Claudia Crook dove headfirst into all Argentina had to offer on her Travel Writing Scholarship experience, taking every opportunity to jam-pack her trip with adventure.
Upon landing at Ezeiza airport, Tim’s pre-departure advice was fresh in my mind: “This will most likely NOT be the kind of traveling you’re used to.” Having been notified of my selection as a World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship winner barely a month before, this was a surprise and I had no idea what to expect; but I was ready to dive into the adventure.
I immediately fell in love with Buenos Aires. The towering sycamore trees which crumbled the sidewalks and covered the streets with their broad leaves, the vibrant and omnipresent street art, even the humidity (which was, in a word, extreme) made me feel instantly at home. Rather than an obstacle course of sights, Buenos Aires became a backdrop against which to experiment in simply living a life - and I was already enjoying this one immensely. We made our short daily commute to a nearby coworking space for endless cappucinos and medialunas (Argentine croissants), and Tim would steadily illuminate the crux of what travel writing, as a genre and as a profession, really is. Any conversations we’d dropped would be picked up again with equal fervor at team lunches and dinners.
Perhaps more exciting to me than the workshop’s technical lessons - nut grafs and zingers and ledes, oh my! - was the community in which I’d found myself. The workshop team, our contacts at Say Hueque, even a WN Scholarship alum recruited to help with videography: here was a tribe of global explorers and thinkers who were smart, creative and curious. And there I was seated at the same table.
All too soon, I was headed to Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. I struggled to incorporate the lessons I’d just learned as I visited wineries, rafted the Mendoza River, and toured Andean villages (a high-exertion itinerary even without the language barrier). I was a truly novice journalist and was intimdated by my lack of experience.
But my last two days included both a sun-soaked, self-guided bike tour of the Maipú region wineries with a fellow solo traveler I’d met on a city walking tour, and a truly substantial discussion of Panamerican identity and politics in a mix of English, Spanish, and Portuguese at a vineyard asado after a sunset horseback ride. The richness of those experiences left me feeling energized and encouraged to seek out new opportunities.
The “peak” of my scholarship experience came in in Patagonia, as I hiked the iconic Fitzroy Range. Climbing over icy boulders and sliding down snow-covered paths, I reflected on the similarly rocky path that had brought me to Argentina. Reaching the banks of majestic Laguna De Los Tres was surprisingly emotional.
Mt. Olympus is said to be the home of the Gods, but I could make a strong case that they at least winter in Patagonia. The dramatic landscape - icy winds, severe and jagged mountain peaks, regal icefloes, and immense sense of space - would have been arresting to begin with, but the fact that I had been gifted this sojourn to heaven on earth made the experience that much more humbling.
My fellow scholarship recipients were both returning home the next day, but I’d decided to extend my stay. The World Nomads experience was over, but I left excited by the thought that my journey was just beginning.
What's the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship? Watch the video to find out!