, if it’s abroad, someone is going to want to touch my hair. One of the hostel workers asked me if she could touch it. I let her. As previously explained, there aren’t a lot of black people in Argentina. Next time, I’ll explain to whomever that while I don’t care, many others will take offense to such a question.
3. Be Safe. Plan. Plan. Plan. I did a good amount of pre-planning and I brought a lot of extra cash and my credit card in case of emergency. I also had my school’s contact info as well as my insurance card on my person at all times.
4. I can do this. For some reason, I had developed this complex that I “needed” someone to accompany me for whatever reason. Totally not the case. I made it back in one piece and I feel better about being here than I did before I went.
5. Step out on faith. God didn’t give us the spirit of fear. I can say it, I can live it. Today, I came across this devotional and it really hit home for me and is extremely relevant!
This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete. Take time to bask in the Light of My Love. As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.
You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence. The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let for of your hand. Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.
Here are some pics of my trip. Enjoy! xx