Thursday, February 26, 2009

Caught In-Between Two Worlds

He hardly seemed to realize he was on a crowded, hot, and stinky bus. He was too consumed with listening to the hand-held transistor radio pushed up against his ear and sticking his head out the window to whistle at pretty girls passing by.

He was clean-shaven, clean-cut, wearing soccer shorts and a soccer jersey. He looked about 16 years old, with boyish eyes.

It was a few minutes before he realized I had sat down next to him, too busy was he with the beautiful portenas walking the streets. But he took a breather from the cat-calls and noticed me scribbling away in my notebook next to him.

"What are you writing?" he asked in Spanish.

"Oh, just some notes for work," I said.

One simple question turned into a harmless and kind conversation between two strangers.

"I live in the provincia with my parents," he told me. "For now," he quickly added, as if to imply that provincial domestic life was not at all the be-all and end-all to his future. We both laughed. It was a cute attempt to sound like he had the 19 years he claimed.

I know to keep boundaries firm and walls high in Buenos Aires. I don't carry anything with me on the streets, besides a few coins for the bus and a notebook, unless I absolutely have to. That day on the bus I had the bare minimum--my coins, my crappy cell phone, one barely-working pen, and a notebook. I was not in danger of losing anything valuable. Moreover, as for personal safety, we were on a crowded bus in the middle of broad daylight. I felt secure knowing I was surrounded with onlookers and bystanders. I felt safe enough to continue with a simple conversation. And I felt happy to continue this simple conversation. I thought that an exchange of words could only bring a tiny ray of sunshine to both our lives, as kind interactions with strangers so often have the power to do. So we chatted on.

And then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face an Argentine woman, with long dyed blonde hair and eyes hidden behind large sunglasses. She was beautiful, but not in a Palermo-boutique way. More in a tough, don't-mess-with-me kind of way, if that makes sense at all.

"Where are you from?" she asked in heavily-accented English.

"Estados Unidos," I responsed, not wanting to use English and exclude the young man from our conversation.

She did. "Be careful with who you talk to," she said as she pulled her sunglasses to the top of her head. She didn't take her eyes from mine. In the heavy moments between her words, I was acutely aware of the young man next to me, and how me must have known what was being said. No language barriers can disguise such warning tones.

I nodded and said thank you, about to turn back around.

"I'm serious," she said. Still not taking her eyes from mine. I met her stare and for a few seconds, felt suspended in a panicked frozen moment. I was aware that the woman was absolutely correct in her warning (though as a general rule to be careful, not in regards to this young man, as we were not sharing personal information and it was a simple, harmless conversation). Buenos Aires has seen its share of tragedy, and a lot of people have learned the hard way not to trust, including, I am sure, this woman. There were probably many people observing the young man and myself who were thinking the very same words, but no one cared enough to warn me. Though I sincerely do not think there was any need of a warning, I also sincerely think this woman was trying to the right thing in the way she knew how.

Only her doing the right thing perpetuated a stereotype; it was a small push to continue a cycle of have's and have-not's, and the bitterness and resentment between the two. I did not want to add to this young man's shame.

I turned back around. The woman kept looking at us, watching out for me, I know, and the young man and I continued our conversation. However, he knew and I knew that we had a guest in our conversation, and it was stilted. Perhaps out of desperation to make a connection, he forwardly asked if I wanted to do a language exchange. "No, no," I said, and we both laughed, knowing I would say that. Then it was my stop, and I rose to leave.

"Chau," I said hurriedly with a nervous half-smile (what is wrong with me that I couldn't forget about the woman's watchful eyes??!!) and hustled off the bus.

"Chau, Sarah!" he called from the bus window. I froze. I couldn't respond; I hadn't even asked his name when he asked for mine. I thought I hadn't wanted to add to his shame, but how is such an attempt possible, or even sincere, when you don't even ask someone's name? I was--am--just as guilty and I knew it loud and clear in that suspended moment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Week in Vignettes

Bowling in Belgrano
Our intercambio adventures continue with the adorable father-daughter duo, Eduardo & Paula. This week's intercambio journey landed us in the bowling lanes of Belgrano. Amazing! I don't think I have been bowling in years, and it felt great! With a cold beer in my hands, clunky bowling shoes on my feet, and bad 80's music blasting over the loud-speakers, I felt like I was on summer vacation in northern Wisconsin. And, what is most exciting is that I didn't bowl too badly! True, I came in dead-last...Eduardo reigned, Nick took the silver, and Paula the bronze, but I ended with a respectable 87. For someone who once bowled a game with a grand tally of 17, 93 ain't half-bad.

Pizzeria Paradise
With our oven 3 weeks out of commission, Nick and I have been treating ourselves to a once-a-week noche de pizza y empanadas. And we have discovered the perfect place that does the trick: a hole-in-the-wall joint two blocks away, family-run, cheap, and delicious. The tiny and tough matriarch handles all the biz, negotiating the orders, check, and change, her purple eye-shadow somehow reminding you not to mess with her. All the while, Pops is in the kitchen, shoveling pizzas and empanadas in and out of the ovens, and the sons shuttle back and forth on motorbikes delivering the goods. One thing is for certain: the pizzeria on Avenida Jonte can't be beat.

Pirate Port
For Leonor's birthday, we went to Puerto Pirata, a pirate-themed bar downtown. Nick and I decided that we really love over-the-top gimmicks. What can I say, the kitch just charms us! (No, readers I am not being sarcastic...For all you Sanibel veterans, think The Bubble Room. That's our preferred way to roll.) Needless to say, we loved this bar, with its giant treasure chest hanging from the ceiling, its fishing nets and ship masts protruding from the walls. The waiter's gold hoop earrings may or may not have been a stylistic choice OR a uniform requirement (I could really see it going both ways), but regardless, they were also a nice touch.

The setting was great, and so was the company. 5 months after meeting Leonor, 5 months after she began to help fill our Buenos Aires lives so much, it was rewarding to celebrate her birthday as a marker of our friendship. Her friends and their Spanish conversation floated around us, and we did our best to keep up. Leonor and her friend Paula joked about the first time we hung out and all Nick and I could say was "Donde vives?" Now we can't say much more than that, but sometimes we trick them into thinking we can (mostly through convincing head-nods thrown into the right conversational moments). And even though we can't understand everything happening around us, you realize really how much can be said through hand gestures. Really, whole friendships can be made!!! What a realization. :-)

Nos Encanta La Gasista!!

"Teacher!" my tiny and adorable student Andrea shouted in her 9-year-old voice.
"Si?" I asked in-between desperate mouth-fulls of cold water.
"Hace mucho calor--41 grados hoy!"
Not knowing exactly what this translates into in Fahrenheit, but knowing--and feeling--that it was well-above 90 degrees, I nodded my acknowledgement to Andrea as I chugged more water and tried to control my pores.

When I got home I asked Nick what 41 degrees Celcius is, and he did the conversion: 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Later that night I woke up glowing with sweat, my throat parchment. I distincly had the thought, I am not going to make it. (I'm not sure what I thought the alternative was to making it...) I tried to suppress my heat-induced panic by running a towel under cold water and falling asleep with it plastered across my forehead.

And when I woke up, glorious, glorious rain greeted me. Nick went to his soccer game--already the highlight of his week--walking on clouds, and I practically danced my way to a coffee date with a friend in Las Canitas. I am afraid I might be jinxing a wonderful thing, but I THINK (fingers, toes, arms, legs, torso crossed) that fall is here!!! And boy is it beautiful.

And that is not the only miracle that befell us last Friday, for something as miraculous as autumn winds also came along: OUR GAS! After 23 days without gas, without cooking and without hot/warm/tepid water, the gasista finished his inspection and the pipes were turned on. Miracle of all miracles!! Nick and Sarah got their groove back: COOKING! To celebrate we made an entire chicken, baked until crispy and drenched in an orange-ginger-garlic-basil soy sauce. I don't know if we uttered one word during dinner, so taken were we with the taste of something warm, flavorful, and homemade...

Life is good. We love the gasista.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

12 Hours in Gualeguaychu


We made it!! And after our experience in Gualeguaychu, I think the Argentine Carnaval can be summed up in one word: BUTTS. Yes, the curso, or the parade of floats symbolizing Carnaval, is colored by thousands of perfectly shaped buns, both male and female. The owners of these heavenly shaped orbs were bedecked in feathery headresses, boa-fied wings, glittery thongs (yes, male and female), and golden go-go boots. That's right, golden go-go boots. Imagine a parade with thousands of frankly, perfect asses, wiggling on top of strangely Asian-themed floats, the dancers raising their arms to a cheering crowd and shaking their booties with everything they've got. That is Carnaval.

And boy was it an experience!! Our bus took off from the terminal in Buenos Aires at 4 o'clock, and we arrived at the Gualeguyachu depot at 7 o'clock, only to find out that all the hostels, hotels, and campgrounds were booked to capacity. Oy vey, it looked like it would be a sleepless night! But no matter, we figured the curso lasted until the wee hours of the morning, and we could catch the first bus back to Buenos Aires as the sun rose (quite the adventure for us abuelos!!). So we set out--Nick, Leonor, Elsa, Fernanda, and myself, to the city centro to buy our Carnaval tickets and find some parilla for dinner. Both tasks were completed with little stress, and our parilla was delicious!! 20 pesos a person for heaps and heaps of amazing barbecue, french fries, salad, and ice-cold Quilmes. Unbeatable! After feasting, we were ready to hit the show. Off we went, down the streets of the normally sleepy Gualeguaychu city center, to the arena where the curso was about to begin its parade. However, before we entered those pre-Lent-party-it-out-of-your-system gates, we decided to join the fray and get our faces painted. A bejeweled woman was our chosen artist, and she painted all five of us in Carnaval style.

Now we looked like we fit in and it was time to enter the gates. That we did! But we didn't sit in our seats before first posing for some pictures with random Carnaval props, such as the French fry man:


Finally, we sat down and enjoyed the show. And you know what happenned there. :-) It was four hours of ostentatious, unbelievable, holy-cow-I-did-not-expect-this-from-a-Catholic-country scenery. Quite the memories!! What a strange and unforgettable time we had... After the curso was done and all the beautiful bodies had finished their march, the five of us doggedly trudged to the bus depot, where we had two and a half hours to wait for our bus. We ordered bad coffees in the station cafe and tried to keep each other awake through chatting. Finally, 6:30 rolled around, and it was time to hop on that bus. That we did, and our eyes closed within seconds of sitting down. Three hours and a much-needed nap later, we were back in Capital Federal, slightly enriched (scandalized?) by our 12 hours in Gualeguaychu.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Homemade Valentine's Day

Okay, so I know it's a Hallmark holiday, and I'm totally with Barbara Kingsolver and her boycott of any holiday that calls for buying uneccessary stuff...However, how about using Valentine's Day as an excuse to act on those sweet thoughts that float through our minds on occasional whims throughout most normal days? And use that as a reminder how we should act on all days!

On most days lately, working from home has included extensive gchats with Hira, my amazing friend from college who works in the nonprofit world of Chicago and just generally brightens up all paths that she crosses. We were chatting about Valentine's Day, and she said she and her boyfriend aren't doing anything extravagant, but she bought him a Dilbert comic book (she is a self-proclaimed Calvin and Hobbes girl, but her bf is a Dilbert fan through-and-through), and wrote on the inside cover, "I love to hear you laugh." If that is not the sweetest reason to give someone a gift...

Nick and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day. However, because everyday I think how grateful I am for him but I'm not sure on most days that I do enough gestures to display that gratitude, I took advantage of the occasion to surprise him in a mini-homemade way. When he was at his evening class, I took the opportunity to construct a collage--I chopped my way through many a magazine, cutting out pictures that reminded me of him--pictures of wine and tomatoes, mountains and ski hills, words that characterized him, you know the thing we all did for our lockers in 7th grade. I covered an empty wine bottle with all the cut-outs and stuck a lonely flower inside, and there we had it, a new vase!!! Then I painted a very elementary-school-style card and that was the extent of it...So simple, but he was genuinely surprised when he came home, and it was such a nice feeling for me to know that I surprised him with something meant for just him. It was a good lesson for me to do that more, and not just once a year on a Hallmark-designated day. (Although, I shouldn't be too critical of Hallmark--afterall, they are the ones ultimately teaching me my lesson :-) ).



As the clock struck midnight, Jenny, Nick, and I welcomed in the official Valentine's Day with a big hug between the three of us, just as we finished watching the adorable movie "Waking Ned Devine" (for anyone who hasn't seen it, it will put you in the best mood!). A perfect way to welcome in a holiday. :-)

And today...I can hardly believe this myself, but Nick and I are off with Leonor and Elsa to Gualeguaychu, the site of the biggest Argentina Carnival celebrations! Us abuelos!! I am laughing at the thought of us there right now, as I sit all cozy and domestic at our upstairs desk, so quiet and peaceful with no idea of what tonight will bring! Nick has gotten a lot of high-fives from his students when he tells them that he's going to Gualeguaychu this weekend...Until he mentions that he's also going with his girlfriend. The admission is almost always followed with a sigh, and "Uh, it's probably not a good idea to bring your girlfriend there," or, my favorite, "That's unfortunate that your girlfriend is going..." Poor Nick!!! :-) I guess we are headed for Argentina's version of girls gone wild! I will keep you all posted upon our return tomorrow. Until then, happy carnivaling!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Miracles

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a miracle in and of itself. In this amazing book, Barbara Kingsolver describes her family's decision to move permanently onto a farm, and their year-long vow to only eat what their farm or a neighboring farm in their county produces. It is honestly changing my life. The book is all about getting back to nature, becoming local, learning to love what comes out of the ground we are standing on. Reading this book coincides with construction on our house that has temporarily resulted in the gas being turned off, which means we can not cook. This is partly disastrous, because every chapter of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle contains an amazing recipe that leaves me salivating and my fingers itching to start some deliciously messy culinary project, like Frijole Mole or Basil Blackberry Crumble. HOWEVER, having no gas is a huge learning lesson on how much waste I produce with un-local cooking, and it is a good learning lesson while reading this book, allowing me to understand the impact of my eating, and encouraging me to change my evil ways (I can hear Santana chiding me) when the gas gets turned back on (please let that day be today...). For example, when we had gas (oh such a beautiful time), I would buy tons and tons of unlocal food--such as can upon can of vegetable, and bags of sugar. Although cans can be recyled, that still wastes energy (not to mention Argentina may or may not have a recyling program) in the process, and can totally be avoided with buying fresh produce. Because of not being able to cook, Nick and I have eaten primarily fresh veggies and fresh bread for the past two weeks. We have gotten almost all of our bread the day of eating it from the baker around the corner (and oh my goodness is it amazing), and with the exception of chickpeas, we have gotten all of our produce from the fruit and vegetable stands that dot every corner here. Our meals have consisted of fresh baguettes drizzled with olive oil, topped with fresh basil leaves, slices of tomato, and layers of cheese; salads made from zuccini, lemon, garlic, tomato, and these tiny green adorable pumpkins; fruit salads with fresh honeydue, bananas, and oranges; and for dessert, fresh ice cream from the heladeria or pastries from the baker. (And of course, everything is always topped off with Argentine wine!!) Although I am dying to turn on the stove and whip up some concoction, these past two weeks have been healthy, fresh, and delicious. Moreover, we have taken out the trash about twice a week, compared with the everyday we were taking out the trash when our gas worked!!! So, we have taken a vow to keep away from cans and stick with fresh bread when the oven comes back on...And, of course, I always have to carry it one step too far, and I have made Nick promise that in ten years, we will be living on a farm. Okay, just had to throw that little addition in there!!!

Here are some pics of the delicious treats we've been devouring:




And here is some random handsome hunk that showed up for dinner:



Something is in the air, because as soon as I mention this book to someone, I get a comment right away about how this book has already changed their lives. (I am behind on the times I guess!!) For example, my friend Laura, my hero and role model, who works for the Service Learning program at Ripon College in Ripon, WI, already founded a program at her college called the Local Food Project . This project is seeking to use social media to educate the Ripon community about the benefits of buying local food. And, it was all inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I told my friend Beth I was reading this book (another hero and role model!!), and she told me that she and her boyfriend have begun to compost and plot a veggie garden because of this book. Moreover, her mom converted all their garden space at home to plant organic produce!! I couldn't believe all the CHANGE this one book is inspiring!!! It is so unbelievable and inspirational!! It seems that Barbara Kingsolver is indeed the hero of the day. THANK YOU, BARBARA!!!!

Oh my goodness, and there are more miracles...Yesterday it rained all day, sometimes in hurricane sheets, and it washed away the heat...Yes, today is sunny, breezy, mild, and BEAUTIFUL!!! It is making me love life...Yes our house has four leaks and was dotted with four pots collecting rainwater last night, but who cares?! Nothing beats falling asleep with the sound of rain pitter-pattering and then waking up to a day that would make even the biggest grouch an optimist! Leak all you want if this is the outcome!! (Okay, maybe not all you want...)

And a final miracle...Nick and I are working away for Enchanting Challenge, blogging our hearts out, and helping to coordinate 4 service trips!! We are honestly so excited. This is the first time that we feel like our personal and professional lives are in sync with each other, both from our heart, and we are honestly so dedicated and devoted to this project. We are also so, so blessed because so many friends have bent over backwards for us. Maira has begun to network her family friends for people who can help us with our service trips to Mexico; Laura has circulated flyers all around the Ripon campus about our service trips; Caitlin is preparing for a six-week Enchanting Challenge internship and finding resources up the wazoo for us to use; my dad is helping Nick get in contact with social entrepreneurs to interview for his blog; Hira is thinking about perhaps coming to join us for a service trip, and so much more!!!!! We are so, so blessed...It is as if we knocked on a door, and a hundred people answered. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped...It means the whole world to us!

Here's a tiny bit of background on the service trips: they are sponsored by Enchanting Challenge and work with partnerships with local foundations and eco-hotels in the service trip destination. We have four on the dockets now. The first one takes place in March and April in Tulum, Mexico. It is a six-day trip for university students to stay in an ecologically-friendly resort and work during the day on reforestation projects in the rainforest with the Mayan community, learning lessons on sustainable living along the way. The second one takes place in August in the Mendoza province in western Argentina. This service trip will include one week working with disadvantaged families in the city of Mendoza, and one week working with community development with the indigeneous community in the neighboring Desierto Lavalle. For that project, we are working with a wonderful group that has been running this service project for ten years. Previously, they have only worked with Argentines, so this is the first time US travelers and university students are encouraged to come!! Nick and I will be the contact people for any North American and/or UK volunteers for this service trip. Moreover, we will be spending the month of August in Mendoza and hopefully working with the organization to coordinate everything. And, we get to go on the service trip ourselves!!!! If you are interested in seeing pictures of the past service trips to the Desierto Lavalle, click here.

The third service trip will take place in October in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, working with the wildlife there, and the fifth trip will probably take place next winter in Patagonia, Chile, working with an organic farm endeavor and reforestation. So we are busy!! But determined, excited, and beyond grateful...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Take One! Take Two! And...CUT!! (And some reflections on Argentina in-between)

About a month ago I was contacted by a documentary producer who had found our blog. He asked me if Nick and I would want to be part of a filmed expat discussion regarding how we North Americans have observed the after-shocks of the 2001 pesos crisis during our time in Argentina. The documentary is being produced by Current TV, a Los Angeles-based crew that is investigating the many faces of the current economic crisis in the United States. The reporters decided that a good segment of the documentary could include reflections from Argentines and North Americans living in Argentina, all who perhaps could provide insight into how to personally cope with economic instability.

Of course Nick and I immediately agreed to be a part of the discussion. What a great learning opportunity for us!! Last night was the big night, so we convinced Jenny to come along as well, and the three of us headed to La Olla, a lovely and trendy jazz bar in Palermo, where the camera was set to roll. There we met the film crew, two incredibly nice and sharply intelligent women from California, and the other ex-pats, who were from all walks of life. There was a fiction novelist from Chicago (who has an amazing blog called Water and Soul), a marketing consultant who has lived here for 3 years with her Argentine boyfriend, and a freelance/translator recent graduate from UNC (go Matt Todd!!)...And then there was RUSS.

Russ is a 25-year-old going on 100, if you measure age by life experiences. Keen to speak only when having something poignant to say and always delivering with a dead-pan irony, Russ casually informed us of such things as his fascination with Gary Glitter and his fear over the status of his chaotic Chilean youth hostel protected by a juvenile delinquent night-watchman under house arrest. Russ also announced to the table that he purposely ordered smoked salmon because the crew was paying, and really, smoked salmon is a luxury that he just can not justify splurging on when he is footing the bill. (He proceeded to point at Nick, Jenny, and me, and accuse us of "blowing our opportunity by ordering french fries.") Russ was pretty great.

Sometime in-between Russ's stories, the cameras started rolling, and along with them, some questions and responses that were though-provoking and reflective...The questions made both Nick and I realize that we have been here for nearly half a year, and with that time, our lives and our relationship have changed drastically through not always easy and fun situations, but situations that nonetheless we are endlessly grateful for.

For example, one of the questions was something Nick and I have reflected upon often: How has living in Argentina, a crisis-weathered country with a cash-culture and little access to credit, changed your spending habits?

In Washington, DC, Nick and I had a combined income of about $5,500/month, and we did a pretty good job of spending almost all of it. Not an outrageous sin, as we were living in seperate apartments and each spent about $900/month on rent. Nonetheless, for the months of October, November, and December, we were living on a combined income of at-most 3000 pesos/mo (more-or-less $1,000). Obviously, that would sink us below the poverty line in the US, but due to the cost of living in Argentina, it is possible here. Possible, not easy. In October and November, we were paying 1650 pesos a month for rent, so that right there gobbled up over half of our income. We moved in December and began to pay 900 pesos, which greatly helped. But still, we sweated with every item we dropped into our grocery cart and somewhat humiliatingly turned down countless invitations to restaurants, including on New Year's Eve, explaining to our friends that we were not being anti-social, but were just a little strapped for cash. At times such financial adjustments caused our stress level to soar as we had already been tested by security fears in our San Telmo apartment, changing and disappearing class schedules, and the simple struggles of making our way through the cultural and language barriers of life here.

However, these lessons of frugality are invaluable to our lives, and we will always hold them dear. Thankfully, our income is much better now--we do not sweat with our grocery purchases, and we can go grab some delicious and cheap Peruvian food without breaking the bank. Moreover we are so fortunate to be working for something that we love and believe in (Enchanting Challenge!). But we are extremely grateful for the lessons we have been taught because we have learned truly and deeply how to not be so wasteful, how, as the old saying goes, to live more simply so that others can simply live. Most importantly, we have learned how to be grateful for the things we should be...Although with more income in the future, I am sure we will relax more and stop washing our clothing in the bathtub, or begin covering our pillows with pillow cases instead of old t-shirts, or God-forbid, get a toilet that actually flushes without dumping a bucket of water in it, but we won't forget these months, and we will always try not to deviate too far from the frugality and simplicity it has taught us.

It was with these reflections and realizations in mind that the filming wrapped up, we said our good-byes to hopefully new-found friends, and Jenny, Nick, and I made our way deeper into Palermo to find a watering hole. We settled on a Brazilian bar, loud with chatter, bright with color, and decorated with glasses of Caipirinha, which of course we had to order. We stayed there until 2 am, chatting, sipping on Caipirinhas, Brahmas, and nibbling on rice and beans. It was the best.

***

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some Enchanting News



It has been way too long since my last blog post, which is something I feel very uncomfortable about (the neurotic, OCD writer in me is coming out!)! But there have been some big changes in our Argentine lives, and I am so excited to share them with you! First of all, Nick and I have begun to work for a WONDERFUL new website: Enchanting Challenge. This site is a social network for those who wish to become environmentally involved. Nick and I are both so excited and so grateful to be a part of this endeavor!! And we REALLY believe in the meaning of this site...

Both our jobs involve blogging. I blog about service opportunities, while Nick blogs about social entrepreneurs and the innovative and inspirational projects they are working on. My blog can be found at this link (if you have any suggestions, or would like to contribute anything, please let me know!!), and while Nick's is not live yet, as soon as it is, you better believe I will paste his link all over this page!!!

And...There is one more surprise about Enchanting Challenge. None other than Ms. Caitlin Cunningham has been hired as an intern to be the on-site Environmental Guru for Enchanting Challenge!! Her cute little eco-self is making her way South in the middle of March. I can not believe the three of us will be working together in Buenos Aires, Argentina!! It is a crazy and completely unpredictable turn of events that just makes me laugh with wonder every time I pause to think about it...

***

Lately it has been blowing my mind how interconnected the world is. I know these words are coming from a former Luddite, but everyday I am just amazed at the powers of connection through the Internet. I love that the White House now has an official blogger, and I love how Obama had two Twitter feeds before the inauguration. I don't mean to sound so corny, but it has just been occurring to me that the Internet is the ultimate flattener of the world, and the connections and opportunities that can bring about are so exciting!! I know of course that it is a tool often misused, but sites and projects like Enchanting Challenge embody the good that can come from the technology of today, and it is invigorating. I really feel like we are living in a new era, where there is a lot of work to be done, but it suddenly seems possible if we are all committed, and such commitment is facilitated by the Internet, which is so exciting. Oy, sorry for this tangent, I have just been filled with such crazy feelings lately!!! And I've been filling my playlists with corny songs like "We are the World." Oh my goodness...(Only when Nick is gone, though, I wouldn't put him through such misery...Especially the Linda McCartney parts!)

Anyways, enough of my vague tantrums...I have to share with you another exciting tid-bit. Nick and I have loved our time in Buenos Aires, but we think that it is time to move on...The Cunningham parents are coming to see us for the first two weeks in April, and together we will explore Buenos Aires from head-to-toe. Then, when they depart for Washington, DC, Nick and I will depart for Cordoba, Argentina, the second largest city in Argentina. Since we are now working primarily as bloggers, we are so fortunate and have the opportunity to work from anywhere that has Wi-Fi. So we are going to work on the road. :-) We plan to stay in hilly Cordoba for two months, then travel to the northwest, deserty region of the country, then down to Mendoza (the wine-soaked Andean region), and then south down through Patagonia.


View Larger Map

The idea of this journey sounds so, so exciting to us...We hope that it all works out and can come to fruition...We get butterflies just thinking about it, thinking of all the sites that will make our eyes open wide, the days on buses passing through landscapes we couldn't imagine, being forced to improve our Spanish, being inspired along the way, snapping pictures, and writing til our fingers are sore!!! So, here's to Argentina. Here's to our new world of interconnectedness and mobility, adventure, love, commitment, and gratitude.