Monday, August 23, 2010

Recycling old blog!

hello everyone! i'm recycling my old blog from Argentina (2008-2009) for my India trip (2010-2011)! So if you've come to learn about south asia, please feel free to readsome stories from south america too by just scrolling down!

six days until india... packing up my things from my summer job in north carolina and picking out my things for a year in india! soon you'll find photos, stories, and lists (i love writing lists) on here. Just for the record, it'll be fairly infrequent and usually completely random, so maybe sign up for the RSS feed!

Monday, April 14, 2008

a guided tour

(bueno, let´s start at the very beginning. a very good place to start. when you read you begin with A b C , in argentina you begin with jujuyyy jujuyyy. you can follow along with this map)
just from the sound of the name (hoo-hui) you feel the contaigious cheeryness of this province. it is the northern point of Argentina, bordering with Bolivia at La Quiaca. The most common attraction is it´s incredibly colored mountains (that sport a palette from brown to red to orange to green) .

Salta surrounds jujuy from the south and is famed for its churches, empanadas, and folclore culture. Folclore (foak LOH ray) involves many of the andean instruments - flutes, drums, noisemakers made from the nails of goats. The dance includes hand-kerchiefs, stomping feet, swirling skirts, and typical gaucho wear.

Link to video

Northernmost province in the east, bordering with Brasil and Paraguay. Home of the Iguazu Falls, one of the 8 wonders of the modern world. We share them with Brasil, but in Argentina you can get up close and personal with the IMMENSE waterfalls, and even take a boat beneath them and get completely (and i mean completely) drenched. The two other attractions are the Minas de Wanda (precious stones) and the Jesuit Ruins (the namesake of the province... Misiones = Missions).

In some parts, La Rioja looks just like Arizona (desert, cacti, canyons); in others, it´s a little greener and has vineyards (like right outside our hotel).

Hilly, green, swiss lakes, and smack dab in the middle of Argentina. we passed through shortly, but i have friends who live in this province so i hope to go back and spend some more time there. Maybe have the Cordoba Camping experience that the Argentines enjoy so much.

80% of the population live in Capital Federal (Buenos Aires). Unlike typical US Cities, all of the people with money live in the city or in private neighborhoods, and the poor population lives in the suburbs outside. It´s a metropolitan, modern city, full of culture and life. Every barrio is different, but they share some common threads: art, music, tango, style, and life.

My home sweet home. Flat, kind of empty (like the vast vast majority of Argentina) and full of giant, beautiful, take-your-breath-away campo (definition: farmland/countryside). To the east - the ocean, to the west - the barren endless Pampas. see this post for details.
Big lakes, big mountains. A really chill spot, and by chill I took a dip in one of the glacier lakes and afterwards i was so numb i couldn´t walk. Yeah, chilly.

Famous for the vacation spot Bariloche (best nightclubs and skiing in the country). Every year, the graduating class of every high school takes a trip to this town so it is always completely full of students. It is incredibly beautiful, one of the most "i can´t believe it´s real" places i´ve ever been. I climbed an Andes Mountain here.


The farthest south I went. Really REALLY empty. On the east coast, you can hang out with penguins and whales. It did take us 6 hours of empty to get there though :P

Provinces I passed through:
Catamarca, Tucuman, Corrientes, Entre Rios, San Juan, La Pampa.
But this was basically all i saw:

which led to a lot of modern art like this :


Saturday, February 16, 2008

summertime: the milky way, tan lines, and international relations


In my town I either spend my time at home or at our campo. The campo is a big mansion house in the country that is surrounded by fields. It´s huge and spacious, with high ceilings and about twelve giant rooms. I love it there, I always feel like I´m on the verge of a historical discovery. The other day my host grandmother started pulling handwritten piano music out of a file cabinet in the office. And the other time i was there, I found a pile of pictures of the family´s relatives in Spain, one of them was of two twin sisters in matching old-style bikinis on the beach. That night, my sheets were embroidered with the letters TG (I have no idea who it could be). There´s a little chapel a short walk away that´s smaller than a bathroom, full of spiders. It´s cool, lets your imagination wander a little.

If I stay at home, like I did these past couple days, I sleep late (not a habit I´m proud of), listen to podcasts, watch TV, drink tea with my host mom, clean my room until the afternoon is over -- around six. Then I´ll go over to a friend´s house or downtown and we´ll hang out until maybe 10.30, at which point i´ll go home to eat. Around midnight I´ll go out again with my friends. If we stay in we´ll watch a movie or play cards or eat just a whole bunch of meat (haha it is Argentina after all). We spend about 2/3 of our daytime out by the pool or in the pool or talking about going to the pool. The other 1/3 is spent eating, buy food to eat, walking a long way to buy food to eat, or talking about doing any of the prementioned tasks. Summer here is really relaxing -- kids can´t have summer jobs so basically there´s a lot of free time.

summer high points:
- seeing really SEEING the milky way for the first time of my life
- meeting a new sister. sharing a room.
- ice cream -- you have NOT had ice cream until you´ve tried what they have in argentina. good fields = good cows = good milk = good ice cream!!!
- making empanadas
- long car rides with my host mom to and from buenos aires
- having the best days ever with aileen. ever.
- appreciating the sun beneath the giant argentine sky
- not being tired at 5 am, not realizing it was 5 am, and still having the energy to dance through dawn
- spontaneous trips to see people for their birthday or for no reason at all :)
- saying "good luck" to two outbound exchange students
- making macaroni and cheese that was really appreciated :)
- watching ugly betty, american idol, and desperate housewives with my host aunt every single wednesday. refusing to go buy her cigarrettes. her loving me anyways.
- musical instruments at all hours of the night.
- argentine boys speaking english.
- argentine girls talking about argentine boys ;)
- the campo. family. bread. picnics. music sharing.
- really really getting to know and appreciating the friendship of all of the amazing people below... i love you guys! really :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

happy holidays

Hey :) Happy holidays! There aren´t any snowmen or sleighs or even christmas lights here in my pueblito so it´s kind of a strange feeling. i went to buenos aires this weekend to go to a party and to pick up my host brother and i went to a mall for a bit and there were christmas carols on the stereo. there was also a really really tall christmas tree covered in santa hats and a bunch of santa robots dancing kind of an awkward dance. a lot of booty-shakin´;)

the weirdest thing is that it´s summer here. i have the Yesss! Summer vacation! feeling from my head to my toes and usually that comes accompanied with summer job and my birthday being right around the corner. but i can´t get a job and my birthday´s not for 6 months so it feels weird. i´m kind of floating around without any agenda.

it´s been almost four months and there´s a lot of things i can no longer do. i can´t play stupid, or ask people to talk slowly, or ask people to come pick me up or take me home. i can call a taxi, i can walk to just about wherever i want. i´m not dependent anymore, and it feels weird. the frustrating thing is that i still can´t understand when all of my friends talk to each other about whatever subject they´re all discussing and i can´t understand who they´re talking about, what happened. who died on a four-wheeler or where one girl bought her shoes. i still don´t get it 100%. it´s okay though.

i´ve gotten pretty used to the time schedule. i go out at 3 am and come home at 6.30 or 7 am without exhausting myself unredeemably. i also have gotten used to cigarette smoke and eating ridiculous amounts of meat and hearing about people dying all the time. because here they do. all the time. it´s kind of ridiculous. i´m used to not wearing my seatbelt and to eating dinner with the fam at 10.30 pm and my host brothers playing soccer all day long. no really, all day long. i also can predict the post-hanging out with another exchange student and talking in english feeling and have learned to deal with it.

and i´ve given up on rationing my peanut butter that arrived a week ago. to hell with it, i eat all of their plum jelly and raspberry jelly and oh my god! blue berry jelly.

i spend a lot of time travelling. but i really really treasure my time at home. if no one sends me a message or calls me i am perfectly content to stay at home all day and read or go to the supermarket with my host mom to buy ingerdients to make really delish food or edit pictures or read some more. sun tan. play soccer or ping pong. watch my brothers and admire how they get along so well but secretly hope that someday i´ll be included in on the secret. because i´m not yet, and i hope that doesn´t mean i never will be.

i´ve accepted the idea that time is meaningless. that i´m not here for 10 months or 40 weeks or 280 days, but that i´m here to make realtionships and go places and meet people and experience Moments that i´ll remember and treasure. and that this isn´t a chapter or a part of my life that begins and ends. sure, it´s an experience that will shape me and change me, but so can every other experience that follows. i´m not riding a roller coaster that´s going to slow down and screetch to a stop any time soon, i´m gliding down the hill that will give me momentum for the whole ride to come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

here and there and everywhere

hey everyone! i´ve been travelling all over the place here in argentina and i figured it was about time to fill you all in! the map above has my city in a box and the cities nearby i´ve been to underlined. to give you a concept of distance, from my town (9 de Julio) to Bragado, it´s 100 km, or an hour in a car.
let´s see..
the first trip i took here was my first week to buenos aires or i went with my host mom for three days. the night day we arrived, and walked around recoleta. recoleta is a barrio (neighborhood) that is famous for it´s cafés, galleries, and the famous Recoleta Cemetary (which houses Evita, among other notable folks). We got to go to a random expo about Les Luthiers (great band to google if you´re bored) and some shoppings that were filled with arty stuff. the next morning we took a citytour all around the city. The barrios I remember visiting are La Boca, Palermo, Retiro, and Puerto Madero. We ate lunch in Puerto Madero, which has the best food in the city. We later explored a lot of the shopping district and ate a lot of food.

the second trip outside of 9 de julio that i took was to bragado. bragado is a town that´s nearby and there is an exchange student from wyoming there. i took my first bus ride there with a couple of my friends. we just hung out there for an afternoon, but experiencing public transport was really fun!
the next weekend there was a rotary conference in mariapolis. this city isn´t on the map i made. it´s a ¨perfect society¨type place where people live for one year. they make everything they use organically and hang out and spread the perfect society love. i think there´s also something religious hanging out there behind the scenes, and i´m not sure what´s up with that. we were there for two days in a retreat type center.

later, i got the opportunity to go to mar del plata with dani from wyoming and her host mom. it´s a town on the shore, and known as the best beach spot in argentina. unfortunately i went in the winter and it was freeeeeeeezing. we walked a TON and got to see the atlantic ocean. the reason we went to was to see my friend´s host sister in a swimming competition. we took the bus there and arrived at 7 am, spent the whole day there, left at midnight for home and arrived at 7 am. it was a pretty nuts trip. there was a cool port area though. and good cake that night.

that weekend, i went to the horse festival in bragado. it was really super argentine and emphasized a lot of argentine traditions. i also got to go out in a new town and meet a bunch of college kids who were home for the horse festival and hang out with them, which was refreshing.

soon after, my mom and i went to la plata to go get my host brother. he studies engineering there. we spent the day there and got to go to the cathedral which was a really cool experience. i got to use a lot of my humanities knowledge. we also walked around a lot and got to see university students celebrating their reception to whatever profession they were preparing for. it was a long drive -- 5 hours, but on the way home i got to talk to my host mom and brother and his girlfriend so it was fun anyways.

this past weekend i had a really great trip with three other exchange students (aileen from hawaii, maggie from pennsylvania, and dani from wyoming) all centered around the ryla conference. we drove to buenos aires, but because our driver (maggie´s host dad) had meetings we got to make some stops along the way. we stopped in chivilcoy which is a little bit bigger than 9 de julio and got to walk around there for a bit, and compare it to our respective towns. after we stopped in mercedes, but only for a little bit. then we drove to buenos aires and met up with my friend juan who lived in windsor, canada with rotary last year! we walked around bsas with him and his friend and got to spend a bunch of time in a feria artesania (like an art fair? but it´s there permanently) and buy cute earrings and stuff. i got earrings and a necklace thing to hang on a chain made of flower petals in plastic. then we went back to his place and got our stuff and went to meet my friend hernan (who i also met in the states haha) at the Casa Rosada, which is basically the white house of argentina. we went out to dinner at puerto madero and drove back to his country house outside of buenos aires. the next morning we picked up a girl from nevada from her town and went to the ryla conference. it was really cool! we got to meet a bunch of kids from all over gran buenos aires. that night we had a Halloween dance party where everyone dressed up! then to get home we went to lujan where we hung out for a couple hours waiting for the bus. we went to the super famous Lujan Basilica and also hung out in sweet arty stores where i found a belt and a ring! hurrah!

overall, i´ve been having a great time travelling and seeing great places and meeting interesting people!

From RYLA weekend

take care everyone!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

top five Moments so far

Spending a year in a foreign country is (in one word) overwhelming. I´ve gotten accustomed to trying to remember particular Moments where I really feel like I´m living, learning, growing, or truly experiencing Argentina.

TOP FIVE MOMENTS (in no particular order)
1. Standing in a field of corn with my friend, getting eaten alive by mosquitos, the sun shining down on us and the wind blowing through our hair. In my area, the land is completely endlessly flat and you can see for miles and miles, the only thing obstructing your view tall lines of trees. The sky appears unbelievable immense and overwhelming, the clouds right at your fingertips. After two seconds of absorbing all of this in, we began to run through the fields of corn completely carefree, my grandparents´campo rushing by as we were chased by literally packs of mosquitos.

2. At a rotary conference, my friend and I were hanging out on teeter-totters after eating dinner. Somehow we missed when everyone left to go back to the cabins, and we began to look for them frantically. When we realized that they left, there were about 40 bicycles by the side of the building, and we were in a communist community (no, seriously) we decided there was only one thing to do: snag some bikes and ride as fast as we could back to the cabins. We rode down a long, very dark, slightly creepy road, with really tall, impressive trees on both sides (i love argentinian trees. they´ve got more character than north american ones) as fast as we could, adreniline pumping, trying to catch up. I had tears running down my face from the cold wind in my eyes and in that second i really felt Alive.

3. One of my groups of friends has a tradition that I really have started to love. We all pile into the auto of whoever has a car that night, drive to this little unknown drugstore, and buy about 25 or 30 empanadas. After, we all pile back into the car, desperate to eat those supremely delish empanadas as soon as humanly possible, and drive out into the country to this random dirt road that leads to this random field that has a completely random palm tree just hanging out in the middle. We never go in the field due to the possiblity of stepping in cow poo in the dark, we just hang out, listening to chill music and eating empanadas and drinking grapefruit soda. somtimes there are about 8 or 9 of us, sometimes just 3 or 4. It is the greatest opportunity to look up at the stars and feel ridiculously tiny. When you really really want to explain something, like some crazy theory about stars and perspective, you´d be surprised about how much you can actually communicate when you don´t speak the language. One time, the Titanic song came on the radio translated into spanish. I started singing in english loudly and passionately, and the two other exchange students soon joined in. To balance it out, 5 or 6 argentinians began to sing in spanish and soon enough we were all standing in a circle, swaying, with our arms around each other, bilingually singing "My Heart Will Go On.¨The thought I had in this Moment of feeling totally enveloped in the sound (not necessarily the song, but the sound of all of the voices together) was that ironically enough, I could imagine singing the Titanic song with my friends in the states, our arms around each other, dramatically swaying back and forth. We are so much more similar than we think.

4. The first few weeks, we had painters in the house, fixing up all of the rooms. For this reason, all of the furniture in the living room was covered and pushed against the walls. To some, it would be a hassle, but to my little brother and cousin it was only one thing -- a really great opportunity to play extreme soccer. And thus, one formerly boring night, my host mom and I played soccer two on two against my host brother and my host cousin. We were so awful they were really just messing around with us, but it was such a great time and in that Moment I really felt at home. The best part was that they asked me to play again the next day :)

5. I don´t think written word can do this one justice. Just for background knowledge, the guitar player is my friend´s cousin, and we´re singing "El Sensei" by Las Pastillas del Abuelo.

Link if there are technical difficulties.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

so you want to be argentine...


1. buy bombachas de campo and alpargatas. ¨The bombachas de campo are made in different colours, styles and designs but the most popular colours are still the traditional: khaki, black, white, dark blue and dark green. These trousers are immediately identifiable because of the button they have at the ankle which is used to narrow them.¨ ( Alpargatas are a canvas shoe with a rope sole. My uncle Fede has an alpargata factory. If you can´t get any imported, you can always opt for This website sells shoes that were inspired by alpargatas, and for every pair you buy, they give one pair away to a child in need.

2. Drink maté. If you´ve read my blog before, you´ve heard about maté. Since pictures speak louder than words:


3. Chill to really good music. Dance to really good music. Listen to viejos borrachos singing really good music. And if you´re anything like me, learn the lyrics to some really good music everyday... but don´t ask what they mean. Oh awesome! you want to illegally download/search some songs? here´s a few to get you started
  • ¨Fotografia¨ - Juanes ft. Nelly Furtado
  • ¨En el Muelle de San Blas¨- Maná
  • ¨Me Vas a Extrañar¨- Se Te Pega
  • "El Sensei" - Las Pastillas del Abuelos
  • "Mi Dulce Niña" - El Chili
  • "Ella" - Damas Gratis (favorite song of my little brother :X )

Popular cantantes : Ricardo Arjona, Andres Calamaro, Intoxicados, Joaquin Sabina, Miranda, Bersuit Vergarabat, Fito Paez, CHARLY GARCIA, Shakira, Maná, Las Pastillas del Abuelos...

But do you know who is the most popular? AVRIL LAVIGNE. seriouslyyyyyy.

Andddd, if you want to hear something truly scum-tastic, try ¨Nena, a tu cola le falta crema" by El Empuje. I went to a concert of theirs! hahaha.


4. Learn some sweet Argentine slang. to begin with...

Che - you can use this like soooo or heyyyy or hey you! ¨cheeeeee, laura.... querés ____?" is a common usage.

Boludo/a - This is like "stupid face" but it is as harsh as calling someone silly. "boludo, porque no llevaste más cerveza?" Sometimes it is pronounced b´ludo, without the first o, to optimize efficiency in saying it many times in a sentece. "B´luda, donde estás... ehh callate b´luda y venga. venis, b´luda?"




5. Get sideswept bangs or really long hair, put on your converses, and go out at the break of dawn!

From primaveraaaa

...and get a really sweet nickname! above we have... delfina (delfi), josefina (jose), laura (lau, laurita, lauri, lora, lo, lor, lorita, malala, loravi), la pipi (i don´t even know her real name)