Wednesday, January 23, 2008


It is very cold in New York right now. I believe about 20 something degrees minus whatever the wind chill brings. Thankfully I am not there, but in sunny Florida where the temperature has been hovering at a daytime average of 70 degrees. AHHHHH! Warm weather and sun for a mid-winter break.

I am passing the week with two of my Uncles. We are hanging out and bonding. So far there has been motorcycle and boat repairs, beer, and steak. Today we are to partake in BOATING ACTION. This is a highly publicized event involving an 8HP outboard engine hooked to the back of a canoe. If all goes well there will also be Pinot Grigio, Cigars, and Cuban sandwiches. I hope the hysteria is not lost on anyone.

Adding to the hysteria we have been towing the canoe behind the lawn tractor while drinking beers. I think we are doing our best to be absurd. In fact I think I may only be able to surpass this scene if I decide to go out on the tractor shirtless and in my boxer shorts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

as of now

I don't know what the deal is but when I log into Blogger from my computer in the US all of the information still appears in Spanish. I suppose it serves as a friendly reminder of good times, people met, and lands explored. It also reminds me of the freedom I currently have. I worked my butt of for the last four years and saved as much money as I possibly could so I could have a piece of time to do with what I wish.

About two weeks ago I was driving around Long Island with an enormous grin on my face. I would be leaving for England in a few days to meet some friends. I smiled and giggled to myself as I thought I can go where ever I want right now. I continue to enjoy freedom by existing outside of our cultural norms. My only fears are for when this time ends and what I will do with any down time. This seems mildly absurd. Concerning myself with downtime speaks to the fact that I am in actuality conforming to the system. I have to use this allotted time to see, do, and experience because I set limits on how long I will have flexible time.

It had been a great desire of mine to go out west and snowboard for the winter. I was inspired as the bleeping screaming of jazz instruments burned through my ears last February. Unfortunately this will not be occurring, I do not have the time to dedicate to the West and the cost of a frivolous vacation is out of the question. Colorado has been subsumed by a trip to Asia instead. The trade is good.

I am now currently putzing around the NY area. I have some job interviews, all of which are excellent opportunities and I truly hope one of them comes to fruition. All involve school working with underserved children. Perfect! Ideally I will obtain the position that starts in August. Please pray and send your good vibes my way. With all these great things happening I still recognize something that weighs me down.

I feel free to move and roam outside of a few artificial barriers. I will definitely regret not trying to hitchhike across the US and getting bum jobs and screaming from the tops of mountains while doing it, but I am free enough. However, I do not feel emotionally free. My heart still yearns for love. I consistently see my friends and family and I love them to pieces, but I miss having a woman in my life and the life, as my cousin so delicately put it, of a gypsy is not conducive. So with loves lost and futures to be found I continue on.

Friday, December 21, 2007

back in the USA

I returned to the US a few days ago. It was actually an unexpectedly early return. There was a death in my family and I needed to finagle a quick flight back. The woman at the far end of the phone line told me it would be $4000 to change my flight. This was the fee to get onto a flight with plenty of open space. She said I could take it or leave it. Thanks lady,big help. I took the chance and flew out of the Argentine Andes to Santiago, the location of my departure flight. The kind Chilean flight rep took pity on my situation and changed my flight without even charging the change fee. I offered him a hug for his help and told him that the vicious call center lady should take a lesson. I arrived in NY after about 24 hours of travel to join my family. I am now sitting in NJ wrapping gifts, relaxing and filling out job applications.

I feel somewhat rushed to get a job now that I am back in the US. I will do my best to shirk that desire for at least the following six months. However there are some very tasty opportunities arising. I imagine if landed one of these I would dive right in eventhough this goes directly against the siren song of the mountains. I can here the wind whispering my name and the call of the road. Besides I bought this snowboard with the intent of spending the winter in the Rockies and I am very curious about Colorado. In fact I am hoping to return from England, kick it in NYC with some friends for a few days, and then buy a car and drive to Denver. It would be a darn shame not to sink into to some fresh champagne powder and ride the winter away.

Time will play out these fantasies and for now the house in filled with the scents and sounds of Christmas. So while I can, I will enjoy my family and the delicious Christmas treats that abound.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I have been on the road for about two and a half weeks now and have not slept for more than one night in a singular spot. It is time for a break to unwind, put my feet up, and relax. This should happen in a few days and I am prepping to depart for the mountains once again.

I have seen some of earth´s most incredible gifts. Tall sleek granite spires, icebergs hundred of feet deep bristling and breaking dropping off into rivers and lakes, forests slung with vines, valleys formed by millenia of natural turbulence, and the rushing rivers of Patagonia. I have unexpectedly trekked through freezing temperatures, snow, ice, wind and rain. I have been to the end of the earth and hiked though mountains to glaciers and slept alopng side turquiose galcial lakes and rivers lined white enormous white rocks.

Today will mark the final trip for trekking. It will be short two day 20K trek into the mountains of Argentina´s lake distit. It was suppose to be longer but I have been advised that many of the mountain passes are blocked by snow or have high risks of avalance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

¨Lo pase bien¨ or ¨It was a good time.¨

I spent last week in Buenos Aires with three friends from NYC, hence the lack of posting. It was an awesome time. We walked around the city, hung out, BS´ed, and saw the breaka breaka almost everyday for a week. The nightlife in BsAs runs wild and deep, deep into the morning, so we did our best to dance the night away, literally. Besides hob nobbing with well dressed Porteños the fellas were pretty swank themselves. They were staying in the Four Seasons….oh la la. I stayed with some friends living in the city and then on the floor of the fellas room for the last two nights. Since I am the poor friend and will be in the midst of deciding on a career, my buddy G… wanted to remind me of the good life. Or at least what life is like with a little cash to spare. To wet my palette with luxury, on our final night, we sat by the pool smoked tasty Cuban cigars and sipped a smooth well aged scotch. Not going to lie it was delicious and for a moment I saw the flash of money bags in my eyes, but alas I don´t think I will so easily be lured to a life of riches. Yet we will see. Ten hours later through the night time blackness I arrived in Cordoba.

I am closing out my time in Cordoba. Only four days remain. I have been wrapping up my classes, saying good bye and taking a few pictures. The first photos of the entire trip. We have an asado planned for the weekend and then I head out for the south. It´s a 50 hour bus ride to the end of the earth. The furthest south one can travel with out a boat to Antartica. The weatherman said it was slightly below freezing on Tierra del Fuego and slightly above freezing where we are planning our first camping trip. The plan is to take a few multi-day camping trips around the mountains, glaciers, lakes, and volcanoes. I bought some boots. Apparently there may still be some snow in these below freezing conditions. I imagine it will be awesome.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


The human body can be like a rubberband or a slinky or one of those new concoctions created by avante garde chefs biting of food science to make foie gras knots. I have seen my yoga teacher a seemingly normal individul tie herself into virtual knots and practically bend herself over into quarters. I have seen some of the better rock climbers at the wall twist centrifugally grasping for the next hold stretched outlandishly between points. The limits of the human body are to be noted and appreciated.

I suppose the human mind works in similar fashion. The more use and excercise it gets the more nimble and flexible it becomes. I have been receiving emails from my soon to be lawyer friends containing paragraphs of words that look similar to the contorted bodies described above. All this excercise is seemingly beneficial when applied correctly. Then how do we excercise the soul?

The strengthening of mind and body seem to be somewhat formulaic. Stretch, work out, hydrate for the body. Read, do your homework, practice for the mind. However in either of these sitiuation when the application of the excercise goes awry the maleffects are felt acutely. Incorrect training leads to contusions, sprain, pull, breakage, dehydration and at its worst death. Did you see the 20 something top ranked marathoner who recently died during Olympic trials in NY? It’s even more common to fail at education. Wrote memorization of facts, reading with out comprehension, lack of real world connection and applicability, and teaching to the test produces a brain incapable of comprehending the problems and issues of a complex world. Test scores, I believe are a neccessity, but I often wonder about the more charismatic part if the story.

So back to the soul. How is the soul nurtured and developed to produce similar personal benefits such that we are able to produce with mind and body? Lets not kid oursleves, it feels good to have a well oiled body and mind so I imagine we want the same with part number three of our human clay. We are all fully aware of the negatives resulting from lack of soul...hate crimes, terrorism, stifled scientific inquiry, lack of openess, repressed thought, methodical extermination. These seem to be very much religiously affiliated. Does soul have to equal religious inquiry? We, as in humans, used to celebrate the earth instead of God. Earth was the creator and giver of life. Some people meditate on a journey towards Nirvana. Others inflict self injury to assure their existence and this serves as there meditation. Some congregate in mega spaces and listen to a self proclaimed purveyor of faith. Who gave him his credentials? Must have been god, when the rest of us weren’t looking. We seem to seek purpose and meaning for our existence. I think therefore I am. Or I think therefore I must come up with some reason why I am able to think? And since we lack any sort of true proof of why we are here we fabricate all sorts of beautiful stories. I think our ability reason is also a punishment leaving us with an endless why.

I worked on the yearbook in highschool. We had one edition called Mind, Body, and Soul. I think there was a hole on the cover. A new form of yearbook marketing, edgy and artistic. Or maybe a window to soul of the book. However it looked somebody took a shotgun to the body and thankfully didn’t destroy and student minds. These three, notice so many good things come in threes, ideas/concepts/things appear to constitute our existence. That yearbook summarized my HS existence. There was a hole in it....right next to the mind, body, and soul.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Art class

For the first time since arriving in Argentina I was able to fully enjoy my art classes. I am scheduled for about 12 hours of class a week, but the way things work here it is more like 9 hours of class. Things tend not to start on time; there are coffee and mate (a local tea) breaks, and plenty of chit chat. I had been entirely too preoccupied to focus during art class. I was unable to conjure the patience to sit and enjoy the soothing motions of paint to brush and brush to paper. But recently I have found a calm. The brass band in my head has ceased crashing away at the symbols and started playing the soothing chill out bongo beats of the Caribbean, thus I spent every available minute of art doing just that, art.

I thought that I lacked sufficient interest to pursue art as a hobby. The issue in fact had been a cerebral traffic jam concerning my tangled thoughts. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy sitting and painting, drawing with pastels, or moving charcoal across blank paper. I learned a lot this week. I took my acrylic paints to Tuesday’s class which is held at a public space that hosts an artisan market on weekends. This is my favorite teacher; she is most attentive, amicable, and entertaining. She taught me how to mix paints and provided ideas on how to paint the landscape before me. Today, Wednesday, I went to my other class. This class is solely painting. It is at the public art school and the attendees are a group of thirty older woman. This same group of women attends Monday’s drawing class at the same university. I took with me my realist painting of a mountain landscape with the intent of finishing up. I struggled to make earth brown and asked for some assistance. The professor came over and the next thing I knew my painting had became impressionistic. My finely formed clouds and flowers were swept away by the professors brush strokes into a mix of swirling colors.

One of the ladies came over to me afterwards and said she hates how the professor does that. Just takes the brush and swipes it across your page. The ladies are a lot of fun and all very friendly. While I was a bit unnerved by how the teacher had wantonly changed my work, I did learn a handful of new ideas and tactics for painting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

part of a story

A boy sits at a computer. He stars blankly at the screen letting his eyes criss-cross in and out of focus. When the screen goes blurry he sees the electrons dancing before him. The boy clicks back into reality every few minutes after having chased down his lost thoughts.

He spits at the screen in disgust. A slimy yellowish-green goober the color of ripe avocadoes drizzles down the screen hanging languidly from the bottom of the monitor. The rain continues to crackle against the window and the neighbor’s dog howls at every lightning crash. His irritation manifested by the crease in his brow and the moistness accumulating under his arms. Unable to focus he closes his eyes, tilts his head back and takes a deep breath. His fingers once again begin to dance on the keyboard, his eyes darting back and forth across the screen. A thunderous explosion in the sky, and…pop…he sits in darkness.

The boy stands up slowly pushing the chair backward. The foot ends emit howls of torture as they slide across the tile floor. Seemingly unphased by his lost work, he sets out to find his raincoat and shoes. He opens the front door stepping into the black swirling winds of Zeus’s performance. His head is hung low and he digs deep into his pockets unearthing a battered pack of cigarettes. Matchless, he sucks the cool moist air through the unlit cigarette and ambles over to the tramp on the corner. The old man battered by experience offers a light in exchange for a smoke.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Quack , quack, quack.. ¨Get over here!¨ ¨Quit running around you slippery little devils!¨ QUACK!!! quack, quack. ¨Back in line, one in front of the other, marching forward.¨ Quack, quack.

Those little guys were quite some trouble. Running every which way, in circles , under, over, on top of each other. But after corralling most of them and... click chonk BWAM... killing a few others I think I finally have all my ducks in a row. Well, at least, if not all most or a satisfactory amount.

The postings I have put up have been about happenings here in Cordoba. I have distinctly avoided the metal component of my trip which indeed has been the most personally relevant. I have experienced, similar to those in the Delta, a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Each pulling in various directions, combining to create new ideas and then splintering again into a thousand new pieces. With each revolution new ideas were born and solidified with others being discarded.

I, as always, am thinking about what I will do next. Never can I live solely without a care for what the future holds. Americanism has bonded inseparably to my DNA. Money and productivity play to big a role in my thought process to say FUCK IT and head of into the wilderness.

Living in Cordoba has been tremendous. I don´t go out very often and I spend a ton of time hanging out with Mer in the mornings and evenings, I participate in my activities, read more than I ever have, and spend an inordinate amount of time researching various life opportunities on the internet. Thank goodness for the internet. The world flattened. Instantly connected with everyone and anything no matter where in the world they might be. I have been able to assemble and rework and reassemble my plans for the upcoming years. I feel good about what the future holds.

My ducks are now marching diligently forward. While the line might not be perfect and the path not railroad straight it is moving forward. Some of my friends may say like a track always moving forward. This is much more comforting than treading water or scrambling in circles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Salsa show

I went to a small restaurant performing space. The restaurant had a bizarre but cozy lay out with 18ft ceilings and lime green flowered walls. There were four distinct rooms all of equivalent size and a covered outdoor patio. You could pass between rooms through archways that reached to the ceiling. It was mildly maze-like. One of the rooms was being used as a performing space on this particular evening.

Eduardo, salsa instructor by night and barber by day, was having a show this evening alongside some live music. The singer´s sultry voice, and a smooth rhythmic base line filled the smokey air. Twisting and twirling with a Latino beauty perched upon six inch heels, the crowd squished and wriggled into the open spaces to watch the show.

After the performance the dance floor was cleared for the patrons to step out and strut there stuff. Edguardo and his partner took turns moving about the room dancing with all willing and unwilling bodies. I too made it to the dance floor swinging and swirling with those folks that cared to participate.

I took the hand of one woman aged approximately 50 years. She stood upon sharp black stilettos wearing an absurdly low cut dress with a heaving bosom. She was artificially tanned to the point of orange and creased with wrinkles from years of smoking. We danced and then spoke. She instantly realized I was not from around here and asked me from where. I told her New York and she immediately ohhhed and ahhhed and took me around to her friends. After a few moments of excited banter, presumably induced by mild intoxication she asked me if I was here to traffic cocaine, ecstasy, or some other narcotic. That kind of of came out of the blue. And then the conversation moved on and the people returned to the dance floor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Late Night With the Old Guys

I came home late on Friday night. Not late from an evening out, but late as in my salsa class started late and thus ended late. We did not get started until 11pm when we normally begin at around 10pm. Edguardo, the teacher, did appear to be in the best of spirits. He spent some time ranting about the people and to put it lightly, he said that many were not of the highest quality. I think he had a rough day. Apparently a few times a month people will come in for a haircut and will leave with out paying. This happened twice on this particular day. Also the floor around the barber’s chair was strewn with cigarette butts. He said that he does not let people smoke while getting their haircut unless they are crack heads, in which case he makes an exception. Apparently it helps to maintain their composure. So after a day of people flaking on their payment and cutting the hair of crack heads we begin our lesson rather late in the evening.

I didn’t get back to the Alonso’s till about 12:30. Mer was in bed, but awake and there was quite a raucous coming from out back. Apparently Rene had a bunch of his buddies over from the pool. Both Mer and Rene go to the pool regularly for exercise. Mer told me there were empanadas in the kitchen. I scarfed down a few, showered and went to bed. I was trying to avoid having to hang out with Rene and his friends. Why? I don’t know sometimes it is just easier to sleep then to be social. I did a pretty poor job of going to sleep. I laid there reading, so the light was on and Rene knocked on the window. I told him I was sleeping. He said EL LUZ, then came around and walked in. He wanted to introduce me to his buddies. I acquiesced.

We went out back and I met the six guys he was hanging out with. They had devoured an enormous tray of appetizers, a few bottles of wine, a half handle of whiskey, and two bottles of fernet. The conversation was lively. It was around 1:30 when I joined them and I sat their listening and doing my best to participate in the discussion until 5AM. Topics ranged from the state of the Argentina, politics are always a priority, and American imperialism, females wiles, what’s up with gays, how to hang glide and of course back to politics. I had a grasp on most of the conversation. The point is that this insight into the people is not always accessible. Why, I refuse to participate sometimes is beyond me, but I am glad I was involved. The people are warm and welcoming and fun to be around. It makes the experience more enriching.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Grease was Drooling Off the $.80 Hamburgers


Everyone is familiar with the term dive bar. It connotes grimy beer coated floors, dampness clinging to the walls, and an unwelcome scent that is guaranteed to stick to your clothes. Add to this, ripped upholstery, cave like lighting, and cheep beer and we have a vision of our classic dive bar. Oh, can we sprinkle in some shady characters also. This is also the texture of a barsucho.
We went to Bar de Juan, creatively named no doubt, to see an Argentinian AC/DC cover band. The guitarist was excellent and the lead singer barely spoke English. You could not distinguish one word from the next, you sort of just had to follow the rhythm and the pitch and play the words in your head.

The crowd ranged from 18-40, predominantly men, with long shaggy pony tales headbanging to She Shook Me All Night Long. The majority of the crowd was slugging liter beers and sucking down Marlboro reds. After stomping around in the mosh pit for a while I visited the lavatory. Huddled over an overflowing toilet bowl were three dudes snorting emphatically trying to be inconspicuous. THERE ARE THREE OF YOU IN ONE BROKEN BATHROOM STALL!!! One of the long haired patrons tilted his head back, looked in the mirror, and wiped his nose. He checked his amigo and gave him a thumbs up. The last head banger left the bathroom with white batter caked around his nostrils.

As the music accelerated the crowd would begin to mosh. Pushing and pulling, jumping around, and crashing into each other. I will say that everyone was pretty friendly about it, no bloody noises or cracked skulls like you would find at a hard core show. Sometimes we put our arms around each others shoulder to create a wall of bouncing and rocking bodies while belting out the lyrics to whatever song was attempted to be sung. If someone fell no one intentionally stepped on them.

The band gave three encores, and by encore I mean they stood on stage and played three more songs. They were neither dramatic or suspense building. We left the blackened cave after the last song and headed home. For a time reference, it was 5AM. The band did not go on until 2AM. Nothing is done early here. I looked down at my feet. My shoes were covered with tar like muck that climbed 5 inches up my pant legs. Mere washed my pants the following day and said the stains would not come out. I have a little bit of barsucho to carry with me always.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Teacher

I have a new Spanish teacher. Apparently there was a breakdown in communication when I was signing up for classes and Seba thought I was only going to take class for two weeks. That however is not the case I will be taking classes until the first of December. My original instructor signed up to teach another classes in my time slot so Seba found me another teacher.

I am pleased. I think this new teacher, Ines, is more qualified. Only time will tell. She has some decent ideas on teaching and is bringing valuable varied readings to class. We spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of my existence and the following day she brought a book that explored the material. She spent 6 years living in Atlanta four of which were spent teaching in a charter middle school. She returned back to Argentina to be near her family and a familiar culture. She is in school, gives Spanish classes, and works full time at an outsourced call center for Capital One. ¨Hi this is Ines at Capital One, how can I help you?¨ She is hardworking and trying to make the lessons meaningful.

Another bonus is that I find myself yawing less. For the first two weeks, I could not control myself. It was like I was on auto yawn in a sleeplessness factory. I didn´t know why I had this affliction. I have been getting enough sleep. It appears now that I was bored. The flow of the class and delivery of information were not holding my interest and I was unsure what to do to improve the situation. This teacher change seems to have made a difference. Hoo-ray for learning!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rock Climbing

I had my first rock climbing lesson on Thursday. I have practiced the sport at indoor climbing walls in the US. The facilities are well maintained and well staffed. With no experience and no knowledge you can take a quick belay class (how to lower and protect your compadre from falling) and get right to climbing. The walls are often some sort of particle board or in the case of a high quality arena they are constructed to seem like an actual mountain face reaching X feet into the air, hopefully a minimum of fifty feet.

I searched out and found three walls in the city of Cordoba. After seeing the first I hoped that there might be a variance in quality but each succesive visit yielded the same thing. The walls were plywood, old plywood crumbling at the edges, and the grips were screwed on, in what didn´t look like the most prefession of construction. Whatever, I chose a wall at a gym where there were a good number fo climbers and they were all friendly. Some practiced their English I worked on my Spanish and the relationship began.

The class was sweet. The instructor, Sebastian (yes another Sebastian) was awesome. He was patient and fully explained the parts and usage of all the basic equipment. There are agenices that ensure the quality of the products and I should make sure the equipment contained the mark of the agency. He was very impressed with the gear I had. I brought with me a pair of climbing shoes, a harness, and a caribiner nothing more, all of which were at the lowest level of quality by a well respected manufacturer. He asked my the price, I told him $70 for the shoes and $70 for the other stuff. He turned to the other guys and said something along the lines of did you hear that, $70. He explained to me that the bottom line equpiment available here was of lower quality and more expensive. He wanted to know if I could ship him some gear for personal use. I am going to a customs intermediary to find out about importation issues on Monday.

After about and hour of listening and learning we went straight to the wall. The wall looks dilapidated and relatively unsafe compared to what I had used in the US but everyone else was confident so up I went. Oh, let me mention that the person belaying below was also a newbie and there was no padding just ceramic tiles. I climbed up hanging the caribiners and clipping the rope until I made it to the top. The top portion of the wall inverted and as I was hanging on the only thought that was running through my head is hold tight if you fall you may very well die. All worked out. Then we switched places, the other kid went up and I couldn´t help but wonder what he must be thinking. Foreign guy who is doing this for the first time and has a loose grasp on the language at best is holding my safety in his hands. Once again, no problems. Then Sebastian went up to take the gear down. I was at the bottom belaying, ensuring that if he fell he would not come crashing to the ground. He climbs up and then falls, intentionally. I grabbed the rope and lunged two steps forward, shock streaking across my face. He smiled and explained what I should be doing so that I wouldn´t be taken off balance in the case of my partner falling. Point taken, the learning experience was valuable, but whoa man.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Yes meat! In Argentina cow is king. Welcome to the land of asado…the ultimate in bar-b-q experience. I have attended asados in the past and they are a good time: people passing the time telling stories, sparring over philosophy, drinking wine, beer, or fernet and coke, and of course beef. There is always a pile of meat on the grill. The grill is not our typical American construction. It is a permanent cement structure built for grilling, not a Weber or a smoker, but brick and mortar. I can not come close to naming all the parts of the cow that are consumed during a large banquet style asado. I for one am not afraid to try new things. You are looking at a guy who ate brains in Budapest and guinea pig in Peru. I can however tell you that I do not enjoy eating organs. I am not ok with eating intestines, heart, stomach, and kidneys. I have tried them and have yet to say mmmm delicious, followed by the question ¨What was that?¨ only to be told that I had just consumed roasted cow lung. So, during the meal I opt out of organs and indulge in the scrumptious deliciousness of all other parts of the cow.

We were sitting around the table at Seba´s brother’s house about 15 miles outside the city. The kids were running around the yard, the soccer game was on in the background, the dogs were sniffing the ground for any dropped morsels and I asked, ¨What is that?¨ Seba responded, ¨Rincon.¨ I did not know what that was, but after a brief discussion with descriptions such as ´the part that filters´ and ´associated with alcohol´ I came to the conclusion that it was kidney. I looked over at the winter’s worth of muck, debris, and insects in the pool and decided that eating the filter would not be a good idea. I passed.

Not only is meat prevalent at the famed asado, but at virtually all times. While in the states I rarely ate meat, not that I don’t like it but I choose veggies over beef. In the last week and a half I have easily consumed 20 meat based meals, probably more than I have in the last year. Vegetables are not a focal point. I am now adjusting to the dietary rhythm of life. It is a necessity, but I still need more veggies than are traditionally available. I have taken to stocking the kitchen with fruit for breakfast and I sneak a carrot or a pepper during the day.

I walked into the house last Saturday for lunch and everyone was already at the table eating sausages and ribs. Alone on my plate lay two solitary carrots, Seba turned to me and smiled and said, ¨Almuerzo.¨ Very funny, please pass the meat.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Days

I have been in Argentina for about a week now. When I was looking for flights, it was a few hundred dollars cheaper to fly to Santiago, Chile then to Cordoba or Buenos Aires. I looked at a map and calculated the distance to be about 300 miles from Santiago to Cordoba. I figured the trip would be about 6 to 10 hours by bus. Whoops!!! It was a 17 hour trip. We needed to cross the Andes which were gorgeous, steep, and snow covered. Then we stopped at customs for about 1.5 hours. Live and learn. No worries though because the buses are wonderfully comfortable.

I received a warm welcome at the Alonsos, with whom I stayed the last time I was here. It was six A.M., a few hours before they would be going to work so we shared some coffee, biscuits, and conversation.

I spent the following five days running around the city like a crazy person putting together a schedule of activities to make the most of my time in Cordoba. After 5 hectic days I now have a virtual curriculum of things to do. I am taking three art classes (painting, carbon, drawing), Spanish, salsa, and cooking. I have also found a gym with a rock climbing wall and yoga classes. I am set to go. Please try to imagine the hysteria of organizing this schedule. Each time I happened upon an institution that provided one of the classes a horribly broken conversation would ensue that either ended up with directions to another location that may offer similar services or a concession of the norm so that I may take the already existing class. At the art school and culinary institute the programs started a few months ago, intrigued by this hapless foreigner they offered to suspend the regular entrance requirements and allow me join their programs for the few months that I am here. The people are welcoming and have been very accommodating.

What will truly blow your mind is the cost of the activities. Art classes work out to be no more than $3.00/class, cooking is $20/class, salsa group classes are about $1.50/class, and the kicker is the private salsa classes with Edguardo are about $3.50/class. Edguardo is the instructor of the group classes at a salon I happened upon during my wanderings and I asked if I could take private classes. He said sure and that they would be 10 pesos an hour and held in his peluqueria (barber shop). Twice a week I go to the peluqueria for private instruction. He brings his girlfriend so that I have someone to practice with. Unbelievable.

Even though this is a self determined schedule, the week is still tiring and the weekends are welcomed. I am heading into week two of Mike’s home-grown university schedule.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Writing Again

I miss this. I thoroughly enjoy putting words on paper or in this case screen. I definitely do not enjoy putting words on paper; it has been to many years of typing at this point. I find the best way to transcribe existence is being able to tote a laptop wherever it is you need to be and plop down and sprinkle some words across the page. Unfortunately at this juncture I do not have the luxury of computer mobility and must be tied to a desktop at either school or at the house.

What school you may wonder? I am taking Spanish classes in Argentina and will be here for the next few months. Well if you are in Argentina, what house then? I am staying with the family Alonso. They are awesome. I stayed with them the last time I was here in 2005. The son of the family, Sebastian, has opened a language school. The school I am attending. A thriving entrepreneurial spirit is always appreciated. This is his second year in business. It is challenging to attract a continuous flow of students. I hope that the business remains viable and continues to grow.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Climactic End to a Successful Year

Instead of clawing the walls anticipating sending the students home on the last day, instead of a call to good riddance and let freedom ring, this year ended with hard work until the very last minute of the last day of school. I will miss my hard-working dedicated students.

The year handed me a mixed bags of highs, lows and middle of the road emotions. The overarching theme has been hard work = success and the harder you work the bigger your brain will be. This sort of mantra often led me to hoot and holler, jump on desks, and massage the head tops of my students. Sometimes I would ask them if there head hurt because it looked as if their brain had gotten so big that it was trying to escape from their skull. I promised my students that we would do great things this year. I strove to be a model of dedication and productivity for my students. For the last few weeks after testing while many classes were watching movies and playing games we were building bridges and producing art. Beyond good test scores, I believe my students have proof that education has relevance outside the classroom and that they have the ability to accomplish great things. The pictures below are proof positive that the students have done awesome work. It has been a fantastic two years, and the experience leaves and indelible footprint upon the trajectory of my life.

Students constructing model bridges tied to the measurement and geometry benchmarks.

This kid's brain is huge. That is the result of hard work.

Mosaics used to reinforce area, perimeter, and fractions.

Art plus math equals AWESOME!

The mural was designed by the student on the left who won the school-wide drawing contest. Art club's final project was to paint the mural in the auditorium ... a testament to creativity and dedication.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Delta Days

I have appreciated the Delta landscape from my first entry to the fabled land of cotton. My favorite time to drive is during the evening sunset or morning sunrise when the watercolor skies indiscriminately blur the colors of dawn and dusk. Route 1 is by far my preferred travel route when heading either North or South through the Delta. It is the great river road running parallel to the mighty Mississippi. When I happen on the chance to drive the expanse of cotton fields, levies, dilapidated shacks, and farmhouses surrounded by both crumbling and new equipment, I always choose this route. The sense of isolation and mystery feel so much more severe than traveling Route 60, the major four-lane highway that connects the primary Delta towns.

I spend the hour and a half drive to Arkansas reflecting upon recent occurrences in the classroom, the tenure of my time in the Delta and the opportunities that the future may hold. Yesterday evening while heading north I contemplated the outlook of teaching a third year. Keep in mind I have no intent to stay in the classroom, but the thoughtful reflection was intriguing.

If I could be guaranteed a spot as a fifth grade teacher and teach my same kids again I would be fully aware of their skill deficits. I have spent so much time the past two years catching kids up on missed basic skills and always rushed to meet benchmarks that the possibility of getting ahead is constantly muted. Looking at my classroom I can see how high performing schools get ahead. If the children are successfully taught each year there is plenty of time to delve deeper into the curriculum and broaden the expanse of the academic experience. Having taught fifth grade and knowing where my students stand now, I believe implementing the fifth grade curriculum would be relatively smooth sailing. I would be afforded additional time for enriching projects that incorporate benchmark skills with less worry of painful catch up.

My classroom systems are developed and functional. So little time would be needed to teach and acclimatize the students to the functions of my room. I have been running a system of math centers for the past few months that practice basic skills. I have over 10 games (and growing) that produce no work and all the kids are fully accountable for their productivity. When they finish required class work they jump into the rotation while I continue to help lagging students. (This fluidity is a huge advancement in my professional growth as a teacher.) My classroom is brimming with class sets of multi-colored and multi-functional manipulatives. I could again fundraise to support my academic year providing freedom from constrained resources.

The opportunities for growth would be phenomenal and while many of my students would claim not to like me, they are cognizant that out classroom operates differently from all others in the building. The sunset coincided with the closing of my trip and reflection…beautiful thoughts in beautiful scenery. The skies melted into darkness as I pulled up to the smiling welcome of my destination. Delta life is good.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A list of good things that happened today.

- One of my students from last year said, Mr. C I got a 95 on that practice MCT…good thing you taught all that stuff last year.”

- 11 of my students scored over an 85% on a comprehensive exam and everyone is psyched to keep practicing to get their scores higher. Four of them broke a ninety.

- It rained for the first time this spring. The wonderful scent of fresh life is in the air.

- I received formal recognition for my contributions to the North Bolivar District.

- Centers officially started to today and they are sweet. They produce no collectable work and the students love the break from test prep.

- Student writing is dramatically improving. Coherent thoughts are being assembled and explained on both paper and in words.

- I have completely enjoyed teaching since I returned from spring break and we are rocking house in the classroom.