Break & ChocoBananas

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and spring break has finally come to an end. Over the break I flew out of MCO to IAD then to… El Salvador! It was truly a thrilling experience and I can honestly say I’d rather be on a beach in the sun than back into the swing of classes.

Over the break my sister, my mom, and I went to La Libertad, El Salvador and spent the week soaking up the sunshine and eating really great food. Cue the fresh smoothies and pupusas.

We surfed, we hiked waterfalls, mountains, volcanos, went to the beach, the pool, and I (of course) did a lot of yoga and napping. We stayed at a private villa called La Casa Bonita that had coconut, mango, and banana trees on the property, so naturally we woke up every morning to enjoy fresh fruit or fresh juice with breakfast. I also ate a lot of frozen bananas and mangoes covered in chocolate, also called ChocoBananas or ChocoMangos.

My sister and I on the second level of our villa overlooking the pool!

The beach in the town we stayed in was absolutely stunning, and there wasn’t even sand! The noise the tide made when it rushed out and all the water fled from the gray stones sounded almost like a stereotypical babbling brook mixed with the familiar swish of the tides. It was hands-down one of the most peaceful places I’ve been, and a definitely well deserved break from the hustle and bustle of classes and my normal routine. The noise alone was breathtaking, and that doesn’t even take into account the amazing view.

My mom and I next to the pool before we went out to dinner!

It’s always hard coming back from a totally different atmosphere and being expected to flip a switch and forget about all outside things because we’re back in “school” mode. A lot of students get sad or really miss home after long weekends or breaks. Sometimes letting yourself be consumed with all your responsibilities truly ostracizes you in your own little world and it can at times even feel a little lonely!

One thing that I definitely fall victim to at Riddle is being consumed with everything it has to offer. Most of the time I feel like Riddle is its own little island, and even leaving campus for a few minutes to go to the store or the beach is a rain check that realigns my perspective and reminds me that although being a student is a huge part of my life, it is not my entire life. I’m on year two, and still working on balancing everything and figuring out how to not be so consumed with all I’m involved in here. It’s so important to take breaks, and breathe. Relaxing and recuperating after a long week of work and school is extremely important.

My sister and I at the top of the Santa Ana Volcano, featuring a ChocoBanana on a stick.

In lieu of nostalgia from spring break, while I try to navigate the balance between work mode and rest, I leave you from a spot at my desk on a Sunday afternoon about to work on some Aerospace Flight Vehicles homework, and I hope you all take five minutes to yourselves to breathe, whether its in the middle of the day, or you schedule your evenings as time to put away your phones and laptops and decompress, you deserve it. Work hard, and rest harder. Until next time folks!

Exploring the World’s Southernmost City

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

In the first part of my trip to Argentina, I visited Buenos Aires for one day and a half. I spent the rest of the week with my brother and my friend in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world nicknamed “The End of the World.” We woke up at 3AM on Tuesday to take a 4:30AM flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. After a 3h30 nonstop flight, we landed at the small airport of Ushuaia. After we claimed our luggage at the carousel, we hoped on a taxi and headed to our Airbnb. Our place was located right in the center of the town where you can easily find various shops and restaurants.

The first thing we did when we arrived was to go eat breakfast in a small café just a few streets away from our Airbnb. After we finished eating, we walked a bit and explored the town. To me, the town felt like a mix of Vail and European ski resorts. We stopped by a grocery store to get a few items for the week.

Beagle Channel Catamaran Tour

In the afternoon, we went to do a catamaran tour on the Beagle Channel. The strait is located at the southern tip of South America and is shared by both Argentina and Chile. On the left side of the boat is Argentina while Chile is on the right side (the opposite on the way back). During the five hour tour, we visited islands of birds, sea lions, penguins and a lighthouse.

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Sea lions

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Penguins

We came back to the dock at around 8:30PM (Argentina Time) and it was still daytime. The sun in Ushuaia sets at 10PM but you can still see light in the skies at around 11PM! It is interesting to see that in the northeast of the United States it starts to become dark at around 4PM (EST) but the sun in Ushuaia sets 6 hours later!

Hike to Laguna Esmeralda

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Laguna Esmeralda

On the second day of our trip to Ushuaia we went to visit a popular place named Laguna Esmeralda. To get there, visitors have to do a 5.5 km hike to reach the lake. Once you arrive at the lake, the view is just beautiful! It reminded me of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. We were lucky enough to be up there when the weather was cooperating. It can often get windy and cloudy once you arrive at the lake.

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After admiring the view and taking some photos for about one hour, we made our way back using the same path we went through on the way up. The hike was not really difficult, but I would definitely recommend to wear boots because it can get muddy at some places as you can see in the photo above.

Hike to the Martial Glacier

The next morning, we did another hike, this time to a glacier. I would say this hike was more difficult than the one we did the previous day. The hike to the glacier was more steep while the one to Laguna Esmeralda was generally flat. The more you climbed in altitude, the more it got steep. At the base there were trees and vegetation, but as you were going up, the ground was getting more rocky.

Top of the glacier

Top of the glacier (2,707 ft. ASL)

A few feet away from the top of the glacier, there was a warning sign indicating that hikers needed a specialized guide to climb higher. There was no more visual path in the mountain but we decided to explore and hike a bit higher (I don’t think my mom would have approved this)!

View of Ushuaia from the highest point we climbed (~3,500 ft. ASL)

View of Ushuaia from the highest point we climbed (~3,500 ft. ASL)

We couldn’t climb much higher because the ground was all covered with snow and we did not have any kind of hiking equipment with us. One of the perks of climbing higher is that you can go down on your back where there is a slope with snow and slide down on your back. I tried it a few times and it was awesome!

Well, that’s it for the outdoors activities we did in Ushuaia. If you are an outdoor person, I would definitely recommend you to visit if you go to Argentina! The next day, we flew back to Buenos Aires where we spent one night before making our final journey back to the United States. During that week, I flew more than 18,000 miles in the skies. I will write a story about all that air travel in the next few weeks.

Until next time!

Nicolas

A Much Needed Break!

Hey everyone!

Let me start off by saying how sorry I am for not posting any cool entries lately! My life has been insane. Classes have definitely been keeping me on my toes! Which leads me to the topic of this entry…

Spring Break!

All of the students at Riddle just came back from their Spring Break vacation, and I was so excited to have a week where I didn’t have to worry about studying for tests or fitting things into my schedule. Since Daytona Beach is now the Spring Break hot spot for college students, I decided to get out of Florida and go to the best place to avoid crowds – the middle of nowhere.

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Spring Break house!

A group of 30 of my closest friends decided to rent a house up in Blue Ridge, Georgia for the whole week of Spring Break. The house was absolutely gorgeous – and also conveniently located on the edge of the mountain. Since we were basically in the middle of nowhere, the trip offered a chance to get connected to nature. One day during the week, a group of us decided to hike up Blood Mountain, which was a total of eight miles. Now, I’m not a hiker by any means, so going uphill was treacherous, but once we got to the summit of the mountain, the view made the fire in my calves worth it!

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Another day of the week, a couple of us decided to make the hour drive to the Atlanta Zoo. It was a lot of fun seeing what animals the zoo had to offer. My favorite part of the trip was going to the petting zoo (which was for children) and brushing the goats!

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Blood Mountain, Blue Ridge, GA

My best part about my trip to Georgia was being able to celebrate my 20th birthday! This was my first year not being home for my special day, so it was hard not having my traditional birthday dinner with my family. But I was surrounded by 30 of the greatest people I have ever met, so they definitely made my 20th one to remember!

Now that I am back from my much needed break, I am ready to continue the semester with a fresh outlook! Time to get focused!