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.