Sunday, July 28, 2013

BA: día uno

Most stressful morning at the airport I've ever experienced; about two weeks ago I booked a flight, got a confirmation and a seat number but the ticket didn't go through because I have foreign credit cards. However, I didn't know this and didn't print a boarding pass because I had a confirmation number. This morning when I found out. The flight was full, and I think I only I got on the flight to BA de pedo (by miracle).

It was also stressful because the woman checking us in was exceptionally grumpy and after my mother's and aunt's bags were overweight got mad at them and then me for not having a ticket. She yelled at me for having a guitar and made me wait until the last moment possible to get on the plane (though the security guard whispered to me about a minute before she ushered me over that I shouldn't worry because the mean clerk had known there was definitely a free seat for about ten minutes). But no importa because I'm here now. (Hurray!)

The rest of the day was good. The hotel is copado. It's in an old building with an enclosed, old fashioned, wrought-iron elevator, and an entryway covered floor to ceiling with ceramic tile from the 20s. (Haha, I was fascinated by the elevator). Then we walked around BA for a bit today and had a very long, very nice, dinner at the restaurant beneath the hotel. Tomorrow we're taking a ferry to Uruguay for the day and need to be up at 6am, so, buenas noches!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Mom and Amy arrived last night and we went with Rio to an Asado restaurante at Paseo del Buen Pastor. We walked around for the day, mom and Amy shopped, and I showed them the main plaza and some of the markets and churches around the city. Tonight I'm going to take them to Paseo de los Artes- the night market/artisan fair that's open on the weekends. Then tomorrow morning we leave for Buenos Aires. That feels so surreal.

I can't believe I'm leaving and I can't believe I've been here for two months- it's so easy to adjust to a new place. Today I noticed that instead of calling it 'Cami's apartment' like I did the first week, or 'my apartment' like I did the first month, I was telling mom, 'No, home is that way, got to make a left up ahead'. I'm going to really miss it here.

It feels strange to leave without Cami. Wednesday evening she left for Buenos Aires on a night bus to visit a good friend from high school who is having a tough time. We're going to meet up with her tomorrow or Monday and she might even go to Uruguay with us, but it's strange to be packing without her around.

Aside from the general strangeness of leaving right now I'm preoccupied with travel plans, trying to figure out how to get to Iguazu and where/when to couchsurf. Though overall, I'm proud of my Spanish; proud the progress  I've made since arriving, and glad to have met the people and made the friends I did and glad to have the next few weeks to travel and see more of the country.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Suburban Claremont is looking really nice.

Today was my last day in the hospital.

The hospital was okay, but the walk over was not. I was walking by the future police headquarters (currently a construction site) and I saw from a gap in the corrugated metal that fences off the site, two guys beating up a third. The site is immediately across the street from my apartment complex so I ran to get Marcos, my friend and the building's porter. By the time I was back at the gate there was no one there. I don't know if it's been coincidental or if I'm more aware since being mugged, but over the past few weeks Cordoba has seemed a lot more violent.

I've definitely felt more scared walking around Cordoba since being robbed and it's something I've thought about a lot. But after this morning, the construction site fight is not something that hung over me during the day. I'm not sure what that says about my personality or about my experience here, but once I realized there wasn't much I could do, I pushed it out of my head and now, at about 4:30 pm, is the first time I've processed it since I arrived at the hospital this morning.

Tomorrow I'll write a post about the hospital/medicine/Cordoba, but not really feeling up for a long summary at the moment. Though, I should say that otherwise, I've had a good week at the hospital and in general and I'm looking forward to seeing my mom soon.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Here are a couple photos from the weekend. I had a great time in Jujuy, I really love Cami's family and I'm hoping that I'll be in S. America next summer again and will be able to visit. 

(P.S. Sorry so many of the pictures are blurry! I kind of deserve it though, I got lazy and I turned my camera on auto for the weekend...)

Natural History museum that acted as a refuge for a few hours.

Maybe a telo one day? Ask me about this story.
P.S. Don't tell Ignasio's girlfriend.

This was all dust.

I felt like I was in Beijing again. The north wind was so
powerful that it uprooted trees while I was there.

I love asado.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Jujuy day 1

Great day! It was off to a rough start when I got off the bus this morning to find that no one was answering my calls, knocks on the door or bell ringing. It also it didn´t help that once I got out of the cab I was stranded outside in Cami´s family´s completely residential neighborhood in smog I haven´t seen since Beijing and 50 degree weather. But! I started walking and eventually wound up hanging out at the natural history museum in town for a few hours and having mate with one of the curators.

Then I walked back to thier apartment and met Cami´s youngest brother, Diego, and hung out with him and Cami´s mom until my French friend Julie came to pick me up to go treking with her new Argentinian boyfriend, Sergio. Sergio exceptionally nice and is currently traveling around South America in a camper van (la camionita) that he´s named Madonna; he keeps a business suit in the back next to his mattress and mountain bike. The three of us did a short hike through the botanical gardens outside of town and then walked around the city center, got coffee and churros and walked through another street market.

Diego was playing a show this evening at a nearby restaurant and so once I got back to the house, I talked to Ignasio for a few hours (Wow, what different perspectives. And although he didn´t leave me with the best first impression, he´s really grown on me. Haha, maybe Carlos was right and I really should work on being less judgemental...). We had dinner here and just got back from Diego´s show. The band mostly covered pop songs, and I enjoyed it a lot, the girl accompanying Diego had an amazing voice and he´s a great guitarest. It was also fun because we were in Diego´s friend´s restaurant which was a place that was really brightly colored with art covering all the walls, and although it was probably meant to seat 30 people max, it had about 50 tonight during the show.

Tomorrow we´re going to Cami´s uncle´s for churipan and then the country for the afternoon!

P.S. Tomorrow is ´friend day´ in Argentina- so thank you to all my friends, I´m missing you guys who are back in Austin and Claremont and around the world/country right now. Looking forward to seeing you guys back home and at school!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

As I was leaving I realized it's been about a month since I've emptied my camera, so here are some collected photos from approx mid-June until now.

Look what came in the mail today!

I think the last time I was this
happy to receive mail was my birthday in China.
Thank you. :D


Beat up old Jeep I road out in with the jump instructors.

Ask me about this.

Julie and Rio outside of Cosquin.

To Jujuy

It's my last day of class. The Brazillians leave tomorrow, I'm not taking classes next week and my Australian friends will be gone before I'm back on Monday. So it's a bittersweet day- sweet mostly because I made Jose chocolate chip cookies again. He's definitely been the best part of the language school, I really lucked out when I was put in his class. In other news; tonight I'm on the overnight bus to Jujuy and I'll be there until I take the Sunday evening bus back- excited to see Cami's family. I'm not bringing my computer so my internet access may be intermittent until Monday afternoon, but if I can I'll try to post some photos while I'm there.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's been a really nerve wracking day. When I got to the hospital this morning I went to the ER where they were doing rounds as usual. After the shift switch (they're on once a week 24-hour shifts here) we started seeing patients. About 30 min into this there was a screaming in the hallway from a psychiatric patient. Although I never found out why he was in the ER, the police had brought him in and were restraining him. He had been yelling the whole time, but when one of the doctors ushered him into a consultorio he tried to attack the doctor.

The next patient we saw was a prisoner at the penitentiary by my house -he had hepatitis C and needed to have his stomach drained. The whole time while the doctor was draining his stomach and setting up the equipment the patient was chained to the bed and there were policemen with machine guns watching him from the hallway.

Then, when I got to school two of the Brazilian girls came in the door out of breadth and looking really scared. One of them said that they'd been followed by two strange men from the area around their apartment, which is about a block and a half from mine, all the way to the school. They said that at first they just walked quickly and zig-zagged through town, but eventually they started running and tried to duck into a shoe shop. But when they came out one of the guys was standing on the other side of the street watching them. They ran full-out to the school and that's where I saw them as they came up the steps breathless.

Although I might have felt differently hearing this from someone else (like the ridiculous American brat I met last week), I don't see either of these Brazilian girls as people who would be easily scared. And, what's more, the walk from my apartment to school is about 25 minutes- it's a significant distance to follow someone. I told her about being followed last week, and mugged the Sunday before in parque Sarmiento, and I gave her directions to the gun shop I went to buy pepper spray.

After last Sunday I still didn't feel unsafe in Cordoba. But it's been a nerve wracking day and at the moment I'm feeling like a pretty flighty American myself. Really looking forward to going to Jujuy for the weekend.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

To the countryside!

Such a good day! Rio and I went to the little towns of La Falda and La Cumbre for hiking today. Got up at 7 to take the bus out -hiked up into the sierras for some pretty spectacular views and even managed to find a  path that took us gradually downwards rather than back down the steep path up. It was great to be out of the city at all and even better to get so much time to just hike.

Afterwards we took a bus to La Falda, where according to lonely planet there was a non-touristy 'artisan street market' (said the tourist guide book) where people sold products they made from their houses. It was mostly a bust- complete tourist trap, but we walked a ways up the road and saw a sign for ['sweets and liquors' 5min ->], so we took a side road and wound up at someones house. They were selling dulce de leche, liquors and baked goods so Rio and I got some dulce de leche to bring back.

We tried to walk back to where the cab had dropped us off to see if someone would split the ride back with us, but it was about 5:30 and the sun was about to set, so we were getting a bit nervous. Quite a few cars were passing us, and when a white minibus that said 'escolares' across the front went by, I stuck out my thumb. It turned out that it was a family from Buenos Aires on vacation in the area and they were heading back to La Falda, where we needed to catch a bus. They had the school bus because the mother is a schoolbus driver and had taken the bus so that all five of them could fit comfortably. They were exceptionally nice, and very chatty and it was fun to be able to meet some Argentinians truly at random. Also, I think this was my first time hitch hiking (Rio hitch hiked from England to Morocco a few summers ago) even if it was only for about 20min. Good day, all in all!

P.S. I'll post pictures later!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


 Just walked out onto the balcony to see a fireworks show coming from the apartment complex kitty corner to mine. Que buenaondas! My first thought had been that there were cars backfiring outside my window. My second was that the convicts had escaped from the prison a block from my apartment (I'm halfway joking, yeah, that's silly, I know). But after about 30 seconds of continuous firing, I figured it out.

 From where I was on our apartment's tiny balcony I must have been 50m from the fireworks. I've never heard loader fireworks than these, and I don't think it's just because I've never been so close- they were LOUD. The show only lasted about five minutes, but it was a really neat surprise.

 I tried to look up what they are for, but can't figure it out, as far as I can find today isn't any sort of holiday. Actually, their independence day was last week (July 9th). I'll have to ask Cami when she wakes up. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

San Roque

I switched to a new hospital this week; San Roque. It's a 7 story complex that has every sort of patient and specialization I can think of and it makes Rawson look like, well, like an under-funded teaching hospital. Then again, some of Rawson's walls are literally in the process of falling down, so the bar is not set that high. 

I'm excited to be somewhere new, and really glad to have such flexibility in where I'm allowed to shadow. That said I have since discovered the disadvantage of my new position is that I'm never going to get to know the doctors very well because the hospital is set up to run on 24-hour, once a week shifts. This also means that I've been stuck in the same small talk conversation every day of the week (Richard Dean Anderson knows my pain). But, those are small complaints, I'm glad to be somewhere new. 

Wednesday was my first day and it mostly consisted of a tour of the hospital and shadowing the ER  which was less exciting than expected, but still interesting to see the differences between hospitals. I spent the past two days in the tomography department, which means I've been hanging out with the med techs and helping with CAT scans. I think it's the most interesting thing I've seen while here; a CAT scan is basically a computerized compilation of hundreds of different x-rays. Each x-ray represents a 'slice' of your body, and because they are taken in 3 different planes, the compilation gives doctors a 3-D model. And not just of bone structures, but of blood vessels and musculature as well. AND because you can choose to show the image plane-by-plane you can see the inside of a patients' body from literally ANY view imaginable. Oh, and it all happens in less than 10 seconds. I spent most of the day yesterday just playing with the program, and today helping bring patients in. I wish I could have taken a screen shot of the software they use because it's incredible. 

One of the patients today was a 30 year-old man who was having shoulder trouble. He came in, we administered the contrast, he sat down and we started the scan. Within 10 minutes (it takes a bit of time to manipulate the images to see exactly what you're looking for) one of the doctors had a 3-D model of the bones of his shoulder and it showed a partially destroyed scapula and a nearly non-existent head of his humorous. He had severe osteoporosis (strange in a 30 year old man) but it was amazing to be able to see it so clearly and so quickly. 

That said, CT scans are commonplace in all hospitals in the US, and although the technology has advanced tremendously it's been around in since the late 1970s. The machine I was working with was the first in the province of Cordoba, and according to the techs I was working with, it's only been within the past few years that the Hospital of Cordoba has bought a second one to serve an entire city of people. I find that hard to believe considering that in the U.S. CAT scans are a relatively inexpensive diagnostic technology, especially considering the level of clarity and speed. But, I also know that the taxes levied against all foreign products have prevented Rawson and U of Cordoba from getting technology, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm okay but I wish I weren't writing this one.

For the past week I've been in bed sick and haven't had too much to write about. I really wish that were still the case, but today I went for a run in the park and got robbed at knifepoint. I was shook up, but I'm completely uninjured.

I was running up a hill, with my American cell phone in hand (I've been using it for the camera/wifi/music/guitar tuner) and as I got near the top of the hill a guy came out from behind a tree, started walking on the path toward me and pulled out a knife. He put it to my stomach and I put up my hands and dropped my phone. He pushed me down, grabbed my phone and asked if I had any money on me. I told him I didn't and he said "don't move and don't say a thing". He ran back towards where he had come from, I got up, followed him to where I could see where he was going, and at the top of the hill saw him get on a red motorcycle and ride away.

 I'm pretty sure that short of telling him I didn't have any money, the whole time I was shouting 'no me molesta! no me molesta!' ...which in retrospect I think is closer to 'don't annoy me', but that doesn't really matter. I'd like to say that this was stupid and I should have seen this coming, but of all the times and places where I've feared for my safety (which have been few and far between), I never expected to have trouble running through the city's main park on a Sunday afternoon -it was about 3pm.

But today was cold and overcast, and although normally families/dates/abuelos will go to the park Sunday afternoon to picnic or just hang out, there was almost no one around. After he rode off, I was pretty shocked, and just stood where I was for about 30 seconds until another runner came by. He could tell I was distressed, asked what happened and when I told him he started saying a phrase in Spanish I can't remember at the moment but it means 'what a dumb/foolish girl'! I asked him where the nearest police station was and he took me.

It was less than a kilometer away. When I got there the police officer at the front desk was very kind, but not  particularly helpful. I explained the situation to him and described the robber, he brought me a glass of water, and wrote down my info. Then I they took me to a back office and did the exact same thing for a different officer. I told them that because I was using an app called 'mapmyrun' I knew that the GPS was activated and if I could use a computer, I thought I could get the coordinates. Unfortunately, the station did not have internet access. I asked if they could take me back to my apartment (probably about 3km away) and I could try from my laptop.

They were happy to give me a ride, but first one of the officers had to use the bathroom. Then the other had to feed the dog. Then they chatted with a third guy for a few minutes in the room next door. Efficiency is not a priority here.

Eventually they took me back to the apartment where I called ATT (no luck on that front). They wanted to drop me off, but I asked one of the officers to come in with me. So she waited for about 15 minutes while I made the call via skype (most of which was Cami explaining the situation to the operator in Spanish). Then my police officer said she had to leave. She asked once for my passport number once, but I was on the phone and I never ended up getting it. As she was leaving I had to ask her to write down my Argentinian number and contact information, and at the station they never filed a former report, they wrote my name and address in a spiral notebook and that was all.

I spent most of the afternoon talking to ATT and trying to see if I could activate the GPS using different apps, but for a number of boring reasons, I can't. Cami's brother later told me that if the police didn't hand me a printed copy of a police report before leaving, odds are they're never going to file one because they don't want to do the paperwork. And although they were kind, and I understand that robbers probably don't top their list of priorities, I'm pretty amazed and frustrated by the apathy and inefficiency.

And although I'm overwhelmingly glad to be physically okay, and I don't think that the robber really wanted to hurt me, Cami's brother also pointed out that more than being lucky in that regard, I should be glad that the robber wasn't high or messed up in some other way.

I've never particularly feared for my safety. I don't think of myself as an easy target; I'm bigger than most women, and when I'm in public I don't think I project a timid or vulnerable image. I've grown up in suburban neighborhoods and in the country outside of small-town-Texas, I've lived in the safety of cities like Guanajuato, Claremont and Beijing (which despite being a huge city is exceptionally safe, particularly for foreigners). Even going to schools where we relatively regularly had 'lock downs', Kealing and LASA were their own sort of bubble, like Claremont is now. Point is; I was wrong. It doesn't matter who you are when the other party has a knife (or a gun) and especially as a woman (and a foreigner) I've got to be more careful. I'm not going to start tiptoeing around corners, but I think I might find myself a can of pepperspray and take another martial arts class when I get back to campus.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I'm still pretty sick, but I dragged my butt out of bed today to get a prescription from Dr. Marienelli at the hospital and then to walk around the museums here.

I'm convinced that the most beautiful part of the Museum of Modern Art in Cordoba is the museum itself. It's gorgeous. And coincidentally, as I was thinking this I walked into the last exhibit in the museum which showed the buildings of famous Argentinian architects, and wuddahyaknow, Museo Emilio Carraffa is featured on one of the first panels. With the exception of the windmill picture below, I found nothing else that made an impression.

However, I also went to the Museum of Natural Sciences, and enjoyed that a lot. Two things I'm a sucker for: dinosaurs and rocks. And, once again, the museum itself was really cool. The whole place was designed around a central, circular room, and each exhibit lined the walls on a different floor.

The other pictures below are from Saturday when Cami, Cami's mom, and I went to La Cumbrecita.

P.S. Went back to another Wednesday night movie screening at Museo Carraffa but this week wasn't nearly as good- it was an animated Argentinian film about retirement homes, I think I'll try again next week though.