h is for…

heladera. 

this is what i came home to last night… actually this morning. the fridge open. almost all of the food out, save for a few odds and ends. for what you ask? to get rid of that giant piece of ice that had formed along the back wall. makes sense, right? well yes i guess it was necessary, but the entire kitchen floor was also flooded with water. and good thing it was light out when i got home or otherwise i might have slipped and broke an arm. i don’t know if there would be a better way to do unfreeze the refrigerator, but being that its my last week here, i’m finding myself incredibly fed up with all of susy’s little antics. there is very little food in the house (we haven’t had ANY fruit or vegetables in a good 4 days) and today she said she doesn’t want to go to the store because its too hot. so instead, she’s sitting outside in the blistering sun in her bikini.

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g is for…

gracias. 

gracias to my wonderful parents and family members who have ALWAYS been there for me, who have cheered me on during my life’s highs and picked me up during it’s lows. i really wouldn’t be half the person i am today if it weren’t for each and everyone of you. and although today we’re 5,500 miles apart i’m thinking of all of your today. we have our going away dinner tonight with all of the students and staff of IFSA. they are bringing in turkey to honor thanksgiving. regardless, dad, i’m putting you in charge of having seconds (no wait, probably thirds) to take care of my portion. remember, i like olives, cranberry sauce, lots of stuffing, and cheesy potatoes. and don’t forget the apple pie.

gracias to my friends. near friends, far friends, old friends, new friends, best friends and even just acquaintances, thank you. wherever you are in the world, i am thankful for you today. thank you for challenging me to become a better person. thank you for all of the laughs, all of the tears (both happy and sad), and all of the wonderful conversations that make getting out of bed each morning so much easier.

gracias to susy, my CRAZY host mom who has taught me so much over these past four months. thank you for correcting my articles and my improper use of the subjunctive. thank you for laughing when i want to cry. thank you for the countless good meals you have provided and even the few meals i didn’t really enjoy but stomached anyway. thank you for taking me in and making me a part of your family and of your life. i will never forget these four months on emilio jofre.

gracias to the country of argentina. your landscapes, breathtaing. your people, incredibly warm and welcoming. your food, fattening but delicious (minus the glandulas and morcilla). and your climate, always sunny and dry.

gracias to my (terrible) improv professor. thanks to your class, i have met some absolutely wonderful people. i have spent the past four months putting myself out there. yes, i’ve made a few mistakes (okay more like a million), but i have learned. i will never forget that corazón is a masculine word. and i have had my argentine theater debut and i hate to admit, i actually enjoyed it. also, thanks to you, i WILL, after all be able to spend a week travelling uruguay. 

gracias to whoever is out there controlling the universe for somehow always managing to work things out. you never fail.

happy thanksgiving!

menos sol, más vino.

they say mendoza is the tierra del sol y buen vino, the land of sun and good wine. although the moments of sunshine were few and far between this week, mendoza definitely still delivered on the good wine part of its namesake. i have yet to figure out where the sun went the one week of the year my parents decided to come to town. but it could have been a lot worse. it could have been much worse. less sun than usual? no problems here, we made up for the lack of rays with an abundance of malbec.

keeping with the alphabet theme. here goes nothing. e is for…

emociones. yes, for you non-spanish speakers, it’s what we like to call a cognate. a word that sounds similar in both languages. emotions. what a rollercoaster of a week it has been in terms of these bad boys. here’s how i’ve been feeling lately. i apologize ahead of time for the assured sappiness of this entry. remember, rollercoaster.

monday 11.14ansiosa [anxious] knowing that my parents were to be arriving the next afternoon, i spent all day monday nervous about the week that i had planned for them. would they like what i had planned? am i missing anything? how can i be the best host to the two people who have raised me for the past 2o years. will they like it here? its supposed to rain all week, i sure hope to god it doesn’t. didn’t sleep well monday night and woke up at 8am tuesday morning thankful the night was over and my parents were actually on their way.

tuesday 11.15alegre [joyful]. my parents arrived tuesday afternoon. susy and i went together to pick them up from the airport.  yes, skype works wonders. there is nothing better, though, than a familiar hug from your parents.

wednesday 11.16dudosa [doubtful]. clouds, wind, rain. lousy weather. the forecast looks like this for the rest of the week. a majority of the plans i had made involved the outdoors. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? type a personality syndrome really killed my spirits this day. we also spent a few morning hours and a few post siesta hours walking along las heras looking for the ‘perfect’ mate (mah-tay, not meight) for my parents. didn’t think we were ever going to find it. 7 hours later, we did.

thursday 11.17energizada [energized] kayaking in the tranquil lake in portrerillos and ziplining in the pre-cordilleras of the andes? crossing the river UPSIDE down on the last zipline? WONDERFUL. i think we all felt like we could take on the world.

friday 11.18entretenida [entertained]. friday morning we got up and headed to maipú to do a biking tour of the camino de vinos. a set of at least a few dozen vineyards and wineries, mapiú is famous for its bike and wine tours. we rented bikes from mr. hugo, a large friendly man who has established himself among the tourist crowd. we set out by about 10.30am and by 6pm had made it to about a half a dozen of these bodegas. a couple of tours, a few wine tastings, a wonderful lunch among the vines, and a good 20 or so kilometers on bicycle, we had an entertaining day to say the least. we met a bunch of interesting people from all around the world, tried some wonderful wines, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the argentine vineyards.

saturday 11.19agradecida [thankful]. saturday afternoon we rented a car and headed about an hour and a half south to luján de cuyo, a department within the province of mendoza. i booked my parents and i a night at a posada (cabin like getaway) at the beautiful bodega salentein. it was so nice to get away from the hustle of the city, the craziness of my host-family’s house, and be able to fully relax. saturday evening we were able to go on a horseback ride at sunset through the vineyards and a walnut farm. later that night, we were served a delicious four course meal that had been paired with a few of the bodega’s own wines. i walked around our place in a robe, slept like a princess in a comfortable bed, and woke up more relaxed and more content that i’ve felt in the past four months. the next morning we got up, had a wonderful breakfast again in the posada’s restaurant with a view of a beautiful part of the vineyard, and then headed back down to the main part of the bodega for a tour of the actual production part of the vineyard. what a wonderful experience.

*also saturday, i realized how incredibly thankful i am for the (somewhat) sane parents i have. my parents, susy and i went to the grocery store on saturday morning to pick up a few things for the asado (barbecue) we were planning on having for my parents sunday afternoon. susy was running around the store, leaving her cart here and there, picking up items, losing her cart, asking me to help her find it, and asking the store clerks to comply with her impossibly requests. after we had finished our shopping, i found susy and asked her if she was ready to check out. she said yes. we got in line. she put her cart in line and went back into the store to pick up a few more things. the closer her unoccupied cart got to the front of the line, the more nervous i got. i knew that if she didn’t make it back in time and if someone would have moved her cart off to the side, she would have made a big deal about it. couldn’t wait to prove to my parents the fact that i have been living with a crazy for the past few months. well, i was right. she didn’t get back before her cart got to the front of the line. and she made a big deal about it when she did get back. my parents and i had a good laugh about that one from a couple of aisles away.

sunday 11.20abrumada y frustrada [overwhelmed and frustrated]. sunday was an incredibly overwhelming day. during our tour at salentein it started pouring. the beginning of our drive home was the same way. we got home around two in the afternoon and i was overwhelming happy to see that susy had almost everything ready for the asado. the table was set, the meat was just about done cooking, her homemade empanadas smelt wonderful and looked perfect. all that was missing was my friends, my parents, and a couple of susy’s friends. everyone arrived around 2.30 and we started serving the meat – blood sausage, ribs, some sort of gland, and any other part of a cow you could possibly think of. nothing like exposing your parents to the local culture than through a little gastronomic adventure. it was so good for my parents to meet my friends, a couple of susy’s friends, and get a little glimpse into the things i’ve come to love about argentine culture. the frustration didn’t set in until susy’s friend insisted on taking us on a drive into the mountains. having not done anything all week, i actually needed to sit down and prep for an oral presentation, and just relax a little after a jam-packed week. my parents, too, wanted to get back to their hotel, pack up their stuff, and just relax a little bit as well. after what turned into an hour and a half journey around town into the foothills of the andes, and an insistent invitation for tea, what would have been another 2 hour commitment, at least, i was more than frustrated with susy’s persistence. the tears, of course, started streaming. so, with my parents who were just as frustrated, i hid in my room, trying to avoid having to explain through my tears why we didn’t want to sit down for afternoon tea. its nothing personal, susy, i promise, it’s just we’ve been here since 2pm, it’s now 9pm and we’ve had enough. ugh.

monday 11.21 triste [sad]. i would have loved it if my parents could have stayed just a few more days. there is so much to see and do in this wonderful country, we could have traveled around for months. and even though our time together was short, it sure was nice though to have them in town, to be able to have adult conversations in my own language over numerous bottles of wine, and to be able to share with them the life i’ve been living in mendoza this semester. just a few more finals, a trip to uruguay and some time in buenos aires and before i know it, i’ll be home in mn, curled up on the couch under a blanket, packing up my room to move into my new house, and preparing for the first day of the winter quarter back in denver. i’m torn. HOME sounds wonderful.  however, this experience has been the best 5 months of my life. even just in these past couple weeks, i’ve re-encountered my love for this city, this country and its people MULTIPLE times. i don’t know how i’m going to live without it. 

d is for…

diario uno. i learned a very interesting fact in my social control and violence class this week that really left me thinking. diario uno, one of mendoza’s five news sources , in comparison to the rest of the news sources in mendoza presents the highest number of stories regarding the insecurity and lack of safety in this country. what that means, for example, is that they publish, more than any of the other news sources, stories about robbery, burglary, murder, etc.

what is incredibly interesting about this fact is that the owners of diario uno are also the owners of at least one private, gated and guarded neighborhoods in town. they are also the owners of a private security company that provides home of neighboorhood vigilance.

interesting, no? tell people A LOT about the insecurity of this town (which is, by the way, a lot more secure that any local will ever tell you), get them to, in response to fear, purchase a home in a private neighborhood or hire private vigilance for their protection. sounds like one big business cycle scam if you ask me.

today.

today i paid a peso to use the microwave in the cafeteria. today i had a good laugh about that one.

today susy accused the maid of stealing a wig. today i told her i didn’t understand why the maid would steal the wig, she tried to rebut my argument but had nothing solid to argue.

today i took an incredibly LONG exam to hopefully certify my spanish language skills.

today i had my last class of literatura hispanoamericana II.

today is also friday.

and if today is friday, tomorrow is saturday, the next day is sunday, the day after that is is monday, and the day after that is tuesday. tuesday is when my parents come. which means today i’m really happy.

‘don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.  -cherokee indian proverb’

foto del día – 11.9.11

yesterday afternoon at about 7pm i received a message from one of the IFSA program staff warning us about the zonda alert that had been put on the city of mendoza. the last time the zonda came to town, i really didn’t think it was that bad, i thought the locals were just overreacting and looking for an excuse to cancel class or the couple hours of post-siesta work. well, i will admit, i was wrong. the zonda is terrible. i was making my way downtown yesterday afternoon when dust started flying around and creating tornado like clouds on the streets and sidewalks, leaves and small branches started falling from the trees, and the entire trolley system shut down around town. i actually understood why carlos had insisted that we try to stay inside and that if we go outside we should be careful for cables and trees. i arrived and my destination eyes full of dirt, mouth full of little particles, and my nose filled with nasties. everyone was miserable. since i was inside most of the night away from the windows where i could have watched the zonda take over the city, i didn’t really understand how truly bad this week’s version of the zonda was until i got home late last night and noticed a large tree had been uprooted across the street from my house. a LARGE tree. just lifted right out of the ground. that’s how bad the zonda was.

didn’t believe me when i said the zonda was bad? well here are  a couple pictures to prove it.

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