Saturday, April 3, 2010
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
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.
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.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
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. :-)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Ohhhh how I love it here.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
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
Thursday, February 4, 2010
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."
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
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
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
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 :)
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.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
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.
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
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
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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
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.
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
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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.