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The Argentina Adventure: May 16-31
 
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May 31: I understood about 50% of the sermon and Spanish was the first language of this pastor so I am happy about that. Today, I finished updates to this site for the entries from May 28 until today. Then I walked around Libertador San Martin (Puiggari) for a long time, had a bad meal, and good ice cream. :-) In the evening, I had tea while I talked with Marta and Martin (solely in Spanish). It's been a very good day and I learned quite a bit.

May 30: I was tired and didn't work as hard on this day. Basically, I learned what I could with such a slow brain :-) and updated the May 27 entry.

May 29: In short: the day was mostly driving. We went to Buenos Aires a bit early so we could shop there. We visited Calle Florida (una calle peatonal - a street only for pedestrians) but the prices seemed close to that of the United States (better than 5th Avenue in New York, but similar to other places). Since we didn't know the good shopping places, we simply enjoyed a good meal at a nice restaurant and enjoyed walking on Calle Florida. When it was time, we took Laura to the airport, then I studied Spanish for the 5 hour drive home (and learned much).

El Obelisco in Buenos Aires

I like the "Obelisco" in Buenos Aires. It seems very similar to the Washington Monument.

To the right is a typical street at night in Buenos Aires. If you've driven in Washington D.C. or New York at night, then you know what it's like here.

Typical Buenos Aires Street

May 28: Laura and I walked around Puiggari and found some sweaters for Laura. It was a fun and relaxing day. For lunch, the ladies made empanadas, and wow, they were good. I want them again. :-) I have had them in local shops and they're good, but not nearly as good as these were.

The Ladies that fixed the meal
The ladies that fixed the meal, and what a meal it was... delicious. Laura helps stuff and fold
All at the table. I wish I had moved the soda so you could see the empanadas better. They were GREAT!
All at the table
Laura, Eli and Mark
Pablo makes Galo jump for food
Pablo has a treat for Galo, but Galo has to work for it.
Mark, Eli and Laura
 
Eli, Pablo, Laura and Martin have a laugh
We have more fun while finishing the packing on the night before Laura leaves.

We finished packing, and alas, it was time to go to bed.

May 27: We went to Paraná and Santa Fe today. First, we stopped at the house of a friend of Pablo's who lives in Paraná. It was a very nice house. In Paraná, we walked through many shops and looked at many clothes and found a great leather coat for Laura.

We visited a little with Pablo's friend Elina.
Mark, Laura and Elina
Elina and Pablo in front of her house
Pablo and Laura with her new coat
Paublo, Mark and Laura at Restaurant
Laura and Mark at the Statue of San Martin
Pablo is with Laura (above) as she shows her new coat.
Very A very cool church Cool
Above is the statue of San Martin with Mark and Laura at the base. Unfortunately, his face is not visible. :-)
Eli, Pablo and Laura
Eli, Pablo and Laura talk while the car is being filled. (Left)
Parana River from the Park
The park in Paraná where one can see the Paraná river.
Laura in large tree
Laura in large tree
This tree's trunk was very unusual. It was green and had prickers all over it. They appeared to be natural to the tree and not parasites.
Tree with prickers
A couple Santa Fe girls talk with Mark outside a clothing shop.
Santa Fe girls talk with Mark
 

At noon, we ate at an all-you-can-eat place which was nice because we could choose from many things that we hadn't tried. None of it was too surprising though. Flan was the high point and they had the baked kind which is very good. We then picked up Martin and Eli and drove to Santa Fe where we looked at many more stores. We had a lot of fun and I picked up some Spanish here and there. In the evening we went to see The Matrix Reloaded. Now it's late so I must go to bed. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot.

An ant hauling a load
Ants working
This has nothing to do with Paraná or Santa Fe, but I really respect these guys. We saw these hard workers yesterday.

May 26: The morning Spanish lesson was very good. I could see progress. We recorded some of my talking so that later I can listen to it and gauge my progress. (I also have several email messages that I sent in Spanish throughout the last month.) Marcelo and Laura met and we talked for quite a while. It was fun. Laura recalled some of her experiences in Yap and Marcelo discussed some of what he is doing in the poor areas here. It was a very interesting discussion.

After lunch, we went to the coffee shop that we like, and talked to one of the attendants for a while. Then I went to my second Spanish teacher, Señora Celia and we had a very good meeting. Basically we talked on a more conversational level than I often do in my morning lessons. Of course, I asked grammatical questions that are sometimes a bit technical in nature, but the conversation was still less conceptual than that of my morning classes. Both are very valuable to me.

While I was in my second class, Laura went to a pharmacy by herself and bought something. Although my speaking abilities are better because of my longer visit here, she can understand Spanish at a very good level which helps her greatly. I'm only now catching up to her. After supper, we had tea with Marta and Abuela Elena, talking periodically (always in Spanish). (Marta has noticed Laura's ability to understand Spanish quite well.)

May 25: Laura has a migraine headache and I had a bit of a headache, so we are taking it easy today. Marta fixed a grand lunch for us. There was a cold dish with sliced tomatoes, lentils and greens (chards, I think) that was just great. I updated this web site and studied some Spanish. In the evening we simply socialized at the house with several people, much of it is Spanish. Laura's headache is better now.

Before bed, I went upstairs where Martin and Marcos were playing a car racing game. I had to play also. So I went to bed very late. It was worth it though. :-)

Cultural Note: Here, "hola" means "hello" and "adios" or "ciao" (pronounced like "chow") means "bye." When one walks by another, they often say "ciao." Being from the U.S., I expected them to say "hola" so it was a surprise to me. It makes just as much sense though. You're leaving each other just as quickly as you came toward each other. :-)

May 24: Pablo, Marcos, Marcos and José (ECSES) had the church service for the young people, and they were great. (See the photo.) The church was packed. People were standing in the entranceway and overflowing to the small courtyard in front of the church. I had to sit apart from Laura so I could capture the service with Pablo's video camera. I was lucky to find a seat fairly close to the front.

Marta fixed a great Sabbath lunch, as usual. The desert was flan; one of Laura's favorites.

At 8:00 PM, we went with Andrés to a traditional music concert. He explained many of the songs' messages and the customs involved. It was great to see and understand more. Thanks Andrés.

That night, I joined Pablo, Marcos and Eduard for some computer racing with the game Need for Speed. We had a lot of fun and stayed up too late. :-)

ECSES - En Cristo Somos Eternamente Salvos
(The quartet, Pablo, Marcos, José and Marcos)

These guys have tight harmony and some creative additions to the songs that they sing.
The Quartet
Jose talks
The quartet members each spoke during their program..
Marcos the tenor talks
Marcos the bass talks
Galo shows his affection
Galo leans on Laura while she has worship
Galo leans on Laura as she has her evening worship.
Galo laying on Laura's chair and Mark's lap
Galo and Laura on the same chair

May 23: No Spanish lesson this morning (possibly in the afternoon). But it was for a good reason. Marcelo had a proposal for a project concerning a school in Paraná and the proposal was accepted. We're very happy for him. I exercised, and am enjoying a slower paced morning. Eli changed money for us (into Pesos) and Eli and I talked about computers (she is studying computers at the university).

After talking to more people (in Spanish, of course) we went home and I began to look for some networking information for Eli. When I gave her the information, it was very helpful for me because it was in Spanish, and it required a lot of details. Later in the evening, Martin, Laura and I talked for a long time. Pablo joined us later. We talked too late, but it was great fun and I'd do it again (and probably will :-) ). Now we must go to sleep. Pablo and his quartet will sing tomorrow.

Progress Note: I'm learning a lot. Before coming here, my ability in Spanish was limited to a word here and there without complete sentences. Currently, although my speech is broken, I am actually speaking. I sometimes complete a sentence well. I'm understanding more of the grammar, and just as important, I am retrieving that information more quickly than in the past, so my speaking is merely painful as opposed to excruciatingly painful. :-)

Weather Note: The weather has been very nice especially considering that it's close to winter here. It's unusually warm. That may change for June, but I will run in the mornings until then. While I'm running in the morning I think "I'm in Argentina, such a great place, exercising in the morning, learning so much about a 'very cool' language and culture... How lucky can I get?" Handy-person Note: From what I've seen in stores and other buildings, the plumbers here tend to not use traps (p-traps) which surprised me. I can hear one sink through another. It may be different in other buildings and locations. It also can cause a slight echo sound when the water drips down the drain (because of the greater distance before the drops hit other water).

May 22: My Spanish lesson was moved to 10:00 so I can see how well that works. I like it better because I had time to exercise and wake up a bit more before studying. After a good Spanish lesson, I was able to talk for a while with the attendant at Casa Blanca, a nice restaurant. We talked even more at the coffee shop, then went home where Martin, Abuela Elena, Laura and I had tea while we talked more, mostly in Spanish. As usual, Martin and Abuela were very patient with our inability to speak Spanish. I periodically tried to interpret for abuela Elena. Even in my horrible Spanish, she understood the funny parts, so I feel very accomplished. :-) Marta joined us and we had a second cup of tea. Later, Pablo and Marcos finished studying and felt like renting a movie, so we all watched The Fast and The Furious. It was interesting and I learned new words from the Spanish subtitles.

In the evening, Laura and I were able to be in the living room when Pablo, Marcos, Marcos and José (the quartet) sang about four songs. Wow, what great music. Thanks guys

How a "one" is written here
Here is the way they write a 1 here. To me it looks like an upside down V. At first, I wasn't sure what it was, but luckily, I already knew the phone number so the other number was decipherable. :-)
Large Tree with interesting surface
This tree has a white surface and is huge. I don't know if it is barkless, or if the bark is just smooth and white. It reminds me of birch trees. Laura took this picture with me at the base of the tree so you can see how large it is.
Tree trunk like a shape like a vase

What a trunk! It reminds Laura and I of a large vase.

The neighborhood and background next to the city
Here's the neighborhood and background to this town.

May 21: After my Spanish lesson, Laura and I ate at the restaurant of the hospital, then to the coffee place. We had to buy laundry detergent, and talked to a girl that knew no English. We now have some detergent so she must have understood us. <smile>

We visited a travel agency to check about seeing Iguazú falls. We will go there again tomorrow to see if we can learn more. The lady spoke English, so there was no practice there. :-( After we ate, we went to a local ice cream shop. The attendant was difficult to understand, but was patient, so I learned some. We then went to Ceapé (a supermarket) and browsed for a while.

Once home, we relaxed with the family and played around.

Martin & Abuela Elena playing Martin and Abuela Elena playing with the basketball. Martin and Abuela playing with basketball
Note: Motorcycles and scooters are everywhere and are used by old and young alike. Unfortunately, few people use helmets. I have seen only two since I've been here.

May 20: I ate breakfast at the house while studying my Spanish lesson. The two hour class with Marcelo went well. Again, it was very conceptual and educational. Later, Laura and I walked around Libertador San Martin (Puiggari) visiting stores and talking with many locals. The day was simple and relaxing. We at at RoberTino, a local shop that makes good empanadas (has a crust somewhat like a pie, and they are stuffed food). We talked with Rober Tino for a while, which was good practice. Then, for the first time, Laura and I went together to the coffee shop that I frequent. We had great coffee and a desert called mil hojas (meaning "thousand sheets" or "thousand leaves"). It has dulce de leche in it. It was all great. We visited shops and talked more. We stopped by Zeroim (a small bakery) and bought some goodies for breakfast.

Note: Deisel cars are very common here. It's possible that over 50% are deisel. That includes old, new, large and small cars.

May 19: My Spanish lesson was long and difficult because I was so tired. I had some Earl Gray tea in the middle of class to help me wake up. My speaking ability increased after that. Marcelo and I both enjoy conversations that are very conceptual, so our Spanish conversations usually became that way. Unfortunately, conceptual conversations are more difficult when you don't know the langauge. But I learn much. We stopped at noon.

Laura and I ate at the Hotel Central Restaurant. The meal was very good. We then walked for a long time, and visited the Supermarket (Supermercado). We bought several things, some just to try. We then talked to a girl in the library and that was good practice. We also talked with Luis for quite a while. Laura's ability to understand was shown in this conversation. There were times that she understood when I did not. It was good practice too.

I talked with Señor Hammerly at the library, and he is checking to see if I can borrow items from the library. I appreciated his help. I also talked with Señora Susana Schultz and she is very willing to help in any way, which I appreciate.

We ate very late, so visited one of the few sandwich shops that were open. They prepared a "sub" type sandwich with veggies and eggs. I liked it very much.

Galo on the chair with Laura
Galo accepts Laura very quickly. As he frequently does, he has his back feet on the floor while the rest of his body lays on the back of the chair.
Note: The stores tend to be very small. Often it is the case that when you enter, you are standing directly in front of the main desk at the cash register. That's fine for me because I want to talk in Spanish. :-)

May 18: I began the day by updating the web and getting email while Laura catches up on some much needed sleep. We then had a great lunch thanks to Marta. Laura is napping again (poor girl). I knew she would be "wasted" for a couple days. Es verdad. I wrote a short letter in Spanish, then we talked in Spanish for much of the lunch time. I even did a poor job of translating some of what Laura was saying to Martin (who understands English fairly well). Yes, it was a poor job, but that's a good accomplishment for me. :-)

In the afternoon, Laura and I walked around the main street and then around campus looking at the various interesting places.

We went to a traditional dance in which Pablo's girlfriend, Eli, participated. It was very nice to see.
Eli up close Eli prepared to dance Eli performs a traditional dance with a group. We really enjoyed seeing it. (Thanks for the photos, Pablo)
Sometimes they used what looked like hankerchiefs while they danced. It had a very neat visual affect. Eli performing a traditional dance with group

May 17: Laura is HERE! Oh, sorry, I should start at the beginning. :-)

The alarm rang at 3:45 AM. I prepared to leave, and did so at about 4:45. It's a long trip to Buenos Aires (about 5 hours). Coki's brother drove and his wife (I think) rode too. She talked with me for over an hour. That was good practice.

I ran into the airport and met Laura very quickly. It was great to see her again. We talked for most of the trip back. ...well, as long as she could stay awake. Before we reached the house, Laura had been awake for about 29 hours straight.

Laura's first activity in Argentina

Laura's first activity in Argentina. Welcome to the southern hemisphere.

We took a nap, then ate some of Marta's fantastic lasagna. Wow! MUY RICO! We then unpacked and Laura read while I updated this page and organized the room. But thinking of that lasagna is making me hungry for more, so I should go to bed. :-)

Note: Espresso is more widely available here than in the States. Yes, the U.S. has many places like Starbucks. But many places in the States only have drip coffee. Today, on our way to Buenos Aires, we stopped at a very common gas station (YPF) and they offered both instant coffee and a Latte (café con leche). Of course, I bought café con leche. YUM YUM!

May 16: Because of a plane delay, Laura is stuck in the Dulles Airport until Friday night. That's when the next flight to Buenos Aires is. So she will not arrive until Saturday morning. I made sure all was arranged with Coki (the one who will drive).

I read some in Spanish today, and talked to one store attendant for a while. But I was tired from yesterday and had to go to bed early because of getting up early tomorrow, so little else was done. It was still a good, relaxing day.
Language Mistake: I believe I won't mention what I said. :-)
The Reason: The word most closely resembling the English word excited is exitido. However, it has... let's say, "romantic" connotations. :-) It is fortunate that I was talking about a trip to my Spanish teacher. The Spanish word that I should have used (which has the closest MEANING to excited) is emocionado.
Motorcyclist with umbrella I saw this and had to whip my camera out. This motorcyclist was determined to stay dry with his umbrella. I love this scene, largely because of the great backdrop of small stores. I frequently walk this street.
El Universidad Adventista del Plata
The entrance to UAP - El Universidad Adventista del Plata. This is only 4-5 blocks from The Canalis's house. How cool is that?!
Entrance to UAP - Universidad Adventista del Plata
The main walkway in UAP Here is the main walkway on this beautiful rainy day. It is a fantastic day for some types of pictures.
Flowers (I think they are Bird of Paradise Here are two more nice places on campus. It's a very pretty place. (There are a few more pictures in the May 12 entry.)
The clock on campus
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