argentina throwback: visitante

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂
so i have two more days until the adventurous life ends, and man am i ready for it. but before i take my position as an indoor pool lifeguard for the next month, i will fill you in on the previous month.

buenos aires with ted:
so after living here for 4 months, there were still some huge, major tourist things that i had saved for the end.
1. plaza de mayo: this is the main plaza in b.a. where the mothers of the disappeared children (google argentina’s cruel dictatorship of the past, where the government stole people right out of their houses and put them in holding camps). every thursday at 3:30pm the mothers march around the circle holding signs of lost loved ones. it is also a location of serious political protests. a great tension spot.

2. boca (el caminito): this small street is full of all the colorful houses you may see all the time in photos of argentina. there is some historical reason for the bright colors…something like those colors were cheaper for the poor people who lived there in the past. but now it is full of tourists taking pictures and watching tango shows and buying boca gear (boca being one of the top soccer teams). it was very fun and beautiful. right on the dirty rio de plata, the widest river in the world. you cannot see the other side. boca is a great town, although extremely dangerous at night. so we hopped on the bus before dark. ted went away with some great new soccer track jackets and jerseys.

3. palermo parks: so apparently there are amazing spreads of green green grass a short distance from my house. lots of numerous parks all with trees and such. we toured the japanese gardens and took lots of photos of the huge coy in the water. ted ate his first choripan and later his first empanada. truly an argentine now.
4. the shouts: while looking for something to do, we discovered a beatles cover band playing…AMAZING. they are ranked as latin america’s best beatles cover band. they looked and sang the part. we have video footage. it was amazing. i left even more obsessed with the beatles.
5. la bomba de tiempo: i of course escorted ted to the improv drum show that i have come to know and love as home on monday nights. he was in heaven. live beats. hippies dancing. all in an old oil factory converted into a great space for performances.
6. dinners with the family: i love my family here. they cook and entertain. ted enjoyed meeting them. i think he loves them just as much as me. it is great to listen to them all try to speak english to him. there are also two new girls from the US moved in to take brittany and i’s spots. they are nice. although i hope they do not live up to my reputation haha.
we did it all. walked down santa fe. shopped at all the weekend markets. took in the sights and sounds of the big city one last time. and then we packed up our bags and headed for peru…
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argentina throwback: peru

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂
PERU!!!! we made it.
checked into hostel royal frankenstein and explored cusco, the “bellybutton of the incan world.” our hostel was owned by this amazing german man named ludwig, who had an amazing daughter named fiona. 4 years old and speaks spanish and german and is learning english. man i need to raise bilingual children. the room was nice. the shower was hot (at times and at a low pressure). the city was beautiful. cusco is full of churches and markets and peruvian people and children who are absolutely adorable.
the spanish is clear. (although now after 4 months in argentina, my spanish is not as clear.) it is a tranquil town with everything fun just outside of it. we came across an amazing children’s art museum where a local non-profit goes to rural communities and teaches art lessons. the children’s artwork was then displayed in this museum.
 they painted their dreams and fears and hopes. it was incredible. the town is peaceful and tourist-filled. tons of people asking if we want massages or to eat at their restaurant. we were there for two days before we shipped out.

4:30am on july 3 it begins.
the group:
dane and krystal-australian couple, ted’s best friends throughout the hike.
nina and alex-two friends, one from uk, one from norway
kelly, kelly, and becca-three girls from michigan who were studying abroad in santiago (one kelly is my roomie next year and the one i visited in santiago earlier)
laura and herbert-our guides

Day One.
i wake up with a headache. i drink tons of water. i then proceed to throw up the water. twice. then we move our backpacks to the sidewalk to await the bus. i throw up again. 5:30am our trek guide comes to pick us up in the bus. i explain my situation. i decide to go anyways.
we take a bus an hour to a breakfast spot. i eat some bread and drink some tea. feeling better. i keep my mind positive and we begin the trek. first herbert (later known as herbie or the last incan tom cruise) paints our faces with red berries to mark our group. we were bonded. we begin. we walk for three hours. up hill down hill over lands never seen before. i had to buy a sweet hat to keep the sun out of my face. it said machu picchu. so cool. we arrive at lunch. a perfectly prepared meal. we ate. i was white. and weak. herbie decided it would be best if i paid 5 soles (5/3 dollar) and rode in the van with the cooks to our camping site. i agreed. especially since poor ted had already been carrying my backpack and his own for some time. so i rode an hour with a bunch of peruvians speaking quechua (native language) and listening to piercingly loud music with a high pitch girl singer. it did not help the sickness. at the campsite, we were so close to the snow-covered mountains. it was beautiful, but very cold at night. i bundled up and got in my tent and awaited everyone else’s arrival. when the actually hikers came, we had tea and popcorn. i thought i was fine. well the altitude had other ideas. we were really high up and the headache hit and then well, that popcorn came back up. twice. i went to bed without eating the delicious trout that apparently still had the heads on them. curled up tight in my mummy sleeping bag and every layer of clothes that i had brought with me.
Day Two.
i wake up feeling not so good. i try to eat. only bread and celery tea. i got to love celery tea (apparently good for the stomach). i packed everything up. we began to hike the hardest part of the trek….i couldn’t make it in my condition, so good old herbie found me a horse for 60 soles (20 dollars) to ride up to the peak. it was amazing. my dream come true. all alone, i rode my horse up the mountains. i took pictures. i stopped and rested with my horse. i could not have asked for a more wonderful experience. i was feeling a little bit better, but the altitude was increasing. by mid-day we (the rest of the group, who sadly had to hike instead of take a horse) made it to the top of Mt. Salkantay with an altitude of 4600m or about 14,000 ft. it was breathtaking. literally, i could not breathe. haha. no, it was beautiful. after soaking in the sights and hard work, we started the descent. through grassy, muddy, rocky lands that reminded us all of ireland for some reason, or rather, what we think ireland looks like. i was feeling weak. i actually hurt my elbow because i was flailing my body so much with each downward step. THEN we had lunch. i ate spoonfuls of rice that ted sweetly placed on my spoon. with each spoonful of rice, i magically become better. it could have also been the decreasing altitude, but let’s say it was the rice. i hiked slow and strong down to our second campsite, a beautiful site next to a flowing river. i finally enjoyed dinner. and the company of my group. everyone finally got to know who sara schneider is. although the mosquitos increased, the temperature got warmer. the sunned faces began to appear. we all went to bed happy and ready to descend more in the morning.


Day Three.
inca flat. this is the description of our day’s hike. inca flat really means up and down hills. some steep, some not. but still lots of downhill. we walked along the river with some breaks, like the one where ted convinced alex to go swimming with him in the rapids. an action that also resulted in ted having twelve bug bites on his back above his pantline. wet clothes will do that. we hiked happily. stopped for food and water. watched some soccer games. then arrived at a small town full of campers. we ate lunch there and napped in the sun while waiting to catch a bus to santa teresa, our third campsite. we got there. after some sketchy mountain roads. we unpacked and headed straight to the hot springs. a letdown. not all that hot. i wanted steaming. i got decently warm. i also got millions of bug bites. once again. i guess that is what water will do to you. but it was nice to rinse off after 3 days of hiking. the night at santa teresa was great. great food. great alcohol. great company. oh and there was a massage train…and a baby monkey named pancho….and two cute little girls speaking spanish and jumping from trees.
Day Four.
awake. much later than usual…7am! pancakes for breakfast! not so good…but nice effort. we began our “tourist flat” hike towards aguas calientes (the town at the base of machu picchu). three hours of semi-flat gravel road with a few fun stops like huge waterfalls and fresh fruit picking. then lunch, our last prepared meal. and we wait to take the train ride into machu picchu. we pass the time by sleeping and writing and making friendship bracelets and eating ice cream. good stuff. then by 5:30pm we are in our hotel in aguas calinetes. all of us attempting to shower at the same time, making the hot water scarce. we are clean. we are happy. we all gather for dinner and watch the parade celebrating july 7, the first anniversary of machu picchu becoming a wonder of the world. then we sleep and dream of incans.
Day Five.
4am. we begin our hike in the dark attempting to beat the sun. huge stone steps straight up. one hour. it was hard. lots of sweat. lots of breaks. but i made it. we were the first group in line to enter. it was still dark. 6am. the gates open and herbie takes us to the top to watch the sunrise. cloudy mountains with sunshine peeping through. the city of ruins being lit up by the sky.

herbie begins our tour through the incan ruins of MACHU PICCHU! each stone sculpted to perfection. each temple perfectly designed to line up with the sun or the moon or another element. a “nearly perfect people” herbie informs us. we spend two hours learning the rich culture and observing the buildings.  i can feel the energy of the people. we learn about the incan cross. the puma, the condor, and the snake. their work ethics. their love. their lives. we all break off. ted and i find a hidden ledge overlooking the mountains. i stare. forever. i could look forever. we meet back up with everyone after taking the bus down and say goodbye to the group. we find a hostel. a horrible hostel with um…wettish beds, but for 20 soles (7 dollars) we grin and bare it. we eat dinner and enjoy more parades. july 7!!! we play cards and explore the city. we sleep.
Day Six.
trek is done. it is time to live it up. we take the bus back up to machu picchu and check in to the hotel that everyone who enters machu picchu is jealous of. “hello mr. bingham and miss schneider.” ahhh luxury. iced coca tea to drink. (oh by the way, coca leaves-the leaves of cocaine plants-are like coffee in peru and northern argentina and all rural areas. it is not illegal. there are teas and candies and foods.) so we see our room. we take the world’s longest showers in the hottest water and then lounge in our slippers and bathrobes. we watch television and rent movies. we eat our food, which is all included. the best food i have eaten in south america, by far. the lunch buffet filled with endless delicacies. the dinner…WOW. i had pumpkin raviolis after an appetizer of beef skewers. a marvelous $70 bottle of wine (already included) and then back to our spectacular room to watch the english patient. all with the beautiful ruins in our sight.

Day Seven. 
our train back to cusco is canceled because the whole country is striking. gotta love south america. so our hotel rebooks our train for the next. they offer us a slightly discounted rate to stay another night…we laugh, explain it was a gift and we are poor and hang out in the clubhouse watching movies and tv until we head back down to aguas calientes after an AMAZING pancake breakfast. we check into a hostel near the central plaza so we do not need to walk up all the hills in the town. we raid the markets. we play cards. we email our hostel and trek companies in cusco. we eat. we pass the time. we sleep in a room a little better than the one before.
Day Eight.
we head back to cusco. a nice train ride filled with adventures such as a dancing masked man and an alpaca (llama) fashion show put on by our stewardess. interesting. we arrive back in cusco by a car provided by our trek. and then we check into frankenstein once more. we walk around town. we buy TONS of llama gifts like the tourists we are and then hang out with katie and tyler (two girls from my argentina program who were visiting cusco also). we sleep.
The Beginning of the End.
flight back to argentina takes two days. get ready.
cusco to lima. then an 11 hr. layover.
lima to santiago. then a 9 hr. layover that turns into an 11 hr. layover with a flight delay.
santiago to buenos aires. YEAH. finally back home. or what seems closer to home. we stay with my host family. we take in some last bits of argentina. we hang out with my family. we shop. we do the fairs.
tomorrow we leave.
i am ready. i am done adventuring. i want to be lazy. i want to sit in the sun. i want to be able to earn money. i want to order american food. i want to see you all. tomorrow i leave. i will leave this city that has become my own. i will leave this family who has become my own. i will leave this country that has become my own. but i am ready.
wait for me with open arms….
so my friends, with blog entry 22 (my favorite number), i conclude this journey. part 1 of my world travels. stay tuned.
love you.
love, me

argentina throwback: el campo

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

so with time winding down and exams taking over my life, i decided to get out of the city for father’s day weekend. my host family has a home in the country that they go to every weekend, and last weekend i joined. it is just outside of a town called mercedes. there are acres of land surrounding the house.

there is a bon fire area. there are old broken jeeps. there is no internet. but there was lots of people and lots of fun.
after a long journey on friday, including a stop at my “dad’s” friend’s house in one of the richest areas around (surrounded by a brick wall because it is right next door to the poorest area around), a stop at some of his business clients, and then we arrived. i had soup for dinner and retired to sleep. saturday i awoke late, around noon, and went outside to admire the property in the daylight. a crisp autumn breeze biting at my nose, reminding me that i had a cold and needed to blow my nose. then i spent all day painting. i painted three paintings and finished all my others. my “dad’s” daughter and her husband and their 5 year old girl came to visit also. she was a handful, but i gladly gave her my watercolors and some paper to help out the adults for at least a little while. saturday night my “mom” edited my 18 page painting research paper about surrealism. yes that is right an 18 page paper in spanish (minus the space of 10 images). she loved it. told me she was impressed with the head on my shoulders. impressed with the way my mind worked. she also requested a painting as a leaving gift. i told her i thought i could manage that. on sunday, nacho’s (the daughter’s husband) family came out for an asado or BBQ for father’s day. we ate lots of meat. i sat and tried to participate in rapid spanish conversations amongst family. then i just retired to play with the children. although that also truly tests your language skills. children. if you can talk to them, you are good. as night approached, we lit a huge fire. i felt right at home.
my “dad” kept asking me if we do things like that where i come from. i informed him that i was well versed in building huge fires. it was weird to watch my host dad in the exact same position i am often used to seeing my real dad in.
sunday night i then caught a ride home with nacho’s sister, who’s car broke down, so then his other sister picked me up from where we were stranded, and then i took the bus home from her house. overall, the perfect way to relax before my last stressful weeks of classes.

but now, i am almost done. monday. tuesday. wednesday. that is all that is left of classes. my documentary turned out awesome. i still have to paint one more watercolor painting. my papers are done. and just two exams awaiting me on wednesday. then i become a tourist in this big city. i cannot wait.

argentina throwback: listas

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35 days remaining. homework and such piling on heavier. but each day i wake up to the crisp autumn air and walk in the hustle bustle of santa fe avenue and remember to breathe. i make lists. on hot pink post-its. the current list:

brown/gray painting
watercolor painting
independent project
finish all other paintings
edit/finish documentary film
documentary essay (2 pg)
spanish presentation
painting analysis essay (7 pg)
poetry exam
spanish exam
phew. then peru. machu picchu. time to live life and return to the crazy force of nature.
there also lists of places still left to see. things to do. two weeks and i again become a tourist. a stranger to this big city. this crazy world of spanish words and milanesa.
my group and i met with our professional editor to edit our documentary film about freakmodels. it is going to be amazing, although it is in spanish, so i guess i will have to translate for all of you monolingual folks. or non-spanish speaking rather. next year, at school, i am going to work on putting english subtitles on it. no worries. it is going to be a great portfolio builder to go home with a 15-20 min. documentary. every photographer dabbles a bit in film i suppose. i think i am starting to miss my photography which is good. very good. my painting here has taken top shelf. something that i am very pleased about, but the photo urge is nice to feel returning. maybe it is rearing its head in time for peru.
the msu girls left. 3 weeks flew by so quickly. a few more people to visit though. my host mom’s other daughter and her two kids (6 and baby) that live in spain are coming at the end of june. my friend rory from high school is coming for a short language program in the end of june also. then of course ted joins me for my adventures. i wish you could all be here. seeing. hearing. smelling. tasting. touching.

argentina throwback: colonia y un deseo para peru

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i am home. i wanted to go out to an african drum show, but i woke up at 6am to go to colonia, uruguay. it started out poorly because it was a required field trip for our spanish class. so we boarded a ferry at 8:45am (why we had to be there at 7am is still questionable) for the one hour river ride to uruguay. colonia is a historical city. a tourist city now. lots of museums. lots of overpriced shops and restaurants. but if you don’t shop or eat and just walk around, the town is heaven. so after we did our ridiculously dumb worksheets for class, a group of friends and i set out to enjoy the day. it has been 40’s here all week and windy, but today, we got lucky. a perfect day. sunny and cool. we wandered the cobblestone streets, climbed the lighthouse, examined a museum and added our own fun by seeing how many stuffed creatures we could take pictures with a cigarette in their mouths, found some very overpriced fajitas, and then sat by the river in the sun. now when i say river, think big lake. you cannot see the other side of the rio del plata. i think it is one of the widest rivers or something special like that. it is also brown. dirty dirty.


tomorrow is june 1. that means 26 days until i am done with all my classes. 26 days until i can travel with the beau in peace. away from the hectic life of classes. peru. i am joining kelly in the countdown to peru. 30 days. then i will be in nature. i am having nature withdrawal here. yes, there are beautiful parks, but i am in south america, surrounded by mountains and nature. yet, i am in a huge city. (where the first starbucks in argentina just opened on friday…lines around the corner even into the night.) life is great here. but i am done. i want to become a tourist of buenos aires and not a resident. i want to begin my five day trek to the top of machu picchu and then live life in luxury thanks to aunt viv, and wake up to the sunrise at the very top of the world. i want to relax in cusco and ride horses through the mountains.
soon.
only 4 essays, 1 project, 4 paintings, 1 documentary film, and 2 exams away.
soon.
so fun observations:
*my bus driver was texting like crazy on his phone while driving, then out of nowhere, stops the bus outside a kiosk. he gets back on the bus with a new phone card. man i hate when i run out of minutes when i am DRIVING A BUS.
*watching argentines attempt to do beer bongs properly is hilarious. i just don’t think they have mastered it quite as well as our american frat boys.
*american food is getting harder and harder to live without. man oh man i am going to eat the most food when i get home. whoever wants to see me needs to just take me out to dinner at a low-class chain restaurant and i will be highly satisfied.
*shopping. i have not bought a single article of fashion. the craving is starting to hit. please send donations to my argentine high fashion fund. i want a pair of leather boots at least.

argentina throwback: lo bueno y lo malo

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So I had an amazing weekend, last weekend. Then there was a week from hell. And now, another great weekend. Nothing so special, but everything extremely special.
The list of fun:
1. Movie nights with Mia and Kate.
You need these. To remind you that you have made new friends and sometimes all you want to do is just be. Not think about everything great there is to do in Argentina. Just the things that you need to do. Like watch Juno and Tommy Boy. Amazing.
2. Nacho y Los Caracoles.
That is Nacho and the Snails. A folk/pop/jam band that played in a small one room bar with an amazing crowd. The band made me smile and clap my hands the whole time. The intermission act was great also. It was a shy girl singing in Spanish, French, and English. The night was full of happiness.
3. Shish Kabobs.
Friends. Food. Music.
 
A night to remember. Brittany’s boyfriend is visiting and rented an apartment for the month he is here. The apartment has a rooftop patio with a grill and hot tub. So he welcomed all her friends by preparing shish kabobs for all. Then the instruments came out. A keyboard. A trombone. A guitar. A harmonica. A tambourine. And of course, our vocal cords. By 2am, we were all sung out. From Tenecious D to Elton John to Sublime to Anna Nalick to personally written songs, all were sung. Well I might add. A good night to look out at the city from a rooftop and breathe it all in.
4. Independiente vs. River.
Another soccer game. This time Kate and I went with a porteño (Argentine). We arrived late after eating massive amounts of choripan and squeezed our way into the solid packed crowd. Within five minutes, like dominos, we all fell down. Too much jumping and cheering and people trying to pass through non-existing spaces. Scary to be covered with hundreds of people and not be able to get up. But exciting none the less. Back on my feet. Then another five minutes, actually maybe two, and we are down again. Sore ankles. Lots of feet on my arms and legs. But I got up. Ready to start jumping and chanting again. ¥DALE DALE DALE ROOOO DALE DALE ROJO! We were safe, do not worry. After half time, the stands cleared out a bit and it was a great fun experience. The game ended 0-0.
5. Tierra Santa.
This is a Jesus themed park. There is a 40 ft. resurrecting Jesus.
Scenes from every part of the Bible. Shows to demonstrate the big parts like the Creation and Nativity and Last Supper.
There is the town of Bethleham for you to walk through.
The church to visit. Ghandi and the Pope and Mother Teresa were also represented. Arabs and Romans roamed the town. A wholly surreal experience. You cannot help to make fun of the statues and such, but then you are like, oh wait this is a statue of Jesus being whipped…
It has been added to the places to take visitors for sure. There are Argentines who take the park very seriously. But oh man is it kitschy.
6. Urban Art Fair.
A display to bring all Argentine hipsters from their hiding spots. I have never seen so many “hip” people in Argentina. But with good reason. Urban art.
Street art. Live painting. Jamming music. Stickers. Toys. Video installations. It was very cool. A unique space to be in and walk around and exist in.
The list of bad:
1. Flu
I got the flu on Wednesday. The flu with a sore neck. Could it be viral meningitis? Nah. So I debate in bed as I watch endless episodes of Dawson’s Creek. Wrong. Not endless. So I move onto Lost. Wednesday. I miss classes. Thursday. I miss classes. Friday. I am still in bed. My body hates me. Saturday. I am healed. But the debate, the tears, how the hell do you call a doctor and explain what is wrong with you in a foreign language? Luckily, Argentina has house calls, so I would just have to call and a doctor would come to me, but then, hmmm how to do you say neck in Spanish? Oh yes, cuello. The tears finally came. I was finally overwhelmed in being in a strange city with a strange language. After three months, I finally cracked. I finally let my guard down and got sick and faced the fear. I am well now. I am ready to take on the next month. Day by day. Ready to live. Ready to see everything, every inch I can before I have to board the plane back to Chicago.
I guess everyone needs a sick day to get motivated again.

argentina throwback: el partido

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Argentine FĂștbol…
Saturday, April 26.
So I decided to take a risk and attend a soccer game. San Lorenzo versus Boca. We sat in the popular section where seats are the cheapest. It is also where it is the craziest and where things get out of hand. One fight broke out and knocked us all over. There is a mafia connection in soccer. Each team has its own band of people who keep things in order and cheer the loudest and lead the ridiculously vulgar chants. When fights break out, the police break in, but then the mafia guys break in and take the perpetrator back to the stands. Oh how the soccer world works. Now onto the players. What fakers! Argentines are hilariously dramatic when “injured.” Always trying to get that call. It was San Lorenzo 1, Boca 0 in the first minute of the game. After that, nothing but hardcore playing. End score 1-0. ÂĄPuta barrio Boca! (Fucking Boca neighborhood.)
Some pictures of Argentine’s version of the big house. haha.

La Doce. Or the twelfth player. Boca’s fans call themselves the twelfth player because Boca’s stadium is very small and the crowd is right on the field. I was at the San Lorenzo stadium. There are people under the banner. They roll it down the stands. Great to watch.
What we entered to…
Brittany, Kate, and I in our blue and red! I bought a sweet San Lorenzo track jacket. We could not be caught wearing any other colors in the popular section or we might have gotten thrown out…
The field.
The team. Kate and I googled all the players before we went so that we could scream for them. When we got there, AgustĂ­n Orion, the goalkeep, was the only one we remembered. Oh well. Instead, we quickly caught on to chanting swears in Spanish. Something about your bitch mother smoking weed?
A great day. Which ended with a horribly long 2 hour wait to catch the bus back to Buenos Aires.

argentina throwback: vacaciones despues de parciales

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We had midterm exams and after my last one, Mia and I went straight to the airport. Straight to a delayed flight. But two hours later, we were on our way to the Northwest of Argentina, Salta. The Northwest is exactly what you would think South America is like. Small villages. Llama sweaters. Rooms you can stay in for one night in people’s homes. SO the trip begins:
Wednesday: Arrive in Salta around 11pm. We get to our hostel, Backpackers Hostel Salta, and check in. We are rushed to the roof where a folk dance show and asado is being held. It was a great hostel filled with all of Europe. People from Denmark, England, Scotland, Whales, Ireland, Germany, Israel, Canada, and of course Mia and I, the two American girls. We celebrated in the activities and then headed to a bar with the whole group. After a late night, we headed home and climbed into our bunk beds, careful not to wake the other woman in our room.
Thursday: We woke up late. I showered, in a shower that was just a showerhead in  the bathroom. Odd. I mean I guess it is common in hostels, but I had never seen that. We explored Salta, although it was a national holiday, so many things were closed. We saw the many churches and toured the artisan’s fair where I bought a great llama sweater. Now I am really living. We made friends with two Israeli boys and an English girl because the boys knew how to drive stick shift and that is all there is here. We took it easy at night and went to bed after a traditional Argentine stew at our hostel for dinner.

Friday: The adventure begins. After visiting many car rental companies, around 11am, we finally departed in our red small car to the South of Salta. There is a main highway or rather dirt road that does a circle through the southern area of Salta. There is another circuit that goes North to Jujuy and around there, but we did not have time to do that one. A website says this about our circuit:
With a 200 kilometres length and covering an extension of a little over 17000 square kilometres, the Valle CalchaquĂ­ Valley is in the west area of the Province of Salta. It forms a fringe running from north to south along the homonymous river, at the foot of the sub-Andean sierras, and constitutes the so-called puna (highlands) border.
If travellers choose to undertake this circuit, they should know that the valley has a 70 kilometres average width, and does not keep the same north-south steepness along all of its course. From 3000 meters high (La Poma), it descends down to 1600 at Cafayate, which stands beside the Valle de Santa MarĂ­a Valley, in the Catamarca zone.
The CalchaquĂ­ valleys are as a geographical unit characterized by the geological depression, which extends through the Salta, Catamarca and TucumĂĄn Provinces. The circuit includes the La Poma, Cachi, Molinos, San Carlos and Cafayate Departments as well.
We drove and drove and saw all the beauty in the world. We stopped in Cachi and took in the archaeological museum and the church. We ate lunch, a brilliant milanesa de pollo, and continued on our dirt road way. We stayed Friday night in Molinos. A small village with only a few restaurants and one internet cafe where all the children flock to hang out online. We arrived and found a “hospedaje” or a family with rooms available to guests, and ate some food and drank some cheap wine ($2 for a bottle) and went to sleep.

Saturday: We got up and bought 11 pastries from the bakery and some drinks from the general store and started out towards Cafayate. We stopped in another town along the way, San Carlos. Where we saw another church and ate some food. Tamales. Delicious traditional corn wrapped balls of meat. We all ordered too much and all tried a bit of Adam’s goat steak, leading to an interesting conversation about killing animals with the Israeli boys. They had differing opinions on everything. After three days, Mia and I were both ready to stop hearing their opinions. We got to Cafayate, which is a vineyard town where I could spend some part of my life. We checked into a hostel there then explored the town. Mia and I made friends with the hostel worker, and he took us to a secret spot for some delicious choripan (chorizo sausage + pan or bread). I am obsessed with choripan. It is all I want. Always. We bought some bottles of wine for gifts and some alfahores (chocolate covered dulce de leche with a cookie) and retired to the hostel. We spoke some Spanish with some French boys who were high on coca leaves. Oh Argentina.
Sunday: Wake up and eat breakfast at the hostel, then on our way to complete the last part of the circle back up to Salta. We drive through beautiful mountain ranges and are all in awe. Oh and in the previous days, we had seen the mountains or rock formations that are in Star Wars Empire Strikes Back. We return the car by 1pm and grab one more choripan before Mia and I say good bye and catch our bus to Mendoza (western-central Argentina).
Monday: We arrive in Mendoza at 10am after an 18-hour bus ride overnight. I was sick with a headache and cold on the bus, so that was no fun, but we did get to watch two movies which eased my pain. After arriving in Mendoza, we killed a few hours by touring the center of the city and grabbing some lunch. Then we boarded another bus around 2pm that would take us to Santiago, Chile. After a long wait at customs at the border, we arrive in Chile around 10pm. Mia’s host family from when she studied in Chile in high school picked us up from the bus station. I was dropped off at Kelly’s (friend from Michigan)  host family’s house in La Reina. La Reina is almost like living in the suburbs. It is quiet and quaint, but still only a short bus ride to the heart of Santiago. Kelly and I stayed up a bit enjoying the fact that we were with a familiar face and then retired.
Tuesday: Kelly had class and so I slept off my bus ride until 1pm. Then I met up with Mia and grabbed some McDonalds in the ridiculously Americanized Santiago. We walked around for awhile and then met up with Kelly after her classes. With school and all haunting her, I left Kelly to write a paper and joined Mia and her host family for a movie. An American Haunting. Pretty scary. Mia was scared that is for sure. It was a nice relaxing day after all my traveling.
Wednesday: Mia and I set out for Valparaiso, about 1.5 hours from Santiago. Valparaiso is a seedy town on the ocean. It is full of hills and artists and thieves and colors and love. We found an amazing old house to stay in and then had the best meal of our lives in South America. I had skewers of Mahi Mahi with coconut and pineapple with a side of poppy seed creamed rice. The restaurant even had sorbet in between our parmesan clams and our meals. That is right world. I ate all that. Me. I ate flavored colored foods. Even clams. It was delicious. So was dessert.
After lunch, we wandered around town taking the elevators up and down hills. We walked stairs. We were warned to get out of a certain area by some locals after we witnessed a police chase. Sometimes it is hard to tell when you are in a bad area when all the buildings are so colorful and welcoming. We admired all the street art and the hills of colored houses. It is almost like a Latin San Francisco. Later we called our moms and hung out at the hostel for a bit. We ate dinner with an English boy and a Brazilian girl from our hostel at a classy pasta place. A high class place, where because I was not that hungry, I asked for spaghetti with butter. There’s the Sara we know and love. We then retired to our cute little room where Mia and I cuddled for warmth. Chile is chilly.


Thursday: We woke up for breakfast before 10am and headed out for a walk around town. We walked along the ocean and wow, I have never smelled so much marijuana at 11am. With every step, the odor scented the air. We might have been in a bad part of town again, but we were loving the atmosphere. I bought two used Spanish poetry books in a cute little bookstore on our way to the bus station. One collection of Chilean poets and one of Pablo Neruda of course. We then boarded the 1.5 hour bus to Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda’s house on the ocean. We ate lunch at a restaurant where they phoned the waitress to come from her house to serve us, and then we walked to Neruda’s home on the sea. His view from his bed:
While waiting to take the tour of his house, we spent some time with the 10 year olds who were there on a field trip. It started with staring but then as one brave girl approached us, it turned into unadulterated love and curiosity. Where were we from? What was this word and that word in English? How do you say my name in English? How did you learn English? What does motherfucker mean? Do you know Arnold Schwarzenegger? Can we have a picture with you? Can you ride the school bus back to Santiago with us? Oh children. How Mia and I loved them. But aside from that, Neruda’s house was interesting. It was a clutter of things. It was a museum more than a house. He had collections of everything. But man oh man, his bedroom was perfect. Two huge windows with his bed diagonally looking out both, at the ocean. No wonder his poetry is so beautiful. After our tour, we boarded the 1.5 hour bus back to Santiago. I explored the amazing subway systems of Santiago and made it home just in time to meet Kelly from her African dance class. We spent the night watching Knotting Hill.
Friday: Awake. Mail letters. Take out money. See the city. Kelly and her Australian roomie, Sam, took Mia and I to an art museum and on a walk through the center of the city. We had some coffee and witnessed an elf using a public telephone. I took a picture don’t worry, but it is on film, so you will have to wait. I shot about 4 or 5 rolls of film with my SLR. So good to have it fixed. Oh if you didn’t know, I broke it and had to find some place to repair it. What an adventure in using Spanish. But I did it. And they had it ready before my trip. So yeah, after our city tour, we began preparations for Kelly’s 21st birthday party. The party began with a bang. Lots and lots of people. Drinks and fun. Some drama and a little fighting and the night ended with Kelly smiling. The night ended with me curled up with a hot water bag because once again Chile is very chilly, especially Kelly’s house.
Saturday: Sleep all day. Then bond all the rest of the day with Kelly. It was amazing to see a close friend because homesickness is starting to set in. Only two more months. We watched Forrest Gump, then Kelly slept while I watched American Idol and Ghost. We made some pasta and vegetables for dinner and retired, smiling at the great time we spent together. I miss her already. I do not miss the freezing house and her semi-overbearing host mother. Or the Chilean Spanish. Man I was lost. It is sort of like all just mumbling. They leave off the end of words and speak all weird. I was so glad to get back to my weird Argentine Spanish that makes sense to me.
Sunday: Mia and I said good bye to our great vacation and boarded the plane back to Buenos Aires, but not before we ate an amazing breakfast buffet at the airport. Who would have thought that good breakfast food would be found at the airport?
Now I am home. Already back into classes. One and a half months left until classes end and the fun trek to Machu Picchu begins. Although, today, I was back home. I stared at the tall buildings and smiled. Leaving the city always makes coming back so much easier. However, leaving the city also means now I am poor and reaching the ends of my traveling funds. Looks like my vacations from Buenos Aires are going to be limited from now on. I am tired and ready for the weekend already. I need to get reacquainted with this amazing city. Today I had to get my fingers printed for my criminal background check so I can get my student visa. It is so silly. We get our student visa this week. I don’t even need it to be legal here. But I guess our programs says we have to get it or else they won’t transfer our credits back. There goes another 200 pesos…
Oh well. Now I return to my studies. A lot of homework lies ahead. A bit from my poetry class for you. We read some Jorge Luis Borges in Spanish of course. But there are translations. I don’t like them though, so I translated them myself for you to enjoy. I leave you on that note.

poetic art (best known as “the art of poetry” but i don’t like that translation at all.)

to look at the river made of time and water
and remember that time is another river,
to know that we lose ourselves like the river
and that our bodies pass like the water.

to feel that waking is another dream
that dream not dreamed and that the death
that we fear in our flesh is that death
of each night, that calls itself a dream.

to see in the day or in the year a symbol
of the days of man and of his years,
to convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a murmur and a symbol.

to see in death a dream in the sunset
a golden sadness, such is poetry
that is immortal and poor. poetry
returns like the dawn and the sunset.

at times in the evenings a face
sees us from the depths of a mirror;
art should be like this mirror
that reveals us to our own face.

they say that ulysses, fed up with wonders,
cried of love on seeing ithaca,
green and humble. art is that ithaca
of green eternity, not of wonders.

also it is like the endless river
that passes and stays and is glass of the same
inconstant heraclitus, who is the same
and is another, like the endless river.

i will do the other one. now. i wish you could read things in spanish. so much more beautiful in his native words.

shinto

when sorrow makes us nothing,
during a second we are saved
by infantile love affairs
of the mindfulness or of the memory;
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face that a dream returns to us,
the first jasmine of november,
the infinite yearning of the compass,
a book that we though was lost,
the pulse of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house for us,
the smell of a library or of sandalwood,
the aged name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unexpected etymology,
the smoothness of the filed fingernail,
the date that we were searching for,
to count the twelve dark bell-strokes,
a sudden physical pain.

eight million are the deities of
shinto
that travel through the land, secretly.
those modest gods touch us,
they touch us and leave us.

we had to write our own shinto poem about what small things we think are gods to us. i will send you mine once we get them back.

argentina throwback: mi vida normal

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 




it has been awhile, but now a post. nothing exciting, except a new life. a life that has sunk into a schedule, into a way of life. a collage of my days and ideas:

first, a journal entry/poem/thing:
Beyond intersection driveways marked
Authorized vehicles only
Policía ramped onto grassy hill anticipating SpeedVok hungry
Bladder combustion dos now tres
Holding until dropped two levels from bussed haven
Arriving shortly to Retire terminal
where more money required to safely reach Coronel DĂ­az
Missing more missing of things lost
for eternity to cara roja
corazĂłn rojo
I miss you now.
second, the first paragraph of an A- creative writing paper about myself:
Necesito una cåmara. Necesito una cåmara, pero tengo mis palabras solamente. Solamente palabra después de palabra para expresarme. No hay una fotografía con mi cara, con mis manos, con mis pies. Pero, estån mis palabras. Y puedo usar mis palabras como una fotografía. Te describo. Me describo. Sin un espejo, mis ojos son tuyos. Ciegos. Pero, nuestras ojos son tuertos solamente. Un ojo puede ver. Puede ver mis palabras. ¥Mira! ¥Mira! Mis palabras son tus ojos. Tus ojos son mis ojos.
third, observations of my normal life:
+most days (mainly when i have dance) i sit or stand on the subte (subway) and gaze away into an imagined world. the man next to me is reading crimen y castigo (crime and punishment). i smile. knowing that i too have read the great work. this man, dressed in a suit, like all men out of college, sits entranced in the russian world of a killer.
+most days i walk to school. 22 blocks. down coronel diaz and onto santa fe then a final trek down riobamba. each day i get to become part of the mob. in this big city so much to smile at while walking a mere 22 blocks at 10am and again around 4pm. walking at pace to my ipod-provided background music to my life. drift into deer eyes of wonderment. i am now a city gal. loving people surrounding me, taking me in and giggling as i do the same in return. exchanging no words but shared emotions. a unit that marches and crosses at stoplights waiting for the orange (yellow i suppose). once it flickers, march on. where to? make up your own stories. who am i to them i wonder. a student? a worker? an artist? a shopper? there on riobamba is the man. the man who works at Moratto, the helado (ice cream) shop. each day as i walk to class, he catches my eyes. at first it was just a widening of the eyes and a smile. now we wave. today he was sweeping outside. we waved and said hola. then back to my path to school. nothing more.
+only in argentina…last night i got out of painting class 2 hours early because i have class in the neighborhood of La Boca, which is also home of the La Boca soccer team and stadium. there was a game last night. and when it let out, it would be very dangerous. so we were sent home early. pack up and go. the soccer fans are crazy here. google them. it is ridiculous.
+staring. is. okay! being blondeish in a society of dark features is exotic. and beautiful. men here are bold and blunt. staring is natural. comments are even more natural. taxi drivers’ eyes wander away from the road for just enough time to make me laugh out loud. oh argentines.
+subte daze. what happens to me when i am riding to dance. i people watch. i read. i miss my stop. then have to walk 5 blocks back the other direction to get to where i need to be. moral of the story…watch the signs.
+mate mate mate. yerba mate is a tea. it is a culture in argentina. every social event has mate. you fill a “mate” or a hollowed out gourd with “yerba” or loose leaf tea and then pour hot water in it and sip out the water with a “bombilla” or a metal straw with a built in filter. you drink one cup then pass it back to the mate owner then they fill it back up and you pass it to the next person in the circle. yum yum yum. i just bought a mate made of wood with a sunflower carved into it.
+5am nights. argentine life starts and ends late. my weekend: a bar called Jobs that had pool tables, board games, playstation, and archery…yes archery. alcohol and archery just doesn’t seem like a good idea. then a milonga (tango hang out). a reggae bar with singing and jamming waiters. an improv comedy show (see below). and lastly the feria de mataderos (see below). fun fun fun. i sleep a lot instead and opt out of the nightlife scene. although theater and shows don’t start until 10pm either.
+the smoke. there were recently accidently forest fires in the provencia (outside the city), about 30-50 miles away, and the smoke engulfed the city. you could not see in front of you. you smelt like campfire at all times. your lungs hated you. but i can see clearly now, the smoke has gone. sunny and 70 again without a haze of death.
+mcdonalds is just better here.
improv comedy show: a friend and i ventured to this show, in spanish. we had to write down original titles. there were two teams of comedians. we voted on titles from the audience and then the comedians had to act out that title in different styles (opera, slow motion, rhyme, science fiction, soap opera, etc.). then the audience voted on which team was better. i understood maybe 75% and it was hilarious. the judge was also a transvestite with stop sign read hair wearing a one piece leather jumpsuit. super great.
feria de mataderos: (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE) this is a market about an hour outside of buenos aires. it has live music and dancers and tons of crafts and clothes and jewelry and food and amazingness. it is the gaucho fair. the real authentic “cowboy”-esque argentines. we had choripan (sausage) and bought some great things for very cheap.
also, film festival: there was a two week long independent film festival that was only 4 pesos (around $1) to see films. i saw some great ones. one about the andy warhol factory. another about argentine rock star, sumo. i am sad it is over, now back to expensive movies, 18 pesos ($6).
my classes are going great. i will post some of my paintings when they are finished. we have midterms next week and then break. i am going with my friend mia to salta and jujuy (northwestern argentina) and then to mendoza (western-central argentina) and then to santiago, chile to visit kelly! should be a blast and a nice and welcome break from MI VIDA NORMAL.

argentina throwback: overdue

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 
This should have been my first post, but oh well, it is now time to meet my family!
 
Silvia and Gustavo (mom and dad)  

Remiro and Soledad (sister and her boyfriend)
Ro and Agustin (brother and his girlfriend)
also, my grandma and her sister.
(my grandma is the one with white hair.)
mom and me.
pops and me.
Brittany (my other american roommate)
she is freaking out about reading 50 pages in spanish.

Yeah! I love my family.