Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adventured Continue

I'm writing from a hostel in Rio Gallegos. That's right. Not at all where I had planned to go. I should have taken the early flight from Tucumàn but I didn't want to wake up at 4 or 5. Instead my plane to Buenos Aires later that day was delayed from pilot strikes in BA. I ended up getting there after the flight to El Calafate had left. I spent the day in and around the airport, met a nice couple from Australia who just retired and are traveling for 6 months, and left at 11pm to Rio Gallegos. Laura, the gal from Canada living in Tucuman, helped me reserve a spot at a hostel here. I got in about 3:30am. I slept until 7 and then went to the bus station to try to find a bus. There isn't a direct one but I'm going to Rio Turbio at noon. It gets there around 4 and then Andria says it's only 30 minutes then in another bus to Puerto Natales. I'm hoping it works out!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to cram everything into one week

Tuesday, February 22

With only one week left in Tucumàn, I had to cram in as much as possible. I was very sucessful in completing many things I wanted to. Now it’s time for me to say “until next time” to many wonderful people here in Tucumàn. I am having a get together tonight downtown for whoever can come because I want to see everyone one more time. Tomorrow morning I fly to Buenos Aires and then to El Calafate in the deep south of Argentina.

I finally have Plan A for Pategonia! My cousin Andria, who is living down there, sent me a great itinerary for the week I have there. It includes seeing El Calafate, going to Puerto Natales, bus tour of the national park, night with Andria, horseride with her, going to Punta Arenas to see penguins, and back to El Calafate on March 3rd. Let’s just pray the weather allows me to do everything. Rain and wind can come in strong any time and drastically change the weather.

My last week has been very full. Included here (top to bottom) are photos of: 1) game day with Jake and Laura (game was like tetris, notice the “loser” pieces),

2)drinking mate at the horse club with Jimena and her parents, 3) riding Little Star (Estrellita), a horse that belongs to Jimena’s family,
4) me being a "gauchita" (little female Gaucho),

5) shopping with Jimena at the feria (mega garage sale that is always there, bought warmer clothes for Pategonia),
6) trying on the fashionable clothes,

7) enjoying my first professional fùtbol game with Ivana’s brother Alvaro (Atletico is one team from Tucumàn, they tied 1-1 with the team from Corrientes, near Buenos Aires) (also enjoyed my first ride EVER on a moto/motorcycle on the way to the game),

8) watching the game as I jumped and screamed (next time I need to learn the cheer songs they sing),

9) visiting Parque 9 de Julio (their independence day) with Liliana, Ivana’s mom,

10-12) touring the sugar industry museum

and 13) touring Señor Noguès’s house on the main plaza (rich French man who lived on the main square and also had a large book collection.

In the end I couldn't go parasailing this week because the clouds are very low. The contact here will send me info on places in Patagonia that I can try.

Well, I'm off to pack everything and get ready for my goodbye party. See you in Chile!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update on Goals

I figured I should take a look at my goals again to see what I have left to accomplish. I am quite impressed with myself with how many I have finished or am close to finishing. So, here goes the update:

  1. understand a church sermon (DONE, actually more than one, especially lately)
  2. learn 2 songs in Spanish (mostly done, many songs at church I know in English making it easier to sing them)
  3. learn how to cook 2 meals (DONE, I made humita this week. yum!)
  4. talk to someone on the airplane (DONE, as mentioned before)
  5. see a llama and a condor (HALF DONE, need to find a condor in Patagonia)
  6. walk a lot (DEFINITELY DONE, I walked so much with Laura downtown that my muscles were still sore 3 days later)
  7. learn some slang (some, hope to learn more in Patagonia)
  8. see a fùtbol (soccer) game (SUNDAY will be DONE)
  9. visit the Luna family (that I stayed with before), people from the church, and maybe Juan in Santiago (twin of a friend from college) (DONE and I'm not going to Santiago)
  10. see my cousin Andria in Patagonia (SOON DONE)
  11. ride a horse in Patagonia (not yet know)
  12. visit a discoteca (dance club) (DONE!)
  13. hang glide (hopefully this weekend)
  14. have nothing stolen (DONE so far, knock on wood)
  15. learn and remember when to use the past tenses preterit and imperfect (DONE)
Others I would have written if I had known ahead of time:
read a whole book in Spanish (almost DONE, 3:16 by Max Lucado)
play Scrabble in Spanish (DONE, 3 times in fact)

Hopefully there is enough time in the next 2 weeks to complete the rest!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fun Outings

Today I finished my last class with Paulina (photo), at least while I’m here in Tucumàn. We are going to have a few short clases over Skype after I get back to MN and see if I want to continue with them every couple weeks.

Last night she invited Beth, Laura (who lives in a duplex apartment with Paulina’s grandma) and I to a farewell dinner. We ate at Costumbres Argentinas. I had a lomito sandwich which consisted of a hoagie bun with lettuce and tomato, then lomito which is a cut of beef similar to a steak, then ham (think bacon) and the top bun. But that’s not all. Over the entire top is a layer of melted motzerella cheese. I had to do some minor surgery on the sandwich since the top bun was soaked in mustard. Yuck! After carefully removing the cheese and bun and then replacing the cheese, it was riquìsimo (very delicious, the best). The other girls spit a napolitana pizza (slices of tomatoe, Italian spices, lots of cheese).

February 4th Ivanna and I returned to visit the Luna family. We talked some, shared some mate, played Scrabble in Spanish, ate delicious ravioli, and talked again until almost midnight. It was nice to have Ivanna with to help me the words I couldn’t think of. They have offered their home to any students from the states who want to come here and study Spanish. Let me know if you’re interested!

Ivanna has 4 final exams this month (from classes that finished in December) that she defered since she had 4 others in December. We took a break Friday night to to out with Lili. We tried 3 boliches (dance clubs) before we found one open. This one, however, had more than 200 people outside in line to get in. We finally went back to where we started, near Lili’s apartment, and went to a bar that had music. It was OK but not nearly as fun as the first time we went out.

On Sunday it finally dawned on me that my time in Tucumàn is almost up. I realized I had a lot left to do. One of the things on my list was to see the museums downtown. Laura, a missionary from Alberta who recently moved here from another province, also hadn’t seen the museums, so we went together yesterday morning. Our first stop was the Casa Historica where independence was declared for all of Argentina on the 9th of July, 1816. I decided to join the mural depicting the signing of the declaration.

The Casa also has an entire wall covered in bronze plaques from different groups of people commemorating the day of independence (some were from the 100 year celebration).

We tried to go to 3 other museums but they were all closed for renovation. This is the window at the Anthropology Museum. One lady told us many people come here for Easter, so much of the construction is done in the summer. I guess I will have to see them next time I come : )

We WERE able to have a short tour of the Casa de Gobierno (like the capital building) with “Sue,” a tour guide who speaks French and English. We weren’t able to stay long in the Sala Blanca(White Room) because the Minister of Health was giving a talk about dengue in the surrounding countries and doing something before it’s a problem here.

Because we were having such bad luck, we decided to head back to Laura’s apartment and watch El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret of Their Eyes), a wonderful Argentine film. I believe it was the first Argentine film selected to compete for the Grammy Awards. A couple parts are graphic, but the rest is beautifully written and directed.

Tomorrow I will update about my plans for my last week here, trying to completing my goals, and my plans for Chile. So far I know I'm going to El Calafate (about 6 hours from where my cousin is) on Wed. February 23rd and going back to Buenos Aires on the 3rd of March, then to Minnesota (overnight on the 3rd to the 4th). I have yet to plan what I'll do in Pategonia.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Alvaro's birthday, rain, and classes

Friday February 4

Life has settled into a pattern here in Argentina. Usually it is sunny in January and the rain comes more in February (photo is view of the street from our window during the last big storm). This January was very rainy contributing to the strange weather all over the world. It’s been abnormally cold and snowy (24 days of Jan) back home in Minnesota. I’m sure glad I picked this winter to leave. The mosquitoes have been out more and it looks like I have chicken pox on my feet, but I’m am Minnesotan and I can bear it.

My classes have gone very well. One of these days I’ll remember to take a photo with my tutor. She has gone to school for education and therefore does a great job at organizing the lessons and homework. I’ve learned a couple songs (goal # 2) during class and a couple more fun ones at home with Ivanna. I’m 3/4 through Level 2 book, so I might start level 3 before I leave. Paulina, my tutor, has even offered lessons over Skype after I get back to Minnesota to keep my learning progressing. It’s definitely a good idea. I’ll have to see if it would work out.

Last Tueday I went over to Eduardo and Gabi Luna’s house to visit. I stayed with their family quite a bit last time I was here with Kim. The girls have gotten so tall and Micky is in 2nd grade! I was able to talk with them so much more than before. They’ve invited Ivanna and me back for dinner (tonight, Feb 4th).

Last Friday night we went downtown to Cicilia’s (Ivanna friend) apartment and had pizza on the patio on the roof (14 stories up) overlooking the lights of the city. Ivanna and I got bored after a while because the other girls there looked like (and acted like) they were 16. They invited us to go camping with them near Tafì del Valle (3-4 hr car ride) but after we saw how young they were, we decided not to. Later Cicilia said the trip was very boring and there was nothing to do in that town. We are so glad we didn’t go!

Sunday we went to Borstad’s church again. Augusto, one of the youth I met last time, stopped by the church for the service. It was neat to catch up some on life and actually be able to converse with him. I also had a long conversation with Pastor Antonio about life in Minnesota. They are all currious about how we survive when it’s colder than the freezer and are surprised that it’s actually warm in the summer. After church we had ice cream and then pizza with Sami and Lili. The pizza was from an Italian place and was the best I’ve had so far.

Monday was Alvaro’s birthday (Ivanna’s brother). He turned 27 and a bunch of his friends and Nicolas (aka Niki, their older brother) and his family came over for a party. In the photo, Alvaro is in the back and then from the left is his daughter Luli (who lives with her mom), Liliana holding a friend's baby, Cris (Niki's wife) and Niki. Liliana baked a delicious cake with chocolate on top. People here don’t use the oven for baking cakes. They have a square pan made of thick metel that they use to bake cakes on the stove. I guess it works something like a Dutch oven. I was very shocked the first time I saw someone make cookies on the stove!

I enjoyed the pizza and meat pockets (Arabic empanadas called sfijas), the folkmusic one of them played, and Ivanna’s nephews. I did NOT enjoy how much the friends smoked. It was incredible! I also didn’t like that when I tried to go to bed at 2am I could still hear them over the air conditioner and earplugs. They were here until almost 4am.

On the upside, I did get to hold the baby of one of the friends. She was a gorgeous baby and slept most of the time they were here.

We finally found Eduardo, the friend that had stood us up for breakfast a while back. His mom had gotten suddenly ill and was in the hospital. Then after she was better his brother got stung by a scorpion and had to have shots and be in the hospital also. I guess he had a good excuse. I’m glad his family is all OK now. He plans to stay there a few more day and then we’ll try breakfast again once he comes back.

I can’t believe it’s February already. I’m starting to really work on my goals and also my plans for Chile. Thanks to Andria’s boost of confidence, I think I can travel around to some of the areas near her by myself! I just need to cram in as much Spanish as possible before then to feel even more confident. I hope we get to see the penguins! I plan to leave here around Feb 22nd and spend about a week in Chile. I haven’t decided yet about Santiago, Chile. I may like Pategonia too much to leave early!

My bedroom (door is to the bathroom) and the view from the kitchen window towards the front door.

My giant hamburger. And yes, I did eat the whole thing!