After 10 hours of flying and 6 hours on a bus (with a classic stop to McDonald’s along the way) we finally arrived in Mar Del Plata late in the afternoon. Props to Josh Kemp for making it through his first flight! We headed straight to Holy Trinity where we were greeted and taken to a ceremony. There we met our host family and received our schedules. I can personally say that while the ceremony was great, I could not wait to get to the house of my host family and take a shower. A day of traveling makes for a smelly group of 19 teenagers. Our first night in our homes was really unique for each person as we got to know our host families. I knew my host, Paz, from when she came to the United States, so for me it was a great opportunity to catch back up with her and also get to meet her family for the first time. After settling in we headed over to Ivy’s house (Haley’s host) for dinner. There we met up with Mely who I hosted when she came to the U.S. I was so happy to see her again! From what I’ve heard we all ate very good meals the first night. The meat in Argentina is AMAZING. Ivy told me to try something that looked like burnt sausage and didn’t tell me what it was. I ate it and it tasted a little funny and had a weird consistency, but I liked it okay. Later Ivy told me it was concentrated pig’s blood. This immediately cautioned me against eating random meat like substances on this trip without asking first.
The next morning we woke up early to get to school. The school day began with what I would compare to our chapel at NA. The directors of the school gave their inspirational words at the start of a new school year as a band played different anthems and some students were awarded for their achievements. The director recognized our exchange group. We stood and Señora Fox had the honor of introducing such a fine group of students. She decided to state the obvious and drew attention to the ghostly appearance of our group. Surround yourself with Argentinians fresh out of summer break and suddenly you too will look like an albino. After being sufficiently self conscious of our own skin color, we learned a little bit about the history of the school. The school building is one of the few estates left from the early 1900s, protected under a law passed only recently in 1995. As you can imagine, the school is elegant and beautiful. It is also a fairly new institution, having graduated only 20 classes so far. We were taken on a tour of the school and then separated into groups to attend different classes. Since it was the first day of classes, a lot of the class was orientation material, but in math we did actually get into some polynomials. Dillon, intently listening to the math teacher’s lecture, was answering more questions than all of the students combined. And he calls me a try hard…
One thing I found very interesting was that they are taking all of their math tests and assignments online. They have recently started a Bring Your Own Device Program similar to ours at NA, and it was intriguing to see how they have incorporate that program into their classrooms. After morning classes we all reconnected to attend a class about Argentina. We learned about the 4 different regions of Argentina, the differences between them, and the unique beauty each region has to offer. After a great class, we headed to eat lunch. I did not eat breakfast, so this was my first meal of the day. Good thing they actually eat lunch at a reasonable time, 12:15, because I would not have lasted much longer without a meal. This whole let’s eat dinner at 9:00 deal is a challenging adjustment, but the food is worth the wait. After eating our semi-appetizing lunch, we embarked on a walking tour of Mar Del Plata. After having begged Señora Fox and Mr. Merklin to ditch the tour and take us to the beach instead, our tour guide pulled through and our first stop was the beach. It was very hot and sunny, but after all the snow in Virginia we all loved the natural Vitamin D. Mar Del Plata is a beautiful city, and on a sunny day with clear blue skies there isn’t much you can’t love about it. We climbed onto some rocks to take pictures in front of the ocean. Haley decided to get very close to where the waves were crashing on the rocks and was rewarded with a splash from a wave to cool her down from the scorching heat. While I wouldn’t say she was thrilled about it, she took it like a champ. We continued walking through Mar Del Plata and visited the water tower. When we think of a water tower we envision a big thing that looks like a hot air balloon with legs. This water tower, however, looked more like a castle. We ventured up the elevator to the top of the tower and you wouldn’t believe the views. It was not a bad way to see such a beautiful city. We headed down to the main shopping street in Mar Del Plata and spent 45 minutes on our own exploring. Michael waved at some younger girls, just being a friendly guy like he is, and they seemed to take a keen interest in his gesture. Suddenly we had two Argentinian girls “discretely” following us around the street. After a day of walking some of us (really just me) were not up to walk 30 minutes uphill back to the school. Thankfully, a bus came and got us. We met back up with our hosts at Holy Trinity and headed home. A lot of us went to Denzel’s home with our hosts for a pool party. We were all in need of more sun to take away our pastiness, but unfortunately I ended up looking more red than tan. Around 7:30, after bonding at the pool party, we headed home to spend another night with our hosts. So far the trip has been fun, the food has been great, and the company has been even better! Looking forward to the weeks ahead!
– Stuart Luter