Tag Archives: travel

Mi Buenos Aires querido

Over the course of my study abroad many friends and family members have asked if I am homesick. It was difficult for me to come up with an answer to this question initially and now I think I’ve finally figured it out. As with many things in life there is no simple black and white answer. Have I been homesick? Well, what is a home anyway? Webster defines it as the place where one lives permanently. What if you’re like me? You consider yourself a nomad, or someone who is constantly moving from place to place. Well, Webster offers another option: a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates. Except I run into yet another dilemma: all three of those places are different. I originate from Birmingham, Alabama, for the past two years in the States the place I could most typically be found was Atlanta, Georgia, but that place is now Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the place where I flourish? I believe that I flourish in many places, if not everywhere I am. Of course I miss my family and my friends, certain routines or habits, and favorite restaurants, but do I miss the United States?

Over the many long bus rides or trips to cross borders people inevitably have their passports in hand at some time or another and it seems to be the norm that everyone wants to trade passports to see what other countries’ passports look like. After receiving mine back I spent a few moments in quiet reflection flipping through the pages and the answer finally occurred to me: I believe that I miss a United States of America that no longer exists. Or if it does exist, it exists for few and is no longer true of the entire country. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing a U.S. passport, know that of all the passports I’ve flipped through, ours is the most elaborate, the most artistic, and the most inspiring. Within the pages there are background photos of the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower (or some other initial colonizing ship), a bald eagle, buffalo grazing on grass in front of snow-capped mountains, a steamboat cruising down a river, a farmer clad in blue jean overalls plowing the ground using a hand-held wooden plow pulled by oxen with wheat in the foreground and a homestead in the background, wild West cowboys herding cattle on horseback with mountains in the background, a coal-burning, black-iron train, a black bear with a fish dangling from its mouth, an Indian totem pole, among others.

Accompanying these various images are quotations across the top of the pages under which entry and exit visas are stamped. The quotations range from excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, to things said by various presidents like George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt and revolutionaries like Martin Luther King, Jr. My favorites are these:

“Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say “Farewell.” Is a new world coming? We welcome it –and we will bend it to the hopes of man.” — Lyndon B. Johnson

“We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so.” — Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version

Despite the election of Barack Obama in November and the renewing spirit of America, I still feel like America is missing her original spark, her original charm. The good old homestead is fading into the background and I feel that I have a nostalgia for a country and a time that I never knew. Perhaps I lived a little too vicariously through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series Little House on the Prairie growing up.

But now, as this incredibly exciting, life-changing chapter in my life comes to an end it is, as most endings are, bittersweet. I did not, as most people do, fall in love with this city at first glance or in a matter of a few days. I was enthralled with it for the first few weeks and then after that my feelings vacillated between love and dislike. This is unusual for me because usually I fall in love with cities immediately. New York City? Check. Washington D.C.? Check. Savannah? New Orleans? Atlanta? Check. Check. Check. But Buenos Aires and I? We had to grow into our relationship and as my time narrows down to a close I realize all the things I love about this city and that I will miss dearly when I’m gone.

Maté. Parques. People playing guitars in the parks while drinking mate. San Telmo. Submarinos. Children. The inability of anyone to drive in a traffic lane. Palermo. Cuisine. Architecture. Girls playing hopskotch. Little girl outside the fruteria. Cafe culture. Mis amigos. Being surrounded by Castellano (Spanish). My host family. One word: medialunas. The kindness of people here. Public transit. Subte línea A. Colectivos (I´m joking, sort of). …This list could go on forever.

Also, as I have travelled around the country on weekends and during the last few weeks I have been able to see the larger picture of Argentine culture and life. From the pampas, to the Andes, to Tierra del Fuego, I have to admit that the rest of the country won over my heart before the city did. For me the phrase cannot simply be, ‘Mi Buenos Aires querido,’ but rather, ‘Mi Argentina querida.’ This country and its people will forever hold a very dear place in my heart, having been my home for five months. I do not know when I will be back, but I do know that it will be hard to stay away for long.

As I write this I’m not quite ready for this to be over. It’s difficult knowing that the next time I’m here the experience will be something completely different. I will not be 20 years old, meeting Argentines on a college campus, and have the sole responsibility of passing my classes. Hopefully I will still live life with arms wide open and be able to make new friends as easily as I do now, but we all know that experiencing something when you’re 20 is very different from the same experience when you’re 25 or 30. And I guess, as is always the case, time moves too fast and endings never happen when you’re ready for them. But here’s to goodbyes and the next chapter of my life with the many more exciting adventures it is sure to hold!

Mind Over Matter

A little over a year or so ago my best friend, Carleson, was in Atlanta for a few hours. He comes every now and then to visit me and hang out, but this particular time I think he had just returned on a flight from the U.K. and was waiting on someone to drive to Atlanta and take him back to Birmingham. We spent a few hours checking out downtown and as we were coming out of the subway and upon approaching the stairs and escalator there was a dilemma. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m lazy and I almost always take the escalator. Except this time Carleson looked at me out of the corners of his eyes, gave me a ‘What the fuck?’ look and remarked, “Hashem gave you legs, Emily–use them.” Every now and then that comment comes back to me so I don’t forget to be grateful every day for what I have, not the least of which is a functioning, healthy, able body.

A year ago if you had mentioned strapping a 20-pound backpack to your body and climbing up the side of a mountain I would’ve looked at you as if you were crazy. In fact, I still do. Who was the person who decided that would be fun? Or even remotely worthwhile? I’d like to give them a big smack upside the head. However, after having done a day hike in Córdoba with Charlotte and then spending two days hiking around Parque Nacional de los Glacieres in El Chaltén, Argentina, I finally decided to do the real thing and hike and spend a night camping in the mountains.

I mentioned that I was going alone, but the thing is, when I go things alone, I never end up that way. I mostly travel alone because it allows you to meet people and do things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do with a friend, and much less in a group. Upon getting off the bus at the entrance to the trail I met a group of Israelis (there’s so many of them in Patagonia!) and doing the hiking and camping with them. There were three guys and a girl and it worked out perfectly because we all hiked at pretty much the same pace. Particularly Maya and I who probably stopped every 10 minutes gasping for air and a scene kept popping into my head from Diary of a Mad Black Woman, where the grandmother sits down in the middle of the ransacked closet and heaves, “And while you’re down there… bring me some oxygen!” We were doing the first leg of what is called the “W” because of the rough shape it makes on the map. This particular leg towards Campamento Torres, which is supposed to be about 9 and a half kilometers and takes about 3 and a half hours, involved hiking straight up a mountain for the first hour and a half before it finally leveled out a bit and became more of rolling hills on the side of a mountain until you reach the first camp. I finally learned to break it up and set mini-goals for myself to keep from stopping so much and that made it a little bit more bearable.

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From the first camp, Chileno, to Torres, the path was through woods and was more of the uphill battle. I have to admit, whoever said it was mind over matter clearly never stood at the base of a mountain and decided to hike up it with a very heavy backpack while also bearing in mind that the body you would be doing this trek in? It hasn’t done much more working out than running on a treadmill once in 5 months, walking short distances around a very flat, paved city, running to catch buses, swimming a few laps in a pool a few times a week, the occasional dancing, the day hike in Córdoba, the climb up the mountain in Bariloche, and the 2 days of hiking in El Chaltén. Also, that 20-pound  backpack I mentioned above? It actually weighed 32-pounds (or roughly 15 kilos) as I found out when I got back to the hostel and weighed it. Or maybe the person did know what they were talking about because I did it and I lived to tell the story.


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Once we reached the campsite everything was pretty much hunky-dory. As hot as we were while hiking, the temperature plus the wind chill was very cold and as we were pitching our tents Rotem reported that it was raining. As I looked up and then looked at the top of my tent I exclaimed, “It’s not raining, it’s snowing!” I could’ve died with happiness right then and there. My first real experience backpacking and camping AND it’s snowing? What more could a girl ask for? We all quickly set up our tents and the guys got out the stove to head up some water for tea.

After setting up camp one of the guys decided, after having hiked for several hours, that it would be a good idea to go hiking some more! What better way to warm up than that! And so, having dropped everything off at camp and taking with us only what was needed, we set out for the mirador (look-out point) of the famous Torres del Paine. This is where the mind over matter thing really starts to come into play. Here is what the matterhalf of the equation looked like:


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Almost to the top!

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Do not underestimate the difficulty of climbing up something like this.

Now imagine having to climb up it for an hour. I think it took us a little longer than that because we all kept stopping and wondering if it was really worth it since we were basically inside of a cloud due to the snow and knew we wouldn’t be able to see much. Besides, we were going back up at sunrise in the morning because it had been highly recommended. Yaniv, Maya, and I made it to the top while Rotem and Ofer went up about three-fourths of the way before turning around to go back to the camp. The view at the top, even though obstructed by clouds, was still incredible. If not the least of just being able to say that I did it. So many times during that day I couldn’t believe how much my body was able to do! Pushing myself way beyond normal limits and things that I previously thought I would never do has pretty much been the theme of my stay here in Argentina. So many times I kept thinking, “Look what I just did!” and being so grateful for a body that is strong enough to allow me to see views that most only see in photographs.

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Me at the top!

The way back down was just as difficult because after 10 years of gymnastics my knees have had their share of a beating and they still don’t appreciate walking down mountains, much less having to step down off of boulders. Thank G-d the guys were in the same way I was: after 3 years of being in the Israeli army and doing a lot of running they were willing to take it slow as well. Back at camp Rotem cooked rice and lentils for us while the others ate sandwiches. We went through my stash of dried fruits pretty quickly during the hike and the dried coconut and mangos were a crowd-pleaser.


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It was freezing that night and I slept in increments due to some discomfort or another. I had layered up with a pair of waffled long johns, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a tank top, a sweater, a fleece jacket, and a sweater wrapped around my head, bundled inside my sleeping bag and still froze. It’s a good thing I went up to the mirador the day before because we all overslept and missed witnessing the sunrise (shocker!) and when they decided to head up around 7:30 or so I was congested and my eyes had crusted over. Needless to say I passed on going back up to the mirador but I’m told the view, while better than the previous afternoon, was still clouded over. I went back to sleep for a few hours since the temperature had warmed up a bit and I wasn’t feeling well. After a quick breakfast of oatmeal made with dried milk and a dash of vanilla or chocolate milk flavoring (try it!), breaking down the tents, and packing up it was back to the sendero (trail).

When we reached Campamento Chileno I decided to let them go ahead of me since my bus wasn’t until later that afternoon and they had about 7 and a half hours of hiking to do that day. Let me tell you, hiking alone is a lot more challenging because there’s no one in front of you to motivate you to keep going up that mountain! The day before some day hikers had stopped on the side of the trail to let us go past since we were heading up a mountain with ridiculously heavy backpacks and they cheered us on. That was one of the highlights of the trip.

While I was hiking it didn’t seem to bother me, but upon getting to the base of the mountain and trying to find out when the next bus was coming to take me back to Puerto Natales my eyes were burning something fierce. After much frustration with trying to find out what time the next bus was coming (hello, South America–let’s get with it, eh? A little more organized and coordinated, please?) I ended up getting a ride with a lovely Swedish couple back to the entrance of the park and from there waited about 45 minutes for a bus. When the 4:00 bus finally came I was informed that the bus I had been told about before? It didn’t exist. The next bus would be there at 7:45 and I would have to wait there until then. Let me tell you, knowing Spanish has really come in handy with getting myself out of these situations. I explain what’s going on with eyes and at this point am barely able to keep them open and can’t see so well. The lady comes back over 5 minutes later to where I was sitting and tells me that the bus that she had just told me didn’t exist? There’s one seat left and I can’t take it back to Puerto Natales.

Getting back to civilization I drop everything off at the hostel and after wallowing in pain for a few minutes on the bed I finally get up the strength to go to the pharmacy. After explaining what is going on and how I stupidly changed my right contact lens out the day before after only rinsing my hand off in river water. No one had any soap or antibacterial gel so at the time it had to suffice because my contact had been bothering me all day and I knew it had to come out or I’d risk scratching my cornea. The pharmacist takes one look at my red, swollen eyes and gives me antibacterial drops with cortisone and sends me on my way. I walk two blocks with my hands holding my eyes open to a vegetarian (!) restaurant to eat some dinner so I can just go back to the hostel and sleep. At the restaurant I eat as quickly as possible because my vision was getting worse even though I had put the drops in. I kept thinking about how much I wish my mom or a friend was there to take care of me because I wanted nothing more than for someone to feed me the soup I was eating, take my hand and lead me back to the hostel, and then take care of me for the rest of the night. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case so I strained to keep my eyes opened as I walked one more block back to the hostel where I passed out at 8:30. I woke up periodically through the night with tears streaming down my face and my pillow soaked with them, but when I woke up this morning my eyes were feeling considerably better. My right eye was the one that had been the worst yesterday, but this morning it was my left one, so I put my right contact in (I left my glasses in Buenos Aires, which I now regret). I woke up at 8:45 so, having missed my 8:30 bus back to Argentina I laid in bed for another half an hour and then went down for breakfast.

Again after much frustration with bus companies, I ended up just paying for another ticket with a different company for a bus back to El Calafate since I have also missed a bus from El Calafate to Rio Gallegos on my way to Ushuaia and didn’t have time or money to wait around in Puerto Natales until  tomorrow morning. I just finished eating an apple that I “illegally smuggled”–according to Yaniv–from Argentina to Chile. I declared that I had fruit on my Customs form, but the guy read it, stuck his hand in my bag which, when asked, I told him was full of “ropas sucios.” Dirty clothes. And that’s the truth. A load of laundry that would cost no more than $6-9 pesos in Buenos Aires costs anywhere between $25 and #35 pesos here in Patagonia. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to pay around $10 American dollars for a load of laundry. Anyway, all that aside I have just been through Customs again and am officially back in Argentina. If everything goes well I’ll be in Tierra del Fuego by Wednesday night.

View entire set of pictures from this post here.

Patagonian Adventure, Part I

Since my words could never do justice I’ll just show you the beauty of Hashem’s creation.

Glacier Perito Moreno en El Calafate, Argentina

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View entire set here.

Fitz Roy, El Chaltén, Argentina

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View entire set here.

A detailed recount of my camping adventure in Torres del Paine, Chile, coming soon!

Hacia rutas salvajes

I’m sitting next to a darling little wood burning, wrought iron heater in a hostel in Puerto Natales, Chile. It has a lone burner on top and I am just relishing the fact that it is a mere 9 degrees Celsius outside at the moment, but with the wind chill it supposedly feels like 4 degrees Celsius. I don’t know what that converts to in Farenheit, but it means cold. I may have cursed it a little bit when I was learning how to set up my tent about two hours ago, but I was mostly cursing the wind for making it feel so much colder than it actually is. And maybe the added fact that the wind is coming off of water. Water that is at the base of mountains and glaciers. I can’t get over that fact.

Also, did you notice that I just mentioned I just got finished packing my backpack? Because I can’t get over this fact either: I’m going camping tomorrow. On my own. As in, alone. In Torres del Paine National Park. I’m incredibly excited but also really nervous. I’ve spent the past few days hiking with traveling friends in Glacier National Park near El Chaltén, Argentina, but hiking during the day is definitely different than spending the night in Patagonia. The fact that the wind is significantly stronger here and the chill requires layering sweaters and long johns has me nervous that the little one woman tent I rented isn’t going to keep me so toasty.

Add that to the fact that the only camping experience I have involved setting up a tent the basement of my troup leader’s house when I was a Brownie Girl Scout way back when. We were going to “really” camp in her backyard but torrential rains came in that night and so that plan was a wash. Granted, we did end up learning how to fry an egg on a tin coffee can, but since I’m not carrying a camping stove and don’t have any intention on cooking anything, that experience doesn’t really help. Guess all those badges were just for looks after all. Speaking of food, all I have is several bags of dried fruit and half a thing of fruit-infused cookies and two apples. I’m completely new to this whole thing and since I happened upon a store that only sold dried food across the street from where the bus dropped me off that plan was a go. They had bins and bins full of fruit and none of it seems to have any added sugar (we are in South America after all, and thank G-d for that), but the idea of eating tafffied fruit for two whole days isn’t the most appealing thing in the world either.

However, I’m going camping and that’s all that matters to me right now. Maybe I’m doing this to prove something to myself, but when I decided to come down to Patagonia I wanted to rough it a little bit and really get out into the wild. What can I say? It may have been the movie to inspire a generation. My heater just got turned off so that means I need to go brave the cold and run to the ATM and then get some sleep. I have about 4 hours of necessary hiking tomorrow and I want to have some energy left to do some exploring once I get set up at the campsite!

L’chaim!

Esperanzas Verdaderas

When I went to the U.S. Embassy to turn in my absentee ballot a few weeks ago I ended up striking up a conversation with the guy in line behind me. As we waited we exchanged stories about what had brought us both to Buenos Aires, how long we had been here, where we were from in the States, and so on. After we submitted our ballots we were both going in the same direction and continued talking. Having a little free time we did the only proper thing to do when you’re in Buenos Aires and want to socialize: we went to a cafe. Him for coffee and me for lunch.

Having already established that Ethan was working down here as a writer and moved here for the sole reason that he wanted to experience something different, I had to ask why he chose Argentina. Ethan has picked up Spanish in the two years that he has spent living here, but did not speak a word of it when he first arrived. He shared humorous stories about things being lost in translation, we talked about the frustrations we have both experienced in everyday communications, and I poked fun at him for his rather large map which he pulled out to show me where a really cool bookstore was located in San Telmo. I, for one, refuse to be seen holding a guide book in my hands these days and try to be inconspicuous about whipping out my Guía T when taking unfamiliar bus routes, but Ethan announced that he has no problem whatsoever standing in the middle of the sidewalk, map noticeably held up in front of his face shaking it for exaggeration, and exclaiming, “Estoy perdido! Muy perdido! Ayudame, por favor!” He acted out this scene for my amusement as we’re sitting at the table and I laughed loud enough that I’m sure people on the sidewalk outside turned to see what was so amusing to the Americans. After numerous tangents we finally got back to the question at hand: “Why did you choose Argentina?” And so the story began.

Ethan provided me with a brief overview of the situation in Argentina after the 2001 collapse of the economy and what life was like at the time and is still like for many here in the city. Relating it to the current crisis that the United States is experiencing he raised the question to me of what the reaction is for Americans right now, most of who have never lived through any economic crisis and many who can’t comprehend what life was like during the Great Depression. I responded that majority of Americans were in a panic. I can’t open a news website now without finding at least one headline or article about how Americans are relearning the meaning of frugality, panicking about paying their mortgages, losing their homes, and so forth. The attitude of many has become solemn and fear-stricken. He then calls over our waiter and asks if he would mind answering a question for us. The waiter obliges. After an explaining what he were talking about Ethan proposes the question (in Spanish, so all translations or mis-translations are mine alone): “Do you think another financial crisis is likely to happen in the future?” The waiter nodded his head in response to Ethan continued, “Since you acknowledge that another financial crisis is imminent for Argentina, how do you live?”

The waiter doesn’t understand the question. Not because we didn’t ask it correctly, but because it doesn’t make sense to Argentineans. What do you mean how do we live? We live. Our waiter continued to explain that his son doesn’t currently have a job and he isn’t sure how he can afford to support him, only that he can’t afford it. Times are tough, the economy still hasn’t gotten back to where it was pre-2001 collapse and now it’s starting to get worse again. After the waiter tells us a little bit more about his life he walks off to help someone else. Ethan turns to me and says, “Did you understand that?” and I tell him I did but I’m confused about where he’s going with this. He looks me straight in the eye and says, “I went back to the States for a few weeks about a month ago and I swear my blood pressure is still up from that short time. People are always in despair, in a panic about something and the government doesn’t help. Here, times are tougher and people work longer hours for less pay but you know what? At the end of the day, as long as they have their family and can afford to have a beer, life is good. They have hope.”

And it struck me how true this was. Argentines, and porteños in general, are a pretty laid back bunch. If nothing else, their cafe culture shows this. They have a tea time of sorts here called ‘merienda’ and it’s not at all unusual for every table in rather large cafes to be pull of friends and families drinking coffee, sharing medialunas or other alfajores, and simply enjoying each others company. On the weekends many are sitting outside of parillas with a 770ml of beer sitting in the middle of the table laughing and talking. And on any given weekday at any hour you will always find a fairly large number of people sitting in the parks and plazas with friends sharing maté, enjoying live music on the weekends, playing a guitar and singing, or taking a nap while soaking up the sun, and on the weekends this is even more so. You are pressed to find a spot to sit down on beautiful days because it seems the entire city is outside. I now realize that this probably has to do with a more socialist culture where its all for one and one for all and I think Americans would be the better of for it if they learned to lean on each other a little more and realize that life isn’t about working your life away to buy things you don’t need. It’s about realizing the blessing of having friends and family around you, taking care of each other, and letting everything else fall where it may.

Algún lugar / Ningún lugar

Due to the immense amount of school work that has come up over the past few weeks I have not had time to take any trips outside of the city. Last week I was really getting frustrated by the routine I was falling into and the realization of how quickly my time here is passing. A few weeks ago I created a new, updated version of my new year’s resolutions from January and it was appropriate timing seeing as how the past two days were one of the two Jewish new years, Rosh Hashanah.

Since my study abroad program occasionally offers little excursions for us to take advantage of like theater productions, museum visits, bike tours, concerts, and the like, all free of charge I decided to see what was coming up. I have a list of places to see and things to do while I am here in Buenos Aires, and one of the excursions would allow me to make good on the commitments I made to myself. MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) is the modern art museum here in Buenos Aires, much like New York’s renowned MOMA. The invitation was to check out one of the current exhibits by Félix González-Torres as well as other showcases of Latin American artists. To quote the pamphlet I picked up while at the museum, “The Félix González-Torres. Somewhere / Nowhere. Algún lugar / Ningún lugar exhibition includes work from his most celebrated series whose relevance and connection to current world problems is striking.”

“[González-Torres] abraded notions like authorship, private property, and art collection, allowing some of his pieces to be ‘dissolved’ by the public through a simple act of appropriation:eating a candy or taking home a sheet of paper. But, if not recomposed, those gradually disappearing works can reappear anywhere and anytime: they are infinitely reproducible and their supply, endless.”

As we wandered through the exhibit with our guide listening to explanations about what each piece was supposed to convey (in Spanish!) my thoughts kept drifting to how I didn’t think art was successful if a viewer had to be told what it was supposed to convey. Isn’t that defeating the point? Or shouldn’t a piece be left open so that the viewer can create his/her own meaning and take from it what they will? Or is that just selfish? It’s one of the conflicts I’ve always had with modern art. Most of it resembles something I imagine a 5 year-old could have created (though I do admire Jackson Pollock!) and doesn’t ever speak to me. Some pieces seem to be an experiment in architecture or physics, but nothing extraordinary. Perhaps this is why I have always preferred photography and the written word.

As the tour came to a close our guide left us with the final piece and my favorite. In front of me were two huge stacks of paper, each about three feet in height. From a distance they appear to be merely blank white sheets until you stand next to them and see that there is one simple sentence in a classic black typeface, each of which resounds with you in a different way. The first one I read stated:

Somewhere better than this place.

The phrase on the stack immediately next to it read:

Nowhere better than this place.

When you first read these you may recall the ever-quoted notion about the grass not being greener on the other side. Or, as the museum pamphlet observes, “Together, the two statements seem to vacillate between the promise of future happiness and life as it is right now.” As I again reflect on what these sentences mean, I’m reminded to always try to live in the moment and appreciate where I am. I am always one to get sucked into creating goals and achieving them but not always focusing on the process. After a few weeks of being in Argentina my mind started drifting to, “What’s next? What’s my next move? Where’s my next location?” It was all I could do to not be ready to finish my last year of college and Georgia State and head to Israel and wherever else my ambitions take me to. In fact, when I mentioned the updated list of resolutions above, I failed to mention that I also created a list of resolutions for 2009. This is probably I biggest fault: I am forever planning for the future.

A few weeks ago I was at a party with Argentines as well as other exchange students. Since I actively avoid talking with other Americans (with the occasional exception of speaking in English with the Europeans I encounter), I spent much of the night with two Italian girls, a girl from Paraguay, and several Argentines. As I sat there surrounded by an excited, loud conversation in Spanish I just smiled and soaked it in before turning to a friend next to me and exclaiming, “I want to stay here until I understand every word they’re saying!” And I do. As much as I’m starting to think I’m not as much of a city girl as I used to be, I thoroughly enjoy all of the opportunities and experiences that are available to one in a city that would not be elsewhere. The people and the experiences make living in a city worthwhile for me and also because the diversity of scenery that Argentina has to offer is unbeatable. I think you would be hard pressed to find another country with as many different vistas as this one offers, between the pampas, Iguazú, Salta, the Central Sierras, the Andes, the coastline, and the prime reservation of possessing the city at the end of the world before reaching Antartica, Ushuaia.

Nowhere better than this place.

‘This place’ being exactly where I am right now in location and in my life.

A Picture’s Worth

I’m writing you to
Catch you up on places I’ve been
You held this letter
Probably got excited, but there’s nothing else inside it

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
In the mood to lose my way with words – John Mayer, “3×5”

My story with Córdoba is a little different from the lyrics above. I did have a camera by my side, but frustrated by my lack of photography skills and my inability to capture the beauty around me, I didn’t take near as many pictures as I usually do. And unfortunately for all of you, words and the desire to document this trip escape me. Charlotte and I had a fabulous time, and my personal highlights of the trip were getting to parapante (a cross between paragliding and skydiving–you have a parachute, but it’s not a free fall… you get to glide like a bird!) and experiencing a real asado (barbeque) with the locals (also our parapante guides) of the central Sierras. The few pictures that did get taken are below in a photo montage with captions, and hopefully that will suffice in telling my story.

(Pictures were taken with either my point-and-shoot, Charlotte’s point-and-shoot, or my beloved Nikon D70–click on the images to read the caption and if you desire, you can click the image again on that page to view the photo in its largest form.)