Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The past few days have been pretty exciting. On Sunday I struck out on my own in search of adventure. I started the day by taking a bus up to El Volcán, a town about 2 km outside of town. The river was pretty neat looking and I walked around a lot, but didn't find the hike I was looking for (probably because I didn't know where to look).

So I headed back toward town and caught a bus up to Potrero, where I've been before. I walked around town for a while and eventually found a stream, which I followed until the pavement ended. I kept going until I found nice shady spot to eat lunch. A family was coming downstream and their son bragged to me about seeing the waterfall further up. Not to be outdone by a 4 year-old, I took off my socks and shoes and wade upstream until I found the waterfall. He's right- it was cool. Well worth the wading. And the waiting!

On my way back I ran for the bus and caught it- now I finally know that a short jog is well worth not having to wait an hour for the next one!

On Monday afternoon I went back to visit Aleluya again.  This time I gave a conceptual survey to the 6th year students, which is roughly equivalent to the senior year in US schools. They weren't thrilled about, just like my students never are. I think it went as well as it could given the circumstances, and the students set the stage pretty well for their younger counterparts to take it on the following day. I promised that the next time I come I won't make them take a test! I'm also hoping to get some pictures of the classrooms and students when I go back later this week.

Monday night was one of the highlights of my week- I made my way to the local climbing gym (FB and homepage). I didn't have any gear but had a great time- everyone was really nice and it was a good workout. There are some strong young climbers there, and Mauricio kept making up problem after problem for us to work on. I'm hoping to track down a pair of climbing shoes, but in the meantime I'm looking forward to Saturday, when the gang is taking a trip to climbing outside. Plastic never really agrees with my fingers, so I can't wait to get out.

On a cultural note, I continue to be fascinated with the cars here. Not that I'm really a car buff, but in the US it's not too common to see a Ford Taurus from the early 80's in pristine condition. With the high import duties there seems to be a lot of motivation for Argentines to fix their vehicles or make do rather than buy new ones. Some of the models here are really similar to cars that are sold in the US- the Nissan Versa has an Argentine doppelganger called the Tilda. There are some cars that are available in Argentina but not in the US- I've seen several Volkswagens that are new to me. In particular there is one called the Amarok, which is a pretty sweet looking truck (if you're into that sort of thing). (Snowcat included?)
The VW website lists the average fuel economy as 7.6 liters/100 km. Any intrepid students out there looking for a challenge? Tell me how this compares to the US Ford F-150, which boasts a highway mileage of 23 miles/gallon. Just to make this interesting (and to see if anyone is reading), the first student (American or Argentine) to provide an apples-to-apples comparison in the comments section will find themselves the recipient of a prize, which has yet to be determined but will be awesome.

Continuing on the topic of fuel economy, most of the cars here are small. The taxi's in most cities back home are the size of a Chevy Impala or a minivan. Here they're Chevy Aveo's, which an average size vehicle. Many of the cars on the road are smaller. A CRV or RAV4 looks pretty big by comparison, and a 4Runner is monstrous. No minivans either... many people ride scooters or motorcycles here, partially because the fuel is so expensive. They also tend to have an easier time moving through traffic jams, but that's not always the case. Kids ride on the scooters with their parents on the way to work or school- you can fit a whole family on if you play your cards right! Helmets are officially required, but not always present. Oftentimes you'll see the helmet worn in a fairly relaxed fashion: tilted up on the head you you're looking out from below the mouthguard, carried under the arm, or strapped to the back of the bike! Some of these bikes are pretty impressive- I saw one last night on my street where the seat flips up to reveal a sound system hidden beneath, replete with neon accent lighting. However, I've only seen one or two Harleys, which looked absurdly large in comparison to the nearby scooters.

Finally, yesterday I attended my first class of Spanish for non-native speakers. It was an impressive turnout: an Italian instructor who lived in Spain for 15 years (and speaks French and English and some Portuguese as well) and students from: Iceland, Austria, Germany, Thailand, China, France, US, and finally, 3 students from Brazil. I felt like I learned a lot, not only about Spanish, but also about where everyone else was from. It was reassuring to talk to other outsiders who are as confused by some of the Argentine customs as I am. We commiserated a bit and ended up having some really good conversations. I'm looking forward to our next class!

And finally, apparently I'm slightly famous:

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