The past few days have been a lot of settling in, a lot of experiencing, and a lot of learning that they do things a little differently here.  The Foundation for Sustainable Development was the group that organized our trip, found the NGO where we will be working, located host families and various other things; they had us go through an orientation which was something of a crash course in Argentine culture, the work of local NGOs and how to make the most of our time here.  Emily and Cameron are my two companions for the whole of this trip; we are all from UNC and we will all be working on similar projects with Biosfera.  Emily is documenting the trip in photos here: (or just for her whole flickr account).  Tuesday night was our last night in the hostel and on Wednesday afternoon, after our last day of orientation with FSD, Emily, Cameron and I were picked up by our respective host families and carried off into the thick of Argentine culture.

Now having only been here for a week; still having the perspective of a foreigner in the country there are a few things that stand out.  First off, the city’s garbage disposal system is a bit different from ours.  In NYC horse-drawn carriages are for romantic types or a pleasant jaunt around town, but here, they are the garbage disposal system.  The city’s populace simply throws the trash, usually in bags, onto the sidewalk and the drivers of the carriages pick it up, often with their children.  Another difference is that the city doesn’t have public bathrooms and using a store or restaurant bathroom isn’t an option unless you are a paying customer; now whether it is common I know not, but apparently, when necessary, some folks simply relieve themselves on the street or specifically on a mailbox as Emily and I saw just a day or two ago which required a suprised double-take.

Along with simply adjusting to the pace of life here things are all going well; even if that pace means that they are going a little slow.  We’ve spent two days at Biosfera thus far and haven’t done much besides have a “lluvia de ideas,” literally a rain of ideas, aka brainstorm, about the projects we will be working on for the next two months which, for me, currently include:  helping a mechanical engineering student from Canada with his wind turbine, building a homemade solar water heater from recycled materials and helping to fix the roof of the greenhouse here at the office which was broken by some local kids throwing rocks at the building, or most likely right now: devising a system of dividing and holding trash, recyclables including metal, plastic, paper, and then compostable organic matter for a few of the major government and commercial buildings of the city.

As the acclimitazion continues I am understanding more and more more of the Castellano language which initially seemed to be part Spanish, part Italian and part gibberish with a zchhhh thrown in there every couple seconds, but luckily it is beginning to make a bit of sense.  Now that it is finally la fin de semana and I have no obligitations tomorrow I’m hoping the weather holds and we get to go explore.


    • William
    • May 28th, 2011

    Those projects sound awesome, especially the wind turbine…good thing you already know how to build robots and stuff!

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