On Wednesday May 1st I had my first league game with my soccer team. However, celebrating the win was cut short as the next day, May 2nd, my family left for Buenos Aires in Argentina where I would be taking four AP exams. We flew across the continent from the Pacific coast of Chile to the Atlantic coast of Argentina, landing in an enormous Buenos Aires city (population nearly 3 million). From there we ventured out into the sprawling suburb surrounding the city known as the Buenos Aires Province which boasts nearly 16.5 million people.

Image result for iguazu falls map

We checked in to the school in Buenos Aires where I was taking the AP tests to sort out some paperwork. On Friday afternoon we left for Iguazú falls on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

We arrived in the mid-morning to a warm humid climate. We were bombarded by the typical swarm of taxis waiting outside the airport. We met a driver who agreed to be our chauffeur for the rest of the trip whenever we wanted to get somewhere. We were dropped off at our house a little ways out of the touristy main town of Iguazú falls. We made plans to enter the park and see the waterfall early the next day.

We were picked up pretty early and driven into the park. In order to get to the main attraction Garganta del Diablo or Devils Throat, we had to take a train ride to the top of the falls and walk along boardwalks over top of the river.

The Devil’s Throat is a U shaped waterfall with water flowing in on 3 sides and down nearly 80 meters to the bottom. An incredible example of the power of nature, the view is enough to take your breath away.

After seeing the falls from above on the boardwalks we were excited to walk along the lower boardwalks that gave us incredible views and an appreciation for the scale of the falls.

As we walked along the walkways through the jungle, we saw several ant species, butterflies, fish and coati.

A coati, one of many in the park

Coati are strange looking rodents with a long snout like an anteater and the body of a raccoon. They swarmed around the several restaurants in the park harassing visitors and fighting for scraps of food.

Once we ate and walked around the several loops below the falls my family made plans to take a boat ride to the bottom of the falls the following day. Unfortunately I was preparing for my upcoming AP Tests and so I decided to stay home and study.

When we returned to Buenos Aires I took my chemistry and U.S. history AP tests on Thursday and Friday. Then over the weekend we went into the center of the city to a neighborhood called Palermo. This older section of town had a strong European influence in its wide boulevards lined by trees and the architecture of the buildings.

Image result for buenos aires architecture palermo

On Monday and Tuesday I finished the AP tests with the Biology exam followed by the AP Calculus AB exam. It feels good to have the tests over, but now I have to wait for the scores to be released in July.


Recently my family flew south of Valparaíso to visit the picturesque landscapes of Chiloé and the Lakes District of Chile. We flew in to Puerto Montt on a Monday to a crisp temperature but a clear sky. As we landed we got an amazing view of the clear blue lakes and snow covered volcanoes that dot the landscape.

Our view from the plane coming into Puerto Montt.

This region is notorious for being cold and rainy, but our first few days were incredibly clear. As we drove in to Puerto Varas we were able to see the volcanoes from the ground. It was fall in the Southern Hemisphere and all the leaves changing colors reminded me of fall in New England.

Volcán Osorno

We arrived in Puerto Varas, a small town at the edge of Lake Llanquihue and directly across from Volcán Osorno. We met some one of my parents’ friends from college who also happened to have two kids and who had been living in Puerto Varas for the year. That evening we got a stunning view of the volcanoes at sunset.

The next day we woke up as early as we could and scampered into the car out of the cold morning air for a four-hour car ride to some natural hot springs called Termas Geométricas. Another clear day provided us with more breathtaking views of the volcanic peaks poking up between the lakes.

Pictures don’t do justice to the view. Finally by early afternoon we arrived to Termas Geométricas. At under 60 degrees outside, it was a shock to my system when I stepped out of the warm car and into the brisk fall air. As we checked in and received keys to our lockers we were given our first view of the springs.

Red wooden walkways connect together almost 20 pools of varying temperatures from icy cold to 45 degrees celsius. The pools were located within a canyon carved out by a cold water stream flowing through the middle. This freezing water was mixed with the scalding water from the springs to vary the temperature of each pool. It reminded me of Japanese Ofuros.

The walk between each pool felt three times the length as the cold air shocked our system each time we switched between the steaming pools. After the freezing experience of drying off with a wet towel in the outside changing rooms, we were ready to hop into a warm car for the long car trip back towards the Island of Chiloé.

Before the island though we spent one last day exploring the natural beauties of the lakes district. We hiked to a waterfall in the morning.

After that we drove up above the clouds and tree line to a ski resort on the side of one of the volcanoes. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite ski season but we were able to slide around on some icy snow and admire the view of the clouds carpeting the valley below.

The last days of our trip would be spent on the Island of Chiloé, famous for being Spain’s last holdout before Chile gained its independence. The architecture of Chiloé is special for being different than most other places in Chile with stilt houses and wooden churches.

We actually stayed in one of those stilt houses for the night in Castro, Chiloé’s biggest city. However, once we got on to the island we realized how lucky we had been with the clear weather earlier in our trip. Apart from a few times that the clouds parted making rainbows, the entire time we were on Chiloé Island was grey cold and rainy.

We retraced a path that Darwin had taken when he visited South America and was developing his ideas about evolution. The weather even behaved as halfway through our hike the rain stopped and the sun came out to make a rainbow.

Before we left the Island we made one more stop. Early in the morning on our last day we stopped by a beach known for its flocks of flamingos.

Flamingoes at dawn