The Final Post (Is it really? Does it have to be? DENIAL)

It has officially been a year. In typical tardy fashion, I am posting about two weeks after my actual one-year mark, but according to all my other posts, timeliness is not really my style. Based on my last entry, I promised a final post recounting my trip to Patagonia, where I visited the world’s only still-growing glacier, El Perito Moreno, explored the Fitz Roy mountain chain in El Chaltain and traveled to “the end of the world,” Ushuaia, the Southernmost point before hitting Antarctica. I did not do that. After my trip, my parents and sister came to visit me in Buenos Aires where they got to meet Ana and explore the streets that I grew to feel so at home in. Then we all flew home and the re-assimilation process began. (I flew to Providence, where I would live for the summer, six days after arriving in Tallahassee.) Needless to say, I was busy. But more than that, I was in denial that it was over. By writing that it was the end, made it final, over, complete — and I could not do it.

El Perito Moreno — still growing!
What a walrus!
Perito Moreno

My trip to the South was beyond incredible. Erin (my media naranja) and I saw the most amazingly amazing views I have seen in my lifetime. We heard the daunting cracks of the glacier (which I thought looked like a mix between pumice stone and meringue). We saw huge barking seals and the archeological grounds of an ancient civilization in Ushuaia. We rode along the Beagle Chanel, the same channel Darwin rode centuries before. We fared a closed hostel where we intended to stay, but were happily surprised to meet some really cool British guys in the one hostel that was open in El Chaltain. We played Shithead (a really fun card game, with a really fun vulgar name.) We ate lamb goulash (El Chaltain is known for its lamb). We walked 13 miles in the Fitz Roy mountain range just to see a glacier that was still less impressive than Perito Moreno, but were greeted at the end of the day-long hike by a beautiful sunset and full moon that rivaled the beauty of our day. At the end of our week-long excursion to the South, Erin and I flew back to Buenos Aires, where we met our families who awaited us there. I took my family to the old Recolleta cemetery and street fair. We went to Fuerza Bruta — a Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil-like performance, which was stunning and incredible. We visited Iguazu Falls, one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in the world where we rode a boat amidst the falls. They met Molly and Erin and their moms. I took them to my favorite cafes and restaurants. We had dinner with Ana where we talked the World Cup as we watched it on TV in the sports bar and my dad tried to speak Spanish.

The end of our hike moon
Vamos Argentina! (during the World Cup)

I can remember everything that happened but it has been a year, and everything is still so fresh in my mind. Argentina left an impression on me and it is not one that will be easily erased. Argentina taught me patience. It taught me to be open to change and to slow down, and accept that I may not get everything I want to get done in a day. It taught me the importance of language and of not being a culture-collector (where we expect something from going abroad) but the importance of being an active participant in cultural exchange (understanding that what we take from abroad is what we make of it and not expecting a certain culture to give us something in return.) It taught me to appreciate time (because days go by quickly, especially in a city, so you need to soak up EVERYTHING, but… ***see previous sentence on change and slowing down.) It taught me to appreciate some aspects of America, but it also taught me to hate some aspects of America. It taught me to be open-minded but also to have a firm stand on what I believe — to not fall for everything. I think if I thought about it enough, this list would keep growing, but for now, I would like to stop. I know I will be back, but for now Argentina holds a dear place in my hear and in my memory.

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu con mi familia
Classic parilla con mi familia
With Ana!

I am eternally grateful to Ana Laura and Eliana, my beautiful, always happy, loving and just perfect program directors; my host mom, Ana for taking me in as a daughter she never had and making me feel happily at home; the life-long friends I made on my program who shared my passion for human rights and justice, who are my inspiration and who I know will all do amazing work in the years to come; and to all the wonderful Argentines who allowed me to hear their stories and gave me hope for a better future.

Con Ana y Eli :)

Emily “muchos muchos besitos” Kennedy


The final days: a project, a rainbow and a Jesus-themed theme park

Hello America, well specifically North America. I am back. I know I have not written in over a month now but that is only because I was trying to soak up my final days in Argentina. So alas, I have a lot to say. I think I left off with how I was beginning the ISP project so I will start with that.

river in Claypole

My project was on access to water in Claypole, which is part of the outer province of Buenos Aires and is about an hour outside of the city. Given that water seems to have inundated every part of my life (according to the stars my element is water, I’m from Florida, go to school in the Ocean state, work on a campaign at school to eliminate bottled water, and swim competitively on a college team,) water seemed to be a natural fit for my topic of study. Ever since organizing the Think Outside the Bottle campaign at PC and working with a non-profit in Boston called Corporate Accountability International, I have had an interest and passion for water rights and the problems associated with the privatizations of water. While Argentina had many issues with privatizations of many services in the nineties, the water utilities are no longer under private control. I ended up choosing Claypole, because while there are no problems with privatizations, access to clean water still is a huge issue. I learned that there was a group of University of Buenos Aires students called Taller de Aguas, who had worked with the “vecinos” (neighbors) of Claypole since 2008 to try and petition the water company to improve their water infrastructure. From there, I began emailing this group to try and organize a time to meet with them to talk about their work and about the current situation within the community. Continue reading “The final days: a project, a rainbow and a Jesus-themed theme park”

A story of grafitti, an 1830 house and the world’s biggest dinosaur discovery.

What does a walking tour, four hours of sleep and a painted astronaut all have in common? That was my state of existence last Saturday when I went on a graffiti tour of the city. I will first explain the sleep. So the night before, a few friends and I (including my fellow PC friend, Brian) decided around 3 am that after a long night out that it wasn’t time to go home, rather to stay out and watch the sunrise – so that is exactly what we did. The rest of our night included, a 5 am stop to get choripan (the most delicious bread and sausage combo), a subte ride to Puerto Madero (the port), a chat with a hotel guard, and finally the sunrise over the ecological reserve. Granted, we we were all eaten alive by mosquitoes for the two hours it took until the sun rose (it rose much later than we anticipated – around 7:15), but we all thoroughly enjoyed witnessing a “Lion King”esque sunrise while singing Hakuna Matata. So that is why I had four hours of sleep. The next day I was going on graffiti tour and it was lovely.

Lion King

Continue reading “A story of grafitti, an 1830 house and the world’s biggest dinosaur discovery.”

Final classes, a final month

School’s out! I walked outside of CEDES, the place where we take classes, with my notebook in hand, and threw my Spanglish-infested notes into the air. Clase de Derechos Humanos y Movimientos Sociales was done forever and I was a new woman, ready to walk the streets of Buenos Aires, lecture-free. Just kidding, I did none of that but I am excited to be on to the next phase of my study abroad experience. The ISP—independent study project. For the last month of my program, we are all given the assignment to pick a topic, of our choosing, to study and research through the final days of our program. We must write a 20-40 page paper in Spanish and give a presentation on it at the end. I will admit that the progression of my stress over the past two weeks had escalated greatly due to the oncoming nature of this project, but now that I have figured some more things out, the stress is slowly diminishing. Anyway, the past few weeks have involved many emails to local organizations, trying to coordinate interviews, meetings with my advisors and un poco research. My topic is on the lack of access to water and problems with water contamination in the area of Claypole, part of the province outside of Buenos Aires. There is a trash dump very near this neighborhood in which trash seeps into the groundwater, contaminating it. Since many people in this community don’t have access to water networks, many of them dig deep holes in the ground to get their water, which due to the contamination has lead to many health problems. There is a social organization and group of University of BA students called Taller de Aguas, who work with the community to improve the water situation, which I am interviewing on Wednesday, along with community members. I am excited to begin working on this and I shall let you know how it goes over the course of the next three weeks.

In the meantime, here is summary of the last eventful days of class. Continue reading “Final classes, a final month”

The Many Perspectives of the North and a Quick Trip (slip) in Mendoza

Hola chicos, I am back from the North and from my excursion to the wine region of Argentina, Mendoza. To be honest with you, summarizing the best and most interesting stories from the past two weeks (3 and a half weeks ago now) is presenting itself as a very daunting and challenging task, yet here I go. Warning: this may be long.

My first impression of the North was Salta. We drove in from the airport and all I could think of as we drove was how Spanish-inspired the buildings looked. We passed whitewashed buildings with green ivy climbing the walls. Rod-ironed lanterns lined the streets, window boxes adorned each balcony and each roof was made of brick-red tiles. This city was “precioso.”

The view of Salta from the chairlift.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the state of the North in general before I go into the stories. So the North, is a lot poorer than the rest of the country. It is much drier and has a completely different landscape from that of the South in Patagonia or obviously in the city of BA. The mountains are red (and many other colors which I will get into) and cacti and llamas are everywhere. But due to the more impoverished state of things, they do not have as good of a water infrastructure, which to my chagrin meant that we had to buy bottled water. However, after a few days of submitting to this torture, I reverted to boiling water using our water boiler in our hotel kitchen (and using the super cool electrolight wand device my aunt and uncle gave me that uses UV light to kill the bacteria in the water.) Needless to say, I am alive and well. Continue reading “The Many Perspectives of the North and a Quick Trip (slip) in Mendoza”

Part 2: Things Done (Redeeming Curiosity)

It’s too bad that curiosity gets such a bad rap, ya know, for killing the cat, because curiosity has taken me to some very interesting places over the past few weeks. Image

A few weeks ago, I was invited to an  “asado” — which is a typical BBQ — with my family host family. Ana, my host mom, son, Mariano, and his girlfriend, Jennie, all drove an hour away to Pilar where my host mom shares a resort-type house with her sister. The food was delicious –choripan (chorizo sausage and bread), potato and egg salad, and green salad and lots of delicious beef. Ana’s sister was there with her boyfriend and another family who were family friends. They had a three-year old. She was learning English. That was a real esteem booster… Continue reading “Part 2: Things Done (Redeeming Curiosity)”

Part 1: Things Learned, Things Observed

In Argentina, the socialist party is the 4th most popular political party. Cristina Kirchner (the President) just became the godmother of a child of two lesbian women. Marches and protests occur daily, and the public university system is free for all and so is the healthcare.

While this is not the Socialist party, this is the Communist Party rallying at a march.

Continue reading “Part 1: Things Learned, Things Observed”