Friday, October 20, 2006


A Typical Week - Although it could be said that in an international program, there is no such thing as a typical week, there is a bit of a routine for each week. I teach two classes, and the Human Genetics class meets on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings, and the Science and Religion class meets on Tuesday and Friday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. After classes on Wednesday, everyone meets at the Casa for convocation [usually a time of worship songs and a presentation, e.g. the US Ambassador will soon be coming to a convo], and then we all go out for a group dinner. Dinners are at various restaurants and thus far have included Greek with a dance show, Italian with an operetta show, International with a tango show, and Norteamericano with no show - just great food and swift service. Thursdays, I do not have any classes, and there is a noontime asado at the Casa for everyone. On Thursday evenings, volunteers go to a Catholic church facility to prepare sandwiches for the families of hospitalilzed children. There usually are about a dozen students who show up - Rhonda and I help out at the church, and then the students take the food to a hospital and meet with the families, sing songs and play games. Many of the weeks are punctuated with special events, such as sports days with some of the local schools, long weekends for travel time, field trips, and a spiritual retreat that is coming up this Friday through Sunday. When I am not grading homework and tests, or preparing for classes, we try to get out and about to explore the city, visit various barrios and browse at the many ferias. Rhonda has been doing a "good job" of browsing rather than buying :-) She has time for reading, Sudoku, and the internet. She also is 'mother on call' for the 51 students, and is a real heroine when she whips up some homemade dishes and desserts to share with the students and staff. "Mrs. S., you are soooooooo awesome" is a common quote when Rhonda is working in the kitchen.

Cultural Adjustments
- Some folks have asked us what we miss, and aside from the obvious such as family and friends, it is not that we are missing a lot, but rather it is getting used to a different way of life. Such as no car. When we left the USA, we got out of the auto market [no insurance payments, no license fees], and here, we get around almost exclusively by walking and riding the subte. This past Sunday, we rode the bus, and last Friday evening, we took a taxi to the Teatro Colon. And, it was not really a 'taxi' but rather was with Andres, a driver who does a lot of hired driving for Pepperdine in Buenos Aires. For example, we hired Andres to take Rhonda to the airport last Thursday to pick up our good friend Arlene Cook from Colorado Springs, and we will probably hire Andres to go to the airport when our kids come to visit. Rhonda recently noted that "riding in a car is like a special treat," although we certainly do not need and indeed do not want a car. One of our car-savvy students notes that there are models here that are not available in the USA, e.g. the Toyota Hilux truck and SUV, the Mercedes 200C and A class, and the Chevrolet Astra, Vectra and Corsa.

One interesting difference that we noted rather quickly was that there are no window or door screens at the Casa, and possibly in all of Argentina! It is great to have everything open for the buenos aires, but it is thus also open to the pests, notably the mosquitoes [totaly random aside, speaking of mosquitoes and 'good air' what disease was named after 'bad air'?]. Another thing that we noted was the large number of stray cats and dogs, and the large number of dogs with owners. All of this makes one very conscious of where one walks on the sidewalks and in the parks. It is also very clear that we are living in a very large city - about one third of the 39 million people in Argentina live in Buenos Aires, or as it was originally known, Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires, "City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds." The population of 13,000,000 places Buenos Aires in 12th place among the largest urban areas in the world, and thus there are all of the attendant mega-city characteristics, good and bad - the "Paris of South America" with all of the cultural amenities; street trash and noise around the clock; great public transportation; poverty; and the list goes on as you can imagine.

- Thank goodness for Skype! This free voice-over-internet software makes it possible to talk computer to computer for free, and from our computer to USA phones for 2.1 cents per minute. And, the quality of communication is generally quite good. So, between Skype and the internet, we feel like we are fairly connected to the folks back home. And, of course this blog helps us to connect to those of you who take a moment to read it!! Drop us an email sometime, and buen dia.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Well, the Sony camera is not totally dead, but it is off to the repair shop to see why its screen went blank. Without our camera, we were not able to get any pictures of Mar del Plata, the oceanside city where Rhonda and I spent a very relaxing three day weekend. If you link to you will see where we were and a bit of local scenery. There is a long walkway along the ocean, going past very rocky shores that transition to large beaches. The surf was about 4-5 feet, and there were a fair amount of surfers - no bathers however since the water is still pretty chilly. Mar del Plata is a beach town more like Atlantic City than Malibu, and thus the next time we head to the Atlantic, we will probably search out a small community. Also on the long weekend, the students headed out of town and most of them traveled to Cordoba for Fiesta de las Cervezas, better known to us German-types as Oktoberfest. Their bus rolled back to the Casa at about 5:30 am, and my biology students hastily prepared for their quiz at 9:00!

Since our camera is on the blink, I have added a few more whale pictures from our trip to the Valdes Peninsula. You can see how close to the whales we were at times, and also you can get a glimpse of one whale's tongue and baleen - a sight we were told that is fairly uncommon. And to give proper credit, these four photos were taken by our good friend and colleague Lee Kats who was able to join us for a portion of the educational field trip.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


And West is West, but what about North and South?? I am not sure of the source of my inner desire to know the N-S-E-W orientation of my whereabouts. Maybe it was growing up in Northern Indiana where nearly all of the roads run North-South and East-West, with some notable exceptions like US33 through Goshen to Elkhart, or SR 119 from Goshen to Nappanee, or the county roads that follow the rivers and races like around Bainter Town. Maybe it was living in Colorado where the Front Range is always to the West, or living in New Mexico where the Jemez are to the West and the mountains of Santa Fe and Taos are to the East. Maybe it was living by the ocean where the Santa Monica Mountains are to the North and the Pacific to the South.

But here in Buenos Aires, there are no helpful visual cues - no mountains, no oceans. In our neighborhood of many high rises and big trees, it is often difficult to see the location of the sun. Not that it would help me much since I have to stop and think "It's October, but we are in the Southern Hemisphere which means it's not fall heading to winter, but rather spring heading to summer which means the sun is heading South of E-W rather than North....." Oh, to have those Elkhart County even-numbered roads for a reference that when west-bound at the equinox, the sun was setting right in your eyes, with winter sunsets far to the South of West and summer sunsets, far to the North of West. Also, not being able to see much of the sky means that you cannot tell when 'weather is coming.' For example, in Colorado Springs, it is pretty easy to see what is in store weather-wise.

Of course there do not seem to be any roads here that run straight N-S-E-W. When we go out the front door of the Casa on to 11-de-Septiembre, I have to think "It's kinda South and the road runs kinda East-West" but in actuality, the front door pretty much faces SW, which means the road runs NW-SE. And, to top it all off, many of the maps and guide books do not have North at the top of the map!!! Thankfully, the subte map is "correct" :-)

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Here are several more pictures from our educational field trip - and the recommendation is at the end. I have dubbed the first picture tipo viejo since it really is an old guy. While wandering on an estancia on the Patagonia steppe, Rhonda and I came across this burial box. We later learned that is an aboriginal site, and interestingly, this particular individual was quite tall.

Also at the Patagonia estancia, we were given a demonstration of sheep shearing by one of the local gauchos.

This is one of the many guanacos that we saw in Patagonia. Interestingly, they are also found in Tierra del Fuego, which is an island. The guanaco originally came to the island across the frozen channels and sounds.

Close to our hotel in Puerto Madryn, we saw this statue of Saint Francis of Paola, who is the patron saint of mariners and boatmen. This was a gift to the city from the people in Paola, Italy.

And, on our boat cruise on the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, we were able to get up-close and personal with some of the wildlife, including these seals and cormorants.

And now for the recommendation. Take a moment to visit One of our students, Stacey Gallarde, was chosen from students across the USA to be one of ten who are documenting their junior year abroad. Peruse the page, and then if you click on her image, you will be taken to the page where she has posted several videos, many pictures and a blog.