Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 90: Ultima dia

Tomorrow, I get on my plane and I return home after three months of living in Argentina. My mom asked me today to tell my host family thank you, for taking such good care of me during my time abroad. I told my mom that I would tell them at dinner tonight... and even better, I will tell them in Spanish.

Even though I am terribly sad about leaving, the best part about right now: I know that my three months in Bariloche have been a success. I have learned Spanish, let another culture and its people influence my life, and I would like to think I have done the same for them.

With that, I can leave Argentina happy.

This adventure maybe ending, but another one begins. See you on the flip side... nos vemos.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 88: Desayuno Americano

Mission American Breakfast
I remember when I first arrived in Argentina. January 3, 2010. I had no clue what waited for me. I have always enjoyed imagining things and usually can draw a moment in time. Even if it is a made up painting of black scribbles and circles... I can see something. But before Bariloche, I saw nothing.

Three months later, every single line has been filled in with reds, blues, pinks, yellows, oranges, purples and greens. Last night, I continued coloring in my painting with food in every shade variation in a presentation of traditional Desayuno Americano.

The American Breakfast. In the states, eating breakfast is an emphasis. In Argentina, most people only believe in Mate. Or pan con mas pan. Y mas pan. With a little bit of jam. Waffles, pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, gravy, biscuits... none of that exists here.

Until today.

I cooked for five people. I cooked for my family. It was the first time I had ever cooked for more than 2 people (me and someone else). The menu-- pancakes with honey and jam, scrambled eggs with veggie stir fry (zuchinni, mushrooms, and red and green bell peppers), and fried sausage. ALL covered in tabasco.
Objective one-- the grocery shopping.
I had my list of ingredients. Walking through aisle five, I began chuckling and talking to myself. The top item on my list: Bisquick. I do not know why I thought Argentina would have Bisquick. Cause I know how to make pancakes from scratch...

I feel I must mention again my inability to cook. I never helped cooking growing up because I never wanted to help cooking growing up. But I had told my house mom that we were having American breakfast... and that meant with or without the help of Bisquick.

I decided that flour, eggs, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil and milk sounded like a good Argentinean version of Biskquick. I called my mother when I returned home to make sure I was cooking the sausage right for the maximun amount of bottom woods, country grease as possible. (I mean it when I say I haven´t cooked much before). I had to get the food right. And being the southern girl that I am, that meant making it taste like home home. Georgia.
Objective two-- the cooking part.
With my hair pushed back in a black bow, I cut, fried, stirred, sifted, cracked, whipped, flipped, poured and watched my food expand into a meal of colors, flavors and aromas. I experienced the kind of happiness that my mother always talks about during those 40 minutes in the smoke filled kitchen. I was cooking for others and I liked the feeling of cooking for others when I knew they were going to enjoy it.
Objective three-- praying it tastes like food.
I could read my family´s uneasy eyes when they witnessed the traditional desayuno Americano sitting on the dinning room table. For dinner. My host mom told me to go first and she would follow. I spread raspberry jam over two fluffy pancakes and topped them with honey (syrup does not exist here). I covered my scrambled eggs in veggie stir fry and tabasco sause. I did not have to demonstrate how to eat the sausage...

Twenty minutes later, all the bowls and plates sat empty. Every crumb devoured. Every morsel enjoyed to its finest. My host mom is now addicted to pancakes and sausage. My host dad even went back for seconds on the veggies (and he does not like veggies). Molly and I gave them the tabasco as a gift. Because hot sauces in Argentina are impossible to find.
Objective four-- lista.
Last night, I finished my painting of Bariloche with tabasco sause and the image of my host family fanning their burning tongues. I am now content with coming back home. Estoy lista. Being able to share a little bit more of my life with them completes the grand adventures of Meg in Bariloche.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 84: La gente

I mentioned yesterday what it is I respect so much in the Latin American culture... the customs, the language... the people.

La gente.
The people.

The people of Argentina is where I would like to start. I have met a lot of nice people in my days abroad. I have also met plenty of pin heads... but what I can say about Argentina is their generosity is overwhelming.

Por ejemplo: Molly and I had a grand adventure in attempt of climbing Tronador a week ago. The adventure ended with us never making it to the camping grounds on top of the mountain, but back at a hosteria on the bottom of the mountain.

The point of the story is not the adventure though, but the people. We arrived covered in dirt and mud dripping from our fingers and plastered to our shoes. They untied our shoes, taking them off our feet, the moment we walked inside. Instantly telling us they would clean them. My kicks have not been that clean since the day I bought them.

Next-- our extra `dry clothes´ were soaked. We had no shoes, no clothes. Nothing to wear for dinner. We were tired, cold, tired... and naked.

But without even asking, the people working the hosteria went and got us clothes. Their own clothes. Shoes, tops, pants, sweaters. They even said we could wear them until we left the next day at five. They took our wet clothes and hung them up to dry for us so they would be ready the next day.


My first host mom told me that the people of Bariloche are always wanting the chip in when and where they can to help make Bariloche great. Por ejemplo: many locals rent out their homes to tourists during peak season in Bariloche. The owner then serves as a land lord, finds somewhere else to stay (anywhere from one week to three months), while maintaining the house during the visitor´s duration.

The people want to help however they can... another example is my host family, and so many host families in Bariloche. They open up their homes and lives to complete strangers for sometimes months at a time. Sure, they receive money, but they enjoy caring and providing for others. They have only the best interest in you merely five minutes after meeting you.

La gente.
The people.

I will miss the people of Bariloche. The people that have become my family and friends over the past three months. My host mom and dad. My profesoras... all women... who have all been my mom one day or another. Not to mention, all my friends, who have shaped me into something new.

Twelve weeks in... one to go...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 83: Ahora

When you find yourself not writing, it is because you are too busy living. Too busy learning. At day 83, I am far from being a tourist in Bariloche. I am half Argentinean and I am beginning to start reflecting on my time spent in South America.

I am reflecting on where I am right now. Ahora.

Many of you know that I came to Argentine because I won a Rotary Scholarship. But my professor asked me yesterday not only WHY I picked Bariloche, but WHY Spanish?

It really is simple: I respect everything about the Latin American culture and I do so because of my hometown. Yes. Dalton.

For so many, Dalton is a town of carpet mills. Don't get me wrong, it is full of carpet, but what I have always seen is the diversity of people. The Hispanic population in Dalton is the reason why I love the Spanish culture. People. Customs. Food. Lifestyle. The language. Everything.

I would consider myself lucky to have experienced so much diversity growing up. I have never told my mom this, but if I did not grow up in the church that I did (St. Joseph's Catholic Church), then I may not have had the chance to learn about the Hispanic culture like I have. Thanks Mom.

Where I am right now is reflecting on how this diversity that I experienced can be spread amongst others in Dalton. Because sadly, not everyone in Dalton appreciates the learning and culture differences that the people in Dalton have to offer.

This honesty that I expressed to my teacher is where she became very interested.
There are two types of people in the world:

1) People who do not want to change their personal views but appreciate others, and 2) people who don't want to change, but also do not want to accept or learn more about others.

This is what I see in a lot of Dalton. Sadly.

But my time in Bariloche has changed me and I want to give Dalton another chance to change me too. I want to give it another opportunity. There is so much I can learn and I hope that I can get others to feel the same about the amazing culture and learning opportunities that Dalton has to offer. Not merely textile. :-)

The best part about this conversation yesterday, is it was all in spanish. A moment of victory. My roommate and I talked yesterday about how the progress of Spanish hits you one day. For example: you can pass along people on the street and understand what they are saying; or in a cafe or restaurant you have to start blocking out other people's Spanish conversations; in class, you can actually understand ALL the jokes; and the best-- you begin making your own puns in Spanish that everyone also understands. PLUS, you can talk to all the locals in their shops while looking for gifts.

All of these make me feel accomplished. Yes.

With only 8 days left in Argentina, I am beginning to sort and shuffle all my belongings. Mentally getting ready for my new excursions that wait for me when I get home.

Which for the first time, in a long time-- I am excited about coming home to Dalton. Excited about living back home in the place where my love for the Hispanic culture first began.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 72: El Bolson

El Bolson. The bowl. I ventured two hours north of Bariloche to the hippie town of El Bolson for the weekend. The valley encircled by mountains is known for its large outdoor market and the homemade beers. I am happy to say I took part in both.

The outdoor tienda takes place every Tuesday and Saturday. There are over 300 booths of handmade pants, shirts, bracelets, necklaces, rings, purses, kitchen utensils, mate cups, earrings, paintings, drawings, scarves... empanadas, sandwiches, beer, waffles, raspberries, strawberries... too many goods to count. In a half moon surrounding a beautiful park, with a lake in the middle of it, these shops were enough fun for over half of the afternoon. Not to mention, the sky beamed blue.

I stayed in a hostel. El Pueblito. For those who are not familiar with a hostel, a hostel is (sadly) a fab that has not caught on the ole EEUU. A hostel is a place where traditionally large rooms are occupied with rows of bunks. People have a locker and a bed, along with a community bathroom, kitchen and living space including plenty of free community fun.

Plus they are cheap. Though, remember to bring your ear plugs because there is always someone snoring. El Pueblito nestled itself along the river and amongst the mountains 10 minutes out of town. Five hammocks hung around the back side of the house, along with an outside bar and picnic table.

I could not have imaged a more tranquil place for a weekend getaway. Not only were the facilities nice (I got a hot shower both days! ha!), but I met some amazing people who all have this problem with keeping their feet on the ground and their minds out of the clouds... :-)

BUT! The BEST part... I mean the BEST part: the stars. Their twinkling light put me into a different world. Before I even arrived in Bariloche, people asked me if I was excited about my trip. I always replied with a yes, and besides school and the culture, I was excited about the stars.

I lost myself for over two hours that Saturday night in the stars. The giant charcoal lit sky put on a show of the Milky Way and all of its gases, and so many constellations, I could not even begin to name them or find them, for that matter of fact.

Stars put my life into perspective. There is so much out there to live and explore. It also blows my mind that no matter where I am, the stars remain constant and the people that I love will be looking up at the same sky.


Back home in Bariloche, I am day two into advanced classes. Alone. I passed my avanzado exam this past week. It truly is a moment of accomplishment. Something even more exciting-- two weeks ago, the idea of having class alone scared me. Now, I am confident and very happy with having class sola. I am with a professor that I feel comfortable with. I can successfully talk to for four hours. :-) BIG smile. BIG BIG smile.


I have 20 days left in Bariloche. WOWOWOW! Time is going. This weekend, I am going to Chile for Mt. Tronador. It is the last big thing I want to do before I head back home. Chugging right along with my Molly, we continue our grand adventures in Patagonia.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 63: las hijas

My sister and I are sad today.
Molly and I are sad.
We went at 9:30 a.m. to say good-bye to our other sister, Claire.

Saying good-bye is always the same.
Regardless of what continent you are on.
Regardless of how ready you think you are for that person to leave.
Regardless of how many times you say good-bye, it never gets easier.

LUCKILY... I have no doubt that I will see Ms. Claire again... maybe I will go help her 'sling' a few weddings this summer in Boulder, CO... who knows :-)


The daughters.
Las hijas.
The sisters.
Las hermanas.
For the next four weeks, Molly and I are gonna have grand adventures.
Today, we are recharging our batteries.
while vegging out to some American television.
Con Spanish subtitles, of course.


I am officially addicted to tea.
I drink it at least six times a day.
I bought dough tortilla shells, cheese and tomatoes, and made crispy unfolded empanadas.
The hottest part:
I found hot sauce.

I have yet to mention the lack of hot foods in Bariloche.
There is one place called the "Map Room" that actually has Tabasco from New Orleans, but besides that... no hot sauce.
Until TODAY :-)

So with a lot of tomatoes, queso and a gallon of extra picante,
Molly and I are nursing our lose of Claire with fire tongues.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 61 y 62: dos meses y una dia

Day 61:
Two months in.
One month to go.

Where time has gone, I can not explain.

I have been wanting to write on my blog for days. With my computer still dead it is hard to find the time and moment to write. Especially a moment alone to think. Funny now, I have this moment and I am stuck on where to begin.

I feel as though Mendoza was ages ago. When in reality, I returned this past week. Mendoza is a place with a different tune. Vineyards line streets for miles. Tall and short trees limber their trunks from the uvas. I am still puzzled at how they do not fall over.

My favorite part about Mendoza is how every vineyard created its own atmosphere. They all had uvas, but they all had a different vibe. Different levels and variations of flavors. Different techniques and time frames for fermentation and storing.

My favorite: Melipal. Not only did I greatly enjoy their wines, the five course lunch (six with the dessert) along with a wine that coordinated with every dish (including the dessert), but I wanted to capture the essence of its scenery into a bottle.

In the end... the best and worst part about Mendoza is that I could see myself living there. Too.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Back home in Bariloche, life is continuing. I have had a new roommate move in. She is Canadian and used to speed skate before she had hip problems two years ago. I told here that she is the first speed skater I have ever met. Not to mention the first Canadian I have ever lived with.

She fits perfectly into "the family." Which sadly is getting smaller and smaller. Claire leaves for the states on Sunday. I am really gonna miss her. When someone who you have spent so much time with leaves, you also start thinking about home. That beyond the blue lake of Bariloche lies the something else. The real world.

Day 62:
I am feeling much better today as I am writing. Yesterday, I was not in the best of moods. I found myself home and people sick for the first time EVER in my travels. Odd! I know. But after talking with everyone and anyone who would listen to me (THANK YOU BY THE WAY!), I am back to my crazy, Meg self :)

NOW... for a FANTASTIC Argentinean moment:

The Local Watering Hole

My host dad told me that if the autumn wind has not blown into Bariloche by the end of February, then the whole month of March should be Hot, HOt, HOT!

My host dad has climate-telling powers. The weather in Bariloche has been consecutively 90 degrees for the past week and a half. For the record, 90 degrees is hot to begin with, but 90 degrees is even HOTTER when you do not have AC or fans.

To the local watering hole. A pool that sits right on the lake. The vista is lovely. All the gals were thrilled for a summer dip that would last longer than 35 seconds, as the pool water does not freeze your core like the lake agua.

The four of us (Claire, Molly, Michele and I) explored this local hot spot. Imagine: four ladies, in bathing suits, displaying very white skin and signs on our foreheads that screamed: Foreigners.

The four of us dangled our feet into the olympic size pool times two. I began noticing boys. Teenage boys. Teenage Argentinean boys. With smirks in their eyes and brains twisting for some trouble.

I looked around and noticed that these boys were experts with the ladies of foreign lands. There were eight of them. Slowly and smoothly, they separated themselves. I splashed a silent laugh and grin across my face, as I told the gals to get ready for an attack.

Three minutes later, all eight of the boys jumped in...

I threw off my sunglasses and did a canon ball on top of four of them. The other gals continued laughing. We laughed so long and loud, the whole pool starred at us. The life guards even came over to make sure no one was hurt. As i splashed and laughed in the water with these boys all I could think about is feeling at home, in an odd, Argentinean, welcome to our pool, kind of way :)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ohhhh how I love it here.

Enjoy my last month in Argentina :) xoxo

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 55: Bari, Bari-loche

Well-- it took me roughly 2 hours to upload these fotos and this is not even the beginning. Though it is a start. I made it back from Mendoza safe and sound. A little wine-logged, you could say. Roughly the same as water logged, except this one includes a purple boca instead of pruned hands and feet.

These pictures below are a little bit of my life in Bariloche with my friends. Look for Mendoza pictures in the next few days!

I have started calling Bari, Bari-loche home. I like having a new home here. For me, a home includes friends and family. A sense of being somewhere that makes me feel safe; I feel this in Bariloche.

This is Claire. She is holding the adventura of making banana nut bread. I think the recipe was in English, but Claire, John and Brandon had to play the conversion game of the ingredients in the kitchen. I pulled out the watch card; as I traditionally do with cooking.

The kitchen did not have all the correct bowls or measuring cups. John crushed up butter with a fork. Claire kept pouring the black sugar (yes, black sugar) and the flour until she thought it tasted right. Brandon lit the oven (which literally meant lighting it with a match from the bottom of the gas oven). We decided that 350 degrees was roughly one click to the left... or it might have been the right... either way, it turned out amazing. y muy rico.

Not to mention, the next day we had french-toasted, banana bread with homemade jam... :)

The next serious of pictures are from Valentine's Day. Hints the red accent.

This is John. Standing with the amazing coche that I want to take home with me...
it even has suicide doors...

This is Molly. Miss Molly is my sister. We live together. I can not decide what I like the most about this picture: the reds in the roses and in her dress or the priceless grin on her face...

I just really like this picture.

John gave us gals roses for Valentine's Day. Close up.

I am going to leave you with the pictures from my hike to Refugio Frey y Catedral that I took the weekend before I left to Mendoza. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy- xoxo.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 45: Middle y Rubia

I am in the middle. Literally, I am the middle child. But literally, I am 45 days in with 45 days to go. Antes de my arrival, I planned on taking a week off from school at my halfway point and going to Mendoza.

I had no clue how to get there. Where I would stay. Who I would go with. If I could leave school. Or what I would when I go there. Forty-five days in, I have at least the first four questions answered... minus the what we are going to do. Which in all honesty is not important. Not knowing is the true adventure of life... as I am discovering.

I am going with "the family" minus one. My one sister is heading down Sur to travel while the other four of us pack our bags for the sunshine and vineyards. It is a 17 hour bus ride to Mendoza. Yes, 17 of them. This will be my first experience on a bus that I get my own bed. I plan on sleeping the whole time... you can ask my sisters back home in GA... "when Meg gets into a car, she sleeps the whole time." :)

Something else that I love about my first 45 days in Argentina is my name. My name is Megan. My best friends call me Meg. My family calls me Meg or Megan. In Argentina I am Meg. In Argentina I am Rubia :) aka... Blondie.

My birthday cake even said happy birthday Rubia. I think I am one of the only natural rubias in the whole country of Argentina. Well, at least from what I have seen. Even in Chile, I stood out quite well. I will have to say that the "family" has every hair gene covered pretty well: dos morenos, dos pelirojos, and una robia.

As much as this Rubia wants to write more and upload some fotos!! My computer is still dead. My mom has sent me all my computer discs and I plan on fixing my computer as soon as I return from Mendoza.

Please think of me as I travel north. I hope that this blog finds everyone well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 43: Mullet

Solomente en espanol: Tengo un mullet. SI. un mullet. Cuando el pelo es un poco (o mas) largo en de atras y bajo en el frente.

Argentina is stuck in the 80's. It is alive AND well. EVERYWHERE. My haircut that i received two weeks ago has evolved into a nice, mini-mullet. Next, all I need to do is buy some of the very fashionable "MC Hammer" pants that all the ladies wear... they have crotches all the way down to their ankles. No, I am not joking.

The mullet is a sign of change for me. Change from what I was, to what I am becoming here in Argentina.

I am a year older. My birthday arrived a little over a week ago. It didn't seem like my birthday, or more, that a year had flown by since the last one. In my new white tank, I arrived to a completely decorated school just for my birthday. Remember when you were a kid and you took the time to cut multi-colored paper and made homemade streamers by looping them into circles? My friends did that for me. Pinks, greens, purples, blues and yellows filled the main entrance. Along with balloons. My teacher even brought me flowers.

This was my first birthday away from home. Even more importantly, it was my first b-day away from my dad. But from the moment I walked into the singing school, I had no doubt that my family was there with me on my birthday.

I sadly have no pictures of the occasion because they are on my dead computer. Though I can report I wore a hot pink crown all day. My friends sang Feliz Cumple five times between that morning at school (two times), once at my family's house for dinner (we had lamb) and then two more times out in town with all my friends.

A good friend of mine asked me what I wished for on my birthday. I actually have had the same b-day wish for the past 10 years. I can't tell you what it is... cause then it won't come true. But know, that it more than happened here in Bariloche.

A group of us went to Chile for a long weekend to celebrate. We rented a car. We drove. Well, one of my friends drove... the only one who can successfully drive a stick without throwing everyone out the window or making us vomit. It took four hours to get through border customs. 8 hours total each way. The town (Puerto Montt) was closed the whole day Sunday (our main day there), so we watched movies in English with Spanish subtitles.

The BEST thing that happened in Chile (besides all the really funny quotes from everyone from a 16 hour car ride) was the dinner we experienced. There were five of us. The menus were more or less in Spanish, but the Spanish in Chile has a lot of slang. A LOT of slang.

We ordered. We ordered more family style-- some big platters and everyone could have a little of everything. When the food arrived, we were quick to discover that we had ordered enough food for a small country. Pizza, papas fritas, fijitas, parrilla (a big pile of steak, potatoes and chicken) and that came with these pizza bite looking things... what else... in the end, we had to pull up another table because we had no more room. Ohhhhh, I wish I had pictures of that to post!! We sat there for over four hours attempting to eat the largely portioned food. I even un-buttoned my pants. ha!

I hiked Catedral with "the family" this past weekend. "The family" is the same group of people that went to Chile with me. We are all Americans attempting to learn a language that we desperately love. We are really beginning to speak in Spanish. More importantly, being to understand each other.

Something I appreciate about Bariloche is every single mountain and hike provides a different scenery and experience. This trail was long, but incredibly enjoyable and relaxing. It was more flat that steep. More dirt than rocks. We walked a path that split through a lush, green forest and along a river.

At the top of Catedral there is a lake and Refugio Frey. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the summer heat, while eating veggie torta (pie/cake) and sipping on tea or coffee. My same friend who drove the stick shift car for us in Chile, bought a kite that he wanted to try and fly on top the rock cliff, but he was unsuccessful in the flying part. The string would not stop breaking. I suppose that is what you get for 20 pesos (roughly 6 dollars).

My mind is racing with too much to share. I am going to stop this post and write another one tomorrow. Hopefully with pictures, too. If not, then close your eyes and image... let yourself float away to Argentina. I could use a visitor or two :) I am six weeks in. Seven more to go. Looking forward to every single day that I have left.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 39: "a new"

This is a short note to sadly announce that my computer has died... for the moment. I am hoping to fix it over the next few days.

I have many stories to write about-- my trip to chile for my birthday this past weekend, school and some drama. If anything, I am going to use my friend's computer and update my blog by the end of the weekend. Life really is odd without a computer to use. I don't mind it, but I want to share what is going on with you!

Also, i have a special request... regardless of your faith, please pray for me and for all of those in my life. Here and in the states. I would greatly appreciate it.

Look for exciting news this weekend!! xoxo

Thursday, February 4, 2010

One Month: Living not visiting

It has been one month in Bariloche. One month out of the states. One month into this new life that is starting to pass very quickly. Though the reality: I am living here now... not just visiting.

Everyday life is no longer about going all the time, but living in the routine of an Argentinean. Siesta occurs everyday in Bariloche. Shops close from roughly 1 p.m. to 4:30. Literally, the town closes. Some restaurants are open. I feel like they pick and choose the days that they want to have a siesta. I took advantage of seista today. I don't think I feel asleep last night till roughly 5 in the manana. I needed to rejuvenate.

School is going. This morning was hard without sleep. No endless amount of coffee could supply me with the boost I needed. This week has also been hard to focus. I know that I did not go to school last week because I was incredibly sick, but I am burnt out on school and traveling is calling my name. I have my advancement test tomorrow morning. It is my birthday tomorrow so I am hoping for a good result to start out the day!

This birthday is happy and sad. Mi papi and I have the same birthday. It will be the first time in 22 years that we have not spent it together. Dad, I hope you know that I am sad we can not party together. But in April, it is a date... I promise. Happy Birthday to you :)

The weather in Bariloche is continuing to throw me for a loop. It is cold here this weekend. I almost think it maybe warmer to spend my b-day in Georgia... in the winter. Cause right now, this is not summer action. I think Monday should be nice. Just in time for more school!

It has also has been a quiet week. Been getting back into jogging. I want to jog up Cerro Otto before I leave in April. I haven't made it very far BUT I am hopeful. Very hopeful. Now that I am all better.

On Tuesday, I did a crazy and brave thing: haircut in Argentina. I got my hair scrubbed by a lady who massaged my brain with every intense lather. She even washed my hair twice... I think she was trying to tell me something? NO ONE spoke English. Ha, my Spanish is advancing but the conversation went something like this:

Hairdresser: "Necesitas un cortar?"
Meg: "Si, un corta."
Hairdresser: "Cuanto?"
Meg: (raising my hands to my head) "Este." (As I touch my hair to indicate I want an inch taken off). "Pero, necesito una corta practical pero me gusta una corta que es un poco loco."

Roughly, I told her I wanted a practical cut but a little crazy. Ten minutes later, soy una nueva persona. It was the fastest haircut I had ever witnessed and received. My girlfriend also had a similiar experience. Not too many words, but a fantastic result. Me encanta mi nuevo pelo. It is short and easy.

To end, I have to say that life is going much better in Bariloche and that I have finally settled in. I don't feel like my life is incredibly exciting right now, but that is part of feeling like a local. I no longer feel like a tourist... I am becoming a little Argentinean :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 28: Nueva Casa

I moved in with a new family yesterday. I do not know how religious my readers are BUT every single prayer that I asked God for this past week has come true. Because I told them to no one but him.

My old family was not working out for me. The thing is, I do not think it was working for my house mom either. I went to school on Friday to meet up with my director so we could go to the doctor together. It was there that I saw one of my girlfriends who called me her roommate... I had no clue what was going on.

Evidently, I was being moved in with a new family because my old house mom is having guests arrive on Monday (tomorrow) and she didn't have room for me anymore... harsh? Maybe. But I was really excited about my move.

I still have yet to pick up my camera charger from the post office (as it has arrived) but when I do this week, I will post pictures of my new house. It is right on the lake. The vista from the living room windows is incredible. The mountains and the lake are all right here. Last night there was a full moon. I felt the brilliance of its yellow as it rose over the lake... it welcomed me to my new home.

That is something else that I already like about here-- I feel like it is home. In one day, I already feel like this is my home. I want to stay here for the next two months. I will never dread coming home now.

Last night at dinner, I spoke in total spanish for over two hours. After dinner, I even talked with my fiance in spanish over chat. The family here and my fiance have this incredible ability to make me feel confident in what I am attempting to say in Spanish-- even if it isn't correct. Also, before I went to bed last night I watched an episode of a kid's tv show... en espanol. I think that will be my nightcap for the rest of my time here.

So... after spending a week in bed, after not being able to see my friends off because I was sick, after moving in with a new family with less that 24 hour notice, and after feeling like nothing was going to change-- life is back to where it should be. I feel even better than the day I arrived and now to just keep myseslf healthy, and that light burning.

En conclusion, I also thank you all for the prayers... and continue to keep them coming :) because a prayer never hurt. xoxo

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 25: Mejor

I do not have much to report from Argentina besides a medical note that I am feeling much better today. Mejor. I have been in bed and in the house since Tuesday, and will be here again all day today.

I am happy that I am locked in my house for another day, actually. Traditionally, this would be the day I would start moving... meaning I would probably make myself sick all over again.

Two of mis amigas came to visit me yesterday in the evening. We went and sat outside in the shade for about an hour. It was great to finally see someone from school.

The sad part about this week for me: I will be the only one left from my original group beginning Sunday. All of the people that I started with on Enero 4, will be gone. I will be the old one starting Lunes at school. This week has been a challenge because the four people left in my group I have not seen. Hopefully, I will see them tomorrow when I head to town to go to the doctor in the morning.

Lunes, I will begin making new friends. Talking really is not hard for me and I can pretty much befriend an arbol, but it will be odd to not have the original group for the rest of my time here in Bariloche.

A part of me can not believe that four weeks have flown by so quickly. The other part can not believe that it has only been four weeks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 23: Update

This is a picture of victory. Almost a four hour hike to the summit, Cerro (Mount) Lopez is the highest mountain in the area besides Cerro Tronador (the mountain directly in front of me this picutre). Five of us completed the journey together on Sunday.

If you look closely, you can see trails in the snow that start all the way at the top... yes, I slid down this mountain to get to the bottom, plus one more part after this. My first experience with snow resulted in twisting my ankle, doing a complete 360 while lying flat on my back and being really freaked out :)

Cerro Tronador. This mountain is on the Argentina-Chile boarder. I have yet to travel there for the hike, but I hope to in the next few weeks.
Ha, Ok. So my first experience with snow was on the way up when I trekked through what seemed like miles of sugar blankets. The climb up included: snow, rocks, a dirt path, more rocks, a dirt trail, more snow and then more rocks. The climb also included some silly faces in the snow.

I have nothing to excuse my week absence besides fact that the third week here in Bariloche has flown by really really fast. Too fast. I feel like I have heard a saying before that after the third week in anyone's travels, it simply begins to pass too quickly.

Before I start with my adventures above, I will let you all know that I am currently sick. Si, otro vez. (yes, again). I went to the doctor today. It cost me 60 pesos (roughly 18 USD) to see the doctor and to get part of the medicine. I have more or less tonsillites and a sinus infection. My tonsils are so swollen that it looks like I put two golf balls in on each side of my throat. I have to stay at home until Friday morning and then I have to go see the doctor. Again.

Yes, muy triste. Sad. Very sad. I was excited about this week because I can tell that my Spanish is improving. School has been coming along really well and I am really enjoying my time learning. I personally think that my teacher is the best in the whole school and it is enjoyable to go to class when you can understand everything and then respond. Delightful!

I will be missing a whole week of school in exchange for mi cama, but I really need to get better. I can not keep getting sick. I bought comida and enough liquids to make Noah's ark float, before I took a taxi and headed home.

Well, before all this sad sickness came along, I hiked Cerro Lopez on Sunday. We started at noon. The first half of the hike is all up hill on a narrow trail. It included rocks, dirt, rocks and more dirt. Also! it included flies. Lots of flies. Lots of pesky HORSE flies. I think the group decided that they were more like flying rats because they were so big. They also stung you. At one point, I think one of them wanted to live in my ear.

But we did make up a new dance move in memory of our dear fly friends. For those older generations who may not know about dance moves like the shopping cart, the sprinkler or the lawn mower, then you may not find the humor in this. But we call it the pesky fly: where you are walking and waving your arms in a circular motion around your head, occasionally swatting at your legs. Ha, well-- we thought it was funny.

Shy of two hours, we made it to the Refugio that sits inbetween the summit and the bottom. We rested for a while. Ate homemade sandwiches on moist white bread. Forty-five minutes later, we wasted no time in climbing treading to the top.

Now. My camera. I left my camera charger at home in Georgia. My mom mailed it to me three weeks ago on Thursday. I had this feeling that was camera was gonna start dying on Sunday. Sure enough, it began flashing red at me before I even got the top. Meaning I had to take pictures wisely. The only picture that I did not get is one of the rocks that we climbed for most of the way up. At some points, I felt like I needed a rope and some rock climbing shoes.

It was intense. Crazy. Insane. REALLY insane. But it was also a moment of accomplishment and achievement. When we finally made it to the summit I think I could have cried, but the view took my breath away. I have never seen such beauty. The thing about Bariloche is every mountain or place that I go it is something different. There are new mountains, new lakes, new scenery. It really is incredible.

I could write more today, but I have three days to catch myself up on my own life. I have been too busy to even meditate on the events of the past week. It has been a wild one. A fast one. And even though I am sick now, it has been a good one :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 15: Details

I have yet to mention the details of Bariloche that I probably look at more than most people. The shower knobs read "C" and "F": caliente y frio. My first shower two weeks ago finally resulted in me discovering that C did not mean cold...

My "mom" has amazing gardens. Though, most of the houses around have immense rose gardens. Red, pink, yellow and orange roses. The calles smell of lavender. Always. Big, purple lavender bushes line the streets. The calles.

But my "mom" also has food gardens. Right now there are raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries. A few days ago, she planted a blackberry bush. Last night for dinner she needed an onion. I went outside and picked one from her garden, and she put into this soup with eggplant, corn, mushrooms and tomotes. Fresco. Fresh.

I sat outside in the backyard for a few hours this morning and read. There was a bird. The same bird pulled brown, wiggling worms out of the ground for hours. This bird was old. His plumas were ruffled in the front. White and ruffled from many years of flying. Tattered from years of living.

I got into a car today for the first time in two weeks. I went out with my "mom" and one of her friends for the afternoon. It was nice that she invited me. The warm sun disappeared on us though as we got to the beach. But this beach was not really a beach. A dock located on a hiking trail in this small, almost laguna, sort of place. When we arrived, only one young girl had jumped ship into the cold waters.

As I may have stated before, the summer this year in Bariloche has been really cold. My "mom" likes to go to the beach during the summer. Around here, the sun only shines brightly for two, maybe three, months out of the year. The summer sun rejuvenates the people of Bariloche. My "mom" wanted so bad to have summer today that she became the second person to plunge in.


Mate. Mate tea. I have yet to mention Mate. It is a very strong tea that is from Argentina. People can drink it in a tea bag form OR-- people drink it from a mate cup. Google it. You must see the variety of cups that people use to drink it. They come in all shapes and sizes and it has a straw: wood and aluminum are the most popular. In the cup you put Mate in it, pack it down with the straw and then fill it with water. The water is hot but you drink it fast.

I will be the first to tell you that Mate looks like someone scraped up dirt out of my mom's flower bed and decided to start drinking it... ha. BUT let me tell ya... it is good. I am addicted. Just like everyone else in Argentina.

We sipped our Mate on the dock until its warmth no longer kept the goosebumps at bay in the disappearing sun. The playa turned into a trip to Colonial Suiza. A local entity turned into a toursit trap. Colonial Suiza is a Swiss Colony that settled in Argentina around the 1930s. Think of the place as a permanent art festival. Clothes, jewerly, pantings, food, chocolate. All handmade. Everything wonderful.

The last detail I want to talk about is the museo. Today, I felt this spirit of old Swiss in this yellow house. This yellow house with white trim and shutters was the first house in the colony. The whole house is surrounded by verduras and jardins. The veggie gardens are all lined up perfectly, each with a wooden stock at each end. There is a tienda that sells the fruits and veggies that are grown there.

This place is special because it was built by one family many years ago and has survived. Not only has it survived, it has grown. The same family still owns and operates this colony in such a modern time. The small spirit of that first house has lived on and I wish that more places like it still prospered.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 14: Hiking Weekend

Hi all :)

I went for a five hour hike today to Mount Otto. It is the closest mountain to Bariloche. It was the perfect day for some hiking. Cloud coverage, wind and more wind... ha. But wind is always a factor in Bariloche.

I went with a friend of mine from school. A lot of my other friends went white water rafting today BUT I knew that the weather was gonna be a little colder today so I opted out of that one.

I am feeling better too. I mean obviously as I set out for a five hour hike. While we were out exploring, we came across two different sets of rock climbers and that was sooo awesome. If I knew how to, then I might attempt... looks exciting!!

Again, the veiw from the top of is breathtaking. I really think that is the only word that sums up the beauty of Bariloche. It really is pretty as a post card.

We also went off the trail walking... ok, we went into a trail that said: prohibio sacar... ummm we just pretended that we didn't speak spanish... haha :) There we found some really nice views of the other side of Bariloche. Which is more mountains. For lunch, we perched along a rock in the sun and away from the wind. I drank half my water and inhaled my sandwich. Immediately resulting in my pack weighing five pounds less.

I felt very accomplished and healthy after the hike today... but as we headed down the last part of the mountain in a slow, causal walk, a man RAN past us up the mountain. YES, RUNNING. No jogging involved, but sprinting. I did look back to admire his great calf muscles. I would have fallen on my face.

I think what I have come to like the most about my friends in Bariloche is how they all are very different and unique, but we all get along so well. Everyday I have one-on-one time with a different person, doing a different activity. Meeting great people makes this trip even more perfect.

Meeting new people means another person I get to learn about. Not to mention, another person I can visit in the future. :-) Tonight, I am resting and going to make tofu with my 'mom'. I am going on an eight hour trail tomorrow... golly bless me... soooo I need some crazy good sleep this evening.

To end, I would like to say that I hope this blogs finds everyone well. Know that I am thinking about you always. Lots of love, xoxo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 11: Mi cama

My bed.

This is where I have stayed all day today. I walked to get some medicine and more orange juice this morning, but other than that-- I have been in bed sleeping with Mickey... the cat ;)

I have not introduced my lovely animals yet. The cat is Mickey. She is very very sweet and will sit with you all day if you let her. The dog is Luna. She also is very sweet and stays inside. I think that she is one of the calmest dogs I have ever met... well, besides my Brooks from growing up. I am really happy they have animals. They are great company and lots of fun.

One last thing for today... I have only been in Bariloche for 11 days and I have already made such good friends. I know that I have God to thank for this. My girl friend Kathrina came by to see me today. To check in on me because she knew I was sick. She also said that 'the group' said to feel better and that they missed me :) That right there has truly brightened my day.

I am looking for brighter and warmer skies tomorrow... last time I checked the weather reported a high of 33 celsius... you can convert that if you are interested.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 10: the bad with the good

Today has been a bad day. Just an overall, no good very bad day. I think it has been bad for a few reasons:

1) I am sick. Yea, the sinus/cold monster has finally got me. I knew that it would eventually. I mean the weather here is more unstable than Georgia's so it really was only a matter of time.

2) I miss my friends. I have class in the afternoon this week. Hopefully this will be the only week where I do not have class in the morning. Missing my friends would not be too bad, but the guy that I now have class with-- I terribly dislike. I tried to give the kid the benefit of the doubt because he is from Nottingham, England where Robin Hood is from, but I think this guy steals from the poor and gives to the rich.

He likes to talk. Ha, I know. Fancy me saying that someone else likes to talk. But he likes to talk in Spanish (which is perfectly fine) but I am shy in Spanish. Very shy and I do not need someone butting in every two seconds when I am attempting to speak. He really annoys me. Even worse, he totally sucks up to the teacher. I mean his Spanish is not that great (not that I can talk) but at least he tries. They both smoke, so when they are outside filling their lungs with their nicotine friend, they are also bonding very closely.

In class today, at one point I felt like I had been invited to a dinner party where only three people showed up and the one person (ME!) they really did not want to include in their conversation. I do not think it would be too bad overall, but then when I attempted to talk he corrects me. Who are you to correct me?

An overall trying day. Then he has enough nerve after class to tell me that he talks a lot and that he was sorry. Well! Then shut your mouth if you are so incredibly sorry. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.


3) I think that I am going to stop with two.

Out with the bad, in with the good.
It is now gone and tomorrow is a new day... hopefully.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 9: Rethinking

I woke up this morning at 8 a.m. Generalmente (Generally), I leave for school at 8:40 and have class from 9 to 1. But this morning I received a phone call that I will be having school in the afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m. This morning it was raining really bad and I did not feel too well, so needless to say, I had no problem in going back to sleep for three more hours.

Today I am rethinking. Rethinking about my adventures so far here in Bariloche. Yesterday, I was really tired when I wrote my blog and I left out some details I wanted to share:

I sang "Should of Been a Cowboy," by Toby Keith all day yesterday. Especially when we got to gallop really fast across this field. At one point I almost started laughing... I couldn't tell you why. Maybe in that moment it all settled in: I am in Patagonia, Argentina where my closest neighbor is Antarctica for the next three months and I am currently galloping across a field on a horse with no name... another good song, by the way.

It might have been on purpose, but I forgot to mention that I ate carne yesterday... meat that is. Yes, do not fall down on me. Red meat in an empanada... small, grounded-up hamburger meat. It didn't bother me too bad. I pretended it was something else. Piles of meat including sausage and pork got passed around the table, but I did not partake in it. :) I filled my belly with salad, bread, water and wine... and orange juice. All mixed together for one delightful mezcla.


Back to today. I am rethinking. I was sad about being moved to the afternoon class because I will not be with any of my friends. But I am here to learn Spanish and most of my friends barely speak Spanish or English for that matter of fact.

There is a friend of my house mom's living here with us for 20 days. He arrived yesterday and we talked at lunch today. He said that he went to the States in the late 60's to learn English in Washington D.C. But he doesn't know much English now because he never uses it. For an hour, the two of us struggled to make a decent conversation in both English and Spanish, but I was so taken aback by how eager he was to help me understand Spanish. That hour has made me rethink.

I may like my friends, but I need to rethink what language I use. Yes, one week in, I may not need to be so hard on myself, BUT (for one more time) I need to rethink about my time here. So, I am thanking the wise old man for helping me to rethink.

I already think that the next viente dias while he is here will be some good ones.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 8: Horseback Riding

Today, I went horseback riding. Besides the fact my butt hurts and I returned home covered in dirt-- I had a great time. It is very interesting here in Bariloche. One side of the lake (as most of my pictures posted) is very mountain-ish and alive with greens and more snow. The other side of the lake (where I went horseback riding) is more desert like terrain and very windy with dirt.

I arrived at school at 10 a.m. and met up with my amigos that were coming with. It was a thirty minute bus ride to the other side of the lake and then three miles on a dirt path to the ranch.

I went horseback riding on a family owned ranch. I mean, wow. We had two tour guides come with us. My group went all day. We rode for three hours in the a.m., had lunch and then went back out for two more hours.

I saw all of Bariloche from the other side of the lake. Also, my amiga and I switched cameras so she could take pictures of me, and I of her, while we were riding in the morning. I got some great pictures of me riding and it was fun seeing what she had taken of me.

My horse. Well, let's just say that it reminded me of me-- totally stubborn. ha. In the morning he was a little more unsure of me, but by time the afternoon we rolled along as though we were best friends. I really want a horse now. I have always enjoyed them and I can see why people have them. Maybe one day... or maybe a horse besides kids... ha :)

I am one week away from home. One week into Bariloche. One week into already a lot of adventures. Even though I am still very very tired, I hope to get in touch with the local Rotary. I want to start planning my two projects here as part of my Rotary scholarship.

I sadly have not heard from the local Rotary before my arrival, but my house mom said that she knows someone in the Rotary if all else fails. So maybe after my Spanish gets a little better, I can go talk to them. Either way, I am going to figure out a way to bring my Rotary Ambassador promise to Bariloche.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 5: Mountain jogging

On the way up...

to one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL...


I have EVER been.

Don't get me wrong-- I LOVE TO HIKE. Love it. I love to walk, run, be active, sweat and all the joys of being outdoors. But before I get into the beauty of these pictures, I must explain my mountain jogging experience.

At school, there is a board with activites for every week. If you are interested, then you sign up and go. Yesterday was such a nice day in Bariloche that many people (myself included) signed up a few hours before the excursion. This place is known as Cerro Campanario. Angie (the school head) said that the walk up was only 30 minutes. Angie came with us. See-- this "walk" is only 30 minutes to Angie because she jogs up this mountain. Normally (come to find out) this is a good hour walk. We JOGGED it in 30 minutes. The movie Rat Race (I think that is the name of it) came to my mind as I kept on repeating, "It's a race."

Insane. Totally insane. I will never go hiking with dear Angie, again. :) But the thing is, whether jogging or hiking, the uphill climb resulted in a breathtaking view. Unbelievable. Wowowowow as my fiance and I say sometimes. Look at the pictures. The blue clearness of the water. I thought that color was only available in the tropics- ha. A few of the mountains belong to Chile, as I am that close to the boarder. The mountain with all the snow made me SUPER happy because I never see such a display of snow in Georgia.

The view put into perspective the beauty that is in Bariloche and Patagonia, Argentina. I am five days in and I feel like I have been here for weeks. I think it is because the people are so nice and the town is very calm and relaxing.

Slowing down after living 3 1/2 years in Atlanta has been a challenge since graduating in December. I am breaking my need to always feel that life is such a rush. Por ejemplo: when you go to a restaurant in Argentina-- do not be in a hurry. They consider it rude. Do not rush the server. Do not rush the drink order. Do not rush the food. I mean, it comes out in a reasonable time, but it is not rushed. Needless to say, fast food does not exist in Bariloche. I don't even think they have a McDonald's. And no Starbucks, either :)

But... life goes on.