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Hola de Argentina!!

Hello all-- I'm off to Argentina for a Social Movement and Human Rights program through the School for International Training. I invite you all to read my adventures and keep updated. I will be in Buenos Aires, Salta, Bariloche, and much more. Please feel free to email me and check in whenever you can...Adios!

Diary Entries

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Location: Tigre/ BsAs

Well, it's my last full day here and I'm headed to lunch at Amelia and Andres' (the uncle and aunt of Ceci)...best food in BsAs. This morning I stocked up on yerba maté to bring home and am trying to organize all my things. I presented my ISP in front of the group and directors and the program is officially over. I can't believe I just wrote a 60 page paper and experienced all in just one month.

On Friday the whole group went to an island right off of Tigre, a little town to the North of BsAs. We had to take a boat down these canals to these "cabanas" but more like luxury condos. The canals were not like Italy, but more like the backwaters of Lousiana: filled with rowboats, tall grass and old-style houses. We stayed in this private area that had a pool, room with lots of games and TV, and fed us amazing veggie salads for lunch. It was like being cleansed after all the stress of ISP (for both mind and body). However, we all FRIED...supposedly, which I was unaware on Friday, there is a whole in the ozone layer above South America, but especially in Argentina. Therefore, the sun is much stronger and you can tan in 2 minutes. I was very grateful for my darker skin because other people couldn't walk the next day.

We all bonded so well, shared memories, and reflected on what we had learned and what we will take with us. I realized how much I have learned to trust myself outside my comfort zone and also that by getting involved, small changes are SO possible. Living the way you want to see the world and manifesting with others is something I want to promote and dedicate my life to back in the states, not only here. After we left the paradise, we got back on the train. On the train, a girl went into a seizure right next to us! It was amazing to watch how another country dealt with an emergency and the way that all the people wanted to help instead of back away out of fear (although the situation was quite scary).

Later that day, I went with Amelia and Andres to a house race (carrera de caballos)...A-MA-ZING! I felt like I was in a whole different world. I felt like I lived in upper clase on the east coast as part of some country club. Everyone was all dressed up and the jokeys wore their funny, bright shirts; the horses where absolutely stunning. Gigantic and strong!

We all betted a couple of times, of course I lost, but it was fun. The energy towards the end of the races was so enthusiastic. All the people in the "stadium" started yelling and cheering. It was interesting to see all the different kinds of people that went, not just the rich but also the lower clase brought their families to enjoy. It was a huge mix of people and the day was gorgeous--great way to finish off my trip.

I am just starting to get comfortable and have mixed emotions about coming home, but I'm so ready to jump in the snow and have a hot chai--it's ridiculous how hot it is here and how cold I will be in two days :) I will miss Mendoza more than anything and plan to return to see Ana and explore the glaciers and southern parts of Patagonia that I didn't get to. Tonight, we all have the final dinner with the group and our homestay families...I will arrive in Denver the 16th at 5 PM---can't wait to catch up with you all. Besos

Saturday, 06 December 2008

Location: Último día en Mendoza

NEWS #1- FINISHED MY PAPER!!! After a suficiente amount of criticism from Rosana, I still have some interpretations to add, but basically it's just proofreading and putting the cherry on top. In total, with mis referencias y cosas misc, it's close to 60 pages. No puedo creer que hacerlo...I will post my abstract in English when I'm finally done.

NEWS #2- Almost got robbed, but stopped the young adolescent by grabbing his shirt, yelling at him, and almost punching him out of instinct. haha I was walking and he silently walked behind me and successfully opened my backpack (front pocket). I could sense something turned around and discovered he was about to take my wallet (which was full of money because I was going to pay the women who transcribed my interviews). When I grabbed him, he started freaking out as much as I was and in the end, I walked away with all my things. It is funny now, but for about an hour after, I had the "deer in the headlights" look from the adrenaline still pumping in my veins.

NEWS #3- Went to two vineyards (bodegas). Ana y yo fuimos a un muy pequeña, family-owned se llama Ruggeri. There were two women who even put all the labels on the bottles and box them manually! They only export to Brasil and within Argentina. The Malbec was so BOLD and strong.

The other bodega (Weinert) was from the Spanish conquista...the building was more like a stone castle and they had all their wine in cavas, similar to a chilled basement cellar, in order to perserve the correct temperature. It was AMAZING! All the wine was stored in HUGE barrels and they were stacked two or three high. The wine is also kept in huge "piletas" or pools. I'd love to go swimming in that type of pool :) The complete process of making the wine was interesting to learn. The wine from this bodega, however, was not as good. The bodega itself was the main attraction. Plus, the tour was in spanish so who knows how much I even got from the tour haha.

NEWS #4- I'm off to San Rafael today, a smaller pueblo en el campo donde José, Ana's boyfriend, lives. His family own multiple farms there and they sell carne, dulces, etc. I am excited to get to know yet another part of the country. San Rafael is in a valley instead of the desert landscape of Mendoza and Rosana, my advisor, told me I can work on my tan. It's going to be funny when I come back and it's snowing and I look like I came from the beach! Basically only one more week. I present my paper on 12/11 and will be home on the 16th. Sad to return to BA after being in this beautiful place, but I'm ready to return home to you all. Nos vemos, besos



Saturday, 29 November 2008

Location: The middle of investigation

¿Que tal che? Todo bien acá en mendoza--still loving it...i want to update you a little on my interviews and work. Besides the fact that my mind is SPENT and I am just now starting the process of organizing my 30 sources and 8 enterviews, I have had amazing interviews and my spanish is definitely reaping the benefits too.

My interviews started out in the street, without my recorder, but progressed to house and cafés with amazing contacts that i´ll never forget. Every experience was enriching though...I interviewed three older ladies (Elsa, Yeyé, y Susana Tampieri) who were all so wise and informed. I was inspired by their ongoing activism and persistence in a place with little resources and immense influence from a patriarchal catholic society.

I also interviewed a lesiban younger women named Sabrina (from the organization Ultravioletas). She received her B.A. in Canada so we had our interview at a veggie restaurant and I spoke in Castellano and she spoke in English...it was enlightening to see their progress as pure grassroots organization of young women. The same day, I interview Juan Carlos González, the ¨know-all¨man about derechos a la mujer in Mendoza and all of Argentina...After I read his 150 thesis about aborto, I was expecting a smart, but intimidating man...what I experienced was a brillant BLIND man!! He is changing the world so much because he doesn´t have to see how horrible the discrimination is...I can tell why his analisis of things is so clear now. These two interviews were the highlight of my field work.

Also, I have loved my advisor, Rosana Rodriguez, who is finishing her doctora both here and in Spain about abortion..she has been an activist since she was 15 and her involvment inspires me to reach in and draw up the passion to never stop trying and be involved in as many forms as possible. Rosana, along with the network of women from all the organizations that I´ve met and gotten to know, held an event el 25 de noviembre porque fue el día de la no violencia contra la mujer...it was fun to be apart of their activity in the plaza de independencia. Some dressed in white sheets with make-up as if they were dead from sexual violence. Others were passing out newspapers and information to educate the public. Plus we all spoke of cases that have happened or experiences..EVEN ME ha! Int a microphone, I had to say the line: ¨soy abusadas por las curos y el poder!¨ Talk about on the spot and the different lanuage thing didn´t help my fears.

I also attended the first provinical encuentro for women with Yeyé y Elsa. It was great to see that the provincia de Mendoza is finally addressing the needs of women in respects to the familia, educacion, trabajo, salud, etc. Here, el ¨machismo¨is much more defined than in BsAs...It´s hard to write in English right now so I´m going to switch back to writing my ISP! Next time I write, I will be done--yikes!!! The paper definitely has been a challenging experience...and I only am a quarter of the way through.

oh, p.s. got to go the mts and it was beautiful!! they´re about an hour away..it´s more like colorado than the mts in salta--planning to go to a vineyard and have an asado with ana´s family this week...living with ana is so comfort and accessible to el centro (downtown)..riding her bike sure beats an hour on the bus in BsAs. Less than three weeks till I return up north...see ya then! Can´t wait for some snow :)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Location: Mendoza, Argentina

Dios Mio!!!! So my ISP has taken off with activities and entrevistas (interviews of all sorts). After I met my advisor, I have been working the majority of everyday on my schedule, research, and contacting people. I have strict guidelines of requirements for a journal that I have to keep, which is turning out to be more work than the actual project, ha! Anyways, I have met some amazing people, like the oldest activist in Mendoza with respect to the women's organizations. It's so interesting to be investigating all the passion that is molding into the society of Mendoza. These women are fighting a strict government, strict church, and high poor population. The resources in Mendoza are much less than in other provinces in Argentina, so the majority of the organizations work with their own money and own participation. It's quite empowering!

Also, I have been exploring the city, all the plazas, fun cafés, and the huge park. I went to the largest park in South America, which has a huge lake to run around and also a beautiful rose garden. All the plazas and open space is much more maintained than in BA. I think there's a different distribution of money to different resources here. It's so great to be able to walk to the center everyday to work, about 30 min, and not have to ride a bus for more than 10-15 min. It's weird that it hasn't even been a week because I have so much time and feel like I've done so much.

My friend Roy is here with an activist group (of his ISP) for the weekend. We went to bar 23 for lunch and had the most amazing wine...people aren't lying here. It was kept at a much cooler temp. than a normal red, but it was so smooth and fruity (not sweet though)...Ana, my homestay "mom" is precious. It's so much more tranquil living with just another women instead of a 5 year-old. I honestly don't miss BA at all...so grateful to be here and can't wait to explore more and meet new people. The people are really closed here. They have their own customs and beliefs, but also with the language. A lot of times people tell me they can't understand me and then they repeat the same word and I swear we say the same thing, but it sounds diff to them...ha! My spanish feels in a rut, but I'm trying. I'm thinking I'm still trying to adjust to all the interviews and being away from any English at all--I am really focusing on patience :) I will post some picts of plazas and my home soon!!! Until next time when I will actually be writing my paper AHHHHH!!!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Location: MENDOZA, Uruguay

Hola Todos! Just arrived in Mendoza, my new home for the next month. I am starting my independent project about the campaign for the right to abortion and the work of organizations in Mendoza to achieve the legalization. I am living with a really good friend of Ceci, my "mom" in Buenos Aires. My house is like a little old cottage made of different materials all smashed together so someone could live in it, but I love it. I'm just "keepin' it simple"...Ana is a professor like Ceci and is so so warm-hearted! I am really excited about getting to learn from here because she's really smart and interested in so many things.

The city of Mendoza itself is so WONDERFUL y linda!! Linda is the one word in spanish I match exactly with my feelings about it--¡Que linda! The streets are so clean, although there's no trash cans on every corner like there are in BA. I needed one almost five times today and this made me realize how impressed I was with the cleanliness. There's no smoke in my face from every other person around me smoking and there are a TON of really open, well-maintained plazas. It's like being in Palermo, but all the time. I am so grateful to have the time to get to know it. Today, I found three vegetarian restaurants, got food from one, and sat in Plaza Independencia (la plaza principal). It is HUGE so I had plenty of my own space to relax. The sense is so much more calm and peaceful here. This will be a comfortable place to study. I meet my advisor tomorrow so I can really start working more on my project, but for now, I'm getting my surroundings under my belt, although I don't have to wear one anymore after all the empanadas :)

Before I forget, however, I wanted to write about our day to Colonia, Uruguay. We went for the purpose of renewing our visas, but it was such a great transition before our ISPs (projects). Colonia is a very (VERY) small colonial (ha, get it from the name?) pueblo on the beach. It is super historic and has cute stores, restaurants, and beautiful flowered trees. It reminds me of el barrio la Boca in BA because all the buildings are brightly-colored. On the other hand, it reminds me of Boston with the old brick streets and historic feel. The water is the opposite...it's brown because it's not salt water and there's a lot of canals the bring up the dirt (or so the locals say).

We took a boat for one hour, which was more like a movie theater in the arrangement that we were seated and the lobby that the boat had--yes, it had a lobby with stores and consessions! After walking around and having lunch, Tessa, a girl from the program, had a cousin of a friend who lived in Colonia show four of us around. We went up the lighthouse and walked around the streets and talked Spanish with a native! With his car, he took us to a beach farther away that we would have never been able to see if we stayed with the group. The water was SO warm, warmer than Hawaii and almost warmer than the baths I rarely take. It didn’t get deeper though—like for almost a quarter-mile, it was still up to my knees. But, being in the sun was a blast and getting to see a new country was even better. Only a month till I am home, WEIRD!! Can’t wait to see everyone for the holidays, and enjoy the first thanksgiving I’ve never had!


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Recent Messages

From Erin
Han, today you are presenting your paper. I can't wait to read the English version. How incredible that your advisor is such an inspired woman with the same passions herself! Have one more glass of wine for me and breath in those last few moments before returning! Erin
Response: MISS U and can't wait to see you my love
From grandpa & Gma
We are getting really excited for your return to Colorado! How did your paper go? You are so good at writing, it had to be great! It's been snowing a little -- a lot in the mountains. Can you still snow-board? Love you a bunch!
Response: HEY, almost home! i'm so excited for the snow and x-mas with you guys :) i'll be snowboarding as soon as i can...call you when i get into denver. LOVE U
From
Hola hija! Yo aprendo un nuevo palabra hoy es PAVO. Nosotros echar de menos mucho. Tiene muy divertido y nosotros amor mucho. Hasta luego, Papa.

Response: Me gustas tus esfuerzos con el español...te extraño TANTO!!!!! menos de un mes--estoy entusiasmada para verte y entonces puedes cocinar para mi :)
From Carol Ferguson
Hi sweet girl. I keep sending messages, but they don't go through. So I'll try again. I'm loving your adventure and think you the luckiest of ladies. I miss and love you lots!
Granny
Response: thanks so much for your love!! glad to be reminded of how lucky i am in the middle of all my work..miss u too! much love
From Karen
Hi, Banana! I love reading your postings, esp now that I am teaching ESL. It's so great (and such a gift) that you can travel right now and get a real perspective on our prosperity in the US compared to the rest of the world. I've always felt more grateful and empowered and more centered after visiting other countries. I am so proud of you---proud of your openness, your Spanish, your adventurous spirit, your desire to be involved in the world.
I love you,
Karen
Response: so great to hear from you and your words of encouragement are helping me right now--just returned to the city from rural beauty up north--already miss it!! love to the family
From Christi
Hi sweetie! I love you! i read your blogs and I feel like I am having the inside peek amazing journey. Thanks for writing. Keep absorbing it all and reflecting. Be good to yourself!
Response: thanks for being such a great support to me while i´m here..i love the messages from both u and tim...give my love to the girls PLZ besos xoxo
From Guapo de padre
I thought kissing unknown individuals would be kind of fun, especially, if they are handsome. I hope you are doing well and I know that this journey can be very difficult. It is hard living a certain way and then in a day that familiar living changes drastically. Be patient with yourself and the food and you will make the right decisions that is best for you. I love you and miss you tons. Love, Dad
Response: thanks for the encouragement and i hope we can talk when i'm in salta--we went to an amazing organization!! you would've been so touched by these kids--so precious!!
From Mel n Erik
WOW, angel! Sounds like things are going great and you are letting it all sink in! We couldn't be more proud of you and impressed by your attitude! I would encourage you to go to yoga, I think you would be able to keep up with class, no prob! And, you'd probably learn some more spainish. WE LOVE YOU!!!!!
Response: hope all is going good for you there in the colder weather :) miss you tons--i've been so busy that yoga and other things are not in my main view...i have a ton of work but am getting along day by day...love you so much and hopefully can keep in touch!! give dogs a kiss too
From Christi
Hannah, you are fabulous. I love reading these blogs from you! You know that you are stock piling images and memories of the world right now that will stay with you when you are an old woman. I love you.
Response: Love you! Tell the girls hi please--kiss to them
From Rhiannon Kauffman
Hannah my love!!!!!!!!! oh my god it sounds like you are having such an amazing time I'm so jealous! I miss you and I cant wait to here more and see lots of pictures:-) Lots of love, have an awesome time and hopefully we will hear from you soon
xoxo
Rhi
Response: hey girly!! so good to hear from you, hope all is well..what's new?? miss you and lots of love
From Erin
Han, I have never blogged before, don't even know if this is reaching you? Just returned from my HS reunion, let me tell you the clicks still exist after it is all over, unbelievable! Glad to hear you are getting on well with your cohort!
Response: wow i bet that was an experience! miss u lots..much love