16 October 2013

in which we join a bunch of germans at a german festival... in south america

it's always nice to get away from the city, especially when you're surrounded by the beautiful sierras mountains of córdoba province. and we were told not to miss the big oktoberfest, or fiesta nacional de cerveza, held this month in villa general belgrano, a town a couple hours away that's known for the influx of german immigrants settling there after world war ii. so we decided to head over for saturday and sunday last weekend, october 5-6.

maddy and i went to the town with a group of friends including several germans - all the projects volunteers seem to be german nowadays. the festival turned out to be hokey and completely stereotypically german, but in the least authentic way. basically, the stage hosted a continual rotation of "german" (according the the germans we were with, most were hungarian or polish) dances and music while revelers consumed pint after pint of local craft beers out of hilariously fake-german tankards. not what we were expecting - and nothing like the real thing, apparently - but still it was a cultural experience seeing all the fake-german-ness and this big party that lots of argentinians love. also, apparently the second weekend is more exciting... oh well.

my german friend scoffed at the festival attire: "those hats are not german."

mugs for sale displaying the crests of german cities that have nothing to do with oktoberfest... some cities were even in switzerland or france!

the stage.

(almost) the whole gang.

maddy & the blondes.

as it turns out, the best part of the weekend was not the festival; it was the cabin we stayed at on a farm in the country owned by a nice old (authentically) german couple from buenos aires. we spend sunday morning just hanging out, enjoying the sun and the country air and the company of geese and sheep and roosters and llamas. 

we even went on a zipline over a little creek... unfortunately, my favorite pants didn't survive that one. i'm hoping i can sew them without it being too noticeable... at least they'll have a good story now, right?

our cabin was adorable, and so was the inside of the main house.

at nighttime, the stars were incredible.

view from the loft: so cozy.

"pick a name for the future sons and daughters of our pets. horses, ponies, llamas, donkeys, etc. also put your name, date, room or cabin number."

cabin crew!

forest fires were ravaging close-by forests as we drove out.

other scenes from daily life in the last couple weeks (i know it's been a while since my last update!):

an awesome mural on my daily bus route: "the revolution comes, smelling of jasmine"?

my walk from work to the bus stop.

spring flowers + a puzzlingly incomplete cathedral.

sunset in a city park.

the provincial elections are coming up, and the city is blanketed in posters. i like how this guy, the former governor of córdoba now running for congress, just goes by his nickname, "el gringo."

evening snack before the bus ride home... and is that empanada cursing me out?

the communications faculty in the "ciudad universitaria" or university campus... i've learned from other volunteers that the u.s. is the only place where we try to make our campuses beautiful and verdant and pristine. many other countries don't have the "campus culture" where the whole college experience revolves around campus life.

delicious-but-also-absolutely-disgusting pastries always tantalizing me at friday human rights meetings.

interesting work tidbits: i attended the physical education class at the correctional, and the girls and i and my friend malin did aerobics ("localizada" here) together. it was really fun, and the guards thought it was hilarious - i'm going back tomorrow morning for aerobox! 

at court today, instead of hearing witness testimony, we got to hear the defendants speak. it was incredible to actually hear these apparent villains defend their actions. actually, most of what they said was unconvincing: one claimed that he had no idea where the corpses were, but gave information about a military crime prior to the '76 regime as evidence that he wanted to cooperate (though some of his statements contradicted previous claims!) another attempted to discredit witnesses and question the value of previously examined evidence, and eventually the judge had to kick him off the stand for not respecting the laws of the court. the third defined the role of a military man in some sort of attempt to contextualize their role during that era, quoted hanna arendt's eichmann in jerusalem at length in some sort of attempt to connect nazism to his role and assert that they were protecting the many by detaining the few (?) as well as citing an incident of a civilian "assassination" to pinpoint the disappeared as terrorists who needed to be taken out of society.

it's interesting how people can rationalize even the most awful actions.

the court building, right in the ciudad universitaria.

in front of the court building.

maddy and i cooked dinner for our hosts a couple fridays ago, which ended up being quite the ordeal, but completely worth it! it was a lot of fun to cook for the first time in a long time, and i think they were incredibly appreciative, if a little suspicious of their first taste of tofu. (we found tofu! it's nearly nonexistent in córdoba despite soy being argentina's largest export.) we were beyond happy, though - i had no idea how much i could miss tofu stir fry and fresh bean and corn salad! the food at my host family is very good, but i still loved having some typical food from home, not to mention a completely vegan meal.

marit and maddy attempt grocery shopping.


who knew you could have a personalized virgin-mary gearshift?? on a public bus??

...things take a turn for the awkward when the bus driver starts writing me secret notes. YEP THIS IS MY STOP RIGHT HERE OK BYE.

maddy and i made one stop at the only starbucks we know of in córdoba to enjoy dulce de leche and mango maracuyá (passionfruit) frappuccinos: classic white-girl-in-south-america.

"mixed salad: cabbage with cabbage." yum.

fernet and coke, córdobans' favorite drink, in candy form at the paseo de las artes market.

public tango every sunday night at a plaza downtown! i actually did a tango class a couple weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun and i actually learned a couple steps. but i'll never have argentinians' inborn sense of rhythm.

it finally really rained this afternoon for a couple hours. people didn't know what to do with themselves, and there were sellers yelling "¡paraguas!" - umbrellas! - on every corner.

backyard findings.

pretty light on a neighbor's house at dusk.

barrio cerro de las rosas, where i live.

an everyday walk through my neighborhood:

english-language shirts in argentina are everywhere and many are beyond tacky (and hilarious).

this was bad even before the typo made it worse.

i love argentinians' lively political consciousness. everywhere you look, there's a protest or a sign or a work of graffiti art with a message. when people don't like the system here, they want change. and they demand it.

this performance art piece was part of last week's theater festival in the city. the installation, "urban slaves," included living mannequins portraying prototypical "perfect" people under society's strict norms and expectations.

activists are constantly reminding people to remember the desaparecidos.

nights (the only time we don't work!) out with friends: 


human rights for the win.

saying goodbye to helena, my work partner and good friend. :(

we have a favorite nighttime food truck specializing in "choripan": chorizo sausage and bread. i asked for a vegetarian one, and the guys literally laughed in my face... but i got the sandwich!

maddy left on wednesday, which was sad and surreal. i was lucky to extend my trip two more weeks, until november 6, so i'll be here two and a half months in total. it still feels super short, but i know i'll also be ready to go home. i'm looking forward to a familiar routine and vegan food and a job and the holiday season and seeing my family (obviously) and my dog (you can't skype with a dog!) and friends who are still in high school and friends who are back from college... 

maddy says goodbye to our friend francesca.

it'll be good to be home, though it'll be weird to leave here and i kind of have no idea what life will be like back in the u.s.a. it'll be a completely familiar situation in one way and a completely new one at the same time. yeah, it's the same as how i spent my summer, but this will feel different since i'm now neither on break nor in college. this is my life, but it's so weird and dynamic and always transitioning. right now, argentina feels like everything i know, and i haven't been to d.c. since july except for that brief, hectic interlude between my amazing trips. home will seem mundane in a way, but i'm certainly going to enjoy that for a time. and i haven't decided my plans for my next trip, which is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. i know it'll work out, but i don't quite know how. i'm just letting this year take me where it will. freedom is a luxury, i know, and it's exhilarating. i may have no idea what to expect, but i'm overwhelmingly grateful for everything that lies ahead of me, this year and beyond.

x, m

p.s. I WENT TO IGUAZÚ FALLS THIS WEEKEND SO GET READY FOR PHOTOS. i haven't actually begun to sort them all... but here's a sneak peek.

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