Friday, April 24, 2009

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs!!!

Becca and I had so much fun at the Los Fabulosos concert in December that we decided to go again when they came to La Plata last Sunday. This time, we were in the Campo jumping up and down with the other crazy Argentines instead of being in the nosebleed section - waaaaaay more fun!

Some "meh"-quality videos that I took:


Vasos Vacios

Burning Trash

A major environmental and health problem here is the burning of trash in poor neighborhoods - which includes the neighborhood, where I live. Every night riding my bike home, leaving the city and heading into my neighborhood, I can smell the burning plastic, wood and trash. Trash collection doesn't exist in the poorer neighborhoods and the piles are mountainous, even with the burning. The trash accumulation problem irks Horacio the most out of all the environmental problems in La Plata, so he is trying to focus more projects at Biosfera on addressing this issue. We'll see if the government gets involved with this and if anything changes...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Libros en Español

To further update you on my Spanish progress, I finished my first Spanish book 2 weeks ago! It was a huge success for me and the challenge was fun. I read "El Principito" (The Little Prince), which was my first time reading it. I was able to understand all of the sentence structures, but needed to look up a good amount of the vocabulary. Now, I have moved on to Horacio Quiroga, who is a famous Uruguayan author. His book "Cuentos de La Selva" (Stories of the Forest) is short stories about animals for children (or beginners to Español like me). He has a number of other short-story books, which are much darker, similar to Edgar Allen Poe's style. We read one in my language school in Buenos Aires about a woman dying from an animal that lived in her pillow and was sucking her blood nightly. Strange stuff.

Feeling Pretty Good!

This morning, I went to a language school to start Spanish classes. Even though my Spanish has improved a lot by living with my family and working at the Fundacion. I still struggle with comprehension and want to improve my vocabulary. So, I decided to sign up for some more classes. The class is through the University of La Plata at La Escuela de Lenguas. I went 2 weeks ago for an interview and was placed into an intermediate class. I was also told that there were be no more than 4 people in my class. However, when I arrived today, the class was packed with 8 people of all different levels. I am the only American, which I found amusing - 3 French students, 3 Brazilian, 1 German, 1 Malaysian. I unfortunately arrived late and therefore, had to present myself to the class. I was happy though because I wasn't nervous at all. It is nice to know that I have reached the level of basic conversation. During my presentation, most of the other students had no idea what I had said (I guess also a good sign) and so I received lots of questions (Que es un ONG? NGO Que significa medio-ambiente? environment). For the rest of class, we went over extremely basic material. I talked to the teacher after class and she said that she is going to evaluate all of the students after the class next week, so hopefully, I can move up. Otherwise, I probably won't continue. But hey, it felt pretty awesome understanding everything for a change :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sabado a Trabajo

Yes, it´s Saturday and I am at work. I just dropped off the tank for soldering and went on an adventure to put in an order for wood. We ordered 8 pieces of 2x4 at 3 meters each for a total cost of $152 pesos ($41 USD). This wood is for the box frame. I still need to buy the thinner wood to cover the frame. I am learning that in order for things to get accomplished I need to be very flexible about my schedule - feriados, weekends, it doesn´t matter. This week is the big construction week, but with Thursday and Friday as holidays for Easter, we will see how much actually gets done. We are going to be buliding a wall at the comedor to support a second tank to provide the pressure by gravity to the collector, build the wooden frame, test the tank for pressure as well as sand and paint the tank black. I´ll update with pictures as the progress moves along. Thank goodness things are coming together, I was getting worried!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pan Mulitcereal

Last Saturday, before heading out to Punta Lara, I realized that I didn't have any monedas (major problem) for the bus. So, I headed into a dietetica (health food store that sells dried fruit, grains, nuts, etc.) and bought a scrumptious-looking loaf of multi-cereal bread with sesame, sunflower and flax seeds. We munched on the bread all day at the beach and I brought the rest of it home, where my family asked me why I bought bread for diabetics. I wasn't really sure what they meant, but they pointed out the sticker on the side of the bag that explicitly states: "mulitcereal apto diabeticos"
Oh, the Argentines and their "nutritional" beliefs...


Yesterday was another holiday here - Dia de Malvinas - to remember the fallen soldiers from the Malvinas War (aka the Falkland Islands). A big mess of a war that was a mistake from the start and the subject is taboo in conversation as most Argentines are a wee bit bitter about the whole experience. Anyway, I enjoyed my holiday, but did come into the office for a couple of hours. With this holiday and the upcoming Easter holiday, I am getting antsy about finishing my project.

After the office, I headed over to a friend's house and 6 of us watched Milk, which I bought boot-leg at the Feria in Plaza Italia. Boot-leg videos are the way to go here, everybody buys them for movies and TV shows (Lost is absurdly popular here). Anyway, Milk was a great movie and after we had a good discussion about Gay Rights, Machismo in Latin American, and relationships in general. For dinner, we ordered in empanadas (a first for me!). They were delicious! They had about 30 different types either cooked in the oven or fried (hello heart attack!). I stuck to the oven type and got a queso y choclo (cheese and corn, my favorite), queso y cebolla (cheese and onion), and carne (the classic). The yumminess of the empanadas certainly made up for the lack of popcorn. I love movie nights :)