It was the fall of 2012 and I found myself in the upstairs level of a double decker bus with three friends and a tiny budget on our way to Jujuy, Argentina. I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the semester and had the opportunity to travel with some friends on a 23-hour bus ride north to a more rural setting and the salt flats for a couple of days.
Unfortunately, one problem that I forgot to address was the fact that I hadn’t figured out my ATM card situation before we left for the trip and that meant I was in for an interesting experience because I was running low on cash. My friends also found themselves on a tight budget, so for meals we ate pastries and snacked on “frutigran,” cookies that have some nutritional value, but, more importantly at the time, they were filling and yummy. Since we had to pay for bottles of water at every restaurant and the idea of “agua del grifo,” or “tap water,” seemed strange to many waiters, we ended up choosing the less expensive alternative at the time, bottles of Argentine wine.
The combination of our dehydration, the heavy sunshine that blanketed the rural setting, and our tummies full of wine meant a tipsy (if not drunk) couple of days. One day we decided to just go for a walk along a “river” (it ended up being not so river-like). We hadn’t even drank that much wine, but our tolerances were low and we were being really kooky. We stood on a wall, had a photo shoot, danced around a little bit, sang a lot, and overall really enjoyed each other’s company.
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Later that day, as the sun set, we helped our new friend from the hostel feed horses outside of the stable. Before we knew it, it was dark out and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the sky. That was the starriest night I’d ever seen. With the opportunity to share a cheap bottle of wine and a stunningly starry night with some good friends in what felt like a much-needed escape from our busy realities, I couldn’t have asked for more.
Julie Brau is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond.
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