IGUAZA WOW

 Posted by Delia Downes at 1:57 pm  Argentina  Comments Off on IGUAZA WOW
Jul 252014
 
IGUAZA WOW

Well I opted to go on another group trip as it is long and far away and I would rather travel with some people I know than go alone.  Able Spanish, the language school I attended arranges for trips for some of their students and even though I only studied there a short time they have included me in the offer.  The July trip is to the Cataratas as known in Argentina or Iguazu Falls as known in Brazil.  It is one of the 7 wonders of the world.  (I need to get a list of these wonders as I believe they alter or add to the list every now and then.  Or that every country claims to have some.)  Anyway, the trip is 22 hours by bus .   Again not as horrible as it sounds because the buses are quite luxurious, equipped with large, reclining seats, blankets, movies, snacks and bathroom facilities.  I traveled with 6 other girls, really girls, about 40 years younger than I, from the school, 2 from Germany, 2 from Holland, 1 from Scotland and 1 from Switzerland.  Along the way however we picked up a lot of other folks from the surrounding area and I am happy to report that I made some new Argentine friends, a few I hope to see again before I leave Mariel a new friend Our first stop on the excursions was to an ancient mission site where the Jesuits settled with the native people.  I am told there were only two priests among thousands of natives.  I was also told that the Jesuits were able to accomplish this because the surrounding tribes in Brazil and Paraguay were more aggressive and threatening to these people and the Jesuits offered a modicum of protection, in building a fortress like mission.  [click here to read more]

Cooperativa La Barranquita

 Posted by Delia Downes at 12:45 pm  Argentina  Comments Off on Cooperativa La Barranquita
Jul 222014
 
Cooperativa La Barranquita

Now that I have an understanding of the entire city I am being challenged again as I have agreed to work in another project with a women’s cooperative.  I visited the first time with one of the representatives from the Volunteer network when the coop was celebrating their 8th year anniversary.  It was quite the party with live music, good food, and a puppet show for the kids. Puppet show audience This cooperative serves a very poor neighborhood, where there is little work especially for the women.  This group got together to develop their own work programs and solicit support from the government.  One group is responsible for making things like back packs for school children.  While the government supplies the back packs they were previously buying them from China and giving them to the children.  Now these women make the back packs and the government buys them from the coop.  They also have a group that does some silkscreening on shirts and bags, etc.  and a group that does cleaning for public buildings and offices. This is a very poor neighborhood, or barrio on the south side of Cordoba.  It takes 2 buses and more than an hour to get there.  I really expected my second visit, made on my own, to be a challenge but I managed ok getting there.  Unfortunately upon my arrival I learned they were only having a meeting that day and that there would be no activities.  Communication is not great in Argentina even if you speak the language and certainly, I do not think the volunteer network would have asked me to attend if they knew it was only a meeting, but what the hell, I figured I would make the best of it. It is interesting to witness a meeting when you [click here to read more]

More Equinotherapia

 Posted by Delia Downes at 12:34 pm  Argentina  Comments Off on More Equinotherapia
Jul 222014
 
More Equinotherapia

It has been many days since I have written.  I was overcome with grief for my friend and the tragedy of her son’s situation.  The situation has not changed much but I have at least had a chance to speak with her and punctuate my daily activities with prayers for each of them. We did have some very busy days at Equinotherapia with many children showing up at the same time primarily in the afternoons.  One horse, Poli, has a bad habit of nipping, usually when you are cinching up the girth. I’ve learned to tie his head close to the post so he can’t reach me.  He is really tolerant of the children and will even carry two people on his back very well.  But one day he really gave me a surprise.  Many of the children bring carrots to give the horses after they ride. We monitor this process very carefully especially with Poli.  Everything was going well, until I was holding Poli at the bit while one of the kids was on the mounting ramp. I was completely focused on the safety of the child getting on the horse that I didn’t even see Poli, bare his teeth and go for my arm.  Not a bad bite, but painful nonetheless and it did draw blood and result in a bruise. I really think he was looking for more carrots. I did not make a big deal of it at the time because I did not want any of the children or their caregivers to get alarmed. I poured a bunch of antiseptic hand cleaner I had on it to avoid infection and kept on working.  Thankfully, I am a good healer and if it scars I will consider it a very unique souvenir. Poli with two riders [click here to read more]

July 10 for Jacob

 Posted by Delia Downes at 11:52 am  Argentina  Comments Off on July 10 for Jacob
Jul 102014
 

July 10, Thursday.  It’s been an intense day for me.  I started out trying to provide the Brazilian Consulate with all the documentation needed to get a visa, so I can travel to Iguzu Falls next week on the Argentine border and go to the Brazilian side.  A fairly simple request but a very complicated process, with lots of documents to present and a fairly hefty payment for 3 days travel.  Everything, and all my concerns for anything else came to a screeching halt upon hearing from a dear friend that her 22 year old son was on life support and things were not looking good.  Suddenly everything stops, all priorities are reshuffled, in fact the deck is tossed aside and we are, I am speechless, helpless, powerless and sorrowful.  All I want to do is comfort my friend, so I can comfort myself. I had been listening to Wayne Dyer earlier speaking about living the Tao, verse 9, “Enough is Enough.”  You cannot fill the cup beyond its capacity, you cannot sharpen the blade beyond its perfect edge or it becomes dulled.  Enough is enough, the universe knows its capacity and more is not always better, or necessary or healthy, when more is less, less is more.  Then I thought about the cacti I had written about that I saw growing on the hillsides in Pumamarca: We see the cacti growing toward the sky How do they live in a place so dry So dry so bare and  – why? Then we stop, we cannot answer Even when we try Some questions are unanswerable Begging us to accept and our logic to defy. I thought about the cacti again today Does the landscape miss them when they die and decay Will the landscape miss me when I go away [click here to read more]

Observations:

 Posted by Delia Downes at 3:14 am  Argentina  Comments Off on Observations:
Jul 062014
 
Observations:

Here are some other observations after a few weeks in Argentina that I thought I would share. First I wonder if I am observing these subtleties because I am in a new place or because I can actually take the time to look around me.  Remember I just retired after 29 years of running all the time and now I am here with not a lot to do but pay attention.  This would make for a bit of a different experience, I think, even if I was not in Argentina. Anyway, observations; people carry their babies and small children everywhere in their arms.  I have not seen the proliferation of strollers always evident in the US anywhere in Argentina so far.  Young women and men, older grandmas and grandpas carrying little ones everywhere through the streets, onto buses, into shops, it’s just what they do.  I remember carrying my son from time to time but not for long periods of time or very far and imagine I would have to be much stronger to have carried him all day long, like they do in Argentina. Then there are the dogs. I have mentioned them before but it is such a distinct subculture I am continuously fascinated by their omnipresence.  I have actually been thinking about choosing one canine and following it around for a full day just to see what it does.  In my neighborhood for example, there are the dogs behind the fences and the dogs on the loose.  Almost every home is gated to some extent and if they have a dog that dog hangs out in the yard, patrolling all day long.  On the other side of the fence are the vagrants, the dogs that roam the neighborhoods usually at a steady trot. Morea on patrol They [click here to read more]

Candonga and Equine Therapy

 Posted by Delia Downes at 2:23 am  Argentina  Comments Off on Candonga and Equine Therapy
Jul 032014
 
Candonga and Equine Therapy

All is well in Cordoba and I while I worked a little bit last week, the director of the Equine Therapy program, Ricardo,  became very ill with pneumonia and could not be there for most of the week.  As a result the entire program was shut down.  While I only worked one day all by myself,  I did my best.  I spent about 3 hours cleaning the paddock removing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of manure.  I was quite pleased with the look of it by the time I was done and was hoping to be able to keep it that way, but then found out I would not be back for the rest of the week.  Now that I’ve returned this week and Ricardo was exceedingly grateful for the work I did, I’ve learned a clean paddock is not a priority. Since the program was closed I went back to school for a few days.  My Spanish language skills are not great so the more help I get the better I will be.  On Saturday I went with a group from school to Candonga, a beautiful spot in the Sierras Chicas close to Cordoba.  We spent the day doing my favorite thing, riding horses.  We rode for about 3 hours in the morning then had a good lunch of grilled meats and salad followed by another 2 hours ride along a river.  Nothing beats a day like that in my book.  I was the only one in our group that was an experienced rider so I had an especially good time.  Salvador, the man with the horses invited me back any time and I will certainly have to take him up on that.  Candongo was an old settlement, trading point back in the 1700s.  The original church and mill is [click here to read more]

More from the Nothern provinces

 Posted by Delia Downes at 6:55 am  Argentina  Comments Off on More from the Nothern provinces
Jun 292014
 
More from the Nothern provinces

We did so much over this one weekend it is hard to remember the order of things.  I believe it was Saturday when we had lunch and watched Argentina play Iran in the World Cup.  The restaurant was full and everyone was focused on the game.  It was a nail biting match until finally at the very last minute the Argentine futbol hero Messi # 10 scored the winning goal and the entire room was jubilant.  There have been more jubilant moments over Messi since then as the World Cup continues. Of course we did some shopping at the local outdoor market that is so amazingly colorful.  I bought the customary llama wool sweater and some other things for friends and family. Late on Saturday we also went to Salinas Grandas a truly amazing site especially for someone who spent the last three decades selling sodium bicarbonate.  This sodium is far easier to access as it is an open plain of salt, stretching for miles in each direction.   Evidently it was an ancient sea with water now trapped below the surface as well.  During the summer a rainy season January and February, remember we are upside down, I was told the surface actually floods and people walk across it like Christ.  I may be just and easy mark and gullible, or maybe my understanding of Spanish is really bad but this is a lot of salt and I can believe that is possible.  We took some fun photos here and thankfully the sun was out, because without it I believe this place may have been rather bleak.  Remember we are in a high desert so while the sun was out, it was quiet warm, but windy on this open plain.  When we returned to Tilcara however, the temperatures began to [click here to read more]

A trip Jujuy

 Posted by Delia Downes at 10:41 am  Argentina  Comments Off on A trip Jujuy
Jun 262014
 
A trip Jujuy

Well, now that it is Thursday, June 26, I am finally finding some time to write about my past weekend. In the northwest corner of Argentina, bordering Bolivia and Chile are the two provinces of Jujuy and Salta.  This is an extremely remote area in the Andes high desert foothills.  I traveled with a group of 12 from the Able Spanish School by bus from Cordoba.  The trip took about 14 hours with many stops along the way.  We traveled at night and although 14 hours on a bus may sound like torture to some it is quite a comfortable experience in Argentina, as the bus seats nearly fully recline into sleeping chaises and they supply both blanket and pillow.  On the way up a hot meal was served by an attendant and a movie shown.  We left at 8:30 p.m. and so arrived Friday, mid-day, fairly well rested.  After establishing our base at a beautiful hostel in Tilcara we spent the afternoon hiking Pucara a reconstructed pre-Columbian settlement. The hostel in Tilcara The most notable thing about this place aside from its remote beauty is the numerous cacti that grow everywhere.  These things have to be hundreds of years old considering their size.  There is a story about an Argentine general fighting for independence from Spain  who being short on troops and supplies ordered his men to dress some of the cacti as soldiers, then stampeded horses around the encampment creating a great deal of dust and the impression that he was leading a great army.  Evidently the ploy worked and he went on to win Argentina’s independence from Spain.  I think the guys that had to dress the cacti should have been given additional combat pay. We also had a great lunch in Tilcara where I had my [click here to read more]

Equine Therapy Week One

 Posted by Delia Downes at 1:47 pm  Argentina  Comments Off on Equine Therapy Week One
Jun 232014
 
Equine Therapy Week One

Unfortunately, when I wrote about my first week at work, last week, just as I was about to publish I lost the WiFi service and everything I had written was lost. I have decided therefore to write everything in Word and then cut and paste. That way if it is lost I will have an additional copy. So to recap, I began working last week in the Equine Therapy Program. Ricardo is the man that runs the program and he speaks only Spanish except for “Come on baby,” so I really need to improve my language skills. Luckily there was another young girl volunteer, Margo, who had been working there for the past month who was able to show me the ropes. That’s the good news; the bad news is that Thursday was her last day so this week I will be on my own. Margo is only 18 from France, speaks fluent Spanish and English and of course French, studies international health at Duke University in North Carolina and is leaving to go to China to study Chinese. Imagine meeting that kind of competition in the workplace. I have found among the volunteers that I have met that they are mostly, young ambitious women with a drive to do what they can to help others. In the program there are about 7 horses, but they really only use two for therapy. This is one of the horses used for therapy. I did my best to groom about 3 last week with the limited supplies they have for grooming. If I had known how little they had I would have brought a suitcase filled with supplies and tack from people I know, including myself, that have so much, and duplicates of brushes, combs and picks. One horse had such a [click here to read more]

Father’s Day

 Posted by Delia Downes at 1:32 am  Argentina  Comments Off on Father’s Day
Jun 162014
 
Father's Day

Today is Father’sDay, I suppose around the world.  I was surprised to learn that it is celebrated in Argentina.  I don’t know why, I just was.  Nora did not seem to think it an important day.  Not that fathers are not important or mothers for that matter but her take on it is like that of a lot of people.  It’s a Hallmark holiday, commercialized for commercial gain.  If we really care about our parents they should know it every day or at least most days. I wore a locket around my neck today with my father’s picture in it.  This was my commemoration of my love for him.  As a young girl with a sick mother, who was always on the verge of death, I often bargained with god to take dad and leave mom.  She was just so much more important to me at the time.  I honestly thought I would die shortly after she did, but that didn’t happen and I got left with dad.  Even though I resented god at the time for not listening to me and for taking the most important person in world from me, I realize it was a better plan in the long run.  Dad needed us and we needed him, and after many years I began to know him better, as a person and not just as my dad.  He was a real character, he had integrity and an enormous heart especially for his children.  I am truly grateful to be his daughter. Today there were 3 dads present.  Carlos the dad and grandad, Santiago his son-in-law and Diego, Santiago’s brother.  We celebrated with an asado, or barbeque with lots of meat.  Like in the US the men manage the grill.  It was a really nice family gathering.  The family is [click here to read more]

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